Wednesday, April 30, 2003
A small cabal of Jewish neoconservatives scheme behind the scenes of the White House, manipulating the dimwitted President and his weak Cabinet into foreign relations policies that serve the whims of Israel. The plot of the latest potboiler to air on Egyptian TV? No, it's actually a current pet conspiracy theory of people such as Michael Lind, Eric Alterman, and Edward Said. And it's not cropping up only among these usual suspects: I also have heard it from figures like former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who endorsed this theory in the presentation I blogged about previously (although I didn't mention this aspect there).
Just in case you need formal negation of this silliness, Robert J. Lieber provides it in a Chronicle of Higher Education article showing this conspiracy theory is unfounded. Lieber points out how the theory misrepresents the composition and views of Bush Administration officials, and actually echoes traditional anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Monday, April 28, 2003
THE U.N. THREAT TO POST-WAR IRAQ, PART 3
Adding to the voices pointed out before, Rachel Belton also warns not to put the United Nations in charge of reconstructing Iraq, suggesting instead that it should be the U.S. military:
But countering this anti-U.N. consensus is David Plotz of Slate, who argues that the U.N. should be in charge of political rebuilding:
I wonder, though, whether the U.N. versus U.S. distinction will be a meaningful one for those inclined to consider the leader a foreign puppet. Regardless, I encourage you to read Plotz' article since it has some excellent thoughts on nurturing democracy in post-war Iraq.
THE MIDDLE-EARTH PIPEWEED CONSPIRACY
Here's a great spoof of Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn discussing the Fellowship of the Ring movie: Part 1 and Part 2. Some good lines:
And some amazingly appropriate statements for these Lefty hucksters:
Friday, April 25, 2003
THE AMAZING APOCALYPSE WATCH!
Now, for the Hal Lindseys and Jack van Impes on your gift-giving list, it's The Amazing Apocalypse Watch! This fine timepiece gives you the thoroughly Biblically-based lowdown on the day and hour of the Second Coming. Never needs winding or batteries, and is accurate in every time zone on the planet. Don't be Left Behind, get yours today!
Monday, April 21, 2003
INGSOC MAKES A NEOCON
The new issue of City Journal is online, and you know what that means: Hours of distraction for Varenius! But enough welcome complaining. One of the more noteworthy articles this quarter is "Up from Liberalism" by Janet Daley. Daley was a '60s Berkeley liberal until mugged by reality in the form of living under socialism in Britain of the day. In addition to democratic socialism being unable to deliver the promised goods, she also saw that it reinforced and exacerbated the worst aspects of the British class system:
Go read the whole thing for the full story. I found Daley's essay especially interesting because just recently I finished reading Joshua Muravchik's Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, which has a chapter on Clement Atlee's Labour Party and post-war British socialism that provides the broader context of her story. If Daley's article grabs your interest, definitely check out Muravchik's book. (I'm planning to review it here, as soon as I manage to write some other entries I've been wanting to post.)
Daley and McCarthyism
I was particularly fascinated by Daley's telling of the influence of McCarthyist sentiment on her high-school education:
This is remarkable to me because it seems so alien to my experience in the classroom 25 years later -- I can't imagine anything like this going on (and I don't mean merely on this subject).
But it also reminds me that I'm growing a bit impatient with criticism of the "McCarthyite '50s." Don't get me wrong -- McCarthy was a demagogue, and I am against propaganda of whatever stripe in the classroom. What I have a problem with is the portrayal of 1950s anti-Communism as resulting from hysteria and paranoia that often underlies this criticism (though this doesn't seem to be the case with Daley, I must add). As archives such as the recently released Venona decryptions prove, the claims of the anti-Communists were largely true. Soviet agents really were embedded in every major government agency. The Rosenbergs were thoroughly guilty. Alger Hiss was a spy. The majority of Communist Party members in the U.S. were engaged in espionage. To look back from our post-Cold War safety and sneer at the supposedly simple-minded Philistines is inexcusable ignorance at best and willful ideological blindness at worst.
* "Ingsoc" is George Orwell's abbreviation for "English Socialism" in his novel 1984.
Friday, April 18, 2003
UPDATE ON IRAQI MARSHES
As I previously reported here, one of Saddam Hussein's many crimes has been the intentional destruction of the Mesopotamian Marshlands. Now that his regime has been overthrown, plans for their restoration are being drawn up. This new article lists some of the key figures pushing for restoration and details what the process will involve.
THE U.N. THREAT TO POST-WAR IRAQ, REDUX
Echoing the thoughts pointed out here, George Kerevan agrees that U.N. control of Iraq's recovery would be a disaster. In addition to the problems in Kosovo pointed out by Schwartz, Kerevan adds Haiti and Rwanda to the dirty laundry list of U.N. oversight fiascoes, prompting him to conclude:
The piece closes with a brief consideration of alternatives to the U.N. and a rejection of them in favor of a radical reform of the organization.
Thursday, April 17, 2003
SUN TZU IN IRAQ
Do we have Sun Tzu's The Art of War to thank for Operation Iraqi Freedom having gone so well? Mark McNeilly thinks so, outlining how prominent features of our strategy correspond with the master's principles.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
WITH AN IRON FIST...
Gulags, and the Death of Stalin
As interested as I am in the history of Communism, going through Solzhenitsyn's hefty masterwork on the Soviet prison system, The Gulag Archipelago, was sheer torture. I don't mean the writing is bad -- hardly! -- but the unending barrage of one story of brutal depravity after another and then yet another, through hundreds and hundreds of pages, left me constantly sickened and then finally numbed. When I finished what I assumed was the entire book only to find it was merely the first volume, I admitted defeat and gave up on completing it.
With this in mind, I'm glad to see the publication of a more accessible history of the Soviet Gulag prison system, Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History. An excellent review by David Remnick of it appears in The New Yorker. The review in and of itself is a remarkably rich overview of the subject, and includes Remnick's retelling of the experiences of Dmitri Likhachev, one of the first to be sent to the notorious Solovetsky Islands labor camps, birthplace of the Gulag system under Lenin. The article quotes a slogan posted at the main camp there, which speaks volumes:
The Iron Fist part, at least, was refined to perfection.
Stalin and Saddam
The 50th anniversary of Joseph Stalin's death last March 5 inspired the writing of many reflections upon this notorious Soviet dictator. One of the more worthwhile has been this Front Page Symposium on Stalin and Saddam. I should actually write ostensibly on Stalin and Saddam, because although Saddam does get some mention due to his well-known admiration for the communist leader, the focus of discussion is overwhelmingly on Stalin. But I mention this quibble merely as a matter of truthful advertising to you, dear reader, because the Symposium offers so much good material that petty complaints such as this have no place. As an example, here's part of a contribution byYuri Yarim-Agaev:
Separating Stalinism from communism in general like this is exactly what those wishing to rehabilitate communism have been trying to do ever since Khrushchev broke the news of Stalin's misdeeds to the faithful.
Friday, April 11, 2003
GREEN PARTY GROWTH: VOTER PROTEST, NOT ENDORSEMENT
In a fairly melodramatic piece in Front Page, Christopher Archangelli warns conservatives of the growing menace of the Green Party in the US. Archangelli states that we must begin to pay attention to the Greens due to their rapidly growing power:
As anyone can guess from the title of this blog, I naturally agree with Archangelli's criticism of the Greens' socialist agenda. The case for their alarming growth, however, is being heavily overstated by him. His statement that they are now "by far the largest independent or third-party" sounded a little fishy to me, since it's difficult for me to imagine that they have surpassed the Libertarian Party in size and governmental presence. I did a little research, and at least in terms of total number of registered members, he may be correct: The Greens claim to have about 250,000 registered members as of August 2002, whereas the Libertarians had only 205,000 registered members as of March 2000. Even if there has been Libertarian growth in the 3 years since their tally, it's unlikely that they are more than neck-and-neck with the Greens now. A very different picture confronts us, though, when looking at the number of candidates elected to office: the Libertarians have 589 members in public office, while the Greens have a mere 177 members in public office. This is arguably a far better barometer of political clout than party membership, since officials must be elected if a party ever hopes to actually implement its policies.
Here in California, there has been an additional factor which might have served to boost Green Party growth more than expected. For many years before the Greens came on the scene, the Peace & Freedom Party was the state-recognized party of choice for socialist '60s relics and wannabes. In 1999, the party's registered membership dropped below the required minimum, disqualifying it from ballot recognition. This left the Greens as the only socialistic party on the ballot, and thus the only option for registering voters looking for a party further to the Left than the Democrats. How much of an effect this might have had is impossible to know, but now that Peace & Freedom is back on the ballot a general measurement could be gained by comparing the relative growth rates of the two parties henceforth. I suspect that the Greens will continue to be the stronger of the two since I get the impression that among younger voters the Greens carry a certain cachet that the little-known P&Fniks lack.
As for the 3% of the presidential election vote garnered by the Green Party in 2000, that number is actually not much to brag about. Compared to the 19% Ross Perot was able to get as a third-party candidate in the 1992 presidential election, this amount is minuscule, a mere election sideshow... and even with that achievement of 19% under its belt, Perot's Reform Party soon crashed into oblivion. In more immediate terms, the Green Party failed to reach the magical 5% minimum making it eligible for general election funding from public coffers, which represents the loss of a quantum leap in its campaigning power for the 2004 election.
But to simply sift through the numbers is to miss the real story: it's all about Ralph Nader. I submit that the majority of that 3% should be seen as votes for Nader specifically and not as support for the Green Party in general. Nader is a nationally known figure and has been for decades, with his career and notoriety having nothing at all to do with his very recent affiliation with the Green Party. The popular perception is that Nader is an advocate for the "little guy" and an inherently trustworthy political outsider, and based on my own experience it is overwhelmingly this fact and this fact alone that led many to vote for him as a "protest vote." Which specific nationwide third party he ran under was far less important than the fact that Nader was the candidate. Imagine that the Green presidential candidate had been Cynthia "It's the J-E-W-S" McKinney, as may be the case next time -- could she possibly have gotten as many votes? To put it another way, excepting someone with the public image of a Nader being in the forefront, how many votes can a party advocating a full spread of socialist programs, radical military spending cuts, slavery reparations, switching to a parliamentary form of government and now surrender in the War on Terror possibly get in today's America?
The Green Party will continue to have some significance in that, as with other sizable third parties, the votes diverted to it from the major parties can help to decide close races (in the case of the Greens, to the detriment of the Democratic Party). But but beyond this, the Party represents little more than an outlet for the overly earnest far Left.
Wednesday, April 09, 2003
THE U.N. THREAT TO POST-WAR IRAQ
Should the UN oversee the rebuilding of post-war Iraq? Not unless you want it to be a repeat of the mess that is today's Kosovo, says Stephen Schwartz. The UN management of Kosovo has been largely a corrupt farce, which gives anyone familiar with it reason to dread what may be in store for the Iraqis:
Schwartz recommends that the reconstruction of Iraq be led by America rather than being a UN project, and that it should be modeled on the approach for post-war South Korea and Taiwan, "countries where the United States extended an umbrella of security that permitted local entrepreneurial and creative energies to be liberated, transforming each country from within, on its own cultural terms.... [and] that have attained stability, prosperity, and freedom without sacrificing their non-Western cultural traditions. "
It's advice we would be wise to heed, both for the sake of the Iraqi people and our desire for post-war Iraq to be a catalyst for positive change in the region.
SADDAM HUSSEIN, EUROPEAN IDEOLOGUE
Writing in Canada's National Post, Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis explains that Hussein's regime is a European import. He is referring, of course, to the fact that Hussein's Ba'ath Party ideology (which also reigns in neighboring Syria) is derived from European fascism. Lewis explains that, thanks to Vichy French control of the region, the Nazis were able to disseminate the ideas of National Socialism in the Middle East, leading to the formation of the Ba'ath Party. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Ba'athists looked instead to the Soviet Union for inspiration and support (a switch more natural than it might at first seem, since fascism is a form of socialism).
Lewis goes on to explain that this is a reason for optimism regarding the political future of the Middle East. Totalitarian despotisms such as that of the Ba'ath Party is not the historical norm for the Arab World. Much more typical is a long tradition of limited government that, although not democratic, is marked by limitations on the sovereign by holy law, intermediate powers, and civil society. Absolute rule such as that of Hussein's regime is actually the exception. Lewis sees this tradition as providing a good basis for the development of democratic institutions, which bodes well for postwar Iraqi.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
GREENS FOR EARTH-RAPING TYRANTS
The radical environmentalist group Earth Liberation Front announced that an ELF cell in Montgomery, Alabama vandalized a Navy Recruiting Center, spraypainting anti-war slogans on vehicles and setting a truck on fire. Apparently their anti-American hatred is more powerful than their concern for nature, since as I reported here Saddam Hussein is guilty of massive and malicious environmental destruction, and there is no particular reason to believe that he will stop using it as a political tool. Surely a group that endorses violent actions to further its goals wouldn't have a problem with a little warfare to save Mother Earth…