Foreign Affairs Archives

March 14, 2002

Thanks, but no thanks

Reuters reports that the United States is going to be given back its seat on the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, after a one year absence. This brings up the key question of why we should care. A commission that includes among its members Libya, Syria, China, and the Sudan doesn't exactly carry a lot of moral authority when it comes to human rights. Other than sponsoring the infamous World Conference against Racism in Durban last year, which managed to conclude that (1) Western countries owe Africans lots of money and (2) Israel is evil, it's not clear exactly what the UNCHR has ever accomplished. They do issue an awful lot of reports, though. Did I mention that Western countries owe Africans lots of money?

September 11, 2003

Give Hate A Chance

A member of a mailing list I'm on forwarded an email written by a friend of his on September 12, 2001. The friend, who was mere blocks from the World Trade Center the day before, describes her feelings on hearing the impact of the planes, running in panic from the cloud of ash as the towers collapsed, and making her way home to the Upper West Side on foot. Good letter. Until she gets home:

My roommate and I went over to Bart's to watch television last night with him and his roommate. I could handle it by then. What I couldn't handle was watching that asshole who is calling himself our president try to lead this country.

Forget the touchy-feely "widespread sense of purpose" talk, David. Well, maybe it was true for most people, for however brief a moment. But here's a woman who less than 12 hours earlier, while literally running for her life, witnessed the death of thousands of people in the most brutal attack on the nation in its history. Yet, in her mind, the horror of that event pales in comparison to the reality of George Bush being president. Nice.

Mark Gauvreau Judge takes on this mindset in a sober article about the importance of hate:

But increasingly in our culture, the rule is, psychoanalyze the sinner and explain away the sin through socioeconomics - either that or it spills vats of hate on silly targets, like the president. We are in desperate need of the real thing, saved for an appropriate target.

On this and every September 11 - and every day in between - let's remember that the appropriate targets of our hate are the people who brought down those buildings, and more importantly, the people who given half a chance would not hesitate to do it again!

Funny, I Don't Feel Alone

As James Taranto puts it: "we would rather be alive and hated than dead and popular. If the rest of the world likes Americans only when we're dying, the rest of the world can go to hell."

I vastly prefer standing "alone" today withthe Brits, Aussies, and Poles - our true friends and allies - to having the entire world's sympathies on September 12, 2001.

September 23, 2003

Parlez vous doubletalk?

Yesterday, the New York Times ran an extended interview with French prez Jacques Chirac, primarily about his views on Iraq. Daniel Drezner shreds the inconsistencies in Chirac's comments, providing a handy little quiz which Chirac has flunked.

Drezner leaves out one other bizarre set of statements, though. The interview is filled with Chirac's comments about how Iraq needs its own sovereignty, as soon as possible if not sooner. Then he explains why:

A: No. It’s psychological; it is a political act, to tell the Iraqis. “Your destiny” is in your hands. Now we shall help, but you are responsible. You are not under the authority of a governor who is Christian and foreign. That’s a lot, isn’t it.”
Ah. He doesn't want someone who is "Christian and foreign." (He emphasizes this elsewhere in the interview.) So Iraqis running their own country is very important, right? Well, not exactly...
Q: And even help to eventually resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Do you share this vision of the invasion of Iraq as a new dynamic for this region, something positive and peaceful?

A: I’d like to think so, but frankly, I don’t believe so. I think it’s…

Q: Perhaps you think the opposite?

A: In fact, yes. This has been traumatic for this region and culture. [Duh. That was the idea. - DN] And I think it could have negative consequences. Let me use an example I often give to President Bush. We are told that Iraq will become democratic. Very well. This is a huge ambition. This democracy will take the form of elections. This is usually the case in other democracies. So naturally elections will as a rule give power to the majority. In Iraq the majority is Shiite. But are the Shiites in this analysis the real symbol of tomorrow’s democracy? It is not so obvious. So is possibly something a little shaky about this argument?

So, in short, Chirac embraces Iraqi "sovereignty" but not "responsibility" -- or is it "responsibility" but not "sovereignty"? -- and only as long as the people aren't actually sovereign.

