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August 30, 2003

Earth's Most Valuable Resource

Mark Steyn identifies it in a wonderful Labour Day column, having his way with the modern left-labor movement at the same time:

But to this future of vast, unstoppable, ever-expanding wealth, the champions of the oppressed have come up with an ingenious solution: global poverty! It’s the answer to all our woes. We need a massive Poverty Expansion Program if we're to save the planet. "I don't think a lot of electricity is a good thing," says Gar Smith of San Francisco's Earth Island Institute. "I have seen villages in Africa that had vibrant culture and great communities that were disrupted and destroyed by the introduction of electricity," he continues, globally warming to his theme and regretting that African peasants "who used to spend their days and evenings in the streets playing music on their own instruments and sewing clothing for their neighbours on foot-pedal powered sewing machines" are now slumped in front of "Dynasty" reruns all day long.

Oh, the humanity!

Posted by David Mader at 09:15 PM | (1) | Back to Main

August 25, 2003


Rwanda is holding its first presidential election since the 1994 genocide that killed half a million people.

But the election, New Zealand News reports, is something of a sham:

Diplomats, human-rights workers and analysts say the election is a thinly disguised sham, heavily tilted in his favour. Only one image appears on the dusty streets of the capital, Kigali, that of Kagame.

The main Hutu opposition party, the MDR, has been banned; its senior officials have been harassed, locked up or have "disappeared".

"It is not an exercise in democracy by the standards of anywhere in the world," said Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch.

A campaign of vilification has been launched against Faustin Twagiramungu, the Hutu who is Kagame's only serious opponent. The former Prime Minister, who once served under Kagame, has been tarred as an ethnic "divisionist" and a "Nazi", and been reduced to a quasi-underground election campaign.

The charges suggest the Government is manipulating fear to stay in power, said Des Forges.

The heavy-handed tactics puzzle many observers because Kagame seemed destined to retain the presidency anyway.

Of course such a repressive state of affairs is a tremendous improvement from genocide, but the lowered bar of Rwandan internal affairs shouldn't lead to a complacency in the campaign for democractization. A sham election just isn't good enough.

Posted by David Mader at 01:49 PM | (0) | Back to Main


I'm back in Montreal now, but internet service hasn't been reconnected at the apartment. I'm blogging from (shhh!) the library. Regular blogging will resume shortly, though I'm back to O-town later in the week.

Posted by David Mader at 09:41 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 22, 2003

Free to Choose

It's something of a law of market economics that truly free trade always and necessarily benefits both parties. But the constant counter-argument (if 'argument' it can be called) presented by anti-globalization 'activists' in the West would make you think that support for free trade is a minority opinion around the world.

It's not.

The Pew Center for the People and the Press surveyed 38,000 people in 44 nations, with excellent coverage of the developing world in all regions. In general, there is a positive view of growing economic integration worldwide. But what was striking in the survey is that views of globalization are distinctly more positive in low-income countries than in rich ones.

While most people worldwide viewed growing global trade and business ties as good for their country, only 28% of people in the U.S. and Western Europe thought that such integration was "very good." In Vietnam and Uganda, in contrast, the figures for "very good" stood at 56% and 64%, respectively. Although these countries were particularly pro-globalization, developing Asia (37%) and Sub-Saharan Africa (56%) were far more likely to find integration "very good," than industrialized countries. Conversely, a significant minority (27% of households) in rich countries thought that "globalization has a bad effect on my country," compared to negligible numbers of households with that view in developing Asia (9%) or Sub-Saharan Africa (10%).

In fact, this shouldn't be surprising at all: the poor have never been able to afford socialism, as they're too busy working and wanting to get rich; moreover, trade barriers erected by wealthy countries serve primarily to beggar developing countries by robbing them of the markets and resources they need to grow.

I recommend reading the whole article primarily for the numbers involved. Just as I'm wary of small-sample surveys, so am I wary of 'macro' global surveys such as this, but the Pew seems to be the market leader in this kind of research. Of course the results say nothing about the actual impact of globalization, only the opinions of globalization, and therefore could be understood not as economic but sociological data. Nonetheless they represent an instructive rejoinder to those who campaign against free trade in the name of the world's poor. Without this self-assigned and sanctimonious cover, these activists expose the true basis of their position: a self-interest to rival any Wall Street tycoon, coupled with a belief in the fundamental ignorance of the poor in whose name they claim to speak.

[Via Tyler Cowen]

Posted by David Mader at 12:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 21, 2003

Market Means, But To What End?

Josh Chafetz has a great post on price discrimination in response to the suggestion that charging City tube-users a premium amounts to socialism.

Chafetz is right on the money about the laissez-faire appropriateness of price-discrimination, but he provides the very caveat that lends credence to the 'socialism' charge:

Now, London isn't trying to make a profit, but by charging the wealthy riders more than the poorer ones, it allows the city to subsidize the rides of its working class residents, which seems like a perfectly acceptable idea, and no more socialist than the fact that many US cities subsidize their public transportation out of tax revenue.

Chafetz' assesment of the market-appropriateness of price discrimination is, again, spot-on, but I think it's legitimate to question the appropriateness of a government engaging in the same process for the express purpose of cross-class subsidization. Though it may be "no more socialist" than the subsidization of American public transit from tax revenue, it certainly is no less so; and the comparison - defining the socialism of the practice in relative terms - says nothing about the absolute socialism of the practice.

Simply put, then, if a government charges wealthier citizens a premium for the express purpose of subsidizing the less wealthy, such a practice - regardless of the method of collection - exhibits socialist tendencies. Such soft- or market-socialism may be fairly common in modern English democracies, but that doesn't make it any less socialist.

Posted by David Mader at 04:35 PM | (6) | Back to Main

Killing Jews Not Murder: AP

At least that appears to be the meaning of this headline: Hamas Abandons Truce After Israeli Strike.

Apparently admitting responsibility for a bus-bombing which killed nineteen people didn't represent a 'formal' abandonment of the hudna.

Posted by David Mader at 03:34 PM | (1) | Back to Main


No, not California. Venezuela:

Opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have presented electoral officials with at least three million signatures - enough to call for a referendum on his controversial rule.

Members of the opposition delivered the petition early Wednesday in Caracas to avoid clashes with supporters of the populist leader. Later, tens of thousands of flag-waving Venezuelans took to the streets in support of the referendum initiative.

President Chavez has repeatedly said many of the signatures are worthless and that his government will challenge the petition. The opposition needs the signatures of 20 percent of Venezuela's almost 12 million registered voters to request the binding referendum.

It's almost funny how much Chavez sounds like Davis. Or vice versa. Devil's Excrement has an account of the petition rally, with pictures.

Posted by David Mader at 03:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Shoulder to Shoulder

UPI's Martin Walker has an excellent column on the consequences of the Baghdad bombing:

The Anglo-Americans have no choice; they own the war, and they own the aftermath. They have an obligation to their original decision to take military action, to their dead troops, and to their wider strategic goal of implanting a stable and prosperous democracy in the heart of the Arab world. They must stay the course -- whatever the exigencies of the U.S. election timetable.

The United Nations is different. Not only does the United Nations as an institution have a choice -- whether to scuttle or to remain half in bed with the Anglo-Americans and increasingly responsible for the stabilization of Iraq - it also has a decision-making process that puts an onus of choice on France, Russia and China as veto-wielding powers. They agreed that the U.N. staff should return to Baghdad, and to that extent they share in the responsibility to respond to their slaughter.

The issue is plain enough. Do these three great powers, and through them the United Nations as a whole, recognize that the suicide bombers of Baghdad who killed the U.N. staff are now the common enemy of humanity, and join to hunt them down? Or do they take refuge in their earlier pedantries, backing Resolution 1441 to require Saddam to carry out his various obligations, but ducking the military resolve to enforce it?


As an aside, the UPI's decision to restrict access to its online content, while undoubtedly a smart business decision, was quite disappointing - because I had found, and continue to find, their news and analysis interesting, accurate and engaging in a manner unmatched by any other big-media institution.

Posted by David Mader at 12:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Face It

Michael Ledeen says that the UN bombing should finally make clear to skeptics that we are, indeed, at war:

It would be nice to settle things at the negotiating table, and we are inclined to talk and talk, and walk last mile after last mile, to avoid the unpleasant reality that we are indeed at war.

Perhaps the bombing of the UN offices will clarify things, and spur the feckless critics of the war against terrorism to join us. The terror masters do not think that will happen. They expect that the flow of body bags will stimulate world public opinion to demand an end to the "occupation" of Iraq -- which would transform Iraq and Afghanistan from humiliating defeats for the Islamists into glorious triumphs over the West.

The terror masters would then have demonstrated one of their central theses: that the crusaders and infidels of the West have no stomach for real fighting, and lack the tenacity and determination to prevail in this war.

That's why, as I've said, the withdrawal of UN personnel from Iraq would be a terrible capitulation.

Posted by David Mader at 11:06 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 20, 2003


The country is a mess, as a new report reminds us.

The effort to return aristide to power by force of American arms came to be seen as one of the first great 'humanitarian' efforts of the post-Soviet order. The Clintonian doctrine of "Democratic Enlargement" was designed to fit many of the parameters of liberal-internationalist intervention, including the tell-tale aversion to 'self-interest'. As a result, few have taken much notice as the country slid back into disorder. And because Haiti poses no security threat, there is no compelling strategic reason for the United States to make the restoration of order and democracy a priority. That's terribly unfortunate.

Haiti needs intervention, of some sort. The job offers little - except hope and freedom for Haitians. If the US is incapable, and the European powers unwilling, who can step into the breach? Ideally there would be a multilateral organization dedicated to the spread of human rights and democratic government which would oversee the development of institutions and the introduction of regular elections. In the absence of such an organization, though, there's the UN; and if Annan's crowd is unwilling to do the heavy lifting, perhaps they might think about addressing the situation in Haiti full-on.

Posted by David Mader at 11:59 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Chin Up

The Telegraph's John Keegan says that while more troops are likely needed on the ground, Iraq is not, and will not become, another Vietnam. We would all do well to take his conclusion to heart:

The anti-war element in the Western media will be doing a service to no one, least of all the Iraqi people, if they allow their pleasure at the spectacle of post-war disturbance to undermine the coalition's efforts to establish a lasting peace.

Posted by David Mader at 11:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

UN to Cut, Run

For all its magnanimous talk about the reconstruction of Iraq, and the centrality and importance of, well, itself, it turns out the UN's resolve can be shattered with a single truck bomb:

The United Nations will evacuate all its foreign staff members in Baghdad to Jordan, Qatar-based al-Jazeera TV channel reported on Wednesday.

The decision came after the United Nations suffered its first heavy blow in Iraq when a deadly truck bombing at its headquarters in Baghdad killed at least 17 people, including top UN envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello...

Observers presumed that the United Nations will suspend all its humanitarian activities in the war-torn country, such as the arrangement of repatriation of Iraqi refugees.

The UN may feel that such a move is necessary for the safety of its employees, but the US must nonetheless send a very clear message to Kofi Annan and every internationalist who continues to carp on about American unilateralism: if the UN walks out on Iraq, it walks out on any claim it might have, present or future, on the shaping of the war on terror and the post-war reconstruction. The UN's decision to remove to Jordan suggests one of two phenomena: either the multilateralists failed to anticipate or comprehend the risk and cost of involvement in the struggle against Islamist tyranny, or they do not believe that such a struggle is worth pursuing.

Either of these positions is a fatal flaw in a coalition partner. While the reconstruction would be difficult - indeed, likely impossible, in a proper sense - without UN and similar involvement, it simply cannot go forward as long as these organizations fail to face up to the risks which a dedication to freedom must entail. Until they do, they only undermine the war effort. So: if the UN walks out, it must never come back.

Posted by David Mader at 11:27 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Eugene Volokh has an interesting post on the idea of a jury of one's peers. The conclusion:

In America, we're all commoners, so a "jury of one's peers" is simply a jury of fellow citizens who live in the area... When people say today that we're entitled to trial by a "jury of one's peers," they generally mean (if they're speaking correctly) that we're tried by fellow citizens, and not by government-employed judges.

Another instance of the impact of historical awareness on proper legal interpretation.

Posted by David Mader at 11:13 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Blame America First

That's been the reaction of many to yesterday's Baghdad bombing. As if reading off Baathist cue-cards, talking heads on the CBC and elsewhere have suggested that the bombing shows the Americans not to be in control of the situation, to be increasingly isolated on the ground, to be entering another Afghanistan, or Chechnya, or even, indeed, a Vietnam. The success of the terrorist attack clearly showed that the Americans can't even supply the basic security services necessary for reconstruction.

If only it were true.

But the truth, alas, is buried twenty-nine paragraphs down in this front-page National Post story:

Recognizing the danger of car bombs, U.S. troops recently began erecting more barriers around potentially ''softer'' nonmilitary targets.

But United Nations officials in Iraq decided on a lower level of security to provide a more welcoming image to Iraqis, American military officials said.

"We don't like to work behind barbed wires, tanks and machine guns," said Salim Lone, a UN spokesman in Baghdad. "So if anyone tried to attack us, they can do it easily."

But I suppose 'UN in Mourning' makes a better headline than 'UN Chooses Lax Security; Iraq Envoy Pays Ultimate Price'. Not that the UN is to blame for making that choice; it is in many ways similar to the British decision to have soldiers remove their helmets whenever possible to provide a less confrontational facade. But such a decision necessarily involves risks - indeed, the risks are the point - and fingers oughtn't be falsely pointed if those risks turn sour.

On the subject of the bombing, a good number of people have wondered why the terrorists - be they Baathists or al-Qaida types or both - would target an aid-giving and humanitarian organization. Instapundit relays an argument by Ralph Peters that the attack on soft targets like the UN and oil infrastructure represents the growing weakness and exasperation of Baathist elements who see the reconstruction moving along much more swiftly than they'd expected even as their capacity to harm coalition military assets diminishes by the day. Taken together with David Warren's 'flypaper' assessment as well as the recent kiling of Uday & Qusay, this suggestion is more than enough to explain the current - and anticipated - spike in Iraqi terrorist activity.

But one can't help but wonder whether the Vietnam analogy finally might be appropriate - for the anti-war crowd. The wholly-predictable response has been to warn of growing anti-American activity (in Iraq), of a diminishing security regime and (subtextually) of the ultimate futility of occupying Iraq. Given the above-noted arguments, this line of thought can largely be dismissed as nonesense; given the earlier charge from similar quarters that the US would cut-and-run, it can also be dismissed as hypocricy. But though we might dismiss it, it remains, and it's tempting to wonder whether that too might not have been the aim of the attack. Insurgent elements in Iraq make no secret of their desire to drive the Americans out, and even at times making an explicit reference to Vietnam. They know full well that such a goal can not be achieved on the battle-field; but they believe it can be achieved through the manipulation of American opinion. Indeed, the use of terrorist activities to promote capitulation in anticipation of a final destruction of the west lies at the heart of the terrorist strategy.

Though Baathist/al-Qaida terrorists intitiated the UN bombing, then, the useful idiots of Islamism may do the most lasting damage.

Posted by David Mader at 09:06 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 19, 2003

They Cry 'Peace, Peace'

Fifteen killed in a suicide attack on a Jerusalem bus.

Posted by David Mader at 03:38 PM | (0) | Back to Main


FARC terrorists have failed in an attempt to assassinate the President of Colombia.

Posted by David Mader at 01:39 PM | (6) | Back to Main

F Dizzle Rizzle

David Bernstein poses one of the enduring questions of modern American history: Why was FDR so popular?

Bernstein's treatment focuses on Roosevelt's economic policies, and specifically on whether the New Deals can really be credited with causing economic recovery. (The economic-historical concensus: no.)

But Matthew Yglesias makes an exceedingly important point, albeit in somewhat ungracious terms. The point, he says, is not whether the New Deal caused economic recovery; the point is whether Americans thought it did. And, by in large, they did.

The sentiment was not universal, of course, and FDR was, during his tenure, subject to considerable political pressure from both the left and the right - Huey Long and Father Coughlin being prime examples of each. But his continued electoral success - despite the setback in 1938, result of the court-packing fiasco and the failed purge of southern Democrats, and regardless of the 'crisis' advantage he brought to the 1940 election - illustrates his considerable contemporary popularity.

Yglesias speaks of the 'perception' of progress, which I think hints at FDR's true strength in the eyes of the public. Roosevelt brought to office a sense of action, a willingness to try anything, and to do anything, in order to revive the nation. This depended on a personal quality that's hard to define - call it supreme confidence, or even hubris - that allowed FDR to convince himself, and subsequently to convince others, of the rightness of a string of audacious measures. These included closing the banks in March, 1933; introducing a set of reforms - the first New Deal - that would ultimately be ruled almost entirely unconstitutional; pursuing an independent (even - gasp! - unilateral) economic policy; forcing the Supreme Court to choose between two constitutional evils (allow an expansive definition of interstate trade, or suffer an expanded court which would do the same - and more); and so on. Many of these activities were useless, or even counter-productive, but at the time they were new, and hopeful, and promising, and that's what mattered most.

Though a historian disdains counter-factuals, it's possible to imagine that had FDR left office after two terms, with only the New Deals as his legacy, his memory mightn't be so revered. But two dates helped to canonize Roosevelt: December 7, 1941; and Apri 12, 1945.

The first, of course, was the date of the Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbour. I've found in my studies, interestingly, that the greatest modern criticism of Roosevelt centers on the apparently slow pace at which he involved the US in the emerging global crisis. That's a debate for another time; but no-one can doubt his dedication, once hostilities were begun, to triumph totally over the forces that he unabashedly cast as evil. Roosevelt saw the war as a great conflict between democracy and tyranny, and believed that victory would herald a new age of freedom for mankind. Indeed, he seems to have seen his prosection of the war as a New Deal for the world, and it's telling that the connection has not survived in the popular imagination. But what has survived is the sense that the Axis powers represented evil in the world, and Roosevelt's role in defeating that evil helped to elevate him beyond partisan historiography.

The second date - April 12, 1945 - was the date of his death, more than twelve years after he first came to office. Not all presidents who've died in office have enjoyed a posthumous hagiography, but the sense that Roosevelt was taken before he'd completed his work, compounded by the fact that he'd been in office for so long, and through so much, sent the country in to a state of mourning. Indeed, so great was the connection between Roosevelt and the Executive in the popular mind that for the first few months of the next administration, reporters instinctively called the President "Mr. Truman." To them, 'Mr. President' was in the grave.

These combined factors - Roosevelt's willingness to experiment, his personal charisma, his leadership during the war, his death and the fact that he'd been there for so long - all contributed to the lasting popularity of a man who's record was, on the facts, decidedly mixed. That's an important, if somewhat dispiriting, lesson to those who glory in the minutia of public policy: when it comes to turning men into myths, the public is willing to forgive much - and forget more - when presented with the building-blocks of greatness.

UPDATE (20/08/03 21:10): Armed Liberal comments, emphasizing Roosevelt's success in selling his policies to the American people and drawing a comparison to the current President Bush. Perhaps the most interesting such comparison involves Roosevelt's address following the September 1941 attack on the USS Greer (or another ship around the same time; history on the fly...). Roosevelt called the submarine attack an act of 'piracy'; he neglected to mention that the Greer had been relaying the U-boat's coordinates to British sub-hunting aircraft for some time before being fired upon. The lesson: in war, Presidents Republican and Democrat seem to do what they can with the truth.

Posted by David Mader at 11:30 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Strong and Free

Is peer-to-peer file sharing legal in Canada?

