Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Why did we got to war?

I thought it was because Saddam had (we thought) WMDs. But others have said that that's only one reason, and even a minor one. For instance, Jonah Goldberg wrote the following today:
    Anyway, my point is this: to the extent the post-Iraq failure to find WMDs is a disaster for the United States in terms of its credibility, its relationships with allies etc. one could argue that the fault lies in the fact that George W. Bush listened too much to Colin Powell and the State Department instead of the hawks, since it was the Wolfowitz crowd which wanted to emphasize freedom, democracy, stability and the war on terror. Now that no WMDs have been found that rhetoric seems self-serving when in fact those were co-equal priorities all along. If George Bush had talked before the war about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq as eloquently as he did afterwards, he would be in a lot better shape politically and in the history books. Moreover, I bet he would have been a lot more honest. Bush is a moralist and I'm certain he had the liberation of Iraq and the war on terrorism in his mind as much as anything else.
Now, I like Jonah; he's a great writer, whose material I really enjoy reading.

But I think he's all wet on this one. Simply put, I don't think the very noble goal of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq and thus (hopefully) to the region is sufficient grounds to launch a war, and I've never seen someone who argued for the war on the basis of just war doctrine attempt to do so.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004


The wife and I watched the State of the Union address tonight. I thought it was a generally good speech, but like most SOTU addresses, there were a lot of cliches and a lot of clapping, both of which get a little old pretty quickly.

As you might expect, I agree with most of Bush's policy stances, although I'm not sure why pro-sports steroids made a State of the Union address.

I thought that Bush was effective as a speechmaker; as the Better Half commented, he really has improved in this regard since he took office. I thought the best line of the speech was this one: "Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain... Australia... Japan... South Korea... the Philippines... Thailand... Italy... Spain... Poland... Denmark... Hungary... Bulgaria... Ukraine... Romania... the Netherlands, Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq." Bingo, Mr. President. (Someone needs to read this line to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who in the Democrat rebuttal said that Bush "has pursued a go-it-alone foreign policy that leaves us isolated abroad." Oops.)

Again, I thought it was a good speech, all in all. I look forward to Bush's next such address in 2005 ;-)

Thursday, January 15, 2004

MoveOn's headliner

Yesterday I linked a partial transcript of MoveOn's award show, which included comedian [sic] Margaret Cho's obscenity-laced rant against Bush.

It turns out that Cho has also vented her irrational hatred against John Paul II before... go here to see a version of her anti-Catholic ranting with *'s in the appropriate places.

And then wonder why MoveOn would have someone like this as their headliner.

(Thanks to Mark Shea for the initial heads-up.)
Worth reading

In the continuing discussion over the Iraq War and just war doctrine I find it helpful to read serious and intelligent thoughts on both sides. A number of folks in the Catholic corner of the blogosphere continue to raise good questions about the war and just war theory (Mark Shea, for instance).

Over the last couple of days I've read/glanced at longer articles which are critical of the war, although not always from the just war perspective. For instance, intelligence analyst Kenneth Pollack, whose book The Threatening Storm made a persuasive case for war in late 2002, has an article in The Atlantic Monthly which addresses the question of WMD's (or lack thereof) in Iraq. Pollack isn't outright against the war, but he raises a number of critical points which are worth considering.

From a military perspective, Air War College professor Jeffrey Record -- in a study published under the auspices of the Army War College -- criticizes the handling of the entire war on terrorism, arguing that war in Iraq was in fact unnecessary. (NB: the military itself printed a critical document of the war on terror!) I haven't read the entire work, but again, it's something written by a serious person, not a partisan hack.


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

But there are differences

In the post below from last week, I noted that just as conservatives loved to "hate" Clinton, liberals love to "hate" Bush.

However, I don't think the the conservative attitude towards Clinton ever descended to the depths of and their ilk. Go read a partial transcript from MoveOn's award show, in which a bevy of c-list comedians, musicians, and actors unleash a torrent of obcenities and curses on the president, and then tell me of a similar example during the first term of the Clinton administration, or either term, for that matter.

The jerks.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Lying Liars and the Lies they tell

Allen Brill, host of The Right Christians, has a blog on which I enjoy interacting with folks who disagree with me on things political and theological. Most of the discourse is serious and charitable, as I've said elsewhere.

Every now and then, though, a commenter will make an overly-zealous statement. For instance, in the comments of this post, one fellow wrote, that Bush "cannot be trusted because he's lied on every policy initiative to come from his office." Every policy initiative? Wow. Quite the pathological liar we've got in the Oval Office.

In a different vein, Melanie of Just another Bump in the Beltway tracks the news of the day, and her dislike for Bush is pretty apparent. For instance, she recently blogged on Bush's statement on a settlement on Mars, commenting,
    Bush might as well propose peace on earth, a chicken in every pot and universal spiritual enlightenment. Along with the immigration proposal earlier this week, this is nothing more than hot air. The level of cynicism that this betrays on the part of Team Rove is pretty spectacular. Just because Bush can form the words "base on the moon" in his mouth doesn't make him JFK.
Actually, it's Melanie who strikes me as cynical, considering that she immediately chalks this proposal up to hot air, and that she rarely has a single good thing to say about Bush. (In fact, I've never seen a positive statement about Bush from her, but it's possible that I missed it.)

The parallels between liberals' contempt for Bush and conservatives' contempt for Clinton are striking... it seems that the combination of their respective policy initiatives together with their own personalities really grate on the political opposition. Of course, I think Clinton was deserving of much of the scorn he received, and Bush isn't, but that's another story :-) It's still interesting how they seem to inspire similar reactions.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Dean's opposition to Iraq

Lately I've been trying to figure out how it is that Howard Dean opposed the war in Iraq, yet supported the war in Kosovo and Bosnia. I've come across a number explanations offered by him and by those who support him especially on Iraq, but I still can't figure it out.

Dean has stated (here, for instance) that he opposed the war because Iraq was not an imminent threat to the US. Now apart from the whole question of imminence (Bush didn't think the threat was imminent, either, and didn't argue it, contrary to many on the left), there's problem of threat -- or more properly, the lack thereof -- posed to the US in Kosovo and/or Bosnia. If we shouldn't have gone to war in Iraq because there was no imminent threat, why should we have gone to war in Kosovo & Bosnia?

Second, there's the multilateral issue. Dean often complains that the US didn't have the support of the UN in Iraq. But the UN didn't approve the actions in Kosovo or Bosnia either, yet Dean supports them! Ostensibly, that's because NATO was involved, meaning it was a multi-lateral effort. But so was Iraq! In fact, there were more nations involved in the war against Iraq than in the war in Kosovo!

So how is one to make sense of Dean's approach to war?

Then there's this: in this article from last March, Dean said the following: "Saddam must be disarmed, but with a multilateral force under the auspices of the United Nations. If the U.N. in the end chooses not to enforce its own resolutions, then the U.S. should give Saddam 30 to 60 days to disarm, and if he doesn't, unilateral action is a regrettable, but unavoidable, choice."

One astute blogger commented as follows: "Dean's clarification to Salon seems eerily familiar. Let's delve into Dean's remarks to Salon closely: Iraq must be disarmed. The United Nations should get involved and its resolutions should be enforced. If the U.N. refuses to act, and Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm, the U.S. can and should force Iraqi disarmament through unilateral military action. Why does this position sound familiar? Because it's the exact same position taken by the Bush administration." (I'd recommend reading the entire post.)

So basically, I have no idea how to understand Dean on war, in Iraq or anywhere else.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, & Blessed Epiphany!

It's been a bit since I've posted, but I'm sure you can understand, considering the hectic nature of the Advent & Christmas seasons. I hope they've been good to you all thus far.

My first post for the new year is just to note something I found in an article at the site I mentioned in my last post, Godspy. The article is The Cultural Victory of Hugh Hefner, and it contains this interesting comment:
    Thanks largely to Hefner's pioneering spirit, men have won every battle in the modern war between the sexes. Where women are free and equal, they are free and equal to be men. Just go shopping at the Gap. Or pick up any women's magazine published in the last few decades. In it you will find an article, essay, or questionnaire demonstrating or demanding that women should have more sex than they are currently having. Is there an escape, a way out, a means by which a woman can choose not to have her social norms and sexual drives dictated to by porn culture? In America right now, three out of four converts to Islam are women. Call it a jihad of the hijab.
The strange, unintended-yet-real nature of modern radical feminism to masculinize women is something I was previously familiar with. What I did not realize is that 75% of American converts to Islam are women. Hmm... why do you suppose that is? Not that I'm advocating the Islamic approach to women -- I strongly believe that Catholic Christianity much more embraces and upholds the dignity of women. My point is that it's interesting that it's apparently women more than men who are attracted to a faith which is generally regarded as, well, not exactly woman-friendly.

What does that say about our culture?