- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

Chinese embrace

“I thought President Bush was quite correct in listing his least favorite regimes during his address to the United Nations last week and in trying to ramp up the international pressure on the goons in Rangoon. …

“Those who care or purport to care about human rights must start to discuss this problem in plain words. Is there an initiative to save the un-massacred remains of the people of Darfur? It will be met by a Chinese veto. Does anyone care about Robert Mugabe treating his desperate population as if it belonged to him personally? China is always ready to help him out. Are the North Koreans starved and isolated so that a demented playboy can posture with nuclear weapons? Beijing will give the demented playboy a guarantee. How long can Southeast Asia bear the shame and misery of the Burmese junta? As long as the embrace of China persists.”

Christopher Hitchens, writing on “Maintained in China,” Monday at Slate.com

Victory in sight?

“The question of what to do in Iraq today must be separated from the decision to topple Saddam Hussein four and a half years ago. That decision is a matter for historians. By any normal ethical standard, the coalition’s current project in Iraq is a just one. Britain, America and Iraq’s other allies are there as the guests of an elected government given a huge mandate by Iraqi voters under a legitimate constitution. … Meanwhile, the other side in this war are among the worst people in global politics: Baathists, the Nazis of the Middle East; Sunni fundamentalists, the chief opponents of progress in Islam’s struggle with modernity; and the government of Iran. Ethically, causes do not come much clearer than this one. …

“The great question in deciding whether to keep fighting in Iraq is not about the morality and self-interest of supporting a struggling democracy that is also one of the most important countries in the world. The question is whether the war is winnable and whether we can help the winning of it. The answer is made much easier by the fact that 3½ years after the start of the insurgency, most of the big questions in Iraq have been resolved.”

Bartle Bull, writing on “Mission accomplished,” in the October issue of the British magazine Prospect

Genius inflation

“It’s the most dreaded time of the year for insecure narcissists everywhere: the announcement of the MacArthur Foundation’s ‘genius award’ winners. … On [Sept. 24], 24 new fellows were named, meaning that millions of other self-proclaimed, would-be or tragically undiscovered geniuses found themselves shunned once again.

“What is, of course, especially insulting about this particular injury is that the category of ‘genius’ is increasingly overcrowded. …

“In the last few weeks alone, the ‘genius’ moniker has been applied to NFL coach Bill Belichick, the rapper Ludacris (courtesy of Jennifer Lopez), the famous mime Marcel Marceau and Alex, the African grey parrot who knew 100 English words, could count numbers up to six and who died at age 31. …

“Today, ‘genius’ is an equal-opportunity exaltation.

“How did we end up in a world in which Albert Einstein falls into the same category as spray-on tans?”

Meghan Daum, writing on “Everyone’s a ‘genius,’ ” Saturday in the Los Angeles Times

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