Monthly Archives: December 2003

Happy Western New Year

Happy New Year to all.
May this up-comming year see more people liberated from bondage, more tyrannies fallen, and more chances at negotiation between age-old enemies. May the Liberal, sane, Left retake control of the intellectual aristocracy from those who are best categorized as “loopy,” may Universities across the country start paying attention to the education their students are recieving by politicized professors in the classrooms, and may the citizens of the democratic peoples of the world shake off the yoke of UN bureaucratic autocracy and move towards creating a democratic union of states that enforces those same human rights at the basis of the charter of the current international system.
And may we all have a bit more fun.

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French Ban on Head Scarves

While the grand sheik of Al Azhar, Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, has issued a fatwa allowing for Muslims in France to go without head scarves if France so decides, I completely agree with Terry Eastland of the Weekly Standard who says that the US should lobby France not to go through with it. Quoting Eastland,

“The cause of religious freedom is worth our pressing–especially for two reasons. The first is that religious liberty often involves other liberties, such as those of assembly and expression. They are, as Hanford said, “the seedbed of democratic development.” To the extent we promote religious freedom, we also are promoting democracy. And–the second reason–to the extent there are more democracies, there will be fewer state patrons of terrorism, fewer places where terrorists can train and organize.
Advancing religious liberty internationally isn’t easy, nor is progress guaranteed. But the world will be in America’s debt to the extent that our efforts expand the number of nations in which freedom of conscience is honored and protected.”

Exactly.

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Saddam’s WMDs

Sometimes I wish the WMD issue would simply pass, as people of both sides of the debate would realize that intelligence is based on a loosely gathered amount of hints, and that the fact of Western powers selling WMD to Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war and before the first gulf war is enough to make one assume he still had them.
And the fact that the French helped Saddam build Osiraq and train Iraqi scientists in the art of building the bomb.
But it hasn’t, as people still drudge up the fact that WMDs have not been found to make an argument against the war.
So, for those people, here is an article by Ibrahim al-Marashi on How Iraq Conceals and Obtains its Weapons of Mass Destruction. Enjoy.

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Fence Fighters’ Fiasco

I am a bit ambivalent regarding the fence incident, when protestors, who tried to cut down the fence Israel is building to separate between the Jewish State and the Palestinian proto-State, were shot.
I do agree that any unlawful and “impure” use of arms should be quickly punished, and, as a former soldier in the IDF who had his share of trials, I am sure that the military courts will mete out a fine punishment if that is the case.
But I do not think the soldiers were completely wrong. When the story is told from the protestor’s perspective it seems that they were totally in the right–but think about the soldiers and their duty: some Palestinian factions have been known to use civilian cover as a means of protection when launching their attacks, so it is not unconceivable to think that these factions could employ unarmed “front guards” who planned on martyrdom, which would then be followed by waves of suicide bombers through the hole in the fence.
This is no less ruthless than murdering a bus-load of kids, and therefore no less probable.
It is sad that the protestors could not find a different way to express their frustration–but in actively attempting to cut down the fence, they were directly threatening the security of the soldiers and the security of the citizens of the State of Israel who could have been murdered by suicide bombers.
If, on the other hand, there were no suicide bombers or Palestinian violence, and the conflict was truly as black and white as some in Ha’aretz and the loopy left would have us believe, then such protest would be appropriate, and I would fully support it. Yet another reason for the Palestinians to stop their campaign of violence.

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On Israeli Democracy

Haaretz has published a troubling editorial on Israeli Democracy on the retreat, saying that less Israeli citizens believe that democracy is the best form of government than ever before.
Coupled with an article by Caroline Glick in The Jerusalem Post, on Israeli academia, a pattern emerges: Israelis are taught to think that their government is bad, and thereby either damn the system itself, yearning for strong leaders to clean up the mess.
In truth, the Israeli political system does deserve blame for its unattractive portrayal of democracy. A single-district list-system parliamentary government, Israel certainly does not have a tradition of representation which is key to successful democracy. No member of Israel’s Knesset can truly say that he or she represents Israeli citizens from one group or area or another, because they are not picked directly by the people, but are accorded places on a list.
This means that regional leaders or mayors have no national power, and no-one looking out for their constituents’ interests in the highest body of Israel’s democracy. Coupled with the security threat, which would make any government look bad, the unrepresentativeness of the system is leading to a loss of faith amongst the peoples.
We cannot allow this to occur. Even under fire, Israelis should rethink the Israeli political system to make it more representative and responsive to the will of the people. Citizens should feel that they have someone in Knesset who is looking out for them and their interests, and not only scrounging for money for his or her interest group.
Until serious reform is carried out in Israel, and a constitution is set to guide the political process and protect civil liberties, the Israeli people will continue to loose faith in the process of democracy.

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Last Samurai

Just saw the Last Samurai, and was struck by the complexity of it’s criticism of cultural imperialism.
More about it later. But the thing that really got me thinking was the inherent racism of thinking that America is forcing its values on other cultures. The Japanese elites could have decided to slow down modernization, but they decided not to. America just opened the door, they took the step.

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Hi Libya

I’m not sure what to make of Libya’s pre-emptive surrender, as William Safire terms it.
Yes, it does mean that the odd-ball of the Middle East is looking for a way back into the international community, and that is good. But it also means that the International community has to accept Qaddafi’s rule, and de facto legitimize his policies. And that’s a problem, because the rational behind Bush’s push for democratization, in theory, is the idea of a democratic peace based on democratized states.
So while does, for the most part, vindicate the Bush administration’s anti-terrorism policy–do you really think that this would have happened without the war on Iraq?–it’s not enough.
I think the US should take no prisoners. The US should only accept unilateral surrender. It should create a dictator’s protection program for those tyrants who want out, but precondition surrender to the relinquishing of power.
Why would this work? Because dictator’s love their lives more than they love oppressing their people, and if America is perceived to be making good on its promises for regime change, they’ll seek to save their lives in any which way they can.

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