Wednesday, February 05, 2003
This just in...
The New Republic gives a thumbs-up to the Powell speech.

Why We Fight

Stop the presses! A pro-war editorial in The Guardian, the British loony left's paper of record.

I must give credit to Julie Burchill, who has always marched to the beat of her own drummer. Here she picks apart all the usual idiocies of the anti-war crowd ("No Blood For Oil!"). You might fault her ongoing love affair with such enlightened, freedom-loving liberals like Che and the Vietcong, but the rest of her logic is impeccable.

The Powell Speech

On the plus side, I thought Powell presented his case fairly forcefully. He touched on all the major issues, including the weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq's connections to Al-Qaida. I especially liked this intercepted conversation between two Iraqi Republican Guard officers:
Let's review a few selected items of this conversation. Two officers talking to each other on the radio want to make sure that nothing is misunderstood:

"Remove. Remove."

The expression, the expression, "I got it."

"Nerve agents. Nerve agents. Wherever it comes up."

"Got it."

"Wherever it comes up."

"In the wireless instructions, in the instructions."

"Correction. No. In the wireless instructions."

"Wireless. I got it."

Why does he repeat it that way? Why is he so forceful in making sure this is understood? And why did he focus on wireless instructions? Because the senior officer is concerned that somebody might be listening.

Well, somebody was.
(The full text of Powell's speech can be found here).

In general, it's heartening to see that the Sec State has finally gotten with the program.

On the down side, I have a feeling that Powell was preaching to the choir. He didn't come out with anything majorly dramatic. Saddam and the useful idiots bolstering his regime will doubtlessly claim that most of this evidence was faked by the CIA and the NSA.

And I suspect that nothing in the speech will prevent the hypocritical weenies on the Security Council -- France and Russia, both of whom have economic ties to the villain of Tikkrit and both of whom are trying to inflate their influence in this whole conflict -- from demanding that the inspection regime continue indefinitely.

In short, the whole idiotic show of trying to disarm Saddam by peaceful means continues. This speech is just another necessary station on the road to a war which many of us here hope will come soon.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
The Memorial Service

Understated, austere, and very moving, IMHO. Bush really seems to have found his gravitas as an orator in troubled times.

It's just a damned shame that the times are such as to give him a lot of practice.

Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys

I've been collecting a lot of articles lately about the French. I keep meaning to use them, but more important stuff keeps coming up (elections, national tragedies, etc).

And yet, I feel it's important to skewer the Frogs as mercilessly and as often as possible, for they are the most loathsome amongst Western nations. Yes, I know there's this stereotypical American attitude towards the French (rude, don't bathe, like Jerry Lewis). But my enmity comes as a citizen of a country which has had to suffer representative after Gallic representative coming over here to sniff down their noses and point their fingers at us while wholeheartedly embracing all the terrorist-friendly countries/entities around us (the Palestinians, the Syrians, and the Lebanese). I mean, nothing fills my heart with more glee than to get a lecture from Monsieur Chirac about Israeli behavior while he attends an official event with the leader of Hizbullah.

And all this from a country whose historical double-dealing in this region directly created the quagmire that is Lebanon.

France's recent behavior with respect to the Iraq situation is beyond contempt as well, especially since I get the feeling that after putting up every roadblock imaginable to ousting Saddam, they'll jump on the bandwagon at the very last moment to ensure that their own interests are preserved.

Herewith, then, a small bunch of articles organized around different reasons for hating the French:

  1. The whole "Axis of Weasels" thing.
    Europe is slowly getting with the program to fix Iraq. Everyone, that is, except for France and Germany. Now, I can almost understand Germany. Herr Schroder is a grade-C politician who has proven himself to be a lousy Chancellor. But Schroder knows he can gain cheap political points with his anti-Americanism, so he milks it for all its worth.
    The French position is a little more compled. The Frogs have beem pushing for the inspection regime to continue long after it's become a sad farce. (The article comes courtesy of NRO's Jonah Goldberg, who gets credit for taking a Groundskeeper Willie comment about the French being "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" and and adding it to the lexicon of political science.) On the face of it, this just seems like the standard French response to evil dictators, but this may not be 100% true. Which brings us to reason number two...

  2. They're not appeasers, just hypocrites.
    Yes, France is playing this self-righteous peace-at-any-cost game. However, as more than one commentator has pointed out, this is more like peace-as-long-as-it-doesn't-cost-us-anything. France's reluctance to get rid of Saddam seems to have more to do with fears they'll lose out on a couple of oil contracts than any haughty moral position.
    The French havealways played this game. The current alliance with the Krauts smacks of political muscle-flexing, an attempt by the two main continental powers of "Old Europe" to gain supremacy of the burgeoning supra-national European entity. When push comes to shove, you know France will get on board just in time for their sins to be forgiven.
    And, while we're on the subject of hypocrisy...

  3. Let's talk about their human rights moralizing.
    The French love to talk about human rights. Actually, they like to scold everyone else about human rights, since the French are the paragons of enlightened virtue when it comes to the subject. And yet, when you look at it, their human rights record is as bad as anyone's. You don't even have to go back as far as Algeria. The French are still mucking around their former colonies (as this wonderful photo taken from a demonstration in the Ivory Coast testify).
    The Frogs have been very busy working their diplomatic magic in our region. But behind their one-sided, unreserved support for the Palestinians lies a national penchant for anti-Semitism which, along with anti-Semitic attacks by Muslims, is growing so prominent that there's been a marked increase in emigration of French Jews to Israel.
I could go on, but I'd still be here tomorrow, typing. In a perfect world, the French would recognize their place as a has-been nation whose ability to influence world affairs reached its shelf life decades ago. Unfortunately, we just have to put up with them as they are. And keep posting the articles pointing out their foibles as they come.

Monday, February 03, 2003
Oriana vs. the Muslims

Tough-dame Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci has resurfaced recently with The Rage and the Pride, a scathing attack on Muslim extremism which she believes threatens the core values of Western society. The book caused an uproar in France -- surprise, surprise -- where it was condemned as racist propaganda.

Fallaci is a fascinating character. She was an Italian resistance fighter at the age of 16. Throughout the '60s and '70s she travelled to many of the world's hot spots, getting shot in the process. She's interviewed people ranging from Clark Gable to Henry Kissinger (whom she left quaking in his boots). Currently she's fighting breast cancer and keeping one eye open for the Muslims she's managed to enrage. All while keeping up a two-pack-a-day habit.

The NY Observer article (link above) is a hoot. Also, check out the Q&A piece from this week's NY Times Magazine.

Sunday, February 02, 2003

I think it's safe to say that Israel and the U.S. were mourning side by side today. We watched the pictures over and over again, the Columbia turning into a falling star and breaking apart. The pictures of the astronauts, with the focus here on our local hero. And the feeling that our one little bit of happiness lately got snuffed out.

The news channels here have plenty of experience handling tragedies and this one got the full treatment: the massive full-cover headlines in the papers, the lengthy special newscasts, the interviews with the family.

The tragedy even has a song that will be forever linked with it: "Ha'tishma Koli" ("Will You Hear My Voice?"), a pretty tune by the 1960s group The High Windows which Ilan Ramon's wife, Rona, had broadcast to him a few days ago on Columbia. The lyrics go something like "Will you hear my voice so far away from me?/Will you hear my voice where ever you may be?"

Personally, the thing that really broke me up was watching the interview last night with Ramon's father, Eliezer Wolferman. The father is a Holocaust survivor in his '80s who was watching the shuttle's descent as part of a live news broadcast. He faced the press yesterday with such a display of calm dignity that you just wanted to reach out and hug him.

More than one person today commented on the irony that the shuttle carrying the first Israeli astronaut started falling apart over Palestine, TX. To me it seems like more evidence that God is a comedian, and a third-rate one at that.

Tomorrow we'll probably start moving on, back to the coalition-building and the war and the suicide bombers. Today, we've taken a break from all that to sit around with a rotten feeling in our guts.