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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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12/20/2003

Get Out of the Kitchen

So now Howie turns out to be a crybaby....Amazing the dividends nailing Saddam brings,
Howard Dean appealed to fellow Democratic presidential candidates Saturday to stop the bitter attack politics that have come to dominate the race for the party's nomination. The race needs "a little character transplant," he said.

"It's not necessary to tear down the other opponents," said Dean, whose front-running campaign has come increasingly under fire from Democratic rivals.
sf chronicle
Poor bugger has been proven totally wrong on Iraq and Joe Lieberman is leading the charge to prove what a dope Dean is. Rather than proving Lieberman is wrong - which Dean can't do 'cause Saddam would still be in power if Dean was running the show - Dean asks everyone to "play nice". Grand. Just the sort of man the americans need for President.

I wonder if the Democrats will see the Dean cliff before they fall over it. I doubt it, they are much too busy saying Bush is an idiot.

It's not our clash of Civilizations

Our great mistake in the West is to assume that, because we don't believe there is a "clash of civilizations" between East and West, the East doesn't believe it either. But on balance, the Muslim worldview has always assumed such a "jihad", or civilizational struggle. Saddam, for them, is the last Arab leader who tried to use Western methods against the Western enemy -- who advanced his power through a Western-style army and weapons, and totalitarian methods learned from Stalin and Hitler (secular creatures of the West to this Eastern worldview). That path -- on which Egypt's Nasser and many other nationalists trod -- is now closed, definitively.

Two possible lessons can be derived from the closing of that path. One is that it is time to surrender entirely to the "Western way of life", for it cannot be resisted. The other is that resistance must increasingly reach within Islam's own traditions, for a final solution without compromise
david warren
In a way the tragedy of the Islamic, and most particularly, Arab, world is an inability to simply accept the fact they are outgunned economically, intellectually and historically by the West. The idea of fighting to the last Arab, of resisting modernity, of keeping faith with the 13th century exercises a powerful attraction for the Islamists in spite of their continuous string of defeats and humiliations. If, as Warren suggests, the East really believes there is a clash of civilizations, then it must also be dawning on the East that it is losing every round. Saddam in the pokey without a shot fired, Libya rolling over on WMDs, Osama's 2IC announcing Al Qaeda is in pursuit of Americans even in America....the fighting skills, political will and grasp of reality of the Arab world are all up for serious re-examination.

With luck that re-examination will begin with the proposition that the 13th century is not a reliable guide for the 21st. It will include the fact that terrorism is the ineffective weapon of the weak and that strength comes with time and maturity. The possibility of an enlightened Islam is perfectly real and perfectly terrifying for the zealots. For the moment they will try to terrorize their own reformers into silence and submission. But as the attractions of the West, of democracy, of religious tolerance begin to make themselves felt in the Middle East there is every possiblity that the nasty, medieval mullahs will begin to lose influence. Al Qaeda and Iraq and the Palestinians are all a part of the last gasp of un-enlightened Islam. Quickly, more quickly than most of the West dared hope, the fascists and reactionaries who drove the Taliban and the Iranians, al Qaeda and Libya, are being exposed as the hateful charlatans they are.

Enlightenments are never quick - they are generational at best. Islam is about to begin its enlightenment; it will take at least a generation and it will be worthwhile.

It is not the Headscarf

A startlingly good article on the French dilemma by Amir Taheri at NRO.

Why Europe Doesn't Matter

This war would be over far sooner if 350 million Europeans insisted on a modicum of behavior from Middle Eastern rogue regimes, rounded up and tried terrorists in their midst, deported islamofascists, cut off funding to killers on the West Bank, ignored Yasser Arafat ? and warned the next SOB who blew up Europeans in Turkey, North Africa, or Iraq that there was a deadly reckoning to come from the continent that invented the Western military tradition. Indeed, European sophistication and experience, combined with real power, could be a great aid to the West in its effort to promote liberal and consensual governments outside its shores. But if they do not even believe in the unique legacy of their civilization, then why should we ? much less their enemies?
victor davis hanson, nro
Well, England matters to some extent, but the wrinklies in Germany and France have lost the sense that their civilization is worth defending. So they have stopped defending it. Chirac's pathetic, twenty years too late, attempt to outlaw the conditions which give rise to women being forced to wear the hajib, demonstrated the decline of Europe. A vigorous culture would be able to say, "Wear whatever the hell you want. Doesn't matter. France is strong enough to include all of you."

One of the reasons why the New Europe is beginning to ascend is that it has not, as yet, imported hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants who want to enjoy the fruits of Western culture and economics while retaining the customs which have kept Islam mired in the Middle Ages. While Algerians were pouring into France in the 1960s, 70s and 80s - no one willingly immigrated to Poland or Latvia or Czechoslovakia. Much less Russia. So the Islamofascists in the ring of Parisian suburbs where the police do not dare enter, or the Midlands towns which have become Islamized, have no hold in the New Europe. The Netherlands may be an Islamic nation in twenty years; Poland or Hungary will never be.

When Eastern Europe was freed Westerners flocked there to enjoy an architecture which had been frozen in the amber of decades of Communist misrule. What had also been preserved, despite the best efforts of the despots, was a sense of European Culture. This was not multi-cultural. This was not terribly tolerant; rather it was a culture which longed to shuck off the Russians and get back to its European roots. While Western Europe was creating endless problems with guest workers and colonial immigration, the East longed for a Europe before WWII.

Old Europe, Western Europe, became a prisoner of its own liberality and its own uncertainty. After all, Old Europe, produced Germany which gassed the Jews and France which happily put its Jews on trains destined for unknown destinations. How could either nation honestly say it embodied a civilization worth protecting. The generation of 1968 in France and in Germany lost any sense of the glory of European civilization and buried it under an avalanche of deconstructed, culturally relative tropes which boiled down to European self hatred. Europeans looked at America as arrogant, bumptious and naive - simply because Americans were still fairly certain of their destiny as the leaders and inventors of the Free World. Such certainty seemed irrational to nations who, in fits of madness, had managed to deliberately kill millions of their own citizens.

Until Europe gets over it, accepts its barbarous past with the horror it should elicit, it will be stuck in the bog of self doubt which characterizes it today. Nations like England, which did not slaughter her Jews and offered refuge to at least a few of the Jews of Europe, are divorced from the deep self doubt the rest of what was Western Europe cannot help but feel. Which means the English, the Americans, the Australians, the Italians (because they dealt with their own fascism), the Spaniards (because they too dealt with their own fascism) and a host of other nations are moving into the next phase of the development of the West. The moment when the West says, "You bet we defend ourselves. We, our culture and our civilization, are worth defending because they embodiy the highest attainments of human civilization and human intellect. We will defend and expand our legacy."

There will be nations too intellectually and spiritually poor to remain in the West and carry on the traditions of Europe. Some will fall by the wayside, others will rebuild on the thousands of years of Western tradition.

Iraqi Dividend

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair are entitled to claim a large share of the credit for Libya's surprising announcement. To an extent that cannot be precisely measured, the fate of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted from power by the American military with British backing after endless prevaricating about Iraqi weapons programs, must have been an important consideration in Libya's decision.
new york times
One huge advantage of having invaded Iraq is that when the United States and England say something or want something, it is no longer possible to think they might just be kidding. The reason why the United Nations has rendered itself impotent is its complete failure to back up its resolutions with action. Partially this is political, France waving its veto and all; but mainly it is in the nature of a bureaucracy which does not have any clearly defined interests other than a continued flow of perks for the bureaucrats.

You do not have to impute low motives to the United Nations in order to explain its inaction. You merely have to consider that it is a world civil service. There are no warriors or ideologues at the UN. No neo-cons planning a radical revision of the entire middle east. No officer corps eager to engage. This is not an accident, it is an integral part of the United Nations idea. The United Nations is at its best when it provides humanitarian aid, food aid and infrastructure support to the emerging world and a forum in which the major powers are able to discuss their differences. But it is necessarily hopeless at overthrowing criminal regimes or stopping genocides. To do either would require more will than the United Nations has or, in my opinion, ought to have.

Libya disarmed as much because Colonel Qaddafi (and why doesn't he give himself a promotion?) realized that the Americans and the British were quite prepared to take out a regime which tried to develop, or appeared to be trying to develop, WMDs. He is not, apparently, an entirely stupid man.

I suspect it will be objected that neither America or Britain have been appointed or duly authorized to undertake this policeman's job. Which is true so far as it goes; but most of the world will rest easier when Libya joins the nations which are not trying to build weapons which can kill hundreds of thousands. The UN can now do what it does fairly well - inspect and verify Libya's compliance. The Allies can move on to the next police problem.

Just Go read Paul (bloody accent) Jané

It will warm your heart, crack a smile, make you laugh, make you glad you are not frozen in Montreal.

12/19/2003

Up in Smoke

The federal government will revive controversial legislation to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, Prime Minister Paul Martin says.
Which looks fine until,
But Martin said yesterday he wants higher fines for possession and tougher penalties for distribution and cultivation of pot. "I think that one's got to take a look at the fines," he said. "I think that you have to take a look at the quantities, and I think that there has to be a larger effort against the grow-ops (marijuana producers) and against those who distribute."
and then
Before the bill died on the Commons order paper, the federal government had been considering toughening the legislation by reducing the amount of so-called "personal pot" allowed to 10 grams from 15 grams; adding a minimum mandatory sentence for people convicted of running marijuana grow operations and imposing criminal sanctions rather than fines on those repeatedly caught with pot.

Martin yesterday invited a parliamentary committee to consider amendments to the legislation, principally to increase fines and reduce the amounts Canadians can possess for their own use.
toronto star
Higher fines, lower amounts for personal use, mandatory minimums....The problem here is that Martin and the Liberals are utterly on the fence about pot. On one hand they have lots of parents who don't want their kids sent to jail for a joint, on the other they have the DEA, assorted business interests and the police demanding that there be harsher penalties for growers and traffickers. What Martin is unwilling to do is begin the process of legalization in the face of this opposition.

The one certainty about Martin and the Liberals is that votes, not principle, will decide this and many other issues. At a guess the polling is telling the Liberals that full on de-criminalization puts up red flags on the social conservative end of the electorate. And orange ones for businesses trying to get access to the US. So a crippled version of the decriminalization legislation, just enough to keep junior out of the can, will be passed.

My own objection to the illegality of pot is the libertarian position that the state ought not to involve itself in the purely private conduct of its citizens. If someone wants to smoke pot privately, grand. My interest in pot is, I'm afraid, purely theoretical. Two tokes of even the worst pot and I fall gently asleep. It's either metabolic or a very well evolved defence mechanism designed to avoid listening to stoners.

RIAA holed at the waterline

ISP regardless what function it performs with respect to infringing material -- transmitting it ... caching it ... hosting it ... or locating it," the court wrote. "This argument borders upon the silly. "
full text in pdf
This decision will allow every subpoena issued by the RIAA to be quashed. As virtually all of these subpoenas were issued from the Washington registry, the fact this decision was made by the DC Circuit Court of Appeal leaves the RIAA in the position that everyone of its subpoena will be open to challenge.

This will take a little while to settle in, but the effect would appear to be that the RIAA cannot force the ISPs to disclose the identity of file sharers and without that power it cannot prosecute. Which means the "Sue your Customers" campaign will come to a grinding halt. Most importantly, the so-called "chilling effect" of the threat of lawsuits is toast. Interestingly, because the very root of the RIAA process is being attacked, the effects of the Court's ruling will also be felt by the motion picture and software industries. If you can't find out who is sharing files then you cannot prosecute. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

Arabs Brought Low

Kuwaiti columnist Ahmed al-Robei expressed anger at such talk of a hurt afflicting all Arabs. He wrote in the pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat that the worst thing on Middle East satellite channels since Saddam's arrest was the idea of ``humiliation to Arab dignity''

He added that Arabs were continuing to ignore that the Iraqi leader was a villain. ``The mass graves are not enough to wake the minds of some of us. Are we people who adore despots? It is a sad question,'' he wrote.
the guardian
It's not easy to have put your faith in a series of strawmen. Especially when that faith has cost individuals their personal dignity and, often, their lives.
Bahraini columnist Mohammed Jaber Al-Ansari wrote Thursday in the London-based daily Al-Hayat that Saddam's arrest posed a challenge to all Arabs.

``Saddam is out of the hole,'' he wrote, ``but we have to get him out of the corners of our political psychology, which is still draining us with its nightmares.

``This is the test,'' he added, ``and it's one the Americans can't take for us.''

The Long and Short of it

One year ago, this Security Council was divided between those who wanted to appease Saddam Hussein and those who wanted to hold him accountable. The United Nations as an organization failed to help rescue the Iraqi people from a murderous tyranny that lasted over 35 years and today we are unearthing thousands of victims in horrifying testament to that failure. The United Nations must not fail the Iraqi people again. After eight months of liberation, Iraqis are slowly beginning to get back on their feet with the help of their allied friends, and they are eagerly awaiting the help of the international community, led by the United Nations. And so we ask you today: please put aside your differences, pull together and work with us and all those who have contributed and sacrificed so much, to realize our shared objectives of a sovereign, united and democratic Iraq.
iraqi foreign minister hoshyar zebari at the UN spartacus
(via Tim Blair)Meanwhile, back in England, Clare Short was scheming about how to make sure that the overthrow of Saddam was legal, that Tony wan't sexing up any dossiers and that the French were happy.
When was the breaking point for you? At one point you had decided to stay in Cabinet even though you had misgivings.

It was clear we were going to war, and you can't criticize once you've got your troops on the ground and your soldiers' lives are at risk. I rang up the BBC and said Tony was being reckless. It was my last throw of the dice - I was going out of the government. That was before we went to war. There's some suggestion that the House of Commons could have stopped Britain from joining in with a vote, but the Conservative Party was backing the government. It was never (a) winnable (vote). The prime minister spent a lot of time trying to persuade me not to go, saying war was inevitable, misleading me about the French position, and then saying that the UN resolution was completely and utterly impossible, saying, "You can't stop it, but the reconstruction of Iraq is so important and you can make a significant contribution to that. Please help us to do that right." He absolutely wouldn't listen to me about what needed to be done, about the role of the UN; how he had to get the IMF and the World Bank involved; how to internationalize it and bring the whole of the international community together.
clare short interviewed by bill cameron, the walrus magazine
I wonder what Mr. Zebari would have to say to Ms. Short...

Polish Joke

Both the political and intellectual elites agree, though, that supporting the U.S. is fundamentally in Poland's interest. When the French ambassador complained about Warsaw's pro-American stance, a former dissident and foreign minister, Bronislaw Geremek, otherwise a sworn Francophile, was rumoured to have replied, "Do you seriously suggest that we entrust the security of Poland to the French army?" --a stinging reminder of France's failure to come to Poland's aid at the outset of World War II.
dawid warszawski, the walrus magazine
A rather telling article about why the Poles and the Spainards put not their faith in French promises.

Idle Speculation

So I was wondering to myself why James Baker was sent to Germany and France to see if a deal could be done on Iraq's debt. After all, Bush has perfectly good Cabinet secretaries. My own thought is that Baker, having proven his mettle and loyalty in Florida and having as high a security clearance as you can get, was sent to get a deal armed with two small briefcases. One for Germany, one for France. In each would be the intelligence product of nine months of digging in Saddam's files and talking to the pack of cards. In his direct, Texas corporate lawyer way Baker's task would have been fairly easy: "We know you broke the UN sanctions. We can prove it. These are copies of the documents. We would like you to agree to debt relief." No reason to be subtle. After all, the day before he left the Pentagon told the Axis of Weasels there would be no Iraq gravy for them.

David Olive writing in the Toronto Star describes Baker,
It was Baker, 73, who built Bush Sr.'s genuine coalition to evict Saddam from Kuwait. He is known and trusted in "Old Europe," and his Houston law firm counts most Mideast leaders among its clients. And he reports directly to Bush.the toronto star
This is very much a man who can pull the trigger and Old Europe knows it. Now Olive sees Baker's mission as a nightmare for Pentagon hawks; I am much less sure. I suspect that this was an instance of bad cop, worse cop where Baker gave the appearance of being Old Europe's old friend while delivering the ransom note. The Bushies play hardball and no one plays it better than Baker.

12/18/2003

Hazy

That began to change in 2001, when Stanhill and his colleague Shabtai Cohen at the Volcani Centre in Bet Dagan, Israel collected all the available evidence together and proved that, on average, records showed that the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface had gone down by between 0.23 and 0.32% each year from 1958 to 1992.
the guardian
Global dimming. Oh great, something else to worry about. In fact, there seems to be some evidence the effect was real and is now subsiding. The cause? Likely fine particulate matter - soot and haze - blocking sunlight before it can reach the gound. Impact?
what impact could global dimming have? If the effect continues then it's certainly bad news for solar power, as darker, cloudier skies will reduce its meagre efficiency still further. The effect on photosynthesis, and so on plant and tree growth, is more complicated and will probably be different in various parts of the world....."In the northern climate everything becomes light limiting and a reduction in solar radiation becomes a reduction in productivity," Cohen says. "In greenhouses in Holland, the rule of thumb is that a 1% decrease in solar radiation equals a 1% drop in productivity. Because they're light limited they're always very busy cleaning the tops of their greenhouses."
Hmmm.

Fisk for Skeet

In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq this year, we journalists -- and all praise to Paul Wood of the BBC for his part in this -- got our hands on videos of some of the most pornographic violence any of us would be able to stomach. For 45 minutes, Saddam's security police whipped and beat half-naked Shiite prisoners in the courtyard of their "Mukhabarat" headquarters.

They are covered in blood, screaming and whimpering. They are kicked and their testicles crushed and pieces of wood forced between their teeth as they are pushed into sewers and clubbed on the face.

The videos show that there were spectators, uniformed Baathists, even a Mercedes parked in the background under the shade of a silver birch tree.

I showed a few seconds of these films at lectures in Ireland and the United States this summer and some members of the audience left, nauseated by the evidence of Saddam's perverted nature. Who, after all, were these videos made for? For Saddam? Or for the victims' families to watch, so that they may suffer again the torture of their loved ones?
robert fisk, seattle pi (via instapundit)
Which rather makes one wonder why Fisk was so opposed to the war to oust Uncle Cuddles.

Hats Off

With a foulard tip to Kathy Shaidle,
The foulard should be seen as a political symbol in the same way as Nazi casquettes, Mao Zedong caps and Che Guevara berets were in their times. It has never been sanctioned by any Islamic religious authority and is worn by a tiny minority of Muslim women.

It was first created in Lebanon in 1975 by Imam Mussa Sadr, an Iranian mullah who had become leader of the Shi'ite community there. Sadr wanted the foulard to mark out Shi'ite girls so that they would not be molested by the Palestinians who controlled southern Lebanon at the time.

In 1982, the Lebanese-designed headgear was imposed by law on all Iranian girls and women, including non-Muslims, aged six years and above. Thus, Iranian Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian women are also forced to wear a headgear that is supposed to be an Islamic symbol. The Khomeinist claim is that women's hair has to be covered because it emits rays that turn men "wild with sex."

From the mid 1980s, the foulard appeared in North Africa and Egypt before moving east to the Persian Gulf, the Indo-Pakistani Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It made its first appearance in France in 1984, brought in by Iranian Mujahedin asylum seekers. Today, thousands of women, especially new converts, wear it in Europe and North America.

That the foulard did not exist before 1975 is easy to verify. Muslim women could refer to their family albums to see that none of their female parents and ancestors ever wore it.
amir taheri, new york post
I had read Taheri on the headscarf before and was delighted to find this piece. While I am still inclined, in principle, to say people should be able to wear anything they want, Taheri underlines why this is now such a big deal in France,
A survey by a group of Muslim women in the Paris suburb of Courneuve last May shows that 77 per cent of the girls who wore the foulard did so because they feared that if they did not they would be beaten up or even disfigured by Islamist vigilantes. Girls refusing the foulard are often followed by gangs of youth shouting "putain" (whore) at them.

In some suburbs, the Islamist Fascists have appointed an Emir al-Momeneen (Commander of the Faithful) and set up armed units that the French state fears to confront. These groups tell Muslims not to allow their womenfolk to be examined by male doctors, not to donate blood or receive blood from Jews or Christians, and to prevent girls from studying science, swimming or taking part in group sports.
If the effect of Chirac's desire to ban all forms of headress is to reduce this sort of intimidation I'm all for it. The state does have a role in protecting individuals from organized intimidation of any sort. And this smacks of intimidation.

Declinism

Perhaps it was because I was there in the midst of the capture of Saddam...but the storied anti-Americanism now seemed almost the pathetic gesture of a failed state. To see the downcast newscaster on TV3 searching for something reassuringly cynical to say about the arrest of the Iraqi mass murderer was comical (she implied Saddam had been - unfairly - impoverished and his capture didn’t mean much because he
"only" had $750,000 in cash in the hole with him).

France is in bad shape. Strange as this sounds, it reminded me in a way of some of my visits to the Soviet Union in the late eighties. The range of opinion in the press is about as extensive as the difference used to be between Pravda and Izvestia. Of course, that’s an exaggeration, but I had the sense more than ever of a society ruled by a nomenklatura (who more Politburo-like than Chirac and de Villepin) with, in this case, a populace of semi-employed drudges whiling away hours smoking, drinking watery espresso and debating Derrida in grimy cafes.
roger simon
Simon is just back from Paris and he is not encouraging.

Skeet Shooting: An Idiot all our own

Out here on the Left Coast we have our fair share of tree huggers and protestors who are willing to tell you it really is "All about Oil"; but this looney's letter printed in the Vancouver Sun on Tuesday December 16, proves that even the actual news takes several years to reach Vancouver. Ms. Skeet, I'm talking to you....
As Saddam Hussein faces trial for his crimes against the Iraqi people, let's not forget that for 12 long years the United States and Britain maintained a policy of continuous war and draconian sanctions that killed more than 1.5 million Iraqis. Sanctions killed an estimated 5,000 children under the age of five each month, and left 25 percent of all Iraqi children irreparably damaged by chronic malnutrition.
vancouver sun
The sanctions were imposed by the United Nations following as part of a cease fire agreement which ended Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. There is no evidence at all that the sanctions killed 1.5 million people. This is false at two levels: first, if we do not include the people Saddam's regime actually went out and killed itself, it is not clear any more Iraqis died following the first Iraq War than would have normally. Second, given that there is significant evidence that Saddam and his regime were diverting "Oil for Food" proceeds to their own pockets, any increase in the death rate must be laid at the regimes feet. The 5000 children a month line is pure propaganda. (The best summary of Saddam's big lie about the deaths from sanctions is by Matt Welch and available at Reason Magazine online.)
From the early 1990s, the U.S. and Britain deflected all blame for the terrible suffering in Iraq. It was Saddam's fault, they insisted, because he would not abide by their directives and dismantle his weapons of mass destruction so that the sanctions could be lifted. Now, it appears that for years the Iraqi government might have been telling the truth when it argued that it had no such weapons.
Again, it was the United Nations which imposed the sanctions and which was unable to carry out the inspections which Saddam had agreed to as part of the ceasefire deal. Britain and the United States did conduct a really evil campaign of prohibiting Saddam's forces from flying in the North and the South of Iraq. The Western war mongers cited Uncle Cuddle's proclivity to use helicopter gunships to shoot dissident Kurds, Shi'ites and Marsh Arabs from on high to justify this beastly infringement of Iraqi sovereignty.
For the next while, we're likely to be awash in details of Saddam's crimes and the ins and outs of international law as it applies to him. But let's not forget that justice means that laws must be applied equally to all.
Awash, but not bamboozled: while there is certainly a case for trying Saddam for crimes against humanity and waging illegal wars of aggression, the Iraqi people have several hundred thousand murder and conspiracy to murder charges to proffer. It is not clear why those people should not be allowed to try Saddam in whatever manner they see fit. He is, after all, one of theirs. And, Miss Skeet, in her rush to apply the majesty of the law equally seems to forget that Saddam proceeded in a somewhat extra-judicial manner when he ran the rape rooms, the people shredders and the kiddie torture.
The U.S. and Britain imposed lethal punishment on the Iraqi people to get to Saddam. This is a crime against humanity. The Geneva Conventions strictly prohibit the collective punishment of civilian populations, even in war. If we want to look at the legal technicalities of war crimes and genocide, there is plenty of fodder for a case against the U.S. and Britain there, too.
Now we get Miss Skeet's real point - Saddam isn't the criminal - America and Britain are. She is wrong on the facts; but worse she is wrong on the politics and the international law. The UN imposed the sanctions and the UN authorized severe consequences if Saddam failed to comply with Security Council resolutions. There was no significant targeting of Iraqi civilians during the war and, if anything, the allied troops took casualties in an attempt to avoid killing civilians. Genocide? Where are the bodies? Well, perhaps Miss Skeet would like to claim the contents of the mass graves as evidence of the American and British beastliness. And she may even believe it.
It is time we understood that double standards and hypocrisy are to blame for a great deal of global animosity towards the West. If a war crimes tribunal is created to prosecute crimes against the Iraqi people, there is a long list of western leaders who should be sharing the docket with Saddam.
Miss Skeet wants to strike a moral equivalence between the West and Saddam's regime. She has not a shred of evidence but it seems she really feels there is something there. The double standard she alludes to is typical of the left - a Muslim third world dictator is allowed a pass on twenty years of murdering his own citizens and invading his neighbours - Western leaders, on no evidence at all, should be hauled before a war crimes tribunal.

Skeet crosses the never too clear line between commitment and delusion. But the oddest part of it is the Vancouver Sun actually printed the letter. My own conspiracy theory is they realized the woman was barking mad, out of date, out of touch and the perfect person to discredit the left. They are awfully clever round the editorial desk at the Sun. Awfully clever.



Bless me Father For I have Sinned

There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.

Eden, the fall of man, the loss of grace, the coming doomsday---these are deeply held mythic structures. They are profoundly conservative beliefs. They may even be hard-wired in the brain, for all I know. I certainly don't want to talk anybody out of them, as I don't want to talk anybody out of a belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God who rose from the dead. But the reason I don't want to talk anybody out of these beliefs is that I know that I can't talk anybody out of them. These are not facts that can be argued. These are issues of faith.
michael crichton
As ever, Colby Cosh finds the interesting stuff. What is interesting is that this same analysis can be run on most of the sacred positions on the Left. Bush could score 210 on an IQ test - he's a moron. Buckets of nerve gas could be found in Mosul - they were planted by the CIA. Muslim immigrants could be found to be ritually murdering Jews in Paris - it would be a racist lie. So it goes.

Possibly the clearest dividing line between right and left lies on the question of what constitutes fact or evidence. In general, on the right, if you show someone evidence that contradicts "x" they are at least willing to look at that fact. They might test its truthfulness, look its sources in the teeth, wonder if another interpretation might not explain away an inconvenient truth; but if none of that works, they generally will change their minds. On the left, the entire structure of truth is up for grabs. After all, isn't truth a cultural construct? Isn't male truth somehow different from female truth. Isn't truth in a Muslim or a Third World context importantly distinct from truth in a privileged Western context. Surely, the left is happy to point out, George W. Bush is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as Saddam. And if you bring fact or evidence to bear against these positions there is every danger that you will be accused of failing to appreciate the position of the other. That you are operating in a logocentric world and are insensitive to the feelings of the people you are arguing with.

Crichton's point that environmentalism has the hallmarks of religion, is the beginning of a deep analysis of the profound dysfunction of the left in American and Canadian society. The religious fervor with which the true believers embrace the Michael Moores and the Naomi Kleins, hungry for a word of explanation as to how everything could be going so wrong, is eerily similar to the superstitious seeking reassurance from the parish priest in the face of changes they cannot understand. On the left, faith is what matters. Facts, whatever they are, fall to the empiricists and pragmatists of the right who, lets face it, are a little short on the vision thing. Instead they just try to get the job done.


12/17/2003

Secular Chirac

Despite protests from Muslim leaders, France must outlaw Islamic head coverings, Jewish skullcaps and other obvious religious signs in schools and regulate them in the workplace, President Jacques Chirac announced Wednesday.

