Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A Note on Military Strategy in Iraq

This article in today’s WaPo, by Thomas Ricks is informative (and not so much because it is still pushing the idea, which he pontificated on days ago, that there has been a change in strategy) but because by carefully reading it you learn so much more than you could from some TV newsguy or commentator. Pay attention to the way he lays out what the Army really wants, how the Marines look at things, and how they want to push ahead faster than the Army and that is not necessarily a good thing (see what he says about the consequences of the Marine’s succesful push ahead of plans in the Gulf War). The point is not that you should necessarily agree with Ricks, but that this kind of reporting is thoughtful and, therefore, educational. And here is the Seymour Hersh article from last week’s The New Yorker that criticized Rumsfeld’s war plan, and of which so much has been made.

Arnett and the War Plan

Mac Owens uses the Peter Arnett debacle--and he reminds us, as did Hayward, that this is a very problematic character, prone to make things up--to clarify what the hubbub over the change in war plans means. Also see Mac’s good piece from Friday on keeping "the main thing" in mind. Very useful information. 

Russian Agents in Iraq

The AP is reporting that there are Russian agents in Iraq trying to convince the Iraqis to allow them to take away sensitive information, as the country falls to the coalition. For those of you interested in more, go here. Also see this report from January. Obviously, this could be very interesting, but it shouldn’t be all that surprising. The Soviets had a very close relationship with Iraq, and there is reason to think that a pretty close relationship has been maintained, both in intelligence matters, and in money matters. Remember that Yevgeni Primakov (former PM and spy) met with Saddam a few months ago. It was very hush-hush.

Gallup Poll on the War

The latest Gallup Poll shows that the support for the war is holding steady at 70% (no change from a week ago). This is actually quite remarkable considering the TV news drumbeat against the war. The only thing that has changed in the week is that those who think that the war is "going very well" has declined from 53% to 33%, but those that think it is going "moderately well" has risen from 37% to 52%. Those who think that the war is going "badly" hasn’t changed from 14%. I take all this to be good news. So far, the public sentiment is sound and hard.

Embedded Reporters

Glenn Reynolds has a good op-ed at Tech Central on TV coverage of the war, and the embedded reporters in particular. He agrees with me that TV is doing an awful job, that embedded reporters are taking the side of the troops, and that the best coverage is still by bloggers. A number of good links included in the article. Good, short read. 

TV War Coverage and the Word

I have watched many hours of TV news since the war started. I not only wanted to see what was going on, but also wanted to see what "spin" was being put on developments (or, maybe it should be re-phrased, what spin was being placed on non-developments!). Well, I am reporting to you that I am massively unimpressed. The coverage is pedestrian and prosaic and unbelievably repetitious. In one hour of FOX, for example, I watched them run the exact same footage of the peripheries of some skirmish at least four times. Almost nothing was explained about what we were watching. It is not true that a picture is worth a thousand words; it is not worth a hundred good words! The particulars of the events the camera sees have to be interpreted and explained. Besides, it is easy to get the impression that what the camera is seeing is really important (and it is not necessarily so). Perhaps this explain why some TV stations have taken to run some excellent still photographs of discrete individual events like a Marine carrying a wounded child away from the battlefield. This also explains why Ken Burns’ Civil War was so popular and so well done: discrete individual shots of things that are then explained or interpreted, usually poetically. If we had moving pictures of the battle of Gettysburg, it wouldn’t be as meaningful as the still shots of the battle and its aftermath. So for simple information on what is happening in Iraq I will stick with the blog sites I have mentioned to you already, The Command Post and The Agonist. In the end, nothing can replace the word. To paraphrase Lincoln, the great invention of the world is not television, but the word. Take this example that David Tucker brought to our attention a few days ago of an officer giving a speech to his men before they go into battle. He is Lt. Col. Tim Collins (age 42), commander of the Royal Irish battle group. Read this and tell me if Demosthenes ever did any better!

Iraqi Troops are being Moved South

It is being reported by Dow Jones that some Iraqi troops from the North of Baghdad are being repositioned to the South of the city to back up Republican Guard units who are being heavily shelled by allied bombing.

Geraldo Correction

I was watching FOX news at lunch and Geraldo was on from inside Iraq. The guy behind the desk made reference to the news going around that he had been disembedded. They both laughed and said it was not true. I take them at their word. Therefore, part of the post below on Geraldo is incorrect. Sorry.

More on Reporters

This is Howard Kurtz in the WaPo talking about embedded reporters and the "armchair reporters" they have started to criticize. This is worth reading because the disjunction between those reporters who are in the field with our soldiers during a war have started--mirabile dictu--siding with them. Does this mean that they can’t be real reporters? Of course not. It just means that they are Americans. I’m amused the way this issue is coming up in the establishment media, but I’m glad it has arisen. The publication of Arnett’s anti-Americanism will help clarify. In the meantime, Geraldo Rivera was taken to Kuwait from Iraq (i.e., disembedded) by the US military because he gave away some troop deployment information on a live broadcast. Why do all these guys think that this is a game? Some are against us, and some are idiots.

Post-War Iraq

Eric Davis is director of Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers and writes on both the recent history of Iraq and explains why the possibility of making Iraq more moderate and democratic may not be as difficult as some people think. (Thanks to The Corner). Here is how he starts:

"Americans share two misperceptions of Iraqi politics and society. One is that ethnic conflict is endemic to Iraqi society. Another is that Iraqis lack a tradition of civil society, cultural tolerance, and political participation. Both perceptions are contradicted by the historical record. These faulty premises lay behind Washington’s unwillingness to support the Iraqi uprising of 1991, which came close to ousting the Ba’athist regime. It would be a great tragedy if the United States were to make the same mistake in 2003."

More on Peter Arnett

Here is the MSNBC report on the firing of Arnett, and here is the FOX News report (which is a bit more full and useful). And here is the transcript of the Iraqi TV interview from CNN. I saw parts of the interview last night (both FOX and CNN aired parts of it) and was not amused. I came across Arnett being interviewed on NBC this morning where he apologized and grovelled and Matt Lauer made clear (regretfully) in the process of the interview that he was let go by NBC. I was pleased to hear this. What Arnett did was an outrage, in my opinion. But it is also worth noting that he is a reflection of a certain kind of ideological reporter (and ideological academic, I might add). He doesn’t really have any understanding of what he is reporting on, or, if he does, it is permeated with a plain and simple anti-American bias. Arnett thinks that the USA is the cause of the all the mischief in the world, and that every two-bit tyrant and his cut-throat regime ought to be praised. I am glad he is gone but do you want to bet that he will not be unemployed for long? How about giving him a chair at Columbia and then maybe he can have some like-minded conversations with professors of anthropology who would like Americans killed in the war, the more the merrier. Here is Andrew Sullivan’s column (in full) from Salon
on that anthropology professor who called for a "million Mogadishus" and other fifth column elements, and how it is that they cannot distinguish between Saddam and Hitler and Bush. A good read.  

Arnett at Last

So Peter Arnett finally found the line he could not cross. His anti-Americanism and biased reporting have been evident for years, if not decades, which is probably why he kept getting hired.

Trivia moment: Remember the infamous quote from an anonymous American military commander in the Tet offensive in Vietnam that went: "We had to destroy the village in order to save it"? Guess who reported that quote: AP reporter Peter Arnett. He never would identify the person who supposedly spoke this phrase. Possibly because Arnett made it up??

Dowd’s 20 Minute Workout

Those who know me understand that I am not exactly prone to exercise. How then do I get in the 20 minutes per day of cardiovascular exercise that doctors say is essential? I read the op-ed page of the New York Times, of course, and sit back and relax while my blood pressure rises. As always, this Sunday’s column by Maureen Dowd did not fail to give my ticker a week’s worth of exercise. Here’s a little taste of the article:

We’re shocked that the enemy forces don’t observe the rules of war. We’re shocked that it’s hard to tell civilians from combatants, and friends from foes. Adversaries use guerrilla tactics; they are irregulars; they take advantage of the hostile local weather and terrain; they refuse to stay in uniform. Golly, as our secretary of war likes to say, it’s unfair.

No, Maureen, we’re not shocked by these actions. We know that we are dealing with a ruthless dictator. We know that he doesn’t care that he is deliberately putting civilians in harms way. We know that nothing would please Saddam more than a huge death toll among his own peaople. Rather, we, as an American people, are not shocked but are pleasantly surpised that we live in a country where we conduct such a moral war that we are willing to endanger U.S. troops rather than unduly harm civilians. In any other country, if the military dressed like civilians, the response would be to shoot first and ask questions later, but not here. And in any other country, if the enemy began waving white flags of surrender as a ploy for ambush, the response would be "take no prisoners," but not here. Thus, we are shocked, and happily so, that our country cares more about the safety and well-being of the Iraqis then their own leadership does. We are immensely proud of the work of our fine men and women overseas, and we will not be confused by the ploys of those, like you, who seek to make weak analogies to Vietnam.

Third Way on Affirmative Action

Richard Kahlenberg offers what he calls a third way on the question of affirmative action this morning, in an article recommending affirmative action based not on race, but on income.

The article is interesting because it honestly addresses a major problem with Bush’s 10-percent plan--a plan in which the top ten percent of students from all public high schools are given admission to the state university of their choice. According to Kahlenberg, such a program is difficult to understand except as a proxy for race, and the program is therefore susceptible to legal challenge. There certainly is precedent for this: In the wake of discriminatory practices at schools in the south, the Supreme Court applied a rigid level of review to schools which had previously taken race into account, and subsequently used a proxy to reach the same or similar racial results. If the Supreme Court were to strike the more quota driven affirmative action systems in question, the Court could take a similar approach when confronted with admission systems predesigned to reach similar racial outcomes.

Kahlenberg’s approach is also interesting because it does not raise the serious constitutional questions that race-based systems do. Essentially, government may consider your income status for a number of purposes--taxation, welfare and other benefits, etc.--where it would be impermissible to look at race. To put it in legal jargon, income-level is not a suspect classification.

Under an income-based preference system, in addition to poor Black and Hispanic students, a number of poor white and Asian students would be admitted with a preference. Leaving aside the class-based public policy issues for the moment, such a system is fine, unless you believe that every group is entitled to just so many admission spots and no more. Enter Jesse Jackson, who infamously stated that ending racial preferences in California would just lead to admitting more Asians. Perish the thought.

Thus, Kahlenberg’s income-based preference proposal faces opposition from two groups. There are some on the right who think that it is imprudent to enter into the quagmire of class-based entitlements, and there are those on the left (such as Jackson), who realize that if you use an admissions system that is not really just a proxy for race, then you will not get the results you desire.

Liberalism With Honor

Diana Schaub’s short review of Liberalism With Honor.

History of Blondes

This is a short review of a new book by Joanna Pitman that considers the history of our preoccupation with blonde hair: "Pitman takes us on a blonde history of the world. It is a history of sex and subterfuge, of prejudice and fantasy — the best kind of history." It’s short.

Arab Democracy?

Here is a symposium on the possibility of Iraqi and Arab democracy. Participants include Garfinkle, Ajami, Pollack, et al. Long.

America, Empire in Denial?

Niall Ferguson (prof of financial history at New York University) writes a lengthy piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education about America as an empire. (It is an excerpt from a forthcoming book.) It is interesting enough of a read (the use of the British Empire by way of comparison is helpful) even if you don’t subscribe to his thesis. I don’t think America is an empire unless, and it’s a big unless, you consider it an "empire of liberty," as Jefferson did. But that is a different, and a longer argument. Still, worth a look. 

Speaking of empire, you might want to glance at this piece on a famous scholar on things African and why he decided to leave African studies: he found it too depressing. And you might even want to read Doris Lessing on what used to be called the "jewel of Africa," and what Mugabe has done to it. It is depressing. 

And, finally, this Boston Globe article asks why so many of the "pro-American imperialists" commentators are not born in America, e.g., D’Souza, Boot, Steyn, Johnson. This is an interesting question that this article doesn’t do justice to, but it’s a start.

Churchill’s Relevance

This is from Saturday’s New York Times (the Arts section). It attempts to quickly (and superficially, by using "hero" as a thread) go into why Churchill continues to resonate to the public in such times (this has been emphasized since 9/11 in part because good guys like Gulliani, Rumsfeld, et al, explicitly made reference to Winston). The reason is quite simple: Churchill was the last great and good man who found himself in the middle of a crisis that resembles the crisis we are in; he warned his country that they weren’t prepared to confront tyranny, then he prepared his country, and his country won and civilization was saved. That we can learn a lot from him goes without saying, that we cannot learn much from the author of this NYT piece is also true. Note with what approval he uses J.H. Plumb regarding Winston’s Marlborough and his other works of history: "J. H. Plumb criticized them for philistinism and their author for showing no mastery of Marx and Freud." Silly man, that Plumb. The latest biography of Churchill (not cited in the article) is by Geoffrey Best, Churchill: A Study in Greatness. Best is an Oxford prof who was skeptical until he really started getting to know Churchill’s life and work. I recommend it. Here is the Amazon offering, in case you are interested in buying yourself an early Christmas present. It is, by the way, a great read, unlike most histories written by professors of history.

Islamic Schools in New York

This is a shocking and depressing report on a three month-long investigation of the textbooks used in Islamic schools in New York. It’s worse than you think! It is appropriately titled, "Sowing Seeds of Hatred." Little Green Footballs has more on it. Take a look and be unhappy.  

Why Arab Armies Lose Wars

This first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly in 1999 and it tries to examine the structure, training, and leadership issues of Arab armies (lack of respect, trust, and openess being the main problems). Detailed and interesting, written by a military guy with years of experience in the area. Worth a look. 

Public Opinion Supporting Bush & Troops

Here are two articles, based on public opinion polls, indicating that, despite the skeptical and skewed press reports, the public continues to be behind Bush and that that support has grown! This is worth paying attention to not so much because it is critical that polls be attended to on a daily basis--they should not--but because it is quite difficult to gauge the real mood of the public if you base your analysis solely on CBS, ABC, and CNN, etc. My sense is that the American people are resolved to be in this until victory is achieved. They are resolute and firm. If the establishment press can’t abide that, well, that’s too bad for them and shows how disengaged they are from the common sense of the American public. Here is the Newsweek article, and here is the Washington Times one.

