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November 30, 2003

'He's Not Kinky, He's My Governor!'

The Kinky-for-Governor campaign picks up steam.

[Via Dave Barry]

Posted by David Mader at 05:34 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 28, 2003

Bush in Baghdad

Washington Post reporter Mike Allen provides two fascinating behind-the-scenes accounts of the Baghdad trip, the first (Allen's raw notes) hosted by Drudge, the second published by the Post. The latter especially gives an interesting look at the relationship between the White House Press Corps, the Administration and the President.

Posted by David Mader at 02:15 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Sharia in Canada - II

Eugene Volokh weighs in on the proposed introduction of sharia-based arbitration courts backed by civil legal authority.

[I]t sounds like this simply provides that Muslims may voluntarily submit their civil disputes to an Islamic law arbitrator, and then have his decision be enforced by Canadian courts. That's the same right that Americans (and perhaps Canadians) have long had as to nonreligious arbitration. If you and I agree to submit our dispute to binding arbitration (whether the agreement is made before the dispute arises or after), the arbitration award will generally be enforced by civil courts. That's perfectly proper: It's part of our freedom of contract, and it can often better fit the desires of the parties (as well as produce quicker resolutions). If you don't like this, don't enter into the arbitration agreement...

If the parties don't want to have their cases decided that way, then they don't have to agree to binding arbitration. Nothing in the Law Times article suggests, for instance, that Muslims would by Canadian law be required to submit their disputes to such arbitration panels, and I would be quite shocked if there was such a requirement.

As M Simon notes in the comments, many jurisdictions afford the same power to Jewish halachic courts. I think much of the alarm comes from the WorldNetDaily article and others like it, which don't go into the same detail - and don't enjoy the same legal understanding - as the original Law Times piece.

I think there are two key points to be kept in mind. First, the system would be voluntary. That wouldn't make it any less binding; if you submitted to the court, you would be bound by its decision. Nonetheless, you wouldn't have to submit to the court - you could insist on recourse to the state system. Second, the Sharia laws would be applicable only insofar as they were consistent with, or parallel to, existing Canadian law. I don't think they'd be enforceable by Canadian judicial authorities if they were contrary to Canadian law. Because arbitration is restricted to civil matters (and I don't see the state surrendering its criminal-law authority any time soon), there would be no need for the Supreme Court to decide an issue of stoning for adultery (as Elana suggests in the above-noted comments); nonetheless, were they to, the existing Canadian jurisprudence on the subject (which prohibits capital punishment), combined with burdens of proof in criminal (and capital) cases and a host of Constitutional protections would, I'm quite confident, make the issue open-and-shut.

There are caveats, of course. The degree to which Sharia arbitration is voluntary has much to do with community norms and moral suasion. A small businessman may feel pressured to submit his dispute with a larger competitor to a Sharia court lest he incur the hostility of community leaders and, through them, the community in general. One could presumably imagine similar circumstances where a Muslim woman who had a civil grievance against another (male) member of her community would feel overwhelming pressure to submit to the Sharia court rather than make a 'private' matter 'public' by insisting on crown arbitration. These are serious considerations, and I don't know that they've been sufficiently addressed.

Posted by David Mader at 12:01 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 27, 2003

Who's Distracted?

James Taranto is enjoying Thanksgiving, so I'll do my part to let you know that British police have discovered explosives in the home of a man arrested on suspicion of ties to al-Qaida:

British Home Secretary David Blunkett said it is believed the 24-year-old man -- identified only as being a British citizen of Asian origin -- is connected to al Qaeda.

The man was arrested under Section 41 of Britain's Terrorist Act on "suspicion of involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism," according to Gloucestershire Deputy Chief Constable Martin Baker.

"It is the belief of the security and (police) Special Branch services that this man has connections with the network of al Qaeda groups," Blunkett said in a BBC interview.

"We would not have taken these steps if we did not believe that this individual posed a very real threat to the life and liberty of our country."

He's not the only one, but every catch is an event to be recognized - and to be thankful for.

Posted by David Mader at 11:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Happy Thanksgiving

Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP

I bring a message on behalf of America: We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you. Together, you and I have taken an oath to defend our country. You're honoring that oath. The United States military is doing a fantastic job. You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don't have to face them in our own country. You're defeating Saddam's henchmen, so that the people of Iraq can live in peace and freedom.

By helping the Iraqi people become free, you're helping change a troubled and violent part of the world. By helping to build a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East, you are defending the American people from danger and we are grateful.

Posted by David Mader at 04:17 PM | (7) | Back to Main

November 26, 2003

Sharia in Canada

Damien Penny analyses the proposed establishment of an arbitration tribunal according to Islamic law. Penny explains why this isn't necessarily a bad idea, how it could become a bad idea, and why it might be headed in that direction.

The key to it all, of course, is voluntariness. A sharia tribunal must not have discretion over those who do not recognize and acquiesce in its authority. When it begins to assert control over such people, it becomes an affornt to liberal democracy. Until then, it is an expression of the freedoms such democracy affords.

Posted by David Mader at 06:21 PM | (6) | Back to Main

It's Not That I Have Nothing to Say...

... well, yes it is.

Let's be thankful for the quiet.

And if you're really jonesing some pure-mader punditry, you might want to check out the discussion in the comments to this post, in which Matt and I get verbose about history.

Posted by David Mader at 12:16 PM | (1) | Back to Main

November 25, 2003

The Bigger Picture

Mark Steyn puts the flap about Johnny Hart's 'Islamophobic' BC cartoon into context:

Although I agreed of course that Islamophobic cartooning was the most pressing issue of the week, in my usual shallow way I'd become distracted by some of the day's more trivial stories - the 11 Hindus burnt alive by a Muslim gang in Bangladesh, the 13 Christian churches torched by Muslim rioters in the Nigerian town of Kazaure, and the 27 Turks and Britons murdered by Muslim terrorists in Istanbul.


I think the most damning thing about the flap is that the accusations are entirely believable - Hart isn't exactly a big-tent character. But Steyn's point is valid: CAIR and others who make a stink about an opaque cartoon strip betray their skewed moral judgement.

Posted by David Mader at 12:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The third-quarter growth rate numbers have been revised.


[Via Oxblog]

Posted by David Mader at 11:57 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 24, 2003

The Threat of American Amnesia

The Wall Street Journal runs a column adapted from a speech by Bruce Cole, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Cole rightly suggests that the principal ideas of American identity form a central aspect of 'why they hate us.' He goes on to warn that, beyond the current struggle, an understanding of the American humanities is fundamental to a continued sense of American identity. He's right. To understand who we are, we must understand where we've come from. In the past half-century, as scholars have begun to uncover new subdisciplines, areas of study long (and wrongfully) neglected, there's been a turn away from the 'core' humanities. That's been a terrible mistake, and it's taking its toll on the new as well as the old subjects. I suspect as few young Americans know the importance of Selma as know the importance of Shiloh.

My bias is towards history, of course, and especially towards American history. But the humanities extend far beyond history - although history is an aspect of them all - and they extend far beyond the United States. American identity is affected by factors that reach back to Great Britain, that came across the Atlantic from France, that trace back to the Caribbean and Africa, that flowed in from Latin America.

And the humanities are important not just to Americans, but to all who seek a sense of identity. Canada continues to experience a schizophrenia regarding national identity that results at least in part to the almost-total abandonment of the traditional humanities in the elementary curriculum. In seeking to construct a new inclusive and politically correct course of study, we've forgotten our roots. We're left with little.

That needn't be so. Incorporating those aspects of history which have for so long been neglected doesn't have to lead to the exlcusion of the old subjects. Dead-white-man history should not be excised because its subjects are old white men. The traditional narrative must be qualified by the understanding that it does not, nor ever has, give a total understanding of the component parts. But without the traditional narrative, students have no compass, and no measure by which to evaluate - and understand - the new interests.

I'm a proponent of the 'Great Books' mode of teaching, and I don't think that disagreements over quite which books one should read ought to disqualify the approach. I recommend reading them all, though of course it's not possible. But surely there are some artifacts that have been central to Canadian, or America, or Anglo-western identity. Those artifacts may have been the consequence of paternalistic modes of thinking, which failed to reflect the realities of the time. Nonetheless, having defined decades of study, they become reified - important in their own right, defining the subjects they purport to relay.

Cole is right to say that Americans are forward-looking, and I recognize that my infatuation with history is a personal interest. I truly believe, though, that the importance of the humanities is universal. I don't think that focusing on the great texts of our heritage is exclusionary or limiting; on the contrary, I think that by studying the works that explain where we came from, and how we got here, we will be much better prepared for where we're going.

Posted by David Mader at 04:47 PM | (7) | Back to Main

An Administration of One

Bob Kagan and Bill Kristol have an excellent piece in the Weekly Standard, suggesting that while the President has dedicated his administration - and the country - to an ambitions plan of democratization, his Cabinet doesn't quite get it:

Bush struck exactly the right balance in reaching his hand across the Atlantic and seeking cooperation in the war on terrorism, but without pulling back from his own determination to wage that war forcefully. He began to dispel the label of unilateralism that has been unfairly pinned on him, while still asking Europeans to wake up to the realities of a dangerous world they have been trying so hard to ignore. Bush might be well advised to give more such speeches in Europe. (We have stopped expecting his secretary of state actually to go to European capitals to make the case for the president's policies.)

In his London speech, the president continued to advance what has come to be the centerpiece of his global grand strategy--the promotion of liberal democracy abroad, and especially in the Middle East, where freedom has been most wanting and where the West's record has been most dismal. This was the third speech in less than nine months in which the president made the promotion of democracy his central theme (the first being his speech at the American Enterprise Institute back in February before the Iraq war began, the second his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy earlier this fall). There can no longer be any doubt that whatever Republican "realist" inclinations the president may have inherited from his father and his father's advisers when he took office, he has now abandoned that failed and narrow view and raised the torch previously held high by Ronald Reagan--and before that by John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman.

Read the whole thing.

Kagan and Kristof recall that in 2000, foreign policy was said to be Bush's weakness, compensated for by the assembly of a first-rate foreign policy team. Yet since September 11, the words 'Bush Doctrine' have been applied to at least three separate approaches to world affairs developed and articulated by the president. The first Bush Doctrine asserted that nations which did not actively support the war on terrorism provided functional support to terrorists. The second Bush Doctrine asserted that with the demise of mutual assured desctruction and the 'stability' it brought to WMD proliferation, America could not wait for security threats to become imminent before acting upon them.

This third Bush Doctrine is the grandest. It asserts that neither peace nor security can be achieved unless tyranny is overthrown and democracy is established in every region that currently breeds terrorism.

We may hope that this third Bush Doctrine is the most long lasting, and the most succesful.

[Via Oxblog]

Posted by David Mader at 04:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 23, 2003

Now That's Hockey

Tom Hanson - AP

If you're Canadian, chances are you watched last night's magnificent outdoor contest between the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers. Played in front of 57,000 fans in temperatures some twenty-five degrees below zero - celsius - the game was a wonderful melding of pro-sports and national passion.
Special kudos go to Montreal goalie Jose Theodore, who wore a tuque over his helmet. Am I alone in thinking he should do that all the time?
Mike Blake - Reuters

Posted by David Mader at 04:33 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Protsters Storm Georgia Parliament

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze appears to have lost control of the state appartatus some three weeks after 'winning' a parliamentary election that opposition groups and international monitors condemned as rigged. Thousands of protesters have been massing in the capital of Tblisi, and yesterday they stormed the parliament building as Shevardnadze addressed the assembly.

In front of the parliament, 500 yards away, police, security officials and thugs bussed into the capital to bolster Mr Shevardnadze's attempt to cling onto power, prepared for a battle.

But in the event, most of the ill-paid conscripts of the security force, who had spent weeks guarding the hated president, had had enough.

As the first Molotov cocktail flew through the afternoon air, they simply dropped their metal shields and stood aside. A huge cheer went up from the crowd of opposition supporters.

Suddenly, opposition supporters pushed aside the battered old busses used as barricades and charged. Mr Shevardnadze's hard men formed a menacing line, raised their clubs - then wavered, turned and fled.


Protesters demanding the resignation of President Eduard Shevardnadze broke through a security cordon and poured into the chamber as the president was making a speech to Georgia's newly elected legislature.

They were led by the opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, who ran towards the president screaming: "Resign!"

Mr Saakashvili then took the podium and announced: "The velvet revolution has taken place in Georgia. We are those chosen by the people and we are against violence."

Shevardnadze refuses to recognize that he's lost the reigns of legitimate power, and is threatening teh use of armed force against opposition groups. It's not clear whether the army shares the sentiment of a policeman at the parliament: "We will never use violence against our own people. We don't give a damn what the president says."

The situation in Georgia has been escalating since the beginning of the month. Hopefully we've seen the climax, and not a prelude to greater unrest.

UPDATE (16:20 EST): And that's that then. Shevardnadze has resigned, either unwilling to order a military reprisal or unsure his orders would be carried out.

As we've seen in Serbia, forcing a strong-man out of office doesn't automatically create a more secure, democratic polity. There's some very hard work in front of the Georgian people now. Let's make sure we have their backs.

Posted by David Mader at 01:41 PM | (1) | Back to Main

November 21, 2003

It's Up To Us

We live in times more dangerous and uncertain than the west has known in a lifetime. Those who've spent a substantial part of their life living under the temporary peace and security of the past decades will have trouble coming to terms with the new normality. Those who are only now developing an awareness of events will have little with which to compare the coming chaos.

That's why I strongly believe that our generation - my generation - will hold the balance of success and failure in the coming struggle. Many children of the post-war era - children of the baby boom - have been at the fore of the initial response to September 11 and the unmasking of the Islamist threat. Many understood the attacks to present a challenge to freedom and democracy that the boomers, having fumbled once before, could not avoid again. Many others, who had not shirked their earlier responsibility, were ready to do all that was necessary to respond to the new (or newly apparent) threat.

Their service has been invaluable. They - and President Bush in specific - have set the tone for the coming struggle. The doctrine of democratic security that the President has enunciated in his AEI, NED and Three Pillars speeches has been crafted by men and women who've grown and lived under the false peace of the Cold War. They understood the forces of good and evil that were inherent in that former struggle, and they have not failed to recognize those forces in the current conflict.

But over time the dedication of the echo, not of the boom, will be critical in achieving victory. The boomers near the end of their careers, though of course their active influence will continue. Those who've only recently entered the workforce, or who are only now beginning to do so, will form the conscious public of the new wartime - a wartime that will continue for years. If we grow tired of the demands of a long war, if we allow the immediacy of terror to become routine, then we will lose the willingness, and the ability to win.

But if we recognize that there can be no return to the lost era of our youth, if we understand that the normality of terror is something to be overcome, not accepted, then we can establish the foundation of victory. We who remember what peace is like - even if it was a false peace - know why we fight terror. We who've seen the prosperity of democracy know why we fight tyranny. Over time, just as there is an impulse to return, there will be an impulse to forget. As we cannot do the first, so we must not do the last. The post-war era is gone. But we can make a new one. If we achieve a lasting victory over tyranny and terror, through the spread of rights and freedoms, we can realize a peace and prosperty greater than anything we've ever known. It won't come soon, and it won't come easy, but, if we will it, it will come.

It's up to us.

Posted by David Mader at 03:10 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Welcome to Normal

James Lileks lambastes American media for ignoring the terror attacks in Istanbul and the President's 'Three Pillars' speech, instead giving top coverage to Michael Jackson.

