THE MAKING OF A HAWK: For those of you who haven't seen Jim Cramer's article on his transformation from a dove to a war hawk, here it is.
Here's a short snippet:
The terrorists' cause is not Islam, it is not even radical Islam. It is nihilism. The terrorists believe in absolutely nothing other than destroying the lives of others. That's the terrorist creed; think of it as if the devil himself finally had a home team, and don't for a moment try to understand them or reason with them or believe our laws are meant to protect them.
DOSE OF DEN BESTE: One of my favorite Web essayists, Steven Den Beste, has yet another great piece up about Bush's speech to the United Nations yesterday. It's today's pre-weekend required reading. Here's a preview:
No, Iraq hasn't slipped away. We're still on track to take Saddam out. It's not a sure thing (nothing is a sure thing) but the events of September 12 did not significantly reduce the chance that it will happen.
That doesn't mean that what happened today (or yesterday, or which will happen tomorrow) was all part of a deeply crafted plot, and that it was all predicted months ago. Events don't unfold that way. What it means is that the most sure way to be defeated is to let your opponent convince you that short term setbacks do indeed mean you've lost your chance to prevail. If you accept that setbacks happen, and that you can deal with them, you can still win.
Of course, that doesn't mean that a perceived setback wasn't actually a gambit. That's a term from chess which refers to a case where a player will make a short term sacrifice, usually by deliberately suiciding a valuable piece, in order to gain a more subtle and longer term advantage offsetting it. A gambit is a risk, of course; you definitely lose at the beginning but you may not actually win the advantage you thought you were going to get. But if you pull it off, you're actually strengthened by it.
That kind of thing happens in politics and war all the time. One form of it in war is known as a "forlorn hope"; it's a form of demonstration. A demonstration is where you launch an attack on an enemy with the degree of ferocity that would ordinarily accompany the beginning of a major battle or campaign, but without the plan or even the ability to carry through at that level of ferocity. The goal is to deceive your opponent into thinking that you are making maximal effort at that point. Sometimes a major offensive in one part of the front will be accompanied by a demonstration somewhere else in hopes of convincing the opponent to split his reserves between them, so as to reduce his ability to reinforce the part of the front where your real effort is happening.
A forlorn hope is an attack by a reduced force, which fails (deliberately) in hopes of convincing your opponent that you are weaker than you actually are. The Mongols perfected this (using tactics developed by the great Subadei) and would attack an enemy army with a small portion of their force, which would then retreat after the attack "failed". The army would then pursue, and follow the forlorn hope into a trap, after which the majority of the Mongol force would fall on the enemy army from both sides and the rear while the forlorn hope would again turn to face the enemy and engage it from the front. Upon being attacked from all sides, that army would disintegrate and the slaughter would be unimaginable.
This kind of thing happens in lots of ways. George Bush has now, for the third time, used a diplomatic gambit. The first time it happened, I referred to it as "making them an offer they cannot accept". He didn't invent this, but he's proved rather adroit at using it.
THE NEW STANCE OF THE NEW REPUBLIC: The editors of the New Republic declare in their staff editorial this week "it has been a long time since this journal felt so despondent about the Democratic Party" in a powerful piece damning the increasing irrelevance of the Democrats' war complaints. Marty Peretz also echoes this complaint in a separate article.
What's next, endorsing Bush over old friend Al Gore in the 2004 election? Stay tuned.
Thursday, September 12, 2002
GEORGE W. BUSH'S NY TIMES COLUMN: President Bush's column, which was printed in Sept. 11's NY Times was a refreshing change from the ignorant op-ed pieces recently published by two former presidential candidates, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, on our foreign policy. It appears to me that the foreign policy of the Bush administration is a mixture of idealistic Wilsonian belief in democracy and self-determination, mixed with a protection of American interests tempered by a firm sense of morality. This paragraph below is why I have been so pleased with the Bush administration's foreign policy:
America's greatest opportunity is to create a balance of world power that favors human freedom. We will use our position of unparalleled strength and influence to build an atmosphere of international order and openness in which progress and liberty can flourish in many nations. A peaceful world of growing freedom serves American long-term interests, reflects enduring American ideals and unites America's allies. We defend this peace by opposing and preventing violence by terrorists and outlaw regimes. We preserve this peace by building good relations among the world's great powers and we extend this peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.
This, my friends, is the Bush Doctrine.
BELATED SEPT. 11 READING: Ted Olson's November 2001 speech to the Federalist Society memorializing his late wife, Barbara, is a true must-read -- one of the best pieces on Sept. 11 and its aftermath I've seen.
Tuesday, September 10, 2002
DOES RICHARD COHEN READ HIS OWN PAPER?: Based on his column today, I'd say the answer is a definitive no:
Here's what he wrote today:
But there is no -- that's no -- evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons. Intelligence suggests, in fact, that Iraq is five or so years away from either securing or developing a bomb. The nuclear threat is not an imminent one, and it is not one, in any case, directed at the United States. We are a world away and have ample means to retaliate. Iraq would cease to exist.
Iraq could produce a nuclear weapon "in a matter of months" if supplied fissile materials from an outside source, according to a report released here today. Saddam Hussein's government also has an extensive biological weapons capability, a smaller chemical weapons stockpile and a small supply of missiles to deliver them, the report concluded.
Monday, September 09, 2002
DISGUSTING COLUMN: Today's edition of "The Eagle" published a column by sophomore Valery Dragon, titled "America reaped what it sowed." (On the online version, they apparently changed the headline.) In it, the author clearly writes she is glad that 3,000 people perished on September 11. Here's the meat:
What I hated most, and still do, is when others tried to comfort me. It was so routine. They would tilt their heads to the right, do a simultaneous smile and frown, showing no teeth, and then bow their heads. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing. Except the fact that others are feeling sorry for something I’m not sorry about. If anything- I’m glad it happened. I’m glad America, the “Big Giant”, had a mirror reflected on itself. I’m just sad that so many people had to pay for the “American Way.”
I thought many times that this is what children all over the world go through every day. I thought, “this is what happens when America finds something beneficial in another country and choose sides. This is what happens when America aids the government in hushing guerrila armies. This is what happens when oil supply is thinning.”
I encourage all blog readers and others to e-mail the Eagle's op-ed page to respond and lend your outrage to this type of vicious anti-American thinking. I, for one, will be writing a letter detailing my disgust.
HATE MASQUERADING AS TOLERANCE: Sarah Kopelovich, a 21-year old George Washington University senior, was spit on, harrassed and assaulted at a counterdemonstration to neo-Nazis at the Capitol last week. Why? Because she brought an Israeli flag to the event. She penned an editorial describing the events to the Washington Jewish Week, writing:
As I walked toward my compatriots, my fellow protesters, I felt more empowered with each step. These were people who believed as I did, rational tolerant people whose personal morality impelled them to stand together and denunciate hatred and intolerance. They would stand with me, protest with me, and perhaps attempt to educate -- with me.
Or so I thought.
As I walked deeper and deeper through the crowd of protesters, waving the Israeli flag high and proud above my head, I began to feel less and less welcome. I marched on, waving the flag even higher so each and every neo-Nazi could see the flag of the Jewish people.
Suddenly I realized that the cries and jeers at the sight of the flag, originated not from the neo-Nazis, but from the anti-Nazi protesters.
I continued through the crowd and tried hard to ignore the glares. Inevitably, I was confronted. Abusive, although not unfamiliar words assaulted me at first: "Israel is fascist!" "Zionism is racism!" An old woman with a sweet face screamed at me, "You are a Nazi!" she cried. What had started out as a protest against racism quickly turned into a forum of hatred and fanaticism. I and the flag I held were their targets.
What could I do? Would I turn around? Could I let them disrespect this symbol of my people, and retreat in fear? I held my flag even higher. And I attempted, among the threats, the jostling and chaotic vehemence, to reason.
"I am not the enemy! The enemy is right across the street. Please, let's share this common ground and fight together!"
Despite my intense rage, I stayed true to my nonviolent beliefs and fought her and the crowd that had begun to form around me, with my words.
The crowd of anti-Nazi protesters did not have the same nonviolent ideology. I was spat upon. I was physically and verbally threatened. Grown men accosted me and tried to rip the Israeli flag out of my hands. Several were very close to actually assaulting me. Police intervened and blocked the anti-Nazi protesters from approaching me. These were supposed to be the good guys, and yet the hatred they exuded was just as potent as that of the Nazis themselves.
Sounds awfully like the Palestinian behavior at the San Francisco State pro-Israel peace rally. (The WJW has more on the story here.)
As Matt Drudge would say, "Developing..."
WHY I SUPPORT VOUCHERS: In today's Washington Post Outlook section (which was particularly bad this week), a woman wrote a particularly relevant letter that I believe sums up my unequivocal support for school vouchers. The woman, who identifes herself as a "card-carrying liberal," lives in a lower-income section of Anne Arundel County, where the schools have consistently ranked as substandard. She writes:
The test scores combined with these stories persuaded my husband and me to start looking into private schools for our daughter.
My mother-in-law didn't approve. She said it wasn't right for us to send our daughter to private school. If we kept her in public schools and worked to make the system better, everyone would benefit -- including people who don't have the option of sending their kids somewhere else.
For a card-carrying liberal, I was surprisingly unapologetic about our decision. Why should I sacrifice our daughter's future to an abstract principle? I wasn't up to battling the school system about class size, curriculum and extracurricular activities. And by the time any changes could be made, our daughter would have already missed out on a vibrant education.
But Granny's arguments did ring uncomfortably true. Education isn't just another commodity, with parents doing comparison shopping to find the best brand at the lowest price. Education is the foundation of our future as a community and as a nation.
Our public school system suffers from scarce resources: not enough teachers, too-large classes, not enough fine arts instruction or computers, and a finite number of slots for children in the schools that will challenge them. Sadly, most educational opportunities seem tied to money in one way or another: the higher mortgage payments for homes near the best public schools, or the tuition payments and waiting lists for private schools.
This is the precise argument that school voucher proponents have been advancing for years. It's a known fact that many public schools that are not located in affluent suburbs can't be fixed overnight -- and the issue goes far beyond money. Some of the most well-funded schools, like the District of Columbia's schools, continually perform miserably in every possible measure. I don't advocating ignoring the public school system, but I also don't advocate ignoring the many bright kids who are unable to get a good education because they're forced to attend poor schools. Vouchers don't automatically decrease the quality of schools; in fact, increased competition may force public schools to spend their money more wisely to get better results. Even if that doesn't happen, I frankly think that children should be put ahead of buildings and bureaucracies -- that's precisely what school choice, through charter schools and vouchers, accomplishes. It's great how children of Congressmen and Congresswomen send their kids to private school, but they want to limit choice to hard-working families.
The "card-carrying liberal" April Doss, in her letter, puts it best:
Private education doesn't square so well with my liberal, communitarian ideals. But with the state of our public school, I wouldn't dream of educating our daughter any other way.