Embedded Journalists

This site shows you where the embedded journalists are (as well as the independents). Very useful. I note in passing that many of the embeds have shown, through their reporting, to be more on the side of our troops than those reporting who are not living with them. They see their virtues first hand and it becomes increasingly difficult to make use of them for political purposes as many of those who are not embedded do, for example, reporters for the New York Times who are assigned to Qatar.

Precision Bombing, too precise?

Max Boot reflects on our ability to avoid collatoral damage with our bombing, and warns that we may be overdoing it. Worth a look.

"I was wrong," says anti-war activist

This Assyrian Christian minister and pacifist has changed his mind about the war in Iraq, after travelling there. He recounts this strange odyssey. A Good read. (Via InstaPundit) 

Dolphin is AWOL

It being a light newsday, I mention--with regret--that Tacoma, the bottle-nosed dolphin, went AWOL on his first operation to snoop out mines.

Two Soldiers Killed in Afghanistan

There is a report today that two Special Operations soldiers were killed in an ambush near Gereshk, Afghanistan. Gereshk is about 70 miles west of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban.

The American Way of War

I think this article from the New York Times is the best reporting I have read on the war. It probably makes the best case for the essential justice of our cause.

Dominique de Villepin speech

This is the talk French Foreign Minister de Villepin gave on March 27th in London. (You can access it in print or on audio.) I only heard part of the speech on a radio newscast and I was impressed with the apparent seriousness of it. It seemed to me that he lays out a strategic design that France should follow in this unipolar (post 9-11)world, and implicitly, what the U.S. should be doing. I mean to study it and reflect on it in the coming weeks (but I don’t have time now). But I did want to get it out to you. By the way, I believe it was after this speech, in response to a question, where de Villepin wouldn’t answer the question who he prefers should win this war, the coalition or Iraq. That response is not in the written transcript, although it may be on the audio.

Victor David Hanson audio

Here is the audio of Victor Davis Hanson’s talk at the Ashbrook Center at lunch today. He spoke for about forty minutes and then questions for another twenty. Very good.  

Radical Professor Talking about Iraq

This is a report of a "sit-in" at Columbia University, and here is what one of them said:
"The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military," Nicholas De Genova, assistant professor of anthropology at Columbia University told the audience at Low Library Wednesday night. "I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus." I have no comment.

More on Moynihan

While you should already have read Steve Hayward’s blog on the death of Moynihan below, you should also see Bill Kristol’s touching remembrance of him as well.

War Maps, Info

This blogger seems to have a good detailed map of the war in Iraq, which he seems to update regularly. Of course, I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but it seems pretty good to me. He uses standard NATO symbology for all units. He also blogs on more general questions of the war, and asks some interesting questions, e.g., why we have not yet seen a confirmed report of an Iraqi T-72 tank being destroyed.

War and Logistics

A long and interesting article by James Kitfield on the logistics of the Iraq War and (in the middle, “Modern Day Blitzkrieg”) on how the plan was put together. He reports that the civilians changed it in important ways.

A Just Assessment of the Current Situation

Michael O’Hanlon has an articlein the New York Times that is a just appreciation of the current situation. It is superior to the one by Hanson that Peter cited below for several reasons. First, it points out that doom and gloom now is in large part the responsibility of people in the administration or associated with it who argued in the past that the war would be a cakewalk. Second, while attacking pundits for inaccuracy and hysteria, Hanson throws around historical analogies that are themselves misleading. Third, O’Hanlon actually knows something about how modern militaries, as opposed to the Athenians, actually fight. In this connection, he has some interesting things to say about how we will fight the battle of Baghdad.


Here is Jack Shaefer in Slate ridiculing Johnny Apple’s NY Times column of today: praising Saddam, we are in for another "quagmire", (although the word isn’t used), we have bitten off more than we can chew, etc. (You can follow the links to Apple.) He says: "Ridiculing Apple is easy—he’s a large, slow target that bleeds profusely when hit. But many others in the press are guilty of Appleism, writing whatever story is required to fit the arc of the wartime news cycle."

John Keegan on the War

John Keegan considers the following question in this op-ed: "How much more difficult are the allies making this war for themselves by their determination to spare the Iraqi civilian population as much suffering as is humanly possible?"  

M1 Tank Hit by Friendly Fire, Photo

The Agonist has posted this picture of an M1 tank hit by friendly fire; none were hurt, and it is still functional. Impressive.

Tiger Woods on the War

I know golf isn’t really a sport or anything like that and that it is played by a bunch of pencilnecks, but I have always liked Tiger Woods for his virtue. Here is another example of it--a statement supporting the war--from his web site. Thank you Mr. Woods!

On the Progress of the War: Listen to History

Victor Davis Hanson considers how "our vulture pundits" are misreading the progress of the war. They regurgitate rumor and buzz "which are usually refuted by the next minute’s events." He makes many good points, including the massive point that these people don’t know their history. He goes through what is going on and how we are doing. In short we are doing very well. Must read.   

Victor Davis Hanson to Speak on the War

Victor Davis Hanson, the exceptional military historian, will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center today at 12:30 PM. You can listen to his talk live here.

If you unable to listen live, his talk will be archived on later this afternoon here.

Jeering Al Jezeera

Here’s some cheering news:

Hackers Put U.S. Flag on Al-Jazeera Site

WASHINGTON (AP) - Hackers wreaked electronic havoc Thursday on Internet sites operated by the Arab television network Al-Jazeera, diverting Web surfers to pornography and to a page with a U.S. flag and the message ``Let Freedom Ring.’’ Hackers impersonating an Al-Jazeera employee tricked one of the Internet’s most popular Web addressing companies, Network Solutions Inc., into making technical changes that effectively turned over temporary control of the network’s Arabic and English Web sites.

Now: Can’t we drop one of those e-bombs on Al-Jezeera? It’s just a few bloacks away from CentComn in Qatar.

Rumsfeld on Baghdad

The Washington Post has an article that reports some of Rumsfeld’s thoughts about how we might deal with Baghdad.

Battle of Baghdad

This article, by a former DoD official, argues that the Allies will have certain advantages in the battle of Baghdad.

Urban Combat

Over the last several years, The RAND corporation has been studying urban combat. As the battle of Baghdad looms, this work may be of interest. It can be found at this web site. The site lists the work of the principal author of RAND’s urban warfare research, so it contains some other things he has written.

The Bush Administration’s Grand Strategy?

Two articles, one from the Weekly Standard the other from the Washington Monthly that purport to lay out the Bush Administration’s Grand Strategy, in which the war in Iraq is only the first step.

Pat Moynihan, RIP

It is a singular injustice that the passing of Daniel Patrick Moynihan should occur when the nation is rightly fixed upon a great wartime struggle in Iraq, for Moynihan’s passing marks the end of an era and therefore deserves more attention and reflection.

Pat Moynihan might well be thought of as the Forrest Gump of modern politics. He was seemingly in the middle of every major political controversy for 35 years, but like Forrest Gump, many critics doubted whether he fully understood what was going on around him. Yet few could claim a more prescient vision. He predicted back in 1965 that the increase of single-mother households and illegitimacy would bring social disaster in our cities. He told Richard Nixon in 1969 that women’s rights would be the emerging issue of the 1970s. He was one of only two people—the other was Ronald Reagan—who predicted in the early 1980s that the Soviet Union was headed the way of the Dodo bird. “The defining event of the decade,” he wrote in 1980, “might well be the breakup of the Soviet Union.”

A product of New Deal liberalism, Moynihan remained to his last day a champion of government activism, which is why conservatives didn’t embrace him. Yet his intellectual honesty about liberalism’s failures also led many liberals—such as the supposedly “New Democrats” of the Clinton era—to keep him at arm’s length as well. Moynihan’s thoughtful reflections about the limitations of politics and social policy are evidence that we can indeed learn from mistakes. “In the early 1960s in Washington,” Moynihan reflected, “we thought we could do anything. . . The central psychological proposition of liberalism is that for every problem there is a solution.” Early on Moynihan came to understand the “fatal flaw” of liberalism: “Wishing so many things so,” he wrote 30 years ago, “we all too readily come to think them not only possible, which they very likely are, but also near at hand, which is seldom the case.”

Why “seldom the case”? Because human nature and human society are more complicated and less susceptible to easy government remedies than our optimistic liberalism had led us to believe. But when the news started coming in during the mid-1960s that our problems were not going to be easily solved with another billion dollar program, many liberals reacted badly, often lashing out at the messenger. “Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth,” Moynihan observed.

At the same time liberalism began to experience its harsh limits in the 1960s, the rising generational revolt spawned a new political culture, apocalyptic in tone, “that rewarded the articulation of moral purpose more than the achievement of practical good.” To the morally pure mind of the protest left in the 1960s, if you expressed any doubt about immediately ending poverty, racism, and war, then you were a Bad Person. This was when the “politics of personal destruction” began. Liberalism came, in Moynihan’s words, to have “the ability to immediately dissolve every statement of fact into a question of motive.” Moynihan himself was one of the first victims of this new political culture, even though he has never stopped trying to refine social policy to serve liberal ends.

In practical everyday terms this not only means that you will demonize your opponents in the most personal way (“Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”), but it also rules out compromise with the opposition. The Clintons brought this attitude with them to Washington. Clinton could have had comprehensive health care reform in 1994 if he had been willing to compromise with Republicans in Congress. But Clinton wouldn’t even compromise with Moynihan, who was then chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In Clinton’s very first week in office, a senior White House aide was quoted in Time magazine about Moynihan: “He’s not one of us . . . we’ll roll right over him if we have to.”

"He’s not one of us." The phrase speaks volumes. The Clintons and their circle represent the kind of post-sixties liberalism that Moynihan battled—mostly unsuccessfully—for 30 years. Recall Hillary’s memorable speech about “the politics of meaning,” in which she casually spoke of how we can “redefine who we are as human beings,” which will require “remaking the American way of politics, government, and indeed life.” Just like that. In a time when we can’t even get the public schools to work, Hillary thinks we can change human nature itself if we simply will it to be changed. And if you cast a jaundiced eye toward Hillary’s exalted moral purpose, get ready to be demonized as “not one of us.” Although Moynihan, being a good party man, publicly supported Hillary to be his successor, privately he despised the Clintons. This makes it all the more galling that it was Hillary who announced Moynihan’s death on the Senate floor.

Old New Deal liberals will surely shed a tear at Moynihan’s passing, for it marks the final passing of a once-great creed.

Ohio Democrats and the War

Fritz Wenzel of The Toledo Blade writes a revealing article on Ohio Demo Party Chairman Dennis White and his attempt to try to organize his party and to find some candidates for future elections in this GOP state.
White says,
"’Republicans are good people. They just have bad ideals with terrible consequences.’

Mr. White said those consequences now can be seen ’when you go to the gas station. You will see them in a few weeks when the body bags start coming home. You will see more and more jobs leave the state.’" A hope for body bags is a Heck of a way to run a party!

Blair-Bush and Europe

This Heritage Foundation short Research piece takes advantage of the Bush-Blair meeting to consider the developments in European-American relations. Pretty good. 

A Battlefield Speech

NPR quotes a battlefield speech by Lt Col Tim Collins of the Royal Irish battle group.

The Brits in Basra, 4 P.M.

This Sky News report of a large Iraqi column moving out of Basra is worth reading because one, its shows how successful the Brits have been in getting them out of the city (their rules of engagement are a little looser than ours; they act like the commandoes that they are) and, two, how stupid the Iraqis can be. They are sitting ducks.

Statute of Liberty Replica Torched, France

This AP dispatch speaks for itself. "Vandals in southwest Bordeaux torched a replica of the Statue of Liberty and cracked the pedestal of a plaque honoring victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." You tread upon my pateince, France.

The Progress of the War

I wish I knew more than I know about how the war is going. There is too much information coming in to digest, too much detail; and yet it is hardly ever placed in a strategic whole. In part this is due to poor press reports, and in part it is due to poor analysis; there are very few excellent analysts on TV. In short, there isn’t enough good information (oddly!) out there.

But if you are interested in following almost hour-by-hour reports, I recommend that you go to these two sites: The Command Post and The Agonist.

Our government says that all is well. I think this is true because, one, I trust our guys more than I do the press (or our enemies) and two, because from what little real information I have I think all is well. The Turks have not invaded. Israel hasn’t been attacked. The oil fields are secured. Weapons of mass destruction haven’t been used. There are signs that Shiites are beginning to revolt and once they are confident that we will win, they will revolt with gusto. We have taken over most of the country in less than a week. Our lossess are minimal (much less than the first six days of the Gulf War, both men and materiel). We have lost twenty men (eight due to accidents), have killed a few thousand Iraqis, and thousands have deserted, many killing their officers trying to stop them.
Our makeshift military hospitals are treating more Iraqi soldiers and civilians than they are allied troops. Supply convoys have continued to move despite the terrfible sand storm.
Furthermore, we seem to be following an intelligent plan, one that continues to surprise our enemies; all those associated with the plan are saying that we have not yet been surprised by anything that our enemy has done. For those that say that we will run into huge problems because the Fedayeen are stronger than we thought--that they will fight us in the cities and we will take huge lossess that we will not be able to sustain--I say that is not so. Besides, we are killing off the regular army and blowing up their equipment; they can’t be replaced. If we end up fighting them in the cities (as the Brits are already doing in Basra), we will be able to take them with (I hope and pray) only minimal losses. And, we can bring in more troops, if necessary. What can I say about our troops and their courage? Churchill: "What a glory shines on the brave and true!" May God Bless them.

A Senator’s Wife

It is said that you can tell a lot about a man by listening to his wife, what she thinks about, etc. Well, if that’s true than we now know a lot more about Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) than we did before. Keep in mind that he made a big point of associating himself with Bush in his re-election campaign last year. This is worth reading, it’s from the Washington Post. You will not like her. By the way, she taught anthropology at Harvard. 

French Gloating

This report from The London Times explains how the French are gloating over any misfortune that happens to the "Anglo-Saxons" in the war. This fully reveals their small souls, I must say. And it is something that they are going to regret.

Apocalypse Now

This is a brief eyewitness report on a vicious battle that the 7th Cavalry found itself in; they were ambushed. We may have taken heavy losses and it is estimated that 750 Iraqis died.

Guantanamo Prisoners at Home

This is a story from the Boston Globe about some Afghans recently released from detention in Guantanamo. Although there are minor criticisms ("they took our Koran away, threw them in a pile, and a guard sat on them") most say they were very well treated. Example:

"’The conditions were even better than our homes. We were given three meals a day -- eggs in the morning and meat twice a day; facilities to wash, and if we didn’t wash, they’d wash us; and there was even entertainment with video games,’ said Sirajuddin, 24, a taxi driver from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban."

War and the American Character

Tony Blankley writes a nice essay on how the American personality "might be characterized as an easygoing, sentimental, fair-minded ruthlessness." Our easygoing and sentimental way is temporary because it assumes fair-mindedness. When that is not repirocated, we become ruthless. He explains how this has worked itself out in, for example, our recent UN diplomacy, and how this will work itself out in the current war. He is right. Fair-minded ruthlessness is about to start. 

An American Deed, then Death

InstPundit brought this to my attention and American honor demands that I pass it on. Read it and ask yourself why the press places so much emphasis on the possibility that a missile may not have hit its intended target and there may have been some civilian casualties rather than on the many stories of this sort. These Americans were trying to help children in Afghanistan.

"Look. These are the coffins of six members of the United States Air Force. They did not die as a result of enemy fire. They died while attempting to transport Afghani children to a US medical facility for treatment. That is what the United States does. To all those who say, ’...but what about Afghanistan? We haven’t fixed it yet...’ and other such whining, I say: screw you. Six brave airmen died trying to make life better for children and their families who were brutalized under a tyrannical theocratic regime. Show me any other nation that does this as a matter of routine, 99% of the time without any press or media attention. The United States is, quite simply, good and noble...and these six airmen are proof of same."

Road Blogging

Greetings from I-71. Blogging at 70 mph is not for the faint of heart. I am on my way down to Cincinnati, where my Constitutional Law class will be viewing an en banc panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. I’ll attempt to give you updates from the road.

The Philospher of Terror, Again

Peter drew our attention to this recent article from the New York Times Magazine about Sayyid Qutb, the philosopher of Islamic terrorism. For those who want to go further into this issue, I suggest Roxanne L. Euben, "Comparative Political Theory: An Islamic Fundamentalist Critique of Rationalism," The Journal of Politics 59(February 1997). (Sorry, I have no electronic link to this article.) This is a serious academic article and therefore unintentionally funny in many ways and loaded with jargon but Euben explains in detail why Qutb is a nihilist, as Peter claimed. Qutb turned against reason because he understood reason to be cut off from or antagonistic to the "transcendent foundations" of existence and thus a threat to Islam and all that was good and decent in human life. What Qutb and Euben (except for one enigmatic footnote; see below) fail to ask about is whether modern reason (which Qutb knew about through his study of modern Western thought) is the same as ancient reason. In a truly academic way, I will end this blog by saying that the crux of the issue (the nature of reason, the fate of Islam and of the world) rests on what we make of Euben’s footnote 49.

L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace

Here is what Mac Owens thinks about our war plan. He concludes:

"One of Patton’s favorite quotations was from Frederick the Great: ’L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.’ War rarely goes according to a script. Friction and the fog of uncertainty have a way of waylaying even the best plan, well executed. I can almost guarantee that there will be further setbacks as the coalition closes on Baghdad. But I think that both Patton and Frederick would approve of Central Command’s plan and its execution to this point."  

Kentucky Senate Resolution Condemning France

This resolution was introduced in the Kentucky Senate yesterday (to a standing ovation) and should be passing sometime today. In brief, it says this: "Condemn France for their inaction in the conflict against Iraq." I like it.

Observations on the War

The Strategy Page has a few thoughts on how the war is going, including observations on we haven’t taken out their TV. And the BBC is reporting that Iraq troops are shelling an insurrection in the city of Basra. The Brits are in the fight, and it is intensifying. And here is an Iraqi dissident’s view (via InstaPundit).

Are We Winning?

David Warren certainly thinks so. Note the emphasis he puts on the fact that we are winning even though we are fighting under "the most exacting moral rules ever devised for warfare."  


This piece from CBS is on Saddam’s Fedayeen ("those ready to sacrifice themselves for Saddam"). These are the guys that are "putting up stiff resistance and trying to prevent regular army soldiers from surrendering.

Reports from the front suggest members of the Fedayeen may have organized battlefield ruses, like posing as civilians or faking surrender, to draw U.S. and British forces into traps. Such scenes played out in An Nasiriyah and Umm Qasr, where the advancing troops suffered their first major casualties."

Fortune Favors the Bold

Here is Ralph Peters explaining why we are winning big. Worth a serious read, especially considering the down in the mouth media reports of yesterday. The essay may be said to revolve around the saying "Fortune favors the bold." And this lists the aircraft losses in the Gulf War. You will note that we lost nineteen aircraft by day six of the Gulf War (all fixed wing) while we have lost five during the first six days of the Iraq War (one to friendly fire, three to accidents, and one to enemy fire); only one was a fixed wing aircraft, the British Tornado we shot down by mistake. (Thanks to Instapundit)

Semper Fi, American

"Gutierrez died in battle about 4 p.m. Friday, struck by enemy fire as he fought alongside his fellow Marines near the southern Iraqi city of Umm al Qasr," says The Los Angeles Times story on this Marine, originally from Guatemala. This smart and quiet young man made his way to the U.S., was helped by people he didn’t know, then joined the Marines because, as one friend said, he "wanted to give the United States what the United States gave to him. He came with nothing. This country gave him everything." Semper Fi, Lance Cpl. Jose Gutierrez, American.

Poland Admits Combat Role in Iraq

Poland has admitted to a combat role in Iraq (on our side!) after its elite commando unit posed for a Reuters photograph.

The Uncertainty of War

Clifford Orwin has a good piece in the Canadian National Post on the war.

The Philosopher of Terror

I know there have been many terrorists in the last century, but this piece from Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (which I read on one of my flights!) by Paul Berman is very much worth reading. It is about Sayyid Qutb, the Karl Marx of the Islamists. If you ever doubted their nihilism, that doubt should leave you now. Forget the coffee, make it a good Kentucky whisky, maybe Knob Creek. But read it you must.

Some Good Sites on the War

There are a few good blogs that are focusing on the war, and will give you more up-to-date information than BBC, WaPo, or other news sites. I bring some of the them to your attention. This is Sgt. Stryker’s Daily Briefing, and this is The Command Post. Also useful is The Agonist.

I’m Back

I have been at a very fine conference on the theme of citizenship and was busy as a beaver for two full days (plus two awful days of travel), hence no blogs from me until now. I’ll start pontificating on the war soon enough, for now I bring to your attention a poetic piece by Victor Davis Hanson over at NRO. Please note the other good articles on the war at NRO, including Mac Owens on the embedded reporters issue.

TV Free Iraq

Shouldn’t someone drop a JDAM on Iraqi TV (and perhaps al Jeezera while we’re at it)?

Some Comments on the War

A couple of comments on the war, made in full acknowledgement that it is very difficult to judge what is going on and any comments may be overtaken by events before they are posted..

The kind of campaign the US is running not unprecedented. It is like the effort to oust Noriega from Panama. In that case too, we attacked from several directions without a lot of preparatory air strikes and tried to paralyze the leadership, which was our target. During the 1990s, some forward thinkers in the military argued that Panama would be the model for future warfare and not Desert Storm. The difference between Panama and Iraq II is that we now have better tools to conduct such a campaign. So far, for example, many fewer civilians have been killed in Iraq than in Panama, although obviously the fight for Baghdad lies ahead. We should hope there is another difference. In Panama, we did not plan sufficiently for what would happen when the fighting stopped. The result was a disaster: lots of looting and disarray, which significantly slowed Panama’s recovery.

More Iraqis are fighting than some people thought would fight and we have not yet encountered the more elite and cohesive units. If it is true, as Rumsfeld said Saturday, that the Iraqi leadership has lost control of the country, this resistance is significant. Two things are different from the first Iraq war. First, most of the surrenders in that case, as far as I know, followed B-52 bombings. Iraqi soldiers in adjacent positions were informed through leaflets that if they did not surrender they would be next. Tens of thousands surrendered. One might call this a shock and awe campaign. We have not done this yet in Iraq II. The other thing that is different is that the surrenders occurred last time in Kuwait. This time Iraqis are fighting in Iraq. Some Iraqis appear to be defending their homeland. Perhaps surrenders will increase as the intensity of the campaign grows. The Republican guard formations in front of Baghdad could be targets for the kind of bombing that occurred in Iraq I.

In response to Eric Claeys: First, I think we should turn Iraq over to the UN as soon as possible. The longer we stay, the more it looks like colonization. The problem is that UN administration is not likely to be effective, at least initially. The bad publicity from this will add to our difficulties in the Middle East and the Muslim world. It is also the case, that the UN might be hesitant to take over a problem they did not authorize us to create. France is reportedly uncooperative about post-war activities, since approving them would, it argues, condone our invasion.

Second, we should do our best to keep the Turks out of Iraq because Kurds and Turks are likely to start fighting each other. The Kurds say they want an autonomous region within a federal Iraq. The Turks don’t want them to have this. Even less do they want the Kurds to have what they Kurds really want, independence. The Turk-Kurd problem is just one case of the tribal/ethnic complexities that may make post-Saddam Iraq a difficult place.

Running Commentary by Lileks

James Lileks has been closely following the televised coverage of the war, and commenting on it with his usual combination of common sense and humor. Some of my favorite bits:

On BBC coverage of the war: "It’s interesting, listening to these guys - I’m unsure how it’s possible to sneer the entire time you’re speaking. I fear the announcer’s face will stay that way. Perhaps you can recognize an old Beeb hand by the permanently curled lip."

On the Palestinian issue: "I say when this war is over we couple the issue of Palestinian rights with Saudi women’s rights. Self-determination for everyone. The Pals get autonomy; Saudi women get driver’s licenses. Agreed?"

On the Iraqi inspections: "Hans Blix admits that he would have never have found all the WMD. Thanks, Hans. Much obliged. I’m guessing that he was paid by the week, not by the discovery; if we’d given him a bonus for Finding Stuff, and the bonus exceeded what he would have made in a year of desultory squinting, we might have had the material breach in week one."

On antiwar protesters: "For these people there is no history before 1968, when the world sprang fully-formed from Timothy Leary’s forehead. The local news said that many high school students had walked out and gathered at the U to demand that the war stop now - the King Canute Brigade, if you will. The most delicious line came at the end of the report, noting that the University itself was currently on Spring Break, but many students planned to leave class when they resumed on Monday. God forbid you should leave St. Petersburg a few days early to assert your principles."

Endgame Questions

I would be grateful to hear from the bloggers more experienced and opinionated about international affairs than I am about these questions: First, how likely is it that the U.S. will agree to turn over supervision of a subdued post-Saddam Iraq to the U.N.? President Chirac seems pretty confident that the U.S. will, & news reports from Washington over the last 48 hours suggest the same.

Second, how much should the U.S. allow Turkey to participate in supervising a post-Saddam Iraq? On one hand, I can see why we’d want to be considerate of Turkey. More than any country except perhaps Israel or India, Turkey should have the same long-range interests as the U.S. when it comes to radical Islam. On the other hand, if the country acts as petulantly as it has the last month, it should be made to pay a price for non-cooperation. E.g., if Turkey only means to give us token assistance during the military conflict, I wonder why Turkey’s Kurd problem should be our problem while we sort out Iraq’s Kurd problem.

An Intelligent but Questionable View on Iraq

John Moser is right to cite Schroeder’s article. It is probably the best statement of the anti-war case or at least the best one that I know of. I was tacitly responding to it when I wrote the article “What the War in Iraq Means” now posted on the Ashbrook Center home page. To reiterate that argument with more explicit reference to Schroeder’s, I believe that Schroeder is right that the Bush administration’s preemptive war policy and our current fight in Iraq change the accepted norms of international conduct. But he is wrong to think that these norms do not need to change. In the article John cites, Schroeder writes, by way of explaining that no current threat justifies changing these norms, that “Terrorism has been around for centuries, and several countries in the 19th and 20th centuries, notably Spain, Russia, Italy, and the United Kingdom, survived worse terrorist campaigns and threats than we have experienced or are likely to experience. Right now the threat of terrorism is greater for the Philippines, Israel, Colombia, Peru, Nepal, and Sri Lanka than for us.” With the possible exception of Israel, Schroeder is wrong. The threat of the clandestine use of one or more weapons of mass destruction in the United States is real and growing, because technological advances put in the hands of our enemies enormous power in small packages. The norms that Schroeder describes evolved from calculations of self-interest on the part of sovereign states. Those calculations have changed and the norms will change as well. This does not answer the question (which has been mine) of whether this was the right time for war in Iraq.

An Intelligent Dissenting View on Iraq

Recently I’ve not been known for calling attention to thoughtful opposition to the Iraq war, mainly because there’s been so little of it (David Tucker’s reservations to the contrary). However, as the bombs fall on Iraq, a friend called my attention to this article, by Paul W. Schroeder, professor emeritus of international history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I recommend it to anyone who supports the war, if only to prove that at least some anti-war opponents are capable of doing more than mouthing bromides that are too simplistic for the average bumper sticker. Try to ignore the fact that it appears in Pat Buchanan’s nativist, isolationist rag.

Full disclosure: Paul Schroeder was my graduate adviser at Illinois, and one of the wisest and most learned individuals I’ve ever met--particularly on the subject of international affairs. The very fact that he opposes the war is not enough necessarily to change my views on Iraq, but certainly sufficient to make me subject them to serious scrutiny.

The Decision to go after Saddam

Michael O’Hanlon, a respected analyst at the Brookings institute, offers a critique of the effort to get Saddam on the first day of the war. He wants to know why it took so long to make the decision (he claims six hours). Since he admits that we probably do not know enough to offer such a critique, it is odd that he did. He thinks that a debate about the decision may emerge in the future. What strikes me as important is not the future but the past. If, as appears likely, we had information from a human source as well as from technical means that led to the decision to strike early to kill Saddam or senior leaders, how long have we had the human source? Has he told the USG things that the government could not share (or share only perhaps with the British) because the source was so sensitive? Does something this source revealed explain the adamant position of Bush and Blair over the past months?

More Iraq Maps

This site is a comprehensive list of Iraq maps.

