Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 2008

Samantha Power Revisited

The blogsphere is buzzing once again over Samantha Power’s views on Israel. Power, the influential Obama advisor who had to leave his campaign after calling Hillary Clinton a “monster,” and revealing that the candidate does not really intend to leave Iraq in haste (now we know she was telling the truth), is back. Not a surprise to those even remotely familiar with the Obama circle of advisors.

She’s back, and with her comes concern over her past comments regarding Israel. “Both Ms. Power and [new National Security Advisor] General Jones have supported a role for international forces in the West Bank, whether UN or NATO, a concept that is anathema to even left of center Israelis,” writes the American Thinker. Eric Trager writes in Contentions, “This announcement will likely upset many in the blogosphere – including some of my Contentions colleagues – who previously exposed Power for her foolish statements and writings on Iran, Israel, and Iraq.” (Trager does try to be positive and expresses the hope that Power will play a role “as a key adviser in constructing a diplomatic strategy for providing relief” to Darfur).

Since I was one of few people who had the opportunity to interview Power about her views on Israel, when she was attacked by pro-Israel writers during the campaign (not long before she had to leave) – and since most Power detractors do bother to remind us of all her sins, but refrain from quoting the more reassuring remarks she’s made, I thought it is only fair to go back and refresh readers’ memory.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article I wrote after speaking with her. In this part of the interview, Power addresses the comments she’s made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

In recent weeks, a young and talented writer named Noah Pollak, who writes for the right-wing magazine Commentary, has delved deeply into Power’s statements on record. Among other things, he found the following things she said, in a 2002 interview, about what should be done to stop the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “[It will] mean sacrificing – or investing, I think, more than sacrificing – billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence.”

In that same interview, Power said that the situation will “require external intervention.” Pollak very reasonably interpreted this as an expression of support for a “ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories.” Otherwise, he wrote, what did she mean when she spoke of “a mammoth protection force”?

Power herself recognizes that the statement is problematic. “Even I don’t understand it,” she says. And also: “This makes no sense to me.” And furthermore: “The quote seems so weird.” She thinks that she made this statement in the context of discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers. But this was a very long time ago, circumstances were different, and it’s hard for her to reconstruct exactly what she meant. Anyway, what she she said five years ago is less important that what she wants to say now: She absolutely does not believe in “imposing a settlement.” Israelis and Arabs “will negotiate their own peace.”

The blogsphere is buzzing once again over Samantha Power’s views on Israel. Power, the influential Obama advisor who had to leave his campaign after calling Hillary Clinton a “monster,” and revealing that the candidate does not really intend to leave Iraq in haste (now we know she was telling the truth), is back. Not a surprise to those even remotely familiar with the Obama circle of advisors.

She’s back, and with her comes concern over her past comments regarding Israel. “Both Ms. Power and [new National Security Advisor] General Jones have supported a role for international forces in the West Bank, whether UN or NATO, a concept that is anathema to even left of center Israelis,” writes the American Thinker. Eric Trager writes in Contentions, “This announcement will likely upset many in the blogosphere – including some of my Contentions colleagues – who previously exposed Power for her foolish statements and writings on Iran, Israel, and Iraq.” (Trager does try to be positive and expresses the hope that Power will play a role “as a key adviser in constructing a diplomatic strategy for providing relief” to Darfur).

Since I was one of few people who had the opportunity to interview Power about her views on Israel, when she was attacked by pro-Israel writers during the campaign (not long before she had to leave) – and since most Power detractors do bother to remind us of all her sins, but refrain from quoting the more reassuring remarks she’s made, I thought it is only fair to go back and refresh readers’ memory.

Here are a couple of paragraphs from the article I wrote after speaking with her. In this part of the interview, Power addresses the comments she’s made regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

In recent weeks, a young and talented writer named Noah Pollak, who writes for the right-wing magazine Commentary, has delved deeply into Power’s statements on record. Among other things, he found the following things she said, in a 2002 interview, about what should be done to stop the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: “[It will] mean sacrificing – or investing, I think, more than sacrificing – billions of dollars, not in servicing Israel’s military, but actually investing in the new state of Palestine, in investing the billions of dollars it would probably take, also, to support what will have to be a mammoth protection force, not of the old Rwanda kind, but a meaningful military presence.”

In that same interview, Power said that the situation will “require external intervention.” Pollak very reasonably interpreted this as an expression of support for a “ground invasion of Israel and the Palestinian territories.” Otherwise, he wrote, what did she mean when she spoke of “a mammoth protection force”?

Power herself recognizes that the statement is problematic. “Even I don’t understand it,” she says. And also: “This makes no sense to me.” And furthermore: “The quote seems so weird.” She thinks that she made this statement in the context of discussing the deployment of international peacekeepers. But this was a very long time ago, circumstances were different, and it’s hard for her to reconstruct exactly what she meant. Anyway, what she she said five years ago is less important that what she wants to say now: She absolutely does not believe in “imposing a settlement.” Israelis and Arabs “will negotiate their own peace.”

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The Fifth War

“India and Pakistan have already fought four wars,” wrote Indian author and journalist Ramachandra Guha last year. “And judging by the number of troops on their borders and the missiles and nuclear weapons to back them, they seem prepared to fight a fifth.” Will we see that fifth war this year?

The odds of another conflict between these two nuclear powers went up last week due to the terrorist strikes in Mumbai resulting in almost 200 deaths. The Pakistanis deny any involvement, but they do so after every incident that occurs within the borders of their large neighbor. In India, the talk is of retaliation against Islamabad after authorities uncovered more links between the terrorists and Pakistan. Yesterday, for instance, the Indians claimed the attackers took their orders directly from someone based inside their arch-enemy. Indian tempers, predictably, are flaring as the government in New Delhi is being blamed for an inadequate response so far.

New Delhi, as a political matter, must do something, particularly after its muted responses to Pakistan-aided incidents, especially an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 and the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this year. The Indians, for instance, could end a five-year cease fire with Pakistan or even launch attacks against militants inside that always-volatile state. Islamabad, for its part, is considering moving troops from the Afghan border in preparation for conflict.

Conflict between India and Pakistan has been limited since 1998, when both nations tested nuclear devices. We assume that the South Asian nations will exercise restraint as they have done in the past, especially because neither evidently wants to be involved in the world’s first nuclear exchange. Yet hatred between the two countries is real, and events could intensify and spiral out of control.

Washington will, as in recent years, intervene to try to keep the peace. Past efforts have been relatively successful, a tribute to subtle Bush administration diplomacy. Yet America’s prior successes have appeared to lay the groundwork for major conflict. First, by preventing a robust Indian response to Pakistani provocations, Washington has been shielding Islamabad from the consequences of its aggressive conduct. Moreover, America’s keeping the peace has only suppressed Indian anger, not eliminated it. So some people in New Delhi are arguing for an especially forceful response this time.

Finally, as Paul Kapur notes in today’s New York Times, Washington’s mediation just convinces each nation it can escalate the situation. “If both sides think they can afford to go closer to the edge because the U.S. is always going to keep them from going over,” the Naval Postgraduate School analyst says, “then they are more likely to edge up to the precipice.” That may be okay when two nuclear-armed adversaries both accept the concept of mutually assured deterrence but highly dangerous when two blood enemies have yet to work out even the basic aspects of their relationship.

“India and Pakistan have already fought four wars,” wrote Indian author and journalist Ramachandra Guha last year. “And judging by the number of troops on their borders and the missiles and nuclear weapons to back them, they seem prepared to fight a fifth.” Will we see that fifth war this year?

The odds of another conflict between these two nuclear powers went up last week due to the terrorist strikes in Mumbai resulting in almost 200 deaths. The Pakistanis deny any involvement, but they do so after every incident that occurs within the borders of their large neighbor. In India, the talk is of retaliation against Islamabad after authorities uncovered more links between the terrorists and Pakistan. Yesterday, for instance, the Indians claimed the attackers took their orders directly from someone based inside their arch-enemy. Indian tempers, predictably, are flaring as the government in New Delhi is being blamed for an inadequate response so far.

New Delhi, as a political matter, must do something, particularly after its muted responses to Pakistan-aided incidents, especially an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001 and the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul earlier this year. The Indians, for instance, could end a five-year cease fire with Pakistan or even launch attacks against militants inside that always-volatile state. Islamabad, for its part, is considering moving troops from the Afghan border in preparation for conflict.

Conflict between India and Pakistan has been limited since 1998, when both nations tested nuclear devices. We assume that the South Asian nations will exercise restraint as they have done in the past, especially because neither evidently wants to be involved in the world’s first nuclear exchange. Yet hatred between the two countries is real, and events could intensify and spiral out of control.

Washington will, as in recent years, intervene to try to keep the peace. Past efforts have been relatively successful, a tribute to subtle Bush administration diplomacy. Yet America’s prior successes have appeared to lay the groundwork for major conflict. First, by preventing a robust Indian response to Pakistani provocations, Washington has been shielding Islamabad from the consequences of its aggressive conduct. Moreover, America’s keeping the peace has only suppressed Indian anger, not eliminated it. So some people in New Delhi are arguing for an especially forceful response this time.

Finally, as Paul Kapur notes in today’s New York Times, Washington’s mediation just convinces each nation it can escalate the situation. “If both sides think they can afford to go closer to the edge because the U.S. is always going to keep them from going over,” the Naval Postgraduate School analyst says, “then they are more likely to edge up to the precipice.” That may be okay when two nuclear-armed adversaries both accept the concept of mutually assured deterrence but highly dangerous when two blood enemies have yet to work out even the basic aspects of their relationship.

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Why Would Anyone Believe Him?

Aluff Benn writes about an exchange George W. Bush reportedly had with Ehud Olmert last week in “Bush to Olmert: Why are you giving Syria the Golan for nothing?”

U.S. President George Bush believes that Israel is offering Syria the Golan Heights without getting anything in exchange, according to sources briefed on his White House meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week.

After Olmert updated Bush on Israel’s indirect talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the U.S. president demanded, “Why do you want to give Assad the Golan for nothing?” the sources said.

“It’s not for nothing,” Olmert insisted. “It’s in exchange for a change in the region’s strategic alignment.”

Bush persisted: “Why should you believe him?” And to that, Olmert did not reply.

More than six years ago, in his landmark June 24, 2002 speech, Bush invited Syria to join the right side in the war on terror:

Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel — including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian suppoies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.

After that, Syria (1) sided with Saddam Hussein just before the 2003 Iraq war, (2) provided refuge in 2003 and thereafter to Ba’athist extremists trying to undermine the new Iraqi government, (3) rejected multiple overtures during 2003-2005 from senior officials of the Bush administration, who repeatedly traveled to Damascus to meet with Asad, (4) was undoubtedly involved in the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, (5) supported Hezbollah in its 2006 war with Israel, (6) has been restocking Hezbollah since 2006 with double or triple the number of rockets it had before, in violation of the UN resolution that ended the war, (7) was building during all this time a secret nuclear facility with the help of North Korea, (8) still seeks nuclear power, (9) has been providing headquarters and safe haven for the leaders of Hamas, (10) has longstanding ambitions to dominate Lebanon, and (11) is ruled by a dictatorial leader who has forged an alliance with an Iran poised to establish hegemony over the region, once the U.S. withdraws from Iraq.

Syria is likely to view more Israeli and U.S. overtures as signs of weakness (and validation of its prior decisions), rather than as an opportunity to reverse a choice it made more than six years ago, and has confirmed multiple times since. And even if Assad were to make reversible promises of peace (or a “change in strategic alignment”), why would anyone believe him?

Aluff Benn writes about an exchange George W. Bush reportedly had with Ehud Olmert last week in “Bush to Olmert: Why are you giving Syria the Golan for nothing?”

U.S. President George Bush believes that Israel is offering Syria the Golan Heights without getting anything in exchange, according to sources briefed on his White House meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week.

After Olmert updated Bush on Israel’s indirect talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the U.S. president demanded, “Why do you want to give Assad the Golan for nothing?” the sources said.

“It’s not for nothing,” Olmert insisted. “It’s in exchange for a change in the region’s strategic alignment.”

Bush persisted: “Why should you believe him?” And to that, Olmert did not reply.

More than six years ago, in his landmark June 24, 2002 speech, Bush invited Syria to join the right side in the war on terror:

Every nation actually committed to peace will stop the flow of money, equipment and recruits to terrorist groups seeking the destruction of Israel — including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah. Every nation actually committed to peace must block the shipment of Iranian suppoies to these groups, and oppose regimes that promote terror, like Iraq. And Syria must choose the right side in the war on terror by closing terrorist camps and expelling terrorist organizations.

After that, Syria (1) sided with Saddam Hussein just before the 2003 Iraq war, (2) provided refuge in 2003 and thereafter to Ba’athist extremists trying to undermine the new Iraqi government, (3) rejected multiple overtures during 2003-2005 from senior officials of the Bush administration, who repeatedly traveled to Damascus to meet with Asad, (4) was undoubtedly involved in the February 2005 murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, (5) supported Hezbollah in its 2006 war with Israel, (6) has been restocking Hezbollah since 2006 with double or triple the number of rockets it had before, in violation of the UN resolution that ended the war, (7) was building during all this time a secret nuclear facility with the help of North Korea, (8) still seeks nuclear power, (9) has been providing headquarters and safe haven for the leaders of Hamas, (10) has longstanding ambitions to dominate Lebanon, and (11) is ruled by a dictatorial leader who has forged an alliance with an Iran poised to establish hegemony over the region, once the U.S. withdraws from Iraq.

Syria is likely to view more Israeli and U.S. overtures as signs of weakness (and validation of its prior decisions), rather than as an opportunity to reverse a choice it made more than six years ago, and has confirmed multiple times since. And even if Assad were to make reversible promises of peace (or a “change in strategic alignment”), why would anyone believe him?

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Expedience You Can Believe In

Victor Davis Hanson is getting some clarity on the baffling evolution of Barack Obama:

Note that the most obvious and embarrassing explanation is taboo and blasphemous: That Obama is a masterful politician who never has had any real ideology or persona other than his own diversity story and history, youth, and charisma that together allow him to be whatever is politically expedient at the time.

[...]

I think we are slowly (and things of course could change) beginning in retrospect to look back at the outline of one of [the] most profound bait-and-switch campaigns in our political history, predicated on the mass appeal of a magnetic leader rather than any principles per se. He out-Clintoned Hillary and followed Bill’s 1992 formula: A young Democrat runs on youth, popular appeal and charisma, claims the incumbent Bush caused another Great Depression and blew Iraq, and then went right down the middle with a showy leftist veneer.

The question is: How reassured should conservatives be? Believing in nothing is better than believing in far-Left dogma, but a presidency without a coherent vision invites problems of its own. Building on Hanson’s Clinton comparison, it’s easy to see how every major foreign policy headache to besiege the 21st Century so far was fostered, in part, by Bill Clinton’s inconsistency abroad: His stop-and-start campaigns against Saddam left a more devastated and divided Iraq for the next administration to deal with; his tough talk about human rights and democracy in China, offset by his full support for Chinese economic expansion and his enabling Chinese spies in the U.S., bestowed upon China the twin gifts of unrestrained non-compliance and impunity; his absolute disregard for genocide in Rwanda set the bloody stage both for future tin-pot tyrants and for American isolationists; his pursuit of NATO expansion alongside his blind support for Boris Yeltsin has led to a military alliance with no clear purpose other than to complicate the U.S.’s dealings with Yeltsin’s hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin; his curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions by giving the Kim regime light water reactors (via Jimmy Carter) established the North Korean shell game still underway

If Barack Obama fails to settle on an animating principle, and instead remains an ideological vacuum, he’ll leave a lot of sticky problems in his wake. Very often, policies labeled as “moderate” can be seen in retrospect for what they really are: contradictory or simply impotent. Contrary to what Obama may think, the U.S. doesn’t need a president who can win friends and influence nobody.

Victor Davis Hanson is getting some clarity on the baffling evolution of Barack Obama:

Note that the most obvious and embarrassing explanation is taboo and blasphemous: That Obama is a masterful politician who never has had any real ideology or persona other than his own diversity story and history, youth, and charisma that together allow him to be whatever is politically expedient at the time.

[...]

I think we are slowly (and things of course could change) beginning in retrospect to look back at the outline of one of [the] most profound bait-and-switch campaigns in our political history, predicated on the mass appeal of a magnetic leader rather than any principles per se. He out-Clintoned Hillary and followed Bill’s 1992 formula: A young Democrat runs on youth, popular appeal and charisma, claims the incumbent Bush caused another Great Depression and blew Iraq, and then went right down the middle with a showy leftist veneer.

The question is: How reassured should conservatives be? Believing in nothing is better than believing in far-Left dogma, but a presidency without a coherent vision invites problems of its own. Building on Hanson’s Clinton comparison, it’s easy to see how every major foreign policy headache to besiege the 21st Century so far was fostered, in part, by Bill Clinton’s inconsistency abroad: His stop-and-start campaigns against Saddam left a more devastated and divided Iraq for the next administration to deal with; his tough talk about human rights and democracy in China, offset by his full support for Chinese economic expansion and his enabling Chinese spies in the U.S., bestowed upon China the twin gifts of unrestrained non-compliance and impunity; his absolute disregard for genocide in Rwanda set the bloody stage both for future tin-pot tyrants and for American isolationists; his pursuit of NATO expansion alongside his blind support for Boris Yeltsin has led to a military alliance with no clear purpose other than to complicate the U.S.’s dealings with Yeltsin’s hand-picked successor, Vladimir Putin; his curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions by giving the Kim regime light water reactors (via Jimmy Carter) established the North Korean shell game still underway

If Barack Obama fails to settle on an animating principle, and instead remains an ideological vacuum, he’ll leave a lot of sticky problems in his wake. Very often, policies labeled as “moderate” can be seen in retrospect for what they really are: contradictory or simply impotent. Contrary to what Obama may think, the U.S. doesn’t need a president who can win friends and influence nobody.

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The Danger That Dare Not Be Named

The Telegraph has a pictorial study of what it considers the 20 most dangerous places in the world, and a brief synopsis on why each place is so dangerous. While reading it, though, one is struck by the shallowness of the regional descriptions.

There is no explanation for the order in which the nations and regions are listed, but they appear as follows: Iraq, Chechnya, South Africa, Jamaica, Sudan, Thailand, Colombia, Haiti, Eritea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Pakistan, Burundi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India, Mexico, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon.

Fortunately, there are other resources available (such as Wikipedia and the CIA World Fact Book) to help us more fully understand the danger of these places.

So, what makes each spot so dangerous?

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The Telegraph has a pictorial study of what it considers the 20 most dangerous places in the world, and a brief synopsis on why each place is so dangerous. While reading it, though, one is struck by the shallowness of the regional descriptions.

There is no explanation for the order in which the nations and regions are listed, but they appear as follows: Iraq, Chechnya, South Africa, Jamaica, Sudan, Thailand, Colombia, Haiti, Eritea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Pakistan, Burundi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India, Mexico, Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon.

Fortunately, there are other resources available (such as Wikipedia and the CIA World Fact Book) to help us more fully understand the danger of these places.

So, what makes each spot so dangerous?

Iraq — armed conflict between the Iraqi government and the United States armed forces against Muslim insurgents, terrorists, and fanatics.

Afghanistan — armed conflict between the Afghan government and the Allied forces against Muslim insurgents, terrorists, and fanatics.

Chechnya — Chechen rebels and separatists (mostly Muslim) rebelling against Russia.

South Africa — very high violent crime in the townships and other areas.

Jamaica — rampant violence in residential neighborhoods and isolated regions.

