Michael J. Totten

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Choose Sides Now

It's time to pick sides, people.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President Saddam Hussein hailed worldwide anti-war demonstrations Saturday and said the protests showed that Iraq had international support for standing up to the United States.

Meanwhile, liberated Kurdistan in Northern Iraq thinks of me as one of their personal allies.

If Saddam Hussein ever publicly thanks me for anything more significant than recommending a good scotch, I'll know I've made a grave moral error.

Saddam's Bomb

Not only is inspector Hans Blix miraculously able to find chemical weapons in Iraq, he has now (with Washington's help) found evidence of Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program. The Telegraph has the report.

This will not stand.

Too Christian For Me

A protester holds up a sign at an anti-war rally that says Love Your Enemies. It beats "Bomb Texas," but it's still asinine.

Look: If you want to send vibes of good Christian love to Osama and Saddam, that's great. It makes me think of Helen Prejean, the nun in Dead Man Walking who--amazingly--found a way to love a death row killer. I have tremendous respect for her. She is a better human being than most.

But she did not stand in the way of the cops when they came to bust the guy and throw him in the slammer. She didn't want him executed. But she didn't lobby the government to release him so he could kill again, either.

Let Consenting Adults Do What They Will

Here is yet more evidence (as if we should need it) that the people of Iraq welcome American intervention. (Via Andrew Sullivan.) They are silently screaming for it.

America wants this. Iraq desperately wants this. (Saddam is not Iraq, he is its tormentor.) Our two countries have a consensual agreement about how to proceed. Who the hell are Germany and France to tell us no? Their records of anti-fascism are execrable. It does not matter what they think.

The Banality of Evil

Oops, I used that word again. Anyway...here is the state of North Korea today, according to Robert Windrem at MSNBC. (Thanks to Front Page.)

“All of North Korea is a gulag,” said one senior U.S. official, noting that as many as 2 million people have died of starvation while Kim has amassed the world’s largest collection of Daffy Duck cartoons. “It’s just that these people [in the camps] are treated the worst. No one knows for sure how many people are in the camps, but 200,000 is consistent with our best guess.

“We don’t have a breakdown, but there are large numbers of both women and children.”

Friday, January 17, 2003

What's Up with the Neoconservatives

Max Boot recently wrote that a neoconservative is the kind of right-winger a liberal wouldn't be embarrassed to have over for cocktails. Seems about right to me. I don't want to have Pat "Old Right and Old Church" Buchanan over to the house any time soon, though I admit it would be intriguing. But, Bill Kristol? I'd brag about that.

The thing about the neocons is that they used to be leftists. Pat Buchanan thinks they are still closer to being Trotskyists than actual conservatives, but there's Pat for you. Commies are everywhere, even in the GOP.

I've never been a communist or socialist myself, but I do admit to having a bit of a revolutionary zeal that never had anywhere plausible to go. The would-be revolutionary. I probably would have been a Marxist if I had been born a long time ago. I'll admit that. But fortunately for me, socialism was discredited before I even knew what it was. So I thought of myself as a democratic non-Marxist leftist. I liked Ralph Nader, and I still do. He's the living example of what I'm talking about. (Don't even think about calling him a communist.)

Then along came September 11, and the revolutionary zeal of the neocons is back. Pat Buchanan has a point about them, but I do wish he wouldn't jump to red-baiting to make it.

It seems that they, like me, have found a good time and place to lead a revolution; the democratic transformation of the Middle East. It's necessary on national security grounds--eliminate the seed bed of Islamofascism. And it's a great moral cause in its own right, a project that Americans are perfectly suited for. We had our own revolution, after all, the most successful and inspiring in history. We Americans are deeply subversive people. We are not imperialists, and we are not at all comfortable with power.

In today's Wall Street Journal Christopher Hitchens writes the following:

If we take only the most pressingly topical issues of war and peace and intervention, we can select from at least three, and perhaps four, well-articulated conservative positions. The now soi-disant neoconservatives favor a high-risk, morally self-confident strategy of what I privately call revolution from above in the Middle East. The Tory Realpolitik faction--from Brent Scowcroft to Larry Eagleburger--can still find a counsel of prudence, derived from a Saudi-dominated status quo that they don't entirely dislike. The rhetorically colorful Buchanan tendency is intoxicated by its recently discovered anti-imperialism (perhaps we can hope for historically revisionist antifascism to follow?), but caters to a nativist isolationism that is under-represented in the media. Still a fourth group, in some ways plus neocon que le roi, believes that the hinge nation in the celebrated "axis" is actually Iran, where we may even be seeing a revolution from below. By contrast, the tenuous positions of the "peace" movement seem either too insipid or too apologetic or too--well--conservative.

This is exactly right. The neocons' opponents are conservatives. Not just the Buchanan and Scowcroft axis, but the lefty peaceniks as well. They prefer a toxic and degrading and fascistic status quo in the Middle East, and will do anything and everything to keep it as it is. Just pull out our troops and let the place rot. It is the worst conservatism has to offer.

I'm pleased that many on the right have found something proactive to do. It's the reason that I, as a self-proclaimed liberal, wouldn't mind a bit if they came over for to my place for cocktails.

Here We Go

Today's Telegraph reports:

The White House insisted last night that the discovery of empty chemical warheads in Iraq was "proof" that Saddam Hussein had not disarmed and signalled that its case for war would be outlined at the end of the month.

We have not yet crossed the Rubicon. But we're in the boat.

The Evil that Appeasers Do

The Bosnia war was the hinge event in my transition from pacifist to interventionist hawk. It reminded me of what I already knew on some level; that there are worse things than war, and genocidal fascism is one of them.

Watching the war affected my gut, but what ratified the shift was a book by Peter Maass called Love They Neighbor: A Story of War. It is among the rarest of books that should be required reading for the entire human race.

In Chapter Seven, Maass rips the mask from appeasement:

Appeasement is much harder to accomplish than it seems. It is not just a matter of saying to the stronger side, There you go, have what you want, it’s all yours, just sign on the dotted line. The appeaser much accomplish two crucial tasks.

First, the appeaser must, to the greatest extent possible, disguise the fact that he is appeasing. He must portray himself as a peacemaker, as a man who has prevented or ended a war on decent terms. That is why, for example, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, returning from Munich after handing a chunk of Czechoslovakia to Hitler, said in an address from Downing Street on the evening of September 30, 1938, that he had achieved “peace with honor,” and that, as a thankful result, everyone should “go home and get a nice quiet sleep.” He had not appeased; he had kept the peace. Now go to sleep, go to sleep…

Second, the appeaser much persuade the victim to cooperate. Chamberlain was fortunate in this case, because Edvard Benes, the president of Czechoslovakia, had no visible alternative to surrendering the Sudetenland.; his small country could not resist a German blitzkrieg, especially if Britain was on Germany’s side. As a result, Chamberlain was able to present the carve-up of Czechoslovakia as a sort of diplomatic euthanasia that the victim agreed to. He was lucky. If the victim resists, the appeaser is in a bind, because euthanasia turns into murder, and, instead of being a benevolent guide, soothing the victim as it is put to sleep, the appeaser must hold down the screaming victim as the terminal injection is administered. It is a very nasty business.

If you want a lesson on the danger and evil of inaction and appeasement, one that rises above the politics and controversies of the current situation, you can't do much better than this.

The Burden of Pacifism

I protested the Persian Gulf War in the streets of Eugene, Oregon during the opening scene of the current conflict. I was a useful idiot, and I served Saddam. He didn't even pay me, but he would have said thanks if he could. I didn't mean to, and I certainly didn't see it that way at the time. But, that's what happened. Thank God the then-president didn't pay any attention to what I and my fellow peaceniks were saying. If he had, I would be, in my own small way, complicit in evil.

I learned my lesson about pacifism and appeasement during the Bosnia war. I remember well that most conservatives opposed the American intervention against Slobo. And so it seems that the guilt is spread around more or less evenly, with some noteable exceptions.

So when I make these posts, think of me as paying off a karmic debt to the universe. And go read Christopher Hitchens' piece in The Stranger. He makes the essential point:

Reactionaries have a tendency to stick together (and I don't mean "guilt by association" here. I mean GUILT). If the counsel of the peaceniks had been followed, Kuwait would today be the 19th province of Iraq (and based on his own recently produced evidence, Saddam Hussein would have acquired nuclear weapons). Moreover, Bosnia would be a trampled and cleansed province of Greater Serbia, Kosovo would have been emptied of most of its inhabitants, and the Taliban would still be in power in Afghan-istan. Yet nothing seems to disturb the contented air of moral superiority that surrounds those who intone the "peace movement."

Was This Gun Found in the Non-smoking Section?

I'd like to have Hans Blix over for dinner. He's smart, awfully polite, and his English is a lot better than my Swedish. We could have fascinating conversations about world affairs well into the night. He's that kinda guy. But, seriously, I think a French postmodern performance artist outfit would make better weapons inspectors.

The Wall Street Journal says in an editorial today:

Iraq's chemical weapons program is so vast that even Hans Blix can find it.

Yeah, pretty much. The jig's up. Time to roll, folks.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Fascism in Liberal Drag

In The Jerusalem Post, Brett Stephens notes that terrorism, like deviancy, has been defined down. Partly for the simple reason that Yasser Arafat is a brilliant propagandist, pricking the Western conscience for all it's worth.

"This child who is grasping the stone, facing the tank, is it not the greatest message to the world when that hero becomes a shahid [suicide-bomber]?" asked Yasser Arafat in an interview on Palestinian TV last year. "We are proud of them."

Hearing Arafat speak this way of the 12-year-olds so eager for their prepubescent ascent to heaven, one can't help recall scenes from Hitler's last days, when he reviewed his equally youthful troops on the eve of the battle for Berlin. We are proud of them. And watching scenes of Palestinians celebrating wildly in the streets following every successful "military operation" also calls to mind Hitler's willing executioners, toasting one another in banquet halls with beer and champagne at the conclusion of a long day of butchery. Good work, boys! Better rest up for tomorrow.

Why I am Not a Conservative

I’ve received a lot of mail from conservative readers asking why I call myself a liberal. Apparently I don’t seem very liberal to them. (Note that none of my liberal readers have asked me this.) It’s a fair enough question, but it seems these readers have a cartoon caricature of liberals in their heads. (Too much Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, perhaps.)

I spend a lot of time criticizing the radical left, and also the squashy side of liberalism, but I think of myself as a liberal for a variety of reasons.

First, I nearly always side with the Democratic Party on economic issues. I don’t feel like posting this subject very often because it gets tedious, but that’s where I am.

I’m also a staunch environmentalist, even by the standards of the Pacific Northwest where I live.

Human rights are now and have always been extremely important, which is one of the reasons I want Saddam’s regime taken down.

Abortion gives me the creeps and I don’t think—at this point in my life, anyway—that I could ever consent to the procedure if my wife were to become pregnant. But there have been times when I might very reluctantly and regrettably have done so had the need arisen, and I was relieved that the option was available.

I am religiously agnostic, and am viscerally repulsed by religious fundamentalism of every variety. Perhaps this makes it easier for me to rail against Islamofascism when some of my liberal friends have a hard time with it. Regardless, being an "unbeliever" and "infidel" I have no choice but to align myself with the tolerant Religious Left and liberal secular humanism. The Christian Coalition makes no secret of the fact that I am an enemy it despises. Much of the rhetoric from the American Christian Right in general is hostile to “unbelievers” such as myself, and often hostile to gays, feminists, Jews, Catholics, and other religious minorities as well. I know many conservative Christians don’t feel this way, but the leadership of the Christian Coalition sure does, and the Republican Party establishment bows before it on bended knee.

I’ll not be misunderstood here. I am not equating fundamentalist Christianity and Islamofascism. The actions and behavior of Osama bin Laden and Pat Robertson are worlds apart, and I am very well aware of that. Nevertheless, Jerry Falwell, the two Pats (Robertson and Buchanan) and their pals spit the most venomous hatred at people like me. I take it personally. And I have far too much respect for myself to have anything to do with them or to give them any excuse whatsoever. Unless and until the Republican Party deals squarely with religious bigotry in its ranks, I’m staying out of it.

I am strongly anti-communist, and this seems to confuse some conservatives. But, look: Liberalism is much older than Marxism, and will certainly last longer. Some liberals have been soft on communism, true. But please don’t forget the Cold War Liberals, and the Scoop Jackson Democrats. I cannot let conservatives get away with pretending they did not, and do not, exist.

My heroes are from the left, not the right. They include the two Roosevelts, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Christopher Hitchens, Salman Rushdie, Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela, and Ralph Nader. There are conservatives I admire and learn from, too. (I’ll list them by name if asked, but you can look at the writers I link on my site for an indication of what kind of person I'm talking about.)

Everyone has to come from one side and tradition or the other, and this one is mine. I like it here, and if my comrades wallow too much in political correctness and pacifism, that simply means I have my work cut out for me, trying to convince them to stop it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

A Flattering Reprint

I just discovered that my article A Liberal's Case for Bush's War was republished by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. For years I have considered myself a friend of the Kurds, insofar as I support their cause wholeheartedly. I am honored that the friendship appears to go both ways now.

Welcome, New Readers

Welcome to all you folks from Andrew Sullivan's place. And thank you, Andrew, for the kind promotion.

A Solution for the Corruption of Language

Good Lord, the governor of Iowa said in a speech that the state needs "information solutions." (Via David Hogberg.) There is a commercial on TV in my neck of the woods for a shoe store called "Foot Solutions." I recently went to Home Depot and a big sign over the paint aisle said "Paint Solutions." I recently heard a modem referred to as a "modem solution."

Please, people. Knock that off.

Plague Vials Found

The Washington Post reports that the missing Bubonic Plague vials have been found. One less thing to worry about. (Via Kathy Kinsley.)

One More Thing to Worry About

The AP reports that samples of Bubonic Plague are missing from Texas Tech University.

Feminism and War

Tim Blair has a great piece in The Australian today about feminism and war. He upbraids the older generation of feminists for refusing to condemn atrocities against women in the Muslim world. (That would put them on the side of the Western patriarchy.)

But younger women, including younger feminists, know whose side they're on.

Recent US polls show women are more in favour of committing ground troops to Iraq than are men. Younger women are especially hawkish: a CNN poll found that 65 per cent of women aged below 49 supported ground troops.

Today's feminist icon isn't sensitive Natasha or peacenik Sheryl. It's US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, who has called for a "march of freedom in the Muslim world". Marching for freedom in the West is internet commentator Shell Shocking, author of a modern feminist call to arms: "In a post 9/11 world, I feel it's my duty as a woman to wear clingier clothing, flirt more outrageously, have more orgasms and get on top more often. In short, anything that's taboo to the Islamofascists."

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Is Nothing Worth Fighting For?

Kofi Annan says:

I am both optimistic and hopeful that if we handle the situation right and the pressure on the Iraqi leadership is maintained, and the inspectors continue to work as aggressively as they are doing, we may be able to disarm Iraq peacefully without need to resort to war

Oh, come on. All evidence points to war. Anyone with sense can see that. Or is Kofi just supposed to say this stuff to collect his paycheck?

I'd like to see, just once, someone who actually believes Iraq can be disarmed peacefully explain, step by step, how this is supposed to happen. And even if it could happen, is that really the best possible outcome?

Has it ever occurred to Kofi Annan what the people of Iraq might think about this? Here they are, gassed and machine-gunned and tortured for decades, poised at last to be freed and have some kind of halfway decent government. And Kofi does everything he can to throw sand in the gears and keep Saddam in power. Thanks, Kofi, you're a real pal. What fine work you do.

No More Coup-mongering, Please

Christopher Hitchens describes what might happen if there is a coup in Iraq to despose Saddam.

The idea of a coup at the center has always been much more attractive to American officialdom, especially during the Clinton period. And after all, military coups are what the CIA does best. Why, the agency even involved itself in the very coup that helped bring Saddam Hussein to power … but this again raises the limitations of the "regime change" idiom. Another friendly general, perhaps without a mustache but most probably a member of the Sunni minority (if not of the Tikriti minority of the Sunni that gave us Saddam himself) might be ideal from Washington's point of view. If he could conveniently hoist or shoot himself into power in the next few weeks, he could even obviate the need for a messy full-scale intervention. This is what many Iraqi dissidents are calling "the nightmare scenario"—a last-minute thwarting of the project for a totally renovated system. Some of them even refer to it as "Saddamism without Saddam," though that increasingly looks like a contradiction in terms.

Letter from a Fascist

I have not yet posted a disclaimer on this site that says all e-mail is fit to print. And so none of my published mail has the writer's name attached yet. Once the disclaimer goes up, if you send me email like this one, I am going to publish your name.

Well, I couldn't tell from your name, but after reading how
much you lie and how much you want to see Jew War III,
I can tell you're just another lying bloodthirsty bloodsucking kike.
Like you say at Passover "Every generation they rise up against us."
It's coming, joo.

Everyone who writes about politics gets letters from people who hate Jews. But this is the first time anyone has assumed I am Jewish.

For the record, I'm an ex-Christian agnostic. My name is English. One side of my family is Protestant, and the other is Catholic.

How About a Little Liberal Imperialism?

In Mother Jones, George Packer makes the case for liberal "imperialism." (No link available.)

A truly liberal foreign policy starts with the idea that the things American liberals want for themselves and their own country...should be America's goal for the rest of the world as well.


In my experience, poor or oppressed people are more likely to resent America for not using its power enough than for using it too much. Citizens of every war-torn African country ask why we didn't do for them what we did for Kosovo.

The danger to America and the world isn't imperialism. It's isolationism. But American history shows that the isolationists lose the argument in the end.

Celebrity Circus

At the American Music Awards, Sheryl Crow shared her thoughts on foreign policy with the rest of us.

I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems.

So, Sheryl, how was the American republic founded? How, if not through war, were the slaves liberated from the Confederacy? What, exactly, put a stop to the Nazi Holocaust? How did Slobodan Milosovic end up in the slammer in The Hague? Why are girls going to school now in Afghanistan?

Words of advice to celebrities, and everyone else: If you are going to open your mouth in public, please demonstrate that you have at least a vague flickering awareness of what you are talking about.

Out of Somebody Else's Mailbag

Michele Kerr writes a letter to The Weekly Standard and makes a point (except for the Republican part) that I've been arguing for, oh, about ten years now.

The "culture war" isn't driven by unbelievers, who are wrongly given first and second billing in the "secularist" credits. It's a religious clash, and the big player in the game is Christianity--America's majority religion. The Democratic party is not the "Party of Unbelievers." It's the Other Party of Christianity.

Speaking as a Republican agnostic, I object to being drawn into this dispute, much less having the entire dispute blamed on our miniscule percentage of the population. Non-believers have to deal with a 54 percent unfavorable rating and the fact that George W. Bush will never appoint us to the federal bench. Isn't that enough? We'll continue fighting the occasional Supreme Court case and sulk, marginalized, on the sidelines. Let us know what happens when y'all are done arguing about which party God belongs to.

Thanks for that.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Into the Mailbag

From a reader who asked (for obvious reasons) to remain anonymous:

I went to Yale with Bush, thought he was an "idiot," was appalled when
he got elected, but by September 12, 2001, I realized he was doing the
right thing, and was, as you say, on the right side of history.

I'm still a Democrat, and a "social" liberal, but as far as the war
against what I think you rightly called theocratic fascism, I'm
probably to the right of Bush himself.

Palestinian Propaganda in The Washington Post

The Washington Post is generally a good newspaper. So, what on Earth were they thinking when they published an op-ed piece by Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of Yasser Arafat's monstrous police state? I am not even going to bother citing any of the text itself. The most relevant detail is in the title alone. "Israel Won't Let Us Reform."

Oh yeah, sure. Israelis like living next door to a ruthless genocidal regime committed to its destruction.

You know what, Mr. Rabbo? Americans aren't buying The Big Lie anymore. Go hawk it in Europe.

Peaceniks Betray Iraq

Nick Cohen at The Telegraph says the Left is betraying the people of Iraq, whom they lyingly claim to speak for. (Via Charles at LGF.)

The truth is that the overwhelming majority of Iraqi dissidents are an embarrassment to the Left. After enduring misery few of us can imagine, they have discovered that, without foreign intervention, their country won't be freed from a tyrant who matches Stalin in his success in liquidating domestic opponents. Only America can intervene. Therefore an American invasion offers the possibility of salvation.

There's a damnable logic to this that no amount of wriggling can escape. If you say to the Iraqi opposition that America is very selective in its condemnation of dictatorships, they shrug and ask why Iraqis should care. If you say that Iraq shouldn't be liberated from Saddam until Palestinians are liberated from Israeli occupation, they ask if the converse also applies. (It never does, incidentally.) They confront the anti-war movement with the disconcerting thought that there are worse things in the world than George W Bush and American imperialism, and Saddam Hussein and his prison state are among them.

Very well said. A point that is not made nearly often enough.

Who You Gonna Defend?

Jonah Goldberg weighs in on Useful Idiocy.

[I]t's not, as O'Keefe and his useful idiots claim, "oppression" or the killing of innocent men, women and children that rankles the anti-war movement; it's that the United States gets under their skin.

Moreover, they know that the United States (and Israel and the West generally) has a conscience, and they take advantage of that fact. Saddam Hussein, China and the Red Armies of the former Soviet Union would gladly roll their tanks over the screaming bodies of peace activists to achieve their goals.

"Pacifism is objectively pro-fascist," George Orwell wrote in 1942. "This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other."

O'Keefe and his friends are objectively in favor of Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime because they believe he is uniquely worth defending with their bodies. They may be brave, I guess, but they're still idiots, and I'm sure Saddam is grateful for them.

Good old George Orwell. Always relevant.

Bush Decides on Clintonism

Fox News says

Provided North Korea stops its nuclear weapons development, the United States is willing to consider energy aid for the communist country, a U.S. envoy said Monday.

This is exactly what Bill Clinton did in 1994. And conservatives have had a heyday beating him up over it. So I'm really curious if they will dish out to Bush what they gave to Clinton.

Some will, and some won't. Those who do deserve credit. Those who excuse Bush's policy, while bashing Clinton's in the meantime, will be noted.

I, for one, think this is a huge mistake. But, honestly, I don't know what else to do about it. I don't want to advocate a war. Not with the stakes this high. I have a sinking feeling, though, that down the road we'll wish we had gone to war now while the stakes are lower than they might be in the future. I hope I'm wrong.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Orwell Speaks to the Present

I've been thinking and writing a lot lately about anti-Americanism. This phenomenon didn't bother me much before September 11. But after my wife and I visited the smouldering Ground Zero two weeks after the towers collapsed, after seeing for myself the twisted metal and indescribably immense pile of wreckage, after enduring the awful stench from the pit, it's taken on a much greater importance. Not just the "Death to America" ravings of Islamofascist whack jobs, but also the anti-Americanism of people in my own country, especially those on the left, since I am politically left-of-center myself. (Pat Robertson's right-wing ravings are less interesting to me now, since I've studied the man for years and have simply grown tired of him.)

Some people have said that only America has a self-hating class, but it isn't necessarily so, and certainly hasn't always been so.

During World War II, George Orwell wrote a left-wing manifesto called The Lion and the Unicorn. But before he could set out his vision of what he thought the left should do, he took time to isolate what the left was doing wrong. He's writing about the England of 60 years ago, but if you just replace a few choice words, he's writing about America now.

In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box. All through the critical years many left-wingers were chipping away at English morale, trying to spread an outlook that was sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British. It is questionable how much effect this had, but it certainly had some. If the English people suffered for several years a real weakening of morale, so that the Fascist nations judged that they were ‘decadent’ and that it was safe to plunge into war, the intellectual sabotage from the Left was partly responsible. Both the New Statesman and the News Chronicle cried out against the Munich settlement, but even they had done something to make it possible. Ten years of systematic Blimp-baiting affected even the Blimps themselves and made it harder than it had been before to get intelligent young men to enter the armed forces. Given the stagnation of the Empire, the military middle class must have decayed in any case, but the spread of a shallow Leftism hastened the process.

It is clear that the special position of the English intellectuals during the past ten years, as purely negative creatures, mere anti-Blimps, was a by-product of ruling-class stupidity. Society could not use them, and they had not got it in them to see that devotion to one’s country implies ‘for better, for worse’. Both Blimps and highbrows took for granted, as though it were a law of nature, the divorce between patriotism and intelligence. If you were a patriot you read Blackwood’s Magazine and publicly thanked God that you were ‘not brainy’. If you were an intellectual you sniggered at the Union Jack and regarded physical courage as barbarous. It is obvious that this preposterous convention cannot continue. The Bloomsbury highbrow, with his mechanical snigger, is as out-of-date as the cavalry colonel. A modern nation cannot afford either of them. Patriotism and intelligence will have to come together again. It is the fact that we are fighting a war, and a very peculiar kind of war, that may make this possible.

The title of Christopher Hitchens' new book is Why Orwell Matters. I'm surprised Hitchens did not excerpt the above passage. It proves Orwell's relevance as well as anything the man ever wrote.

Everyone interested in this subject should read the entire essay.

Victor Davis Hanson Demolishes Noam Chomsky

I used to read and admire Noam Chomsky. Sorry about that. I make up for it these days by reading Victor Davis Hanson instead.

Here is Hanson in today's Wall Street Journal, commenting on Chomsky.

The superciliousness of the educated knows no end, and may even betray a final anxiety. One million bachelor's degrees are awarded in this country each year, but under the new therapeutic curriculum there is little to guarantee that any of the holders of these certificates can spell a moderately difficult English word or knows which dictator belongs to which enslaved state. And what is true of students is too often true as well of their pretentious professors, as can be seen whenever Noam Chomsky pontificates about war ("Let me repeat: the U.S. has demanded that Pakistan kill possibly millions of people . . .") and in place of references to historical exempla or citations from the literature raves on with "as I have written elsewhere," "there are many other illustrations," "as would be expected," "it would be instructive to seek historical precedents," "as leading experts on the Middle East attest," and all the other loopholes and escape clauses that are the mark not of a learned intellectual but of a calcified demagogue.

Alright, Mugabe, Out of the Pool

Robert Mugabe's last day as dictator of Zimbabwe draws nearer.

Islamofascist Propaganda at The Guardian

Faisal Bodi writes a contemptible screed in The Guardian that says the West, not Islam, is the real enemy of democracy.

The governments of the west decree that liberty is not a fundamental right for Muslims; it is a privilege to be extended in proportion to the degree to which they conform to their prescriptions, especially that of secularisation. The war on terror is part of a campaign to wrench Muslim societies from their religious roots, a phenomenon that has best been explained by Rachid Ghannouchi, a Tunisian Islamist ideologue now exiled in Britain.

So how many things are wrong with this paragraph?

Bush has proclaimed quite publicly that liberty and demcracy are the fundamental rights of all people, everywhere in the world, not just the West. So far, he is the only leader of any country since September 11 to say this publicly and make it part of a policy goal.

As for the war being a campaign to "wrench" Muslim societies from their religious roots, Mr. Bodi confuses the United States with the Soviet Union's conquest of Central Asia, a move America resisted rather fiercely by arming the mujahidin of Afghanistan so they could drive the Soviet invaders out.

Hilariously, this "writer" ("writer" gets scare quotes because this person is merely a propagandist, not a writer) cites a man he describes as an Islamist (i.e., Islamofascist) as an authority on the matter.

This is a new low for The Guardian, a newspaper that is already well-known as a pathetic rag, bursting with anti-American conspiracy theories and crackpot ideology. What's next? Osama bin Laden as a staff columnist?

Cleanup Operation Coming

Saddam isn't the only problem in Iraq. Part of Iraqi Kurdistan is now controlled by Ansar al Islam, yet another gang of Islamofascists. The New York Times reports:

On this side of the lines, the secular Kurdish government rules. On the other, women must wear veils and men must wear beards. Music, alcohol, television and dancing are banned. Ansar's defectors say that men must assemble in mosques for prayer five times each day and that shops cannot display products with labels bearing images of women.

"They have the same program as the Taliban here," Mr. Omar said, crouching behind a wall while distant gunfire echoed on the other side.

Galtieri, He Dead

The former Argentine dictator has kicked the ol' bucket.

Arafat Runs Laps

The New York Times reports that Yasser Arafat is going stir crazy in captivity.

Around and around, hour after hour, Yasir Arafat circles the desk in his office, waiting for the world to come back to him.

Could be a while.

Confined to his compound, ignored by the Americans, Mr. Arafat has grown so frustrated, aides say, that he has taken to long bouts of indoor exercise, beginning with laps around his desk.

Oh, boo hoo...

"He walks around his table for hours, long into the night," said Nabil Shaath, a longtime confidant and the Palestinian Authority's minister for planning. "He goes around and around and around."

Okay, let's give the old man a break. He wants a little more contact with the outside world. Fine. Put his office on the Internet with a streaming video Web cam.

Permalinks are Back

Permalinks are working again. Thanks to David Hogberg for the heads-up.

Permalinks Temporarily Not Working

My permalinks are temporarily not working. Not sure why, but I'm working on it...

And Furthermore...

Additional note to fellow Democrats: Where's a little PC tolerance when you need it? Political correctness is absurd, but it sure beats Jew-hating. If you can't figure that one out, you deserve what's coming to you.

American Jews Unhappy with the Democratic Party

Most American Jews are Democrats and don't care too much for the Republican Party. But rising anti-Semitism on the left and the refusal of so many liberals to condemn Palestinian terrorism is causing liberal Jews a tremendous amount of anguish.

Note to fellow Democrats: Get your act together, or prepare to lose elections for a long time.

The Danger of "Anti-Imperialism"

In today's L.A. Times Henri J. Barkey says Bush has no choice but to liberate Iraq.

The Kurds represent the litmus test of the administration's intentions toward Iraq. Since 1991, they have made the most of the freedom that U.S. enforcement of the northern no-fly zone has provided them. The Kurds have built civic institutions and improved their lives. The two rival governments in the Kurdish areas compete to bring services to their peoples.

It is a stark contrast to the times when Hussein's forces periodically invaded Kurdish regions and destroyed villages, gassed towns, executed tens of thousands and removed whole populations from their ancestral lands. Washington has treated the Kurds dishonorably, betraying them many times. But since the Gulf War, the Clinton and Bush administrations have made commitments to the Kurds that make it impossible for the U.S. to walk away again.

I sure hope he's right. I am a Democrat. I did not vote for Bush. But I've hitched myself to this campaign because it's the right thing to do. Bush's credibility really is on the line here. He'll lose every last drop of support from me (and a whole lot of other people) if he doesn't follow through on this.

I don't worry about imperialism. That's a crackpot conspiracy theory. The real danger here isn't imperialism, but anti-imperialism. Afghanistan needs far more help from us than it is getting. If Bush blows Saddam's regime to pieces and leaves Iraq a smouldering wreck, God only knows what kind of horrors will fester there and slouch toward the West. I think the Administration will get this right. There is already talk comparing a post-war Iraq to the post-war de-Nazification and reconstruction campaigns in Germany and Japan.

I remember well Bush's remark about nation-building being "international social work" that he isn't interested in. And so I hope, I really hope, that he isn't listening at all to the jerks on my left who shriek about "imperialism." If he does, and we botch Iraq, we'll unleash hell.

Product Placement

Need a quick reference to postmodern batcrap? Get the mousepad.

Fashionable Nonsense

Brought to you by the rarified folks at Postmodern Generator.

Reinventing Surrealism: Lyotardist narrative and conceptualist libertarianism

Jacques Y. A. Pickett
Department of Sociolinguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

In the works of Pynchon, a predominant concept is the concept of neotextual consciousness. The primary theme of Werther's[1] essay on subsemiotic rationalism is the role of the poet as participant.

Therefore, several situationisms concerning Lyotardist narrative may be found. In The Crying of Lot 49, Pynchon reiterates conceptualist libertarianism; in Mason & Dixon he examines constructivist neosemiotic theory.

Blah, blah, blah...

Is Israel Real?

Martin Peretz asks a good question in The New Republic.

Warren Christopher wrote last week in The New York Times of terrorist attacks "wreaking havoc in far-flung places such as Indonesia, Kenya, Jordan and Yemen." Maybe I am being myopic, but why didn't he mention Israel in that list, the state that suffers most from this savagery?

Remember, Marty. Zionism is supposed to equal racism. Therefore, Israel's very existence is the incarnation of racism. And since we can't have racism, we can't have Israel. It doesn't exist, or shouldn't exist, and therefore doesn't count.

Oh, and don't forget Taiwan. It doesn't exist, either.

What's Wrong with Germany?

Plenty, according to William Grim. He watched Roman Polanski's new Holocaust film The Pianist in Germany. And after observing the audience reaction to the film he wanted to call in an airstrike on the theater.

He describes a horrible scene where Nazi sadists torture their Jewish victims. Then this:

It`s a sickening scene. It`s the kind of scene that makes you ashamed that your last name is Grim. Hell, it`s the kind of scene that makes you ashamed that you listen to Beethoven. If an American soldier had done the same to a German or Japanese POW he would have been thrown into the brig for life or cashiered out of the service on a Section 8. But there they were, today`s educated, freedom-loving, let`s-all-hold-hands-and-love-one-another Germans, laughing at torture.

If there is a more sickening spectacle than Germans finding humor in what their fathers and grandfathers did to the Jews, if there is a more perfect example of the utter lack of humanity at the core of the German nation, I am unaware of it. There is something terribly wrong with Germany and the German Volk. The German soul is a deep abyss, a fetid, stinking morass that befouls the community of nations.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten