VICTORY AT SEA
Re: The Washington Prowler’s Lincoln Landings:
I love the grandeur of a presidential speech given from the deck of a mighty aircraft carrier. It sounds like … victory.
— Samuel Keck
Indian Wells, CA
Re: David Hogberg’s No Repeat of 1992:
I am happy that Mr. Hogberg is optimistic about President Bush’s chances in 2004, but he failed to consider the one issue that has the potential for the same gut-level, re-election-killing reaction as torpedoed his dad’s re-election: Re-authorization of the “Brady Act.”
Rumblings from the White House suggest that President Bush wouldn’t be terribly concerned if the Brady Act were re-authorized. If he signs any such legislation, I’m afraid that he will lose enough folks who otherwise like him that he will be slinging hay in Texas full-time come 2005.
— Paul Wescott
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski’s WMD Backlash:
There are many good points in this article. But toward the end, Pleszczynski says, “Seizing on phantom WMD must give the left a nice sense of gotcha! But it will leave it clueless to the real reasons for the Iraq war…. …the U.S. is no longer willing to put up with those who caused it grief beforehand and then regarded the attacks of September 11 as their special victory.” He’s right about September 11, but it is also true that WMDs were a part of the real reason for war and remain a good reason to have gone to war, even if we don’t find any here — though I think we will find out more about Iraqi WMDs than we have.
We went to war because of Saddam’s established past patterns of seeking WMDs and of defying and deceiving inspectors who subsequently found WMDs and WMDs research especially thanks to defectors, and because he was once again defying and deceiving inspectors in violation of signed accords and UN mandates, not to mention because of his established past pattern of brutality, sadism, oppression, imperial ambition and expansionism, warmongering, WMD use, etc. A repeat perp in many ways, Saddam was a clear and growing threat. If Saddam could get away with that, then so could any despotism. Really, all of that was enough.
We never argued that we were going to war premised — premised, mind you — on the expectation of finding actual WMDs and WMDs research on a large scale — much less, all set up and ready to rumble, ready to attack the U.S. and other countries, in which case we might have hesitated, or taken a somewhat lengthier approach to the eliminating the danger. Now he is gone, and we are confronted with one less set of malignant synergies arising from the co-presence of various evil folks in the world. There is somewhat less mass-murder-breeding swamp to drain. But drain it we must, before it’s too late. We have no particular reason to think that, once the historical window of opportunity is shut, it will open again.
We couldn’t have kept our armed forces around Iraq forever waiting for Saddam or Qusay or Uday to slip. Even just one year would be a lot for us, the “hyperpower,” to handle. For Saddam and sons it would have been a matter of holding out during the, historically speaking, brief window of opportunity (a decade?) when the world’s “hyperpower” has the power to rein in WMDs proliferation without collateral mass horror. For technology keeps marching on. We already knew what Saddam & sons were. We got them before it was too late. Thanks to that action and the manner in which we performed it, we can more effectively discourage others.
Technology marches on. There is no sign of any abatement in the foreseeable future of the general ongoing and, in some ways, accelerating general development — in power, accessibility, miniaturization, deadly synergies, etc. — of technologies adaptable for mass destruction. In general, defensive security measures will not suffice to meet offensive threats. The Left will be in particularly weak position to argue against that point, having opposed “Star Wars” defenses as a destabilizing pipe dream for decades — and we’re not talking just about incoming missiles any more. To the extent that technological development drives geopolitical change, the human adventure has only begun. If we can’t meet the challenge of reckless/ambitious despotisms seeking or possessing WMDs, then what’s coming down the pike in the next decades will destroy us if we survive that far.
New York City
There will be no political problems with the missing WMDs unless our noble mission to democratize Iraq goes badly and the situation gets ugly. If that happens, WMDs will return to center stage as an issue of Words of Mass Deception about a lot of assumptions and those politically lethal WMDs can be easily be found by a Nexus search.
Invasion cheerleader Daniel Pipes already sees the hand writing on the wall for democracy in Iraq. He is suggesting with “trepidation” a “democratically inclined strong man” (a.k.a. dictator) to keep a lid on the natives for us as we slip out the back door. The WMD and the democracy rationale were great pre-invasion deal closers for the terminally naive. But the post-invasion reality is that previous attempts by the West at assuming the white man’s missionary burdens have had a notoriously bad ten-century track record.
— P.T. Garrett
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.’s Breakfast at the Carlyle:
Re: Silicon Valley Genius Entrepreneurs: Tom Wolfe’s comments about them apply to someone who would be hailed as one, had the Cold War gone on for a few more years, although he was in the supercomputer industry, whose roots are in the country’s heartland, from Iowa, up through Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin: Steve Chen, designer of the Cray X-MP supercomputer and president of Supercomputer Systems Inc., while it lasted.
— James Drake
Re: “A Knight’s Tale in Wlady’s Corner (scroll down to 4/22/03 entry):
I am astounded by Wlady Pleszczynski’s ode to Bobby Knight and his paranoid delusion that Knight’s ouster at Indiana University was due to “trumped up charges by the p.c. police”. Knight was, and is, a bully and a thug. Now I share many of Knight’s expressed values, and probably dislike many of the same people he does, but that does not change the fact that he is a bully and a thug. He is what he is.
I am only disappointed that it took so long for someone at Indiana to develop the spine to fire him.
— Glen Hoffing
AMERICA FIRST AND LAST
Those who think 2004 will be a rerun of 1992 (“It’s The Economic Growth, Stupid,” W. James Antle III, May 2) forget one major fact: There is virtually no chance that a third-party candidate will siphon votes from George W. Bush like Ross Perot did to W.’s dad 11 years ago. The reason is simple. Look at the third-party (or fourth-party, or whatever) candidates in the past three election cycles. There was Patrick J. Buchanan, of “Israel’s amen corner” fame; Perot, who claimed that the GOP was persecuting him; and Ralph Nader, who, being of Lebanese descent, has made Israel his sworn enemy.
All of these individuals have one thing in common: an abiding hatred of Jews. After 9/11, that is the political kiss of death, since both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are virulent anti-Semites. Why side with the enemy during a presidential election?
Back in 1944, the same thing occurred, as minor-party “America First” candidates found themselves rubbing elbows with the German-American Bund and other pro-Nazi groups. This, while our boys were hitting the beach at Normandy and taking fire from Hitler’s Wehrmacht.
It is telling that neither Buchanan nor Nader have announced; Perot hasn’t been heard from in years. “American First” ranters such as nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Chuck Harder and essayist Joseph Sobran have found themselves on the frayed edge of the political lunatic fringe.
The American polity, post-9/11, has relegated “America First,” and its 21st-century reincarnation, to the dustbin of history. That is as it should be. Our terrorist enemies know it; potential third-party candidates are finding out.
— Daniel K. Weir
Atlanta, GA 30309
W. James Antle III replies:
Mr. Weir appears to be correct on two points: There is no credible third-party challenger yet on the horizon with the ability to draw right-of-center votes away from President Bush; 9/11 has increased public support for an interventionist foreign policy.
But we shouldn’t underestimate the degree to which the election result is in Bush’s own hands. Exit polls and other data from 1992 disagree about the extent of Ross Perot’s damage to the first President Bush; I for one think it has been overstated. Pat Buchanan barely dented Republican vote totals in 2000 and yet still the election was painfully close. Bush has the advantage of national defense and homeland security; these are much bigger issues than they were in 1992. The remaining question is whether he will neutralize any Democratic advantage on the economy before it appears.
As for “America First,” this seems to be a slogan that will be taken up by some quarters of the left. Howard Dean is already warning us about what he sees as the inevitability of American military decline, Dennis Kucinich is reprising George McGovern’s “Come home, America” line and some in the Green Party are buzzing about nominating Cynthia McKinney for president.
Re: Enemy Central’s Among the Feather-Brained:
I’d like to point out a facet of the issue of anti-war celebrities that I haven’t seen discussed:
There isn’t any reason to think that celebrities as a group know any more or less than any other group of people about public issues. Celebrities, however, have a microphone and an audience which magnify any opinions the celebrities express, even if the microphone and audience aren’t there because of any expectation that they have anything meaningful to say about those issues. I think this is why people with whom the celebrities disagree react so severely to those opinions. The problem is made worse when the celebrity then claims that his right to have an opinion is being limited, that there is a “climate of fear,” etc. The fact is, these people enjoy a much greater right to express their opinions than most of the rest of us do.They should grow up and accept the fact that not everyone agrees with them and that some people will point that out.
In addition, celebrities are in a position to exploit public issues to get attention. This is where one can single out the Dixie Chicks for particular criticism. The Dixie Chicks made an anti-war, anti-Bush statement in front of a European audience where it was certain to play well. When their U.S. fans started complaining and boycotting their CDs, the Dixie Chicks apologized and started shedding tears. Now, the Dixie Chicks are a country music act; it should not have taken a lot of insight to realize that many of their fans are likely to disagree with an anti-war stance. They should have thought about that fact before they decided to speak out in public, not after. They succeeded only in making themselves look greedy. The fact that their next attempt to further the discussion was to undress for a magazine cover only confirms that this is mostly about attention and publicity for them, not any real concern about the war.
I submit that some issues are too important to be manipulated in this way, just to get publicity and attention. Although the Dixie Chicks certainly don’t deserve to receive death threats, as they apparently have, they certainly do deserve a lot of criticism, and your Enemy of the Week award.
— Charles Eldredge