March 01, 2005

While I Was Out

It looks like while I was out of town and bumming around the Caribbean all sorts of big stuff went down.

When Shelly and I first arrived in San Juan I turned on the news for the first and only time. (Like I said a few days ago, it takes me a while to get out of my habits and feel like I’m on vacation.) Because this is the age of the Terror War, sure enough someone had blown something up somewhere in the world. But this wasn’t just another terrorist bomb. The former prime minister of Lebanon was assassinated. “Ten to one Syria did it,” I said to Shelly.

Then we went out and explored the fine old Spanish colonial city and I forgot all about it. The only other event I was aware of was the sad news that Hunter S. Thompson - who once lived in San Juan - had killed himself.

Now that I’m home and have had time to get back into the news cycle all I can say is wow. It looks like some Arabs had their own 911.

Lebanonprotest1.gif

Lebanonprotest2.gif

I’ve been wanting to say something about this for the past couple of days, but I’ve been playing catch-up at the same time and haven’t come up with anything particularly original. So instead I’ll link to Mark Steyn who does a fine job explaining what’s going on in the new Middle East.
Consider just the past couple of days' news: not the ever more desperate depravity of the floundering "insurgency", but the real popular Arab resistance the car-bombers and the head-hackers are flailing against: the Saudi foreign minister, who by remarkable coincidence goes by the name of Prince Saud, told Newsweek that women would be voting in the next Saudi election. "That is going to be good for the election," he said, "because I think women are more sensible voters than men."

Four-time Egyptian election winner - and with 90 per cent of the vote! - President Mubarak announced that next polling day he wouldn't mind an opponent. Ordering his stenographer to change the constitution to permit the first multi-choice presidential elections in Egyptian history, His Excellency said the country would benefit from "more freedom and democracy". The state-run TV network hailed the president's speech as a "historical decision in the nation's 7,000-year-old march toward democracy". After 7,000 years on the march, they're barely out of the parking lot, so Mubarak's move is, as they say, a step in the right direction.

Meanwhile in Damascus, Boy Assad, having badly overplayed his hand in Lebanon and after months of denying that he was harbouring any refugee Saddamites, suddenly discovered that - wouldja believe it? - Saddam's brother and 29 other bigshot Baghdad Baathists were holed up in north-eastern Syria, and promptly handed them over to the Iraqi government.

And, for perhaps the most remarkable development, consider this report from Mohammed Ballas of Associated Press: "Palestinians expressed anger on Saturday at an overnight suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis and threatened a fragile truce, a departure from former times when they welcomed attacks on their Israeli foes."

No disrespect to Associated Press, but I was disinclined to take their word for it. However, Charles Johnson, whose Little Green Footballs website has done an invaluable job these past three years presenting the ugly truth about Palestinian death-cultism, reported that he went hunting around the internet for the usual photographs of deliriously happy Gazans dancing in the street and handing out sweets to celebrate the latest addition to the pile of Jew corpses - and, to his surprise, couldn't find any.

Why is all this happening? Answer: January 30. Don't take my word for it, listen to Walid Jumblatt, big-time Lebanese Druze leader and a man of impeccable anti-American credentials: "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Berlin Wall has fallen."
I wouldn’t say the Berlin Wall has fallen. I won’t say that until it looks like the Terror War has come to an end. But perhaps this is the end of the beginning. At least it’s the beginning of a new and interesting chapter. The Brett Scowcrofts and Henry Kissingers of the world think it’s a lousy idea to destabilize tyrannical parts of the globe. This week reminds me – in spades – why I just can’t subscribe to their worldview.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 1, 2005 07:24 PM

Comments

Now that I’m home and have had time to get back into the news cycle all I can say is wow. It looks like some Arabs had their own 911.

