Friday, July 15, 2005

Free ... and Tired

Just got back from IHS Liberty & Society Seminar. The week was well worth it. A lot of discussion on matters economic and political with a little philosophy thrown in from time to time, not to mention history. (Will post thoughts from seminar as the days go by.)

Thought I would unwind a bit. So I turned on Comedy Central. Who's on but Zach Galifianakis. A bit from his routine:

"You know you have a drinking problem when you go into a bar and the bartender knows your name ... and you've never been there."

"My sister was recently diagnosed with multiple personalities. It's not something to laugh about. She called me yesterday ... and ... my caller ID exploded."

The IHS seminar was great. A lot of thoughts. For the faculty's reflections and musings (as things happened), see their "live-blog" at AgoraPhilia.

The alum should have their own blog pretty soon. Tried to name it "No Free Lunch," but that was already taken. Will keep trying new names.
In the meantime, some articles I missed throughout the week:

Our Wars Over the War by Victor Davis Hanson:

“The fault is not in our stars.”

Ever since September 11, there has been an alternative narrative about this war embraced by the Left. In this mythology, the attack on September 11 had in some vague way something to do with American culpability.

Either we were unfairly tilting toward Israel, or had been unkind to Muslims. Perhaps, as Sen. Patty Murray intoned, we needed to match the good works of bin Laden to capture the hearts and minds of Muslim peoples.

...

The spectacular inroads of the Ottomans in the16th century to the gates of Vienna and the shores of the Adriatic were not explainable according to Istanbul’s vibrant economy, impressive universities, or widespread scientific dynamism and literacy, or even a technologically superior and richly equipped military. Instead, a beleaguered Europe was trisected by squabbling Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians — as a wealthy northwest, with Atlantic seaports, ignored the besieged Mediterranean and Balkans and turned its attention to getting rich in the New World.

So too we are divided over two antithetical views of the evolving West — Europe at odds with America, red and blue states in intellectual and spiritual divergence, the tragic view resisting the creeping therapeutic mindset.

These interior splits largely explain why creepy killers from the Dark Ages, parasitic on the West from their weapons to communications, are still plaguing us four years after their initial surprise attack.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

President Bush has given some good speeches lately, including his talk June 29 at Fort Bragg, N.C., in which he stressed some of the reasons for going into Iraq, and his address this past Monday at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Va., in which he talked about the role of intelligence in defeating terrorists and stressed that "the heart of our strategy is this: Free societies are peaceful societies."

But there's another speech Mr. Bush still needs to give. That would be the one in which he says: I told you so--there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

...

Actually, there were many connections, as
Stephen Hayes and Thomas Joscelyn, writing in the current issue of the Weekly Standard, spell out under the headline "The Mother of All Connections." Since the fall of Saddam, the U.S. has had extraordinary access to documents of the former Baathist regime, and is still sifting through millions of them. Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn take some of what is already available, combined with other reports, documentation and details, some from before the overthrow of Saddam, some after. For page after page, they list connections--with names, dates and details such as the longstanding relationship between Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Saddam's regime.

Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn raise, with good reason, the question of why Saddam gave haven to Abdul Rahman Yasin, one of the men who in 1993 helped make the bomb that ripped through the parking garage of the World Trade Center. They detail a contact between Iraqi intelligence and several of the Sept. 11 hijackers in Malaysia, the year before al Qaeda destroyed the twin towers. They recount the intersection of Iraqi and al Qaeda business interests in Sudan, via, among other things, an Oil for Food contract negotiated by Saddam's regime with the al-Shifa facility that President Clinton targeted for a missile attack following the African embassy bombings because of its apparent connection to al Qaeda. And there is plenty more.

The difficulty lies in piecing together the picture, which is indeed murky (that being part of the aim in covert dealings between tyrants and terrorist groups)--but rich enough in depth and documented detail so that the basic shape is clear. By the time Messrs. Hayes and Joscelyn are done tabulating the cross-connections, meetings, Iraqi Intelligence memos unearthed after the fall of Saddam, and information obtained from detained terrorist suspects, you have to believe there was significant collaboration between Iraq and al Qaeda. Or you have to inhabit a universe in which there will never be a demonstrable connection between any of the terrorist attacks the world has suffered over the past dozen years, or any tyrant and any aspiring terrorist. In that fantasyland, all such phenomena are independent events.

Mr. Bush, in calling attention to the Iraq-al Qaeda connection in the first place, did the right thing. For the U.S. president to confirm that clearly and directly at this stage, with some of the abundant supporting evidence now available, might seem highly controversial. But reviving that controversy would help settle it more squarely in line with the truth.

Liberals, Democrats and others on the Left frequently state that they "support the troops." For most of them, whether they realize it or not, this is not true. They feel they must say this because the majority of Americans would find any other position unacceptable. Indeed, for most liberals, the thought that they really do not support the troops is unacceptable even to them.

Lest this argument be dismissed as an attack on leftist Americans' patriotism, let it be clear that leftists' patriotism is not the issue here. Their honesty is.

...

Many on the Left express far more contempt than support for the troops.

A Democratic senator compares our interrogators to the Nazis and Communist torturers; the head of Amnesty International in America defends likening Guantanamo Bay to the Gulag; and liberals routinely speak of troops as coming from the lowest socio-economic rungs of society (maybe that's one reason they oppose recruiters on campuses, lest the best educated actually join the military). But, hey, the Left supports the troops.

An honest leftist would say: "Because I view this war as immoral, I cannot support our troops." What is not honest is their saying, "Support the troops -- bring them home." Supporting people who wish to fight entails supporting their fight; and if that fight is opposed, those waging it are also opposed.

Many on the Left angrily accuse the Right of disparaging their patriotism. That charge, too, is false. I have never heard a mainstream conservative impugn the patriotism of liberals. But as regards their attitude toward our troops, the patriotism of those on the Left is not the issue. The issue is their honesty.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Hey man; it's Steve. It was great meeting you at IHS. Check out my blog sometime: adjunctscholar.blogspot.com. =)