Monthly Archives: January 2005

Wrong!

The New York Times editorial board didn’t quite say today that they were wrong about the Iraqi election when over the past few months they had vociferously urged its postponment. The closest they got to admitting a mistake was to acknowledge their criticism of the Bush administration “over its policies in Iraq.” No mention of their stand on the election, yet, they say, they “rejoice in a heartening advance by the Iraqi people.”

Why do I suspect that, unlike in the streets of Iraq, there are few editorialists dancing down the halls and little joy today at the Times? Bob Herbert, on the op-ed page, had no problem curbing his enthusiasm for yesterday’s election by devoting his column to the negative. Taking a Chomskyite stance, he presumed to know America’s motives and goals in Iraq:

The desire of the U.S., as embodied by the Bush administration, is to exercise as much control as possible over the Middle East and its crucial oil reserves. There is very little concern here about the plight of ordinary Iraqis, which is why the horrendous casualties being suffered by Iraqi civilians, including women and children, get so little attention.

Is Herbert the Times’ Armstrong Williams? Is he working for Move On. Org.?

John Burns, the one Times reporter without a political ax to grind, ended his report by quoting a 83 year old Iraqi bricklayer who expressed the optimism the election inspired:

“Under Saddam we were a people who were lost”, he said. “Before, we were not able to talk to officials; they were just punching you, and kicking you. But now, with elections, we’ll have good officials. We will know them, and they will know us.”

But what does this old guy know? Savants like Bob Herbert and the other members of the Democratic Party intellectual elite would not even say that about their own country.

A Useful Indian Idiot

American Indian activist Ward Churchill is the latest lunatic to be invited to an elite college campus (Hamilton College) to enlighten students on fascist America. Below is a sample of his ruminations:

There is simply no argument to be made that the Pentagon personnel killed on September 11 fill that bill [innocent civilians]. The building and those inside comprised military targets, pure and simple. As to those in the World Trade Center . . . Well, really. Let’s get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America’s global financial empire – the “mighty engine of profit” to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved – and they did so both willingly and knowingly. Recourse to “ignorance” – a derivative, after all, of the word “ignore” – counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see. More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants. If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it

The Responsibilty is Ours

Two columnists, Aharon Appelfeld and Tom Friedman, write about the change in people who experience murderous evil.

Appelfeld writes about Holocaust survivors and Friedman about how Europeans yearn for the return of pre-9/11 America (the Bill Clinton America).

Appelfeld:

Great natural disasters leave us shocked and mute, but mass murder perpetrated by human beings on human beings is infinitely more painful. Murder reveals wickedness, hatred, cynicism and contempt for all belief. All the evil in man assumed a shape and reality in the ghettos and camps. The empathy that we once believed modern man felt for others was ruined for all time.

…God did not reveal himself in Auschwitz or in other camps. The survivors came out of hell wounded and humiliated. They were betrayed by the neighbors among whom they and their forefathers had lived. They were betrayed by Western culture, by the Germans, by the language and literature they admired so much. They were betrayed by the great beliefs: liberalism and progress.

…This is not a story with a happy ending. A doctor who survived, from a religious background, who sailed to Israel with us in June 1946, told us: “We didn’t see God when we expected him, so we have no choice but to do what he was supposed to do: we will protect the weak, we will love, we will comfort. From now on, the responsibility is all ours.”

Friedman urges Bush to listen to Europeans when he goes to Europe:

It’s this [why Europeans dislike Bush so intensely]: Europeans love to make fun of naïve American optimism, but deep down, they envy it and they want America to be that open, foreigner-embracing, carefree, goofily enthusiastic place that cynical old Europe can never be. Many young Europeans blame Mr. Bush for making America, since 9/11, into a strange new land that exports fear more than hope, and has become dark and brooding – a place whose greeting to visitors has gone from “Give me your tired, your poor” to “Give me your fingerprints.” They look at Mr. Bush as someone who stole something precious from them.

Tim Kreutzfeldt [ a bar owner in Berlin] said to me: “Bush took away our America. I mean we love America. We are very sad about America. We believe in America and American values, but not in Bush. And it makes us angry that he distorted our image of the country which is so important to us. It is not what America stands for – and this makes us angry and it should make every American angry, because America lost so much in its reputation worldwide.” The Bush team, he added, is giving everyone in the world the impression that “somebody is coming to kill you.”

Stefan Elfenbein, a food critic nursing a beer at our table, added: “I know many people who don’t want to travel to America anymore. … People are afraid to be hassled at the border. … We all discuss it, when somebody goes to America [we now ask:] ‘Are you sure?’ We had hope that Kerry would win and would make a statement, ‘America is back to what it was four years ago.’ [my emphasis] We hoped that he would be the symbol, the figure who would say, ‘[America] is the country that welcomes everybody again.’ [But] now we have to wait four more years, hopefully for somebody to give us back the country we knew and liked.”

So the Europeans want us to get over 9/11 and return to being those goofy, naive rubes they’ve always loved. And Bush has “given the world the impression that ‘someone is coming to kill you.'” Oh my, what must we have been thinking?

Yes, much of America (except for the pacifist blue staters) has been changed by 9/11, just as the Holocaust survivors were changed by the death camps. Only those goofy Europeans and their American admirers believe it possible to return to a state of innocence.

But Bush and most Americans know as does the survivor Appelfeld quotes, “From now on the responsibility is all ours.”

Europe and the Holocaust

Europe takes over the Holocaust. Mark Steyn describes why the Israelis “deserve” their state:

I’m not a Jew, though since September 11 I’ve been assumed to be one. Nor am I, philosophically, a Zionist. Had I been British foreign secretary, I doubt I would have issued the Balfour Declaration. Nor am I much interested in whose land was whose hundreds or thousands of years ago. The reality is that the nation states of the region all date back to the 1930s and 1940s: the only difference is that Israel, unlike Syria and Iraq, has made a go of it.

As for the notion that this or that people “deserve” a state, that’s a dangerous post-modern concept of nationality and sovereignty. The United States doesn’t exist because the colonists “deserved” a state, but because they went out and fought for one. Were the Palestinians to do that, they might succeed in pushing every last Jew into the sea, or they might win a less total victory, or they might be routed and have to flee to Damascus or Wolverhampton.

The Retro Democrats

Mark Steyn on Bobby Byrd’s anti-Condi stance:

Oh, dear. It’s so easy to raise expectations at the beginning of a new presidential term. But at least he’s got a four-year plan. Over on the Democratic bench, worldwise they don’t seem to have given things much thought. The differences were especially stark in the last seven days: In the first half of the week, Senate Dems badgered the incoming secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice — culminating in the decision of West Virginia porkmeister Robert C. Byrd to delay the incoming thereof. Don’t ask me why. Byrd, the former Klu Klux Klan Kleagle, is taking a stand over states’ rights, or his rights over State, or some such. Whatever the reason, the sight of an old Klansman blocking a little colored girl from Birmingham from getting into her office contributed to the general retro vibe that hangs around the Democratic Party these days.

The Iraqi Election

Fouad Ajami on the Iraqi election.

It's No Accident

Joshua Muravchick counters the criticism of the “realists.”

After documenting the spread of democracy throughout the world, Muravchick notes the one exception:

The one region completely left behind, until now, by this democratic revolution is the Middle East and North Africa, where Israel remains the only democracy among 18 states. In the wake of 9/11, President Bush concluded that it was no accident that this region where democracy was uniquely absent was the epicenter of global terrorism, and it was here that he launched his campaign for freedom, of which last week’s speech was a broader statement.

A Writing Lesson

David Gelernter offers some pointers to Bush’s speech writers (in the Weekly Standard).

Inconvenient Perils

In the wake of Bush’s inaugural speech, one British newspaper editorial asks a couple of annoying questions of France and Germany:

The Times of London

This will not be a revolutionary movement. Nor will the differences between some European governments and the Oval Office disappear. The U.S. will continue to regard the threat posed by radical Islamists, the dangers of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the behavior of rogue states such as North Korea with more urgency than France and Germany.

These countries should ask themselves whether their assessment of these perils is so much more modest because of evidence, or the inconvenience that acknowledging their intensity would entail. They might also ponder what it is about the promotion of freedom that they regard as so alien and objectionable.

The American Left ought to ask themselves the same questions.

Charity, Schmarity

The guys at Powerline do it again, brilliantly.