Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Hurricane Katrina is headed directly for the city of New Orleans. Katrina is a Category 5 storm, the worst possible, and if the cable news networks are to be believed, the city may be virtually uninhabitable for weeks if not months. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of New Orleans and the other affected areas.
There will undoubtedly be a huge need for private donations and other forms of assistance. The American Red Cross is one place where people can offer help. I will post additional links as they become available.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Apologies for the lack of posts, it's been a busy week. Fortunately, I did at least have the opportunity to watch the two-part documentary Inside 9/11 on the National Geographic Channel. The first two hours were an excellent overview of how the jihadist threat was allowed to metastasize over the course of the 1990's. Watching it should make clear that this will be a long war and that eliminating bin Laden, as desirable as that is, will not end it.
It is the second two hours, however, that are the most powerful. It is almost impossible to describe the emotions I felt as I witnessed the sights and sounds of 9/11. The events of that day are something every American should remember, and yet all too many of us have already forgotten.
National Geographic Channel is hosting an encore presentation of Inside 9/11 on Friday, August 26. The program will be shown in its entirety from 7-11 PM EDT, and 8 PM-12 AM PDT. I cannot recommend watching it strongly enough.
Monday, August 22, 2005
The Cuban Crackdown
Fidel Castro's brutal suppression of intellectual freedom is merely one aspect of a broader campaign by the Cuban regime against any open dissent. Courtesy of NRO's Corner, the New York Sun had a great editorial today that gives an overview of the repression. The encouraging thing is that there is evidence that this time, repression may not be enough:
Since July 22, 50 opponents of the regime have been arrested, of whom 15 remain in jail, including Mr. Gomez Manzano. Seventy-five dissidents were arrested in 2003; 61 of them are still behind bars. The government has launched a campaign of intimidation against other leaders. For example, a crowd of pro-government thugs recently surrounded the house of Vladimiro Roca for several hours, hurling invective at him as they tried to block an anti-government meeting.
Mr. Castro has managed to weather many storms during his 46-year reign, but there's hope that this time might be different. "I think we are at the tipping point," a senior program manager at Freedom House, Xavier Utset, told the Sun. The dissident movement is gaining ground, Mr. Utset said. The movement is developing into a full-blown civil society that is less afraid of the government, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, Stephen Johnson, said.
The regime also is fraying at the edges in more serious ways than ever before, a former staff member of the National Security Council, Otto Reich, told the Sun. A 15-year downward economic spiral triggered by the end of Soviet support is sinking the country further into poverty and stagnation, and aid from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela isn't nearly enough to solve the problem. Hurricane Dennis wreaked havoc on a Cuban infrastructure that was already crumbling.
It is only a matter of time before the Cuban people finally rid themselves of Fidel Castro and his Caribbean brand of Stalinism. The sooner, the better.
Apologism Gone Wild
The last four years have seen all too many in the West seek any excuse for the barbarism of radical Islamists, because the alternative of admitting that we are in a long-term struggle with an implacable foe is simply too much for them to bear. Marcus at Harry's Place, however, seems to have discovered the most ridiculous example yet of such apologetics:
Sir, I turned teetotal having seen, as a barrister, many lives destroyed by alcohol: those of both otherwise law-abiding citizens, who committed acts of violence when drunk, and their victims.
Like Judge Charles Harris, QC, and the Council of Her Majesty’s Circuit Judges (report, August 10), my many Muslim friends also see large-scale loutish alcoholism, and the society which permits it, as decadent.
Allowing pubs to open round the clock will increase Muslim disaffection and support for those fighting such decadence. Extended drinking hours may cause more terrorism.
Yes, by all means, let's ban extended drinking, and while we're at it, force scantily clad women into burkhas and outlaw anything else that might conceivably offend Islamist sensibilities. After all, they're perfectly justified in turning to terrorism if we offend them. In fact, let's just adopt Sharia and be done with it.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
The Sheehan Circus
I've been debating about what to write on the Cindy Sheehan media circus, but Mr. Ronald R. Griffin has said everything that needs to be said:
I lost a son in Iraq and Cindy Sheehan does not speak for me.
Please read the rest:
She Does Not Speak for Me
Friday, August 19, 2005
Speaking Out on Book Burning in Cuba
Courtesy of Tim Blair, comes this column by Nat Hentoff, who has been resolute in his opposition to Fidel Castro's brutal suppression of intellectual freedom. The highlight of the article is Hentoff's description of his discussion with author Ray Bradbury, among whose works is the famous novel of a future society where books are regularly burned, Fahrenheit 451:
We were talking about Fidel Castro's recurring crackdowns on those remarkably courageous Cubans who keep working to bring democracy to that grim island where dissenters, including independent librarians, are locked in cages, often for 20 or more years. Bradbury knew about the crackdowns, but until I told him, was not aware of Castro's kangaroo courts (while sentencing the "subversives") often ordering the burning of the independent libraries they raid, just like in "451."
For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Antonio Valdes Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: "As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness." Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message from him to Fidel Castro: "I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate.
"I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people."
Among the books destroyed through the years by Fidel's arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution, and even a book by the late Jose Marti, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.
Hentoff ends his column with a suggestion that I hope more librarians will pursue:
...There is one librarian who is very concerned with Castro's crackdowns of conscience, free speech and the freedom to read. Robert Boyce at the reference department in Lincoln City Libraries in Lincoln, Neb., tells me that he hopes to adopt a suggestion I made in previous writings on Castro: Every fall, libraries across America display — during Banned Books Week — actual volumes that have been banned. Why not include books banned by Castro?
Boyce writes: "We are going to be putting together a very small display of banned books for the fall of 2005 Nebraska Library Association Conference in late September," and he wants to include some titles forbidden in official Cuba libraries.
This will be a significant reaching out to Cuba's imprisoned librarians by an individual American library state association — the first time it's happened. Yet, the national Governing Council of the American Library Association continues to refuse to ask Castro to release the independent librarians in his prisons. Admirers of Castro on that governing body have blocked that clear support of the freedom to read — the very credo of the ALA.
There is little I can add to Hentoff's apt summary of ALA Council's hypocrisy on this issue.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
The Lessons of Algeria
Last week, journalist Amir Taheri wrote a Wall Street Journal column that is a must read for everyone who believes that the terrorists in Iraq cannot be defeated. As Taheri reminds us, the nation of Algeria has defeated a terrorist insurgency even more vicious than the one in Iraq:
Algeria was one of the first Muslim nations hit by jihadist terror. The first attack came in 1984 when a gang led by Mustafa Bouyali raided a police post outside Algiers, killing four gendarmes. By 1990, terror groups were openly recruiting and training "volunteers for martyrdom" in several Algerian cities while the military-led government continued to believe that it could use the Islamists against democratic and leftist opponents. By 1992, Algeria faced a full-scale terrorist war that at times included set battles between the army and armed insurgents.
By March 1994, many believed that Algeria was lost to the Islamists. French President François Mitterrand publicly indicated his readiness to work with an Islamist regime in Algiers. "The rebels could arrive at the capital at any time now," a senior French diplomat told me as we dined in a deserted Hotel Al-Jazayer. He also revealed that Paris had worked out an emergency plan to cope with the arrival of "thousands of boat people" fleeing the Islamist rule.
History, however, is never written in advance. At the darkest moment, some Algerians decided to fight back. More than a decade and some 150,000 deaths later, Algeria has won its war against the most vicious terrorist movement the Muslim world has witnessed in recent times.
It is not just that Algeria was able to defeat the jihadists that is of interest: it's how they did it that is directly relevant to Iraq:
The "big idea" that could break the back of Islamist terror was dimuqratieh (democracy). The process started at the end of 1995 with the first pluralist presidential elections in Algeria's history and has since been followed with six more presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections. To be sure, none of those elections met Western standards. But the exercise has helped foster a culture of democracy that is absent in most other Arab countries. In every election the share of candidates identified with various brands of Islamism has declined, dropping to 1% in last year's presidential election. Algeria's new constitution, inspired in part by Turkey's secular experience, forbids the use of religion as a political ideology.
Clearly, there are differences between Iraq and Algeria. The former has much more ethnic and sectarian conflict. In addition, the terrorist insurgency in Iraq is comprised of Baathist holdouts, criminals, and tribal elements as well as jihadists. There are no quick and easy strategies for defeating it. Still, the experience of Algeria shows that democracy and pluralism can ultimately overcome terrorism. However imperfect the new Iraqi constitution and government might be, they offer Iraq and the region a far more hopeful vision than anything put forth by Zarqawi and the Baathists. As long as America has the courage to stay the course, the terrorist insurgency will be defeated.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
FDD has a Blog
Iraq: What the Media Isn't Telling You
Arthur Chrenkoff's latest roundup of the last two weeks of vastly underreported progress in Iraq is now available. Once again, Arthur dispels the media's ridiculous notion that Iraq is nothing but car bombs and chaos. Despite all the violence and other problems, the outlines of a decent, pluralist society are beginning to emerge:
'The Terrorists and the Media'
Yesterday, Deroy Murdock offered a terrific summary of the "good news" side of the Iraq story for National Review Online:
The journalists’ maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads,” prevails. Major news outlets correctly focus on the depressing consequences of the Improvised Explosive Devices and car bombs responsible for 70 percent of July’s U.S. military fatalities in Iraq. Terrorist assassinations of civil servants and police officers obviously deserve coverage. But it honors neither America’s soldiers nor Iraq’s selfless patriots to overlook the achievements they share in this new republic.
Good News, Bleeding to Get Out
As Austin Bay recently noted, even the New York Times and Associated Press have now begun to acknowledge the one-sided nature of most of the coverage coming from Iraq.
The point is not that "bad news" from Iraq should not be covered. There is all too much of this, and it is an essential part of the story. However, it is not the entire story. The goal of American policy in Iraq is to create a democratic, pluralist state and society that will serve to counter the culture of dictatorship, xenophobia, and fanaticism that produced radical Islamism and the 9/11 atrocities. This is obviously a long-term objective, and the challenges are enormous. The goal of the Baathist/jihadist terrorist insurgency is to prevent such a new Iraq from taking root. The fact that, for all the difficulties, we are indeed making progress in reconstructing Iraq is essential to understanding the full story. This is why a balanced approach to reporting on Iraq that puts events into context is vital.
Monday, August 15, 2005
What is an American?
Jim Hake from Spirit of America forwarded this item to me yesterday. Plenty of bloggers have already linked to it, but it's such a good read it's worth one more. At a time when defeatism is in fashion, and the radical left seems to be making headway in their effort to make the War on Radical Islamism into another Vietnam, this is exactly the kind of piece that needs to be read:
You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.
So an Australian dentist wrote the following to let everyone know what an American is... so they would know when they found one. (Good on ya, mate!!!!)
To Kill an American
Sunday, August 14, 2005
An Open Letter on Cuban Libraries
I recently received an e-mail from Robert Kent of Friends of Cuban Libraries, containing an open letter to the international library community. I am republishing it here with his permission:
Below is a message sent to the IFLA-L listserv in response to an assertion that IFLA's 2001 report on Cuba was able to provide undisputed facts regarding the situation in that country. Sadly, it is becoming ever more apparent that Cuban government officials have engaged in a systematic effort to deceive the international library community with regard to the intense repression and censorship in Cuba.
It is often difficult and painful to realize that we have been deceived, but respect for newly revealed facts can require us to revise our conclusions and take appropriate action. In the words of the Castro government itself, as revealed in secret court documents leaked to the outside world (see below for details), there can no longer be any doubt that the Cuban government is seizing and/or BURNING thousands of library books, including many titles which were shown to IFLA/FAIFE researchers in 2001 in a deceitful effort to conceal Cuba's fierce repression and censorship.
This unpleasant truth can no longer be denied, and IFLA's credibility will be severely damaged unless we in the international library community take principled action in defense of Cuba's persecuted independent librarians and their historic challenge to censorship. A new resolution on Cuba will be introduced by a number of library associations at the Oslo conference, and passage of this resolution will be a key test of IFLA's principled and unbiased commitment to intellectual freedom as a universal human right.
Co-chair, The Friends of Cuban Libraries
In a message dated 7/20/05 11:30:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
(E-mail address deleted-DD) writes:
> They [i.e., IFLA researchers who visited Cuba in 2001] conducted a
> investigation among print associations and government officials....
It appears that (Name deleted-DD) may be unaware of the facts with regard to the persecution of Cuba's independent librarians and the growing support within IFLA for a resolution on this subject at the Oslo conference. The groundswell of support within IFLA for a resolution on Cuba was strengthened by Ray Bradbury's June 27 statement condemning the repression of Cuban librarians and demanding the liberation of those now serving long prison terms; the imprisoned Cuban librarians have been adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty
International. (http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45050) As more members of IFLA are beginning to realize, the IFLA research team sent to Havana in 2001 was systematically deceived by government officials in an effort to cover up Cuba's pervasive censorship and repression. This reality, unpleasant as it may be, will be addressed by a number of library associations which will introduce a resolution on Cuba at the Oslo conference .
> When discussing the issue of banned books with key figures of the
> Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), it was indicated that for
> reasons Infante, Manach and Are�as do not want their works published
Cuba's official library system is modeled on the system of the former Soviet Union. Cuban citizens, as were the Russian people in the old Soviet Union, are routinely denied access to books which criticize the regime. Access to forbidden books, kept locked away in special closed areas of the official libraries, is restricted to a few "trustworthy" readers such as reporters for the government-run press.
As awareness grows of the secret court documents detailing the 2003 trials of Cuban librarians, which were smuggled off the island and published on the Internet, it is becoming generally known that books which Cuban officials claim are freely available to the public are actually being confiscated from the independent libraries and burned by court order. To read just some of these shocking Cuban court documents ordering the burning of thousands of library books, see the following URLs of the librarians' trials:
> They [i.e., Cuba's official librarians] also said that the alleged
unavailability of Orwell's works is a myth; on
> the contrary, the National Library is preparing an Orwell exhibition
What totalitarian regime would allow its citizens to read the works of Orwell? This absurd claim is just another example of the systematic deception carried out by Cuba's official librarians during interviews with IFLA researchers in 2001. In actual fact, Orwell's classic books, as revealed by the leaked court documents detailing the 2003 trial of librarian Omar Pernet Hernandez, are regarded as "subversive" by the Cuban regime. In the words of the Cuban government, as stated during the trial of Omar Pernet Hernandez, the secret police "carried out a search of his house and confiscated a great quantity of subversive materials... [T]o list all of them would make this sentence interminable..." One of the "subversive" book titles listed in this court document is Orwell's "Animal Farm." So much for the Cuban government's mendacious claim that Orwell's books are available to the public in Havana's National Library, or anywhere else in Cuba for that matter.
Defenders of the Cuban government would like to forget the fact that in 1999 IFLA issued a report which confirmed and vigorously condemned the persecution of Cuba's independent librarians (http://www.ifla.org/faife/faife/cubarepo.htm). For reasons which remain unclear, this report has never been the subject of a resolution by an IFLA conference, and further confusion was caused by the Cuban regime's temporarily successful effort to deceive the IFLA researchers who visited Havana in 2001. Now that the truth of Cuba's grim reality is becoming better known, a number of national library associations attending the 2005 IFLA conference intend to correct this injustice by introducing a resolution to condemn the Castro regime's systematic persecution of Cuba's independent librarians.
Co-chair, the Friends of Cuban Libraries
Hollywood and the War
Many have wondered why Hollywood has yet to make many movies concerning the War on Radical Islamism. This finally seems to be changing, as Jason Apuzzo noted earlier this week. Unfortunately, the old cliche about being careful what you wish for immediately comes to mind:
Here's the pitch: with box-office numbers trending down, studio executives are suddenly greenlighting movies they can describe to shareholders as 'controversial' or 'timely.' Whether the films are anti-American or otherwise demoralizing to the war effort is apparently immaterial. Its appetite whetted by "Fahrenheit 9/11"'s $222 million worldwide gross, Hollywood thinks it's found a formula for both financial security and critical plaudits: noxious anti-American storylines, bathed in the warm glow of star power.
Some of the upcoming films on Jason's list have to be seen to be believed. As noted above, Fahrenheit 9/11 set the trend. While Moore's juvenile agitprop thankfully proved unsuccessful in altering the outcome of last year's election (or at least not in the way he intended), Callimachus at Winds of Change points out the film's overseas impact:
How ironic is it that the most significant piece of Hollywood propaganda produced in this current war is lauded by the people who would burn Hollywood to ash and sow its soil with salt if they had the chance? The religious authorities in Iran scrapped the scheduled program at the Farabi Cinema complex in Tehran to put Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" on display. "This film unmasks the Great Satan America," a spokesman said. "It tells Muslim people why they are right in hating America. It is the duty of every believer to see [this film] and learn the truth."
Callimachus notes the tragic irony that Moore uses many of the same techniques employed by Frank Capra for his Why We Fight documentaries during World War II. The main difference, of course, is that Capra worked in support of America's war effort, but Moore seeks actively to undermine it. Unfortunately, in contemporary Hollywood national self-loathing is what sells.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
A Very Unhappy Birthday
Unfortunately for the people of Cuba, today was Fidel Castro's 79th birthday. On Friday, some of the Cuban dictator's thugs and lackeys decided to "celebrate" in a manner that undoubtedly met with the "Maximum Leader's" approval:
Supporters of President Fidel Castro staged angry demonstrations outside the homes of two dissidents on Friday in response to the Cuban leader's call to block opposition activity.
About 100 people chanted "Fidel, Fidel" outside the home of leading dissident Vladimiro Roca and prevented members of his Todos Unidos (All United) opposition group from entering the house for a meeting.
The angry crowd accused Roca of being a "mercenary" on the payroll of the U.S. government and shouted "lackey" and "worm," frequent epithets for opponents of Cuba's Communist government.
"The only meeting here is ours," Juan Laguna, a 70-year-old Communist Party militant. Speakers heckled Roca from a microphone and speaker set up across the street for the rally, which was organized by party officials using walkie-talkies.
"This is like a fascist lynching from the days of Hitler and Mussolini," said Roca, the son on a founding father of Cuban Communism and a former MiG pilot turned Castro critic.
A second counterdemonstration prevented fellow dissident Leon Padron from leaving his home to attend the meeting. The crowd sang happy birthday to Castro, who will be 79 on Saturday.
Those who are always shrieking about the alleged "crushing of dissent" under the horrible Bushitler need only glance 90 miles south of Florida to see what actual dictatorship looks like.
Listening to the Islamists
As usual, Dr. Victor Davis Hanson has produced a must-read column:
Throughout this war we have an understandable, if ethnocentric, habit of ignoring what our enemies actually say. Instead we chatter on, don’t listen, and in self-absorbed fashion impart our own motives for their hatred. We live on the principles of the Enlightenment and so worship our god Reason, thus assuming that even our adversaries accept such rational protocols as their own.
So they talk on and on of beheading, suicide bombing, another holocaust, and blowing thousands of us up, while we snooze, now and again waking in the midst of a war to regurgitate Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, flushed Korans, the abusive Patriot Act, and the latest quip of Donald Rumsfeld.
But again keep quiet, and listen to radical Islam.
Keep Quiet And Listen!
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Afghanistan: "Positive Sum"
This week brought a bit of bittersweet news as Arthur Chrenkoff announced that he will be giving up blogging in a few weeks at the behest of his new employer. While I'm happy for Arthur and wish him full success in his new job, he will definitely be missed in the blogosphere.
In the meantime, Arthur's still doing his invaluable "good news" updates on Iraq and Afghanistan. Today he produced his latest monthly progress report on the latter:
(also available at Chrenkoff and Winds of Change)
Monday, August 08, 2005
Monday WOC Updates
Sunday, August 07, 2005
"The Least Abhorrent Choice": The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb
Saturday marked the 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. The use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki claimed the lives of an estimated 200,000 Japanese, mostly, though not entirely, civilians. It was a horrific end to the most horrific war in history. It introduced the world to the terrors of the nuclear era. The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have become favorite talking points for those who hate America. Even Osama bin Laden has referenced them. So was the decision to use the atomic bomb morally and politically justifiable? Absolutely.
The main argument made against the use of the atomic bomb is that it was unnecessary as Japan was already looking to surrender. This was most definitely not the case. As historian Richard B. Frank has shown, the militarist Japanese regime was seeking "not only the preservation of the imperial system, but also preservation of the old order in Japan that had launched a war of aggression that killed 17 million." Allowing that system to survive would have meant abandoning the longstanding allied policy of unconditional surrender. More importantly, it would have allowed the architects of Pearl Harbor, the Bataan Death March, Rape of Nanking, Sook Ching Massacre, and Unit 731 to retain power and even proclaim victory over the decadent United States. This would have made a mockery of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, and set the stage for a second Pacific war.
The goal of the Japanese regime was to break America's will to fight by making any attempted invasion of Japan into an unimaginable bloodbath. The Japanese had massed hundreds of thousands of troops on the island of Kyushu to confront the expected American attack. They had assembled over 10,000 planes, half of which were intended for use as suicide bombs (kamikazes). The militarists even mobilized the bulk of the civilian population. Women and teenagers were given bamboo spears with orders to fight to the death. Considering that the Japanese had killed over 12,000 Americans during the battle for Okinawa in mid-1945, including 5,000 sailors killed by kamikazes, their hopes of turning the planned US invasion of the home islands into a horrific slaughter were well-founded.
It was the use of the atomic bomb that compelled Japan to surrender. As Frank has shown, the militarists wanted to fight on even after Nagasaki and the Soviet entry into the war against Japan. It took an unprecedented personal intervention by Emperor Hirohito to produce Japan's surrender. Hirohito explicitly cited the atomic bomb as one of the reasons for his decision. Even then, Army officers staged a coup that almost prevented the Emperor's surrender message from being broadcast.
By forcing Japan's surrender, the atomic bomb actually saved lives. Every day that the Pacific War continued more people on both sides perished. As author and WWII veteran Paul Fussell pointed out in his seminal essay "Thank God for the Atom Bomb" (link in PDF; see also Austin Bay), Americans were still dying in large numbers even in August 1945. Historians have estimated that 250,000 to 400,000 Asian civilians died every month in areas occupied by the Japanese. Allied military and civilian POWs held by the Japanese in barbarous conditions were dying every day, and would have been massacred had Japan been invaded. One out of every three Americans taken prisoner by the Japanese died in captivity. The comparable figure for those held by the Germans was one in ten. Finally, as noted above, American and allied casualties resulting from an invasion of Japan would have almost certainly reached six figures.
Ironically, the atomic bomb even saved Japanese lives. An estimated 200,000 Japanese, military and civilian, were killed on Okinawa. In the event of a battle in the Japanese home islands, the Japanese death toll would surely have exceeded a million. Even worse, by late 1945 Japan was on the brink of starvation. Had the US not invaded the home islands and merely continued its blockade and air campaign, historians such as Frank estimate that as many as a million Japanese would have starved to death. Even had this compelled a Japanese surrender, it would have been too late to avert the famine.
Finally, the Soviet factor has to be remembered. On August 8th, 1945 the USSR attacked Japanese forces in Manchuria and Korea. Thanks to Japan's quick surrender, the Soviets were kept out of Japan proper. Had Stalinism come to the Japanese home islands, the human toll would likely have exceeded that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (This does not mean that the atomic bombs were dropped as a warning to the Soviets, as the "Atomic Diplomacy" school has argued. Historians such as Frank and Robert Maddox have thoroughly debunked this argument.)
Finally, when weighing the decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan, one needs to remember the overall context of the Pacific War. The war stemmed from a series of Japanese aggressions, starting with the occupation of Manchuria in 1931, to the invasion of China proper in 1937, and finally the conquest of Indochina (Vietnam) in 1940-41. The US had imposed economic sanctions in an effort to force the Japanese to withdraw from China and Indochina, including an oil embargo. Japan's response was Pearl Harbor.
World War II in the Pacific was waged with the utmost viciousness, by both sides. Still, the Japanese made it a point to behave barbarously towards all their adversaries, military and civilian, American, European and Asian. When the Japanese captured the then Chinese capital of Nanking in December 1937, they massacred an estimated 200,000 people. This was just one of many such atrocities carried out by the Japanese armed forces during WWII.
Contrary to popular wisdom, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the only time that Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) were employed during WWII. The Japanese had used biological and chemical weapons on numerous occasions in China. Tens of thousands of Chinese, possibly as many as 200,000, died as a result. In addition, Japan had its own atomic weapons program, that only a lack of resources prevented from coming to fruition. Had the Japanese militarists succeeded in developing atomic weapons, they would have had no hesitation in using them.
As horrific as the use of the atomic bomb was, it was the best course of action available to the Truman Administration at the time. An invasion of Japan would have produced the most terrible bloodbath in the history of warfare, with the combined death toll running into the millions. Relying on naval blockade and air bombardment would have created a famine that claimed far more lives than even the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Settling for a deal that left the militarists in power would have consigned the Japanese people to remain under the yoke of a brutal, fanatical regime that had led their country to the brink of destruction and was willing to sacrifice them by the millions to remain in power. Alternately, it would have resulted in a Soviet invasion and occupation of Japan with all the attendant horrors of Stalinism.
Considering the circumstances that existed in August 1945, it is clear that employing the atomic bomb was indeed, in the words of Secretary of War Henry Stimson, "the least abhorrent choice" available.
Saturday, August 06, 2005
The Neoconservative Revolution
With all of the infantile conspiracy theories put forth regarding neoconservatives, writings that accurately describe the "neocon" worldview are invaluable. One such essay is Charles Krauthammer's piece from the July/August 2005 issue of Commentary:
The post-cold-war era has seen a remarkable ideological experiment: over the last fifteen years, each of the three major American schools of foreign policy—realism, liberal internationalism, and neoconservatism—has taken its turn at running things. (A fourth school, isolationism, has a long pedigree, but has yet to recover from Pearl Harbor and probably never will; it remains a minor source of dissidence with no chance of becoming a governing ideology.) There is much to be learned from this unusual and unplanned experiment.
The Neoconservative Convergence
(Reprinted by Frontpage Magazine)
Friday, August 05, 2005
Political Correctness Run Amok
It's good to know that the NCAA has its priorities in order. Having presided over the development of men's Division I football and basketball into corrupt billion dollar industries that make a mockery of "amateurism", the NCAA has decided to take action on a much more serious matter: banning Native American mascots from NCAA postseason tournaments:
Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1, said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.
"What each institution decides to do is really its own business" outside NCAA championship events, Harrison said.
"What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition," he added.
At least 18 schools have mascots the NCAA deem "hostile or abusive," including Florida State's Seminole and Illinois' Illini.
This decision is the embodiment of politically correct illogic and hypocrisy. Why isn't Notre Dame's "Fighting Irish" moniker considered "hostile or abusive", for example? What about the Michigan State Spartans or USC Trojans? Shouldn't Greeks be offended by those two nicknames?
Florida State, whose Seminole mascot is approved by the Florida Seminole tribe, plans on taking the NCAA to court. I, for one, hope they succeed in having this bit of idiotic censorship overturned.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Remembering Steven Vincent
Here are just a handful of the many blog posts and essays dedicated to the memory of Steven Vincent:
Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online: FreedomÂs Reporter
Chrenkoff: Steve Vincent
Belmont Club: Stephen Vincent
Mudville Gazette: And Then There were None
Again, this is just a small sample of what those far more eloquent than myself have had to say about Steven's murder. As all of these pieces make clear, Steven was a brilliant writer and truth-teller. He believed firmly in the necessity of fostering democratic change in the Middle East as the best way to defeat the Islamist barbarians who brought so much death and destruction to his native New York. As such, the best way to honor Steven and his memory, in my view, is through circulating his writings. Here is where you can find them:
In the Red Zone
-Steven's blog where he wrote about his experiences in Iraq and views on the Middle East. Has information on his book of the same name about post-Saddam Iraq.
National Review Online
-Contains a list of many of the articles Steven wrote for NRO. In particular, the five articles from December 2004 provide valuable insights into the cultural and psychological underpinnings of the Iraqi insurgency. His recent articles from Basra are also well worth reading. Sadly, the last one appeared on the day Steven was murdered.
Times of London: Guilty: how the Brits allowed Islamic extremists to hijack the police in Iraq
-An op-ed piece originally published in Sunday's New York Times on how the hands-off attitude of British authorities has allowed extreme Shia religious groups to engage in corruption and criminality in Basra. It is likely that one or more of these extremist parties was behind Steven's murder.
Finally, I must recommend this December 2004 interview with Frontpage Magazine. Steven's views on moral clarity, the destructive influence of tribal beliefs and practices on Islam, and the vital importance of pushing for the rights of women in Muslim societies are all worth reading.
Steven's family has asked that anyone interested in donating in his memory please do so through Spirit of America.
RIP Steven. You will be missed.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
A Terrible Day
I awoke this morning only to find out two horrible pieces of news from Iraq:
-In Haditha, 14 Marines and an Iraqi translator were killed in a terrorist IED attack. Haditha, in the western Euphrates river valley, sits astride one of the major routes along which jihadists smuggle men and material into the country. Twenty Marines have now been killed there in the last two days. Closing these routes is a vital task, but as today's events show, it will be difficult and costly. My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and comrades of the fallen Marines.
-Steven Vincent, the freelance journalist and author of In the Red Zone, was murdered last night in the Iraqi city of Basra. I never met Steven, nor corresponded with him directly, but I feel like I got to know him somewhat through his writings. His recent reporting from Basra was brilliant, illustrating both the potential and the pitfalls inherent in post-Saddam Iraq. In particular, Steven exposed the growing and disturbing role of extreme Shia religious parties in Basra, and how this threatens both the rights of women, and Iraq's democratic prospects.
Steven was a brave man and terrific writer, and he will be missed terribly. Once again, I can only offer my condolences to his loved ones, and hope that the bastards who murdered him are brought to justice.
Steven's Iraqi translator was seriously wounded in the attack, and I extend her my hopes and prayers for a full recovery.
Van Gogh Update
Mohammed Bouyeri, the jihadist fanatic who murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, was sentenced last week to life in prison for his crime. The following statement uttered by Bouyeri during the trial tells you far more than anything I can write:
I was motivated by the law that commands me to cut off the head of anyone who insults Allah and his prophet.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is why there can be no compromise with radical Islamism.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Librarians on Screen
Norm Geras has an entertaining post in which he links to Martin Raish's web site Librarians in the Movies. Norm describes the site as follows:
Martin has four lists, encompassing some 550 librarian movies: someone clearly identifying himself, herself or some other character as a librarian; a library as setting; a librarian or library mentioned in passing; and suspected librarian movies, but yet to be seen by the compiler. There's also a list of the people who have portrayed librarians; it includes Arthur Loft and Amanda Ooms.
I'm not really big on watching movies just because libraries or librarians are mentioned in them, though I have enjoyed a few over the years. My favorite librarian movie is definitely Party Girl. It's quite hilarious, especially when Parker Posey proclaims at the end "I want to be a librarian!" Another good one is Foul Play, where Goldie Hawn's librarian teams up with Chevy Chase to foil an assassination attempt against the Pope. Ironically, this movie was scheduled to be shown on CBS the same week that Mehmet Ali Agca shot John Paul II, and so had to be rescheduled. Finally, philistine product of the 80's that I am, I have to mention Ghostbusters, whose opening sequence was set at the main branch of the New York Public Library.
McClay for ALA!
Greg McClay of Shush is running for ALA Council in 2006. Council could badly use some diverse perspectives, and Greg has been at the forefront of fighting the left-wing politicization that has been enveloping ALA and librarianship in general. If you're a librarian and in ALA, please give him your support.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Iraq: "The Battle to Rebuild"
Time again for Arthur Chrenkoff's thorough roundup of the previous two weeks' progress in Iraq:
A war for the future of Iraq is going on, but that war is being fought not only with guns and explosives. Terrorists and insurgents are killing soldiers and civilians and sabotaging infrastructure, and the Iraqi and coalition security forces in turn are hunting down the enemies of the new Iraq. But every step towards self-government, every new job created, every new school opened, is a small victory against those who would want to turn Iraq's clock back three--or 1,300--years. Below are some of these stories that often get lost in the fog and smoke of war.
The Battle to Rebuild