Saturday, July 31, 2004

Possibly the best thumbnail sketch of the anti-Coalition in Iraq.

A commenter on the BBC's Arabic forums is reported as part of a series of notations by Iraq the Model:

“I closely follow the news about suicide attacks and the operations that target Americans and Iraqis because I was about to become part of this game.
The suicide attacks are performed by Arab fighters who’s first goal is heaven while the brains who plan for these operations have deep strategic goals but they will fail because Iraqis have recognized and hated this game. As for small bombs and IEDs; these are planted by a mixture of ex-criminals (hired right now) and intelligence elements from some countries and also those who were privileged before the change in Iraq”
Shahin Abdul Sattar-Baghdad.

(Very)Concerning Kerry

Having read Kerry's speech I was deeply unimpressed compared with the kind of a**-covering 'soft-hands' social-democrat speechmaking that Tony Blair comes up with regularly when it counts.

There were holes in Kerry's so-called tough talking defence policies that any non-Democrat would seek to explore.

When Kerry pledges to the armed forces that 'You will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.' you want to ask him if he expects to be able to anticipate at all times what 'winning the peace' will involve. Until he knows, presumably, his hands will not act.

When Sen Kerry says 'I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President.', you just want to say, yeah, what about the bit in between those two?

The classic, meanwhile, is where

'And we need to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us.'

is closely followed by

'I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security.'

You are left with 'pre-emption yes', 'pre-emption, no', and 'pre-emption maybe'. I say 'maybe' concerning the last phrase because it's not enough to say that you will give no nation or international institution a veto over US national security- no-one expects that, even of Kerry. What they're worried about is that schmoozing with the French might take the place of action until it's too late.

When Kerry says 'We will add 40,000 active duty troops not in Iraq, but to strengthen American forces that are now overstretched, overextended, and under pressure.' it sounds as though these will be assembled in a grand 'horse's door' formation that Kerry will be able to shut when the terrorist horse has bolted.

When Kerry says 'As President, I will fight a smarter, more effective war on terror. We will deploy every tool in our arsenal: our economic as well as our military might; our principles as well as our firepower.' I feel convinced of nothing except that he is adopting the scatter-gun approach to policy making- never mind the quality, feel the width.

Obviously the Andrew Sullivan answer to the points above would be that when in power Kerry will have a different demographic to deal with than the one he addressed in his speech, since he will have moderate Democrats and the Republicans to negotiate with regarding the war on terror. Unfortunately, in the realpolitics of public utterances, some of the things Kerry has said cannot be unsaid, even if you're Mister Nuance himself. These holes of contradiction are not only interesting for friendly British observers and undecided US voters: the men of terror will be fascinated.

On the above concerns, and others, Arnold Kling has gone to work. (via Glenn)

Belmont Club also gets into whether Kerry would act pre-emptively- and decides no- at least, and I think this is crucial, not effectively.

Friday, July 30, 2004

Icing the Cake

Normally I am quite prepared to hear what Justin Webb has to say for the BBC. He's not, I would say, at all right of centre on politics (meaning he's mostly left), but he has a little no-nonsense something about him which separates him from the other leftist fudgemakers at the BBC, such a Matt Frei, Tom Carver and Paul Reynolds. He has some writing ability.

However, it would seem that at the Beeb's Democratic fudge-cake festival Webb was singled out to ice the cake by analysing the senator's big speech, so he's produced an analysis whose message is unequivocal for a Kerry-backer, yet a measured if positive thumbs up for Kerry to a sceptic.

Webb has been one of the few BBC'ers to admit that Kerry's lack of appeal may be due to defects in him and not the defect of middle America, yet in this article Webb shrewdly sidesteps his analysis. Intending to be supportive of the hoped-for Kerry bounce, he says:

'I have seen that people hope that he wins. I have seen people applaud him, and I have seen people listen carefully to his speeches.

But I have never seen a surge of heartfelt adoration. I did see that in the convention hall on Thursday night.'

The effect is to imply some kind of seminal moment in Sen. Kerry's campaign, yet if you look closely Webb has really only said that the Convention's fevered partisanship would magick a silk purse from a sow's ear.

Here's where we need a little Steynian antidote:

'All the star speakers through the week were the equivalents of those bits of the rocket that boost you up into space and then fall away, leaving just the little capsule up there. And, who knows, if they boosted him up high enough, maybe nobody would notice just how little there is to John Kerry's little capsule.'

It's an analysis Webb can't quite escape himself, with statements like

'It was a very successful night for John Kerry.'

raising the obvious question, would a 'very successful night for John Kerry' be a very successful night for a decent candidate?

I think Webb is angling to say that John Kerry is a decent candidate, though, which is something that the left-leaners are extremely keen to have.

Where he gets really dodgy is in his comparison of John Kerry's campaign with that of John Kennedy in 1960. This is something that would really rally the wilting Democrats, but it's so false that it cannot bear the weight of Webb's assertion that

'The Democrats are reliving the year 1960. The similarities are incredible.'

Just of the top off my head, Kennedy was young whereas Kerry is old; Kennedy is fresh whereas Kerry is jaded; Kennedy charismatic while Kerry is, er, not. Meanwhile, the most sleazy politician in US politics of this generation is the Democrat who made the best speech and the biggest splash of anyone at the conventon: William Jefferson Clinton.

Some comparison, Justin. So thin, in fact, that Webb has to go back to covering the Kerry posterior for the rest of the article:

'One of the problems that he has had - partly because he is obviously a thoughtful man - is that he often seems to be taking two sides on a lot of issues...

Mr Kerry is a classic politician who chooses his words carefully to suit the audience. That is not always a good thing.'

So, one may ask, what was Clinton if not a 'classic politician who chooses his words carefully'? Yet Clinton has never been spreadeagled in the public consciousness as a flip-flopper, even after two terms. A two-timer yes, a flip-flopper, no.

The thinness of Webb's conviction about Kerry recurs throughout, such as when he says of Kerry,

'He said he knew what to do in Iraq. I wonder how many people's eyebrows will have been raised by that assertion.'

In the flow of the article this is intended to be positive, yet taken in isolation it is, er, questionable, even nuanced.

Finally, Webb urges himself, like the Democrat convention, to a positive conclusion, but even after busting a gut for senator nuance,
his conclusion has a sub-Brandoesque irony:

'Mr Kerry is a contender. I do not think he is any more than that...

Mr Kerry will make a fight of it, and he will take the fight to President Bush.'

Take the fight for the Presidency to President Bush and drop it at his feet, methinks.

Thursday, July 29, 2004


So, a House of Commons report suggests that 'Afghanistan might "implode" with "terrible consequences" if more international troops are not sent'

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan a poll says

'64 percent say the country is heading in the right direction.'


'64 percent say they rarely or never worry about their personal safety, while under the Taliban only 36 percent felt that way.'

In the light of this contrast, how are we to view the same MP's report's equally gloomy conclusions on Iraq?

Hmm- unless, of course, you don't get to make the contrast because no-one reports the news. Considering the BBC gave a high profile to the Commons' report, you'd think they'd make the effort when the poll comes from a specifically pro-Democrat polling group.

Nope- not in the script it would seem.

I have a feeling that what Craig Charney says of the Afghans his group polled is a very telling comment, not on the coalition military who have done what they can in the circumstances- often very well- but on the defeatist media and the infectious anti-war mentality:

'"Many people said, 'Thank you for asking,' " he said. "No one's ever asked."

On the one hand, questions never asked, and on the other circumstances that appear to western eyes to improve, if at all, at intolerably slow rates. Something tells me many of our people never wanted to be doing this.

It takes Mark Steyn, I suppose, to tell these guys to buck up and get on with it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Couple of items.

Following up yesterday's post, this TechCentral article struck me as interesting- talking about how to deal with the militaristic character of some Mosques and their authorities. (via Glenn)

Meanwhile, I found it most amusing when the nice doggie gave Caroline a nip on the backside -thanks to Max.

Also- this was the first time I really appreciated an Anne Coulter article. I've just never been drawn in- until she was a reject. Now I get it.

Beeb to Dems: 'We'll start your bandwagon'.

Well, they'll do what they can anyway.

After all, with Kerry sagging in the polls, it's up to the troopers at the BBC to point out that 'Respondents said they did not know enough about Mr Kerry's policies.'

When it comes to Kerry's supporting cast, such as Terese, the Beeb's supportiveness can be relied on:

'She has caused further embarrassment with an interview conducted in the 1970s, unearthed by her enemies, in which she said she did not trust Edward Kennedy, now her husband's chief backer, our correspondent says.'

Those pesky 'enemies', grubbing around in the dirt of history for irrelevant details when they could be doing something more useful, like investigating Bush's service record.

Alternatively, the supportiveness might merely mean euphemising awkward facts, such as this about Terese Heinz-Kerry:

'she is not the easiest person to sell to middle America'

Elsewhere we find the BBC on form (check the positive adjective count on this puff-piece for Clinton) with unattributed statements like the following:

'The Republicans and President George W Bush favour concentrated wealth and power, more unilateral action, pursuing a vision that is "far to the right of most Americans." '

or suggesting that the Republicans are really the nasty party:

'the Republican Party machinery continued working flat out to try to counter their opponents' message.'-

for which you might be anticipating some supporting evidence, but no.

Or, and this is my favourite circumlocution, trying to find a way of making Kerry seem a decent candidate while still praising his running mate Edwards:

'The senator for North Carolina is considered a charismatic speaker.

He is seen as a good vice-presidential choice for Mr Kerry, who has sometimes been considered as lacking in that department, correspondents say.
' (heh- emboldenings and italics mine)

All in all a few good days shilling, I'd say.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Know Thy Enemy: Al Quaradhawi speaks (again).

Well, we all knew he was an Jew hater for the hell of it- though I didn't receive a response from my email to the BBC where I observed they were softening Al-Qaradhawi's ideology for public consumption- but he goes about confirming that in this Memri translation of an Arabic newspaper analyis of comments from his regular broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

'The iniquity of the Jews, as a community, is obvious and apparent. Let me explain: The West, I can say about some of them [i.e., Westerners] who are iniquitous, and others who are not iniquitous. And it is possible. But iniquity on the part of the Jews is great iniquity, grave iniquity, iniquity that is incomparable and overt. Therefore, when it was suggested to me that Jews would be participating in the dialogue in the upcoming interview, I rejected this. I said no, we should not conduct a dialogue with these [people] while their hands are stained with our blood.'

Now, such is my Dhimmi mindset I'm almost inclined to gratitude that Al Qaradhawi saw fit to say that some of us westerners are 'not iniquitous', and that his objection to the Jews relates to their "hands... stained with... blood"- implying an act they could atone for- but no, I'm actually not grateful to this bloody idealogue for anything at all.

As the Iraqi emigre writer Hassan Assad puts it neatly in a must-read feature about Red Ken and Al-Qaradhawi from the same Memri report, 'he dissimulates'.

In the case of the passage above it is necessary to unpack a bit of Al-Qaradhawi's religious perspective. But first, I observe that Jewish iniquity is 'incomparable' with Western iniquity- when you might have thought that because Muslims have been killed in Afghanistan and even the holiest of Iraqi cities by US and other invading Western troops the Jews ought not to be so different. This is because Islam agrees with the other two faiths that the Jews were specially favoured by God- after all, Abraham and Moses etc. were Jews. Islam also believes that Jesus was just a man and not the son of God- so the Christian led/based Westerners are barking up the wrong tree, as dogs are inclined to do I suppose. The point is that the Westerners/Christians are misled, the Jews rebellious, and rebellion is qualitatively worse than foolishness, so Jewish iniquity is 'incomparable'.

For Al-Qaradhawi, the Jews in occupying the Muslim land without being Muslims is where they are delighting in their rebellion, and the blood of Muslims seals that iniquity- hence he is implacable.

That's where the religious outlook and the political ideology of Al-Qaradhawi and his many followers are united.

Memri, incidentally, noticed how the BBC's coverage of Al Qaradhawi promulgated his line nicely for him as well:

'According to the BBC, he is reported to have said, "Do these people know me? If they are really after the truth why don't they try and find it instead of this venomous media campaign?" '


Tim Blair meanwhile has picked up on another alliance between Islamic dogma and the far left from his perennial bete noir Margo Kingston. Many comments follow after Margo's little slip:

"the fundamentalist Zionist lobby controls politics and the media in the US and Australia"

Just one of those phrases that slips out occasionally by accident, I'm sure.

Monday, July 26, 2004

The (Un)conservative enemy:

This is a Beeb-bash-based blog, and it is so because the values of the BBC- self-vaunting, coercive, politically correct- are so much to my mind the kernel of what is wrong, and what could get worse, with the media that shapes our society- and it's good to say so!

The Beeb though is only a part of the problem with the media; a vital part, but just a part.

That's why I am so impressed by this profound entry in Melanie Phillips' diary. She carves through the morasse of contradictory, vacuous opinion and in the process really sorts out some of the opinionati.

One of the targets (the main one) is Andrew Sullivan, whose latest article for the Times is a model of weasiliness.

I so wanted to write to Sullivan to say what I thought of his decision to back Kerry after spouting a whole lot of songs from the Bush song-book for the last four years, but I backed out when the message was written because it seemed mean-spirited. It was accurate, and not cruel, but it didn't sound nice. Melanie manages to nail him nicely:

'Sullivan is all over the place on the war: a faint-heart who, while ostensibly still supporting it, has nevertheless succumbed to the absurd and irrational propaganda of the anti-war mob.'

She rightly points out his complacency, and I could scarcely believe my eyes when I read Sullivan's opinion that

'Nobody seriously believes that Bush will start another war.'

With these words Sullivan proclaims what is utterly contrary to his stated views: it was GWB's war, not Saddam's. How can a person be in favour of war per se unless they are tyrannical? I mean, pick your cause for war with Saddam- breaking sanctions, supporting terrorists, transgressing resolutions, never completing his original surrender from his previous aggression etc etc- but don't say the war originated with GWB unless you have only personal emnity against him.

When I hear, as probably I will from Sullivan himself or his new democratic friends, how a torrent of vitriol has poured down on his head because of this principled stand- I'll perhaps re-read Melanie's argument and be safe in the knowledge that the central criticisms are powerful and don't rely on offensive name-calling. Still, I anticipate finding him doing a camp impression of Ali G.; something like 'Is is because I is gay?', in the not-too-distant future.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

It's Sunday, and since for a considerable portion of the world this is a day of reflection, it seems appropriate that Archbishop Rowan Williams has made a spiritual statement in accepting an invitation to mark Sept. 11th this year by speaking to an Islamic University in Cairo- an institution that has made many a controversial entry at LGF.

Whether he will be praising Islam as the report says I am not sure, but I bet that he will try (futilely) to ingratiate himself with the religion of suicide bombers. I also bet that the BBC, if they report his speech, will say he delivered a 'tough' message- I'd lay a tenner that exact word will be used- 'challenging' Islam to remain 'true' to its 'essential principles', principles shared by all 'people of faith'.

Just a guess of course.

Google Custom Search