Friday, November 21, 2003

Here's a Gregg Easterbrook piece (Easterbrook is a moderate Democrat) on Bush's prescription-drug plan, one of his major domestic-policy initiatives. (You folks in Europe may not have heard that Bush actually does things related to domestic issues, and that he does not spend all his time thinking up devilish plots to humiliate the Third World.) What Easterbrook points out is that this plan will help you a great deal if you are old and poor or sick. It will not help you much, even if you are old, if you are not poor or sick. That is, Americans are going to pay higher taxes in order to help out poor, sick retired people, and the wealthy don't benefit. Yeah, just old George Bush failing to be compassionate to the needy and helping out his friends in the oil business as usual.

This is Victor Davis Hanson on the situation in Iraq from Front Page:

Glazov: Welcome gentlemen to Frontpage Symposium. Let's begin with a general question: Can we say still say with confidence that it was the right thing for the U.S. to go into Iraq? How do you read the current situation?

Hanson: Examine three points (1) no more scuds into Kuwait, Israel, invasions of Iraq and Iran; no more worry about petro-dollar-fed weapons programs; no more $20 billion/300,000 sortie no-fly zones; no more genocide of Kurds/Shiites; no more destruction of the Marsh Arabs; no more violations of the 1991 armistice agreements; no more troops in Saudi Arabia; et al.; (2) so far at a cost of less than 400 lives, America has destroyed the Taliban and Hussein regimes (the worst in the Middle East), offered a chance of freedom for 50 million people; suffered no more 9-11s; and changed the landscape of the region in a way that is quite unlike the old Cold War (just pump oil/keep out communists) Realpolitik that led to the appeasement or promotion of tyrants. (3) despite the current hysteria, systematic progress toward a civil society continues in Iraq, as power, schools, politics, trade, and infrastructure are getting better each month. If we really are in a terrible war against Islamofascists and their assorted autocratic abettors, then having such predisposed murderers collect in Iraq where they can be engaged and destroyed in the larger strategic picture of a global war is dangerous of course, but still not necessarily bad.

We've all seen what Al Qaeda just did in Istanbul, with the added fillip that the targets were the British Consulate and a British bank. Among many others, the British Consul was killed. Uh, people of the West, listen to me for just a second here. You're not being paranoid if you've got evidence. They're after us. Don't blame America and Britain for breaking the peace. The loose rogue state / terrorist gang alliance has been at war with us since the Sixties, in case you don't remember the Munich Olympics or Black September or the Lebanon hostages or the Teheran embassy or the Beirut barracks or the Libyan embassy or the raid on Entebbe or the African embassies or the Osiraq nuke plant or the Bekaa Valley or Lockerbie. Or 9-11. And, Brits and Spaniards, don't forget that both the IRA and ETA, who have made a long practice of killing people in your countries, are connected to the Middle Eastern rogue states and terrorists too.

Here's Rafael Ramos, on page 4 from today's La Vanguardia.

...In the streets of London, meanwhile, more than a hundred thousand demonstrators made a completely different interpretation of the invasion of Iraq, denouncing the selfish and neocolonialist policies of the U.S. and Great Britain, and presenting the "war against terror" as a pretext to cut back civil liberties, terrify the people, and advance the economic interests of the Anglo-Saxon allies...

...Bush and Blair have made in London a call to arms with a manifesto that is at bottom simplistic, in black and white. The Republican President wants a sort of American War of Independence, this time against terrorism and at a universal scale, convinced that the outcome is predistined by moral imperative. And the Labour leader seems to be perfectly happy to be his shield-bearer...

For the demonstrators who tore down the statue of Bush in Trafalgar Square reality is very different. Bush and Blair's discourse reflects the anxiety of an ex-empire--Great Britain--that cannot find its place in the world, and a superpower--the United States--that consumes more than it produces, that has a debt of $500 billion financed by China and Japan, and whose military power has been in decline since the Second World War, despite Pyrrhic victories like Iraq and Afghanistan, which confirm its difficulties in fighting a guerrilla war. It's a question of opinions.

Don't you just despise this guy? He's an old European nationalist to the core, hates the United States like poison, likes to put down Britain, and sees everything in terms of compàrative national prestige. Also, he knows nothing about economics; he's fallen into the mercantilist trap of assuming that production should equal consumption, and he doesn't see that a national debt of $500 billion isn't much when compared to the annual American GDP of $9 trillion, unlike certain European countries in hock for more than 100% of their annual GDPs, and that the US national debt is mostly financed domestically.

Oh, by the way, the London Metropolitan Police estimated about 30,000 demonstrators, most of whom were high school kids or squatters. 59,970,000 Britons stayed home. Political demonstrations are generally meaningless. It's when the people pull an uprising that it's scary, and everyone in Britain is far too safe and comfortable to risk anything more than a truncheon on the head by a cop. (Go Cops! Beat 'em, smack 'em, drag 'em to the truck!) Anyway, the government is responsible to all the voters, not to that fraction of demonstrators, many below voting age, that makes the most noise in the streets. And the voters elected Tony Blair. And even the Guardian admits that the people are behind Blair.

Here's Tikrit Tommy Alcoverro, whose piece is on page six and is labeled "Analysis" in twelve-point type, but at least is labeled as such.

You don't have to be a sublime doctor or a graduate expert in the complicated Middle East to know and to repeat over and over that the worst is still to come for these "object peoples".

"Object peoples"? Huh? What we're doing is treating people, not peoples (of whom there are dozens in Iraq), as individuals whose lives are worth a damn, rather than objects. Tommy, do you think Al Qaeda give a shit about people? Or Saddam or the Taliban or Hizbollah or Hamas? If they did, they wouldn't go around killing individual human beings in the name of some combination of crazed ideology and corrupt greed.

The American administration and its allies are determined to make war against what they call international terrorism, without clearing up what its origins are, nor wanting to accept that, for example, the Palestinians and the Iraqis--like the Afghans and Lebanese before them--are combating the fact of an armed occupation. Evidently, we must also know that the causes of those occupations were, the result of previous wars.

Tommy, the whole thing about international frontiers of any kind is they've all been changed repeatedly by war. It's the post-World War I West that has tried, utopically, but has at least tried, to set up a world in which there are no more frontier conflicts in order to prevent future border wars. Anyway, lovely Old European "root causes" wank, Tommy. How can you possibly assure us that the "peoples" of Middle Eastern countries are fighting a unified "struggle against the occupation"? Especially Lebanon, now a protectorate of Syria, but whose people have left off struggling (because if you blow up the Syrians' barracks they just massacre everybody in town. That sort of extreme violence works, unfortunately, and Lebanon is now pacified.) People vote with their feet. More than a million refugees have returned to Afghanistan. And most of the Iraqi people support the US, though they would like us to leave rather sooner than later, which is fair enough.

That's enough fisking Tommy. If I keep this up I'm going to puke--and, oh, no, it's Baghdad Bob Fisk on page seven!

Bagdad Bob's article is really of a pathetic vileness, of gutter-crawling cowardice, of bowing down before those who are scary and violent, of imagining that the bully won't beat you up if you kiss his bum, as Orwell once accused sex-crazed weaselly pro-Nazi pacifist Alex Comfort of doing to Hitler.

...The Australians paid the price of John Howard's alliance with Bush in Bali. The Italians paid the price of Silvio Berlusconi's alliance with Bush in Nasariyah. Now it's our turn. Al Qaeda expressed itself with clarity and precision. The Saudis would pay. The Australians would pay. The Italians would pay. The British would pay. And they have all paid. Canada is still on Al Qaeda's list. Until it is, I suppose, our turn again. Remember, by the way, that already in 1997 Ben Laden said and repeated to me that Great Britain would only escape Islamic rage if it pulled out of the Gulf...

...Think about what they always say about Bin Laden's speeches. When they are broadcast, journalists always say the same thing: Is it really him? Is he alive? This is our only discourse. However, the Arab response is very different. They know it is him. And they listen to what he says. We should do the same thing.

Can it get worse? It can! Here's "Chemical Lali" Sole on the main op-ed page!

The civil population..finds the war at home and with no escape, who hate the missiles but receive their impact, that does not participate in the dividing of the booty, but has to watch while foreign hands loot their country.

All of this, in everyday life, means living in chaos and with abuse, the lack of water and electricity, the lack of medicines, the stundent frightened on their way to school and inside it, with women giving birth suffering more for the future of their children than their own pain, with the old more vulnerable than ever, with the forces of occupation searching the houses and frightening children and adults...

...In Iraq all consideration of the humanitarian labor (of the Red Cross and the UN) has disappeared and both have suffered attacks. In the future, now that every ethical principle has been violated, the brutality will have no brakes. This is the fruit of a churning river, in the form of an invasion, whose benefit is economic lucre.

...Reporters without Borders denounce that the journalists who work in that country are harassed by the American forces. Even worse, freedom of expression, an indiscutible democratic principle, is violated not only in the conquered country but also in the conqueror. That's what happens when Bush prohibits the media of communication from showing the mutilated, the caskets, the pain of the relatives, the burials of their troops in Iraq and in Afghanistan...

It makes no sense that, confronted with a global economy, global risks, and global victims, we cannot have a global democracy. We are talking about a democracy that has never been tried before, but new times require new systems. Unless we keep allowing a few to continue sowing the world with cadavers and victims.

And then you're surprised when you hear that Europeans are anti-American? This is an all-time record for La Vanguardia, the most America-bashing in one day ever recorded. And people around here just believe this crap and parrot it back to you as if it were an argument. If you go back to their "root causes" argument, Spaniards' ignorance is a function of the low quality of their media of communication.

No comments: