The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Friday, May 28, 2004


              The Liberals' Creed
Robert Alt lists the beliefs of the Left: The Liberals’ Creed. Obviously faith trumps logic.
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              Israel and Europe
Caroline Glick today writes about Israel's relationship with Europe. Europe has set itself up not as a mediator or neutral, but as an enemy.
There is a yawning gap between the EU's rhetoric and its actual policies. Its rhetoric purports to work toward a workable peace between Israel and its neighbors. Its actual policy is to support the Arabs against Israel. Indeed, Europe has a three-tiered approach to the Arab world, each policy layer of which is inherently inimical to the notion of fairness and balance in relation to Israel.

Since the 1970s, Europe has embraced appeasement of the Arabs as a central plank of its foreign policy. This became entrenched in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. As well, following the trail blazed by Charles de Gaulle, sympathy to the Arabs and hostility towards Israel has served Europe's interest in differentiating itself from the US. Because the US is committed to European security through the NATO alliance, Europe can curry favor with the Arabs from whom the US will protect it. At the same time, it can deflect Arab wrath onto the US, which is unwilling – for strategic and moral reasons – to sever its alliance with Israel.
Yet, Israel continues to deal with Europe ignoring this, and trying to please Europeans.
When the EU condemns Israel, as it did last week, Israel may express revulsion. Yet, it continues to call for Europe to play an active role in the search for peace. In so doing, Israel maintains a fiction of European friendship and fair-mindedness in the pursuit of its Middle East agenda that simply do not exist.

Were Israel to treat Europe as the hostile force it is, it could craft a workable policy. This should be aimed at strengthening the voices in Europe calling for an abandonment of anti-Semitism and a reckoning with the actual threat that the increasingly radicalized Islamic world manifests to its own security.

As it stands, the current policy of sweeping European hostility under the rug of diplo-speak cocktail parties and press conferences is detracting from Israel's national security interests. The government's policy of denial is legitimizing hateful voices and blocking voices of reason to be heard above the din of anti-Zionist propaganda. At the same time, Israeli tolerance for European hostility strengthens the forces of appeasement in the US and weakens those allies who understand the strategic necessity of supporting Israel.
|| Nudnik 9:44 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Perceptions vs. Reality
From the beginning of the run up to the Iraq war to the current execution of the occupation and reconstruction, the Administration has been criticized for doing things wrong - "too few troops, too little planning, and dilatory democratic reform led us into the present 'quagmire' — as if our present problems were strategic rather than tactical flaws or a condescending misreading of the Arab Street." Victor Hanson maintains that this argument is completely incorrect; that the main mistakes we have made have been due to lack of decisiveness and poor management of the perceptions of events.
Here our greatest weakness has been the half-measure: the need to consult all the ill-informed in the Middle East rather than a few of sound judgment; the good intention not carried out; the threat to thwart evil reduced to lecture and then whine rather than audacious action. We worry too much about the one-day response to our use of force and not the 100-hour gradual appreciation that we are winning. Shooting looters to restore order and save the Iraqi infrastructure would have saved lives and enraged the world for a day. But pictures of subsequent strolls in parks and Iraqis stringing telephone wire and pouring cement would have impressed it far more.
[...]
The only thing worse than the amoral use of force is the failure to act when it is the only right and moral thing to do. In short, I think our sole serious mistake in this war is that we have forgotten the lessons of history, the essence of human nature, and what constitutes real morality. Small armies, whether those of Caesar, Alexander, or Hernan Cortés can defeat enormous enemies and hold vast amounts of territory — but only if they are used audaciously and establish the immediate reputation that they are lethal and dangerous to confront. Deterrence, not numbers, creates tranquility and the two are not always synonymous.

A thousand Marines shooting the first 500 gunmen they saw, broadcast on al Jazeera, would be worth the deterrence of another armored division. Taking Fallujah and killing Baathist killers while putting victorious Iraqi coalitionists on television would have been the equivalent of calling up another 40,000 reservists.

The U.N., the EU, the Arab League, and the host of domestic critics, triangulating pundits, and democratic politicos will never properly appreciate our necessary audit and censure of prison abuses. Nor will they praise the restraint shown in Fallujah. Nor will they try to place the combat losses of Americans in historical perspective — of the near impossibility of subduing a country of 26 million people at such a cost. Nor will they do the hard moral calculus of appreciating $87 billion and hundreds of American lives — at a moment of all-time high petroleum prices and during an acrimonious election year — spent to end fascism and inaugurate democracy, at least not when they can scream "No blood for oil" for psychic satisfaction on the cheap. But they most certainly will go silent when al Sadr relents or is in chains, calm returns to Baghdad, and al Qaedists flee from or are killed in Iraq.
[...]
Instead, stay true to our values — but also realize that we are judged by those who think reptilian and will thus join us for the pragmatically wrong, rather than the morally right, reasons. Or as the sometimes vulgar and crass Al Davis put it far better, "Just win baby."
Similarly, Ralph Peters thinks that we have not been decisive enough in defeating challenges.
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Thursday, May 27, 2004


              Democrats at War
The Claremont Review has an excellent article by William Bennett called The Democratic Party and the Politics of War.
In the wake of the single worst attack on our nation in her long history, it is a sad fact that one of our two major political parties has proven itself untrustworthy to govern. The single most important issue of our day is fighting terrorists and defeating the threats and acts of terrorism. And on this question, the Democratic Party cannot speak coherently. The candidates who support, or supported, the war in Iraq pulled out of the race early. The candidates who raged against the war and President Bush's prosecution of it, including those who voted for it in 2002, advanced, and one of them, John Kerry, will be the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party....
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              Useful Idiots
The American Left has had a history of being on the wrong side of issues. Throughout the Cold War they fervently resisted all American attempts to hold in check the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism. During the 1930's the American Left covered up or overlooked Stalin's genocides. Americans like Ford, Lindbergh, and Joseph Kennedy who supported Hitler were rightly criticized for their views, yet those who supported Stalin have escaped such opprobium. Mona Charen's new book is reviewed in the Claremont Review of Books. Interestingly, the criticisms of the President who finally confronted the Soviet Union - Ronald Reagan - are strikingly similar to the criticisms of President Bush and the current War on Terror.
The American president who confronted all three of these Soviet nonpareils was, of course, Ronald Reagan, and it goes without saying that he suffered in comparison with all of them, in the eyes of contemporary liberals. When, in March 1983, he described the Soviet Union as "an evil empire," their reaction was little short of hysterical. Henry Steele Commager, then a professor of history at Amherst, condemned Reagan's speech as "the worst presidential speech in American history, and I've read them all." Hendrik Hertzberg, later editor of The New Republic, protested that "words like that frighten the American public and antagonize the Soviets. What good is that?" Time's Strobe Talbott, later President Clinton's deputy secretary of state, made the same objection: "When a chief of state talks that way, he roils Soviet insecurities." George W. Ball, undersecretary of state in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations, sounded a somber warning: "Mr. President, you have set us on a dark and ominous course. For God's sake, let us refix our compass before it is too late."
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                            |
              Gore Gone Crazy
What has happened to Al Gore? Just a few years ago he was one of the most respected politicians in Washington; he was considered intelligent, thoughtful, and level-headed. But after losing the 2000 elections, after many attempted machinations to overturn the vote and gain the presidency, Gore seems to have lost any anchoring to reality that he had. A perfect example of his recent detachment from the real world came in yesterday's speech to MoveOn.org, a radical leftist organization. The speech is way too long and obnoxious to quote. David Horowitz and Ben Johnson provide a reading of the speech. And John Podhoretz, in his column, feels sorry for Gore's descent into madness and takes comfort in the fact that Gore is not President:
He accused the United States of setting up an "American Gulag," thus comparing the incidents at Abu Ghraib to Josef Stalin's vast slave-prison archipelago that shackled nearly 30 million people in an Arctic wasteland and caused the deaths of many millions more.

He has, in essence, declared that the monstrous American creeps we've seen in the Abu Ghraib photographs are victims as much as those they humiliated: "On the list of those he let down are the young soldiers who are themselves apparently culpable, but who were clearly put into a moral cesspool. The perpetrators as well as the victims were both placed in their relationship to one another by the policies of George W. Bush."

Gore's speech is the single craziest political performance of my lifetime, and I use the word "craziest" advisedly. The speech, at 6,600 words, was twice as long as Bush's address to the nation on Monday night. The indiscipline shown by the sheer endlessness of Gore's address is a reflection of the psychic morass in which he has become mired.

A man who was very, very nearly president of the United States has been reduced to sounding like one of those people in Times Square with a megaphone screaming about God's justice. It is almost impossible to believe that this man was once vice president of the United States.

As a stalwart supporter of the war, I would naturally be inclined to find Gore's line of attack discomfiting and upsetting, even enraging. Instead, I feel an intense sadness and a great sense of relief. The sadness comes from the sight of a man losing his sanity in public. The relief comes from the fact that he is not, and never will be, the president of the United States.
It's difficult to find an explanation for Gore's present actions. Does he really think that aligning himself with the lunatic fringe of the Democratic Party will get him back to power? Or is it merely the understanding that he will not be in power that has removed the political fetters and unleashed his true self?
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              Israel and the Laws of War
Amnesty International released its annual report yesterday, and as would be expected, accused Israel of violations of the rules of war as well as the rights of Palestinians. Every other week, it seems, the UN and EU come out with a condemnation of Israel because of the deaths of Palestinian civilians. The US State Department expresses its "concern" over Palestinian deaths and tells Israel to be more careful. Yet all of these groups ignore a simple fact: Israel is acting completely within the rules of war and when Palestinian civilians are killed it is entirely the fault of the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian terror groups. Louis Rene Beres offers an explanation of what the rules of war actually are:
By deliberately placing young Arab children in the front of large mobs that advanced menacingly upon Israeli soldiers, Palestinian leaders openly committed major violations of the Law of War. There is, in fact, a precise legal term for these violations, a term that applies equally to the Palestinian tactic of routinely inserting scores of gunmen among the lines of children. This codified crime under humanitarian international law is called "perfidy."
[...]
Terrorism is a crime under international law. When terrorists represent populations that enthusiastically support such attacks, and when these terrorists also find easy refuge among hospitable populations, all blame for ensuing counterterrorist harms lies exclusively with the criminals. Understood in terms of ongoing Palestinian terrorism and Israeli self-defense, this means that the Palestinian side alone must now bear full legal responsibility for Arab civilian casualties.

International law is not a suicide pact. Rather, it correctly offers an authoritative body of rules and procedures that always permits states their "inherent right of self-defense." When terrorist organizations openly celebrate the explosive "martyrdom" of Palestinian children and unashamedly seek religious redemption through the mass-murder of Jewish children, they have absolutely no legal right to demand sanctuary anywhere. Under international law they are hostes humani generis, "common enemies of humankind," who must be punished wherever they are found.
[...]
Just wars arise from love of the innocent. Still, in the midst of such a war against uniquely cruel enemies, Israel must continue to root out the terrorists in Gaza to avoid further mass murders of its citizens - murders that could soon involve chemical, biological or even nuclear agents. Although perfidious provocations by assorted Palestinian terror groups may repeatedly elicit Israeli reprisals that bring harm to Arab noncombatants, it is always these provocations - not Israel's defensive responses - that are violations of international law.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004


              Iran
Michael Ledeen, one of the foremost experts on Iran, has an interesting piece in National Review.
Apparently morale is very low in the ranks of the Basij, the group of fanatical thugs that do the regime's dirty work in the streets, things like beating up women whose scarves show too much hair, rounding up student protesters, and so forth. Friends of mine in Iran tell me that Basiji are becoming convinced that the regime's days are numbered, and they are understandably discouraged.

There is plenty of evidence that Iranians are utterly contemptuous of the regime, and are not afraid to demonstrate it. When the New York Times's Nicholas Kristof went to Iran a few weeks ago, he was astonished to meet Iranians in all walks of life who attacked the regime and told him he could use their names. And on May 18, the well-known university professor, Hashem Agajari, told an Iranian judge that he would not appeal his death sentence (for blasphemy, having said that the people should not be "apes to follow blindly whatever the mullahs say"). "Free me unconditionally or carry out the sentence," he said. As iran-press-service.com dryly remarked, Agajari had been banned for ten years from professional activities, "but (the court) did not say if the bans would take effect before or after the application of the death sentence."
Just as interesting as the indications that the regime is crumbling, is its open hostility to the US and open admission that they are at war with the US.
Let's not quibble over the details, since I doubt Abbasi would be inclined to reveal chapter and verse about specific Iranian operations. His list of potential South American allies omits Venezuela, which actively cooperates with the terror masters, and the figure of 6,000 warheads targeted by Iranian-backed saboteurs is beyond the pale, even for a mullah. But when an official as authoritative as Abbasi tells the regime's loyalists in a closed meeting that Iran is sabotaging our economy and organizing terrorist attacks on our territory, you can take that to the bank.

Iranian operations inside the United States are of course an old story — enemies of the revolution were killed here in the early 1980s — and Iranians may even have been involved in the September 11 attacks. According to CNSNews.com, documents from the U.S. District Court in south Florida cite a government informer (and former Colombian drug smuggler) that his erstwhile partner in the drug business, an Iranian named Mehrzad Arbane, told the informer he had also smuggled people into the United States.

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              Moral Equivalence is Good
Nicholas Kristof produced a real stinker in his New York Times op/ed.
George Bush and John Kerry disagree on almost every issue, with one crucial exception: they compete to support a myopic policy that is unjust, that damages our credibility around the world and that severely undermines our efforts in Iraq.
And what might that policy be?
American presidents have always tried to be honest brokers in the Middle East. Truman, Johnson and Reagan were a bit more pro-Israeli, while Eisenhower, Carter and George H. W. Bush were a bit cooler, but all aimed for balance.

President Bush tossed all that out the window as he snuggled up to Mr. Sharon.
We're back to that inane idea of the US as "honest broker", i.e. moral equivalence. Apparently, for Kristof, a democratic country is on the same political and moral level as a terrorist organization and should be treated as such. The US tried even-handedness all throughout the 1990's. The only thing that produced was a 3 1/2 year long terrorists war initiated by the Palestinians.
Our embrace of Mr. Sharon hobbles us in Iraq even more than those photos from Abu Ghraib. Iraqis (in contrast with, say, Kuwaitis) genuinely sympathize with the Palestinians
Really??? Is this the same Iraqis who expelled all the Palestinians living in Baghdad after the end of the war last year?

Kristof then goes on to say:
Particularly in a new age when terrorist attacks could use W.M.D. to kill perhaps thousands at a time, Israel can achieve safety only through a peace agreement with the Palestinians. A model is the unofficial Geneva accord of last October, reached between courageous Israelis and Palestinians — the very people we should be supporting.
Kristof's idea of peace in the Middle East entails Israel giving in on every issue, under US pressure of course. His "analysis", if it can be called that, ignores all of recent history and the lessons we should have learned.
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              Krauthammer
An interesting interview with Charles Krauthammer.
Krauthammer denounced proposals by Israeli personalities Ami Ayalon and Yossi Beilin for a virtual Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.

“They’re beyond naive,” he asserted. “They criminally naive. The problem in the Middle East is the lack of a Palestinian partner. Jews will negotiate among themselves until they’re blue in the face, and in the finest talmudic tradition.”

Archly dismissing Ayalon’s People’s Voice initiative and Beilin’s Geneva accord, Krauthammer said, “It’s comically and tragically a show of self-delusion.”

In a separate swipe at Ayalon, the former director of the Shin Bet intelligence agency, he observed: “He is not the first Israeli military hero to be wrong.”

Harshly dismissive of the late Yitzhak Rabin’s decision to enter into the Oslo peace process, Krauthammer noted, “What Rabin signed at Oslo was a catastrophe. He did it in good faith, but he was catastrophically wrong.”

He also attacked one of Rabin’s successor, Ehud Barak: “Never has a prime minister done more damage to Israel than him, with the possible exception of Rabin.”
|| Nudnik 10:23 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Is the Dream Gone?
The dream, the goal of the war in Iraq, is the transformation of the Arab world by creating a modern, pluralist democracy in he center of the Arab world. The dream is that this would spur a total rethinking and reformation of the ways of the Arab world, by the Arabs themselves. Fouad Ajami thinks that this dream is now dead.
Let's face it: Iraq is not going to be America's showcase in the Arab-Muslim world. The president's insistence that he had sent American troops to Iraq to make its people free, "not to make them American" is now — painfully — beside the point. The unspoken message of the speech was that no great American project is being hatched in Iraq. If some of the war's planners had thought that Iraq would be an ideal base for American primacy in the Persian Gulf, a beacon from which to spread democracy and reason throughout the Arab world, that notion has clearly been set aside.
[...]
Back in the time of our triumph — that of swift movement and of pulling down the dictator's statues — we had let the victory speak for itself. There was no need to even threaten the Syrians, the Iranians and the Libyans with a fate similar to the one that befell the Iraqi despotism. Some of that deterrent power no doubt still holds. But our enemies have taken our measure; they have taken stock of our national discord over the war. We shall not chase the Syrian dictator to a spider hole, nor will we sack the Iranian theocracy.
[...]
The gains already accomplished in Iraq, and the gains yet to be secured, are increasingly abstract and hard to pin down. The costs are visible to us, and heartbreaking. The subdued, somber tone with which the war is now described is the beginning of wisdom. In its modern history, Iraq has not been kind or gentle to its people. Perhaps it was folly to think that it was under any obligation to be kinder to strangers.
If this is truly the case (I for one have not yet given up hope that Iraq can be the "beacon" of democracy in the Middle East), much of the blame for this failure should be placed at the feet of the "anti-war" Left. Undoubtedly many mistakes were made in the execution of the war, winning a war without destryoing the will of the enemy to fight is not really winning. But even this new way of waging war is the result of the new cultural sensitivities imposed on society by the Left. Dissent and questioning of our actions is vital to our democracy, yet this dissent must needs to take into account the realities of the world, and the realization that we are in a war no smaller or less important than the Cold War. But of course, the Left didn't recognize that as a war either.

We know that the "anti-war" protests around the world that preceded the Iraq war served only to encourage Saddam into thinking that we wouldn't act. And now much of the criticisms of our actions serve not to help our cause - as true questioning of a democracy's actions is meant to do - but to, in any possible way, harm our standing in the world and hinder our prosecution of this war. Just as Saddam took comfort in the pre-war protests, now Islamist terrorists take comfort in our self-flagellation and self-doubt. And this motivates them to fight that much harder, to believe that they can defeat us.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2004


              More Warnings
Another warning of a major attack this summer.
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              What it Would be Like
What would happen if the US were to follow the political prescriptions of the loony Left? PJ O'Rourke, in this op/ed in the Wall Street Journal (registration required), imagines the possibilities.
|| Nudnik 7:09 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Aid and Comfort to the Enemy
Ted Kennedy's comments about Abu Ghraib - "On March 19, 2004, President Bush asked, 'Who would prefer that Saddam's torture chambers still be open?' Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management - US management." - were a shameful example of the ridiculous exaggerations of the "anti-war" Left. Jeff Jacoby, in this column, considers them much more than shameful:
There is nothing wrong with political passion. Nor is there anything wrong with criticizing the administration's conduct of the war. But accusing the US Army of being no better than Ba'athist torturers is not constructive criticism. Shrugging when a formidable politician broadcasts such a terrible libel is not responsible citizenship. Those are forms of propaganda, and propaganda in wartime is a lethal weapon. To turn that weapon against the United States is to give aid and comfort to the enemy.
As Jacoby shows, this is not an aberration for Kennedy.
|| Nudnik 10:36 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Monday, May 24, 2004


              Where to Now?
Over the last few months, as events in Iraq have turned towards the worse, there has been a noticeable shift in sentiment. Even many of those who saw the liberation of Iraq as a first step towards the democratization of the entire Middle East have shown signs of stepping back from this ambitious agenda. For many, the goal in Iraq seems to have changed to merely stabilizing the country, perhaps under a benevolent dictator (as suggested by Daniel Pipes, among others). The question posed by Victor Hanson and Lee Harris a few months back - did Saddam create Fallujah or did Fallujah create Saddam - seems for some to be resolving itself towards the latter.

Meyrav Wurmser, in this article from National Review, has not given up hope for a transformation of the Arab world. Yet, at the same time she acknowledges that the problem is deeper than what we thought it would be going in to this.
Coming on the heels of events at Abu Ghraib, the difference between American society's reaction to American misdeeds and the reaction of the Arab world to the brutal acts in Iraq and Gaza tell the whole story. For those of us who believe that the Middle East can be improved this is a moment of crisis, of soul-searching. It is very difficult not to think that, after all, there may be a hopeless clash of civilizations taking place between the Middle East and the West. It is impossible not to ask whether there is inherent violence and lack of civility in Arab society.

It now has become clear that we are confronted with a deep malady. So many years of corruption, despotism, and tyranny — not just a century of Arab ideologies, but also centuries of Ottoman imperial rule and centuries of Arab tyrannies before that — have distorted, even sickened, Arab societies.

There has always been a divide among those who study history. Some argue that cultures and civilizations are organic entities with lives of their own, creating the states they deserve; proponents of this view write off the Arab world as incapable of liberalism. Others continue to hope that the crafty state is, over time, the main forger of society. But merely removing a despotic state after a millennium of tyranny is no longer a sufficient corrective to the illness afflicting Arab society. The problem now is not only political. Arab economies have been reduced to Mafioso-like monopolies and fights to control the state. Arab culture and art have been reduced to statist self-glorification. Most of all, Arab politics have been reduced violence and personal destruction rather than debate and mutual respect. In Arab politics, opponents are not answered or rebutted, they are discredited or destroyed.

We should not give up on all Muslims or all Arabs. But the burden of proof now is on them. It is no longer up to us to show that we treat them as equals and are not motivated by Western (or Jewish) anti-Arab conspiracies. It is no longer up to us to solicit their approval and acceptance. We should no longer blame ourselves.

This is now more than a struggle for Arab and Muslim freedom; it is a struggle for Arabs and Muslims to reclaim their souls, and it can only be decided within their own societies. It is up to the Arabs and the Muslims of the Middle East to decide not whether they want to be a part of modern, Western society, but whether they want to be a part of the civilized world. Now is their moment of truth.
David Frum, on the other hand thinks it is more an issue of religion than political culture.
|| Nudnik 9:26 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Biased Press
Today's Washington Times has a good op/ed piece about the mainstream media's coverage of two military operations last week - the US attack on a "wedding party" in Iraq, and Israel's operation in Rafah. In both of these, most media outlets parroted the Arab propaganda lines without investigating any of the claims.
As more information comes out about both actions, it seems increasingly clear that both the United States and Israel were legitimately acting to stop terrorist activity. Unfortunately, some of the early press reports suggest that some journalists instinctively tend to blame democratic governments rather than the terrorists when noncombatants die as a result of actions taken on the battlefield.
[...]
Although major American news outlets generally have done a responsible job thus far of reporting on the Mogr al-Deeb strike, the same cannot be said of stories on Israel's campaign to destroy terrorists' weapons-smuggling tunnels in densely populated civilian areas in the Gaza town of Rafah. Major American newspapers like The Washington Post, for example, have emphasized the physical destruction caused by the fighting in Gaza, while ignoring or burying information that would put the story into proper context — like the fact that the terrorists bribe local residents to allow weapons tunnels to be built under their homes.

Without such essential information, stories from the battlefield become propaganda — the antithesis of real reporting.
This is despite the fact that the IDF tried to embedd journalists with army units so that they could see ad report what was actually happening. As Caroline Glick writes in this article:
And it isn't that the UN and the EU, the media and the human rights organizations do not know the truth. They do. They have all received documented proof, not only from Israel but from their own people that have shown them conclusively that the Palestinian Authority is a terrorist organization and that its method of fighting Israel while hiding behind civilians is by its very nature a war crime. They know everything, but they do not care. They believe that their national and institutional interests are best served by condemning Israel and embracing Palestinian war crimes as justified.

In an attempt to get the foreign media to report what is actually happening on the ground in Gaza, the IDF's spokesman's unit pleaded with foreign news agencies to join IDF forces in their operations and see for themselves. By mid-week, the IDF had to admit that the attempt was an abject failure. Almost no one took them up on the offer. The foreign media is not interested in showing the truth. They simply want to criminalize Israel.

|| Nudnik 9:49 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Democracy and Elections
Jackson Diehl in this Washington Post op/ed, seems to mistake elections for a democracy. His argument is that while the Bush Administration talks of democracy in the Arab World, they are not in favor of elections in the Palestinian Authority because that would very likely produce a victory for Arafat. Contrary to what many on the Left believe, elections are not necessarily an indicator of democracy. This belief in elections has led to inane faith of the legitimacy of Arafat as "the sole representative" of the Palestinians because he was "elected". By this logic Saddam was a legitimately elected leader, as was Stalin.

Obviously democracy requires a lot more than simply elections. The key requirement is the belief in the Rule of Law above all else. Clearly this is not the case in the Palestinian Authority or in any current Arab society. And until this aspect of democracy becomes ingrained in a society, no amount of elections will produce a legitimate leader or a free society.
|| Nudnik 8:40 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Sunday, May 23, 2004


              Fix Bayonets, and Charge!
Mark Steyn suggests in this article another interesting course of action for Iraqi sovereignty; not all the different parts of Iraq need to be treated identically. Obviously the Kurds are much further along in terms of democratization than the Sunnis, and the new system should reflect that.
Many commentators are now calling for faster elections in Iraq. I'd prefer to go for ''asymmetrical federalism,'' which is a Canadian term, but don't let that put you off. What it means is that the province of Quebec has certain powers -- its own immigration policy, for example -- that the province of Ontario doesn't.
[...]
That policy of ad hoc, incremental, rolling devolution needs to be accelerated. Towns and provinces should have as much sovereignty as they can handle, on the obvious principle that the constituent parts of ramshackle federations rarely progress at the same pace. In the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is now an advanced Western economy, Kosovo is a U.N. slum housing project. If one were to cast the situation in rough British terms, the Kurdish areas are broadly analogous to Scotland, Dhi Qar and other Shia provinces are Wales, and the Sunni Triangle is Northern Ireland.
At the same time that we proceed along the political track, we need bolder thinking along the military/security track. Those in Iraq that do not go along with the program need to be shocked back into compliance.
The best bulwark against tyranny is a population that knows the benefits of freedom, as the Iraqi Kurds do. Don't make the mistake of turning Iraq into a dysfunctional American public school, where the smart guys get held down to the low standards of the misfits and in the end they all get the same social promotion anyway. Let's get on with giving the Kurdish and Shia areas elected governors and practical sovereignty, province by province.

And then fix bayonets and stick it to the holdouts.
|| Nudnik 8:06 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Increasing Threat
According to this US News and World Report article, terrorist "chatter" that has been picked up by US intelligence agencies suggests that planning for a multi-pronged attack in the US.
The chatter was persistent--and alarming. In the weeks after the deadly March bombings of four commuter trains in Madrid by al Qaeda operatives, the supersecret U.S. surveillance network, Echelon, intercepted a number of messages from suspected terrorists suggesting planning for a massive, multipronged assault on the United States. When? Between this summer's political conventions and October, one month before the presidential election. The intelligence appeared to confirm information obtained from some seized al Qaeda computers and from several human sources, government officials say. Officials at the CIA and the National Security Agency, which runs the Echelon program, believe the information is credible but worry that the human sources were on the periphery of the now widely dispersed al Qaeda network. Nevertheless, the information pointed to two, perhaps three, targets, the sources say: New York, Washington, and Las Vegas. The objective of the suspected attack, the officials continued, would be not only to cause mass casualties and devastation of U.S. infrastructure but to roil the presidential race. The Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded 1,800, also toppled the Spanish government and triggered the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. "Since Spain," says a Bush administration official, "al Qaeda has had the feeling of 'We can do this. We can affect an election.' "


|| Nudnik 6:18 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Saturday, May 22, 2004


              Making the Rules as They Go
The Kerry campaign has announced that John Kerry may not accept the official nomination of the Democratic Party at the Convention, and instead wait until later to do that. The reason for this being that once he accepts the nomination, he could no longer use the money he raised during the primaries. This is just another example of the Democratic Party changing the rules of the game once it looked like they were losing. We saw this in the Florida recount, we saw this in the New Jersey Senate race of 2002, and now they are considering it again. The conventions are federally funded, and are intended to produce a nominee. If this is not the result of a convention, why bother having it? And more importantly, why should taxpayers pay for such a "convention" Using this logic, why even accept a nomination until a couple of weeks before the election, and then spend all $75 of federal funds right away?

In the words of Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman "Only John Kerry could be for a nominating convention, but be against the nomination. This is just the latest example of John Kerry's belief that the rules are for other people, not for him."
|| Nudnik 10:17 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, May 21, 2004


              French Economics
As was predicted by everyone with even a meager understanding of economics, the French idea of a 35 hour work week as a way to reduce unemployment has turned out to be a complete failure. Cox&Forkum has a good illustration of the French economy.
|| Nudnik 2:36 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Orwell and the Peaceniks
In an excellent column in the Jerusalem Post, Sarah Honig draws on George Orwell to very accurately define the "peace" crowd.
These are the facts. But propagandists don't like facts. War propagandists normally lie to raise morale. Our self-professed peaceniks do so to lower morale, facilitate retreat and further their defeatist agenda.

Back in 1942 George Orwell pointed out matter-of-factly that "so-called peace propaganda is just as dishonest and intellectually disgusting as war propaganda. Like war propaganda it concentrates on putting forward a 'case,' obscuring the opponent's point of view and avoiding awkward questions. The line normally followed is 'those who fight Fascism become Fascist themselves.'"

Just substitute "terrorist" for "Fascist."

Peace-propagandists, Orwell noted, "evade quite obvious objections" with "propaganda-tricks" which include "pooh-poohing the actual record of Fascism," while "systematically exaggerating" alleged "Fascizing processes" within Allied ranks. Sounds familiar? It should.

Orwell was intrigued by the "psychological processes by which pacifists who started out with an alleged horror of violence end up with a marked tendency to be fascinated by the success and power of Nazism." Even those who don't, he wrote in the Partisan Review, "imagine that one can somehow 'overcome' the German Army by lying on one's back" and they shun "discussion of what the world would actually be like if the Axis dominated it."
[...]
They're like the antiwar activists of Orwell's day. Orwell regarded them as "objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary commonsense. If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.'"
While she is specifically talking about the Left in Israel, clearly these same arguments apply to the current "anti-war" movements in the US and Europe.
|| Nudnik 2:16 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Lonely Crowd
The Left in Israel, the putative "peace" crowd, turned out again last week in Rabin Square. This time it was to demand withdrawal from Gaza, even as the battle there was raging and the deaths of 13 soldiers was still hung over the country. Martin Peretz, in this essay on The New Republic (link is actually from IsraPundit) discusses the meaninglessness of these demonstrations - all nice words, with no ideas behind them.
Which brings us to the question of whether Israel really has, among the Palestinians, a true partner for peace. "Yes," proclaimed some of the posters. "Yes, yes," assured Peres, who spoke, yet again, of "the new Middle East" of his imagination. But who is this partner, whose first task must be to confront the terrorists and, as Rabin once put it, "break [their] arms"? Certainly not the nameless man who succeeded Abdel Aziz Rantisi as head of Hamas. Where is the groundswell of Palestinian public sentiment for accommodation with the Jews? Yes, there are Professor Sari Nusseibeh and his friends--people who are both brave and afraid--who have signed Ayalon's open letter. But where are the 150,000--or even 1,500--ordinary Palestinians who want "Peace Now"? Have you ever seen them interviewed on television? Why do the Palestinians rush to the streets only to demand blood?

If pushed, Peres would probably admit that the leadership he imagines for Gaza is that old default: Arafat. After all, Arafat holds, with the martyred Rabin and with Peres himself, the Nobel Peace Prize, by now a badge of shame. Will Arafat finally lead his people toward peace? Speaking on Palestinian radio on the very day the Israelis rallied, Arafat said, "If they want peace, then let's have peace." He also added, quoting from the Koran, "Find what strength you have to terrorize your enemy and the enemy of God." Sacred words, sacred work. And so the protesters in Rabin Square, yet again, received their answer.


|| Nudnik 1:56 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Arab Street
We pay a lot of attention to the utterances of "the Arab street", especially their reasons and justifications for actions that most would consider barbaric. The Western press, especially, seems to accept these justifications as fact without really looking at the context or the societies in which they are presented. In this column in Tech Central Station, Russ Roberts thinks that these are important considerations that need to be taken into account to truly be able to assess the view of "the Arab Street".
We should take all such statements professing an opinion, with more than a few grains of salt. In a society where truth-telling is punished relentlessly, truth-telling will be scarce. It will take a long time for Iraqis to become the good-natured interviewees we see from the streets of America.

Which brings us back to the obscene tormentors of Nicholas Berg. They and their allies who seek power want us to believe that they represent a wide-spread nearly unanimous view of the American presence in Iraq. They want us to believe that every American infidel on holy Arab soil is an intolerable presence. Instead of accepting these views on their face, we might consider the possibility that these views are the equivalent of the hardnosed negotiator who wants you to think that no compromise, no matter how small, is possible.

The war in Iraq may turn out to be a terrible mistake. It may turn out to be a boon. But either way, we should pay no more attention to the Arab street than we do to the Cuban street. When Cubans rallied to bring Elian Gonzalez back to Cuba, few were foolish enough to think it represented what those people actually felt. We had no idea. They faced constraints in their behavior that we can only imagine. The same is true of the Arab street. We pay attention to it at our peril.


|| Nudnik 12:04 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Carter and Kerry
The Democratic Party was at one point in its recent history a party that understood the dangers that exist in the world and was willing to actively confront those threats, by force when necessary. Since Jimmy Carter's presidency (or perhaps George McGovern's candidacy), however, the party has become one of pacifism that is unwilling to confront threats in any meaningful way. The use of US military force for the new Democrats is only an option in situations where there is no US national security interest involved - Somalia, Balkans, Haiti, etc. In all other instances, where security is at stake, force is no longer an option. Steven Hayward in a Washington Times op/ed piece thinks that this will ultimately sink the Democratic Party:
Far from being a marginal figure in the Democratic Party, Mr. Carter is the pivotal influence in moving Democratic Party liberalism away from the Cold War realism of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Scoop Jackson, and cementing it as a McGovernite party. The fate of Joe Lieberman, the last faint echo of the Truman-Kennedy-Jackson sensibility at home and abroad, in this year's Democratic primary contests shows that the Democratic Party has rejected its historic legacy. It has learned little from Mr. Carter's disastrous defeat or the similar defeat of his liberal successors. The voters are likely to teach the slow learners on the left the same lesson once again.
|| Nudnik 9:29 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Punctuation
A cute column by George Will on the importance of commas and how our language is changing.
|| Nudnik 9:23 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Suspicious
ABC News is reporting, in a story that is not yet appearing anywhere else, that suspicious activity has been detected on rail tracks in the Northeast corridor.
Suspicious activity along the New York-Philadelphia-Washington rail corridor — along with the discovery of a concealed infrared electronic device on the tracks near a rail yard in Philadelphia — has triggered federal and regional investigations, ABCNEWS has learned.

While authorities say they do not want to unnecessarily scare commuters, they say the findings fit the pattern of terrorists casing the rail lines for a possible attack. The devastating train bombings in Madrid, Spain, have forced them to take all suspicious activity seriously, they say.
|| Nudnik 9:14 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Thursday, May 20, 2004


              Bad News
Geostrategy-direct.com is reporting that Al-Qaeda may have acquired a significant quantity of nuclear and biologic materials.
The newspaper Wprost reported April 11 that Britain’s MI-6 intelligence service provided the intelligence on the Al Qaida effort.

The report raises new worries that the terrorist group may attempt to launch a weapons of mass destruction attack on a European city such as Warsaw or London.

The report said Al Qaida terrorists recently held a “summit” near the Polish-Ukrainian border with Chechen Islamists.

According to the report, the effort to acquire nuclear or biological materials was organized by Semen Mogilevich, considered a major Russian organized crime figure and head of the Solntsevo crime group. The group is believed to have previously provided weapons and arms.

Three members of the Solntsevo gang were arrested on their way to Munich with 17 ounces of smuggled plutonium, the report said.



|| Nudnik 11:23 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Oil and Kerry
As gas prices continue to rise, John Kerry is trying to make them a political issue. He accuses Bush of not caring about the rising prices and their effect on "the average family". His first criticism is that the US should stop diverting oil to the SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve) because that siphons off oil from the general market and raises prices. This is complete nonsense not grounded in facts, but simply on politics. At present, the US diverts approximately 105,000 barrels per day to the SPR. That comes out to about one half of one percent of daily US oil consumption. Obviously getting rid of this would have zero impact on the market.

