December 2003

What I want to know is how come a hard-left zealot got sent to Niger on a politically sensitive mission. His hard-left credentials were amply documented by Clifford D. May writing in NRO

It also would have been useful for the New York Times and others seeking Wilson’s words of wisdom to have provided a little background on him. For example:

He was an outspoken opponent of U.S. military intervention in Iraq.

He’s an “adjunct scholar” at the Middle East Institute — which advocates for Saudi interests. The March 1, 2002 issue of the Saudi government-weekly Ain-Al Yaqeen lists the MEI as an “Islamic research institutes supported by the Kingdom.”

He’s a vehement opponent of the Bush administration which, he wrote in the March 3, 2003 edition of the left-wing Nation magazine, has “imperial ambitions.” Under President Bush, he added, the world worries that “America has entered one of it periods of historical madness.”

He also wrote that “neoconservatives” have “a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party.” He said that “the new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our world view are implanted throughout the region, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme.”

He was recently the keynote speaker for the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, a far-left group that opposed not only the U.S. military intervention in Iraq but also the sanctions — and even the no-fly zones that protected hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds and Shias from being slaughtered by Saddam.

And consider this: Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Wilson did believe that Saddam had biological weapons of mass destruction. But he raised that possibility only to argue against toppling Saddam, warning ABC’s Dave Marash that if American troops were sent into Iraq, Saddam might “use a biological weapon in a battle that we might have. For example, if we’re taking Baghdad or we’re trying to take, in ground-to-ground, hand-to-hand combat.” He added that Saddam also might attempt to take revenge by unleashing “some sort of a biological assault on an American city, not unlike the anthrax, attacks that we had last year.”

In other words, Wilson is no disinterested career diplomat — he’s a pro-Saudi, leftist partisan with an ax to grind. And too many in the media are helping him and allies grind it.

Who selected him? Novak reports that his wife put forward his name. But who approved her suggestion? And she surely knew that someone of her husband’s ilk was the last person on Earth to be used for such a sensitive mission. But maybe that was the point.


According to our local outlet for news with a leftward slant, the Cleveland Plain Dealer

The former governor, whose state has a large dairy cow population, said the Bush administration failed to aggressively set up a system that would allow the government to quickly track the origins of the sick cow, quarantine other animals it came in contact with and assure the marketplace the rest of the meat supply is safe…Dean said such a system should have been set up quickly after the mad cow scare that devastated the British beef industry in the mid- to late- 1990s. The Bush administration still hadn’t determined the infected animal’s origins.

“This shows the complete lack of foresight by the Bush administration once again, ” Dean said. “This is something that easily could be predicted and was predicted.”

But Mr. Dean, wasn’t it the Clinton administration that should have put this system in place in the mid- to late- 1990s? You do know that Bush wasn’t president back then, don’t you? And what did Vermont do to protect itself from mad cow disease while you were governor? Perhaps that information is still locked away in your archives.

On a more serious note, it is worth looking at the procedures that are currently in place in the US and other countries, and how they might be improved. According to this report by a WP reporter

The Holstein cow was sent to the slaughterhouse on Dec 9. Because it was unable to move on its own and believed to be at higher risk for illnesses like BSE, tissue samples were taken after it was slaughtered. Officials did not say precisely why the cow was immobile — a so-called downer animal — but it could have been because of disease, old age or injuries. Scientists conducted routine tests for BSE on some 20,526 cattle in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2003.

A case could be made for removing “downer” animals from the food supply. From the same report

“We shouldn’t be using downer cows in our food supply at all,” said Karen Taylor Mitchell of the advocacy group Safe Tables Our Priority. “There is a USDA regulation about not using them for the school lunch program. Yet it is OK for the same children who are protected at school to go home and be served sick cows.”

A case could also be made for testing more animals, as is done in Europe. However, there have been hundreds of cases in Europe and just two in North America, so far. Testing for BSE has its own problems and is no panacea for stopping infected product from entering the food supply, either directly or via animal feed. See this WSJ report from Dec 18th, 2000 for more background. A tracking system is all very well but it may only be useful after you find BSE. It might well be better to allocate resources towards preventing BSE in the first place, by, for example, developing tests that work on live animals.

It seems that Dean has grasped at the news that officials were having trouble tracking the origin of the diseased animal and used that to blindly bash Bush. The American electorate will see through that, especially in the blue states.

I’ve recently discovered Belmont Club. I gather the blogger is a Phillipino relocated to Australia. I may be mistaken in this. But Belmont Club rivals, and sometimes surpasses, Steven den Beste in his analysis of the world situation. I can pick out brilliant lines that encapsulate a wealth of analysis and out-of-the-box thinking. Consider these examples plucked almost at random:

In hindsight, the UN succeeded admirably at the task of doing nothing.

There we have it. The UN exists to do nothing, except, perhaps, to create the illusion that there is a community of nations working for the common good. If they could but speak, the victims of genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda could confirm the illusory nature of that presumed good.

The arrest of Manuel Noriega, the intervention in Haiti, People Power in the Philippines, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the failure of attempts to restore Bolshevism in Russia, the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Europe, the expulsion of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in Desert Storm and the toppling of Slobodan Milosevic occurred under the vast shadow of American power Even when events were not directly caused by US power, they played out in an atmosphere where American power could appear at any moment.

Precisely what spooked Muammer Qaddafi.

