Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Europe No Longer Part of Western Civilization

This open letter to Europe sums up the problems that Europe is facing and the gulf that exists between the US and Europe. To put it bluntly, Europe is no longer part of Western Civilization because they have turned their backs on Judeo-Christian culture. They have cut themselves off for that heritage and are now adrift. Here are the values they have left behind:
We believe that church and state should be separate, but that religion should remain at the center of life. We are a Judeo-Christian culture, which means we consider those ten things on a tablet to be commandments, not suggestions. We believe that individuals are more important than groups, that families are more important than governments, that children should be raised by their parents rather than by the State, and that marriage should take place only between a man and a woman. We believe that rights must be balanced by responsibilities, that personal freedom is a privilege we must be careful not to abuse, and that the rule of law cannot be set aside when it becomes inconvenient. We believe in economic liberty, and in the right of purposeful and industrious entrepreneurs to run their businesses – and thus create jobs – with a minimum of government interference. We recognize that other people see things differently, and we are tolerant of their views. But we believe that our country is worth defending, and if anyone decides that killing us is an okay thing to do we will go after them with everything we’ve got.
If these beliefs seem strange to you, they shouldn’t. For these are precisely the beliefs that powered Western Europe – you -- from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, on to the Enlightenment, and forward into the modern world. They are the beliefs that made Europe itself the glory of Western civilization and – not coincidentally – ignited the greatest outpouring of art, literature, music and scientific discovery the world has ever known including Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, Bach, Issac Newton and Descartes.
It is your abandonment of these beliefs that has created the gap between Europe and the United States. You have ceased to be a Judeo-Christian culture, and have become instead a secular culture.

The Best Column Maureen Dowd Ever Wrote

Her latest column is a must read. She reprints a letter from her brother stating why he supports President Bush. Apparently Dowd's whole family, except for her, supports the president. That must have made for an exciting Thanksgiving! Here's a small excerpt:
We do not live in a secular country. There are all sorts of people of faith that place moral values over personal freedoms. They are not all 'wacky evangelicals.' They are people who don't like Howard Stern piping a hard porn show over the airwaves and wrapping himself in the freedom of the First Amendment. They don't like being told that a young girl does not have to seek her mother's counsel about an abortion. They don't like seeing an eight-month-old fetus having his head punctured and his brains sucked out. They
don't like being told the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment of silent prayer and the words 'under God' are offensive to an enlightened few so nobody should be allowed to use them. ... My wife and I picked our sons' schools based on three criteria: 1) moral values 2) discipline 3) religious maintenance - in that order. We have spent an obscene amount of money doing this and never regretted a penny. Last week on the news, I heard that the Montgomery County school board voted to include a class with a 10th-grade girl demonstrating how to put a condom on a cucumber and a study of the homosexual lifestyle. The vote was 6-0. I feel better about the money all the time.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Why the Nuclear Pause Helps Iran

DefenseTech has an excellent post about how the recent voluntary pause in uranium enrichment actually benefits Iran. He quotes Michael Levi at the Brookings Institute as saying:
Supporters insist that the new language is more specific and provides fewer loopholes than the last deal. But in exchange for a mere tightening of loopholes, the EU-3 has offered Iran a pretty indulgent deal. Most importantly, the Europeans have again promised to keep Tehran away from the Security Council, a commitment with irreversible consequences -- after all, while the Europeans can change their minds and head to the Security Council whenever they please, they cannot turn back the clock. Every day Iran operates under lessened pressure is a day it might move closer to producing a bomb. (Only an overly optimistic or naïve observer can confidently believe Iran continues no nuclear efforts in secret.) Moreover, the past two years have shown that the further into history Iran's most egregious actions recede, the less willing other countries become to punish Tehran for them. So by delaying a Security Council confrontation, the EU-3 has, for now, dealt Iran a stronger hand.
The Europeans didn't stop there, however. They promised to bring Iran into WTO-entry negotiations
; they also promised the possibility of nuclear, technological, and economic cooperation. Finally, they delivered an important intangible to Iran--the deal, which never mentions the country's violations, will provide Tehran with useful ammunition for its propaganda machine domestically, in the Middle East, and around the world. As a guest on Iranian and Arabic television programs, I've experienced first-hand the importance of this factor: Iranian officials seize on any sentiment or phrase from an outside power that can be read as exonerating its nuclear program and use it to drown out reasoned opposition. Now, faced with claims that the outside world, including Europe, believes Iran violated last October's agreement--a plain truth--Iran will repeatedly produce the EU-3 deal as evidence to the contrary. That, in turn, will bolster domestic support for the regime and its actions while creating regional sympathy for Iran's claims of mistreatment at the hands of the West.
It isn't just the EU-3 that is to blame here. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which for the most part has done a solid job in investigating Iran, put itself in an inappropriate political position as part of the EU-3 negotiations. Scheduled to deliver a critical report on Iran's activities last week, the agency delayed its release pending the outcome of the EU-3 negotiations. In doing so, it clearly suggested that Iran could influence the report--which is presumably a factual accounting of Iran's activities--by agreeing to the right deal. Imagine a criminal psychiatrist delaying her assessment of a defendant pending the outcome of plea bargain negotiations, and you've got an idea of how irresponsible this is.

Clearly, the EU will never get tough with Iran. Considering the dearth of military options the US has right now to respond to Iranian intransigence, the likelihood of Iran being forced to give up its program becomes less and less even time Iran is handed a sweet deal such as this one. We must start preparing our response to a nuclear-armed Iran.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

The Ongoing Problems Inside Islam

Spengler here tackles the problem that "death for blasphemy" causes when Muslims live in Western democratic countries.
Smugness oozes from European politicians who demand that Muslims repudiate violence as a precondition for residence in the West. To repudiate the death sentence for blasphemy would be the same as abandoning the Islamic order in traditional society in favor of a Western-style religion of personal conscience. The West spent centuries of time and rivers of blood to make such a transition, and carried it off badly. Whether Islam can do so at all remains doubtful.
As Spengler notes, this death sentence is the key ingredient that holds Islam back from embracing democracy. Trying to "reform" the religion to overcome this difficulty would be tantamount to dismantling the whole religion.
Muslim refusal to tolerate blasphemy has nothing to do with rage or recalcitrance. It is a theological necessity. Executions for blasphemy would attract no attention in Iran or Saudi Arabia. The trouble is that the population of Islamic countries has spilled over en masse into the West. Imams in Europe cannot pronounce differently on such matters than they would in their home countries, and blasphemy cannot be tolerated by traditional society.
Spengler does an excellent job describing the Catholic Church's struggle with this issue as it transitioned from a state religion to a religion of personal conscience. He notes that the Church has never really recovered from this transition nor would Islam survive in its present form were it to attempt such a conversion.
The tragedy will continue to unfold, and at a faster pace. Jews and Christians have learned to accept humiliation. God's love for the individual soul remains valid despite worldly reverses, and failure in the temporal realm provides cause for self-evaluation. Humiliation is intolerable to Islam; Allah sets the spin of every electron around every nucleus by a discrete act of will, and reverses in the temporal world challenge Islam's promise of success.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

US Abandoning Taiwan?

Dr. Thomas Barnett, author of The Pentagon's New Map, has some interesting thoughts regarding Taiwan in light of president Bush's re-election. Regarding Taiwan, he says:

... we cede control of the situation to that island and whatever leader it happens to elect. Because of our "defense guarantee" offered decades ago in an entirely different strategic environment, Taipei gets to drive U.S. national security policy toward China on this issue, which is just plain nuts.

The notion that America would sacrifice thousands and thousands of its troops to defend Taiwan from China after Taipei decided that it just couldn't live anymore without the word "Taiwan" appearing in parentheses behind its official name of Republic of China (a notion some experts fear will be explored following the coming December elections) is bizarre beyond belief. Taiwan isn't going anywhere economically except into China's orbit, as is the rest of Asia. That's an historical reality that's unfolding whether Taipei likes it or not. China isn't interested in torpedoing its economic juggernaut in order to militarily threaten—much less conquer—Taiwan. All it wants is to maintain the illusion that someday the two countries will be joined, even if they maintain completely separate governments and militaries. In short, China wants only to prevent the sense that reunification is impossible, and if that's the price for locking the Chinese into a strategic relationship at today's prices, I say we pay it.

The reality is, when push comes to shove on Taiwan, the U.S. won't be willing to come through on that defense guarantee. We decide when we go to war with other countries. We don't leave that decision to some politician in Taiwan whose dream of national self-actualization could easily end up costing America a huge number of casualties. It just ain't going to happen, and when you slap that operational reality up against the long-term strategic background of our emerging partnership with China on a host of global issues, even entertaining that notion seems rather incredible.

The Chinese leadership (not the people) are happy Bush won, because they see a guy they believe they can deal with him on economic issues effectively. The neocons have shown a willingness in the past to make difficult calls when the time called for it. They better be ready for one over Taiwan, because the scheduling of that call won't be ours to make under the current set of "guarantees."

Dr. Barnett has some good points here. Taipei refuses to wake up to the reality of how cross-strait relations are going because the ruling party's constituency does not like the implications of that reality. Better to live in the fantasyland of "no matter what we do, the US will come save us."
Strangely enough, with a Kerry victory looking likely, the DPP started getting realistic about buying weapons. That furor has now died down since Bush has been re-elected. That money will now be likely spent on those political bribes necessary to keep the DPP in power; i.e. pay raises for teachers, more government handouts, more money put into outdated government monopolies. The fact that none of those things matter if missiles are being fired at us means nothing in DPP fantasyland.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

To Those That Emote Rather than Argue...

realize this: the marketplace of ideas does not work without the common currency of reason.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

A Democrat who gets it

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi has recently said that House democrats should stand ready to work with President Bush. Smart political maneuvering or part of a true trend towards healing? Here's a quote:
The message from the House minority leader, speaking Saturday in the weekly Democratic radio address, was in stark contrast to the pre-election combativeness of late September when she used the same forum to call Bush's Iraq war a "grotesque mistake."
Seems like maneuvering but here we have more info:
Describing the country as one divided along partisan lines, Pelosi said the split, "rather than being an excuse for inaction, must be a call to compromise and common sense. ... I hope that in this term President Bush will fulfill his renewed promise to be a uniter, not a divider. A new term is indeed a new opportunity to bring America together. House Democrats stand ready to work with the president."
So the democrats are clearly calling for Bush to "heal the nation" but to what extent are the they willing to challenge those in their own party who dividng this country? Shouldn't democrats address the Bush-haters that threw the election to Bush first? Perhaps there's no political capital in that.

Beslan and the Election

Remember Beslan? If you need a refresher on how the school massacre there might have influenced the election click here. I can't help but think that Kerry's nonsense assertion that the fight against terrorism must be brought down to the law-enforcement level cost him some part of the electorate. Maybe in a long-term view, the GWOT could eventually be fought at that level AFTER they have been substantially defeated through an aggressive military strategy. But that wasn't what Kerry was calling for.

This point needs to be re-emphasized now because Democrats must learn to be consistent and aggressive in addressing America's real security needs and the country's enemies. Republicans will need to have their policies critiqued by an adult, mature, non-hysterical, and realistic Democratic Party so that we all can benefit from the interplay of ideas.

Push the moonbats to the fringes (where they belong) and let's band together to defeat terrorists who slaughter children. That would be true healing.

Democrats: What not to do in the future

Here is a great response from one young voter detailing why she didn't vote for Kerry despite being somewhat sympathetic to liberal positions. The whole thing is great but this part really says it all:
Lastly, and I hope this doesn't hurt anyone feelings, because my objective is to make you think, not emote: I don't think you really want my vote. I actively sought out your perspective. I tuned in regularly, for months, to your biggest media project, your serious effort to get your message out: Air America Radio. I listened all day on Good Friday as host after host mocked people like me for believing in Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. I listened as Janeane Garofalo, who was one of my favorite comedians for years, expressed hatred and disgust for Bush voters so vile that I ended my live stream feeling assaulted, as if I'd been vomited on. I listened the night that Mike Malloy told a young Republican to hang up the phone and go open a vein. I listened to pure, unadulterated venom that was so intense I sometimes cut the stream and cried. Tonight, your spokespeople on AAR have been calling people like me "snake-handling evangelicals," and that was about the kindest thing I heard. Um…y'all? I've lived in the South my entire life and have never met a single snake-handler. Your attitudes, language, and behavior toward people like me: reasonable, thinking Christians who are quite moderate politically and who are just as well-informed as you are (yes, I've read all the PNAC essays, too, and yes, they scare me, too) is reminiscent of nothing so much as an abusive ex-lover, a crazy and drunken stalker. "I'll make you love me, or you'll regret it, you worthless bitch! Come here and let me beat you over the head and tell you how stupid and worthless you are! Then you'll see it my way!"
How arrogant does a political party have to be to think they can abuse Americans and then expect them to vote democrat? When will the democrats stop abusing voters?

Friday, November 05, 2004

What's wrong with the Democrats

I'm having quite an interesting debate with several Democratic supporters over at Steve Clemmon's blog, The Washington Note. As a minority Bush supporter there, I have had the chance to engage with some thoughtful democrats who are interested in reforming the Democratic Party. We as Americans, and even as conservatives, need two strong parties in this country. Everyone benefits from the interplay of conservative and liberal ideas. With that in mind, here are some thoughts I posted here in Steve's comment section:

"But reading through most of these comments, I am once again struck by the outright hatred that many of you have for conservatives. I see it in so many of the comments in which conservatives are automatically defined as stupid, ignorant, brain-dead, etc.
The problem with endulging in this caricature is two-fold. One, it allows liberals to vilify conservatives and attribute the worst possible human traits to their foes. If conservatives are defined as idiots right from the start, then no engagement of conservative ideas is needed, they can just be ignored. After all, idiots don't have ideas, right?
Conservatives, however, have to engage liberal ideas every single day. Our society is overwhelmingly secular, Keynesian economic solutions are in all the newspapers, Dewey's ideas still run the schools, and Chomsky seems to have acquired sainthood. As a minority conservative, I get to practice arguing against liberal ideas almost every time I speak out. Unfortunately, I'm usually shouted down or called a hatemonger right from the start, which kind of ends rational discussion. To sum up point one, what I'm saying is that conservatives are not idiots, we have ideas, and we have gained from being a minority in the battle of ideas.
Second, by casting conservatives as idiots, liberals are left with no explanation of Republican-won elections other than the tired, old security blanket of "stolen elections." Because conservatives are "vile" and "evil," they must have stolen the elections, right? That's what vile, evil people do.
Adding to this caricature that supposedly explains "stolen elections" is a strong sense of liberal entitlement. Since conservatives are vile idiots, liberals must be intelligent angels. I can't tell you how many times I have heard that whatever position Kerry took was the "intelligent" position. Intelligent liberals deserve to win because of their supposedly superior intellects. When they don't win, they don't get what they are entitled to. Please.
My point in posting all this is to suggest to those of you interested in reforming the Democratic Party some ways you might go about doing that. The "moonbats" need to be cut lose so they can go back to the Green Party or whatever fringe group they came from. The arrogant "we are intelligent, conservatives are stupid" attitude also needs to be dropped.
If these things are done, the Democratic Party can be viable again. And we, as Americans, need that. "

Monday, November 01, 2004

The Al-Qaqaa Story Dies

Those Democrats who have failed to learn anything about military affairs were up in arms about the "gross incompetence" of the Bush administration for "allowing" some 377 tons of explosives to supposedly go missing at Al-Qaqaa. Despite the all the facts not being known at the time, many people rushed to judgment because it fit their preconceived notions about the Bush administration. Facts be damned, whatever happened Bush is to blame!

Those of us who care so much about national security that we actually study it as an academic subject don't have the luxury of rushing to judgment. Waiting until at least some facts are in requires some scholarly patience, but at the price of losing that partisan fire. It's a worthwhile tradeoff.

Seen in the larger context of the Iraq War, the Al-Qaqaa story fizzles. See here for a good rap up. Anthony Cordesman, a famous security specialist, gives a key quote:
"There is something truly absurd about focusing on 377 tons," said Anthony
Cordesman, a defense analyst and Iraq expert with the Washington-based Center
for Strategic and International Studies. He contends Iraq's prewar stockpiles
"were probably in excess of 650,000 tons."

What would be immediately obvious to anyone that has studied the war as it has progressed is that Iraq is literally awash in arms. Even if 377 tons of explosives were missing, it wouldn't be a drop in the bucket compared to what is out there. Never mind that the picture of what really happened with these explosives is still unclear, the capture and confiscation of arms will takes months if not years to complete.