"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
- 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 - Africa - Globalisation
AROUND THE GLOBE
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
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
- 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"
'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
- 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)
THE STATE OF ISRAEL
"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
- 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
- Clifford D May, "National Review"
"Tragedy is a conflict
between two rights."
"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"
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
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
- 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
- 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"
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
- 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
- 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"
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
- 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
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
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"
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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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