2 posts: (1) Counter-Revolution in Military Affairs--Us v. Them; (2) More on Hamas Win--Weenie Watch.
Author-soldier Ralph Peters has a provocative piece in the 1/30 Weekly Standard, on what he calls the Counter-Revolution in Military Affairs: linking those of fanatical faith--jihadist terrorists--with those of secular utopian faith--global intellectuals, in a struggle of ideas against America and the West. The global media lead the charge--they beat the US in "Fallujah I" in spring 2004. We need to fight on this second ground, one we are ill-prepared for, writes Peters. It's a sobering read. Faith might yet trump technology--the suicide bomber trumping JDAMs.
Peters: A C-RMA May Beat RMA
One factor in the Hamas win, write Michael Kass & Peter Pham in 1/30 NRO, was that the US State Department--under Condi, no less-tolerates Hezbollah participation in the post-Cedar Revolution Lebanese government. A bad augury for Israel re Palestine and the US posture. Barbara Lerner gives a valuable Mideast democracy primer in 1/30 NRO: She sees Egypt, Jordan & Palestine as a "fool's dream" where the populations are seized en masse of Islamofascism. Iraq, Lebanon & Iran are possible democracies, because their polities are divided--not united in a tyrannical ideology; the divide in Lebanon & Iraq is ethnic, in Iran generational. Lerner, who predicted a Hamas win, dismisses 43's view of democracy as that of Rousseau's--satirized memorably by Voltaire in Candide. Instead, she argues, we should support not democracy but democrats--and only in places whee they speak for large numbers of people, not as lone voices in the wilderness. William Buckley's 1/30 column says that democracy brings self-satisfaction to voters, and responsibility; the latter imposes over time, he believes, restraints. Perhaps the case. For now Hamas has called for Israel to remove the two blue stars from its flag, which signify to Jews a prayer shawl, but which to Hamas signify the intent of Jews to rule from the Nile to the Euphrates. And what meanwhile does the EU do: announce it intends to continue funding the Palestine Authority so long as it "supports peace." Right.
Kass& Pham: We Helped Hamas
Lerner: Mideast Democracy Primer
Buckley (NY Sun - paid): Democracy as Spinach
Scroll through these recent newspaper photographs from the San Francisico Chronicle and see what careful news editing can do:
Anatomy of a Photograph
An analysis of a single seemingly innocuous photograph, and the pervasive media bias it reveals.
This photo essay of the anti-war protest in San Francisco on September 24, 2005 was not the only report done about the event. A few other outlets ran their own coverage. But the one photo from the rally that was seen by the most people was this:
Why? Because the San Francisco Chronicle, which had the only mainstream media coverage of the rally, published this photograph on the front page of its Web site as a teaser for their article about the event.
Now, let's take a closer look at this image.
By chance, I took a photo of the same girl just a few moments later. Looks practically identical, doesn't it?
But you might notice that my picture is lower resolution. That's because it's a zoomed-in portion of a much larger photograph. I cropped off the other parts of the picture to get a close-up of the girl.
But what would happen if I hadn't cropped off so much? Let's take a step backward and reveal what the San Francisco Chronicle didn't want you to see.
Here's the same photo without as much cropping, revealing more of the context. You can see that the girl's protest contingent also sported Palestinian flags and obscene placards.
Now let's take another step back.
Here's my full original photo, uncropped. Now we can see that the girl is just one of several teenagers, all wearing terrorist-style bandannas covering their faces.
But, as you'll notice, the bandannas are all printed with the same design. Was this a grassroots protest statement the teenagers had come up with all by themselves?
To find out, let's take a look at another photo in the series, taken at the same time:
Oops -- it looks like they're actually being stage-managed by an adult, who is giving them directions and guiding them toward the front of the march. But who is she?
The last picture in the series reveals all.
It turns out that the woman giving directions belongs to one of the Communist groups organizing the rally -- if her t-shirt is to be believed, since it depicts the flag of Communist Vietnam, which has been frequently displayed by such groups at protest rallies in the U.S. for decades.
The San Francisco Chronicle featured the original photograph on its front page in order to convey a positive message about the rally -- perhaps that even politically aware teenagers were inspired to show up and rally for peace, sporting the message, "People of Color say 'No to War!'" And that served the Chronicle's agenda.
But this simple analysis reveals the very subtle but insidious type of bias that occurs in the media all the time. The Chronicle did not print an inaccuracy, nor did it doctor a photograph to misrepresent the facts. Instead, the Chronicle committed the sin of omission: it told you the truth, but it didn't tell you the whole truth.
Because the whole truth -- that the girl was part of a group of naive teenagers recruited by Communist activists to wear terrorist-style bandannas and carry Palestinian flags and obscene placards -- is disturbing, and doesn't conform to the narrative that the Chronicle is trying to promote. By presenting the photo out of context, and only showing the one image that suits its purpose, the Chronicle is intentionally manipulating the reader's impression of the rally, and the rally's intent.
Such tactics -- in the no-man's-land between ethical and unethical -- are commonplace in the media, and have been for decades. It is only now, with the advent of citizen journalism, that we can at last begin to see the whole story and realize that the public has been manipulated like this all along.
Carnegie Endowment fellow Robert Kagan's 1/29 op-ed says it all: Regime change is the only solution for Iran's threat. Ideally, it comes by fostering democratic change; if not, a regime-ending operation is necessary. Read his excellent piece. In particular, note that he says that a strike aimed only at facilities would be problematic and could backfire politically. Best then to heed the advice from the sagacious, if un-P.C., Machiavelli, advice 41 ignored in 1991: "If you strike at the King, you must kill him."
Kagan: Iran: "It's the Regime, Stupid!"
Much commentary in recent years (including mine) re the Arab-Israeli conflict has been based in part on the belief that the Arab population's sharply higher fertility rate augurs ill for Israel remaining a Jewish state. Caroline Glick's 1/27 column informs us that the Arab numbers were inflated by the Palestinian Authority (had I but known they were the source of the old numbers....), which makes sense--why tell the truth about this when they have lied about everything else? A new study suggests that in 2025 Jews will be 77 percent of Israel's population versus 81 percent today, and 67 percent of Israel + Judea & Samaria versus 63 percent today.
Glick: Demographic Time Bomb Is a Dud
Mark Steyn, who would make a grand cultural commissar, has put online his thoughts on his ten favorite songs composed by the great Jule Styne (1905 - 1994). It prints out at 21 single-column pages single-column--equivalent to maybe 7 pages full-width single-space--and is well worth a read. A pair of tidbits from Steyn (with a Sammy Cahn tidbit from me sandwiched in between): Styne and lyricist Sammy Cahn (the latter best known for Sinatra songs written with composer Jimmy van Heusen, but a longtime collaborator with Styne as well) wrote their XMAS season classic "Let It Snow" (1945) on a sizzling summer day in LA. They decided to cool off by writing a winter tune. Asked why he wrote three "let it snow" choruses per tag line Cahn answered: "three is lyric."
I'm not sure I get that one. I remember Cahn more for this classic riposte to a remark from former Attorney-General Griffin Bell, who told a special ethics commission convened by Bush 41, in testimony urging against allowing politicians to earn outside income: "We don't want a government of songwriters." In a 1989 letter to the New York Times Cahn replied: "[N]o one walks down the street humming legislation."
Back to Jule Styne. Styne's famous hit "Just in Time" (1956) is compactly constructed on half-step melodies; the song is not only great for singers--it also is a dream for pianists to play. Want a mellow ballad? 1947's "Time After Time" is tops. Or lift your spirits? What better than 1959's "Everything's Coming Up Roses"? Styne was a "composer's composer"--himself an aspiring concert pianist whose career was derailed by a finger injury. His music is emotionally punchy yet musically graceful. It's time to find a Steinway and play the ever-timely Styne.
Steyn: Steyn on Styne
Sammy Cahn Letter to NY Times 3/9/89
January 30, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
5 posts: (1) Wiretaps: MSM Tilts the Scales--MSM Murders; (2) DC Snow Job: 2006 Edition--The Ap & The Cap; (3) Google's Gag: Tiananmen Cyber-Square--Weenie Watch; (4) Iraq: "Where Have You Gone, WMD-e-o?"--Us v. Them; (5) Happy, Hellish Hamas Inoculates Israel--Us v. Them.
You have to get to page 31 of 41 online pages to see the exact questions posed by the CBS/NY Times re the NSA wiretap program. (Because it is posted only as a .pdf file I had to re-key the whole thing--so, LFTC readers, you are appreciated very much and well worth the trouble.)
Question 60. In order to reduce the threat of terrorism, would you be willing or not willing to allow government agencies to monitor telephone calls and e-mails of Americans that the government is suspicious of?
Choices: (a) willing; (b) not willing; (c) don't know
5/27-28/03: 63% - a, 31% - b, 6% - c
4/13-16/05: 56% - a, 39% - b, 5% - c
a/20-25/06: 68% - a, 29% - b, 2% - c
Question 61. As you may know, President Bush has recently said that he authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the US without getting court warrants. How closely would you say that you have been following news about this--very closely, somehwat closely, not too closely, or not at all?
1/20-25/06: 22% very, 45% somewhat, 20% not too, 12% not at all, 1% don't know
Question 62 (asked of half). After 9/11 President Bush authorized government wiretaps on some phone calls in the U.S. without getting court warrants, saying that this was necessary in order to reduce the threat of terrorism. Do you approve or disapprove of the President doing this?
1/20-25/06: 53% approve, 46% disapprove, 1% don't know
Question 63 (asked of half). Same as #62, except the phrase referring to President Bush's stated justification is removed.
1/20-25/06: 46% approve, 50% disapprove, 3% don't know
Question 64. From what you have seen or heard, what do you think is the main reason this is being done--is it being done to expand the power of the Presidency, or is it being done ONLY to fight terrorism?
1/20-25/06: 29% expand Presidency, 61% fight terrorism, 5% both, 5% don't know
Question 66 (no #65 is given). In general, how much confidence do you have that government agencies are able to correctly tell whose phone calls and e-mails should be monitored and whose should not--do you have a great deal of confidence, a fair amount, not very much or not at all?
1/5-8/06: 10% a great deal, 45% fair amount, 30% not very much, 13% not at all, 2% don't know
1/20-25/06: 10% a great deal, 48% fair amount, 28% not very much, 13% not at all, 2% don't know
What do we learn from this? (1) most of the public is following the story closely; (2) public attitudes are not swayed much by saturation coverage; (3) MSM is not very honest--note in questions #61 & #62 the phrase "phone calls in the US." On what we know to date, only international calls are being monitored. My question to LFTC readers: What would poll results show if THIS question were asked: "Do you approve, disapprove or not care about the President's decision to monitor phone calls made between suspected terrorists overseas and people within the U.S.?" Do not hold your breath waiting for CBS or the NY Times to ask that one.
CBS/NYTimes Poll: Wiretaps
I just received a lovely flier from the District of Columbia government, addressed charmingly to "resident customer" and entitled "DC Snow Emergency Guide." White XMAS pictures decorate the cover: snow trucks clearing streets--your tax dollars at work. Inside is a map of the District, a depiction of a sign reading "Snow Emergency Route" + "No Parking During Emergency," a warning that parking is banned on snow emergency routes--a fine of $250 may be levied, and your vehicle may be towed. Oh, yes: to locate a towed vehicle call 202-727-5000. And the mayor's Media Center (202-727-1000) will tell you if a snow emergency is in effect. (If more than 2 inches are on the ground, don't worry, it is.) At the bottom of the inside of the flier is an admonition to "Please remember to help your neighbors"--"Please help elderly and physically challenged neighbors who may find it difficult to clear snow from around their homes."
It all makes one nostalgic for Hizzoner-for-Life, Marion S. Barry. In 1987 two 10-inch snowstorms hit the District, the first just before the Super Bowl and the second just after. Hizzoner was where every mayor should be when his city is under siege: in a sun-drenched paradise (San Diego, that year) attending the Super Bowl. Asked if he had a snow removal program, Barry answered: Yeah, June."
Oh, wonder what the "S" stands for? Shepilov, as in Dmitri Shepilov, a Soviet Politburo member known only to Sovietologists and Julian Barry, Marion's dad and a leading American Communist. Want more on Hizzoner? The classic work is Dream City: Race, Politics and the Decline of Washington, DC (1994), by Tom Sherwood and Henry Jaffe, two local newshawks.
So monster Internet planet Google caves in to the Chinese. Tom Lipscomb, founder of New York Times Books, notes that Google's market cap exceeds that of the entire newspaper industry ($80B v. $65B). Yet while Google resists efforts of the US government to turn over customer search data on privacy grounds, the company caves to the Chinese and accepts censorship. Try to find out about Falun Gong through Google's portal. Tom attributes much of this what he terms (not without reason) the keiretsu oligopoly structure in communications industries, plus a dose of greed worthy of 1980s Wall Street movie heavy Gordon "Greed is good!" Gekko.
Tom says that Google should have done what he did as Times Books President a generation ago: He pulled out of the Moscow Book Fair to protest Soviet censorship. Google has the market leverage to force the Chinese to choose between open access and economic growth, or closed access and economic stagnation. What a pity that Google's owners don't see this--or, maybe they do but simply don't care.
Lipscomb: The Real Cost of Google's Sellout to China
A general who ranked number two in Saddam's air force says that Iraq moved its WMD to Syria before the war. The transport was accomplished by a pair of Boeing civilian airliners converted into cargo planes; in all, 56 trips were made. The operation was supervised by Saddam's cousin Ali Hussein al-Majid, the infamous "Chemical Ali." A cousin of Syria's leader, Bashar Assad, received the contraband. Syria is one of 8 countries that has not signed the Chemical Weapons Treaty.
Check out the Middle East Quarterly link for more on Iraq-Syria WMD transfer evidence, detail re Iraqi scientists helping Syria & Iran re WMD research, and details on Syria's burgeoning missile program.
NY Sun (paid subscribers): Iraq's WMD Secreted in Syria
Middle East Quarterly (Fall 2005): Syria After Lebanon: The Growing Syrian Missile Threat
So, Hamas (an acronym for the Arabic name "Islamic Resistance Movement") won 76 of 132 (57.5%, or 4/7ths) of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. Fatah (Arabic for "struggle"), the spectacularly corrupt party (whose corruption "world opinion" studiously ignored) won but 43 (32.5%, nearly 1/3). This leaves 13 seats (10%) for "other." Hamas has no plans for changing its charter to eliminate the language calling for destruction of Israel. So, the proto-state in "Palestine" has won the dubious honor of becoming the world's first declaratory terror state. May the world be saved from such progress in the future. Oh, the "peace process?" In retirement, like its progenitors. The proverbial silver linings in the dark cloud: for Israel, pressure to make "peace" with the new democratically elected government cannot be too strong; for the rest of the world, it is the end of Fantasyland about the Palestinians. Whoever wins Israel's March 28 election will enjoy a relatively free hand. And an enemy open and honest in his hatred--Hamas--beats facing an enemy that dissimulates in public to cover its private hatred (Fatah).
Etienne Ottolenghi, an Israeli professor, writing in 1/26 NRO, says that Hamas would have been better off with 30-35% of the seats, where it could exercise strong behind-the-scene influence without being held responsible; with most of the seats Hamas can no longer hide, and thus must answer for terror. Further, the Palestinian Authority can no longer disavow Hamas--the PA and Hamas are effectively one and the same. Israeli investigative journalist Arlene Kushner's 1/26 NRO piece shows why Fatah's program shows no daylight vis-a-vis that of Hamas. Author Joel C. Rosenberg's 1/26 NRO piece gives the Hamas scorecard over the past two decades; it's not pretty. Ex-Peace Process honcho Dennis Ross says that the result turns Palestinian policy back twenty years, to a one-state solution--no separate Jewish state. (Hamas was founded in 1987, as an offshoot of Egtypt's Muslim Brotherhood.) Check out the link below to the Hams martyrs' oath--a neat collection of paranoia, fanaticism and lies. Meanwhile, Fox reports that (usually sharp) Israeli intelligence was caught by surprise.
Ever sage Jim Hoagland writes in his 1/27 column that US intelligence was also caught flat-footed--less of a surprise than Israel's spooks blowing it. He advises the West to deal in a limited, principled way with Hamas, giving Hamas room to hang itself. He states that the Palestinians should be made to live with the consequences of their choice. Amen. NY Post columnist Uri Dan, who covers Israel, says that one possible collateral casualty of Hamas victorious may be stability in Jordan. A trio of NY Sun contributors today address the issue: David Twersky sees the election as "great clarification" that discredits the fantasy of a peace deal and energizes pan-Islamism; Hillel Halkin hopes that the US & Europe will acknowledge that Oslo & the road map are both dead; Eli Lake notes that the Fatah recruits trained by the CIA & Egypt to fight Hamas are petty criminals and terrorists themselves.
Hamas may do for the Palestinians what Iran's Hitlerian President is doing for Iran's image.
Ottolenghi: Hamas without Veils
Kushner: Fatah and Hamas Are the Same
Rosenberg: Welcome to Hamastan
The Hamas Martyrs' Oath
Hoagland: Living With Hamas's Victory
Dan: US, Israel Caught Off Guard
Twersky (NYSun - paid): Israel Has Fewer But Better Options
Halkin (NY Sun - paid): The End of the Road for the Roadmap
Lake (NYSun - paid): Meet the New Boss
So, Hillary has decided 43 has not been tough enough on Iran! Don't laugh: Anytime a Democrat these days even talks tough it is a step forward. Here's what she said Wednesday last week (1/18): "I believe that we lost critical time in dealing with Iran because the White House chose to downplay the threats and to outsource the negotiations." Better still: "We cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran that they will not be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons." Of Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Hitler's surname in Farsi?), he who wants Israel wiped off the map, the junior senator from the Empire State said: "[He] is moving to create his own nuclear reality in line with his despicable rewriting of history." All true. Yes: Hillary is right--but on the past, not the future.
Sanctioning Iran: Too Little, Too Late
OK, give Hillary credit for being more "realist" than her UN-besotted party base. But Senator 2008 does not grasp the limits of sanctions as substantive policy. The main value of sanctions against Iran would have been to prove their futility, and thus make carrying out a military option more politically feasible. But now it is too late: We simply do not have the time anymore, having squandered several years with European diplomat and UN bureaucrat games.
To see this more clearly, hark back to Iraq under Saddam. In the 1990s my late uncle, the strategist Albert Wohlstetter (a fixture in national security circles for five decades) said, opposing sanctions against Iraq: "Saddam's capacity to inflict pain on his people infinitely exceeds ours." It was the Iraqi hoi polloi who suffered under sanctions; Saddam still built palaces funded by oil revenues via his corruption of the UN oil-for-food program. Saddam willingly accepted a steep decline in Iraq's GDP--prosperity of his people was not his agenda. Nor is growing GDP at the top of Iran's Islamofascist agenda.
The model for successful use of sanctions was the Reagan Administration. Sanctions helped end apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia (since 1980, Zimbabwe); they worked against a relatively weak, and thus vulnerable, states. Against a stronger state like the former Soviet Union more care had to be exercised. Reagan rightly lifted the Carter Administration's grain embargo against the Soviets, because all it did was replace American farm supplies with grain from Australia, Argentina and Canada. Thus that embargo hurt American farmers, not the Soviets.
However, Reagan successfully embargoed high-technology products in 1982. By denying the Soviets access to advanced information technology, plus specialized oil-drilling equipment, he hurt the Soviets in key economic sectors and above all in their military sector, on whose power the regime depended for its world position and internal cohesion. Reagan understood that just as precision-guided munitions (PGMs) are great for targeting military assets while minimizing collateral damage, sanctions should equally be precise--in effect, economic PGMs. By hurting the Soviet leaders and their power-assets, while minimizing collateral damage to the captive Russian people, Reagan accelerated the downfall of the Evil Empire.
So, it takes special conditions for sanctions to work--if they work, which often they don't. But sanctions have an Achilles heel: Even when successful they take time--lots of it, far more than we likely have with Iran. Most current estimates see Iran "going critical" (having enough weapons-grade material to make bombs within weeks) within three years. The former Rhodesia lasted 13 years (1967-1980) before a black regime won (and it was ghastly); South Africa lasted 27 years (1967-1994); Russia lasted a decade (1982-1992). Saddam lasted 12 years under sanctions that did not work, with great suffering endured by the Iraqi people--that Saddam caused and for which he blamed us. (The West was even blamed for medical supply shortages, despite that item not being on the embargo list--another triumph for global media.)
Iran (Alas) Has Options, Too
Iran is a medium-strength regional power, floating on oil, that has sponsored transnational terror worldwide; in 1983 Hezbollah's Marine barracks bombing killed 241 and drove Ronald Reagan's America out of Lebanon. Economic sanctions could hurt Iran--denial of Western investment, or refusing to sell key oil equipment. But they will likely hurt Iran less than Iran can hurt the world: playing with the oil supply or even by impeding transit through the choke-point Straits of Hormuz that lead into the Persian Gulf. Iran could also unleash the 25 al-Qai'da leaders they currently shelter, or set Hezbollah terror against US targets--they already did so recently against Israel. Sanctions against Iran likely will replay Jimmy Carter's failed grain embargo against the Soviets, by hurting the wrong people (the captive population and Western publics) while leaving intact the true target (Iran's leaders).
Indicative of the fear Iran inspires is what Italy's Foreign Minister said re Israel launching a pre-emptive strike against Iran's nuclear program: "With the same firmness with which I say that Iran represents a danger and therefore we need to be very firm and very decisive ... I tell Israel that you cannot and must not think of launching a pre-emptive attack because it would set the whole Middle East and the whole world on fire for who knows how many decades." This as Israel announces that it has definitive proof that last Thursday's (1/19) suicide bombing in Tel Aviv was carried out by Syria with Iranian funds. And now, with the charm that has become Iranian officialdom's hallmark, its defense minister said on 1/24: "Zionists should know that if they do anything evil against Iran, the response of Iran's armed forces will be so firm that it will send them into eternal coma, like Sharon."
The West Is Sharply Divided Over What (If Anything) To Do
Fareed Zakharia writes in the 1/30 US News & World Report that neither sanctions nor a military strike will work. He sees the Iranians as being years away from success. He advocates a broad, multilateral strategy of containment. David Brooks writes in his 1/22 NY Times column that there are four policy camps on Iran: (1) pre-emptionsts, who advocate a quick military strike; (2) sanctionists, who believe economic warfare can work; (3) reformists, who press for surgical (what Colin Powell, re Saddam, called "smart") sanctions; (4) silent fatalists, who see Iran's emergence as a nuclear power inevitable. Brooks thinks all four options "stink." He sees us arguing among these options endlessly, without result. Sadly, he may well be right.
Ruel Marc Gerecht, ex-CIA & now with AEI, writes in the 1/30 Weekly Standard that the Foggy Bottom types who persuaded 43 to let Europe take the lead re Iran in 2003 knew that the Europeans weren't serious about stopping the Iranian bomb. Gerecht recalls that prior efforts at "engagement" with Iran--Carter NSA chief Zbigniew Brzezinski's trip to Algeria in 1979, Reagan NSA chief Robert MacFarlane's disastrous 1986 visit that led to Iran-contra, Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's 2000 flop--all failed. He advocates tough sanctions: serious economic ones plus denying Iranian students Western technical education--plus sending notice that there are trip-wires that, if crossed, will cause a US military strike. Gerecht also argues that promoting democracy in Iran (and in Egypt) is essential for the credibility of 43's pro-democratic agenda, much more so than in pushing for reform in marginal places like Pakistan and Libya. He thinks the CIA comatose on Iran, lacking staff resources to do much useful.
