Thursday, June 30, 2005

Pride of Braintree

Fire of Liberty
Party of One
Another book that should be on your reading list this summer is James Grant's masterful book John Adams: Party of One which provides a greater insight into on of our 1st Vice-President, 2nd President as well as one of most vocal founding fathers. If you've read David McCulloughh's book on Adams, you'll find this book to be yet another valuable guide to the wonderful life of a powerful voice in the founding of this nation. So get over your fears of a 500 page book and plop down the cash at Amazon and get to reading. If your still wary, just read this review by Steve Ferrell over at Enter Stage Right.

Lord Nelson would be disappointed

Fire of Liberty

While reading the various accounts on the 200th anniversary of Lord Nelson's brilliant victory of the French/Spanish armada at Trifalgar, I kept on reading about the wacky things that the event organizers ——— mostly European at that ——— took in order to keep from "offending" others. For one thing, the organizers presented the whole event as a gathering of like minded navies coming together to demonstrate how they can work together rather than a celebration Nelson whipping the French navy in 1805. Yet another demonstration of how silly the EU group-thinkers can be is that during the re-enactment of the battle the various ships were dubbed "blue" and "red" rather than being France and the UK. While Lord Nelson's legacy might have been hindered by the Euro- winnies and their pc love fest, he still has a great admiration of various historians, people and journalists throughout the world who realize what the victory at Trafalgar brought about. Amongst the various individuals to express his admiration for Lord Nelson is Michael Young, opinion editor of Lebanon's Daily Star, who has a penned a great column over at Just take a look:
To this and other affirmations of goodwill, Anna Tribe, Nelson's 75-year-old great, great, great-granddaughter, replied poppycock!: "I am sure the French and Spanish are adult enough to appreciate we did win that battle. I am anti political correctness——very much against it. It makes fools of us."

One can applaud Tribe's refreshing bluntness, but with Nelsonian precision she demolished something else: the latest manifestation of the increasing righteousness pervading common European projects in recent years. Indeed, where there is excessive solicitude, there is also moral smugness. Since the Maastricht Treaty in particular, and leading into the most recent round of debate over the European constitution, those opposed to greater EU integration have been regarded as ethically suspect. That's partly because for a time the main source of opposition was the far-right, deploying jarring nationalist slogans, deploring EU expansion and closer ties between member states. This impression was only partially dented by the revolt of a segment of the French Socialist Party against the constitution, because prior to the referendum the critics managed to sell their desire for a more "social" Europe as a call for a more moral one.

Righteousness is a peculiarity of grand political ventures: It stems from insistence that when states and societies move towards broad common understanding, it is unbecoming to buck the trend. Sticking to the consensus, no matter what happens, becomes a byword for achieving the greater good. In this narrative, the mad metastasis of European institutions, rules, employees, and schemes has embodied the collective will. Denouncing this, or questioning it validity, has often been interpreted by Europhiles as spitting on EU harmony. Britain, where fears of an overbearing Europe remain, is still mistrusted for its heresy; Jacobin France, more enthusiastic towards centralized power, was frequently the one questioning British commitment. Hence the irony that it was the French who killed the European constitution.
One day the Europeans will eventually learn the error of their ways and disregard all of this pc nonsense before its too late.

UK Naval Dearth?

Fire of Liberty

The World renowned British historian John Keegan has an excellent Op/Ed in The Daily Telegraph(registration required) marking the 200 year anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. As with most of Keegan's work, you can always be assured to learn the importance of the event and how it has impacted the flow of history. Another great aspect about Sir Keegan's wonderful pieces and books is the fact that he always finds ways to relate past events to the present situation as a way to push a overarching strategic assessment. Keegan notes that while the British government has put a significant amount of money out to celebrate Lord Nelson's rout of the French/Spanish fleet but seems to have forgotten the fact that the British naval fleet is slowly but surely crumbling before our eyes. Just read what Keegan noted in his Op/Ed:
The Government, while reducing the fleet to its smallest size since the middle of the 18th century, is committed to building two large aircraft carriers. The plans for these ships have got no further than the paper stage. The two should be launched by 2012. Until they appear, our shores are defended by the veterans of the Falklands and with fewer naval aircraft than we flew then. The cost of the carrier programmes is £5 billion for the hulls alone, twice that for their weapons and aircraft. Should financial difficulty afflict the nation in the next seven years, it is only too easy to guess where the Treasury's axe will fall. Gordon Brown shows no enthusiasm for defence expenditure.

Charity begins at home. This week's events at Portsmouth should remind the British people that our future and our survival as a nation do not depend upon winning the approval of moribund pop stars and unthinking television producers but on our ability, with the assistance of our allies, to defend ourselves.

In 1805, the British depended on nobody but themselves. We cannot return to those days. The Americans, however, are unlikely to go on providing us with a naval umbrella if we make no effort to join the effort of common defence. Nelson is still a hero to American sailors. Let us pray the day does not come when his name is forgotten by our transatlantic allies. England should expect that New Labour remembers its duty.
I just hope wiser individuals within Labour will stand up and call for the end of UK naval decline and pushes forward a spending increase instead of the welfare state clap-trap that the seems to sell to the people. If they continue down the current path, they won't have a welfare state to depend on.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Canada's Founding

Fire of Liberty

While we will hark back this July 4th to the days when our Founding Fathers declared their independence from Great Britain, the people of Canada will also mark their founding come this Friday. In a rather interesting column in Canada's National Post, David Frum revealed that unlike the founding of the US which was based on the God given rights of Life, Liberty and the Persuit of Happiness, Canada's founding was based on a simple act known as the British North America Act of 1867 that established just another system of government. Here's a peek at Frum's column:
Unlike the prime minister of Italy, he can enjoy the power of an absolute majority of the House of Commons with as little as 37% of the popular vote--as Jean Chretien did in 1993.

Unlike the prime minister of Australia or the chancellor of Germany, he need not worry about an elected and independent upper chamber defying his edicts.

Although it is true that the prime minister of Canada must contend with a dozen provincial and territorial chief executives who rule their domains as absolutely as he rules his, it is equally true that he has most of the taxing power--while they must bear the responsibility for running the programs that those taxes fund.

And as Canadians have just learned, the prime minister is no longer restrained even by the most basic and fundamental rule of Westminster-style government: the need to command a majority of the House of Commons. He can disregard a whole series of non-confidence votes--can deny a majority of the House the right even to propose non-confidence motions--and keep governing until he has reassembled a new majority by hook or by crook.

All told, the job of prime minister of Canada bears a much closer resemblance to that of, say, president of Mexico than to that of any of its First World counterparts.
Thank God we live in a country where on our day of independence we can feel proud about our rich history of people fighting for freedom. So take time this July 4th to thank our lucky stars that people like Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Ben Franklin and countless others fough to found this nation on ideals rather than a vote by parliament.

Iran: True Colors Shine Through

Fire of Liberty

It seems that the new president of Iran has been in the Islamic Revolutionary club way back in 1979. According to a recent article in The Times various sources claim that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was one of the students who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran and held some 60 people some 444 days during the Islamic Revolution. Just look at the photo above and decide for yourself. I'm finally glad that a lot more folks in the media have realized that the Islamic Republic of Iran is once and for all the tyrannical nature of these mullah's with the promotion of a fellow tyrant to the post of president. I guess this is what happens when your nation is ruled by wild eyed mullah like the Supreme Religious Guide Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his fellow chums in the Council of Guardians who have the last word in what occurs throughout Iran. The best way for Iran to escape such a tyrannous regime is through the complete overhaul of the whole system starting with the all powerful yet unelected folks like Khamenei and the Council Guardians. With a true showing of its cards, the regime might have lit the match of the democracy movement, who can bring about a wind of change with a little help from the West.

Here, Here, Well Said!!!

Fire of Liberty

Jonah Goldberg has written a great column defending a "dead constitution" over the dangerous "living constitution" that various liberals (even some on the Supreme Court) seem to think we should have. It's about time someone with the talents like Goldberg to put the smackdown of such an absurdity. So lets stick to a "dead constitution" and hold firm to the document that our wise Founding Fathers put together in Philly those many years ago.

A Shame in Zimbabwe

Fire of Liberty

Kate Hoey, a Labour MP of England, has written a good Op/Ed in The Times on why silent diplomacy is not a good option in dealing with Robert Mugabe's tyrannical marauding known as Operation "Take Out the Rubbish." Hoey suggests that the various governments of Africa along with governments of the West should present a more vocal condemnation of Mugabe's actions and find a way to end such horrific actions. The world cannot sit idly by and let Zimbabwe turn into another Sudan or Somalia under Mugabe. With his Zanu-PF party controlling all the levers of government and his past and current behavior demonstrate what he's capable of doing if left to his own devices, one can only envision another Somalia, Rwanda or even worse another Sudan occurring in the farmlands of Africa. While I agree with Hoey on the fact that the nations in Africa and Europe should stand up to such actions, I believe the situation will regime an even stronger reaction which is a regime change in Zimbabwe. After twenty years of tyranny, the people of Zimbabwe deserve to relieve themselves of such a tyrant.

IED Training

Fire of Liberty

Here's a look at the training for IED's that our soldiers receive before they are dispatched to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Carry on Mr. President

Fire of Liberty

I'd have to say that its wonderful to have a a President who says what he says he's going to do and has a steely steadfastness in what he sets out on doing. In a Churchillian/Reaganesque nature, President Bush demonstrated that he's up for the fight when he stated:
America and our friends are in a conflict that demands much of us. It demands the courage of our fighting men and women … it demands the steadfastness of our allies … and it demands the perseverance of our citizens. We accept these burdens — because we know what is at stake. We fight today, because Iraq now carries the hope of freedom in a vital region of the world — and the rise of democracy will be the ultimate triumph over radicalism and terror. And we fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens — and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we will fight them there — we will fight them across the world — — and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won.

America has done difficult work before. From our desperate fight for independence, to the darkest days of a Civil War, to the hard-fought battles against tyranny in the 20th Century, there were many chances to lose our heart, our nerve, or our way. But Americans have always held firm, because we have always believed in certain truths. We know that if evil is not confronted, it gains in strength and audacity, and returns to strike us again. We know that when the work is hard, the proper response is not retreat, it is courage. And we know that this great ideal of human freedom is entrusted to us in a special way — and that the ideal of liberty is worth defending.
So keep up the fight President Bush, the American people are behind you no matter what the nuts like Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Teddy Kennedy say. Lets continue our fly-paper policy and kill the terrorists over there rather than allowing them to reach our shores.

Hail Britannia!!!

Fire of Liberty

While looking through The Times, I came across several articles here, here and here on the various events that the British are partaking in on their bicentennial celebrations of Lord Horatio Nelson's defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar. Thanks to the brave guidance of Lord Nelson, the British navy, with its 27 ships was able to destroy some 18 out of 33 ships of the French/Spanish Fleet with minor casualties and the loss of zero ships thus ending Napoleon's naval conquest of the British Isles thus opening the door for the British Empire's un-paralleled dominance over the sea from the 1800's well into WWII. So thank you Lord Nelson for your splendid victory and demonstrating the freedom will always prevail over the forces of tyranny.

Democracy in Syria?

Fire of Liberty

Arnold Beichman of the Hoover Institute has a wonderful column in yesterday's Washington Times on why Syria's Bashar Assad is yet another despot that the Middle East should be free from. As Beichman notes, Assad has to be removed from his position as dictator for life because he continues to use his iron grasp to spread death and fear throughout the region. Whether it's the continued support of the terrorists entering Iraq by refusing to secure its borders with Iraq, providing sanctuary for the terrorists in the various terror camps that dot Syria as well as the continued policy of assassinating democratic leaders and journalists of Lebanon who espouse an anti-Syrian view, Assad has demonstrated that he has as much blood on his hands as his father and his fellow Ba'athist Saddam. Beichman put it best when he noted:
I urge Miss Rice to visit Lebanon at the first possible opportunity and thus make something clear to Bashar Assad about President Bush's policies:

In addition to seeking the globalization of democracy, the American people will support existing democracies like Lebanon or democracies waiting to be born, like Iraq. America supported the rebuilding of a democratic Germany and Italy after World War II in face of the Soviet threat. A similar policy against the Syrian threat ought to be pursued in a Middle East where Arab democratic progress is just beginning to be visible.

The most important immediate action the U.S. could undertake today is to send Miss Rice on a visit to Lebanon and thereby notify Bashar Assad: One false move, brother, and you've had it, see? Any more planted auto bombs, any more assassinations of Lebanese leaders, past and present, and you will be held responsible, with or without the United Nations.

President Bush has made it clear he wants a world of democracies in order to ensure world peace. Lebanon is under the gun, a Syrian gun. With Bashar Assad as a neighbor, Lebanese democracy will always be threatened.

Mr. Bush helped rid the Iraqi people of a tyrant now in Allied custody awaiting trial for three decades of terror and murder. Bashar Assad wants to prevent the continued existence of a successful democracy next door. It is time to consider getting rid of the Assad dictatorship. What are we waiting for?
Here, Here!!!, Mr. Beichman should continue to write such pieces and keep the heat on Assad. Hopefully, the people of Syria will retire Assad soon.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Liberty Denied in China

Fire of Liberty

Peter Worthington has a good column in The Toronto Sun about the shameful nature of the Chinese government and their efforts to tamp down on the freedoms of it citizenry via the INTERNET.

First Contact

Fire of Liberty

While the cable networks are buzzing on and on about the possible retirement of Chief Justice Rehnquist or Sandra Day O'Connor (Bill Kristol's trial balloon even though Judge Bork has hinted that both could retire next week), I thought I'd focus on the summer reading season. Though there are countless books to choose from this summer, I'd like to direct you to The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, The First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805 by Richard Zacks, which provides a well written and in debth historical look at the first significant engagement between the US and the Arab world. While I've seen the book around the website and in a recent Wall Street Journal book review, I didn't have a desire to go into the bookstore and purchase the book until I read this wonderful review over at National Review Online by Michael Ledeen.

While reading Ledeen's review, I couldn't help but to think of the various writers from the isolationistic wing on the Right and various liberal politicians who time after time quipped John Adams's old adage that "America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy," during the follow-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Thankfully, Zachs has used his research powers to demonstrate that the US has indeed sought out "monsters", especially when President Jefferson sent a detachment of Marines to confront the Barbary Pirates who had been constantly attacking our ships, stealing our goods and abducting our citizens throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Though the US only sent some eight Marines into the den of the Barbary Pirates they were still able to gather a considerable army of Arab fighters (19th Century Lawrence of Arabia) to fight their way through the hot Libyan desert on their way to confront the Pasha of Barbary , only to be left alone to their own accord when President Jefferson's cleansed his hands of the matter when he decided to initiate his favorite foreign policy tool of Diplomacy. While I give a considerable amount of praise for Thomas Jefferson's role in drafting The Declaration of Independence some 229 years ago, I'd have to say that Jefferson tarnished his image in this extraordinary deference to diplomacy rather than following through with his initial plans of attacking the Pasha of Barbary. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud by destroying these water-bound 19th Century terrorists and their sanctuary, Jefferson sought a solution that might have resolved the situation in the short run it was just another moment of "Kick-the-Can" for others to solve in a future date. It rather remind me of another President named Jefferson who launched a barrage of missiles on various terrorist camps to avenge the various attacks by agents of Araby on our soldiers, civilians and possessions. I think Ledeen summed up how such approaches can lead to disaster when he noted in his review that:
America'’s honor was not rescued until the end of the War of 1812, when Steven Decatur Jr. captured an Algerian flagship, forced the local regime to promise an end to taking American slaves, and then went to Tripoli where he collected a tribute from the Bashaw and liberated ten Christian slaves. As Zacks tells us in his admirable book'’s penultimate paragraph, "ultimately, a few years after Jefferson'’s death, it was military coercion and not diplomatic finesse that ended the three-century-long reign of terror of the Barbary pirates."

Somebody might mention that to Jack Straw the next time he implores us to be patient as he appeases the ayatollahs in Tehran.
From the looks of the review, The Pirate Coast is indeed a must read for history lovers and fans of a good read. Though it's based on something some 200 years ago, Zachs shows that the choices made by these historical figures have an impact on our current actions. Seems to me Zachs has decided to ensure the reading public will not fall prey to the saying "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." So check out Zachs wonderful book.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Egypt: Democracy Needed

Fire of Liberty

Here's another reason why the status quo can't continue in places like Egypt. I think that after some fifty years under authoritarian one party rule under strong-men like Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak, the Egyptian have earned a right to practice democracy. Though the various folks in Mubarak's government and folks at the Bureau of Near-Eastern Affairs at the State Department will argue that democracy will open the door to the Muslim Brotherhood. Luckily people like Dr. Rice and President Bush realize that the desire to live in freedom is far more powerful than the intolerant Muslim Brotherhood.

Iran: The Saga Continues

Fire of Liberty

With the mullahs holding a runoff election tommorrow to determine the next president(dictator) of the Islamic Republic, I thought you'd like to see what a leading dissident in Iran has to say about the forthcoming election. During my early morning perusal of The New York Sun, I came across this article by Eli Lake with an interview with Ahmad Batebi, an Iranian dissident on the lam avoiding the clutches of the Iranian authorities. Just read what Lake had to report:
When asked for his impression of Mr. Rafsanjani, Mr.Batebi said, "He is wanted by Interpol for his role in the murder of Kurds at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin. He appealed to young people, but he has the blood of the young people on his hands in the country."

In describing Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Batebi said, "He is a founder of the Jerusalem force of the revolutionary guard. He has been nominated by the supreme leader who is concerned Rafsanjani has been too powerful." American intelligence considers the Jerusalem force as the wing of Iran's military responsible for funding and training anti-Israel terrorism.

Mr. Batebi, like many in the opposition and even several allies of the outgoing reformist president, Mohammed Khatemi, called for a boycott of last Friday's election. In the interview yesterday day, he told the Sun that the boycott was far more successful than the official voting statistics suggest.

"The people of Iran were so grateful, and there was enthusiasm to boycott the election on last Friday," he said. "A couple of the leaders of the Western country, especially President Bush and Condoleezza Rice, they issued a statement that this is an illegitimate government and it is a sham. It was a fantastic boost to the people of Iran and gave them enthusiasm to not cast their votes.

"When Western leaders like President Bush talk about human rights here, many people are losing their fear to go to the streets. We have been badly beaten before, but we can overcome this."
It's refreshing that Eli Lake can cut the jungle of distractions offered up by the regime and the MSM and get to a better source of what's going on in Iran via a true democrat like Ahmad Batebi who risks his life to knock this tyranny off it's feet. So pay no attention what you hear in the MSM about such so called election results in Iran.

Iraq: Not that Bad

Fire of Liberty

While the various Senators and Congressmen continue to wrap the knuckles of President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld and the various generals at CENT-COM about our seemingly stalled efforts in the Iraq campaign, cooler heads like Max Boot have taken a good look at the events in Iraq and has offered a more positive assessment. Boot notes in his weekly column at the Los Angeles Times that these folks stepping before the TV cameras yelling at the top of their lungs "all is lost, the end is near" when it comes to Iraq, should step back and really look at the people causing the havoc in Saddam's former tyranny. Though the MSM and the various lawmakers seem to paint the insurgency into a nation-wide force like they were in the Philippines in 1898, Malaysia in 1950's, Vietnam from 1945-1975, Boot notes that the reality is a challange but much more manageable. If you paid attention to the talking heads instead of strategic thinkers like Boot few would know:
Support for the insurgency is confined to a minority within a minority— a small portion of Sunni Arabs, who make up less than 20% of the population. The only prominent non-Sunni rebel, Muqtada Sadr, has quietly joined the political process. The 80% of the population that is Shiite and Kurdish is implacably opposed to the rebellion, which is why most of the terror has been confined to four of 18 provinces.

Unlike in successful guerrilla wars, the rebels in Iraq have not been able to control large chunks of "liberated" territory. The best they could do was to hold Fallouja for six months last year. Nor have they been able to stage successful large-scale attacks like the Viet Cong did. A major offensive against Abu Ghraib prison on April 2 ended without a single U.S. soldier killed or a single Iraqi prisoner freed, while an estimated 60 insurgents were slain.

The biggest weakness of the insurgency is that it is morphing from a war of national liberation into a revolutionary struggle against an elected government. That's a crucial difference. Since 1776, wars of national liberation have usually succeeded because nationalism is such a strong force. Revolutions against despots, from Czar Nicholas II to the shah of Iran, often succeed too, because there is no way to redress grievances within the political process. Successful uprisings against elected governments are much rarer because leaders with political legitimacy can more easily rally the population and accommodate aggrieved elements.
So if you happen to catch any of the various elected leaders on the TV or radio throwing out a calvelcade of complaints just remember that things are much more better in Iraq than these people present.

Confirm Bolton

Fire of Liberty

Former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger has an interesting column over at Forbes on why the US Senate should stop its obstruction of John Bolton. Weinberger notes that the E3 group of Germany, France and the UK have hit one roadblock after the other with its negotiations with Iran over ending its nuclear program thus leaving the US with few options in dealing with Iran. Aside from a regime change, the former defense chief notes that the next logical step is the imposition of UN sanctions on the former Persian Kingdom. The only problem is that the US lacks an effective voice in the UN as long as the Democrats man their siege against Bolton in the Senate. Weinberger probably makes a good case on the weakness of the UN when a strong US presence is absent, when he noted:
The UN has once again distinguished itself by reporting that a monthlong conference on strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which was attended by some 150 nations, had accomplished "very little." In fact, the conference couldn't even bring itself to condemn Iran for its repeated violations of the treaty.

After such a pitiful performance it's hard to understand how anyone could fail to see that we need to appoint a strong, highly intelligent ambassador to the UN, someone who is not afraid to present the U.S.' views and positions. Someone, perhaps, like John Bolton, whose very strengths are cited as reasons for denying him Senate confirmation?
So maybe members of the Senate will take the advice of such a wise sage and discontinue their blockade of John Bolton making it to the UN. We cannot continue to wander in the wilderness when major discussions like Iran, North Korea and UN reform are on the table. So, lets put him through.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Iraq: No Time for a Lull

Fire of Liberty

Rowan Scarborough has a good article in today's edition of The Washington Times on Lt. General John R. Vines, US operational commander in Iraq, assessment of the situation in Iraq and the War on Terror in general. Though General Vines admits that the transition of Iraq from a tyranny to a democracy is slowly but surely improving everyday, he also noted his increased concern about a lull in public support for the war and a stream of people calling the effort in Iraq a mess. Take a look at what Lt. General Vines has to say about such a concern:
"The United States has not been attacked again since 11 September. And so there's some questioning, perhaps, of whether or not what's going on here is worth it," said Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the Multinational Corps Iraq. "Quite honestly, I think we have a pretty clear-cut choice. We either deal with terrorism and this extremism abroad, or we deal with it when it comes to us, as it would inevitably, as it has previously."

The comment from Gen. Vines came as American support for continued troop presence in Iraq is slipping in the polls and some members of Congress have offered particularly negative war assessments. All of this comes as the American death toll in Iraq topped 1,700 since the March 2003 invasion.

Gen. Vines, speaking via a teleconference to reporters at the Pentagon, said the "bit of complacency" stems in part from the operations in Iraq and at home that have been "relatively successful."

Asked about Americans who say Iraq is "a mess," Gen. Vines said, "I would say they don't have a good perception of what is at stake here. I would say that they don't recognize that the people that are attacking the coalition and that are murdering innocent men, women and children here want to impose that same value system on a large portion of the word."
I guess General Vines realizes how important a complete victory against the evil forces in Iraq is to the success of our current War on Terror. I enjoyed seeing the fact that the General has adopted Canadian columnists David Warren's concept of a fly-paper effect being created in Iraq for the terrorists in the Middle East. The US has created an area that attracts the terrorists to a central location in the Middle East to be destroyed rather than waiting for them to spread their deadly tentacles into the US hinterland. While we continue to fall victim to the Gotcha!!! journalism of the MSM and the petty ramblings of slimy politicians, the terrorists continue to launch their attacks on the forces of freedom. It time we heed Margaret Thatcher's advice at the beginning of the War on Terror, which is not to concede the information/media war to the terrorists and foes of the free world. Hopefully, the Pentagon will get back on the ball and push the successes of the Iraq War and keep the citizenry more informed about our mission. Time is not on our side, so get busy.

Democracy in the Mid-East

Fire of Liberty

Richard Brookhiser has a good column on Iraq and the reason why we're there in the first place in today's edition of The New York Observer. I'd say this about covers it:
The White House needs to remind us why we’re doing what we’re doing. We invaded Iraq because we thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He certainly hoped to get them, sooner or later, and I believe we will not know until the Assad estate is probated how close he had come. But W.M.D. were not our only reason for invading. We wanted to end an odious tyranny and to put a freer government in its place. We had already done that in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is culturally marginal; nothing important has come out of there since the poet Rumi. Iraq is in the center of a world, sick with misgovernment and maddened by totalitarian fantasies of destruction and renewal. Those fantasies became real downtown. By changing the course of things in Iraq, we hoped to change the course of things in Iraq’s world, and to make our own more secure.
That about does it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Steel, Steel, Steel

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece by Brendan Miniter over at The Wall Street Journal's free site (registration required) on why the call for the US to withdraw from Iraq is probably one of the worst policies that could have ever been devised. Whether it's Senator Joe Biden making speeches and appearing on Face The Nation publicly questioning the President's policy or even Representative Harold Ford Jr. calling out the Defense Department or The White House on Iraq, you can clearly see individuals promoting their own agenda rather than the interest of this nation. Ford and Biden should realize that they are in the same boat with the President because they voted for the War and shouldn't think about bailing when water gets choppy. Instead of Harold Ford Jr. focusing on his Senate run in 06 and Biden looking ahead to 2008 Prez run, maybe the should back away from rhetorical buffet and look at the big picture. Luckily, Minter puts the whole concept in the following paragraphs:
Outside Israel, and to a lesser extent Turkey and Lebanon, democracy is something new in the Middle East. So as we struggle now to keep a lid on the violence, it's hard not to get demoralized with the notion that it's not possible to build a civil society because the region has always been mired in the kind of chaos it finds itself in now. But that, of course, isn't true. Afghanistan may have always been on the edge of the world, but Iraq once enjoyed a relatively wealthy and well educated middle class. In Iraq, civil society began a steep decline only after Saddam Hussein hijacked the country. Iran too was once home to a burgeoning educated class, but that was before the revolution. Beirut was the "Paris" of the region, with the wealth and sophistication to match, before civil war destroyed the city and the country. The region began its breakdown thanks in part to Soviet pressure, and now, Islamofacists have outlived the communists. The end results are the same under either system--poverty, oppression and aggression toward the West.

President Bush made the case to invade Iraq mostly on the basis of weapons of mass destruction. The stockpiles everyone thought the U.S. military would unearth have not been found. But the danger of a failed and chaotic state headed by a madman in the center of the Middle East stands. Saddam clearly had designs on acquiring all sorts of weapons, and he was a walking WMD because his very hold on power was leveling efforts to restore civil society. What we needed in Iraq was not a dictator to keep the lid on the chaos, but a society with cops, troops and intelligence officers going after al Qaeda operatives. Empowering Iraqis to choose their own leaders will give us that because democracy is the antithesis of the chaos in which terrorists thrive.
It's easy to squawk and squawk about the negative aspects of Iraq to gain political points and beat up on President Bush but it makes you a stronger person to weather the storm and put some steel in the nation's reserve to push our soldiers to their goal. Haven't these Senators and Congressmen read enough history to realize that division of a nation during war is certain to lead to ruin and our enemies are betting on this.

Iraq: One Step at A Time

Fire of Liberty

Austin Bay, columnist and member of the Colonel in the US Army Reserve, has a great piece today on his return visit to Iraq. Bay notes in his column that the situation in Iraq seems to be turning for the better while the home-fires seem to be dimming with the massive onslaught of negative and vindictive journalism by the MSM. Bay also notes that the US should find a way to get the US citizenry more involved in the war effort before it's too late. We've achieved so much in Iraq to back down now.

Iran's Sham Election

Fire of Liberty

"Today, Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy. .. And to the Iranian people, I say: As you stand for your own liberty, the people of America stand with you."

President George W. Bush
June 16, 2005
While watching the political round-table on FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume yesterday, I heard Jeff Burnbaum make a silly statement about how the democratic wave in the Middle East has reached Iran because the people of the ancient Persia were able to vote for a "moderate" or "conservative" leaders this past Friday. The only problem with these elections is that no matter how many candidates with differing political philosophies run in such elections they are still miles away from what you would call democratic. Now its true the the demos or the people went out and voted for a candidate but the only problem is that the folks running for such posts were chosen by the mullah's. According to June 15, 2004 Op/Ed in The Wall Street Journal by Shirin Ebadi and Muhammad Sahimi (Ebadi is a 2003 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize & Law professor at Tehran University and Sahimi a professor at USC), the mullahs continue to pull the levers rather than the people of Iran, which blows up Birnbaum's theory of democracy spreading to Iran. What the mullahs have fashioned for the MSM and people in the Western world a mirage of democracy while they continue their steely grasp on the power of Iran via an unelected body known as The Guardian Council. Just read what the professors wrote about the mullahs complete-control of the show in Iran:
The Guardian Council, a constitutional body controlled by Islamic hardliners, has thwarted many of the reforms introduced by President Khatami and his allies. In principle, the Council should approve bills passed by parliament after ensuring their conformity with Islamic laws. But in practice, it has barred reformist candidates from standing in elections and has vetoed legislation aimed at curbing its power. The hardliners have also jailed university students, intellectuals, dissidents and rights activists, and President Khatami has failed to overcome the Council's obstruction of reform.

Friday's presidential election is another part of the political process under the heavy hand of the Guardian Council. The election will not be free and fair because the Council controls who can stand. The main reformist candidate, former Minister of Higher Education Mostafa Moeen, has been allowed to run. But many other qualified candidates -- including every woman -- have been disqualified. Meanwhile, hardliners are exploiting many of the state's resources (including radio and television) to promote their candidates, while censoring many progressive positions of Dr. Moeen and attacking his supporters.

The hardliners view victory in the upcoming elections as the final step in consolidating their grip on power, following last year's rigged parliamentary elections. They already control many of the unelected instruments of power, and have put forward four candidates, all of whom are connected to the most powerful branch of the armed forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards.
One can only imagine what dangers Professor Ebadi faces by writing this Op/Ed, luckily she has the distinction of being a Nobel Peace Prize recipient that the thousands upon thousands of people who march or voice their opposition to the regime. These brave souls are the ones who are seeking a government that respects the wishes of the people and allows them more freedom from the all-powerful mullahs. As the people of Iran continue to voice their opposition towards the regime while battling the thugs who are sent to harass and assault them, the Western media has be transfixed with a joke of democracy known as the Iranian presidential election and have waxed eloquently about how this "demonstration of democracy" and how it can initiate a possible era of rapprochement between Iran and the US. To make matters worse, the MSM has dove head first into this "reformist" canard by promoting Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as Iran's best hope for political reform. Now Rafsanjani might be able to put on a happy face to the talking heads, newspaper reporters (which includes the diligent San Francisco Chronicle reporter Sean Penn) and the "useful idiots" but his ability to turn the heads of the Iranian people seems to be nill. Amongst the various observers who seem to look beyond the MSM's rose-colored vision of the "reformist movement" is Danielle Pletka, who is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. In a June 16, 2005 Op/Ed in The New York Times, Pletka points out that the Iranian people who are struggling for a democratic state are well aware that the MSM's purported reformer is far from what is expected from a person promoting democratic reforms. She noted on the eve of the rigged election that:
The Iranian people, however, are less easily had. In his first tour as president, Mr. Rafsanjani cemented a reputation as a corrupt and power-hungry wheeler-dealer. He crushed personal freedoms and presided over a sharp economic downturn. He ushered in a particularly aggressive phase of Iranian sponsorship of terrorism -- including alleged roles in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed more than 80, and in the assassinations of several Iranian exiles, including former Prime Minister Shahpur Bakhtiar in 1991.

Few in Iran lamented the end of his tenure in 1997, and in 2000 a thinly disguised account of his regime's brutality became a best seller. That year he was humiliated in parliamentary elections, finishing 30th in his district, and his political career seemed over.

His comeback is due not to popular demand, but to the machinations of the mullahs. Of the thousand-plus registered candidates for the presidential election, all but eight were disqualified by the unelected Guardian Council. A spokesman for the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remarked that with a Rafsanjani victory, ''We will finally be able to have for ourselves the atomic bomb to fairly stand up to Israeli weapons.'' And we expect to catch a break from this man?

It's rather interesting to watch the people in the MSM fall all over themselves promoting the "moderates" of Iran (They did the same in 1997 and 2001 for Khatami), even though they are falling for the same old tricks that past members of the media have fallen for in the past. What the Iranian government has actually done is drawn the media into their spider-web of lies without the knowledge of their complicity to the regimes totalitarian behavior. As Michael Ledeen notes over at National Review Online, all this excitement about elections and moderate candidates in Iran are just absurd because:
We have heard these slogans before, applied to other tyrannies shortly before they attacked democratic societies. When Stalin ruled the Soviet empire, great attention was paid to elections to the Politburo, as if the Molotovs and the Berias were independent actors, capable of moderating or liberalizing or reforming the Soviet Union. When the Fuhrer ruled the Third Reich, even British diplomats confidently announced that Hitler had "no further territorial ambitions," and was, after all, surrounded by reasonable industrialist types like Goehring. And who can forget — — actually, who can remember — the surge of empathy when it was announced that comrade Andropov — until yesterday the boss of the KGB and now the new Soviet dictator — liked jazz?

Sensible folks have learned that it isn't about personality, it's about freedom and tyranny. All the totalitarian regimes of the last century staged elections, and they were all meaningless, because the structure of the state concentrated power in the two hands of the dictator, and exercised through the single party.
What we are seeing is the beginning of the end of mullahcracyracy as we know it. As these elections have demonstrated, the mallahs could care less than a fig about the people of Iran as long as they retain their power. Unfortunately for the regime, this rigged election will come back and haunt them by becoming a clarion call for the true democratic movement of Iran. The people of Iran have been under the mullahs for far too long and have become a tempist in the democracy tea-pot waiting to let off some steam against the regime. Luckily they have some help from the folks in the West in pushing their democratic revolution in Iran. So I bid them G-d's Speed in their quest for freedom and democracy. While the MSM might be diluted in the reality in Iran, Fire of Liberty will continue to provide the light of freedom for the people of Iran.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Energy Bill Reading

Fire of Liberty

With the Energy Bill currently sitting in the wings of the US Senate waiting for the various Senators to laden it with pork as well as to push their various pet projects like the McCain/Lieberman Bill that calls for the reduction of CO2 emissions, they should find time to read this article by Jack Rafuse over at Tech Central Station. If the "Club of 100" would read this article, the would read a awesome review of the book The Bottomless Well, which takes a sensible look at some perceived energy problems and the reasoning on what the best resolution to the problems will be. While the book focuses on several solutions, it also notes that the various solutions for our energy needs being promoted in the current Energy Bill by a bunch of Senators would be yet another example of what Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, used to call "iatrogenic government," which is that the solution is worse than the problem. Amongst the two most obvious areas in the Energy Bill that The Bottomless Well places in this "iatrogenic government" are the proposal for alternate fuels and CO2 reductions. Just read what the authors have to say:
· Alternative energy: After decades of US subsidies, 'renewables' generate about 0.7 percent of our (highest cost) electricity. "No conceivable mix of solar, biomass, or wind technology could meet even half our current demand without (at the very least) doubling the human footprint on the surface of the continent." We subsidize them for environmental reasons?

· Kyoto Accords: The US emits about 1.6 billion metric tons per year of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the air -- and absorbs 1.7 billion! West-to-east prevailing winds should make CO2 concentrations in the North Atlantic 300 parts per billion higher in the North Atlantic than in the North Pacific, but "they're about 300 parts per billion lower." (From "a stunning but little publicized article," in October, 1998 Science.) Why don't we hear that in the Global Warming debate?
It's sad when Senators are so sold on pork and their self-interest that they're will to create greater problems that restrain the growth and creativity of our scientists. From the looks of it, this Energy Bill is a long way from arriving on the President's Desk. Even if it does, he might find it in his best interest to veto the bill. After waiting some four years of waiting for the bill, he should get what he wants and not a fat pork sandwich.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

No More Last Helicopters for Vietnamese People

Fire of Liberty

Paul Marshall, who is a senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, has a great piece over at National Review Online on the continued denial of religious freedom in Vietnam. Marshall notes that the President should go out of his way publicly in discussing the US concerns with Vietnam's vast human rights violations when he meets PM Phan Van Khai on Tuesday. It would be even better if he met some Vietnamese dissidents who have been slapped down by the Communist masters in Vietnam.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Defense Chief Speaks in Defense of Gitmo

Fire of Liberty

US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has a good response in today's Op/Ed pages of USA Today to the absurd claims about Gitmo from Amnesty International, the MSM and Senator Durbin these past weeks. I particularly enjoyed these paragraphs of Rumsfeld's Op/Ed:
As the president has said, we are always looking for ways to improve our procedures. And of course we have been looking for better suggestions as to how to manage detainees who pose a lethal threat to the civilized world, and we have already implemented dozens of reforms.

The real problem is not Guantanamo Bay. The problem is that, to a large extent, we are in unexplored territory with this unconventional and complex struggle against extremism. Traditional doctrines covering criminals and military prisoners do not apply well enough.

It is important to remember that the purpose of detaining these enemy combatants is not to punish them for committing a crime, but to gain intelligence about terrorist operations and to prevent them from attacking again. We have gained intelligence at Guantanamo that have stopped terror attacks and saved American lives.
I guess you should never challenge a naval fighter pilot like Rumsfeld to a duel over the truth on Gitmo, they might not be able to hold their water. Well done Secretary Rumsfeld.

Iraq Turnaround

Fire of Liberty
After watching "Scarborough Country" on MSNBC, I decieded to watch some of the 11:00 p.m. repeat of "Hardball." As always, Chris Matthews beats his "all is lost in Iraq" drum and brings his general assortment of guests out to agree with his defeatist arguments about Iraq being another Vietnam. Though Matthews and his chums in the MSM seem to purvey to the American public that Iraq has gone to hell in a handbasket, there are individuals like syndicated columnist Michael Fumento who has just recently returned from Fallujah and paints a different story of Iraq. According to his piece from National Review Online, Fumento witnessed an amazing transformation in a city that was a war-zone between the US and al-Zarqawi's Al Qaeda allies last November. Just read what Fumento saw in Fallujah:
As I traveled through the slowly repopulating city — about half of the original 250,000 are believed to have returned — I saw awesome scenes of destruction. But I also saw thriving markets, stores selling candy and ice cream, and scores of children delighted to see Americans. I did more waving than the beauty queen in the 4th of July parade and the kids squealed with delight when I took their picture.

"We're mostly known for killing the bad guys" says Lt. Col. Harvey Williams, a reserve officer with the Marine 5th Civil Affairs Group. But killing alone can'’t defeat the insurgency. Win over the populace or lose the war.

Williams and the 5th CAG is in charge of rebuilding the city in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers. He shows the value of drawing on a rich pool of reservists in that prior to be being called up he worked for General Electric, installing new power plants throughout the U.S.

Restoring and expanding access to electricity is top priority here, more so than access to running water because Iraqis pump water up from the mains to tanks on their roof. No electricity, no working pumps.
It's amazing what a bunch Marines and Army grunts can achieve when they put their nose to the grindstone. I just wish Matthews and crew would look beyond their "If it bleeds, it leads" mantra they could find more diamonds in the rough in Iraq. Maybe if they got out of their D.C. or New York studio and become embeds to front-line units or ones outside of the Green-Zone they'd get a better picture but 115 or 120 degrees is too hot for them.

Economic Reform needed in France

Fire of Liberty

France could pull itself up from its economic quicksand that its currently in if they just follow the ideas of people like Sabine Herold, which is economic liberty and the total embrace of the free-markets, instead of the current socialist model the President Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin adhere to. So their is a smidgen of hope for France. (You won't hear that much praise for France(I mean the elites and socialists) from me.)

75 Year after Hawley-Smoot

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Thomas Sowell has a good column in The Washington Times on the 75th anniversary of the disastrous Hawley-Smoot Tariff. In an ill conceived effort to help the farmers and industries of America to stay afloat and keep the people working, President Hoover whole-heartedly supported the measure. As most economists will tell you today, the imposition of such protectionist measures will ensure even greater pitfalls for years to come. Just look at what Sowell writes about such a disastrous decision:
Who was opposed? Most of the leading economists. A Page One headline in the New York Times of May 5, 1930, read: "1,028 economists ask Hoover to veto pending tariff bill." Those signing this public appeal against the new tariffs included many top economists -- 25 professors of economics at Harvard, 26 at the University of Chicago, and 28 at Columbia.

But, to a politician, what do 1,028 votes matter in a country the size of the United States? Rep. Hawley and Sen, Smoot both ignored them, as did President Herbert Hoover, who signed the legislation into law the next month.

The economic reasons for not restricting international trade then were the same as they are today. The only difference is what happened then gives us a free home demonstration of what can be expected if we go that route again.

The economists' appeal spelled it out: "The proponents of higher tariffs claim that the increase in rates will give work to the idle. This is not true. We cannot increase employment by restricting trade."

If 9 percent unemployment was troublesome in 1930, when the Hawley-Smoot tariff was passed, it was nothing compared to the 16 percent unemployment the next year and the 25 percent unemployment two years after that. The annual U.S. unemployment rate never got back down to 9 percent again during the entire decade of the 1930s.

American industry as a whole operated at a loss for two consecutive years. Farmers, who had strongly supported the Hawley-Smoot tariffs, saw their own exports cut by two-thirds as other countries retaliated against U.S. tariffs by restricting imports of American industrial and agricultural products.

The economists' appeal had warned of "retaliatory tariffs" setting off a wave of international trade restrictions that would hurt all countries economically. After everything these economists had warned of came to pass, tariffs began to be reduced. But throughout the 1930s they remained above the pre-Hawley-Smoot levels -- and so did unemployment.
I'm glad that President Bush- a person with a good historical insight- understands the mistakes of the past and knows what to avoid to prevent an economic disaster. Too bad people like Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Shumer have failed to study the adverse effect of protectionist economics. (Want to impose 26% to 28% tariff on China).

History Challenge

Fire of Liberty

As I was perusing today's Los Angeles Times Op/Ed section, I came across this awesome piece by David Gelernter, which notes how our nation is suffering from a dearth of knowledge when it comes to history. As Gelernter notes in his piece, the young boys and girls in this nation go to school everyday and learn history which is absent of facts but loaded with ideology thus turning out folks who deem our founding fathers as greedy slave-holders instead of the creators of a grand republic, or who know more about FDR imprisoning the Japanese in Camps during WWII but couldn't tell you about Midway, the Bataan Death March, or the horrific nature of the Japanese Empire at the time. Even worse, these young kids could grow up to become a US Senator and dole out moon-bat histories like Durbin and others continue to do. Anyway, check out some of Gelernter's column:
To forget your own history is (literally) to forget your identity. By teaching ideology instead of facts, our schools are erasing the nation's collective memory. As a result, some "expert" can go on TV and announce (20 minutes into the fighting) that Afghanistan, Iraq or wherever "is the new Vietnam" — and young people can't tell he is talking drivel.

