Friday, June 29, 2007

Visiting the Provinces

I'm away from Cuidad El Jefe, first picking up the Heir at camp, and now visiting Papa Jefe at his beautiful country palace along the Pedernales, near Austin, so probably no posting till early next week. Hope everyone is having a good week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Blair's New Job

The "Quartet on the Middle East" -- the UN, USA, Russia and EU for purposes of negotiations on the Israeli/Palestinian Authority/Arab negotiations, have, as widely predicted appointed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to be the group's Special Envoy. (Stories here, here and here). The ex-Prime Minister replaces a former World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, who resigned last year after an attack of good sense, no doubt deciding he'd rather have a life than try to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian issue.
The announcement by the Quartet, delivered on their behalf by US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, says that Mr. Blair will focus, inter alia, on ". . .the institutional governance needs of the Palestinian state, focusing as a matter of urgency on the rule of law. . .'' Good luck to Tony Blair then: the next day that the rule of law applies in territories controled by Palestinians will be the first. "Institutional governance" in that part of the world, if people are lucky, means that the local troops usually obey the general or the mullah and the stealing is performed with the proper paperwork; if unlucky, the general is just the local warlord and the "troops" are whatever gang owns the street this week.
Predictably, Hamas is not happy about the Blair appointment. Fawazi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman, speaking from Gaza (now under new management), says that "Blair, who supported the American occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, may not be a man of peace.'' Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle. The appointment, Mr. Barhum goes on to say "is not acceptable to the Palestinians." Now there's a shocker.
Closer to home for Mr. Blair, The Guardian, no friend of Mr. Blair, says that the new British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is angry about Blair's new job, because he was presented with a fait accompli, and can't make his own imprint on Middle East policy. Since the Labour Party is happily allowing Britain to be swallowed by Paris and Berlin (oops, the EU), which has its own ideas on the Middle East, it's hard to see what Mr. Brown has to complain about, other than Tony still getting his name in the papers.
I doubt this ends well for Tony Blair. On the one hand, now that the Quartet has picked such a high-powered envoy to run negotiations, there will be pressure from the US to see that there is at least the appearance of progress. The US (that is, Bush) likes Blair, and the US is, (since China doesn't care and the Euros are free-riders), the only party willing and able to put up the money for a peace deal. But on the other hand, US backing is likely to be a problem for Mr. Blair, since the EU, much of the United Nations, and the chattering class set in the US and EU hates both Blair and Blair's pal Bush, and longs to see the US cut down to size.
Bottom line, this production looks like a bomb. This situation doesn't need a negotiator, it needs a peacemaker. In 2000, Bill Clinton, at Camp David, offered the Palestinians the best terms the military and political facts entitled them to reasonably expect (see maps here). No dice: Yassir Arafat walked away and left peace on the table. No doubt Arafat preferred the cachet of being an anti-imperialist revolutionary leader as opposed to being a real statesman who made peace. Better for Arafat to be the gang leader among his thugs than to shoulder the mundane responsibililties of real political and national leadership: building a nation, establishing institutions and living with worry about consequences of duty such as murder by rejectionists or ingrates.
The Palestinians will have no state, no peace, no life beyond endless war and poverty until they get beyond revolutionary leaders, beyond mad mullahs who still rant about Palestine from the Jordan to the sea. When the Palestinians find somebody like this man, who put down the gun and became a peacemaker, knowing that in doing so, he signed his own death warrant, they might make themselves a real nation and their children a future. Until that time, Blair and the other "negotiators" might as well give it up and go play golf.

Another Straw in the Wind. . .

This from Winds of Change. . .

See my post of yesterday.

Rough Sailing Ahead

Tony Blair has resigned as UK Prime Minister this morning, and Gordon Brown (also of the Labour Party, but much more left-wing), has formed a new government. My admiration of Mr. Blair is confined to his foreign policy towards the US, domestically, and particularly in defining the relationship of Britain to the EU, he was a disaster for Britain, (see here also). Brown will likely be worse.
I don't expect this government will survive the next British elections, but this change is not going to be good news at all for the US.

Light Posting

Getting ready to disappear for a few days, so posting is apt to be light. El Jefe and SWMBO are off across central Texas, to get the Heir out of camp. Normally that's a nice drive, but this time, with all the rain we're having, the Royal Barge might be in order.

The Bottom Line on Iraq

. . .As I read the facts, we don't have enough troops available and the Iraqi government isn't up to the job. Therefore, reason would suggest that if we are to attain victory (or success or whatever other euphemism people prefer these days for the vulgar, antiquated, arrogant, jingoistic, unrealistic, impolite, cowboy-like word "victory"), we need to replace the Iraqi government and as quickly as possible start increasing the size of our Army and Marines. . .
I continue to believe, as Mr. Blankley does, that victory is worth it, and necessary. As Mr. Blankley so rightly says, defeat in Iraq will have "shocking" consequences which don't bear thinking about.
More fundamentally, I think it is bad policy for a state to undertake a war, and resign it -- deliberately opt to lose it -- with resources unused, strategies untried; without playing every card. Perhaps we should not have begun this war. But that decision was made long ago, and the war is a fact, and we ought to win it, and argue about the causes and reasons later when it's won.
The concept of a limited liability war we can just abandon at will is monstrous. If the strategy is flawed, let it be changed; if more troops are needed, let us find them; if the Iranians want to intervene, then let us match them, escalation for escalation. But the country has made promises, and commitments, and paid too much in blood to simply walk away.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

All Gassed Up

Now this is interesting. . .The BBC says there's a gas station barbecue in Tehran. Meanwhile, the BBC says that "the Americans," have noticed that the gas-importing Iranians, who have plenty of oil but few refineries, do indeed have a weak spot. The gas imports are indeed "a point of 'leverage'."
You don't say ? I'm sure the Iranian regime, in between blowing up Iraqis, bulding nukes, arming Hezbollah and jailing Americans, is making good and sure that their oil refineries and ports avoid, well, mechanical difficulties. That could be unpleasant for some people, couldn't it ?

Liberation Day at Last !

And did I mention that Paris is free at last ? Gotta remember what's important. Not only is she free, she can draw.
This is really, really big folks -- most important event in history since Michael Jackson beat the rap. Now that Liberation Day has come, we can get back to important questions such as whether Paris is better with or without makeup.

Fishing and Finding Trouble

Paris is truly liberated ! While I understand the joy of celebrity worshipers everywhere, perhaps it's time to pay attention to some less-interesting matters. Joshua Muravchik wrote in the Wall Street Journal yesteday about the possibility of a big war in the Middle East "growing more likely every day." Lets go fishing and see what we find.
First, Lebanon. Five UN peacekeepers (three Colombian, two Spanish) were killed by a car bomb in south Lebanon on Sunday. (New York Times, 25 June at A-10). This incident was in south Lebanon, south of the Litani -- a zone patrolled by "peacekeepers" but effectively under Hezbollah control. Hezbollah for its part, for all intents and purposes, is a foreign corps of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran), and takes its orders from Tehran and to a lesser degree, Syria.
The Syrians are tightening the squeeze on the pro-US Lebanese cabinet. The government in Beirut has accused Damacus of smuggling weapons and terrorists into Lebanon. The Lebanese Daily Star reports that the Syrians have closed a border crossing in the northeast of Lebanon. Lebanon's economic barons are worried that Syria will close the whole border, thus throttling Lebanese agricultural exports. In the north, fighting continues between the Lebanese Army and the militant group Fatah al-Islam (friendly with Syria) in and around the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp and the town of Tripoli.
Speaking of Damascus, a story in the Jamestown Foundation's "Eurasia Daily Monitor," by Pavel Falgenhauer, repeated in Asia Times, (citing the Russian business journal Kommersant) reports that Russia has begun deliveries of some MiG31E Foxhound interceptors to the Syrians. (Hat tip: The Russians have denied the whole thing. At any rate, Kommersant said that the aircraft, produced between 1981-94, are going to be refurbished by the Russians before being transferred.
This is an interesting purchase -- if it's real. The MiG 31 is not really as much a true fighter as it is a high-altitude-capable bomber/cruise missile interceptor, derived from the MiG 25 Foxbat. As Mr. Felgenhauer's Asia Times/Jamestown piece says: the MiG 31 ". . .is a purely defensive aircraft, designed to be used over friendly territory to defend against massive air assaults." That's why it's interesting that Kommersant thinks that "Iran is partially or even fully covering the purchase bill." So is the end-user in Damascus, or are the MiG's really for our sanctioned friends in Teheran ? I wonder if the Iranians might have some things they want to defend against massive air assaults ?
Meanwhile, the British are reporting that units of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have been spotted moving into southern Iraq. According to AFP, quoting the British tab The Sun "It is an extremely alarming development and raises the stakes considerably. In effect, it means we are in a full on war with Iran -- but nobody has officially declared it." The Iranians are also supplying arms and explosives to the rebels in Iraq, and the training to use them. It seems that the Iranians have responded to our surge with a surge of their own, as Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top ground commander in Iraq, puts it. (Hat tip: Belmont Club).
Allies are dropping away. Tony Blair leaves 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, to be replaced by Gordon Brown...who is much less supportive of our effort in Iraq.
Iran's first nuclear plant will be operational in October, despite issues over payment with the Russians, says the Jerusalem Post (25 June). Also in the J-Post, Friday, it became publicly known that the Israeli Air Force is training for possible long range strikes. A new package of possible sanctions against Iran have been put together by the US and Israel. . .any bets on how the Euros will feel about them with Blair gone and Sarkozy and Merkel having shaky majorities in their parliaments ?
The Jordanians, Fatah-Palestinians, Egyptians and Israelis are meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt, in the southern Sinai) to set up an anti Hamas-Palestinian/anti-Syrian/anti-Iranian alliance (with American and Israeli backing). Quite aside from the interesting question of how wise it is, in these times, for the Arab principals to be seen in public with Olmert, it sounds like sort of a last gasp summit of the Nasserist nationalist establishment against the Koran-thumpers.
The Iranian press is screaming that Fatah is in bed with the US and the Zionists. Meanwhile, the Speaker of the Majlis, (the Iranian Parliament), says that the Queen's knighting of the author Salman Rushdie (who some people really think is talented) is an act of "blind hostility and mere irrationality of the British government, stressing that the world Muslims would not leave the measure unanswered." I'm very pro-British and pro-Monarchy, but this was a monumental blunder -- a red rag to the bull -- the Muslim mobs are upset from London to Pakistan.
While all of this kaka is hitting the air compressor, Haaretz reports that N, the Deputy Director of Mossad, (the major Israeli foreign intelligence organization) and a candidate to be the Director, next year, has chosen this moment to quit. Pretty lousy time to have a personnel kerfuffle.
The Iranians have coverage on their flanks. Chavez of Venezuela is buying weapons, warning of a "resistance war" against the US. Dictator Hugo leaves Tuesday for Russia, Belarus and Iran. Chavez is supposedly getting himself some Russian submarines.
Besides all this stuff, we have the Hamas coup in Gaza; a politically weak president, hamstrung by an opposition that will impeach him given the chance; and, we're in a totally open election year where the Left is likely to be put in the saddle. The business community just took a look at the future and appears to be betting Left.
Finally there's Mahmoud "Mad Jad" Ahmadinejad, the Iranian nutbar president who keeps raving about destroying Israel and the need to build a nuke. It's not just the Israelis the mullahs want on the block: as Mr. Muravchik observed "the Tehran regime takes its slogan, 'death to America,' quite seriously, even if we do not."
Big wars start when one side looks weak, and the other side consequently misjudges where the red line is. I think the Mullahs are wrong to adjudge us, or at least, our leader as weak. I just don't think that Bush will back away from trouble. Friends, it looks to me like the Iranians, Syrians and friends are flirting around with something really awful. I wonder if we're much closer to the brink of a blow up then we think ?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Quiz Time

Okay, it's Friday, and that means it's Quiz Time.
First up is a military history quiz. I gotta tell you, I came, I saw, and I kicked this one's tush, but, as SWMBO says, I read weird books, so no big deal if you don't do well.
Next is an American citizenship quiz. Encarta bills this test as including "actual questions asked on the exam given by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)." (Clearly it's for the dummies who bother with being legal). I got 11/11 and shame, shame, shame on you if you don't get a good score here !
Finally we have the rock and roll history quiz. El Jefe State Security just arrested the test grader and hid the results forever -- probably in the Federal budget where they'll never be found.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Media Bias ? Where ?

MSNBC reports that the media gives overwhelmingly to Democrats: about 5-1 in the donkey's favor, according to the MSNBC sample. And honest, the big media's not at all biased.
And there's even more. Our friends on the Left want to see that we keep listening only to the proper and no doubt very politically correct party line. Check out what Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) says that our probable next President and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) want to do to talk radio. They've got a study now, you see, and the study called the Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio says that there's a terrible problem with talk radio -- it's dominated by conservatives:
Our conclusion is that the gap between conservative and progressive talk radio is the result of multiple structural problems in the US regulatory system particularly the complete breakdown of the public trustee concept of broadcast, the elimination of clear public interest requirements for broadcasting, and the relaxation of ownership rules.
One big problem is a lack of "ownership diversity" and too many "group owners." Yeah, you know what that means, and this is big trouble, because as the study observes:
. . .stations owned by women, minorities or local owners are statistically less likely to air conservative hosts or shows.
No public trustee concept in place ! Tsk, tsk, they're broadcasting without the presence and sanction of public-spirited People's Commissars. And no diversity ! But fear not, cause the "Center for American Progress and Free Press" has the solution: regulation to, inter alia, put "local and national" caps on how many radio licenses can be owned by media entities,"ensure greater local accountability" and "require commerical owners who fail to abide by enforceable public interest obligations to pay a fee to support public broadcasting."

Yahoo ! More bucks for NPR and PBS ! That'll drown out those nasty right wingers and bore everybody to death !

More seriously, Neal Boortz is right when he says that if they "get control in Washington" that it will be the "end of talk radio as we know it today."
Meanwhile, how bout some bias of a different kind ? The UK Daily Telegraph reports that the BBC, apparently Wednesday night, posted the following request on its website:

Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information
you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below.

(Hat tip: Belmont Club). This request was, the Telegraph writes in "a story on a major operation by US and Iraqi troops against al-Qa'eda somewhere north of Baghdad." This information, the BBC told the Telegraph, was on the BBC site from "late morning" until sometime in the afternoon, when the BBC removed it.The British Ministry of Defence, unaware of this matter, until told by the Telegraph, is investigating, and says it would take it "seriously."

Brit Hume, reporting on this same subject on Fox, says that this occured just one day after an independent report (sources unspecified) accused the BBC of having a "culture of bias." You don't say.

Now why oh why would the BBC, or somebody at the BBC, be soliciting information from people in Iraq on troop movements in current operations north of Baghdad ? Belmont Club, called its post on this subject "Left 50, Up 200." That sounds right on target to me.

Freedom of the press is indeed important. But will the institutional press and its friends suffer us to have any other freedom, other than the "freedom" of the press to not only report the news but make it; "freedom" as they define it: politically correct, not dominated by "right wing extremists ?" I hope civilization survives this kind of freedom.
UPDATE: (22 June) To be fair, it should be noted that Senators Clinton's and Boxer's officers have both denied today that the conversation Senator Inhofe reported took place. Meanwhile, Senator Trent Lott, possibly unhappy about conservative talk radio's opposition to the immigration bill, says we need to "deal with" talk radio.

Hillary Soprano ?

There's a new You Tube video floating around out there -- very reluctantly I'm linking it. Senator Hillary and President Bill are spoofing the ending of The Sopranos.
This is so incredibly twisted and so utterly bizarre on so many levels that the mind can't comprehend it. The former President and his wife the Wannabe President, are comparing themselves, even in fun, to mobsters ? Even television mobsters.
The thing is, the spoof works. Hillary and Bill's sitdown in the diner looks and feels like a meeting of rivals, or opposing powers, or something not resembling your average husband and wife lunch. Not only is there a mob joke, Hillary and her handlers are making a joke, too, out of the Hilla/Bill marriage of convenience; corporate enterprise; strategic alliance; partnership for peace or whatever that relationship really is.
The Sopranos for President ? Well, that's appropriate, somehow: these people would say anything, do anything, crawl over broken glass for power. Mind you, this is normal in a politician at that level, but most try to conceal it, at least a little bit. Few project Hillary's aura of being so hungry to rule.
Hmmm, campaign slogans: "Hillary: an Offer You Can't Refuse ?" "Hillary for Don ?" "Vote for Hillary and Keep your Kneecaps ?" The crazy, completely mind-boggling part of it is, 50 percent of the country is willing to vote for this.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

SC Treasurer Indicted for Cocaine Trafficing ? !

Okay, I've heard of thinking outside the box, but this method of filling the state coffers is a little much !
Seriously, I hope this is not true. If it was, what was this guy thinking ?

Third Party Time

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaving the Republican Party. The Mayor is planning to remain unaffiliated with either major party, and is probably going to run for President.
With a third party in the race, the Democratic candidate's chances of winning, already strong, have just increased exponentially. It is improbable that a third party could do more than serve as a spoiler, as Ross Perot did in 1992 and 1996.

Maximilian of Mexico, R.I.P.

Today is the anniversary of the execution, in 1867, of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico; shot, along with two of his officers, by Juarez’s republicans at Querétaro. The Mexican Empire, a joint project of French Emperor Napoléon III, some bankers and conservative Mexican factions was probably never fated to work out well, not unless the Confederate States to the north had won its war of independence.

Maximilian would have been better advised to accept the advice of his brother, Kaiser Franz-Josef of Austria, decline the proffered throne, remain an Austrian archduke, and live out his life at the beautiful castle of Miramare, near Trieste. The Emperor chose wrongly, and died well.

There is a most interesting website on the Imperial House of Mexico (House of Iturbide of which the Emperor’s heir was a member), which is worth a visit.

Now Won't THAT Get the Mullahs Squawking ?

The Serbian government did not want to fight either -- at any rate not yet (the army was exhausted after the Balkan wars), and not without Russia. But the Serbian government was not strong enough to control the activities of its own extremists, who more and more, were finding a happy-hunting ground among the young Bosnian-Serbs who were sharpening their knives, driven partly by Serb nationalism as such. . .
It was against this background that Franz Ferdinand went to meet his death at Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.
Edward Crankshaw The Fall of the House of Habsburg, Chapter XVIII "The Road To Sarajevo" (Penguin, 1983) at 375-76.
While we're on the subject of H.M. the Queen, it seems that H.M. has been pleased to confer a knighthood on one Salman Rushdie, "for services to literature."
Perhaps you remember Sir Salman ? Author of The Satanic Verses ? Death threats, a fatwa by no less a personage than Khomeini himself ? If you've never heard of Sir Salman Rushdie, you're going to hear lots in the near future -- the Queen (or, rather, the British cabinet) just guaranteed that. Sir Salman is now a "Knight Bachelor" -- a knight, but not a member of one of the several Orders of Chivalry such as the Bath or the Thistle.
Pakistan and Iran have already condemned the honor, Pakistan calling it an "affront to Muslim sentiments," MSNBC reports, adding that a cabinet minister there says this justifies suicide bombers. Students in Pakistan have burned the Queen in effigy and demanded Britain apologize by withdrawing the title.
The Iranians are just as angry, reports the BBC, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry calling the knighthood "a blatant example of the anti-Islamism of senior British officials." Financial Times quotes the same Foreign Ministry official as calling this "an obvious example of fighting Islam”.
The tenor of these remarks ! We're not talking about simple diplomatic protests here. As Wretchard at Belmont Club points out, writing of the demand of the Pakistani cabinet minister that the knighthood be withdrawn -- the foreign officials are arrogating to themselves, as interpreters of their religion, the right to tell the British Queen, of another government, religion, culture -- what to do. They are speaking as if their armies occupied London. Perhaps they talk of Londonistan and really believe it.
Oh boy, people, have I got news for you. What world are you on ? We're not talking about the Pope here, or the President of the United States, but the Queen of Great Britain. The British monarch is not going to withdraw a knighthood, once given, or do much of anything else. . .for anything. The Pope has to worry about the church, and the Presidents about voters. The Queen doesn't worry about anything but God.
The columnist Spengler, over at Asia Times Online, writes sometimes about what he calls the "Pesky Puppies of War." Wars, Spengler argues, are produced not by the "Dogs of War" -- they "incline toward caution, which after all is how they grew up to be dogs" -- but instead by the "puppies", who don't recognize danger till they blunder right into it, if then. "Dogs" like North Korea (today) and possibly parts of the the government of Iran are not so much to be feared as war-causers as are the "puppies" like Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah, perhaps the Iranian Pasdaran, pro-Serbian assassins of Archdukes in 1914, or ranting, enraged crowds in the streets of Tehran and Islamabad today. The anger, manipulations, and missteps of the "puppies", Spengler contends, then drag the supposedly more cautious "dogs" into conflict (much as the pro-Serbian murderers of Archduke Franz Ferdinand did to the Russians in 1914) "because no one wants to disown his dog."
The British government (which approves the Honours Lists) -- just threw the puppies a very large bone.
There is a whole lot of instability in the system right now. There are litters of puppies all over the place. A weak American president. The fall of Fatah in Gaza. Rumblings of a new war in Lebanon. The Iranian nuclear program that nobody seems able to stop, but that Bush has vowed will not proceed. Iranian support to rebels in Iraq. The Saudis concerned about the Shiite resurgence, and worried about an Iranian bomb. A weak Israeli premier. An overstretched US military. An Iranian ruler of questionable political and mental stability. Closer to home, both an ailing, aging Latin American caudillo, and a new, young and assertive one -- eager to confront a United States which imports 60 percent of its oil, and is bleeding cash.
Finally, please excuse the mixing of metaphors, but there is a whole lot of powder lying about the open magazine doors. We must be exceedingly careful just now of a spark.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Trooping the Colour

The Monarchist blog has some splendid photographs of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II and the Trooping the Colour ceremony in London on Saturday, in honor of the Queen's Birthday.
The British do such splendid ceremonies. Just one of the reasons I'm a wee bit of a monarchist myself. A brief discussion of the Trooping the Colour ceremony can be found here.

18 June 1940: The Call

All my life I have cherished a certain idea of France, that is inspired by feeling as well as by reason. . . My instinct tells me that providence created her for triumphs and disasters. If, in spite of this, France behaves in a mediocre fashion, I feel that there has been an error, due to the mistakes of the French [people] rather than the character of the nation. The positive side of my mind is convinced that France is true to herself only when she stands in the first rank; that only great enterprises can neutralize the ferment of disunity which her people carry in their veins... France cannot be France for me without grandeur. France is not France unless she is great...

Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs (Vol. I, "The Call")

The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government. This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting. . . But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!

. . . .

The destiny of the world is here. I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who would come there, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the special workers of armament industries who are located in British territory or who would come there, to put themselves in contact with me. Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. . .

Charles deGaulle “The Call” Radio London, 18 June 1940

On 1o May 1940, after months of quiet following the fall ofPoland; World War II turned from a "phony war" to a real one, as the Germans launched their long-predicted attack against the western allies (France, Britain, Holland and Belgium). In no time at all, everything was going Hitler's way: the French armed forces collapsed in front of the Germans in just over a month. Belgium surrendered to the Germans on 27 May. On 14 June 1940, the Germans occupied Paris, the French government fleeing to Bordeaux. The British armies were leaving the continent at Dunkerque. For a short time, it appeared that Adolf Hitler had won the Second World War before it was really under way.

The 1940 collapse was the hour of the famous World War I French military commander Henri Phillippe Pétain (hero of Verdun) and his longtime protege, the then generally unknown Charles deGaulle, a tank general, and recently, a junior government minister. The two had once been very close: DeGaulle had named his son, Phillippe, for his mentor, Petain.

The two generals reacted to the disaster very differently. Pétain, nearing senility, was called out of rustication as Ambassador to Spain to lead a defeatist regime that accepted a humilating armistice with Germany (22 June) and hoped for collaboration with the Third Reich. However deGaulle, all his life a loyal, more-or-less conservative, obedient army officer, saw the matter differently, and took it on himself to flout the law, ignore the lawful orders of his superiors and revolt against the legitimate, more or less democratically constituted Pétain government. DeGaulle fled to London and announced his intention to carry on the war for France, despite France, with or without France. On 18 June 1940, deGaulle made "L'Appel" -- the call (quoted above)-- to fight on, from a radio studio in London.
In June 1940, the great majority of the French population were tired of the war and wanted peace, at any price. The people supported the Pétain regime and most viewed deGaulle as a dangerous rebel. There is no question whatever that deGaulle's call to fight on was unpopular at the time, and in defiance of public opinion, not to mention illegal.
The audacity of deGaulle's stand is obscured today by the truly towering figure that deGaulle became later. DeGaulle, that day in June, was a political nobody. An undersecretary of state for war in a government that had been legally replaced, a just-promoted Brigadier-General, penniless, in flight from his homeland just ahead of warrants of arrest, deGaulle had no official standing whatever to call for continued resistance. Court-martialed and condemned to death in absentia by the French Army, and ignored by French officialdom, the only assets of deGaulle's France Libre, early on, were his own determination, a few fanatically loyal adherents, and the sometimes uncertain patronage of that other great maverick, Winston Churchill.

By 1944 of course, it was Pétain's pro-German regime that was the farce, and deGaulle's exile provisional government that had the support of the bulk of French public opinion. DeGaulle's public standing increased despite his erstwhile allies Roosevelt and Churchill, who thought to use the France Libre movement for their own purposes and planned to undercut deGaulle by establishing an allied-run occupation regime in liberated France. DeGaulle also had to contend with communist elements in the resistance, who had their own plans for liberated France. All these schemes were scuttled when Paris fell that August, and that city's inhabitants gave deGaulle a tumultuous welcome: his walk down the Champs-Elysées was truly one of the finest triumphs any man could ever receive and completed the work he began in June of 1940.
The magnitude of this man's achievements cannot be understated. Starting in June 1940, DeGaulle over the next several years took a ragtag band of penniless rebels and adventurers, and somehow built an army, and made a real government. He accepted the help of America and Britain, but managed to avoid being their stooge. He dodged a take-over, under circumstances made to order for it, by the strongest Communist Party in western Europe. Finally, deGaulle re-established the French Republic and obtained for this beaten, bankrupt, disarmed and humilitated country a seat in the councils of the great powers, and at the peace table. Because of deGaulle, France got a UN veto as good as that of the US or the Soviet Union. All of this was based on little more than force of personality.
Predictably, deGaulle soon fell out with the polticians, and retreated to private life after the war. Recalled to power in 1958, to deal with a political impasse over the revolt in Algeria, deGaulle assumed quasi-dictatorial powers, and ultimately established the Fifth Republic. His constitution governs France today. DeGaulle put down an attempted military coup in 1962, dodged an assassination attempt, and successfully managed France's withdrawal from Algeria.
Finally, in that year of chaos, 1968, President deGaulle survived left-wing student and union demonstrations in Paris that threatened to topple the Fifth Republic by calling successfully for a bigger demonstration by France's "silent majority" in his favor. DeGaulle died peacefully at home in 1970. His memoirs are considered a literary masterpiece in both English and French.
DeGaulle's legions of detractors criticise his alleged authoritarian personality, and compare him with his contemporary, the Spanish dictator Franco. This is unfair. Franco's chief concern was always Franco, deGaulle's was always France. But deGaulle was concerned always with France as a nation, as a historical construct, and did not necessarily view the interests of France the nation as identical with those of the current French people
Vindicator of the national honor in the darkest hour of modern French history, deGaulle cannot be easily categorized as liberal or conservative, in the sense that the terms are understood. His basic political outlook is best summed up by the quotation from his memoirs above; the one constant in his military and political life, through two world wars, a depression, and the national trauma of de-colonization -- was that his whole life was at the service of the grandeur, as he understood it, of France. As things turned out, deGaulle's view of the situation was usually right, and 20th Century French and European history largely vindicated him.

NOTE: Much of this was borrowed from an earlier post on the occasion of deGaulle's birthday. It was as appropriate there as here.

Earth Or Paris ?

Victoria Newton, writing in The Sun, says that America's favorite Robot Vice-President, ALGORE, is enraged because, reports Ms. Newton: Al's on a mission to save the planet, and "everyone else seems more interested in saving Paris Hilton."
Ms. Newton helpfully provides a fact sheet, comparing important features of Earth and Paris.
Although it's hard for me to believe that ANYBODY could not be deeply concerned with Paris's stay in the LA County Bastille, I admit that, on mature reflection, global warming seems, to El Jefe to be a slightly bigger problem then liberating Paris. The Sun also includes a picture of the lovely Ms. Newton and our once and future Robot Leader (dressed in all black, looking like Darth Vader on an exercise program) -- mouth characteristically open and gums flapping as he no doubt tries to get Ms. Newton to Come to Jesus (or Gaia ?), on ignoring Paris and Saving the Planet.
Still, you gotta wonder why ALGORE isn't more interested in the, well, not at all unattractive Ms. Newton than he is in gassing about global warming ? Maybe he really is a block of wood ? Somebody should take his pulse.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mike Nifong Disbarred

In a development rating the big siren on the Drudge Report home page, the Duke Lacrosse prosecutor, Mike Nifong, has been disbarred by the State Bar of North Carolina.
No doubt he deserved it, and, from Day 1 of that sad business, I found Mr. Nifong's loudmouth TV-camera-chasing manner extremely offputting. It may be fitting, but I find the television/internet lynch mob atmosphere surrounding the bar proceedings repulsive. Rather like last week's media festival over Paris Hilton. Mr. Nifong has been disbarred, disgraced, and has other legal problems confronting him. Let the parties and the courts deal with them. But enough of Nifong TV, every hour on the hour.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Quiz

It's Friday, so it's time for a test.

Buried Cars. . .

Note to frequent commenter Louie Louie:

It seems that someone, in 1957, buried a Plymouth Belvedere in your neighborhood.

Well, maybe not in your neighborhood, but on the courthouse lawn. Yeah, sounds weird to me too, burying a car at the courthouse, but I'm sure it made sense at the time. Probably it was Bush, already trying to hide the fact that 9/11 was an inside job.
The article says the car-hiders buried the ride with "a case of beer, and the contents of a typical woman's handbag placed in the glove compartment: 14 bobby pins, a bottle of tranquilizers, a lipstick, a pack of gum, tissues, a pack of cigarettes, matches and $2.43."
How did they arrive at the sum of $2.43 ?
Lots of other questions present themselves. Now we know that the local Environmental/Public Scold Gestapo will confiscate the cigarettes, but will anybody try the gum, the tranquilizers and the case of beer ? Maybe all at once ?
No, I wouldn't drink the beer either. But who gets the bobby pins ? What color's the lipstick ? Were the tissues Kleenex ?
Apparently the car-buriers included ten gallons of gasoline. Will they sell it at 2007 prices ?
These and many other questions need to be answered, LL. We need to know if the car starts, and whether Elvis is slumped over in the driver's seat.

We need a FULL report on what happens with this.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Two State Solution. . .

It looks like Palestinian terrorist organization/political party Hamas is in control of most of the Gaza Strip, for whatever control of miles of rubble might be worth.
Fatah's still hanging on in the West Bank. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, has issued a "Presidential decree" firing the Hamas "government," reports the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Abbas also wants an international force sent to Gaza to restore law and order. Translation: Mr. Abbas ain't got the soldiers or the money and wants somebody else to fight his civil war.
With Fatah sitting in the West Bank, and Hamas squatting in Gaza, it looks like the Palestinians have their "two state solution."

Happy Birthday, US Army

Today is the birthday of the US Army -- at 232 years old, the Army's existence predates by over a year that of the state which it defends and upholds. The history of America and her Army are synonymous, and the story of the Nation is carried in the flags: the regiments mounting guard today in Kabul and Baghdad and at posts on all the continents are those which carried the flags at Bataan, at Normandy, in the Ardennes, and in the Argonne; at Little Big Horn and New Orleans; and at Inchon, Pusan, and Hamburger Hill; at San Juan Hill, Cerro Gordo and other places too.
God bless friends, wherever duty takes you, and thank you. All who went before are still with you there today.


El Jefe, as some readers have perhaps noticed, is somewhat interested in history. . .particularly military history, which among other things is often a question of dates.
Today is the 200th anniversary of one of French Emperor Napoléon I's greatest victories. On this day in 1807, in East Prussia, 23 miles southwest of Königsberg, the Emperor and his armies defeated the Russian Army at the Battle of Friedland (Napoléon at that battle is depicted by in the painting by Horace Vernet, above). The Emperor effectively destroyed the Russian forces, opening the way to the Treaties of Tilsit, which ended the War of the Fourth Coalition, and ensured French domination of central Europe. . . until the next war with Russia in 1812.
14 June was always a lucky day for Napoléon: on this same day, in 1800, he defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo, in northern Italy.
Also, on this day in 1645, the army of King Charles I of England was destroyed by the Parlimentary "New Model" army of Oliver Cromwell (a great general but a villain), at the Battle of Naseby.

Flag Day

Today is Flag Day in the US, recognized both by statute and by Presidential proclamation. It's also National Flag Week, so be sure to follow the lead of El Jefe, as above, and display the flag sometime this week. On this date in 1777, the Second Continental Congress, by resolution, adopted the Stars and Stripes as the national flag of the United States.
ADDENDUM: 1777 was a hard year for the American rebels, until the Battle of Saratoga in October. The British blockade was biting, and money and supplies were tight; at least until the less and less covert French aid program got ramped-up in late 1777 and early 78. But when the year got started, both fearful Americans and hopeful British refered to 1777 as the "Year of the Hangman." Look at that date again and guess why. . .

Republican Divide on Immigration Policy

The Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman has a most interesting piece this week on President Bush's "suicide mission" on immigration policy. Half ironically, half seriously, he descries the President as a man who thinks he's a hacendado -- a member of the old-line Mexican landed gentry, "duty-bound not just to work 'his' people but to protect them as well."
That seems a little off the wall to me, but Mr. Fineman is onto something when he tells us that President Bush once told him that he was a "southwestern" Republican, and not a "southern" Republican. This is of importance because the heart of both the current GOP and the opposition to the President's immigration legislation is in the South ". . .where the threast of being inundated by immigrants is less immediate, but the sense of estrangement from metropolitan, bi-coastal America [is] great."
By contrast, some "Southwestern" Republicans, those from places such as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada -- are simply not as concerned about immigration, and more open to the pro-immigration arguments of the business lobbies. Southern and Rustbelt Republicans are answering Fineman's question as to whether "borders mean anything" with a resounding YES.
The history of American politics is largely the story of rivalry between urban North and rural South, with the Midwest and West falling into one camp or the other. The immigration controversy shows us that this pattern continues. Mr. Fineman is spot-on about the estrangement between the South and "metropolitan bi-coastal America." I think it's deepening too, and goes both ways. Wonder where that leads us ?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Eye Candy

The Daily Mail doesn't like Kate Winslet's dress. The Daily Mail's wacko.

Glass Houses

It is painfully obvious that Syrian ruler Bashir al-Assad and his tinpot regime don't take America or its friends seriously. Today's murder by car bomb of anti-Syrian Lebanese politician Walid Eido, Mr. Eido's son -- along with Mr. Eido's bodyguards and a half-dozen other Beirut citizens unlucky enough to be nearby -- looks uncommonly like the Syrian regime thumbing its nose at Uncle Sam. Careful it isn't chopped off.
Syria's only ports are on an American lake, and the country shares a border with at least two American allies, one loaded with enough US troops and munitions to transform Syria and all in it into glowing slag. Why aren't the Syrians good and worried ? They ought to be.
Iran is perhaps beyond our ability to easily intimidate. Boy Assad and his Baath regime should be a different matter. Are we really going to let the Syrian secret police and the Iranian stooges they also enable destroy a friendly government ? Far better to remind Mr. Assad and his minions that they live in a brittle glass house, and they had better stop throwing stones.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Real News: Paris in Crisis

The G-8 have apparently warned Iran about its nuclear program, but I don't know how the heads of the world's big industrial powers can focus, when there's a REAL crisis: Paris Hilton may be headed back to jail. Paris has made the ritual celebrity promenade down the Hollywood Freeway and her destiny is being decided EVEN NOW.

H.M.S. Astute

The British Royal Navy launched a splendid new submarine today, HMS Astute, (S. 119), lead ship of her class, which will be turned over to the Royal Navy in August. Astute, christened by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, is being constructed at the BAE shipyards at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
Astute is the lead ship of her (much delayed) class: 7,675 tons, constructed as a "stealth" boat, with six torpedo tubes; carrying both the Harpoon anti-ship missile, and the Tomahawk cruise missile; as well as Spearfish torpedoes. In the US Navy, Astute is comparable to the USS Virginia class attack submarines.
In contrast to the US Navy, which through no fault of its own, is too often stuck naming its own splendid ships for some sometimes less than appropriate politicians; the Royal Navy is allowed to have proper names for its ships. Astute's three sisters will be called Ambush, Artful and Audacious. Fitting names for attack submarines ! Congratulations to the Royal Navy.

Immigration Bill Dead

Immigration legislation in the Senate, for some weird reason backed by the White House, appears to be dead for this session of Congress. Thank God: this was an utterly misbegotten, wrongheaded piece of legislation.
The primary defect in the bill, as the Rasmussen polling organization says, was that the bill focused too much on the status of illegal alients already present in the United States. Control of the border and reducing the influx of more illegal aliens was plainly a secondary concern.
The borders must be controlled first. Fences, more law enforcement, and a greatly expanded Border Patrol are needed at once. When the frontier with Mexico is back under control, then we can figure out what to do about illegal aliens already in this country.
The Republican Party is flirting with suicide on this issue. Just as Democrats must guard against listening to the Lefty university professor/peacenik crowd too much; the greatest error Republicans can make is to appear to be nothing more to voters than a congress of business interests. When the public chooses to trust Republicans with elective office, it's because Republicans are seen as adults on the issue of protecting the nation.
Controlling the national frontiers is protecting the nation. Being welcoming to immigrants is one thing. Welcoming people who violate our laws, or having certain financial interests winking at their illegal arrival because large numbers of immigrant labor depresses wages -- that's another.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Iron Dice Begin to Roll

The question for Austria and Germany, therefore, was whether St. Petersburg sincerely wanted to negotiate and was taking military measures to put pressure on them, or whether the Russians were talking while they secretly mobilized. Sazonov's volatility and general unreliability did not help the situation.
William Jannen, Jr., The Lions of July: Prelude to War, 1914 (Presidio, 1996), at 135. (The title of this post is from this work also).
In recent weeks, Iran has evidently stepped up its support of anti-US terrorists and rebels in both Iraq and to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iranian arms and troublemakers are busting out all over.
On the Afghan front, ABC reports that NATO captured quantities of Iranian Explosive Formed Projectiles (EFP's), 1,600 pounds of C-4 explosive and other heavy weapons in two intercepted convoys last 11 April and 3 May. (Hat Tip: Belmont Club). Some of these items, says the ABC report, are ". . .identical to Iranian supplied goods previously discovered in Iraq." An analyst from the RAND institute, quoted in the ABC piece, says all this has the fingerprints of involvement by the Pasdaran's "Quds Force."
Meanwhile, in Iraq, recent acquisitions of Iranian weapons by the rebels, according to Radio Free Europe, may include the Fajr-3 rocket, used by Hezbollah last year to shell Israeli cities, plus an assortment of mortars, small-arms and the aforementioned EFP's. A Washington Post report on Sunday corroborates the report of Fajrs, as well as the captured arms convoys in Afghanistan, and that the flow of arms appears to be increasing. The Post story discusses the "recent" use of a Fajr rocket on the Baghdad Green Zone, and notes that the rocket's remains bore 2007 markings indicating the weapon had, at least once, belonged to the Pasdaran.
But US officials, no doubt remembering what they thought they knew about pre-war Iraq -- don't seem to want to hear any of this. Secretary of Defense Gates is quoted in the ABC story as saying the US does not have evidence of Iranian government involvement in aiding the Taliban.
Uh, right. Internal documents obtained by ABC says a "senior coalition official" thinks that not only is the Iranian government supporting the Taliban, but that the support is increasing, and part of a "considered policy." Duh.
In Israel, the Jerusalem Post today says Israeli television is reporting that Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are preparing for war with Israel, supposedly in August. The nature of the evidence is not cited. . .but the J-Post story also reports the Israeli "Security Cabinet" in a flurry of meetings over Syria, and the Olmert government attempting to assure Syria that Israel wants peace. Meanwhile, the Israeli military is cautioning the press to quit speculating.
On Tuesday, MSNBC, inter alia, reported that Iranian President Mahmoud "Mad Jad" Ahmadinejad claims Iran's nuclear program cannot be stopped and that trying to do so, Mad Jad says, is "playing with the lion's tail." Mad Jad tells us, also, that Israel's demise is imminent: "God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime."
Can it be that Mad Jad and the Mullahs, (probably encouraged by the Lefty offensive against "Bushitler"), have made a calculation: that the American people are too weak; the American military too stretched; the American government too fragmented -- to stop an Iranian bid for hegemony in the Persian Gulf ? Arms and agents all over the place. How many shipments of Fajrs, EFP's, mortars and small arms are out there that we DON'T know about ? Iraq and Afghanistan are giant haystacks probably stiff with needles. It looks like a sort of Tet Offensive in Iraq and Afghanistan is in the offing, in conjunction with the Democrat push against the war in Congress, designed to finish off public support for the war in Iraq and force US withdrawals.
As for why the Iranians are doing this, Spengler over at Asia Times has some good thoughts on the motive. For almost a year, the Question before the House has been whether the Iranians wished to really negotiate on nukes and better relations, or whether they have been spinning their wheels, and ours, prior to making their own little bid for empire. The Iranians, or rather, their leadership, seem to have chosen the latter.
Like so many other calculators in history, like so many other little petty tyrants. Mad Jad the Stop and Go clerk and friends are quite probably, disastrously, tragically. . .wrong. The Lefties are not going to be allowed --cannot be allowed -- their cherished re-run of the Vietnam humiliation. We are not walking away from the Persian Gulf -- EVER. The US produces 7.61 million barrels of oil per day, and consumes 20.73 million barrels a day. Europe's energy picture is, if anything, worse. The Mullah regime, with its bluster about wiping out America and the Zionist entity -- is not going to be suffered to have that much power over the Persian Gulf oil. Quite aside from the lunacy of sitting on our hands while lunatics gets a bomb, an Iranian nuclear weapon will start a chain-reaction of another type. If the Shiites get their nuke, the Saudis will then demand one, and then the Egyptians. . .nobody will be able to stop.
How many people will the Sawdust Caesars kill this time ? Will Mad Jad get his nuke ? Wipe out the Zionist entity ? Drive America home from the Gulf, back to a country convulsed with riots ? Maybe. The mullahs seem to think they'll come out on top in the event of a confrontation with the US. Mr. Riad Kahwaji, writing from Tehran in Defence, says that, in the event of US strikes against Iran:
. . .Tehran's primary targets would be US military installations and strategic targets in US - allied Arabian [Persian] Gulf states, including oil depots, refineries, power plans and desalination facilities. US warships would also face waves of surface-to-surface cruise missiles sent to overwhelm their countermeasures, said several senior Iranian officials whose comments reflect the official line but who could not obtain permission to speak on the record on such short notice.
Just what do Mad Jad and the "Senior Iranian Officials" think will happen after that ? Drive the US from the Gulf, eh ? More likely, they'll manage to turn Tehran into glass.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Turkish Troops in Kurdistan ?

CBS, AP and others say that Turkish troops have crossed the international border between Turkey and (technically), Iraq, to enter Kurdish territory, allegedly in "hot pursuit" of terrorists or guerrillas, (depending on taste). "Several thousand" troops are involved, say "Turkish security officials" talking to AP.
Meanwhile the Turkish Foreign Ministry denies any such thing has happened -- no Turkish troops were ever there. If they, hypothetically, might be there, it's evidently a "hot pursuit" and not an "incursion." No doubt that's a significant difference to somebody.
Back on 25 May, the Turkish Foreign Minister said Turkey had no immediate plans to send troops to Iraq. If the Turks were not and are not -- planning or doing anything, they are sure talking a lot about Kurdistan.
The Kurds have been a problem for the Turks for quite a while. What has changed ? Are the Turks positioning themselves to take care of quasi-independent Kurdistan once the Americans leave ?

6 June 1944

When you go home,
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today.

Inscription, British War Memorial, Kohima, India. (Attributed to John Maxwell Edmonds, Times Literary Supplement[London], 4 July 1918).
63 years ago today, the allies returned to the European continent: the Normandy landings signaling the beginning of the end of Hitler's Germany. The invasion, Operation Overlord, with 15,000 vessels, over ten divisions of troops (from the US, UK and Canada as well as Free-French contingents) and thousands of aircraft, is still the largest amphibious assault ever attempted, only approached in size by the invasion of Okinawa in 1945.
Neither D-Day nor the ensuing Normandy Campaign decided the war -- in retrospect, the Germans had lost the war by August 1941. But the allied armies delivered the western half of the continent from Nazi bondage and barbarism, and by their victory bought liberty and freedom for much of Europe. In the fullness of time, eastern Europe too, would be delivered from tyranny: and the foundation for that outcome was laid in particular by the sacrifices of the Americans, Canadians, Britons, Poles and Frenchmen who died on Normandy beaches, and in the hedgerow country (bocage) in the summer of 1944.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Six Day War

Today is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the Six Day War, forced on Israel by a coalition of Arab states. In retrospect, the war was decided in its first hours by Operation Focus (Moked), the dramatic destruction of the Egyptian Air Force, caught on the ground by the Israeli Air Force. I woke up this morning with the ambition of doing a Six Day War post: spent some of last night with my books out getting ready. But after reading the inimitable Ralph Peter's piece on that conflict in the New York Post this morning, I'll simply refer you to Lieut. Col. Peters, because his piece cannot be improved on.
Forty years on, the Israelis still have every right to be pleased with their splendid victory over Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which bought the Israelis a period of relative peace, at least at home. The Six Day War in some ways resembles (rather ironically) Germany's great victory over France in 1940: a sudden and rapid blow; resulting in the surprising (from the outside), collapse of a seemingly powerful adversary. The Israelis managed to do somewhat better in coping with the changed strategic landscape their victory produced than the Germans did with their success in France, but the last chapter has not yet been written.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Putting the Royal Back in Canada's Navy and Air Force

"Keep your hands off the regiment, ye iconoclastic civilian officials who meddle and muddle in Army matters."
Field Marshal Joseph Garnet Wolseley, Viscount Wolseley, KP, OM, GCB, GCMG (1833-1913) (quoted in Bryan Farwell, Queen Victoria's Little Wars, (Norton, 1972) at 362.).
The Monarchist website has a link to a really well-done video in support of a petition that's circulating to put the prefix "Royal" back in front of the designations of Canada's naval and air forces.
Until 1968, the two services were known, respectively, as the "Royal Canadian Navy" and the "Royal Canadian Air Force" -- the titles they bore in the Second World War (the Navy bore the title by from 1911, the Royal Canadian Air Force was "Royal" from 1924). But in 1968, the Canadians reorganized their forces, dropping the "Royal" appellation. Quite naturally, some patriotic Canadians are offended, and they've come up with a lobbying effort and a petition to get the Canadian Parliament to fix matters.
Hopefully, the Canadian Parliament sees wisdom in restoring service traditions that it meddled with. El Jefe is from a long way south of the border -- but he wishes the petitioners well.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Today's Quiz

School's out, so time for a test. Here's a World War II History quiz. This is easy, but then, I'm into this stuff. Have a go, and see if the education system earned your tax dollars. (Hat tip: In from the Cold).
No interest in World War II ? Well, try a quiz on the possible setting for World War III. Here's a basic Geography and History of the Middle East quiz. If you don't like the Middle East either, try this World Capitals quiz.

Now We've Got Them Right Where They Want Us

This last Wednesday, the UN Security Council voted to establish a “Special Tribunal for Lebanon” to prosecute the murder, two years ago, of Rafik Hariri, a former Prime Minister of that country.

The Syrian government is thought by the present Lebanese government and its supporters to have had Mr. Hariri assassinated – probably a good guess. My own opinion is that our Iranian friends are also to be found back of the business someplace.

This resolution was put through the Security Council by the US, UK, France and others – with the usual suspects, China and Russia in opposition. However, they abstained from blocking the resolution with a veto.

All of the great and good think this resolution is a step forward: and that the Syrians, and whoever else might be responsible, will be “brought to justice.”

I see the situation differently.

First, and most obviously, assuming the UN finds evidence of Syrian responsibility, what exactly is going to happen then ? The UN has no police, no army, no means of enforcement, other than what its member states put up. And we know who will wind up serving the writ on Boy Assad, should it come to that.

More importantly, we are setting up bad, bad precedents for the future. The Chinese, Russians and others maintain that the Security Council is exceeding its authority, and that this whole business amounts to interference in Lebanese internal affairs. Okay, these states aren’t our friends, but in this case, they are exactly right.

This "special tribunal" business is going to boomerang on us. Right off the bat, I can think of a half dozen tyrants, troublemakers and other so called great leaders – all members in good standing of the United Dictators Organization – over whom I'd shed no tears if they came to grisly ends. One day, to put it bluntly, it may well be in the state interest of the United States, or in that of its allies, to have these people bumped off. Do you think maybe that many people (including the US wacko professor set) would then see another "Special Tribunal" as sauce for the goose ?
Similarly, we have used covert and overt means during the war on terror to specifically target persons deemed threatening to the US or its allies. Will we be looking at UN “Special Tribunals” someday for using drones to kill Al Qaeda leaders in Yemen, or for the use of “extraordinary rendition” ? Hey, the wacko professors want that too.

Mind you, I am in no way saying the Syrians or whoever might have killed Rafik Harari should be let off scot-free. Far from it: Mr. Harari was a patriot, and by all accounts an honest man, and leader of a faction it would be in the US interest to see running Lebanon. His death should, and must be, avenged. We should talk in the UN and the other talking shops until we’re blue in the face about Syrian injustice – but that’s talk and propaganda.

As far as the UN goes, the Harari matter should be kept political, and not made legal – a matter for sovereign states to work out politically, with, as necessary, the aid of their intelligence agencies and their militaries. It's quite enough that we pay for the UN (truly the least bright idea Franklin Roosevelt ever had) -- let alone that we have to listen to it. If the Syrians want to blow up Lebanese leaders, than they should pay a price: perhaps learning that bombs can move across borders both ways. But don't involve the lawyers ! Americans have no interest in aiding the transnational progressives in the UN and the international law community in placing limits on the sovereignty of nation states. By doing so, American diplomats are (intentionally ?) aiding the Lilliputians in tying down Gulliver.