The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, March 31, 2006

The REAL Civil War: Big Media vs. America (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 3/31/2006 10:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

DON'T MISS THIS--Peggy Noonan waxes eloguent: On Living in the Greatest Country on Earth

Peggy Noonan is a woman whose weekly columns in the Wall Street Journal have always taken class and eloquence and her sheer "goodness" to a whole new level. She raises the 'art of writing' bar for all of we mere pretenders. But I have to say that THIS may be the best column she has ever written--this one is a keeper. And man oh man do we need more people like like Peggy speaking the truth these days:

Patriots, Then and Now
With nations as with people, love them or lose them.

I had a great experience the other night. I met some of the 114 living recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award. It was at their annual dinner, held, as it has been the past four years, at the New York Stock Exchange.

I met Nick Oresko. Nick is in his 80s, small, 5-foot-5 or so. Soft white hair, pale-pink skin, thick torso, walks with a cane. Just a nice old guy you'd pass on the street or in the airport without really seeing him. Around his neck was a sky-blue ribbon, and hanging from that ribbon the medal. He let me turn it over. It had his name, his rank, and then "1/23/45. Near Tettington, Germany."

Tettington, Germany. The Battle of the Bulge.

When I got home I looked up his citation on my beloved Internet, where you can Google heroism. U.S. Army Master Sgt. Nicholas Oresko of Company C, 302nd Infantry, 94th Infantry Division was a platoon leader in an attack against strong enemy positions:

Deadly automatic fire from the flanks pinned down his unit. Realizing that a machinegun in a nearby bunker must be eliminated, he swiftly worked ahead alone, braving bullets which struck about him, until close enough to throw a grenade into the German position. He rushed the bunker and, with pointblank rifle fire, killed all the hostile occupants who survived the grenade blast. Another machinegun opened up on him, knocking him down and seriously wounding him in the hip. Refusing to withdraw from the battle, he placed himself at the head of his platoon to continue the assault. As withering machinegun and rifle fire swept the area, he struck out alone in advance of his men to a second bunker. With a grenade, he crippled the dug-in machinegun defending this position and then wiped out the troops manning it with his rifle, completing his second self-imposed, 1-man attack. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused to be evacuated until assured the mission was successfully accomplished. Through quick thinking, indomitable courage, and unswerving devotion to the attack in the face of bitter resistance and while wounded, M /Sgt. Oresko killed 12 Germans, prevented a delay in the assault, and made it possible for Company C to obtain its objective with minimum casualties.

Nick Oresko lives in Tenafly, N.J. If courage were a bright light, Tenafly would glow.

I met Pat Brady of Sumner, Wash., an Army helicopter medevac pilot in Vietnam who'd repeatedly risked his life to save men he'd never met. And Sammy Davis, a big bluff blond from Flat Rock, Ill., on whom the writer Winston Groom based the Vietnam experiences of a character named Forrest Gump. Sgt. Davis saved men like Forrest, but he also took out a bunch of bad guys. And yes, he was wounded in the same way as Forrest. That scene in the movie where Lyndon Johnson puts the medal around Tom Hanks's neck: that's from the film of LBJ putting the medal on Sammy's neck, only they superimposed Mr. Hanks.

I talked to James Livingston of Mount Pleasant, S.C., a Marine, a warrior in Vietnam who led in battle in spite of bad wounds and worse odds. I told him I was wondering about something. Most of us try to be brave each day in whatever circumstances, which means most of us show ourselves our courage with time. What is it like, I asked, to find out when you're a young man, and in a way that's irrefutable, that you are brave? What does it do to your life when no one, including you, will ever question whether you have guts?

He shook his head. The medal didn't prove courage, he said. "It's not bravery, it's taking responsibility." Each of the recipients, he said, had taken responsibility for the men and the moment at a tense and demanding time. They'd cared for others. They took care of their men.

Other recipients sounded a refrain that lingered like Taps. They felt they'd been awarded their great honor in part in the name of unknown heroes of the armed forces who'd performed spectacular acts of courage but had died along with all the witnesses who would have told the story of what they did. For each of the holders of the Medal of Honor there had been witnesses, survivors who could testify. For some great heroes of engagements large and small, maybe the greatest heroes, no one lived to tell the tale.

And so they felt they wore their medals in part for the ones known only to God.

In a brief film on the recipients that was played at the dinner, Leo Thorsness, an Air Force veteran of Vietnam, said something that lingered. He was asked what, when he performed his great act, he was sacrificing for. He couldn't answer for a few seconds. You could tell he was searching for the right words, the right sentence. Then he said, "I get emotional about it. But we're a free country." He said it with a kind of wonder, and gratitude.

And of course, he said it all.

What this all got me thinking about, the next day, was . . . immigration. I know that seems a lurch, but there's a part of the debate that isn't sufficiently noted. There are a variety of things driving American anxiety about illegal immigration and we all know them--economic arguments, the danger of porous borders in the age of terrorism, with anyone able to come in.

But there's another thing. And it's not fear about "them." It's anxiety about us.

It's the broad public knowledge, or intuition, in America, that we are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically. And if you don't do that, you'll lose it all.

We used to do it. We loved our country with full-throated love, we had no ambivalence. We had pride and appreciation. We were a free country. We communicated our pride and delight in this in a million ways--in our schools, our movies, our popular songs, our newspapers. It was just there, in the air. Immigrants breathed it in. That's how the last great wave of immigrants, the European wave of 1880-1920, was turned into a great wave of Americans.

We are not assimilating our immigrants patriotically now. We are assimilating them culturally. Within a generation their children speak Valley Girl on cell phones. "So I'm like 'no," and he's all 'yeah,' and I'm like, 'In your dreams.' " Whether their parents are from Trinidad, Bosnia, Lebanon or Chile, their children, once Americans, know the same music, the same references, watch the same shows. And to a degree and in a way it will hold them together. But not forever and not in a crunch.

So far we are assimilating our immigrants economically, too. They come here and work. Good.

But we are not communicating love of country. We are not giving them the great legend of our country. We are losing that great legend.

What is the legend, the myth? That God made this a special place. That they're joining something special. That the streets are paved with more than gold--they're paved with the greatest thoughts man ever had, the greatest decisions he ever made, about how to live. We have free thought, free speech, freedom of worship. Look at the literature of the Republic: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist papers. Look at the great rich history, the courage and sacrifice, the house-raisings, the stubbornness. The Puritans, the Indians, the City on a Hill.

The genius cluster--Jefferson, Hamilton, Adams, Madison, Franklin, all the rest--that came along at the exact same moment to lead us. And then Washington, a great man in the greatest way, not in unearned gifts well used (i.e., a high IQ followed by high attainment) but in character, in moral nature effortfully developed. How did that happen? How did we get so lucky? (I once asked a great historian if he had thoughts on this, and he nodded. He said he had come to believe it was "providential.")

We fought a war to free slaves. We sent millions of white men to battle and destroyed a portion of our nation to free millions of black men. What kind of nation does this? We went to Europe, fought, died and won, and then taxed ourselves to save our enemies with the Marshall Plan. What kind of nation does this? Soviet communism stalked the world and we were the ones who steeled ourselves and taxed ourselves to stop it. Again: What kind of nation does this?

Only a very great one. Maybe the greatest of all.

Do we teach our immigrants that this is what they're joining? That this is the tradition they will now continue, and uphold?

Do we, today, act as if this is such a special place? No, not always, not even often. American exceptionalism is so yesterday. We don't want to be impolite. We don't want to offend. We don't want to seem narrow. In the age of globalism, honest patriotism seems like a faux pas.

And yet what is true of people is probably true of nations: if you don't have a well-grounded respect for yourself, you won't long sustain a well-grounded respect for others.

Because we do not communicate to our immigrants, legal and illegal, that they have joined something special, some of them, understandably, get the impression they've joined not a great enterprise but a big box store. A big box store on the highway where you can get anything cheap. It's a good place. But it has no legends, no meaning, and it imparts no spirit.

