The Nudnik File

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

Tuesday, August 31, 2004


              Freedom and Responsibility
Throughout all the speeches at this convention there are two main themes: freedom and individual responsibility. The speech that probably most expressed these themes was Arnold's, focusing on America as the land of opportunity because of these two virtues. Contrast these themes with the theme of the DNC - "help is on the way" in the form of the federal government.
|| Nudnik 10:26 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry's Iran Plan
Yesterday, John Edwards articulated an Iran policy of a potential Kerry Administration. Basically, the world would offer Iran a "great deal", in the words of Frank Gaffney:
They could keep their nuclear energy program and obtain for it Western supplies of enriched uranium fuel, provided the regime in Tehran promised to foreswear nuclear weapons. According to Sen. Edwards, if Iran did not accept this “bargain,” everyone – including our European allies – would recognize the true, military purpose of this program and would “stand with us” in levying on Iran what are described as “very heavy sanctions.”
Wasn't this policy already tried once with North Korea? The policy platform offered by Edwards brings to mind the classic definition of insanity - doing the same thing and expecting different results. It also reeks of the European reliance on soft power in foreign policy. What we see clearly demonstrated is the misguided expectation that countries will behave in a civilized manner because that is how we behave. Has not Iran already proven beyond a doubt that their promises are worthless? Do Kedwards really think that Iran will change? Once again the Democrats display a complete unseriousness on the most important issues of the day.
|| Nudnik 11:21 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Again
Another suicide bombing in Israel today claimed by Hamas. It happened in Beer Sheva, a city that has had almost no terrorist attacks. The only reason that it was there seems to be that thanks to the fence, terrorists can no longer infiltrate into other parts of Israel. But due to all the delays, especially from the various courts and Europe, the fence has not been built that far south. And while Europe continues to protest against the fence, they are building some of their own. The hypocrisy is rank.
|| Nudnik 10:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              More on Rudy's Speech
As I said last night, Rudy's speech was undoubtedly one of the best convention speeches in recent history (The transcript is here). Clearly, one of the goals of the speech was to attract the Jewish vote.
Terrorism did not start on September 11, 2001. It started a long time ago. And it had been festering for many years.

And the world had created a response to it that allowed it to succeed. The attack on the Israeli team at the Munich Olympics was in 1972. That's a long time ago.
[...]
In 1985, terrorists attacked the Achille Lauro. And they murdered an American citizen who was in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer. They marked him for murder solely because he was Jewish.
[...]
Terrorist acts became like a ticket to the international bargaining table. How else to explain Yasser Arafat winning the Nobel Peace Prize while he was supporting a plague of terrorism in the Middle East and undermining any chance of peace?
Powerline points out that one element that Rudy left out was the fact that the leader of the Achille Lauro hijacking was captured in Baghdad, drawing a direct line from terrorism to Iraq. I think another missed opportunity was to highlight the way that Israel dealt with those terrorists released by Germany; hunting down and killing them, one by one if necessary and with no time constraints, is how Bush has advocated dealing with terrorists from the beginning. This part of the speech was also an indictment of the European response to the terrorist threat, and a reminder of Kerry's deference to the Europeans in the War on Terror.
Remember, just a few months ago, John Kerry kind of leaked out that claim that certain foreign leaders who opposed our removal of Saddam Hussein prefer him.

Well, to me, that raises the risk that he might well accommodate his position to their viewpoint.

It would not be the first time that John Kerry changed his mind about matters of war and peace.
Giuliani's discussion of 9/11, was an amazing reminder of what that day and the following week felt like. Anyone who watched this would surely have been transported back, and felt once again the horror, sorrow, and anger.

Rudy then went into a very effective criticism of Kerry's lack of vision in this conflict, juxtaposing this with the vision of Churchill, Reagan and now Bush in their respective World Wars.
There are many qualities that make a great leader. But having strong beliefs, being able to stick with them through popular and unpopular times, is the most important characteristic of a great leader.

One of my heroes, Winston Churchill, saw the dangers of Hitler while his opponents characterized him as a war-mongering gadfly.

Another one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan, saw and described the Soviet Union as "the evil empire," while world opinion accepted it as inevitable and even belittled Ronald Reagan's intelligence.

President Bush sees world terrorism for the evil that it is.

John Kerry has no such clear, precise and consistent vision.
His criticism of Kerry's flip-flops was not done maliciously, but with humor, thereby making it that much more effective. It was not the hatred that Democrats express towards Bush, it was a mocking that showed that Kerry's "convictions" are laughable. And then he took away John Edwards's ability to ever again use his "Two America's" stump speech with this joke
Maybe this explains John Edwards' need for two Americas.

One is where John Kerry can vote for something and another where he can vote against exactly the same thing.
His anecdote about Bush's visit with the construction workers at Ground Zero was absolutely riveting and hilarious. Overall, an incredible speech.

John Podhoretz calls the speech a Stemwinder.
|| Nudnik 8:54 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Monday, August 30, 2004


              Rudy's Speech
Analysis will come later. Giuliani's speech was undoubtedly one of the best speeches of any convention in quite a while. It was plain-spoken at times, eloquent at times, moving at times, funny at times, and highly critical at times. In short, he is and will be one of Bush's most effective advocates in this election.
|| Nudnik 11:13 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Israeli Conspiracies
On Friday there was a report that the FBI was looking into a possible Israeli spy at the Pentagon. David Frum debunks that investigation.
Discussing policy options with knowledgeable people – and even with allied governments – is not “espionage.”

Which is why, after 18 months of investigation, the investigators were about to drop the matter. It looks as if whoever leaked the story of the investigation leaked it precisely because he or she was annoyed that the investigators were concluding that the whole thing was much ado about nothing.

But by cleverly shopping it to journalists who were eager to strike a blow at the Bush administration, a fizzle of a story was (at least temporarily) transformed into a one-day wonder.
Yet again, we see not only a flagrant media bias, but also the undercurrent of the Left anti-semitism that seeks "proof" to expose that the vast right wing conspiracy is led, "Protocols of Zion"-like by a vast Jewish neo-con cabal.

The American Thinker has more on this non-story.
|| Nudnik 11:10 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Why We Can't Leave Iraq
Greg Easterbrook in this New Republic article demonstrates the left's misunderstanding of the Iraq War and why it was fought leading to the erroneous conclusion that we can simply leave Iraq.
The United States invaded Iraq in order to depose Saddam Hussein and search for banned weapons. Hussein is now deposed, and no banned weapons were present. So why don't we leave?
Just as the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the cause of World War I, but not the reason, the two motives cited by Easterbrook were the cause, but not the true reason for the necessity of invading Iraq. As much as the Democrats want to deny that Iraq was linked to 9/11, the invasion of Iraq was undoubtedly linked to those attacks. The invasion of Iraq was necessary as the first step of "draining the swamp" of Arab tyranny, backwardness, and violence. Leaving now would assure that Iraq reverts to the old model of Arab governance and the Arab world continues to be a breeding ground of terrorism. Along this line, putting 150,000 US troops in the center of the Arab world has put pressure on other Arab governments to reform. Leaving now would kill any possibility that the reformers in the Arab world could gain a foothold.

Easterbrook continues from his initial flawed assumption to more flawed assumptions
But we're going to leave Iraq at some point; departure is inevitable. We should leave before yet more damage is done.
US troops have been in Europe for over 60 years since the end of World War II. If we adopt Norman Podhoretz's argument that the crisis facing the world should be conceptualized as World War IV, why can't US troops remain in the region just as long? Should US troops have left Europe after 2 years "before more damage [was] done"?

Easterbrook then makes the standard leftist comparison of Iraq to VietNam. I think this has been analyzed enough to not have to once again demonstrate the inaccuracy on that comparison.

The reason we can't leave Iraq is because our goals have not been accomplished; and won't be accomplished until the Arab world catches up to the rest of the world in consensual government. Undoubtedly this will take a long time, but the ultimate goal is surely worth the trouble.
|| Nudnik 9:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Friday, August 27, 2004


              Kerry and Israel
AllahPundit links to an interesting and edifying article from the Daily Star of Beirut. Augustus Richard Norton who has consulted the Kerry campaign has some predictions of what a Kerry Administration policy towards Israel would look like.
"Kerry is much more likely to change the process of consultation, much more likely to listen instead of acting thoughtlessly, much more likely to try and cooperate fully with international groupings, such as the EU and the UN."

He said a Kerry administration would probably regard the unofficial Geneva Accord drawn up last year by former Israeli and Palestinian government officials and peace negotiators as a "template" for resuming the Mideast peace process.

"I think it very likely we will specifically see Kerry embrace that kind of model," he said.
Is this Kerry trying to appeal to Arabs, or is this what he really thinks? And if this is his true intention, he has managed to hide it pretty well from American Jews.
|| Nudnik 1:08 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Ineptitude
Mark Steyn continues pounding away at John Kerry and his campaign's ineptitude at handling the SBVFT scandal.
I have no views on whether one or more of John Kerry’s bemedalled wounds from the Mekong Delta 35 years ago were self-inflicted — though the Kerry campaign, in its second big concession to his chastisers, now says his first Purple Heart-earning wound might have been ‘unintentionally self-inflicted’. But there’s no doubt every wound from the last 35 days is self-inflicted, beginning with the candidate’s disastrous decision at the Democratic Convention to play up Vietnam and play down Iraq, 9/11 and anything else that happened in the last 30 years. Since then Kerry’s shot himself in the foot so many times he ought to put in for a good dozen more Purple Hearts.

