Saturday, October 29, 2005

Stephen F. Hayes: A Spooked White House

The damage that has already been done by the CIA leak investigation.

The Weekly Standard
11/07/2005, Volume 011, Issue 08

AFTER A 22-MONTH investigation into the compromising of CIA operative Valerie Plame, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald handed down a five-count indictment of Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff,

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Even before that lengthy investigation reached its conclusion, critics of the Bush administration had begun to articulate the new conventional wisdom on its outcome: The Bush administration lied about Iraq before the invasion and has been lying ever since.

Frank Rich, in a column that ran on October 16, 2005, in the New York Times, wrote under the headline, "It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby."

Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel made a similar argument in an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews last week. In response to a question about the Fitzgerald investigation, she said: "These are serious matters of national security, of misleading the country into the gravest crime one could commit, an unnecessary war."

These efforts to frame the investigation so as to inflict maximum damage on the White House appear to be working. By last Friday morning, David Gergen, who often serves as chief spokesman for the conventional wisdom, was calling the upcoming court battle the "trial of the war in Iraq." This, he says, will "keep the administration on the defensive" for months and will make it very difficult to govern. Congressional Democrats used the occasion to call for hearings into the alleged misuse of intelligence.

In the literal sense, attempts to link the case for war in Iraq to the Fitzgerald investigation are illogical. If a White House official lied to a grand jury in 2004, as Fitzgerald contends, that fact has little bearing on the case made for war in Iraq in 2002.

Fitzgerald was asked directly about the connection between the indictment and the Iraq war during his press conference Friday.

Question: A lot of Americans, people who are opposed to the war, critics of the administration, have looked to your investigation with hope in some ways and might see this indictment as a vindication of their argument that the administration took the country to war on false premises.
Does this indictment do that?

Fitzgerald: This indictment is not about the war. This indictment's not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel.
This is simply an indictment that says, in a national security investigation about the compromise of a CIA officer's identity that may have taken place in the context of a very heated debate over the war, whether some person--a person, Mr. Libby--lied or not.
The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction.
And I think anyone who's concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn't look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.

Fitzgerald is, of course, right. And in any case the attempt to link the two issues seems counterproductive. Where they do overlap--Joseph Wilson's claim that he had "debunked" Bush administration assertions about an Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger--they point to an embarrassment for the war critics and reporters who invested so much in his self-aggrandizing fantasies: Wilson lied.

It may seem strange that war opponents would seek to relitigate the case for war in Iraq on such a flimsy foundation as these now-discredited claims. But the antiwar agitators are not nearly as dumb as their slogans make them sound. They appear to understand that a scandal-hungry news media, the ongoing difficulties in Iraq, and a weary American public provide an environment hospitable to even their most outrageous claims.

And in one very important sense, the critics are right to assert a connection between the case for war in Iraq and the Fitzgerald inquiry. It is this: For the better part of two years, as the case grew from a routine Justice Department inquiry to an independent investigation conducted by a no-nonsense special prosecutor, the Bush administration gradually ceded the debate over the Iraq war to its harshest critics. These two developments are not coincidental.

The investigations have already had a dramatic effect on the Bush White House and its defense of the war in Iraq.

AS THE SUMMER of 2003 began, Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha (MET Alpha), the task force assigned to find stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, was having little success. Back in Washington, skepticism about finding such stockpiles grew and finger-pointing began.

Even before the war, the CIA began leaking stories that raised the prospect that the intelligence about Iraq's WMD programs was less certain than Bush administration policymakers were making it sound. The stories puzzled and annoyed these policymakers since the finished intelligence products--such as the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate--had included strongly worded conclusions about the threat from Iraqi WMD. Many White House officials suspected that the leaks were condoned by Agency leadership and designed as a preemptive "CIA-CYA"--a contingency plan to shift the blame from the Agency in the event some of the intelligence was bad. These suspicions grew when Joseph Wilson began telling his story, first anonymously, then as a would-be whistle-blower. As some Bush administration officials quietly tried to correct Wilson's misrepresentations, others contemplated a bold move that would undercut the leaks from the Agency.

Ironically, this strategy was revealed in a little-noticed passage in what has become one of the most discussed newspaper columns in recent memory. At the end of his July 14, 2003, column that identified Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, Robert Novak wrote that understanding the claims and counterclaims about Wilson's mission "requires scrutinizing the CIA summary of what their envoy reported." Novak reported: "The Agency never before has declassified that kind of information, but the White House would like it to do just that now--in its and in the public's interest."

Within days, the CIA had declassified significant portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. That document reflected the consensus view of the 15 intelligence agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community.

We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade. (See INR alternative view at the end of these Key Judgments.)

We judge that we are seeing only a portion of Iraq's WMD efforts, owing to Baghdad's vigorous denial and deception efforts. Revelations after the Gulf war starkly demonstrate the extensive efforts undertaken by Iraq to deny information.

We lack specific information on many key aspects of Iraq's WMD programs. Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its missile program, and invested more heavily in biological weapons; in the view of most agencies, Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

Iraq's growing ability to sell oil illicitly increases Baghdad's capabilities to finance WMD programs; annual earnings in cash and goods have more than quadrupled, from $580 million in 1998 to about $3 billion this year. Iraq has largely rebuilt missile and biological weapons facilities damaged during Operation Desert Fox and has expanded its chemical and biological infrastructure under the cover of civilian production.

And later, a discussion of Iraq's nuclear capabilities:

Although we assess that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any, he remains intent on acquiring them. Most agencies assess that Baghdad started reconstituting its nuclear program about the time that UNSCOM inspectors departed--December 1998.

The NIE specifically addressed claims of Iraq seeking uranium from Africa:

A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement.

Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We cannot confirm whether Iraq succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.

And finally, the NIE offered these conclusions with "high confidence":

Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.
We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.
Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.
Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.

There were, to be sure, dissenting opinions included in the NIE. Most notably, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research found the available evidence that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear programs "inadequate." But these judgments were footnotes, figuratively and in some cases literally. Larry Wilkerson, former State Department chief of staff and now an outspoken Bush administration critic, put it this way in a recent speech in which he described the intelligence Colin Powell used for his presentation to the U.N. Security Council. "People say, well, INR dissented. That's a bunch of bull. INR dissented that the nuclear program was up and running. That's all INR dissented on. They were right there with the chems and the bios. . . . The consensus of the intelligence community was overwhelming."

Bush administration officials reasonably believed that releasing the NIE would stanch the flow of leaks coming from the CIA and would weaken the claims that "Bush lied" to take the country to war. They were mistaken.

On September 26, 2003, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell and MSNBC's Alex Johnson reported on the MSNBC website the following: "The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman's husband, a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa, NBC News has learned." The referral from the CIA to the Justice Department was classified and, according to officials with knowledge of the process, was almost certainly leaked by the CIA to put public pressure on the Justice Department to launch an investigation. It worked.

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales ordered White House officials to provide the FBI any documents related to the compromising of Valerie Plame. Almost immediately, Democratic politicians and left-leaning editorial boards began a campaign to call for the appointment of a special prosecutor. Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the case, and on December 30, 2003, Deputy Attorney General James Comey appointed Patrick Fitzgerald.

For much of the next year, the Bush administration was willing to defend the Iraq war because it was the main issue in the 2004 presidential campaign. John Kerry, the Democratic nominee, repeatedly accused the administration of misleading the country into war. But Kerry had been a vocal supporter of regime change in Iraq throughout the Clinton presidency and had voted to authorize the Iraq war. His running mate, North Carolina senator John Edwards, voted the same way and had gone even further than the Bush administration, warning before the war that Saddam Hussein presented an "imminent threat" to the national security of the United States.

On the stump, President Bush continued to make the case that Saddam Hussein had been a threat. On July 12, 2004, nearly a year after the NIE was released, Bush spoke at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee:

Three years ago, the ruler of Iraq was a sworn enemy of America, who provided safe haven for terrorists, used weapons of mass destruction, and turned his nation into a prison. Saddam Hussein was not just a dictator; he was a proven mass murderer who refused to account for weapons of mass murder. Every responsible nation recognized this threat, and knew it could not go on forever.

America must remember the lessons of September the 11th. We must confront serious dangers before they fully materialize. And so my administration looked at the intelligence on Iraq, and we saw a threat. Members of the United States Congress from both political parties looked at the same intelligence, and they saw a threat. The United Nations Security Council looked at the intelligence, and it saw a threat. The previous administration and the Congress looked at the intelligence and made regime change in Iraq the policy of our country.

This argument would end up being the administration's strongest defense of the case for war in Iraq to this day.

FITZGERALD'S INVESTIGATION continued largely out of public view. More than two dozen White House officials were interviewed by the FBI. Many of them later testified before the grand jury. An already cautious White House closed in on itself. Emails on issues of any importance were a thing of the past. Written memos about sensitive subjects--even those wholly unrelated to the investigation--were considered unwise.

Months earlier, after the public debate over the "16 words" about uranium from Africa in the president's 2003 State of the Union address, White House chief of staff Andrew Card had ordered an overhaul of the speechwriting process. The changes were mainly bureaucratic and did not dramatically alter the way presidential speeches were written.

The experience of the "16 words" controversy, however, led the president's aides to purge any fact or piece of evidence that could possibly be challenged--whether by vetters in the speechwriting process itself or in the media. "We didn't want to have a pissing match with the [Central Intelligence] Agency on the front page of the New York Times every time we put something out," says one former Bush administration official.

The default position was to refrain from publicly asserting anything that could possibly provoke a public debate, and the result has been that each new Iraq speech the president gives--however well written--ends up sounding a lot like the last speech the president gave. For the most part, the speeches have been heavy on assertions and light on arguments. So for most of his second term the president would claim that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror without stopping to explain why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror.

This reluctance comes not from a lack of arguments to make but from a fear that if the administration aggressively makes its case, the CIA will promptly seek to undermine it through leaks that wind up on the front pages. But this self-censorship is keeping the adm
inistration from making full use of the information at its disposal. Here are three examples.

When the president mentions Abu Musab al Zarqawi, current head of al Qaeda in Iraq, he rarely points out that Zarqawi was in Iraq before the war, and he never points out that Zarqawi's operatives were working closely with senior Iraqi Baathists even as U.S. troops were engaged in "major combat" in Iraq.

When the president notes the former Iraqi regime's support for terrorism--a rare occurrence these days--he never mentions Abdul Rahman Yasin, the lone fugitive from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, who was provided assistance by the Iraqi regime in his flight from the United States. (That fact is not even controversial: It is cited in the July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report on prewar intelligence on Iraq.) The FBI is in possession of documents that indicate Yasin was given financial support by the regime of Saddam Hussein for a decade after his return to Iraq.

There are other documents from Iraq that would help the American public understand the nature of the former Iraqi regime and why a serious war on terror required its removal. Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS) documents currently stored in a warehouse in Doha, Qatar, as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency's document exploitation project are a case in point. Many of these documents, listed in a database known as HARMONY, have rather provocative titles:

Money Transfers from Iraq to Afghanistan

Secret Meeting with Taliban Group Member and Iraqi Government (Nov. 2000)

Iraqi Effort to Cooperate with Saudi Opposition Groups and Individuals

Order from Saddam to present $25,000 to Palestinian Suicide Bombers' Families

IIS Reports from Embassy in Paris: Plan to Influence French Stance in UN Security Council

IIS Report on How French Campaigns are Financed

Improvised Explosive Devices Plan

Ricin research and improvement

There are thousands of similar documents. Many have already been authenticated and most are unclassified. That's worth repeating: Most are unclassified.

Of course, nothing is more important than winning on the ground in Iraq. Demonstrating that we are killing terrorists and making steady progress on the political front will do much to blunt the criticism of the war. But if the White House refuses to challenge its critics, and refuses to explain in detail why Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and refuses to discuss the flawed intelligence on Iraqi WMD, and refuses to use its tremendous power to remind Americans that Saddam Hussein was, in fact, a threat, then it risks losing the support of those Americans who continue to believe that the Iraq war, despite all of its many costs in blood and money, was worth it.

Stephen F. Hayes is a senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

© Copyright 2005, News Corporation, Weekly Standard, All Rights Reserved.

Gibbons Advances To 2A Regional Finals

Cardinal Gibbons ends Jags' season
By Tony Castleberry, The Greenville Daily Reflector
Sunday, October 30, 2005

FARMVILLE – Catholic schools teach charity, but Cardinal Gibbons High was not very generous at Farmville Central on Saturday night.

The Crusaders invaded the Jaguars' gym for an NCHSAA third-round Class 2-A state playoff volleyball match and promptly ended FC's season in convincing fashion, recording a 25-9, 25-9, 25-11 sweep. Farmville finishes the year with a stellar 19-2 record while Gibbons (30-2) moves on to the semifinal round against the First Flight-Swansboro winner on Tuesday.

Cardinal Gibbons, a private school in Raleigh which plays in the Mid-State Conference, left little doubt about which team would advance Saturday. The Crusaders thoroughly dominated the match from the first serve. Farmville did not hold a lead or manage to tie any of the three games.

"They're a very good team," Jags coach Tara Aman said. "They have a lot of experience playing together. They play at a whole different level."

That was clear early on as Gibbons raced out to a huge lead in Game 1. A Katie Kabbes ace made it 9-1 and the rout was officially on. CG's cushion continued to expand until the Crusaders took their biggest lead of the game, 24-8. After a Farmville point, Gibbons' Tara Enzweiler recorded a kill to give CG a 25-9 victory.

Farmville Central served to start the second game, but Gibbons wasted no time getting the serve back and taking the lead when a Kabbes kill put the Crusaders in front. They scored five points before the Jaguars got on the board on a Megan Zullo kill, but that didn't slow the visitors down.

Gibbons charged ahead 17-4 behind a nearly flawless serve-receive game and rolled along until Ginny Phillips' kill gave the Crusaders their biggest lead on game point, ending it 25-9.
In Game 3, CG looked even more impressive early on, building an 11-1 lead. Farmville got a little momentum with a 3-1 spurt on a Lashonna Shannon kill and two rare Gibbons' return errors, but even after those points, CG still led 20-7. The Crusaders ended the game and the match – 25-11 – on Caroline Hammersley's kill.

It was another relatively easy victory for Gibbons, which was led by Hammersley's 10 kills and Christina Falcone's 36 assists and seven aces. When asked if all of their state playoff matches have gone this smoothly, Crusaders coach Jim Freeman was honest.

"Well, I guess we have (had it easy)," he said. "They're an experienced bunch. They feel pretty good about themselves.
"The key to everything is ball control. If we do a good job out of serve receive, then we can run our offense and we look pretty good."
For FC, it was a disappointing end to another successful season.
"We had a good season and hate it had to end this way," Aman said.

Tony Castleberry can be reached at (252) 329-9591 or at

Concert Review: Springsteen in Boston

Springsteen's solo act needs a smaller venue
By Steve Morse, Boston Globe Staff
October 29, 2005

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in concert -- raucous, celebratory, and you just know the beer taps are flowing.

A solo Springsteen show -- church-like, with seated audiences and the beer taps turned off during the program. Yes, really.

Sometimes, one has reason to believe that Springsteen can actually divide himself into two personalities. He's still touring solo these days -- he professes to love it and can find new ways to reinterpret his material -- but one has to question the wisdom of bringing this program to the arena level. Granted, he only designated half of the TD Banknorth Garden tickets for sale -- 9,000 of them, with the stage set up at mid-arena last night while he played to a curtained-off portion of the room -- but if you had seen him last spring at the Orpheum, then you know this show belongs in that size venue, not the cavernous Garden.

Last night he fought tricky acoustics, unflattering lighting, and just didn't attain the level of intimacy that this type of show demands. That said, there were still plenty of high points, many of them from his latest album, the spare ''Devils & Dust," such as the antiwar title track, the prostitute tale ''Reno," and the richly painted story of immigrant desperation, ''Matamoros Banks," which he concluded with a keening wail that has become one of his most emotional trademarks.

But some of the things that worked at the Orpheum didn't work here. His deliberately distorted vocals on a couple of tracks (this time on opener ''Idiot's Delight") were effective in the theater, but unlistenable at the echo prone Garden. The Orpheum had been a stunning, one-man, Broadway-style show with a consistent flow, but this was a more haphazard experience and some of his segues just didn't work. The worst was when he went directly from the spiritual power of ''The Rising" (and its ''sky of mercy, sky of fear" allusion to 9/11) to a hammy romp through ''Lucky Town," with its glib line, ''I wanna lose these blues I've found down in Lucky Town." Frankly, he should lose that segue.

He challenged the audience with the song list all night -- which is something every true Springsteen fan appreciates -- but he perhaps filled the set with too many obscurities this time.

