Jimmy Carter says we should support our troops in the field, which is big of him. But he also says that the current war doesn’t meet his standards for a “just war,” and we know how high his standards are — he tells us incessantly.
Furthermore, he says, “I notice that there’s strong elements of dispute between military commanders and some of the officials in Washington. I think that’s not unhealthy.” Always good to have the input of the Master of Desert One! (That was the operation meant to rescue the hostages in Teheran — or scare the sand or something — maybe the low point of U.S. might, prestige, and effectiveness.)
Finally, Carter huffs/chides, “For the first time in 20 years, we [at the glorious, award-winning Carter Center] have had to restrict the travel of our people, since the war began, because of such an uproar of anti-American sentiment even among countries that have been our close friends in the past.” And we all know that America is to blame for anti-American sentiment, not the people who unreasonably and disgracefully harbor that sentiment.
Forgive me, folks, but I’m in a foul, anti-Carter mood (even more than I am usually — call it a war footing). I grow tired of hearing about the European street or the Arab street. I wish that someone, somewhere, would for once be concerned about the American street.
By now, you have heard about the desecration of the British cemetery in France. (For the Sun article, and its shocking photo, go here.) This is the kind of thing that outrages the senses. The ingratitude, the meanness, the Nazi stuff. And, of course, there’s the constant wish that Saddam prevail (and thus that his torture chambers, rape rooms, cutting out of tongues, etc., continue).
The work of a few ghouls and knaves is always upsetting — but they are just a few. Every town, everywhere, probably, has them. More important are the opinion surveys showing that so few Frenchmen wish us well in this war, and that so many are actively rooting for Saddam. (No wonder the foreign minister was reluctant to say which side he supported!) This is serious business. I am not among those — in case you wondered — who think that some are making too big a deal out of this Franco-American rift. I am one of those making the big deal. We are at a parting of the ways. And I don’t think Americans should wring their hands about it.
Further on this theme (in a way): I believe it is a mistake to regard the “Mogadishu” guy at Columbia University — the prof who wished “a million Mogadishus” on our troops — as an isolated kook. I think, simply from my own experience and from what I’ve learned from others, that he voiced what a lot of U.S. professors — not to mention the kids under their control — believe. And I welcome the flushing out of such hatred and idiocy. The campus should not be a closed camp, especially when there’s so much taxpayer money involved. Let’s let the sunshine in on America’s “learning” factories.
Back to France for a moment. As you know, there have been some who’ve wanted to organize an anti-France boycott here. And over there, Frenchmen have staged “die-ins” in front of McDonald’s — it’s always McDonald’s, isn’t it? — and some restaurants are refusing to serve Coca-Cola, the American liquid.
I certainly know where I stand in this fight — and it’s not a case of “My country, right or wrong.” No, not at all. I have loved France all of my life, inheriting that love from key family members. It’s just that the United States is acting as a force for good in the world — keeping people safe from expansionist, genocidal monsters; liberating others from tyranny; taking U.N. resolutions seriously, for heaven’s sake! — while France is doing everything possible to obstruct the effort for good.
By the way, Prof. DeGenova must have been tickled by “a million Mogadishus,” for its alliteration. I prefer one of V. S. Naipaul’s titles, for a book about India: “A Million Mutinies Now.”
Last about “Prof. Mogadishu”: When it comes to the Genoese, I prefer Christopher Columbus, and I bet you do too.
Hell, I vastly prefer Eugene Genovese! And Elizabeth Fox-Genovese!
For many months now, I have been recording and savoring Donald Rumsfeld’s speech, valuing its frankness, its honesty, and its America-at-midcentury élan. (For my article “Rumsfeld Rules,” from Dec. 2001, please go here.) Let’s have some recent samples:
“The fact is that one person prints [a false story], then everyone else runs around and copycats it. Then pretty soon it’s been printed 16 times and everyone says, ‘Well, it must be true.’ That’s nonsense.”
And how about this prizewinner? “They [Saddam's Republican Guard] are being attacked from the air, they’re being pressured from the ground, and in good time they won’t be there.”
And in good time they won’t be there. Yes, Donald Rumsfeld is the anti-McNamara — just as President Bush is the anti-Johnson, and thank goodness for it. Both are the “right man in the right place at the right time.”
I don’t know whether you noticed this tidbit, but it struck me forcefully. As Niles Lathem of the New York Post reported, “Just before he gave the final go-ahead to attack, President Bush held a videoconference with every combat commander and asked them point-blank if they were comfortable with the [war] plan and had what they needed to do the job.” Apparently, no one expressed any reservation.
Critical as I am — in fact, I’m paid for it — I can’t imagine anyone leading more honestly and correctly than Bush. His awareness of all considerations is total. As has been his knowledge that, ultimately, the president must decide.
Like you, I’m sure, I have been comforted by new information regarding that van attack — in which innocent Iraqi women and children were killed. That’s cold comfort for the victims and their families, I realize; but it makes a difference, in several ways.
It seems that responsibility for this atrocity rests squarely on the shoulders of the Iraqi dictator and his loyalists. Fox News quoted a “prominent cleric” in the area saying, “These people, children and women: Those were put in the bus by Saddam Hussein’s forces. Their husbands or fathers were taken hostage, and the driver was ordered to speed up to the checkpoint and not stop so that they would be shot at.”
That is utterly consistent with what we know about regime behavior.
In his usual venue, the Village Voice, Nat Hentoff published a column saying that, though he protested against the Vietnam War, he would not protest against this one: because of the atrocities committed by Saddam’s regime against the Iraqi people.
Fine, fine. But let me just record this, briefly: The Communists in Vietnam were no picnic. As Vernon Walters said — I have quoted him many times — bombs fell on every village and hamlet for twelve years, and no one moved. It took the coming of the Communist “peace” to send 600,000 people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, to risk starvation, dehydration, piracy, and death.
So, support this war if you want: but let’s not pretend that there was anything ignoble about American efforts in Vietnam, or that Vietnamese, when you prick them, bleed any less than Iraqis.
As Allied forces march on, they are collecting more and more evidence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Can we get to the evidence of gaudy French and German collaboration, please? I make no effort to disguise my eagerness.
The Supreme Court is hearing the University of Michigan affirmative action case. Outside the Court, students held up a banner: “Admit It Bush [no comma] / You Fear / Black Success.” One of the students holding the banner — to judge by her T-shirt — goes to Wellesley. If this is her thinking, she shouldn’t have been admitted anywhere. Or maybe she learned this kind of thinking after she got in.
Also, Timothy Starks of the New York Sun quoted a 17-year-old student from D.C. as saying, “Because of slavery, we’ve had to use affirmative action to get into bigger schools like Yale or Michigan.”
They’re quoting their teachers well, aren’t they?
Folks, I could use dozens of pages — or whatever we call the space on the Internet — but for now I’ll simply say: Though despair is a sin, I see no alternative!
The most fascinating detail of the case as it’s now unfolding: In the Court, Jesse Jackson and Maxine Waters sat together. And Ward Connerly and Abigail Thernstrom sat together. I know that I, like the president, am sometimes accused of being too absolutist, of seeing things in terms of good and evil, but . . . wouldn’t you give me this one?
A little mail. The first letter is on a long-running theme of this column:
“Jay, why is it that the mainstream press utterly refuses to understand or communicate that the First Amendment right to free speech is a right that protects individuals from government oppression of speech, but is utterly indifferent to the economic consequences and negative publicity that may result from what people say? I get sick of listening to one celebrity after another moan and whine about how unfair it is that they have to take abuse for their political beliefs, as if the First Amendment should shield them from public criticism (and lower CD sales). I myself can’t dodge accountability for the dumb things I say and do. Why should Natalie Maines?”
Tell it to Al Gore, baby.
“Jay, I heard this story from a friend, and I had to pass it on. My friend was standing in line at his local supermarket behind an elderly woman and two 20-something women. The young women were looking at the tabloid headlines about the war and making various dumb remarks about how ‘we shouldn’t be there’ and ‘what is so bad about Saddam?’ At this last, the elderly woman turned around and looked one of the younger women in the face and said, ‘He is a tyrant and I hope we kill him.’ The women turned to my friend for support and he said, ‘Don’t look at me. I want him dead too’!”
“Dear Mr. Nordlinger: In my three-year-old daughter’s music class, the teacher sings, ‘Someone is hiding, hiding, hiding, hiding. Someone is hiding, where can they be?’ This grammatical incorrectness comes from political correctness: We can’t say, ‘Someone is hiding, where can he be?’ Also, I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says, ‘If you can read this, thank a teacher. And give them a raise!’ Ugh. (Also politically incorrect, since it defames Native Americans!)”