The flaw in the Senator’s strategy to run for president as a plucky 24-year-old Swift boat lieutenant was an obvious one. The argument that his Swift boat command demonstrates his superb qualities of leadership falls apart once you notice his striking lack of the first ingredient of leadership: followers. Aside from the three or four Swiftees who’ve been persuaded to travel around the country with him, all the hundreds of other Swiftvets loathe him, and many of them are determined to stick to him like DNA to Monica’s dress.
|| Nudnik 12:59 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Band of Brothers?
Nudnikette pointed out a very interesting picture in the New York Times movie review section. The review glowingly states
The film, subtitled "The Story of the Crew of Patrol Craft Fast 94," charmingly pretends to be a study of the six-man team that patrolled the Mekong Delta in early 1969 on the 94, treating the team's leader, the young John Kerry, as just one of the guys.
But look closely at the picture. This is not a "band of brothers", and Kerry is not "one of the guys". There are clearly two "groups" in this photo: the crew, and Kerry. Not noticing this is, in Nudnikette's words, visual illiteracy.

And here is some more visual commentary from the review of Bush's Brain, a hit piece on Karl Rove and by extension Bush. No bias here.....
|| Nudnik 12:35 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Why Kerry?
This is the question that is starting to come up more and more as we approach Election Day. It seems that the Democrats continue to respond to this question in only one way - he isn't Bush, which in itself is pretty meaningless. At some point a candidate needs to tell us what he is for, not just what he is against. But when Kerry tries to do this, the only things that come out are platitudes and generalizations. On the crucial question of the day, World War IV, Kerry is everywhere and thus nowhere. He promises to fight terrorism better, with more "sensitivity". But beyond that he has said nothing. On the economy, he has said that he would do better and create more jobs, but without ever actually saying how he would do this. Only for so long can a candidate define himself negatively, and at this point, his lack of a positive self-definition is hurting Kerry. In most polls, people say that they don't know enough about him and though they are not thrilled with Bush still can't bring themselves to vote for an unknown quantity.

So what is it? Why does Kerry want to be President, and why do Democrats think they should control the government? The answer - as most answers to questions for Democrats come down to - is entitlement. In the words of James Lileks
So why does Kerry want to be president?

The reason is almost tautological: John Kerry wants to be president because he is John Kerry, and John Kerry is supposed to be president. Hence his campaign's flummoxed and tone-deaf response to the swift boat vets. Ban the books, sue the stations, retreat, attack. Underneath it all you can sense the confusion. How dare they attack Kerry? He's supposed to be president. It's almost treason in advance.
An obvious part of this sense of entitlement is one that has been around for a while, and is perfectly represented by this Howell Raines piece in the Washington Post, is that Democrats are obviously smarter than Republicans. And the fact that this has not been recognized by the general population infuriates them. Charles Krauthammer does a great job analyzing this issue.
Actually, this time around, even more apoplectic. The Democrats' current disdain for George Bush reminds me of another chess master, Efim Bogoljubov, who once said, "When I am White, I win because I am White" -- White moves first and therefore has a distinct advantage -- "when I am Black, I win because I am Bogoljubov." John Kerry is a man of similar vanity -- intellectual and moral -- and that spirit thoroughly permeates the Democratic Party.

Democrats feel a mixture of horror and contempt for the huddled masses -- so bovine, so benighted, so besotted with talk radio -- who made a king of an empty-headed movie star (Reagan, long before Arnold) and inexplicably want the Republicans' current nitwit leader to have a second term.

For a party that bills itself as democratic, this is about as anti-democratic as can be.
|| Nudnik 10:19 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Thursday, August 26, 2004


              Bush Campaign Winning
At this point, the Bush campaign is running circles around the Kerry campaign. With each day, the Kerry campaign is looking more and more inept. The latest evidence of this is Bush's intention to go to court against the 527 groups. After all the Kerry whining and moaning about the SBVFT ads, Bush has put himself in a no-lose situation; he gets the benefits of the SBVFT ads and at the same time he gets to appear above this, especially by praising Kerry's VietNam service. Kerry is now forced to denounce MoveOn.org and similar groups, although they have been helping him with their $60 million of ads.
|| Nudnik 1:43 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Polls
The latest LA Times poll is out, and for the first time in that poll's election polling, it is showing a lead for Bush. Given that the LA Times has consistently suffered from selection bias, ie having more Democratic respondents than the percentage in the general population, this poll is terrible news for Kerry. Clearly the SBVFT ads have had an effect, as doubt on the trustworthiness of Kerry has been raised. Additionally, while Bush draws 15% of all Democrats, Kerry only manages to draw 3% of self-described Republicans. Bush clearly has been gaining momentum going into the RNC, and it will be interesting to see if he can get any bounce out of the convention. Interestingly, the Iowa Electronic Markets seem to confirm this momentum for Bush. In the last few days, there has been a dramatic move upwards for Bush.

Update: CNN/USAToday/Gallup just released their poll showing Bush leading 50% to 47%. Additionally, Bush's favorability rating is up to 54%, and Kerry's is the lowest it has been since January, at 52%.
•Bush leads Kerry 49%-43% on who would handle Iraq better. Kerry was ahead 48%-47% right after the convention.

•Bush leads Kerry 54%-37% on who would handle terrorism better. Kerry had risen to 41% after his convention.

•Bush leads Kerry 54%-34% on who people think is "a strong and decisive leader." Kerry had halved that lead to 10 points right after the convention.
|| Nudnik 11:00 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Little Ad That Could
Powerline links to an interesting article by David Frum, analyzing the surprising effectiveness of the SBVFT ads. I think the most important part of Frum's analysis, and the real reason that the ads were so effective is:
The vast majority of Americans had never heard of John Kerry until this year. So when he explained to them that he was born in a conservative western state to a military family; that he served in the forces himself and went on to a career punishing criminals--all these things created a certain image in their mind. When later evidence emerged to challenge that image, it didn't just affect the public perception of Kerry's past: The discovery that John Kerry hasn't been candid about his personal history has inevitably caused voters to wonder whether Kerry can be trusted in the future.
|| Nudnik 9:35 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


              It Just Doesn't Go Away
Senator Kerry, in an attempt to control the damage from the SBVFT ads, sent Max Cleland and Jim Rassman to Bush's ranch to deliver a letter. In response, he received this letter.
Dear Senator Kerry,

We are pleased to welcome your campaign representatives to Texas today. We honor all our veterans, all whom have worn the uniform and served our country. We also honor the military and National Guard troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today. We are very proud of all of them and believe they deserve our full support.
[...]
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t build your convention and much of your campaign around your service in Vietnam, and then try to say that only those veterans who agree with you have a right to speak up. There is no double standard for our right to free speech. We all earned it....
It seems that no matter what Kerry tries, this thing is just not going away. And with each new chapter, Kerry looks worse and worse. There is only one way for Kerry to make this all go away: answer all the questions, and release all the records. If not, this will continue to dog him until November, and possibly beyond.
|| Nudnik 3:36 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Dole on Kerry
A few days ago, after Bob Dole's TV comments urging Kerry to apologize to VietNam Vets, Kerry called Dole. The exchange, at least as Dole relates it, is very interesting.
|| Nudnik 3:07 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Terrorism?
Both Debka and the Northeast Intelligence Network are saying that yesterday's crash of the Russian airliners were terrorist attacks aimed at assassinating Putin. NIN goes on to say that judging from their analysis of various Arabic and Russian sites, this is the prelude to a new wave of attacks by al-Qaeda.
|| Nudnik 1:54 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Standing Up
The attacks on John Kerry have started to change now from questions about medals and combat to the issue that most Vets really care about: Kerry's activities immediately after his return from VietNam. Clearly Kerry's accusations of war crimes and other atrocities are offensive to the men who served there. Kerry is now trying to deflect these attacks by trying to claim the moral high ground. At a fundraiser last night Kerry said:
"I was taking care of things that made a difference to the life of this nation. You may not have agreed with me, but I stood up and was counted, and that's the kind of president I'm going to be."

Yes Kerry "stood up and was counted". But doesn't it matter that he "stood up" for the wrong side? There were many intellectuals who "stood up" for Stalin, even after the atrocities that he committed became generally known. Does the fact that they "stood up" make them somehow honorable or respectable? This is the essence of the post-modern, morally relativistic arguments - there is no right or wrong, as long as you have the "courage of your convictions". And this is the problem with Kerry's "nuance". Meeting with the North VietNamese communists and, in effect, supporting their allegations was wrong (morally and legally). There is nothing honorable in "standing up" for that. The fact that Kerry does not grasp the concept that there are right and wrong causes should disqualify him from the Presidency.
|| Nudnik 10:09 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


              US Policy Towards Israel
Rachel Neuwirth at the American Spectator takes a critical look at US policy towards Israel.
Nevertheless our policy of selective silence remains largely unchanged. We still ignore the existential danger to Israel, our most loyal and most supportive ally. But we also deliver another unintended lesson to our enemies and to our few remaining friends. The lesson is that the U.S. will betray a loyal friend in order to appease an enemy in the hope that it will somehow work to our benefit. Egypt, Arabia, France, China, Russia and others all betray us and yet we call them friends and there is no price for them to pay. And then we wonder why so may nations feel entirely free to turn against us.
The main problem of US policy towards Israel has been not allowing Israel to win. Looking back through history, it is evident that negotiations have never produced a resolution of a major conflicts; the only resolution has been by complete and total victory of one side over the other. By not allowing Israel to achieve total victory the US has prolonged the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In the wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973 the US (and UN and USSR) intervened to produce a cease-fire. Instead of buying good-will from the Arabs by saving them from destruction on each of those occasions, these actions emboldened them and convinced them that they have nothing to fear. Instead of spurring negotiation and resolution of the conflict, it helped to create Arab intransigence. Clearly one aspect of this US policy during the Cold War had to do with avoiding a direct confrontation with the Soviet Union. But even with the demise of the USSR, US policy has continued to restrain Israel. Throughout the '90s Israel was repeatedly forced by the US to make concessions to the Palestinians in return for nothing. Once again, this did not buy good-will but only more demands ultimately culminating in the Oslo War. And even after the start this war by the Palestinians, the US continued to hold Israel back; every incursion was met with condemnation, every assassination of an arch-terrorist with "concern". Had Israel been allowed to destroy the terror groups 3 years ago, we would be much closer to peace than we are now. As it stands now, until the Palestinians understand that they are fully and totally defeated there can not be peace.
|| Nudnik 2:44 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Swifties 2, Kerry 0
After having accused the SBVFT of being liars and out to smear him, the Kerry campaign now admits that
Kerry's campaign now says is possible first Purple Heart was awarded for unintentional self-inflicted wound...

Kerry received Purple Heart for wounds suffered on 12/2/68...

In Kerry's own journal written 9 days later, he writes he and his crew, quote, 'hadn't been shot at yet'...
So two of the "lies" have now been proven to be true, while none of Kerry's assertions have been proven. Will these admissions appear in the New York Times???
|| Nudnik 11:18 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry's Problems Continue
John Kerry's reaction to the SBVFT ads has forced the mainstream media to actually confront these allegations, and in the process has given the Swifties much more attention and exposure than they probably ever hoped for. More importantly, what it has exposed (or is in the process of exposing) is the key problem of the Kerry campaign, the claim that 4 months in VietNam is the reason to vote for Kerry. Mark Steyn, in a column that simply oozes contempt for Kerry, exposes the stupidity of the Kerry campaign strategy.
I said a couple of weeks back that John Kerry was too strange to be President, and a week or two earlier that he was too stuck-up to be President. Since I'm on an alliterative roll, let me add that he's too stupid to be President. What sort of idiot would make the centrepiece of his presidential campaign four months of proud service in a war he's best known for opposing?
[...]
How cocooned from reality do you have to be to think you can transform one of the most divisive periods in American history - in which you were largely responsible for much of the divisiveness - into a sappy, happy-clappy, soft-focus patriotic blur without anybody objecting? Most Vietnam veterans of my acquaintance loathe John Kerry, and, if he wasn't aware of that, he's too out of it to be President.
[...]
And even if he'd never slimed his comrades, there's something ridiculous about a fellow with four months in Vietnam running as Ike, the Duke of Wellington and Alexander the Great rolled into one. On Sunday, after calling on the Senator to apologise to the 2.5 million veterans he slandered, Bob Dole couldn't resist chipping in his own view of Kerry's wounds.

"Here's, you know, a good guy, a good friend. I respect his record. But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of," he said. "I mean, they're all superficial wounds." Dole's right arm is withered and useless from wounds received in World War Two, and he never made a big hoo-ha about it in the '96 campaign.

But, more significantly, Dole prizes bipartisan Senatorial chumminess over almost everything, and my guess is he wouldn't be slamming Kerry if he weren't so revolted by the unseemly showboating of this campaign. If Vietnam vets loathe him, World War Two vets seem to think he's a buffoon. Short of reversing over the last 128-year-old Spanish-American War veteran in the retirement home parking lot, it's hard to see how Kerry could more comprehensively diminish his military support.
Ralph Peters, meanwhile, brings up other reasons why veterans do not support Kerry, the main one being his lack of humility.
Finally - and this is the one the pundits have trouble grasping, given the self-promoting nature of today's culture - real heroes don't call themselves heroes. Honorable soldiers or sailors don't brag. They let their deeds speak for themselves. Some of the most off-putting words any veteran can utter are "I'm a war hero."

Real heroes (and I've been honored to know some) never portray their service in grandiose terms, telling TV cameras that they're reporting for duty. Real heroes may be proud of the sacrifices they offered, but they don't shout for attention.

This is so profoundly a part of the military code of behavior that it cannot be over-emphasized. The rule is that those who brag about being heroes usually aren't heroes at all. Bragging is for drunks at the end of the bar, not for real vets. And certainly not for anyone who wishes to trade on his service to become our commander-in-chief.
|| Nudnik 9:43 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              NY Times Editorial Wrong Again
One of the New York Times editorials today criticizes the Bush Administration for its tacit support of Israel's expansion of "settlements" in the West Bank. And as is usual for the New York Times Middle East reporting, they get things completely backward.
While designed to provide a short-term boost to Israel's embattled prime minister, Ariel Sharon, this cynical change in administration policy will have important long-term costs. It will further demoralize Israeli and Palestinian moderates, frustrate Washington's closest European and Middle Eastern allies, and undermine the American-backed road map peace plan, which, though a long shot, is the only current peaceful political alternative.
The continued reference to the "road-map" willfully ignores the facts on the ground - the road map is dead. It was killed when the Palestinians refused to abide by the first step, namely disarming and dismantling the terrorist organizations. Everything afterwards is irrelevant. To pretend otherwise is simply dishonest.

The Times then dives into the deep end of the pool of Middle East ignorance.
Settlements are such a sensitive matter because they cut directly to the core of the Israeli-Palestinian issue - the ultimate division of the land of Palestine.
This is the standard leftist view of the conflict that if we just partition the land (again), the Arabs will stop their war against Israel. Israel gave up all of the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for peace. And while Egypt is no longer technically at war with Israel, it is not at peace either. The Egyptian army trains with one goal in mind: war with Israel. The editorials of the government controlled press are no different in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic invective than the virulence emanating from the Hizbullah press or the Syrian or Iranian press.

The key point that the Times misses is that this conflict is not about land and not about settlements. It is, and has always been, existential in nature. Arabs continue to believe that Israel is an interloper on Arab land and must be destroyed. This is clearly shown by the fact that the Arabs believe, and openly state (if only the New York Times listened) that even Tel Aviv is a "settlement" to them.

Continuing in the vein that surrender by Israel is the only thing that will bring peace, the Times goes on to say
No one step by Israel would be likely to do more to restart peace talks and isolate Palestinian terrorists than announcing a genuine freeze on all settlement construction.
So the Times's prescription for restarting "peace talks" is Israel's acceding to the demands of the terrorists. This is about as inane as it gets, but typical for the Times. Does the Times really think that agreeing to one demand of the terrorists will not encourage them to continue terrorism in getting more concessions, in the belief that their tactics work?

The blame for this type of thinking rests on the lack of historical knowledge and perspective of the Times editors. Never mind the actual legal status of the West Bank (or lack thereof). If settlements are the core of the Arab-Israeli conflict, why is it that there were constant terrorist attacks against Israel even before Israel captured the West Bank in 1967? If the settlements are the key issue, why were they left out of the Oslo Accords? And if the goal is a democratic Palestinian state, why would they be so opposed to Jews living in their midst? What the Times and the left proposes, in its opposition to "settlements", is the ethnic cleansing of Jews from land that is part of the historic homeland. The problem is not the settlements; the problem is the continuing refusal of the Arabs to accept Israel. Until that changes there will not be peace, no matter what Israel does regarding the settlements or anything else.
|| Nudnik 8:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Monday, August 23, 2004


              Kerry's Response
Last week, after the big media finally noticed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the Kerry campaign decided to respond to the ads. But having no real arguments against what the Swifties were saying, the Kerry campaign decided to attack the people conveying the message. Additionally, Kerry, parroting the New York Times article of last week has attacked the Bush campaign for allegedly being behind these ads because of its "connections" with the main contributors to the Swifties. And Kerry has demanded that Bush tell the SBVFT to take down the ads. This last demand is disingenuous at best. Someone in the Kerry must know that campaigns can't coordinate with the 527 groups, either positively or negatively; that is, just as the Bush campaign can't tell a 527 when and where they should put up an ad, they can't tell them to take an ad down either.

Using the same arguments that the Kerry campaign has made regarding Bush connections to SBVFT, one can show the clear Kerry connections to such 527s as MoveOn.org. Blogs for Bush has a great chart of the connections. Additionally, if this report from the American Spectator is correct, the Kerry campaign has been in violation of the campaign finance laws.
In fact, according to a Kerry campaign volunteer, staff members and volunteers of the Kerry campaign in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles have been in almost constant contact with MoveOn.org staffers, including advanced viewing and reviews of MoveOn.org television commercials, online ads, and web content. As well, MoveOn.org staffers provided the Kerry campaign with opposition research within the past two months, as well as advance looks at speeches made by MoveOn.org speakers, including former Vice President Al Gore.

"We're always running into those guys," says a Kerry campaign volunteer in Washington, about MoveOn.org staffers. "We socialize with them, we see them at meetings, we can't avoid it. And of course we talk about the campaign. In some cities, we get our volunteers from MoveOn. No one has ever raised an issue about it."
Of course, I don't expect the "mainstream" media to ever point out something like this.
|| Nudnik 10:24 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Iran's War on the US
Amir Taheri has a good account of the history of Iran's war against the US. In the past few weeks Iran has been making more and more threatening noises, both against the US and against Israel. Iran is trying to establish itself as the hegemon of the region now that the US has gotten rid of one of its main adversaries. At the same time, Iran is very nervous about the US presence in the area. In effect, the US has surrounded Iran with nations friendly to the US, as well as with actual US troops in surrounding countries.

