Brian O'Connell

on war, politics, and stuff - go to the new blog

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06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002
06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002
06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002
06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002
07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002
07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002
09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002
09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002
10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002
10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002
10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002
12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003
01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003
01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003
01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003
01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003
02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003
06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003
06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003
07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003
07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003
07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003
08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003
08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003
08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003
11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003
12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003
12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003
12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004

Response to Prominent Americans (Not in Our Name)

Complexity and Universal Truth

From Multiculturalism to Anti-Americanism in Six Easy Steps

Andrew Sullivan

A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice

Armed and Dangerous

Asymmetrical Information

Beauty of Gray

Belmont Club

Bjørn Stærk blog


Cinderella Bloggerfeller

Cold Fury




Dr. Weevil

Eject! Eject! Eject!



it comes in pints?


Little Green Footballs

LILEKS (James)

Man Without Qualities

Matt Welch

Michael J. Totten

My Two Cents

Natalie Solent

Oliver Willis


Public Nuisance

Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing

Shadow of the Hegemon

Steven Chapman

The CounterRevolutionary

The Machinery of Night


The Truth Laid Bear

Tim Blair

Twisted Spinster

USS Clueless


Winds of Change.NET


Ironic, Ain't It?

Good political-strategic analysis (link via LGF) by SF/Fantasy writer Orson Scott Card of how the upcoming Iraqi war is affected by the current Israeli-Palestinian war. He thinks we've got to topple Saddam even if a coalition, soured by Israeli actions, proves impossible.

But the one plan that will lead most surely to disaster is to wait and wait and wait for our coalition partners to feel politically secure again. Because that may never happen. But Iraqi nuclear attacks against somebody -- those will certainly happen, if we don't topple the madman first.

Absolutley right.

The great and delicious irony is that anti-war, Mr. "International System", Demosthenes is against this sort of thing, what with disrespecting another nation's sovereignty and all. (Demosthenes took both his name and his blog's name, Shadow of the Hegemon, from Orson Scott Card's Ender series of SF novels.)

It's like Woody Allen and Marshall McLuhan all over again.



The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of school vouchers today. Here are some juicy quotes from the losing side (Reuters):

[Souter:] "Public tax money will pay ... for teaching the covenant with Israel and Mosaic law in Jewish schools, the primacy of the Apostle Peter and the Papacy in Catholic schools, the truth of reformed Christianity in Protestant schools and the revelation to the Prophet in Muslim schools," he said.

Breyer said the majority effectively "turns the clock back" to a view the high court rejected more than half a century ago.

"In a society composed of many different religious creeds, I fear that this present departure ... risks creating a form of religiously based conflict potentially harmful to the nation's social fabric," he said.

So a couple of Supreme Court Justices are actually arguing that one role of the public schools is to prevent children from learning about their religion. Religious pluralism is apparently harmful to the nation's "social fabric". Geez, what a couple of engineers those two are!

Supposedly objective news reports are talking about an erosion of the separation of church and state, a lowering of the wall, etc. What crap. The effect of this decision will be to prevent the government and the leftist teachers' unions from determining what is to be taught and how it is to be taught. Freedom of choice now applies to poor people too. The Soviet era of American education has just ended.

And be sure to look for every Democrat who sends their children to private school to bitch and moan about the decision. This'll be fun.


Fighting the Last War

That's a cliché. It's usually invoked to refer to generals who fight a war using tactics learned during the previous war, which by the time of the new war are outdated and inappropriate. History abounds with many examples of this, but I will leave it to Victor Davis Hanson to enlighten you on this matter further.

It should seem obvious that mistakes military leaders can make are available to anyone, even anti-war leftists.

The anti-war left made certain assumptions during the West's last war, the Cold War. Among them were that the enemy, the Soviet Union, was no worse than the United States in many ways, and that in some ways, it was better. These assumptions were made possible largely by wishful thinking regarding the benefits of communism or of the radical egalitarian ideal, and by denial.

Other unspoken assumptions were made as well, and on a deeper level some of these may have been correct. The leftist assumption that the Russian people were pretty much just like us was probably more true than not, irrespective of leaders' motivations. The people who lived under Soviet rule shared the same underlying Christian values which informed the Western left. Leninism and Stalinism were evil, but they were also European. Sting was probably on the right track when he wondered if the Russians loved their children too.

The anti-war left came away from the Cold War with certain assumptions. The idea of the essential peacefulness of all people was reinforced by the near bloodless collapse of the Soviet Union. The degree to which Christian values (what Western Christendom and Eastern Orthodox cultures share) were responsible for this remarkable series of events has not been well explored. As civilizations, the West and Cold War East are brothers and share many characteristics. The dynamics and ideology of the Cold War set the two up as polar opposites, but as is much clearer now, the two civilizations are not opposites but in fact related and rather similar.

New war. We're now faced with a very different enemy. Islamofascists do not share any underlying Christian principles with the West. Materialism, the very foundation of the old Soviet enemy, is explicitly rejected by Islamists. Innovation and spiritual self-determination, arguably the foundation of the modern West, are likewise anathema to the new enemy. They only value submission.

But the anti-war left in the West is fighting the last war. The left assumes that this new enemy is essentially harmless just as the previous enemy was (they're wrong on both counts), and it won't be necessary to fight the new enemy (we never "fought" the Soviet Union, you see). There has been very little analysis of the Islamofascist threat from the left. One hard-headed leftist take on the new Islamic enemy, that of Pym Fortuyn, wasn't even recognized by the left as a leftist argument! And it's not possible to imagine Sting asking if the Palestinians love their children too.

It has been written before that the new Islamist enemy, if he bothered to think about it, would hate the Western left more than the right! But even this fact is ignored by the anti-war left who think they've learned all there is to learn about international conflict from the last war.

So they learned during the previous war that the enemy is just like us. This is a new war, sure. But why use different thinking? Why can't we all just get along?


Democracy and Islam

I've been thinking a lot about democracy lately, and how it fits into this whole war thing that we're in the very earliest stages of. (The current quiet we're experiencing right now is eerily like the quiet that preceded WWI, assuming I know anything about the quiet that preceded WWI, which I don't!)

Anyway, I posted here about the United States and its fear of democracy in Arab countries. My position is that we should pursue democracy in Arab countries because it's in our long term best interest to do so. As an added bonus, active pursuit of democracy everywhere fits neatly into the US's perception of its role in the world. This larger manifest destiny -the Big MD if you will- has always been a good idea from a human rights angle, but now it's a vital national security interest as well.

There will be short term bumps in the road- an Islamic theocracy here, an Islamic theocracy there- but in the long run, people will object to Islamism because it's incredibly oppressive. And it would be a home grown oppression, obvious to everyone.

We need to make that oppression work for us. A look at Iran and Afghanistan instructs us that few things make Muslims as open to friendship with the US as does Islamofascist oppression.

Conversely, the US is in an untenable position when it depends on Western-style dictators to keep the Islamists down. We'd be better off letting populations so disposed have their beloved shari'a and theocratic governments. Like the Iranians, most of them will soon see that Islamism is no solution to their many real problems. This policy would also have the advantage of putting us Americans on the side of self-determination for Muslims.

Then Bush goes and delivers what I and others (Den Beste, for one) believe is a policy-shattering speech on the necessity of democracy in Palestine. I posted my analysis of that speech here. If my and the majority of the warblogosphere's interpretation of that speech is correct, then GWB and I agree on some basic things. Perhaps he read my blog. (Ahem.)

Now the situation in Palestine is somewhat different from other Islamic nations (or whatever the PA is). Islamism isn't as strong there. But there are still good reasons why we would benefit from a Palestinian government chosen by its people.

I think it's likely that if Palestine were to take all of Bush's "advice" on democracy, Arafat would be re-elected. But it wouldn't be true to say that we or Israel would be in the same crappy position that we're in now.

Democracy is more than just electing a president who can do whatever he wants in secret, unobserved once he's in power. The entire structure of the government would need to be representative of and responsive to the people, and under the review of an independant judiciary. Bush specifically mentioned both of these elements in his speech. Such a government would be unlikely to support terrorism if the Palestinian people, who suffer from the effects of terrorism through Israeli responses to terrorism, had constant input into their government's actions at all levels. A negative feedback loop would be built into the society. Palestine's distinctly nondemocratic character now has a positive feedback loop in place when it comes to terrorism. The frustrations of powerless Palestinians is caused by terrorism which encourages more terrorism. Imagine for a moment the democratic response to longer lines at Israeli checkpoints- it'll be different than the response we see now.

It is possible that the Palestinians are even sicker than I think they are and democratically support the same things that the PA is now doing without the benefit of democratic review. The US and Israel still end up in a better position because there would be a genuine representative government that we could hold responsible for those actions. Conventional international pressures or, should it become necessary, a conventional war, would be more effecive against a country called Palestine than a bunch of camps loosely controlled by some entity called the PA. I cynically believe, though perhaps realistically, that it is likely that the Palestinians will choose this lesser path at first. But with democracy comes responsibility. And it's easier to learn about consequences when one's actions are freely chosen. It shouldn't be forgotten that some of the concepts mature democracies like the US take for granted, nondemocratric societies simply haven't learned yet.

So here is the basic formula: the US should support self-determination in all Arab/Islamic countries.

Those countries that choose liberal democracy should be welcomed by the West into the family of nations.

Those countries that choose Islamic theocracy should be restrained internationally (and definitely militarily!), but allowed to do as they wish at home. In a generation or two, they'll be sick of it and liberalize.

Those countries that choose a lesser form of dictatorship should not be favored by the US (as with Saudi Arabia and Egypt). This is the middle position that can be the most dangerous in the long term since the population tends to radicalize under a secular or US-supported dictatorship. We'll need to be vigilant with Arab/Islamic countries to ensure that they follow one of the other two paths.

We ensure that by telling them that you're either with us or against us. Not as concerns terrorism this time, but democracy. Choose democracy and all that it entails, and we will be with you. Choose Islamism, and we will despise you (until such a time as you see the light- the Enlightenment light that is, not the Allah light). There should be no other choice for them. It's a bit like "tough love" -remember that?


Bush's Big Mid East Speech

It was a good speech. Some aimless or wobbly aspects of Bush's policy with respect to the Palestinian situation were brought back into the fold of the War on Terrorism in a very appropriate way. I think it represents a good start at regaining the initiative which has been lost somewhat over the last six months.

Brazenly, I've taken it upon myself to comment on it. Here's the speech in its entirety interspersed with my inane and jejune commentary.

For too long, the citizens of the Middle East have lived in the midst of death and fear. The hatred of a few holds the hopes of many hostage. The forces of extremism and terror are attempting to kill progress and peace by killing the innocent.

This sets the foundation for the rest of the speech. The terrorists are few, its victims many. Palestinians who want peace are held hostage by Palestinian terrorists just as much as Israelis are.

And this casts a dark shadow over an entire region. For the sake of all humanity, things must change in the Middle East. It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation.

Moral equivalance? Read on.

And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself, and the situation of the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable.

There's the explicitly stated linkage that many have been waiting to hear from Washington: the misery of the Palestinians is due to Palestinian terrorism. Terrorism leads to Israeli defensive actions, which leads to Palestinian misery. Didn't really expect moral equivalnce from Bush, did you?

My vision is two states, living side by side, in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror.

Thus bringing the US Mid East policy in line with the US policy on terrorism. All parties must fight terror. That message was getting muddy for a while.

Yet at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope.

Of course it's the American way to break with the past. It's not so easy for people in the Old World. I'm reminded of Tom Friedman and his olive tree. Will it be possible for the Palestinians to break with the past? Many signs point to no. That's not to say that it's not possible.

Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts.

Clearly, no peace will be achieved with Arafat at the helm. If the Palestinians want peace, they'll need someone new. But I don't see Palestinians embracing democracy, tolerance, and liberty. I suspect these concepts are alien to most of them. If anything, Palestinians associate them with Jews. Doubtless, there are many educated Palestinians who realize that Israel's (and the West's) strengths lie with democracy, tolerance, and liberty. But whether one of these guys can get elected (before he's lynched) remains an open question.

If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

A big if. They'll need all the help they can get.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state, whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.

Meaning that we promise nothing until they prove themselves capable of acting like civilized human beings. Quite right.

In the work ahead, we all have responsibilities. The Palestinian people are gifted and capable and I'm confident they can achieve a new birth for their nation.

More confident than I am, but time will tell.

A Palestinian state will never be created by terror. It will be built through reform. And reform must be more than cosmetic change or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo. True reform will require entirely new political and economic institutions based on democracy, market economics and action against terrorism.

So pretend reform is off the table then. But we're back to Western ideals of democracy and capitalism. If either of those were currently functioning in any Arab country, I'd say there's a somewhat decent chance for this thing to work. If democracy and capitalism haven't been instituted successfully in average or well-off Arab states, what chance is there for it to work in Palestine, with all of its challenges?

On the other hand, there is the rock-bottom theory from Bill W. It's only when you reach your lowest point that real change can begin, etc. Somehow though, I think the Palestinians can sink even lower if they set their minds to it. Look at Somalia.

Today the elected Palestinian legislature has no authority and power is concentrated in the hands of an unaccountable few. A Palestinian state can only serve its citizens with a new constitution which separates the powers of government. The Palestinian parliament should have the full authority of a legislative body. Local officials and government ministers need authority of their own and the independence to govern effectively.

All true. How can we get there from here?

The United States, along with the European Union and Arab states, will work with Palestinian leaders to create a new constitutional framework and a working democracy for the Palestinian people. And the United States, along with others in the international community, will help the Palestinians organize and monitor fair, multi-party local elections by the end of the year with national elections to follow.

A generous offer. It won't be accepted by the current leadership. Well, they'll say they accept it, eventually, but they'll work against us to preserve their power. In addition to this pure power play, Palestinian extremists (50% of them if recent polls can be believed) will be keeping their eyes on the prize: the destruction of Israel. If it's accepted that this proposed process of democratization is a first step on the road to peaceful coexistence with Israel, as Bush says it is, that's more reason for them to work against it.

Today, the Palestinian people live in economic stagnation, made worse by official corruption. A Palestinian state will require a vibrant economy, where honest enterprise is encouraged by honest government.

Hey, preaching to the choir, here.

The United States, the international donor community and the World Bank stand ready to work with Palestinians on a major project of economic reform and development. The United States, the EU, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are willing to oversee reforms in Palestinian finances, encouraging transparency and independent auditing. And the United States, along with our partners in the developed world, will increase our humanitarian assistance to relieve Palestinian suffering.

Don't tell the anti-globos about all that IMF and World Bank stuff.

Today, the Palestinian people lack effective courts of law and have no means to defend and vindicate their rights. A Palestinian state will require a system of reliable justice to punish those who prey on the innocent. The United States and members of the international community stand ready to work with Palestinian leaders to establish, finance and monitor a truly independent judiciary.

A necessary component of government of course. We know about Palestinian justice, such as it is.

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

"This is unacceptable." Straight-talking Bush is back! Also note that W puts the ball in the Palestinians' court where it belongs. "Sustained" is definitely one adjective that cannot be applied to the PA's fight against terrorism. "Honest" would be another.

This will require an externally supervised effort to rebuild and reform the Palestinian security services. The security system must have clear lines of authority and accountability, and a unified chain of command.

Al Aqsa, anyone? Fatah? Who's in charge of these outfits, ultimately? (Those are rhetorical questions, don'cha know.)

America's pursuing this reform along with key regional states. The world is prepared to help, yet ultimately these steps toward statehood depend on the Palestinian people and their leaders. If they energetically take the path of reform, the rewards can come quickly. If Palestinians embrace democracy, confront corruption and firmly reject terror, they can count on American support for the creation of a provisional state of Palestine.

Summing up the carrot side of the equation....

With a dedicated effort, this state could rise rapidly, as it comes to terms with Israel, Egypt and Jordan on practical issues such as security. The final borders, the capital and other aspects of this state's sovereignty will be negotiated between the parties as part of a final settlement.

If they can prove that we can trust them.

Arab states have offered their help in this process, and their help is needed.

Oh, yeah. Them. Wouldn't want to negotiate a peace without Our Allies Against Terror™ (with apologies to Juan Gato).

I've said in the past that nations are either with us or against us in the war on terror. To be counted on the side of peace, nations must act. Every leader actually committed to peace will end incitement to violence in official media and publicly denounce homicide bombings. Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian supplies to these groups and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq.

Actually, actually, actually. This is the good part. Now we're cooking. Here's the meat.

"Every leader actually committed to peace" as opposed to those we know who pay lip service to peace. "Every nation actually committed to peace" as opposed to those nations that are committed to jihad and call it peace.

And he mentions Iran and Iraq by name again, great! (NK is apparently elsewhere on this one.)

Bush is establishing a litmus test here. Countries actually committed to peace will end their support for the Palestinian terror groups financially, militarily, and public relations-wise to boot. We'll know that countries that don't end such support will be against peace. This is connected to the larger WOT. Bush had retreated on the WOT when it came to Israel. Now he's moving the ball forward again. (Mixed metaphors, I know.)

And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations. Leaders who want to be included in the peace process must show by their deeds and undivided support for peace. And as we move toward a peaceful solution, Arab states will be expected to build closer ties of diplomacy and commerce with Israel, leading to full normalization of relations between Israel and the entire Arab world.

Much is asked of Arab states, but this is proper. They have always given so little. They could have solved this decades ago but that's a whole 'nother post.

Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine. Permanent occupation threatens Israel's identity and democracy. A stable, peaceful Palestinian state is necessary to achieve the security that Israel longs for.

So I challenge Israel to take concrete steps to support the emergence of a viable, credible Palestinian state.

They're there, dude.

As we make progress toward security, Israeli forces need to withdraw fully to positions they held prior to September 28, 2000. And consistent with the recommendations of the Mitchell committee, Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories must stop.

Note that Israel must withdraw not before, but "as" we make progress. Important adverb, that.

The Palestinian economy must be allowed to develop. As violence subsides, freedom of movement should be restored, permitting innocent Palestinians to resume work and normal life. Palestinian legislators and officials, humanitarian and international workers, must be allowed to go about the business of building a better future. And Israel should release frozen Palestinian revenues into honest, accountable hands. I've asked Secretary (of State Colin) Powell to work intensively with Middle Eastern and international leaders to realize the vision of a Palestinian state, focusing them on a comprehensive plan to support Palestinian reform and institution building.

Hopefully Powell will be working so intensively on the new Palestinian state that he's got no time to put his two cents in on Iraq. Naturally, that's part of Bush's plan.

Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must address the core issues that divide them if there is to be a real peace, resolving all claims and ending the conflict between them.

This means that the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 will be ended through a settlement negotiated between the parties, based on UN Resolutions 242 and 338, with Israeli withdrawal to secure and recognized borders.

Yes, yes, yes. Eventually.

We must also resolve questions concerning Jerusalem, the plight and future of Palestinian refugees, and a final peace between Israel and Lebanon, and Israel and a Syria that supports peace and fights terror.

Later for that stuff. Even if everything up to that point goes exceedingly well, the questions of Jerusalem and the refugees could dash it all. Again, we'll see.

All who are familiar with the history of the Middle East realize that there may be setbacks in this process. Trained and determined killers, as we have seen, want to stop it. Yet the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties with Israel remind us that, with determined and responsible leadership, progress can come quickly.

Well, they killed Sadat but I shouldn't be the gloomy Gus.

As new Palestinian institutions and new leaders emerge, demonstrating real performance on security and reform, I expect Israel to respond and work toward a final status agreement. With intensive effort by all of us, agreement could be reached within three years from now. And I and my country will actively lead toward that goal.

There's that adverb again. Also note "real" performance. Another slap at Arafat. Should be an interesting three years. (Not that they wouldn't have been anyway.)

I can understand the deep anger and anguish of the Israeli people. You've lived too long with fear and funerals, having to avoid markets and public transportation, and forced to put armed guards in kindergarten classrooms. The Palestinian Authority has rejected your offered hand and trafficked with terrorists. You have a right to a normal life. You have a right to security. And I deeply believe that you need a reformed, responsible Palestinian partner to achieve that security.

I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades you've been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children. An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible.

Nice couple of paragraphs there. It captures the big picture well and acknowledges the grief on both sides.

But Bush puts the blame for Palestinian anger and despair not on Israel, but on other Arabs: "treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict." I assume he means that they were treated as pawns by both Palestinian terrorists and other Arab states. I think it's significant that the American president acknowledges this fact in a major policy speech. This again ties into the larger WOT and what we are demanding of Arab states. We know where most of the blame lies in this situation; we're not buying any of that anti-Israeli propaganda that's available at wholesale rates everywhere.

Bush's solution to this problem of Palestinian powerlessness is thoroughly Western: democracy, markets, openness. What kind of solution did anyone expect from the US? Let America be America.

If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe, who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government.

He's talking to you, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality and learning and tolerance led to great historical achievements, and those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes or Western hopes, they are universal human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.

Ahh, sweet cultural imperialism. I have doubts but it's definitely worth a shot. There are an awful lot of Islamofascists to kill though.

This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East; an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace, a test to show who's serious about peace and who is not.

The line in the sand is drawn. This will have repercussions.

The choice here is stark and simple, the Bible says, "I have set before you life and death, therefore choose life." The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace and hope and life.

Not so fond of quotes from the Bible but that one's nice. The quote is perfectly appropriate for the Palestinian cult of death and those who support it.

To sum up, a good deal of promise for the Palestinians if they want to (if they're able to) take him up on it. Whether of not they do is the central question. The speech had lots of carrot and only darkly hinted at stick. Of course the US president shouldn't reveal his hand, but I believe he has harsh consequences in mind for those Arab states that refuse to change their behavior and fail to accept this plan.

The speech is a bit like the opening segment of "Rhoda": "Arab states, this is your last chance!"


Stone Cold Logic

No, that's not Mr. Spock's WWE alter ego. It's my take on where the US stands with regard to the WOT. I hope it stands up to that title. Ready?

First, Al Qaeda, if we don't fight them, will eventually nuke an American city. This is fundamentally what we're working to prevent. All other considerations are secondary to the goal of preventing this from happening. I don't think there's any doubt about it. Other things are important, yes, but there's nothing as important as this right now and for the forseeable future.

Therefore we must fight them. In fighting them, there are basically three possible outcomes: we lose, we gain a partial victory or stalemate, or, my favorite outcome, we win.

If we fight and lose, we're back where we started: Al Qaeda will eventually nuke an American city. So this outcome clearly must be avoided.

That leaves us with two other outcomes: partial victory or total victory. Let's examine each of these remaining scenarios.
In a partial victory, Al Qaeda is mostly wiped out but isolated pockets of fighters remain with some level of capability and a small but non-zero amount of support for their operations continues in various countries. A rogue state or two continues to exist and offers very quiet assistance to the group. US operatives- military, CIA, FBI, what have you -continue to fight Al Qaeda where they find it, but the law of diminishing returns applies and we can never reach the last cell. Support for Al Qaeda in Muslim populations is always sufficient to replenish their numbers, even if low. As long as they exist, Al Qaeda never stop trying. Eventually, they will get the resources and find the opportunity, a weakness in our defenses that is, to deploy WMD in the US. Time and space are both too big to prevent this from happening. So this outcome too must be avoided.

That leaves outcome three: total victory over Al Qaeda. In this scenario, support for Al Qaeda among Muslims is virtually nonexistent because mainstream Muslims actively work to dissuade other Muslims from adopting Al Qaeda's Islamofascist ideas, and when that doesn't work, by isolating and/or arresting them. In this scenario, no rogue states remain to assist any terrorist groups who would wage war against nations. This is the only viable outcome for the United States.

The two central aspects of this total victory are near universal condemnation of and persecution of Islamofascism among Muslims and an absence of rogue states. Total victory will not be achieved without both of these conditions being met. The question then becomes, how do we make both of these conditions a reality?

Much has been written on the latter condition- the rogue states deal. It's usually referred to as the Bush Doctrine. But I don't think that the first condition, which I believe is an equally necessary requirement for victory, has been adequately addressed at all. I'll post my thoughts on that one a little later. But don't wait for me. Have at it.


Counters Down

I took the hit counter off the site because's server seems to be down. A piece of JavaScript that's served from there runs the counter. The lack of this script apparently prevented my browser, and maybe yours too, from displaying this page. Maybe I'll put Braveheart's counter back up, or maybe I'll find another. I'm awash in a sea of alternatives here already.

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© 2002-2004
Brian O'Connell,
for what it's worth.