The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Cabinet has approved a three-pronged offensive to drive Hezbollah across the Litani River. The only pity is that it didn't start last week, when the IDF Staff first made the recommendation.
The Hedgehog Blog
Political and social observations from two aspiring hedgehogs who love the Isaiah Berlin essay.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Best Political Cartoon on the Seattle Shooting
Courtesy of Little Green Footballs.
OPEN LETTER TO MARK STEYN: If My Son Becomes a Jihadist, Will the British Government Give Him Financial Support?
Only Mark Steyn cculd successfully blend a discussion of the wave of anti-Semitism stirred by the current Israeli-Hezbollah combat with a nostalgic reminiscence of a 1967 pop hit, "Cinderella Rockefeller." He does it here on SteynOnline.
That blend of disciplines, coupled with Steyn's knowledge of Bristish politics and culture, inspired me to write Mark the following open letter:
I am writing you as one of the few persons with proven expertise as an analyst both of the British political scene and the world of show business. Of course, there are many show business personalities who view themselves as experts on politics, but the results of their political activism usually proves that they were self-deluded.
Here is my problem. My son Nathan leaves shortly for London, to undertake a year of training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has taken out a student loan to cover the hefty tuition, and we will be paying his room and board in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Now, I have noticed that Great Britain not only grants entry to Islamic Jihadists, but also provides them with financial support while they continue their jihadist activities in Britain. My son does not intend to engage in any anti-government activity while in England. Indeed, he admires Great Britain and loves all things British, especially of the cultural nature. He also has no criminal record and by nature would be unable to hurt another human being. But it would really help our family financially if he could obtain the sort of living support that the jihadists seem to enjoy while agitating against the British government and Western values, and fomenting terrorism. Do you have any suggestions regarding how Nathan can get on the gravy train?
Ralph B. Kostant
The death of children in war is an undeniable tragedy. That does not stop Hezbollah from maximizing the propaganda value from the Qana bombing in its media campaign against Israel. EU Referendum has carefully examined photos from various news services, and makes a strong case that "Lebanese rescue workers" were parading the same childrens' bodies around over a period of hours, posing for various news photographers. Go see the evidence and be your own judge.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Naomi Ragen is a best-selling novelist who lives in Jerusalem. Her son is now in the Israeli Army, and one of his best friends is in the paratroopers, who are fighting Hezbollah in the villages of South Lebanon. In a column published at Israel National News.com, she relays that soldier's account of the fighting, and the care that Israeli soldiers exercise to avoid civilian casualities. She eloquently proclaims:
"Terrorists and their supporters have lost the right to complain about civilian casualties, since all they have done this entire war is target civilians. Every single one of the more than 2,500 rockets launched into Israel is launched into populated towns filled with women and children. Just today, another suicide belt meant to kill civilians in Israel was detonated harmlessly by our forces in Nablus. So, don't cry to me about civilian casualties. Cry to those using your babies and wives and mothers; cry to those who store weapons in mosques, ambulances, hospitals and private homes. Cry to those launching deadly rockets from the backyards of your kindergartens and schools. Cry to the heartless men who love death, and who, however many of their troops or civilians die, consider themselves victorious as long as they can keep on firing rockets at our women and children."The entire column is worth reading, if only for the first-hand account of ground combat.
Saturday, July 29, 2006
If you're interested at all in illegal immigration, you'll want to read Tamar Jacoby's piece in today's L.A. Times. Jacoby summarizes the current state of the debate:
- The great majority of Americans prefer a comprehensive approach, combining serious and effective enforcement with some kind of path to citizenship for the illegals already here.
- The small minority that insists on an enforcement-only approach and opposes a comprehensive approach is so vociferous that Republicans in Congress are afraid to risk that minority's wrath.
- And yet an even larger group of voters (primarily Republicans) want something done even if that solution includes something they consider to be amnesty.
This leaves the GOP with a difficult choice: Whose anger do they risk?
Some devastating paragraphs from Jacoby's piece:
The Gallup Poll, Washington Post/ABC News, Time, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN and the Republican National Committee have all come to the same conclusion: Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the public would be willing to let illegal immigrants stay in the country and earn eventual citizenship, provided they meet requirements such as paying back taxes and learning English.
The problem is the other 20% to 25% — and, survey after survey show that's the extent of their numbers. A USA Today poll in May painted their portrait in vivid detail: Mostly male, white and without a college degree, they believe immigrants are bad for the economy; they want to build a wall along the border; and they adamantly oppose allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens. Only about half are Republicans, and if we assume that GOP voters make up roughly half of the electorate, then these diehards account for no more than a quarter of the party.
And here's the result:
But many Republican candidates, particularly in the House, are convinced that this group is more intense — more concerned, more motivated, more likely to vote on the basis of this single issue — than anyone else likely to go to the polls. So they have become the tail wagging the dog of the national debate about immigration, leading many House Republicans to conclude that blocking reform could be a political winner.
Yep. And the real problem facing Dennis Hastert and company is this:
House Republicans could be setting themselves up for a fall. How can they travel around the country all summer, hold hearings and insist that immigration is the most pressing domestic policy problem we face, and then come back to Washington in September and sit on their hands? They risk losing not only Latinos and swing voters (both of whom are more likely than other voters to be put off by the GOP's anti-immigrant rhetoric) but also staunch Republicans (who feel most strongly, by a 75% margin, that it is "very" or "extremely important" for Congress to come to grips with illegal immigration this year).
Is there a way out of this mess? Only one solution is now on the horizon: the Hutchison-Pence Border Security Immigration Reform Plan, which might just be the last hope for reform this year, if Fred Barnes is right. The problem with the Pence bill is that is does not accept the Laura Ingraham prescription for reform: "Enforce the borders, then we'll talk." In other words: "We don't even want to talk about paths to citizenship or anything smacking of amnesty at all. We'll discuss that after we feel the borders are secure, and we'll let you know when we feel that has occurred."
In my view, anyone who thinks those hard-liners will ever want to talk seriously about a path to citizenship for the illegals who are already here has been smoking something. And yet, given the intensity and inflexibility of their views, I am not surprised that the Republicans in Congress, with a thin majority and a restless base, are terrified of those people. Disappointed, yes; but not surprised.
Pence would require those illegals to go home and apply for permission to re-enter the country legally, but even that is too much for the "no amnesty" crowd. Here's Fred Barnes' summary of the Pence-Hutchison bill (the summary is quoted with approval on Pence's web site):
It would start with the buildup of law enforcement along America's southern border: more border guards, drug enforcement agents, helicopters, detention facilities, unmanned aerial vehicles, and miles of fence. This enforcement-only beginning is aimed to appeal to House conservatives.Sounds like a plan that would appeal to most people concerned about the issue. We'll see if the absolutists will buy into it. I'm not optimistic.
Once a series of specific benchmarks were met and certified by the president--a two-year lag is expected--the guest worker program could start. Illegals in the United States would have to return to their home country to sign up at private "Ellis Island centers." If they had a job in the United States, they would get a tamper-proof ID card and quickly return to the States. After 17 years, they would be eligible to begin the process of gaining American citizenship.
Update: Called As Seen has more.
Friday, July 28, 2006
This Charles Krauthammer column appeared today in the New York Daily News, and was picked up by Real Clear Politics. Krauthammer demolishes the argument that Israel has acted disproportionately to the Hezbollah attack. Unfortunately, that shameless and baseless argument continues to gain worldwide traction. Krauthammer writes:
Yet President Bush announced today that Condi Rice is returning to the Middle East. The implication, says Powerline regretfully, in a post ominously titled "Has Hezbollah Won?" is that she is returning to negotiate a ceasefire.
With a few significant exceptions (the leadership of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and a very few others), the world -- governments, the media, U.N. bureaucrats -- has completely lost its moral bearings.
The perversity of today's international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.
In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do.
But it is a dual campaign. Israeli innocents must die in order for Israel to be terrorized. But Lebanese innocents must also die in order for Israel to be demonized, which is why Hezbollah hides its fighters, its rockets, its launchers, its entire infrastructure among civilians. Creating human shields is a war crime. It is also a Hezbollah specialty.