There is an ongoing culture war between Americans who are ashamed of this nation's history and those who acknowledge with sorrow its many sins and are fiercely proud of it anyway. Proud of the 17th century settlers who threw their entire lives overboard and set sail for religious freedom in their rickety little ships. Proud of the new nation that taught democracy to the world. Proud of its ferocious fight to free the slaves, save the Union and drag (lug, shove, sweat, bleed) America a few inches closer to its own sublime ideals. Proud of its victories in two world wars and the Cold War, proud of the fight it is waging this very day for freedom in Iraq and the whole Middle East.

If you are proud of this country and don't want its identity to vanish, you must teach U.S. history to your children. They won't learn it in school. This nation's memory will go blank unless you act.
Bravo, Bravo!!! I'd say that we can do a better job and should get started before it gets to the point that kids know more about Paris Hilton and Survivor than about the Founding Fathers and WWII.


Fire of Liberty

Colonel Oliver North has an excellent column today on how the MSM has such an fascination with "Gotcha Journalism" when it comes to Gitmo that they are willing to expose US interrogation techniques of deadly terrorists. In an effort to blacken the eye of the Bush administration, the editors of these media outlets provide to the whole world the techniques that our soldiers use to pry needed intelligence from the terrorist thus allowing the terror masters with a handy training manual on what terrorists should expect if they are captured and interrogated. Just look at what Col. North has to say on this matter:
In much of our media, the Iraqi butchery was offered as further proof that bringing democracy to Baghdad is a futile endeavor. Absent from U.S. reporting about the atrocities in Iraq and the Philippines is the fact that the architects of the attacks cared neither about how many non-combatants were killed, nor whether the perpetrators themselves survived. Yet, according to "experts" interviewed by Time magazine, the techniques used by the U.S. military to interrogate terrorists detained at Guantanamo are an "outrage on personal dignity."

The real outrage isn't the affront to the "dignity" of suicide terrorists being interrogated and kept alive against their will by our military at Guantanamo; the greater offense is our mainstream media's lack of context for what transpires there -- and the apparent disregard for the consequences of such revelations during a time of war.

The right of the American media to publish classified military information -- such as that in Time magazine's "exclusive" account from Guantanamo -- is well established. During World War II, the Chicago Tribune divulged that the Battle of Midway had been won thanks to the code-breakers at Station Hypo in Hawaii. Though Americans fighting for their lives in the Pacific theater died because the Japanese immediately changed their JN-25 naval code, no one was ever prosecuted for revealing the secret.

Nor will anyone at Time magazine be arrested for publishing classified data on U.S. military interrogation techniques at Guantanamo. But there should be no doubt that the material detailed in the periodical is now being incorporated in the next editions of training manuals used to indoctrinate members of the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Abu Sayyaf, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, et al. That begs a broader question about the whole controversy surrounding the Guantanamo detention facility: Does our so-called mainstream media have a "death wish"?
I'd agree with the death wish part. The only problem is they're directing it to the White House, looking for some Watergate or Clinton-gate scandal to bloom. But, this 'wishing and hoping' for a scandal to emerge(that they are trying to create now, just watch Hardball on MSNBC or read The New York Times) in hopes of crippling the Whhite House will only make the war against these evil terrorists much harder to fight because of a lack of actionable intelligence. While the various Senators and Congressmen continue banging their drums to close Gitmo they only make it harder on our soldiers who depend on timely intelligence gathered from the interrogation of the terrorists. There's no doubt in my mind that the information gathered from Gitmo has been more benefical and saved more lives than we can imagine. So, I'd say that we should keep up the good work at Gitmo and laugh at the absurdities of Sen. Durbin.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

UN Security Council Expansion

Fire of Liberty

It seems the US is cold on the idea of making Germany a permanent member in the UN Security Council but seems to be warm on Japan, India or another developing nation like Brazil. I guess having the French on the Security Council is about all of Europe that the US could stand (I'd be inclined to trade Germany for France if I could). Anyway, I agree that Japan(2nd Largest donor to UN and powerful democracy in Asia. Help hold China's expansionist tendencies down.) and India (Biggest democracy/capitalistic nation in Southern Asian region and could be both an economic/political model for China and a check on its military. India also has a large Muslim population who live in a semi-relative peace with fellow Hindus.) would be two good picks for the Security Council.

Bush/Blair Relationship

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good column by Amity Shlaes in yesterday's Financial Times on the Bush/Blair relationship and its impact in the upcoming G8 summit in Scotland. It's a very interesting look at this powerful team.

Patriot Act is Essential

Fire of Liberty
Thomas Sowell has a wonderful column on how silly the various Senators, Congressmen as well as the MSM have gotten over the so-called "Dangers" of The Patriot Act. In his typically brilliant fashion, Sowell notes that the nervous nellies seem to come out of the woodwork claiming how the The Patriot Act was an over-reaction to a threat that never materialized thus it should be scrapped in the ash-heap of history. As Sowell notes, these people fail to realize that The Patriot Act - that they want to dismantle - is the reason why terrorist disasters have been averted. Here's a small part of Sowell's column:
Let us go back to square one, to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which were the reason for passage of the Patriot Act.

Do you remember how long every major public event -- the World Series, Christmas celebrations, the Super Bowl -- was a time of fear of a new terrorist attack? Do you remember all the advice to stock up on medicines or food, so that we could ride out any new terrorist onslaught?

Do you remember all the places that terrorists were expected to strike? The different colors of national alerts being announced regularly?

Now, after years have passed without any of these feared disasters actually happening, the eroding of a sense of danger has led many to repeat the polio fallacy and act as if the dangers from which we have been protected did not exist -- and that the enhanced protection is therefore unnecessary.

The many crackdowns on domestic terrorists under the Patriot Act, as well as the ability to intercept and disrupt their communications under the powers of that Act, receive little or no credit for the fact that there has been no repetition of anything like 9/11.
At least Sowell, President Bush and the people of the US understand how precious The Patriot Act is for the safety of the US.

North Korea: A Real Gulag State

Fire of Liberty

While browsing through the July/August edition of AEI's magazine The American Enterprise, I came across a good first-hand account of the horrors of North Korea by Norbert Vollertsen. Vollertsen is one of the few western Dr. to visit Kim Jong Il's gulag superstate when he joined German Emergency Doctors - which provides medical assistance to ravaged nations - in 1999 and subsequently dispatched to North Korea some 18 months. After seeing the horrors of the frigid hell-hole of North Korea, Vollertsen wrote a powerful book titled Inside North Korea: Diary of a Mad Place which presented a clearer picture to the West of how terrible life has become in a hard-line Stalinist state like the Dear Leader's "Worker's Paradise." Though Vollertsen is deemed persona non grata in North Korea for his expose, he has made tremendous inroads into the human rights movement in South Korea on the behalf of the people North Korea. For those who don't have the time to read Vollertsen's wonderful book but want to understand the horrors of Kim Jong Il's North Korea, I'd highly recommend that you read Vollertsen's piece in the current issue of The American Enterprise. Here's a sample:
In my role as an emergency doctor, I also visited a number of other medical institutions besides the ten hospitals and three orphanages to which I was assigned. In every locale, I witnessed horrific conditions. There were no bandages, no scalpels, no antibiotics, no operating rooms—only ramshackle wooden beds supporting starving children waiting to die. Doctors used empty beer bottles as vessels for intravenous dripping. Safety razors were used as scalpels. I even witnessed an appendectomy performed without anesthesia. Meanwhile I found out, through my own investigations, about government storehouses and diplomatic shops carrying large stocks of bandages and other medical supplies for privileged classes.

There are two worlds in North Korea: One is the world of senior military officers, Communist Party members, and the countryÂ’s ruling elite. They enjoy a lavish lifestyle, fancy restaurants, diplomatic shops with European foods, nightclubs, even a casino.

The world for ordinary people in North Korea is completely different. In their world, one can see young children, undersized, undernourished, mute, with sunken eyes and skin stretched tight across their faces, wearing uniform blue-and-white-striped pajamas. Anyone whoÂ’s seen pictures of Dachau or Auschwitz would find the scene distressingly familiar.

Most of the patients in the hospitals suffer from psychosomatic illnesses. TheyÂ’re worn out by compulsory drills, innumerable parades, mandatory assemblies beginning at the crack of dawn, and constant, droning propaganda. They are tired and at the end of their tether. Clinical depression is rampant. Alcoholism is common. Young adults have no hope, no future. Everywhere you look, people are beset by anxiety.
Thank G-d we have people like Norbert Vollertsen who are fighting on the behalf of the people in North Korea. It seems that the White House is aware of the horrors in North Korea as well when he met Kang Chol Hwan, a North Korean defector and author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang at The White House. I just wish that the leaders in South Korea would take some notice of the people suffering under Kim Jong Il.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Mugabe: The Next Pol Pot?

Fire of Liberty
The British newspaper, The Independent has a good article on the evils that Robert Mugabe has inflicted on his people in Zimbabwe. It's horrific what an evil dictator and his minions will do to ensure their grasp on power. Just look at what's going on:
Beauty and her two children are just the latest victims of a Pol Pot-style campaign waged by President Robert Mugabe to empty the cities and force the population into the countryside. It is a war that has been launched with a concerted attack on the country's poorest and weakest people. Hundreds of thousands living in squatter camps or working in street markets have had their homes demolished or their livelihoods. Mr Mugabe calls the campaign a "clean-up operation" to restore order and beauty to the cities. His critics accuse him of waging a vindictive war on those who didn't vote for his Zanu-PF party in the March general election.

Nearly half a million people have been displaced in a drought-stricken country where conservative estimates say that four million are in immediate need of food aid. The United Nations and the World Food Programme are warning of a "humanitarian disaster". "This is like Pol Pot, corralling people into the countryside where they can be controlled and indoctrinated," said Shari Appel, a Zimbabwe resident and human rights expert. "We're heading into the dark ages here. What we're going to see is selective starvation. He wants people hungry and compliant," said Ms Appel.

Mr Mugabe shows no sign of following Pol Pot's personal example and moving to a rural mud hut. He continues to live in majesty in an expensive district of Harare, where a strict 6pm-to-6am curfew ensures no one can so much as approach the perimeter wall. Until yesterday, Beauty and her family had lived in a one-room house with mud walls and a corrugated iron and thatched roof. They were one of up to 400 families living in the Kirllany squatter camp on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Now, only the blackened shell remains and the thick smell of burning thatch fills the air.
It's time for the various members of the MSM, the UN, Europe, and the US to publicly condemn the evils of Mugabe. What would be Even better is the public condemnation of Mugabe and his actions from fellow African nations but as usual they see no foul. The best option is a people powered democratic revolution via the political/communication aid as well as the moral support of the US.

Trouble in South America

Fire of Liberty

John O'Sullivan has a great column in yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times on the troubles that are emerging in South America. It seems the various nation's in South America are slowly sliding towards leftist/populist politics with less than savory leaders who rife with anti-American sentiments. To see how bad the situation is, just read a small bit of O'Sullivan's piece:
All that has been lacking for a really serious crisis has been a leader like Castro and a unifying revolutionary ideology like Marxism to exploit and shape this instability. And both may now be available. Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, is the leading anti-American figure in Latin America who is also forging alliances with anti-American regimes from China to Iran. He is a more effective opponent than his close ally, Fidel Castro, because he sits on enormous oil revenues which grow daily with the price of oil.

Like Peron, he uses this windfall to buy a temporary domestic popularity through social spending on poorer Venezuelans. Like Castro he assists terrorist movements against pro-American regimes like the Colombian government. And he is currently building up his military and purchasing weaponry. Yet he enjoys respectability and influence among other Latin American leaders. He is the most active agent in such schemes as the South American Bank. And he is rapidly creating a continent-wide leftist movement under the Banner of the "Bolivarian Revolution" -- a glamorous but not very coherent mish-mash of the revolutionary ideas of the 1960s, the semi-academic "dependency" theories of the 1970s, and the anti-globalization attitudinizing of the 1990s.

Chavez's main political strength is that he was elected democratically; his main political weakness is that he is not governing democratically. Rather, he is harrying political opponents like a pro-democracy NGO activist who is threatened with prison for accepting a $30,000 grant from Washington's National Endowment for Democracy.
I hope someone is watching this and drawing up some contingency plans or policies on how to prevent a further slide into chaos. We cannot afford more folks like El Hefe(Castro) and El Hefe II(Chavez) in our Southern Hemisphere.

New Battleships

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good piece on the future of our battleships by Rear Adm. Charles S. Hamilton, the Navy's Program Executive Officer for Ships.

Go Army!!!

Fire of Liberty

The US Army turned 230 years old yesterday, throughout its meager beginnings in 1775 under Washington (Took them from rag-tag to soldiers on par with professional British soldiers), the men fighting in the deserts of Northern Africa or the forests of Europe during WWII or today's high tech war-fighters, the US Army has demonstrated the strength and principles of our society. In the same manner that this nation is formed by and for the people, the US Army has always been an institution made of citizen soldiers who put 110% of their effort in fighting wars to preserve the fact. So when you read this, just take some time to think about where we would be today if we didn't have the 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, Big Red 1 or the 4th Infantry risking their lives to defend our fine republic. So even if it's belated, Happy Birthday to the US Army.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Tough Days

Fire of Liberty

Bill Murchison has a wonderful column that points out that even though the fight in Iraq might be going rough at the moment it's not the time to fall prey to the polls and politicians like Senator Hagel(R-NE) and Rep. Walter Jones(R-NC) who head for the doors when the kitchen gets too hot. In his own way, Murchinson reminds his readers that the old saying "When the going gets tough, The tough gets going," rings true today.

Monday, June 13, 2005

More Sensitive War

Fire of Liberty

Doug Kern has a wonderful piece over at Tech Central Station on how fighting a more "sensitive" War on Terror will eventually come back and bite in the near future.

A Mugabe Hell

Fire of Liberty

While I've been carrying on about Canada's Medicare system, educational freedom and the EU Constitutional referendum these past weeks, the people in Zimbabwe are suffering under the jack-boot of Robert "Dictator-for-Life" Mugabe. According to various sources in the UK, most notably The Times have been reporting on Zimbabwe's "Operation Clear Up The Trash," in which Mugabe has sent out his henchmen and bulldozers to destroy the various buildings and houses in the shanty-town Hatcliffe Extension, in the Harare North constituency, leaving some 200,000 people homeless and arresting some 20,000 money changers and small-business-men. Along with this, Mugabe also ordered the destruction of an AIDS clinic set up by the Dominican Order in 1992 thus leaving some 180 orphans stricken with AIDS homeless and thousands of others who are sick and hungry without a place to eat or get the much needed medicines. As these people continue to lose their homes and earthly possessions they are being forced to move out of the cities and into the country-side where their future is bleak. While this is obviously an example of Mugabe and his thugs from ZANU-PF just throwing their weight around and increasing their hold on Harare, Mugabe has continued to claim that it is a way to remove a clean-up disease and filth and destroy a habitat that thieves and lawbreakers endure in. Along with Hatcliffe Extension, Mugabe has sent his minions to Victoria Falls, Mutare, Mbare, Bulawayno and countless other cities in Zimbabwe. For anyone that believes "Uncle" Bob line of making the nation healthy for the people of Zimbabwe, I've got several bridges in New York and some ranches in Texas to sell you.

In fact this is one of Mugabe's many crack-downs on his political opponents to ensure there's not a massive amount of people roaming the streets of Harare and sparking a upsurge of popular discontent like in Georgia, Ukraine, or Lebanon. Thanks to the a commentary submitted by the Pro-Democracy group Sokwanele to the UK newspaper, The Guardian, we have a better picture of what Mugabe's actions are really meant to do:
With one brutal blow, Robert Mugabe set out to achieve multiple political objectives; most significantly, a pre-emptive strike against a restive urban population, a show of force designed to intimidate and subdue. By driving the poor into the impoverished rural areas, the urban population will be reduced, making future uprisings more manageable. And rural containment, with almost no access to modern communication systems, will make political resistance easier to control.

There is another objective too: with the Zimbabwean economy painfully on its knees, the destruction of informal businesses also represents a frantic attempt to force the informal sector to bring its foreign currency into the formal banking sector. The final Zanu PF objective - cruel retribution against an urban population that voted overwhelmingly for the opposition MDC - is a bonus.

Mr Mugabe's press laws make certain that the shivering, shocked faces of his defenceless victims will never appear on TV screens around the world. The police made doubly sure of that by carefully cordoning off areas where they were active to prevent cameras from recording the wreckage. Be assured, however, that the devastation cannot be overstated.

In a country where unemployment exceeds 75%, informal businesses help millions of Zimbabweans and their families to survive. Zanu PF's latest actions leave the poor with three remaining options: beg, steal or starve. Hundreds of thousands of people, including children, the elderly and the frail, have been rendered instantly homeless during Zimbabwe's cold winter months. The UN has estimated that as many as 3 million people - nearly a quarter of Zimbabwe's population - could eventually be affected by the police action.
While words are very powerful, they pale in comparison to the visuals below of Mugabe's terror









It's really a crying shame that the MSM has decided to focus on Gitmo and leaders throughout Africa seem to look the other way, while Mugabe continues his rampage throughout Zimbabwe without anyone checking his power. One day the people will rise up but they need to know that the world is watching. Maybe President Bush and others should speak up before it's too late.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Iraq: How the MSM forgets

Fire of Liberty

Here's a good column by Jack Kelly in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on how the "insurgents" in Iraq are fighting on a severely wounded leg when the resort to suicide bombings. Take a look:
The kamikaze behind the wheel of a car or truck has become the weapon of choice in Iraq, and -- as our media constantly remind us -- has created much carnage in the last two months.

