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Terror At Sea


Mansoor Ijaz in the Financial Times today (subscription only):

According to United Nations estimates, up to 80 per cent of the
approximately 6bn metric tons of cargo traded each year is moved by ship. Of
that, almost 75 per cent passes at some point through one of the five main
choke points in the seafaring economy – the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal,
the Straits of Gibraltar, the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits of Malacca.

A terrorist attack against one or more of these transit areas that
disabled it for weeks or months – or, in the case of a radiological “dirty
bomb” attack, for far longer – could seriously disrupt global trade. The
current economic calculus of moving cargo by sea would be rendered useless.
Everything from energy prices to insurance rates to shipping freight costs
would be affected. The ripple effects, particularly for industrialised
nations, are incalculable.

This is what al-Qaeda, with its revamped leadership structure, is
counting on. While the US Homeland Security Department argues about how many
screening machines to install at airports, terrorists are planning how to
convert supertankers carrying liquefied petroleum gas or other chemicals
into floating bombs – or perhaps even dirty bombs with help from a rogue
nation with nuclear knowhow.

Data compiled by Aegis Defence Services, a UK security consultancy,
provide worrying evidence of this. In March, for example, pirates boarded a
chemical tanker, the Dewi Madrim near Sabah in the south Pacific for several
hours. Their intention was not to ransom the crew or offload its cargo, as
south-east Asia’s pirates usually do, but simply to learn how to steer it at
varying speeds. And in the past few months, 10 tugboats have been reported
missing, each of which could be used for close-in manoeuvring of a disabled
tanker, hijacked just before entering a big port (at Singapore, say), and
just before being set ablaze.

Other dangers to maritime interests are also becoming apparent. In June,
for example, a offshore maintenance engineer with deep-sea diving skills,
who had been kidnapped in 2000, was released by Abu Sayyaf. He reported that
his captors had wanted to learn how to dive, but were not interested in
learning how to resurface.

Boxcutter Kid & Legacy


Another e-mailer; I bet this guy can shill for Legacy in his sleep!:

I certainly don’t think that The Boxcutter Kid is a hero. I don’t think
it’s good policy to allow Al Qaeda and others to bring unauthorized items
onto airplanes — so long as they have a note with their smuggled weaponry
claiming that it’s for a good cause. If this Boxcutter Kid really wants to
do something that will advance the safety and security of America, he should
buy a copy of Legacy.


Re: Strauss


Jonah, I agree with you that Shadia Drury’s take on Strauss is ludicrously jaundiced. She dismisses the idea that Strauss could have been a defender of liberal democracy as a lie somehow proven by the fact that Strauss was an admirer of Plato and Nietzsche. That is ridiculous. Strauss and his followers have an essentially Tocquevillian view of democracy, which they see as admirable, yet nonetheless subject to weaknesses that need to be counteracted by drawing on elements of non-democratic traditions. Allan Bloom said he’d drawn the basic framework of The Closing of the American Mind from Tocqueville, and Harvey Mansfield is a translator of, and profound commentator upon, Tocqueville. Although a great defender of liberal democracy, Tocqueville was a product and admirer of Europe’s aristocratic tradition. It’s easy to imagine a Drury-like attack on Tocqueville. How could a defender of liberal democracy be an admirer of Europe’s aristocracy and a critic of the French Revolution? Tocqueville’s pose as a democrat is merely a lie disguising his true aristocratic sympathies. Etc. In fact, some people do feel this way about Tocqueville. They can’t see that democracy does in fact have weaknesses and does in fact have something to learn from non-democratic ways of life. But Tocqueville and Strauss are right. For a concise statement of the Strassian view of democracy, see this piece by Peter Berkowitz.

Web Briefing: November 26, 2014

Yale Vs. The Military


Here’s an important piece about the ongoing efforts of law schools–Yale Law School in particular–to ban military recruiters. Law schools were only recently forced to admit military recruiters when the Pentagon decided to enforce the Solomon Amendment, which would take federal aid away from universities that ban the military. Now some law professors have filed a suit seeking to have the Solomon Amendment overturned on the claim that it interferes with free speech. This article explains the law suit’s weakness. What is truly disturbing here, however, is the news that virtually every student at Yale Law School has signed a pledge not to meet with military recruiters. Particularly in a post-9/11 age, that makes a shameful statement about the ongoing hostility to the military on our college campuses. It also says something about the biases of our elite. The students at Yale Law School are soon going to be running the country. What does it say that they nearly unanimously shun our military, and seek to ban it from their campus? Although it’s been going on for decades, I’m still amazed that the banning of the military from our campuses has taken on an air of normalcy.


Liberals! Liberals! Liberals!


Liberals are my life. At least, they used to be. Back when I was in academia, I lived and breathed liberals. I’ve been traveling lately in the land of the liberals, many of whom I know and love. I was struck by the paranoia and anger. The best seller list really is indicative of the trend of the culture. There is a deep belief out there, shared by well educated professionals, that there is a lying right wing conspiracy ready to take over the world–that FOX News and conservative think tanks somehow overbalance the entire mainstream media, Hollywood, and all of academia. After 9/11, there were all sorts of wild conspiracy theories floating around on the fringes. To accept the reality of 9/11 was to give up the post-sixties cultural stance, and that was intolerable. Now the aftermath of Iraq seems to have spread an only slightly more mild form of paranoia among much of the liberal mainstream. The liberal mood today seems to be tinged as much with fear (at the prospect that Bush will win despite his troubles) as with a kind of bloodlust of vindication and revenge. This election is shaping up as an epic cultural moment. I remember when liberals used to cluck at the McLaughlin group for being such an open political food-fight. Liberals preferred the comparative calm of Washington Week in Review, where everyone was decorous (because everyone was a like-minded liberal.) Now the whole country seems to have been drawn into a sort of gigantic version of the McLaughlin Group–but a good deal more bitter than the original. The funny thing is, conservatives have been slammed by a Supreme Court that they by rights ought to have controlled. Yet I don’t think we feel quite as panicked by that as we ought to. We’re used to losing our cultural battles. Liberals, on the other hand, are used to winning their cultural battles. They understand that this whole 9/11-Iraq business puts something fundamental about who they are into doubt. Liberals see the coming election as a chance to get their status back, yet they’re terrified by the thought that Bush might be vindicated anyway. If the Democrats offer up Dean and he loses, it would be very bad for the left. Back when president Bush was the presumptive winner, there was very much less at stake. So as I say, it looks to be an epochal battle, tinged with paranoia and rage, but shadowed by fear.

More On Fascism


Anyone who enjoyed Michael Ledeen’s NRO article on Friday on href=””>Fasci
sm is Back-Big Time, should really enjoy this fascinating article on
The Mystery of
by David Ramsay Steele. Steele writes with nuance about the
largely forgotten story of how socialist militants became ardent
fascists and how closely related the two violently rival ideologies
remained. As he puts it at the end of his introduction:

Given what most people today think they know about Fascism,
this bare recital of facts is a mystery story. How can a movement which
epitomizes the extreme right be so strongly rooted in the extreme left?
What was going on in the minds of dedicated socialist militants to turn
them into equally dedicated Fascist militants?

Strange Bedfellows


Grover Norquist and David Keene joined Alec Baldwin and Ralph Neas over the weekend. Byron York reports about it here.

Other Action Item


The original action item: Have you subscribed to NRODT or NR Digital yet?

Re: P.S.


Alas, no. IMAGINE how much I would plug LEGACY if I did!

A Role Model


I was determined never again to buy another book that even mentioned Bill Clinton. I, for one, just wanted to forget them both. But as a fan of NRO I finally broke down yesterday, largely at your urging, and bought Mr. Lowry’s book. I’m glad I did. I suppose I expected a lot of [bomb-throwing], but what I got was an important, balanced and thoughtful critique. I would encourage others who, like myself, held off buying Legacy as a reaction to Clinton fatigue to change their minds; buy this book.

p.s. do you get a sales commission?

Boxcutter Kid: American Hero?


An emailer:

While it is kind of disturbing, it is also very cool. Obviously a
civilian cares enough to point out flaws in our system. He should
realise, of course, that what he did could easily cause hysteria. His
inclusion of notes definitely clarifies his intent.

This reminds me of what happens with Linux and the open source Operating
Systems. People will hack into other people’s systems, but not
maliciously. Instead, their intent is to point out the reality of a
security flaw that they found. They then post or publish a report of
what happened, including why they believe it works (or just what causes it.)

While this is kind of annoying, being hacked into, it is also very
positive; people get a sense that they are not un-hackable, and not only
that, they also are aided in improving their security.

They say eternal vigilance is the cost of freedom. And apparently,
Americans want us to remain vigilant. Maybe next time he could suggest
what can be done to stop this kind of intrusion.

Pacifica’s Plo-Pal Pledge Drive


WPFW this morning was trying to collect $150 pledges this morning by offering a “gold pack” of six CDs of Edward Said speeches. For $250, you could also acquire a copy of “Culture and Resistance,” a collection of David Barsamian radio interviews with Said. Amy Goodman told listeners Said offered a “compelling vision of a secular, democratic Middle East.”

The Medicare Blimp


A couple readers who watched the Jet game this weekend noticed it in the background. Apparently the US Government has enough money to have a blimp dedicated to medicare. They should fly it over Cato and see if it gets shot down.

Clark & Lieberman


I think they’re decision to bypass the Iowa, caucus is a smart one. If you’ve ever watched C-Span in Iowa you learn very quickly that Iowa Dems are waaayyy to the left of the country and even the Democratic Party. That recent poll showing that most Dems want a candidate who favored the war only underscores that sucking up to Iowa Dems is pointless unless you think you can win or maybe come in second. For the rest of the pack, ignoring the caucus rather than getting torunced in it makes a lot more sense. Indeed, I think Clark has already blown it. By overcompensating to prove he’s a Democrat he’s made himself look like Howard Dean in a better uniform. That wouldn’t help him in the general election — assuming he got the nomination and it probably will hurt him in the South and the West when more “normal” Democrats get to vote. The same goes for Lieberman, though I think he has no chance regardless. Not because he’s Jewish (though I think that helps less than many think) but because he’s boring. He talks boring. Half his jokes are funny, the other half are groaners but his delivery is always dull, dull, dull. People want to like the President of the United States. And while I think Lieberman is a likable guy, he gives off a vibe that we’d all get really tired of him really quickly if we had to listen to him in large doses.

Re: Strauss? Skeptical?


Actually, a friend of mine used the handshake on me once and he simply burst into flames when I didn’t give the right response. I’ve always felt bad for that.

No, I guess my skepticism is based in part because I’m less and less convinced that Straussianism is really an “ism.” But I’m not sure that’s what I mean so I want to think about it a bit more.

Why We Went to War


My return to G-Filing about the war, if anyone cares. And on a Monday morning no less.

Where’s The Outrage? Heck, Where’s The Concern?


So the President of Bolivia is clearly hounded out of office by the mob. Maybe he got what he deserved, maybe he didn’t. I’m learning about that now. But, um, where’s all the handwringing about democracy? When Hugo Chavez, the thug-in-chief in Venezuela, was ousted in a fairly popular coup earlier this year panties were bunched across the sunny uplands of American liberalism. What a terrible precedent! Whither democracy?!? When the Algierian military stifled an attempt by fundamentalists to impose sharia through a one-time election, the New York Times collapsed on its fainting couch. Well, isn’t anyone concerned that a bunch of hardboiled leftists and militant indians can hound an elected leader from office simply because he tried to impose order? Is there absolutely nothing troubling about this? I’ve listened to three reports on NPR and read several newspaper accounts and nobody seems to think there’s a double standard here. What am I missing?

Strauss? Skeptical?



Your problem with Strauss is that you don’t know the secret handshake. I could show you (secretly, of coruse), but then I’d have to kill you.



I was too lazy to do the legwork before I started complaining about D.C., of course. A reader re the monument:

I agree that those walls are hideous looking, but I think they are only indirectly linked to security. I believe they are going to construct an underground visitor’s center and entrance to the monument. Those walls are to “hide” the construction.

Leo Strauss


Personally, I find myself growing more and more skeptical about Strauss. However, I grow ever more confident that Shadia Drury is nothing more than a cheap academic defamer — at best. In this interview — sadly linked on ALD — something called runs an uncritical game of patty-cake with Drury, Strauss’ premier leftwing enemy. For a sober appraisal of Strauss, see the long and fittingly dry — but nonetheless thorough and insightful — essay in the Public Interest which Stan posted here before.


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