The Echo Chamber
Saturday, October 05, 2002
  2:10 PM

It’s beginning to look less and less likely that the Maryland shooter is an Islamic terrorist. By now, you’d think that an organized terrorist group would be claiming responsibility in order to maximize the terror.

Fox News has the beginnings of a profile:

He’s a middle-aged loner with an inordinate interest in weapons, particularly high powered riffles. He would be interested in the Soldier of Fortune magazine or other para-military publications.

Because he is a good shot, law enforcement officials believe that his interest in rifles is long-standing. 


Friday, October 04, 2002
  11:43 AM

So Iraq wants to settle our differences with a Presidential duel.

A duel was historically a tool to settle disputes between two men of honor. Since Saddam has no honor, we could expect him to cheat.

I wonder how many doubles Bush would have to kill before getting to the real Saddam.


 


  10:24 AM

Another report that top Bin Laden lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri is dead. This time, according to The Telegraph, a Russian news agency is reporting that al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. Special Forces Operation. U.S. Military officials are claiming ignorance.
Link via The Visser View
Of course, President Bush explained that this war would have operations that would remain secret even in success. Like Bin Laden himself, this guy may be one we just never hear from again.


 


  10:23 AM

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expects an American attack on Iraq by late November.



 


Thursday, October 03, 2002
  1:56 PM

There’s an old cliché that "history is written by the victors." When victory was defined as the utter destruction of the enemy, this was an obvious truth. The survivors were the only ones left to tell the story. Today, this notion is a tool of both military hawks and those on the left who would discredit accepted history.

A hawk might use this idea as justification for “might makes right.” "Since history is written by the victors," the hawk reasons, “might quite literally makes right because the mightiest decide what’s right. Therefore, it pays to be mighty."

I’ve heard the idea that “history is written by the victors” more often, however, from liberals who were implying that history written by the victors is inaccurate because it is twisted to suit the victors. I agree that all history contains some level of commentary – even if it’s just in the choice of what facts are remembered. But what makes anyone think that history written by losers would be less prone to inaccuracy?

If anything, once victory is assured the victorious society can afford to be magnanimous toward the defeated. The victorious society can talk about the heroism of the defeated and can dwell on the complexities of the issues involved far better than the defeated society can. The defeated tend to busy themselves turning former leaders into martyred saints. General Grant is remembered as a drunk. General Lee is the archetypal southern gentleman.

The one thing that these hawks and these liberals have in common is a cynical disbelief in moral absolutes. If there were no difference between a just society and an evil society, then why not believe this? But, of course, there is a difference.

A sociologist could explain the difference this way: the society that achieves the most efficient meritocracy will dominate surrounding societies first, by outperforming surrounding societies with the individuals on hand, and second, by drawing the best and brightest from its neighbors. Both the success of the meritocracy and the failure of the surrounding states is thereafter self-reinforcing. 


  10:22 AM

If you haven’t done so already, go read Jonah Goldberg’s National Review article, “More of the Same Old Tired Arguments.”

Golberg answers each of the anti-war arguments in turn. In answer to the argument that an Iraqi war would drain resources from the War on Terror, Goldberg responds:

As The New Republic noted in its scathing editorial on Gore's speech [link requires free registration], Germany intensified its aid in the war on terror even as Gerhard Schroeder pulled his country completely out of the war on Iraq. There's no reason to think that the same dynamic wouldn't apply elsewhere. Taking America's side in a war is a very public act; cooperating with America's law and intelligence services is a very private affair. The ability to publicly snub America on Iraq while privately earning America's gratitude in the war on terror may seem like a boon to many world leaders. Pakistan's Musharaf would probably leap at the opportunity to denounce a war on a Muslim country — with a wink and a nod from the U.S. — while quietly rounding up members of al Qaeda and currying favor with America. Indeed, this is pretty much what Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Indonesia, Russia, and France have been doing for most of the last year — denouncing American belligerence toward Iraq while cooperating fully with the U.S. in the fight against al Qaeda.
U.S. saber rattling against Iraq makes it politically necessary for Arab and European countries to denounce the U.S., which in turn makes it politically necessary for them to do more in the war on terror. Not too bad for a dumb cowboy, is it?

Anyway, the War on Iraq is part of the war on terror.

---Jonah Goldberg link via LGF
 


Wednesday, October 02, 2002
  3:12 PM

Does Might Make You Wrong?

I’ll buy that “might does not make right.” But does "might" make you wrong? The Hollywood left thinks so:

In an article on the silence of the Jews in Hollywood, the Los Angeles Times quotes writer-director Michael Tolkin, author of "The Player" and "Changing Lanes": "Liberals are on the side of the underdog. The people who've had their cities turned into rubble look like the underdog."

This is a very revealing statement. Many of us have long argued that leftists do not ask, "Who is right and who is wrong?" but rather, "Who is strong and who is weak?" in determining their positions on world and national issues. The substitution of power criteria for moral criteria is one of the reasons the left so often takes immoral positions.

--Dennis Prager writing for “The Jewish World Review.”
All mighty civilizations have not been moral. But morality helps a country become strong. Might doesn’t make right, but right makes might.

An effective and just criminal justice system leads to less crime and greater productivity. Freedom of speech leads to a free flow of information – which is essential for modern development. Freedom of religion means freedom from oppressive and harmful religions. If a society values women, another half of its population will be free to contribute to that society’s success.

Instead of assuming the righteousness of the Palestinians, the world should be asking "what is wrong with the Palestinian society?" Since right makes might, why haven't they accomplished more? 


  10:13 AM

Quote from “The Lord of the Rings”

"It takes but one to make a war, not two, and those who do not have swords may still die upon them." – Eowyn
Link via Instapundit
If you haven’t seen it, check out the “The Two Towers” trailer. This is a different trailer from that seen on “The Fellowship of the Rings” DVD. 


  9:34 AM

Why should I write about Barbra Streisand's latest embarrassment when Rachel Lucas has said it all?

Rachel might get a little too strong in her criticism at times. Of course Barbra has the right to say whatever she wants to anyone who is willing to listen. She can hold fundraisers for anyone she wants. If she has any influence, political or otherwise, she is free to use it anyway she likes.

Of course we are free to make fun of her when she makes a fool of herself. This will happen frequently because she is not the intellectual she would have us believe, but merely a talented singer and actress surrounded by sycophants (“oh she’s just like budda”) who has begun to believe the world really does revolve around herself.

Anyway, Rachel’s rant is a fun read. Don’t miss it. 


Tuesday, October 01, 2002
  8:17 PM

A Great Awakening in China?

Time Magazine correspondent David Aikman makes the startling prediction that in a few decades China will be a Christian nation. He reports that of the 1.3 billion population, 80 million are Christian. This represents (check my math) 6.15% of the population. This is up from .8% of the population in 1949.

Most Chinese Christians are Protestant.

Aikman observes that there need not be a majority Christian population for Christian principles to affect China. Thirty percent or so, he says, would suffice. That is so, he explains, because Christianity has spread well beyond rural China to the biggest cities, it is a seriously held faith, and it is increasingly the faith of young people with evident prospects for societal influence, sons and daughters of prominent establishment figures including government officials.
Link to Weekly Standard reprint of Dallas Morning News article via Instapundit


  4:49 PM

Bryan Preston of JunkYardBlog has written for National Review a scary assessment of Al Qaeda's remaining strength and current planning.

Preston's article is based on the U.S. Army's assessment of captured Al Qaeda training videos. Preston outlines four scenarios that these terrorist are preparing for:

  1. An assassination of a VIP on a golf course
  2. An attack on a six lane cloverleaf interstate exchange
  3. An attack on law enforcement officials during a traffic stop
  4. An attack upon a building with a large number of occupants (a school, a hospital, or other large enterprise).
In the case of the attack upon the building, all scenarios shown in the training videos end the same way - with the systematic execution of all hostages on television.

Remarkably, some people still have a problem with our judging these men "evil."

 


  1:43 PM

Palestinian Authority General Muhammed Masri admits in a Jerusalem Post interview that the Palestinian Authority has the strength to stop Hamas attacks, but not the desire.

This is absolutely the most remarkable thing I've read since the intifada began. Such brazen candor! How sad that Masri can with cynical assurance express such a thing knowing there will be no international outcry.

Now that this is out in the open, Israel needs to decide if it has the will to stop Hamas and dismantle the useless Palestinian Authority.

Link via Jay Reding
 


  9:50 AM

The Wall Street Journal denies it, but two former CIA officials have stated that prior to his assassination, WSJ reporter Daniel Perl was on the trail of a September 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

The official Wall Street Journal story is that Perl was investigating "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

According to that [Wall Street Journal] account, Reid [sic, Perl] had gone to Karachi to contact a man called Sheik Mubarek Gilani to get information on Reid.

[Former CIA official Bob] Baer said that instead Pearl was onto bigger and more dangerous game. "I urged him to go to Pakistan to look into Shaikh Mohammed."

 


  6:12 AM

Reuters has published a "slideshow" that allegedly shows the Iraqi people going about their “daily lives.”

The photographs are fuel for pacifists. They are intended to be intimate and familial. Children, pretty girls, and old people are the subjects. Are there no men in Iraq between the ages of 12 and 60? Oh, there they are, bowed in prayer while a toddler looks on.

Meanwhile, Reuters publishes photos with captions like this one from Ramallah:

Israel licked its political wounds Monday after ending its siege of Yasser Arafat's compound, under White House pressure to avoid upsetting U.S. plans for possible war on Iraq.
What animal “licks its wounds?” A dog. What do Arabs call Jews? Monkeys, pigs, and dogs. Can you imagine Reuters publishing a photograph with the caption “Arafat licks his political wounds”?

A liberal would comment that my problem with the Iraqi pictures is that I don’t like seeing the human face of the country that the U.S. is planning to destroy. The premise of such a comment, “that the U.S. is planning to destroy Iraq” is faulty. The U.S. is interested in regime change in Iraq, not in killing Iraqis.

I have no problem with the photographs. I would run them with the caption: “Human Shields: these poor people are endangered because their leader won’t abide by arms inspections that he agreed to after being defeated on a battlefield of his own making.”

I would also add a few pictures of American children, pretty girls, and old people with this caption: “These people are endangered by a dictator who is obsessed with obtaining a nuclear weapon, who has used weapons of mass destruction on civilians in the past, who hates their country, and who has ties with terrorists.” 


Monday, September 30, 2002
  6:17 AM

What if?
President Al Gore's speech to the nation, September 20, 2001.

 


  5:54 AM

John Hawkins over at Right Wing News has posted some great quotes from Ann Coulter's new book Slander. Here's one:
Here the country had finally given liberals a war against fundamentalism and they don't want to fight it. They would have, except it would put them on the same side as the United States.
-- Ann Coulter, P. 5
 


Sunday, September 29, 2002
  2:46 PM

Turkish Police have seized 15 kilograms of weapons grade uranium that was being smuggled by two men in southeastern Turkey.
Link via Indepundit
Pop Quiz: What country boarders Turkey on the southeast?

Pop Quiz: What country manufactured the material?

Part of the discussion among bloggers has been whether this material was a sufficient quantity to manufacture a bomb. Glenn Reynolds believes that it was.

N.Z. Bear, after some excellent online research, agrees with some qualifications:

But it [15 kilograms of highly enriched uranium] is apparently just barely enough for a weapon using the tricky implosion-sphere design that isn't sure to work without prior testing.
It matters little whether this one shipment would have been enough to make a device. Rather, how much highly enriched uranium has Saddam already received through this or other channels? Any cop involved in preventing smuggling of any kind can tell you that the shipments stopped represent a small fraction of the shipments made.

Thankfully, highly enriched uranium is still a rare commodity in the world. Keeping a low profile while attempting to smuggle this material would be a lot harder than in a drug smuggling operation. But I think the “tip of the iceberg” principle is sound. It now has to be assumed Saddam has the sufficient fissile material to make a nuclear device.

We’ve been told that Saddam would require only six months to achieve a nuclear device if he obtains sufficient “fissile” material. Our biggest problem: we don’t even know when the six months got started.

This changes everything. Bush should not wait for a UN resolution. He should not wait for Congress to act. Bush should attack immediately.

UPDATE: The nuclear material seized "turned out to be hundreds of grams, a fraction of the initial estimate [of 15 kilograms]."
 


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