Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Liberal is speaking up for the President on the Dubai Ports World deal. Richard Cohen of the Washington Post says Bush is right to speak out against the bigotry that is fueling at least part of the resistance to the deal. Of course, not all the resistance is based on bigotry. Some of it is about the secret review process of CFIUS, the committee that approved the deal initially. Frank Gaffney seeks to reform the process, and has some very real concerns not, I think, based on bigotry, but, rather, based on the very real concerns about security when dealing with a country where the 9/11 attacks were planned and financed. I hope, after the 45 day review, there will be a real push to better secure our ports in general. Personally, I would also prefer that port operations in the U.S. be held by American companies as a security matter (meaning no Chinese or Brits, as well as Arabs).

I found this article through Instapundit. Douglas Murray was invited to speak at a conference in Holland about Islamist violence. His experience there is a chilling example of how the Islamists are winning the war.

Holland — with its disproportionately high Muslim population — is the canary in the mine. Its once open society is closing, and Europe is closing slowly behind it. It looks, from Holland, like the twilight of liberalism — not the “liberalism” that is actually libertarianism, but the liberalism that is freedom. Not least freedom of expression.

All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped. Italy’s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, soon comes up for trial in her home country, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

Those of us who write and talk on Islam thus get caught between those on our own side who are increasingly keen to prosecute and increasing numbers of militants threatening murder. In this situation, not only is free speech being shut down, but our nation’s security is being compromised.

Since the assassinations of Fortuyn and, in 2004, the film maker Theo van Gogh, numerous public figures in Holland have received death threats and routine intimidation. The heroic Somali-born Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her equally outspoken colleague Geert Wilders live under constant police protection, often forced to sleep on army bases. Even university professors are under protection.

Europe is shuffling into darkness. It is proving incapable of standing up to its enemies, and in an effort to accommodate the peripheral rights of a minority is failing to protect the most basic rights of its own people.

The cult of multiculturalism, which teaches that all belief systems are equal, creates the perfect atmosphere for a vibrant, aggressive belief system to hack its way through the masses of a people no longer willing to defend their own culture. Much in the same way that the Nazis were able to hack their way through the weakened social structure of Germany in the 1920s and 30s. The major institutions of Germany at that time were either weakened or discredited by the horrors of the First World War and, in the end, could not stand up to a man and his followers who were willing to commit any outrage in order to win. Today, the major institutions of Europe are similarly weakened and discredited, not by defeat in war, but by the adoption of the mutlicultural mindset, which robs them of the ability to defend themselves. After all, if their belief system is really no better than anyone else's, why should any energy, much less life and limb, be expended to defend it?

Monday, February 27, 2006

LTC John M. Kaneley, serving in Baghdad, refutes William F. Buckley's contention that Iraq is lost. He says Mr. Buckley is relying upon the New York Times to report the story accurately, which he believes is a mistake. Unfortunately for LTC Kaneley, this war can be lost only if the American people decide that it is lost. It seems too many Americans still rely on the NYT and the rest of the MSM for their news. If I am right, and the Democrats win a smashing victory in November, then the withdrawal will begin in earnest. As in Vietnam, a generation of American soldiers (including female combat pilots) will have been called to give their last full measure of devotion, to no avail. I hope I am wrong.

David Warren continues to make the case that we are living in the 1930s again, choosing to place our heads into the sand or rely on appeasers to ward off the nightmare of global war. Just as it didn't work then, he doesn't think it will work now. Glenn Reynolds thinks a tipping point in Western attitudes toward the Muslim world may be near.

Barry Posen says we can live with a nuclear Iran. Of course, the question is not whether WE can live with a nuclear Iran, it is whether the ISRAELIS can live with a nuclear Iran. I say the answer is NO.

The Iraqi Sunni politicians have rejoined the talks to form a government. I think everyone in Iraq has climbed to the edge of the abyss in recent days and seen the horrors below and is now desperate to climb back to the center.

James Carroll has an excellent analysis of why holy wars are the most savage of all conflicts, and why it is such a perversion of monotheistic beliefs.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

William F. Buckley says we have failed in Iraq. While it is not quite a Walter Cronkite moment, his pronouncement may be a harbinger of things to come. Americans lost the will to fight on in Vietnam after the Tet offensive proved that there wasn't any light at the end of the tunnel (even though the battle was a tactical defeat for the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese masters). The spasm of violence following the mosque bombing in Samara may just be the tipping point that accelerates public dissatisfaction with the war. Americans who previously had stuck with their support of the President and his policy may now conclude that the Iraqis cannot govern themselves like we govern ourselves. They may conclude that, as Thomas Friedman of the NYT observed early in the war, Saddam Hussein was the way he was because Iraq is the way it is. The first indicator of the American people's resolve to be done with Iraq is if they vote the GOP out of control of Congress in November (assuming the Democrats can coalesce around some sort of withdrawal plan). Much can still happen between now and then, of course. But events on the ground in Iraq have tried the limited patience of the American people, and if the Iraq version of Tet hasn't happened yet, it might be just around the corner.

Mark Steyn writes a compelling column about the distressing ability of mainstream Europeans to turn a blind eye to Muslim gangs who kill Jews. Wasn't it Martin Niemoeller (a German Christian leader who eventually was put in a concentration camp by the Nazis) who said,

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a communist; Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist; Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist; Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew; Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

It seems the Islamofascists are just working at it in a different order (since Communists, Socialists and trade unionists aren't much of a factor in the Islamic world).

Saturday, February 25, 2006

It looks like al Qaeda is getting smarter. This attack on a Saudi oil operation may represent a change in tactics. Previously, it had been thought that they were reluctant to attack any of the Saudi oil infrastructure because they wish at some future time to run the country and, therefore, wouldn't want to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. They may now have realized that there is no way they can achieve dominance in Saudi Arabia until the U.S. is defeated. They may also have realized that the way to defeat the U.S. is not to defeat their armed forces in direct combat (which they have learned over the years is not possible for them), and attacks on the U.S. homeland won't get it done (it just makes the Americans more belligerent), but driving the price of oil to record heights just might do it. If they can wreck the American economy then, perhaps, the American people will grow weary of the expense involved in this war and decide to elect people who will withdraw the troops from the Middle East and end support for friendly governments in the region. Crippling the Saudi oil industry would also wreck the Saudi economy, and might make the country ripe for revolution. Expect more attacks.

Just as I don't expect real sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, I don't expect real cooperation in isolating Hamas. This story indicates I'm probably right about that. This column by Amir Taheri is a good analysis of why neither negotiations or limited military strikes will likely prove effective in stopping the Iranian nuclear program.

An Iranian official is threatening an attack on Israeli nuclear facilities if the U.S. uses military action against Iran.

Bill Kristol wonders if the West (especially the Bush administration) has the cajones to continue the fight with the Islamofascists to the end.

Friday, February 24, 2006


The fallout from the destruction of the Shiite mosque in Samarra continues in Iraq. There has been more violence, and a curfew. Will this devolve into a civil war? The most important thing to look for is whether or not the key people in the new Iraqi government and the major political parties can continue to work together. If they can, then it is likely that the growing Iraqi military and police forces will continue to do their jobs (although there will always be some defections to the insurgency, as well as criminal behavior). If the major Shiite political and religious leaders declare that they cannot work with the Sunnis, and order their militias into action against them, then the Iraqi military and police personnel will be forced to take sides, which will result in an actual civil war (with the Kurds retreating to their corner of Iraq). So far, this has not happened. I don't think it will happen, because the major Shiite political leaders all know that they already have the majority in the Iraqi parliament, and the majority of personnel in the police and security forces. The major Sunni leaders know this as well, so it is in their interest to continue peaceful talks with the Shiites and the Kurds. The passions aroused by the destruction of the mosque will cool, but expect al Qaeda to perpetrate even more outrages as they seek desperately to prevent the emergence of a peaceful, stable, democratic Iraq.

Victor Davis Hanson has just returned from Iraq, and is counseling patience.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Today is my last day doing the Dan Yorke Show on WPRO-AM in Providence, RI. It has been a blast. Thanks to Dan (who is vacationing in Florida), Paul, E.J., Joe and Tim. I hope to be able to do some more fill-ins for them in the future.

Yesterday, a jury in Providence declared three paint companies liable for creating a public nuisance by selling lead paint (which was banned in 1978). Other states are looking on with interest, and new lawsuits seem a certainty, unless the paint companies win on appeal. Should these companies be held financially responsible for lead paint poisoning?

The Governor of Rhode Island is embroiled in a controversy over his proposal to eliminate the children of undocumented immigrants from the state's RIte Care program (their version of state Medicaid for poor folks). It is one of the many controversies that result from the enormous problem of illegal immigration facing this country. Senator John McCain, who many believe will run for President in '08, has introduced legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Ted Kennedy, that would 'legalize' the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country through a guest-worker program. While this will surely provoke outrage from the right-wing of the GOP (and many ordinary Americans), his argument will be similar to the one put forward by President Bush when he introduced a similar plan. McCain will argue that the process of seeking out, arresting and deporting 11 million people is simply impractical. Therefore, it is better to get them to voluntarily come forward and be 'legalized'. Having talked with McCain face-to-face many times during the 2000 campaign, if anyone can convince the American people that this is the right thing to do, he can.

A significant Shiite mosque was blown up yesterday, and it appears as if someone (al Qaeda, probably, but there are other potential suspects) is trying very hard to stoke the fires of civil war in Iraq. James Robbins thinks it won't work. This op-ed from the NYT takes a different view.

The controversy over the Dubai Ports World acquisition of the British-owned P. and O. Shipping Company continues. Is the UAE a friend or foe? Dan Darling looks at the pros and cons.

The legislature in South Dakota passed a bill banning abortions in that state. If the governor signs it, let the lawsuits begin.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I can be heard again today on WPRO-AM in Providence, RI as I fill in for Dan Yorke from 3-7 PM. Here are some of the things I have on my plate for the show...

The President is standing by the decision to allow Dubai Ports World to buy the British-owned Peninsular and Oriental Shipping Company, which has the contract to run operations at the ports of New York, Newark, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Miami, among others. RealClearPolitics has a round-up of opinion on their website. Frank Gaffney has another article on the subject today on the National Review website. NRO also has a roundtable of opinions from security experts about the issue. The New York Times has come out against the plan (no surprise). I am very skeptical about all of this. It is clearly a political blunder. On the merits of the case itself, I am inclined to side with those who do not trust the government of the UAE (or Saudi Arabia, for that matter) no matter what they say or do in the way of cooperation with us against Islamofascist terrorists. That may be unfair, but it is just the way I feel about the matter.

Alan Dershowitz is slamming what he calls a coup d'etat against Harvard President Larry Summers. Tony Blankley is, meanwhile, praising Dershowitz for his new book about creating a legal infrastructure for the pre-emptive actions needed to fight our Islamofascist enemies and their ilk.

The Supremes will hear a lawsuit which was filed against a partial-birth abortion ban passed by Congress. Pro-Life forces believe the new court, with the addition of Roberts and Alito, may uphold the law. Some Pro-Lifers in South Dakota think it is time to pass a law that bans abortion outright. They know it will be challenged in court, and they hope that when it reaches the Supreme Court it will allow the new majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. Democrats should pray every night that this happens because, if it does, they will have a powerful tool to use against the GOP in state, local and national elections. Millions of women (and some men) would rally to Democrats in order to prevent their state legislatures from enacting abortion bans. Dozens of Democratic lawmakers would be elected. My guess is that Congress would change hands and a Democrat would be elected President. As a life-long Republican, this would be a bad outcome for me politically, but it would be the right thing as a matter of principle. I believe the court ruled incorrectly in Roe v. Wade, and it should be overturned. I also believe it should be up to the people, through their elected representatives, whether or not abortion should be legal.

The Iraqi Prime Minister is rejecting calls for a national unity government. Also, a famous Shiite shrine was blown up by insurgents dressed as police commandos in Samarra. Is Iraq headed inevitably to civil war?

Is Al Gore in '08 going to be like Nixon in '68? Dick Morris thinks it is possible.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Again today I will be doing the afternoon show on WPRO-AM in Providence, RI. Among the issues I am thinking about are...

There is growing political momentum opposed to the turning over of operations at six major U.S. ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. The Governor of Maryland is speaking out against the plan. Frank Gaffney says it may be another "Harriet Miers moment" for the Bush administration. I just think it is a dumb idea, for a lot of reasons.

The Supreme Court's Kelo decision is creating quite a backlash. This story from the New York Times chronicles how numerous state legislatures are seeking to curb the government power of eminent domain, which was expanded by the court's ruling. What is the proper use of eminent domain, and can it ever be right for a homeowner to see his home demolished to make way for a shopping mall or sports stadium?

Every now and again someone writes and op-ed piece in favor of a national ID card. Here is another one. I doubt it will change anyone's mind.

The Johnston, RI casino story has reached the regional level. Here is a piece in the Boston Globe about the effort of Donald Trump to put a casino in a town that, until now, was best known for being the home of the state's largest landfill.

The Bush administration is looking at so-called "smart sanctions" against Iran if it fails to cooperate with the IAEA and, instead, continues to push for nuclear weapons. I just don't see sanctions, especially limited sanctions, having any effect on Iran's leaders. Dan Darling writes about Iran's practice of cooperating with Al Qaeda, which is what should really concern us when contemplating a nuclear Iran.

The US ambassador to Iraq is warning the parties there to cooperate and create a national unity government, or else. I think the President and his people are losing their patience with the Iraqis and are looking for a way out.

Monday, February 20, 2006


I will once again be filling-in for Dan Yorke on WPRO-AM in Providence, RI this week. I will be on Monday through Thursday from 3-7 PM. The station can be heard on 630 AM in Rhode Island and Parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Expanded gambling is a current issue in RI, with two casino proposals on the table. They already have slot machines at their racetracks, an idea that is being pushed for Mass. racetracks, according to this article from the Boston Globe. Is expanding gambling opportunities a good idea? Is it worth the inevitable social damage that is caused by gambling addiction?

The Democrats are trying to formulate a unified position on Iraq. A troop redeployment plan is being discussed. If they want to take back the House and Senate this year, they absolutely MUST have a position on Iraq. Can they formulate such a position while avoiding the "cut and run" label? If they can, they can win.

What are the Ayatollahs in Iran thinking? Michael Ledeen thinks he knows, and it isn't pretty.

Should an Arab government-owned shipping company run some major American ports? Some in Congress don't think so.

On the day after the third anniversary of The Station fire in Providence, the legal process continues to move forward. Will justice be done? We will probably talk about that issue as well this afternoon.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Islamist thugs attempted to storm the U.S. embassy in Indonesia, allegedly over their unhappiness with the Danish cartoons lampooning the prophet. Of course, it is really all about the efforts by Islamists to de-stabilize their own governments, causing them to fall and be replaced by the radicals, who can then go about the business of wiping out the Jews, Christians, Hindus and everybody else who doesn't agree with them or isn't willing to submit to their theology.

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe understands that a part of that effort is to intimidate Western media outlets into obeying their theological taboos.

Flemming Rose, the editor at the Danish newspaper who solicited and published the cartoons, explains why he did so and why the effort should be defended.

One of the Danish cartoonists who has gone into hiding was interviewed by The Guardian in a story about the Nigerian riots that have broken out over the issue.

One of Iran's most hard-line Mullahs, who is also close to that country's President, has issued a religious fatwa saying the use of nuclear weapons is OK, and endorsing the drive to obtain such weapons. An Iranian group also held a recruiting seminar at a university to sign up potential suicide bombers to attack American and British interests across the border in Iraq if the West uses military action to prevent their acquisition of nuclear weapons. It doesn't seem to get any better, does it?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Iranian Foreign Minister is demanding that Great Britain withdraw her troops from the Iraqi city of Basra. Prime Minister Tony Blair has rejected that demand, calling it a diversion from the real issues surrounding Iranian behavior.

In Iraq, the New York Times is reporting on the changing social structure in that country as people retreat to the sanctuary of their sect and tribe. While this is understandable, it does not bode well for the creation of a stable, unified Iraqi state.

Hillary Clinton is sponsoring a bill that would prevent foreign ownership of companies that run our ports. This is in response to the decision by the administration to allow the sale of a British owned company that currently runs several major American ports to a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates. This could be a political winner for the Democrats.

There were more violent protests against the Danish cartoons yesterday, this time in Libya, directed against the Italian consulate. Why attack the Italian consulate? Because they were once the colonial masters of Libya and, as such, they represent to radical Muslims there the humiliation of defeat and occupation which has been the historical reality of the Islamic world since the fall of their Caliphate.

President Bush is calling for NATO help in peacekeeping efforts in Sudan.

Christopher Caldwell has the cover article in the Weekly Standard about Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Interior Minister who is a leading candidate to be the next President of the French Republic.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I will once again be doing the Dan Yorke Show on WPRO-AM in Providence, RI from 3-7 PM. Here are some of the things I am considering for the show today.

The UN is demanding that the U.S. government close down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which has led to a negative response from U.S. officials. Deroy Murdock says closing the facility would be a bad idea, and he lists some of the folks who have been released and gone on to commit more terrorist mayhem.

Victor Davis Hanson explains why allowing Iran to get nukes would be a bad idea.

This report says the glaciers on Greenland are melting faster than was preciously thought. A NASA scientist is saying the same thing, and warning about the consequences. As I sit enjoying yet another 50 degree day in February in New Hampshire, I wonder if maybe this global warming thing is real after all. If it is, I wonder what we can do, if anything, about it.

I may also want to continue the Dick Cheney discussion, and the latest developments in the Middle East.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I will be filling in for Dan Yorke on NewsRadio 630 WPRO in Providence, RI today, tomorrow and next week. The show is on from 3-7 PM and can be heard throughout Rhode Island and in parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Here are some of the issues I may talk about this afternoon.

Vice-President Cheney has broken his silence on the hunting accident that hospitalized a Texas attorney. Is the MSM making too big a deal of this? Surprisingly, Peggy Noonan is speculating about some in the administration who might want to see Cheney go.

The Washington Post has an extensive timeline of the cartoon controversy. Christopher Hitchens is disdainful of the U.S. government's position on the issue. This article, from the Washington Times, points out that Islam may not be compatible with democracy as we know it. Meanwhile, Islamic countries are throwing a monkey wrench into the proposed reforms for the U.N. Human Rights Commission by calling for a ban on material that is offensive to religion.

Mark Steyn has some more comments about demography as destiny, a theme he has been writing about for many months now.

Other issues I am considering include the troubles with the prescription drug program, the proposed shrinking of our National Guard and Reserves, and the overcoverage of the Entwistle murder case in Massachusetts. I may also talk about casino gambling in Rhode Island (and, generally speaking, across the country).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

As you might have guessed, U.S. and Israeli officials are denying reports that they are talking about ways to destabilize the new Hamas government of the Palestinian Territories. I don't believe them, do you?

While violent protests against those Danish cartoons are dying down across most of the Middle East, they are flaring up in Pakistan. Pakistani officials say the protests are being organized and led by radical groups seeking to overthrow President Musharaff. I believe they are right about that.

Officials in Afghanistan are accusing the Pakistanis of harboring Taliban terrorists who are recruiting people to act as suicide bombers in Afghanistan. I certainly believe there are people in Pakistan who are helping the Taliban. The question is just how much help are they getting from officials in Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies, if any.

This is no surprise, but it is still disheartening. NATO nations have been cutting the size of their militaries since 9/11. I guess they don't think there is a war on.

Al Gore is at it again (making nutty speeches, that is). Kathleen Parker has some thoughts about his most recent tirade, especially the location.

John Stossel says teachers unions are killing our public schools. Certainly, the situation he describes in NYC is outrageous. I hope it isn't that bad everywhere else around the country.

Tony Blankley thinks the Washington press corps is showing their arrogance in their reaction to the Cheney hunting accident story. That was my first reaction as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Iranians are resuming Uranium enrichment and some are warning against a repetition of Operation Desert Fox, the 1998 air campaign against Saddam Hussein's WMD facilities.

Richard Cohen of the Washington Post is unhappy with Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to Hamas leaders for talks in Moscow. According to Cohen, Hamas is not only a terrorist organization, but also one of the most virulently anti-Semitic groups in the world.

Palestinian President Abbas was given strengthened powers by the outgoing, Fatah-dominated Palestinian Parliament in a last, lame duck session. Hamas, slated to have a majority in the new parliament which will be seated this Saturday, is vowing to overturn the new law, although they may not have the necessary two-thirds to get that done. Meanwhile, American and Israeli officials are apparently talking about ways to make sure the new Hamas government fails, so that Abbas can quickly call new elections. I very much doubt that this will all go down in a peaceful, democratic way.

The New York Times lead editorial says that the Iraqi Shiite parties have chosen the wrong man to lead the new Iraqi government.

I will no longer watch any movie with Billy Zane or Gary Busey in it, after reading this story.

Europhile Anne Applebaum replies to a Cato piece on the decline of Europe.

Victor Davis Hanson wonders if the Europeans will stiffen in their resistance to Islamic extremism, while Andrew Stuttaford sees evidence of appeasement as the rest of Europe leaves the Danes hanging.

In Haiti, violence has erupted over the changing results of their presidential election while the votes are being counted.

If you, like me, are fond of video games, then this story will interest you. It seems American soldiers are honing their combat skills through the use of "shooter" video games.

Frederick W. Kagan has this interesting analysis of the newly released Quadrennial Defense Review by the Pentagon. As you might expect, he is critical of the report and the insistence of the Pentagon brass that we should continue to rely on high-tech solutions and airpower to the detriment of the much needed expansion of the Army and Marine Corps.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Some Iranian officials are saying that they intend to follow the Non-Proliferation Treaty, even while their President says otherwise. William R. Hawkins, writing in the Washington Times, says we are walking into a trap set by the Russians and Chinese by following the diplomatic route from the IAEA to the U.N. Security Council. I have voiced skepticism on the pages of this blog about how this process will play itself out, so I won't rule out his theory. Time will tell. If, on the eve of the Security Council debate on the issue, the Iranians suddenly agree to a Russian enrichment proposal, then the possibility of collusion cannot be ruled out. Certainly, if the Iranians do agree to the Russian proposal (which would allow the Iranians to enrich Uranium on Russian soil, then transport the product back to Iran) at a minimum the Russians and Chinese would refuse to approve sanctions against Iran. The Europeans would probably also jump off the sanctions bandwagon. Would George W. Bush recognize this as a face-saving why out of the crisis? Probably. Will the Israelis refrain from taking action, once their intelligence services come to the conclusion that the Iranians will have a weapon within short order? Probably not. I think the crisis will come upon us no matter what happens during these negotiations, and whether or not the Russians, Chinese, Iranians or anybody else is negotiating in good faith. I think the Mullahs that rule Iran, and their radical President and his followers, all share the goal of attaining a nuclear weapons capability. If they continue on that path an Israeli military response is, I think, inevitable.

James Carroll, writing in the Boston Globe, thinks we in the West are misunderstanding the Muslims. He believes the answer is to end the war on terror. In his previous writings he has consistently said that the military response to 9/11 was the wrong one. He believes it should have been treated as a criminal justice problem.

The Iraqi Shiite parties have agreed on their choice for Prime Minister. He is the same guy who has held the post in the interim government.

Professor Niall Ferguson of Harvard, writing in the Telegraph (UK), says while the administration is focusing on events in the Middle East, they are dropping the ball when it comes to safeguarding American interests in Latin America.

"Who lost Latin America?" is the question the next Democratic contender for the presidency may legitimately be able to ask. For since the election of Hugo Chávez as President of Venezuela in December 1998, there has been an inexorable erosion of US influence south of the Rio Grande. The most recent manifestations are the election victories last month of the coca-chewing populist Evo Morales in Bolivia and the socialist Michelle Bachelet in Chile. Some opinion polls suggest victories for the militant Ollanta Humala in Peru this April and the staunchly anti-gringo Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico in July. And it's anyone's guess what will happen in Brazil and Ecuador.

Since most of those winning elections in Latin America are leftists, I doubt that a Democratic presidential nominee will consider those election results as a bad thing.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

As the U.S. prepares a military strike against Iran, the Iranians are warning that they will withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if they are sanctioned by the United Nations. If a military strike were to happen, some experts believe the Iranians would retaliate. That retaliation could cause all sorts of political, economic and military problems for the U.S., Israel and our European allies. The Belmont Club has this analysis of the problem, with an emphasis on the question of why the Iranians have very little incentive to negotiate in good faith. And, just to keep it all in context, President Ahmadinejad is calling for Israel to be "removed" once again. We are facing a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation regarding Iran's nuclear program. Still, despite the rhetoric, I can see how the U.S., the Russians, the Chinese and the Europeans can live with a nuclear-armed Iran, which gives the Iranian hardliners a clear advantage in the negotiations. However, as long as President Ahmadinejad and his ilk are in power in Teheran, I can't see the Israelis living with it. Certainly, an Israeli military strike would have very similar consequences for the world as the American one described via the link listed above.

Meanwhile, check out the New York Times for these articles on the issue of the Danish cartoons that have inflamed some in the Muslim world. Find out what is beneath the rage in the Middle East, the Islam the riots drowned out, and I especially recommend this piece, which examines the liberal theology of most newsrooms (in Europe and elsewhere) and how that has run into the passion of people of faith. It examines the controversy in a way I had not considered before.

In Chicago, Mark Steyn has one view of the controversy, while a crosstown columnist rival has a very different one (via RealClearPolitics).

On an unrelated issue, check out this piece on why the new Medicare Part D program (the prescription drug entitlement) is a disaster.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

According to this article from the Washington Times the Iranian-backed Shiite party in Iraq will likely get the office of Prime Minister, and Shiites will get all the major ministries. I'm not sure this will do anything to dampen the insurgency. In fact, if this article from the Washington Post is to be believed, the prospects for all-out civil war are getting better all the time.

Here is a roundup from the BBC on the latest fallout from the cartoon controversy.

Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard says the cartoon controversy is something created by the radicals and the Middle Eastern governments that support them.

Olivier Guitta, also writing in the Standard, says the cartoon controversy is actually just one tactic being used by the Muslim Brotherhood (a radical Islamist organization) as part of their overall strategy to conquer the West.

Arnaud de Borchgrave likens the cartoon controversy to a new intifada and, as he has in his previous writings, seems to be warning his readers that a true 'war of civilizations' is just on the horizon.

Finally, LTC Ralph Peters, USA(Ret.), has a lengthy piece on the RealClearPolitics site about the power of religious faith in human history and its relation to our current geopolitical situation.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of links to articles concerning the cartoon controversy. She believes the Islamists are winning the fight.

The Danes, according to the New York Times, are pointing out the political opportunism that is driving the cartoon controversy. Clearly, the violence in Damascus and Beirut was driven by the Syrians, and the violence in Teheran would not have happened without the government deliberately turning the other way, if not outright encouraging it.

An American Muslim spells out in the National Review what this is all about. Victor Davis Hanson has more thoughts about it, as well.

The Boston Globe reports that the controversy has exposed a rift in Europe.

In an unrelated matter, check out this op-ed piece in the NYT written by CIA Director Porter Goss. He states what I thought was obvious, that people who leak classified information to the press are damaging American national security (and I don't just mean Scooter Libby's alleged outing of Valerie Plame).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The New York Times has this timeline of the cartoon controversy. It differs in some respects to previous timelines I have read, but the main point remains the same. This controversy was taken to another level when Muslims from Denmark brought the issue to the leaders of governments and other groups in the Muslim world. The editors of the National Review believe the controversy is being used by radicals to advance their agenda, and this piece in the Washington Times reveals that there is a conspiracy theory regarding the chaos in Lebanon. Yes, you guessed it, they think the Syrians are behind it. Ed Morrissey wonders about the views of moderate Muslims and whether they are being intimidated by the radicals into silence over the issue.

President Bush was in New Hampshire yesterday. John Distaso of the Union Leader writes this report about the visit and the speech to a group of local business leaders. I'll post some further comments about the speech over at NH Insider later today.

The NYT reports that U.S. military personnel are forcing hunger strikers at Guantanamo to eat. I guess they don't want any of these guys to die on them. I just wish they would get around to the business of trying them in front of those promised military tribunals and either convict them or set them free. It is important that we continue to represent ourselves as bound by the rule of law, unlike our enemies.

George Will writes about the problems in Michigan. Rising unemployment, caused by the troubles besetting the auto industry, is making the race for governor very interesting.

Finally, the Dutch Ambassador to the U.S. has this piece in the Washington Times explaining how his country, as a member of NATO, is participating in efforts to secure Southern Afghanistan. I hope the recent problems in the Netherlands with Muslim extremists has made them realize that the efforts to help Muslims find democracy in their own lands is the best weapon we have to defeat the extremists.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Protests, ostensibly aimed at those offensive cartoons, continue across the Muslim world. Jonah Goldberg has the answer as to what this is really all about, and it ain't about a bunch of cartoons. Froma Harrop slams the response from the Anglosphere as cowardly. Daniel Pipes says it is about Islamic Imperialism, and he is right. Pipes says that

The key issue at stake in the battle over the twelve Danish cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad is this: Will the West stand up for its customs and mores, including freedom of speech, or will Muslims impose their way of life on the West? Ultimately, there is no compromise: Westerners will either retain their civilization, including the right to insult and blaspheme, or not.

Bingo. Some conflicts are not subject to compromise. Some are based on such fundamental disagreements that they can only be resolved through the submission of one side to the other. This, it seems to me, is one of those conflicts.

Finally, two totally unrelated matters. First, please read Jeff Jacoby's Boston Globe column about the fallacy of so-called "Life in Prison". Second, please read Robert Samuelson's Washington Post column about the unwillingness of our political leaders in both parties to play it straight with us regarding Federal spending, entitlement programs, tax cuts, and deficits.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The violence that is consuming some inside the Muslim world about those insulting cartoons has now claimed some lives. It again highlights the vast difference between our Western values and those of the radical Muslims. In our culture an insult, even if it is an egregious one that attacks a cherished value like religious belief, is not cause for violence. This, of course, was not always the case and, in some sub-cultures of our society, is not the case even today. President Andrew Jackson fought a number of duels over alleged insults directed at his wife. Famously, an American Vice-President once killed a Secretary of the Treasury in a duel (Burr killing Hamilton) sparked by a perceived insult. The radical Muslim world has not yet been transformed, as we have in the West, to disregard concepts like faith and honor. They are still willing to die (and kill) for their passionate beliefs. Lee Harris thinks that here in the West we have lost any passionate belief in our values, which means we will be unable to defend them when they are assailed by the radical Muslims.

This cultural difference is OK, if the cultures are separated by national boundaries, but it can be downright suicidal if it exists within those boundaries, according to this Newsday column.

Denmark is warning its citizens not to travel to a laundry list of Muslim nations.

Lebanese officials are saying that the Syrians are responsible for the rioting that led to the sacking of the Danish Consulate in Beirut. The Weekly Standard has a piece that goes into more detail on why the Syrians would be interested in fanning these flames.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are moving forward to limit the IAEA's access to their nuclear sites. This Washington Post column argues that we should be optimistic about a diplomatic solution to the impasse, because the Russians and Chinese will remain solidly with the U.S. and the Europeans, sanctions will hurt Iran more than the West, and the Iranian leadership is rational. I hope they are right, but I fear they may be wrong. The Israelis may not have the patience to wait this out, considering the existential stakes, and may take things into their own hands.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The people of Denmark, and the other Scandinavian countries, are now in fear of more attacks from Islamists as the fallout from those cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed continues to spread. In the Middle East, attempts by some moderate Muslims to put this all in context, are being met with resistance. A pair of Jordanian newspaper editors who tried to inject some reason into all of this were fired for their efforts. It seems that reason has no place in the Islamic world.

Victor Davis Hanson, writing for RealClear Politics, thinks that this latest controversy is helping to awaken Europeans to the threat facing the West. He is optimistic about the growing resolve on the Continent to deal with these matters more realistically. Andrew Stuttaford, writing for the National Review, is less optimistic. Theodore Dalrymple writes and essay for a Cato Institute symposium about the future of Europe from an economic standpoint.

Also on NRO, George Neumayr and James S. Robbins weigh in with their thoughts. It is Lorenzo Vidino, though, who has the best piece on the issue. He traces the activities of the Imam in Denmark who started it all.

At the time of the initial publication, international media had reported news of the blasphemous caricatures, not only in Danish, but also in English. Yet nothing happened, aside from timid protests from the Muslim community of the tiny Scandinavian kingdom. So what is different about the situation now? More than the question, it is the answer that is keeping a good chunk of Denmark's political and cultural elite awake at night. The recent anti-Danish emotional wave coming from the Muslim world, in fact, is far from a spontaneous reaction, but it has been cunningly orchestrated by a knowledgeable insider, a real snake in the grass who has been creeping in Denmark for the last 15 years.

Read the whole thing to find out more about this guy.

Will Iran get the bomb? This piece in the NYT indicates at least some people inside our own government think it is inevitable. If they do get the bomb, will a crazy man have his hand on the button? Newsweek gives some more information about the life of President Ahmadinejad. Arnaud De Borchgrave writes about Ahmadinejad's religious beliefs. De Borchgrave's piece is the more chilling of the two.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Instapundit has links to a number of articles and opinion pieces concerning the continued rage by Islamists against the Danes over those cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed. At least one more embassy has been burned (the Danish consulate in Beirut).

David Warren, writing for, has some thoughts on this clash of civilizations.

Rossputin thinks this is a beneficial wake-up call for the Europeans.

On the matter of Iran and the nuclear threat, an Iraqi politician thinks Iran should be stopped in Iraq.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported Iran to the United Nations Security Council at their meeting in Vienna today. All five of the Permanent Members of the Security Council (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China) voted in favor of the resolution. As they had previously agreed, the Security Council will take no action until the IAEA issues its full report in March. The Iranians are already reacting by declaring that they will resume full-scale Uranium enrichment, deny inspectors the ability to do spot inspections, and end diplomatic negotiations. There has also been a statement that the calls into question any deal with the Russians to do the enrichment in Russia. We will now see, over the next 30 days, whether or not these bellicose statements are merely posturing or are, in fact, hard statements of policy. If the Iranians continue to maintain their hard line, we will also see if European, Russian and Chinese resolve over the matter is solid.

The Danish cartoonists whose work started the uproar that has spread throughout the Muslim world when they were commissioned by a Danish newspaper to do cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed have gone into hiding in fear for their lives. Meanwhile, a mob has sacked the Danish Embassy in Damascus. Here is a piece from the Weekly Standard with a concise timeline of the controversy. It also includes some statements that make clear to me, at least, what this is really all about.

In Gaza, thousand of protesters burned Danish flags while chanting "Death to Denmark," and gunmen stormed the European Union office. In Iraq, Danish troops were put on alert after a local fatwa was issued. In Kashmir, shops closed in protest. Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami party placed a bounty of 50,000 Danish kroner on the cartoonists. Jihadi websites are threatening suicide bombings in Denmark. Hezbollah's head, Hassan Nasrallah, declared if Muslims had carried "out the fatwa of Imam Khomeini against the renegade Salman Rushdie, the scum who are insulting our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway, and France would not dare do so."

This is really all about our ability to live our lives in freedom and tolerance, or succumb to the Medieval laws of fundamentalist Islam, where people are beheaded, their hands chopped off, women are veiled, and all other religions are snuffed out. This is a war of civilizations, not between Christian Europe/America and Islam (since Europe is no longer Christian, anyway), but between those who value freedom as it has been developed since the days of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and those who seek a return to the Muslim Caliphate. The Islamists are not only our enemies here in the West, but the enemies of all Muslims who believe in freedom, democracy, modernity and tolerance. They cannot be reasoned with, or bargained with, but only fought.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Muslim protests continue over the printing of cartoons that depict the Prophet Mohammed. Various demonstrations, threats of violence, boycotts and condemnations are the rule, but the cartoons have now been reprinted by numerous European newspapers. What we are seeing is a fundamental clash of values. In a secular Europe, the value of free speech trumps that of any religious sensibilities. The Danish Prime Minister has tried, without success and with some exasperation, to explain to the representatives of Muslim governments and media outlets that he can't do anything about what they print in one of his country's newspapers. Muslims, almost all of whom live under authoritarian regimes, simply cannot understand this principle. Even those Muslims who live under elected leadership (Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Turkey, India, Indonesia) probably cannot grasp that there is somehow a "right" to offend Islam or its traditions.

The bottom line is that this is one of those instances in human relations that boils down to an either-or scenario. Either we allow some of our people to use their free speech rights to be insensitive and insulting, or we do not. In secular Europe (and in the U.S.) people are allowed to say pretty much what they want. Burn a flag? Insult the Prophet (or Jesus, of the Jews, or anyone)? It is all free game. Not so in the Muslim world. Since the two societies are, like all the world, intertwined, then one value must trump the other. There is no compromise possible. These are the things wars are made of, by the way.

As for me, if I were the editor of a newspaper I would choose not to run cartoons that insult people's religious beliefs, as a matter of good taste and respect for my readers. But, as a citizen of the Western world, I would, as the saying goes, fight to the death to defend the rights of others to publish just such cartoons.

Charles Krauthammer writes about the Hamas electoral victory. He says we can now see the Palestinians without illusion.

David Ignatius examines whether or not the electoral victories of Islamic radicals can change their behavior when faced with the responsibilities of governing.

Daniel Pipes believes the Hamas victory won't change a thing. He sees Fatah and Hamas as two sides of the same Jew-hating coin, and the Israeli peacenicks as equally willing to negotiate with either, eyes wide shut all the while.

Victor Davis Hanson thinks the world is looking increasingly like the set of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Here is the latest on the Iranian situation. The IAEA is meeting today and will decide on whether or not to refer the Iranians to the U.N. Security Council. The Council, under the agreement reached the other day by the U.S., Europeans, Russians and Chinese, will wait for the IAEA's full report to be issued next month before deciding on sanctions. This will give the diplomats, especially the Russians, some time to get the Iranians to back down and find some compromise. Meanwhile, the Iranians are making belligerent statements about retaliation if their case is referred to the Security Council. That could include the ejection of inspectors from their country and withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. CBS News is also reporting that the Iranians have been engaged in explosives testing related to the development of nuclear weapons.

Strategypage is reporting that there is a rift in the Iranian government over how to proceed on this issue, with some people apparently unhappy with President Ahmadinejad's belligerent attitude. If this is true we will almost certainly see how powerful he is as they deal with the pushback from a seemingly unified international community on the nuclear issue.

The Guardian has this opinion piece on why the U.S. is acting in a more dovish manner regarding Iran.

It appears that some Europeans are waking up to the fact that militant Islam is an existential threat, and some are growing a spine. Several newspapers have defiantly re-published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that caused Muslims around the world to condemn, sometimes violently, the Danes after a Danish newspaper originally published the cartoons. Michelle Malkin gives a more complete rundown of how this story developed. Unfortunately, as the London Times is reporting, the editor of an Egyptian-owned French newspaper that re-ran the cartoons was fired. In some European editorial rooms, at least, their is a dawning realization that our modern, secular, Western way of life is incompatible with Islam as it is practiced in much of the Muslim world. They seem now to understand that living in a world where fatwahs can be issued by clerics calling for the death of someone for writing a book (Salman Rushdie), where a filmmaker can be butchered in the street for making a film (Van Gogh), and where an entire country can be condemned and boycotted because one of their independent newspapers ran some cartoons, is not acceptable and must be fought with as much vigor as the Fascist New World Order or the Communist New World Order was fought.

In Iraq, the Sunnis are making demands. They want their demands met or else. I think they'll get the "or else".

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Some Egyptian officials are calling on Hamas to recognize Israel and disarm. In the same story, an Israeli official says he has learned through an Egyptian contact that Abu Mazen will not allow Hamas to form a government until they recognize Israel and disarm. If this is true we can expect an all-out civil war to break out in the Palestinian Territories shortly, as I have no expectation that Hamas leaders will renounce their founding principles.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants aid to continue to the Palestinians, even if Hamas refuses to change its ways. Hamas is also working to get aid from Arab countries to make up the shortfall if other international aid is cut off.

The New York Times has this report on some new findings from the IAEA regarding Iran's nuclear program. The IAEA sees an administrative link between the nuclear research, ostensibly for peaceful purposes, and military work on explosives and missile technology. Apparently, the information is contained in a briefing paper distributed to the Quartet that has referred the case to the Security Council. This is just another indication that the West is coming to the realization that the Iranian nuclear threat is real, and unacceptable. Whether or not the West can come together in a unified front is, as indicated by the next item, still an open question.

Also in the Times, this op-ed piece from a pair of anti-nuclear proliferation activists who believe the Russian proposal to do Uranium enrichment for the Iranians is just a dodge that will not slow the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons.

David Ignatius says the U.S. and France are now cooperating more closely on their dealings with the Middle East. It makes sense to me, as the French must understand that the rising radicalization of the Middle East poses an even greater danger to them than to us.

The Danes have learned a lesson about that radicalization as they are being boycotted and threatened by various Muslim nations because a Danish newspaper ran insulting cartoon characterizations of the Prophet Mohammed. The newspaper, after holding out for some time, has finally issued an apology. It may not be enough. Read the article and then ask yourself how Christians would react to a similar cartoon of Jesus. Would governments of Christian nations boycott the Danes because of the actions of one newspaper? Would Christian groups issue death threats, or hold riotous demonstrations? I think not.