Saturday, October 08, 2005

Victor Davis Hanson: The Quiet Consensus on Iraq

October 7, 2005

The more they argue, the more they sound the same.

National Review Online

Some 30 months after the removal of Saddam Hussein, an unspoken consensus is emerging about Iraq. The Howard Dean/Michael Moore/Cindy Sheehan fringe of the Democratic party so far has made almost no inroads into mainstream party thinking. Perhaps this new Copperhead movement to find political resonance has failed because most Democratic stalwarts — senators Kerry, Clinton, and Biden — themselves voted to remove Saddam. And these erstwhile supporters of the war can offer nothing much different on Iraq now except to harangue about the need for more allies or more multilateral/U.N. help.

True, most Americans are tired of Iraq; but they wish to win rather than withdraw immediately and lose the country to the terrorists. The odd thing is that the more the rhetoric heats up, the more both sides sound about the same.

More troops?

The ostensible military advantage of having a larger U.S. troop presence to pacify Sunni hotspots was always outweighed by a number of other, though less immediately apparent, disadvantages.

The key to stabilizing Iraq has been to promote the autonomy of Iraqi security forces — impossible if they are ensured that 300,000 or so American combat troops will do their fighting for them. And in this type of socio-cultural war, a smaller foreign footprint is critical, since the last thing we wish is an enormous ostentatious American military bureaucracy in Baghdad.
The shortcoming was never the number of U.S troops per se, but our self-imposed straightjacket on rules of engagement that apparently discouraged the vital sorts of offensive operations that we have at last seen the last two months.

The lesson of Vietnam is that the south was more secure in 1973 without almost any American ground troops than with over 500,000 present in 1968. Promises of air power to support ARVN forces between 1971-3 proved about as viable as thousands of prior search-and-destroy patrols by American soldiers. It also never made sense to tie down nearly half of available American combat manpower in Iraq, at a time when vigilance was necessary in Korea, near China, and in other spots in the Middle East.

That the United States needs at least 4-5 more combat-ready divisions is not the same question as the wisdom of putting more American personnel into Iraq.


Even the Democratic leadership has made no move to demand a scheduled timetable of withdrawal, much less, Vietnam-style, to cut off funds for general military operations in Iraq.
Yet most supporters of the war do not want an open-ended commitment to Iraq either, with large permanent basing and perpetual subsidies to such an oil-rich state. So here too there is general agreement emerging about our goals as outlined by most of the military's top brass: in a year or two begin to downsize our presence in Iraq, ideally leaving behind special forces and elite units embedded within Iraqi units, backed up by instantaneous air support.

In the larger sense, with Saddam gone — he was the reason for America's 1991 build up in the region in the first place — our total regional troop strength could decline, contingent on the degree to which Al Qaeda poses less of a conventional threat than Saddam Hussein once did in this critical area. The departure from Saudi Arabia was long overdue, and few Americans wish troops to return there. Again, no mainstream figure is demanding either an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or an imperial build-up.


It is now popular to caricature the effort to prompt democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to encourage them elsewhere in the Gulf, Lebanon, and Egypt. We all know the homilies — "You can't implant democracy by force" or "There is no history of democracy in that part of the world."

Yet few leftist critics of the administration have advised not to pressure Syria to leave Lebanon, not to encourage elections in Beirut, not to hector Mubarak in Egypt about allowing fair voting, or not to engage in the messy work of consensual government in Iraq and Afghanistan. No Democrats are calling for a strongman in Iraq, or endorsing the general status quo in the Middle East. If anything, we hear the Orwellian refrain, "We should not be supporting dictators" — at precisely the time in recent memory that we are beginning not to!

There is a quiet but growing assumption that there is really not much of a choice other than to come down on the right side of history and support the democratizing efforts now under way. Freedom and the rule of law offer the best hope of undermining Islamic fundamentalism faster than it can subvert consensual government. Far from being a Puritanical, messianic vision of forcing Islamic cultures to follow a cookie-cutter American model, our policy of post-September 11 arises because most Americans are tired of giving their money to dictatorships in Egypt, or lining up with monarchies in the Gulf, or having autocracies harbor and bribe terrorists to turn their wrath against the United States.

To their credit, in past years Democrats were more likely to object to realpolitik in the first place, so it makes absolutely no sense now for them to criticize George Bush for doing more to end the old cynicism than Bill Clinton ever did.

Iraq and the war on terrorism?

The old debate whether Saddam Hussein was involved with al Qaeda is now calcified. Liberal conventional wisdom denies any such linkage since there is no firm evidence that Saddam knew of, or was involved in, the September 11 attacks. Thus most on the left ignore entirely that Ansar al-Islam was doing Saddam's dirty work in fighting the Kurds, that Abu Nidal and Abu Abbas resided in Baghdad, that Saddam openly harbored Abdul Rahman Yasin and Ahmed Hikmat Shakir who were connected to the effort in 1993 to blow up the World Trade Center and various anti-American plots, and that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi fled Afghanistan to the sanctuary of Iraq.

No matter. That was then, this is now — and there is no denying that al-Zarqawi is conducting al-Qaedist operations in Iraq, or that the sort of people who attacked us on September 11 are the sort of people now flocking to the Sunni Triangle and often dying at the hands of U.S. military forces. Everyone can agree on that.

The "flypaper" exegesis — that Iraq has become a magnetized burial ground pulling in wannabe al Qaedists — is widely dismissed as unsophisticated and yokelish. But we saw the same phenomenon on the Afghan border in late 2001 where the Pakistani madrassas thinned out as jihadists went over the mountains to the Taliban's aid — only to be bombed to smithereens, the survivors limping back to warn others to give up such a holy trek.

In one of the strangest developments of this entire war, the Western world hears almost nothing about the aggregate number of jihadists killed by coalition forces in Iraq, even though we suspect it may have been several thousand — 10,000, 20,000, 50,000? Surely this has had both a concrete and a spiritual effect on hundreds of thousands of angry young Islamists, who are beginning to realize that a trip to Iraq may be lethal — and unwelcomed by most Iraqis who just wish to be left alone to form their own new government. Whatever one thought about the nexus of Iraq and terror before, no one now denies that our jihadist enemies are in Iraq and are being fought and defeated there each day.


For nearly four years, debates raged in the West over the Patriot Act, supposed Islamophobia, and the sense that the war was never a war at all, but a cooked-up overreaction by Bush-Cheney/Halliburton/Fox News (take your pick) to further a corporate imperial agenda.
But after bombings and assassinations in the United Kingdom, Spain, and the Netherlands, the almost weekly arrests of Middle Eastern suspects from New Jersey to Lodi, California, few now deny that we are in a war with real jihadists, who are energized by an Islamo-fascistic creed that flares up from Bali to Pakistan.

Saddam is ancient history. The real war in Iraq is against al-Qaedists who behead, murder, and seek to turn any village they get their hands on into an 8th-century nightmare. Democrats may groan about the Patriot Act; ACLU liberals will occasionally cry bigotry against Muslims; but there is no longer any real debate that one of the tools of the jihadists is to repeat a September 11 on a larger scale through the stealthy terrorism of infiltrators from the Middle East. Better then to draw them out and hit them abroad than just play defense at home.


It is easy to be pessimistic about Iraq, given the media's constant barrage of bad news. But why then are there not millions in the street as in the fashion of Vietnam-era moratoria? Why doesn't the Senate move to cut off funds? Why don't the Democrats bring forth another George McGovern?, Cindy Sheehan, or Michael Moore in the short-term may be useful stilettos to the Democrats. But most keep their safe distance from such blood-stained rapiers, since few know how Iraq will turn out — or what such razor-sharp groups and firebrands will say or do next.
If Iraq is a more lethal theater than Afghanistan, and appears the more unstable, then we should remember that Saddam Hussein was sui generis, and his warped country the linchpin of the Arab Middle East. Who knows what Iraq will look like in, say, 15 months, given that its liberation had about that much lag time after the fall of the Taliban?

