Michael J. Totten

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Women and War

Lani Silver at The San Francisco Chronicle wonders why men like war so much. (Thanks to Tim Blair.)

Men seem to be out of control. They like war way too much.

They are way too aggressive. My proof: 200 million people were murdered in the 20th century because of war and genocide. Since most decision-makers are men, and most soldiers are men, we need to reflect a little on this problem.

I know, you want to yell out Indira Gandhi! Margaret Thatcher! Golda Meir! (Everyone gets so excited that they can name three women who fall into this war-mongering category. Can anyone name a fourth woman who belongs here?)

How about the American female airforce pilot who guided a smart bomb on top of a Taliban convoy in Afghanistan and famously shouted "You were just killed by a girl!"

Modern feminism in practice. You go girl.

Venemous Hatred on the Left

I went to college in Eugene, the "Berkeley" of Oregon. And so I am not at all surprised to find that the Indymedia jerks at my Alma Mater have published a noxious screed against the American "empire." It's called What Goes Up, Must Come Down, and it's a brutal 96 pages long.

Here's the opening:

Well, it's been over five months since four planes were hijacked and crashed into the belly of the evil empire and over four months since the empire responded by beginning its bombing campaign on Afghanistan, starting it's [sic] "international war against terrorism," which is only the newest of the U.S.'s corporate-industrial-military campaigns to ensure global domination.

It goes on...

September 11th was in no way a revolutionary act, but instead, a volatile event in a larger "fundamentalist" war between devils who see themselves as the chosen ones, and their path as the righteous one. Unfortunately, we live within the belly of the biggest devil, and our only hope for exorcism is to take it down from within.

This kind of garbage is all over the city of Eugene. Feel sorry for the normal people who live there and who have to listen to this crap every day of their lives.

John McCain Throws Down the Gauntlet

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Some important American official would threaten North Korea with war. It happened today when Sen. John McCain wrote these chilling words.

The use of military force to defend vital American security interests must always be a last resort, as it is in this crisis. But if we fail to achieve the international cooperation necessary to end this threat, then the countries in the region should know with certainty that while they may risk their own populations, the United States will do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people. And spare us the usual lectures about American unilateralism. We would prefer the company of North Korea's neighbors, but we will make do without it if we must.

(This post was accidentally deleted, and has been reposted.)

Friday, January 10, 2003

At Least He's Honest

Some writers at The Nation are trying, really trying, to figure out a serious and responsible policy regarding Iraq. Michael Massing has a piece called The Moral Quandary: Anti-Imperialism Vs. Humanitarianism. He's clearly a smart guy and he's thinking for his life here, but in the end he argues for a tougher containment policy instead of regime change. I'll give him credit for brutal honesty when he writes this sentence:

The great drawback of such an approach, of course, is that it would do little to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people. Sadly, one might simply have to live with that.

Well, I don't want to live with that. Nor do I want to live with the possibility that Saddam Hussein will be able to break out of his containment someday.

I can understand why a person would think Saddam might be contained under a more forceful policy. I disagree, but respectfully. What I can't understand (nor can I stand) is an argument from a supposed liberal intellectual, who presumably cares about human rights and the well-being of the people of Iraq, that says the tortured people of that country are just going to have to suck it up.

It astonishes me that such a person can bring himself to write that sentence in public.

Tim Blair's Poetry Challenge

Tim Blair challenges readers to rewrite the following poem by Britain's Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.

Causa Belli by Andrew Motion

They read good books, and quote, but never learn
a language other than the scream of rocket-burn.
Our straighter talk is drowned but ironclad:
elections, money, empire, oil and Dad.

I am not a poet, but what the hell, here goes:

Cause of Bellyachin'

They read and write and grouse and get offended
about war declared by thugs that's open-ended
Straight talk doesn't work if they don't listen
Their eyes and ears and common sense--they're missing

Okay, it's not great, but at least it isn't galactically stupid. And I never won a poetry prize.

Canada Joins Up

Those who accuse the United States of "unilateralism" sound more and more ridiculous every day. Canada has decided that it will likely send troops to topple Saddam Hussein regardless of what the UN says.

So, how many countries have to join the US before we stop being unilateralists? Does Saddam have to join the anti-Saddam coalition before regime-change is multilateral?

Wry Mark Steyn

Leave it to Mark Steyn to find a way to make fun of a repulsive creep like Kim Jong Il.

What’s up with North Korea? Your guess is as good as mine and probably rather better than Kim Jong-Il’s. Even if you figure out a rational reason for why he’s chosen this particular time to play nuclear brinkmanship, it’s unlikely, by its very rationality, to be his reason.


It would be interesting to see Kim Jong-Il’s shipping invoices, but that’s about the only real stake America has in North Korea. Next time anyone goes on about the ‘inconsistencies’ of Bush’s approach to Baghdad and Pyongyang, pull out an atlas. Iraq is a big shot in a region of turbulent flop states; North Korea is a pitiful little freak show surrounded by world powers and economic success stories. Saddam is the new Saladin, an inspiration to millions of Arab males in Syria, Jordan, Saudi and the Palestinian Authority; nobody in South Korea, China, Russia or Japan wants to be like Kim Jong-Il or have anything to do with his parochial, irrelevant, unexportable ‘juche’ ideology. On Wall Street in the old greed-is-good days, they used to call hotshot traders BSDs — Big Swinging Dongs. That’s what Saddam is: the Big Swinging Dong of Araby. And, say what you like, it seems to impress George Galloway. By contrast, North Korea is literally the No Dong state. Take a look at a satellite picture of the peninsula by night: South Korea ablaze in electric light, the North in darkness. In Far East Asia, North Korea’s the hole in the doughnut.

More Blistering Commentary from Oriana Fallaci

Oriana Fallaci set off a firestorm in Europe with The Rage and the Pride. She broke a ten-year media silence after September 11 to write probably the most devastating indictment of Islamofascism ever written by anybody. And she piles it on her fellow Westerners for their cringing appeasement and debilitating political correctness. Fallaci is an Italian and a life-long leftist who shouldered a rifle against Mussolini's fascist dictatorship during World War II. A heck of a warrior, Oriana Fallaci. Gloria Steinem, pay attention.

Here is an excerpt from a speech she gave recently at the American Enterprise Institute.

President Bush has said, “We refuse to live in fear.”

Beautiful sentence, very beautiful. I loved it! But inexact, Mr. President, because the West does live in fear. People are afraid to speak against the Islamic world. Afraid to offend, and to be punished for offending, the sons of Allah. You can insult the Christians, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Jews. You can slander the Catholics, you can spit on the Madonna and Jesus Christ. But, woe betide the citizen who pronounces a word against the Islamic religion.


When I was very young, about 17 or so, I longed so much for a united Europe! I came from a war in which the [Europeans] had pitilessly slaughtered each other: Remember? The damned Second World War. Plunged up to his neck in the brand-new struggle, my father preached the European Federalism.... He held rallies, he spoke to the crowds, he chanted: ‘Europe! Europe! We must make Europe!’

But this frustrating and disappointing and insignificant Financial Club…[with] its sons of Allah who want to erase my civilization, this European Union, which chatters of Cultural-Similarities-with-the-Middle-East and meanwhile ignores my beautiful language, meanwhile sacrifices my national identity, is not the Europe I dreamed of when my father chanted, Europe-Europe. It is not Europe. It is the suicide of Europe.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

The Anti-Imperialism of Fools

The Times Online has a great piece about anti-Americanism and the Left.

Knocking America off its superpower pedestal has long supplanted taking control of the commanding heights of the economy as the idea which holds the Left together. Forget Clause Four. That was a dead red letter. It’s opposition to Uncle Sam which is the glue in the Left coalition, the brew which puts fire into bien-pensant bellies, the opium of radical intellectuals. And the crack in Osama bin Laden’s pipe.

There's the short version of why I don't call myself a leftist anymore.

The cultural popularity of anti-Americanism, particularly among Britain’s intelligentsia, is striking. The surprise publishing hit of last year was "Why do people hate America?" by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, a work which set out to reassure readers that hatred of America was more than a rising sentiment, it was a moral duty.

Nothing -- and I mean nothing -- left-wing Europeans can do will bust up their solidarity with left-wing Americans more than this. Sure, the American left has its own problems with anti-Americanism. But most of them cave when push comes to shove. America is their country, after all. Besides, there is an element of human nature here. I can say my own family is dysfunctional, but don't you dare, especially not in public. Keep it up, British lefties, and watch what happens over here in response.

The widespread prevalence of anti-Americanism, the cachet accorded to its advocates, the reflexive sniggering triggered by any favourable mention of America’s President, all make opposition to this trend unpopular. But vitally necessary. For Yankee-phobia is, at heart, a dark thing, a prejudice with ugly antecedents which creates unholy alliances. And, like all prejudices, it thrives on myths which will end up only serving evil ends.

Unholy alliances like, for example, peace activists and genocidal Islamofascist suicide bombers.

Why then do the myths of America the Hateful take such powerful hold? Because anti-Americanism provides a useful emotional function which goes beyond logic and reaches deep into the darker recesses of the European soul. In centuries past those on the Left who wished to personalise their hatred of capitalism, who sought to make it emotionally resonant by fastening an envious political passion on to a blameless scapegoat people, embraced anti-Semitism. It was the socialism of fools. Which is what anti-Americanism is now.

It was Karl Marx, I believe, who said anti-Semitism is the Socialism of Fools. I don't think it's quite right to say that anti-Americanism is the Socialism of Fools. Rather, anti-Americanism is the anti-imperialism of fools.

It should not therefore be surprising that those on the populist Right who share the Left’s antipathy towards the US are those, like the Austrian Freedom Party or the French National Front, who are heirs of anti-Semitic traditions. Nor should it be remarkable that the other tie which binds these allies of new Left and old Right together, the thread linking those such as George Galloway and Jörg Haider, is their hostility to Israel.

"Anti-Semitic traditions." Well, that's a bit of a whitewash. How about Nazism and Vichy Fascism. That's what the writer is talking about here. Still, the point made is an essential one.

Both America and Israel were founded by peoples who were refugees from prejudice in Europe. Europe’s tragedy is that prejudice has been given new life, in antipathy to both those states.

Forgive me for putting it this way, but what this writer is really saying is that Americans are the new Jews. We have the same enemies. We are hated for the same reasons. We are killed for the same reasons. And we are the subjects of the same outrageous blood libels and conspiracy theories.

The predictable result of all this is that America is an ally of Israel. No one should be surprised. And no American should be ashamed of it, either.

I Want Saddam Hussein Gone

From a reader:

I just wanted to say that I liked your article in Front Page very much. I agree with you and was just called a conservative by a friend of mine for doing so. You have to understand, he could think of nothing worse to call me.

I demonstrated against the war in Vietnam when I was 18. I have always supported liberal causes and have never voted for a Republican in my life.

But I want Saddam Hussein gone.

David Mamet Goes to Jerusalem

Novelist, playwright, and filmmaker David Mamet visited Jerusalem and filed a report at Foward.

This Western world is, I think, deeply confused between the real and the imaginary. All of us moviegoers, who awarded ourselves the mantle of humanity for our tears at "The Diary of Anne Frank" — we owe a debt to the Jews. We do not owe this debt out of any "Unwritten Ordinance of Humanitarianism" but from a personal accountability. Having eaten the dessert, cheap sentiment, it is time to eat the broccoli. If you love the Jews as victims, but detest our right to statehood, might you not ask yourself "why?" That is your debt to the Jews. Here is your debt to the Jewish state. Had Israel not in 1981 bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor, some scant weeks away from production of nuclear bomb material, all New York (God forbid) might have been Ground Zero.

Read the whole piece.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Liberal Hawks and Christopher Hitchens

Those who have followed Christopher Hitchens lately know that he quit The Nation because of its rising anti-Americanism and its reactionary stance against the liberation of Iraq. He's getting a lot of flak over it from his former comrades, but a lot of support, too. I count myself as one of Hitchens' strongest supporters, and I let my Nation subscription lapse for the same reasons he quit.

He recently had this to say about that. Hitchens makes me feel less lonely.

I’ve certainly heard from a lot of people on the Left, mostly privately, that agree with me basically about the events of Sept. 11 and the critique I made there. And quite a number or two who have the same feeling about regime changing around. Some of them write or call me to say 'you must be having a terrible time with it, and we feel sympathetic with all you’re going through.' As if it was really dangerous for me to do it, which both amuses and depresses me because it isn’t dangerous. And it makes me think -- why have they lost their spunk? Why do they think -- I wish I could say this too but I don’t think I’m up to it. I think some of them are stuck in university departments or groups of friends where they really feel they might be isolated or scorned, or even shunned. The up side is there are a lot of them.

I Get Hate Mail

I got over a hundred emails in my inbox in response to my article "A Liberal's Case for Bush's War." Some of my email was from liberals and some was from conservatives, and every one of them was positive.

At the site itself, though, I got two hate mail messages from a right-wing psychopath who calls me a "communist bastard" and praises Slobo's genocidal rampage against Europe's Muslims.

He starts with this creepy response and, realizing he hadn't had enough, added this.

I am embarassed by leftist reactionaries whom I occasionally get lumped in with. But I am very glad this man is not on my "side," no matter which way you slice it. I can't find any leftist anywhere as whacked out as this guy.

A Liberal's Case for Bush's War

My latest article was published today in Front Page Magazine. Here is an excerpt:

Remember the Chomskyites who got everything wrong in Afghanistan? Remember the Europeans who wanted to give the Butcher in Belgrade one more chance? That is not where you want to be right now. The liberation of Iraq and the democratic transformation of the Middle East is the most progressive cause in the world today. It is the right side of history, and if you stand in the way or sit on the sidelines, your liberal humanitarian credentials are toast.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten