Friday, December 16, 2005

Hamas Wins, Everyone Else Loses

HAMAS is on its way to control of the disputed territories:

"Hamas supporters on Friday celebrated a landslide election victory in major West Bank towns, the strongest sign yet of the Islamic militant group's growing political appeal ahead of Jan. 25 parliamentary elections.

Israel responded with concern, saying a Palestinian government dominated by Hamas — which calls for Israel's destruction and has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks — would not be a partner for peace.

The results stunned officials from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas'
Fatah Party, whose internal disarray developed into a split this week when a group of young-guard leaders broke away.

Thousands of Hamas supporters joined victory marches after Friday prayers. In Jenin, where Hamas won a majority of local council seats, marchers chanted, "To Jerusalem we march, martyrs by the millions!" and held up copies of the Quran.

Hamas' welfare programs — coupled with its fierce resistance to Israel's occupation — have won it grass-roots support among Palestinians fed up with Fatah's corruption and inability to rein in lawlessness."

As I wrote 2 months ago:

"The Palestinian Authority as a monolithic organization is quite possibly doomed in unoccupied Gaza. Arafat had charismatic authority that noone else is going to be able to replace. As a whole, the organization was propped up by the Israelis themselves, under the pressure of the world, as the representative of the Palestinian people. The Israelis gave them 15,000 M-16s due to Oslo [which were later used against them], treated them as the only negotiating power, thereby giving them credibility, and scared off even more radical rivals such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

In reality, the PA was merely a mafia that had little internal legitimacy besides being the world sponsored monopoly. They could be propped up when Gaza was under outside [Israeli] control, but now the UN and its affiliates aren't as effective so long as the Israelis are gone - they were the normalizing and deterring force.

So the PA has lost much of its international subsidation, and is forced to survive on its own credibility - a decades long legacy of corruption and violence. Only, if you want violence, and I believe the Palestinians do, there's more efficient killers than the PA. Furthermore, Gaza, as opposed to the West Bank, has traditionally been Hamas' stronghold. For these reasons, it is my opinion that Hamas or a derivative will likely be in control of Gaza before it is all over, absent external intervention."

At the time I was unsure at how much staying power Fatah had retained in the West Bank, traditionally an area of strength. Unfortunately, even there, Fatah is a mess. Without Arafat as a figurehead, it is likely to continue to fragment. Palestinian-Israeli peace is farther away than ever.

The blood that will flow lies not only on the hands of Hamas, but on the hands of the blind and unrealistic Israelis, Europeans, Americans, and UN members who turned a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority's failings, allowing Arafat to turn it into a personal mafia that was doomed upon his death. It lies on the hands of those who pretended not to see the corruption, and the continued incitement to violence, that carried on throughout Oslo. They had 8 years to address this, and they didn't - because it was politically difficult to do so. And they prepared the way for a more Islamic, but less corrupt alternative to fill the vacuum. It is symbollic, and directly correlates the rise of Islamic movements throughout the Middle East.

Unfortunately, there is little sign that anyone besides American and Israeli leadership is at all prepared to deal with the reality that there will be no deal between the Israelis and Palestinians so long as the latter is treated as a child that is beyond reproach for irresponsibility and bloodlust.

HT: Captain's Quarters.

Posted at Outside the Beltway.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Indonesia set to cut radical cleric Bashir's sentence:

"Indonesia will ignore Australian protests and slash the prison sentences of 27 Bali bombers as well as their alleged spiritual leader, radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir.

Remissions for thousands of inmates are being handed down to mark the end of Islam's Ramadan fasting month.

Bashir is expected to get one month sliced off his sentence, meaning he could be free by next April.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer travelled to Jakarta last month to persuade President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to block reductions for those convicted of terror offences.

But Indonesia's Justice Minister Hamid Awaluddin says they'll go ahead according to existing regulations.

"The Republic of Indonesia, as a sovereign state, must not be dictated by the wishes of other countries," Awaluddin said this week. "... all prisoners will be given a sentence cut in line with their rights under prevailing laws and regulations."

Australian officials have been working with their Indonesian counterparts to re-draft laws and exclude terrorists from automatic remissions on major religious and national holidays.

But Indonesian justice ministry officials say the revisions will not be completed in time for Thursday's Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday, known as Lebaran.

Bashir is serving what originally was a 30-month jail term for conspiracy in the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, among them 88 Australians.