This is a very small sample of serious observers, but should suffice. The West's policy towards Iran is incoherent: diffuse, tentative, belied by its obvious reluctance to back sanctions by the threat--let alone actual use--of military force if sanctions fail.
Time: The Clock is Running--Against Us, Not the Mullahs
Worse, time is on Iran's side. There are two clocks running: (1) Iran's progress towards going critical; (2) the time that must pass before a military option becomes widely politically acceptable. Both clocks run against the West. Worst of all is not if sanctions collapse now, but if they are adopted. If so they would delay any military option until sanctions are widely perceived as futile, which would take years. Monday 1/30 the five Security Council powers plus Germany will meet in London to try and reach a common position on Iran prior to a 2/2 IAEA meeting in Vienna. Pray that they fail, lest time-killing sanctions freeze military options indefinitely. If sanctions might plausibly work, prayer for their use would make sense; if surely futile, pray for failure.
Christopher Dickey writes in the current Newsweek that the key diplomatic date is 3/6, not 2/2. Mohammed el-Baradei, the UN-sponsored IAEA's chief nuclear inspector and Nobel Peace laureate (he got his prize for stalling US and Israeli military action against Iran), promises a definitive report on that date. In an interview (link below) with Dickey the inspector, asked about Iran's leaders not seeming to care what the IAEA does, answered: "Well, they might not seem to care. But if I say that I am not able to confirm the peaceful nature of that program after three years of intensive work, well, that's a conclusion that's going to reverberate, I think, around the world." To be fair, el-Baradei comes across as sincere, but his vision of graduated escalation against Iran is surrealistic.
Dickey, for his part, itemizes how Iran has played footsie, going back as far as 1987--nearly 20 years: (1) concealing information, as yet not detailed, from A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani enrichment expert, in 1987 & 1994; (2) bulldozing a site, Lavizan, after it was identified as a suspect site, and refusing to allow environmental soil samples to be taken; (3) keeping mum on a laptop stolen from Iran in 2004, sent by the CIA to the IAEA, that showed hundreds of pages of what appear to be nuclear weapons designs; (4) giving IAEA inspectors two cardboard boxes in 2004, to be examined in a government room, with inspectors finding 10 pages showing a design for casting uranium in a spherical form consistent with a weapon configuration--the Iranians refused them permission to copy the documents and have stonewalled since. Dickey advocates sanctions if the 3/6 deadline passes without Iran coming across with answers. He believes that the Iranians will reject a "let Ivan do it" enrichment deal, as not only has Persia feared Russia over the centuries, but Russia recently cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine and Europe, and likely sabotaged energy pipelines in Georgia and Armenia. But an Iranian official yesterday called this option open.
If Sanctions Fail, What Might Work (No, Not International Law)?
Leave us first put "international law" to bed, once and for all. International law works great if there is a fishing dispute between Norway and Denmark. It takes a while, but no one gets hurt and everyone goes home safe and sound. In the area of WMD, a treaty can work--with nations you need not lose sleep over. Feel relieved that Australia signed the Chemical Weapons Treaty? Just in time--Canberra was on the brink of striking America's West coast! (OK, to be fair, the 1987 INF Treaty banning US & Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles from Europe worked. But it worked because Gorbachev abandoned his regime's historic goals; absent Gorbachev's change, the Treaty would have failed, as did earlier arms treaties due to massive violations by the Soviets.) Alas, international law does not work so well against certain folks. Hitler stomped on the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war as an instrument of state policy. Iran's Islamist leaders have sworn fealty to one law--their God, whose sacred words are found not at The Hague, but in the Qu'ran. Twelver Shi'a devotees await the return of the Child (Hidden) Imam and the ensuing apocalyptic Judgment Day. They do not consult Western law professors.
Which leaves force, and timing issues. Given the landmark 3/6 IAEA deadline, any strike before that date would have to be based upon airtight intelligence, a prospect that is essentially zero. One Iranian dissident group, notes Jed Babbin in 1/23's TAS, has predicted an Iranian nuclear bomb test before March 20--this year. So if the Iranians can "go critical" before 3/6 chalk up game, set and match for the mullahs. But on the assumption that Iran is not quite that close, what will work?
Force, or the credible threat of same. Above all, any military option threatened or executed against Iran must be comprehensive, aimed at destabilizing the regime at minimum, decapitating it at maximum. Iran's leaders must be made to know that pursuing nuclear weapons endangers them, that wrecking the oil market endangers them and that sponsoring transnational terror endangers them. (Yes, a big oil price hike justifies military action--why accept economic blackmail that costs us hundreds of billions--perhaps trillions--of dollars? That triumph of self-restraint led in 1974 to OPEC ascendancy and the consequent financing of war, terror and the spread of Islamist fanaticism.)
Max Boot's 1/25 column does counter one anti-strike argument, by noting that far from causing the population to rally around a hated regime a successful strike can undermine further its prestige. But Boot worries that Iran will retaliate against US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is precisely why a military option should aim at destroying the regime. Tony Blankley's 1/25 column traces a number of regional permutations--rivalry with Saudi Wahhabism for jihadist primacy, rivalry with Turkey and Egypt, too; his piece covers a broad range and is worth a look. Writing in the Weekly Standard counter-terror expert David Gartenstein Ross says that the fissures within Iran can be exploited to the West's advantage. This is perhaps true, but how quickly? Probably not quickly enough, one suspects. (Democracy stalwart Mike Ledeen may dispute this, and he has proven prescient about much in Iran over the past 30 years.)
Iran's determination should not be underestimated, if Pakistan's history is any guide: Regarding nuclear programs, recall that in the early 1970s Pakistan's then-ruler, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said of the country's nascent nuclear program that his people would "eat grass" in pursuit of an Islamic bomb. (That choice Bhutto made for his subjects; be consoled that his diet wasn't grass.) Money, to fanatics, is not what counts. John Bolton, truth-teller extraordinaire, says that 43 will not accept a nuclear Iran because he fears the mullahs might unleash a nuclear Holocaust.
Only if faced with the concrete prospect of their imminent demise might Iran's leaders be reigned in. Alas, despite Hillary's tough talk there is no convincing sign that many in the West are ready to use necessary force to stop Iran's march towards joining the global nuclear club. Historian Victor Davis Hanson is even more pessimistic: He believes that even if Iran destroys Israel with a nuclear first-strike (what Cold War strategists called a "bolt from the blue"--a move deemed by strategists possible only given a nut case--just who might that be today?), much of the world is too addicted to oil and the pleasures it makes possible to care about the fate of Israel and the Jews. In his view, were Israel nuked, in short order the world would simply move on. The indisposition of "world opinion" to end anti-Semitism at the UN, and its persistence in Europe makes Hanson's prophecy chillingly conceivable.
To preclude this, and many other plausible future horrors, it is best to issue a final ultimatum (as did Bush, Blair & Howard to Saddam) ASAP after Iran fails the 3/6 test (a certitude) and serious sanction efforts stall (a near-certitude). If Iran (as is likely) balks, then a massive military strike should be launched with regime change the strategic aim. A successor regime likely would be military at first, then might flower into democracy. Were it to stay a dictatorship at least it would not be theocratic, jihadist, terror-sponsoring, imperialist, WMD-bent and half-insane. If the West--and, especially, the US--must pay a steep political price for action, as seems certain, let it be paid in pursuit of all the marbles.
Sen. Clinton Calls for Sanctions Against Iran
Hanson: End-of-Days Worldview
Zakharia: Time to Face Reality on Iran
Brooks: Hating the Bomb
Gerecht: Coming Soon, Nuclear Theocrats?
Himmelfarb: Islamofascist Solidarity Day
Brookes: Iran: Our Military Options
Babbin: Iran Showdown
IntlJPost.com: Bolton: Bush Won't Tolerate Nuclear Iran
Boot: Iran's Threat, Bush's Dilemma
NY Times: Six Powers to Meet in London to Seek Common Iran Stance
Blankley: Why Fear Iranian Nukes?
Gartenstein-Ross: The Mullah Wars
Jerusalem Post: Iran Threatens 'Eternal Coma' Retaliation Against Israel
Dickey: Countdown to a Showdown
Newsweek Interview With Mohammed el-Baradei: Diplomacy and Force
7 posts: (1) Global Warming Luau--"It's the Earth Stupid!"; (2) Canadian Bacon: Angela II?--Weenie Watch; (3) A "Ring of Steel" for Lower Manhattan?--9/11, 3/11 & N/11; (4) Afghanistan & Iraq: The Top Brass Speaks; (5) Are Both the US & Osama Losing?--Us v. Them; (6) Speech-Police Target the Blogosphere--Weenie Watch; (7) New Orleans "Twilight Zone"--Katrina Etc.
Yo, Al, want to see Global Warming? Then tell me about snow in Hawaii (see link below). I know, according to GW mavens, extreme weather in any direction proves GW--Moscow's Big Chill proves it. Right, and the Panchen Lama (the traditional child king of Tibet) is related to the late Fernando Lamas. (Hint, Al: Only one of them married Esther Williams.)
Rare Event: Snow in Hawaii!
Canada's right-of-center government may be--as is Angela Merkel's--limited in how much it can do for the US. But at least the new kids on the block will not lie to us or betray us. Call it a plus on that alone. Ex-43 speechwriter David Frum, Canadian by birth, gives us a lowdown. Fellow Canadian Mark Steyn sees Stephen Halper as neither a Reagan nor a Maggie, but instead like Australia's PM John Howard: secure within himself, and a great calculator of what is politically achievable. A Wall Street Journal editorial notes that between 1985 and 2004 Canadian per capita income relative to the US figure declined from 80.4% to 66.9%. Now, says the WSJ (rightly), it is time for 43 to step up to the plate and remove the anti-dumping tariff slapped on Canadian lumber, which no fewer than four panels have found in violation of GATT.
Frum: Putting an End to Ottawa's Brat Act
Steyn: A Howardesque Leader
Wall Street Journal Editors: Canadian Warm Front
NYPD and Albany are looking at the "ring of steel" concept as a way to protect Lower Manhattan. In 1993 the central City of London area was cordoned off with narrowed roads, now supplemented by security cameras everywhere. Aimed at reducing IRA terror it has been a smashing success. Civil libertarian objections took a backseat to stopping terror. Check out the article and be sure to see the graphic illustrations at the end.
Wall Street Journal: A 'Ring of Steel' to Protect New York?
A retired military friend sent me this set of points made last week by General John Abizaid, commander of US forces in Afghanistan & Iraq, in remarks at the Naval War College: (1) Congress and the public are badly misinformed about how the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan are going; (2) the insurgency in Iraq remains in 4 of 18 provinces, with the other 14 doing quite nicely; (3) the unrest in Afghanistan is mainly in the pro-Taliban Kandahar province and the mountainous border region with Pakistan; (4) there are now over 200,000 native troops in Iraq and 70,000 in Afghanistan; (5) the Iraqi casualty rate is double that for the US; (6) Iraq is in transition in 2006; (7) Taliban are funded by drug money; (8) our opponents cannot win on the battlefield--if they prevail it will be in the media, by demoralizing American public attitudes.
Thomas Friedman's column today makes a startling assertion: yes, Osama is losing, but so are we. Osama is losing because he no longer controls a country, no longer has a religious (Taliban) cover and because al-Qaida is killing more Muslims than Americans, and has been doing so for some time. Muslims may be perfectly willing to accept terror strikes against non-Muslims, but against their own is another matter. Yet the US, Friedman argues, is failing to transform the Muslim world's shattered political culture; military and intelligence services still dominate, and nascent efforts to liberalize Muslim societies are not going very well. Partly this is because 43 & America are "radioactive," says Friedman. His pessimism may go too far: most Afghans and Iraqis live better and freer lives thanks to US intervention. Their voices may be largely ignored in our media, but they count over there. So take heart. All things considered I'd rather be in 43's shoes than Osama's.
Friedman: Osama at the Kit Kat Club
Brian C. Anderson, editor of Manhattan Institute's stellar City Journal, explains at length how the McCain-Feingold "reformers" now have talk radio and the blogosphere in their gunsights. He starts with background: Congress was snookered into passing McCain-Feingold because it did not realize that left-wing groups used the Pew Trusts plus money from George Soros and like-minded lefties to finance the pressure campaign. Mass media went along, as its relative voice would be made more powerful if others were silenced. 43 committed the greatest domestic policy disservice of his tenure when he signed the bill to placate John McCain (who 43 feared might have run a third-party race in 2004). But the Supreme Court's McConnell v. FEC (2003) ruling upheld the law, contrary to what 43 and his too-clever-by-half advisers expected. (McConnell is Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who challenged the law; the FEC is the Federal Election Commission, a monstrosity created after Watergate.) And so the greatest-ever peacetime diminution of political speech by statute became law of the land.
Now the "reformers" aim to put Internet advertising and advocacy under the FEC regulatory banner. They further aim to resurrect the Federal Communications Commissione's defunct Fairness Doctrine, which required balance in broadcast programming. When there were a few stations it made superficial theoretical sense, although in reality big-gun liberal media were not forced to balance anything. The Reagan FCC killed the doctrine in 1987 and talk radio, a mostly right-wing phenomenon, flourished in the 1990s. Right-of-center blogs lead in the blogosphere, too: 157 of the top 250 blogs lean right--that tally from a liberal survey, no less. So the lefties want the government to silence them, rather than leave the debate to the free marketplace of ideas. One piece of good news: When Samuel Alito takes the Court in place of Sandra Day O'Connor, he replaces the Justice whose swing 5th vote sustained McCain-Feingold.
Anderson: Shut Up, They Explained
Anne Applebaum's column today aptly captures the cognitive dissonance--the "twlight zone," as one resident put it--that afflicts the city. An intense emotional desire to rebuild everything as before clashes with post-Katrina's harsh reality: that a rebuilt city must of necessity be smaller and different in character than the old Crescent City. Applebaum concludes that until the reality is accepted New Orleans will stay in its suspended animation. She is right. In another development, prodded by a federal judge, the Governor has postponed the city's elections from 2/4 to 4/22.
Applebaum: 'It's Like the Twlight Zone'
7 posts: (1) Sacking Souter at Home?--The Home Front; (2) Syria/Iran: Axis of Terror--Us v. Them; (3) Torture Report: Sentence First, Trial Later--Weenie Watch; (4) After Sharon & Hamas, What?--Us v. Them; (5) Can Islamofascism Undermine European Anti-Semitism?--Weenie Watch; (6) Leaks and Courts: A Reporter's Brief--MSM Murders; (7) "Rubinomics" Redux?--"It's the Earth Stupid!"
On March 14 voters in the Vermont hamlet of Weare (pop. 8,500) get to vote on whether to condemn Justice David Souter's property so they can erect a Lost Liberty Hotel on it. This would be payback for Justice Souter's vote in Kelo v. New London (2005), the much-maligned (rightly so) ruling by the Supremes that made it easier for governments to condemn private property in favor of building by more powerful economic interests. Jewish World Review columnist Jay Homnick's piece in today's TAS notes that while the protest vote will probably fail, it is useful symbolism.
Protest Hits Close to Home for Justice Souter
Homnick: Jilted Souter
Mike Ledeen offers an alliance snapshot, the one cemented in Damascus last week between Syria and Iran in their 2006 version of the infamous 1957 meeting at Appalachin (an upstate NY town that was the scene of a monster Mafia confab, a legendary episode in mob history annals). Syria provides the organization and Iran the cash. Worse, they back the prime insurgent forces inside Iraq. Mike says we have options more appealing than bombing: support dissident forces inside the two countries. Iran has a vulnerability I had not been aware of: most of its oil fields lie in territory (the south) where the population is Arab, not Persian. I remain unconvinced that there is enough time for these kinds of options to work--we dithered too much the past few years, but the article is chock-full of useful tidbits. Oh yes, Iran has sent some of its WMD to Syria for safekeeping.
Ledeen: Terror Alliance
So the Swiss senator who investigated allegations that the US maintained secret CIA prisons in Poland & Romania unearthed no evidence of such. And the senator could not definitively establish that secret facilities existed. Yet all the same he convicted, and said that European governments probably knew about it, too. and he added that the investigation should continue. So, the verdict is guilty as charged, and we'll keep investigating until we can prove it. Add to this John McCain (no "weenie" is Hero John, but increasingly our Vietnam hero supports "weenie" policies that hamstring US war efforts): His anti-torture bill, now law, imposes on the US (as Andrew McCarthy wrote in the 1/30/06 print National Review) obligations it did not accept in ratifying the International Convention Against Torture: We did not accept the "cruel, inhuman or degrading" (CID) language in ratifying; now we do. The upshot: forget about aggressive interrogation as a tool for gathering intelligence.
UK Times Online: US 'Outsourced' Torture, Report Finds
Dennis Ross is now counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; he was the senior U.S. State Department official who did more to push the failed Oslo Mideast "peace process" than anyone, but then had his eyes opened by the suicide bombing frenzy unleashed by Arafat. In a USA Today 1/23 op-ed Ross says that after Sharon Israel's leadership will be politically unable to do more than unilateral moves if Hamas wins and Palestinian anarchy reigns. Ross proposes that the West prevent this by (a) refusing to support Hamas unless it renounces violence and disarms, (b) denying financial aid until reform is instituted and (c) the Palestinian Authority's corruption is reformed. Yo, Dennis, you forgot to add (d): until Abe Lincoln is reincarnated as a Palestinian.
Ross: The Danger of a Sharon Exit
Hillel Halkin writes in today's NY Sun that the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian electoral mess (elections are tomorrow) plus the strident "wipe Israel off the map" regime in Tehran may revive sympathy for Israel in Europe. He may be optimistic on this (I think so), but his op-ed merits a look.
Halkin: A Different Light Unto Nations
Newsday reporter Timothy Phelps published a thoughtful piece in a 2005 edition of the Columbia Journalism Review detailing his experience in the Wilson/Plame media-law demolition derby, plus what he knows of other reporters involved, including the key players. It is pro-press on the issue (I, as indicated yesterday in LFTC, am not), but it is very well-written, informative and well worth a read.
Phelps: My Plame Problem--and Yours
Robert E. Rubin is reputed to have made a grand contribution during the Clinton years by killing zillions of bad ideas floated during meetings with President Clinton; all Rubin had to say was that the proposed action would hurt the markets and Clinton would kill it. Such service merits repayment, however modest. So here is a Rubin op-ed from today's Wall Street Journal on what to do in economic policy. As the Democrat probably most respected on these issues, he deserves due process from us Republican types. Herewith his ideas.
Rubin: We Must Change Policy
7 posts: (1) Pakistan: Safe Haven for Terror Bigs?---MSM Murders; (2) American Households: Who's the Boss?--Cyber-Serendip; (3) Roe v. Wade at 33: Did the Public Change?--The Home Front; (4) "Emotional Truth": Son of "Fake But Accurate"--Class v. Crass; (5) Reportorial Privilege: Media Meltdown?--MSM Murders; (6) Tax Cut Math: Will Congress Pass?--The Home Front; (7) 38 Years Later: Explaining the "Pueblo" Capture--Us v. Them.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has told the US that the 1/13 airstrike against a Pakistani village must not be repeated. This creates a permanent safe haven for terror leaders against attacks by American air power, leaving liquidation or apprehension to Pakistani authorities of inconsistent reliability. This offers the latest graphic illustration of the political constraints that intense media coverage imposes on America's--but not al-Qai'da's--conduct of war operations.
LA Times: Pakistan: US Airstrike Cannot Be Repeated
Hey, guys, want a snazzy new home audio-visual system? Prices for media rooms range from $8,000 to $40,000. Turns out that 88 percent of consumer electronics systems are controlled by wives. Makes sense. Guys trip out on ritzy features, speaker power, high-end guy-gadgets--looking for the media equivalent of that GTO they drove back in college. (GTO is an Italian acronym for Gran Tourismo Olomogato--supreme grand touring car.) Alas, the distaff set focuses on such mundane considerations as whether the stuff will actually help them live their lives. One husband tried to put in the spousal bed chamber a TV system that required a computer-style "boot-up"; wifey nixed it, saying that nothing that has to "boot-up" will go in that room. Makes sense to me: My top-end sound system is not even electronic, let alone need I boot it up. It makes the sweetest sounds, and is called a Steinway.
WTimes: Does It Pass the Wife Check?
The February 2006 issue of AEI Political Report has astonishing data on how public attitudes have changed since the January 22, 1973 Supreme Court abortion-rights decision in Roe v. Wade. AEI presents Gallup poll data for April 1975 and May 2005. In April 1975, 21% of Americans wanted abortion always legal, 54% wanted it sometimes legal and 22% wanted it always illegal. Thirty years pass, and what does the public say? 23% want it always legal, 53% want it sometimes legal and 22% want it always illegal. In 1975, 3% didn't respond; in 2005 2% did not do so. So, in sum: Those wanting it always legal went up 2%, sometimes legal went down 1% and always illegal stood unchanged, with 1% more having, after 30 years, (finally) made up their mind. Put another way: In 30 years 1% of Americans moved from "sometimes legal" to "always legal" and another 1% moved from "no response" to "always legal." This is what we have to show for 38 post-Roe abortion rulings by the Supremes, plus countless acrimonious political campaigns with abortion a major issue, myriad attempts to amend the Constitution to prohibit abortion, endless wall-to-wall saturation coverage by mass media--national, regional, local, TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and, most recently, the Internet. Slim harvest, eh?
AEI Political Report (Feb. 2006): Abortion Attitudes
Dan Henninger's 1/20 Opinion Journal column catches up with a disturbing trend in "infotainment" news. Author James Frey's purportedly factual book turns out to be no more grounded in fact than the National Guard letter fantasy Dan Rather pushed during the 2004 campaign. Aired on Oprah, the claims were defended by the famed host even after revelations proving otherwise. She has embraced "emotional truth," the talk-show confessional equivalent of CBS's "fake but accurate." Henninger observes that "reality TV" is anything but, yet people seem to care less for hard facts than for personal experience--self-revelation and ultimate redemption. What "works" for each person becomes, to them at least, a higher truth. John Leo writes on Real Clear Politics that this has been going on for some 20 years.
"What's a fraud now--and what's something else--has become a question worth pondering. We live in a world of reality TV shows, of newspaper photographs and fashion photos routinely "improved" by the computer program Photoshop, of nightly news that pumps more emotion than fact into its version of public events such as Hurricane Katrina, hyper-real TV commercials manipulated with computers, the rise of "interpretive" news, fake singers, fake breasts, fake memoirs."
When my generation was coming of age during the 1960s people who had trouble distinguishing between reality and their personal perceptions were considered mentally disturbed--if not necessarily psychotic, at least neurotic. But adherence to facts as binding conflicts with the demands of the fragile egos of folks whose eyes are glued to talk-show infotainment. No wonder the public tolerated the collapse of educational standards for so long, and still tolerates the resistance educrats mount to putting real standards in place. Accountability is not cuddly.
The past quarter-century, since People magazine was introduced, has vaulted celebrity from a titillating sideshow to a national obsessional orgy of vicarious involvement. Our society is now Clinton-ized in its indifference to accountability, Oprah-ized in its obsession with therapeutic solutions and Diana-ized in its infatuation with celebrity. If one is not accountable in any meaningful sense, and one believes all is potentially treatable and if one sees oneself as part of the world of celebrity, one has it made, right? And the perfect vehicle for enactment of such fantasies is the unreal world of "reality TV."
Leo: Lying Isn't So Bad If It Makes You Feel Good
January 23, 2006 in Class & Crass: Culture Vultures; Vultures' Culture | Permalink | Comments (0)
The chutzpah of MSM is truly something to behold. On February 3 lawyers for ex-Cheney aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby plan to file a motion in federal district court before Judge Reggie Walton (a former top aide to William J. Bennett when the latter was drug czar), seeking subpoenas calling for reporters involved in the Wilson/Plame kerfuffle to testify in court and turn over their notes. It was those reporters, as the world knows (well, at least the Beltway world does), whose tireless efforts manufactured and kept in the public eye the pseudo-scandal about the "outing" of Wilson's desk-jockey CIA wife (ignoring Wilson's proven lies); and their broadsides stampeded the White House into the politically catastrophic decision to appoint Patrick Fitzgerald as special counsel. Fitzgerald subsequently decided that discrepancies between Libby's account and that of several reporters constituted evidence of perjury on Libby's part. Part of Fitzgerald's indictment was based upon Libby allegedly being first to disclose certain facts about Spy Gal Val. This exploded a few days after Fitzgerald indicted Libby, upon Watergate honcho Bob Woodward stepping forward after more than two years and admitting he had done so earlier.
Now, MSM folk are horrified that they may be compelled to provide the court with evidence that might prove crucial in deciding whether a fellow citizen is deprived of his personal liberty for several years by confinement within a penal institution. Such would, they argue, undermine their ability to obtain vital information via leaks from public officials, because without assurance that their actions would be kept confidential, informants would be less likely to inform reporters. Fair enough, and certainly to at least some extent true. But whether such leaks do more harm than good is a question most reporters seem to cavalierly disregard.
For example, do anonymous leaks that amount to officials warring in the press for political advantage inside the Beltway serve any cognizable broader public interest? Worse, do leaks of highly sensitive classified information about monitoring communications of terrorists serve the broader public interest? The latter case involves what reporters frequently term a "whistleblower," notwithstanding that the federal whistleblower statute covers disclosures of classified information to duly authorized recipients in Congress, not to reporters.
How serious is disclosure of classified information? Consider the sentence handed down last week by federal judge T.S. Ellis in Northern Virginia to a Pentagon employee. The defendant leaked information about Iran's nuclear program and sponsorship of insurgent attacks in Iraq to a pair of lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Judge Ellis imposed a 12-1/2 year sentence (the government sought 15-1/2 out of a maximum potential sentence of 25 years). He did so despite his acknowledgment in open court that the defendant had not intended to harm the United States, stating that intent is irrelevant under the statute, and that contravening the will of Congress regarding what information is classified is simply not permissible in a society governed by rule of law.
If we accept the sentence imposed by Judge Ellis, what kind of sentence might be given to someone who discloses a warrantless wiretap program that targets al-Qaida terrorists seeking to launch attacks on US soil, possibly including WMD? Such disclosure could easily impede future detection and monitoring of such activity. Recall that in 1998 disclosure that Osama bin Laden's cellphone was being monitored by US intelligence led OBL to ditch cell-calling. Nice work.
So what should remain of reportorial privilege, recognizing that 31 states have passed "shield" laws protecting such disclosures to a considerable extent? Begin with leaks damaging national security. Two Supreme Court cases come to mind: Near v. Minnesota (1939) and the Pentagon Papers case (1971). In the first case a scandal sheet in Minnesota won a ruling overturning a lower court's "prior restraint" ( a legal term meaning the granting by a court of an injunction barring publication of material). Such restraint, per Near, is heavily disfavored. However, dicta (law Latin for "saying"--it refers to language in a case that is not part of the formal legal holding, but suggestive of how a court may rule in other cases in the future) in Near indicated that the Court would look askance at publication of the sailing date of a troopship. The Nixon Administration attempted to apply the "troopship" analogy to publication by the New York Times of voluminous papers pertinent to largely historical information on how the US became involved in Vietnam, and how policymakers decided matters during its course. Such information had some national security value, but also provided information of value to informing public debate. In that case the Supremes held 6-3 in favor of the media, and declared prior restraint of publication a violation of the First Amendment press clause.
Basically, courts look at disclosures and assess if the information seems primarily politically embarrassing, or if it is a disclosure they deem truly damaging to national security. In the case of Spy Gal Val the information is marginally, if at all, damaging to national security: A CIA operative not under deep cover, and thus not a "covert agent" within the meaning of the relevant statute (the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982), can no longer work on her task of analyzing non-proliferation issues from behind her desk at Langley. But compare that to what we have now, regarding disclosure to the world of critical techniques in monitoring communications between suspected terrorist operatives. The former is primarily a matter of politics, the latter clearly a grave matter of national security.
In a minor footnote, a tabloid reporter was caught last week trying to sneak into Buckingham palace posing as an employee; she claims to have done to to check out "security" there. One suspects that doings of the royals was more likely her motive. In the event, Scotland Yard is on the case.
MSM, your long overdue day of reckoning may--finally--be near....
WPost: Libby's Team to Subpoena Media
WPost: Pentagon Analyst Given 12-1/2 Years in Secrets Case
AP: British Tabloid Reporter Arrested at Buckingham Palace
As Congress considers whether to extend the tax cuts 43 got passed three years ago, John Rutledge, an adviser to 43 on taxes and one of the architects of the wildly successful Reagan tax cuts of 1981, offers apt comment. He starts with this: America is not competing with China for jobs, but rather for access to capital. Double-taxation of dividend and capital gains income exports capital to China. Since 43 announced his 2003 tax cuts, the DJIA is up 32%, the S&P 500 large-cap is up 47%, mid-cap 79% and small-cap 81%. Between 12/31/02 & 9/30/05 U.S. equities increased $6 trillion (50%), from $11.9 to $17.9 trillion, while household net worth increased $12 trillion, from $39.1 to $51.1 trillion (31%)--$40,631 for every household in America. Equity gains were shared by 91 million Americans who own stock directly or via mutual funds, and among the over 80 million workers who own stock via their pension funds.
Rutledge explains further that tax cuts have two positive effects on asset prices: (1) in the near-term, recapitalizing the stock market; (2) in the longer term, restructuring corporate balance sheets. He calculates that the first effect--investors switching more money into stocks--had a positive impact on equity values of $560 billion (+6%) to $938 billion (+10%). As to the second effect Rutledge estimates that 90 percent comes after the first two years--if the tax cuts are made permanent instead of being periodically renewable. Stay tuned as to whether Congress extends the tax cuts and embraces economic growth.
Rutledge: Capital Offense
James Zumwalt has an op-ed today on the 38th anniversary of the North Korean seizure of the US spy ship Pueblo, whose crew was held 11 months. It was the first US ship seized since 1807. The answer as to why North Korea captured it has remained elusive. Zumwalt, based in part on interviewing a North Korean defector, offers a plausible explanation. In the prior year 14 North Korean pilots had been shot down over Vietnam by superior American pilots who employed modern air tactics versus their hidebound adversaries. To compensate for his humiliation, Kim Il-Sung retaliated by taking the Pueblo.
Zumwalt: Solving the Pueblo Mystery
9 posts: (1) The Ultimate Road Trip--Cyber-Serendip; (2) Osama's "Peace Process"--Us v. Them; (3) France Puts Its Best--Biggest--Foot Forward--Weenie Watch; (4) Afghan Attitudes: Accentuate the Positive--Us v. Them; (5) US Airstrike Agonistes: Collateral Costs--Us v. Them; (6) Is Iran's Second Revolution Coming From the Top?--Us v. Them; (7) Islam: Abandon All Hope?--MSM Murders; (8) A Plea for Angela Merkel--Weenie Watch; (9) Hillary's "Plantation" Ploy: Crazy Like a Fox?--The Home Front.
NASA launched its first probe to Pluto yesterday. The Atlas V rocket boosted the payload to a record 36,000 mph speed--10 miles per second. The earliest rendezvous date with Pluto is July 2015. Think of it this way: a spacecraft traveling 10 miles per second for about 9-1/2 years. With 31,536,000 seconds per year, 9-1/2 years works out to almost exactly 300 million seconds, which means that the journey will cover 3 billion miles. It is a good thing for NASA that the craft does not use gas--think of the transportation cost of gas at, say, $2 per gallon and 30 miles per gallon....
local6.com: NASA Launches First Mission to Pluto
So, Osama wants a peace process? For once, Howard ("I Have a Scream") Dean had the right answer. Yesterday Democratic National Committee Chairman Dean told Fox News:
"You don't negotiate with terrorists. These people have killed 3,000 Americans. There is no truce with al Qaeda, and there never will be. You can't trust them. I think we're doing exactly the right thing on the Pakistani border."
Dean thus implicitly also endorsed last week's airstrike aimed at al-Zawahiri. Well, Howard proved unable to resist saying that Iraq was a distraction from the Afghanistan/Pakistan theater. But two-thirds right beats completely wrong, so we will call it progress, of a sort.
Meanwhile, UPI editor Arnaud de Borchgrave provides lots of helpful background. The area where OBL hides is actually a region where the border between what is now Pakistan (a country that did not independently exist until 1947) and Afghanistan is no longer legally defined; the Durand line set by a British official in 1893 was limited to a century's duration, and thus expired in 1993. De Borchgrave also reports that OBL escaped Tora Bora with about 50 followers on Dec. 9, 2001, and that thousands of al-Qai'da fighters settled there and married local girls. (Yo, Condi, should marrying a tribal local gal be part of career advancement criteria for promoting Foreign Service officers?) No wonder intel is so hard to come by over there.
Iranian analyst Amir Taheri believes that there is a rift between the Osama and Zawahiri factions: Osama wants to target the US and Europe, while Zawahiri wants to target Muslim countries and build an Islamic Caliphate. Taheri's assessment merits a read--even if he also thinks that OBL himself is dead but offers no evidence to back his belief.
de Borchgrave: A Borderless Region Shelters Osama
Taheri: Osama's Tape Shows Rift
Yesterday French President Jacques Chirac warned terrorists that France reserved its nuclear option for use in retaliation for terror attacks. Said Jacques during a visit to a French nuclear sub base in Brittany, in what may be his (and France's) finest moment since 9/11:
"The leaders of states who would use terrorist means against us, as well as those who would envision using . . . weapons of mass destruction, must understand that they would lay themselves open to a firm and fitting response on our part. This response could be a conventional one. It could also be of a different kind."
Were 43 to have said this, the response, at home and abroad, would have been that the Toxic Texan should keep his cowboy craziness to himself. France would have led the international condemnation. Fine, let Jacques say it and get away with it. Would Cowboy 43 shrink from using nukes where the French would do so? Our enemies should have this on their minds. Oh, dig the photo of Chirac that accompanies the Washington Post story!
Chirac: Nuclear Response to Terrorism is Possible
Check out this heartening poll that shows Afghans overwhelmingly favoring US policy and the American presence in Afghanistan. Afghans seem to have taken Johnny Mercer's lyric to heart.
Poll: Afghans Support US
Foreign policy expert Daniel Byman writes in today's LA Times that last week's attempted take-out of Zawahiri, while defensible, is a more difficult task for the US than for Israel, for these reasons: (1) unlike Israel, we depend upon cooperation of many foreign countries--Germany, Malaysia and Morocco are examples Byman cites--who may decide to offer less help in the aftermath of a strike that inflicts collateral damage deemed politically unacceptable; (2) Israel has had an open debate on this tactic, whereas in the US such efforts have been secret and not widely discussed; (3) arrest is more feasible than in Israel's case.
Byman further argues that arrest is always preferable to the morally problematic tactic of assassination. For two reasons this is flawed. First, arrest and trial of a charismatic leader would, as LFTC has previously argued, lead to a trial much different than that of Adolf Eichmann, one possibly far less favorable to civilization. And second, we should not be shy about placing moral responsibility for collateral casualties on those who intentionally secrete themselves amidst innocents. Think of someone walking toward you, holding a child in one hand and shooting at you with a gun held in the other. Surely you then can shoot where no reasonable alternative course exists. Arrest, in the event, is hardly likely as to al-Qai'da leaders holed up in friendly tribal areas.
Byman: Targeted Killing, American Style
In his column today David Ignatius writes that Washington's Iran policy of caution coupled with cooperation with European countries is in significant part influenced by the analysis of a George Mason University professor, Jack A. Goldstone. The professor argues that Iran today, via the ascension of its new Hitlerian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is undergoing a "second revolution" akin to those experienced by the former Soviet Union in the 1930s under Stalin and China in the 1960s under Mao. Stalin used the massive purges in the 1930s to revive revolutionary fervor, as did Mao when in 1966 he launched his Cultural Revolution. Both attempts, according to this analysis, led eventually to internal schism: in Russia when Nikita Khrushchev instituted de-Stalinization in 1956 and in China when Deng Xiaoping instituted economic reform in 1979. Thus, Washington hopes this current phase in Iran leads to internal schism that triggers moderation of revolutionary impulse, and thus reform.
All fine and good if true. The trouble is, what if Iran goes nuclear before a reformist impulse emerges within the regime? In that event Iran might act on its jihadist paranoia before reform saves the day. Islamism, like Communism in its heyday, is a messianic doctrine for world revolution and human transformation. In Communism's case, this meant an inevitable triumph of world socialism through fundamental underlying historical forces, and transformation of mankind into socialist Man. In Islamism's case it means the inevitable triumph of Islam through the design of Allah, and transformation of mankind into votaries of Islam.
Also, reform from the top is not as good as reform from below, which in Iran's case may well be a democratic and pro-Western popular movement. In connection with this read Anne Applebaum's column (link below) and see the link to Iranian victims of regime brutality that she helpfully provided (as given below--at the home page you will see two links, with the lower one leading to the human rights stories--check it out).
Ignatius: Containing Tehran
Applebaum: A Web Witness to Iranian Brutality
Iranian Dissident Website
Washington Times columnist Diana West reports today that Pope Benedict XVI has said he believes Islam incapable of reform, because the Qu'ran is believed to be Allah's word, not Muhammad's, and thus cannot be altered. Yet few media outlets have touched this. It raises the ghastly prospect that we are indeed in a struggle with the world's 1.2 billion Muslims. It may be that Islamic clerics find a way to defend reform, but textual literalism will no doubt survive among extreme elements under any foreseeable scenario. Which suggests that Islamism may be a foe we face for centuries, not decades. Not a cheery prospect if the Pope's fears are justified.
West: Silence That Speaks Volumes
In an eloquent NY Sun op-ed today, Katherine Curtis Stethem, sister-in-law of Navy Seabee Robert Dean Stethem, the Navy diver murdered by Iranian terrorists during the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, addresses her dismay to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Mrs. Stethem asks that Angela not repeat her recent betrayal in releasing one of the terrorists who murdered her brother-in-law. It is a very well-written, poignant piece.
Stethem: Merkel At the White House
NY Post columnist John Podhoretz argues cogently that Hillary did not make a mistake with her remark accusing House Republicans of running a "plantation." Podhoretz sees this as an astute signal to African-Americans, the core constituency of Democratic presidential hopefuls. They continue, tragically and appallingly, to respond positively to baseless allegations that Republicans are racist. Stay tuned.
Podhoretz: No Mistake