Friday, January 04, 2008

Hope Versus Helicopters

Looking back on the rise of the insurgency, it seems as if the average Iraqi did not know what to make of America. I suspect that many would have been far more supportive a long time ago, if it were not for the image of a helicopter atop a building in 1975 and a line of desperate people running for their lives. To work with Americans may have been what many wanted to do much, much sooner.


When Michael Moore makes a hugely successful film praising Saddam’s paradise and calling these people who bomb women and children in marketplaces “freedom fighters,” and when an election turns and places into Congressional power a political party dedicated to reproducing that helicopter tableau as soon as possible... what would you do? Because if you guess wrong and the Americans leave, you will be taken out into the street in front of your family and have your head sawed off.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What's In It For Me?

The lesson that candidates need to take out of Iowa for the remainder of the primaries as well as for the general election, is that Americans are highly concerned about the economy.  They want someone who is likable and who they can relate to, but more importantly they want someone who can relate to them.  The idea is that if someone can understand my problems, he will address them.

With this year's compressed primary schedule Iowa's message must be heeded:  don't tell me what's wrong with the other guy; tell me that you understand me and are going to solve my problems.  And, those problems are economic.
Welcome to the Me generation. But you already knew it of course...

Osama's Old Jalopy?

This is a roundabout way of saying that while al-Qaeda may be resistant to tactical setbacks, it is by nature susceptible to strategic failure. Once it gets itself into a conceptual rut, or its leadership goes off on a tangent, there is little the mass base can do to rescue it from itself. Thus, the history of clandestine organizations is not one of evolutionary progress but succession. When al-Qaeda falls far enough from accumulated setbacks it will be challenged by another clandestine organization with a new and possibly better strategic vision. Therefore what is likely to happen in Iraq, and possibly in the world at large, is that al-Qaeda will continue to decline until a new and better adapted Jihadi group makes an appearance. If there is a next September 11 it will be launched by a new organization, possibly an offshoot of the old, which has been gathering unnnoticed in the shadows while we continue to beat up on Osama's old jalopy.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The West As Wana

clipped from
In a sense, global Islam is now Waziristan writ large. Ahmed rightly spots tribal themes of honor and solidarity throughout the Muslim world—even in places where tribal social organization per se has receded. Literally and figuratively, Waziristan now seeks to awaken the tribal jihadist side of the global Muslim soul. This has effectively thrust the leaders of the Western world into the role of British and Pakistani P.A.s (a famously exhausting job, Ahmed reminds us). With technological advance having placed once-distant threats at our doorstep, the West may soon resemble South Waziristan's perpetually besieged encampment at Wana. Perhaps it already does. Yet Waziristan was ruled indirectly, without ordinary law or policing. Preventing terror plots and the development of weapons of mass destruction requires a more active hand.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

They Don't Really Want Those Things At All

clipped from

No - someone has to enjoy the prospect for office for its own sake, not to reduce the size and scope of government and restore a Federal Republic. One must enjoy the whole process of politics - i.e. be crazy. Or one must pretend to enjoy it - i.e. be a liar.

And then people complain that politicians are either crazy or corrupt. When they shoo away anyone who comes along who is neither crazy or corrupt.

I think he's right. Thompson is running the kind of campaign -- substantive, policy-laden, not based on gimmicks or sound-bites -- that pundits and journalists say they want, but he's getting no credit for it from the people who claim that's what they want. It's like in Tootsie when Dustin Hoffman tries doing the things he's heard women say they want from men, only to discover that they don't really want those things at all . . . . Related post here.

If you're not crazy then I suggest heading over to Fred08 before you've missed your chance to make a difference...

Why Is It Mainly Men Who Are Making These Points?

ARE women across the world mourning Benazir Bhutto? They should be. Not because she was a saint; she wasn’t. She was at least a beneficiary of the billions stolen by her husband from the people of Pakistan. Nor did she do anything much for Pakistani women during her two periods of leadership, declining even to try to repeal the infamous Hudood laws whereby rape victims can be punished for adultery.

“I know I am a symbol of what the so-called jihadists, Taliban and al-Qa’ida, most fear,” she wrote in her autobiography, Daughter of the East. “I am a female political leader fighting to bring modernity, communication, education and technology to Pakistan.”

Yes, fear is the right word. The fear of women, of women’s freedom, and most of all, of women’s sexuality, runs through Islamism. It is a large part of Islamist hatred of the West. “The issue of women is not marginal,” writes the Dutch scholar Ian Buruma. “It lies at the heart of Islamic occidentalism (anti-Westernism).”

Monday, December 31, 2007

"Experience" Illustrated

The interview produced this gem:

Referring to a possible delay in the elections, Sen. Clinton said: "I think it will be very difficult to have a real election. You know, Nawaz Sharif [leader of the PML-N, an opposition party] has said he's not going to compete. The PPP is in disarray with Benazir's assassination. He [President Pervez Musharraf] could be the only person on the ballot. I don't think that's a real election."

And then it hit me:

Sen. Clinton really didn't know that the upcoming elections were for individual seats in Pakistan's parliament. She actually believed that Bhutto, Nawaz and Musharraf would be facing off as individual candidates for leadership of the country in the upcoming elections.

Sen. Clinton didn't know that Nawaz Sharif isn't allowed to run for office in Pakistan because of a felony conviction. She didn't know that President Musharraf won't be on the ballot because he's already been elected.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fred On Fire

clipped from

I’m offering myself up. I’m saying that I have the background, the capability and concern to do this and do it for the right reasons. I’m not particularly interested in running for president, but I think I’d make a good president.

Nowadays, the process has become much more important than it used to be.

I don’t know that they ever asked George Washington a question like this. I don’t know that they ever asked Dwight D. Eisenhower a question like this. But nowadays, it’s all about fire in the belly. I’m not sure in the world we live in today it’s a good thing if a president has too much fire in the belly. I approach life differently than a lot of people.

In which Fred flirts with the now seemingly iron-clad maxim: "If you're smart enough to be president, you're smart enough not to be president."