Sudan — ongoing genocide of the Animists by the dominant Muslims, mainly in the Darfur region.

Thailand — unrest following a military coup in 2006.

Colombia — kidnapping, terrorism, and other violence related to the drug trade.

Haiti — natural disasters and economic hardships have fueled a brutal increase in violent crime and kidnappings for ransom.

Eritrea — recurring border conflicts with its neighbors. Also accuses Sudan of aiding Muslim terrorist groups in attacking across the border.

Democratic Republic of Congo — ongoing brutal civil war.

Liberia — recent civil wars, ongoing violent crime wave.

Pakistan — ongoing terrorism by Muslim militants.

Burundi — recent civil war, ongoing violent crime.

Nigeria — tremendous problems with violent crime, also originator of the infamous “419″ e-mail scams and other frauds.

Zimbabwe — President Mugabe’s disastrous “reforms” and oppression have left this once-prosperous nation on the verge of collapse.

India — threats of terrorism from Tamils, Kashmiris, and Pakistani-sponsored Muslims. Recent massacre in Mumbai was committed by well-trained and well-equipped Muslims.

Mexico –High levels of crime tied to corruption, illegal immigration into the United States, drug trafficking, and criminal gangs.

Israel and the Occupied Palestine Territories — constant threat from Palestinian terrorists, predominantly Muslim. (Note that the article lumps in Gaza as “occupied,” in defiance of Israel’s evacuation of the Strip and its utter dominance by the terrorist group Hamas, which has pledged to destroy Israel.)

Lebanon — Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah (“Party of God”) controls southern portion of the country, is integrated into the government to the point where it holds veto power over any actions by the government, has launched several wars with Israel and is committed to Israel’s destruction.

Hmm… what’s the common thread there? Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan, India, Israel/Palestinian Territories, Lebanon — all places where militant Muslims are killing people in the name of their god.

One would think that the Telegraph would mention that nearly half of the world’s most troubled regions have a common element. But the word “Muslim” or “Islam” never appears in any of the captions.

In “The Clash of Civilizations?,” Charles Huntington noted that “Islam has bloody borders,” that wherever the Islamic world brushes up against the non-Islamic world, there is often violence and conflict. Note the number of current conflicts that involve Muslims on at least one side. The Telegraph‘s listing provides further confirming evidence.

Pity they didn’t have the courage to do so openly.

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Just Pent-Up Irrationality?

If you are looking for moral gibberish on the subject of the Mumbai massacre you would be hard pressed to come up with a more exquisite example of utter confusion than this, from former Congressman Jim Leach:

The Mumbai catastrophe underscores the importance of vocabulary. The issue is not “war;” it is “barbarism.” The former implies a cause: a national or tribal or ethnic rationale that infuses a sacrificial action with some group’s view of heroism; the latter is an assault on civilized values, everyone’s. There is nothing heroic about doing something so easy as to walk into a hotel or place of worship with weapons and explosives and allow angered prejudice to rein. There is no justice in killing innocents, whether random or because of their faith or nationality.

To the degree barbarism is a part of the human condition, Mumbai must be understood not just as an act related to a particular group but as an outbreak of pent-up irrationality that can occur anywhere, anytime. There may be defenses — good intelligence, a gallant military, professional law enforcement — but the most effective antidote to barbarism is allegiance to civilized structures that command respect.

Actually, it is an act of war. There is a particular “national or tribal or ethnic rationale.” Leach and others in the civilized world don’t, of course, consider the mass murders “heroic,” but the perpetrators and their followers do. And it was not just “pent-up irrationality” floating without form or purpose that lead to the mass slayings, but a meticulously planned operation in service of ideological aims. And, no, “allegiance to civilized structures that command respect” is not going to do the job. Robust intelligence, well-trained military forces, and intellectual clarity about the nature of the enemy are really what is needed.

This is all mind-bogglingly wrong. What we don’t yet know is whether the President-elect and his nominees for key national security roles buy this sort of clap-trap or whether they understand that they are inheriting a war on the West, with Americans and Jews as key targets. Rather than Leach, let’s hope they adopt this clear-eyed approach set out by Mark Steyn:

This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault — and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

So which will it be — the world according to Leach or to Steyn? If we hope to survive, it better be the latter.

If you are looking for moral gibberish on the subject of the Mumbai massacre you would be hard pressed to come up with a more exquisite example of utter confusion than this, from former Congressman Jim Leach:

The Mumbai catastrophe underscores the importance of vocabulary. The issue is not “war;” it is “barbarism.” The former implies a cause: a national or tribal or ethnic rationale that infuses a sacrificial action with some group’s view of heroism; the latter is an assault on civilized values, everyone’s. There is nothing heroic about doing something so easy as to walk into a hotel or place of worship with weapons and explosives and allow angered prejudice to rein. There is no justice in killing innocents, whether random or because of their faith or nationality.

To the degree barbarism is a part of the human condition, Mumbai must be understood not just as an act related to a particular group but as an outbreak of pent-up irrationality that can occur anywhere, anytime. There may be defenses — good intelligence, a gallant military, professional law enforcement — but the most effective antidote to barbarism is allegiance to civilized structures that command respect.

Actually, it is an act of war. There is a particular “national or tribal or ethnic rationale.” Leach and others in the civilized world don’t, of course, consider the mass murders “heroic,” but the perpetrators and their followers do. And it was not just “pent-up irrationality” floating without form or purpose that lead to the mass slayings, but a meticulously planned operation in service of ideological aims. And, no, “allegiance to civilized structures that command respect” is not going to do the job. Robust intelligence, well-trained military forces, and intellectual clarity about the nature of the enemy are really what is needed.

This is all mind-bogglingly wrong. What we don’t yet know is whether the President-elect and his nominees for key national security roles buy this sort of clap-trap or whether they understand that they are inheriting a war on the West, with Americans and Jews as key targets. Rather than Leach, let’s hope they adopt this clear-eyed approach set out by Mark Steyn:

This isn’t law enforcement but an ideological assault — and we’re fighting the symptoms not the cause. Islamic imperialists want an Islamic society, not just in Palestine and Kashmir but in the Netherlands and Britain, too. Their chances of getting it will be determined by the ideology’s advance among the general Muslim population, and the general Muslim population’s demographic advance among everybody else.

So Bush is history, and we have a new president who promises to heal the planet, and yet the jihadists don’t seem to have got the Obama message that there are no enemies, just friends we haven’t yet held talks without preconditions with. This isn’t about repudiating the Bush years, or withdrawing from Iraq, or even liquidating Israel. It’s bigger than that. And if you don’t have a strategy for beating back the ideology, you’ll lose.

So which will it be — the world according to Leach or to Steyn? If we hope to survive, it better be the latter.

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Fence-Sitting on Iran

David Ignatius has been one of the most consistent supporters of dialogue with Iran. In 2006, he wrote:

There’s no guarantee that a policy of engagement will work. The Iranian regime’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons may be so unyielding that Tehran and Washington will remain on a collision course. But America and its allies will be in a stronger position for responding to Iranian calls for dialogue. Openness isn’t a concession by America, it’s a strategic weapon.

But today he reveals how skeptical he really is. Yes – he still wants dialogue, but the “there’s no guarantee” that it could work has been changed to something even less hopeful:

It’s easy to criticize the Bush record on Iran. But anyone who thinks it will be easy for Obama to make a breakthrough hasn’t been paying attention. Iran moves closer every day to becoming a nuclear-weapons power. It views America as an aggressive adversary that wants regime change, no matter what Washington says. Dialogue is worth a try, but Obama and his advisers should start thinking about what they will do if negotiations fail.

Ignatius offers a fair criticism of the Bush Administration for its “double failure on Iran”:

Administration hard-liners haven’t checked Tehran’s drive to acquire nuclear-weapons technology, and moderates haven’t engaged Iran in negotiation and dialogue.

But other than the call for dialogue and his well-established stance against aggressive action – “Military action would be irrational for both sides,” Ignatius doesn’t offer much. It is hard to tell what he’d like Obama to do. And even more importantly – his article skips the most relevant question: what price should the U.S. be willing to pay in order to stop Iran from cruising toward its goal of nuclear weaponry? So far, the answer has been “no price”: The U.S. is willing to try international sanctions and dialogue. Ignatius’s skepticism is well-founded: Defeating a determined rival with such approaches is not likely to happen.

David Ignatius has been one of the most consistent supporters of dialogue with Iran. In 2006, he wrote:

There’s no guarantee that a policy of engagement will work. The Iranian regime’s desire to acquire nuclear weapons may be so unyielding that Tehran and Washington will remain on a collision course. But America and its allies will be in a stronger position for responding to Iranian calls for dialogue. Openness isn’t a concession by America, it’s a strategic weapon.

But today he reveals how skeptical he really is. Yes – he still wants dialogue, but the “there’s no guarantee” that it could work has been changed to something even less hopeful:

It’s easy to criticize the Bush record on Iran. But anyone who thinks it will be easy for Obama to make a breakthrough hasn’t been paying attention. Iran moves closer every day to becoming a nuclear-weapons power. It views America as an aggressive adversary that wants regime change, no matter what Washington says. Dialogue is worth a try, but Obama and his advisers should start thinking about what they will do if negotiations fail.

Ignatius offers a fair criticism of the Bush Administration for its “double failure on Iran”:

Administration hard-liners haven’t checked Tehran’s drive to acquire nuclear-weapons technology, and moderates haven’t engaged Iran in negotiation and dialogue.

But other than the call for dialogue and his well-established stance against aggressive action – “Military action would be irrational for both sides,” Ignatius doesn’t offer much. It is hard to tell what he’d like Obama to do. And even more importantly – his article skips the most relevant question: what price should the U.S. be willing to pay in order to stop Iran from cruising toward its goal of nuclear weaponry? So far, the answer has been “no price”: The U.S. is willing to try international sanctions and dialogue. Ignatius’s skepticism is well-founded: Defeating a determined rival with such approaches is not likely to happen.

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Re: Re: The Horror In India

Abe, it is not just the President-elect who may be lacking perspective here. President Bush issued a statement Saturday which expressed condolences and sorrow for the victims in India. What did he say of the killers?

The killers who struck this week are brutal and violent, but terror will not have the final word. People of India are resilient. People of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multiethnic democracy that can withstand this trial. Their financial capital of Mumbai will continue to be the center of commerce and prosperity.

The leaders of India can know that nations around the world support them in the face of this assault on human dignity. And as the people of the world’s largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the world’s oldest democracy to stand by their side.

This is inadequate in the extreme. Granted the specific identities of the killers are not yet known and their connection to other governments, if any, and to al Qaeda will be investigated in the days and weeks that follow. But the President’s statement falls prey to the pseudo-political correctness and inanity which has overtaken much of the talk of “terrorism.” It is utterly devoid of context or awareness that this was an ideologically minded killing spree.

Melanie Phillips explains that this confusion is shared by the pundit class :

They are floundering because they still just don’t get it. The atrocities demonstrated with crystal clarity what the Islamist war is all about – and the western commentariat didn’t understand because it simply refuses to acknowledge, even now, what that war actually is. It does not arise from particular grievances. It is not rooted in ‘despair’ over Palestine. It is not a reaction to the war in Iraq. It is a war waged in the name of Islam against America, Britain, Hindus, Jews and all who refuse to submit to Islamic conquest.

This double-talk or non-talk about the nature and face of Islamic terrorism leads to moral confusion, self-doubt and the inability to focus our energies and efforts with precision. Skipping the effort to identify “evil” or to speak of “attacks on the civilized world” –  has the President given up trying to fight through the fog of political correctness? For now State Department pablum carries the day.

It is imperative that soon both the President and the President-elect speak with greater clarity and force about what occurred and what response is required by the civilized world. That would, of course, require that they understand what is at stake. Let’s pray that they do.

Abe, it is not just the President-elect who may be lacking perspective here. President Bush issued a statement Saturday which expressed condolences and sorrow for the victims in India. What did he say of the killers?

The killers who struck this week are brutal and violent, but terror will not have the final word. People of India are resilient. People of India are strong. They have built a vibrant, multiethnic democracy that can withstand this trial. Their financial capital of Mumbai will continue to be the center of commerce and prosperity.

The leaders of India can know that nations around the world support them in the face of this assault on human dignity. And as the people of the world’s largest democracy recover from these attacks, they can count on the world’s oldest democracy to stand by their side.

This is inadequate in the extreme. Granted the specific identities of the killers are not yet known and their connection to other governments, if any, and to al Qaeda will be investigated in the days and weeks that follow. But the President’s statement falls prey to the pseudo-political correctness and inanity which has overtaken much of the talk of “terrorism.” It is utterly devoid of context or awareness that this was an ideologically minded killing spree.

Melanie Phillips explains that this confusion is shared by the pundit class :

They are floundering because they still just don’t get it. The atrocities demonstrated with crystal clarity what the Islamist war is all about – and the western commentariat didn’t understand because it simply refuses to acknowledge, even now, what that war actually is. It does not arise from particular grievances. It is not rooted in ‘despair’ over Palestine. It is not a reaction to the war in Iraq. It is a war waged in the name of Islam against America, Britain, Hindus, Jews and all who refuse to submit to Islamic conquest.

This double-talk or non-talk about the nature and face of Islamic terrorism leads to moral confusion, self-doubt and the inability to focus our energies and efforts with precision. Skipping the effort to identify “evil” or to speak of “attacks on the civilized world” –  has the President given up trying to fight through the fog of political correctness? For now State Department pablum carries the day.

It is imperative that soon both the President and the President-elect speak with greater clarity and force about what occurred and what response is required by the civilized world. That would, of course, require that they understand what is at stake. Let’s pray that they do.

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The Evolution of Terror

As the dust settles in Mumbai and the questions rise to take its place, one focus is on the attackers themselves — especially since it looks increasingly like the entire catastrophe was conducted not by 60 or 70 terrorists (as I earlier reported, based on claims from news agencies) but a much smaller number, perhaps as few as 10 — ten extremely well-armed, -equipped, -trained, and -motived terrorists. For such people, the word “terrorist” suddenly seems inadequate. We’re not talking about a bulldozer-driver gone sick, a scheming psycho learning how to fly a plane in coordination with likeminded people, or a passionate law student who straps a bomb to his chest. We are talking about terror commandos. And they represent a new era in terrorism.

Writing in YNet, David Altman offers a historical perspective on Middle East terror, pointing to three concrete stages: First they hijacked airplanes, with the aim of getting attention; second, they taught their people to commit suicide, creating much larger and more psychologically damaging one-off attacks; finally, beginning with Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, and continuing with the retooled Hamas and, it seems, the attackers in Mumbai, we are talking about the emergence of terror armies — much larger military forces, trained and equipped like special forces, armed with high-tech equipment and missiles, but like terrorists not bound by any of the rules of war. Altman calls for not only a reconsideration of anti-terror strategy in light of the change, but a rethinking of the West’s war doctrine more broadly. He writes:

The advantage of terrorist armies is first and foremost the fact they are not subjected to any law or international convention. They do not face any pressure and they are not accountable to anyone.They tie the hands of the responding force, which is the only side subjected to conventions pertaining to human rights, war captives, and the targeting of civilians.

Every terror event makes it increasingly clear that the danger to the stability of societies and regimes is much greater than we thought. The Mumbai events must serve as a turning point in the way we address terror armies. This is no longer a conventional war. The war codes formulated in the wake of World War II are no longer relevant. Instead, an international anti-terror force must be created; this force must be specialized, it must study the new threat, and it must be able to provide an immediate response by forces trained especially to that end.

As the dust settles in Mumbai and the questions rise to take its place, one focus is on the attackers themselves — especially since it looks increasingly like the entire catastrophe was conducted not by 60 or 70 terrorists (as I earlier reported, based on claims from news agencies) but a much smaller number, perhaps as few as 10 — ten extremely well-armed, -equipped, -trained, and -motived terrorists. For such people, the word “terrorist” suddenly seems inadequate. We’re not talking about a bulldozer-driver gone sick, a scheming psycho learning how to fly a plane in coordination with likeminded people, or a passionate law student who straps a bomb to his chest. We are talking about terror commandos. And they represent a new era in terrorism.

Writing in YNet, David Altman offers a historical perspective on Middle East terror, pointing to three concrete stages: First they hijacked airplanes, with the aim of getting attention; second, they taught their people to commit suicide, creating much larger and more psychologically damaging one-off attacks; finally, beginning with Hezbollah, the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, and continuing with the retooled Hamas and, it seems, the attackers in Mumbai, we are talking about the emergence of terror armies — much larger military forces, trained and equipped like special forces, armed with high-tech equipment and missiles, but like terrorists not bound by any of the rules of war. Altman calls for not only a reconsideration of anti-terror strategy in light of the change, but a rethinking of the West’s war doctrine more broadly. He writes:

The advantage of terrorist armies is first and foremost the fact they are not subjected to any law or international convention. They do not face any pressure and they are not accountable to anyone.They tie the hands of the responding force, which is the only side subjected to conventions pertaining to human rights, war captives, and the targeting of civilians.

Every terror event makes it increasingly clear that the danger to the stability of societies and regimes is much greater than we thought. The Mumbai events must serve as a turning point in the way we address terror armies. This is no longer a conventional war. The war codes formulated in the wake of World War II are no longer relevant. Instead, an international anti-terror force must be created; this force must be specialized, it must study the new threat, and it must be able to provide an immediate response by forces trained especially to that end.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Mark Sanford praises his fellow governors as a source of conservative ideas: “you don’t have to look far to find examples of how sticking to conservative principles not only yields a better-working government but, frankly, yields electoral success as well.” That would seem to be the preferred tactic for Republicans with political aspirations — separate themselves from the Republicans’ “home office,” and run against the Beltway crowd.

The Washington Post agrees — and offers a glowing piece on Bobby Jindal. Now Republican insiders come forward to declare that youth, verbal acuity, conservative ideas and executive competence matter. Well, at least they figured out what was missing last time.

First we learn that turnout wasn’t historic and now we hear that Barack Obama’s reliance on a broad base of “small donors” was exaggerated and virtually identical to President Bush’s figures. Not so much “change” and not really “New Politics, ” I suppose. What’s next –staffing up with retreads from prior administrations and dumping his campaign rhetoric?

Thomas Friedman concedes: “In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq. There is now, for the first time, a chance — still only a chance — that a reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places, can take root in the Iraqi political space.” And after acknowledging that Barack Obama ran against the surge, he concludes that Obama can not only “end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it” and thereby “enhance the Democratic Party’s national security credentials.” Huh? Well, with columnists helping to obscure the Bush administration‘s salvaging and the Democrats’ obstructionism, I suppose anything is possible.

George Will is the latest commentator to ask why we are repeating the New Deal if it didn’t work the first time: “history is not one damn thing after another, it is the same damn thing over and over.”

Fred Barnes observes: “If Obama wants to pursue economic and national security policies that would thrill MoveOn.org, William Ayers, and the Democratic left, he has a funny way of showing it. The only reasonable conclusion is he’s spurning the left.” The mystery remains whether Obama believed what he said in the primary and changed his mind or whether he doesn’t believe in much of anything.

David Frum lists among President Bush’s eight biggest accomplishments: “After 9/11, Bush passionately championed America’s vast majority of law-abiding Muslims — and perhaps due to his leadership, the much-feared wave of hate crimes never occurred.” Hmm. “Much-feared” by whom? And was there ever any indication that Americans would have done such a thing if not for some mosque visits by President Bush? (It seems that two superb Supreme Court nominations should have made the list instead.)

So much for the notion that George Bush or the Iraq war is what fuels Islamic terrorism, says Rich Lowry. He explains: “They have an ideological goal larger than any one conflict or any American president. And the absolute malice of the Mumbai terrorists is a reminder of a piece of supposed Bush/Cheney alarmism: that should these as-yet low-tech killers — armed with guns and grenades — ever acquire weapons of mass destruction, they will use them without hesitation. Already there is debate over whether the Mumbai attack had an international or home-grown origin. This can be a false distinction. The global jihadist movement is larger and more diffuse than al-Qaeda, even if it is inspired by it.”

Mark Sanford praises his fellow governors as a source of conservative ideas: “you don’t have to look far to find examples of how sticking to conservative principles not only yields a better-working government but, frankly, yields electoral success as well.” That would seem to be the preferred tactic for Republicans with political aspirations — separate themselves from the Republicans’ “home office,” and run against the Beltway crowd.

The Washington Post agrees — and offers a glowing piece on Bobby Jindal. Now Republican insiders come forward to declare that youth, verbal acuity, conservative ideas and executive competence matter. Well, at least they figured out what was missing last time.

First we learn that turnout wasn’t historic and now we hear that Barack Obama’s reliance on a broad base of “small donors” was exaggerated and virtually identical to President Bush’s figures. Not so much “change” and not really “New Politics, ” I suppose. What’s next –staffing up with retreads from prior administrations and dumping his campaign rhetoric?

Thomas Friedman concedes: “In the last year, though, the U.S. troop surge and the backlash from moderate Iraqi Sunnis against Al Qaeda and Iraqi Shiites against pro-Iranian extremists have brought a new measure of stability to Iraq. There is now, for the first time, a chance — still only a chance — that a reasonably stable democratizing government, though no doubt corrupt in places, can take root in the Iraqi political space.” And after acknowledging that Barack Obama ran against the surge, he concludes that Obama can not only “end the Iraq war but salvage something positive from it” and thereby “enhance the Democratic Party’s national security credentials.” Huh? Well, with columnists helping to obscure the Bush administration‘s salvaging and the Democrats’ obstructionism, I suppose anything is possible.

George Will is the latest commentator to ask why we are repeating the New Deal if it didn’t work the first time: “history is not one damn thing after another, it is the same damn thing over and over.”

Fred Barnes observes: “If Obama wants to pursue economic and national security policies that would thrill MoveOn.org, William Ayers, and the Democratic left, he has a funny way of showing it. The only reasonable conclusion is he’s spurning the left.” The mystery remains whether Obama believed what he said in the primary and changed his mind or whether he doesn’t believe in much of anything.

David Frum lists among President Bush’s eight biggest accomplishments: “After 9/11, Bush passionately championed America’s vast majority of law-abiding Muslims — and perhaps due to his leadership, the much-feared wave of hate crimes never occurred.” Hmm. “Much-feared” by whom? And was there ever any indication that Americans would have done such a thing if not for some mosque visits by President Bush? (It seems that two superb Supreme Court nominations should have made the list instead.)

So much for the notion that George Bush or the Iraq war is what fuels Islamic terrorism, says Rich Lowry. He explains: “They have an ideological goal larger than any one conflict or any American president. And the absolute malice of the Mumbai terrorists is a reminder of a piece of supposed Bush/Cheney alarmism: that should these as-yet low-tech killers — armed with guns and grenades — ever acquire weapons of mass destruction, they will use them without hesitation. Already there is debate over whether the Mumbai attack had an international or home-grown origin. This can be a false distinction. The global jihadist movement is larger and more diffuse than al-Qaeda, even if it is inspired by it.”

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Samantha Power Returns

According to reports, Samantha Power has made her triumphant – not to mention entirely predictable (h/t Ed Lasky) – return to the Obama fold. Indeed, almost nine months after she called then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a “monster” and had to resign her post as an Obama campaign foreign policy adviser, Power is now serving on Obama’s State Department transition team. This announcement will likely upset many in the blogosphere – including some of my Contentions colleagues – who previously exposed Power for her foolish statements and writings on Iran, Israel, and Iraq.

Back in March, I shared these concerns completely. But, since what’s done is done, perhaps it’s important to point to a silver lining in Samantha Power’s sudden reemergence: Power is an expert on genocide, and her writings on Rwanda – which drew from her personal travels in that country – powerfully critiqued the Clinton administration’s failure during the 1994 massacre of the Tutsis. In turn, as the international community has consistently failed to redress the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Power can serve as a key adviser in constructing a diplomatic strategy for providing relief.

Still, a major caveat is in order: much like any other foreign policy expert, Power will only be useful if she is put in charge of something that she knows – such as matters pertinent to genocide and humanitarian disasters – rather than something that she doesn’t know – namely, any other foreign affairs issue. Frankly, I’m not too optimistic that the Obama team will appoint Power so judiciously – the very appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State suggests that experience isn’t much of a premium to the incoming administration.

So, rather than assessing whether or not Power is a “friend of Israel” as some bloggers are already doing, we should be primarily focused on whether Power is qualified for whatever position she is given at Foggy Bottom. If she is given substantial authority within a limited purview, she can be extremely effective and play a deeply important role in the U.S.’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. But if she’s given any sort of position through which her flighty instant analyses might have an impact, she will be an embarrassment – both to herself and to us.

According to reports, Samantha Power has made her triumphant – not to mention entirely predictable (h/t Ed Lasky) – return to the Obama fold. Indeed, almost nine months after she called then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton a “monster” and had to resign her post as an Obama campaign foreign policy adviser, Power is now serving on Obama’s State Department transition team. This announcement will likely upset many in the blogosphere – including some of my Contentions colleagues – who previously exposed Power for her foolish statements and writings on Iran, Israel, and Iraq.

Back in March, I shared these concerns completely. But, since what’s done is done, perhaps it’s important to point to a silver lining in Samantha Power’s sudden reemergence: Power is an expert on genocide, and her writings on Rwanda – which drew from her personal travels in that country – powerfully critiqued the Clinton administration’s failure during the 1994 massacre of the Tutsis. In turn, as the international community has consistently failed to redress the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Power can serve as a key adviser in constructing a diplomatic strategy for providing relief.

Still, a major caveat is in order: much like any other foreign policy expert, Power will only be useful if she is put in charge of something that she knows – such as matters pertinent to genocide and humanitarian disasters – rather than something that she doesn’t know – namely, any other foreign affairs issue. Frankly, I’m not too optimistic that the Obama team will appoint Power so judiciously – the very appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State suggests that experience isn’t much of a premium to the incoming administration.

So, rather than assessing whether or not Power is a “friend of Israel” as some bloggers are already doing, we should be primarily focused on whether Power is qualified for whatever position she is given at Foggy Bottom. If she is given substantial authority within a limited purview, she can be extremely effective and play a deeply important role in the U.S.’s humanitarian efforts worldwide. But if she’s given any sort of position through which her flighty instant analyses might have an impact, she will be an embarrassment – both to herself and to us.

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An “Untold Story”

Mere hours into the horrific attacks in Mumbai, CNN/Newsweek bloviator Fareed Zakaria inaugurated the typical “root causes” debate by “explaining” away the terrorists’ motivation:

One of the untold stories of India is that the Muslim population has not shared in the boom the country has enjoyed over the last ten years. There is still a lot of institutional discrimination, and many remain persecuted. There’s enough alienation out there that there are locals who can be drawn in to plots.

Of course, there’s a lot that stinks about Zakaria’s so-called “explanation.” As Abe noted, early reports indicate that some of the attackers were British citizens of Pakistani descent – i.e., not “persecuted” Indian Muslims. Moreover, a Chabad house was among the targets – i.e., an institution not frequented by “discriminating” Indian officials. In short, the empirics don’t point to “institutional discrimination” as a “root cause” of the Mumbai attacks.

Yet Zakaria’s instant analysis of the attacks is pernicious for a second reason: if “institutional discrimination” against Indian Muslims is truly an “untold story,” Zakaria deserves a good deal of the blame. After all, Zakaria is one of the most prominent foreign policy journalists in the world – he is the former editor of Foreign Affairs, the editor of Newsweek International, and host of CNN’s weekly Fareed Zakaria GPS. He is also, arguably, the most prominent Muslim of Indian descent in America, and his father was a prominent Indian Muslim politician.

So check out Zakaria’s archive: how many of his articles have addressed the plight of Indian Muslims? How often has he told the story of their apparent exclusion from India’s economic development? More specifically, where are Muslims’ ostracism mentioned in this Newsweek cover story that Zakaria wrote on India’s boom? At what point did Zakaria reference India’s Muslims during his CNN interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, or fellow India-jet-setter Thomas Friedman, among others?

Indeed, if “institutional discrimination” against Indian Muslims is truly a “root cause” of the Mumbai attacks, we should ask Zakaria how he managed to neglect this “untold story” for so long. He is either a shamefully unobservant journalist or a blatant apologist for terrorists.

Mere hours into the horrific attacks in Mumbai, CNN/Newsweek bloviator Fareed Zakaria inaugurated the typical “root causes” debate by “explaining” away the terrorists’ motivation:

One of the untold stories of India is that the Muslim population has not shared in the boom the country has enjoyed over the last ten years. There is still a lot of institutional discrimination, and many remain persecuted. There’s enough alienation out there that there are locals who can be drawn in to plots.

Of course, there’s a lot that stinks about Zakaria’s so-called “explanation.” As Abe noted, early reports indicate that some of the attackers were British citizens of Pakistani descent – i.e., not “persecuted” Indian Muslims. Moreover, a Chabad house was among the targets – i.e., an institution not frequented by “discriminating” Indian officials. In short, the empirics don’t point to “institutional discrimination” as a “root cause” of the Mumbai attacks.

Yet Zakaria’s instant analysis of the attacks is pernicious for a second reason: if “institutional discrimination” against Indian Muslims is truly an “untold story,” Zakaria deserves a good deal of the blame. After all, Zakaria is one of the most prominent foreign policy journalists in the world – he is the former editor of Foreign Affairs, the editor of Newsweek International, and host of CNN’s weekly Fareed Zakaria GPS. He is also, arguably, the most prominent Muslim of Indian descent in America, and his father was a prominent Indian Muslim politician.

So check out Zakaria’s archive: how many of his articles have addressed the plight of Indian Muslims? How often has he told the story of their apparent exclusion from India’s economic development? More specifically, where are Muslims’ ostracism mentioned in this Newsweek cover story that Zakaria wrote on India’s boom? At what point did Zakaria reference India’s Muslims during his CNN interviews with Condoleezza Rice, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, or fellow India-jet-setter Thomas Friedman, among others?

Indeed, if “institutional discrimination” against Indian Muslims is truly a “root cause” of the Mumbai attacks, we should ask Zakaria how he managed to neglect this “untold story” for so long. He is either a shamefully unobservant journalist or a blatant apologist for terrorists.

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Let’s Break OPEC Now

In an interview published today, Saudi King Abdullah said that oil should be priced at $75 a barrel, more than $20 above the current price.  We generally care what he thinks because OPEC dominates the global oil market and Saudi Arabia dominates OPEC.

Now, however, it may not matter what King Abdullah believes.  The price of oil has slid from over $147 a barrel in mid July to about a third of that level now.  The decline occurred even though the cartel cut production in October at an emergency meeting.  Oil ministers conferred today in Cairo at a hastily arranged conclave, and this gathering will be followed by a regular meeting next month in Algeria.  “There is total confusion,” said  one New York-based oil analyst, referring to discussions among OPEC’s 13 members.

The organization’s members are a bit dazed because they know energy prices will continue to fall.  The global downturn is only in its initial stages, and recovery could be years away.  OPEC, fortunately, will be in disarray, especially because some of its members will not be able to make ends meet with oil at current prices.  The Associated Press estimates that ailing Iran and Venezuela, for instance, need oil at $90 a barrel to meet current spending requirements.  The IMF says Saudi Arabia needs $50 oil.

So OPEC’s weakness raises a question:  Why doesn’t the United States try to break the cartel now while it and other consuming nations are gaining bargaining power?  With the organization as fragile as it is now, a dozen little strategies-from conservation to development of alternative energy to legal action to outright geopolitical intimidation-might end the organization’s cohesion and result in its dissolution.

For too long we have accepted the fact of OPEC’s existence and accorded it legitimacy.  Yet why should we?  If other governments can act in their own interests, why can’t ours act in America’s?  Everyone tells us to eliminate our current account deficit.  So let’s start doing that by lowering our gigantic tab for oil.  It’s time to destroy OPEC.

In an interview published today, Saudi King Abdullah said that oil should be priced at $75 a barrel, more than $20 above the current price.  We generally care what he thinks because OPEC dominates the global oil market and Saudi Arabia dominates OPEC.

Now, however, it may not matter what King Abdullah believes.  The price of oil has slid from over $147 a barrel in mid July to about a third of that level now.  The decline occurred even though the cartel cut production in October at an emergency meeting.  Oil ministers conferred today in Cairo at a hastily arranged conclave, and this gathering will be followed by a regular meeting next month in Algeria.  “There is total confusion,” said  one New York-based oil analyst, referring to discussions among OPEC’s 13 members.

The organization’s members are a bit dazed because they know energy prices will continue to fall.  The global downturn is only in its initial stages, and recovery could be years away.  OPEC, fortunately, will be in disarray, especially because some of its members will not be able to make ends meet with oil at current prices.  The Associated Press estimates that ailing Iran and Venezuela, for instance, need oil at $90 a barrel to meet current spending requirements.  The IMF says Saudi Arabia needs $50 oil.

So OPEC’s weakness raises a question:  Why doesn’t the United States try to break the cartel now while it and other consuming nations are gaining bargaining power?  With the organization as fragile as it is now, a dozen little strategies-from conservation to development of alternative energy to legal action to outright geopolitical intimidation-might end the organization’s cohesion and result in its dissolution.

For too long we have accepted the fact of OPEC’s existence and accorded it legitimacy.  Yet why should we?  If other governments can act in their own interests, why can’t ours act in America’s?  Everyone tells us to eliminate our current account deficit.  So let’s start doing that by lowering our gigantic tab for oil.  It’s time to destroy OPEC.

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Terrorism Made Easy

To be effective, terrorism has to be shocking. For better or worse, bombing attacks, except when they occur in major Western metropolises, have lost much of their power to shock Western audiences. There have simply been too many of them in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan in recent years for another one to make much of an impact. The fiends behind the Mumbai attack no doubt realized this. They therefore staged a different kind of atrocity that has managed to rivet the entire world’s attention for the past several days. Mission accomplished.

What makes the Mumbai attacks particularly scary is that they are so easy to replicate. Bomb-making requires a certain amount of technical know-how. Much less knowledge is required to slaughter people at random using assault weapons. The guns are readily available through the legal marketplace; they do not even have to be fully automatic, although automatic weapons aren’t hard to procure either. Then all it takes is assembling a dozen or two fanatics willing to die for their misguided cause. Send them with weapons into a major hotel, train station, or other gathering spot, and watch havoc ensue.

After 9/11, many observers, including me, expected that we would see such attacks in American malls and other areas where security is negligible. That did not occur for reasons that remain unclear: speculation ranges from the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorist efforts to the weakness of the Al Qaeda network in North America. But we need to be concerned that some jihadists watching what has just unfolded in Mumbai will be tempted to stage a copycat attacks. Our increasing complacency – many dare not even call the war on terror a war anymore – only increases the danger.

To be effective, terrorism has to be shocking. For better or worse, bombing attacks, except when they occur in major Western metropolises, have lost much of their power to shock Western audiences. There have simply been too many of them in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan in recent years for another one to make much of an impact. The fiends behind the Mumbai attack no doubt realized this. They therefore staged a different kind of atrocity that has managed to rivet the entire world’s attention for the past several days. Mission accomplished.

What makes the Mumbai attacks particularly scary is that they are so easy to replicate. Bomb-making requires a certain amount of technical know-how. Much less knowledge is required to slaughter people at random using assault weapons. The guns are readily available through the legal marketplace; they do not even have to be fully automatic, although automatic weapons aren’t hard to procure either. Then all it takes is assembling a dozen or two fanatics willing to die for their misguided cause. Send them with weapons into a major hotel, train station, or other gathering spot, and watch havoc ensue.

After 9/11, many observers, including me, expected that we would see such attacks in American malls and other areas where security is negligible. That did not occur for reasons that remain unclear: speculation ranges from the effectiveness of U.S. counterterrorist efforts to the weakness of the Al Qaeda network in North America. But we need to be concerned that some jihadists watching what has just unfolded in Mumbai will be tempted to stage a copycat attacks. Our increasing complacency – many dare not even call the war on terror a war anymore – only increases the danger.

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How Many Ethical Violations Does An Attorney General Get?

Recognizing that there is no getting around the egregious behavior of Eric Holder in the Marc Rich affair, Obama transition chief Tony Podesta offers the “one mistake rule” in defense of the unofficial nominee for Attorney General. Podesta concedes, unlike many other Democratic flacks, that Holder made “a mistake.” Nevertheless Podesta claims that “if we’re all held up to a one-mistake rule, I think probably no one would be serving in government.”

Hmm. Did we ever hear of this “rule” before? Not in any Republican confirmation hearing. And one wonder how severe a mistake it must be to be a disqualify one for a cabinet post. Does a breach of ethics count? Does fudging — that would be misleading — Congress about the extent of your inappropriate advice to a pardon applicant’s attorney count? Does currying favor with someone who might give you a job at the expense of fulfilling your own legal obligations? I suppose not — at least if you are a Democrat.

But of course the Marc Rich affair isn’t the only problem for Holder, which Podesta surely must know. There are, for starters, the other pardon scandals. Nevertheless Podesta, as a savvy political operative, knows that the Rich matter is the most problematic — easily understood, recollected by many voters and utterly indefensible. So if they can deflect criticism of that one with the “everyone gets a mistake” invention, they are that much closer to confirmation. (One imagines that they must be feeling some heat, perhaps unexpectedly so, to have already dreamed up this defense.)

Republicans should be clear. Not everyone deserves to be Attorney General. This is not just “serving in government.” This is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. Someone who committed multiple acts of dishonesty and unethical behavior (even if within the context of one pardon) simply should not be elevated to that high office. And if they want to get into the rest of Holder’s supposedly “stellar” record, where should we start – the FALN terrorist pardons or Elian Gonzales?

Recognizing that there is no getting around the egregious behavior of Eric Holder in the Marc Rich affair, Obama transition chief Tony Podesta offers the “one mistake rule” in defense of the unofficial nominee for Attorney General. Podesta concedes, unlike many other Democratic flacks, that Holder made “a mistake.” Nevertheless Podesta claims that “if we’re all held up to a one-mistake rule, I think probably no one would be serving in government.”

Hmm. Did we ever hear of this “rule” before? Not in any Republican confirmation hearing. And one wonder how severe a mistake it must be to be a disqualify one for a cabinet post. Does a breach of ethics count? Does fudging — that would be misleading — Congress about the extent of your inappropriate advice to a pardon applicant’s attorney count? Does currying favor with someone who might give you a job at the expense of fulfilling your own legal obligations? I suppose not — at least if you are a Democrat.

But of course the Marc Rich affair isn’t the only problem for Holder, which Podesta surely must know. There are, for starters, the other pardon scandals. Nevertheless Podesta, as a savvy political operative, knows that the Rich matter is the most problematic — easily understood, recollected by many voters and utterly indefensible. So if they can deflect criticism of that one with the “everyone gets a mistake” invention, they are that much closer to confirmation. (One imagines that they must be feeling some heat, perhaps unexpectedly so, to have already dreamed up this defense.)

Republicans should be clear. Not everyone deserves to be Attorney General. This is not just “serving in government.” This is the chief law enforcement officer in the country. Someone who committed multiple acts of dishonesty and unethical behavior (even if within the context of one pardon) simply should not be elevated to that high office. And if they want to get into the rest of Holder’s supposedly “stellar” record, where should we start – the FALN terrorist pardons or Elian Gonzales?

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Re: The Horror In India

Jen, the problem is that the proper post-9/11 stance has been labeled the “politics of fear,” and the U.S. has elected a President who’s promised to deliver the country from all that divisive scare-mongering. But the “politics of fear” accurately reflects a world of terrorism, and is in fact not “politics” at all – but just plain old fear. Like the fear that must have coursed through 150-plus innocent victims in Mumbai, or the fear that must have paralyzed European, Israeli and American relatives waiting to hear from traveling loved ones.

Legitimate fear has its place in this world. You recognize danger and eliminate its source. Yet Obama ran on the premise that fear is something birthed in Karl Rove’s laboratory, a canard designed to scare Americans away from Democrats. President Obama will govern in a climate that’s sure to prove him wrong. The cheapest, most dangerous partisan stunt of the whole election was Obama’s setting up “hope” as the curative to “fear.” If we all just let a little hope into our hearts, we wouldn’t have to fear so very much. Somehow, I don’t see the word “hope” appearing once in all the contingencies his advisors are now laying out for him. Operation Hope can help you win an election, but you better have a Plan B if you don’t want jihadists to seize a city in your own free democracy.

Jen, the problem is that the proper post-9/11 stance has been labeled the “politics of fear,” and the U.S. has elected a President who’s promised to deliver the country from all that divisive scare-mongering. But the “politics of fear” accurately reflects a world of terrorism, and is in fact not “politics” at all – but just plain old fear. Like the fear that must have coursed through 150-plus innocent victims in Mumbai, or the fear that must have paralyzed European, Israeli and American relatives waiting to hear from traveling loved ones.

Legitimate fear has its place in this world. You recognize danger and eliminate its source. Yet Obama ran on the premise that fear is something birthed in Karl Rove’s laboratory, a canard designed to scare Americans away from Democrats. President Obama will govern in a climate that’s sure to prove him wrong. The cheapest, most dangerous partisan stunt of the whole election was Obama’s setting up “hope” as the curative to “fear.” If we all just let a little hope into our hearts, we wouldn’t have to fear so very much. Somehow, I don’t see the word “hope” appearing once in all the contingencies his advisors are now laying out for him. Operation Hope can help you win an election, but you better have a Plan B if you don’t want jihadists to seize a city in your own free democracy.

Read Less

“There’s a world here, our world, that has been attacked.”

The horrific killings in India leave one at a loss for words. The murders of 29 year-old Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka along with three others at the Chabad House are reverberating in New York and among Jews everywhere. The story of their 2 year-old son’s rescue by their nanny/cook has yet to be fully told. It will no doubt be one of many heroic tales to come out of the monumental acts of evil that have  killed more than 150 innocent souls.

The most insightful remarks to date come not from any American leader, but from Israel. The New York Times reports:

In a news conference broadcast Friday on Israeli radio, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister said: “We know that the targets there that were sought out by the terrorists were Jewish and Israeli targets as well as targets that are perceived as Western targets — American and British.”

She added: “We need to understand that there’s a world here, our world, that has been attacked. And it doesn’t matter if it’s happened in India or somewhere else. We have here radical Islamic elements who do not accept either our existence or the values of the Western world. And only when incidents of this sort occur is it suddenly understood from conversations with leaders from around the entire world that we are actually party to the same battle.”

That is the core of the issue. The lack of similar moral clarity from the U.S. is troubling and deeply disappointing. One hopes that Livni’s words will not go unnoticed, and will jar both our current President and our President-elect into specific and meaningful statements evidencing a grasp of the event’s significance.

The horrific killings in India leave one at a loss for words. The murders of 29 year-old Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka along with three others at the Chabad House are reverberating in New York and among Jews everywhere. The story of their 2 year-old son’s rescue by their nanny/cook has yet to be fully told. It will no doubt be one of many heroic tales to come out of the monumental acts of evil that have  killed more than 150 innocent souls.

The most insightful remarks to date come not from any American leader, but from Israel. The New York Times reports:

In a news conference broadcast Friday on Israeli radio, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister said: “We know that the targets there that were sought out by the terrorists were Jewish and Israeli targets as well as targets that are perceived as Western targets — American and British.”

She added: “We need to understand that there’s a world here, our world, that has been attacked. And it doesn’t matter if it’s happened in India or somewhere else. We have here radical Islamic elements who do not accept either our existence or the values of the Western world. And only when incidents of this sort occur is it suddenly understood from conversations with leaders from around the entire world that we are actually party to the same battle.”

That is the core of the issue. The lack of similar moral clarity from the U.S. is troubling and deeply disappointing. One hopes that Livni’s words will not go unnoticed, and will jar both our current President and our President-elect into specific and meaningful statements evidencing a grasp of the event’s significance.

Read Less

Oh, Grow Up!

Once again, a horrific atrocity has been committed by a group of committed, determined Muslims willing and eager to die in the name of their faith. And, as usual, the Islamic groups have pulled out their standard boilerplate responses:

Disclaimer #1: “These people do not represent True Islam.”

Disclaimer #2: “You must not blame all Muslims for the deeds of these misguided few (who we embraced as brothers right up until they started killing).”

Disclaimer #3: “What they did was terrible, but they were provoked by the oppression and attacks on Muslims around the world, mostly by Israel and the West.”

Disclaimer #4: “We fear a terrible backlash from non-Muslims, and demand that you protect us from those who would threaten us or say mean things or do things to insult us.”

It looks like we’re somewhere between #2 and #3, but we can be quite certain that within a week or two they’ll get around to the fourth point.

It would make a fascinating study to compare two numbers: the number of people killed every year by Muslims for the offense of not being Muslim, and the number of Muslims killed every year by non-Muslims for the offense of being Muslim.

And, maybe, a third number: the number of Muslims killed every year by other Muslims for the offense of not being good enough Muslims, or the wrong type of Muslim.

My completely uneducated guess would be that the first number would be far, far greater than the second — and the third would dwarf the first two combined.

Other religions have had their aggressive, expansionist, conquering phase, but they grew out of it. Islam is still in its aggressive, conquering phase. It’s been often noted that “Islam has bloody borders.” One can only hope that it, too, will grow and mature past it.

And soon — or that backlash that they whine about just might happen some day.

Once again, a horrific atrocity has been committed by a group of committed, determined Muslims willing and eager to die in the name of their faith. And, as usual, the Islamic groups have pulled out their standard boilerplate responses:

Disclaimer #1: “These people do not represent True Islam.”

Disclaimer #2: “You must not blame all Muslims for the deeds of these misguided few (who we embraced as brothers right up until they started killing).”

Disclaimer #3: “What they did was terrible, but they were provoked by the oppression and attacks on Muslims around the world, mostly by Israel and the West.”

Disclaimer #4: “We fear a terrible backlash from non-Muslims, and demand that you protect us from those who would threaten us or say mean things or do things to insult us.”

It looks like we’re somewhere between #2 and #3, but we can be quite certain that within a week or two they’ll get around to the fourth point.

It would make a fascinating study to compare two numbers: the number of people killed every year by Muslims for the offense of not being Muslim, and the number of Muslims killed every year by non-Muslims for the offense of being Muslim.

And, maybe, a third number: the number of Muslims killed every year by other Muslims for the offense of not being good enough Muslims, or the wrong type of Muslim.

My completely uneducated guess would be that the first number would be far, far greater than the second — and the third would dwarf the first two combined.

Other religions have had their aggressive, expansionist, conquering phase, but they grew out of it. Islam is still in its aggressive, conquering phase. It’s been often noted that “Islam has bloody borders.” One can only hope that it, too, will grow and mature past it.

And soon — or that backlash that they whine about just might happen some day.

Read Less

The Risk Of Repeating The Past

Republicans have been mute or inconsistent, meandering about really, in voicing concern about the jumbo stimulus plan and other agenda items from the soon-to-be Obama administration. Amity Shlaes, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, an informed and persistent voice inveighing against New Deal policies can show them the way out of their political and intellectual slump.

Today she takes on Paul Krugman and President-elect Obama. Both are intoxicated with New Deal policies and both, according to Shlaes, ignore the historical failure of mega-spending to bring us out of a depression:

The New Deal is Mr. Obama’s context for the giant infrastructure plan his new team is developing. If he proposes FDR-style recovery programs, then it is useful to establish whether those original programs actually brought recovery. The answer is, they didn’t. New Deal spending provided jobs but did not get the country back to where it was before.

She takes us through the statistics compiled at the time by a young economist, Stanley Lebergott:

The result is what we today call the Lebergott/Bureau of Labor Statistics series. They show one man in four was unemployed when Roosevelt took office. They show joblessness overall always above the 14% line from 1931 to 1940. Six years into the New Deal and its programs to create jobs or help organized labor, two in 10 men were unemployed. Mr. Lebergott went on to become one of America’s premier economic historians at Wesleyan University. His data are what I cite. So do others, including our president-elect in the “60 Minutes” interview.

Later, Lee Ohanian of UCLA studied New Deal unemployment by the number of hours worked. His picture was similar to Mr. Lebergott’s. Even late in 1939, total hours worked by the adult population was down by a fifth from the 1929 level. To be sure, Michael Darby of UCLA has argued that make-work jobs should be counted. Even so, his chart shows that from 1931 to 1940, New Deal joblessness ranges as high as 16% (1934) but never gets below 9%. Nine percent or above is hardly a jobless target to which the Obama administration would aspire.

Why do we care about all this?

Because lawmakers are considering new labor legislation containing “card check,” which would strengthen organized labor and so its wage demands. Because employees continue to pressure firms to spend on health care, without considering they may be making the company unable to hire an unemployed friend. Piling on public-sector jobs or raising wages may take away jobs in the private sector, directly or indirectly.

What the new administration decides about marginal tax rates also matters. Mr. Obama said in a Thanksgiving talk that he wanted to “create or save 2.5 million new jobs.” People who talk about saving new jobs are usually talking about the private-sector’s capacity to generate jobs in the future — not about the public sector alone. We know that the new administration is going to spend. But how? It can try to figure out a way to do that without hurting the private sector. Or it can just spend, Krugman-wise, and risk repeating the very depression we seek to avoid.

This seems the model for the conservatie’s opposition to Obama’s economic approach. Review the facts, address the myth of the New Deal, draw conclusions about the ineffectiveness of that approach and oppose policies that have proven faulty in the past. It is not too complicated or so esoteric for public consumption. And it is consistent with Conservative principles — the private sector is the source of wealth, government spending at a massive level is ineffective and ultimately harmful, low taxes and free trade are key to maintaining our economic health, and measures that burden business (e.g. health care mandates, card check) will retard job creation.

Rather than dwell on the identities of Obama’s appointees, Republicans should use the confirmation hearings of those subject to the Senate’s approval to begin the long and difficult process of educating the American people. Republicans will need to win back their political reputations on the strength of their ideas. They are fortunate to have the facts on their side. But there’s little time to waste.

Republicans have been mute or inconsistent, meandering about really, in voicing concern about the jumbo stimulus plan and other agenda items from the soon-to-be Obama administration. Amity Shlaes, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, an informed and persistent voice inveighing against New Deal policies can show them the way out of their political and intellectual slump.

Today she takes on Paul Krugman and President-elect Obama. Both are intoxicated with New Deal policies and both, according to Shlaes, ignore the historical failure of mega-spending to bring us out of a depression:

The New Deal is Mr. Obama’s context for the giant infrastructure plan his new team is developing. If he proposes FDR-style recovery programs, then it is useful to establish whether those original programs actually brought recovery. The answer is, they didn’t. New Deal spending provided jobs but did not get the country back to where it was before.

She takes us through the statistics compiled at the time by a young economist, Stanley Lebergott:

The result is what we today call the Lebergott/Bureau of Labor Statistics series. They show one man in four was unemployed when Roosevelt took office. They show joblessness overall always above the 14% line from 1931 to 1940. Six years into the New Deal and its programs to create jobs or help organized labor, two in 10 men were unemployed. Mr. Lebergott went on to become one of America’s premier economic historians at Wesleyan University. His data are what I cite. So do others, including our president-elect in the “60 Minutes” interview.

Later, Lee Ohanian of UCLA studied New Deal unemployment by the number of hours worked. His picture was similar to Mr. Lebergott’s. Even late in 1939, total hours worked by the adult population was down by a fifth from the 1929 level. To be sure, Michael Darby of UCLA has argued that make-work jobs should be counted. Even so, his chart shows that from 1931 to 1940, New Deal joblessness ranges as high as 16% (1934) but never gets below 9%. Nine percent or above is hardly a jobless target to which the Obama administration would aspire.

Why do we care about all this?

Because lawmakers are considering new labor legislation containing “card check,” which would strengthen organized labor and so its wage demands. Because employees continue to pressure firms to spend on health care, without considering they may be making the company unable to hire an unemployed friend. Piling on public-sector jobs or raising wages may take away jobs in the private sector, directly or indirectly.

What the new administration decides about marginal tax rates also matters. Mr. Obama said in a Thanksgiving talk that he wanted to “create or save 2.5 million new jobs.” People who talk about saving new jobs are usually talking about the private-sector’s capacity to generate jobs in the future — not about the public sector alone. We know that the new administration is going to spend. But how? It can try to figure out a way to do that without hurting the private sector. Or it can just spend, Krugman-wise, and risk repeating the very depression we seek to avoid.

This seems the model for the conservatie’s opposition to Obama’s economic approach. Review the facts, address the myth of the New Deal, draw conclusions about the ineffectiveness of that approach and oppose policies that have proven faulty in the past. It is not too complicated or so esoteric for public consumption. And it is consistent with Conservative principles — the private sector is the source of wealth, government spending at a massive level is ineffective and ultimately harmful, low taxes and free trade are key to maintaining our economic health, and measures that burden business (e.g. health care mandates, card check) will retard job creation.

Rather than dwell on the identities of Obama’s appointees, Republicans should use the confirmation hearings of those subject to the Senate’s approval to begin the long and difficult process of educating the American people. Republicans will need to win back their political reputations on the strength of their ideas. They are fortunate to have the facts on their side. But there’s little time to waste.

Read Less

The Laws Of The World

There are many types of laws that govern us. There are the laws of the universe: the laws that cover things like physics and chemistry and mathematics. There are the laws of Man, which we make and unmake as we see fit, to govern us. And there are the laws of the world, which are often capricious, brutal, and divorced from anything we would consider justice.

For the laws of the world there is no appeal process, and often the smallest offense is a capital crime. For example, foolish risk-taking. No, it is not just when a child plays on a trampoline and dies in a fall. It is not fair. But it is simply the way of the world.

Other laws of the world are influenced by man, and are also just as capricious. Witness the recent atrocities committed in Mumbai, India.

The terrorists — in a large-scale, carefully-planned, very deliberate, and monstrous plot — focused their attacks on three aspects of the city. First, the financial district, to cause the most disruption to the city’s economic infrastructure — and its role as a global player in the financial markets. Second, the big luxury hotels, where wealthy and prominent foreigners — especially Westerners — could be found to draw the world’s attention on the attacks. Finally, the Jewish center, because that was where they could find Jews.

The Chabad in Mumbai was no great player on the world stage. It represented no concentration of wealth or power or prominence. It was simply a place where Jews in Mumbai (either temporarily or for extended stays) could find a little piece of home, of kinship, a way to reassert their bond with their fellows.

And for that, they were attacked and killed. The mighty, noble warriors killed the 29-year-old rabbi, his 28-year-old wife, and at least one of their children.

Their crime: they broke a long-standing law of the world — being Jewish.
For as long as there have been Jews, there has been an unwritten law: being Jewish is enough to get you killed. This has risen and fallen in severit through the centuries, but it has never completely faded away.

The terrorists in Mumbai targeted the hotels because that was where they knew they could find Westerners, especially Americans and British, and get the world’s attention. They attacked a railway station and a cinema to cause the most casualties. They attacked a police station to foil attempts by authorities to stop them. They attacked a hospital to wreak the most terror and chaos.

And they attacked the Chabad to kill Jews.

Amid the general targets was this one very specific one. One specific place where they could be most certain of finding Jews to kill.

Because, to them, someone simply being Jewish is enough to merit killing.

There’s an old observation that Jews are like canaries in a coal mine. Observe how they are treated, how they live, and you will see the future of the culture in which they are living. When they are thriving, the culture will thrive. And when things start getting bad for the Jews, it’s almost always a harbinger that things will start getting bad for a lot of other people very soon.

There are forces that want to make India inhospitable for Jews, as part of their overall desire to institute a Muslim theocracy. The Indians have so far shown that they will not submit quietly.

We need to do all we can to support India, the world’s largest democracy and a major player in the global economy. But not just because some Jews got killed — but because those that killed those Jews will not stop with the Jews.

That, too, is another law of the world.

There are many types of laws that govern us. There are the laws of the universe: the laws that cover things like physics and chemistry and mathematics. There are the laws of Man, which we make and unmake as we see fit, to govern us. And there are the laws of the world, which are often capricious, brutal, and divorced from anything we would consider justice.

For the laws of the world there is no appeal process, and often the smallest offense is a capital crime. For example, foolish risk-taking. No, it is not just when a child plays on a trampoline and dies in a fall. It is not fair. But it is simply the way of the world.

Other laws of the world are influenced by man, and are also just as capricious. Witness the recent atrocities committed in Mumbai, India.

The terrorists — in a large-scale, carefully-planned, very deliberate, and monstrous plot — focused their attacks on three aspects of the city. First, the financial district, to cause the most disruption to the city’s economic infrastructure — and its role as a global player in the financial markets. Second, the big luxury hotels, where wealthy and prominent foreigners — especially Westerners — could be found to draw the world’s attention on the attacks. Finally, the Jewish center, because that was where they could find Jews.

The Chabad in Mumbai was no great player on the world stage. It represented no concentration of wealth or power or prominence. It was simply a place where Jews in Mumbai (either temporarily or for extended stays) could find a little piece of home, of kinship, a way to reassert their bond with their fellows.

And for that, they were attacked and killed. The mighty, noble warriors killed the 29-year-old rabbi, his 28-year-old wife, and at least one of their children.

Their crime: they broke a long-standing law of the world — being Jewish.
For as long as there have been Jews, there has been an unwritten law: being Jewish is enough to get you killed. This has risen and fallen in severit through the centuries, but it has never completely faded away.

The terrorists in Mumbai targeted the hotels because that was where they knew they could find Westerners, especially Americans and British, and get the world’s attention. They attacked a railway station and a cinema to cause the most casualties. They attacked a police station to foil attempts by authorities to stop them. They attacked a hospital to wreak the most terror and chaos.

And they attacked the Chabad to kill Jews.

Amid the general targets was this one very specific one. One specific place where they could be most certain of finding Jews to kill.

Because, to them, someone simply being Jewish is enough to merit killing.

There’s an old observation that Jews are like canaries in a coal mine. Observe how they are treated, how they live, and you will see the future of the culture in which they are living. When they are thriving, the culture will thrive. And when things start getting bad for the Jews, it’s almost always a harbinger that things will start getting bad for a lot of other people very soon.

There are forces that want to make India inhospitable for Jews, as part of their overall desire to institute a Muslim theocracy. The Indians have so far shown that they will not submit quietly.

We need to do all we can to support India, the world’s largest democracy and a major player in the global economy. But not just because some Jews got killed — but because those that killed those Jews will not stop with the Jews.

That, too, is another law of the world.

Read Less




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