Such action, the French president said in a televised national address, is needed to reaffirm France's secular foundations. ``It is not negotiable,'' he asserted.
the guardian
Seething to follow. I am completely split on this one - I think it should be everyone's right to do whatever they feel their God requires so long as that does not involve flying airplanes into office buildings. That said, the French, and many other European nations have imported a real problem by way of Muslim immigration.
Young French from immigrant families are refused work ``because of the sound of their name,'' Chirac said. He asked: ``How can we ask their inhabitants to recognize themselves in the nation and in its values when they live in inhuman urban ghettos, where the lack of law or the law of the strongest pretends to rein?''
Headscarves are not the issue - they are the symbol of France's complete failure to either limit immigration or alter itself to accommodate and integrate immigrants. Chirac does not like accommodation,
He rejected the Anglo-Saxon model of integration - admired by some French Muslims - where ethnic communities guard their customs and separateness.

``I refuse to let France take that path. It would sacrifice its heritage. It would compromise its future. It would lose its soul,'' Chirac said.
Arguably he does not understand integration very well. In practice, the entire multicultural routine is played out over three generations where there is effective integration. But that integration does not allow for "separateness"; rather it looks to break down the barriers between communities.

What has happened in France, England and number of other European nations is that the headlong rush to allow immigrants in during the 1970's and 1980's without there being a realistic assessment of the needs of the rest of the society, has lead to entire suburbs and even towns being effectively ghettoized. Which means the people living in those areas are cut off from the mainstream society. In France the situation has reached the point where there are suburbs where the police simply do not go. These are the breeding grounds for "homegrown" Islamic militants as well as any number of other social problems.

Banning headscarves is not even the beginning of a solution to the problem and, in fact, may encourage the Muslim immigrants to be even more isolated. Having the manners, morals and militancy of a little bit of Algeria in Parisian suburbs does French political and cultural life no good at all. But it is not at all clear what can be done about it. So Chirac attacks the symbol rather than doing the hard work of integration. Impasse.

The Spider's Web

Lost in the delight of Uncle Cuddle's capture was this item in the Telegraph,
Iraq's coalition government claims that it has uncovered documentary proof that Mohammed Atta, the al-Qaeda mastermind of the September 11 attacks against the US, was trained in Baghdad by Abu Nidal, the notorious Palestinian terrorist.

Details of Atta's visit to the Iraqi capital in the summer of 2001, just weeks before he launched the most devastating terrorist attack in US history, are contained in a top secret memo written to Saddam Hussein, the then Iraqi president, by Tahir Jalil Habbush al-Tikriti, the former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

The handwritten memo, a copy of which has been obtained exclusively by the Telegraph, is dated July 1, 2001 and provides a short resume of a three-day "work programme" Atta had undertaken at Abu Nidal's base in Baghdad.

In the memo, Habbush reports that Atta "displayed extraordinary effort" and demonstrated his ability to lead the team that would be "responsible for attacking the targets that we have agreed to destroy".
telegraph
This has been blogged extensively but given relatively little coverage in the mainstream media (boy, am I surprised.) The key aspect of the Atta memo is political. If the story can be backed up it would prove out one of the causis belli of the Iraq war would be proven out. There would be a direct link between Saddam's regime and 9/11. For both Blair and Bush only finding a bunker full of WMDs would have greater political impact. For the anti-war left this kicks out another argument that Blair and Bush somehow lied their way into the war. It's a story which should be followed closely.

Lazy Bison

One study showed that in the wake of the grooming of 180 miles of park roads to accommodate snowmobilers, the distribution of bison in the park "changed drastically" apparently as they chose to use the easily traversed paths rather than other routes that took them through deep snow.
nyt
I am just enough of an unregenerated snob to completely approve of the Federal Court Judge's decision to effectively ban snowmobiles from Yellowstone Park. Between snowmobiles and jetskis great stretches of otherwise beautiful country is filled with the high pitched whine of IC engines. The very reason you need places like Yellowstone, along with the bison, is to get away from the yammerheads who think you can only have fun by burning hydrocarbons and leaving the muffler at home. As for the bison, well, they can trudge through the snow as they have for the last 10,000 years. In silence.


Dispatches from the Lines in the Real War

Delighted as I am that Saddam has been smoked out of his hole, the real war continues.
As we bear down on Iraq, Al Qaeda is bearing down on us. Chatter on Web sites affiliated with Al Qaeda reveals that the jihadists are constantly monitoring America, studying and gauging our reactions to intelligence we gather on them and adapting their plans accordingly. One recent posting read: "The enemy has set up special bodies to analyze and correlate all this information and deduce the conclusions from them. If we know the importance of the information for the enemy, even if it is a small piece of information, then we can understand how important are the information that we know."
Bruce Hoffman, nyt
While I suspect there will be evidence that Iraq did indeed support Al Qaeda, the fact is decapitating the Baathist regime was simply an item on the terrorism "to do" list. Afghanistan was first, Iraq second, now finding and eliminating bin Laden and his terrorist commanders may be third - of fourteenth.

The items which may intrude include the removal of the Syrian regime, the neutralization of the Palestinian problem - one bullet for the Troll of RamallahTM, several for the terrorists in Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the assorted other jihadis. There is also the question of Pakistan and its conflicted security services. And the issue of how best to create a stable democracy in Iraq and spread that idea to places like Iran. Osama is in his spider hole and he is dangerous; but he may not be the top priority. Because the defeat of Islamic fundamentalism and fascism will be more about the destruction of the issues which drive it than the elimination of the people who practice it.

12/16/2003

Hearts and Minds

In Tikrit yesterday this was rather well expressed by an American officer. A small crowd had gathered to demonstrate support for the captured dictator. "Saddam is our hearts!" they shouted, "Saddam is in our blood!" To which the American apparently quietly replied, "Saddam is in our jail!"
David Aaronovitch, the guardian
via tim blair
At a guess the Ba'athists are feeling rather like Saddam is looking. Beaten.

Whack a Mole

I have shifted my Adsense ads up and to the right. If you see the ad for the Howard Dean book show your support by hitting the ad several times - it will cost you nothing and will cost the Dean people a few pennies a whack....couldn't happen to a nicer candidate.

Steyn is such a meanie

But assume, for the sake of argument, this is the real Saddam Hussein. What happens now depends on his state of mind. He may say nothing. Or it may be that, after eight months on the lam, bumping around in the back of donkey carts, sleeping in smelly hovels, short of sycophants, deprived of the company of his fellow psychopaths Uday and Qusay, his chums in Moscow and Paris refusing to accept any collect calls, pining for the metaphorical full Monica he used to get from visiting western shills like British leftie MPs Tony Benn and George Galloway, after all that he may be grateful for a chance to yak about this and that to various A-list interrogators. He knows surely that it’s his last chance to play the bigshot, before trial by his former subjects, and then gaol and (I hope) execution.
steyn online
How the National Post could have let Steyn go still baffles me. He is just so spot on and so funny while driving in the last rusty nail,
As for the western naysayers, let me go back to what I wrote in July, after the killing of Uday and Qusay and the Democratic Party reaction: ?If they’re still droning on like this on the day Rummy’s passing out souvenir vials of Saddam’s DNA, they’ll be heading for oblivion.? Well, we’re not yet at the souvenir DNA stage but the inability of a serious political party to resist the siren songs of the Noam Chomsky/Michael Moore/Euro left is showing signs of becoming terminal.

12/15/2003

Ads, Well PSA's

After Kathy Shaidle's experience with the folks at Google I was more than sceptical - I'd applied and been turned down which only increased my scepticism. But now they are willing to take on an urban conservative so who am I to argue. Click on your way out....I am actually thinking of dropping in a popup....no, just kidding, really....

Arab Pride

"On the one hand, we are very happy, relieved that this man is out of the picture," said Khaled Batarfi, managing editor of Al Madina, a newspaper in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

"On the other hand, to see him so humiliated -- he is an Arab president after all," he said. "Whether you love him or hate him, he is still a member of the family. He did not fight like his sons; he went like a dog or a cave man, so they feel sorry more for Arab pride than for the man himself."
taipei times
For a proud people, the Arabs certainly manage to turn up some losers, bullies and petty tyrants. And then, and this is where the humiliation should bite hardest, they cannot deal with the problem themselves. Pitiful.

On Duty

I will never forget the lessons of September the 11th, 2001. Terrorists attacked us. They killed thousands of our fellow citizens. And it could happen again. And therefore I will deal with threats, threats that are emerging and real.

We gave Saddam Hussein plenty of time to heed the demands of the world and he chose defiance. He did. He said, "Forget it. I don't care what the United Nations has said over a decade. I don't care about all the resolutions passed." He chose defiance; we acted.

And I acted because, I repeat, I have a duty to protect this country and I will continue to protect the country so long as I'm the president of the United States.

A free and peaceful Iraq is part of protecting America, because I told you before, and I truly believe this, this will be a transforming event in a part of the world where hatred and violence are bred, a part of the world that breeds resentment.
President Bush, press conference, washington post
This is not a man who it is wise to take for granted.

To Bed

A great day for the people of Iraq. Potentially a great day for the Middle East. One down. Several thousand to go.

I Want a Change of Venue

Al-Rabii noted that the US led occupation authorities have suspended the death penalty until there is a sovereign government, which is expected by July 1 under a deal with the coalition.

"We will get sovereignty on the 30th of June, and I can tell you, he could be executed on the 1st of July." said al-Rabii, a long-time human rights activist.
the scotsman
Well, Uncle cuddles was never much good at the presumption of innocence either. And I do note the word "could" rather than "will". But I sense a certain eagerness. Comes from digging your dad out of a mass grave or having a sister taken. al-Rabii is a Shi'ite, the Kurds have their own stories. If there is one thing which will unite Iraq it will be the simple desire for vengeance. As I recall Mussolini, whose crimes against his own people pale compared to Hussein's, was hung by his heels...Hmmm.

From the Guardian

Despite all his previous bluster and bravado, his firm insistence that he would never, ever be taken alive, Saddam went quietly, with not a shot fired. Perhaps, at the age of 66, he no longer had the stomach for it. Perhaps he was simply caught napping. Or perhaps, when it came right down to it, Saddam was just a coward, as bullies usually are....
Saddam's capture does not wipe that contentious slate clean. Indeed, it presents a unique opportunity to establish at last the truth of US and British claims about his weapons of mass destruction and his links to al-Qaida and to September 11. It may also in time reveal much about his many overt and covert dealings with the west when, before his 1990 invasion of Kuwait, he was treated as a sort of ally rather than as a foe.

Saddam, happily, now has no say over Iraq's future. But he has an awful lot to say about its past. It is vital that the world hear his full, unexpurgated testimony. Saddam was a horror of our age. But the guilt for his deeds is not entirely his alone.
the guardian
The Guardian, with its strong left bias, has also upheld a relatively objective, even-handed, view of the War in Iraq. The humiliating capture of the shotless Saddam is contrasted with what Saddam know and might tell about Western nations' historic complicity with his regime. The twist, of course, is in the last line of the leader. The left credentials of the Guardian require its leader writer to spread the blame. As well he might; but for the last decade that blame will, I hope, land at the feet of the French, the Germans, the Russians and, perhaps, previous British and American administrations.

Embargo breaking, arms dealing and off the table deals may all be revealed - and I am still hoping to blog about the Telegraph's revelation that Mohammad Atta, the 9/11 operational mastermind, may have trained in Iraq - but the reality is no one in the West, not even the French, helped Hussein establish his decade long slaughter of peoples whose only crime was to oppose his rule. That will be the sole count of the charge against Hussein brought in a properly established court of the state of Iraq. The rest of charges - including blocade breaking if warranted - should be heard at the Hague. But justice for Saddam can only come at the hands of the people whose parents and children he murdered.

Oh, The Trial

It would be good if some of those questions could now be resolved. And it is critical that the dictator be given a fair and open trial to exact justice for his crimes, to give some solace to the people he terrorized and to give pause to other despots. The trial must be above any suspicion that it is merely an exercise in retribution or propaganda. While every effort should be made to maximize Iraqi involvement, Iraq's judicial institutions are too weak to handle the case. Although last week's creation of an Iraqi war crimes tribunal was a promising step, we would suggest this trial be conducted in Iraq under United Nations auspices by international and Iraqi judges. A tribunal picked by Americans would lack legitimacy.
nyt
The man is accused of killing 400,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis. He directed the apparatus which tortured far more. While Iran and Kuwait and the Kurds and the Shi'ites and the Marsh Arabs have a right to a piece of him, it is Iraq as a nation which has first dibs on his trial. The condesention of the French and the UN and now the New York Times towards the right of the Iraqi people to try the bastard is a classic example of the left's remarkable prejudice. The poor benighted Iraquis can't be trusted to run a trial withour UN involvement....if this is not racial prejudice I can't imagine what is. And, as for revenge and victor's justice....tell it to the Kurds, or the Shi'ites, or the Marsh Arabs or the parents who had their kid's body parts delivered home in a bag.

12/14/2003

Liberman Gets It

This news also makes clear the choice the Democrats face next year. If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would still be in power today, not in prison, and the world would be a more dangerous place.

If we Democrats want to win back the White House and take this country forward, we have to show the American people that we're prepared to keep them safe. I consistently supported Saddam's removal for the past decade, and am prepared to do what it takes to win the war on terrorism at home and abroad."
joe2004.com
Bye, Bye Howie....The Democrats have a choice and that choice does not involve cutting and running or inviting the French to "help" out. Unless, of course, they have a real death wish and want to ensure a Republican in the White House until 2050.

Germany

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who opposed the U.S.-led war, wrote to George W. Bush saying: "With great happiness I have learnt of the capture of Saddam Hussein. I congratulate you on the successful mission.

"Saddam Hussein has brought unspeakable suffering over his own people and the whole region.
cnn
And this would explain your failure to assist in his removal, eh Gerhard? Not unspeakable enough perhaps...maybe if he'd herded the Kurds into camps first?

Troll of RamallahTM

The Palestinian Authority declined to comment on the arrest of Saddam, but a senior PA official in Ramallah said Yasser Arafat was "saddened" by the news from Baghdad. "President Arafat was sad to see an Arab leader in an humiliating position," said the official.
jerusalem post
Doesn't get much more humiliating than being trapped like a rat down a hole and not firing a shot.

Deny, Deny, Deny

Asked about the use of chemical weapons against the Kurds in the northern Iraqi town of Halabja in 1988, in which an estimated 5,000 people were killed, Mr. Hussein said this was the work of Iran, at war with Iraq at the time.

Asked about the mass graves of tens of thousands of Iraqis uncovered since Mr. Hussein was toppled from power in the American-led offensive this spring, Mr. Rubaie said that Mr. Hussein answered: "Ask their relatives. They were thieves and they ran away from the battlefields with Iran and from the battlefields of Kuwait."
nyt
Right...Iranians, thieves, cowards...that's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Happy Iraqis

A good set of pictures at smh.com.au
. Watch out for sky bullets.

Like a rat

"He was just caught like a rat," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of 4th Infantry Division, which led the hunt in the area for one of the world's most wanted men and conducted the raid that caught him. "When you're in the bottom of a hole, you can't fight back." ap

Meanwhile in Palestine

But Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, a senior leader of the militant Hamas group, said the United States would "pay a very high price for the mistake" of capturing Saddam.

"What the United States did is ugly and despicable. It is an insult to all Arabs and an insult to Muslims," he told Reuters.
reuters
One more reason for the Israelis to continue targeting the professional terrorists who are committed to war at any cost and running Hamas.

The Real Impact

In the Yemeni capital San`a, Mohammed Abdel Qader Mohammadi, 50, a teacher, said he was surprised that the arrest took place as it did, with Saddam caught lying down in a tiny, underground hiding place then videotaped by the Americans, wild-haired and puffy-eyed, as a doctor checks inside his mouth.

"I expected him to resist or commit suicide before falling into American hands," Mohammadi said. "He disappointed a lot of us, he's a coward."
yahoo/ap
Other than the French, the news of Saddam's capture has hit the Arab world hard. The fact he was taken kicks the prop out of the Scarlett Pimpernel of Arabia reputation he was beginning to develop; but the manner of his capture is a kick in the crotch for the militant Arab "street". For all of his bluster, Saddam turns out to have less courage than his sons.

Now, on to Osama in whatever spiderhole he is cowering in.

Reaction

Jeff Jarvis is rounding up reaction including lamers on the Left and at the BBC; my favourite comes from the unlikely source of al-Jazeera
Amar Al-Hakim, Member of the Central Council of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq:
"The Iraqi nation is happy and the sound of gunfire indicate the Iraqi's people's joy and happiness. His arrest will put an end to military and terrorist attacks and the Iraqi nation will achieve stability. We want Saddam to get what he deserves. I believe he will be sentenced to hundreds of death sentences at a fair trial because he's responsible for all the massacres and crimes in Iraq."

Christmas Comes Early

Saddam is found hiding at the bottom of the hole, which was about six to eight feet deep and wide enough space for a person to lie down inside. Saddam is captured without resistance.
>npr
I didn't believe it when I first read it.