The Latest Tweets from Team NRO . . .
One thing Colin Powell said yesterday, when listing the Iraqi WMDs, might have escaped your notice, but I can’t help thinking about it this morning. He spoke of what we know about Iraqi UAV’s, small robot drone aircraft. Powell says we know Iraq has tested models that have a range of 500 km (roughly 300 miles). The secretary also said they can be modified to carry biological or chemical agents, and would be devastating to the United States and other countries far away from Iraq if they were transported.
Think about that: the Iraqis could quietly park boats big enough to launch these small planes from in international waters anywhere off the U.S. coast, and launch a swarm of these things against our cities. Little robot planes, on kamikaze missions to spray botulinum over New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle… . We’d never see it coming.
I have to say the email from my
syndicated column on animal rights has elicited some fascinating email. Some are fascinating for their thoughtfulness, some for their asininity. The column is basically a teaser for my NRODT piece about going vegan which, if you stopped eating lead paint chips and subscribed to NR, you should have read by now. I didn’t have room in my mag piece to get into my thoughts on Matthew Scully’s Dominion so I went into it a bit in the syndicated column. Basically I found Scully’s book to be outstanding though not fully persuasive. He certainly managed to change the terms of the debate on the right — by jettisoning the buffoonish arguments over “animal rights” and making the issue about human compassion.
Anyway, what’s interesting about the email is that it confirms a point I made in both the column and the magazine article, one which highlights a problem with Scully’s analysis. Meat-eaters take food just as seriously as vegans, it’s just that they imbue their food with different meaning.
All of your points are well-taken. I have only one objection. Never, ever, ever take Mary McGrory seriously. It can cause dizziness, nausea and blurred vision. Still, if I were a smart Iraqi intelligence guy, I would take her column seriously for one reason. She is a canary in the coal of mine of liberal obstructionism. When McGrory — for all of the shabby bad faith reasons you list — gets on the war bandwagon, it’s time to get your family out of Baghdad and into a Paris hotel as quickly as possible.
Breaux On Board
The Washington Times reports Senator Breaux will support the nomination of Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. For a complete round-up of the Senate debate, see here.
Derb: I basically agree with everything you say, and meant in my post merely to highlight (the perhaps obvious) point that people die when they do daring things–even when the things are as seemingly mundane as sailing on a ship or going into space. I’m not a huge fan of the shuttle, which has not delivered anything close to what was promised. Most of its science can be conducted without people leaving the atmosphere. As far as I can tell, the only scientific reason for putting people in space is to see what effect space has on them. There may be other reasons for launching people, but they are mainly romantic or nationalistic ones. I suppose I’d like to see the remaining shuttles used a few more times, just as I’d like to see something interesting and bold built at the WTC site. Beyond that, we must reassess our national mission in space. A good way to start, I believe, is to go nuclear.
So, What About Those Chickenhawks?
So Mary McGrory’s belated conversion essentially confirms everything we’ve thought about the roots of the anti-war position. Liberals have persistently ignored the truths about Iraq spoken by the president and by the hawks–out hatred for conservatives, and out of reflexive Vietnam based pacifism. I’m glad McGrory has changed her mind, but the truth about Iraq has been evident for many months. If she wanted to hear it from a Democrat, there was always Kenneth Pollack. Some time ago, I said that the chickenhawk argument was really the Left’s way of fighting off shame for its own appeasement and cowardice. I think that’s why McGrory has to accompany her own change of mind with a long assault on the so-called chickenhawks.
I was struck by Mary McGrory’s Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post, where she essentially changes her mind about Iraq. I suppose I shouldn’t be churlish about someone who has the guts to reverse course in public. Still, McGrory’s piece really is a perfect example of what’s behind the anti-war sensibility. McGrory spends most of her time decrying the administration’s supposed chickenhawks. She says that Vietnam almost turned her into a pacifist. She also has a very distorted account of why Powell was upset by France’s treachery. In the end, though, McGrory acknowledges the truth of what Powell was saying, and emphasizes that she only believes it because it was Powell who said it.
Erin O’Connor has a post up about my affirmative action piece at Critical Mass. As I’ve said before, for anyone with an interest in the problems of the politically correct academy, bookmarking Critical Mass is a must. I go there all the time. Don’t know what I’d do without it.
Blogger Tom Sylvester reports on a new study that shows married fathers give better care to children than unmarried fathers. This is true, even when the married father is caring for stepchildren and even when the unmarried live in is the biological father of his girlfriend’s children. How sad that our situation now calls for such a study.
Charles K. & Me
While we’re at it, Rosenberg has a post comparing what you might call dueling articles on the Supreme Court affirmative action case by myself and Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer takes a much softer line than I would have expected. I honestly believe that if he’d taken in my argument, he might have thought twice about his own.
Over at Discriminations John Rosenberg makes some very astute comments on Stanley Fish’s apparent transformation into a conservative pundit. Fish recently put out a piece on the need to keep politics out of university administration. What Fish said was fine. The problem is, Fish’s new line totally contradicts his usual attacks on liberal principles, which for years have featured his claim that everything is, and should be, political. Rosenberg exposes Fish’s deliberately unprincipled stance.
So far as I can tell, there are three reasons given for France’s opposition to our Iraq policy: its financial interests in Iraq, its long-standing desire to express its independence from the United States, and the presence of Muslim immigrants in France. The last reason gets the least emphasis, but I suspect it’s the most important. This breach between France and the United States is very serious, with great consequences within Europe and beyond. I don’t believe that France is doing this simply to make a show independence, or even for money. The Muslim presence in France right now is massive. It is a real worry for the French. There is a lot of politically inspired agitation–some of it violent–going on among the Muslim population. The social fabric is clearly threatened, and even token French participation in an invasion could set off an explosion. That may be the frightening truth behind all this. For more on France’s Muslims, have a look at Christopher Caldwell’s important piece.
One Thing I Wished Powell Had Said
This is probably a bad idea, but wouldn’t it have been nice if Powell had said something in his prepared remarks about how the other memebers of the Security Council have “prepared responses.” I mean the French and the Chinese chimed in without making any reference to the substance of Powell’s comments. If he’d said something like “I know my colleagues here cannot respond intelligently about the evidence I’ve provided here without consulting their governments…” it would have made their “responses” look absurd.
I know it could have backfired by forcing those governments to lock into the positions articulated in those “responses” but it would have been fun nonetheless.
Risk of Exploring
J.J.: There is something bogus about comparing the shuttle program with the
Age of Exploration. Magellan & Co were opening up vast new continents, full
of treasure and available for immediate colonization by millions of
distressed aristocrats & hungry peasants. The shuttle program is about
studying the effects of weightlessness on yeast cells. There are no
continents full of treasure waiting to be populated in space, not until the
human race has evolved (or engineered itself) into something quite different
from what it currently is. Mars is the most hospitable of the planets: yet
it is less hospitable than Antarctica by a factor of thousands, and harder
to get to by a factor of millions. Possibly the human race, or something
descended from it, will populate Mars in the future. Certainly (in my
opinion) some modest govt-funded steps toward that very distant goal would
please the American people, and suit our romantic character. I favor such
steps, and have written to that effect on NRO. But the shuttle program is
nothing but outdoor relief for Boeing Corp., Lockheed-Martin, and a mighty
host of federal bureaucrats and engineers. It should be scrapped. We
should sit down calmly, and think carefully, from a zero base, about what we
want from manned space travel, and the best way to attain it. Commercial
interests in space should be left to take care of themselves: if there is
money to be made in space, govt’s principal duty is to get out of the way.
Military interests ought to be govt’s main concern–you yourself have
written brilliantly about this in NRODT. We must do more to augment and
protect our military assets in space. (And yes, there is some overlap with
the commercial there–e.g. GPS.) There is still plenty of high-value-added
pure science to be done (google on “pluto-kuiper”), and it is proper for
govt to help fund this; practically none of it, however, requires human
beings in space. There is a small diplomatic component to space
exploration. Then there is the romantic angle–inching towards the day when
our descendants will be true space-farers. We need to take in all these
considerations, decide what weight to give each one and what total public
resources we are willing to commit, and budget accordingly. The result
would look nothing like the present mess, in which the ludicrous and
unproductive shuttle program sucks in all available funds. I hope I need
not add that I intend no disrespect to our brave astronauts. For what it’s
worth: if I were offered a seat on the next shuttle flight, I would sign up
at once… but that’s personal. This is an issue for the nation.
Risk of Exploring
I’ve been wondering recently about how the risks of space travel compare with the risks sailors took during the Age of Exploration. I haven’t tracked down anything statistically conclusive, but my friend Arthur Herman, who is a historian and an NR contributor, brings to mind two examples. Magellan left Seville to sail around the world in 1519; three years later, one of the ships made it, minus Magellan himself. Francis Drake had the same problem later; five ships joined him in trying to circumnavigate the globe, and one returned (two were lost, one was scuttled, and one turned back). There’s an old English saying: “He would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for pasttime.” Maybe we should make that a modern American saying, applied to space.
New Europe Update
Here’s more on the latest ten European countries, this time all from the former Communist bloc, to distance themselves from France and Germany. As they explain:
“Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values.”
How strange that Germany, in particular, should appear to have forgotten that lesson.
Want to know why the International Criminal ‘Court’ is such a bad idea? Well, for reasons like this.
And this, by the way, is how the court’s ‘judges’ are being selected. Connoisseurs of such matters will note that this whole process has, apparently, been heavily influenced by ‘non-governmental organizations’.
Who elected them?
Political Tv Classics
Nick@Nite is on a is on a TV nearby and John Kerry just made a cameo appearance on Cheers. Cliff and Norm didn’t know who he was.