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Friday, March 21, 2003

It is true Saddam is not the only threat. But it is true also - as we British know - that the best way to deal with future threats peacefully, is to deal with present threats with results. --Tony Blair

I'd call "serious mistake" an understatement...

Found in Brothers Judd Blog:
...Former [Turkish] Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis referred to the financial aid shock and said, "we thought that the United States needed our assistance and made a serious mistake. It was revealed that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government made a strategic mistake during the negotiations with the United States." Yakis, who played an active role at negotiations with the United States, noted, "we did not believe that the United States had had the Plan B. We thought that the United States needed Turkey to open the northern front."...

...The United States informed Israel before the attack while Ankara learnt it on CNN International. Replying questions of reporters who asked whether the United States had informed Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, "no"....

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Charles Krauthamer writes...

...passionately, Don't Go Back to the U.N.
... What happened? Americans finally had a look inside the sausage factory. Their image of the United Nations as a legitimating institution had always been deeply sentimental, based on the United Nations of their youth -- UNICEF, refugee help, earthquake assistance. A global Mother Teresa. That's what they thought of the United Nations, and that's why they held it in esteem and cared about what it said. Now they know that it is not UNICEF collection boxes but a committee of cynical, resentful, ex-imperial powers such as France and Russia serving their own national interests -- and delighting in frustrating America's -- without the slightest reference to the moral issues at stake. The American public understands that this is not a body with which to entrust American values or American security...

... The Security Council is nothing more than the victory coalition of 1945. That was six decades ago. Let a new structure be born out of the Iraq coalition. Maybe it will acquire a name, maybe it won't. But it is this coalition of freedom -- led by the United States and Britain and about 30 other nations, including such moderate Arab states as Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar -- that should set and institutionalize the terms for postwar Iraq. Not the Security Council...

Thursday, March 20, 2003

I'm quaking in my boots...

One woeful prophecy seems to be inoperative now: Oil prices are falling; futures in NY just fell by $1.88 a barrel...

BUT, don't relax. We've been told so many times by so many that an attack on Iraq will cause new waves of terrorist martyrs to spring up--surely those people can't all be wrong? Remember, there's nothing like crushing defeat to bring out the resilience, the spine, the backbone, the grit, the obstinacy, the deep reserves of principled courage that are such conspicuous features of Arab culture. We're sowing the wind here, folks...

Actually I shouldn't be sarcastic. I would estimate that if any Arab country ever had a government that represented its people, that the people considered their own--they would be likely to defend their country with the same courage that Israelis and Americans and Turks have shown defending theirs...

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

In which I find I'm less alone than I thought...

Natalie Solent recently wrote:
...Add that to the potential high cost of getting into a row - namely, that I might have to track down another repairman as good - and it just wasn't worthwhile. Besides, I dislike verbal debates unless I know my interlocutor and am confident that he or she won't get angry. I am too much swung by emotion face to face, and have a tendency to conciliate and conciliate and then suddenly get irritated and strike like a viper.

Anyway, I'm saving it up for you guys. Pity to waste good viper venom on an audience of one...
That could be describing me. Usually I'm all appeasement, at least face to face with people I know. I'm only pugnacious on the old weblog. But once in a great while I get tipped over the edge.

It happened yesterday. My daughter's school is a hothouse of trendy liberalism in liberal town. (She's very fed-up with it, I think she has already been seared into conservative-Republicanism for life.) Anyway, some leftizoid parent hijacked the school's e-mail list (strictly verboten) and sent everyone an anti-war message, calling for a candle-light vigil to protest America's ...unimaginable firestorm of carnage, bloodshed, destruction and death upon the innocent families of Iraq...

WELL, I lost it. I used the same list and slammed back with a heavyweight response within the hour. Friends, I've been warblogging since 11/2001, and I was ready! Usually I'm the guy who thinks of the clever cutting remark a day late. But not this time. I was ready...
...Since you have however, I will respond by saying that WE (Americans) are going to put an end to the decades of carnage and murder and torture and starvation that Saddam has inflicted on the people of Iraq, where MILLIONS of civilians have died, while people like YOU have sat smugly and cared nothing.

OUR 'bombing' will use advanced weapons that can hit military targets with extreme precision, causing few civilian deaths. (Unless Saddam places civilians inside military areas, a war crime that people like YOU will never hold a candle-light vigil over.) Also WE have been putting enormous effort into persuading Iraqi soldiers to surrender, so we will not have to kill them.

WE are removing a cruel fascist dictator. YOU are trying to help him.

WE are planning to deliver large amounts of humanitarian aid even while fighting is going on. YOU will do nothing but sneer.

WE have already written contracts for rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq. YOU will do nothing positive or helpful.

WE are planning to give Iraq representative government. YOU will do nothing.

WE are going to let the Iraqi people chose their own future, just as we did with the conquered people of Germany, Italy and Japan. People like YOU are never very keen on giving such 'power to the people.'

I am proud to be among those who act boldly for the future freedom and prosperity of the world.
Then I sat back and waited to be reviled and critcized.

But, funny thing, I started getting messages saying "thank you." About 15 so far. People saying that they were so glad someone felt like they did, and spoke up. One gal we know called to say I had brought tears to her husband's eyes! Amazin day.

I'm sure there were plenty who loathed my response, but they haven't said much... Perhaps they are taken aback. Perhaps they sense the ground shifting a little beneath their feet...who knows.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Ha! No more Pringles for you guys...

I was thrilled by this news article: Bush Has Audacious Plan to Rebuild Iraq Within Year :
The Bush plan, as detailed in more than 100 pages of confidential contract documents, would sideline United Nations development agencies and other multilateral organizations that have long directed reconstruction efforts in places such as Afghanistan and Kosovo. The plan also would leave big nongovernmental organizations largely in the lurch: With more than $1.5 billion in Iraq work being offered to private U.S. companies under the plan, just $50 million is so far earmarked for a small number of groups such as CARE and Save the Children...
I found this on Bill Quick's Blog, and he wrote: If true, this is excellent news. The last thing the military governors of Iraq need are swarms of UN Toyota Taliban buzzing about pretending they are lords of creation even as they milk the NGO process for as much as the traffic will bear while irritating the locals to the greatest extent possible...

Amen to that, brother. VERY good news. I remember reading the lament of an Afghan official, trying to cater to the whims of the NGO'ers who descended in swarms on his country. He said, They want Pringles provided everywhere they go!

Someone wrote in Bill's comments that Every dollar used to rebuild a hospital or a road is a dollar that won't be spent on food or medicine. Blogger Robert Crawford replied well:

Who will be working on those hospitals and roads? Not the engineers and managers, necessarily, but the laborers? Chances are they'll be Iraqis.

Will their salaries simply disappear into thin air? Or will they spend some of their money on food? And some of it on medicine and medical care?

That, by the way, is how you build a prosperous country. Not by flooding it with free goods and services, but by providing jobs that let people earn the wealth to buy what they want.

Hopefully, the Iraqis will use that wealth as a "leg up" to start a real economy, not an oil-tick welfare state.
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Some friendly words from Tony Parsons in the Mirror
...It has been good to be British in America these past few weeks.

For America has been reminded that Britain is the best friend it has in the world, joined by blood, language, history, instinct and culture.

When will the British wake up from their pathetic little dreams of being Europeans and realise that we have been looking for our future in all the wrong places?

Who wants to be European today? Who wants to be an ungrateful, unprincipled, two-faced, pacifist, Euro-grasping, oil-hungry Lilliputian?

No matter what happens over the coming days and weeks, it is true what they say. The English Channel is far wider than the Atlantic.

(via Betsy's Page)

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P. Krugman
#83: Back in the Loony Bin

In football it’s "three and out", in baseball it’s "0 for 4" and in golf it’s a "triple bogie"
We’re not sure what to call the equivalent "badge of failure" in journalism, but Paul Krugman is clearly probing for it in Things to Come (03/18/03). Faced with the responsibility of writing a New York Times column on the eve of war, he reached down deep and came up with a rabid anti-war column filled with feral partisanship and pacifist slogans. Perhaps the sports analogy we are looking for could come from basketball. Krugman tried to hit a jump shot at the buzzer and threw up an op-ed "air-ball" instead.
Consider the following quote:

Victory in Iraq won’t end the world’s distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn’t play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court–all in just two years.
This passage is breathtaking in its anti-American rhetoric. For example, most thoughtful people believe that it was the 9/11 hijackers and the States sponsoring them who did not play by the rules and that, once broken, the rules can never be the same. The Bush administration has simply responded to that new reality. Beyond that, we wonder how Krugman could possibly argue in favor of many of the measures he accuses the U.S. of telling Europe to "take a hike on."
For example, global warming comes down to the Kyoto treaty. It’s rare to find the U.S. Senate unanimous on anything, but they voted down Kyoto 99 to zip. We doubt there is an economist on the planet that would support capping greenhouse emissions at 1990 levels. We would love to hear Krugman try to make that case.
Likewise, the annulment of the missile defense treaty was largely a non-event. The New York Times objected more than the Russians. It was a cold war relic and about a relevant today as price controls on whale oil. Again we wonder how Krugman would his case.
As for his comments about immigration and Mexico, they are complete jokes. No responsible official in the wake of 9/11 could overlook the control of our borders. Hoe does he think the hijackers got here? What are the Mexicans in favor of? Open borders? Where does Krugman stand on border control we wonder?
We could go on, but readers no doubt get the idea. As we have noted before, Krugman’s anti-war columns seem straight from the loony bin. And as the war winds down and the economic recovery revives his columns may get loonier still. Interestingly, last week, Krugman compared President Bush to the loony Captain Queeg in Herman Wouk’s fictional work "The Caine Mutiny". Krugman may soon see a better comparison by just looking in the mirror. We can almost hear those little steel balls clicking now.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions. You can find Paul Krugman's writings, including the latest columns, here]
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Well, I express a lot of my rage in the voting booth...

Shekhar Gupta, writing in the Indian Express, has an interesting article: Globalisation of Revenge: When you are angry with your ruler and can’t complain, you target his patrons in the West. He notes that while India has huge numbes of Muslims, none of them were involved in 9/11.
...Could it be that this entire formulation is flawed? That the Indian Muslims are actually as sullen as those of the Middle East and Europe, but they find — mostly — a different way of seeking revenge? They hated Farooq Abdullah in Kashmir as New Delhi’s despotic stooge and defied terrorist bullets to vote him out. They believe the Congress double-crossed them on Babri, so they are still punishing it by banishing it from Uttar Pradesh and, thereby, from national power...
...defied terrorist bullets to vote him out...Need one say more? (via Betsy's Page, I think it was)

* Nope, wrong, it was from Craig Schamp. And he heard about it from a friend in India. Cool how information moves around. (And depressing to think how so many people have just increased their immune-response to any information that might cause them to think...)

Sunday, March 16, 2003

I'm awaiting the memoirs with keen anticipation...

...Someday around 2010 we will really know what's really going on right now. One question on my mind: Are Rumsfeld's indiscretions planned? Scripted? Calculated? Here's a good article from the Sunday Telegraph (via Orrin Judd):
Profile: Donald Rumsfeld

A headline in Friday's Washington Post captures perfectly the Rumsfeld Effect: "Anti-US Sentiment Abates in South Korea; Change Follows Rumsfeld Suggestion of Troop Cut". Change Follows Rumsfeld Suggestion: there's a slogan for the age, and it's fast becoming the First Law of Post-9/11 Geopolitics...

... Other politicians sweat for weeks over a major 90-minute policy speech, hire the best writers, craft memorable phrases, and nobody notices. If you want to "re-shape the debate", as the cliche has it, all you need is a casual aside from Rummy. The concept of "old Europe" barely existed until Rumsfeld used it as a throwaway line a month and a half ago. Within a week, it became the dominant regional paradigm. Belgium - Old Europe. Bulgaria - New Europe. The entire map of the continent suddenly fell into place for the first time since the Cold War. Even those who indignantly huffed about this unacceptable insult seemed unable to resist confirming the truth of it...

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Ari Fleischer at the 3-14 Press Briefing...

Q -- I have one more. On Miguel Estrada, two failed crucial votes, and another scheduled for next Tuesday. How long is the President going to continue this stalemate, when it is now obvious Democrats won't budge on the nomination?

MR. FLEISCHER: I think the issue is how long will the liberal Democrats choose to pursue obstruction. The President has already answered his part of that question, and he says he will continue to fight of Miguel Estrada until the day he is sworn-in.