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  • Archive for March, 2003

    Hello

    Posted by Andy B on 31st March 2003 (All posts by )

    Hello all, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Andy Bizub, I am coming to you live from Chicago, where I met Jonathan several years ago. He had gone temporarily insane, and moved to Chicago rather than stay in cold dreary Florida. Since so many are exhausted with the war talk, let me throw out an interesting little local story. As you may or may not know, Chicago has, or rather, HAD a small lakefront landing strip named Meigs Field, mostly used by small commuter craft. Our Honorable mayor daley has wanted to shut this facility for years, and battled with various groups to do so, with no success. Well, seems as though he just got tired of working within the system, so last night, under cover of darkness, he sent in city crews to literally chop up the concrete runway, thereby destroying the facility, with airplanes still parked on the tarmac. (These planes are now stranded there, I don’t think this occurred to them.) For those of you not intimately familar with my fair city, this is how we do things up here, so WATCH IT!

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    Photo

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Rover

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    Blog Maintenance

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th March 2003 (All posts by )

    I cleaned up the blogroll again — updated some links, recategorized others, deleted some that didn’t work or connected to dormant blogs. Let me know if I should change anything else.

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    Time is not on our side.

    Posted by Jonathan on 27th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Jed Babbin at NRO discusses how the Iraqi regime might exploit international and, especially, domestic U.S. opposition to the war to generate a cease fire. That’s all the regime needs, because it must only survive, whereas we have to win.

    The U.S. may be in a position vis a vis Iraq similar to that faced chronically by Israel in responding to existential threats. Israel has typically (cf., 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2002) been forced to fight quickly enough to meet its military objectives before bigger countries intervened to stop the war. The United States faces relatively little effective international pressure (though there is some, particularly as we want to keep the UK on board and are sensitive to Tony Blair’s concerns). What should worry us more is the possibility of significant domestic political opposition should our military efforts appear to bog down. The “anti war” demonstrators are not very effective, and may even be generating support for the war, but it’s obvious that much of the press is hostile to the war effort and so are leading Democratic politicians. These latter groups will not hesitate to exploit military setbacks for political gain to the extent they can get away with doing so.

    Things appear to be going well but anything can happen. The Iraqi regime may be more resourceful and tenacious than the Taliban was. I hope that our war planners understand that our efforts in Iraq face political as well as military danger, and that the political risk increases with time. We should keep moving militarily and not stop until we win.

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    Turkey blackmailed?

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 27th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Glenn Reynolds links to this article by Michael Leeden and quotes this passage:

    The leaders insisted on a disciplined “no” vote because of pressure – some would call it blackmail – from France and Germany. The French and German governments informed the Turkish opposition parties that if they voted to help the Coalition war effort, Turkey would be locked out of Europe for a generation. As one Turkish leader put it, “there were no promises, only threats.” One can describe this behavior on the part of our erstwhile Old Europe allies only as a deliberate act of sabotage against America in time of war. I think that when the events of the past few months are sorted out, we will find that French actions constitute the diplomatic equivalent of chemical and biological warfare. Monsieur Chirac has stopped at nothing to try to prevent the defeat of Saddam Hussein, no matter how many American lives it cost. And, more often than not, the Germans tagged along for the ride.
    Please note that Leeden doesn’t offer any evidence for these serious allegations. Such blatant dealings would also become public very quickly. If Leeden really knew about them, the Bush Administration would also have to know, by leaks or intelligence services. And if that were the case there already would have been an enormous public stink about it. The Turks also would never meekly submit to such pressure, as can be seen by past behavior and the way they presently refuse to give way before American pressure. Their intention to place troops in Northern Iraq also can’t be explained by French-German pressure; to the contrary, both countries have urged Turkey to stay out. In a nutshell, if Leeden can’t back his accusations up with evidence, this is nothing more than a conspiracy-theory. I can only wonder why Reynolds accepted it so uncritically.

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    Those Press Briefings

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd March 2003 (All posts by )

    It’s interesting to watch polite, articulate, well groomed military officers field questions from slovenly reporters who look and sound like college students after an all-nighter. Clearly, some of the best people in our society have chosen military careers. With rare exceptions, the same cannot be said of journalism.

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    Worry Not, Lex

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd March 2003 (All posts by )

    Worry not, Lex. I don’t think the anti-war demonstrators are helping their own cause. If anything they are antagonizing the many Americans who are inclined to support our government while our troops are in harm’s way.

