Friday, September 24, 2004

Mark Helprin: How to Win the War on Terror

Let Us Count the Ways
By Mark HelprinThe Claremont Institute September 24, 2004

From the hijackings and massacres of the '60s and '70s through the close of the Cold War and the decade of locust years that followed, the United States did virtually nothing to fight terrorism. No match for the perils of a Soviet-American nuclear exchange or a conventional war in Europe, and hardly a distraction from either the proxy wars in the Third World with their casualties in the millions, or the years of the "Peace Dividend" with their enrichments by the trillion, terrorism was something that merely had to be managed. Though the acts of terror themselves were lurid and arresting, casualties were so few that when assessed from a position of safety and tranquility it seemed impossible that they could threaten the massive military and economic power of the Western nations that were anyway only peripherally involved. This was the cynical judgment of the elites and the unconscious judgment of the people of these nations, including our own.

As international terrorism steadily developed it did so carefully. Like a weak economy that initially refuses competition with stronger ones, it gave great and powerful states a wide berth. As long as the United States remained uninvolved, it was easy for us to make the case that we should not gratuitously become involved. If, as sometimes they were, Americans were caught in the crossfire, the calculus, perhaps momentarily more difficult, was the same, with few exceptions: to accept occasional casualties, rather than go neck deep with raids on training camps or punitive expeditions against state sponsors only to lose more Americans in the process and enter the kind of dirty war that no temperament, much less the American, was made to endure.

As it developed its ideologies; found refuge and finance; recruited adherents, sympathizers, and apologists; and perfected its operational art, Islamic terrorism began direct attacks upon Americans and American interests, but only so incrementally as not to elicit a decisive response. What had been collateral damage was now deliberative. Still, the numbers remained small and our calculation the same: the nation would not plunge into a hornet's nest for the sake of only a few, even were they its own. For the sake of U.S. ambassador Cleo A. Noel, Jr., and chargé d'affaires George C. Moore, murdered by Black September at Yasser Arafat's behest in 1973, the Nixon Administration would not take the nation to war. For the sake of Robbie Stetham, an American sailor murdered during the June 1985 hijacking in Beirut, or the 71 dead there in the 1983 and 1984 American embassy bombings, the Reagan Administration would not take the nation to war.

The terrorists crossed yet another line that was insufficiently provocative when they simultaneously targeted American interests and escalated their outrages. If we were not ready for all-out war, they were, attacking American embassies and a warship and venturing for the first time onto American soil for the 1993 assault upon the World Trade Center. The Clinton Administration simply did ignominiously what previous administrations had done before, as habitual attitudes continued in force though circumstances had changed radically, in that the fall of the Soviet Union eliminated the major check on retaliatory action. The terrorists, who, contrary to the common wisdom, always have an address, could strike, and strike, and strike again—our embassies, navy, and largest city—and not suffer a single punitive expedition, much less the full scale response to which they were deeply entitled.

Only when on September 11, 2001, they brought the war to the nation's capital, to its highest officials and symbols of government, and slaughtered almost 3,000 Americans in America itself did the calculus finally seem to break. Only with the brilliant campaign in Afghanistan and then the haplessly run war in Iraq has the reckoning finally seemed to have arrived. But has it really? Unfortunately, it has not. The calculus still holds. This country and its elites in particular have yet to shed the illusions that we need not work full out in our defense; that we need not, as in the past, display full commitment and devotion; that the stakes are low and the potential damage not intolerable.

The evidence of our continuing, major deficiencies has not been assimilated, and relative to what is required we have done virtually nothing to meet further challenges potentially far worse than that of September 11, and to prepare for the inevitable military rise of China. We have only partially exited the state of "managing" terrorism, even if now we know that terrorism cannot be managed.

This is a failure of probity and imagination comparable to the deepest sleep that England slept in the decade of the 1930s, when its blinkered governments measured the sufficiency of their military preparations not against the threat that was gathering but by what they thought the people wanted, and the people wanted only what they thought the government had wisely specified. We are now entrapped in the same dynamic. Neither the party in power nor the opposition has awakened to what must be done or what may happen if it is not. Neither party, nor the Left, nor the Right, nor the civilian defense establishment, nor the highest ranking military, nor the Congress, nor the people themselves, has been willing, in a war not of our own making, adequately to prepare for war, to declare war, rigorously to define the enemy, to decide upon disciplined and intelligent war aims, to subjugate the economy to the common defense, or even to endorse the most elemental responsibilities of government, such as controlling the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory.

As if all of this has been done, the Left is in high dudgeon, and for fear of higher dudgeon still, the Right dares not even propose it. The result is a paralysis that the terrorists probably did not hope for in their most optimistic projections, an arbitrary and gratuitous failure of will that carries within it nonetheless a great promise, which is that because it has no reasonable basis or compelling rationale, it may quickly be dispelled. And once it is, the weight of our experience, genius, and resources can be brought to bear.

The Spur of Honor

No matter how daunting the prospect of terrorism, the United States possesses the means with which to endure and defeat it, despite the difficulties of asymmetry and the hazards of chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons. All the steps I shall recommend ahead or that, by implication, flow from them are expensive. It is true that a substantial portion of the agony and uncertainty of the war to date has been attributable to the supposedly inescapable dearth of funds that has led to at times insufficient forces, ships, bombs, bullets, food, medical supplies, fuel, and even water. These deficiencies, however, are the drag only upon that which we have actually endeavored to do. Deficiencies of far greater mass and import have prevented even consideration of some things that need to be done but that we have not dared to do; they have failed to deter certain enemy actions; and have by their very existence suggested and stimulated them. For example, had the United States adopted Israeli levels of civilian airliner defense, September 11 would have been just another clear day on the East Coast—but this course supposedly was and supposedly still is too expensive. We do not and, according to some, cannot or should not control our borders, because it, too, is expensive. Humvees have gone without armor, baggage without inspection, epidemic diseases without immunizations, chemical agents without antidotes, radiation without detection, and so on and so forth across the spectrum of our vulnerabilities.

A simple analysis, however, shows that this is false economy. The United States produces approximately $11 trillion of goods and services annually, of which roughly $400 billion, or 3.6% of GDP, has been allocated to military spending including the cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This 3.6% of GDP is far less than the 5.7% the U.S. devoted to defense spending in the peacetime years of the period 1940-2000, and barely more than just a quarter of the average of 13.3% of GDP devoted to defense in the wartime years.

In the Second World War, we spent as much as 38.5% of GNP (in 1945), and at the peak had twelve million soldiers under arms, almost 10% of the population. This is a far cry from the situation now. Were we to replicate the same levels of effort, we would be spending not $400 billion but $4.235 trillion. We would not have 2.7 million in uniform (including reserves), but 30 million. I am not advocating any such thing. As pressing as our needs may be, we are not engaged in war against a major power, and the intensity of engagement in World War II is far and above what is necessary. I point it out to show what we can do, and what actually we have done, if we concert our will, especially because during World War II it was much more difficult to apportion 29% of the nation's output to defense (the average for the period 1942-1946) than it would be now, because we have so much more wealth per capita than we did then, coming out of the Depression. To relinquish almost a full third of income is much harder for a nation with barely enough to get by than it is for one that lives in an age of material excess.

What is it worth to be properly prepared for a smallpox epidemic that might kill scores of millions of Americans, or perhaps 100 million? To prevent a nuclear detonation in Midtown Manhattan or on Michigan Avenue? To stop deliberate, coordinated massacres like those of September 11? And to preserve as a principle and in actuality both American security and independence? Merely as a matter of honor, with all calculation aside, it is worth any material expense to remove terrorist hands from the control of American destiny. We will soon have lost 1,000 soldiers in Iraq. I believe that most Americans would quite willingly adjust the way they live—to have less, to expect less—to save the life of even one. And I think that most Americans understand that America's governing elites, in guiding us, hoping to guide us, or pretending to guide us, have underestimated our potential for willing recourse to honor. What they do not understand—not because, as they think, they are too refined and intelligent, but because they are neither refined nor intelligent enough—is that to reject the spur of honor is ultimately to forfeit prosperity, liberty, dignity, and life itself.

Politicians of both parties badly judge the American character when, gazing at their own mirrors, they assume that we are a shallow people incapable of sacrifice and austerity. How would they know, never having had the courage even to ask? How can these same politicians have the temerity to expect and order so many military families to risk the ultimate sacrifice, and yet quake at the prospect of informing the rest of us that we may have to do with a little less? We can afford to pay many times over for anything this war requires. The money is there, and to direct it into well thought-out and effective measures for the common defense is an obvious responsibility of self-preservation.

War Aims

Perhaps nothing in war is at one and the same time so unexciting to the imagination and so absolutely essential as determining war aims. This may be not so much because it pales in comparison to the color of battle, but because it is primarily a task of limiting the imagination and confining opportunities within a frame of strict discipline.

The aims of this war have been remarkably incoherent and elastic, their character improvised, their direction changed instantly upon encountering an obstacle. Whatever it was in the beginning, the war has become a very grand enterprise, with very limited resources, to transform the entire Islamic World into a group of peaceful democratic states that, relieved of the stress of not being peaceful democratic states, will cease to breed terrorism. Not only is this based on a wrong assumption, impossible, and overreaching, it is backwards: although one may transform an enemy by defeating him, one does not, on the state level, defeat an enemy by transforming him.

Our aims should be less ambitious and more defensive. Were they disciplined to be so, they would also become more pertinent, justifiable, and attainable. We as a people surely should not wish to possess the Islamic states or convert them to our way of seeing things, politically or otherwise, but rather to insist absolutely that they refrain from attacking us. How then do we determine which states are involved, when they are masked by the structures and practices of terrorists who hide from the light? The Left facilitates their strategy when it holds that our tests of association in linking these states to terrorism are too fluid. To the contrary, they are hardly fluid enough, exempting, for example, Saudi Arabia. When the consequences are as grave as the potential for nuclear and biological warfare has made them, the slightest support, tolerance, or sympathy for terrorism directed at the United States should qualify the state manifesting them for open operations, its government for replacement, and its military as a target. To defeat Germany in the World Wars, we brought more suffering and destruction even to France, our ally, than in this war we have visited upon our enemies.

If we exempt from repercussion states that nurture terrorism they will nurture it all the more. And having adopted the model of conquest, occupation, and political conversion, we have exempted most supporters of terrorism, because neither we nor all the world have the power to conquer, occupy, and convert all the countries from which terrorism arises. If the overriding need is to protect the United States, its citizens, and its interests from military aggression in any form, the first aim in war should be to destroy as many terrorists as possible and to deny to those remaining refuge and sustenance so that as they are hunted either they will fall or they will of their own accord stand down. The world from which they spring is far too wide and alien for us to do even this according to the present design. We cannot reasonably hope to cover the entire Middle East if, a year and a half after conquering Iraq, we must make the trip from the fortified zone in Baghdad to the fortified airport in infrequent armored convoys. The only way to do it is to coerce existing regimes to accomplish it for us, which is possible by directly threatening their survival, something from which we have refrained by and large because of the paralyzing notion that once we destroy a regime we are bound to stay. We are not. We are bound only to defend the United States. We suffer the illusion that our withdrawal would bring anarchy, when, for example, we have not withdrawn from Iraq and it is the most anarchic of all the states in the region. Perhaps, had we left, it would have settled into a natural equilibrium, what engineers call the angle of repose, or perhaps it would not have. But if there is anarchy why must we attend to it if our attendance is ineffective?

The invocation of anarchy is anyway and in most cases a bluff. These regimes live to hold power, and one and all they have seized and maintained it by violence. They are quite capable of eliminating the terrorist infrastructures within their territories and will jump to do so rather than face their own destruction. And if they refuse to cooperate, or they go down trying, then the regime that replaces them can be offered the same choice.

To coerce and punish governments that support terrorism, until they eradicate it wherever they exercise authority. To open for operations any territory in which the terrorist enemy functions. To build and sustain the appropriate forces and then some as a margin of safety, so as to accomplish the foregoing and to deter the continuing development of terrorism. To mount on the same scale as the military effort, and with the same probity, the necessary civil defense. To reject the temptation to configure the defensive capabilities of the United States solely to the War on Terrorism, as this will simultaneously stimulate China's military development and insure that we are unprepared for it. These should be our aims in this war.
They are neither modest, nor without risk, nor certain to succeed—by their very nature they cannot be. But they are a model of discipline and restraint when compared to the infinitely open-ended notion of changing the nature of the Middle East, changing the nature of the Arabs, changing the nature of Islam, and changing the nature of man. No army can do that. No army ever could.

Control the Center

Although so far on (and so deep in) that this may no longer be possible even as an alternative to failure, the 140,000 American troops struggling to pacify Iraq would be a much more effective instrument were they remounted, re-formed, and re-instilled with the mission for which they were forged into an army—to win battles against other armies. Working from the existing network of developed bases in northern Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, reinforced until doubled in number, safe from demoralizing attrition, able to exercise and train, supported fully by air and sea power, they would be equidistant from Damascus, Riyadh, and Baghdad, each of which they could reach en masse and despite opposition in two or three days to bring down any regime that did not suppress the terrorism in its purview. These capitals are the center of gravity of the Middle East and, perforce, of the terrorist enterprise. To control the center without continuous occupation of populated areas would confer immense direct, strategical, and psychological advantage, and would as well provide a secure base for dealing with enemy migration to outlying areas, an established pattern that will recur.

Once the center was secured, activities dispersed to the periphery would be isolated and vulnerable. Regimes that refused cooperation could then become the focus for careful consideration one by one. Take for example Iran, a peripheral state that is nonetheless the most powerful and belligerent sponsor of terrorism remaining in the Middle East and indeed in the world. This is a country of 73 million, with a formidable military and difficult mountainous terrain. It is not, absent the kind of mass and power the United States and NATO needlessly relinquished at the Cold War's end, a country to invade, even in the "in-and-out" style advocated herein. And yet it has acquired and is acquiring intermediate-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, it is a habitual and recidivist supporter of terrorism, and its legislature frequently opens with chants of "Death to America."

We treat this obvious threat as if it were insurmountable, because due to our insufficient preparation, current deployments, and strategical blindness, at the moment, it is. The administration has no policy other than a few impotent statements about elections, and a spurned offer to inject Elizabeth Dole into the region as a bearer of earthquake aid. A Kerry Administration, over-brimming with understanding of the world's disdain for the United States, and having rejected the legitimacy of pre-emption, would be patient until detonation. The girlie-men of Congress hope to complete a resolution calling for U.N. sanctions, while the non-metrosexual bloc hopes to introduce a resolution for regime change. Ever meek, the Europeans tried bribery and persuasion and were rebuffed like idiots. And the Council on Foreign Relations recommends "direct dialogue" and the broadening of cultural and economic relations—i.e., ping-pong and pistachios. Meanwhile, Iran shelters al-Qaeda, acquires missiles, and races toward nuclear armament.

But were the open and bleeding flank in Iraq closed, the center safely held, and the American military properly supplied, rebuilt, and rejuvenated, the sure way to strip Iran of its nuclear potential would be clear: issuance of an ultimatum stating that we will not allow a terrorist state, the legislature of which chants like a robot for our demise, to possess nuclear weapons; clearing the Gulf of Iranian naval and coastal defense forces; cutting corridors across Iran free of effective anti-aircraft capability; surging carriers to the Gulf and expeditionary air forces to Saudi Arabia; readying long-range heavy bombers in this country and Guam; setting up an unparalleled search and rescue capability. If then our conditions were unmet, we could destroy every nuclear, ballistic-missile, military research, and military technical facility in Iran, with the promise that were the prohibited activities to resume and/or relocate we would destroy completely the economic infrastructure of the country, something we could do in a matter of days and refresh indefinitely, with nary a boot on the ground. That is the large-scale option, necessary only if for some reason the destruction of Iran's nuclear facilities could not, as is likely, be accomplished by stealth bombers and cruise missiles. The almost complete paralysis of its economy, should it be called for, could be achieved with the same instruments plus naval gunfire and blockade.

Like the strategy of using ground forces as an equivalent "fleet-in-being" coiled and ready to strike from within the heart of the center of gravity of the Middle East, this strategy for air and naval power would have a high probability of achieving its aims via coercion rather than actual combat, and, were going to war necessary, it would require neither the careless dissolution of (relatively) small forces among large populations, as in Iraq, nor their exposure to insurgency, nor their endless deployment in hostile areas. The paradigm would shift from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw—to strike, return, and re-energize, one of the many advantages of which would be that the U.S. military would remain intact and capable of dispatching to areas now dangerously neglected, such as East Asia.
But as salubrious as such a strategy may be, it is not magical. At times, occupation of key points would be necessary. And no matter what the efficiency of the paradigm, it does not obviate the need for a military buildup. The managerial ethos, rife now in the Pentagon and poison for the conduct of war, is to do the job with just enough of what is required. But war always requires redundancy, reserves, and as large a surplus capacity as can be maintained. That is because, unlike manufacturing shampoo or television sets, there are far many more variables, fewer rules, hostile intent, and consequences mortal to individuals and nations. The armed forces of the United States must be configured not only with a comfortable surplus for fighting the war on terror, but with an eye to the rise of China—so that, in both cases, rather than our vulnerabilities stimulating the initiatives of enemy or rival, our vigor and capacity will deter and discourage them. To do otherwise, as we are doing in fighting on the cheap, neglecting the rise of China altogether, and hoping for the best, is to risk the national security.
The Means to Prevail
Civil defense as we practice it now may best be understood in its similarity to military "transformation" or the "revolution in military affairs," which is not a revolution at all but a clearly traceable evolution that, nonetheless, has (predictably) accelerated at such a torrid pace that to some it looks like a revolution. Think of it in this way: if during World War I the entente had had a bee capable of injecting a fatal poison in the jugular of ten enemy soldiers, of arriving so fast that it could hardly be seen, and of organizing its movements collectively with such precision that no one would be stung twice, the armies of Britain, France, Italy, the Balkan states, Russia, and the U.S., with all their artillery, machine guns, trench works, and gas, might have been replaced by a dozen beehives, and the war won in a few days with not a daisy cut from its stem. That, by illustrative analogy, is the soul of transformation.
The problem is that no matter how capable the bees, they will encourage adaptations in those who are stung, and some things they cannot do anyway. The American military's transformation is necessary, though not necessarily sufficient, for prevailing in battle against other armies (mass and traditional maneuver are still required, as are heavy weapons and staple logistics), but transformation has little effect on counter-insurgency, as illustrated so painfully in Iraq. Nonetheless, it is the fashion of the moment and the instrument for all purposes.
Though it is far easier to attack the few thousand enemy targets that threaten us than it is to defend the scores of millions of targets they may strike, the asymmetrical and covert nature of the war demands that we must defend them. Because such a defense is so very costly, we have turned to the transformation model to mount it. Just as the Clinton Administration, to avoid higher military spending, emphasized transformation and its aura of magic, and just as the Bush Administration has done so partly for the same reason, we see our civil defense not as a difficult, tedious, and expensive job of widespread and meticulous protection, but as a challenge for the exercise of pinpoint intelligence.
Rather than comprehensive inspection and screening of passengers and cargo, we turn instead to complicated exercises with computers. Rather than controlling the borders, we seek to determine the few malefactors. Thus the stress on intelligence and neglect of virtually all else. But, as military transformation is necessary and yet clearly not sufficient for victory in war, intelligence is absolutely necessary and most certainly not sufficient for civil defense. And because the screen, by policy and delusion, is deliberately partial, and often so much so as to be nonexistent, and because that which may pass through it is of almost unimaginable destructive potential, we cannot safely continue to rely on selectivity alone.
To the contrary, the borders must be controlled absolutely, as is the right of every sovereign nation. It is hardly impossible and would demand no more than adding to the Border Patrol a paramilitary force of roughly 30,000, equipped with vehicles, helicopters, unmanned aerial drones, fences, and sensors. Crowded and slow entry points should be expanded to provide quick and thorough inspection by traditional methods and inspection to the limits of technological advance where traditional methods are impossible, as in searching the interstices of vehicles, or packed cargo containers, for nuclear or chemical warfare material. The sea frontiers can be secured if we undertake to supplement the Coast Guard with a few dozen high endurance cutters, 100 coastal patrol vessels, 50 long-range reconnaissance aircraft, 100 helicopters, and the appropriate additional personnel; and if the navy, by expansion of its anti-submarine assets, fixed and afloat, guarantees against submarine infiltration.
Aliens with even the slightest record of support for terrorism should be summarily deported—no alien has or has ever had the absolute right to be in the United States—and American citizens with suspected terrorist connections should be subjected to at least the same level of surveillance and investigation as figures in organized crime, with the same constitutional protections unless waived by an emergency court that, in turn, is supervised by a court higher still, the task of which is to prevent abuse of even carefully created emergency powers.
The United States must have, once again, an air defense, with new provisions for aerial threats arising from within its borders. This would require only a few hundred new fighters, a small part of those necessary for the future power projection needs of the air force and navy, and assimilable in them as a stage of rotation and training.
Although the best way to prevent a nuclear detonation in an American city is to stop it as early as possible in the planning stages, the fact that many portable Soviet tactical nuclear charges are unaccounted for justifies not only the above-mentioned border detection measures but bringing to full maturity the spotty intra-city nuclear detection effort in, for example, Washington, D.C., and its extension to every major concentration of population in the country. Training in decontamination, and the stockpiling of radiation countermeasures are necessary elements, as are evacuation planning and infrastructure continuation. Although for some the existence of "low-intensity" warfare in the form of terrorism means—because of magic that I myself cannot fathom—that there is no danger of a nuclear weapon delivered to a target in the United States by missilery, the existence of missile and nuclear weapons programs in what Madeleine Albright called "states of concern" suggests that ballistic-missile defense is yet an urgent priority, especially given that both intermediate-range and short-range ballistic missiles can be launched at sea with relative ease, after being dropped into the water from a freighter.
An effort on a scale several times greater than that of the Manhattan Project, and with similar or greater urgency, should be made to find antidotes, immunizations, and effective treatment for the full range of chemical and biological warfare agents. Once these are brought into being, they should be channeled into an immense nationwide distribution and application system, so that every attack can be quickly and thoroughly isolated, suppressed, and ameliorated. Each American should have access to the full range of immunizations available. (This is not the case at present. For example, though most of the public has at one time been vaccinated against smallpox, often on multiple occasions, it cannot now be revaccinated, because for some this procedure is a frightful prospect due to their view of the risks.) And stockpiles should be waiting for latecomers and the fainthearted.
Although these steps do not cover the full range of vulnerabilities (some of which it would be unwise to discuss publicly), and neither they nor anything else can provide absolute assurance, in their deterrent effect and their actual functioning they would drastically reduce the major dangers, and many of them would provide ancillary benefits as well. The establishment of huge medical research centers, with every incentive and asset for successful breakthroughs, would undoubtedly bring associated benefits in medicine. If the laws of supply and demand remain unrepealed, significantly increasing the number of hospitals and their staffs to deal with worst case scenarios could not have anything but a positive impact on the economics and availability of health care. Actual control of the borders would shut down the world's largest market for the transnational trade in illegal drugs. The necessary and balanced growth of the military would give pause to any nation, rogue or otherwise, with plans or dreams of challenging the United States by force of arms, thus obviating by deterrence future conflicts that we cannot foresee, and saving the lives of many who are not yet born.
Are We at War?
To the complaint that all I have recommended would be impossibly expensive, I say look to history, look to current accounts, look to the vast size of the economy, more than $11 trillion, of which I propose to release not even one dollar in ten, and keep in mind the kind of weaponry available to the enemy, his motivation, his declarations, and his intent.
When combined with the intelligent direction of policy and appropriate strategical reformations and adjustments in war aims, the measures outlined above—a proportionally small effort in light of the cost of previous wars—would offer the best chance for escaping the incalculable expense of lives lost, cities destroyed, and unnecessary wars of the future provoked by the vacuum of unpreparedness, lack of resolution, and ineptitude in execution that we have begun to show the world. In terms of what we must seek to avoid, these expenditures are the greatest economy imaginable.

The United States must make up its collective mind and answer the simple question, are we at war, or are we not? If the answer is no, we need not worry, nor take nor modify action in regard to terrorism. If the answer is yes, then major revisions and initiatives are needed, soon. If they are not reasonably forthcoming, the nation may pay a price such as it has never paid before.
It is all, finally, a matter of the possession or the failure of will. For if the whole power of the United States is adroitly focused upon this war, it is solely ours to win. We have the means to prevail. We need only count the ways.

Victor Davis Hanson: The U.N.? Who Cares?


Kofi Annan & Co. might as well move to Brussels or Geneva.

The Wall Street Journal Thursday, September 23, 2004 12:01 a.m. EDT

These are surreal times. Americans in Iraq are beheaded on videotape. Russian children are machine-gunned in their schools. The elderly in Israel continue to be blown apart on buses. No one--whether in Madrid, Istanbul, Riyadh, Bali, Tel Aviv or New York--is safe from the Islamic fascist, whose real enemy is modernism and Western-inspired freedom of the individual.

Despite the seemingly disparate geography of these continued attacks, we are always familiar with the similar spooky signature: civilians dismembered by the suicide belt, car bomb, improvised explosive device and executioner's blade. Then follows the characteristically pathetic communiqué or loopy fatwa aired on al-Jazeera, evoking everything from the injustice of the Reconquista to some mythical grievance about Crusaders in the holy shrines. Gender equity in the radical Islamic world is now defined by the expendable female suicide bomber's slaughter of Westerners.

In response to such international lawlessness, our global watchdog, the United Nations, had been largely silent. It abdicates its responsibility of ostracizing those states that harbor such mass murderers, much less organizes a multilateral posse to bring them to justice. And yet under this apparent state of siege, President Bush in his recent address to the U.N. offered not blood and iron--other than an obligatory "the proper response is not to retreat but to prevail"--but Wilsonian idealism, concrete help for the dispossessed, and candor about past sins. The president wished to convey a new multilateralist creed that would have made a John Kerry or Madeleine Albright proud, without the Churchillian "victory at any cost" rhetoric. Good luck.

For years, gay-rights activists and relief workers in Africa have complained that the U.S. did not take the lead in combating the world-wide spread of AIDS. President Bush now offers to spearhead the rescue of the world's infected, with $15 billion in American help in hopes that the world's financial powers--perhaps Japan, China and the European Union--might match or trump that commitment.

Nongovernmental organizations clamor about the unfairness of world trade that left the former Third World with massive debts run up by crooked dictators and complicit Western profiteers. President Bush now talks not of extending further loans to service their spiraling interest payments, but rather of outright grants to clean the slate and thus offer the impoverished a new start.

International women's rights groups vie for the world's attention to stop the shameful international trafficking in women and children, whether as chattel or sexual slaves. The president now pledges to organize enforcement to stop both the smugglers and the predators on the innocent.

For a half century, liberals rightly deplored the old realpolitik in the Middle East, as America and Europe supported autocratic right-wing governments on the cynical premises that they at least promised to keep pumping oil and kept out communists. Now President Bush not only renounces such past opportunism, but also confesses that "for too long, many nations, including my own, tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability." He promises not complacency that ensures continual oppression, but radical changes that lead to freedom.

The Taliban and Saddam Hussein were once the United Nations' twin embarrassments, rogue regimes that thumbed their noses at weak U.N. protestations, slaughtered their own, invaded their neighbors, and turned their outlands into terrorist sanctuaries. Now they are gone, despite either U.N. indifference or veritable opposition to their removal. The United States sought not dictators in their place, but consensual government where it had never existed.
What was the response to Mr. Bush's new multifaceted vision? He was met with stony silence, followed by about seven seconds of embarrassed applause, capped off by smug sneers in the global media. Why so?

First, the U.N. is not the idealistic postwar organization of our collective Unicef and Unesco nostalgia, the old perpetual force for good that we once associated with hunger relief and peacekeeping. Its membership is instead rife with tyrannies, theocracies and Stalinist regimes. Many of them, like Algeria, Cuba, Iran, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, have served on the U.N.'s 53-member Commission on Human Rights. The Libyan lunocracy--infamous for its dirty war with Chad and cash bounties to mass murderers--chaired the 2003 session. For Mr. Bush to talk to such folk about the need to spread liberty means removing from power, or indeed jailing, many of the oppressors sitting in his audience.

Second, urging democratic reforms in Palestine, as Mr. Bush also outlined, is antithetical to the very stuff of the U.N., an embarrassing reminder that nearly half of its resolutions in the past half-century have been aimed at punishing tiny democratic Israel at the behest of its larger,more populous--and dictatorial--Arab neighbors. The contemporary U.N., then, has become not only hypocritical, but also a bully that hectors Israel about the West Bank while it gives a pass to a nuclear, billion-person China after swallowing Tibet; wants nothing to do with the two present dangers to world peace, a nuclear North Korea and soon to follow theocratic Iran; and idles while thousands die in the Sudan.

Third, the present secretary-general, Kofi Annan, is himself a symbol of all that is wrong with the U.N. A multibillion dollar oil-for-food fraud, replete with kickbacks (perhaps involving a company that his own son worked for), grew unchecked on his watch, as a sordid array of Baathist killers, international hustlers and even terrorists milked the national petroleum treasure of Iraq while its own people went hungry. In response, Mr. Annan stonewalls, counting on exemption from the New York press on grounds of his unimpeachable liberal credentials. Meanwhile, he prefers to denigrate the toppling of Saddam Hussein as "illegal," but neither advocates reinstitution of a "legal" Saddam nor offers any concrete help to Iraqis crafting consensual society. Like the U.N. membership itself, he enjoys the freedom, affluence and security of a New York, but never stops to ask why that is so or how it might be extended to others less fortunate.

Our own problems with the U.N. should now be viewed in a context of ongoing radical change here in the United States, as all the previous liberal assumptions of the past decades undergo scrutiny in our post 9/11 world. There are no longer any sacred cows in the eyes of the American public. Ask Germany and South Korea as American troops depart, Saudi Arabia where bases are closed, and the once beaming Yasser Arafat, erstwhile denizen of the Lincoln Bedroom, as he now broods in his solitary rubble bunker.

Deeds, not rhetoric, are all that matter, as the once unthinkable is now the possible. There is no intrinsic reason why the U.N. should be based in New York rather than in its more logical utopian home in Brussels or Geneva. There is no law chiseled in stone that says any fascist or dictatorial state deserves authorized membership by virtue of its hijacking of a government. There is no logic to why a France is on the Security Council, but a Japan or India is not. And there is no reason why a group of democratic nations, unapologetic about their values and resolute to protect freedom, cannot act collectively for the common good, entirely indifferent to Syria's censure or a Chinese veto.

So Americans' once gushy support for the U.N. during its adolescence is gone. By the 1970s we accepted at best that it had devolved into a neutral organization in its approach to the West, and by the 1980s sighed that it was now unabashedly hostile to freedom. But in our odyssey from encouragement, to skepticism, and then to hostility, we have now reached the final stage--of indifference. Americans do not get riled easily, so the U.N. will go out with a whimper rather than a bang. Indeed, millions have already shrugged, tuned out, and turned the channel on it.

Mr. Hanson, a military historian, is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Robert Spencer: The Mullah's Europe

Robert Spencer
September 22, 2004

How quickly is Europe being Islamized? So quickly that even historian Bernard Lewis, who has continued throughout his honor-laden career to be strangely disingenuous about certain realities of Islamic radicalism and terrorism, told the German newspaper Die Welt forthrightly that “Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century.”
Or maybe sooner. Consider some indicators from Scandinavia this past week:

• Sweden’s third-largest city, Malmø, according to the Swedish Aftonbladet, has become an outpost of the Middle East in Scandinavia: “The police now publicly admit what many Scandinavians have known for a long time: They no longer control the situation in the nations’s third largest city. It is effectively ruled by violent gangs of Muslim immigrants. Some of the Muslims have lived in the area of Rosengård, Malmø, for twenty years, and still don’t know how to read or write Swedish. Ambulance personnel are attacked by stones or weapons, and refuse to help anybody in the area without police escort. The immigrants also spit at them when they come to help. Recently, an Albanian youth was stabbed by an Arab, and was left bleeding to death on the ground while the ambulance waited for the police to arrive. The police themselves hesitate to enter parts of their own city unless they have several patrols, and need to have guards to watch their cars, otherwise they will be vandalized.”

• The Nordgårdsskolen in Aarhus, Denmark, has become the first Dane-free Danish school. The students now come entirely from Denmark’s fastest-growing constituency: Muslim immigrants.

• Also in Denmark, the Qur’an is now required reading for all upper-secondary school students. There is nothing wrong with that in itself, but it is unlikely, given the current ascendancy of political correctness on the Continent, that critical perspectives will be included.

• Pakistani Muslim leader Qazi Hussain Ahmed gave an address at the Islamic Cultural Center in Oslo. He was readily allowed into the country despite that fact that, according to Norway’s Aftenposten, he “has earlier make flattering comments about Osama bin Laden, and his party, Jamaat-e-Islami, also has hailed al-Qaeda members as heroes.” In Norway, he declined to answer questions about whether or not he thought homosexuals should be killed.

Elsewhere in Europe the jihad is taking a more violent form. Dutch officials have uncovered at least fifteen separate terrorist plots, all aimed at punishing the Netherlands for its 1,300 peacekeeping troops in Iraq. And in Spain, Moroccan Muslims, including several suspected participants in the March 11 bombings in Madrid, have taken control of a wing of a Spanish prison. From there they broadcast Muslim prayers at high volume, physically intimidated non-Muslim prisoners, hung portraits of Osama bin Laden, and boasted, “We are going to win the holy war.” The guards’ response? They asked the ringleaders please to lower the volume on the prayers.

What are European governments doing about all this? France is pressing forward with an appeasement campaign to free two French journalists held hostage by jihadists in Iraq. The Swedish state agency for foreign aid is sponsoring a “Palestinian Solidarity Conference,” which aims, among other things, to pressure the European Union to remove the terrorist group Hamas from the EU’s list of terrorist groups – despite Hamas’s long history of encouraging and glorifying the murder of civilians by suicide bombers.

What Europe has long sown it is now reaping. Bat Ye’or, the pioneering historian of dhimmitude, the institutionalized oppression of non-Muslims in Muslim societies, chronicles in her forthcoming book Eurabia how it has come to this. Europe, she explains, began thirty years ago to travel down a path of appeasement, accommodation, and cultural abdication before Islam in pursuit of short-sighted political and economic benefits. She observes that today “Europe has evolved from a Judeo-Christian civilization, with important post-Enlightenment/secular elements, to a ‘civilization of dhimmitude,’ i.e., Eurabia: a secular-Muslim transitional society with its traditional Judeo-Christian mores rapidly disappearing.”

After the Beslan child massacres, however, there are signs from Eastern Europe that this may be changing. Last Sunday Poland turned away one hundred Chechen Muslims who were trying to enter the country from Belarus. This is the sort of measure that the countries west of Poland have been so far unwilling to take. But since one cannot by any means screen out the jihadists from the moderate Muslims, and the moderates are not helping identify the jihadists either, what choice did the Poles have?
It might not be too long before they will have to turn away entrants from Scandinavia and France as well.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing), and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).

Jonah Goldberg: Good Enough

September 21, 2004, 8:41 a.m.
National Review Online

Sure, Bush hasn’t handled Iraq perfectly. But who could?

Ten criticisms I'm willing to concede are valid about Iraq:

1. Iraq is a mess.

2. The failure to find WMDs is the material evidence (or lack thereof) necessary to make this the worst intelligence blunder since Pearl Harbor.

3. It was a heartbreaking mistake to allow the looting of Iraq to take place under the tacitly approving gaze of American forces.

4. It was a miscalculation in retrospect not to keep the Iraqi army on the payroll and confine them to their barracks.

5. Whatever the truth of the Chalabi weirdness, the notion that he would or could be the first president of a Democratic Iraq now appears naïve.

6. Abu Ghraib was, at minimum, a preventable public-relations disaster.

7. We haven't devoted enough money and other resources to security in Iraq. Indeed, the pace of spending in general has been borderline scandalous.

8. The war has cost us dearly in the eyes of many nations around the world.
9. Iran and North Korea have gotten to be bigger problems since the war.

10. Bush has not done a very good job of communicating with the American people when it comes to the progress of the war.

11. The situation in Fallujah is particularly bad.

12. Sadr should have been killed a long time ago.

13. The interim council was.... Oh, wait, I already passed ten.

In fact, it's pretty easy to pass ten. In other words, I don't think things are going swimmingly in Iraq. In fact, I don't know anyone who does.
Now, none of this is to say that there aren't good responses to many of the points above. Very quickly (indeed, with a brevity that makes a mockery of thoughtfulness and thoroughness):

1. Iraq would be a mess today no matter what steps Bush took. It would be a different mess, but a mess nonetheless. Picking an arbitrary date and saying "It's a mess now, therefore it wasn't worth it" is silly, and could be done to every major enterprise ever undertaken, from the building of the pyramids to putting men on the moon.

2. Bush was hardly alone in believing there were WMDs, and given the convictions of so many over such a long period, he erred on the right side. His line about not being able to put his trust in a madman may get tedious, but it's true.

3. Um...let's skip this one.

4. Historically, armies are a hindrance to democracy and reform in the Middle East. In Iraq, the army was a source of repression. If we kept the army intact, we might have created a rival power structure that would hinder progress. And de-Baathification would have taken a huge blow.

5. Ummmm. Skip.

6. Abu Ghraib was terrible. It was also isolated and policed by the military before the press got wind of it. These things happen in war; the question is, How do the responsible institutions respond? Oh, and making someone wear panties on his head isn't the same as cutting off his head.

7. Ummm...

8. Many of the nations that hate us for Iraq hated us anyway. The myth — oft-repeated by Jim Carville and others — that America was beloved by the world until the Iraq war or George Bush is hogwash. Anti-Americanism — in France, in Greece, throughout the third world — has been raging for a long time and actually increased with the defeat of Communism and on Bill Clinton's watch. That's not to say it was Clinton's fault in any significant way. It was merely a fact of life. Iraq is an excuse for America-bashing among nations that clearly couldn't be counted on no matter who was in the Oval Office.

9. What would the critics have Bush do? They denounced the invasion of Iraq even though that was easy, cost very few lives, and had substantial backing under international law. Similar actions against Iran or North Korea would cost tens of thousands of lives, would have no support from the U.N., and wouldn't achieve much. Meanwhile, they denounce our policy of letting our European allies take the lead with Iran and our multilateral diplomacy with North Korea.

10. Anything Bush says is automatically ridiculed by a press scandalously hostile to him. Besides, it seems the American people get what he's talking about. What bothers a lot of critics is that Bush isn't giving war-room briefings to bloggers.

11. There are no good answers to Fallujah. Though those who ridicule Bush for being too quick to use force, need to account for the fact that he's actually being quite, um, sensitive.

12. If Bush killed Sadr, Sadr would overnight become a peace-loving martyr in the rhetoric of Katrina vanden Heuvel, Dan Rather, and the United Nations Security Council.

And so on. Of course there are responses to these responses, and there are counter-responses to those. My point isn't to say that Bush has done everything right. Quite the contrary. However, I have to chuckle at the notion that any of these mistakes were obvious to most critics when they were made. When you don't have responsibility for anything, it's always easy to shake your head at the consequences of everything. And when I say the above criticisms are valid, I don't mean that I agree with all of them. Merely, I think serious good-faith people can offer these objections without being called Doves or antiwar or Bush bashers, etc.

But, since I'm on this topic, let me make two simple points. First, the Cold War was a conflict in which the actions of our enemies were essentially rational. The spoiled secular aristocrats who ran the Soviet Union didn't want to get incinerated in a nuclear war. Their tactics and ambitions reflected this, particularly in the second half of the conflict. The Politburo became, essentially, small-c conservative: evil and tyrannical, but pretty darn cautious about not doing anything to lose their dachas.

Our current enemy is the complete and total opposite. Where the Soviets were rational and bent on self-preservation, the Islamists are irrational and relatively comfortable with suicide. Where the Soviets were dependent on conventional armaments and interested in diplomatic routes, the Islamists must use non-traditional, barbaric terrorism. Where the Soviets had defined borders and interests, the Islamists merely have a vast sea of people and nations to roam, their interests and assets submerged in shadowy webs and networks that mostly exist below the radar of the legal economy.

But most important: The Soviets could be deterred; the Islamists cannot be. It is the difference between fighting a bastard of a neighbor who's got a home and family to defend and fighting a Charles Manson cult that wanders into town. I don't mean to downplay the institutionalized evil that was the Soviet Union; I still think we blew it when we didn't knock out Stalin in 1946. That was a blunder that makes not cleaning out Fallujah look like forgetting to put the garbage out. But, as a foreign-policy challenge, diplomacy with the Soviets was often practical and, needless to say, possible.

There simply is no diplomacy with the enemy today. So, that means going on offense. That means taking the fight to them. That means, in the short term, "creating" more extremists and terrorists by fighting on their home turf. But the point isn't merely to fight them, it's to pull the rug out from under them. The ultimate goal is democracy, of course. But the interim goal is to rationalize the Middle East so that, while it may still produce enemies, they will be ones we can deal with around a table, not a crater. And the short-term goal is to kill lots of them where they live, instead of them doing the same to us.

So sure, Bush hasn't done everything right — never mind perfectly — in Iraq. Churchill didn't conduct World War II perfectly every time either. Dunkirk wasn't the sort of thing that happens when the war goes swimmingly. But Bush gets all of this. John Kerry doesn't, in my opinion. Or, to be more accurate, John Kerry "gets" everything and therefore nothing. If the choice were between Bush and a better commander-in-chief, I might not vote for Bush. But that's not the choice, now is it?

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The latest:
Shoulda Been Wes 09/22
Good Enough 09/21
The Perils of Dan-nial 09/17
Goodbye to All That 09/14
Previous Articles
The Connection - Stephen Hayes explains how al Qaeda's collaboration with Saddam Hussein has endangered America.Buy it through NR

Beard: Dinner with Greats 09/22 10:15 a.m.
Murdock: "Shameful & Irresponsible" 09/22 9:42 a.m.
Kontorovich: Presbyterian Preachiness 09/22 8:50 a.m.
Goldblatt: The Right War, the Right Place, the Right Time 09/22 8:48 a.m.
Goldberg: Shoulda Been Wes 09/22 8:45 a.m.
Graham: Partisan Dan 09/22 8:44 a.m.
Miller: Famous Last Name 09/22 8:40 a.m.
Derbyshire: Dear Derb 09/22 8:39 a.m.
Blyth: Memory Lane 09/22 8:36 a.m.
Kudlow: Paradox City 09/21 10:23 a.m.
Goldberg: Good Enough 09/21 8:41 a.m.
Lowry: Kerry's Iraq Attack 09/21 8:40 a.m.
Robbins: A Foreign War 09/21 8:35 a.m.
Novak: By the Dawn's Early Light 09/21 8:32 a.m.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

John Keegan: U.S. and Britain Must Not Be Deterred

[Mr. Keegan's newest book is entitled "The Iraq War" and it is up to his usual lofty standards. Keegan has written a number of outstanding books on WWI and WWII...I recommend hunting them down.]
Fresh hostilities don't alter the justice of deposing Saddam (Filed: 21/09/2004)
The Daily Telegraph

The Prime Minister admitted on Sunday that British forces in Iraq are involved in a new war. Last week Gen Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, described current military operations in the country as a counter-insurgency. Yesterday Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, identified the enemies of law and order as former supporters of the Saddam regime, Islamic infiltrators from outside the country and common criminals seizing their opportunity.

It is not only the British who are involved in the fighting. So, too, are the Americans, and more intensively, as they have been almost since the conventional campaign of occupation ended apparently so successfully in April last year.

Documents leaked last week to The Telegraph from inside the Foreign Office compound the Prime Minister's Iraqi problem. They suggest that Downing Street was warned of post-war turmoil, perhaps persisting for a long time, and that the Foreign Secretary expressed his concern at Western unreadiness to impose a settlement.

The Prime Minister's opponents, particularly within his own and the Liberal Democrat parties, are already exploiting the embarrassment caused to undermine his Iraqi policy and denounce his continuing support for President Bush's determination to see the Iraqi interventions through to a satisfactory conclusion.

It is difficult to understand the motives of those who are making life difficult for the Prime Minister. Some are legalists who continue to insist that the war was launched without justification in international law and wish to punish those responsible for their transgressions.

T hey belong to that tiresome but increasingly numerous tribe who seem to think that men are made for laws and not laws for men. In any case, their arguments are contested, since many (including the Attorney General) hold that UN Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441 do in fact provide justification for the taking of military action against Saddam.

Some of Tony Blair's castigators are old-fashioned anti-militarists, usually with a strong anti-imperialist tinge, who deprecate the use of force as an instrument of foreign policy in almost any circumstances. They ignore the fact that Saddam was in breach of at least nine UN resolutions and flaunted his defiance. They also failed to explain why they in effect would support Saddam's continuance in power and the maintenance of his cruel and dictatorial rule over the Iraqi people.

Some anti-Blairites are, of course, simply playing internal Labour Party politics. They dislike the Prime Minister's unwritten contract with the middle classes, his refusal to institute progressive taxation and his disinclination to take back into public ownership any of the denationalised industries. They are usually anti-American as well, and take pleasure at the spectacle of President Bush's failure to translate the victory of 2003 into a successful transition to stable government.

No doubt the Americans made mistakes. It was a serious mistake to dissolve the Iraqi police force and to disband the Iraqi army. The reasons for doing so seem to have been based on distant memories of the occupation of Nazi Germany in 1945. The Ba'ath party was identified as the Iraqi version of the Nazi party and the view taken that no supporters of the old regime should be allowed to exercise power under a new regime.

That policy may also have drawn on an idealistic but naive American belief in the existence of a potential democratic majority inside any repressed population, ready to elect an enlightened government if given the chance to vote. The effect in practice was to throw into unemployment hundreds of thousands of young Iraqi males, instantly discontented but skilled in the use of weapons. As almost every Iraqi male has access to weapons, the result was to make for disorder.

There is now plenty of disorder in Iraq and disorder makes for headlines. Nevertheless, it should also be noted that much of Iraq is not in a state of disorder. The Kurdish north has made a successful transition to peaceful self-government. In the British-garrisoned south, three of the four provinces are at peace, and in one of them successful local elections have recently been held, which returned secularists to office.

The trouble that persists is centred on the so-called Sunni triangle, west of Baghdad, and is fomented by ex-Ba'athists who fear that properly conducted elections will exclude them from the position of dominance they were accustomed to enjoy in the Saddam years. Such elections are scheduled for January and that timetable is the spur to the current spate of bombings and shootings, which take as their principal targets those Iraqis who are brave enough to seek enlistment in the new police force and the new army.

Other dissidents are Shia militants, many followers of the cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who fear a revival of Sunni dominance through American-sponsored governmental means and who, in any case, regard Western forms of democratic government as un-Islamic. Their aims, if not their beliefs, are supported by the foreign infiltrators, particularly from Syria but also from Iran and the anti-royalist regions of Saudi Arabia, who want nothing less than the restoration of the seventh-century caliphate and a return to the rule of God on earth.

Britain has been here before. In the 1920s, at the beginning of its exercise of the League of Nations Mandate over Iraq, it had to pacify a disturbed ex-Turkish Ottoman territory in which, as the first British governor complained, every man had a rifle. Then, as now, Shia and Sunni were at loggerheads and the whole Muslim world was disturbed by the fall of the caliphate, brought about by Kemal Ataturk's dissolution of Islamic rule in Turkey.

Things could be a lot worse than they are. For all his crimes, Saddam must be credited with turning Iraq into a secular state and making its population one of the best-educated in the Middle East. As objective observers report, the majority of Iraqis have embraced both secularism and Western education; they welcome the fall of Saddam's dictatorship.

When not silenced by the threat of violence from extremists and criminals, they are also ready to say that they continue to regard the Western troops in their midst as liberators. Western so-called progressives who denounce the war of 2003 as a mistake are in fact illiberal and reactionary. They should be ashamed of themselves. Denunciation of war-making is much more fun than the recognition of the truth that the calculated use of force can achieve good. The United States and Britain must not be deterred.
Next story: It's dangerous to get rid of men in tights

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Monday, September 20, 2004

AP: Clemens Win 6th Straight, Now No. 10 All Time

Posted: Sunday September 19, 2004 11:28PM; Updated: Monday September 20, 2004 12:29AM

HOUSTON (AP) -- Roger Clemens could scarcely contain his glee, practically skipping off the mound and pumping his fist after his final strikeout of the night.

The Astros had plenty to celebrate after the Rocket's 328th win. Houston beat the Milwaukee Brewers 1-0 Sunday night to complete a three-game sweep and remain a game behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card race.

"He was phenomenal. He was just fantastic tonight," Astros manager Phil Garner said. "You wish you could just take a little bit of this and give it to the younger guys just to show them how it's done."

Clemens won his sixth straight start. Houston, which has won four straight, kept pace with the Giants and also remained a half-game behind the Chicago Cubs in the playoff chase. The Astros are off Monday, then start a critical three-game series at San Francisco the following day.

Clemens (18-4) retired his final 13 batters, striking out Scott Podsednik to end the eighth. The crowd of 35,678 was almost as pumped as Clemens, giving him a rousing standing ovation as he headed back to the dugout.

"It had to be this way," Clemens said. "I knew I had to be mistake-free."
He moved into sole possession of 10th on the career wins list, one ahead of John Clarkson and one behind Steve Carlton.

Brad Lidge struck out the side in the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances. Houston has won 12 straight home games for the first time since 1981.
Clemens allowed two hits, walked two and struck out 10. He also tied teammate Roy Oswalt for the NL lead in victories this season -- one more than Clemens' total with the New York Yankees last year, which he had said would be the final season of his career.

"He was throwing balls that are unhittable," said Milwaukee first baseman Lyle Overbay, who went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. "He's the same as he's been all year."
Clemens even added a little offense, hitting the third double of his career in the fifth, a shot deep into the left-field corner. The fans burst into cheers as Clemens slowly made his way around the bases.

Clemens is closing in on his seventh 20-win season and, perhaps, his seventh Cy Young award. He currently leads the majors in winning percentage (.818).
"Every five days the man is just incredible," Houston's Jeff Bagwell said. "We've never come across anything like him. It's nice to be able to just watch him."
Houston scored the game's only run in the third when Jose Vizcaino scored from third when Clemens hit a double-play grounder. Vizcaino walked, then took third on an error by Overbay on a ball hit by Raul Chavez.

Milwaukee's Doug Davis (11-12) allowed four hits in seven innings, dropping to 1-3 in his last nine starts -- he has allowed three runs or fewer in each of them.
"It's the same as last week and the same as the week before, there's just nothing you can do," Davis said. "Defense lost the game. That was the difference in the game."
The last-place Brewers have lost six in a row and eight of nine.

Top 10 Winningest Pitchers

1. Cy Young- 511
2. Walter Johnson- 417
3. Grover Cleveland Alexander- 373
3. Christy Mathewson- 373
5. Warren Spahn- 363
6. Pud Galvin- 361
7. Kid Nichols- 360
8. Tim Keefe- 341
9. Steve Carlton- 329
10.Roger Clemens- 328

Notes: Astros 3B Morgan Ensberg, who's missed 21 starts because of back spasms, returned to the lineup. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. ... Craig Biggio hit his 561st double, moving past Eddie Murray into sole possession of 18th place on the career list.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Neil Collins: Afraid of Global Warming? Chill Out

(Filed: 20/09/2004)

First there was Frances, then came Ivan, and now Jeanne is stirring herself to do her worst. They are, of course, the hurricanes that are promising to make it the windiest season ever recorded in the Caribbean. Who knows, as we grind through the alphabet, we may even get to Hurricane Tony, named after the man who last week set out on a new mission to save the planet.

Even by his own low standards, the Prime Minister's speech marked a deep meteorological depression. To maintain, as he did, that climate change is the gravest threat we face, is arrant nonsense. Compared with, say, an atomic bomb in Piccadilly Circus or Times Square, it's almost benign.

But surely, you protest, we're squandering the Earth's scarce resources, pouring poisonous gases into the atmosphere as never before and stand, as a particularly unctuous Thought for the Day put it last week, "on the edge of environmental catastrophe"?
Everyone, from St Tony and his chief scientific adviser, David King, to (regrettably) Michael Howard and (inevitably) the sandals brigade of the Lib Dems, is agreed: global warming is a terrible thing, and it's all our own fault.
The only path to redemption is to cut our output of carbon dioxide, before the Earth cooks and we drown under the melted ice caps.

All these hurricanes merely ram home the point; global warming isn't going to mean vineyards in the Scottish lowlands, but more storms, floods and pestilence.
Just look at those vast swarms of locusts that are eating Africa, following the unusual weather of last year. Oh, and don't forget Boscastle, the Cornish village that was almost buried under the weight of BBC reporters and cameramen that swept down the main street after the flood.

Next week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets in Vienna. The IPCC is a particularly smug body, with much to be smug about. The Kyoto accord is based on its findings, and since science is not John Prescott's strong suit, he could hardly question whether it made sense for Britain when he signed up to it. Besides, in the Year Zero of 1997, he'd have claimed that New Labour could walk on water by 2012.

Kyoto ranks as the most expensive confidence trick pulled on the world since Yalta in 1945. The IPCC's science is nothing of the kind, being merely a series of "scenarios" of what the weather might be like at the end of the century. Since it's hard enough to predict it for the middle of next week, to say that there are difficulties in long-term projections is putting it mildly.

As Martin Ågerup, president of the Danish Academy for Futures Studies, has said: "We simply do not know how much warmer the climate will be in 2100. In fact, the degree of (compound) uncertainty is so large that the mere exercise by the IPCC of providing temperature intervals is highly misleading and provides phoney confidence."*
The evidence that the world is warming is now pretty conclusive, but it's far from clear why, and the consequences are not obvious, either. Kyoto fingered CO2, perhaps because burning all that fossil fuel must surely do something bad, and every schoolboy knows about the greenhouse effect.

A warming world will melt the icecaps, and raise sea level, won't it? Well, not so far. Nils-Axel Mörner, head of paleo-geophysics at Stockholm University, has been studying the subject for 35 years. As he puts it: "No one in the world beats me on sea level."
He's been to the Maldives, often tipped as the first place to disappear under the waves, and can find no evidence that it's doing so. Satellite altimetry has only been going for 14 years, but it tells the same story.

If man-made CO2 was causing a rise in sea levels, we'd surely notice some effect over the past decade and a half. His best guess is for a rise of a couple of inches in sea level by the end of this century, which hardly threatens life as we know it.
Ah, but surely the weather is getting more violent? Barely a day goes by without more dramatic pictures of extreme conditions.

Madhav Khandekar has been studying weather patterns for 47 years, mostly for Environment Canada, and his conclusion is that it's the perception that has changed. More people and global television mean that freak events are less likely to escape detection, and do more damage because of the higher value of what's in their path. The weather itself isn't getting any worse.

The central mystery is why our politicians are so blinkered on this subject when, as Ruth Lea argues on the back page of today's paper, the policies we are following are clearly going to make us poorer, with slower growth and lost manufacturing jobs.
The scientists have been trying to get their message across, but at the last boondoggle on this subject, in Moscow in July, Prof King infuriated them by refusing to let them contribute.

The meeting mattered because, unless either Russia or the United States signs, the Kyoto treaty won't come into force. The Americans have no intention of doing so, and the Russians have resisted tremendous political pressure; even though they would get a multi-billion dollar windfall from selling the right to excess carbon emissions, President Putin's chief economic adviser believes that bad science is bad economics.
Forecasting is always difficult, especially for the future, as the old saw goes, and we love to spook ourselves with projections of doom and disaster. Here's one.
The last 600 years have seen a series of mini ice ages, well documented by those who shivered through them. They coincide with periods of low solar activity, and the next one is due in the middle of this century. So perhaps, instead of prostrating ourselves on the altar of global warming, we should be worrying about global cooling.

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Nat Hentoff: When Life And Death Matter

The Washington Times
20 September 2004

Kate Michelman has long been the most devoted, tireless advocate for abortion rights. She resigned as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America because of her conviction that "[this] is the most important presidential election of my lifetime, and I want to bring to bear everything I've done in my life to helping John Kerry become the next president." It's easy to see why she supports Mr. Kerry so strongly. In a July 22 interview with ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, Mr. Kerry said: "Let me tell you very clearly that being pro-choice is not pro-abortion."

A consistent defender of Roe v. Wade during his 20 years in the Senate, Mr. Kerry nonetheless told Mr. Jennings that "in the fertilization process ... a human being is first formed and created, and that's when life begins." But doesn't abortion kill a human being? Mr. Kerry says that Roe v. Wade sets the standard for viability "as to whether or not you're permitted to terminate a pregnancy, and I support that." (Note the euphemism "terminate.") But isn't human life a biological continuum from the very beginning? Mr. Kerry has even voted against bills, which, if passed, would have ended partial-birth abortion. And he voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which recognizes the unborn child as a victim when he or she is injured or killed in the commission of a violent federal crime. The law specifically exempts all forms of legal abortion from any penalty under this legislation. The Senate adopted the measure by a vote of 61-38. Polls show that about 80 percent of the public agrees with the "Laci and Conner's" law (named after the pregnant mother and unborn son allegedly murdered by husband Scott Peterson). And 18 states have fetal homicide laws that designate unborn children as victims throughout the extent of prenatal development. But it's Mr. Kerry's unwavering opposition to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that especially underscores his loyalty to "pro-choice" doctrine. (So much for his concern about the "viability" standard for terminating life.) He voted six times against the ban on partial-birth abortion. (The president signed the ban into law in November 2003.) On Aug. 26, New York federal Judge Richard Conway Casey, during his decision on the constitutionality of the law, described partial-birth abortion as a "gruesome, brutal, barbaric, and uncivilized medical procedure ... the fetus's arms and legs have been delivered outside the uterus while the fetus is still alive. With the fetus's head lodged in the cervix, the physician punctures the skull with scissors or crushes the head with forceps." During a hearing before Judge Casey's decision, he asked a doctor who performs partial-birth abortions if he "had any caring concern for the fetus whose head you were crushing." The answer was "no." Judge Casey, citing testimony from a fetal neurobiology expert that the fetus experiences extreme and excruciating pain during partial-birth abortion, asked another doctor who does these late-term abortions, "Do you tell the mother the fetus will feel pain?" "I never talked to a fetus," she said angrily.

Nonetheless, the judge ruled that the law banning partial-birth abortion is unconstitutional because the ban does not include a health exception as required by the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton, decided on the same day as Roe v. Wade (Jan. 22, 1973).

The exception for a woman's health, as very broadly ruled by the Supreme Court in the Doe decision (which struck down a Georgia law essentially requiring three physicians to approve of an abortion), covers "all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age." According to this highly permissive wide-ranging standard, allowing the "brutal, barbaric and uncivilized" procedure of partial-birth abortion characterizes how this nation, under our rule of law, describes itself as civilized. In the Feb. 26, 1997, New York Times, Ron Fitzsimmons, the executive director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, disconcerted his colleagues by estimating that up to 5,000 partial-birth abortions were performed annually; and, he added, "in the vast majority of cases" on "a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along." But those numbers are obviously a very small proportion of the number of abortions since 1973. Using the figures of the Alan Guttmacher Institute (which is affiliated with Planned Parenthood) through the year 2000, the National Right to Life Committee estimates "1,312,990 abortions for 2001-03; and factoring in a possible 3 percent undercount (that) AGI estimates for its own figures, the total number of abortions performed in the U.S. from 1973 to 2003 equals 44,670,812." One can argue whether those are exact figures, but clearly, many millions of unborn Americans will not be voting this year. Conceivably, if it's a close election, enough of them might have been voters for Mr. Kerry to decide the Electoral College vote. And who knows whether one or more of the disappeared might have cured any presently life-endangering conditions? But on Jan. 24, Mr. Kerry pledged: "I will support only pro-choice judges to the Supreme Court." Mr. Kerry said this is not a litmus test. However, is this his tribute to judicial independence?

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George F. Will: A Lethal Idea Still Lives

On the dominating issue of Iraq, it is possible for reasonable people to be simultaneously to the right of President Bush and to the left of John Kerry

By George F. Will

Sept. 27 issue - This grotesque presidential campaign, which every day subtracts from the nation's understanding of its deepening dilemmas, cannot end soon enough, or well. Concerning the issue that eclipses all others—the wars in Iraq and against Islamic terrorists—reasonable people can be simultaneously to the right of President Bush and to the left of John Kerry.

To the right of Bush: More forces may be needed—and more forceful employment of them. In the truncated conquest of Fallujah, U.S. commanders ignored Napoleon's axiom: "If you start to take Vienna—take Vienna." Flinching may have been prudent, although finishing the conquest might not have added much to the odium surrounding the U.S. presence in Iraq. And not crushing the insurgency in Fallujah may have accelerated, even formalized, the disintegration of Iraq. How do the administration's nation-builders think elections are going to be held in this maelstrom?

To the left of Kerry: Recently he said that even if he had known then what we know now, he would have voted to authorize the war. That is, even knowing that Saddam Hussein was not yet nearly the danger that intelligence guesses said he was, and even experiencing the occupation's rapidly multiplying horrors, Kerry says: Make me president and I will more deftly implement essentially the same policy.

Who believes there are now fewer terrorists in the world than there were three years ago? The administration should be judged as it wants to be judged, by its performance regarding the issue it says should decide the election—national security. However, the opposition party is presenting an appallingly flaccid opposition. Teddy Roosevelt's description of William Howard Taft fits Kerry: "feebly well-meaning."

He needs to resuscitate his campaign by making himself an interesting alternative to Bush. However, he seems incapable of mounting what the nation needs—a root-and-branch critique of the stunningly anticonservative idea animating the administration's policy. The idea, a tenet of neoconservatism, is that all nations are more or less ready for democracy. So nation-building should be a piece of cake—never mind the winding, arduous, uphill hike the West took from Runnymede and Magna Charta in 1215 to Philadelphia in 1787.

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Last week in The Washington Post, Robert Kagan, a leading neoconservative, wrote a column that illustrates why neoconservatives alarm almost everyone who isn't one—and especially dismay real conservatives. He was responding to Vladimir Putin's quick-step march into authoritarianism—Bonapartism with a semi-civilian face. Putin is scrapping direct popular election of Russia's governors, and will have Parliament elected on the basis of slates compiled by parties he largely controls. This is not a change of direction; it is an acceleration of a process already far advanced. It is adding sinews to Putin's existing semi-dictatorship, which is buttressed by his control of television.

Kagan thinks Putin's Russia should be Bush's next reclamation project, starting right now. Kagan does not exactly mean regime change; instead, he favors stern tutoring in democratic niceties. You might think America has its hands full democratizing Iraq. But Kagan says Russia is today's test of "how committed [Bush] really is to the cause of democracy around the world."

Kagan says "much depends on what Bush does and says in the coming days" and "a great deal is riding on whether President Bush can muster the will to denounce" Putin. Much? A great deal? Please. Will Putin retreat under the heat of a Bush scowl? Kagan says that unless Bush, while insisting on democracy in the Middle East, also denounces Putin, Bush will seem guilty of a "glaring" double standard. But that is the problem with neoconservative naivete that seeks to apply a single standard to all the nations of this naughty world.

"A dictatorial Russia," says Kagan, "is at least as dangerous to U.S. interests as a dictatorial Iraq." Oh? Then perhaps regime change is required in Russia after all.
Kagan knows that "we will pay a price" if Bush denounces Putin, and there may be "a loss of Russian cooperation" if Bush "goes further, as he should, and begins taking tangible actions in the economic and political spheres to express U.S. disapproval." This is neoconservative monomania.

There is no more urgent U.S. priority than Russian cooperation in securing Soviet-era fissile material that could fuel nuclear terrorism. Should we sacrifice that just to express impotent disapproval?

Warning that Russia might slide into tyranny, Kagan asks: "Is that the legacy President Bush wants to leave behind?" Think about that. Russia's fate will be Bush's "legacy"? Kagan, a highly intelligent and very representative neoconservative, evidently believes it is in Bush's power to determine Russia's fate.

Lurking there is the idea behind foreign-policy overreaching—the anticonservative delusion that political will can control the world. And Kerry has nothing to say about it.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Colin McNickle: Calling It What It Is

Calling it what it is

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By Colin McNickle PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW Sunday, September 19, 2004

Much time is devoted within these pages warning of the manifest dangers of socialism. After all, it does permeate contemporary society. But our monitions usually prompt the illiberal intelligentsia to chortle and chide about the Trib's seemingly amazing ability to find a Karl Marx devotee lurking virtually everywhere.
Ah, to be so "smart" but yet so blind.

A good example of this unlettered discourse can be found almost daily on the editorial page of The New York Times. To wit, Wednesday last, it was darn near apoplectic over President Bush's efforts to create an "ownership society."

For the love of Mike, what could be so dastardly about promoting higher rates of home ownership and the reduction or elimination of taxes that penalize savings and investment? A supposed companion, but thinly veiled, move to switch to a consumption tax to offset the "cost" of tax cuts, The Times alleges. Apparently, it's "progressive" to soak the rich who, by far, pay the most taxes but "regressive" to let the common folk build wealth.

Actually, what socialists are frenetic over is a frontal assault on their interdependent society. For you see, a more independent society can better make its own decision and see to its own needs. And, tsk-tsk, we just can't have that! After all, that means less money for those who have a vested interest in keeping society dependent on government to fund their redistributionist schemes.

In true Orwellian fashion, The Times opines that to turn Americans "into owners requires a strong economy in which the people who work for a living share in the benefits of economic growth." Sure sounds reasonable, right? But dissected, this is pure Marxist dogma. The clear implication is that the "rich" didn't work for their money, don't deserve it, and that there must be a government middleman to "better" spread the fruits of their labor.

The Times' wacky solution to creating its version of an "ownership society" is, effectively, more heavily subsidized health care (that actually increases its cost while creating shortages); reducing our dependence on foreign oil (by not tapping domestic reserves and by increasing mileage standards that do nothing to reduce consumption, and by, I guess, tying windmills to vehicles); and by scotching "unaffordable" tax cuts (in favor of, what, "affordable" tax increases?)

There's not a word about cutting spending. It's all about keeping the federal leviathan well- fed and watered and, well, pooping on this nation's job creators -- that nasty entrepreneurial investment class. Tax, tax, tax. Redistribute, redistribute, redistribute. Spend, spend, spend.

(use drop cap here) The Fourth Estate, however, does not have the corner on promoting socialism. Consider some of the fine leftists in the academy.
In a commentary in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Cornell University economics and management professor Robert H. Frank offered a novel argument against "tax cuts for the wealthiest."

When the "rich" have more money to spend via tax cuts, middle-income households spend themselves into trouble trying to keep up with them, he says. This is the real definition of "class envy," Professor Frank instructs. Incredible.

"Through a chain of events, the increased spending of the top 1 percent, who earned three times as much in 2000 as in 1979, has placed many basic goals out of reach for the median family," he says. "In short, burgeoning incomes at the top have launched 'expenditure cascades' that have ended up squeezing the middle class."
Damn those rich bastards, they're forcing me to live beyond my means? Nope. And that has Frank flummoxed. "What's surprising ... is that (the middle class) remain so free of resentment toward the rich."

Dude, perhaps because it's not their fault?
If only those horrid "tax reductions to the wealthiest 1 percent during the next decade" are repealed can the "squeezed" classes be able to navigate themselves out of their financial dire straits. Through redistributed tax receipts to make their life "more affordable," right?
Oh, and a final thought from Professor Frank: Why should anyone have a "60,000 square foot house" anyway? "If fewer people built houses that large, fewer would feel any desire to own one."

Hey, and while we're at it, why don't we abolish private property and single-dwelling homes and build block after block after block of apartment complexes, a la Soviet Russia, just to make things fair and equal?

This, class, is textbook socialism. And it's what is being peddled in too many of our newspapers and in too many of our classrooms.

In 1922's "Socialism," one of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises' seminal works, he offered that it is the "intellectual leaders of the peoples" who "have produced and propagated the fallacies" of socialism "which are on the point of destroying liberty and Western civilization."

It is "reason and ideas" -- not mythical and magical forces -- that determine the course of human affairs, Professor von Mises reminded. "What is needed to stop the trend toward socialism and despotism is common sense and moral courage."
Then, as now.

Colin McNickle is the Trib's editorial page editor. Ring him at (412) 320-7836. E-mail him at: