- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

The daisy ad
More evidence of desperation in the anti-war camp. Moveon.org, a liberal group that might just as well be called Denial.org, is disinterring the infamous daisy ad, originally run against Barry Goldwater in the 1964 campaign. This is the latest, tired gambit of a failing crusade. We've had the far-left Ramsey Clark America-Is-Evil tack. We've had the disingenuous "Win Without War" tack. Now we have the "If We Fight Saddam, It's Armageddon" tack. But isn't there a teensy danger that this could backfire? When Americans think of nuclear bombs going off in the United States these days, are they really thinking it will come about because of a Cold-War style superpower miscalculation? Or are they more likely to fear a terrorist dirty bomb? I'd say the latter. Which is why the ad deserves as much play as possible. Scared of weapons of mass destruction? Then disarm the most dangerous proprietors. Most Americans not on the hard left consider Saddam Hussein a good deal more dangerous than George W. Bush.
On the other hand
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's inspiring refusal to appease Saddam or to minimize the risk of terrorists with weapons of mass destruction is beginning to have a sobering effect on some parts of the British left. You only have to read the hyper-liberal Guardian newspaper to see how.
Here's one Brit, Martin Kettle, beginning to see the light: "Most serious people will probably accept, separately, these three grim propositions: first, that we face an undefeated terrorist force which will take any opportunity to kill as many of us as possible at any time; second, that Saddam's Iraq will develop any lethal weapons that it can and will use, or threaten to use them if it possesses them; and, third, that our future security depends, among other things, on doing everything we sensibly can to prevent terrorists from acquiring lethal weapons of the kind which Iraq and others possess or would like to possess."
Progress, no? Then the catch. Washington, according to Mr. Kettle, isn't engaged in this strategy: "Washington's attention is not on al-Qaida, as the chairman of the joint chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, admitted recently. On proliferation issues, the administration's conscious rejection of multilateral approaches on everything from nuclear missiles to handguns is a given. The Middle East peace process is parked well off the highway, and America seems incapable of rational discussion of its own relationship with Israel. The drive against Iraq now has little context other than itself."
This strikes me as a very weak argument. What evidence is there that the U.S. is no longer serious about al Qaeda? Why would it even be in Bush's interest to ignore it? On proliferation, the administration's intent in North Korea (even if one disagrees about methods) couldn't be clearer. And Israel? Why is that relevant here? The good news from this piece is that finally finally! some people on the left seem to have grasped that the Saddam-al Qaeda combination is simply something no sane Western government can tolerate. But the loathing of Mr. Bush and American power then clouds the judgment. Why should it? If Mr. Blair is right, shouldn't the Brits be begging the United States to wage war on their and Europe's behalf?
Religion as immutable
The Family Foundation of America was celebrating this week about the Virginia Senate's decision to keep homosexuals off a list of groups protected by hate crimes laws. The rationale for providing protection for every vulnerable group in society except homosexuals was given as follows in the foundation's "Victory Alert" e-mail: "The Senate committee agreed that these [homosexual] individuals are already protected under the law like everyone else. They clearly understood that Virginia's current law protects classes of individual based on immutable characteristics, like race, color, national origin and religious beliefs." Now that's an interesting theological innovation: religious faith as an "immutable characteristic." So conversion is now impossible? Faith is no longer a choice? Can people born Jewish or atheist never change their religious beliefs? Apparently not. Don't get me wrong: I'm against all hate- crimes laws. But if you're going to have them, they should at least be applied fairly. Carving out an exception for homosexuals makes no logical sense at all at least along the bizarre lines advocated by the Family Foundation.
Sontag award nominee
"I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies." singer Sheryl Crow at the American Music Awards. She wore a T-shirt with the slogan "War Is Not The Answer," emblazoned across it in sequins. Sequins? She couldn't afford diamonds?
Quote for the day
"I wanted to understand why the western countries were doing so well when the rest of the world seemed to be collapsing. I studied the history of European political thought from the Greeks and Romans up to the Second World War. I learned that people in the West value the autonomous individual. They understand the importance of science, knowledge. They are capable of criticizing themselves and there is an ability to record history to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. It is exactly the opposite in Somalia where all the institutions of record are missing, and my grandmother's memories of the clan wars will die with her." Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali immigrant to Holland, about to become a member of parliament following in Pim Fortuyn's footsteps. Her favorite thinker is John Stuart Mill. Liberalism, it seems, is not dead in Europe after all. It just takes a taste of Islamist oppression to embrace it.


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