February 28, 2003


As war with Iraq draws closer, France has become ever more calcitrant on the issue. Predictions that, in the end, the French would sidle up to its two-time rescuer and send troops to help oust Saddam have faded in the face of French threats against pro-US states throughout Europe, its hardball tactics against British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and its fronting for Russian and Chinese interests at the expense of our own. Though the US is accused of unilateralism, it's been France that has fractured the EU, nearly broken NATO and rendered the UN all but irrelevant in its effort to save Saddam. Why?

I've maintained the French have a great deal to hide, that their past dealings with Iraq and Saddam determine today's hidebound effort to obstruct the US at all costs. Robert Kagan, author and expert on European affairs, suggests something far more sinister is at work:

Still, with the U.S. the lone superpower in the world, surely the French recognize how quickly we will crush Saddam. And, after doing so, don’t the French see that our hegemony over the Mideast, and even Europe, will be greatly enhanced?

But maybe the French don’t see it that way. Perhaps they think, or know, that something will go terribly wrong with American war plans.

Last night Robert Kagan, an expert on Europe and international matters, appeared on CNN.

Kagan told CNN’s Aaron Brown: “They [the French] also think - and I've heard French officials say this, and they're absolutely convinced - that the war is going to go badly. The aftermath of the war is going to go badly. Bad things are going to happen. The United States is going to look bad, and they're going to be vindicated in the eyes of the European public.”

At the end of the day, Kagan says, many leading French officials believe that France could emerge as the dominant power in Europe.

“They're playing for a strong position within Europe on the Iraq issue, but then to translate into other issues as well.”

Kagan noted that Chirac’s comments were not made from anger, but from strategic thinking.

What would convince France that the war won't go well for us, and what would keep them from shaing that knowledge with their ostensible allies?

For instance, do the French know that Saddam will use some horrific weapon against our troops? Are they aware that Saddam already pre-positioned weapons of mass destruction in U.S. cities?

Again, supposing Chirac and his friend Saddam had a little chat, and Saddam told Chirac that in the event of war he would be able to level an American city or two, what would then keep Chirac from telling us?

Perhaps Saddam's weapons are of French make? Imagine the reaction if Washington learned that France had supplied the weapon Iraq used to kill a million Americans. From my own work on the issue of who armed Saddam, this note:

According to Dr. (Khidir) Hamza (chief of Iraq's efforts to acquire nukes from 1969 to 1994), the French knew all along that Iraq's nuclear program, ostensibly purely peaceful in intent, was in fact a weapons effort. In fact, Dr. Hamza also alleges that France’s continued presence at Osirak was meant to deter the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body that oversees compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which Iraq had signed in 1969, from discovering the plant’s true purpose. France was, as I've noted before, one of three "friendly states," and along with Germany and Russia supplied the bulk of Iraqi armaments and assistance.

Within that paragraph was a link to this story. This is Dr. Hamza's own account:

"I went to France in 1974 to buy a reactor, as a starting point, for a plutonium bomb," Hamza told the Carneigie Endowment in November 2000. "It was a long-range project. The reactor would be inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the French would be there."

And even after Osirak was taken out, French assistance was critical to Baghdad's continuing plan to get nuclear weapons.

"Just before the Gulf War, the crash program was ongoing to make one bomb from the French fuel," Hamza told the Carniegie group.

"People were putting stock into that one bomb," he said. "They were afraid of even testing the bomb, because Iraq testing that one bomb would be like telling the world that we used the French fuel."

French reactor, French fuel, America loses one city. Perhaps. That would be worth hiding. Or perhaps Saddam has pre-positioned something in France, and is using that to blackmail Chirac into supporting Iraq's views on the UNSC. Perhaps Chirac wants us to take some kind of disastrous hit, as a way of strengthening France's position in the world. Perhaps Chirac is just nuts, and is spreading some kind of tale within the French government as a way of explaining his hostility toward the US. I honestly don't know what to think about this, but it's one of the most frightening bits to come across my virtual desk since 9-11. I keep coming back to one question: If Chirac really does know something, why hasn't he shared that knowledge with us, the ally that saved his country from foreign conquest twice?

UPDATE: Well, this might help explain things. It seems that French politicians, left, right and center, have been very cozy with the Iraqi government for decades--before and after the Gulf War. Supporting war against Iraq now risks Saddam outing them before the world.

What is known is this: French businesses, led by the oil conglomerates, established warm and profitable relationships with Iraq's Baathist regime dating back to the 1970s, when Iraq ditched Anglo-American companies and nationalized its oil industry. Again, after the 1991 Gulf War, French companies moved aggressively into the business channels opened up by the U.N.'s oil-for-food deal with Iraq. France's defense industry has also profited from sales to Iraq. What's the difference between this and, say, past U.S. commercial ties to Baghdad? The socialist economic model that links both France and Iraq: As is widely documented, few business deals between the state-controlled conglomerates are made without heavy massaging by French politicians.

So, if there's something to the line of questioning about financial support from Baghdad to Paris--and decades of cozy relations among leading politicians certainly suggests it's worth finding out--then what could be worse for France's top political dogs than to be outed by Saddam himself?

He has threatened to expose all ties if they should betray him by supporting war again. Lo and behold, France's leaders continue to oppose disarming Saddam by force, even as their stance meets criticism from their own backbenchers and harms France's relations with its European neighbors.