Hugh Hewitt goes further, emphasizing the importance of the attacks both to Britain and to the war on terror. "This is the country that rushed to our side in the aftermath of 9/11, and whose Prime Minister immediately journeyed to our country to stand with our President," he writes. "This is the country that sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq to fight and die alongside our troops."

The impact of the bombings - which devastated the British consulate in Istanbul, killing the consul general and 13 of his staff - is reflected in the Daily Telegraph leader today:

[Islamism] is a vision inspired by a deep-seated hatred of the fruit of the European Enlightenment – a belief in progress and the power of reason, and the separation of secular and religious power. In their reaction to this mode of thinking, the Islamists would take us back in time; in extreme cases, a flight to the supposed theocratic purity of the desert in the age of Mohammed. And their ultimate weapon is the suicide bomber - today armed with explosives, tomorrow, if the opportunity arises, with much more deadly nuclear, chemical or biological devices. In this battle, Turkey, a secular, democratic Muslim state which is seeking to join the European Union and has long had close relations with Israel, is an obvious target...

It is this message which Mr Bush has been reiterating during his state visit to Britain. In a speech in the Banqueting House on Wednesday, he said that after September 11 it was a natural human desire, as the months and years went by, to resume a quiet life. He added: "The hope that danger is passed is comforting, is understandable, and it is false."

And yet not all Britons have had the same reaction. Writes the Guardian:

The terrorists showed once more that their ability and will to strike is undiminished, and may well be increasing. There appears no shortage of recruits; there is certainly no shortage of "soft" targets. As in Istanbul last Saturday, as in Bali, Djerba, Mombasa, Jakarta, Karachi, Riyadh and again in Iraq yesterday, this does not look like an enemy in post-9/11 retreat. This does not look like a war that is being won. It looks like a conflict that is in serious danger of escalating out of control.

It's as if the Guardian had sat through the President's Three Pillars speech with their hands clapped firmly over their ears, rhythmically chanting 'la la la la la.'

In fact, one could be mistaken for thinking that the Guardian writers have had their eyes shut and their ears blocked since September 11, 2001. We face an enemy - a movement or an ideology - that is hell bent on our destruction, and when that enemy strikes, killing almost thirty and injuring hundreds, a firm show of resolve on our part threatens to 'escalate' the conflict 'out of control'?

In fact, the Guardian's myopia and the American media's inverted priorities stem from a similar belief - that the events since September 11 have been a horrible interlude, a temporary descent into violence and conflict that will eventually - and soon, they hope - simply go away. Things will return to normal, they believe; things can return to normal, and will do so if we all only act like they have returned to normal. Focus on the crazed sexual exploits of a celebrity; turn the other cheek to tyranny in the middle east.

As the President said at Whitehall, this attitude is understandable. Those who grew up in the post-World-War west enjoyed a period of prosperity and peace unparalleled in human history. Even within the west, the experience was not universal; many, obviously, had personal hardships; others served in foreign wars; others still were able to recognize the privilege they enjoyed. But many, quite naturally, if somewhat shamefully, became accustomed to the ease of post war prosperity, and came to assume that their world and their woes - stagflation rather than depression, school shootings rather than labor riots - were normal.

Perhaps they were - for their time. Probably they weren't; history was proceeding apace, but we all decided to look the other way. In any case, that normality is gone. There will be no return. One day we may defeat terrorism; democracy will spread, and harmony between peoples will grow. We will develop an ease, a prosperity and a peace, that resembles our recent past - only, we might hope, based on a more solid foundation.

But that day is not here. Istanbul is the new normal. We are fighting a war, and it's long past time that were recognized. The Guardian closes its editorial by asserting that surrender is not an option, and is not the option it proposes. Though the substance of the editorial calls the conclusion into question, it's heartening to hear it said nonetheless. In fact, the Guardian's broader point - that this campaign cannot be limited to military activity - is quite right. The ultimate triumph of freedom and democracy will - and must - involve more than force of arms. Yet so long as proponents of a softer approach suggest that the conflict threatens to 'escalate out of control', they undermine their credibility.

The world is out of control. Chaos is the new normal. It's time to get used to it.

Posted by David Mader at 12:03 PM | (2) | Back to Main

November 20, 2003

All in All

Iain Murray is conceding his error in underestimating the anti-Bush protests.

Okay, I was wrong. Way wrong. It's not the first time and it won't be the last. The protests may have drawn the 100,000 the organizers wanted, so it was doubtless a success for them.

I'm not quite so sure; it seems to me that even if the protests did draw 100,000 - as opposed to the 70,000 reported by other media outlets - they still fell short by about 50,000 - and are still 100,000 short of their own stated turnout.

But I think Murray is substantially right: both 'sides' can come away pleased with the week. The protesters drew a not-insubstantial crowd, and while many would undoubtedly have been better pleased with the hyper-coverage which violence brings, the peacefulness of the marches will probably make their message more effective than it otherwise would have been.

For their part, Bush and Blair can be pleased with the generally positive tenor of the visit, the relatively low-key protests and the mostly positive reaction to the President's speech. I think the fact that the protests were seen to be lackluster - if only because expectations on both sides were high - plays into the President's hand. I recognize, though, that perception is largely... uh... perception. Which is to say that those who want to see the turnout as lackluster, and therefore to the President's benefit, will do so, while those who want to emphasize its significance will interpret the week's events differently.

In covering the coverage of the protests I've tried to be fairly balanced, although obviously I've been grinding an axe and I know my blogging has reflected that. I'm still not ready to concede the point - I think all parties, especially but not exclusively the BBC, overstated the import of the demonstrators - but I'm perfectly willing to say that the protests were substantial, were not entirely out of line with media expectations, and were neither a PR failure for protesters nor a PR coup for Bush and Blair.

I think questions still need to be asked, mind you, but perhaps not as urgently as I formerly suggested.

Posted by David Mader at 09:47 PM | (1) | Back to Main

And That Was That

The intrepid David Carr of Samizdata mischievously infiltrated the anti-Bush rally today, and found it decidedly lackluster. His conclusion: " don't think it ever quite got to where it was supposed to go."

He's got pictures.

Posted by David Mader at 08:31 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Quietly Revise Upward

At mid-day, the BBC reported police estimates that about 30,000 people had shown up to protest president Bush. Later they put the number at 70,000. Now they're saying 100,000.

What's the deal? Instapundit rightly criticizes the Beeb for after-the-fact revisions of its online articles with no notice or explanation. There's more to it, though. It's entirely possible, I suppose, that the demonstration drew as many protesters as expected; certainly many felt that there were more than they'd expected given the low turnout of the past couple of days.

But since the Beeb played so fast-and-loose with its pre-visit numbers, I think it's at least reasonable to ask how they're coming up with their current estimates. Were there 100,000 protesters? Or 70,000? Or fewer still?

Meanwhile, Reynolds quips: "If there aren't puppets, I don't want to be part of your revolution."

UPDATE (17:32 EST): SkyNews has the demo organizers claiming a turnout of 200,000 and declaring it the "biggest weekday demonstration ever held" in Britain. Sky also quotes police estimates at 70,000.

MORE (17:40 EST): CNN reports that "Police said between 100,000 and 110,000 people had attended the march and demonstration -- matching organizers' predictions." This must certainly be untrue, as organizers had previously stated an expected turnout of 150,000, and are now claiming 200,000. A little after-the-fact revision, perhaps?

Posted by David Mader at 05:29 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Shoulder to Shoulder

Reuters - Stefan Rousseau

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have held a joint press conference condemning the Istanbul bombing, affirming their common commitment to the defeat of terror and tyranny and rejecting a causal link between the invasion of Iraq and the continued Islamist campaign against the defenders of freedom.
There's lots of interest in their remarks, and it's worth reading the whole transcript. Some highlights:
Bush on reconstruction and withdrawal: In Iraq we are working on two tracks: we are working on a political track and we believe that the timetable that the governing council has set for itself is an accurate timetable, and we will work with the governing council to turn over sovereignty. It is their decision, and we agreed with their decision, based upon the conditions on the ground, and some of those conditions were the fact that there wasn't the sectarian violence that was predicted, Iraq remained intact, there wasn't the mass refugee flows that had been predicted, there wasn't the starvation that had been predicted. In other words, the conditions on the ground were such that the governing council felt like they could move forward in a constructive way, and we supported that.
Secondly, these terrorist attacks are attacks on freedom and they attack when they can, and our job is to secure our homelands and chase down these killers and bring them to justice...
By contrasting the 'political track' to military/security endeavors, it seems to me that Bush is saying a transfer to Iraqi political control won't mean an American troop withdrawal. Which is good to hear.
Blair on anti-Bush protests: We listen, that is what a democratic exchange should be about, but listen to the case that we are making, because there is something truly bizarre about a situation where we have driven the Taliban out of government in Afghanistan, who used to stop people going about the street as they wished, who used to prevent girls going to school, who brutalised and terrorised their population. There is something bizarre about having got rid of Saddam in Iraq from the government of Iraq, when we have already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves, there is something bizarre about these situations happening, and people saying that they disagree when the effect of us not doing this would be that the Taliban was still in Afghanistan and Saddam was still in charge of Iraq.

And I think people have got to accept that that is the consequence of the position they are in.


Blair on freedom: The case the president made yesterday I think is a really powerful call, not just to people in our own countries, but to people right throughout the world, that these are basic human values, they are not in the ownership exclusively of America, or Britain, or the west, or any particular religion, it is their human values. And actually every time you give people the chance to have those values, they opt for them, of course they do, because they are the values that sustain the human spirit.

Good stuff. Now how about writing some of those values into a New Atlantic Charter?

Posted by David Mader at 01:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Turkey Struck Again

Two bombs have gone off in Istanbul, targetting the British consulate and the regional headquarters of the HSBC, killing twenty-seven people and wounding about 450.

The British consul-general is among the dead.

The simultaneous nature of the attacks, the recent synagogue bombings and contested admissions of responsibility suggest that al Qaida was behind the bombings.

In admitting responsibility in a call to police, a man reportedly said: "We will continue to attack Masonic targets." I don't know whether there's some connection between Turkey and Free-Masonry - perhaps dating back to Masonic desires to free the Holy Land from Ottoman rule - or whether Masonry is used to convey a sense of supposed Christian subterfuge. In any case, it should be clear that al Qaida's campaign isn't against simply Jews or Americans but against 'heathens'.

Ankara blogger Kris Lofgren once again has coverage, including pictures, and expresses considerable frustration that another attack was allowed to happen so soon after the synagogue bombings.

I imagine such sentiment is somewhat common. It will be interesting to see how the attacks affect Turkish opinion towards the US.

Posted by David Mader at 12:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

A New Atlantic Charter

In today's Telegraph, Daniel Johnson says that the Anglo-American special relationship has saved Europe twice before - and can help to
As we see again
today, Britons and Americans are common enemies of Islamism and terrorism. They are not the only enemies of this murderous ideology, but they are among the few who have proven willing to assume their responsibilities. President Bush and Prime Minister Blair have shown a willingness to lead their countries, and the world, in the fight for freedom; they should declare their common principles as a rallying cry and a standard.

LATER (13:40 EST): Meanwhile, in the Franco-German empire, another best-seller claims that Washington planned 9/11 in order to justify invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

Britain can stand with them, or she can stand with us. Common ground is disappearing fast.

Posted by David Mader at 12:43 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Thirty Thousand

London anti-Bush protest organizers say their march through the city to Trafalgar square drew 150,000 people.

Police put the figure at thirty thousand.

Instapundit has more, including links to a webcam and a picture of part of the parade.

Thirty thousand people is nothing to sneeze at. Still, it's nowhere near the 400,000 who marched against the hunting ban last year, and it's far, far short of the numbers suggested by the protest organizers - and by the BBC and other media outlets.

My coverage of this issue started with a post on a Guardian poll suggesting general support for the President, his visit, America and the war in Iraq. Based on the tenor of the poll I questioned the perception, conveyed by many media outlets, that the President would be arriving into a storm of protest and unwelcome.

I noted another instance of BBC bias here.

I noted the weak protester turnout on the first day of the President's visit here.

I noted the comments of some BBC reporters acknowledging the low turnout here.

I summed up my coverage here, with an eye towards the supposed 'main event' in Trafalgar Square today, and asked: "Was there... a willingness to believe the most grandiose expectations, a willingness that led to false assumptions not only on the part of the media but of the police and security services as well?" If the protesters didn't show up in Trafalgar square, I said, questions should be asked, and answers should be given.

It's time for the BBC to start answering some questions.

UPDATE: I realize that my first post on the subject came on Saturday night, the fifteenth of November, and I challenged not the BBC but Mark Steyn and David Frum, both of whom feared a 'media catastrophe.' Frum envisioned 'crazies jumping up and down in the street yelling "Death to the Great Satan!"' while Steyn feared 'images... of enraged masses hurling themselves at barricades to be beaten back by police.'

My response at the time was that such images might not necessarily be damaging to the President, revealing as they would the radicalism of anti-Bush sentiment. But even then I was skeptical of the possibility of mass protests, suggesting that the scenario would only come about "if the protests draw as many people as the organizers - and the BBC - expect, and if they assume the same general tenor of past anti-Bush protests (and the anticipatory coverage of this one)."

So not just Fleet Street and Scotland Yard but Steyn and Frum were operating on the assumption that scores of thousands of people would turn out to protest.


Posted by David Mader at 12:11 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 19, 2003

Mistaken - or Misleading?

I know I'm flooding the zone with this London protest stuff, but I think it's important. Overnight on Monday, in noting the (now widely distributed) Guardian Poll showing substantial support for Bush and his visit among Britons, I questioned the media reports anticipating huge marches based, it seemed to me, on the presumption that anti-Bush sentiment was the predominent feeling in the country. I asked: "If the anticipated crowds are substantially unrepresentative, how have they gained so much attention? Are the coming protests a creation of media hype rather than genuine political expression?"

Reader Matt rightly took me to task for suggesting that the protests might be a product of media hype; obviously those who protest do so for their own reasons, not at the whim of the Beeb or anybody else.¹ But it's becoming increasingly clear that media reports prior to the visit substantially overstated the strenght of anti-Bush sentiment, leading many to greatly overstate the anticipated number of demonstrators.²

It's becoming increasingly clear as the anticipated thousands of protesters fail to show up. See, for instance, this BBC report entitled "Iraq Protesters descend on palace," which notes that "The crowd of up to 600 was held back from the palace by police."

Instapundit has more, including an e-mail from a reader who quips:

So, it will be interesting to see whether big media cover the absence of protesters after drumming up expectations, change the subject, film it so that it looks like a big crowd or just interview Harold Pinter.

Yes. If the thousands don't show up tomorrow, it should be a major embarassment for the BBC and those other outlets which had predicted a shut-down of the city. It would be worthwhile looking into the process that led to their expectations and assumptions. What research did they do in compiling the stories? Did they only contact the protest organizers? Police, it should be noted, appear to have been operating on similar assumptions: where did they get their information? Has everyone been taking the anti-Bush organizers at their collective word? Has there been some unnoted externality that's kept the expected thousands from London?

Or - as I suggested in that first post - were the predictions based on little more than the assumptions - and perhaps desires - of those within the media? I don't want to descend into liberal-media-conspiracy talk, and I don't mean to suggest that there was an intentional campaign to overstate the scale of the protests. Was there, however, perhaps a willingness to believe the most grandiose expectations, a willingness that led to false assumptions not only on the part of the media but of the police and security services as well?

I think it's entirely possible. If those protesters don't turn out tomorrow, questions should be asked, and answers should be given.

¹Actually, I'm not so sure this is entirely true. Protests are, to a degree, the creation of the media, at least insofar as protesters engage in demonstrations before the press which they would not otherwise undertake. That's true on the macro-level, as groups organize demonstrations to coincide with major events which are understood to draw significant press attention (as G8 meetings, FTAA talks, &c.); it's also true on the micro-level, as protesters are often more vocal and demonstrative in front of the cameras (as many journalists have noted). [LATER (00:03 EST): For an example see this story about protesters following the president to 'spoil state-managed photos.'] That's not to say that the media create the protests, or that all protesters who are drawn to the media are insincere; it's only to note that there is likely a strong link between press attention and demonstrations.

² Actually, it may have been the other way around - the desire for mass demonstrations, or the communication with those who organized the demonstrations which were said to be 'mass', may have led certain outlets of the media to greatly overestimate the strength of anti-Bush sentiment.

Posted by David Mader at 10:55 PM | (3) | Back to Main

How to Run a Blog Campaign

If you're interested in political campaigning, blogging, or the way blogging is changing political campaigning, then do youself a favour and read this piece on the Dean campaign, which has more or less invented the stuff. It's long, but it's worth it.

[Via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 10:21 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Behind the Lines

Instapundit links to a group blog of sorts being kept by the various BBC reporters covering the presidential visit.

Reynolds relays a reporter's statement of the extremely limited size of the protests ("We shouldn't get the demonstration out of proportion, its a few hundred people, not particularly rowdy or noisy").

But I'm more interested in the fascinating look the blog-posts give into the attitudes of the reporters themselves. One betrays himself to a degree in relaying Mayor Ken Livingstone's message to a group of anti-war activists: "He said it was incredibly important for those of us who believe the way forward is peace, to hold events such as this as a counterpoint to the official events." Those of us? In exactly what capacity was the reporter attending the event?

Another rebuts a common anti-Bush prejudice: "If people thought he was just throwing out random ideas, what he's done today is join up the dots to make it crystal clear what he's talking about.

He does have a philosophy of foreign affairs, it is coherent, it's just not very popular on this side of the Atlantic." More popular than the Beeb has been willing to admit, but recognizing that it exists is a start.

Interesting stuff.

Posted by David Mader at 08:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Mirror Story

London's Mirror is making a big deal of the fact that one of its reporters was able to "infiltrate" Buckingham Palace, gaining access to the most sensitive areas and personnel, including, potentially, the President and his party.

My brother asked me what I thought of it, and the fact is I'm of two minds.

On the one hand, the Mirror is operating on something of a false premise. "Had he been a terrorist hell bent on assassinating the royals or Mr Bush, nothing could have stopped him," it writes. Only he wasn't a 'terrorist hell bent on assassinating the royals or Mr Bush,' and had he been, his actions and behaviour would have been markedly different - and likely to have raised suspicions. The fact is that if any of the Palace staff were intent on harming the Royal Family or the visiting First Family, they'd have, at the least, the access to do so. Access is not ability, however, and the fact that the Mirror reporter was not a terrorist makes their assertions that he could have been a terrorist somewhat hollow.

On the other hand, I don't think one can deny that the Mirror has uncovered - or simply displayed - a certain weakness in Palace security. A degree of profiling was most likely going on here: the reporter was a well-spoken white Briton, so his references and background - even his false reference - caused no overt suspicion. I suspect that had he been dark skinned, despite Britain's growing dark-skinned population, he would have been subject to more scrutiny. I wouldn't characterize that as discrimination, but simple profiling; and not all darker-skinned applicants, I imagine, would be subject to the same scrutiny. Nonetheless the reporter was able to move in and out of the Palace relatively unhindered, gaining access to sensitive points while posessing unregistered materials. As a reporter is not a terrorist, a camera is not a gun; still, it's worrisome.

But the fact is that there will always be a possibility of infiltration. No palace - not even the White House - can be made a completely self-contained fortress. Indeed, each staff-member at the White House is a potential source of information that can be exploited for terrorist use. Such infiltration should not be made easy by complacency, of course, but there's a limit to the degree of surety we can guarantee.

Posted by David Mader at 06:42 PM | (0) | Back to Main

What He Said

I've been mulling over yesterday's Massachusetts decision extending constitutional protection to gay marriage. I'm not sure I'll do a full post on it. In any case, I think my general sentiments are captured perfectly by Glenn Reynolds:

I would prefer to see gay marriage legalized via legislation, which I think will happen anyway in the not-too-distant future. But it's easy for me to take the long view on this, since I'm not a gay person who wants to get married.

I remain sensitive to objections that 'marriage' - the word if not the institution - should be reserved to heterosexual couples; still, it's nigh-on-impossible to escape the logic of the argument for recognition.

Posted by David Mader at 06:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

There Remains a Bit of England in Every American

At Whitehall today the President reaffirmed the principles enumerated in his NED speech, framing a common Anglo-American foreign policy based on strong and effective multilateral institutions, a willingness to fight for freedom, and a commitment to the global spread of democracy.

Key quotes:

The deepest beliefs of our nations set the direction of our foreign policy. We value our own civil rights, so we stand for the human rights of others. We affirm the God-given dignity of every person, so we are moved to action by poverty and oppression and famine and disease. The United States and Great Britain share a mission in the world beyond the balance of power or the simple pursuit of interest. We seek the advance of freedom and the peace that freedom brings...

On September the 11th, 2001, terrorists left their mark of murder on my country, and took the lives of 67 British citizens. With the passing of months and years, it is the natural human desire to resume a quiet life and to put that day behind us, as if waking from a dark dream. The hope that danger has passed is comforting, is understanding, and it is false. The attacks that followed -- on Bali, Jakarta, Casablanca, Bombay, Mombassa, Najaf, Jerusalem, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Istanbul -- were not dreams. They're part of the global campaign by terrorist networks to intimidate and demoralize all who oppose them...

In Iraq, year after year, the dictator was given the chance to account for his weapons programs, and end the nightmare for his people. Now the resolutions he defied have been enforced.

And who will say that Iraq was better off when Saddam Hussein was strutting and killing, or that the world was safer when he held power? Who doubts that Afghanistan is a more just society and less dangerous without Mullah Omar playing host to terrorists from around the world. And Europe, too, is plainly better off with Milosevic answering for his crimes, instead of committing more....

In democratic and successful societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives. And democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps or attack their peaceful neighbors; they honor the aspirations and dignity of their own people. In our conflict with terror and tyranny, we have an unmatched advantage, a power that cannot be resisted, and that is the appeal of freedom to all mankind...

In the West, there's been a certain skepticism about the capacity or even the desire of Middle Eastern peoples for self-government. We're told that Islam is somehow inconsistent with a democratic culture. Yet more than half of the world's Muslims are today contributing citizens in democratic societies. It is suggested that the poor, in their daily struggles, care little for self-government. Yet the poor, especially, need the power of democracy to defend themselves against corrupt elites.

Peoples of the Middle East share a high civilization, a religion of personal responsibility, and a need for freedom as deep as our own. It is not realism to suppose that one-fifth of humanity is unsuited to liberty; it is pessimism and condescension, and we should have none of it...

We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq and pay a bitter cost of casualties, and liberate 25 million people, only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins. We will help the Iraqi people establish a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East. And by doing so, we will defend our people from danger.

Good stuff. I expect the President will continue to hammer this message home, in all venues, over the coming months.

The speech in its entirety is available here

Posted by David Mader at 02:30 PM | (0) | Back to Main

"Not Many of Them Traitors Out Tonight"

President Bush has arrived in London, which means, if the BBC and so many other media outlets are to be believed, the streets must be filling up with thousands upon thousands of protesters who, we've been told, are preparing to 'embarass' Bush and Blair by demonstrating British opposition to America and the war.


Not so much:

We are living in the heart of things -- in Trafalgar Square -- and, for what it's worth, can report that there is nothing of any substance going on at all. It's quite quiet -- people are going about their business, but the usual buzz of tourist activity has slackened a bit. The first round of scheduled protest events involved a big talk by prominent left-leaning activists, and drew about 2,000 people. Then, about 1,000 marched through Oxford Street to protest the Bush Administration's environmental policies. The thousands who were supposed to greet him at Buckingham did not materialize -- there were maybe 100...

I'm not sure what you all are reading back home, but it is simply not the case that the UK -- or even London -- is rising up in anger over the Bush visit.

The biggest of the demonstrations is scheduled for tomorrow, and it may draw the 'expected crowds', but as of now things seem to be a bust. Or were the media's laudatory anticipatory reports wrong? Or were they spun out of whole cloth?

Meanwhile David Frum has been talking to those protesters who have turned out:

A woman pressed into my hands a mimeographed sheet touting the merits of the Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

"You do know," I said, "that Dean now says that American troops must stay in Iraq?"

"But of course," she said in a lovely French lilt. "Now that we - I mean you - are there, we must stay to clean up the mess. There is no choice."

Good point. But not as good a point as this one I heard from a young member of the Socialist Workers Party, standing underneath a clutch of red banners. I goaded him a little: "Wouldn't Trotsky describe your allies in this coalition as religious obscurantists? And isn't the history of the Middle East that religious loyalties count for a whole lot more than ideology?"

Mike (the name he gave) shrugged me off. "People in the Middle East are fighting because their own governments are repressing them. They come to feel that they have no alternative - and the mosque is always open.

"But I can't help thinking that it's just not very realistic that people are going to kill each other because they say my God is better than your God. Give people freedom and an opportunity for something better: that's what they really want."

I said: "You know, you sound exactly like Paul Wolfowitz." He flinched.

Frum focuses on the fact that the protesters he saw tended to be "white, shaggy but clean in appearance, polite and vaguely bookish in speech" - the university set, really. Compare their moral superiority with the straightforward remark of Frum's cabbie: "Not many of them traitors out tonight, I see."

Apparently not.

MORE (12:17 EST): Over at the National Review, Frum recounts his first-hand experience of BBC bias, ending: "The BBC is not just reporting this story; it is in many ways the story’s most important actor."

EVEN MORE (13:50 EST): Iain Murray has another first-hand report:

Apart from a few additional rozzers around the Palace, you'd never know anything was happening. I was looking forward to the swarms of Secret Service blokes talking into their lapels, the helicopter gun ships and such.
Seen nowt, and I'm what? 200 yards from the Palace?

The tannoy said there may or may not be a peaceful demo at Victoria Station at 3pm. It's now 3.45. Heard nowt.

Maybe they're all huddled in a boardroom at the Beeb.

Posted by David Mader at 12:09 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Gay Marriage

Eugene Volokh says the Massechusetts decision to extend constitutional protection to gay marriage will lead to a federal marriage amendment defining the institution as the union of a man and a woman. He says that if the issue were reserved to the state legislatures, in twenty years it would be a non-issue as gay marriage became recognized by voters, not courts.

I'm still thinking about it. In the meantime, though, a question: the Massachusetts court read the right into the state constitution, according to language that's quite reminiscent of the Declaration of Independence, but which doesn't really mirror anything in the federal Constitution. What sort of precedent does one court judgement regarding the home constitution create in other states?

Posted by David Mader at 12:31 AM | (4) | Back to Main

November 18, 2003

State Visit

The BBC explains.

It also goes off on this digression:

So why now - given the depth of feeling against him and the Iraq war, isn't the timing unfortunate?

Why now, frankly, is the question many people are asking.

Given the high and rising levels of support for the President, the United States and the war in Britain, isn't the BBC's bias unfortunate? It's a question more people should be asking.

Posted by David Mader at 01:08 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Liberalism of Fools

The Telegraph says the Istanbul synagogue bombings should be a warning to Europe - not of Islamist terror but of European anti-semitism:

What has happened to the liberal media in Europe that the slaughter of innocent worshippers and the desecration of ancient synagogues in Istanbul should evoke implicit criticism, not of the perpetrators, but of Turkey's ally Israel? Since the last attack on an Istanbul synagogue in 1986 by Palestinian terrorists led by Saddam's late protégé Abu Nidal, a great deal has changed. Then, the condemnation of the killers was universal and unconditional. Now, each new atrocity against Jews is greeted by new attempts at justification or relativisation.

The Guardian adds:

A new anti-semitism is on the march across the globe... why is the liberal left not sufficiently concerned about the growth of anti-semitism? On this year's anti-war march in Paris, Jewish peace activists were beaten up by other demonstrators. There were less dramatic confrontations on London's million-strong march. It did not matter to the attackers that Jewish writers and activists have been vocal against the Iraq war. Nor did the attackers care that many criticise the current Israeli government's policies towards the Palestinians. Their victims were targets just because they are Jews.

Posted by David Mader at 01:04 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Kinky For Governor


Kinky Friedman — novelist, humorist, essayist — thinks he might want to be the next governor of Texas...

Friedman, who writes regularly for Texas Monthly, has always hovered around the edges of Texas politics, mostly as an observer, usually as a critic. Yet he never dared to enter the arena, except for that time he ran for justice of the peace in Kerrville on a platform of opposing war with neighboring Fredericksburg.

He was able to maintain the fragile peace, but he lost the election...

Friedman claims he will be "above and beyond" politics. When asked if he is pro-life or pro-choice, he always answers that he is pro-football.

It is a popular stand in Texas.

I want a 'Kinky for Governor' bumper sticker.

[Thanks to Dan for the link.]

Posted by David Mader at 11:45 AM | (2) | Back to Main

Britons Back Bush

Well how about this:

majority of Labour voters welcome President George Bush's state visit to Britain which starts today, according to November's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.

The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world...

The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters.

The entire results are available, in .pdf format, here.

The numbers might be as strong as I'd like in the absolute, but the Guardian places them in the context of prior findings which suggest a trend.

The poll shows stronger support for Bush and United States among younger Britons (especially 25-34 year olds), those living outside of the South, and, perhaps surprisingly, Labour voters.

In fact, I was most surprised by the fact that Labour voters generally seemed more strongly supportive of the President and the United States than Tories. (The Tories did, it should be noted, have a greater tendency to see the US as a force for good in the world, 7% to 66%.) Is this because Labour is currently a larger party, and do these results reflect the opinions of voters who could be won back by the Conservatives? Or is there still a strong anti-American - or perhaps pro-European - wing within the Tory party that dampens their support?

Perhaps most heartening is the fact that support for staying the line in Iraq is consistent across age groups, about 68% to 26% throughout.

All this raises another question, of course: if the anticipated crowds are substantially unrepresentative, how have they gained so much attention? Are the coming protests a creation of media hype rather than genuine political expression?

MORE (12:29 EST): Matt says it's in the eye of the reader. Well, I'm not so sure. Have a look at these world press excerpts collected by the BBC:

Italian TV: This is the right moment to show our firmness on the side of the US, Blair told employers in Birmingham, defending the US president's visit to London. However, he is one of the few British people who think so.

Diario de Noticias (Portugal): The situation in Iraq is worsening by the day, and British public opinion is no longer with Prime Minister Tony Blair on this subject.

Sowetan (South Africa): When the trip was planned over a year ago, it made sense for the two to exchange visits. Not now. Bush... is now a liability to Blair.

The emphasis is added, and each emphasized statement is, according to the Guardian poll, patently untrue. Where are they getting this stuff? It's being presented as fact - as the state of British public opinion. And yet even a poll as simple as the Guardian's suggests quite strongly otherwise. Is this error, plain and simple, or is it misrepresentation?

