Michael J. Totten

Friday, June 13, 2003

Dispensing with the BS

It sure didn't take long for the society-wide Mideast reality check to kick in this time.
I think we'll be seeing a lot more of this from the left in the near future. Here is Daniel at Reason of Voice.

Once again, it's clear that the Palestinians have been offered everything short of shoving the Jews into the sea and their terrorist groups have chosen for them ---- for continued death.

I've been so slow to come around to this, hoping that there was a 'silent majority' of Palestinians who would realize the horror that they, and the Israelis, have borne particularly since Oslo in 2000 and demand a different route. I had hoped the Abbas would show the courage to lead and take on Hamas and other terrorist organizations head-on, and give his people a hope for peace. I was wrong.

The road map is dead. I only wish the Israeli Defense Forces godspeed and stay safe. Do what you have to in order to defend your land and your homes.

The Cratering Times

The editors of the New York Times are advised to remember the First Rule of Holes. When you're in one, stop digging.

The hole becomes a crater with this editorial on the Middle East "road map."

As soon as the new Middle East peace initiative was announced, it was clear that violence by its opponents would follow.

The deadliest blows so far have come from Palestinian terrorists. Yesterday, a Hamas suicide bomber killed at least 16 people and wounded nearly 100 on a rush-hour bus in central Jerusalem.

So far, so good.

But the gravest political damage is being done by Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, whose reflexive military responses to terror threatens to undermine the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the moderate new Palestinian prime minister.

There they go again, blaming the victim. Genocidal terrorism is bad, but anti-terrorism is so much worse.

And what kind of authority does Mahmoud Abbas have? He is a Holocaust denier. He says he refuses to fight terrorism under any circumstances whatsoever. There is no excuse for the New York Times or anyone else to support or respect this man.

Nobody expects Israel to tolerate terror against its people.

This is a weasel sentence. In the same editorial the New York Times says Israeli anti-terrorism is worse than terrorism itself, which is in fact worse than expecting Israel to tolerate terror. Not only should Israelis tolerate terror, it is a crime if they don't.

But terror can be more effectively rooted out if responsible Palestinian leaders like Mr. Abbas are strengthened, not undermined.

What makes Mr. Abbas “responsible?” The Times doesn’t say. The assertion is not backed up with facts or logic because it is impossible to do so.

Instead, they say the terror dictator’s power must be strengthened. By Israel! The victims of terrorism must strengthen the terrorists.

Dumping Jayson Blair and Howell Raines will not rescue this newspaper.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Israel stubbornly insists on existing, and the Israeli Defense Forces have been ordered to completely wipe out Hamas.

Vicious Harold Pinter

Andrew Stuttaford calls British playwright Harold Pinter a "vicious bastard."

Here's why.

The playwright Harold Pinter last night likened George W Bush's administration to Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, saying the US was charging towards world domination while the American public and Britain's "mass-murdering" prime minister sat back and watched.

Pinter, 72, was at the National Theatre in London to read from War, a new collection of his anti-war poetry that had been published in the press in response to events in Iraq.

In conversation on stage with Michael Billington, the Guardian's theatre critic, Pinter said the US government was the most dangerous power that had ever existed.

There is no point in punishing you by excerpting any more of it.

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro leads a massive protest in Havana against the European Union.

Fidel Castro, in a four-hour television appearance on Wednesday night, blamed Spain and Italy for the 15-member EU's decision last week to end high-level visits to the Caribbean island, reduce cultural exchanges and invite Castro opponents to receptions at its Havana embassies.

Castro singled out Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in Wednesday night's address, calling him "a little Fuehrer with a mustache and Nazi-fascist ideology."

Well, look at that. Both Pinter and Castro are calling Western liberal democrats "Nazis" within two days of each other.

But that's no accident, you see. Harold Pinter is an active delegate in the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, which actively promotes Fidel Castro's vile dictatorship.

Vicious bastard, indeed.

UPDATE: Regarding Castro's swipe at Italy, Pierluigi Miraglia emails:

He would not have been substantially wrong had he limited his invective to Italy: the Berlusconi government is supported by the current reincarnation (called Alleanza Nazionale) of what used to be the frankly neo-fascist Movimento Sociale party. His is the 1st post-WWII Italian govt coalition to include the neofascists.

BTW, although I have a very low regard for Berlusconi, I think the EU would do well to exert a much firmer hand with Castro (also Berlusconi enjoys a deservedly low reputation in Euro circles, so I don't think he had much to do with the new attitude in Cuba-Euro relations). But I thought you might appreciate the irony.

At least the Italian party was elected, unlike El Comandante. But, yeah nice irony, Castro singling out the more moderate government as the "Nazi" one.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

The Root

There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. - Henry David Thoreau

The "roadmap to peace" for Israel and Palestine is a farce. It is the institutionalization of surrender. Israelis are told by the entire world, including President Bush, that they must lie down and let the terrorists kill them. They are told they have no right to defend themselves. Israelis must trust their security to the dictatorship bent on destroying them.

The Muslims of Bosnia were similarly told they must be slaughtered by Serbs without resisting. An arms embargo was enacted to ensure they had no means to fend off their tormentors. Then as now, nearly every country on Earth was complicit in the slaughter of innocents.

The Bosnia “peace accords” were a spectacular failure which resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 Bosnians. Emboldened by the West’s appeasement, Slobodan Milosovic turned his gunsights onto the Muslims of Kosovo. Peace was not possible until the Clinton Administration said enough was enough and bombed the hell out of Serbia.

The Middle East “roadmap” will fail for the same reason the Bosnian “peace accords” failed, only on a much faster schedule. Bosnians were not physically capable of defending themselves, but at least they could hope to be saved by their liberal Western sympathizers. Israelis are well-armed, and they know an anti-Semitic planet will never come to their rescue.

The patience of the Israeli public will snap, if it hasn’t already. The center will not hold. The intolerable status quo will not be maintained because there will be few in Israel willing to maintain it.

Americans are less anti-Semitic than any other people outside Israel itself, and we empathize with our fellow victims of terror. And so Americans will firmly support Israel when it finally, at very long last, does what we all know deep down needs to be done.

Peace will have a chance in the aftermath of a brief and total war. The Palestinian regime will be demolished. The Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas will be killed in battle, hunted down, put on trial, and imprisoned forever. Europeans will scream, and it will be ugly. The Arab street will explode, and it will be frightful. The Palestinians will accept a political solution at the point of a bayonet. They will not say “no” because they will not be given a choice. Then they might get their state.

Until then, explosions and shootings and funerals will continue with distressing and relentless regularity. Talk of “peace” will sound more and more hallucinatory.

Oh, and most Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza will eventually be uprooted. Their long-term viability is as illusory as the "right of return" and the "road map."

Question Neither Authority Nor Reality

Egyptian reactionaries have banned The Matrix.

CAIRO (AFP) - The Hollywhood science fiction hit movie Matrix Reloaded has been banned in Egypt for threatening to offend traditional religious views on the creation of humankind, the chief censor revealed.

The director of artistic censorship, Madkur Thabet, said that "despite its excellent technical level, the film was banned because it deals with subjects like human existence and creation.

"And these are questions linked to the three monotheistic religions that we respect and which we believe in," Thabet added. "These questions have in the past provoked crises and tension."

He said the decision was taken by a "committee of university professors and cinema experts."

Psuedo-intellectual questions in a comic-book movie produce "crises and tension." The pious folks on the Arab Street might briefly wonder if they're brains in vats, triggering riots, mayhem, and the toppling of the state.

I'm trying to imagine a committee of university professors and "cinema experts" in America banning a science-fiction movie because it might offend conservative Christians. It is thankfully rather difficult.

I gotta admire Mr. Thabet's audacity when he claims Egyptians respect and believe in Judaism. The fundamentalist government censor posing as a pluralist liberal inclusivist. Slick.

And I can't help but notice this viciously anti-Semitic regime at leasts pretends to respect Judaism more than it respects atheism. As a non-believer myself, it tells me everything I need to know about their opinion of infidels like me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Imperialism, Democratic and Otherwise

On Monday I wrote to Joe Katzman that we need a new word for robust humanitarian intervention, and "colonialism" just doesn't work for me.

Joe suggests moral imperialism instead.

It's certainly an improvement. The 20th Century round of imperialism was anything but moral. So at least a distinction is made.

I still don't like it, though, for two reasons.

First, "imperialism" is a dirty word, as it should be. It's not as bad as "fascism" or "communism," but it's nearly as bad, especially since fascist and communist countries were often themselves imperialist. The British Empire had some good things going for it, but the Soviet and Japanese Empires were only detestable.

Also, "moral imperialism" could be used to describe Al Qaeda's jihad. I wouldn't describe it that way, but a theocratic Islamist might. The restoration of the lost Caliphate could be justified (not by me) because it would bring the "morality" of fundamentalist Islam to the infidels.

"Democratic imperialism" is better than "moral imperialism" for that reason. No theocratic fascists could use that phrase to describe themselves. It could only be used to describe intervention from liberal democracies.

"Nation-building" may cause an allergic reaction on the American right. To which I must say: Get over it. It, too, may not be just right, but I can't think of anything better right now.

Death of the Left?

Sean LaFreniere is among the swelling legion of disgruntled liberals. His family gathering last weekend was torched by an argument about Iraq with his hard-left academic relatives. Sean's conclusion: The Left is Dead. Rest in peace. He even provides a tombstone.

(Sean: The left won't be dead for long. We'll be the new left majority soon enough.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Hate Mail

Over the weekend I said I wanted to put a stop to African genocide. Today I took a stand against John Ashcroft, Iraqi fascism, and anti-Semitism. All of which apparently prompted this letter titled "Hate Mail."

i am going to delete you site from my computer.
we don't share any common values.
good luck and good bye.
april chu at laguna beach, california

We don't share any common values at all? That is most unfortunate.

Ashcroft Shrugs

Richard Cohen on our Attorney General:

Ashcroft has a serious attitude problem.

That attitude was on display when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee. The AG was asked about a report from his own inspector general criticizing the way in which the Justice Department had treated 762 illegal immigrants locked up and detained after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. None of them -- that's precisely zero -- was ever linked to terrorist activities.

Yet some of them were held incommunicado for months. Either they were refused lawyers or so many obstacles were put in their way that it amounted to the same thing. They were denied visitors. Some were held in solitary confinement, verbally harassed and threatened and, on occasion, allegedly physically manhandled. To all of this, Ashcroft responded with a shrug. "We make no apologies," he said -- and, of course, he asked for additional death penalties in terrorism cases.

Being Attorney General means never having to say you're sorry.

"Sorry" doesn't fix these problems. But if he can't even do that much then his power must be stripped and not expanded.

Constructive Criticism

Attacks on US soldiers are increasing in Iraq.

Army commanders say the attacks are locally planned and attribute them to "remnants" of the Baath Party and other supporters of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. While they describe the attacks as the work of a single resistance group, they suspect that some armed fighters may be moving from city to city, looking for vulnerable targets and pressuring the local population to secretly support their activities. They say these fighters appear to be staging hit-and-run actions designed to kill American troops, but not engage them in firefights.

Advice to the Iraqi resistance: Find a new hero. You can only win if the majority of the population supports you. Your neighbors aren't nostalgic for mass graves and prisons just yet.

A Second Holocaust?

About ten years ago I went through a phase where I read a pile of books about the Holocaust. Soon enough I saw ominous signs of a second Holocaust everywhere. It wore off, of course, and I felt silly for being so paranoid. I later decided the odds of such a singular evil happening again were vanishingly close to zero.

How dismaying, then, to read this piece by Ron Rosenbaum and not disagree with it. (Via Roger L. Simon.)

The Second Holocaust. It’s a phrase we may have to begin thinking about. A possibility we may have to contemplate. A reality we may have to witness. Somebody has to think about the unthinkable, about the unbearable, and the way it looks now, it’s at least as likely to happen as not. One can imagine several ways it will happen: the current, terrible situation devolves from slow-motion mutual slaughter into instantaneous conflagration, nuclear, chemical or biological. Scenarios that remain regional. Scenarios that go global.

What is harder to imagine are ways in which it won’t happen. A peace process? Goodwill among men? An end to suicidal fanaticism? In your dreams.

He quotes Philip Roth:

The destruction of Israel in a nuclear exchange is a possibility much less far-fetched today than was the Holocaust itself fifty years ago.

There’s no denying it. I think I know what Holocaust paranoia looks like because I’ve been there myself.

Read the rest of the article. See how Europe is complicit in eliminationist hatred once again.

I am not politically correct. I don’t cry “racism” at the merest whiff of it, and I don’t like people who do. And yet it is clear to me as crystal that Europe is a seething cauldron of hatred. Arabs aren’t the only Jew-haters around. Ron Rosenbaum has their number and he’s one of the few who sees how deep the moral rot goes.

This photo of the French Foreign Minister and the Palestinian terror-master was found via Charles Johnson.

Objective Pro-Fascism

Via Joe Katzman and Beautiful Horizons comes this nasty story from Human Rights Watch.

On May 8, Attorney General John Ashcroft filed an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief for the defense in a civil case alleging that the oil company Unocal was complicit in forced labor and other abuses committed by the Burmese military during the construction of the Yadana gas pipeline. The case, John Doe I, et al. v. Unocal Corporation, et al., was originally filed in 1996 and is currently being reheard by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Justice Department brief went well beyond the scope of the Unocal case, however, and argued for a radical re-interpretation of the 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). For over 20 years, courts have held that the ATCA permits victims of serious violations of international law abroad to seek civil damages in U.S. courts against their alleged abusers who are found in the United States. The Justice Department would deny victims the right to sue under the ATCA for abuses committed abroad.

“This is a craven attempt to protect human rights abusers at the expense of victims,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration is trying to overturn a longstanding judicial precedent that has been very important in the protection of human rights.”

John Ashcroft lost his recent senate election in Missouri to a dead man. He deserved it.

Monday, June 09, 2003

No New Colonialism

Joe Katzman has posted another extensive essay about the Congo. He explains why any international effort to stop genocide is likely to fail unless the operational model is scrapped and replaced with a much older one. I agree with what he says needs to be done, but I don't like the word used to describe it.

He's resurrecting the word "colonialism" here, and it troubles me. I don't see how intervention to stop civil war and genocide can be described as colonial, no matter the rules of engagement used by the intervening power.

Belgium's colonization of the Congo was characterized by resource-rape and slavery. Absolutely no one, least of all Belgium, wants to replay that old movie again. A peacekeeping intervention has precious little in common with the behavior of Western imperialists in the bad old days. Using the same word to describe both is asking for trouble, and it guarantees misunderstanding.

Imperialism and colonialism are to be condemned, not because they are interventionist but because they are cruelly, oppressively so. We need a new operational model of international peacekeeping, and it looks like we need a new word for it, too.

Abbas Shows His Colors

There will be no peace in Israel and the West Bank any time soon. The new "prime minister" refuses to fight terrorism.

RAMALLAH, West Bank - The Palestinian prime minister said Monday he will not use force against militant groups under any circumstances, despite their stated determination to derail a U.S.-backed peace plan with attacks on Israelis, including two weekend shootings that killed five soldiers.

Here's a major part of the problem:

Abbas said he has coordinated every move with Yasser Arafat - a barb at the veteran leader who said in public last week that the summit yielded no achievements.

It's really quite simple.

Hamas wants to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamist Taliban state. Hamas says negotiation with Israel is treason. It is neither possible nor desirable to coexist with such people, not just for Israelis but also (ultimately) for Palestinians who wish to live in a secular and democratic state.

Someone has to defeat or destroy Hamas. If the Palestinian Authority won't do it, Israel will do it for them. And the "road map to peace" is a joke already.

Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten