Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Atlantic Threats

Atlantic Threats

One of the great things about blogging about events and politics is that I can justify reading all sorts of crap that normal people can never find the time to read. One such sources of crap is The Atlantic, which, if you don't already know, is sort of a pseudo-intellectual version of Time. It is bearable because they run pieces by P.J. O'Rourke and Christopher Hitchens, two of the great contemporary zero base thinkers. They also can surprise, such as the time they ran one of the most cogent analyses of the global warming science, but that was back in 1998. Mostly, however they run ideologically driven pseudopolitical propaganda in between cutsie interviews that are soooo hip. Very little zero base thinking is in evidence, and its nemesis, common knowledge, is everywhere within its pages. A great example of the latter is in the latest edition in which they got 38 "foreign policy authorities—selected for their breadth of knowledge and first-hand experience in international affairs" to comment on and vote on the question: Q: Which states will pose the greatest overall threats to U.S. security over the next decade, either directly or indirectly?

The answers were scored thus:
1. Iran 18.5
2. North Korea 6
3. Pakistan 5
4. China 4
5. Saudi Arabia 5
6. Iraq 5
7. Russia 0.5

First of all, let us peruse the list of the "authorities" they chose:
Ken Adelman, Madeleine Albright, Graham Allison, Ronald Asmus, Sandy Berger, Daniel Blumenthal, Max Boot, Steven Bosworth, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ivo Daalder, James Dobbins, Lawrence Eagleburger, Leslie Gelb, Marc Grossman, Douglas Feith, John Gaddis, Jay Garner, John Hamre, Gary Hart, Bruce Hoffman, John Hulsman, Robert Hunter, Robert Kagan, David Kay, John Lehman, James Lindsay, Jessica Mathews, William Nash, Joseph Nye, Carlos Pascual, Kenneth Pollack, Thomas Pickering, Joseph Ralston, Wendy Sherman, Ann Marie Slaughter, James Steinberg, Susan Rice, and Anthony Zinni.
Without spending too much time on this, I would estimate that at least two thirds of the names on the list are associated with democrat administrations or leftie positions. Four republicans and three neocons are all I can recognize at first blush. So much for seeking a balanced view. Even so, why is it that my own reading of the scoring on the list of countries is that it is presented in reverse order? How is this possible?

I come to a different conclusion. First, I judge major, hostile powers with thousands of nukes, and fleets of planes and missiles, to be much greater potential threats than tiny countries, run by paranoid madmen, which have only a theoretical nuclear potential. So, I put China first, Russia second. But that is nitpicking next to my biggest complaint, which is, how is it possible that Iran got more than three times as many votes than anyone else? On my list they would be dead last.

Why? First, they have no nuclear weapons (yet). Second, as a result of the last four years of the Bush presidency, we have overwhelming forces poised on both their East and West borders. How much of a threat can they be under any scenario other than that of a bunch of leftie democrats taking over the American government? Even so, Iran's enemies list cannot have us at or near the top. Russia and Iraq are their great present and traditional enemies, with Kurdistan coming to the fore with the possible dissolution of Iraq. I don't even think that Israel is near the top of the list of countries that should worry about Iran. These two countries used to be great allies, and they still share the same enemy, the Arabs. Remember that Iran was recently at war with Iraq, but they never were at war with Israel.

Korea, with actual nukes and missiles to deliver them, must be considered a greater threat. The liklihood that they would launch an attack against us is at least as great as Iran's (zero), but their possesion of actual weapons puts them much higher on the threat list. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Under what scenario would they threaten us? Beats me. And Iraq? Now I am really lost. For Iraq to become a threat to us, we would have to completely fail in our mission there. Every responsible observer realizes that failure in Iraq would sow the seeds of global disaster. What, therefore, makes these "authorities" believe that we will fail there?

The answer is, what these results mean is that there is, rather than a foreign threat, there is a complete lack of belief in American willingness to pursue our own interests. This list makes no sense unless Iran gets nukes, we abandon Iraq, and Israel ceases to exist as a focus of Arab enmity. Add in a side order of Russia changing course abruptly and becoming a peaceful democracy, rather than the nuclear armed imperialists that they have become in the last decade. Assuming those predicates, I would be gloomy as well. But, unless we assume total American failure of will, this list is upside down at best, irrelevant at worst. That assumption would not be just pessimistic, it would be paranoid. And defeatist. Leftist.

Monday, March 20, 2006

They Kill Christians, Don't They?

They Kill Christians, Don't They?

In a little covered story, we found out this weekend that Afghanistan is about to execute a man for converting to Christianity. Mind now, this is happening in one of our best allies in the region. The situation compels two quick observations. One is, the "religion of peace" is capable of murder on a scale that the Western mind has a hard time even accepting as real. The other is that our leaders are in denial about this fact.

Why the silence? Bush and his administration obviously want to keep this quiet, but why are the New York Times, Washington Post, and their ilk keeping this story off of their pages as well? The San Jose Mercury news has it, and it contains this:
The defendant, 41-year-old Abdul Rahman, was arrested last month after his family accused him of becoming a Christian, Judge Ansarullah Mawlavezada told the Associated Press in an interview. Rahman was charged with rejecting Islam, and his trial started Thursday.

During the one-day hearing, the defendant confessed that he converted from Islam to Christianity 16 years ago while working as a medical aid worker for an international Christian group helping Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Mawlavezada said.

``We are not against any particular religion in the world. But in Afghanistan, this sort of thing is against the law,'' the judge said. ``It is an attack on Islam.''

Afghanistan's constitution is based on Shariah law, which is interpreted by many Muslims to require that any Muslim who rejects Islam be sentenced to death, said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, deputy chairman of the state-sponsored Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.

Repeated attempts to interview Rahman in detention were barred.

The prosecutor, Abdul Wasi, said he had offered to drop the charges if Rahman converted back to Islam, but he refused.
Now, as Afghanistan is a country which I know quite well, let me add a bit to the story. First, there are very small quantities of people of other faiths living there. I even visited a synagogue there. Those people are a protected class under Sharia, known by its Arabic name of Dhimmi. They pay a small annual tax, have limited rights, such as not being allowed to vote, but on the whole they are legally permitted their existence and lives, and allowed to practice their religion, as long as they are not too overt about it. The Jews I met there wear turban and Jalwar Kameez, just like everyone else. But their lives are not in danger.

The issue here is conversion. A Muslim may not convert to any other religion. Ever. The sentence is death. The accused are given a chance to renounce their new faith, and restore their Islamism. If they refuse, they die. That simple. Just like Mo put down in the Koran. This is nothing new. After all, Islam means submission, and it really means, submit, or die.

Our nation, nay, our civilization, needs to come to grips with Islam as it is, not as we wish it to be. This story is of signal importance. It needs to be told. The government of Hamid Karzai, our friends, are about to execute a man because he will not renounce Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Evolution vs. Design: Score One for Darwin

Evolution vs. Design: Score One for Darwin

The debate between those who believe that all the living things in the
universe are the result of a chain of purely random events, and those who believe that some things are too complicated for random chance to design them, has just, very quietly, been given a nudge in the direction of order arising out of random chaos. While this Great Question is one that will not, by its very nature, be actually solved to everyone's satisfaction, a little-remarked discovery that will appear in an article in tomorrow's edition of the journal Nature might shine a bit of light on the controversy.

The crux of the argument for Intelligent Design, at least for those who do not believe that the Designer has the other qualities we would attribute to an all-powerful, all-seeing God, is the very complication and organization that would be needed to transform a puddle of chemicals into a living cell. The Darwinists have answered this objection with a melange of theories which postulate some sort of counterintuitive process that establishes order out of chaos, something they call the theory of self-organization,. Sometimes. More usually, they attempt to conflate I.D. with creationism, and then rail against belief in a diety (As the Enlightened Caveman did last year).

This debate has devolved into one in which both sides are dug in, and will defend their side with religious fervor. But for those of us who have not really taken a side in this one, a piece of evidence has emerged that puts some weight into the random chance camp's argument. I wonder if anyone (besides us) will notice.

It seems that an object of galactic size has been discovered that takes the form of a double helix. That is, the very same form as a DNA molecule. Which is the very molecule that is the difference between a puddle of chemicals and a living cell. Moreover, the scientists that made this discovery have a theory that describes how magnetic fields work to create this specific type of order upon this chaotic system. Now, do not expect astronomers to draw connections between the macro world of the Cosmos and the micro world of Biology, but the rest of us are free to allow our imaginations to roam. If a specific magnetic process orders suns as they are being sucked into a black hole into a double helix, then there might be other, similar processes that will order molecules of acids into the very same shape. Not random at all. To this we might add that recent discoveries show that, more than four billion years ago, before the primordial Earth had a breathable atmosphere, it was infested with abundant bacterial life.

That sort of ups the ante, doesn't it?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

What Civil War?

What Civil War?

Ralph Peters is in Baghdad today, and he puts the lie to these near-hysterical ravings about the civil war that left-leaning commentators wish would erupt in Iraq. As Ralph puts it:
THE reporting out of Baghdad continues to be hysterical and dishonest. There is no civil war in the streets. None. Period.

Terrorism, yes. Civil war, no. Clear enough?

Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.
And if that is not enough, he concludes:
Most Iraqis want better government, better lives — and democracy. It is contagious, after all. Come on over. Talk to them. Watch them risk their lives every day to work with us or with their government to build their own future.

Oh, the attacks will continue. They're even predictable, if not always preventable. Driving through Baghdad's Kerada Peninsula District, my humvee passed long gas lines as people waited to fill their tanks in the wake of the curfew. I commented to the officer giving me a lift that the dense lines of cars and packed gas stations offered great targets to the terrorists. An hour later, one was hit with a car bomb.

The bombing made headlines (and a news photographer just happened to be on the scene). Here in Baghdad, it just made the average Iraqis hate the terrorists even more.

You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.
Is it clear enough to you yet?