The Nudnik File

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

Friday, December 31, 2004

              Happy New Year!!
A very happy and healthy New Year to all!
|| Nudnik 6:37 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, December 30, 2004

              Year ending top 5 list
So yeah... maybe just an ill-disguised effort to induce a little reader participation but here goes. It is the end of the year and there have been plenty of great interviews, debates and exchanges. Without really thinking about it too much, here are my top 5.

#5. Teresa Heinz Kerry to Colin McNickle...

"You said something I didnt say. Now Shove it!"
#4. Sean Hannity to Ted Rall...

"You are thoughtless, mean and hateful."

#3. Joe Nameth's Drunken exchange with Suzy Kolber...
"I want to kiss you."

#2. O'Reilly vs. Paul Krugman on Russert...

O’Reilly: You are in with the most vile form of defamation in this country. You are pandering to it. And I resent it, sir.

Krugman: We resent you, too.

O’Reilly: Yeah, I know you do. And you know what you’ll do about the
resentment? You’ll lie about me and attack me personally. That’s what you’ll do.

#1. Pat Buchanan on Da Ali G show... Just too good to even quote from. If you have never seen it, you missed out. At one point he has Buchanan saying BLT instead of WMD. If you have Comcast on demand it is episode #8 or 9. A must see... trust me.

Ok... so this is the part where you chime in with your list.

|| Elder of Zion #6 1:57 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Back to Old Ideas
For some reason - maybe its the end of the year and newspapers can't get anything better to publish on their op-ed pages - there are two pieces today about what the US must do regarding the "peace process". And given the writers, we once again get the old discredited ideas that brought us the Oslo War.

David Matz, the director of Graduate Program in Dispute Resolution at University of Massachusetts, brings up the Geneva Accords, and alleges that "Geneva Accords have the support of substantial majorities of Israelis and Palestinians". Its not clear where he gets this data, but the fact is that he is simply wrong in this statement. The only Israelis and Palestinians who support the Geneva Accords are the ones who came up with it. He then goes on to suggest a coalition to "bring the pressure of world opinion to bear on the parties". Of course, what this really means is to pressure Israel to make concessions while the Palestinians continue to do nothing.

The other article is by former Secretary of State Warren Christopher (none of this would be happening if Warren Christopher were alive). His brilliant, groundbreaking idea is more "active hands-on involvement of the United States", and "[t]he second, preferable, option would be the appointment by the president of a high-ranking United States emissary to the Middle East". OF course, the only thing that the past five high-level emissaries have produced are worthless plans and more casualties from suicide bombings.

What neither of these writers mentions, and what is the only hope for peace, is the wholesale remaking of Palestinian society into a pluralistic, democratic one from one based on a cult of death. Until this happens there is no chance for peace, with or without Arafat. To create a Palestinian state now, without achieving any democratization, would be a disaster for everyone. It would almost surely lead to a larger possibly regional war.
|| Nudnik 12:51 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Liberal Hate Speech
At the end of every year Jeff Jacoby compiles a list of liberal hate speech over the past year. This being an election year there was more material than usual.
So began another year in which liberals engaged in, and mostly got away with, grotesque slanders and slurs about conservatives -- the kind of poisonous rhetoric that should be beyond the pale in a decent society. Once again, too many on the left -- not crackpots from the fringe, but mainstream players and pundits -- chose to demonize conservatives as monsters rather than debate their ideas on the merits.

As in years past, Republicans were almost routinely associated with Nazi Germany. Former Vice President Al Gore referred to GOP activists as "brown shirts." Newsday columnist Hugh Pearson likened the Republican National Convention to the "Nazi rallies held in Germany during the reign of Adolf Hitler." Linda Ronstadt said that the Republican victory on Election Day meant "we've got a new bunch of Hitlers." Chuck Turner, a Boston city councilor, smeared National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as "a tool of white leaders," like "a Jewish person working for Hitler."
Undoubtedly there have also been outrageous statements from the Right, and Jacoby acknowledges it. But the point is that inevitably the Left is never taken to task for its asinine and malicious statements.
|| Nudnik 11:41 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
While the world has changed over the last 40 years, only one side of the political spectrum has adjusted to it. As Victor Hanson shows, the Left continues to plod along with their '60s agenda and rhetoric, not realizing that they are being left behind.
What has happened? Sometime around the 1980s, the Right saw the demise of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to evolve beyond realpolitik to promote not just anti-Communism but grassroots democracy, coupled with free-market globalism from Eastern Europe to Latin America and Asia. In contrast, the hard Left stayed in its knee-jerk suspicion of the West and continued to give a pass to authoritarians from Cuba to Iran who professed socialism, thinking that the world was a static zero-sum game in which somebody's gain spelled another's loss — oblivious that real wealth could be created by a change of mentality and technology and not mere exploitation.
|| Nudnik 10:56 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

              Gun Control
John Lott has been arguing for quite a while that gun control does not work. In an number of books and articles, he has gone through the crime data compiled by the FBI and found that more guns equals less crime, the exact opposite of what gun control advocates have long contended. Now the National Academy of Sciences has issued a report on gun control.
The big news is that the academy's panel couldn't identify any benefits of decades-long effort to reduce crime and injury by restricting gun ownership. The only conclusion it could draw was: Let's study the question some more (presumably, until we find the results we want).

The academy, however, should believe its own findings. Based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey that covered 80 different gun-control measures and some of its own empirical work, the panel couldn't identify a single gun-control regulation that reduced violent crime, suicide or accidents.

From the assault-weapons ban to the Brady Act to one-gun-a-month restrictions to gun locks, nothing worked.
Of course actually saying that gun control is counterproductive (see the example of England which recently banned all guns and has seen an upsurge in crime) is not politically correct. So the NAS has in effect tried to hide the results. So much for scientific rigor.
|| Nudnik 2:48 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
I haven't read much of Susan Sontag's work, so its hard for me to judge her overall oeuvre. But from what I have read, it seems to me that she was a fairly standard 1960's "literary artist". Her politics were very clearly on display in her piece in the New Yorker after the attacks of 9/11.
Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing America bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue) whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.
Roger Kimball pens an obituary in the New Criterion blog Armavirumque, looking at her work.
There can be no doubt that Susan Sontag, the doyenne of (to use Tom Wolfe's apposite coinage) radical chic, commanded rare celebrity throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Accordingly, her influence in those decades and beyond was great. The question is, was it a beneficent or a baneful influence? Sontag has been celebrated as a towering intellectual. In fact, though, what she offered were not so much arguments or insights as the simulacra of arguments and the mood or emotion of insights.
Most offensive, although perfectly in-line with leftist artistic opinions, were her statements regarding Cuba and Vietnam.
[A]fter ten years, she writes, "the Cuban revolution is astonishingly free of repression and bureaucratization"; even better perhaps, is this passing remark delivered in parentheses: "No Cuban writer has been or is in jail, or is failing to get his work published."
Sontag concocted a similar fairy tale when she went to Vietnam in 1968 courtesy of the North Vietnamese government. Her long essay "Trip to Hanoi" (1968) is another classic in the literature of political mendacity. Connoisseurs of the genre will especially savor Sontag's observation that the real problem for the North Vietnamese is that they "aren't good enough haters." Their fondness for Americans, she explains, keeps getting in the way of the war effort.

Nudnikette adds:
To be fair, Kimball goes a little too far. Sontag did draw heavily on French ideas, but so did the entire intellectual establishment of the past 50 years. She did mold herself in that 'public intellectual' fashion of the French, most notably Barthes and Derrida (whom Kimball eulogized just as devastatingly and again more than somewhat unfairly). But she wasn't a trivial presence. Although I agree that her literary style was poor, her observations were often acute. Sontag's essays on photography - the first book not the 2nd - are illuminating. It is her politics that are truly the issue, contemptible and morally skewed. She wasn't the first auteur to side with odious ideologies - it is a sin too popular by far - and she will not be the last. So maybe there is a point in divorcing her better production from her politics, to save a few insightful thoughts?
|| Nudnik 11:30 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Yesterday Jan Egeland, the UN humanitarian aid chief, was quoted as calling Western nations "stingy" in their response to the devastation caused by the tsunamis. So to whom was he referring? The US has at this point pledged $35 million. A FoxNews graphic showed the contributions of a few other nations; Japan pledged $30 million, Australia $7.6 million, a few other European nations pledged in the $2 to $5 million range. France, that beacon of morality and humanitarianism, pledged $135,000. Yes, that is correct - $135 thousand. I guess the people of South Asia simply haven't killed enough Jews for the French to care about them. For comparison, as of 8:25 pm those dullwitted, warmongering, unilateral Americans - the people, not the government - have donated close to $500,000 to the Red Cross just through Amazon.

Added thoughts from “Elder of Zion #6”

Now that Sri Lanka has publicly rejected assistance from the evil Israeli military, I figure the French money should start to roll in.
|| Nudnik 8:54 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Nobel Missiles
I wonder how many Nobel Peace Prize recipients have a missile named after them?
GAZA CITY - The ruling Fatah movement has displayed what it calls its latest and greatest surface-to-surface missile.

The missile has been named "Yasser Arafat," after the late leader of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority and the 1994 co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
|| Nudnik 3:42 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Global Warming and Evolution
After a bit of an absence, Mark Steyn is back. This article, from a couple of weeks ago, examines Europe's concern with the possible extinction of an Antarctic krill species, yet complete unconcern about their own imminent demise.
What we do know for certain is that the krill's chances of survival are a lot greater than, say, the Italians, or the Germans, or the Japanese, Russians, Greeks and Spaniards, all of whom will be in steep population decline long before the Antarctic krill. By 2025, one in every three Japanese will be over 65, and that statistic depends on the two out of three who aren't over 65 sticking around to pay the tax bills required to support the biggest geriatric population in history.

Does the impending extinction of the Japanese and Russians not distress anyone? How about the Italians? They gave us the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa, Gina Lollobrigida, linguine, tagliatelle, fusilli . . . If you're in your scuba suit down on the ice shelf dining with the krill and you say you'd like your algae al dente in a carbonara sauce, they'll give you a blank look. Billions of years on Earth and all they've got is the same set menu they started out with. But try and rouse the progressive mind to a "Save the Italians" campaign and you'll get nowhere. Luigi isn't as important as algae, even though he too is a victim of profound environmental changes: globally warmed by Euro-welfare, he no longer feels the need to breed.
|| Nudnik 2:48 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Monday, December 27, 2004

David Horowitz looks at the evolution of the Democratic Party over the last 40 years.
The leftward slide of the Democratic Party, which has made it an uncertain trumpet in matters of war and peace, may be said to have begun with the McGovern presidential campaign of 1972, whose slogan was “American come home” – as though America was the problem and not the aggression of the Communist bloc. The McGovern campaign drew in the rank and file of the anti-Vietnam Left, much like the anti-Cold War Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign of 1948 and the Howard Dean anti-Iraq campaign of 2004. McGovern himself was a veteran of the Wallace campaign and, virtually all the leaders of the anti-Iraq movement, including most of the Democratic Party leaders who supported it, are veterans of the anti-Vietnam campaign.
|| Nudnik 2:30 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Challenge
The Bush Presidency started off as a seemingly transitional one - one that was to be focused on domestic issues, with continued benign neglect and "soft" isolationism in the realm of foreign policy. But the events of 9/11 changed all of that and thrust onto Bush and the US the responsibility for the wholesale remaking of the world order. The place where this remaking has to occur is obviously the Arab Middle East. Reuel Marc Gerecht looks at the challenges in this endeavor. The long term goal is clearly the democratization of the Arab world, and on the way we must deal with Iran's attempts at nuclearization, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the jihad of bin Laden and his followers, and more immediately, Iraq. As many have noted, if we fail in Iraq, all other goals fall away and US foreign policy will have been set back at least a quarter of a century.
|| Nudnik 12:10 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, December 23, 2004

              Merry Christmas
To all our readers who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

And to all those who don't, have a great long weekend and Festivus!
|| Nudnik 7:44 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Lots of Hot Air
George Will reviews the new Michael Crichton book.
Crichton's subject is today's fear that global warming will cause catastrophic climate change, a belief now so conventional that it seems to require no supporting data. Crichton's subject is also how conventional wisdom is manufactured in a credulous and media-drenched society.
It reminded me of this speech that Chricton gave two years ago at CalTech, showing how global warming is being caused by aliens.
|| Nudnik 3:21 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Truth Comes Out
Despite the best efforts of Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Queria to pretend that Fatah is a moderate force in the Palestinian Authority, the truth about the true intents of the Palestinians comes out through the head of Fatah, Farouk Khaddoumi.
"At this stage there will be two states," Khaddoumi told Iran's Al Aram television. "Many years from now, there will be only one."
|| Nudnik 3:17 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Some Perspective
One more defense of Donald Rumsfeld comes in this excellent article by Victor Hanson. As he often does, Hanson provides some historical context with which we can better judge the progress of the war and Rumsfeld's contributions to our successes.
The blame with this war falls not with Donald Rumsfeld. We are more often the problem - our mercurial mood swings and demands for instant perfection devoid of historical perspective about the tragic nature of god-awful war. Our military has waged two brilliant campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. There has been an even more inspired postwar success in Afghanistan where elections were held in a country deemed a hopeless Dark-Age relic. A thousand brave Americans gave their lives in combat to ensure that the most wicked nation in the Middle East might soon be the best, and the odds are that those remarkable dead, not the columnists in New York, will be proven right - no thanks to post-facto harping from thousands of American academics and insiders in chorus with that continent of appeasement Europe.

Out of the ashes of September 11, a workable war exegesis emerged because of students of war like Don Rumsfeld: Terrorists do not operate alone, but only through the aid of rogue states; Islamicists hate us for who we are, not the alleged grievances outlined in successive and always-metamorphosing loony fatwas; the temper of bin Laden's infomercials hinges only on how bad he is doing; and multilateralism is not necessarily moral, but often an amoral excuse either to do nothing or to do bad - ask the U.N. that watched Rwanda and the Balkans die or the dozens of profiteering nations who in concert robbed Iraq and enriched Saddam.

|| Nudnik 11:17 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

              Defending Rumsfeld
Tony Blankley comes to the defense of Don Rumsfeld, from the attacks of "a legion of Washington little people: a pack of has-beens, never weres and wannabees."

Many of the problems that the military currently faces, especially in the shortage of troops and equipment has to do with our Clintonian holiday from history. Throughout the 90s the Clinton administration slashed the size of the armed forces and military equipment. It was the easy and popular thing to do since it seemed like we no longer had an enemy (even without the terrorist threat, the growing threat from China was not seen as such) and wanted to enjoy the "peace dividend". Unfortunately, now that we do have an enemy again, and one that requires deployment of resources worldwide, we don't have the resources necessary for this war.

Another reason that we do not have the resources for this war is that in large part we do not recognize the WOT as a real war. And because of that we, as a society, have not fully mobilized for this war. As Blankeley points out
we can barely manufacture 500 armored Humvees (read: jeeps) a month (in World War II we could produce almost 10,000 combat airplanes a month).
It is not Rumsfeld or the Pentagon that wants to fight this war "on the cheap", it is American society that does. Until we realize that this is a real war, we will continue to send out our armed forces without all the necessary resources.
|| Nudnik 2:45 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Peace Process
Tony Blair was in Israel yesterday meeting with Sharon. It seems that despite the European desire to pressure Israel into making concessions to the Palestinians without seeing anything in return, Blair has bought into Bush's program of forcing reform and democracy onto the Palestinians. The conference that will be held in England in March will deal with Palestinian reforms, and not final status issues as the Palestinians want. And it seems that the demands of Bush and Blair for the Palestinians to end terrorism is one that they will try to make stick, and there is a chance that they will succeed in this. This is the difference between having a President with an ideology, and one that is merely trying to get himself a legacy.
|| Nudnik 1:48 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Stem Cells
Although not the main issue for me in the last election, the issue of stem cells was undoubtedly an important one for many people. A few of my doctor friends who I talked to after the election said that the reason that they did not vote for Bush, although they agree with many of his foreign policies, was because of his position on embryonic stem cell research. Regardless of whether the Bush Administration's position was falsely portrayed by the Democrats, government funding of research is always problematic. The true measure of the worth of a technology seems to me to be the level of private investment and interest. Clearly if a Pfizer or Merck thought that research would lead to something as lucrative as the Democrats made stem cells to be, they would invest hugely in it.

In the past few months there have been some stunning breakthroughs in treatment using stem cells. But as this article shows, much of this has been ignored by the media because it has to do with stem cells from adults and from umbilical cord blood, and not from embryonic stem cells.
Much research remains to be done in adult and umbilical cord blood stem cell therapies before we can confidently predict ultimate success. But if less newsy stories involving embryonic stem cells are worthy of enthusiastic coverage, surely the more hopeful and advanced breakthroughs, albeit no sure things, warrant at least equivalent levels of media interest. Perhaps if the media stopped taking sides in the ongoing political debates over biotechnology, a more balanced picture would emerge.
|| Nudnik 10:49 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

              Hunting Rumsfeld
It is clear that the latest "scandal" regarding SecDef Rumsfeld - the autopen signing of condolence letters - is a completely fabricated one, meant only to malign the competency and judgment of Rumsfeld without any real outrage behind it. Powerline reprints a letter from the father of a Marine Lnc Corporal that shows what military families really think about this latest production of the press.
|| Nudnik 4:23 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Conventional Foolishness
Over the past four years of the al-Aqsa war, the Western purveyors of conventional wisdom have incessantly criticized Israel for its actions, and Bush for his supposed inaction. David Brooks shows how all the supposed "unfortunate events" have led to a situation where the hope for peace is greater than at any time since September of 2000, showing how wrong all those wise men really were.
It was a series of unfortunate events.

How did we get to this sudden moment of cautious optimism in the Middle East? How did we get to this moment when Egypt is signing free trade agreements with Israel, when Hosni Mubarak is touring Arab nations and urging them to open relations with the Jewish state? How did we get to this moment of democratic opportunity in the Palestinian territories, with three major elections taking place in the next several months, and with the leading candidate in the presidential election declaring that violence is counterproductive?

How did we get to this moment of odd unity in Israel, with Labor joining Likud to push a withdrawal from Gaza and some northern territories? How did we get to this moment when Ariel Sharon has record approval ratings, when it is common to run across Israelis who once reviled Sharon as a bully but who now find themselves supporting him as an agent of peace?

It was a series of unfortunate events.
Undoubtedly the death of Arafat had a lot to do with the new possibilities of progress, yet as Robert Satloff describes this has much more to do with the direction of the policy emanating from the White House.
|| Nudnik 10:35 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
              More Violations
Iran is once again violating the agreement it made with the EU-3 to stop its nuclear program.
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran will continue preparing raw "yellowcake" uranium for enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, until the end of February, despite a recent pledge to freeze all such activity, diplomats said.
Will someone do something more than "being disappointed" this time? Or will the world continue to be disappointed until Iran unveils a nuclear bomb? The "international community", as represented by all those transnational institutions is simply a joke.
|| Nudnik 10:21 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Kofi's Crimes
With all the recent focus on the Oil-for-Food scam of the UN, and the demands for Kofi Annan's resignation because of this corruption, we forget the much more serious crimes of Annan - namely his actions during the massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia. Kenneth Cain, a former UN Human Rights officer in its peacekeeping operations reminds us how the UN was complicit in the murder of hundreds of thousands of people when Annan was in charge of "peacekeeping" for the UN.
But it isn't just the stench of death I remember so vividly; the odor of betrayal also hung heavily in the Rwandan air. This was not a genocide in which the U.N. failed to intervene; most of the U.N.'s armed troops evacuated after the first two weeks of massacres, abandoning vulnerable civilians to their fate, which included, literally, the worst things in the world a human being can do to another human being.

It did not have to happen. Gen. Romeo Dallaire, the U.N.'s force commander in Rwanda, sent Mr. Annan a series of desperate faxes including one warning that Hutu militias "could kill up to 1,000" Tutsis "in 20 minutes" and others pleading for authority to protect vulnerable civilians. But at the crucial moment, Mr. Annan ordered his general to stand down and to vigorously protect, not genocide victims, assembled in their numbers waiting to die, but the U.N.'s image of "impartiality."
It is a well known fact that even with the small force that Gen. Dallaire could have stopped the murder of 800,000 people. Instead he was ordered by Annan to do nothing.

It was somewhat different in Bosnia, where UN peacekeepers were so lightly armed and so few in number that they were simply useless. Yet, they gave assurances to Bosnians that they would be protected, only to once again do nothing when Serbs came to slaughter them. Once again this happened on Annan's watch.
"Do you think the U.N. was at fault?" I asked. Not the soldiers, she said, but the leaders. "If they had done their job, and were responsible, this would not have happened." I asked if she'd heard about the current controversy over Mr. Annan's leadership. Yes she had. So I asked if she thought he should resign. It was not oil that fueled her angry answer, but genocide: "Yes," she said, waving her hand, "all the U.N. leaders. They could have reacted if they wanted to. If the U.N. goes somewhere now, how can the people there believe or trust that the U.N. will save them?"
The UN was founded in the wake of WWII and the Holocaust to prevent genocide from ever happening again. Yet in every instance of genocide the UN has done nothing, allowing it to happen despite the ability to prevent it. Even now, with the evidence of genocide in Darfur, the UN can not bring itself to act. With such a record, how can it ever be trusted again?
|| Nudnik 9:35 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Monday, December 20, 2004

              First Recap
George Will has his annual recap of the past year.
|| Nudnik 11:42 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Friday, December 17, 2004

              Powerful Europe?
Timothy Garton Ash tries to show that Europe, by expanding and bringing in new members, is as powerful, and possibly in some ways more powerful than the United States and that therefore it needs to be taken seriously by the United States. Undoubtedly the EU needs to be taken seriously. But in the course of making this argument Ash puts forward a number of assertions that are simply wrong.

The first is that by admitting Turkey into the EU, Europe would be making a large contribution to the War on Terror.
The most immediate challenge, of course, is terrorism. And one could make a strong case that the European Union's agreement to open membership negotiations with Turkey will be a bigger contribution to winning the war on terrorism than the American-led occupation of Iraq.

Ash concludes by saying
"The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom," President Bush has said. Yet by overlooking the true dimensions of European power, America is failing to recognize the potential of what could be its greatest ally in the most hopeful project of our time: the advancement of liberty around the world.

Iraq is now a bloody playground for existing groups of Islamist terrorists - and probably a breeding ground for new ones. The European Union's offer to Turkey, by contrast, sends a clear signal that Europe is not an exclusive "Christian club," that the West is engaged in no crusade, and that a largely Islamic society can be reconciled not only with a secular state but also with the rules and customs of modern liberal democracy.
I highly doubt that Osama and his supporters would care whether Turkey is admitted into the EU or not. To them, Turkey, whether in the EU or not, is even more evil than the US. Their goal is the establishment of the Caliphate on all lands that once belonged to Islam - parts of Europe included.

