Monthly Archives: July 2008

What If We Fail "The Test"?

Roger Kimball comments on Professor Barry’s career at the University of Chicago Law School:

There is probably a lot one could say about the piece The New York Times ran yesterday about Barack Obama’s 12-year tenure teaching law at the University of Chicago. That Obama “never completed a single work of legal scholarship” may seem surprising given that he was teaching at a major research university where, as the Times notes, “most colleagues published by the pound.” Unsurprising is that, even back then, Obama exuded an aura of “self-absorption” and was surrounded by “groupies.” Also unsurprising is that fact that much of his teaching concerned issues of race and that, as the Times puts it, he “was especially eager for his charges to understand the horrors of the past, students say.”…

Then Kimball looks at the implications of the possibility that Barry might actually lose:

… In course of [the Times’] story, the reporter confronts the reader with “what may be the ultimate test of racial equality–whether Americans will elect a black president.”

I stopped short reading that because I think it gets the issue 100% wrong. The implication is that if Obama is not elected, then Americans fail the test. But that, I submit, is a racist idea. How many liberals do you know who plan to vote for Barack Obama because he is black, that is to say, for a racist reason? Sure, they also like the fact that he plans to institute a European-style confiscatory tax plan. They approve of his socialistic plans to increase the size and intrusiveness of the government. They share his skepticism about our presence in Iraq and contemplate his call for “civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded” as the United States military with equanimity, even pleasure. Really, though, all that is icing on the cake. They have closed ranks around Obama on account of the very thing that Obama pretends he wishes to transcend: the color of his skin.

And I wonder about the always present, but never publicly mentioned, implicit threat in framing the election as a “test” of America’s racial salvation. Are we to expect the customary “unrest” that usually follows an event that angers black people? If a majority of the voters turn out to be unbelievers and reject “The One We’ve Been Waiting For,” can we expect the believers to take to the streets in violent protest? Is there any doubt that law enforcement agencies at all levels are not thinking about and preparing for a possible Obama defeat?

And Jennifer Rubin of Commentary cites David Ignatius’s fine column on McCain in commenting on McCain’s humility versus Barry’s megalomania.

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Barry the Law Professor

The other day, I raised the question of how racial preference might have facilitated Barry’s climb up the greasy pole. Now an article in yesterday’s New York Times provides a bit of information about Barry’s tenure as a law professor at the University of Chicago:

…Mr. Obama arrived at the law school in 1991 thanks to Michael W. McConnell, a conservative scholar who is now a federal appellate judge. As president of The Harvard Law Review, Mr. Obama had impressed Mr. McConnell with editing suggestions on an article; on little more than that, the law school gave him a fellowship, which amounted to an office and a computer, which he used to write his memoir, “Dreams From My Father.”

The school had almost no black faculty members, a special embarrassment given its location on the South Side. Its sleek halls bordered a neighborhood crumbling with poverty and neglect. In his 2000 Congressional primary race, Representative Bobby L. Rush, a former Black Panther running for re-election, used Mr. Obama’s ties to the school to label him an egghead and an elitist.

At the school, Mr. Obama taught three courses, ascending to senior lecturer, a title otherwise carried only by a few federal judges[emphasis added]…

Barry was different :

The young law professor stood apart in too many ways to count. At a school where economic analysis was all the rage, he taught rights, race and gender. Other faculty members dreamed of tenured positions; he turned them down. While most colleagues published by the pound, he never completed a single work of legal scholarship…

Could it be that some in the liberal media are fed up with Barry’s chutzpah? Here’s the lede from today’s column by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post:

Barack Obama has long been his party’s presumptive nominee. Now he’s becoming its presumptuous nominee.

Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president’s) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.

Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president’s. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him…

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Admiration and Awe

Liberal columnist Richard Cohen writes of Barry’s lack of accomplishments, particularly compared to those of John McCain.

The lede:

“Just tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that you admire,” I asked a prominent Democrat. He paused and then said that he admired Obama’s speech to the Democratic convention in 2004. I agreed. It was a hell of a speech, but it was just a speech.

On the other hand, I continued, I could cite four or five actions — not speeches — that John McCain has taken that elicit my admiration, even my awe. First, of course, is his decision as a Vietnam War POW to refuse freedom out of concern that he would be exploited for propaganda purposes. To paraphrase what Kipling said about Gunga Din, John McCain is a better man than most…

Most of the media, reflecting our feminized culture and their liberal bias, isn’t interested in celebrating the kind of qualities possessed by McCain. A European friend of mind recently described McCain as “crazy.” To today’s pacifist intellectuals, anyone who was a fighter pilot would have to be crazy, for a prime requirement for being a fighter pilot is belief in what used to be called the “manly” virtues of courage, endurance and loyalty. Belief in such ideals is thought by today’s liberal elite to be signs of dangerous mental instability.

All fighter pilots are, by definition, courageous which doesn’t mean, of course, that all fighter pilots should be President. (Another friend, recently referred to McCain as a “loser” because he was shot down over North Vietnam. But even Chuck Yeager, generally considered the greatest of all pilots, was shot down during World War II.) Beyond his obvious courage in volunteering to fly fighter jets, McCain’s record as a prisoner of war reveals a man of exceptional character through his strength to endure injury and torture and yet remain loyal to both his fellow prisoners and his country.

Unfortunately these are qualities of character that modern liberals find inexplicable and thus “crazy.”

Where Does He Get The Nerve?

Where does Barry get his unbelievable chutzpah? I cannot remember any presidential candidate addressing a mass rally in a foreign country. Yes, candidates travel abroad, but only as fact finders, not as national leaders. Does Barry not know this? Or does he think the rules of appropriateness don’t apply to a candidate of his alleged stature?

I suspect he does know (certainly someone in his campaign would have informed him) that such a speech was unprecedented, but that only seemed to encourage him. So where does this megalomania come from?

The source, I believe, is the post-1960s American education system. The 60s produced a revolution in which the goal of education became the development of self-esteem rather than the development of skilled and informed citizens. This mission was pursued most vigorously when it came to black students (it still is). Thus, any black kid with a modicum of intelligence and motivation is treated like a music teacher would his discovery of another Mozart.

So far, no one, to my knowledge, has bothered to look into Barry’s education and the extent to which racial preference has padded his resume. We know, because she told us so, that Barry’s wife would not have been admitted to Princeton with her test scores if she were white. On the evidence of her illiterate and self-obsessed senior thesis, I find it hard to believe she would have graduated “with honors” if not for her race.

So why don’t we know about Barry’s SAT scores? An ordinary employer could ask Barry for a copy of his college transcript and test scores; why can’t the media ask it of an applicant for the job of President?

It is doubtful that any investigative reporter or media organization would want to look into the role of racial preference in Barry’s admission to Columbia, Harvard Law, or his “election” to the editorship of the Harvard Law Review.

There is a little talk on the Web about Barry’s senior thesis at Columbia which, alas, seems to have gone missing.

We're Just Wild About Barry

A funny McCain campaign video on the media’s love affair with Barry.

And British writer Melanie Phillips on Princess Barry:

… a suspension of disbelief [concerning Barry] calls to mind someone else closer to home: Princess Diana, who also inspired hysterical adoration because she, too, became an icon of idealism — challenging the established order.

A deeply attractive figure, she seemed to embody hope for a better universe by appealing to emotion rather than reason.

Love, as embodied by ‘the queen of people’s hearts’, was held to be the key to a better, kinder, gentler world. There was even a sense that her mere touch was sufficient to heal the afflicted.

It was, of course, all pure fantasy. People had fallen for a carefully spun image which bore little relation to the manipulative and unstable woman who was the real Diana, but which spoke to something deep inside them.

So it is with Obama. Americans’ natural optimism makes them want to believe that, as a black man with a Muslim background (another thing he has cleverly obfuscated), he can heal all wounds, including the U.S.’s history of racism, and bring peace to the world just by being who he is.

They see in his attractiveness a flattering reflection of themselves. He doesn’t embarrass them; he makes them feel proud.

He is not a Texas oilman who can’t string a sentence together: he has oratorical skills to die for.

He is not old, frail and nondescript like McCain, but young, vigorous and attractive. He is, in short, everything they want America — and themselves — to be.

His very incoherence over policy, the fact we don’t know what he really believes in, enables people to project onto him their hopes and desires. He is the perfect fantasy politician. He is America’s very own Princess Obama.

But, of course, the belief that a handsome prince can magic away the troubles of the world is infantile. The idea that there is a new kind of sanitised politics by which problems can be solved without having to make hard choices is a dangerous delusion.

To be fair, there are signs that light may be beginning to dawn in America. Despite — or perhaps because of — the saturation media coverage of Obama’s world tour, his poll numbers are showing no bounce.

This may be because people are beginning to see the media manipulation, with Obama refusing to answer journalists’ questions and participating only in ‘faked’ interviews by the military in Iraq.

While America may be wising up, however, Britain is about to have its Princess Obama moment. Get out the smelling salts and prepare to swoon.

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Robert Kennedy And Israel – 1948

Fascinating articles written from the Middle East in 1948 by Robert Kennedy for a now defunct Boston newspaper.

Some excerpts:

…[The Arabs] are willing to let the Jews remain as peaceful citizens subject to the rule of the Arab majority just as the Arabs are doing in such great number in Egypt and the Levant states, but they are determined that a separate Jewish state will be attacked and attacked until it is finally cut out like an unhealthy abscess.

The Arabs believe they contributed greatly to making the Allied victory possible in the first World War. At the Paris peace conference they felt that they received nothing comparable to what they were promised for their fight under Lawrence against the Turks. Rather, due to power politics, British and French domination replaced that of the Ottoman empire. The Arab leaders attribute their country’s backwardness to these 400 uninterrupted years as subservience to the Ottoman empire.

The Jewish people on the other hand believe that if it were not for the wars and invasions that racked Palestine and which sent them scattered and persecuted throughout the world, Palestine would today be theirs.

It would be theirs just as when Moses led them from Egypt into the Palestinian plains which they point out were unoccupied except for a few Bedouin tribes.

…Under the supposition that, at the finish of the mandate, this was to be their national state, they went to work. They set up laboratories where world-famous scientists could study and analyze soils and crops. The combination of arduous labor and almost unlimited funds from the United States changed what was once arid desert into flourishing orange groves.
Soils had to be washed of salt, day after day, year after year, before crops could be planted. One can see this work going on in lesser or more advanced stages wherever there are Jewish settlements in Palestine. From a small village of a few thousand inhabitants, Tel Aviv has grown into a most impressive modern metropolis of over 200,000. They have truly done much with what all agree was very little.

The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state. This is the only country in the Near and Middle East where an Arab middle class is in existence.

The Jews point out that they have always taken a passive part in the frequent revolutions that have racked the country, because of the understanding that they would eventually be set free from British mandateship. They wished to do nothing to impair this expected action.

During the second World War they sent numerous volunteer Jewish brigades which fought commendably with the British in Italy. In addition to that, many Palestinian Jews fought as volunteers with Allied troops throughout the world and still others were dropped by parachute into German-held territory as espionage agents. They were perhaps doing no more than their duty, but they did their duty well.

The Jews feel that promise after promise to them has been broken. They can quote freely, for example, from speech after speech of Labor Party leaders in the election campaign prior to the victory of the Labor Party in England, to attest to the fact that one need not even refer back to the controversial Balfour declaration to learn Britain’s attitude and promises toward a Jews state was to be one of the first acts of the Labor government if it were put into power. The Jews, remembering this, have rather bitterly named the black bombed out [area] in the Ben Yehuda disaster, “Bevin square.” [An Arab car bomb in Jerusalem in February 1948 killed some 50 people.]

It is an unfortunate fact that because there are such well founded arguments on either side each grows more and more bitter toward the other. Confidence in their right increases in proportion to the hatred and mistrust for the other side for not acknowledging it.

…The Jewish people in Palestine who believe in and have been working toward this national state have become an immensely proud and determined people. It is already a truly great modern example of the birth of a nation with the primary ingredients of dignity and self-respect.

…I was in Palestine over Easter week and even then people knew there was absolutely no chance to preserve peace. They just wanted the British out, so that a decision could be reached either way. An early departure of the British has been far more important strategically to the Jews than to the Arabs.

…Having been out of the United States for more than two months at this time of writing, I notice myself more and more conscious of the great heritage and birthright to which we as United States citizens are heirs and which we have the duty to preserve. A force motivating my writing this paper is that I believe we have failed in this duty or are in great jeopardy of doing so. The failure is due chiefly to our inability to get the true facts of the policy in which we are partners in Palestine.

The British government, in its attitude towards the Jewish population in Palestine, has given ample credence to the suspicion that they are firmly against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

…Jews Guard against Red Agents in Guise of Refugees – Want No Part of Russian Tyrant
By Robert Kennedy, June 6, 1948

The die has long since been cast; the fight will take place. The Jews with their backs to the sea, fighting for their very homes, with 101 percent morale, will accept no compromise. On the other hand, the Arabs say:

“We shall bring Moslem brigades from Pakistan, we shall lead a religious crusade for all loyal followers of Mohammed, we shall crush forever the invader. Whether it takes three months, three years, or 30, we will carry on the fight. Palestine will be Arab. We shall accept no compromise.”

The United Nations is scoffed at by both sides and the United States will never be able to regain the position of ascendancy she previously enjoyed with the Arab world. She lost the love of the Arabs when she supported partition. She lost their respect when she reversed that decision. [Editor’s note: In March 1948 the State Department reversed its support for partition and called for a UN trusteeship.] She lost it irreparably. For days on end Arab commentators drummed into their people that finally the power of the Arab world had been realized.

The Jews are bitter in disappointment. As one Jew said, “Britain let us down for 25 years but you bettered them in a week.” The feeling stops at disappointment and there is none of the hatred that exists for the British. They can understand us not wishing to send troops and so become entangled in a war that does not immediately concern us, but they plead only for the right to make this fight themselves. They want arms and frankly admit that if they cannot get them from us they will turn to the East. “What else can we do?” They are fighting for their very lives and must act accordingly.

That the people might accept communism or that communism could exist in Palestine is fantastically absurd. Communism thrives on static discontent as sin thrives on idleness. With the type of issues and people involved, that state of affairs is nonexistent. I am as certain of that as of my name.

When I was in Tel Aviv, a group of refugees was landed and amongst them the Jewish Agency’s “FBI” immediately picked up one of these agents. He was loaded down with money and papers, and all agreed that he must have been sent with the intention that he be captured to mislead the security forces into thinking that all the Russian agents would be as inept as this one and equally easy to capture. Lethargy would set in and it would be then that they would smuggle in their Mata Hari.

Communism demands allegiance to the mother country, Russia, and it is impossible to believe that people would undergo such untold sufferings to replace one tyrant with another. Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot, on trial for his life before a British tribunal stated the principle. When accused of attempting to bring French forces into Ireland to help wrest it from the British, he said why he, who loved and had been fighting for his homeland, deem it to his country’s interests to replace a known tyrant by an unknown one. These people want a homeland of their own.

That to them is the sole issue.

Vehemence and hatred between the Jews and Arabs increase daily. But in many cases Jews and Arabs work side by side in the fields and orange groves outside of Tel Aviv. Perhaps these Jews and Arabs are making a greater contribution to the future peace in Palestine than are those who carry guns on both sides.

The Arabs in command believe that eventually victory must be theirs. It is against all law and nature that this Jewish state should exist. They trace expectantly its long boundary and promise that if it does become a reality it will never have as neighbors anything but hostile countries, which will continue the fight militarily and economically until victory is achieved.

It’s refreshing to read the pre-1960s Kennedy as opposed to the fictional character created of him by the post-1960’s left. What Kennedy expresses (admiration for the Jews, skepticism towards the Arabs, unabashed patriotism, and an uncompromising anti-communism) is an anathema to today’s Democrats.

Brazen and Simplistic

Tony Blankley does a nice job analyzing Barry’s muddled position on the surge in Iraq:

… When [Barry]… submit[s] himself to the occasional press interview, his actual words read in print must make his handlers as nervous as his visual images make Republicans nervous. His discussion of his Iraq policy is almost incomprehensible. He has claimed that both Bush and Iraq’s al-Maliki have come to his position that it is time to move our troops out of Iraq. But back on Sept. 12, 2007, he called for an immediate start to the withdrawal of all U.S. combat forces from Iraq. Obama’s plan called for the complete pullout of troops by the end of 2008 by bringing home one or two brigades each month.

“Let me be clear: There is no military solution in Iraq. There never was,” he said. “‘The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year — now.”

For him, now that the surge he opposed is working and victory may be around the corner, to claim that he was always right is like someone in America in 1944 opposed to the Allied D-Day invasion of Normandy claiming there is no military solution to World War II and we should bring our troops home; then once our troops were on the beach, warning that our troops can accomplish nothing on the beaches — get them out; then when they broke out, warning Americans that they never will get through the hedgerows; then when they broke through the hedgerows, warning that they never will get through the Siegfried line; then the following spring, when Hitler blew his brains out, Germany surrendered and President Truman ordered our troops to be brought home systematically, bragging: “You see? I was always right. Even the president now agrees it is time to bring the troops home.”

But if that claim is brazen, his discussion of Iraq and the war on terror is surprisingly simplistic. When asked by ABC News whether he is committed to winning the war in Iraq, Obama said: “I don’t think we have any choice. We have to win the broader war against terror that threatens America and its interests. I think that Iraq is one front on that war, but I think the central front is in Afghanistan and in the border regions of Pakistan.” (So is he or is he not in favor of winning in Iraq?)

But his idea that the central front of the war on terror is in some geographic location is simplistic. The central front is in the minds of Muslims around the world. If we lose Iraq and Islamist radicals are seen to win, we lose a strategic battle in the war — just as in the Cold War the strategic front was not in Greece in 1947 or Berlin in 1948 or China in 1949 or Korea in 1950 or Cuba in 1962 or Vietnam in 1965 or in Eurocommunist countries in the 1970s. The central front was always the minds of men. When the idea of Soviet-style communism was defeated by Reagan, the war ended. When virtually all Muslims see terror to be a dead end to their aspirations, the war on terror will be over.

When Obama understands that, he may be ready to be deputy assistant secretary of state.

And Nicholas Wapshott, writing in the New York Sun, examines Barry’s media coverage and its implications:

…Mr. Obama’s journey, ostensibly to show his foreign policy credentials, is …a rare chance for the [TV network news] anchors to try to regain if not the influence at least for a short while the prominence of their predecessors. They can only do this by exaggerating the importance of what they are reporting. If, as they suggest, Mr. Obama’s European jaunt is truly “historic,” they cannot afford to be critical. He must be portrayed as a president in waiting, a prophet biding his time, a hero awaiting destiny’s call.

This bodes badly for the role of the press during an Obama presidency. Coupled with the adulation of uncritical reporters eager to cut themselves in on a piece of American history is the penchant of Mr. Obama’s posse for deterring critics by accusing them of “playing the race card” whenever they dare point out their candidate’s shortcomings.

Apart from displaying Mr. Obama’s pomposity and lack of humor, the hullabaloo over portraying the Obamas as Islamist terrorists on the New Yorker cover demonstrated the success of his campaign managers’ strategy: normal critical standards cannot be applied to their “historic” candidate without attracting hurt opprobrium.

So far, Mr. Obama has enjoyed an easy ride. A large faction in the press held off scrutinizing him while they reveled in upsetting the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. The press continues to give Mr. Obama the benefit of the doubt as he jettisons with unseemly haste the liberal positions that caused him to win the nomination.

But if the policies, characters, and judgment of both candidates are not rigorously scrutinized, the election will be little more than a coronation. And if Mr. Obama reaches the White House, will the press continue to hold their breath rather than upset the “historical” narrative they have assigned him?…

And Ann Althouse on Time Magazine’s Joe Klein and his phony outrage over McCain’s statement that Obama would prefer to lose a war in order to win the presidency:

…Klein is trying to generate a big outrage to distract us from McCain’s solid point. McCain said we had to win the war, he pushed for the surge, the surge worked, and now we will have that victory that he would not give up on. Obama said the war was hopeless, we’d have to accept loss, and the surge would only waste more lives.

That is a huge, huge difference. And that is what McCain was referring to. It could have been put even more sharply.

If Klein wants to get all outraged about something, he should get outraged retrospectively about how Obama and many Democrats were ready and even eager to embrace defeat. If Klein wants to worry about who is unsuited for the presidency, he ought to recognize that if Obama had been President two years ago, we would have suffered a humiliating defeat in Iraq that would have repercussions for decades.

And Klein thinks it’s “desperation” to urge us to face that crucial reality, which is what McCain did? Desperation — which is recklessness arising from the utter lack of hope — is what Obama had about the Iraq war.

…The point is that Obama’s judgment would have led this country to jump headlong into defeat. We now must decide if we want this man making choices about things that will arise in the future. Why is it necessary to spell it out again and again that we need to use past judgments to predict future judgments about new matters? I feel like an annoying pedant saying this again. But the reason it’s necessary is that journalists like Klein are covering for Obama.

Talk about “sad.” That’s sad.

"Let Them Come to Berlin"

William Kristol, writing in the New York Times, usefully reminds us of what Jack Kennedy actually said in his famous 1963 speech in Berlin:

… When President Kennedy spoke to a huge crowd in front of West Berlin’s city hall in June 1963, victory in the cold war seemed a distant hope. The Soviets had crushed the East German uprising of 1953 and the Hungarian rebellion of 1956. Castro had taken power in 1959. The Berlin Wall had gone up in 1961. The Cuban Missile Crisis had brought the world to the brink of war less than a year before. There were many, in Europe and elsewhere, who wanted to find a way out of the struggle.

Speaking on behalf of “the world of freedom,” Kennedy challenged the anti-anti-Communists and the peaceniks. He chastised the “many people in the world who really don’t understand, or say they don’t, what is the great issue between the free world and the Communist world.” He rebuked those “who say in Europe and elsewhere we can work with the Communists.” To all of them, Kennedy memorably said: “Let them come to Berlin.”

And in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Kenneth J. Bialkin gets to the heart of the question of Israel and the Iranian bomb:

John Bolton’s analysis of “Israel, Iran and the Bomb” (op-ed, July 15) is brilliant, incisive and correct. There is another factor which is implicit in his article but it is important that it be made explicit.

It lies within the DNA of Israel that “Never Again” is a fundamental precept of Israel and every thinking Jew, and ought to be part of the DNA of all decent people. Israel’s leaders have made it clear that there is a limit to the uncertainty Israel will endure before taking action to eliminate the threat that Iran might acquire a nuclear weapon. No one should be confused about the factors in the equation faced by Israel and the free world or surprised at any action that may be taken.

Not Wrong – Just Premature

Writing in the New York Post, Ralph Peters declares victory in Iraq:

…What a difference a war makes.

Yes, al Qaeda had little or no connection to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – but the terrorists chose to declare that country the main front in their struggle with the Great Satan. Bad investment: Their behavior there was so breathtakingly brutal that they alienated their fellow Muslims in record time.

Fighting enthusiastically beside the once-hated Americans, Iraq’s Sunni Muslims turned on the terrorists with a vengeance. Al Qaeda’s response? It kept on butchering innocent Muslims, Sunni and Shia alike. Iraq exposed al Qaeda as a fraud.

Where do Osama & Co. stand today? They’re not welcome in a single Arab country. The Saudi royals not only cut off their funding, but cracked down hard within the kingdom. A few countries, such as Yemen, tolerate radicals out in the boonies – but they won’t let al Qaeda in. Osama’s reps couldn’t even get extended-stay rooms in Somalia, beyond the borders of the Arab world.

And the Arab in the (dirty) street is chastened. Instead of delivering a triumph, al Qaeda brought disaster, killing far more Arabs through violence and strife than Israel has killed in all its wars. Nobody in the Arab world’s buying al Qaeda shares at yesterday’s premium – and only a last few suckers are buying at all.

Guess what? We won.

The partisan hacks who insisted that Iraq was a distraction from fighting al Qaeda have missed the situation’s irony: Things are getting worse in Afghanistan and Pakistan not because our attention was elsewhere, but because al Qaeda has been driven from the Arab world, with nowhere else to go.

Al Qaeda isn’t fighting to revive the Caliphate these days. It’s fighting for its life.

Unwelcome even in Sudan or Syria, the Islamist fanatics have retreated to remote mountain villages and compounds on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border. That means Afghanistan’s going to remain a difficult challenge for years to come – not a mission-impossible, but an aggravating one.

But we all need to stand back and consider how much we’ve achieved: A terrorist organization that less than a decade ago had global appeal and reach has been discredited in the eyes of most of the world’s billion-plus Muslims.

No one of consequence in the Arab world sees al Qaeda as a winner anymore. Even fundamentalist clerics denounce it. For all of our missteps, Iraq’s been worth it.

How is it that the media missed this stunning victory? Will they start to admit it after Nov. 4?

Yes, al Qaeda remains dangerous. It’s a wounded hog still grunting down in the canebrake: More innocent people will be gored – and it’s going to take a lot of pig-sticking to finish it off.

But I’m proud of one call I made last year: The prediction that the “Sunni flip” in Iraq’s Anbar Province marked the high-water mark for al Qaeda. Increasingly, that call looks correct.

Democrats make a great fuss over the Bush administration’s failure to capture Osama (although they themselves have no idea how to do so). But it now looks like the judgment of history – after the political rancor has settled into the graves of today’s demagogues – will be that the administration of George W. Bush defeated al Qaeda.

There’s plenty of work still to be done. Al Qaeda will behave viciously in its death throes. Other terrorist groups await their turn to appall the world.

But the second-greatest irony of our time is that, fumbling all the way, the Bush administration did what it set out to do after 9/11: It exacted vengeance on those who attacked us and toppled their towers – al Qaeda’s fantastic dreams of global jihad.

So what’s the greatest irony? The president’s oft-mocked declaration of “Mission Accomplished” wasn’t wrong, after all – just premature.

Israel Alone

Finally, the liberal media (in this case, its leader – the New York Times) has begun to wake up to the overwhelming probability that Israel will attack Iran after the election and before inauguration day. Writing in the Times, liberal Israeli academic Benny Morris lays out the scary probabilities:

Israel will almost surely attack Iran’s nuclear sites in the next four to seven months — and the leaders in Washington and even Tehran should hope that the attack will be successful enough to cause at least a significant delay in the Iranian production schedule, if not complete destruction, of that country’s nuclear program. Because if the attack fails, the Middle East will almost certainly face a nuclear war — either through a subsequent pre-emptive Israeli nuclear strike or a nuclear exchange shortly after Iran gets the bomb.

It is in the interest of neither Iran nor the United States (nor, for that matter, the rest of the world) that Iran be savaged by a nuclear strike, or that both Israel and Iran suffer such a fate. We know what would ensue: a traumatic destabilization of the Middle East with resounding political and military consequences around the globe, serious injury to the West’s oil supply and radioactive pollution of the earth’s atmosphere and water.

But should Israel’s conventional assault fail to significantly harm or stall the Iranian program, a ratcheting up of the Iranian-Israeli conflict to a nuclear level will most likely follow. Every intelligence agency in the world believes the Iranian program is geared toward making weapons, not to the peaceful applications of nuclear power. And, despite the current talk of additional economic sanctions, everyone knows that such measures have so far led nowhere and are unlikely to be applied with sufficient scope to cause Iran real pain, given Russia’s and China’s continued recalcitrance and Western Europe’s (and America’s) ambivalence in behavior, if not in rhetoric. Western intelligence agencies agree that Iran will reach the “point of no return” in acquiring the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in one to four years.

Which leaves the world with only one option if it wishes to halt Iran’s march toward nuclear weaponry: the military option, meaning an aerial assault by either the United States or Israel. Clearly, America has the conventional military capacity to do the job, which would involve a protracted air assault against Iran’s air defenses followed by strikes on the nuclear sites themselves. But, as a result of the Iraq imbroglio, and what is rapidly turning into the Afghan imbroglio, the American public has little enthusiasm for wars in the Islamic lands. This curtails the White House’s ability to begin yet another major military campaign in pursuit of a goal that is not seen as a vital national interest by many Americans.

Which leaves only Israel — the country threatened almost daily with destruction by Iran’s leaders. Thus the recent reports about Israeli plans and preparations to attack Iran (the period from Nov. 5 to Jan. 19 seems the best bet, as it gives the West half a year to try the diplomatic route but ensures that Israel will have support from a lame-duck White House).

The problem is that Israel’s military capacities are far smaller than America’s and, given the distances involved, the fact that the Iranian sites are widely dispersed and underground, and Israel’s inadequate intelligence, it is unlikely that the Israeli conventional forces, even if allowed the use of Jordanian and Iraqi airspace (and perhaps, pending American approval, even Iraqi air strips) can destroy or perhaps significantly delay the Iranian nuclear project.

Nonetheless, Israel, believing that its very existence is at stake — and this is a feeling shared by most Israelis across the political spectrum — will certainly make the effort. Israel’s leaders, from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert down, have all explicitly stated that an Iranian bomb means Israel’s destruction; Iran will not be allowed to get the bomb.

The best outcome will be that an Israeli conventional strike, whether failed or not — and, given the Tehran regime’s totalitarian grip, it may not be immediately clear how much damage the Israeli assault has caused — would persuade the Iranians to halt their nuclear program, or at least persuade the Western powers to significantly increase the diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran.

But the more likely result is that the international community will continue to do nothing effective and that Iran will speed up its efforts to produce the bomb that can destroy Israel. The Iranians will also likely retaliate by attacking Israel’s cities with ballistic missiles (possibly topped with chemical or biological warheads); by prodding its local clients, Hezbollah and Hamas, to unleash their own armories against Israel; and by activating international Muslim terrorist networks against Israeli and Jewish — and possibly American — targets worldwide (though the Iranians may at the last moment be wary of provoking American military involvement).

“If Israel launches a first strike on Iran, it would legitimize virtually any form of retaliation by Iran and its allies.”

Such a situation would confront Israeli leaders with two agonizing, dismal choices. One is to allow the Iranians to acquire the bomb and hope for the best — meaning a nuclear standoff, with the prospect of mutual assured destruction preventing the Iranians from actually using the weapon. The other would be to use the Iranian counterstrikes as an excuse to escalate and use the only means available that will actually destroy the Iranian nuclear project: Israel’s own nuclear arsenal.

Given the fundamentalist, self-sacrificial mindset of the mullahs who run Iran, Israel knows that deterrence may not work as well as it did with the comparatively rational men who ran the Kremlin and White House during the cold war. They are likely to use any bomb they build, both because of ideology and because of fear of Israeli nuclear pre-emption. Thus an Israeli nuclear strike to prevent the Iranians from taking the final steps toward getting the bomb is probable. The alternative is letting Tehran have its bomb. In either case, a Middle Eastern nuclear holocaust would be in the cards…

And Charles Krauthammer on Barry’s boundless egomania:

… Americans are beginning to notice Obama’s elevated opinion of himself. There’s nothing new about narcissism in politics. Every senator looks in the mirror and sees a president. Nonetheless, has there ever been a presidential nominee with a wider gap between his estimation of himself and the sum total of his lifetime achievements?

Obama is a three-year senator without a single important legislative achievement to his name, a former Illinois state senator who voted “present” nearly 130 times. As president of the Harvard Law Review, as law professor and as legislator, has he ever produced a single notable piece of scholarship? Written a single memorable article? His most memorable work is a biography of his favorite subject: himself.

It is a subject upon which he can dilate effortlessly. In his victory speech upon winning the nomination, Obama declared it a great turning point in history — “generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment” — when, among other wonders, “the rise of the oceans began to slow.” As economist Irwin Stelzer noted in his London Daily Telegraph column, “Moses made the waters recede, but he had help.” Obama apparently works alone.

Obama may think he’s King Canute, but the good king ordered the tides to halt precisely to refute sycophantic aides who suggested that he had such power. Obama has no such modesty.

…For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

We are getting to know. Redeemer of our uninvolved, uninformed lives. Lord of the seas. And more. As he said on victory night, his rise marks the moment when “our planet began to heal.” As I recall — I’m no expert on this — Jesus practiced his healing just on the sick. Obama operates on a larger canvas.

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