Saturday, August 14, 2004

War Blog

This will be my last blogging until Thursday. Thank you all for your prayers and kind words of support on the passing of my mother. - Sailor

War Blog
By FrontPage Magazine | August 13, 2004


NOTHING ON THE KERRY/CAMBODIA STORY in either the New York Times or the Washington Post this morning -- I just searched both sites. Even though the Kerry Campaign has now admitted that Kerry's oft-repeated stories about being in Cambodia on Christmas Day, 1968 aren't true. The Post did find the time to condemn the Swift Boat vets, though, without admitting that one of their charges has already been borne out.

They're spending another chunk of their diminishing credibility to help this guy. Hope they still think it was worth it in a few years.

UPDATE: Well here's a report:

For the first time, Sen John Kerry, the Democratic presidential challenger, has been left floundering by allegations that he invented a key episode of his decorated wartime service in Vietnam - a central plank of his election platform. . . . the Kerry campaign was left in verbal knots after a new book accused the senator of inventing stories about being sent, illegally, over the border into neutral Cambodia. . . .

In newspaper articles, interviews and at least one Senate speech, Mr Kerry has claimed that he spent Christmas 1968 inside Cambodia, at a time when even the US president was publicly denying that American forces were inside that country.

He has cited the missions as a psychological turning point, when he realised that American leaders were not telling the truth to the world about the war in south-east Asia.

The Kerry campaign responded, initially, that Mr Kerry had always said he was "near" Cambodia. Then a campaign aide said Mr Kerry had been in the Mekong Delta "between" Vietnam and next-door Cambodia - a geographical zone not found on maps, which show the Mekong river running from Cambodia to Vietnam.

Michael Meehan, a Kerry campaign adviser, told ABC Television: "The Mekong Delta consists of the border between Cambodia and Vietnam, so on Christmas Eve in 1968, he was in fact on patrol . . . in the Mekong Delta between Cambodia and Vietnam. He was ambushed, they fired back, he was fired upon from both sides, from the Cambodian side of the border and the Vietnam side during that day in 1968."

The map accompanying the story makes short work of that geographical absurdity. I hope that if Kerry's elected, he'll find some advisors who can read a map -- and who understand the difference between "parallel" and "perpendicular." (You can see a bigger, and clearer, map here, if you're interested.)

UPDATE: Harold Eddy emails:

The new "spin" seems to be that the Mekong Delta runs into Cambodia and, as a result, Kerry could have been near Cambodia or accidentially gone over the border. However, that "explanation" is non-responsive to the fundamental basis for the criticism of Kerry. He alleged, again and again, that the US knowingly, intentionally, secretly and duplicitously sent him into Cambodia as part of US policy, while denying the same publicly to the world. . . .

If, now, he is forced to admit that his recollection is untrue, it makes a mockery of over 30 years of his use of his war record. What does this say about his ability to lead? Moreover, how can he criticize George Bush for relying on faulty war intelligence when he has been willing to base policy on his own faulty recollection?

And Craig Henry observes:

Did Kerry vote against key weapon programs? How dare you question the patriotism of a man with three Purple Hearts. Is he too willing to defer to France and the United Nations? How dare you doubt the loyalty of a man with a Silver Star. Faced with this, does the press write about the voting record or about the "hard ball tactics" of the GOP?

Kerry didn't just use his Vietnam experience to enhance his stature as a man or leader. His campaign used it to shut down debate on his Senate record. They made the biography the issue.

Yes, they did.

More here: "And the Post manages to write an entire editorial about the veracity of the Swiftvets without even noting that their first charge scored a direct hit this week."

And Will Collier has a survey of the Big Media outlets that are ignoring this story:

Looks like that American Spectator blurb from a couple of days ago was accurate: beyond Fox News, the press is in full cover-up mode for Kerry on this one.

Yo, Media: Your candidate has apparently lied, repeatedly, over the last 30 years. He did so to embellish his credentials, and in the pursuit of various political ends. His campaign is putting out false spin that doesn't pass the laugh test. Does this say anything at all about his fitness for higher office?

Not to some people, I guess. Thursday, August 12, 2004



An interesting juxtaposition: Scot Peterson's lie to Amber Frey about being in Paris, and John Kerry's lies to the Senate about being in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968. Peterson's lie has practically guaranteed his conviction as whatever small bit of credibility he possessed is now destroyed. John Kerry, on the other hand, got a pass this morning from the Washington Post and the New York Times even though his campaign yesterday recanted a central detail of Kerry's Vietnam narrative that he has been peddling for three decades --a memory that he says was "seared, seared" into his consciousness, the Christmas Eve illegal voyage deep into Cambodian waters. Peterson lied to advance his chances of keeping up the ruse with Frey; Kerry lied to pad his political resume and add heft to his declamations about illegal wars. One lie was personal and intended to advance private gain; the other public and intended to advance political goals. The backdrop of the former is a double murder, of course, and the latter only personal ambition, but the immense gap in impact between the two is not because one is more destructive of credibility than the other, but simply because the media is choosing to treat it that way.

The new front in John Kerry's Kurtz Chronicles concerns the new story, which conveniently appeared yesterday after 30 years in the back room. Turns out that "[d]uring John Kerry's service in Vietnam, many times he was on or near the Cambodian border and on one occasion crossed into Cambodia at the request of a special operations group operating out of Ha Tien." This is a statement put out by Kerry spokesman Michael Meehan, and quoted in a column by Tony Snow. As a stonewall, this one was put together by a master mason, covering as it does the numerous versions of the sailing into Cambodia story that Kerry has peddled over the years, and perhaps even the "magic hat." But it also tries to do too much, I think, because its very specificity calls into question how John Kerry could have confused this one mission with a Christmas Eve adventure and a CIA man getting dropped off, hatless, inside Cambodian waters.

Over and over again, veterans of that era have stressed that all special operation insertions in that period into Cambodia were done via air or overland to avoid the huge diplomatic problem that would come with the capture of marked American boats, and also the nature of the waterway border and where it was sealed. How very strange that the only swift boat Cambodian mission that any swift boat veteran can recall is the one John Kerry took, and that he's the only one that can recall it. Will anyone be asking for more details today? Or does Scot Peterson really deserve all the scrutiny when it comes to the telling of lies? Thursday, August 12, 2004



Thursday, August 12, 2004



A couple of weeks ago, we reported that a small newspaper, the Bloomington, Ill., Pantagraph, was taking Michael Moore to task for one of the many lies in Fahrenheit 9/11. In the movie, Moore showed the front page of the Pantagraph, purportedly on December 19, 2001, with the headline: "Latest Florida recount shows Gore won election."

In reality, the Pantagraph never ran such a headline, probably because every Florida recount showed that President Bush carried the state. On December 5, however, the paper did run a small headline containing those words--over a letter to the editor, which the paper said reflects "only the opinions of the letter writer." Moore took that headline, blew it up, and put it on the top of the front page as if it were a news headline. This was his "evidence" for the proposition that Gore really won the election.

Typical Michael Moore. The Pantagraph, however, didn't think Moore's misrepresentation of its front page was funny, and sent him a letter demanding an apology and a symbolic $1 in compensation.

Today, the paper said that it got a letter from Moore's lawyer, refusing to apologize or pay the dollar. Moore's lawyer didn't deny that he substituted a headline that described the opinion of a letter-writer for the main headline on the paper's front page. Instead, he made the legal argument that Moore's use of the paper and its fictitious headline fell under the legal doctrine of "fair use." He also denied that the paper had suffered damage to its reputation. (He may have a point there. Falsely reporting the results of the Florida recounts would no doubt raise the Pantagraph's image in the eyes of Moore's fans.)

Moore, a very rich man, can afford the finest counsel, and it's unlikely that the Pantagraph would consider litigation over the issue to be a wise use of its more limited resources. So Moore will get away with his lies again.

On a personal note, I spent a lot of time in Bloomington a few years ago when I had a big case there, and worked with the Pantagraph's lawyer, Casey Costigan.


Real Clear Politics has posted the first poll data I've seen on the Swift Boat Vets and how their charges are affecting public perceptions of John Kerry. The results of the poll, by Fabrizio McLaughlin, are here.

Surprisingly, I think, 58% of respondents in swing states say that they have heard about the Vets' ad criticizing Kerry's claims relating to his military service. That suggests to me that the issue resonates with voters. Of the 58% who are aware of the ad, just over 50% say that it has no impact on their voting preference. But fully 27% of respondents say it makes them less likely to vote for Kerry. Given that the issue is just beginning to take off, and very few people are yet aware of the full extent of John (pocketa, pocketa, pocketa) Kerry's credibility problem, that's a pretty alarming percentage for the Democrats.

On the other hand, whatever damage the Vets may be doing does not yet show up in head-to-head polling between Kerry and President Bush. The Rasmussen Tracking Poll has shown Kerry with a three-point lead for the last three days, which represents a complete polling cycle. That's the first time in quite a while that has happened. Rasmussen has suggested that Kerry's bump relates to last week's bad news on jobs, to which I would add the currently-slumping stock market.

The economy does seem to be the most likely explanation, suggesting that for now, at least, voters' economic worries are canceling out doubts about Kerry's vaunted military service. Whether that will change depends, I suppose, on how the economy performs over the coming weeks and how much more people learn about Kerry's record in general, and his Christmas in Cambodia fantasies in particular.

BIG TRUNK adds: Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal editorial page ran a column that elegantly demonstrated the inverse relationship between Kerry's electoral prospects and the stock market averages: When Kerry goes up, the averages go down. The performance of the stock market is not a drag on Bush's poll ratings; John Kerry's poll ratings are a drag on the stock market.


When we last sighted Thomas Lipscomb, we posted one of his ground-breaking New York Sun articles on Kerry's participation in some of the more exotic proceedings of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Our post with one of Lipscomb's follow-up stories on the subject is "John Kerry strongarms a vet." That post is the fruit of Lipscomb's first exposure to John Kerry's strongarm tactics.

The Swift boat vets are too numerous to deal with in this fashion, but they're getting another version of the bully boy tactics that Bill Clinton's goons turned into an art form. I personally spoke with Lipscomb several times about his Sun stories, and we had him as a guest on our weekend Northern Alliance Radio Network show. His exposure to Kerry's tactics on the earlier occasion left an impression. The guy is a solid journalist with an impressive record.

Today Lipscomb is back with a terrific column on Kerry and the Swift boat vets: "John Kerry's bodyguard of lies." Lipscomb's column concludes:

[I]t is time for the press to look into the charges brought by the Swiftvets. The Swiftvets have depositions, phone numbers, on the record statements, and for all of the innuendo from the Kerry apparatchiks, not one of the Swiftvets has enjoyed a fancy hotel room paid for by the Bush campaign, much less gone on a campaign tour with the candidate. It is easy to see what the nine Kerry crew members are getting out of their 15 minutes of fame. But what's in it for the 254 Swiftvets? It is important to answer that question in considering their charges.
(Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)


It seems to me that this New York Times story is most useful as a symptom of the thematic problem at the heart of the Kerry campaign: "Bush's mocking drowns out Kerry's explanation of Iraq vote." Try it, you'll like it. Thursday, August 12, 2004


Today's New York Times Corrections section contains this item:

An article in Business Day on Monday about the number of new low-income jobs compared with high-income jobs misstated figures from an analysis of Labor Department payroll data conducted by Economy .com, an economic research firm. Since January, industries ranked in the bottom fifth in terms of median wages have generated 177,000 jobs, not 477,000. Industries in the top fifth generated 135,000 jobs, not zero.
This is a rather stunning error: the Times reported on Monday that so far in 2004, there have been no jobs created in the top 20% best-paying industries, while 477,000 jobs--nearly half of the payroll positions added this year--were in the bottom 20% of industries in median pay. As so often happens, the Times' correction largely negates the whole point of the original article, which was that "a disproportionate number of new jobs appear to be lower-paying ones."

It's hard to believe that the Times makes mistakes on purpose. But it's also hard to understand why the newspaper's errors trend invariably in the same direction. Wednesday, August 11, 2004


Remember the time when the international left was a lot more bellicose? Remember the Spanish Civil War? (I use the term "remember" in a non-personal and non-specific sort of way, not the way John Kerry "remembers" being in Cambodia on Christmas 1968) It was the last time that thousands of passionate Western lefties put their own asses on the line and joined the Republican side in the fight against Franco. Ever since then, however, the left has preferred to let "the people of color" (as they would say) fight the Western (American) imperialism on their behalf.

Today, once again, it's not the devotees of John Pilger or Noam Chomsky but the Western Muslims who occasionally join in the jihad against the US. Here's the latest two:

"British Muslims who take up arms against UK and US forces in Iraq could face treason charges on their return, the Home Office said today. The warning was prompted by a Guardian report that two Britons had traveled from their homes in London to join the Mahdi army, a militia loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

"The two men who traveled to Najaf from the UK were both born in Iraq - one in Najaf and the other in Baghdad - but had lived in Britain since they were children and held British passports. This was the first time they had returned to Iraq, the Guardian reported.

"Asked why they had traveled to Najaf, one - calling himself Abu Haqid, replied: 'Our brothers are fighting down here. They are not eating well, they are not sleeping well - we have to be in the same position as them. We all have a belief, me and my family, when it comes to jihad. We asked our families and they said yes. It is good to protect your country and be there with your brothers'."
Treason charges if they are lucky to return to Great Britain.

I just love those people who choose to live in the West and share in the peace, freedom and prosperity that comes from being a citizen of a liberal democracy such as the UK, but who feel so passionately that their "brothers" back in Iraq should live in an impoverished, stifling theocracy, that they will gladly go back and fight to keep them there. Thursday, August 12, 2004



Daniel Pipes' blog:

In the years after World War II, Americans came to realize that the Cold War demanded expertise on the world's regions; Harvard University responded to this need in 1954 by establishing the Center for Middle East Studies and hiring H.A.R. Gibb (1895-1971), arguably the biggest name in Middle East studies of that era. Gibb gave the new center instant credibility but also surrounded himself with minor scholars who lasted well beyond his own tenure. Specialists in their beer agree – as do I, who spent the years 1969-86 in and out of the CMES, getting an A.B. and a Ph.D. along the way – that Harvard's work on the Middle East has been distinctly less successful than that at other major research universities, including UCLA and Princeton.

Further, the poor state of Middle East studies at Harvard reflects the judgment of the university administration that the field is a hopeless morass – something first learned in the debacle over Nadav Safran's conference on politics and Islam in 1985 and relearned again and again in subsequent years (most recently, in the embarrassing episode days ago of returning $2.5 million in cash to the United Arab Emirates). As Martin Kramer wrote in his pathbreaking book on Middle East studies, Ivory Towers on Sand, "Harvard tolerated its Middle East center (it brought in money), but never respected it."

Beyond Harvard's problems, there is the larger issue of the failure of Middle Eastern studies, as documented in particular by Kramer and also by Norvell B. De Atkine and myself in "Middle Eastern Studies: What Went Wrong?" The public critique of Middle East studies has been undertaken by Campus Watch, a unique project begun in September 2002 with the goal of improving the field.

None of these problems, however, are in any way acknowledged in the "CMES Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration Schedule" that details festivities planned for Oct. 30-31, 2004 in Cambridge, Mass. The outline suggests a mood somewhere between smug ("Lunch with brief reminiscences about CMES") and self-congratulatory ("An Israeli at CMES or why did I go to the States to study the Middle East?"), with not a word of self-criticism, not an iota of awareness of the field's troubles, and not a place on the program for a critic ready to point these out. But, then, what might one expect of Middle East studies? August 12, 2004



The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism met with the Ambassador of the Sudan in Washington DC to denounce the violence in Sudan and discuss whether the Sudanese government is aiding militias who are engaged in genocide:

The President of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, Kamal Nawash, told the Ambassador that if his government was sincere about not supporting the militias then the Sudan should allow any outside person or organization to visit the Sudan to investigate the conflict. The Ambassador responded that he will meet with anyone who wants to investigate the Sudan and will personally see to it that any one who wants to visit the Sudan will promptly receive a visa from the embassy in Washington.

The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism is interested in this conflict because Arabs and Muslims must be the first to condemn and correct atrocities and wrongs perpetrated by other Muslims. The Sudan should not be immune from Muslim condemnation just because the Sudan is an Arab and Muslim country. The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism hopes to lead a delegation of American Muslims to the Sudan to investigate the Ambassador’s statements and to determine whether the government of the Sudan is aiding the militias or as the Ambassador has said that the militias are renegades, outlaws who are committing atrocities on their own.

For more information visit their website at:



Steven Milloy relates how environmental extremist groups were able to ban DDT thirty years ago without proper evidence or administrative process, a ban that effectively led to millions of unnecessary deaths from malaria throughout the world. J. Gordon Edwards tirelessly laboured since then to redeem DDT in the eyes of academics and the public until his death last month:

Millions in the third world die from malaria every year in large part because of a virtual ban on the controversial insecticide DDT.

The removal of the unwarranted stigma from DDT and the saving of many future lives is now nearer at hand than it has been in the last 30 years thanks to the efforts of Dr. J. Gordon Edwards, who passed away on July 19 at the age of 85.

Though Dr. Edwards is best known to the general public as the author of the now-classic 1961 book "A Climber's Guide to Glacier National Park," his work as an entomologist and professor at San Jose State University may prove to be his most important legacy.

Dr. Edwards led the opposition to environmental extremist efforts to ban DDT in the wake of Rachel Carson's infamous 1962 book Silent Spring. The testimony of Dr. Edwards and others during Environmental Protection Agency hearings in 1971 on whether to ban the insecticide led to an EPA administrative law judge ruling that, "DDT is not a carcinogenic hazard to man. DDT is not a mutagenic or teratogenic hazard to man. The uses of DDT under the regulations involved here do not have a deleterious effect on freshwater fish, estuarine organisms, wild birds or other wildlife."

Inexplicably — or so it seemed — DDT was nonetheless banned by EPA administrator William Ruckleshaus. Dr. Edwards investigated and uncovered disturbing statements and troubling connections between Ruckleshaus and anti-DDT environmental extremist groups.

In a May 1971 speech before the Wisconsin Audubon Society, Ruckleshaus acknowledged being a member of the anti-DDT National Audubon Society and to have "streamlined" EPA procedures so that DDT could be banned even before the administrative hearings had been completed.

Read the whole thing.



Italians are incredibly interested in what Oriana Fallaci has to say, even as she is reviled by Muslim and left wing groups worldwide. She published an interview with herself in the newspaper Corriere Della Sera—and it sold out of its first run of 500,000 copies within four hours. Here’s Google’s translation of the story: Fallaci sells half a million newspapers in 4 hours. (Hat tip: Mentat.)


According to the LA Times, the world’s Shi'ite Muslims are seething with rage over US military actions in Najaf, although they don’t seem very upset over the thugs and murderers who’ve defiled the Imam Ali Mosque by turning it into a storehouse for weapons and a staging area for attacks: World’s Shiites Warn That U.S. Is Treading on Sensitive Ground.

Apparently, mosques are supposed to be magical sanctuaries for Muslims, where they are immune from all retaliation no matter what they have done, and especially if pursued by infidels.

Remember that outrage from the Muslim world when Palestinian terrorists broke into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and held the monks and priests hostage? You don’t?


The Sudanese government continues to act like craven murderers, whining that Western countries are lusting after their natural resources, while Sudanese proxy militias rape and kill: Sudan Says West After Country’s Oil, Gold. As if.

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on Thursday accused Western nations of interfering in its troubled western Darfur region to try to exploit Sudan’s gold and oil resources.

Sudan is under intense international pressure to rein in Arab militias, accused of looting and burning African farming villages, and provide security for more than 1 million people displaced by the fighting in the remote area bordering Chad.

If not, the U.N. Security Council in a July 30 resolution says Khartoum could face unspecified sanctions. There has also been talk of possible foreign troop intervention in Darfur.

Bashir on Thursday said Western nations, especially Britain, were inflaming the Darfur fighting to destabilize wider Sudan.

“There is an agenda to seek for petrol and gold in the region,” he told a women’s union meeting on Darfur in Khartoum on Thursday.

“This highlife that they (the West) enjoy now is a result of the theft of the colonies and their riches and peoples,” he added with specific reference to Britain, which granted Sudan independence in 1956.

Why is Sudan holding to this transparently stupid line? Because it’s the best way to get the equally craven Arab League on their side: Arab League Chief Pledges Sudan Support. Thursday, August 12, 2004



Wednesday, August 11, 2004



The US is rolling on three fronts. The first is against Sadr in Najaf. The BBC quotes President Bush as saying US forces are "making pretty good progress" in Najaf. The New York Times has a John Burns piece entitled U.S. Is Tightening Grasp on Rebels Encircled in Iraq. It begins with the dry assessment that "American forces besieging militiamen of a rebel cleric in a shrine and cemetery sacred to Shiite Muslims tightened their cordon on Monday, warning that the rebels had been left no way in or out." The Guardian thinks America is also looking across the border to Iran. In a story entitled Diplomacy sidelined as US targets Iran, the British newspaper editorializes that "The US charge sheet against Iran is lengthening almost by the day, presaging destabilising confrontations this autumn and maybe a pre-election October surprise." Although the Guardian's assertion rests soley on US efforts to line up sanctions against Teheran's failure to stop nuclear proliferation, it sounds, in the context of recent American successes, like something that could happen. On the third front, recent arrests of Al Qaeda leadership may have hurt it so badly as to disrupt its planned pre-election attack on America. The intelligence leads are burgeoning so quickly that it has become hard to pursue them all.

All three developments convey the huge sweep of the War on Terror and reveal both how far American efforts have come and how long the road that remains. The key theaters of conflict, evident only in outline in early 2002, are coming into clearer focus. They are:

stopping WMD proliferation;
destroying transnational terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda;
strongarming or toppling selected regimes like Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Two regimes, Afghanistan and Iraq, have been toppled. Intelligence and police operations are ongoing on every continent. And the Guardian fears it has only just begun. The geographical scope of the struggle is staggering: pursuit across the Arabian peninsula, North Africa, Southwest Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe and North America. The instruments of struggle are equally various. Defensive security, diplomatic pressure, covert operations, bilateral training, special operations and conventional combat. An old world is being torn down and a new one -- for better or worse -- is being created "in a fit of absentmindedness". The falure by the Left to articulate an alternative vision of a post-September 11 world except in the negative has banished what should have been the most momentous public policy debate of the last 50 years into the outer dark. By declaring discussion of the transformation of the world illegitimate and then only belatedly presenting a Presidential candidate whose countervision consists of a "secret" but unstated plan, liberals have effectively left matters in the hands of President Bush. It is a staggeringly reactionary performance and a fundamentally unhealthy one. Because the one certain thing is that the antebellum world, the universe of September 10, can never be restored. The Clinton era, like the green light at the end of Daisy's dock, has been borne into the past.

It is unlikely that a meaningful national dialogue on the future of world can occur until the Left frees itself from the taboos which have stultified its intellect. The dead hand of Vietnam and its attachment to the cultic nonsense of the 1960s lies heavy on Democratic Party. That spectral limb will grip them by the throat until they shake free. Until then, forward to wherever. We'll know where we're going when we get there.


Although it may be premature to say that the War on Terror is rising to a crescendo, recent events have imparted a distinct sense of movement, as in 'hey, this thing might actually be going somewhere'. If so, it will force those who opposed the notion of fighting fundamentalist terrorism, as distinct from negotiating with or appeasing it, to admit at least to themselves (if they have any intellectual honesty) that they were not only wrong, but deeply and fundamentally mistaken. Some ground for salvage may be found in Todd S. Purdum's New York Times article of February 2003, in which he argues that the strategy for bringing democracy to autocratic regimes in the Middle East sprang in part from impeccable liberal antecedents.

Any history of the Bush administration's march toward war with Iraq will have to take account of long years of determined advocacy by a circle of defense policy intellectuals whose view that Saddam Hussein can no longer be tolerated or contained is now ascendant. ... At the center of this group are longtime Iraq hawks, Republicans like Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz; Richard Perle, a former Reagan administration defense official who now heads the Defense Policy Board, the Pentagon's advisory panel; and William Kristol, who was chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle and now edits the conservative Weekly Standard.

But the war camp also includes more recent and reluctant converts like Kenneth M. Pollack, an Iraq expert in the Clinton White House, who has become a prominent advocate for an attack on Saddam Hussein as the best way to avoid, as he calls his recent book, "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq" (Random House 2002); and Ronald D. Asmus, a former deputy assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration.

The truism that victory has many fathers while defeat is an orphan may partially explain why the Democratic Party sought to rebrand itself as the War Party during its recently concluded convention in Boston. It may also lie behind the transformation of John Kerry from anti-war activist to the warrior who is "reporting for duty" about three years after September 11. If George Bush ever defeats international terrorism, many historians will endeavor to describe it as "Clinton's war" in much the same way that Vietnam is now described as "Nixon's war" though he had the least to do with starting it and the most responsibility for ending it. Winston Churchill facetiously said that "history will be kind to me for I intend to write it." Those without his literary skill need never fear. Academia will take up the slack.

But all this is mortuary makeup on an intellectual corpse. The death of public discourse over the War on Terror was at least partly the result of the self-lobotomization of the Leftist mind. That operation was necessary to prevent an admission of the obvious: the basic Leftist tenets were bankrupt and sustained only by ever more tedious extensions to the original discredited theory; a latter day replay of the downfall of geocentrism which held back the Copernican revolution only by introducing artificial and complicated epicycles. Thus was the Marx's theory of the impoverishment of the proletariat transformed into Lenin's theory of imperialism. It had the virtue of postponing the false prophecy, but even that was not enough. From there it lost all cohesion and branched into "North-South" theory, a generalized schema of victimology and finally into Said's Orientalism in which it is not only impossible for the West to understand the world; it was even impossible for it to be innocent. Every Western -- and especially American -- act became ipso facto, a crime.

I wish I could say that general understanding of the Middle East, the Arabs and Islam in the United States has improved somewhat, but alas, it really hasn't. For all kinds of reasons, the situation in Europe seems to be considerably better. In the US, the hardening of attitudes, the tightening of the grip of demeaning generalization and triumphalist cliché, the dominance of crude power allied with simplistic contempt for dissenters and "others" has found a fitting correlative in the looting and destruction of Iraq's libraries and museums. What our leaders and their intellectual lackeys seem incapable of understanding is that history cannot be swept clean like a blackboard, clean so that "we" might inscribe our own future there and impose our own forms of life for these lesser people to follow. It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. But this has often happened with the "Orient," that semi-mythical construct which since Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in the late eighteenth century has been made and re-made countless times. In the process the uncountable sediments of history, that include innumerable histories and a dizzying variety of peoples, languages, experiences, and cultures, all these are swept aside or ignored, relegated to the sand heap along with the treasures ground into meaningless fragments that were taken out of Baghdad.

This magnificent paragraph, aside from being factually wrong (Said's reference to the looting of Baghdad's museums after Operation Iraqi Freedom) served the purpose of making it unnecessary to think. Indeed necessary not to think, lest one commit an unconscious Western crime. The Left, shackled by its epicycles, became speechless in the face of the rapid changes transforming the world, as conservatives, armed with nothing but common sense, simply acted; unless one excepts the commentary provided by Michael Moore. Yet in the end the Leftist illusions must be overthrown, just as the earth was proven round, despite all authority to the contrary. The sooner the better; a mind is a terrible thing to waste. August 10, 2004

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