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Thursday, June 29, 2006

New World Order 

The invaluable Wretchard at Belmont Club offers some insight in this post about "international law" and those who believe it's the solution to all the world's problems. I generally agree with what he has to say.

This probably qualifies me as a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal (apologies to those guys in the GEICO commercials) but, because nation-states are sovereign entities, all "international law" relies on the willingness of those entities to comply with it. It is totally a creature of treaties, and as we note in the cases of Iran and North Korea, among others, nations can, and do (a) breach treaty provisions, and, (b) withdraw from treaties, whenever they deem it in their interests to do so. In most cases, there are no, or immaterial, consequences to them for doing so. Consequently, "international law" has only so much meaning as nation-states are willing to grant it.

The United States is one of the relatively few countries that actually tries to comply with all the terms of the treaties it signs, primarily because of the weight that our own Constitution (Art. VI) gives to them. It is because treaties become the law of the land that the Constitution (Article II, Sec. 2) requires ratification by two thirds of the Senators present. Accordingly, the United States has historically been circumspect about entering into treaties.

Today there are people in the United States (including, apparently, some on the Supreme Court) who advocate looking to "international law" for guidance in interpreting US laws, and even the Constitution. I think this is folly, and ultimately suicidal for our society. I think that any Supreme Court justice who bows to "international law" in interpreting the Constitution and domestic laws of the United States should be subject to impeachment for violating Article II of the Constitution.

Following "international law" that does not arise from a treaty that the United States has duly entered into and ratified is, to my thinking, not only unconstitutional, but extremely dangerous, because the people of the United States (and, frankly, the people of most other countries) cannot vote for the internationalists who advocate and promulgate such "laws," and those who interpret such "laws" are not politically beholden to anyone. One need only look at history to see that people in power who have no politically accountability invariably become despots.

Is that what we really want?

UPDATE: This was posted before SCOTUS released their decision in Hamdan today. I am appalled that five justices found that the terrorists detained at Guantanamo are entitled to Geneva Convention treatment, even though they do not belong to any nation-state, much less one that is a signatory to the Convention, and laugh derisively at the Geneva principles with respect to hostages they take (I guess beheading isn't explicitly mentioned in the Convention). Congress must act, and promptly, to resolve the open issues that the Hamdan decision has created.

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New "Thought" 

Please note the new quote to the left, by Captain Ed Morrissey, of Captain's Quarters Blog. Captain's Quarters is on the list of blogs that I visit more than once a day, and whether you agree or disagree with what he has to say, he is always insightful, logical and articulate.

The quotes in "Thoughts" are pithy comments and observations that I run across while reading blogs, newspapers and magazines, which I think offer insight on how to view the world around us and make sense out of what is happening in it.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Diplomacy at Work 

Ayatollah to U.S.: Drop dead!

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Has the NYT Jumped the Shark? 

Infamously, last Friday the New York Times ran an article (and the LA Times ran a similar piece) exposing the government's program of monitoring certain international banking transactions, conducted in an effort to interdict the financing of terrorist activities. I haven't blogged about it until now because it has me so outraged that I find it difficult to think clearly about the matter.

To me, the primary issue is not so much disclosing national security secrets to the enemy, although that's bad enough. What really fries my eggs is the incredible arrogance that the NYT and LAT and their senior management and editors exhibit by appointing themselves the supreme arbiter of what should and should not be disclosed. Um, excuse me, guys, but isn't that why we elect a president and members of congress? Much smarter and more knowledgable people than I apparently have similar thoughts.

I don't subscribe to either rag, so I can't protest by cancelling my subscription; and I feel that writing a letter to the editor will have the same effect as yelling at Niagara Falls to stop flowing. I mean, after all, if Pinch and Bill and Eric and James and their equivalents at the LAT won't listen to the administration's pleas not to run the story, why would they listen to a mere citizen from the hinterlands? (As reference, in that famous Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover from March 1976, I'm located about as far toward the upper left corner as you can get before hitting the Pacific or Mexico.)

Those guys really need to have their chain jerked. What I would like to see, but probably won't, is a sharp dropoff of advertising in both the NYT and the LAT. If patriotic businesses were to spend their advertising budgets in any medium but those two publications, I think there's a possibility that it might engender some changes. They are, after all, businesses, and must earn a profit to remain viable. And it's not like either paper is the only place to advertise in their primary markets.

In the meantime, I really really hope that the Attorney General investigates this matter and prosecutes to the fullest anyone who has committed a crime by illegally disclosing or publishing national security secrets. (As an aside, it seems to me the Pinch and Bill crowd must feel pretty comfortable that they won't be subjected to the same kind of treatment that the creators and publishers of certain cartoons have experienced as a result of, er, public displeasure.)