From Walid Jumblat, the opposition leader in Lebanon:

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45575-2005Feb22.html

and

"Some hopeful Lebanese observers believe that the Assad regime has pushed its luck too far with Hariri's murder and will pay the consequences. Europe and the United States, these optimists hold, will make good on their promise that political assassinations will signal an "irrevocable divorce with the international community," and that, unlike his predecessors, the current American president has the grit to stand up to Syria."

http://slate.msn.com/id/2113566/

Posted by: Carlos at March 1, 2005 07:32 PM

Neil MacFarquhar wrote an interesting piece in the NYTimes on 2/27 about the Egyptian reform announcement. He writes that the reforms may be mostly PR and no major changes will really occur, done only to appease the US. It is a step in the right direction - even if it's a very small step.

What is exciting to me is all of the positive movements around the world after 1/30. Maybe Egypt won't change much this year - but it may change more in the future. At least they are moving a little. Maybe Lebanon and Syria will change faster. Remember, change can take time - it took Poland about 10 years to go from unrest with Solidarity to elections in the 1980's.

Exciting times. I'm optimistic.

Posted by: Brian at March 1, 2005 08:17 PM

On the Daily Show, Jon Stewart interviewed Nancy Soderberg, who just wrote a book called “The Superpower Myth”. She’s a former US ambassador and a Democrat.

The book is basically about how Bush and the neocons are doing everything wrong, but she and Jon had to admit that Lebanon and Egypt were proof that Bush may have done something right. Soderberg did try to claim that this push for Democracy was the result of Syria’s aggression, but even she had to admit that the Iraqi election must have made people in the Middle East a lot bolder.

It’s interesting to note that she said something like ‘as a Democrat, you don’t want anything good to happen under the Bush administration, but as an American, you do.’

In any case, she may have picked a bad time to publicize her book. I hope Bush did do something right, and this is the beginning of the end of the current war...

Posted by: mary at March 1, 2005 08:52 PM

I've told youth that I've met that the best way to show support as patriots for this war is to go to Jamaica for a few years and learn to play guitar. The battle for democracy in the mideast is simply too important, too much depends on it.

Posted by: lukes at March 1, 2005 09:52 PM

Lukes,

One more "chickenhawk" comment and I'm kicking you out. I really should not have to babysit people who are clearly older than me. I have better things to do with my time, seriously.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 1, 2005 10:31 PM

So then Zbigniew Brzezinski's OK? How's that trick knee these days?

Posted by: SM at March 1, 2005 10:31 PM

I wonder if Walid Jumblatt's attitudes towards the United States are going to change now. He was last in the news for wishing that Wolfowitz had died and cheering the shuttle Columbia crash that killed an Israeli astronaut.

http://www.highclearing.com/archivesuo/week_2005_02_20.html#005934

When these countries overthrow their strongmen there's going to be new problems for us. But just as I'd rather be faced with Al Qaeda terrorism than Russian ICBMs I have to imagine the problems will be much less.

Posted by: Macky S at March 1, 2005 10:40 PM

I think the Berlin Wall comparison is apt. That started it all. It didn't get better immediately. Russia got stuck halfway.

This will take years also, but it's begun.

"It’s interesting to note that she said something like ‘as a Democrat, you don’t want anything good to happen under the Bush administration, but as an American, you do.’"

Wow. She actually said that. I hope someone saves a video clip of that.

Posted by: Yehudit at March 2, 2005 12:15 AM

How about the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq? Not to mention those horribly crippled, or the Americans who have suffered the same fate as well.

Nice of y'll to decide their deaths were worth it. Wonder if they'd agree.

And for those of you who aren't math-challenged, here is an algebra problem for you: let x = the # of Americans killed on 9/11, and n = just some integer. If nx = the # of civilians killed by the US military in the War on Terror since 9/11, just what is "n" these days, then?

And lastly, a classic that still has not lost its appeal or validity: Where are those WMDs, anyway?

Posted by: x at March 2, 2005 02:53 AM

I don't think it's fair to Kissinger to put him in the same bracket with Brzezinski. In essence he has supported Bush's endeavor in the Middle East.

