Sunday, July 31, 2005
The Arts of Self Delusion and Martyrdom
Iranian "President-Elect" Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad:
Is there art that is more beautiful, more divine, and more eternal than the art of martyrdom?Yes, possibly, at least from the mullah's prespective -- the European art of self delusion:
The European Union will offer Iran next week a guaranteed supply of nuclear fuel for civilian nuclear power plants and expanded economic cooperation if Iran agrees to stop trying to make its own fuel, two European officials said Wednesday.Yikes.
The offer will be timed to stop an Iranian threat to end a nine-month suspension of its nuclear energy program, the officials said.
Bill Roggio has more:
Iran’s desire to become a nuclear power is moving forward. Negotiations between Iran and the EU-3 (Britain, France and Germany) have reached an impasse, and Iran demands the EU-3 settle the issue by today, or the UN seals on the Isfahan nuclear reactor will be broken and fuel processing and research will immediately resume. Iran’s actions have contributed to the rise of oil prices, as investors fear “another risk to the stability in the region.”Bill C adds: Maybe we should be asking what holy cities the Israelis are targetting. Qom anyone?
The timing of ultimatum is remarkable as the Washington Post reports reports the EU-3 is prepared to offer Iran a sweetheart deal, “a package that includes major security assurances, economic cooperation and a guaranteed fuel supply. In exchange, Tehran would permanently forgo production of fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons.” Yet we should not be surprised, as Iran has intended to keep its nuclear program all along.
Allowing Iran to maintain a civilian nuclear program, and providing nuclear fuel to sustain the effort, would be folly, as the program has been specifically designed to be converted to military applications.
Saturday, July 30, 2005
U.S. Bases in Germany
Via Outside The Beltway:
US troops will pull out of 11 bases in southern Germany in 2007 as part of a shake-up of US forces around the world. The bases, mainly in Bavaria, are home to the 1st Infantry Division which will return to the US in 2006, the defence department said in a statement. It will be replaced by smaller forces able to react rapidly to new threats. Up to 70,000 US troops currently in Europe and Asia are to be redeployed in accordance with plans announced by President George W Bush last year.It's good to see we're abandoning these small bases. It's a move which is long overdue. But what about the big ones we still have there?
Press Ignores Bush Assassination Attempt
What I find rather weird about this is the almost total lack of coverage of (Vladimir Arutyunyan's) assassination attempt and subsequent capture in the American press. As best I can tell from a Google Search, the Washington Times is the only American newspaper that has even noted Arutyunyan's arrest. How is it possible that American journalists have so little interest in an attempt to assassinate our President?He's not paranoid. They wouldn't be.
The only parallel I can think of is the ho-hum attitude that journalists showed toward Saddam Hussein's attempt to assassinate former President George H. W. Bush--which was, in my view, more than ample reason to oust Saddam from power. Coverage of the disclosure of that attempt was so sparse that I would guess many Americans have no idea that Saddam tried to murder the former President.
Maybe the current political climate is making me paranoid, but I cannot imagine that our news services would be equally indifferent to an attempt to assassinate a Democratic President.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Annihilate the Jihadists
Quite simply, Islam is not in need of a reformation, but of a civil war in the Middle East, since the jihadists cannot be reasoned with, only defeated. Only with their humiliation, will come a climate of tolerance and reform, when berated and beaten-down moderates can come out of the shadows.
The challenge for the Middle East is analogous to our own prior war with Hitler who sought to redefine Western culture along some racial notion of a pure Volk long ago unspoiled by Romanizing civilization. Proving the West was not about race or some notion of an ubermenschen ruling class did not require an “internal dialogue,” much less another religious reformation, but the complete annihilation of Nazism.
-----------Iraq has inadvertently become the battleground of a long overdue reckoning, a bellwether of the future of the Middle East. If the constitutionalists win, then the jihadists will be in retreat and there will be at last a third way between radical Islam and dictatorship.
We must now step up our efforts. At home we should no more tolerate the expression of Islamic fascism on the shores of the West than Churchill would have allowed Hitler Youth to teach Aryan global racial superiority in London while it was under the Blitz.
-----------Iraqi guardsmen are fighting al Qaedists as Afghans die in firefights with Taliban remnants. Note well that at the loci of American democratizing presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, there are few local Iraqis and Afghans — as there are few Turkish or Indian Muslims — who are eager for global jihad against the West. The killers instead flock from elsewhere to those new nations to stop the experiment before it spreads. Give dictatorial Pakistan or Egypt billions, and we get ever more terrorists; give the Iraqis and Afghans their freedom and their citizens are unlikely to show up in London and Madrid blowing up civilians, but rather busy at home killing jihadists.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Kelo Inspired Takings in Oakland
(Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown) admitted that Autohouse and Revelli Tires are not blighted, but told of other buildings nearby that were crime-ridden and vermin-infested before the city pushed for redevelopment.Correction: It seems the Kelo decision had no impact on this case. It's just a run-of-the-mill story about the abusive use of eminent domain. I regret the error.
"You cannot have a downtown with this kind of abandonment," said Brown. And: "There is a greater good here," in eradicating the blight and replacing it with homes.
The mayor also made a pledge: "It's not easy, but I personally pledge to do everything I can to get this guy located." Fung, too.
If that doesn't happen, it is not as if Oakland couldn't redevelop the land around Autohouse and Revelli Tires, which occupy about 6,500 square feet amid asphalt parking lots.
"I was very, very happy there," Revelli told me. "I had the best building, the best location -- one block from the BART station. I couldn't have asked for better."
Well, there was one problem with Revelli's property: It was on such a prime location, the government virtually stole it.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Will Ahmed Ressam Get A Second Chance?
Today, Ahmed Ressam, the Millennium Bomber, received a 22 year prison sentence. After as few as 13 years, at the age of 51, he may get another chance to try and kill thousands of Americans. During the sentencing hearing, Judge John Coughenour delivered a message:
I've done my very best to arrive at a period of confinement that appropriately recognizes the severity of the intended offense, but also recognizes the practicalities of the parties' positions before trial and the cooperation of Mr. Ressam, even though it did terminate prematurelyWhere does he get the idea that we have 'the resolve' in this country to give failed terrorists caught red handed second chances at killing? Because this isn't resolve -- it's stupidity. How big a sacrifice is spending a major portion of one's life incarcerated when one is willing -- even eager -- to die committing a terrorist act? And what's with this business about the 'severity of the intended offense' and the 'subject' of terrorism? After all, Ressam's 'cause' is the destruction of our country.
The message I would hope to convey in today's sentencing is twofold:
First, that we have the resolve in this country to deal with the subject of terrorism and people who engage in it should be prepared to sacrifice a major portion of their life in confinement.
Judge Coughenour continues:
Secondly, though, I would like to convey the message that our system works. We did not need to use a secret military tribunal, or detain the defendant indefinitely as an enemy combatant, or deny him the right to counsel, or invoke any proceedings beyond those guaranteed by or contrary to the United States Constitution.Sounds wonderful. Except:
I would suggest that the message to the world from today's sentencing is that our courts have not abandoned our commitment to the ideals that set our nation apart. We can deal with the threats to our national security without denying the accused fundamental constitutional protections.
Despite the fact that Mr. Ressam is not an American citizen and despite the fact that he entered this country intent upon killing American citizens, he received an effective, vigorous defense, and the opportunity to have his guilt or innocence determined by a jury of 12 ordinary citizens.
Most importantly, all of this occurred in the sunlight of a public trial. There were no secret proceedings, no indefinite detention, no denial of counsel.
We captured this terrorist on American soil, mostly by luck and the sharp eye of (border) security. Under most circumstances, that does mean that the civilian courts would come into play. If we had traced the terrorist using highly-sensitive intelligence capabilities, however, we would have to have exposed them in Judge Coughenour's court, making them unusable after a single prosecution.It is absurd to think we can or should offer 'constitutional protections' to enemy combatants in matters of national security. After all, enemy combatants usually aren't accused of anything. Upon detection, they're simply shot, shelled, bombed, ect. Does Judge Coughenour think our soldiers should procure warrants or issue warnings before engaging the enemy?
Next, a point which Coughenour elides, the detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere were captured outside the United States, as part of our military operations. Those people not only do not qualify as civilian prisoners, they don't qualify as POWs. Even if they qualified for the latter, the Geneva Conventions do not allow us to try them in civilian courts.
It's all well and good to sit on one's high horse (or bench, in this case) and proclaim one's devotion to the Constitution. It's quite another to understand the proper application of law in wartime and the nature of the enemies arrayed against us. It comes as no surprise that Judge Coughenour displays his expertise at the first and his absolute incompetence at the second, especially given the laughably light sentence he handed to a man who planned on blowing up hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans to celebrate his religion and the new century.
Unsurprisingly, some, like Armando, were pleased by the outcome:
It's important that he was caught by our border guards (yay us!), and that he's locked away. But what's more important is the way his trial was handled. He is no less a terrorist than Mohamed Atta - just less successful. And he's much more of a terrorist than Jose Padilla, who has not and likely will not see an attorney because he's an 'enemy combatant'. 9/11 didn't change who or what these people are, it only seemed to change who we are, and that makes me sad.I could see how, to a Leftist, it seems as if 9/11 changed who we are. By forcing us to get serious about self preservation, the terror attacks have roused America from a long slumber and brought our historical nature - something most Leftists had deluded themselves into thinking they had extinguished - roaring back to the fore.
Armando seems to think justice was done in this case, which makes me sad - for all of us. Does he seriously think that punishment meted out to terrorists should be commensurate with the relative success of a given plot? Or based on an individual's relative degree of proficiency? Doesn't it matter at all that their intent is to destroy our society and kill as many of us as possible in the process? Apparently not.
Hugh Hewett notes this bit of insanity:
Contrast today's sentence with the sentences for the Abu Ghraib guards. Note that Ressam could be out two years before Lyndie England.I find it frightening that too few Americans seem to understand that we are fighting a war for our very survival. And winning a war has nothing to do with obtaining justice.
Howard Dean: Shaping Young Minds
In a speech to College Democrats last week, party chairman Howard Dean told this whopper:
The president and his right-wing Supreme Court think it is 'okay' to have the government take your house if they feel like putting a hotel where your house is.Via Jack Kelly, who notes:
First, the president has appointed NONE of the current justices. Second, ALL the conservative justices dissented in the KELO case. The obnoxious decision was rendered by the four liberals, joined this time by the increasingly squishy Anthony Kennedy.
Is Dean that ignorant, that he knows nothing of the composition of the Supreme Court? Is he that stupid, that he thinks he can get away with a lie like this? Or is he living so deeply in an alternative reality where facts are irrelevant?
The Tancredo Kerfuffle
Or Tom Tancredo is nuts but Stephen Den Beste is a genius.
I having been reading through the blogophere and only a few blogs have made the connection between what Tom Tancredo said and the Wretchard's Second Conjecture and Den Beste's response. (I am proud to say that Brain Droppings is one of those sites thanks to the inimitable John O) One thing I have noticed is that there has been no mention by Charles Johnson of this incident on LGF although there are a few mentions in the comments section. Glenn Reynolds' says that Tancredo is "...sounding pretty dumb..." and he points to Hewitt's fisking of Tancredo but he doesn't make much of a comment and, from my experience reading instapundit I would say that Reynolds is reserving his opinion waiting for more information and/or that he does not have a strong opinion. As I mentioned in 100 Tancredos, more than a few blogs have taken Tancredo out to the woodshed. Hewitt went as far as to accuse the congressman of publicity seeking.
There's a reason they are leading and Tancredo is simply milking rage and anger for personal benefit. They are interested in the national security and victory in the GWOT. Congressman Tancredo is interested in, well, Congressman Tancredo.
Among the smaller, far less than higher being blogs I have seen a mixed response. LaShawn Barber is as passionate in her defense of Tancredo as Hewitt is critical.
Say what you will about me. I couldn’t give a rat’s behind. Criticism from conservative bloggers, particularly on my defense of Tancredo, means as much to me as the daily dung dropped by the most rabid and vacuous liberal bloggers who, ironically, live to read my blog.Kind of makes this blurb from Hewitt concerning Barber seem a little ackward, "She's a rising star of the blogosphere..." Yup, a rising star who just said that Hugh by proxy is a "so-called conservative" who "caves to PC pressure" and has "become indistinguishable from liberals." Ouch! Heh! Indeed!
I don't believe that Tancredo deserved the heap of scorn that was delivered after the Mecca bombing comment. For one, he was speaking extemporaneously during a radio interview about possible threats we could issue to the Muslim world if a nuke was detonated in the U.S. I have no problem with someone who says that this is bad form, a particularly British way of saying that it is rude to say in polite company; although I disagree with this point of view. But the visceral nature of some of the responses struck me as revealing a fissure in the coalition that supports the GWoT. I can't discount the possibility that some of this anger directed at Tancredo has something to do with the fact that he is carrying the ball for Republicans when it comes to restricting immigration. During my search of the blogosphere I ran across a mention of the Three Conjectures by Joseph Cutler, a precocious undergrad at Washington and Lee University:
Machiavelli offered two ways to deal with potential enemies: you can either induce them to love you, or fear you. Thus far, in the Muslim world, America has chosen the former route. NeoConservativism foreign policy is not a warmaking philosophy, it is a peace making one. At its very core, it accepts that American way of governance can be applied anywhere [drawing from American universalism], and that American can survive the long effort it takes to reform our enemies]. I do not mean to suggest that our venture in Iraq is a touchy-feely venture that involves throwing flowers at our enemies, but its ultimate goal is, at the moment, to create an Iraq that is pro-American and gradually changes perceptions in the Muslim world towards us.
Repeated nuclear strikes in the United States undercuts the second assumption. Nuclear terrorism is a direct and obvious threat to the American way of life and democracy. It simply cannot work where one person retains the ability to destroy entire cities - an open society becomes obsolete. If the second assumption of NeoConservative foreign policy is moot, than America cannot act with the intentions of being loved - it must return to coersion, and be feared. Potential nuclear annhilation tends to the clear the mind.
In the current atmosphere of "inducing love," Tancredo's idea is unhelpful. Threatening Mecca will not bring them into our camp, and largely negates our efforts to create good will in Iraq. It will be broadcast daily by Al Qaeda's propaganda arm at Al Jazeera and elsewhere. Nevertheless, in the context of coersion, nuclear retaliation [not necessarily Mecca: our goal is to scare them, not to turn the entire region into fanatics] is most certainly on the table.
As Mr. Cutler points out, the Bush doctrine, or Neoconservatism if you prefer, is dovish in that we are trying to win over the Muslim people of the Middle East by removing dictators and promoting democracy. He believes that Tancredo's conjecture hurts the effort to win over Muslims to our side and I cannot say that is not true. Then really what we are talking about is the need to win moderate Muslims to our side and should we use sticks as well as carrots. I believe Machiavelli would encourage both approachs. Good cop/Bad cop works on many different levels and removing fear from our relations with the Muslim world does nothing to serve our cause.
PBS watch wants us to define to whom we are at war, and he has a plan:
Hewitt tells us "We are not in a war with devout Muslims. We are in a war with Muslims who think that their faith compels them to kill non-believers and the nations that support those extremists. " Wrong. We are in a war both with Muslims who think that their faith compels them to kill non-believers and with Muslims who refuse to combat the terrorist threat in their midst as well as those nations that support the extremists. So far that adds up to the vast majority of the Muslim world. Hewitt and others hypothesize a peace loving Islamic silent majority. As yet we can only say that this putative group is definitely silent. I see no evidence that it is a majority. I made a suggestion several months ago of which I am sure Hewitt would not approve. I suppose I must therefore give up any claim to membership in the center right, but my plan does have the advantage of being far more effective than Tancredo's.
Again, the question is how do we engage the moderate Muslims in the GWoT.
Capt. Morrissey at Captain's Quarter sets up the strawman that Tancredo's Threat is part of MAD strategy targetting fundamentalist Muslims.
The Tancredo Threat assumes that the militant-Islamist terrorists are rational and temporal human beings, concerned more with life and temporal power than they are with the death-cult religion they profess. But what if they are not? What if at least some of them are really what they appear to be -- irrationals concerned not with this world, but only with the next?
But we must assume that the majority of Muslims who are chosing to remain silent in this war are rational and will respond accordingly. If the entirety of the Muslim religion is irrational then it doesn't matter what we say.
There is a lot of talking past each other going on in this debate. For a second, let's forget about whether Tancredo's rhetoric is harmful. Is it true? Meaning, how will America respond to nuclear terrorism? No matter what target Tancredo suggested we should be open to the idea of having a debate about a scenario which is a small but not insignificant possibility.
Viking Pundit: Yes, surely it’s an unthinkable idea this disproportionate retaliation, until about one second after the images of a vaporized Baltimore shipyard hit American TV screens. Then you won’t hear any more of that perfunctory chatter about the “religion of peace.” Everybody – including James Lileks – knows this to be true.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Before we get to Tancredo and his critics, I would like to try a little thought experiment. How many atomic bombs would it take to effectively cripple the United States of America? (I am assuming that terrorists will not be able to get and/or transport hydrogen bombs) I define cripple as pushing American society into a prolonged period of social and economic recovery. Socially it would be the equivalent of the reconstruction after the civil war and the economically think of the Great Depression. An event of this magnitude would take 10-15 years before we could recover. Given our knowledge of the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, approximately 15-25 kilotons, respectively, the areas that were hit would be uninhabitable for at least 10 years. (Assuming you convince anyone to live or work there) A ground blast (vs. an air blast) is most likely and would limit the initial radius of destruction. I think we can safely assume initial dead approaching 100,000 in every city with a population over 1 million with wounded approaching twice that number. In how many cities would there have to be a nuclear detonation?
Let's assume they set off 10 A-bombs in the 9 cities with populations over 1 million. (We will give 2 to the Big Apple because they are more than twice as large as L.A. or Chicago) Would the death of 1 million people plus the injury of 2 million put the U.S. into depression? Would the effective loss of the use of that much real estate be enough? There is no doubt in my mind that the U.S. would survive but we would be a very different nation. These are the scenarios we should ponder because we are at war with an enemy which is willing to carry out such an attack given the resources. In this context, I think it is incombent upon us to have a national debate about the circumstances which would demand retaliation and the scale of that retaliation.
I think the "ultimate response" to Tancredo's apolcalyptic fantasy is that we don't bomb civilians in response to terrorist attacks, no matter how seductive such a response might seem. The idea that the US would retaliate in such a manner should be repulsive to any rational person, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum. The war on terror targets the terrorists and the governments which fund and/or shelter them, not the civilians who happen to live there.I think Mr. Morrisey misses the point of Tancredo's original musings, and I think it is correct to call them musings because he makes it clear he is calling for debate, "I mean, I don't know, I'm just throwing out there some ideas because it seems to me . . . at that point in time you would be talking about taking the most draconian measures you could possibly imagine and because other than that all you could do is once again tighten up internally." Threatening to strike Mecca in response to a nuclear attack is not the same thing as actually doing it. What it does is open up the possibility of a certain response if the enemy attacks first. It leaves the ball in their court. It also forces all Muslims to consider the fact that a few Muslims have been acting in their name and whether they want to remain silent and passive and, therefore, noncommittal in this war.
Besides, who is Tom Tancredo to make these threats anyway? He doesn't have anything to do with the military chain of command or the national security systems that would make those kinds of recommendations. He certainly doesn't speak for the President, who has to make the final determination in loosing those weapons on any target. Tancredo does, however, lend a false sense of credibility to such threats in international circles, thanks to his position as an elected Republican official.The Congressman has started the debate on an issue that deserves discussion. If we feared that Saddam could get ahold of yellowcake and we fear Iran's nuclear program then we must have considered the possibility that there will be a nuclear detonation in the U.S. was real. If so, we, as a nation, should discuss how we will respond.
As I have said, doing and talking are two different things and in the world of deterrence talking a good game is very important in letting your adversary know what are your priorities and how far you are willing to go to protect yourself. Remember, it was Osama bin Laden's not altogether incorrect belief that the U.S. and the rest of the western world would retreat with every greater attack. To this day, we have a portion of our population on the left which opposes almost any effort at self defense and another portion which calls for isolation. Both would accomplish bin Laden's goal of diminishing U.S. influence in the Muslim world. If you are trying to deter an attack by bearing your teeth it is best not to let them know you are just kidding. Taking Mecca off the table after a nuclear attack on U.S. soil is counterproductive to the goal which is to make a nuclear strike unacceptably expensive to the Jihadists.
Hugh Hewitt writes:
He fails because he doubles down on his absurd insistence that "bombing Mecca" ought to be "on the table." No serious politician in the country has come to Tancredo's defense, and indeed I have not seen any credible authority on war or religion endorse this foolishness. No serious Christian theologian can endorse what is obviously an immoral threat against another faith. Tancredo is drawing encouragment from the small percentage of Americans who have fallen into the erroneous belief that all of Islam is arrayed against the West. [emphasis added]I don't believe "that all of Islam is arrayed against the West" any more than I think the whole town was against Marshall Kane. But I do think that within Islam there is a lot of sympathy for bin Laden if not outright support. Do we punish the religion for the sins of the fanatics? Does that not depend on the size of the sin? Should our respect for Islam go so far that we would not even threaten to destroy a holy site if the survival of our society is at stake? In particular, I find this comparison specious:
Sorry. Bombing Mecca to revenge the acts of maniacs is like nuking the Vatican to protest the pedophilia scandal in Boston. The idea appeals to those whose nuanced study of Islam makes them conclude it’s better to alienate one billion people than defeat a fraction of the same group.
Which begs the question, how innocent is Islam? I am sure many of you and many of the people I have criticized in this post read Littlegreenfootballs.com, Robert Spencer or MEMRI and they can see what many Muslims leaders think about the war on terror and the west. Just search LGF for references to the 'religion of peace' and see how many times it pops up. Maybe I am not in on the joke and that everyone really thinks that Islam is not part of the problem. That we should treat Muslim sensibilities with kid gloves because they are mostly on our side as long as we do not insult the prophet or attempt to change their way of life. I have to ask then, why are we in Iraq if it is not to change the way most Muslims live, to drag them kicking and screaming into the 20th century in the hope that prosperity and freedom will do to them what it did to the Germans and Japanese?
I recognize that we need to have the vast majority of Islam on our side if we are to win with the least amount of bloodshed. That being said there is a schizophrenia on the right side of the political spectrum when it comes to how much blame we assign to the religion. On one hand we fret about alienating moderates and on the other we joke about the 5th century mentality of, I dare say, a sizeable minority if not majority of people who practice Islam. So let's stop the hypocrisy and either tell Charles Johnson to cut out the ridicule or get to the heart of the Tancredo controversy: Islam must change and Muslims need to make more of an effort to affect change.
Back to the thought experiment. One of the very dovish aspects of Bush's policies regarding Afghanistan and Iraq is the Wilsonian character of our attempt to remake the Middle Eastern countries into liberal democracies. In that way, we are pursuing a policy that is more likely to leave the fewest amount of Muslims dead. If you are realistic about the risk presented by the Jihadists then you know that a nuclear detonation in the U.S. is not a fantasy no matter how apocolyptic. The reason why I am defending Tancredo is because there is a need to make moderate Muslims know that there will be a high price to be paid if we and they fail to overcome the radicals in their midst. His rhetoric is over the top precisely because all Muslims need to know that the West cannot be trifled with. In particular, the U.S. will consider retaliation on a massive scale for unleashing nuclear weapons on our soil. I can think of no better person to deliver this message than a United States congressman because he is a representative of some of the people and he, no doubt, represents the opinions of many of us who would prefer to take them down with us if that is going to be the case. If the moderate Muslims think it is terrible that an American congressman would threaten their holiest site they should be warned that even one nuclear detonation will mean the election of a 100 Tancredos. And if they did not deal with Wilsonian America they can deal with Jacksonian America.
Of course, I don't want to see anyplace nuked. That is why I was in favor of the invasion. And if we don't want to see Mecca bombed we better warn the Muslim world. As Rod Dreher said, "It occurs to me that it is insane that we're even having this conversation. It occurs to me that given the events of 9/11, and the determination and capabilities of our enemies, it is even more insane not to. God help us all." (HT: From the word go)
John O adds:
In a post entitled The Three Conjectures, Wretchard's second conjecture postulates that attaining WMDs will destroy Islam:
Because capability is the sole variable of interest in the war against terrorism, the greater the Islamic strike capability becomes, the stronger the response will be. An unrepeatable attack with a stolen WMD weapon would elicit a different response from one arising from a capability to strike on a sustained and repetitive basis. The riposte to an unrepeatable attack would be limited. However, suppose Pakistan or North Korea engineered a reliable plutonium weapon that could be built to one-point safety in any machine shop with a minimum of skill, giving Islamic terrorists the means to repeatedly attack America indefinitely. Under these circumstances, there would no incentive to retaliate proportionately. The WMD exchange would escalate uncontrollably until Islam was destroyed.Steven Den Beste clarifies Wretchard use of 'Islam' before disagreeing somewhat with the second conjecture:
-------------The so-called strengths of Islamic terrorism: fanatical intent; lack of a centralized leadership; absence of a final authority and cellular structure guarantee uncontrollable escalation once the nuclear threshold is crossed. Therefore the 'rational' American response to the initiation of terrorist WMD attack would be all out retaliation from the outset.
Wretchard uses the term "Islam" during this part of his analysis to refer to the extremists; he's referring to the Jihadis, and possibly to hostile regimes which covertly support them. But his point in using "Islam" for this is to make clear that he thinks most of the world's Muslims run the risks he's describing, even if they're not militant. I agree that the majority of them are.Wretchard's response is here.
-------------In the aftermath of a nuclear attack against the US, the US would issue the following directives:
1. All nations we do not fully trust which have nuclear weapons, or programs to develop them, will cease all development immediately, and will turn over to us all completed weapons and all fissionables and all other equipment and material used in those programs by a certain deadline, a small number of weeks.
2. All nations will fully cooperate with us in finding the attackers and all other militant groups we consider dangerous to us. All nations will immediately and totally cease providing any kind of support to such groups. All nations will immediately and vigorously work to prevent their citizens from providing any kind of support.
3. All nations will fully answer any significant questions we ask.
4. Any nation whose cooperation is not considered adequate will be assumed to be an enemy, and may be the target of a saturation nuclear strike at a time of our choosing, without any warning. There will be no negotiations, no second chances, no obfuscation, no delay, no deception. Nothing less that full and unstinting and rapid cooperation will be considered acceptable.
Chemical weapons, in at least small quantities, can be created by any competent chemist with the right precursor chemicals, which are broadly available. But nuclear and biological weapons development requires the wherewithal of a government, and the US would make sure that no terrorist group would be able to acquire such weapons by making sure that none were possessed by any government we did not fully trust or fully believed we could deter.
Would we actually obliterate the first nation which didn't fully cooperate? I don't think so; I think that we'd fire one warning shot, by setting off a nuke in their territory, close enough to a major city so it could be seen and felt and heard but far enough away to not destroy it. That might require one or more small towns to be destroyed, but we wouldn't target a major city or metropolitan area the first time.
But that would only happen one time, not once per nation. If anyone after that didn't get the message, I think we would do it, because we would have to.
Grim reading, perhaps, but I think they're right.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Like NASA, Shuttle Fleet Is Old, Obsolete
In comments posted last week, Steven Den Beste (scroll to 20050713) had this to say about Discovery's impending launch:
I noticed in the news that NASA is on the final runup to the first shuttle launch since Columbia was destroyed. Some space fans are eager about this, I suspect. Myself, my reaction to it was, give it up already. The Shuttle is 35 year old technology, and all the remaining orbiters are at or near end-of-operational-life. Old equipment has a higher rate of operational failure; that's a fact of life. Trying to maintain them and keep them flying at this point is increasingly risky, and there's really nothing that the shuttle makes possible that I think is worth the risk of 7 good crew, even if they themselves are willing to take the chance. We need a new system, and development on it should have started ten years ago, if not fifteen. To try to keep the remnants of the shuttle fleet flying at this point is money down a rat hole, and it's going to cost more lives before they finally give up. Are we going to keep flying them until all five of them are destroyed due to operational failure?I couldn't agree more.
By the way, I think the International Space Station was a crummy idea, too, and I think it should be scrapped. There's nothing being done there that can't be done cheaper, easier and safer using robotic orbiters. I find no romance in the idea of "humans in space"; I'm a practical man, and believe we should use machines when they're a better choice, and men only when machines can't do the job. (Which is why I have long thought that making plans for a manned mission to Mars at this point is utter stupidity.)
NASA is perhaps the most obnoxious major federal agency. It is a bloated bureacuracy with an expensive, obsolete, politically oriented infrastructure - the ultimate pork-barrel project. One way or another, it is constantly whining and pleading for more money, going so far as to occasionally produce blatent propaganda to aid its cause. Indeed, it has its own 24-hour propaganda channel.
From its inception, the whole shuttle program has been a colossal waste of money:
The shuttle's real problems stem from the system that produced it and managed it from day one. In Lyndon Johnson's eyes, NASA was primarily the Marshall Plan for the Confederacy. The shuttle was a political creature from the beginning, and the complex set of compromises and tradeoffs needed to bring it into being assured that it would forever be too expensive to fly often enough, or build enough of, to get the proper experience base to really understand reusable space flight. The total number of takeoff-landing cycles flown by the shuttle fleet even now is smaller than that typically flown by a new airliner prototype. In some ways, we still cannot say that anything that has happened with the shuttle fleet is statistically significant.The remaining shuttle fleet belongs at the National Air and Space Museum. The entire shuttle infrastructure should be absorbed into the military or turned over to the private sector, the sooner the better. Too bad if NASA loses its best salesmen, the astronauts. Other than for milirary purposes, our government shouldn't be sending men routinely into space anymore. The private sector has that capability now, and we should develop it to the fullest extent possible, with government aid if necessary:
NASA's problem hasn't been too much vision, even for near-earth activities, but much too little. But it's a job not just for NASA--to create that infrastructure, we will have to set new policies in place that harness private enterprise, just as we did with the railroads in the 19th Century. That is the policy challenge that will come out of the latest setback--to begin to tame the harsh wilderness only two hundred miles above our heads.Robots are perfectly capable of handling most exploration and experimentation in space anyway. With budgets equal to a single shuttle launch, NASA should be devising and launching more missions like Cassini, the Mars Rover, ect. and little else. But first and foremost, it should be put out of both the shuttle launching and self-promotion businesses all together.
Instant Replay Comes to College Football
Unfortunately, instant replay is coming to Division I-A college football this season in 9 of the 11 major conferences. (Via The Sports Economist.)
As an avid football fan, I have plenty of experience watching games which feature instant replay. The NFL has had it for the better part of 20 years and the Big Ten implimented it just last year. To say I dislike it is an understatement.
When a controversial call is made in games featuring replay, players and coaches sometimes just stand around watching the stadium video board or waiting for officials to stop the game. Until the next play starts, viewers are left wondering if what just happened actually counted. Even after the next snap, doubt lingers. Replay not only disrupts the orderly flow of the game, it too often destroys one team's momentum at a crucial point. This is especially true during the last 2 minutes of a half, when utterly irrelevant reviews initiated by replay officials cause needless delays.
The replay regime used by the NFL, which plays too big a role in game-day strategy, and that used by the Big Ten, both seem as if they were designed primarily to repel or minimize bad publicity. The Big Ten acknowledges as much:
But in an era with so many games televised-The Big Ten Conference has had 90 percent or more of its intraconference games televised each of the last five seasons-and with mistakes and missed calls put under the microscope and scrutinized and replayed multiple times, there is now more incentive than ever to get the call right. If a television replay shows indisputable evidence that an official's call (or non-call) was in error, then there should be a mechanism in place to immediately correct the error.The problem is that neither system examines every officiating call (or non call) and nothing is actually corrected immediately, as both are practally impossible. In fact immediacy - the most appealing quality (for me, anyway) of live sports - is greatly diminished, if not quite destroyed, by the mere existence of replay.
Replay has proven beneficial in that it has shown that mistakes and missed calls by both college and professional officials are remarkably rare. Though replay can and does correct the odd mistake, no system is ever perfect since compromises must be made. As far as I'm concerned, the general intrusiveness of replay compromises too many other important aspects of the game. It simply isn't worth the cost.
Alas, I know I'm in the minority. Replay is exceedingly popular and thus here to stay. If it has to exist, it should only be initiated by designated officials located in a properly equipped replay booth who have 45 seconds to reslove the matter. This would keep its impact on play and stragegy to a minimum.
The Sport Economist and College Football Resource weigh in.
War & Law
London Mayor Ken Livingstone knows who to blame in the shooting death of a Brazilian by the London police:
"The police acted to do what they believed necessary to protect the lives of the public.Via Captain Ed, who (correctly) labels the incident collateral damage:
"This tragedy has added another victim to the toll of deaths for which the terrorists bear responsibility."
Many people will take this time to second-guess the London police and British special services. They will note the tragic consequences of a shoot-first policy that killed an apparently innocent man just trying to get to work, although one would expect that an innocent man would have stopped when commanded to do so instead of running for the nearest subway car. The police themselves will now second-guess themselves when it comes to making split-second decisions that could mean death in either direction.In a post written last month entitled The Laws of War, Wretchard noted:
---------------------This is why civilized nations saw the need to agree on conditions for war as an exchange for proper treatment of the combatants. It protects the combatants -- but more so, it protects the non-combatants. Al-Qaeda hides its operatives among non-combatants to not only avoid their own capture but also to maximize collateral damage in our response. Encouraging this by granting their terrorist minions GC protections only guarantees more of the tragedy that took Menezes' life.
Much of the historical impact of humanitarian law stemmed directly from the ability to gather and apply intelligence to discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. The devices of open cities, clearly marked ambulances, zones of safe passage, armbands for humanitarian personnel, etc are usages whose practical utility has expired under the deceptions of terrorist warfare, but their intent -- that of marking the limits of licit violence -- is sound. It is a distinction which can be based only on intellgence. Without that, humanitarian law is form without function on the modern terrorist battlefield, 'a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing'.It is all but certain that the recent terror events in London will be replicated here. The dilemmas faced by British authorities and London police in particular and by British socity in general portend the future. Wretchard's observation about humanitarian law may some day be aplicable to our own domestic law. Detractors of the Bush administration and critics of the Patriot Act should take notice.
A good laugh from Wired.com
The industry group revoked the game's M rating, which labeled it appropriate for players 17 or older, and re-filed it under AO for "adults only" -- raising the minimum age to 18, the year at which a delicate teen becomes less susceptible to the harmful influence of computer-generated cartoon sex.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Time for a summer road trip. Feel free to follow along, just click here.
Bookworm has a new contributor: Don Quixote
Friday, July 22, 2005
Summer Homes/Sharing Costs
Here is the idea. We buy 5 to 10 acres in Indiana or Michigan. We divide it into lots depending on how many people are in on the plan. Minimum of 3 and we can discuss a maximum if that ever became an issue. We would pool (pun intended) our money for a pool and pool house. At the house I used to own in Harbert, MI. it cost $20,000 to build the pool and small pool house which was set up to have a kitchen, toilet and shower. The cost included moving a lot of land and some very nice landscaping and a fence. I think if we could come up with $60,000 we could have a much nicer pool house and a jacuzzi.
We would incorporate this common area like a condo association so that if one of the houses were sold the new owner would have to contribute to maintenance. Everyone would be free to build whatever kind of house they liked. I would say that we could allow more houses to be built depending on the amount of land that we purchased. Given that these are summer homes and we are sharing the cost of the "entertainment area", for lack of a better name, we can get away with homes that are fairly Spartan. But that would be up to each person. I think it would be a good idea to treat landscaping as part of the common area. Home maintenance would be up to the individual owner.
Here is where I let my imagination run wild. Given increased buying power we could build a common "party house". A place with a poker room/bar, large living room with big screen TV, a kids room for toys and games, sauna for the winter months where we could beat each other with birch branches and drink vodka. (Trust me, this is a lot of fun) What about a tennis court/basketball court? Horseshoes? We could even share babysitting services. You get the idea. We are limited only by our common desires for entertainment. We could have a fabulous place to play and relax which would be out of our individual reaches but is possible if we join together.
Let me know what you think.
Oh yeah, I can't believe I forgot this one. Kegerator!
I know I am getting ahead of myself but I found a website offering prefabricated homes at good prices. I got a chuckle out of the line under build skill level: 'what's a hammer.' That would be me.
And another thing I forgot, Paintball!
Things that need to be discussed first:
1) What kind of organizational structure would be best. I assumed a condo association but we will need to talk to a lawyer. Limiting liability is important.
2) Where we want to look for property. Let's take lakefront off the list from the get-go.
3) What type of beer to keep in the kegerator.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Breed Ban in Denver
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
I set my Tivo to record Scarborough Country last week so I was a little surprised to see that it had recorded the Abrams Report over the weekend. I decided to watch it. (Long story short is that I had nothing better to watch and the satellite was out. We have had almost daily thunder storms in Moscow for at least a week) I got the distinct impression that Dan really did not want to be there. In fact, he was so laid back it was actually fun to watch. I have a feeling that he knows something and looky what I found.
MSNBC President Rick Kaplan has summarily removed Dan Abrams' poster-size portrait from the lobby of the cable outlet's headquarters in Secaucus - and replaced it with Rita Cosby's.
Yesterday, Abrams tried to laugh it off, but otherwise declined to comment. "It's not in the lobby? I never really liked it anyway," he quipped.
An NBC News type gasped: "Dan's picture has been taken down? You're kidding!"
An MSNBC insider, meanwhile, told me: "People have been confused for weeks, watching Rick's growing vendetta against Dan."
DO NOT read the whole thing. Your mind will turn to mush from the inanity of the subject matter.
In a Brain Droppings exclusive we have a photo (or a photoshop) of the Abrams Report poster. Is he gone? You decide, I make up fake photos. I will say this, watching Dan Abrams for the next week while he is still on the air should be very entertaining.
The current system allows politicians to determine legislative and Congressional boundaries--which essentially means lawmakers can choose their voters, not vice versa. And it's a system that has resulted in a political class that answers first and foremost to its special interest patrons. This single ballot measure would go a very long way toward injecting competition into a political process in which incumbents currently hold office as long as they like.
Even with term limits, it seems that the state legislators have very little chance of being unelected. I think this is the type of good government proposal that should gain the support of those that think our elected officials are too easily protected from the wrath of the voter. As a consequence they have no incentive to control the size of government. Although this initiative is not targetted at a poltical party there is no doubt that Democrats will suffer more. As I have said before, now that the Republicans control congress we should push for good gov't initiatives like term limits and the line item veto even if this might cost Republicans power in the future. The potential benefits in smaller government is worth the risk.
Florida liberals are in favor of controlling gerrymandering. Of course, for their own reasons. Are Republicans willing to stand on principle when it will cost them power?
From the CaliforniaConservative, this editorial with commentary.
Americanos has a summary of an article in Newsmax by Dick Morris on Arnold's plans for California. Looks good, why can't they offer this for free. Waaaaaa! I think Morris offers some of the best political commentary going. And he just looks like a political operator.
Roseville (CA) Conservative has articles relating to the initiative.
Friday, July 15, 2005
However, if the Chinese want their world empire, their day in the sun running the planet, I say – let em have it. Gaffney may not know or care, but empires are expensive, and I'm really tired of paying for my share of America's. Empires rust and crumble, as all things made by the hands of men eventually do. Power and money are very finite. China's world empire will not last any longer than anyone else's.
Yes, the benevolent Chinese who would not hurt the fly. Let's let them govern world commerce for a hundred years or so. Let them police the world's waterways. Let them be the stiff spine holding Europe together against enemies abroad and within. There is one problem with this proposal, the Chinese apparently have no problem threatening nuclear war if the U.S. decides to protect Taiwan against Chinese invasion.
China is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the US if it is attacked by Washington during a confrontation over Taiwan, a Chinese general said on Thursday.
“If the Americans draw their missiles and position-guided ammunition on to the target zone on China's territory, I think we will have to respond with nuclear weapons,” said General Zhu Chenghu.
And one other thing, Chinese territory includes their planes and ships. IOW, they are willing to go nuclear first.
I am guessing that Charles Featherstone has not spent a lot of time in China. If he thinks keeping the American 'empire' is expensive he should think about how expensive a fascist China running rout over the pacific will be let alone a Japanese vs. Chinese war. Libertarians need to realize that national security stretchs beyond our borders. Afterall, those Chinese ICBM's do.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Fifteen Years and Four Wars
The First Iraqi War ("The Gulf War," "Persian Gulf War," "Gulf War I," "The Four-Day War," or "Iraqi-Kuwaiti War") started over Saddam Hussein's August 2, 1990, invasion of Kuwait.
A rather different 13-year Second Iraqi War followed. Despite its length, the nebulous effort was not a mere "cold war."
The Third Iraqi War — variously known as "Gulf War II" or "The Three-Week War" — was a conventional conflict. It began with the bombing of Baghdad and ended with the toppling of Saddam's statue
The Fourth Iraqi War ("The Insurrection," "The Occupation") began immediately after the end of the conventional fighting and continues today.
