The New Terrapin Gazette
Number 178 28 November, 2010
Victor Davis Hanson, no stranger to readers of this newsletter, has this to say:
North Korea may think 20011-12 is about the last chance it is going to get with a Carteresque president, and it wants to make the most of it, pronto.
Same source, longer quote:
We have created a situation that simply could never be emulated without social chaos (e.g., on what grounds do we say that a million Greeks or five million Sudanese could not in theory come en masse to the United States — that it would be wrong, illegal, impractical?). Would the Latino community accept a million from Mozambique arriving in the American Southwest every year — without diplomas, without English, and without legality? We know illegal immigration is supposed to be unlawful, expensive, and contradictory â€” but is it not also abjectly one of the most unethical and amoral phenomena of our times?
Is a US victory in Afghanistan possible? Can the Taliban ever be defeated? It’s time to apply some common sense to these questions.
There was a time when victory had a simple definition: unconditional surrender. The Empire of Japan was told flatly that unless it gave up utterly and unreservedly, it would be destroyed, no matter the cost. The bloodbath that was Iwo Jima, and the subsequent conquest of Okinawa (the latter was considered part of the Japanese homeland proper, while Iwo Jima was distant and had been administered by Tokyo as a possession; in 1940, Tokyo created a municipality on the island where none had previously existed) informed the ruling military in Tokyo that the words meant exactly what they said. Two atomic bombs drove the point home: everyone, simply everyone, would be killed — unless the empire gave in without reservation.
Contrast that with virtually every other war in history. Yes, there were campaigns of conquest in which Islam literally slaughtered all the infidels, whether they gave up or not. The precedent-setting Battle of the Great Ditch, conducted by Mohammed himself, resulted in the unconditional surrender of a Jewish community; all the men were beheaded and the women and children were all sold into slavery. Better to fight and die, but that’s the “choice” many who face Islam must make, as many Indians learned in subsequent centuries. Buddhism was exterminated in its homeland, and the partition of the south Asian subcontinent centuries later was more wholesale slaughter than emigration.
The First World War ended with not a single Allied soldier on German soil. Rational folks know how to fight, when to give in, and how to treat the losers; religious fanatics know only how to kill.
This truth forces the USA to consider the limited possibilities in Afghanistan, beginning with the fact that as long as there is one Muslim eager to gain entry into paradise for his entire family and himself, there will be violence. It may be at a very low level — so low it will not be reported as anything more than ordinary criminal activity — but it will not die out until no one believes in the commandments of the divine creator that are communicated in the Koran.
In fact, Islam will never surrender, so there will be no victory over it. There can never be peace; there can only be pauses in the eternal bloodshed. For various lengths of time and for various reasons, jihadis will be inactive. That is the best one can hope for.
It is useful to think of Islam as a kind of environmental threat, rather than as a nation-state that has political motives for its policies. The analogy is imperfect, but imagine Western Civilization as a nomadic tribe wandering in a vast forest. Wolves and bears live there, and they can be dangerous. There is no victory over them; they can never be engaged in treaty negotiations, or pacified. The warriors in the tribe must learn to cope with the elusive threat.
The great error the West makes when it looks at Islam is to see it as somehow a religion like Christianity or the Jewish faith. It is not akin to Hindu or Buddhist belief-systems, either.
Now of course the experience of centuries tells us that religions evolve, and that the overall direction of that development is toward more rather than less tolerance.
Islam is the exception.
As evidence of this rather fragile contention, consider that Protestants and Roman Catholics no longer murder each other by slow torture, though the practice died out relatively recently (in the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, depending on where Christians were active). In the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the Vatican mandated an end to torture in the examination of accused heretics (to be sure, the mandate did not have immediate effect everywhere).
Some would say the sentiment was insincere, and they would have a point. By 1914, the Holy See in Rome was once again promoting the blood libel against Jews; ethical growth is not always untroubled or irreversible.
While one cannot know what Islam will be like in two hundred years, it is obvious that the short term looks very bad indeed. The Western tribes must be ready with firebrands, arrows and spears, for beyond the light thrown by the campfires, dark shapes slip through the trees.
Note, therefore, the following unromanticized facts:
1. Some jihadis are second-generation Westerners.
2. Most Afghans would prefer not to live under the Taliban.
3. The real problems of Afghanistan are the fundamental reasons why the battle against bloodthirsty Islam is not going better. Paramount among those problems is corruption.
These facts mean that there is a chance that Afghans can be reformed, trained and given the means to defend themselves from jihadis. The task will be difficult.
In Iraq, the bloody nature of Islam remains a problem: Sunnis and Shiites murder each other over the most absurd issue imaginable. Because Afghanistan is mostly Sunni, this problem may be limited there.
This newsletter has already reported that some Taliban have petitioned the anti-Taliban government to ease up on the jihadis, saying that too many of them are being killed (specific mention is made of commanders killed by missiles fired from pilotless aircraft), and the dead include distant relatives of the ruling class in Kabul. That news item has been ignored, and, given the bias of the press, understandably so. Instead considerable fuss was made over the observation of some dotty British general that the Taliban can never be defeated.
The general might as well have noted that for wayfarers in a primeval forest, wolves are an eternal danger. His remarks were simpleminded, and simpleminded ideologues took them as evidence that it is time to tell the defenders of Western Civilization to stand down.
(Off-key note: oddly, Newsweek did publish this report of Taliban whining. Make of it what you will.)
Those who wish to live by rational ethics will never be free to do so until they are also free to intimidate and even kill all who would destroy their society.
Abandoning the fight against the Taliban will provide proof positive of the lack of Western resolve. Once again, as in Korea and Vietnam, the USA will tell the world, “We know who our enemies are, and we intend to fight them — until, of course, we have bled enough. Then we shall retreat and leave the spoils to those who stayed the course.”
That is the ethical contradiction of pacifism: the practice of peace creates yet more needless bloodshed.
How odd that a nation that suffers the loss of upwards of thirty-three thousand people killed each year for the silliest possible reasons — automobile accidents — agonizes over the loss of hundreds of citizens who have volunteered to drive the wolves back from the women and children.
Make no mistake about it: Islam in primitive and distant lands is a clear and present danger to the USA. In the attacks of September 11, 2001, jihadis killed half again as many people as did the Japanese Empire in its December, 1941 attack on Hawaii. Note as well that the Japanese Imperial Navy targeted members of the military, and killed very few civilians; the jihadis, by sharp contrast, targeted the general public. Those “little Eichmanns” (remember that bastard who “taught” at the University of Colorado?) had not the slightest idea why they had to die so horribly.
Pulling out of Afghanistan, as The One plans to do no matter what, will put at serious unreasonable risk every school, hospital and large building in the USA. If you are disgusted by the nonsense that goes on at US airports now, imagine what this inept and unprincipled administration will do after the first Jewish health care facility in the USA is blown to smithereens by a female suicide bomber pushing a baby carriage.
They are the worst people in the world, and giving in to them to any extent is a tragic moral error.
Everyone knows what the word “antisemitism” means, but everyone is wrong. It has little to do with hatred of Jews, and misses the point badly. First, Arabs are Semites, so an antisemite would hate Jews and Arabs equally. Second, Semites are called Semites because they speak a Semitic language, and most Jews do not. Finally, the hatred of Jews became political in the final quarter of the nineteenth century, but today the word “antisemitism” refers to all historical opposition to Jews. The malice expressed by Martin Luther toward Jews is distinct from the bigotry of today.
One of the hallmarks of modern Jew-hatred is the deceitful claim that while Jews are fine, Zionists are not. The problem is presented as not “the eternal Jew” of Nazi propaganda, but as the state of Israel. If you wonder why Israel is denounced, and any number of other states that have caused infinitely greater human suffering remain unmentioned — to name just one, China — you may be scolded for a fool. That should tell you that trickery, a sophisticated game of intellectual Three-Card Monte, is in play.
The abuse of scholarship is commonly used by contemporary Jew-haters, and it is possible to spill gallons of ink attacking and defending Israel. From the Balfour Declaration, one can move forward or backward in time, recounting historical nonsense crafted to prove whatever point might be desired.
Consider the famous old hoax, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (sometimes “Learned” is inserted in front of “Elders”). This document has a variety of histories, depending on whom you ask. Some claim it was invented by the agents of the Russian Tsar; others say it is directly derived from a Greek source, or that the Greek version was inspired by a French farce. The utterly hopeless crackpots will tell you it is the journal of a secret conclave of Jews who discussed their plan for humanity, and that some Wikileaks predecessor spilled the beans. Still others claim that the legitimacy of the document matters not at all; it could be what it claims, it could be a hoax, but either way it is accurate. Even as fantasy, it may be claimed to describe reality and open our eyes to truth.
After decades, the debate over the Protocols cooled, and the campaign against Israel is conducted today as an attempt to influence the foreign policy of a number of Western nations (useful opinion is to be found here). In the USA, the charge has been led by two scholars (Mearsheimer at the University of Chicago, and Walt at Harvard) who have documented the case against what they call “the Israel lobby.” That’s better than calling it “the Jewish lobby,” but not much.
Ultimately, the questions are two: first, is Israel a valid, ethical and proper sovereign state? Few Muslims would say it is, and very few Jews would say it is not. Though some Jews are disgusted by the existence of Israel, and some Muslims are nominal believers who go along in order to stay alive, the disagreement is obviously a matter of faith.
The second question is whether Israel is blameless as a nation. Has it sinned? Has it erred? That ignores, of course, the next question, which should be, “If Israel has committed felonies, do they warrant the eradication of the nation?”
Walt and Mearsheimer have shifted the questions just enough to make them interesting to some folks. The professors want to know whether politically connected interests in the USA have influenced US foreign policy to the detriment of the nation, and on behalf of Israel. Would the USA be better off, more democratic and more just, if it opposed Israel and did not aid the tiny nation?
One can study these issues for years and come to few conclusions; there are always caveats, parenthetical considerations, and recursive research. But if you want answers now, and trust this newsletter to provide them, here you have what you require:
Israel is not without sin. Some of its actions have been extraordinarily reprehensible, even stunningly puzzling. It does not deserve to die. Its existence makes it no more deserving and no more blameworthy than does the existence of virtually any current sovereign state: most nations have carved out space for themselves, and cannot lay claim to immaculate conception. The formulation of US foreign policy has been at times wise, at times foolish, at times egregious, at times inexcusable, and at times reprehensible. The actions of the Israel lobby — a player in politics that does have existential reality — have not always been in the best interests of the USA. Again, no death sentence should be proclaimed on either the USA or Israel for being less than perfect.
The world is not what we would like.
It must be noted that while the Arabs, and the so-called “Palestinians” in particular, call for the murder of all Israelis (if not of all Jews everywhere, or at least for their reduction to dhimmitude), the Israelis make no comparable demands. Jimmy Carter was a fool to assert that Israel is an apartheid state. If Israel did not subsidize Gaza, the Arabs there would starve, for it seems virtually certain rich Arab states would ignore them. The world literally does not know how much help Israel gives its blood enemies, and the world, as exemplified by the deplorable UN General Assembly, is a bigoted and bloody-minded moron.
Ultimately, it matters little whether Mearsheimer and Walt are Jew-haters. They might be, but if they are not, they might take exactly their current attitude toward Israel and her friends in the USA. What matters most is that somehow the US find a way to deal ethically with the bitter, deeply wounded and totally committed enemies that unfortunately share several borders.
Huntington’s remarks about Islam’s bloody borders comes unbidden to mind.
One day, Arab and other Muslim powers in the region will have nuclear weapons. That prospect should terrify anyone who grasps the intensity of the passions that rend the Middle East.
Finally, it seems clear to this newsletter that if Mearsheimer and Walt had their way, not a single significant problem would be solved. They would dispute that…but they would be wrong.
Suicide Rates As Opportunities To Make A Political Point
The logic is never explicit, but it’s present and it’s obvious: individuals in Group A are characterized by some distinctive factor not found in the general population. They are killing themselves at a rate higher than some folks might expect. Therefore the uncommon factor is responsible and must be removed.
This specious reasoning appeared years ago and was reported in this newsletter. The offense against rationality began with breathless reports that US soldiers in Iraq were killing themselves at an “alarming” rate. The unspoken conclusion: we have to get out of Iraq. When a little digging produced statistics showing that the German army — which was entirely in Germany at the time — had a higher suicide rate than did US soldiers in the combat zone, the major media did not report that interesting fact.
Here the sloppy thinking comes again, showing up in two stories, neither of which refers to the other.
First, a quote from this report:
Army suicides have been climbing since 2007, bringing the rate to 22 per 100,000 soldiers. The rate among civilians within the same age group is 20 per 100,000. The Marine Corps has seen an increase since 2008 and its rate is 24 per 100,000. But there, too, the trend may be downward.
Story number two:
“Arizona’s suicide rate is one-third higher than national average at 16 out of 100,000. Utah where the church has its stronghold is three times the national average,” says co-organizer Bobby Parker.
Utah has 3 times the national average of suicides — a large percentage of them gay members of the (LDS) church.
Arizona’s suicide rate is one-third higher than the national average, and the state also has a large population of Mormons (LDS), so based on the numbers inferences can be made.
Yes, indeed, one can make inferences! The fact, however, is that analysis of these statistics is impossible for several reasons, among them the absence of sufficient information. These news items are yet more instances of the tendency hastily to attribute events to false causes (post hoc ergo propter hoc). Clearly, points are being made with these stories, and without a wide range of data from many other communities — including cross-cultural data — one can not even begin to make sense of things. The first article does list a number of economic and political-related problems that might account for some soldiers’ suicides, but again, who can know why people decide to give up?
If the use of suicide statistics to promote a social/cultural/political agenda continues, one might expect to see “wingnuts” attributing self-destruction to the economic crisis which is known to have been caused by bad governance. Well, this newsletter believes that Tea Partiers will not blunder into blaming Obama for raising the suicide rate. The anti-administration folks have more sense. They know not all social patterns submit to idiotic explanations, even when the folks peddling the explanations have graduate degrees and impressive academic rank.
Draw conclusions if you want to, Pilgrims, but remember: you are almost certainly wrong about everything except this…it’s probably true that these statistics are being abused by propagandists.
Commentary on Korea.
Do humans have free will? This newsletter tends to believe the question is illegitimate, but the author of the linked piece disagrees.
While the obviously incompetent Janet Napolitano oversees a growing fiasco, Israel manages to get it right. Read the piece and ponder what could be, prospective air travelers.
Organized crime in Japan: a feudal pattern in a “modern” society.
Obama, North Korea, Iran and Israel: a column from The Jerusalem Post. No, Hillary won’t like it, and The One won’t read it.
This newsletter avoids the word “liberal” as a political designation, and puts quotes around “progressive” as a noun or adjective because “progressives” aren’t progressive. The distinctions of concern are between collectivists and individualists, in NTG’s view. Here are interesting thoughts on political nomenclature.
Why all the hysteria, the lies, the bogus science, the intimidation and guilt-mongering? Why, money, of course. No, it’s not what you think.
The problem: lies like these will not ever hurt the liar. He knew that when he told them, you know it now, and all opinions to the contrary are nonsense. Obama has a constituency that will vote for him pretty much no matter what, and Sarah Palin will see to it that he gets all those votes and more if she wins the nomination of the GOP. Almost any other candidate could put the matter in doubt.
The right way to add software to your computer begins with your perception of a need. That leads to a search for software to do the job; if you can locate candidates, get information about them. The wrong way: look at lists of new and suggested software, or go to the computer shop and browse. Not understanding those simple points, or ignoring them, will almost certainly bring you grief. Unfortunately lots of folks are eager to pitch programs you do not need. Here, for example, is a list you should avoid.
Overkill is good for you. Too, you never know when you might be targeted by a nutcase shooting at you from the cover of a house across the street. Do you remember the jingle, “Reach out, reach out and touch someone”? Here’s just the gizmo you need to get through to the pest.
So you liked that Greco-Roman temple at the inauguration? Well, Pilgrims, then don’t miss this sumptuous paean to the grandeur of Oneness. It’s a tour de farce.
The staff of The Lynx Bulletin expresses its sincere gratitude to the many people who have gifted the world with Debian GNU/Linux, Emacs, Screen, Elinks and Iceweasel.
Publisher:The Eagle Wing Palace of The Queen Chinee