He goes on to make a statement regarding European power that is simply wrong.
Robert Kagan describes the difference between America and Europe as the difference between power and weakness - American power, that is, and European weakness. This description is sustainable only if power is measured in terms of military strength. In the way that some American conservatives talk about the European Union, I hear an echo of Stalin's famous question about the Vatican's power: how many divisions does the pope have? But the pope defeated Stalin in the end. This attitude overlooks the dimensions of European power that are not to be found on the battlefield.
The pope defeated Stalin?? If he means by this analogy that soft power defeated the Soviet Union, he is completely wrong. It was not the soft power of engagement and negotiation that defeated the Soviet Union, but the hard power of a military build-up. More importantly, soft power is powerless without the threat of hard power behind it.

He goes on to say that the power of the EU,

is a fourth dimension - one that the United States wholly lacks. It is the power of induction. Put very simply: the European Union is getting bigger, and the United States is not. Haiti cannot hope to follow Hawaii into the American union, and even an American territory like Puerto Rico faces resistance in becoming the 51st state. But Ukraine can hope to follow Poland into the European Union.
But the ability to attract new members and new immigrants is not necessarily a positive; More important is who you are attracting. And it is in this that Ash leaves out the main problems of Europe - a large and growing unassimilated mass of uneducated and unemployed immigrants. Unlike the US, which attracts people who want to work, Europe attracts those who want to live on the public dole. In taking in so many immigrants from North Africa and the Arab world, the EU is facing a crisis, one that it is only now opening its eyes to. (The most popular name for newborn boys in the Netherlands is Mohammed). Europe is also facing an economic crisis tied not just to immigration, but to the aging population and the welfare state that has been built up. These will undoubtedly detract form Europe's power going forward.

Ash concludes by saying
"The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom," President Bush has said. Yet by overlooking the true dimensions of European power, America is failing to recognize the potential of what could be its greatest ally in the most hopeful project of our time: the advancement of liberty around the world.
Yet in its refusal to support the US in Iraq, in its support for Arafat and his cronies, and in its utter impotence in Bosnia and now Darfur, the EU has shown that it is not interested in the "advancement of liberty around the world", only in its own narrow interests.
|| Nudnik 3:14 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Religion and the State
For many (especially left-leaning) Americans the most dismaying thing about the last election was the perceived move towards religious fundamentalism and the supposed move of religion into public life. I think that this is not entirely correct, and is mostly the invention of the media. America has always been a religious country - probably the most religious of all Western industrialized countries. The fact that the religious have become more vocal is most likely a reaction to the radical secularism that is being forced onto the US.

Every December, the radical secularists reemerge in force trying to take the religion out of Christmas. And every year it seems that there are more and more demands. It started out with the banning of nativity scenes in public places, and has now progressed to the point where one can not even publicly with people a Merry Christmas; Happy holidays is the PCified greeting. Charles Krauthammer addresses the absurdity of de-Christianizing Christmas.

Some Americans get angry at parents who want to ban carols because they tremble that their kids might feel "different" and "uncomfortable" should they, God forbid, hear Christian music sung at their school. I feel pity. What kind of fragile religious identity have they bequeathed their children that it should be threatened by exposure to carols?

I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are enlarged by it.

It is the more deracinated members of religious minorities, brought up largely ignorant of their own traditions, whose religious identity is so tenuous that they feel the need to be constantly on guard against displays of other religions -- and who think the solution to their predicament is to prevent the other guy from displaying his religion, rather than learning a bit about their own.


Follow up from Elder of Zion #6

On a personal note, I was helping my girlfriend sell Christmas trees the other day (its true, the Jews are making money off the birth of the baby Jesus this year) and after the completion of a sale I wished the buyer a happy holiday. The guy then mumbled something about secularism and as he walked away all I could hear under his breath was...

“blah blah mumble mumble its God damn Christmas… happy holiday my ass!!!”

To be honest, I liked him the most. He was the best non tipping customer this Jew has ever sold a Christmas tree to.

|| Nudnik 1:53 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Money for Nothing
Since the death of Arafat the optimism about change in the PA has definitely outpaced the reality. In another indication of this, a new donor's conference is about to give the Palestinian Authority a financial package of $6-$8 billion over 4 years. This despite the continued maximalist demands of the Palestinians, and their leader's unwillingness to condemn acts of terror.

Once again, the world is back to the dynamics of the Oslo era - pressure Israel to make concessions while ignoring all the violations of the Palestinians. Why do people think that going back to something that produced a war 5 years ago will result in peace in the future?
|| Nudnik 1:08 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Admiral
Slate has an interesting interview with Admiral Bob Inman, one of the most experienced intelligence people in the US. Especially interesting are his recollections of William Casey and Don Rumsfeld.
|| Nudnik 12:22 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Immorality of the Left
Victor Hanson examines the reasons why the Left has lost its credibility, at least in the US. The main reasons he cites are its inability to make moral judgments and to condemn that which must be condemned.
Moreover, few of any note in the Arab Middle East speak out against the racial hatred of Jews. Almost no major Islamic religious figure castigates extreme Muslim clerics for their Dark-age misogyny, anti-Semitism, and venom against the West; and no Arab government admonishes its citizenry to look to itself for solutions rather than falling prey to conspiracy theories and ago-old superstitions. It would be as if the a state-subsidized Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi party were to be tolerated for purportedly voicing the frustrations of poor working-class whites who “suffered” under a number of supposed grievances.

What is preached in the madrassas on the West Bank, in Pakistan, and throughout the Gulf is no different from the Nazi doctrine of racial hatred. What has changed, of course, is that unlike our grandfathers, we have lost the courage to speak out against it. In one of the strangest political transformations of our age, the fascist Islamic Right has grafted its cause onto that of the Left’s boutique “multiculturalism,” hoping to earn a pass for its hate by posing as the “other” and reaping the benefits of liberal guilt due to purported victimization. By any empirical standard, what various Palestinian cliques have done on the West Bank — suicide murdering, lynching without trial of their own people, teaching small children to hate and kill Jews — should have earned them all Hitlerian sobriquets rather than U.N. praise.
|| Nudnik 12:13 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, it has seemed that NATO is an anachronism. What role is there for an alliance including most of Europe and the US in a world where there is no European enemy. Most of the explanations for its continued existence had to do more with the political integration of former Soviet republics into the Western world, than with any military necessity. After 9/11, and NATO's invocation of the mutual defense clause of the alliance in order to help (or at least show support) for the US, the alliance had its first real opportunity to validate itself in a post-Soviet world. As Andrew Apostolou shows, it failed miserably.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan was supposed to demonstrate NATO's ability to operate outside of its traditional European theatre. Letting non-U.S. members of NATO command and man ISAF was their opportunity to contribute to the war against terrorism.

Instead, NATO has failed to deliver on its promises. Non-U.S. NATO, with over two million troops, has scraped together just 8,500 soldiers for duties in and around Kabul. NATO's October 2003 pledge to expand ISAF's role outside of Kabul remains largely unfulfilled.
In effect, militarily NATO is non-existent. The question then is, why do we still need it?
|| Nudnik 11:54 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Alexander Joffe describes a recent seminar at the UN on Islamophobia. All this clearly showing one more reason why the UN needs to be disbanded.
|| Nudnik 2:33 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              SAT word association test…
Ronald Reagan is to Michael Moore as Michael Moore is to _____________.

