Saturday, October 02, 2004

Mark Steyn: Why Conservatism Thrives In America

This article does a pretty nice job of describing why I'm a conservative...
Conservatism thrives in America, says Mark Steyn, because citizens — not subjects — are suspicious of government and want to be left to their own devices.
New Hampshire- Conservatism is a going concern hardly anywhere these days, alas and alack. And, even if you find a chap willing to be labelled as such, he’s not always reliably so in practice.

Stephen Harper, the leader of the new Conservative party of Canada, is a pleasant fellow, but nobody who used approvingly the phrase ‘a woman’s right to choose’, as he did in an election debate earlier this year, could get the Republican nomination south of the border: I understand the soft-pedalling on abortion, but I do object to him adopting the horrible slippery euphemism of the Left.
Likewise, John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, is America’s doughtiest ally in the war on terror, but I wouldn’t want to live under his government’s gun-control laws. As for Jacques Chirac, the fact that he’s what passes for a conservative in France is all most of us crazy right-wingers need to know about his country.
But in America large swaths of the nation are still robustly conservative. Not all of them, of course, and, because Fleet Street correspondents are disproportionately concentrated in New York, Washington and Los Angeles, it’s easy for them to get the impression that there’s not all that many conservatives — just a few isolated communities in the Bible Belt and a couple of survivalist militias up in the Rockies.
This leads to the careless assumptions of so many in the European media about John Kerry’s election prospects and the inevitable tears on the morning of 3 November. But the way Kerry’s campaigning on cultural issues gives you the real clue to the dominant forces in American life: he talks up his Catholicism; on abortion, he says he ‘personally believes’ life begins at conception, it’s just that as a Democrat he can’t find it in him to legislate according to his principles; everywhere he goes he gets photographed brandishing guns, even guns that he, as an effete Massachusetts panty-waist, has voted to ban; he boasts to hunting magazines about his favourite assault rifle — at least until the legality of his ownership of such a weapon is called into question. This is how a big-government, anti-globalisation, socialised-healthcare, Francophiliac Democrat has to campaign in America: pro-guns, pro-God, deeply evasive on abortion. In almost any other Western nation, none of these things would matter.
Before September 11, most observers assumed that the Left’s coalition was the coherent one and it was the Right’s that was unwieldy — what did the Wall Street crowd have in common with the gun nuts, or the national-security types with the religious Right? But 9/11 exposed the internal contradictions of modish multiculturalism: true, many gays and feminists are so invested in their loathing of George W. Bush that on Afghanistan and Iraq they’re happy to make common cause with Islam’s women-oppressing, sodomite-beheading theocrats. But eventually the penny will drop, as it did for Pim Fortuyn in Holland.
The American Right, on the other hand, is supposed to be split from top to toe between ‘neocons’ and ‘paleocons’, the latter being the isolationist Right and the former being sinister Jewish intellectuals who’ve turned the Bush administration into an arm of Israeli foreign policy. One problem for those who see conservatism in terms of this epic struggle is that one side doesn’t exist. The ‘paleocons’ boil down to a handful of anti-war conservatives, the most prominent being Pat Buchanan, who in the 2000 presidential election got 0.42 per cent of the vote. He’s no BNP, never mind Ukip.
The real divide is between the neocons (for want of a better term) and the ‘assertive nationalists’ — that’s to say, those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes and rebuild them as democratic societies, and those who think we ought to bomb rogue states, smash their regimes, and then leave them to stew in their own juices, with a reminder that if the next thug is foolish enough to catch Washington’s eye, then (as Arnie says) ‘Ah’ll be back!’
This difference can seem like a big deal — those who think we need to win their hearts and minds vs those who think they’re mostly heartless and mindless, so who cares? But in truth it’s only a difference of degree. To British conservatives, for whom there are no constituencies equivalent to the evangelical Christians and the Second Amendment types, the American Right can look a little freaky.
But one of the consequences of September 11 is that it revealed the conservative coalition to be much more cohesive than superficial appearances might suggest. For starters, take small government. Every true conservative ought to be sceptical about government, because there’s hardly anything the government does that wouldn’t be better done by somebody else. Imagine if the GPO still ran Britain’s telephone network. Imagine the kind of Internet service you’d have. Because of a compromise deal to avoid redundancies with the Amalgamated Union of Fax Machine Installers, you’d be paying different rates according to which domain you sent an email to: .uk? That’d be 30p. .fr? That’d be one pound. .nz? That’d be 15 quid. And it would take a week. And you’d have to apply a month in advance for an online session. And take a postal order round to the nearest application-processing office.
Conservatives embrace big government at their peril. The silliest thing Dick Cheney has ever said was a couple of weeks after 9/11: ‘One of the things that’s changed so much since September 11 is the extent to which people do trust the government — big shift — and value it, and have high expectations for what we can do.’ Really? I’d say 9/11 vindicated perfectly a decentralised, federalist, conservative view of the state: what worked that day was municipal government, small government, core government — the firemen, the NYPD cops, rescue workers. What flopped — big-time, as the Vice-President would say — was federal government, the FBI, CIA, INS, FAA and all the other hotshot, money-no-object, fancypants acronyms.

Under the system operating on that day, if one of the many Algerian terrorists living on welfare in Montreal attempted to cross the US border at Derby Line, Vermont, and got refused entry by an alert official, he would be able to drive a few miles east, attempt to cross at Beecher Falls, Vermont, and they had no way of knowing that he’d been refused entry just half an hour earlier. No compatible computers. On the other hand, if that same Algerian terrorist went to order a book online, would know that he’d bought The Dummy’s Guide to Martyrdom Operations two years ago and their ‘We have some suggestions for you!’ box would be proffering a 30 per cent discount on The A-Z of Infidel Slaying and 72 Hot Love Tips That Will Have Your Virgins Panting For More. Amazon is a more efficient miner of information than US Immigration. Is it to do with their respective budgets? No. Amazon’s system is very cheap, but it’s in the nature of government to do things worse, and slower.
To take another example from September 11, on three planes the crew and passengers followed Federal Aviation Administration procedures largely unchanged from the Seventies and they all died, along with thousands of other people; on the fourth plane, Flight 93, they used their cellphones, discovered that FAA regulations weren’t going to save them, and then acted as free-born citizens, rising up against the terrorists and, at the cost of their own lives, preventing that flight carrying on to its target in Washington. On a morning when big government failed, the only good news came from private citizens. The Cult of Regulation failed, but the great American virtues of self-reliance and innovation saved the lives of thousands: ‘Let’s roll!’ as Todd Beamer told his fellow passengers. Within 90 minutes of the first flight hitting the tower, the heroes of Flight 93 had figured out what was going on and came up with a way to stop it.
By contrast, on 11 March 2002, six months to the day after Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi died flying their respective planes into the twin towers, their flight school in Florida received a letter from the Immigration and Naturalisation Service informing it that Mr Atta’s and Mr al-Shehhi’s student visas had been approved. Even killing thousands of people wasn’t enough to impede Mr Atta’s smooth progress through a lethargic bureaucracy. And the bureaucrats’ defence — which boiled down to: don’t worry, we’re only issuing visas to famous dead terrorists, not obscure living ones — is one that Americans largely have to take on trust. So one of the lessons of 9/11 is that in the end citizen initiative is more reliable than nanny-state regulation.
That’s one reason no Democrat in a competitive district wants to run on an anti-gun platform. In the weeks after 9/11, gun sales in some states were up over 20 per cent, especially sales to women. ‘Let’s roll!’ beats gun control any day. The supposedly opposite ends on the conservative continuum — the foreign-policy think-tanks fussing over geopolitical trends in post-Soviet Central Asia and the stump- toothed guys in plaid with full gun-racks in their pick-ups — turn out to have an identical world view: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Three years ago, I got a flurry of emails from Yorkshire, Oslo, Marseilles and elsewhere recounting incidents of gangs of Muslim youths enthusiastically celebrating the glorious victory of 9/11 by swarming around cars, banging on the windows, intimidating the drivers, yelling Osama’s name. If you tried that in Texas, the guy would reach in his glove box and blow your head off.
Second Amendment conservatism is more secure and better integrated with the bespoke mainstream than it’s been in years. The government can’t tell you you’ve got to be on full alert and at the same time announce new restrictions on the right to defend yourself and your home. Social conservatism is also more secure. Fainthearted Canadian Tories may have signed on to ‘a woman’s right to choose’, but the refusal of American conservatives to accept, as the rest of the West has, that the abortion issue is settled looks sounder every day. Whether or not individual women should have the right to choose, the state has no interest in encouraging them to do so. What Western societies need is more babies. Without them, the Dar al-Islam will win by default, slowly annexing shrivelled, barren, secular Europe.
Unlovely though they may be to worldly British Tories, America’s religious Right has in fact a more rational view of the world than European hyper-rationalists. At dinner parties in London in recent years, I’ve noticed a question recurring from time to time about whether Britons see themselves as ‘citizens’ or ‘subjects’. It’s a loaded question usually thrown out by some Guardian-reading republican who thinks the country would benefit from a president of the Mary Robinson school.
But I must say I never feel more like a ‘subject’ than when I go to some grimly egalitarian government agency. Some years ago, I was obliged to visit an SAAQ office (Société de l’Assurance Automobile du Quebec) in Montreal — that’s where you go to register a car or apply for a test or renew a driver’s licence. When you go in you have to stand in a long line to get a number telling you which of the other long lines to go and stand in — B173 or E289 or whatever. I knew they didn’t take payment by credit card, but they had said they took debit cards, so I had mine with me. When I got to the front, the clerk said the only card machine had broken so I’d have to go off and get the cash and then stand in the first line all over again to get the number for the second line — B497 or E923. My objection in those days was mainly on grounds of inconvenience and aesthetics. But since 9/11 I’ve come to believe that what’s worst about it is the way it enfeebles those who submit to it.
At a certain stage — socialised healthcare certainly comes into it — states reach a tipping point where the citizens are getting so much from the state that you can no longer have truly conservative government ever again. Or, more accurately, they think they’re getting a lot. For what Britons and Canadians pay in taxes for their miserable government health service, they ought to be entitled to three terminal diseases a year. If I wasn’t a conservative before 9/11, I’d certainly be one now. On one side I see decayed, self-absorbed passivity: citizens reduced to junkies with government as the pusher. On the other stand the gun-crazies, the religious Right, the home-schoolers, the flat-taxers and all the rest: you don’t have to agree with them on everything to appreciate that, in a new war which not all of the West will survive, they have an advantage over the Swedes and Belgians. A self-reliant conservative citizenry is a better bet than the subjects of an overbearing state.

2004 the

Friday, October 01, 2004

John Podhoretz: Judging the Debate

The New York Post

October 1, 2004 -- IT'S a mark of how high- toned last night's debate was that the only real howler came when John Kerry called the Moscow headquarters of the KGB "Treblinka," which was a Nazi concentration camp, rather than by its actual name, "Lubyanka."

Yes, it was exactly the sort of debate that warms the cockles of every pompous commentator's heart — you know, the sort of person who complains that politics has gotten just so terribly dirty.
The debate was high-minded.

The candidates discussed their differences.

They didn't take cheap shots at each other. Bush said, over and over again, that you need to be consistent and resolute as president. Kerry said, over and over again, that the Iraq war was a mistake but that since the mistake had been made, he had a plan to win it.

They tussled on the question of whether bilateral or multilateral talks are best for dealing with North Korea. They agreed on the role of the African Union in dealing with the problem in Darfur.
The president admired John Kerry's daughters. John Kerry admired the president's wife.

God, was it boring.


Many people will say — have already said, in fact, because the bloggers never sleep — that because John Kerry stayed in the ring with the president for 90 minutes and didn't get knocked out, he won the night. They say Kerry came off as the president's equal, and that can only help him.

Well, it didn't hurt, but I don't know that it helped very much. That's not because Kerry didn't acquit himself well. He did — though I think he handed Bush an issue when he complained that American research into a nuclear bunker-buster bomb was bad because we are trying to prevent nuclear proliferation.

Message to John Kerry: The United States is not a nuclear proliferator. We are researching that weapon because it might help us take out nuclear sites like the ones you say you're so worried about in Iran and North Korea — or at least scare the pants off people who start playing the proliferation game.

But that's a matter for the blogs and the chat shows to take up over the coming days.
What was important last night was the high tedium factor. It hurts Kerry. Boredom isn't going to do anything to change the dynamics of the race in Kerry's favor. As for the president, because he's leading and because he has the enthusiastic support of his Republican base, Bush needs only to reassure people between now and Nov. 2.

So tedium actually works for him in this context.

Bush wanted to make clear that he intends to win the war in Iraq and that people think of him as a strong leader. He did so by contrasting his own consistency with John Kerry's vacillations — and he did it over and over again, until even his eyes seemed to glaze over from the repetitiveness.

There were no memorable lines. There were no gasp-inducing moments. But there was one grace note between the two men. It came around the 75th minute, so it's possible that half the audience had already found something else to do. Jim Lehrer, who did a magnificent job as moderator, asked the president whether he thought there were character issues that should prevent John Kerry from serving as president.

"Hoo," Bush said. "That's a loaded question." And then he proceeded to praise Kerry's service to the country both in Vietnam and in the Senate (before adding that "I'm not so sure that I admire the record" Kerry compiled as a senator).

That humanizing moment then got a little cloying when Bush started talking about the Kerry and Bush daughters, but it was the kind of thing that can deepen precisely the sense that the president knows and cares about ordinary people.

One more thing. John Kerry said, "They had to close down the subway in New York when the Republican Convention was there."

Um, no. They didn't.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Robert Spencer Reviews Horowitz's "Unholy Alliance"

National Security & Defense
Exposing Leftists' Radical Islam Connection

by Robert Spencer
Posted Sep 29, 2004

I have long insisted that the problem of radical Islam is not a liberal or conservative issue; it's a human rights issue. The unfortunate fact, however, is that largely it is only conservatives who care about it. In the face of the global jihad, the left is strangely silent: no protest marches, no angry full-page ads in the New York Times. When the Left does notice an adulterous woman being stoned to death under Sharia law, or some other outrage in the Islamic world, it is usually dismissed as an aberration or somehow blamed on their all-purpose bogeyman: the United States government. Why? Because to the left any conflict in the world must be the result of Western aggression, either historic (the Crusades, colonialism) or current. And as David Horowitz illustrates in harrowing detail in his new book Unholy Alliance, the American left not only shares the radical jihadist view of America as the source of all evil in the world, but is now actively making common cause with America's enemies."The demise of the Cold War involving the USA and the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 1990s left military strategists in the West searching for a new enemy"--and they fastened on radical Islam. This was the assessment of Pakistani journalist Abdus Sattar Ghazali. But it isn't original to him. Horowitz shows that it has become a commonplace among Westerners as well. He quotes Columbia professor Eric Foner in the wake of 9/11: "I'm not sure which is more frightening: the horror that engulfed New York City or the apocalyptic rhetoric emanating daily from the White House."
The left, Horowitz recounts, quickly turned its attention entirely away from the murder and mayhem of 9/11 to half-baked "analyses" of the "real causes" of the atrocities of that day. This search for root causes, he says, "was a code for the utopian agendas of the left. It was a declaration of war against the War on Terror"--a war that is being waged with particular ferocity in the 2004 presidential campaign.This anti-anti-terrorism is motivated by an anti-Americanism that was born, as Horowitz details, in Communism and the Vietnam-era antiwar movement.

Although the revolutionary fact (the Soviet bloc) has been consigned to the dustbin of history, the revolutionary illusion persists, and continues to identify America as the chief obstacle to its utopia. Horowitz quotes another Columbia professor, Nicholas De Genova: "Peace is not patriotic [but] subversive. . . . Peace anticipates a very different world than the one in which we live -- a world where the U.S. would have no place." De Genova, of course, won nationwide notoriety when he declared just before the beginning of the Iraq war: "The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. . . . I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus." Horowitz explains that "as long as America continues to maintain the will and ability to protect what radicals regard as the global order of 'social injustice,' all reforms and social advances within the existing structure of American democracy will be illusory."
In other words, it won't be enough for the left to elect John Kerry: America itself must be brought down. What's more, this creates a peculiar harmonic convergence between the left and radical Islam. "The goals of radical jihad," says Horowitz, "are purification and social justice, both of which are to be achieved through the institution of Islamic law in the states conquered by Islamic arms." Hence we see the phenomenon, which Horowitz traces in detail, of leftists like lawyer Lynne Stewart, who has been indicted for aiding and abetting the terrorist activities of her client, Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman is currently doing time for his role in the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. For this Stewart has been stoutly defended by the ACLU, the American Bar Association, and other stalwarts of the left. "In their defense of America's terrorist enemies," Horowitz notes, "the organizations of the legal left are reminiscent of Communist Party fronts of the Cold War era."Ghazali was right about one thing: Communism and radical Islam are indeed quite similar in many ways. And as Horowitz outlines in this book, the American Left is once again showing what side it's on.

Mr. Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of Onward Muslim Soldiers: How Jihad Still Threatens America and the West (Regnery Publishing -- a HUMAN EVENTS sister company) and Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World's Fastest Growing Faith (Encounter Books).

Stephen F. Hayes: Inconvenient Facts

John Kerry has now decided that he must deny any links between Saddam's Iraq and terrorism. There are some facts which he should be confronted with at tomorrow's debate. 09/29/2004 7:39:00 AM

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION argues that the Iraq war was the central front in the war on terror. Not long ago, John Kerry agreed. He called Saddam Hussein a terrorist. He worried about Iraq passing weapons to terrorists. His running mate prominently cited Iraq's terrorist connections as a chief reason for the war. As recently as early September, Kerry praised soldiers in Iraq as freedom fighters in the war on terror.

All of this has changed. The Iraq war, Kerry says now with borrowed conviction, was a distraction.
"The invasion of Iraq was a profound diversion from the battle against our greatest enemy: al Qaeda," Kerry claimed, adding, "Iraq is now what it was not before the war--a haven for terrorists."

In an interview with Time magazine, Kerry claimed that the 9/11 Commission found not only that Iraq was not behind the September 11 attacks, but that Iraq had "nothing to do with al Qaeda."

In the past two weeks, his surrogates have gone even further. To wit: "There was no terrorism in Iraq before we went to war," said Stephanie Cutter, chief spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign, on September 9. "Iraq and terrorism had nothing to do with one another. Zero," said Teresa Heinz Kerry in a September 22 speech in Arizona. "Saddam Hussein and Iraq never were a threat to our national security or to the United States," claimed Ted Kennedy in an appearance on Hardball on Monday.

Why is Team Kerry so eager to separate the Iraq war from the broader war on terror? If voters believe that Iraq is an important part of the war on terror, they are more likely to be patient with difficulties there. On the flip side, if Kerry were able to convince voters that the Iraq war was a distraction from the war on terror, he would erode confidence not only in Bush's handling of Iraq but also of the broader war on terror. According to numbers released in yesterday's USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll Kerry needs to do just that. Self-identified likely voters were asked about whether they approve of Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq and the war on terror.

Forty-eight of those surveyed approved of Bush's handling of the "situation in Iraq" and 49 percent disapproved. But the numbers spike when likely voters were asked about Bush's handling of the war on terror; 62 percent approve and only 36 percent disapprove.

So it's not difficult to understand why Kerry's campaign wants to separate Iraq and the war on terror. But to claim that Saddam had "nothing to do with al Qaeda?" That there was no terrorism in Iraq before the war? That Iraq has never been a threat to the United States? These are preposterous statements. They're not debatable, or a matter of interpretation. They are demonstrably false.

Here are some relevant facts about Iraqi support for terrorism:

* On March 28, 1992, the Iraqi Intelligence Service compiled a 20-page list of terrorists the regime considered intelligence assets. Atop each page was the designation "Top Secret." On page 14 of that list is Osama bin Laden. The Iraqi Intelligence document reports that bin Laden "is in good relationship with our section in Syria." The document has been vetted and authenticated by the Defense Intelligence Agency. The existence of the document was first reported on CBS's 60 Minutes. It has been widely ignored.

* Saddam Hussein hosted regular conferences for terrorists in Baghdad throughout the 1990s. Mark Fineman, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, reported on one such gathering in an article published January 26, 1993. "There are delegates from the most committed Islamic organizations on Earth," he wrote. "Afghan mujahideen (holy warriors), Palestinian militants, Sudanese fundamentalists, the Islamic Brotherhood and Pakistan's Party of Islam." One speaker praised "the mujahid Saddam Hussein, who is leading this nation against the nonbelievers. Everyone has a task to do, which is to go against the American state."

* Abdul Rahman Yasin is an Iraqi who mixed the chemicals for the bomb used in the first World Trade Center attack on February 26, 1993. We know this because he has confessed--twice to the FBI and once on national television in the United States. He fled to Iraq on March 5,1993, with the help of an Iraqi Intelligence operative working under cover in the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, Jordan. A reporter for Newsweek interviewed Yasin's neighbors in Baghdad who reported that he was living freely and "working for the government." U.S. soldiers uncovered Iraqi government documents in postwar Iraq that confirm this. The documents show Yasin was given both safe haven and financing by the Iraqi regime until the eve of the war in Iraq.

* Later that same month--March 1993--Wali al Ghazali was approached by an Iraqi Intelligence officer named Abdel Hussein. Ghazali, a male nurse from Najaf, met another IIS agent named Abu Mrouwah who gave him an urgent mission: assassinate former President George H.W. Bush on his upcoming trip to Kuwait. On April 14, Kuwaiti police found Ghazali and other Iraqi Intelligence assets with two hundred pounds of explosives in a Toyota Landcruiser. Ghazali, the would-be assassin, told a Kuwait court that he had "been pushed by people who had no mercy." He said: "I fear the Iraqi regime, the Iraqi regime pushed me."

* According to numerous press reports, the deputy director of Iraqi Intelligence, Faruq Hijazi, met face-to-face with Osama bin Laden in 1994. Bin Laden asked for anti-ship mines and al Qaeda training camps in Iraq. There is no indication that Iraq made good on his requests.

* That same year, according to internal Iraqi Intelligence documents authenticated by the U.S. intelligence community and reported in the June 25, 2004, New York Times, a Sudanese government official met with Uday Hussein and the director of Iraqi Intelligence to facilitate the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

* According to the New York Times, the same Iraqi Intelligence document said that bin Laden earlier "had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative" and that "presidential approval" had been granted to the Iraqi Intelligence service to meet with him. Bin Laden "also requested join operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. At bin Laden's request, Saddam Hussein also agreed to broadcast on Iraqi television sermons of an anti-Saudi cleric.

* The Clinton administration cited an "understanding" between Iraq and al Qaeda in its 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden. "Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq."

* The 9/11 Commission reports that Iraq and al Qaeda had a series of "friendly contacts" that did not appear to have developed into a "collaborative operations relationship." The final report provides details of meetings between senior Iraqi Intelligence officials and al Qaeda terrorists throughout the spring and summer of 1998 and indicates that "Iraqi official offered bin Laden a safe haven in Iraq."

* The offer of asylum was also included in the Senate Intelligence Committee's unanimous, bipartisan review of prewar intelligence. From p. 335 of the Senate report: "A [CIA Counterterrorism Center] operational summary from April 13, 1999, notes four other intelligence reports mentioning Saddam Hussein's "standing offer of safe haven to Osama bin Laden."

* This, from p. 316 of the Senate Intelligence Committee report: "From 1996 to 2003, the [Iraqi Intelligence Service] focused its terrorist activities on western interests, particularly against the U.S. and Israel. The CIA summarized nearly 50 intelligence reports as examples, using language directly from the intelligence reports. Ten intelligence reports, from multiple sources, indicated IIS 'casing' operations against Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in Prague began in 1998 and continued into early 2003. The CIA assessed, based on the Prague casings and a variety of other reporting, that throughout 2002 the IIS was becoming increasingly aggressive in planning attacks against U.S. interests."

* Page 331 of the Senate report: "Twelve reports received [redacted] from sources that the CIA described as having varying reliability, cited Iraq or Iraqi national involvement in al Qaeda's CBW [chemical and biological weapons] efforts."

* Abu Musab al Zarqawi traveled to Iraq in May 2002. He lived in Baghdad with the knowledge--and perhaps sponsorship--of the Iraqi regime. A passage from p. 337 of the Senate Intelligence Committee report cites a CIA report called Iraqi Support for Terrorism: "A variety of reporting indicates that senior al Qaeda terrorist planner al Zarqawi was in Baghdad [redacted]. A foreign government service asserted that the IIS knew where al Zarqawi was located despite Baghdad's claims it could not find him." More, from p. 338: "Al Zarqawi and his network were operating both in Baghdad and in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq. The HUMINT reporting indicated that the Iraqi regime certainly knew that al Zarqawi was in Baghdad because a foreign government service gave that information to Iraq."

* More recently, Hudayfa Azzam, the son of bin Laden's longtime mentor Abdullah Azzam, told Agence France Presse that the Iraqi regime worked closely with al Qaeda in Iraq before the war. "Saddam Hussein's regime welcomed them with open arms and young al Qaeda members entered Iraq in large numbers, setting up an organization to confront the occupation," he said in an interview published August 29, 2004. Azzam added that al Qaeda fighters "infiltrated into Iraq with the help of Kurdish mujahideen from Afghanistan, across mountains in Iran" and that once they arrived, Saddam "strictly and directly" controlled their activities.

Does John Kerry truly believe that "Iraq and terrorism had nothing to do with one another?" Good question.
Does Jim Lehrer read THE DAILY STANDARD?

Stephen F. Hayes is a staff writer at The Weekly Standard and author of The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America.
© Copyright 2004, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Mark Steyn: Polygamy, Coming Soon

The better advocates of gay marriage are an ingenious crowd, full of artful arguments to support their claim. Initially, most of us on the other side found it hard to believe a countervailing argument was necessary, and by the time it became clear that neither “Oh, come off it, you can’t be serious” nor “Well, I dunno, it just don’t sound right” were going to suffice, the gays were already on their way to victory in the only arenas that matter – the media and the courts.

But the activists’ intellectual rigor only goes so far. If you suggest, as some defendants of “traditional marriage” do, that gay marriage is the slippery slope to polygamy and bestiality, the activists roll their eyes and go into “Oh, come off it, you can’t be serious” mode. Like the chichi gay couple from New York who’ve built their dream home in rural Vermont, they don’t want any other incomers muscling in. Gay marriage, they assure us, is the merest amendment to traditional marriage, and once we’ve done that we’ll pull up the drawbridge.

Sorry, but it’s not going to work like that. If you can get ‘em past the don’t-be-so-ridiculous stage, the gays point out that there are no constituencies clamoring for polygamy and bestiality. That’s true in the latter case. There aren’t many “zoo couples” (as they’re known) demanding their rights. Offhand, I can think only of Phillip Buble of Maine, who petitioned the Piscataquis County Superior Court a couple of years back to allow his spouse to attend a hearing with him. (“I’ve been informed your personal permission is needed given that my wife is not human, being a dog of about 36lbs weight and very well behaved.” The letter ended with his signature and a paw-print, and underneath them the words “Phillip and Lady Buble”.)

But there’s a very obvious constituency for polygamy and it says something about the monumental self-absorption of the gay marriage crowd that they seem unaware of it. Indeed, it’s already here. Earlier this summer, Le Monde leaked a government report revealing that polygamy was routinely practiced in Muslim ghettoes in France. Anecdotal evidence suggests things aren’t so very different in the Islamic communities of Ontario: as The Christian Science Monitor airily put it, polygamous unions “are being performed by the same religious figures adjudicating matters under sharia” – ie, under the province’s Muslim-friendly Arbitration Act.

Another clue to what’s going on comes in the invaluable British publication Pensions News, which had an interesting item about a hitherto arcane point of law. Contracting marriage with more than one spouse simultaneously is a crime in the United Kingdom. However, if a polygamous marriage is entered into abroad in a jurisdiction permitting polygamy, that marriage is regarded as valid under English law. Hence, the interest of Pensions News. Previously, spousal inheritance was a relatively simple matter: you kick the bucket and your wife gets a big payout. Now it’s relatively less simple, relative-wise: trustees of pensions funds were concerned that, under new anti-discrimination regulations which came into effect in Britain last year, they’d be obligated to payout to more than one widow, thus doubling, trebling or quadrupling their liability. For the moment, they’ve been reassured that they’re unlikely to have to pay full widow’s benefits automatically to every relict of a polygamous marriage, but that what benefits are paid out have to be shared between all the widows.

But you see how easy it is to start talking about polygamy in a nuts-and-bolts, incremental, utilitarian, legal-harmonisation partners’-benefits insurance-agent kind of a way. It’s not a hypothetical issue: apparently many British subjects marry one spouse in Leicester or Bradford and then, while on a trip back to their homeland, marry another. Given immigration patterns in Canada and given the number of legal residents with dual citizenship, I wouldn’t expect things to be so very different over here. And, if so, it’s inevitable that at some point, in Vancouver or Toronto or Halifax, a local version of Puspo Wardoyo will turn up.

Mr Wardoyo owns 34 grilled chicken restaurants throughout Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country but one in which polygamy was suppressed under the Suharto dictatorship. Now Mr Wardoyo has taken it up eagerly: he has four wives, is having a swell time of it, and wants to spread the word. On the menu at his eateries, he offers a “polygamy stir-fry” washed down with a “polygamy juice”, a mélange of four crushed fruits. In Canada, the fruits will be crushed to hear it, but once you’ve accepted the argument that the gender of the participants is no longer relevant to the definition of marriage, it’s hard to see why the number of participants should be.

One day, a Canadian Wardoyo will emerge, and the game will be on. How do you think our courts and media will react? If the push for polygamy came from the white male elders of that breakaway Mormon sect in Bountiful, BC, it’d be dead in the water: all you’d get from the Globe and the CBC and Maclean’s would be a lot of stories about the abuse rumours, and shots of stern Old Testament patriarchs, and comments from various Grits and NDPers about how this is not compatible with “our Canadian values”. If you’re one of Bountiful’s nubile nymphettes and you make it across the town line, you can write your own ticket on The National; they’ll put you down for one of those major multi-part documentaries that takes up 52 minutes of the show for an entire week.

But, if it’s not horny stump-toothed white guys from the backwoods, what’s the betting then? Once it gets all multicultural, the media back away from the in-depth investigations, happy to take the spokespersons for the relevant lobby groups at their word. If it’s a Muslim who finally makes it to the Supreme Court of Canada with a polygamy case, I’d reckon their lordships will rule that forbidding it is an unwarranted restriction of Charter rights. And I’d wager a few of those justices will be happy to license polygamy if only to prove that their demolition job on “traditional marriage” was legally grounded rather than mere modish solidarity.

Think that sounds ridiculous? Well, look at what happened in Dublin a couple of months ago: The Irish Government decided to make Muslim men who apply for citizenship sign an affidavit that, if they’re single, they’ll take no more than one wife and, if they’re already married, that they’ll take no additional wives. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties immediately denounced the move as offensive, racist and discriminatory.

Imagine the same thing here. You can’t. No Canadian Government would propose making certain groups of immigrants sign affidavits on any wedding plans they might have. When it comes to fainthearted officialdom, Canadian polygamists are more fortunate than Irish ones. And, as the ICCL’s reaction suggests, one of the lessons of the world since September 11th is that on the left counter-tribalism trumps all: if it’s a choice between a traditionally restrictive view of marriage or polygamy, the lefties will go with the imams. The same progressive groups who objected to the Iraq war on the grounds that Saddam was a secular leader who’d never make common cause with Islamic fundamentalists didn’t seem to notice that, for the purposes of opposing Bush and Blair, they themselves, as impeccably pro-gay pro-feminist western bien pensants, had had no trouble making common cause with the women-enslaving sodomite-beheading Islamists. It hardly seemed fair to require greater intellectual coherence from Saddam than from themselves, and indeed the bizarre western-left/Islamist-theocrat alliance of convenience looks like becoming a permanent feature of the post-9/11 world.

In France, where the courts uphold the central government’s enforcement of French identity, polygamy will remain in the shadows. But in Canada for years now the philosophers of the Liberal state have acknowledged – and, indeed, even boasted – that immigration changes our country. In the cheap-anti-monarchism of a John Manley or Brian Tobin, the well-worn line is that an immigrant from Latvia or China can’t be expected to relate to the House of Windsor. In other words, we have accepted the principle that immigration involves not the immigrant assimilating to his new land but his new land assimilating to him. That being so, what share of the population has to be Muslim for the prohibition on more-than-two-person marriage to be, in Manley-Tobin logic, indefensible? We’re closer than you think.The Western Standard, September 13th 2004

~ Mark's column can be read every fortnight in The Western Standard. In the current issue, don't miss Steyn on not mentioning Canada, only in the print edition of The Western Standard, on newsstands now - or click here to subscribe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Christopher Hitchens: Flirting With Disaster

The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted Monday, Sept. 27, 2004, at 11:35 AM PT

There it was at the tail end of Brian Faler's "Politics" roundup column in last Saturday's Washington Post. It was headed, simply, "Quotable":

"I wouldn't be surprised if he appeared in the next month." Teresa Heinz Kerry to the Phoenix Business Journal, referring to a possible capture of Osama bin Laden before Election Day.
As well as being "quotable" (and I wish it had been more widely reported, and I hope that someone will ask the Kerry campaign or the nominee himself to disown it), this is also many other words ending in "-able." Deplorable, detestable, unforgivable. …

The plain implication is that the Bush administration is stashing Bin Laden somewhere, or somehow keeping his arrest in reserve, for an "October surprise." This innuendo would appear, on the face of it, to go a little further than "impugning the patriotism" of the president. It argues, after all, for something like collusion on his part with a man who has murdered thousands of Americans as well as hundreds of Muslim civilians in other countries.

I am not one of those who likes to tease Mrs. Kerry for her "loose cannon" style. This is only the second time I have ever mentioned her in print. But I happen to know that this is not an instance of loose lips. She has heard that very remark being made by senior Democrats, and—which is worse—she has not heard anyone in her circle respond to it by saying, "Don't be so bloody stupid." I first heard this "October surprise" theory mentioned seriously, by a prominent foreign-policy Democrat, at an open dinner table in Washington about six months ago. Since then, I've heard it said seriously or semiseriously, by responsible and liberal people who ought to know better, all over the place. It got even worse when the Democratic establishment decided on an arm's-length or closer relationship with Michael Moore and his supposedly vote-getting piece of mendacity and paranoia, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The DNC's boss, Terence McAuliffe, asked outside the Uptown cinema on Connecticut Avenue whether he honestly believed that the administration had invaded Afghanistan for the sake of an oil or perhaps gas pipeline, breezily responded, "I do now.")

What will it take to convince these people that this is not a year, or a time, to be dicking around? Americans are patrolling a front line in Afghanistan, where it would be impossible with 10 times the troop strength to protect all potential voters on Oct. 9 from Taliban/al-Qaida murder and sabotage. We are invited to believe that these hard-pressed soldiers of ours take time off to keep Osama Bin Laden in a secret cave, ready to uncork him when they get a call from Karl Rove? For shame.

Ever since The New Yorker published a near-obituary piece for the Kerry campaign, in the form of an autopsy for the Robert Shrum style, there has been a salad of articles prematurely analyzing "what went wrong." This must be nasty for Democratic activists to read, and I say "nasty" because I hear the way they respond to it. A few pin a vague hope on the so-called "debates"—which are actually joint press conferences allowing no direct exchange between the candidates—but most are much more cynical. Some really bad news from Iraq, or perhaps Afghanistan, and/or a sudden collapse or crisis in the stock market, and Kerry might yet "turn things around." You have heard it, all right, and perhaps even said it. But you may not have appreciated how depraved are its implications. If you calculate that only a disaster of some kind can save your candidate, then you are in danger of harboring a subliminal need for bad news.

And it will show. What else explains the amazingly crude and philistine remarks of that campaign genius Joe Lockhart, commenting on the visit of the new Iraqi prime minister and calling him a "puppet"? Here is the only regional leader who is even trying to hold an election, and he is greeted with an ungenerous sneer.

The unfortunately necessary corollary of this—that bad news for the American cause in wartime would be good for Kerry—is that good news would be bad for him. Thus, in Mrs. Kerry's brainless and witless offhand yet pregnant remark, we hear the sick thud of the other shoe dropping. How can the Democrats possibly have gotten themselves into a position where they even suspect that a victory for the Zarqawi or Bin Laden forces would in some way be welcome to them? Or that the capture or killing of Bin Laden would not be something to celebrate with a whole heart?

I think that this detail is very important because the Kerry camp often strives to give the impression that its difference with the president is one of degree but not of kind. Of course we all welcome the end of Taliban rule and even the departure of Saddam Hussein, but we can't remain silent about the way policy has been messed up and compromised and even lied about. I know what it's like to feel that way because it is the way I actually do feel. But I also know the difference when I see it, and I have known some of the liberal world quite well and for a long time, and there are quite obviously people close to the leadership of today's Democratic Party who do not at all hope that the battle goes well in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I have written before in this space that I think Bin Laden is probably dead, and I certainly think that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a far more ruthless and dangerous jihadist, who is trying to take a much more important country into the orbit of medieval fanaticism and misery. One might argue about that: I could even maintain that it's important to oppose and defeat both gentlemen and their supporters. But unless he conclusively repudiates the obvious defeatists in his own party (and maybe even his own family), we shall be able to say that John Kerry's campaign is a distraction from the fight against al-Qaida.

Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair. His new collection of essays, Love, Poverty and War, is forthcoming in October.

More fighting words
Flirting With Disaster The vile spectacle of Democrats rooting for bad news in Iraq and Afghanistan. posted Sept. 27, 2004- Christopher Hitchens
A Thousand Killed What a little-known British poet named Bernard Spencer knew. posted Sept. 9, 2004- Christopher Hitchens
Murder by Any Other Name The rest of the world may be tiring of jihad, but The Nation isn't. posted Sept. 7, 2004- Christopher Hitchens
The Captive Mind Now What Czeslaw Milosz understood about Islam. posted Aug. 30, 2004- Christopher Hitchens
Not So Swift John Kerry's dubious Vietnam revisionism. posted Aug. 23, 2004- Christopher Hitchens
Search for more Fighting Words in our archive.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Stanley Crouch: Defying Terror is the Only Answer

The New York Daily News

Prior to taping "Topic A with Tina Brown" last week, I was shown some footage of the latest decapitation by Islamic jihadists. There was talk on the set of the high production values, with the video including singing in a Middle Eastern style that was, perhaps, close enough to Western music to remain in the mind of one listening.
It seemed, some thought, that these murderous clowns are on to something, that they have learned how to create visual "product."

Apparently, they have studied MTV and other such television phenomena to learn how to put together a moment that builds up to a murder.

By the time the man was pushed flat and had his head sawed off, though, I found myself not frightened or intimidated by this "product" but filled with a combination of revulsion, gloom and fury.

These murderers are the same kind of people we see photographed and standing proudly at lynchings, happy as the day is long because the strange fruit of a Negro is hanging from a tree. Anybody who believes differently is some species of lunatic or naif or fool.

History is always a hard taskmaster.

Human beings can quite often be no more compassionate than nature, which maintains its balance through one species eating enough of another to keep things from getting out of order.

Of course, there is little compassion in nature and even less empathy.
As far as we know, human beings are the only ones who can imagine themselves outside of their bodies and even outside of their cultures to the extent that empathizing with others is possible.

I am not at all interested in empathizing, in "understanding" how America and Israel have, through warlike blunders of one sort or another, given life to the cause championed by these murderers. No atrocities, real or asserted, validate the actions of these people or dealing with them on any terms defined by them.

Xenophobia is at the root of what we are looking at when we see these beheadings or read about them. The destruction of that xenophobia - the fear of others - is what must breed civilization in our time.

There is no point in bargaining with barbarians. They can only take you into a world of black air.

We can never give in to them or let them believe that kidnapping and videotaped murder - no matter how sophisticated the production - is going to turn any nation around.

Originally published on September 27, 2004

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Washington Times Editorial: Undermining Border Security

26 September 2004

Two stories in the news during the past week illustrate the cavalier approach this country takes toward immigration and national security in wartime. The first deals with efforts by a prominent senator to compel the Department of Homeland Security to change its policy of releasing illegal immigrants with potential terrorist ties into the United States. The second is efforts by open-borders advocates to prevent state and local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities to apprehend illegals in our midst.

Homeland Security officials told a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that more than 4,000 people from nations identified by the State Department as national security concerns or sponsors of terrorism were apprehended since 2000 and that an "unknown number" were released back into the United States. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, the chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on immigration and border security, Sen. Charles Grassley, expressed his dissatisfaction with this state of affairs. Mr. Grassley says that Homeland Security's answers to the panel's questions show the department concluded that it was impractical to detain those people. So, it decided to release them even though it lacked information on whether any of them "were terrorists or associated with terrorist links," Mr. Grassley said. The query is part of an investigation into the detention of non-Mexican illegal aliens. Mr. Grassley said the department's practice of releasing these people after their capture is "alarming." We agree.
But DHS has a different view of reality. In its responses to Mr. Grassley's questions, Homeland Security said it was "not practical" to detain all non-criminal non-Mexicans during immigration proceedings. The department also said that most such people are released, that a majority fail to appear for immigration hearings and that they "simply disappear into the United States." Mr. Grassley points to these and other known lapses in border security as a "potential public safety threat." He is absolutely correct, and Mr. Grassley is performing a public service by highlighting the problem.
Unfortunately, much of the discussion of immigration in recent days was hijacked by groups like the National Council of La Raza, the AFL-CIO and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which staged a series of demonstrations and media events on Capitol Hill and across the country to lobby for "immigrant rights." A central goal of these groups is defeating the Clear Law Enforcement for Alien Removal, or CLEAR Act, which would strengthen the authority of the nation's 600,000 state and local police officers to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration law. CLEAR is a critical law enforcement tool. It should be taken up and passed by Congress next year.