UPDATE: Tom Maguire analyzes Times Editor Bill Keller's "explanation" of why he ran the story.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Negotiating With Tyrants 

Now that my almost-teenager is out of school for the summer, I have many more opportunities to interact with her on such important issues as waking up, cleaning room, doing household chores and the like. It strikes me that her negotiating tactics are very similar to those used by Iran and North Korea, e.g., change the subject, create a distraction, agree and don't perform, agree and perform, but do a lousy job.

Maybe we could make more headway with the two remaining members of the Axis of Evil by treating them like eighth-graders, instead of rational nations. Maybe we're consulting the wrong people on how to deal with them--instead of the analysts and diplomats at the State Department and foreign ministries of our allies, perhaps we should be consulting with people who understand how to deal with the middle school mentality.

John Rosemond, how'd you like a new gig?

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Rep. Murtha? Anybody home? 

I missed seeing Rep. Murtha on Meet the Press this weekend, but this morning I did read the transcript of his appearance (I have no idea why it's labeled June 11--maybe it's that famed lamestream media factchecking and editorial capability).

I don't doubt Rep. Murtha's patriotism, but I have to say, after reading his remarks, that I have grave doubts about his rationality. Take 10 minutes and read the transcript yourself, and form your own opinion.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Anti-War and Enviro 

Upon reading this item by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) got to thinking about how the arguments of the anti-war types like Sen. Feingold resemble those of the environmental movement. To wit: the solution to our problem is whatever isn't being tried.

Sen. Feingold and many others claim that the war in Iraq is not helping to solve the global terrorism problem but is instead exacerbating it. Sen. Feingold proposes that, instead of fighting terrorists in Iraq, we should develop "strong partnerships with countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Mali, focused not only on security assistance, but on the development of a strong rule of law, respect for human rights, and fighting corruption." Even if one agrees with Sen. Feingold, the devil, as always, is in the details--details that Sen. Feingold does not discuss.

Similarly, when the environmentalists condemn US energy policy, they find fault with oil, coal, hydro and nuclear power options, touting "renewable resources" such as wind, solar and biomass. But now that (for example) wind power is coming into relatively widespread use, we begin to hear how bad it is for the environment: it kills birds and flying bats; it destroys the esthetics of the area where it's installed; it interferes with television and radar signals; it creates noise pollution. I'm sure a similar transformation of attitude would occur if other alternative energy technologies were to come online in industrial-scale proportions. (This theme is explored in Peter Huber's Hard Green.)

So, forgive me if I'm skeptical about the sincerity of the antiwar and environmental crowds when they criticize current policy, and inevitably tout policies that they know are unavailable due to either technological or political infeasibility, or both. They are obviously much more interested in bashing those who are making the hard decisions than finding real solutions to the problems that face us.

Credit Best of the Web Today for the pointer to Sen. Feingold's piece.

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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Haditha Recap: Was it a setup? 

Clarice Feldman analyzes the evidence to date on the Haditha incident here.

One quote from Tim McGirk's March 27 story in Time jumped out at me. I've probably seen it before, but for whatever reason it didn't click until now.
Dr. Wahid, director of the local hospital in Haditha, who asked that his family name be withheld because, he says, he fears reprisals by U.S. troops, says the Marines brought 24 bodies to his hospital around midnight on Nov. 19. Dr. Wahid, director of the local hospital in Haditha, who asked that his family name be withheld because, he says, he fears reprisals by U.S. troops, says the Marines brought 24 bodies to his hospital around midnight on Nov. 19. Wahid says the Marines claimed the victims had been killed by shrapnel from the roadside bomb. "But it was obvious to us that there were no organs slashed by shrapnel," Wahid says. "The bullet wounds were very apparent. Most of the victims were shot in the chest and the head–from close range." (Emphasis mine.)
Now, focusing on just one element of that quote from McGirk's story, let's assume that Dr. Wahid (Walid?) is in fact the director of the local hospital where Marines took 24 (or whatever number) bodies on or about 19 Nov 05. Let's assume further that Haditha is in fact a haven for insurgents, and that the vast majority of the population is fervently anti-American, and won't help Americans in any way. How does it make sense that the Marines would not know, or could not easily discover, the identity of the director of the local hospital?

My B.S. detector alarm nearly deafened me when I read that the good doctor didn't want his family name published because "he fears reprisals from U.S. troops." He knows damn well that the U.S. forces could ID him in a heartbeat, and if reprisals were a legitimate concern, he'd never give another interview to anyone. If he really was concerned about reprisals, he would have gotten outta Dodge a long time ago.

The more I learn about Haditha the more I think it's likely that the whole thing was a frame-up, and the American lamestream media are verging on treason by reporting it uncritically.

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Chalk up one for the good guys! 

I awoke this morning to the best news I've heard in months. I only hope the bastard had a little time to realize that his death was imminent, and that the souls of his victims torment him for eternity in Hell.

That said, Maj. Gen. Caldwell stated in the press conference broadcast about 0600 Pacific that among the dead in the house were a woman and a child. I am sorry that the child had to die, but it illustrates the evil of Zarqawi and his ilk that they shield themselves with innocents. As to the woman, I grieve for her to the extent that she was present in the house against her will. If she was a supporter of the terrorists, then she deserved what she got just as much as Zarqawi.

Gen. Caldwell said that actionable intelligence gathered at the Baqouba site led to 17 raids that have been carried out in the last 20 hours against other terrorists in Baghdad and elsewhere. The dominoes are falling.

I expect that, after the shock of Zarqawi's death has worn off, there will be a flurry of terrorist activity in Iraq, to demonstrate that the terrorists are still potent. But Zarqawi was the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq for a reason--he knew how to use terror in the most effective way, and evidently was expert at motivating his forces. It will be difficult for the enemy to replace someone with so much operational experience and boldness. It is to be hoped that it in fact will be impossible to do so.

The long term value here is that a "high value" target has been eliminated and, contrary to the myths propagated by the lamestream media, there is not an infinite pool of talent from which al-Qaeda can draw its leaders. Those remaining must be concerned for their own safety, especially now that so much information has been gleaned at the Zarqawi site and undoubtedly from the other 17 raids. The bad guys haven't been rolled up, but I suspect that they're experiencing arterial bleeding.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hydrogen--Cheap and Plentiful? 

Check out this article.

Perhaps an example of how private enterprise almost always solves problems more efficiently--and quicker--than government programs.

Credit Instapundit for the pointer.

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More on Haditha 

This story from the Hawaii Reporter provides lots of background and analysis on the Haditha incident. It's the kind of thing I was beginning to do on my own, but due to lack of talent and training, I would have finished my effort several months after any trial of the Marines involved had ended. The piece is a must-read if you want to understand the Haditha incident in context.

Having read the Time account of the incident, I have to say that I have misgivings about the veracity of the witnesses and the video on which it is based. The Time reporter(s) seem to take every statement by the Iraqis at face value and every statement by the US military with a block of salt, except, of course, the unnamed inculpatory sources within the US military establishment.

Once more, I call upon the lamestream media and the opportunistic politicians (not to mention the unauthorized leakers in the Pentagon and elsewhere) to back off until the Marines have been charged and tried in a court martial. Once more, I say that we as a society are much too quick to think the worst of our own troops. Once more, I remind you that the Marines are entitled to the same presumption of innocence as anyone else under our system of government.


Credit Roger L. Simon for the pointer.

UPDATE: The indispensable Michael Yon adds another dimension to the discussion, here.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

There'll Always Be An England? 

Little Green Footballs points to this story: England afraid to fly its own flag.

Seems like today's Brits have more in common with Chamberlain than with Churchill. As Charles says, this is just sad.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Thoughts on Haditha 

Why are we as a society so quick to assume the worst about our own troops?

At this moment, only those who were there know what actually happened at Haditha, and their memory of the events may be flawed or biased. (cf. Rashomon) I certainly don't know what happened, but others, e.g., most of the lamestream media, Rep. Murtha and the Kos Kids are absolutely certain that the atrocities were committed by the Marines. Why?

We know that the followers of Zarqawi are brutal murderers who have butchered innocent civilians regularly over the past several years. They have demonstrated that killing women and children in furtherance of their agenda bothers them not one whit. We also know that Zarqawi and his ilk are masters at manipulating the lamestream media (which, by the way, are more than willing to push any story that damages America). Ergo, it is certainly not beyond possibility that the whole thing is a frameup to damage the public perceptions of the Marines and the United States in general, and weaken American public support for the war. At this point, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, how do we know that those civilians who were killed at Haditha were not murdered by the "insurgents" who had attacked our Marines? Even if the victims were shot by American weapons, that is not proof that the Marines committed the crime, as al-Qaeda certainly has taken weapons from dead Americans over the past 3 years.

I say, let the investigation run its course before we condemn our brave Marines. If after full investigation and a court martial they are found guilty of committing war crimes, then they should be punished as severely as their deeds deserve. But until then, the troops are entitled to the same presumption of innocence that we all expect in our justice system, and the Rep. Murthas of the world should refrain from aiding and abetting the enemy by publicly and prematurely announcing their guilt.

UPDATE: WELCOME, INSTAPUNDIT READERS! I'm honored to get a link from The Professor. I hope you are not disappointed. Feel free to look around my humble blog and to come back often (well, weekly or so) if you like what you see.

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