Monday, October 31, 2005

Case in Point 

Michelle Malkin has a new book, Unhinged, that addresses the manic and irrational side seen far too often from Democrats these days. Brian Maloney noted a "preemptive strike" by an Amazon reviewer that reads, in part:
If you buy this book, you hate America- just like Michelle Malkin, who wants to destroy everything that's great about this country.
A neat thing about Amazon reviews, though, is that it allows the user to see other reviews written by the individual in order to better appraise the value of the review. A quick look at the "Patriotic Professor's" 15 Amazon reviews reveals an interesting pattern. For a person one might expect to exhibit nuance and understanding, her reviews demonstrate a total digital breakdown. Not only does the good Prof have just two speeds (1 for Hate, 5 for Love), with the exception of the single Jazz album reviewed the Love/Hate breakdown falls perfectly along party lines.

But wait, it gets better. Three of her reviews, for books by Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reiley and Sean Hanity are identical except for the tailored insult:
Simply put, if you agree with the sentiments expressed in this book, you hate America. Any person who agrees with [Bill O'Reilly's | Ann "B**ch" Coulter's | Sean "Pig-Head Idiot" Hannity] lies is unpatriotic and is an agent of Osama Bin Laden.

In essence, conservatives hate America. The only way to prove you don't hate America is 1. to not buy this book; and 2. to vote Bush out of office in November
So, if I got this right, a person claiming to be a professor (i.e. educated and supposedly not unintelligent) who devotes their time to doing cut-and-paste mudslinging on Amazon.com against conservative authors takes offense with Michelle's characterization of the Left as "Unhinged" and proceeds to offer a live demonstration of her thesis. Michelle couldn't have paid for better advertising.

Update: Thanks, Blogfather. I welcome all new visitors to look about.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A More Complete Answer 

In response to the discussion of the Iraqi vote, "Western values" and the invasion that set all this in motion Manateechik asked a sincere and valid question:
should we invade some more countries so that they can be Westernized?
While I posted a lengthier reply to her question at Spiral of Lies, in my own comments I offered the short response that I didn't think the option should be completely ruled out. I take the opportunity now to somewhat flesh out that reply.

I whole heartedly support this Administration's commitment to achieving lasting meaningful peace through promoting and spreading democratic reforms in oppressed countries, a goal that would not have been foreign to JFK. Say what you want, but history clearly demonstrates that working democracies are much less likely to start wars with other working democracies. Take Europe, for example, and contrast the continued bloodshed seen throughout the 18th and most of the 19th centuries under the various kings, tsars, kaisers and emperors with the 20th century, where WWI saw the fall of the last Empire on the continent and WWII was entirely precipitated by totalitarianism in the form of fascism. If, in fifty years, we see a Middle East that has a similar level of democracy and peace as Europe everyone gains.

Let me be clear, I certainly do not believe in running roughshod over anyone who disagrees with us or some grand vision of the US as being on a democracy crusade (vote or die!). At this time, though, we are at war, a grand struggle like most we fought in the last century in which it was a war of ideas as much as of military. This war is very much like any conflict, however, in that the failure to achieve clear and unambiguous securities may lead to catastrophic results. To minimize the potential for such results we must be ready to go where it is needed to destroy terrorists and terrorist organizations, to deny them the resources (weapons, money and infrastructure) they need to fight and to promote the democratic reform and societal transparency (i.e. "Western Values") that will deter the reconstitution of terrorists. In those cases where we are unable to achieve these goals with the cooperation of a nation's government it would be both foolish and foolhardy to anticipate overall victory without retaining a military option.

Further, the willingness to act provides a deterrence all its own. You must not forget that Bin Laden himself said that the US unwillingness to act and basic retreat after loosing soldiers in Somalia were critical in his estimate that we were a "paper tiger" and ripe for a killing blow and many shared his opinion. Following our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, though, there are many who have changed their minds. The cooperation of Libya was paramount in not only removing another thorn from our sides but also in exposing the A. Q. Khahn nuclear weapons technology transfer ring, and none but the most steadfast partisan can say with a straight face that this capitulation had nothing to do with the rapid collapse of Saddam's power. Likewise for the unprecedented rash of elections, opening of political processes to opposition parties and proliferation of women's suffrage seen throughout the region in countries such as Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and even Saudi Arabia. Again, the idea that all this happened in a vacuum without being influenced by events in Iraq is laughable.

In Afghanistan the President said "hand over the Terrorists or we'll remove you from power." When the brutal totalitarian government of the Taliban refused to provide the securities we needed he did just what he promised. In Iraq the President said "open your WMD programs to real transparent and complete verification or we'll remove you from power." Again, when the brutal totalitarian government of Saddam refused to provide the securities we needed he did just what he promised. If the time comes and this President is forced to tell Iran "abandon your nuclear weapons programs and open your country to real inspections or we'll remove you from power," do you think he'll be taken seriously or as a paper tiger? Do you think our commitment and resolve in promoting "Western values" in Iraq will have gained us any non-military leverage over Syria, Iran or Saudi Arabia?

So when I say "it should not be completely discounted" I mean that promoting democratic "Western values" is a hard job, and doing so in the face of bloodthirsty, power hungry tyrannical governments it is damn near impossible without having a credible threat of forcible removal. It's not nice and it's not pretty, but it is also undeniable that without the application of force the world would never have seen the end of the likes of Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini or Saddam.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Rumors of my Demise ... On the Iraqi Vote 

Wow, two months already? A couple of high-demand releases coupled with two ADTs (temporary Active Duty) can sure drag on your time. Interesting to note that this site is still routinely getting at least 25 hits a week, so I guess the RSS 'bots are doing their jobs. Does make me wonder, though, what the hit stats of the bigger boys really mean, since they also have an order of magnitude more 'bots tracking them. Lookout blogs, you'll be next to have your published circulation questioned.

A recently published triumphant post at Spiral of Lies in regard to the past weekend's vote in Iraq offered Why it was worth it. A reader (manateechick) seemed to disagree:
So you really think it's okay to kill tens to hundreds of thousands of innocents in order to make "Iraq the vanguard of Western values in the Middle-East"?
1.) Why do you think it's okay to achieve your goals that way?
2.) Why do you think that the whole world must have "Western values"? Please don't say because all non-Western values lead to terrorism, because only a small percentage of non-Western beliefs lead to terrorism
I pointed out to that her questions were implicitly based upon two assumptions with which I did not agree.

The first assumption is that Coalition actions in Iraq have "kill[ed] tens to hundreds of thousands of innocents." A assume the basis for the upper bound (~100,000) is the flawed and oft filleted Lancet "study." The statistical errors and poor methodology in reaching that estimate have been reviewed and demonstrated repeatedly. In any event, even if we accept the Lancet's 98,000 excess deaths as truth, that acceptance still carries the assumption that Coalition Forces bear full responsibility for the estimated 60,000 deaths attributed to post-invasion violence and that none of the self-reported deaths were anti-Coalition combatants (neither Iraqi Army, Republican Guard, insurgent nor terrorist). I assume the basis for the lower range (10,000+) are sources like Iraqi body count, who admittedly use a methodology that includes hostages that have been beheaded by terrorists and children that have intentionally blown-up by terrorists as civilian casualties resulting from the occupation. Both of these sources rely upon this assumption of responsibility, regardless of actor. Using this same thought process, one might contend a woman should be held responsible should her psychotic ex-boyfriend kill her coworker in an attempt to dissuade her from dating. I doubt if Manateechick in her capacity as an attorney would offer such a defense, and so question why she seems to accept it as a reasonable way to assign "responsibility" in this case.

The second assumption is that the phrase "Western values" as used by the previous posters implies a cultural evaluation or attempt to supplant. When I read that phrase, in context, I saw "Western values" being offered in juxtaposition not to the regional culture, but rather as an alternative to the entrenched totalitarian political regimes that are rife in the Middle East. "Western values" have nothing to do with which religion you practice, but have everything to do with idea that neither your neighbor nor your government has a right to treat you differently based upon your faith. "Western values" have nothing to do with how many wives you may have but have everything to do with ensuring every wife is valued as an individual human being and affording the same rights (and responsibilities) as any other citizen. "Western values" have nothing to do with Coke, Hollywood, McDonald's, Microsoft, Fox News or any other corporate entity but have everything to do with allowing each citizen the freedom to individually decide if they wish to patronize the chain restaurant or eat at Achmed's, if they want to see "Animal House" or take their children to "March of the Penguins," and recognizing their freedom to go where they want on the internet and to talk to whomever they wish. "Western values," to my thinking, simply entail ensuring that each person has the right and ability, individually and collectively, to decide the course of their lives and country.

So, with that in mind, I will answer her questions, stating that I believe firmly that the whole world should most certainly have "Western values" as I understand them to be, because that is the value set historically demonstrated to yield both the greatest personal freedom and happiness as well as create the most macro-peaceful environment. Given these benefits I would further hazard to say, in the long-term, it is indeed "worth" the nebulously unquantified (yet demonstrably inflated) costs to which she alluded.

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