Posted by: Michael at March 2, 2005 03:30 AM

Dear Mr. X,

At this point, I think I speak for many. I don't give a rhodent's gluteus maximus about the WMD. I also don't care that Columbus never reached Asia. I also don't care that Mr. Nobel never achieved a satisfying, mutually enjoyable relationship with the cheezy slut he wasted so much of his life chasing. I don't care that Hendrik Hudson never found the Northwest Passage, but he did find the Hudson River. Two Hundred years after the Boston Tea Party, your average Bostonian is probably paying a much higher sales tax on tea than the Brittish ever contemplated imposing. Not living in Taxachussetts, I'll guess they pay about the same 8% we pay here in the East Bay. Taxes forever eradicated? No. Freedom achieved. Yes. I'm okay with that.

Bay Area Hawk

Posted by: Bay Area Hawk at March 2, 2005 05:13 AM

" The Brett Scowcrofts and Henry Kissingers of the world think it’s a lousy idea to destabilize tyrannical parts of the globe."

How odd...I don't remember Kissinger bad mouthing Bush's policy in the last five years. I do remember many, many Democrats and just about every Lefist bashing it for the very reasons you describe....

As you know, a lot has changed in the world since the 1970s. I know you know that, which is why it is weird to see you write stuff like this (Kissinger is such as lame boogy-man for 2005!)

Posted by: Pike at March 2, 2005 06:05 AM

"How about the tens of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq?"

Your assumption is that the US killed them and not the "insurgent" Islamist terrorists and Baathist national socialists.

Your assumption is both incorrect and treasonous.

Posted by: Pike at March 2, 2005 06:08 AM

"The mood, though, is that of bitterness , pain and sorrow as we watch the bodies of our young people being ferried in wooden carts like the fresh meet of carcasses in a slaughterhouse. Holy anger is swelling up, not only against the perpetrators, but also against all who seek to find excuses, glorify the foul murderers by such appellations as “insurgents” or worst still “resistors” and such like; against the theorists and the “commentators”; against anybody who even shows indifference to such heinous butchery"----Alaa

From an Iraqi blogger.Couldn't agree more.Perhaps those who want to know what the Iraqis really think,might pay more attention to events out of Iraq,and less to their favourite talking head.Oh wait,that would perhaps interfere with the 'internal narrative'playing 24-7 in their insular universes.
Never mind.

Full Text Of Post By The 'Messopotamian'

Posted by: dougf at March 2, 2005 06:40 AM

There are enough good, serious comments here.

What I want to talk about is all of these HOT Lebanese chicks that we are seeing in the pictures of the demonstrations. I can't be the only one noticing this, no?

Posted by: john pike at March 2, 2005 06:50 AM

What I want to talk about is all of these HOT Lebanese chicks that we are seeing in the pictures of the demonstrations. I can't be the only one noticing this, no?---JP

No you are not !!!
I am guessing that they must be Lebanese Christians,as I have some difficulty believing that they represent mainstream Islam.Lebanon used to be the cultural hot-spot of the ME,and perhaps,based upon these images,might well become so again.
Fingers crossed !!

Posted by: dougf at March 2, 2005 06:58 AM

x,

I think your issue is less with the commenters here on Michael's site and more with the citizens of Lebanon. After all, it is they who think it is "worth it." They are the one protesting when the soldiers with guns say 'you cannot protest.'

Posted by: Publius Rex at March 2, 2005 07:18 AM

Michael,

I know you dislike Juan Cole, and his anti-Israeli comments drive me nuts, but I also think he has a lot of information and insight into Lebanon/Syria. You might want to read some of the history that he has posted about those countries in the last day or two. It gave me a different perspective on what is going on in Lebanon, and it a different perspective than what you are presenting.

Posted by: miriam at March 2, 2005 07:21 AM

miriam -

if you want to know what’s going on in the Middle East and specifically Lebanon, here are two Lebanese bloggers at Ecce Libano and Across the Bay.

Speaking of a different perspective, both of these genuine experts on Lebanon consistently disagree with Arabist Juan Cole.

The conflict in the Middle East isn't just between democracy and oppression - the conflict is also between democracy and the current Islamist/Ba'thist push towards Arabization (see the Ecce Libano post).

The Islamist/Ba'thist alliance is also financing the current Arab war against Israel, which may explain why Juan Cole favors the Islamist/Ba'thist alliance.

The Lebanese (and the Kurds, and Arab Christian groups), for the most part, favor democracy. Michael and many of the posters here favor democracy. That may account for the different perspectives.

Posted by: mary at March 2, 2005 08:03 AM

Yehudit – I visited the Daily Show site, and the clip of the Soderberg interview wasn’t up yet. I’ll check later.

They did have this Hitch interview posted, which I missed the first time around.

Posted by: mary at March 2, 2005 08:10 AM

To All (re attractive Lebanese protesters):

It's a well-known law in all political conflicts that the side that attractive young women migrate to in large numbers is the one with the "Big Mo." (All politics is local). I sincerely doubt that the Hizbollah guerrilas and Syrian Baathists could produce anything like the hot chicks of the Cedar Revolution. Also, it helps a lot when you're actually happy--ugly people are suddenly not so bad, and attractive people are dynamite.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at March 2, 2005 09:33 AM

About the Jon Stewart interview - James Taranto wrote it up in Opinion Journal:

Soderberg said: "Well, I think, you know, as a Democrat, you don't want anything nice to happen to the Republicans, and you don't want them to have progress. But as an American, you hope good things would happen. I think the way to look at it is, they can't credit for every good thing that happens, but they need to be able to manage it. I think what's happening in Lebanon is great, but it's not necessarily directly related to the fact that we went into Iraq militarily."

Taranto says: "We've long been skeptical of Jon Stewart, but color us impressed. He managed to ambush this poor woman brutally, in a friendly interview. She was supposed to be promoting her book, and instead he got her to spend the entire interview debunking it (at least if we understood the book's thesis correctly from the very brief discussion of it up top)."

Posted by: mary at March 2, 2005 09:55 AM

Oh look. A web site just 4 U!
www.stiftungleostrauss.com/t00324fpt036/index.html

Posted by: name at March 2, 2005 09:56 AM

"Your assumption is both incorrect and treasonous."

Nice open minded commenters you have here, chickenhawk dick.

Posted by: name at March 2, 2005 10:00 AM

"I am guessing that they must be Lebanese Christians,as I have some difficulty believing that they represent mainstream Islam"

Cool, racist and sexist too!. You have the bestest of friends here, chickenhawk dick. Was the carribean comfy?

Posted by: name at March 2, 2005 10:04 AM

It's a great time. My Lebanese friend was planning on moving back home until the assassination of Hariri. The assassination terrorized her into changing her mind, even though she hates being a wayward expat. However, as events unfold, she gradually changes her mind back to going home. What a century already!

Posted by: Jim at March 2, 2005 10:14 AM

I saw hot Arab Muslim women in Tunis who dressed like they were French. It ain't all Saudi out there in Araby, folks.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2005 10:25 AM

"Name" is banned for trolling.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2005 10:26 AM

[Your assumption is both incorrect...]

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/9753603.htm

"Operations by U.S. and multinational forces and Iraqi police are killing twice as many Iraqis - most of them civilians - as attacks by insurgents, according to statistics compiled by the Iraqi Health Ministry and obtained exclusively by Knight Ridder."

This was before Fallujah.

And everyone knows the "Iraqi police" are worthless.

[...and treasonous.]

Uh-huh.

Posted by: x at March 2, 2005 10:30 AM

Sigh. A person is not "treasonous" because they might happen to be wrong about something. Don't make me kick anyone else out of here today.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2005 10:34 AM

Back possibly on target, I've got this theory that a great lagging indicator of whether an action was good or bad for a country would be to look at the flow of refugees.

Anyone want to take bets on whether, on the whole, more Iraqis are moving back than moving out? Anyone? How about on Afghanis?

So we've "destabilized" the region: are people fleeing the destabilized countries, or coming back to fight for their homes? How is this dynamic playing out in the Cedar Revolution? Are people returning to Beirut, or fleeing?

(Of course, the nature of those moving has to be considered as well. The Syrian moving to Baghdad with the intention of self-detonating is a data point qualitatively different than the guy going back to re-open his TV repair shop.)

There are real-world ways to determine if a strategy has increased the common good of the world. I wish we were seeing more numbers that might shed light on the question and heard a lot fewer theories, cliches, and cherry-picked anecdotes.

Posted by: Mark Poling at March 2, 2005 10:48 AM

LOL! Poor Michael.

Posted by: Carlos at March 2, 2005 11:00 AM

" A person is not "treasonous" because they might happen to be wrong about something."

But what if they know it is wrong, but say it anyway to purposely aid the enemies of the United States (and aid the enemies of liberals and democrats in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Lebennon, etc.)?

Posted by: Pike at March 2, 2005 11:23 AM

Pike,

Any American who deliberately helps our enemies is guilty of treason. Unless you have evidence that someone in my comments section is doing exactly that, I need you to refrain from calling them treasonous. It is corrosive to civilized discourse.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 2, 2005 11:37 AM

'Any American who deliberately helps our enemies is guilty of treason. Unless you have evidence that someone in my comments section is doing exactly that, I need you to refrain from calling them treasonous. It is corrosive to civilized discourse'--MJT

It is also potentially quite dangerous.Treaon is not(well nowadays,I'm not so sure),a term to be bandied about carelessly.Being a traitor is NOT a good thing.
That said,perhaps we do need a new term to describe that actions(of some) that Pike considers so offensive.They are not treasonous,nor are they seditious exactly,BUT they are something other than just good clean fun.
Any ideas?

Posted by: dougf at March 2, 2005 12:23 PM

You seem to think I mean "treason" in a legal sense (which is why you mention the word "guilty"), implying I want to lock the poster up. But I am not the government or FBI. I am using the word not in a legal sense, but in the dictionary sense for someone who is betraying their country (and its ideals/policies) by helping its enemies.

Maybe dougf is correct, we need a new word for the act of knowingly posting enemy propaganda in public space which might lead to more executions of liberals and democrats in the Middle East and/or Americans. I used "treason" but I am open to other suggestions.

Posted by: Pike at March 2, 2005 12:31 PM

I generally think of people like x as enablers. Certainly not treasonous, but not helping either.

I'll save my treason/facism and the devolution of language rant for another day.

Posted by: Court at March 2, 2005 12:35 PM

I humbly suggest "contentious"

Posted by: Shawn at March 2, 2005 12:39 PM

Any American who deliberately helps our enemies is guilty of treason.

Michael,

how do you define "help"? Does he have to personally strap on the dynamite vest? Or can someone's spoken words that encourage our enemies also "help" that enemy?

I think the latter.

So I guess we need to look at the person's intentions. Even though his words aid the enemy, is that the intention? If yes, then it's treason. If no, then he's just another misguided Liberal.

Posted by: Carlos at March 2, 2005 12:51 PM

great thread...for the record, the other pike is the name-caller. I am the sexist.

Posted by: john pike at March 2, 2005 01:30 PM

Great point, Carlos -

"Or can someone's spoken words that encourage our enemies also "help" that enemy?"

We are killing individuals on a retail basis in order to allow the people trapped in the same country a chance to live a free and democratic existence.

The weapon that will kill the mentality that has generated transnational terrorists/jihadis is not one that we can use. We can carve out a bloody breathing space, but the final act of victory will not be by our hand. I have never doubted this.

The ultimate weapon is hope. In the end, victory will be bought ONLY with the sacrifices and efforts of the people who live in those countries. They who have been victims of the "stability" so sought after by the governments of more "progressive" nations over the last century are being asked to take a huge chance.

It doesn't do them, or us who support democratization as a solution, to fire up CNN et al and see the struggle reduced to a domestic political pissing contest.

We can laugh at Senators Byrd or Kennedy, or Representatives Pelosi, Reid, or Hinchey making asses out of themselves on TV. The people we are asking to stand up and sieze freedom live in fear of their lives, and they know that without our presence the dark would flood back instantly.

They have damned good historical precedent not to trust us. Ask the boat people. The Cambodians. How about the Marsh Arabs and the Kurds even more recently?

There's unhelpful, then seditious and treasonous. Treason has a huge bar to clear, but seditious is applicable in spades to a lot of the rhetoric those bozos routinely employ.

