The headline read, “Taliban attack trends: Never mind.” The article explained, “The U.S.-led military command in Afghanistan will no longer count and publish the number of Taliban attacks, a statistical measure that it once touted as a gauge of U.S. and allied success but now dismisses as flawed.”
I found myself thinking the following: “I’ve checked out on Afghanistan, mentally. That’s what was said of the president of the United States, years ago. But he is the commander-in-chief. How can he check out? Besides which, how can any of us check out when our countrymen are fighting and dying there?”
I talked about this with Tom Cotton, when he was campaigning for Congress last autumn. He made a comment that has stuck with me: “It’s little wonder the country is war-weary when the president seems weariest of all.”
I talked to him in January as well, at a National Review Institute conference in Washington. (For a video of this conversation, go here.) Cotton reminded me, and everyone else present, that we have people in the field, and we need to back them to the hilt. The war may be yesterday’s news in many minds; but it is present reality, and life and death, for others.
This may seem terribly arrogant — and I know it is — but I figure that, if someone like me needs reminding, people in general need reminding too.
(I warned you.)
General James Mattis, who leads the Central Command, has given testimony to the Senate. As we learn from this article, he told senators “he had envisioned keeping about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat operations end in 2014, far more than the number the Obama administration and NATO are considering.”
I have a feeling Mattis’s course is far the more prudent. If you’ve spent years of sacrifice in a place, why risk letting it all go to pot? Why risk rendering the sacrifice for nought? Of course, there must be some risk — but you do all you can to minimize it, I would think.
He appears to be a straight-shooter, Mattis. This report begins, “The Obama administration program of sanctions and diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities is not working, [Mattis] told a Senate committee . . .” Yeah, no kidding. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) is another one who understands. She is quoted as saying, “I fear that if they [the Iranians] continue to use negotiations to delay . . . we will be at a point where they have nuclear-weapons capability, and then it’s too late.”
You have to laugh at this headline, in a gallows sort of way: “World powers moderate on Iran at nuke meeting.” (Article here.) Yeah, because the world powers have been so tough on Iran. Extreme, even!
According to the U.N., there are now a million refugees from Syria — half are children. A full 70,000 people have been killed. (For a news article, go here.) As I keep saying, Syria is not that populous a country — 20 million. And declining, all the time . . .
It is the No. 1 question in the Arab-Israeli conflict, I believe — maybe even the only question: Will the Arabs co-exist with Israel or not? Will they live side by side or not? As this story tells us, a senior British diplomat was prevented from speaking at Bir Zeit University on the West Bank. He was attacked by a mob, though uninjured.
The article says the following, of the “activists”: “They said their chief grievance was Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in what was then British-ruled Palestine in a letter known as the ‘Balfour Declaration,’ issued in 1917.” Uh-huh. One of the “student leaders” said, “We asked the university to cancel his visit because Britain is the cause of the Palestinian tragedy.”
Actually, the Palestinians are the cause of the Palestinian tragedy.
They could have had half of that British-ruled land in 1947. They refused, opting to make war against the Jews. At almost any time in the last 65 years, they could have had a state.
Do they want one, co-existing with Israel? Or do they need the whole enchilada? That is the question, and all others are, by comparison, small.
Let me quote something I wrote recently: “Balfour lived to the age of 81, from 1848 to 1930. He was prime minister and foreign secretary. According to his niece, he said in his last days that ‘what he had been able to do for the Jews had been the thing he looked back upon as the most worth his doing.’”
So, seven people in Saudi Arabia are to be executed — “by crucifixion and firing squad.” (Article here.) Crucifixion? Golly.
From American “liberals” — though it pains me to use this once-golden word about nasty leftists — there has been an outpouring of praise for the late Hugo Chávez. Remember what our president did, not long after being sworn in: He clasped Chávez in a soul-brother handshake and called him “mi amigo,” his friend. Chávez was no friend to any democrat — to Democrats, yes.
Our “liberals” stopped being liberal a long time ago. I guess they call themselves “progressives” now, in the main. They have “progressed” to brutish leftism.
It has long bothered me that, when the question of North Korea comes up, Americans say, “It’s China’s problem, really.” So I was heartened by Ed Royce, the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — who said, “It is important to realize we have more options . . . than to simply rely on Beijing to ‘do more.’”
Quite so. (For a relevant news article, go here.)
Have you been following this terrible story? Sergei Filin, the artistic director of the Bolshoi Ballet, was the victim of an acid attack. They threw acid in his face. “They”? The attack was organized by a principal dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko.
I would like to cite two things from the above-linked report. First, the report says, “Dmitrichenko . . . has danced several major parts in recent years, including the villain in ‘Swan Lake.’” Kind of a snarky touch, on the part of the reporter, but I sort of like it.
And you gotta hear this — but it’ll take some setting up. Dmitrichenko may have been motivated by revenge in behalf of his girlfriend. That woman is Anzhelina Vorontsova, also a dancer. She was “known to have been at odds with Filin.” She studies with Nikolai Tsiskaridze — a foe of Filin’s, apparently.
Okay, here we go:
The Izvestia daily on Wednesday quoted ballet teacher Marina Kondratyeva as saying that Dmitrichenko had a brilliant career and would not have needed to seek revenge on Filin.
Kondratyeva admitted that his girlfriend Vorontsova had not been given leading parts lately but for a good reason: “How could Filin ‘elbow her out’? Tsiskaridze is mentoring and coaching her — but she was just plain fat.”
I’ve known several “worlds” in my time: politics, music, academia, sports, media. I’m not sure that any is meaner than ballet. (Although opera may give it a run for its money.)
John Wilpers has died — he was “the last known surviving member of a team of Army intelligence officers who captured the Japanese prime minister, Hideki Tojo, after World War II, foiling his attempted suicide so he could be brought to trial for his role in the attack on Pearl Harbor and other war crimes.”
I have quoted from this obit. After leaving the Army, Wilpers worked for the CIA. He did not talk much about the war, to anyone. As one of his sons said, that was in part because CIA men learn to be taciturn, and in part because “that generation didn’t come back and brag.”
Yes. That seems such a different America. An American child takes a dump today, he’s taught to beat his breast and say how proud he is.
Shall we end with some sports talk? As regular readers know, I’m a Michigander, who grew up in the Detroit orbit, so my NFL team is the Lions. I have long argued, or suspected, that the Lions are the worst sports franchise in history. (We have done a lot better by the Tigers, Pistons, and Red Wings.)
This article tells us that four NFL teams have yet to be in the Super Bowl: Detroit (of course), the Cleveland Browns, the Houston Texans, and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Houston and Jacksonville teams were established a couple of seconds ago, so leave them to one side. Detroit was established in the 1930s; Cleveland was established in the 1940s.
And our overall records? We, the Lions, are 510–611–32. They, the Browns, are 494–421–13. A virtual powerhouse.
But one good thing about being a Lions fan? We’re always getting number-one draft picks . . .
To order Jay Nordlinger’s book Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Most Famous and Controversial Prize in the World, go here. To order his collection Here, There & Everywhere, go here.