March 14, 2003
THE CAPTAIN QUEEG ANALOGY:
obsession with Iraq seems nutty. It's loopy. It's crazy. It's
insane...Why is Bush conjuring up imaginary enemies far away
and allowing our ship of state to sail in meaningless circles?
Bush is looking more and more like Humphrey Bogart as Captain
Queeg in the Caine Mutiny. I'm half expecting to see a press
conference with Bush mindlessly rolling a pair of steel ball-bearings
in one trembling hand as he rambles on about how Saadam Hussein
has stolen Bush's quart of strawberries and is hiding them someplace.
be tempted to believe this is a quote from Paul Krugman's NY Times
column this morning. It's not. It's the
rantings of some vile, neo-nazi, white supremacist from late
about whether to post this at all, because we don't want people
to think that we're trying do a slime job on Krugman or trying
to insinuate he holds some of the abhorrent views as the guy quoted
above. The point we did want to make, however, is that when you
engage in the kind of blatant partisan hyperbole that Krugman
did this morning, you often find yourself in very shaky intellectual
the argument Krugman advanced today - and let's be sure to dispense
with the canard that Krugman doesn't hold these views but that
he was only quoting other people inside the government
and foreign policy arena who do. Krugman writes:
more people than you would think — including a fair number of
people in the Treasury Department, the State Department and,
yes, the Pentagon — don't just question the competence of Mr.
Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership
has lost touch with reality."(emphasis added)
This is truly
a remarkable statement. It goes well beyond stating policy disagreements
or citing reasons that argue Bush is misguided. Krugman would
have us believe that Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld, Tenet
- indeed anyone inside or outside of government who agrees with
the policy - are, in effect, delusional.
this notion, Krugman returns to quoting the Nelson Report:
minds wrestle with how to break into the mind of George Bush."
inference here is that Bush's mind is not "sober" -
in other words sane and rational - and furthermore that it is
closed off to such arguments. Again, this is way, way beyond a
policy disagreement or even the concept that reasonable minds
can disagree about the issue. Indeed, the whole point of Krugman's
article is not to discredit Bush's policy on the merits but to
discredit Bush himself by advancing the notion that he and the
other top officials in the administration are unreasonable and
"out of touch with reality." - T.
Bevan 11:26 am
It is hilarious how the stature of being a professor at an Ivy
League institution or really any institution of "higher learning"
leads some academic elites to believe they can get away with saying
or writing anything. I mean the average Joe would think that Paul
Krugman, who is a former Professor at MIT and a current Professor
of Economics at Princeton University, would have intelligent,
cogent and honest points to offer in a column in the nation's
is not to demean all professors or institutions of higher learning.
I actually have a great degree of respect for the pursuit of knowledge
at all levels. As a graduate of Princeton University with a degree
in Economics and Politics I have first hand experience with brilliant
professors and also first hand experiences with professors who
are, quite frankly, morons.
None of this
is really news to people who are familiar with the liberal arts
institutions in this country. They all have a certain number of
professors (98% of which are on the political left) who are intellectual
quacks. These people let their hatred of either America, capitalism,
white men, the U.S. Military, conservatives (you get the picture)
cloud their ability to fairly discuss the truth when it comes
to their respective fields.
Now, I have
to be honest. As someone who reads 20-30 columns a day on average,
I rarely waste my time any more on Maureen Dowd or Paul Krugman.
Dowd invariably leaves me speechless and stuttering after most
of her columns. I'm always left with the same question: "How
can this crap run twice a week in the nation's largest paper?"
on the other hand, with the veneer of his Princeton Professorship,
tries to pass himself off as a serious player in the policy debates
of the nation. And when he dials down his hatred of George W.
Bush, mutes his anti-capitalist instincts and sticks to economic
subjects he actually can produce some thought-provoking
the good work appears once every eight to ten columns and over
75% of the time we are left with deliberately misleading pieces
filled with distortions and half-truths designed to push his ideological
agenda. Which, of course, is why the people who run The
New York Times keep Dowd and Krugman on board.
On the eve
of war, when we have over 200,000 young men and women about to
go into battle and risk their lives for our freedom; Krugman
uses his national platform to suggest the Commander in Chief
"has lost touch with reality." This is reckless. This
is wrong. And this is a LIE.
the political debate on the wisdom of the war in the Congress
and with the American
people, Krugman suggests the President who is about to order
our troops in to battle may be insane, a modern day Captain Queeg.
Absolutely despicable. It makes me sick to my stomach.
with the wisdom of the war is fine. That is what a free democracy
is all about. But after having lost that debate I would hope that
all Americans would rally behind our President and our troops
and pray for their well being and safety. Instead Paul Krugman
puts the word out that the Commander in Chief just may be crazy.
It is a disgrace. J.
McIntyre 7:45 am
March 13 2003
DON'T BE SO NAIVE - PART I:
Safire's column today sheds some light on just one tiny part
of the behind-the-scenes machinations driving the "antiwar"
bloc in the UN Security Council. The French hide behind the morally
righteous slogan that "war is always a failure" but
perhaps we should take a moment to recognize that the true failure
here - that is, the failure of the United Nations to muster the
courage to enforce its own resolutions - is due in large part
to nations like France, Syria, et al. illegally circumventing
economic sanctions on Iraq thereby undermining the U.N.'s authority.
As Safire says, "the truth, however, will out" and it
won't be pretty when it does.
BE SO NAIVE - PART II: The thinking in this
NYT editorial epitomizes what's wrong with the UN and why
diplomatic efforts in the Security Council will ultimately fail.
The Times writes that the U.S. should not only back the compromise
Blair is desperately seeking in the Security Council but should
also agree to 1) extend a deadline for compliance to the six benchmarks
proposed by the U.K. and 2) not be allowed to make an independent
judgment of whether Iraq is in full compliance.
New York Times is proposing is just a rerun of the same bad movie
we've already watched: the day before any given deadline Saddam
will offer some half-gesture - like going on Iraqi television
and denouncing WMD's but not admitting that he possesses them
and has hid them from the world - and the French and the Syrians
will rush to his defense saying Saddam has complied. And we'll
be right back to where we are now in the Security Council, except
three or six months will have passed while our troops are standing
idle in the desert.
just how unserious (or hopelessly naive) The Times' editorial
board is follows:
ultimate goal should not be a symbolic Security Council majority
of nine, but passage of a resolution without a disabling veto.
clear: avoiding a "disabling veto" means capitulating
to the French. It means more inspectors, no deadlines, and more
endless semantic discussions over the level of Iraqi compliance.
A majority vote would indeed be symbolic, but let's face it: symbolism
- not action or moral authority - is just about all the UN has
left to offer at this point.
BE SO NAIVE - PART III: I guess it's NY Times day here at
RCP. I can't resist posting this
David Firestone profile of new Senate Majority Leader Frist.
It is peppered with a distinctly liberal "how-we-long-for-the-good-'ol-days-of-Trent-Lott"
theme, including this little riff:
some Republicans criticize Dr. Frist, 51, for not being more
attentive to keeping the Senate running, he has delighted conservative
leaders by digging in on many of the same ideologically polarized
issues favored by the White House. Many conservatives had become
disenchanted with the deal-brokering practiced by Mr. Lott and
other past Republican leaders, including Mr. Dole and Mr. Baker."
leaves the impression that Frist is a darling of conservatives
and is generating concern among moderates. But if you read the
article carefully, Firestone doesn't produce one unflattering
comment to substantiate this idea. In fact, he does the exact
opposite, explaining away the praise of moderates as a "honeymoon."
premise of Firestone's piece rests on the gripes of Senator Lott,
and it looks to me as if Firestone decided well ahead of time
what the storyline was going to be. You know, sort of a liberal
journalistic version of the Field of Dreams: if you build it,
they will come. - T.
March 12 2003
WE'RE PAST THE TIPPING POINT: It's a matter of simple
physics that the longer you stand on a highwire the greater chance
you have of falling. As we linger on the diplomatic highwire now
(and perhaps for a few more days), it's becoming more and more
clear that the UN's failure to unify and to enforce its resolutions
will cost American lives.
In the short-term,
Saddam will have more time to prepare for battle: to stockpile
weapons; to dig trenches and fortify military targets; and to
booby-trap oil fields, bridges and roads. In
the long-run, France's intransigence in the Security Council may
cost America lives as well. Instead of uniting to deliver the
message that the UN would enforce its resolutions by force (if
necessary) and that it would not tolerate WMD proliferation and
threats - or even potential threats - to world security, the Security
Council is sending the exact opposite messages to tyrants and
to terrorists. As a result, the coming U.S. invasion has a higher
likelihood of being resented around the world - especially in
Arab countries- and could end up producing more future terrorists
than it otherwise would have.
have to be this way. The world community could have struck a blow
against tyrants, against the production and possession of WMD's,
and against terrorism. In the end, however, it was wishful thinking
to believe that a body that embraces and places in positions of
esteem some of the most wretched regimes on earth would stand
for any principle other than individual self-interest.
and the U.K. may still scrape together a compromise that will
win a majority of Security Council votes (as well as a French
veto), but any chance for the UNSC to make a unified, authoritative
statement is long since gone.
We are past
the tipping point. Diplomacy has failed and further delay is suicide.
The only thing that matters now is winning the war, and winning
not remember the farce at the UN that preceded the war: the droning
reports of Dr. Blix and Dr. ElBaradei; the pompous pronouncements
of deVillipin, Fischer, Ivanov, et al..; or the U.S.'s ridiculously
furious courting of the tiny African nation of Guinea for permission
to protect America's national security.
In my mind,
history will judge the invasion of Iraq by only two measures:
how much we find and how much it costs to find it. If we uncover
huge stockpiles of horrible weapons and incur few military and
civilian casualties, the invasion will be recognized by history
as a success of the highest order. If the outcome is the reverse,
history's judgment will be significantly less kind.
Iraqi people from Saddam's rule will almost certainly be seen
by history to be a moral and just cause, which it is, but I've
never been one to pretend that the liberation of Iraq is anything
other than a beneficial byproduct of the pursuit of U.S. national
security. It buttresses the case for action, but it's not the
the rebuilding of Iraq will also represent a critical period and
a historic opportunity for the U.S. and coalition forces. It will
be a chance not only help shape the future of the Middle East,
but also for the U.S. to directly demonstrate compassion and to
mend fences with valuable allies. A huge and daunting task, to
be sure, but one that is only made tougher by waiting. - T.
Bevan 7:07 am
March 11 2003
US, UK, France And The UN: Interesting email received earlier
the blog from this morning, I think you missed the British and
American strategy slightly. The nine votes are key. If France
and Russia abstain it would be great, but a resolution with
nine votes that fails only because of a French veto gives Blair
the cover he needs and Bush some cover he doesn't need but would
still be helpful. It is all a matter of switching the argument
from "the world is against this" to "France is against this."
The Labor backbenchers should see the folly of siding with the
French against their own government. Wise Democrats (increasingly,
sadly, a contradiction in terms) should see something similar,
but they are out of power and thus have a natural instinct to
oppose the policies of the party in power. At some level, Labor
knows they were out of power for almost 20 years until Blair
brought them in from the cold and moderated the party enough
to be palatable to the British voters for two elections, and
quite conceivably a third. The French and the Russians understand
the calculus involved, too. Once the resolution gets to nine
votes, they are faced with being on the wrong end of a 9-3 vote
(Syria being the third). This could conceivably peel the Russians
off with some face saving concession, which would leave only
the French. I get the sense that Chirac is either crazy with
the idea of French power, or is hiding French complicity in
violating the sanctions (why is the Weekly Standard the only
media outlet running the picture of Saddam and Chirac together
in a French nuclear facility in the 70s?) France may offer its
vote in exchange for a delay that is unpalatable to the U.S.
military, and then the final vote will wind up being 9-2. Bush
and Blair will claim international support, the pretense of
the importance of the Security Counsel will end, and the war
will go forward.
of that pretense will be a sad event. In the end, this resolution
is not about preventing this war because this war is going to
happen. It is about preventing the next one. When the Russians
or the Chinese want to invade one of their troublesome neighbors,
they will have an excuse not to go to the Security Counsel.
That the Americans were acting under the auspices of several
other resolutions will be forgotten; that we acted despite the
failure of this resolution will be remembered. And when that
next war happens, the fault will lie with the French, not the
Friedman - Decatur, GA
IRAQ AND THE UN: President Bush had put the U.S. in a win-win
position with his press
conference on Thursday where he made it clear the diplomatic
circus at the UN would come to an end this week with an up or
down vote on Saddam's regime:
want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about
Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security
Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their
cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes
scenario depended on two key factors: 1) Bush stuck to his guns
and demanded a vote; and 2) Blair didn't crack from the insane
political pressure he is under at home.
is to be an up or down vote today or tomorrow at the UN, the U.S.
and Bush can't lose. If the resolution wins nine or ten votes
and manages to avoid French and Russian vetoes it will, rightly,
be proclaimed as an enormous diplomatic accomplishment. And with
nominal UN approval the carping on the left of "war -only
with UN approval" should come to an end.
If the resolution
fails or is vetoed, it will be just as well because it will expose
the farce that is the United Nations. Either way we will achieve
closure to the Hans Blix "is he disarming" joke of the
last six weeks.
has bothered to listen to President
Bush since September 11 knows full well we ARE going to war
in Iraq, unless Saddam is fully and 100% disarmed or he is removed
from power - exiled, killed, imprisoned, etc....
are going to war (barring a last minute total capitulation by
Saddam), it is critically important to just get it done. Which
is why it was so important for Bush to state unambiguously at
Thursday's press conference that there would be an up or down
vote this week.
it looks like Blair is beginning to show signs of cracking
under the pressure. What we don't know is just how strong
alliance is between Bush and Blair. Tony Blair has been a true
hero up until now, but while President Bush is probably perfectly
comfortable waging war without an 18th resolution from the UN,
Tony Blair genuinely wants and needs the imprimatur of the United
Nations. At the end of the day it is in Britain's best interest
to maintain the legitimacy of the UN as an institution. As the
leader of the Labour Party in the UK, I'm sure Blair truly believes
in working within the framework of the UN.
were to have a public spilt with Bush or if his government were
to fall it would be a disaster for President Bush and the U.S.
So it is very understandable that the White House is willing to
go to great lengths to keep the Brits on board. But at some point
- and some point soon - the Chinese water torture at the UN has
got to come to an end.
tweaking of the language maybe and perhaps an extension of the
deadline by a week or two is fine. It is not preferable, but if
it keeps Blair on board, OK. Either way, there needs to be a vote
very shortly that provides a clear and unmistakable deadline for
war unless Saddam complies and it needs to be very clear there
will be no further reporting back to the Security Council and
no further votes. This vote is it.
situation has the ability to spin completely out of control, which
is why it is so critically important to obtain closure. There
needs to a FINAL vote. If we win, great. We have a deadline and
either Saddam complies or there is war. If we lose, fine. We go
this weekend. Delay is our enemy and we are already at war. J.
McIntyre 7:04 am
March 10 2003
BUSH AND FAITH: There has been a lot of ink spilled recently
over the role of faith in George W. Bush's life and presidency
- some of it good and some of it bad. I thought Howard Fineman's
weeks ago did a fair job of exploring and explaining Bush's
faith, even though you could still sense an underlying secular
condescention in the timing and imagery of the Newsweek profile.
nasty piece of work by Les Payne in Newsday, however, strikes
a very different note. I don't know that I've ever read a column
more derisive not only of the President's intelligence but of
his personal beliefs. If you're a Christian and you like Bush,
prepare to be offended:
problem with middle-aged drunks turned Christian is that they
can't sleep without yakking about Jesus, and they won't let
anyone else sleep, either. Instead of embracing their religion
as a private matter, they flaunt it as a mission to convert.
They can become a terrible nuisance, especially to those born
into the religion.
drunk-gone-zealot may be reassuring to the troubled family.
But it is not altogether reassuring to a modern world facing
such a fanatic on the trigger of weapons of mass destruction
that are capable of destroying the Earth several times over.
of the column is equally vile.
Joe Lieberman doesn't get elected President, who knows what Payne
would write about a devout Orthodox Jew in the White House.
probably wouldn't write something similarly critical about Lieberman's
religious beliefs for two reasons: first, he would most likely
agree with Lieberman's policies and therefore wouldn't need to
attack him personally and, second, using the same sort of derisive
language about Lieberman would almost certainly cause the ADL
and others to charge Payne with being an anti-Semite. As we can
see from Payne's column, however, these same rules don't apply
to conservatives or to Christians.
A WEEK MAKES: Though largely irrelevant to the final outcome
of going to war, the drama at the UN has been an incredible rollercoaster
ride. Last week the U.S. and Britain seemed to be losing the battle
and were nowhere near getting nine Security Council votes for
a new (a.k.a. 18th) resolution on Iraq.
Look at the
news today: The London Times reported over the weekend that Hans
a "smoking gun" in his 167-page report, we now have
of Iraqi missiles altered for chemical/biological warfare
election yesterday seemingly cleared the way for U.S. troops,
Powell is optimistic about winning the vote.
In the short
span of a week, France now finds itself on much shakier ground.
After having aggressively led the antiwar forces inside the Security
Council over the past three months, France could now find itself
in the embarrassing position of either 1) abstaining on the new
resolution or 2) vetoing a resolution that is supported by a majority
of Council members and then having their veto ignored by the U.S.
There is still a lot of game left to play at the UN and the outcome
is far from certain, but should things continue to swing against
the French and they find themselves in a no-win debacle on the
center of the world stage all I can say is: it couldn't have happened
to a nicer country.
On March 20 John and I will be part of a panel discussing "Conservatism
and the New Media." So if you live in Chicago and are interested
in attending, click here
for info. Kathryn Jean-Lopez and Tom Roeser will also be attending,
so it should be a great discussion. - T.
Bevan 8:00 am