He had fun with some Jerry Lee Lewis-like piano on ''You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" and added deep-catalog tunes ''Nothing Man" and ''Ain't Got You," but again, the flow was herky-jerky. He did some core tracks such as ''The River," ''Racing in the Street" (lustrously on piano), and the urgent ''Tougher Than the Rest." But after concluding with the hush of "Matamoros Banks," he appeared for the encore with a ukulele to do a zany ''Growin' Up." Of course, the song has the uproarious verse ''I took monthlong vacations in the stratosphere," so maybe the ukulele was an appropriate choice.

Yet, this was basically a mixed-impression show. Springsteen was again superb in the way he played so many stringed and keyboard instruments, but this was the kind of presentation that fit so much better in the cozier Orpheum. Period, end of thought.

© Copyright 2005 Globe Newspaper Company.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Robert Spencer: Iran Calls for a New Holocaust

Robert Spencer
October 28, 2005

The same day that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared at a conference in Tehran entitled “The World without Zionism” that Israel should be destroyed, an Islamic Jihad suicide attacker murdered at least five people in the Israeli city of Hadera. No doubt Ahmadinejad had this kind of thing in mind when he stated that “there is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will wipe off this stigma (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world”: if he condemns attacks against civilian non-combatants, he has kept it to himself.

Imagine if George W. Bush had announced that he intended to wipe Iraq, or any other nation, off the map: the domestic and international outcry that would follow would effectively end his presidency. But in the context of Israel the world has always had a higher tolerance for such talk. The Hamas Charter states that its goal is to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine,” and quotes Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan Al-Banna: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Hamas attacked Israel with 113 suicide bombers from 1993 to 2005 in pursuit of this end. Yet some Western analysts have actually advocated Hamas’ inclusion in the political process in the Palestinian Authority, as long as the group renounces violence. Is the obliteration of Israel more acceptable if it takes place without violence?

And of course, Ahmadinejad wasn’t saying anything new, as he himself made plain by invoking the Ayatollah Khomeini: “As the Imam said,” the President reminded his hearers, “Israel must be wiped off the map.” In 1979, not long after the triumph of his revolution, Khomeini dedicated the last Friday of Ramadan as an international day of jihad against Israel — making it particularly fitting that Ahmadinejad reiterated this lust for genocide and terror during Ramadan.

Ahmadinejad also made it clear that, like Hamas, he did not view the Palestinian conflict with Israel as one of nationalism, but of religion: “Anybody who recognizes Israel,” he warned, “will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation’s fury, any (Islamic leader) who recognizes the Zionist regime means he is acknowledging the surrender and defeat of the Islamic world.” It is unfortunate but true that many officials and observers in the West will be puzzled by his view that recognition of Israel would amount to defeat for Islam; although the President has begun recently to refer to the jihadists’ goal of establishing a unified caliphate under Sharia law, the totalitarian, supremacist, expansionist jihad ideology that Ahmadinejad and his ilk espouse has still received scant attention given its increasingly central role in so many world conflicts. Ahmadinejad, Hamas, and innumerable others believe that any land — not only Israel, but Spain also — that has once belonged to the House of Islam belongs to it forever. Non-Muslims may live in such lands, but only as dhimmis, protected people, subject to various forms of legal discrimination and harassment; they have no right to govern such lands. This is why Ahmadinejad views Israel as a “stigma,” and will, like Hamas, accept nothing short of its total destruction.

But this time the reaction has been different. Instead of ignoring Ahmadinejad’s call to destroy Israel, as they have so many such calls in the past, at least some Western leaders were swift to rebuke the Iranian President. Said White House spokesman Scott McClellan: “The Palestinian Authority needs to do more to end the violence and prevent terrorist attacks from being carried out. The terrorist attacks that take place only undermine the leadership of President Abbas and undermine his principle of one authority, one law, one gun.” Of course, even Abbas has not been unambiguous in his opposition to suicide attacks such as the one in Hadera on Wednesday. He attributed Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza to suicide bombings: “We must remember,” he told supporters, “that our achievements are the result of the sacrifices of the martyrs” — that is, suicide bombers. “The martyrs have paved the road for us. The sacrifices of the martyrs, the wounded and the detainees, made the occupation leave Gaza and evacuate the settlements. This step will be followed by further withdrawals from the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

But Ahmadinejad may have inadvertently initiated a shift in the prevailing winds. British Prime Minister Tony Blair was dismayed: “There has been a long time in which I have been answering questions on Iran with everyone saying to me: ‘Tell us you are not going to do anything about Iran.’ If they carry on like this, the question people are going to be asking us is: ‘When are you going to do something about this?’ You imagine a state like that, with an attitude like that, having a nuclear weapon.” He condemned the call for Israel’s destruction: “I have never come across a situation (where) the president of a country (says) they want to wipe out -- not that they’ve got a problem with, or issue with -- but want to wipe out another country. This is unacceptable, and their attitude towards Israel, their attitude towards terrorism, their attitude on the nuclear weapons issue isn’t acceptable. If they continue down this path, then people are going to believe that they are a real threat to our world’s security and stability. How are we going to build a more secure world with that type of attitude? It’s a disgrace.”

Exactly so. And Blair was not alone. Jacques Chirac said that Ahmadinejad’s words were “completely irresponsible.” Even Kofi Annan issued a statement reminding UN members that “Israel is a long-standing member of the United Nations with the same rights and obligations as every other member.”

The Iranians, however, were unrepentant. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki announced that demonstrations would be held on Friday — the last Friday of Ramadan, which Khomeini had directed be set aside for such activities — to show popular agreement with Ahmadinejad: “The world,” he predicted, “will see the anger of the Islamic world against this regime.” And other Muslim states declined comment, although Ahmadinejad’s words were splashed across front pages all over the Islamic world.

Ariel Sharon has issued a call of his own: expel Iran from the UN: “A country that calls for the destruction of another people cannot be a member of the United Nations.” If Ahmadinejad and his gang are to see that the anger of the civilized world against his criminal regime is genuine, world leaders should heed Sharon’s recommendation -- and also work quickly to defuse Iran’s nuclear program. Otherwise Iran’s Thug-in-Chief will almost certainly use those weapons to make sure that there is indeed a “world without Zionism” – and since the jihad Israel faces is the same jihad that threatens so much of the world today, this great “victory for the Islamic world” will only herald even larger cataclysms to come.

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Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.

Victor Davis Hanson: Spare Us The In-Your-Sleep Moralizing

Thursday, October 27, 2005
The Honolulu Advertiser

To paraphrase the ancient Greeks, it is easy to be moral in your sleep. Abstract ethics or soapbox lectures demanding superhuman perfection mean little without deeds.

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other global humanitarian groups recently expressed criticism over the slated trial of the mass murderer Saddam Hussein. Such self-appointed auditors of moral excellence were worried that his legal representation was inadequate. Or perhaps they felt the court of the new Iraqi democracy was not quite up to the standards of wigged European judges in The Hague.

Relay those concerns to the nearly 1 million silent souls butchered by Saddam's dictatorship. Once they waited in vain for any such international human-rights organization to stop the murdering. None could or did.

Now these global watchdogs are barking about legalities — once Saddam is in shackles thanks solely to the American military (which, too, is often criticized by the same utopian-minded groups). The new Iraqi government is sanctioned by vote and attuned to global public opinion. Saddam Hussein was neither. So Amnesty International can safely chastise the former for supposed misdemeanors after it did little concrete about the real felonies of the latter.

We've seen many examples of this in-your-sleep moralizing. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pronounced from on high that the American effort to remove Saddam was "illegal" — this after moral paragons in the Security Council like China and France chose not to sanction the enforcement of their own resolutions.

Annan presided over a callous, scandalous oil-for-food program that starved millions with the connivance of international financial players, among them his own son. Again, it is easier to grandstand on television than curb illicit profits or be firm with a killer in the real world.

Europeans especially demand heaven on earth. The European Union is now pressuring the United States to turn over its exclusive control of the Internet, which it invented and developed, to the United Nations. So far the Americans, so unlike a Saudi Arabia or China, have not blocked users from Net access, and freely adjudicate the World Wide Web according to transparent protocols.

That would never be true of the United Nations. If Iran or Zimbabwe were to end up on the Human Rights Commission, then they would be equally qualified to oversee the computers of millions of Americans. The same European elites who nitpick the United States about its sober stewardship of the Internet would be absolutely impotent once a China or Syria began tampering with millions logging on.

We see still more in-your-sleep moralizing when it comes to the topic of global warming. The heating up of the planet — and the American rejection of the Kyoto Protocol that was supposed to arrest it — is a keen source of anti-Americanism, especially in Europe.

Of course, global warming is a real problem, especially in Arctic regions. China has become the second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases next to the U.S., accomplishing in 20 years what took us 100. Yet European governments will not say much to China — it holds too much Western debt and is a lucrative market. Plus, its generals sometimes crazily talk of sending off nuclear missiles or annexing Taiwan outright.

What do all these recent examples have in common? In the world of utopianism, we see that refined reason, not force, reigns. That may be admirable, but, unfortunately, abstract moralizing has little to do with a real world in which brutes abound.

So instead, to maintain the idealistic facade, sleepwalking moralizers chastise those who listen and are civilized — but see nothing, hear nothing and speak nothing about those in the moral abyss. Not so long ago, they argued in Brussels over the next EU resolution condemning violence in the Balkans, while Milosevic butchered another 10,000.

Then there is the psychological element. When one is fearful and impotent, reassurance is found in processes, resolutions and lectures, both here and abroad — anything to find conviction that one is at least doing something when in reality doing nothing. So one can scream about a mythical flushed Quran in Guantanamo while silently shrugging that another 50,000 were killed by Islamic fanatics in Darfur.

Americans are easy targets of Kofi Annan, Amnesty International and Europeans. Our military in the shadows alone protects Westernized civilization, which makes these groups' existence both possible and sustainable. Private jets, international finance and global commerce — the world of the United Nations diplomat, concerned corporate CEO or international celebrity activist — is a product also of the U.S.-sponsored military-commercial-industrial system. Everyone from Mick Jagger and Bono to Michael Moore and Madonna partake in, and are enriched by, it. But such dependency and familiarity with the solicitous parent America apparently can breed contempt.

So Americans increasingly tune out the U.N., Amnesty International and other once-respected bodies like the Nobel Prize Committee. That's unfortunate, given the noble charters of these groups. But for all these agencies' moralizing, they increasingly prove quite immoral themselves

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jonah Goldberg: Golden Days

Standing with Buckley & co. & at 50 years young.
27 October 2005

This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Review.

This year also launches the decade in which William F. Buckley Jr., the magazine's founder and guiding spirit, starts his career as an octogenarian. As one of the most productive and accomplished septuagenarians of the 20th century, observers feel he shows great promise as a rookie in his new career.

The shock that these two anniversaries would arrive in the same year has caught some of us off guard. Who among the revelers celebrating the 40th anniversary of National Review and the 70th birthday of its founder could have guessed that the stars would so align again a mere ten years hence? Not me. Regardless, National Review has responded with a fitting series of pageants, parties, fanfares, and festrifts to the magazine and the man who created it. I’ve already sacrificed 50 bulls in Buckley’s honor and now, if you don't mind, I thought I’d sneak a small ode onto the pile.

It is just one sign of National Review's success that people think American conservatism is very old. It's not. In fact, even as we conservatives cheer the “wisdom of the ancients” and decry the modernity and even postmodernity of our ideological adversaries, American conservatism is arguably the youngest ideology on the block. Marxism, which still clings on like a tough carpet mold in a faculty lounge, is well over a century old. As are all of its dirigiste and supposedly revolutionary offspring, including socialism, environmentalism, feminism, and even anarchism. Even the “Youth Movement” began in Italy some 90 years ago.

It's always good to remember that most of those face-pierced, self-proclaimed revolutionaries marching with giant puppets and painting Hitler mustaches on George W. Bush are really the shock troops of ideological kitsch.

And in the Beginning…

Conservatism in America begins in the 1950s with National Review. If you hear someone talking about the Old Right of the 1930s, and how that's what defines “real conservatism,” you’ve either met a very grumpy agrarian poet, a cape-wearing anarchist with oddly pro-Belgian tendencies, an angry Prussian socialist of some kind, a fusty Whig — or, most likely, someone who simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

It would be an exaggeration to say the “Old Right” is a myth, but the term is really more of a label imposed on a eclectic collection of “superfluous men” who stood outside of the historical currents, lamenting the rush and foam of the Progressive tide. But they belonged to no movement, shared little that could be called a political program, and, as a group, if they voted at all, they did so the way a man in a blindfold shoots a gun at a crowd.
Now, of course, there have always been small-c conservatives. The conservative temperament is bred into our genes. The first small-c conservative probably said something like, “I know these berries won’t kill me. About those berries, I am not so sure.”

A liberal might read that sentence and exclaim, “Aha! Conservatism is based on fear. Liberalism is based on hope!” And, to a certain extent, the liberal would be right. But the conservative’s fear is also a form of caution based upon experience (I know this berry is good. I have no information about that berry). The liberal’s hope, meanwhile, is often based on ignorance and foolish optimism. “Maybe that tiger likes to be tickled. I will find out. It shall be great fun.”

Perhaps this dynamic is why liberalism took so long to manifest itself. Its most exuberant adherents kept getting eaten by tigers (which, by the way, is a metaphor for millennia of trial and error, mostly error).

Indeed, classical liberalism got its start in the bloody wars which came out of the reformation. “Before the reformation,” wrote Lord Hugh Cecil, “it is impossible to distinguish conservatism in politics, not because there was none, but because there was nothing else.” While lacking in totalitarian technology, European monarchs had a surfeit of totalitarian metaphysics. Everybody believed that the state was there to impose a religious worldview on the whole of society.

Dissenters from that worldview didn’t like it. The horrific fights between Catholics and Protestants — not to mention the Inquisition, the expulsions of Jews from various lands, etc — raged for more than a century until finally a few tired folks declared, “let’s call a draw!” And the compromises inherent to that draw came to be called liberalism. Locke, Hobbes, Smith, Montesquieu, and the gang crafted this neat theory which said the state is formed to protect the interests of individuals. Our rights to life and property exist prior to the state’s right to exist. If the state violates the former it abdicates its claim to the latter.

Anyway, fast forward to the Progressive era (cue "boo" track). The Progressives, borrowing deeply from Germany in general and Hegel, Marx, and Darwin in particular, broke this covenant. The Progressives revived what amounted to the medieval view of society as a living organism with the state — run by experts — as the new king. Hegel had declared in The Philosophy of History that “the state is the actually existing, realized moral life. . . . The divine idea as it exists on earth.” The Progressives believed this, particularly Woodrow Wilson, who was a soaked-to-the-bone Hegelian. I get into a lot of this in my in-progress book (almost done — really!), so let’s just say that Jane Addams, the high priestess of Progressivism, spoke for an entire generation when she said “we must demand that the individual shall be willing to lose the sense of personal achievement, and shall be content to realize his activity only in the connection with the activity of the many.”

This spirit deeply informed not just the New Deal but also the academy. The modern university and the professionalized academic disciplines of political science and economics were dominated by a whole generation of German-trained academics. Charles Beard, Richard Ely, EA Ross, Woodrow Wilson, WEB Du Bois, and countless others were all indoctrinated with the Progressive vision of the god-state, and they imposed that vision on the modern university. By 1934, the Committee on Social Studies of the American Historical Association matter-of-factly reported: “The age of individualism and laissez faire in economy and government is closing and the new age of collectivism is emerging.” When Bill Buckley showed up at Yale, a decade and half later, such ideas had been absorbed into the woodwork, becoming the new conventional wisdom. Progressivism was now called “liberalism” even though it represented the exact opposite.

Lionel Trilling’s famous observation, made in 1950, is worth recalling even if it has become a cliché to do so:

In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation… the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not… express themselves in ideas but only… in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.

The problem with the overuse of this quote is that it is often used misleadingly. The conservatism Trilling refers to isn’t really the conservatism of today. People throw out this quote and then celebrate the irony that Buckley’s God and Man at Yale came out the next year. But Buckley’s conservatism — or what came to be Buckley’s conservatism — had never existed before. Buckley’s emergence didn’t prove that Trilling was wrong; it proved that Trilling was outdated.

The core of American conservatism — which is Buckleyite conservatism — is traditional Anglo-American liberalism. Indeed, the rise of modern conservatism predates Buckley’s arrival in that it was the libertarians who first rattled the cage of Progressive groupthink after World War II. There’s a reason why the first chapter in George Nash’s still-indispensable history of the conservative movement is titled “Revolt of the Libertarians.” But a tradition is not an ideology. And in the early days of the Cold War, with the God-state marching abroad and at home, Buckley recognized it takes an ideology to fight an ideology. And within that ideology the importance of the individual is enormous, but nonetheless insufficient. Which is just one reason why Buckley refers to “Christian individualists” in God and Man at Yale and not mere “individualists.”

Buckley understood that anyone, even barbarians, can be “individualists.” Individualism, properly understood, requires a larger moral and political context to work. The liberalism of the American founders was formed with a moral and metaphysical superstructure, which had been eroded by industrialization, urbanization, and the steady flotsam of various statist ideologies washing up on our shores. Pragmatism, reform Darwinism, progressivism, socialism and countless other isms had belittled and diminished the “old dogmas” of liberty, as the desiccated carapaces shed off by History on the March. The secular collective, not the Christian individual, was the form the God-state chose to manifest itself in this time.

Hence National Review got to work trying to craft a new ideology which stood up to Hegel’s historicist God-state. Indeed, had not Hegel proclaimed that the state was the “march of God on earth”? That is the History National Review was founded to stand athwart and yell “Stop” to.

The First Neocons

Today, uninformed or disingenuous people seem to think that neoconservatism is warmed-over Trotskyism while the original National Review represented “real” and “American” conservatism. This has a lot to do with the fact that the so-called neoconservatives, who arrived a generation after National Review, were former Communists and Trotskyites.

The problem with this analysis is that it leaves out the fact that many of the titans who founded the National Review were the all-star team of ex-Communists while the neoconservatives were at best the equivalents of gophers and interns in the Communist party. James Burnham was a member of the Trotskyite Fourth International, co-edited The New International, and was in near constant contact with Trotsky by telegram for years. Max Eastman was Trotsky’s translator and American literary agent. Will Herberg had once been so committed to Communism he and his wife refused to have children because they believed nothing should distract them from world revolution (he was kicked out of the American Communist party for opposing Stalin’s purge of Bukharin) Whitaker Chambers was, of course, a major Communist spy (as was — heh — Alger Hiss). The relevance of so many former Communists working on a conservative magazine exceeds the fun in disputing the anti-neocon crowd. These men understood the appeal of the God-state and the need to break the spell it held on millions. This required forging a new ideology which took account of the old things which were no less true for being old.

The heat of that forge came from anti-Communism. In many respects American conservatism was an attempt to create a rationale for defending everything the Soviet Union was not. Our constitutional rights limit the power of government while expanding the liberty of the individual (despite FDR’s attempts to reverse this arrangement). The Soviet bill of rights expanded the power of government and curtailed the autonomy of the individual.

Conservatives favored geographic diversity, allowing localities to govern themselves (a principle some conservatives unfortunately supported to the point of perversity, as in the case of Jim Crow). The progressive mind at home and abroad believed in the One Best Way for everything. The conservative mind championed transcendence, the authority of God and the wisdom of the ancients. The progressive mind chuckled at transcendence, disputed the authority of God when it interfered with the expertise of the state and scoffed at the wisdom of the ancients as the prattling of irrelevant, greedy dead men in funny clothes. Conservatives saw nothing wrong — and much that was right — with attaching one’s loyalties to a place, a specific civilization; and if that meant defending that place and that civilization, then so be it. The progressive mind is universal and cosmopolitan and hence finds its allegiance in concepts of the parliaments of man. He strives for utopia — which means “no place.” The conservative strives for eutopia, which simply means the “good place.” Conservatives value the berry in hand, while the progressive fantasizes about the berry never tasted.

Freedom vs. Virtue

With this in mind, Buckley employed intellectual ruthlessness and relentless personal charm to keep that which is good about libertarianism, what we’ve come to call “social conservatism,” and what was necessary about anti-Communism in the movement. This meant throwing friends and allies off the bus from time to time. The Randians, the Rothbardian anarchists and isolationists, the Birchers, the anti-Semites, the me-too Republicans: All of these groups in various combinations were purged from the movement and masthead, sometimes painfully, sometimes easily, but always with the ideal of keeping the cause honest and pointed north to the ideal fixed in his compass.

That ideal has come to be called “fusionism” which seeks to bind the imperatives of virtue and freedom. While these two principles may rest comfortably in our own hearts and minds, making them work perfectly on paper has eluded us. The General Unified Theory of Conservatism has never been worked out. The man who tried the hardest was Frank Meyer, the author of fusionism (even though it was actually Brent Bozell who came up with the label — as an insult). The basic point of fusionism was that virtue must be humanity’s aim, but virtue must be freely chosen — otherwise, it's just so much conditioning.

The great irony is that Buckley failed, at least in this respect. Conservative dogma remains unsettled, conservatism remains cleaved ideologically. (The best Buckley himself could offer were some “Notes Toward an Empirical Definition of Conservatism.") We still debate what the “conservative” position is on foreign policy, the role of government at home, and when the pursuit of virtue should trump freedom and vice versa. Where Buckley succeeded was in proving that a political movement could thrive even as it constantly reexamines its first principles. Indeed, Buckley proved that a political movement is more likely to succeed when it keeps its intellectual fighting skills sharp by skirmishing internally. If that violates the aesthetics of the cult of unity, so be it. Unity is a high political value, but a low philosophical one. Conservatives understand the best we’ll ever get is a eutopia anyway.

Bill Buckley Changed the World

That is a good lesson for both conservatives and liberals alike. Liberal dogma has been settled for a very long time. Like a varnish, progressive ideology has seeped so deep into the grain of liberalism that its adherents cannot even recognize it as a stain. It is simply the natural color of the Way Things Are. The merit of a state which should always seek to do good where it can and when it can is no longer a philosophically debatable proposition for them. It is simply common sense. Arguments about philosophy still occur on some campuses, but out in the world the only arguments are about tactics. Hence the irony of those desperately trying to recreate the “conservative infrastructure” — think tanks, talk radio, magazines, etc. Conservatism didn’t rise because conservatives had buildings and paper; it rose because of the arguments contained therein.

And that is the lesson for conservatives as well. Success breeds laziness and power feeds the cancer of self-justification. Too many conservatives today subscribe to the view that something is conservative if it helps conservatives — usually defined as Republicans. But a movement which was born with an open and healthy hostility to the Republican party should not forget that good arguments breed good policies.

This began as what I’d hoped to be a short toast to a great man to whom I owe much but have almost never offered tribute or gratitude. But I’m afraid my desire to have an argument has gotten the better of me, which itself is a form of tribute.

But I should say this: William F. Buckley understood that conservatism can only be a partial philosophy of life, because any calling which claims to be a whole philosophy of life is not one at all. It is a religion, and in all likelihood a false one. Armed with this conviction, he changed the world by arguing with those who could not comprehend that a man could be joyful, charming, generous, and passionate about hobbies and people far outside politics while walking against what all the right people insisted was the tide of All Good Things. In this he remains the archetype for conservatism, properly understood.

Conservatives believe in dreams but we don’t believe they can ever be made reality in this life. Nonetheless, when Bill Buckley once asked, “Have you ever seen a dream walking?” he may not have realized that for conservatives, at least, he was the answer to his own question.

Thomas Sowell: Rosa Parks and History

October 27, 2005
Thomas Sowell

The death of Rosa Parks has reminded us of her place in history, as the black woman whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, in accordance with the Jim Crow laws of Alabama, became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Rosa Parks is fingerprinted by Dep. Sherriff D.H. Lackey in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 22, 1956, two months after refusing to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger on Dec. 1, 1955. Parks, whose refusal sparked the modern civil rights movement, died on October 24th. photo: Gene Herrick / AP

Most people do not know the rest of the story, however. Why was there racially segregated seating on public transportation in the first place? "Racism" some will say -- and there was certainly plenty of racism in the South, going back for centuries. But racially segregated seating on streetcars and buses in the South did not go back for centuries.

Far from existing from time immemorial, as many have assumed, racially segregated seating in public transportation began in the South in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Those who see government as the solution to social problems may be surprised to learn that it was government which created this problem. Many, if not most, municipal transit systems were privately owned in the 19th century and the private owners of these systems had no incentive to segregate the races.

These owners may have been racists themselves but they were in business to make a profit -- and you don't make a profit by alienating a lot of your customers. There was not enough market demand for Jim Crow seating on municipal transit to bring it about.

It was politics that segregated the races because the incentives of the political process are different from the incentives of the economic process. Both blacks and whites spent money to ride the buses but, after the disenfranchisement of black voters in the late 19th and early 20th century, only whites counted in the political process.

It was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of the white voters to demand racial segregation. If some did and the others didn't care, that was sufficient politically, because what blacks wanted did not count politically after they lost the vote.

The incentives of the economic system and the incentives of the political system were not only different, they clashed. Private owners of streetcar, bus, and railroad companies in the South lobbied against the Jim Crow laws while these laws were being written, challenged them in the courts after the laws were passed, and then dragged their feet in enforcing those laws after they were upheld by the courts.

These tactics delayed the enforcement of Jim Crow seating laws for years in some places. Then company employees began to be arrested for not enforcing such laws and at least one president of a streetcar company was threatened with jail if he didn't comply.

None of this resistance was based on a desire for civil rights for blacks. It was based on a fear of losing money if racial segregation caused black customers to use public transportation less often than they would have in the absence of this affront.

Just as it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of whites to demand racial segregation through the political system to bring it about, so it was not necessary for an overwhelming majority of blacks to stop riding the streetcars, buses and trains in order to provide incentives for the owners of these transportation systems to feel the loss of money if some blacks used public transportation less than they would have otherwise.

People who decry the fact that businesses are in business "just to make money" seldom understand the implications of what they are saying. You make money by doing what other people want, not what you want.

Black people's money was just as good as white people's money, even though that was not the case when it came to votes.

Initially, segregation meant that whites could not sit in the black section of a bus any more than blacks could sit in the white section. But whites who were forced to stand when there were still empty seats in the black section objected. That's when the rule was imposed that blacks had to give up their seats to whites.

Legal sophistries by judges "interpreted" the 14th Amendment's requirement of equal treatment out of existence. Judicial activism can go in any direction.

That's when Rosa Parks came in, after more than half a century of political chicanery and judicial fraud.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Paul Craig Roberts: Could Someone Recommend a President?

25 October 2005

Someone should tell Condi Rice that the gig is up. With the Bush administration dissolving in illegalities committed by key officials in their attempts to protect the lies that they used to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the secretary of state is trying to ramp up war against Syria.
Grasping a U.N. report that uses unreliable witnesses to implicate Syria in the assassination of a former Lebanese government official, Condi Rice told the BBC on Oct. 23 that Syria’s crime cannot be “left lying on the table. This really has to be dealt with.”

This is amazing for many reasons. Here is the person in charge of U.S. diplomacy acting as if she is the secretary of war, unsheathing military force. Whoever heard of an American diplomat wanting to start a war because a former Middle Eastern government official was assassinated?

The U.N. investigator, Detlev Mehlis, has no more idea who assassinated the former official than the United States knows who is responsible for assassinating the many Iraqi officials under its protection. After more than two-and-one-half years of war in Iraq, the United States still doesn’t know exactly who the enemy is that it is fighting. Yet Mehlis blames Syria for an assassination on the strength of an informer described by the German news magazine Der Spiegel as a convicted felon and swindler.

On the basis of the word of a convicted felon and swindler, Condi Rice wants a high-level U.N. Security Council meeting to condemn Syria so the Bush administration can bring about “regime change” in Syria.

With the U.S. Department of State doing everything it can to demonize and destabilize Syria, Condi Rice’s mouthpiece, Adam Ereli, declared that Syria must end attempts to destabilize its neighbors. This is the type of propaganda we were fed about Iraq. Syria is not destabilizing any country. It is all Syria can do to maintain its own stability. The United States is the great Middle Eastern destabilizer.

Isn’t the secretary of state aware that the government of which she is a part is in dire difficulties because it went to war based on highly unreliable “intelligence” supplied by highly unreliable people?

Does the secretary of state read the CIA reports? Doesn’t she know that the United States has created extraordinary instability in Iraq? A country that formerly had no terrorists now serves as a training ground for Al-Qaida, according to the CIA.

Is this the time to repeat the Iraq blunder in Syria?

The American people should be terrified by the warmongering ideologues that President Bush has put in charge of his government. The greatest danger that the United States faces are the fools in the Bush administration.

Why is Syria being demonized? Syrian troops were part of the U.S. coalition organized by President George Herbert Walker Bush that liberated Kuwait in 1991 from Saddam Hussein. The current head of government in Syria is a mild-mannered ophthalmologist who inherited the post five years ago when his older brother was killed in a car crash.

Syria has done nothing to the United States and poses no threat to the United States. The Syrian government is concerned about Syria becoming unhinged by schisms like the Sunni-Shi’ite schism set loose in Iraq by the incompetent Bush administration.

Why does Condi Rice think the Bush administration has the right to decide who heads the Syrian government? According to news reports, the Bush administration has asked the Israeli and Italian governments to nominate a replacement for the current president of Syria.

A country incapable of choosing a better president than George W. Bush has no business choosing a president for any other country. In place of aggressive interference in the internal affairs of other countries, the United States needs to find a competent president for itself.
Maybe we should ask the Italians whom they would recommend.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Shelby Steele: Witness

Blacks, whites, and the politics of shame in America.

The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, October 26, 2005 12:01 a.m. EDT

Probably the single greatest problem between blacks and whites in America is that we are forever witness to each other's great shames. This occurred to me in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, when so many black people were plunged into misery that it seemed the hurricane itself had held a racial animus. I felt a consuming empathy but also another, more atavistic impulse. I did not like my people being seen this way. Beyond the human mess one expects to see after a storm like this, another kind of human wretchedness was on display. In the people traversing waist-deep water and languishing on rooftops were the markers of a deep and static poverty. The despair over the storm that was so evident in people's faces seemed to come out of an older despair, one that had always been there. Here--40 years after the great civil rights victories and 50 years after Rosa Parks's great refusal--was a poverty that oppression could no longer entirely explain. Here was poverty with an element of surrender in it that seemed to confirm the worst charges against blacks: that we are inferior, that nothing really helps us, that the modern world is beyond our reach.

Of course, shame is made worse, even unbearable, when there is a witness, the eye of an "other" who is only too happy to use our shame against us. Whites and blacks often play the "other" for each other in this way, each race seeking a bit of redemption and power in the other's shame. And both races live with the permanent anxiety of being held to account for their shames by the other race. So, there is a reflex in both races that reaches for narratives to explain shame away and, thus, disarm the "other."

Therefore, it was only a matter of time before the images of deep black poverty that emerged in Katrina's aftermath were covered over in a narrative of racism: If Katrina's victims had not been black, the response to their suffering would have been faster. It did not matter that a general lack of preparedness, combined with a stunning level of governmental incompetence and confusion, made for an unforgivably slow response to Katrina's victims. What mattered was the invocation of the great white shame. And here, in white racism, was a shame of truly epic proportions--the shame of white supremacy that for centuries so squeezed the world with violence and oppression that white privilege was made a natural law. Once white racism--long witnessed by blacks and acknowledged since the '60s by whites--was in play, the subject was changed from black weakness to white evil. Now accountability for the poverty that shamed blacks could be once again assigned to whites. If this was tiresome for many whites, it was a restoration of dignity for many blacks.


In the '60s--the first instance of open mutual witness between blacks and whites in American history--a balance of power was struck between the races. The broad white acknowledgment of racism meant that whites would be responsible both for overcoming their racism and for ending black poverty because, after all, their racism had so obviously caused that poverty. For whites to suggest that blacks might be in some way responsible for their own poverty would be to relinquish this responsibility and, thus, to return to racism. So, from its start in the '60s, this balance of power (offering redemption to whites and justice to blacks) involved a skewed distribution of responsibility: Whites, and not blacks, would be responsible for achieving racial equality in America, for overcoming the shames of both races--black inferiority and white racism. And the very idea of black responsibility would be stigmatized as racism in whites and Uncle Tomism in blacks.

President Johnson's famous Howard University speech, which launched the Great Society in 1965, outlined this balance of power by explicitly spelling out white responsibility without a single reference to black responsibility. In the 40 years since that speech no American president has dared correct this oversight.

The problem here is obvious: The black shame of inferiority (the result of oppression, not genetics) cannot be overcome with anything less than a heroic assumption of responsibility on the part of black Americans. In fact, true equality--an actual parity of wealth and ability between the races--is now largely a black responsibility. This may not be fair, but historical fairness--of the sort that resolves history's injustices--is an idealism that now plagues black America by making black responsibility seem an injustice.

And yet, despite the fact that greater responsibility is the only transforming power that can take blacks to true equality, this is an idea that deeply threatens the 40-year balance of power between the races. Bill Cosby's recent demand that poor blacks hold up "their end of the bargain" and do a better job of raising their children was explosive because it threatened this balance. Mr. Cosby not only implied that black responsibility was the great transforming power; he also implied that there was a limit to what white responsibility could do. He said, in effect, that white responsibility cannot overcome black inferiority. This is a truth so obvious as to be mundane. Yet whites won't say it in the interest of their redemption and blacks won't say it in the interest of historical justice. It is left to hurricanes to make such statements.

And black responsibility undermines another purpose of this balance of power, which is to keep the shames of both races covered. It was always the grandiosity of white promises (President Johnson's promise to "end poverty in our time," today's promises of "diversity" and "inclusion") that enabled whites and American institutions to distance themselves from the shame of white racism. But if black responsibility is the great transformative power, whites are no more than humble partners in racial reform, partners upon whom little depends. In this position they cannot make grandiose claims for what white responsibility can do. And without a language of grandiose promises, the shame of white racism is harder to dispel.

But it is the shame of blacks that becomes most transparent when black responsibility is given its rightful ascendancy. When this happens blacks themselves cannot look at New Orleans without acknowledging what Bill Cosby acknowledged in a different context, that poor blacks have not held up their end of the bargain. Responsibility always comes with the risk of great shame, the shame of failing to meet the responsibility one has assumed. A great problem in black American life is that we have too often avoided responsibility in order to avoid shame. This is understandable given the unforgiving pas de deux of mutual witness between blacks and whites in which each race prepares a face for the other and seizes on the other's weaknesses with ravenous delight. And four centuries of persecution have indeed left us with weaknesses, and even a degree of human brokenness, that is shaming. Nevertheless, it is only an illusion to think that we can mute the sting of shame by charging whites with responsibility for us. This is a formula for running into the shame you run from.


Today it has to be conceded that whites have made more progress against their shame of racism than we blacks have made against our shame of inferiority. It took nothing less than four centuries, but in the '60s whites finally took open responsibility for their racism despite the shame this exposed them to. And they knew that ever-present black witness would impose on them an exacting accountability (Bill Bennett, Vicente Fox, Trent Lott) for diffusing this evil. But, in fact, racism has receded in American life because whites, at long last, took greater responsibility for making it recede despite the shame they endured. And wasn't it the certainty of shame, as much as anything else, that had kept them rationalizing their racism for so long, looking to the supposed inferiority of blacks to justify an evil?

No doubt it is easier to overcome racism than an inferiority of development grounded in centuries of racial persecution. Nevertheless, if New Orleans is a wake-up call to government, it is also a wake-up call to black America. If we want to finally erase the inferiority that oppression left us with, we have to first of all acknowledge it to ourselves, as whites did with their racism. Our scrupulous witness of whites helped them become more and more responsible for resisting the shame of racism.

And our open acknowledgment of our underdevelopment will clearly give whites a power of witness over us. It will mean that whites can hold us accountable for overcoming inferiority as we hold them to accountable for overcoming racism. They will be able to openly shame us when we are not fully at war with our underdevelopment, just as Bill Bennett was shamed for no more than giving a false impression of racism. If this prospect feels terrifying to many blacks, we have to remember that whites witness and judge us anyway, just as we have witnessed and judged their shame for so long. Mutual witness will go on no matter what balances of power we strike. It is best to be open, and allow the "other's" witness to inspire rather than shame.

Mr. Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is the author of "White Guilt" (HarperCollins), which will appear next spring.

Christopher Hitchens- George Galloway: Fascist Pimp and Prostitute

Christopher Hitchens
October 26, 2005

Just before my last exchange with George Galloway, which occurred on the set of Bill Maher's show in Los Angeles in mid-September, I was approached by a representative of the program and asked if I planned to repeat my challenge to Galloway on air. That challenge—would he sign an affidavit saying that he had never discussed Oil-for-Food monies with Tariq Aziz?—I had already made on a public stage in New York. Maher's producers had been asked, obviously by a nervous Galloway, to find out whether I had brought such an affidavit along with me. I replied that this was not necessary, since his public denial to me was on the record and had been broadcast, and since it further confirmed the apparent perjury that he had committed in front of the U.S. Senate on May 17, 2005. I added that I wanted no further contact with Galloway until I could have the opportunity of reviewing his prison diaries.

That day has now been brought measurably closer by the publication of the report of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. This report, which comes with a vast archive of supporting material, was embargoed until 10 p.m. Monday and contains the "smoking gun" evidence that Galloway, along with his wife and his chief business associate, were consistent profiteers from Saddam Hussein's regime and its criminal exploitation of the "Oil for Food" program. In particular:

1) Between 1999 and 2003, Galloway personally solicited and received eight oil "allocations" totaling 23 million barrels, which went either to him or to a politicized "charity" of his named the Mariam Appeal.

2) In connection with just one of these allocations, Galloway's wife, Amineh Abu-Zayyad, received about $150,000 directly.

3) A minimum of $446,000 was directed to the Mariam Appeal, which campaigned against the very sanctions from which it was secretly benefiting.

4) Through the connections established by the Galloway and "Mariam" allocations, the Saddam Hussein regime was enabled to reap $1,642,000 in kickbacks or "surcharge" payments.

(For a highly readable explanation of how the Oil-for-Food racket actually worked, see the Adobe Acrobat file on the site prepared by my brilliant comrade Michael Weiss and distributed as a leaflet outside the debate in New York.)

These and other findings by the subcommittee, which appear to demonstrate beyond doubt that Galloway lied under oath, are supported by one witness in particular whose name will cause pain in the Galloway camp. This is Tariq Aziz, longtime henchman of Saddam Hussein and at different times the foreign minister and deputy prime minister of the Baathist dictatorship.

Galloway has often referred in moist terms to his friend Aziz, and now this is his reward. I do not think—in case anyone tries such an innuendo—that there is the smallest possibility that Aziz's testimony was coerced. For one thing, he was confronted by Senate investigators who already knew a great deal of the story and who possessed authenticated documents from Iraqi ministries. For another, he continues, through his lawyers, to deny what is also certainly true, namely that he personally offered a $2 million bribe to Rolf Ekeus, then the head of the U.N. weapons inspectors.

The critical person in Galloway's fetid relationship with Saddam's regime was a Jordanian "businessman" named Fawaz Zureikat, who was involved in a vast range of middleman activities in Baghdad and is the chairman of Middle East Advanced Semiconductor Inc. It was never believable, as Galloway used to claim, that he could have been so uninformed about Zureikat's activities in breaching the U.N. oil embargo. This most probably means that what we now know is a fraction of what there is to be known. But what has been established is breathtaking enough. A member of the British Parliament was in receipt of serious money originating from a homicidal dictatorship. That money was supposed to have been used to ameliorate the suffering of Iraqis living under sanctions. It was instead diverted to the purposes of enriching Saddam's toadies and of helping them propagandize in favor of the regime whose crimes and aggressions had necessitated the sanctions and created the suffering in the first place. This is something more than mere "corruption." It is the cynical theft of food and medicine from the desperate to pay for the palaces of a psychopath.

Taken together with the scandal surrounding Benon Sevan, the U.N. official responsible for "running" the program, and with the recent arrest of Ambassador Jean-Bernard Mérimée (France's former U.N. envoy) in Paris, and with other evidence about pointing to big bribes paid to French and Russian politicians like Charles Pasqua and Vladimir Zhirinovsky, what we are looking at is a well-organized Baathist attempt to buy or influence the member states of the U.N. Security Council. One wonders how high this investigation will reach and how much it will eventually explain.

For George Galloway, however, the war would seem to be over. The evidence presented suggests that he lied in court when he sued the Daily Telegraph in London over similar allegations (and collected money for that, too). It suggests that he lied to the Senate under oath. And it suggests that he made a deceptive statement in the register of interests held by members of the British House of Commons. All in all, a bad week for him, especially coming as it does on the heels of the U.N. report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, which appears to pin the convict's badge on senior members of the Assad despotism in Damascus, Galloway's default patron after he lost his main ally in Baghdad.

Yet this is the man who received wall-to-wall good press for insulting the Senate subcommittee in May, and who was later the subject of a fawning puff piece in the New York Times, and who was lionized by the anti-war movement when he came on a mendacious and demagogic tour of the country last month. I wonder if any of those who furnished him a platform will now have the grace to admit that they were hosting a man who is not just a pimp for fascism but one of its prostitutes as well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Concert Review: Springsteen in Richmond

Bruce Springsteen shows off poetic side
MUSIC REVIEW:Richmond Coliseum
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Springsteen Slideshow

Bruce Springsteen is, to many fans, a religion. His music is their savior, his words their bible. The heft of the E Street Band unleashes the sweaty, passion-charged preacher in him, but this solo acoustic "Devils & Dust" tour liberates the poet.

That was the humble, amiable guy who played to a nearly sold-out crowd of 6,000 at the Richmond Coliseum last night, expos- ing the guts of cherished nuggets such as the opening "My Beautiful Reward" (on pump organ and harmonica) and his newest work, including the Dylan-esque "Silver Palomino" and nonchalantly explicit "Reno."

If the thought of a solo Springsteen sends you racing for the NoDoz, that is understandable this tour isn't designed for the casual fan yearning to scream along to "Born To Run." But regardless of musical preference, it is impossible to deny Springsteen's craftsmanship as a songwriter, communicator and musician, all of which were splayed open for 2½ hours.

Throughout the concert, Springsteen sounded like . . . . Springsteen -- gravelly, but warm, his rough voice turning tender on "The River" and wrung from his throat on "Lonesome Day."
A mainstay in Richmond during the lean years, Springsteen hasn't forgotten those roots, telling the crowd, "We had two places we played -- here and New Jersey. You kept us alive for quite a while."

He also joked freely about playing the piano in front of resident piano virtuoso Bruce Hornsby, who watched his buddy from the second row.

"Better look over your shoulder, Hornsby. Fear for your day job, brother," Springsteen said with a huge grin during a mid-song breakdown of the rollicking "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)."

Springsteen might not be Hornsby-level on the ivories, but he's no slouch, either, evidenced on "Incident on 57th Street," a request played with a power unexpected from one man behind a piano. That song, like so many in his catalog, perfectly represents Springsteen's mass appeal -- the guys embrace his ruggedness, and the women pretend he's singing to them in his husky, meaningful voice.

During this tour, which launched this spring after the release of the sparse "Devils & Dust" album, Springsteen has asked for quiet from the audience, mostly, as he has remarked in the past, so he can remember the lyrics. It's a shame that such a request even needs to be made, given the atmosphere of the concert. But, as evidenced by one overzealous fan in the front row who was eventually ejected for his disruptive clapping and yelling during songs, some people never learn. Really, is it that much of a thrill to have your idol glare at you and say, "Sir, have you ingested any drugs before you came down? You're scaring me."

But the rest of the respectful crowd (those obligatory intonations of "Bruuuuuuuuuuce!" don't really count) were treated to their own version of VH1's "Storytellers."

The bare stage in this half-house configuration was decorated with two hovering chandeliers and layers of drapes, proving the ideal setting for this type of show. Tasteful lighting accompanied "The New Timer," as Springsteen strummed an autoharp, while his nimble guitar playing on "The Rising" was illuminated by a single white spotlight, which somehow helped the song retain its anthemic strength.

By the time he wound down with the ethereal "Dream Baby Dream," there was no questioning that Springsteen had brought his scripture -- and that his followers left enraptured.

Contact Melissa Ruggieri at (804) 649-6120 or

Thomas Sowell: "Us" or "Them"

October 25, 2005
Thomas Sowell

A reader recently sent me an e-mail about a woman he had met and fallen for. Apparently the attraction was mutual -- until one fateful day the subject of the environment came up.

She was absolutely opposed to any drilling for oil in Alaska, on grounds of what harm she said it would do to the environment.

He argued that, since oil was going to be drilled for somewhere in the world anyway, was it not better to drill where there were environmental laws to provide at least some kinds of safeguards, rather than in countries where there were none?

That was the end of a beautiful relationship.

Environmentalist true believers don't think in terms of trade-offs and cost-benefit analysis. There are things that are sacred to them. Trying to get them to compromise on those things would be like trying to convince a Moslem to eat pork, if it was only twice a week.

Compromise and tolerance are not the hallmarks of true believers. What they believe in goes to the heart of what they are. As far as true believers are concerned, you are either one of Us or one of Them.

The man apparently thought that it was just a question of which policy would produce which results. But many issues that look on the surface like they are just about which alternative would best serve the general public are really about being one of Us or one of Them -- and this woman was not about to become one of Them.

Many crusades of the political left have been misunderstood by people who do not understand that these crusades are about establishing the identity and the superiority of the crusaders.

T.S. Eliot understood this more than half a century ago when he wrote: "Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."

In this case, the man thought he was asking the woman to accept a certain policy as the lesser of two evils, when in fact he was asking her to give up her sense of being one of the morally anointed.

This is not unique to our times or to environmentalists. Back during the 1930s, in the years leading up to World War II, one of the fashionable self-indulgences of the left in Britain was to argue that the British should disarm "as an example to others" in order to serve the interests of peace.

When economist Roy Harrod asked one of his friends whether she thought that disarming Britain would cause Hitler to disarm, her reply was: "Oh, Roy, have you lost all your idealism?"

In other words, it was not really about which policy would produce what results. It was about personal identification with lofty goals and kindred souls.

The ostensible goal of peace was window-dressing. Ultimately it was not a question whether arming or disarming Britain was more likely to deter Hitler. It was a question of which policy would best establish the moral superiority of the anointed and solidify their identification with one another.

"Peace" movements are not judged by the empirical test of how often they actually produce peace or how often their disarmament tempts an aggressor into war. It is not an empirical question. It is an article of faith and a badge of identity.

Yasser Arafat was awarded the Nobel Prize for peace -- not for actually producing peace but for being part of what was called "the peace process," based on fashionable notions that were common bonds among members of what are called "peace movements."

Meanwhile, nobody suggested awarding a Nobel Prize for peace to Ronald Reagan, just because he brought the nuclear dangers of a decades-long cold war to an end. He did it the opposite way from how members of "peace movements" thought it should be done.

Reagan beefed up the military and entered into an "arms race" that he knew would bankrupt the Soviet Union if they didn't back off, even though arms races are anathema to members of "peace movements." The fact that events proved him right was no excuse as far as members of "peace movements" were concerned. As far as they were concerned, he was not one of Us. He was one of Them.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate

Juanita Broaddrick & Kathleen Willey: Why We're Touring the Clinton Library
October 25, 2005
Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey

Like far too many women in this country, all three of us have experienced the crime of sexual assault and the violation of sexual harassment by men in powerful positions. Each of us has battled with the shame, humiliation, and fear of coming forward to report the assault. Each of us has worried about how this sexual harassment and assault will affect our careers. Two of us, however, suffered this kind of experience at the hands of a United States president.

That president has never apologized for his vicious behavior. That president and his wife orchestrated frightening, retaliatory intimidation tactics against us for daring to tell the truth about the assaults against us. That president and his wife are held in high esteem by world leaders and much of the American public. And that president’s wife now seeks to become president herself. Because of this, Bill and Hillary Clinton continue to teach important lessons to victims and perpetrators of violence against women in this country.

Bill and Hillary Clinton are teaching rape and sexual harassment victims that if your assailant is popular and politically powerful, you will be punished more for daring to report the assault than for keeping silent. They are teaching perpetrators of violence against women that as long as you are pro-abortion enough to have the political support of the National Organization for Women, any crimes you commit against women in your “personal life” will be overlooked.

When we announced that we are touring the Clinton Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, this Wednesday, we were asked by friends, family, the press, and the public: Why do you keep dragging this issue up? Why can’t you just let it go? The Clinton Library is a multi-million dollar monument to the legacy of our forty-second president, but part of that legacy is being erased.

Part of the true Clinton legacy is the cruel abuse that he and his inner circle committed against us. If we let it go, what does that say to the thousands of women victimized by sexual harassment and assault? Unless we have the courage to ask the American people to hold the Clintons accountable for their abuses against us, we are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. The problem of abuse against women is far too serious for us to sit quietly by while Bill and Hillary Clinton whitewash their reputations and escape all consequences for their actions.

Harassment and assault must be denounced no matter the status of victim or perpetrator. But harassment and assault committed by our leaders must be censored even more vigorously because these luminaries set the standards for acceptable behavior in our society. Bill Clinton’s sexual assaults against us, and Hillary Clinton’s active participation in persuading America that those assaults don’t matter, represent a breach of the trust we should place in our leaders. This is not a political vendetta on our part. The two of us assaulted by Bill Clinton were political supporters of the Clintons until Bill Clinton attacked us. This is about the truth, and the sad truth is that the Clintons have exhibited such callous treatment of women that they do not deserve our respect or our votes. Whether or not you agree with the Clintons’ political positions, there are certainly politicians out there who hold similar positions but who actually treat women with dignity and respect. It’s time for us to take abuse against women seriously, and that requires that we demand proper treatment of women from those in positions of power.

Our stories are on record, in painful detail. The Clintons have never even bothered to present any reasons why you should believe their denials and evasions regarding our accusations. They prefer to hope that we will let it go, and that all of us will move on and forget about their despicable behavior. We will not let it go. For the sake of women everywhere whose lives are torn apart after being assaulted by powerful men, we will continue to press the Clintons to face up to the damage they have caused.

Candice E. Jackson also co-authored this report.

Juanita Broaddrick is an Arkansas businesswoman and former “Clinton for Governor” supporter who was allegedly raped by Bill Clinton in 1978. Kathleen Willey is a Virginia businesswoman and former White House volunteer who was allegedly sexually assaulted by Clinton in 1993.

Candice E. Jackson is an attorney, rape survivor, and author of Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine.