France is shrugging off what the left-wing daily Libération labelled “le frog-bashing” as a manifestation of the primitive prejudices now prevailing in a country with which it has a long tradition of rivalry. Gallic commentators see America’s anger as proof that Paris must be doing something right. “It’s a little tiresome,” one French diplomat said. “The Americans always throw tantrums like this when they don’t get their way.” But what did hit home was the dismissal by Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, of France and Germany as “old Europe”.I guess that answers my query as to whether or not the French care that they are figures of ridicule here in America. It's just reciprocal. They think we're ignorant cowboys (except for Hollywood) and we think they're effete and hypocritical cowards. I guess we're even then. Oh, except for that D-Day and liberation thing in 1944.
The conservative Le Figaro noted that France had replaced Iraq as the obsession of the “pen-wielding war-mongers” of the White House. “The toughening of Washington’s position has confirmed the expected return to page one of an odious little character with a black beret, a cigarette in his mouth and baguette under his arm: France has not finished paying for the affront which it has inflicted on the muscular diplomacy of Uncle Sam,” it said.
The more outrageous gibes are a source of French amusement. M Chirac’s aides chuckled after Rush Limbaugh, a radio host, said that no one should trust a country with a Foreign Minister named Dominique de Villepin. With his aristocratic airs, the elegant M de Villepin is viewed even in France as a little hard to take.
The media have made much of the US tabloids’ dismissal of France with the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” insult. Le Figaro nicely translated the line, which comes from The Simpsons television cartoon, as: primates capitulards et tou-jours en quête de fromages.
The media have also been struggling to decode a now famous New York Post headline denouncing France and Germany as “The Axis of Weasel”. Le Figaro translated this as l’axe des faux jetons — literally “the axis of the two-faced”.
The French are distinguishing between “good” and “bad” Americans. The latter are written off as right-wing fans of “le cowboy Bush”, such as George Will, a columnist who wrote that France was performing “a manoeuvre which it has been perfecting since 1870: retreat”. Good Americans are anti-war Democrats, Hollywood stars and the think-tank experts who give sympathetic replies in impeccable French to the anti-American rants of listeners on French radio shows.
Saturday, February 08, 2003
This pattern has become predictable, even if supporters and critics alike have been slow in recognizing it.
First, a top official (usually Bush, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or a well-placed "source") makes some crazy-sounding cowboy threat -- to use conventional nuclear weapons, to unleash a furious invasion on the first full moon after Jan. 27, and so on. British newspapers, German politicians and Northern Californians dutifully recoil in horror.
Soon, a prevailing counter- proposal emerges, often midwifed by Tony Blair, to talk Washington down from the ledge.
Reports resurface of a Cabinet divided between Colin Powell and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz, and leaks play down expectations of significant policy change. At the last possible moment, Bush's team coalesces behind a single idea, agreeing on a "compromise" which suddenly gives his critics exactly what they were demanding in the first place, often in the form of a yes-or-no vote. And the ground under everyone's feet shifts decisively yet again.
Bush has used this method to spectacular effect, over and over again, by threatening unilateral action. If there is anything that can unify Midwestern congressmen, French Gaullists and New York newspapers, it's indignation at the very notion that great decisions can be made without consulting them first.
The News & Observer became extremely popular and prosperous. Daniels used the paper to advance the Democratic Party position on the issues of the day. The Democratic Party of the late 19th century was resentful of the Republican party and especially of the newly emancipated blacks. Daniels was also a proponent of the Jim Crow laws that were rampant at that time. The editorials of the News & Observer and their sensationalizing of crimes committed by blacks reinforced white supremacist views that neither party disputed. In this environment, Josephus Daniels and the News & Observer flourished, and the paper became the first newspaper in the world to have more subscribers than the population of the city in which it was based.
....As a member of the Democratic Executive Committee, Daniels and the News & Observer promoted Woodrow Wilson for the presidency in the election of 1912. Wilson was victorious and in return for Daniels' service and support, Wilson appointed him Secretary of the Navy. Daniels served in this office from 1913 through the war years to 1921. He was the last cabinet official to vote for a declaration of war against the Central Powers in 1917. Daniels appointed the young Franklin Delano Roosevelt as his Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Daniels supported creation of shipboard vocational schools for the training of enlisted men, attacked corrupt military contractors of armor plate, and increased the number of navy chaplains. He was also responsible for eliminating beer and wine onboard naval ships. According to legend, the term "Cup of Joe" began when sailors drank coffee in deference to Josephus' proscription of alcohol.
Any gains from small classes are likely to be wiped out by the costs. Barring a massive tax increase, Florida schools eventually will have to eliminate all classes that aren't required, such as art, music, drama and computer science. To find enough teachers, schools will have to lower hiring standards.
The alternative is to adopt Clintonian definitions of what constitutes a "class" and a "student" and a "teacher." Lawmakers might find a way to recount "18" and "22" and "25" too. After all, it's Florida.
"I understand Jesse's trying to ride this story for a little P.R. power," said an unnamed black coach. "But frankly, I'm holding out for a team that had more than three wins last year. God bless you, Steve. They're all yours. I'm waiting for a call from a real football team."
"allies":Link via Newmark's Door
Nations that we either defeated or liberated six decades ago, and then paid to rebuild half a century ago, and continued to pay for their defense through the Cold War, which has been over for more than a decade, who now feel that they are thereby entitled to obstruct or dictate our foreign policy, which is driven by our own self defense, in the furtherance of the business interests of their corrupt governments and the brutal dictators that they cynically coddle.
"going it alone":
Meaning 1: Taking action in concert with numerous European and Middle-Eastern nations, and others around the globe, but without France and Germany.
Meaning 2: Using the coalition from (1) to enforce numerous UN Security Council resolutions, including one that was passed within the past three months, which was supposed to be final, without going back to the Security Council, hat in hand, to get yet another "final" resolution.
Going to war without the French is like going to Thanksgiving dinner without your mother-in-law." "Going to war without the French is like...well...World War II."Do you think the French have any awareness of the laughingstock they are in our country? Do they know all the surrender jokes there are about them? Maybe, they don't care what we ignorant cowboys think. But, you'd think that you wouldn't want your country to be seen as cheese-eating surrender monkeys (as Jonah Goldberg would say.)
The Center for Public Integrity obtained a leaked copy of the document, which contains the following provisions:
Section 207: "Members of Suspected Terrorist Groups Must Live in Transparent Housing." The intent of this provision is to increase the effectiveness of police stakeouts, which are often conducted from inconspicuous vehicles parked in front of the residence. Currently, police spend much of the time on a stakeout engaged in idle conversation, eating fattening foods and dozing off. That's because they can't see what's happening in the house. When potential terrorists live in houses made of glass, Plexiglas and Lucite, police will have something to look at, and thus remain alert on the frontlines of the war against terror. The proposed legislation includes funding for construction of vast transparent-housing projects.
Section 308: "Persons with Funny Accents and Dark Beards to Wear Only Short Hospital Gowns in Public." To reduce the chances that probable terrorists are carrying concealed weapons, the Patriot Act II requires the wearing of flimsy garments, tied at the top and open in the back. Some men may also be required to shave their backs to prevent them from hiding small weapons or vials under their back hair.
Meanwhile, Georgie Anne Geyer profiles William Lind, the author of a thesis that America's approach to war is similar to our approach in 1914, although Al Qaeda is now working on 4th generation warfare using terror instead of frontal assaults.
I think what we are seeing is political hubris, not personal hubris. If the ultimate goal of strategy is to prevent or at least minimize attacks such as those of Sept. 11 on America and Americans, going to war with virtually all nonstate military entities in the world is the worst imaginable way to go about it. Such a strategy does its best to ensure the opposite ... On the contrary, to the extent that we shoot cruise missiles at or bomb or send ground troops against 'terrorists' around the world, they will respond here in the United States."This is something well worth thinking about. However, we were victims of terrorist attacks long before Bush became president or before we marshaled forces against Iraq today. France is uncovering terror plots in their own country. So, it seems a stretch to argue that we should abstain from any military effort against Iraq in order to forestall terror attacks against Americans. Instead, our focus should be on developing new ways to protect our citizens from the threat of terror.
Why is this American administration -- along with many of the American leadership class -- so blind to the fact that sending regular armed forces into irregular warfare is a recipe for utter disaster?
Message to Christians: if you're offended, get over it. Message to Muslims: we feel your pain, and we'll make you feel better, even it requires censorship.
According to Al Sharpton, the behavior of Al Sharpton is synonymous with the cause of civil rights, and therefore any criticism of Al Sharpton is, by definition, an attack on racial justice. By running for president, Sharpton is effectively asking the Democratic Party to bless that proposition. He knows that, by treating him as a legitimate candidate, the party is ratifying his self-coronation as the leader of black America. And, if the Democratic Party and the media accept him as the leader of black America, the post-Martin Luther King Jr., post-Jesse Jackson civil rights movement will become, in effect, whatever Sharpton says it is.It's a must read and something to ponder about the state of race and politics in our country today that such a man is the self-designated spokesman for all blacks.
So far, the five legitimate Democratic candidates are helping Sharpton achieve his goal. Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Joseph Lieberman, for instance, have begun publicly joking about which of them the reverend might pick as his running mate. All involved see this affectionate banter as win-win. Sharpton wants legitimacy; the other candidates grant him legitimacy so he can't accuse them of racism. Were any one Democratic contender to slight Sharpton, he would instantly become the target of the reverend's ire, and the political mud-wrestling match that would ensue would lower his stature while his opponents looked on opportunistically.
The problem is that this strategy of appeasement--while wise for any given presidential candidate--is devastating for the party as a whole. First of all, it means that, by the end of the primaries, the most important black leader in the Democratic Party will be a man with a history of screwing the Democratic Party. Jesse Jackson may have caused Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis headaches, but he didn't purposefully sabotage their campaigns. Sharpton, by contrast, endorsed Republican Al D'Amato in 1986 and all but endorsed George Pataki in 1994. Anyone who rules out the possibility that in August 2004 an aggrandized Sharpton will, after a private conversation with Karl Rove, issue a pained statement declaring that the Democratic nominee has betrayed the party's base and doesn't deserve the reverend's endorsement should have a conversation with Robert Abrams, Mario Cuomo, or Mark Green.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Which made me think that maybe we are being ethnocentric. As good, naive Americans, we think that if only we can show the world the seriousness of the threat Saddam poses, then they will embrace our response. In our good, innocent way, we assume that in persuading our allies we are confronted with a problem of understanding.
But suppose we are confronted with a problem of courage? Perhaps the French and the Germans are simply not brave enough to confront Saddam. In that case every time we show them what a serious threat Saddam poses, they will become less likely to join the American led coalition because they won't want to run the serious risks the operation will entail.
And it isn't that liberals are all pacifists. Recall that many liberals were beating the drums for war in Bosnia and Kosovo, and some even advocated war in Haiti in the 1990s. Those were wars liberals could back unreservedly.
Why? The actions in Bosnia and Kosovo had NATO and U.N. coloration (though nothing really got accomplished until the United States got involved). Liberals love the idea of a cooperative, peacekeeping, international body preventing nationalism from running amok. They love the idea so much that they ignore the hard truth of reality (nations follow their own interests at the United Nations, as elsewhere) and act as if the flawed international bodies we have are the embodiment of these fond dreams.
But it is also the case that liberals particularly distrust and in some cases even despise U.S. national assertion -- even, it appears, in self-defense. The wars in Kosovo and Bosnia were utterly divorced from America's national security. Accordingly, liberals declared them to be moral and just. But the first Gulf War, though it too could have been viewed as thwarting aggressive nationalism (Iraq's), was viewed more critically by liberals because our national interests were more directly at stake.
Most liberals wanted the first Bush administration to "let the sanctions work" just as they are today urging that we "let the inspections work." When it came to the security of Kosovars or Bosnians, liberals believed that war was the answer. But when it comes to the safety of Americans, they scorn everything except diplomacy.
Modern liberalism was born during the Vietnam War, when antiwar activists taught that America was an international bully, a supporter of tyrants on the "wrong side of history" and a deeply immoral nation. The sharpness of that indictment has blurred over the intervening years, but it remains the picture that liberals carry around in their mental wallets.
Perfectly timed (as if designed to make us feel better), the Census Bureau has just released figures showing that, if nothing else, our houses are becoming more comfortable. In 1940, only 55 percent of Americans had hot water, flush toilets and bathtubs or showers. In 2000, the figure was 99 percent. In 1960, only 79 percent of Americans had access to a telephone, inside their homes or shared with neighbors. In 2000, 98 percent had a telephone inside. The average new American house has grown, since 1970, from 1,500 square feet to 2,266 square feet in 2000. Some 98 percent of us own a television. Of these, 85 percent have a VCR. By contrast, only 38 percent of Angolans have access to clean water. "Hard times" are in the eye of the beholder.
The argument that minority students need minority professors as "role models" also does not fit the facts. Black students and female students do just as well when they are taught by white male professors as they do when they are taught by people who are physically similar to themselves.Shouldn't this have been obvious is you buy into the idea that the color of your skin doesn't matter?
But McGrory's explanation reveals how dishonest and even dishonorable many anti-war liberals have been.
She calls President Bush a "flighty thinker," and says, "I have resisted the push to war against Iraq because I thought George W. Bush was trying to pick a fight for all the wrong reasons -big oil, the far right -against the wrong enemy." She adds, "Among people I know, nobody was for the war" and "We wished Powell would oppose the war, because it seemed like such a huge and misdirected overreaction to a bully who got on the nerves of our touchy Texas president."
This is a woman who writes a regular column for The Washington Post, and not one of her reasons has anything to do with the actual facts at issue. She doesn't like Bush. She doesn't like his advisers. Comments about Bush's intelligence seem to be the lynchpins of her opposition to war. When she says that "among the people" she knows, "nobody was for the war," she sounds like Pauline Kael, the New Yorker writer who famously said in 1972 that Nixon couldn't have won because, "I don't know a single person who voted for him!"
Ultimately, McGrory says she's convinced because Powell's on board with a war and she likes Powell. She deserves credit for publicly changing her mind, but that is what's so damning about the knee-jerk opposition of so many anti-war liberals -it's based in animus, not logic.
"PS — As I write, we just experienced a sunset over the Pacific, just [west] of Chile. I'm sitting on the flight deck in the CDR seat (front right) with a view of the Earth moving gracefully by. Sunsets and sunrises from space come every 45 minutes, and last only about 30 seconds, but the colors are stunning. In a single view, I see looking out at the edge of the Earth — red at the horizon line, blending to orange, then yellow; followed by a thin white line, then light blue, gradually turning to dark blue, then various gradually darker shades of gray, then black with a million stars above. It's breath-taking."
The United States has never conducted a large-scale, strategic cyber-attack, according to several senior officials. But the Pentagon has stepped up development of cyber-weapons, envisioning a day when electrons might substitute for bombs and allow for more rapid and less bloody attacks on enemy targets. Instead of risking planes or troops, military planners imagine soldiers at computer terminals silently invading foreign networks to shut down radars, disable electrical facilities and disrupt phone services.Of course, this represents a new front to fight wars on. We would be especially vulnerable to such an attack. But, it gives me confidence to know that our side is preparing to fighting cyber warfare offensively and defensively.
Bush's action highlights the administration's keen interest in pursuing a new form of weaponry that many specialists say has great potential for altering the means of waging war, but that until now has lacked presidential rules for deciding the circumstances under which such attacks would be launched, who should authorize and conduct them and what targets would be considered legitimate.
Blair is really putting himself on the line. I had had a rather instinctive opposition to Blair due to all the Blair-Clinton comparisons when Blair was first elected. I don't know anything about his domestic policies, but I'm quite impressed with the strength of his support for the US position.
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Mr. Hussein said it was the relentless call for more inspections that finally made him blink, and capitulate to the demands of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441.In Jacques Chirac's dreams.
"A man can only take so much pressure," said Mr. Hussein. "The French, Germans, Chinese and Russians remained steadfast in their demand for continuing inspections, and we are frankly helpless to resist the force of their will."
It has been said that, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, someone told him that admitting students to the University of California on individual performance alone could mean that all the students at Berkeley might be Asian Americans.Can you imagine any politician saying that today? I can't think of one.
"So what?" was the Gipper's response.
The cynicism is clear -- if there's another terrorist strike, Hillary can say it was because the Republicans didn't earmark that extra $150 million for interoperable radios. (New York can't fix its radio problem if there's no federal grant?) But mainly what comes through is state-of-the-art lack of imagination. It's Robo-Senatoring. All the mechanicals are in place: 1) The pervasive partisan disingenuousness (hasn't Bush done anything right? Maybe he's done some things right and some things wrong?); 2) The empty stridency and pathetic speechwriting flourishes ("the frontlines are at our front doors ... rhetoric won't stop the spread of anthrax"); 3) The bogus survey, in which New York mayors, shockingly, complain that they're not getting enough federal money; 4) The for-show legislation, with a "Public Private Task Force" and a "Counter-Terror Technology Fund." ... There's not a glimmer of humanity or wit in the whole thing.
"OK, fine, but how can we possibly go to war without the approval of the United Nations?"Let us not forget how France got on the Security Council. It was for all their crucial aid in winning World War II. Ditto China. We never could have defeated Germany and Japan without their help. Just kidding. But, as a reward for our liberating their countries, we allowed them to pretend that they were of equal importance to the postwar world. Without that bit of generosity, who would care a flip what France thought today? (link via Instapundit)
You mean the French and the Germans, perhaps. Well, France is demonstrating its habitual reaction to glowering men with small mustaches; German leaders are pandering to their dovish cliques for short-term political gain. Politicians in both countries probably get hummingbird heart rates when they contemplate U.S. officials poring through the records in Baghdad and finding the extent to which our allies have been meeting Saddam at the back door.
In any case, who cares what France thinks? It's not as if France would be of any use in a war. France has one notoriously unreliable aircraft carrier, and its best troops are engaged in a unilateral operation in Ivory Coast.
"Granted. But how can we possibly go to war without the approval of the United Nations?"
Perhaps you mean that we need the moral imprimatur of this august and esteemed body. You'd have a better point if the United Nations was moral, august or esteemed. On the contrary: The United Nations is a dim hive of self-interested parties engaged in endless parliamentary mummery, united by a consensual delusion that all nations are equal.
So you have the bitterly risible sight of Libya chairing the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which is akin to giving Kid Rock control over the New York Philharmonic. You have the 2003 disarmament conference rotating its presidency among a group of states that includes Iran and Iraq. (Perhaps next year the agricultural planning conference will be held in Pyongyang.) You have the shameful performance of the peacekeepers in Srebrenica, looking away while thousands were slaughtered. You have the sex-for-food scandal at U.N. refugee camps in Africa -- if it happened at an American frat house, it would be national news for a week.
Nations need dreams. You don't spend all your income making your financial situation better. You would be much better off if you paid down debt, gave to charities, bought healthier food, etc. But you don't. All of us like to save up for trips, rent movies, eat at nice restaurants. Why? Because we need to think about what we can become, not what we are and what our current problems are. Astronauts give our nation pride and hope, and it's been tough to feel good lately, betwen 9/11, Enron, and the tanking economy. If we can do that for $15 billion, let's do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than a $600 billion tax cut, in any case.Read the rest. He has some interesting statistics comparing the rate of fatalities on our highways to shuttle accidents.
Serious talk of a Davis recall began last month when a Southern California businessman first mentioned it at a gathering of conservatives. But it has since taken on a life of its own. Pat Caddell, a Democrat and former pollster for both Jimmy Carter and Jerry Brown, started openly courting other Democrats about a recall last November. "I saw Los Angeles Times exit polls that found that 61% of the people who voted didn't like Davis. He only won because 64% of those who voted didn't like his opponent."
There is a general sense across party lines that the Davis administration is plagued by scandal and has ignored looming problems until they metastasized. "The recall, right of initiative and an honest civil service were gifts the Progressives gave Californians in 1911 to free them from corporate and boss rule," says Mr. Caddell. "The recall is the gift that must now be opened to battle this new corporate and boss rule."
The administration's refusal to supply its opponents with the answers they demanded on their schedule emboldened them. There were anti-war rallies. Democrats in the Senate began finding fault with the president. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle basically said he feared the administration was making up reasons to go to war.
The administration remained patient, waiting until it was ready to speak. And by doing so, the president and his team also showed once more that they possess an astonishingly high level of strategic and tactical intelligence in dealing with the messy realities of world politics.
Powell's masterful and inarguable presentation yesterday means the administration has once again outflanked its adversaries and out-argued its opponents - just as it did in September, when Bush went to the United Nations and began the process that led to the unanimous passage of U.N. Resolution 1441.
Why did the administration wait until this week? Two reasons. First: The U.N. arms inspectors delivered their report a week ago Monday; the world needed time to digest it. Second (and far more important): The fact that the administration felt ready to release certain pieces of highly classified information means that we are on the verge of war.
How do I know this? I know it by the very fact that the administration was willing to release these satellite photos and telephone intercepts in the first place.
Colin Powell yesterday revealed certain key intelligence methods. Those methods will no longer be operative because the Iraqis now know about them from Powell's speech.
That can only mean the administration understands that these methods won't be useful very much longer. They won't be useful because wartime methods of intelligence collection are entirely different from peacetime methods.
The administration has had much of the classified evidence Powell showed yesterday for months. But Bush and Powell waited.
It was tactically shrewd to wait. More important, they had to wait because America was not yet ready for war.
Our troops were not in place. But they are now, or will be very soon.
We had not fully replenished our military supplies after the war in Afghanistan - but I think it's safe to assume we have done so by now or that our stockpile will be complete very soon.
People committed to a particular conclusion will get to it and will stay there. So the facts that Powell deployed, and the pattern they form, will not persuade people determined to be unpersuaded. But Powell's presentation, its power enhanced by his avoidance of histrionics, will change all minds open to evidence.It is almost becoming a mystery of why the French are operating the way they are. They know that inspections won't work. They know Hussein has all the bad stuff. (They even helped him build some of it.) They know we're going to go without them. They know that we'll be victorious. They know that their position will make it less likely that they get nice contracts when it comes time to decide who should get the money for rebuilding Iraq. Christorpher Hitchens in the WSJ (not online) has one hypothesis. He thinks it's just pure resentment of Britain and the US. They will do anything, even encourage Mugabe, in order to put a thumb in the eye of their supposed allies. Even the Estonians are laughing at the French.
Thus it will justify disregarding the presumptively close-minded people who persist in denying . . . what? What are people denying who still deny the need for force? That Iraq has weapons of mass destruction? Or that Iraq is resisting the inspections? No, they are denying only that force is needed. They say an enhanced presence of inspectors will paralyze Iraq's weapons programs.
Speaking, as we are, primarily of the French government, its oleaginous foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, addressed the Security Council after Powell. After some initial circumlocutions, the opacity of which could not conceal their offensiveness, de Villepin may have begun exercising the skill France has often honed since 1870 -- that of retreating, this time into incoherence.
After dismissing Powell's photographs and voice intercepts as "information, indications, questions, which deserve further exploration," de Villepin declared: "It will be up to the inspectors to assess the facts as is stated in Resolution 1441." Such cheek. De Villepin put Powell through torturous word-by-word negotiation of 1441 and knows that it does not contain what he, de Villepin, now purports to find in it. It does not vest in Hans Blix's minions the sovereign power to declare for the United Nations whether Iraq is in material breach.
Perhaps de Villepin's statement lost some clarity in translation. More likely, it was incoherent because his position is.
He said "the disarmament of Iraq" is "a clear objective which we cannot compromise." He said inspections require Iraq's "active cooperation." Then, although Powell's evidence was still fresh in the minds of the Security Council members, de Villepin said "this cooperation still contains some gray areas." Gray, indeed.
Three paragraphs after saying the inspections "are working," de Villepin said the inspectors have encountered "real difficulties." Three paragraphs later, insincerity producing stammering, he said, "Our evidence suggests -- the evidence suggests that there are significant stocks -- there is the possible possession of significant stocks of anthrax and botulism toxins and the possible -- possibly a production capacity today." But in the next paragraph he said, so what? "The absence of long-range delivery systems reduces the potential threat of these weapons" -- as though ballistic missiles are necessary.
ASK FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER Dominique "Sandbag" de Villepin what his country had in mind when it supported the "serious consequences" threatened in U.N. Resolution 1441 for continued Iraqi noncompliance, and he'd likely utter two words: more inspections.
De Villepin's reaction to Colin Powell's case today at the United Nations was as comically incoherent as possible in a discussion of terrorism and deadly weapons. Listening to Villepin after Powell's presentation, I wondered if he had actually understood anything that Powell had said in the previous 80 minutes. Was the little white thing hooked to his ear playing Saint-Saens rather than Powell?
I'm eagerly awaiting the official transcript of Villepin's remarks in English, because each time I reread his comments I become less confident of my notes.
Did he really claim that "UNMOVIC and IAEA [inspections] are working"? Even after Powell played the intercepted communications proving Iraqi deception?
Did he honestly recommend that Baghdad could demonstrate its intent to cooperate by "by adopting legislation prohibiting the manufacture weapons of mass destruction?" (Yup, he did--I checked the transcript.)
The important moment--to the extent France still has important moments in world affairs--came when Villepin said that military means to disarm Saddam Hussein are still on the table. "We will not rule out anything, including use of force, as we have said all along." (It's tempting here to quibble with the last part of that claim. Villepin himself told the Security Council two weeks ago that "nothing justifies envisaging military action.") By refusing to rule out force, the Foreign Minister may well have signaled France's coming retreat.
Villepin spent most of his time, however, arguing for a beefed-up inspection regime. He called for "double, triple" the number of inspectors currently on the ground in Iraq and pledged France's unwavering support for such reinforcements.
Rumsfeld's work on the ballistic-missile commission convinced him that intelligence analysts were not asking themselves the full range of questions on any given subject—including what they didn't know. Rumsfeld gave me a copy of some aphorisms he had collected during the process of assessing the ballistic-missile threat. "Some of these are humorous," he said, not quite accurately. One was "There are knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns." (The saying is attributed, naturally, to "Unknown.") "I think this construct is just powerful," Rumsfeld said. "The unknown unknowns, we do not even know we don't know them."
In the case of the missile programs of two countries he would not name, he said, "There were instances in which we didn't know something until two, four, six, eight, twelve, and, in one case, thirteen years after it happened. If we didn't know this for five years, that means that there may very well be things that started five years ago that we don't know about at all."
Rumsfeld said that the ideas contained in the commission's report are spreading through the fourteen organizations that make up the intelligence community (these range from the Defense Intelligence Agency to Coast Guard intelligence). "You find not infrequently now that there will be a section, and it will have a fairly typical analysis, and then it will be followed by a section labelled 'What we don't know.' "
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
10. Hosts the Miss World pre-pageant cocktail party
9. Puts inspection tags in new pants
7. Determines which world problems require a call to Batman
6. Produces General Foods International Coffees
5. On Tuesday nights, broadcasts "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"
4. Provides steady employment for guys named Blix
A £40,000 study funded by taxpayers claims today that the British Army is sexist because it uses the word "'manning" rather than "staffing".
Senior military personnel are criticised for using the term "girls" to describe female officers, even though "our boys" is common parlance for male soldiers.
Mr. Estrada's nomination in no way justifies a filibuster. The case against him is that he is a conservative who was publicly criticized by a former supervisor in the Office of the Solicitor General, where he once worked. He was not forthcoming with the committee in its efforts to discern his personal views on controversial issues -- as many nominees are not -- and the administration has (rightly) declined to provide copies of his confidential memos from his service in government. Having failed to assemble a plausible case against him, Democrats are now arguing that this failure is itself grounds for his rejection -- because it stems from his own and the administration's discourteous refusal to arm Democrats with examples of the extremism that would justify their opposition. Such circular logic should not stall Mr. Estrada's nomination any longer. It certainly doesn't warrant further escalating a war that long ago got out of hand.
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
now realize that America must be guided by Germany with its 100-year record of moral leadership; by France with nearly as long a record of standing up to evil; by our university professors, who almost alone in America understand that America and Israel are the world's villains; by the United Nations, which was so prescient in doing nothing during the Rwanda genocide and today provides more moral light with Syria on its Security Council and Libya heading its Human Rights Commission; by The New York Times and other newspapers that so insightfully attacked President Ronald Reagan for labeling the Soviet Union an evil empire; and by China, which I used to identify with cultural genocide in Tibet, but thanks to my new desire to be loved, I will now regard only as a huge potential source of love and cheap imports.It's hilarious. Read the rest.
Monday, February 03, 2003
There’s more to French policy than amoral profiteering, however. There is also the search for lost glory. France has been in decline since, oh, about 1815, and it isn’t happy about it. What particularly galls the Gauls is that their rightful place in the world has been usurped by the gauche américains, with their hamburgers and blue jeans. Jean-Paul Sartre pithily summed up the French attitude in 1953: “America has rabies. Let us sever all our links with her, or else we shall get bitten and become rabid.”
France hasn’t severed all links, but it is desperately trying to make Paris an alternative power centre to Washington. Lacking the tools of a Great Power (powerful Armed Forces and a vibrant economy), France is taking full advantage of its leadership positions in the EU and the Security Council.
This has already paid dividends for M Chirac. Normally no one in his right mind would look to France for anything more weighty than a good soufflé recipe. But by dangling his Security Council veto, M Chirac has moved closer to the centre of the geopolitical universe, at least for a few minutes.
There is no reason for Mr Blair to feed French megalomania any further. M Chirac will no doubt pressure the Prime Minister to back the French line in the name of “European unity”, but most of Europe is closer to Washington on Iraq than to Paris. There are deep wellsprings of anti-Americanism across Europe. But many Europeans no doubt remember what happened when they entrusted their security to France (1914, 1939) rather than to the United States (1945, 1989).
This isn’t just ancient history. France hasn’t shown itself any more capable of handling international crises in the intervening decades. Recently M Chirac sent 2,500 soldiers to Ivory Coast. They’ve done such a skilful job that crowds in Abidjan marched with signs that read “Bush Help. Chirac is a criminal” and “America welcome in Ivory Coast. France bye-bye”. Until Paris can manage Ivory Coast, maybe it should leave off telling Britain and America how to handle Iraq.
Bush isn't the only American president to lose the "nucular" war. In his "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine in May 2001, William Safire lamented that, besides Bush, at least three other presidents—Eisenhower, Carter, and Clinton—have mangled the word.Gee, if Carter who worked on a nuclear sub in the Navy said it that way, shouldn't we cut Bush some slack. I would guess that those who are upset might correlate highly with those who dislike Bush as president. I noticed in discussions of the State of the Union, that students who can't differentiate among "there," "their," and "they're" or "its" and "it's" felt that Bush's pronunciation of one word was enough to call him an idiot. Get over yourselves.
In fact, Bush's usage is so common that it appears in at least one dictionary. Merriam-Webster's, by far the most liberal dictionary, includes the pronunciation, though with a note identifying it as "a pronunciation variant that occurs in educated speech but that is considered by some to be questionable or unacceptable." A 1961 Merriam-Webster's edition was the first to include "nucular"; the editors received so many indignant letters that they added a usage note in the 1983 version, pointing out its "widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least one U.S. president and one vice president." They even noted its prominence among "British and Canadian speakers."
Let's say you're the head of government of a middle-rank power. You have no feelings one way or the other on the morality of things, that being a simplistic Texan cowboy concept. What then should your line on Iraq be?
The first question to ask yourself is: Is Bush serious about war? If your answer is yes, the next question is: Will he win that war?
Answer: Yes, and very quickly. You know that, even if the drooling quagmire predictors of the press don't. So the next question is: How will the Iraqi people feel about it?
Answer: They'll be dancing in the streets. You know that, even if Susan Sarandon and Ed Asner don't. They don't know because, although the "peace" movement claims to be standing shoulder to shoulder with the Iraqi people, no Iraqi person wants to put his shoulder anywhere near them. They know the scale of Saddam's murder and torture. And once the vaults are unpadlocked so will the rest of the world. So the obvious question is: If, for the cost of chipping in a couple of fighter jets, you can pass yourself off as an heroic co-liberator of a monstrous tyranny and position yourself for a big piece of the economic action from the new regime, why not go for it? It would appear to be, in the ghastly vernacular of the cretinous Yanks, a "no-brainer."
Ah, but for those with a big sophisticated Continental brain it's all more complicated than that. There are many idiotic incoherent leaders in the world, several of them francophone (hint), but Jacques Chirac is not among them. Say what you like about M. le President -- call him irresponsible, call him unreliable, throw in shifty, devious, corrupt, and almost absurdly conceited. But he's not stupid. The issue for the French is very straightforward: What's in it for us?
The answer to that may vary, but frame the question as a negative and the reply is always the same: What's not in it for France is that America should emerge with its present pre-eminence even more enhanced. France is in the business of la gloire de la republique, and right now the main obstacle to that is the post-Soviet unipolar geopolitical settlement. They are not temperamentally suited to being anyone's sidekick: If Tony Blair wants to play Athens to America's Rome, or Tonto to Bush's Lone Ranger, or Sandy the dog to Dubya's Little Orphan Annie, fine. The French aren't interested in any awards for Best Supporting Actor.
This isn't quite the same as being a bunch of spineless appeasers. As far as I can see, American pop culture only ever has room for one joke about the French. For three decades, the Single French Joke was that they were the guys who thought Jerry Lewis was a genius. I don't particularly see the harm in that myself, at least when compared to thinking, say, Jean-Paul Sartre is a genius. But, since September 11th, the new Single French Joke has been that they're "cheese-eating surrender monkeys," a phrase introduced on The Simpsons but greatly popularized by Jonah Goldberg of National Review. Jonah, you'll recall, recently flayed us Canadians for being a bunch of northern pussies, but it's a measure of the contempt in which he holds our D-list Dominion that we didn't even merit a pithy four-word sneer-in-a-can.
The trouble is the cheese-eating surrender paradigm is insufficient. If you want to go monkey fishing, there's certainly no shortage of Eurowimps: Since the unpleasantness of 60 years ago, the Germans have become as aggressively and obnoxiously pacifist as they once were militarist; they loathe their own armed forces, never mind anybody else's. But France is one of only five official nuclear powers in the world, a status it takes seriously. When Greenpeace were interfering with French nuclear tests in the Pacific, they blew up the damn boat. Even I, a right-wing detester of the eco-loonies, would balk at killing the buggers.
A few weeks ago, there was a spot of bother in Ivory Coast. Don't ask me what's going on: President Wossname represents the southern Wotchamacallit tribe and they're unpopular with natives in the northern province of Hoogivsadam. Something like that. But next thing you know, French troops have locked down the entire joint and forced both parties into a deeply unpopular peace deal that suits the Quai d'Orsay but nobody else. All of this while the UN is hunkered down in a month-long debate on whether to approve Article IV Sub-section 7.3 (d) of Hans Blix's hotel bill. Ivory Coast is nominally a sovereign state. The French have no more right to treat it as a colony than the British have to treat Iraq as a colony. But they do. And they don't care what you think about it.
So they're not appeasing Saddam. On the matter of Islamic terrorists killing American office workers and American forces killing Iraqi psychopaths, they are equally insouciant. Let's say Saddam has long-range WMDs. If he nuked Montpelier (Vermont), M. Chirac would insist that Bush needed to get a strong Security Council resolution before responding. If he nuked Montpellier (France), Iraq would be a crater by lunchtime.
In all, nine European nations issued a historic op-ed article calling Saddam "a clear threat to world security." Despite polls showing much local sentiment for appeasement, the leaders stated: "We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those [U.N.] resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result."Free reg. required.
Signatories to the new op-ed diplomacy laid it on the line to forgetful French and "ohne mich" (without me) Germans: "Today more than ever, the trans-Atlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom."
As U.S. citizens receive condolences in the aftermath of our latest space disaster, we value most those from people who understand that Americans often risk their lives "in the service of all humanity."
So, not for the first or last time, the senator sought to emphasize how he differs from former Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who failed as the party's 1988 presidential nominee. Kerry started by citing his war record.Let's see. Webster was dead in 1859. The Missouri Compromise was in 1820. This speech was for the Compromise of 1850. the quote is "I wish to speak today not as a Massachusetts man...." Can you imagine if Bush had made a mistake like this? Note the obligatory reference to Vietnam, which apparently he can't go 60 seconds without making. Has he done anything else in his life?
"In 1859, Daniel Webster went before the United States Senate and he began a great speech about the Missouri Compromise, and he said: 'I come to the floor not as a Massachusetts man but as an American,' " Kerry said. "When I went to Vietnam and we were on a boat together ... we didn't look at each other and say, 'What state are you from? Where'd you live?' We were just Americans fighting for the same flag."
And you know what really chaps my britches? It's the liberals who seem to think that well, yes, this is all just some sort of elaborate kindergarten game that we're supposed to play as if the stakes are an extra piece of candy at snack time. That the object of this whole thing is not to disarm Sadaam, but to play a sporting game until we all get bored and go home. And if Sadaam's better at hiding things than we are at finding them, we have to let him keep his WMD, because after all, he won fair and square.
Earth to liberals: this is not a game. Sadaam has apparently weaponized aflatoxin, mustard and VX gas, and is actively working on nukes. We are not going to keep playing by Marquess of Queensbury rules because you think the lessons of history are the same ones you learned in first grade when everyone dressed up like Pilgrims and pretended that they weren't going to spend the next hundred and fifty years wiping the Indians out. The world is a nasty place, and sometimes you have to do things that aren't quite nice, and I'm sorry you don't like it, but the willingness of others to go out and face reality is what keeps you're overstuffed ass sitting in that overstuffed chair sipping a triple-mocha latte and trying to conduct foreign policy on the basis of your completely uninformed opinions.
When you are in Kindergarten, and someone cheats, you go to the teacher. Well, guess who that is? That's us. That's not France, bartering their support to whoever will turn over the biggest percentage of their lunch money, and it's not Germany, trying to emulate the bad kid so teacher and parents won't notice that he's having trouble learning to read. We are the authority of first and last resort because all those international authorities you want us to abide by get their power from our guns. And this game is a little too serious to call it off and send everybody home without first taking control of the Ba'athist bedroom and making sure that there aren't any toys in there that aren't recommended for their age group.
The American public may have doubts about this war, but they have no doubts that Sadaam should not have biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons with which to threaten international stability. The only question in their minds is whether or not Sadaam has 'em, or will give 'em up -- not what we should do if he does, and he doesn't. And Blix has gone a long way to removing whatever doubt they might have had. So get your head out of the "101 Meditations for Peace" booklet you picked up at your last Democrats for the Earth rally and join the rest of us in acting like adults.
Sunday, February 02, 2003
Last week I went to lunch at the Hotel Schweizerhof in Davos, Switzerland, and discovered why America and Europe are at odds. At the bottom of the lunch menu was a list of the countries that the lamb, beef and chicken came from. But next to the meat imported from the U.S. was a tiny asterisk, which warned that it might contain genetically modified organisms — G.M.O.'s.
My initial patriotic instinct was to order the U.S. beef and ask for it "tartare," just for spite. But then I and my lunch guest just looked at each other and had a good laugh. How quaint! we said. Europeans, out of some romantic rebellion against America and high technology, were shunning U.S.-grown food containing G.M.O.'s — even though there is no scientific evidence that these are harmful. But practically everywhere we went in Davos, Europeans were smoking cigarettes — with their meals, coffee or conversation — even though there is indisputable scientific evidence that smoking can kill you. In fact, I got enough secondhand smoke just dining in Europe last week to make me want to have a chest X-ray.
So pardon me if I don't take seriously all the Euro-whining about the Bush policies toward Iraq — for one very simple reason: It strikes me as deeply unserious. It's not that there are no serious arguments to be made against war in Iraq. There are plenty. It's just that so much of what one hears coming from German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and French President Jacques Chirac are not serious arguments. They are station identification.
They are not the arguments of people who have really gotten beyond the distorted Arab press and tapped into what young Arabs are saying about their aspirations for democracy and how much they blame Saddam Hussein and his ilk for the poor state of their region. Rather, they are the diplomatic equivalent of smoking cancerous cigarettes while rejecting harmless G.M.O.'s — an assertion of identity by trying to be whatever the Americans are not, regardless of the real interests or stakes.
And where this comes from, alas, is weakness. Being weak after being powerful is a terrible thing. It can make you stupid. It can make you reject U.S. policies simply to differentiate yourself from the world's only superpower. Or, in the case of Mr. Chirac, it can even prompt you to invite Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe — a terrible tyrant — to visit Paris just to spite Tony Blair. Ah, those principled French.
"Power corrupts, but so does weakness," said Josef Joffe, editor of Germany's Die Zeit newspaper. "And absolute weakness corrupts absolutely. We are now living through the most critical watershed of the postwar period, with enormous moral and strategic issues at stake, and the only answer many Europeans offer is to constrain and contain American power. So by default they end up on the side of Saddam, in an intellectually corrupt position."
It is ironic that the same America that has brought peace and liberty to so many millions around the world is seen by some now as a greater threat than Saddam Hussein. We saved Western Europe during the Cold War and dealt with the crises in the Balkans and Kosovo in the 1990s. Today, we are expected to protect Taiwan from China, to mediate between India and Pakistan, to resolve the crisis with North Korea, and even to settle a dispute between Morocco and Spain about a small island in the Mediterranean, home to several dozen goats. Europeans want us to be on tap but not on top.
A good part of the European moaning is really a psychological crutch to draw attention away from weaknesses at home–what the French writer Jean-François Revel called "weapons of mass distraction." Europeans cannot muster the political will to develop their own military, so they recoil from any use of force. We cannot be constrained by these apologies for impotence when we face dangers that metastasize almost daily.
These days, American technology has to pace itself. But you don't have to believe, as NASA fretted in the weeks before launch, that this Shuttle could be a terrorist target to marvel at the almost perfect symbolism of Saturday's tragedy: the Columbia's crew included the first Israeli astronaut, Colonel Ilan Ramon; better yet, he was an Israeli who had participated in the successful raid on the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, back in the 1980s in those dark days before the policing of Saddam's nuclear programme was entrusted to Hans Blix; and, of course, the Shuttle came down over Texas, home state of the President and in the European press the favoured shorthand for what they see as the swaggering cowboy braggadocio of the US.
Indeed, you don't even have to be some Islamist death-cult loser in Ramallah to be dancing up and down in the street. Within an hour of the Shuttle's loss, a Canadian Broadcasting Corportation interviewer was gleefully asking her alleged expert whether the failure was due to American "arrogance", the same "arrogance" the Americans are currently demonstrating in the Middle East. The "expert" - a sci-fi writer - said no, it wasn't "arrogance". But an hour later the CBC was apparently citing mysterious "space experts" who thought "over-confidence" arising from Iraqi war fever had led Nasa to go ahead with the flight.
The assumption is that, with enough effort, we will have what people are calling an "Adlai Stevenson moment." You can almost see it in your mind -- the fuzzy black-and-white TV images of October 1962. Stevenson, U.S. delegate to the United Nations, holds up aerial photos of Soviet missile launchers in Cuba taken by U-2 spy planes. Soviet delegate Valerian Zorin -- who previously denied the weapons were there -- declines to explain. "I am prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over," Stevenson says.
Powell's address to the United Nations this week might provide a similar moment -- but don't count on it. In any case, such courtroom-style theater is beside the point. The idea of the presentation of a decisive piece of admissible, convincing evidence might be an appealing metaphor, but it is a misleading one. Usually intelligence does not offer crystal-clear answers, and we should not hang decisions to go to war or do anything else on its ability to do so. In my own experience, intelligence is usually full of uncertainty. In the intelligence business, foolproof, airtight evidence -- the kind that changes minds and convinces the public -- is, as one of my first branch chiefs at the CIA used to tell me, as "rare as hens' teeth." That's why expecting intelligence to provide "proof" in the legal sense of the word is so dangerous.