January 31, 2003
 
More on Iraq

Steve Den Beste has a new entry about Saddam Hussein’s announced military tactics and wonders what Saddam is trying to accomplish. Steve logically points out the military reasons why these tactics are worthless against a modern army. For those of you unfamiliar with Steve, he analyzes world events from an engineering perspective. This is usually a strength – but I don’t think it helps figure out Saddam Hussein. IMO, Saddam is simply trying to use the Western media as a fifth column to sap our nerves as dictators have done – quite successfully at times – for decades. He probably expects the Western press to use his statements as the basis for op-ed pieces which will claim that an invasion of Iraq will cause tens of thousands of US casualties. However, I don’t think it will work this time. For one reason, President Bush doesn’t care what the media says. For another reason, many folks in the media made this claim when the US went after the Taliban and looked quite ignorant when proven wrong. Like anyone else, people in the media don’t like to look foolish – so I expect Saddam’s words will only strike fear into the French government and some readers of the NY Times.

Speaking of the NT Times, there was an article today that reinforced my prediction that hostilities will commence by Washington’s birthday if Saddam is still in power. For my international readers, George Washington was born on February 22.

 
 
Man-Machine Update

Kasparov and Deep Junior are both 1-1-1 now. Three games remain in their match.

 
 
The German People Deserve Better

Earlier I discussed the remarkable letter of support for President Bush signed by eight European Leaders. Since then I’ve learned a few more things about the story. As one might expect by a letter signed by eight experienced leaders, there were many political implications of the letter besides the obvious support for America. For one thing, the letter was given to the Wall Street Journal, not the New York Times as has been done in the past. This was a clear sign at how fall the NY Times has fallen in recent history (read Scrappleface for another sign). Maybe this will cause the NYT’s editors to rethink their very liberal bias, but I doubt it. More importantly, the International Herald Tribune pointed out a few signs of politicking going on in the EU.

Britain said that France and Germany had not been asked to sign the letter while Greece, the current holder of the European Union's rotating presidency, had also been kept out of the loop. The Netherlands said it had known of the letter but had refused to sign it.

The rush of visits to the White House prompted the German Christian Democrat Elmar Brok, a European legislator, to remark, "The race of the vassals has begun."



So if the majority of European nations had blindly followed the Franco-German position, it would have been an intelligent decision according to Brok. But since they rejected this position and agreed with the US position, they are vassals? Some American critics warn of US arrogance and sometimes they have a point. It’s hard to be humble when you are the world leader in virtually every area of importance. And the critics serve a useful purpose – pride usually generates a fall and the powerful should have critics to help keep them honest. This is one of the reasons President Bush has taken great pains to build an international coalition instead of unilaterally sending in the troops.

However, where are the critics discussing German arrogance? How dare Elmar Brok call eight leaders of independent nations vassals when they will be the ones placing some of their soldiers in harm’s way if Saddam Hussein does not comply with the UN demands! From this side of the Atlantic, Schröder and Brok represent the patronizing European – who presumes he knows best and all disagreement is based on ignorance. Thank God these folk are a minority in Europe and I hope their reign in Germany is a short-lived historical blip. The German people deserve better.

 
 
 
January 30, 2003
 
What are the French Doing?

I confess, I do not understand what French President Chirac hopes to accomplish. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (hat tip to today's Best of the Web), Chirac conspired with President al-Assad to prepare for the upcoming February 5th meeting at the UN. Since SANA’s web site is sometime difficult to access, I’ll post the official release here:

Damascus,Jan.30(SANA)-

President Bashar al-Assad received a telephone call before noon today from French President Jacque Chirac.

Talks on the phone dealt with the latest developments regarding Iraq particularly after the issuance of the international inspectors reports and how can the two countries coordinate at the Security Council in the next stage to prevent the circumstances from reaching the point that may lead to the war on Iraq.


I have written about my hope that Chirac and Schröder will join the international coalition against Saddam in the near future. In my opinion, Colin Powell’s upcoming visit to the UN will serve two important purposes. First of all, it completes the last requirement of Security Council Resolution 1441, which legally required the security council to consult before hostilities commence. Note, the resolution does not require another vote, just consultation. This will be done. Secondly, it gives the nations that have advocated appeasement a chance to save face. Powell will present some ‘new’ information and give the appeasers a chance to say “This changes everything! How can we help?” I still have hopes of this occurring – especially with Germany.

However, unless Chirac wants to isolate France from the international community, I do not understand his latest ploy.

 
 
Feedback from Germany

This email from Hilmar, a German friend of mine, is typical of the responses from Germany that I am receiving.

I think that George W. Bush wants to save Kuwait and other neighbours against Iraq. I can understand he wants do this but I don´t like the idea of an atomic or chemical war which Bush is prepared to do.

I wish Germany and all other UN members to assist in avoiding a war and in banishing Saddam. But I cannot wish my country or everyone else to begin a war against Iraq without having tried everything to avoid a war AND unarming Iraq. That’s the cause why I say: Give the UN superintendents more time or prove the fact that the Iraq HAS weapons of wholesale destruction.


I want to thank Hilmar and my other friends for sharing their perspectives. And I think they have some valid points. In fact, similar reasoning was used by President Bush Sr. in the Gulf War for not continuing into Baghdad and taking out Saddam Hussein. However, at some point people have to act or decide that the effort is not worth fighting over. Reasonable people will disagree upon where that line is. For my part, I think we should have resolved this problem long ago. Despite losing overwhelmingly in the Gulf War and after 12 years of UN sanctions and resolutions, Saddam Hussein is as defiant as ever. If the UN had solved the Iraqi problem years ago, I doubt N. Korea would be acting so belligerent today.

I would like to reassure our German friends that President Bush will not be engaging in chemical warfare against the Iraqis (or against anyone else). If any chemical weapons are actually used or exposed in the war, it will be ONLY because the Iraqis have them and either use them or they get destroyed via bombing. I also doubt atomic weapons will be used. I cannot imagine President Bush ordering this other than in response to a nuclear/chemical/biological attack on America or our allies.

I hope the German and French governments join with the international coalition to remove Saddam after the February 5th meeting at the UN.

 
 
Rumsfield was Right

The leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Denmark and the Czech Republic made a remarkable public plea for unity in Europe in opposing Saddam Hussein. (another hat tip to Beezle for the link). This public statement makes it very clear that France and Germany are those acting bilaterally and the US’s opinion is actually shared by the majority of Europe. Here are some highlights from the article.

The words reflect the anger of some countries at the misgivings voiced by President Chirac and Gerhard Schröder and at what they consider to be their presumption to speak for Europe.

In what appears to be a reminder to M Chirac and Herr Schröder, they say that “we Europeans” had reiterated backing for Resolution 1441 and the wish to pursue the UN route at both the Prague Nato summit and the Copenhagen European Council. In doing so, they sent an unequivocal message that they would rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam’s deadly weapons.



I found the statement of these leaders elsewhere in the Times Online. It clearly spells out why they agree with President Bush’s policy toward Iraq. If you don’t have time to read the entire statement, here are the speaking points.
THE real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA.

Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued cooperation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent.

We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those Resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result. We are confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities.


As an American citizen, I am thankful to see a clear and strong message of international support from many European nations. It remains to be seen if Germany and France will continue to go it alone or support the international coalition against Saddam. I suspect Chirac and Schröder will use Powell’s February 5th UN briefing as a way of saving face and rejoining the international coalition. We shall see.


 
 
 
January 29, 2003
 
al-Qa'ida State of Disunion

(Hat tip to Stephen Green) - Tim Blair speaks for Osama bin Laden giving him equal time with President Bush. The original is worth reading, but here is a sample.

We have faced the mildest, most measured attack our enemies could throw at us, and we have been rapidly defeated at almost every turn. The Muslim people have not risen as one to join my lunatic quest, the West has not been intimidated (well, except for the French) and every prediction about a Vietnam-style quagmire in Afghanistan proved false...

 
 
The Dictators of Europe

Thanks to some bureaucrats in Brussels, pig farmers in the UK and other EU nations must provide toys for their pigs or face substantial fines. This is a perfect example of why Americans protect their national sovereignty. EU citizens are losing their freedoms piece by piece as rules are imposed on them from Brussels. They came for the pig farmers and no one said anything…

 
 
State of The Union Address

I watched President Bush's SOTU address last night with keen interest. I had very mixed feelings about his economic policies and I'll discuss that at length some point in the future. There were some new domestic and international initiatives such as donating significantly more money to combat AIDS in Africa and increasing federal funding for hydrogen fuel cell development. Both of these initiatives are welcome and when the US eventually moves to a hydrogen-based fuel economy (instead of our current dependence on oil), Islamic terrorists will be dealt the most significant blow to their cause than anything else the US can do. However, optimistically this is at least 10 years off and probably more. In the meantime, I want to discuss what President Bush's speech meant for the Saddam Hussein problem.

First of all, President Bush made a logical case for the removal of Saddam Hussein. However, he did not bring up any information that was not already known. Those expecting Bush to reveal a "smoking gun" that would cause France and Germany (and some local Democrats) to fall into line were sorely disappointed.


The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi's -- Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide those weapons from inspectors and its links to terrorist groups.


We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm for the safety of our people, and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.


This seems very clear to me. An Australian writer has a similar take. However, some writers are dismayed. For example, Steve Den Beste, whose opinion I respect, stated The grand plan is to try to pass yet another bozo Security Council resolution. The war in Iraq will be fought in New York. Den Beste does provide some interesting links to other views, including to a Stephen Green who was reassured by the SOTU address - I'm more reassured now than I was a week ago, not less. Congratulations Stephen - I've added you to my links for that one.

After looking at some conservative blogs, this independent glanced at some liberal blogs. These writers seem confused. For example, left-wing blogger Kos stated Bush went out on a limb on his "evidence", so all eyes will now be on Powell to actually provide his "Adlai moment" to back it all up. But NONE of the "evidence" provided, if true, would justify an invasion. And Lean Left blogger Kevin Raybould, who didn't bother to watch the SOTU, opined I would have thought that the Constitution would have made things like this redundant... Everybody should be behind this [Senator Kennedy's request for yet another US resolution authorizing war with Iraq], liberal or conservative.

This is why Independents like myself tend to favor the Republicans on issues of national security. Kos states that even if Saddam Hussein was guilty of everything Bush claimed, we should not invade. Does he expect the problem to solve itself? Or perhaps he hopes the UN will eventually handle it? I would rather trust the future security of my children to a US led coalition than depend upon the UN to grow a spine. And Kevin makes comments about the Constitution while ignoring the fact that the House and Senate already voted on the issue and gave President Bush the authority last October. I don't know if these leftists are just being naive or are truly ignorant of the facts, but posts like these do nothing to welcome Independents to their ranks. And Senator Kennedy just wants another vote when the Democrats don't have to face the voters for well over a year. No thanks, Ted.

In my opinion, this speech was another example of President Bush's MO of being patient and giving his political opponents enough rope to hang themselves. If the Coalition of Responsible Nations is not yet ready to engage in warfare, why should Bush alert Saddam Hussein to what we really know? That would just give Hussein time to react. Colin Powell will go to the UN on February 5 and give the UN one last chance to do the right thing and save face. Afterwards the UN will support the war as they do not want to risk going the way of the League of Nations. I stand by my earlier prediction that the engagement will have started by President Washington's birthday unless Saddam is no longer the dictator of Iraq by then.


update: Kevin has clarified his position and agrees that Congress has followed the Constitution in giving President Bush the authority to wage war on Iraq last October. And our post has helped make Steve Den Beste feel better - glad to help.

 
 
 
January 28, 2003
 
French Unilateralism?

In Cote d’Ivoire, there are protests in front of French and US embassies. Why are the citizens of Cote d’Ivoire protesting? “The protest, they said, was to denounce France for 'putting the country on its knees' and ask the US to intervene in the four month-old crisis.” For some background, see this article.

 
 
Really Candid Camera?

According to CBS News, some British scientists have invented a video lie detector. No wires, no mess - it just records a subject and uses software to analyze facial movements. I'm skeptical about it, but they claim to have an eighty percent success rate. I suspect it will have the same pros and cons as the polygraph. IMO, it will catch most guilty people, but not psychopaths or those who have been trained to fool it. However, the main problem with these types of devices is that they also 'catch' innocent nervous people who just look guilty. If you read the article carefully, it says it can detect lies 80% of the time. Great! But I want to know the rate of false positives; that is, how often does it say an innocent person is lying? The article is silent on that point and CBS apparently didn't think to ask the question.

 
 
Colin Powell Speaks Out

I don't always agree with Secretary of State Powell, but I have been impressed by his discussions about Iraq, Europe, and the States. His speech to the World Economics Forum was very well delivered and received. In Powell's words:

Differences are inevitable, but differences should not be equated with American unilateralism or American arrogance. Sometimes differences are just that -- differences. On occasion, our experiences, our interests, will lead us to see things in a different way. For our part, we will not join a consensus if we believe it compromises our core principles. Nor would we expect any other nation to join in a consensus that would compromise its core principles. When we feel strongly about something, we will lead. We will act even if others are not prepared to join us.


This is the heart of the German-Franco problem with the US. The US is willing for nations (including France and Germany) to go their own way. Conversely, Chirac and Schröder are upset when the US leads in which they do not approve. Yet they see nothing wrong in Franco-German policy advocating positions with which the US (and at least half of Europe) disapprove. They may call this governance in France and Germany. In the States we call it hypocrisy.

 
 
 
January 27, 2003
 
Status Update

Last week, I emailed some of my European wargaming friends and asked for their perpective. I posted the initial responses, but the others that have come in have either been very similar to the first or would create a larger rift between some Americans and Europeans. Since this is the opposite of what I intended to do – and it is my blog – I won’t post these… I do wish to thank all that responded and to especially thank Paul (UK) who called me on his on dime to explain his perspective. I will address some of the questions these Europeans asked me over the next few days. My comments on the UN (just posted) were inspired in this manner.

BTW, I have not receive a response from a French wargamer. Of course, I am not aware of any French wargamers…

 
 
Why Doesn’t the US Respect the UN?

Most Americans have very little respect for the UN or other bureaucrats. In general, the UN is not seen as a force for world peace, but as a collection of international bureaucrats who use US money to criticize America and cause problems.  The US pays approximately 22% of the entire UN budget. 


The United States is a Democratic-Republic that exists under a written Constitution.  The right to representation is very important to us.  So why give power to representatives of dictatorships and banana republics?  The very idea of allowing the UN to have power over the US is abhorrent to most Americans and this is a large reason why the US is very careful to protect its national sovereignty.  However Americans used to support the UN when it was seen as a force for world peace.  But are Americans justified in their current contempt for the UN?  Let us look at some recent examples of the UN in action.



The UN appointed a representative from Libya - Libya! - to chair the U.N. Human Rights Commissions.  This would be a sick joke if it were not true.  That is not just the opinion of America, here are some articles from the UK and France.  Even writers in Pakistan - hardly at the forefront of human rights - condemned this miscarriage of justice.


A fearful Iraqi approached the UN inspectors at one of the UN compounds in Iraq and asked for sanctuary.  This was not an unreasonable request, UN compounds typically provide diplomatic protection to those in need.  At least they used to help people.  This time, the UN security thugs were called and they turned the frightened man over to Iraqi 'police' where he was no doubt taken away to be beaten - at best.


In July, 1995 a contingent of UN Peacekeepers - who had promised protection to thousands of refugees - did nothing while about 7,000 males were slaughtered by the Serb Army.  The Global Policy Forum concluded:



What should be learnt from this? It is important not to heap blame on the Dutch. The Dutch government, army and Dutchbat itself do deserve a measure of blame, but culpability spreads wider. The UN was hampered by a disagreement at the highest level between participating governments. America was committed to a policy of "lift and strike." It wished to lift an embargo on supplying arms to the Muslims, whom it favoured, and was keen to use air power against the Serbs.


For reasons still understandable, other governments thought that feeding arms into the country would only intensify the conflict, while they would not support air strikes against the Serbs alone. In the end, by supplying arms and training to the Croats, the Americans got the better of the Serbs. Much later, by bombing Serbia during the Kosovo war, they broke Serbian power altogether.



The UN bureaucracy could not bring themselves to authorize force to resolve the issue.  Even their armed Peacekeepers did little to protect those they had promised protection.  It was only the 'unilateral' decision of the US Government to forcibly intervene that stopped the conflict.  Is it any wonder that Americans do not trust the UN to protect human life?  The question for Americans is why do so many Europeans respect the UN?



I think these examples should be enough for anyone.  Glenn Reynolds, the author of InstaPundit, has written a very compelling article showing that nations only get involved in genocidal wars when they may spill over into their territory.  While his intent was not to blast the UN, his examples clearly show that the UN has a poor track record of stopping genocide.  As an American, I am both proud and disappointed in my country's record.  I am proud that we have put a stop to more of these genocidal wars than any other country in modern (all) history.  And we did not do this out of fear these wars would jump oceans and impact our backyard - we did this out of respect for human life.  I am disappointed that we did not act to stop more of these genocidal attempts.  When all is said and done, it is clear that the US record in this area is far superior to that of the UN.


The UN could still have a helpful role in world affairs, but they need to clean up their own house before being treated seriously by Americans.  However, they had better hurry or America may just withdraw from it.  We have more effective uses for our money than funding people to criticize the US.  And it looks like Japan, the second-largest funder of the UN, will be reducing the size of their contribution.  Unless the UN changes course, it will join the League of Nations as yet another failed idea.


 
 
Man-Machine Rematch is Disappointing

Gary Kasparov has been wanting a rematch againt Deep Blue ever since he lost in 1997. However, Deep Blue is no more since IBM had more important things to do than repeat a chess match. Instead Kasparov is playing against a program made by Chessbase, Deep Junior. Deep Junior is less powerful but more sophisticated than Deep Blue. It can only search through three million moves per second, as opposed to 200 million. But its creators say it makes smarter choices about which moves to investigate further, cutting down the enormous number of possible paths. Deep Junior is no Deep Blue. Deep Blue had no need to make 'smarter' choices about what moves to consider - it considered all of them for quite a few moves in advance. It may, or may not, give Kasparov a decent game. But if Kasparov wins it is a victory against a much weaker opponent than the machine that shocked the world in 1997.

 
 
Europe is not a Monolith

It looks like some of the media are starting to actually do some homework. Not much, mind you, but even a little intelligence on their part is nice to see. The BBC states that Europe is split down the middle on Iraq with the UK, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and the Netherlands supporting the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein and Germany, France, Russia, and Greece supporting appeasement and delay. It is notable that the BBC includes Russia in their tally even though they are not a member of the EU. The inclusion of Russia makes the omission of the candidate countries to the EU is glaring. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, and Romania are strong supporters of the U.S. position.

The Times of India has an interesting piece that puts the French and German appeasement policies in a generous light. It may indeed explain this perspective, but then the Times starts painting with a very broad brush.



[F]ormer Soviet bloc countries, squirms with eagerness to take the American dollar and go to war.



While I’m sure these countries will reimbursed for any help they provide, attributing their desire to participate to greed is unkind and unfair. The fact that they are now free nations who spent several decades under the control of Soviet dictators has given them an education of what freedom truly means and they understand the responsibility of free nations to remove tyrants when possible.


In addition the Times of India concludes:



But all that proves is the main faultline on the continent lies between NATO's "older" European members and its seven new ones. NATO, not the EU, is faced with the generation gap.



Again, an overly simplistic opinion that ignores the “older” European nations such as the UK and Spain which oppose the Franco-German mindset. Even Italy has suggested an Italian-Spanish-British axis to rival the Franco-German axis.


At least some media outlets are starting to look past the myth of a monolithic
Europe and do a little homework. The advent of blogs has been good for the established media. Sure, they’ve lost many viewers to blogs, but in the face of competition more of them are actually thinking again.

 
 
NASA: Looking for a Good Teacher

Some hard working and lucky teacher may get a free trip to space. Interested applicants (or those wishing to submit nominations) should visit here.

 
 
Surprise!

I had some work done on my car this morning. As is my habit, I brought a book with me and was reading in the lobby. Another patron was passing the time by watching Good Morning America. At some point, the hosts of the show started interviewing people about the Superbowl. I put down my book for this, because I am always interesting in hearing what the person on the street has to say. One woman really flustered the hosts when she was asked to analyze the game. “Well, just like O.J. Simpson, the game showed a great defense beats a great offense.” The hosts were speechless – then the camera cut away to another segment.

 
 
 
January 24, 2003
 
Choose Death

A big hat tip to Anne Wilson. Earlier Anne suggested that those who protest the "Choose Life" license plates should have the option to buy a "Choose Death" plate. State Rep. John Graham Altman made the same suggestion in South Carolina.

Don Quixote | | TrackBack: 0
Category: Domestic Politics , Category: Humor
 
 
National Columnists discuss Chirac and Schroder

One of the great things about the fast pace of the internet is that blog readers are usually well ahead of the traditional media. But the columnists are typically better writers (as they should be since it is their full-time job), and it is occasionally worth slowing down to read what they have to say. Two blunt and interesting columns appeared today that cast (unflattering) light on Chirac and Schröder.

 
 
International Perspectives

One of the headings at this site is Games. I find large-scale simulations – where each player controls an empire and has to make diplomatic, economic, and military decisions – to be intellectually stimulating and entertaining. One of the nice things about playing turn-based internet games is you meet people from all over the world.

I know the U.S. perspective(s) on the upcoming conflict quite well, but it is much more difficult for me to understand the perspectives of those from other cultures. So I emailed some fellow gamers from “o’er there” and asked their input. Over the next few days I will be posting a sampling of their responses as they arrive. Now, these people obviously don’t speak for their country any more than I speak for all of America – but their perspectives should be enlightening.


From Finland

I do not go to politics much, but I know sometimes you got to make up your mind about something. To me its all the same if U.S. and Iraq beat one another to pulp, but then you also got to take in the consequences that might arise out of this. What kind of mass-destruction weapons is hidden in Iraq, only nuclear or the more insidious kind, the biological?


And if they use these? Which I believe they will if a true war-state is reached between the U.S. and Iraq, what then will be the side effects of the usage of such weapons to the rest of the world. Do we have a similar episode as in some movies, like the 12 Monkeys or some older cheaper movies about nuclear-holocausts and such? I wish I knew and I know one thing, I sure as hell do not wish to find out, I like my life just as it is thank you very much.


Finlands been, from what I've seen from the news, pretty much neutral not really wanting for war. Finlands last war with the Russians or Soviet Union at that time, was bad enough and the effects still linger here. What the actual policies and thoughts are I cannot vouch none other but for myself and I know that sometimes all that helps are to do thought things and hard things and one often has to chose from two bad things. I personally try to go after the least of the two bads. As for Iraq it self, its obvious it has no love for the U.S. but also since its letting the UN officials in and check things out under the pressure from the U.S. shows that it something is happening, either stalling or that Saddam truly fears for his position if the U.S. attacks into Iraq which it surely will lose if the U.S has learned from its previous mistakes in wars, and I hate to bring this up but one must, Vietnam was a disaster from what I understood. Hopefully the U.S. has learned from this one. Only time will tell us if Saddam is delaying or not.


- Jani



From Germany

I'm not surprised about hearing from angry americans, who don't understand why most of Europe denies Bush its allegiance in this point.


Saddam proved uncounted times his will and ability to endanger his region and the environment (ie. the burning oil-wells). He developed, concealed and used weapons of mass destruction. He keeps his people in poverty and illness while building palaces for him and his family. He tortured and killed many thousands of people including some of his own relatives. He started his career as common assassin. There is no doubt that the world would be much better without Saddam in power (this is true for several dictators in the world). The US will probably remove him soon and I welcome this. I hope this war will end soon successful with a minimum of lost lives and shelters. But I would prefer a UN involved solution of the problem. Attacking a sovereign country with armed forces is an action, that should be difficult to legitimize these days. The present Iraq is a threat, but I'm not sure if it is (especially to the US) big enough to legitimize a full scale assault. This question is even more important since the UN has not legitimated a martial solution, yet(?).
I understand the fears of many people that the US may attack unloved countries at will in the future. I don't really share this view, but it worries me, too. However, the clear statements of France and Germany against any military actions don't help a diplomatic solution either. Saddam has to feel force to change anything in his realm. When the US and their allies attack, the french and german will assist at least in some small ways, I think. I heard of german Airvax(sp?), Patriot systems, anti-ABC tanks (Fuchs) that will be in action including the german crew. German soldiers guard US barracks in Germany, yet, and the US forces will use german airports and air space. So the wish of a british soldier leaving Germany with destination Iraq, who asked for only one german soldier to join with them is granted already. I hope the best.


Thriyon – a 28 year-old student



From Andorra

Iraq is a problem. If weapons of mass destruction are found, Saddam must be eliminated. If there are not weapons, there should be no conflict. If the US has documents indicating the Suddam has massive destruction weapons, they should reveal the location of the weapons to the UN, everybody will agree to attack, and there will be no problem.


If for some reason the US does not provide the evidence, and the UN does not find weapons, then there is no reason to attack Saddam.  Saddam is a dictator and oppresses his country. However, he is not the only one, and it would be very wrong to attack everyone for this reason. For example, the US has helped a lot of South American dictators, and they have always been OK with that.


Saddam has done nothing menacing towards the other countries for the last 10 years, so why attack him now? For example, North Korea is a much greater threat to the world, and nobody (even not the US) attacks them.

If Saddam does what the world (the UN) tells him, and no weapons are found, there is no reason to attack him. Israel for example does not follows the UN resolutions, and they are not attacked for that, countries like the US even help them.


I live in Andorra, a very little country between Spain (pro attack) and France (anti attack). Here people like America a lot but they do not like wars. I am not sure what my country will do if there is no proof of weapons presence, but they will probably do like France even if we are closer in culture with Spain.

For my wish, I prefer that countries do not attack and do as they wish even if they have reasons and the power to do that. I would like to have one day a very powerful UN above all states, who would rule and do what is best for the world as a whole and not for countries in particular. The US would do better to spend the billions of dollars they may spend on a war with Iraq in productive ways such as implementing the decisions of ecology decided in Kyoto, or helping the US economy by reducing its deficit, or modernizing old structures, et cetera.


Wars should only be done when there are very good reasons. In this case, the discovery of weapons of mass destruction would be a good reason.


Best regards


Marc


 
 
 
January 23, 2003
 
Rumsfeld strikes a nerve

Before I discuss this story, let me give you some background. There are two internationally respected business papers in Europe. There are many good papers, but the Financial Times and the European edition of the Wall Street Journal stand well above the other contenders IMO. As you might expect, the European version of the WSJ has an American bent to the news. So the Financial Times is THE daily source of perspective on what most European businessmen are thinking. To be very specific, most of the perspective is British, but they have a better handle on eurothink than American papers. In addition, European business papers are more conservative than typical European papers. So when you see the Financial Times using phrases such as “politicians lashed out”, don’t take it with a grain of salt. Rather, interpret it as “The politicians couldn’t believe someone used plain speech so they threw a public tantrum.” Keep this in mind, along with the British love of understatement, as you consider the following.

Yesterday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld berated the media for continually implying all of Europe (sans England) is against forcibly solving the problem of Suddam Hussein. In his comments to the media, he criticized France and Germany as being part of the problem and specifically pointed out that there were many other countries in Europe including those who supported the United States. Not as diplomatic as many politicians, the words of Rumsfeld made quite an impact. The Financial Times interpreted Rumsfield as saying that Germany and France, which failed to back US policy on Iraq, were no longer modern states or important allies of Washington. The FT continues: In response Jacques Chirac, French president, and Gerhard Schröder, German chancellor, tried unsuccessfully to calm tempers, as senior politicians from their countries lashed out at Mr Rumsfeld for "misunderstanding Europe" and for breaking diplomatic protocol.

Assuming Chirac and Schröder continue on their path to international irrelevance – at least from the perspective of the United States – I wonder how these leaders will react when an international coalition starts forcibly resolving the problem of Saddam Hussein without them.

 
 
Good Day for Opinions

The Best of the Web Today usually has at least one comment worth reading, but today was exceptional. James Taranto shares this author’s perspective on the upcoming Iraqi conflict:


All indications are that the president has the resolve to win this war, no matter how much heartburn it causes in Paris, in Berlin and on Capitol Hill. If he does not, he will deserve to lose in 2004. So let the liberation begin.

My sentiments exactly. Unless Saddam Hussein actually bolts (or is overthrown), I expect conflict to start before Washington’s Birthday.

Other interesting stories included:

A ScrappleFace satire about the Axis of Weasels – which will displease many German and French readers; hopefully they will make their displeasure known to their leaders.  I don't think German and French citizens realize how much their governments are irritating the average American who doesn't write editorials to the NY Times.  If these leaders do not come around, expect to see a sharp decline in American purchases of German cars and French wines once hostilities start.  It wouldn't surprise me if GM and Ford employees start a whisper campaign emphasizing Chrysler's German ownership if the Germans stay home.

And a serious link concerning a speech by Down Under’s Prime Minister Howard. He sounds like another “Realist” to me.


I believe that it is right for the international community to try to disarm Iraq. I believe that if the international community baulked at that task, if it walks away from it, if it gives up because it is too hard, Iraq will not oblige by giving up her weapons of mass destruction. She will be emboldened not only to retain them but to also expand them. And the example of that successful defiance will be copied by other countries and we will increasingly live in a world where a growing number of rogue states possess weapons that could do enormous damage not only to their neighbours but to the broader community.

This is leadership.

 
 
Perfume from Space

The Columbia is helping in the evaluation of a potential space-based business: perfumes. Apparently gravity affects the metabolisms of plants in (currently) unpredictable ways. One of the effects of this metabolism change is a change in fragrance. Perfume manufacturers are giddy about the potential for obtaining new scents, especially if they can obtain the exclusive rights.

When private enterprises finally get into orbit on a regular basis, oil production sounds like a winner. The article doesn’t mention this, but fragrant oil production has additional advantages for a space-based business. Space station residents will see the plants as an asset and the oil itself has a high value-to-mass ratio. This is vital, because the shipping costs will be high. Not nearly as much as shipping items to orbit, but they still will be significant.

 
 
Welcome Wildmonk

Yours truly just learned (hat tip to Joe Katzman) about another new blog with a political personality test. I took the test and received an 81. According to Wildmonk, this makes me a "Realist" according to the right and a "Capitalist Stooge" according to the left. At the time I took the poll, 3,700 people had completed the survey and 19% were also labeled as Realists/Capitalist Stooges. I was also informed that On a rationality scale, where 0 is irrational and 10 is rational, you scored: 10. Note that rationality scores are not based on answers to any of the questions relating to support for war.

It is important to note that is a War Personality Test - it doesn't ask any questions about one's perspectives on other issues such as abortion, economics, etc. So while I remain a political Independent, I don't mind being considered a Realist by the Right and a Capitalist Stooge by the Left when it comes to matters of international security. Leftists are fairly naïve on this issue, their ideas result in human misery as epitomized (or should that be nadirized?) by the histories of the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and North Korea.

The poll is hardly scientific, but it is interesting. More importantly than the feedback, the questions themselves make you think about the probable conflict ahead.

 
 
 
January 22, 2003
 
30th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Under the U.S. Constitution, slavery was legal for almost a century. Many scholars compare the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision – where the “Justices” said States had no right to prohibit slavery to the Roe v. Wade decision where other unelected “Justices” said States had no right to prohibit abortion. For a brief sample of the similarities, click here.

Abortion has now been legal in all fifty States for thirty years. I wonder how many more years will pass before this is overturned. Eventually, I am confident future generations will look back upon abortion with the same feelings our younger generations have about slavery. They will wonder how their ancestors could have done such a thing. Of course, many of their ancestors would not have done such a thing or they would not exist. One of the interesting byproducts of legalizing abortion is the country’s move to the right. Many children who would have been brought up by Liberals have been killed while Conservatives (and Independents like myself who value human life) attempt to raise children who also value other people.

To mark this anniversary, I started work on Solport’s references. Today I completed an initial sampling of abortion sites (pro-life, pro-abortion, and other references).

 
 
Iraq - future hopes and concerns

br />Joe Katzman called this article the must-read of the day, if you haven't got to it yet. I agree - it should be required reading for all politicians and journalists.

 
 
 
January 21, 2003
 
Enough Rope, Redux

I reviewed many blogs to see if I could find a pattern to those who were confused or upset with Bush's MO (see Giving Critics Enough Rope and Enough Rope Revisited). I found an unanticipated problem in categorizing the blogs. I found a lot of blogs that were unfamilar to me and their political leanings were not always clear. So I scratched the idea of seeing which types of people were confused by Bush's MO. Before deciding the search was a poor use of my time, I did find two conservative writers that seemed confused about how Bush operates (Peter Wood and Terry Eastland).

I also found some other writers who agreed with my perspective. Daniel Wiener and Steve Den Beste came to the same conclusion when analyzing President Bush's response to Saddam Hussein. When doing this exercise, I noticed Steve even used the same rope cliche. I am familiar with his site and it is entirely possible that I may have picked up this analogy from him without realizing it. At any rate, multiple people have analyzed different examples of President Bush and concluded that he has a pattern of being patient, letting his opponents stand on a limb, and then sawing it off. Time will tell if we are right or just imaging things.

One useful benefit of this search process - I found some interesting blogs. I've added them to my links for now. We'll see if they survive the test of time.

 
 
Space Satire

A post at little green footballs made up a fake Arab League protest about the first Israeli in space. It was obviously false, with comments like "Yaser Arafat's live speech on the Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite network al-Jazeera today was quickly discontinued as he began talking about 'Martyrs by the millions, floating toward Jupiter.'"

Despite these obvious clues, the Arab News picked up the satire, thought it was real, and ran it. This is a sad commentary on the intelligence of their editors. They finally figured out they had made a huge error and withdrew the story. However, the internet being what it is, Google had captured it. The complete story is listed here because I do not know how long Google will keep it.

Arab League condemns NASA launch
by Arabnews 8:52am Fri Jan 17 '03 (Modified on 3:04pm Fri Jan 17 '03)


We must stop the zionist expansious plans for the solar system - Million Martyrs to Mars!!!

ARAB LEAGUE CONDEMNS NASA LAUNCH
Arab street 'explodes' in the wake of 'illegal Zionist occupation' of Earth orbit

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (al-Jee'ef) - The Arab League "strongly condemned" today the launch of the NASA space shuttle Columbia with Israeli astronaut Col. Ilan Ramon on board. "This is surely but the first step towards complete and outright illegal Zionist occupation of space," said Arab League spokesman Abr Souffla. "We will not sit idly by and permit this usurpation of a cosmos that by birthright belongs to the Palestinian people and their Arab and Muslim brethren. The Israeli occupation of Palestine must end, and the Zionists must not be permitted any further territorial grabs of Historic Palestine, whether in the West Bank or in low earth orbit."

In Gaza City today, thousands of Palestinians marched in the streets, many firing weapons into the air. "With our blood and our souls, we will strike the orbital Zionists," chanted the protestors. Sheikh Yermani-Makr, appearing on Palestinian television, said, "It is not enough that the unbelievers have come on our land, but now they also take our heavens? How can this be permitted?" Palestinian youths also took to the streets in Nablus, chanting, "One! two! Where's the Arab manned space program?" In Nablus, three Palestinian youths were dragged through the streets by members of the al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade, who accused them of being "collaborators." Witnesses said that the teenagers were heard making positive statements about the American science fiction program Star Trek, several of whose main characters were played by Jewish actors. Reports of the teenagers having received "atomic wedgies" were unconfirmed.

In New York today, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that an Israeli presense in space is "unhelpful" and would only serve to further aggravate tensions between Israelis and Arabs. The sentiment was echoed from Madrid by EU representative Javier Solana, who said that what the Middle East needed was more negotiation, and "less cosmic adventurism."

Yaser Arafat's live speech on the Qatar-based pan-Arab satellite network al-Jazeera today was quickly discontinued as he began talking about "Martyrs by the millions, floating toward Jupiter."


Don Quixote | | TrackBack: 0
Category: Humor , Category: International
 
 
 
January 20, 2003
 
Current Events in a Nutshell

The following is posted with the author's permission. The original posting has a nice introduction and dedication.

The Ballad of Saddam Hussein


– sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies with apologies to Paul Henning


Come and listen to a story about Saddam Hussein
Over the poor Iraqis, he did harshly reign,
Then one day his troops invaded Kuwait,
And these rich Arabs were helpless at their fate.

Torture that is, beatings, many nasty things.

Well the first thing you know, the West did declare
“Saddam Hussein, move away from there”
Said "Baghdad is the place you ought to be"
And they blew up his tanks until Saddam agreed.

At gunpoint that is. Only reasoning he understood.

Well now its time to say goodbye to Saddam and all his kin.
He didn’t learn his lesson last time we dropped in.
You're all invited back a gain to his locality
To give the problem of Saddam some finality.

A leadership change, that is. Set the Iraqis free.

And don’t make us come back a third time, y’hear?!


© 2003 by Lance Gentry. All rights reserved.


 
 
 
January 17, 2003
 
Enough Rope, Revisited

I just visited Anne Wilson’s blog. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is always an interesting read. Her thoughts are usually insightful and entertaining.

I was surprised to read her take on President Bush’s announcement (her comments are titled “President Bush goes for fairness”). Like most people nowadays, she is against all racism and is glad President Bush took a colorblind stance. So far, so good. But she surprised me by commenting that:

It took long enough, but better late than never.

This gets back to my earlier post about people not understanding how President Bush operates. The Supreme Court accepted the case on December 2, 2002 and quickly asked President Bush for a friend-of-the-court brief. So what does President Bush do? Consistent with his modus operandi (MO), he gives his critics ample time to speak and draw false hope by mistaking President Bush’s silence for indecision. Then Bush acts as the window for filing nears closure. He wasn’t late, he was patient. This MO seems very clear to me, but continues to confuse many people. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I’m starting to wonder if it is a matter of biases. Liberals are obviously biased against President Bush and it is probably wistful thinking on their part when they predict non-action from the president. But why do conservatives also make this mistake? Perhaps they are used to politicians running as conservatives and then moving to the left? Call this a betrayal bias – so anytime President Bush doesn’t immediately come down on the conservative side, these people start waiting for the hammer to fall. If my theory is correct, only the independents in the middle actually look at President Bush without being blinded by party biases.

I’ll put my new theory to a simple test. It certainly won't prove I'm correct, but could show me if I am wrong. In statistical terms, I’m going to see if my theory has face validity. This simply means reviewing articles and blogs written by conservatives, independents, and liberals. Most of the conservative and liberal sources should be confused by President Bush’s methods, while most of the independents should not be. I’ll also contact Anne Wilson and ask for her input – from her writings I would classify her as a conservative, but she may not agree.

 
 
Fingerprinting visitors - reasonable or not?

The government of Indonesia is “outraged” that their citizens will be fingerprinted when they visit the States. This is the same government that ignored the civilized world’s request to crack down on suspected terrorists, at least until they themselves were attacked in October. Personally, I’m surprised that all visitors to the States are not fingerprinted as a matter of policy. Indonesia does have a point that this is discriminatory, but there is currently a reason why nations with large Muslim populations were selected by the State Department – these are the populations from which al Qaeda terrorists are most likely to recruit. Two al Qaeda terrorists were already captured this way.

Kudos to our military for collecting these fingerprints from the caves in Afghanistan. Although it is really too bad this was revealed. I don’t know if some governmental agent wanted some good press or some irresponsible newsperson found the scoop, but I wonder how many other terrorists would have been caught if this had been kept quiet.

As more criminals are caught by this policy, I suspect it may eventually expand to all visitors to the States. This would probably make international crime more difficult (i.e., less profitable). It would also have the side effect of negating the discrimination claims.

 
 
Giving Critics Enough Rope

I am amazed at how the mainstream media continues to underestimate and misunderstand President Bush. While I certainly do not agree with all of President Bush’s decisions (for example, his imposition of steel tariffs was a horrible mistake – for all his faults, Bill Clinton would have never done this), I do respect President Bush’s competence and think he is fairly predictable. In his entire political career, George W. Bush has a pattern of giving his opponents enough rope with which to hang themselves. He did it again this week.

After he showed his disfavor with Trent Lott, the mainstream media discussed what Senator Lott's problems meant for the Republican party. For some reason, they mostly concluded that President Bush would not renominate Judge Pickering for an appeals court seat and that the White House would remain silent on the University of Michigan race case. Most presidents would have given a speech explaining that Pickering was unfairly denied a vote by 10 liberal Democrats. Most presidents would have pointed out that they were against all racism and that by selecting some students by race, the UM policy was racist and unethical.

President Bush remained silent. It was only after most of his critics had made their positions known and congratulated themselves on their perception that President Bush acted. To the surprise of most in the media, President Bush acted in the way most non-media types would have expected. He renominated Judge Pickering. Even after this example of Bush’s consistency and his refusal to bow to liberal expectations, the media wondered if the White House was hesitating to weigh in on the University of Michigan case. Of course not. The administration was simply giving their opponents more rope. And after the media had spent much effort on this issue, the White House came out against racism in any form.

To me, the real question is what was the Administration doing all of these weeks? President Bush’s response was probably written in a day. Obviously, while the media was making erroneous predictions, President Bush was concentrating on the upcoming war with Iraq and his tax reform package. And for those still predicting President Bush won’t dethrone Suddam Hussein – have some more rope.

 

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