Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 29, 2008

The Moderate Supermajority

My CONTENTIONS colleague Abe Greenwald takes a gloomy view of a new Gallup survey that shows 93 percent of the world’s Muslims are moderates. “We need to find out from one billion rational human beings why they largely refuse to stand up for humanity and dignity instead of cowering in the face of fascist thugs,” he wrote.

First of all, I’d like to agree with Abe’s point that even this sunny survey suggests we still have a serious problem. If seven percent of the world’s Muslims are radical, we’re talking about 91 million people. That’s 65 times the population of Gaza, and three and a half times the size of Iraq. One Gaza is headache enough, and it only took 19 individuals to destroy the World Trade Center, punch a hole in the Pentagon, and kill 3,000 people.

Some of the 93 percent supermajority support militia parties such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the West Bank’s Fatah. So while they may be religious moderates, they certainly aren’t politically moderate.

I’m less inclined than Abe to give the remaining Muslims — aside from secular terror-supporters — too hard a time. I work in the Middle East, and I used to live there. I meet moderate Muslims every day who detest al Qaeda and their non-violent Wahhabi counterparts. I know they’re the overwhelming majority, and a significant number are hardly inert in the face of fascists.

More than one fourth of the population of Lebanon demonstrated in Beirut’s Martyr’s Square on March 14, 2005, and stood against the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that has been sabotaging their country for decades. When I lived in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Beirut, the overwhelming majority of my neighbors belonged to that movement. The international media gave them lots of exposure, but moderate, liberal, secular, and mainstream conservative Muslims elsewhere rarely get any coverage. They are almost invisible from a distance, but it isn’t their fault.

Journalists tend to ignore moderate Muslims, not because of liberal bias or racism, but because sensationalism sells. At least they think that’s what sells.

And reporters often assume extremists are mainstream and “authentic” when they are not. Somehow, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been designated the voice of American Muslims. But CAIR is, frankly, an Islamic wingnut organization with a minuscule membership that has declined 90 percent since September 11, 2001. (More people read my medium-sized blog every day than are members of CAIR.)

The coalition of Islamist parties in Pakistan got three percent of the vote in the recent election. Pakistan’s radicals have made a real mess of the place, but they can’t get any more traction at the polls than Ralph Nader can manage in the United States.

Riots in the wake of the publication of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad was one of the most pathetic “activist” spectacles I’ve ever seen, but the press coverage blew the whole thing way out of proportion. The same gaggle of the perpetually outraged have been photographed over and over again, like the bussed-in and coerced Saddam Hussein “supporters” at rallies in the old Iraq who vanished the instant television cameras stopped rolling. Take a look at the excellent 2003 film Live from Baghdad, written by CNN producer Robert Weiner, and you will see a dramatization of this stunt for yourself.

Last July in Slate Christopher Hitchens busted his colleagues. “I have actually seen some of these demonstrations,” he wrote, “most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn’t be if there was a big, surging mob involved.”

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has been quoted in tens of thousands of articles, but hardly any journalists have ever mentioned, let alone profiled, Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, the liberal Lebanese cleric who outranks Nasrallah in the Shia religious hierarchy and is an implacable foe of both Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Every suicide and car bomber in Iraq gets at least a passing mention in newspapers all over the world while far fewer reporters have ever told their readers about the extraordinary anti-jihadist convulsion that swept the entire populations of Fallujah and Ramadi last year.

Almost no mention is given to the Kurds of Iraq who are just as Islamic as the Arabs in that country, and who purged Islamists root and branch from every inch of their autonomous region. “We will shoot them or break their bones on sight,” one Kurdish government official told me. More people have been murdered by Islamists in Spain than in their region of Iraq in the last five years. Such people can hardly be thought of as passive.

Let us also not forget the mass demonstrations and street battles with government thugs that have been ongoing all over Iran for several years now.

There is, I suppose, a dim awareness that the world’s newest country – Kosovo – has a Muslim majority. But who knows that the Kosovar Albanians are perhaps the most staunchly pro-American people in all of Europe, that they chose the Catholic Mother Theresa as their national symbol, that there was a cultural-wide protection of Jews during the Holocaust? Their leaders told Wahhabi officials from Saudi Arabia to get stuffed when help was offered during their war with the genocidal Milosovic regime in Belgrade.

Radical Islamists are more densely found in parts of the Arab world than most other places, but Arab countries as diverse as Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are nearly Islamist-free. “Nothing Exploded in Tunis or Dubai Today” isn’t a headline, but I think it’s safe to infer from the utter dearth of sensationalist stories from such places that radical Islamism there isn’t much of a problem. It isn’t exactly clear to me what more the people in those countries ought to be doing. I have met hundreds of brave Iraqis who joined the police force and the army so they can pick up rifles and face the Islamists, but the moderate Muslims of countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Mali, and Oman have few resident radicals to stand up against.

There certainly were radicals in Algeria. 150,000 people were killed there during the Salafist insurgency during the 1990s, and the government, military, police, and civilian watch groups have since all but annihilated the jihadists.

The world could use more moderate Muslims who push back hard against the Islamists, but huge numbers already do wherever it is necessary and possible. So far with the exception of Gaza, mainstream Muslims everywhere in the world risk arrest, torture, and death while resisting Islamist governments and insurgencies whenever they arise.

My CONTENTIONS colleague Abe Greenwald takes a gloomy view of a new Gallup survey that shows 93 percent of the world’s Muslims are moderates. “We need to find out from one billion rational human beings why they largely refuse to stand up for humanity and dignity instead of cowering in the face of fascist thugs,” he wrote.

First of all, I’d like to agree with Abe’s point that even this sunny survey suggests we still have a serious problem. If seven percent of the world’s Muslims are radical, we’re talking about 91 million people. That’s 65 times the population of Gaza, and three and a half times the size of Iraq. One Gaza is headache enough, and it only took 19 individuals to destroy the World Trade Center, punch a hole in the Pentagon, and kill 3,000 people.

Some of the 93 percent supermajority support militia parties such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the West Bank’s Fatah. So while they may be religious moderates, they certainly aren’t politically moderate.

I’m less inclined than Abe to give the remaining Muslims — aside from secular terror-supporters — too hard a time. I work in the Middle East, and I used to live there. I meet moderate Muslims every day who detest al Qaeda and their non-violent Wahhabi counterparts. I know they’re the overwhelming majority, and a significant number are hardly inert in the face of fascists.

More than one fourth of the population of Lebanon demonstrated in Beirut’s Martyr’s Square on March 14, 2005, and stood against the Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis that has been sabotaging their country for decades. When I lived in a Sunni Muslim neighborhood of Beirut, the overwhelming majority of my neighbors belonged to that movement. The international media gave them lots of exposure, but moderate, liberal, secular, and mainstream conservative Muslims elsewhere rarely get any coverage. They are almost invisible from a distance, but it isn’t their fault.

Journalists tend to ignore moderate Muslims, not because of liberal bias or racism, but because sensationalism sells. At least they think that’s what sells.

And reporters often assume extremists are mainstream and “authentic” when they are not. Somehow, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been designated the voice of American Muslims. But CAIR is, frankly, an Islamic wingnut organization with a minuscule membership that has declined 90 percent since September 11, 2001. (More people read my medium-sized blog every day than are members of CAIR.)

The coalition of Islamist parties in Pakistan got three percent of the vote in the recent election. Pakistan’s radicals have made a real mess of the place, but they can’t get any more traction at the polls than Ralph Nader can manage in the United States.

Riots in the wake of the publication of Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad was one of the most pathetic “activist” spectacles I’ve ever seen, but the press coverage blew the whole thing way out of proportion. The same gaggle of the perpetually outraged have been photographed over and over again, like the bussed-in and coerced Saddam Hussein “supporters” at rallies in the old Iraq who vanished the instant television cameras stopped rolling. Take a look at the excellent 2003 film Live from Baghdad, written by CNN producer Robert Weiner, and you will see a dramatization of this stunt for yourself.

Last July in Slate Christopher Hitchens busted his colleagues. “I have actually seen some of these demonstrations,” he wrote, “most recently in Islamabad, and all I would do if I were a news editor is ask my camera team to take several steps back from the shot. We could then see a few dozen gesticulating men (very few women for some reason), their mustaches writhing as they scatter lighter fluid on a book or a flag or a hastily made effigy. Around them, a two-deep encirclement of camera crews. When the lights are turned off, the little gang disperses. And you may have noticed that the camera is always steady and in close-up on the flames, which it wouldn’t be if there was a big, surging mob involved.”

Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has been quoted in tens of thousands of articles, but hardly any journalists have ever mentioned, let alone profiled, Sayyed Mohammad Ali El Husseini, the liberal Lebanese cleric who outranks Nasrallah in the Shia religious hierarchy and is an implacable foe of both Hezbollah and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Every suicide and car bomber in Iraq gets at least a passing mention in newspapers all over the world while far fewer reporters have ever told their readers about the extraordinary anti-jihadist convulsion that swept the entire populations of Fallujah and Ramadi last year.

Almost no mention is given to the Kurds of Iraq who are just as Islamic as the Arabs in that country, and who purged Islamists root and branch from every inch of their autonomous region. “We will shoot them or break their bones on sight,” one Kurdish government official told me. More people have been murdered by Islamists in Spain than in their region of Iraq in the last five years. Such people can hardly be thought of as passive.

Let us also not forget the mass demonstrations and street battles with government thugs that have been ongoing all over Iran for several years now.

There is, I suppose, a dim awareness that the world’s newest country – Kosovo – has a Muslim majority. But who knows that the Kosovar Albanians are perhaps the most staunchly pro-American people in all of Europe, that they chose the Catholic Mother Theresa as their national symbol, that there was a cultural-wide protection of Jews during the Holocaust? Their leaders told Wahhabi officials from Saudi Arabia to get stuffed when help was offered during their war with the genocidal Milosovic regime in Belgrade.

Radical Islamists are more densely found in parts of the Arab world than most other places, but Arab countries as diverse as Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates are nearly Islamist-free. “Nothing Exploded in Tunis or Dubai Today” isn’t a headline, but I think it’s safe to infer from the utter dearth of sensationalist stories from such places that radical Islamism there isn’t much of a problem. It isn’t exactly clear to me what more the people in those countries ought to be doing. I have met hundreds of brave Iraqis who joined the police force and the army so they can pick up rifles and face the Islamists, but the moderate Muslims of countries such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Mali, and Oman have few resident radicals to stand up against.

There certainly were radicals in Algeria. 150,000 people were killed there during the Salafist insurgency during the 1990s, and the government, military, police, and civilian watch groups have since all but annihilated the jihadists.

The world could use more moderate Muslims who push back hard against the Islamists, but huge numbers already do wherever it is necessary and possible. So far with the exception of Gaza, mainstream Muslims everywhere in the world risk arrest, torture, and death while resisting Islamist governments and insurgencies whenever they arise.

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Which Is It?

You can read up here, if so inclined, on the back and forth between the Clinton and Obama camps on the topic of the Hillary Clinton “3 a.m.” ad. The visuals made me think it was an ad for kids’ cold medication –the type that are now believed to be totally ineffective. There’s a metaphor for you.

This just confirms that the Clinton campaign has a bad case of message confusion, that affliction which affects campaigns that are losing the lead in a key state and which are continuing to get horrible press. (The solution to the latter, they have convinced themselves, is to yell at the media, accusing them of failing in their professional obligations. Good luck with that one.) The image of the sturdy, dependable and inordinately competent gal with nerves of steel and skilled judgment who is going to protect your kids from terrorists does not somehow seem to mesh with the poor dear who whimpered at the last debate that she was forced by those mean moderators to answer questions first. If you are going to be tough-as-nails defender of the homeland, fine. If you are going to be beleaguered woman up against the forces of injustice and toiling on the night shift, fine. But you really can’t be both. If you try, you leave voters confused, and worse, convinced it is all a contrivance.

All of that said, she is not doing all that poorly in Texas and seems steady in Ohio. It is not inconceivable that she could win one or even both states. But figuring out a coherent message should be first on the to-do list for Wednesday morning, provided she is still in the race.

You can read up here, if so inclined, on the back and forth between the Clinton and Obama camps on the topic of the Hillary Clinton “3 a.m.” ad. The visuals made me think it was an ad for kids’ cold medication –the type that are now believed to be totally ineffective. There’s a metaphor for you.

This just confirms that the Clinton campaign has a bad case of message confusion, that affliction which affects campaigns that are losing the lead in a key state and which are continuing to get horrible press. (The solution to the latter, they have convinced themselves, is to yell at the media, accusing them of failing in their professional obligations. Good luck with that one.) The image of the sturdy, dependable and inordinately competent gal with nerves of steel and skilled judgment who is going to protect your kids from terrorists does not somehow seem to mesh with the poor dear who whimpered at the last debate that she was forced by those mean moderators to answer questions first. If you are going to be tough-as-nails defender of the homeland, fine. If you are going to be beleaguered woman up against the forces of injustice and toiling on the night shift, fine. But you really can’t be both. If you try, you leave voters confused, and worse, convinced it is all a contrivance.

All of that said, she is not doing all that poorly in Texas and seems steady in Ohio. It is not inconceivable that she could win one or even both states. But figuring out a coherent message should be first on the to-do list for Wednesday morning, provided she is still in the race.

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Yet Another Dialogue with China

This week, China agreed to resume its human rights dialogue with the United States.   Beijing broke off the discussions in 2004 after Washington sponsored a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution attacking the Chinese government’s record.  “We are willing to have exchanges and interactions with the U.S. and other countries on human rights on a basis of mutual respect, equality and non-interference in each others’ internal affairs,” said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, after meeting with Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday in the Chinese capital.

China has, off and on, maintained human rights “dialogues” with about a dozen nations.  Beijing always acts as if its participation in these discussions is a favor to the international community, but they actually benefit Chinese autocrats.  The dialogues permit them to maintain the appearance of progress without having to make concessions of any lasting significance.

China, under President Hu Jintao, is suffering under a crackdown that has now lasted a half decade.  The political system in 2008 is more repressive than it was in 1998.  And there is even less room today for political discussion than in 1988.  The Communist Party, incredibly, is moving backward.

This regression coincides with China’s drive to host the Olympics.  In 2001, at China’s final presentation before the International Olympic Committee’s vote, Liu Qi, the head of the country’s bid committee, said “I want to say that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will have the following special features: They will help promote our economic and social progress and will also benefit the further development of our human rights cause.”  It has not worked out that way, however.  As Robin Munro, a veteran human rights campaigner, noted this week, the Chinese government has made a “mockery of promises made.”  Worse, the intensifying crackdown could “become the new normal” in China after the Games are over.  

“China is at a special, historic stage of its development,” said Wang Baodong, a Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington, responding this week to criticisms of his country’s human rights record.  “We do not deny that there are a lot of problems.”  Wang is correct that this is an especially crucial time for China.  While Beijing’s leaders are pushing the country back, the Chinese people are surging forward.  There is more societal change in China than in any other nation at this moment.

The human rights dialogues, if they have any positive effect at all, show the Chinese people that their government fails to meet acceptable standards of conduct and therefore brings shame on their nation.  As such, the discussions promise the same benefit as the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.  Yet the dialogues with China won’t have the same impact until Western presidents and prime ministers are willing to be as forthright about China’s communists as they were about the Soviet ones.

This week, China agreed to resume its human rights dialogue with the United States.   Beijing broke off the discussions in 2004 after Washington sponsored a U.N. Human Rights Commission resolution attacking the Chinese government’s record.  “We are willing to have exchanges and interactions with the U.S. and other countries on human rights on a basis of mutual respect, equality and non-interference in each others’ internal affairs,” said Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, after meeting with Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday in the Chinese capital.

China has, off and on, maintained human rights “dialogues” with about a dozen nations.  Beijing always acts as if its participation in these discussions is a favor to the international community, but they actually benefit Chinese autocrats.  The dialogues permit them to maintain the appearance of progress without having to make concessions of any lasting significance.

China, under President Hu Jintao, is suffering under a crackdown that has now lasted a half decade.  The political system in 2008 is more repressive than it was in 1998.  And there is even less room today for political discussion than in 1988.  The Communist Party, incredibly, is moving backward.

This regression coincides with China’s drive to host the Olympics.  In 2001, at China’s final presentation before the International Olympic Committee’s vote, Liu Qi, the head of the country’s bid committee, said “I want to say that the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will have the following special features: They will help promote our economic and social progress and will also benefit the further development of our human rights cause.”  It has not worked out that way, however.  As Robin Munro, a veteran human rights campaigner, noted this week, the Chinese government has made a “mockery of promises made.”  Worse, the intensifying crackdown could “become the new normal” in China after the Games are over.  

“China is at a special, historic stage of its development,” said Wang Baodong, a Chinese Embassy spokesman in Washington, responding this week to criticisms of his country’s human rights record.  “We do not deny that there are a lot of problems.”  Wang is correct that this is an especially crucial time for China.  While Beijing’s leaders are pushing the country back, the Chinese people are surging forward.  There is more societal change in China than in any other nation at this moment.

The human rights dialogues, if they have any positive effect at all, show the Chinese people that their government fails to meet acceptable standards of conduct and therefore brings shame on their nation.  As such, the discussions promise the same benefit as the Helsinki Final Act of 1975.  Yet the dialogues with China won’t have the same impact until Western presidents and prime ministers are willing to be as forthright about China’s communists as they were about the Soviet ones.

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Two Days in a Row!

That’s right. For a second day running the New York Times does not feature a single Iraq story on its front page. Count ‘em. Not one. Today the lead article is about the recall of a blood thinner drug. Other stories report on a power sharing arrangement in Kenya, the battering Barack Obama is likely to take from Republicans, the loss of American standing in Pakistan because the administration continues to stand behind Musharraf (a rare instance of NYT editorializing that I agree with), the trend among banks to back away from home mortgages, and the return of Russian hockey stars to Russia.

If all hell has to be breaking loose to land a country on the NYT’s front page, I can only conclude that all heaven must be breaking loose in Iraq.

That’s right. For a second day running the New York Times does not feature a single Iraq story on its front page. Count ‘em. Not one. Today the lead article is about the recall of a blood thinner drug. Other stories report on a power sharing arrangement in Kenya, the battering Barack Obama is likely to take from Republicans, the loss of American standing in Pakistan because the administration continues to stand behind Musharraf (a rare instance of NYT editorializing that I agree with), the trend among banks to back away from home mortgages, and the return of Russian hockey stars to Russia.

If all hell has to be breaking loose to land a country on the NYT’s front page, I can only conclude that all heaven must be breaking loose in Iraq.

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Buckley the Conversationalist

Like thousands of others, I suspect, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days watching old Firing Line clips on YouTube. By the time I started watching the show in the 1980’s, it had lost some of its bite and confrontational quality. But in the mid-sixties, Buckley was a spectacular interviewer. “Interviewer” is not quite the right word. He was more of a conversation leader, listening at length to his guests–and then playfully challenging what they just said.

Take this 1969 interview with Noam Chomsky. Buckley allows Chomsky to state his case that all American military interventions are somehow an imperialistic form of terror. But at every turn, Buckley offers skepticism and counterarguments. At one point, Chomsky describes how the Saigon army was the first to advance north over the border to invade the Viet Cong. “Did they run into the refugees fleeing South?” asks Buckley. And he gets that signature smile and glint in his eye that says, “I don’t believe a word you’re saying.”

What I noticed, however, was not Buckley’s magical style, but his ability to take on the substance of someone else’s argument. Compare the interview I just described with the one that Bill Moyers conducted with Chomsky in 1988. Moyers, true to form, is a complete sycophant, letting so many of Chomsky’s idiocies go unchallenged.

Buckley was not a professional interviewer–he rarely conducted an interview in his print journalism. But it is safe to say that there is not a single television journalist today who knows how to interview someone while challenging the premise of their argument. Russert likes to trip people up by showing old clips of something they once said. But not once has he every shown the ability to listen to someone’s argument and provide a coherent refutation. Buckley did this every week. It’s a television art form that no longer exists.

Like thousands of others, I suspect, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days watching old Firing Line clips on YouTube. By the time I started watching the show in the 1980’s, it had lost some of its bite and confrontational quality. But in the mid-sixties, Buckley was a spectacular interviewer. “Interviewer” is not quite the right word. He was more of a conversation leader, listening at length to his guests–and then playfully challenging what they just said.

Take this 1969 interview with Noam Chomsky. Buckley allows Chomsky to state his case that all American military interventions are somehow an imperialistic form of terror. But at every turn, Buckley offers skepticism and counterarguments. At one point, Chomsky describes how the Saigon army was the first to advance north over the border to invade the Viet Cong. “Did they run into the refugees fleeing South?” asks Buckley. And he gets that signature smile and glint in his eye that says, “I don’t believe a word you’re saying.”

What I noticed, however, was not Buckley’s magical style, but his ability to take on the substance of someone else’s argument. Compare the interview I just described with the one that Bill Moyers conducted with Chomsky in 1988. Moyers, true to form, is a complete sycophant, letting so many of Chomsky’s idiocies go unchallenged.

Buckley was not a professional interviewer–he rarely conducted an interview in his print journalism. But it is safe to say that there is not a single television journalist today who knows how to interview someone while challenging the premise of their argument. Russert likes to trip people up by showing old clips of something they once said. But not once has he every shown the ability to listen to someone’s argument and provide a coherent refutation. Buckley did this every week. It’s a television art form that no longer exists.

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Thanks, Harry

Since the end of the Vietnam War, America has allowed herself to celebrate as war heroes only those men and women who were injured or killed in action. The victorious battle hero has vanished from public consciousness. This is a big problem. As Navy SEAL Captain Roger Lee Crossland put it in an excellent 2004 piece:

We help our enemies by default, by allowing lesser images to be presented as substitutes. Everyone knows the name Jessica Lynch. She wore her country’s uniform, went willingly to her duty in Iraq, and suffered grievous injuries, but does she qualify to be known first among those who served in this war? We have brushed aside battlefield resolution and action—which should be foremost—and allowed the image of victimization and suffering to take its place.

With this in mind, it’s worth paying tribute to Prince Harry and his service with the coalition forces in Afghanistan. The young man (who hardly fits the anti-war crowd’s cartoon of an uneducated and destitute victim with his back to the wall) volunteered to place his gut in the dirt and take up arms against the scourge of the planet. The Daily Mail reports that Harry killed 30 Taliban. Can we take a moment to applaud this? Can we applaud a selfless act of heroic determination in this country? And could we please do it more often for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces? Strangely, we’re at a point where warriors aren’t to be celebrated for protecting civilians. Captain Crossland has some insight on this:

Heroism, by definition, implies a superior quality for a moment in time. A hero, therefore, is a superior individual by virtue of superior conduct, and the politically correct will not countenance that. No one is superior to anyone else, nothing is better than anything else, no cause is greater than any other. The United States is not exceptional, nor are U.S. causes. Victims, on the other hand, are perfectly politically correct.

Harry is incalculably better than the thugs he disposed of in Afghanistan. The very least we can do is to acknowledge this. The preservation of our of our own moral and cultural frameworks depends on the decisive and unapologetic action of people such as him. Thanks, Harry!

Since the end of the Vietnam War, America has allowed herself to celebrate as war heroes only those men and women who were injured or killed in action. The victorious battle hero has vanished from public consciousness. This is a big problem. As Navy SEAL Captain Roger Lee Crossland put it in an excellent 2004 piece:

We help our enemies by default, by allowing lesser images to be presented as substitutes. Everyone knows the name Jessica Lynch. She wore her country’s uniform, went willingly to her duty in Iraq, and suffered grievous injuries, but does she qualify to be known first among those who served in this war? We have brushed aside battlefield resolution and action—which should be foremost—and allowed the image of victimization and suffering to take its place.

With this in mind, it’s worth paying tribute to Prince Harry and his service with the coalition forces in Afghanistan. The young man (who hardly fits the anti-war crowd’s cartoon of an uneducated and destitute victim with his back to the wall) volunteered to place his gut in the dirt and take up arms against the scourge of the planet. The Daily Mail reports that Harry killed 30 Taliban. Can we take a moment to applaud this? Can we applaud a selfless act of heroic determination in this country? And could we please do it more often for the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces? Strangely, we’re at a point where warriors aren’t to be celebrated for protecting civilians. Captain Crossland has some insight on this:

Heroism, by definition, implies a superior quality for a moment in time. A hero, therefore, is a superior individual by virtue of superior conduct, and the politically correct will not countenance that. No one is superior to anyone else, nothing is better than anything else, no cause is greater than any other. The United States is not exceptional, nor are U.S. causes. Victims, on the other hand, are perfectly politically correct.

Harry is incalculably better than the thugs he disposed of in Afghanistan. The very least we can do is to acknowledge this. The preservation of our of our own moral and cultural frameworks depends on the decisive and unapologetic action of people such as him. Thanks, Harry!

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Bookshelf

• William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote books as easily as most people write letters, and most of them, not at all surprisingly, have proved to be of ephemeral interest. Such is the near-inevitable fate of the journalist, who writes not for posterity but for the immediate moment. Bill had a different kind of claim on posterity’s attention. But I suspect that some of his essays will also prove to have a lasting life as will at least one of his bonafide books, Cruising Speed: A Documentary. Published in 1971, Cruising Speed is a present-tense diary of a single, randomly chosen week in Bill’s phenomenally hectic life, written on the fly as a kind of literary experiment. It is, so far as I know, sui generis, a genre all to itself save for the companion volume, Overdrive, that Bill wrote in 1983, at which time Norman Podhoretz succinctly described the rules of the game in a glowing review that appeared in COMMENTARY:

Like Cruising Speed (1971) before it, Overdrive is an account of a single, and presumably typical, week in Buckley’s life. Everything he does or that happens to him in the course of that week is recorded, along with such background information or reminiscence as is needed to make the present moment fully intelligible. The form, in other words, is a journal, but one that differs from the usual journal in being frankly and deliberately written for publication.

I liked Overdrive very much, but its publication inevitably detracted from the uniqueness of Cruising Speed, which seemed and seems to me the most aesthetically satisfying piece of writing that Bill ever did, just as it conveys his wholly original personality more fully and precisely than anything else he wrote. He was not by nature an introspective man—that was why he never succeeded in writing the systematic exposition of conservative philosophy that had long been his great goal—but a journalist pur sang, and in Cruising Speed he miraculously found a way to tease art out of his unreflective hastiness.

The book’s most striking passage comes at the very end, when Bill pauses for a moment to consider a letter he had just received from “Herbert,” a friendly left-wing historian who urged him to turn from his incessant public pursuits and spend more time in intellectual contemplation. “What will be your thoughts,” Herbert wrote, “if when you come to your deathbed you look back and realize that all your life amounted to no more than one big highly successful game of power and self-glorification?”

The letter brought Bill up short, and caused him to ask of himself the hard questions that can be found in the penultimate paragraph of Cruising Speed:

Herbert is hauntingly right—c’est que la vérité qui blesse—what are my reserves? How will I satisfy them, who listen to me today, tomorrow? Hell, how will I satisfy myself tomorrow, satisfying myself so imperfectly, which is not to say insufficiently, today; at cruising speed?

I have been no less haunted by that passage ever since I first read it many years ago. It never occurred to me to ask Bill about it—I didn’t know him well enough—but I wondered whether he still asked himself the same questions. Certainly he was asking them in 1983, for Overdrive contains an equally striking sentence on a similar theme: “The unexamined life may not be worth living, in which case I will concede that mine is not worth living.”

It goes without saying that Bill’s life was worth living: he was one of the greatest public figures to come along in my lifetime, and one of the most consequential journalists of the century. But the fact that he should have thought to question the ultimate value of his own crowded life—and that he had the courage to do so in public—says something deeply moving about his own essential seriousness.

• William F. Buckley, Jr., wrote books as easily as most people write letters, and most of them, not at all surprisingly, have proved to be of ephemeral interest. Such is the near-inevitable fate of the journalist, who writes not for posterity but for the immediate moment. Bill had a different kind of claim on posterity’s attention. But I suspect that some of his essays will also prove to have a lasting life as will at least one of his bonafide books, Cruising Speed: A Documentary. Published in 1971, Cruising Speed is a present-tense diary of a single, randomly chosen week in Bill’s phenomenally hectic life, written on the fly as a kind of literary experiment. It is, so far as I know, sui generis, a genre all to itself save for the companion volume, Overdrive, that Bill wrote in 1983, at which time Norman Podhoretz succinctly described the rules of the game in a glowing review that appeared in COMMENTARY:

Like Cruising Speed (1971) before it, Overdrive is an account of a single, and presumably typical, week in Buckley’s life. Everything he does or that happens to him in the course of that week is recorded, along with such background information or reminiscence as is needed to make the present moment fully intelligible. The form, in other words, is a journal, but one that differs from the usual journal in being frankly and deliberately written for publication.

I liked Overdrive very much, but its publication inevitably detracted from the uniqueness of Cruising Speed, which seemed and seems to me the most aesthetically satisfying piece of writing that Bill ever did, just as it conveys his wholly original personality more fully and precisely than anything else he wrote. He was not by nature an introspective man—that was why he never succeeded in writing the systematic exposition of conservative philosophy that had long been his great goal—but a journalist pur sang, and in Cruising Speed he miraculously found a way to tease art out of his unreflective hastiness.

The book’s most striking passage comes at the very end, when Bill pauses for a moment to consider a letter he had just received from “Herbert,” a friendly left-wing historian who urged him to turn from his incessant public pursuits and spend more time in intellectual contemplation. “What will be your thoughts,” Herbert wrote, “if when you come to your deathbed you look back and realize that all your life amounted to no more than one big highly successful game of power and self-glorification?”

The letter brought Bill up short, and caused him to ask of himself the hard questions that can be found in the penultimate paragraph of Cruising Speed:

Herbert is hauntingly right—c’est que la vérité qui blesse—what are my reserves? How will I satisfy them, who listen to me today, tomorrow? Hell, how will I satisfy myself tomorrow, satisfying myself so imperfectly, which is not to say insufficiently, today; at cruising speed?

I have been no less haunted by that passage ever since I first read it many years ago. It never occurred to me to ask Bill about it—I didn’t know him well enough—but I wondered whether he still asked himself the same questions. Certainly he was asking them in 1983, for Overdrive contains an equally striking sentence on a similar theme: “The unexamined life may not be worth living, in which case I will concede that mine is not worth living.”

It goes without saying that Bill’s life was worth living: he was one of the greatest public figures to come along in my lifetime, and one of the most consequential journalists of the century. But the fact that he should have thought to question the ultimate value of his own crowded life—and that he had the courage to do so in public—says something deeply moving about his own essential seriousness.

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Hillary’s Had It With Change

Hillary Clinton has given up on “change.” Her new TV ad features the angelic faces of various children sleeping in their homes while the White House phone rings with some pending emergency. Here’s the voiceover:

Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It’s three A.M. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

So much for “if you’re ready to make a change, I’m ready to lead,” and “I embody change.” And so much for the youth vote. This one’s strictly for the parents and grandparents. As Obama has cut deep into the ranks of Hillary’s “pantsuit army,” her touting of establishment credentials is probably a smart move. She never had a shot of her beating Obama as an outsider candidate. And just as he’s embraced the charge of being fresh and substance-free, she should own her Beltway status and advertise her A-list rolodex. (That the names in the rolodex haven’t done her much good lately and that her connections are more cocktail-party than war-room is a different story.)

However, there has not been a single Hillary campaign gambit that doesn’t fall cleanly into one of two categories: the low-blow boomerang or the too-little-too-late. This image shift is decidedly of the latter variety. If she had only picked up all the emergency calls that came in over the past few months, she’d be in far better shape.

Hillary Clinton has given up on “change.” Her new TV ad features the angelic faces of various children sleeping in their homes while the White House phone rings with some pending emergency. Here’s the voiceover:

Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it’s someone who already knows the world’s leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It’s three A.M. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

So much for “if you’re ready to make a change, I’m ready to lead,” and “I embody change.” And so much for the youth vote. This one’s strictly for the parents and grandparents. As Obama has cut deep into the ranks of Hillary’s “pantsuit army,” her touting of establishment credentials is probably a smart move. She never had a shot of her beating Obama as an outsider candidate. And just as he’s embraced the charge of being fresh and substance-free, she should own her Beltway status and advertise her A-list rolodex. (That the names in the rolodex haven’t done her much good lately and that her connections are more cocktail-party than war-room is a different story.)

However, there has not been a single Hillary campaign gambit that doesn’t fall cleanly into one of two categories: the low-blow boomerang or the too-little-too-late. This image shift is decidedly of the latter variety. If she had only picked up all the emergency calls that came in over the past few months, she’d be in far better shape.

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Defending Samantha Power, Again

I see that neither Noah Pollak at CONTENTIONS nor Paul Mirengoff at Powerline is convinced by my defense of Samantha Power. I don’t want to belabor the point, but I would like to clarify my argument.

I don’t disagree with them on the merits of Power’s views on Israel and the Middle East. As they know, I am hardly a fan of the “peace process” or of détente with Tehran (although I have suggested in the past that it would make sense to offer to normalize relations with Iran in return for a cessation of its nuclear program and support of terrorism).

What I really objected to is the argument made by Pollak and some other critics that Power is part of a “disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel.” That is a serious charge that needs to be handled with great care and hauled out only in the most dire circumstances because accusing someone of harboring “hostile views of Israel” is only a step or two removed from accusing them of harboring hostile views of Jews.

That conclusion is one that I think can be justifiably drawn about some people, such as John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Jimmy Carter. Their vociferous, over-the-top criticism of Israel and the “Israel Lobby” borders on paranoia and displays not just sloppy reasoning and factual mistakes but also active animus toward Israel, and perhaps toward Jews in general. (See Eliot Cohen’s article on Mearsheimer/Walt, and Kenneth Stein’s piece on Carter.)

On the other hand, there are many, many advocates of the “peace process” such as Dennis Ross and Bill Clinton (to say nothing of Shimon Peres and other Israelis) who have never displayed the slightest animus toward Israel. I think we can take it as given that their advocacy is driven by a desire to help, not hurt, the Jewish state. Their policy advice can and should be criticized, but their motives should not be questioned.

Into which category does Samantha Power fall? The first fact to note about her is how little she has had to say on the subject of the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. She is not an expert on the Middle East and does not pretend to be one. The criticisms of her are based on a handful of comments mainly made in response to questions from interviewers. That in itself is significant, because those who are driven by a real animus toward Israel tend to be outspoken and vociferous on the subject.

I don’t find any of the comments made by Power and cited by critics as being anywhere remotely close to anything that Mearsheimer/Walt or Carter have said. To take just one example, the attempts to twist a very ambiguous response to a question in this interview into evidence that, in Powerline’s words, “Power has blamed deference to Israel and the ‘special interests’ that support Israel for the U.S. intervention in Iraq” leaves me unconvinced to say the least. Read the whole answer in context for yourself and see what you think.

Apparently Pollak agrees with me that Power is not “animated by ‘anti-Israel’ sentiment, whatever that might entail.” I’m happy to hear it. That’s really all I was driving at: Let’s debate on the merits without questioning the other side’s motives except in extreme cases, of which this is not one.

I see that neither Noah Pollak at CONTENTIONS nor Paul Mirengoff at Powerline is convinced by my defense of Samantha Power. I don’t want to belabor the point, but I would like to clarify my argument.

I don’t disagree with them on the merits of Power’s views on Israel and the Middle East. As they know, I am hardly a fan of the “peace process” or of détente with Tehran (although I have suggested in the past that it would make sense to offer to normalize relations with Iran in return for a cessation of its nuclear program and support of terrorism).

What I really objected to is the argument made by Pollak and some other critics that Power is part of a “disturbing number of foreign policy advisers to the Obama campaign who harbor hostile views of Israel.” That is a serious charge that needs to be handled with great care and hauled out only in the most dire circumstances because accusing someone of harboring “hostile views of Israel” is only a step or two removed from accusing them of harboring hostile views of Jews.

That conclusion is one that I think can be justifiably drawn about some people, such as John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, and Jimmy Carter. Their vociferous, over-the-top criticism of Israel and the “Israel Lobby” borders on paranoia and displays not just sloppy reasoning and factual mistakes but also active animus toward Israel, and perhaps toward Jews in general. (See Eliot Cohen’s article on Mearsheimer/Walt, and Kenneth Stein’s piece on Carter.)

On the other hand, there are many, many advocates of the “peace process” such as Dennis Ross and Bill Clinton (to say nothing of Shimon Peres and other Israelis) who have never displayed the slightest animus toward Israel. I think we can take it as given that their advocacy is driven by a desire to help, not hurt, the Jewish state. Their policy advice can and should be criticized, but their motives should not be questioned.

Into which category does Samantha Power fall? The first fact to note about her is how little she has had to say on the subject of the Middle East in general and Israel in particular. She is not an expert on the Middle East and does not pretend to be one. The criticisms of her are based on a handful of comments mainly made in response to questions from interviewers. That in itself is significant, because those who are driven by a real animus toward Israel tend to be outspoken and vociferous on the subject.

I don’t find any of the comments made by Power and cited by critics as being anywhere remotely close to anything that Mearsheimer/Walt or Carter have said. To take just one example, the attempts to twist a very ambiguous response to a question in this interview into evidence that, in Powerline’s words, “Power has blamed deference to Israel and the ‘special interests’ that support Israel for the U.S. intervention in Iraq” leaves me unconvinced to say the least. Read the whole answer in context for yourself and see what you think.

Apparently Pollak agrees with me that Power is not “animated by ‘anti-Israel’ sentiment, whatever that might entail.” I’m happy to hear it. That’s really all I was driving at: Let’s debate on the merits without questioning the other side’s motives except in extreme cases, of which this is not one.

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What Financial Action?

The Financial Action Task Force to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering has just issued its latest statement on Iran. It welcomes “the commitment made by Iran to improve its AML/CFT regime” but still advises its members and their financial institutions to apply “enhanced due diligence” in dealing with Iran due to its “deficiencies.” According to media reports, one of these deficiencies is that Iran’s money-laundering legislation is still wanting. A second is Iran’s lack of legislation combating terror financing:

Iran has, to our knowledge, no law in place at the moment dealing with terrorist financing,” task force executive secretary Rick McDonell told The Associated Press. “It has one in relation to money laundering–very recently–but that’s deficient.”

But this is, with all due respect to FATF and its members, quite inaccurate. Iran does have a law dealing with terrorist financing: the annual state budget.

The Financial Action Task Force to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering has just issued its latest statement on Iran. It welcomes “the commitment made by Iran to improve its AML/CFT regime” but still advises its members and their financial institutions to apply “enhanced due diligence” in dealing with Iran due to its “deficiencies.” According to media reports, one of these deficiencies is that Iran’s money-laundering legislation is still wanting. A second is Iran’s lack of legislation combating terror financing:

Iran has, to our knowledge, no law in place at the moment dealing with terrorist financing,” task force executive secretary Rick McDonell told The Associated Press. “It has one in relation to money laundering–very recently–but that’s deficient.”

But this is, with all due respect to FATF and its members, quite inaccurate. Iran does have a law dealing with terrorist financing: the annual state budget.

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Daisy Ad 2008

Hillary Clinton’s newest ad is the latest in the tradition of LBJ’s “Daisy” ad and Ronald Reagan’s “Bear in the Woods” spot. The problem is that the answer to the question it poses is . . . John McCain. After all, are Hillary’s national security credentials and expertise that much greater than Barack Obama’s?

Hillary Clinton’s newest ad is the latest in the tradition of LBJ’s “Daisy” ad and Ronald Reagan’s “Bear in the Woods” spot. The problem is that the answer to the question it poses is . . . John McCain. After all, are Hillary’s national security credentials and expertise that much greater than Barack Obama’s?

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An Anti-War “Teach-In” at the CIA?

Historians Against the War was formally founded at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Its statement of purpose can be found on its website:

As historians, teachers, and scholars, we oppose the expansion of United States empire and the doctrine of pre-emptive war that have led to the occupation of Iraq. We deplore the secrecy, deception, and distortion of history involved in the administration’s conduct of a war that violates international law, intensifies attacks on civil liberties, and reaches toward domination of the Middle East and its resources.

Taking a leaf from the anti-Vietnam war movement, Historians Against the War sponsors “teach-ins” on college campuses across the United States in which radical professors offer their view on such subjects as U.S. imperialism and the Bush administration’s “assault on the U.S. Constitution and civil liberties.”

On April 9, 2003, one such teach-in was held at Temple University in Pennsylvania, where one such radical professor, Richard Immerman, took part. As I have noted in the Weekly Standard, in a recently “scholarly” article in Diplomatic History, the journal of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, Immerman recounts how the Bush administration, in leading the United States into the war in Iraq, made “every effort to ‘cook the books,’ . . . ‘hyped’ the need to go to war, and . . . lied too often to count.” He calls Bush and his cabinet members “cognitively impaired and politically possessed.”

Such views would all be completely unremarkable if Immerman were just a mere–and all too typical–professor at a second-tier university. But he is not. He has gone on to greater glory. Last September, he was appointed to the position of “assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic integrity and standards” and “ombudsman” inside the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the top intelligence body in the United States. In that slot he is in charge of ensuring the “analytic integrity” of American intelligence reports.

One question I have about this whole affair is whether Immerman has been taking part in or organizing “teach-ins” against the war inside the intelligence community in institutions like the CIA. Another question is what his colleagues and superiors think. To answer that second one, I’ve been contacting various top spies and seeking their comments. Here is what one senior intelligence official, who did want his name used, told me:

His assertions are way off base. His statements are not only biased, they are baffling. It’s troubling and it raises all sorts of questions. If someone who holds these views was selected for that particular position, it makes you wonder what the other candidates looked like.

It is mildly heartening that not everyone within the intelligence world thinks like Immerman, although at the same time the failure of anyone, including Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, to speak out publicly is profoundly discouraging.

We are in the middle of a war in which intelligence is the most critical front. The elevation of an obscure, radical, anti-war professor to be responsible for the “analytic integrity” of U.S. intelligence reports raises a question that after September 11, 2001, we should not be having to ask: is this country serious about intelligence or not?

Historians Against the War was formally founded at the 2003 annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Its statement of purpose can be found on its website:

As historians, teachers, and scholars, we oppose the expansion of United States empire and the doctrine of pre-emptive war that have led to the occupation of Iraq. We deplore the secrecy, deception, and distortion of history involved in the administration’s conduct of a war that violates international law, intensifies attacks on civil liberties, and reaches toward domination of the Middle East and its resources.

Taking a leaf from the anti-Vietnam war movement, Historians Against the War sponsors “teach-ins” on college campuses across the United States in which radical professors offer their view on such subjects as U.S. imperialism and the Bush administration’s “assault on the U.S. Constitution and civil liberties.”

On April 9, 2003, one such teach-in was held at Temple University in Pennsylvania, where one such radical professor, Richard Immerman, took part. As I have noted in the Weekly Standard, in a recently “scholarly” article in Diplomatic History, the journal of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, Immerman recounts how the Bush administration, in leading the United States into the war in Iraq, made “every effort to ‘cook the books,’ . . . ‘hyped’ the need to go to war, and . . . lied too often to count.” He calls Bush and his cabinet members “cognitively impaired and politically possessed.”

Such views would all be completely unremarkable if Immerman were just a mere–and all too typical–professor at a second-tier university. But he is not. He has gone on to greater glory. Last September, he was appointed to the position of “assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic integrity and standards” and “ombudsman” inside the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the top intelligence body in the United States. In that slot he is in charge of ensuring the “analytic integrity” of American intelligence reports.

One question I have about this whole affair is whether Immerman has been taking part in or organizing “teach-ins” against the war inside the intelligence community in institutions like the CIA. Another question is what his colleagues and superiors think. To answer that second one, I’ve been contacting various top spies and seeking their comments. Here is what one senior intelligence official, who did want his name used, told me:

His assertions are way off base. His statements are not only biased, they are baffling. It’s troubling and it raises all sorts of questions. If someone who holds these views was selected for that particular position, it makes you wonder what the other candidates looked like.

It is mildly heartening that not everyone within the intelligence world thinks like Immerman, although at the same time the failure of anyone, including Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, to speak out publicly is profoundly discouraging.

We are in the middle of a war in which intelligence is the most critical front. The elevation of an obscure, radical, anti-war professor to be responsible for the “analytic integrity” of U.S. intelligence reports raises a question that after September 11, 2001, we should not be having to ask: is this country serious about intelligence or not?

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Gulf News: “Obama Is Good for Israel”

Everyone who was on the fence about the Obama-Israel question can now breathe easy. “Obama is good for Israel.” Or so reads the headline of an editorial in yesterday’s Gulf News, a major newspaper in the United Arab Emirates. The writer is Patrick Seale, who was a friend of the late Syrian dictator Hafiz Assad and who tried to pin the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Israel. Here are some highlights from Seale’s endorsement:

At an anti-war rally in Chicago on October 26, 2002, [Obama] declared: “What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration, to shove their own ideological agenda down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne”.

Perle was then chairman of the Pentagon’s advisory Defence Policy Board and Wolfowitz was deputy Secretary of Defence. As everyone knows, their “ideological agenda” was to enhance Israel’s strategic environment by overthrowing and “reforming” Arab regimes.

They were, indeed, among the leading advocates of the view that the Arab world needed to be reshaped and remodelled by the power of the United States in order to suit Israeli strategic needs.

Name by Jewish name, Seale castigates the evil neocons before getting to why Obama is the best man for the Jewish state:

Is not overseeing Israel’s peaceful integration into the Arab world far better for its long-term security and prosperity than Bush’s bankrupt policies of making war on Iraq, threatening Iran and Syria, encouraging Israel’s wars on Hezbollah and Hamas – policies which have done nothing but create a thirst for revenge and hate for the US and Israel throughout the Arab and Islamic world, and beyond?

So: Obama will oversee “Israel’s peaceful integration into the Arab world” and there will be no more of “Israel’s wars on Hezbollah and Hamas.” I see no evidence that Obama is of like mind with Seale (though I’m not sure he’d be as outraged by these sentiments as one would like, considering they’re identical to the kind of things one hears from this country’s Left). The important thing is that this is Obama’s image in the anti-Semitic world: a toothless, jihad-friendly corrective to George Bush. Every liberal who’s ever complained that President Bush has done untold damage to American soft power should consider the views of papers such as the Gulf News. And every friend of Israel should be worried.

Everyone who was on the fence about the Obama-Israel question can now breathe easy. “Obama is good for Israel.” Or so reads the headline of an editorial in yesterday’s Gulf News, a major newspaper in the United Arab Emirates. The writer is Patrick Seale, who was a friend of the late Syrian dictator Hafiz Assad and who tried to pin the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Israel. Here are some highlights from Seale’s endorsement:

At an anti-war rally in Chicago on October 26, 2002, [Obama] declared: “What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, and other arm-chair, weekend warriors in this Administration, to shove their own ideological agenda down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne”.

Perle was then chairman of the Pentagon’s advisory Defence Policy Board and Wolfowitz was deputy Secretary of Defence. As everyone knows, their “ideological agenda” was to enhance Israel’s strategic environment by overthrowing and “reforming” Arab regimes.

They were, indeed, among the leading advocates of the view that the Arab world needed to be reshaped and remodelled by the power of the United States in order to suit Israeli strategic needs.

Name by Jewish name, Seale castigates the evil neocons before getting to why Obama is the best man for the Jewish state:

Is not overseeing Israel’s peaceful integration into the Arab world far better for its long-term security and prosperity than Bush’s bankrupt policies of making war on Iraq, threatening Iran and Syria, encouraging Israel’s wars on Hezbollah and Hamas – policies which have done nothing but create a thirst for revenge and hate for the US and Israel throughout the Arab and Islamic world, and beyond?

So: Obama will oversee “Israel’s peaceful integration into the Arab world” and there will be no more of “Israel’s wars on Hezbollah and Hamas.” I see no evidence that Obama is of like mind with Seale (though I’m not sure he’d be as outraged by these sentiments as one would like, considering they’re identical to the kind of things one hears from this country’s Left). The important thing is that this is Obama’s image in the anti-Semitic world: a toothless, jihad-friendly corrective to George Bush. Every liberal who’s ever complained that President Bush has done untold damage to American soft power should consider the views of papers such as the Gulf News. And every friend of Israel should be worried.

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McCain Gets Some Help

John McCain has begun vigorously engaging Barack Obama on the subject of Obama’s proposed immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. As reported by abcnews.com, he got a major assist yesterday from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who stated that:

[a] rapid of withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a “chaotic situation” and would “turnaround the gains we have achieved, and struggled to achieve, and turn them around overnight. Admiral Mullen’s comments came in a response to a question about what the Joint Chiefs are doing to prepare for a new president, given that two of the candidates have called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. “We need to be prepared across the board for what a new president will bring,” Mullen said. “I do worry about a rapid withdrawal. . . [that would] turn around the gains we have achieved and struggled to achieve and turn them around overnight.” Asked to define a “rapid withdrawal,” Mullen said, “a withdrawal that would be so fast that it would leave us in a chaotic situation and the gains we have achieved would be lost.” That said, Mullen added: “When a new president comes in, I will get my orders and I will carry them out.”

Obama would certainly like to talk in the general election about the initial decision to go to war, which has been a winning issue in his primary fight with Hillary Clinton. In light of polling which shows a lopsided majority of Americans believe that the war was a mistake or not worth the cost, this seems a smart tactic. McCain intends to cast this, in essence, as crying over spilt milk. As he put it “That’s history, that’s the past. . . . What we should be talking about is what we are going to do now.”

Indeed the “what do we do now” issue was much discussed in the last presidential election year. Back then, when Colin Powell subscribed to the “pottery barn” analogy (you break it, you pay for it), he was widely praised. Democrats had no problem when John Kerry said this in the 2004 presidential debate:

Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we’re there. We have to succeed. We can’t leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was. Now, we can succeed.

For Obama and much of the Democratic base, that was then and this is now. Meanwhile, McCain hopes that the adage that “elections are about the future and not the past” holds true here.

John McCain has begun vigorously engaging Barack Obama on the subject of Obama’s proposed immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. As reported by abcnews.com, he got a major assist yesterday from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who stated that:

[a] rapid of withdrawal from Iraq would lead to a “chaotic situation” and would “turnaround the gains we have achieved, and struggled to achieve, and turn them around overnight. Admiral Mullen’s comments came in a response to a question about what the Joint Chiefs are doing to prepare for a new president, given that two of the candidates have called for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. “We need to be prepared across the board for what a new president will bring,” Mullen said. “I do worry about a rapid withdrawal. . . [that would] turn around the gains we have achieved and struggled to achieve and turn them around overnight.” Asked to define a “rapid withdrawal,” Mullen said, “a withdrawal that would be so fast that it would leave us in a chaotic situation and the gains we have achieved would be lost.” That said, Mullen added: “When a new president comes in, I will get my orders and I will carry them out.”

Obama would certainly like to talk in the general election about the initial decision to go to war, which has been a winning issue in his primary fight with Hillary Clinton. In light of polling which shows a lopsided majority of Americans believe that the war was a mistake or not worth the cost, this seems a smart tactic. McCain intends to cast this, in essence, as crying over spilt milk. As he put it “That’s history, that’s the past. . . . What we should be talking about is what we are going to do now.”

Indeed the “what do we do now” issue was much discussed in the last presidential election year. Back then, when Colin Powell subscribed to the “pottery barn” analogy (you break it, you pay for it), he was widely praised. Democrats had no problem when John Kerry said this in the 2004 presidential debate:

Yes, we have to be steadfast and resolved, and I am. And I will succeed for those troops, now that we’re there. We have to succeed. We can’t leave a failed Iraq. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a mistake of judgment to go there and take the focus off of Osama bin Laden. It was. Now, we can succeed.

For Obama and much of the Democratic base, that was then and this is now. Meanwhile, McCain hopes that the adage that “elections are about the future and not the past” holds true here.

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