    The loony-lefties who drive the demos probably think they are positioning themselves to ride any wave of popular anti-war sentiment that develops in response to war setbacks. I think it’s more likely that the inevitable setbacks will increase popular determination to see the war through, and that many Americans will blame the antis for encouraging and even aiding our enemies. This isn’t Vietnam, where there were widespread doubts both about our tactics and our reasons for being at war. (It isn’t Algeria, either, Jacques.) The case for war against the Iraqi regime is clear. The case for finishing the job — after the first Gulf War and endless resolutions and sanctions didn’t — ought to be clear to anyone who isn’t blind.

    We’ll win, and I don’t think it will be as difficult at you fear. Iraq isn’t 1940s Japan, the hard core of Hussein’s supporters isn’t likely to resist indefinitely. Those who aren’t soon killed or captured face an inevitable choice between 1) certain death in battle, 2) surrendering to U.S. troops and probably surviving, 3) being killed by other Iraqis, and 4) trying to escape while there’s still time. How many will choose death as opposed to some variant of surrendering or escaping? My guess is that an increasing number of them will, in one way or another, stop fighting as our victory becomes increasingly certain.

    International hostility? We ought to be used to it by now, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing us down. The only thing that can stop us is if we lose our nerve, and I don’t think that will happen.

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    Eyeliners at the Fireside

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd March 2003 (All posts by )

    Pardon me a non-war post.

    My lovely wife and I went to see the fabulous Eyeliners last night at the run-down but lovable Fireside Bowl. (See this earlier post.)

    Lisa, Laura and Gel were in excellent form, though their vocals were mixed way too low for the first few songs. Lots of pep, great songs, great stage presence. The crowd was the usual mix of mostly teenagers and a few old fogeys. The Eyeliners closed with Blitzkreig Bop. Hey, Ho! Let’s Go! The Ramones will never really die, baby. We bought the new cd, which I very strongly recommend. Not one bad song on it. (I also got this super cool punk rock t-shirt.)

    There are still a few shows left on this tour, heading West. So check ‘em out.

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    The Fog of War

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd March 2003 (All posts by )

    As I suspected, all is clear as mud at this point. Yeah, the coalition is rolling in. Yeah, some Iraqis are surrendering, some are not, some are fighting in civilian clothes, some are faking surrenders and then shooting a la Japanese practice in WWII. Some of the places in Iraq our soldiers are being cheered as liberators, some, apparently, not.

    Not owning a TV is helpful in situations like this. The noise to signal ratio is astronomical. I don’t need to see the same visual images 70 or 100 times. That adds nothing to my comprehension or analysis of what is going on.

    The only noteworthy items I can cull so far from the blizzard of “news” are (1) the Iraqis are apparently torturing and/or executing captured troops, and (2) Chirac is still going on about the “illegal” war and insisting that the U.N. run Iraq after the war. The first, if true, is absolutely terrible. But, it is not surprising. That is their ordinary way to treat people whom they have in custody. But it is really stupid. They think we are weak, cowardly people who will be intimidated and scared off by their mistreatment of our prisoners. But all it will do is make ordinary Americans really, really mad. I am sure our leftists and “peace” protesters will be sympathetic to the torturers, and say that they have been driven mad by Bush’s aggression, so their atrocities are “society’s fault.” But no one else will think like that. On point two, NRO’s corner had a post about French people jeering at the photos of dead Americans. Laugh now, laugh now. We will neither forgive nor forget. Which leads me to Chirac. It is remarkable that he is persevering in his opposition. I think he is scared shitless about the way this is working out. Good. That man is the enemy. His government is the enemy. I hope our government acts accordingly as soon as opportunity permits.

    Several European friends are all sending me emails indicationg their disgust with Bush, etc. It seems the whole world is against Uncle Sam on this one. This realization caused me to pause and reflect, and I reached the conclusion that the many well-intentioned and thoughtful people who oppose the war are entitled to some sense that those of us who support the war have tried to understand their feelings and have taken their concerns seriously. Upon further reflection, I concluded that the best way to share my own feelings was to offer all such people what is deepest in my heart at this moment — a nice big Jacksonian “fuck you.”

    Here’s my prediction for the next week based on almost nothing: This thing is not going to be anything like painless. There will be hard fighting. Many in Iraq are going to lose everything when Saddam goes, so they have nothing to lose. They’ll fight to the death. So, the sooner our people kill such people, the better off we’ll all be. But it won’t be easy.

    Then, much painful work will remain to be done, in an atmosphere of severe international hostility. Bush is going to have a tough time. But, hey, he wanted this job. Go get ‘em, tiger.

    Here is a thought a little ahead of time. The anti-war crowd is extremely well-organized, networked, and effective. They are actually putting on larger and larger demos. When our troops come home, the people who backed the war will have to do a better job of organizing demonstrations and getting people onto the street. Otherwise, there is going to be nothing waiting for the returning troops but crowds three ranks deep shouting “murderer,” and a hail of flying spit from the anti-war crowd.

    Let’s not let that happen.

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    In The Money

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st March 2003 (All posts by )

    The market-determined odds for the removal of Saddam Hussein from power by the end of March were last quoted at around 78% (and may be higher by the time you read this), an increase of about fifty percentage points in the past couple of days. Markets don’t always evaluate probabilities accurately, but they tend to provide the best available estimates, and they adjust rapidly as new information becomes available.

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    That’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st March 2003 (All posts by )

    Sylvain and Lex: Is the U.S. government’s early emphasis on “shock and awe,” a concept which our media predictably hyped, itself a calculated tactic to intimidate the Iraqi leadership? Certainly we have plans to bomb heavily, and will do so when and if necessary. But the Iraqis watch the same TV news as we do. It would be well worth it if we could scare them, or at least as many of them as possible, into surrendering. Maybe that’s the intention.

    If so, it marks a new high in sophistication for our government’s use of information. This is the kind of thing the Iraqis are supposed to be good at. It would be both excellent and ironic if it turned out that we were as competent in this area as we are in so many others.

    UPDATE: I finally looked at Dave Himrich’s blog, which I found on this morning’s referrer list, and noticed that he has already made similar points. So has Suman Palit.

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    The Balloon Has Gone Up

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th March 2003 (All posts by )

    The day is upon us.

    I’m relieved, I’m worried, but I am hopeful that this will go well and quickly. I’m praying for the troops, for a quick end to the fighting, for a better peace.

    There is going to be a blizzard of news, which will, paradoxically, at least at first, only thicken the fog of war.

    My inclination is to blog relatively little, if at all, for a while. I’m just going to listen as much as I can to the radio while carrying out all necessary professional and personal activities. (Crying children, not to mention opposing counsel, wait for no man.)

    Forward the Anglosphere!

    God bless America.

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    Economists

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Economists in action! (Requires flash.)

    (Via Chicago Boy AB)

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    Predictions

    Posted by Jonathan on 18th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Many people have predicted that the German and, especially, French governments will be greatly discredited after we depose Saddam Hussein — and learn how deeply involved with his regime the Germans and, especially, French were. I agree. I also predict that the war will be, if not a walkover, at least much easier than critics anticipate (Perry DeHavilland predicts the mother of all surrenders); that the scope and horrific nature of Hussein’s atrocities will be revealed to exceed even our worst estimates; and, if I am right on my first two predictions, that George W. Bush’s father, and some of his father’s key advisors, will come out of this looking worse for not having finished the job the first time around.

    Salam reports that life for ordinary Iraqis has been worse during the past ten years of anti-regime sanctions than it was prior to the Gulf War. He may be right. You can interpret what he says in a couple of ways:

    1) America’s use of force against Iraq in 1991, followed by sanctions, was a bad idea. We harmed innocent Iraqis and made Saddam Hussein into more of a monster than he already was.

    2) America used inadequate force against Saddam Hussein in 1991. Our subsequent imposition of sanctions was a cop-out, a cheap substitute for additional force that showed Hussein we weren’t serious about stopping him and that he could do whatever he wanted without serious consequence.

    Leftist elites in Europe and the U.S. tend to believe the first explanation. I believe the second one. I suspect that if the coming war is relatively easy, Bush Sr.’s decision to withdraw prematurely from Iraq in 1991, and our subsequent betrayal of Iraqi Shiites in their post-war uprising (not to mention the 1995 northern rebellion from which Clinton precipitously withdrew support, and perhaps even our double-cross of the Kurds in the 1970s), will come under renewed scrutiny. They should. Policies under which we sometimes allowed allies to twist in the wind may have made some sense under old-style “stability” politics, but they taught opponents of tyrannical regimes that the U.S. can’t be counted on. I think that’s been one of the main reasons for Arab opposition to our imminent attack on Hussein: they haven’t believed that we would go through with it, and consequently they didn’t want to risk Hussein’s revenge if they cooperated with us. If we want these people’s trust (e.g., to facilitate “regime change”), we should follow through on our talk and actions. People who get shafted have long memories. Our elected officials and foreign-policy appointees sometimes act as though they’re off the hook for previous administrations’ actions. They are not.

    The easier the coming war is, the more it will appear that the first President Bush was excessively cautious and lacking in vision. I hope that afterwards we will reevaluate the cynical assumptions by which we overvalued the short-term stability of despotic regimes and discounted the noble dreams of pro-U.S. freedom fighters.

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    Bush’s Speech

    Posted by Lexington Green on 17th March 2003 (All posts by )

    I heard it on the radio.

    My sister is my bellwether on most political things. She has a really good gut. As Bush finished his speech the phone rang. “Home run,” she said.

    It was certainly unambiguous. 48 hours, then a time of our choosing.

    All the chit-chat is now moot. The French, and who knows who else, will continue to talk for a while. My peacenik acquaintances are literally crying. They’ll have more candle-lit songfests. But it doesn’t matter. We’re done talkin’.

    It’s too bad it came to this. But it is what it is and wishing it was something else won’t make it something else. Thank God Bush knows that.

    May God bless our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, and our allies who will fight beside them. May God have mercy on the Iraqis who are going to be under the bombs. My He grant them and us a safer and more just and more peaceful future.

    Update: Here is the transcript via Instapundit.

    Update 2: Dixie Flatline brings down the hammer.

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    Changes To This Blog

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th March 2003 (All posts by )

    I have eliminated some links and reclassified others, in an attempt to rationalize and reduce the blogroll. I did not delete links for any currently active blogs, so if your blog appears to have disappeared from the list, it is probably still listed but in a different category. (If it is gone entirely, please let me know and I will relist it.) Thanks.

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    Is western politics going global?

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Brian Micklethwait thinks so. I agree. His points about England are difficult to dispute. I think the same argument also applies to Israel, where the pattern since the early 1990s has been one of tacit alliance between Labor and U.S. Democrats, and between Likud and the Republicans. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

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    Photo

    Posted by Jonathan on 16th March 2003 (All posts by )

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    Orianna Fallaci – Overdoes It, Maybe, But Better To Overdo It

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th March 2003 (All posts by )

    She had this much discussed article in the Wall Street Article last week. A friend, OrthodoxLawyerPundit, was worried that she was fatalistic with her evocation of the dying at a new Alamo beneath the scimitars of the Islamic hordes, and he was also concerned that she was being extremely impractical in her approach. I responded as follows:

    She’s Italian. Cut her some slack.

    She says “what if.” This suggests not fatalism but an awareness that going into Iraq is a gamble, which it is. A pacifist would say, don’t take such a gamble. She says, no, take it. If the pessimists’ worst predictions come true as a result, better that she and the rest of us go down fighting for the West. I see nothing to object to here at all.

    Moreover, trying to accomplish something practical by means of war raises all kinds of complications. Asking people to kill and die necessarily means appealing to values and emotions and sentiments. No one climbs out of a helicopter into enemy gunfire, or crawls on their belly in the mud to mark a target with a laser target designator, or drives a tank toward an enemy position, as a result of a cold-hearted cost/benefit calculus. You do it out of love, loyalty, professionalism, devotion to the cause, devotion to your comrades. Similarly, kissing your husband and watching him climb on board a troop transport and waving goodbye and forcing a smile requires courage as well. If this is “practicality” it is an exalted form of practicality.

    Ms. Fallaci is right to make a stirring appeal. She is facing the fact that death and defeat are always possible for individuals as well as for civilizations. We will conquer Iraq. But that is one battle. The war will be long and difficult. She is also right to show that even the worst prospects do not scare us off. Bin Laden said the West is weak because we love life but they love death. We have to prove him wrong. We haven’t yet. And doing so is going to take a long time and a lot more blood to prove it. God alone knows if we are up to the struggle. We might not be. The day Manhattan is demolished by an atomic bomb will be a day when the survivors will reassess their commitment to the struggle. That day may come. I think it is more likely than not.

    Long, bitter struggles require a Churchill, a Lincoln. Fallaci is apparently all we’ve got at the moment, which is sad. I’ll take her.

    OrthodoxLawyerPundit basically agreed with all this. But Lex cannot resist the desire to keep typing, as many of you have probably figured out, and I responded further:

    S

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    Taki Has Lost It

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th March 2003 (All posts by )

    My friend HeadHunterPundit sent me this recent column from Taki. I responded as follows:

    I like Taki, particularly his gossipy column in the Spectator. But he has been deeply mistaken about this whole Iraq thing all along, and it is a pity that he has signed on with the certifiably mad Pat Buchanan. This column is just one more egregious example.

    Taki says “hear, hear” to this: “unless we address the reason these people hate us, we will never be safe.” The way we are going to address the reasons these people hate us is by liberating Iraq and imposing not “democracy” generically, but free institutions to the extent possible. (See links here.) The bottom line is the Iraqis are capable of a much better government than they have now, and it is both humane and good policy for us to help them achieve it. And since when did he become a “root causes” liberal?

    He also implies that this type of thing cannot be imposed by force. Wrong. Despite mythology to the contrary, it has been done by force pretty much every time. Democracy is not a hothouse flower. Democracy comes at bayonet point. The British Parliament fought a civil war against the Crown. We did the same thing. Western Europe is democratic because of American tanks. The whole stupid litany that “war never solved anything” barely needs rebuttal. War solved whether we’d be ruled by England, it solved whether a slave-owning confederacy would secede or not, it solved whether the Third Reich would continue to exist, it solved whether the communists would take over Vietnam. War resolves all kinds of important questions, sometimes favorably. It will resolve that Iraq is not going to live under a junior-league Stalin much longer.

    Taki writes that “Saddam will die amid the rubble, and the Arab world will sink into despair” — there is no evidence for this, either. Al Jazeera had a poll recently, and Saddam’s stock is at an all time low in the Arab world. In George Patton’s words, people love a winner and despise a loser. The Arabs are stuck with crappy governments. They’d like to be rid of them. In that, they are no different from anybody else. Our long-standing policy has been to support and sustain dictatorships in the Arab world for the sake of “stability.” 9/11 showed we weren’t buying a very good brand of stability. Time for a new approach.

    Taki then contradicts himself and says “the Arab street” will rise up and do … what exactly? Have some riots? Maybe. Probably not. And, anyway, why does it matter?

    “America has a habit of leaving the scene, as in Vietnam, for example. Does anyone truly believe that we will sit in Iraq for the next 25 years trying to establish a democracy?” Wrong again. We are in Puerto Rico 105 years later. We are in Korea 50 years later. We are in Germany nearly 60 years later. We are supporting Taiwan through thick and thin after 55 years. We’re in Bosnia with no sign we’re ever leaving. The idea that America has no staying power is a falsehood which can’t stand five seconds of reflection. We left Vietnam because the Communists waged a relentless and successful war against us, backed by the Soviets and Chinese, and we only left after losing tens of thousands of ours and killing hundreds of thousands of theirs. There is no analogy. Saddam has no friends. Any guerrilla resistance will have few friends, certainly not a nuclear-armed superpower as a backer. No one is going to push us out of Iraq. There is no analogy to Vietnam at all.

    “Saddam’s dying words,” Taki says, will be: “I never thought I’d live to see the day — when a Bush would make me a hero.” — No chance. Saddam is not a hero to anyone. There is essentially no nostalgia for Hitler in Germany. There will be none for Saddam. Hitler was a thug who led his country to disaster. Same with Saddam. The Iraqi people are his victims. Neither they nor anyone else in the Arab world will see Saddam as a martyr. They will see him as a nutcase and a failure.

    Taki’s biggest problem seems to be that he doesn’t like Jews. This little quip: “Sharon’s — sorry, Bush’s — next target” shows Taki’s baseless belief in a Jewish conspiracy behind all this. The fact is that the Israelis are very upset that Bush has repeatedly said that there is going to be a Palestinian state. The Israelis have always opposed that. The Bush family has never been particularly pro-Israel, and this Bush isn’t particularly pro-Israel. The last thing the Israeli Right wants is some kind of legitimate Palestinian entity it has to actually deal with and talk to rather than shoot at. Bush is jamming a Palestinian state down their throats. So much for Bush being a puppet of ”the Jews.”

    Taki recalls that Bismarck said that the some piece of real estate was not worth the life of a single Pomeranian grenadier. Bismarck was talking about the Balkans, an area of peripheral importance then and now. However, were Bismarck miraculously restored to life and plunked down at the table with Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice it would not take a lengthy power-point presentation for the old man to see that the Persian Gulf area with its oil supplies is a highly critical area for the United States and the world economy. Moreover, the Middle East is the source of potentially devastating terrorism, and this must be addressed proactively. Again, no analogy whatsoever to the situation Bismarck was facing. A more apropos quote from Bismarck would be this: “It is not by speeches and debates that the great issues of the day will be decided, but by blood and iron.” I’d like to send our resurrected Bismarck to the UN to tell that to M. Villepin, Herr Fischer and Tariq Aziz.

    Taki, the astute and cynical man about town, the world-weary but good-hearted and well-spoken wastrel, a man who is usually so perceptive and funny, has completely lost his marbles on this issue.

    This whole ugly business has had the strange and distressing effect of dividing all kinds of people who by rights ought to be on the same side. I’m looking forward to having Taki back onside. Maybe he needs to be deprogrammed from his recently acquired “Buchananism.”

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    Lex Displays Previously Unsuspected Francophilia

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th March 2003 (All posts by )

    I got an email the other day from ParisLawyerPundit, which contained a joke with a punchline about the French not having balls. I had just finished Churchill’s essay on Clemenceau in his “Great Contemporaries”. As always with any topic handled by Churchill, I was fired up. The tiny embers of regard I had for France had been blown into a blaze. I responded to PLP as follows with this passage from Churchill’s essay about Clemenceau:

    Such was the man who, armed with the experience and loaded with the hatreds of half a century, was called to the helm of France in the worst period of the War. Many of the French generals were discredited, and all their plans had failed. Widespread mutinies had with difficulty been suppressed at the front. Profound and tortuous intrigues gripped Paris. Britain had bled herself white at Paschendaele, the Russians had collapsed, the Italians were at the last gasp, and the Americans were far away. The giant enemy towered up, brazen, and so far as we could see, invulnerable. It was at this moment, after every other conceivable combination had been tried, that the fierce old man was summoned to what was in fact the Dictatorship of France. He returned to power as Marius had returned to Rome; doubted by many, dreaded by all, but doomsent, inevitable. …

    Until the Germans collapsed, they seemed unconquerable; but so was Clemenceau. He uttered to me in his room at the Ministry of War words he would afterwards repeat in the tribune: “I will fight in front of Paris. I will fight in Paris. I will fight behind Paris.” Eveyone knew this was no idle boast. Paris might have been reduced to the ruin of Ypres or Arras. It would not have affected Clemenceaus’ resolution. He meant to sit on the safety-valve, till he won or till all his world blew up. He had no hope beyond the grave; he mocked at death; he was in his seventy-seventh year. Happy the nation which when its fate quivers in the balance can find such a tyrant and such a champion.

    I went on:

    Let us also recall Marshall Ney at the Berezina, casting aside the scabbard, leading his frozen band in desperate attacks through the snow shielding the Grande Armee with blows from the encircling swarms of cossacks and the swiftly gathering Russian host, and Napoleon’s engineers, chin deep in water sheeted with ice, building the bridges to effect its escape.

    And of course we hark to the memory of St. Joan in her white-enamalled armor ascending the scaling ladder at Orleans, and her soldiery, with a roar, hurling themselves up beside her, in the teeth of the arrows and stones.

    That blood still runs in the veins of the French.

    They just need to look within themselves, and what they have been and should be and can be again, and then look clearly at the surrounding world. They need to realize that dire threats are massing, that insane and evil criminals are struggling to obtain horrendous weapons, that the Rights of Man and the Magna Carta and the Constitution will all end up in the rubbish heap if these monsters are allowed to strike us all as they so desperately wish to do. Wake up, my friends, wake up. Then think, look, see who your real friends and your real enemies are.

    So, there you have it. Surrender in the face of danger is not a genetic French characteristic. Far from it. It is a political choice this leadership is making, and which this generation of Frenchmen and women are tolerating and approving. The poilus of Verdun, Napoleon and his grognards, Turenne and his greycoats, Charles Martel and his mail-clad knights — all are scowling down from the French corner of the feasting hall in Valhalla.

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    Throw Tony from the train.

    Posted by Jonathan on 15th March 2003 (All posts by )

    Bush should cut our losses in the UN and attack Iraq. Instead he is giving our enemies more time in a forum where we are at a disadvantage. If we have to fight without the UK, so be it. The costs of delay will soon exceed, if they do not already, the benefits of having Britain on board. The costs of appearing weak because we are over committed to the UN process, and thus seem (probably inaccurately) unwilling to fight, could be even higher.

    Our enemies are militarily weak but effective with rhetoric and propaganda. It’s time to put them on the defensive militarily. Further negotiation — which by now consists mainly of bribery and incremental abandonment of our principles — is not likely to be effective and weakens us by making us seem afraid to fight. Bush’s hyped announcement of a supposed breakthrough between Israelis and Palestinians makes the situation even worse, because it comes across, at best, as a transparent attempt to distract from our faltering efforts in the UN. (Why, now, do we propose to rescue Saddam Hussein’s ally Arafat from his political grave?) At worst, this latest “peace process” gambit is a weak-minded attempt to buy the love of our Arab non-allies. Such tactics have never worked; they merely encourage our enemies.

    I hope that Bush decides to attack soon, with allies or without, because we are frittering away our advantage. It’s time to turn the game around.

    More:

    Lynn B comments on the Israeli-Palestinian angle (via Diane).

    David Warren is on the case.

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    I’m getting obsessive.

    Posted by Lexington Green on 12th March 2003 (All posts by )

    I look at all this stuff I’m posting, and that’s what I think. Maybe I need to ratchet back.

    It is how I deal with worrying about the damned war coming, and the whole ugly situation. William H. McNeill, one of the great University of Chicago historians, said somewhere that every generation lives on the brink of disaster. Right. That’s right.

    I would like to just get in a car, not my car, a decent car, one with balls, and get out on the highway in the middle of nowhere, go 90, and listen to The Ramones Leave Home really, really loud. But I’ve got mouths to feed. So I don’t do irresponsible things like that anymore. No matter how much fun they are.

    Instead, I’m going to put the dishes in the dishwasher, the clothes (the 21 month old puked all over everything) in the washer, pray, and sleep.

    Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O’Hara used to say. Life is good in the heartland. This is a great time to be alive, whatever happens. We are lucky to be here. Rick Rescorla, who went back into the WTC on 9/11 and died there, led his coworkers out saying “this is a proud day to be an American”. Damn. That is not a made up story. That happened. Never forget. God bless America.

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    Why do they hate us?

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th March 2003 (All posts by )

    This article (subscription only) in today’s WSJ sheds some light on the motives of France’s ruling elite, who seem to be engaged in a political crusade–using Iraq as a weapon–to weaken the United States. The gist of the article’s explanation for the French leadership’s anti-Americanism is that the French believe that they will get away with it.

    PARIS — Having done their best to block America’s plans to wage war on Iraq, French leaders are assessing the cost of angering their mighty ally, and are coming up with a surprising figure: virtually nothing.

    French political leaders and businessmen, ignoring warnings from Washington, express confidence France can veto U.S. plans in the United Nations without paying a heavy price in its commercial, political or diplomatic interests. President Jacques Chirac, in declaring his determination Monday to reject a U.S.- and United Kingdom-backed Security Council resolution that would lead to war in Iraq, refuted the idea that France would suffer for snubbing its allies.

    “There is no risk that the U.S. and France, or the American and French people, will quarrel or get angry with each other,” he said.

    Mr. Chirac’s belief in a virtually cost-free veto is shared by many in France, across the political spectrum. “There’s some talk of boycott in the air, but that’s a human reaction, and we can understand that,” says Jacques Barrot, chairman of the parliamentary delegation of the center-right Popular Movement Union. “It’d be wrong for the U.S. to put on trial a country that is standing beside them in the fight against terrorism,” he adds.

    (Note the last sentence. The quote about “standing beside them in the fight against terrorism” does not seem to be intended as a joke.)

    The article goes on to state that French leaders are not particularly concerned about American trade reprisals, but that French political interests are indeed vulnerable. Again, the French leadership sees it differently:

    Many French politicians appear to be in denial about the possibility of a chilled Franco-American relationship. President Chirac said Monday he was confident France would have a role in rebuilding peace in the Middle East after a war.
    Colin Powell, in warning about the political cost to France for its screwing of the U.S., may have inadvertently strengthened French anti-U.S. resolve when he implied that France’s hostile actions would have mainly short-term consequences:
    “Even though France has been a friend of ours for many years, will be a friend in the future, I think [a French veto] will have a serious effect on bilateral relations, at least in the short term

    [emphasis added]

    I don’t think that the French leaders are, pace Lex, our enemies–at least not in the sense that the Iraqi and North Korean leaders are. We do not consider attacking France. However, the French government sees itself as our competitor and is doing its cynical best to undermine us in ways which are likely to get a lot of Americans killed. This is not how allies behave, and Powell and other U.S. officials should be careful to stop referring to France, even in diplomatic euphemisms, as our “friend.” We should also stop suggesting that our relationship with France will return to normal shortly after the current unpleasantness is over. We do not seem to realize that we are sending mixed messages.

    Our problem with France is similar to our problem with the Arabs: they don’t think we’re serious. Neither the Arabs nor the French think that we have the resolve, the bloody mindedness needed to see this war through to victory and to punish countries that impede us. After all, we quit without finishing the job in 1991 and, with the minor exception of Afghanistan, we’ve been bluffing and pulling punches ever since. If we want to deal successfully with the Arabs now, we are going to have to defeat Saddam Hussein and remove him from power–and preferably kill him or put him in a cell with Manuel Noriega. And if we want to deal successfully with the French, we should embark on a long-term effort to marginalize France politically until it changes its anti-American tune. We should also make a point to retaliate personally against Chirac and his political associates. (I’m not sure how much we can do in this regard, but both Bush’s father and Clinton interfered, with some success, in Israeli elections, and we’ve done similar things in other countries, so maybe we should do the same in France. I doubt that Chirac would have any compunction about aiding Bush’s opponent in 2004 if he could do so.)

    I am not convinced that we are ready to take any of these measures. The problems with Americans, as Lex suggests, are that we are nice and have short memories. These are good qualities when dealing with your in-laws but handicaps in international politics. We ought to realize that we cannot buy other nations’ love, but that we can gain political leverage by consistently rewarding our friends and punishing our enemies. Obviously our leaders understand these principles, but sometimes they seem to forget them in practice–it’s usually easier and more pleasant, in the short run, to be generous and hope that everything works out. But we can’t afford that now, and it may benefit us to make a particularly harsh example of France so that everyone will understand that it’s costly to oppose us.

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    Murdoch Controlled Press?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 12th March 2003 (All posts by )

    My pal ParisLawyerPundit emailed today and said the French media are abuzz with the purported demagoguery of the Murdoch-controlled press, which is supposedly responsible for whipping Americans into a bloody frenzy. Weird. First I’d heard of it. I responded:

    Essentially no buzz here about the “Murdoch-controlled press”, and I am a news addict. The “paper of record”, the New York Times, has been incoherent but basically anti-war, or at least anti-Bush. The Wall Street Journal has been hammer-and-tongs for ousting Saddam. The TV networks have been generally anti-war/anti-Bush. The Sun Times, which we get at home, is a Murdoch paper, and its columnists tend to be Chicago Democrats who are, again, anti-war primarily and vociferously anti-Bush. Murdoch also has George Will and John O’Sullivan and a few others who are for the war. It may not be clear in Europe, but the Left here hates Bush at least as much as the Right hated Clinton. Bottom line, there is no demagoguery. The major media in the United States have been hesitant to hostile about a war.

    PLP went on to express good wishes and concern for the fate of Tony Blair. I responded:

    As to Blair, I think he is secure. The Labor Party cannot oust him, probably. He survived that recent vote with half his party and all of the tories. If they tried to bring him down, he might lead a “Blairite” faction out of New Labor and provoke a new election — or form a National government with the Tories. Blair is a brilliant politician, and somewhat like Lloyd George, in but not of his party. And as LG was willing to destroy the Liberal Party out of a combination of principle and egotism, Blair may well be willing to do the same to Labor. And they know it. He led them out of the wilderness, and he could lead them back in again. (See Iain Murray on this topic).

    What may happen is that the British army will sit out the initial attack, but then participate in the occupation and reconstruction phase. This would actually be a decent division of labor. Their ability to operate with our people in combat is limited, and they would suffer more casualties due to their relatively backward equipment. So, if they sit out the initial blitzkreig, that’s OK. However, they are very good at peace-keeping, counter-insurgency and all of that traditional imperial constabulary-type work. They would be a very valued addition to an occupation force. Their General Jackson hinted at this in the interview excerpt I posted on Chicago Boyz.

    I also offered these thoughts on the country’s mood – as if I’m qualified to do so! But, hey, everybody’s got an opinion:

    The American public is ambivalent, though willing to support the President, and they do not like Saddam. This has largely broken on partisan lines, with the uncommitted middle grudgingly willing to support the President. Recent polls show support for the President rising in the last two weeks. I attribute this to the antiwar protests, which always alienate middle class opinion, and the active opposition of the French and Germans, which has angered many people who would not ordinarily pay much attention to these types of issues. Also, I think the President’s patient attempt to go the diplomatic route has been noticed by the public. He is not a cowboy, anything but, and everybody on this side of the Atlantic knows that. Also, Bush’s patient reiteration of the criminality and evil of the Iraqi regime has been paying off. The public agrees that Saddam is evil, even if they don’t think we should attack him. And a certain amount of “liberal hawk” opinion has come around to supporting the war on humanitarian grounds, similar to what drove this group to support going into Bosnia and Kosovo. The thing Europeans seem not to get is that the United States did not perceive 9/11 as a “one off” but as a symptom of a deeper and bigger problem, of an ongoing danger. Everybody who is paying attention expects more of the same. Everybody I know in New York and DC tell me that they expect that there will be a nuclear detonation there at some point. And these are not people who are hawks or even Republicans. And many people are willing to see the government take violent action to prevent something like that from happening even once.

    Anyway, that’s how it looks from my kitchen table.

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