An Inferiority Complex

Since Alt and Schramm are on the road and our troops are in transit, now’s a good a time to take a short break from war coverage and go back to the federal-courts impasse. On Monday, John Eastman & I had an exchange about whether Congress could constitutionally pass a bill designating federal appeal & district judges as "inferior officers" and giving the President power to appoint them without confirmation by the Senate. After John’s post, I remained convinced that Congress may not short-circuit the confirmation process.

Most important, appellate and district court judges are not "inferior" officers within the meaning of "inferior" in the Appointments Clause, in art. III, sec. 2 of the Constitution. The Appointments Clause requires Senate advice and consent for "Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States," but not necessarily for "such inferior Officers, as [Congress] think proper." This is the sharpest point of disagreement between Eastman & me, and I do not think he gives enough consideration to the arguments against his proposal.

As I read John, he equates the phrases "all other Officers" in the first half of the Clause with the phrase "inferior Officers" in the second half. If so, the $64 question is whether or not an "officer" is an ambassador, minister, or Supreme Court Justice. If so, he must be treated as an officer; if not, the choice is presumptively up to Congress whether to designate his office as principal or inferior (and thus subject to advice & consent or not). (John makes an exception for Heads of Departments, which I’ll get to below, but this is the interpretation in his analysis that governs judges.)

This is not the best text--based reading of the Appointments Clause. To borrow a Bushism, it misunderestimates the work that the word "inferior" does in the Appointments Clause. The class of "inferior Officers" is not a backstop for all "officers" who aren’t specifically enumerated as ambassadors, ministers, or Justices (or Cabinet Secretaries). The first half of Appointments Clause requires advice and consent for all officers. The second half makes this requirement a default rule for "inferior officers," which Congress may change in its discretion. But by giving Congress power to change the requirement only for "inferior" officers, the Appointments Clause implicitly reserves from Congress the power to change the rules for appointing "Officers" who are substantively not "inferior" officers.

John cites the Opinion Clause in support of his narrow reading of the Appointments Clause, but it really supports the broader reading. The Opinion Clause describes the heads of "the executive Departments" as "principal Officer[s]." In the Appointments Clause, then, the term "Officers" includes some "officers" who aren’t ambassadors, ministers, or Justices but are still "principal." If the "officers" has such a comprehensive meaning for executive-branch officers, it has to have the same comprehensive meaning for judicial-branch officers in the Appointments Clause, which draws no distinctions between executive- and judicial-branch officers.

Which takes me to my second point of disagreement with John - how to interpret the provision of the Appointments Clause requiring that inferior-officer appointments be vested only "in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Department." John & I agree that the "Heads of Department" are principal officers because they correspond to the "principal Officer[s] in each of the executive Department[s]" mentioned in the Opinion Clause. John concludes by implication that the judges in the "Courts of Law" in the Appointments Clause are inferior officers, because there’s no clause like the Opinion Clause saying they’re principal officers. As a matter of structure, I would conclude just the opposite. If the only executive-branch officials who may appoint inferior officers are the President and Heads of Departments, and if the latter are principal executive officers, the "Courts of Law" should be filled with principal judicial officers - on a par with the principal executive officers who serve as the heads of departments.

Also in relation to this provision, I don’t think John responds satisfactorily to my concern about the consequences that would follow if appellate and district judges were inferior officers. "Courts of Law" get to appoint inferior officers. That provision makes sense if one thinks of courts appointing the clerk of the court, special masters, or magistrates with limited responsibilities like approving search warrants. (John tweaks me for my previous examples, but he misunderstood at least one and I hope he’ll agree the jobs I list here all must be filled by inferior judicial officers, not employees.)

The provision starts to look really goofy, though, if the judges on inferior courts are inferior officers. Yes, then the President may appoint them. But so may the Attorney General, the Secretary of Education, or the head of any other department. And the the judges in the "Courts of Law" may appoint their own successors. John disagrees on the ground that judges aren’t courts. I don’t think this is responsive. Maybe the chief judge of the court gets the appointment. Maybe the court makes the appointment upon a vote by a majority of the judges sitting on it. Either way, such an appointments process really seems to upset what we know about the structure of Article III.

So then the last piece of text is the Judiciary Vesting Clause, which calls the lower courts "inferior Courts." As I said in my last post, there’s no textual reason why judges must be inferior officers because they sit on courts inferior to the Supreme Court.

Put all this together, and I think the law needs to follow the approach Supreme Court Appointments Clause precedent has taken. The law needs a substance-over-form test to figure out whether an officer is "inferior" within the broad outlines created by the distinction between "Officers" and "inferior Officers" in the Appointments Clause. So list all the ways in which inferior-court judges are subordinate, list all the ways in which they’re not, compare the two and decide whether they’re "inferior." John objects that appellate and district judges’ decisions are potentially reviewable by the Supreme Court. Point taken. Put that fact on one side of the ledger. On the other side, lower-court judges presumptively get to exercise all of the Article III judicial power, they are actually not reviewed by the Supreme Court 99% of the time, and they can never be fired. Lower-court judges are not inferior enough in their responsibilities and job structure to count as inferior officers.

Iraq Maps

This site and this one provide some useful maps to follow and understand what is going on in Iraq.

On the road

I’m in Chicago today to give a speech to The Federalist Society about Conservatism and the New Media (i.e., blogging), and Schramm is in California giving the keynote at the conference he mentioned here, in which he will explain how he was born American, in the wrong place (Hungary).

BBC News Blog

The BBC has a news blog, with updates from their correspondents around the world on the war in Iraq. There seems a bit more open commentary, but it has the appeal of at least potentially being up-to-the-second. Worth a look.

Repaired Second Thoughts in Europe

I believe that the link mentioned below is now the right one.

Second Thoughts in Europe

An article in the International Herald Tribune reporting concern that France and Germany may have gone too far in opposing the United States.

Al Qaeda Recruiting, a Repsonse to a Response

Peter makes four point in his response: 1) we can’t trust the information in the article I referred to; 2) the French did us wrong and we should not forget that, even if we need their help, but should also not forget that it is in their interest to help us catch the bad guys; 3) we have to act even if the consequences are bad; and 4) although we can’t know for sure, a new Iraq is a more likely result of war than effective terrorists. To which I respond:

1) One must always pay attention to the source of one’s information. For the record, then, the article refers three times to unnamed American officials; three times to a named French official; three times to a named German official; and numerous times to unnamed officials whose nationality is not given. The French official referred to is Jean-Louis Bruguière, an investigating judge, not a politician, who has a reputation for intelligence, courage and tenacity in hunting down terrorists. No one, I believe, would consider him Chirac’s poodle.

2) The French did do us wrong, just as we did them wrong, one might argue, by denying them support in their struggles in Indochina and Algeria in the 1950s. (Not only did we not support them, we sold weapons to Algeria’s neighbors who were supporting the FLN in Algeria against France.) The French (the French socialists actually) did us right in the 1980s, when Mitterand traveled to Germany and literally stood by Helmut Kohl to support him when Kohl was under intense pressure to prohibit deployment of intermediate range missiles in Germany. What is the point of this history? Two points actually: First, we have a long history of agreement and disagreement with France that has produced damaging actions by both sides. Talk about cataclysmic ruptures or changes in our relations or of vast nefarious strategies on the part of the French may, therefore, given our common interests, be overblown. Second, nations act on their interests but what they understand to be in their interest often depends on their principles (e.g., anti-colonialism, anti-communism). It is not unreasonable for France to have doubts about the Bush administration’s doctrine of preemptive war or about attacking Iraq now and thus for them to have stood against us. Why? This brings us to points three and four.

3 and 4) Before we decide to act, we should try to calculate whether our action is likely to produce more good than harm. Peter, for example, believes that the war in Iraq is more likely to produce peace and prosperity there (and in the rest of the Middle East?) than lots of new recruits for al Qaeda elsewhere. I am inclined to the opposite view. Far from being a political mathematician who thinks that political problems can be solved in a definitive way, I am, like a good conservative, a historical pessimist. Therefore, I see more effective terrrorists as a more liley outcome of the war than a transformed Middle East. I see nothing in Iraq’s history, what little I know of it, or its circumstances to make me think otherwise. I hope, of course, that Peter will be proven right as usual.

Rumsfeld Praised

Mark Steyn praises Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and then some. I agree with him, even though I realize that speaking the truth is not always diplomatic yet, in the end, it is good for everyone. Dilomatic-bureaucratic speak is intentionally vague and leads to mistrust. Clarity establishes trust. Here is a paragraph, but do read the whole thing.

"That’s Rumsfeld’s function -- to take the polite fictions and drag them back to the real world. During the Afghan campaign, CNN’s Larry King asked him, ’Is it very important that the coalition hold?’ The correct answer -- the Powell-Blair-Gore-Annan answer -- is, of course, ’Yes.’ But Rummy decided to give the truthful answer: ’No.’ He went on to explain why: ’The worst thing you can do is allow a coalition to determine what your mission is.’ Such a man cannot be happy at the sight of the Guinean tail wagging the French rectum of the British hind quarters of the American dog."

On the War

Mac Owens and David Tucker have written solid and thoughtful pieces on both some tactical and some strategic issues having to do with the war. Owens considers the possibility of Saddam using chemical and biological weapons. Tucker’s serious and cautionary article makes a special point regarding the meaning of the Bush doctrine of preemption and notes that it will change the way inrenational relations will be conducted in the future. It is a radical change with many consequences, not all of them--in the end--to our liking.

The Character of the American Soldier

With our soldiers about to go into battle, I am moved to thank them and to pray for their well being. You might want to look at Douglas MacArthur’s great speech at West Point in 1962, two years before he died. Of course you should read the whole speech, but let me just quote a few lines from it, ones that are most appropriate for this day and this action. If you ever get a chance to listen to the speech (it was recorded, but I couldn’t find it on line), please do so and be prepared to shed tears.
Thanks to PejmanPundit for bringing the speech to my attention yesterday. Here is MacArthur on the American soldier, speaking to future officers.

"And what sort of soldiers are those you are to lead? Are they reliable, are they brave, are they capable of victory? Their story is known to all of you; it is the story of the American man-at-arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefield many, many years ago, and has never changed. I regarded him then as I regard him now - as one of the world’s noblest figures, not only as one of the finest military characters but also as one of the most stainless. His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty he gave - all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy’s breast. But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism; he belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom; he belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements. In 20 campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people. From one end of the world to the other he has drained deep the chalice of courage."

Naysayers and Copperheads

George Will and Hugh Hewitt and Michael Barone focus on Tom Daschle’s chaotic mind. Hewitt explains what he means when he says that Daschle is the American chairman of the new Copperhead Caucus, with branches in Paris and Berlin. And I especially like this paragraph from Will:

"So Daschle’s position is: America is ’forced to war’ because presidential diplomacy failed to produce a broader coalition for war. With that descent into absurdity, Daschle would have forfeited his reputation for seriousness, if he had one."

Climate Update

Several readers have written asking for links to the material referenced in my note yesterday about the CO2 gas bubbles in ice core samples, and the Australian critique of the IPCC climate change forecasting models. A summary of the Nature magazine article can be found here.

TYhe story about the Australian economists who blew a whole in the IPCC model was reported in the February 13 edition of The Economist, but the story is only available online to subscribers. A did a short write up of the story you can find here. I’m also planning to write all this up in greater detail for the American Enterprise Institute in a few weeks. Watch for updates here.

Al Qaeda Recruiting, A Response

David Tucker’s post below to the New York Times article about the surge of AQ recruitment efforts is worth reading. And Tucker is right to bring it to our attention.

I take his first point at face value, and agree: for this and other reasons the map I had referenced the other day is not gospel.

Second, I agree that Europe needs to be paid attention to in all this for the reasons the article mentions (excellent recruiting opportunities, many well organized cells, etc) and therefore for this reason (and others) I do not argue that we shouldn’t continue to have excellent relations with the Europeans (all, not just the Old): we need their help to get the bad guys, but, because it is also in their interest, I do not worry much about not getting their help. And yet, the French especially have done us ill at the UN on the Iraq matter, and this is no small thing. The French weren’t doing this just to protect a virtual client state. I believe their reasons were larger, their strategy more long ranged than that. I give them a great deal of credit for a noble attempt at both salvaging what is left of their honor, and of foreshadowing how they will attempt to stifle the hyper-power’s authority in the world now that it is clear to them that they are, alone, never to be a great power again. This was the first French attempt in a post-cold war world to build a coalition against us. This is not tiddlywinks.

Third, my point here is an obvious one: it is also in the interest of the Europeans to get us to think that they are indispensible in such operations; the main sources of the story are German and French officials, with unindentified American counterterrorism officials thrown in. This does not mean that the points brought up aren’t true; yet, the story line is by definition suspect because of its source. After all, it is the French and the Germans who have not wanted us to go into Iraq. And now the French and Germans are saying--just days before we go in--that there will be very grave consequences. It is even possible to see this as a threat.

And my fourth point leads beyond Europe, indeed, the article itself does so. It claims that terrorist training camps have been set up in Chechnya and the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. We have known about this for many months, much before there was any talk about invading Iraq. Indeed, those camps were being set up right after our success in attacking Afghanistan. They looked for a new home immediately. We thought they would, and we even had suspicions where they might go. Does that mean we should not have attacked Afghanistan, therefore? The answer is no, we should have gone into Afghanistan even knowing the consequences. Is it possible that they will continue to relocate, each time we take them out? Yes it is. Besides, regarding Iraq, as Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon, alea iacta est.

Tucker asks, in fine, "Are effective terrorists more likely to result from the war than a new Iraq?" The answer is simple. We don’t know. Yet, we can say that we might have more control over establishing a new Iraq than we will limiting AQ recruitment. It is a calculation that we can set up a better Iraq both for Iraqis and for the sake of our interests, than had existed before. It is a pretty good calculation (much easier to do in Iraq, in my opinion, than, for example Syria or Saudi Arabia), but it is only a calculation. There is no certainty in political matters. We are not mathematicians.

Al Qaeda Recruiting

Anarticle on the boost that the pending war is giving to al Qaeda’s recruiting. Much of the recruiting is taking place in Europe, which was, of course, the staging area for the September 11 attack. Three points:

First, the importance of Europe in the war on terrorism is one of several reasons to doubt the analysis behind "The Pentagon’s New Map," about which Peter blogged on March 14.

Second, the importance of Europe in the war on terrorism is one thing we need to remember in the midst of our anger at the behavior of the French and Germans.

Third, this recruiting may not lead to anything, but neither may our hopes for a democratic and prosperous Iraq. Are effective terrorists more likely to result from the war than a new Iraq?

From Pacifist Christian to Bonhoeffer Christian

Obedient Hound blogger was a pacifist. He was a member of Doctors Without Borders, visited Iraq after the Gulf War and went from pacifism to become, in his words a "Bonhoeffer Christian". (Bonhoeffer was the pastor who was killed by the Nazis because of his involvement in an assassination attempt on Hitler). It is about half-way down under the title, "How a visit to Iraq can change your mind, or, Has the new left become the old right?". It is worth a read. Thanks to Stuart Buck

Bollixed Blix

While we wait for the tanks to start rolling, lat us pause one more moment to savor Hans Blix’s absurd remark to MTV (why is that MTV seems to bring out the most ludicrous in public figures, like Clinton’s straddling what kind of underwear he prefers?) that global warming is a greater threat than weapons of mass destruction.

A new study reported in this week in Nature magazine provides strong evidence in support of a major claim of global wamring skeptics: the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a lagging indicator of warming, rather than the cause of warming. More detailed analysis of samples from ice cores finds that CO2 levels increased in the past after warming had already taken place.

It is unfortunate that larger events will drown out this news, as it has a previous bombshell a month ago, in which two highly regarded Australian economists blew a big hole in the key assumptions in the UN’s climate predictions. This house of cards may be starting to tumble down.

Born American, but in the Wrong Place

There is a very interesting conference coming up in Southern California (at Chapman University School of Law) this Friday and Saturday. The subject is "American Citizenship in the Age of Multicultural Immigration." The impressive lineup includes fine minds like John Fonte, John Zvesper, Bill Allen, Tom West, Peter Skerry, Paul Gigot, John Eastman, Viet Dinh, Joel Kotkin, et al. My participation will be rather simple. I will try to explain what my father meant in response to a question when we were about to leave Hungary (I was ten years old). I asked him where we were going. He said we were going to America. I asked why to America, and he said this: "We were born Americans but in the wrong place." Smart guy, my father. No Ph.D.

Public Sentiment in Britain Changing

As you will note from this Guardian report, public opinion in Britain has shifted massively in Blair’s direction on Iraq. This is only a surprise to you if you have been listening to the BBC or CNN, who keep warning us that Blair’s days are numbered. In the meantime, seven out of ten Americans say going to war against Saddam is just fine.

Saddam Look-alike Prospering

Apparently, there is a guy in California who looks just like Saddam. He is a lobbyist who is a sometime actor, portraying Saddam in movies like "Hot Shots." I wish all actors shared his sentiments:

"As an actor," Haleva says, "I hope he goes into exile, and my career extends. But as an American, I hope I get to do his epitaph."

Statesman Tony Blair in the House

Here is Prime Minister Tony Blair in the House of Commons this afternoon, after a few more ministers quit, and before the vote tonight. Very good, very strong, very impressive. I refuse to believe that he’ll lose the vote.

"I believe we must hold firm."

"Who will celebrate and who will weep if we take our troops back from the Gulf now?"

"If we do act, we should do so with a clear conscience and a strong heart. Our fault has not been impatience. The truth is that our patience should have been exhausted weeks and months and even years ago."

And he said that to retreat now, he believed, "would put at hazard all that we hold dearest ... tell our allies that at the very moment of action, at the very moment they need our determination, that Britain faltered. I will not be party to such a cause."

Pocket Guide to Smart Bombs

Cato the Youngest has a very cool "pocket guide" to smart bombs (video, GPS, etc.) that we should be interested in.

Les Anglo-Saxons and France

Paul Johnson
has a fine piece in today’s WSJ that is not available on line (unless you are subscriber). Here are a couple of paragraphs:

"At the heart of the new diplomacy will be, of course, what Charles De Gaulle then (and Jacques Chirac now) bitterly called ’Les Anglo-Saxons’ -- America and Britain, whose common culture and attachments to freedom and democracy make them not just allies, but ’family.’ Building on this sure foundation, the U.S., as the sole superpower, will make its arrangements with other states on an ad hoc basis rather than through international organizations.

We have to face the ugly fact: Internationalism -- the principle of collective security and the attempt to regulate the world through representative bodies -- has been dealt a vicious blow by Mr. Chirac’s bid to present himself as a world statesman, whatever the cost to the world. France is a second-rate power militarily. But because of its geographic position at the center of Western Europe and its nominal possession of nuclear weapons, which ensures its permanent place on the U.N. Security Council, it wields considerable negative and destructive power. On this occasion, it has exercised such power to the full, and the consequences are likely to be permanent."

Iraqi Horrors

This op-ed from the London Times is not for the faint hearted. It is by a Labour MP and recites in graphic detail some of the horrors that Saddam and his sons have been intimately involved in. It is amazing what evil human beings are capable of; and we will be equally amazed at what good we are capable of, even thought the anti-war (or Pro-Iraq) demonstrators will not likely admit it. I should mention that yesterday afternoon, as I was going over to the student center for lunch there were about a dozen anti-war demonstrators standing on a street corner. I knew them all. All faculty, save one fifty year old student. Average age was fifty five. One faculty member said this: "War is bad for children." I replied: "So is tyranny." No answer. There were a half dozen anti-Iraq demonstrators about thirty feet away. They were all students, average age of nineteen. This is, of course, a good sign. It occured to me that these same faculty have been demonstrating for approximately thirty five years; they started young, but they are impotent, they have no children.

Bush Speech

The speech last night giving Saddam and his tyrant sons 48 hours, was a good enough speech. It started a little awkwardly, I thought; he looked like a deer in headlights. But this passed quickly as he got into his sober mode. I especially liked it when he talked directly to the Iraqi people. It was effective. I hope that we broadcast it into Iraqi radio for 24 hours a day for the next few days. It seems to me that he was a bit too gentle with the UN, but, in general he gave a good accounting of the whole problem. I especially liked these two lines:

"The United Nations Security Council has not lived up to its responsibilities, so we will rise to ours."

"Instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety."

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Inferior Courts, Inferior Officers

My good friend Eric Claeys raises a serious constitutional challenge to my proposal, first floated in testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution last October (and a week later in the Wall Street Journal), suggesting that the Congress could enact legislation assigning the power to appoint lower court judges to the President alone if the Senate failed to act within 6 months.

As I understand Eric’s position (and the position of Steven Calabresi and Gary Lawson, on whom he relies, and presumably on Lee Liberman Otis, on whom they in turn rely--heady company, to be sure), although the Constitution in Article III expressly refers to lower courts as "inferior," we should treat all lower court judges as "principal" officers because the use of the phrase, "Courts of Law," in the appointments clause itself "strongly implies" that those courts are principal officers.

With all due respect to Eric’s thoughtful post, I think the explicit description in Article III of the lower courts as "inferior" needs to prevail over the implication he would like to draw, particularly when the implication is itself not compelling.

The Appointments Clause allows for the appointment of inferior officers to be vested "in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments." The "Courts of law" are not the same thing as the particular judges who occupy them, so I don’t think it a fair implication that the Appointments clause itself treats lower court judges as principal officers. (Particularly in contrast with department heads, which are expressly described elsewhere in Art. II (the Opinion Clause) as "principal Officers).

Moreover, the grammatical structure of the Appointments Clause itself suggests that lower court judges are inferior officers. The clause first lists Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and Judges of the Supreme Court as officers who are to be appointed only after Senate confirmation. It then addes "and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law" -- such as all lower federal judges, to courts that Congress, under Art. III, "may from time to time ordain and establish." It is with respect to this latter category of "all other Officers" that the appointments clause confers upon Congress the ability to change the default method of appointment: "but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone," etc. (emphasis added).

Eric also contends that lower court judges must be treated as principal officers because they can themselves appoint other court employees and because they exercise the whole of Article III powers, often without appellate review. With respect to the former point, Eric has shifted the line an entire category. He claims that because clerks and bailiffs (whom he terms "inferior officers") can be appointed by judges, the judges must themselves be principal officers. But clerks and bailiffs are not officers -- they are employees, not covered by the appointments clause at all. Such employees are routinely "appointed" by inferior officers throughout government. If they are "inferior officers," as Eric contends, then we have been violating the Constitution for a very long time, because they are often hired ("appointed") by individual judges alone, not by the "Courts of Law," as the Constitution specifies, or worse, by the Court clerk.

The latter point is a closer call, but the fact that the decisions of lower court judges often do not get reviewed does not mean they are unreviewable. The decision by an appellate court, including the Supreme Court, NOT to review a lower court’s decision is itself a supervisory power. As the result, all lower court federal judges are supervised, more or less loosely as the need arises, by the Supreme Court. It is the potential for supervision, not the fact of actual supervision in any given case, that has weighed heavily in the Supreme Court’s recent Appointments Clause jurisprudence.

Although my proposal created quite a firestorm some time back on the Conlawprofs listserve (I was accused of playing "constitutional hardball"!), I am not alone in taking this position. See Akhil Amar, "A Neo-Federalist View of Article III: Separating the Two Tiers of Federal Jurisdiction," 65 B.U.L. REV. 205, 235 n. 103 (1985); and William S. Dodge, "Congressional Control of Supreme Court Appellate Jurisdiction: Why the Original Jurisdiction Clause Suggests an "Essential Role," 100 YALE L.J. 1013, 1019 (1991).


Appointment of "Inferior Officers"

I hate to disagree with John Eastman on anything, but I think the answer to Alt’s question has to be "no." For those of you who aren’t separation of powers nerds, Alt’s question, and Eastman’s proposal to let the President appoint judges as "inferior officers," raise a constitutional issue under the Appointments Clause, Art. II, sec. 2, cl. 2. That clause requires "Officers" (also known as "principal" officers) to be appointed with the Senate’s advice and consent, but it lets "inferior Officers" be appointed without advice and consent -- directly by the President, "the Courts of Law," or department heads.

Whatever you think of the way in which the federal courts treat other structural provisions in the Constitution, the courts have been pretty sensible when it comes to distinguishing between principal and inferior Officers. An officer isn’t "inferior" simply because Congress and the President pass a bill calling the officer "inferior." Substance has to win out over form when reading a constitution, especially in separation of powers law, or else the government does end-runs around the basic structure very quickly. Once you accept this, a federal district or appellate judge just has to be a principal officer within the judiciary. Federal judges can’t be fired. Even the lowliest district court judge gets to apply the whole of the Article III judicial power in the case before him if there’s no appellate review, and in most cases there isn’t. Same goes for appellate judges, whose decisions are unreviewed 99% of the time, even when one of the parties does ask the Supreme Court for review. Nice work if you can get it.

The Appointments Clause confirms all this in a roundabout way. Whoever the "inferior Officers" are in the judiciary (clerks and bailiffs seem like two good examples), the Clause allows the "Courts of Law" to appoint them without checking with the President or the Senate. (As long as Congress has already established such an appointments process by law.) If the courts of law are appointing inferior officers, it seems like a pretty safe bet that they must be principal officers themselves.

To be sure, Article III, sec. 1 does indeed vest the national judicial power in the Supreme Court "and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time establish." But it just can’t be the case that inferior courts are automatically inferior officers. Most people, including strict constructionists, would agree that the term "inferior" can mean different things when describing different nouns in different contexts. Especially when the Appointments Clause speaks of the "Courts of Law" in a way that strongly implies that those courts are principal officers. Federal appeals judges, it seems to me, can be "principal" for the purposes of figuring out whether they’re important enough that the President must appoint them, but then "inferior" once they’re appointed, for the purposes of figuring out where they fit in the Article III food chain.

For those of you who are interested, constitutional law professors Steven Calabresi and Gary Lawson treated this issue in an 1992 article in the Yale Law Journal, volume 102, pages 255-77, specifically on page 275 n. 103.

If I’m belaboring the point, it’s really important to get issues right in separation of powers law. Mistakes in this area can have huge unintended consequences. Each year in my administrative law class, I teach Humphrey’s Executor, in which the so-called "conservatives" on the Court declared that separation of powers doctrine didn’t stop Congress from preventing President Roosevelt from firing a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission. At the time, the decision was seen as a blow to President Roosevelt; it was decided on the same day that the Court handed down a decision declaring unconstitutional the National Industrial Recovery Act, the centerpiece of the first New Deal. But New Dealers quickly seized on Humphrey’s Executor as authority for the principle that there are no constitutional problems with government-by-independent-experts. So understood, the precedent sucked the life out of separation of powers law until the 1970s.

With respect to the standoff on judges now, there’s a simple and constitutional fix -- make the Senate revise its rules to allow for expedited consideration of nominees if there’s a stall. The unconstitutional fix could easily have unintended consequences. If the Appointments Clause lets the President appoint federal judges, it also lets courts of law appoint federal judges. We can all think of at least one federal judge who should not be allowed to pick his replacement.

Iraqi Troops Deserting

A paper from London reports that between 20,000 and 30,000 Iraqi troops have already deserted. And another London paper reported yesterday that Saddam’ most important Kurdish ally, the leader of the Herki tribe, deserted him.

Cultural Literacy

Terrence Moore offers us another nice piece on education from "The Principal’s Perspective." This one focuses on cultural literacy. Here’s the start of it.

"The classical view of education holds that human beings are thinking creatures. Unlike other living beings, humans live by their intelligence. We want to know things. Specifically, we want to know the truth. From birth, the curiosity of children is astounding. Children observe everything around them. They pick up language at an astonishing rate. And as soon as they begin to speak, they ask the question "What is it?" of everything that catches their attention. Children demonstrate what is true of all people: we are natural learners. Therefore, any plan of education should take advantage of young people’s natural curiosity."

Ben and Jerry’s or American Ice Cream

Apparently, there is a company that claims to produce great ice cream and, unlike with the other brand, they are not funding left-wing causes. I haven’t tried it, but I do love the names of their flavors. Some examples: Iraqi Road, Smaller Governmint, Peanut Malaise, Clinton Impeach, I Hate the French Vanilla, and Nutty Environmentalist.

The Strategy of Obstruction

For a little lighter Monday morning fare, here is a parody I wrote for NRO. In honor of the warmer weather, I would read this one with an iced mocha. 

Romanian Example

Ion Iliescu, the President of Romania writes with the hope that Iraq will be able to emulate Romania’s movement from tyranny to freedom. Just a few months after Ceaucescu was overthrown, I spent hours in Bucharest listening to Iliescu pontificate as he changed from being a communist to becoming a socialist. Ex-communists won the first elections, hands down. I was sceptical. I even thought that war between Hungary and Romania was possible in early 1990. Both he and Romania have come a long way.

The pro-Fascist Left

Martin Gross asks why the demonstrations, why the left is supporting fascist tyrannies. Thoughtful.

"The left is angry and resentful of the string of victories of America under the center-right governments of Ronald Reagan, George Bush Sr., and now under the spiritual-political heir to the mantle of Mr. Reagan, George W. Bush. They intend to see these victories stop, lest the world continue to mimic the democratic free-market capitalism of the United States, especially an America headed by relatively conservative interventionist governments.
The left has witnessed defeat after defeat. They have seen the Soviet Union collapse, to be replaced by a capitalist democratic Russia, creating more than dozen free-market, generally conservative, governments of Eastern Europe. They have witnessed China — still a totalitarian power — move inexorably into the capitalist orbit. They have seen one left government of Continental Europe after another fall to center-right governments, whether in Italy, Spain or elsewhere."

Post-Iraq European Developments

William Safire makes some suggestions on what to do after the war. For example, move our troops from Germany to Bulgaria, move NATO HQ from Brussels to Budapest. Thoughtful, everything is in play. 

France’s Role in the World

Charles Krauthammer writes in Time about how France perceives itself in the world: giant killer. That France has backtracked a bit is an indication that this gambit hasn’t quite worked yet; never mind that Americans are now aware of what the French are up to and they no longer consider France an ally. Here is another view of the same theme.

Polls Support War

CNN/USA Today/Gallup reveals that 64% of the American people favor war against Iraq, the highest since November of 2001, and up by 5% from two weeks ago.

The Beginning

The U.S. has advised UN weapons inspectors to pull out. Here is a Washington Post report on psy-ops operations. "The Central Command has received anecdotal reports from journalists inside Iraq, the official said, that the leaflets are starting to show up in Baghdad, and that coalition radio is among the most popular in Iraq with young people."

Military Buildup in the Middle East

Here are the numbers of American, British, and Iraqi soldiers in the area. This is from Saturday’s Asia Times. Simple, easy to comprehend, and roughly correct.

Bin Laden Niece a Pop Star?

Waffa bin Laden (her father is a brother to the evil one) is a potential recording star, according to this Observer story out of London (via NRO Corner). She is described as an American trained lawyer, and a player on the London party circuit; mini skirts, booze, the whole deal, and will have a single out by the end of the year. She is said to be working with one of Madonna’s producers. I think we got Stalin’s and Khruschev’s daughters more honestly, but I’ll take it.

Azores Press Conference

I didn’t think there was too much to the press conference (here is the transcript)
itself; although not much new was said, it did show resolve. The meaning of it will revolve around this sentence from President Bush: "Tomorrow’s the day that we will determine whether or not diplomacy can work." The question is, what does this mean? Does it mean that all the phone conversations over the last week (and those that took place today or tonight) will have born some fruit? If we think that we will have at least nine votes in the Security Council in favor of some resolution (and disregarding the possibility of a French veto) that might lead to war but give Saddam a few days to surrender, then we will have the vote. If we don’t think we have such a majority then we will not have the vote and, most probably, announce--as early as Monday night--that we will give Saddam a few days to leave (this will also allow the press, inspectors, et al, to leave), before we go in. There is a remote possibility that the French will push for a compromise of sorts at the last minute--give Saddam, say, two weeks--but I don’t think this will be taken seriously because there is no trust left. If President Bush delays any longer than one week, I believe he will have made a grievious mistake. So far, in my opinion--despite the diplomatic difficulties of the last two weeks--the administration has not yet made any strategic mistakes. War, therefore should take place sometime between March 21st to March 25th.

The Anti-War Movement

I haven’t really taken note of these so called peace demonstrations (and not only because organizations like ANSWER are simply anti-American front groups) and I will not make a habit of it, but I do think that this op-ed by Ralph Peters nicely lays out why they are wrong, if not foolish.

American Power in the World

Ralph Peters is interviewed at length in the current issue of American Heritage. If you don’t know who he is, he is fully identified on the first few pages. He is a serious person. He considers everything, geopolitics, empires, Islam, the basis of wealth, etc. There is much food for thought and, inevitably, much that can be disagreed with. Yet, this is very thoughtful stuff and I recommend it heartily. Great read.   

Clinton’s Dereliction of Duty

President Clinton’s military aide from May 1996 to May 1998 (he carried the nuclear "football") has written a book in which he claims that Clinton, among other things, lost the nuclear launch codes tha day the Lewinsky scandal broke, how he hesitated on catching bin Laden, the contempt that Hillary had for the military, etc. This is the note on the book from U.S. News & World Report

Democratic Contenders in California

A number of contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination addressed the California Democratic party. It seems that Howard Dean’s attack on Bush’s Iraq policy got the rowdiest reception. This comment by the spokesman for the Republican Party is good, and shows the problem the Democrats have, and are not yet overcoming (as you can see from the reception that Senator
John Edwards, who supports Bush’s Iraq policy, received):

"The Democratic presidential candidates in town this weekend are telling liberal activists what they want to hear, but they’re not offering a message that resonates with mainstream voters. Their message appeals to only two audiences -- the most liberal base of the Democratic Party and the French. And the majority of voters in America don’t identify with either one."

The Risks of War

This piece from theWashington Post while emphasizing the difficulty and the complications of the upcoming war against Iraq, is quite good. Many things can go wrong, and some will, almost certainly. Yet it can be done. Note the last paragraph of the story:

"But perhaps the riskiest aspect of the current plan is the character and aims of the war itself, said retired Air Force Col. John Warden, an architect of the air campaign in the Gulf War.

The plan is probably one of the most risky in our history as it launches us off into terra incognita for the U.S.: our first preemptive or preventive war; our first attempt to democratize an Islamic state; and establishment of a very narrow beachhead in the midst of a billion undefeated Muslims,’ he said."

Al Qaeda Primed to Fall?

The Washington Post reports that government officials are very optimistic that the AQ leadership is being dismantled. Among other things, the information we got from Khalid Sheik Mohammed is leading to "geometric progress." A newstory worth reading. I hope that it is true.  

Sabotage in Iraq

The Telegraph reports on a number of incidents in Iraq, both of sabotage and demonstrations, and, predictably, some harsh Saddam reactions.

The Death of Europe?

Mark Steyn thinks so, with typical flourish. He may be off the mark, but not by much.  

Death of Marx

I. Boone notes, not in a mournful way, that Karl Marx died on this day 120 years ago. It is Dante’s Ninth Circle, no question.

China Blocks UN Discussion on North Korea

In another act that shows the irrelevance of the United Nations, China is blocking the UN Security Council from discussing the North Korea issue, it is instead pushing for a direct dialogue between North Korea and Washington.

Pentagon’s New Map

This is an article that was originally published in Esquire (March 2003) and available on line from the Naval War College. The author, Thomas P.M. Barnett, is a professor there, a war strategist. Although written in more of a bureaucratic mode than I like, it is worth reading and arguing over, if anyone is interested. In brief, it is an attempt to establish a new security paradigm that the author thinks defines this age: "disconnectedness defines danger," and tries to show where the hot spots are in the world and the likelihood of war in each of those places. The following three paragraphs give you the flavor of his purposes:

"Show me where globalization is thick with network connectivity, financial transactions, liberal media flows, and collective security, and I will show you regions featuring stable governments, rising standards of living, and more deaths by suicide than murder. These parts of the world I call the Functioning Core, or Core. But show me where globalization is thinning or just plain absent, and I will show you regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty and disease, routine mass murder, and—most important—the chronic conflicts that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. These parts of the world I call the Non-Integrating Gap, or Gap."

"Globalization’s ’ozone hole’ may have been out of sight and out of mind prior to September 11, 2001, but it has been hard to miss ever since. And measuring the reach of globalization is not an academic exercise to an eighteen-year-old marine sinking tent poles on its far side. So where do we schedule the U.S. military’s next round of away games? The pattern that has emerged since the end of the cold war suggests a simple answer: in the Gap."

"The reason I support going to war in Iraq is not simply that Saddam is a cutthroat Stalinist willing to kill anyone to stay in power, nor because that regime has clearly supported terrorist networks over the years. The real reason I support a war like this is that the resulting long-term military commitment will finally force America to deal with the entire Gap as a strategic threat environment."

Message to French President Chirac

In case you want to write an e-mail to President Chirac here is his e-mail and how to do it, very simple. Either send him your kindest regards, you know, something like, Dear Sir, I remain your most humble and obedient servant, etc., or, just tell him what you really think about his policy on Iraq. (Thanks to Buzzmachine via InstaPundit)

Priscilla Owen Nomination

Chris Flannery has a good piece at NRO on Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen’s second appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is being attacked--surprise!--because she is "out of step" (that’s the way the liberals like to put it, you know, like "blood for oil" is supposed to be an argument against war) with the view that they think everyone ought to have on abortion. It is really an issue of parental notification. Good article.  

Ending the Stalemate

With the judicial confirmation stalemate reaching the point where few see resolution, John Eastman offers a possible solution. He argues on The Claremont Institute web site that while art. II, sec. 2 of the Constitution requires Senate confirmation of Supreme Court Justices, it nonetheless permits Congress as a whole to vest the appointment of inferior officers in the President. Thus, he argues, Congress could pass a law which would give the President the power to appoint district and circuit court judges after say, six months of inaction by the Senate.

Such a bill would no doubt die in the Senate, which would be none too thrilled about giving up this power. But the more interesting quesion is whether art. III judges are "inferior" officers pursuant, say, to their designation as "inferior" courts in art. III.

Patriotic Country

". . . arrant, rascally, beggarly, lousy knave. . . ." Whew, that’s a relief. I was afraid that Schramm might take offense at my comments. I should clarify one thing: I don’t paint all of country music with the political brush of the Dixie Chicks. Indeed, if country music has one virtue, it is that the singers seem to genuinely love this country. The problem is that as best I can tell, the performers’ patriotism is perhaps the music’s only virtue. Maybe it is because I am originally from Los Angeles, and therefore songs about pickup trucks don’t speak to me. Maybe it is because sounds resembling injured cats are not what I call "soothing." But whatever the reason, I have never been enamored by country music, which best I can tell these days is little different from watered-down pop music.

Racial Preferences

James McWhorter is a serious guy, and has written many interesting things. He has, over the last few years, become rightly known as a serious person making serious arguments about race, racism, and affirmative action. Here is his latest essay from The American Enterprise arguing that preference by skin color should be relegated to the dustbin of history. A very good read.  

One Kind Word for Country Music

Alt is correct, the Dixie Chicks are a sign of the decline of Country and Western music.

The true and patriotic spirit of country music, however, is found here in Charlie Daniels’

open letter to Hollywood.

The Devil went down to Georgia and met his match in Charlie Daniels.

Real Country Music Needs No Defense

I am sorry that Alt has attacked the country music bushel just because because there is a bad apple in it. I know nothing about the Dixie Chicks, but I do know something about Merle Haggard, George Jones, and George Strait, and I can’t believe that anyone of them would say anything like that. The Dixie Chicks is a punk-rock group, as far as I’m concerned. I will prevent Emily from listening to them ever again! Alt might want to listen to a few minutes of Merle’s "Okie from Muskogee" (at the bottom). Alt is too young to remember, but it was with this song that Merle stood up alone against the tides of America-hatred in the late sixties. There is plenty more such Country songs Alt; study your country’s history, you arrant, rascally, beggarly, lousy knave!

Victor Davis Hanson Profile

U.S. News & World Report runs a short profile of Victor Davis Hanson. "Fundamentalists despise the United States for its culture and envy it for its power," he wrote in his first column for National Review. "These terrorists hate us for who we are, not what we have done." Hanson will be speaking at the Ashbrook Center on March 28th. If you can’t attend, you can listen to him live by going

A Third Way . . . to War

Jim Wallis argues in today’s Washington Post that rather than go to war, the world should pursue a "third way." What he fails to realize is that the third way is one which leads us inevitably to where we are. First, he would have the feckless security counsel set up an international tribunal to indict Hussein for war crimes. And how, may I ask, is this going to lead to the removal of Hussein? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he won’t accede to demands of this gerry-rigged international body any more than he has acceded to the demands of UN. Second, he suggests that there should be unrestricted inspections, more flyovers, and expanded no-fly and no-drive zones. If history is any guide, Hussein has responded to the current no fly zones by firing on our planes. The only way to get the sort of results from inspections that Wallis is seeking is to have the cooperation of the regime, and Hussein has amply demonstrated that there is only one way to procure cooperation. Thus, his third way takes us to the same place--war--it just gives Hussein more time to entrench and develop weapons and retaliatory strategies.

Another Reason to Despise Country Music

As if being forced to hear their remake of "Landslide" every time I turn on the radio isn’t bad enough, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks told a London crowd, "Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Imus this morning took no prisoners: "This from someone who I guarantee couldn’t spell ’Hussein’ or find Iraq on a map." I believe it was his sidekick Charles McCord who chimed in that she should have chosen to say that in Dallas, rather than London.

Second Cloture Vote Down . . . More to Come

The Senate voted 55-42 for cloture on Miguel Estrada. The magic number is 60, so the filibuster continues. You can access the vote tally here. The only major change in the vote is that Senator Graham (D-FL), who did not participate last time, voted in favor of continuing the filibuster.

The Republicans have vowed to bring more votes to end the filibuster, with the next cloture vote tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, March 18. Of course, world events may dictate otherwise.

French Products

My mother called me the other day to ask me a couple of specific questions about French products. I was surprised at what she was doing: She was angry at the French and she was looking for anything made in France in her home, or anything made by a company that was mostly owned by France. She was going to throw all French products out and make sure to never buy any more. Well, the truth is I could only come up with Perrier, Michelin, and Rocquefort cheese. While she had nothing French in her house, she is determined not to buy anything French. So I sent her the enclosed list. Some of the items on it may surprise you, e.g., Car and Driver Magazine, Motel 6, Glenlivet, Wild Turkey Bourbon, and Jerry Springer. Worth a look.