The second criticism is that Bush should release oil form the SPR into the market to try to reduce prices. As the American Thinker writes in this article:
"Taking crude oil from the SPR is certainly tempting. We tried this once before during the Clinton administration, and gasoline prices abated for a short time. It has been calculated that dumping oil into the market might lower gasoline prices a few cents per gallon. This would only be a temporary lowering of prices, and would not solve the underlying problems causing energy prices to increase."
Even more important, though, is that depleting the SPR could cause serious national security issues. A successful terrorist attack on a Saudi oil target, as was attempted at the Yanbu facility a few weeks ago, could be catastrophic to the US and world economy. By some estimates if such a successful attack were to reduce Saudi oil exports by 2.5-3 million barrels per day, oil prices could spike to more than $100/barrel, implying gasoline prices of more than double today's and quite possibly shortages like were seen in the 1970's. It would be very useful in such an event to have a 60 day reserve of oil, approximately the current reserve in the SPR.

So at this point, all of Kerry's suggestions are pure politics backed by no real facts or intelligent policy. And interestingly, the people screaming loudest about high prices and energy "independence" are the same ones who over the last few years have opposed any expansion of US domestic production. In the words of this Washington Times editorial:
Coming from a family that owns five palatial, energy-consuming homes, its very own Gulfstream II jet, a 42-foot powerboat, eight vehicles (including two Jeeps and a Chevy Suburban) and a Harley, Mr. Kerry has no standing when it comes to dealing with energy problems or the current surge in gasoline prices. Nevertheless, Mr. Kerry wants middle- and working-class Americans to believe that he truly feels their pain.
After having spent the past three years leading the Democratic opposition to the Bush administration's efforts to expand domestic oil supplier, Mr. Kerry needs to keep his hands off America's long-term strategic insurance policy.

|| Nudnik 10:28 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Moral Equivalence
Garry Kasparov, the world champion chess player, writes in yesterday's Wall Street Journal about the steadfastness and clear-headedness necessary to winning this war and establishing a new order in the Middle East:
"Leaders of this type focus the energy of an impoverished people into fighting a sworn enemy. They realize that the free circulation of liberal ideas would threaten their hold on power. With modern methods of communication it is impossible to build a new Iron Curtain, so they convince their people that they are engaged in a war against the very source of these democratic ideals. Arafat has done this successfully for decades.

On the other side of this dual model we have dictators who present themselves as the last bastion against religious extremists. Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan and the Saudi royal family are supported by the U.S. and given free reign to limit human rights because they are considered the lesser evil. Yet the more favor they have with the U.S., the more they are hated at home, empowering the extremist opposition. Everyone gets what they want in the short run but it is a recipe for inevitable meltdown.

U.S. success in Iraq is essential in order to provide an alternative model. Unlike Vietnam, there will be repercussions for global security if America does not finish the job. This is the big picture that must stay in focus. We are dealing with an enemy who considers the concessions and privileges of democracy to be weaknesses. To prove them wrong we must follow through.

The Islamic public-relations offensive is focused on proving that the West is corrupt and offers no improvement on the despots in charge throughout the Islamic world. At the same time, Al Jazeera isn't examining Vladimir Putin's war against Muslims in Chechnya. All of Chechnya is one big Abu Ghraib, but the Islamic world pays scant attention to the horrible crimes there because Mr. Putin shares their distaste for liberal democracy. The war is not about defending Muslims; it is about Western civilization and America as its representative.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to pursue a nuclear arsenal and the U.N. Secretariat, France and Russia are busily covering up their involvement in the Oil-for-Food scandal. If we are to impress the superiority of the democratic model upon the Muslim world we must thoroughly investigate any and all allegations of abuse and clean up our act. This goes for plush U.N. offices as well as Iraqi prison cells.
[...]
In this fight the enemy does not play by our rules, or by any rules at all. WMD will be in terrorist hands eventually; conventional wisdom recognizes this reality. Concessions and negotiations at best only delay catastrophe. Europe and its people are in this war whether they acknowledge it or not. Those who would appease terrorists must realize that by pretending that this battle does not exist, they will soon have blood on their hands--both real and metaphorical."
|| Nudnik 9:52 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Moore and Europeans
Christopher Hitchens's perfect description of Michael Moore and Europeans's perception of him, from MSNBC's Scarborough Country:
"But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."
|| Nudnik 9:32 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


              Good Versus Perfect
With all the gloom and doom reports coming out of Iraq, one would think (and many incorrectly do) that the US has completely failed in Iraq, and only the UN can fix things now. This is patently false, though the US has made many mistakes in post-war Iraq, it is highly doubtful, given its record, that the UN would do better or even as well. Mark Steyn addresses these issues in his Jerusalem Post article:
The best rule of politics is this: Don't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Is the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq perfect? No.

Is it good? Yes.

Was Saddam Hussein's rule perfect? No.
Was it good? No.

This shouldn't be a tough call. But, shortly after the liberation, the bespoke apologists for the Middle East's thug regimes and the more depraved "peace activists" in Europe set themselves a tall order – to prove that the Iraqis were better off under Saddam. At first, they confined this proposition to matters such as drinking water.

When some of us pointed out that the potable water supply in Iraq is now double what it was pre-war, or that health care funding is 25 times larger than it was a year ago, Europe's Saddamite cheerleaders gave up this line of attack. It was always rather boring and technocratic, anyway. So now they've got right down to basics – not potable water but "torture." Why, Bush is torturing just as many Iraqis as Saddam did!
[...]
Is the UN perfect? No.

Is the UN good? Well, I'm not sure I'd even say that. But if you object to what's going on in those Abu Ghraib pictures – the sexual humiliation of prisoners and their conscription as a vast army of extras in their guards' porno fantasies – then you might want to think twice about handing over Iraq to the UN.

|| Nudnik 8:51 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              WMD? Where?
As quickly as the story of an Iraqi Sarin gas filled shell being found appeared, it has disappeared. This is, of course, to be expected from a press beholden to the Left that has made the lack of WMD the centerpiece of their "Bush Lied" campaign. This non-existence of WMD is the first of the "Four Noes" of "the defeatists' platform" that William Safire lambastes in his op/ed piece.

Frank Gaffney, in a similar article, criticizes that crowd for "moving the goalposts".

The "Bush Lied" mantra has completely engulfed the "anti-war", anti-Bush left. With the help of a compliant press, they have managed to push the actual facts (existence of WMD, Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda, the good news in Iraq) completely from public view. This, despite the fact that virtually everything the left had predicted or threatened would happen in Afghanistan and Iraq - "millions of refugees" (at this point the only refugees are the ones who fled Iraq during Saddam's reign and are now flooding back in), the "brutal Afghan winter", the "quagmire" of March 2003 right before US Marines captured Baghdad, Saddam deploying (the non-existent) chemical weapons against US troops, etc. - has been proven to be completely false. I guess it was they who "lied". When will we hear an apology for that?
|| Nudnik 3:52 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Jerusalem Day
"Har HaBayit beyadenu"
That was the phrase uttered by Colonel Mordechai "Motta" Gur, the commander of the paratroop brigade of the IDF, upon entering the Old City of Jerusalem 37 years ago. Although this was only the third day of the Six Day War, it was the culmination of the Jewish experience in Israel; the liberation of the holiest of cities, the eternal capital of Israel.

Here are two accounts of the events from soldiers who participated in the liberation:
We ran there, a group of panting soldiers, lost on the plaza of the Temple Mount, searching for a giant stone wall. We did not stop to look at the Mosque of Omar even though this was the first time we had seen it close up. Forward! Forward! Hurriedly, we pushed our way through the Magreb Gate and suddenly we stopped, thunderstruck. There it was before our eyes! Gray and massive, silent and restrained. The Western Wall!

Slowly, slowly I began to approach the Wall in fear and trembling like a pious cantor going to the lectern to lead the prayers. I approached it as the messenger of my father and my grandfather, of my great-grandfather and of all the generations in all the exiles who had never merited seeing it - and so they had sent me to represent them. Somebody recited the festive blessing: "Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe who has kept us alive, and maintained us and brought us to this time." But I could not answer "Amen." I put my hand on the stones and the tears that started to flow were not my tears. They were the tears of all Israel, tears of hope and prayer, tears of Chasidic tunes, tears of Jewish dances, tears which scorched and burned the heavy gray stone.
-Moshe Amirav, a paratrooper

"Narrow alleys, filthy passageways, garbage at the entrances of shuttered shops, the stench of dead legionnaires - but we paid no attention. Our eyes were fixed on the golden dome which could be seen from a distance. There, more or less, it had to be! We marched faster to keep up with the beating of our hearts. We were almost running. We met a soldier from one of the forward units and asked him the way and hurried on. We went through a gate and down some steps. I looked to the right and stopped dead. There was the Wall in all its grandeur and glory! I had never seen it before, but it was an old friend, impossible to mistake. Then I thought that I should not be there because the Wall belongs in the world of dreams and legends and I am real.


Reality and legend, dream and deed, all unite here. I went down and approached the Wall and stretched out my hand towards the huge, hewn stones. But my hand was afraid to touch and of itself returned to me. I closed my eyes, took a small, hesitant step forward, and brought my lips to the Wall. The touch of my lips opened the gates of my emotions and the tears burst forth. A Jewish soldier in the State of Israel is kissing history with his lips.

Past, present and future all in one kiss. There will be no more destruction and the Wall will never again be deserted. It was taken with young Jewish blood and the worth of that blood is eternity. The body is coupled to the rows of stones, the face is pushed into the spaces between them and the hands try to reach its heart. A soldier near me mumbles in disbelief, 'We are at the Wall, at the Wall...' "
-Abraham Duvdevani

On that day a new verse was added to the song Jerusalem of Gold:
The wells are filled again with water,
The square with joyous crowd,
On the Temple Mount within the City,
The shofar rings out loud.

Within the caverns in the mountains
A thousand suns will glow,
We'll take the Dead Sea road together,
That runs through Jericho.

Oh, Jerusalem of gold, and of light and of
bronze,
I am the lute for all your songs.


|| Nudnik 2:42 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Disparities
Two events today:
1. "Eight Palestinians were killed and dozens were wounded Wednesday afternoon when Israel Defense Forces helicopter gunships and tanks fired missiles and shells at a crowd of protestors in Rafah refugee camp, in the southern Gaza Strip."
and
2. "Over 40 Iraqis, including children, killed after U.S. planes attack wedding party, Iraqi officials say"

The events seem very similar in many ways. Of course the main difference is in the reactions to them. To the first: "UN envoy to territories: Rafah attack a violation of int`l law, UN should consider arms embargo against Israel", "EU slams Rafah attack as `completely disproportionate,` says action shows `reckless disregard for human life'", "Canadian government summons Israeli ambassador to voice concern about deaths of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip", etc. To the second: NOTHING!

I wonder why this could be?????
|| Nudnik 1:23 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Bush and Jews
President Bush spoke at the AIPAC conference last night and as the LA Times reports, received a rousing welcome. The speech that he gave was excellent, pointing out the common values, history, and current struggle of Israel and the US.
Our nation, and the nation of Israel, have much in common. We're both relatively young nations, born of struggle and sacrifice. We're both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands. We have both built vibrant democracies, built on the rule of law and market economies. And we're both countries founded on certain basic beliefs: that God watches over the affairs of men, and values every life.

These ties have made us natural allies, and these ties will never be broken. In the past, however, there was one great difference in the experience of our two nations: The United States, through most of our history, has been protected by vast oceans to our east and west, and blessed with friendly neighbors to our north and south. Israel has faced a different situation as a small country in a tough neighborhood. The Israeli people have always had enemies at their borders and terrorists close at hand. Again and again, Israel has defended itself with skill and heroism. And as a result of the courage of the Israeli people, Israel has earned the respect of the American people.

On September the 11th, 2001, Americans saw that we are no longer protected by geography from the dangers of the world. We experienced the horror of being attacked in our homeland, on our streets, and in places of work. And from that experience came an even stronger determination, a fierce determination to defeat terrorism and to eliminate the threat it poses to free people everywhere.

Jews in the US have traditionally supported the Democratic Party, primarily because of the domestic policies of the Democrats. This year, however, it seems that more Jews than ever are supporting President Bush's re-election campaign. The reasons for this change in support has to do not just with Bush's strong support of Israel, but with his prosecution of the War on Terror. After so many years of terrorism against Israel, most American Jews saw the evil of the Islamofascists before most of the rest of the world saw it as such. And after the attacks on the US, this terror was brought even closer. Bush's strong response to these attacks, and his acknowledgement that the war that Israel is waging, and the one that the US is waging, are the same have convinced many American Jews that he, not Kerry, understands the dynamics of this new war.

Jewish support could be critical in this year's elections. While Jews only make up 4% of the electorate, their voter turnout is around 80% and is primarily urban. Even a slight shift in Jewish voting patterns could have a dramatic effect in key battleground states.
|| Nudnik 1:09 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Inhumane versus Inhuman
William Bennett, in a recent speech at the Claremont Institute, tackles the issues of why and how we fight this war against the "undiluted barbarism" we face.

Many on the left, like Ted Kennedy, have attempted to equate the actions of a few soldiers in Abu Ghraib with the actions of our enemies, thus attempting to destroy the moral legitimacy of the war as well as of the US itself. As Bennett point out, this is plain moral idiocy; the actions of the US soldiers in that prison were inhumane, the actions of our Islamofascist enemies are simply inhuman.

There are lessons that we need to learn from this inhumanity and brutality of our enemies. As well described in this article, their barbarism is not incidental to their cause, it is their cause.
|| Nudnik 10:18 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


              WMD Confirmed
The Iraq Survey Group, the group of weapons inspectors looking for WMD in Iraq, has confirmed the presence of Sarin gas in the artillery shell that was used as part of an IED to attack US troops. And so another of the left's accusations - Iraq didn't have WMD and Bush lied about them - falls by the wayside. As more info comes out about the existence of WMD, the same people who made so much noise about their absence are strangely silent about their presence. This article from the American Thinker from a couple of months ago has a lot more about the WMD and how little has been said about what has actually been found.
|| Nudnik 12:20 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Oil
There has been much recent talk about the high price of gasoline, often described in dramatic terms as "record high". And while prices have risen significantly, calling them "record high" is simply wrong and displays a lack of economic knowledge. Yes, in absolute terms, the price for a gallon of gasoline is higher than it has ever been. However, this is misleading and simply irrelevant. To compare the absolute prices for gas now with prices for gas in the mid 70s or early eighties, ignores the fact that the dollar has changed significantly since then, as have wages. The only real way to compare prices over time is using constant dollars (i.e. adjusting for inflation). By that measure, prices are still significantly lower than they have been in the past. Additionally, average income has grown, and so the percentage of income that one spends on gasoline is lower than it has been. If we take these factors into account, for gasoline to be at "record highs" in real terms, a gallon would have to be approximately $3.50, and crude oil would have to be in the $75-80 per barrel range.

There is also another factor in gasoline prices that is rarely talked about by politicians - taxes. A large component of gasoline cost is the various taxes that are imposed on it. In Massachusetts, taxes on gasoline are $.40 per gallon; in many other states taxes are significantly higher. So instead of talking about releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, something that most economists think would have minimal impact on prices, why not reduce the taxes on gas if the politicians really want to affect prices?
|| Nudnik 11:12 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Interrogations
The World Tribune is reporting that because of all the publicity of the Abu Ghraib story, the US military will be severely hampered in its attempts to get new information from prisoners. Apparently, the only thing that is still allowed in interrogations is isolation. These new restrictions will be by far more damaging to US actions in Iraq than all the whining from the Arab world.
|| Nudnik 10:55 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Operation Rainbow
The long-awaited military operation in Gaza seems to have begun. Under a press blackout the IDF has started to clean out Rafah and,as would be anticipated, the usual groups (Arab League, EU, Amnesty International, Yossi Sarid, etc.) have started their whining. Most of the whining has come in the form of "Sharon promised to withdraw, and now he is instead attacking". Lost on these people is the fact that no withdrawal is possible without this type of military operation. Additionally, once again these groups condemn Israeli operations without putting them in context of what caused them in the first place. In the words of Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoav Biran: "The reactions are critical of Israel. Here and there we hear some threatening remarks. There are also some stupid exaggerations. The world is preoccupied with the results and not with the causes...They are asking questions about our operation, but not asking us why we are operating in Rafah."

To leave Gaza in the same way that Israel left Lebanon would be disastrous. As soon as the IDF left, Hizbullah armed itself with Syrian and Iranian missiles and artillery that now threaten Northern Israel. If the smuggling tunnels are intact, is there any doubt that Palestinian terrorists would attempt to arm themselves similarly? Already there are reports that they have been trying to bring in Katyushas as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. Additionally, while there is a way to restrain Hizbullah - putting military and diplomatic pressure on Syria - there would be no similar control over the Palestinians.

Undoubtedly that withdrawal from Lebanon spurred on the Oslo War that the Palestinians have been waging, as has even been admitted by various Palestinian representatives. The only way to show the Palestinians that a withdrawal from Gaza is not a victory for the terrorists is by completely destroying the terrorist infrastructure in the area. Digging a big moat all along the border would be a perfect way to permanently stop smuggling through the tunnels.
|| Nudnik 8:10 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, May 14, 2004


              Subtext
A wrap-up and subtext of quotes from various Arabs: Not from MEMRI
|| Nudnik 10:49 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Navel Gazing
Democracy, despite being the best political system we have, is highly problematic. It is especially so when a democracy goes to war. Undoubtedly the questioning of actions and motives of our political and military leaders is essential in a free society. Yet that same questioning that can be productive, can also lead to utterly unproductive navel gazing that hurts the society. In an excellent article in the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick dissects this unproductive and destructive self-doubt.

When we pay attention to our enemies and see the scope of their ambitions and depth of their hatred we must come to a revolutionary conclusion. We, Israelis, Americans, and indeed all non-fascistic Muslims constitute the frontline in the war wherever we are. It was not US military deployment in Saudi Arabia that precipitated the September 11 attacks anymore than it was the Israeli presence in Lebanon or in Gaza or Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem that precipitated the Palestinian-led jihad against Israel. It is our existence that provokes our enemy.
[...]
In the UN, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and on countless other international stages they seek to criminalize us for our crime of defending our existence. In this they find accomplices among our own self-absorbed elites who are only too happy to blame the war being waged against us on ourselves.

When we limit our gaze to ourselves not only do we fail to take notice of the nature of the war, we craft national policies that harm both ourselves and our allies. In Israel, our self-obsession has brought about plan after plan all of which have weakened us and our allies in the global struggle. From the Oslo initiative to the retreat from Lebanon to Sharon's pullout plan from Gaza and parts of Samaria we have hurt ourselves and our allies.
[...]
As the jihad spreads throughout the world, we must stop finally with our self-destructive self-absorption. The butchers in Zeitoun who kicked the remains of our soldiers like footballs on Tuesday, like the butchers in Baghdad, Karachi, Riyadh and beyond who kill with barbaric ecstasy and primordial hatred do so not because of anything we have done. They do so because they are barbarians. And if we do not wish to be destroyed, we must do everything to destroy them and nothing to give them hope for victory against us.
|| Nudnik 9:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Whose Side are They On?
The US press has been notoriously left-wing, which in itself is not a problem. However, when their own political agendas serve to frame their "reporting", they lose all credibility and should be roundly criticized. The press's reporting of the war in Iraq (not to even mention the war that Israel has been forced to fight against the Arabs) and then the coverage of the "occupation" of Iraq has been shameful. From the beginning of the war to the current "scandal" of Abu Ghraib the press has done everything possible to show the US in the worst possible light, at times even to the point of suppressing good news. It seems that the press, along with many on the left are actually hoping for the US to lose; hoping for worse things to happen in Iraq, as long as this will get Bush out of office. The Spectator's Toby Harden wrote about this phenomenon yesterday.

The press has routinely shown us pictures that serve to drive people into the "anti-war" camp: from the post-liberation looting to the pictures from Abu Ghraib. But any pictures that would show people why we are in this war and why we need to win, are quickly suppressed. We have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib far more than we have seen the WTC fall, or Daniel Pearl being killed, or the contractors mutilated in Fallujah, or even the recent pictures of Nick Berg being slaughtered. This is no accident; the press is intent on defeating Bush, no matter what harm it does to the country or the war effort. Jeff Jacoby summarizes this perfectly:
What exactly is the governing rule here? That incendiary images sure to enrage our enemies and get more Americans killed should be published, while images that show the world just how evil those enemies really are should be suppressed? Offensive and shocking pictures that undermine the war effort should be played up, but offensive and shocking pictures that remind us why we're at war in the first place shouldn't get played at all?

Yes, Virginia, there really is a gaping media double standard. News organizations will shield your tender eyes from the sight of a Berg or a Daniel Pearl being decapitated or of Sept. 11 victims jumping to their deaths, or of the mangled bodies on the USS Cole, or of Fallujans joyfully mutilating the remains of four lynched US civilians. But they will make sure you don't miss the odious behavior of Americans or American allies, no matter how atypical that misbehavior may be, or how determined the US military is to uproot and punish it.

We are at war with a vicious enemy, and propaganda in wartime is a weapon whose consequences can be deadly. Nick Berg lost his life because the Abu Ghraib pictures were turned into a worldwide media event. Yes, those who did it were sheltered by the First Amendment. That makes their actions not better, but worse.



|| Nudnik 8:35 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Thursday, May 13, 2004


              War of Ideas
Fouad Ajami in yesterday's Wall Street Journal op/ed piece makes some good points about the mistakes that the US is making in Iraq. His main argument is that we are reverting back to the old, discredited idea of pan-Arabism in trying to make Iraq a normal, pluralist society and that this is a sure recipe for failure.
We have dispatched the way of Iraqis an envoy of the U.N., Lakhdar Brahimi, an Algerian of Pan-Arab orientation, with past service in the League of Arab States. It stood to reason (American reason, uninformed as to the terrible complications of Arab life) that Mr. Brahimi, "an Arab," would better understand Iraq's ways than Paul Bremer. But nothing in Mr. Brahimi's curriculum vitae gives him the tools, or the sympathy, to understand the life of Iraq's Shiite seminaries; nothing he did in his years of service in the Arab league exhibited concern for the cruelties visited on the Kurds in the 1980s. Mr. Brahimi hails from the very same political class that has wrecked the Arab world. He has partaken of the ways of that class: populism, anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, and a preference for the centralized state. He came from the apex of the Algerian system of power that turned that country into a charnel house, inflicted on it a long-running war between the secular powers-that-be and the Islamists, and a tradition of hostility by the Arab power-holders toward the country's Berbers. No messenger more inappropriate could have been found if the aim was to introduce Iraqis to the ways of pluralism.

Mr. Brahimi owes us no loyalty. His prescription of a "technocratic government" for Iraq -- which the Bush administration embraced only to retreat from, by latest accounts -- is a cunning assault on the independent political life of Iraq. The Algerian seeks to return Iraq to the Pan-Arab councils of power. His entire policy seeks nothing less than a rout of the gains which the Kurds and the Shiites have secured after the fall of the Tikriti-Baathist edifice. The Shiites have seen through his scheme. A history of disinheritance has given them the knowledge they need to recognize those who bear them ill will. American power may not be obligated -- and should not be -- to deliver the Shiites a new dominion in Iraq. But we can't once more consign them to the mercy of their enemies in the Arab world. At any rate, it is too late in the hour for such a policy, for the genie is out of the bottle and the Shiites will fight back. Gone is their old timidity and quietism. Their rejection of Mr. Brahimi's diplomacy is now laid out for everyone to see.

|| Nudnik 10:03 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Another Poll
A new poll of California likely voters has come out, and it is fairly encouraging for President Bush; Kerry leads Bush in that state by only 1% point. This, in a state that Al Gore won by 11% and that was seen as a guaranteed win for Kerry. What is even more encouraging is that of Bush voters 80% say they are voting "for" Bush, while of Kerry voters only 35% say that they are voting "for" Kerry (rather than simply against Bush). While there is still 6 months to the election, and a lot can change, this poll (like many others) is showing that while Bush's support is strong, Kerry is merely a default candidate.
|| Nudnik 9:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Wednesday, May 12, 2004


              Gaza
Ariel Sharon's plan to remove settlements from Gaza has, as predicted by the military, increased attacks there. Yesterday's destruction of an Armored Personnel Carrier and the mutilation of soldiers's bodies, as well as today's attacks against another APC and D-9 bulldozer point to an escalation there. The question then is what should Israel do regarding disengagement, as well as this escalation. Neither of these questions lend themselves to easy answer.

Despite the Likud's rejection of the disengagement plan, it seems that Sharon intends to proceed with it, albeit in some altered form. To do so as things stand would be a colossal mistake. Such a withdrawal will be perceived by the Arabs as a retreat similar to the one from Lebanon, a retreat that by most accounts gave impetus to the current war the Palestinians are waging. Yet strategically, the settlements in Gaza are a liability. There is a big difference between the settlements in Judea and Samaria and those in Gaza - there is much more of a historical and political attachment to Judea and Samaria.

The escalation of the past two days seems to be leading to something that has needed to happen, yet has been resisted on both a political and military level, namely an invasion of Gaza similar to Operation Defensive Shield. The only way to withdraw from Gaza would be after such an operation and the destruction of the majority of the terrorist infrastructure. The main benefit of such an operation, however, would not even be the physical destruction of the terrorists infrastructure as much as the destruction of the terrorists' belief that Israel could not invade Gaza. Until this is accomplished, withdrawal is impossible.
|| Nudnik 2:58 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              And More, Abu Ghraib
Mark Steyn in his Jerusalem Post column, gives his clear-headed take on the "scandal":
In contrast to hyperventilating Kennedys, the American people seem to be able to distinguish between the actual, specific abuse, which is wrong and should be punished, and the attempt to burden it with some highly selective generalized significance, which is rightly seen as a lot of baloney.

In that sense, I deeply regret President Bush's apology. I'm often dismissed as a Bush apologist, but I decline to be a Bush apologist for the Bush apology.

If he wanted to apologize, he should have apologized to Ahmed bin Jihad, or whoever the fellow in the dog collar is, and left it at that. But to be coerced into apologizing more generally is very foolish. What happened at Abu Ghraib is terrible because it's an offense to American values, not Arab ones.

It's ridiculous to insist that America has to apologize to Arab thugocracies in which what's merely simulated in those photographs is done for real every day of the week.

As for the allegedly seething Arab street, my advice to it would be to lay off the interviews, or at least not to respond to the pictures by saying things like, "They wanted us to feel as though we were women, the way women feel, and this is the worst insult, to feel like a woman."

When you imply that being an Arab woman is analogous to perpetual degradation, you remind Americans that being "insensitive" to certain cultures is not necessarily a bad thing.


|| Nudnik 10:11 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Savagery
The beheading of Nick Berg, horrifically echoing the killing of Daniel Pearl, provides ample illustration of what it is that we are fighting. Once again, we see the true nature of the Islamofascists. The Arab street, that was supposedly so appalled and offended by the pictures from Abu Ghraib, seems to be completely silent about this slaughter. And the US press that was so anxious to publish pictures of the abuses at Abu Ghraib is now withholding the pictures of Nick Berg. Apparently it is only appropriate to show pictures that serve to show the US in a poor light - pictures that serve to shame and demoralize us in this struggle, but not ones that could anger Americans and spur support for war on these terrorist. The New York Post editorial gets it exactly right in what needs to be done:
Yesterday they got a shocking reminder. And now they know: This war cannot be waged with half-measures.
It can end only with the total annihilation of those who practice butchery and barbarism. Those who have set as their goal the destruction of America.
There is no negotiating with such people. There can be no compromise with those who mean to destroy us.
Yesterday, the White House promised to "pursue those responsible and bring them to justice." That's the least of it.
America has to come out swinging.
And not stop until every last one of the savage thugs is dead.
If that means a resumption of major combat in Iraq, so be it.
Would it mean another division or so of combat troops to get the job done?
Turn to our garrisons in Europe, or Korea, to get them.
In sufficient numbers to get the job done.
To hell with political sensitivities in the region.
To hell with negotiating with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf and the Sunni insurgents in Fallujah.
To hell with handing Saddam Hussein over to Iraqis, as some want to do, and risking some reverse - perverse - kangaroo trial that results in his survival.
Evil, cutthroat terrorists need to be eradicated.
Let's face it: This is a job that's going to take overwhelming - yes, brutal - force. There is simply no "nice" or painless way to accomplish this.
As yesterday's slaughter showed (yet again), the enemy is bound by no moral compunctions.
America won't go that far.
But it had better steel it's backbone and get ready to fight like it means it.
It's the only way to win this war.

And until we take this to heart, and ignore the wailing of Ted Kennedy and his ilk, we can not win. Until we understand that none of our morality, or sympathy, or forgiveness means anything to the Islamofascists we will continue to see slaughters like those of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl and Madrid. We are in a war for the survival of the Western, liberal way of life, and until we resolve to kill this tiger and "hang it in [our] trophy room", we will continue to be eaten by it.


|| Nudnik 9:04 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Tuesday, May 11, 2004


              Hamas disabled
The World Tribune is reporting that Israeli military and intelligence sources are saying that they have thoroughly infiltrated Hamas and so have received advance warnings on a number of suicide bombing plots. This is in addition to eliminating a large number of Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Gaza.
|| Nudnik 1:12 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              "The Modern ‘Hep! Hep! Hep!’"
Cynthia Ozick, in this must read essay from the New York Observer, dissects the re-emergence of anti-Semitism, one that is most obvious and blatant in the Arab world, but is now also visible in the rhetoric of the Left, couched in Orwellian terms of "peace" and "justice".
This is the history that is ignored or denigrated or distorted or spitefully misrepresented. And because it is a history that has been assaulted and undermined by world-wide falsehoods in the mouths of pundits and journalists, in Europe and all over the Muslim world, the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has finally and utterly collapsed. It is only sophistry, disingenuousness, and corrupted conscience that continue to insist on such a distinction. To fail to trace the pernicious consistencies of Arab political aims from 1920 until today, despite temporary pretensions otherwise, is to elevate intellectual negligence to a principle. To transmogrify self-defense into aggression is to invite an Orwellian horse-laugh. To identify occupation as Israel’s primal sin—the most up-to-date Hep! of all—is to be blind to Arab actions and intentions before 1967, and to be equally blind to Israel’s repeated commitments to negotiated compromise. On the Palestinian side, the desire to eradicate Jewish nationhood increases daily: it is as if 1948 has returned, replicated in the guise of fanatical young "martyrs" systematically indoctrinated in kindergartens and schools and camps—concerning whom it is cant to say, as many do, that they strap detonators to their loins because they are without hope. It is hope that inflames them.

In a previous, and more compact but similarly impressive essay, Ozick focuses on the Palestinians and their anti-history.
|| Nudnik 10:29 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              The "Stench Along the East River"
Over the years since its founding, the United Nations has metamorphosed from an institution of the highest ideals and vision - human rights, freedom, justice, tolerance, and peace - to a corrupt bureaucracy under the control of violent, despotic regimes. At this point, it seems that the main goal of the UN is to excoriate the US and Israel, as well as enriching itself and its minions. In virtually every mission that it undertook in the last 15 years, it failed miserably, either by commission or omission. Rachel Neuwirth in The American Thinker presents these failures.
The U.N. recently passed another blatantly anti-Israel resolution in support of extremist Arab Palestinian claims. There is no longer any point in entering into any serious dialogue with this organization. In countless ways, over many years, the U.N. has proven to be a discredited organization, with lawless elements, which can no longer claim to have any moral standing. Very few of its 191 members can be counted upon to put principle ahead of crass expediency.

The hopeful vision that accompanied its founding in 1945 has long since evaporated. It was the United Nations which recognized Israel in 1947. Therefore the U.N. has a duty to protect her from forcible extinction and to live up to and enforce the U.N. Charter. If the U.N. fails to protect any of her members including Israel, then all that remains is a stench along the East River.

[...]

The record is clear. Too clear. It is time to stop the pretense that the U.N. is anything other than a hopelessly corrupt, ever mischievous, ever-conniving, ever anti-democratic, failed organization. It is time to stop looking to it for any honest brokering and to establish an alternative mechanism for dealing with the world's ills, and this time, let it be "by invitation only!"

The U.N. must be radically overhauled in a way that requires member states to be at least on the road to democracy and all voting rights to be restricted to established, representative democracies. If not, it is time to put the old slogan into effect: get the U.S. out of the U.N., and the U.N. out of the U.S.

|| Nudnik 9:45 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Monday, May 10, 2004


              Where is the Outrage?
So is this a "racist, apartheid" fence also?: "the United Nations is set to begin a slate of projects--including the construction [of] a new perimeter fence--to bolster safety and security measures at its New York Headquarters."
|| Nudnik 3:16 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Multi-Culturalism and Appeasement
Victor Hanson argues today in the Wall Street Journal that our inability or unwillingness to confront Islamofascism stems directly from the "post-modern", multicultural arguments of our intellectual class.

"So at precisely the time of these increasingly frequent terrorist attacks, the silly gospel of multiculturalism insisted that Westerners have neither earned the right to censure others, nor do they possess the intellectual tools to make judgments about the relative value of different cultures. And if the initial wave of multiculturalist relativism among the elites--coupled with the age-old romantic forbearance for Third World roguery--explained tolerance for early unpunished attacks on Americans, its spread to our popular culture only encouraged more.

This nonjudgmentalism--essentially a form of nihilism--deemed everything from Sudanese female circumcision to honor killings on the West Bank merely "different" rather than odious. Anyone who has taught freshmen at a state university can sense the fuzzy thinking of our undergraduates: Most come to us prepped in high schools not to make "value judgments" about "other" peoples who are often "victims" of American "oppression." Thus, before female-hating psychopath Mohamed Atta piloted a jet into the World Trade Center, neither Western intellectuals nor their students would have taken him to task for what he said or condemned him as hypocritical for his parasitical existence on Western society. Instead, without logic but with plenty of romance, they would more likely have excused him as a victim of globalization or of the biases of American foreign policy. They would have deconstructed Atta's promotion of anti-Semitic, misogynist, Western-hating thought, as well as his conspiracies with Third World criminals, as anything but a danger and a pathology to be remedied by deportation or incarceration."
The academic establishment promoted these ideas and convinced the public that we can not and should not judge the behaviour of others to create a paralysis in the Western world. We are afraid to condemn, to judge the terrorists and their supporters, because then we ourselves will be condemned by these fellow-travelers of the new totalitarianism.

The left hates Bush precisely because he does not subscribe to this non-judgementalism. Unlike Carter or Clinton, he has stated who he believes is evil and he has gone about trying to do something about them. "As Jimmy Carter also proved in November 1979, one man really can make a difference."
|| Nudnik 11:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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              Arafat moving
Last weeks there were a number of reports that Arafat was "fortifying" the Mukata, with concrete filled drums and old smashed cars, because he feared that Israel was preparing to attack his hovel. Yesterday's Jerusalem post reports that Egypt will move Arafat from Ramallah to Gaza. If true, and Arafat is moved, this would make an invasion of the Mukata much more certain. With no risk of killing Arafat, the IDF would undoubtedly go in to get the terrorists that Arafat has been sheltering there.
|| Nudnik 9:17 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
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Friday, May 07, 2004


              Happy Birthday!!!!
Nudnik and Nudnikette wish a very Happy Birthday to Boris Tenenbaum, loyal reader, contributor, and mentor!!!
|| Nudnik 6:41 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Mickey and Moore
The New Republic has an excellent assessment of the latest flap involving Michael Moore - Disney's refusal to distribute his new movie called Fahrenheit 911.

"Yes, it is a free country, but it is not a perfect one. Because in a perfect country, an irresponsible, intellectually dishonest windbag like Moore would not be a rich, successful, Oscar-winning documentarian. He would instead be just another anonymous nutter, mumbling about fluoride in the water and penning anti-establishment tracts by candlelight in some backwoods Appalachian shack. And he would never, ever find another funder for his "art."
[...]
Disney arguably would have a moral obligation to distribute "Fahrenheit 911," financial consequences be damned, if Moore were a serious journalist doing serious investigative work (and by serious I mean intellectually and factually rigorous, not humorless). But he is not. Moore has instead built a career on movies and books that, though classified as non-fiction, nonetheless treat facts like some vague, extremely malleable outline around which to construct his "art."
[...]
Fine. So you're an entertainer. Then don't wrap yourself in the Constitution and rage about how you're being censored because of your courageous crusade to reveal unpopular political truths. Don't pretend you're a muckraking journalist if you are, in fact, simply a dumpier, left-wing version of Ann Coulter. Like you, Coulter is flitting around this free country lobbing her share of ideological bombs. She just has the good sense not to expect Mickey Mouse to help her do it."

As is often the case with "artists" who try to shock, there is a complete misunderstanding of the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Private companies, like Disney are not subject to the requirements of the First Amendment. And as such, have the right to decide what they want to support and what they don't.

Additionally, contrary to what they may think, criticism of these "artists" is not censorship; it is criticism. Ultimately they are responsible for their words and deeds and should try to understand that people who disagree with them are as free to express their disagreement as these "artists" are to express their "art. And if they can't take it, then maybe they should choose other professions.
|| Nudnik 3:20 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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