The suicide bomber is a weapon of fanatics. But it is also a weapon of desperation. The Japanese were fanatical from Pearl Harbor on. But the kamikaze didn't make an appearance until Oct. 19, 1944, near the end of the battle of Leyte Gulf, which marked the effective destruction of the Japanese navy. The Japanese didn't turn to suicide bombers until defeat was staring them in the face.

Perhaps the silliest of the many silly things journalists have written about the war in Iraq is that the wave of suicide bombings is happening despite Iraqi/American offensives such as Operation Lightning in Baghdad. It is more likely that the increasingly indiscriminate bombings are a desperate effort to fend off destruction as the terrorists are flushed from their hiding places.
Leave it to people like Jack Kelly to give us a better look at what's really going down.

Educational Freedom

Fire of Liberty

Jeff Jacoby has a wonderful column in today's Boston Globe on getting the government out of education business and allowing parent's the freedom to choose how their children are educated. Also, check out this piece on educational freedom by Bill Steigerwald in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. It seems that the desire to offer parents the freedom to educate their children and get the government off the backs of parents of America, which has been championed by Milton Friedman some fifty years ago is gaining traction thanks to columnists Jacoby and Steigerwald and various other publications.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Iran: A Major Cog in the Terror Machine

Fire of Liberty

While folks in the MSM media and Sean Penn (It's rather an insult to the people of Iran that a wacked-out movie star is considered an journalists, we all remember his crack reporting from Iraq) continue to point out that Iran will hold elections on June 17, 2005 and that several moderates will be in the running (even though the mullahs in the Guardian Council decide who runs for spots in the majlis(parliament)), they generally fail to note that the people in Iran are tired of the mullahs and are ready for a change. Luckily, there's people like Michael Ledeen who are able to get the message out.

Well, Ledeen has written yet another wonderful piece over at National Review Online on the growing discontent with the Mullachracy that is simmering amongst the people of Iran. While Iran has had a long history of imprisoning and killing it various political prisoners/dissidents, Ledeen notes that the regime has a habit of torturing its political prisoners/dissidents and then releasing them with their bruises, scars and broken bones to intimidate its current and future opponents from speaking out against them. Though their are countless individuals who endure such inhumanities at the hands of the mullahs, Ledeen has chosen to point out one of the most popular dissidents of Iran:
One of the most prominent dissenters and a distinguished journalist, Akbar Ganji, was given a week-long "“medical leave"” from Evin Prison in Tehran, and on Monday he gave an Internet interview that may well prove fatal. He called for a general boycott of the "“make believe elections"” for the presidency, scheduled for the 17th of the month, and urged the Iranian people to engage in large-scale civil disobedience.

"“We are faced with a personal dictatorship, the dictatorship of (Supreme Leader Ali) Khamenei,"” he said. "“Khamenei has ruled for fifteen years and wants to rule for life. I oppose this and I say that this contradicts democracy."” Ganji called for Khamenei himself to submit his dictatorial rule to a public ratification. "“He must take part in a free election, should the people vote him in he can rule and should they reject him he must step aside."

Following the interview the head of the Evin Prison announced that Akbar Ganji had to return at once.
Even though the regime can force its opposition into silence by locking them up or using torture, it seems that the simmering discontent amongst the Iranian population has turned into a steady boil. Whether it's a public demonstration against the regime this Sunday by the Women's Movement of Iran at Tehran University, the Office of Student Unity who have denoted that the election is a pure sham that people should abstain from or various street protests and hunger strikes, the people of Iran are on the march against their oppressors but are still waiting for more voices against the regime.

While it seems the US State Department is a long way from denouncing the regime like Michael Ledeen and a small smattering of other journalists, the people in Iran struggling against the regime seem to be getting a voice in the West with the likes of US Senator Sam Brownback and Reza Pahlavi (son of the late Shah). Just read what Eli Lake wrote about these Western advocates in the June 9, 2005 edition of The New York Sun:
The latest crackdown from the mullahs comes as leaders of the Iranian opposition both inside and outside the country are planning public protests of the elections scheduled for next Friday. The founder and president of the Alliance of Iranian Women, Manda Zand Ervin, yesterday told The New York Sun that a sit-in is scheduled for Sunday in front of the University of Tehran, to be organized by a popular poet, Simin Behbahani.

Mr. Mehr said that student organizers from an umbrella group for campus activists, Tahkim Vahdat, have staged protests on behalf of Mr. Ganji in front of his home. Student groups are also planning hunger strikes to coincide with the final week of the elections.

Today, Ms. Zand Ervin will testify in the first hearing focusing on Iran before a Cold War committee that monitored human rights in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Helsinki Commission. She said the chairman of the commission, Senator Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, "told me to give a picture of what is going on in Iran. So I am going to talk about how teachers, young students, bus drivers are doing small things in protest. There is not a huge high-profile uprising yet, but every day there are smaller uprisings."

The son of the late shah and former crown prince of Iran, Reza Pahlavi, announced yesterday that he would conduct a hunger strike of his own from Fairfax, Va., at the request of political prisoners in Iran. "Solidarity with political prisoners of Iran and support for the legitimate quest for freedom, human rights, and economic opportunity in Iran transcends all political boundaries and ideologies," he said in a statement.
I just hope The White House will get on the ball in offering greater political, financial, organizational, and communicational support to the students and people protesting the evil regime rather than clearing a barrier to entering WTO talks or supporting the EU-3's (UK, Germany and France) trainwreck of negotiating Iran out of its nukes. A better solution is a regime change via the people to remove this timber from the mine-shaft of terror.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Eta: It's terror season in Spain

Fire of Liberty

It's amazing that the Spanish government under the Socialist Zapatero was actually thinking about holding negotiations with these folks. I can bet you that this would not stand if former Spanish PM Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party was running the show. Expect more protests and a call to action from the Spanish people.

Oh, Canada!!!

Fire of Liberty

Wow, it looks like there is more sanity within Canada's Judicial branch than under the present government of Paul Martin. Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada stood up for individual freedom and the benefits of the free-market with its ruling to allow citizens of Canada the right to use private insurance to pay for their health-care. While this ruling up in Canada might not be news to the casual reader in America, it has a earth-shattering ruling in a nation that has a considerable amount of its citizenry and elites who have taken the socialistic boondoggle of nationalized medicine "hook, line and sinker." Luckily Dr. Jacques Chaouli stood up to this socialistic nonsense and decided to take on an Atlantean challenge on behalf of the Canadian people and their daily struggle with the Medicare system. As today's editorial in Canada's National Post (NP)noted:
But in a ruling released yesterday, Chaoulli v. Quebec, four Supreme Court justices shattered this stifling taboo. We now see why the court took a year to deliver its judgment: The opinions authored or joined by Justices Marie Deschamps, Beverley McLachlin, John C. Major and Michel Bastarache present a thorough and masterful takedown of the myths surrounding medicare.

The plaintiffs were a doctor and a patient who'd been unable to contract freely under Quebec's health laws. The experience of the patient, George Zeliotis, will be familiar to many Canadians: Crippled by pain, he desperately sought a hip replacement. But because our public health system is chronically overburdened, he was forced to wait more than a year for his surgery. In any other Western nation, he would have been able to arrange a speedier hip replacement through private health insurance. But not in Canada: That would be -- gasp -- "two-tier" care.

Beaten down by socialist propaganda, most Canadians have accepted such excruciating indignities as the price of being morally superior. But not Mr. Zeliotis, who along with Dr. Jacques Chaouli, took the Quebec government to court. Justice Deschamps, who wrote the case's controlling opinion, agreed that forbidding Mr. Zeliotis from contracting with a private insurer while making him suffer a lengthy wait in the public system violated the right to life and personal inviolability guaranteed under Quebec's Charter of human rights and freedoms. Then she went further: Not only were the plaintiffs' rights violated, but the violations were such that they could not be justified by the government's need to protect its public health system.
While the NP notes that the results of the judgment is only limited to the people of Quebec, it still gives heart to the people of Canada who have waited too long for treatment and surgeries even when they have the financial means to by health-insurance. (You'd think that a country that has people who can afford insurance would let them go private and keep Medicare for elderly and disabled persons.) I just hope this ruling can loosen up the socialistic herd mentality of a portion of Canada because there are too many people suffering and dying for a silly policy like socialized medicine. Maybe the Conservative Party of Canada will incorporate the Supreme Court's decision on private insurance and the freedom of choice in their party platform and future campaigns. (Could be good issue, its better than the scandals that the Libs have been pushing.) Whatever might occur, chalk one up for the free-marketeers of Canada. (I guess the members of the Supreme Court read some Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek or The National Post.)