Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

Breaking news: Saddam is hanged!

This is from Fox News:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein, the shotgun-waving dictator who ruled Iraq with a remorseless brutality for a quarter-century, was taken to the gallows and executed Saturday, Iraqi state-run television reported.

It was a grim end for the 69-year-old leader who had vexed three U.S. presidents. Despite his ouster, Washington, its allies and the new Iraqi leaders remain mired in a fight to quell a stubborn insurgency by Saddam loyalists and a vicious sectarian conflict.

Also hanged were Saddam’s half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court. State-run Iraqiya television news announcer said “criminal Saddam was hanged to death and the execution started with criminal Saddam then Barzan then Awad al-Bandar.”
The hanging of Saddam, who was ruthless in ordering executions of his opponents, will keep other Iraqis from pursuing justice against the ousted leader.

At his death, he was in the midst of a second trial, charged with genocide and other crimes for a 1987-88 military crackdown that killed an estimated 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq. Experts said the trial of his co-defendants was likely to continue despite his execution.

May he rot in hell.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Creedal nation

My friend George Mellinger, a. k. a. Rurik, of Old War Dogs wrote a commentary on the idea to recruit foreigners into our Armed Forces. The idea itself is a brain-dead idea, in my opinion. While there is nothing wrong with future Americans serving in the military, the key is that those serving in the Armed Forces should consider themselves Americans, even if they haven’t gone through the formal process of naturalization yet. Just planting un-assimilated foreigners into the military is a bad idea. There will always be a question of loyalty. There were Germans serving in the French Foreign Legion when the World War 2 started. I always wondered what they did once the shooting started. So, I agree with George that going “French” and creating our own “Legion Etrangere” is a bad idea. However, there is something George brings up in his argument that I disagree with:

…To these folks America is not a country; it is an idea. A very abstract idea. And if the actual people are hesitant to swallow this idea, then, in the words of the Stalinist playwright Berthold Brecht, maybe we should elect a different people. We are a “creedal nation”, defined not by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, or any thing else save an “idea”. And they wish to proceed creedal to the metal. Their idea is based on a fragment of the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, lifted out of context, though not an actual part of out Constitution or laws, cemented to the words of an immigrant poet Emma Lazarus, which were not given any official status either. For them America is a global boarding house, with as few social rules as possible, where the actions of the tenants are not to be judged, so long as they bend their knee to global equality, and personal interchangeability, and do not interfere with production. The people are valued not as individuals, or even as distinct groups – Vietnamese-Americans, or Hillbillies, or Scandie farmers, or Black Jazz singers, Cowboys, or anything else; just as economic production-consumption units. This is ominous. When Jack Kemp described the United States as the world’s first creedal nation, he was dead wrong, as evidenced by the recurring fundamental disagreements culminating in a civil war, and the many years of reconstruction and continued disagreement afterward. We became (if at all) a creedal nation only during the 1920s-1930s, under the influence of Carl Sandburg’s mythologized Lincoln, and FDR’s politicking. The first nation created explicitly on the basis of an abstract idea, a creed, was the Soviet Union, created at the beginning of the 1920s as the world’s First Proletarian Nation.

And this suggests the fundamental problem with creedal nations. A Frenchman or Italian may be a Communist or a Social Democrat, or a Conservative, a Christian or Atheist, and still remain a Frenchman or Italian. An individual may immigrate, and become a citizen of France, but to become a Frenchman requires maybe a generation or two of acculturation and assimilation. The same for other nations defined by ethnicity or culture. But in a creedal nation, if you disavow the creed, you disavow the nation. Lenin solved this problem in Russia by eliminating all those who would not, or could not, be proletarian Marxists. Though American dissenters are not yet shot (except Vickie Weaver and David Koresh), they are often harassed. A major reason is that the US Armed Forces still retain a tie to the American people, even if it is becoming attenuated. American soldiers may feel alienated from the assorted anti-military protesters and the civilians who do not serve, but they still recognize their brothers and cousins and neighbors. At the very least they can exchange understandable curses. They do not shoot fellow Americans; the brief exception at Kent State in 1970 occurred under exceptional circumstances where semi-trained National Guardsmen felt themselves threatened by a mob.

