Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

02/22/2010 (10:34 pm)

The West Abdicates

Mark Steyn has written a tour de force over at Investor’s Business Daily, juxtaposing the inanity of nanny-state “protection” laws with the Obama administration’s utter failure to act in the face of Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons.

This is a perfect snapshot of the west at twilight. On the one hand, governments of developed nations micro-regulate every aspect of your life in the interests of “keeping you safe…”

On the other hand, when it comes to “keeping you safe” from real threats, such as a millenarian theocracy that claims universal jurisdiction, America and its allies do nothing. There aren’t going to be any sanctions, because China and Russia don’t want them…

In this case, the slow-motion nuclearization conducted in full view and through years of tortuous diplomatic charades and endlessly rescheduled looming deadlines is not just a victory for Iran but a decisive defeat for the United States. It confirms the Islamo-Sino-Russo-everybody else diagnosis of Washington as a hollow superpower that no longer has the will or sense of purpose to enforce the global order…

In Eastern Europe, a nuclear Iran will vastly advance Russia’s plans for a de facto reconstitution of its old empire: In an unstable world, Putin will offer himself as the protection racket you can rely on. And you’d be surprised how far west “Eastern” Europe extends:

Moscow’s strategic view is of a continent not only energy-dependent on Russia but also security-dependent. And, when every European city is within range of Teheran and other psycho states, there’ll be plenty of takers for that when the alternative is an effete and feckless Washington.

Read the whole thing, and weep.

Now the real cost of the calumny of the Democrats in government becomes clearer. The Bush administration may have been able to garner support for putting a stop to Iran’s nuclear intentions in 2007, but they were stymied by the release of the National Intelligence Estimate that claimed — knowledgeably falsely, as we now know — that the Iranians had quit developing nukes back in 2003. It’s quite plain that this was incorrect; it’s only a little less plain that the error was made deliberately. So we can thank government-employed Democrats for the fall of Europe and the Middle East under Russian-Iranian domination, and all the misery that will ensue in its wake. Well, it was plain that they hated America’s influence in the world, and now they’ve put an end to it. Well done, folks. Hope you’re proud. Meanwhile, permit me to renew my call for the re-invigoration of treason laws with teeth.

I’ll send a hat tip to PowerLine Blog, where I first read of Steyn’s diatribe.

10/08/2009 (10:08 am)

Iran, and a Blast From the Past

The Wall Street Journal brings up an interesting point from the past today regarding Iran’s imminent nuclear capability, and it bears on a great deal of history from the Bush years.

Back in December of 2007, a gathering of government intel professionals produced a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) claiming “with high confidence” that Iran had ceased its nuclear development as of 2003. That this was not true is evident now. What the Journal reports is that the intelligence community was already well aware of the recently-announced uranium enrichment facilities and weapons design efforts at the time the NIE was published. This demonstrates that the NIE was published as propaganda; they knew it was false, but it served a political purpose, so they published it anyhow. I reported this at the time, and confirmed it with evidence later.

The purpose it seems to have served is to cripple the US’ response to the threat of a nuclear Iran. The Bush administration may have been planning air strikes back in 2007 to address the budding threat; the NIE was the culmination of political infighting within the Executive branch to stop the administration’s unilateral response to the Iranian threat, and more or less signaled the President’s capitulation to his internal adversaries. Scott Horton, the reliably loony leftist at Harper’s, reported this at the time in an article that errs by assuming that the NIE was the truth and that it was Cheney et al that were operating on false information (an assertion we now know to have been 180 degrees off the mark, something that sensible people would have expected even then.)

The propagandistic NIE was merely the last shot in the long-standing revolt by leftists within the US intelligence community against the Bush administration — a revolt that was only a hair shy of being a full-blown attempt at a coup d’etat. Leftist rogues within the intelligence community were actively undermining Bush administration policies, and executing plots with the sole intent of discrediting the President. I’m convinced that the entire Joe Wilson-Valerie Plame affair was one of these — an operation planned and executed by rogues within the CIA to discredit the President. I wrote about the revolt at the time, in the early days of this blog (you can review my thoughts by clicking on the Intelligence Community topic under my topical index, at the bottom of the sidebar.)

History has done us the favor of sorting out the truth quickly, but we should not miss the lesson. The lesson is not just that the NIE was wrong. The lesson is that the intelligence community was deliberately manipulating reports throughout the Bush years with the intent of discrediting the administration and crippling its policies. We should apply this knowledge to whatever we now take for granted from the Bush years that came to us by way of the intelligence community — like the claim that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Almost a year ago, Jeff Lewis at the American Thinker produced an essay explaining the cost of leftist power-seeking in the form of crippling our response to nuclear proliferation:

George W. Bush has been crucified for five long years in the media, by the feckless, hysterical and cowardly Europeans, by the United Nations, and of course by the Democratic Party, because he took the only sane action possible in the face of the apparent WMD threat from Saddam. Because presidents don’t have the luxury of Monday morning quarterbacking. They cannot wait for metaphysical certainty about threats to national survival and international peace. There is no such thing as metaphysical certainty in these matters; presidents must act on incomplete intelligence, knowing full well that their domestic enemies will try to destroy them for trying to save the peace.

But that is water under the bridge by now. What’s not past, but rather a clear and present threat to civilization are the consequences of the unbelievable recklessness of the International Left — including the Democrats, the Europeans, the UN, and the former communist powers. Because of their screaming opposition to the Bush administration’s rational actions against Saddam, we are now rendered helpless against two even more dangerous challenges. With Saddam there was genuine doubt about his nuclear program; the notion that he had a viable program was just the safest guess to make in the face of his policy of deliberate ambiguity. In the case of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il there’s no guessing any more. They have nukes and missiles, or will have within a year.

The entire anti-proliferation effort has therefore been sabotaged and probably ruined by the Left. For what reason? There can be only one rational reason: A lust for power, even at the expense of national and international safety and peace. But the Left has irrational reasons as well, including an unfathomable hatred for adulthood in the face of mortal danger. Like the Cold War, this is a battle between the adolescent rage of the Left and the realistic adult decision-making of the mainstream — a mainstream which is now tenuously maintained only by conservatives in the West.

And now, in the face of a growing Iranian threat, our Peerless Messianic Leader has eliminated the planned missile shield aimed at protecting Europe from an Iranian nuclear threat, in exchange for assistance in managing that threat from Russia, which arguably supplied Iran with the means to produce nuclear weapons in the first place.

David Horowitz has argued for years that there exists an unspoken alliance between radical Islam and radical Socialism. It becomes plausible to assert that radical elements in the US — read “progressives,” and include the President — have more policy goals in common with Iran than they have with conservatives in America, and would prefer a nuclear Iran to a Middle East with stable republics like Israel and a free Iraq. Might this explain President Obama’s fecklessness regarding the Taliban in Afghanistan? Can we trust the President to act in the international community with America’s best interests at heart, or is he serving a wider agenda?

For my part, I think it is long past time to revive treason as a crime suitable for legitimate prosecution. Perpetrators of active disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining actual governmental policy should be prosecuted seriously, with decades-long prison terms at a minimum for active attempts at crippling lawful policy. It is one thing to oppose policy publicly, and to argue against it; it is another thing entirely to undermine that policy actively. Congress should pass laws to that effect, with clear exceptions made for active defense of the US Constitution against unlawful acts by the Executive branch.

06/16/2009 (10:27 am)

Obama Cautious on Iran (Updated)

…and I agree with him, which is a first.

It took the Obama administration until Monday to make an official statement about the Iranian elections, the outcome of which still remain in doubt. President Obama said he was “deeply troubled” by the images he and the rest of America have seen from Iran, and he called on the leaders of Iran to respect the “universal values” of democracy.

Meanwhile, literally millions of Iranians have taken to the streets in an outpouring of protest that could conceivably produce a revolution. The Washington Times blog, relying on a translation from the Cyrus News Agency, reports that 16 leaders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the government’s elite forces, have been arrested for contacting members of the Army to discuss joining the people’s movement.

Eric Cantor, House Whip for the Republicans, is lambasting the White House over their silence, calling the suppression of the protests a “step backwards for home-grown democracy in the Middle East.”

Iran’s Council of Guardians, 12 clerics with clout, has announced its plan to perform a partial recount of the ballots, while opposition candidate Moussavi has rejected their suggestion and wants a rerun of the election.

Personally, I think the President is wise to keep the matter at an arm’s length. If the US has ever been successful at aiding revolutions in foreign nations, we in the public are not aware of it, so it seems unlikely that we’re going to have a positive impact on this one. We actually don’t know what happened in the election, and need more information before we can make an assessment. And, we’re going to have to live with whomever comes out on top. We should be joining with UN leaders to call for international investigations of the election process in Iran.


UPDATE, 5:50 PM Pacific Time: Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posits Ronald Reagan’s response to the crackdown on Solidarity protesters by the Polish government. Reagan’s comment to the Pope, who was himself a Pole, was “We stand with the people, not with the government.” John McCain said something similar. I find their sentiments persuasive, and stand corrected.

06/15/2009 (8:52 am)

Iran: The Junta Emerges?

Two days into the protests over Iran’s elections, some analysts suggest that we’re seeing a transition from a theocracy to a secular police state in Iran.

According to Middle East news source Media Line, Reform candidate Moussavi, a former Prime Minister, claims he was contacted by Interior Ministry officials late Friday night telling him that he had won the election. The Interior Ministry officially announced the winner as Ahmadinejad on Saturday, by a margin of 63% to 34%. Many Moussavi supporters did not believe the the official count, apparently bolstered by independent reports filtering out of the Interior Ministry, and took to the streets in protest. The government cracked down, apparently aided by Arabic-speaking riot police (the official language of Iran is Farsi) because the Iranian police will not attack Iranian citizens.

Meanwhile, it appears as though the election result has been officially endorsed by exactly one of the Mullahs leading Iran, the Ayatollah Khamenei. According to Kevin Sullivan of Real Clear World:

Iran hawks prefer to label the Iranian police state as simply “The Mullahs,” but the legitimate clerics in this dispute are the ones standing with Mir-Hossein Mousavi against ONE Mullah and his secular police apparatus. If the election has been rigged in such a fashion, then what you are in fact seeing is the dropping of religious pretense in the “Islamic” Republic of Iran. This is a secular police state in action.

Iranian-Israeli analyst Meir Javedanfar provides this useful analysis of Khamenei’s attempts to shift the Iranian government from theocratic to secular footing, and Andrew Sullivan — yes, that Andrew Sullivan — adds this translation of a Farsi news report from one of his readers:

Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad’s presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.

News reports are scattered because the government of Iran has blocked as many outside communications as they can. Independent foreign correspondent Michael Totten has been live-blogging the scene in Tehran, and his reports are indispensable to understanding the unrest in that city.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has officially taken a “wait and see” attitude toward the Iranian election. Obama supporters in a few locations have taken the opportunity to air their fantasies about the Bush administration (see here and here), apparently unaware that President Bush won two elections legally and then stepped down peaceably without incident.

The Washington Post claims that its own public opinion polls in Iran match the results of the election, throwing those westerners claiming fraud into confusion.

06/27/2008 (8:47 pm)

More Consequences of Naivete

We keep seeing worldwide repercussions of Barack Obama’s unintended declaration that he’d negotiate with America’s enemies without preconditions. Here’s another possible consequence:

John Bolton, former US ambassador to the UN, opined today that if Obama wins the election, Israel is likely to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities sometime before Inauguration Day. He reasons that the Israelis expect Obama’s policy to be more protective of Iran, and will want to do what’s necessary to protect themselves while Bush is still President.

In an interview with FOX News, Bolton says, “I think if they are to do anything, the most likely period is after our elections and before the inauguration of the next President.”

Bolton reasons Israel won’t be able to hold off a strike on Iran any longer than that given the Illinois senator’s intended foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic.

“I don’t think they [the Israeli government] will do anything before our election because they don’t want to affect it,” he says, adding, “They’d have to make a judgment whether to [strike] during the remainder of President Bush’s term in office or wait for his successor.”

Bolton points to Obama’s statements in which he says he would engage Iran in direct talks and take the military option for dealing with Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons off the table, a position he believes will further embolden Tehran to build a nuclear bomb.

The irony is as Charles Krauthamer pointed out a few weeks ago — most likely, this “sit down with our enemies” approach is not a policy decision, it’s a gaffe that got out of hand. Obama is now trying to reverse field, but once the words are out, it’s tough to get them back. As the ancient Persian proverb goes, “You own your words until you speak; then, they own you.” This is why it’s not good enough that a young man gather advisors around himself in order to learn how to be President; he’ll learn eventually, yes, but in the meantime he’ll cause bigger problems than he can solve. Not just anybody can be President, and it takes more than just the ability to make convincing speeches (although that surely helps).

05/23/2008 (12:04 pm)

Metastatic Gaffe

You all need to read Charles Krauthamer’s essay at Townhall today regarding Obama’s running gaffe about sitting down with our enemies to negotiate. Krauthamer compares the reality of international negotiations with Obama’s fantasy world, and calls it the absurdity that it is.

From the top:

When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has gone surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure — then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration’s refusal to do so not just “ridiculous” but “a disgrace.”

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity…

There are always contacts through back channels or intermediaries. Iran, for example, has engaged in five years of talks with our closest European allies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to say nothing of the hundreds of official U.S. statements outlining exactly what we would give them in return for suspending uranium enrichment.

Obama pretends that while he is for such “engagement,” the cowboy Republicans oppose it. Another absurdity. No one is debating the need for contacts. The debate is over the stupidity of elevating rogue states and their tyrants, easing their isolation and increasing their leverage by granting them unconditional meetings with the president of the world’s superpower.

Go read the rest, Krauthamer at his best.

05/20/2008 (3:00 pm)

Question of the Day: Obama and Iran

The Question of the Day comes from John Hinderaker at Power Line:

Can someone explain why it is, exactly, that Barack Obama is not a laughingstock?

The rightward blog cadre is teaching Barack Obama a lesson about asymmetrical warfare in the wake of his truly laughable comments about Iran not being a serious threat. He’s trying to backtrack, but the video clip shows what he actually thinks. The man is clueless; he has no grasp of modern history at all, let alone sufficient grasp to be taken seriously as a candidate for President. I watched the YouTube clip, shown below, and counted no fewer than six outright errors in historical understanding. Check it out:

Holy Moly. Negotiations did not prevent nuclear war, except in the one alarming instance where President Kennedy’s brinkmanship nearly started a nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was MAD, not negotiations, that prevented nuclear war. Negotiations did not bring down the Soviet Union. Reagan’s lantern-jawed opposition sped the USSR’s economic collapse; it was arguably Reagan’s refusal to negotiate SDI at Reykjavik that drove the final nail into the coffin — and leftists screamed like scalded cats when he did that. The negotiations Obama mentioned had specific policy goals that were obtainable from rational adversaries; these in no way justify negotiations with irrational adversaries with whom we have no bargaining leverage.

I was particularly taken with his comparison of Iran’s and our military budgets. “They spend less than 1/100 of what we spend on the military. If they were to attempt to pose a threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.” Barack Obama is one of those who have claimed that the US has been defeated in Iraq, and advocates our bringing our troops home as soon as possible. In fact, Iran is one of the nations financing the militias that Obama claims have defeated us in Iraq. What was the military budget of al Qaeda and Iran in Iraq, I wonder? And if they’ve defeated us, why does he now imagine they can’t stand against us? Does this guy just make stuff up as he goes along?

Purple Avenger at Ace of Spades HQ asks the question about asymmetrical warfare, and mentions where Iran has been spending its defense dollars. One fifth of the world’s oil supplies pass through the Strait of Hormuz, and Iran sits on the north short of the Strait. Says Purple A:

They could turn the narrow strait of Hormuz into an unnavigable scrap yard faster than the US Navy could stop them or the US Air force could neutralize those batteries and missiles.

It doesn’t take a defense budget the size of California’s economy to mine the Strait of Hormuz. Iran is not a threat to invade New York City (who would want to?) but that’s not the only sort of threat there is.

Michelle Malkin has a pretty complete rundown of links to all the talk about this massive faux pas. Ed Morrisey has the most complete rebuttal, Israel Matzav from Jerusalem makes the point about Iran not being a rational actor, and a hat tip goes to Jennifer Rubin at Commentary for early and emphatic attention.

05/20/2008 (2:15 pm)

War With Iran?

The Jerusalem Post has heated up the wires today with a report taken from Army radio, claiming that George W. Bush intends to attack Iran before the end of his term in January 2009.

Army Radio had quoted a top official in Jerusalem claiming that a senior member in the entourage of President Bush, who concluded a trip to Israel last week, had said in a closed meeting here that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were of the opinion that military action against Iran was called for.

The official reportedly went on to say that “the hesitancy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice” was preventing the administration from deciding to launch such an attack on the Islamic Republic for the time being.

Military action is “called for?” Surgical strikes against Iranian supply lines into Iraq have been “called for” for years. However, as Jules Crittenden points out, “‘Called for’ and gonna do it are two very different things.” He also points out that timing and message are everything, and these are things with which the Bush administration has been dismally weak. My own sense is that with the President’s approval rating below 30%, he’s not going to try anything that takes longer than 3 days, because that’s all the time he’ll have before Congress shuts him down.

I’m betting against any significant action, but I could be wrong.