A. Marx
B. Satan
C. Ted Rall

Answer: C

Ted Rall continues to mock the death of Pat Tillman in this holiday offering… but it is cute and witty and intelligent and just seems to shirk revulsion… 1 Mississippi… pondering… 2 Mississippi… and…. there it was… gag reflex kicked in.

|| Elder of Zion #6 1:59 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Abbas's Doubletalk
There are a number of reports this morning about an interview that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas gave to a London-based Arabic newspaper. Abbas repeated that the armed "intifada" has harmed Palestinians and therefore should be stopped. Obviously this is being trumpeted as more signs of Palestinian willingness to stop their war against Israel and negotiate. But looking a bit more closely at the situation shows that in reality nothing has changed. Despite Abbas calling for an end to armed attacks, his silence on the attack on IDF troops in Rafah was deafening. In fact,
[t]he interview contrasted with strong praise in the Palestinian Authority's official media for an armed attack on an Israeli border post in the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
As it was under Arafat, what is said in the West and what is said directly to the Palestinians are two different things.

Moreover, Abbas's reason for wanting to stop armed attacks is simply that
"The use of live weaponry has harmed the intifada and it should stop".
The fact that it is immoral, and evil to target and kill innocent men, women, and children, is not a factor in his desire to stop these attacks. This omission clearly shows that there is still no true desire for peace on the Palestinian side. Abbas wants the attacks to stop because it is bad for the Palestinians, but if it becomes useful for them would he then condone them?

Of course, obscured in all this is that Abbas still has no control of the "security services" of the Palestinians and thus has no power base. He would not be able to stop terrorist attacks against Israel no matter what he says. Believing Abbas's words at this point is wishful thinking. It seems, however, that President Bush is not falling for them.
|| Nudnik 8:36 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Monday, December 13, 2004

              Japanese Lap Dance (w/o the dance part)
You live long enough to become an elder and you think you’ve pretty much seen it all until one day you read
"From the time people were kids, people have laid their heads on their mothers'
laps to get their ears cleaned"

|| Elder of Zion #6 4:12 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Foreign Ministers on Iran
Today's Washington Post carries a commentary from seven current and former Foreign Ministers - of the US, Canada, and Europe - on what should be done to solve the problem of Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons. From the commentary it is clear that matters of foreign policy can not be left to Foreign Ministers, or at least these foreign ministers.

They have three main ideas on how to solve this crisis. The first is
European and U.S. policymakers must repeatedly and jointly articulate that they seek to hold Iran to the obligations it has accepted under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to refrain from building nuclear arms.
This is the type of platitude one expects from diplomats. But this is not a solution, or even an idea. Telling Iran that we don't want them to have nuclear weapons is pointless. They already know that, and still build nuclear weapons.
Second, the major nuclear suppliers (Russia, the United States and Europe) should provide a firm guarantee to supply fresh reactor fuel for civilian nuclear power and to retrieve and dispose of spent fuel in exchange for Iran's agreement to permanently forswear its own nuclear fuel-cycle capabilities
This, of course, has already been proposed to Iran and rejected out of hand. Do the Foreign Ministers really think that repeating this offer will make Iran accept it?

The third idea is that the US should support the agreement negotiated by the EU-3 - the very agreement that Iran started violating two days after agreeing to it. Then we should engage Iran diplomatically and commercially. Of course, if Iran still does not cooperate,
Europeans must prove to the Iranians that severe political and economic consequences will result if Iran does not renounce the nuclear weapons option. In the event that diplomacy fails and Iran decides not to abandon its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, Europeans should be ready for alternative courses of action, including going to the U.N. Security Council, and they should repeatedly stress their willingness to act.
So the end result is that if ran continues to violate agreements and build nuclear weapons, then the way to punish them is to continue talking about doing something. Everyone understands that the Security Council will do nothing, especially with Russia and China threatening to veto any resolution. In effect, the ideas of these Foreign Ministers is to allow Iran to continue and for the rest of the world to learn to live with a Mullah Bomb.
|| Nudnik 1:26 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Palestinian UN
One of the main indictments of the UN has to do with its treatment of Israel. For most of Israel's existence the UN has applied a double standard, condemning Israel for self-defense, while turning a blind eye to the actions of virtually everyone else. Anne Bayefsky documents the extent to which the UN has become a tool of the Palestinians and their Arab supporters.
Every schoolchild or member of the public who walks into U.N. Headquarters today (and the entire month of December) will be greeted by a large display in the front entrance put on by that main U.N. body, the Committee on Palestinian Rights. It includes a series of pictures "Fashion for Army Checkpoints," that conveys the alleged degradation of being searched for a suicide bomb strapped to one's body. Of course, nothing is said about the degradation of being blown up by a suicide bomb strapped to those bodies who manage to avoid such searches.

Is this just a problem for Israelis? Not if one compares the extensive Palestinian exhibit gracing the U.N. lobby with the minimal display they managed to squeeze alongside on the subject of AIDS.

But the public U.N. entrance is just the tip of the iceberg. There is only one entire U.N. Division devoted to a single group of people — the U.N. Division for Palestinian Rights (created in 1977). There is only one U.N. website dedicated to the claims of a single people — the enormous UNISPAL, the United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine. There is only one refugee agency dedicated to a single refugee situation — UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (in operation since 1950.)
|| Nudnik 1:00 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Friday, December 10, 2004

Something that does not exist at the UN. John O'Sullivan describes how this lack of accountability combined with large resources has inevitably led to corruption.

Meanwhile, Bush wholeheartedly endorses Annan:
(2004-12-09) -- President Bush today expressed his support for Kofi Annan, saying that the beleaguered United Nations leader is "technically not a criminal as far as we know, or can prove, at this time."
|| Nudnik 1:36 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Military Solution to Terrorism
Arieh O'Sullivan writes about another indicator that the Intifada is over.
It was a telling sign when senior commanders in the Central Command recently started counting the number of Palestinian stone-throwing incidents in the West Bank. For the past four years of the latest conflict, called by the Palestinians the "Aksa Intifada," the army counted mainly suicide bombings, shootings and petrol bomb attacks. Stonings weren't even mentioned.
This victory was not achieved by negotiations, as was made out, by the left, to be the only way to end terrorism. In fact,
the relative calm Israel is experiencing now is not connected to the death of Yasser Arafat or other changes in the Palestinian nation, but is rather the direct result of the aggressive action against terrorists by the IDF, aided by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Border Police. The army said it has arrested six suicide bombers since Arafat died a month ago. This shows the motivation is still there, but the capabilities are steadily deteriorating.
With the assassination and arrest of the top leaders, the next in line just don't have the experience and are being captured before they can do anything. So much for the myth that killing terrorists will only create more. It turns out that there is a military solution to terrorism.
|| Nudnik 12:17 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Good Question
Charles Krauthammer asks a very good question today: why is no one talking about the amazing success of US policy in Afghanistan?
Within 100 days, al Qaeda is routed and the Taliban overthrown. Then the first election in Afghanistan's history. Now the inauguration of a deeply respected democrat who, upon being sworn in as the legitimate president of his country, thanks America for its liberation.

This in Afghanistan, which only three years ago was not just hostile but untouchable. What do liberals have to say about this singular achievement by the Bush administration? That Afghanistan is growing poppies.

Good grief. This is news? "Afghanistan grows poppies" is the sun rising in the east. "Afghanistan inaugurates democratically elected president" is the sun rising in the west. Afghanistan has always grown poppies.
The answer is pretty simple: the left-dominated media is not interested in any successes of the Bush Administration, including this story showing that Taliban members have been contacting the US military there
willing to lay down their weapons following an arms-for-amnesty offer by the US envoy to the country.
Krauthammer goes on to comment why we have succeeded in Afghanistan, but not in Iraq.
Iraq has for decades been exposed to the ideas of political modernism -- fascism and socialism as transmuted through Baathism (heavily influenced by the European political winds of the 1920s and '30s) to which Saddam Hussein added the higher totalitarianism of his hero, Stalin. This history has succeeded in devaluing and delegitimizing secular ideologies, including liberal-democratic ones. In contrast, Afghanistan had suffered under years of appalling theocratic rule, which helped to legitimize the kind of secularist democracy that Karzai represents.
It seems to me that this could also be applicable to Iran and hopes for a regime change there.
|| Nudnik 11:48 AM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Buyer’s Remorse
Apparently the crowd never got the memo that they were directly responsible for the decline of the Democratic Party, not to mention the overly motivated voter turn out from the right. So yeah… you bought it… you own it… and yes, the resale value is not exactly what you were hoping for.
|| Elder of Zion #6 10:35 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, December 09, 2004

              Battered Wife Syndrome
They knock us down and we just keep going right back for more...

link of shame


Nudnik adds:It really is shameful for the US to support that ineffectual, corrupt, morally bankrupt bureaucrat. On the other hand, there might be some upside from him remaining there; the UN would continue to be seen for what it is - a club of thugs and dictators, and the Democrats won't be able to run on "multilateralism" if the UN is the example of it.
|| Elder of Zion #6 5:10 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The French Don't Get It
So it seems that the French Ambassador to Israel is upset by and doesn't understand why Israelis don't like the French. His explanation for it is
The Israeli "anti-French neurosis," said Araud, began with the crisis in relations that developed during the Six-Day War.

"Until 1967 the relationship was close and it was a love story," said Araud. "In 1967 Israel felt betrayed by the French embargo [on arms sales to Israel], and since that trauma, Israel has continued to build the case against France. It is possible to find new reasons for the hatred, but in essence we are talking about the same pathology."
Well, aside from that betrayal there may be a few other reasons for Israel disliking the French. Perhaps it has something to do with France's active collaboration with the Nazis during WWII. Or perhaps it was France prostrating and prostituting itself to Arab terrorists. Or perhaps it has something to do with Chirac calling Arafat a "man of courage and conviction" on his death. Or perhaps it has to do with France's Ambassador to England referring to Israel as "that shitty little country", and saying "Why should the world be in danger of World War III because of those people?" Or perhaps it has to do with the rabid and unpunished anti-semitism currently sweeping France.

Nudnikette has at times expressed a desire to go to France. My response to her has been and continues to be that we will visit France only after American tanks are once again rolling down the Champs-Elysees, liberating their sorry asses once again.
|| Nudnik 4:19 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              War for Democracy
Recently James Woolsey, the former Director of Central Intelligence, gave a speech on the war we are currently in. He calls it the Long War of the 21st Century, as opposed to World War IV. It hits all the familiar themes, but is nevertheless interesting in scope and assessment of the future.

Regarding bringing democracy to the Middle East, he has this to say.
The Middle East and the Arab world – plus the extended Middle East, including, say, Iran – is a very special problem. For historical and cultural reasons – some of them the influence of the Wahhabis – I believe it is a very, very big task. But what I love to tell my European friends is that although it’s going to be difficult to bring democracy and the rule of law to the Arab world and the rest of the Middle East, it won’t be nearly as hard as it was to bring it to Europe. And they say, what?

And I say, well, you know, the German Empire the first part of the century, the Nazis, the Fascists, the Communists. At times in the 20th century, Europe was entirely under either empires or autocratic states, or one type of totalitarian dictatorship or another. It took us two hot wars, World War I, World War II, a cold one, something on the order of a couple hundred million deaths from war, the Holocaust, and so forth, before we got Europe sorted out – we and the British and some others. So, I think the Arab world is going to be tough, but it can’t be as hard as Europe was.
|| Nudnik 1:47 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              International Law
I've always had a problem with the notion of "International Law". The main issues for me have been who makes the law, and who enforces the law, and how does one actually enforce it. More and more, the concept of "International Law" is used against democratic societies, while the tyrannies get away with whatever they want. A perfect example is the General Assembly of the United Nations, which every year passes dozens of resolutions against Israeli "human rights abuses", but says nothing about genocide in Darfur or China's occupation of Tibet or the real abuses of Fidel's Castro Cuba.

With the War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq, "International Law" and the organizations that allegedly monitor compliance have targeted the US. Andrew McCarthy describes the ICRC's attack on US sovereignty.
|| Nudnik 1:34 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

              Hamas's Hudna
There have been a few stories in the press about Hamas offering a cease-fire to Israel. It is important to understand what the idea of cease-fire means to them. David Bedein shows what Hamas really means, and what they say in Arabic.
Sheikh Yusef stated to the Israeli media that the "hudna" that he suggested would last for ten years.

Yet "hudna", often mistranslated as a “ceasefire” or armistice, connotes no more than a temporary respite in the war between Islamic forces and non-Islamic forces.

The authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines "hudna" as a “temporary treaty” which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders, depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam, and that a “hudna” cannot last for more than ten years. The Islamic Encyclopedia mentions the Hudaybia treaty as the ultimate “hudna.” Arafat also referred to a hudna in his speeches when he would refer to the Oslo accords. In the words of the Islamic encyclopedia, “The Hudaybia treaty, concluded by the Prophet Muhammed with the unbelievers of Mecca in 628, provided a precedent for subsequent treaties which the Prophet’s successors made with non-Muslims. Muhammed made a hudna with a tribe of Jews back then to give him time to grow his forces, then broke the treaty and wiped them out. Although this treaty was violated within three years from the time that it was concluded, most jurists concur that the maximum period of peace with the enemy should not exceed ten years since it was originally agreed that the Hudaybia treaty should last ten years.”
It is clear from their statements and their fundamentalist reading of the Koran that Hamas's goal is to destroy Israel, no matter what they say to Western journalists.
|| Nudnik 3:19 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Diversity, University Style
Universities always hail "intellectual diversity" as their raison d'etre, They pride themselves on being a place where ideas are freely expressed and where the freedom to question and learn is paramount. Yet, more and more, there is data coming out that universities are in fact the exact opposite - monolithic enforcers of a leftist ideology, with no room for dissent. Bruce Bartlett describes the bias on campus.
In certain departments, Republicans are literally nonexistent. There are no Republicans in either the anthropology or sociology departments at Stanford or UC-Berkeley. At Berkeley, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 11 to 1 in the economics department and 14 to 1 in the political science department. Stanford is a model of intellectual diversity by contrast, with a Democrat/Republican ratio of 7 to 3 in economics and 9 to 1 in political science.

In a larger study, Klein looked at voting patterns from a survey of academics throughout the country. He found that in anthropology, there are more than 30 votes cast for Democratic candidates for each 1 cast for a Republican. In sociology, the ratio is 28 to 1. Republicans do best among economists, who only vote Democratic by a 3 to 1 margin. In political science, the ratio is 6.7 to 1. On average, across all departments, Democrats get 15 votes for every 1 going to Republicans.
Moreover, the bias among the faculty is self-reinforcing due to the tenure system of US universities. It is incredibly difficult, if not outright impossible in some departments, for an academic with non-progressive credentials to get hired or to get tenure.
And the hiring process is unlike anything in a private business. In most cases, one needs a unanimous vote of the professors in one’s department to get tenure. This puts a high priority on intangibles like collegiality, which often translates into sharing the same politics and ideology.

Bias works in other ways as well. It is extraordinarily difficult to get an article in a top academic journal or get a book published by a university press unless it slavishly parrots the liberal line. That is because such things must be peer-reviewed by experts in the field before they can be published. This makes it very easy for anonymous reviewers to blackball those with a conservative point of view, effectively killing the careers of those who must publish or perish.
If the point of universities is to provide a "marketplace of ideas", they are failing miserably.
|| Nudnik 3:12 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

              Who's Afraid of 'Roids
After last week's leak that New York Yankees star Jason Giambi admitted to using steroids, the baseball world has been beating itself up over how horrible this is, and what it means for the game. Somewhat lost in all this is that it has been a very open secret for quite a while that many baseball (as well as football, basketball, track, etc.) players use these performance enhancing drugs - it's clear from just looking at many of them, and seeing their sudden growth.

My opinion on this issue has been who cares. If these entertainers want to use some kind of substance to make them better entertainers, why is that such a bad thing? It will only make the the games more interesting. And in terms of the harm these drug do, let the athletes themselves decide if they are willing to bear the cost for the benefit that they receive. John Lott takes the position that given the mild risks, and despite the demands of baseball purists, steroid policy is not something that government should decide.


Modern Day Frodo
(Follow up from Elder #6)

The stupidity of the athlete can extend beyond an occasional steroid boost. Check out this story.

Lessons to take… don’t over-celebrate when you are up 4-1. And as my dad once said, “never EVER get married if you want to hold on to all of your appendages”. So ok... he never said it... but he thought it.
|| Nudnik 10:18 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              An Egyptian, an Israeli and a Palestinian walk into a bar…
…a few drinks and poof… comprehensive peace plan!!!

Considering the source (Egyptian media), not to mention the lack of info, not nearly enough here to get excited about. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see the potential momentum almost instantly available after the death of the fuzzy grape.

Not sure what to make of this, to be honest. The heart wants to believe in the potential of goodness… the triumph of the human spirit yada yada. Then logic slaps me in the face and says something about Egyptian propaganda to influence the US to pressure Israel into making concessions.
|| Elder of Zion #6 1:58 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              And Not So Encouraging Signs
Many Western commentators and politicians have expressed optimism about a new "peace process" with the Palestinians after the death of Arafat, and about the new "moderate" leadership, it seems that the reality is that not much has changed. Once again, the Palestinian leadership is saying one thing in English, and the complete opposite in Arabic. Barry Rubin questions whether there is any real movement towards peace on the Palestinian side, or if it is just
a propaganda bid for renewed Western sympathy and pressure on Israel for unilateral concessions
And Steven Stalinsky, the executive director of MEMRI, provides some quotes from the Palestinian leadership that show their true intentions. Hopefully the Bush administration will pay attention to what is being said in Arabic, and not just in English as the Clinton team did.
|| Nudnik 12:28 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Encouraging Signs
The future of Iraq is far from clear at this point, yet already there are positive signs coming out of the Arab world as a result of the invasion. As I have argued previously, the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with WMD - the reason given for the invasion - but with an attempt at a wholesale transformation of the Arab world. Some comments in the Arab media seem to show that this transformation is starting; at the least, questions that would not and were not asked, are now being asked. Bill Kristol quotes a number of these.
Some of the [Arab League] members . . .maintain that the Baghdad government is not legitimate. Why? They argue that it is not elected and was appointed by the American occupation. This widespread view has some basis. . . . However, the talk of the illegitimacy of the [Iraqi] government. . . . allows us to raise questions regarding most of the regimes in the region . . . some of which emerged as a result of coups or internal conspiracies, when no one asked the people what it thought.
Abdel Rahman al-Rashed
director-general of Al Arabia TV, writing in the London-based daily Al Sharq Al Awsat
November 24
This is why elections can not be postponed. Delaying them may once again push these voices into hiding, and then the invasion will not have achieved any real objectives.
|| Nudnik 11:26 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Monday, December 06, 2004

              Kofi or Not
In the past week there have been a number of calls for Kofi Annan to resign, or be removed from his position, due to his presiding over the Oil-for-Food scam. As would be expected, the calls for his head have come almost entirely from the US, while Europeans and others have written letters of support. Glenn Reynolds has proposed that Vaclav Havel be named to replace Annan in order to restore some legitimacy to the UN. But as Jeff Jacoby sees it, it is irrelevant whether or not Annan resign.
Annan is merely a symptom of the UN's sickness, not the cause of it. His resignation would do nothing to reform the UN into the engine of peace and liberty its founders envisioned. Better that Annan remain in place as a symbol of UN fecklessness and failure, and a spur to those who can envision something better.

The UN is a corrupt institution, one that long ago squandered whatever moral legitimacy it once had. The UN's founding documents venerate justice and human rights, but for the past 40 years, the organization has been dominated by a bloc of states -- essentially the Afro-Asian Third World -- most of whose governments routinely pervert justice and violate human rights.
While it would be great to see Annan humiliated by a forced resignation, I think that it might accomplish the opposite of what it would be intended to do. If Annan resigns, and someone like Havel is put in his place, then without doing anything the UN will regain some measure of legitimacy and respect. Much better to keep Annan in place as a reminder of what a cesspool of corruption and immorality the UN has become. Maybe then the democracies of the world would form their own organization and consign the UN to the ashheap of history where it belongs.


Look within yourself young Jedi
(a follow up from Elder of Zion #6)

It is human nature to look out for one's own interests. There are those among us who hold a wonderful vision of the member states of the United Nations, evolving to the point where they put the personal interests of their individual regimes aside for the common good of the world body as a whole. However, not unlike the failings of other well meaning concepts such as socialism, the shortcomings of human nature eventually prevail. As much as I sincerely abhor the actions of many at the UN, I understand them. In many cases they are simplistically self-serving. What I don’t understand is the legitimacy and support bestowed upon them by so many, including our own government. My disappointment in the continued passive acceptance of that organization far exceeds that of their actions. The Kofi’s of the world will come and go… the more important change that has to take place is… within us.

|| Nudnik 1:10 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Friday, December 03, 2004

              Sad, But Probably True
Ha'aretz quotes the former Chief Rabbi of Israel: European Jewry Coming to an End
"I see the end of the Diaspora of Jews in Europe," Lau said. "I call on the government to prepare for a new phase in the spiritual and physical absorption of European Jewry before they consider emigrating to the United States or Australia," Lau said.
|| Nudnik 3:14 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
Another great article by Victor Hanson about how easily we forget even the near past. Looking back at Afghanistan, everything looks great; but long forgotten is all the noise made by the opponents of even that invasion about cold and refugees and Ramadan and the impossibility of victory there.
There may well be even more terrible things to come in Iraq than what we have seen already, but there will also be far better things than were there before. And there will come a time, when all those who slandered the efforts — the Germans, the French, the American radical Left, the vicious Michael "Minutemen" Moore, the pampered and coddled Hollywood elite, the Arab League, and the U.N. will assume that Iraq is a "good thing" like Afghanistan, and that democracy there really was preferable — after they had so bravely weighed in with their requisite "ifs" and "buts" — to the mass murders of Saddam Hussein. Yes, they will say all this, but it will be for the rest of us to remember how it all came about and what those forgotten soldiers and people of Iraq went through to get it — lest we forget, lest we forget....
|| Nudnik 2:31 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              Does He Realize What He is Saying?
Reuters carries a report on Vladimir Putin's speech in India which is a stunning example of what psychologists would call projection.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of pursuing a dictatorial foreign policy and said mounting violence could derail progress toward bringing peace and democracy to Iraq.
"Dictatorial foreign policy"??? He has got to be kidding. And wasn't he one of the ones who was opposed to "bringing peace and democracy to Iraq" and instead wanted to keep Saddam in place?

Putin also criticized the West for setting double-standards on terrorism, pursuing Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan and Iraq while giving refuge to "terrorists" demanding Chechnya's independence from Russia.
I seem to recall Russia scolding Israel for killing Hamas leaders and other terrorists, and criticizing Israel's invasion of Jenin while reducing Grozny to ash. Of course there are no double standards there.

And finally this most ironic line.

"Even if dictatorship is packaged in beautiful pseudo-democratic phraseology, it will not be able to solve systemic problems," Putin said. "It may even make them worse."
A perfect description of Putin's rule.


Elder thoughts... with one foot in grave and another on Putin
(By Elder of Zion #6)

As I read the above post from my flue ridden death bed, and I started to ponder my own feelings of our Russian friend and the memory of a life long since past the following song came to mind.

"We see them after school in a world of their own.
To some it may seem creepy what they do.
The neighbors on the right sat and watched them every night.
I bet you’d do the same if it was you.
Wizzing and pasting and Putin through the day.
Ronny helping Kenny
helping burn his boots away."

Sometimes one must grasp for the lyrics of the great Frank Zappa when in
search of clarity. I think that just about says it all. Either that or I am
still delirious with flue. Mom… send soup.
|| Nudnik 1:09 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
In the last week or so amazing things have been happening in the Ukraine. I didn't write about it simply because I don't know very much about the specifics. What makes these demonstrations so significant is their proximity to Russia, and the possible influence it could have on future elections there. Both John Podhoretz and Charles Krauthammer make similar arguments regarding these events. Podhoretz believes that this demand for true democratic election is a result of The Law of Unintended Consequences.
A strong argument can be made that America's conduct over the past three years in fighting the War on Terror against Islamic extremists has borne surprising fruit in the glorious and thrilling display of liberty in the streets of Kiev.

Millions of Ukrainians are creating an entirely new kind of democratic revolution: They've simply refused to let their election be stolen by a government run by a kleptocratic mafia, and they've taken to the streets of the capital. As their peaceful, high-spirited, optimistic and profoundly moving protest has grown over the past weeks, it has taken an amazing turn.
By pushing for democracy in the Islamic world the US has, in effect, given support for it everywhere.

Krauthammer, on the other hand, exposes the hypocrisy of the Europeans (and their US supporters) in lauding and supporting democracy in Ukraine, while denying its possibility in other places.
Thus Zbigniew Brzezinski, a fierce opponent of the Bush administration's democracy project in Iraq, writes passionately about the importance of democracy in Ukraine and how, by example, it might have a domino effect, spreading democracy to neighboring Russia. Yet when George Bush and Tony Blair make a similar argument about the salutary effect of establishing a democracy in the Middle East -- and we might indeed have the first truly free election in the Middle East within two months if we persevere -- "realist" critics dismiss it as terminally naive.

If you had said 20 years ago that Ukraine would today be on the threshold of joining a democratic Europe, you, too, would have been called a hopeless utopian. Yes, Iraq has no democratic tradition and deep ethnic divisions. But Ukrainian democracy is all of 13 years old, much of it dominated by a corrupt, authoritarian regime with close ties to an even more corrupt and authoritarian Russia. And with a civilizational split right down the middle, Ukraine has profound, and potentially catastrophic, divisions.

So let us all join hands in praise of the young people braving the cold in the streets of Kiev. But then tell me why there is such silence about the Iraqis, young and old, braving bullets and bombs, organizing electorate lists and negotiating coalitions even as we speak. Where is it written: Only in Ukraine?
|| Nudnik 12:30 PM || Permalink || (0) comments

Thursday, December 02, 2004

              The Death of the Left
Michael Ledeen has a good article about the death of the Left, and how this is visible in their actions during the election campaign, and after Bush's re-election.
When their ideas were in vogue, leftist advocates took electoral defeat in stride, as they were confident that their vision was far more popular - because far more accurate - than their opponents' view of the world. History and logic were on their side. But no more. Incoherent rage and unbridled personal attacks on the winners are sure signs of a failed vision.

Ironically, the Left's view of history provides us with part of the explanation for its death. Marx and Hegel both understood that the world constantly changes, and ideas change along with it. The world they knew - and successfully transformed - was a class-bound society dominated by royalty and aristocracy. They hurled themselves into class struggle, believing it to be the engine of human history, and they fought for liberty for all. Successive generations of leftists preached and organized democratic revolution at home and abroad, from the overthrow of tyrants to the abolition of class privileges and the redistribution of both political power and material wealth.

In true dialectical fashion, they were doomed by their own success...
|| Nudnik 2:31 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
The conventional wisdom regarding the Middle East has for a long time been that the US is hated in the Arab world because of its support for Israel, and if the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could be settled, everything would get better. Amir Taheri confronts this conventional wisdom about the anti-American and anti-Israel sentiments of the Arab world by reversing the cause and effect.
Conventional wisdom also insists that the US is hated by Muslims because it is pro-Israel. That view is shared by most American officials posted to the Arab capitals. But is it not possible that the reverse is true – that Israel is hated because it is pro-American?
I think that in part he is right in this assertion - one need only to look at Iran's view of the US as "The Great Satan" and Israel as the "Little Satan" as confirmation. However, one needs to look at the different parts of the Arab world. For the part that is secular, Israel is seen as an outpost of America in their neighborhood. Their hatred of Israel clearly has to do with Israel's support of the US. But in the fundamentalist part, US or not Israel is an intruder - an occupier of holy Muslim land. It would not matter who was supporting Israel or whom Israel was supporting, the issue would be the same - Israel's very existence.
|| Nudnik 12:03 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
              The Problem With Voluntary Compliance
The New York Times, in this story, illustrates the main problem with the current non-proliferation scheme in the form of the IAEA.
International inspectors are requesting access to two secret Iranian military sites where intelligence suggests that Tehran's Ministry of Defense may be working on atomic weapons, despite the agreement that Iran reached this week to suspend its production of enriched uranium, according to diplomats here.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the I.A.E.A., said in an interview here on Wednesday that he had repeatedly asked Iran for access to the two sites, but that it had not yet been granted.
The whole basis of IAEA inspections relies on the honesty and good faith of the countries which the IAEA is inspecting. Iran has been cheating for almost 20 years, yet the EU-3 makes agreements with them ignoring this record. Since the military sites where Iran is doing nuclear "research" are not subject to inspections, a country that chooses to develop weapons can easily get around the whole inspection and non-proliferation regime.

International arms control is, in some ways, very similar to gun control. In both cases the goal is to limit the access to weapons to those whom society considers dangerous. So for the law abiding, there are restrictions. Yet for those who choose to flout the law - the very ones the laws are made to constrain - these restrictions are meaningless.
|| Nudnik 8:54 AM || Permalink || (0) comments

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

              Bush's Resolve
Since the death of Arafat there has been lots of talk about how to proceed with the "peace process". There was a lot of question about how Bush would act and whether he would succumb to pressure from Europe and the UN to force Israel into concessions. On November 11th I wrote that I was "hopeful, but not entirely optimistic" about Bush being able to resist such pressure. In the past few weeks I have grown much more optimistic.

In his appointment of Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State and Stephen Hadley as National Security Adviser, Bush has advanced two people who are very sympathetic to Israel and who believe that we can not return to the failed policies of Oslo and Clinton/Barak. Maybe even more importantly, Bush's vision of how to proceed has been guided by his general belief that the key to a stable and peaceful Middle East is democracy, not concessions. His words in today's speech in Canada confirm this.
Achieving peace in the Holy Land is not just a matter of pressuring one side or the other on the shape of a border or the site of a settlement. This approach has been tried before without success.

As we negotiate the details of peace, we must look at the heart of the matter, which is the need for a Palestinian democracy. The Palestinian people need a peaceful government that truly serves their interests. And the Israeli people need a true partner in peace.
Unlike his predecessors (or his opponent in the last election), Bush has an ideology and is willing to stand up for it. His steadfastness in the pursuit of these goals could actually produce dramatic and long lasting results in the Middle East.
|| Nudnik 4:26 PM || Permalink || (0) comments
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