Mark Steyn on wars past and present: Recalling a time when setbacks didn't deter us.
[T]hat's the difference between then and now: the loss of proportion. They had victims galore back in 1863, but they weren't a victim culture. They had a lot of crummy decisions and bureaucratic screwups worth re-examining, but they weren't a nation that prioritized retroactive pseudo-legalistic self-flagellating vaudeville over all else. They had hellish setbacks but they didn't lose sight of the forest in order to obsess week after week on one tiny twig of one weedy little tree.
There is something not just ridiculous but unbecoming about a hyperpower 300 million strong whose elites -- from the deranged former vice president down -- want the outcome of a war, and the fate of a nation, to hinge on one freaky jailhouse; elites who are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, as long as it's pain-free, squeaky clean and over in a week. The sheer silliness dishonors the memory of all those we're supposed to be remembering this Memorial Day.
This excellent op-ed from last year is worth highlighting again: Honoring Virtue by Andrew Bernstein.
The meaning of Memorial Day is particularly pressing today when the United States is engaged in a war against fanatics who represent the extreme of intellectual, religious and political suppression. Freedom is unknown and utterly alien in the countries that support terrorists. They feel threatened by our most cherished principles and institutions, and so they seek to destroy us. Our soldiers who fought so courageously and so effectively against the Taliban and Saddam Hussein helped to overthrow both of those brutal dictatorships while defending the lives and freedom of American civilians. ... What protects us is our moral courage and our military might.
NOTE: Our regular readers may remember the above cartoon from the Spirit of America auction. We again express our deep gratitude to Joey for the winning bid/donation. We also want to thank Quent Cordair and Linda Zimmerman at Quent Cordair Fine Arts (a sponsor of this site). They framed the artwork for Joey, and it is now on display in their Burlingame, California gallery.
Here is last year's cartoon for all our new readers:
HAMTRAMCK, Mich. - A noise-ordinance change that would allow mosques to broadcast calls to prayer on loudspeakers will be put to a citywide vote after opponents gathered hundreds of petition signatures. [...]
The council had voted unanimously last month to allow the Bangladeshi Al-Islah Mosque to broadcast the call to prayer five times a day. [...]
The Al-Islah mosque plans to begin broadcasting the calls on Friday. Abdul Motlib, head of the mosque, said he was confident the measure would win a citywide vote. "Hamtramck has 23,000 people. If 500 or 600 people go against us, we're not losing nothing."
CNN reported this weekend: Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' wins Cannes award.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" was the first documentary to win Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or since Jacques Cousteau's "The Silent World" in 1956.
Michael Moore's far left politics are bad enough, but the fact that his political films continue to win major awards as documentaries is absurd.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines documentary as: "Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional material, as in a book or film." Editorialize is defined as: "To present an opinion in the guise of an objective report."
Moore proudly notes on his web site regarding his Cannes award: "It is the first time in nearly 50 years a documentary has won the Palme d’Or (the Golden Palm)." [Emphasis added]
"Yeah, it's like an op-ed piece in the newspaper. These are my opinions. I'm very up front about them. I don't try and disguise them. I don't try to present them as objective news. They're not. They're very subjective."
Even when Moore himself admits to editorializing (which is likely his justifications for the distortions and fabrications that taint his work), he still wins awards for his "documentaries." Perhaps there needs to be a new category for what Moore creates; there's already one word that comes close: advertorial.
Of course, Moore is free to express and market his political opinion. But passing them off as documentaries and accepting awards for them as documentaries is artistic fraud.
More Moore: Evan Coyne Maloney points out how Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 will function as a Democrat-promoted political advertisement that skirts the campaign finance reform laws: The Michael Moore Loophole.
[T]oday's press works to put the worst possible face on the war. ... Hence the endless dwelling on the abuses in the Abu Ghraib prison and the breathless speculation that it would drive Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from office. Instead, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed the public 69 percent to 20 percent against Rumsfeld's resignation. Hence the much lesser coverage given to the murder of Nick Berg. Hence the microscopic coverage of the finding of the deadly poison sarin in an improvised explosive device -- mustn't give credence to the possibility that Saddam was conducting (as inspector David Kay said) weapons of mass destruction programs.
Taranto also notes that the latest Pew survey of media professionals and the public found:
55% of national journalists say they think the press is "not critical enough" of President Bush; only 24% of the public agrees. Thirty-four percent of the public thinks the press is "too critical," vs. a mere 8% of the national press. Thirty-five percent of both groups characterize coverage of the president as "fair."
After detailing a few more statistics indicating a port-side list in the media, Taranto concludes:
All this suggests that journalists not only are considerably more liberal than the general public but also wish their own coverage were more liberal than it is.
Glenn Reynolds also has some relevant comments and links.
"Call [criticism the media for biased coverage] a fallback strategy: the media lost the war," says Tom Rosenstiel, a former Los Angeles Times correspondent who now runs the non-profit Project for Excellence in Journalism. "It's very convenient politically for an administration that's under fire for its war policy to blame the messenger. [...]"
So if things go badly in Iraq, the theory goes, then "war supporters" will use the media as a scapegoat. This is a straw man constructed to divert attention away from legitimate criticism. Obviously the media could not single-handedly lose (or win) the war. There are many factors. But it's preposterous to dismiss the impact of war coverage that emphasizes negative news instead of objectively reporting the full context.
FoxNews reports: Iran Rejects Chalabi Spying Accusations.
Iran acknowledged Sunday it had a strong dialogue with embattled Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi, but rejected accusations that he passed classified intelligence to Iran. Chalabi's long-standing contacts with Iran have left some in the U.S. government suspicious about his intentions.
Chalabi has denied allegations from American intelligence sources that he handed over sensitive information to Iran about the U.S. occupation, but he admits: "I met with Iranian officials about a month and a half ago. ... And we meet people from the Iranian Embassy in Baghdad regularly, as do all members of the Governing Council."
Columnist Michael Ledeen has his own suspicions about the spying allegations: Lying into the Mirror. (Via LGF) Ledeen seems to me to be cutting Chalabi too much slack for dealing with the Iranians at all, by blaming a lack of American support for Chalabi. But Ledeen makes a good point regarding America's appeasement of the Iranian regime:
Finally, it's hilarious to see this crowd of diplomats and intelligence officers attacking an Iraqi for talking too much to Iranians, when Powell's State Department and Tenet's CIA has been meeting with Iranians for years.
And Ledeen's overall conclusion is worth noting:
All of this is the inevitable result of the fundamental misunderstanding of the war against the terror masters. It is a regional war, not a war limited to a single country. Since we refuse to admit this, we are unable to design an effective strategy to win. Deceiving ourselves, we lie to the mirror, saying that defeats are really victories [re: Fallujah], that Baathists are our friends and independent minded Shiites are our enemies [re: Chalabi], and that appeasement of the mullahs will end their long war against the United States. ... Has anyone told the president?
If it turns out that Chalabi or someone working for him really did pass vital military information to the Iranians, then the culpable parties should be arrested. But at the same time, the American government should stop treating the Iranian regime with diplomatic kid gloves and start treating it as the enemy it is.
UPDATE May 26: The Wall Street Journal has a very informative editorial on Chalabi: The Chalabi Fiasco: He's a pawn in a much larger strategic game.
The London Telegraph reports: French 35-hour week 'a disaster'.
The French government yesterday described the 35-hour working week as a financial disaster that was costing the state billions of pounds and promised to reform the system despite fierce union opposition.
This story comes via TIA Daily, where Robert Tracinski noted:
This "war on ambition," as I dubbed it, has been enforced by such repugnant measures as searching the briefcases of young executives as they leave their office buildings, to ensure that they are not taking extra work home with them.
Is it any wonder why France's economy is on the skids?
"Very low down the list is an Islamic theocracy, in which mullahs and religious leaders have a lot of influence, such as in Iran," said Burkholder, who polled in Baghdad in August and nationwide in late March and early April for CNN and USA Today.
This is good to hear, but it's nonetheless disturbing that a theocracy is even being considered. But much worse still is the fact that, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell, we would allow an Islamic theocracy to be established in Iraq.
From this weekend's Tim Russert 'Meet The Press' interview with Powell:
RUSSERT: In those free, open and fair elections, if the Iraqi people choose an Islamic theocracy similar to what we have in Iran, we would accept that?
POWELL: We will have to accept what the Iraqi people decide upon. [...] [Emphasis added]
Powell goes on to say he "thinks" the Iraqi people will make the right choice, saying: "[M]y sensing of what the Iraqi people want is a democracy with a majority, but with respect for all the minorities, all working together to create the kind of country they'll be proud of."
The possibility of an Islamic theocracy being established in Iraq should be absolutely out of the question, regardless of what the majority of Iraqi people want. The primary reason for our soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq was to eliminate a threat to America, not to give the Iraqi people a chance to democratically vote themselves into an Islamist dictatorship that would be yet another threat to America. That Powell is openly counting on what he "senses" Iraqis will do does not inspire confidence that he holds our national security as the primary issue.
In his May 17 TIA Daily editorial, titled "A Roadmap for American Defeat," Jack Wakeland named a likely reason for the Bush Administration's compromising position:
At a meeting of the Group of 8 industrialized nations on Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that the United States military would withdraw from Iraqi if that nation's new government requests it. The foreign ministers of Britain, Italy, and Japan joined him in pledging they also would withdraw their troops if asked.
This is the Bush Administration's answer to the question of whether it truly intends to transfer sovereignty of Iraq to Iraqis on June 30.
This is the sacrifice the Bush Administration intends to make to prove that the United States did not invade Iraq for the 'selfish' purposes of national security. President Bush has often claimed that the invasion benefits the Iraqi people. Now he is going farther. To prove that their liberation from Saddam Hussein's dictatorship was a purely altruistic act, Mr. Bush is now deliberately putting the security of the American people up for a majority vote -- by a majority of the Iraqi people.
After WWII, we imposed on Germany and Japan democratic, secular, rights-respecting systems of government to ensure that neither would be long-term threats to America. We should do the same in Iraq and Afghanistan for the same reason.
The London Telegraph reports: Fear of a hostile reaction has led US officials to warn its participants in the Games against overtly patriotic displays.
The spectacle of victorious athletes grabbing a national flag and parading it around the stadium is a familiar part of international sporting competition, but US Olympic officials have ordered their 550-strong team to exercise restraint and avoid any jingoistic behaviour. [...]
Despite the extra burden being placed on American athletes, officials still predict a US medal haul of more than 100, and have made it their target to finish top of the medals table. The irony is that finishing the Games as the most powerful nation is unlikely to endear them to the rest of the world.
And therein lies the problem: We shouldn't be trying to endear ourselves to those who hate us no matter what we do.
This story came via TIA Daily, an e-mail based, daily news analysis published by Robert Tracinski. (They have a 30-day trial offer for the service that we very highly recommend.) Tracinski writes regarding the article:
In a shocking story, Olympic officials discourage displays of patriotism by American athletes, so as not to "offend" the Europeans. Why not just ask them not to win, so that Europeans can be spared the embarrassment of playing our national anthem?
InstaPundit has a good round-up regarding media coverage of the Be~rg execution: Why The Big Media Continue To Lose Their Audience. Excerpts from the post:
From Neal Boortz:
This morning in most of the newspapers I scanned during my preparation for the show the top story was still the Iraqi prison abuse scandal. Ni~ck Be~rg had already disappeared from many front pages, but the prison abuse stories remain. May I suggest to you that there is a reason for this? Maybe it's just this simple: The prison abuse scandal can damage Bush, the Ni~ck Be~rg story can only help him. Given the choice many editors will chose the stories that serve their cause, getting Bush out of the White House, rather than one that hurts it.
From Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News:
Our letters page today is filled with nothing but Be~rg-related letters, most of them demanding that the DMN show more photos of the Be~rg execution. Not one of the 87 letters we received on the topic yesterday called for these images not to be printed. My sense is that there's a big backlash building against the media for flogging the Abu Ghraib photos, but being so delicate with the Be~rg images. People sense that there's an agenda afoot here. As somebody, can't remember who, wrote yesterday, "Why is it that the media can show over and over again pictures that could make Arabs hate Americans, but refuse to show pictures that could make Americans hate Arabs?"
From Glenn Reynolds:
These [media] guys are marginalizing themselves with their agenda-driven coverage. And they're so out of touch they don't realize it.
Michael Getler, ombudsman of The Washington Post, recently explained why it was important to publicize photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib: "The reality of war in all its aspects needs to be reported and photographed. That is the patriotic, and necessary, thing to do in a democracy." (Via Ace of Spades HQ via Gil Ronen)
Yet The Washington Post didn't publish photos of Ni~ck Be~rg's execution. Apparently they don't consider it patriotic to publicize -- much less dwell on -- our enemies' atrocities.
If you want to see the pictures big media don't want you to see, the following link contains stills from the video of Al Qaeda be~heading Ni~ck Be~rg: WARNING: Extremely graphic images.
After days of intense media coverage of the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, one could easily get the impression that certain American soldiers and their commanders are the most evil people in the world, much less Iraq.
The latest news should put things back into perspective: Video Shows Be~heading of American in Iraq
After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" -- "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.
Perhaps now the media will have a better idea of who the real enemy is in Iraq. Perhaps CNN will create an in-depth investigation into the death-worship, oppression, racism and murderous barbarism that is "systemic" to the Islamist ideology driving the terrorists. Perhaps Reuters will pen an exposé on the insurgents' "chain of command" and shine the harsh light of journalistic truth on Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia for providing moral and material support to terrorists. Perhaps AP will ask Al Qaeda to apologize to the families of its victims. Then again, perhaps not.
At least President Bush seems to know better than the media who the enemy is. The question is: What's he doing about it? Will President Bush unleash our military to do whatever is necessary to arrest, kill or otherwise render harmless the Islamist threat in Iraq? Or are we going to risk still more American lives in deference to world opinion and Islamic sensibilities?
Regarding Ni~ck Be~rg, the victim of this Islamist atrocity, CBS News reports: Slain Man Thought He Could 'Help'
Last week, before Be~rg's fate was known, his father said that his son had gone to Iraq partly out of a sense of adventure, partly for the opportunity for work, and partly because he was a "staunch supporter of the government position in Iraq and he wanted to go over there and help."
UPDATE: It took mere hours. The story that displaced the Ni~ck Be~rg murder story on CNN's main page is about Abu Ghraib: Senators to view abuse images Wednesday. And The New York Times follow-up is focusing on the one aspect of the story involving the American government in Iraq instead of focusing on the killers: From a Strange Encounter With Iraqi Police to Fatal Capture.
At the Abu Ghraib of jihad, however, innocents are slaughtered at will at the discretion of unholy warriors. In the al Zarqawi "detention centers," there are no laws, there are no codes, and there is no humanity; only a cult of death exists that demands the slaughter of innocents and perpetuates itself without justice or reflection.
Unfortunately, some among us may have fuelled the blood fiesta that was shown on the website. While Abu Ghraib has now become another way in which terrorists can legitimize killing innocent people, liberal and anti-American voices from this end of the world re-perpetrate this horrid logic, excessively assessing the so-called impact of the Iraqi soldiers abuse by their guards and declaring that the "reactions will be violent and bloody." In other words, they morally legitimized these bloody acts by seeing them as mere responses, not actions that are in line with a culture of death and hatred. So when the slaughter of Be~rg took place and was posted online, these same voices rushed to establish a moral equality between Abu Ghraib and the savage be~heading of an innocent young man. But no such equality exists.
Newsweek reports on Billy Roper, a new leader among American white supremacists: A Racist On the Rise. (Via Quent Cordair) Roper commented on the anti-semitic connection between his hate groups and Islamists:
The day after the 9/11 attacks, Roper posted a statement on the Web that read, in part: "Anyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill Jews is alright by me... The enemy of our enemy is, for now at least, our friend."
For more on anti-semitism, Islamism and neo-Nazis, see this report on the problem in Europe.
This cartoon was created in June 2002 and is included in our book, Black & White World.
UPDATE: Martin Lindeskog has more on the topic here.
CNN reports: Lawmakers to review new Iraq prison images
[Vice President Dick] Cheney issued a rare weekend statement Saturday in which he voiced support for Rumsfeld, calling him "the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. People ought to let him do his job." Cheney is also a former defense secretary. [...]
Cheney's statement followed calls by several Democrats for Rumsfeld's resignation after an Army report found numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" of Iraqis held at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
UPDATE: Charles Johnson highlighted a David Frum editorial on the reasons why Rumsfeld must stay:
1) Resignation would be utterly unjustified. The abuses in Abu Ghraib were in no way Donald Rumsfeld's fault. Nothing he ever said or did could have given anyone in the chain of command beneath him any reason to think that he countenanced or would countenance the humiliation and degradation of prisoners.
2) Resignation would be pointless. The damage done by the Abu Ghraib pictures is irretrievable. The president could fire his entire cabinet, without changing a single mind in the Arab world -- or for that matter Europe -- about what happened and why.
Johnson also noted some spot-on comments from Senator Joe Lieberman regarding who's really owed an apology:
"The behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American ... I cannot help but say, however, that those responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq, working to liberate Iraq and protect our security, have never apologized. And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never (apologized)..."
"I hope as we go about this investigation we do it in a way that does not dishonor the hundreds of thousands of Americans in uniform who are a lot more like Pat Tillman and Americans that are not known, like Army National Guard Sgt. Felix Delgreco, of Simsbury, Conn., who was killed in action a few weeks ago, that we not dishonor their service or discredit the cause that brought us to send them to Iraq, because it remains one that is just and necessary."
The first article notes that Bush is trying to counter a "worldwide wave of revulsion" over the prisoner abuse. Charles Johnson notes a disturbing double standard:
Remember that "worldwide wave of revulsion" when a pregnant Israeli mother and her four daughters were murdered in cold blood by Arabs who videotaped the atrocity? Remember the "worldwide wave of revulsion" when four security contractors helping to rebuild Iraq were burned alive, ripped apart, and hung from a bridge by Arabs in Fallujah? Remember the "worldwide wave of revulsion" when an Italian hostage was murdered by Arabs on video? ... You don't?
If our government and media pursued justice against Islamist tyrants and terrorists with the same vigor they display in pursuing our own criminals, perhaps the war could be won.
Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall recently made the news for penning yet another crass cartoon, this one denigrating Pat Tillman, the football star turned soldier recently killed in Afghanistan. Rall painted Tillman as a racist, bloodthirsty idiot who was just another cog in the "El Busho" war machine.
MSNBC.com decided to pull the cartoon because it "did not meet MSNBC.com standards of fairness and taste."
"The word 'hero' has been bandied about a lot to refer to anyone killed in Afghanistan or Iraq. But anyone who voluntarily goes to Afghanistan or Iraq [as a soldier] is fighting for an evil cause under an evil commander in chief."
Later Sullivan highlighted another Rall quote:
"My theory is that essentially, people don't like to think they're living in a country that's led by an evil, dictatorial madman. But they are, they are living in Nazi Germany, in Stalinist Russia."
In Rall's morally inverted view of reality, President Bush is equal to Hitler and Stalin, so by extension American soldiers under his command are jackbooted mass murderers, not heroes. Is it any wonder that Rall would find pleasure in kicking the corpse of a fallen American soldier?
The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby recently commented on Kerry's UN fetish.
No matter how the question is put, Kerry's answers on Iraq always boil down to a single recipe: Shrink the US role in Iraq and defer to the United Nations instead. That's it. That is the sum and substance of his thinking about Iraq. He doesn't relate it to the war on terrorism, to the future of liberty in the Middle East, to America's national interests. He repeatedly declares Bush a failure for not kowtowing to the UN and vows that in a Kerry administration, the UN will be given the commanding role it deserves.
Jacoby's title immediately reminded us of our cartoon about Howard Dean and Wesley Clark's U.N. fantasies. Since capitulating American interests to the U.N. has become a theme among Democratic presidential candidates, we thought it deserved revisiting with the latest front-runner.
"The liberators are worse than the dictators" ... "That really, really is the worst atrocity" ... Arab satellite televisions, seen by millions of Arabs and Muslims, began their news bulletins with the pictures, which they said showed the "savagery" of U.S. troops. ... "Americans are racists and cowards, that's what I understood from these pictures."
The article mentions the following only in passing:
The U.S. military has brought criminal charges against six soldiers relating to accusations of abuses from November and December 2003 on some 20 detainees, including indecent acts with another person, maltreatment, battery, dereliction of duty and aggravated assault.
After the Fallajah ambush and mutilations, or after the suicide bombings in Basra, or after the gunning down of four Israeli children and their pregnant mother, did anyone hear the 'Arab street' declare criminal charges should be -- much less would be -- brought against anybody?
The Arab world -- where the mass-murdering Osama bin Laden is often canonized -- is shocked by a pyramid of nude bodies and faux-electric prods, but has so far expressed less collective outrage in its media when the charred corpses of four Americans were poked and dismembered by cheering crowds in Fallujah. The taped murder of Daniel Pearl or a video of the hooded Italian who had his brains blown out -- this is the daily fare that emanates now from the television studios of the Middle East.
Indeed, if Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera could display the same umbrage over mass murder that they do over these recent accounts of shame and humiliation of the detained Iraqis, much of the gratuitous violence of the Middle East would surely diminish. The papers that now allege war crimes are the same state-controlled and censored media that print gleeful accounts of death and desecration of Westerners and promulgate an institutionalized anti-Semitism not seen since the Third Reich.