Just as there was no third war with Germany or second war with Vietnam, there will probably be no fifth war with Iraq. We have finally learned our lesson: Victory or defeat and a change of circumstances — not breathing spells with dictators, U.N. resolutions, realpolitik truces, no-fly zones, or cruise missiles — finally end most wars.
But at least this final war in its ambitious goal to end the cycle is honest, and so will be decisive in the way the other three were not. If War IV is now the costliest for the U.S. and the most controversial of the series, it is because it is for all the marbles and offers a lasting and humane solution — and every enemy of the United States in the Middle East seems to grasp that far better than we do.
Friday, July 08, 2005
No John O posts...
I will be on a road trip from Chicago to New Mexico during the next two weeks or so. I won't be posting again until July 25.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
According to this doctrine, America had been responsible for numerous crimes and misdeeds through its history for which it deserved punishment and chastisement. White Americans had enslaved blacks and committed genocide against Native Americans. They had oppressed women and tyrannized minority groups, such as the Japanese who had been interned in camps during World War II. They had been harsh and unfeeling toward the poor. By our greed, we had despoiled the environment and were consuming a disproportionate share of the world's wealth and resources. We had coddled dictators abroad and violated human rights out of our irrational fear of communism.
Given this bill of indictment, the Punitive Liberals held that Americans had no right at all to feel pride in their country's history or optimism about its future.
--------------------Naturally, it was somewhat difficult to advance the tenets of Punitive Liberalism in the public arena, and especially tricky to do so in electoral contests. The broader public, after all, is unlikely to take kindly to the idea that it needs to be punished for the sins of past generations. For this reason, Vice President Mondale, an experienced politician, felt that Jimmy Carter had made a serious mistake in calling the American people to task for their "malaise," since it is counter-productive for an elected politician to attack the voters. The Punitive Liberals thus chose instead to advance their causes in the regulatory bodies and in the federal courts--the latter being the perfect arena for leveling blame and exacting punishment. And they did so with considerable success.
Tuesday, July 05, 2005
Mark Steyn on Live8
Mark Steyn skewers Live8's aid message, saying that what rocks is capitalism:
Once upon a time, rock stars weren't rated by Moody, they were moody - they self-destructed, they choked to death in their own vomit, they hoped to die before they got old. Instead, judging from Sir Pete Townshend on Saturday, they got older than anyone's ever been. Today, Paul McCartney is a businessman: he owns the publishing rights to Annie and Guys & Dolls. These faux revolutionaries are capitalists red in tooth and claw.Real Clear Politics (second item) elaborates on one of Steyn's points, charting the net worth of Live8's biggest names and noting how much financial aid they could be providing to Africa on their own.
The system that enriched them could enrich Africa. But capitalism's the one cause the poseurs never speak up for. The rockers demand we give our fokkin' money to African dictators to manage, while they give their fokkin' money to Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts to manage. Which of those models makes more sense?
Bill C adds:
Most obscure request of the day came from Madonna, who said she would drink only Kabbalah water - which she credits with getting rid of her husband GUY RITCHIE'S verrucas. She still clearly has her finger on the pulse however, and grabbed comic RICKY GERVAIS to beg for a role in his new show.
Minutes after her powerful performance, she was practically dragged out of the backstage area by her husband who had a more than firm hold on her hand. But she made sure the other hand was free to pick up her A-list goodie bag, said to be worth £7,000, including jewellery and computer equipment. (Emphasis added)
A goodie bag worth over $12,000? How far would that money go to help Africans? Why do these stars need these perks? I can't imagine they would not show up without them. How about putting them up for auction with the proceeds going to benefit Live8. Also, tell Madonna she can drink tap water.
China Tells Congress To Butt Out
Yesterday, the Chinese government demanded that Congress not interfere with CNOOC's takeover bid for Unocal:
The Chinese government on Monday sharply criticized the United States for threatening to erect barriers aimed at preventing the attempted takeover of the American oil company Unocal Corp. by one of China's three largest energy firms, CNOOC Ltd.Contrary to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, it isn't normal for foreign, government controlled enterprises (CNOOC is 70% government owned) to purchase important US companies. Moreover, it is unprecedented for a Communist government to attempt to do such a thing while attempting to apply political pressure to our government in the process.
Four days after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the Bush administration to block the proposed transaction as a threat to national security, China's Foreign Ministry excoriated Congress for injecting politics into what it characterized as a standard business matter.
'We demand that the U.S. Congress correct its mistaken ways of politicizing economic and trade issues and stop interfering in the normal commercial exchanges between enterprises of the two countries,' the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. 'CNOOC's bid to take over the U.S. Unocal company is a normal commercial activity between enterprises and should not fall victim to political interference. The development of economic and trade cooperation between China and the United States conforms to the interests of both sides.'
In this particular case, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement alone should be reason enough for the US to immediately reject CNOOC's bid for Unocal. But US policy should be to formally oppose any attempt by the Chinese Communist government to purchase any American company. Or any foreign company, for that matter. It simply isn't in the interests of the US to allow the emerging fascist regime in Beijing to purchase strategic energy assets, militarily useful technology or greater economic clout than its huge, rapidly growing economy already gives it.
Friday, July 01, 2005
More UN Fecklessness
There are no suggestions by the Secretary General that the weapons carried the current Brazilian force are inoperative. So far as anyone can tell, their ordnance works just fine. So logically, what Kofi Annan really wants is someone, like the Americans, to relieve him of the onus of ordering someone to pull the trigger, though perhaps he hopes that the American reputation for 'scariness' will make that unnecessary.What a coward. Wretchard concludes:
Unable to deliver not because the peacekeeper's weapons are malfunctioning but because no one wants to take responsibility for using them. If America has any utility at all to transnational liberals it is as a garbage collector and checkwriter for all the dreams it peddles.As usual, the UN has only as much credibility as the US (or, in matters directly involving US security interests, its sympathizers in the Democratic Party and the media) gives it. It is worse than useless.