July 31, 2006
Letter to the Paper LII
This missive goes out to The Belgravia Dispatch because it comes so close to my own views on the great challenge facing confirmed civilians all over the world today, but most of all in the 1st world where military service is either non-existent or a joke.
I read your post on 'quasi-genocide' via Josh Marshall (and him via Glenn Reynolds) so I guess that you are addressing a fellow more comfortable on the right half of the blogosphere. I also have been wrestling on some of the Catholic boards and from *that* non-left/non-right battlefield I discovered one simple fact that you seem to have *almost* nailed, that the West is largely ignorant of military theory and facts. This ignorance has made moral idiots of people all across the blogosphere, left, right, or off the scale.
July 27, 2006
Amal to the Rescue?
It is astonishing to me that most coverage in Lebanon talks as if Hezbollah were the only voice of Lebanese Shia. This has never been true. Amal used to be the big voice of the Shia until Syria put its thumb on the scale and ensured that Hezbollah would win the internal Shia power struggle in Lebanon. So where is Amal today?
A quick google of Amal Lebanon led to this, a fascinating article offering the possibility of a sane Shia leadership for Lebanon. What was most jarring was this little bit:
Given what I've seen and read, I would have never guessed that Hezbollah wasn't even a majority voice for Lebanon's Shia.
One thing that might put the stake in Hezbollah for the long haul may be to expropriate their social service networks as a punishment for launching a war and transferring those groups to Amal. If that could be accomplished, not only will Hezbollah be hurting for recruits but it will also wither due to Amal's usurping of its traditional role as helper of the poor.
July 25, 2006
Wanted: A Department of Anarchy VIII
Apparently, I'm not alone in wanting a Department of Anarchy, that fine institution that would remove the useless clutter of rules, regulations, and departments that have long outlived their usefulness. I call it the DoA because it is a delightful acronym and because statists always view any area of human life not tied down by government rules and regulations as "anarchy".
Apparently the House of Representatives has a strong block of "anarchists" and they have introduced HR3282 to accomplish the noble ends of getting the cruft and crud out of our government. They will review the entire government on a maximum 12 year cycle (which can be shortened by Congress). Each agency reviewed by the commission shall be abolished one year afterwards unless it is reauthorized by Congress.
HT: Michael Williams
EU Specialization in Trade Negotiation
Well, Doha not only appears to be dead, the EU wants to point fingers. To recap, the Brazil led developing bloc wanted deep cuts in agricultural subsidies. The EU wanted to give in the least and the US took the middle ground position between the two. The talks break down and now we have Peter Mandelson blaming the US for the collapse of the Doha round because the US would not be sufficiently flexible with the EU position. What is this guy smoking?
Mandelson's engaging in a long-time EU specialty, finger pointing. It doesn't matter that they've scuttled the talks. What really matters is that the right people get the blame.
July 21, 2006
Hezbollah's Hidden Success
As Hezbollah gets pasted by Israeli ordnance, few are noting its huge political success in shifting world opinion. This is because the success it has had is of the nature of a "dog that did not bark". Israel, in the past, has used war language with reference to Hamas and Hezbollah. The diplomatic community came down on Sharon like a ton of bricks for saying such things because as non-state actors, you cannot go to war with them.
Today, Israel is joined by everybody else in using war language with respect to Hezbollah. Who protests? Nobody (or at least nobody important) seems to care that we have made a fundamental shift in how we treat non-state movements like Hamas and Hezbollah. Frankly, nobody has seemed to notice.
This is a great victory for these two movements and the entire jihadist community. They are devoted to a political form that is nonwestphalian and by language and action, the world has taken a large step in recognizing their view of the world as objective reality. The consequences are large, and very poorly thought out by the world diplomatic community so far.
What is the need for the UN except the management and pacification of the parties that can declare and wage war? Sure, there are lots of ancillary functions beyond that but that is its central duty. So, does Hezbollah get a seat? Of course it doesn't, as a practical matter. But why shouldn't it get a seat if the world now recognizes it as a party that can declare and wage war?
July 18, 2006
Jesse Jackson Voting Lies
Today Jesse Jackson published an op-ed so brazen in its bearing false witness that it's creepy. Jackson claims as bald fact without presenting any evidence, that both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004 were stolen elections. As with all the best lies, it's done with a speed and as a side point that encourages you to just accept it without actually thinking too much on it. That independent inquiries have all confirmed the official result? That's a non-event. That a significant number of incidents were recorded where Democrats were caught suppressing the Republican vote, another non-event.
