When you're right you're right
Thursday, February 23, 2006
  Liberty endangered at Harvard University
They finally got Larry Summers. After a short and controversial tenure as president of the world's most prestigious university--Hardvard University, that is--Larry Summers is stepping down. His resignation will be effective at the end of this semester, and he will return to the classroom to teach.

Summers has a distinguished history. He entered MIT at the age of sixteen, and went on to Harvard to earn his doctorate. At the age of twenty-eight, Summers became one of Harvard's youngest ever tenured professors. He has taught at both Harvard and MIT. He was the World Bank's chief economist from 1991 to 1993 and served a short stint as Bill Clinton's last Secretary of the Treasury. Check a twenty dollar bill from the tail end of the Clinton years (1999 to 2001), and you will see Summers's signature in the righthand corner.

Since ascending to the position of university president, Summers has been a lightning rod of controversy. When faculty members on campus pushed a campaign to divest from Israel, Summers commented that the faculty members were being "anti-Semetic, in effect, if not in intent." He railed against rampant grade inflation, favored the return of a campus ROTC program that had been expelled from the campus at the height of the Vietnam War, supported global free trade, and criticized America's second most famous academic, Cornell West, of spending too much time composing "rap music". West was not, of course, recording rap music, but rather spoken word poetry. In other words, his viewpoints were moderate to conservative, but way out in right field from the perspective of the ultra-liberal Cambridge crowd.

But nothing got him in more trouble than his comments about women in the fields of science and engineering. His theory about the lack of women in these fields was three-prong. First, the lack of women in these fields is due in large part to the same factor that handicaps the careers of women in just about every other field--women have babies. That's a career killer. Secondly, he believed that women might just be less skilled as men when it comes to these fields, and third, that socialization and discrimination were also at play, though to a lesser degree than the first two factors. Points one and three were hardly controversial. In fact, they're what the feminists have been saying for years. Point two--that women might not be suited to science and engineering--caused a firestorm that nearly burned Harvard down.

His exact words are as follows: "So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination." (Emphasis added).

At the risk of sounding like a chauvanist, I have to agree with Dr. Summers on this point. Outside the ivy walls of Harvard, most reasonable people accept that men and women are different. Both have strengths and weaknesses. This doesn't make women worse than men, or men worse than women, but simply complimentary to each other. I see this when I look at my mother and father--each knows the other's area of expertise.

But don't tell this to the die-hard feminists. They believe that the only reason that men outpace women in the fields of science and engineering is because little girls are brought up to believe that those fields are not for women. It's really all socialization, you see. The real explanation for the lack of women in these fields has to do with how we, as a society, raise our children--little boys wear blue and play with trucks, little girls wear pink and play with Barbie. Boys are raised to be NASA scientists, girls are raised to be housewives.

I'm not buying it. There are real differences between men and women, and they aren't all the result of socialization. But feminists are clever--their theory is almost entirely impossible to disprove. So long as some people in our society (that would be, normal people) continue to believe that there are real differences between the sexes, the Left will always have the argument that all differences can be attributed to gender socialization, and not to gender itself. How convenient...

Well, if rigid gender are roles are to blame for the lack of women in the fields of science and engineering, then I guess the same could be said for the fields in which women outperform men. In case you were wondering, those fields include just about every other subject other than science and engineering. Women do better in English, foreign langauge, and social sciences. Women are more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to attend college, and more likely to graduate from college. Women are more likely to graduate at the top of their classes. Here at the University of Freiburg (Germany), women outnumber men in every one of my courses, sometimes by as many as three to one. In short, women perform better than men on just about everything, with the exception of math and science. Feminists conclude from this, that there must be an institutional bias against women in education. Give me a break.

This does not mean that girls interested in science should not pursue an education in that field, if that's what they really want. There are exceptions to every rule, and I'm sure that there are some women who do quite well with quantum physics and string theory. More power to them.

But exceptions to the rule are just that--exceptions. So long as they are the exceptions, we can't expect that women will make up a proportional part of the engineering departments at top universities. All of the feminist moaning and affirmative action programs in the world won't change that.

But, to be sure, the whole Summers saga really had less to do with gender equality than it had to do with the climate of small-mindedness on American campuses. Our great institutions of learning no longer value opinions that run contrary to established "politically correct" cathechisms.

An ideal university should be a place of learning, where ideas clash and great minds debate, regardless of whose feelings get hurt. It should be a place where students and faculty can pursue ideas wherever the ideas might lead them. It should not be a place in which some ideas are deemed heresy, simply because intolerant campus leftists can't stomach them. George Orwell, esteemed author of 1984 and Animal Farm put it best when he said "If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

Liberty is in danger on our college campuses today. When Dr. Summers gave his famous speech last year, MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins walked out of the conference. She told reporters that if she hadn't, she "would have either blacked out or thrown up." I have some advice for Professor Hopkins. Maybe she should find a new career. After all, if the voicing of an alternative opinion brings her to the brink of vomiting and losing consciousness, she ought not be a scientist or a professor. Both fields require people with open minds, who do not have intense emotional reactions to theories not to their liking. Hopkins continued, saying: "When he started talking about innate differences in aptitude between men and women, I just couldn't breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill."

No, President Summers doesn't have the bias here. If Professor Hopkins wants to talk about bias, she ought to look in the mirror. She dismisses out of hand all ideas that clash with her own feminism. As a citizen, she can hold whatever opinion she wants. As a scientist and educator at America's most prestigious engineering institute, she should check her feminism at the door. Unfortunately, all too often, educators like Nancy Hopkins don't know how to do that.

The problem is much bigger, of course, than Harvard University. My own University of Massachusetts has serious problems with openness of speech and thought. If you're a card-carrying leftist, you will never have to worry about being silenced. But if you're moderate to right-wing, as I am, expect to be greeted with hostility and even university disciplinary actions for speaking your mind. At very least, it will take a lot of courage, and some students would just prefer to remain silent than to be accused of racism, sexism, war-mongering, and genocide.

All of this is old news, of course. Summers made his "outrageous" statements last January, and has spent the last year fighting to keep his position and to manage a school that has become unmanageable. On March 15, 2005, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed a vote of "lack of confidence" in President Larry Summers. This was a non-binding resolution, due to the fact that only the seven member board of the Harvard Corporation has the authority to fire a university president. However, this did not bode well for the embattled Larry Summers.

Summers does enjoy some campus support. Among undergraduates, for example, only 19% believed that he should resign. Most of the pressure seemed to have come from the faculty, who voted "lack of confidence" in March 2005. 218 in were in favor of the resolution, but a respectable 185 were against it. Steven Pinker, a noted psychologist and Harvard professor, was asked if Summers's comments were "within the pale of legitimate academic discourse." His response? "Good grief, shouldn’t everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse?... There is certainly enough evidence for the hypothesis to be taken seriously."

On February 22, 2006, Summers announced his resignation. To be sure, Summers was not fired for his views. He was simply railroaded into "voluntarily" stepping down from his post. If only he had refered to the the victims of 9/11 as "Little Eichmanns" he might have the solid support of the academic community. Unfortunately, he does not.

Summers's ideas, which seemed pretty rational to low-brow folks such as myself, were rejected repeatedly by Harvard faculty members. For Summers, it cost him his job. For Harvard, it cost them a brilliant and capable president. I chalk it up to university intolerance, a disease that has infected most institutions of higher learning since before I was born.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
  "UN Denies War on Terror Exists"
I was in The Daily Collegian this morning. Man, I guess I really need to proofread my stuff better. But anyway, I wrote an article called "UN Denies War on Terror Exists". Read it here:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
  The twin fascists: Roosevelt and Lincoln
The title of The Guardian's article is "War on Civil Liberties", and it represents one of a plethora of left-leanining articles concerning our War on Terror and its effect on the civil liberties that we hold dear.

Its subtitle is "The US refuses to either charge or free those suspected of terrorism. Edward Helmore on why lawyers are crying foul." I guess I shouldn't be surprised--The Guardian is the UK's premiere left-wing publication. In their worldview, it is George W. Bush, not international terrorism, that is the primary threat to the world we know today.

If you read The Guardian enough--or Harper's Weekly, The Nation, The New York Times, Newsweek or just about any publication that is owned and operated by dyed-in-the-wool lefties--you might think that President George W. Bush has waged an unprecedented and entirely illegal war against our constitutionally-protected civil liberties. Of course, you would be wrong.

Civil liberties in the United States today are not in jeopardy. You can still protest the war, distribute anti-war literature, teach anti-Americanism at top universities, camp out outside of the presidential ranch (Cindy Sheehan), call the president a "fascist", lie about the war, make foney "documentary" films that are purposely dishonest from beginning to end (Michael Moore), prevent military recruiters and ROTC programs from operating on college campuses, travel to Iraq prior to the war to meet with Ba'athist leaders (Sean Penn) and invent specious legal arguments to tie up our war effort in the court system (the ACLU). You can even compare our troops to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings,". In fact, the last of these despicable acts was committed on the floor of the US Senate by a certain Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

No, by all objective measures, this war is being fought with a degree of tolerance almost unheard of in American history. In any other war prior to Vietnam, Cindy Sheehan, Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Dick Durbin would all be in jail right now. So would most of my college professors and most journalists. But they're not in jail. Instead, they're shouting from the rooftops that they're being persecuted by the fascist Cheney-Halliburton regime.

Tony Blankley explores the curtialment of civil liberties during the Second World War in his new book, The West's Last Chance. One chapter in particular, entitled "Saving Democracy 1940's Style" deals specifically with the methods used by the Roosevelt Administration to silence, censor, spy, imprison, and propogandize.

Tony Blankley firmly believes that we should be fighting the current War on Terror "1940's Style". For the record, I do not. But it is interesting to look back at what was commonly accepted during a time of war, and which few people would criticize, because they recognized the dangers of the Axis powers. To this day, I believe that most Americans don't believe that Roosevelt should have fought the Second World War the way that the ACLU seems to want to fight this one. If we had, we might all be speaking German today.

Blankley writes,

I understand that many people do not believe America is any great jeopardy. I have made my case for the presence of an existential threat that hangs over our future as a nation and a civilization. In this chapter, I simply want to describe the lengths America was prepared to go to during World War II, when there was a common concensus that the nation was truly in danger. Britain, having no bill of rights, went even further.

During World War II, hundreds of Hollywood's top actors, directors, and producers volunteered their talents to the government to make propoganda films. These directors were not independent artists; their work was closely supervised by government agents. Originally, their intent was to whip up the troops, but eventually most of these films would be shown on the homefront as well. As scholar Paul Fussell wrote about World War II, "The various outlets of popular culture behaved almost entirely as if they were creatures of their governments...they spoke with one voice."

It's hard to imagine any Hollywood director doing the same thing today. If it were ever discovered, in the year 2006, that the government was employing directors to make proganda films, there would be screeches of terror that George W. Bush is approximately equivalent to Joseph Göbbels.

On December 8, 1941, one day after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and America's subsequent entrance into the war, Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted FBI director J. Edgar Hoover the authority to control all communications going into, or out of, the United States.

By February, these guidelines had become more specific. The Office of Censorship (Office of Censorship!) released "Press Codes" (Press Codes!) on February 20, 1942. For the duration of the war, all journalists would be forbidden to report on:
1. Reports of air raids
2. The civil, military, industrial, financial, or economic plans of the United States or its allies
3. Criticism of equipment, appearance, physical condition or morale of the armed forces of the United States or any of its allies
4. Any other matter...which might directly or indirectly bring aid or comfort to the enemy , or which might interfere with the national effort, or disparage the foreign relations of the United States or any anti-Axis nations.

Clearly, this is an incredibly broad statute. Remember the endless saga of Abu Ghraib? Wouldn't have happened in World War II. Any editor or reporter who reported on it would have been tried and convicted under the Press Codes. What about the constant (and intentionally misleading) reports of soldiers without body armor? That would fall under rule three of the Press Codes: criticism of equipment. And the term "bring aid and comfort to the enemy" contained in rule four could be interpreted to mean just about everything that the "anti-war" movement has done since September 11, 2001.

Remember Ronald Reagan's comment about Walter Cronkite's coverage of the Tet Offensive? After the Vietnamese communists' major attack on all American fronts, Walter "The Most Trusted Man in America" Cronkite reported that "we are mired in stalemate", and concluded that the war was unwinnable. Just like most journalists I've ever met, he didn't let the truth get in his way. The Tet Offensive was a major military victory for US forces. Yes, we were caught by surprise and took casualties. But when the Vietnamese staged their attack, they were fighting our war. Rather than slinking around in the jungle--a strategy that proved effective most of the time--they decided to stand toe to toe with the United States. It didn't work out well for the communists, and they took tremendous casualties. The Viet Cong, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist from that day forward.

Ronald Reagan later commented that Cronkite would have been arrested on charges of treason, if he were held to standards of World War II. And he was a hundred percent right, as well. Note rule four of the Press Codes: "Any other matter...which might directly or indirectly bring aid or comfort to the enemy , or which might interfere with the national effort..." Clearly, if anyone was "comforted" by Cronkite's demoralizing statements to the American public, it was Ho Chi Mihn and his friends in Beijing and Moscow.

Another interesting footnote to the Press Codes was this tidbit: "The spread of rumors in such a way that they will be accepted as fact will render aid and comfort to the enemy...Equal caution should be used in handling so-called atrocity stories." (Emphasis added).

Other attemps to gag dissenting voices included censoring Social Justice, the newspaper of the notorioulsly anti-Semetic Father Coughlin. The newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party was banned out right. 500,000 pieces of private mail were intercepted and held. The Treasury Department confiscated any publication that was suspected of receiving funds from hostile sources.

The scope of the FBI's domestic surveillance program included, according to then-Attornery General Robert Jackson, "steady surveillance over individuals and groups within the United States...which are ready to give assistance or encouragement in any form to invading or opposing ideologies."

During the World War II, President Roosevelt authorized the use of warrantless wiretaps, surreptitious entries, and secretly intercepting and reading private mail without the consent of the addressee. If suspected of disloyalty, naturalized citizens could be stripped of citizenship and deported. And of course, as is well known, there was the internment of Japanese-Americans out of fear that they might sabotage the war effort or give secret signals to the Japanese navy off the coast. Perhaps lesser known--because it was less common, and usually done only to those who warranted some suspicion--is the detention of Italian-Americans and German-Americans. In all, the number of German- and Italian-Americans, either interned or deported, is about fourteen thousand.

The Smith Act of 1940 outlawed sedition, making it a crime to knowingly advocate, abet, advise, or teach the duty, necessity, desireability, or propriety of overthrowing the government by force, or to cavort with any organization that did so. Granted, this was passed in 1940--before the American entrance into World War II--but it was done against the backdrop of the Second World War, which began in 1939. Nonethless, it remained in effect throughout the war.

But if Roosevelt's policies seem like an affront to civil liberties, you only have to look eighty years prior to find a president with even less tolerance for dissent. I'm talking about the man on the five dollar bill--Abraham Lincoln. His execution of the Civil War was even fiercer than Roosevelt's execution of World War II.

Lincoln's main resistance to the war on the homefront were the "Copperheads". The Copperheads were northern Democrats who sympathized with the Confederacy and thought that the best course of action was to allow the Southern States to seccede. The term "Copperhead" was given to them by their Republican opponents, but they called themselves "Peace Democrats" instead. Geez...where have heard that term before?

These "Peace Democrats" might better have been called "Sedition Democrats", because that's exactly what they were. They resisted the draft laws and occasionally plotted with agents of the Confederecy to plot insurrections. They called for immediate peace negotiations with Richmond. They encouraged Union soldiers to desert. They denounced the Lincoln Administration for granting wartime contracts to corporations for high profits. They criticized every aspect of Lincoln's wartime policies and accused him of flagrantly violating the Constitution. So you see, not much has changed in the Democratic Party over the last one hundred and forty years. These were the Cindy Sheehans and Ramsey Clarks of the Lincoln era.

Lincoln came down hard on the Copperheads. One of his generals in the field, General Ambrose Burnside declared in his General Order Number 38, "the habit of declaring sympathies for the enemy [would] no longer be tolerated."

Lincoln declared martial law and suspended habeus corpus in Maryland and certain parts of Indiana, an effort obviously aimed at the Copperheads. Lincoln's suspension of habeus corpus seems to be in harmony with the Constitution, which declares that "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." Certainly, "rebellion" was exactly what the South was doing, and exactly what the Copperheads were aiding the enemy in doing.

Throughout the war, Lincoln's federal government round up, and held without trial, thousands of dissenters on no other grounds than that they were dissenting. He ordered federal troops to New York City to put down the mostly-Irish draft riots of 1863. In fact, battle-weary troops who had been previously fighting at Gettysburg were sent in to suppress the rioters.

Lincoln put his feelings most bluntly when he declared, "Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged." I assure you, if President Lincoln were our president today, half of the Democratic Party would be at the gallows.

Certainly, I don't agree with President Lincoln. I would have handled things quite differently if I had been the president, but I want to underscore the fact that nothing the current administration is doing to win the War on Terror is unprecedented or particularly brutal. The hippies are in the streets protesting, while screaming at the top of their lungs that you can't protest anymore in Bush's fascist America. Malarky--this is nothing more than "pacifist" groups playing the victim card in order to discredit Bush and the War on Terror. Historically ignorant as they are, they don't realize that Bush's execution of this war is quite mild. Let's take a look at some of the so-called "violations of civil liberties" that we've heard so much about.

First, there are the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, "held without trial" and "in violation of the Geneva Convention". This issue is, of course, what got The Guardian all upset in the first place. Edward Helmore writes, "Despite George Bush's and US attorney general John Ashcroft's binary world view of friend and foe, many post-September 11 detainees live in a shadow world, denied the full measure of US constitutional rights, and held in custody under a system that will never release nor charge them." You musn't expect a leftist to know anything about the US Constitution--that living breathing document--and it's even more absurd to think that a British leftist (and I assume Mr. Helmore is British) would know anything about the US Constitution.

Yes, the Constitution does say that criminals cannot be held indefinitely without a trial. Of course, the animals down in Guantanamo are not criminals; they're unlawful enemy combatants. If these people had been car thieves caught on the streets of Cleveland, then the liberals might have a case. But they're not--they're members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Imagine if every Japanese, German, and Italian soldier had had an ACLU lawyer during World War II. Imagine that he demanded a trial by jury, in which he was given every one of the "rights of the accused" that our American justice system grants. Now imagine that we have to call American soldiers back from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific to testify that, yes indeed, this is the particular nazi that surrendered to Alpha Company six months ago. And then imagine that he has to be proven guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, by a twelve-person jury of his "peers"--likely German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and Japanese-Americans. Now imagine that every soldier who was found "not guilty" or simply escaped because of a hung jury or legal technicality, can now return to his homeland and--more than likely--go right back to shooting at Americans.

That is exactly the kind of insanity that the Left proposes that we do today. Even more ridiculous is that they act as if trials for combatants were standard procedure among civilized nations until George W. Bush came along and arrogantly suspended the Constitution. The Guardian writes,
The Washington Post noted that Hamdi's case jeopardizes the essential protection of the justice system: that citizens who can't be charged must be released. "This is a dangerous step...the indefinite detention of American citizends with no charge and no public legal justification is unacceptable," the paper warned.
More great unbiased reporting from The Washington Post. But of course, they're wrong again--regardless of his citizenship, Hamdi is not a common criminal does not have a right to a trial under the law. He can just sit down there in Guantanamo with all of the other terrorists until the end of the War on Terror. That may be a very, very, long time, but I really don't care.

When liberals aren't trying to secure undeserved constitutional rights for terrorists, they're trying to shove the Geneva Convention down our throats. Once again, it is inapplicable. The protections of the Geneva Convention apply to combatants who meet the following criteria: they must belong to an organized army with a fixed insignia recognizable at a distance, they must have a superior officer who is accountable for their behavior, and they must wear a uniform. The terrorists at Guantanamo fit none of these criteria, and are thus not protected by the Geneva Convention. Sorry, but they won't be getting their eight Swiss Francs guaranteed to them under the Geneva Conventions.

So liberals are wrong on both points. They want the lunatics we captured in Afghanistan to have all the rights of the US Constitution and the Geneva Convention, when in fact they're covered by neither. Clearly, there is no violation of anyone's "civil liberties" here.

Other civil liberties "violations" frequently cited by liberals are contained in USA Patriot Act. One provision allows law enforcement to look through the email of private citizens and another allows them to look at library records to see what books a person may have checked out.

The email provision is a little tricky. Obviously, there was no such thing as email when the Bill of Rights was written in 1789. For the record, the pertinent amendment in this situation if the Fourth, which reads "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrant issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

There is some wiggle room in the Fourth Amendment. First, it is harldy an "unreasonable" search to snoop through the email of a suspected al-Qaeda leader. Second, this is once again, clearly aimed at common criminals, not hostile terror organizations that have committed acts of war against us. Our current conflict is not a mere matter of law enforcement, and people who are plotting terrorist attacks in the United States, as agents of foreign terrorist organizations--perhaps even funded by foreign governments--are a different matter than busting a drug cartel or a prostitution ring. Even if the liberals are correct on this one--that this is a real violation of civil liberties--their outrage is still a little over the top. To say that the US is becoming a "police state" because the FBI is reading al-Qaeda's hotmail is a bit of an exaggeration. If they're really so concerned about it, then let's amend the USA Patriot Act and get back to the business of hunting terrorists. Sadly, I fear that this is a sly attempt, draped in the flag and under the guise of "civil liberties", to undermine the War on Terror.

The Left provides an even weaker case when it comes to library books. So law enforcement agencies can find out if a certain person has been checking out books on crop-dusting or biological warfare agents--so what? I'm not sure why that's a violation of anyone's civil liberties. After all, the books themselves do not belong to the person checking them out, but rather to the library. Similarly, the library records are also the property of the library, and the library is a government institution. It would be like saying that the government can't look at the records of the government. This particular "civil liberties" violation does not hold water.

And the examples go on. In most cases, the "civil libertarian" Left doesn't have a leg to stand on. Their assertions are ignorant, foney, and contrived. At very least, they are nominal violations of civil liberties that have been violated by other "fascistic" presidents, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
  The Hammadi-Osthoff Connection
When I went to see Angela Merkel speak at Freiburg's Münsterplatz, I liked what I heard. I believed that the then-candidate for the German Chancellory was different. In any case, she had to be better than the alternative--the reigning Gerhard Schröder.

A few days after I saw Dr. Merkel speak, elections were held in Germany. After a few weeks of haggling between the parties, they hammered out a compromise and Dr. Merkel became Germany's first female chancellor.

Chancellor Merkel has let me down twice, and she hasn't even been in office three months.

My first disappointment was the way in which she handled the Susanne Osthoff affair. Susanne Osthoff is a German-born archeologist who had been working in Iraq since 1991. She is fluent in Arabic, has converted to Islam, has married a Jordanian man, and sometimes wears the traditional clothing required of women in certain sects of Islam. During the summer of 2005, Susanne Osthoff received threats that she would be abducted, and the German Embassy advised her to leave the country immediately. She disregarded the embassy's advice and remained in Iraq. On November 25, 2005, she was abducted by a shadowy group of terrorists, possibly related to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

I can attest to the fact that this was big news in Germany, because I live here. During the period of captivity, every development in the Osthoff affair was frontpage news. As the situation unfolded, public outcry demanded that the Chancellor Merkel do whatever it takes to obtain Osthoff's release. Merkel played tough, telling reporters that she would not be "blackmailed" over Susanne Osthoff's release.

I know what I would have done if I had been chancellor. I would have let Ostohoff sit right there with her captors. What else should Germany do? Give into the demands of the terrorists? The terrorists had demanded that the German government cut off all relations and support for the new Iraqi government. This would include halting the police training that the German government has been conducting with Iraqi recruits. In my opinion, this is out of the question. This is an obvious attempt to strip away all outside support for the newly blossomed Iraqi government, so that it will become weak and ripe for the kill.

This argument does not hold water with the German people. They routinely blame the United States--not terrorists--for the various abduction dramas that have occurred in Iraq since the 2003 liberation. Also, they aren't particularly worried if the new Iraq survives or not; sometimes I think they'd get a real sense of schadenfreude out of seeing it fail. That would teach that cowboy Bush a lesson or two. In any case, they don't believe that it justifies the loss of a single German life to achieve the goal of Iraqi democracy and stabilty--even if that one life belongs to a bizarrely naive woman who sympathized with her captors and remained in Iraq when she should have known better.

A German envoy obtained the release of Susanne Osthoff on December 18, 2005. The German government refuses to talk about its dealings with Osthoff's captors. Was there a ransom? Did they concede to their demands?

Despite the silence of the government, there are a few things we know. We know that Germany has ceased training Iraqi police recruits, just as the terrorists demanded. Even more disturbing, there may have been a ransom involved. The German magazine Focus reported that there was a ransom, and that part of that ransom (estimated at five million US Dollars) was found in Osthoff's clothes as she showered at the German embassy in Iraq, immediately after her release.

I'm not sure if I believe this report. Considering the German goverment's tight lips on the whole affair, the only source for this remains a single report from a German magazine. I don't know if I trust this single report or not. I guess it comes down to whether or not I find Focus to be a reputable source. While Focus may not be a supermarket tabloid, it is a German news publication, and I am always suspect of any type of "news" coming from a country that considers Stern and Der Spiegel to be accurate, unbiased, and bereft of any type of agenda.

Nonetheless, this does not seem to fit the mold of a typical German news story that goes out of its way to make the United States look bad. It strips away Osthoff's aura of victimhood and makes all the German moaning and wailing about her abduction seem silly.

But if it is true, then we know two things. First, Susanne Osthoff was not "kidnapped". She was involved in an elaborate conspiracy to aid the enemies of the new Iraq, and she made herself quite rich in the process. Assuming the story is true, Osthoff is laughing her way all the way to the bank right now. We also know that the German government was blackmailed, despite the new Chancelor's tough talk.

If I could ask Chancellor Merkel just one question, it would be this--what do you suppose these psycopaths are going to do with that money? I'll tell you what they're going to do--they're going to go on a five million dollar weapons shopping spree. The German government could have cut out the middle-man and just paid them in Kalashnikovs and C4 explosives. Once these lunatics have armed themselves to the teeth, they're going to use these weapons to kill Americans, Iraqis, and anyone else who gets in their way. So the next time you hear about a young GI killed by roadside bomb in Tikrit, you should pull out your best stationary and write Chancellor Merkel a nice thank-you note.

This is what really grates me about the German reaction to the Osthoff affair. They assumed a stance of absolute moral rectitude, declaring that the value of a single human life was so important that the German government should do whatever it takes to free Susanne Osthoff. What they don't realize, or pretend not to realize, is that they have inevitably made the situation worse. The terrorists will repeat this stunt until they are convinced that doing so is useless. And in the event that they paid a ransom for her release--and I suspect that they did--then we can be sure that the life of Susanne Osthoff was bought with the blood of American and Iraqi soldiers. More death will come of this, not less. If only the Germans could be so concerned about the lives of 2,260 of my countrymen as they are about one of theirs. Oh yes, they'll say that they're deeply concerned about dead Americans; so concerned that they want an immediate withdrawl from Iraq. But failing that, they see no problem with paying Iraqi terrorists five million dollars.

Interstingly enough, the very same day that Osthoff walked free, another person gained his freedom. His name is Mohammed Ali Hammadi, and he had previously been serving out a life sentence at a German penitentiary for the murder of an American Naval diver, Robert Stethem. As it turns out, his "life sentence" was less than eighteen years. Hamadi returned to his native Lebanon, and I'm sure we will hear from him again.

On June 15, 1985 Petty Officer Stethem was on a commercial flight from Greece, when armed men from the Hezbollah terrorist organization hijacked the airplane. They demanded the release of four hundred thirty five terrorists from Israeli jails. When the terrorists discovered that Stethem was in the US military, he was singled out for particular abuse. He was beaten to a pulp, shot in the head, and dumped out on the runway after the airplane had landed in Beirut.

Hammadi managed to evade the law until 1987, when German police caught him in Frankfurt with liquid explosives. Unwilling to turn Hammadi over to US authorities for fear that he might be executed, the German government decided to put him on trial in their court system. He was found guilty and given a "life" sentence.

Fast-forward to December 2005. Hammadi is walking free again, and the Stethem family is not happy. They wrote a letter to President Bush rebuking him for not doing enough to persuade Germany that they cannot release a monster like Hammadi. Robert Stethem's brother, Kenneth Stethem, wrote, "You have truly said that 'We are in a fight for our principles, and our responsibility is to live by them.' Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them... I hope that his example, and the example of the other heroes like him, can inspire you to understand why allowing Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong." Well said, but I must insist that Bush did not "allow" Germany to release Hammadi. Nonetheless, he could have made it a lot bigger stink about it, and still remained diplomatic. Germany, not the United States, is responsible for this perversion of justice.

Kenneth Stethem's letter to President Bush goes on, "Justice was not done. Robert was not honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and Hezbollah." Of course. And Hammadi will strike again. So much for the German respect for human life that led them to oppose his extradition to the United States on the grounds that he might be executed.

The connection between the two events of December 18, 2005--the twin releases of Susanne Osthoff and Mohammed Ali Hammadi--are just too fishy to be a coincidence. I normally don't engage in conspiracy theories; I demand a higher standard of evidence. I despise people who whip up any self-serving conspiracy theory to explain a set of likely unrelated events at the drop of a hat. That's black-helicopter stuff, and I leave it to Michael Moore and Oliver Stone. But this one is just too bizarre to ignore. I'm almost entirely convinced that a deal was cut. Germany traded five million dollars, an end to police training in Iraq, and the release of a despicable terrorist for the release of Osthoff (who may never have been technically "kidnapped" in the first place). I'm sure it worked out well for Merkel's political career--the situation was a political disaster and she had to do something--but it was a slap in the face to just about everyone else in the world. The only people who benefited here are Iraqi terrorists, Hezbollah terrorists, Angela Merkel, and probably a very wealthy Susanne Osthoff. The rest of the planet got a raw deal.

On the amazingly slim chance that the German denials are true, and these two events are completely unrelated, I can't explain why Hommadi was released. For no reason at all? Out of the mercy of their hearts? Because it was his birthday? Why? How did a life sentence suddenly morph into an eighteen year sentence? Even if there is no Hammadi-Osthoff connection, I still cannot forgive the German government for doing what they did. They released a dangerous terrorist back to his den in Lebanon, and they want us to believe that America has no greater ally in the War on Terror. I'm not buying it.

It was no secret that Merkel's predecessor--Gerhard Schröder--was no ally in the War on Terror either. He made pretenses about it, of course, but he was slippy as an eel. I had hoped that Chancellor Merkel would be different. She is not. In the end, I fear we may have to go it alone.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
  Hot off the press
I was in the newspaper this morning, writing about these Danish cartoons that have created such a stir.


It's like nine hundred words. Short.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
  The Left's Rohrschach inkblot test
Seeing the world through the eyes of the Left must really be frightening. Everywhere they look, they see a diabolical plot--no doubt involving John Ashcroft, Halliburton, and the Project for the New American Century--waiting to spring upon the world and ruin all progress made in the pursuit of "social justice".

Thankfully, I don't see the world through left-wing eyes. Amazingly though, liberals/leftists don't believe that they see the world with any type of "eyes" at all. They claim that what they're seeing is just objective truth, nothing more.

But it isn't objective truth. It's a political Rohrschach inkblot test--the Left always seems to see what it is preconditioned to see. The conclusions they draw from observing world events tells us little about the events themselves, but instead speaks volumes as to what's going on inside their heads.

My favorite example of this comes from my very own University of Massachusetts, home of every type of liberal lunatic you can think of. I mean really, they outdo themselves.

Prior to 1972, the mascot of our university was the Redman, but this became offensive to American Indian students (or should I say to white liberals, when you consider that we have about three non-wannabe Indians on the whole campus), so old Red had to go. Fine. His replacement was a chap we like to call the Minuteman, a perfectly suitable mascot. He's a proud, handsome devil, and he represents Massachusetts history. I'd even go as far as to say that the Minuteman is the superior mascot. According to UMass's own website:
Uniquely linked with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, UMass Amherst's mascot was selected in 1972. Once known as Aggies and later Redmen, Massachusetts athletic teams became Minutemen and Minutewomen in the early 1970s. More than a mascot, the name reflects the Commonwealth’s historic role in the American Revolution when colonial militia (armed citizens) turned out to fight the British at a minute's notice.
But even the Minuteman didn't pass the test for foaming-at-the-mouth campus Leftists. After years of complaing that the Redman was a racist caricature that stereotyped American Indians as violent, they then complained that the Minuteman is exclusionary because he is a white male, and he glorifies militarism because he is a soldier.

