Monday, July 25, 2005

Back at It

I took a week off from work and fully intended to blog during that time. Well, I didn't. A few things, both planned and unplanned, popped up, punctuated by my Hemingwayesque Thursday during which I went Striped Bass and Fluke fishing off the coast of Rhode Island and Block Island, drank beer, went to Medieval Latin class (took a quiz) and then attended the tail end of a low-key bachelor party at the local Hooters. (The last was truly a tame affair: I'm sure Ernest would have gone in for a bit more ;) Anyway, I'm back (but I'll warn you ahead of time that in two weeks I'll be gone again) and regular blogging will resume.

Friday, July 15, 2005

1999 - ABC NEWS Report on Osama and Iraq

Roger Simon provides link to an audio clip (apparently from this show) that excerpts a 1999 ABC News report, complete with allusions to private sourcing, that mentions links between Iraq, terrorisma and Bin Laden. Wow. Whoda thunk? I guess everyone....until G.W. Bush became President, that is.

Much Ado About Not Much

This Washington Post is almost as clear as the MSM has gotten to acknowledging how ridiculous this Plame/Wilson/Novak/Rove et al thing is, but it still can't let it go. Perhaps it was written before it we learned that Novak told Rove about Plame, not vice versa. Or maybe before Joe Wilson himself acknowledged his wife wasn't "under cover" to begin with. Whatever. I haven't really heard any water cooler or gym talk about this to begin with. Yet another tempest in the beltway teapot.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Who will be Islam's Luther?

Wretchard, in reaction to the travesty that saw children killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq, calls for Islamic reformation.
The empirical fact is that no group has been killed more often and more brutally by the 'Jihad' than Muslims themselves. During the French Algerian war several times more Algerian Muslims died than French. Anyone with a calculator can see the same is true in Iraq. One of the targets of the London bombing was a subway station frequented by British Muslims. The first objective of terror, indeed of the Terror, and the first objective of the Jihad is to maintain internal control over its base. For as long as internal control can be maintained, a terrorist movement need not defeat its armed enemy. It will never lose; hence in the estimation of the Peace generation, it will always win.

Logically, a large part of the War on Terror will consist of creating an insurgency within the insurgency. Fighting Islamic extremism must comprise organizing a revolt against Islam's internal oppressors. That would include waging intellectual war against Islamic fundamentalism within its own theological context -- a reformation -- it will include creating clandestine cells to strike at the gangs which beat women and intimidate men within the community. It will require all the skills of a resistance fighter struggling against bearded Big Brother. The Left has a word for such people: "Uncle Toms". That is how they've already characterized Hirsi Ali. That is to be expected. But many conservatives have also been blind to the urgent requirement of creating a liberation movement within Islam, in part because they half believe all Muslims are themselves the enemy; in part because they despair of Muslims ever rising up against the medieval institutions which constrain them; in part because they haven't thought about it. But they should. That pile of bloody children's slippers on an Iraqi street is a tally of spirits who were created to be free.
Mudville has more on the bombing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Home Grown Bombers

Now that we know that the London Bombers were British, perhaps the warnings of those such as Robert S. Leiken will be taken more seriously by Europe. Here's another hint, see my aforementioned link to an Austin Bay article.

I Guess not that much is wrong with Kansas

Jerry Bower compares economic data between Red and Blue America (With Charts!!!).

Hey, News Media, You're the Target

Austin Bay
What makes the small and anonymous appear powerful and strong? In the 21st century, intense media coverage magnifies the terrorists' capabilities. This suggests that winning the global war against Islamist terror ultimately means accomplishing two things: denying the terrorists' weapons of mass destruction and curbing what is currently Al Qaeda's greatest strategic capability: media magnification and occasional media enhancement of its bombing campaigns and political theatrics.

Saddam and Al-Qaeda

The Weekly Standard is investigating all of the non-links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. Claudia Roset offers a summary and urges the Bush Administration to start talking about it again.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Making the Tent Bigger

The Rev. Joseph Evans, pastor at the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Northwest Washington, in an Op-Ed in today's Washington Times:
Journalists are creating public awareness of an emerging class of people called New Republicans. No longer operating under the proverbial radar screen, they are people who value family, limited government, self-help and responsibility, and an entrepreneurial spirit.

Partly, journalists may be interested in their enlarging presence because they are noticing an obvious sociopolitical paradigm shift occurring in our country. Another reason may be that the New Republicans are African Americans and Hispanics.

From a conservative perspective, African Americans and Hispanics conspicuously are asserting themselves in the public square by engaging in politics, commerce and the judiciary. President Bush may nominate appeals court Judge Emilio Garza to replace the venerable Sandra Day O'Connor, who recently announced her retirement. This appointment would reflect a changing reality within the Republican Party. Although recently not as popular among ultraconservatives, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has similar credentials.

Politically,Kenneth Blackwell, Secretary of State of Ohio, is leading a conservative charge as the conservative gubernatorial frontrunner in the 2006 election. As Mr. Bush rightly thinks of Karl Rove as his 'architect' in the 2004 presidential victory, Mr. Blackwell should be thought of as his 'engineer.' The Republican establishment in the state of Ohio thought Mr. Blackwell's insistence on placing the marriage amendment on the ballot was not demonstrating political savvy, but Mr. Blackwell had his finger on the pulse of his fellow Buckeyes' values.

Minorities are breathing new life into the Republican Party. They are affirming that absolute moral truth exists, that traditional values matter and that their dreams can be realized by preserving proven historical ways to succeed. How can we sustain this new emerging class? One way is for the president to nominate Clarence Thomas as the successor to the current and fine Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Mr. Rehnquist will retire at some point and Mr. Bush should take advantage of the opportunityto strengthen conservative philosophy among African Americans.

. . . Justice Thomas represents the New Republicans, those who are coming and those who are returning to the party of Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor, believes "it only takes 20-25 percent of the black vote for Republicans to win the presidency consistently." This would affirm the judgment of 34 percent of young blacks (18-25) and 29 percent (26-35), who call themselves Independents, according to the Joint Center for Political Studies, to vote as they live: conservatively.

Iraq: Terrorist Flypaper or Terrorism's "Cassus beli"?

I've thought that there was some credence to be given to the flypaper theory--fight the terrorists there so we won't have to fight them here--as applied to Iraq. With the recent London bombings as background, Gregory Scoblete convincingly argues that Iraq-as-flypaper is a flawed theory.
The strategy of aggressively preempting terrorists and terror-threats, the essence of the administration's counter-terrorism policy, is fundamentally sound. The problem begins when the pitched battle between Jihadists and U.S. forces in Iraq is framed as an either/or equation -- either we fight terrorists in Iraq or we fight them here -- because the reality, as London, Madrid, Turkey and the entire tragic litany demonstrates, is that we're fighting them everywhere. That Iraq has attracted the flies is both true and largely irrelevant; the flies continue to murderously alight elsewhere, despite our presence in Iraq. . .

The idea that Iraq is an irresistible magnet for jihad, diverting the radicals' attention from U.S. domestic targets, assumes that there is a hard-and-fast number of holy warriors and that once they enter the killing fields of Iraq in sufficient numbers our troubles will be over. It also ignores the still open question of whether the conflict is motivating Muslims who would otherwise have demurred from martyrdom to join the fight and thus constitute a seemingly limitless suicide assembly line. [emphasis in original]
I concur. It really isn't an either/or choice, as London and Madrid have reminded us. Thus, Scoblete is accurate when he further explains that Al-Qaeda is too decentralized and "that the 'central battlefield' on the war on terror is wherever a suitably fanatical Muslim is prepared to blow him/herself up. That U.S. forces are decamped enticingly in Iraq does not mean that terrorists will forsake Western targets." Iraq is the biggest front, but not the only front.

Yet, this leads me to a criticism of Scoblete's belief that there is still an "open question" regarding the War in Iraq as the centerpiece of jihadist motivation. He should know better. It is more than mere mantra to say such things as "9/11 happened before Iraq." And as the blogger Callimachus reminds us:
But wait, weren't we told not too long ago it was all about Israel? And that they were all on fire over the defiling presence of U.S. military boots way on the other side of the Land of the Two Holy Mosques?

Face it: there's a simmering stew of resentment among a vast pool of Muslims over a broad swath of the earth. Many sticks can stir the pot. If a more potent one comes along, the stirrers will use it till they find an even better.
In essence, while Scoblete is correct that Al-Qaeda is too decentralized for us to think that all of their jihadist eggs will be broken in the Iraq basket, he shouldn't buy into the belief that Iraq is a unique, or even the primary source of jihadist fertilizer. In fact, why Iraq and not Afghanistan?

The answer is because, unlike the War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq has caused a rift in the West which Al-Qaeda has sought to exploit. In this, they have succeeded. They have picked up on the Western rhetoric espousing the illigitimacy of the "War for oil" and used it to add a kind of warped legitimacy to their terrorism. As such, their own rhetoric is both derivative of, and buttressed by, that of Western critics of the War in Iraq. (This does not mean that Western critics are conscious, or even unconscious or subconscious, supporters of terrorism. Nonetheless, like it or not, their words are being used by those who commit terrorism). In a society already predisposed to have a strong dislike for the Western "other," stories that support these predispositions, especially when accompanied by the "confessions" of those from the West, are extremely attractive. The result is a strengthening of both the appeal and apparent legitimacy of the ideology of radical Islam, particularly Al-Qaeda's strain, among those ready to receive it.

Scoblete touches upon the inherent strength of organizational decentralization, but he doesn't really say why it is effective. The reason decentralization is so effective for Al-Qaeda is because the organization of Al-Qaeda has succeeded in installing the ideology of Al-Qaeda as preeminent throughout radical Islam. In essence, the ideology has superseded the organization itself. As such, while Iraq has been used effectively as a recruiting tool and rhetorical touchstone, there were, and will be other, perceived "insults" to Islam that will be used as legitimization for jihad. There is still Israel, after all. It is correct to say that Iraq is not the only front in the War on Terror. It also isn't the only reason for it.

UPDATE: Greg Scoblete has responded and believes that I misinterpreted his postion on Iraq.
I manifestly don't buy the argument that Iraq is "causing more terrorism" in the broad sense of Islamic terrorism - bin Laden's group, and those flying planes into buildings, are motivated by a fundamentalist religious zeal and not a political grievance. They can't be appeased. Nor should they.

That doesn't change the basic though murky question: are Muslims entering Iraq and committing acts of terrorism who would have otherwise not embraced terrorism? If that question is answered affirmatively, our job is immeasurably harder. If the answer is no, then our prospects improve.
My apologies to Greg for the misunderstanding. So, we agree that Iraq isn't a conspicuous root cause for terrorism.

Greg's main concern is whether our job in Iraq is made tougher because more terror-minded individuals are able to enter the fray there. As Greg mentions, the geographical convenience of Iraq facilitates greater "participation" in jihad. Perhaps, then, the answer is this: the number of potential terrorists has not increased, but the number of both potential terrorists able to actively participate in jihad (facilitated by their proximity of Iraq) as well as the rate at which these potential terrorists have actually decided to take action (and die) has increased. The easier something is to do, the more likely it is that more people will do it.

Iraq is not a conspicuous motivator for more terror, it is just another piece of the ideological template. Thus, I don't think that more people are being "converted" to terrorism because of Iraq. But the practical affect of a larger battlefield that is closer to the terrorist nexus has been an increase in the rate at which passive consumers of terrorist ideology are able to become proactive jihadists. But remember, the location of the terrorists is more important than their number: 100 terrorists in Fallujah facing down a battalion of Soldiers or Marines is less of a threat than 100 terrorists dispersed throughout the U.S. ready to self-detonate.


[Cross-posted at Anchor Rising and Spinning Clio].

Monday, July 11, 2005

Ray Bradbury

Every time I've ever seen or heard a Ray Bradbury interview, I've come away impressed and more learned. Thus, it's always been strange to me that I've actually read very few of his works! Of those I have read, most were short stories, of which I can't exactly recall which they were, since I read them as a teen. Well, perhaps I shall pick up a new biography on him (as reported here) which I actually saw previewed on C-Span a month or so ago. Yet another item to put on my Bradbury to-do-list. I wonder if other people have authors whom they always mean "to get to" but always seem to put off because other, more insistent books keep coming up?

Friday, July 08, 2005

History News Network: Symposium on Nash

The Cliopatria blog is hosting another symposium. This time it's on Gary Nash's essay (partial excerpt) entitled "America's Unfinished Revolution." Go to the symposium for reaction by some of the big boys before reading my two cents.

I've done some research into the historiography of how Bernard Bailyn's "paradigmic" Ideological Origins of the American Revolution has been interpreted, reinterpreted, over-interpreted, misinterpreted and criticized. Included in this is the contemporary critique made by Nash on a 1973 essay written by Bailyn. Bailyn had contributed the lead essay in a compilation of eight essays [Essays on the American Revolution, ed., Kurtz and Hudson] that had been read at a symposium on the American Revolution held at Williamsburg in 1971. Entitled “The Central Themes of the American Revolution: An Interpretation,” it was a summary of Bailyn’s understanding of the core factors of the American Revolution, based mostly on his previous work. He also addressed the difficulty of explaining the roles of loyalists and slaveholders within his interpretative framework and recounted the years after independence in which he emphasized both the optimism of Americans and their distrust of power and those of privilege who tended to wield it.

In his review [The William and Mary Quarterly 31, no.2 (1974), 311-314], Nash found that the fundamental flaw in Bailyn’s overall interpretation of the Revolution was his insistence on according minimal credit to socioeconomic forces as important causative factors of the Revolution. This was nothihng new. In fact, others, such as Gordon Wood, had implied as much nearly a decade earlier. [The William and Mary Quarterly 23, no.1 (1966): 3-32.] Nash's criticism was much more strident in tone. He believed that the relationship between various social groups and the particular ideologies that they embraced was inseparable. Nash also charged that Bailyn seemed too cavalier in his treatment of the slavery issue. He took particular umbrage with Bailyn for saying that the failure to abolish slavery was “an admirable ‘refusal,’” which kept the Revolutionary movement from sliding off into the “’fanaticism’” of abolition. Finally, Nash criticized the entire book, and took the editors of the work to task for not including any essays that addressed the issues of either African-American or Native American viewpoints during the Revolutionary era.

Bailyn responded to Nash’s critique first by stating his original goals in writing his essay and then addressed Nash’s particular charges. He reiterated his statement in the essay that his explanation “does not drain the Revolution of its internal social struggles” and other favorite themes of social or radical historians. What it did do, Bailyn wrote, was describe “why at a particular time the colonists rebelled and establishes the point of departure for the constructive efforts that followed.” As to the slavery issue, Bailyn stated that he was only attempting to explain the reasons why the revolutionaries failed to abolish slavery, not to excuse them. Bailyn’s explanation for why the revolutionaries didn’t address the issue was that “they generally saw the incompatibility of slavery with the free states they hoped to create, condemned the institution, and did eliminate it in the northeast and northwest.” According to Bailyn, the reasons given were fear of societal tensions with many newly released slaves and, more importantly, a desire to not sunder the nation over the slavery issue, “which a fanatical pursuit of abolition at that point would almost certainly have done.” He again referred to his own essay, quoting ‘A successful and liberty-loving republic might someday destroy the slavery that it had been obliged to tolerate at the start; a weak and fragmented nation would never be able to do so.’” Nash replied by criticizing Bailyn’s “Anglocentric history with a passion” and inability to be properly critical of the founders’ attitude toward slavery.

With this debate as perspective, we can see that, according to Nash in his latest essay, nothing has changed. But as the respondents of the symposium have shown, that's not quite true. As such, could it be that Nash merely wants to continue a battle already won because that's all that he knows how to do? Is this what happens when "history with a purpose" achieves its essential goals? Instead of looking for a new method or focus, the historian must continue to write history, even if his perspective is akin to that of Quixote as he regards the windmills?



Thursday, July 07, 2005

London

I hopped in my car this morning and learned of a series of bombings in London. (Glen Reynolds , Jeff Jarvis and The Corner are on top of it). It seems obvious that the bombings were meant to time with the G8 summitt meetings. A previously unknown Al-queda affiliate-- Secret Group of al Qaeda's Jihad in Europe--has claimed responsibility (another report here) and warns that Denmark and Italy will be next unless they withdraw their troops from both Afghanistan and Iraq. It worked when they did it to Spain. I hope, and seriously doubt, that Great Britain will follow suit.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Roe Effect

If you haven't heard of it yet, you should read OpinionJournal.Com's James Taranto's piece detailing his theory called the Roe Effect. Here's the essential part:
It is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment, to observe that every pregnancy aborted today results in one fewer eligible voter 18 years from now. More than 40 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States since 1973, and these are not randomly distributed across the population. Black women, for example, have a higher abortion ratio (percentage of pregnancies aborted) than Hispanic women, whose abortion ratio in turn is higher than that of non-Hispanic whites. Since blacks vote Democratic in far greater proportions than Hispanics, and whites are more Republican than Hispanics or blacks, ethnic disparities in abortion ratios would be sufficient to give the GOP a significant boost--surely enough to account for George W. Bush's razor-thin Florida victory in 2000.

The Roe effect, however, refers specifically to the nexus between the practice of abortion and the politics of abortion. It seems self-evident that pro-choice women are more likely to have abortions than pro-life ones, and common sense suggests that children tend to gravitate toward their parents' values. This would seem to ensure that Americans born after Roe v. Wade have a greater propensity to vote for the pro-life party--that is, Republican--than they otherwise would have.

Judging Economics

Arnold Kling thinks Freakanomics "violated...the precious Law of Proportionate Belief." James Q. Wilson thinks its a good place to start.

Richard Brookhiser tells of how Alexander Hamilton bailed out the Founders.

OK, so Live 8 made us all feel good, but where is the money going? Is it helping?

There may be a civil war in Iraq, but it's not between who you think.

Sen. John Cornyn
offers more thoughts on the Supreme Court nomination process.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Exploded Fireworks Edition

With the debate over the next Supreme Court Justice, and a concomitant rehashing over whether the Constitution as a "living" document or not, looming, Jack Lynch reminds that Samuel Johnson's Dictionary gives us insight into the contextual definitions of words used by America's Founding Fathers.

Henry Gee writes, "Leaps of faith into the realms of Tolkien and The X-Files are vital if science is not to become boring and die." Here Here!

Where is this?



Go here to find out. I never woulda thunk....

Friday, July 01, 2005

A mission of Mercy. . .

Sealift is a monthly publication of the Military Sealift Command, the U.S. government's sea logistical arm. The June issue includes many articles on the UNSN Mercy and the good works performed by her crew, young and old, in Indonesia. But this is really nothing new. The U.S. often provides humanitarian aid without fanfare. In addition to Indonesia, the Mercy and the USNS Niagara Falls responded to a help call in Papau New Guinea to help people who had been displaced by a volcano eruption. Another ship recently performed a rescue at sea. There is more to U.S. military power than guns and bombs: there is also compassion.

Justice O'Connor Retires

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement. Well, now it looks like we'll see which way the President is going to go. Can anyone say Litmus Test (and that can be applied across the whole spectrum!)?

Pre-4th Roundup

We'll start with Melanie Phillips', who offers a tight little package of prose and pull-quotes that undercuts those in the media who think President Bush should never mention "Iraq" and "9/11" together. Meanwhile, the Power Line guys revisit the joint congressional resolution that approved of the war and KO the talking points of John Kerry et al. This is important enough to blurb
Whereas members of al Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq;

Whereas Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of United States citizens;

Whereas the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations;

Whereas Congress has taken steps to pursue vigorously the war on terrorism through the provision of authorities and funding requested by the President to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations;

Whereas the President and Congress are determined to continue to take all appropriate actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such persons or organizations
Power Line also explains "that the resolution puts the Iraq war in the context of September 11 without saying that Iraq was involved in those attacks; it recites what was indisputably true--that Iraq harbored members of al Qaeda. One would think that administration critics like Joe Biden, John Kerry, Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer would remember what was in the resolution, since they voted for it." Sure.

In a tangentially related piece, Roger Simon remarks on the Democrat's popularity and why "false consiousness" prevents them from moving on past moveon.org.

Carroll Andrew Morse proposes that the Dems should look to my alma mater's motto, Acta non Verba, for some direction.

Noting that "the Supreme Court has finally settled the protracted dispute over the constitutionality of posting the Ten Commandments in and around public buildings. It has said, unequivocally, that sometimes you can do it and sometimes you can't," Lee Harris asks, "Who separated Church and State?"