Saturday, August 28, 2004

Sunday Update: Steyn on the President holding 'all the aces'

Radically Conservative

Arthur Chrenkoff doesn't like the term neo-conservative, but he sure as anything is prepared to defend its principles. Faced with flashpoints like Fallujah he'd have us remember two understandings: that the end-goal is harmony through reasonable political settlement, and that some people respond to reasonable overtures with utter rejection. His thoughtful piece here.

Meanwhile Niall Ferguson has been parroting the Spectator/French/Matthew Parris line that Bush deserves to lose and it would be good for conservatives if he does. Captain Ed has some bones to pick with that theory.

My view is that Bush is not nearly as weak as Ferguson would need him to be to fit his theory. He's certainly far more coherent than John Major was (a parallel between Major and Bush is the central plank of Niall's argument), and he's achieved vastly more than Major ever did. Bush has ideas, whereas Major had nostrums. Bush is patriotic whereas Major had an absurd fantasy of Englishness. Major created his own problems, like the ERM, or Maastricht which radically restricted Britain's political autonomy, whereas Bush has had to deal with 9/11- the biggest challenge imaginable (to the economy as well as the military) and has still found time to re-allign the debate on Kyoto in favour of ditching it. Much of what has followed 9/11 has been attempting to ride the shockwaves while going out to defend America.

It's basically Bush's determined leadership that has offended people left, right and centre, not any perceived ineptitude. He's recognised the need to change the basis of international relations, and the US too. Consequently he's upset a lot of applecarts, as he needed to do, and made a lot of people less comfortable, all the way from foreign despots to liberal-conservative pundits.

True, there are arguments he hasn't gone far enough on some occasions, but these are mostly specious because Bush has made enemies by being radical, so there's no way that people who already have cold feet could stomach him upsetting even more people through being utterly ruthless. Such people tend to be like John Kerry vis a vis the Swift Vets- they're all for bringing it on until, suddenly, they want make it stop.

Brave people take the Chrenkoff line, and stick to it.

Norman Podhoretz (30, 000 words- great Sunday reading) made what I consider the best statement of Bush's approach, and explains why it's right.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Deserves an Award

I've previously mentioned Patterico in despatches for services against media bias. I can't decide whether it ought to be a Purple Heart (you have to go through the pain barrier against big media) or a Silver Star this time around as he forces the LA Times to print a correction in their characterisation of the Swiftboat vets as not including anyone who served on Kerry's boat. Steve Gardner begs to differ, as did Patterico with real success, eventually.

Friendly to the French

In light of my recent negative references to the French- such as linking to Larry's comic evisceration of French military history- I felt a little balancing was in order. If there's anything to which I'm over-partial it's bashing the French; but like any addiction part of the trouble is that there seems to be no alternative: their dreams are idle (EU rivalry to US), their boasts empty (le multi polar world), their actions selfish (Iraq, Rwanda, Mad Cow Disease)- and they always get away still being regarded as sophisticated and charming (see: responses of everyone the world over, as soon as they cool down).

Brett Stephens sets about an apologia for this sorry bunch of... pardon, for the French- and in so doing analyses the overblown rhetoric of the EU.

One point he picks up is a recent hyperbolical publication from the European Council, the big cheese of Euro-affairs. Mark Steyn obviously had discussions with Stephens about this- and I have to say I find his conclusions stronger. Steyn wrote about it ten days ago.

I think Stephens skates over what it means to have a truly selfish foreign policy. In one sense you can envy that; in another I tend to think that what goes around comes around.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

An Epitaph on the Heyday of the Left:

'it was easier to let the old blowhard yak away and just nod occasionally.' - Mark Steyn on John Forbes Kerry.

Tres Amusant

Here are two satires from the Right (are there any real satires from the left? Sign of the times perhaps). Larry manages never to be predictable because he's got a slightly, ah, complex personality: you never know which Larry you're gonna get. Today he was celebrating the glorious hospitality of la Fwance. Meanwhile, Larry would I am sure have a lot in common (spelling included) with this blogger, who believes that The Iraq War Was Wrong, and says so, frequently.

Abu Ghraib: the BBC's idee fixee.

Watching Newsnight on the Tuesday night presented me with an interesting comment from Dr James Schlesinger, Abu Graib enquiry chairman. In response to a leading question from a whining Kirsty Wark suggesting that senior figures should lose their jobs over the prison scandal, he said

'I think that is probably an expectation of the BBC, it is not our expectation.'

Could there be a better indictment of the BBC than to say they are utterly predictable? At any rate it would seem the BBC were proud of that exchange, because the transcript of that particular interview was readily available at the Newsnight Site.

From analysis of that I could confirm my feeling that out of eight questions asked, six directly attempted to elicit a response calling into question the future of senior officials, one insinuated that Schlesinger was being diplomatic in not doing so, and the other could be described as functional, if pushy. The interview was useless except to satisfy the BBC appetite for accusing the Bush administration.

To me as a viewer, the only interesting things were those that Schlesinger took care to emphasise of his own accord- such as to make a radical distinction between the day and the night shifts at Abu Ghraib. I have heard so much stemming from the BBC's obsession with responsibility lying at senior levels that it is superfluous to add to it- which they continue to do in this article at BBConline.

Admittedly the further reporting relates to the release of another report, by General Fay, but the idee fixee is unmistakably pursued, with the BBC enlisting Democratic support: ' '"Harry Truman had that sign on the desk and it said, 'The buck stops here,'" Mr Kerry said. ' (fatuously, groping and failing to find his gravit- ass once more).

The American Thinker provides a neat summary from which a clear inference is possible that the BBC in its coverage of this (as it is on many world issues) has become an echo chamber for Democratic rhetoric.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Bonus WMD special (don't get too excited) : weapons of selective destruction, 'twould appear.

Letters, Letters, Letters.

One of the things I appreciate so much about the internet is the availability of so many letters. Print space is cheap (relatively), so it's possible to collect great archives of material, canvassing many viewpoints- possibly referring to just one subject. It's an almost existential thing, drawing on so many experiences of similar matters so closely assembled together. Almost as revolutionary as Hamlet reading from a book in the 17th century Shakespeare play.

This letters page from Mark Steyn's site includes some of the best analysis of Kerry's stories that you'll find anywhere. The internet encourages people to write since they know their efforts are likely to see the light of day- at least for a significant number of readers (significant in terms or a) who you want to read your stuff, and b) the kind of numbers that excite you).

This letter though, on the delightful Michelle Malkin's site, is superb- saying things I've been waiting to hear but failed to hear from mainstream press or even online pundits, like this:

' If one of the men I served with was running for President, I would be extremely proud. If there was any way I could support him for President, I would. The bonds that are formed in combat are special. They are strong. For the men that served in Kerry's unit to state that he is unfit for command cannot and should not be brushed off as "partisan politics." It is not a "Republican vs. Democrat", or "conservative vs. liberal" issue. They aren't doing it for money. It is personal. The Swift Boat Vets are men who came to know John Kerry in the crucible of war and saw things in John Kerry that are so disturbing, that they cannot sit quietly.'

The Centrality of the Vet., and the media mufflers

John O' Sullivan has a good analysis of why the Swifties are going to haunt Kerry till the end. His on the money conclusion:

' Kerry's testimony, given at a time when the Democrats were fiercely anti-war, was a large stepping stone to his present eminence. But the contradictions of being a war hero and an anti-war hero have finally caught up with him. That is why the swift boat veterans will ignore pleas from Bush or anyone else to halt their campaign.'

Contradiction is one of the central weaknesses of modern life, and Kerry's life has really entered into the spirit of it .

He's still at it, says Captain Ed in a piece which reminded me of this from P.J. O'Rourke, which came out very quietly in the Weekly Standard before the brouhahas began. It was convincing even at that time of passivity and relative ignorance of Kerry.

Meanwhile, this well exposed sleight of history is indicative of the quality of Kerry's defence, offered by his friends in the big media.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

David Blair (a Zimbabwean) offers one of the best accounts I've come across of the conflict in Darfur. Although he says it's a mistake to see the conflict in terms of an ethnic war, he does say that the Jangaweed were looked on as allies by the Government because they were more 'Arabised'. Seems similar to how Hitler thought of the British- being a little more German than other nations.

Religion not mentioned, though when it comes to the justification for murderous acts there must be some excuse circulating among the people in Islamic Republic of Sudan. What they're saying in the mosques would be interesting to know.

Now They're Being Stupid

The BBC take their skewed reportage of the subject of the Swiftboat vet. allegations even further away from balance with this article about President Bush's response to the advertisements.

It may change, but I'll quote the introduction as it stands (and I've saved the original):

'US President George W Bush has praised the military record of his election rival, John Kerry, and called a halt to unofficial negative advertising.'

Surely there's been some mistake? Bush does not have any power to have 'called a halt' to 527 advertising, as has been clear from the preponderance of ads which work against the President. It would be illegal for him to coordinate them in any way. It certainly does look like the BBC are trying to assert the Kerry line that the Swiftboat vets, all 254 of them against Kerry's 13, are Republican stooges, and that Bush should MAKE THEM STOP! - or he'll cry.

[After drafting this first thing this morning, I noticed Chrenkoff's very similar observation, which I posted at another place. Just for the record tho', I post what I observed. There are other niggles from the BBC article too, like why absurd criticisms of Bush such as this one-' "The moment of truth came and went, and the president still couldn't bring himself to do the right thing," John Edwards, Mr Kerry's running-mate, said'.- should be aired when the detail of the Swiftboatmen's accusations and the implications of them have passed unnoted by the BBC. The BBC even sign off with a niggle, saying that 'Mr Kerry's team has released a new set of ads in which the men who served under him on a naval vessel in Vietnam pay tribute to his bravery.'- when the bald fact is that one of the men who served under Kerry is actually part of the anti-Kerry swiftvets campaign- so it ought more properly to be 'some of the men' who served under Kerry.

When you have criticisms of fact like this to make, you just don't get around to saying that the Beeb haven't pointed out the incredible numerical disadvantage that Kerry is suffering from- with over 250 Swifties against and only a baker's dozen in his favour. This piece of information is probably the most important thing for the general public to understand- it's not some six-of-one and half-a-dozen-of-the-other shenanigan- it's, as near as could be imagined, Kerry's nemesis. Or at least it shapes up that way. Plus, according to searches I have made, the BBC has not made a mention of the Kerry/Cambodia exploding myth, which just confirms their dismissal of the whole Swiftboats genre. That's something they seem to feel they can get away with given their ambiguous position as international media. This makes an interesting contrast. Or this. Or this.

All examples of the BBC's impartiality at work.]

Monday, August 23, 2004

Simply Outstanding Op-Ed on Iraq in the New York Times that I couldn't resist posting here, even though the Instapundit got there first. The soldier-writer just makes all the points I've mulled over myself, and then some.

It's All Relative.

The BBC sets out boldly to define slavery and identify its hotspots, yet can't resist highlighting the sins of the Great Satan in the process. This map equates the US with Mauritania and Sudan- a proper post-modern muddle that is a recipe for lamenting loudly and doing nothing (scroll up for article) where it matters.

Meanwhile they give another criminal ('Mr Sheet') chance to dissemble about his tortured Darfur region:

"We are Muslims, this is against our code of honour."

To which the follow-up question ought to be, aren't the local blacks Muslims too? Needless to say it isn't asked.

An excellent breakdown of the charges from the Swifties that face Sen. Kerry, who can't decide whether he wants them to bring-it-on or make-it-stop (I think it's clear he must have voted against them before he voted for them- clear I tell you.) from Matthew Continetti.

People seem to view the Christmas-in-Cambodia story, which Kerry promoted and has been discredited, as a kind of journalistic safehouse where heavies can't knock on your virtual door in the early hours of the morning. I think it would be possible to go much further, and I think it would be great for America if they do, but maybe the US electorate will join up those dots anyway. Besides, it's not over yet, and Kerry's men are scurrying.

Update: There'll be scurry over this. Inept or... what?

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Tangled Web

What was the line? 'O what a tangled web we weave/ When first we practise to deceive' ?

Kerry has stood up in 2004 as a legatee of a myth about Vietnam and the Cold War that has shaped the international political landscape for the world's remaining superpower for the last thirty years. If you're one of those conservatives from outside the US (like me), and have thought the US lacking in discipline or determination, than it can probably be traced to Vietnam.

That's not because what happened in Vietnam was so monumental- significant though US casualties were they weren't close to, say, the Second World War- but because America has been labouring under a generation that excused a great deal based on the 'searing' experience of that war, and Sept. 11th proved that the post-Vietnam sleepwalk had the consequence of unreadiness.

Kerry sought again (almost thoughtlessly, almost instinctively) to wrap himself in the tangled web of the icon of Vietnam that he helped create.

Now conservative America sees an opportunity to untangle parts of the web- oh, and by the way prove that untanglement at the ballot box. Capt. Ed would be exhibit A to prove my point; he's been following with the utmost diligence everything relating to Kerry's Vietnam record and his subsequent use of it. Tom Maguire's good too. So's Blackfive. They're interested in detail, reality, and the ring of truth.

What's the significance of Kerry's service now? For conservatives 'now' is about overcoming the unreadiness that allowed problems as big as Sept 11th and related historical trends to arise, and becoming ready to unravel them: Kerry's record and his toying with it embodies the leadership challenge, the leadership deficit if you like, facing America.

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