National Security & Defense

The struggle, &c.

So, “a United Airlines jet returned to a Washington airport Monday night after passengers pounced on a man who rushed toward the cockpit yelling ‘Jihad! Jihad!’ officials and witnesses said.” (The rest of the story is here.)

Look, we all know that “jihad” refers simply to an internal spiritual struggle, which we all must undertake. I condemn Islamophobia, exemplified by those paranoid and hateful passengers.

May I have the Nobel Peace Prize, please?

‐I was startled to see this: “Venezuela has placed a full page ad in the New York Times to reject what it says are ‘tyrannical’ attempts by the U.S. to undermine its socialist system.” (Rest of the story here.)

I think governments and individuals alike can leave it to New York Times editorialists to reject attempts to undermine socialism. Why spring for those expensive ads, especially when oil revenue is down?

‐“Harvard’s president speaks in China about climate change.” Uh huh, that makes sense. (For the article, go here.)

I’m reminded of the new secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in February 2009. On a trip to Asia, she said that the Obama administration would not let human rights “interfere” with such urgent issues as “the global climate-change crisis.”

The Left is amazingly consistent. If only we could get them to consider, say, the Castro brothers a threat to the climate, and not just human beings under their control.

In any event, I have the impression that the Harvard president, Drew Faust, is more attuned to human rights than the Wellesley grad.

‐Here is another headline: “Iranians express optimism over nuclear agreement.” (Article here.) Yes, I would be pretty optimistic if I were an Iranian theocrat these days . . .

‐Lately, I’ve been writing about something that more than a few people wish for: a U.S. attack on Israelis, if they try to move against the Iranian nuclear program. Several years ago, Zbigniew Brzezinski referred to this as “a Liberty in reverse.”

A reader sent me an article from the Huffington Post and asked, “Can this professor be serious?” Oh, I’m sure he is. The professor writes,

There also is the possibility of Israeli attack aircraft being shot out of the sky by the United States as they overfly Iraq or even approach Iran from a circuitous route via Saudi Arabia. It strikes me that a compelling case can be made for the United States to do just that.

I have a question: What would it take to get the American Left to support U.S. military action? And I have the answer: A war or skirmish with Israel!

‐You may have heard about Supreme Leader Khamenei’s man in the Quds Force, a unit of the Revolutionary Guards. No? Go here. Actually, they’re all his men, but Ali Shirazi is a special representative.

Shirazi said, “Today, in every country we look at worldwide, we see that the love of martyrdom is spreading like wildfire every day.” He also said, “We will not rest until we have raised the banner of Islam over the White House.”

Just for the record, I think anyone who suggests that the Iranian regime has unpeaceful intentions toward us is a warmongering Jew who wants to get America to fight for Israel.

‐I’m not sure that I had ever seen the word “exclave”: “a portion of a country geographically separated from the main part by surrounding alien territory.” For example, West Berlin was an exclave.

Listen to this: “Russia plans to station state-of-the art missiles in its westernmost Baltic exclave and deploy nuclear-capable bombers to Crimea as part of massive war games to showcase its resurgent military power . . .” (The rest of the article is here.)

My worry is, if Russia aggressed against a Baltic nation — a NATO member — neither we nor NATO at large would lift a finger. And the appetite for conquest would grow.

L’appétit vient en mangeant. (Appetite comes of eating.)

‐More cheery news: Assad is gassing people to death, and don’t nobody care. At least, no one will stop him.

‐More cheery news: “UN moves closer to pulling peacekeepers from troubled Darfur.” (Article here.) Mass rape and mass murder continue. No one will lift a finger. Our secretary of state, John Kerry, was recently in a group photo with the Sudanese butcher, Bashir. I don’t believe I can add anything to a piece I wrote way back in 2005. That piece was called, untheatrically enough, “About Sudan.”

‐Oh, good, Kim Jong-un is going to make his first foreign visit: to Moscow. (Story here.) His dad, Kim Jong-il, didn’t travel much, but he traveled to Russia. He did so by train — because he feared to fly (as Bill Buckley would say).

Will Jong-un go by train? Or will he be winging it?

‐Say this for Sydney Leathers: She’s cuttin’ a swath through Democratic legislators. First, Anthony Weiner. Then, a smaller fish, in Indiana. (Here.) She has not yet landed a U.S. senator. Harry Reid? Schu?

‐By the way, I saw Eliot Spitzer on the street yesterday (really). He looked good: spring in his step, smile on his face. Almost a grin.

‐Let me toss some music at you — these are reviews from The New Criterion. For a review of The Tales of Hoffmann, at the Metropolitan Opera, go here. For a review of Manon, also at the Met, go here. For a review of the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, with Yuja Wang, piano soloist, go here.

I want to share an e-mail with you, but first I must quote from the first review I linked to above:

[James Levine] conducted Hoffmann with the same intensity and grandeur he would accord Beethoven’s Fidelio or Wagner’s Ring. Apparently, no one has told him that Offenbach’s opera is a romantic French nothing. Levine was vital from first note to last, bringing out the work’s full character.

Honestly, he made the thing seem like a masterpiece. It probably is.

A critic friend in Switzerland wrote me, “Of all my Levine experiences, the one that stands out is Hoffmann in Salzburg in 1985.”

‐Let’s end with a little architecture. I saw an article in the Telegraph about “one of Britain’s ugliest buildings.” It was blown up — officially, mercifully. As a public service.

A bus station nicknamed “the mouth of hell” has been demolished.

The unloved Greyfriars bus station in Northampton, an example of 1970s brutalist architecture, collapsed in seconds, creating a huge cloud of dust.

By the way, there is a video accompanying the article, showing the blowing up of the building. Kind of neat (as such things are).

I just had to send the article, and the video, to Tony Daniels — the writer Anthony Daniels, also known as Theodore Dalrymple. I have often heard him discourse on the ugliness and brutality of modern architecture.

By e-mail, he wrote,

Thanks, but I can’t agree that [the bus station was] one of Britain’s ugliest buildings. As Doctor Johnson said, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.” There are thousands of such buildings, often deliberately placed to destroy the aesthetic fabric of towns. The architects have yet to admit their guilt.

Yes. And let me note this: When I saw the bus station (a picture of it), I thought, “It’s not that bad, especially for a building nicknamed ‘mouth of hell.’ I’ve seen much worse.”

May your weekend have a minimum of ugliness and no brutality. See you later. Many thanks.


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