He also got a four-month cut as part of independence day celebrations in August.

Government officials say the jail terms of 27 of the 2002 Bali bombers will be cut on Thursday by around six weeks each."

This is what treating the War on Terrorism as a law enforcement matter really means. The bottom line is that if governments can't guarentee these people [responsible for the murder of 202 people!] will be locked up for good, we should kill them right off the streets, complications be damned.

At the same, [Australian] Clerics still preaching hatred of West:

"Muslim clerics in Sydney and Melbourne - led by radicals Sheik Mohammed Omran and Sheik Abdul Salam Mohammed Zoud - are still preaching hatred against the West, urging followers in Arabic to resist peace and support insurgents waging war against Australian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In open defiance of John Howard's proposed new terror laws and the Prime Minister's demand that Muslim leaders desist from inflammatory rhetoric, Lakemba cleric Sheik Zoud has used his Friday prayer meetings over the past month to praise Muslim fighters. "Allah yinsur el-mujaheddin fe-Iraq (God grant victory to the mujaheddin in Iraq)," he repeatedly screamed during a 35-minute Arabic sermon at Lakemba's Haldon Street prayer hall in Sydney's southwest last week.

In further contempt of Mr Howard, Sheik Zoud's high-profile counterpart in Melbourne, Sheik Omran, also declared last month: "No victory (for Islam's brothers and sisters) can be stopped by George Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard."

Under expanded sedition provisions, people face up to seven years' jail for promoting feelings of ill will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and government of the commonwealth. This would include urging another person to engage in conduct that supports an organisation or country at war with Australia.

A third cleric - Harun Abu Talha, editor of contentious newspaper Mecca News - has also used Friday prayers at Sheik Omran's Brunswick mosque in Melbourne to attack "the criminal government of Israel that has been hurting our brothers and sisters in Palestine for so many years".

And during a prayer meeting last month, Abu Talha said: "We should not compromise our dean (religion) for the sake of peace." He concluded his sermon: "May Allah help the mujaheddin in Iraq."

The message the fundamentalist clerics are delivering to their supporters - mostly in Arabic - is in dramatic contrast to their public statements.

Last month, Sheik Zoud told about 400 followers in Arabic: "God grant victory to the mujaheddin in Kashmir and Chechnya, and Palestine and Afghanistan."

Sheik Zoud, head of the Sydney arm of the Melbourne-based organisation Ahlus Sunnah Wal-Jamaah declared: "Inshallah (God willing), dark days will descend upon America soon."

But during a newspaper interview last year, Sheik Zoud said: "I'm against all terrorism over the world. I'm against all terrorists who kill civilian people.

"Let the Australian people relax. Why everyone make the Australian people scared from the Muslims?

"We left our countries because of all of the problems there, and we move to this safe country to live the rest of our life."

After Mr Howard singled out Sheik Omran earlier this year for not doing enough to denounce terrorism, the cleric wrote to The Australian: "We consider ourselves Australians working for the betterment of Australia. Those of us who came from other countries appreciate how the people of this country have accepted us with open arms.

"Islam teaches us to appreciate kindness, and we wouldn't do anything to betray this gesture."
Rather warns students of 'new' media.

"Longtime CBS Evening News anchorman Dan Rather on Tuesday called for a return to independent journalism, telling viewers to be critical of the plethora of "new" media outlets that feign objectivity while working to advance their own - or another's - agenda.


Cohen, a former U.S. senator from Maine and secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, echoed Rather's renewed call for a free and independent press, one whose members do not have to risk access to information if they ask tough questions.

"That is not the tradition of this country," Cohen said. "That is something all people should be fearful of."

As opposed to blogs. For some reason I'm getting this uncontrollable urge to shout... FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, WAR IS PEACE!

Whoops - almost lost it there.

I'm generally a pretty forgiving guy and I could feel some sympathy for someone whose entire career is ended by one misstep.

But Mapes and Rather deserved to be publically tarred and feathered, that this sort of people controlled the public agenda for so long is positively scary. Good riddance to these self-important hacks, who's next?
Greyhawk of the Mudville Gazette goes after the New York Times for selectively quoting American military members:

"I've been to Iraq. And I characterized the Times disgraceful use of the words of an American hero as intellectually vacant moral cowardice. I was being generous.