"On March 19, 1998, Part VIII of the (Canadian) Copyright Act dealing with private copying came into force. Until that time, copying any sound recording for almost any purpose infringed copyright, although, in practice, the prohibition was largely unenforceable. The amendment to the Act legalized copying of sound recordings of musical works onto audio recording media for the private use of the person who makes the copy (referred to as "private copying"). In addition, the amendment made provision for the imposition of a levy on blank audio recording media to compensate authors, performers and makers who own copyright in eligible sound recordings being copied for private use."[...]

A year before Shawn Fanning invented Napster, these amendments to Canada's Copyright Act were passed with earnest lobbying from the music business. The amendments were really about home taping. The rather cumbersome process of ripping a CD and then burning a copy was included as afterthought to deal with this acme of the digital revolution. The drafters and the music industry lobbyists never imagined full-on P2P access...

In fact, you could not have designed a law which more perfectly captures the peer to peer process. "Private copying" is a term of art in the Act. In Canada, if I own a CD and you borrow it and make a copy of it that is legal private copying; however, if I make you a copy of that same CD and give it to you that would be infringement. Odd, but ideal for protecting file sharers.

Every song on my hard drive comes from a CD in my collection or from a CD in someone else's collection which I have found on a P2P network. In either case I will have made the copy and will claim safe harbor under the "private copying" provision. If you find that song in my shared folder and make a copy this will also be "private copying." I have not made you a copy, rather you have downloaded the song yourself.

I can't say it clears my conscience; file sharing either is a property-right infringement, or it isn't, and the laws - across jurisdictions - should be amended accordingly. Still, it's an interesting example of the music industry reaping and sowing. Having lobbied for a change in the law to exploit a particular technology to its monetary advantage, the industry inadvertently set the stage for the counter-exploitation of the next-generation technology. The lesson? Change with the times. Or be beggared by them.

[Via the VC's Tyler Cowen]

Posted by David Mader at 09:39 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 16, 2003


ZIP! And my computer shuts off. "Whoa!" I say, and hear the same from the outer office. Walk a client to the stairwell, which is sun-lit, and determine that the building is out. Back in the office I look down the street and see the traffic-light down. It's quarter past four; we call it a day. No power from my work (Bank street below Laurier) to the bus-stop (Slater). Whole of downtown must be out.

Hop a bus - busy, but not outrageously so: more or less what you'd expect if the whole block skipped out of work at four. As we head west, still no lights. Cars and pedestrians approach interstections tentatively; thank goodness for bus-lanes. Out of downtown and onto the transit-way, heading to the west-end. Seems like the whole are is down. Or the city.

Off the bus, walking home, one thought is predominant: Premier Eves subsised energy consumption, and now there's been a blackout because people get electricity on the cheap. The 'conservative' government's economic idiocy has brought the Ottawa grid down. Way to go.

No power at home. Best not open the fridge. Grabbed the walkman, grabbed the push-mower from next door, hit the lawn. CBC '... the northeast, including New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Windsor and up to Toronto and Ottawa...'


New York!

Finish the lawn; CBC has nothing to report, and they manage to report it poorly. Bingo-callers with no prompts; J-school philosophers. "Just imagine the financial impact worldwide that will result from the loss of power in Toronto!" Torontonians. Insufferable, provincial, Canadian.

It was a fire in Manhattan. It was a nuke plant in Pennsylvania. It was a lightning strike in Niagara - American Niagara. But it wasn't us. We don't know who's fault it was, but it must have been someone's fault, and it must have been someone else's, and we don't have the good sense to say we just don't know, so we accuse.

Why are we all on one grid? (Because, the expert patiently explains, it allows us to divert power from region to region when one plant goes down.) Why isn't there a backup? Is it really a good idea to be connected to the [sensible shudder] Americans?

And more tendentious nattering.

Get some candles, some matches, a baseball bat - we were robbed recently, and the cops will have their hands full.

Power comes back overnight, and stays on most of the next day. But the system is fragile, and the computer stays off - as does the air. Some things are important, and some aren't.

"How surprising," the radio says, "that people responded in such an orderly fashion - so patiently, so courteously, so full of understanding!"

Not surprising at all - unless you think people are stupid, evil, opportunistic - unless you think people are incapable of governing themselves without the strong arm of authority or routine.

But we survive because the 'worst blackout ever' wasn't that trying, because it wasn't that bad. Had it lasted the weekend, or a week, or a month, then we'd see changes - a return to a life our parents may not have known well. A period of true self-reliance, of ingenuity, of independence. And bad people would do bad things, and good people would stop them, and we'd all continue to live, because we aren't ruled by the flip of a switch.

Posted by David Mader at 09:44 PM | (6) | Back to Main

August 14, 2003


[A quick and not fully fushed-out post; that's the nature of blogging, I suppose.]

Eugene Volokh notes that a New York State Senator will stand alongside an anonymous parent as plaintiff in a suit challenging the constitutionality of the so-called 'Harvey Milk School', a school for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. The school - formerly a program within the public system - has recently been given a substantial funding increase and dedicated premises. The suit alleges discrimination against heterosexual students, claiming that by diverting funds from the general public system and spending them on homosexual students - explicitly because of their sexual orientation - the state breaks its own anti-discrimination statutes.

Volokh has - of course - a thoughtful and detailed (and, I think, persuasive) analysis. I think, though, that this issue also raises a larger question regarding the appropriateness - or rather the capacity - of the state as a provider of public education. Any program or curriculum will necessarily be discriminatory towards a certain subset of students. While the overwhelming majority of such cases fall outside the set of constitutionally-protected values, a certain few will not. In these instances the state is put in an intractible position, as both a guarantor of equal-access to education and a guardian of its citizens' fundamental rights.

The state need not remove itself from the funding of education altogether - although it would certainly do away with the particular problem; it should, however, remove itself as much as possible from the provision of education. So long as it remains in the position of education-provider, the state will necessarily have to choose certain values to codify in its curriculum. Only by dedicating itself to funding can the state truly provide an equal opportunity.

Posted by David Mader at 03:25 PM | (1) | Back to Main

August 13, 2003

Hope Springs Eternal

Orrin Hatch has introduced a proposed constitutional amendment which would allow foreign-born citizens to become President.


Posted by David Mader at 05:16 PM | (0) | Back to Main


You know it's August when this makes the news:

If Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday.

There, the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat's Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak -- with Swiss cheese. If that weren't bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich -- another serious faux pas.

"It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia," predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? "In Philadelphia, that's an alternative lifestyle," LaBan explained.

And don't even mention Kerry's dainty bites. "Obviously, Kerry's a high-class candidate, and he misread the etiquette," LaBan said. "Throwing fistfuls of steak into the gaping maw, fingers dripping -- that's the proper way."