At the same time, more and more information has been coming out regarding Iran's complicity with and support for al-Qaeda. One question is if the US is hit with another terrorist attack by al-Qaeda, how will the US respond to it vis-a-vis Iran. Clearly if the Bush doctrine is still in force, Iran will have to be the next target of the War on Terror. Taking on Iran militarily, however, will be significantly more difficult than Iraq or Afghanistan. Clearly Iran will be a huge foreign policy issue in the next few years. And just as clearly Kerry, given his world-view of pacifism and non-confrontation, is not up to the task of facing down the Mullahs.
|| Nudnik 9:34 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Friday, August 20, 2004


              Maybe Some Fences Are Good
Europe has been at the forefront of the campaign to not allow Israel to defend her citizens by putting up a fence to keep terrorists out. The ICJ, with the full backing of Europe even ruled that the fence was illegal. However, Europe apparently approves of some "apartheid" fences. Never mind their lack of objection to the fence that Saudi Arabia is building on its disputed border with Yemen, or the fence that India is building in disputed Kashmir. Turns out, Europe is building its own fence to keep out "unwanteds". And to add to the hypocrisy
is a report that recently surfaced in the Israeli business magazine Globes that the EU was going to use the experts in "separation fence" construction to build their fence -- Israeli companies. Globes reports that Magal Security Systems is "expected to sign a cooperation agreement with a major Western company for building fence and command and control systems in Eastern Europe."
|| Nudnik 12:34 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry on War
The New Republic, not usually considered a part of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, has a scathing editorial(registration required) on Kerry's position regarding the future of Iraq.
Listening to John Kerry's recent evolution on Iraq makes us wistful for the John Kerry of old--the John Kerry whose position on the war was contorted to the point of near incomprehension. True, the candidate's explanation of his 2002 vote to authorize force against Iraq may have varied by campaign stop, and true, his vote against the $87 billion for reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan represented the triumph of politics over policy. But, looking forward, Kerry usually sounded a responsible note. In April, for example, Kerry said "it would be unwise beyond belief for the United States of America to leave a failed Iraq in its wake."

The good news is that Kerry's position on the war is no longer inscrutable. The bad news is that it is now indefensible. In the space of a month, the Democratic standard-bearer has gone from a pledge to bring troops home during his first term in the White House, to a pledge to bring troops home during his first year in office, to a pledge to bring them home during the first six months of his administration. Today, well, he just wants to bring the troops home. Hence his latest applause line: "We're going to get our troops home where they belong!"
The problem with Kerry is not simply his flip-flopping, or his position on Iran, or on his reliance on outdated and useless alliances. The main problem is his world-view in general - a pacifist, postmodern, therapeutic reliance on consensus rather than leadership. This is not something that we can afford, especially with confrontations with Iran and North Korea looming.
|| Nudnik 11:24 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Swift Boat Vets Finally Get Noticed
Today the New York Times finally has a front-page article on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their allegations against Kerry. The article is simply astounding. The whole point of this lengthy piece is to demonstrate connections between the SBVFT and the Bush Administration. And it turns out (surprise, surprise) that SBVFT are supported by Republicans, and that some of these Republicans have also contributed to the Bush campaign, and some may even know Karl Rove. Its great to see the "newspaper of record" journalists use their probing journalistic skills to discover the obvious - Republicans are against Kerry. There is absolutely no investigation of the actual claims of the SBVFT, only attacks on the accusers.

Instapundit has more analysis of this article.

RealClearPolitics.com doesn't think that it was a very good idea for Kerry to respond to the SBVFT the way he did. His opinion is that all these questions about Kerry's war record, will inevitably lead to more attention on his anti-war activities which could be even more damaging for his campaign.
|| Nudnik 10:39 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Bringing the Troops Home
In the past few days, the Bush Administration has proposed one of the largest and most significant redeployments of the US military in the last 50 years. As would be expected, Sen. Kerry instantly and reflexively condemned removing troops from Europe and South Korea, despite the fact that he had called for removing troops from Korea twice this year. Charles Krauthammer's and Victor Hanson's columns are devoted to this issue. Krauthammer takes the Democrats to task for their illogical response to this proposal.
The Democrats' response is a classic demonstration of reactionary liberalism, the reflexive defense of the status quo long after its raison d'être has evaporated. John Kerry adviser Wesley Clark protested vigorously: "As we face a global war on terror with Al Qaeda active in more than 60 countries, now is not the time to pull-back our forces."

He cannot be serious. How exactly are the 72,000 American troops in Germany fighting al Qaeda? A lot of good they did in uncovering the al Qaeda cell in Hamburg that carried out the Sept. 11 attacks
[...]
The New York Times editorial page offered this reason for maintaining the status quo: Otherwise, "the military will also lose the advantage that comes with giving large numbers of its men and women the experience of living in other cultures." Seventy-thousand GIs parked in Stuttgart, practicing their German and listening to Wagner. Finally, a military deployment the New York Times can support.
Hanson, meanwhile, looks somewhat optimistically at the effects that this redeployment will have on Europe.
The real significance, inasmuch as many airbases and depots will stay, is symbolic and psycho-sociological. Unwittingly, we had created an unhealthy passive-aggressiveness in Europe that clinicians might identify as a classic symptom of dependency. Europe — now larger and more populous than the United States — has reduced defense investment to subsidize a variety of social expenditures found nowhere in the world. So insular had its utopians become under the aegis of NATO's subsidized protection that it was increasingly convinced that the ubiquitous United States was the world's rogue nation, the last impediment to a 35-hour work week, cradle-to-grave subsidies, and wind power the world over.

A once-muscular and hallowed NATO has become a Potemkin alliance. The more jetting grandees praised the "historic role of the Trans-Atlantic partnership," the more its logic dictated that it would deploy only where there were no enemies of the West — parading and maneuvering where there were never dangers, bickering and recriminating about going where there always were.

Europe, as the perpetual adolescent, took potshots at its doting parent, always with the assumption that Dad would still hand over the keys, ignore the cheap sass, and "be there for me" if the car ended up in the ditch.
[...]
Gut-check time is approaching. In places like Brussels, Berlin, and Oslo, in the next half-century citizens will slowly decide who wishes and does not wish to be an ally of the United States of America. Some will prefer opportunistic neutrality and thus go the Swedish and Swiss route. Others in their folly may ape French and Spanish bellicosity, and think isolating the U.S., selling weapons to the Middle East, or going on maneuvers with the Chinese might work. Still more may prefer to remain staunch friends like the Poles and Italians, realizing that, for all the leftist slurs about unilateralism, never in the history of civilization has such a powerful country as the United States sought advice and cooperation from weaker friends about the wisdom, efficacy, and consequences of using its vast military.

But this is no parlor game any more. Islamic fascism, scary former Soviet republics, rogue Middle Eastern nuclear states, an ever more proud and muscular China thirsty for oil — these and more specters are all out there and waiting, waiting, waiting...

Welcome back to the world, Europe.
|| Nudnik 10:11 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Thursday, August 19, 2004


              Accident or "Accident"?
For some reason, I don't think this was entirely accidental. But on the other hand, maybe this will convince the good Senator that "profiling" is a good idea.
|| Nudnik 6:32 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Losing the Shia
Battles continue to rage on in Najaf in what at this point is a must-win battle for the US, and possibly for the future of Iraq. Michael Rubin, in a pretty disturbing article thinks that no matter how things end up with al-Sadr, the US has suffered some serious damage in prestige among Iraq's Shia.
|| Nudnik 4:11 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              This, They Notice
A Washington Post article this morning finally takes up the criticism of Kerry's VietNam record, even doing their own research into it. But, as would be expected, the article is critical not of Kerry but of one of the men making the allegations against Kerry. WaPo went so far as to actually get the service records of one of the men, Larry Thurlow, showing that in the engagement where Kerry received his Bronze Star the boats actually did come under fire, countering what Thurlow attested to in a recent affidavit. What is interesting here is that while the Post completely ignored the Kerry in Cambodia story, they picked up pretty quickly on this one.

It seems to me that this issue is getting tired. It may be helping Bush a little bit, but on the other hand it is allowing the campaign to be framed on Kerry's terms. The Bush campaign needs to focus on issues that are relevant today not 35 years ago. Attacking Kerry on his Senate record (or lack thereof) and on his current stances on the War on Terror, as well as on his possible actions towards Iran would be much more effective of a strategy for the Bush Campaign. This VietNam controversy is just noise at a time when there are real issues of life and death.
|| Nudnik 10:06 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


              Flypaper and Quagmire
David Warren was one of the first commentators to propound the idea of US presence in Iraq as flypaper - the jihadis are attracted to the place where the US is most able to deal with them (i.e. kill them). He now believes that "quagmire" is the second step of the flypaper process, and is exactly what is needed to actually succeed in changing the despotic nature of Arab regimes.
I shocked, or tried to shock, a prominent Washington "neoconservative" over lunch the other day by declaring that the Iraqi mission was a complete success. "I hoped the U.S. would get into a quagmire in Iraq, and now they' re in the quagmire. The operation has in fact gone more smoothly than I could have foreseen." This is because, as I went on to explain, simply by being there, and not budging, the U.S. has moved the focus of the international Jihad from the West back to the East.

We thus return to the "flypaper hypothesis" I first expounded a couple of years ago, in which the U.S. hangs out its flypaper far away from home, and also as far from Israel as possible, to collect as many as possible of the world's moveable Jihadis in a place where the U.S. has installed the equipment to kill them.

