Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Things are going to be quiet around here

I will be off line for a while as I have some personal matters that will preclude me from regular posting. I hope to be back in a week or two. Please come back then!

Monday, February 14, 2005

The Secrets of Rennes-le-Chateau

Massimo Polidoro delves into the "history" behind Dan Browne's Da Vinci Code and (surprise!) finds a scam.

Barnett on Barnett (No relation)

Dean Barnett reminds that much of President Bush's foreign policy seems similar to that proposed by Thomas P.M. Barnett in his book The Pentagon's New Map. I'd recommend the book, having read it myself. On the particular point of restructuring the military, Thomas Barnett believes that we should have a sort of "fighting" force (he terms this the Leviathan) and an occupation force (he terms this System Administration). Thomas Barnett also believes that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is the right man to effect these changes.
Rumsfeld is moving the pile: he wants Special Ops Command to focus on killing terrorists (and he wants them to have their own dedicated intell units); he wants Civil Affairs out of SOCOM and back in the Army, which should focus a whole lot more on post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction (something it is loathe to do); he wants the Army and Marines to do more mil-mil training, again freeing up SOCOM's trigger-pullers to focus on killing terrorists; and he want a general shift away from planning for conventional wars to a more balanced approach that highlights the need to be able to handle post-war foes like insurgencies.

This is why Rumsfeld needs to stay. He basically "gets" the challenge and the need for change, and he'll push the uniformed services to get it done.

Kyoto is Falling Before is Gets Up

Hans H.J. Labohm writes that the Kyoto protocol's "walls are crumbling down." Britain's Tony Blair is doing all he can to prevent this. Labohm tells us why
Tony Blair is tough on security and the economy. His stance on Iraq and the recently announced measures to reform the British disability pension scheme are cases in point. With the latter he tries to impose a sound dose of additional work ethic on his flock. On the other hand he has to preserve his leftish credentials in order to please the left wing of his Party. Kyoto, the darling of the Left, offers him a golden opportunity to do so. So he has to posture as a fierce defender of this messianic project. When it fails, he can clearly show that he has done his utmost to succeed, but he had to yield to strong opposing forces, on which he can put the blame. Of course, Europe's favourite candidates for this role include the Americans and/or President Bush. Subsequently, Blair may leave the battle unscathed and have his way.

But of course, it is preposterous, yes even malicious to speculate that this kind of premeditation is part of Blair's calculations. Therefore, the reader should erase it immediately from his memory.
OK, zzzzzziiiiiiiippppppp. Erased. ;)

Friday, February 11, 2005

Of God and the Constitution

In a February 3, 2005 column entitled "Our Godless Constitution" posted on The Nation's web site, Brooke Allen puts forth the case (which has been done often enough) of how the most of the Founders were not religious and that they intentionally left out references to God in the official documents that they wrote. As I said, this is well-covered ground and is not the focus of what follows. Instead, my antenna went up when, as part of her argument, Allen made much of a single treaty of the many that the United States signed with the Barbary powers.
In 1797 our government concluded a "Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, or Barbary," now known simply as the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 of the treaty contains these words:

"As the Government of the United States...is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion--as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Musselmen--and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." [ed. I'm not sure why Allen put in the elipses as this appears to be the original text according to the link provided]

This document was endorsed by Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and President John Adams. It was then sent to the Senate for ratification; the vote was unanimous. It is worth pointing out that although this was the 339th time a recorded vote had been required by the Senate, it was only the third unanimous vote in the Senate's history. There is no record of debate or dissent. The text of the treaty was printed in full in the Philadelphia Gazette and in two New York papers, but there were no screams of outrage, as one might expect today.
While it seems Allen got her facts straight, she ignored the historical context in which the treaty ratification occurred. It is entirely plausible that the disassociation from the Christian religion was made to assuage the "Musselmen" who definitely held the power in the negotiation and didn't themselves refrain from alluding to God in this instance or others.

They U.S. had no Navy to speak of to protect their merchant ships in either the Atlantic or the Mediterranean and relied on the Navies of other nations --Britain, France, Portugal-- (though some of these paid regular tribute) to keep the pirates in check. Additionally, the Barbary Pirates didn't agree to peace out of some high-minded idealism. Instead, by taking hostages and attacking U.S. merchant ships, they brought the U.S. to the bargaining table and extracted more material concessions:
twelve thousand Spanish dollars
five hawsers-8 Inch
three cables-10 Inch
twenty five barrels tar
twenty five d° pitch
ten d° rosin
five hundred pine boards
five hundred oak d°
ten masts (without any measure mentioned, suppose for vessels from 2 to 300 ton)
twelve yards
fifty bolts canvas
four anchors
Thus, the exclusion of a claim that Christianity was a founding principle of the U.S. in the text of the treaty can equally be viewed as a diplomatic maneuver and not necessarily as proof that the U.S. believed itself to be irreligious. Similarly, no mention was made of God in the 1789 Treaty with the Six Nations, the Chickasaw Treaty of 1805, or the Treaty with the Potawatami of 1828 (this last occurring during the Second Great Awakening), just to offer a few examples. Couldn't this be because one of the parties, the Native American tribes, didn't believe in a Christian God?

Another example can be offered with the opening of The Paris Peace Treaty of September 3, 1783
In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity.

It having pleased the Divine Providence to dispose the hearts of the most serene and most potent Prince George the Third, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, defender of the faith, duke of Brunswick and Lunebourg, arch-treasurer and prince elector of the Holy Roman Empire etc., and of the United States of America, to forget all past misunderstandings and differences that have unhappily interrupted the good correspondence and friendship which they mutually wish to restore, and to establish such a beneficial and satisfactory intercourse , between the two countries upon the ground of reciprocal advantages and mutual convenience as may promote and secure to both perpetual peace and harmony. . .
Does this prove that Americans in 1783 viewed themselves as religious people, even Catholic(!!!???) because of the reference to the "Trinity"? Or does it prove that Americans agreed to a Treaty that opened with references to God and the Holy Trinity because France (a Catholic Nation, after all) was involved in the peace negotiations and probably drew up the document?

Ms. Allen is not conspicuous in her attempt to support her rhetoric with "historical proof." I've done it too. However, one of the standards to which we historians should aspire is to provide context --when we can and in whatever forum-- so that a more complete picture --a painting on a wider canvas, if you will-- can be revealed behind the rhetorical snapshot.

ADDENDUM: I happen to be doing research in the historical era of the Wars against the Barbary Pirates and stumbled upon this essay (originally published on 11 April 1997; updated 26 December 2004) in which much is made of the Treaty with Tripoli. Accorcding to the author, Jim Walker, Article 11 of the treaty also "proved" to him that the U.S. Government, as evidenced on an official document, proclaimed it was not a Christian nation. Walker does provide some additional detail concerning the American Agent, Joel Barlow, who drew up the treaty:
The preliminary treaty began with a signing on 4 November, 1796 (the end of George Washington's last term as president). Joel Barlow, the American diplomat served as counsel to Algiers and held responsibility for the treaty negotiations. Barlow had once served under Washington as a chaplain in the revolutionary army. He became good friends with Paine, Jefferson, and read Enlightenment literature. Later he abandoned Christian orthodoxy for rationalism and became an advocate of secular government. Joel Barlow wrote the original English version of the treaty, including Amendment 11. Barlow forwarded the treaty to U.S. legislators for approval in 1797. Timothy Pickering, the secretary of state, endorsed it and John Adams concurred (now during his presidency), sending the document on to the Senate. The Senate approved the treaty on June 7, 1797, and officially ratified by the Senate with John Adams signature on 10 June, 1797. All during this multi-review process, the wording of Article 11 never raised the slightest concern. The treaty even became public through its publication in The Philadelphia Gazette on 17 June 1797.
Two points: First, the site from which this essay was linked is called NoBeliefs.com. It claims to be a site for "Freethinkers" but really appears to be anti-religious (if articles titled "The Dark Bible" and "Hitler's Christianity" are any indication). Thus, I believe we have the original source for Ms. Allen's information, or at the very least we have another outlet that just happens to have alluded to the same relatively obscure treaty to make an, um, talking point.

The second point is that, even if Walker has his facts right (I don't have the time to dig deeper myself), and even if Barlow was an atheist and he was being an "atheistic activist" in drawing up the treaty (to which I would agree, assuming Walker's facts concerning Barlow's atheism are correct), Walker doesn't seem to take into account the diplomatic circumstances surrounding the Treaty signing as I've already mentioned. He also fails to consider the logistics of treaty making in the late 18th Century. If the Congress disliked the wording of the 11th clause, and they decided to strike it, the Treaty would have to be returned for reconsideration to Tripoli. Meanwhile, more U.S. ships, such as those owned by prolific and important Massuchusetts merchants for whom John Adams ostensibly served, would have continued to be vulnerable to raids. In other words, I would venture that there was a degree of expediency surrounding the signing and that a feeling of "Let's get the damn thing signed" permeated Congress. As for the point regarding it being published in the papers with nary a protest, well, when was the last time you read the entire text of a treaty? I'd bet the average Philadelphian saw the headline, said "good, it's about time" and read on. (I also believe that there was an epidemic of Yellow Fever raging in Philadelphia, and possibly New York, at that time). This selective use of History is improper. I'm glad I caught it.

A Worthy Battlestar

Ken Silber offers a good review of SciFi's Battlestar Galactica series. As a kid I loved the original, hokey 1970's version. As an adult, I like the updated version. Besides, what else is there to do on a Friday at 10 pm? (At least for a mid-30's married w/children guy like me?)

Fashionable anti-Americanism

Dominic Hilton writes that anti-Americanism isn't as bad as we think. Rather, it's more of an "industry" driven "fashion statement."
The industry of anti-American sentiment is just that – an industry. It should not be mistaken for legitimate and considered concern. “I hate America” is the world’s default position. Knocking America is a form of displacement. It helps non-Americans avoid focusing on their own big problems. In fact, strip it of its lacy hosiery and the world’s relationship with America is disgustingly Freudian.
Further along, he cites Jean Francois Revel and others
“The illogicality at base consists in reproaching the United States for some shortcoming, and then for its opposite,” writes Jean-Francois Revel in his aptly-titled Anti-Americanism. “Here is a convincing sign that we are in the presence, not of rational analysis, but of obsession.”

. . . Anti-Americanism, when not perpetrated by true haters, is often a stale mockery of America, born of our own fascination. This is our (the world’s) problem, not America’s. Jean-Francois Revel suggests that we “project our faults onto America so as to absolve ourselves”. As he says of his native France, and Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin say of the last four hundred years, some of this “Hating America” is born of fear, some of plain old weakness, some of outright jealousy. The left, in particular, is green with envy. 20th-century Communism only served to augment belief in the American Dream. “The success of America was thus a devastating blow to the Left,” writes Michael Ledeen. “It wasn’t supposed to happen. And American success was particularly galling because it came at the expense of Europe itself, and of the embodiment of the Left’s most utopian dream: the Soviet Union.”

But some leftists are getting tired of it. The narrative of left-wing anti-Americanism “has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian,” says John Lloyd. Such stasis serves nobody except the tyrants, the terrorists, and the unoriginal, knee-jerk loudmouths who cash in on the fashionability of the flaming Spangled Banner (categorised by Barry Rubin as “self-interest”).
To me, Hilton provides the best insight when talking of America's ideals as opposed to its "materialism" (or actions)
America is going to say and think big things about itself. Look at its history, and then understand that the United States is a nation, and acts as such – in its own interests and with a powerful identity. In his response to Bush’s second inaugural, the American commentator David Brooks identified “this weird intermingling of high ideals with gross materialism” which so defines his country. In the spirit of Washington and Kennedy, the president waxed lyrical on mankind’s highest ideals. Later that evening, “drunken, loud and privileged twentysomethings” carried each other piggyback down K Street.

“The people who detest America take a look at this odd conjunction and assume the materialistic America is the real America; the ideals are a sham,” Brooks wrote. “The real America, they insist, is the money-grubbing, resource-wasting, TV-drenched, unreflective bimbo of the earth. The high-toned language, the anti-Americans say, is just a cover for the quest for oil, or the desire for riches, dominion and war. But of course they’ve got it exactly backward. It’s the ideals that are real.”

The ideals are real. Not because they are America’s, but because they are ideals and they are the right ideals. Those who don’t revel in extremism, dictatorship and political stagnation have to decide whose camp they want to be in. Does Europe really feel more allied to communist China than conservative America? The European Union and China share “a convergence of views about the United States, its foreign policy and its global behaviour,” says David Shambaugh of George Washington University. This should send a shudder down the spine of democrats. Who truly wants to believe the late Susan Sontag and her assertion that America is “a doomed country … founded on a genocide”? Get over yourself. I’m sticking with my stateside compadre John Hulsman, who believes

“there is little doubt we have all benefited from the ‘naïve’ optimism that has enabled America to do amazing things not just for itself, but also for all mankind.”
Hilton's conclusion draws on John F. Kennedy
America is not the panacea, nor is it the devil. Our problems are generally our problems. The world would do well to be a little more like America, a tad more insular, self-involved.

Non-Americans love to quote John Kennedy’s famous call, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Why? It is the second part of Kennedy’s couplet we should heed and let roll off our tongues: “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” This still stands. And freedom, like charity, discipline and intelligence, begins at home.

Howard Dean: DNC Chair

In an opinion piece regarding the selection of Howard Dean as Democrat National Committee Chair (published in today's ProJo), Jonathan Chait, editor at The New Republic, offers this pithy statement: "As the last election showed, the core constituencies are plenty well fed. There just aren't enough of them to win the White House." As such, Chait believes Dean will appeal to the liberal base but will be unable to broaden the base of the party. James Pinkerton isn't so sure.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

US and Europe, Closer Together

James K. Glassman disputes the assertion recently made by NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman that the U.S. and Europe are as far apart as ever. Rather, Glassman believes we are coming closer together, but not because of any change in U.S. policy. Here are five of his reasons:
  • First, Europeans are realists. They have finally come to understand that, with his re-election, Bush is here to stay. He's not changing his mind about the Kyoto Protocol or the International Criminal Court. John Kerry won't ride to the rescue.

  • Second, the elections in Iraq have had a profound effect. Le Monde, the left-leaning newspaper of France's intelligentsia, headlined Tuesday: 'Franco-American Rapprochement After Iraq Elections.' My dictionary says a rapprochement is 'an agreement between two opposing groups.'

  • Friedman wrote his piece on Jan. 27, before the vote, but it's a different Europe today. No, the French and Germans aren't sending troops to Iraq just now, but they are getting actively involved in security and reconstruction. The election gives them a rationale: It's the Iraqis who seek their assistance, not the Americans. Of course, the effect is the same. Europe now sees the same path to success in Iraq as we do.

  • Third, the president has formulated his foreign policy with more clarity, especially in his inaugural speech. It's a combination of principle and prudence, which, rather than being a destabilizing break with the past, is actually a continuation of American tradition.

  • Woodrow Wilson wanted to make the world safe for democracy. Bush wants democracy to make the world safe.

  • This clearer, more powerful formulation of policy would have been welcome before the Iraq war (instead, the United States emphasized legalisms in an effort to get U.N. approval), but it's better late than never, and it is being treated with respect among Europeans who previously saw U.S. policy as simply naive and cynical.

  • Fourth, the new secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is seen, unlike her predecessor, as speaking for the president. While the message she's bringing Europe in her visit this week is a continuation of policy she helped set in the first term, her tone is friendly. The very fact that she and the president are focusing so much attention on Europe in the first few weeks of the new term (in the first term it was Mexico) is viewed as a significant change.

  • Fifth, the European Union itself is different, with the accession last year of 10 new countries, mainly from Eastern Europe. Members of the European parliament from such countries recognize the role the United States played in freeing them from Soviet domination. Ronald Reagan is their hero.



  • Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    Harris Urges U.S. to Keep Allawi at the Helm

    Lee Harris offers this sobering assessment of the election results in Iraq:
    The ultimate tragedy in Iraq may well be that the nation actually had a chance for a decent future -- a chance that the Bush administration had given the Iraqi people through its deft backing of a truly national leader like Allawi, yet a chance which the same administration may well have fecklessly thrown away through its ideological fixation on formal democracy as a panacea for all that ails the Middle East. In the past, democracies have not only voted good men out of office, in order to put terrible men into their place, but democracies have, at times, even voted themselves out of existence. The French did this when they elected Louis Napoleon emperor, the Italians did this when they made Mussolini the Duce, the Germans did it when they made Hitler the F?hrer. The once supposedly democratic revolution in Iran ended in a Shi'ite theocracy; and it could happen once again in Iraq.

    The Austrian philosopher, Karl Popper, the champion of the open society, warned of what he called the paradox of democracy. If the people wish to vote themselves out of power, what is to stop them -- except a minority determined to protect the rights of a majority who is no longer interested in defending such rights themselves?

    By this paradox, it may well have been that the best policy to pursue in Iraq would have been to back Allawi to the hilt, come hell and high water. True, those who hate us would have called us imperialists; but they us call that anyway, even after the elections that we held in order to prove that we are not. The Bush administration, by hoping to appear admirable in the eyes of its enemies, may well have ended by betraying its best friends -- Allawi and those who shared his views of Iraq as an open and liberal society.

    Economics in Six Minutes

    If your are one of the "Economic Unwashed", Fred E. Foldvary offers a lesson in Economics in Six Minutes. It's well worth the read because it introduces (or reintroduces) many economic terms and principles. Don't swallow it whole, however: just use it as a jumping off point. (via Political Theory Daily Review)

    FDR Believed in Social Security Privatization

    Duane D. Freese uncovered an interesting quote from Franklin Roosevelt concerning his vision of Social Security.
    In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, noncontributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities that in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans. [Franklin Roosevelt, Message to Congress on Social Security on Jan. 17, 1935]
    In short, FDR believed privatization of a portion of Social Security was the proper course to follow.

    A European's View of Europe's Anti-American Ideology

    Nelson Ascher encapsulates the manner by which the most recent spate of anti-Americanism among Europeans has reached a crescendo. He traces it back to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
    [I]n the late 80s and early 90s, Western Europe was at the top of its economic and social performance. Western Europeans were then almost as affluent as the Americans and, so, some could console themselves with the appearance that the whole thing wasn’t basically an American victory, but rather a Western one - and that Europe would anyway soon eclipse the USA.

    For Western Europe however, the next 15 years were a unidirectional stroll down the slope. It became less and less competitive compared to the US and both high levels of unemployment and low growth rates came to stay. And the growing, alienated, Muslim minorities didn’t become any more assimilated in the meanwhile. But, on the other hand, Bill Clinton asking non-stop the world to forgive his country’s sins and his reluctance to take decisive action after many terrorist attacks projected a re-comforting image of a repentant, humbled and weakened America.

    Those whom the fall of the Berlin Wall had left orphans of a cause, spent the next decade plotting the containment of the US. It was a complex operation that involved the (in many cases state-sponsored) mushrooming of NGOs, Kyoto, the creation of the ICC, the salami tactics applied against America’s main strategic ally in the Middle-East, Israel, through the Trojan Horse of the Oslo agreements, the subversion of the sanctions against Iraq etc. I’m not as conspiratorially-minded as to think that all these efforts were in any way centralized or that they had some kind of master-plan behind them. It was above all the case of the spirit of the times converging, through many independent manifestations, towards a single goal. Nonetheless we can be sure that, after those manifestations reached a critical mass, there has been no lack of efforts to coordinate them.

    And so, spontaneously up to a point, anti-Americanism became the alternative ideology that came to fill in the vacuum left by the failure of traditional, USSR-based communism and its Maoist or Trotskyite satellites. Before 1989, the global left had something to fight for: either the strengthening of the communist states or the correction of what they called their bureaucratic distortions. To fight for something is simultaneously to fight against whatever threatens it, and thus, the leftists were anti-Western and anti-Americans too, anti-capitalistic in short.

    Now, whatever they wanted to defend or protect doesn’t exist anymore. They have only things to destroy, and all those things are personified in the US, in its very existence. They may, outwardly, fight for some positive cause: save the whales, rescue the world from global heating and so on. But let’s not be deceived by this: they choose as their so-called positive causes only the ones that have both the potential of conferring some kind of innocent legitimacy on themselves and, much more important, that of doing most harm to their enemy, whether physically or to its image.
    (via Instapundit)

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Transformative Bush

    Michael Barone thinks President Bush may be a transformative president.
    George W. Bush is a transformative president. Bill Clinton skillfully adapted to circumstances. George W. Bush -- clumsily in the view of his critics, but with confidence self-evident to those who watched his State of the Union with clear eyes -- sets out to transform America and the world. And is succeeding.
    (via Powerline)

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Juan Cole: Obfuscating Intellectual

    Justin Katz, in a discussion relating to Juan Cole's latest hissy fit in which he attacked Jonah Goldberg (who responded), comments
    The problem that so many intellectuals have — across the disciplines — is that they haven't been visiting and learning languages and writing books to understand their subjects, but to cram them into a Leftist worldview.
    Indeed. (And their example should serve as an object lesson for those of us "scholars" on the right).

    Friday, February 04, 2005

    Hanson on Intellectual Pitfalls of the "Elite"

    Victor Davis Hanson asks and answers a profound question
    What explains this automatic censure of the United States, Israel, and to a lesser extent the Anglo-democracies of the United Kingdom and Australia? Westernization, coupled with globalization, has created an affluent and leisured elite that now gravitates to universities, the media, bureaucracies, and world organizations, all places where wealth is not created, but analyzed, critiqued, and lavishly spent.

    Thus we now expect that the New York Times, Harper's, Le Monde, U.N. functionaries who call us "stingy," French diplomats, American writers and actors will all (1) live a pretty privileged life; (2) in recompense "feel" pretty worried and guilty about it; (3) somehow connect their unease over their comfort with a pathology of the world's hyperpower, the United States; and (4) thus be willing to risk their elite status, power, or wealth by very brave acts such as writing anguished essays, giving pained interviews, issuing apologetic communiqués, braving the rails to Davos, and barking off-the-cuff furious remarks about their angst over themes (1) through (3) above. What a sad contrast they make with far better Iraqis dancing in the street to celebrate their voting. . .

    . . . European intellectuals damn the United States for action in Iraq, but lament that they could do nothing in the Balkans. Democrats at home talk of the need for idealism abroad, but fear the dirty road of war that sometimes is part of that bargain — thus the retreat into "democracy is good, BUT..." So here we have the global throng that focuses on one purported American crime to the next, as it simmers in the luxury of its privilege, education, and sophistication — and exhibits little power, new ideas, intellectual seriousness, or relevance.

    In this context, the Iraqi elections were surely poorly attended, or illegitimate, or ruined by violence, or irrelevant, or staged by America — or almost anything other than a result of a brave, very risky, and costly effort by the United States military to destroy a fascist regime and offer something better in its place.

    Giving Credit Where Due

    As an historian-in-training, I have learned the mechanics of proper, scholarly citation. As a blogger, I have yet to perfect a consistent method of choosing which words to use as a link to a story or where to give a nod to those from whom I got the link. My general observation is that the blogosphere is much more lax than it should be in crediting the source from which they were tipped off to a post or story, though I think it's getting better. (Besides, it's something that one figures out eventually: newbies should get a pass for a while). In this vein, Patrick Ruffini points out that the MSM, who should know better, isn't doing a good job of properly citing their blog sources
    The Globe takes the White House to task for not distinguishing between conservative and "non-partisan" media. But the Globe does the same in its article, failing to disclose which "Internet bloggers" are fueling the story -- (cough)Hatrios(cough)Kos(cough) -- and any hint of which political party they might be associated with.

    With all the discussion about policing the blogosphere, shouldn't there be a journalistic code of ethics for how the blogosphere's work is cited? The Globe glosses over its sourcing by noting that "issue was raised by a media watchdog group and picked up by Internet bloggers" -- which is a euphemism for "I didn't do any original reporting on this. I just cribbed it from Atrios, Daily Kos, and David Brock."

    Why would the Globe be hesitant to provide hyperlinks to the two or three key blogs that brought the story to public attention, or mention their names in its print edition? Is it because disclosing what blogs Globe reporters actually read in their spare time might reflect poorly on the credibility of the story?
    (via Instapundit) <-----that's how it's done!

    Thursday, February 03, 2005

    A New Coat of Paint

    Well, after nearly 2 years in the old dull brownish grayish format, I thought this place needed a new look. So, taking the cheap and easy way out, I looked at the "canned" blogger templates and went with this one. Why? Welp, this is the "Ocean" State Blogger, oceans are BLUE . . .

    Anyway, there are still some growing pains, so bear with me while they get ironed out. Thanks!

    Spinning Clio : Where History and Politics Meet

    I've decided to "officially" announce a blog side project that I've been working on (sporadically) called Spinning Clio: Where History and Politics Meet. To paraphrase/quote from my initial post on the new site: Spinning Clio is intended to be my forum for both long pieces and short blurbs and references to other sights that all deal with the intersection of history with politics. My goal is twofold. First, in the spirit of the historian E.H. Carr, (from whom I got the subtitle to the sight) I will occasionally delve into the concept of ideology, which Carr defined as "where history and politics meet." Second, History is one of the chief sources used in political rhetoric by those of all ideologies. I will not hide the fact that I am conservative. (Indeed, a rarity among historians). My citations to other online works and resources will tend to lean that way, but I must point out that I do maintain many permanent links to many "left-leaning" sights and that I do peruse their work. Additionally, as I alluded, there are plenty of liberal historians: This sight is for the conservative historians who are interested in the "conservative" interpretation of history and how it is used in political discourse.

    I had a similar idea when I put up Historical Sources Online, but after a couple months, it seemed that a site with historical "sources" wasn't the place to offer opinion. (I have kept those postings up and will do so for posterity). Spinning Clio fills that niche. Perhaps I am engaging in too much blog compartmentalization, I'm not sure. With the addition of SC, I will now have 3 active blogging outlets: The Ocean State Blogger, Anchor Rising and Spinning Clio.

    What does that mean for this site? Again, I'm not sure. Anchor Rising has thus far been a good experience and provides an outlet for political, social and cultural musings similar to those I often express here at OSB. One thing that I think will happen is that OSB will serve as a sort of blog "notebook" for nascent thoughts that could be developed into broader and bigger pieces for the other two sites. Also, since Clio and Anchor do have "themes," OSB will provide me with an outlet for first- postings on topics not necessarily germane to the other two sights. (I'm just thinking out loud). What OSB won't become is a diary of "my life," something I've consciously tried to avoid so far (except when "my life" effects my blogging). So, if you feel like jumping over to Spinning Clio, please do, but don't expect too much. If you regard it as a resource for political rhetoric, you'll be on the right track.

    "There Can Be No End to Jihad"

    Christianity Today Magazine has an interview with Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad. If you're curious as to the "philosophy" behind jihad, I'd urge you to read it. If you're short on time, The Senescent Man has a quality excerpt.

    Wednesday, February 02, 2005

    "Indoctrination into Inadequacy" by Bill Felkner

    Bill Felkner, a Rhode Island College grad student who has been battling the liberal ideologues in his Social Work program at the "school", has a column at Frontpagemag.com that should be of interest to all Rhode Island tax payers and voters. I recommend reading the entire piece. Here is a snippet of what Bill faces every day
    “Cuba has a better health care system than America” is a topic of the day in my classes. Bush Lies is required reading. Political campaigning in class for leftist agendas and lessons in leftwing history are a pervasive presence. Don’t misunderstand; I have had good professors at the college itself, but in the School of Social Work (SSW), even the good ones practice political indoctrination. As one faculty member put it, “the SSW is not committed to balanced presentations, nor should we be. We are not a debating society.”
    Read it.

    Sullivan Hangs 'em Up....for now

    I think it only proper to acknowledge the news that Andrew Sullivan has decided to take a break. I've had my problems with him in the last year or so, as have many others. I won't get into it now. What I will say is that Sullivan was one of my early guideposts in blogging and deserves his pioneer status (along with Glen Reynolds and the granddady of 'em all, Drudge). Sullivan is a good writer and he will now be focusing his talents on writing a book. Best of luck.

    Tuesday, February 01, 2005

    What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?

    Liberal columnist Mark Brown asks, "What if Bush has been right about Iraq all along?"
    Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something.

    Would it be worth all the money we've spent? Certainly.

    Would it be worth all the lives that have been lost? That's the more difficult question, and while I reserve judgment on that score until such a day arrives, it seems probable that history would answer yes to that as well.

    I don't want to get carried away in the moment.

    Going to war still sent so many terrible messages to the world.

    Most of the obstacles to success in Iraq are all still there, the ones that have always led me to believe that we would eventually be forced to leave the country with our tail tucked between our legs. (I've maintained from the start that if you were impressed by the demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad when we arrived, wait until you see how they celebrate our departure, no matter the circumstances.)

    In and of itself, the voting did nothing to end the violence. The forces trying to regain the power they have lost -- and the outside elements supporting them -- will be no less determined to disrupt our efforts and to drive us out.

    Somebody still has to find a way to bring the Sunnis into the political process before the next round of elections at year's end. The Iraqi government still must develop the capacity to protect its people.

    And there seems every possibility that this could yet end in civil war the day we leave or with Iraq becoming an Islamic state every bit as hostile to our national interests as was Saddam.

    But on Sunday, we caught a glimpse of the flip side. We could finally see signs that a majority of the Iraqi people perceive something to be gained from this brave new world we are forcing on them.

    Instead of making the elections a further expression of "Yankee Go Home," their participation gave us hope that all those soldiers haven't died in vain.

    Obviously, I'm still curious to see if Bush is willing to allow the Iraqis to install a government that is free to kick us out or to oppose our other foreign policy efforts in the region.

    So is the rest of the world.

    For now, though, I think we have to cut the president some slack about a timetable for his exit strategy.

    If it turns out Bush was right all along, this is going to require some serious penance.

    Maybe I'd have to vote Republican in 2008.
    No, I don't think that will happen. If Sep 11, 2001 taught us nothing, it taught us that there are some in society who will find any reason, no matter how tenuous, to oppose those with whom they are ideologically incompatible.

    Bush Doctrine: Too Easy?

    Charles R. Kesler believes in much of what the President has said about spreading democracy, but also believes "Bush makes it easy to be a democrat, and thus makes it easier for the whole world to become democratic." Accordingly, Kesler believes this is naive.

    De-mystifying the "Neocon Cabal"

    Gerard Alexander at Claremont reviews a couple books on the "neocons" and provides a useful and insightful counterbalance to the nearly all negative hype against so-called members of this so-called group.

    And Here I Thought it was just a Funny Movie...

    My interest perked by Jonah Goldberg, I looked into the deeper meaning of the movie Groundhog Day. There's more than meets the eye!

    Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

    John O'Sullivan offers a hybrid foreign policy realist/idealist analysis of President Bush's speech and notes that too many couldn't see the qualifier trees for the idealistic forest of freedom outlined by the President.
    President Bush's inaugural declaration of a foreign policy rooted in spreading liberty has received an early and strong boost from the large turnout in the Iraqi elections. The crude objection to it that the Arabs are either hostile to democracy, or even merely indifferent to it, has been decisively routed by the civic bravery of the Iraqi voters. And the 'democracy project' looks consequently more, well, more realistic than it did a week ago.

    But when all about you are losing their heads, as Kipling notes, is the very time to keep a cool head yourself. We should therefore turn a cautious eye on the president's speech. And when we do, we discover that the cool head of Ramesh Ponnuru got it right first time. As he told viewers of CNN's Capital Gang, George Bush was somewhat too eloquent for his own good.

    Many listeners thought they had heard the president announce that it was henceforth the policy of the United States to overthrow tyrants and establish democracy everywhere by return of post. So powerful was this impression that the following day 'a senior administration official' was wheeled out to explain that there had been no change in U.S. foreign policy and that the president was not proposing to spread democracy by military force. Mr. Bush similarly qualified himself in a press conference a few days later.

    Nor were they 'retreating' or reneging. Mr. Bush's original promise to support democracy abroad had been hedged about with qualifications: It would be the work of several generations, not one administration. It was not primarily a 'task of arms.' Freedom could not be imposed on other countries by the U.S. We would merely help them to achieve it. It would inevitably reflect their distinctive traditions and end up looking very different from our own democracy. And so on and so forth.

    Alas, these prudent qualifications were obscured by his soaring rhetorical promises to advance liberty and democracy throughout the world. This was, said Mr. Bush, "the urgent requirement of our nation's security and the calling of our time." Indeed, the "ultimate goal" of U.S. foreign policy was "ending tyranny in our world."

    . . . Neither the U.S. nor any other country, however idealistic, can be expected to intervene militarily against its own interests or when it has no real interests at stake. It is immoral as well as unrealistic to encourage others to rebel by promises of intervention we cannot keep. And, except in the most extreme cases of genocide, etc., our ideals are too abstract an interest to justify putting the lives of our soldiers at risk — though they may justify lesser forms of influence and diplomatic intervention.

    Iraq is a special case. By invading the country, we took on the responsibility of establishing a stable, decent and (if possible) democratic government there. Such a government now looks distinctly possible, and we should therefore remain as long as necessary to ensure it secure establishment.

    As the president's qualifications hinted, however, the U.S. does not intend to intervene militarily elsewhere to advance its democratic agenda. Lesser but still powerful forms of pressure — imposing trade penalties on regimes that jail and torture dissidents, offering a safe haven to despots who agree to go quietly, giving training and technical assistance to free media in authoritarian states that permit some freedoms, and orchestrating international opposition to the more brutal regimes — are likely to be our principal instruments of policy.

    al-Qa'eda Rule 18

    From the "I did not know that" file (I'm referring to the second paragraph that follows):
    The detainees in Guantanamo were certainly humiliated and made to feel extremely uncomfortable. They may have been deprived of light and sleep and forced to stand for long periods. But did it constitute torture? The US Department of Defence insists that none of the Britons even alleged they had been tortured or abused until October last year – and that when US officials investigated those claims, they not only found they had no foundation, but that one of the Britons had assaulted one of his interrogators.

    The men's claim that they were tortured at Guantanamo should also be set in the context of the al-Qa'eda training manual discovered during a raid in Manchester a couple of years ago. Lesson 18 of that manual, whose authenticity has not been questioned, emphatically states, under the heading "Prison and Detention Centres", that, when arrested, members of al-Qa'eda "must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security investigators. [They must] complain to the court of mistreatment while in prison". That is not, of course, proof that the Britons were not tortured in Guantanamo. But it ought to encourage some doubts about uncritically accepting that they were – which seems to be the attitude adopted by most of the media. (via Taranto )