On the horizon there are a number of events whose public repercussions are impossible to predict, although they may well enhance the efforts of democratic reformers. The elections of October will be followed by even more voting in December. For all the predictions of Sunni boycotts and subversion, at some point the wiser ones will participate — understanding that the insurgents are losing, destroying not the Americans, but their own country in the process, and that a constitution moves onward, with or without them.

Soon there will be a globally televised trial of Saddam Hussein that may well shock the Arab autocracies — especially when their unfree populations gaze on the most well-known and thuggish of the Arab illegitimate leaders, chained in the docket and demurring to a constitutionally-appointed judge.

Yes, America is divided about Left/Right politics and over occasional antiwar street theater. But on the major issue of the war on terror and Iraq, most critics have very few ideas of doing anything other than what we are doing right now. The result is a strange consensus that few speak about — but fewer still wish to undo.

©2005 Victor Davis Hanson

Friday, October 07, 2005

Charles Krauthammer: For Bush, A Retreat Into Smallness

October 7, 2005
The Washington Post
By Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- When in 1962 Edward Moore Kennedy ran for his brother's seat in the Senate, his opponent famously said that if Kennedy's name had been Edward Moore, his candidacy would have been a joke. If Harriet Miers were not a crony of the president of the United States, her nomination to the Supreme Court would be a joke, as it would have occurred to no one else to nominate her.

We've had quite enough dynastic politics over the past decades. (Considering the trouble I have had with Benjamin and William Henry Harrison, I pity the schoolchildren of the future who will have to remember who was who in the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton presidential alternations from 1989 to 2017.) But nominating a constitutional tabula rasa to sit on what is America's constitutional court is an exercise of regal authority with the arbitrariness of a king giving his favorite general a particularly plush dukedom. The only advance we've made since then is that Supreme Court dukedoms are not hereditary.

It is particularly dismaying that this act should have been perpetrated by the conservative party. For half a century, liberals have corrupted the courts by turning them into an instrument of radical social change on questions -- school prayer, abortion, busing, death penalty -- that properly belong to the elected branches of government. Conservatives have opposed this arrogation of the legislative role and called for the restoration of the purely interpretive role of the court. To nominate someone whose adult life reveals no record of even participation in debates about constitutional interpretation is an insult to the institution, and to that vision of the institution.

There are 1,084,504 lawyers in the U.S. What distinguishes Harriet Miers from any of them other than her connection with the president? To have selected her, when conservative jurisprudence has J. Harvie Wilkinson, Michael Luttig, Michael McConnell and at least a dozen others on a bench deeper than that of the New York Yankees, is scandalous.

It will be argued that this criticism is elitist. But this is not about the Ivy League. The issue is not the venue of Miers' constitutional scholarship, experience and engagement. The issue is their nonexistence.

Moreover, the Supreme Court is an elite institution. It is not one of the ``popular'' branches of government. That is the reason Sen. Roman Hruska achieved such unsought immortality when he declared, in support of an undistinguished Nixon nominee to the court, that, yes, G. Harrold Carswell is a mediocrity but mediocre Americans deserve representation on the court as well.

To serve in Congress or even the presidency, there is no requirement for scholarship and brilliance. For good reason. It is not needed. It can even be a hindrance, as we learned from our experience with Woodrow Wilson, the most intellectually accomplished president of the 20th century and also the worst.

But constitutional jurisprudence is different. It is, by definition, an exercise of intellect steeped in scholarship. Otherwise it is nothing but raw politics. And is it not the conservative complaint that liberals have abused the courts by having them exercise raw super-legislative power, the most egregious example of which is the court's most intellectually bankrupt ruling, Roe v. Wade?

Miers will surely shine in her judiciary committee hearings, but that is because expectations have been set so low. If she can give a fairly good facsimile of John Roberts' testimony, she'll be considered a surprisingly good witness. But what does she bring to the bench?

This, say her advocates: We are now at war and therefore the great issue of our time is the Article II powers of the president to wage war. For four years, Miers has been immersed in war-and peace decisions and therefore will have a deep familiarity with the tough constitutional issues regarding detention, prisoner treatment and war powers.

Perhaps. We have no idea what her role in these decisions was. But to the extent that there was any role, it becomes a liability. For years -- crucial years in the war on terror -- she will have to recuse herself from judging the constitutionality of these decisions because she will have been a party to having made them in the first place. The Supreme Court will be left with an absent chair on precisely the laws-of-war issues on which she is supposed to bring so much.

By choosing a nominee suggested by Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid and well known only to George Bush, the president has ducked a fight on the most important domestic question dividing liberals from conservatives: the principles by which one should read and interpret the Constitution. For a man whose presidency is marked by a courageous willingness to think and do big things, this nomination is a sorry retreat into smallness.

© 2005, Washington Post Writers Group

NR 50th Anniversary: Evelyn Waugh, R.I.P.

October 06, 2005, 7:51 a.m.

By William F. Buckley Jr.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This obituary appeared in the May 3, 1966, issue of National Review.

I once encountered a very angry lady in Dallas, Texas, who announced herself head of a vigilance committee to keep dirty books out of the local libraries, and we talked a bit. I forgot just how the conversation moved, but at one point I said that to pull out all the salacious passages from modern literature would require the end of individual reading. All of us would have private readers, like the old eccentric who forced his prisoners to read to him the works of Charles Dickens in the novel by Evelyn Waugh. Who, asked the lady book critic, was Evelyn Waugh? The greatest English novelist of the century, I ventured, but on ascertaining that he was not a dirty writer, she lost all interest, and went off to look for more dirty books to rail against.

I wrote Waugh and told him about the episode. My letter did not include any reference to any business matter, so I knew he would not reply to it; but I knew the little story would appeal to his sense of satire, so strongly developed as to make him, in the judgment of the critic Edmund Wilson, the "only first-rate comic genius the English have produced since George Bernard Shaw." (Waugh's reply, several years later to an interviewer who asked what was his opinion of Edmund Wilson: "Is he American?" End comment.) But Waugh was much more than that, though millions of his readers who read only Handful of Dust, and Scoop, and The Loved One, did not know about the other dimensions; did not know that Evelyn Waugh the great satirist was a conservative, a traditionalist, a passionately convinced and convincing Christian, a master stylist routinely acknowledged, during the last decade, as the most finished writer of English prose.

He died at 62 having completed only one volume of a long autobiography. In it he recorded, dispassionately, the impressions of his early years; something of the lives of his ancestors, many of them eccentric; and of the Chaos of his undergraduate career at Oxford, from which he was duly expelled, as so many interesting Englishmen are expected to be. He decided, in his mid-twenties, that the thing to do was to commit suicide, and he describes, as he would in a novel, his own venture in this dramatic activity — the verse from Euripides about water washing away the stains of the earth, neatly exposed where it could not be missed by grieving relatives or meticulous coroners; wading out into the ocean, thinking diapasonal thoughts; then running into a school of jellyfish, and racing back to the beach, putting on his clothes, tearing up Euripides, and resuming his career, for which we thank God's little jellyfish.

He was an impossible man, in many respects. At least as far as the public was concerned. Like J. D. Salinger and James Gould Cozzens, he simply refused to join the world of flackery and televised literature. On one occasion when he did consent to grant an interview to a young correspondent from Paris Review, because he was related to an old friend, Waugh thoroughly disconcerted the interview by arriving in his hotel suite, taking off his clothes, getting into bed, lighting a huge cigar, breaking open a bottle of champagne, and then uttering: "Proceed."

Rather than live a public life, he situated himself in a large old house in the country, surrounding himself with a moat that was proof against all but his closest friends, and the vicar. The piranhas made a specialty of devouring first-class mail asking for interviews, comments, suggestions, whatever. I confess to having successfully swum across the moat, after several fruitless assaults. I discovered that the squire felt an obligation to reply to all letters concerning questions of commerce; so that if you wanted a comment or two on a matter of literature or philosophy or politics, you could hope to get it by dropping into your letter a trivial question relating to business.

But he was a man of charity, personal generosity, and, above all, of understanding. He knew people, he knew his century, and, having come to know it, he had faith only in the will of God, and in individual man's latent capacity to strive towards it. He acknowledged the need to live in this century, because the jellyfish will not have it otherwise; but never, ever, to acclimate yourself to it. Mr. Scott-King, the classics teacher, after his tour through Evelyn Waugh's Modern Europe, comes back to school, and there the headmaster suggests that he teach some popular subject, in addition to the classics — economic history, perhaps, for the classics are not popular. "I'm a Greats man myself," the headmaster says. "I deplore it as much as you do. But what can we do? Parents are not interested in producing the 'complete man' anymore. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the public world. You can hardly blame them, can you?" "Oh yes," Scott-King replies. "I can and do." And, deaf to the headmaster's entreaties, he declares, shyly but firmly, "I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world." Waugh got the best of the modern world, but paid a high price for it: he gave it his genius.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Byron York: Tom Delay's Righteous Prosecutor

The Hill

There’s no doubt that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) would rather not be the target of zealous prosecutor.

But if he must be such a target, DeLay is probably lucky that the prosecutor in question is Travis County, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle.

In the case so far — the latest news came Monday, when Earle got a grand jury, on its first day, before it had a chance to get a cup of coffee, to indict DeLay on money-laundering charges — Earle has shown a strange enthusiasm in pursuing his case.

More than anything else, Earle seems motivated by a desire to educate the country about his belief that corporate campaign contributions constitute an evil influence in American politics. Just look at what DeLay defenders call the “dollars for dismissals” scheme.

As part of the DeLay investigation, in September 2004 Earle indicted eight corporations on charges of making illegal political contributions.

But then he approached several of them with a deal. According to a source close to one of those companies, Sears, Earle offered to drop the charges if Sears agreed to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Center for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford University for the purpose of producing a program designed to educate the public on the evils of corporate contributions.

“They asked for an outrageous amount of money,” one Sears source said last summer — especially since the maximum penalty Sears would have faced had it lost the case would have been $20,000.

But Earle wanted to get his message to the American public. “My concern has been that there needed to be a conversation about the role of corporations in American democracy,” he said a few months ago. “How do you do that? I think it is vitally important to the future of the country that there be a discussion of this concept.”

Sears refused to give money to Stanford, suggesting an alternative program — the same sort of thing — at the University of Texas in Austin. Earle agreed, and Sears turned over $100,000.

The agreement between Sears and Earle says, “The defendant, after discussions with the district attorney, has decided to financially support a nonpartisan, balanced and publicly informative program or series of programs relating to the role of corporations in American democracy.” Sears also acknowledged that corporate contributions “constitute a genuine threat to democracy.”

Three other companies — Cracker Barrel, Questerra and Diversified Collection Services — made similar deals with Earle.

That was then. Now, there’s even more evidence that Earle is using the DeLay investigation as part of an educational crusade.

For the past two years, Earle has allowed two Texas filmmakers to follow him around as he conducted the investigation that led to the recent indictments. The resulting film, “The Big Buy,” features long interviews with Earle — DeLay did not cooperate — and, once more, Earle focuses on his pet cause.

“The root of the evil of the corporate and large-monied-interest domination of politics is money,” Earle says in the film.

“This is in the Bible. This isn’t rocket science. The root of all evil truly is money, especially in politics. People talk about how money is the mother’s milk of politics. Well, it’s the devil’s brew. And what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to turn off the tap.”

And just to make it completely clear that Earle considers corporate money in politics a very, very, bad thing, at another point in the movie he calls it “every bit as insidious as terrorism.”
Now, perhaps you, too, believe that Sears’s (probably legal) $25,000 contribution to a DeLay-related political action committee was as bad as Sept. 11. Or perhaps you don’t.
But in Earle’s mind, apparently, it’s all connected.

“What’s funny is, the regular run-of-the-mill work of a prosecutor’s office,” he says in the film, “which sounds like a horror story — murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, child abuse, these horrible things people do to each other — it’s hard to see the connection between the abuse of the democratic process and dealing crack, for example, or robbing a 7-Eleven, but there is a connection.”

It would be nice if Earle would explain what that is, but he doesn’t. And his words become even more inexplicable when one considers that Texas is one of just 18 states that bar corporate contributions to campaigns (although corporations can contribute to the administration expenses of political action committees). That means 32 states do not have such a ban.
So is that a crime as serious as murder? Rape? Robbery?

Don’t say that to Earle. His performance in “The Big Buy” sends an ominous warning to anyone who might disagree with his particular vision.

“It’s important that we forgive those who come to us in a spirit of contrition and the desire for forgiveness,” Earle says. “But if they don’t, then God help them.”

York is a White House correspondent forNational Review. His column appears in The Hill each week. E-mail:

Boss' Benefit is Music to Ears of Disaster Victims

Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/5/05

Bruce Springsteen knows his own life is a far cry from the struggles of the working-class protagonists of his songs, and he couldn't be more grateful.

In concert Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, Springsteen admitted that he gets paid for what he'd do for free.

When fans ask him, "How does it feel to be The Boss?" Springsteen said, he'll usually get all humble and throw some line about how it's gotten him this far and he can't complain.

But that's an understatement, an attempt not to lord it over all his hard-working fans. To brag, Springsteen said, would be bad manners.

However, in case you were wondering and wanted the honest truth, he confessed, "It's fabulous beyond your wildest dreams." So there you have it. Bruce in top hat and monocle, swilling champagne and lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills. Aha! We knew that "Everyman" image was just a brilliant marketing ploy.

"Once," a giggly Springsteen told his well-behaved audience, "I wrote about it."

He then performed "Ain't Got You," in happy-go-lucky, rockabilly style, a song that raves about material wealth and pines for unattainable love. That song, about midway through his set, made Springsteen smile and relax. Earlier, he'd been all business.

The concert was a benefit for the Jersey Coast chapter of the American Red Cross. Representatives of the Red Cross were on hand, delighted that Springsteen had reached out to the organization in such an unexpected way. Ticket-holders were encouraged to make additional donations; anyone can do so through

Some old, some new

The set list jumped here and there throughout Springsteen's extensive catalog, with "Living Proof," from 1992's "Lucky Town," preceding his latest, "Devils & Dust," for example.

Springsteen performed an exceptionally bright and jangly version of "All The Way Home" and a charming rendition of "Be True" on keyboards. He turned to the piano for "Atlantic City," and the chords undulated like ocean waves.

"Long Time Comin'," one of the best tracks on the "Devils & Dust" album and a fan favorite on this tour, keeps getting better and better, as Springsteen rattles off the lyrics in a casual style that belies their poignancy and wisdom.

Likewise, the solo versions of "Tougher Than The Rest" and "One Step Up" have a sense of maturity about them — these songs are aging like fine wines. Not so "Reno," the one about the prostitute, which still sounds kind of queasy and is too plain sad.

"Hope everybody had a good summer," Springsteen said cheerfully Tuesday night. His hair was slicked back, like the way he wore it in the mid-'90s on "The Ghost Of Tom Joad" tour, when he also played intimate theater shows.

Outside, the air was warm, salty and soft, and the waves stretched up the beach in gentle rolls. A percussion ensemble practiced on the boardwalk, and the sound reverberated past The Stone Pony. Bruce fans milled about, pleased with the night, astonished at their luck, eager to pay the man for what he'd do for free.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Jeff Gailus: Behind That Grizzly Curtain

Friday, September 30, 2005 Posted at 12:14 AM EDT
Special to Globe and Mail Update

More than a month ago, bear No. 66, a tolerant female grizzly with three cubs, was struck and killed on the Canadian Pacific Railway line in Banff National Park. At that time, experts gave her cubs almost no chance of survival. Three weeks later, two of the cubs were killed crossing the Trans-Canada Highway. Parks Canada officials quickly captured the third cub, which now resides in the Calgary Zoo.

The regular deaths of grizzly bears as a result of human activity are nothing new for Canada's flagship national park. During the past six years, 13 grizzlies have died or been removed from the population as a direct result of human activities. This toll leaves Parks Canada and the managers of Banff National Park in direct contravention of the park's management plan for the sixth year in a row.

This is bad news for Alberta's grizzly bear population, a sensitive and threatened species, but it is even more troubling for Canada's voting public, which continues to watch an arrogant federal government ignore its own regulations, policies and management plans for reasons only the bureaucrats and politicians in charge must know.

Banff National Park's management plan, which was approved by Parks Canada officials (and Parliament) in 1993, stipulates that human activities in the park must be managed in a way that will keep human-caused grizzly bear deaths below 1 per cent of the estimated population. With only 60 grizzlies in Banff National Park, that means fewer than 0.6 bears can be killed each year. This translates, really, into one bear every two years. But that legally binding threshold has been surpassed for the sixth consecutive year. On average, more than two grizzlies have been killed each year, more than 300 per cent higher than the management plan's target. In 2005 alone, the target has already been surpassed by 800 per cent.

The frequency and regularity with which grizzlies die in Banff National Park is a sure-fire indicator that Parks Canada is failing to maintain the park's ecological integrity, its primary mandate. As disappointing as that may sound, it may not be the problem that should bother Canadians the most.

What may be more important is the apparent indifference and lack of accountability exhibited by a federal government known to ignore issues that matter most to Western Canada. For six years, Parks Canada has done nothing meaningful to improve the way it manages Banff National Park to ensure that grizzly bear deaths are kept below the target it set 12 years ago. Yes, a 70-kilometre-an-hour speed limit was implemented for the Trans-Canada Highway through Lake Louise, but it is rarely obeyed and almost never enforced. Yes, a “strategic framework for the conservation of grizzly bears” was incorporated into the Banff management plan during a review in 2004. But neither of these facile actions have been effective at reducing the number of dead grizzlies. The statistics themselves bear this out.

Parks Canada's laissez-faire attitude toward our national parks and the wildlife they are meant to protect raises other questions: What other policies and standards is the federal government ignoring, policies and standards that might, perhaps, be more directly linked to the welfare of all Canadians? What about water quality standards, which can have disastrous consequences when ignored? What about air quality, health care, fiscal policy? Are these portfolios being managed with as little care and attention as our national parks?

The issue of grizzly bears in Banff National Park is about more than just charismatic critters and pretty scenery. It's about government accountability and good governance. Canadians deserve both, and should demand an explanation from Parks Canada about why it has failed to meet its own standards for so many years, and why it has done virtually nothing meaningful to address its failure to protect the ecological integrity of our national parks.
Then we should pull back the curtains and see what other negligence lurks in the federal government's dark and dusty closet.

Jeff Gailus, a conservationist and writer from Canmore, Alta., is working on a book about the history and future of Canada's Great Plains grizzly bear.

Follow conversation (7)
Latest Comments in the Conversation
Editor's Note: editors read and approve each comment. Comments are checked for content only, spelling and grammar errors are not corrected and comments that include vulgar language or libelous content are rejected.

Scott M. from Toronto, Canada writes:
I don't like the way that Banff has been Disneyfied, but I also see clear evidence that large amounts of money have been spent to try to protect widelife, the major transportation rights of way have been fenced off and under/overpasses built.Yes, more may need to be done, but in the absence of constructive suggestions, this sounds a lot like more from people whose reason to live is to crap on government and other large institutions.We all know that niether government nor anything else is perfect.How about some specifics on what you'd like to see them do done to make things better?
Posted Sep. 30, 2005 at 10:33 AM EDT
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Steve Turner from Aurora, Canada writes:
If the "Conservatives"formed the next government, they would probably kill all the bears in order to make the park safe for humans.If the NDP got in, they would probably keep the humans out and leave the land for the animals.The main concern is that any government we elect will put economy ahead of reality, and that means getting as many people in the park as the park can hold and collect all the fees that can be charged...and be damned with anything else living there.
Although they all say otherwise, no government truly looks beyond their mandate, and this attitude does not bode well for Canada.However, nature has its own way of trumping politicians.Down south, Bush decided not to sign the Kyoto accord because it "could wreck the U.S. economy".Well, Hurricane Katrina's power certainly did a number on the U.S. economy, as well as our own with the spike in gas prices, so the economy is irrevocably intertwined with the environment whether we recognize that fact or not.The point is missed if we try to pinpoint any one party for blame.It is society's attitudes that are the problem.
Besides, I'm sure that Liberal, Conservative, NDP and even Bloc supporters all cruise above speed level in the park.
Posted Sep. 30, 2005 at 10:50 AM EDT
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C Burns from Sarnia, Canada writes:
How can a speed limit prove effective if it is not inforced? Perhaps a crackdown by law enforcement officers and tougher fines for violations would at least give motorists pause.
Posted Sep. 30, 2005 at 11:29 AM EDT
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J S from Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada writes: Indeed, it is not just Banff National Park that is a victim of governmental policies that are, at best, inexplicable.Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan has become less a haven for wildlife and more a experiment in environmental hedonism for cabin owners and bickering federal officials.Heaven forebid the good people that are hired to manage the parks be allowed to actually pursue and fulfill their mandate.
Posted Sep. 30, 2005 at 2:06 PM EDT
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Constance Menzies from Canada writes: I've just come back from visiting Banff, Jasper and Kootnenay NPs. From Banff to Jasper they are adding another lane - this was very disheartening to see! Like Pacific Rim National Park, the Albertan and Canadian governments need to impose a quota system on Banff and Jasper and enforce and reduction of speed for those vehicles that do pass through. And whats with all the RVs? Camping is about getting back to nature - not creating a recreational suburb (other than the townsites) in a national park. That accident we saw with a bus-size RV killed at least one person and totalled the RV and three other vehicles. I don't need to visit these Park if it meant preserving the habitat for bears, moose, wolves, elk, sheep....
Posted Sep. 30, 2005 at 4:01 PM EDT
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Daniel Pipes: The Stupid Terrorists Club
October 4, 2005

One would think that Mahmoud Maawad, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant from Egypt living in Memphis, Tennessee, would lay low and stay out of trouble. But no, he defiantly did just the opposite.

He used a fake Social Security number to open a bank account, arrange for household utilities, and enroll in the University of Memphis business school. He worked off-the-books at a convenience store and in early 2005 sold alcohol to a minor, for which he was arrested. And then, he ordered US$3,300 worth of airline-related goods in mid-2005 from Sporty's Pilot Shop, including such items as an airline pilot’s uniform, a flight gear bag, a radio communications handbook, and an instructional DVD titled “How an Airline Captain Should Look and Act.”

To top it off, he placed this order on an overdrawn credit card.

Sporty’s, not surprisingly, informed the FBI about Maawad’s order and federal agents searched his apartment in September. There they found flight simulation software and detailed information on Memphis International Airport. Maawad was then indicted for wire fraud and fraudulent use of a Social Security number.

While it’s far from established that Maawad had terrorism on his mind, his actions are sufficiently suspicious to enroll him as an honorary member in my newly created “Stupid Terrorists Club.” He joins plenty of others there.

Mohammed Salameh, the terrorist who returned to the rental agency in 1993 to retrieve the $400 deposit he had paid on a truck subsequently used to blow up the World Trade Center. His penny-pinching lead to his own capture and that of several other bombers.

Zacarias Moussaoui, thought to have been the twentieth 9/11 hijacker, was sitting in jail on that date because his disheveled and impoverished appearance at a flight instruction school was so discordant (“there's really something wrong with this guy”) that two of its staff phoned the FBI. In April 2005, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Michael Wagner, an African-American convert to Islam associated with Al-Qaeda, did not wear a seat belt and that got him stopped by the police in July 2004 near Council Bluffs, Iowa. His car contained “flight training manuals and a simulator, documents in Arabic, bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, a night-vision scope for a rifle, a telescope, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.”

Zaynab Khadr, accused by the Canadian authorities of having “willingly participated and contributed both directly and indirectly towards enhancing the ability of Al Qaeda to facilitate its criminal activities,” returned to Canada in February with a computer chock full of documents that the authorities say “provide insights into the tactics, techniques and procedures” of Al-Qaeda and other groups.

Sami Ibrahim Isa Abdel Hadi, 39, was stopped in May for tailgating in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. When a police officer called in Abdel Hadi’s North Carolina license plates, he learned that Abdel Hadi had been ordered deported to Brazil in December 2001 and is listed in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database. Even more alarmingly, he has a valid temporary identity card permitting him to paint the George Washington Bridge (a high-profile potential terrorist target).

When an accused Los Angeles terror gang, the Assembly of Authentic Islam, needed money for arms, it robbed gas stations rather than obtain funds legally. One of its holdup artists dropped a mobile phone during a June robbery, which the police retrieved and used to unravel the plot and arrest the conspirators.

Other famous dumb terrorists include Yu Kikumura, a member of the Japanese Red Army, whose odd behavior prompted a search of his car at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop in April 1988, which turned up three powerful bombs. Or Timothy McVeigh, apprehended in April 1995 after bombing the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people, because his car lacked a license plate.

Counterterrorism is a difficult business, so it is fortunate that terrorists often act dumb.

Why can’t they keep out of trouble until the big day? In part, because terrorists, like other criminals, are usually not the sharpest knives in the drawer; and in part because their ideology and hatred cause them to disdain the enemy, leading them to take unnecessary risks.

As a result, the rest of us are a little bit safer.

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Mr. Pipes ( is director of the Middle East Forum and author of Miniatures (Transaction Publishers).

Tom Piatak: The Purest Neocon

October 10, 2005 Issue
The American Conservative

Christopher Hitchens, an unreconstructed Bolshevik, finds his natural home on the pro-war Right.

There is no denying Christopher Hitchens’s skill as a public figure: he is seldom at a loss for words, sometimes entertaining, and occasionally even right. But he keeps getting important things wrong because, throughout his political wanderings, there persists a strange loyalty to an obscure bloodthirsty revolutionary and to the ideals of the Bolshevik Revolution. For Hitchens—now honored throughout the neoconservative Right—remains what he has been throughout his public life, a disciple of Leon Trotsky and a talented writer and polemicist—perhaps the most talented polemicist the Bolshevik tradition has produced in the West.

Given Hitchens’s current role as a neocon fellow traveler, it is instructive (not to mention fun) to recall with whom he used to travel. When the United States was locked in a mortal struggle with Soviet Communism, Hitchens was at best AWOL, at worst pulling for the other team. From his safe post at The New Statesman and later The Nation, Hitchens opposed every effort to defeat Communism—including the defense of South Vietnam, the deployment of cruise missiles and Pershing missiles in Europe, the invasion of Grenada, American support for the Contras, and Reagan’s military buildup. Hitchens can be sensitive about his past—he is quite angry with his brother Peter for letting us know that Christopher used to joke about not caring “if the Red Army waters its horses in Hendon”—but there can be no doubt where Hitchens stood during the Cold War. He was faithfully following Leon Trotsky, who wrote in 1939, “the defense of the USSR coincides for us with the preparation of world revolution.”

Rather than worrying about Soviet Communism, Hitchens spent his Nation years fighting against what he called “a regime of crime and corruption in the White House. ... necessitated by a war on revolution overseas and on democracy at home.” This description—typical of Hitchens’s invective against Ronald Reagan—was contained in a fawning letter to “Comrade Ramirez,” a functionary of the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua. Hitchens unbosomed that, far from hoping for an American victory in the Cold War, he was hoping for a “socialist renewal in the Soviet Union.” Hitchens also told his friend in Managua, “It is quite likely that historians will record this unhappy period not as an age of Reagan at all, but as a footnote to the age of Mikhail Gorbachev.”

Elsewhere, Hitchens turned out lines worthy of Soviet Life, such as this observation from a pre-invasion visit to the budding Communist dictatorship in Grenada: “The general enthusiasm, the internationalism and the determination of the Grenadan people is an inspiring thing to witness.”

Then there was the column Hitchens wrote in 1982, blasting anti-Communists for talking about “appeasement” and “Finlandization.” In the midst of Hitchens’s long-winded explanation of why these were “bogus ideological words” and their use was “an insult—and not only to Finland,” comes a plangent reminder of the place Hitchens was happy to call home during the Cold War: an advertisement enticing readers to “spend Your Vacation with The Nation and Cruise Up the Volga.” The CPUSA was not listed as a sponsor, but that would probably have been redundant for a trip also sponsored by the National Council of American-Soviet Friendship and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

More insight into Hitchens’s long love affair with Bolshevism came with the publication in 2002 of his close friend Martin Amis’s Koba the Dread, a masterful account of the mass murder with which the Bolsheviks busied themselves after seizing power in October 1917. Hitchens told Amis, “Lenin was ... a great man” and implored him not to “fall for moral equivalence.” What Hitchens warned against was not viewing the West as equivalent to the USSR (a view generally attacked at The Nation only by those asserting straightforward Soviet superiority), but a belief that Soviet Communism could legitimately be compared to its (slightly less) murderous rival, Nazism.

It is true that, even as Trotsky had criticized Stalin, Hitchens felt free to criticize the USSR occasionally at The Nation—though generally without the venom reserved for the “Christian bigots” and “thwarted militarists” Hitchens saw in the “Reagan junta,” the “fascists” allied with the United States against Communism, and such obvious evildoers as Mother Teresa. But Hitchens, still following Trotsky, generally coupled these criticisms with attacks on the West or on anti-Communists, as in a 1986 piece on Chernobyl, where he devoted almost all his space to describing “two cases of potential and actual nuclear irradiation that were visited on unsuspecting peoples by NATO governments.” And after Solidarity had been outlawed and Lech Walesa imprisoned, Hitchens participated in a Nation forum on Communism and Poland in which—to his credit—he wrote that it was legitimate to defend the “Polish workers movement,” but also fretted about “the Manichaean anti-Communism of the bad old days,” wished that Walesa had denounced Pinochet, and rebuked Susan Sontag for saying that Communism was akin to fascism and that the reliably anti-Communist Readers’ Digest had done a better job of informing its readers of the realities of Communism than had The Nation or The New Statesman—coincidentally (or not) Hitchens’s journalistic homes during the Cold War.

Hitchens also asserted that most of the Left did not have a problem with Poland, ignoring the fatuousness of the other contributors to the forum and his own magazine, which wanted to “transcend the hand-wringing platitudes of the Reagan Administration and to create some distance between radical Americans and the evident hypocrisy of ‘Let Poland Be Poland.’”

Hitchens, too, had distinct limits to his sympathy for the Poles: the next time Hitchens managed to write about Poland in The Nation, in January 1983, it was to mock the Poles, including John Paul II and Lech Walesa, for their religious beliefs. While the world watched the courage of Catholic Poland with admiration, Hitchens sneered. There is a reason streets in Poland are being named after Ronald Reagan and not writers for The Nation.

Hitchens has never apologized for his Trotskyism. As he told British writer Johann Hari in October 2004, “I don’t regret anything. ... [The socialist movement’s] achievements were real, and I’m glad I was a part of it.” And in the July/August 2004 issue of The Atlantic, Hitchens wrote a hagiographic essay about a figure whom he claimed “always was … a prophetic moralist.” Hitchens was not writing about Mother Teresa or John Paul II, but about Leon Trotsky—a man who was an active participant in and apologist for Lenin’s Red Terror, the inventor of the “blocking units” that would gun down Russian troops foolish enough to defy the commissars by retreating, and the author of such witty aphorisms as “We must rid ourselves once and for all of the Quaker-Papist babble about the sanctity of human life.”

Hitchens also took Amis to task for Koba the Dread in The Atlantic, criticizing him for suggesting the dreaded moral equivalence between the Nazis and the Communists and for wondering if the right side won the Russian Civil War. Hitchens’s dogged determination to defend Lenin shows that he is, at heart, as intense a believer as any radical Islamist. After all, it was one thing to believe in 1917 that the Bolsheviks might be better than the Romanovs; it is quite another to believe that still today, tens of millions of corpses later.

Amis had also made the mistake, in a letter to Hitchens, of urging his friend to turn his back on Trotsky because Hitchens’s “prophetic moralist” was really a “nun-killer.” Amis should have realized that an appeal based on sympathy for nuns was hardly the way to his friend’s heart, and Hitchens responded by mocking Amis for having a “special horror of Bolshevik anti-clericalism.” What Amis has a “special horror of” is eloquently described in his book: a regime that killed 2,691 priests, 1,962 monks, and 3,447 nuns of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1922 alone. None of this bloodshed bothers Hitchens, who has recently written that “Secularism ... only became thinkable after several wars and revolutions had ruthlessly smashed the hold of the clergy on the state.” Since the American Revolution did not produce a single executed clergyman, Hitchens is here singing the praises of the Jacobins and the Bolsheviks.

Indeed, nothing shows Hitchens’s continuing fidelity to the Bolshevik ideal more than his hatred for religion. He told the Guardian on May 31, 2005, “I can’t stand anyone who believes in God, who invokes the divinity ... I mean, that to me is a horrible, repulsive thing.” But Hitchens is by no means equal in his contempt for religions. He has written favorably of Judaism and described Islam as having been a “civilizing and creative force in many societies.” Hitchens has no such kind words for Christianity, especially as manifested in the Roman Catholic Church. This is hardly surprising: the Roman Catholic Church was Bolshevism’s most consistent and successful adversary, beginning with the 1920 defense of Warsaw from Trotsky’s Red Army, when the future Pius XI, in Norman Davies’s words, “stood on the ramparts of Radzymin and cursed the advancing hordes of Antichrist in person” and the Polish Army—dismissed by Trotsky as being “steeped in priests’ lies”—prevented the Red Army from watering its horses anywhere near Hendon.

A straightforward description of all Hitchens’s anti-Catholic outbursts would fill every page in this magazine—he recently argued, in essence, that Judge Roberts should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court because he is Catholic—but his most disgusting, and revealing, anti-Catholic spasm was his reaction to the death of John Paul II, a man he dismissed as “an elderly and querulous celibate, who came too late and who stayed too long.”

Speaking ill of the dead is a Hitchens trademark, with Mother Teresa, Bob Hope, and Ronald Reagan—whom Hitchens described as “dumb as a stump” and a “cruel and stupid lizard”—each rating a bilious sendoff. But John Paul II rated two. Hitchens blamed the pope for such wide-ranging evils as the “enslavement of the Middle East” and “the millions who will die needlessly from AIDS,” a disease whose sexual transmission would cease if Catholic teaching were followed. Hitchens also blasted John Paul for harboring Cardinal Law from justice, ignoring the fact that Cardinal Law was never convicted of any crime or even indicted because, as the prosecutor told the Boston Globe, “there was no intent that we have found to assist in any way in criminal acts.”

Hitchens also criticized the pope for opposing the First Gulf War, writing, “I have never read any deployment of Augustinian argument ... that would not qualify it as a just war.” Yet at the time, Hitchens denounced the First Gulf War as a “contrived war” of “discreditable origins,” blamed the United States for “the infliction of a Dresden on the Iraqi people,” and looked forward to “fresh Augustinian tautologies from our churchmen about proportionality in a just war.”

But the most repellent aspect of Hitchens’s diatribes was the sly way he sought to minimize John Paul’s role in the transformation of Eastern Europe, implying that the credit belonged to “the Polish workers” and “Warsaw’s dissident intellectuals … who thought of Cardinal Glemp … as one of their main enemies.” The reality of Poland is deeply embarrassing to someone who views the world as Hitchens does, which is why he indulges in fantasies about nameless “workers” and secular intellectuals battling evil Catholics.

The bare facts are these: the institution in Poland that gave dissidents, even secular intellectuals, the civic space to operate during the years of Soviet rule was the Catholic Church. The “Polish workers” who began the revolt that ended up toppling the Soviet Union were the workers at the Lenin shipyard in Gdansk, who during their historic strike decorated the main gate of the shipyard with precisely two pictures—one of John Paul II, one of Our Lady of Czestochowa. (Leon Trotsky was nowhere in sight.) The leader of those workers was Lech Walesa, who posed in his first photograph after the strike under a crucifix, who afterwards customarily wore an icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa on his lapel, who signed the Gdansk agreement ending the strike with a souvenir pen bearing the likeness of John Paul II, and who left his Nobel Peace Prize as a votive offering at the Jasna Gora monastery where the famous icon of Our Lady is found. All of these symbolic gestures were carefully considered and show the profoundly Catholic nature of the peaceful Polish revolt that ended up discrediting Bolshevism in both its Stalinist and Trotskyist variants. Regardless of their views on other issues, Poles credit John Paul’s epochal 1979 visit with inspiring all that followed. Indeed, the dissident publication Robotnik—– associated with the sort of intellectuals Hitchens wants to credit instead of the pope—wrote the epitaph for Soviet Communism just 10 days after John Paul’s triumphant Mass in Krakow before the largest gathering in Polish history, in words that Hitchens would never write, or even acknowledge having been written: “Pathetically silent was the ideology created without God and against God.”

So where does this lover of Trotsky and hater of God, this despiser of religion and tradition and devotee of “permanent revolution,” this anti-Catholic bigot and reviler of Reagan and John Paul, now find an ideological home? Among the neoconservatives, naturally. As Hitchens told Johann Hari in the same interview where he said “I don’t regret anything,” he admires Paul Wolfowitz, whom he described as a “real bleeding heart.” According to Hari, Hitchens sees neoconservatism as a “distinctively new strain of thought, preached by ex-leftists, who believed in using US power to spread democracy.” Hari also wrote that Hitchens believes that if neoconservatism “can become dominant within the Republican Party, it can turn US power into a revolutionary force.” Barry Didcock came to a similar conclusion in the June 5, 2005 Sunday Herald after interviewing Hitchens: “The way Hitchens tells it, he began to realize, as the 1990s wore on, that US force could and should be used to fight what he saw as the forces of fascism.” Hitchens still wants world revolution; the only difference is that now he sees us Americans as perfectly placed to do the fighting and the dying needed to achieve his Trotskyist dream.

As both the Hari and Didcock interviews make clear, Hitchens was able to overcome his past squeamishness about American military force not because America is threatened, but because the threat now comes from men who believe in Allah rather than Marx. Didcock notes, “the origins of [Hitchens’s] position lie in his long-held distaste for religion,” and Hitchens told Hari, “The United States was attacked by theocratic fascists who represent all the most reactionary elements on earth. ... However bad the American Empire has been, it is not as bad as this.”

Hitchens also wrote—in the same column in which he extolled the priest-killing potency of the French and Russian Revolutions—that “George Bush may subjectively be a Christian, but he—and the US armed forces—have objectively done more for secularism than the whole of the American agnostic community combined and doubled.” Hitchens’s entire politics is motivated by his hatred of religion and tradition; he’d be just as happy bombing St. Peter’s as the Taliban.

Needless to say, Hitchens’s views have nothing to do with American conservatism or even American patriotism, which sees America as a real country and a real place, not as a template onto which foreigners project their ideological fantasies. None of the Founders wanted to use American power to bring about world revolution, nor did they believe in wasting American blood and treasure in grandiose ideological crusades. Neither did Ronald Reagan. While effusive in his praise for the neocons, Hitchens told Hari that he would never join “the Buchanan-Reagan right.”

For their part, the neocons have warmly embraced Hitchens. His writing is welcomed at The Weekly Standard, which also gave a glowing review to his latest book, and at, which has given him three sycophantic interviews and describes him as “one of the most prominent political and cultural essayists of our time.” Regulars at National Review Online praise and link to Hitchens’s work, and David Frum has boasted there of his friendship with Hitchens. Recently, Hitchens was even allowed to post in NRO’s Corner to respond to Ramesh Ponnuru’s flaccid criticism of his Catholic-bashing piece on Judge Roberts. (Ponnuru agreed that he found Hitchens’s outbursts on the pope “bracing,” but he drew the line when Hitchens used his anti-Catholicism against the Bush administration.) NRO has hardly been as accommodating to any of the traditional conservatives its writers have smeared.

The irony, of course, is that Hitchens has hardly cast his lot with the “Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom” school of conservatism. The neocons prattle on endlessly about “moral clarity” and display a fondness for ideological purges but have never been anything but indulgent toward Hitchens. They have not criticized his Bolshevism or his hatred of religion. In fact, one of the Hitchens columns Frum praised at NRO described the Catholic Church as “foolish” and Opus Dei as a “sinister cult organization.” Let us not even pause to consider what Frum would have done if some paleoconservative had written a glowing essay describing Rudolf Hess as a “prophetic moralist”: whole forests would need to be felled to print his denunciations of the miscreant.

What the mutual embrace of Hitchens and the neocons tells us is that Hitchens’s assessment of neoconservatism is essentially correct: the regnant force in American conservatism today is warmed-over Trotskyism, which views America merely as the embodiment of the ideology of global revolution. This is, admittedly, a depressing conclusion. But there is hope. Hitchens spent the first half of his ideological career riding a dying horse. He may have just started riding another one.

Tom Piatak writes from Cleveland, Ohio.
October 10, 2005 Issue

Mark Steyn: Islamist Way or No Way

The Australian
October 04, 2005

IT'S not just the environmentalists who think globally and act locally. The jihadi who murdered Newcastle woman Jennifer Williamson, Perth teenager Brendan Fitzgerald and a couple of dozen more Australians, Indonesians, Japanese and others had certain things in common with the July 7 London Tube killers. For example, Azahari bin Husin, who police believe may be the bomb-maker behind this weekend's atrocity, completed a doctorate at England's Reading University.
The contribution of the British education system to the jihad is really quite remarkable.

But, on the other hand, despite Clive Williams's game attempt to connect the two on this page yesterday, nobody seriously thinks what happened in Bali has anything to do with Iraq. There are, in the end, no root causes, or anyway not ones that can be negotiated by troop withdrawals or a Palestinian state. There is only a metastasising cancer that preys on whatever local conditions are to hand. Five days before the slaughter in Bali, nine Islamists were arrested in Paris for reportedly plotting to attack the Metro. Must be all those French troops in Iraq, right? So much for the sterling efforts of President Jacques Chirac and his Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, as the two chief obstructionists of Bush-Blair-Howard neo-con-Zionist warmongering these past three years.

When the suicide bombers self-detonated on Saturday, the travel section of Britain's The Sunday Telegraph had already gone to press, its lead story a feature on how Bali's economy had bounced back from the carnage of 2002. We all want to believe that: one terrorist attack is like a tsunami or hurricane, just one of those things, blows in out of the blue, then the familiar contours of the landscape return. But two attacks are a permanent feature, the way things are and will be for some years, as one by one the bars and hotels and clubs and restaurants shut up shop. Many of the Australians injured this weekend had waited to return to Bali, just to make sure it was "safe". But it isn't, and it won't be for a long time, and by the time it is it won't be the Bali that Westerners flocked to before 2002.

I found myself behind a car in Vermont, in the US, the other day; it had a one-word bumper sticker with the injunction "COEXIST". It's one of those sentiments beloved of Western progressives, one designed principally to flatter their sense of moral superiority. The C was the Islamic crescent, the O was the hippie peace sign, the X was the Star of David and the T was the Christian cross. Very nice, hard to argue with. But the reality is, it's the first of those symbols that has a problem with coexistence. Take the crescent out of the equation and you wouldn't need a bumper sticker at all. Indeed, coexistence is what the Islamists are at war with; or, if you prefer, pluralism, the idea that different groups can rub along together within the same general neighbourhood. There are many trouble spots across the world but, as a general rule, even if one gives no more than a cursory glance at the foreign pages, it's easy to guess at least one of the sides: Muslims v Jews in Palestine, Muslims v Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims v Christians in Nigeria, Muslims v Buddhists in southern Thailand, Muslims v (your team here). Whatever one's views of the merits on a case by case basis, the ubiquitousness of one team is a fact.

"Men of intemperate mind never can be free; their passions forge their fetters," wrote Edmund Burke. And, in that sense, Bali is more symbolic of the Islamofascist strategy than London or Madrid, Beslan or Istanbul. The jihad has held out against some tough enemies: the Israelis in the West Bank, the Russians in Chechnya; these are primal conflicts. But what's the beef in Bali? Oh, to be sure, to the more fastidious Islamist some of those decadent hedonist fornicating Westerners whooping it up are a little offensive. But they'd be offensive whoever they were and whatever they did. It's the reality of a pluralist enclave within the world's largest Muslim nation that offends. It's the coexistence, stupid.

So even Muslims v (your team here) doesn't quite cover it. You don't have to have a team or even be aware that you belong to any side. You can be a hippie-dippy hey-man-I-love-everybody-whatever-your-bag-is-cool backpacking Dutch stoner, and they'll blow you up with as much enthusiasm as if you were Dick Cheney. As a spokesman for the Islamic Army of Aden put it in 2002, explaining why they bombed a French oil tanker: "We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels."

No problem. In our time, even the most fascistic ideologies have been savvy enough to cover their darker impulses in sappy labels. The Soviet bloc was comprised of wall-to-wall "people's republics", which is the precise opposite of what they were: a stylistic audacity Orwell caught perfectly in 1984, with its Ministry of Truth (that is, official lies). But the Islamists don't even bother going through the traditional rhetorical feints. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. "We are here as on a darkling plain ..." wrote Matthew Arnold in the famous concluding lines to Dover Beach, "where ignorant armies clash by night".

But we choose in large part to stay in ignorance. Blow up the London Underground during a G8 summit and the world's leaders twitter about how tragic and ironic it is that this should have happened just as they're taking steps to deal with the issues, as though the terrorists are upset about poverty in Africa and global warming.

So, even in a great blinding flash of clarity, we can't wait to switch the lights off and go back to fumbling around on the darkling plain. Bali three years ago and Bali three days ago light up the sky: they make unavoidable the truth that Islamism is a classic "armed doctrine"; it exists to destroy. The reality of Bali's contribution to Indonesia's economic health is irrelevant. The jihadists would rather that the country be poorer and purer than prosperous and pluralist. For one thing, it's richer soil for them. If the Islamofascists gain formal control of Indonesia, it won't be a parochial, self-absorbed dictatorship such as Suharto's but a launching pad for an Islamic superstate across Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

Can they pull it off? The reality is that there are more Muslim states than a half-century ago, many more Muslims within non-Muslim states, and many more of those Muslims are radicalised and fundamentalist. It's not hard to understand. All you have to do is take them at their word.
As Bassam Tibi, a Muslim professor at Gottingen University in Germany, said in an interesting speech a few months after September 11, "Both sides should acknowledge candidly that although they might use identical terms, these mean different things to each of them. The word peace, for example, implies to a Muslim the extension of the Dar al-Islam -- or House of Islam -- to the entire world. This is completely different from the Enlightenment concept of eternal peace that dominates Western thought. Only when the entire world is a Dar al-Islam will it be a Dar a-Salam, or House of Peace."

That's why they blew up Bali in 2002, and last weekend, and why they'll keep blowing it up. It's not about Bush or Blair or Iraq or Palestine. It's about a world where everything other than Islamism lies inruins.

Mark Steyn, a columnist with the Telegraph Group, is a regular contributor to The Australian's Opinion page.

Crime: The Dirty Little Secret of The Open Border Policy

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mark Steyn: Media Deserves Blame For New Orleans Debacle

October 2, 2005

Dan Rather was on ''Larry King Live'' the other night and was asked about the Katrina coverage. Now, say what you like about Dan, but he knows his meteorological phenomena. I've always thought there was something quintessentially American about Dan's hurricane editions of the CBS news -- not the part of the show where he's reporting on the actual hurricane, but the bit where he says "And today's other headlines,'' as if it's the most normal thing in the world to be reading "The Dow closed 19 points down today" while wrapped around a lamppost in your sou'wester with a rusting doublewide flying over your shoulder.

Yet Hurricane Dan professed himself delighted with his successors. "They took us there to the hurricane," he told Larry. "They put the facts in front of us and, very important, they sucked up their guts and talked truth to power."

Er, no. The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn't talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans' Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they'd been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead! Widespread rape and murder! A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed! It was great stuff -- and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.

Most of the media are still in Dan mode, sucking up their guts and congratulating themselves about what a swell job they did during Katrina. CNN producers were advising their guests to "be angry," and there was so much to get angry about, not least the fact that no matter how angry you got on air Anderson Cooper was always much better at it. And Mayor Nagin as well. To show he was angry, he said "frickin'" all the frickin' time so that by the end of a typical Nagin soundbite you felt as if you'd been gang-fricked. "That frickin' Superdome," he raged. "Five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

But nobody got killed by a hooligan in the Superdome. The problem wasn't rape and murder, but the rather more prosaic lack of bathroom facilities. As Ben Stein put it, it was the media that rioted. They grabbed every lurid rumor and took it for a wild joyride across prime time. There was a real story in there -- big hurricane, people dead -- but it wasn't enough, and certainly not for damaging President Bush.

Think about that: Hurricane week was in large part a week of drivel, mostly the bizarre fantasies of New Orleans' incompetent police chief but amplified hugely by a gullible media. Given everything we now know they got wrong in Louisiana, where they speak the language, how likely is it that the great blundering herd are getting it any more accurate in Iraq?

Four years ago, you'll recall, we were bogged down in "the brutal Afghan winter." By "we," I don't mean the military but the media. The line on Afghanistan was that it was the white man's grave. Actually, it was the grave that was white; the man was more of a blueish color thanks to temperatures "so cold that eyelids crust and saliva turns to sludge in the mouth," according to Knight-Ridder's Tom Ifield. "Realistically," reported New York's Daily News, "U.S. forces have a window of two or three weeks before the brutal Afghan winter begins to foreclose options."

Er, no. "Realistically," U.S. forces turned out to have a window of four years, which is how long they've been waiting for the "fast, fast approaching" (ABC's ''Nightline'') brutal Afghan winter to show up. It's Knight-Ridder's news reports that turn to sludge on your lips. The "brutal Afghan winter" is a media fiction.

How many times does this have to happen before the press seriously examines why so many of them get the big stories wrong in exactly the same way? After decades of boasting about "hiring diversity," everybody in America's newsrooms is now so remarkably diverse they all make exactly the same mistakes. Oughtn't that to be just a teensy bit disquieting even to the most blinkered journalism professor?

How appropriate that it should be Dan Rather, always late to yesterday's conventional wisdom, to bless the media's fraudulent coverage of Katrina. Dan was back, along with his dismissed producer Mary Mapes, to defend his fake-memo story from last year. Another interviewer, his former CBS colleague Marvin Kalb, sympathized at the way Rather's terrific story had somehow gotten lost in a lot of tedious quibbling about the fact that the 1970s typewritten memos amazingly used the default font of Microsoft Word: "The focus was not on the substance of your story," complained Marvin to Dan. "The National Guard aspect of the whole thing sort of dropped to the side, and this media focus was on you."

The critics had, as Mary Mapes puts it in her new book, "nothing beyond a cursory and politically motivated examination of the typeface." To this day, as Dan likes to moan, the White House is still refusing to address the substance of the story.

There's a reason for that. If I say "King Zog of Albania today launched a blistering critique of the CBS News Division," and you point out that King Zog of Albania died in 1961, that's it -- it's over.
Doesn't matter how blistering the critique is. And that goes for the hurricane, too. You can't indict Bush for failing to respond when you've spent the previous week demanding he respond to fake crises -- mass murder, mass child rape, five-figure body counts.

Oh, well. Even at CNN, hurricane fever can't last forever. According to the headline writers at the network's Web site on Thursday:

"Bush Narrows Supreme Court List: Judges, Lawyers Being Considered, Analysts Say."

Well, those "analysts" lent a devastating blow to those of us who thought the president would push the envelope, think outside the box and appoint a busboy or exotic dancer. But no. After two centuries of the same-old same-old, it's still "judges, lawyers being considered." But it's good to know the media are reverting to ponderous statements of the obvious after a wild and wacky couple of weeks' worth of statements of the obviously wrong.

Pat Buchanan: The GOP's Broken Hammer

October 2, 2005

The photo on page 3 of The Washington Times was a metaphor for the Bush administration and the Republican Party.

It is a shot of the most powerful vice president in history, hunched over, gazing down, as he slowly mounts the steps of the White House, with the aid of a cane. But where Dick Cheney is recuperating smoothly from knee surgery, the administration appears in need of resuscitation.

The words of Claudius again come to mind: "When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions."

The charge by District Attorney Ronnie Earle of Travis County, Texas, that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay engaged in a "criminal conspiracy" may be a shot in the back from a partisan prosecutor. But that does not alter history.

Tom DeLay, the most powerful Republican in Congress, is the first House leader in a century to be indicted. And given The Hammer's previous problems -- three citations from the House ethics committee and reports of miles of first-class travel courtesy of indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- it is hard to see how DeLay recovers his luster or his power.

This same week, the ranking Senate Republican, Majority Leader Bill Frist, came under SEC investigation for his fortuitous sale, out of his blind trust, of his block of stock in Hospital Corporation of America, days before the shares sank on news of a bad earnings report. Frist claims he sold the stock to clear his portfolio of any potential conflict of interest, should he declare for president. But other Frist family members, who are presumably not declaring for higher office, also appear to have dumped HCA shares.

The Frist case is a simple but deadly serious one. Did he and his family, as insiders, use privileged information to unload their HCA shares on an unsuspecting public that took a bath when the HCA stock tanked?

Frist denies it. Thus, his integrity, credibility and career are all on the line. He will need a clean bill of health from U.S. investigators to remain viable as a presidential candidate. And even a clean bill of health will not stop cynical snickers that, by divine intervention, Frist's blind trust miraculously recovered its sight -- just in time to save him a small fortune.

A bedeviled Bush did not need this grief. His own White House already has ethics clouds swirling above: the investigation into the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA covert asset; the procurement chief at the White House, David Safavian, having just been collared in a land deal involving Abramoff; and charges of cronyism in naming "Brownie" and the boys to run FEMA.

Now, we learn that Ms. Julie Myers, 36, niece of Gen. Myers and currently betrothed to the chief of staff to Homeland Security's Michael Chertoff, is to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is housed inside Homeland Security. All in the family.

Ethics clouds, cronyism, nepotism aside, Bush's approval is at 40 percent. Social Security reform seems dead. Disapproval of Bush as a war leader is now two-to-one, and half the nation believes Iraq to have been a mistake and we ought to get out.

Pile on top of this the daily beating the president gets for Katrina, gas prices at $3.00 a gallon, Americans about to get the first bills for home heating oil, consumer confidence plunging to a two-year low, Bush's refusal to deal with the border crisis and a GOP rebellion over spending, and you have the ingredients of a party uprising and a political tsunami in 2006.

All the news is not bad. The nomination of John Roberts as chief justice could, if supported by one or two more conservative jurists, be a crown jewel in the Bush legacy. And though Rita and Katrina hammered the Gulf Coast, threw the budget back into deep deficit and may knock a point off of GDP, tax revenues have been soaring at record rates.

Nor is Bush alone in encountering second-term turbulence. Nixon had Watergate. Carter did not get a second term. Reagan was knocked off stride by Iran-Contra. Bush I did not get a second term. Clinton got impeached. Yet, no taint of personal scandal has directly touched this president.

Moreover, if the Republican Party looks like the New York Yankees in disarray, the Democrats look like they have a mortal lock on the league cellar. On the war, the economy, the Supreme Court, they have nothing to offer but negativity.

The left seems to be as unhappy with its leaders as the right is becoming, and there is no third party out there, and no primaries in which to pick new leaders for two-and-a-half years.
Houston, we have a problem.

Copyright 2005 Creators Syndicate