It's working, after a fashion. Iraq continues to soak the enemy up. But whereas I formerly thought the Bush administration had adopted this policy consciously, I now realize it was a happy accident. They have consciously "taken the battle to the enemy", but the quagmire -- the "flypaper" -- was hung by mistake.

Which makes the U.S. hesitate to do what needs to be done next, given the existence of fly-hatcheries all over the region. And that is to put out more flypaper, by moving U.S. troops on, over Iraq's frontiers. Or to put it another way, it is time to create a few more quagmires.
|| Nudnik 11:49 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Alliances
Ronald Asmus, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs, argues that the Bush Administration decision to take US troops out of Europe is wrong and destructive to US foreign policy. His argument is one that is common to the Democrats today - a knee-jerk reliance on and support for "alliances" and "multi-lateral institutions" for their own sake, rather than based on an evaluation of what these alliances can accomplish.
The planned withdrawal of U.S. troops from Europe and Asia that President Bush announced this week, if allowed to stand, could lead to the demise of the United States' key alliances across the globe, including the one that Truman considered his greatest foreign policy accomplishment: NATO.
NATO was created as a military alliance 60 years ago to counter the Soviet threat in Europe. The Soviet threat is gone, yet NATO remains. As a military alliance, NATO is pretty much worthless at this point. Beyond invoking the mutual defense clause of the alliance after the 9/11 attacks on the US, NATO did very little. Sure some NATO troops deployed to Afghanistan, but the numbers deployed were a joke and due to the decrepit nature of their militaries our allies couldn't even get their own troops to the war zone - the US had to airlift them there. Maybe its time to realize that an institution established in the 1940's has outlived its usefulness in today's world.

Asmus goes on to describe the objectives of NATO. The first one is:
help ensure that peace and stability on the continent would endure
I would have to say that this has been accomplished already. Europe has been peaceful and stable for quite a while and removing 100,000 soldiers from Germany is unlikely to alter this. The second objective is:
have the capacity to support NATO and European Union expansion and project the communities of democracies eastward
This has also been accomplished as virtually all of Eastern Europe is now part of the EU. And the final objective is:
provide the political and military glue to enable our allies to reorient themselves militarily and prepare, together with the United States, to address new conflicts beyond the continent's borders.
What does this mean? Is Asmus saying that keeping US soldiers in Germany will help modernize the European militaries? The troops have been there for quite a while, and this has contributed to a degradation of European armed forces, as the Europeans figured that since the US was protecting them there was no need to build up their own defense. More importantly, "address[ing] new conflicts beyond the continent's borders" is exactly a reason for moving the troops out of Europe. Given that the threat we are facing is coming from the Middle East and Central Asia, it makes a lot more sense to have troops there than in central Europe where they are doing nothing. Yes alliances are important, but in the words of Walter Lippman
An alliance is like a chain. It is not made stronger by adding weak links to it. A great power like the United States gains no advantage and it loses prestige by offering, indeed peddling, its alliances to all and sundry. An alliance should be hard diplomatic currency, valuable and hard to get, and not inflationary paper from the mimeograph machine in the State Department.
something the Democrats, in their quest to be liked by all, don't understand.
|| Nudnik 10:40 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Cambodian Candidate
Tony Blankley compares Kerry's Cambodia story to the original boat ride into Cambodia story.
Did John Kerry's mission ever exist? Was it known only to the CIA and God -- or not even to them? Is John Kerry dreaming of being Martin Sheen's Capt. Willard in "Apocalypse Now" or Martin Sheen's President Bartlet in "The West Wing"? That is the thing about dreams: They merge and twist, and generally lack linear reality.

It may now be dawning on John Kerry that he is living out Colonel Kurtz's Cambodian nightmare: "I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor ... and surviving." So far, John Kerry continues to slither ... and survive.

But the American political jungle is every bit as disorienting and suddenly lethal as the one he emerged from 30 years ago. John Kerry's tangled memory and war braggadocio has been mismanaged by him and his campaign team. They have given too many inconsistent answers, thus forcing the hand of major media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Knight-Ridder and the Boston Globe to start reporting the story.

Even self-admitted Kerry supporter Joan Vennochi wrote in her Boston Globe column this week that: "Kerry's statements about Cambodia do have traction for opponents ... (his spokesmen's) answer aren't good enough. ... He should answer every question voters have about it -- and he should answer himself."

I love the smell of political lies in the morning. ... The smell, you know ... smells like ... defeat.
|| Nudnik 10:23 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry's Support
John Kerry and his campaign have stated on a number of occasions that foreign leaders support him over President Bush in this election. Having refused to name those leaders, we are left to judge for ourselves who those leaders could be. Amir Taheri seems to have discovered one source of that foreign support - the Arab world.
Since almost all Arab regimes could be described as despotic, it is clear that they all feel targeted by Bush's calls for reform and democratization.

Bush has committed himself to changing Washington's 60-year-old policy of supporting the status quo in the region. It is, therefore, no surprise that all regimes in the region feel threatened to some degree. Their hope is that under a President Kerry, the United States would abandon Bush's "adventurous attempt to remould the region."
And this is exactly the reason why Bush must win. A Kerry victory will return us to the pre-9/11 policies of appeasement and status-quo, policies that we can not afford if we are to face down and triumph over Islamofascism.
|| Nudnik 10:08 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


              End the Occupation!!!!
The protestors demanded, and Bush has finally listened - he is ending one occupation:
Bush Declares End to Occupation of Germany
(2004-08-16) -- President George Bush today announced that the United States would begin "drawing down" its military forces in Germany, signaling the impending end of the U.S. occupation of post-Third Reich Germany and thus the official end of World War II.

"The dictator is gone and it's time for the German people to chart their own course," said Mr. Bush. "Their land is now safe for democracy and our mission is accomplished."

Meanwhile, Democrat presidential candidate John Forbes Kerry said he would have voted to give authority to the president to remove troops from Germany, "but I oppose the way the president is going about it."

"It's good that the dictator is gone, and that World War II is over" said Mr. Kerry, who is also a U.S. Senator, "but does the president have a plan to win the peace?"
Mark Steyn weighs in on the end of this 60 year defense of Europe.
In the largest military realignment in years, Washington plans to withdraw 70,000 troops plus 100,000 family members and support personnel from overseas US bases. That means, for the most part, from Europe.

This will undoubtedly be welcome news to the likes of Goran Persson, the Swedish prime minister, who famously declared that the purpose of the European Union is that "it's one of the few institutions we can develop as a balance to US world domination". It must surely be awfully embarrassing to be the first superpower in history to be permanently garrisoned by your principal rival superpower. But it's also grand news for those of us who've long argued that America's six-decade security guarantee to Europe has been a massive strategic error.

The basic flaw in the Atlantic "alliance" is that, for almost all its participants, the free world is a free lunch: a defence pact of wealthy nations in which only one guy picks up the tab.
[...]
Like any other form of welfare, defence welfare is a hard habit to break and profoundly damaging to the recipient. The peculiarly obnoxious character of modern Europe is a logical consequence of Washington's willingness to absolve it of responsibility for its own security. Our Defence Editor, John Keegan, once wrote that "without armed forces a state does not exist".
Germany is not thrilled about this realignment because the bases provided thousands of jobs in the communities where they were located. But everyone who looks at the strategic usefulness of these bases can clearly see that they were entirely useless where they were. Additionally, in the run-up to the Iraq War some European countries would not eve allow us to move those troops through their territory to get them to Kuwait. In effect, the US was providing 100,000 plus consumers for Germany's economy; and now they will have to get some of their own.
|| Nudnik 1:23 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Right to Cell Phone
The American Spectator has a good article about the Palestinian prisoner hunger strike.
In Israel this week Palestinian terrorists are using the old liberal prop of the hunger strike to demand that they be allowed to coordinate terrorist strikes from Israeli jail cells. Fourteen-hundred Palestinian prisoners say that they will starve themselves to death unless their Israeli jailers provide them with phones, allow them to meet visitors unimpeded by security glass, and stop strip searching them. Perhaps cell phones in jail can be added to the United Nations' catalogue of rights.
Meanwhile, Israel is planning barbecues in the jails to try to entice the prisoners to break their strike.
|| Nudnik 1:15 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Najaf
If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.
-Napoleon


The current fighting and negotiating in Najaf perfectly exemplifies how the US is able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. There should be no negotiations with al-Sadr or his gang. The only possible solution to this "uprising" is to mercilessly crush it and kill al-Sadr. Every time we allow negotiations we simply give this thug more legitimacy (See this Cox&Forkum cartoon). Ralph Peters outlines the mistakes we are making and what needs to be done.
Our troops fight in streets and alleys, amid civilian populations, against unscrupulous opponents determined to run out the clock until the political referees toss a flag. A hostile media not only magnifies American errors, but invents American atrocities. Our allies panic, followed by our own leaders.

The new American way of war is to quit on the edge of victory.

This really isn't hard to figure out: When we fail to win fast, we lose. Our military is slowly digesting the lesson, but our political leaders ignore the truth entirely. They don't want "excessive" casualties or collateral damage. So we dither. And, over months and years, the casualties and damage soar beyond what a swift victory would have cost.

Now the feckless dithering in the White House and the Pentagon has resulted in an even more difficult situation in Iraq, with the addition of yet another political layer. By delaying resolute action against Sadr until sovereignty was handed over, we gave a minority of Iraqis a veto over what must be done to protect the majority.
[...]
A point may come soon when it just won't be worth risking the lives of our troops any longer. If we cannot fight to win, we're foolish to spend our soldiers' blood for nothing. If Iraq lacks the will to save itself, our troops won't be able to save it. And then there is the bogus issue of mosques, which our leaders approach with superstition, not sense. While Najaf's Imam Ali shrine truly is a sacred place, the fact is that there are mosques and there are mosques.

Our unwillingness to target even a derelict neighborhood mosque packed with ammunition, weapons and terrorists is not only militarily foolish — it's based upon the assumption that Muslims are so stupid that they don't know the rules of their own religion. That's nonsense. They know that mosques aren't supposed to be used as bunkers. But they're not going to shout it from the rooftops to help us out.
|| Nudnik 11:33 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Jewish Support for Kerry
Ha'aretz, the left-wing Israeli newspaper, prints an article about a poll of US Jews purporting to show that 75% will vote for Kerry and only 22% for Bush. While results like these would be very negative for Bush, this poll actually shows nothing except the bias of Ha'aretz in writing about it. The poll itself is biased on at least two levels. First, who it was done by:
A poll conducted in the U.S. for the National Jewish Democratic Council by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner, the polling and political consultancy that worked for Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak in the past.
And second the pool of people polled:
This poll was conducted by making an appeal for respondents through the Internet to known Jewish population centers and then adjusting the results according to known national data.
In terms of scientific polling, this is about as meaningless as a poll can get. The fact that Ha'aretz chose to publish it is simply an indication of its preference in this election.
|| Nudnik 10:39 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Zakaria's Confusion
Fareed Zakaria writes today about the continuing debate about whether it was right to invade Iraq, and in so doing wanders into the confusion that the soft left encounters when analyzing the issue. At first, Zakaria asserts that Kerry is right and that Bush is being disingenuous in saying that his decision on Iraq would be the same even with the knowledge that WMDs would not be found.
Is Bush suggesting that despite this knowledge he would still have concluded that Iraq constituted a "grave and gathering threat" that required an immediate, preventive war? Please.
Yet, he then goes on to show that the sanctions regime had become a farce, and that undoubtedly when those would be removed, Saddam would have restarted (or reaccelerated) his WMD programs which we know existed. So then what is the issue? Should we have invaded or not? His argument is then that while it may have been the right thing to invade Iraq, the way that the Bush Administration did it was wrong.
Did the United States have to go to war before the weapons inspectors had finished their job? Did it have to junk the U.N. process? Did it have to invade with insufficient troops to provide order and stability in Iraq? Did it have to occupy a foreign country with no cover of legitimacy from the world community? Did it have to ignore the State Department's postwar planning? Did it have to pack the Iraqi Governing Council with unpopular exiles, disband the army and engage in radical de-Baathification? Did it have to spend a fraction of the money allocated for Iraqi reconstruction -- and have that be mired in charges of corruption and favoritism? Was all this an inevitable consequence of dealing with the problem of Saddam Hussein?
In response to the first two questions, is 12 years of inspections and UN "process" not enough time? How much longer should we have waited? And does he really believe that if we had just begged the UN a little more, France and Russia would have agreed to an invasion? For an astute political observer, Zakaria is either being naive or simply ignoring facts that don't fit his argument.

As to the other questions, it is easy to say now that something the Administration did didn't work. But to say that there was no plan, is simply wrong. A large part of the problem with the post-war occupation was the result of the military plan succeeding much better than anticipated. No one expected that Baghdad would fall so quickly - the expectation was that it would take at least a month to take the city. And in that time, the additional troops - the 4th Infantry Division which was supposed to come South through Turkey until the Turks refused, as well as various MP and civil affairs units - would have had time to arrive in Iraq to stabilize the situation on the ground. Not withstanding Zakaria's Monday-morning-quarterbacking, there was a plan but as so often happens it did not "survive first contact with the enemy". Arguing that we should have done it, but done it differently is a cop-out. The fact is that a President Kerry would have never invaded Iraq. And that is where the difference lies.
|| Nudnik 9:54 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Monday, August 16, 2004


              Stem Cells and the Politics of Science
Since the DNC, much has been said about stem-cell research by various Democrats. Clearly this is an issue that is important because it could potentially provide cures for a number of diseases. Clearly it requires serious analysis and debate, and just as clearly there has been no real debate, only simplistic, misleading (and oftentimes mendacious) slogans that obscure the real issues.
"What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery -- like stem cell research -- and treat illness for millions of lives?"

"Sound like magic? Welcome to the future of medicine."

"lift the ban" and "unleash the wonders of discovery."
These are all quotes from speakers at the DNC, and all they accomplish is the politicization of science. The last two quotes are intentionally misleading, giving people the impression that the Bush Administration has imposed a "ban" on any research on stem cells and has cut off all funds for it. As Anne Applebaum points out, this is completely false.
Stem cell research is not, in fact, either illegal or unfunded: The federal budget in 2003 included $24.8 million for human embryonic stem cell research -- up from zero in 2000. Private funding of stem cell research, which is unlimited, runs into the tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars.
Additionally, to say that the results of stem cell research will produce a panacea is irresponsible. At this point, we know very little about what the possibilities of the research are. There have been a number of promising research routes recently, and then as now there were promises of new technology that would cure everything. The Human Genome Project and gene therapy were two such innovations that despite huge promise have produced few real results. It is possible that stem cell research will produce cures, but it is just as possible that it will produce little.

One potential gauge for the usefulness of this research is the level of investment in this research by private companies. If the results were as certain and as close as the Democrats would have us think, why aren't the big drug companies investing billions of dollars into this research. Clearly any company would be interested in technology with such promise. The fact that private investments have not been at such a level is an indication of the risks and uncertainties in this technology.

I don't think that the stem cell research issue will be a major one in the election, but it is another indication of the politicization of science. Such politicization can only hurt scientific discovery, as it causes the sides to become entrenched in their views, and less open to new ideas.
|| Nudnik 12:20 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Jihadist Ideology
Since 9/11 there have been two explanations for why we were attacked. For the Left, the reason was that our actions (and inactions) in the Middle East angered Muslims who sought then to exact revenge on us. Alternatively, the Right contended that the reason we were attacked was for who we are - for our free society. As this article describes, both of these analyses are incorrect; we were attacked because that is the ideology of Islam.
In other words, the left believes that the Islamists hate us for our sins, and the right believes that they hate us for our virtues. Both sides commit the same narcissistic fallacy of thinking that the Islamist holy war against the West revolves solely around ourselves, around the moral drama of our goodness or our wickedness, rather than having something to do with Islam itself.
[...]
Using Muhammed as their model, the jihadis live and think and act within paradigms provided by the stages of Muhammed’s political and military career. According to Habeck, this internally driven logic of Islam, and not any particular provocation, real or imagined, by some outside power, is the key to understanding why the jihadis do what they do.
[...]
What is most striking in the Method of Muhammed is the utter absence of any transcendent notion of morality. Unlike in traditional Western religion and philosophy, where God or the Good is the measure of human actions, in Islamism (which after all is simply a pure form of Islam) the measure of human actions is the shifting power tactics and military strategies of a desert brigand and war leader.
It is understandable why we come up with these explanations for the behavior of the Islamists - we do not understand their culture and so transfer our values and ways of thinking to them. This is the same kind of thinking that makes some in the West think that if only we sat down with them, we could come to an agreement. No matter what bin Laden says in his video and audio tapes, or what other Islamist leaders say publicly (MEMRI.org provides excellent translations of speeches and writings from the Arab world), we refuse to be shaken from our mistaken belief that there is something we can do that will actually change the way Islamists see us or what they want to do to us.
|| Nudnik 10:16 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Missing WMDs
The Washington Times seems to be the only major newspaper that is reporting that more evidence will be presented by the Iraq Survey Group showing that Iraqi WMDs were moved to Syria right before the start of the war.
Two defense sources told The Washington Times that the ISG has interviewed Iraqis who told of Saddam's system of dispatching his trusted Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) to the border, where they would send border inspectors away.
The shift was followed by the movement of trucks in and out of Syria suspected of carrying materials banned by U.N. sanctions. Once the shipments were made, the agents would leave and the regular border guards would resume their posts.
|| Nudnik 9:55 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Death of the Left
In an excelent column in New Statesman, Nick Cohen looks at what has happened to the Left.
The obvious conclusion to draw at the moment is that we are living in a rerun of the 1930s, and the liberal left is once again sucking up to tyranny. It is easy to think that way. Look at how the democratic left in Britain proved its futility and played into Tony Blair's hands when it allowed the Marxist-Leninist Socialist Workers Party to lead the anti-war movement.
[...]
Yet the idea that history is repeating itself fails to take account of the weirdness of the times. If the fact that the anti-war movement was as much under the control of the religious fundamentalists of the Muslim Association of Britain as the political totalitarians of the SWP doesn't convince you, look again at the three examples I gave. They are all symptoms of a left that has swerved to the right. Saddam Hussein may have slavishly followed Stalin's methods of dealing with his opponents, but his Ba'ath Party was inspired by Nazi Germany and its programme of exterminating impure ethnic minorities was recognisably fascist.
[...]
The ineluctable answer is, I'm afraid, that there no longer is a left with a coherent message of hope for the human race. The audiences at Michael Moore films don't look at his propaganda images of kite-flying kiddies and pull themselves up short by thinking of what happened to their comrades in Iraq. They have no comrades. They don't support Saddam. They don't support his foes. They have no policy to offer. The noise of their self-righteous anger is merely a cover for an indifference bred by failure.

Marxist-Leninism is as dead as any idea can be - it made the fatal blunder of putting its ideas into practice and died of shame. Fifty years ago, there were revolutionary socialist movements in dozens of countries ready to take power. Today there isn't one, and the world is a better place for that.
[...]
Unless you believe that the failure of the world's peoples to look leftwards is all the result of brainwashing by the corporate media, you have to conclude that the left is dead. The anger that propelled it is still there, and although it won many battles, some of the oppressions it fought against remain as grievous as ever.

The pity of the aftermath is that while the honourable traditions of the left are forgotten, the worst flourish and mutate into aberrations that would have made our predecessors choke.
|| Nudnik 9:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Sunday, August 15, 2004


              The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Relative Truth
Mark Steyn takes on the recent relative truths of the Democrats and their nominee.
"My truth is that I am a gay American,'' announced Gov. James McGreevey to the people of New Jersey last Thursday.

That's such an exquisitely contemporary formulation: ''my'' truth. Once upon a time, there was only ''the'' truth. Now everyone gets his own
[...]
Which brings us to John Kerry. What is his unique truth? In 1986, on the floor of the United States Senate, he said:

''I remember Christmas of 1968, sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by the Vietnamese and the Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and the president of the United States telling the American people that I was not there, the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory, which is seared -- seared -- in me.''
[...]
So what are we to make of Sen. Kerry's self-seared 30-year-old false memory of Christmas in Cambodia with its vast accumulation of precise details? Of being shot at by the Khmer Rouge (unlikely in 1968) and of South Vietnamese troops drunkenly celebrating Christmas (as only devout Buddhists know how)?

It's not about dates and places. For Kerry, his Yuletide mission was an epiphany: the moment when he realized his government was lying to the people about what was going on. This is the turning point, the moment that set the young Kerry on the path from brave young war volunteer to fierce anti-war activist.

And it turns out it's total bunk.
|| Nudnik 8:22 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Friday, August 13, 2004


              Supporting the Troops?
Every liberal politician who is against the war in Iraq must nevertheless insert the caveat that of course they support the troops. But what does that mean, and how do they truly express their support. Ralph Peters doesn't believe that they actually do support the troops, and takes on their hypocrisy.
Overwhelmingly, those who have been crying for a year-and-a-half to “bring our troops home,” and whose fervor is now renewed by the electoral contest, don’t give a flying latte about our soldiers. Whether we speak of the irresponsible, self-important celebrities suddenly pretending to care about those in uniform, or the “useful idiots” (to use the Marxist-Leninist term) who crowd the streets to condemn a war of liberation because “America must be wrong” and who weep crocodile tears for brave young Americans they privately despise, the truth is that there are no more repugnant creatures on the American political scene than those who pretend to represent the best interests of our troops while secretly celebrating every one of our casualties.

When someone who has never served in uniform, who will never serve in uniform, whose children will never serve in uniform, whose relatives don’t serve in uniform, and who doesn’t even know—or want to know—anyone who actually serves in uniform tells you that they’re speaking on behalf of our troops, you know you’ve met an Olympic-level hypocrite, a vampire sucking the blood of America’s best.
These same people will be in New York, protesting the Republican Convention. Of course, when there is actual evil - like Saddam gassing Kurds, or massacres in Sudan, or suicide bombers killing innocents - these people are nowhere to be found.
The American Left is out of ideas, out of morals and out of simple decency. All they can do is to shout, lie and pretend to care about those American citizens—our troops, inner-city minorities and the average working man and woman—for whom they don’t give a tiny shred of a damn.

The protesters are going to do a lot of shouting in New York. If you hear one honest voice among them, call me.
|| Nudnik 10:00 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Thursday, August 12, 2004


              Global Warming Debate Settled?
Well, while this debate actually seems far from settled, there are more and more studies coming out that seem to invalidate the arguments of the global warming alarmists.
This is a double kill, both on the U.N.'s temperature records and its vaunted climate models. That's because the models generally predict an increased warming rate with height (outside of local polar regions). Neither the satellite nor the balloon records can find it. When this was noted in the first satellite paper published in 1990, some scientists objected that the record, which began in 1979, was too short. Now we have a quarter-century of concurrent balloon and satellite data, both screaming that the UN's climate models have failed, as well as indicating that its surface record is simply too hot.

If the models are wrong as one goes up in the atmosphere, then any correspondence between them and surface temperatures is either pretty lucky or the product of some unspecified "adjustment." Getting the vertical distribution of temperature wrong means that everything dependent upon that -- precipitation and cloudiness, as examples -- must be wrong. Obviously, the amount of cloud in the air determines the day's high temperature as well as whether or not it rains.

As bad as things have gone for the IPCC and its ideologues, it gets worse, much, much worse.
|| Nudnik 2:22 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Markets and the Election
I have written a few times about the Iowa Electronic Markets, and their past accuracy in predicting election results. What is even more interesting is how the real market, the S&P 500 Index, has tracked the IEM election market. Eric Engen has compared the Kerry vote share on the IEM to the S&P 500. The charts show a direct inverse correlation between Kerry's vote share and the S&P 500 - basically, every time that Kerry "futures" have gone up, the S&P 500 has gone down, and vice-versa. His assertion, is therefore that Kerry is bad for the market and that the market expresses that by falling whenever there is an increased prospect of a Kerry victory. Its an interesting analysis, but it suffers from one problem - namely is the IEM a leading, concurrent, or lagging indicator. Just as plausible of an interpretation could be that the stock market declines on negative economic news (or news that does not meet expectations), and that at the same time this type of negative news is helpful for Kerry futures (because it is negative for Bush futures). So is a declining stock market good for Kerry, or is the prospect of a President Kerry negative for the stock market?
|| Nudnik 11:01 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Continuing Rewriting of History
One of the "root causes", if not the main cause, of the Arab-Israeli conflict is the continued Arab rejection of a Jewish State in the Middle East. But, after defeats in 5 wars, they have come to realize that militarily destroying Israel is simply not possible. So, they have gone a different route - delegitimizing Israel. This has been accomplished by a propaganda campaign that has been particularly effective in Europe, which has wanted to be convinced of Jewish guilt in order to wash away its own actions during World War II, and cleanse itself of their responsibility for the Holocaust. Even more effectively, Arab leaders have been able, through their government's total control of information, to create generations of citizens who are hostile (to put it nicely) to Israel and Jews. For this campaign of delegitimization, the Arab world has rewritten not merely recent history, but virtually all history of the region. This article, as well as the Palestinian Media Watch, points out the depths to which they have gone to deny any Jewish connection to Israel.
So, next time you get the "crazy idea" that just maybe Israel can make peace with the Palestinians, or that the Islamic world is ready to live in peace with the rest of the world, knock that revisionist baloney right out of your head. They're having a psychotic episode, gripped in mass insanity.

And, if Jesus ever comes back, Arafat will portray the Nazarene as a Palestinian "Shaheed" (martyr) who the Israeli occupation has killed - as Yasser Arafat has stated on numerous occasions. You'll hear it first on Palestinian Authority TV.
|| Nudnik 10:05 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry, Cambodia, and the Press
It is appalling, yet somewhat unsurprising, that the major media is completely missing (or more likely, is ignoring) the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, as well as Kerry's story about being in Cambodia during Christmas of 1968. Clearly the important issue in this campaign is not VietNam or the actions of a 20 year old there, yet Kerry has chosen to make his service there a central theme of his campaign. Since it seems so important to who Kerry is, it is incumbent on the people who investigate and report the news to actually investigate both whether Kerry's stories are true, as well as the Kerry camp's reaction to those who try to point out the holes in Kerry's story. Since the press has refused to do an of this work because of its political bias, bloggers have been picking up the slack. Powerline has some good examinations of the Cambodia story, among others.
|| Nudnik 9:47 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


              Demands
As I have previously written, Iran is the important issue in this campaign, not Iraq. We will have to confront Iran sooner or later, and from the looks of this article, Iran seems to be pushing for sooner rather than later.
Iranian officials refused point-blank to comply, saying they had every right under international law to pursue "peaceful" nuclear technology.

They then stunned the Europeans by presenting a letter setting out their own demands.

Iran said the EU-3 should support Iran's quest for "advanced (nuclear) technology, including those with dual use" - a reference to equipment that has both civilian and military applications.

The Europeans should "remove impediments" preventing Iran from having such technology, and stick to these commitments even if faced with "legal (or) political . . . limitations", an allusion to American pressure or even future international sanctions against Iran.

More astonishingly, Iran said the EU-3 should agree to meet Iran's requirements for conventional weapons and even "provide security assurances" against a nuclear attack on Iran.
Has someone at the Iranian Foreign Ministry been sniffing too much glue? Or is this a direct challenge to the US and the EU-3? It seems that Iran is not waiting for the election results here, possibly thinking that in the midst of an election Bush is unlikely to do anything to them.
|| Nudnik 10:13 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Why We Fight
Vodkapundit has an excellent post on the war we are fighting and what we must do to win. Its too bad that we still can't get past the Left's arguments about the Iraq war. A perfect illustration of this complete lack of understanding of the larger issue is displayed in this op/ed. We'll know we are on the way to winning when people like Scott Lehigh start seeing the forest of Arab radicalism instead of the trees of missing WMDs. Sadly, people like this are not prone to self-criticism or reevaluation of their ideas, no matter what the evidence is.
|| Nudnik 9:10 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Tuesday, August 10, 2004


              Religion of Peace or Ideology of War?
Spengler, in the Asia Times, has an interesting article on Islam. His assertion is that unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam is both a religion and a political ideology. And that "[r]eligion is what makes Islamic political ideology so dangerous."
Religion offers the individual a way of transcending death by separating the holy, or eternal, from the profane, or transitory. It presupposes not merely an eternal plane of being exalted above mere creation, but also some means by which mortals may participate in this higher being through revelation and grace, and some procedure by which they may obtain grace, that is, ritual and prayer.

In Islam, this procedure is jihad.
I'm not sure that I completely agree with this characterization of Islam. I would say that Islam is the religion, while Islamism is the political ideology. Unlike the other two major religions, Islam has never had a "reformation", and because of this it seeks to control both the religious sphere of life, as well as the secular.
|| Nudnik 8:00 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Kerry's Dovishness
Joshua Muravchik takes a look at Kerry's voting record on defense and foreign policy issues. Needless to say, it is not an encouraging indicator of how a President Kerry would govern.
All in all, in his 20 years in the Senate, Kerry ranks as one of the five most dovish or liberal members on foreign policy if you tally up the key votes selected by the liberal advocacy group, Americans for Democratic Action. Is it any wonder that Kerry is seeking to focus voters' attention on his courage as a Navy officer rather than his judgment as a political leader?

Since 1972, when McGovern jettisoned the tradition of Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and made the Democrats the party of dovishness, only two Democrats have won the White House. Both of them, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, presented themselves as more hawkish than their Republican opponents. In 1976, Carter targeted the detente policies of Gerald Ford. In 1992, Clinton lambasted George H.W. Bush's refusal to defend Bosnia or criticize Beijing. Once in office, each pursued softer foreign policies than the Republican he had defeated.

That Kerry comes from Massachusetts--the only state that opted for McGovern in 1972--makes his projection of hawkishness a harder sell. The military veterans with whom he surrounded himself at the convention, and the reminders of the honor with which he himself served, make the claim more plausible. Until you look at the political record.
|| Nudnik 3:03 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              More Kerry Unseriousness
As I have written previously, I don't think that VietNam and Kerry's or Bush's service during that time makes any difference now or is relevant to this campaign. And I think that most Republicans would agree and would rather not make this an issue. Kerry, however, has chosen to make this the centerpiece of his campaign for President, and is now upset when he is questioned on it. But with every day, there is more and more to question regarding his VietNam experience.

The first major attack on Kerry's VietNam record has come in the form of a book, Unfit for Command, and an ad from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. The Kerry campaign response to the ad was to threaten to sue TV stations for airing it, and accusing those veterans of having a political agenda and backing from a Texas Republican. This is the best they can do? The Kerry campaign, having politicized the issue of his VietNam service, is now "shocked...shocked to find" that it is being politically used and attacked by their opponents. So instead of trying to disprove these allegations, they attempt to impugn the vets themselves.

The latest problem for the Kerry VietNam campaign is his numerous assertions that he spent Christmas of 1968 in Cambodia. Not even the crewmembers of his boat, let alone every officer in his chain of command, can support this whopper. And so the Kerry campaign is left floundering to somehow explain away this one. As Mark Steyn writes
I'm Vietnammed out. But it's the centrepiece of Kerry's campaign: the other day, asked a straightforward question about 9/11, he stuck to the current millennium for a good 20 seconds and then veered off into "the war that I fought in was a war where we saw America lose its support for the war, where the soldiers came back having had to do what our soldiers are doing today, carry an M-16 in another country, try to tell the difference between friend and foe. I know what it's like to go out at night on patrol", etc, etc. So, since Vietnam seems to be the only subject on which he has anything to say, it would be reassuring to know that at least he's got that right.
What would be even more reassuring is if Kerry actually spoke about the problems of the present, or the issues that we will have to confront in the future, as opposed to simply reliving his past "glories" (or fabricating ones).
|| Nudnik 10:54 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              Flip, Flop, or the Third Way
John Kerry has seemingly changed his views on the Iraq War, again. Not too long ago he told Larry King that he was against the war and that he, as well as the American people, were misled. Now Kerry says
he still would have voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq, even if he had known in October 2002 that US intelligence was flawed, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
I say "seemingly" because the answer and explanation of the answer are positively Clintonian in their parsing of words. President Bush clearly challenged Kerry by saying "My opponent hasn't answered the question of whether, knowing what we know now, he would have supported going into Iraq". Yet Kerry's answer, while seeming like support for the war, is actually only support for giving the President "the authority" to invade Iraq. Kerry, once again, wants to not take any position on this issue; he supports authorizing the decision to go to war, but not the actual decision to go to war - in effect the Clintonian position of authorizing the ends (Saddam's removal), but not the means of accomplishing it. This is simply unserious.

To add to this, Kerry posed four questions to President Bush, once again displaying his acceptance of the loony-left accusations against President Bush.
My question to President Bush is: Why did he rush to war without a plan to win the peace? Why did he rush to war on faulty intelligence and not do the hard work necessary to give America the truth? Why did he mislead America about how he would go to war? Why has he not brought other countries to the table in order to support American troops in the way that we deserve it and relieve a pressure from the American people?
These arguments have all been thoroughly discredited, yet Kerry still resorts to them for fear of losing his base, the anti-war far left. His arguments are the perfect way to convince our Islamofascist enemies that we are not really serious in fighting them or winning.
|| Nudnik 9:57 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
              The Next Crisis
Fareed Zakaria writes this morning about the crisis that will inevitably confront the next Administration - Iran. Up to now the policy of the Bush Administration has been fairly muddled. Aside from saying that they would not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, there has been actually very little done in that respect. The proposed Kerry policy, however, seems even worse. Not surprisingly, Kerry seems to be taking the same line as Europe: "engagement" and discussion, a line that will undoubtedly lead to an Iranian nuclear bomb in 2 to 3 years.
In the face of these stark dangers, Europe seems remarkably passive. Having burst into action last fall, it does not seem to know what to do now that Iran has rebuffed its efforts. It is urging negotiations again, which is fine. But what will it tell Iran in these negotiations? What is the threat that it is willing to wield?
And this is the key problem with Europe's and Kerry's views on foreign policy. Neither seem able to admit that soft power (negotiations) is worthless without the credible threat of punishment for non-compliance. Europe can not admit this because even if it did, it does not have the military power to generate a credible threat and thus cowers behind its post-modern belief in international law without the power to back it up. Kerry can not admit this because his world-view, as shown by his 20 plus years of votes in the Senate, is one of pacifism. Both of these positions have been thoroughly discredited by the past few years of history, and are simply not serious as foreign policy in an increasingly dangerous world.
|| Nudnik 9:26 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |

Monday, August 09, 2004


              Hopes for Democracy
The Bush Administration has made the bringing of democracy to the Arab world a centerpiece of its foreign policy, believing that only the liberalization of Arab society will bring about progress and the abandonment of jihadist ideas. As would be expected, there is significant resistance in the Arab world to such a change. This resistance has come primarily from the existing governments, that obviously are afraid of losing power. At the same time, in the two countries liberated by the US - Iraq and Afghanistan - there is great hope among the people for some kind of consensual government. As Danielle Pletka writes, while democracy is still far off, there has definitely been an increase in discussion about reform of Arab society within the Arab world.
The initial reviews of the current President Bush's push for reform in the Middle East may have been harsh, especially from the region's entrenched powers. Yet in the last few months, the debate, once confined to émigré papers published in London or Paris, has suddenly bubbled up onto the pages of the state-controlled press in the Arab world.
[...]
Notwithstanding the administration's modest approach, democracy is now at the center of debate in Arab capitals. And while some in the United States continue to insist that Arab democracy is the fantasy of a discredited cabal in Washington, an effort to avoid what they assert should be America's only priority - resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - Arab intellectuals don't necessarily agree. The director of Egypt's Al Ahram center for Political and Strategic Studies, Abdel Monem Said, took the issue on himself. "Making reform and human rights contingent upon resolving the Palestinian problem," he said, "confirms what the American neo-cons are saying, that the political regimes harming human rights are using the Palestinian problem in order to divert glances from their own behavior."
While this is undoubtedly good news, it is interesting to see what has been accomplished, in terms of democracy, in Russia. Richard Pipes, one of the leading experts on Russia, has some pretty disheartening poll results from Russia.
They view democracy as a fraud: 78 percent of respondents in a 2003 survey said that democracy is a facade concealing a regime in which real power is exercised by rich and powerful cliques. Only 22 percent express a preference for democracy, whereas 53 percent positively dislike it. Fifty-two percent believe multiparty elections do more harm than good.
[...]
They attach little importance to liberties. Only one in 10 Russians would be unwilling to surrender the freedom of speech, press, or movement in exchange for "order" or stability. A recent poll brought out the stunning fact that fully three-quarters of Russians want the restoration of censorship on the mass media.
[...]
Russians hold the judiciary system in contempt, believing that the courts are thoroughly corrupt. They refer to court proceedings as auctions in which the highest bidder wins out.
Obviously the Arab world is very different from a post-Communist Russia, and the problems that Russia experienced in trying to transform to a democracy need to be taken into account in terms of the reaction of its citizenry, yet there are some similarities. Russia emerged from a repressive, violent, all-powerful and controlling Communist system while most of the Arab world still suffers under a similar system. In order to foster a democracy in the Arab world, it would seem like a good idea to learn the lessons of the transformation in Russia.
|| Nudnik 11:38 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
                            |
Listed on BlogShares