The trouble with this appeasement strategy--if indeed the French pols are hiding something--is that they'll probably get caught anyway. After Saddam is ousted from Baghdad, the dissidents who take power are sure to open up the country's archives, East Germany-style, and expose any complicity and impropriety that oiled the channels between France and the Iraqi ancien régime.

Better for the French ruling class to come clean now. That's the only way it can salvage any dignity at all.

This still doesn't directly address this post's central question, which is whether Chirac has been told something about Saddam's war plans that Chirac has elected not to tell us for some reason.

(thanks to Chris for the heads up)
Posted by B. Preston at 06:19 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


Elie Wiesel, Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor, understands that Saddam must be stopped:

"I believe it is the moral duty to intervene when evil has power and uses it," Wiesel said.

"If Europe were to apply as much pressure on Saddam Hussein as (it) does on the United States and Britain, I think we could prevent war," he said.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

(thanks to Hanks)
Posted by B. Preston at 02:40 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


"France is like an aging actress of the 1940s. She's still dining out on her looks, but doesn't have the face for it."
- Arizona Sen. JOHN McCAIN, on France's opposition to the use of force in Iraq.

(via ShopTalk)
Posted by B. Preston at 02:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Mexico is signalling a shift towards the US position on Iraq. So is Pakistan, whose support as a Muslim nation could break the jam and get things moving. And resolute US pressure has already gotten Iraq to at least symbolically back down and destroy its illegal missiles. So how do our "allies" respond?

Russia is threatening to veto any new US and UK-backed resolutions. And France says Iraq's new missile game proves that inspections are working. This is a family blog, so I won't write the names I'm mentally calling the French.

The credible threat of force works. Our "allies" don't like it. As the saying goes, with friends like these who needs enemies? They should face consequences once this episode is finished.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Experience is the best teacher, or so the conventional wisdom goes these days. In the case of today's crop of anti-war activists, experience may be a good teacher but the students are proving resolutely hard-headed and unteachable. As a case in point, I'm on an anti-war activist mailing list, no doubt as a consequence of subscribing to Democrats.com's awful newsletter. Yesterday I received a gem from the head-in-the-sand gang, which is full of gushing and joy over the worldwide demonstrations of the middle of February. This quote stood out from the pack:

"I think everyone was very encouraged by our accomplishments this weekend,"
said Kathleen Brown, a delegate from the University of Vermont, who was
elected to CAN’s national coordinating committee along with 11 other
students. "People wanted to work through things constructively and get to
the basics of organizing actions. Last year in building the movement against
U.S. war in Afghanistan, the movement was much more embattled. But now
there’s a great upswing coming out of the huge national demonstrations in
San Francisco, New York City and around the world."

Of course the anti-war movement prior to the Afghan campaign was embattled--it was attempting to save both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden! America had been stirred to righteous, justified anger, and was remarkably restrained in the weeks between 9-11 and the onset of Enduring Freedom. And note the placement of responsibility--"the U.S. war in Afghanistan." We were at fault, even back then, according to this loon. The fact that today Afghanistan is free of the Taliban's awful rule, and that al Qaeda is largely disrupted, has taught these people nothing. They were wrong then. If they admitted that, it might rehabilitate their credibility a smidge.

These anti-war activists belong to a group called Campus Antiwar Network, or CAN. Which is where they should stuff their protests, and where I'll kick them if I meet them. Idiots.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Israpundit has an intriguing interview about it.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:28 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2003


It seems the net is abuzz with reinterpreting, or rehabilitating, or whatever, McCarthyism. It all started with Jonah Goldberg's provocative piece on NRO in which he claimed that while Senator Joseph McCarthy acted like a jerk, accused innocent people and generally made an idiot of himself, he also happened to have been right about the core issue: There really were Communist spies all over the nation back in his day (who's to say there aren't now?), and those agents had terrible designs on America. I've no argument with that. The facts have shown that McCarthy was right about that, though his zeal and grandstanding made him a terrible Communist catcher in practice.

Then the all-seeing eye of InstaPundit latched on, quoting a disapproving response from Kevin Drum and defending his own criticism of groups like ANSWER, which are in fact Communist fronts. That's an inarguable fact, and it's also indisputable that ANSWER has been behind much of the anti-war movement, either in spirit or actual organization. But some anti-war liberals don't like that fact, and have smeared anyone who mentions it with the spectre of Old Joe McCarthy.

May I make a small observation here? The charge of McCarthyism has been so overused, so abused, in the past couple of decades that it has just about lost all meaning. It's like the term "censorship" in a way--any time liberals feel the heat of criticism, they toss out either the McCarthy bomb or the censorship bomb in the hopes of cowing their critics and winning the debate by default. A liberal says something dumb, a conservative says so, and whaddya know, the conservative is suddenly a McCarthyite. A liberal says gets something published that's dumb, or more common, an artist creates a piece of garbage art that offends a huge slice of the American public, and some folks step up to say they don't like it, and whammo, they get whacked with the censorship bat. It's become standard operating procedure for the left, and not just the hard left.

It also happens to be a mindless tactic, and has been employed so often ever since I can remember that both charges really don't mean much to me anymore. So these days, when I hear someone throwing around either charge I tend to think that they're reflexively left-wing, that they've said or done something that's indefensible on the basis of reason and common sense, and that their critics have touched a nerve.

A cautionary note for liberals: The charge "racism" is in danger of taking on the same lack of sting. Yes, being called a racist is about the worst name you can throw at somebody nowadays, but so was Communist back in Joe McCarthy's day. Now look at how that term has fallen--it's almost a joke. Josh Marshall, Atrios, and others like them, take note--each time you falsely call all Republicans racists (without really saying it so many words, we know), you water down the very charge you make. Especially when your own fellow liberals seem to have so many racial troubles of their own, and you obviously haven't the moral courage to admit it.

What racial troubles, you ask? Well, for one, why are the Democrats so terrified of Al Sharpton that they have sent out a ringer candidate to sink him? That doesn't look like racial harmony to me. Why are Democrats in the South literally running on the Confederate flag as an issue, while the GOP takes the neutral stance of leaving its place up to referrendum? If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google "Mike Snow Georgia." Why are the Democrats so terrified of Miguel Estrada that they're willing to touch off one of the worst confirmation fights in American history? And why do the Democrats tolerate lunatics like Cynthia McKinney and former klansmen like Robert Byrd, when the GOP has no trouble dispensing with the likes of David Duke and finds it easy to reprimand Trent Lott?

You folks can't honestly answer those questions without admitting that your side of the aisle has just as many (if not more, and deeper) racial troubles than our side. So go ahead, call me a racist and get it over with. You're pushing that word one step closer to irrelevance. Might as well call me a McCarthyite while you're at it.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:38 PM | Comments (12) | TrackBack


The Moonies, who own UPI, the Washington Times, and a few other media outlets, are odd ducks. And I'm not just saying that because one of their leaders is a gentleman by the name of Dr. Kwak.

They seem to think that in 2001 the leaders of the world's great religions got together at some sort of heavenly summit and hammered out a plan for world peace, which seems to depend the Rev. Moon and, um, well, married coiuples' yins and yangs, if you know what I mean. Somehow, the picture of Jesus, Mohammed and assorted other religious figures convening a sort of super-huge UN Security Council in the sky offers this Southern Baptist no comfort at all.

As Dave Barry says, I'm not making this up.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:57 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Yeah, I watched. It must've been murderers night on CBS Wednesday--leading off, Saddam Hussein, followed by the unrepentant preppie murderer Robert Chambers. Big killer, little killer, swinging away at softball after softball. I'm sure the ratings were boffo, which is the bottom line.

About the most I can say about Dan Rather's polite exchange with Saddam is Weirdest. Interview. Ever. Bar none. But what do you expect when you pair a faux corn-pone reporter with a real madman? This ain't Les Miserables.

As Don Imus has noted, Rather was far too polite to Saddam. I don't know if I'd characterize it as "treasonous" the way Imus did, but it is just a bit odd for a journalist who'll bash American leaders and pick on-air spats with them when it suits him to submit to Iraq's rules of engagement just so he can hear Saddam repeat the same tired lies we've heard for a dozen years now. Rather would never let the White House control any interview with President Bush the way Iraq did last night's. They controlled the cameras, the interpreters, everything. And it showed.

Favorite moment: Why on earth did Rather ask Saddam to speak English? What I would've given to hear Saddam reply, in perfect diction, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?"

There were some belly laugh moments, such as Saddam's insistence that he respects the humanity of everyone, including his old enemy George H. W. Bush. He has a funny way of showing that respect, trying to kill the elder Bush and all back in 1993. Kurds, anyone? Saddam also insisted that his army wasn't defeated during the original Gulf War. He said that when his army surrendered to Italian news crews, and when the bulk of its tank corps was crushed by a fraction of ours, it amounted to a tactical retreat. Isn't that the same line the Taliban spewed as it was scattering under the shower of daisy cutters in Afghanistan back in 2001? I suspect Saddam didn't really think that line through, else he would have come up with something a little more original, and a little less similar to the terrorists he wants us to think he's not associated with.

Speaking of which, Saddam was fairly cagey on that question. He wouldn't denounce 9-11, wouldn't say much more about Osama bin Laden than that he, Saddam, can understand to a degree why Osama's a hero on the "Arab street." Yet Saddam claimed to respect everyone's humanity. How we should square off these two contradictory thoughts is anyone's guess.

The debate thing: What on earth was that all about? It seemed clear that Saddam had actually sat and thought about it for a while, as though President Bush would actually be dumb enough to turn 12 years and 17 (and counting) UN resolutions into some sort of Rotary Club of the World gathering. It also seemed clear that Saddam thought he was being clever, challenging President Bush to come out and lay out his case for war. As one of Sgt. Stryker's bunch noted, Saddam came off sounding like a second-rate political candidate trying to get into the big leagues. Ominously for the Democrats here in the States, during that segment Saddam didn't sound all that far to the left of, say, Howard Dean. He may have come out to the right of Carol Moseley-Braun. Not good for the donks. Not good at all. And Rather left soooo many interesting avenues unexplored. Why no questions about Chirac? How about having a go at Powell's UN presentation? What about the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and Ramzi Yousef?