An Unusual 2008 Presidential Straw Poll
Try this poll from GOP Bloggers:
Thursday, July 27, 2006
On Monday of this week, the Hedgehog Blog published a post entitled "Israel's Leaders Let Politics Dictate Tactics, and IDF Soldiers Pay the Price." The post expressed concern that political considerations--in particular surrender to the Israeli public's concerns about once again becoming mired in the "Lebanon Mud" (Israel's equivalent of the Vietnam Syndrome in the U.S.)--rather than military necessity were dictating the tactics employed in the fight against Hezbollah. One of the indicators of a possible problem identified by the Hedgehog Blog was the appearance of over-reliance on air power coupled with an under-commitment of ground troops. Those concerns now appear well-founded, as evidenced by this report from IsraelNationalNews.com:
Israel, like the United States, is a democratic regime whose civilian political leaders rule over the military. Civilian rule is an essential protection against military dictatorship or descent into the chaos of competing warlords and militias, such as prevails in Gaza and Lebanon. However, civilian political control of the military is not without its costs when a democracy must wage war. One may only pray that the price Israel pays is not too steep in terms of lives and security.
Prime Minister Olmert and the security cabinet rejected the army's recommendation for a larger-scale ground offensive on Thursday, but agreed to call up three more reserve divisions.
As predicted, the ministers voted to continue with only limited ground offensives and wide-ranging aerial attacks. This, despite the recommendations by army officers that a larger ground offensive is necessary.
International Calls for a Ceasefire In Lebanon: Nothing New Under the Sun
God bless President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their backbone in resisting craven calls from Europe, the Arab world and the mainstream media worldwide for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon. Why are the Bush Administration and Israel so cynical about the prospects for an immediate ceasefire leading to peace? The archives of Dry Bones give the answer. Its creator, cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, provides the historical context that mainstream media should provide but never do. On the subject of ceasefires, here is a Dry Bones cartoon from the summer of 1982, when the Israeli forces invading Lebanon were confronting Syrian armor and troops in the Bekaa Valley:
Nor is it new that foreign capitals and international media ignore Lebanon when the only news is that Hezbollah terrorists have crossed into the border into Israel to kill or kidnap Israelis, or are launching rockets at Israeli cities. That's strictly a dog-bites-man story. However, when Israel defends itself--that gets their attention. Kirschen proves that by reprinting a 1992 cartoon:
As the one of the oldest and wisest Middle East correspondents, King Solomon, wrote in Jerusalem almost 3000 years ago, "There is nothing new under the sun."
The LA Times Fails to Tell the Full Story About the Death of the UN Observers In Lebanon
The Los Angeles Times headline seems to tell a grim story of Israeli heartlessness and intentional mayhem: "Under Fire for 6 Hours, U.N. Peacekeepers Pleaded for Help Before Being Killed, U.N. Says." The story of course trumpets the accusation by UN Secretary General that the airstrike that hit the post was "apparently deliberate." Bolstering that conclusion, Times staff writer Alissa J. Rubin writes, "The nearest known Hezbollah activity was more than three miles away, although in the past there have been Hezbollah weapons caches in the area, a senior U.N. official said."
Little Green Footballs provides what Paul Harvey calls "the rest of the story." Because one of the slain UN Observers was a Canadian citizen, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was asked about Kofi Annan's charges of a deliberate Israeli attack. As reported by the AFP wire service, to his credit, Harper said that the incident was was a “terrible tragedy” but not likely deliberate. The AFP wire story continues:
At the same time, he questioned why the UN had manned the outpost in Lebanon near the Israeli border as bombs exploded all around.For some reason (perhaps the Times' anti-Israel bias), the Times did not consider this statement by the Prime Minister of one of the countries that lost a citizen in the incident to be newsworthy enough to mention in its article today.
“We want to find out why this United Nations post was attacked and also why it remained manned during what is now, more or less, a war during obvious danger to these individuals,” he told reporters.
Asked about UN head Kofi Annan’s statement suggesting Israel had targeted the outpost, Harper said: “I certainly doubt that to be the case.”
But there is still more information from Little Green Footballs that the Times did not think you needed to know. As noted above, the Times story included a statement by an unnamed "senior UN official" that the nearest Hezbollah position to the UN post was more than 3 miles away. However, the Canandian Broadcasting Company interviewed Retired Retired Canadian Major General Lewis Mackenzie, who had been in e-mail communication with the slain Canadian peacekeeper in the days prior to his death. General Mackenzie told the CBC:
We received emails from him a few days ago, and he was describing the fact that he was taking fire within, in one case, three meters of his position for tactical necessity, not being targeted. Now that’s veiled speech in the military. What he was telling us was Hezbollah soldiers were all over his position and the IDF were targeting them. And that’s a favorite trick by people who don’t have representation in the UN. They use the UN as shields knowing that they can’t be punished for it.Finally, although the Times did not think it noteworthy, UN Observers are caught in a crossfire in two directions. Once again Little Green Footballs fills in the story, this time quoting a UNIFIL press release from yesterday! The United Nations official press release stated:
Another UN position of the Ghanaian battalion in the area of Marwahin in the western sector was also directly hit by one mortar round from the Hezbollah side last night. The round did not explode, and there were no casualties or material damage. Another 5 incidents of firing close to UN positions from the Israeli side were reported yesterday. It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Alma ash Shab, Tibnin, Brashit, and At Tiri. All UNIFIL positions remain occupied and maintained by the troops.All of this information was available on the internet yesterday, as Ms. Rubin was writing the Los Angeles Times story. It does not come from blogs, but from the AFP wire service, the Canadian Broadcasting Company and UNIFIL itself. It would have been relatively easy to independently verify the information, if for some reason the Times did not consider those sources impeccable. It seems to me at least that good journalism demanded that those lines of inquiry be followed in order to tell the whole story. Apparently, however, those lines of inquiry would not have contributed to the story that the Times wanted to tell. KNX, a Los Angeles news radio station, uses the jingle, "All you need to know." Perhaps the slogan of the Los Angeles Times should be "All the news we think you need to know."
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
[tags] Joseph Wilson, Valerie Plame, Christopher Hitchens, Laura Ingraham, illegal immigration, earmakrs, Duke Cunningham, news leaks [/tags]
Harold also comments persuasively on the question of prosecuting federal leakers of national security information. He wonders why Duke Cunningham is in prison while other people (including a sitting U.S. Senator) are left unpunished despite having endangered American lives:
If Congress cannot be trusted to keep secrets, and if serious transgressions go unpunished, then Congress needs to face the consequences. I'm sorry, but I cannot get outraged over some Congressman's earmarks and bribes when others skate for leaking classified information.Why isn't the Bush administration vigorously prosecuting these people? I suspect the answer is that doing so would be very costly politically. Think about it: Bush would be trying to jail the very people who make Pulitzer Prizes possible for those to whom those people leak information. The MSM, working with the Democrats, would unitedly paint Bush as Big Brother, Stalin, Hitler, and Jabba the Hutt all rolled into one. That doesn't mean Bush shouldn't prosecute the leakers, but I think it explains why he may be reluctant to do it.
Update: Speaking of leakers, today Christopher Hitchens drives what looks like the final nail in the coffin of the Joseph Wilson-Valerie Plame story.
Check out Yaakov Kirschen's take on the proposed International Force to secure the Lebanese-Israeli Border at the Dry Bones Blog.
Iranian President Ahmanidejad denied today that Iran provides military assistance to Hezbollah. "Those who say that we provide military support for Hizbullah are lying. That is the way for America to cover up its failures," he said through an interpreter. As reported in this AP story appearing in the Jerusalem Post, Ahmanidejad claimed that Iran only supports Hezbollah politically and morally.
In the Jerusalem Post, the story was accompanied by the photo above left, issued by the Israel Defense Forces, of a weapon seized during fighting with Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon: an Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher marked with the logo of the Iranian military industry. But then again, who are you going to believe, the Holy Servant of the Coming of the 12th Iman, or your lying eyes?
Ahmanidejad also said:
"We are calling on the parties to sit down for talks without any preliminary conditions. The aggressor should compensate for the damage incurred on Lebanon and apologize before the entire world community."
Oddly enough, when he mentioned "the aggressor," he apparently was not referring to Hezbollah.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
From YNET: Iranian News Agency ILNA reports that Iran is sending its first group of suicide bombers to Lebanon. The expeditionary force, called "Loyalists of Islamic Justice," are sent to depart for Lebanon from Tehran after noon prayers on Wednesday. Other reports that two groups of 27 potential "shahids" (martyrs) are already on their way to Lebanon via Syria. Their target reportedly is not the Israeli Defense Forces, but rather Lebanese opponents of Hezbollah. The story ominously concludes:
Huge numbers of such volunteer shahids had a significant impact during the Iraq-Iran war. They would charge Iraqi positions, clearing mine fields with their bodies and overrunning machine gun nests and fortified positions in mass charges. In the small numbers reported, they are not going to have a military impact against Israel, but they might well succeed in sowing chaos.
"According to the report, the group's mission is to trigger a civil war within the divided Lebanese society, and cause the situation in the country to deteriorate even further.
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in this regard that 'the storm in the Middle East is approaching. Those who caused the storm shall bear the consequences.'"
Fred Barnes describes the Pence-Hutchison compromise here, and calls it "The Last Hope for Immigration Reform" (at least during this session of Congress).
This morning Laura Ingraham, who is nothing if not consistent on this issue, stated the essence of her position: "Enforce the border, then we'll talk." If that absolutist position holds sway in Congress, we won't have a bill -- this year, or ever.
War Report: Israel Will Occupy Security Zone; Hezbollah Commanders Killed
I may have to temper my earlier criticism of Israel's wartime political leadership. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced today that Israel will occupy a security zone in southern Lebanon, after it evicts Hezbollah, until an international force takes over. He added that the international force must have enforcement capability, "not only be present for the sake of being present." Too often in the past UN troops have failed to prevent Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel, but have acted as human shields to interfere with Israeli retaliation. Sometimes Hezbollah has actually launched rockets from UN positions.
There are also positive reports from the battle field. According to this story from the Jerusalem post, an Israeli airstrike killed a senior Hezbollah commander; and IDF troops succeeded in sealing off the Hizbullah stronghold of Bint Jbail following 48 hours of intense battles with the guerilla group. The Jerusalem Post reports:
"In fighting that was described as heroic by Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsh, commander of Division 91, soldiers from the Golani and Paratrooper Brigades took up positions around the town of Bint Jbail clashing with Hizbullah and killed close to 50 gunmen. In Maroun al-Ras, another village in southern Lebanon, IDF troops killed five Hizbullah gunmen, including the organization's regional commander. Three soldiers were lightly wounded in the clashes and were evacuated under fire to Rambam Hospital in Haifa."
In addition, the Nahal Brigade is gearing up near the eastern border with Lebanon for an incursion to take over additional Hezbollah-controlled villages.
Altogether, more grounds for optomism than yesterday.
Caroline Glick, the Middle East Fellow for Frank Gaffney's Center for National Security, writing in the Jerusalem Post, has some concerns about the diplomatic aspects of the battle against Hezbollah, but is optomistic both about the on-the-ground military confrontation and the longer-term struggle against the "holy terror" alliance of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Israel's Leaders Let Politics Dictate Tactics, and IDF Soldiers Pay the Price.
Yoni Tibi, in an interview on the Hugh Hewit Show this afternoon, expressed frustration and outrage at the way the Israel Defense Forces are conducting the fighting in South Lebanon. The so-called Powell Doctrine may have its critics, but its main tenet--the application of overwhelming force against the enemy--is what is called for in South Lebanon now. And that is not what is happening.
I had my first misgivings last week when Israel sent in a commando unit to a border village, to find and destroy Hezbollah arms caches and rocket arsenals. The problem was that, despite shelling and air strikes, Hezbollah fighters were still present in large numbers. Hezbollah greatly outnumbered the commandos, and of course not only knew the territory, but had prepared the ground for just such an Israeli move. Hezbollah fighters set up an ambush, and the inadequately supported commandos had to shoot their way out, taking heavy casualties.
Then Israel sent a larger armored force over the border and announced, on Saturday, the capture of a strategic village, the Hezbollah stronghold of Maroun A-Ras. However, I saw a television news report on Sunday, which showed the IDF shelling that same town. If the report was accurate, the obvious implication was that after taking the town, the IDF had withdrawn from Maroun A-Ras, and Hezbollah fighters had reoccupied it.
Since then the IDF has faced very hard fighting and has been taking substanial casualites in its effort to drive Hezbollah out of Bint J’bail, a village supposedly manned by 100-200 Hezbollah fighters. The photo at the upper left tells the story, as does this story from the Associated Press. Reporter Benjamin Harvey quotes a wounded Israeli soldier, Yishai Green, who said, "It's a real mess and I am not allowed to talk about it." Yoni reported in disgust that the IDF had advised the residents of Metullah, an Israeli town on the Lebanese border, to evacuate their town because of the threat of Hezbollah guerilla counter attacks across the border. Why, Yoni asks, does that threat still exist 13 days after the opening of hostilities?
The answer, as suggested by both Yoni Tibi and former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold in their interviews on the Hugh Hewitt Show, is that Israel is attacking with brigades instead of battalions. Also, there was an over-reliance on air power and artillery in the opening days of the war. That approach made great sense as a prelude, preparing the battlefield for a large-scale ground invasion, but the bombs and air-launched rockets could not destroy well-fortified underground bunkers and arsenals, as evidenced by the fact that Hezbollah is still launching over 100 rockets a day at Israeli cities and towns. To be successful, the work of clearing out Hezbollah requires ground troops, moving in force.
When Israel finally moved ground troops across the border, the force was inadequate. Yoni Tibi compared the size of the forces that invaded Israel in 1982, fighting the Palestinian militias who then occupied South Lebanon. Israel then employed perhaps 25 times the number of troops and tanks that it is now using in South Lebanon, against an enemy who was not as well trained or as well armed as Hezbollah.
What is going on? Part of the problem is perhaps illustrated by the photo above left. It shows Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the cockpit of an F-16 at a visit to an air force base today. It reminds me ever so much of the famous photo of Michael Dukakis in the tank, which helped George H.W. Bush win the 1988 American Presidential election. It points up that neither Ehud Olmert, nor his Defense Minster, Amir Peretz, has extensive military experience. That is not unprecedented--neither did Levi Eshkol in 1967, Golda Meir or Menachem Begin in 1982. But those leaders at least had experienced military men such as Moshe Dayan, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon to advise them. Those military leaders were certainly not infallible--the complaisance of some of them almost led to disaster in the Yom Kippur War, until Ariel Sharon took field command in the Sinai, and managed to ignore orders from his military and civilian superiors long enough to cross the Suez Canal, surround the Egyptian Third Army and save Israel from defeat.
In contrast, no such figure sits at the right hand of Olmert or Peretz. Instead, for the first time, the Israeli Chief of Staff is an Air Force General, Dan Halutz, who might naturally be suspected to overly rely on air power.
The other factor that may be influencing Israel's poor tactical decisions is fear of "the Lebanese mud," the Israeli term for the 18-year occupation of a buffer zone in South Lebanon following the 1982 invasion. However, without minimizing the loss of lives and thje wounded over those 18 years, the disaster of the Lebanese occupation was political, not military. If fear of occupying land in Lebanon causes Israel to fight against Hezbollah with insufficient ground forces, and to refuse to hold territory, the disaster this time will be both military and political. As may pundits have noted over the past few days, if Hezbollah merely survives Israel's attacks as an organized military force still in control of South Lebanon, it will have won a great strategic victory. Moreover, as international political pressure builds on Israel to agree to a ceasefire, time is short. Israel's politicians may well succeed in snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Critics of Israel's "disproportionate response" have expressed astonishment that Israel attacked Hezbollah rather than negotiating a prisoner swap for its captured soldiers. Who are the Lebanese prisoners whom Hezbollah wants released? Paul Greenberg, writing in Jewish World Review, introduces us to one of them, a charming fellow named Samir Kuntar. As you will read, he is not a very nice man.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Arabs For Israel and Against Hamas and Hezbollah
The unprovoked attacks on Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah have split the Arab world. The prospects of an Iranian Shiite dominated alliance with Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah frightens Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, as well as many Palestinians and Lebanese. Youssef Ibrahim (photo at right) is an Egyptian-born American reporter who served for twenty-four years as a senior Middle East regional correspondent for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He has written two scathing articles in the New York Sun, the first on July 17, entitled "Arab Majority May Not Stay Forever Silent" (hat tip to Paul Kujawsky), and the second on July 21, entitled "The Hyenas and Maggots Who Feed Off Our World" . Frankly, he says things about the Palestinians in the second article that I would hesitate to write. Here is an excerpt:
Ibrahim emphasizes that his opinion reflects the point of view of many Saudi Arabian princes as well as Egyptian, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Bahraini and other Arab decision makers. He concludes, "And guess who these Arabs are now following into liberation from their ghosts? Israel."
Beneath the anguished sounds of destruction in the Levant, a new Lebanon is being born. This Lebanon will be freed from the savage hordes of Hezbollah jihadists, snatched from the jaws of Syrian and Iranian hyenas, and liberated at last from Palestinian Arab maggots who for 50 years masqueraded as freedom fighters and poisoned everything they touched.
As we watch this magnificent tragedy unfold amid so much blood, tears, guts, rockets, and smoke, we, the long silenced Arab majority, must insist that it bring down the curtain on the barbarians in our midst.
Given the enormous stakes, it is imperative that the collective will of Israel, America, France — indeed, all of Europe — and the many Arab nations quietly backing the fight does not weaken before the job is done.
Reading Ibrahim's articles gives me great hope. But for the best summary, I go back to Dry Bones:
Thursday, July 20, 2006
LAND FOR WAR?
As noted on this blog, in a post on July 12, 2006 entitled "Barak's Peace Legacy--War in Gaza, War in Lebanon," and by other gifted and inciteful pundits as well, the unilateral withdrawals of Israel from South Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005 led directly to the current two-front war that Israel is fighting. DRY BONES gives its take on the same concept above.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Jed Babbin Has A Busy Day
Regular listeners to the Hugh Hewitt show on KRLA 870 AM and other Salem Radio Network affiliates wil recognize Jed Babbin as Hugh's current favorite substitute host. Jed is also the former deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration and a contributing editor of The American Spectator. Today he has been particularly prolific in his written work on the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, with an editorial in The Wall Street Journal (which originally appeared at Real Clear Politics), arguing against a cease-fire in Lebanon, and a fascinating speculation at Real Clear Politics about the technical defense capabilities of the Israeli Navy corvette that survived a direct hit from an Iranian missile.
Israel's Response Is Proportionate
My friend Paul Kujawsky is a lawyer and political activist, the former President and currently the Vice President of Democrats for Israel, and a member of the California Democratic Central Committee. He wrote the following column, as an exclusive to The Hedgehog Blog:
by Paul Kujawsky
Israel’s military operation against Hamas and Hizbolla has been received with more international understanding than previous post-1967 operations. Nevertheless, Israel’s success in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and Hizbolla is being met by predictable demands that the Jewish state prematurely end its campaign before the elimination of the terrorist threat. The preferred line of attack has been condemnation of the lack of "proportionality" in Israel’s reaction. The European Union and the Arab League; countries including Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Indonesia and Venezuela; and newspapers such as the Guardian, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, have all criticized Israel’s actions as "disproportionate."
What are they talking about?
It’s a question of international law. Just as the U.N. Charter (rather optimistically) requires that "[a]ll Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered," (Article 2), it explicitly recognizes "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations . . . " (Article 51).
However, this right to wage war in self-defense is not unlimited. As UCLA Law Professor Jack Beard explains in a 2002 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy article, "It is a well established rule of customary international law that even when a state is lawfully engaged in the exercise of its inherent right of self-defense, its use of force must be limited to that force necessary to defend against the attack and must be
Professor Beard adds, "Proportionality depends on the totality of circumstances and requires decisions about the nature of the conflict to which it is applied—making recent Israeli actions a rather complex topic."
We can analyze the problem of proportionality this way:
First, "proportionate" does not mean "tit-for-tat." If you hit me without justification, my goal in hitting back is not to establish an equilibrium of ongoing violence. My goal is to hit you hard enough to make you stop. No more rockets in the Negev and the Galilee.
Second, a proportionate defense must include deterrence. Not only do I want you to stop hitting me; I want to make you never want to do it again. And I want to make those supporting you (Syria and Iran) nervous.
Third, in war, even a proportionate response can involve the suffering of innocents. Unfortunately, no one has yet devised a way of waging war without unintended civilian casualties. Here, note that while Israel drops leaflets warning Palestinian and Lebanese civilians to stay away from likely targets, Hamas and Hizbolla do their best to kill Israeli civilians. Note too the opinion polls showing that a solid majority of Palestinians favor the kidnaping of Israeli soldiers and the rocketing of Israeli cities. Hamas and Hizbolla have both won electoral victories, despite (or because of) their Islamist programs. Thus, the civilian populations in Palestine and Lebanon can be considered not entirely "innocent."
When the United States exercised its right of self-defense after 9/11, we didn’t just knock down the two tallest buildings we could find in Kabul. We tried to destroy al-Qaeda, and we overthrew the Taliban government that had supported it. No serious commentator regarded that as "disproportionate." Israel, long tormented by terrorism, is entitled to no less freedom of action.
As a result, calls for a quick cease-fire or peace-keeping forces are off the mark. War is like comedy in one respect (and probably only one respect): Timing is everything. Israel should not stop before reaching its goal of eliminating the threat of rockets from Gaza and southern Lebanon.
Illegal Immigration: A Very Uncomfortable Undertone
Nick Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief of Reason Magazine, discusses the magazine's August-September cover story on immigration. According to Opinion Journal's Political Diary, the essays inside "focus is on the various political, economic and social arguments informing today's raucous [immigration] debate. But what really recommends this current issue are the half-dozen vintage late-19th and early-20th century illustrations that accompany the text." Gillespie:
Unfortunately, Political Diary requires a subscription. I recommend the newsletter -- only $3.95 a month and well worth it.
"Conservatives like to bleach the racism out of the immigration debate, but that's always been part of it," said Mr. Gillespie, noting that Irish and Italians weren't considered white at the time and that political cartoons of this era often depicted the Irish with distinctly simian features. "These images should haunt this debate more than they have. All of the assimilation patterns point to Mexican immigrants being totally indistinguishable from others down the road. But the way these people get talked about as invaders, as rats, as mice, as bugs -- it's something that needs to be countered in a way that only history lessons can."
George Will, a respected an honorable conservative writer of long standing, has been "denouncing as 'untethered from reality' people who are urging action against Syria and Iran." Harold Hutchison at Called As Seen has the most succinct rebuttal to George Will I have seen yet.
Hugh Hewitt has been whaling away at Will's position too. His latest is an unusually (for Hugh) long and passionate post.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Nasrallah: Hezbollah Will Launch 500 Missiles at Tel Aviv on One Hour's Notice
Israel National News is reporting this story. The Palestinian news agency Ma'an, quoting "sources close to Hizbollah" [sic.], said that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah would give the residents of Tel Aviv one hour's notice to flee before directing a 500-missile barrage at Israel's largest city. Supposedly the entire city has been divided into squares "in order to let damage reach every inch of the city."
A real threat or just bluster and bravado? Palestinian news sources are notoriously propagandistic, and this report may well be a fantasy intended primarily to boost sinking Palestinian morale in Gaza as Hamas continues to be ground down by Israeli attacks. We shall soon find out. However, should such an attack occur on Tel Aviv, Beirut and Damascus will quickly feel the after-shocks.
The Anti-Dean: The Wall Street Journal Gets It Right
As noted below, Howard Dean almost infallibly gets it wrong. ("Infallibly gets it wrong" admittedly is technically an oxymoron, but appropriate in Dean's case.) In contrast, the Wall Street Journal--the anti-Dean--almost always gets it right. (It is noteworthy that a liberal columnist in today's Los Angeles Times, in listing the political crimes of Joe Lieberman, cited as one of his offenses that he has published opinion pieces in "the ultraconservative Wall Street Journal editorial pages." Heavens, what next?)
Today's lead editorial in the WSJ.com Opinion Journal, entitled "Iran's First Strike", is no exception. WSJ sets out the evidence that the Hamas attack on Israel in the south and the Hezbollah attack on Israel in the north were coordinated by Iran, with the active assistance of its Syrian ally. As WSJ notes, its analysis is shared by Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who recently told al-Arabiya television that "What is happening in Lebanon is part of the struggle between Syria and Iran on the one side and Israel on the other." And: "Iran is saying to the U.S.: '[If] you want to fight in the Gulf or hit our nuclear facilities, we will hurt you in your home, in Israel.' "
The Journal then observes:
The question going forward is whether the Bush Administration will acknowledge this Lebanon conflict as the strategic threat it is and fight back accordingly. That means at a minimum allowing our ally in the region, Israel, the time and diplomatic support to deal Iran's Hezbollah proxies a heavy blow. Israel has already cut off supply lines from Syria by land and air. And now it is working systematically to destroy the military force that Hezbollah has accumulated, especially its missiles, which now include radars that can hit a warship and perhaps have the range to reach Tel Aviv.
If, as we believe, Iran did coordinate the Hamas and Hezbollah attacks as a challenge to the United States and Israel, the results have not been the capitulation that Iran had hoped for. As The Hedgehog Blog noted on Sunday, after the ferocious Israeli reaction, Iran made an abrupt and startling turn-around from its previous refusal to negotiate giving up its nuclear program. Jules Crittenden, a columnist for the Boston Herald, concurs with our cause-and-effect analysis in this piece.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Howard Dean on the Middle East Fighting-Wrong As Usual
Chris Muir in Day by Day yesterday skewered the inane remarks of Howard Dean, who in a speech to "Democracyfest" at San Diego State University, said:
“If you think what’s going on in the Middle East today would be going on if the Democrats were in control, it wouldn’t, because we would have worked day after day after day to make sure we didn’t get where we are today. We would have had the moral authority that Bill Clinton had when he brought together the Northern Irish and the IRA, when he brought together the Israelis and the Palestinians.”(Source: Little Green Footballs).
Not surprisingly, Dean has it almost 180 degrees wrong. In fact, a minority of the blame for the current fighting in both Gaza with Hamas and in Northern Israel and South Lebanon, with Hezbollah, should be hung around the neck of the Clinton Administration.
[I say a minority, because most of the blame for the current crisis must be borne by the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, and other supporters of the disastrous 1993 Oslo Accords. The Oslo Accords began the Israeli policies of retreat and appeasement that convinced Hezbollah and the Palestinians that they could successfully confront a spiritually weak and demoralized Israel militarily.]
Benjamin Netanyahu was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1996, after a wave of terrorist attacks had exposed the folly of Oslo and had driven Shimon Peres from office. Netanyahu strove mightily to reverse the Rabin-Peres policy of ignoring non-compliance by Yassir Arafat and the Palestinians with their obligations under the Oslo Accords. He conditioned further territorial concessions to the Palestinians on performance of their obligations to stop terrorism and disarm the terrorist militias.
For this attempt to salvage Oslo, he earned the enmity of the Clinton Administration. Bill Clinton dispatched his Mephistopheles, James Carville, to be the campaign manager of the Labor Party's Ehud Barak in the next Israeli elections. When Barak and Labor defeated Netanyahu and Likud in the 1999 elections, Clinton chortled at a Democratic fundraiser that he was as "excited as a young kid with a new toy." How is that for describing the leader of a sovereign state?
In a disastrous precedent for the Gaza disengagement, Barak, with Clinton's encouragement, precipitously withdrew the Israel Defense Forces from South Lebanon, abandoning the region to Hezbollah. Hezbollah promptly proudly proclaimed itself the first Arab force to defeat Israel militarily. Emboldened by their example, the Palestinians began the "Al Aksa Intifada," which ultimately led to the rise to power of Hamas and the present fighting in Gaza.
For those who might be seduced by Dean's claim that the Clinton Administration's "moral authority" might have prevented the current crisis, I need only evoke the following image: Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State of the most powerful nation on earth, in October 2000, running awkwardly in her heels through the cobblestone courtyard of the US Embassy in Paris, chasing after Yassir Arafat, the petty thug kingpin of a criminal gang, who had just stalked out out of negotiations to end the fighting he had initiated after the failure of the Camp David talks. How is that for moral authority?
Caroline Glick on the Cost to Israel of Appeasing Hezbollah
Caroline Glick is the Middle East Fellow for Frank Gaffney's Center for National Security. She was on vacation in the north of Israel when the conflict with Hezbollah began. In this column in the Jerusalem Post, she analyses how a policy of ignoring or appeasing Hezbollah was followed for six years by successive Israeli governments, after Israel's precipitous withdrawal from Lebanon, each government hoping that the inevitable confrontation with Hezbollah would fall to his successor. In the meantime, the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization built up a massive arsenal of missiles and rockets, in effect allowing the Iranian mullahs, who have sworn Israel's destruction, to set up shop along her northern border. She analyses what must now be done to protect Israel's security: "destroying Hizbullah as a fighting force and compelling the Lebanese army to deploy along the border with Israel after Hizbullah is routed." While acknowledging that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has declared that those are in fact Israel's objectives in the current conflict, she questions whether the Olmert government has the will to resist pressure to quit before those goals are achieved. She concludes:
As my interrupted vacation proved, by retreating from Lebanon and Gaza, Israel effectively surrendered the initiative for waging war to its enemies. Israelis no longer control when war comes to us. It is therefore imperative that the Olmert government understand that retreat is not an option. Otherwise, whether at work or at play, at home or on the town, we will all be sitting ducks.
Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for this excerpt from a very sobering Jerusalem Post interview with Israel Air Force chief Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy:
There are three indisputable aspects: Their leader, President Ahmadinejad, talks of the Jewish people and the State of Israel in terms that no other world leader would dare use. You recall his conference on "The world withoutIt's hard to add anything to such comments.
Zionism." Then he moved onto the Jews, to Israel.
Two, he is trying to develop capabilities to deliver his attacking capabilities - land-to-land missiles with ranges to reach central Europe, Russia, China, India, certainly Israel. Missiles from planes. Planes that can carry this weaponry.
Third, he is trying with all his might to reach a nuclear capability. There's no argument about his intentions. The nature of the centrifuges that he is producing is incontrovertibly not for peaceful purposes.
This combination of thinking, capability of delivery and nuclear weaponry can come to constitute an existential threat to Israel and the rest of the world. It is no coincidence that the president of the US speaks as he does about Iran, and other world leaders do, too.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The always insightful and entertaining Mark Steyn takes aim at the value of diplomacy in resolving crises such as Israel's current two-front war against Hezbollah and Hamas, in a Chicago Sun Times column linked in the title of this post. An excerpt:
The forces at play in the Middle East are beyond the Geopolitical Friars' Club. The median age in Gaza is 15.8 years old. How likely is it that any of those bespoke Palestinian "moderates" who've been permanent fixtures on CNN and BBC Middle East discussion panels for 30 years have any meaningful sway over a population of unemployed uneducated teenage boys raised by a death cult? Israel withdrew from Gaza and, instead of getting on with a prototypical Palestinian state, Hamas turned the territory into an Islamist camp. Israel withdrew from Lebanon entirely in 2000, yet Hezbollah is now lobbing rockets at Haifa.
Why? Because in both cases these territories are now in effect Iran's land borders with the Zionist Entity. They're "occupied territories" but it's not the Jews doing the occupying. So you've got a choice between talking with proxies or going to the source: Tehran. And, as the unending talks with the EU have demonstrated, the ayatollahs use negotiations with the civilized world as comedy relief.
Iran Nuclear Crisis: Did the Other Guy Just Blink? Did Israel's Attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon Help?
It was October 24, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy had imposed a naval blockade on Cuba--an act of war. The previous day, U.S. Navy ships had taken position around the quarantine line designated by the President. Now, Soviet ships were approaching that line, and the Navy had orders to use any means necessary to stop and search the ships if they crossed the line. Both nations nuclear attack systems were on a high state of alert. As the world held its breath, the Soviet ships approached just short of the line--and then stopped dead in the water. Secretary of State Dean Rusk famously said, "We were eyeball to eyeball and the other guy just blinked."
Today, the Iranian government may have just blinked. As reported here by the Associated Press, Iran announced today that Western incentives to halt its nuclear program were an "acceptable basis" for talks, and it is ready for detailed negotiations.
Obviously, one statement does not mean the end of the crisis or that Iran will actually follow through on any agreement that is negotiated. As the Gipper said, "Trust but verify."
Until today, the Iranians had shown little interest in serious negotiations. Indeed, out of frustration with Iranian recalcitrance, the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union all agreed last Wednesday to submit the issue of Iran's nuclear progran to the UN Security Council, as reported here.
Despite that superficial show of unity, it was doubtful whether Russia or China would have voted for a serious program of sanctions against Iran, and therefore doubtful that Iran would have agreed to negotiate merely because the UN Security Council was taking up the issue. So what turned Iran around?
I would argue that Iran was taken aback by the ferocity of Israel's counter attack against Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon in its war against the West. Iranian President Ahmadinejad's policy of confrontation with the United States and Israel was based on his assumption that Israel, having retreated in Lebanon and in Gaza, was a weakened, paper tiger. Suddenly, the tiger turned and showed that it still has fangs, claws and a nasty temper.
Another sign that Iran has blinked: Iran's official news agency, IRNA, denied on Sunday charges by Israel that the missile that damaged an Israeli naval vessel last week was Iranian made and launched with the assistance of Iranian Revolutionary Guards assisting Hezbollah in Lebanon. I don't believe the denial for a minute, but it is intriguing that Iran now denies what two weeks ago it would have been proud to publicize. The conclusion: Iran is now afraid of an armed confrontation with Israel and the United States.
If my conclusion is correct, and Israel's actions against Hezbollah in Lebanon have forced Iran to the negotiating table on its nuclear program, the West owes a debt of gratitude to Israel, and not for the first time.
Just a few thoughts on a debate in which very few are performing honorably:
- It remains a stubborn fact that 75 percent of Republican voters support immigration reform "that combines increased border and workplace enforcement with a guest-worker system for newcomers and a multiyear path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here."
- Even so, the Senate bill is deeply flawed and must not pass in its present form, as this Washington Times editorial argues. For example, there's no reason why the bill should prohibit state and local police from detaining illegal aliens for being in the country illegally. The legislation is full of little goodies like that.
- Still, I cannot shake the feeling that the hard-core opponents of comprehensive immigration reform are using the many flaws in the Senate bill as excuses for opposing it. Those folks would oppose anything short of requiring all illegals to leave the country.
And everyone ought to consider trying to implement the will of the great majority of Americans who want comprehensive reform.
Update: Ruben Navarrette, whose writing on this subject is always excellent, observes:
Putting off immigration reform until we "secure the border" is like saying we're going to put off welfare reform until we end poverty, or that we shouldn't curb racial preferences until we end inequality. Here's the thing: We're never going to end poverty or inequality, just as we'll never totally secure the border. If we wait for that goal to be achieved before going on to the next phase, we'll be waiting forever.Read Navarrette's entire piece, especially his ideas about what "comprehensive enforcement" means. If you think he's an "open borders" advocate, you will be surprised.
It doesn't help that with their knee-jerk "enforcement only" approach, House Republicans took a powder on the tough issue -- namely, what to do with 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants who are already in the United States. In fact, these wannabe hard-liners don't even have the faintest clue about how to prevent additional illegal immigrants from entering the country. They might understand the issue better had they paid more attention to the experts during their recent round of photo-ops, er, I mean, field hearings, on immigration reform.
Update 2: I forgot to link to Navarrette in my initial post. With apologies, here's the link.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
Robert Tracinski, editor of The Intellectual Activist, in an article posted at Real Clear Politics, entitled "The War Comes to Us," convincingly argues that the conflict now raging in Gaza, Israel and Lebanon is in reality the opening salvos of a larger conflict between Iran and the United States for domination of the Middle East. He quotes David Twersky in the New York Sun, who echoes a suspicion that occurred to me as well--that the kidnapping of Israeli Corporal Gilad Shavit may turn out the be the modern equivalent of the assasination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, an event unexpectedly triggering a new world war. So far the conflict is a proxy war, pitting Hamas, Syria and Hezbollah, the proxies of Iran, against Israel, the proxy of the United States. However, the strategic geographic scope of the conflict is taking shape, and it is breathtaking. Tracinksi quotes Michael Ladeen, writing in the National Review:
"No one should have any lingering doubts about what's going on in the Middle East. It's war, and it now runs from Gaza into Israel, through Lebanon and thence to Iraq via Syria. There are different instruments, ranging from Hamas in Gaza to Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon and on to the multifaceted "insurgency" in Iraq. But there is a common prime mover, and that is the Iranian mullahcracy."
This new world conflagration has the potential for other fronts opening as well. For example, Hezbollah already demonstrated its operational capabilities in Argentina (which has a sizeable Shiite Muslim community), with a 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy and a 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center. Al Qaida is also known to have operational cells in South America. With the cooperation of anti-US leaders in Cuba and Venezuela, it is not unlikely that Hezbollah and Al Qaida, either separately or in cooperation with one another, may carry out attacks on US, Israeli or Jewish targets in Latin America.
Charles Krauthammer, in an article posted at RealClearPolitics, puts it all in perspective. David Horovitz, Editor of the Jerusalem Post, makes the same point in his column there. He writes:
"There are those who have branded this latest conflict a continuation of Israel's War of Independence, and there is no little truth in the assertion. On both of the fronts on which Israel has been drawn into heavy fighting, its enemies can make no legitimate claim to be pursuing a territorial dispute: as of last summer, Israel relinquished its hold on the Gaza Strip; in Lebanon, it pulled back to the UN-certified international border six years ago.
"Except that, in both cases, the Jewish state's assailants are indeed pursuing a territorial ambition - to unseat Israel from its own sovereign lands. "
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Support Israel's Soldiers In the Field--Send Them Pizza!
One of the extraordinary aspects of service in the Israel Defense Forces--at least to Americans--is that the front lines are often a relatively short auto ride from home, not too far for parents to drop off a "Care package," or, for that matter, for pizza delivery. PizzaIDF.org is a non-profit organization that delivers strictly kosher pizza to troops on active duty. Those who want to tangibly support Israel's troops in the current crisis may order pizza, or other treats for the troops, here. You can order for a patrol, a section, a platoon or even a company. Choices include pizza, ice cream or hamburgers (but no hamburgers with pizza--this is truly kosher).
My friends Dr. David and Edie Boxstein have a son, Jonathan, now on duty in Iraq. Like many other Americans, we send monthly packages of snacks, books, CDs and hard-to-get toiletries to Jonathan's platoon. However, we have not yet been able to manage pizza deliveries there.
Quote of The Day: Illegal Immigration and American Conservatism
Who with any political sense in the '50s would have predicted that, by the end of the century, conservatism would come to dominate American political thought?Read the whole thing.
How did it happen? It came to pass because American conservatism was able to articulate the country's values in a way that made sense to a new generation of Americans.
A battle is always raging for the soul of American conservatism. It is a battle between those who would find a familiar place to hunker down, and those who would risk engagement with ideas and the world.
There have always been those who would reduce the conservative impulse to something narrow and mean and afraid — an exclusive little club restricted to Our Kind of People, rather than a great, open, embracing faith.
The great political achievement of Ronald Reagan was to transform a cozy club into a populist movement, and his example remains instructive. Much like Lincoln before him, The Great Communicator was willing to accept the know-nothings' votes, but he drew the line at substituting their prejudices for his principles.
In Mr. Lincoln's day, the Know-Nothings actually had a party, and its bogeyman was the Roman Catholic Church. Today's demagogues use the latest wave of immigrants to much the same effect.
Today the party of Lincoln is being told it should demand that all illegal immigrants be deported, even if that means breaking up families, disrupting the economy and denying immigrant mothers medical care and their children an equal right to a college education.
Does anyone think these children will forget how their families, their mothers and fathers, were treated once they grow up to become voters, as they surely will? Childhood hurts endure, and their fruit is bitterness.
Do we really want to let that kind of bitterness take root? Immigrant families once instilled an undying gratitude and reflexive patriotism in their children. I know. I was an immigrant's child. Are we now going to plant resentment instead?
Two-Front War Rages--Northern Israel Under Hizbollah Rocket Attack
One person was killed and 28 people wounded when Hizbollah launched four Katyusha rockets at the Northern Israeli town of Nahariya on Thursday morning, Israel time. The fatality occurred when a Katyusha rocket struck the roof of an apartment building (see photo at left), killing a woman who had been sitting on her balcony. As reported in the Jerusalem Post, more than 50 rockets launched from Lebanon fell on northern Israeli cities and towns on Thursday morning. The Post story notes:
"Katyushas also fell on Thursday morning in Kfar Nasi in the Galilee and in Kibbutz Mahanayim, signifying an increase in the range of Katyusha rockets to 20-25 kilometers. There were no immediate reports of casualties in the attacks. Hizbullah said that in some of its attacks it was using a rocket called "Thunder 1" for the first time, which may have a longer range than older Katyushas.
"So far on Thursday morning alone, there have been confirmed Katyusha attacks on Nahariya, Rosh Pina, Kibbutz Hagoshrim, Kibbutz Mishmar Hayarden, Gadot, Kfar Nasi, Beit Hillel, Kibbutz Mahanayim, Kibbutz Kabri, Mount Hermon, Netiv Haasarah, Mount Meron, Shlomi, Zar'it."
Instead of backing off, Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has doubled down. It is characteristic of tyrants and dictators that they underestimate the strength of will of democracies, mistaking a democratic people's reluctance to go to war for weakness. As the Japanese discovered on December 8, 1941, and the Taliban and al Qaida discovered on September 12, 2oo1, at some point, attacks on a democracy awaken a sleeping giant. Israel has been asleep since its withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, or even, some would say, since entering into the Oslo Accords in September 1993. I believe, I hope, I pray that the attacks launched by Hamas in the South and Hizbollah in the North have finally awakened the Israeli people and their leaders. In any case, I place my faith on the Guardian of Israel, who never sleeps or slumbers.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Barak's Peace Legacy--War in Gaza, War in Lebanon
In May 2000, Israel abruptly began a unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, where its troops had been since its 1982 invasion to drive out Palestinian terrorist militias who used southern Lebanon as their base of operations. (Here is a contemporaneous account from the BBC.) Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak did not attempt to negotiate a withdrawal with the Lebanese government. Consequently, there was no plan in place for Lebanese Army troops to secure the region from which Israel was withdrawing--it was simply abandoned to the militia of Hezbollah, an extremist Shiite Moslem group, which engages in terrorist operations throughout the world, under the sponsorship and patronage of Iran and Syria.
Barak's precipitous abandonment of southern Lebanon also made no provision for the safety of the South Lebanese Army (SLA), a Lebanese militia opposed to Hezbollah and to Syrian domination of Lebanon, which had been Israel's ally in the region for nearly 20 years. Some SLA leaders and officers fled into exile and were given sanctuary in Israel. Most of its troops and their families were abandoned to their uncertain fate--many were imprisoned or executed. The unmistakable lesson for Arabs otherwise sympathetic to Israel and willing to live in peace with the Jewish State was that Israel is an unfaithful ally.
(The United States is still trying in Iraq and Afghanistan to undo the same lesson, taught by its abandonment of South Vietnam in 1975. Of course, there are those of the same mindset as produced the Vietnam debacle who now want to repeat it in Iran.)
But the legacy of Barak was still more pernicious. Although it never defeated Israel on the battlefield, Hezbollah trumpeted the Israeli withdrawal as the first Arab military victory over the Jewish State. The lesson learned by Palestinians was that Israel could be demoralized, defeated and perhaps even ultimately destroyed through a continuing low-intensity war of attrition. What followed, almost immediately, in September 2000, was the so-called Al Aksa intifada.
Even the old stalwart warrior of Israel, Ariel Sharon, the political architect of Israel's settlement program in Yehuda, Shomron and Gaza, and the planner of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, seemed to undergo the demoralization that his Arab (and Left-wing Israeli) enemies had longed hoped for. After being elected to power on a platform of ending Palestinian terrorism with a strong hand, Sharon conceived and executed a program of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which has proven even more disastrous than Barak's unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon. Not only did it turn Gaza into "Hamasistan"; implementing the plan involved the removal of some 10,000 Jews, and the destruction of their homes, farms and businesses, in history's first self-inflicted ethnic cleansing operation.
Sharon was succeeded by Ehud Olmert, a man who once said in a speech,"We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies... ." No words could more aptly demonstrate the success of Hezbollah's strategy against Israel. And the presence now in Gaza of Israeli troops, engaged in pitched battle with Palestinans, demonstrates the bankruptcy of the Gaza disengagement plan.
Throughout the grim years since May 2000, the one "gain" pointed to by defenders of the abandonment of southern Lebanon to Hezbollah has been a relatively quiet northern border. This achievement was largely illusory--Hezbollah staged intermittent incursions and shelling of northern Israeli towns--but it was trumpeted nonetheless by the Israeli Left as proof of the wisdom of Barak's decision to cut and run.
As of today, even that illusory achievement has dissipated like morning mist by harsh sunlight. Hezbollah guerillas entered Israel today, killing seven Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. In response, Israeli troops have re-entered southern Lebanon. (Jerusalem Post coverage of this story is here.)
By its displays of weakness, n Lebanon and Gaza, in the cause of "Peace Now," Israel has convinced its deadly foes of its vulnerability and has invited attack. As a result, Israel now fights a two-front hot war.
Leaving the legal mumbo-jumbo out, here is Reason's summary of Monday's decision:
CleanFlicks is one of several companies that clean up sex and violence and foul language in movies and then sell the bowdlerized versions (which are clearly labeled as such) to their mostly religious customers. Among the sanitizers' most widely reported edits was the redaction of Winslet's breasts from the arty scenes in James Cameron's Titanic.I happen to own a cleaned-up copy of Titanic, given to me by one of my sons. At the time he was 16, my younger son was 12, and our daughther was 5. I wanted to watch the movie with our older boys and not have to subject them to that scene. (Believe me, the movie is just fine without it.) In our family, we believe it is spiritually very unhealthy to view such material. If that makes us puritanical in some people's eyes, so be it.
Such simple acts of repurposing content ran afoul of, among others, the Directors Guild of America, which claimed that such actions infringed on moviemakers' copyright protections. Now, according to an account at E! Online, "a federal judge in Denver has ordered several companies to cease and desist from editing out movie content they find offensive."
This is a case in which the self-importance and arrogance of the Hollywood entertainment machine won. Here's part of a statement about the case by Michael Apted, president of the Directors' Guild of America:
"Directors put their skill, craft and often years of hard work into the creation of a film," added Apted, whose own repertoire includes the 1999 James Bond adventure The World Is Not Enough and Gorillas in the Mist. "These films carry our name and reflect our reputations. So we have great passion about protecting our work...against unauthorized editing."(Pause to roll eyes.)
Oh, please. This ruling, if upheld, only forestalls the inevitable. If there is a market for movies without the gratuitously-inserted sex or nude scene (and please do not tell me that such scenes are not inserted, or that artistic integrity requires them), people will find a way to serve that market. Maybe you'll be able to purchase a DVD and a machine that will alow you to edit offensive scenes on your own, in the privacy of your own home. (First Amendment libertines love that "privacy of your own home" stuff.)
Matter of fact, a Salt Lake City-based company called ClearPlay already sells "computer software and modified DVD players that allow viewers to skip over any materials they deem objectionable." Will that technology be the next Target of Apted and company?
Make a statement. Contact ClearPlay and buy one of their special DVD players.
And no, I don't have any connection to ClearPlay. I just think what they do is cool.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
A Law Unenforced Is A Law Ignored -- Prosecute The New York Times And The Los Angeles Times!
As the dead are being counted from the terrorist bombings of the Mumbai (Bombay) train system, we are reminded that in the face of continuing terrorist threats, some prominent American newspapers believe that they have carte blanche to publish classified information concerning our government's anti-terrorism operations. Most egregious was the recent publication by the New York Times and the Los Angeles Tiems of national security secrets concerning the monitoring by the CIA of data obtained from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which administers international money transfer transactions. Those newspapers chose to reveal details concerning a legal and successful intelligence operation, despite pleas to refrain from the Secretary of the Treasury, the White House Press Secretary and even Democrats Lee Hamilton (Co-chair of the 9/11 commission) and Congressman John Murtha (who is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Appropriations Committee). NY Times editor Bill Keller apparently believed that he could make a more accurate assessment of the potential damage to national security sitting in his office than could any of those individuals. His arrogance is astounding.
Previously, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published classified information concerning National Security Agency monitoring for mobile phone communications between al-Qaeda agents abroad and their moles inside the United States.
A law unenforced is a law ignored. The disregard of our nation's security laws by leading newspapers must stop. I therefore call for the prosecution of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for publishing classified information in violation of federal law.
The U.S. Supreme Court, in New York Times v. the United States (the Pentagon Papers case), held that there is a "heavy presumption" against the government's right to engage in pre-publication censorship of a news story. However, that presumption does not apply to post-publication prosecution if a law has been violated. Generally speaking, the First Amendment does not give a newspaper any greater license to disseminate classified information than a private citizen.
I do not know what the prospects are for successful legal prosecution of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. However, it is worth noting that the newspapers and civil libertarians often argue that legal actions on newspapers can have a "chilling effect." In this case, a chilling effect is exactly what is called for. Indeed, one might say that our lives depend on it.
Monday, July 10, 2006
Today's Opinion Journal features a long editorial on the immigration issue. Regular readers will not be surprised that I found it compelling. Before you dismiss the piece as just another bleat from those open-borders folks at the Journal, I invite you to read it. An excerpt:
By far the largest concern we hear on the right concerns culture, especially the worry that the current Hispanic influx is so large it can resist the American genius for assimilation. Hispanics now comprise nearly a third of the population in California and Texas, the country's two biggest states, and cultural assimilation does matter.Read the whole thing.
This is where the political left does the cause of immigration no good in pursuing a separatist agenda. When such groups as La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund push for multiculturalism, bilingual education, foreign language ballots, racial quotas and the like, they undermine support for immigration among even the most open-minded Americans. Most Americans don't want to replicate the Bosnia model; nor are they pining for a U.S. version of the Quebec sovereignty movement. President Bush has been right to assert that immigrants must adopt U.S. norms, and we only wish more figures on the political left would say the same.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
If you're not sure about the answer to that question, read this Power Line post and then you should be.
Then read this one by Hugh Hewitt.
I picked up the Times today for the first time in a long time. The Lance Armstrong story is unavoidable and goes on, in full page format, for many pages. The first thought I had was, "Wow, they must really think they have something here!"
But it sure looks like they have nothing. Amazing.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Read "When a gunshot rings out, does it make a sound?" by Leonard Pitts. It's about nine year-old Sherdavia Jenkins, whose photo is at left.
Why do I recommend this piece? Because I have a nine year-old daughter who loves nothing more than to play with her dolls. After you read it you'll understand.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Waiting For Gilad
Danny Gordis is a former resident of North Hollywood. He and his family emigrated to Israel (or, as we say, "made aliyah") in 1998. A Conservative Jewish Rabbi, before he departed he had an extraordinary academic career. He was the founding Dean of Ziegler Rabbinical School, the West Coast Conservative Jewish rabbinical seminary, and was also an Assistant Professor of Philosophy there. He was Vice President for Public Affairs and Community Outreach at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, the campus where the Ziegler Rabbinical School is located. He holds a PhD from USC, which might not impress Hugh Hewitt, but impresses me. In Israel, he is Vice-President of the Mandel Foundation, Israel and Director of its Mandel Leadership Institute. He is a rather young man, for a person of such achievements, and, kein ayin horah (Yiddish invocation against the evil eye), he looks even younger.
Recently, Danny wrote a beautiful "dispatch" to his readers, entitled "I'm Afraid It Will Be Like This," about the mood in Israel in the wake of the recent rocket attacks from Gaza on Southern Israeli towns, and the cross-border attack by Palestinian guerillas, who killed two young Israeli soldiers and kidnapped a third, Gilad Shavit (whose photo appears above). He beautifully captures the emotions of a small peace-loving country that is forced to constantly fight for its very existence; the feelings of its citizens, who now wait for news of the fate of one of their children. He answers the puzzlement of some American and European pundits over why Israel is "making such a big deal over one captured soldier." Please read the entire essay here. It may help the reader to know that Avi, the 16-year old trying out for admission to an elite IDF unit when he turns 18, is Danny's son, while the young woman with the "Curious George" doll in her bedroom, away on her IDF service, is Danny's daughter.
If someone were to ask me to prove the difference between the Palestinians and the Israelis, I would say this: While Israelis agonize over the endangered life of one of their children, Gilad Shavit, publicly, in television and radio broadcasts and in their newspapers, and privately, at home with their families; Palestinian media continually broadcast calls for children to give up their lives in matyrdom by killing Jews. If you don't believe me, simply spend a little time at the website of Palestinian Media Watch. As Dennis Prager has said, all one has to do to truly understand which side wants war and which side wants peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to spend an hour watching the television broadcasts of both sides. Or, as the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said decades ago, "We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Michael Barone writes that in light of recent developments there is hope for a bill. Hre argues that "three developments last week may be reviving the chance immigration will be passed:"
- The renomination of Utah Rep. Chris Cannon in the Republican primary on June 27;
- An interview of Sen. Arlen Specter in The Washington Times on June 27;
- The meeting in the White House of Rep. Mike Pence with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on June 28.
Update: It appears the White House's willingness to compromise includes an interest in "triggers," which I have blogged about before. In essence, this is the idea, as expressed over a month ago by John McIntyre of Real Clear Politics:
Republicans need to craft a compromise that puts in place a program to shut down the illegal flow, which upon the proven success of dramatically halting illegal immigration will trigger a process that provides a pathway to citizenship for the millions of illegals who have been here for years. This is the type of broad-based compromise that the majority of the American people can support and it will put the onus on the Democrats to put up or shut up about whether they are serious about halting illegal immigration. [Emphasis added.]I hope the right people in Congress are thinking along these lines.
While I am at this, I hope the same "right people" are thinking along these lines, also from John McIntyre:
Tactically, however, Congressional Republicans should change focus in how they attack the Senate bill, away from the "pathway to citizenship" or "amnesty" issue and instead concentrate on the commitment to halt illegal immigration. This is not a small point, but rather a critically important distinction in the public relations battle.Wise words.
From the Republican standpoint, the core of the argument over the next few weeks (and in this fall's election) needs to be the seriousness of stopping the illegal flow over the border, not about a pathway to citizenship. If Republicans make a pathway to citizenship the primary issue, they are making a serious mistake because this comes across to the Hispanic community as mean-spirited and anti-immigrant.
New U.N. Human Rights Council's 1st Concern-Israel of Course!
Our apologies to the Hedgehog readership for overlooking this story while distracted by other news. The United Nations Human Rights Council is a new body--it was only created this past March and its initial members elected only in May. It replaces the defunct and unlamented UN Human Rights Commission. The charter members include such paragons of human rights as Cuba, China, the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia.
The Council got right down to work at its first session on June 19, and since has amply demonstrated that its agenda is in lockstep with that of the United Nations in general. On Friday, June 30, it voted to make a review of alleged human rights abuses by Israel in "occupied Palestine" a permanent agenda item of every Council session, as reported here by the Jerusalem Post. And today, as reported by the UN's own news service, the Council will open its first ever special session, to discuss--what else--"the human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory caused by the recent Israeli military operations against Palestinian civilians." Apparently not on the agenda is the cause of those Israeli military operations--an attack inside Israel by Palestinian terrorists, who killed two Israeli soldiers and are still holding one as a hostage.
DRY BONES provides the appropriate commentary: