Category Archives: War Commentary

Bloviation From Toronto

I assume that our weblogging friends from the Great White North will have this cretin for breakfast, but I’ll take my shots at his latest Pilgeresque offering from my location in the more temperate latitudes anyway.

America’s allies and friends were initially reluctant to openly criticize Bush’s philippic, but in recent days the president’s aggressive, triumphalist policies have come under fierce attack around the world, and particularly so in Europe.

Ummm….yes. So? You say this as though it’s a bad thing.

Bush administration spokesmen reject all foreign criticism.

No, not all. Just ignorant, America-phobic criticism. Like this opinion piece.

Secretary of State Colin Powell increased war fever by blasting Iran for “meddling” in Afghanistan. This is rich, coming from the U.S., which just invaded Afghanistan, overthrew its government, installed a client regime in Kabul, and is setting up permanent military bases there.

Well, why don’t we ask the Afghan people (you know, the ones who are no longer being crushed under walls, or having their nails pulled out, or who can once again listen to music or watch a soccer game without executions as half-time entertainment) which country they would prefer to be meddling in their affairs?

Threatening war against Iran for seeking to advance its interests in neighbouring Afghanistan shows just how irrational and imperially arrogant the Bush administration is becoming.

Yes, it’s most important that we allow the people who chant “Death to America! Down with the Great Satan!” to pursue their interests…

India and Russia are also deeply involved in Afghanistan; in fact, Russia has virtually taken over the north. Yet there was not a peep from Washington about these interlopers.

I know that this may be an intellectual concept far beyond your meager neuronal capacity, but have you ever considered the possibility that it might be because neither Russia or India have ever funded people to fly airplanes into American skyscrapers?

Fifty years of painful efforts to build a framework of international law are being swept away by the Bush crusaders, who seem to have convinced themselves they are re-fighting World War II rather than dealing with a dangerous criminal conspiracy made up of a few thousand individuals.

Which “international law” would that be? The one that says that people who hide among civilians to avoid retribution, or who skulk amongst a peaceful people in civilian clothing so that they can deliberately murder thousands of innocents are entitled to POW status? Sorry, I’m not aware of any international law like that.

And what do you propose that we do when those “few thousand individuals” (sounds like an army to me, or at least a division, even if they can’t be bothered to put on uniforms and insignia) are sponsored by foreign governments? Ignore that fact? In your bizarro universe, I guess so…

While most Americans continue to cheer Bush’s bellicose, adolescent rhetoric and crusading zeal, quiet opposition is developing, particularly among the thinking classes.

Is the nonsense being regurgitated in this piece representative of “the thinking classes”? If so, please assign me a seat in whatever other class is available.

Given the current climate of war fever, hysteria, fear and anti-Muslim paranoia being whipped up by the White House and parts of the media, few Americans are ready to criticize government actions.

Gosh, do you think it’s possible that it’s because we’d like to hew to the status quo with our remaining skylines? Do you, in fact, think at all?

This loud silence and war fever have unbalanced the U.S. political system, allowing a coterie of ideological super-hawks to monopolize policy and drive the U.S. toward highly irrational behaviour. Congress and the media have become mere cheerleaders for the so-called war. Critical analysis is urgently needed:

Indeed it is. But based on this spew, we can husband our resources, and not search for it from anyone named “Eric Margolis.”

remember the disastrous consequences caused by lack of public challenge to America’s entry into the Vietnam war.

Yes. People like bin Laden learned the mistaken lesson that America will not respond when attacked.

America has suffered mightily and grievously; but pain and suffering are no excuse for acting foolishly, dangerously, or dictatorially.

No, that is apparently a privilege reserved unto idiotic Canadian editorial writers, who are not responsible for the lives and property of Americans.

Wiser heads abroad are cautioning their American friends.

Thank the heavens for those “wiser heads abroad.” What would we do without them? Well, actually, we seem to be doing just fine, based on the war effort so far. While we appreciate the help from the British SAS, most of the rest of the European aid seems to have consisted of sending celebrity philosophers.

To many foreign governments, the real danger is not Bush’s preposterous “axis of evil,” nor “rogue states” like Iran, Iraq, or North Korea. They are far more worried about a rogue America running amok and igniting conflicts around the world.

Yes, since many of those foreign governments oppress their own people, they should be rightly worried about conflicts being ignited. Particularly when they’re likely to be on the losing end. However, Mr. Margolis doesn’t explain why this should worry us evil Americans, or anyone who is interested in human freedom. Or why he is more sympathetic to those governments than ours, or even his own.

Our Friends The Europeans

Lord Robertson says that NATO can’t be expected to support any US war on the axis of evil unless we can prove that they had something to do with 911. Gee, what happened to the war on terrorism? You know, the one that was supposed to put an end to terrorists with global reach?

Apparently, in NATO’s formulation, we’re not allowed to preempt attacks on our soil. We can only retaliate after they’ve occurred. By this logic, we could have done nothing about Al Qaeda in Afghanistan prior to September 11–we had to wait until they actually carried out the attack. Their stated intent to do so, and their previous attacks on our assets (including the first one on the WTC) were insufficient.

Europe had better understand that we are now going to do everything within our power to prevent any future attacks like the ones that occurred in September. In all three cases in the “axis of evil,” we are dealing with nations with whom we’ve either been actively at war (Korea and the Gulf War), or who have engaged in acts of war upon us (Iran, when they took and kept the hostages for over a year) to which we didn’t properly respond.

It was our failure to deal with them properly at the time that resulted in what happened in September, by building a reputation of weakness and vacillation on our part. All three countries represent unfinished business, business for which we were previously unwilling to pay the necessary price to see it through to the end.

Now we are more than willing to finish–with or without our NATO “allies.”

They Should Be Worried

The paper formerly known as the Paper of Record informs us that our “allies” are concerned that we won’t consult them when it comes to continuing the war.

Some choice bits:

The three countries pinpointed by President Bush as an “axis of evil” ? Iran, Iraq and North Korea ? reacted angrily today…

Guess the truth hurts, huh, guys?

…while commentators in many other nations, including European allies, bristled at what they saw as the combative, go-it- alone tone of the State of the Union address.

Bristle away. We took the hit alone. We can deal with it on our own.

If you expect us to take your advice, step one is to offer some that’s sensible. Such a commodity has been in short supply from the Continent in the last few months (not to mention the last few decades).

Over in Russia,

Mr. Rogozin said it appeared that America had forgotten that North Korea had imposed a moratorium on the production of long-range missiles…

No, we haven’t forgotten. We just know that they’re congenital liars, so such an “imposition” is meaningless.

…that Iran had offered assistance to the Bonn conference on the formation of an interim government in Afghanistan…

Would that be the same Iran which, as I type, has special forces in Afghanistan training insurgents to undermine that interim government?

…and that an earlier Washington statement had called for “smart sanctions” against Iraq.

Yes, we’ve finally corralled the idiots at Foggy Bottom who think that sanctions have any useful effect other than giving Saddam an excuse to starve his own people while he builds weapons and palaces.

The problem is, you European elites set entirely too much store by what people say, while ignoring what they actually do. Probably the same reason you thought Bill Clinton was so wonderful (in addition to the fact that he, unlike many of us, loved to smooch your arrogant keisters).

Josef Joffe, a German foreign policy analyst, said: “What was particularly striking is the way Mr. Bush countenances the projection of American power from anywhere to anywhere. He described America in a truly global war able to fight anywhere. There is no allusion to allies at all. But in practical terms, the U.S. cannot fight wars without allies.”

Oh, we have allies. It’s just that they apparently don’t run the governments of Europe. And in fact, if need be, we can do quite well without allies, at least without Euroweenie ones. It will take longer, and cost more, but if you don’t understand that it’s a price that we’re willing to pay, then you don’t understand anything about America.

“We tend to see Sept. 11 in parenthesis, an aberration that is now behind us,” said Fran

Another Intifada?

An interesting article in today’s Telegraph. It lends additional support against the absurd notion that we are treating the Gitmo prisoners too harshly.

Brig Michael Lehnert, commanding troops at the base, said earlier that there were signs of a structure and activities emerging among the prisoners that could be a prelude to an act of violence or escape attempt.

“We’re seeing that some leaders are beginning to emerge. Many have received training and are observing activities such as security procedures. Many appeared disciplined and very patient.”

and

Some have tried to scratch out grids or messages on the floors and others have been caught hiding stones picked off the scrubby ground.

Of course, the anti-American boobwasie in Europe will say that such behavior can only be expected when we’re so cruel to the poor dears. They have no choice, under such inhumane conditions, except to gain their liberty and an end to their horrific suffering by any means necessary. They’re not terrorists–they’re just fighting for freedom, like the noble Palestinians, with stones if necessary.

Let’s review the bidding here. We have a group of people (to be generous with the term) who express enduring hatred of us, and a continuing desire to kill us. They have been extensively trained in all manner of stealth and mayhem. They show every sign of intent to carry out their vile desires, if allowed. Yet we’re supposed to treat them as run-of-the-mill criminals? Not on my planet.

There was another item of interest in the article concerning the news reports that Powell wanted to make some of these vipers POWs:

The leak appeared to have come from the Pentagon, many of whose officials view Gen Powell as bowing to pressure from the European Left and State Department officials who served under Bill Clinton.

More of Bill Clinton’s legacy. Keep polishing, Bill…

National Iranian Review

Professor Reynolds has a link to a BBC story on more incipient revolution in Iran. It’s an interesting story, but what caught my eye were these two sentences:

The reformists believe the next step will be the prosecution of numerous reformist deputies on economic corruption charges as part of a right-wing scheme they believe is aimed at bringing the parliament down.

and

While the right-wingers accuse the liberals themselves of trying to precipitate just such a development as part of a plot to overthrow the Islamic system and to save their own political lives.

Just what is it that “right wing” means in the context of an article about Iran? Does it mean that they want school vouchers? That they favor fewer restrictions on the right to bear arms? Do they want lower taxes? Are they opposed to growth in the mullah-run government? What?

And does it mean that the reformers are “left wingers”? Probably not–this is not a phrase often used in the press, other than in “right-wing” media, like Reason or the National Review. In the editorially-condoned jargon, “crazy extremists” are “right-wing,” while their opposite extremist counterparts are “mainstream.” Often, they’re even the editorial staff…

Some have pointed out that such concepts as “left” and “right” don’t translate well to the Middle East. I don’t think that they’re very meaningful even for domestic political discussions, and are generally a sign of political simple-mindedness. I think that statement holds even more true for this article. But of course, such terminology makes it more natural and easier to call “conservatives” in America the “American Taliban…”

Ooooohh, Nice Touch

In an article entitled “Harsh conditions await prisoners” in the BBC Online, in which they describe the situation at Guantanamo, I found this little nugget:

They will be allowed to pray according to their faith.

But members of a movement that tried to prevent women working may be disconcerted to find that some of their guards are women.

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…

High School Graduates ‘R’ Us

Also in today’s LA Times, in their lead editorial, (which unlike the Bill Press nonsense, is linkable), they are complaining about our new “professionalized” airline-security personnel being allowed to confiscate eyelash curlers and inspect wooden legs without the benefit of a high-school diploma.

Not too bad for the Times. They’ve only got two false premises in this editorial; usually they manage at least the trifecta.

False premise one: that a high school diploma has any value at all in assessing the ability of a person to read, write, compute or think, as opposed to simply having the sticktoitiveness to hang around the high school until the age of eighteen or so without formally dropping out. I don’t believe that has been the case for decades.

False premise two: that people who are intelligent and educated make better nail-file confiscators.

Nope. It’s a boring job. Anyone with a lick of imagination and intellectual curiosity will quickly go bonkers watching luggage entrails go by all day. Ideally, this is a job for pattern-recognition software that could flash out occasional warnings to people who are reasonably intelligent and can do further inspections, but until it’s developed, assuming that we need personnel to scrutinize our carry-ons and persons (I’d rather have them focus on checked baggage myself, since, unlike passengers and carry ons, the passengers and crew have no control over that once aboard), we need people who aren’t easily bored. That doesn’t necessarily translate to HS graduates.

I suspect that if they actually did a study, they would find close to zero correlation between what makes for a good airline screener and HS diplomas. But no fear of that–apparently the airline-security debate will remain a fact-free zone for now…