I happen to think that United States of America is an idea first and foremost, but not in the way George criticizes it. There are two possible kinds of nations: ethnic-based and values- or ideas-based. We are obviously not an ethnic-based nation. What bonds us together is the common set of values, or ideas. There is another important component that bonds us together: American culture and language. A nation cannot exist without either component. Thus, there are most definitely social rules for joining this American club. In order to join, one has to adopt American values, culture and language as one’s own. Those disavowing either component are not Americans, even if they hold American passports. Indeed, they often don’t even consider themselves Americans. They should be striped of their Citizenship and deported, as far as I am concerned, but that is another discussion all together. The comparison to the Soviet Union is flawed because the Soviet Union was never a country of immigrants. It was created out of Russian Empire, which was ethnic-based and where the Russian ethnicity dominated over everybody else. By “dominated” I don’t necessarily mean “oppressed”. But the Russian was the official language and Russian was the dominant culture. Under Communism it did not really change for the most part. They called the Russian language “language of international communication”, but it pretty much was the official language of the Soviet Union. Unlike in the United States, ethnic origin was kept track of: the 5th line in a Soviet passport stated whether its holder was a Russian, a Ukrainian, a Jew or anybody else. Thus, the Soviet people was never this unified assimilated mass as the American people is. The multi-cultural idiots are trying to re-create this Soviet situation, and, if they succeed, they will get the same disastrous results. But my point is that the Soviet Union was never a creedal nation, but an ethnic nation, even though it included multiple ethnicities. And, just like any other multi-ethnic ethnic nation (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia etc.), it dissolved. America, on the other hand, is a creedal nation. But as a nation it requires cultural and language components to survive. Thus, it seems that of three components required for a nation, ethnicity can be replaced by a common set of values. But common language and common culture still have to be maintained. And for that secure borders are still required, along with conditions that force the newcomers to assimilate. The bottom line, we are a creedal nation, defined not only by idea, but also by our language, our culture, our history, holidays, borders and everything else that defines a nation. Otherwise we would not be a nation.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

How to fight the Islamists: a lesson for us all

A couple of days ago I followed a link, either from Hot Air or from LGF, and found this article:

Why Ethiopia is Winning in Somalia
The keys to a surprising military campaign.

by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross for Pajamas Media
Edited by Richard Miniter

The startlingly rapid retreat of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), a Taliban-like group linked to Osama bin Laden, surprised military intelligence officers who less than a week ago were predicting a total route of Somalia’s secular transitional federal government.

The intensity of air strikes by Ethiopia, which has long been allied with the transitional government, has helped turn the tide. Ethiopia’s ground forces, already based in Somalia, have also played a critical role.

Ethiopia’s success was not inevitable: This past week an American military intelligence officer told Pajamas Media that the ICU “will overrun Baidoa,” where the transitional government has been headquartered, and that the only question was when Baidoa would fall. Pajamas Media spoke with the same officer yesterday. He is now optimistic about the Ethiopians’ chances, with one caveat: “Unless you kill the ICU, it will come back. My worry is they’ll drive the ICU out and it will come back in a couple of months.”

There may be lessons for the United States in Ethiopia’s success. Abdiweli Ali, an assistant professor at Niagara University who is in contact with transitional government military commanders on the ground, says that Ethiopia has less concern than the U.S. about civilian casualties. There is no reliable estimate of civilian deaths, but the number is believed to be in the hundreds. “We’re fighting wars with one hand tied behind our backs,” Professor Ali says. “In Iraq we’re trying to be nice, thinking we’ll give candy to people on the streets and they’ll love us. But people will understand later on if you just win now and provide them with security.”

A second lesson relates to the media. The Ethiopian government is generally less sensitive to media criticism than the U.S. government—and is likely to encounter far less criticism in the first place, since the press traditionally gives short shrift to coverage of Africa.

The American intelligence officer who earlier predicted the transitional government’s defeat tells Pajamas Media that there are two major reasons why both he and the ICU underestimated the Ethiopian military.

First, Ethiopia’s air power was decisive. Over the weekend, Ethiopian jets attacked several airports used by the ICU, and struck recruiting centers and other strategic targets in ICU-run towns. Professor Ali reports that the ICU’s shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons are unable to hit Ethiopia’s aircraft at high altitudes. While the ICU may have some surface-to-air missiles, these devices would be quite old—and complex Soviet weaponry tends to degrade.

But even more important than the fighter jets, the intelligence officer said, is Ethiopia’s use of Mi-24 Hind helicopter gun ships that can target the ICU’s ground forces. While the ICU might use rocket-propelled grenades against helicopters, as we saw in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident, thus far the ICU claims to have shot down a single Ethiopian helicopter.

Second, the military intelligence officer said that he underestimated Ethiopia’s willingness to commit to the fight against the ICU. “This campaign is far more far-sighted than we expected,” he said. “They didn’t just do this on the fly; they had to have been planning this for several weeks. This is a major commitment.”

So, there you have it, folks. Do read the whole thing. But the explanation for the Ethiopian success basically amounts to one thing: in order to win you have to fight with all you’ve got and not to be shy about it.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saddam is about to meet his maker

Saddam Hussein’s date with a hangman is close:

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Saddam Hussein’s date with death appears to be just hours away. The former president of Iraq will be hanged “within a matter of hours,” a Bush administration official told FOX News on Friday.

“The final meetings have taken places,” the official said, adding in Iraqis have requested Saddam be turned over to them. “The process is now in the final stage.”

Earlier, the Associated Press reported via a top Iraqi official that Saddam would be hanged before 10 p.m. ET Friday night (6 a.m. Saturday in Baghdad).

The official witnesses to the impending execution gathered Friday in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, and state television broadcast footage of his regime’s atrocities.

Saddam’s chief lawyer said the U.S. had turned over custody of the mass murderer to Iraqi officials, one of the last steps necessary before the execution. An Iraqi parliamentarian, Methal Al Aloser, backed up the lawyer’s claims. Al Aloser said not only had Saddam been handed over, but all papers and documents were finalized and the execution will be soon.

But Bush administration sources, apprised of Al Aloser’s remarks, reaffirmed that Saddam Hussein remains in U.S. custody.
Two State Department officials also told FOX News Saddam was still being held by Americans. “We are absolutely certain he has not been handed over,” one official said. The official said the handover might not happen for a few more hours — or possibly even for a few more days.

“There is no reason for delays,” said Munir Haddad, an Iraqi judge on the appeals court that reviewed Saddam’s case. He also said the execution will occur by Saturday.

Whatever his execution date might be, it must be pretty close. He is getting what he deserves. However, there are some unresolved issues (from the same Fox News report):

Iraq’s highest court on Tuesday rejected Saddam’s appeal against his conviction and death sentence for the killing of 148 Shiites in the northern city of Dujail in 1982. The court said the former dictator should be hanged within 30 days.

While Saddam’s death for the Dujail massacre appears imminent, he’s still facing trial for other atrocities. Saddam faces genocide charges related to a coordinated campaign that killed up to 100,000 Kurds, according to Human Rights Watch. During that campaign, Saddam used chemical weapons, which killed some 30,000 Iraqis and Iranians.

So, are we not going to see any trials for the rest of his crimes against humanity? I personally would prefer to try him for everything and then hang him. Why the rush? Are the Iraqis worried that with the new Congress coming to power in the new year we might abandon Iraq? Even with Saddam dead we should not abandon the place. I hope we won’t.

December 29, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment