Back in 2004, I wrote "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Mubarak?." It was about 2 things, and one of them was acceptance of reality's limits on our options. Within which, I believe American could have done some good in shaping what would eventually come. It ended as follows:
"The bottom line is simple: Egypt has to change. We have to promote effective pathways to liberty, using pressure and/or confrontation on our own timetable, all the while strengthening the real champions of liberty and weakening the poseurs and the malevolent.
It's a tall order. It won't always be satisfying. And it may take time. Fortunately, time is an option we can afford in Egypt. The only thing we can't afford, is failure."
Time was an option we could afford in Egypt. But here's the thing... eventually, it runs out. And like all seemingly stable systems with major foundational cracks (vid. also, and still, global financial system, and debt supportability above key levels like 90% of GDP), it may not take a very big shock to set the endgame in motion.
We're in motion, now, in Egypt. And if America faced limits before, those limits are sharper. The Muslim Brotherhood is still the evil organization it has always been, complete with Nazi origins, and retaining its jihadist core. But Mubarak is toast, and America must now make clear choices... if its President can manage that.
I have nothing to add to Ralph Peters' current advice. I hope my country takes it.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a speech yesterday at the Ottawa Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, sponsored by the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism (ICCA). I'm reproducing the full text after the jump, which deals with domestic as well as international Judenhasse, but here's its moral core:
"Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.... We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism - healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack - is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.... As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples.... we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn."
The National Post published some excerpts, but read the full text below...
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Nov 8/10:
"Members of the Steering Committee, fellow parliamentarians, Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying how delighted I am to see so many of you from around the world, gathered here in Ottawa for the second annual conference of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism.
It is a sign, not only of your commitment to our common cause, but also of the momentum established at the London Conference last year. It is, therefore, a great sign of hope.
History teaches us that anti-Semitism is a tenacious and particularly dangerous form of hatred. And recent events are demonstrating that this hatred is now in resurgence throughout the world. That is why the work of the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism has never been so important or timely as it is now.
On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I commend you and support you in the great and important work that you are doing.
I would like to thank Minister Jason Kenney, for inviting the ICCA to Ottawa, and for his outstanding record of leadership in combating anti-Semitism.
I would like also to thank my introducer and friend, Scott Reid, Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism, and Mario Silva, Vice Chair, for organizing this conference.
And I would like to thank all my colleagues in the Parliament of Canada here today, including Professor Irwin Cotler, for their dedication to your mission.
Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues, two weeks ago I visited Ukraine for the first time.
In Kiev I laid a wreath at Babi Yar, the site of one of the numerous atrocities of the Holocaust. I was left there with much the same impression as I had in Auschwitz in 2008 - that such horrors defy all comprehension.
At the killing grounds of Babyn Yar, I knew I was standing in a place where evil - evil at its most cruel, obscene, and grotesque - had been unleashed. But while evil of this magnitude may be unfathomable, it is nonetheless a fact.
It is a fact of history. And it is a fact of our nature - that humans can choose to be inhuman. This is the paradox of freedom. That awesome power, that grave responsibility - to choose between good and evil.
Let us not forget that even in the darkest hours of the Holocaust, men were free to choose good. And some did. That is the eternal witness of the Righteous Among the Nations. And let us not forget that even now, there are those who would choose evil and would launch another Holocaust, if left unchecked. That is the challenge before us today.
The horror of the Holocaust is unique, but it is just one chapter in the long and unbroken history of anti-Semitism. Yet, in contemporary debates that influence the fate of the Jewish homeland, unfortunately, there are those who reject the language of good and evil. They say that the situation is not black and white, that we mustn't choose sides.
In response to this resurgence of moral ambivalence on these issues, we must speak clearly. Remembering the Holocaust is not merely an act of historical recognition.
It must also be an understanding and an undertaking. An understanding that the same threats exist today. And an undertaking of a solemn responsibility to fight those threats.
Jews today in many parts of the world and many different settings are increasingly subjected to vandalism, threats, slurs, and just plain, old-fashioned lies.
Let me draw your attention to some particularly disturbing trends. Anti-Semitism has gained a place at our universities, where at times it is not the mob who are removed, but the Jewish students under attack. And, under the shadow of a hateful ideology with global ambitions, one which targets the Jewish homeland as a scapegoat, Jews are savagely attacked around the world, such as, most appallingly, in Mumbai in 2008.
One ruthless champion of that ideology brazenly threatens to 'wipe Israel off the map,' and time and again flouts the obligations that his country has taken under international treaties. I could go on, but I know that you will agree on one point: that this is all too familiar.
We have seen all this before. And we have no excuse to be complacent. In fact we have a duty to take action. And for all of us, that starts at home.
In Canada, we have taken a number of steps to assess and combat anti-Semitism in our own country. You will no doubt hear from my Canadian colleagues about the measures we have taken to date.
I will mention for the time being that, for the first time, we are dealing with Canada's own record of officially sanctioned anti-Semitism. We have created a fund for education about our country's deliberate rejection of Jewish refugees before and during the Second World War.
But of course we must also combat anti-Semitism beyond our borders, an evolving, global phenomenon. And we must recognize, that while its substance is as crude as ever, its method is now more sophisticated.
Harnessing disparate anti-Semitic, anti-American and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel, as the source of injustice and conflict in the world, and uses, perversely, the language of human rights to do so.
We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is. Of course, like any country, Israel may be subjected to fair criticism. And like any free country, Israel subjects itself to such criticism - healthy, necessary, democratic debate. But when Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack - is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand. Demonization, double standards, delegitimization, the three D's, it is the responsibility of us all to stand up to them.
And I know, by the way, because I have the bruises to show for it, that whether it is at the United Nations, or any other international forum, the easy thing to do is simply to just get along and go along with this anti-Israeli rhetoric, to pretend it is just being even-handed, and to excuse oneself with the label of 'honest broker.' There are, after all, a lot more votes, a lot more, in being anti-Israeli than in taking a stand. But, as long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the UN or the Francophonie or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand, whatever the cost. And friends, I say this not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tells us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.
Earlier I noted the paradox of freedom. It is freedom that makes us human. Whether it leads to heroism or depravity depends on how we use it.
As the spectre of anti-Semitism spreads, our responsibility becomes increasingly clear. We are citizens of free countries. We have the right, and therefore the obligation, to speak out and to act. We are free citizens, but also the elected representatives of free peoples. We have a solemn duty to defend the vulnerable, to challenge the aggressor, to protect and promote human rights, human dignity, at home and abroad. None of us really knows whether we would choose to do good, in the extreme circumstances of the Righteous. But we do know there are those today who would choose to do evil, if they are so permitted. Thus, we must use our freedom now, and confront them and their anti-Semitism at every turn.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the purpose of our intervention today: our shared determination to confront this terrible hatred. The work we have undertaken, in our own countries and in cooperation with one another, is a sign of hope.
Our work together is a sign of hope, just as the existence and persistence of the Jewish homeland is a sign of hope. And it is here that history serves not to warn but to inspire.
As I said on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel, Israel appeared as a light, in a world emerging from deep darkness. Against all odds, that light has not been extinguished. It burns bright, upheld by the universal principles of all civilized nations - freedom, democracy and justice.
By working together more closely in the family of civilized nations, we affirm and strengthen those principles. And we declare our faith in humanity's future in the power of good over evil.
Thank you for all you are doing to spread that faith. And thank you for your kind attention.
Thank you very much."
Going into Lebanon and then later Gaza in force to root out the problems at their source, and then stopping and withdrawing in the face of the usual international reaction. Their international reputation would have hardly been worse if they had finished the job. Anyone who supported the initial policy in each case has to be disapointed by the ultimate lack of fortitude to follow through with it (which was predictable to me as both these campaigns started, though I hoped I was wrong), and anyone who opposed Israel in these cases is quietly thanking their good fortune.
Yet as I said, the each unfolded predictably, every time, exactly as I have foreseen, because at bottom even - especially - the Israelis want to not only do the right thing, but what is actually worse be *seen* and *perceived* as doing the right thing. So when they go to cut the knot, they saw half way through and when the International Community's Greek Chorus shouts them down, they stop and back off, letting it regrow and metastasize, letting it feel it has the momentum, feel a sense of victory, and that the Winds of Change are on their side.
This inevitably leaves them with the worst of both worlds. Surely WRM knows Napoleon's saying that if you set out to take Vienna, TAKE VIENNA.
Probably the best strategic move Israel could do now is rename itself "North Korea" (while not adopting that nation's political ideology). Then they could do whatever they want, sink any ship, threaten and kill anyone they needed to, and the ever-so caring International Community wouldn't care one whit - except to urge "Caution" and "don't over-react" and "nobody should escalate the situation."
Anyhow, it's really all over now; as my mother said the other day about this, it's like a dying person connected to a respirator. Everyone knows what is to come, but no one knows when.
Or, in one of my favorite quotes, tragic in this context, "The non-inevitability of events we nevertheless know are bound to come."
It is non-inevitable: Something could change, in us, the broad us, the so-called civilized world. But do you think it will? In time? Since it hasn't yet, despite many wuss-slaps to the face by reality, when and under what circumstances do you think it will? Again: In time. In this case, in time for the Israelis, who one would think have sacrificed enough and been sacrificed enough to other's self-regard.
T.S. Eliot: "Half of the harm that is done in this world Is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves."
These days it most, more than half, of the forces for evil in this world would be readily checked if it wasn't for these two sorts of people. But we let them hold the reins.
Update: One thing about being on lockdown is I probably know less than people can get from the news. Lots of sirens throughout the day, but we're told to stay inside. More here, including increasing casualty numbers as information gets updated.
I posted this here rather than at my own site because it seemed to make more sense, but no rational reason.
Update II Local newsreader mentioned "chaos" on Fort Hood. I think just a throw-word used regardless of its meaning. Suffice to say there's no chaos: It's like the news people who speak about "people panicing in New York during 9/11". There wasn't really panic - natural fear and people were understandably upset and moving rapidly, but without panic.
There is no chaos here that is detectible, everything is very orderly and people are doing what they need to. The use of the word "chaos" just set me off. There will probably be a lot of bogus descriptions used by the ignorati we rely upon for information.
Now 12 dead, 31 wounded reportedly.
Live Feed here.
Moronic: Drudge currently has this photo up on his front page:
Note that's not an image related to the current event at all; it's a stock photo of the urban warfare training site. I have no idea why he would use that except for pseudo-dramatic effect. That site is nowhere near where the shooting took place and its use gives a misimpression of what's going on.
I don't have any special information, but I can tell something of what isn't accurate.
Tragedy, then, is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative; through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.
(Poetics, Part 6)
I asked last Friday, theoretically more than practically, whether it was time to invade Burma, inviting readers to have their say on whether coercive relief operations could be realistically considered in the wake of the Burmese junta's refusal to allow foreign aid or relief workers into the country.
Today Time.com asks the same question.
Like my piece, the Time piece does not actually propose invading Burma (though it could be read as coming close to it), but points out that "the world has yet to reach a consensus about when, and under what circumstances, coercive interventions in the name of averting humanitarian disasters are permissible." I would also point out that Time seems to think that parachute drops of supplies, without prior permission of the junta, constitutes "invading," which is silly. But let that pass for discussion's sake.
Of course there is a sort of cognitive dissonance in thinking about shooting your way in to deliver food and medicine. But not really - exactly how is the plight of the Burmese of the disaster area different than that of a concentration camp? As I said Friday, "This catastrophe may not fall under the legal umbrella of genocide, but it is a distinction without a difference."
It's not going to happen with Burma, of course, for reasons I explained and that Time also touches on. But Time doesn't consider the far implications of its question (and I didn't either, Friday), which is this:
Supposing (for argument's sake) that the scenario imagined by Jan Egeland, former U.N. emergency relief coordinator, comes to be - "the threat of a cholera epidemic that could claim hundreds of thousands of lives and the government was incapable [or unwilling - DS] of preventing it." Egeland says that "you would intervene unilaterally."
Well, okay, then. But we'd have to go all the way. The trump card, before the Marines land, would have to be an unambiguous message to the junta that they will be deposed and tried for crimes against humanity. And not tried by the pansy International Criminal Court, either, but by a US-convened Nuremberg-style tribunal - if they even lived through the regime change.
If the junta still refused to permit aid, then we'd have to understand that actual conquest of the country would be required, the government must be overthrown and yes, nation building would have to follow.
That's the hard part - understanding the end game before starting the front game. As Sun Tzu warned, you have to see all the way through, insofar as it is possible, before deploying. For that matter, even Jesus knew that much about military strategy.
No, just cordoning off the relief area and killing Burmese army units that try to block the relief won't do. For the problem needing solving is not the relief operation or its security. It is the regime.
Are we prepared to go all the way? Well, no. And since we are unable to do so anyway (see my first post for why), the question is automatically moot.
But here is a question for Time: if invading Burma is justifiable because of the humanitarian catastrophe there, then should we have not invaded North Korea years ago for the same reason?
Look, Newt's position on the cause of this tragedy is just silly (skip ahead to 3:38). The rate of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter in the US was 5.1/100,000 in 1960 (surely the idyll of the Country Club Republican). In 2004 it was 5.5. We're hardly Sodom, Newt.
I'm someone who thinks there are interesting intersections between anomic young men and modern philosophical thought that may lower the barriers to bad behavior, and provide a kind of ideological armature for the nihilistic acts of rage they choose to commit. But to blame the kind of acts the VT murders represent on any philosophical position - be it postmodernism, liberalism, or Rotary membership - is just stupid and foolish and skirts being disgusting. The killer was an insane young man who could and should have been identified and helped (or at least stopped) long before last week, and no philosophy, political position, or educational fad made him crazy and evil.
We have had evil people who have done horrible things since there have been people. Newt's a Christian, he ought to get that.
('The Devil In A White City' is the violence-porn bestseller about a charming mass murderer active in Chicago during the World Fair of 1893. I'd also suggest 'Everything Bad Is Good For You' as a followup.)
(h/t The Moderate Voice)
Just passing this along for the Pessimism Department:
Google 'planning total storage'
Web giant Google is planning a massive online storage facility to encompass all users' files, it is reported.
The plans were allegedly revealed accidentally after a blogger spotted notes in a slideshow presentation wrongly published on Google's site.
The GDrive, previously the subject of chatroom rumour, would offer a mirror of users' hard drives, Reuters said.
Google declined to comment on the reports but said the slide notes had now been deleted.
In the notes, chief executive Eric Schmidt reportedly said Google's aim was to "store 100%" of users' information.
The notes said: "With infinite storage, we can house all user files, including e-mails, web history, pictures, bookmarks, etc; and make it accessible from anywhere (any device, any platform, etc)."
"We deleted the slide notes because they were not intended for publication," Google spokeswoman Lynn Fox said.
"We are constantly working on new ways to enhance our products and services for users, but have nothing to announce at this time."
Under the alleged scheme, if users suffered a crash and lost files, Google's own computers would have kept a back-up.
The plan for total online storage could meet difficulties with bandwidth constraints for some users.
The search giant recently decided to offer an optional facility that stores a copy of the text-based sections of each user's data on Google's own computers.
When I saw that intro trumpeted in the 1950s on our black and white Hoffman TV as a "special report" I knew, with the certainty of gravity, that the headline would somehow grab me up in the sweep of history. This happened some time before I reached puberty, and I can't recall the exact year, but I knew those events would profoundly affect my life. That's the way I now feel about The Recent N. Korea Nuke Test.
I sincerely hope I'm just a dumb ignorant human who can't see around corners, but my guts are giving me the same message now that they did then. This is ugly. We've passed a point of no return.
Ex-leftist Colin Meade reproduces a translated version of a letter from Dr Mounir Herzallah that appeared July 30th in the Berlin daily newspaper Die Tagesspeigel:
"Until 2002 I lived in a small village in southern Lebanon near Marjayoun, the majority of whose inhabitants were, like me, Shiites. After the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, it was not long before Hezbollah were in control in our village as they were everywhere else. Hailed as victorious resistance fighters, they seemed to be armed to the teeth, storing missiles in bunkers in our village. The social work of the Party of God consisted in building a school and some housing on top of the bunkers! A local sheikh laughingly told me that whatever happened the Jews would lose out, because either the rockets would be fired at them or, if they attacked the camp, international public opinion would condemn them for the civilian deaths. These people have not the slightest interest in the Lebanese civilian population; they use them as shields and, when dead, as propaganda. As long as Hezbollah are there, there will be no peace."
Emphasis mine. The question isn't why would Hezbollah do this - they're the Condor Legion of Iran's Islamofascist movement, with all of the murderous death-wish behaviour such allegiances to fascism always entail. The question is why so many in the West, mostly but not exclusively on the Left, would work so hard to make this evil so profitable for them.
The image below is from Google Earth, of the south Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil (Bint Jubayl).
I've included the snapshot because this is currently the site of intense "close quarter" fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah, covered by Stratfor in this podcast. Stratfor presents the conflict as a trigger for a critical debate beginning in Israel. The "internal debate" concerns whether Israel has the fortitude to continue fighting under conditions where its forces sustain heavy casualties. It's ironic, in some ways, that Bint Jbeil is the locus of such a "bloody angle", because the town has prospered during peace, rapidly developing into a small city and commercial/administrative center. It even has its own website here. The text is in Arabic, but there's an English version here. The large red iconic letters introducing the town to the world send the message: "Resisting!"
This is how small towns in the age of the Terror War are likely to present themselves, if their culture is what the philosopher and sociologist, Ernest Gellner, called "charismatic." These places have the promise of economic growth and prosperity that could create a middle class, and a substrate for civil society and democracy, but they've "resisted" that fate in favor of another.
Where Israel stuggles with the hot dilemma that a legal/rational society endures when faced with horrible sacrifice in a war it would prefer never to fight, Bint Jbeil (a city whose name literally means "daughter of byblos") has a self-image, lodged in its deepest heart, of a miniature Stalingrad.