Saturday, September 18, 2004

Journey from the Land of No

In her book Journey from the Land of No: a girlhood caught in revolutionary Iran, Roya Hakakian writes of her experiences as a Jewish girl growing up in Iran. Born in Iran in 1966, she witnessed the Islamic Revolution when she was twelve years old and left her native country five years later in 1984. She begins her book with a dedication.
Between 1982 and 1990 an unknown number of Iranian women political prisoners were raped on the eve of their executions by guards who alleged that killing a virgin was a sin in Islam.

This book is dedicated to the memory of those women.
A speech given by a female school monitor, installed after the Islamic revolution, given to Roya's classroom of Jewish schoolgirls demonstrates the regime's new attitudes towards women.
My dear sisters, daughters of our great revolution! It's now time for you to learn about the delicious topic of corporeal sin. Yes, my sisters. Young and innocent as you are in your pubescent splendor, you are also diabolical. Diabolical and no less. Duty compels me to warn you of the perniciousness you all possess. You do possess it and don't even know it. Abomination lurks beneath your innocence.

......In the West, in that superficial, artificial, morally corrupt country called America, where they know not of God, where they live by the rules of Satan, where they drink alcohol instead of water, consume an animal as filthy as a pig, and lead promiscuous lives, where women walk naked in the streets, fornicate in public, and conduct orgies in their homes ---- there, the headmasters train their students for insignificant trials, for an emergency such as fire. They conduct fire drills in their schools. But we! We, my sisters, daughters of our great revolution, we're not afraid of earthly threats. We fear only one fire: the eternal fire of hell.

Friday, September 17, 2004

The benefits of outsourcing

This report from the Mackinack Center for Public Policy helps put outsourcing job losses in perspective.

"According to a 2003 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, outsourcing delivers large and measurable benefits to the U.S. economy. It reduces costs for IT and other services by as much as 60 percent, keeping U.S. companies competitive in global markets, benefiting workers and shareholders alike. It stokes demand abroad for the export of U.S.-supplied computers, telecommunications hardware, software, and legal, financial, and marketing services. It returns profits to the United States from U.S.-owned affiliates abroad, and it allows U.S. companies to re-deploy workers in more productive jobs here at home. In fact, McKinsey calculates that every $1.00 spent on foreign outsourcing creates $1.12 to $1.14 of additional economic activity in the U.S. economy. Another study by Global Insights estimated the U.S. economy will be $124 billion larger in 2008 if outsourcing continues compared to no outsourcing."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Finding the elusive moderate Muslims

We need to distinguish moderate Muslims from the Muslim extremists, says Stephen Schwartz.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Toward a principled and pragmatic foreign policy

Often the debate over the 2003 American led Iraq war has come down to a supporter of the war saying "Hey, we got rid of a brutal dictator who tortured people and killed hundreds of thousands." The response from an opponent of the war is usually "We didn't go to war for human rights. We said there were WMD. There were none. And we can't go after every bad guy out there."

In order to sort this out, we need to start out with some first principles. First off, liberal democracies are morally superior to dictatorships. Let's just say that if a nation have a reasonably free press and allows its citizens to participate in the selection of its political leadership, that country fits the description. Second, human rights is central to America's foreign policy debate. If human rights didn't matter, the success or failure of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union wouldn't matter either, even if these regimes trampled over the human rights of their citizens. Third, there is good reason to believe that liberal democracies tend to not make war against other liberal democracies. So, while the advance of liberal democracy is often stated as a human rights goal, it also has national security implications.

In light of these principles, the justification for the war against Iraq looks awfully strong. Great Britain has nuclear weapons. But most Americans go to bed at night without fretting about it. This is because Great Britain is a liberal democracy. WMD possessed by Saddam's dictatorship was a different matter. Saddam used WMD against his own people, so it's not a stretch to think he would use them against Americans.

One liberal pundit joked that if America is going to start knocking off dictators, they should do so in alphabetical order. A conservative pundit responded that if America is going to pay the blood and treasure for toppling dictators, America should get to decide which dictators get toppled first. Personally, I think Iran's dictatorship is the one that most urgently needs attention and military action shouldn't be ruled out.

Possible Debate questions for Senator Kerry

These two columns pose some questions for Senator Kerry that might provide some interesting answers:

Twenty Questions for John Kerry to answer

Twenty MORE questions for John Kerry to answer

Here are some of them....

14. You maintain that public schools aren't adequately funded. The D.C. public schools spend approximately $13,000 per pupil — one of the highest levels in the nation — yet its students' academic performance is among the worst in the nation. Could you please explain why you oppose parental choice in education?

a. Given that pursuant to court order the Kansas City public schools spent one billion dollars with no discernable improvement in academic performance, what is your definition of "adequately funded"?

15. In your convention speech, you stated that every terrorist attack would be met with an immediate response and you've also stated that you would emphasize a law-enforcement approach to the fight against terrorism. This is identical to the pre-9/11 U.S. approach to terrorism. Could you please explain how a pre-9/11 approach to terrorism will prevent another 9/11?

a. Please describe the lessons you've learned from 9/11.

16. You've repeatedly criticized President Bush for "rushing to war." Since you've conceded that knowing what you know now you'd still authorize the war, precisely when would you have begun the Iraq war?

Russia joins forces with Israel

Now this is an interesting development:

"Lavrov met Israeli leaders last week and signed an accord meant to pave the way for a joint effort against Islamic insurgency groups.

Vasilyev and other Russian officials said such cooperation was already taking place. They said teams from both countries were arranging meetings in an effort meant to learn the lessons of the Chechen takeover of a high school in North Ossetia in late August. Nearly 400 people were killed in the hostage episode."

Sounds like the smart thing to do, considering how much experience Israel has in dealing with terrorist actions such as hijackings, car bombings, etc.

Off to the GOP Issues and Action Conference

This Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I'll be in Washington DC attending the GOP Issues and Action Conference. It promises to be a lot of fun. I'll take a lot of notes and will report back next week.

Speakers include G Gordon Liddy, Paul Weyrich, L Brent Bozell, and Grover Norquist. There will be receptions and policy analysis sessions, and briefings on how we're going to win this election! Wish me well and I'll have plenty to post next week.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Who will be the picks for State and Defense?

Remember how long it took President Bush to get his admin in place after the 2000 election dragged on for months during the endless recounts?

The 9/11 Commission has a solution. They have told Congress that the Presidential candidates should announce their State and Defense secretaries and national security adviser before the election so they can get security clearances and be ready to respond to terrorism as soon as the president takes office.

Without that, there will be a "very dangerous hiatus" between presidential administrations when no one is officially leading America's security forces, commission members Fred Fielding and Jamie Gorelick told a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

It will be interesting to see if Kerry complies, since he has called for implementing all of the commission's recommendations. It will also be interesting to see who his picks are for those two very important posts.

Monday, September 13, 2004

A Cold Warrior

I remember the exact moment it happened. I believe I was a junior in high school, which would place the event in the 1976/77 school year. Our English classes were set up so that just as in college, students had a series of classes to choose from each quarter. As I recall, most of the classes were literature. The class I chose for that fateful class was centered on totalitarianism. We read two or three books that quarter, but there was one that made a profound impact on me.

That book was "1984" by George Orwell. To this day I remember how profoundly I was struck by this work. Like everyone else who reads it, I was rooting for Winston Smith throughout the book. When he was utterly defeated by the overpowering might of the totalitarian state, I was devastated. It was not just that they had imprisoned him, or tortured him, that hit me. It was the success of their effort at mind control. By the end, Smith is not merely forced to cooperate, he willingly converts to the belief that Big Brother is good. He becomes a total convert to Ingsoc, the state ideology. It was this, then, that hit me the hardest.

As I said, I remember the exact moment that I finished the book. Before this event, politics, and especially the Cold War struggle against the Soviet Union, were abstractions. No more. "The Soviet Union must be destroyed" went through my mind again and again.

I was never taken in by those leftists who insist on seeing Orwell's work as an attack on the west, and in particular the United States. To be sure, we can see "Orwellian" speech in our daily lives, and we sometimes say that "Big Brother" is doing this or that in our country. But there was never any doubt in my mind that Orwell's masterpiece was primarily an attack on the totalitarian mind-control ideologies of his day; Soviet communism and German Nazism. We had defeated the latter, but the former remained a significant threat.

This began a life-long study of the world around me. Over the past twenty-five or so years I have read dozens if not hundreds of books on a variety of subjects. Initially my primary reading centered around military history and totalitarian ideologies, and indeed books on these subjects still make up the majority of my library.

It always seemed natural for me to be a political conservative. My parents were Republicans, and not being a rebellious type it was natural for me to follow in their footsteps. This, coupled with my anti-Soviet crusade, led me to the right.

I suppose if I had been born twenty years earlier the chances of my going to either party were about equal. Up until the late '60s the Democrats were as anti-Soviet as the Republicans. The sea change that occurred at the end of the Vietnam war squelched any chance of my becoming a Democrat.

My beliefs have not changed that much over the years. If anything, perhaps I have become more libertarian. As I have grown more as a Christian, I have been less impressed by the "religious right"; something of a paradox, perhaps.

I then grew up as a dedicated Cold Warrior. If you check out my personal blog, you'll see that it's got a Cold War name. The story there is simple; when thinking of a title, I started looking at my book collection for inspiration. I came across William F Buckley's The Redhunter. This book tells the story of Senator Joe McCarthy in novel form. Buckley's theme is that while McCarthy and his minon Roy Cohn were scoundrels, the cause of anti-communism is noble and just. It is a theme with which I agree wholeheartedly. I therefore chose it as the title of my blog.

I therefore see our current war against the Islamofascists as in the same mold as the great twentieth-century struggles against Nazism and Communism. Different in many ways, but also quite similar. Whether we win or seek accommodation depends on our willpower. Despite occasional missteps, we prevailed against the old totalitarians. We can do so again.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Kerry's answers to almost everything

Everyone should read this John Kerry Time interview:

How would you go about winning the war of ideas in the Middle East?

What I intend to do is to put in play the economic power, the values and principles, the public diplomacy, so we're isolating the radical Islamic extremists and not having the radical extremists isolate the United States. It means bringing religious leaders together, including moderate mullahs, clerics, imams—pulling the world together in a dialogue about who these extremists really are and how they are hijacking the legitimacy of Islam itself. That takes leadership, and that leadership has not been put on the table.

You have almost 60% of the populations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia under 30, and 50% under 18. We have to engage in a way that offers them some alternative to the radical madrasahs that are educating them to hate and to go out and strap explosives around themselves.

Are Democrats really “Progressive”?

I’ve often wondered why so many on left of center consider President G.W. Bush a right-wing extremist. Realistically, what would that make the many conservatives who believe Bush is not nearly conservative enough especially on domestic issues? Could it be that the Democratic Party has unknowingly, in its“progression”, moved so far to the left that it’s unaware of the wider ideological chasm it produced from center thereby viewing all those on the right as extremist? It's been said that if a classroom of college students read John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address with its references to military strength, personal responsibility and God, the vast majority would have assumed its author to be that of a right-winger. Democratic Senator Zell Miller states “…the reason I didn't attend the Democratic Convention in Boston is that I barely recognize my party anymore. Most of its leaders--including our nominee, John Kerry--don't hold the same beliefs that have motivated my career in public service.”
Former Dem and Sec. Of Education William Bennett said “This is not the Democratic party of my youth — nor is it the party I left in 1986.” Commentator Dennis Prager laments that “Liberal and left were once very different, but not anymore.” Pres. Reagan (another former Democrat), said: “…to this day, the leadership of that party [Dem.] has been taking that party, that honorable party, down the road in the image of the labor socialist party of England. And from an essay that I highly recommend by Norman Podhoretz:”As a ‘founding father’ of neoconservatism who had broken ranks with the Left precisely because I was repelled by its "negative faith in America the ugly," I naturally welcomed this new patriotic mood with open arms.”

Which party as a whole has moved closer to its extreme ideologies? I have not conducted any scientific research but I’m willing to bet it’s the party that honors Michael Moore with Presidential seating arrangements at their convention. I’m also willing to go out on a limb and wage that there are many more former lefties than former righties. Columnist Jonah Goldberg agrees…”there are so many former-leftists on the Right it's almost easier to list the people who were born on the right and never left. I will make a bet with anyone out there I can list one dozen prominent former leftists for every one ‘prominent’ former conservative.” Is it not logical to assume to which ideology most political progression within ones lifetime favors? The median age of conservatives is usually substantially higher than that of the left. Louis L’Amour said, “... even a rebel grows old, and sometimes wiser. He finds the things he rebelled against are now the things he must defend against newer rebels...” I can relate to that.

Just as former smokers can be the loudest advocates against smoking, some past leftists have been the strongest opponents of their former allies. Mark mentioned, in his previous post, former anti-war activist David Horowitz who was on the far left of the political spectrum. Horowitz claims: “Tom Hayden and I were once comrades-in-arms in a movement to overthrow America's democratic institutions, remake its government in a Marxist image and help America's enemies defeat her sons on the field of battle.” Now he submits: “Marx was a brilliant mind and a seductive stylist, and many of his insights look reasonable enough, on paper. But the evil they have wrought, on those who fell under their practical sway, far outweighs any possible intellectual gain. It would be a healthy development for everyone, rich and poor alike, if future generations regarded Karl Marx's Manifesto in the same sinister light as Mein Kampf and other destructive products of the human soul.” The late author Hannah Arendt said, “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Which party really comes out on the higher scale within the evolution of ideologies when measuring its accomplishments and failures against history? Conversely, which one has chosen to resurrect defective philosophies of the past? And what does it mean when as an individual, one will usually tend to sway from left to right than right to left, but as a political party, we see sustained movement further left-ward to the point where they struggle to identify their own extreme elements?