Think about that for a moment. The Redman was insulting to American Indians, but the Minuteman is a glorification of whiteness and maleness above all others. And the Redman's propensity for violence was an unfair stereotype, while the Mintuteman's musket was a glorification of militarism.

I could just as easily make the reverse argument. The Redman was exclusionary because he was a minority and his bloodlust was a glorification of militarism. The Minuteman, on the other hand, was an unfair steretype of white males as war-mongers. Sound silly? Not one iota more silly then the arguments the Left presents.

The point is that the campus Left saw in each of the mascots only what it wanted to see. The perceived racism, sexism, and militarism is entirely within the minds of angry liberals. The offenses they cried out against were not contained in the mascots themselves, and that's why switching mascots did nothing to silence their persistant temper tantrums.

Or what about leftists's constant comparison between situations in which the US military interceeded, and situations in which they did not intercede? Talk to a leftist (not a liberal, in this particular situation) for a while, and you will find out that the only places we should have interceded are where we didn't, and everywhere we did intercede was an "illegal war" and a "war crime".

In the 1990's, leftists (again, not liberals, and you will see why later) charged America with racism because of the way we handled two seperate incidents of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. We sent troops to Bosnia, but not to Rwanda. The conclusion the Left draws from this, of course, is that America's insidiously racist nature led it to ignore the ethnic cleansing of blacks, but lept to action to stop the ethnic cleansing of whites. Again, the United States doesn't give a damn if one group of blacks kills another, because we'd really like to see them all dead in the first place.

Indeed, there are some pertinent facts that should be taken into consideration when looking at these two very different incidents happening in two seperate areas of the globe. First of all, the US military only arrived in Bosnia after persistent begging from European nations whose weak militaries were unable to handle the situation in their sphere of influence by themselves. Admittedly, our "allies" (and I use the term loosely) in Europe are white. Our allies in Africa are pretty much nonexistent. The Soviets stacked Africa with legions of dictators during the 1970's and 1980's , and not surprisingly, they aren't fond of the United States.

Another reason not to get involved in Rwanda is because we shouldn't have to. Africa has traditionally been a part of the French sphere of influence. It's their mess, they can clean it up. Actually, France did intervene in Rwanda--on the side of the Hutu aggressors, not on the side of the Tutsis, who made up the vast majority of the 800,000 killed. As Dore Gold writes in The Tower of Babble:

Paris had twice previously dispatched paratroopers to protect Rwanda's Hutu dominated government, and remarkably the bloodbath in Rwanda did not change France's pro-Hutu orientation. On April 27, in the midst of the massacare, French President Francois Mitterand hosted two Hutu militants who belonged to extremist organizations...According to French political scientist advising the French ministry of defense, Gerard Prunier, the French government was secretly delivering arms and supplies to the Rwandan Army in order to save its Hutu allies. Additional reports indicated that in mid-June 1994, the French helped Rwandans smuggle arms supplies in from Zaire. The French officially denied all charges.

Of course they denied it. And they never took any money from Saddam Hussein either.

There is significant room here for cricism of the United States as well. As party to the UN Genocide Convention, the US is required to intervene militarily in any country where the UN has determined genocide to exist. As members of the UN, the US simply decided that the attrocities in Rwanda did not rise to the level of genocide, and we voted against it. We didn't want to get involved in a tiny central African country. The UN didn't declare genocide in Rwanda until the killing was over, and by then it was too late. In September 1998, Jean-Paul Akayesu and Jean Kambanda, two Rwandan leaders, were found guilty of genocide. Too little, too late. The people were already dead.

So indeed you could accuse the United States (and the Clinton Administration) of callous disregard for the horrors of Rwanda. But only if you believe that mass murder warrants military intervention. Leftists do not. If they did, they would have supported the War in Iraq. If they did, they would have supported the Vietnam War. If they did, they would have supported the war (yes, war) in Kosovo.

You might think that the policy of the Left is one of isolationism. There are some legitimate arguments in support of isolationism, namely that the United States can't be the "world policeman" and shouldn't try to be. Isolationists believe that our current interventionist behavior only wastes our resources, particularly our most important resource--our young people. Isolationists will also argue that we tend to do more harm than good when we try to rescue people all over the world. For these reasons, they believe in "guns at the shore, and nothing more." Our military should only exist for the purpose of defending our homeland directly from a foreign invader. Unless the Chinese are rolling their tanks down the Sunset Strip, we mind our own business. I'm not an isolationist, but can respect these arguments.

But as you will notice, in the case of Rwanda, the Left was infuriated that we didn't intervene. So they're not isolationists, they just wait for America to act (or not act) and immediately come to the other side.

I can imagine what would have happened if we had intervened militarily in Rwanda. Hutu militants would not have put down their weapons peacefully. They would have shot at our soldiers, and our soldiers would have shot back. We usually call that a war--albeit a quick and relatively clean one. I have no doubt that we could have taken the country in a few days, with a relatively low body count.

But the Left would be irritated once again that we only ever kill people of color. The fact that we would have been saving people of color would have been irrelevant. Our quick and easy miltary victory would lead to accusations of "bullying"; we only attacked Rwanda because they're small and weak. On the other hand, if it had lasted more than about three weeks, (not likely, but it's every Leftist's dream) it would have been called "a quagmire". Furthermore, we would have been accused of continuing the "cycle of violence". Hutus have been killing Tutsis, and Tutsis have been killing Hutus since the time of Belgian colonization. By coming to the side of the Tutsis, we would be doing nothing more than propelling the "cycle of violence" forward.

Also, Leftists would seize upon the past sins of the Tutsis in attempt to portray the United States as "propping up a dictatorship". And there are plenty of sins; the Belgians established a heirarchal racial system when they took Rwanda over from Germany in 1916. The Tutsis, though a smaller group than the Hutus, became a buffer class that the Belgians used to keep the majority under control. Since decolonization, power has gone back and forth between the two groups, and plenty of blood has been spilled on both sides. The Tutsi population is guilty of some pretty heinous things as well, though nothing rising to the level of the 1994 Rwandan massacares. We would be accused of being complicitly guilty of Tuti crimes, and essentially "making a deal with the devil".

So it's really a no-win situation. Whether or not we intervene, the Left is going to project its anti-Americanism onto the inkblot. The situation is irrelevant, it's the pattern of thought inside the Leftist's head that matters.

Herein we find the key difference between liberals and leftists. Liberals would not have made a peep about a war in Rwanda, because liberals only hate America when a Republican is president. Clinton would have used the "peacekeeping" euphamism, and the liberals would have bought it. Still, the Left--and I mean the hard Left, the Chomskyites, the Wobblies, the anarchists, the Trotskyists, the ISO types, the crowds from Win Without War and International A.N.S.W.E.R--would have cried foul.

It comes back to the awful contradiciton of war. There is no such thing as a pure "peacekeeping mission". You can't say that "I'm in favor of military intervention to save people, but not to kill people", because saving people always involves killing people. We didn't liberate the concentration camps until we had bombed the rest of Europe into the Stone Age, and it couldn't have happened any other way. Some people died so that others may live.

The comparison between Rwanda and Bosnia would soon be replaced by the comparison between Rwanda and Iraq. I've heard this one a thousand times. "If the US is so concerned with saving innocent Iraqis, why weren't they worried about innocent Rwandans?"

Good question, but it was actually rhetorical. The Leftists have already answered it for me. The answer is oil. Of course we intervened to "save" Iraqis. Iraq has oil. But Rwanda has no such valuable resources, so we let them all die.

Funny, I thought we let them all die because they're black. What happened? This is a new inkblot, and the Left sees new sinister motives afoot. The racial template has been thrown out because Rwandans and Iraqis are both non-whites. So they have to come up with a new conspiracy, and one that invariable villifies the United States.

I could play the same game too, if I wanted to. Let's take two humanitarian crises--one in which we did not intervene, and one in which we did. Then let's compare them. I'll choose Kosovo and Sudan.

President Clinton ordered troops to Kosovo in 1999 in order to stop Slobodan Milosevic's murderous rampage against ethnic Albanians in the Kosovo Province of Serbia. The ethnic Albanians, not entirely innocent (no group ever is), were Muslim terrorists with ties to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network. Ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo had been waging terror against Serbia for years, in attempt to rip Kosovo away from Serbia and fuse it to their Albanian homeland. I know some people on the Right who opposed this war on the grounds that we should not have been on the same side as Muslim terrorists. I also know people on the Left (Michael Moore, Ramsey Clarke) who opposed the war in Kosovo because they oppose absolutely everything the United States does, regardless of the circumstances.

Incidentally, President Clinton did not even attempt to get the approval of the UN Security Council before beginning the war, because he was well aware that the Russian veto would have killed his plans. Also, there were plenty of civilian casualties, in part because US bombers flew at such high altitudes. While this tactic is safer for American pilots (a noble goal) it makes precise targeting almost impossible, and more civilians died as a result. You can thank Wesley Clark for that.

These two factors--lack of a UN mandate, and high civilian deathtolls--did not seem to bother liberals. Why? Because they only oppose war when a Republican is president, whereas the Left only opposes war when America is involved. And to be entirely honest, lefties don't oppose the war in and of itself, they just want the other side to win.

Which brings us to Sudan, the worst humanitarian crisis of this young century. In the Darfur region, Muslims of Arab descent have killed tens of thousands of black Christians, and displaced about two million, since 2003. It's a bloodbath, and no one has intervened to stop it.

From these two instances, I must draw the conclusion that the United States hates Christians, and is probably run by a secret cabal of shadowy Muslim figures.

I'm just demonstrating absurdity by being ubsurd. But why haven't we done anything about the killing in Sudan? There are plenty of good reasons. It's a huge country (slightly larger than one quarter the size of the United States) with rough terrain and a rabidly anti-American population. And on top of that, we're already spread dangerously thin in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I'll act like a leftist for a moment and pretend like I don't see those things. I'll see only what I want to see--the difference in religions. When Christian Serbs kill Muslim Albanians, we take action. When Muslim Sudanese kill Christian Sudanese, we do nothing. Seems simple enough to me--we have a profound hate of Christianity that's driving our decision making process.

Incidentally, Sudan is an oil rich nation, and that has a lot to do with why China voted against a (largely useless) UN condemantion of Sudan. Don't expect any type of intervention there anytime soon. Geez, I wonder why the imperialist American war machine hasn't invaded Sudan on the "human rights" pretext, in order to steal all their oil?

People see what they want to see. Am I guilty of that? Maybe, but I try not to be. But as I see liberals' and leftists' reaction to world events, I discern a pattern that can only be attributed their own personl prisms through which they see the world. The Left's prism is that America can do no right. Liberalism's prism is that Republicans do no right. In fact, neither of these two assumptions can be true in every case, but they always find a way of making it true. It's the Rhorschach test, and the conclusions they draw from it tell me so much more about them than anything else.

December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / November 2006 /

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