Although they will not be present, the United Nations, France, Germany and to a certain extent, the past leaders of United States will share the dock with him [Saddam]. For no one will credit that this miserable wreck, this shell of a man could have been responsible for all that he will be charged with. He will seem too small for that. Yet not so. The magnificence of nations often conceals the smallness of their acts; and from their petty corruptions and idiocies this tapestry of tragedy has been woven.

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace
from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.

Anyone who can quote Shakespeare to such good effect understands the human condition. Saddam and Macbeth – two men who would commit any evil in the quest for power and lose it all when good men finally resisted. At least Macbeth went down fighting.

Can Tom Friedman compete with this blogger?

Here’s Friedman.

George Bush and Tony Blair were stretching the truth in order to risk their own political careers to get rid of a really terrible dictator. And Jacques Chirac was stretching the truth to advance his own political career by protecting a really terrible dictator.

That sounds neat but one can see immediately that Friedman has bought into the conventional liberal wisdom that Saddam had no WMD. But this is still an unknown. The spiderhole that concealed Saddam could have just as easily concealed vials of Anthrax or supplies of VX. More to the point, David Kay has already discovered evidence of weapons programs designed to produce such agents at short notice.

In his next column, Friedman bemoans the security precautions adopted by US embassies in Middle Eastern countries. Apparently, it makes the US less approachable.

The U.S. Consulate used to be in the heart of the city, where it was easy for Turks to pop in for a visa or to use the library. For security reasons, though, it was recently moved 45 minutes away to the outskirts of Istanbul, on a bluff overlooking the Bosporus — surrounded by a tall wall.

Well, one only has to consider what happened to the Brits in Istanbul and the American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam to understand the US approach. Friedman then quotes an anonymous diplomat to make his point:

As one U.S. diplomat in Europe put it to me, “The upside is that we are more secure, the downside is you lose the human contact and it makes it way harder to have interactions with people who are not part of the elite. It makes my job less fun. [Some days] you might as well be in Cleveland, looking at the world through a bulletproof plate glass window.”

In that part of the world, human contact often means the flesh of a suicide bomber spreading itself over a swathe of victims at supersonic speeds. That’s certainly the sort of human contact to be avoided. But all is revealed in the italicized note at the end of the online copy of his column:

Maureen Dowd is on vacation.

The Second Circuit in New York ruled that the Government must release Jose Padilla, the alleged radiological bomber recently returned from his Al Qaeda training course. Their reasoning defies common sense and surely stands as an example of judicial asininity. In a court house only a few blocks removed from ground zero, the 2-1 majority declared that the US is not a “zone of combat”. One wonders if the detonation of a radiological truck bomb outside their court house would change their minds.

The court also decided that Congressional resolution of September 18th, 2001 that directed the President “to use all necessary and appropriate force . . . in order to prevent any future acts of terrorism against the United States” did not give the Commander in Chief the power to detain enemy combatants indefinitely. Worse, the court decided that the President may not detain Americans as enemy combatants. But becoming an American is trivially easy and Al Qaeda and related Islamic terrorist groups have had no difficulty recruiting American citizens to their cause. The Second Circuit has given the enemy a huge advantage by putting their American recruits off limits.

The 9th Circuit ruling goes even further. They have ruled that the Guantanamo Bay detainees should be given lawyers and access to Federal courts, even though none of them are US citizens and most of them were taken captive in combat zones. That ruling, like many other asinine 9th Circuit rulings, is likely to be overturned.

See this Opinion Journal (registration required) article that shreds both rulings.

Come election time let us remember who appointed the judges that have joined the war against the war on terror. And let us also remember which party is blocking the appointment of well-qualified conservative judges, men and women who would never make such liberal-loony rulings.

This Opinion Journal piece is so good at explaining why the Democrat’s current anti-Bush strategy is unpatriotic that it must be read far and wide. The head and subhead are all I need to quote.

The Campaign of Hate and Fear
Some of my fellow Democrats are unpatriotic.

Bush needs China’s help if he is to succeed in stopping North Korea from building and selling nuclear arms and technology to terrorist sponsoring nations. Of course, China can’t be too happy about a nuclear armed NK. A regime that tests its ballistic missiles by firing them over Japan could well start a nuclear arms race in that region. Nuclear-armed SK, Japan, and even Taiwan, would not serve China’s strategic goals. But China has not yet put enough pressure on NK.

When China did a little recent saber-rattling over Taiwan’s intention to hold a referendum on independence, Bush reprimanded Taiwan for threatening the status quo. But this was more about face than reality.

Most people, including the Chinese public, believe Taiwan would be overmatched if China launched an invasion. But China has less chance of a successful invasion of Taiwan than Nazi Germany had of successfully invading Britain in WW2, as Steven Den Beste points out in this analysis. The status quo is thus a military stand-off. Taiwan is too well armed and defended for a sea-borne invasion to succeed and threatening to do so is just so much hot air.

Because their is no chance of the actual status quo being upset, Bush can afford to give the Chinese a little political cover in exchange for progress on NK.

Steven Den Beste reacts somewhat negatively to the idea that France, Germany and Russia should be allowed to bid on Iraq contracts.

All correct and in line with US public opinion. But the administration should go one step further.

In concert with the new Iraqi government, the administration should repudiate all debts owed by Saddam’s regime. That would send a strong message to those governments that support genocidal and terrorist sponsoring regimes with loans and other financial rewards: be prepared to lose your investment when those regimes fall.

It should come as no surprise that France, Germany and Russia bankrolled Saddam’s odious regime.

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