June 21, 2006
The Man Who Makes Voinovich Cry
That big ol' meanie John Bolton, America's ambassador to the U.N., gave a refreshingly frank response today to North Korean demands to negotiate directly with the U.S. regarding Pyongyang's plans to test a ballistic missile:
You don't normally engage in conversations by threatening to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it's not a way to produce a conversation because if you acquiesce in aberrant behavior, you simply encourage the repetition of it, which we're obviously not going to do.
Somewhere, Sen. George Voinovich is crying.
June 07, 2006
"The March of Folly"
Yesterday marked the 62nd anniversary of the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler. On the shores of France, thousands of American and British troops were cut to pieces as the D-Day invasion commenced; but even more made it through. It would be nearly another year and thousands of more lives before the Allies crushed the Third Reich.
The consequences of the rise of Nazi Germany and the war to destroy it are staggering. The death toll estimates are nearly incomprehensible -- 21,000,000 civilians and 20,000,000 military personnel. The political aftermath was just as devastating. Eastern European nations were liberated of their Nazi overlords only to be enslaved again as Soviet puppets. The world was, in effect, divided in two; the Cold War was on and would rage for nearly 50 years.
And it was all the result of a single act of appeasement in 1938.
In that year, Hitler annexed Austria to Germany and made it known that his next target was the Sudetenland portion of Czechoslovakia. In an effort to stem Germany's aggression, English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, hat in hand, met with the Fuhrer in Munich in September. That meeting produced a "non-aggression" pact in which Hitler was given control of the Sudetenland in exchange for assurances that he wouldn't invade any other countries. Upon returning to England, Chamberlain declared that the Munich Non-Aggression Pact represented "peace in our time."
Six months later, Hitler invaded the rest of Czechoslovakia. Six months after that, he invaded Poland, prompting England to declare war on Germany. And by the time Hitler ventilated himself six years later, over 40,000,000 people had been killed.
Historians still debate whether the agreement to sacrifice the people of the Sudetenland to appease Hitler was demonstrative of Chamberlain's naivete or his cruelty.
But what's not debatable is that appeasement of tyrants is a hopeless and dangerous policy, and usually exacerbates the very behavior the appeaser is seeking to quell.
This is something President Bush has maintained throughout the War on Terror. He and other administration leaders have repeatedly said that negotiating or appeasing terrorists and their patrons is bad policy and that doing so merely encourages more attacks.
So it was something of shock to see this AP report yesterday:
A package of incentives presented Tuesday to Iran includes a provision for the United States to supply Tehran with some nuclear technology if it stops enriching uranium _ a major concession by Washington, diplomats said.
The offer was part of a series of rewards offered to Tehran by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, according to the diplomats, who were familiar with the proposals and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were disclosing confidential details of the offer.
This report, assuming it's true, is so stunning on so many levels that it's hard to decide where to begin to address it.
First, it's obviously a policy of appeasement and, just like Chamberlain's "pact" with Hitler, doomed to fail. Second, the Iranian theocracy has a long history of accepting diplomatic overtures from the United States only to sucker-punch us during the handshake. And third, this very policy was applied by the Clinton Administration to North Korea's pursuit of nukes; I griped about the results of that agreement in 2002:
And Clinton left little doubt which end of the political spectrum he prefers when, in what ranks as one of the strangest moments in presidential history, he publicly offered condolences for the 1994 death of North Korea's monstrously brutal Stalinist dictator, Kim Il-Sung. Clinton punctuated his condolences in a dangerous fashion: he moved to implement a mindnumbingly bad agreement negotiated in 1994 by That Simpleton Jimmy Carter several weeks before Kim arrived at the gates of Hell. As this New York Post editorial explains, the agreement provided that the U.S., South Korea and Japan "would build North Korea two modern 'light water' nuclear reactors" in exchange for Pyongyang halting its nuclear weapons program -- the idea being that a light water reactor would not yield weapons-grade plutonium.
Of course, North Korea agreed to the deal. And, of course, North Korea didn't abide by the deal. "It was a bad deal then and it's a worse deal now," the Post writes. "North Korea has not frozen its weapons programs. And it turns out that the modern reactors -- whose construction is due to start this week -- will produce weapons-grade plutonium anyway."
And here's the kicker: the United States continues to honor its side of the Carter-Kim agreement and is assisting North Korea, a charter member of the Axis of Evil, with the reactor construction! As the New York Post insists, President Bush should cancel this remnant of Bill Clinton's fetish for communists, and move to replace North Korea's deadly regime.
If it's true that the United States is going to give Iran, the world's top patron of terrorism, nuclear technology in exchange for a promise to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons, it's a sure bet that Iran will 1) promptly break the agreement and 2) acquire nuclear weapons more quickly than they otherwise would have.
Appeasement didn't work with Hitler. It didn't work with North Korea. And it won't work with Iran's mad mullahs. In fact, a policy of appeasement always achieves the opposite of the appeaser's goals.
In her book The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuchman examines instances of governments throughout history pursuing "policy contrary to self-interest" -- what she terms "folly."
Let's hope this AP report isn't accurate. But if it is, then President Bush has fallen in step with the long march of folly.
June 06, 2006
ALLIED EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you. In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.
Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is will trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.
But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of 1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats, in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men. The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.
— General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Order of the Day, June 6, 1944
We're here to mark that day in history when the Allied armies joined in battle to reclaim this continent to liberty. For four long years, much of Europe had been under a terrible shadow. Free nations had fallen, Jews cried out in the camps, millions cried out for liberation. Europe was enslaved, and the world prayed for its rescue.
Here in Normandy the rescue began. Here the Allies stood and fought against tyranny in a giant undertaking unparalleled in human history.
We stand on a lonely, windswept point on the northern shore of France. The air is soft, but 40 years ago at this moment, the air was dense with smoke and the cries of men, and the air was filled with the crack of rifle fire and the roar of cannon. At dawn, on the morning of the 6th of June, 1944, 225 Rangers jumped off the British landing craft and ran to the bottom of these cliffs ...
... Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.
These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war.
Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender's poem. You are men who in your "lives fought for life ... and left the vivid air signed with your honor."
You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One's country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it's the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.
All of you loved liberty. All of you were willing to fight tyranny, and you knew the people of your countries were behind you.
— President Ronald Reagan, commemorating the 40th Anniversay of D-Day at the U.S. Ranger Monument in Pointe du Hoc, France, June 6, 1984
June 02, 2006
Just a week or so after a substantial bloc of (alleged) Republicans betrayed their constituents by voting with nearly all the Democrats in the House to keep the ban on offshore drilling (the vote was 279-141), they went into Cover-Your-Ass mode.
The AP reports that by a vote of 225-201 on May 25, the House directed "the Interior Department to open oil leases on the coastal strip of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- an area of 1.5 million acres that is thought likely to hold about 11 billion barrels of recoverable oil."
Hold your applause.
Are we to believe in the week between their vote to prohibit offshore drilling and their vote authorizing ANWR drilling that members had an epiphany? That they finally realized that environmentalism is, by design, a cancer destroying our market-based economy?
The ANWR bill passed the House for two reasons. First, it was a hollow attempt by House Republicans to stem the political backlash from the offshore drilling vote. And second, the members know that the ANWR authorization bill doesn't have a popsicle's chance in Hades of passing the Democrat-controlled Senate. (Yes, I know, the Republicans are the Senate majority but the Democrats run the show there.)
I wonder how many of the 94 House Republicans who voted for the ban on offshore drilling were shameless enough a week later to vote for drilling in ANWR. I'll get back to you on that.
June 01, 2006
Tale of Two Emails
EMAIL 1: Since I'm on the Republican National Committee's email list, I routinely receive messages from them and, just as routinely, I ignore them. But last week, one message caught my attention. The email, written under the signature of RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, warned that if Democrats were in charge, gasoline prices would soar to $3.75 per gallon. A couple excerpts with emphasis added by yours truly:
Democrats have consistently stood in the way of lower energy prices for American families. Whether it's higher taxes, more regulation, blocking new exploration, or opposing the conservation measures in last year's energy bill, Democrats in control of Congress would mean higher prices at the pump . . .
. . . When it comes to gas prices, Americans have a choice between President Bush's four-point plan for lowering prices at the pump, or liberal Democrats who consistently choose higher taxes, more regulations, and more dependence on foreign oil over safe exploration within our borders
Apparently, Mehlman doesn't follow the news.
Or he's a hypocrite.
Because a few days before the RNC mass emailed this message, the Republican-majority House of Representatives voted to retain the ban on offshore oil and natural gas drilling, which includes the Outer Continental Shelf. (Oops, I forgot to mention one little fact: geologists estimate that the Outer Continental Shelf contains a supply of oil that rivals Saudi reserves. And there's a whole bunch -- that's a geological term -- of natural gas, too.)
So by this vote, House Republicans demonstrate that they too, to paraphrase Mehlman, favor "blocking new exploration" resulting in "more dependence on foreign oil over safe exploration within our borders."
The mind boggles.
If someone knows why Republican officeholders believe the key to reelection is acting like a goddamned Democrat, please email me.
EMAIL 2: In the many years I've been wasting time on the Internet, I've never received an email from any Democrat organization -- until today. In my inbox this morning was a mass emailing from Rahm Emanuel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campagin Committee (DCCC). (Now I know how Dracula feels when he sees a crucifix.) Anyhoo, take a Pepcid before reading this excerpt:
As Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), I'm writing you today to bring you on board with the campaign for a Democratic Congress at a pivotal moment. As the official campaign arm of the Democratic House Members of Congress, the DCCC is the only political committee in the country whose principal mission is to support Democratic House candidates every step of the way through this critical election year.
In short, the DCCC helps our party's candidates get elected so we can enact positive, progressive policies that benefit all Americans, not just a select few ...
This election, it will be Democrats who set the tone forcing Republicans to frantically spend millions of dollars to defend themselves. It will be Democrats who go on to Republican turf and make them fight for their political lives - and it's been because of supporters like you.
Supporters like me, eh? Maybe it was time for Mr. Emanuel and his League of Extraordinary Socialists to hear from this particular "supporter." My reply:
I don't appreciate receiving unsolicited email from a gaggle of traitorous Democrats. (Yes, that's correct, I'm questioning your patriotism -- and with good reason.) Remove my email address from your mailing list.
In less than two minutes, I received this one-word reply from the DCCC:
No refutation. No "How dare you?" No "You're an asshole!"
Just an innocuous "Done."
Apparently the folks at the DCCC aren't offended by the truth.
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