March 26, 2004

The Clarke “Scandal”

I’m behind the curve on this one, but I suppose I should weigh in on the Richard Clarke “scandal.”

Clarke’s ability to undermine his own self with his own words is astonishing.

I’m sure he’s telling the truth in there somewhere. I don’t know when he is and when he isn’t. At this point, none of his blatantly contradictory statements are even worth quoting. This has been covered nearly to death elsewhere. Those interested in the details can follow the link.

Matthew Yglesias doesn’t think Clark has a credibility problem.

The "serious allegations" would turn on Clarke's credibility if and only if administration figures would explain in a clear manner which of the allegations are not true and what is untrue about them. They have not done so.
He has a point. Administration officials do need to counter any claims by Clarke that aren’t true. Maybe they have and I missed it. Honestly, I don’t really know, partly because this story bores me, and partly because I have neither the time nor the energy to parse a series of “he said” and “she said” counter allegations by bickering politicians.

Even so, Matt is only half right. Clarke is perfectly capable of creating a credibility problem all by himself. That is independent of the fact that the Bush Administration may also have its own credibility problems.

I could be wrong, obviously, but I have feeling this guy is as ephemeral as a moth. He’ll be a footnote in two weeks and his book will be consigned to the remainder bins.

I’m sorry if this is a flip and lazy response. It is. I know it is. But the man hasn’t demonstrated he’s worth my time. He seems to me an arrogant self-aggrandizing phony. He isn’t even up to speed enough to know that his previous statements are all over the Internet, that those who are interested can compare and contrast what he’s saying now with what he has said in the past.

If you’re interested in some truly devastating criticism of pre-911 government failure, read what Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator from Nebraska, had to say. He’s a man worth taking seriously. If I were Bush I would be very afraid of facing an opponent like him. He is relentless, and he is right.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:23 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

March 24, 2004

Fish in a Barrel

Noam Chomsky has a blog now. And it has a comments section. Go say hi. And be nice. I don't want to send him any trolls.

UPDATE: Chomsky's comments section is a nightmarish place swarming with freaks and trolls. It's worse than I expected. A lot worse. This is not going to be a pleasant experience for him unless he shuts down the comments.

And that's too bad. My own comments section is invaluable, and I'm more careful about what I say now that I've switched to Movable Type (which has comments built in) and you all can yell at me and tell me I'm full of it.

Good feedback and debate might have made Chomsky smarter and more reasonable. But no. It will never happen. He has too many passionate enemies. He has no choice but to continue to wall himself off from reality.

UPDATE: Chomsky's comments have been disabled. That became inevitable almost instantly.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 4:37 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Breaking the Cycle

Israelis appease terrorists every time they agree to a prisoner swap.

It goes like this.

Israel captures terrorists. Terrorists kidnap Israelis. Terrorists demand the release of their captured comrades. Israel capitulates. Terrorists declare victory and repeat as needed. And so on and so on. Forever.

Once this cycle of appeasement starts, it’s a bitch to get off. Israel hasn’t managed it yet. They released yet more prisoners – 436 of them – not two months ago.

But they are learning to stop a different cycle of appeasement before it becomes too much of a pattern.

In the year 2000 when Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon under fire from Hezbollah, they withdrew behind the border recognized by the United Nations. There, they said. We’ve done what you wanted. Now, stop shooting at us.

But the shooting didn’t stop. Hezbollah celebrated the Israeli withdrawal as a tremendous victory for itself. Look at the Jew, they said. Weak and afraid. We are winning. So Hezbollah demanded Israel retreat even farther, deeper inside Israel’s own territory, so that Hezbollah can pull an old-fashioned land-grab and seize Israeli territory for itself.

Hezbollah now fires artillery not at occupation soldiers, but at civilians on the other side of the border.

Israel has learned from that mistake.

Ariel Sharon announced a withdrawal of forces from the Gaza Strip. Hamas, as expected, declared victory. What a propaganda coup, even if it’s bogus. Nothing Israel does encourages more terrorist recruits than convincing the average Palestinian that terror gets results.

So Israel zeroed in on the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and blew him to pieces in broad daylight.

Israel followed up that bold strike with an announcement. The entire Hamas leadership is now targetted for annihilation. That threat is credible and puts Hamas’s claim of victory in serious doubt. It changes the entire calculus of the Israeli withdrawal. Israelis are leaving Gaza because they feel like it, not because they are weak, scared, bullied, bloodied, or losing.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:00 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

March 22, 2004

Pas Comme Les Autres

I don't have time to write much tonight. But I would like to point you to a guest piece by Gabriel Gonzalez at Winds of Change.

Gabriel is a frequent contributer to my comments section, so some of you will recognize his name. He lives in Paris and has a great deal to say about what's up with French foreign policy. Those who think France is an American ally, albeit a highly critical one, might want to take a fresh look from the inside.

(P.S. If you would like to comment, please read the linked piece first.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:53 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

March 21, 2004

Before the Second Storm

That was the original title to my new Tech Central Station column: Are the Jacksonians Sated?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:05 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Got the Bastard

Today is a great day. The founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was blown to pieces by the Israelis in an airstrike.

The objective of Hamas, explicitly spelled out in its charter, is to conquer the state of Israel and turn it into a Taliban-style police state. Only the enemies of civilization will miss him.

UPDATE: Sigh. I know. I shouldn't make a big deal out of some random anonymous twit saying something dumb somewhere on the Internet. But this response by someone named "chimpymustgo" at Democratic Underground is really something.

I am disgusted by this reaction. How many innocents were killed?

What was this person proven guilty of?

Good God, folks - what have we come to?

Hey, at least he's arguing with DU posters who are glad the bastard is toast.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:18 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Global Protest Photo Gallery

Hey, don't blame me for lumping together the Communists, Saddamite Fascists, American flag burners, anti-Semities, and peaceniks. I know they all have different ideas. But they all marched on the same day for (supposedly) the same "cause." And Yahoo grouped them together in the same "anti-war" slideshow.

If I were against the war, I wouldn't have a damn thing to do with these people. This seems to me a lot like marching against affirmative action with the Ku Klux Klan. But hey, I could be off here.

Maybe if John Kerry wins the presidency and gets the same treatment (as I suspect he would, at least from some quarters), my less hawkish friends will finally understand where I'm coming from. That would be a refreshing change.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:42 AM | Permalink | Comments Off

March 20, 2004

Ripples of Regime-Change

A bold anti-Baathist resistance in Syria is born. Here's a picture from Syrian Kurdistan. The man in the photo looks like he was (the deceased) Papa Assad. Boy Assad is surely not very happy about this.

And hey! These Kurds know who the real bad guys are. Way to go, Kurds. You're much smarter (and braver) than most activists these days.

(Hat tip: Andrew Apostolou.)

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 7:12 PM | Permalink | Comments Off

Name-Brand Socialism

Socialism is dead.


Oh, sure, its rotting corpse hasn't fallen over yet in Cuba. ¡Socialismo o muerte! is still Fidel Castro's bumper sticker after all these years. It's as old as the cars in Havana. Someone should tell Fidel: Socialismo es muerte.

Spaniards just elected a socialist prime minister. Except they didn't. So sayeth Chris Suellentrop in Slate.

[I]t says something about the state of small-"s" socialism—in addition to the state of the world—that conservatives are attacking Zapatero for his response to terrorism, not his attitude toward capitalism.

Granted, the war in Iraq and the war against al-Qaida are the whole reason the world has been watching Spain so closely for the past week. But there's another reason for the conservative silence about Zapatero's economics: The socialist debate over what to do about capitalism—and the proletariat, and the theory of surplus value, and the ownership of the means of production—is largely over in Europe. If the old libel against American liberals is that they're socialists, the new European libel against socialists is that they're liberals—classical ones. Here are some of the economic promises on which Zapatero's Socialist Workers Party campaigned: lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 30 percent, cutting income taxes, and reducing the value-added tax. Oh, and they're going to balance the budget and control inflation. The man expected to be the Socialist finance minister, Miguel Sebastian, is a U.S.-educated economist with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He's promising to put his faith in the Invisible Hand. "There will be a strict separation between politics and business," he told the Financial Times. "We will be a market-friendly government." These are socialists?

Nope. They aren't socialists. They just kept the brand name.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 12:44 AM | Permalink | Comments Off
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