A New Can Of Worms
11 March 2003
More From Peters...
"I believe that perhaps our greatest advantage is a tradition that grew up over centuries, that we inherited from England. This is our tradition of openness to new information, of respect for empirical data, and of resistance to theoretical constructs other than those generated within the scientific community. Theoretical constructs did fantastic damage to Europe in the twentieth century, and much of the rest of the world lives in a fantasy land. They do not have our ingrained, hard-learned ability to separate fact from fiction. We have our myths, but we’re not paralyzed by them, and we question them. There are many ways you can divide the world, but I think one of the more useful ways is between factualizing societies and mythologizing societies. Listen to our enemies’ rhetoric. They’re in love with their myths of themselves, both old myths and relatively recent ones, and they’re myths of self-justification.
The other crucial American advantage is the fact that over the past 150 years American women have fought their way into the workplace and the educational system. This means that today America operates on a wartime basis every single day in terms of our utilization of human capital. Rosie the Riveter is in the boardroom, she’s on campus, she’s flying jets off carriers. The numbers aren’t hard to understand. This is grade-school math. Because of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, because of Susan B. Anthony—and the Pankhursts in England—the American economy is booming. Greenspan’s done a good job, but it was really the feminists who put us over the top.
Look at our tremendous openness to the utilization of human capital, the multiple revolutions that have occurred in our lifetimes and are still developing, the opening of our society to women, to minorities, to old people. Traditionally the role of old people in societies has been to consume resources, mind the kids, and die. Yes, they’re romanticized as imparting wisdom, but in fact they’re drooling in the soup. In America today they’re healthier and they’re active. My father-in-law is one of my heroes. A former marine, a Korean War vet, a workingman, he worked hard all his life, built a good life for himself and his family. His wife worked too. Now he’s formally retired, but he works with Habitat for Humanity, he drives a volunteer ambulance, and he still works part-time for his company when it needs him. He’s about 70 and still contributing. This is happening at a time when in Europe if you lose your job at age 50, you’re probably not going to get another one."
Interview with Military Intellectual Ralph Peters in American Heritage
Cover Story: “The Shah Always Falls” - February/March 2003. Peters points to what many political scientists said in the aftermath of the Cold War, that dictatorships are inherently unstable.
Here's Peters' take on it: "There are certainly times when we desire stability in international politics, but in the underdeveloped world an obsession with stability means preserving failure and worse. Overvaluing stability is a heritage of the Cold War, over the course of which we rationalized our support of some very cruel regimes and we deposed elected governments we didn’t like. You could justify it in terms of the greater struggle. But you can’t justify it now.
What I wrote was that the shah always falls in the end, Saddam always turns on you, and the Saudis always betray you. If we support evil, the long-term price is almost always too high. And now we don’t have to. Since 1989, or ’91, depending on how you want to date it, we’ve been the only superpower. We haven’t thought about what we’ve been doing."
If the French are reading IR textbooks, then Peters is reading Comparative Politics...
A Definite Press Theme is France's Drive to Balance the US
From David Frum's Diary on National Review Online: discussing a recent interview on French TV, " I was able to join yesterday in a French television program that pitted former French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine against a line-up of North American sparring partners. Vedrine too was in his own way highly impressive: poised, well-spoken, and beguilingly frank about his hostility to the United States....I couldn’t take notes during the conversation and the transcript is not yet posted to Nexis, if it ever will be, so I’ll have to recall Vedrine’s words from memory. I was struck by one thing above all – how little he talked about Iraq, the show’s purported subject. Neither Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction nor Saddam’s cruelty and tyranny interested Vedrine much. What fascinated him instead was the United States – and the need, as he repeatedly said, for the nations of the world to join together to contain and control it. In his press conference last week, President Bush described France as a “friend.” Vedrine spoke about the United States in the way that states more typically speak of their enemies."
This is right out of the International Relations textbook on Realism and Balance of Power Politics. What is amazing is that France has no real reason to seek to balance US power. They have benefitted immensley by the rise of the US in the Post World War II world. They want to upset the International applecart -- not on the basis or real or perceived interests or conflicts -- but instead some notion of French greatness. It's process over substance.
You can make the case that Russia could gain on its traditional southern frontiers with a weakened US in the Middle East, or you could make a realist case for China wanting to dent US Power, but France? To think that France would gain, or the EU for that matter, at the expense of the US instead of China is absurd. France is a middle power. They will continue to be a middle power regardless of US status in the World. It's time to end their obsession.
More From the Washington Post
The Washington Post editorial page has another clear headed editorial todayAre Inspections Working? (washingtonpost.com). This is something I began seeing while living in Washington after the 1994 Republican Revolution was consolidated -- a liberal but much more responsible Washington Post. The Post has very much become the Nation's paper of record in the last couple of years. Here's a sampling of their growing good sense:
"The answer to this reasonable-sounding question is not that the U.S. and British troops poised on Iraq's borders cannot be kept waiting, or that weather or some other factor dictates immediate action. In fact, if a delay of a few weeks, now being explored by Britain as part of a compromise formula for a new Security Council resolution, would serve to overcome the current rift in the council, or at least add to the international coalition confronting Iraq, then it would be worth the wait. But it's important to understand that any extension of the inspectors' mandate would only delay, not prevent, a conflict. That's because the three months of inspections so far have demonstrated what arms control experts have been saying all along: that without a strategic decision by Saddam Hussein to fully cooperate, it is not possible even to locate Iraq's most deadly weapons, much less ensure disarmament."
and on Hans Blix's conflicting goals...