Posted by David Mader at 12:32 AM | (4) | Back to Main

November 17, 2003


Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British envoy to Iraq and Paul Bremer's unofficial deputy, has noticed that resistence to coalition reconstruction is strongest in the areas dominated by the Sunnis who formed the core of the Ba'athist regime. Greenstock has also come up with a solution to the problem: surrender:

The new policy could allow Saddam's former ruling Ba'ath party to relaunch and contest elections...

"The British view is that the defence against this kind of organised and increasingly practised and planned terrorism has to be a comprehensive one, going beyond the use of military power alone," said Sir Jeremy...

Sir Jeremy said the allies now had to "ensure that the Sunni heartland has a political stake in the future of Iraq" and "positive discrimination" towards Sunnis in allocating economic aid.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, I suppose, though I'd prefer to focus our attentions on those who have been oppressed for decades, not those who've lived off the fruits of oppression.

This, on the other hand, is necessarily a bad thing:

Sir Jeremy was at pains to point out that not all Sunnis were supporters of Saddam.

Despite the coalition's order removing all senior members of the Ba'ath party from government positions the party could re-emerge.

"There is talk of the Ba'ath party or its residue forming a new political party to compete without violence in the new political arrangements."

Doubtless the reconstruction of Germany would have gone a lot better had there been a reconstituted Nazi party competing without genocide in the political process.

This is a really, really, really, incredibly bad idea. This is a worse idea than moving the transition to a local government forward.

Why? Well, consider this: "American journalists in Iraq have hired their old Saddamite "minders" as factotums." That's right, American journalists have hired their old Ba'athist minders to travel the country with them, directing them to stories and personnages of note, translating for them, acting as their link to Iraqi society.

Put aside for a moment the distortion that this causes in American reporting. Imagine what that does to Iraqi perceptions of Americans. For decades they've lived under the terror of the Ba'athist regime - a terror which was not just the product of Saddam and his immediate advisors, but which was maintained by the actions of thugs, informers and petty tyrants at every level of society. Being a Ba'athist under Saddam didn't mean being some nameless bureaucrat; it meant perpetuating a brutal and murderous tyranny.

The Sunnis should not be targetted for specific reprisal, and they should not be considered the same as Ba'athists. The truth is, Greenstock is probably right in trying to create disincentives to Sunni insurgence, and if there are disparities between Sunni and other areas, they should be corrected.

The answer must not, however, be the re-introduction of the apparatus of tyranny into the new political order. It would not only reward the enemies of the coalition, it would reward the enemies of the Iraqi people. Little could do more to earn the enmity of Iraqis than to bring back their oppresors under coalition imprimatur.

Posted by David Mader at 11:57 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Anti-War, Pro-Death

Mark Steyn savages the anti-Bush protesters and thier fellows:

"The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death."

That's it in a nutshell - or in a nut's hell. And, like Mr Inyadullah, if it's Pepsi or death, the fellows on the streets of London this week choose death - at least for the Iraqis. If it's a choice between letting some carbonated-beverage crony of Dick Cheney get a piece of the Nasariyah soft-drinks market or allowing Saddam to go on feeding his subjects feet-first into the industrial shredder for another decade or three, then the "peace" activists will take the lesser of two evils - ie, crank up the shredder. Better yet, end UN sanctions so Saddam can replace the older, less reliable shredders, the ones with too many bits of bone tissue jammed in the cogs.

Well, Saddam's gone, on the run with no Grecian 2000 and all out of Quality Street. But it's a measure of the intensity of this psychosis that the "Stop The War" crowd may well manage to turn out more people this week than they did during the war. The war stopped six months ago, some 80 per cent of Iraq is peaceful and well governed, and the overwhelming majority of Iraqis I spoke to when I was there want the Americans to stay, rather than cut and run like the UN, Oxfam and co. But screw the Iraqi people; the "peace" crowd know better than the ignorant natives what's good for them...

If the anti-war cause is so just, it seems odd that it has to be so risibly "sexed up" by Medact and the rest, but the post-9/11 grand harmonic convergence of all the world's loser ideologies, from Islamic fundamentalism to French condescension, is untroubled by anything so humdrum as reality or logic. There's "no connection" between Saddam and al-Qa'eda, because radical Islamists would never make common cause with secular Ba'athists. Or so we're told by pro-gay, pro-feminist Eurolefties who thus make common cause with honour-killing, sodomite-beheading Islamists, apparently crediting Saddam with a greater degree of intellectual coherence than they credit themselves.

The fanatical Muslims despise America because it's all lapdancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it's all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it's controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too Godless, America is also too isolationist, except when it's too imperialist.

This one's a keeper, folks. Read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 11:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Frum on the Anglo Alliance

As the President arrives in London, David Frum presents the first of his comments on the state visit. Frum suggests that the British are wrong to call Blair a 'poodle', and explains why so many are eager to downplay the Prime Minister's - and Britain's - influence in shaping US policy:

First, in almost every case, the British Government has hesitated to tell the British people what its real objectives were – making it difficult for the British people to appreciate how successful its Government had been. Nobody from the Foreign Office has ever publicly acknowledged that the Office believes Bush's vision of a democratic Iraq to be dangerous nonsense that could destabilise cherished but non-democratic British clients throughout the region. Instead, British parliamentarians and journalists take to the airwaves to complain about America's human rights record in the region. When the declared policy contradicts the actual policy, you create a paradox: the more influential you are, the less influential you look.

The second reason for the misperception of Britain's place in the alliance is that the bad consequences of the policies advocated by the Blair Government have convinced many British leaders that the less said about them, the better. There was only ever one possible provisional government for Iraq: the Iraqi National Congress led by Ahmed Chalabi. Important sections of the US government - the State Department, the CIA - disliked Dr Chalabi for petty bureaucratic reasons of their own. The yearning of the British Government for an Iraqi Mubarak or Musharraf - a Western-oriented strongman backed by military power - lent extra force to the anti-INC faction. But because there was no plausible alternative to the INC, British advice helped bring the coalition to a point where six months after the fall of the dictator, Iraqis perceive themselves to be ruled without their consent by an English-speaking proconsul.

There's more.

Posted by David Mader at 11:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

First State Visit?

Here's something I didn't know:

Bush is the first U.S. President to come to Britain on a state visit - meaning he was invited by the monarch, not the government.

Now how about that. It's interesting to me not just because, well, I didn't know that - what were previous visits called, if not state visits? - but because it makes you wonder about the relationship between the Palace and Downing Street. If this is indeed the first state visit, it says something about the Queen's regard for the President - and for what he's doing. That the Queen has decided to go ahead with the visit says more. Is the Crown being targetted for criticism by those who would have 'Bush out'? Might the protests of Bush's visit be framed as protests against the Crown?

Posted by David Mader at 05:59 PM | (2) | Back to Main

In Case You Missed It

Lots of blogging over the weekend, which is slightly uncharacteristic. Posts on the Iraq/al-Qaida link, the Istanbul synagogue bombings, the president's trip to London, crime in Britain and more.

Posted by David Mader at 11:51 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 16, 2003

More on Turkey Bombings

Ankara blogger Chris Lofgren has a follow-up post on the Istanbul synagogue bombings, noting that an al-Qaida affiliate has now admitted responsibility.

Posted by David Mader at 07:52 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Hart and Dymond

I've just read a wonderful piece from the CD Howe Institute by Michael Hart and Bill Dymond. Nominally a survey of Canada's place in a new global order, the piece is substantively an analysis of global affairs following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The surveys of US hyperpower when compared to the 'minor leagues' in Europe, Japan, Brazil and India are as well written and argued as anything I've read on the subject.

There may not be much here that you haven't read before, but I think the piece - relatively short at twenty pages - is extremely well worth the read in any case, as a summation of the new global state of affairs. Those interested only in global affairs will want to read pages one to twelve; those interested in reading Hart & Dymond's suggestions for Canada in the world will want to read on.

LATER (22:03 EST): D'oh. Managed to omit the link. The article can be read here.

Click 'More' for a taste:

The September 11, 2001, terrorist attack proved a rude awakening to foreigners worried about U.S. isolationism and to Americans welcoming it. Far from reinforcing withdrawal from the world, the attacks spawned an aggressive, singleminded, America-first foreign policy, characterized by a determination not witnessed since the Reagan era. While the support of allies for U.S. foreign policy imperatives is welcomed, for example, in the war on terrorism and in the confrontation with Iraq, it is not essential. In particular, it is clear that the United States will not “pay” Canada or any other country for their contributions, nor deal with Iraq or other terrorist-supporting states only with the consent of its allies.
U.S. assertiveness is generating considerable anxiety among its traditional allies. As Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair has observed, “If the U.S. acts alone, they are unilateralist, but if they want allies, people shuffle to the back” (Freeman and Koring 2003). The dilemma for Canada and other U.S. allies is that, while the impact of U.S. actions on their interests is enormous, their influence on U.S. policy, either its strategic direction or implementation, is marginal. The essential policy issue for Canada, the United Kingdom and others on issues such as Iraq is not whether Iraq complies with UN resolutions, but the impact of their position on their relations with the United States. For Canada, the hard reality is that the United States is interested only in knowing whether Canada supports or opposes U.S. policy on Iraq and similar issues. Major consequences flow from either position...

Paradoxes of Globalization
No term has been more misused than “globalization” in public debate on international economic issues... The paradox lies in the fact that the debate is conducted almost entirely by the chattering classes in OECD countries. As Indian economist Surjit Bhalla sarcastically observes,

one does not witness any brown, or yellow, or black people in the vanguard of the antiglobalization debate, or in the attacks on the operations of international institutions. All the leaders and operators are white, come from rich countries, and are fighting the cause “in the name of [non-white] poor people.” (Bhalla 2002, 190.)
The truth is that globalization has done more to lift the fortunes of the poor than any other process in history. Again in the words of Bhalla, “[n]o matter what statistic is used, the revealed truth is that we have just witnessed the 20 best years in world history — and doubly certainly the 20 best years in the history of poor people” (ibid., 202)...

The Paradox of the State
Much as globalization presents a paradox, so does the role of the state in modern governance. Throughout the past century, the state has grown steadily more involved in the lives of its citizens. The share of government expenditure in national production, the provision of comprehensive social safety nets and the intrusiveness of micro-regulation in daily life all testify to the primacy of the state in governance. The paradox is that, as the intervention of the state has grown, its ability to affect change has declined.

LATER (22:04 EST): I realize I've excerpted the more politicized passages from the paper; the following are perhaps a bit more representative:
Russia has disappeared as a serious participant in world affairs. The combined impact of the implosion of the Soviet economy and the breakup of the Soviet Union into a welter of successor states reduced Russia’s status to that of a minor state with nuclear weapons. It will take Russia years to establish the necessary institutions of democracy and capitalism that will enable it to realize its potential and undo the nightmare of generations of misgovernment. Like those of many other states, its leaders can be leaned on when necessary, but they are no longer central to any major decisions...
Brazil and India are the dominant countries in their respective regions but lack the capacity to project this power beyond their borders. Brazil is, in any case, a country to which the world beyond is of little interest. Its borders are secure, its population is quiescent in the face of massive social inequalities, its elites are comfortable with mediocre performance and its horizons are limited to a poradic desire to play regional hegemon in South America. The election of a new president with a strong social reform agenda is unlikely to make a serious difference in Brazilian ambitions or in its power to realize them. India has pretensions to global influence but, as Bismarck once said of Italy, its appetite is bigger than its teeth. India remains far behind the majority of developing countries in unshackling its economy from the dead hand of state control. Its long-standing aspirations to lead a coalition of developing nations and compete with the United States and other industrialized countries have never enjoyed the broad support of its would-be members. Looming over Indian pretensions to global power status is the emerging power of China.

Posted by David Mader at 07:37 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Proudly Obscure

Instapundit links to a Washington Post piece calling the blogosphere a little too cozy and condemning it for playing "the same insider's game played by the old establishment media."

Jeff Jarvis links to a Guardian piece condemning him for 'hyperbole' and lamenting "the hard-nosed drive for pageviews which has always been "a-list" blogging's biggest dirty secret."

Is this just a rear-guard action by the old media against blogging? If so it's not universal; check out the 'external links' to this Telegraph article, which include posts by at least two different bloggers.

I wondered at first whether it might be a response of the left-wing media to the failure of their ideological fellows to make significant inroads in the blogosphere. That doesn't pan out for two reasons, though: first, I'm not sure the opinions of a literary critic in the Washington Post can be considered 'left wing'; and more importantly, there are a growing number of left-wing bloggers who are increasingly successful.

Perhaps it's a Postrellian dynamist versus stasist split, with conservative old-media more willing to accept and, more importantly, to understand the blogosphere for what it is.

The criticisms are probably not entirely without substance; certainly there are bloggers beholden to their hits, and the sheer size of the blogosphere contributes to a degree of insularity. I wonder, though, whether the critics are confusing hyperbole for simple argumentation with which they don't agree. The blogosphere has, over the past two years, played host to a more robust discussion of policy and ideology than the old-media has been able to do since I can remember. In a particular way the participants in this discussion have left old-media commentators well behind. What sounds hyperbolic to a Guardian columnist may simply be the logical end of a discussion which that columnist has missed.

In any case, if it is true that hyperbole boosts hits, and that reasoned arguments are a recipe for obscurity, then perhaps a new motto is in order:

Maderblog: Obscure since June, 2001.

Posted by David Mader at 07:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Tories Take Back the Streets

In the wake of a study showing most Britons to have little confidence in the ability of police to capture criminals, new Conservative Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has proposed re-introducing the death penalty for the most heinous of murders.

As I've written before, while I'm not a strong proponent of the death penalty, I have absolutely no qualms about its use as a punishment. 'Punishment' is the operative word; I find absurd the objection of Labour MP Janet Anderson, quoted in the Telegraph piece: "While this might be a populist view on behalf of some people, the evidence tells us the death penalty is not a significantly great deterrent to warrant a change to the statute books now." Punishment and deterrence are two separate things, and the idea that Labour is opposed to instituting punishment as a consequence of crime may well be at the root of Britain's current crime wave.

I'm a little skeptical of the Telegraph study, because it's a survey of attitudes rather than a study of crime reports. It's possible that more people have declared themselves to be victims of crime than have actually been victims of crime. Nonetheless, I think the report points to a trend that is not limited to Britain. As laws and regulations have increased, and as police have been deputized to enforce more and diverse statutes extending well beyond basic criminal behaviour, that basic criminal behaviour hs increasingly been left uninvestigated. A stolen car will not be recovered. Period. A break-in will hardly ever lead to an arrest. Vandalism, especially teen vandalism, will result, if at all, in rehabilitation rather than punishment.

The fact that all the aforementioned uninvestigated crimes are assaults on property is particularly disturbing. When a crime goes uninvestigated and unpunished, it ceases to be a crime. If there is no consequence to vandalism or car theft - or even breaking-and-entering - then these actions can no longer said to be illegal in any real sense. If there is no consequence to an assault on property, then the right to property is fundamentaly undermined.

The Telegraph writes:

The most fundamental human right is of course the right to live and enjoy property in peace without fear of being assaulted or burgled. The Government's most basic duty is to protect that right. It is failing.

If the government, through its magistrates, will not enforce the most basic rights of property, it becomes the duty of the people to do so. Vigilantism is, in most instances, to be abhorred for its arbitrariness; but when crime ceases to hhave consequence, and when the protection of property is met by prosecution, the state has failed in its trust. In Britian, as in Canada, we face a choice: to return police attentions to the most fundamental breaches of order and assaults on right; or to return the right of investigation and punishment to the people through privately organizes and funded policing agencies.