The only sedition isn't called loudly and often is because we are conditioned to equate freedom of speech with immunity from criticism. That's not a bad thing in itself, but the effort to win this war is most certainly harmed by the more outrageous statements on the part of the folks I mentioned above, and their followers/enablers out there in media and pop culture.

G.W. Bush has stated that the U.S. is ready to support Lebanese elections. Just how do you think Assad feels about that? Chirac just spent a week with Bush. And he has pledged france's help to the same end.

Anyone see a pattern here?

I've touched on some of the last few days' events on my own humble digs. Feel free to check them out. My name is my link.

America has lined up with some thoroughly odious characters across the years. We can't change history, but we can make good and principled decisions today.

We fought and won world war two by aligning with a monster who ultimately killed more of his own people than Hitler did; by a factor of three, by some estimates. That was live or die.

Today, our political minority would deny democracy rising for over a billion people simply to validate their worldview that Bushy McChimphitler is what their fingerpaints, banners, and giant puppetheads all say he is.

Fucking sad, isn't it?

This isn't politics. It is life or death, for us and for millions of people across scores of countries.

The favorable if restrained noises seeping from folks like the NYT editorial board and even some dem politicians that maybe the elections in various places and the popular movement in Lebanon might not be ALL bad... and MIGHT just have something to do with Bush... are heartening. They tend to be drowned out by the clatter of moving goalposts elsewhere, but that's been the routine for five years now.

I got to shake hands with a Utah NG soldier today. We were shopping for shooting supplies. I got some ROK .30 caliber ball for my SHTF stash and he was picking up a bipod for his unit's next M14 rifle rebuild. Freedom will end this war; folks like the sergeant I met will be bringing hope in the form of 168gr boattail match rounds until that state is achieved.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 2, 2005 01:59 PM

My thinking is that aiding the enemy with words is giving away sensitive data like troop movements, supply line routes, camp locations, the like. That's treason.

Asking how many Iraqis have died as a result of Coalition operations isn't treasonous nor seditious. Heck, it's not even unhelpful. It's noisy, though. The obvious rebuttal to that is how many died under Saddam and how many have died from insurgent operations. I'll bet that it's a much higher number.

Of course, what is unhelpful in this instance is answering the charge that your assumption is incorrect by linking to an article dated 9/25/2004.

But I digress...the fact is the best way to counter free speech is with more free speech. Trying to stifle the speech of a select group results in two things:

1) Hypocrisy. How can you, on the one hand, be supportive of the spread of democracy and freedom while on the other, limiting free speech?

2) By stifling free speech, you don't give your opposition the chance to hang themselves with plenty of rope.

Posted by: Shawn at March 2, 2005 02:52 PM

“I know you dislike Juan Cole, and his anti-Israeli comments drive me nuts..”

Respect must be earned. Everything Juan Cole says should be taken with a huge grain of salt. Let’s get something straight right here and now: I do not claim to be a specialist in Middle Eastern affairs, but my track is vastly superior to Cole’s. Many others also have the right to make this claim. We truly have both the moral and the logical right to treat Cole like some sort of intellectual punk.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 2, 2005 03:10 PM

I humbly suggest "contentious"

I'm partial to 'perfidious,' myself.

Posted by: Achillea at March 2, 2005 03:32 PM

David,

but Juan Cole speaks arabic, and you don't.

Posted by: Carlos at March 2, 2005 04:31 PM

I have to go with Achillea with "perfidious" as the most fitting adjective.

I haven't made any noises about stifling anyone.

The fact remains that to me the most vociferous opponents of our campaign to counter terror are a lot more motivated to drag down Bush first, republicans second, than they are concerned with the little stuff like the potential for more attacks against us or the possibility that we might just effect the mideast peace that has been a disastrous "process" for ALL of our adult lives, and long before that for most of us in this current argument.

We can win without a hundred percent monolithic public support. Maybe not as easily, but it can be done. Classy people with a sense of duty and proportion might think twice about alluding to Hitler on the Senate floor, or have a staffer hide the Scotch before going out to the same venue to accuse the president of lying.