And get a load of all this:

Kerry spokesman Robert Gibbs insisted that the candidate was "not taking a dainty nibble" of the steak. "I suspect that Kerry was thinking about provolone cheese but became distracted by thinking of the more than 3 million jobs that have slipped through the holes of George W. Bush's economic plan."

Of course, Sen. Joe Lieberman can't even have a Philly cheese steak. Talk about alternative lifestyles.

[Hat tip to my brother Dan]

Posted by David Mader at 01:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Another Osirak?

The Washington Post's Jim Hoagland writes that at their recent meeting, Ariel Sharon presented George Bush with evidence that Iran is much closer to developing a working nuclear arsenal than generally believed. While the US intelligence services have suggested a two-to-four year timeframe, the Israelis believe Tehran will have active nuclear weapons within one-to-two years.

Hoagland suggests that Israel's revelation puts Washington in a bind. Having decided that it has no viable military options in Iran, the administration has turned to a multilateral strategy of containment. But if Israel believes that a point-of-no-return approaches, it may launch a pre-emptive strike - thereby throwing Washington's plans into disarray.

There are a great number of factiors, I'd imagine, that have been left unaddressed, including the WMD dark horse of the region - Syria. Both Israel and the US have recently conlcuded that Syria has a substantial arsenal of sarin- and VX-tipped variable-range missiles. Given the ties between Iran & Hezbullah, Hezbullah & Lebanon and Lebanon & Syria, an Israeli strike on Iran could have very immediate - and potentially devastating - consequences. The US would likely also be concerned about the possibility of an Israeli strike trigerring Hezbollah retaliation against American targets world-wide. It would also greatly complicate the relationship with Pakistan, which has strategic and ideological connections to Tehran.

All these are strategic considerations, but there's a political consideration as well. Until the US can present evidence that vindicates its decision to make WMD the basis of the Iraq war, its credibility on WMD in other countries will, rightly or wrongly, be greatly diminished. Domestic opponents of the administration - many of whom also happen to be opponents of the State of Israel - would undoubtedly cast aspersions on the claims of Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Ultimately the issue will be dealt with, either through a pre-emptive - or a much more terrible retaliatory - strike. It would be both unfortunate and regrettable if Washington's decision to make WMD the centrepiece of the Iraq war were to make the latter the more likely scenario.

Posted by David Mader at 10:45 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Banning the Bible

Advocates of gay rights have given up on trying to make a persuasive case, says Mark Steyn. Now they just want to outlaw dissent.

Steyn's absolutely right, of course - this issue should be all about 'live-and-let-live'. Instead we're seeing the emergence - or rather the ascendancy - of a secular social conservatism.

Posted by David Mader at 10:15 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 12, 2003

Democracy and Sex

Glenn Reynolds weighs in on the California recall. Read it.

Posted by David Mader at 10:08 PM | (6) | Back to Main

The Kelly Affair

The Financial Times reports on BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan's testimony at the hearing into the suicide of David Kelly. Gilligan stuck to his story - that Kelly had specifically named Alastair Campbell as the initiator of a concious decision to 'sex up' the government's Iraq WMD dossier by inserting dubious claims, and that the scientest later lied to a Commons committee by insisting that the information could not have come from him.

But with Kelly passed on Gilligan only has his own notes to corroborate his claims. He now also has to deal with some damning criticims - from his own colleagues:

The inquiry heard an e-mail written by Kevin Marsh, Today programme editor, to Stephen Mitchell, head of radio news at the BBC, on June 27 describing Mr Gilligan's story. It said: "Our biggest millstone has been his loose use of language and lack of judgment in his phraseology" and suggested Mr Gilligans's "distant" relationship with the programme, often working from home, should be more carefully controlled.

Next came a minute from a BBC governors' meeting on July 6, noting that Mr Gilligan had not always used "careful" language.

Will Gilligan continue to claim the moral high-ground, knowing that the only person who knows the truth is now dead? Or will he come clean and admit that he himself was guilty of 'sexing up' a story in order to discredit the government?

Posted by David Mader at 07:08 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The pressing issue of the day seems to be whether or not Fox' law-suit against Al Franken is asinine - and whether Franken is engaged in further trademark infringement by labelling himself a comedian.

On the question of the law-suit I fall into the 'asinine' camp, especially as the title of the book ("Lies, and the Lying Lyers Who Tell Them") seems more a send-up of conservative authors like Anne Coulter than of the FNC.

And while I haven't found Al Franken funny since I was about twelve (granted, that wasn't all that long ago), my objections really are political in nature. As for 'Lies', I think it is - as a send up - perfectly hilarious.

Somehow I doubt the rest of the book will be quite as entertaining.

Posted by David Mader at 06:39 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Is it August or What?

If anything happens in the world, please, someone let me know. Drudge is currently leading with an urgent news flash - animanted siren and everything - that a computer virus has hobbled the Maryland State DMV.


I suppose we should take it for the blessing it is. But even some good news would be a welcome distraction.

Posted by David Mader at 02:41 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 11, 2003


Charles Talyor is president no more. Oxblogger Patrick Belton has a roundup.

Posted by David Mader at 07:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Only in California...

... would a politician make this campaign claim - and hope to win votes by it:

During my campaign [last year], I put forward a specific plan, and actually, if we'd followed that plan, we'd have a $1 billion deficit," Simon said on Fox News Sunday, adding that part of that plan would be a cut in the capital gains tax.

Am I misreading this, or is Simon saying "If you'd voted for me we'd have a $1 billion deficit"? It gives you an idea of the state of California's finances.

Posted by David Mader at 01:07 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Building a Better Democracy

Another great post from Free Thoughts on Iran, this time from Babak Seradjeh who discusses the importance of historical experience in the development of democratic ideas. The American Bill of Rights reflects not only liberal philosophy but the experience of the Founding Fathers - as well as their English forbears. The First Amendment notion of a right to petition, for instance, can be traced back at least to 1647, when it was asserted by representatives of the army following a Parliamentary censure.

But important though history is, it will inevitably be overshadowed by immediate experience. That is likely why, in a particular sense, the Bill of Rights forbids forced quarter, and why more generally the Constitution forbids tyranny of any sort.

What does this mean for Iranian democracy? The use of arbitrary courts by the clerical regime to stymie legislative reform suggests that Iranian democracy might exhibit a greater restriction on judicial powers than in the west where, except for (or perhaps since) Star Chamber, the courts have generally been seen as positive tools for the curtailment of executive and legislative excess.

But whatever the ultimate form of democracy in Iran, it will undoubtedly be shaped particularly by the experience of the Iranian people under the current regime. As they are oppressed, so they will restrict oppression. And while some might argue, as I am inclined to do, that American republican democracy is the most perfect form of liberal government ever conceived, we must recognize - and encourage - the unique form of government which Iranian experience and democratic impulse will create.

Posted by David Mader at 12:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Chosen

An interesting post by David Bernstein of the Volokh Conspiracy on the notion of Jews as a chosen people. Is such a denomination racist? Bernstein argues that it isn't, because 1) Jews aren't a race, but a 'religion', by which he seems to mean a collection of individuals bound by similar belief or faith but fundamentally non-exclusionary; 2) the notion of being 'chosen' predates (according to Bernstein) Judaic monotheism, and so should be understood in the context of a multiplicity of 'chosen' people with respect to their own deities; 3) being 'chosen' implies not blessing but responsibility, and does not denote exclusive right to salvation; and 4) Jews today, informed by historical (negative) experience and increasing secularization, understand 'chosenness' to denote little more than a contractual obligation to God, and not a religio-ethnic superiority.

It's an interesting and thought provoking treatment of a question that, when not the subject of great controversy, is often the source of ironic humour (see, for instance, SatireWire's treatment: "God Names Next 'Chosen People': It's Jews Again").

But it also touches upon an issue I've been pondering for quite a while, namely the question of whether the Jewish community is an ethnicity or a 'faith group'. Bernstein's first point - that 'chosen-ness' can't be racism because Jews aren't a race and as a faith-group aren't exclusivist - obviously tends towards the latter understanding.

But a number of comments suggest the former understanding as well. The idea that Judaism "is a religion meant for a specific group of people either born into the religion, or who voluntarily adopt it by becoming part of the group" fails to address the possibility of withdrawal from that group. If Judaism is a 'faith-group', then being born into the group should not necessarily establish membership; conversely, if being born into the group is enough to satisfy membership, how can Judaism be said not to be an ethnic (or classically 'racial') group?

Moreover, if Judaism is a faith-group, what does faith entail? Is Jewish faith akin to certain forms of Christian 'faith', where belief in certain tenets is sufficient to satisfy membership, or do the central tenets of Judaism require certain actions? If Jewish faith doesn't require observance, does it simply become a Biblically-informed deism? More specifically, does it simply become a faith by negation of alternatives (such as Jesus as the Christ)?

Important questions, I think, and questions which the diaspora Jewish community does not seem eager to address. But at a time when so many freely associate diaspora Jews with the State of Israel - and its political policies - a reconsideration of the nature of Judaism seems well in order.

Posted by David Mader at 10:14 AM | (2) | Back to Main

August 10, 2003

The Gubernator

Mark Steyn has an absolutely hilarious profile of Arnold Schwarzenegger, politician, in Monday's Telegraph. Money quote:

Okay, Arnold's not a Nazi. He was born in the Austrian town of Thal, but not until 1947, and thus was technically unable to join the Nazi Party no matter how much he may have wanted to. But he certainly has family ties to the Nazis. His wife's grandfather, Joe Kennedy, was one of America's most prominent Nazi sympathisers.

Oh, wait. That's not the Nazi family ties the Dems had in mind?

Read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 10:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 09, 2003

Israel, To Learn From

A very interesting, hopeful post from FreeThoughts, a collaborative Iranian English-language blog:

There are relatively many unbiased news agencies that keep telling people of the world about the brutality of Israel against the Palestinians. They do talk quite often about the plight of Palestinians especially the refugees. Considering that pubic opinion is not really unaware of how much Palestinians suffer why are they still in support of Israel and why Palestinians have never been able to use the public pressure to get a bit more of their rights?

Though many of us in the west - and many Jews in the diaspora - would instinctively contest the notion of Israeli 'brutality' (and the supposed objectivity of news agencies), the point is nonetheless very poignant. Given the broad international perception of Israeli brutality, accurate or otherwise, why have Palestinians so far been unable to parlay such sympathies into concrete political and social achievements such as statehood? The author's answer is intruiging - and, I think, fundamentally correct:

Israel is the most (and maybe the only!) secular democracy in the middle east. Whenever there is a peace talk going on, it is between the prime minister of Israel and a king or a lifetime president of another country in the region. It was not until few months ago that Arafat finally accepted to hand in some of his powers to a new face. The type of the government aside, Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined...

There are some international values that all countries, including the US, respect. First how much democratic a country is and then how powerful its economy is. If Arab countries want Israel to admit the Palestinians' rights first they have to take care of these issues.

Yes, yes and emphatically yes. The only lasting, comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict will come with the spread of good, accountable, democratic government throughout the Mid-East. Democracy, manifest in the protection of individual rights and the restriction of governmental power, will free the 'Arab street' from the various forms of gangsterism that mark the region. It will redirect attentions away from foreign bogey-men to pressing domestic issues, allowing reform and real social progress in areas of health, education and basic infrastructure. As the post notes, it will also allow sorely-needed economic development.

Each of these elements will in turn allow a new approach to the Israeli-Arab conflict, one based on non-violent interactions. Certainly the spread of democratic government cannot, and will not, be a cure-all for the region's troubles; nor will it lead to a miraculous reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Concessions will still have to be made; understandings will have to be reached; negotiations will continue, and factions will continue to advocate hostility. But the peaceful interactions that democracy will allow, if not encourage, will fundamentally alter the dynamic of Israeli-Arab relations. They will do so, ironically, by giving the citizens of those fledgling democracies a level of control over their own lives and futures far greater than any they have yet been able to experience.

There are troubling elements to the post, particularly the idea that expatriot Iranians could learn from the 'Jewish lobby'. Though it has undoubtedly laudatory tones, the suggestion reinforces a notion of pervasive Jewish influence that fuels so much anti-Semitic thought.

But the basic notion that Israel, a functioning - if struggling - liberal democracy, offers many lessons to the emerging Arab and Persian democratic movements is one that deserves to be endorsed and repeated. Ultimately Israelis and Iranians - and Palestinians - will have much to offer one another, and will interact peacefully with one another, not as Jews and Persians and Arabs, but as free people.

Posted by David Mader at 09:22 PM | (3) | Back to Main

August 07, 2003

Manley Rumoured for Nato Sec-Gen

NATO members are said to be quietly considering Canadian Finance Minister (and Deputy Prime Minister) John Manley as the next Secretary-General of the defensive alliance.

Senior NATO sources said the name of Canadian Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, who withdrew last month from the race to succeed Prime Minister Jean Chretien, had surfaced in informal consultations on the crucial role in transatlantic relations...

"Canada's view was more aligned with the French and Germans. That is where Manley's (close) relationship with (U.S. Homeland Security Secretary) Tom Ridge could benefit him a great deal," said a Canadian source...

In a trade-off agreed shortly after NATO's foundation in 1949, the top political job has always gone to a European while the United States has always provided the supreme military commander, underlining its security guarantee for Europe.

Given the depth of divisions between the United States and key European countries such as France and Germany left over from the Iraq war, it may be hard to find a compromise figure in Europe who carries enough weight, one NATO ambassador said.

"The Canadians are almost European in their outlook -- and they speak French," he said.

Indeed. This will set the Canadian chattering classes abuzz, and doubtless we'll hear much about Canada's 'unique role' as a 'mediator between Europe and the Unites States.' In the midst of such nattering it will be instructive to remember that Manley is being eyed for the job not because he represents the official Canadian foreign-policy outlook, but precisely because he dissents from it. Relative to his cabinet colleagues Manley is a hawk, and many credit him almost solely for maintaining Canada-US relations in the immediate aftermath of September 11th. It is mainly due to this, as well as his work at the Ministry of Industry, that he enjoys such good relations with a number of high-ranking American officials. Again, though, this makes him an exceptional character in the ranks of Canadian government MPs.

If Manley does become Secretary General, there's a distinct possibility he'll be the last. The debate over a successor to Lord Robertson reveals the pending divergence between Old European and Coalition approaches to security and defense. There's little reason to think that NATO will be able to survive this realignment without its own serious overhaul, which itself will only be possible with strong and competent leadership.

I confess I am something of a fan of John Manley's. He has often shown both intelligence and courage in making politically unpopular but factually correct statements on a host of issues, particularly regarding the new security dynamic. To date, however, his good qualities have been displayed relative only to his hopeless, if not contemptable, colleagues. The Secretary-Generalship would be an opportunity to display those qualities in absolute terms. If he chooses that course, I wish him every success.

Posted by David Mader at 11:22 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Issa Out

The crowded field of California gubernatorial hopefulls gets just a little bin clearer with the withdrawal of Darrell Issa. Issa had spent a reported $1.7 million of his own money to bolster the recall campaign.

Posted by David Mader at 10:00 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The following is the text of Charles Taylor's 'resignation' letter, as reported by the Associated Press. In it Taylor says he will leave office at 11:59 PM, Monday Aug. 11.

Taylor has broken countless promises, and there's increasing reason to believe he'll only leave in a box.

Hopefully it won't take that.

UPDATE: AfricaPundit is on top of the situation with news you might not read elsewhere, including a report that Nigerian troops have blocked a delivery of arms and ammunition to the government - despite the personal pleas of Taylor himself.

A little over two months ago I made a profound declaration in Accra, Ghana at the summit of heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union that is helping to shift the destiny of our common patrimony in the 21st century.

We have been fully aware of the prevailing circumstances in our nation today regarding the civil conflict, in which our country has been betrayed by unscrupulous politicians our brothers and sisters in self-imposed exile. Compiling their betrayal are persistent double standards applied against Liberia by the international community, which have led to a breakdown of law and order on the one hand and the destruction of the Liberian economy on the other. The international conspiracy against the government has been orchestrated through the support of two major rebel incursions from Guinea and La Cote d'Ivoire with the support of armed insurgents from Sierra Leone.

Strong arms embargoes, economic sanctions and travel bans were imposed on this government several years ago. Foreign investment to this country has been discouraged at all levels while demonization of my person with the act of tarnishing my image and that of Liberia continued to be orchestrated. These orchestrations have prevented me carrying out my constitutional responsibility of defending the country and providing essential services to the people.

Therefore, I, as president of this noble republic can no longer preside over the suffering and humiliation of the Liberian people. As a consequence of broad-based international conspiracy, it was on the account of this enduring compassion from the people of this republic that I declared on June 4, 2003 in Accra, Ghana, that if I was seen to be the problem in Liberia, I was prepared to relinquish the mantle of authority to allow the Liberian people to live. Since that declaration, no one has determined that I am the problem.

However, the orchestrations in Liberia have been declared in alarming extent. As a result of these unprovoked attacks on the city of Monrovia by LURD rebels costing the death of more than 2,000 innocent civilians, the massive loss of property and humanitarian catastrophe. The state of affairs is unacceptable. Liberia today stands at the threshold of survival that requires sober thinking, expedient actions and mature decisions.

The action and decision that we evolve today can only be judged by history and posterity, for we are convinced that we are not the problem in Liberia. Neither is this government solely to blame for the current state of affairs. Nevertheless, we are constrained by the responsibility placed upon our shoulders by the constitution of the Republic of Liberia to honor the sacred heritage of our forebears and do what is right for the survival of our nation.

In consequence of these grave responsibilities, I have after much soul searching and prayerful consideration decided that I will begin the process to allow for the cessation of hostilities, healing of the wounds, the encouragement of reconciliation of all Liberians. I have decided to sacrifice my presidency and turn over the mantle of authority to my vice president at precisely 11.59 on Monday, Aug 11, 2003.

It is my hope that this decision will then allow for the restoration of peace, security and prosperity to Liberia and that all of the assistance withheld by international donors during my tenure of service will finally devolve to the Liberian people for the good of the country.

I take this opportunity to express heartfelt thanks to the Liberian legislature, the judiciary, my government and the entire citizenry of Liberia for their support and cooperation accorded me over the past six years. Even as I take this decision, you have my assurance that as a patriotic Liberian, I will remain available to offer my experience, talent, counsel and resources to assist in whatever way I can be called upon.

May God almighty prosper the work of our hand and save the state.

Posted by David Mader at 07:37 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Iran's clerical government has announced the release of nine students arrested in June during a crack-down on anti-regime pro-democracy activists.

Posted by David Mader at 05:48 PM | (0) | Back to Main


Life for McKevitt, death for bin Nurhasyim. A bad day to be a terrorist murderer.

Posted by David Mader at 09:35 AM | (0) | Back to Main

August 06, 2003

He's In

Schwarzenegger to run.

Posted by David Mader at 08:41 PM | (6) | Back to Main

NGO Monitor

I've recently begun working on a project run out of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The bi-weekly NGO Monitor hopes to bring accountability to human-rights NGOs by comparing their stated principles to their activities and pronouncements regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I've been tasked with looking into Canadian-based organizations.

My first report, on the International Centre for Human Rights and Democractic Development, is now up. Though the organization has a legitimate interest in the promotion of its core principles in the territories, its activities reveal pre-determined positions that demonstrate a clear anti-Israel bias.

Click here to learn more.

Posted by David Mader at 11:28 AM | (1) | Back to Main

August 05, 2003

Still Sick

Back later.

Posted by David Mader at 02:32 PM | (1) | Back to Main

August 04, 2003

Just One More Thing...

McGill's Reuven Brenner has an excellent op/ed in Sunday's Wall Street Journal explaining how the proposed 'terrorist futures market' would have successfully isolated and priced risk:

Risks of terror, of confiscation of property, of chances of war and peace are priced already today--only less transparently. Owners of real estate in New York pay more for insurance to account for higher risk of terror. High-rises pay more for insurance than low-rises. Stock markets price the consequences of war, terror and peace, too. In the month following March 17--the day President Bush gave his ultimatum to Saddam Hussein--Egypt's and Iran's stock markets rose by roughly 6%, Turkey's by 18%, Israel's by 15%.
If there were futures markets trading in events--say "U.S. victory in two weeks" or "3% Middle East growth after the war"--investors could get back to pricing regular securities based on a company's fundamentals, while still hedging against risks of war, peace dividends and the gray areas of terror in between. The benefits would accrue not only to investors, but to companies, which could then more efficiently allocate capital. Once futures markets priced external risks, businesses could hedge, and focus on their products and services--from education to telecom to biotech.

Read the whole thing, which also responds to the suggestion that market 'bubbles' somehow show markets to be flawed.

Posted by David Mader at 07:18 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Happy August

It's a statutory holiday up here in the great white north. Also, I have a cold. But I'm poking around the blogosphere and wider internet after a quiet weekend, so more later.

Posted by David Mader at 04:24 PM | (0) | Back to Main

August 01, 2003

Look Shocked but Look Away

An interesting review from the Telegraph (but only available as linked) discusses the global reaction to instances of genocide since the term was coined and codified after the Second World War.

Behind the refusal to use the word, there often lay a refusal to believe the facts. Perversely, the grossness of the grossest crimes becomes almost its own alibi: while the odd atrocity in the heat of war is believable, systematic mass-murder is so hard to comprehend that it can sound like fiction. And there are always the ‘useful idiots’ who will do the murderers’ propaganda for them on a voluntary basis: the Leftists who praised the progressive social policies of the Khmer Rouge, those (of Left and Right) who insisted that the Bosnian Muslims were merely shelling themselves, or those who denied the existence of mass graves in Kosovo.

Samantha Power analyses the reactions of American officialdom, and finds the same syndromes recurring each time. First the officials argue that any attempt to stop the killings will be futile; then they argue that it will be counter-productive. The diplomats, naturally enough, always prefer diplomacy, which means treating the murderers with respect and constantly trying to split the difference between them and their victims. The US Ambassador to Iraq in the 1980s, April Glaspie (who praised Saddam Hussein’s ‘remarkably moderate and mollifying mode of presentation’ on the subject of gassed Kurds), does not come well out of this story.

And yet, however badly the American politicians and diplomats may have performed, they are trumped again and again by the officials of the United Nations. It was the UN, not the US, that refused to request NATO air strikes against the Serb forces advancing on Srebrenica; and when that town had fallen, and 7,000 of its men and boys were being led away and machine-gunned, it was the UN Secretary General who said ‘No, I don’t believe that this represents a failure.’

Samantha Power thinks that a proper use of air power could have saved Srebrenica. She also argues convincingly, that just a few thousand extra US troops in Rwanda could have saved tens of thousands of lives. But she is not making a case for automatic military intervention in all such cases. As she points out, there is a whole spectrum of measures that Western governments can take, from denunciation and trade sanctions all the way to invasion: the Rwandan radio station which whipped up the killing frenzy, for example, could have been silenced by airborne jamming.

Abstract arguments for or against ‘interventionism’ are, in other words, arguments on a false basis. Governments act and interact in innumerable different ways; even the effective use of words can be an intervention that influences behaviour.

Whenever we look back at what happened in the concentration camps and the killing fields, most of us wish that we had done more - while knowing full well that we could not have done everything. The ‘all or nothing’ argument favours, in the end, only those who preferred to do nothing.

The emphasis is mine. Military intervention, while it can never be ruled out, is most often inappropriate. And yet this must not prevent governments from taking appropriate action to combat threats of genocide - and, indeed, the spectre of tyranny generally.

Posted by David Mader at 12:20 PM | (3) | Back to Main

White Men From England

Reuters? Racist? Well, I never:

The Reuters news group and one of its US subsidiaries is being sued for racial discrimination over allegations that a "white, public school attitude" tolerated and encouraged a racist environment in which black employees were abused and persecuted.

The class action announced yesterday alleges that black employees at Radianz ­ a US-based internet services subsidiary of Reuters ­ were forced to work in "an outrageous, patently offensive environment". One black employee was repeatedly referred to as "my nigger" by a white supervisor and was sent racially offensive emails, the action alleges.

"It's astounding," said Douglas Wigdor, one of the lawyers bringing the action on behalf of two employees and one former member of staff. "The only way I can account for this is that the management have done nothing about this. The company's general counsel told one of our clients that nothing could be done because the company is run by white men from England and 'what can you do about it'. It's that public school mentality." [...]

Mr Wigdor said that one of the employees being represented in the class action, Eric Berry, repeatedly endured racial slurs from his white supervisor and was often the butt of racist jokes. He also received an email from a white supervisor, David Flynn, which depicted an electronically altered photograph of Mr Berry with a noose around his neck, fang-like teeth, braids in his hair and a large black penis. The email has been obtained by The Independent. Another email sent to Mr Berry depicted a scantily clad "Miss South Africa" with an ape's head placed on top of a woman's torso.

One man's racist is just another man's objective news agency, I guess.

UPDATE: Says Glenn Reynolds: "one man's racist is another man's exponent of Aryan purity!"

Any others?

Posted by David Mader at 09:35 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Big Impact

A couple of weeks ago I suggested that the administration might hold on to intelligence discoveries in Iraq, ultimately releasing a dossier of hard evidence in January or February - simultaneously dispelling criticism and undermining Democratic political opposition at the beginning of primary season.

It's official:

The Pentagon adopted a new strategy in its search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It is called the "big impact" plan.
The plan calls for gathering and holding on to all the information now being collected about the weapons. Rather than releasing its findings piecemeal, defense officials will release a comprehensive report on the arms, perhaps six months from now.
The goal of the strategy will be to quiet critics of the Bush administration who said claims of Iraq's hidden weapons stockpiles were exaggerated in order to go to war.

That may be the goal, but if the strategy is successful, the prize will be a wholesale demolition of liberal-Democratic presidential political aspirations. Joe Lieberman, call your office. Tell them to sit tight.

Posted by David Mader at 09:31 AM | (2) | Back to Main


Historian Niall Ferguson is Harvard-bound, and will begin teaching classes in 2004.

I've just recently read his Empire, and have been meaning to post some thoughts. In fact last weekend I drafted most of a post on the book and its conclusion - that the United States is an empire and ought to act like one - but I let it slip my mind. Over the weekend I'll try and finish it and post it. Interesting questions stand to be raised.

[Via the Conspiracy]

Posted by David Mader at 08:47 AM | (0) | Back to Main