Senate Passes Partial Birth Abortion Bill

The Senate has just passed a ban on late term abortion procedures by a vote of 64-33 (with the Catholics Kennedy, Kerry, and Biden abstaining). It will now go to the House where passage is expected. Bush will sign it.

Shock and Awe with MOAB

Mac Owens has a good piece on this big bomb we tested in the Florida panhadle a few days ago. It is an impressive 21,000 pound bomb that makes a lot of noise.

Blair Prepares to Drop UN

The London Times is reporting that Prime Minister Tony Blair is moving towards bypassing the UN and is willing to go to war without another resolution from the Security Council. He is now arguing that the U.S. and U.K. already have the legal authority to attack Iraq. This may move things along very quickly.

New Iraqi Missile?

Bill Safire has one of his more interesting columns out this morning in The New York Times in which he connects some dots between France-China-Syria-Iraq on the collaboration of some of their nationals in supplying Iraq with the necessities for a long range surface to surface missile. Good read. 

An Iraqi Blogger

Raed is an Iraqi blogger living in Iraq. Although sometimes a bit confusing, it makes for some interesting reading, especially on day to day development, how people tape their windows, what they are buying in preparing for the war, what some of the Iraqi troops are doing, how oil is being poured in trenches, etc. Worth a few minutes of meandering.

Democratization in the Middle East

Daniel Drezner has a thoughtful piece in the current TNR that argues that it is not as unlikely as some think that we can establish something like democratic states in the region. Here is his concluding paragraph:

"The area specialists aren’t necessarily wrong; democratizing Iraq won’t be easy. But the conditions aren’t nearly as barren as these experts suggest, and the potential upside is enormous. If a democratic transition were to succeed in Iraq, then Syria, suddenly surrounded by established democracies (Israel and Turkey) and emerging democracies (Iraq and Jordan), might start to feel nervous as well. Combine democratization in the Fertile Crescent with the continued liberalization of Morocco, Bahrain, and Qatar, and suddenly the neocon vision of a fourth wave of democratization spreading across the Middle East begins to look plausible."

You might also want to glance at Michael Barone’s good column on the same theme.

The U.N. and Geopolitics

If you don’t yet see why the poker game at the U.N. is a sideshow please take note of what French President Chirac said Monday: "No matter what the circumstances, we will vote No." By saying this Chirac has emboldened Iraq and has made war more possible, as George Will says. I mention in passing that U.N. approval was already given in Resolution 1441 of last Fall (even Clinton has said this) and that is sufficient; no new resolution is needed. So there are only two reasons why Bush wants another resolution voted on (even if it fails). First, he thinks this will help Blair out politically. (The fact that he is in some political difficulty shows the inferiority of the Parliamentary system; there are too many and too powerful "passions and interests" placed on the Prime Minister that he either has to kow-tow to, or he can be removed in the middle of a crisis.) Second, Bush wants the French and the others to show their cards; and he wants this noted publicly for long range geo-political reasons, rather than the immediate issue of Iraq. Because this is the first serious international issue since the collapse of the USSR and since 9/11--the first since, in other words, America has become the dominant world power--the U.S. wants to see how the lesser powers (France, Russia, Germany) will begin to line up to try to "balance" American power. Note that the Chinese are out of this picture. They can afford to sit this one out; they have not yet given up on being a great power, as the Russians and the French have. Also note that the impression being given by the Russians that they are in an alliance with the French against America, will only drive the New Europe more into the American camp and this will make the work of the French and Germans in EU (and to dominate the EU) much more difficult, which should be fine by us.

There is a good chance that we will get the nine votes in the Security Council, and that will force a French veto. And there is still a remote chance that the French will not veto. Either way, even with the possible delay of a few days as is being discuissed today, Iraq will be under a new regime by the end the month.

Pre-emptive War and Just War

George Weigel has a good essay in a recent issue of First Things summarizing and applying the just war tradition. It’s worth reading the whole, but especially his argument in response to those who argue that just war theory censures pre-emptive wars because war can only be the last resort:

The charge that U.S. military action after September 11 was morally dubious because all other possible means of redress had not been tried and found wanting misreads the nature of terrorist organizations and networks. The “last” in last resort can mean “only,” in circumstances where there is plausible reason to believe that nonmilitary actions are unavailable or unavailing.

Pre-emptive War Justified

Clifford Orwin has a very good article in Canada’sNational Journal explaining why the upcoming U.S. pre-emptive strike against Iraq is justified. Excellent. Two strong coffees.  

Germany’s Illegal Trade with Iraq

Amiland points to an article in the German paper Die Welt (in German) that outlines the extraordinary (and illegal) trade between Germany and Iraq since the Gulf War. Amiland’s comments are good and the whole is worth reading (and do follow the links), but his best line is this: "Illegal exports constitute perhaps the only region where Germany’s economy has actually grown in the past ten years." (Via InstaPundit).

European Union Threat

Chris Patten, the European Union’s commissioner for external relations, has said that without UN authority for a war against Iraq, the EU will find it difficult to release funds for the rebuilding of Iraq after the war. Among other things he said the following:

"As a general rule, are wars not more likely to recruit terrorists than to deter them? It is hard to build democracy at the barrel of a gun, when history suggests it is more usually the product of long internal development in a society."

Germany is also a member of the European Union.

Second Cloture Vote on Estrada Thursday

Majority Leader Frist filed a second cloture petition on Mr. Estrada’s nomination yesterday afternoon. I have been told to expect the vote on Thursday. As always, we’ll keep you posted as more details become known.

More Evidence That Hussein Is Not a Threat

The AP reports that Saddam Hussein has opened a training camp for volunteers willing to carry out suicide attacks against U.S. forces.

Shield This

The New York Times reports that there is "friction" between human shields and Iraqi officials over the choice of sites. You see, the idealistic human shields would like to stand in front of hospitals and schools, while the Iraqis are directing them to stand in front of key strategic targets, like oil refineries. Which raises the question: do you think that the human shields so misunderstand the U.S. that they believe we will be targetting schools (assuming that Hussein isn’t acting as he has in the past, and placing key strategic targets in or near such facilities), or are they choosing such targets specifically because they understand that the U.S. will not target them. It is far easier to face down a bullet that you believe will not come. Thanks to Orin Kerr from The Volokh Conspiracy for bringing this to my attention.

Serbian PM Assassinated

MSNBC just reported that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, who played a major role in the popular revolt that toppled Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000, died this morning from gunshot wounds. Here is an AP story which provides details about the assassination attempt, which was written before the PM died.

Chemical Ali

The Washington Times reports that Saddam Hussein is poised to kill his own people, and to blame the slaughter on U.S. forces. Hussein has placed a general whose role in gassing the Kurds earned him the nickname "Chemical Ali" in charge of Southern Iraq, to quell civilian uprisings.

The Right War

Senator McCain has a fine piece in today’s New York Times entitled The Right War for the Right Reasons. In his article, McCain thoroughly decimates the argument that America is "rushing to war" or that this is somehow an unjust action. Here are a couple of worthy excerpts:

After 12 years of economic sanctions, two different arms-inspection forces, several Security Council resolutions and, now, with more than 200,000 American and British troops at his doorstep, Saddam Hussein still refuses to give up his weapons of mass destruction. Only an obdurate refusal to face unpleasant facts — in this case, that a tyrant who survives only by the constant use of violence is not going to be coerced into good behavior by nonviolent means — could allow one to believe that we have rushed to war. . . .

Our armed forces will fight for peace in Iraq — a peace built on more secure foundations than are found today in the Middle East. Even more important, they will fight for the two human conditions of even greater value than peace: liberty and justice. Some of them will perish in this just cause. May God bless them and may humanity honor their sacrifice.

For the anti-war coalition, this is the height of heresy: something more important than peace! McCain speaks well, and with a moral clarity and certainty that is missing from the anti-war movement. Worth two cups, sipped with firm resolve.   

Size Matters

AP reports that the United States tested a 21,000 pound bomb yesterday called a "Massive Ordnance Air Blast" or "MOAB." Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, in his traditionally understated way, said "[t]his is not small." To put the size of this bomb into perspective, the massive "Daisy Cutters" which we used in the Tora Bora area carry a mere 15,000 pound payload, and cruise missiles cap out at 2000-3000 pound payloads.

Estrada Straddle Strategy

Once again the Republicans demonstrate why they may well lose to the more political Dems, who are utterly ruthless. They are making legalistic arguments, a la the Bork fiasco. Needed is well-timed high-tech lynching rhetoric. Maybe Dr. Frist is too much enamoured of "surgical strikes" for this job.

When Republicans want to emphasize the absolute impropriety of releasing internal legal memos, they should talk about exposing our legal processes and defenses to criminals and terrorists. It’s about denying ourselves the ability to defend ourselves and the rule of law against the enemies of the United States. That’s what it really is about, isn’t it? If Republicans want to die on the hill of internal memoranda, let the hill be piled high with Dem corpses. Estrada should not be one of them.

P.S.-- fans of LATimes cartoonist Michael Ramirez can meet the great artist at the Claremont Institute’s President’s Club meeting, May 3, in Orange County, where he will be the luncheon speaker. See the Claremont Institute’s website-- for more details.

An Assessment of the War on Terrorism

From the recent testimony of Vice ADmiral Lowell Jacoby, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

Al Qaida retains a presence on six continents, with key senior leaders still at large. It has a corps of seasoned operatives and draws support from an array of legitimate and illegitimate entities. The network is adaptive, flexible, and arguably, more agile than we are. Eager to prove its capabilities in the wake of significant network losses, al-Qaida had its most active year in 2002 – killing hundreds in Bali, striking a French oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, attacking Marines and civilians in Kuwait, murdering a U.S. diplomat in Jordan, bombing a hotel popular with foreign tourists in Mombassa, attacking a synagogue in Tunisia, and attempting to down an Israeli airliner.

The full testimony is available at testimony.

You Heard It Here First

The AP reports that the Democrats led by Senator Reid’s (D-NV) rejected the Senate Majority Leader’s proposed compromise on Mr. Estrada a full 35 minutes after you read about it here. Reid reportedly stated: "Until he supplies the memorandum from the solicitor’s office, it is not going to change the position of the people on this side of the aisle."

The Democrats in the Senate have complained that Mr. Estrada was not forthcoming enough in answering questions. He has now answered all their questions, made himself available for private meetings and more written questions, and opened himself up for something too cruel for most mortal men to imagine--another hearing before the gauntlet that is the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Democrats still cling to the claim that Mr. Estrada hasn’t "filled out his application," for the judiciary, but this argument will only satisfy those who don’t know the facts, or who have the deliberative functions of Paul Begala.

This leaves them with one argument, which Reid reiterated today: turn over the memos. This is ludicrous. They are asking for them precisely because they know that the Justice Department should not turn them over--after all, every living Solicitor General has told them this. Second, they can find out whether these memos displayed bias as they fear by talking to Mr. Estrada’s previous employers--several of whom are Democrats. And finally, the Democrats know as well as anyone that these kinds of memos show about as much political "leg" as a Saudi Arabian fashion show. Quite simply, unless you twist and distort them (which seems to be the American way), the memos are almost certainly bland statements on what the law is and what arguments should be made in light of the government’s position on the questions (which would have been dictated to Mr. Estrada). But you see, they don’t want to see the memos--they want the release of the memos to be an issue. Similarly, they didn’t want Mr. Estrada to answer more questions (as demonstrated by the almost complete lack of follow-up written questions)--they wanted to make an issue of supposedly unanswered questions. Why, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think that the Democrats were just making up excuses to keep a qualified Hispanic off the bench.

Frist Offers a Deal; The Democrats Reject It

Majority Leader Frist just offered to have another formal Judiciary Committee hearing in which Mr. Estrada would appear in exchange for a date certain vote. The Democrats suggested that this would not be sufficient unless Estrada’s memos from the SG’s office are turned over as well. This emphasis on the internal memos (the release of which has been called inappropriate by all seven living Solicitors General) seems to be necessitated as a strategic move by the fact that Mr. Estrada recently provided answers to a series of written questions by Senator Blanche Lincoln, which questions included all the questions that the Democratic Senators claimed that Mr. Estrada did not adequately answer during his original committee hearing. You can see the questions and answers here via Howard Bashman’s "How Appealing" Extra.

Gary Hart is Inching Toward Nomination

As this Reuters dispatch makes clear, Gary Hart is moving closer toward declaring his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s starting to raise money.

Elie Wiesel on Iraq

The media’s (especially network television) extraordinarily biased and un-analytical reporting on the Iraq crisis and the diplomacy taking place at the U.N. is fully revealed when you note that Elie Wiesel’s opinions on the war have not been reported on. Why? Surprise, because he is in favor of Bush’s policy and no left winger can gainsay his opinions on the nature of evil. Here is his op ed in today’s Los Angeles Times (free registration required). 

Flying Sheep’s Head Hurts Man

There was a concert in Oslo by a band called Mayhem, part of what is being called Norway’s death metal band scene. Part of the act was to cut up a sheep and as the head was sliced off, it went flying through the air and hit a fan, giving him a headache. He says his relationship to sheep is ambivalent now. Charges have been filed.

No More French Fries

In this eatery in Grand Rapids French Fries are now Freedom Fries. And the politics gets more bitter with one guy trying to explain why French’s mustard is yellow, and a certain kind of kiss is now being questioned. I’m afraid this will get worse.

Bobby Knight Returns Salary

Bobby Knight is so dissatisfied with his own performance that he told the administration of Texas Tech that he will not accept his salary of $250,000 for this season. This is a bad precedent for those of us who see ourselves as underperformers. I wonder what Vicki would say if I turned noble.

Junk Mail Cripples Dog

A retired couple (I guess they have nothing better to do) is suing Safeway for damages to their dog which hurt itself trying to grab a store leaflet posted through the door. The dog hurt itself when he leapt up to try to catch the leaflet, teeth marks were found on the junk mail. Muffin dislocated a disc and had to have surgery.

New Berlin Wall

Staying with Hayward’s humor mode this morning I bring a couple of interesting things to your attention. The first is that that a new wall is being built in Berlin at a cost of almost a half million dollars (despite the fact that other more essential services are being cut) to give protection to frogs that want to cross the road. There is some outrage.

Only in America

Only in America would a brothel be shut down for "safety code" violations that have nothing to do with what activities take place in the building:

Feds to Demolish Infamous Nevada Brothel

MUSTANG, Nev. (AP) - Three years after seizing Nevada’s most celebrated brothel, the federal government announced plans to demolish the Mustang Ranch. The pink stucco main building and a smaller unit will be destroyed rather than renovated, said Mark Struble, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. The buildings are in violation of safety codes, he said.

Blix and U.N. Wrap Up

James Taranto in The Best of the Web has an excellent wrap-up of the latest Blix flap: why he didn’t report the Iraqi drone they found, why he didn’t report on the new variety of rocket found that could deliver chemical or biological agents, or why he didn’t report on the "credible information" that Iraq still has tens of thousands of bilogical agents. Taranto does a nice job pulling all of it together (also follow his links) and then adding a Stephen Pollard report from The Daily Telegraph that claims that the U.S. is prepared to announce a "temporary" suspension of America’s membership if the U.N. doesn’t do its duty. Very clear and very good stuff.  

African Lost Tribe to America

The New York Times runs this story about how the Somali Bantu (about 12,000 strong, now refugees in Kenya) originally stolen from Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania and sold into slavery in Somalia are now without a place to live because of Somalia’s civil war. They have been allowed refugee status and will arrive in the United States. Although it is a heart-rending story wherein "the refugees tell each other, the Bantu will be considered human beings, not slaves, for the first time," the Times still is able to cast an anti-American prejudice in the story by asking how these folks will be able to put up with racial prejudice and poverty.
Ignore that idiocy, and enjoy the pleasure this story brings of the move toward freedom. Fatuma Abdekadir, a twenty year old Bantu, said this: "I don’t think Somalia is my country because we Somali Bantus have seen our people treated like donkeys there, I think my country is where I am going.

There, there is peace. Nobody can treat you badly. Nobody can come into your house and beat you."

May the Bantu prosper, may they demean themselves as good citizens and enjoy and merit the good will of our other inhabitants. None here shall make them afraid.

More on Cheney on the Hill

The Senate Whip has issued an alert regarding VP Cheney exercising his VP prerogative to preside over the Senate tomorrow between the hours of 11:00am and 12:30pm: "Vice President Cheney will be the Presiding Officer and a special message from the President will be delivered during this time."

Clinton and Bush on Iraq

Andrew Sullivan writes in the London Times that the policy Clinton pursued on Iraq is no different than what Bush has pursued. Sullivan explains the difference that does exist in terms of style and that Bush is trying to do some very ambitious things (which Clinton avoided on all fronts). A good read. Guess who said this in 1998?

"What if [Saddam] fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route, which gives him yet more opportunities to develop this program of weapons of mass destruction? ... Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction. And some day, some way, I guarantee you he’ll use the arsenal."

The Upcoming French-German Split

As this op-ed from the London Telegraph makes clear the French and Germans, although erstwhile allies in the current U.N. poker game, are about to break over the differing economic conditions in each country. As interesting as any article can get having to do with economic affairs.

Shades of 1963

This excellent editorial cartoon was produced by Michael Ramirez in the Los Angeles Times. This may be the first cartoon to earn a cup.  

Cheney Takes the Hill

Vice-President Cheney will be presiding over the Senate from 11:00 am till 12:30 p.m. tomorrow in a special session on Miguel Estrada. Readers of this page are no doubt familiar with the filibuster and obstruction, but a relatively small percentage of Americans poll that they are familiar with Mr. Estrada’s plight. Cheney’s appearance certainly raises the profile of the delay, and should serve to alert the American public to the shameless arguments being proffered against Mr. Estrada.

French anti-Americanism

Walter Russell Mead has a short review of two recently published French volumes that try to explain and understand why the French dislike America. The review is a good read and essentially makes the point that as the French disliked Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for the many wounds that that liberal and dynamic country inflicted upon them, so they dislike America for its economic dynamism and its political power. The root cause of the French dislike of America is not our shortcomings and failures. The roots cause of their dislike is rather American power and American success. This dislike "is likely to flourish as as its causes exist." And may that be a very long time. 

Does Iraq have an Army?

About a dozen Iraqi soldiers crossed over and surrendered to British troops. The Brits had been practicing a live fire exercise and the Iraqis, apparently, thought that the war had started. The Brits sent them back and told them that they will have to wait to surrender, the war hadn’t started yet. Although amusing, this gives us some information on what kind of army Iraq has. Amir Taheri has a thoughtful piece on the state of the Iraqi army and explains why it exists mostly on paper. This is a thoughtful piece with some easily digestable information in it. (I note in passing that Taheri mentions that Iraq is the second-biggest importer of French Cognac, after Japan.) A good read.  

Howard Dean is Breaking Out of the Pack

I saw Howard Dean this morning on Face the Nation and I was impressed. He looked presidential and serious (that’s not to say I agreed with him, of course). Here is Stanley Kurtz’s comment at The Corner. You will see that he nails it and shows why the Democrats are in trouble. I quote in full:

"I just saw Vermont Governor Howard Dean on Face the Nation, and he was superb. Was his position on the war incoherent? Sure. Dean won’t attack Saddam until Iraq’s at the point where North Korea is now. That’s absurd. And Dean thinks deterrence will work on Saddam in the way that it worked with the Soviet Union. That’s ignorant. (Read Kenneth Pollack.) And Dean wants to build up the U.N., even as its refusal to implement its own resolutions turns the institution into a joke. Nonetheless, Dean gave a masterful performance. He parried Russert’s jabs expertly. He came through as a real person, not an artificial persona. And he looked an acted presidential. Dean is breaking out, and that means the Democrats are in big trouble. The face of their party may soon be the dovish man who signed a civil unions bill in a state more liberal than Massachusetts."

Jimmy Carter the Tedious Fool

Here is Jimmy Carter’s Sunday New York Times op-ed in which he reveals himself--as he understands himself--to be a philosopher and a statesman, manifesting Solomonic wisdom and Aristotelian prudence. He not only understands the sweep of American history, the nature of international diplomacy, but also the theory of just war and international law. And he has a very clear understanding of what is in the interest of the United States.

A former president of the United States should not pontificate so in public, it is not only against American interests, it is embarrasing. At best, he ought to give advice to the current chief executive in private (as Nixon did with him and with Clinton, and as the older Bush did with Clinton). It is embarrasing that one of the most ignorant and least effective presidents in our history pontificates so barba tenus sapientes. Do we need to be reminded that this was the president who said we have an inordinate fear of communism and then admitted that he had been taught something about the nature of Soviet tyranny when they invaded Afghanistan under his watch? Do we have to be reminded that he thought any ruler following the Shah of Iran would be better? Do we have to be reminded that he was unable to get the American hostages out of Iran? Do we have to be reminded that this is the ex-president who in 1999 warned us not to send troops against Milosevic because we would end up in a "quagmire"?

Mr. Carter is a tedious fool, his ignorance is not an accident, it is his trade. He really ought to stop talking, stop putting pen to paper, and get himself a few tutors; ones who could show him that the projection of American power is generally for the good, ones who could explain to him that we don’t need U.N. approval to pursue our national interests, and ones who could show him that there is a difference between regimes, and some are called tyrannies and that the U.S.A. is not one of those. And, in passing, maybe they could explain to him the meaning of the French word malaise and why it doesn’t have a home here.

Bush is a Dictator

Not according to me, of course, but according to the German Under Secretary of Defense, Walter Kolbow (a member of Schroeder’s Social Democratic Party). Here is the Reuter’s dispatch, in German. (Thanks to InstPundit for the link.)

"Bush positioniert sich wirtschaftlich und politisch absolut einseitig, ohne auf irgend jemanden Rücksicht zu nehmen. Das ist kein Partner, sondern ein Diktator."

Here is my rough translation: "Bush positions himself, both economically and politically, in a one sided way without respecting anyone else. That is not a partner, it is a dictator."

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Shock and Awe War Plan

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 doesn’t help that the French are still supplying the Iraqi air force with parts.

Russian Women in the Military

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.

French Male Misery

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."

Old Europe at the U.N.

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

Religion, Politics and Terrorism in Pakistan

Two good articles (one,two)on what is going on in Pakistan. The Far Eastern Economic Review reports that the house in which Mohammed was found is owned by a senior officer in the Pakistani military.

Marcy Kaptur Said What!?

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.’"

Bin Laden Close to Being Captured?

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 can’t help wondering why it is being advertised if it is not yet done. Unless it’s an honest discovery by a very clever reporter (I can’t imagine an unintentional leak at this point, unless it’s 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.

Bush Press Conference Tonight

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 it’s 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.

Sloth, The Capital Sin of Students

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!

Handicapping the U.N.

Peter’s 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) Bush’s 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.

German Economy in Shambles

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 America’s Iraq policy?

French Roulette

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.

LBJ Gets It Right

As we watch the spectacle at the U.N. unfold, let us recall one of Lyndon Johnson’s more aromatic remarks about that august body: "Why the U.N. couldn’t 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!).


An article on what is going on in Afghanistan.

Russian Veto?

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 can’t 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 don’t 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 can’t afford it, politically or economically. Still, it’s an engaging game of poker.

Shakespeare and Iraq

Mickey Craig has already noted in today’s 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."

Fatih Based Presidency

This National Review OnLine article discusses the role of faith in President Bush’s Presidency.

Hillary Positioned to Run

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. 

Libeskind’s Winning World Trade Center Design

Herewith is one of many websites that display Daniel Libeskind’s design for the World Trade Center: Libeskind’s WTC Design

Good enough for government work?

Daniel Libeskind on America

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." That’s 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. It’s 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 freedom’s soil beneath our feet, and freedom’s flag high above in the sky." And I think that’s really what the site is: It’s 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.

On the Capture of KSM

Monsoor Ijaz has an essay on how K.S. Mohammed was captured and what it means. Good read.

The Unloved American

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. Schama’s intention, clearly, is not to flatter us. But that’s 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." That’s true and good. Much can be said about this paragraph, but not now (it’s Vicki’s 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."

Death of a Tyrant

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.

The Bard on War

Here’s a fine and apt collection of quotations from William Shakespeare on today’s war with Iraq fromthe Wall Street Journal.


Schramm is likely correct regarding Boone. Perhaps the keyboard is more difficult to wield than the pen.

Book of the Day

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. 

Boone no Blogger

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.

North Korea

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 don’t). Two coffees.  

A Boone to Blogging?

I’ve seen Boone’s writings before, and found them quite eloquent. He or she could make a fine blogger.

Poets and Not

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.

Pig Stories Banned

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.)

U.S. as Sea Power

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’".

He claims that this new strategy is not public, and may never be publicized, yet it is rational and has great significance for the world, including alliances such as NATO. Very thoughtful piece. 

Cloture Vote Thursday

The Senate leadership has decided to call for a cloture vote on Thursday on Miguel Estrada’s 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 didn’t have so many unanswered questions after all.

Our Three Wars

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.

February’s Mug Drawing Winners

Congratulations to this month’s winners of a No Left Turns mug! The winners are as follows:

Jim Bishop

Bob Reith

John Jenkins

Brad Preston

Thomas Moyers

Thanks to all who entered. If you didn’t win this month, enter March’s drawing.

Interrogation Techniques

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."

The Incredible Lightness of Being Nussbaum

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.

Providence and the President

Jim Ceasar has a thoughtful piece in the latest Weekly Standard on Bush’s 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.   

Major Al-Qaida Figures

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.

Advice for Democrats

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, I’d 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 don’t you send the Smoking Ban Lobby back to the abortion-rights meeting, and tell them to leave you alone?"

Air Force Academy Scandals

Ken Masugi has an especially good insight on the USAFA rape allegation scandals at The Remedy. He taught there for three years.

New vs. Old European Economics

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?

Text Messaging and English

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."

The Education of Boys

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) hasn’t 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."

Women of Starbucks

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. 

The Hardest Thing

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.

Capturing the Architect of Terror

The importance of the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed can’t 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.

Five Lessons from Iraq

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.

Layers of Nonsense

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 clearly misunderstands the President’s position. The question in the University of Michigan case is whether it is permissible for a public institution to use one standard for the admission of minorities, and another for the admission of non-minorities. By contrast, no one can seriously argue that Mr. Estrada, a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School who clerked for the Supreme Court before arguing 15 cases before the Supreme Court, does not meet the same standard as other nominees for the bench. In fact, he received a unanimous ranking of well-qualified from the ABA. Thus, as the Justice Department’s brief in the Michigan case makes clear, it is not that the administration disfavors diversity, but rather it disfavors using different race-based standards. The fact that the President doesn’t wish to bend the Constitution in order to increase minority representation should not preclude him from applauding outstanding achievements by minorities.

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 Rush to War

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."

Yet the Times argues for more time, and suggests that if Bush went forward now it would be with "marginal" international support. Since when is a supermajority of Europe "marginal?"

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.

Study on Juveniles Tried As Adults

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.

James Lileks on the Middle East

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."

Check it out. Better yet, spend some time at his site, particularly his hilarious Institute of Official Cheer. That alone is worth the visit.

Harvard Insanity

I have shied away from this story for days well, because, believe it or not gentle reader, I thought it too obscene. But I now bring it to your attention because it has taken on Aristophonic dimensions. You will find "gendered violence", "phallocentricity," "artistic expression" and "feminist perspectives" galore. It is both amusing and too pathetic not to be read.

Iraq Soldiers Preparing to Surrender

This note by Gertz and Scarborough claims that the morale of Iraq soldiers couldn’t be worse and that many are preparing to surrender.

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed Arrested

Mohammed, the suspected mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, was arrested in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, it is being reported. The FBI has refused to confirm the arrest, or that it was involved.

The Farce of Courting U.N. Votes

Charles Krauthammer shows the absurdity of the U.S. wooing votes from Cameroon, Guinea, and Angola (never mind France) for a crucial Security Council vote; and this shows the absurdity of the U.N. itself. He has a few modest proposals. And then Victor Davis Hanson writes about the present farce by asking if it is the 1930’s all over again. Both are great reads.

Churchill and the Sudan

James W. Muller held forth yesterday on Winston Churchill’s The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan (2 vols) that will be re-published in the only definitive edition this fall, edited by Muller. It was a very engaging conversation with the Ashbrook Scholars, and not irrelevant to today’s affairs. It’s about an hour and a half.