"Are there any, what we calls facts, yet?"
        - Jeremy Paxman, awaiting the first results on election night, "BBC2 Newsnight"

"It is easier and less costly to change the way people think about reality than it is to change reality."
        - Morris Wolfe

Not long ago, if you wanted to seize political power in a country, you had merely to control the army and the police. Today it is only the most backward countries that fascist generals, in carrying out a coup d'etat, still use tanks. If a country has reached a high level of industrialization the whole scene changes. The day after the fall of Khrushchev, the editors of Pravda, Izvestia, the heads of the radio and the television were replaced; the army wasn't called out. Today a country belongs to the person who controls the communications.
        - Umberto Eco , "Travels In Hyper-Reality"

Israel - Islam - AfricaGlobalisation


The anti-war crowd is right. It is all about oil - although perhaps not in the way it means. Consider some of the current threats to global stability: Russia's contempt for international norms, Iran's nuclear ambitions, the massacres in Darfur, the descent of South America into Leftist authoritarianism. All these crises are oil-fuelled. The six-fold rise in the price of a barrel, and the commensurate boost it has given to the petro-kleptocracies, is the central fact of our age... Russian revanchism correlates remarkably closely to the price of a barrel. When oil last peaked, at the end of the 1970s, the Red Army poured into Afghanistan. When prices collapsed at the end of the 1980s, so did the USSR... What do you suppose gives the Sudanese government the confidence to defy world opinion in Darfur? Chiefly the fact that its revenue is secure as long as China keeps buying its petrol... An oil strike could well be the worst thing that can happen to a country. By giving the regime an independent income stream, it breaks the link between taxation and representation.
        - Daniel Hannan, "The Telegraph" (Aug'07)

No previous generation has had to deal with different revolutions occurring simultaneously in separate parts of the world. The quest for a single, all-inclusive remedy is chimerical. In a world in which the sole superpower is a proponent of the prerogatives of the traditional nation-state, where Europe is stuck in halfway status, where the Middle East does not fit the nation-state model and faces a religiously motivated revolution, and where the nations of South and East Asia still practice the balance of power, what is the nature of the international order that can accommodate these different perspectives? What should be the role of Russia, which is affirming a notion of sovereignty comparable to America's and a strategic concept of the balance of power similar to Asia's? Are existing international organizations adequate for this purpose? What goals can America realistically set for itself and the world community? Is the internal transformation of major countries an attainable goal? What objectives must be sought in concert, and what are the extreme circumstances that would justify unilateral action? This is the kind of debate we need, not focus-group-driven slogans designed to grab headlines.
        - Henry Kissinger, "The Washington Post"

If you believe that capitalism is a system in which money matters more than freedom, you are doomed when people who don't believe in freedom attack using money.
        - Edward Lucas, "The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West"

In Sudan, the province of Darfur is being visited by a medieval savagery, its women and children raped, its villages torched, its men murdered. This is being done by their own government, which also sits on the UN Commission of Human Rights. No doubt it can get some useful advice on such matters from a fellow member of the commission, Zimbabwe... The UN's refusal to authorise armed action to make Iraq conform with UN resolutions (thanks to the French unconditional veto) was the green light for dictators everywhere.
History tells us that evil repeatedly revisits mankind, this evil can only be deterred by military might; and if not, it must then be defeated, at far greater cost in blood and gold, by violence. This is the lesson of Belsen, of the Gulag, of Srebenica; and now it is the lesson of Darfur, which today haunts the conscience of the world.
        - Kevin Myers, "Preparing the Way for Evil", "The Telegraph"

As a realist, Paul Kennedy understands that it is the veto that explains the UN’s success compared with that of its predecessor, the League of Nations. Peace comes not from virtue but from the management of power. The veto was granted because it reflected reality. Neither America nor the Soviet Union would have joined without it and it was their absence that doomed the league. The veto does not stop great powers, especially veto powers, from attacking the weak; but it does stop the UN from taking on the strong. The veto was a way of avoiding both irrelevance and a third world war. The right of veto thus belongs not to those who make a positive contribution but to those with vast destructive power. On that basis, for the latter part of the cold war, the P5 might have become the P2. Perhaps P1 would be enough today. But, since there is a veto on removing the veto, such a change, however logical, is inconceivable. Great projects such as the UN, the League of Nations and the Concert of Europe come out of the destruction of general war, and we must hope that never comes again.
        - Robert Cooper, reviewing Kennedy's "The Parliament of Man", "The Times"

As a supranational body, the United Nations has obviously passed the point of diminishing returns. Inaugurated as an Anglo-American “coalition of the willing” against Hitler and his allies, the UN—in its failure to confront the genocides in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur and in its abject refusal to enforce its own resolutions in the case of Iraq—is a prisoner of the “unilateralism” of France, Russia, and, to a lesser extent, China. NATO may have been somewhat serviceable in Kosovo (the first engagement in which it ever actually fought as an alliance), but it has performed raggedly in Afghanistan. The European Union has worked as an economic solvent on redundant dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, and also on old irredentist squabbles in Ireland, Cyprus, and Eastern Europe. But it is about to reach, if it has not already, a membership saturation point that will disable any effective decision-making capacity. A glaring example of this disability is the EU’s utter failure to compose a viable constitution. Roberts correctly notes that “along with over two centuries of amendments the entire (readable and easily intelligible) U.S. Constitution can be printed out onto twelve pages of A4-sized paper; the (unreadable and impenetrably complicated) proposed European Constitution ran to 265.”
        - Christopher Hitchens, "City Journal"

The situation in Zimbabwe is intolerable: on that all decent people can agree. Robert Mugabe has turned the breadbasket of Africa into a wasteland. He has set his militia, his army and his police to beat, rape and kill his own people. He respects neither the results of any democratic ballot nor the norms of human decency. Neither pregnant women nor children are exempted from the brutality of his thugs... In an ideal world, the United Nations would raise a multinational force to go into Zimbabwe and ensure that free and fair elections were held. However, we do not live in an ideal world and the UN is — to put it mildly — far from an ideal institution. Its declaration on Monday that legitimate elections cannot be held in Zimbabwe at present was a feeble batsqueak of indignation, but also about the most we can expect from the UN at this point.
There is a huge misconception in this country and elsewhere that the UN is a Holy See for the modern era: the moral conscience of mankind, designed to guarantee basic freedoms for the peoples of the world. This is historically illiterate. The founding aim of the UN was to avoid great power conflict — which is why five nations have a veto over its actions, and the organisation has, to repeat the old joke, the engine of a lawnmower and the brakes of a Rolls-Royce.
Two of the Security Council’s permanent members — Russia and China — have no interest in setting a precedent whereby repression and the failure to hold free and fair elections are a trigger for other nations to intervene in the internal affairs of a country. In essence, they have no intention of drafting an international jurisprudence that could one day be used against them. It is no accident that the great humanitarian interventions of the post-Cold War era — Bosnia in 1995, Kosovo in 1999 and Sierra Leone in 2000 — had to be carried out outside the UN framework... It is worth noting that the South African populace seems to take a clearer-eyed view of the Zimbabwe situation than their leaders. For all Thabo Mbeki’s moral cowardice, it was South African dockers who refused to unload Chinese arms shipments to Mugabe... For now, the best that can be done for Zimbabwe is to make African nations face up to their responsibilities and the consequences of inaction. A private message should be delivered by all democratic donor nations to every sub-Saharan Africa nation that their attitude towards Zimbabwe will be taken as a test of their commitment to good governance. If they flunk it, then the donors would conclude that development aid, as opposed to humanitarian aid, is pointless as Africa is incapable of policing the necessary standards of good governance.
        - Spectator editorial (Jun'08)

In Africa, or more precisely in sub-Saharan Africa, there are estimated to be roughly 27 million people infected with HIV/Aids. A further 25 million have already died. Is it fair to blame millions of Aids deaths on the Catholic Church? In truth, only the Church's most extreme critics would do that, although there are plenty of them, and there are lots more who uncritically believe the critics. But here are a few facts for the uncritical to consider. Fact one is that only around 20pc of non-Muslim Africans are Catholic. This means the other 80pc aren't listening to the Church, even theoretically, and so are not susceptible to its anti-condom message. In turn this means that even if the Church was responsible for every death by Aids of every infected African Catholic -- and it isn't, even remotely -- the vast majority of deaths cannot be laid at its door. Fact two is that Catholics who have sex outside marriage are already disobeying the Church. Why would they then turn around and obey its anti-condom edict? It makes no sense. On the other hand, a Catholic who obeys the Church about condoms is also very likely to obey it with regard to sexual morality in general. If they and their spouse are doing that, there is no chance of them contracting HIV/Aids, short of receiving an infected blood transfusion. The more intelligent critics of the Church will concede this point, but then dismiss Catholic sexual morality in any case on the grounds that it is unrealistic. This brings us to the final and most important point, which is that condom promotion in Africa is a miserable failure. It is this which fails the realism test. It has been tried for years and the rate of infection has kept rising It has only fallen in those countries which promote sexual fidelity.
        - David Quinn, "The Irish Independent"

What is required is something that encourages African countries to see this issue through the prism of democracy and human rights. The best long-term hope of achieving this proposed thus far would be a League of Democracies, an idea currently championed by the Republican presidential nominee, John McCain. This idea has been predictably denounced as a neocon plot to undermine the UN and allow America to do what it wants, when it wants. But the idea can actually be traced back to the Clinton administration with Madeleine Albright and Václav Havel’s push for a Community of Democracies. A League of Democracies would also — by definition — be a check on American power. At the moment, the US can bypass the UN — as it did over Iraq — because it is clear that there are so many circumstances in which the UN simply will not act. But having invested large amounts of diplomatic capital in a new global organisation on the premise that the collective moral judgment of democracies is superior to that of autocracies, it would be embarrassing in the extreme for America simply to ignore it. This proposal would lay the basis for a new, realist multilateralism and deserves a more intelligent hearing than it has thus far been granted.
        - Spectator editorial (Jun'08)

It’s only because Zimbabwe is black that we don’t invade.
        - John Humphrys, "The Times"

The dumbest secession movement in the world.
        - Mark Steyn on Quebec

Canada's problems extend far beyond the devastation done to the Canadian military during the Chretien/Martin years. Canada has suffered from a deformed strategic culture, which refuses to assert Canadian interests — and instead treats foreign affairs as a theatre for the acting out of impulses aimed at domestic political constituencies. An adult country must make adult decisions, from contributing to its own defense to refusing to contribute to a terrorist-run government in the Palestinian Authority.
        - David Frum, reviewing Roy Rempel's "Dreamland", "National Post"

Peter Brimelow argued very convincingly in "The Patriot Game" that much of the leftism and statism of Canadian politics is an artefact caused by shackling an inappropriate Westminster parliamentary system onto a huge, diverse, and federal country. As he noted, if the US chose its leader in the same way that Canada does, it would have been governed through the 1980s not by President Ronald Reagan but by Prime Minister Tip O'Neill.
        - David Frum, "National Review"

In a parliamentary system, incidentally, there's an argument that a strong minority government is better than a weak majority government. The former puts the pressure on Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition: They have to figure out with every important bill whether it's really in their interests to oppose it lest they accidentally precipitate an election they're not ready for.
        - Mark Steyn, as Canadian Conservatives return to power in a coalition (Oct'08)

Canada continued to operate a constitutional system that cynics say works well in practice but could never work in theory.
        - Conor O'Clery, on the status of Quebec within Canada, "Interesting Times"

How many times do we need to hear that the road to peace between Israelis and Palestinians or Pakistanis and Indians will be illuminated through 'greater understanding'? The truth is that the greatest hatreds have always been between those groups who understand each other best (it's not like the Confederacy and the Union didn't understand each side's point of view, ditto the Irish and the British, the Greeks, and the Turks etc).
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

It is often impossible to conceive solutions, or even political expedients, to address regional conflicts without supervising transfers of population between mutually hostile communities. This might be called humane ethnic cleansing. It could save many lives. Yet after what the world has seen in the Balkans, especially, there is absolutely no political will to promote such initiatives as a matter of policy. Without separations of population, all too often warring tribes are left to continue the dirty work themselves through violence, just as they have done this week in Kosovo.
        - Max Hastings, "The Daily Telegraph"

The world we are heading into, the world of the mid-21st century, will have two kinds of nations in it. There will be nations practicing constitutional politics and rational economics, and there will be basket-case nations whose people dwell in misery and chaos. The rising generation of human beings will live either in Bourgeoisia, or in Trashcanistan. All the really interesting national dramas of the present day concern those countries — Russia, China, Iraq, Indonesia — that could still conceivably go either way, that might equally well end up, around the year 2050, as either Bourgeoisia or Trashcanistan.
        - John Derbyshire, "Let Turkey In", "National Review"

Elections aren't any more inherently moral or useful than a hammer. What are moral are human rights and the rule of law - i.e. 'liberty' or the toothier 'liberal constitutionalism'. In our culture, particularly in our journalism, we tend to think that democracy means liberty, but it doesn't. For example, if it weren't for the Turkish military, voters probably would have voted in favor of making Turkey a theocracy by now. But the generals have made it clear that they won't abide by any reversal of Turkey's secular state. By standing against the democratic will of the people, the Turkish military has stood with the forces of liberty. Liberty is a lot harder to create and preserve than elections.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

Whereas human rights once supported limited government, they are now invoked in favour of the welfare state and the maximal government it requires. Which is why the human rights movement, although well intentioned, has become a malign force. The human rights lobby sees poverty as an essentially legal problem. All humans are entitled to food, healthcare, housing and so on. But countries where poverty is common have failed to enshrine these entitlements in law. If they embraced human rights, poverty would be legislated out of existence. Providing every citizen with decent food, healthcare and housing exceeds the productive capacity of many poor countries. Mauritania’s annual GDP, for example, is only $400 per person. It would be nice if Mauritanians were richer, but declaring that they should be will not help. Entitlements to wealth do not create wealth. On the contrary, they hinder wealth creation.
        - Jamie Whyte, "How Human Rights lead to Human Wrongs", "The Times"

Germaine Greer has written a transcendently silly pamphlet about a proposed future for her homeland, Australia. She wants it to become what she calls an Aboriginal Republic... on her view of Australian society, any attempts to keep refugees out must be considered laudable, for it is preserving them from the living hell they will find if they get there.
        - Anthony Daniels, reviewing Greer's "Whitefella Jump Up" for "The Spectator"

This dreadful situation cannot possibly be put to rights other than by the establishment of a governing power for the entire territory, and a very ruthless, determined one at that. It would not be a democratic one, because the very prerequisites for a democratic political system do not exist among the people in question.
        - George F. Kennan, arguing against US intervention in Somalia

"More than 3 billion people are existing on less than $2 a day, and yet the subsidies which every cow inside the EU receives or the farmer receives for them is more than that, $2.20 a day."
         - Julian Filochowski

The strongest force in international affairs is inertia. It's everywhere: a continuous pressure from the U.N., the EU, the Chinese, the Arab League, the State Department and half the federal bureaucracy to do nothing about anything -- do nothing about the Sudanese genocide until everyone's dead, do nothing about Iran's nuclear program until it's complete and the silos are loaded, do nothing about anything except hold meetings and issue statements of concern. To resist the allure of inertia will require enormous will, not just from the president but from the American people.
        - Mark Steyn, "Chicago Sun Times"

The UN isn't even a collection of well-meaning people who just want peace. It is a group of different agencies with different agendas, some of which - the World Health Organisation or the tsunami aid coordinators - are vital, and some of which - the Libyan-chaired Commission on Human Rights - are ludicrous. Some of its employees are hugely effective, some are apallingly bad. More to the point, none is subject to the kind of oversight that would be taken for granted in a democratic government or a similarly-sized corporation. There are limits to what the organisation can achieve, given that it is not beholden to a democratic government or even to a sovereign government. It is precisely because there is no electorate that can toss the Libyans out of the human rights commissioner's chair, and no judicial system that can try corrupt officials, that the UN so often runs into problems.
        - Anne Applebaum, "Don't be surprised by the UN's corruption", "The Telegraph"

"We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as definitive and has as its highest value one's own ego and one's own desires."
        - Pope Benedict XVI

There was never any mention of a right to kill in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. But Amnesty International is trying to persuade its members that human rights have evolved to the point that a right to kill does in fact exist... Amnesty may emerge as a body which fights not only for the release of prisoners of conscience, for fair trials for political prisoners and for an end to torture, ill-treatment, political killings, 'disappearances' and the death penalty; it will also campaign for a right to abortion wherever the practice is illegal. As a result, those countries which choose either to restrict or forbid abortion may find themselves confronted by one of the largest and most powerful non-governmental organisations in the world. But a pro-abortion policy will have consequences for Amnesty too.
        - Simon Caldwell, "The Spectator"

Some years ago Amnesty decided to follow intellectual fashion and dilute a traditional focus on political rights by mixing in a new category of what people now call social and economic rights. Rights being good things, you might suppose that the more of them you campaign for the better. Why not add pressing social and economic concerns to stuffy old political rights such as free speech, free elections and due process of law? What use is a vote if you are starving? Are not access to jobs, housing, health care and food basic rights too? No: few rights are truly universal, and letting them multiply weakens them. Food, jobs and housing are certainly necessities. But no useful purpose is served by calling them 'rights'. When a government locks someone up without a fair trial, the victim, perpetrator and remedy are pretty clear. This clarity seldom applies to social and economic 'rights'. It is hard enough to determine whether such a right has been infringed, let alone who should provide a remedy, or how. Who should be educated in which subjects for how long at what cost in taxpayers' money is a political question best settled at the ballot box. So is how much to spend on what kind of health care. And no economic system known to man guarantees a proper job for everyone all the time: even the Soviet Union's much-boasted full employment was based on the principle 'they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work'.
...For people in the poor world, as for people everywhere, the most reliable method yet invented to ensure that governments provide people with social and economic necessities is called politics. That is why the rights that make open politics possible—free speech, due process, protection from arbitrary punishment—are so precious. Insisting on their enforcement is worth more than any number of grandiloquent but unenforceable declarations demanding jobs, education and housing for all.
        - The Economist assesses Amnesty International

An organisation which devotes more pages in its annual report to human-rights abuses in Britain and America than those in Belarus and Saudi Arabia cannot expect to escape doubters' scrutiny.
        - Edward Lucas, on Amnesty International, "The Economist"

Communism always seemed far more appealing in the Cuban setting of sun, sea and salsa than it did in Siberia. The Left boasts that Castro brought his people literacy: but what's the point if they can't read what they like? Cubans are well educated, but they cannot speak their minds.
        - Thomas Catan, "The Times"

In the last five years we've noted that Venezuela has shown the greatest decline in press freedom of any country in our survey in terms of our numerical score... President Chavez started out by trying to control the press with a lot of legal restrictions and now he's turning his attention toward just eliminating privately-owned media with diverse opinions.
        - Freedom House, as Venezuela's independent media comes under State pressure

Kenyan democracy failed because ordinary people were encouraged to believe that democracy would work as a instrument of change. But Kenya’s leaders — and often international observers — interpret democracy simply in terms of the ceremony of multi-party elections. Polls bestow legitimacy on politicians to pillage for five years until the next depressing cycle begins. This time, the elections themselves were a travesty, with rampant rigging on both sides. One candidate in our constituency put ballot boxes from two voting stations into his vehicle and drove them around to his supporters... Ordinary citizens know that the entire class of Kenyan political leaders is to blame. The African saying that ‘When elephants fight, the grass suffers’ applies tragically in this case.
        - Aidan Hartley, "The Spectator" (Feb'08)

The Burmese junta imagines it is the people, and therefore imagines that those who oppose it are against the people. Utterly isolated from the real needs of the ordinary Burmese -- who dare not express their desires -- it nevertheless identifies its own hold on power with the abstract interests of the people. It will deny, to the last moment, that there is a disaster, and when forced to acknowledge it, will blame outsiders and traitors. We see this from Robert Mugabe, who has probably already planned the means of his "victory" in the second round of the Zimbabwean presidential election.
How often do we need it proved? The issue isn't whether we have the right to intervene -- because the consequences of vicious dictatorships usually catch up with us in time -- but whether or not, practically, we can. Everything else is a polite conversation in a sunny church.
        David Aaronovitch, "The Times"

The U.S. government should be looking at wider diplomatic options, too. The U.N. Security Council has already refused to take greater responsibility for Burma—China won't allow the sovereignty of its protectorate to be threatened, even at the price of hundreds of thousands of lives—but there is no need to act alone. In fact, it would be a grave error to do so, since anything resembling a foreign "invasion" might provoke military resistance... The Chinese should be embarrassed into contributing, asked again and again to help. This is their satrapy, after all, not ours.
        - Anne Applebaum, "Slate"

I'm all for the option of invading just about anyone, at least in the sense that I believe in a doctrine of conditional sovereignty. That's to say, there's no reason why a dictatorship should expect its sovereignty to be as respected as, say, New Zealand's. If it's a good idea to help Burma, it's not suddenly a bad idea because they refuse to issue the requisite visas. However, I'd be reluctant to send the boys into Rangoon on the say so of Time magazine. If we've learned anything from the past five years, it's that the media, the Democratic Senators, the think-tank experts and large numbers of other fast-molting hawks are on board only until the first setback, or the first "atrocity". As the Belmont Club observes:
If the "good old U.S. military" actually does invade Burma it will incinerate every vestige of armed opposition in its path. Burmese Army units will stand about as much chance as ants before a kid's homemade flamethrower. And then all of a sudden the assumptions will collapse in reverse order. People are going to say, 'we didn't realize invasions meant killing people'; 'we didn't realize we wouldn't have allies'; and finally 'we did not think it would be so expensive'. And then we will hear that classic line: "I was for it before I was against it."
        - Mark Steyn, "National Review"


When Beijing was competing for the 2008 Games, Chinese human-rights types — dissidents and their supporters — were split. Most were against the granting of the Games to Beijing, but some were for, arguing that having the Games would force China to open up, just a little. There was much talk of the “spotlight”: The spotlight would be on China, and would that help or hurt? Those opposed to the Beijing Games said that the spotlight had been on China before — for other sporting events and international conferences — and that this had caused the government to tighten its grip all the more. The government’s reasoning (in this view)? "Foreigners are coming, and we have to look sharp, so no trouble-making is allowed. All undesirable elements must be swept away. We have to show a happy, wholesome, united front."
How is China faring? The Communists are cracking heads precisely because of the Olympics — which is a point that the most unflinching observers keep making. Even the minor courtesy of an Olympic Pause has not been implemented. The question is whether Beijing will somehow be held to account. The safe bet, I believe, is no...  China has seen fit to forgo even a Nazi-style Olympic Pause, with little protest from the world.
        - Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"

Those who care or purport to care about human rights must start to discuss this problem in plain words. Is there an initiative to save the un-massacred remains of the people of Darfur? It will be met by a Chinese veto... Are the North Koreans starved and isolated so that a demented playboy can posture with nuclear weapons? Beijing will give the demented playboy a guarantee. How long can Southeast Asia bear the shame and misery of the Burmese junta? As long as the embrace of China persists. The identity of Tibet is being obliterated by the deliberate importation of Chinese settlers... Meanwhile, everybody is getting ready for the lovely time they will have at the Beijing Olympics. If there could be a single demand that would fuse almost all the human rights demands of the contemporary world into one, it would be the call to boycott or cancel this disgusting celebration.
        - Christopher Hitchens, "Slate Magazine"

We’re warned that a boycott of the opening ceremonies would inflame Chinese nationalism. But China is a rising power beginning to flex its muscles; its nationalism gets exercised by nearly anything. We can’t be held hostage to the perpetual inflammation of people whose nationalism entails stamping out the independence and culture of another country.
        - Rich Lowry, "National Review"

Chinese villagers are killed if they protest against the expropriation of their land for development. In 2004 there were 74,000 protests of one kind or another, and yet there is no democratic outlet for these feelings. Every university department has a party leader, every newspaper editor is under party control, and judicial decisions are subject to political review. Corruption is everywhere, tax is raised in a pretty arbitrary fashion, and a rickety social security system must cope with what promises to be the mother and father of all pensions crises — because each mother and father is only allowed one child, with the result that 27 per cent of the population will be over 60 by 2050.
        - Boris Johnson, reviewing Hugo de Burgh's "China", "The Spectator"

What we are witnessing is impressive but also frightening. If China does become top nation, nothing in our history will have prepared us for that. The late Sir Denis Thatcher, bored at a dinner for the president of Finland, turned abruptly to the president's wife and asked: "What do the Finns think of the Chinese?" She explained the Finns did not think much about the Chinese. "Well, it's about time they did," said Denis, "because there are more than a billion of the buggers." Indeed; but this brings me to the one hope we have when confronted by dictatorships — that they are often undone by their own cruelties. A great evil of Chinese Communism has been its One Child Policy, creating a nation with 117 boys for every 100 girls. The good news for the rest of us is that, just as it is poised to overtake America, China will find itself burdened with an aged population — roughly 300 million pensioners by 2035.
        - Charles Moore, "The Telegraph"

Call it: One Olympics - two systems. How so? You can't look at the U.S. Olympic team and not see the strength that comes from diversity, and you can't look at the Chinese team and not see the strength that comes from intense focus and concentrated power. Let's start with Americans. Walking through the Olympic Village the other day, here's what struck me most: The Russian team all looks Russian; the African teams all look African; the Chinese team all looks Chinese; and the American team looks like all of them... That said, there are some things America could learn from China, namely the ability to focus on big, long-term, nation-building goals and see them through. A Chinese academic friend tells me that the success of the Olympics is already prompting some high officials to argue that only a strong, top-down, Communist Party-led China could have organized the stunning building projects around these Olympics and the focused performance of so many different Chinese athletes... The lesson for the United States is surely not that we Americans need authoritarian government. The lesson is that we need to make our democracy work better. Congress has gotten worse. America's democracy feels increasingly paralyzed because collaboration in Washington has become nearly impossible - whether because of money, gerrymandering, a 24-hour-news cycle or the permanent presidential campaign. And as a result, our ability to focus America's incredible bottom-up energies - outside of sports - has diminished. You see it in our crumbling infrastructure and inability to shape a real energy program. China feels focused. We feel distracted. So, yes, America and China should enjoy their medals - but we should each also reflect on how the other team got so many
        - Thomas Friedman, "International Herald Tribune"

Who in China realises that the spectacular Games which are entrancing the world were only made possible by the US? Because it was the unprecedented American interest in Chinese affairs in the 1930s that led to a complete shift in the power balance in Asia...
Over a quarter of a million US soldiers had died fighting the Japanese, and the unintended prize that their lives won was the victory of communists in China. Another 100,000 US lives were lost in later wars against communist regimes armed and encouraged by the Chinese -- all of which had been made possible by an aggressive sentimentalism in Washington caused by Japanese atrocities in China 70 years ago this year. For whereas the Japanese killed perhaps hundreds of thousands, the Chinese communists killed tens of millions.
What analyst in the State Department today could say, with hand on brain (the heart being an organ one cannot trust in such matters), that the US policy towards Japan from 1938 on was in the long-term interests of the US? An American Bismarck would probably have looked approvingly on an endless Chinese-Japanese land war. But there was no such clinical beast in Washington -- with the results we see today. China is now the most awesome entity in the entire world -- not in its military might, for that lags well behind that of the US, but in its mesmerising potential. Certainly, no other country could have summoned up the willpower, the discipline, the money, the sheer exultation of the national ego, to have created the opening to the Olympic Games that we saw last weekend. The dragon is awake. It will soon have men on the moon, perhaps before the next Olympics.
        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"


Russia invades Georgia. China jails dissidents. China and India pollute at levels previously unimaginable. Gulf monarchies make trillions from jacked-up oil prices. Islamic terrorists keep car bombing. Meanwhile, Europe offers moral lectures, while Japan and South Korea shrug and watch — all in a globalized world that tunes into the Olympics each night from Beijing... Meanwhile, the hypocrisy becomes harder to take. After all, it is easy for self-appointed global moralists to complain that terrorists don’t enjoy Miranda rights at Guantánamo, but it would be hard to do much about the Russian military invading Georgia’s democracy and bombing its cities... It has been chic to chant “No blood for oil” about Iraq’s petroleum — petroleum that, in fact, is now administered by a constitutional republic. But such sloganeering would be better directed at China’s sweetheart oil deals with Sudan that enable the mass murdering in Darfur... Postwar globalization was always a form of engaged Americanization that enriched and protected billions. Yet globalization, in all its manifestations, will run out of steam the moment we tire of fueling it, as the world returns instead to the mindset of the 1930s — with protectionist tariffs; weak, disarmed democracies; an isolationist America; predatory dictatorships; and a demoralized gloom-and-doom Western elite... Brace yourself — we may be on our way back to an old world, where the strong do as they will, and the weak suffer as they must.
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "National Review" (Aug'08)

Russia’s actions in the past week should not have taken anyone by surprise. The fact that they did illustrates just how gravely in denial the free world now is about the threats that it faces. Before 9/11, all too few people could imagine a terrorist attack on a Western city killing thousands — even though Osama bin Laden had declared war on the United States in 1996. In much the same way, too few contemplated the bloody reality of Russian tanks rolling across an internationally recognised border, despite the clear signals sent by Vladimir Putin’s increasingly bellicose actions in recent years... Yet, amid all the paper-shuffling and platitudes, there are glimmerings of hope. They come not from Senator Obama, whose initial statement on the crisis was replete with blather about the need for both sides to show restraint — demonstrating both that he had not grasped what was truly at stake, and just how inexperienced he is in the field of foreign policy. In sharp contrast, John McCain, who was warning about Putin’s authoritarian tendencies back in 1999 when Western leaders were fêting him, immediately understood and articulated what this crisis was actually about: Russian aggression... Those who hanker for a multi-polar world might care to reflect that Russia’s assault on Georgia offers us a preview of what it would be like. Powerful states would bully weak states, force would be used when it could be, not when it must be, and no international institution would be able to stop this; a ‘post-American’ world would not be a Kantian paradise but a Hobbesian jungle. Both Americans and Europeans must wake up to this ineradicable reality if such horrors are to be averted.
        - Spectator leader (Aug'08)

This war did not begin because of a miscalculation by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. It is a war that Moscow has been attempting to provoke for some time... Diplomats in Europe and Washington believe Saakashvili made a mistake by sending troops to South Ossetia last week. Perhaps. But his truly monumental mistake was to be president of a small, mostly democratic and adamantly pro-Western nation on the border of Putin's Russia.
Historians will come to view Aug. 8, 2008, as a turning point no less significant than Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th-century style of great-power competition, complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even -- though it shocks our 21st-century sensibilities -- the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives. Yes, we will continue to have globalization, economic interdependence, the European Union and other efforts to build a more perfect international order. But these will compete with and at times be overwhelmed by the harsh realities of international life that have endured since time immemorial. The next president had better be ready.
        - Robert Kagan, "The Washington Post"

The Russians have sized up the moral bankruptcy of the Western Left. They know that half-a-million Europeans would turn out to damn their patron the United States for removing a dictator and fostering democracy, but not more than a half-dozen would do the same to criticize their long-time enemy from bombing a constitutional state. With just a few tanks and bombs, in one fell swoop, Russia has cowered its former republics, made them think twice about joining the West, and stopped NATO and maybe EU expansion in their tracks. After all, who wants to die for Tbilisi?
Russia does not need a global force-projection capacity; it has sufficient power to muscle its neighbors and thereby humiliate not merely its enemies, but their entire moral pretensions as well... Did anyone in Paris miss any sleep over the rubble of Grozny?
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "National Review"

News Corporation is retreating from the Russian market, says the Russian daily Kommersant. It bases its view on quotes from Rupert Murdoch in Beijing about Russia being an inhospitable place to do business. "The more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it," he said. "The more successful we'd be, the more vulnerable we'd be to have it stolen from us." And that was two days before Russia went to war on Georgia.
        - Seen on The Guardian website

American presidents, through several administrations, have been publicly commenting moralistically on the internal affairs of other countries around the world. We have been criticizing friend and foe alike. Sometimes we have sounded like the world's nanny. This has been more than a bad habit. Our nagging our friends and irritating our enemies has produced remarkably few benefits to anyone and much ill-will among countries whose cooperation we either have needed or will need. Our butting into things that are none of our business has taken the form of actions as well as words. Extending NATO right up to the borders of Russia has been one of those feel-good actions, much like our feel-good moralizing to other countries. Are we really prepared to go to war with Russia if they send troops into Latvia, a NATO member next door to them and thousands of miles away from us? Some people seem to think that, if we had already included Georgia in NATO, Russia would not have attacked. But what if they attacked anyway? Would we have done any more than we are doing now?
        - Thomas Sowell

Much of the coverage of the Georgia crisis has emphasized that the US has "no options" or "no leverage." Not so fast. The signing of the US-Polish deal on missile defense is the deployment of option one. The deal had stalled till now over one last lingering issue: the Poles wanted the US to provide as part of the deal a battery of Patriot missiles, operated by US soldiers, to protect them against a Russian attack on their territory. The Russians objected, and the US had accordingly refused to provide them. Indeed, to date, no US combat troops are stationed anywhere in Poland, out of deference to Russian sensibilities. Suddenly that is about to change. Poland will get its Patriots plus a company of US soldiers. Russia will have to face a missile defense base on its borders. And the US has just served notice in a very painful way that Russian sensibilities suddenly count for a lot less than they used to do. More consequences to come, I suspect.
        - David Frum, "National Review"

Speaking of free societies: The faking of the election in Ukraine should remind Europeans that they
face more serious threats and much closer to home than the reelection of George W. Bush. To borrow an
observation of Radek Sikorski’s, independent Russia can be a normal country with a democratic future:
Russia plus Ukraine is the Russian empire, which can never be a democracy. And it was precisely the
issue of Ukrainian independence – and thus Ukrainian democracy – that was at stake this weekend. The
integrity of Ukrainian elections is not just an internal Ukrainian matter: It is a portent for the future
of all Europe and all the West.
        - David Frum, "Freedom Here and There", "National Review"

"The election results have been falsified. Don't believe them. Our president is Yushchenko. I'm sorry
I've had to translate lies up to now, but I'm not doing it any more."
        - Signaller for the Deaf on Ukrainian State TV breaks from the script

Why are all the Russian reporters dying?
        - Nikolas K. Gvosdev, after another journalist is found dead, "National Review"


It is no coincidence that the most dangerous places in the world are among those with the most youthful populations. According to a recent study by Population Action International, countries where young adults accounted for 40 per cent or more of the adult population in 1995 had a one-in-three chance of experiencing civil conflict in the 1990s. Countries where young adults were 30 per cent or less of the adult population were far less likely to (a probability of just 11 per cent). In Britain today, young adults account for just 23 per cent of the adult population. In the United States, the figure is 26 per cent. In Iran, however, the proportion is twice as high as it is here - 49 per cent. It is the same in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In Iraq, it is 48 per cent. In Jordan, it is 46 per cent. In Syria and Somalia, it is over 50 per cent. Young men are innately violent... but they are much more likely to give vent to their violent urges if they are hot, poor and unemployed. This is precisely the predicament of the youths of the Middle East.
        - Niall Ferguson, "The Telegraph"

Syria and Iran are all too happy to stoke the conflict, support Hizbollah, and fight Israel to the last Lebanese.
        - Anton La Guardia, "The Telegraph"

"Another Hizbollah 'victory' like this and Lebanon is done for."
        - Michael Dolan, letter to the Irish Independent

"If Hizbullah put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel."
        - Harry Gunstein, letter to the Guardian

Once upon a time, it would have been Egypt and Jordan threatening the Zionist usurpers. But these countries have been, militarily, a big flop against the Zionist Entity since King Hussein fired Sir John Glubb as head of the Arab Legion. So after '73 they put their money on terrorism, and schoolgirl suicide bombers — the kind of "popular resistance" that buys you better publicity in the salons of the West.
        - Mark Steyn, "Chicago Sun Times"

The Lebanese people have watched as Hezbollah has built up a heavily armed state-within-a-state that has now carried the country into a devastating conflict it cannot win and many are fed up. Sunni Muslims, Christians and the Druze have no desire to pay for the martial vanity of the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah. Nor will they take kindly to his transforming the devastation into a political victory.
        - Michael Young, "The Spectator"

During all the years when Arab countries controlled the land now proposed for a Palestinian homeland, there was no talk about any such homeland. Only after Israel took control of that territory as a result of the 1967 war was it suddenly sacred as a Palestinian homeland. There is no concession that will bring lasting peace to the Middle East because the terrorists and their supporters are not going to be satisfied by concessions. The only thing that will satisfy them is the destruction of Israel. Pending that, they will inflict as much destruction and bloodshed on the Israelis as they can get away with at any given time.
        - Thomas Sowell

It’s not only neocons in the United States who believe in transforming the Middle East, a goal that has been widely scoffed at in the wake of our setbacks in the Iraq war. Hezbollah and Hamas and their task-masters in Syria and Iran cherish the same goal, only with a radically different vision. The choice around the Middle East now is between governance and warfare — do the Arabs want to pour their energies into governing themselves decently or waging jihad? Both Hamas and Hezbollah have well-developed service wings, and there was some hope that they might gradually mature out of terrorism to become legitimate actors in the political systems of their respective countries. In recent weeks, both decisively chose war, and chose war even though Israel had vacated occupied territories in Gaza and southern Lebanon. They now are reaping the whirlwind. When the air strikes and rocket attacks end, Arabs will still have that choice. Ultimately, they get to decide how the Middle East is transformed.
        - Rich Lowry, "National Review"

The danger to Arab civilians is not Israel, but rather their own failure to enforce their laws against the thugs and terrorists among them. In the service of Iran, Hezbollah has triggered a cross-border war with Israel. In so doing, Hezbollah undoubtedly committed several crimes under Lebanese law — kidnapping, murder, and possibly treason. That these crimes have been endorsed by all the Hezbollah leadership, including Hezbollah ministers in the current government of Lebanon, demands an effort by the government of Lebanon to prosecute them. Instead, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora refuses to move against Hezbollah. One cannot blame Israel for defending itself, any more than a police officer can be charged with murder in a case of suicide-by-cop. This is why the West’s habitual urgings to Israel — that it negotiate, that it end the occupation, that it exercise restraint — are so misguided. They only distract attention from the real obstacle to peace, which is the failure of the Palestinians and Lebanese to embrace the rule of law. It is the social diffusion of violence in these societies that makes the occupation untenable — but also an end to it unfeasible. If there is no monopoly of violence, there can be no central authority, and if there is no central authority, no one can claim to represent “the Palestinians.” If at least there were a dictatorship, as in Egypt, Israel could negotiate meaningfully because at least it knows that its negotiating partner can deliver on his promises.
Both Hamas and Hezbollah intentionally fire missiles from densely populated areas so that Israel will kill civilians when it retaliates, because that inflames the Arab world, and helps turn world opinion against Israel. Their strategy is suicide terrorism on a social scale. We feel deeply for the civilians on both sides whose lives have been and will be ruined by this war. But if Israel’s enemies choose to use civilians as human shields for attacks against it, they and not Israel are guilty of war crimes.
        - Mario Loyola, "National Review"

As Senator Brendan Ryan well knows when he refers to “the murder of innocent civilians, many of them children” (Letters, July 15th), murder is the deliberate, premeditated unlawful killing of another human being. Israel has not “murdered” any civilians. The civilians killed in the Israeli retaliation against Gaza and Lebanon for the respective invasions by Hamas and Hizbollah were not targeted by Israel. Israel aims to hit only military targets and infrastructure that helps the military. Civilians have never been targeted, but they are killed collaterally, and often because Islamicist fighters purposely choose to hide and fight from among civilians, or pretend to be civilians. Islamicist fighters (including Palestinians), on the other hand, deliberately and openly target Israeli civilians, in schools, shops, restaurants, nightclubs, buses etc with no military target in sight. The death statistics for the period October 2000 through December 2003 show this up: for every Palestinian combatant killed by Israelis, 0.7 non-combatants were killed. For every Israeli combatant killed, 3.6 non-combatants were killed.
        - Letter from Tony Allwright to "The Irish Times"

If you have a deadly enemy, and that enemy places itself among innocents, what do you do? Do you fight back, or do you decide you can’t, owing to the civilian casualties that would result? If only that question were hypothetical. As has long been said, just about the worst thing Arab aggressors do to Israelis is force them into a situation in which they kill innocents. (Golda Meir: "When peace comes, we will perhaps in time be able to forgive the Arabs for killing our sons. But it will be harder for us to forgive them for having forced us to kill their sons.")
        - Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"

You could criticise Israel's recent attack for many things. Some argue that it is disproportionate, or too indiscriminate. Others think that it is ill-planned militarily. Others hold that it will give more power to extremists in the Arab world, and will hamper a wider peace settlement. These are all reasonable, though not necessarily correct positions to hold. But European discourse on the subject seems to have been overwhelmed by something else - a narrative, told most powerfully by the way television pictures are selected, that makes Israel out as a senseless, imperialist, mass-murdering, racist bully. Not only is this analysis wrong - if the Israelis are such imperialists, why did they withdraw from Lebanon for six years, only returning when threatened once again? How many genocidal regimes do you know that have a free press and free elections? - it is also morally imbecilic. It makes no distinction between the tough, sometimes nasty things all countries do when hard-pressed and the profoundly evil intent of some ideologies and regimes. It says nothing about the fanaticism and the immediacy of the threat to Israel. It is as if, having relinquished power, we Europeans now wish our own powerlessness upon the rest of the world. We make vaporous and offensive Nazi comparisons. We preach that unilateral action is always wrong. That position can be maintained only by people who do not have to make life-and-death decisions. It is cheap and immoral.
        - Charles Moore, "The Telegraph" (July'06)

By a series of stumbles and lurches, we have come closer to a nuclear conflagration than at any time since the bombing of Nagasaki. Although Israel has - thank Heaven - disavowed reports that it is planning a direct strike against Iran's nuclear facilities, there can be little doubt that Tel Aviv would authorise such attacks if the only other option were a nuclear Iran... it may be that President Ahmadinejad's talk of wiping the Jewish state from the map, and his sponsoring of Holocaust denial, are deliberately designed to provoke an Israeli strike. If this strike were nuclear - which Tel Aviv may judge the surest way to disable underground facilities - Teheran would have the perfect justification for a nuclear counterstrike (with nuclear weapons acquired from the former Soviet Union). This would guarantee the ascendancy of the ayatollahs, not only within Iran but throughout Araby, too. The international community, bitter after Iraq, is in no mood to listen to arguments about weapons of mass destruction. But if we do nothing, we encourage Israel to act, so bringing calamity on the region.
        - Telegraph Editorial (Jan'07)

It's been six years since Iran's secret nuclear programs were publicly exposed, and Israel has more or less bided its time as the Bush Administration and Europe have pursued diplomacy to induce Tehran to cease enriching uranium. It hasn't worked. Iran has rejected repeated offers of technical and economic assistance, most recently this month. Despite four years of pleading, the Administration has failed to win anything but weak U.N. sanctions. Russia plans to sell advanced antiaircraft missiles to Iran and finish work on a nuclear reactor at Bushehr, though spent fuel from that reactor could eventually be diverted and reprocessed into weapons-usable plutonium. Chinese companies still invest in Iran, while the U.N.'s chief nuclear inspector, Mohamed ElBaradei, has repeatedly downplayed Iran's nuclear threat... No wonder Israel is concluding that it will have to act on its own to prevent a nuclear Iran... Mr. ElBaradei predicted this weekend that such an attack would turn the Middle East into a "ball of fire," yet his own apologies for Iran and the West's diplomatic failures are responsible for bringing the region to this pass. They have convinced the mullahs that the powers responsible for maintaining world order lack the will to stop Iran. Israelis surely don't welcome a war in which they will suffer. Yet they have no choice but to defend themselves against an enemy that vows to obliterate them if Iran acquires the weapon to do so. The tragic paradox of the past six years is that the diplomatic and intelligence evasions offered in the name of avoiding war with Iran have done the most to bring us close to this brink. Appeasement that ends in war is a familiar theme of history.
        - Wall Street Journal Editorial (Jun'08)

Watching the horrible video of Alan Johnston of the BBC broadcasting Palestinian propaganda under orders from his kidnappers, I found myself asking what it would have been like had he been kidnapped by Israelis, and made to do the same thing the other way round. The first point is that it would never happen. There are no Israeli organisations - governmental or freelance - that would contemplate such a thing. That fact is itself significant. But just suppose that some fanatical Jews had grabbed Mr Johnston and forced him to spout their message, abusing his own country as he did so. What would the world have said? The Israeli government would immediately have been condemned for its readiness to harbour terrorists or its failure to track them down.
Loud would have been the denunciations of the extremist doctrines of Zionism which had given rise to this vile act. The world isolation of Israel, if it failed to get Mr Johnston freed, would have been complete. If Mr Johnston had been forced to broadcast saying, for example, that Israel was entitled to all the territories held since the Six-Day War, and calling on the release of all Israeli soldiers held by Arab powers in return for his own release, his words would have been scorned. The cause of Israel in the world would have been irreparably damaged by thus torturing him on television. No one would have been shy of saying so. But of course in real life it is Arabs holding Mr Johnston, and so everyone treads on tip-toe... How can we have got ourselves into a situation in which we half-excuse turbaned torturers for kidnapping our fellow-citizens while trying to exclude Jewish biochemists from lecturing to our students?
        - Charles Moore, "The Telegraph" (Jun'07)


"This land has been special — holy — for our people since Abraham and the days of the Bible. But land is not more important than life. Nor is land more important than peace."
        - Rabbi Dr Ron Kronish, leaving Israeli settlement in Gaza after 26 years

Clare Short has decided to tell us that American support for Israel is the biggest single factor in global violence in the world today. Well, that really is timely. It also clears up any worries we might have had about the causes of violence in Darfur in western Sudan, Zimbabwe, Burma, Chechnya, Rwanda, Northern Ireland ... shall I go on? Is there a conspiracy theory to follow, Clare?
        - Maureen Lipman, "The Guardian"

In his famous speech to the UN General Assembly in 1974, which marked his debut as international revolutionary icon, Arafat declared: "I have come bearing an olive branch and a freedom fighter's gun. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand. I repeat: do not let the olive branch fall from my hand."
The tragedy of the Middle East is that, when Israel finally began to grasp the olive branch, Arafat did not dare let go of the gun.
        - Anton La Guardia, "The Telegraph"

If Palestinians wanted a state, all they had to do was stop killing Israelis. Instead, they elected Hamas.
        - Clifford D May, "National Review"

"Tragedy is a conflict between two rights."
        - Hegel

"If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it's a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers. Perhaps this is why sales of Mein Kampf are so buoyant, from the Middle Eastern bazaars unto the Edgware Road, and why The Protocols of The Elders of Zion could be found for sale at the recent Anti-racism Congress in Durban."
        - Julie Burchill, parting shots from "The Guardian"

"If it is impossible anymore for Arab-Muslim leaders to distinguish between Palestinian resistance directed at military targets and tied to a specific peace proposal, and terrorism designed to kill kids, without regard to a peace plan or political alternatives, then over time no moral discourse will be possible between America and the Arabs."
        - Thomas Friedman

"How much more do we need to know about the nature of Israel’s enemies to know whose side we should truly be on?"
        - Andrew Sullivan, The London Times.

"Suicide bombers in Israel remind us: fear of death makes civilisation. If we do not fear death, then we do not love life. Worse, if we actually revere death, we make nothing, protect nothing, value nothing, love nothing, plan nothing; we can possess no aesthetic, no ethic, no philosophy, no sense of future. It is in the absolute knowledge of death, in our fear of its looming certainties, that mankind's technological, artistic and moral creativities are rooted. What binding treaty can be made with those who do not fear the ultimate consequence of dishonouring that treaty?"
        - Kevin Myers, The Irish Times, 7/12/01

"By the actions of the last several months, the Palestinians' desire for some kind of settlement, for a separate state, for a secure peace with Israel, has been revealed as a cover for their desire for the annihilation of Israel by means of terror attacks on civilians. Not only can this strategy not lead to negotiations - it must never as a matter of principle lead to negotiations."
        - Andrew Sullivan, "AndrewSullivan.Com"

"Something new is happening in the Arab world, namely, the melding of Arab nationalist-based anti-Zionism, anti-Jewish rhetoric from the Koran, and, most disturbingly, the antique anti-Semitic beliefs and conspiracy theories of European Fascism. Add Holocaust denial, which is also becoming popular in the Arab world, and you have a dangerous new ideology, an ideology that Hezbollah, despite its assertions that it has nothing against Jews as Jews, propounds quite vigorously."
        - Jeffrey Goldberg

It is easy to portray fears about anti-Semitism as overblown. British officialdom has excelled in that activity, starting with the civil servant who, in 1942, condemned the evidence that Nazi Germany was systematically exterminating the Jewish population of Europe with the calm assertion that nothing of the kind was happening. It was all down to the hysteria of 'those wailing Jews'. 'Those wailing Jews' is still a common reaction to claims that anti-Semitism is on the rise. One of the virtues of Globalising Hatred, by the Labour MP Denis MacShane, is that it demonstrates how inappropriate the 'wailing Jews' reaction is today. Anti-Semitism - virulent, violent anti-Semitism - is flourishing, principally because it is embedded in many of the political manifestations of Islam. MacShane notes that the Hamas Charter, the document that sets out Hamas's guiding principles, 'is one of the most anti-Semitic, Jew-hating political statements ever published'... Many revered Islamic preachers refer to Jews as 'monkeys and pigs'. As MacShane points out, if any other racial or religious group were the target of this kind of abuse, there would be an outcry. But when it is Muslims calling for the destruction of the Jews, there is none.
Why the lack of response? MacShane suggests two principal causes: closet anti-Semitism of the 'those wailing Jews' kind; and anger at Israel and sympathy for the Palestinians, which allows many who should know better to end up thinking that Jews 'have it coming'. In the end, however, MacShane is stumped by 'the failure of the intellectual and liberal Left to confront and take on anti-Semitism, or even to accept that it is real and a menace to every value that liberals and the Left have ever stood for'.
That failure is not restricted to the Left. It is common to all the political parties. If we are going to defend liberal values in Britain - if we are not to allow the 'Endarkenment', as MacShane calls the encroachment of fundamentalism - to erode the existence of a tolerant, secular society, then we have to fight bigotry, dogma and lies wherever they manifest themselves. Bigotry, dogma and lies are three of the essential planks of anti-Semitism in all its forms, and so long as radical Islam has anti-Semitism at its heart, it will be incompatible with any decent social order. That's the message of MacShane's book. I hope it is one that we all take to heart.
        - Alasdair Palmer, reviewing "Globalising Hatred", "The Telegraph"

"Caoimhe Butterly, who has joined Yasser Arafat in his besieged bunker, is clearly a very brave young woman, and I hope that she emerges from her ordeal emotionally and physically intact. But her presence in the bunker does rather presuppose that the Israelis will show some military restraint on account of her being there.
Does she think that her presence at a bar mitzvah might have a similarly deterrent effect on any suicide bombers? I somehow doubt that it would. If one is determined to be a martyr, and if one has so little regard for one's own life, and for the bonds of love and duty that tie one to the world of the living, it's unlikely that one will care greatly whom one kills."
       - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Times"

"The death of innocents was an Israeli mistake but a Palestinian objective."
        - Leon Wieseltier, on Munich and the response to it

"If Israel did not exist, the Arab world, in its current fit of denial, would have to invent something like it to vent its frustrations."
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "City Journal"

"Today a democratic Israel — with a vociferous press, an antiwar movement, a plentitude of parties, regular elections, and a civilian-controlled military — is as demonized as Mr. Arafat is praised by Western intellectuals. Do we see protest signs that say 'Support the democratic peoples of Israel in their struggle against sexist, homophobic, and fundamentalist reactionaries'?"
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "The Bankruptcy of the Anti-Americanists", Claremont Institute

"Right next door in Lebanon, Syria controls far more Arab land than does Israel. And if Palestinians suffer second-class citizenship under Israeli occupation, they are worse off in occupied Lebanon where, as helots, they are denied basic rights to employment, health care and government services.
Kuwait ethnically cleansed all Palestinians - perhaps a third of a million - just a decade ago. Well after the 1967 Six Day War, the Jordanians themselves slaughtered thousands. Before the intifada more Palestinians sought work in a hated Israel than in a beloved Egypt."
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "Wall Street Journal"

"The Middle East struggle has never been about a Palestinian state or land. The Palestinians were given both the West Bank and a state in 1947 - and they rejected both, declaring a war on Israel that has lasted more than 50 years.  Israel occupies a minuscule 1 percent of the Arab Middle East and less than 10 percent of the entire area mandated as Palestine by the British. Nearly 70 percent of Jordan's inhabitants are Palestinian Arabs. Yet Jordan is not the target of a Palestine liberation movement. How is this possible? It is possible because the Hashemite minority that rules Jordan is not Jewish. The Middle East War is not about land and not about injustice. It is a religious war against the Jews."
        - David Horowitz, "The Struggle Was Never About Land", SF Gate.

"Israelis and Palestinians have fought over their joint territory for half a century. All the resources of diplomacy have been unable to resolve their dispute. Diplomacy has been tested to destruction. War is the worst outcome of a political dispute, but war postponed can be the worst of the worst. As George Kennan wrote: 'A war regarded as inevitable has a very good chance of being fought.' Peace cannot begin until it is over."
        - Simon Jenkins, "When Peace Demands War", London Times.

While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment of Palestinians we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam and his use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)?. Remember Pakistani army's excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)?. Remember the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention or retribution against them? Do you know how the Saudis treat their minority Shiis? Have we protested the violation of their rights? But we all are eager to condemn Israel; not because we care for rights and lives of the Palestinians, we don't. We condemn Israel because we hate "them".
        - Muqtedar Khan

"It is simply natural to ask of Europeans: isn't it a little suspicious, given Europe's history, that it's Israel that always gets your critical attention?"
        - Andrew Sullivan

"The Left excuses and ignores anti-Semitism because it thinks of racism as discrimination against the powerless."
        - Stephen Pollard, "Say what you like about Jews", "The Telegraph"

As for Israel, many sins can be laid to its charge. But it is morally serious in a way that we are not, because it has to be. Forty years after its greatest victory [in the Six Day War], it has to work out each morning how it can survive.
        - Charles Moore, "The Telegraph"

"In the eyes of many today, Israel’s crime is to be the most forceful expression of Western values. The Israeli state is seen as a beachhead of Western civilisation in a hostile world. That used to be its greatest asset. Today, however, Western civilisation has fallen into disrepute even within its own heartlands, and Israel’s image has suffered accordingly.
Israel has never been able to accept completely such trends as political correctness, relativism and self-doubt. If it did so, the Israeli state would be finished.
Today, however, Israel’s unambiguous attitude of 'we’re right and you’re wrong', and defence of national sovereignty against the intrusions of international bodies, are embarrassing reminders of the kind of conviction that Western elites no longer feel able to express. The Israeli defence of its actions in Jenin - 'at least we sent our men in to fight, instead of flattening everything from 50,000ft' - is likely to have touched a raw nerve in Washington and Whitehall."
        -  Mick Hume, "The London Times"

Broadly, there are two key differences. The first is that, whether or not people disagreed with the aim of a united Ireland and abhorred the terrorism used to achieve it, the goal itself was perfectly respectable, unlike the goal of Hamas to eradicate Israel and Islamise the region (I would add that Fatah shares the former aim). Much more important, however, is that that far from the Brits suddenly reaching out to the IRA, it was the IRA that suddenly told the British government ‘the war is over’ and asked to be brought into the political process. And that was because, as Trimble says, it had been beaten into a permanent stalemate. That is entirely different from talking to Hamas which is still attacking Israel through rocket attacks and suicide bomb attempts. In fact, as Trimble says, the British government did talk to the IRA in 1972 when it was still very much at war. The result was disastrous and merely intensified the IRA’s belief that everything was up for grabs.
        - Melanie Phillips, comparing the Israel/Arab situation with Northern Ireland, "The Spectator"

Palestinians claim the current intifada was a spontaneous uprising in response to Ariel Sharon's visit to Temple Mount in September 2000. In fact, Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam reported at the time that Palestinian Authority minister for communications Imad Al-Falouji admitted the intifada was started when the Camp David talks broke down, on the instructions of Yasser Arafat.
        - Eilis O'Hanlon, "The Irish Independent"

"Though far from perfect, Israel has shown extraordinary concern for avoiding civilian casualties in its half-century effort to protect its civilians from terrorism. Jordan killed more Palestinians in a single month than Israel has between 1948 and the present.
Israel has the only independent judiciary in the entire Middle East. Its Supreme Court, one of the most highly regarded in the world, is the only court in the Middle East from which an Arab or a Muslim can expect justice, as many have found in winning dozens of victories against the Israeli government, the Israeli military and individual Israeli citizens.
Israel is the only country in the region that has virtually unlimited freedom of speech. Any person in Israel whether Jewish, Muslim or Christian can criticize the Israeli government and its leaders. No citizen of any other Middle Eastern or Muslim state can do that without fear of imprisonment or death."
       - Alan Dershowitz

"No continent that has done to an ethnic minority what Europe did to the Jews, from the Crusades to the Pogroms to the Holocaust, can claim any kind of moral high ground, not for the next thousand years or so. Erecting memorials and museums for the Holocaust, teaching it at schools and so on are all a form of trying to put those nasty facts behind them. And maybe this would have worked were it not for the existence of Israel. Thanks to European exterminationist anti-Semitism, there's probably no more legitimate state on the face of the earth than Israel, a country that derives its legitimacy from the simple fact that the Jews needed it not to be killed to the last man, woman or child by the Europeans.
If Europe's history has to be whitewashed so that the continent may assume its new role of pure vestal, of the only universal judge that may decide on anybody else's guilt or innocence, Israel has to be de-legitimized, because it is the living proof of European mega-criminality."
        - Nelson Acher on Europundits

"You know the answer by yourself, and the whole world knows the answer. Israel is a small country with a small population. It is a democracy, but exists among neighbors who want to see her in the sea. Israel has made it clear that she does not want to be in the sea, and as a result, over several decades, has organized in such a manner as not to be thrown into the sea."
        - Donald Rumsfeld explains why the US is not concerned about Israel's WMD

It is often said that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. By extension, is not one man's "Berlin Wall" another man's "peace line"?
        - Editorial from The Daily Telegraph

We ended with Desmond Tutu lamenting the inability of both sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to grasp the simple fact that neither is going anywhere.
        - David Bennun, reviewing "The Age of Terror" in Britain's "Mail on Sunday"

Check out this AP report, on Condoleezza Rice’s meetings with relevant Middle East leaders. Here we go: "Rice met for two hours with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, resolute in his position that he must govern hand-in-hand with Hamas militants who refuse to moderate anti-Israeli policies." Okay, now watch carefully: "Later Sunday, the U.S. diplomat held a similarly long meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert over a similarly hard-line position." Do you have that? Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The repeatedly declared, and acted on, goal of Hamas is to destroy Israel. Israel, meanwhile, refuses to negotiate with those committed to its destruction. And these are "similarly hard-line positions." I ask again: Do you understand that?
        - Jay Nordlinger, "National Review"

From the U.S. point of view, the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Maybe they just don’t want what we’re selling? For example, in 2005, Israel simply gave Gaza to the Palestinians. According to the international community’s land-for-peace mantra, a peaceful society should have sprouted like a stalk from Jack’s magic beans. Instead, the Palestinian people voted for a band of Islamic fanatics — even the European Union calls them terrorists, not that it matters much — dedicated to the destruction of Israel... For many disciples of the "international peace process", it’s a matter of faith that the Palestinians just have to want peace, because how else can you have a peace process? For many supporters of the Bush Doctrine, Iraqis have to want democracy, because if they don’t, what’s the point of having a freedom agenda? But what if these are just beloved Western fictions? We see a well-lighted path to the good life: democracy, tolerance, rule of law, markets. But what if the Arab world just isn’t interested in our path?
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

The Arab world is the size of the USA. Israel is smaller than either the province of Munster or the state of New Hampshire; yet across the Arab landmass, from the Horn of Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, regardless of local tyrant, poverty or injustice, the one great unifying political issue is that of "Palestine". It displaces others that are far more pressing and far more real. This demented obsession, about events possibly thousands of miles away, has corrupted an already stultified, self-obsessed and backward Arab imagination, which apparently exults in hatred and in ignorance. Fewer foreign books have been translated into Arabic in the past four centuries than are translated into Spanish every year. Yet every famished fellah-urchin in every soukh can roll his tongue around the curse Israel.
Surrounded by such enemies, what is Israel meant to do? What concession can it give to the Arabs on the West Bank and in Gaza which will cause Islamic Jihad, or any other lunatic group, to accept Israel's right to a peaceful existence? No such concession exists. The certain consequence of Israel removing any of its security wall is the deaths of Israeli civilians by suicide bombers, and Arabs dancing in jubilation on the West Bank.
To be sure, there is the option of the Israeli state going into liquidation and its population being dispersed -- which is something the Jews of Israel are unlikely to submit to, having experienced a diaspora or two in their history. And anyway, where would they go? Which state is bidding to house several million displaced Jews? None was found in 1939 or 1945, and there seems to be few enough contenders this time round.
        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Independent"

"This animal is wicked, it defends itself when attacked." This adage encapsulates perfectly another false moral equivalence, one habitually applied to Israel. No other nation is in the same position of having to ward off so many enemies and ill-wishers, while at the same time having every measure of self-defence condemned as aggression.
        - David Pryce Jones, "Standpoint"

Over the last couple of years, thousands of rockets have been landing on Israeli soil and, finally, they have had enough. But behind that statistic there is a human dimension which tends to be rather ignored. I know many people in the southern Israeli town of Sderot and what is remarkable about their stories is not the number or make of rockets which have fallen on them on a daily basis for years, but the psychological carnage this wreaked upon them. One woman freely admitted to me that she hasn't had a proper night's sleep in more than two years as she and her family now basically live in their bomb shelter and it's hard to tell who she hates more -- the Muslim terrorists of Hamas or the Israeli government which she thinks has abandoned them. It's a common feeling amongst residents of southern Israeli towns who have been the silent victims of a long campaign of violence, intimidation and murder carried out by Hamas. And now, finally, that the Israelis have said that enough is enough, they are somehow meant to be the aggressors?
Hamas is a fundamentalist Islamic organisation intent on the eradication of the state of Israel and all its citizens; a violent fascist regime that allows honour killings and the execution of homosexuals to continue in its sphere of influence. Bankrolled by Iran, it manages to make even Hezbollah look like a moderate organisation. But Hamas is clever. As a friend of mine from Sderot pointed out, one of its favourite tactics is to launch Qassams from Palestinian schoolyards -- while the schools are still in session. Hamas does this, you see, knowing that the IDF can't immediately strike back (they can vector a rocket launch site within 90 seconds) because the last thing the Israelis need is footage of a devastated Palestinian school with dead kids.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent" (Jan'09)

Watching both this week's war and the world's predictable reaction to it, we can recall the Gaza rules. Most are reflections of our postmodern age, and completely at odds with the past protocols of war. First is the now-familiar Middle East doctrine of proportionality. Legitimate military action is strangely defined by the relative strength of the combatants. World opinion more vehemently condemns Israel's countermeasures, apparently because its rockets are far more accurate and deadly than previous Hamas barrages that are poorly targeted and thus not so lethal. If America had accepted such rules in, say, World War II, then by late 1944 we, not the Axis, would have been the culpable party, since by then once-aggressive German, Italian, and Japanese forces were increasingly on the defensive and far less lethal than the Allies.
Second, intent in this war no longer matters. Every Hamas unguided rocket is launched in hopes of hitting an Israeli home and killing men, women, and children. Every guided Israeli air-launched missile is targeted at Hamas operatives, who deliberately work in the closest vicinity to women and children. Killing Palestinian civilians is incidental to Israeli military operations and proves counterproductive to its objectives. Blowing up Israeli non-combatants is the aim of Hamas' barrages: the more children, aged, and women who die, the more it expects political concessions from Tel Aviv. By this logic, the 1999 American bombing of Belgrade — aimed at stopping the genocide of Slobodan Milosevic — was, because of collateral damage, the moral equivalent of the carefully planned Serbian massacres of Muslim civilians at Srebrenica in 1995.
Third, culpability is irrelevant. The “truce” between Israel and Hamas was broken once Hamas got its hands on new stockpiles of longer-range mobile rockets — weapons that are intended to go over Israel's border walls. Yet, according to the Gaza rules, both sides always deserve equal blame. Indeed, this weird war mimics the politically correct, zero-tolerance policies of our public schools, where both the bully and his victim are suspended once physical violence occurs.
        - Victor Davis Hanson, "National Review" (Jan'09)

Several papers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, have reported that among the “civilian dead” in Gaza in recent days are Fatah supporters executed by Hamas in hospitals, schools and other locations. (Unsurprisingly anti-Israel media in Britain, France and elsewhere have misled readers and viewers to believe they are part of a death toll Israel is responsible for.)
...And a New York Times report, for instance, mentions Hamas killed six people in one Gaza hospital alone in a 24-hour period.
        - David Frum, "National Review"

"Disproportion" is the concept of the moment. Do you know how to play? Let's say 150 missiles are lobbed at northern Israel from the Lebanese village of Qana and the Israelis respond with missiles of their own that kill 28 people. Whoa, man, that's way "disproportionate."
        - Mark Steyn, "The Chicago Sun-Times"

You would have to be very hardhearted not to weep at the sight of dead Palestinian children, but you would also have to accord a measure of blame to the Hamas officials who choose to use grade schools as launch pads for Israeli-bound rockets, and to the U.N. refugee agency that turns a blind eye to it. And, even if you don't deplore Fatah and Hamas for marinating their infants in a sick death cult in which martyrdom in the course of Jew-killing is the greatest goal to which a citizen can aspire, any fair-minded visitor to the West Bank or Gaza in the decade and a half in which the "Palestinian Authority" has exercised sovereign powers roughly equivalent to those of the nascent Irish Free State in 1922 would have to concede that the Palestinian "nationalist movement" has a profound shortage of nationalists interested in running a nation, or indeed capable of doing so. There is fault on both sides, of course, and Israel has few good long-term options. But, if this was a conventional ethno-nationalist dispute, it would have been over long ago... Only Israel attracts an intellectually respectable movement querying its very existence. For the purposes of comparison, let's take a state that came into existence at the exact same time as the Zionist Entity, and involved far bloodier population displacements. I happen to think the creation of Pakistan was the greatest failure of post-war British imperial policy. But the fact is that Pakistan exists, and if I were to launch a movement of anti-Pakism it would get pretty short shrift.
        - Mark Steyn, "The OC Register" (Jan'09)

Let us note that if supposedly all-powerful Israel is dedicated to exterminating the Palestinian people, it is doing a bad job. The Palestinian population has only grown since 1948. There are more Arab citizens living in Israel proper today than there were in all of Palestine the year Israel was founded. Perhaps one reason Israel fails at genocide is that it isn’t interested in genocide? That would explain why Israel warned thousands of Gazans by cell phone to leave homes near Hamas rocket stockpiles. It would clarify why, even amid all-out war, it offers aid to enemy civilians. It would even illuminate the otherwise mysterious clamor from Israelis for a viable “peace partner.” But no. For millions of Israel haters, the more plausible explanation is that the “defiant” Palestinians have miraculously survived Israel’s determination to wipe them out. Meanwhile, calls for the complete extermination of Israel are routine. The Hamas charter, invoking the fraudulent “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as justification, demands the destruction of Israel. Hamas exists solely because it is dedicated to the complete obliteration of the “Zionist entity.” A sick mixture of Holocaust envy and Holocaust denial is the defining spirit of Hamas.
        - Jonah Goldberg, "National Review"

That brief, halcyon period of the Oslo peace process was possible because this is precisely what happened: A combination of Russian emigration into Israel, the end of Soviet support, and general weariness led at least a part of the Palestinian leadership to conclude, after 30 years, that it would never push Israel into the sea. At least a part of the equally weary Israeli leadership came to believe that their occupation policies were doing them more harm than good and that they would gain more from negotiating than from fighting. Further negotiations will make sense only when Hamas' leadership—currently emboldened by a combination of popular indignation and Iranian support—finally arrives at the same conclusion as its secular counterparts, and a new generation of Israelis is again convinced to believe them. Until then, there is no point in bemoaning the passivity of the Bush administration, the silence of Barack Obama, the powerlessness of Arab leaders, or the weakness of Europe as so many, predictably, have begun to do. It's no outsider's "fault" that the fighting continues, and it merely obscures the real issues when we pretend otherwise. Diplomats might be able to slow its progress, but this war won't be over until someone has won it... Hamas and its followers believe that the continuing firing of rockets at southern Israel will, sooner or later, result in the dissolution of the Israeli state. The Israelis—both on the "peacenik" left and the more bellicose right—believe that the only way to prevent Hamas from firing rockets is to fight back.
        - Anne Applebaum, "Slate"

Of course not all anti-Israeli activists are anti-Semites. But you can be sure that all anti-Semites are also anti-Israeli activists.
        - Ian O'Doherty, "The Irish Independent"

The Nazis were attempting to exterminate all Jews. They established death camps to achieve their objectives, gassing men women and children simply to be rid of them. However strongly someone may dislike Israeli policy in Gaza, however cruel or unpleasant they may feel it is, the comparison with the Nazis is not a good one. And if the critics wish to make the argument that Jews are oppressing others as they were once oppressed, they need not make reference to the Nazis. There are plenty of other examples of Jews being oppressed. Why not call it a pogrom? Or argue that the Jews are behaving just like the Arabs behaved to them in the first half of the century. I would reject this comparison too, but I am intrigued that it is never used. I conclude therefore, that my critics are not seraching for an appropriate analogy. They were simply desirous of being monumentally offensive. They succeed only in being morally frivolous.
        - Daniel Finkelstein, "The Times"

It is commonly said that by storing weapons in mosques and firing rockets and mortars from residential areas and school yards, Hamas is using human shields in Gaza, a war crime. But the truth is really worse than that. Hamas doesn't endanger civilians in hopes that it will deter retaliation; it does so in the hope and expectation that civilians will be killed and wounded.
This tactic is part of a larger strategy to create tragedy and disaster, which the Palestinians have developed into something akin to an industrial process. They build tunnels, but they do not build bomb shelters. They do not, apparently, suspend classes in schools in the midst of bombardments. And Hamas, with the tolerance if not approval of most Gazans, uses schoolyards as launching zones for rockets and mortars. Think about it: is there anything about a schoolyard that makes it a particularly desirable place from which to fire ordnance? No. Hamas uses schools (and mosques, and residential areas generally) in this way in the hope that civilians, especially children, will be killed.
        - John Hinderaker

There are only two possible endgames: (A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza. Under tremendous international pressure - including from an increasingly wobbly US state department - the government of Ehud Olmert has begun hinting that it is receptive to a French-Egyptian ceasefire plan, essentially acquiescing to Endgame A. That would be a terrible mistake. It would fail on its own terms. It would have the same elements as the phony peace in Lebanon: an international force that abjures any meaningful use of force, an arms embargo under which arms will most assuredly flood in, and a cessation of hostilities until the terrorist side is rearmed and ready to initiate the next round of hostilities.
The UN-mandated disarmament of Hizbullah in Lebanon is a well-known farce. Not only have foreign forces not stopped Hizbullah's massive rearmament. Their very presence makes it impossible for Israel to take any preventive military action, lest it accidentally hit a blue-helmeted Belgian crossing guard. The "international community" is now pushing very hard for a replay in Gaza of that charade.
Does anyone imagine that international monitors will risk their lives to prevent weapons smuggling? To arrest terrorists? To engage in shoot-outs with rocket-launching teams attacking Israeli civilians across the Gaza border? Of course not. Weapons will continue to be smuggled. Deeper and more secure fortifications will be built for the next round. Mosques, schools and hospitals will again be used for weapons storage and terrorist safe havens. Do you think French "peacekeepers" are going to raid them? Which is why the only acceptable outcome of this war, both for Israel and for the civilised world, is Endgame B: the disintegration of Hamas rule. It is already under way.
        - Charles Krauthammer, "Israel Must Be Allowed To Finish Its Mission", "The Irish Times"

Are you watching the IDF's YouTube channel? You should.
Click here for an English-language exposition of a captured Hamas map that shows the placement of Hamas IEDs in a densely populated Gaza neighborhood with no regard for the safety of the population.
Click here for video in which the Israeli forces discover that Hamas has filled a school with boobytrapped explosive.
Here is video of what happens when Israeli aircraft strike a Gaza.
        - David Frum, "National Review"

The UN has retracted a claim that an Israeli strike, which killed more than 40 people in northern Gaza last month, hit a school run by a UN agency. 'The humanitarian coordinator would like to clarify that the shelling, and all of the fatalities, took place outside rather than inside the school,' said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs... The attack sparked widespread outrage in the midst of Israel's deadly offensive in Gaza... Meanwhile, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has revealed that Hamas has seized hundreds of food parcels and thousands of blankets destined for Gaza civilians. 'At 14:30 on 3 February, over 3,500 blankets and 406 food parcels were confiscated from a distribution store at Beach Camp in Gaza by police personnel,' it said in a statement.
        - Seen on the RTE website (Feb'09)

The juxtaposition of the BBC Anne Frank programme with the Israeli attacks on Gaza made one ‘read across’. Unlike most British journalists, I feel more pro-Israel because of these events. It relates to the point above about good and bad political orders. Israel is a country with a rule of law and parliamentary democracy and a free press. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005 because it knew its presence there was, in anything but the short term, illegitimate and unsustainable. The Hamas regime which then arose in Gaza is a bad political order — a fanatical entity which shows no concern for the welfare of its own people. Indeed, it actively advocates that they kill themselves. Under the guise of divine inspiration, it claims the right to destroy Israel (and, by the same token, persecutes Christians and those Muslims who do not agree with it). It makes hate-filled and conspiratorial claims against Jews which, if spoken by white men, the pro-Hamas BBC or Guardian would execrate. I am not, in the exact sense, a Zionist: I do not think that any people have a God-given or historic right to a homeland previously inhabited mainly by others. But a good political order has grown up in Israel over 60 years, and those who wish to destroy it have the same motives as those who took the Frank family away to their deaths.
        - Charles Moore, "The Spectator"


>> Moved to "War on Terror" page


Where the French see international status and the British see an object of charity, the Chinese see a business opportunity. The Americans, it appears, see Africa as a threat... Every time you say 'Africa is...' the words crumble and break. From every generalisation you must exclude at least five countries... Africa is full of surprises.
        - Richard Dowden, "Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles"

The reason so much of black Africa is a disaster is nothing to do with colonialism, or droughts. The trouble is the despotic behaviour of Africa's black rulers.
        - The Spectator

African governments and the vampire-like politicians who run them are regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival.
        - Martin Meredith, "The State of Africa"

"Undignified images of women and children alongside articles and appeals related to Niger's 2005 food crisis have fostered the idea of incapable Africans waiting for help from white saviours. People get some kind of perverse enjoyment out of other people's suffering. There;s a term for it — development pornography."
        - Lizzie Downes, of Irish aid agency Comhlamh

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson declared "unconditional War on Poverty in America." The billions of dollars that flowed from that commitment accomplished a good deal. But because the goal was so grandiose, and the policies so flawed, the Great Society ultimately engendered widespread skepticism about government's ability to help the poor. Instead of abolishing poverty, Johnson ended up undermining liberalism. Today, a number of global leaders, most notably British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his heir impatient Gordon Brown, are demanding an unconditional assault on African poverty... These well-meaning British pols and their singing Irish counterparts seem determined to repeat all the mistakes of old-school American liberals, only on a global scale. African poverty warriors begin from the faulty premise that what the world needs now is more generosity and good intentions.
        - Jacob Weisberg, "MSN Slate"

There is no Live 8 concert in Brussels or on the sugar beet prairies of East Anglia. Nor will Live 8 plead with the NHS to stop its most vicious sanction, the poaching of a third of Africa’s qualified doctors and nurses. Such action is too close to reality for Geldof’s musicians. The politics Live 8 does not do is the politics of painful choices. What we see is another chapter in an old story, glibness triumphing over thought and the rich yearning for excuses to impose their values on the poor. We know we cannot 'make poverty history'. This week we are trying to make it geography. Perhaps, just for once, we should make it economics.
        - Simon Jenkins, "The Times"

That's why the Live8 bonanza was so misguided. Two decades ago, Sir Bob was at least demanding we give him our own fokkin' money. This time round, all he was asking was that we join him into bullying the G8 blokes to give us their taxpayers' fokkin' money... The system that enriched them could enrich Africa. But capitalism's the one cause the poseurs never speak up for. The rockers demand we give our fokkin' money to African dictators to manage, while they give their fokkin' money to Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts to manage. Which of those models makes more sense?
        - Mark Steyn, "What Rocks is Capitalism"

It is not easy to present the reasons for what we now regard as Africa's plight fairly. Were we too acquisitive and ruthless in the late 19th century? Was Europe too greedy and thoughtless after the two world wars, when it carved up much of Africa in straight lines, without weighing tribal affinities? Were we too precipitate in granting independence to our ill-prepared colonies there in the last century? There are supporters for all these propositions. Those who reckon with hindsight that Harold Macmillan's wind of change bears at least some responsibility for Africa's low place in the world today will draw support from Martin Meredith's detailed study of 50 years of African independence... The performances of other European powers in Africa often made Macmillan's misjudgments look almost distinguished. Belgium left a sorry mess in the Congo, where conflict still rages. Portugal left Mozambique and Angola to ruinous civil wars. But we should note here that Ethiopia, restored by Commonwealth forces to independence after Mussolini's insane intervention in 1935, went through troubles of its own after the downfall of its emperor since 1930. Mengistu, a Marxist and tyrant who murdered Haile Selassie, was as big a villain as I ever met in Africa. He positively fostered famine to subdue his enemies. Yet Ethiopia had never felt what some would call the yoke of colonial rule... Contrary to the simplistic view of those who prefer to lash the West for its mishandling of the continent, there is a vast amount only Africa can put right.
        - WF Deedes, reviewing "The State of Africa" by Martin Meredith, "The Telegraph"


Free trade gives millions of poor people a step up the ladder. Yes, that may mean working in a sweatshop. But these people manifestly prefer that to their prior condition. It may come as a shock to some suburban American liberals, but for children in Pakistan, the alternative to stitching Reebok soccer balls is not being driven to soccer practice in a Volvo station wagon. It's deeper poverty.

The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers. Global poverty is not something recently invented for the benefit of multinational corporations.

        - Paul Krugman, "In Praise of Cheap Labor"

It is the very people the anti-globalisers say they wish to help, namely the poor, who would be, and indeed are, their pre-eminent victims.

        - David Quinn, "Seeing through the rhetoric of the anti-globalisers", "Irish Independent"

The benefits of free trade are now taken for granted. In Seattle, Americans who chanted that trade should be "local not global" sported Japanese cameras, chatted on Finnish mobile phones, kept warm with Colombian coffee and doubtless wore clothes made in Asia.

        - Philippe Legrain

Those who vent their moral indignation over low pay for Third World workers employed by multinational companies ignore the plain fact that these workers' employers are usually supplying them with better opportunities than they had before, while those who are morally indignant on their behalf are providing them with nothing.
Multi-billion-dollar corporations are seldom owned by multi-billionaires. They are usually owned by thousands, if not millions, of stockholders, most of whom are nowhere close to being billionaires. Some may be teachers, nurses, mechanics, clerks and others who own stock indirectly by paying into pension funds that buy these stocks.

        - Thomas Sowell

A global pessimists’ alliance is taking shape that unites anti-globalisers and environmentalists, the cultural avant garde and social conservatives, left-wing intellectuals and populist nationalists. Despite their differences these radical and reactionary pessimists increasingly share a common political space defined by their pessimism.
The case against pessimism is that powerful forces at work in technology, science, politics and culture will, in the century to come, give many millions more people more control, choice and reason for hope about their lives. We need a new politics of hope, which might come from the Right as well as the Left, to counter the tide of pessimism that is educating us to be helpless.
        - Charles Leadbetter, "Reasons To Be Cheerful", The Times

If I told you I thought the world was controlled by a handful of capitalists and corporate bosses, you would say I was a left-winger, but if I told you who I thought the capitalists and corporate bosses were, you’d say I was far right.
        - Anonymous anarchist demonstrator, quoted in Pravda

In Nigeria, for example, at $60 per barrel, costs are $8, the multinationals collect $1, while $51 goes to the Nigerian government.
        - Tony Allwright, on who gets what from the oil boom

The facts of globalization are not always pretty. If you buy a product made in a third-world country, it was produced by workers who are paid incredibly little by Western standards and probably work under awful conditions. Anyone who is not bothered by those facts, at least some of the time, has no heart.
But that doesn't mean the demonstrators are right. On the contrary: anyone who thinks that the answer to world poverty is simple outrage against global trade has no head - or chooses not to use it. The anti-globalization movement already has a remarkable track record of hurting the very people and causes it claims to champion.
So who are the bad guys? The activists are getting the images they wanted from Quebec City : leaders sitting inside their fortified enclosure, with thousands of police protecting them from the outraged masses outside. But images can deceive. Many of the people inside that chain-link fence are sincerely trying to help the world's poor. And the people outside the fence, whatever their intentions, are doing their best to make the poor even poorer.

Germany's President Horst Koehler has denounced the world financial market as a "monster" using "highly complex financial instruments" to make "massive leveraged investments with minimal capital". Koehler, formerly head of the International Monetary Fund, seems perplexed about the causes of the present crisis, but I can explain them in a way any German can understand... The German financial system wanted to consume low-quality American assets, but did not want to look on what it was eating... Why didn't the Germans and all the other overseas investors buy mortgages in their own countries, instead of scraping the bottom of the credit barrel in the United States? It is because there aren't enough Germans, or Italians, or Frenchmen or Japanese starting families and buying homes. There weren't enough Americans, either, and therein lies a tale... There is nothing complicated about finance. It is based on old people lending to young people. Young people invest in homes and businesses; aging people save to acquire assets on which to retire. The new generation supports the old one, and retirement systems simply apportion rights to income between the generations. Never before in human history, though, has a new generation simply failed to appear... It is fashionable these days to blame the Americans for borrowing instead of saving... The world kept shipping capital to the United States over the past 10 years, however, because it had nowhere else to go. The financial markets, in turn, found ways to persuade Americans to borrow more and more money. If there weren't enough young Americans to borrow money on a sound basis, the banks arranged for a smaller number of Americans to borrow more money on an unsound basis. That is why subprime, interest-only, no-money-down and other mortgages waxed great in bank portfolios... Regulators, bankers and investors all looked the other way, and now all point the finger at each other... There simply aren't enough young people in America to borrow money from Europe's and Japan's aging savers...  Economics simply does not offer a solution to a lapse of the will to live among some of the world's richest economies. The Europeans are paying for their own nihilism. Having invented the perfect post-Christian society with cradle-to-grave services, they have not found anyone willing to live in it, except for the immigrants who well may inherit it from the disappearing locals.
        - Spengler, in "The Asia Times" (May'08)

Assume, if it amuses you, that foreigners flood our shores with all kinds of useful goods, without asking anything from us; even if our imports are infinite and our exports nothing, I defy you to prove to me that we should be the poorer for it.


How scary May Day used to be as we in the capitalist West watched television pictures of the May Day parade from Moscow. All those tanks and missiles and the massed ranks of the Red Army goose-stepping their way towards world domination. Still, we won in the end, didn't we? The Russian government can scarcely afford the price of the fuel nowadays to get the tanks from one side of Red Square to another... So, at the end of a century of ideological struggle, the score reads something like: forces of labour: nil; forces of capitalism: don't even bother counting.

"Overthrow capitalism and replace it with something nice" read one banner. Insults were hurled at any of the following targets - banks and big corporations, free markets and free trade, car owners and capitalists, economic growth and, of course, the police.
...They would deny indignantly that they are enemies of the poor, not the rich. But that is the sad truth. If the goals of these self-proclaimed champions of "the wretched of the earth" were to be realised, they would condemn them to poverty for ever. Spoilt children of the relatively affluent, whose actual experience of poor countries is unlikely to extend beyond a Thai beach resort, they have turned against the great liberalising forces that have made their own societies prosper, warts and all, and which hold out hope for millions more.
What looks like exploitation to Western trade unionists may be a route out of poverty for people in poor countries where any job is better than none. And if globalisation were truly stealing jobs from unskilled workers in rich nations, why has unemployment in the US been so low when real wages were rising?
To be anti-globalisation is to march, under the banner of human rights, against individual freedom, cutting people off from a world where their choices are wider than ever before.
The challenge is to spread the benefits of globalisation more widely, not to halt it by buckling to demands for "fair" wages and labour standards which are protectionism in humanitarian disguise. These children of affluence are 21st century Luddites who please themselves and keep others poor. Next year they should stay at home. A lot of those planning to riot call themselves "anarchists". Don't be fooled. "Anarchism", in this context, isn't a protest against multi-nationals, globalisation or economic growth. It is simply shorthand for enjoying smashing things and people, and a way of making it sound respectable. If you hit someone at a football match, you are rightly described as a hooligan. But if you do the same thing claiming to be an "anarchist", there are those who will praise you for it and say you are bravely standing up against "globalisation" or "economic exploitation".
That is why anarchism and other forms of "political" ideology are becoming increasingly attractive to the sort of people who used to be football hooligans - although most of them have as much understanding of political philosophy as the thugs who think that "paediatrician" means "paedophile", and who attack consultants who specialise in treating children's diseases as a result.
The rioters are not "dispossessed": Giro cheques see to that. They are not "disenfranchised": unlike their 18th-century forerunners, they can influence the political process by peaceful means. Indeed, thanks to New Labour's obsession with new assemblies and referendums, there is now more opportunity to vote than ever before. That fewer and fewer people choose to do so reveals only that economic and political security have brought boredom with the political process.
The deception about the rioters' motives does not extend to the rioters themselves. They know that their "anti-capitalist and globalisation" jamborees are organised by using that tool of global capitalism par excellence, the internet. As George Orwell said, there are some truths so obvious that you need a particular kind of intelligence to stop you from seeing them. Now if you try to bean any armed soldier anywhere with a large, heavy, metal fire extinguisher weighing several kilos, launched twin-handed from behind your head, is he first going to wait to see what the impact feels like before he acts? And if he is a youthful conscript, certainly untrained for this kind of work, trapped inside a Land Rover with his two colleagues injured alongside him, and he has about a second to make up his mind, what is he likely to do? Not sure? All right - so what would you do?

        - Kevin Myers, "The Irish Times"

The protesters who disturbed the calm of Seattle a couple of years ago see the WTO as the problem and not the solution. Some think it is trade that keeps the developing world poor. How wonderful it would be to turn back the clock to the days when contented peasants lived happily off their small plots of land - before the wicked westerners and their own corrupt governments conned them into growing food for export and cheated them out of the profits.
It is a seductive notion and entirely unrealistic. History and economic theory are against them.
Trade is the engine of economic growth. Even Oxfam - no wide-eyed supporter of the WTO - argues that trade has the "potential to act as a powerful motor for poverty reduction". On its calculation, every 0.7% increase in exports from a developing country generates as much income as it receives each year in aid.

        - John Humprhys, "The Times"


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