When you're right you're right
Friday, June 23, 2006
  WMDs in Iraq found; liberals move goalposts
WMD has been found in Iraq. A military intelligence report released this week confirms that the US Military has uncovered about five hundred chemical munitions in Iraq since the start of the Iraq War. You might expect to see Madonna, Michael Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Nancy Pelosi, Cindy Sheehan, George Soros, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, and Janeane Garofalo forming a line a mile long down Pennsylvania Avenue, waiting paitently to apologize to the President of the United States. You would be wrong.

No, even the discovery of five hundred chemical munitions isn't enough to make the rabid anti-war critics accept that this war is justified. This war can't be justified.

Speaking for myself, I can say that I never doubted for a moment that Saddam had WMD. This wasn't just a leap of faith, a blindess to reality, or an unquestioning patritiotism as the Left would like you to believe. There was indeed plenty of evidence to suggest that Saddam had had WMD.

Here's a question for all your liberal friends--if there was no WMD in Iraq, why wouldn't Saddam comply fully with weapons inspectors? Why was this gentle lamb Saddam--who apparently had nothing to hide--hiding so much?

First of all, Georges Sada, Saddam's number two man in the Iraqi Air Force, wrote in his book, Saddam's Secrets, that Saddam's WMD had been transported to Syria on the eve of the war. David Kay, head of the Iraq Survey Group, is on the record saying that such a scenario was quite possible. "There is ample evidence of movement to Syria before the war -- satellite photographs, reports on the ground of a constant stream of trucks, cars, rail traffic across the border. We simply don't know what was moved," said Kay.

But for those too sceptical to believe an Iraqi general that such weapons existed, there was further proof. There were the so-called "Saddam tapes", discovered after the war, in which Saddam is caught discussing weapons of mass destruction and acts of terrorism against the United States and Great Britain. These particular tapes were found among 35,000 boxes of audio tapes and documents in Saddam's seat of power. Obviously, only a small fraction of these documents and tapes have yet been translated and analyzed.

Here is an actual quote from Saddam Hussein--"Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans a long time before Aug. 2 and told the British as well … that in the future there will be terrorism with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam may not have meant that Iraqi proxies were to conduct this type of terrorism, but only that somebody was going to attack the United States. Or he may have meant that terrorist groups, acting at the behest of the Iraqi government, would use WMD against the United States. In other words, exactly the scenario that President Bush warned us about on the eve of the Iraq War.

On the tapes, Saddam's son-in-law, Hussein Kamel Hussein, bragged about deceiving weapons inspectors. "We did not reveal all that we have [to the inspectors]," Kamel says in the meeting. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."

Just like the dicovery of actual WMD in Iraq, the Left didn't consider the Saddam tapes to be proof of anything. Danny Schechter, author and producer of the film version of "Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception," didn't believe that the tapes represented anything new. "Nobody denies that Saddam Hussein did have a WMD program. The United States knows that, we have the receipts, we supplied some of the initial technology," Schechter said. He later went on to assert that the weapons were destroyed after the 1991 Gulf War, which was precisely what Saddam was required to do under the terms of surrender, UN Resolutions 687 and 689.

But even the tapes itself contradict Schechter on this point. After all, Hussein Kamel was talking about deceiving weapons inspectors in the mid-1990's. The idea that Saddam destroyed his entire stockpile of WMD and was behaving himself like a good boy is also belied by the fact that in 1995, Iraq was caught red handed developing biological warfare agents. No, despite what the ignoramous Schechter believes, the weapons were not destroyed after the Gulf War.

Another critic of the Saddam tapes was Code Pink's Jodie Evans. She didn't believe that audio tapes of Iraqi officials discussing how to deceive the UN into believing that Iraq had no WMD means much of anything. The government, according to Evans, has "said a lot of things for a long time. There's a difference between what they've been saying and what's real, and when they find something real, I'll comment." Well, Ms. Evans, they've found something real. Actually, they've found five hundred somethings!

Another piece of damning evidence that Saddam possessed WMD is the existence of an internal Iraqi government document 2003-00004530. The document discusses a non-specific "chemical material" that was buried near Fallujah. The document also mentions that, prior to the 1998 ejection of UN weapons inspectors from Iraq, a UN helicopter circled over the spot for two hours. The documents reads:
A team from the Military Industrialization Commission when Hussein Kamel Hussein
was conducting his responsibilities did bury a large container said that it
contains a Chemical Material in the village (Al Subbayhat) part of the district
of Karma in Fallujah

Though the document does not specify what this "chemical material" is, there are red flags all over this document. First of all, Hussein Kamel Hussein is Saddam's son-in-law, and the same person previously mentioned in the Saddam tapes talking about how reports to the United Nations were completely bogus. He was also, according the ABC News, the man in charge of Saddam's WMD program (What WMD program was he in charge of, if there were no WMD?). So, according to the document, the head of the Iraqi WMD program, while "conducting his responsibilites, did bury a large container said that it contains a Chemical Material."

Another indicator that this "chemical material" was actually a banned weapon is revealed with the line, "A large number of the region residents know about this container from the large number of machines used to hide it then." Take note of the word "hide". What was being hidden, from whom, and why? What kind of chemical was this? Drain-O? Dish soap? Of course not, the "chemical material" being hidden was a chemical weapon.

Despite the accusations of General Georges Sada, the Saddam tapes, and document 2003-00004530, the Left refused to believe that Saddam Hussein had had WMD. (If only they had such a high standard of evidence when making spurious accusations against President Bush). Nothing short of the discovery of actual weapons of mass destruction would convince the Left that Saddam Hussein had indeed possesed weapons of mass destruction.

And now we have those weapons. Amazingly, not even these are proof enough that Saddam Hussein was in violation of seventeen UN Resolutions, right up to the day of the Iraq invasion. The Left and its media (that is, the "mainstream media") have tried everything to discredit these finds as insignificant.

Here's the lead to an Associated Press story about the discovered weapons: "Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and probably are so old they couldn't be used as designed, intelligence officials said Thursday." WMD has been found in Iraq! But don't worry, it doesn't mean anything.

Of course, it means everything. Notice that it says that the weapons could not be used "as designed". What does that mean? Could they still be used in a modified fashion? Could terrorists use them to kill innocent civilians? According to AFP, "The intelligence overview published Wednesday stressed that the pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. 'Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out,' it said."

Furthermore, the report does not make the munitions sound quite as harmless as certain critics have implied. "While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal," says the report.

The age of weapons is particularly interesting. Were they too old to be used "as designed" in 1991, when Saddam supposedly destroyed all of his chemical weapons? How about during the 1990's, when UN inspectors played cat-and-mouse with Iraqi government officials who,--despite "not having" any WMD--repeatedly led weapons insepctors on wild goose chases? Were they too old when, in 1998, Saddam kicked weapons inspectors out of the country? Were they too old when, in 2002, Iraq made its final report to the UN, rehashing old reports that the UN had already deemed insufficent? Were they too old three years ago, when US and coalition troops took down the brutal dictator?

I'm not sure I know at what point these weapons passed their experation date. I don't care either. In fact, I was under the impression that it was exactly these types of weapons (that is, pre-1991 weapons) we were looking for the entire time. After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was required to destroy all of his WMD, so that he could be better "contained". It was the contention of the United States that Saddam never fully complied with these resolutions, and hung onto these old weapons throughout the 1990's and up to 2003, when the US invaded. And we were right. If these weapons are so old, than that means that they were sitting there in Iraq in 2003, just as President Bush said that they were. Sorry, but the age of these weapons only proves the American case for war more correct, not less.

Furthermore, the idea that these weapons don't "count" because they're expired is ridiculous. It harks back to the old canard of the Left that it is the responsibilty of the United States to prove that Iraq possessed WMD (which we have), and not the responsibility of Saddam to prove that he didn't have WMD (which he never did, and never could). Now it is not only the responsibilty of the United States to prove the existence of WMD, but also the relative condition thereof. If not, then the whole war is bunk, George W. Bush is a liar, and America is a colonial power.

The excuse that these chemcial weapons found in Iraq were too old was applied to the munitions containing the deadly chemical sarin, a nerve agent sometimes referred to as GB. The other agent discovered among the five hundred chemical munitions was mustard, a blister agent. In an attempt to down-play the report, the media and the Left have tried to portray mustard agent as not particularly harmful, and therefore, not really a weapon of mass destruction.

According the an Associated Press story, "And any of Iraq's 1980s-era mustard would produce burns, but it is unlikely to be lethal, Kay said." I may have to draw on some of my own expertise here as a former nuclear, biological and chemical warfare specialist in the US Army (not nearly as cool as it sounds). When reading this, my first thought was Mustard gas is not designed to kill people!

Mustard gas is a blister agent, which, just as the name suggests, causes massive blisters on human skin. It is a horrible weapon, but it is not designed to kill. In the event that a person breathes in too much of this terrible gas, it theoritically could have leathal effects. Mustard gas would cause blistering of the lungs, just the same way it causes blisters on external skin, and if too may blisters developed, a person could suffocate. But that is not the primary or intended effect of blister agent. To see a rather graphic pciture of a mustard agent victim, click here:

http://www.opcw.org/resp/images/mustard2.jpg

In other words, it's no surprise that the mustard agent found in Iraq "only causes burns" and "wasn't deadly". The same could be said of mustard gas found anywhere. That doesn't mean that it is not a weapon of mass destruction, or finding mustard gas that "only causes burns" somehow makes this discovery illigitimate. To the contrary, mustard gas was prohibited to Saddam Hussein under UN resolutions 687 and 689. It is also classified as a chemical weapon under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. The excuse that the mustard agent found in Iraq is not lethal (when in fact, it isn't designed to kill) means nothing. This is a significant find.

The goal posts are slowly moving. First, the whole war was a lie because we hadn't found any WMD in Iraq (despite audio tapes and documents in which Saddam and company discuss their WMD). Now that we have found WMD, it suddenly doesn't count. The sarin is too old, and mustard gas isn't even deadly! The discovery of five hundred chemcial weapons munitions means nothing! Bush still lied, the war is still for nothing!

I do not believe for a second, of course, that these five hundred munitions were all Saddam possessed. These were just the crumbs he left behind in a hurried and imperfect coverup operation. The rest of the weapons are problably exactly where General Sada said they are--in Syria, probably moved there by Russian Spetsnatz units.

In any case, no matter where the rest of the weapons are, no one can credibly claim from this point forward that "Bush lied" or "there was no WMD" (although I don't think that will stop anyone on the Left from making those assertions; I've never known a liberal to let the facts get in his way.). These statements are simply not true. There was WMD in Iraq. The weapons survived the 1991 Cease-fire agreement (when Danny Schechter, author of "Embedded: Weapons of Mass Deception" claims that they were destroyed). The weapons were there in 1998, when weapons inspectors were evicted. And they were there when American troops crossed the border into Iraq in March 2003.

This is the story of the year, and it's being ignored. The excuse that these weapons really weren't all that deadly--despite what the report itself says--has been used to relegate it to the back page of the newspaper. It belongs on the front page. It belongs on the front page for at least as long as that silly Abu Ghraib story stayed there. Time and Newsweek should be running cover stories like "Bush was Right" and "U.S. Vindicated". But I won't hold my breath waiting.
 
Thursday, June 15, 2006
  Cheesesteak madness
If you're ordering a cheesesteak at Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia, you'd better be able to do so in English. The restaurant's sixty-six year old owner, Joseph Vento, has a sign in the window telling customers, "This is America. When ordering, speak English." Below that is another sign that says, "Management reserves the right to refuse service."

Mr. Vento's Italian ancestors had trouble learning English when they came to this country. He says that the current national debate on illegal immigration prompted him to put the sign in his window as a statement. As the grandson of immigrants, he feels strongly about assimilation. "Go back to the 19th century, and play by those rules," said Vento, referring to a time when assimilation was encouraged.

But Vento has his detractors as well. Rachel Lawton, of The Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations, claims that the sign violates the city's Fair Practices Ordinance which prohibits discrimination based on national origin in employment, public accomodation and housing. The Commission filed two civil rights complaints against Vento on June 12th.

The charge is, of course, ridiculous. Geno's Steaks will serve people of all races and nationalities, but the establishment will only serve them in English. A Mexican immigrant will not be turned down on the basis of his nationality; not if he can speak English. Likewise, a Russian or a Norwegian who couldn't speak English would not be served. As usual, this is a simple case of liberals trying to stretch the unambiguous language of our laws to make them mean what they wish they meant. There is nothing illegal about Joseph Vento's sign, but that won't stop liberals from using the power of the courts to force their ideology on other people.

The issue is, of course, larger than just the sign on the window of one cheesesteak shop in South Philadelphia. It's a question of how far we are willing to go to accomodate immigrants, how far they will be required to assimilate, the meaning of "American", how Americans see themselves, and how Americans see others.

Somewhere along the line, no one is quite sure where, the American immigration model took a hard left turn. The age-old system of assimilation (the melting pot) has been replaced with a system of accomodation (the tossed salad, the mosaic). Despite this fundamental change in the way we look at immigration, the Left wants us to believe that the current immigration debacle is no different than the immigration of years past. This, of course, is supposed to conjure up images of European immigrants arriving at Ellis Island with nothing but a suitcase and a dream. Many of these immigrants, of course, were greeted with hostility and discrimination. Therefore, according to the modern American Left, any demand that immigrants assimilate is really nothing more than "Know-Nothingism".

Harvard professor Samuel P. Huntington lays out a reasonably good synopsis of the differences between modern Latino immigration and the waves of immigration before it. Here's a partial list of what makes previous generations of immigrants different, set forth in Huntington's book, Who Are We? America's Great Debate

Immigrants generally, wanted to be Americans.

Immigrants who did not convert to American values, culture, and way of life returned to their home countries.

Immigrants came from many countries, with no single country or language prodominant at any one time.

Immigrants dispersed to ethnic neighborhoods throughout the United States, with no single group of immigrants forming a majority of the population in any region or major city.

Immigration was discontinuous, interrupted by pauses and reductions, both overall, and for individual countries.

Huntington's points are well received. The current immigration situation is not just the latest edition of an old story--indeed, the quintessenitally American story--of immigration and assimilation.

Actually, assimilation in and of itself is being questioned. Though the Left would like us to believe that illegal immigrants who won't learn our language and customs are exactly like the Irish, Italians, and Poles before them, they are not. Those people were expected to make some basic changes to their behavior in order to Americanize themselves. These days, even suggesting that immigrants should be "Americanized" is considered to be tinged with racism and xenophobia. Take, for example, political theorist Michael Walzer, who states "a radical program of Americanization would really be un-American."

Americanization is un-American? While I may agree that a "radical" program of Americanization would certainly be inapporopriate (I would never expect an immigrant to change his religion upon arriving in America, simply because Protestants make up a plurality of the American population), I can't say that I understand what Walzer finds so radical. Is he referring, perhaps to learning the English langauge? Is that what he means by radical? What exactly are we doing in the United States today that even comes close to "a radical program of Americanization"? Besides ignoring all of our immigration laws, printing ballots in a dozen langauges, and offering instruction to non-English speaking students in their native langauges from kindergarten through high school, I can't think of anything.

The old immigration model has been spun on its head. As Huntington puts it, "Previously Americans expected immigrants to Americanize, to adopt the ideas, culture, institutions, and ways of life of America's Anglo-Protestant society. Immigrants also felt discriminated against if obstacles were raised to their incorporating themselves into that society. In post-1965 America, however, the pressures for Americanization have been weak or absent, and immigrants have often felt discriminated against if obstacles were raised to their maintaining the cultural identity they brought with them."

As sociologist Dennis Wong puts it, "Today, nobody advocates 'Americanizing' new immigrants, as in the bad old ethnocentric past." Indeed, this is the major difference between the immigration waves of old and the immigration waves of today. While liberals might tell you that Hispanics crossing our border (legally and illegally) are just the latest versions of "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," there are some essential differences.

The most obvious of these essential differnces is langauge, and the unwillingness on the part of newcomers to learn the English language. The difference now is that these latest newcomers come largely from a single language background, and often operate as a block when they get here, demanding that other people learn their language and not vice versa. As Huntington explains, "In the mid-nineteenth century, immigration was dominated by English speakers from the British Isles. The pre-World War I immigration was highly diversified linguistically, including many speakers of Italian, Polish, Russian, Yiddish, English, German, and Swedish, as well as others. The post-1965 immigration differs from both these previous waves because now almost half speak a single non-English langauge. 'The Hispanic domination of the immigrant flow,' as Mark Krikorian observes, 'has no precedent in our history.'"

No single language has ever dominated immigrantion as it does today. The only immigrant group that ever comprised nearly the share of immigrants that Hispanics now make up were the Irish during the Irish Potato famine of the 1840's. Most of these immigrants, however, were fluent in English and therefore did not demand that the United States become a bilingual society to suit them.

The dominance of Spanish-speakers in contemporary immigration is reflected in the sheer numbers of immigrants coming from each country. In 1960, the number of foreign born residents of the United States hailing from the top five immigrant nations were as follows:

Italy: 1,257,000
Germany: 990,000
Canada: 953,000
United Kingdom: 833,000
Poland: 748,000

Take note that no single language dominates here, except perhaps English. Certainly residents of the UK would speak English, while Canada is bilingual English-French society. The other three countries are all non-English speaking, but no single language dominates.

Just forty years later, those numbers were quite different.

Mexico: 7,841,000
China 1,391,000
Phillipines 1,222,000
India 1,007,000
Cuba 952,000

In the year 2000, Mexico had 1.64 times as many immigrants as the top five countries from 1960, combined. It's also important to note here, that the figures cited here are only for legal immigrants, which does not even begin to account for all immigrants, and the figure for Mexican immigrants is probably much too low. The Immigration and Naturalization Service estimates that 350,000 illegal Mexican immigrants entered the United States per year during the 1990's. As Huntington writes, "Roughly two thirds of the post-1975 Mexican immigrants, it has been estimated, entered the Unites States illegally." If we assume that the 2000 figure for Mexican immigrants who entered this country represents only the one third who entered legally, then the actual number of Mexican-born residents of the US is three times that number, or 23,523,000. In a country of 298 million people, this represents a significant minority, and a serious challenge to the dominance of the English language.

Besides Mexico, however, there is another Spanish-speaking country on the list--Cuba. Those two countries, combined with the Puerto Rican population residing in the US (who are not immigrants), and the smaller number of immigrants originiating in Central and Spanish-speaking South America, make up a substantial language community that is not easily dissolved. There is no such precedent for this in the history of the United States. English is being challenged as the national language of this country for the first time ever.

While elite opinion makers, business leaders, and politicians may seem zealous in their attempts to accomodate the Spanish language, the general public is generally not so enthusiastic. Over and over again, American voters approve English as the official language of their states and localities, over the objections of politicians, clergy, and other opinion-shapers.

Florida, for example, had a measure on the state ballot in 1988 to declare English the official language. Despite being opposed by Presidential candidates George Bush and Michael Dukakis; Florida's governor, secretary of state, and attorney general; The Miami Herald, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, and several Hispanic organizations, the measure passed with an astounding 85.5% of the vote.

Between 1986 and 1988, four states had ballot questions concering making English the official language of their respective states. In all four instances, the movements were opposed by newspapers, politicians, and big business. In all four cases, the voters approved them. In only one of the three states--Arizona--was the vote even close, with a slim majority of 50.5% of the voters choosing English as the official language. In California, 73% of the voters voted yes, in Florida, 85.5%, and in Colorado, 64%.

Between 1998 and 2002, four states--California, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Colorado--had ballot questions that proposed ending bilingual education. The measure failed only in Colorado, where only 44% voted in favor. In California, that number was 61%, in Arizona it was 63%, and in Massachusetts it was 68%.

Obviously, Jospeh Vento is not alone. Most Americans agree that English is the language of our country, and see no benefit whatsoever from becoming a bilingual society, with Spanish achieving equal standing with English. Nonetheless, the nation as a whole appears to be moving in just that direction, as business and government leaders run roughshod over the will of the people, in order to accomodate foreigners who will not learn our language. Joseph Vento has become an icon of those who are resisting the not-so-gradual shift toward Spanish as an American language.

Time will tell if the ludicrous "civil rights" complaints against Vento will be dismissed or not. It has no basis in the law, because no one is being discriminated against based on national origin. Vento, to this point, is defiant. "I would say they would have to handcuff me and take me out because I'm not taking it down," said Vento.

Next time I'm in Philadelphia, I'm going to stop by Geno's and order a greasy Philly cheesesteak. In English.
 

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