Because I've seen numerous examples of such behavior on the part of the New York Times over the past several months. All involve selective quoting, misquoting, or simply claiming a GI said something without actually quoting them at all. Most range in repugnance from mildly annoying to grossly reprehensible - but in what I believe is the worst case they appear to attempt to frame a soldier for murder."
Facing draft, Alito joined Army Reserve.

""Sam looked like he was sure to be drafted. He said, 'If I'm going into the Army, I might as well be an officer.'"


Don't Forget "Death to America" Day

See here.

The Collossus:

"Here, in the land of the Great Satan, we have all kinds of deep, philosophical discussions over whether one may even pledge one's allegiance to America, especially if said pledge contains the odious words "under God." In Iran, there's no such lack of focus. You chant "Death to America" or else. I don't imagine students who opt to sit out the group chant there will be feted by the press there -- or here, for that matter -- as courageous heroes. I'm also thinking that the principal in an Iranian school isn't above the occasional caning of miscreants. Call it a hunch.

Well, I have a message for you little Iranian b*stards.

You want a piece of me? You think you're big and bad enough to tangle with the likes of me? I guarantee you -- you may think you're all big and bad when you're in a group of your friends, sitting there under your little Iranian flag, under a beaming portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini, protected by the teacher, but if you want to mix it up with me, then walk on over to my playground. Anytime, kids.

These people have no idea what we are capable of when we feel truly threatened. Quran defacement? Torture? Hah! If Joe-sixpack and the Jacksonians kick our effeminate and self-apologetic elites to the curb, their eyes are going to open wide. It is a pity, but our State Department would probably serve us better by disseminating volumes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki than peace videos that they spit back at us.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Prince Charles to lecture Americans on tolerance towards Muslims:

"The Prince of Wales will try to persuade George W Bush and Americans of the merits of Islam this week because he thinks the United States has been too intolerant of the religion since September 11.

The Prince, who leaves on Tuesday for an eight-day tour of the US, has voiced private concerns over America's "confrontational" approach to Muslim countries and its failure to appreciate Islam's strengths.


The Prince raised his concerns when he met senior Muslims in London in November 2001. The gathering took place just two months after the attacks on New York and Washington. "I find the language and rhetoric coming from America too confrontational," the Prince said, according to one leader at the meeting.


Mr Mahmood and other Muslims present stressed that Prince Charles did not go so far as to criticise the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. More recently, he has been careful not to express his views on Iraq.

The Prince also spoke of his sympathy for America after the terrorist attacks that claimed the lives of almost 3,000 people. He said he wanted to promote better relations between the different religions of the world."

From an International Pew Poll released in July:

Note that this poll was taken before the attacks in London, it would be interesting to see the new UK numbers.

Regardless, perhaps the Prince should take his act eastward, and lecture other people.

HT: Samizdata.
"We have lost a lot of people":

"The Iraqi soldier wears a green mask over his face to work. He reveals only his brown eyes as he mans his checkpoint.

Dozens of Iraqis see Mahmud Abdul Karim when they cross the bridge he guards each day. He dons the mask because he doesn’t want them to recognize him when he goes on leave to his home in Nasiriyah south of here.

Insurgents have killed scores of other Iraqi soldiers for cooperating with the U.S. military. Karim said he knows of at least 70 fellow soldiers who have been killed while on leave.

“We have lost a lot of people,” said Karim, 24, who has served in the Iraqi Army for 15 months. “They stay in the street and wait for us.”

Suldog-O-Rama: How NOT To Write A Cover Letter

Suldog-O-Rama: How NOT To Write A Cover Letter:

"I assumed that, since this was a creative type of business I was trying to get into, a creative cover letter would be appreciated. I failed to take into account the fact that, while the end of the business I was attempting to get into called for imagination, your average programming director has the imagination of a sea slug. And I might be doing a disservice to sea slugs by saying that...

"Person In Whose Hands I Am Placing My Life
Same Address As On The Envelope

Dear Form Letter Recipient:

Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm the idiot who thinks that he can forego writing a personal letter, yet still believes he will receive a personal reply. My name is Jim Sullivan. I will more than likely commit suicide unless you offer me a job immediately.

Whew! That's quite a first paragraph, wouldn't you say? I'm willing to bet that this is the first cover letter you've ever received where the person applying for work states right up front that he is both mentally deficient and suicidal (not to mention egotistical enough to think that you'd care, even though he didn't take the time to find out your name.) Well, that's just the kind of guy I am!..."

As someone applying for Graduate Schools (offers accepted via e-mail), I can relate. The temptation to go for originality and admit my insanity is quite tempting, but I'll keep the results of this experience in mind - I won't dare mention I'm a Republican.

Suldog-O-Rama: A Halloween Story

A worthwhile and entertaining Halloween story.

I would tell a story of my own, but it involves a sorority girl and a cat suit - and this is a family oriented blog (at least when I'm not quoting Kossacks).

"The Buck stops here."

Man kills deer with bare hands:

"For 40 exhausting minutes, Wayne Goldsberry battled a buck with his bare hands in his daughter’s bedroom in Arkansas, USA.

Goldsberry finally subdued the five-point whitetail deer that crashed through a bedroom window at his daughter’s home.

When it was over, blood splattered the walls and the deer lay dead on the bedroom floor, its neck broken.

Goldsberry was at his daughter’s home when he heard glass breaking. He went back to check on the noise and found the deer.

“I was peeking around the corner when the deer came out of the bedroom,” said Goldsberry. The deer ran down the hall and into the master bedroom - “jumping back and forth across the bed.”

Goldsberry entered the bedroom to confront the deer and, after a brief struggle, emerged to tell his wife to call police.

After returning to the bedroom, the fight continued. Goldsberry finally was able to grip the animal and twist its neck, killing it.

Goldsberry, sore from the struggle, dragged the dead animal out of the house.

“He got kicked several times. He was walking bowlegged for a while,” Deputy Doug Gay said."

-No comment necessary.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

An Iraqi city becomes turnaround story:

"Last January, Baquba was symbol of everything going wrong in Iraq - and its neighborhood of Buhritz was a symbol for everything going wrong in Baquba.

This city just 50 miles north of Baghdad was crawling with Sunni Arab mortar teams, snipers, and bombmakers. They had made parts of the city their own, killing police when they found them and driving the rest into hiding. Their grip was so strong that only 60 percent of the region's polling places opened for Iraq's first post-Saddam election. In Buhritz, not a vote was cast; some polling sites were torched.

But today, US commanders are pointing to Baquba as a symbol of what might go right. Every polling place stayed open all day for the Oct. 15 referendum that approved Iraq's new constitution earlier this month. Violence was light, while voter turnout was high."

Of course, how they voted, and how committed the voters are to a political process that will not return them [Sunnis] to sole authority, is a different story, still...

"Asked why, Lt. Col. Rob Risberg, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Army's 10th Field Artillery Regiment, scratches his head, then says it hasn't been rocket science. "The Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police have really come along - they can handle most of what comes their way now,'' says Colonel Risberg, from DeLeon Springs, Fla. "We're here to back them up, but I think we're seeing the benefits of getting cops on almost every street corner."

There have also been heavy doses of force. In June, Buhritz - a tough neighborhood where kids swim in a murky, trash-strewn irrigation canal fed from the nearby Diyala River - was almost a no-go zone for Risberg's men. They didn't come down except in force, and even then were almost certain to be shot at.

Then on June 17, Lt. Noah Harris of Dawsonville, Ga., and Cpl. William Long of Lillburn, Ga., were killed when their humvee was hit by a roadside bomb in the area, and Risberg decided he'd had enough. "That was the straw that broke the camel's back," he says, pointing to the crater left by that earlier bomb as he rolled through Buhritz with just a three-humvee convoy.

The Army shut down the area for six weeks - basically letting no one in and no one out - and began major sweeps through the area. Risberg said the operation had a twofold objective: To capture fighters in the area and to persuade residents not to support them.

Risberg was helped by Capt. Bobby Ray Toon, from Grannies Neck, Texas, who was directly responsible for Buhritz. In the Army as an enlisted man for 18 years, he recently attended officer candidate school and was put in charge of a company of about 150 men. His experience made it easier for him to make the right calls in dealing with local civilians, problems that take as much political as military savvy.

Each time an attack originated in the area, Risberg would have a nearby palm grove shelled, sometimes as often as every 15 minutes the whole night. He'd also further restrict residents' movement. "We were trying to show them that you're going to help us clean up this area or you're going to pay the price,'' he explains. "I didn't care which."

When local families complained that the shelling frightened their kids, he'd tell them to help hand over insurgents - only then would the shelling stop. They also replaced the local mayor and the town council, who seemed sympathetic to the insurgency. Eventually, he and others in his battalion say, the approach got results."

Unfortunately, our idealistic goals make traditional counter-insurgency difficult. We can force them to keep their heads down so long as we make their lives miserable, but we cannot force them to willingly participate in a political process even after we have left. Iraq remains a country where political power originates out of a gun and the threat of force or reprisals, rather than voluntary participation. We can destroy the active insurgency, but still fail due to recalcitrant Sunni attitudes towards the political process. Ultimately, the biggest weakness of the neo-Conservative enterprise is that our goals can only be achieved willingly by other actors.
Small units lure Taliban into losing battles:

"Much is made about the high-tech gear that US soldiers carry: body armor, rapid-firing machine guns, night vision goggles. But the chief advantage of the US military - especially in a low-intensity conflict, pitted against a crudely trained force like the Taliban - is training and air power.

Taliban fighters, meanwhile, appear to gain courage from numbers, the ability to swarm a smaller enemy unit. A sense of safety in numbers, however, is often the Taliban's undoing if a US platoon can fix an enemy's position long enough for aircraft or other infantry units to arrive. This is the backbone of US military strategy in Zabul, and one reason why the Taliban have lost so many fighters this year.

"We've had a lot of success with textbook tactics, getting the smallest element engaged, and then using other assets to just pile on," says O'Neal. "The Taliban are more willing to engage with us when we have smaller numbers."


"As night falls, American AC-130 Specter gunships arrive to engage Taliban fighters who have also decided to make a run for it. By the end of the day, 76 Taliban bodies are counted, and another nine Taliban fighters are captured.

To this day, the men of the 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, can't figure out what the Taliban were thinking. Were they suicidal? Why did they gather so many Taliban in one place? Did they really think they had enough men to defeat the Americans?

"They called the BBC to tell them they had taken the district headquarters," says O'Neal. "They knew we were going to come."
"There is no reason why the west should set its face against the vision of a reunited Islamic world [Caliphate]", so says a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain in the Guardian.

Well, except for the fact that most of its proponents are insane and want to bury us. He also puts in a nice plug for Sharia.

See here for its less glamorous side.
A Kossack explodes:

"And I will be God Damn Fucking Dead And In a Hole In The Fucking Ground before I let you claim "Italian American" OR Roman Catholic as a fucking code phrase for batshit conservative reactionaries whose dismissal of womens' rights, civil rights, worker rights, and pretty much everything else that has made America great make it clear they think all those things are akin to something they would normally scrape off their shoes.

There's nothing fucking "Italian American" about being an ultra-far-right conservative jackass. You will not drag my heritage into this like you shoved Alito's well-groomed hand up Rosa Parks' corpse, or I will bury you, you loathsome little egg-humping fucker. And unlike most of the victims of your only-like-a-minority-when-they're-dead corpse huggings, I'm still very much alive."

With blood pressure like that, he won't be for long.

HT: Protein Wisdom
Translated [somewhat roughly] on Free Republic, originally from the South Korean Conservative newspaper Chosun Ilbo:

S. Korean Lawmaker: "N. Korea demanded Hyundai Asan blueprints of a submarine (and an Aegis ship) in return for business deals."

Lawmaker Lee Ban-ho from (opposition) Hannara Party asserted on Oct. 25, "The reason why N. Korea declared the total scrapping of Hyundai Asan's N. Korean business venture is because N. Korea demanded to have blueprints for a submarine and an Aegis ship under construction at Hyundai Shipyard, but Hyundai Asan refused." Assemblyman Lee made such an assertion, saying, "The source close to Hyundai Asan passed this intelligence," during the questioning session on unification, foreign policy, and national security issues of government, and also during his conversation with Yonhap News.

However, he did not produce any evidence to back it up. Asked who passed such information along, he just said, "To protect the source, I cannot provide any detail on him."

During his questioning, he said, "Last July when Hyun Jong-eun, the President of Hyundai Asan, met Kim Jong-il, N. Koreans made such a proposition. However, President Hyun refused, saying, 'We could give you anything else you want, but my conscience cannot possibly allow me to agree to such a demand."

He continued, "Moreover, it is my understanding that American CIA already knows this, too. The submarine and the Aegis ship under construction by Hyundai Shipbuilding are for our navy to operate."

Unification Minister responded to this, saying, "(it is) a baseless allegation." When Assemblyman Lee pressed on, saying, "You can personally get confirmation from President Hyun. This outrageous fact....," he dismissed it again, saying, "This is no more than an unfounded rumor."

Depending on the veracity of his claim, this could touch off serious controversy.

If proven true, this could have grave impact on entire inter-Korean relationship, because N. Korea demanded military secrets which can shake the core of (S. Korean) national security, using N. Korean venture as 'a bait.' On the other hand, if proven false, Assemblyman Lee cannot escape the condemnation of practicing 'irresponsible bombshell announcement.'"

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fantastic collection of Coalition military images.
Wife arrested [for racism] after calling her husband 'lazy'.:

"Belgium’s history of linguistic bickering between Flemings and Walloons entered a new phase this week when police arrested a Flemish woman for calling her Walloon husband lazy, Belgian media said on Thursday.

The 48-year-old husband filed a complaint for racism against his spouse for scratching him and calling him “a lazy Walloon, a slave and an inferior creature,” De Standaard daily said.

The 47-year-old woman will appear before a magistrate later on Thursday to face charges of racism, the newspaper said."

Those goofy Europeans.

HT: Dean Esmay.
4th Infantry better trained for Iraq return:

"The massive deployment of the "Ironhorse" division, with 71,000 pieces of equipment that include tanks, helicopters and artillery, was marked in a solemn ceremony Friday in which unit flags were rolled up and stored for shipment back to the theater of war. Tanks and other vehicles will be placed on railcars next week, and troops will leave in a string of flights into December.

The division served more than a year in Iraq before returning in April 2004, and 80 of its soldiers were killed in action during the early days of the insurgency. Only about one-third of the total 20,700 troops in this deployment have previous experience in Iraq because of extensive reorganization of the 4th Infantry, officials said.


The division will be based in Baghdad when it replaces the 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Ga. Also serving under him will be three divisions of Iraqi forces, bringing the total number of troops under his command to about 50,000.

"This is the largest heavy combat formation that our Army has and it is the most modern one that our nation has built," Thurman said, adding that, "I expect a lot out of the Iraqi forces."

He said the division has trained since January to fight a "tough insurgency" by using "full-spectrum combat operations."

Rather than prepare for a mellow peacekeeping role, soldiers were prepared for "a mid- to high-intensity land campaign," Thurman said.

Further, Thurman said, the Sept. 11, 2003 [sic], attacks "should never be forgotten ... That's what's at stake here, and prosecuting this global war on terrorism."

If I remember correctly, the 4th ID is also the most technologically advanced unit in the Army, featuring M1A2 SEP tanks.
PETA officials collide with deer:

"There's plenty of laughter and a little sadness in the hunting community over an incident involving a deer that collided with an automobile driven by two animal rights campaigners who belong to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. The folks who worship at the altar of animals now want to sue a New Jersey game department over the incident, claiming it's the state's fault that it happened."

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Multiculturalism and the Repeal of Universal Human Rights

Via Jeff Goldstein, in Australia:

"Police are being advised to treat Muslim domestic violence cases differently out of respect for Islamic traditions and habits.

Officers are also being urged to work with Muslim leaders, who will try to keep the families together.

Women’s groups are concerned the politically correct policing could give comfort to wife bashers and keep their victims in a cycle of violence.

The instructions come in a religious diversity handbook given to Victorian police officers that also recommends special treatment for suspects of Aboriginal, Hindu and Buddhist background.

Some police officers have claimed the directives hinder enforcing the law equally.

Police are told: “In incidents such as domestic violence, police need to have an understanding of the traditions, ways of life and habits of Muslims."

Says Goldstein:

"Sad to say, but this is the predictable result of a culture in which the kind of identity politics that follow from the institutionalization of multiculturalism as the foundation for a political system essentially forces lawmakers into treating each “Other” on its own delineated terms.

In such circumstances, there is no coherent method of governing that can appeal to a uniform equality under the law—other than the structural “equality” that comes from the premise that it is the right of each identity group to negotiate its compliance with the host country’s pre-existing laws."

In cases such as these, it is clear that for many, the notion of multiculturalism has effectively caused a rejection of the notion of universal human rights that came out of the Enlightenment. No longer do these people see natural rights of liberty, given by God, ones that cannot be taken away from you. Instead, natural rights are defined by the culture in which you developed. Indeed, even natural development is sometimes impeded by individuals who want specific group members more strictly adhere to their stereotype (i.e., Condoleeza and Powell are really black people "acting white", rather than a more intellectual black culture).

The irony is that by doing away with inalienable and natural rights elsewhere, these people undermine their own positions and liberty. If Middle Eastern women can be oppressed, why are our own immune? If there is nothing fundamentally and universally wrong with oppression of any sort, due to what notion of natural justice were woman or African Americans owed equality? Woman's liberation and the end of segregation no longer become a matter of justice, but war spoils, to be overturned when the opposition is stronger. Nothing relating to justice or morality stops Western culture from digressing ["progressing," since we're avoiding moral judgments].

In short, there's no longer any bedrock of universal rights that guarantee our own freedom - if the morality of other countries is not accountable to universal liberty and justice as understood by the Rights of Man or the Declaration of Independence, neither is our own.

Thanks to Outside the Beltway, Basil's Blog, Mudville Gazette.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Is Classical Liberalism Doomed?

Jeff Goldstein links to an extremely pessimistic post at the NRO Corner by John Derbyshire.

Says Derbyshire:

"There aren't going to be any more Coolidges or Reagans. It's over. Fuggedaboutit.

Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher came to power not because people were fed up with socialism. People -- practically everybody, practically everywhere -- LIKE socialism. In Britain, people were fed up with the overweening power of labor unions, which were the vehicle for socialism in that age. The wheels of that particular vehicle were coming off, that was all. In the USA, the humiliations of Iran and Afghanistan, obvious mismanagement of the economy (though not a particularly too-much-socialism kind of mismanagement), and the unattractive personality of Jimmy Carter got the Presidency for Reagan. Not by much, though: in the 1980 election, Reagan only got a tad over 50 percent of the popular vote. (In 1984 it was 58.8 percent.) Thatcher I believe never made 50 percent.

All the windsocks are now pointing in the direction of more socialism. As the population ages, Americans will want more leisure, drugs, health care, nursing homes, security. As the Jihadist threat continues to metastasize (from the MidEast to Indonesia, Thailand, Africa, the Caucasus, Europe), we shall want the state to have more police powers, more scrutiny of us and our lives. The trend of the last 40 years away from the old Anglo-Saxon rights and liberties -- private property rights (google "tobacco settlement," "Kelo," etc.), freedom of speech, contract and assembly ("speech codes," anti-discrimination laws, etc.), limited government (is Washington DC shrinking? looking poorer and shabbier? not that I've noticed) -- will accelerate. And everybody will be fine with all this, because that's what everybody wants, except for a few freakish intellectuals like ourselves."

I hesitate to use the term "the Left," because it is really a lazy abstraction, ablbeit sometimes a necessary one. Furthermore, many people, especially centrist American Democrats, consider themselves part of "the Left," but are really not. To quote a commentator at Free Republic, Marron:

"Republicans are really not "conservatives" in the traditionalist sense. We are "conservative" only in the sense of adhering to the constitution, which is classic liberalism on parchment. We are God's troublemakers, we upset applecarts, overturn orthodoxies, regimes and dynasties, whole economic systems, just by breathing. Just by going about our daily affairs.

It astonishes me, but it is true, that while there are "conservative" parties in the world, there is no equivalent anywhere to the Republican Party, which is the blend of classic liberalism with moral principle. Most political parties outside the US, from right to left, would fit within our Democratic Party.

Rousseau won the argument in most of the world. Locke won his case only in America, and there only just barely. There aren't many of us, but there weren't many in Gideon's band either."

Even the American Democratic party has traditionally been isolated and distinct from the international left and socialist parties of Europe. Seperated by the Atlantic and archaic modes of travel, and drawing upon traditional American free market principles, American politics created almost an entirely different politically spectrum, much distinct from Europe's. This partially explains why the Communist Party and socialist movements in general never found large followings in the United States, while attacting large percentages of the electorates in France, Italy, Germany, and other European countries. Locke, not Rousseau, was the American deity, even on its "left".

However, this isolation changed somewhat in the past 50 years, as members of the "New Left" filtered through the Democratic party's leadership, the schools, and the intelligentsia. More pink than red, they eventually proclaimed themselves anti-anti-communists during the 1960s, and their views and agendas reflected it. They deeply distrusted American patriotism, the military, supported the advance of the nanny-state, peeling back American power and self-righteousness, and promoted multiculturalism, which in practice meant the subservence of American culture to that of its immigrants and unassimilated minorities. The American New Left made common cause with similar minded and also rebellious movements in Europe, movements which cultiminated in the almost continent-wide social disorders of 1968. These people continued to rise through the aforementioned institutions, and their views did evolve, but most did not break free from many of their original prejudices and beliefs.

By 9-11, the Democratic Party's transition to a party oriented alongside its socialist and post-modern compatriots in Europe and Canada was well underway, but not completed.

Where did they run into problems?

In the first place, as Marron stated, Europe's free-market and individualist tradition was already much weaker than America's from the start. When Friedrich von Hayek wrote his essay entitled "Why I Am Not a Conservative", he was disparaging European conservatism, which has often opposed capitalism as a threat to social stability and traditional values. In the second place, the Republican Party did not undergo the same moderation and ostracism that the true classical liberal parties in Europe and Canada underwent. These moderated themselves to deal with the social and economic entitlements promised by their opposition on the continent, a continent whose political thought was badly distorted by the strength of Communist and socialist influence, some of which was paid for with Soviet money and some of which was completely indigenous, drawing upon Europe's already deep socialist tradition.

The result of these conditions was that the classical liberal parties on the continent, the real counterparts of the Republican Party and the Old Democratic Party and believers in individual rights and free markets, found themselves on the defensive, and giving increasing ground to their opposition as they fought on the International Left's turf. Canada is perhaps the best example, and by the 1990s had effectively become a one party state, with a cowed, watered-down, and self apologetic Conservative Party.

The Republicans, drawing upon an American populace much more fiercely independent and self-reliant, was given the opportunity to go this route, but ultimately went the other way. In 1968, they were presented a choice between the East Coast liberal Republican Rockefeller wing of the Party and the more conservative (though hardly reactionary), and staunchly anti-Communist Richard Nixon. After Carter's disasterous Democratic presidential term, the stage was set for the even more conservative Reagan revolution. Britain too, underwent a similar revolution with Thatcher, but it was neither as complete, nor could British Conservatives as easily seperate themselves from mainland Europe's political thought.

Like Derbyshire, I can see the trends. Fundamentally, it is difficult to compete politically with bribery. For the average person, principles and abstract theory do not compete easily with outright financial bribery. De Tocqueville realized this early, saying that "the American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money."

It's become standard to describe the core of Democratic problems to be its lack of message. Weeks ago, however, a Vodkapundit commentator described the problem much more accurately:

"I don't know where this meme that the Democrats have no ideas came from, but it's clearly false. It's easy to list off a bunch of positions the Democrats support that aren't just "hate Bush".

They're pro-choice on abortion.

They support race preferences.

They support transnationalism in foreign policy.

They want justices who are policy-driven.

They want to raise taxes.

They want to increase government control over health care.

They want to increase funding for education without imposing performance standards.

They want more stringent environmental policies.

They want weaker protections for property rights.

They want to prevent ANWAR drilling.

That's just off the top of my head. With a bit of research I'm sure I could double or triple that list.

The problem the Democrats have isn't a lack of ideas. Their problem is that the majority of their ideas are not popular with the electorate, and the Democrats have figured that out. That's why they typically don't state their views clearly and run on them proudly. Unfortunately, they aren't willing to abandon their unpopular ideas, and that leaves them without a positive program that they are willing to articulate. The result is that their public face becomes strongly negative -- "hate Bush".

Think of it another way. If the Democrats truly stood for "nothing", then we would have no idea what they would do if they came into power. But we *do* have a pretty good idea of what they would do if they had the power, and that's what they stand for."

This is why Dean's big mouth and Daily Kos can be such an embarassment - when candid they are a clear view into some of the core, but unpopular principles of the Democratic Party.

Another Democratic problem is that the transition to post-modernism got hit smack dab in the middle by blogs, the wider Internet, and 9-11. The first two badly handicapped at least one of the transition's one-two punch, as the New Left media no longer has the ability to set the agenda, as Canadian and European state-controlled media did 10-20 years ago. The last badly damaged the transition to transnationalism, resulting in anguished howls of "unilateralism", and "global tests", the "International Community", "illegal war", and various other sleights of hand meant to restrict American freedom of action.

It remains to be seen whether these factors will turn back the Democratic Party's descent into post-modernism. This fight isn't over yet, because the their own base is still divided, with much of the leadership having undergone the transition but not much of the rank and file. Even more dangerously, their opposition is not yet completely cowed, although it too has given ground to New Left dominance of the traditional media, academica, and intelligentsia.

Thanks to the Mudville Gazette, Stop the ACLU, Basil's Blog, and Outside the Beltway.
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