The cherry on top was that these lies are purveyed in an article talking about how we need to provide the reality of faith and not just the showy trappings. Rev. Jackson might want to stop bearing false witness as a necessary early step on working on the substance of his faith.
One of the great problems of today, it seems to me, is that we so often argue our points, right or wrong, from such a low level of knowledge that we can't help but make tremendous mistakes. How can you argue about whether a war is just if you don't understand either the politics that led up to the war or war itself? The answer is that you can't. That doesn't stop people from trying. Examining a few Catholic apologist sites leads me to believe that the great mass of english speaking catholics who go there are so fundamentally disconnected with war and war politics that they have lost the ability to say much of what is useful about Catholic Just War Doctrine (JWD).
You get misapplications of proportionality by mistaking what are the causes of war. You get plenty of magical thinking about what is possible in the avoidance of innocent civilian casualties. And you get all too often a refusal to examine whether the alternate choices available would have just made things worse.
The question is, how to fix it? If only there were some sort of basic knowledge exam that at least let you know what your basic state of knowledge was in the particular question under discussion so you knew how much you needed to know to discuss a question or theory intelligently or at least avoid the guarantee of error that near total ignorance brings.
July 15, 2006
Why Liberals can't honestly describe Conservatism
Unfortunately, Wolfe uses several confusing terms that will lead most of his readers (those who are not intensely political and educated to the nuances) astray. Conservatism has always been about taking what is useful from the past and preserving it, adapting it so that it is useful for today but keeping the flame alive. What that past that is being conserved is changes from variant to variant. Jacques Chirac is a conservative. So is Jonah Goldberg, the fellow who coined the phrase "cheese eating surrender monkey" and hurls it so liberally at Chirac. This makes perfect sense once you take into account that Chirac is conserving the old european tradition of class, nobility, and privilege and Goldberg is conserving the revolutionary american tradition of mocking exactly those things.
July 13, 2006
Digging up Tet
For a Catholic, there's a two part test for an awful lot of things (not necessarily in this order).
1. is it legal
Mark Shea's Catholic and Enjoying It! blog is currently doing a very bad job of applying that test to the point where I and a bunch of others are regularly censored if we provide alternative perspectives hinging on the question of whether certain military acts are wrong merely 99.999% of the time or 100% of the time. My own perspective is that a lot of strange things happen out in the field and it's essential to actually listen before judging. Below is the comment I would have posted. The Mark Shea post is regarding the famous street execution photo of a general shooting a captured VC.
The problem of this famous incident is that it's always about the emotion. For this to have been a righteous shooting, the VC would have had to:
July 09, 2006
Putin and Russia
The bottom line theme is that Putin is not moving Russia. He is surfing Russia. Russia is engaged in a slow motion realignment to traditional russian values and Putin, as he detects these movements, rushes to the front of the parade and "leads", gaining enough popularity to continue his work.
But is Putin just a consummate surfer or is he engaging in structural work that will permit Russia to move forward on a sustainable basis past the upcoming crisis as the PRC hits the wall and the oil age ends? I wish I had more confidence that there is something larger behind Putin than a thirst for power.
July 07, 2006
Hydrogen's still on track for 2010-2015
This was supposed to be a comment on Donald Sensing's site in response to this article on getting off oil but the comment won't post right so I'll put it here.
July 04, 2006
Happy Independence Day
In 1776 a group of extraordinary men came together and declared that 13 British colonies could no longer stand the erosion of their liberties under color of authority and declared independence. Those independent colonies were soon to become the United States of America one war and 13 short years later.
Today, the US finds itself at war. Support or oppose the mission, even support or oppose the troops, their service, their blood demands that at least this one day we pay attention. Enjoy what so many generations before us have sacrificed to create but take a few minutes to be thankful over it all. If you haven't lately, read the Declaration of Independence. If you're already familiar with it, promise yourself to spend at least a little time furthering those founding principles enunciated in that document. And if you're one of the many foreign friends of freedom throughout the world, think a bit about how freedom's blessings can be extended to your own land, whether by protecting what you've already got or lighting a new lamp. It can be done. It must be done.
A product of BruceR and Jantar Mantar Communications, and affiliated contributors. Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's half-informed viewpoint on the world.