If their motivation was based on higher prinicples I wouldn't mind nearly so much as I do. It's not, so I have no reservations about labelling them as unhelpful, unpatriotic, and basically disconnected from the process that will, in the end, bring victory.

We are just too rich for our own good. You measure decadence by the useless luxuries you accumulate.

We have a whole party that fits that description. At least for now.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 2, 2005 04:42 PM

“David,

but Juan Cole speaks arabic, and you don't.”

Yup, you’ve got that right. I don’t even know how to say Good Morning in Arabic. Well, it’s indeed nice that Cole can say something utterly ridiculous in that language.

One merely needs to visit Cole’s blog. The man’s track record is abysmal. It truly is something to cause him a great deal of shame.

Posted by: David Thomson at March 2, 2005 04:51 PM

I have to go with Achillea with "perfidious" as the most fitting adjective---TMJUtah

As do I.Excellent choice.

perfidious ---- deliberately faithless; treacherous; deceitful;dishonest

Posted by: dougf at March 2, 2005 06:01 PM

There's nothing of the "illegal" about perfidious.

It is what it is.

Some indictments don't need a judge.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 2, 2005 07:28 PM

So typical of the blog world. Lebanon is going through what is probably one of the most optimistic developments in modern Middle East history, arguably since 1914, and people in the US just use it to point fingers at each other and cry "treason." It looks pretty obvious that both the left and the right have made some pretty stupid statements over the preceding 3 years. The US Left is clearly wrong on the impact that Iraq would have on the middle east. It does look like the election is having an effect. The US Right has been consistently wrong on Al-Jazeera. Arguably a less venal sin, but satellite television has played, and is playing, a huge role in breaking the isolation of the Arab world. Al Jazeera says a lot of ugly and stupid things about America, but hey, in a free Arab world you are going to hear a lot of those opinions. The Bush administration and the Al Jazeera folks may hate each other, but ironically they seem to be furthering each others' agendas.

Posted by: Vanya at March 3, 2005 07:22 AM

Vanya,

Let me tell you exactly how Al Jazeera is "contributing":

They are acting as the Sinn Fein/Joseph Goebbels of the old line of Arab despotism. The value of Al Jazeera to the emergence of democracy in the Arab world is that the inmates of the asylum that are equipped to access Jazeera are also equipped to access other media and judge for themselves just what the real story might be.

Information. Marketplace. Competition. Where ideas compete, winners emerge and losers fade away.

Al Jazeera is a slickly packaged PR organ for a dying paradigm. They are the modern version of the arsenal of Constantinople - a copy of a western institution (in this case, the arsenal of Venice in the 1500's) they have created in hope that they can compete materially without changing their political institutions.

The western Left is not the only entity that selectively parses history to arrive at losing strategies.

Over a week I may spend two or three hours reading Al Jazeera stories. They are always couched in terms that frame coalition efforts to project democracy as an extension of the classic crusader/Zionist conspiracy toward empire. They always do get the best pictures of murders, too. Pretty easy to do when their producers are on every jihadi's rolodex.

We are going to change the Arab/Muslim world - make no mistake about that. But when they are self governing, we will be GONE. The price they must pay for democracy is an end to suicide bombings, secret police, and dictators. They must be free so that we can be neighbors and trading partners and not enemies. For them to continue existence as brutally repressed tribesmen increasingly divorced from an increasingly democratic and technological world is not an option. There is no space, no seperation, great enough to keep the fallout from their world of despots and desperation from washing over our lives.

I don't want an American world. I borrow from Tom Grey his sentiment of a World Without Dictators; that will do nicely, thank you.

Posted by: TmjUtah at March 3, 2005 08:14 AM

Are you a Mad Scribbler, Blogger, or Media Hound?

If you are, you MUST visit:

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A Quarterly Blog -- yes, that's what I said, "quarterly" -- and our Spring, 2005, issue is devoted to the story of the looting of the Iraq National Museum.

Brought to you by the founding member of Iraqi Bloggers Central.

Check it out.

Expect new articles over the next three months on the main story and related issues.

*

Posted by: Jeffrey -- New York at March 3, 2005 11:10 AM

Not to appeal to authority or anything, but Orwell once observed that, objectively, the pacifist favors the fascist.
It's a pretty obvious point, but appealing to authority is appealing and Orwell was, in several ways, perfectly positioned to know.
Intent does not enter the equation, although Orwell hastened to insist that a pacifist would not deliberately help the fascist enemy. Orwell was a Pollyanna.
Nevertheless, the result results regardless of intent.
Taking it a step further, let's say the pacifist is told just exactly how he is favoring the fascist, encouraging the fence-sitters among the fascists' ruling elite, discouraging preparedness among the good guys thus doubling the encouragement of the fascists and making it more likely the facists will think they have a good chance of pulling it off, and even if the good guys win, their pacifist-promoted lack of preparedness will make the thing worse than it might have been.
And he keeps it up.
What then?

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 3, 2005 12:04 PM

Michael, the Berlin Wall has fallen -- there has been a free and fair election in an Islamic Arab country. But the Berlin Wall was not keeping commies in power in China, or Vietnam.

The Islamic Middle East does NOT have the Christian Western-Civ basic support for Human Rights, nor for democracy. So their rejection of dictatorships (thanks for copying my best idea TmjUtah -- I urge all to make it their own) is a bigger jump. And is nearly certain to have more uneven consequences. But much cheaper communications tech, combined with a more highly globalized economy, means they can quickly catch up on the "coolness" of human rights anti-dictatorship.

Michael, please help lead the Dems towards supporting democracy wherever it's not, now. Syria next? Great. Or Iran, or N. Korea, or Saudi Arabia -- fine; if "feasible".
I suggest the Democratic Party start pushing for the US to declare war on Sudan -- to stop the genocide, even without the child-raping UN "global test".

Mr. X, your point may seem self-evident to you, but it is intellectually cowardly. How many American deaths was booting Saddam worth? Zero, or more than zero? What is your number? You are a (trolling?) coward to ask about costs without stating what it's worth to you. Though Michael, too, perhaps like most wise folk, also refuses to state any numbers.

I always add my own numbers; less than 2500 Americans killed means Bush gets an "A". At some point the intellectual cowardice of complaining about the "high price", without a willingness to place "any value" on the Iraq war, should get too tedious for neo-trolls.

Posted by: Tom Grey at March 3, 2005 02:00 PM

Lukes: I've told youth that I've met that the best way to show support as patriots for this war

Piss off Lukes, the youth of this country are driving this thing a lot harder and further than you know. I'm sorry CNN and MTV don't like to cover it awhole lot, but it's true.

MJT,

This is OT, but I picked that same picture of the Lebanese woman, off of CNN. I had to because, although I can't completely say why, she is one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen. I think it's something behind her eyes. I still find reason to look at her picture from time to time. I am humbled by the movements in the Ukraine, Iraq, and Lebanon.

Posted by: Mike T. at March 3, 2005 03:09 PM

She does look determined, doesn't she?
I guess just figuring out you've been hosed all your life and now you can do something about it, all that coming out all at once, might have an effect.
Especially if you've self-censored your thoughts in order to keep them from slipping out so a "friend" might rat you out to the secret police.
Now, let's think about Beirut this time next year. And a US soldier--single, of course--getting some leave time there. It used to be called the Paris of the Levant. Hmm.....

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at March 3, 2005 04:36 PM

Michael, I just had a thought. Since all this good stuff happened while you were gone, maybe you ought to leave more often. Just a thought ;)

Posted by: RSwan at March 3, 2005 05:27 PM

My heart is in my throat over Lebanon. While my wife is a third-generation South African now living in Canada, she is of Lebanese extraction, and cares for that part of the world. And some of our best friends are Syrian-Lebanese Christians. I so hope all of this turmoil works out well for Lebanon. Not just that an honest democracy might be reinstalled, but that Lebanon might enjoy both the rule of law and inter-community peace.

Posted by: Gideon Strauss at March 4, 2005 10:01 AM

test

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 11, 2005 06:56 PM
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