In sum, he's a weird guy, a little bit scary when he smiles, and obviously not terribly comfortable in his own skin. And then there's Saddam. What a lunatic. He looks like a hungry cat eyeing the caged canary. It's tough to imagine that the Iraqi people, who Saddam took care to remind us voted to keep him in office unanimously, would miss him when he's gone.

As for Robert Chambers, Leslie Stahl closed his hour-long lie with the news that he's skipped the country. Whaddya wanna bet he's in France?
Posted by B. Preston at 04:19 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack


It seems that the current leading contender to buy out Global Crossing, the high-tech firm that handles some of the country's most sensitive intelligence data, is Hutchison Whampoa. That firm is probably best known for buying up the ports at both ends of the strategic Panama Canal. The problem with that buyout, and this one of Global Crossing, is that Hutchison is based in Beijing and has been closely linked with the Red Chinese Army.

I think quashing this buyout would be in the nation's vital interests, to say the least.

(thanks to Chris)
Posted by B. Preston at 03:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Those who promised a humanitarian crisis if we toppled the Taliban never saw this coming:

In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.

President Hamid Karzai, who will meet President Bush in Washington on Thursday, points to this mini-boom as one of the most important accomplishments of his fledgling administration, a sign that people are voting with their money. "People wouldn't start businesses and rebuild their homes here unless they believed that peace and security were coming to Afghanistan," he said in a recent interview. "This is the most positive sign of all."

Shair Bar Hakemy, the business adviser to Karzai and himself a refugee turned entrepreneur who made a fortune in Texas commercial real estate and hotels, said that the price of real estate in some parts of Kabul is now higher per square foot than in downtown Dallas. "My family and friends back in America have difficulty seeing past all the headlines about troubles here," he said. "But the truth is that Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan are changing quickly for the better."

Or, on second thought, maybe the those who opposed that war against terrorism did see freedom coming--and the capitalistic spirit that inevitably accompanies it--and found that objectionable enough to oppose the war. In any case, here's proof that they were wrong about Afghanistan then, and are wrong Iraq now. War can solve problems--especially ones stemming from other wars left unfinished.
Posted by B. Preston at 01:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 26, 2003


Many years ago, a Middle Eastern king found himself in a tough spot. A nasty sort stirred up a rebellion against him, that ended up dividing the kingdom in half and threatened to destabilize things permanently. So the king sent out his top general and a sizeable army to capture the rebel. The army chased the rebel through the territory of the people he’d convinced to follow him, and ended up besieging the rebel in a particular city. During the pursuit, the rebel’s following had dwindled, as often happens when a king offered a strong show of force to maintain his hold on the throne.

So the army prepared to raze the town to capture the rebel, with the aim of executing him. That many innocent citizens were in the way was regrettable, but in the end the integrity of the kingdom demanded that the rebel get his due. Leaving him alive and unmolested would send the wrong signal to other would-be rebels, of which there was no shortage in this particular kingdom. It would signal that the king was weak, that his rule could be challenged, and that rebels paid no price. It would also leave the rebel himself alive to try and gin up support again to mount another rebellion. So he needed killing, as they say in the Western movies, and the town to which he’d fled would likely suffer collateral damage as a result.

Well, seeing the king’s army bivouacking all around the city evidently had a strong psychological effect on the townsfolk. One day, as the commander checked on his troops, he heard a voice coming from inside the walls—“Come here, sir. I need to speak with you.” It was a woman’s voice, and she seemed so insistent that the general decided to see what she wanted.

It turns out that the rebel's popular support was none too strong even in the very town that had become his last refuge. No reasons are given in the records, but one can surmise certain things. Being a rebel, he was probably the strong-willed sort that demands a lot and stirs up trouble and generally makes himself a nuisance. He may have decided that since taking the whole kingdom, or even half, was now beyond reach he’d settle for kicking out the local rulers and run the poor town. Maybe he didn’t bathe often enough, or burped over lunch, or made rude jokes that no one laughed at. Whatever the reason, the lady who spoke to the general wanted to know something: Would the army still invade if the town took care of the rebel on its own?

The general probably weighed the options, but ultimately decided that invading would be pointless if the rebel was no longer a problem, so he replied that no, the army would not invade if the town dealt with him. The woman said thanks, and that she’d get to work.

And she did. The next day, what comes over the wall? Why, it’s the rebel’s head sans his body. The townsfolk had done what the army came to do, and made sure the rebel’s troublemaking days were over.

The records don’t include the woman’s name, but she’s come to be known as the “wise woman of Abel” (Abel being the town’s name), because she averted a war by acting rationally. If you want to read up on this tale, look to 2 Samuel 20. Would you have read this far if I’d started off telling you “In the such and such year of King David’s reign, a man named Sheba set forth to overthrow the king and establish himself over all Israel?” Of course not. Hence waiting to lay it all out until the last minute.

So what’s the point of this story? Well, two things that I can see. First, in the realm of politics and warfare, leaving a threat out there to fester just beyond the peripheral vision is a bad thing. King David seemed to understand that leaving the rebel Sheba out there meant trouble down the road, and so prudently decided to deal with him post haste. Second, the only way to “win without war” against hardened men like Sheba is to show nothing but strength and resolve. King David didn’t have a UN to bog him down, didn’t have fair-weather allies like France and Germany to undermine him, and we have no record of any anti-war movement climbing up his back to “contain” Sheba in his refuge at Abel. David just sent in his army, and the show of strength alone was enough to win without having to fire a shot.

The same could happen in Iraq, where all reasonable people agree there rules a madman with terrible designs on the world. But winning without war will only happen if the peace-loving people of the world band together and show strength. It's entirely within reason that if enough of Saddam's generals see that we're coming for Saddam, they could decided they've had enough and toss his head over the proverbial wall. And I'm sure that President Bush, though a self-described "loving man," would like nothing more than removing Saddam without having to send in the Marines (and the army, and the air force, etc). As things stand now, though, that isn't going to happen. Saddam in encouraged by the sight of millions protesting President Bush’s 18-month “rush” to war, while not protesting a single solitary thing that he, Saddam, does to his own people. His potential assassins are cowed by the same sight. The protesters, knowingly or otherwise, make winning without war, which is their stated goal, impossible.
Posted by B. Preston at 06:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Someone found this site by searching for the phrase "where are conglomerate rocks located?" I'm not sure how that brought them here, and no doubt they didn't find what they were looking for. As a reply, I could answer "In the heads of multi-culti lefties and their assorted fellow travelers," but that would be mean.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:23 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


For years, radical pro-abortion groups like NOW have tried to kill off the pro-life movement by trying to get the courts to classify the national movement as a form of "racketeering." It's an obvious and ridiculous abuse of the RICO statutes, a set of laws meant as a weapon against real racketeers--the mob, drug cartels, and so forth--and clearly demonstrates just what such groups think of the right of free speech. In short, if they don't agree with it they don't like it very much.

Today, the Supreme Court said that RICO doesn't apply to, and therefore can't be used against, pro-life groups. The ruling was 8-1, with Justice John Paul Stevens in lonely dissent. His reasoning: the pro-life protests outside abortion clinics hurt their business. That's an odd application of free-market thinking coming from a justice who often votes to the left of Ralph Nader, but we'll take it if he starts applying it to other businesses. Perhaps the logging industry, which has to put up with idiots like Earth First, could co-opt his support.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


You've got to watch this music video. Okay, the production values aren't all that hot, and the music's not to my tastes, but it features lots of shots of the wonderful A-10 Warthog, may second-favorite plane in the US arsenal. For the record, my favorite is the SR-71, and the B-2 is a close third.

UPDATE: The B2 is headed for the desert. Or, to be more accurate, the rock--Diego Garcia. Spirits over Baghdad--yeah, baby!
Posted by B. Preston at 10:40 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Australia's Prime Minister lays out the case for action. I agree with every word.
Posted by B. Preston at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Interesting take from Dan Rather's recent trip to interview Saddam Hussein. Say what you want about him, but at least Rather apparently acted more like a patriot than a couple of Dem Congressmen did when they visited Baghdad a few months back.

The Iraqi leader led the CBS anchor to the overstuffed leather chairs in his high-ceilinged Baghdad office and "had questions about American public opinion and President Bush," Rather recalled yesterday from the Jordanian desert. "I said, 'Mr. President, you asked me and I will try to answer you. A lot of these answers I don't think you're going to like.'

"There's always some discomfort in that kind of situation. I wasn't going to trim the answers to suit what I thought he wanted to hear. I told him American public opinion was behind President Bush.

"I think he said, 'Not as much as it was.' " Rather responded that "Americans like to debate and discuss things and vent" but were still backing Bush.
Posted by B. Preston at 09:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 25, 2003


Peggy Noonan offers a well-deserved smack-down to these two failed loudmouths, in the form of a couple of lessons in discretion.

Not that either former pres will listen.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:05 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Here's one Danish business owner who's tired of France's imperial diplomacy:

Aage Bjerre has three rules for dining at his pizzeria on the Danish island of Fanoe: No dogs. No Germans. No French.

The owner of Aage's Pizza said Monday that he's tired of French and German attitudes toward the United States, calling them "disloyal" and "anti-American" in their bid to thwart a possible U.S.-led attack against Iraq.

Chuckle. He's made handy signs to make sure the "undesirables" don't try and enter:

On Friday, he put two homemade pictograms on the shop door, much like the ones that show the outline of a dog with a bar across it.

One featured the silhouette of a man colored red, yellow and black — the colors of the German flag. The second was painted blue, white and red — the French Tricolor colors. Both silhouettes had a bar across each man.


Frenchmen have "a lifetime ban here," Bjerre told The Associated Press. "Their attitude toward the United States will never change."

I love it.

(thanks to Dave)
Posted by B. Preston at 01:14 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


Reader Steve Quick writes in wondering about possible connections between what we do vis a vis Iraq, and how the North Korean respond. For instance, today two interesting things happened: the US and the UK offered up a new UN resolution aimed at placing a hard deadline on Iraqi disarmament, and on the other side of the world, North Korea test-fired an anti-ship missile into the Sea of Japan. Coincidence? Not likely, though there are other events that probably have as much to do with NK's move today than Iraq. For one, South Korea inaugurated a new president, and the missile was Pyongyang's little way of welcoming him to his nightmare. For another, Secretary of State Powell was at the inauguration of South Korea's new president, and is in Asia on a support drive. So you can pretty much stick your hand up in the air and whatever you catch is likely somehow connected to today's missile launch in North Korea.

Having said that, there do seem to have been some coincidences in the timing of events with regard to Iraq and within North Korea over the past few months. I honestly don't know if there's a connection between the two beyond their status as two legs of the axis of evil. It could be the "ultimate suicide bomber" scenario that Mansoor Ijaz wrote about the other day--North Korea and Iraq are somehow tied into al Qaeda's next big hit, and Pyongyang could be sabre rattling on Saddam's behalf. Whatever it turns out to be, there's little question that once Iraq is taken care of (supposing we actually do anything more than sick Hans Blix on them), North Korea at least *thinks* it's next on the hit list and is trying to intimidate us into leaving it alone. And giving it buckets more money and barrels more oil, and finishing up those reactors that Clinton promised them.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


And the position of France et al to keep up the charade of inspections is letting Saddam breathe easier. It turns out that it's not just pro-war types like me who are saying this. It also seems to be the opinion of Saddam Hussein himself:

In a boost for the White House and Mr Blair, their tough stance appeared to be vindicated by President Saddam himself, in remarks to CBS News last night. Dan Rather, the news presenter who conducted the interview, said the Iraqi leader indicated he would not destroy his al-Samoud missiles, as the UN was demanding. Instead President Saddam challenged Mr Bush to a live international television interview, an offer dismissed by Mr Fleischer as "not a serious statement".

I hope Saddam doesn't destroy those missiles, just so we can all see how France will try to spin that one.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


Janeane Garofalo used to be funny. She was great as Jerry's fiancee on Seinfeld, one of the better SNL cast members when she was there, and terrific in Cats & Dogs. But she's officially crossed the line into unserious, ill-informed war critic, otherwise known as idiotarianism. But I just can't Fisk her myself--call it a soft spot. Henry, please do the honors.

UPDATE: Well, here's one way to remove a soft spot I until recently had for Janeane Garofalo. She's been an idiotarian for at least a decade.

UPDATE II: Several of you have been kind enough to send me this link to Garofalo's recent appearance on Fox & Friends. Brian Kilmeade, an underrated interviewer in my opinion, sliced her and diced her. She not only got what she deserved, but the entire exchange is a microcosm of the war debate as it stands right now. Those on the anti-war side seem to willfully ignore the consequences of their position, which are an emboldened Saddam who remains in power and a muddied debate with a weakened consensus on national security here at home. They seem to willfully ignore the facts of 12 years (as of today, actually) and 17 UN resolutions mandating Saddam's disarmament, and in the end they seem almost gleeful to point out the US' flaws while edging uncomfortably close to apologizing for those of everyone else.

It's becoming apparent to me where they really stand. As long as the right people (meaning anyone not on the right hand side of the political ledger) are doing the oppressing, it doesn't matter how oppressive and aggressive they become: The West's anti-war activitists will go to bat for them. From Stalin to Pol Pot, from Castro to Chavez, and from the old Iron Curtain to Tiannamen Square, the hard left won't forcefully take on the killers on its side of the spectrum. But if President Bush lifts a finger in any way to rein in terrorism or secure our nation to any extent, these same anti-war activists will denounce him with every name, innuendo or association they can find. And if they can't find any real ones, they'll just make something up.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:01 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 24, 2003


That's the position of the Japan Forum on International Relations. This group, which is similar to our own Council on Foreign Relations, sees the present world situation clearly:

As the time for a possible U.S. attack on Iraq draws near, North Korea is stepping up moves to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Therefore, we must consider carefully what action will best serve Japan's interests and, more generally, what course the international community should take. We support the United States' position and action concerning the Iraq problem, and we insist on strengthening cooperation between Japan and the U.S. in dealing with the North Korea problem. Since these two crises are linked, Japan's ability to resolve the crisis created by North Korea will depend on how Japan responds to the Iraq crisis.

The JFIR also chides the Eurocrats in Paris and Germany for their illogical approach:

We would like to make clear our basic position that we cannot condone development and deployment of WMDs by the so-called rogue states. The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks underscored the threat of international terrorism. If WMDs fell into the possession of international terrorists, the threat would increase immeasurably. The international community must acknowledge the permitted use of military force as a last resort when the threat cannot be removed through peaceful means.

Those who merely shout antiwar slogans, or take a neutral stand by denouncing both Iraq's noncompliance and U.S. preparations to use force, would appear to have abandoned independent thinking. They are confusing a police nightstick with a lethal weapon.


Some Japanese insist that Japan should exercise "autonomy" in its diplomacy by keeping a distance from the U.S., as Germany and France are doing. But there is a big difference between the circumstances involving Germany and France and the situation in which Japan finds itself. At this time, the Japan-U.S. alliance is being tested; this is all the more reason for Japan to decide to give clear-cut support to the U.S. It would be both illogical and inequitable for Japan to demand tough U.S. action in the North Korea crisis while opposing the use of force against Iraq.

I like that word, illogical. That's exactly what the anti-war position has become--illogical.
Posted by B. Preston at 05:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


According to a new Iraqi dissident, Saddam had a subway system built around Baghdad to use as a chemical weapons hideout. Does Hans Blix know about this?

As an aside, the dissident, a scientist by the name of Hussein Shahristani, knows that war sometimes does solve things. He says he'd been imprisoned by Saddam for 11 years because he refused to help him make a nuclear weapon, and that he escaped when we bombed his prison during the first Gulf War.
Posted by B. Preston at 03:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Why does the Grammy Foundation soak up a big chunk of taxpayer dollars?
Posted by B. Preston at 03:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


I used to like John Major. When he succeeded Margaret Thatcher as Britian's Prime Minister, he seemed to be a decent fellow. But decent fellows don't always make good leaders, and Major presided over the implosion of conservatism in the UK. Today, the Tories amount to a noisy but useless opposition to the Goliath that is Labour. And Labour is really only a Goliath because the Tories have become so small, thanks in part to decent fellows like John Major who mean well but haven't a clue.

For evidence, take Major's latest opinions on Iraq. It'll be dangerous, he says. It'll make people mad at us, he says. Saddam will pull all of his old tricks out of the book, use all those weapons he's not supposed to have, and wreack havoc on our troops, his own people, Israel, and anyone else within his reach.

Well, thanks for enlightening us Mr. Major. Gee, we hadn't figured on all that for ourselves. No one on this side of the pond could have forseen, about eight months ago, that taking on Saddam would entail getting more than a little sand in the gears and few scratched up airplanes. We're just too much a bunch of bumpkins to figgur out all this fer ourselves.

Mr. Major, a piece of advice from one of those bumpkins who once admired you and found common cause with your party--if you don't have anything useful to contribute, just shut up. Let Tony Blair lead, and let the adults take care of the driving while you kids yammer "Are we there yet?" You're not helping us, and you are helping Saddam, and anyway any armchair blogger could have had all the insight and probably a couple pounds more than you and your compatriots in the Tory Party have recently demonstrated. So do us all a favor--and shut up.
Posted by B. Preston at 02:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


So go on over and say your congrats--Susanna is expecting you.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:17 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Charles Johnson has noticed an interesting symmetry between European and Palestian anti-war marchers. And anyway, since when are the Palestinians--one of the most war-mongering groups on the planet and led by the godfather of modern terrorism--peaceniks.

Their signs should read "No War, other than ours against the hated Zionist entity that bakes the blood of our children into its bread and plots to control the entire world." Probably couldn't get it to fit.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


As long as there are prudes out there who'll complain that a snow-woman's breasts are too big, the Cohen Brothers' movies will always have a certain ring of truth about them. People can indeed be every bit as stupid as the Bros' average character.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I missed the Grammys tonight, not that I would've watched anyway. I was out with the family attending a David Meece concert at our church. He was fantastic. If you've never heard of him, you've really missed out. He was a child prodigy on the piano at age 5, and by age 10 was already touring with major symphony orchestras. He eventually found his way into Christian music, and is a real talent with an amazing, dramatic testimony of forgiveness toward his abusive, alcoholic father. I know I've made it sound like a heavy outing, but it wasn't--Meece plays mostly pop-rock stuff with a slight nod to classical, and is hysterically funny in his verbal riffs between songs. If you get the chance to see him, do it.

But back to the Grammys--I didn't see them. Didn't care to. But I understand that the anti-war stuff was muted. Too bad. I'd have loved to hear those spoiled, rich, narcissistic, whiny, elitist, know-nothing, undereducated brats tell the rest of us what we should think. I think it would have been wonderful for an America that supports war and its president to hear what these alleged musicians really think of it all, and by extension, of the public that forks over its hard-earned cash to support the lavish, jet-setting lives of today's music stars. If Sheryl Crow's take is any indication, a full-throated anti-war rant could have been must-see-TV:

"NO WAR" was written in silver letters on Sheryl Crow's guitar strap as she performed, although her hair usually covered up most of the "NO."

That pretty much sums up the effects the anti-war crowd is actually having, doesn't it. By trying to promote "NO WAR," she ended up wearing a guitar that to all appearances just said "WAR." In pursuing peace at any cost, it actually makes war more likely by getting Saddam to think he has more support here than he really does. These idiot musicians actually seem to think that Bush is the problem, not the maniac in Baghdad who's been doing all those horrible things we keep repeating endlessly on blog after blog. These idiot musicians actually seem to think that they know more than the one man who wakes up everyday to a briefing outlining some new threat, and who has access to all our intelligence agencies know about the latest schemes in Iraq, Pyongyang, Tehran and elsewhere. But more arrogantly, these idiot musicians seem to think that their opinion should count for more than yours or mine because they have a God-given talent that they use to curse God and spit on the country that makes their wealth possible. These idiot musicians should have been allowed to say whatever they want, so America could get a good, hard look at who it puts on pedestals of fame and fortune. America just might have decided to dethrone a few of these folks, and we would all have been better off for it.

So too bad. CBS chickened-out. And we're stuck with the same idiot musicians who loathe America, loathe the average American, and give succor to tyrants.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:26 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


James C. Bennett argues that the terror masters' aim is to destroy the benign international order, largely founded on democracy and trade, that the US and its allies built after 1945. Under Bennett's analysis, the costs of capitulation are staggering:

We may be at a critical point in the defense of the open, democratic and commercial order America and many other nations have together built since 1945. Those who do not support this defense fail to understand that the entire idea of an international order of rules (already extended far beyond what reality can support) cannot be taken for granted, and must be defended forcibly against would-be empires. This is not some kind of game in which Saddam gets to have nuclear weapons if U.N Secretary-General Kofi Annan failed to say "Simon says" before Bush acts.

Failure to understand these points may soon lead us to a place where life for all is short, nasty, brutish and mean, and from time to time, radioactive.

As Bennett notes, the irony of our situation is that the people who most stronly oppose President Bush's efforts to rein in this Hobbesian world are precisely the same people who most noisily accuse him of crimes against humanity while excusing true criminals such as Saddam Hussein. Their criticism isn't merely wrong on the facts--its very presence is debilitating to our ability to successfully prosecute the war.

That being said, why do some famous pro-war bloggers keep giving the anti-war crowd sound advice on how to make themselves appear credible? It makes no sense, and in the long run could get us all killed. Let the protesters continued to be ill-informed and look foolish--the more credible they seem, the more dangerous they become.
Posted by B. Preston at 12:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2003


As things stand tonight, essentially two countries are fighting to control Iraq's destiny. Those two countries are the US and France, but we're not really fighting each other directly. It's become a diplomatic proxy war, a sort of chess match, with each side somewhat ironically offering up a proxy as possible casualties. For the US, where President Bush rests secure in a fixed term in office, that proxy casualty is British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who because of the structure of Britian's government could be removed from office at any time. For France, whose President Jacques Chirac (or is that Chiraq?) rests secure in a fixed term in office, the proxy is Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, whose Red-Rreen parliamentary coalition is hanging on to power by a thread. The US wants Schroeder gone, for reasons mostly having to do with his anti-American campaign which kept him in office, and because Germany has allied itself to the French anti-war position. Knocking off Schroeder and replacing him with a friendlier face might not necessarily turn Germany's UN votes to our favor (though it well might), but Schroeder's ouster would signal clearly to others backing France that they could suffer similar fates, and would signal to France that its worldwide support is tenuous. For France, a regime change in London would probably take the UK out of our column and render it either neutral (most likely) or shift it to France's side. Such an outcome would obviously be terrible for the US--outside our own troops and arms, the UK is supplying the bulk of the international forces arrayed against Saddam. The UK's presence in the coalition gives us the veneer of multilateralism, and adds to our moral case for war. Tony Blair has perhaps been the most eloquent spokesman for the need to remove Saddam--his political death in a no-confidence measure would take out the most philosophical warrior on the American side.

So the stakes are very high in the this proxy war. Schroeder is currently the weaker of the two proxies. Currently, his government is caught up in a nasty scandal relating to its knowledge of huge stockpiles of Iraqi bioweapons, and the fact that it concealed that knowledge for purely political reasons. The Red-Green coalition got into office on a strongly anti-American, and therefore anti-war, platform--acknowledging that Iraq does in fact possess banned weapons that are in fact highly dangerous to the German public during the campaign would have undercut their entire strategy, to say the least. Adding to this problem, Foreign Minister Joscka Fischer has made threatening gestures over recent disclosures that Schroeder had essentially negotiated an Iraq strategy with France without telling him. He's the Foreign Minister, and the leader of the Green Party which makes up a sizable chunk of the coalition--Schroeder's actions amount to cutting out the legitimate deal-maker and showing him the highest disrespect. If Fischer resigned over this issue, which is common in parliamentary systems, and took a few of his Greens with him, Schroeder's government would collapse. What makes this scenario somewhat unlikely is that Fischer is no friend of the US, as I've mentioned before. He has a checkered past to put it charitably when it comes to terrorism, having lived as a young man either on the fringes of such activity, or in the middle of it sucking up terror-sponsoring funds from the KGB, depending on who's talking about him. Whichever is true, it's certainly the case that he's a far left-winger, a supporter of Arafat and the Eurabian idea in its essentials, and doesn't want to make any moves that could possibly strengthen the US. But the bioweapons scandal is a large threat, and may yet undo Schroeder all by itself. Not far behind that, while the German public does not support war, it won't long support a government that willfully destroys its relations with the US, especially if such a souring results in American military bases leaving German soil. The US has been making sideways threats that it just might move its massive bases to friendlier states to the east, thus further weakening Schroeder's position.

News coming from London tonight is that things aren't much better for Blair, Britian's Prime Minister and America's proxy. His own Labour Party only supports his tough stance on Iraq up to about 44%, meaning that the majority of his own party is still against him. Fortunately for Blair, no backbenchers have yet risen to challenge him, and no likely challengers seem to be coming over the horizon. Labour's lack of qualified candidates helps an otherwise weakened Blair. Meanwhile the Tories, usually the most pro-American of the UK's major parties, has never had a majority supporting war, and word is that its support is slipping even as Blair is making his final push to get the British public on his side. Among Blair's most visible critics are MP John Gunner, a Thatcherite, and Douglas Hogg, who led Britian's relations with the Middle East during the 1991 Gulf War. These two are no rabid lefty anti-Americans--they're run of the mill Tories, usually strong on British national defense and on its "special relationship" with America. Clearly, Blair has his work cut out for him if such Tories are still skeptical of the case for war.

Whichever proxy falls first could well determine whether Saddam Hussein finishes out 2003 as Iraq's dictator. Let's hope Blair can hang on, and that Washington can find a way to (politically) hang Schroeder.
Posted by B. Preston at 11:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack