Friday, February 12, 2010

The Self Referential Nature of this is Going to Kill Me

Palestinian activists are now dressing as Avatar characters. May God have mercy on us all.

On the plus side, this is better than rockets being fired into Israeli civilian populations.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New Joshua Muravchik piece on the American Task Force on Palestine

Here is Joshua’s recent piece at Front Page Magazine, a response to Joe Kaufman's Frontpage article “The Terror and Crime of the American Task Force on Palestine."

Joshua has also started blogging over at World Affairs Magazine at whats called Neocon Corner, and has a few posts so far. His most recent, "Go Green," is about the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michael Oren Heckled and Stupid, Stupid Protesters

Making fun of childish university protesters could be a full time job. Although every piece would end up looking the same. If I were smart, I would just make a document with empty spaces for the date and location, and simply plug in those necessary tidbits every time one of these protests pops up.

The recent free speech hating outburst came from our good friends at the University of California, Irive who found it necessary to disrupt a speech by Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. The Muslim Student Union at UCI has been an especially disgusting group that has been connected to radical Islamist elements around the world. So I expect this group to hate democracy and have no qualms about silencing a diplomat from a free and democratic state from speaking. The "radical" "leftists" who stood in solidarity with them is another matter altogether, and yet another moment that demonstrates just how broken and pathetic the Left in the West has become.

Good for the university official that reprimanded them for behaving like the children that they are. Grow up, learn how to debate, and come back to school when you have outgrown your diapers. Leave scholarly activity to the adults.

Well, at least they weren't calling for the death of Jews like they did in Oxford. I suppose I could give them credit for that.

Here is the whole event at UCI. Near the end is a short interview with Palestinian refugee Ghazi Brighith, which is worth a listen.

Blair and the Iraq Inquiry

Tony Blair appeared before the Iraq Inquiry here in Britain a few weeks back, and it gave commentators from across the political divide a chance to rehash their Iraq War slogans and attempt to paint Blair as a war criminal who should be tried for murder or as a brave statesmen who made difficult decision in difficult times. Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have been a supporter of Blair, especially on foreign policy. That aside, I thought Blair gave a persuasive defense for intervention in Iraq, and intervention as a policy option.

Here is what others have said about Blair’s comments before the inquiry.

Martin in the Margins wrote:
“From the bits I heard, I thought Blair offered a powerful defence of liberal interventionism and a clear and unwavering assessment of the threats that still face us. Radio 5's summary of his testimony began with 'Well, he didn't apologise and he didn't admit he lied', or words to that effect, as if that was the only 'take away' from Blair's appearance that would have satisfied the journos. Truly, the mainstream media coverage of Chilcot has been a disgrace.”
Very true. I happened to be on the Brian Taylor’s Big Debate, a BBC talk program which was hosted here in Edinburgh the day Tony was questioned (sadly, the BBC doesn’t have the episode available on its website), and it was clear the journalists present and the vocal crowd providing questions to the panel all desired to see Blair break down on stage or offer an apology while holding back tears. Anything less than that was going to disappoint them.

Hopi Sen wrote:
“After this enquiry, I doubt many politicians will risk any noble causes. How likely are Messrs Cameron, Balls, Miliband or Hague to stake their reputations on the sufferings of far away countries of whom we know little?

I fear the future will be full of Kosovo’s – and worry that the legacy of Chilcot will be that we let them happen.”

The fact that there has been so many of these inquiries into the British government’s role in the Iraqi liberation is a bit baffling to me, especially since nothing of incredible significance has been reveled in the process. If anything, the repercussions of these constant investigative panels will be that no government in the future will ever make a difficult decision, as it may result in years of examination. Politicians are generally weak willed individuals who take the road of least resistance as not to rock the boat and lose their privileged seat in government, and these pointless inquires are only going to weaken their knees further.

Nor am I saying politicians shouldn’t be held accountable for policies they support. But as Nick Cohen argues:

“And yet mainstream public opinion has never been interested in offering solidarity to the victims of Ba'athism and Islamism. Instead of talking about what happened to Iraq either before or after the invasion, it has remained stuck in the groove of spring 2003, endlessly scratching the record for a conspiratorial explanation for Britain's decision to invade.

We are now enduring our fifth Iraq inquiry. Tribunals have called Alastair Campbell so many times he could imitate Sherman McCoy in The Bonfire of the Vanities and declare: "I am a career defendant. I now dress for jail, even though I haven't been convicted of any crime." They do not seem to know it but if they hold inquiries until the crack of doom, the war's opponents will never convict him or the Labour leadership. Their central allegation that the second Iraq war was "illegal" is unsustainable and not only because no competent court has validated it.”

The “Bush/Blair lied: People Died” meme has been so ingrained in certain circles of the political debate that they simply can’t imagine that there are less sinister reasons for the war in Iraq. As Cohen points out, this mindset is inherently conspiratorial; it isn’t built on facts or evidence, but gut feelings and reinforced arguments maintained in an echo chamber. Opponents of the war have convinced themselves that the only people who would support liberating Iraq were nefarious "Zionist" Neocons, Christian fundamentalists, or corporatist businessmen who thrive in times of war.

Some folks simply can’t grasp that individuals like SMP George Foulkes (who was present at the Big Debate I attended), and Ann Clwyd (who has been a supporter of dissidents in Iraq and Saddam’s victims for decades) believed that it was Britain’s moral responsibility to end a regime that had crushed its citizens for too long. Clwyd stated at the Iraq Inquiry:

“The Kurds had never told me before that they wanted to war. I mean they had their uprisings, you know, against the regime, the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the south, but I had never ever heard them say, “We want a war”. They had tried to overthrow him — Saddam’s regime themselves, but never had anybody said, “We want a war”. But this time they said to me, “There is no other way”, and that’s the first time I ever heard the Kurds — and I have a very long association with them — say that. “There is no other way”. So when I came back and we had this debate at the beginning of February — the beginning of March — middle of February in the House of Commons, and I spoke then explaining what I had just heard and seen in Kurdistan, and I said for the first time that, you know, with INDICT over the years we had tried every way, with sanctions we had tried, but actually even that twin-track approach had not managed to move the regime. So I felt myself there was no other option. I didn’t feel that I could go back and face the Kurds and say that I had argued any other way because I couldn’t on the basis of what I had heard.”

Of course, there is the argument that the war was ‘illegal,’ something repeated so often by war opponents that those making this assertion can hardly understand opposition to the claim. Max Dunbar takes this bit apart:

“I’ve been pondering one of the more confused of the antiwar arguments: the legality or otherwise of the Iraq war. The idea that the invasion was wrong because it was ‘illegal’ is frequently levelled, often by people who have a negligible understanding of international and war crimes law, and sometimes by people who belong to political groups dedicated to the armed overthrow of parliamentary democracy. If the war had been declared ’legal’; if some attorney general had said, ‘Yes, this is okay, go for it’ would the antiwar faction have turned round, admitted fault and supported the war? If we’re going to talk legality, surely war is a crime in and of itself.

But the charge of illegality serves one purpose – to turn an argument about human rights, democracy and the responsibility to protect into an argument about boxes checked, hoops jumped and resolutions passed. It allows you to sidestep the complex issues of solidarity and internationalism and to retreat into a position of abstract judgement.”

Max knows the answer to his own question. Opponents of the war would have simply found another reason to argue against the invasion (there are plenty of rational reasons to be against the Iraq War); the legalistic argument just sounds better and allows those who make it to avoid discussing the moral ramifications of the conflict. They don’t have to talk about Iraqi trade unions, minorities, and dissidents living under Saddam’s government. They don’t have to address their plight at all, nor do they have to concern themselves with their struggle to rebuild the country after years of brutal dictatorship and then civil war. It’s a pass; saying the war was “illegal” provides no insight into what should have been done and what should be done now.

Blair’s entire six hours in front of the Inquiry is worth watching, but a condensed version of his argument was provided on Mike Huckabee’s show a few days back.