Posted by David Mader at 12:37 PM | (5) | Back to Main

November 15, 2003

An American President in London

Mark Steyn sounds a pessimistic note regarding the President's visit to London:

When the crazies jumping up and down in the street yelling "Death to the Great Satan!" are the citizenry of your closest ally, you can bet there will be at least a few Democratic presidential candidates ready to make hay and demanding to know, "Who lost Britain?" The argument will be that these scenes demonstrate just how total America's isolation is.

David Frum made a similar argument last week, suggesting that the visit would be "one of the worst media debacles of his presidency":

British police have responded to the threat of unrest by banning demonstrators from the area immediately around Parliament. But the cameras will follow wherever the protesters go, and the images those cameras will broadcast – of enraged masses hurling themselves at barricades to be beaten back by police – will look equally awful whether the protests take place 100 yards or 100 blocks from Big Ben.

But neither explain quite why the image of hundreds or thousands of protesters, replete with effigies and burning flags and signs drawing inevitable comparisons to Hitler would make Bush look bad.

Now I have my own forebodings regarding the visit, particularly as it coincides with a general terror alert in Britain and neighboring regions. I just don't see, though, how protests can be a political detriment to Bush. If the protests draw as many people as the organizers - and the BBC - expect, and if they assume the same general tenor of past anti-Bush protests (and the anticipatory coverage of this one), the American viewers will most likely be confronted with television images they've grown all too used to since Seattle. Masked hooligans, shrieking students, the aforementioned flags and signs will only convey to the viewer a feeling of dangerous radicalism on the part of the protesters.

Please note that I don't mean to suggest either that all the protesters will be radicals, or that the radicals are indicative of all those who protest, actively or passively, the policies of the president. Yet as Steyn himself notes, the press focus their lenses on the excitable, not the mundane. American viewers will see the worst of the protests.

And, as Frum notes in a later post, it is to that worst segment of the protests that Americans will react. Frum seems to come around on the issue, allowing that indeed the protests might turn out to be a liability not to Bush but to the Democratic contenders: "If next week’s visit to London goes as I fear it will, the Democratic candidates for president will have to decide what, if anything, to say about it." At the FTAA conference in Quebec City a couple of years ago, prominent Canadian leftists including Maude Barlowe and Naomi Klein, having gone to great lengths to draw a distinction between rabble-rousers and peaceful protesters, discredited themselves by failing to condemn the former. The Democratic candidates will face a similar dilemma: to denounce their most vocal supporters, or to capitulate to a radical mob.

That sounds pretty win/win for the president to me.

Posted by David Mader at 09:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Qaida Strikes Istanbul

Simultaneous bombings outside of two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey, on Saturday killed twenty people and injured hundreds. Although a local and previously unknown group admitted responsibility, Turkish security officials have declared that local groups would not have been able to carry out attacks of such sophistication. Israeli security officials have similary indicated that they believe the attacks to have been the work of 'international' terrorist organizations. Turkish authorities had also recently received warning of an impending terrorist attack by the al Qaida network and its affiliates.

Ankara blogger Kris Lofgren has comprehensive coverage, including pictures and links to both the major wire stories and Turkish media coverage.

David Adesnik comments: "Wherever our people lives, it is the target of vicious hatred." Similary, Andrew Sullivan declares: "Never again? It's already here."

Yes, but more.

Yes, these attacks, in targetting synagogues, and so targetting Jews at worship, can quite patently be labelled acts of anti-semitism.

But they are more than anti-semitic. They are anti-modernity; they are anti-liberal. Many have already noted that Turkey is the most secular of Muslim states, that the Jewish community lives in a fair degree of harmony with its Muslim neighbors, that Turkey and Israel have a significant and long-standing strategic and diplomatic relationship. The attack on Turkish synagogues iss more than an attack on "Jews in every country" as Sullivan says. It is an attack on the ability of Jews to worship in peace and freedom. It is an attack on those Muslims - and 14 Muslims died in the attacks - who would allow Jews to worship in peace and freedom. It is an attack on those principles of government that allow for free interaction and expression.

There is a war being waged by al Qaida and its affiliates. It is not simply a war on America, though it is that. It is a war on all of those who remain dedicated to those principles upon which America was founded, and who express and excercise those principles, whether at work or at play. These people are not simply the enemies of freedom, they are the enemies of the future. The struggle is before us, and those who still refuse to confront this reality become ever-greater obstacles to progress, and to victory.

MORE (21:42 EST): David Bernstein notes the growing alliance between far-right and far-left in Europe, an alliance based on a mutual hostility to Israel - and, increasingly, to Jews.

As with the Istanbul bombing, I think there's more at work here. I'm still looking for the words, but it seems to me that hostility to Israel and to domestic Jews is indicative of a more general philosophy. Jews who live and identify as Jews in European nations, and who also actively identify as citizens of those nations, are a manifestation of the liberal ideal. They are a community active in their society but mindful of their religious heritage and unabashed in their cultural continuity. Jews who are also Frenchmen or Dutchmen or Germans present a direct threat to both the tribalism of old Europe and the homogenaity of utopian leftism.

They are also, of course, a threat to those Islamists who seek to spread their ideological tyranny across the globe. Yet the threat stems not just from their theology, but, again, from their ability to express and maintain their theology within a non-Jewish society. Western Jews present a model by which any cultural group - including Muslims - can operate within, and identify with, modern liberal states.

A disclaimer is, I suppose, necessary. The Jewish communities in the diaspora are not themselves homogenous; nor do those communities always and actively promote liberal ideals themselves. Many of the issues facing modern Jewish communities center upon the tensions between traditional Judaism and modern political liberalism. The same is quite obviously true of the State of Israel, which faces its own difficult conflicts of liberty and tradition.

Nonetheless, I believe my basic premise to be sound: the ability of observant (or traditional) Jews and secular (or evangelical) Christians to coexist within the same societies indicates a strength at the heart of liberal democracy which neither Islamists nor radical leftists nor right-wing reactionaries can abide.

Posted by David Mader at 06:58 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Iraq/al-Qaida Link Proven?

The Weekly Standard has published an article with details from a memo prepared by the Pentagon for the Senate Intelligence Comittee outlining operational connections between al Qaida and the Iraqi intelligence service. The text of the article, entitled 'Case Closed', is available here.

Already many have questioned the accuracy of the article and the intelligence contained therein. Oxblogger David Adesnik is skepticle, wondering why this information, if true, is only coming out now, and suggesting that there might even be a political motivation to the leak.

With regard to the timing, I myself have wondered whether information about Iraq might not be released at politically opportune times; those comments (in the old archives, alas) had to do with WMD discoveries, however. And I think WMD holds the key here: in my quick reading of the article I saw no mention of any WMD connection between Iraq and al Qaida; on the contrary, the operational links seemed overwhelmingly designed to allow Iraqi assistance in conventional al Qaida attacks. We may be seeing yet another unfortunate side-effect of the decision to go the UN/WMD route on Iraq, which may have made the administration hesitant, rightly or wrongly, to release information that while not undermining their newly-adopted case for war, certainly didn't bolster it.

At the very least, though, the article and memo should give pause to those skeptics of an Iraq-al Qaida connection who seem to see the world as a giant risk board with impenetrable borders and insurmountable religious differences.
UPDATE (18:29 EST): The Weekly Standard article is now available on the Standard's web page here.

Posted by David Mader at 06:26 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 14, 2003


I was wrapping up a mammoth post on the new liberalism - with which I and, I suggest, the President, identify, when something went terribly wrong and I lost it.

Über frustrating.

So go read this and this in light of this and this.

I'll try to reconstruct the post at some point - it was a good one, but it's hard to recreate the passion that shapes a post like that.

Posted by David Mader at 01:47 PM | (2) | Back to Main


I haven't paid much attention to the late ravings of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis, who, since penning 'Zorba the Greek', seems to have turned into a loopy bit of an old geezer. Still, I wasn't aware of the context of his comments, which Eugene Volokh enumerates:

Theodorakis. . . was flanked by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Education Minister Petros Efthymiou when he made the comments at a November 4 reception for the publication of his autobiography, an event covered massively by the Greek media.

Film footage showed neither minister reacted when Theodorakis said Greeks and Jews "are two peoples without kin, but they had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail."

"Today, we can say that these little people are the root of evil," said Theodorakis...

Volokh wonders whether there's more to this than meets the eye, noting that Theodorakis seems to be equating Jews and Greeks, implying that perhaps Greeks too are the root of evil. I think, though, that he's misreading the word 'they' in "but they had fanaticism and self-knowledge and managed to prevail."

If you understand 'they' to refer to the Jews (as opposed to 'we' the Greeks), Theodorakis may well be giving a Southern European version of the Matahir speech: "Jews and Greeks/Muslims started at the same disadvantaged position, but those wily Jews managed to take over the world, and if we want to do the same we need to emulate them - while pulling them down."

As I said, loopy, but increasingly common.

Posted by David Mader at 01:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 13, 2003

Black is White

A thoroughly confusing op/ed from the Daily Telegraph. Having interviewed President Bush, they declare that he sounds an eminently reasonable personality, accomodating, understanding and reasonable. So far so good.

But then, in the fifth paragraph, we hit an odd note:

But with the Iraqi regime overthrown, Mr Bush is keen to emphasise that it is the International Atomic Energy Agency – a UN body – that is now taking the lead on Iranian nuclear proliferation. He is even keener to stress that it was China that was pre-eminent in the negotiations to persuade the North Koreans to give up their programme to build weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps for the first time, he omitted in the interview to make much of Pyongyang's appalling human rights record, of which he has spoken with great passion. [Emphasis added]

I beg your pardon? The president fails to condemn the most brutal regime on earth, a regime that, when not sending its population to death camps, systematically starves them; a regime that deceitfully developed nuclear weapons despite agreements not to; a regime led by a mad son of a madman; and this is a good thing? This is reassuring? This is commendable?

And then:

Above all, Mr Blair will be reassured that Mr Bush eschewed the more expansive language of his address before the National Endowment for Democracy last week, in which he extolled the virtues of greater pluralism for the Middle East.

Now, I've never been good at conveying sarcasm, so I wonder whether I'm now losing my ability to detect it. Is the Telegraph being snarky, saying that Blair, being somehow weak on the War on Terror, would be pleased to see the President back off of his NED speech? Or - as seems more likely to me - is the Telegraph itself expressing such pleasure, being somehow opposed to the principles the President's speech conveyed?

The piece ends:

However, support for their aspirations does not necessarily entail unlimited support, as the Hungarians learnt to their cost when the Soviet Union crushed the Budapest uprising of 1956.

The Telegraph appears to be presenting Hungary as a model for contemporary aspirants to democracy. Don't you go trying to overthrow your governments, they suggest, because the US won't be there to get your back.

But for goodness' sake, shouldn't we have had Hungary's back?

Has the Telegraph entirely lost its moral compass? I'm appalled by this piece, I'm disgusted by it. I wrote earlier today about the impending split between Europe and America, commenting: " It's vital that Britain not get caught up in this mess." If this op/ed is representative of British conservatism, however, then the UK can sink in that morass, and I'll be happy for the riddance.

Posted by David Mader at 09:14 PM | (0) | Back to Main


A fascinating editorial by Shelby Steele in the Wall Street Journal today. Steele analyzes Dean's 'confederate flag' comment in the context of identity politics. Money quote: "white guilt has given America a liberalism that revives as virtue the precise moral formula at the core of fascism: power justified by race alone."

Read the whole thing.

Posted by David Mader at 02:47 PM | (0) | Back to Main

The Franco-German Empire

They're not even pretending anymore:

Foreign minister Dominique de Villepin was quoted by Le Monde speaking explicitly about "Franco-German union" and to have called the further deepening of ties between the countries "the one historic challenge we cannot lose"....

Pascal Lamy, one of France's EU commissioners, spoke enthusiastically of the idea in Le Monde. He said it could start with the unification of France and Germany's diplomatic services and the sharing of France's permanent seat on the United Nations security council.

M Lamy said: "A Franco-German parliament could focus on whatever the EU and the German regional parliaments do not cover." This would include foreign and defence policy, economic and social policy and research.

The details of further union are yet to be sketched out but are likely to include foreign, defence, economic and social policy.

This is interesting for a number of reasons, but what strikes me is that it seems to indicate, for perhaps the first time, that the French and, to a lesser degree, the Germans are giving up on the EU as an engine for their geopolitical aspirations. "If the Europe of 25 fails, what is there left for France? Just the Franco-German rapprochement," says French Prime Minister Raffarin. The merger might be immediately prompted by the expansion of the EU and framed as an attempt to maintain Franco-German dominance within the organization, but even that indicates that the EU is quickly slipping out of French hands.

The news also makes clear what some have been saying for a while - the transatlantic alliance is dead. The US and Franco-Germany have fewer and fewer common interests. While the US still has demographics will confuse matters substantially) and one in the east. It's vital that Britain not get caught up in this mess.

Posted by David Mader at 12:58 PM | (1) | Back to Main

Chicken Hawks

The discussion continues in the comments to this post.

Armed Liberal stresses one absurdity of the 'chickenhawk' idea at Winds of Change.

Instapundit has discussion here, and links to some thoughts by Roger Simon.

And today Chris Muir takes on Tomorrow in his own cartoon, Day by Day:

Posted by David Mader at 12:28 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 12, 2003

About the Light Posting

I've been at the library more or less all day. Actually fell asleep there this afternoon, slumped across my carrel. Papers due on Friday; hockey game tonight at 11:30. Ah, the college life.

Posted by David Mader at 08:48 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Remembrance and Resolve

John Moore - AP

America's mission in the world continues, and we count on the same kind of people to carry it out. Today, in assignments around the world, more than 1.4 million Americans are on active duty, earning the title of veteran by serving in the cause of freedom. In two years and two months since our country was attacked, the men and women of our Armed Forces have engaged the terrorist enemy on many fronts. They've confronted grave dangers to defend the safety of the American people. They have liberated two nations -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- delivering more than 50 million people from the hands of dictators. Those who serve and fight today are adding great achievements of their own to America's history. America is grateful for their daring, grateful for their honor, and grateful for their sacrifice.
-- President George W. Bush, November 11, 2003

Posted by David Mader at 12:38 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Citizen Smash takes Tom Tomorrow to task for this comic, entitled "Chicken Hawk Down."

Smash's main gripe is with the 'toon's suggestion that warbloggers are too cowardly to put their money where their blogs are by actually enlisting to fight in the war they support. Smash, of course, was a warblogger before serving in Iraq during the late war.

My gripe has to do with the central presumption of the cartoon, which seems to be that civilians should not encourage war. I have three problems with this supposition.

A) Tomorrow disparages the activities of warbloggers by negatively comparing these to the activities and sacrifices of serving men and women. If civilians cannot be proponents of war, however, how can they be opponents? In other words, if a lack of service delegitimizes warblogging, does it not also delegitimize civilian opposition? I'm waiting for the cartoon dismissive of the pro-withdrawal bloggers.

B) Tomorrow suggests that warbloggers are layabouts, "each day... surf[ing] the web with steadfast resolve," and are, despite their age, still living at home. Proponents of the war who blog their support are drawn from a significant cross section of the public, however, and include law profs and lawyers, journalists and intellectuals. Are these people not entitled to an opinion on matters of greatest importance? Are they not to express their opinions? Or are only these sorts of people - lawyers and journalists and intellectuals - entitled to such expression? Or are none to express opinions unless they conform to Tomorrow's?

C) The basic premise of this and any 'chickenhawk' argument is that civilians who have not served have no place commenting on military affairs. If civilians are not allowed oversight of the nation's military, however, who is? If civilians cannot comment on military affairs, what place does the civilian government have to do the same? Is Tomorrow suggesting that the military should have no civlian oversight? That wars should be waged only by those in uniform? Or that the only civilians who should be able to comment on military affairs are those who hold his (apparent) views on military affairs - those who seek to restrict and reduce the military?

The chickenhawk argument is, and has always been, hollow. Of course civilians can and should comment on military affairs, whether to support war efforts or to oppose them. The alternative is tyranny, either through military supremacy or through the restriction of a certain strain of civilian thought. Tomorrow's cartoon compounds the offense by engaging in a further false comparison of warblogging and military service, and by constructing a false caricature of warbloggers as a group.

In his dialogue with Smash, Tomorrow protested that blogging veterans were a specific group of warbloggers not meant to be included in his caricature. In the end, though, it's his caricature that is specific to the point of irrelevance. I'm sure there are some thirty- or forty-something self-righteous layabouts living with mom who blogged in favour of the war. Even they stand up to Tomorrow's 'chickenhawk' accusations, but you have to wonder: if Tomorrow's flawed arguments are directed at such a restricted (and as yet unidentified) segment of the blogosphere, which in turn is such a relatively restricted segment of the larger population - who bothers to publish this stuff?

[Via notorious layabout and mother-lover Glenn Reynolds]

Posted by David Mader at 12:14 AM | (8) | Back to Main

November 11, 2003


Reader Elana forwards an article by McGill Professor Gil Troy on the cancellation of the CBS Reagan 'biopic'. Troy served as an on-set historian when the series was shooting in Montreal, and he castigates those critics (all of whom he identifies as 'Reaganites') who caused the network to cancel its broadcast.

The scriptwriter inevitably compressed, interpreted, and took liberties – as do all storytellers. Writing history has been compared to nailing jello to the wall – it is elusive, shapeless. We all are selective. After reading the script I realized that there are three levels of truth in story telling. There is the essential truth, what historians call the interpretation, what Hollywood types call the spin. There are the nitty gritty truths, the little historical details “The Reagans” crew tried to capture, the color of Reagan’s suit the day he was shot (blue), the weather (rainy), the sequence of who was hit first (a bit unclear but we assumed that the bullets arced from the president then further away from the target). However, in order to do what historians strive to do, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, there is also the narrative truth. That is where the miniseries folks took some liberties, because that is what miniseries folks do. Inevitably, certain scenes were conflated, certain lines of dialogue were improvised.

The Reaganites seem most upset about the broader truth, the spin the miniseries might put on the Reagans’ story, but they have focused on the narrative inaccuracies. They have objected to video Reagan saying something the real Reagan never said regarding AIDS: “They that live in sin shall die in sin.” This complaint is doubly ironic. A mountain of evidence in the Ronald Reagan Library shows that the president – like so many others including many gay leaders – responded slowly to the AIDS crisis, and in his case it was because he abhorred homosexuality. If he did not speak so pithily, his actions – and inactions – certainly spoke more powerfully.

I think the real problem with this particularly controversial scene is that while Reagan's views on homosexuality no doubt informed his reaction to AIDS, those views were not informed by animus, as the miniseries seems to suggest.

In any case, I think Troy's own conclusion exhonerates the 'Reaganite' reaction:

For those who wish to continue the important and vigorous debate about Ronald Reagan’s legacy, we should do what Mr. Brolin, Ms. Davis, and the others on “The Reagans” set did – turn off the TV and read from the growing catalogue of actual biographies and history books about the Reagans, their times, and their legacy.

Well, yea. The criticism was founded on the critics' reading of the script. Either that script was a piece of historical work, in which case the criticism was valid on historical ground, or it was a piece of Hollywood fluff.

If it was the latter - and this is the important point - then criticisms of it were and are valid regardless of the 'academic' history involved. The script suggested a generally negative treatment, whether through condescension or projection or revision, of one of the country's most popular presidents. An awful lot of people, it seems, didn't want to see that sort of treatment. One can fault that arch-conservative Les Moonves for pulling the plug on the project, but going after those critics - Reaganite or otherwise - who objected to bad history and poor politics simply seems off-base.

Posted by David Mader at 06:03 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Remembrance Day

Canada's six Books of Remembrance have been digitized and are available for browsing. Go; browse.

The Canadian Department of Veterans' Affairs has more resources, including poetry by vets and audio songs popular during Canada's wars, as well as a database of the Dominion's fallen.

Kingston's Memorial Hall has a series of stained glass windows memorializing the Great War.

More resources on Remembrance Day in Canada available here.

Posted by David Mader at 12:55 AM | (1) | Back to Main

Veterans' Day

Ronald Reagan:

We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue. Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history....

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war....

There was the impossible valor of the Poles who threw themselves between the enemy and the rest of Europe as the invasion took hold, and the unsurpassed courage of the Canadians who had already seen the horrors of war on this coast. They knew what awaited them there, but they would not be deterred. And once they hit Juno Beach, they never looked back.

All of these men were part of a rollcall of honor with names that spoke of a pride as bright as the colors they bore: the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, Poland's 24th Lancers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Screaming Eagles, the Yeomen of England's armored divisions, the forces of Free France, the Coast Guard's "Matchbox Fleet'' and you, the American Rangers.

Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here. You were young the day you took these cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys, with the deepest joys of life before you. Yet, you risked everything here. Why? Why did you do it? What impelled you to put aside the instinct for self-preservation and risk your lives to take these cliffs? What inspired all the men of the armies that met here? We look at you, and somehow we know the answer. It was faith and belief; it was loyalty and love.

The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge--and pray God we have not lost it--that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt.

You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.

Point-du-Hoc, France, December 6, 1984.

Posted by David Mader at 12:50 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 10, 2003

Real Life Stories of the 18th Century

We had one sailor among us that was born at Chester upon Delawar River. The capt[ain] treated him with cruelty during the time he was on board. If the man looked at him, he would thrash him till he was tired, then send him up to the mast head to remain there; if he saw him look down, he would say "I know what you think, come down here," and would thrash him again as long as he could. In this manner he treated him till we were on shore. Then this sailor would do no more, and now having his pistols, [the captain] swore he would make him work or shoot him. The pistols were loaded but entirely wet. He snaped the pistols several times, but in vain. The sailor at length tackled to him and gave him a severe flogging, which made him quiet.

The Journal of Jacob Nagle

Posted by David Mader at 11:35 PM | (0) | Back to Main

God Bless Don Rumsfeld

A group of about two-dozen House Democrats have introduced a resolution urging President Bush to fire Donald Rumsfeld:

[ Rep. Chuck] Rangel [D-NY] said he so far had 25 co-sponsors to the resolution who were "willing to stand up and say what so many policy makers know, that the first step to bringing our troops home is to send Donald Rumsfeld home."

He's probably right. Let Rummy know you've got his back; send him a comment through DefenseLink. Let Rangel know his cowardice puts the lives and fortunes of all Americans at risk; e-mail him through House.gov (use ZIP 10027).

Posted by David Mader at 11:25 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Israel Investigates Possible Infant Poisinings

Keep an eye on this:

Israeli security services were yesterday investigating the deaths of three babies who were given a kosher baby milk substitute.

Twenty Israeli babies have also been admitted to hospital suffering from brain damage after being fed the soya-based milk substitute, which has now been taken off the shelves....

Urgent testing ordered by the Israeli government found that the milk substitute did not contain vitamin B1, which is vital to the development of babies' central nervous systems ­ even though it was listed among the ingredients. The formula is retailed by Remedia, an Israeli company 51 per cent owned by the food giant Heinz....

According to Israeli press reports, Remedia hinted it believed the product might have been sabotaged. The Israeli government had ordered the Mossad intelligence agency and the Shin Bet security service to join the investigation, the Health Ministry said yesterday.

Almost exactly four years ago, on November 11, 1999, Suha Arafat, appearing in Gaza with First Lady Hillary Clinton, declared: "Our people have been subjected to the daily and extensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children." Maybe she gave someone an idea.

Posted by David Mader at 11:05 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Tomorrow is Saint Crispian

A British soldier keeps watch out of a building near the city of Basra in southern Iraq, April 1, 2003. (Reuters - Dan Chung)
We would not die in that man's company That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the feast of Crispian: He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall live this day, and see old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars. And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.' Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, But he'll remember with advantages What feats he did that day: then shall our names. Familiar in his mouth as household words Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd. This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember'd; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Henry V (IV.iii)
See Donald Sensing for more thoughts on the eve of Remembrance Day.

Posted by David Mader at 08:55 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Still Nervous

If I wanted to test the air security around DC, I'd do it like this.

Eight miles.

I'm just saying.

Posted by David Mader at 02:59 PM | (2) | Back to Main

Al Qaida and the House of Saud

A little while ago I noted a shoot-out between Saudi security forces and al Qaida terrorists in Mecca. Today Dan Darling puts it in perspective with a comprehensive post on what the Saudis are doing about Qaida terrorism in the kingdom, what they're not doing about it, and why they're doing what they're doing (and not doing). Well worth a read.

Posted by David Mader at 10:33 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 09, 2003

The Water, The Water, The Water

Things like this make me nervous. I am, of course, something of a fatalist in terms of my expectations of another attack.

I only hope that someone is taking these things seriously enough to check them out - if only to the level of tracking those individuals under surveillance in the named cities. If there were a significant movement of persons of interest away from the named targets, I suspect we'd see an elevation of the threat level.

Still, what can I say: I'm nervous. I suppose that in a way I will continue to be nervous until the next attack. I only hope I stay nervous for a long, long time.

Posted by David Mader at 11:20 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Credit Where It's Due

Three cheers for the Italian branch of the Red Cross contingent in Iraq, which has decided to stay put while the parent organization withdraws the rest of its staff.

Posted by David Mader at 06:53 PM | (0) | Back to Main


The Wall Street Journal examines Howar Dean's Southern Strategy:

The larger issue here is that Democrats will never carry the Southern states again until they realize why they've lost them. Their conceit--fed by the Yankee media--is that it's all about race. National Democrats claim to believe they lose in the South because white men especially won't vote for civil rights liberals. They chalk it all up to their own moral superiority...

As the new Pew Research poll on voter attitudes reveals, the real Democratic problem in the South is cultural. Southerners simply don't believe that national Democrats share their values. The South is more churchgoing, while Democrats are more secular. The South is more hawkish on foreign policy, according to the Pew data, while the East and West Coast states are the most dovish.

Southern states are also the most conservative on such social questions as family and marriage, homosexuality, and ideas about good and evil. And Southerners as a whole are far more skeptical than national Democrats about the uses of government--an issue that tends to be politically defined by taxes.

This week's events will only widen this cultural and political chasm. Dr. Dean at least admitted the problem. But his party then beat him into submission--and made it even less likely that Democrats will carry a single Southern state next year.

Something about the whole Dean Southern Strategy flap has been bugging me, and I've been having trouble putting my finger on just what it was. The idea of a 'progressive' northeastern Democrat like Dean appealing to southern conservative voters struck me as somehow odd. I'm prepared to accept the Dean camp's explanation that their man was simply trying to reach a 'natural constituency' on the basis of the Democracy's role as guardian and purveyor of social services. Still, Dean's demand that southerners stop voting on 'race, guns, god and gays' - removing the condescension inherent in the charicature - is perplexing.

Dean suggests that Southerners should vote on economic rather than social considerations. Presumably he thinks the voters to whom he appeals are both socially conservative and economically 'liberal' (in the modern sense, meaning statist/interventionist). His appeal seems to be: let's work together on the economics, and the social conservatism is fine by me.

Dean's caught a lot of flak from his fellow Democratic presidential aspirants for his appeals to the social-conservative demographic. But what if he, rather than they, suggest a future trend in the Democratic party? Last month I suggested that the Republican party would eventually be split between its libertarian and social-conservative wings. (See also reader M. Simon's great post to the same effect from Winds of Change). There have been a number of explanations for Dean's decision to tread the ground he's trod, and I've found none of them to be entirely satisfactory. Is it possible, though, that regardless of his motive, he represents the earliest signs of a party realignment? If, as Simon suggests, socialism is fading to obscurity as a feasible political movement, and if the libertarian/conservative split is coming on fast, could the Democracy once again become a home for social conservatism? It seems impossible, and I think all of us who've written on the subject have anticipated that the libertarian wing would eventually be the one pushed out of the GOP. It's certainly not clear that all of those who prefer coercive government - leftists in economic matters, soc-cons in social issues - would feel comfortable in the same tent.

It's a thought, though. Perhaps, as Simon suggests in the comments here, Dean wasn't speaking to the south at all, but rather to his northern base and other Democrats. Yet if he was speaking to the south, his message must certainly have been: our similarities on intervention are greater than our differences on culture. Whether the south - or other Democrats - agree has yet to be seen.

As you can see, I'm still working on this one. But I again can't escape the thought that something is going on, and that Dean's comments reflect whatever it is.

Posted by David Mader at 02:32 PM | (2) | Back to Main

November 07, 2003

Winning the Peace

Oxblogger Josh Chafetz was recently asked to speak at the Oxford Union debate against the resolution: "This House believes that we are losing the Peace." Speaking with him were two undergraduates. Speaking for the motion were two Members of Parliament.

The motion failed by a margin of 40-odd votes.

Chafetz' argument is available here, and it serves as a very good roundup of the progress being made in Iraq.

Posted by David Mader at 12:02 PM | (1) | Back to Main

The Democracy Speech

If you haven't read it yet, read it. Not to be pushy or anything, but this was a biggie.

Comment from Andrew Sullivan, Damian Penny, David Frum.

Posted by David Mader at 11:42 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 06, 2003

The Door's Still Open

Compare this:

The unhappy truth is that, by mishandling postwar Iraq and alienating much of the world, the Bush administration has left the United States with two bad options: rebuild Iraq largely alone, at great cost in money and lives (and with no guarantee of success), or withdraw largely alone, in a Vietnam-like defeat.

with this:

One of the greatest fictions of the interminable debate on Euro-American differences over Iraq is that it’s an argument about the means, not the end. If only Bush had been a little less Texan, less arrogant, less bullying, if only he’d been less impatient and willing to put in the hours, he could have brought the French and Germans round. After all, everyone agrees Saddam Hussein is a very bad man.

Not the French and Germans. There’s too much evidence suggesting the main reason they were unable to join the Bush side in this war is that they’d already signed on to the other team and they’d decided, in the sort of ghastly vernacular the cretinous Yanks would use, to dance with them what brung you. They’re being admirably consistent about this: at the recent Madrid conference France and Germany both refused to pony up one single euro to Iraqi reconstruction. It was never about the means, only the end.

The former comes from an otherwise solid column by Peter Beinart in the New Republic. The latter comes from Mark Steyn's latest in the Spectator. You won't be surprised to hear that I'm with Steyn. For all the talk of 'alienation', what prevents France, Germany and those other countries, the involvement of whom would somehow denote 'multilateralism', from contributing to Iraqi reconstruction? It's true that the Bush administration seems to have firmly decided against allowing the UN a major role, but then the UN has proven rather unwilling to undertake the risky business of reconstruction at all.

The fact is, the US made a number of significant concessions to the Franco-German entity and the so-called 'world community' prior to the war. The most significant of these was the decision to go to the UN and ask for an enforcement of its resolutions regarding disclosure of WMD. The US could have gone ahead with regime change for its own narrow security interests and those of the region. By going to the UN, the US played the Franco-German game.

As Steyn says, the refusal of the 'world community' to respond in a constructive manner at the UN, together with its refusal to contribute to Iraqi reconstruction, reveal not an alienation but a straight-out opposition to the removal of Saddam Hussein and the construction of a democracy in the Middle East. Rather than castigating the President for his diplomatic failures, critics should condemn the 'world community', and specifically France and Germany, for its opposition to the spread of freedom.

Posted by David Mader at 05:15 PM | (3) | Back to Main

The Future of Every Nation

The President's address today at the National Endowment for Democracy was no less than a rededication of the United States to that great proposition of its conception, that all are created equal, and equally deserving of free government.

This is a tremendously important speech. It articulates the vision of freedom and democracy that is guiding this administration. It fits the war in Iraq squarely within that campaign. It identifies terrorism as a consequence of tyranny. If only we had seen this articulation a year ago.

This is a masterful speech, a document for the ages. You should read it in its entirety, available here and below. Excerpts follow, but you do yourself a disservice if you don't read the whole thing.

Historians in the future will reflect on an extraordinary, undeniable fact: Over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker. In the middle of the 20th century, some imagined that the central planning and social regimentation were a shortcut to national strength. In fact, the prosperity, and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity -- and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth....

Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path....

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people....

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind.

LATER: Jonah Goldberg: "Whether you think his ideas are monstrous or monumental, one thing's assured: your children will be reading about this speech in school. Mark my words." He's right. Via Instapundit, who has links to more reaction.

President Bush: Thank you all very much. Please be seated. Thanks for the warm welcome, and thanks for inviting me to join you in this 20th anniversary of the National Endowment for Democracy. The staff and directors of this organization have seen a lot of history over the last two decades, you've been a part of that history. By speaking for and standing for freedom, you've lifted the hopes of people around the world, and you've brought great credit to America.

I appreciate Vin for the short introduction. I'm a man who likes short introductions. And he didn't let me down. But more importantly, I appreciate the invitation. I appreciate the members of Congress who are here, senators from both political parties, members of the House of Representatives from both political parties. I appreciate the ambassadors who are here. I appreciate the guests who have come. I appreciate the bipartisan spirit, the nonpartisan spirit of the National Endowment for Democracy. I'm glad that Republicans and Democrats and independents are working together to advance human liberty.

The roots of our democracy can be traced to England, and to its Parliament -- and so can the roots of this organization. In June of 1982, President Ronald Reagan spoke at Westminster Palace and declared, the turning point had arrived in history. He argued that Soviet communism had failed, precisely because it did not respect its own people -- their creativity, their genius and their rights.

President Reagan said that the day of Soviet tyranny was passing, that freedom had a momentum which would not be halted. He gave this organization its mandate: to add to the momentum of freedom across the world. Your mandate was important 20 years ago; it is equally important today. (Applause.)

A number of critics were dismissive of that speech by the President. According to one editorial of the time, "It seems hard to be a sophisticated European and also an admirer of Ronald Reagan." (Laughter.) Some observers on both sides of the Atlantic pronounced the speech simplistic and naive, and even dangerous. In fact, Ronald Reagan's words were courageous and optimistic and entirely correct. (Applause.)

The great democratic movement President Reagan described was already well underway. In the early 1970s, there were about 40 democracies in the world. By the middle of that decade, Portugal and Spain and Greece held free elections. Soon there were new democracies in Latin America, and free institutions were spreading in Korea, in Taiwan, and in East Asia. This very week in 1989, there were protests in East Berlin and in Leipzig. By the end of that year, every communist dictatorship in Central America* had collapsed. Within another year, the South African government released Nelson Mandela. Four years later, he was elected president of his country -- ascending, like Walesa and Havel, from prisoner of state to head of state.

As the 20th century ended, there were around 120 democracies in the world -- and I can assure you more are on the way. (Applause.) Ronald Reagan would be pleased, and he would not be surprised.

We've witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the 2,500 year story of democracy. Historians in the future will offer their own explanations for why this happened. Yet we already know some of the reasons they will cite. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world's most influential nation was itself a democracy.

The United States made military and moral commitments in Europe and Asia, which protected free nations from aggression, and created the conditions in which new democracies could flourish. As we provided security for whole nations, we also provided inspiration for oppressed peoples. In prison camps, in banned union meetings, in clandestine churches, men and women knew that the whole world was not sharing their own nightmare. They knew of at least one place -- a bright and hopeful land -- where freedom was valued and secure. And they prayed that America would not forget them, or forget the mission to promote liberty around the world.

Historians will note that in many nations, the advance of markets and free enterprise helped to create a middle class that was confident enough to demand their own rights. They will point to the role of technology in frustrating censorship and central control -- and marvel at the power of instant communications to spread the truth, the news, and courage across borders.

Historians in the future will reflect on an extraordinary, undeniable fact: Over time, free nations grow stronger and dictatorships grow weaker. In the middle of the 20th century, some imagined that the central planning and social regimentation were a shortcut to national strength. In fact, the prosperity, and social vitality and technological progress of a people are directly determined by extent of their liberty. Freedom honors and unleashes human creativity -- and creativity determines the strength and wealth of nations. Liberty is both the plan of Heaven for humanity, and the best hope for progress here on Earth.

The progress of liberty is a powerful trend. Yet, we also know that liberty, if not defended, can be lost. The success of freedom is not determined by some dialectic of history. By definition, the success of freedom rests upon the choices and the courage of free peoples, and upon their willingness to sacrifice. In the trenches of World War I, through a two-front war in the 1940s, the difficult battles of Korea and Vietnam, and in missions of rescue and liberation on nearly every continent, Americans have amply displayed our willingness to sacrifice for liberty.

The sacrifices of Americans have not always been recognized or appreciated, yet they have been worthwhile. Because we and our allies were steadfast, Germany and Japan are democratic nations that no longer threaten the world. A global nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union ended peacefully -- as did the Soviet Union. The nations of Europe are moving towards unity, not dividing into armed camps and descending into genocide. Every nation has learned, or should have learned, an important lesson: Freedom is worth fighting for, dying for, and standing for -- and the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.)

And now we must apply that lesson in our own time. We've reached another great turning point -- and the resolve we show will shape the next stage of the world democratic movement.

Our commitment to democracy is tested in countries like Cuba and Burma and North Korea and Zimbabwe -- outposts of oppression in our world. The people in these nations live in captivity, and fear and silence. Yet, these regimes cannot hold back freedom forever -- and, one day, from prison camps and prison cells, and from exile, the leaders of new democracies will arrive. (Applause.) Communism, and militarism and rule by the capricious and corrupt are the relics of a passing era. And we will stand with these oppressed peoples until the day of their freedom finally arrives. (Applause.)

Our commitment to democracy is tested in China. That nation now has a sliver, a fragment of liberty. Yet, China's people will eventually want their liberty pure and whole. China has discovered that economic freedom leads to national wealth. China's leaders will also discover that freedom is indivisible -- that social and religious freedom is also essential to national greatness and national dignity. Eventually, men and women who are allowed to control their own wealth will insist on controlling their own lives and their own country.

Our commitment to democracy is also tested in the Middle East, which is my focus today, and must be a focus of American policy for decades to come. In many nations of the Middle East -- countries of great strategic importance -- democracy has not yet taken root. And the questions arise: Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom, and never even to have a choice in the matter? I, for one, do not believe it. I believe every person has the ability and the right to be free. (Applause.)

Some skeptics of democracy assert that the traditions of Islam are inhospitable to the representative government. This "cultural condescension," as Ronald Reagan termed it, has a long history. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, a so-called Japan expert asserted that democracy in that former empire would "never work." Another observer declared the prospects for democracy in post-Hitler Germany are, and I quote, "most uncertain at best" -- he made that claim in 1957. Seventy-four years ago, The Sunday London Times declared nine-tenths of the population of India to be "illiterates not caring a fig for politics." Yet when Indian democracy was imperiled in the 1970s, the Indian people showed their commitment to liberty in a national referendum that saved their form of government.

Time after time, observers have questioned whether this country, or that people, or this group, are "ready" for democracy -- as if freedom were a prize you win for meeting our own Western standards of progress. In fact, the daily work of democracy itself is the path of progress. It teaches cooperation, the free exchange of ideas, and the peaceful resolution of differences. As men and women are showing, from Bangladesh to Botswana, to Mongolia, it is the practice of democracy that makes a nation ready for democracy, and every nation can start on this path.

It should be clear to all that Islam -- the faith of one-fifth of humanity -- is consistent with democratic rule. Democratic progress is found in many predominantly Muslim countries -- in Turkey and Indonesia, and Senegal and Albania, Niger and Sierra Leone. Muslim men and women are good citizens of India and South Africa, of the nations of Western Europe, and of the United States of America.

More than half of all the Muslims in the world live in freedom under democratically constituted governments. They succeed in democratic societies, not in spite of their faith, but because of it. A religion that demands individual moral accountability, and encourages the encounter of the individual with God, is fully compatible with the rights and responsibilities of self-government.

Yet there's a great challenge today in the Middle East. In the words of a recent report by Arab scholars, the global wave of democracy has -- and I quote -- "barely reached the Arab states." They continue: "This freedom deficit undermines human development and is one of the most painful manifestations of lagging political development." The freedom deficit they describe has terrible consequences, of the people of the Middle East and for the world. In many Middle Eastern countries, poverty is deep and it is spreading, women lack rights and are denied schooling. Whole societies remain stagnant while the world moves ahead. These are not the failures of a culture or a religion. These are the failures of political and economic doctrines.

As the colonial era passed away, the Middle East saw the establishment of many military dictatorships. Some rulers adopted the dogmas of socialism, seized total control of political parties and the media and universities. They allied themselves with the Soviet bloc and with international terrorism. Dictators in Iraq and Syria promised the restoration of national honor, a return to ancient glories. They've left instead a legacy of torture, oppression, misery, and ruin.

Other men, and groups of men, have gained influence in the Middle East and beyond through an ideology of theocratic terror. Behind their language of religion is the ambition for absolute political power. Ruling cabals like the Taliban show their version of religious piety in public whippings of women, ruthless suppression of any difference or dissent, and support for terrorists who arm and train to murder the innocent. The Taliban promised religious purity and national pride. Instead, by systematically destroying a proud and working society, they left behind suffering and starvation.

Many Middle Eastern governments now understand that military dictatorship and theocratic rule are a straight, smooth highway to nowhere. But some governments still cling to the old habits of central control. There are governments that still fear and repress independent thought and creativity, and private enterprise -- the human qualities that make for a -- strong and successful societies. Even when these nations have vast natural resources, they do not respect or develop their greatest resources -- the talent and energy of men and women working and living in freedom.

Instead of dwelling on past wrongs and blaming others, governments in the Middle East need to confront real problems, and serve the true interests of their nations. The good and capable people of the Middle East all deserve responsible leadership. For too long, many people in that region have been victims and subjects -- they deserve to be active citizens.

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament; King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women. Here is how His Majesty explained his reforms to parliament: "How can society achieve progress while women, who represent half the nation, see their rights violated and suffer as a result of injustice, violence, and marginalization, notwithstanding the dignity and justice granted to them by our glorious religion?" The King of Morocco is correct: The future of Muslim nations will be better for all with the full participation of women. (Applause.)

In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer. Recent surveys in Arab nations reveal broad support for political pluralism, the rule of law, and free speech. These are the stirrings of Middle Eastern democracy, and they carry the promise of greater change to come.

As changes come to the Middle Eastern region, those with power should ask themselves: Will they be remembered for resisting reform, or for leading it? In Iran, the demand for democracy is strong and broad, as we saw last month when thousands gathered to welcome home Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy. (Applause.)

For the Palestinian people, the only path to independence and dignity and progress is the path of democracy. (Applause.) And the Palestinian leaders who block and undermine democratic reform, and feed hatred and encourage violence are not leaders at all. They're the main obstacles to peace, and to the success of the Palestinian people.

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.

The great and proud nation of Egypt has shown the way toward peace in the Middle East, and now should show the way toward democracy in the Middle East. (Applause.) Champions of democracy in the region understand that democracy is not perfect, it is not the path to utopia, but it's the only path to national success and dignity.

As we watch and encourage reforms in the region, we are mindful that modernization is not the same as Westernization. Representative governments in the Middle East will reflect their own cultures. They will not, and should not, look like us. Democratic nations may be constitutional monarchies, federal republics, or parliamentary systems. And working democracies always need time to develop -- as did our own. We've taken a 200-year journey toward inclusion and justice -- and this makes us patient and understanding as other nations are at different stages of this journey.

There are, however, essential principles common to every successful society, in every culture. Successful societies limit the power of the state and the power of the military -- so that governments respond to the will of the people, and not the will of an elite. Successful societies protect freedom with the consistent and impartial rule of law, instead of selecting applying -- selectively applying the law to punish political opponents. Successful societies allow room for healthy civic institutions -- for political parties and labor unions and independent newspapers and broadcast media. Successful societies guarantee religious liberty -- the right to serve and honor God without fear of persecution. Successful societies privatize their economies, and secure the rights of property. They prohibit and punish official corruption, and invest in the health and education of their people. They recognize the rights of women. And instead of directing hatred and resentment against others, successful societies appeal to the hopes of their own people. (Applause.)

These vital principles are being applies in the nations of Afghanistan and Iraq. With the steady leadership of President Karzai, the people of Afghanistan are building a modern and peaceful government. Next month, 500 delegates will convene a national assembly in Kabul to approve a new Afghan constitution. The proposed draft would establish a bicameral parliament, set national elections next year, and recognize Afghanistan's Muslim identity, while protecting the rights of all citizens. Afghanistan faces continuing economic and security challenges -- it will face those challenges as a free and stable democracy. (Applause.)

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization. Our coalition is responding to recent attacks with precision raids, guided by intelligence provided by the Iraqis, themselves. And we're working closely with Iraqi citizens as they prepare a constitution, as they move toward free elections and take increasing responsibility for their own affairs. As in the defense of Greece in 1947, and later in the Berlin Airlift, the strength and will of free peoples are now being tested before a watching world. And we will meet this test. (Applause.)

Securing democracy in Iraq is the work of many hands. American and coalition forces are sacrificing for the peace of Iraq and for the security of free nations. Aid workers from many countries are facing danger to help the Iraqi people. The National Endowment for Democracy is promoting women's rights, and training Iraqi journalists, and teaching the skills of political participation. Iraqis, themselves -- police and borders guards and local officials -- are joining in the work and they are sharing in the sacrifice.

This is a massive and difficult undertaking -- it is worth our effort, it is worth our sacrifice, because we know the stakes. The failure of Iraqi democracy would embolden terrorists around the world, increase dangers to the American people, and extinguish the hopes of millions in the region. Iraqi democracy will succeed -- and that success will send forth the news, from Damascus to Teheran -- that freedom can be the future of every nation. (Applause.) The establishment of a free Iraq at the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution. (Applause.)

Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty. As long as the Middle East remains a place where freedom does not flourish, it will remain a place of stagnation, resentment, and violence ready for export. And with the spread of weapons that can bring catastrophic harm to our country and to our friends, it would be reckless to accept the status quo. (Applause.)

Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace. (Applause.)

The advance of freedom is the calling of our time; it is the calling of our country. From the Fourteen Points to the Four Freedoms, to the Speech at Westminster, America has put our power at the service of principle. We believe that liberty is the design of nature; we believe that liberty is the direction of history. We believe that human fulfillment and excellence come in the responsible exercise of liberty. And we believe that freedom -- the freedom we prize -- is not for us alone, it is the right and the capacity of all mankind. (Applause.)

Working for the spread of freedom can be hard. Yet, America has accomplished hard tasks before. Our nation is strong; we're strong of heart. And we're not alone. Freedom is finding allies in every country; freedom finds allies in every culture. And as we meet the terror and violence of the world, we can be certain the author of freedom is not indifferent to the fate of freedom.

With all the tests and all the challenges of our age, this is, above all, the age of liberty. Each of you at this Endowment is fully engaged in the great cause of liberty. And I thank you. May God bless your work. And may God continue to bless America. (Applause.)

Posted by David Mader at 04:22 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Partial Birth

It's been a while, I think, since I've posted on American domestic political issues. Yesterday's signing of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban is big news, though, and deserves a word or two.

Though all of the Democratic presidential candidates have expressed their opposition to the ban to a greater or lesser degree, it's important to point out that such legislation is entirely consistent with the decision in Roe v. Wade. In a way that's self-evident; if it wasn't consistent, it wouldn't be Constitutional. Since that decision, however, proponents of abortion rights have taken an increasingly expansive view of Roe, so that even this limited and popular restriction is being cast as a fundamental challenge to the 'right to choose'.

That is, I think, a big mistake. David Frum, who's take on this caught me completely off-guard, notes that by making the abortion debate all-or-nothing, the pro-choice crowd is setting itself up for a fall. A partial-birth or late-term ban need not, and ought not, lead to a general ban on abortion.

There will, of course, be those on the right who will seek to parlay this law into further restrictions on abortion. The general American attitudes on the subject are, however, instructive: most folks have a problem with late-term abortions where the distinction between foetus and infant approaches zero. Most folks also have a problem with restricting early-term abortions where the distinction between foetus and infant are considerable. The rub, of course, is in identifying the point of separation, a stage or process the Roe court referred to as 'quickening'.

A true dialogue on abortion and the law will recognize and address this distinction. (A true dialogue on abortion and the law would also be much more receptive to both the idea of reproductive rights and the portrayal of abortion as the termination of human life; the political discourse seems to have long been too polarized to accept both.) By taking an all-or-nothing approach to aboriton rights, the pro-choice lobby not only alienates itself from the sentiment of the people, it does a disservice to the possibility of a constructive dialogue on abortion.

One last point: the ultimate resolution of the abortion issue in federal politics may be to remove it to the states, allowing them severally to delineate their own distinctions on 'quickening' and the formation of a human infant in the womb. Had proponents of abortion rights not spent the past thirty years agitating for a federal guarantee of all abortion procedures, they might now be in a position to oppose a federal ban on such procedures. Supporters of the ban may well have resorted to federal authority to proscribe what many see as murder; nonetheless, I wonder whether the campaign to make abortion a Constitutional (and therefore federal) issue made this sort of federal restriction inevitable.

Posted by David Mader at 12:51 PM | (4) | Back to Main

November 05, 2003

Dean Piles It On

Fresh off of his 'Confederate Flag' comments, Howard Dean has added to his charicature of Southern whites by telling them not to vote based on "race, guns, God and gays."

It's actually quite remarkable how Dean, whose attempt to win certain Southern white votes by appealing to a sense of safety-net statism makes quite a bit of sense, could make two such ill-advised comments. With due respect to Andrew Sullivan, it's not about political correctness. Dean may think that he's being funny or cute with these (obviously over-the-top) charicatures, but I don't think it comes across as funny or cute. I think it comes across as arrogant and condescending - and, most importantly, as North-Eastern.

I had a brief chat with one of my profs about the 'confederate' remark, and his take was that it wasn't so much a gaffe as a sign of Dean's political inexperience and his lack of understanding of the national political scene. He suggested - before news of this latest remark broke - that Dean would continue to make this kind of mistake down the road, and tonight's news seems to support that theory. I don't know how much of that perspective is driven by internal Democratic politics; I also don't know that it matters.

Ultimately, I wonder how these sorts of remarks are playing. There's been some blogosphere reaction, and there's been reaction from the other Democratic candidates. I'm interested to see the reaction from the targetted voters, though. Perhaps, for all his 'grass-roots' support, Dean isn't a man of the people after all.

UPDATE (11/6/03 12:22 PM EST): Dean has "apologized" for his Confederate flag remark - sort of. "I deeply regret the pain that I may have caused." But does he regret saying the words? This is a big gripe of mine: the gross inadequacy of public apoligies. It's not enough to be sorry that other people took offense, etc. A real apology demonstrates regret and remorse for the act committed, not simply the consequence.

Still, it's about time Dean even recognized that there was an issue. His campaign blog is already talking about moving on.

Posted by David Mader at 10:35 PM | (6) | Back to Main

November Fifth

Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason Should ever be forgot.

Posted by David Mader at 03:23 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 04, 2003

Less Than One

Guest Volkh Conspirator Cori Dauber asks what the alternative is to the 'one casualty a day' accounts trumpeted by the media.

Given the caveats that every casualty is a tragic loss, what would be less than one loss a day? The return of the zero casualty policy of the Clinton years -- which I thought had been discredited both as something which distorted mission planning and which was ultimately unworkable in a war of wills with terrorists still thinking of Lebanon and Somalia as models for American behavior. So it is worth asking again -- did September 11th change our way of thinking about the risks we face and the way we will face them, or not?


Posted by David Mader at 02:33 PM | (0) | Back to Main

Pay No Price; Bear No Burden

Howard Dean:

"[The attack] weakens the position of the president and my Democratic opponents," said Dr. Dean, a Democratic contender who, as one of the most vocal critics of the war, cited the attack on a Chinook helicopter that took the lives of 16 American soldiers on Sunday. "There are now almost 400 people dead who wouldn't be dead if that resolution hadn't been passed and we hadn't gone to war."

The victims of Saddamite Baathism, perhaps the second most brutal regime on the planet, and a lasting example of fascist dictatorship, mean nothing to this latter-day Lindbergh.

Putting all questions of WMD and the War on Terror aside, the basic justification for the invasion of Iraq was the systemic violation of the human rights of Iraqis by their own government. Iraq wasn't the only tyranny, and certianly there were (and remain) other potential targets of humanitarian intervention. The gross violations of basic humanity provided, however, a justification for regime change that transcended any geopolitical consideration.

And now Howard Dean has rejected that proposition. He has denied the basic rights of the Iraqi people; he has rejected his personal and our collective responsibility to our neighbors. So long as we live free and prosperous, says Dean, the rest of the world can go to hell. Dean's sentiments are representative of a growing segment of the Democratic Party that sees no reason to contributed troops or money to Iraq rather than spending money on themselves.

Any real liberal - any person dedicated to the universality of human freedom and impassioned by the struggle for human rights anywhere in the world - must reject this Dean-Democratic nationalist isolationism. Many already have. Let us go further; let us end the charade by which these so-called liberals mask their reactionism under the guise of idealism. What but the basest, the crassest ideals can inform the damnation of all peoples outside of American borders? What ideal but selfishness can lead one to oppose Iraqi aid money?

This is not a Democrat-versus-Republican issue. Goodness knows many in the Republican Party are driven by similar material interests and base motivations. Support for intervention does not need to entail support for the GOP. But it is a liberal-versus-illiberal issue. Those who like, Dean, reject direct American involvement in the overthrow of foreign tyranny are the enemies of liberalism.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961

Posted by David Mader at 12:47 PM | (1) | Back to Main


Though I don't often link to it, I read James Lileks' Bleat daily. After a glance at Instapundit and the headlines, it's generally my first read.

The Bleat is always fantastic, but every so often Lileks writes something that just makes me say, "yea. Yes. Exactly." Today:

Standing outside tonight (read: cigar) I watched the planes come through the fog; an amazing sight as lovely as it is commonplace. The clouds are moving fast, so the lights of the planes seem to be cutting through an army of wraiths. Excalibur! I wondered: how would this magnificent sight have struck, say, an educated Roman? You could sit down and talk law or fluid dynamics with a Roman. You could surely talk politics. You could talk art and architecture. But when the plane lanced through the fog, what would he say? Not sure, but: Just as DaVinci anticipated the helicopter, so there have always been people who could look at something beyond their technological ken and say: that is made by the hand of man. Clarke’s line about any sufficiently advanced technology being indistinquishable from magic is still good, but there are always those cold-eyed types who don’t believe in magic. Or rather don’t have time for those who ascribe everything to magic. There would be some Roman generals who’d look at a jet and think: you could use that to drop stones on Germans, you could.

Yea. We have a tendency to assume that those who came before us were less intelligent than us, because they didn't know all the things that we know. It's a terrible conceit. I'm not one of those who believe that human ingenuity has been tail-spinning since Einstein or the Enlightenment or whatever, but I think we too often conflate intelligence with knowledge. We also tend to assume that changes in knowledge and (more specifically) technology have created a different - and distinct - world from that inhabited by our ancestors. They haven't.

Posted by David Mader at 12:17 PM | (0) | Back to Main


AP - Charles Dharapak

During the last few decades, the terrorists grew to believe that if they hit America hard -- as in Lebanon and Somalia -- America would retreat and back down. Five years ago, one of the terrorists said that an attack could make America run in less than 24 hours. They have learned the wrong lesson. The United States will complete our work in Iraq. Leaving Iraq prematurely would only embolden the terrorists and increase the danger to America. We are determined to stay, to fight and to win.

President George W. Bush, November 1, 2003

Posted by David Mader at 12:55 AM | (0) | Back to Main

Shoot-out in Mecca

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia Nov. 3 (AP):

Police clashed with suspected al-Qaida sympathizers in the streets of the sacred city of Mecca on Monday, killing two militants and uncovering a cache of weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, grenades and bomb-making materials....

The confrontation began at 8 a.m., when security forces surrounded two militant hide-outs fortified by sandbags in Mecca's al-Share'a neighborhood. Police had been monitoring the locations for at least 24 hours, a security official in Mecca told AP.

"The terrorists began shooting heavily at security forces, using automatic rifles and hand grenades," the ministry official said.

While a security forces helicopter hovered, police fired back at the militants as they tried to flee in two cars, killing two militants, the security official in Mecca said. Weapons and bombs were found in the two cars.

A cache of weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles, grenades and bomb-making materials, as well as passports, identity cards and pamphlets were found in militants' hide-outs, the security official said. Some of the fliers bore pictures of Saudi-born bin Laden, al-Qaida's chief.

During Ramadan, no less. Good to see the Saudis take some action - I was going to say initiative, but one gets the feeling the real initiative wasn't theirs.

UPDATE (11:46 EST): The Guardian is reporting that the raid was "botched" as an unknown number of terrorists were able to escape.

[Via Instapundit]

Posted by David Mader at 12:17 AM | (0) | Back to Main

November 03, 2003


Reader Stern wants a comment on Mike Harris' decision not to run for the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada. The full text of Harris' statement is available here.

Some have suggested that the statement contains an ambivalence that hints at a willingness to be persuaded. I don't see that. The statement isn't polished, which suggests to me that Harris wrote it himself; in other words, it's not part of a greater strategy, drafted by his campaign staff. I think this is it for Mike.

And I think that's too bad. There's been talk of why Harris would be the wrong choice for the new party, including questions not only of his support (or lack thereof) in the East and the West, but of voter resentment in his own Ontario. I don't think the disaster that was the Eves government would necessarily taint Harris - who could invoke the days before the collapse of Common Sense government - but it's a concern.

Still, I think it would be a big mistake for the new Conservative Party to shoot for the moon in selecting a 'dynamo' or 'saviour' candidate. The Liberals, under Paul Martin, are going to win the next election. Selecting a charismatic leader in the hopes of wowing the electorate will lead to disappointment - again.

The challenge for the new Conservative Party is to choose a leader who exudes professionalism and ability. Of all the candidates-apparent, I think Harris is, or was, the most professional and capable. Among Canadian conservative politicians, I think only Ralph Klein and Preston Manning operate in the same league. Choosing Mike wouldn't have won the next election, but it would have solidified the Conservative Party as a government in waiting, a competent party based not in grievance or criticism but in policy and reason.

But I don't think it's meant to be. That's just too bad.

Posted by David Mader at 03:28 PM | (4) | Back to Main

November 02, 2003


Among the faithless, faithful only hee;
Among innumerable false, unmov'd,
Unshak'n, unseduc'd, unterrifi'd.

Milton, Paradise Lost V 897-899.

Posted by David Mader at 11:46 PM | (6) | Back to Main

Mahathir and Arab Introspection

An interesting piece today from the AP: Arabs Get Introspective After Mahathir:

Mahathir Mohamad has been denounced in the West and applauded by many Muslims for voicing the old anti-Semitic belief that "Jews rule the world." But the outgoing Malaysian leader's remarks have also widened the debate among Arabs about whether they should look to themselves, not the Jews and Israel, to explain their predicament.
"Isn't it time that Muslims look at the reasons for the state we're in, or do we really live in the Dark Ages?" says columnist Bakr Oweida.

"Those who cheer or jeer (Mahathir) have paid little attention to most of what Mahathir said," Oweida wrote in an editorial last week in the Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat. "Mahathir put his finger on some points of extreme importance.... Why have Muslims lagged behind in all aspects of life for five centuries?"
"The issue of democracy in Arab nations must not remain a prisoner of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," wrote Hassan Muneima in a commentary on Mahathir in the Al-Hayat daily, which like Asharq al-Awsat is published in London but distributed across the Arab world.

Calls for reform have increased since the Sept. 11 attacks. A U.N.-sponsored report by a group of Arab experts, issued last month, pointed to the lack of freedom of expression, access to knowledge and empowerment of women as key impediments to Arab development.

Read the whole thing. This, of course, is what needs to happen if this war with radical Islam is to end in a lasting peace. It's also why the targetting of Arab tyrannies, even the so-called 'secular' Baathist tyrannies, is so important in defeating Islamism.

I'm a little worried to see that Mahathir is regarded as an example of successful moderation; we can only hope, I suppose, that his successors reject his scape-goating of 'the Jews' and instead turn to domestic reform and development.

The article notes that a trend of introspection has already begun. More of the same, please.

Posted by David Mader at 03:36 PM | (0) | Back to Main

November 01, 2003

Dean's Southern Strategy

I actually don't know what to make of this:

Dems battle over Confederate flag

(CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean sparked criticism from his rivals Saturday after invoking the Confederate flag in a defense of his views on gun control.

"I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," the former Vermont governor said in an interview published Saturday in the Des Moines Register. "We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats."

It was at least the second time Dean publicly used the Confederate flag to describe Southern voters who often vote for Republicans.

Dean previously used the flag reference during a February meeting of the Democratic National Committee.

At that event, Dean received a rousing ovation from the crowd when he said, "White folks in the South who drive pickup trucks with Confederate flag decals on the back ought to be voting with us, and not [Republicans], because their kids don't have health insurance either, and their kids need better schools too."

On the one hand, Dean's comment is breathtaking for its condescension in denigrating southern whites; on the other, can we expect those who blasted Goldwater and Nixon for their 'Southern strategy' to likewise castigate Dean? Certainly the other candidates have, but their criticisms have centered on the issue of gun control rather than race.

More later.

Posted by David Mader at 10:39 PM | (2) | Back to Main