Wednesday, January 31, 2007
It is the Constitution, after all, that forces us to consider swapping horses on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years; it is the same document that, after FDR, forbids us to keep any horse for more than eight years. It is the Constitution that requires that our elections come like clockwork, despite the fact that sweeping and traumatic historical events, such as wars foreign and civil, seldom re-arrange their schedule to fit in with ours. It is, in short, the Constitution that makes it utterly inevitable that Presidents will often be forced to pass on their own messes to their successors and that these successors will be compelled to handle them as best they can—and to do so with the best grace they can manage.
No one is under any obligation to run as a candidate for the Presidency; but those who elect to do so are under a high and serious obligation to understand the nature of the office to which they are aspiring. If, like Lincoln, a future President Clinton finds herself confronted with a mess made by her predecessor in office, it will not be enough for her to blame Mr. Bush for his incompetence and mismanagement. It will avail her naught to continue to declare that Iraq is Bush's responsibility. By then, whether she likes it or not, Iraq will be her responsibility, and no one else's. If she refuses to recognize this unpleasant truth now, while still a candidate, how prepared will she be to recognize it when she is President and it is too late to throw the responsibility on someone else?
"We cannot escape history," Lincoln once said sadly and solemnly. We cannot undo what has been done; we cannot wish it away or blame it into oblivion; we cannot arbitrarily decide which parts of the past shall influence our future. We are stuck with what has been, and are constrained to make the best of it. History may or may not agree in blaming the mess in Iraq entirely on George Bush, as Senator Clinton has done; but history will not absolve his successor for refusing to take his—or her--responsibility for cleaning up the mess, regardless of who made it, or how it came about.
Is this fair? No, of course not. But then, history isn't fair, and those who resent this fact, as Senator Clinton appears to do, are well advised to steer clear of it.
Aside from Harris' reference to Lincoln, I'm reminded of when Eisenhower taking over the Korean War from Truman, Vietnam being passed by LBJ to Nixon, or Reagan received a weakened military and beleaguered national spirit from Jimmy Carter. While these individuals could have complained that laying all this on their plate as being "unfair" but most other presidents they tried their very best to make do with what they had at hand. To me, If you can't handle all the problems that comes your way with regards to the office of the President of the United States then you probably shouldn't seek the office.
Monday, January 29, 2007
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Ostensibly, the great virtue of ethanol is that it represents a "sustainable," environmentally friendly source of energy--a source that is literally homegrown rather than imported from such unstable places as Nigeria or Iran.
That's one reason why, as Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren note in the Milken Institute Review, federal and state subsidies for ethanol ran to about $6 billion last year, equivalent to roughly half its wholesale market price. Ethanol gets a 51-cent a gallon domestic subsidy, and there's another 54-cent a gallon tariff applied at the border against imported ethanol. Without those subsidies, hardly anyone would make the stuff, much less buy it--despite recent high oil prices.
That's also why the percentage of the U.S. corn crop devoted to ethanol has risen to 20% from 3% in just five years, or about 8.6 million acres of farmland. Reaching the President's target of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels by 2017 would, at present corn yields, require the entire U.S. corn harvest.
No wonder, then, that the price of corn rose nearly 80% in 2006 alone. Corn growers and their Congressmen love this, and naturally they are planting as much as they can. Look for a cornfield in your neighborhood soon. Yet for those of us who like our corn flakes in the morning, the higher price isn't such good news. It's even worse for cattle, poultry and hog farmers trying to adjust to suddenly exorbitant prices for feed corn--to pick just one industry example. The price of corn is making America's meat-packing industries, which are major exporters, less competitive.
In Mexico, the price of corn tortillas--the dietary staple of the country's poorest--has risen by about 30% in recent months, leading to widespread protests and price controls. In China, the government has put a halt to ethanol-plant construction for the threat it poses to the country's food security. Thus is a Beltway fad translated into Third World woes.
As for the environmental impact, well, where do we begin? As an oxygenate, ethanol increases the level of nitrous oxides in the atmosphere and thus causes smog. The scientific literature is also divided about whether the energy inputs required to produce ethanol actually exceed its energy output. It takes fertilizer to grow the corn, and fuel to ship and process it, and so forth. Even the most optimistic estimate says ethanol's net energy output is a marginal improvement of only 1.3 to one. For purposes of comparison, energy outputs from gasoline exceed inputs by an estimated 10 to one.
And because corn-based ethanol is less efficient than ordinary gasoline, using it to fuel cars means you need more gas to drive the same number of miles. This is not exactly a route to "independence" from Mideast, Venezuelan or any other tainted source of oil. Ethanol also cannot be shipped using existing pipelines (being alcohol, it eats the seals), so it must be trucked or sent by barge or train to its thousand-and-one destinations, at least until separate pipelines are built.
Time and time again, this nation has always discovered that while the government is great at passing laws(Some not as good as others), collecting taxes, and fighting wars, they fail miserably at creating innovative technologies or products that the American people are willing to purchase(That they can afford) or use. So instead of offering up subsidies and placing onerous standards on industries that have already taken turns towards fuel efficiency due to market forces-see Toyota, Honda and more and more of the Big Three, the government should reduce the tons of regulations and taxes that they have on these industries and thus allow Adam Smith's famous "animal spirits" to take flight and bring about cheaper and more efficient products that free us a good bit from foreign sources of oil. Even more, this nation would also find it in its best short-run interests it the government made it much easier for our domestic industries to drill, pump and refine our own domestic sources of petroleum. All in all, the solution to our energy problems are not found in the wood paneled offices of D.C. politicians and bureaucrats but in the board rooms and R&D labs of the private industries of America.
Part 1: www.youtube.com/watch?v=peFQWuk4nuo
Part 2: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuCLC8kjWCI
Part 3: www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5t5EqWX92k
Part 4: www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMztM0Z7BYE
Part 5: www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4Zv3BUmwqs
Part 6: www.youtube.com/watch?v=KvjvNScmTQA
I have to say that these episodes of Dispatches as well as Melanie Phillips's Londonistan provides one with an eye opening look at how a full embrace of multiculturalism out of a fear of offending can have a horrific impact on a society and its well being.
Friday, January 26, 2007
Thursday, January 25, 2007
*If we do take this route with regards to Africa then we've got to work on putting the region under a military umbrella with teeth much like David Silverstein noted in this piece over at National Review Online.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
I realize that the President's SOTU address was intended to push forward a bi-partisan spirit with feel good policies while at the same time conveying a sense of strength and determination to the nation and our enemies that we are prepared to push onward to victory in Iraq. While this talk is necessary, I think he would have had a better time and gained more traction with a large national audience if he had spent more time talking up our dynamic economy rather than just offering mere generalities. I guess since the President has a modest streak on touting the robust economy(Much like his Dad), it comes down to bloggers and others to point out the booming economy. One place that seems to lack the timidity of talking up our good economy is the good folks at the WSJ editorial board who made the following observation in today's paper:
This might be seen as pure "happy-talk" by a lot of the populists but the simple fact is that Republicans are in a win-win position with the American people when they point out the economic dynamism that they have set off by promoting policies that lead to the unleashing of the powers of the free-market and getting the government off our backs. It worked for Reagan and would be a sure winner for the current President.
The big economic story going into this New Year is that growth is accelerating. Jobless claims have dipped, as the labor market stays tight amid a low 4.5% unemployment rate and rapidly rising real wages. Corporate profits continue to defy gravity, growing at nearly double-digit rates some five years into this expansion. Economist Ed Hyman's ISI Group reports that as of last Friday some 57% of companies had beat profit expectations for the fourth quarter.
Then there's the "trade deficit," which was supposed to have produced a crisis any day now but is instead contributing to faster growth as American exports soar. Peppier growth abroad is helping, especially in Europe, assuming Germany's big increase in value-added taxes this month doesn't get in the way. Oil prices have come down, and even the housing slump seems to have stabilized in some parts of the country.
*John O'Sullivan has a good piece in the Chicago Sun-Times which sums up my whole argument on leaders touting their free-market principles and the results such policies. He sites three of my favorite leaders whole espoused such positive thoughts.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
In the early 1980's scientists at the University of California and in industry devised a new approach to limiting frost damage. They knew that a harmless bacterium which normally lives on many plants contains an "ice nucleation" protein that promotes frost damage. Therefore, they sought to produce a variant of the bacterium that lacked the ice-nucleation protein, reasoning that spraying this variant bacterium (dubbed "ice-minus") on plants might prevent frost damage by displacing the common, ice-promoting kind. Using very precise biotechnology techniques called "gene splicing," the researchers removed the gene for the ice nucleation protein and planned field tests with ice-minus bacteria.If the government would only find its way out of private sector more often I believe the farmers in CA would still have $1 billion in crops, consumers would have to pay higher prices on fruit as well as the double whammy of having to foot the emergency subsidies that will be given to the farmers. Folks are better off heeding Ronald Reagan's old adage "government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem," when the government starts to drift into the realm of the private sector.
Then the government stepped in, and that was the beginning of the end.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified as a pesticide the obviously innocuous ice-minus bacterium, which was to be tested in northern California on small, fenced-off plots of potatoes and strawberries. The regulators reasoned that the naturally-occurring, ubiquitous, "ice-plus" bacterium is a "pest" because its ice-nucleation protein promotes ice crystal formation. Therefore, other bacteria intended to displace it would be a "pesticide." This is the kind of absurd, convoluted reasoning that could lead EPA to regulate outdoor trash cans as a pesticide because litter is an environmental "pest."
At the time, scientists inside and outside the EPA were unanimous that the test posed negligible risk. (I wrote the opinion provided by the Food and Drug Administration.) No new genetic material had been added, only a single gene whose function was well known had been removed, and the organism was obviously harmless. Nonetheless, the field trial was subjected to an extraordinarily long and burdensome review just because the organism was gene-spliced.
Friday, January 19, 2007
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Perhaps the objection now is that 21,500 troops won't make much difference. It's true that, according to the new Army-Marine Counterinsurgency Manual, effective operations generally require at least one soldier or police officer per 40 or 50 inhabitants. That would suggest doubling our current force of 132,000 to secure Baghdad and the entire Sunni Triangle (population 13 million). But it would be difficult to find that many soldiers in the overstretched and undersized U.S. armed forces.For a long time I've been calling on the White House and the Pentagon to start fighting a classical counterinsurgency much like the British did in Malaya in the 50's or what Gen. Creighton Abrams was pushing in the later half of Vietnam(Until Congress cut off the funds). If we can stick to the techniques of Small War fighting while injecting a myriad of soft power into the mix, I think we have a shot of achieving our goals.
That doesn't mean, however, that the reinforcements Bush is sending are useless. As called for under a plan formulated by military historian Frederick Kagan and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, the five newly arriving brigades should be deployed alongside Iraqi units to live in Sunni and mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad. This is a classic counterinsurgency approach focused on securing the populace, and it has never really been tried before in the capital. It could work, especially if the surge is long lasting and if it's coupled with other vital steps — such as increasing the number of American advisors in the Iraqi security forces, instituting a biometric identity card to make it easier to detain terrorism suspects and enhancing the capacity of the Iraqi legal system to incarcerate more violent offenders.
If everything goes right, large swathes of Baghdad could gradually be brought under control. Then American and Iraqi units could pursue a "spreading inkblot" strategy — another classic counterinsurgency concept — to increase the pacified zone outward.
Of course that's a big if. It may be that we still don't have enough troops to successfully carry out this strategy. It may be that we don't have the will to see it through. It may be that we don't have enough reliable Iraqi partners. But considering the massive investment we have already made in Iraq, and the lack of good alternatives, it seems worth one final effort to see if we can salvage something from this dire situation.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
I can truly understand appealing to your base in the upcoming elections but what the Democrats are doing is going against the Constitution and endangering our standing in the world. I would advise the Democrats and others who are taking this position towards our operation in Iraq to take a second look at the Constitution and statutes that reveal that the ability to conduct war without any handcuffs is an absolute necessity for the Commander-in-Chief. One place I would recommend that they should look at the following Op/Ed by David B. Rivkin and Lee A. Casey in yesterday's Washington Post. In fact, they should pay close attention to the following paragraphs:
I'm just hoping that the folks calling for this policy change and supporting the upcoming non-binding "sense of Congress" resolution is doing this for mere theatrics and are fully aware of what an actual cutting of funds brought about during the later years of the Vietnam War.
The precise line between congressional and presidential authority is sometimes unclear, and no court has jurisdiction to rule on the issue. The analysis, however, is straightforward. When the two political branches exercise their respective constitutional powers in a way that brings them into conflict -- a scenario clearly envisioned by the Framers -- the relevant constitutional principle is that neither branch can vitiate the ability of the other to discharge its core constitutional responsibilities. Just as the president cannot raise his own funds (by obtaining loans unauthorized by Congress, for example), the legislature cannot attach conditions to federal spending that would destroy the president's authority to direct the military's tactical and strategic operations. This balance makes perfect sense; if Congress could closely direct how the executive branch spends appropriated funds, it would vitiate the president's core responsibilities as chief executive and commander in chief, transforming him into a cipher. This outcome would fundamentally warp the Framers' entire constitutional fabric.
To maintain the integrity of this original design, the Supreme Court has long ruled, in such cases as United States v. Klein (1872) and United States v. Lovett (1946), that Congress cannot attach unconstitutional conditions to otherwise proper legislation, including spending bills. As explained by Professor Walter Dellinger -- President Bill Clinton's chief constitutional lawyer at the Justice Department -- "[b]road as Congress' spending power undoubtedly is, it is clear that Congress may not deploy it to accomplish unconstitutional ends." This includes restricting the president's authority as commander in chief to direct the movement of U.S. armed forces. In that regard, Dellinger quoted Justice Robert Jackson -- who said while serving as President Franklin Roosevelt's attorney general: "The President's responsibility as Commander-in-Chief embraces the authority to command and direct the armed forces in their immediate movements and operations, designed to protect the security and effectuate the defense of the United States."
Although this system may seem unsatisfactory to those who disagree with President Bush's Iraq policy, it has two great virtues. First, it bolsters the Constitution's fundamental design -- the separation of powers between the coequal branches of government. The Framers vested executive authority in a president for a reason. As Alexander Hamilton explained in the Federalist Papers: "Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks." Second, requiring Congress to exercise its power in dramatic ways ensures political accountability. If Congress believes the war is lost, or not worth winning, it must take responsibility for the consequences of forcing a U.S. withdrawal. Otherwise, it must leave the president to direct the war and to bear responsibility for the decisions he has made and will make.
Yet by far the most depressing aspect of the Afghan poppy crisis is the fact that it exists at all—because it doesn't have to. To see what I mean, look at the history of Turkey, where once upon a time the drug trade also threatened the country's political and economic stability. Just like Afghanistan, Turkey had a long tradition of poppy cultivation. Just like Afghanistan, Turkey worried that poppy eradication could bring down the government. Just like Afghanistan, Turkey—this was the era of Midnight Express—was identified as the main source of the heroin sold in the West. Just like in Afghanistan, a ban was tried, and it failed.
As a result, in 1974, the Turks, with U.S. and U.N. support, tried a different tactic. They began licensing poppy cultivation for the purpose of producing morphine, codeine, and other legal opiates. Legal factories were built to replace the illegal ones. Farmers registered to grow poppies, and they paid taxes. You wouldn't necessarily know this from the latest White House drug strategy report—which devotes several pages to Afghanistan but doesn't mention Turkey—but the U.S. government still supports the Turkish program, even requiring U.S. drug companies to purchase 80 percent of what the legal documents euphemistically refer to as "narcotic raw materials" from the two traditional producers, Turkey and India.
Why not add Afghanistan to this list? The only good arguments against doing so—as opposed to the silly, politically correct, "just say no" arguments—are technical: that the weak or nonexistent bureaucracy will be no better at licensing poppy fields than at destroying them, or that some of the raw material will still fall into the hands of the drug cartels. Yet some of these problems can be solved by building processing factories at the local level and working within local power structures. And even if the program only succeeds in stopping half the drug trade, then a huge chunk of Afghanistan's economy will still emerge from the gray market, the power of the drug barons will be reduced, and, most of all, Western money will have been visibly spent helping Afghan farmers survive instead of destroying their livelihoods. The director of the Senlis Council, a group that studies the drug problem in Afghanistan, told me he reckons that the best way to "ensure more Western soldiers get killed" is to expand poppy eradication further.
While I'm generally a fan of eliminating all aspects of the illegal drug trade, I have to say that I'm all for the policy of making the cultivation of poppies legal. Now the reason why I support this is the fact that the cultivation of these products actually provide legitimate medicines and painkillers which if conducted in a proper method could also provide a healthy living for the impoverished people of Afghanistan(If they can wrestle this away from the nefarious elements of the country). It might go against the principles and policies that we have established in fighting the "War on Drugs" in Central and Southern America but I'm guessing that fighting terrorists and keeping or turning Afghans in our favor far outweighs what we can achieve in destroying such an abundant cash crop. Legalizing poppy grow and making a living out of the production sure beats having more smack on the streets of America and Europe. Maybe someone in NATO, the Pentagon, the NSC, or White House is paying attention to Applebaum's work.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I'm all for helping the everyday person with lower energy prices but feel that passing the burden on the American people via higher taxes, restraints on domestic drilling, more red tape and driving us further into the arms of foreign producers(Less than friendly nations at that) isn't the way forward for greater energy independence.
This bill is said to promote America's energy independence, but the biggest winner may be OPEC. This is a lengthy, complicated bill, but the central idea is simple: Raise taxes on domestic oil producers and then spend the money to subsidize ethanol, solar energy, windmills (so long as they're not on Cape Cod), and so on. But if you increase the cost of domestic oil production by $10 billion, you are ensuring that U.S. imports of OPEC oil will rise and domestic production will fall.
The bill also includes a "Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve" fund for alternative fuels. That sounds a lot like the Carter-era Synthetic Fuels Corporation -- one of the more notorious Washington boondoggles of all time, having spent $2.1 billion of tax dollars on alternative fuels before declaring bankruptcy. Today there is no under-investment by the private sector in alternative energy. The research firm New Energy Finance has found that between 2004 and 2006 investment in alternative energy doubled to $63 billion. Venture capital funding of green-energy technologies has quadrupled since 1998.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Here's the second part of Lisa Myers report on the turf fight between the Army and Pentagon over the "Trophy."
Some of the agenda is being overtaken by events already; the case for government funding for embryonic stem-cell research has been badly hurt by new advances, reported this weekend, in non- embryonic research.
Almost every item on the agenda, meanwhile, will be second- guessed by the Senate and president. And few of the items that make it into law are likely to inspire lasting gratitude in the public mind.
By the end of next week, the 100 hours of frenetic legislative activity will be over. Then, like Gingrich before her, Pelosi will be staring at several hundred days with little definite to do. And before too long she may find herself, metaphorically at least, reaching for the ice buckets.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Added to this Licolnian/Trumanesque shake up of his national security/defense shakeup, the President is in the process of putting together an Iraq policy that moves away from the status quo and introduces policies that are bold and designed to bring about success. Even with such important and decisive decisions, we still have politicians rumbling about how President Bush refuses to change course and is flat out wrong on Iraq. Now I know that moving folks around and introducing more troops might not be a golden ticket to a clear victory in the near future but at least the President is doing his job as Commander-in-Chief and is making moves that he clearly sees as being in our best interests in ensuring a secure Iraq and thus making it possible for us to eventually draw down our forces from Iraq in a future date and time.
All I can hope for is that the President lays out a good Iraq policy before the American people tonight and such a policy brings about some good results. While people might deny it, the US has got to hold the gap in Iraq and achieve a lasting victory or we'll see a far darker future with an embolden enemy ready to take us on our shores. So here's praying for a great success in Iraq.
*As a student of history, I feel it's fitting as this pivotal time in our history to remember the following words from Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Friday, January 05, 2007
Thursday, January 04, 2007
The further to the left you are — particularly to the secular left — the less likely you are to donate your time or money to charity. Imagine two demographically identical people, except that Joe goes to church regularly and rejects the idea that the government should redistribute wealth to lessen inequality, while Sam never goes to church and favors state-driven income redistribution. Brooks says the data indicate that not only is Joe Churchgoer nearly twice as likely as Sam Secularist to give money to charities in a given year, he will also give 100 times more money per year to charities (and 50 times more to non-religious ones).While America has a long way to go before it can change the minds and powerful interests that still cling to the various vestiges of FDR's New Deal and Johnson's Great Society, the debate and public at large will gain a greater perspective on the debate on the fight on poverty. Above all, Brooks' Who Really Cares should be a great blinking sign to populists like John Edwards that this dream world of greater involvement of government in our lives is something of the past and will always be done in by the private sector and individual initiative. I recall that Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Ronald Reagan have got a lot of mileage out of such ideas.
Because Brooks is using vast pools of data, and because he’s talking about averages rather than individuals, there is no end of exceptions to prove the rule. No doubt there are pious Scrooges and Santa-like atheists. But, basically, if you are religiously observant, a married parent, and skeptical toward the role of government, you are much more likely to be generous with your time and money.
You’re also more likely to be a political conservative, but it’s a mistake to find causation in that correlation. Certain types of people are likely to be conservative and to be charitable. But being a conservative doesn't make you charitable.
Still, the partisan ammo is what has interested the Bill O’Reilly types the most — and it is interesting, since it so directly contradicts the generations-old propaganda of the left, which depicts the rich right as stingy, unfeeling and selfish. “Blue state” America spends a lot of time talking about how much more caring and enlightened it is. But that’s with somebody else’s money. When it’s their own money, that’s a different story.
*Also, check out Andrew Ferguson's column over at Bloomberg.com on Arthur C. Brooks' Who Really Cares.
Victor Davis Hanson(VDH) has a good piece out today which takes an overarching look at our fight on Islamic terrorism in the Middle East and points out that even though the sacrifices that we have made or are going to make with regards to Iraq far outweighs the fate that awaits us if we lose this war. Here's a look at what VDH has to say about the crossroads we face with regards to Iraq:
It would be nice if a lot of the folks in D.C. would take VDH's ideas and adopt a warrior ethos to winning the the battle for Western Civilization rather than offering "hot-air" or bombast that does nothing but catch headlines or helping advance themselves to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2008. With the nostalgia of Ford floating around the ether, I believe we need can reformulate the 38th President's WIN(Whip Inflation Now) slogan into a a 2007 foreign policy centric slogan of Win Iraq Now. It might be corny but it sounds like a winner compared to some of the ideas coming out of the Capitol Hill or from the Iraq Study Group(which had a lot of Ford realist foreign policy acolytes.)
One, we can withdraw ground troops and return to punitive and conventional bombing — tit-for-tat retaliation for each attack in the future. That way, the United States stays distant and smacks the jihadists on their home bases below. Few Americans die; terrorists sometimes do. The bored media stay more concentrated on the terrorists' provocations, not on our standoff response from 30,000 feet in the clouds.
Or American forces, at great danger, can continue to change the political and economic structure of the Middle East in hopes of fostering constitutional governments that might curb terrorism for generations. This current engagement demands our soldiers fight jihadists on their vicious turf, but by our humanitarian rules. For this, we must pay the ensuing human and materiel price — all broadcast live on the evening news.
The first choice, a return to what was practiced throughout the 1980s and 1990s, is easy and offers short-term relief with little controversy. But the second path, which we have taken to prevent another 9/11, is hard, lengthy and thus unpopular. Yet it holds out the promise of long-term solutions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Presidents Reagan, Bush senior and Clinton, who respectively skedaddled out of Beirut, skipped Baghdad and fled from Mogadishu, didn't risk, lose or solve much against the terrorists.
In contrast, George W. Bush wagered everything by going into Afghanistan and Iraq. And he will either make things much worse or much better for millions — depending on how successfully the United States can endure the messy type of war that jihadists welcome and the American military usually seeks to avoid.
Military success on the ground now demands that we expand the rules of engagement to allow our troops to shoot more of the jihadists, disarm the militias, train even more Iraqis troops to take over security more quickly, and seal the Syrian and Iranian borders.
This solution, of course, is easier said than done. The military must use more force against those who are destroying Iraqi democracy at precisely the time the American public has become exasperated with both the length and human cost of the war.
Imagine this war as a sort of grotesque race. The jihadists and sectarians win if they can kill enough Americans to demoralize us enough that we flee before Iraqis and Afghans stabilize their new found freedom. They lose if they can't. Prosperity, security and liberty are the death knell to radical Islam. It's that elemental.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
I know that future or aspiring tyrants are not much into reading Bloomberg.com columns or Fire of Liberty but if they are smart they should think twice about what a fate awaits them if the become another Saddam. For me, the fate of Saddam is more in accord with justice than the fate that awaited the likes of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Franco or awaits Castro.
Nobody was willing to stand up for the Kurds. By the mid- 1970s, C.L. Sulzberger of the New York Times invoked Voltaire's phrase about hanging. Sulzberger titled a column ``To Be Obscurely Hanged'' about the unnoticed fate of the Kurds.
The message from the rest of the world -- Nixon, Kissinger, Ford, Jimmy Carter and other leaders -- was the same: No one will stand up for the Kurds. In the 1980s, Saddam killed Kurds by the tens of thousands at another moment of U.S. preoccupation. For decades, Saddam remained sure he could get away with it.
My own view is that this story doesn't reflect on Ford, a thoroughly decent man who lacked -- along with all other American presidents -- the ability to police every injustice in every country on the globe. But it does remind us of the cynical killings that happen when the rest of us are looking away.
Realpolitik, the policy of getting along with other nations, rather than righting injustices within them, is newly fashionable. That's all right, but we should remember its negative consequences.
Most importantly, all this history reminds us of why Saddam had to go on trial in the first place. When you hang a hangman in a most public way, you give future murderers pause -- at least some of them. And you step a bit more confidently into the light of the new year.
*For some further commentary on Saddam see here, here, and here.