Under-appreciated blogger (and aren't we all) Alex Frantz has another good post
on his site. This time re Demosthenes' criticism
of Instapundit calling
Palestinian culture a "psychotic death cult". Demosthenes only offers the usual far left multi culti blather. F'r instance he mentions the difficulties Palestinians have seeking medical treatment in Isreali hospitals with no mention of why such medical expertise is only available in the West. Whatever. Somehow it's a bit more satisfying when someone on the far left is criticized by the center left rather than by someone on the right.
Phobos and Demos
Some Islamic-majority countries are run by dictators with American support.
We know the drill by now. The leaders of these countries are dictators or absolute monarchists and the people don't like to live under their rule. So the governments spread vicious anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda as a distraction. That the countries accept American aid and/or protection isn't important to these governments when it comes to spreading hatred for the US. American aid is
important to their populations, who perceive that US support for these regimes is all that props them up. Anti-Americanism is the conventional wisdom.
Some Islamic-majority countries are run by dictators notoriously without American support.
The country formerly known as Taliban Afghanistan.
The leaders of these countries are/were also dictators and the people don't like to live under their rule. So these governments too spread vicious anti-American and anti-Semitic propaganda as a distraction. That the countries don't receive American aid and/or protection isn't important to these governments when it comes to spreading hatred for the US. American hostility towards these regimes is
important to their populations, who perceive that US disdain for these regimes supports anti-government feelings or movements. Pro-Americanism is the CW.
In broad terms, American foreign policy runs like this: We want governments to be friendly towards the US economically, friendly towards the US politically, and we want them to respect basic human rights. In that order. Democracy is a basic human right in the eyes of Americans. For much of the 20th century, however, democracy in the Arab/Islamic world and a friendly stance towards the US were seen as mutually exclusive.
Pan-Arabism, Marxism, and Islamism have each made the thought of Arab self-determination a fearful proposition. And in the latter two, a little self-determination up front means a lot less self-determination later. I'm not the first to note that a little democracy in a non-democratic culture can be a dangerous thing. (A young padawan is perhaps most susceptible to the Dark Side early in his training.) Instituting democratic reform seemed pointless when a Marxist group seemed likely to win a majority and overturn those same democratic reforms. The situation is similar with today's Islamofascist groups.
So what to do then?
On the simplest level, we see that if we support an Arab/Islamic dictatorship, the people end up hating the US. If we are openly hostile to an Arab/Islamic regime, the people end up, well maybe love is too strong a word, but they end up being not-so-hostile to the US. This would argue for open hostility towards all Arab/Islamic dictatorships. Maybe we should even actively knock a few of them over.
The populations in countries whose regimes we previously supported might have their democratic moment and vote in some Islamofascists and thereby end the democratic moment. Or they might go directly to Islamofascist or Saddam-type anti-American dictatorship, skipping any brief period of self-determination for the people.
The populations in countries whose regimes we previously antagonized will look for alternatives to the dictatorships they had lived under. Liberal democracy is one such alternative. There is the possibility that that alternative would degenerate into dictatorship. Formerly theocratic Iran might go for a secular dictatorship; formerly Stalinist Iraq might go for a theocracy or maybe a less totalitarian Latin American style oligarchy. Who knows?
All of this may well be an over-generalization. Iran is hardly representative of Arab states- it's not an Arab state. And where does flip-floppy Pakistan (the Italy of the War on Islamofascism) fit into this? And what of Turkey?
Nevertheless, I think a few things are clear. US support for pro-Western dictators has been of little help. Now I'm not one of those who faults the US for their existence. In most of these countries, someone would have been the bastard, so they may as well have been our bastards. Or if they weren't our bastards we bought them out, if that was possible.
The problem is that many of these populations become ever more radicalized and the US can do nothing about it because the regime is "friendly" to the US. Yet the regime is a factor in the radicalization of the population. So we either remove support for the regimes and allow radical groups to possibly take power, or support the regime, which has the effect of making radical groups become more radical. The Islamofascists would seem to have their day either way.
The only option you have when you catch the flu is to let it run its course. You can minimize the symptoms, but you can't stop it. Eventually, your body will develop antibodies so that that particular strain can never infect you again.
The Islamic umma apparently has no defense against Islamofascism. We should let it run its course and let the populations that will suffer under it develop the necessary antibodies as Iran has been doing for the last twenty years. Until there is a visceral contempt for theocratic totalitarian rule amongst the whole population, our attempts to stop it will come to nothing. And we cannot instill this contempt for Islamofascism just by talking about it or by pointing to the Taliban. Only experience can make these cultures immune.
It's in our interest to have them hate Islamofascism, and in the absence (or powerlessness) of liberal freedom-fighters, the best way known to have them hate it is for them to live under it. While they're living in the Islamic paradise, any hostile actions such a regime might take against the West should be met with immediate overwhelming force. I'm not suggesting giving them a free pass in their international relations. They must be held accountable for what they do. We shouldn't fear what the Arab/Muslim people want for themselves, we should allow them to have it and we should allow them to live with the consequences.
Well, this has been rather long and rambling. I'm thinking out loud on the web, and I'm sure there are internal inconsistencies in this screed (sorry, James) that need to be resolved. The West has no policy towards Islam that seems to be worth a damn and I very much think we need one. Maybe this has been a small step towards such a policy (though I wouldn't put any money on that).
Same Old, Same Old
Yasir Arafat is now ready for peace
. This is the way the man has always done business: attack Israeli citizens and rally the troops until Israel starts to mount a serious response, declare peace, haggle, end the talks, attack Israeli citizens and rally the troops.... Will the rest of the world fall for this Palestinian business as usual? Probably. Will Israel fall for it this time? Probably not.
This will set world opinion against Israel. I mean more than it was set against Israel before, of course. The interesting question is what the US response to Arafat's latest parry will be.
Jay Nordlinger ended the always entertaining Impromptus
in NRO today with this:
Finally, you may know that Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd is in Geneva, to be medically cared for. There is a fine mosque there. He asked the city fathers for permission to build another one. They replied: Yes — when it is possible to build a church in Riyadh.
That's classic. Or as Mark Steyn once wrote, down with Saudi Arabia
Dr. Bill (of Rights, that is)
Great and thoughtful post from Dr. Frank
on the Bill of Rights and how to preserve it and the country at the same time (link via Matt Welch
). The doctor quotes Nat Hentoff who wrote, "I'd appreciate hearing from resisters who are working to restore the Bill of Rights." Hmmm. Restore. Reminds me of the "Not in Our Name
" folks when they say, "...the basic rights of the US legal system are at least promised...."
The president has eschewed
the possibility of judicial review in establishing the status of US citizens as enemy combatants. The Justice Department filed papers
with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that argued that that court had no business ordering the government to allow captured Taliban Yaser Esam Hamdi (who it turned out was born in Louisiana and is thus a US citizen) to see a lawyer.
"Not only do courts lack the expertise to evaluate military tactics, but they will often be without knowledge of the facts or standards upon which military decisions are based," the goverment's court filing said.
It's true that the courts have no expertise in fighting wars, but it's also true that the military hasn't much expertise in the rights of US citizens. The president claims executive war powers permit him to do this. I have no problem with the prez naming non-US citizens enemy combatants as he sees fit, but I can't help feeling that there's something unseemly about the prez doing the same thing with citizens. Maybe it's elitist of me, but I think there's something sacrosanct about US citizenship that the government's answer to this question ignores. I feel the need for some judicial gatekeeper between US citizens and military detainment.
On the other hand, I've written that I have doubts about the degree to which we can trust some of these activist courts. Frankly, I have more trust in Rumsfeld. (In Rumsfeld We Trust.)
So I'm not sure that the government has made the right decision. It's expected the case will go the Supreme Court, as it should. I expect soon.
There was an interesting discussion of all this on FoxNews's Special Report today with Fred Barnes, Mort Kondracke and Mara Liasson (FoxNews contibutors all, of course). Mort mentioned, and I had begun to come to this conclusion, that it's Congress that needs to act. If there's a point of law that's missing, and clearly we're missing something here, it should be up to Congress to fill in the gap, not the courts. (Of course Congress has been passing the buck on controversial issues for a long time, which in many cases has forced the courts to act).
Mara mentioned the insane way this is all being handled. Lindh is a US citizen Taliban, but is in the civilian courts. Hamdi is also a US citizen Taliban, but the government is fighting to keep him out of civilian courts. Moussaoui is a enemy combatant and
a non-citizen, but he's being tried in a civilian court.
Obviously there was no plan from the get-go. A forgiveable sin, but it'll make the government's case before the Supremes that much harder. Why does not Hamdi, a citizen, deserve at least as much legal protection as Moussaoui, a non-citizen? This'll be something to watch.
Civil Rights Cont'dAlex Frantz
continues a discussion that begin on his blog, and that I joined in the comments on the far left Demosthenes
blog. It's a well written piece that nicely sums up the civilian trial or military tribunal concerns (and that also happens to agree with me). Common ground has been found, and now we can all sleep soundly.
Thanks for the Links
Thanks to Steven
, Dr. Frank
, and everyone else who provided a link to this site in its very first week, bringing traffic in numbers unknown to mortal men.
Special thanks to Charles over at LGF
for adding me to his world-famous anti-idiotarian page
. I'm in some great company, as Oscar nominees say every damn year. (We're not worthy! We're not wothy!)
Confronting the New Paradigm
In a Washington Post piece called Why a First Strike Will Surely Backfire
, William A. Galston makes the case against US-led regime change in Iraq. The central argument here is that the US shouldn't mess with the international status quo:
We are the most powerful nation on Earth but we are not invulnerable. To safeguard our own security, we need the help of the allies whose doubts we scorn, and the protection of the international restraints against which we chafe. We must therefore resist the easy seduction of unilateral action. In the long run, our interests will be best served by an international system that is as law-like and collaborative as possible, given the reality that we live in a world of sovereign states.
The problem with this is that the international system, "law-like" or not, is not stopping the progress of Iraq's weapons program. It has slowed it down, sure. But Iraq will get there sooner or later. Yet this is the argument that is coalescing against US action in Iraq. This line holds that the observation "9/11 changed everything" isn't true. There was an international system before 9/11, and it should remain in place after 9/11, largely unchanged.
Mr. Galston does give a fair account of the other side's view:
The first duty of every government, they might say, is to defend the lives and security of its citizens. The elimination of Hussein and, by extension, every regime that threatens to share weapons of mass destruction with anti-American terrorists, comports with this duty. To invoke international norms designed for a different world is to blind ourselves to the harsh necessities of international action in the new era of terrorism. If no other nation agrees, we have a duty to the American people to go it alone.
We're facing a race between technological change and political change. Unfortunately it is far easier to produce a nuclear weapon than a stable democracy. Pakistan is proof enough of that. Over the last 10 years Iraq has been edging ever closer to building a nuclear weapon, but there's damn little sign that the totalitarian regime has changed in any way.
We have to change Iraq's political nature because preventing its technological advance isn't possible. We cannot stop the spread of technology. It is
possible, though difficult, to change political sytems in otherwise sovereign nations. We've done it before, as anyone on the left will gladly tell you, and the international system noticeably didn't collapse. To an extent, the US military, supported by the US economy, is the international system. Certainly it would look far different without us.
That we must change Iraq is not in doubt. The question is whether, under the old rules, we can change the Iraqi situation in time, if at all. If there's a reasonable possibility that we cannot, then the old paradigm has failed us, and we need a new way of dealing with such threats. The political price we'd have to pay is a secondary consideration.
Breakfast of Champions
Should General Mills put representatives of the NYPD, FDNY, and PAPD* on the Wheaties box? Of course! Here's a friendly petition
to let the General Mills CEO know that you think so too. I signed it and so should you.
*The PAPD, for those who don't know, is the Police Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, an interstate agency. The Port Authority owned the WTC and runs the NYC metro airports, port facilities, and other things. The PAPD lost 37 officers
Iraq AttackBob Woodward
writing in the Washington Post reports on what the CIA has been up to lately.
President Bush early this year signed an intelligence order directing the CIA to undertake a comprehensive, covert program to topple Saddam Hussein, including authority to use lethal force to capture the Iraqi president, according to informed sources.
Sounds about right. One of Woodward's sources tells him not to expect too much from the operations. "It is not a silver bullet, but hopes are high and we could get lucky." Reminds me of a Sinatra tune