Selling the EU
In a few days France will vote in a referendum on the new EU Constitution. It seems, at this point, that French voters will reject this 300 page monstrosity. But not to worry, I'm certain that similar to previous votes on EU matters, if the French get this vote "wrong" they will be given the chance to vote on it again and again until they produce the answer that Chirac and Giscard actually want.
But what is interesting, is the way the bEUreaucrats are trying to sell this constitution. Mark Steyn has an interesting write-up of their campaign.
Scornful of such piffling analogies, the prime minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, thinks a Balkan end is the least of their worries. "I've been in Auschwitz and Yad Vashem," he says. "The images haunt me every day. It is supremely important for us to avoid such things in Europe."
At the Theresienstadt (or Terezin) concentration camp in the Czech Republic, Sweden's European Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, declared: "There are those who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things. I say those people should come to Terezin and see where that old road leads."
Golly. So the choice for voters on the Euro-ballot is apparently: yes to the European Constitution, or yes to a new Holocaust. If there's a neither-of-the-above box, the EU's rulers are keeping quiet about it. The notion that the Continent's peoples are basically a bunch of genocidal whackoes champing at the bit for a new bloodbath is one I'm not unsympathetic to. But it's a curious rationale to pitch to one's electorate: vote for us; we're the straitjacket on your own worst instincts.
Arianna Huffington has recently started a celebrity-laden group blog. Ned Rice reviews this latest contribution to our virtual discussion world, as as well as some old technology attempts by the Left to "get their message out".
Apart from its larcenous origins and hit-or-miss content the other glaring weakness of "The Huffington Post" is that it's pretty much what sources like N.P.R., the A.P., and most TV networks already offer: a conventional left-of-center perspective with a few conservative voices tossed in for window dressing.
With this new blog, as well as AirAmerica, and Al Gore's proposed liberal network, the Left continues to believe that if only they could get their message out, people would vote for them. It seems, though that the key problem for the Left is not "getting their message out", but actually getting a message that people actually support.
Attention Democrats: the American people have heard your message loud and clear, and the more they hear of it the less they like it. You can launch all the feeble new media ventures you like ("Hey, how about a liberal 'zine? That'll turn this thing around!"). You can spend as much of George Soros's fortune as he's stupid enough to part with. You can even get Margaret Cho to come back out of the closet and denounce President Bush again - or did she do that already? Thing is, until you advance a political philosophy that has some sort of connection with mainstream America you might just as well get used to being the minority party no matter how many New Media outlets you horn in on.
Well, the jackasses at Amnesty International have done it again in their annual report on human rights around the world: U.S. leads global attack on human rights -Amnesty. Of course, the main reasons for this assessment by AI is Abu Ghraib and detentions at Guantanamo. It is hard to imagine a more morally obtuse report than this.
In the four years since 9/11, the US has liberated Afghanistan from the Taliban, ensuring rights for all the people there. After that the US liberated Iraq from one of the most brutal dictators of the last 50 years, once again improving the human rights of the people there immeasurably. The US has done more for human rights just in the last four years more than AI has done in its entire existence. Yet the only thing that the anti-American morons at AI see is Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
Of course, the other country so assaulted by AI is Israel. They have accused Israel of "war crimes and crimes against humanity". The basis for these accusations is that Palestinian civilians have been killed in "attacks on residential areas". Perhaps it would behoove AI to actually read international law before propounding these inanities. Yes, Palestinian civilians have been killed. But according to international law the responsibility for these deaths lie solely on the terrorists who hide out in civilian areas - a war crime under international law - and use civilians as human shields - also a war crime. These Palestinian crimes do not merit mention by AI.
Of course, its much easier to accuse democracies of violations of international law than it is to accuse repressive regimes; there is always a fifth column in democracies willing to heap scorn and blame on their own governments and draw even more attention to the baseless accusations of NGOs gone wild - something which usually does not occur in the Sudans and Zimbabwes of the world.
My suggestion is to force the people making these judgments to actually go live in a truly repressive country before they make such accusations. Maybe then they would actually find out something about human rights.
Ariel Sharon today said something that everyone has known, but not been willing to say publicly:
Without offending the Arab world, it must be said that their agreements, declarations and speeches are not worth the paper they're written on.
Clearly this is evidenced by the actions of the Palestinian Authority since Arafat signed the Oslo Accords. Continuing in that rich tradition, within days of signing onto the "Roadmap", Abbas was also violating it and openly talking about it.
Caroline Glick has more on Abbas's continued violations, while at the same time talking peace. I have no doubt that the Bush Administration understands exactly what is going on in the PA. Yet in doing nothing about it except the ritual announcements that the PA "must do more", the Bush Administration is undermining its own principles in the War on Terror.
The Bush administration seems absolutely committed to ensuring that the PA will not become a failed state on the model of Somalia or Lebanon. And yet, in its rush to strengthen Abbas in order to prevent chaos, the US is backing his bid to establish a Palestinian rogue state.
If President Bush really believes in his vision for freedom and democracy for the Palestinians, he would be well advised to tell Abbas that as long as the choices are between a failed Palestinian state and a rogue Palestinian state, the US opts for no Palestinian state.
This is a copy/paste from an email I got. Makes for a good yuk.
Two beggars are sitting side by side on a street in Rome. One has a cross in front of him. The other one has the Star of David. Many people go by and look at both beggars, but only put money into the hat of the beggar sitting behind the cross.
A priest comes by, stops and watches throngs of people giving money to the beggar behind the cross, but none give to the beggar behind the Star of David. Finally, the priest goes over to the beggar behind the Star of David and says: "My poor fellow, don't you understand? This is a Catholic country. People aren't going to give you money if you sit there with a 'Star of David' in front of you, especially when you're sitting beside a beggar who has a cross. In fact, they would probably give to him just out of spite." The beggar behind the 'Star of David' listened to the priest, turned to the other beggar with the cross and said: "Moishe, look who's trying to teach the Goldstein brothers about marketing."
Apparently, in the mistaken belief that anyone still wanted to hear his opinions, Hans Blix decided to once again criticize President Bush.
Blix told reporters there is "a great deal of concern" about North Korea and Iran among states without nuclear weapons.
But "that feeling of concern is somewhat muted by the feeling that the United States in particular, and perhaps some other nuclear weapons states, are not taking the common bargain as seriously as they had committed themselves to do in the past," he said.
He cited Bush administration proposals to build new nuclear weapons and talk in Washington even of testing weapons, ending a 13-year-old U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests. He also referred to statements by Bolton, President Bush's embattled nominee to be U.N. ambassador, devaluing treaties and the authority of international law.
So the reason that North Korea and Iran are developing nuclear weapons is because of statements by Bolton? Blix seems to forget that Iran has been working on this for quite a few years, and that it was during the Clinton Administration that the North Koreans.
Cox and Forkum has the perfect cartoon for Blix's idiocy.
More fundamentally, Blix expresses the continuing delusion of the Left that all one needs to do to guarantee world peace is sign some treaties. It seems that no amount of evidence can convince those that are so blinded that tyrants and tyrannies do not adhere to treaties.
Comme Une Image
It seems that in connection with the V-E celebrations, a new monument of Charles de Gaulle was opened in Moscow. Russia loves public monuments, but our resident art historian Nudnikette points out some very interesting aspects about the statue. Basically, it signifies cowardice. He looks like a "toy soldier" - well dressed but powerless and unarmed. His feet are facing slightly inwards, like a child's. He is standing at attention, the way a soldier stands before a superior. And the superior is undoubtedly Stalin. Probably not how the French wanted him to be represented, but a fairly true representation nonetheless.
Today is the celebration of V-E Day in Russia, celebrated a day later than in the West primarily because Stalin delayed the announcement of victory for a day. Pretty much all the newspapers carry stories about Bush and Putin watching the parade and ceremonies in Red Square, yet almost none really say anything about what this commemoration is really about. As those who fought in that war get old and pass away we lose the oral history of those events, and the sacrifices made by all who were swept up in the war.
The experiences of the US and the Soviet Union, and the soldiers of the respective countries, were vastly different. Around 27 million soldiers and civilians of the Soviet Union were killed in the war. By contrast, US dead numbered around 400,000. And while the US was fighting for an idea, the destruction of the Nazi regime, the Soviet Union was fighting for something much more tangible their homes. The US homeland was never really threatened during the war. Even if the Nazis won the US would not be invaded, and while life might have been different, the US would have continued more or less as it was. Soviet soldiers were fighting for their very homes, knowing that losing meant death for them and their families.
The way the US and the Soviets fought was also entirely different. One of the reasons for such heavy casualties in the Soviet army was the complete lack of concern of the Soviet leadership for the welfare of its people. It would be inconceivable for the US army to send troops into battle unarmed, with orders to pick up the rifle of the soldier next to you. Or to place machine guns behind your own advancing troops and gun down any who did not advance. Yet this is what the Red Army regularly did.
My Grandfather was one of the millions who fought in the Red Army. He was a 17 year old lieutenant when the Nazis invaded, fought outside of Stalingrad, and towards the end of the war commanded an anti-tank artillery unit that ended up in East Prussia. I have heard many stories from him about those years, yet I still can not fully imagine what he and that generation had to go through.
And with every day, there are fewer and fewer people to explain what happened and to relate what they saw. V-E Day loses its importance and allows us to forget what happened, and lose the lessons for our current situations - as more attention is paid to the goings on of Paula Abdul and American Idol, than the commemoration of a world struggle and triumph over unimaginable evil.
I wonder if there will be a 100th anniversary commemoration of V-E Day, and if there is what it will look like.
I haven't really written anything on Israel's upcoming withdrawal of settlements from the Gaza Strip later this summer. Until recently I was very conflicted on the wisdom and the necessity of this move. As a strategic concept, trading Gaza for part of the West Bank is a good move for Israel. However, more and more it seems that such a strategy will be difficult to achieve. I am now firmly of the belief that leaving Gaza will be a major mistake; it will not improve Israel's bargaining position vis-a-vis the Palestinians or the US.
The most likely outcome from this evacuation will be to produce a result similar to Barak's withdrawal from Lebanon 5 years ago - the Palestinians will be emboldened into thinking that they can achieve the same result in the West Bank; Hamas leadership has already said as much. The strategy of the Palestinians will be not to attack within the Green Line, something that is daily made more difficult by the separation barrier, but to attack the settlements in Judea and Samaria. And just as we heard about the settlements in Gaza - they're difficult to protect, why waste soldiers on this, etc - we will hear the same about these settlements. The Palestinians have not wasted time during this hudna and have been stockpiling and preparing everything from rifles and explosives to anti-tank and shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles smuggled in from Egypt. They have also brought in and have started manufacturing Kassam rockets in the West Bank. No longer will these rockets be falling in the desert or on the outskirts of Sderot, but on Kfar Saba and the outskirts of Jerusalem.
With this withdrawal Israel, with the urging and help of the US, will have succeeded in creating a new terrorist enclave in the Middle East and brought on itself a wider and deadlier war. As Caroline Glick points out, this is completely contrary to the goals of the Bush administration.
Israel's planned withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria present a tangible threat to US national security interests from both military and psychological warfare perspectives.
On the military level, one of the core principles of the US counter-terror strategy is to deny terrorists sanctuary. Yet Gaza and northern Samaria are both poised to become new operational bases for global terror organizations.
During his negotiations with the terror chiefs in Cairo in March, in the presence of Syria's foreign minister, PA chairman and US favorite Mahmoud Abbas invited the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command to relocate from Damascus to Gaza after Israel withdraws. How does this square with the US strategy to bar terrorists from receiving shelter? [...] On a psychological level, the images of an Israeli retreat from Gaza and northern Samaria will be footage for jihadi recruitment videos for years to come. In Iraq, a large proportion of the insurgent groups' energies are devoted to producing images that portray them as strong and the US forces as weak. Al-Jazeera and its clones along with cameramen employed as stringers by Western news networks and agencies work hand-in-glove with the terrorists to produce just such images. The point, of course, is that in at least one central respect, Arabs are no different from Americans. Both like winners. Videos showing the decapitation of hostages are meant to mobilize supporters.
Yet there can be no doubt that, as attractive as watching helpless hostages getting beheaded may be to potential recruits, the spectacle of Hamas and Fatah flags being foisted onto Israeli homes in Gaza and Samaria is even more alluring. And footage of Jews attacking one another as Israel comes apart at the seams will also serve the terrorists' purposes wonderfully well.
The damage to US interests and democracy promotion in the Middle East would be immeasurable.
But the decision for this "evacuation" has been made, and it seems there is no turning back now. The main question that remains then is what to do with the buildings in the soon to be abandoned settlements. Many in Israel, including the man who brought us the Oslo War yet continues to push for more appeasement - Shimon Peres - thinks that the settlements should be turned into a Club Med or Palestinian resorts. It is ironic, as David Warren shows that the Palestinians would prefer to have the settlements destroyed by Israel, while Israel would rather abandon them intact.
It is typical of the non-meeting of minds, that the Palestinians mostly want the buildings demolished and their sites cleared, while most Israelis want to hand over the buildings to the Palestinians rather than wasting them. The Israeli authorities are also aware that if the buildings are demolished, the international media will have an anti-Israeli field day showing the scene. Which is in turn why many Palestinians want the demolition to happen: they would rather see that TV show, than have the use of buildings better constructed and serviced than most they now own.
And now the PA is considering giving families of suicide bombers these homes. No matter what bad PR comes of it, these settlements must be destroyed. Pictures of Palestinians dancing on the homes of the departed Israelis will be worse PR. Uri Dan is right:
Israel's momentary profit from being represented in the world media as a peace lover giving the keys of Jewish displaced persons' homes to the Palestinians will be swallowed up by a long-term loss: unambiguous encouragement of the enemy to continue its war against the kibbutzim in the region, against Ashkelon and Ashdod, from the Gaza Strip, and against the heart of Israel from Judea and Samaria.
Ariel Sharon, as defense minister, destroyed the Yamit settlements in 1982 with government approval because he didn't want Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, with whom Menachem Begin had signed a peace agreement, to implement his program to transfer between half a million and a million Egyptians to a region close to the overcrowded Gaza Strip. You don't need a great deal of imagination to realize how terrible Israel's situation would be if another two million Egyptians were living there today. If it was right then, during the withdrawal from Sinai, after signing a peace agreement with Egypt, it is even more right to follow that path today in the Gaza Strip, in the face of Hamas's and Islamic Jihad's plans to continue the war.
So destroy it all!
At least this may salvage some good from a horrible decision.
Iran Rolls On
It seems that the "talks" between Iran and the EU-3 have come to an impasse, and Iran is now saying that it is determined to pursue uranium enrichment. Clearly this sets it up for a confrontation with the US, and once again the efficacy and worth of the UN will be tested. The US will undoubtedly want the matter referred to the UN Security Council in order to impose sanctions on Iran. Even if China and Russia go along and don't veto such a resolution, what effect would sanctions actually have? Iraq managed to survive under sanctions for 12 years, South Africa even longer. While we could afford to wait with those countries, Iran is only a couple of years away from a nuclear bomb, and according to Israeli intelligence, will achieve a "point of no return" - when they have worked out all technical issues and will be able to proceed without outside help - possibly by the end of this year. Sanctions are, in effect, an acceptance of a nuclear Iran.
Iran is due to have elections in June. There is some hope that some kind of democratic movement will emerge to overthrow the mullahs - although this hope is fairly faint. Despite the continuing reports of demonstrations and riots in a number of cities in Iran - reports that rarely, if ever make the news here - there doe not seem to be enough of an organized movement to remove the mullahs.
More and more, as risky and uncertain as it is, it seems that a military strike on Iran's facilities could be the best option. The best case scenario would be if there were some kind of democratic demonstrations which would then be "supported" by US airpower. Such airstrikes would aim to destroy not just the nuclear installations, but also government command and control assets, military, and Revolutionary Guard installations. This could then have the possibility of overthrowing the mullahs. The worst case scenario is flat out airstrikes on nuclear installations. Since we don't know where all of them are, this would not destroy the Iranian nuclear program, but could delay it for long enough. And once again, the hope would be that the mullahs would be overthrown from within. None of these options are good ones. But once again, the US (not the UN or France) will have to choose and execute the least bad option.