NO ISRAELI "REBELLION"
Re: Ben Stein's As Thanksgiving Approaches:
I admire Ben Stein no end but I really wish he hadn't said that "suppressing rebellions has been done in Egypt, Algeria, and Israel" in reference to the possibility of surprising the so-called Iraqi "insurgency." The situation of Israel is nothing like that of France when it occupied Algeria.
To start with, the Palestinian territories are not a sovereign state invaded and occupied by a foreign force. The Palestinians may have their own banks, school system, media, and stock market (none of which Israel interferes with) but they have twice turned down official title to this disputed piece of land. Furthermore, in the French/Algerian conflict an indigenous people had fought to drive out foreign occupiers (quite brutal ones, at that). In this situation both groups are indigenous -- in fact, if one really wants to dredge up ancient history, the Jews may have the older presence. Let's remember the order of events here: Both groups of people had been living on the same piece of land, land owned by a confusing patchwork of owners. Israel gained official title to a piece of this land and was declared a state in the eyes of the world when the League of Nations, who administered these territories called "Palestine," designated a narrow strip as the state of Israel. The Palestinians could have been granted title and statehood of another chunk of "Palestine" at that time but that would have meant taking a smaller piece than they wanted (they wanted the whole thing) so they rejected the offer presumably because they thought they could chase "the Jews" out militarily. They tried three times and they failed. In the 1967 attempt, Arab forces attacked from points in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel routed enemy troops from those areas and then took possession of those territories (in a very partial and mostly benign way) to ensure they would not be attacked from those hilltops and wadis again.
Thus is Palestinian violence against Israel really classifiable as "rebellion" -- as opposed to another incarnation of this continuing war? To call Palestinian attacks a rebellion confuses cause and effect. The Israelis have entered and stay in the West Bank because the Palestinians continue -- to this day -- to use homes, schools and places of worship in that region as weapon depots, bomb factories, and staging areas in a continuing war (not rebellion) against Israel.
Furthermore, Israel has not, to use Stein's phrase, managed to "stamp out" terrorism -- if we are looking for models of what is possible in Iraq. The Israeli police and military manage to stop about 90% of attempts. What Israel has shown is that it is possible to reduce attacks on civilians to a tolerable level -- or a level at which a thriving democracy and economy can function day by day. This is what we can strive for in Iraq.
-- Stephanie Gutmann
Author, The Kinder, Gentler Military (Scribner 2000) and The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy (Encounter 2005)
I love it when someone is intelligent enough to pinpoint what is wrong with what's going on and what we have to do to succeed. Obviously Mr. Stein has that intelligence. Apparently America's new Democratic Party doesn't... Thank you for publishing Mr. Stein's Special Report. Indeed it gives us something to be thankful for.
-- Donald Gazzaniga
About Ms. Fabrizio's article, and one letter written in response:
It is true that Franklin D. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy prior to his time in the White House. But it is also true that he took the job because Uncle Ted had served in that same position, and found it to be bully preparation for the presidency. It is also true that FDR, while serving the Navy Department, made an official trip to France during the last days of World War I, dressed in a uniform of his own design, its style heavily influenced by Uncle Ted's Rough Rider uniform; it was a costume appropriate for the presidential guard in Munchkin Land. But, unlike Uncle Teddy, FDR didn't get close to the trenches, and real soldiers serving there resented him.
As for the honorable Clinton and his kind, one can easily imagine the shrieks and low moans that would have ensued had the first President Bush stepped up to the podium at the 1992 GOP convention and declared himself to be, "Lt. George H.W. Bush, reporting for duty," in an attempt to make his (genuine) heroism eclipse his position on the issues. We can be sure that if one of the first Bush's surrogates had compared "my hero" to "your deserter," as Michael Moore did in 2004 with the incumbent president and feminist general Wesley Clark, legions of ACLU types would have suffered hip displacement and ruptured tear ducts trying to contain their outrage. Their ability to practice such doublethink tells us who they are, and what.
The left is reacting to a situation they find distasteful in much the same way small children often respond to events beyond their comprehension or control -- by calling names and throwing mud. It is additional evidence that boom-babies are growing old without growing up. Someone buy Maureen Dowd a new Tickle-Me Elmo. Get a couple for Clinton, too.
-- Edmund Dantes
Re: Jed Babbin's The Vietnamization of Iraq:
Mr. Babbin has hit the nail on the head, once again. Short-term political expediency has trumped long-term benefits to the American people. It has become more important to U.S. politicians to protect their current positions or gain advantage for higher ones than it is to protect the people they are sworn to serve. To do that, they, Democrats and Republicans alike, have decided to present themselves as anti-war adherents.
People like Senators Biden, Kerry and Kennedy, have been trumpeting the lie that the administration lied concerning intelligence prior to the invasion of Iraq. The truthfulness of these accusations having been crushed by Bob Graham's assertion that the Senate Intelligence Committee was presented with contrasting intelligence reports as was the administration. That the Congress came to much the same conclusion as the administration has become lost on them.
People such as Senator McCain are doing their part to destroy the war effort, and anything else that would increase the safety and security of this country, with bills and amendments handcuffing our intelligence gathering efforts by limiting our interrogation techniques to forcing terrorist captives to watch re-runs of Sesame Street. Why? Does he actually believe that such restrictions will make the world a safer place? Or is the Harold Stassen of the 21st century simply ramping-up for another Presidential campaign?
The Bush administration, apparently lacking access to historical web documents has, strangely, adopted a Nixonian response to this nonsense. They give every appearance of climbing on the bandwagon. Troop draw-downs in six months? What happened to not even discussing a timetable for troop withdrawals until the Iraqi security forces are showing that they can handle the terrorist elements within that country without assistance? What happened to the stipulation that American troops will be active in Iraq until a duly elected Iraqi government requests their removal?
Has anyone noticed that radical Islamic terrorist organizations have come under very effective attack by foreign governments of late? Apparently not our leading politicians. They aren't even playing the same game as the rest of the world. While they play their petty power games and jockey for position in a single country, the rest of the world is involved in a fight for survival. There is a world war in progress pitting radical Islamic jihadists against the West, moderate secular Muslims and the rest of the world. Nuclear weapons are potentially coming into play and still these people are blinded by short-term personal gain. Just as in Vietnam, where the anti-war movement caused the war to continue for five to eight years longer than it should have, abandoning Iraq too quickly will result in many more American deaths than "staying the course."
Should our politicians succeed in achieving their short term goals at the expense of the future security of the people of this nation, I am sure that someone will remember their actions.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Jed Babbin has written a strong column, but I think it is a mistake for our side to make the arguments of the other side, even to demonstrate their danger. Our side needs to be making our case, not commenting on their case.
We need to keep in mind that no Arab army has ever had any real combat power in the modern sense. That is why Israel has been able to win all its wars, particularly the first one. Yes, there have been isolated successes -- the Arab Legion trained by the British and the Egyptian Army of 1973 using a very-well-thought-out Russian strategy. But those examples were temporary. They are the exceptions that prove the rule. Creating an effective Iraq army is in no sense returning to the status quo ante, but rather creating an entirely new social organism. Yes, it has taken longer than we expected, but we probably underestimated the task.
There is an excellent resource in the polemical wars that is not being used to its best advantage. And that is the daily White House briefing. The Administration should start using that forum as a video blog -- having principals come in for short periods when they have something topical to say. For instance, it would have been very much to the point to have Dick Cheney "drop in" after the Joe Wilson editorial in the NY Times in the summer of 2003 and say "we are still looking through our records, but I can say to you today that I have no idea who Joe Wilson is, I have never met him, I have never seen any report by him if one exists, and I certainly did not send him on a mission to Niger." And then take questions for, say, 5 minutes and then duck out. I think this could be done frequently during the week. One imagines Condi dropping in to offer a comment about some incident in Gaza; Rumsfeld dropping in to add some information about what is happening in Iraq; perhaps a returning soldier from Iraq meeting with the president dropping in for 5 minutes to give an update on the activities of his unit there and take questions. This would be less formal than a press conference, but a high profile opportunity for various people to advance the argument for the Administration and comment on topical events.
Bush cannot carry the entire load. To my knowledge, this has never been done in the past -- by Churchill, by FDR, by Woodrow Wilson, by Lincoln. They made infrequent public speeches within the context of general support for the war (less so in the case of Lincoln). The "team" needs to advance the argument and let Bush be ONE but not the ONLY player in that drama.
-- Greg Richards
I agree with you on this subject almost entirely. Shot 28, June 1967. 1st Cav. I have always been a Republican, but not as hard nosed as I am now. Much of your article falls on deaf ears. I know 'cause I have been saying it for years. We won Vietnam hands down, and the stinking Congress cut off the funds for the South Vietnamese Military. If Mr. Chappaquiddick is right about Iraq being W's Vietnam, it is only because the American public is too stinking lazy to get off the couch and shut off the stinking TV. Much of public opinion has been stolen by highly trained mouths. There is actually a highly trained way of telling a lie, and getting the soft-spined sponges sitting in front of a TV to believe it. And unfortunately, most of the folks reading your articles already are on our side. The sponges will not go near our side, because to do so would require them to admit that for decades they have been WRONG. There are some Republicans and some religious leaders that are dead wrong on Vietnam. And they won't bend either. And by the time this nation realizes that Islam is in no way a road to peace, you and I will probably be dead, and the road back, blocked forever. I hope Heaven is a real big place. I don't look forward to listening to some religious gasbag harp about Vietnam being all politics for eternity.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire
Glenn Reynolds calls this Vietnam in reverse, where the soldiers feel good about what they're doing and their leadership, but the media are promoting defeatism. Call it Manteiv.
-- Allen S. Thorpe
I appreciated your article on "The Vietnamization of Iraq" in today's American Spectator. Your suggestion that President Bush "needs to tell us long, hard, and continuously about what we are doing there" is the right one, but one that will continue to be thwarted by the TV networks. Most if not all of President Bush's daytime speeches, especially the excellent one about 5-6 weeks ago in which he defined who our enemy is and what we are doing in Iraq, were not televised by any of the TV networks, including PBS! The only way that you could have seen these speeches was to have cable TV.
The harsh fact is that most of the Americans who have been polled recently about their support for the Iraq war have probably never seen his speeches on why we are there and the successes that we are having there; their information has come exclusively from TV network news programs and the print press.
Please do whatever you can to make sure that this does not happen again and that the non-cable TV networks televise the President's major address on Iraq on Wednesday of this week.
-- Fred Wheelock
The Chernobyl Republicans need to be taken out to the wood shed. Bush needs to stop trying to be Mr. Nice Guy and get the RINOs in order and forget about the Dems ever liking him. Not going to happen.
I have been emailing my Senators several times a week letting them know I am VERY unhappy with the way they are dealing with the war, border control and guest worker programs. Of course we can not track down all the illegals in our country, but when we come upon one we can do something then. My county commissioner was bragging about having illegals working for the county. This needs to stop and the RINO's are not doing anything.
-- Elaine Kyle
Re: Philip Klein's Rocky IV Turns 20:
"By all accounts, the story [of the announced Rocky VI] does not involve Rocky fighting a boxer who is a member of Al Qaeda. I guess we'll have to wait for Rocky VII."
Connoisseurs of The Simpsons can tell you that Bart has already revealed the principal plot device of Rocky VII. I won't burden you with the how or why, but Bart manages to save his own life with a recently acquired understanding of Roman numerals, uttering the words, "Rocky V plus Rocky II equals Rocky VII: Adrian's Revenge!" How they'll work al-Qaeda into that is anyone's guess, though one might infer that he gets done in by terrorists. Maybe we should ask Matt Groening: in a cameo appearance in a recent episode, his cartoon doppelganger announced his cheerful receptivity to fan interruption.
-- Stephen Foulard
THE AGONY AND THE ARGUMENT
Re: Professor Kenneth Miller's letter (under "Courant Affairs") in Reader Mail's The Agony of Victory:
"Miller is both one of the [evolution] science's most clever and tireless defenders, and a practicing Roman Catholic. His religion gives him, as another veteran of the evolutionary war observed, 'strong propaganda value.''
The primary problem with Professor Miller and his fellow "evolutionary warriors" is that they contend that Darwin's theory is scientific fact and beyond speculation or discussion. Despite another fact that there is yet to be found any link between man and the other primates establishing an evolutionary bridge, these warriors persist in their stand. That many of them are supposed fervent parishioners of the Roman Catholic faith is not surprising. Catholicism has many ways for its followers to partition God out of their lives. The use of the mother of Jesus as a barrier between humanity and the father is merely one of them. With this centuries old pattern established, it is no far jump to remove God from man's design.
Frankly, I see little to worry about "Intelligent Design" having any strength as an evangelical influence. By simply acknowledging that some vast intelligence of unknown origin and unknowable differentiation may have had a hand in the creation of life is not going to much in leading anyone to the alter. The argument is so diffuse it is laughable. That is unless one's true religion is Darwinism.
-- Robert Lee Beers
Las Vegas, Nevada
Re: The Prowler's Taking Charge:
"At some point the American people are going to start seeing some results and they are going to be asking why they hadn't been hearing about it all before."
It is hard to hear any good news from Iraq when about 90% of the news is coming from liberals that don't want anything good to happen and when it does to keep it quiet.
-- Elaine Kyle
In her recent letter responding to your November 22 article by George Neumayr, Mary Ann Whitonis gave us a perfect example of what may be the left's most bizarre paradox.
On one hand, she displays a frothing paranoia regarding the danger of failing to keep church and state completely separate ("The separation of church and state is essential so that we can efficiently hold our leaders feet to the fire... Have any of you hard right-wingers ever heard of a few little things like the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades?"); while on the other hand she will bleat incoherently to insist that we must remove the leader who is trying to stop a horde of true fanatics from plotting and practicing acts of violence designed to install a worldwide government that would be based on a fundamentalist religion ("...what should be this current president's punishment... having lied about our intelligence pre-war, and having caused the deaths of thousands of people.").
Ms. Whitonis, the 1960s-70s are (mercifully) long gone. Put away the anti-establishment paranoia and the worn out rhetoric that you use in your attempt to portray Mr. Bush as the root of all evil (as was done with Nixon). Then wake up to the fact that Islamic terrorists would continue to attack us even if we left Iraq this afternoon and gave in to all of their other demands. Horrible as it is, we have to hit them first if we hope to contain them and preserve your precious separation of church and state.
Oh and by the way, Ms. Whitonis, since when did you ever previously get your Birkenstocks in a bundle over a president who could be characterized as, "one of the biggest tax and spend liberal spenders in American Presidential history"?
RESCUED FROM THE BOX OFFICE
Re: James Bowman's review of Pride and Prejudice:
Your review of Pride and Prejudice is just brilliant. As usual, you've gone right to the heart of the matter. More importantly, you saved Jill and me from going to see this wretched version of a story we love. (An earlier BBC production -- not the famous one with Colin Firth, but the one before that -- was terrific.)
Have you ever seen, or written about, the BBC version of Persuasion that stars Chiaran Hinds and Amada Root? We think that's about the best Jane Austen adoption we've ever seen.
All best, and thanks again for writing such a wonderful essay.
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