It's impossible to read the interview as a whole without coming to the conclusion that, all claims to the contrary, the US and France do not share the same values. Yes, Chirac provides lip service to the idea that it's good that Saddam Hussein is gone -- but he doesn't sound very enthusiastic about it, and he sounds even less enthusiastic about Iraqi democracy. It seems that the ideal middle eastern state, to Chirac, is a kinder, gentler Arab dictatorship. Then you have the "symbolic" sovereignty without having to worry about the messy actual sovereignty.

November 17, 2003

Squander This!

IIt's rare to read an article one agrees with so completely. For me, this Time Magazine piece by Charles Krauthammer is one of them:

The world apparently likes the U.S. when it is on its knees. From that the Democrats deduce a foreign policy - remain on our knees, humble and supplicant, and enjoy the applause and "support" of the world.

This is not just degrading. It is a fool's bargain -- 3,000 dead for a day's worth of nice words and a few empty U.N. resolutions. The Democrats would forfeit American freedom of action and initiative in order to get back - what? Another nice French editorial? To be retracted as soon as the U.S. stops playing victim?

Sympathy is fine. But if we "squander" it when we go to war to avenge our dead and prevent the next crop of dead, then to hell with sympathy.

It's so perfect, I can't think of anything to add except the standard "read the whole thing." (Of course, you might already have, because it's Time Magazine's most-emailed article at the moment.)

November 20, 2003

Teach Your Children Well

The Guardian has printed 60 open letters to President Bush. As can be expected, some of the letter-writers are talking out their arse. Sneers "Mickey":

I would just like to say how much I hate you. You have done nothing positive in your whole time as president. You are the reason for the poverty in the Middle East. You have no idea what you are doing. You're killing loads of people, and that is not excluding your own nation too. There are still lots of very poor people in America, and they are getting poorer.

And "Richard Dawkins" commands from on high:

Go home. You aren't wanted here. You aren't wanted anywhere else either, but you may have been misunderinformed that Britain was the one place where you would be welcomified. Wrong. Well, presumably your best pal Tony welcomes you. But that's about it.

Mickey is only 12 years old, so while it's frightening how well he's been indoctrinated, we can forgive him for being young and impressionable. However, Richard claims to be a "Scientist". What's his excuse?

(Thanks to Harry's Place)

November 21, 2003

Hey Everyone, Look At Me!

So I was watching HardBall the other day, and there was an exchange that disgusted me, and captured the bankruptcy of certain segments of the anti-war left. Chris Matthews was discussing the possible British reaction to the then-upcoming Bush state visit to the United Kingdom, and he asked Labour Party MP Jeremy Corbyn about his opposition to the war. Corbyn denounced it repeatedly, but then felt compelled to add:

CORBYN: He doesn't publicly share that mission.

But I just want to go back slightly here. The arming of Iraq, the funding of Iraq, the support for Saddam Hussein and his internal coup in the Baath Party, where did all that come from in the late 1970s and '80s? I've been in Parliament since 1983 as a member of the British Parliament.

I was almost alone in condemning the gas attacks at Halabja in 1988.

There weren't hundreds of people demonstrating, like I was, outside the Iraqi Embassy at that time. I went to Northern Iraq in 1991. I saw the results of that. I am not a spokesperson or support in any way Saddam Hussein.

In other words, Corbyn wants to point out that just because he is vehemently anti-American and anti-Bush, he isn't pro-Saddam. And his evidence for this, the thing he's so proud of? He demonstrated outside the embassy. In short, ineffectual public displays are sufficient to demonstrate one's morality; actually taking steps to accomplish the goal, on the other hand, is completely wrong. I have no doubt that this Corbyn guy is anti-Saddam; that's not the issue here. The issue here is that his opposition to Saddam Hussein was apparently motivated not by a desire to help Saddam Hussein's victims, but to make him feel better about himself. He could pat himself on the back and say, "I demonstrated." That's all that really mattered to him. Whether he helped a single person was unimportant.

I know I'm beating a dead horse here, particularly since Saddam Hussein has about as much chance of making a comeback as Cop Rock does. But I think it's important to point out that the debate over Iraq was not, as some portrayed it, merely a debate over means. It was not a debate where both sides agreed upon what needed to be done, and disagreed only about how to achieve that goal. Rather, it was a debate between people who wanted to say something and people who wanted to do something. Members of the former group were motivated by a desire to improve their self-esteem; members of the latter group wanted to achieve a goal (for good or ill). It's a substantive difference.

January 23, 2004

What went wrong?

By now, I think it's pretty clear that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs just aren't living up to the hype. There's some scattered stuff out there in Iraq, but we're not going to find the smoking gun we all thought was there. No warehouse filled with cannisters of sarin, no laboratory churning out smallpox, no stockpile of fissile material waiting to be loaded into the missiles. There may be some programs, some spare parts, a lot of plans and blueprints -- but not much in the way of ready-to-go NBC weapons systems.

So did President Bush lie when he itemized the Iraqi programs for us? He definitely overstated his level of certainty, but did he lie? Did he know that Iraq didn't have these things, and pretend that Iraq did, for domestic advantage? Or if he didn't know the truth, why not? How incompetent could our intelligence agencies be?

The most comprehensive explanation of these issues I've seen is in this month's Atlantic Monthly; Ken Pollack the former Clinton administration official who strongly supported the war, discusses at great length what we knew and why. And he makes a compelling case that in fact, Bush did not lie, except perhaps in exaggerating the confidence we should have had in the information available to us. Rather, the errors were the result of reasonable, but incorrect, assumptions by intelligence agencies, combined with a simple lack of useful data and the knowledge that they had repeatedly underestimated Saddam Hussein's progress towards these programs in the past.

It's a long piece, but it's good. Go read it.

February 6, 2004

Bad terrorists. No dessert for you.

While surfing, I happened to run across this, from last November, illustrating precisely why it's hard to take humanitarian NGOs seriously. This one's a Human Rights Watch press release: Iraq: Targeting of Civilians by Insurgents Must Stop. Er, yes. Scolding terrorists -- via press release, no less -- generally works quite well.

I know, I know: on the scale of things to complain about, this one's pretty low down on the list. It just struck me as absurd when I saw this.

February 9, 2004

Why not?

I happened to flip past the bad movie The Siege on television on Sunday. The basic plot: Muslim terrorists. Denzel Washington's kinder, gentler, civil-liberties-friendly FBI vs. Bruce Willis's mean ol' U.S. Army. (With Annette Benning adding the requisite CIA intrigue.) Frankly, it wasn't a very good film, with a particularly muddled ending, but because the movie was from 1998 -- in other words, before 9/11 -- there's some added poignancy to the plot. In the movie, there are terrorist cells operating in New York. The first takes out a city bus, Hamaslike. The FBI goes to work investigating. Each time the FBI thinks they've accomplished something, a new attack takes place. A Broadway theater. Then a school. Finally, a car bomb takes out the federal building itself, wiping out FBI headquarters in New York and killing hundreds of people. Panic everywhere. The federal government has had enough, and declares martial law, and we get to the silly Hollywood confrontation between the defenders of the Constitution and the defenders of people-who-don't-want-to-be-blown-up.

But here's the question: when you watch the movie, there's an eerie familiarity to events. But that very familiarity prompts you to ask: why was it different? Why were there a series of attacks in the movie but not in real life? How come Al Qaeda never followed up on 9/11? In Iraq, or Israel, we see repeated terror attacks, just like in the movie. But in the United States in real life, we had 9/11 and then nothing. Why? If the goal was to scare us, to disrupt our lives, to cause us to tear up the Constitution (as Denzel Washington cleverly discovered in the movie), to get us to pull out of the Middle East, to start a clash of civilizations, then why not have repeat attacks? Wouldn't a few suicide bombings on city buses in New York have stuck an exclamation point on 9/11? So why didn't they?

Don't tell me it's because our law enforcement is that effective; nobody ever accused the Israelis of being slouches, and yet they're not perfect. It's obviously not due to a shortage of terrorists, as we can see from events around the world. So why only one attack? (Not that I'm rooting for another attack, mind you. I just don't get it. It just seems like, whatever Al Qaeda's specific goal, extra attacks would have helped immensely.)

February 10, 2004

Gulf of the Atlantic

We always hear talk about the United States being the only industrialized country that still believes in the death penalty. It's not actually true; what people mean is that we're the only Western industrialized country which does. This is often cited as an example of American barbarism compared to European civilization, though there's actually some doubt about how much this reflects actual European opinion versus that of European "elites." But as far as reflecting the opinion of these "elites," it actually understates the difference between the two continents. Swiss voters approved a referendum to enact tougher sentencing laws on violent criminals, requiring them to be given life imprisonment if two psychiatrists agree at conviction that they're incurably dangerous, unless and until scientific evidence later shows that they can be "cured."

Seems pretty modest -- it's not even true life imprisonment, after all -- but believe it or not, these reforms are characterized as "some of Europe's harshest laws on violent criminals and pedophiles." But what illustrates the true gap between European "elites" and the US is that even these reforms are too much for them:

Legal experts said that Switzerland would violate the European human rights convention if the proposals were strictly interpreted and the criminals concerned were not granted regular judicial review of their cases.
Apparently, in some circles in Europe, parole is considered a "human right." Are these people delusional?

The issue, apparently, is their different view of the criminal justice system:

Heinz Sutter, the head of the justice ministry's legal department, said he hoped that the sisters would agree to a broader interpretation of their proposals that would be in line with the government's plans for reform.

"The proposals are questionable from the point of view of human rights," he said. "They could lead to criminals not being released even if it can be proved that they are no longer dangerous through illness or age, for example."

(Gasp! Criminals might not be released even if they're not dangerous! Horrors!) They seem to view imprisonment as strictly preventative; the idea that the justice system is supposed to punish doesn't seem to occur to them. But apparently that's only true of European "elites"; average Europeans -- or at least Swiss -- have a different view.

February 13, 2004


The New York Times reports that interrogations of captured Iraqi generals has revealed how confused the Iraqi military was -- and Tim Blair reminds us of a minor reporting discrepancy by the English-speaking world's least competent journalist.

February 16, 2004

Attack Of The 50-Foot Rebels

"Aristide Protesters Grow in Size" - headline, Yahoo News.

[Editor's note: the AP changes its headlines frequently; for the headline Peter noted, see here or here.]

March 16, 2004

Share your milk and cookies, kids

Both Andrew Sullivan and David Bernstein link, disapprovingly, to a story quoting Romano Prodi, the head of the European commission, as saying, " 'It is clear that using force is not the answer to resolving the conflict with terrorists,' Prodi said." Both Sullivan and Bernstein are appalled (and rightly so) at the sentiment expressed by Prodi, but my sense is that they're both upset at the idea that Europeans can really believe that force isn't the answer.

But the rest of the message -- and granted that there may be translation issues (the story was published in La Stampa, in Italian) -- is worse, in my opinion. Note that Prodi speaks of "resolving" the "conflict." As if Al Qaeda and the U.S. were disputing responsibility for a fender-bender. How European. Can you imagine Bush -- or even Kerry -- talking about "resolving" the "conflict"? The U.S. goal is to win the conflict (or, rather, the war), not "resolve" it.

In other words, my complaint is less about the European inability to understand that violence is sometimes necessary -- though that's certainly a problem -- and more about the European lack of ambition. One gets the sense that the European attitude is that even if they believed force could defeat Al Qaeda, they would be opposed to employing it. That is, they would rather "resolve" the conflict than win it, even if they believed they could win it. And that, not the European blind spot on the usefulness of force, is the real problem. They want to compromise not because they believe they need to, but because they think compromise itself should be an end, rather than a means to an end.

Faith-based foreign policy

What's the difference between Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and an effective United Nations? There's evidence that the first two exist.

The New York Times can proclaim that the Spanish vote is a message to the Bush administration:

Mr. Zapatero now has an opportunity to use his new mandate to pressure Washington to seek U.N. help. The Bush administration has already learned it needs the United Nations.
Uh, yeah, whatever. What is it with liberals and the United Nations? I will concede that it would do the Iraqi rebuilding effort some good in terms of garnering European support if the United Nations were in charge in Iraq. And if that -- garnering European support -- were our goal, then the Times would be right to call for Bush to take note of that fact.

On the other hand, if our goal is actually to accomplish something in Iraq -- and I would suggest that it is -- then perhaps we need to stop fetishizing the "international community", and ask what good it can do. And its track record is quite poor, as this article about Bosnia demonstrates. A decade after the end of the Bosnian campaign, the country is still ethnically divided -- extensively:

MOSTAR, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Costly and redundant as it may seem, this city has two sets of nearly everything: hospitals, universities, primary schools, public transportation, even waste disposal services.

"Everything is duplicated because there are two peoples," explained Zoran Knezovic, the proud manager of the Zrinjski soccer team, made up almost entirely of ethnic Croats. Mostar also has another soccer team, Velez, which is mostly Muslim.

And it's being run as a dictatorship -- with the international community, not local leaders, as dictators.
Such criticism has been hard to deflect. Mostar's politicians, most of whom opposed the decrees, are elected, Bosnians and others point out, whereas Lord Ashdown is appointed — by foreigners.
Contrast that with the non-UN-run Iraq, where a multiethnic Iraqi governing council is in place, and plans are set to hand over power to an Iraqi government in the near future. Of course, Iraq has a long way to go, and we don't know how things will turn out. But at least it appears to be moving in the right direction -- while the UN bureaucracy in Bosnia appears to be doing what UN bureaucracies always appear to do: perpetuating itself by not solving anything.

March 22, 2004

We need to get the UN into Iraq

More evidence that the liberation of Iraq will never be successful without the United Nations:

PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro - Kosovo has declared a day of mourning for Monday, ordering flags to fly at half staff to grieve for the 28 people killed in ethnic Albanian mob violence directed at Serbs.


The attacks were the worst outbreak of violence since 1999, when a NATO air war ended a Serb crackdown on ethnic Albanians seeking independence. The war killed 10,000 ethnic people.

Kosovo has been an international protectorate since then, whose final status is to be decided by the United Nations (news - web sites). For now, it officially remains a part of Serbia-Montenegro, the successor state of Yugoslavia.

Why on earth does anybody -- this means you, Mr. New York Times -- think the United Nations can possibly assist the United States in building a new Iraq?

April 20, 2004

Clinton's Quagmire?

Jordanians killing Americans - in Kosovo?

[Lynn] Williams and Kim Bigley, 47, of Paducah, Ky., were shot and killed Saturday by a Jordanian UN police officer. Investigators still don't know what led to the shooting.

I hope they find out.

June 18, 2004

Beating a dead terrorist horse

Speaking of Iraq and Al Qaeda, I see the New York Times is still pushing the story that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta never met with Iraqi agents in Prague. At least they didn't have to invent a phony claim by Vaclav Havel this time to do so. They cite the 9/11 Commission's report this time. I'll let you be the judge on whether the Times' version:

But on Wednesday, the Sept. 11 commission said its investigation had found that the meeting never took place.
is an accurate rendition of the report's statement:
We have examined the allegation that Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague on April 9. Based on the evidence available—including investigation by Czech and U.S. authorities plus detainee reporting—we do not believe that such a meeting occurred.
But what I do know is that unless there's undisclosed classified information which backs it up, both versions of the claim are premature at best.

There are some facts which tend to support the claim that they met:

  1. A Czech intelligence source reported seeing Mohammed Atta meeting with Iraqi diplomat/operative Ahmed al-Ani.
  2. al-Ani's predecessor is known to have met with terrorists in Prague to target American interests.
  3. Atta previously traveled to Prague to meet with unknown people on urgent business, during which he attempted to avoid detection.
  4. Whoever al-Ani met with was described by him as a "Hamburg student."
  5. Atta was a Hamburg student.

Here's the list of facts cited by the Times and the commission which supposedly refute the theory:

  1. Atta was in Virginia 5 days before the meeting in Prague.
  2. Atta's telephone was in Florida during the time of the meeting in Prague and the surrounding days.
  3. Under interrogation, al-Ani (who is now in American custody) has denied meeting with Atta.
  4. The one report is uncorroborated.
  5. No record of Atta traveling to Prague at that time has been found.

It's not the strongest case for the meeting, certainly. Circumstantial evidence, and only a single source.

On the other hand, the case against is even weaker. That Atta was in Virginia five days earlier is about as relevant as what I had for lunch today. Who cares where he was five days earlier? Unless he was hitchhiking to get there, it wasn't going to take him five days to reach Prague, and there's no reason why he would have arrived early.

That Atta's phone was in Florida is a little meaningful, but hardly overly so. American cell phones generally do not work in Europe; he might well have left it in the US even had he travelled to Prague. And if he had, his co-conspirators may well have used it.

That al-Ani didn't admit to being part of one of the biggest atrocities in history? Since when do self-serving claims of innocence outweigh witness testimony?

The other two points are merely saying that the evidence isn't conclusive; it doesn't actually serve to refute the evidence. After all, we're sure that someone met with al-Ani. If it wasn't Atta, it was someone else. But the evidence that it was someone else is even weaker than the evidence it was Atta, since nobody has identified another person who fits. Obviously if there were travel records, corroborated eyewitness reports, etc., that pointed the finger at another person, we'd have heard about it by now. So in the absence of any other facts which haven't been presented, the strongest evidence is still for the claim that it was Mohammed Atta who met with Al-Ani.

October 8, 2004

Let's play twenty questions

Given that Friday night's debate is a "town hall" style debate where non-professionals get to question the candidates, I thought I'd come up with a list of questions that I would ask if I were in the audience. (The New York Times had the same thought, printing a list of questions from prominent pundits -- except that their liberal worldview led them to structure the two sets of questions as "Senator Kerry: aren't liberal policies great?" and "President Bush: aren't conservative policies bad?") So here are approximately twenty non-rhetorical questions for each candidate, in no particular order:

For Kerry

  1. Why do you keep saying that you can get more allies on board for the war in Iraq when there are only a couple who have the operational capability to pour resources into Iraq, and those have already said they aren't interested? Whether or not you do get allies on board, what is your plan for fixing the current situation in Iraq?
  2. Do you think the US is capable of taking on both Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously? If so, why do you call the former a "distraction" from the latter? If not, aren't you embarrassed over the size of the American military budget?
  3. How do you plan to reduce the deficit when your own proposals call for spending even more in new government programs than you propose to raise in new taxes?
  4. How do you explain your vote against the first Gulf War if you believe that a vote for the second Gulf War was necessary to give the president's threats credibility?
  5. Assume that the United States had not invaded Iraq. What would you have done, beyond the invasion of Afghanistan, to reduce or end the terrorist threat? "Work with allies" is not a sufficient answer; that's merely a tactic; I'm looking for you to explain your larger, big picture strategy.
  6. You once suggested that if the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, there would only be two or three thousand people who might need sanctuary from the North Vietnamese after their inevitable victory. Do you think that your massive underestimation of the cost to the Vietnamese of American withdrawal demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the threat American enemies pose?
  7. Assume the US hadn't invaded Iraq. What would have been your plan for maintaining the policy of containment when it was clear that our allies were unwilling to continue such a policy?
  8. Given the Democratic Party's stated commitment to treating people equally, why do you oppose gay marriage? How can you justify your support for racial preferences?
  9. If your plan for bilateral talks with North Korea proves fruitless, how will you contain and/or defeat them?
  10. Is there any area of the economy in which you believe government has no proper role?
  11. Is there any area of the economy or society in which you think states have a proper role but the federal government has no proper role?
  12. Can you identify one significant government regulatory or spending program that you would eliminate if you could?
  13. Other than the current guy, who do you think was the worst president the U.S. ever had, and why?
  14. What philosopher has had the biggest impact on your thinking, and why?
  15. It is likely that a Supreme Court justice will retire in the near future. Who are the two or three people on your short list of nominees to fill the first vacancy?
  16. Do you believe the second amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms? If so, why do you support "gun control"? If not, why do you read the second amendment so much more narrowly than you read the rest of the constitution?
  17. Do you call Bush's stem cell policy a "ban" because it sells better politically, or because you don't distinguish between lack of government subsidies and a ban?
  18. You endorsed the 9/11 commission's recommendations for reform of the intelligence community before you had even read them. Why?
  19. Do you believe that the best defense is a good offense? Or do you think that a defensive response to 9/11, such as enhancing port security, can be effective?
  20. What do you think the real reason was that the United States was attacked on 9/11?

For Bush

  1. How do you plan on reducing the deficit when you keep cutting taxes without corresponding cuts in spending -- when, in fact, you keep drastically increasing spending?
  2. Why was nobody fired over 9/11? Why was nobody fired over the mistaken Iraqi WMD predictions? Why has nobody been fired for any of the pre- or post-9/11 mistakes? Shouldn't there be some accountability?
  3. You keep saying that you provided as many troops as commanders on the ground asked for. Do you agree, even given the situation on the ground? If yes, how can you, given the situation on the ground? If not, why do you keep hiding behind that mantra, and why haven't you replaced the commanders that made these misjudgments?
  4. Other than training a new Iraqi police and military to keep law and order, do you have any plan for finishing up in Iraq? Or do we just have to hope that not too many Americans are killed before these forces are ready?
  5. Do you think the Iraqi WMD debacle has hurt American credibility in dealing with Iran?
  6. Do you believe Islamic terrorism is a serious domestic threat? If you do, why is the Justice Department waging war on medical marijuana, pornography, assisted suicide, and online gambling? How can people feel safe and confident in the government's ability to protect us domestically when you can't even catch the anthrax mailer?
  7. What's your plan for North Korea if your insistence on multilateral talks fails?
  8. Do you think global warming is (a) a hoax, (b) unproven, (c) real but not caused by human behavior, or (d) caused by human behavior?
  9. How can you justify signing McCain-Feingold when it provided for massive restrictions on political speech in violation of the first amendment?
  10. Can you identify one significant government regulatory or spending program that you plan to eliminate? Why didn't you eliminate this in your first four years, and why would anybody believe you're going to cut it now?
  11. How does it threaten the institution of marriage if gay marriage is allowed? If the institution of marriage is "sacred," shouldn't it be left to churches rather than the state?
  12. Assuming the United States succeeds in Iraq, what is the next step you plan to take?
  13. Who do you think was the worst president the U.S. ever had, and why?
  14. Not counting Jesus, what philospher has had the biggest impact on your thinking, and why?
  15. Why haven't you vetoed any spending bills?
  16. During the last campaign, you said you would nominate Supreme Court justices in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas. But although both Justices are conservatives who oppose judicial activism, they have some significant differences. Would you nominate someone closer to the conservative Scalia or the libertarian Thomas?
  17. Why are you putting such a low priority on programs such as Nunn-Lugar, which would reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation?
  18. Can you answer the question you failed to answer in your last press conference? What mistakes have you made? Trading Sammy Sosa doesn't count.
  19. Other than drilling in ANWR, how do you plan to reduce independence on Middle Eastern oil? Is nuclear energy part of your plan, and how do you propose to overcome NIMBYism and environmental objections if it is?
  20. You claim to be a "compassionate conservative," and yet you've presided over a massive increase in domestic spending and deficits, you've abandoned federalism, and you've flip-flopped on free trade. Other than your opposition to abortion and gay marriage, in what way do you think your policies conform to conservative ideas?

I could probably come up with more, given time, but I think that's more than sufficient. To both of my readers: free to add your own suggestions in the comments section...

October 29, 2004

Mea culpa

Oh well. I was convinced that Osama Bin Laden was dead. Apparently I was mistaken. I said that I'd believe it when I saw it, and I guess now that he has put out a new video, I've seen it.

Oh, well.

October surprise? Does Al Qaeda have to report this to the Federal Elections Commission as a corporate campaign contribution to John Kerry?

Hey, I just thought of something: the same time Yasser Arafat has "health problems" and has to be rushed away to the hospital, Osama Bin Laden appears. Coincidence? I think not. Has anybody seen these two people in the same place at the same time?

July 3, 2005

Murdered by pirates is good

Least compelling press release ever?

SOMALIA: PIRATES SEIZE TSUNAMI AID SHIP Armed men commandeered a ship carrying United Nations food aid to northeastern Somalia, the World Food Program said. The pirates forced their way on board the Semlow off the Somali coast, took the ship's 10 crew members hostage and took possession of 850 metric tons of rice that had been donated by Japan and Germany for tsunami victims in Somalia. "It is against international humanitarian law to hinder the passage of humanitarian assistance, and there is no justification for hijacking," the food agency said in a statement.
Yeah! That'll show those pirates!

"Oh, my gosh! It's against international humanitarian law? We'd better stop right away!"

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