Friday, June 25, 2004

Favorite characters from fiction:

In no particular order...

1. John Galt Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged
2. Howard Roard Ayn Rand's Fountainhead
3. Lazarus Long Robert A. Heinlein's Methuselah's Children and Enough For Love
4. Mike the Computer Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
5. Bernardo de la Paz Robert A. Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
6. Dominic Flandry Pohl Anderson several books
7. Nicholas van Rijn Pohl Anderson several books
8. Johnny Goodboy Tyler L Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth-(Book,not the God-Awful Movie)
9. John Clark Tom Clancy's Series
10.Jack Ryan Tom Clancy's Series
11.Stu Redman Steven King's The Stand
Many More, I'll add as I go along.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

The Richard Reid Verdict Came at the end of Jan. I just saw it for the first time.

Richard Reid Verdict

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


June 22, 2004

(Note: An edited version of this was published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Letters to the Editors, June 22, 2004 under the title of: "Clinton book will overshadow Kerry")

Bill Clinton is easily compared to the worst episodes of some endless movie that once had some sort of cohesiveness but now is just forever returning in sequel after sequel.

Even the New York Times--no bastion of conservative conspiracy--has panned the book as "The book, which weighs in at more than 950 pages, is sloppy, self-indulgent and often eye-crossingly dull — the sound of one man prattling away, not for the reader, but for himself and some distant recording angel of history."

The good side of all of the publicity the former President is receiving is that it reminds people of one of the best arguements that George W. Bush had in 2000. He would return dignity and honour to the White House. Reports of Mr. Clinton getting angry at questions about his "affair" with Monica Lewinsky in the Daily Telegraph from the UK remind us of the disdain with which Bill Clinton held the office of the presidency. His impeachment as a purgeror he lists as a "badge of courage".

I firmly believe that this is all part of the campaign to insure Kerry is not elected. He wants Sen. Clinton (Hillary) to have an unencumbered run at the presidency in 2008. It is, after all, only her just reward for supporting him throughout his administration. The newest polls show GW Bush as now back ahead in the race and that is exactly where the Clintons want him.

I look forward to months of Bill Clinton dominating the Liberal news agencies. Even Fox News will spend an inordinate amount of time on "the book" but in the long run, it will probably be a good thing. If it helps prevent John (Vietnam Hero) Kerry from being elected, it is a good thing.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Saint Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V by William Shakespeare

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
June 18, 2004

Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Modern History Sourcebook: Winston Churchill: "Their Finest Hour", 1940

One of Chruchill's better speeches. A lot of what he says can be applied to today.

Winston Churchill: "Their Finest Hour"


To the House of Commons, 18 June 1940

I spoke the other day of the colossal military disaster which occurred when the French High Command failed to withdraw the Northern Armies from Belgium at the moment when they knew that the French front was decisively broken at Sedan and on the Meuse. This delay entailed the loss of fifteen or sixteen French divisions and threw out of action for the critical period the whole of the British Expeditionary Force. Our Army and 120,000 French troops were indeed rescued by the British Navy from Dunkirk but only with the loss of their cannon, vehicles and modem equipment. This loss inevitably took some weeks to repair, and in the first two of those weeks the battle in France has been lost. When we consider the heroic resistance made by the French Army against heavy odds in this battle, the enormous losses inflicted upon the enemy and the evident exhaustion of the enemy, it may well be thought that these twenty-five divisions of the best-trained and bestequipped troops might have turned the scale. However, General Weygand had to fight without them. Only three British divisions or their equivalent were able to stand in the line with their French comrades. They had suffered severely, but they had fought well. We sent every man we could to France as fast as we could re-equip and transport their formations.

I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of recrimination. That I judge to be utterly futile and even harmful. We cannot afford it. I recite them in order to explain why it was we did not have, as we could have had, between twelve and fourteen British divisions fighting in the line in this great battle instead of only three. Now I put all this aside. I put it on the shelf, from which the historians, when they have time, will select their documents to tell their stories. We have to think of the future and not of the past. This also applies in a small way to our own affairs at home. There are many who would hold an inquest in the House of Commons on the conduct of the Governments-and of Parliaments, for they are in it, too-during the years which led up to this catastrophe. They seek to indict those who were responsible for the guidance of our affairs. This also would be a foolish and pernicious process. There are too many in it. Let each man search his conscience and search his speeches. I frequently search mine.

Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future. Therefore, I cannot accept the drawing of any distinctions between Members of the present Government. It was formed at a moment of crisis in order to unite all the parties and all sections of opinion. It has received the almost unanimous support of both Houses of Parliament. Its Members are going to stand together, and, subject to the authority of the House of Commons, we are going to govern the country and fight the war. It is absolutely necessary at a time like this that every Minister who tries each day to do his duty shall be respected; and their subordinates must know that their chiefs are not threatened men, men who are here today and gone tomorrow, but that their directions must be punctually and faithfully obeyed. Without this concentrated power we cannot face what lies before us. I should not think it would be very advantageous for the House to prolong this Debate this afternoon under conditions of public stress. Many facts are not clear that will be clear in a short time. We are to have a Secret Session on Thursday, and I should think that would be a better opportunity for the many earnest expressions of opinion which Members will desire to make and for the House to discuss vital matters without having everything read the next morning by our dangerous foes.

The disastrous military events which have happened during, the past fortnight have not come to me with any sense of surprise. Indeed, I indicated a fortnight ago as clearly as I could to the House that the worst possibilities were open; and I made it perfectly clear then that whatever happened in France would make no difference to the resolve of Britain and the British Empire to fight on, 'if necessary for years, if necessary alone.' During the last few days we have successfully brought off the great majority of the troops we had on the lines of communication in France; and seven-eighths of the troops we have sent to France since the beginning of the war-that is to say, about 350,000 out Of 400,000 men-are safely back in this country. Others are still fighting with the French, and fighting with considerable success in their local encounters against the enemy. We have also brought back a great mass of stores, rifles and munitions of all kinds which had been accumulated in France during the last nine months.

We have, therefore, in this island today a very large and powerful military force. This force comprises all our best-trained and our finest troops, including scores of thousands of those who have already measured their quality against the Germans and found themselves at no disadvantage. We have under arms at the present time in this island over a million and a quarter men. Behind these we have the Local Defence Volunteers, numbering half a million, only a portion of whom, however, are yet armed with rifles or other firearms. We have incorporated into our Defence Forces every man for whom we have a weapon. We expect very large additions to our weapons in the near future, and in preparation for this we intend forthwith to call up, drill and train further large numbers. Those who are not called up, or else are employed upon the vast business of munitions production in all its branches-and their ramifications are innumerable-will serve their country best by remaining at their ordinary work until they receive their summons. We have also over here Dominions armies. The Canadians had actually landed in France, but have now been safely withdrawn, much disappointed, but in perfect order, with all their artillery and equipment. And these very high-class forces from the Dominions will now take part in the defence of the Mother Country.

Lest the account which I have given of these large forces should raise the question: Why did they not take part in the great battle in France? I must make it clear that, apart from the divisions training and organizing at home, only twelve divisions were equipped to fight upon a scale which justified their being sent abroad. And this was fully up to the number which the French had been led to expect would be available in France at the ninth month of the war. The rest of our forces at home have fighting value for home defence which will, of course, steadily increase every week that passes. Thus, the invasion of Great Britain would at this time require the transportation across the sea of hostile armies on a very large scale, and after they been so transported they would have to be continually maintained with all the masses of munitions and supplies which are required for continuous battle-as continuous battle it will surely be.

Here is where we come to the Navy - and after all, we have a Navy. Some people seem to forget that we have a Navy. We must remind them. For the last thirty years I have been concerned in discussions about the possibilities of overseas invasion, and I took the responsibility on behalf of the Admiralty, at the beginning of the last war, of allowing all regular troops to be sent out of the country. That was a very serious step to take, because our Territorials had only just been called up and were quite untrained. Therefore, this island was for several months practically denuded of fighting troops. The Admiralty had confidence at that time in their ability to prevent a mass invasion even though at that time the Germans had a magnificent battle fleet the proportion of ten to sixteen, even though they were capable of fighting a general engagement every day and any day, whereas now they have only a couple of heavy ships worth speaking of - the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. We are also told that the Italian Navy is to come out and gain sea superiority in these waters. If they seriously intend it, 1 shall only say that we shall be delighted to offer Signor Mussolini a free and safeguarded passage through the Straits of Gibraltar in order that he may play the part to which he aspires. There is a general curiosity in the British Fleet to find out whether the Italians are up to the level they were at in the last war or whether they have fallen off at all.

Therefore, it seems to me that as far as seaborne invasion on a great scale is concerned, we are far more capable of meeting it today than we were at many periods in the last war and during the early months of this war, before our other troops were trained, and while the BEF [British Expeditionary Force] had proceeded abroad. Now, the Navy have never pretended to be able to prevent raids by bodies of 5,000 or 10,000 men flung suddenly across and thrown ashore at several points on the coast some dark night or foggy morning. The efficacy of sea-power, especially under modern conditions, depends upon the invading force being of large size. It has to be of large size, in view of our military strength, to be of any use. If it is of large size, then the Navy have something they can find and meet and, as it were, bite on. Now we must remember that even five divisions, however lightly equipped, would require 200 to 250 ships, and with modern air reconnaissance and photography it would not be easy to collect such an armada, marshal it and conduct it across the sea without any powerful naval forces to escort it; and there would be very great possibilities, to put it mildly, that this armada would be intercepted long before it reached the coast, and all the men drowned in the sea or, at the worst, blown to pieces with their equipment while they were trying to land. We also have a great system of minefields, recently strongly reinforced, through which we alone know the channels. If the enemy tries to sweep passages through these minefields, it will be the task of the Navy to destroy the minesweepers and any other forces employed to protect them. There should be no difficulty in this, owing to our great superiority at sea.

Those are the regular, well-tested, well-proved arguments on which we have relied during many years in peace and war. But the question is whether there are any new methods by which those solid assurances can be circumvented. Odd as it may seem, some attention has been given to this by the Admiralty, whose prime duty and responsibility it is to destroy any large seaborne expedition before it reaches, or at the moment when it reaches these shores. It would not be a good thing for me to go into details of this. It might suggest ideas to other people which they have not thought of, and they would not be likely to give us any of their ideas in exchange. All I will say is that untiring vigilance and mind-searching must be devoted to the subject, because the enemy is crafty and cunning and full of novel treacheries and stratagems. The House may be assured that the utmost ingenuity is being displayed and imagination is being evoked from large numbers of competent officers, well trained in tactics and thoroughly up to date, to measure and counterwork novel possibilities. Untiring vigilance and untiring searching of the mind is being, and must be, devoted to the subject, because, remember, the enemy is crafty and there is no dirty trick he will not do.

Some people will ask why, then, was it that the British Navy was not able to prevent the movement of a large army from Germany into Norway across the Skaggerak? But the conditions in the Channel and in the North Sea are in no way like those which prevail in the Skaggerak. In the Skaggerak, because of the distance, we could give no air support to our surface ships, and consequently, lying as we did close to the enemy's main air power, we were compelled to use only our submarines. We could not enforce the decisive blockade or interruption which is possible from surface vessels. Our submarines took a heavy toll but could not, by themselves, prevent the invasion of Norway. In the Channel and in the North Sea, on the other hand, our superior naval surface forces, aided by our submarines, will operate with close and effective air assistance.

This brings me, naturally, to the great question of invasion from the air, and of the impending struggle between the British and German Air Forces. It seems quite clear that no invasion on a scale beyond the capacity of our land forces to crush speedily is likely to take place from the air until our Air Force has been definitely overpowered. In the meantime, there may be raids by parachute troops and attempted descents of airborne soldiers. We should be able to give those gentry a warm reception, both in the air and on the ground, if they reach it in any condition to continue the dispute. But the great question is: Can we break Hitler's air weapon? Now, of course, it is a very great pity that we have not got an Air Force at least equal to that of the most powerful enemy within striking distance of these shores. But we have a very powerful Air Force which has proved itself far superior in. quality, both in men and in many types of machine, to what we have met so far in the numerous and fierce air battles which have been fought with the Germans. In France, where we were at a considerable disadvantage and lost many machines on the ground when they were standing round the aerodromes, we were accustomed to inflict in the air losses of as much as two to two-and-a-half to one. In the fighting over Dunkirk, which was a sort of no-man's land, we undoubtedly beat the German Air Force, and gained the mastery of the local air, inflicting here a loss of three or four to one day after day. Anyone who looks at the photographs which were published a week or so ago of the re-embarkation, showing the masses of troops assembled on the beach and forming an ideal target for hours at a time, must realize that this re-embarkation would not have been possible unless the enemy had resigned all hope of recovering air superiority at iat time and at that place.

In the defence of this island the advantages to the defenders will be much greater than they were in the fighting around Dunkirk. We hope to improve on the rate of three or four to one which was realized at Dunkirk; and in addition all our injured machines and their crews which get down safe-and, surprisingly, a very great many injured machines and men do get down safely in modern air fighting-all of these will fall, in an attack upon these islands, on friendly soil and live to fight another day; whereas all the injured enemy machines and their complements will be total losses as far as the war is concerned.

During the great battle in France, we gave very powerful and continuous aid to the French Army, both by fighters and bombers; but in spite of every kind of pressure we never would allow the entire metropolitan fighter strength of the Air Force to be consumed. This decision was painful, but it was also right, because the fortunes of the battle in France could not have been decisively affected even if we had thrown in our entire fighter force. That battle was lost by the unfortunate strategical opening, by the extraordinary and unforeseen power of the armoured columns and by the great preponderance of the German Army in numbers. Our fighter Air Force might easily have been exhausted as a mere accident in that great struggle, and then we should have found ourselves at the present time in a very serious plight. But as it is, 1 am happy to inform the House that our fighter strength is stronger at the present time relatively to the Germans, who have suffered terrible losses, than it has ever been; and consequently we believe ourselves possessed of the capacity to continue the war in the air under better conditions than we have ever experienced before. 1 look forward confidently to the exploits of our fighter pilots-these splendid men, this brilliant youth-who will have the glory of saving their native land, their island home, and all they love, from the most deadly of all attacks.

There remains, of course, the danger of bombing attacks, which will certainly be made very soon upon us by the bomber forces of the enemy. It is true that the German bomber force is superior in numbers to ours; but we have a very large bomber force also, which we shall use to strike at military targets in Germany without intermission. 1 do not at all underrate the severity of the ordeal which lies before us; but 1 believe our countrymen will show themselves capable of standing up to it, like the brave men of Barcelona, and will be able to stand up to it, and carry on in spite of it, at least as well as any other people in the world. Much will depend upon this; every man and every woman will have the chance to show the finest qualities of their race, and render the highest service to their cause. For all of us, at this time, whatever our sphere, our station, our occupation or our duties, it will be a help to remember the famous lines:

He nothing common did or mean,
Upon that memorable scene.

I have thought it right upon this occasion to give the House and the country some indication of the solid, practical grounds upon which we base our inflexible resolve to continue the war. There are a good many people who say, 'Never mind. Win or lose, sink or swim, better die than submit to tyranny - and such a tyranny.' And I do not dissociate myself from them. But I can assure them that our professional advisers of the three Services unitedly advise that we should carry on the war, and that there are good and reasonable hopes of final victory. We have fully informed and consulted all the self-governing Dominions, these great communities far beyond the oceans who have been built up on our laws and on our civilization, and who are absolutely free to choose their course, but are absolutely devoted to the ancient Motherland, and who feel themselves inspired by the same emotions which lead me to stake our all upon duty and honour. We have fully consulted them, and I have received from their Prime Ministers, Mr Mackenzie King of Canada, Mr Menzies of Australia, Mr Fraser of New Zealand, and General Smuts of South Africa [these were the self-governing dominions of the British Empire]- that wonderful man, with his immense profound mind, and his eye watching from a distance the whole panorama of European affairs - I have received from all these eminent men, who all have Governments behind them elected on wide franchises, who are all there because they represent the will of their people, messages couched in the most moving terms in which they endorse our decision to fight on, and declare themselves ready to share our fortunes and to persevere to the end. That is what we are going to do.

We may now ask ourselves: In what way has our position worsened since the beginning of the war? It has worsened by the fact that the Germans have conquered a large part of the coastline of Western Europe, and many small countries have been overrun by them. This aggravates the possibilities of air attack and adds to our naval preoccupations. It in no way diminishes, but on the contrary definitely increases, the power of our longdistance blockade. Similarly, the entrance of Italy into the war increases the power of our long-distance blockade. We have stopped the worst leak by that. We do not know whether military resistance will come to an end in France or not, but should it do so, then of course, the Germans will be able to concentrate their forces, both military and industrial, upon us. But for the reasons I have given to the House these will not be found so easy to apply. If invasion has become more imminent, as no doubt it has, we, being relieved from the task of maintaining a large army in France, have far larger and more efficient forces to meet it.

If Hitler can bring under his despotic control the industries of the countries he has conquered, this will add greatly to his already vast armament output. On the other hand, this will not happen immediately, and we are now assured of immense, continuous and increasing support in supplies and munitions of all kinds from the United States; and especially of airplanes and pilots from the Dominions and across the oceans, coming from regions which are beyond the reach of enemy bombers.

I do not see how any of these factors can operate to our detriment on balance before the winter comes; and the winter will impose a strain upon the Nazi regime, with almost all Europe writhing and starving under its cruel heel, which, for all their ruthlessness, will run them very hard. We must not forget that from the moment when we declared war on the 3 September it was always possible for Germany to turn all her air force upon this country, together with any other devices of invasion she might conceive, and that France could have done little or nothing to prevent her doing so. We have, therefore, lived under this danger, in principle and in a slightly modified form, during all these months. In the meanwhile, however, we have enormously improved our methods of defence, and we have learned, what we had no right to assume at the beginning, namely, that the individual aircraft and the individual British pilot have a sure and definite superiority. Therefore, in casting up this dread balance sheet and contemplating our dangers with a disillusioned eye, I see great reason for intense vigilance and exertion but none whatever for panic or despair.

During the first four years of the last war the Allies experienced nothing but disaster and disappointment. That was our constant fear: one blow after another, terrible losses, frightful dangers. Everything miscarried. And yet at the end of those four years the morale of the Allies was higher than that of the Germans, who had moved from one aggressive triumph to another, and who stood everywhere triumph?int invaders of the lands into which they had broken. During that war we repeatedly asked ourselves the question: How are we going to win? And no one was able ever to answer it with much precision, until at the end, quite suddenly, quite unexpectedly, our terrible foe collapsed before us, and we were so glutted with victory that in our folly we threw it away.

We do not yet know what will happen in France or whether the French resistance will be prolonged, both in France and in the French Empire overseas. The French Government will be throwing away great opportunities and casting adrift their future if they do not continue the war in accordance with their Treaty obligations, from which we have not felt able to release them. The House will have read the historic declaration in which, at the desire of many Frenchmen - and of our own hearts - we have proclaimed our willingness at the darkest hour in French history to conclude a union of common citizenship in this struggle. However matters may go in France or with the French Government, or other French Governments, we in this island and in the British Empire will never lose our sense of comradeship with the French people. If we are now called upon to endure what they have been suffering, we shall emulate their courage, and if final victory rewards our toils they shall share the gains, aye, and freedom shall be restored to all. We abate nothing of our just demands; not one jot or tittle do we recede. Czechs, Poles, Norwegians, Dutch, Belgians have joined their causes to our own. All these shall be restored.

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Typical Military Units

Name.....Number of Troops....Number of Sub Units...Officer in charge
Corps.........30,000+.................Varies....................Lieutenant General
Division......10,000-20,000......4 Brigades..............Major General
Brigade.......2,000-5,000..........2+ Regiments..........Brigadier General
Regiment.....U.K. 650+..............1+ Battalion............Brigadier or Colonel
Battalion......300-1,000............2-6 Companies.........Lieutenant Colonel
Company.....150-300................6 Platooons.............Captain
Platoon........30-40....................2+ Squads...............First or Second Lt. Squad..........12...........................2+ Fireteams..........NCO--Staff Sgt

What is really going on in the War On Terror

June 18, 2004

I think that if you consider the tenants of the religions involved in the middle east conflict you might have some idea of what is going on in the small part of the war on terror (WWIV) in Israel. I am neither a Jew or a Moslem. The information I have seen indicates that the Jews can live in peace with almost anyone, including the Moslems. If you doubt that, ask yourself where the Islamic people in the middle east have the most freedom. In no other area of the middle east do the Islamic people of the country have such freedoms as the right to vote?

It seems that the Islamic religion does not preach living in harmony with others but instead, depending on how you read it, it preaches killing the infidel. Judaism does not teach it's believers that if you are not a Jew you should be killed or conquered. Islam does.

The most pressing problem in the War On Terror is to get the Islamic faith to modernize itself. As long as the great leaders of the "Religion of Peace" continue to issue rulings that mutilation of infidels is acceptable and that martyrism is a good thing and that people that do not believe must be forced to comply with Islamic law we will have this war.

The War On Terror is truly World War IV. We won the first three, two in Europe and/or Asia. We won the third against the Soviet Union. If we are to win the current war, the American people must decide we are at war. It is not a series of criminal actions around the world. This is a war against militant Islam. There will always be militants as long as the religion preaches as is currently does. It is badly in need of modernization. The Caliphs of the 10th century would be quite at home in the home of a "modern" Iranian Imam.

In order for peace to "erupt" throughout the world, the western world must recognize that its very existence is at risk and do something about it and the Islamic population of the world must reform. Until that happens, the civilized world will be stuck in defensive mode, losing more and more freedoms to the need for self defense.

The next major terrorist attack in this country will do two things. First it will wake up some people--at least temporally to the fact that it is a war in progress and it will cause more loss of liberty.

I don't want to see more Americans killed in this war. Unfortunately, I will.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Feeding the Minotaur

June 14, 2004

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson

June 14, 2004, 8:11 a.m.
Feeding the Minotaur
Our strange relationship with the terrorists continues.

As long as the mythical Athenians were willing to send, every nine years, seven maidens and seven young men down to King Minos's monster in the labyrinth, Athens was left alone by the Cretan fleet. The king rightly figured that harvesting just enough Athenians would remind them of their subservience without leading to open rebellion — as long as somebody impetuous like a Theseus didn't show up to wreck the arrangement.

Ever since the storming of the Tehran embassy in November 1979 we Americans have been paying the same sort of human tribute to grotesque Islamofascists. Over the last 25 years a few hundred of our own were cut down in Lebanon, East Africa, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Yemen, and New York on a semi-annual basis, even as the rules of the tribute to be paid — never spoken, but always understood — were rigorously followed.

In exchange for our not retaliating in any meaningful way against the killers — addressing their sanctuaries in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, or Syria, or severing their financial links in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia — Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and their various state-sanctioned kindred operatives agreed to keep the number killed to reasonable levels. They were to reap their lethal harvests abroad and confine them mostly to professional diplomats, soldiers, or bumbling tourists, whose disappearance we distracted Americans would predictably chalk up to the perils of foreign service and exotic travel.

Despite the occasional fiery rhetoric, both sides found the informal Minoan arrangement mutually beneficial. The terrorists believed that they were ever so incrementally, ever so insidiously eroding America's commitment to a pro-Western Middle East. We offered our annual tribute so that over the decades we could go from Dallas to Extreme Makeover and Madonna to Britney without too much distraction or inconvenience.

But then a greedy, over-reaching bin Laden wrecked the agreement on September 11. Or did he?

Murdering 3,000 Americans, destroying a city block in Manhattan, and setting fire to the Pentagon were all pretty tough stuff. And for a while it won fascists and their state sponsors an even tougher response in Afghanistan and Iraq that sent hundreds to caves and thousands more to paradise. And when we have gotten serious in the postbellum reconstruction, thugs like Mr. Sadr have backed down. But before we gloat and think that we've overcome our prior laxity and proclivity for appeasement, let us first make sure we are not still captives to the Minotaur's logic.

True, al Qaeda is now scattered, the Taliban and Saddam gone. But the calculus of a quarter century — threaten, hit, pause, wait; threaten, hit, pause, wait — is now entrenched in the minds of Middle Eastern murderers. Indeed, the modus operandi that cynically plays on Western hopes, liberalism, and fair play is gospel now to all sorts of bin Laden epigones — as we have seen in Madrid, Fallujah, and Najaf.

Much has been written about our problems with this postmodern war and why we find it so difficult to fully mobilize our formidable military and economic clout to crush the terrorists and their patrons. Of course, we have no identifiable conventional enemy such as Hitler's Panzers; we are not battling a fearsome nation that defiantly declared war on us, such as Tojo's Japan; and we are no longer a depression-era, disarmed, impoverished United States at risk for our very survival. But then, neither Hitler nor Mussolini nor Tojo nor Stalin ever reached Manhattan and Washington.

So al Qaeda is both worse and not worse than the German Nazis: It is hardly the identifiable threat of Hitler's Wehrmacht, but in this age of technology and weapons of mass destruction it is more able to kill more Americans inside the United States. Whereas we think our fascist enemies of old were logical and conniving, too many of us deem bin Laden's new fascists unhinged — their fatwas, their mythology about strong and weak horses, and their babble about the Reconquista and the often evoked "holy shrines" are to us dreamlike.

But I beg to differ somewhat.

I think the Islamists and their supporters do not live in an alternate universe, but instead are no more crazy in their goals than Hitler was in thinking he could hijack the hallowed country of Beethoven and Goethe and turn it over to buffoons like Goering, prancing in a medieval castle in reindeer horns and babbling about mythical Aryans with flunkies like Goebbels and Rosenberg. Nor was Hitler's fatwa — Mein Kampf — any more irrational than bin Laden's 1998 screed and his subsequent grainy infomercials. Indeed, I think Islamofascism is brilliant in its reading of the postmodern West and precisely for that reason it is dangerous beyond all description — in the manner that a blood-sucking, stealthy, and nocturnal Dracula was always spookier than a massive, clunky Frankenstein.

Like Hitler's creed, bin Ladenism trumpets contempt for bourgeois Western society. If once we were a "mongrel" race of "cowboys" who could not take casualties against the supermen of the Third Reich, now we are indolent infidels, channel surfers who eat, screw, and talk too much amid worthless gadgetry, godless skyscrapers, and, of course, once again, the conniving Jews.

Like Hitler, bin Ladenism has an agenda: the end of the liberal West. Its supposedly crackpot vision is actually a petrol-rich Middle East free of Jews, Christians, and Westerners, free to rekindle spiritual purity under Sharia. Bin Laden's al Reich is a vast pan-Arabic, Taliban-like caliphate run out of Mecca by new prophets like him, metering out oil to a greedy West in order to purchase the weapons of its destruction; there is, after all, an Israel to be nuked, a Europe to be out-peopled and cowered, and an America to be bombed and terrorized into isolation. This time we are to lose not through blood and iron, but through terror and intimidation: televised beheadings, mass murders, occasional bombings, the disruption of commerce, travel, and the oil supply.

In and of itself, our enemies' ambitions would lead to failure, given the vast economic and military advantages of the West. So to prevent an all out, terrible response to these predictable cycles of killing Westerners, there had to be some finesse to the terrorists' methods. The trick was in preventing some modern Theseus from going into the heart of the Labyrinth to slay the beast and end the nonsense for good.

It was hard for the Islamic fascists to find ideological support in the West, given their agenda of gender apartheid, homophobia, religious persecution, racial hatred, fundamentalism, polygamy, and primordial barbarism. But they sensed that there has always been a current of self-loathing among the comfortable Western elite, a perennial search for victims of racism, economic oppression, colonialism, and Christianity. Bin Laden's followers weren't white; they were sometimes poor; they inhabited of former British and French colonies; and they weren't exactly followers of the no-nonsense Pope or Jerry Falwell. If anyone doubts the nexus between right-wing Middle Eastern fascism and left-wing academic faddishness, go to booths in the Free Speech area at Berkeley or see what European elites have said and done for Hamas. Middle Eastern fascist killers enshrined as victims alongside our own oppressed? That has been gospel in our universities for the last three decades.

Like Hitler, bin Ladenism grasped the advantages of hating the Jews. It has been 60 years since the Holocaust; memories dim. Israel is not poor and invaded but strong, prosperous, and unapologetic. It is high time, in other words, to unleash the old anti-Semitic infectious bacillus. Thus Zionists caused the latest Saudi bombings, just as they have poisoned Arab-American relations, just as neo-conservatives hijacked American policy, just as Feith, Perle, and Wolfowitz cooked up this war.

Finally, bin Laden understood the importance of splitting the West, just like the sultan of old knew that a Europe trisected into Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism would fight among itself rather than unite against a pan-Islamic foe. Hit the Spanish and bring in an anti-American government. Leave France and Germany alone for a time so they can blame the United States for mobilizing against a "nonexistent" threat, unleashing the age-old envy and jealously of the American upstart.

If after four years of careful planning, al Qaedists hit the Olympics in August, the terrorists know better than we do that most Europeans will do nothing — but quickly point to the U.S. and scream "Iraq!" And they know that the upscale crowds in Athens are far more likely to boo a democratic America than they are a fascist Syria or theocratic Iran. Just watch.

In the European mind, and that of its aping American elite, the terrorists lived, slept, and walked in the upper aether — never the streets of Kabul, the mosques of Damascus, the palaces of Baghdad, the madrassas of Saudi Arabia, or the camps of Iran. To assume that the latter were true would mean a real war, real sacrifice, and a real choice between the liberal bourgeois West and a Dark-Age Islamofascist utopia.

While all Westerners prefer the bounty of capitalism, the delights of personal freedom, and the security of modern technological progress, saying so and not apologizing for it — let alone defending it — is, well, asking a little too much from the hyper sophisticated and cynical. Such retrograde clarity could cost you, after all, a university deanship, a correspondent billet in Paris or London, a good book review, or an invitation to a Georgetown or Malibu A-list party.

Nearly three years after 9/11 we are in the strangest of all paradoxes: a war against fascists that we can easily win but are clearly not ready to fully wage. We have the best 500,000 soldiers in the history of civilization, a resolute president, and an informed citizenry that has already received a terrible preemptive blow that killed thousands.

Yet what a human comedy it has now all become.

The billionaire capitalist George Soros — who grew fabulously wealthy through cold and calculating currency speculation, helping to break many a bank and its poor depositors — now makes the moral equation between 9/11 and Abu Ghraib. For this ethicist and meticulous accountant, 3,000 murdered in a time of peace are the same as some prisoners abused by renegade soldiers in a time of war.

Recently in the New York Times I read two articles about the supposedly new irrational insensitivity toward Muslims and saw an ad for a book detailing how the West "constructed" and exaggerated the Islamic menace — even as the same paper ran a quieter story about a state-sponsored cleric in Saudi Arabia's carefully expounding on the conditions under which Muslims can desecrate the bodies of murdered infidels.

Aristocratic and very wealthy Democrats — Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, and John Kerry — employ the language of conspiracy to assure us that we had no reason to fight Saddam Hussein. "Lies," "worst," and " betrayed" are the vocabulary of their daily attacks. A jester in stripes like Michael Moore, who cannot tell the truth, is now an artistic icon — precisely and only because of his own hatred of the president and the inconvenient idea that we are really at war. Our diplomats court the Arab League, which snores when Russians and Sudanese kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims but shrieks when we remove those who kill even more of their own. And a depopulating, entitlement-expanding Europe believes an American president, not bin Laden, is the greatest threat to world peace. Russia, the slayer of tens of thousands of Muslim Chechans and a big-time profiteer from Baathist loot, lectures the United States on its insensitivity to the new democracy in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East, we see the same old bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings, the obligatory pause, the faux negotiations, the lies — and then, of course, the bloodcurdling threats, the horrific videos, the bombings...

No, bin Laden is quite sane — but lately I have grown more worried that we are not.

— Victor Davis Hanson, an NRO contributor, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and author of The Soul of Battle and Carnage and Culture, among other books. His website is

Sunday, June 06, 2004

GoodBy Gipper! We Miss you

June 6, 2004

Good-by Mr. Reagan. I will remember you as the best President this country has had since World War II. You won World War III--The cold war. You showed this country that being American was a positive thing again. You ended the malaise of stagflation that was crushing the country. You helped us to know the joys of Capitalism again.

I remember the time when you were elected. I had been in the hospital when Jimmy Carter launched the ill-fated rescue attempt that self destructed in the desert. I felt, along with so many others, a basic impotency that caused me to despair that our country could survive. If you add in the effect of the high inflation and the unemployment that existed and the energy problems, I was very low.

When I was at my lowest ebb, Ronald Reagan was elected and before he could get into the White House, the prisoners were released. Wow! Something to cheer about. It was almost as if the continuing bad things had decided to pause. I didn't yet know what a wonderful President he would become but it was a start.

Between the "Evil Empire" and the "Tear down this wall, Mr. Gorbachev" there was the tax cut that spurred the economy to expand until now. Even his appearance on the debates with Jimmy Carter--the "there you go again" type of messages were positive. Until Ronald Reagan grabbed the American Spirit and re-inflated it, it was rapidly deflating.

I already have missed you for the last 10 years or so. I wanted to be able to hear your take on the Iraq war. I wanted you to be able to wade into the crowd of nay-saying Democrats and their useful idiots the majority press. I can only imagine the fun you could have had with some of our current politicians and their defenders.

Good-by Mr. Reagan. So long. Go With God.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

D Day and Memorial Day

June 5, 2004

I grew up knowing all about the war--at least I thought so. My father was one of the millions of troops involved in W.W.II on all sides. He fought with the U.S.Marines in the Pacific Theater. He told me stories about the landing on Tarawa and about Saipan that would tweak any young man's interest. I later read some of the books on the subject and found that either he read the same books or his stories were very accurate. I am proud of the effort my father put forth before he was wounded on Saipan. I had the pleasure of meeting some of his comrades when I was young. I hid around the corner while they talked in the kitchen. What stories I heard!

I find that the majority of Americans think of D-Day as the defining moment in the war. I can certainly understand why. It is a daunting feat that accomplished something that almost all Americans at the time agreed with. The defeat of Hitler was a task that was understood by most. Pearl Harbor was a catalyst that started the war and the atomic bombs used on Japan were the exclamation point that ended it. In between, however, the task of freeing Europe and defeating the tyrant in Germany seemed to garner more attention than the Pacific theater. It was no more important but seems more remembered by the public.

We have all heard of the bravery that the landing troops exhibited. We of my generation have heard of the carnage and the horror of the landing. The accomplishment of the landing and the subsequent victory over Hitler is something that the "Greatest Generation" should be remembered for throughout the history of this country.

Sadly, I hear stories of recent high school graduates that don't know much more than who some of the combatants involved were and that we interred the Japanese Americans while the fighting was going on. The generals, the strategy, the battles, the terrific efforts expended by the warriors seem to be disappearing from the common knowledge. What we have is a result of the efforts of these and other heroes that gave their life, fortune and sacred honor. Many of them gave the greatest gift of all to this country, their lives. Almost 1 million Americans were killed or wounded. Think about that staggering number in reference to the casualties incurred in Iraq.

I have not yet been able to visit the new WWII Memorial in Washington. I have heard it is wonderful and I have heard that it is awful. What a surprise! I am, however, confident, that as a minimum it shows that the country was willing to spend the time and resources to honor them.
It is a shame that it took almost 60 years to recognize this group of heroes but at least it is a start. Now we need to see to it that history does not forget them. They earned that.