"why do the inspectors sound so upbeat? Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei are international civil servants who are desperate to prove that agencies like theirs can be effective. Their reports to the council have been constructed as arguments for continued inspections, rather than as reports on Iraq's compliance. Mr. Blix has dodged repeated requests that he judge Iraq against the terms of Resolution 1441; instead, he has retailed indications of "progress" on such issues as interviews with scientists, which in turn are hailed by some as proof that the "inspections are working." Such discussions have a surreal quality, because they ignore the elephantine fact that Iraq has still not disclosed its weapons."
Army Continues to Resist Civilian Leadership
Great piece by Vernen Loeb in Tom Ricks in the W.Post todayFor Army, Fears of Postwar Strife (washingtonpost.com). A couple of points:
1. It seems the Army still has it in for the civilian leadership. Under President Clinton they could push the Administration around. Rumsfeld and Bush were both pilots in the military, they have far more standing on military affairs than the Clinton Administration. Wolfowitz has been around forever in Washington as Dean of John Hopkins -- he probably taught a lot officers at the Pentagon. The reason why I believe this more political than serirous is because no where in the article are the words "force protection," or the 1983 Beiruit bombings mentioned. In the end the Army is up to the task.
2. While there will be attempts to strike out against the Americans, and the civilian leadership is well aware of that, most Iraqis will act indifferent.
3. While everyone fears Iraq will split apart after Saddam is removed, I'm still not convinced. Sure 1991 changed everything there, but we should be aware that when push came to shove in the Iran-Iraq War the Shia's in Iraq backed their nation, not Iran.
10 March 2003
While War Looms, Washington Finds a Way to Somehow Carry On...
I'm heartwarmed to see that as the Nation sits on the precipice of war, that our brave and ever resourceful Congressmen are able to maintain business as usual. Travel by Lawmakers Scrutinized (washingtonpost.com) Here's the lead:
"Faced with limits on how much wining and dining they can do in Washington, interest groups are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to take lawmakers and aides on out-of-town excursions to deliver their pitches on legislation.
These trips, which frequently include dinner at elegant restaurants and visits to tourist sites, have become an integral part of lobbying for many organizations. Some watchdog groups question why lawmakers and staffers are allowed to accept what the House ethics committee describes as "among the most attractive and alluring gifts" they can receive."
Only a Moran Would Blame the Jews for Saddam
Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) blames jews for Saddam Husseins tyranny, his ignoring 17 UN Resolutions, his invasion of Iraq, etc. etc. The rally cry of the anti-war left has become "Blame the jews!" It turns the stomach:
Moran Said Jews Are Pushing War (washingtonpost.com)
Every bad idea to come down the pike in the last 30 years will be attempted by the Illinois General Assembly. Christi Parsons' piece Chicago Tribune | General Assembly takes turn to the left is just the tip of the iceberg. I live within blocks of the Statehouse and have been talking to state legislators from around Illinois. Hubristic is how I would describe the Dems and their minions.
They've screwed up CA, so Illinois is just about all they have. Everything and everybody will be here. Hot Rod, to save his own personal national ambitions, will have a tough time stopping all these bad ideas. Especially after his no income tax hike or sales tax hike pledges, which he has already kept longer (2 months) than the last 3 Republican governors.
One upside in the GA is that even with the Dems in complete control, ERA is having a rough ride. It isn't being called for a vote because proponents don't have the committed votes and their too timid to risk a vote unless it's a slam dunk.
Always keep in mind that Illinois is is a bellweather state. Many think that means Illinois is moderate state -- including the Republican establishment. And the Republican establishment will continue to lose until they figure out the difference. The center has moved to the Right in America.
Low Hanging Fruit
Hot Rod Blagojevich is taking aim at more lowhanging fruit at the State of Illinois in today's SJ-R.COM - Governor has plan to reduce drug costs
"Nine state agencies currently buy $1.8 billion worth of prescription drugs annually, with the Department of Public Aid responsible for $1.4 billion. Public Aid administers the Medicaid program, the state-federal health insurance for the poor and disabled."
By rolling up all these programs into one program managed by one agency, the Governor proposes the nine programs remain separate. It's too bad he doesn't go all the way
Does Prof. Donner think JFK was a tool of Rome?
Professor Fred Donner of the University of Chicago presents us with a particulary bigoted piece regarding Jews and dual loyalty in today's Chicago Tribune | OK, President Bush, what if . . . ?. I know Richard Perle and Doug Feith from my time at the Center for Security Policy. I know both supported the Bosnian Muslim cause during the Bush 41 and the Clinton Administrations -- much to the chagrin of both Presidents. Richard, in fact, negotiated on behalf of the Bosnians at Dayton. He did so at the behest of Richard Holbrooke, the then US Ambassador at large and former UN Ambassador. I know both Doug and Richard wanted Israel to step up and aid the Bosnian Muslims, as well.
These men have no antipathy toward Muslims, just tyrants like Saddam Hussein and Yassir Arafat. Professor Donner, it seems, does have some...
Opening a New Can of Worms
Today I open "A New Can of Worms." A place to go where I can vent and opine on a number of issues important to me that fall out of the Illinois Policy Institute's mission.