The Echo Chamber
Friday, September 27, 2002
  4:19 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in a bind. On the one hand, he is interested in building and maintaining a close relationship with the United States. The United States, of course, is interested in regime change in Iraq. Russia fears that toppling the Iraqi regime may destroy or destabilize OPEC. The Moscow Times writes:
The global oil industry has thrived due to OPEC interventions in the oil market, and the only reason why Russia's economy still has a future is because of the supply reduction decision taken by OPEC in March 1999.
It’s a small wonder that Putin called again today for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Iraq. Putin doesn’t even want the U.N. to issue another resolution on the matter.
"We favor a rapid resolution of the situation by political and diplomatic means, on the basis of existing UN Security Council regulations and in line with the principles of international law," Putin said.
That is quite a distance, diplomatically, from the U.S. position. In fact, Putin is parroting Saddam’s position on this issue. But on his political left, Putin already has Genadi Zodanov the Russian Communist Party leader pushing for a natural gas production agreement with Persian states.
In tune with his vision for a strategic alliance, Zodanov called on Russia and Iran to create a natural gas version of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with the cooperation of the Persian Gulf gas producers to control international gas prices. The proposal reflects a growing interest among Russian political and business leaders in further expanding ties with Iran for strategic reasons as American political and military pressure on Russia is increasing.

Given the American policy of isolating Iran, any growth in the already extensive Russian-Iranian relations will help worsen conflicts between Russia and the United States on many issues of importance to both, including the export of Caspian oil and gas.

Putin could hardly have been happy to hear U.S. reports of al Qaeda camps in Iran.

Perhaps it’s time for Bush to reenergize his friendship with Putin. The United States wants Russia to succeed economically. Putin has voiced support for our war on terror. Most of the goals of the US and Russia are not mutually exclusive. If Bush guarantees that regime change in Iraq won’t be used to flood the world oil market, Russia could move toward our position. Our hunting of terrorists in Iran doesn’t necessarily have to sink a Russian/Iranian natural gas agreement – particularly if it involves surgical strikes.

Russia has proven to be a valuable ally the first year of this war. When it is consistent with our war efforts, we should encourage Russia to stick with us for the duration. 

  10:13 AM

Okay, after this I'll be done with Gore's speech. But I have to point you to this Charles Krauthammer article.  

  9:57 AM

Peggy Noonan does what Gore and Daschle failed to do - she frames the debate on Iraq. 

Thursday, September 26, 2002
  9:21 AM

Most speeches are forgettable. Even the President himself has relatively few speeches that are truly important or memorable.

On Monday Al Gore gave one of the most memorable speeches this year. Who will quickly forget what a pathetic display that speech was? The man has no class.

He is also completely out of the loop. Consider this Gore insight:

I don't think that we should allow anything to diminish our focus on avenging the 3,000 Americans who were murdered and dismantling the network of terrorists who we know to be responsible for it. The fact that we don't know where they are should not cause us to focus instead on some other enemy whose location may be easier to identify.

Nevertheless, President Bush is telling us that the most urgent requirement of the moment - - right now - - is not to redouble our efforts against Al Qaeda, not to stabilize the nation of Afghanistan after driving his host government from power, but instead to shift our focus and concentrate on immediately launching a new war against Saddam Hussein.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice had this to say in a PBS interview published yesterday:
We clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time.

We know too that several of the detainees, in particular some high ranking detainees, have said that Iraq provided some training to al-Qaida in chemical weapons development.

Link via Indepundit.

Going to Iraq is as much a distraction from the War on Terror as going to Africa was a distraction from World War II. Iraq is just another battlefield. Either Gore was being completely disingenuous for political purposes (nah, couldn’t be), or he’s had his head in the ground for months. Sure, he’s no longer given top-secret intelligence briefings. But if Scott Koenig at Indepundit could sniff this out, why not a would-be President? 

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
  3:17 PM

Blogger Steven Den Beste posted awhile back a very controversial article entitled “Who is our enemy.” Link via Indepundit.

This lengthy article identifies the enemy, does a marvelous job explaining why they are our enemy, and gives thoughts on how this struggle can ultimately be won.

I have a couple of criticisms. I think this article was unnecessarily controversial because Steven was a little clumsy in labeling who the enemy was, and because he accepted the political left’s label for the course of action he advocates.

Steven labeled the enemy “Arab culture.” In a follow-up article he expressed dissatisfaction with that label and switched to “Arab traditionalists.”

With active al-Qeada cells in Southeastern Asia, many members of which are not ethnic Arabs, it can be seen that that the label “Arab traditionalists” is not adequate either. Steven would prefer to keep any reference to Islam out of a description of the enemy, but this is just not possible. It wasn’t a religiously diverse bunch that attacked on September 11. Those guys were Muslims. The fact that all 19 were Muslim is no breathtaking coincidence. The roots of their hatred can be found within their religion.

Steven did not shy away from this fact in his article. He points out that the Koran itself demands proselytizing by way of military conquest, and subjugation of non-Muslim people. This process is demanded to be continued until the entire world is Islamic.

All Arabs are not our enemy. All of our enemies are not Arabs. All Muslims are not our enemy. But all of our enemies are Muslim. There is another label for the enemy that has been around awhile that I think is superior because it is more accurate: Radical Islamists.

We are not at war with Islam. But if Radical Islamicism is a disease, Muslims are the at-risk population. Muslim Arabs are particularly at risk.

Steven's next mistake was adopting (even mentioning) the phrase “cultural genocide” to describe the complete remaking of Middle Eastern culture that he advocates. The left came up with this term because of its belief that all cultures (with the exceptions of American WASP and Israeli Jewish culture) are equal. Of course all cultures are not equal. Helping a diseased culture change into a open, productive, and peaceful culture is not genocide. It’s the most humanitarian thing one country can do for another. Call it anything but cultural genocide. Perhaps “cultural revolution" would have been better.

Steven’s follow-up article dispels the idea that he was advocating actual genocide (as some who commented obviously thought).

Some came away with the impression that I therefore believed that only force would be used and that it was my intention to totally annihilate Arab culture in all its manifestations, as well as annihilating Islam in all its manifestations, even to the point of seeking out and burning every copy of the Qur'an...

I regret giving that impression. That's not even close to what I'm proposing. I made reference to what we did in Japan after World War II, which is closer to what I was thinking of.

Steven then described what happened in Japan after World War II. The constitution was rewritten to prohibit armed forces, and to protect individual freedoms.
Japan didn't become New America, it just ceased being Samurai Japan. But what it became was driven by forces already present in Japan. We didn't remake Japan in our own image. What we did was to find people and cultural influences already present in Japan which were more to our liking, and work to let them become the dominant strain in Japanese culture.
Globalism and the dominance of American culture in the world will complete the process. Steven gave as an example - the Barbie doll.
Barbie is the most popular doll in Iran, much to the chagrin of religious zealots there. Barbie likes nice clothes and goes on dates with Ken (who is also popular); she certainly doesn't cover her face. She's a career girl, a model, sexy and beautiful and glad of it. She lives alone. She wears short skirts and bikinis. She's a woman and she likes being a woman. And she's the star of the show; Ken is a supporting actor. She dates Ken because she wants to, not because her parents set her up with him. Barbie is free.
I’ll just bet that many of the young women now involved in the Iranian Student Movement played with Barbies.

Glenn Reynolds has trumpeted the cultural importance of Elvis Presley. Glenn wrote that Elvis Presley's greatest achievement was to make the US culturally immune to totalitarianism.

[Elvis] left behind a changed culture that short-circuited the mechanisms that Hitler had used to secure power - and the mechanisms that other regimes used to maintain it.

If what you want is to dress up funny and bond with a lot of other people in front of a great light show, well, you don't need the Nazis to do it anymore - even in Berlin. Since Elvis, the bonding-and-catharsis element of mass media has expanded to outdo anything that any politician can deliver. We describe an especially popular politician today as looking "like a rock star," rather than the other way around, after all. (Could there be a worse insult than describing a rock musician as looking "like a Congressman?" I can't think of one.)

Both Steven and Glenn are probably overstating their cases somewhat. But the cumulative effect of exposure to American culture is a desire for more freedom. Barbie teaches girls that they can be whatever they want, even if “math is hard.” Elvis was the ultimate individualist. Neither are compatible with Islamic culture…yet.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
  8:59 PM

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is sick and tired of Yassar Arafat. He wants that man gone. Some might wonder why replacing Arafat would necessarily help Sharon. After all, Arafat might be replaced by someone even worse for Israel. And the Palestinians would be inflamed by the move.

Its not likely that Israel could do worse than Arafat. Arafat is the world’s most politically successful terrorist. Any objective observer knows that the man has been directly involved in targeting Israeli citizens.

Yet he remains popular in the world community.

Anti-Semitism being what it is, a terrorist replacement might prove just as popular in the world community. But at least the replacement will know (by the example of Israel’s last dealings with Arafat) that Israel’s patience is not infinite with two-faced thugs.

As for inflaming the Palestinians, Israel could be excused for wondering how the Palestinians could be inflamed more. Also, Israel might be encouraged to make a move against Arafat by Arafat’s recently diminished popularity among Palestinians.

The U.S. has kept Israel from taking this step in the past. But Israel has a powerful bargaining chip now: the U.S. wants Israel to stay out of any war with Iraq.

So if Israel wanted to make such a deal, how would it work? First, Sharon would have to publicly state that he will retaliate against any attack by Iraq. This has happened. The U.S. would then warn that retaliation would not be in Israel’s interests. This has happened.

The following is pure speculation:

Sharon calls up or, more likely, visits Bush and delivers this offer, “You let us get Arafat, and we will stay out of the Iraqi conflict even if we take a hit.”

Bush is hardly a fan of Arafat, but he knows he must appear to the world to condemn any such move by Israel. Bush’s acceptance of such an offer would come with a few caveats. “The U.S. would have to publicly condemn the move.”

Sharon would say, “Fine, condemn us, U.S. condemnation can hardly make Israel more unpopular in the world, can it? I would ask that that U.S. refrain from participating in any UN condemnation of our move.”

Bush would want to negotiate upward the number of hits and the damage sustained by Israel from Iraq before she would respond. Sharon would try to keep it low.

Next, Bush would want to negotiate the timing of the move. “You can’t just move in now,” he’d say, “You have to wait for a terrorist hit to serve as provocation for the move.”

Lastly Bush would want to negotiate the fate of Arafat. “You can’t just go in there guns blazing and kill the man.” “You have to capture and exile him.”

“That might be difficult. Our psyche profiles show that if cornered he will be a dead-ender.”

“If you kill him, even accidentally, it would be politically necessary for there to be diplomatic consequences for Israel.”


“Then you have a deal.”

Such a deal would not have to be as explicit as this imagined conversation. Sometimes a course of dealings between nations can lead to an implicit understanding. Either way, I can't imagine Israel passing up this unique opportunity to rid themselves of a detestable enemy. 

Monday, September 23, 2002
  3:55 PM

Jewish student beaten by a Palestinian student at Concordia

Link via Kesher Talk

  2:30 PM

So what to think about the Palestinian girl saved by a bombing victim's organ donation?

I’m just a little uneasy about this. One Instapundit reader wonders, rhetorically, “If this had happened the other way around, how long before we would see Palestinian propaganda about Jews killing Palestinians for organs?"

That may be part of my problem with it. Since the Palestinian leadership wants the Jewish state destroyed and all Jews killed, they would have lamented a double-evil had the situation been reversed. Not only would a young Palestinian be dead, but a Jew would be spared. One wonders which they would hate worse.

I wonder if the organizers of this attack are congratulating themselves for a two-fer. I wonder if they will use this to encourage future attacks. ”Not only will you be killing Jews, but those foolish infidels might even save a Palestinian with left-over body parts!” The fact that its an unlikely scenario doesn’t make this useless as propaganda for these guys.

I know that the right thing was done. I guess that you have to have faith that the right thing is the best thing. That the saving of this child, who is a complete innocent, helps give meaning to the death of another innocent person. The family of the bombing victim Jonathan Jesner is proud that he was able to give life to others.

There is a sharp contrast between the Jesner family's love of life with the Palestinian cult of death. Maybe some Palestinians will see this contrast and take it to heart.


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