Who is at fault? Those of us who let the myth die, or let it change, or refused to let it be told. The politically correct nitwit teaching the seventh-grade history class who decides the impressionable young minds before him need to be informed, as their first serious history lesson, that the Founders were hypocrites, the Bill of Rights nothing new and imperfect in any case, that the Indians were victims of genocide, that Lincoln was a clinically depressed homosexual who compensated for the storms within by creating storms without . . .

You can turn any history into mud. You can turn great men and women into mud too, if you want to.

And it's not just the nitwits, wherever they are, in the schools, the academy, the media, though they're all harmful enough. It's also the people who mean to be honestly and legitimately critical, to provide a new look at the old text. They're not noticing that the old text--the legend, the myth--isn't being taught anymore. Only the commentary is. But if all the commentary is doubting and critical, how will our kids know what to love and revere? How will they know how to balance criticism if they've never heard the positive side of the argument?

Those who teach, and who think for a living about American history, need to be told: Keep the text, teach the text, and only then, if you must, deconstruct the text.

When you don't love something you lose it. If we do not teach new Americans to love their country, and not for braying or nationalistic reasons but for reasons of honest and thoughtful appreciation, and gratitude, for a history that is something new in the long story of man, then we will begin to lose it. That Medal of Honor winner, Leo Thorsness, who couldn't quite find the words--he only found it hard to put everything into words because he knew the story, the legend, and knew it so well. Only then do you become "emotional about it." Only then are you truly American.
DiscerningTexan, 3/31/2006 10:09:00 PM | Permalink | |

Steyn on Immigration, McCain, Media Sedition, and more

Mark Steyn's weekly visit to The Hugh Hewitt show, as captured on RadioBlogger started the interview this week on the hot topic in the US, Immigration Reform--but by no means does he end there. As always, Steyn's intellect and articulate repartee is unparalleled--and Wednesday night, he was in rare form:

HH: And joining us on Wednesday as opposed to his normal date on Thursday because of my travel schedule, columnist to the world, Mark Steyn. Mark, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

MS: Good to be with you, Hugh.

HH: Mark, let's start with the issue that is raging in Washington, D.C., the McCain-Kennedy bill, the immigration issue, and the meltdown among Republican over it. What's your assessment of what's going on there?

MS: Well, you know, I think there is a big problem with immigration. I'm personally always reluctant to speak about it, because I belong to that very, very tiny, tiny, tiny demographic of documented immigrants. And judging from that parade in Los Angeles the other day, there's far fewer of us than there are of the other kind.

HH: Yes, that's true.

MS: And if you talk to legal immigrants, they're the ones who are the most resentful of this whole illegal business, because we're the ones, we pay the huge fees to immigration lawyers, we filled in all the paperwork. I've stood in line at these dreary government offices to get these stupid cards and these stupid government numbers, to go through the whole process officially. And everyone whose done that is resentful to the idea that somehow if you just make it across the border, and you get here, you can stay here, and half the state governments in this country will do what they can to make your situation as painless as possible, and the public schools...I'll give you a small example of schools. If you're a legal immigrant, and you enroll your children in a local grade school, they want to know whether they've had all the shots, you know, for this and that.

HH: Sure. Vaccinations.

MS: If you're a legal immigrant, you have to then, you're faced with then getting the documentation out of whatever country you happen to have come from. And sometimes, that can be difficult, because they give them different things at different times, and the school nurse will give you a lot of harrassment. If you actually just say okay, scrub that, they're not legal immigrants, I want them redesignated as illegal immigrants, then you won't be asked for any paperwork. It's a lot easier. The problem at the moment is that it's a rational decision, coming into this country, to be an illegal immigrant. And that is the problem.

HH: Mark Steyn, I don't know what year you emigrated, but you ought to go back and get a refund if this thing passes, that's for sure. My question is, though, we've got 11 to 15 million illegals. It's a complicated problem. We're not going to throw them out of the country. But given that, is the first thing we should do secure the border? Or is the first thing we should do legalize or regularize, or use any euphemismize that you want, the 11 to 15 million?

MS: Well, no. I think if you're you say, there is a problem. You've got a population that is basically four times the size of the average European Union nation...

HH: Right.

MS: in the United States illegally. Four times the size of the population of Ireland, say. Two or three times the size of the population of Denmark or Norway. So I think the first thing you have to do is say well, that is a problem, but before we deal with that, before we come up with some way of finessing that, we will secure our borders. I mean, I do think this is a national security issue, because when I hear this sort of pseudo-isolationist talk that comes out from many people on the right particularly, I say well look. You've got a country here that can't even secure its borders against two relatively benign states, yet now you're saying you'll be able to tell the whole world to go to hell, and that Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan doesn't matter, and the whole place can go to hell. You can't even enforce your border against some sleepy Mexicans and wily Canadians. And America has to be able to demonstrate...sovereignty begins at the border. You don't have a nation if the nation doesn't have borders.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I understand why Ted Kennedy and liberal Democrats want to naturalize and legalize, and then get voting, the 11 to 15 million whom they perceive as their voters. I understand that. They might be as wrong as Gladstone was about the enfranchisement of the late 1870's, but I do not understand why John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Arlen Specter, and Mike DeWine want to go out of order, leaving the border unsecure, but getting to naturalization or amnesty first. How do you explain McCain?

MS: Well, I think a lot of Republicans on this issue have, are operating between what they see as two pincers. One is that if you come out strongly against immigration, illegal immigration, you're seen as somehow being quasi-racist by the media. So you lose a lot of your good...if you're an anti-immigration Republican, you lose a lot of whatever good press you won. And we've seen, particularly in the case of Lindsey Graham, that that's very important to him. And at the same time, there is no doubt that there is a constituency in the Republican Party that thinks that somehow the economy is dependent on this huge flow of illegal immigrants. Again, that's something that is, i think, repugnant to legal immigrants, because if it's an economic issue, then certainly this country should be capable of devising swift, efficient, safe, secure legal immigration to get them in here. But the idea that somehow letting people annex different industries, stage by stage, in order to artificially depress the cost of operating those industries as a conservative position, I think is ludicrous.

HH: But I go back to McCain, Mark Steyn, because first, there was McCain-Feingold, then there was the Gang of 14, and now we have McCain-Kennedy. And it seems he will never not subjugate the interest of his party to his own perception of political self-interest. Is that fair? Or do you think he's just trying to do the best he can?

MS: No, I don't think that. I mean, my observation of John McCain, and I understand he's very popular with a lot of people in the United States. My observation of him during the 2000 campaign, the 2000 New Hampshire primary season, is that he is one of the most incredible narcissists on the political scene. And that basically, John McCain is very good at talking himself into believing that whatever position he adopts is, by virtue of the fact that he's adopted it, the sensible, sane position. That's certainly true of McCain-Feingold, and I think he'll do a similar job talking himself into it with this view of him on immigration.

HH: Narcissism is a word that came up much in my e-mail overnight in connection with a lengthy interview I did yesterday with Michael Ware, Time Magazine Baghdad bureau chief. Did you have a chance to see that, Mark?

MS: Yes, I did, and I thought it was an incredible interview. And in a way, incredible because I would imagine that nobody, no foreign correspondent for a major Western news organization would regard it as unusual. And that's what's so depressing. The bit where he was talking about yes, he's got contacts in Zarqawi's organization, and he's been taken on these privileged little trips to meet with them and all the rest of it, that's the complete opposite of...I don't know how you feel, Hugh. You probably feel the same way. But I felt gradually exhausted since September 11th, 2001, that it's very dispiriting trying to keep going in this phase of what is a very long conflict. And the reason I do it is because I want us to win. I don't particularly like journalism. I don't particularly like writing newspaper columns. I'm sick of having to make what I think should be an obvious case again and again and again. And I'd much rather pack it in and sit on my porch in New Hampshire and enjoy the view of the mountains. But I do it because I want us to win. And the idea that he has, this diseased sense that somehow just the story, the story is somehow how you demonstrate your journalistic integrity and purity, and might get you nominated for some prize that nobody cares about somewhere down the line, that's not what it's about. I mean, why does he want to be a journalist, if it's not to be on the right side of history. This is ridiculous.

HH: That's...there was a moral vacuum there, and the left is mocking the interview, suggesing that I was arguing that we are front line troops in the information war. I wasn't. I was suggesting that every civilian is invested in this, because of a hole in the ground three miles from here.

MS: Exactly, and that's where your left-wing detractors are missing the point, is that we're all, in a sense, we're all conscripted in this war. Those 3,000 people who died on September 11th, they weren't serving forces, they were just fellows who got up in the morning and went to work, or went to Logan Airport and got on a plane. And that's the thing. We're all conscripted in this war, whether we know it or not.

HH: I think you would rather be writing things like obituaries. I have to get to this obituary of this Telegraph columnist about whom I had never heard, but I read laughing out loud on the airplane East this week. It's in the Atlantic Monthly. People should run out and get it. Tell people about this guy. What an idiosyncratic writer.

MS: Well, Michael Wharton, who was a colleague of mine at the Telegraph in London, and he died in his 90's a few weeks ago, and he basically wrote this satirical column for fifty years in the Telegraph, in which gradually all the things that he satirized about eventually came true. You know, a lot of things we take for granted now, like bishops who believe, trendy bishops who believe in nothing, insane environmentalists, social workers who say we're all guilty. In a sense, he developed a lot of these features in the modern world as sort of satirical things in the early 60's, and then had the horror, as great satirists often do, of finding that they all came true.

HH: Yeah, he thought be was a humorist, but he turned out to be a prophet. It's a wonderful tribute to your colleague. I hope people pick up the Atlantic Monthly. Mark Steyn, columnist to the world, always a pleasure.
DiscerningTexan, 3/31/2006 08:36:00 PM | Permalink | |

Victor Davis Hanson Critiques the Critics

It is after all a mid-term election year, and once again the lunatic fringe is busy attempting to re-write the actual history of the Iraq War. Fortunately we have Victor Davis Hanson, a REAL historian--and Mr. Hanson has a real knack for uncovering deceit (from National Review Online):

Opponents of the war in Iraq, both original critics and the mea culpa recent converts, have made eight assumptions. The first six are wrong, the last two still unsettled.

1. Saddam was never connected to al Qaeda, the perpetrators of 9/11.

2. There was no real threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

3. The United Nations and our allies were justifiably opposed on principle to the invasion.

4. A small cabal of neoconservative (and mostly Jewish) intellectuals bullied the administration into a war that served Israel’s interest more than our own.

5. Saddam could not be easily deposed, or at least he could not be successfully replaced with a democratic government.

6. The architects of this war and the subsequent occupation are mostly inept (“dangerously incompetent”) — and are exposed daily as clueless by a professional cadre of disinterested journalists.

7. In realist terms, the benefits to be gained from the war will never justify the costs incurred.

8. We cannot win.

First, notice how the old criticism that Saddam was not connected to al Qaeda has now morphed into a fallback position that “Saddam was not connected to September 11” — even though the latter argument was never officially advanced as a casus belli.

Opponents have retreated to this position because we know that al Qaeda cadres were in Kurdistan, and that al Zarqawi fled to Baghdad, as did a mastermind of the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, Abdul Rahman Yasin.

The Clinton administration in 1998 officially cited Iraqi agents as involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. That is part of the reason why the U.S. Senate, not the Bush administration, authorized a war against Saddam in October 2002: “ Whereas members of al-Qaeda, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq."

From the slowly emerging Baathist archives, we are learning that for more than a decade Saddam’s agents had some contacts with, and offered help to, al Qaeda operatives from the Sudan to the Philippines.

The issue is closed: Saddam Hussein’s regime had a mutually beneficial association with al Qaeda. All that remains in doubt is the degree to which Iraq’s generic support enabled al Qaeda to pull off operations like September 11. It may be that Saddam and Osama, in their views of Islam and jihad, were as antithetical to one another as Japanese and Germans were in attitudes about racial superiority. But in both cases, rogues find common ground in their opposition to hated Western liberalism.

Second, we know now that worries over Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were both justified and understandable. Postwar interviews with top Iraqi generals reveal that Saddam’s own military assumed that his stockpiles of WMDs were still current — confirming the intelligence estimates from Europe and most of the Arab world.

In addition, Iraqi arsenals of WMDs, in the judgment of both the Clinton administration and the United Nations, were still unaccounted for in March 2003. And even if the stocks were moved or destroyed, the prerequisites for the rapid mass-production of biological and chemical agents — petrodollar wealth, scientific expertise, alternate-use facilities, and a will to produce and use them — were met in Saddam’s Iraq.

Third, the opposition of the United Nations to the invasion lacks any moral significance, given the postwar revelations that the $50 billion Oil-for-Food scandal not only led to thousands of starved Iraqi civilians, but also enriched both Saddam’s family and U.N. insiders themselves. Europe’s opposition may have seemed ethical, but when one learns of French and Russian oil deals with Saddam, and German construction projects that fortified Saddam’s own Führerbunker, European principle too evaporates into nothing.

Fourth, the charge of neocon plotting has now reemerged under a patina of academic respectability in a recent paper by Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Harvard Kennedy School of Government academic dean Stephen Walt. “Some Americans believe that this was a war for oil, but there is hardly any direct evidence to support this claim. Instead, the war was motivated in good part by a desire to make Israel more secure.” At the tip of that Jewish spear was a “band” that was “small,” but of course still “a driving force”: “Within the US, the main driving force behind the war was a small band of neo-conservatives, many with ties to Likud.” Instead of silly allegations of conspiracy theories, we are lectured ad nauseam that an “Israeli lobby” got us into Iraq.

This recrudescence of blaming Israel first is false for a variety of obvious reasons. Likud opposed much of American strategy. That is why Ariel Sharon was hated by his former base — and why there is now a new political party in Israel that suffers the same charge that it caves to American pressures all too easily. And far more influential than Israel in American academia and politics is the role of Gulf State petrodollars and worry over Middle East oil.

There is no need for an Israeli lobby in the United States, not when nearly 70 percent of the American people support Israel because it is an atoll of Western democratic values in a sea of theocracy and dictatorship. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice — no Jews there, just plenty of hard-headed veterans who are not easily hoodwinked by supposedly clever Straussians in the shadows.

Our point man in Iraq, who prior to the war urged the removal of Saddam Hussein, is Ambassador Zalmay M. Khalilzad — a Muslim and an Afghan-American. And our current general in charge of all American troops at Centcom in the Middle East, General John Abizaid, is an Arab-American. Meanwhile, the U.S. pressured Israel to get out of Gaza, to support elections on the West Bank that led to the victory of Hamas, and to dismantle more settlements.

Fifth, after the three-week victory of April 2003, we have now forgotten the earlier prognostications of millions of refugees, oil wells afire, and thousands of dead that were to follow in Iraq. Twenty-three hundred American fatalities are grievous losses, but must be weighed against three successful elections, and the real chance that such sacrifice might result in the first true Arab democracy emerging in Iraq, with ramifications beyond the Middle East for generations to come. Currently, tens of thousands of Iraqis are the only Arabs in the world who daily risk their lives to fight al Qaeda terrorists — something that just may be in America’s interest.

Sixth, we have not had another September 11. Two-thirds of the leadership of al Qaeda is dismantled. Fifty million people have voted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Syria is out of Lebanon. The Middle East is in democratic turmoil from the Gulf to Egypt and Libya, not mired in the old autocratic stasis. The Europeans are waking up to the dangers of Islamism as the Western world seeks to deal with a nuclear Iran.

Weigh that success against the behavior of the media that sees mostly American incompetence. At CBS, Dan Rather insisted to us that a clearly forged memo, but one that fit his own ideological agenda, was authentic. Michael Isikoff relied on one anonymous — and unreliable — source about the purported desecration of a Koran that had serious consequences for thousands in the Middle East. CNN’s executive Eason Jordan admitted that his network passed on coverage of a mass-murdering Saddam Hussein — and later he wrongly alleged that the American military deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq.

