Saturday, October 05, 2002
thoughts of a card-carrying Boeotian ...Dave Trowbridge has done it again; he's got me thinking. Cut it out, Dave, I gotta get some sleep! He pointed me to a very lucid summary of the arguments for regime change vs. disarmament, by Dwight Meredith. It's good stuff, it's lucid, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with parts of it.
In the first section: Possible reasons for regime change, I'm not happy with several points. Points 1 and 2 seem very reasonable.
#3 ... it is difficult to believe that we would fight a costly war (costly both in human and financial terms) over whether or not the oil-rich leaders of Kuwait received reparations from Iraq.
The emphasis on the idea that we are fighting to gain 'war reparations for Kuwait' is an unfair debating trick, putting forth the most trivial demand as if it were central. Other issues like the prisoners are glossed over.
#4. Not quite a fair argument. The Iraqis would still be liberated even if they ended up with an authoritarian government such as in Jordan or Kuwait. Saddam has nine different Gestapos competing for victims. Even an ordinary Arab government would be a vast improvement. Also #4 quickly slides into Imperial America that will reshape the entire Middle East and eventually the world, as if that has to be logically considered along with liberating Iraq. Not fair, it's a separate issue. (Also, any Iraqi government is going to sell oil; that's not really an issue.)
I would add a fifth argument. We are deeply involved with Iraq. We must consider the moral responsibilities that follow. We fought a war and massively bombed them, imposed sanctions. We even aided Saddam at one point. He is as brutal a dictator as Hitler was. Imagine that we had fought WWII, then negotiated a cease-fire and walked away without invading Germany. "Tough luck for those folks in the concentration camps. Hitler's not a problem, as long as we're safe."
In the Invasion for Regime Change section, it looks like most of the author's energy was put into the downside risks. The upside arguments are weak, and the strawman of reparations to Kuwait is again emphasized as if it were very important. There are stronger arguments that should have been included. Toppling one terror-supporting dictator will tend to set the tide running against the others. Also, much of our terrorism problem stems from the perception that America won't fight back. Only some serious fighting is going to change that (and if that perception is changed it will probably save lives in the future.
As for the downside risks:
1. There will be deaths, but these should be balanced against the deaths that will occur if we don't invade. Conditions in Iraq are very bad, and children really are starving. Our invasion of Afghanistan brought in relief supplies that certainly saved far more lives than the fighting cost.
2. The pool of alienated Muslims seems doubtful. Defeating the Taliban certainly hasn't had that effect. And destabilize much of the Middle East could just as well be an upside. It's likely to be our enemies who are destabilized. Especially Iran. Also, even the craziest regimes still pump oil. And we now have troops and bases in Pakistan. If a Islamic Revolution occurs, we'll surely grab those bombs.
3. Yes those are dangers. But which Arab countries are really keen to attack Israel? They know they'll lose. And Israel's precision munitions are just as good as ours. They could devastate Saddam's military, for instance, without massive civilian casualties.
4. A good point. But what we are trying to achieve is preemptive strike with international consensus.
5. Possibly. But right now a lot of governments are cooperating, including many who are officially opposed to our policies, and I don't think it's because they admire our pacifism. invading Afghanistan seems to have helped, not hindered.
6. Possibly, but these are also possible upsides. For instance, the present de-facto Kurdish state seems to be easing the Turk/Kurd problems.
The arguments in the For Disarmament section are strong, and the proposed inspectors would have teeth. Good. But again the arguments are slanted -- this is obviously the position that is intended to look best. For instance, Saddam might also be protective of his life in the event of an invasion. The argument about Bush taking a vacation is not useful; our military buildup and planning didn't stop in August, nor was Bush out of touch with affairs. No President ever is. The author says he suspects that Bush knows Saddam has no WMD capability, and seems to think this is a valid argument. Do I get to say I suspect Iraq has a Quadium Bomb?
Anyway, this guy Meredith seems to have his thinking cap on, and is very worth reading. But I'm afraid I'm coming at these things with very different values, and there often isn't really a meeting of minds. My hero, in my present mood, is Epaminondas, and I revere the big-hearted Boeotian bumpkins who marched in winter into the Peloponnese, defeated the Spartans, and liberated the Helots. They were better souls than the calculating and amoral Athenians. They were real men. We should emulate them.
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turning over rocks...Yesterday I read this in Best of the Web:
...The doctor just said, 'Well, it is a strange victory if daily children are dying of hunger.' That was enough. Someone heard him. He was taken, tortured for three weeks and brought back a broken person. Letting one sentence slip is cause enough for a person to vanish into an Iraqi prison or even to be killed."--German humanitarian worker Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, interviewed in Ha'aretz, Oct. 4...I'm thinking, what an object lesson Bush is serving up for the world: Leftists of every stripe, after yammering about Fascism for decades, are squirming, twisting, wriggling, writhing in agony, trying to avoid attacking a fascist dictator.
A cruel spotlight is now illuminating the most grotesque sorts of hypocrisy. For an instance, the recent expression of doubts by some retired generals had leftists immediately saying the the decision to go to war should not be in the hands of civilians !
SO, Seeing what an education this has been for all those with eyes to see, I propose another object-lesson. I would like to see President Bush announce that we are also going to invade Sudan.
In Sudan, blacks are currently being massacred and enslaved by the MILLIONS. By Arabs. This story has not been of much interest to the the press, or to Archbishops and academics -- perhaps because it might take some of the luster off their shining moral crusade against Israel. Colin Powell, (just one of those racist Republicans, pay no attention) calls it ''the worst human rights nightmare on the planet.''
It will be a right treat to see members of the Black Congressional Caucus flying to Khartoum, so as to discover that those stories about slavery are just lies by Bush; and that we should take the Sudanese leaders at face value when they say that their darkies are happy, and sing while they work. Or to see Jesse Jackson demanding reparations for slavery, while also opposing the evil War Against Sudan. And Multi-culturalists will have another aspect of Arab culture to be understanding about ... The Archbishop of Bormeenia will have a subtle and nuanced explanation of why 'international law' won't let us free the slaves.
Remember, war is harmful to children and other living things...
Friday, October 04, 2002
my response to that ad...The Dems have recently posted a web ad with Bush pushing a screaming old woman off a cliff. Lovely folks.
If Republican leaders really believed the free-market ideas they pay lip service to, they might respond thusly...
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Thursday, October 03, 2002
flakes from a Trichinopoly ...I recommend a recent NRO piece by Stanley Kurtz:
...More than that, I am certain that the real explanation of the president's political forbearance is his determination to get a strong congressional resolution in support of the war. The president could have gone on the attack and shamed Bonior and McDermott for their words and actions, thus throwing the Democrats on the defensive weeks before a virtually tied election. And if, as a result, fewer congressional Democrats voted in support of the war, that vote could have been held over the heads of the doves for years after, just as with the Gulf War vote. But instead of attacking when the Democrats were vulnerable, the president threw away the partisan opportunity of a lifetime, in exchange for an attempt to forge a genuine national consensus about a war that he knows is necessary."...partisan opportunity of a lifetime..." Chew on that.
If you look at W's past record, (and it's interesting how little attention it gets) you find that he seems to have acted in the past much like he does now. His record is all of a piece. (It's also interesting how different puppet-masters produce the same results.) He was notably successful as Governor of Texas, despite having a legislature controlled by Democrats. He tried from the first to work peacefully with the legislature, and since some of those Dems were sincerely interested in helping the state, once they got to know him they were willing to cooperate.
Some friends of mine have been examining the statements of the administration with particular care, and finding evidence of devious trickiness. Maybe they're right, and certainly we should never be too trusting of politicians.
But I suspect they are like a Sherlock so focused on tiny flakes of cigar-ash, they overlook a smoking-gun in plain sight. I myself see a lot of obtrusive evidence that we have a President who is an honorable Christian gentleman (this in the White House is a rare and fabulous beast, last seen in perhaps 1932). And he has gathered a multi-talented administration that's working together without noticeable infighting and backstabbing. When was that last seen??
And somebody I read recently said that 'they' are "shouting-down all opposition." Brutal, those right-wingers...
Gibes from my imaginary critics prompt me to add that I am not defending the administration's policies, some of which I disagree with...
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our state socialism beats theirs...Rand Simberg has a splendid post on --you guessed it -- space:
...Because we were nominally a capitalist nation, America had much more wealth and ingenuity to throw at the problem, and we won. We beat the Soviets to the Moon.
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Word note...In the quote about Samuel Pepys yesterday (it's pronounced peeps, by the way), I was really thrown by the word Bezan. Dictionaries and Pepysian reference books were pulled out in vain. Then I Googled Bezan+ship and had the answer in 30 seconds:
...Charles II became very fond of yachting; and besides many yachts which were designed for him by Sir Phineas Pett, he is credited with having desired one for himself, named Jamaie, which was built at Lambeth.The Hope which Pepys mentions is a stretch of the Thames below Gravesend,
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waiting for retractionIn #42, the Krugman Squad recently wrote about Krugman's accusations against Tom White. Here's an NRO article is about the retraction of the piece that Krug based his column on:
...Yesterday, Salon published another editor's note. "After careful review," the note said, "Salon's editors have decided to take down from our Web site an article titled 'Tom White played key role in covering up Enron losses' that we published on Aug. 29. We took this unusual step because we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer stand by the story in its entirety...
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update...I don't know if anyone is interested, but the Law Office project has moved ahead with the addition of the small table, which I made to go with those two chairs. I made the table-top from a pretty piece of birds-eye maple plywood that I had tucked away years ago...
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Dull Sam...Natalie Solent just mentioned some creature who ranks Samuel Pepys with the worthy but dull. I'm too dull a fellow myself to properly refute this, so I will quote another dull chap:
...The whole world, town or country, was to Pepys a garden of Armida. Wherever he went his steps were winged with the most eager expectation; whatever he did, it was done with the most lively pleasure. An insatiable curiosity in all the shows of the world and all the secrets of knowledge, filled him brimful of the longing to travel, and supported him in the toils of study. Rome was the dream of his life; he was never happier than when he read or talked of the Eternal City. When he was in Holland, he was 'with child' to see any strange thing. Meeting some friends and singing with them in a palace near the Hague, his pen fails him to express his passion of delight, 'the more so because in a heaven of pleasure and in a strange country.'
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encouraging political debate...Some neighbors left a flyer on my doorstep, urging me to do what I can to stop this war, by daily calling the Senators and Congressmen who 'represent' me. Well, go for it, neighbors, do what you can to drag your party into the idiotarian swamps. I was about to say drag your party leftward, but that can't be the correct word -- the left has been denouncing Fascism as long as I can remember, so surely they will be delighted with a chance to remove a genuine Grade-A-Prime fascist dictator? Wouldn't you think so?
Perhaps I'll call Senators Boxer and Feinstein and tell them I'll never vote for them if they support this wicked attempt by President Bush to liberate the people of Iraq, and impose the evils of capitalism on their happy socialist state.
Actually, as a Republican, I'm concerned over the recent slide of the Dems into screwball realms. We need two parties, and if the Democrats dissolve into McGovernite irrelevance again, they may summon another Nixon up from the depths.
We need a loyal opposition. The party in power needs quality criticism. Government is like a car driven by an almost-blind man. And democracy is like roadside barriers that the car keeps crashing into, and bouncing back into the roadway amid grinding noises and clouds of rust. Even the best people, once they get into government, are likely to go astray.
Clearly my expectations of government are very low. For instance, I haven't been able to get too worked up about Gerhard Schroeder, even though he is being dishonorable and foolish to an extreme. And I didn't find myself agreeing with a recent post by Dave T, where he dissected various inaccurate statements by members of the administration, and likened them to a mendacious pattern of lies. Me, I think that webloggers can be held to truth-standards of the most minute exactitude, but if government is even remotely close to correct, we should say Hallelujah, honest politicians at last...
On the other hand, for nations I have very high expectations. If Germany turns into marshmallow fudge, I am cruelly disappointed. Likewise France. If they fail the tests of our time, it's as if my aunts and uncles were discovered to be fools and wastrels.
Actually, I think all human groups tend to turn into that "blind driver." The successful groups are the ones that have something to smack them back into the roadway. Businesses get bumped by competitors and the Stock Market. Voluntary groups lose their volunteers, or their donations.
The tragedy of the modern era is that nobody has discovered a way to bump and thump government bureaucracies back onto the road. That would be an invention to outshine the light-bulb, or the Internet...
My imaginary critics point out that I'm being inconsistent; saying government needs good criticism, then dismissing Dave's criticism with a wave of the hand. Noted. Tough. And no, I'm not going to get a 'comments' feature and let strangers trample through my weblog with muddy boots. Anyway, the imaginary peanut-gallery is noisy enough..
Monday, September 30, 2002
Sunday, September 29, 2002
Now let's all sing "Blowin' In The Wind"(This is an enlargement on a comment I put in one of Bill Quick's posts. The post itself is a collection of SF idiocy so bad it stunned even me.)
...Andy's sure right about the two sides switching places. I think that the image or picture of stuffy puritans that the young of the not-too-distant future will rebel against may not be American Gothic; but maybe a lefty professor in tweed jacket, grizzled beard and pipe... or perhaps a shrill "feminist" who wants to end date-rape (except by prominent Democratic politicians) by outlawing dating.
Not long ago I transported some teenagers on a camping trip in my van, and I told them I didn't want to listen to rap music on the way. One impertinent young miss said: what do you listen to, Tony Bennett? Well, it wasn't very witty because she was off by a whole generation. The truly cruel put-down of a boomer-turned-grown-up would be: What do you listen to, Peter Paul and Mary? (Or even the Rolling Stones, the poor old fellows. ) It's painful to think, but they're still out there, Peter Paul and Mary, singing "If I Had a Hammer," supporting lefty causes... but now they're trying to stave off change! A Liberal Activist is someone trying to preserve sclerotic government programs that were invented when I was a youth. Or trying to pretend we are still in the Civil Rights Era. In other words, probably a pompous stick-in-the-mud.
It used to be that if there was an over-the-top comedian who said impudent things that outraged stuffed-shirt reactionaries, they would always be coming from the left. Who's doing it now? Ann Coulter. When people make niggling criticisms of Ann's factual accuracy, they're showing that they just don't get it. They don't even see that they are part of the jape; she pulls their noses and pokes them in the eye, and the best part of the jest is the ponderous shock and outrage of the straight-man.
Ploffff, a cream pie in the face...we should convert all those Moslems to Christianity! Cream pie wiped off red spluttering stammering face....She can't SAY that... it's, it's, it's, it's TERRIBLE...Ploooffff, another cream pie...I have to say I'm all for public flogging...
I'm just glad I'm alive to see such times.
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Tip: moving Eudora's address book to OS-XPerry de Havilland at Samizdata asked me if I knew how to move his Eudora address book to Apple's new Mail program. I felt very wizardly and clever knowing the answer.
If you go here, you will find a program to export Eudora addresses to V-Cards, which the OS-X Address Book can import. The neat thing is that all OS-X programs can or will be able to use one Address Book. You won't need seperate lists for e-mail, faxes, Christmas cards ...
Update: I just noticed a post that Perry wrote, with a picture of a cancer-hospital employee taking a cigarette break. I can top that, I once knew a noted authority on emergency-room medicine. He wouldn't wear a seatbelt! But my father could have topped my story. He was a nurseryman, and knew a plant pathologist, an expert in plant diseases. The man was a Christian Scientist, and didn't believe in human diseases!