Saturday, July 26, 2003
Why the Hitch Beats the Rest of 'Em
Here's a snip from an interview with Christopher Hitchens, just back from Iraq.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, VANITY FAIR: Well, I had been there earlier this year in late March, in fact, on the southern border, briefly. And I remember then that the whole mind set of the press, you may remember it, was that it was a quagmire. It is a better story. Remember that week when Donald Rumsfeld seemed to have lost the plot? Most of my colleagues thought, “Well, that reads better.” And I remember that mentality when I was there recently. I was in north and south and central Iraq. The press is still investing itself, it seems to me, in a sort of cynicism. It comes out better for them if they can predict hard times, bogging down, sniping, attrition.
And so if no one is willing to take the gamble, as they see it, of saying actually that it's going a lot better than it is, but it is. It's quite extraordinary to see the way that American soldiers are welcomed. To see the work that they're doing and not just rolling up these filthy networks of Baathists and Jihaddists, but building schools, opening soccer stadiums, helping people connect to the Internet, there is a really intelligent political program as well as a very tough military one.
GIBSON: You know, Christopher, we never hear about that.
GIBSON: Are they really rebuilding the schools, and rebuilding hospitals and rebuilding soccer ...
HITCHENS: I'm serious. I don't consider myself to be that credulous. I'm very sales resistant, in fact. In Mosul where I was, I left too early. I left on Monday early. If I waited 12 hours, I could have been there [when Uday and Qusay were killed]. But they weren't just very confident about the amount of information they were being given and the number of informers and tips that were coming to them. They had more, they told me, than they could sift about that. But one of the palaces, for example, that Saddam built, he'd stolen the land for from Mosul University.
Mosul is the site of a very famous old Iraqi university. The American forces were refurbishing the place. They were going to tear down some of the outer walls, give this palace to the university. They'd also connected the university to the Internet and to the Web. Helped people contact scholars on the outside world. That was all the job of these very good- humored, very thoughtful officers who were really helping to rebuild the place.
GIBSON: You know, Christopher ...
HITCHENS: I felt a sense of annoyance that I had to go there myself to find any of that out.
Read the rest.
Egypt loves Sharon?
I wonder what backroom pressure led to this.
CAIRO - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Saturday Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was the only Israeli politician capable of forging peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
"If he has the desire for a solution, I think he is the only one, and I don't think there is anybody else apparent on the Israeli political scene," said Mubarak, whose country has played a major role in Israeli-Palestinian peace making.
Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. I doubt it, but I don't know. It's not very likely that Hosni Mubarak believes it. But he said so to a group of Egyptian students in Alexandria.
Did somebody have a nice little chat about the 2 billion dollars in aid money we give Egypt every year?
Friday, July 25, 2003
During the Iraq war I raised the eyebrows of some of my friends when I bluntly described the Arabic language TV station Al Jazeera as "enemy propaganda."
Here's what Iraqi blogger Salam Pax says about Al Jazeera today.
I still have hopes for the day they catch Saddam. Maybe we will have our street party then.
And I would like to add that Jazeera is the worst ever. They should be banned under Mullah Bremer’s Fatwa banning all pro-saddam/pro-ba’ath propaganda. That political analyst they have, something al-ani, is a fucking saddamite.
The Two Faces of American Liberalism
Two of the most malignant and cruel mass murderers, rapists and torturers to ever walk the earth have departed the planet – and the left sneers. [I added this link. -MT]
There was a time – I can remember it clearly, though it seems a lifetime ago – when “liberals” were people who fought for humanity and human rights, people who despised murder and torture. Now, wherever we look, the people who call themselves the most “liberal” seem to be the sole remaining defenders of murder, rape and torture.
The results of our contest to find liberals who were actually happy about Uday and Qusay Hussein's death are in, and I'm pleased to report that many self-identified liberals did indeed have worthy things to say.
They're both right. Some sneered, others cheered.
Joe has a list of links
to those who know who the bad guys are, including yours truly.
Thanks, Joe. And thanks to the rest who know who and what to cheer for.
UPDATE: Some people are more defensive than necessary. Hesiod Theogony writes:
I'd appreciate it if you publicly apologizing for, essentially, calling me a "defender of murder, rape and torture."
If you had taken more than three seconds to read my blog [and many posts on it] you'd know that was absolutely untrue. Especially the particular post you link to.
I am assumming you are completely ignorant about what I posted, and what I stand for, so am just asking you politely to stop mischaracterizing that link to me you have on your blog, and to apologize for unfairly labelling me a "defender of murder, rape and torture."
Not only that, for the sake of your own credibility, it makes sense. When people click on that link, and read what I actually wrote, they will not think very highly of your powers of description or honesty.
So, if you don't want to do it out of common courtesy, do it out of your own self-interest.
Hesiod: I added that link because you sneered, not because I think you defended murderers. (You did not defend Uday and Qusay.) The link text says "the left sneers," which is exactly what you did.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Quote of the Day
From Merde in France who blogs from, well, France of course.
Remember Americans, you are hated here. Hated more than the worst terrorists and murderers.
The Poisoned Fruit of Anti-Americanism
No more do I want to hear that Europeans are more sophisticated than Americans.
Here's the latest.
BERLIN, July 23 (Reuters) - Almost one in three Germans below the age of 30 believes the U.S. government may have sponsored the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, according to a poll published on Wednesday.
In Europe the lunatic fringe is going mainstream.
Maddening as this is, I really do worry for them. I'm beginning to think something terrible might happen over there.
I have an American friend who lives in Belgium, and he recently came by for a visit. I asked him why he thinks Europe is becoming such a dark place all of a sudden, and I must admit I wasn't prepared for his answer.
He said Europe has always been a dark place and it hasn't changed at all.
UPDATE: A couple of readers emailed and accused me of hyperbole. Fair enough. This German conspiracy theory isn't the mainstream.
Even so, I don't think it's right to compare German gullibility to American gullibility by pointing out, for example, that lots of Americans falsely believe Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11 attacks.
There is a qualitative difference between believing Saddam was behind an attack on America and believing that the American government was behind an attack on America.
It is at least plausible that Saddam had something to do with it, even though he didn't. The idea that the US government committed that deed is insane.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Quote of the Day
Andrew Apostolou: Americans, they do not do things by halves. They knock you off, then they have a slide show to explain how they did it.
Personal Note to Stephen Meyer
I am unable to email you. I've tried several times to respond to your several letters to me, but my emails always get bounced back. It happens whether I write to you from my yahoo account or my private account.
Call tech support.
Letter from an Iranian in the US
Here's a strong letter I got in my inbox this morning.
In response to Religious Tolerance in the US and France by Ronald Gans published on your site, I like to add not only France but most European countries lack tolerance towards religion and ethnic diversity. From my travels in Europe I have come to one conclusion, this beautiful region still has a long way to go before she understands and accepts humans come in every race and religion. Jewish or Muslim, Indian or South American, if you are not European white, you will be psychologically and socially raped.
Sheema blogs about Iran
, and it is well worth your time to read what she has to say.
Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed in Iraq yesterday.
Andrew Apostolou found one guy in Iraq who isn't happy about it.
Uday Hussein whipped and clubbed Alaa Hamed. But the TV producer was still sorry to hear Saddam Hussein's vicious elder son might have been killed.
''I don't want him dead. I want to torture him first,'' Hamed told Reuters as he recalled the beatings with cables and clubs whenever he made technical errors at Uday's television station.
Meanwhile, back in America, you can read this thread
on CalPundit's site to get a whole smorgasbord of interesting opinions. They range from Woo Hoo!
to Who Cares?
to It was a war crime
Count me in the Woo Hoo!
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Warning to the Democratic Party.
You have a serious problem.
Gerard Van Der Leun:
[W]ith the single exception of Rudolph Giuliani , I have never voted for a Republican in my life.
And yet…I am unwilling to consign thousands of my countrymen to death in order to bring the current crop of Democrats back into power. Call me cynical and unsupportive of a Democrat's right to hold any sort of power at this time, but that's just the way I feel.
in the Comments section at Winds of Change:
I realized the other day that I didn't want the Democrats to win, especially with the path they are pursuing. I don't trust them on national security matters. In fact, I think they need to be taught a lesson. I'm a liberal and I'm beginning to hate the other "liberals".
over at Roger L. Simons’s place
Roger L. Simon
I have made the horrible observation that if you are a classic liberal you are now a Republican. The intolerance, the anti-Semitism, the fascist shutdown of all debate (the current Cal Poly fiasco) make it impossible to be a Democrat.
What happend to the "I'll defend to the death the right to...."? The Left is a horror show.
The Democrats should start looking for some more interesting candidates than the pack of low-rent losers they are presently proffering…. Or this lifetime Democrat is going to sit this one out. (And I'm certain I won't be the only one.)
, in The New Republic:
Dean and his supporters simply fail to face up to the unpleasant fact that the Democratic Party has a national security credibility problem that, if not solved, will be politically fatal.
When asked which party can better defend against terrorism, the public consistently gives the GOP an enormous edge. If Democrats cannot whittle away at this gap, they face an insuperable obstacle to winning the presidency, however unpopular or unsuccessful Bush's domestic policies may be.
There are plenty of hanging by a thread Dems like myself who wonder "can my party be saved?"
