Politics & Policy


What an axis! The soi-disant "liberal hawk." The studly Ramon — and more

As has long been proven, I love Rummy as much as anybody — even as much as Mrs. Rumsfeld — and my anti-German credentials are equally well established. But . . . even I think he went too far in grouping Germany with Cuba and Libya, as nations unalterably opposed to U.S. policy.

But, oh, what a thrilling moment! Every time you forget that Rumsfeld is the MVP of this administration, he reminds you.

But, of course, the world — at least the world’s elites — greatly prefer Colin Powell. That’s why it was important that the secretary of state gave that U.N. presentation. The shallow among us didn’t really care what he said; they cared that it was Powell saying it. It was the “messenger” — many of them said explicitly — as much as the “message.”

If you actually felt this way, wouldn’t you still be a little embarrassed to admit it?

Mary McGrory, the liberal columnist writing in a much-noticed column in the Washington Post, said that Powell had spoken in a “strong and unwavering” voice. Really? Tough sh**. What if he had provided garbage in a strong and unwavering voice? What if he had provided irrefutable evidence in a weak and wavering voice? This is not the Old Vic: This is world politics, war and peace, life and death, truth and falsity.

Liberals are way too unserious for war — even too unserious for discussion about it.

Thank heavens Colin Powell is black. Photographs and intercepts just don’t mean as much coming from a “conservative white male.”

Bill Keller — who was in the running to become the New York Times’s chief editor but who had to settle for being an op-ed columnist — published a piece called “The I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club.” In it, he basically dumped all over the people who were right about the need for war against Saddam before he and his friends were.

One of his statements was, “Many of [the] wary warmongers are baby-boom liberals whose aversion to the deployment of American power was formed by Vietnam but who had a kind of epiphany along the way — for most of us, in the vicinity of Bosnia.”

In this sentence, Keller apparently meant that certain liberals were moved by the plight of innocents in the Balkans — people who were being slaughtered. (Ed Luttwak once published an essay called “If Bosnians Were Dolphins.”) This is the “humanitarian” argument, or motivation. Funny, then, Keller’s casual dismissal of Vietnam. Were the Vietnamese not worth saving from torture, imprisonment, “reeducation,” totalitarianism, and murder? If you prick a Vietnamese, will he not bleed? Is Bosnian life worth more than Vietnamese life?

I’ll never forget the words of Gen. Vernon Walters: “For over ten years, bombs rained down on every village and hamlet in South Vietnam, and no one budged. It took the coming of a Communist ‘peace’ to send hundreds of thousands of people out into the South China Sea, on anything that could float, or might float, to risk dehydration, piracy, and drowning.”

Bill Keller further said that the “liberal hawks” — the “reluctant warriors” — “worry about all the things that could go wrong.” Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Keller: Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of the boys at the Pentagon worry far more than you about things that could go wrong, and have spent the last many months — even years — doing so.

It’s one thing for your erstwhile opponents to come to agree with you; but they always have to do it with such condescension, petulance, and stupidity.

John McCain was right to blast the Germans and the French, but he perhaps did so in the wrong way. He accused them of “calculated self-interest.” There’s nothing wrong with calculated self-interest in a nation’s foreign policy; in fact, it’s demanded. We should chide the Germans and French for refusing to see that the defeat of Islamofascism and its state supporters is in the interest of all of us.

McCain also knocked the Axis of Two — Paris and Berlin — for “vacuous posturing.”

Whoa! What’s their position on campaign-finance reform again?

It is frequently noted that Tony Blair is sticking his neck out in order to take the principled position in the Iraq debate, and in this war. It is never noted that John Howard in Australia is doing the same — he has just suffered a no-confidence vote in parliament. And yet he remains stalwart.

I say once more: Hats off to John Howard.

David Twersky had a fascinating and useful column in the New York Sun, detailing the relationship between Jacques Chirac and Iraq, especially as it concerned a nuclear capacity.

He writes, “As prime minister in 1975, Mr. Chirac helped promote the $260 million Franco-Iraqi nuclear deal that resulted in the building of a reactor at Osirak[, which] was destroyed on June 8, 1981, by Israeli bombers . . .” Chirac was so closely associated with the nuclear reactor that Israelis dubbed the site “O-Chirac.”

As you undoubtedly know by now, the Israeli astronaut who was killed on the Columbia — Ilan Ramon — was one of the pilots who daringly and bravely took out the Osirak reactor. At his funeral, President Bush reportedly told his children, “I’m going to finish the job your dad started.”

That is especially interesting in light of the fact that the U.S. government joined the rest of the world in condemning the Israeli raid — a raid that almost certainly saved the lives of many.

Would you like to know what Middle Eastern Studies is like at Columbia University? I didn’t think so, but get a load of this anyway. Also in the New York Sun, Martin Kramer — editor of The Middle East Quarterly — had a piece detailing the work of Columbia prof Joseph Massad. The good professor has written, inter alia, that Israel is “a racist Jewish state” and the “offspring” of “the foundational racism of Zionism.” That the “European Jew is a colonizer who has used racist colonial violence for the last century against the Palestinian people.” That “Zionist Jewish colonialism” was a “commitment to European white supremacy in Jewish guise.” That there has been an “ideological and practical collusion between Zionism and anti-Semitism since the inception of the movement.” And even that Zionism itself included an “anti-Semitic project of destroying Jewish cultures and languages in the diaspora.”

This is par for the course, folks. They were saying all this when I was in a Middle Eastern Studies program myself. Tuition has gotten higher — and the hate and perversion are just as thick.

Continuing on my Sun theme: Did you know that the Gore campaign created a traffic jam to keep Bill Bradley voters from reaching the polls in New Hampshire — and then, some months later, accused the Republicans (falsely) of setting up roadblocks to keep blacks from the polls in Florida? The Sun has the goods in an eye-opening editorial, here. (The other pieces aren’t available online, sadly.)

One more Sun column, folks — this one by Ronald Radosh, the historian of Communism, and anti-Communism. In this piece — also unavailable — he recounted the history of gullible or malevolent Westerners’ going to kiss the rings of despots. The occasion for the piece was Tony Benn (who “interviewed” Saddam): but the rot goes much deeper than that.

Radosh recalled for us the Dean of Canterbury, Hewlett Johnson, who, on visiting Stalin in 1942, reported that “there was nothing cruel or dramatic” about the dictator; ol’ Joe simply wanted “a square deal for the masses.”

And, in 1941, our Charles Lindbergh alleged that the anti-Hitler drive for war sprang from “the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt administration.”

These days, one can hear much the same cry: only replace “Roosevelt” with “Bush.”

You were perhaps as stirred as I was to read the statement of the Vilnius Group, which comprises Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Macedonia, and Albania. (For my report from this last country, please see my “European Communities,” published in NR in October. For a rather crude but touching and gratifying type-up, go here.)

In its statement, the Vilnius Group said,

Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend our shared values. The trans-Atlantic community must stand together to face the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and dictators with weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, they understand, better than “old Europe” — as many of us have been pressing for a good long time now.

This next is a language item, creepy as it is. Listen to the reporting of the New York Post’s Debbie Orin:

Iraqi exile Khidhir Hamza, who once headed Saddam’s nuclear program, said the six Iraqi voices heard on the intelligence intercepts all spoke Arabic with the distinct accent of Tikrit — Saddam’s home region.

“They may not be from Tikrit — because of Saddam, it’s become the high-class accent. Everybody is emulating that accent because it implies power.”

This is absolutely fascinating, on many different levels.

Has anyone else noticed that the “Public Lives” column in the New York Times is almost exclusively reserved for far-leftists and leftist-activist types? They should retitle the feature “Leftie of the Week” or something. It’s gotten kind of ridiculous.

By the way, everything Andrew Sullivan says about Howell Raines’s Times is true. No exaggeration. You have to follow it fairly closely to believe it.

How much do I love the New York Post, the world’s most entertaining tabloid? Let me count a couple of ways. First, there was Jared Paul Stern’s — the Nightcrawler’s — write-up of the Lane Bryant fashion show staged at the Manhattan Center. He said, “Most of the men watching were not slobbering over the corpulent cuties. They looked like they’d rather be wearing the lingerie themselves.” Later he referred to the models as “the lardy lovelies.” But then, when it was charged that the models were too thin to be true Lane Bryant models, he called them “faux fatties.”

Ah, only in the Post.

Also, David Seifman had a column entitled “Taking a Stand on ‘Slip & Fall’ Suits.” It seems that Mayor Bloomberg is cracking down on frivolous lawsuits filed against the city. This is another respect in which his election was a boon, his faults and mistakes aside.

The great Metropolitan Opera basso Jerome Hines is dead. Jerry was, among other things, a fired-up evangelical Christian. Readers of NR may recall an unusual story I did last summer about a Christian music camp out in Indiana (“‘Soli Deo Gloria’: Not your average music camp”). I heard a typical story about Jerry while I was there.

He had been engaged by the San Francisco Opera, and the director wanted to do some fairly wacky things involving nudity. Jerry thought about this and decided he didn’t want to participate in it. So, at one rehearsal, he said calmly to everybody — not in a preachy way — “Look, folks, I just feel that I don’t want to participate in this. I just don’t feel right about it. No hard feelings — I’m not trying to dictate to anybody. I just need you to carry on without me. My understudy will handle my role.”

And, one by one, the other singers agreed with Hines — said that they, too, were uncomfortable with it. (But it had taken Jerry to speak up.) The director actually relented.

Jerome Hines was quite a soul, in addition to a hell of a singer.


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