More on Meigs Field

We move now from the sublimely idiotic to the merely malicious and stupid. Russell Whitaker’s update on Chicago mayor Daley’s wrecking of one of that city’s unique resources provides several interesting links and comments.

Old Europe Checks In

Xavier writes, in the comments to my previous post (scroll down if link doesn’t work):

And how does poaching the best and the brightest from France help the country reform? Honestly, I’m becoming fed up at how unsufferable you Americans are becoming. How is an impovrished, isolated France in America and ‘new’ Europe’s best interests? Seriously, not many non-cons or bloggers ask these questions. Whether you like it or not Americans will have to moderate their loathing for the French.First, you’ll still need to trade with them; second they have information and resources for the ongoing war on terrorism

“Poaching the best and brightest”? Xavier certainly has an interesting way of framing this issue. Talented French people choose to come to the U.S., and he describes their choice using a term that suggests theft of state property (Sylvain, turn yourself in at once!) rather than rational behavior in response to their home country’s failure to be competitive. Next I suppose he will tell Americans they are “poaching” Cuba’s best and brightest — how else to explain why anyone comes here?

Yes, an “impoverished, isolated” France is in no one’s interest. However, it’s up to France to make itself into a country that people want to do business in and with. Until it does so, other countries will hesitate to deal with it. And until it does so, its best people will leave, and why not. They shouldn’t be obliged to sacrifice their time, effort, and capital to support the transnational fantasies of corrupt dirigiste politicians. The U.S., by providing a better alternative, helps these talented French people and itself, and does France a favor by providing some marginal accountability for feckless French pols.

As for American “loathing” of the French, my impression is that few Americans, until quite recently, regarded France as negatively as they do now (I didn’t), or even negatively at all. What changed? The French government betrayed us on a matter of enormous and lasting international consequence, and they did it, apparently, for transient local political reasons. Now they have the chutzpa, which Xavier shares, to blame us for having a negative attitude toward them since their betrayal.

And their betrayal has been a costly one. As Lex points out in the comments section of my previous post, France’s actions, in encouraging the Iraqi regime and undermining the coalition against that regime, made war inevitable and have gotten a lot of Americans — and Brits and Iraqis and Kurds — killed. So does the French government bear any responsibility for current American feelings toward France? No, of course not. It is our responsibility to moderate, as Xavier puts it (we are such cowboys!), our bad attitude. Thanks for straightening us out.

France will continue to decline until its political culture evolves to favor a competitive economy over socialism and international responsibility over self-dealing, monkey wrenching, and cheap brinksmanship. In the meantime, people like Sylvain will come to the U.S., where their talents are appreciated and rewarded, and Americans will continue to distrust and dislike France. France has only itself to blame for this situation. It will become a serious nation again only when its voters start electing serious leaders, and when those leaders stop trying to blame other countries for their own failure.

UPDATE: Xavier posts a response on his blog (Blogger links don’t work, so scroll down if necessary to the April 10 post). He argues that Canada’s lack of political response to brain drain suggests that I am unrealistic to expect France to reform itself in response to emigration. He may well be right. I leave it to readers to evaluate his responses to the rest of what I wrote.

In Your Dreams, Jacques

My French is weak but even I get the drift of this article (Google’s sort-of translation is here). Chirac and the UN crowd resemble not a little the Iraqi official who gives those defiant, delusional press briefings with American troops just a short distance away. Does Chirac really believe that France will now be given free that which it earlier refused to pay for? Who knows. Perhaps he sees his statements as a low-risk political gambit that plays well at home and might pay off big if Bush is foolish enough (he isn’t) to take it seriously.

The U.S. has been wise in not encouraging rebellion in Iraq, but maybe Bush should encourage electoral rebellion in France. We could make an effort to point out to mainstream French voters some of the costs to them of Chirac’s opportunistic anti-Americanism and of his pandering to unassimilated Muslim immigrants. Or, more realistically and prudently, our involvement won’t be necessary, as some French politicians are already seeing the light (see this post by Glenn Reynolds). The costs to France of attacking our interests are likely to become more obvious with time, and French voters will eventually catch on.

(One thing which the U.S. could do is streamline our permanent-residency requirements. Let the best people from France and elsewhere come here. That would benefit everyone except Chirac and the other jingoists.)

Still Lyin’ In The Weeds …

Yeah, I’ve got my opinions.

But, by the time I get a break in the work/kids/life action, events have moved way, way on. Which is good. I don’t want this blasted war to bog down. Not that it will. Roll baby, roll on English-speaking Blitzkrieg, win this thing fast. Then, scrape Saddam’s dead meat out of your tank treads, and come on home.

This war is not over yet, but things will settle down again soon. Then even people who don’t have inside dope, like the teeming millions in Blogistan, will be able to work on a more level playing field and speculate to their hearts’ content. But not yet. For now, better to pay attention, accumulate facts, and stay alert to what is happening.

It is a waste to do too much theorizing right now, or at least for me to. The arguments and “analysis” are not coming out of word processors but off of bomb racks and out of the muzzles of tank cannons.

We are at one of those moments of discontinuity, the dividing point between the “punctuated equilibria” the evolutionary biologists talk about.

OK, I can’t resist. I’ll make one prediction. This short war is a major turning point in history. Not as big as August 1914 or September 1939, probably. But big. Just below that level. The configuration of world politics is changing rapidly and this is the hinge moment.

Let’s agree to reconvene in ten years and see if Lex was right … .

Meanwhile, I have devoted some time to not-the-war. On the highbrow level, I may buy this brand new 5 cd set of Sir Simon Rattle conducting the Vienna Philharmonic playing nine Beethoven symphonies. They are playing it on the radio today. Beautiful stuff. It is apparently not in the stores yet. It is Civilization, it is the West. It is the greatness of the West. It is what we are fighting for.

On the more lowbrow level, I have just been introduced to the incredible Puffy – totally cool Japanese girl pop madness! It is fun, it is silly, it is a high quality product of late Capitalism, it is American happiness being successfully pursued in weird foreign idioms, it is girls being creative, it is a world open and free with money in its pocket. It is Globalization. It is what we are fighting for.

Perhaps I should be more dour in wartime. Naaaah.

Pray for victory. Pray for the dead and their families. Pray for a just and free society to emerge in Iraq which will be a light to the whole Muslim world.

Forward the Anglosphere!

God bless America.

Update: Check out the incredible 6x! (Scroll down to the MP3s and listen to the absolutely perfect song “What Can I Do?”)

The “Saddam TV Appearance”

Saddam Hussein appears:

– In the open, during the day, in a city over which satellites and U.S. aircraft fly with impunity.

– In a city where U.S. spies and spec-ops troops are known to be present. (Remember the pinpoint bombing attack that opened the war?)

– In a city many of whose residents want Hussein gone.

– Surrounded by people, some of whom are armed.

– Next to a major road as traffic streams by.

– Dressed for cool weather.

Yeah, maybe it’s real. More likely it’s a paste-up of old videos. Or perhaps it’s a staged event using a Hussein impersonator — though I doubt it, because the inappropriateness of the clothing points more to the first explanation. It doesn’t even make sense that this video shows Hussein earlier in the war, because, if that were the case, why did the Iraqis wait until now to broadcast it?