Now we hear Time Baghdad Bureau Chief Michael Ware, in a drunken, live interview (“In fact, I'm drinking now…I try to stay as drunk for as long as possible while I'm here”) from the heart of dry Muslim Iraq, recklessly throwing around charges that American soldiers are guilty of manhandling Iraqi women (“We've seen allegations that women have been mishandled or roughly handled. That always inflames passions”) and terrorizing civilians (“We've also seen insurgents criticize other insurgent groups, 'cause you're not doing enough to get the chicks out! I mean, that's how important it can be, this is a matter of great honor, and it's a spark”). Ware’s are precisely the lies and fantasies that feed the Islamists.

Indeed, the better example of ineptitude in this war lies with the media that demands from others apologies for incompetence that it will never offer itself. Few professions today ask so much of so many others and so very little of themselves.

Seventh, we won’t know the ultimate judgment of costs and benefits in Iraq until its parliament convenes and the executive government is formed and operates. If we leave now and a Lebanon follows, then, of course, the invasion was a costly mistake. If we secure the country for a constitutional government that brings freedom, order, and prosperity to its long-suffering people, then it will be the most welcomed global development since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Had the British and Americans quit in 1943 — after Pearl Harbor, the fall of Singapore and the Philippines, the Kasserine Pass, Tobruk, and other assorted disasters — then the carnage of 1939 to 1943 would have properly been seen as a tragedy that led not to emergence of a free Europe and a reborn Japan, but as needless sacrifice against the unstoppable juggernaut of Asian and German fascism.

As for the eighth complaint that we cannot win (or “the war is lost”), the verdict is still in the future and depends mostly on us.
Our military cannot be defeated by either the Islamists or their autocratic supporters. We have the right strategy of hunting down terrorists, securing the homeland, and insidiously, but carefully, promoting democratic reform in the Middle East (an impossible notion, by the way, with the sinister presence of an oil rich and genocidal Saddam Hussein, given his history of attacking four of his neighbors.)

We have even articulated, at last, an exegesis of the dangers of radical Islam — why it hates Western freedom and how it thrives on the oil, misery, and dictatorship of the Middle East.
There remains this last unknown — how well can a liberal democracy, in its greatest age of affluence, leisure, and self-critical reflection, still fight a distant war against emissaries of the Dark Ages who seek to behead apostates, blow up democrats, and silence with death writers, journalists, and cartoonists. It is not just our democratic values versus their IEDs, but whether our idealism still has the resilience to defeat their nihilism.

Or put more directly: Can Western enlightenment and power, embedded in deep cynicism, still prevail over ignorance and self-inflicted pathology energized by fanaticism?

DiscerningTexan, 3/31/2006 08:07:00 PM | Permalink | |
Thursday, March 30, 2006

(click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 3/30/2006 08:51:00 PM | Permalink | |

George Will: Guard the Borders and Face Facts

I haven't been overjoyed with George Will lately, but I have always respected his intellect and integrity. That respect grew today when I saw his take (via Real Clear Politics and the WaPo) on the issue of our Borders--Will argues forcefully that America HAS to close them. Key grafs:

America, the only developed nation that shares a long -- 2,000-mile -- border with a Third World nation, could seal that border. East Germany showed how: walls, barbed wire, machine gun-toting border guards in towers, mine fields, large irritable dogs. And we have modern technologies that East Germany never had -- sophisticated sensors, unmanned surveillance drones, etc.

It is a melancholy fact that many of these may have to be employed along the U.S.-Mexican border. The alternatives are dangerous and disagreeable conditions for Americans residing near the border, and vigilantism. It is, however, important that Americans feel melancholy about taking such measures to frustrate immigration that usually is an entrepreneurial act -- taking risks to get to America to do work most Americans spurn. As debate about immigration policy boils, augmented border control must not be the entire agenda, lest other thorny problems be ignored, and lest America turn a scowling face to the south and, to some extent, to many immigrants already here.

But control belongs at the top of the agenda, for four reasons.

First, control of borders is an essential attribute of sovereignty.

Second, current conditions along the border mock the rule of law.

Third, large rallies by immigrants, many of them here illegally, protesting more stringent control of immigration reveal that many immigrants have, alas, assimilated: They have acquired the entitlement mentality spawned by America's welfare state, asserting an entitlement to exemption from the laws of the society they invited themselves into.

Fourth, giving Americans a sense that borders are controlled is a prerequisite for calm consideration of what policy that control should serve.
DiscerningTexan, 3/30/2006 08:41:00 PM | Permalink | |

Kaplan goes back in--to Iraq's Heart of Darkness

Anyone who has not read Robert Kaplan's epic Imperial Grunts simply cannot be said to be fully educated about the American Militray and its worldwide activities, its mission, its professionalism, and its war for hearts and minds. After this extraordinary book, Kaplan is now going back for more--for a promised sequel. Kaplan's first stop:Mosul, Iraq. Courtesty of Michael Yon's excellent blog, and The Atlantic Monthly, a lengthy article about Iraq at the crossroads. Don't miss this one.
DiscerningTexan, 3/30/2006 08:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

Organ harvesting death camps in China?

We all know about Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen and the other death camps in Nazi Germany. We found out much later that the six million incenerated in the Third Reich did not come close to the 21 plus million who perished in Stalin's (and his successors' Gulags). The world rcoiled in horror in post-Vietnam war Cambodia as an emboldened Communist crackpot (that would be Pol Pot) slaughtered millions in "The Killing Fields". We have seen genocide touch the Sudan, Bosnia and Serbia, and Saddams killing fields in Northern Iraq. But strangely, the world is not hearing much about what is either a well-kept secret--or worse, a story that the mainstream media is choosing to ignore--occurring today in a Northern China province known as Sujiatun.

Remember the Michael Crichton book and film "Coma", in which a doctor discovers that patients are being killed for their organs? Well it turns out that Crichton was prophetic--only he underestimated the monstrous scale that evil men could take this concept.

We have now a number of reports coming out of Communist China, summarized in this essay from Jay Nordlinger--the word is suddenly getting out about why China is the number one market in the world for human organs--they are murdering political and religious dissidents to harvest them en masse:

There is a horrifying story going around the world: In the northeast of China, thousands of prisoners are being held, so that they can be killed for their organs. The prisoners are practitioners of Falun Gong, the meditation-and-exercise system. The facility at which they are being held — called a "concentration camp" or a "death camp" — is at Sujiatun. Chinese human-rights activists believe that this name should cause the same shudders as Treblinka and the others.

I cannot say whether this story is true; I can say that one ought to pay attention.

Of course, "organ-harvesting" is a very familiar story: The PRC has been doing it, with prisoners, for many years. In 2001, the U.S. Congress held hearings on the matter, which caused a sensation. But the sensation died down, as sensations tend to do. Organ-harvesting has gone on, with no negative consequences for the Chinese government.

Organ-selling is a huge business for the Chinese. You can obtain organs in China as you can nowhere else: any type, and very speedily.

The subject of organ-harvesting has been revived by the discovery of Sujiatun. I will not attempt to do justice to this story in this space (as though justice could be done). I will mainly direct you to the website of the Epoch Times, and specifically to its archive on Sujiatun: here. The Epoch Times is an international newspaper whose reason for being is to tell the truth about China. Media in China itself, of course, are government-owned or -controlled.

I also wish to direct you to an article by the tireless Bill Gertz of the Washington Times: here.

How do we know about Sujiatun? Mainly through two witnesses, indescribably brave. One is a woman whose husband was a doctor who took part in the organ-harvesting; the other is a Chinese journalist, long based in Japan, who investigated the matter. Both are now in the United States, in hiding, in fear of their lives. I talked to the journalist, by phone, on Monday morning.

First, a further word about the woman: You can read an Epoch Times interview with her here, and a follow-up story here. They will give you all the details a human mind can take, and probably more. In brief, her husband became deranged by his work, unable to go on. The wife did not intend to step forward as a witness, but concluded that she had no choice.

I will indulge in just a few details. The woman's husband said to her, "You don't understand my suffering. Those Falun Gong practitioners were alive. It might be easier for me if they were dead, but they were alive."

The woman also said this, to the Epoch Times: "Some poor farmers from nearby places were hired to work in the boiler room. [This served as the crematory.] They were penniless when they first came. . . . But they could scrape up some watches, finger rings, necklaces, and so on. The amount is not small."

Finally, she said, "I would like to expose this to the international community, so those who are not yet killed can be saved. Also, I would like to expose this as an atonement for my family."

Now to the Chinese journalist: His name is Jin Zhong — or so he calls himself for the purpose of media reports. I spoke to him when I was meeting with some Falun Gong activists in a New York conference room. One of them, Charles Lee, was recently released from a Chinese prison after three years' confinement. He was tortured, and I will be writing about him in the next issue of National Review. Dr. Lee is a U.S. citizen, by the way.

And, in a strange twist, he bore witness to organ-harvesting, while a young medical researcher in China, years ago. Prisoners would be shot in the back of the head, and their bodies would be hustled to a waiting van. There, doctors would extract their organs; Charles Lee served as an assistant, holding the instruments. Sometimes, the prisoners seemed not quite dead, he says.

Before Dr. Lee and I talked, I was able to interview Jin Zhong by phone, using an associate of Dr. Lee's as a translator.
For an extended report on Mr. Jin, please see this Epoch Times article. I will say simply that he found out about Sujiatun when he was investigating SARS, and the extent of the Chinese government's cover-up of that problem. Some local officials let slip information about the Falun Gong camp, and its purpose. He could not believe what he was hearing: It was too horrific, too inhuman. But he pursued the story, and confirmed that what he had heard was true.

I ask Mr. Jin whether the officials felt guilty about this murder and organ-harvesting. He says, "Not at all."

Mr. Jin soon attracted the attention of the police, and was twice detained. He says he was tortured, while in detention. He managed to return to Japan, and then come to the United States. His family remains in Japan, and he says they have received death threats. Obviously, he fears for his own life here in America. PRC agents have never been respecters of national territory.

For those who care, Mr. Jin is not himself a Falun Gong practitioner. (Neither is the woman whose husband performed organ-harvesting.) "I'm not even interested," says Mr. Jin. But he is interested in humanity, and in justice. He says, "I trust that the CCP [the Chinese Communist Party] will try to kill me," for telling about Sujiatun. His life would have been far easier if he had kept quiet, but his conscience would not allow it.

I compliment him on his bravery. He says, "You're a journalist. You wouldn't have done any differently, in my position." I reply, "I can only hope that that is so."

Is the U.S. government aware of Sujiatun? Mr. Jin says he has informed interested congressmen and their aides. And friends of human rights in the media are weighing in. Peter Worthington concluded a piece in the Toronto Sun this way: "China's use of prisoners as guinea pigs, or as a supply to meet world demand, makes Nazi medical experimentation seem almost benign by comparison."

No one should bet that Sujiatun will penetrate the world's consciousness. Governments everywhere are keen on smooth relations with the PRC; media, even in free countries, seem to want to help them. The reluctance of major newspapers and TV networks to report on atrocities in China is a sad subject.

And I recall what Robert Conquest, the great analyst of totalitarianism, once told me: The world has seldom wanted to believe witnesses. Ten, 20, or 30 years later, maybe, but rarely sooner.

Testimony out of the early Soviet Union was scoffed at; these were "rumors in Riga." Tales of the Holocaust were Jewish whining. When escapees from Mao spilled into Hong Kong, they were "embittered warlords." When Cubans landed in Florida, they were "Batista stooges." And so on.

There is an extra incentive to look away from persecution when the victims are Falun Gong. Many people are suspicious of these meditators and slow-motion exercisers, with their strange philosophy. And massive Communist propaganda against them has not been without an effect. Western business leaders see Falun Gong standing in their way, or at least irritating them.

I have no idea what will happen to Jin Zhong, or to the wife of the doctor, or to the prisoners who remain in Sujiatun. It may well be that, with some international attention, the Chinese government will Potemkinize the place. They have done as much before, as have many governments like them. And it could be that people will simply not care about Sujiatun, no matter what is proven.

My main hope, at the moment, is that readers will glance at the reports I have mentioned, especially those in the Epoch Times. Because, sometimes, the unthinkable needs to be thought about, just a bit.
DiscerningTexan, 3/30/2006 07:02:00 PM | Permalink | |

Just Under the Wire--and still a proud member of the "Army"

Count me in as someone who has ordered my copy of the new Glenn Reynolds book An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths, and who did so last week--BEFORE this excellent review by Mark Steyn. Below is the introduction to the longer review--go here to read the rest:

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but what happened to all the mom 'n' pop stores? Go to Anytown, U.S.A. -- or Canada, or Belgium or Latvia -- and it's all Home Depot and Wal-Mart and Dunkin' Donuts.

And yet there is a curious exception to this trend: the media. If the New York Times and ABC and Knight Ridder are the equivalent of the Wal-Marts and Home Depots, they're getting picked off five, 10, a hundred customers at a time by a gazillion mom 'n' pop outfits -- the Drudge Report, Power Line, and a myriad of other Internet wallahs.
Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, was one of the first of the big-time bloggers -- or, as we old-media bores say, "bloggers." He hung out his shingle in the summer of 2001 as Instapundit.

By Sept. 10, he had some 1,600 readers a day. On Sept. 11, it tripled, and in the weeks after that it soared. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world now dial him up first thing in the morning and throughout the day.

That's a lot fewer than, say, the seven million viewers who tune in to the CBS Evening News. But, on the other hand, professor Reynolds' overheads are less than the budget for Dan Rather's hairdresser. Hurricane Dan recently retired, of course, and his successor, Bob Schieffer, is more modestly coiffed, but it will take more economies than that to negate my point: a guy with a laptop and some friendly emailers from Hollywood to Afghanistan can pull an audience a 10th of the size of a mega-global news operation in a big skyscraper in New York full of thousands of employees with lavish benefits.

Reynolds has now written a book called An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths. It's one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in a long time, not because the author is a great prose stylist but because he's an enthusiast who communicates his enthusiasm very infectiously and effectively. He's one of those guys who, if he gets a yen to do something, just gets on with it. Fifteen years ago, he decided he'd had enough of lousy tasteless American beer, so he decided to brew his own. A few years later, he decided he'd like to start producing albums, so he did. His brother had business that took him to Africa, and had heard some Ugandan band he liked, and there was some Polish company that makes studio-quality software you can download off the Internet, and so a few weeks later he was a record producer. He's not Phil Ramone or Mitch Miller, but on the other hand he's not losing money. And, as he points out, for the boys in the band, when you convert any U.S. dollars into Ugandan shillings it goes a long way.
DiscerningTexan, 3/30/2006 06:44:00 PM | Permalink | |
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

We Pledge Allegiance to...WHO???

Michelle Marquez (left), a student at Lamar Middle School in Irving, TX, is shown--in this photo by Irwin Thompson of the Dallas Morning News-- being scorned and criticized by her fellow Hispanic students, who were protesting immigration policy in Dallas. Notice the angry students to the right. Ms. Marquez was quoted as saying “My heart is with the Mexican flag and Mexico, but I’m standing on American ground and I’m Mexican-American.” (click on photo to enlarge--H/T to Mike Gallagher)
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 09:07:00 PM | Permalink | |

Plain Talk: Thomas Sowell on Immigration, Morality, "Buzz Words", and the dumbing-down of "Truth"

Thomas Sowell has left us, in two parts, by far the most honest, moral, and truthful analysis of the entire Immigration debate that I have yet read. The language, common sense, and undeniable use of fact in these columns written for the indispensible (of which I am proud to be a supporting member) speaks volumes about the integrity of Sowell the man; about the lack of integrity of many if not most of our politicians today; and about the great harm that is being done by not addressing this growing problem head-on, openly and honestly. So kick up your heels, sit back, grab a cool drink, and enjoy--this is definitely worth your time--and worth passing on to your friends and loved ones who care about this great country:

Part One - published on on March 28, 2006

Immigration is yet another issue which we seem unable to discuss rationally -- in part because words have been twisted beyond recognition in political rhetoric.

We can't even call illegal immigrants "illegal immigrants." The politically correct evasion is "undocumented workers."

Do American citizens go around carrying documents with them when they work or apply for work? Most Americans are undocumented workers but they are not illegal immigrants. There is a difference.

The Bush administration is pushing a program to legalize "guest workers." But what is a guest? Someone you have invited. People who force their way into your home without your permission are called gate crashers.

If truth-in-packaging laws applied to politics, the Bush guest worker program would have to be called a "gate-crasher worker" program. The President's proposal would solve the problem of illegal immigration by legalizing it after the fact.

We could solve the problem of all illegal activity anywhere by legalizing it. Why use this approach only with immigration? Why should any of us pay a speeding ticket if immigration scofflaws are legalized after the fact for committing a federal crime?

Most of the arguments for not enforcing our immigration laws are exercises in frivolous rhetoric and slippery sophistry, rather than serious arguments that will stand up under scrutiny.

How often have we heard that illegal immigrants "take jobs that Americans will not do"? What is missing in this argument is what is crucial in any economic argument: price.

Americans will not take many jobs at their current pay levels -- and those pay levels will not rise so long as poverty-stricken immigrants are willing to take those jobs.

If Mexican journalists were flooding into the United States and taking jobs as reporters and editors at half the pay being earned by American reporters and editors, maybe people in the media would understand why the argument about "taking jobs that Americans don't want" is such nonsense.

Another variation on the same theme is that we "need" the millions of illegal aliens already in the United States. "Need" is another word that blithely ignores prices.

If jet planes were on sale for a thousand dollars each, I would probably "need" a couple of them -- an extra one to fly when the first one needed repair or maintenance. But since these planes cost millions of dollars, I don't even "need" one.

There is no fixed amount of "need," independently of prices, whether with planes or workers.

None of the rhetoric and sophistry that we hear about immigration deals with the plain and ugly reality: Politicians are afraid of losing the Hispanic vote and businesses want cheap labor.

What millions of other Americans want has been brushed aside, as if they don't count, and they have been soothed with pious words. But now the voters are getting fed up, which is why there are immigration bills in Congress.

The old inevitability ploy is often trotted out in immigration debates: It is not possible to either keep out illegal immigrants or to expel the ones already here.

If you mean stopping every single illegal immigrant from getting in or expelling every single illegal immigrant who is already here, that may well be true. But does the fact that we cannot prevent every single murder cause us to stop enforcing the laws against murder?

Since existing immigration laws are not being enforced, how can anyone say that it would not do any good to try? People who get caught illegally crossing the border into the United States pay no penalty whatever. They are sent back home and can try again.
What if bank robbers who were caught were simply told to give the money back and not do it again? What if murderers who were caught were turned loose and warned not to kill again? Would that be proof that it is futile to take action, when no action was taken?

Let's hope the immigration bills before Congress can at least get an honest debate, instead of the word games we have been hearing for too long.

Part Two - published on March 29, 2006

Bogus arguments are a tip-off that you wouldn't buy the real reasons for what someone is doing. Phony arguments and phony words are the norm in discussions of immigration policy.

It starts with a refusal to call illegal aliens "illegal aliens" and ends with asking for "guest worker" status for people who are not guests but gate crashers. As for the substantive arguments, they are as phony as the verbal evasions.

What about all those illegal workers that we "need"? Many of the illegals are working in agriculture, producing crops that have been in chronic surplus for decades. These surplus crops are costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars in government storage costs and in the inflated prices created by deliberately keeping much of this agricultural output off the market.

Do we "need" illegal workers to produce bigger surpluses?
In California, surplus crops grown and harvested by illegal immigrants are often also subsidized by federal water projects which charge the farmers in dry California valleys far less than the cost to the government of providing that water -- and a fraction of what people in Los Angeles or San Francisco pay for the same amount of water.

Surplus crops grown with water supplied at the taxpayers' expense and raised by illegal workers can be grown elsewhere with water provided free of charge from the clouds and raised by American workers paid American wages.

Naturally, when the real costs of those crops have to be paid by the farmers who raise them, less will be grown -- that is, there will not be as much of a surplus going to waste in government-rented storage bins.

With some crops, we don't really "need" any of it. If the United States had not produced a single grain of sugar in the past 50 years, Americans could have gotten all the sugar they wanted and at lower prices, simply by buying it on the world market for half or less of what domestic sugar costs.

Sugar has been in chronic surplus on the world market for generations. It can be grown in the tropics far cheaper than it can be grown in the United States. All the land, labor, and capital that has been spent growing sugar here has been one huge waste.

We don't "need" to grow sugar, with or without illegal workers.
Many people are understandably sympathetic toward Mexican workers who come across the border illegally, not only because of the poverty which drives them from their homelands but also because their willingness to work makes them in demand.

When you see beggars on the street, they are usually white or black, but almost never Mexican. But American immigration laws and policies are not about whether you like or don't like Mexicans, though some demagogues try to play the race card.

For too long, we have bought the argument that being unfortunate entitles you to break the law. The consequence has been disastrous, whether the people allowed to get away with breaking the law are Americans or foreigners.

Legalizing illegal actions is the easy way out, so it is hardly surprising that politicians go for that.

One of the ways of legalizing illegal acts is by the automatic conferring of American citizenship on babies born to illegal aliens in the United States.

The law that made all people born here American citizens made sense when people crossed an ocean and made a commitment to become Americans.

Today, it is just another way of essentially legalizing illegal acts by making it harder to deport those who broke the law.

One of the most bogus of all the bogus arguments for a "guest worker" program is that it is impossible to find all the millions of illegal aliens in the country, so it is impossible to deport them.

If tomorrow someone came up with some brilliant way to identify every illegal alien in the country, it would not make the slightest difference. Right now, those who are identified as illegal, whether at the border, in prisons, at traffic stops or in any of our institutions, face no penalty whatsoever.

Identification is not the problem. Doing nothing is the problem.
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 08:29:00 PM | Permalink | |

Someone is lying about the NSA hearings...

There is no question that five FISA judges testified before the Senate Judiciary committee yesterday. But depending on which newspaper you read, there are two wildly different interpretations of what went on in those closed hearings. John Hindraker of Power Line reports that both of these news stories can't be correct. The proof will be in the pudding as they say--but I know who my money is on:

Yesterday, five former judges of the FISA court testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the National Security Agency's international terrorist surveillance program. Some observers have alleged that the NSA program is illegal to the extent that it includes surveillance conducted without a FISA court order.

Here is how the Washington Times reported the judges' testimony, in a story headlined "FISA Judges Say Bush Within Law":

A panel of former Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges yesterday told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that President Bush did not act illegally when he created by executive order a wiretapping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

The five judges testifying before the committee said they could not speak specifically to the NSA listening program without being briefed on it, but that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not override the president's constitutional authority to spy on suspected international agents under executive order.

"If a court refuses a FISA application and there is not sufficient time for the president to go to the court of review, the president can under executive order act unilaterally, which he is doing now," said Judge Allan Kornblum, magistrate judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and an author of the 1978 FISA Act. "I think that the president would be remiss exercising his constitutional authority by giving all of that power over to a statute."

This is consistent with what we have written on the legality of the NSA program.

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times appears to have attended a different hearing. The Times' story is headlined "Judges on Secretive Panel Speak Out on Spy Program." Lichtblau reports:

Five former judges on the nation's most secretive court, including one who resigned in apparent protest over President Bush's domestic eavesdropping, urged Congress on Tuesday to give the court a formal role in overseeing the surveillance program.

In a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive court, known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, several former judges who served on the panel also voiced skepticism at a Senate hearing about the president's constitutional authority to order wiretapping on Americans without a court order. They also suggested that the program could imperil criminal prosecutions that grew out of the wiretaps.

These reports can't both be right. If what the Washington Times says is correct, the New York Times' account is deeply misleading, if not outright false. As we noted here, Eric Lichtblau has a huge personal investment in the idea (wrong, I think) that the NSA program is "illegal." Is Lichtblau's commitment to that proposition causing him to report falsely on testimony that was given to a Senate committee? Or did the Washington Times go too far in characterizing the judges' approval of the NSA program?

We are trying to track down a transcript of the judges' testimony, which no doubt will answer these questions.
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 08:20:00 PM | Permalink | |

No "Last Helicopter" in THIS War

Amir Taheri, writing in today's Wall Street Journal, provides a very cogent argument that, by assuming that this President will repeat the mistakes of the United States' unilateral desertion of South Vietnam in the '70s, the leaders in the mideast are making a colossal miscalculation:

Hassan Abbasi has a dream--a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the "fleeing Americans," forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by "the Army of Muhammad." Presented by his friends as "The Dr. Kissinger of Islam," Mr. Abbasi is "professor of strategy" at the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new radical administration.

For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of "running away," leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.

To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of "the last helicopter." It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein's generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton's helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.

According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an "aberration," a leader out of sync with his nation's character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an "American Middle East." Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

Mr. Ahmadinejad's defiant rhetoric is based on a strategy known in Middle Eastern capitals as "waiting Bush out." "We are sure the U.S. will return to saner policies," says Manuchehr Motakki, Iran's new Foreign Minister.

Mr. Ahmadinejad believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilizations with the Middle East as the main battlefield. In that clash Iran will lead the Muslim world against the "Crusader-Zionist camp" led by America. Mr. Bush might have led the U.S. into "a brief moment of triumph." But the U.S. is a "sunset" (ofuli) power while Iran is a sunrise (tolu'ee) one and, once Mr. Bush is gone, a future president would admit defeat and order a retreat as all of Mr. Bush's predecessors have done since Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also notes that Iran has just "reached the Mediterranean" thanks to its strong presence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. He used that message to convince Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to adopt a defiant position vis-à-vis the U.N. investigation of the murder of Rafiq Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon. His argument was that once Mr. Bush is gone, the U.N., too, will revert to its traditional lethargy. "They can pass resolutions until they are blue in the face," Mr. Ahmadinejad told a gathering of Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Arab leaders in Tehran last month.

According to sources in Tehran and Damascus, Mr. Assad had pondered the option of "doing a Gadhafi" by toning down his regime's anti-American posture. Since last February, however, he has revived Syria's militant rhetoric and dismissed those who advocated a rapprochement with Washington. Iran has rewarded him with a set of cut-price oil, soft loans and grants totaling $1.2 billion. In response Syria has increased its support for terrorists going to fight in Iraq and revived its network of agents in Lebanon, in a bid to frustrate that country's democratic ambitions.

It is not only in Tehran and Damascus that the game of "waiting Bush out" is played with determination. In recent visits to several regional capitals, this writer was struck by the popularity of this new game from Islamabad to Rabat. The general assumption is that Mr. Bush's plan to help democratize the heartland of Islam is fading under an avalanche of partisan attacks inside the U.S. The effect of this assumption can be witnessed everywhere.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has shelved his plan, forged under pressure from Washington, to foster a popular front to fight terrorism by lifting restrictions against the country's major political parties and allowing their exiled leaders to return. There is every indication that next year's elections will be choreographed to prevent the emergence of an effective opposition. In Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, arguably the most pro-American leader in the region, is cautiously shaping his post-Bush strategy by courting Tehran and playing the Pushtun ethnic card against his rivals.

In Turkey, the "moderate" Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is slowly but surely putting the democratization process into reverse gear. With the post-Bush era in mind, Mr. Erdogan has started a purge of the judiciary and a transfer of religious endowments to sections of the private sector controlled by his party's supporters. There are fears that next year's general election would not take place on a level playing field.

Even in Iraq the sentiment that the U.S. will not remain as committed as it has been under Mr. Bush is producing strange results. While Shiite politicians are rushing to Tehran to seek a reinsurance policy, some Sunni leaders are having second thoughts about their decision to join the democratization process. "What happens after Bush?" demands Salih al-Mutlak, a rising star of Iraqi Sunni leaders. The Iraqi Kurds have clearly decided to slow down all measures that would bind them closer to the Iraqi state. Again, they claim that they have to "take precautions in case the Americans run away."

There are more signs that the initial excitement created by Mr. Bush's democratization project may be on the wane. Saudi Arabia has put its national dialogue program on hold and has decided to focus on economic rather than political reform. In Bahrain, too, the political reform machine has been put into rear-gear, while in Qatar all talk of a new democratic constitution to set up a constitutional monarchy has subsided. In Jordan the security services are making a spectacular comeback, putting an end to a brief moment of hopes for reform. As for Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has decided to indefinitely postpone local elections, a clear sign that the Bush-inspired scenario is in trouble. Tunisia and Morocco, too, have joined the game by stopping much-advertised reform projects while Islamist radicals are regrouping and testing the waters at all levels.

But how valid is the assumption that Mr. Bush is an aberration and that his successor will "run away"? It was to find answers that this writer spent several days in the U.S., especially Washington and New York, meeting ordinary Americans and senior leaders, including potential presidential candidates from both parties. While Mr. Bush's approval ratings, now in free fall, and the increasingly bitter American debate on Iraq may lend some credence to the "helicopter" theory, I found no evidence that anyone in the American leadership elite supported a cut-and-run strategy.

The reason was that almost all realized that the 9/11 attacks have changed the way most Americans see the world and their own place in it. Running away from Saigon, the Iranian desert, Beirut, Safwan and Mogadishu was not hard to sell to the average American, because he was sure that the story would end there; the enemies left behind would not pursue their campaign within the U.S. itself. The enemies that America is now facing in the jihadist archipelago, however, are dedicated to the destruction of the U.S. as the world knows it today.

Those who have based their strategy on waiting Mr. Bush out may find to their cost that they have, once again, misread not only American politics but the realities of a world far more complex than it was even a decade ago. Mr. Bush may be a uniquely decisive, some might say reckless, leader. But a visitor to the U.S. soon finds out that he represents the American mood much more than the polls suggest.
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 08:10:00 PM | Permalink | |

Iraq: It's "Crunch Time"

Joe Katzman of Winds of Change warns that events in Iraq are quickly coming to a head, and links to several thoughtful posts that paint a good picture of the complexities that the Coalition forces face in bringing the competing political factions together:

Things are heating up in Baghdad. Wretchard of Belmont Club brings a pair of posts, with good links to Iraqi bloggers and Bill Roggio. The issue of militias and accountability appears to be coming to a head, and hard decisions will be called for by all participants.

Crunch Time Again. There's a lot hanging in the balance.

Krauthammer is right about the overall dynamics in terms of Sunni options. Return violence does have the effect of making the Sunnis think hard about the price of continuing to support and shelter those who would wage war upon the rest of Iraq, and how many enemies they are making. That's important. But he's also right that "The principal issue, and measure of our success, is the shaping of disciplined and effective security forces," and that's why reports from Wretchard, Iraqi bloggers et. al. are concerning.

US, Mahdi forces Clash. The Mahdi Army is Sadr's way of reminding us what a mistake it has been to allow him to remain above ground and breathing for the last couple of years. The US appears to be moving to take on his militias again, after they've been responsible for most of the anti-Sunni violence and executions in the wake of the inside job at the Samarra mosque.
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 08:03:00 PM | Permalink | |

Laugh of the decade: Dems' "Real Security" Strategy

Today the Democrats came out with one of the most hilarious "policy statements" it has published in the last 30 years--the so called "Real Security" Strategy. Hugh Hewitt gives this absolute joke of a policy document its proper due by providing the most comprehensive coverage of the blogosphere's justifiably convulsive reaction to this "plan":

Everyone's talking about the Dems' "Real Security" strategy. The fact that a plan this flimsy is getting this much attention is the clearest testament I've seen in some time to the Democratic Party's lack of ideas.

Not even the NYT can bring itself to laud the "plan" to the high heavens:

Most of the proposals are not new. Many echo arguments put forward by Democrats and by their 2004 presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, including a demand for more military equipment and body armor for troops and improved veterans' benefits.

Jeff Harrell provides comprehensive and hilarious analysis:

Congressional Democrats today released "Real Security: The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World," a "comprehensive plan" that consists of a ten-page PowerPoint deck.

Except it's really only five pages, because half the pages are in Spanish. Spanish on one side, English on the other. Like stereo instructions. I guess restoring our leadership to the world is something you can get at Ikea.

Except the first page is just a title card, and the second page is just a blurb. So really it's only three pages.

The Democrats' comprehensive plan for restoring the blah blah and protecting some other thing is actually three PowerPoint slides.

Tim Chapman takes note of Sen. John Cornyn's and Rep. John Boehner's press releases in response. If you read them carefully, I think you can actually hear Hill staff snickering in the backgound as they write each time they have to type "Democrats" and "security" in the same sentence.

Capt. Ed calls it an incoherent fantasy:

Let's get this straight. The Democrats want to retreat against al-Qaeda forces assembled in Iraq in order to invade Pakistan, which is where Osama is most likely spending his time. They want to run away from the operational forces of AQ in a fashion that will remind all of them of Somalia, Beirut, and Teheran -- proving Osama right about American tenacity. Going after Osama is a terrific goal, but unless they have a better plan than to flood Pakistan with special-forces teams and spies that Pervez Musharraf will consider an act of war, then this policy is doomed to failure.

Gateway Pundit has a round-up of all the whistly tunes that have changed today:

This, of course, is a new direction for the Dems. We are assuming that they they have put aside for now beliefs that:
America's media is the enemy
* George Bush is the enemy
* personal property rights is the enemy
* Christians are the enemy
* Moderate Muslims are not the enemy
* Walmart is not the enemy
* Business is the enemy
* Republicans are the enemy
* The 10 Commandments are the enemy
* America is the enemy

...Who have I missed?

Dr. Sanity has written a song to commemorate the change of heart on the Left side of the aisle.

Wizbang: "Osama won't be intimidated by this bunch."

Hee. I wouldn't be scared of this, either.

Pundit Guy calls it making promises they can't keep:

When Democrats talk about a withdrawal from Iraq, its not about bringing troops home and preventing further death. It's not about freeing the Iraqi people from U.S. occupation. It's not about "playing nice" in the hopes that the French, Spanish and the Russians like us again. To Democrats, a withdrawal from Iraq is about stopping terrorism. They believe a redeployment of troops to other parts of the world sends a message of peace which will soften the hearts of terrorist groups and lessen the risk of further attacks. By pushing this "solution" the Democrats do nothing to disprove the fact that they completely misunderstand the terrorist mentality.

Bryan Preston wonders whether the Dems have ever met any Special Forces guys:

Democrats are going to "double the number of special forces"? Do they realize that the physical requirements that it takes to even merit special forces mean that it's nearly impossible to double the number of them? I forget the actual number, but the washout rate for special forces applicants is well over 50 percent (70 percent or above seems to be the going rate). To double the number who make it through, you're going to have to lower the standards. A lot. That'll sure help find bin Laden. But lowering standards does sound like something the Democrats could support.

From the other side, just for fun, AMERICAblog, Oliver, and My DD, which wants Dems to dream bigger.
DiscerningTexan, 3/29/2006 07:28:00 PM | Permalink | |
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Small World by Tom Briscoe (click to enlarge)
DiscerningTexan, 3/28/2006 10:46:00 PM | Permalink | |

Hidden Sinister motives behind pro-immigration movement?

Rick Moran has a penned a truly thought-provoking article on the Illegal Immigration question before the Congress this week. And, as in any debate where there are large numbers of people in the "middle", both sides of the argument have their extremes. We all have heard the so-called "racist, anti-working man" rhetoric coming from the media and the demonstrators and political left, and those courting the hispanic vote--day in and day out (not to mention businesses who do not want to have to pay the very minimum wage that the very same left argues so loudly for...).

But how many people have seriously discussed the ramifications of the demographics of this problem if it is not solved now? Many would laugh if they termed this the Mexican invasion of the United States or "Santa Ana's revenge". But as Moran points out, the joke may eventually be on those doing the laughing. And there are those who are planning for that very eventuality:

Is there really anything we can do to solve the illegal immigration problem in the United States?

Asking that question is un-American. We are, after all, a nation that prides itself on its ability to “solve problems” even if many such attempts have met with abject failure. We’ve spent a trillion dollars on public housing in the last forty years and still have almost a million homeless people huddling on park benches and subway grates trying to keep warm during the winter not to mention millions more living in slavish dependence on government to keep a roof over their heads. Ditto for all the monies spent on anti-poverty programs which most objective observers agree has made the problem of poverty worse.

Even conservatives are guilty of trying to solve these problems that may have no solution by fiddling with budget numbers and offering more in the way of free-market alternatives to government intervention.

I find it interesting that all sides in the immigration debate seem to feel that their solutions will somehow “solve” the problem. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, especially to the “open borders” crew who in something of a sanctimonious fashion continue to remind us that we are a “nation of immigrants” and that opposing the entry by millions of people who are more loyal to the government of Mexico than they are to the US government is somehow racist. But the fact is, the only “solution” to the problem of illegal immigration is flinging open our borders and letting everyone who desires to live and work in America to come on in and make themselves at home. Thus would the problem of illegal immigration disappear overnight.

Of course we can’t do that which means that instead of concentrating on fixing the problem – building gigantic walls manned every few feet by border guards and rounding up millions of people – we should be working to improve the situation. This means fewer people crossing the border, more enforcement of the law regarding illegals already here, stiffer penalties for companies that employ illegals, and a decidedly less sanguine outlook toward one of the least reported and most dangerous aspects of the illegal immigrant issue; the agitation by Mexicans living in America to return a sizable portion of the United States to Mexican control.

As Michelle Malkin points out in this post:

These sentiments, as I’ve noted before, are not limited to ethnic fringe groups—but also mainstream Democrat politicians and campus chapters of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, or MEChA.

Most of the members of the open-borders media won’t dare breathe a word about this militant phenomenon, lest they be accused of…racism. Oh, the irony.

Welcome to reconquista.

Where are all the assimilationists now?

Lest anyone think that this is not a serious movement or that it has absolutely no chance of succeeding, I invite you to read this piece from Maria Hsia Chang of the University of Nevada-Reno on the attitudes of many Mexicans who come here and, even more of a shock, the hugely significant demographic changes that are rapidly taking place in the southwestern United States as as result of illegal immigration and what these changes bode for the future.

A sample:
Mario Barrera, a faculty member of U.C. Berkeley’s Department of Ethnic Studies, admitted that multiculturalism “would help prepare the ideological climate for an eventual campaign for ethnic regional autonomy.” In January 1995, El Plan de Aztlan Conference at UC Riverside resolved that “We shall overcome…by the vote if possible and violence if necessary.” The rise of Mexican irredentism as a serious political movement “awaits only the demographic transformation of the Southwest.”

That “demographic transformation” is almost here and it is unstoppable. Much higher birthrates among Mexican immigrant women means that by 2050, there will be more than 100 million Hispanics in the US comprising more than a quarter of our population. The current trend has more than 40% of Hispanics in the US living in California alone. That would mean more than 40 million Hispanics in California, the overwhelming number of them from Mexico, who would be a formidable bloc if Mexican irredentism becomes a truly mainstream goal.

This does not take into account a Mexican government who would see the tipping point coming and could possibly engineer a mass migration into the desired states ballooning those numbers even more.

There is much more. Don't forget to follow the links above. And definitely don't go anywhere until you've read the rest.

No matter what happens with the illegals already in country, which is increasingly looking brighter--for the illegals anyway--the sinister motives of the hidden political movements backing the invasion of our borders is one more reason, along with the OTMs and the GWOT that the question of protecting our national boundaries needs to be addressed ASAP. There are many aspects of National Security that would be well served by taking whatever steps are necessary to shut down the borders NOW.
DiscerningTexan, 3/28/2006 09:08:00 PM | Permalink | |