Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Hitchens' Middle East take
Hitchens' op-ed in today's WSJ regarding the provenance of the current Middle East situation is similarly missed at one's own peril. He sites two precursors for the remarkable coincidence of Hamas's and Hezbollah's hostage taking.
First is the case of Ron Arad, an Israeli pilot captured by Hezbollah twenty years ago when his fighter was shot down over Sidon. He was used as a bargaining chip to extract the release of prisoners by the Israelis, although this ultimately failed to materialize. Arad was reportedly moved (or sold) to Iran at some point and Hezbollah reported him dead and his remains "lost" some time ago.
The second is the case of Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President, and his attempts to coerce Hamas into endorsing a two-state solution which would, in effect, force Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Abbas's ultimatum to Hamas (as paraphrased by Hitchens) was:
If you do not recognize the newly elected government of Israel as a legitimate negotiating partner...I will order a referendum among the Palestinians on the single issue of that recognition. He had in at his disposal an important letter, signed by several respected Palestinian political prisoners, that called for a two-state solution on this basis, and he was also cutting with the grain of important resolutions by the European Union and other concerned international interlocutors. (no link as the WSJ article requires paid subscription)
Hitchens point is that Hamas, rather than face the unacceptable result of a referendum that recognized Israel, orchestrated the attack and kidnapping specifically to provoke an Israeli response, thus making such a referendum impossible. He goes on to say that it seems likely that Hezbollah's similar attack and kidnapping were similarly coordinated to help Hamas. And by extension, Israel's responses in both Gaza and Lebanon play into the Islamists' hands.
This certainly seems, at a minimum, plausible. The other Machiavellian explanation for the timing of these actions was orchestration by Iran to deflect the attention of the G8 summitteers from Iran's nuclear program. I don't pretend to be as knowlegeable on the situation as Hitchens or many of the other commentators. But rather than blind luck, I have to believe one, if not both of these explanations is behind what we're now witnessing.
As for solutions, we've heard the same , predictable stupidity from Kofi Anan and his ilk, suggesting an immediate cease fire with UN peacekeeping troops inserted...becasue that's worked so well every other time it's been tried. It's more than a little disappointing that Tony Blair has subscribed to this tripe. The net effect of this would be to reward Hezbollah by restraining Israel, thus allowing them to recover, re-arm and repeat the same outrages again in the future.
Instead, nothing results in loonger-lasting peace than a decisive military campaign. Israel needs to be given the time and freedom to deal Hezbollah a serious and decisive damaging blow by destroying as much of their infrastructure and personnel as possible, while at the same time preventing resupply from Syria and Iran. Such a policy would go infinitely farther in ensuring years of peace in the region than any tens of thousands of blue-helmeted traffic cops.
Well, George is in a cheery mood
To the Standard's suggestion that there's no reason to wait to attack Iranian nuclear facilites, Will writes:
Perhaps because the U.S. military has enough on its plate, in the deteriorating wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which both border Iran. And perhaps because containment, although of uncertain success, did work against Stalin and his successors, and might be preferable to a war against a nation much larger and more formidable than Iraq. And if Assad's regime does not fall after The Weekly Standard's hoped-for third war, with Iran, does the magazine hope for a fourth?
Containment? Can he seriously believe that Iran, armed with the nuclear weapons that containment would give them time to further develop, can be contained? Will containment lessen their (financial and material) support for Hamas, Hezbollah and others like them around the world? Does he think that if they had the ability today to fire a nuclear-tipped missle at Tel Aviv, they'd hesitate at all? Has he not listened to the rantings of Ahmadinejad?
As Kristol writes in his editorial, weakness is provocative, particularly in the Middle East. Iran has seen little from the US to disabuse them of the notion that we don't currently have the stomach for a confrontation. Our reliance on IAEA, UN and the feckless Europeans can only make them laugh as they play the lot of us for more time.
Yes, there would be serious repercussions (not the least of which, a probable doubling of the price of oil) in the wake of a US strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. No, it probably isn't the ideal time for the US military to strike now. But world events seldom wait for the best time for us to react to them. Waiting will only allow Iran to further develop their nuclear capability. And if they succeed while we get ready, we'll have a much bigger problem on our hands.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Europeans have more sympathy with Iran's nuclear program than they do with Israel's attempts at self-defense. But, then, the only thing continental Europeans regret about the Holocaust is that they didn't get to finish the job. Even as Europe suffers its own attacks by Islamist terrorists, Europeans defend the selfsame terrorists against Israeli retribution.
OK, so I took some time off
Picking at random, let's take blatant boffoonery and idiotic anti-Americanism. No, this isn't in reference to the latest aritcle written in any of a hundred European newspapers. I'm talking about what was one of my favorite sites on the internet.
I'm an avid amateur photographer and there are a few sites on the net that I visit just about every day. One of them is (was) the The Online Photographer a well-written and interesting (for photo geeks) blog by Mike Johnston. It's probably my favorite photo-related site on the net.
However, Mike just couldn't stick to the photography theme when an outrage like Independence Day rolled around. No, he felt it necessary to tell us all what sheep-like fools we are for not being ashamed of our country and indulging in the unconscionable practice of fireworks displays. But it was in the comments section that he really let fly. Here's my favorite:
The static is beginning to have a distinctly totalitarian cast, if you ask me. The government is cracking down on dissent, limiting peaceful protest, dictating to scientists, spying on its own citizens, engaging in illegitimate wars, defying the Constitution, and at least one of the last two elections was rigged. Better wake up and smell the coffee unless you have a good idea of another country to which you can flee for the good of your own grandchildren.
I really love when the lefties scream at the top of their lungs about the crackdown on dissent, reductions of our civil liberties, limitations on protest, yadda, yadda, yadda. Are they so without self-regard that they don't see the inherent contradiction in this? Can anyone name one person who has been arrested, sactioned or otherwise told that they can't dissent from the government's policies? Has there been a demonstration anywhere broken up by truncheon-wielding thugs?
Laura Ingraham wrote a book a couple of years ago (I haven't read it) named Shut Up and Sing, the basic complaint of which was the elites who use their positions in entertainment and the media to tear down American values (think Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, etc.) All the while, they enjoy the protections and freedoms here that they'd find in few other places on Earth.
Does "shut up and write" make any sense?