The entire structure of the WMD debate makes me ashamed to be on the Left.
George W. Bush is truly the president, and soon once more the candidate, of the finest ideals of the liberal Left, and this blog accordingly supports him.
says the Democratic Party as it’s found by its friend sprawled on the men’s room floor with a hypodermic needle sticking out of its arm. I don’t have a problem. Whatcha talkin’ about?
Get a grip, Dems. Leftists and liberals are leaving.
UPDATE: Armed Liberal says I Want My Party Back
Sunday, July 20, 2003
The UN and Democracy
Kofi Annan on democracy in Iraq:
Democracy should not be imposed from the outside.
Well, regime-change is a fact on the ground, so there are only two other options left at this point. We could install another dictator. Or we could leave and watch the strongest thug kill his way into power.
This is why the UN should have nothing to do with rebuilding Iraq (or any other country, for that matter.) It would grease the skids for another dictatorship because it is categorically against
Why can't the UN fetishists see this? They can't be against democracy, at least not those in this country. So, why is the UN exalted so much? It does not do what its admirers think it does.
Terror and Liberalism
I've said before that Paul Berman's Terror and Liberalism is the best 9/11 book I've read yet. It's especially refreshing, for me anyway, because it was written by a left-winger on the editorial board of Dissent magazine, which is many orders of magnitude to the left of The New Republic, let alone The Weekly Standard.
Berman's ultimate point is straightforward. "Freedom for others means safety for ourselves. Let us be for the freedom of others."
Tony Blair makes the same point, though it takes him a little bit longer.
There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify around an idea. And that idea is liberty.
We must find the strength to fight for this idea and the compassion to make it universal. Abraham Lincoln said, "Those that deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves." And it is this sense of justice that makes moral the love of liberty.
In some cases where our security is under direct threat, we will have recourse to arms. In others it will be by force of reason. But in all cases, to the same end, that the liberty we seek is not for some, but for all, for that is the only true path to victory in this struggle.
And so Tony Blair puts himself squarely in the same left-liberal tradition as Paul Berman. And Christopher Hitchens and Franklin Roosevelt and George Orwell, too, for that matter.
The funny thing that almost no one seems to notice is that George W. Bush is now the standard-bearer for this view. September 11 changed him more than it changed anyone else. He simply could not be bothered with this sort of thing before the towers fell down in Manhattan.
His detractors accuse him of veering sharply to the right, but he's actually swung hard to the left.
He has. Bush is no Kissinger "realist," no status-quo "conservative," no right-wing stability junkie. He's in Paul Berman's camp, for God's sake.
Berman didn't switch sides here. He loathes Bush, and he doesn't appear to have changed his mind lately about anything. It was George W. who jumped the fence.
I'm sure this sounds crazy to lots of people. Bush is a leftist? Come on. Get a grip.
I know, I know. I'm not saying he's moved to the left in every way, just in this one way. But if you look at Bush from a purely partisan perspective, either as a supporter or a detractor, you won't be able to see this. He isn't Rush Limbaugh. He has become too complicated to fit any reductionist label. (The same was true for Bill Clinton, by the way, and it's also true for most people these days, not the least myself.)
If you think I'm nuts, that's cool. But Oliver Kamm knows what I'm talking about. Scroll down to his essay Bush and the Left
, and follow it up with this
by Dr. Frank.)
UPDATE: At least one reader agrees.
I don't think you're nuts :)
But then I'm somebody who is probably pretty similar in political outlook on these issues to yourself.
I too have recently read Paul Berman's book and think it is a very important little book, one which deserves to be widely read, especially by people on "the left".
As Paul Berman writes, it is past time for a battle of ideas to confront this totalitarianism of the Islamists.
Thus it is indeed ironic that George Bush is in many respects leading the way. I'm sure there could be better standard-bearers but, until they all wake up, Go George!
I can't quite bring myself to say "Go George!" (I have to live with his domestic policies, Richard.) But I am glad he gets this right.
UPDATE: Oliver Willis disagrees
. He makes good points about Bush preserving the old order of the Saudis. But I don't think we're in a position to do a regime-change there. The people wouldn't feel liberated if we did. Iraq is probably the only Arab country traumatized enough to let us stay. Nation-building in any other Arab country would be a whole lot dicier. And Iraq is dicey enough. We can't save everybody, but when we can, we should, especially in the Middle East. Because we won't be safe until it is free.
Copyright 2003 Michael J. Totten
Unless you request otherwise, all email is fit to print. Hate mail may be printed regardless, and your name may be included.
"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Screenwriter, film director, novelist
"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere
Syndicate This Site
Solicit an Article
Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button.
Click here for details.
Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect
The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly
In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic
Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly
The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine
Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review
The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly
England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn