This is a pretty good and clear (and short) explanation of how the war is supposed to work. Of course, more can be said on the subject (and most of it is unsaid: what is being done already on the ground by way of preparation, for example) but the point is relatively clear. There is a pretty good plan afoot that will prevent about 80% of the Iraqi military from doing anything at all. The majority will not even try to get out of the barracks, by choice. In other words, the majority will have surrendered at the very start. And the rest will be dealt with. On the other hand, it seems to be the case that the Iraqis have a drone that could drop chemicals on our troops. See this from the London Times. Of Course it doesnt help that the French are still supplying the Iraqi air force with parts.
The Russians might have a different problem. See this piece from the The Moscow Times explaining how the Russian military is trying to get more women into the army: Through a beauty competition. There are some very funny lines, and some not-so-politically correct opinions. Amusing.
Perhaps the explanation for the French problem is much easier to fathom than I had thought. This article from the London Times reports the following on the outcome of a recent study(read it all):
"Four decades of feminism have turned middle-class French men into miserable creatures who are intimidated by women and losing their way in an increasingly matriarchal society, a study says.
Men aged 20 to 45 believe that they have paid a heavy price for the social, legal and professional empowerment of women since the onset of the Pill and women’s liberation in the 1960s, according to the analysis for Elle, an upmarket women’s magazine."
The President’s sober press conference was interesting. The most news-worthy event was this comment, in response to a question:
"We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It’s time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam."
By letting everyone show his cards, we will find out who was bluffing. George Will helps clarify the issue. And William Saletan writes how the French and Germans are conducting a con game. And here is a bit more of an optimistic view by Walter Russell Mead
House Member Marcy Kaptur (D, Toledo) said this stupid thing yesterday; an extract from the story:
"When America ’cast off monarchical Britain’ in 1776, it involved the help of many religious people who had fled repression in other countries, the 11-term Toledo congressman said. Among the nontraditional American revolutionaries were the Green Mountain Boys, a patriot militia organized in 1770 in Bennington, Vt., to confront British forces, she said.
One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown."
ABC reports that the intellegence guys are claiming that the noose around bin Laden is being tightened, and that they are close to capturing him. While I hope this is true, one cant help wondering why it is being advertised if it is not yet done. Unless its an honest discovery by a very clever reporter (I cant imagine an unintentional leak at this point, unless its from the Pakistanis) it must serve some other purpose by the good guys to put such a possibility out to the public. It is possible, I suppose, that he is already caught.
President Bush will hold a press conference tonight at 8 p.m. Although the rumors are flying that he will either say that the war against Iraq has started, or that Bin Laden has been captured, the White House denies both and says its just a press conference. Most probably, it is just playing another hand in the U.N. poker game. Blix is reporting to the Security Council tomorrow.
From this morning’s research:
Nevertheless we might say that all the sins which are due to ignorance, can be reduced to sloth, to which pertains the negligence of a man who declines to acquire spiritual goods on account of the attendant labor; for the ignorance that can cause sin, is due to negligence.... (Summa Theologica: I, II, 84, 4)
Now, get back to work!
Peters comment that the Iraq matter could be the Abyssinia of the U.N strikes me as exactly correct, and I have been surprised that so few commentators have realized that Bush is in a no-lose (or win-win) position. France knows that Bush is going to Iraq no matter what it says. If France and friends tank a U.N. resolution, it will discredit the U.N. (thank you France!) and give Bush a free hand for the next steps (Iran? North Korea? Libya??) On the other hand, if the U.N. gives Bush its backing, then the precedent will have been established for going to the U.N. for any moves against another country down the road. You would think France will want to preserve its leverage to shape (restrain) Bushs next moves after this. Which is why I agree with Peter that this is a bluff; look for no worse than an abstention on a resolution next week.
As this MSNBC article makes clear, the Germans have some very serious economic problems. Does this help explain why Schroeder is trying to keep the focus on Americas Iraq policy?
The meeting in Paris yesterday between the foreign ministers of France, Russia, and Germany was an attempt to put on a good show. The French and the Russians said that they would "assume all their responsibilities" by not allowing a draft resolution authorising the use of force to pass the Security Council. As this editorial in The London Times points out, as the stakes were reaised "they betrayed a nervousness about their actions." And they should be nervous. This could be the Abyssinia of the United Nations, and the French would have most to lose, and also be held responsible for the death of the U.N. The truth is that the U.S. can count on the necessary nine votes because it is not in the interest of Mexico, Chile, Pakistan, Cameroon, etc., to oppose it (Bush has a memory) and also because the war is going to happen regardless of what the Security Council does. See Colin Powell’s speech of yesterday in which he makes this clear, yet again. I repeat what I have been saying for days: Although this diplomatic poker is interesting--and may have long range consequences--it will have no effect on the war that is about to start or on its outcome.
As we watch the spectacle at the U.N. unfold, let us recall one of Lyndon Johnsons more aromatic remarks about that august body: "Why the U.N. couldnt pour piss out of a boot if you printed the instructions on the heel."
Maybe Bush should publicly quote the former Democratic president (from Texas!).
You already know that the news stories are all over the map regarding who will or will not veto another Security Council resolution on Iraq. One day it is said that France, Russia, maybe even China will, and the next day the opposite. Here is the latest. I think this is much to do about nothing. I think these countries are using the threat of veto for diplomatic purposes; to try to get others to do their dirty work (to try to persuade non-permanent members on the Security Council, e.g., Chile, Mexico, to vote against the resolution because if the U.S. can be made to think that it cant get nine votes the resolution will not come up). In the end, I do not think that any of them will veto because one, it is not in their interest (although France has the strongest--long range--political interest to veto) and two, they dont have the courage. It would be a huge thing, with massive political repercussions (the Bush administration would not be amused and relations between those countries that vetoed and the U.S. would take a beating, to the disadvantage of the others). They cant afford it, politically or economically. Still, its an engaging game of poker.
Mickey Craig has already noted in todays WSJ the wonderful article on "The Iraqi Theatre" by William Shakespeare (he is identified as "Mr. Shakespeare was a British playwright"). While you should look at the whole thing, I especially like the one on Koffi Annan (from Merchant of Venice):
"Speaks an infinite deal of nothing,
More than any man in all Venice. His
Reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in
Two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day
Ere you find them, and when you have them
They are not worth the search."
This National Review OnLine article discusses the role of faith in President Bushs Presidency.
The Washington Post runs a full article on how Hillary Clinton is positioning herself to be the candidate for 2008. And--because everything seems to be going her way--it is not out of the question that she could be persuaded to run in 2004; she beats Lieberman by thirty points when she is included in a poll. Worth one coffee.
Herewith is one of many websites that display Daniel Libeskinds design for the World Trade Center: Libeskinds WTC Design
Good enough for government work?
In case folks missed the short but moving reflections of Daniel Libeskind, the architect chosen to design the World Trade Center site, I append the closing paragraphs from his remarks. See Wall St. Journal (3/4/03, p. D8) for more:
"I was very moved from the very beginning in seeing those slurry walls. Despite the tragedy, despite the attack, despite what happened on the site, they stood. And these are the walls that speak of democracy. And I came across, just coincidentally, a passage in the Bible which said "Freedom carved on stone tablets." Thats indeed what the slurry walls are. They are the foundations which remained. They testify as eloquently as the Constitution itself to the value of individual life and the freedoms and powers of democracy.
"The high-rise building spirals upwards to the high point, 1,776 feet. The date of independence is important. Its not a date, a number that will ever be surpassed in world history. The structure is a composition that glows, reaffirms the skyline. And I remember the song that I learned a long time ago about the American flag which said "With freedoms soil beneath our feet, and freedoms flag high above in the sky." And I think thats really what the site is: Its from the depth upwards through the streets to the sky."
Not bad for a 21st-century architect. As for his design for the site, I agree more with the function than with the form he came up with.
Monsoor Ijaz has an essay on how K.S. Mohammed was captured and what it means. Good read.
Simon Schama, both a European and a man of the left, has an interesting essay in The New Yorker about how Europeans have viewed America for the past two hundred years. Schamas intention, clearly, is not to flatter us. But thats OK, I understand something about European sensibilities. Still, it is worth reading for some of the history and because of some of the quotes he incorporates. For example, here is Rudyard Kipling on American girls: "They are clever; they can talk. . . . They are original and look you between the brows with unabashed eyes." Thats true and good. Much can be said about this paragraph, but not now (its Vickis birthday, got to find some delphiniums!):
"Other characteristics of American life alienated the Romantics: the distaste for tragedy (a moral corrective to illusions of invincibility); the strong preference for practicality; the severance from history; and, above all, what the Germans called bodenlosigkeit, a willed rootlessness, embodied in the flimsy frame construction of American houses. Europeans watched, pop-eyed, while whole houses were moved down the street. This confirmed their view that Americans had no real loyalty to the local, and explained why they preferred utilitarian yards to flower gardens. No delphiniums, no civility."
Today is the anniversary of the death of the universal wolf Joseph Stalin who died fifty years ago. I was a boy in Hungary when the tyrant died. Here is what I remember: In public there were parades and events marking his greatness and men pretended to weep; in private, men laughed and whispered truth to their children and drank more than usual, and thanked God for mortality. Fear declined slightly, and hope was visible. Stalin (to use a line from King John) was "The foot/That leaves the print of blood where’er it walks."
Here is what Robert Conquest said of Stalin in Stalin: Breaker of Nations "Overall he gives the impression of a large and crude claylike figure, a golem, into which a demonic spark has been instilled." Also see Solzhenytsin and Alan Bullock’s Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives.
Heres a fine and apt collection of quotations from William Shakespeare on todays war with Iraq fromthe Wall Street Journal.
Schramm is likely correct regarding Boone. Perhaps the keyboard is more difficult to wield than the pen.
In honor of the teacher who banned books about pigs so fast that you would have thought that the paper was rife with trichinosis (mentioned by Schramm here), the book of the day is clear: George Orwell’s "Animal Farm." Thanks to Nat Roland for the recommendation. Worth a cup sipped slowly to enjoy the subtle taste of irony.
Alt thinks too much good about this Boone fellow. True, he seems to have written some few paragraphs here and there worthy of note, yet they may be nothing but quirks of blazoning pens. He is one of those--I am betting grand ranches here--who would delight in saying "devise, wit; write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in petty paragraphs." Such men amuse me not, and die many times before their deaths. Enough Alt, enough! The man cannot do it, it is not in him.
The boundless intemperance of the North Korean tyrant are beyond measure. This piece in Commentary by Joshua Muravchik is very good in outlining what North Korea has been up to, and how we have, over the years, tried to appease them. Long, but worth a read, especially if you are inclined to think that the Bush administration has bungled it (which I dont). Two coffees.
Ive seen Boones writings before, and found them quite eloquent. He or she could make a fine blogger.
I. Boone has two choice paragraphs on the upcoming anti-war happening. I paraphrase The Poet: these are not poets born under a rhyming planet, everything will outlive their powerless rhymes, including war.
This is priceless! "A West Yorkshire head teacher has banned books containing stories about pigs from the classroom in case they offend Muslim children.
The literature has been removed from classes for under-sevens at Park Road Junior Infant and Nursery School in Batley." No comment necessary. No coffee, take a shot of Jack.(Thanks to Andrew Sullivan.)
This is a thoughtful piece reflecting on the latest U.S. vs Old Europe flap and arguing that this confirms that we are really a sea power, and that is what we should be. Here is what sea powers are like:
"Diplomatically, they have no fixed alliances but only fixed interests. They can make commitments, but they want to feel free to leave. And they always like to have long strings of bases around the world. Britain sought all these things in its heyday and America wants to return to them now. That is the true meaning of the phrase coalition of the willing".
The Senate leadership has decided to call for a cloture vote on Thursday on Miguel Estradas nomination. While there are currently only 55 votes, Republicans intend to have additional debate and cloture votes after Thursday.
The resistance is on increasingly thin rhetorical ice. They have said for weeks that they would give him a hearing if he simply answered questions. After the White House sent out a call for additional questions, not one was forwarded to Estrada, and only one Senator (Byrd (D-WV)) made an attempt to personally meet with Estrada. It appears that they didnt have so many unanswered questions after all.
David Tucker writes a sobering piece trying to tie together the three wars (Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq) we are in, or soon will be in, and says that it is not clear that we are winning the two we are currently in. Although a good piece, it is made difficult by the attempt to be comprehensive; in tying all three together (which is proper) he also attempts to differentiate between them by, for example, asserting that the Iraq war may be seen to be the "first counterproliferation war," which has its own problems. Plus, he insists that the strategy involved in the war on terror is imperfect: it is more important to get information about and from our enemies, than it is to kill them, and it is hard for the military mind to understand this. All this is OK, but then he gets utopian when he talks about what a total victory over terrorism would be:
"when the sons and nephews of those who lead al Qaeda have repudiated what their fathers and uncles did." Well, I am not opposed to trying this (and it succeeded, for example, in Germany, Hungary, and Poland; but not fully, arguably, in Japan) as long as we understand that it is both very long range and unlikely to be fully successful. In the meantime, there are pressing things that have to be done: getting information on who and where the bad guys are and preventing them from killing us. Then we can be setting up regimes that are freer and more human for the sake of the sons and nephews (and us). Over time, a long time, they might repudiate and disown their fathers. But there is no guarantee.
Congratulations to this months winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:
For those of you who thought that the interrogation of AQ mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was going to be something like the interrogation scene [warning: coarse language] on the television program "24," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says think again. Reuters reports that Mohammed’s interrogation will be in compliance with "all international laws and accords."
This next item quite frankly left me speechless. I am ashamed to admit that Ms. Nussbaum teaches at my alma mater. In the following article, the only thing which appears to be correct and not infused with utter vapidness or rank partisanship is the spelling of her name. Enjoy the unintended parody here.
Jim Ceasar has a thoughtful piece in the latest Weekly Standard on Bushs leadership by thinking about the idea of history and Providence. In attempting to do this, he considers the recent history of both the left and right, how each has dealt with history, and why one has returned to its Lincolnian roots of duty, optimism and hope. Although the piece is lucid, the subject matter makes it difficult. It merits study. Worth three coffees.
It has been said that President Bush keeps a list of al-Qaida leaders in his desk drawer and when good news comes in he pulls it out and crosses them off, one at a time. Here is a similar list you may want to stash away, in case you also like to keep score.
Peggy Noonan has some advice for Democrats. It is a good piece, a lovely read, most of it right on the money. I like the penultimate paragraph:
"And by the way, Id like it if you started smoking again, at least for a while. Democrats were nicer when they smoked. Then they let all those Carrie Nation types in the party beat them to a pulp, and regular Democrats stopped feeling free to be regular flawed messy humans. That was too bad. Why dont you send the Smoking Ban Lobby back to the abortion-rights meeting, and tell them to leave you alone?"
Ken Masugi has an especially good insight on the USAFA rape allegation scandals at The Remedy. He taught there for three years.
This is a nice short encapsulation of the differences between the Old and New Europeans emphasizing their different approaches to economics. Guess which side likes flat taxes, vouchers, privatizing pension systems, and so on?
When I realized what e-mail was I thought it could have the effect of getting kids to write more, but they ended up writing in a telegraphic mode. Well it turns out that the latest mode of communication, mobile phone text-messaging, has had even worse results. This short news story from London goes into this and shows that an education in proper English is more important than ever. Here is an example of an essay from a student, and then translated into English:
"My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we usd 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :- kds FTF. ILNY, it’s a gr8 plc." Translation: "My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to New York to see my brother, his girlfriend and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York, it’s a great place."
This story from the National Post is a gem: Yelling at boys in an educational setting is not a bad thing. It is, in the end, nothing that a father (or a mother) hasnt known, yet when such opinions are delivered at a major conference of the National Association of Independent Schools, it makes news. The crux is this (but do read the whole):
"...boys prefer education in a classroom setting that is louder, competitive and more rule-governed than that preferred by girls. Boys often respond well in a more formal, almost militaristic climate, where teachers call students by their last names; girls typically do not do well in that kind of setting, and would actually do better in a setting where both they and their teacher are allies, talking to each other on a first-name basis, rather than adversaries."
A few days ago Robert Alt pointed readers to this CNN story about how Playboy is trying to do an issue on the women of Starbucks. He intimated that this will lead to confusion and even a new interpretation of our use of cups of coffee to emphasize the excellent qualities of articles we recommend. I disagree. I do not think this will lead to confusion for we will continue to think that coffee is a dish for the gods, and those that sip it, have the gift to know it, of what complexion soever. For several virtues have we liked several kinds of coffees, coffees of infinite variety, not just Starbucks. In the end we are all seeking the rarest of all coffees, with aroma ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in a vessel.
What is the hardest thing to do in sports?
Research now confirms what we’ve known all along. The hardest thing in sports is to hit a baseball thrown at a speed greater than 90 miles per hour. ’USA Today’ has the proof here.
Take that soccer buffs. It’s good to see common sense confirmed by quantitative methods.
The importance of the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed cant be overestimated. For those of us who are inclined to kill these guys every time we come upon them, let this smart operation remind us that it is much more important to catch them alive. The information that Mohammed has in his head (and maybe in his computer) is much more important than anything else and the knowledge we gain should both prevent future attacks as well as lead us to other terrorists. Some time in the future we will know the details of how we were able to do this, but for now here is the Time account, as well as the Newsweek.
Paul Johnson writes in Forbes that the Iraq crisis has led to five identifiable lessons. The first one is this: Don’t trust the French on anything, at any time. I like it.
The Washington Post offers yet another editorial in favor of Miguel Estrada. The editorial rightly points out that Senator Schumer and his cohorts have little reason to complain about Mr. Estrada’s answers to questions, because Mr. Estrada’s day-long grilling was marked by an "almost total absence of probative questions from members of the committee." While the Post’s conclusion that a conservative President should be able to put qualified conservatives on the courts is commendable, some of the other statements offered by the Post deserve comment.
First, while denouncing the racial rhetoric that has pervaded the Estrada nomination, the Post offers as an apparent contradiction the following:
And the White House -- the same White House that opposes the consideration of race and ethnicity by the University of Michigan in its admissions process -- openly crows about having nominated the first Hispanic to the D.C. Circuit.
The Post also suggests that "[t]he question at stake in the Democratic filibuster of Mr. Estrada’s nomination ultimately has nothing to do with race . . . ." This simply isn’t true. Ralph Neas and the leaders of the Estrada opposition have made clear that they oppose Estrada because they believe that he could be a "Hispanic Clarence Thomas." Their fear is that if Mr. Estrada is confirmed for the D.C. Circuit, then he will be an attractive nominee to the Supreme Court in part because he is Hispanic. As such, these advocacy groups and the Democratic caucus in the Senate are treating him different than other similarly situated nominees. This different treatment is made particularly clear by comparing the level of resistance given to Estrada compared to John Roberts, who is currently awaiting confirmation for the same D.C. Circuit. While Roberts hearing was before a Republican controlled committee, there simply has not been the outcry either within the Senate or from the advocacy groups. Indeed, Democratic Senators crossed party lines to vote him out of committee.
It is striking to realize that the actions that the Democratic Senators are taking would almost certainly constitute racial discrimination in violation of Title VII if performed by an employer. If a hiring committee chose not to hire an individual because they feared that as a qualified Hispanic he would be more likely to rise to a higher position--well, let’s just say that the committee is going to have an unpleasant day in court, even if the it offers excuses about unsubstantiated fears concerning the applicant’s business philosophy.
Accordingly, the Post missed the real contradiction. It is not ironic that the President, who disfavors using different race-based standards, should crow about the outstanding achievement (by neutral measure) of a Hispanic candidate for the bench. No, what is ironic is that the Democratic Senators who believe that it is permissible to use race as a positive factor in admissions are in fact using race as a negative factor in order to keep a highly qualified Hispanic candidate off the bench.
The New York Times offers an op-ed today characteristically titled "The Rush to War." It is worth noting that the NYT makes a couple of concessions up front: first, based on the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, "[t]he Bush administration proved over the weekend that it can plan for war against Iraq and fight international terrorism at the same time." This little quote should be repeated to every liberal commentator who uses the "priorities" argument. Second,
"[w]e are not under any illusion that Mr. Hussein is disabling his missiles simply because he likes the idea. Iraq would never be making even these grudging concessions if American troops were not massed near Iraq’s border. The U.N. must realize that whatever success it has achieved of late in getting Iraq to abide by its directives has come only because of American military might."
The larger issue, however, is that the New York Times suffers from a bit of ivory tower syndrome on this question. In a famous speech, Churchill remarked that Germany’s great mistake in attacking Russia is that they forgot about winter. He conceded that he had made many mistakes over his life, but had never actually forgotten a season. U.S. fouces are facing a similar problem: summer. The heat of summer is rapidly approaching, something which is painfully apparent to those planning the invasion. Add to the desert heat the need for soldiers to wear chemical or biological suits, and suddenly you’ve got big problems. While our night-vision technology would permit us to conduct most operations in the cool of the night, it would be too optimistic to think that all daytime operations could be avoided.
In the end, the President’s move to war has been anything but a rush. The administration has been talking with Iraq and the UN for well over a year. Hussein has gamed the process to the nth degree, taking the most limited action necessary to appease the French, Germans, and the New York Times at the precise 11th hour. While it is modestly useful that he has begun (in a very limited sense) to destroy the Al Samoud 2 missiles, there is still no progress regarding the large stores chemical and biological weapons unaccounted for.
Given the time leading up to the administration’s current stand, it is folly to call the administration’s current posture a "rush." Any statement on timing must take into account not only Hussein’s actions, which are relatively insignificant, but his inaction, which is significant. Finally, any statement on timing must yield to Churchill’s wisdom: we must not forget about the seasons.
The New York Times today reports on a study funded by the MacArthur Foundation which finds that a significant number of younger juveniles (ages 11-15) may not have the mental capacity to stand trial--that is, they understand legal matters at roughly the same level as a mentally ill adult. One finding, however, that I doubt will receive much play is this: "Older adolescents did not perform significantly different from young adults." Since the death penalty is only available to individuals 16 and above--the group covered by the statement--this finding would seem to contradict suggestions made before the Supreme Court in recent years that 16 and 17-year-old adolescents are not sufficiently mentally developed to be tried as adults.
Here is a typically cogent piece from one of my internet heroes, James Lileks. I particularly like his retort to those who wet the bed about how war with Iraq might create "instability" in the Middle East--as if the status quo were some kind of model of a stable, orderly international regime. As Lileks puts it: "The world would change if we did nothing; now we seek to shape the change. Better this than letting the change shape us."