Archive for April 2003

How America Sees Itself Vs. How The World Sees America

I had to change the bumpersticker on the car yesterday. “Free Iraq” seemed so dated now, and besides could be misinterpreted as a call for the end of the so-called American “occupation” of Iraq (as if what the country needed was more non-occupation like Mogadishu…) And since people in my part of the country haven’t removed their “War is not the answer” and “No to war” stickers, I decided that I needed to counter their yuppie naiveté with some of my own yuppie neo-radicalism. So should you be driving around the streets of Portland and see a green Toyota Landcruiser with tinted windows and a sticker that says “Torture? Genocide? War IS the Answer sometimes…” be sure to honk. Don’t do anything else unless your windows are bullet resistant ;)

In three weeks America and its allies drained a nasty boil on the butt of civilization. In three weeks the rape rooms were permanently closed, Uday’s chipper shredders silenced forever, and the children freed from the “children’s prison”. Kuwait doesn’t have to worry about becoming the 19th province of Iraq again, and Israel doesn’t have to worry about chemical-tipped scud missiles landing on their soil. Families of homicide-bombers will no longer be paid with money that would be better spent feeding Iraqis; Iraqi exiles will no longer have to look over their shoulders. The marshes of southern Iraq will no longer be drained and most likely will be restored. Where there was fear for the present there is now hope for the future.

All this has been accomplished with no thanks to any of the following:

Susan-Tim-Sarandon-Robbins acting unit


College-dropout Michael Moore


The Dixie Chicks


Martin “Lookat Me! I’m Jesus!” Sheen


Pope “I’m not dead” John Paul II


Madonna


France


Belgium


Germany


Russia


Canada


Mexico


Syria


“The (mythical) Arab Street”


Al-jazeera


International ANSWER (“I’ll take ‘Bored & Stupid Rich Kids for $100, Alex”)


BBC (Pravda on the Thames)


CNN


Take a look at those names and don’t forget them. I sure won’t – and neither will 23,000,000 Iraqis.

Before Newt Gingrich took a shot at Colin Powell at the American Enterprise Institute last week, he stated that he believed one problem with Americans is that we think of ourselves as “happy hamsters” when the rest of the world thinks of us as a large elephant in the living room whose every movement threatens to break the family heirlooms.







Little Americans Big Ass Kickers

How Americans see themselves.



How the world sees Americans.



I thought that was a pretty astute observation, especially since it gives me the opportunity to put a picture of Hamtaro on this site.


Having spent the better part of my adulthood abroad, I have to agree. When an American travels, s/he suddenly becomes a representative of everything from the LA Race Riots to Slavery to Baseball. Americans tend to think that everyone in the world knows that we’re just a big nation full of “happy hamsters” – but the world recognizes that “happy hamsters” don’t take out a Middle Eastern country in 3 weeks of fighting. Hamsters don’t have the Marine Corps nor Special Ops units.


The world is starting to fear us – and that is a good thing. One of the reasons we endured the nightmare of September 11, 2001 is that our enemies didn’t fear us anymore. Osama Bin Laden and his supporters believed that we were hamsters, that we had grown soft, fat and furry. Since Bin Laden and his ilk live in the 12th Century, they failed to recognize the lesson the Japanese learned 60 years ago. They too had believed that Americans were hamsters incapable of defending themselves. As a result of that error we erased Japan and rebuilt it into the peaceful place that it is today. Bin Laden and his followers met the same fate as the Japanese military junta that engineered the attack on America.


What our supposed “allies” must understand is that while we may not be the hamsters that we think we are, being hamsters in a world of terror and failed Arab Culture isn’t feasible. While Hamtaro may not have to worry about becoming a cat-treat, he would if he turned up in my household.


It is in the world’s best interest that we continue to see ourselves in the USA as hamsters, but it isn’t in our own interest – nor the world’s. One fifth of the world’s population lives in a culture that cannot modernize, and so thrashes about looking for scapegoats and conspiracies. The only solution is for the USA to erase this culture and allow a new Arab culture to arise – one that is independent from the USA yet able to show Arabs that they can succeed without looking back or blowing up Americans and Jews.

Baghdad Bob

Okay, we’ll admit it: we miss “Baghdad Bob” AKA Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, (former) Iraqi Minister of Information. Yes we know that he worked for a bloodthirsty boss, and narc’ed on his brother-in-law, but you got a like a guy who is able to say the following with heart:

Courtesy of Welovetheiraqiinformationminister.com

“God will roast their stomachs in hell at the hands of Iraqis.”


So thanks to Mrs. Machiavelli’s insomnia, we found this website and recommend it to all who miss Baghdad Bob: WeLovetheIraqiInformationMinister.com.


Courtesy Daybydaycartoon.com


So “Let the American infidels bask in their illusion” and check out the site for your Baghdad Bob fix today.

Le Monde: The Mistake By Pascal Bruckner, André Glucksmann and Romain Goupil

Ed note: The French original appears here. The translation appears here, thanks to The Radical. This has to be one of the best pieces of French writing that I’ve read since my Rimbaud days. Kudos to The Radical for translating this, Europundits for publishing it, and Bruckner et al for proving that there are still French people who remain worthy successors to Rousseau.What joy it is to see the jubilant Iraqi people celebrating their liberation and…their liberators! A couple of months ago, France claimed to be funneling the US’s belligerent ardor into a legal, UN channel. Unfortunately, the opposition to the war degenerated into a systematic opposition to Washington.
Whether correctly perceived or not, our leaders gave the impression of protecting Saddam by insisting upon arm-wrestling with the Anglo-Saxon allies.
Friendship gave way to overt hostility, despite the diplomatic smiles and the denials which functioned as confessions: “The Americans aren’t our enemies”…By its intransigence and its promise of a veto “regardless of the circumstances,” our country divided Europe, paralyzed NATO and the UN, destroying the possibility of avoiding a military confrontation through a precise, joint ultimatum that would have forced out the Iraqi dictator. Far from avoiding a war, the “camp of peace” precipitated one by playing Asterix against Uncle Sam. A ridiculed France has now removed itself from the game. You don’t run a great country by getting high on media successes and rhetorical jousts. In this regard, Tony Blair, who took the risk of confronting his electorate while remaining faithful to his convictions, revealed himself to be a true head of state.
The President’s conduct reflected public opinion. In the future, we will talk about the hysteria, the collective intoxication that shook France for months on end, the anguish of the Apocalypse that seized our better halves, the almost Soviet ambiance that welded together 90% of the population in a triumph of monolithic thought, allergic to the slightest dissent. In the future, we will have to study the media’s partisan coverage of the war—with few exceptions, this coverage was more activist than objective, minimizing the horrors of the Baathist tyranny in order to better reproach the Anglo-American expedition, guilty of all crimes, all problems, all misfortunes in the region.
For weeks, Television Baghdad invaded our brains and our television screens to the point where the very few Iraqi dissident guests had to apologize for existing…to the point where a French singer, in an act of remarkable obscenity, left the stage of a variety show on France 3 upon the arrival of Saad Salam, a film-maker and Iraqi opponent. We will have to explain why the Kurdish minority was, during this period, forbidden from protesting when Saddam’s hatchet men paraded on our boulevards, brandishing Saddam’s portraits, screaming slogans to his glory, going so far as to lynch the poet-in-exile, Salah Al-Hamdani. We will have to analyze the alarming proportion of French (33%) who, not wanting a coalition victory, pronounced themselves, de facto, in favor of Hussein’s victory.
Let’s face it: Anti-Americanism is not an accident that happened over-night or a simple reticence in response to the Bush Administration. Anti-Americanism is a political creed that unites one person to another, in spite of their differences—the Front national and the Greens, socialists and conservatives, communists and separatists…On the left as well as on the right, it is rare to find someone who did not give in to this “nationalism of imbeciles” which is unfailingly symptomatic of resentment and decline.
We were recently pleased to confront American narrow-mindedness with French intelligence and to confront the New World, led by “King UbuBush,” with Old World wisdom. And what was the result? One of the most appalling dictators in the Middle East fell, and France did nothing to contribute to his demise.
On the contrary, she did everything that she could to slow down Hussein’s fall. When Baghdad danced, France pouted. While certain intellectuals and politicians expressed their confusion, indeed their “nausea” when faced with an Anglo-Saxon victory, the weekly magazine, Marianne, led with “The Catastrophe” on the day that Baghdad tasted its first hours of deliverance. We just have to accept that there will always exist in our democracies a significant number of citizens from whom a dictator’s demise will be a cause for despair. This land of human rights perhaps doesn’t care so much for the liberty of others as she claims to and publicizes. From Jean-Marie Le Pen to Jean-Pierre Chevènement, Saddam Hussein had, among us, many friends, discreetly born again as “friends of the Iraqi people.” Will the Republic, along with Berlin and Moscow, institute a day of national morning for the disappeared dictator?
The second Gulf War has been a wonderfully revealing incident. An outbreak of anti-Semitism and ethnic hatred, an economic and social crisis, the desecration of a British military cemetery, the beating up of Jews and Iraqi opposition during the great “peace” marches, an alliance…with the unsavory Vladimir Putin, butcher of Chechnyans, the reception of the African despot Robert Mugabe in Paris, public insults directed to Eastern European countries who committed the sin of not slavishly obeying us—our great nation is not in the process of writing its most glorious page in the Book of History.
The future of a liberated Iraq remains very problematic, and its pacification is far from certain. It is not certain…that the military conquest will be magically crowned with a harmony of hearts and spirits. There are no guarantees that the Bush administration, despite its promises, will seriously face the Palestinian question. Nor can we be certain that peace will win the day in the Middle East. However, by its choices, Paris has damned itself to having only a marginal role in this region of the world. History is progressing. Will France no longer be a part of it?

Inverse Relationship Between Privilege and Patriotism

The Wife noted this morning the inverse relationship between patriotism and privilege in popular culture. For example, the mother of rescued POW Shoshana Johnson appeared in an interview today wearing a sweater bearing the American flag. Nearly every scene of rescued POW Jessica Lynch’s family home shows the American flag fluttering on the flag pole above the black POW/MIA banner. Other families of soldiers fighting overseas regularly appear wearing red, white and blue or sporting flags of various sizes.

Then there were the anti-war celelbrities such as Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen. Sheen makes as much in one episode of the West Wing ($300,000) as Jessica Lynch’s father makes in 10 years of driving a truck. If Karl Marx crawled out of his grave (and did not have his head shot off by my zombie hunting son), he’d be hard pressed to explain why the elder Lynch was more nationalistic and anti-communist than Martin Sheen even though Sheen is a member of the bourgeoisie and should defend the Capitalist system at all costs. Mrs. M finished up by saying that while she appreciates free speech and all, she wishes that people like Sheen who really didn’t like the USA would just vote with their feet and leave – making room for those who do want to come here.

This is the rough equivalent of The Grateful Dead telling their fans to get a haircut and a job…

* * * *


I’m glad to see that NPR (Neverfails to Piss me off Radio) still maintains its bias against anything that smacks of American success in the war in Iraq. After all, nothing gets the blood flowing better in the morning than some poorly constructed journalism. This morning’s Cumadin-moment occurred after a story about how US soldiers were greeted politely in Tikrit – but not with the bouquets of wildflowers that some had received in Baghdad (I doubt that the US Marines were crushed by this “flower-free” greeting in Saddam’s hometown).

The next reporter then spoke about how Germany and France were concerned about being “locked-out” of the rebuilding of Iraq. One French business leader complained that France had been actively involved in the first Gulf War yet had not benefited from any of the contracts to rebuild Kuwait. The reporter then spoke about how Alcatel – the French telecoms firm – had rebuilt the Iraqi phone system after that war and was interested in rebuilding it again.

So where is the bias? First off, no effort was made by the reporter to provide an alternate viewpoint – for example, that France and Germany did not bury dead soldiers, actively sought to derail American efforts to contain the regime which in the end increased the likelihood of war and encouraged Iraqis to put up a fight that in turn lead to increased casualties on both sides. Secondly, the reporter failed to recognize and explore the connection between French/German insistance that the United Nations should rebuild Iraq and these contracts – even as the French spokesmen tap-danced around this issue. Finally, the reporter merely stated that France/Germany were “cool” to the idea of debt forgiveness for Iraq.

NPR is great for one reason though: no one listens to it. So if you feel like me and once supported your local public radio station, the next time they call to beg money tell them that you can’t because of their support of NPR. Demand that they let the power of the marketplace into one of the last remaining vestiges of Communism in the USA.

Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs

Hey Not In Our Name! Cheryl Crow! Susan Sarandon! Michael Moore! Dixie Chicks! Martin Sheen!


What do you say to this?


Jailed Iraqi children run free as marines roll into Baghdad suburbs








BAGHDAD (AFP) – More than 100 children held in a prison celebrated their freedom as US marines rolled into northeast Baghdad amid chaotic scenes which saw civilians loot weapons from an army compound, a US officer said.

Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.
“Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us,” Padilla said.
“There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back.”


“The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Baath party,” he alleged. “Some of these kids had been in there for five years.”

The children, who were wearing threadbare clothes and looked under-nourished, walked on the streets crossing their hands as if to mimic handcuffs, before giving the thumbs up sign and shouting their thanks.
It was not clear who had opened the doors of the prison.


Unfortunately this may be missed by those non-embedded journalists whose ears are still ringing after the tank shell hit the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. Not that Saddam’s forces would have been using them as human shields or anything. They wouldn’t stoop that low would they?

Five years in prison… Somebody needs to slap some sense into the above named “entertainers” and remind the journalists that the bar is temporarily closed at the Palestine..

Euroweenies Love The Razor

I discovered today that my site is representative of the neo-con movement at an anti-war site in Europe. In other words, they don’t like it much – but they sure do hit it often enough. Yes The Razor is not anti-American – which makes it suspect in their view. It isn’t even anti-European necessarily. What The Razor is anti-idiotarian.

The Razor is anti stupidity; that’s the very essence of Occam’s Razor. Cut through the crap and find the Truth. We will not stomach idiots – whether on the Left or even on the Right. Yes we have slammed Jimmy Carter (idiotarian extraordinaire). We have slammed the French for being idiots in too. But we also have slammed Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. I’m sure we have slammed Pat Buchanan somewhere too. Idiocy has no political affiliation – though the vast majority of idiotic statements has been coming from the Left recently. Hence this journals tirades against them. Rest assured that when a Right Winger says something idiotic, we’ll be there to call ‘em on the carpet and swat their snouts with a rolled up newspaper…

But enough about idiots. Let’s talk about heroes…

There’s an Iraqi who is welcome to bring his family to the Machiavelli household for Korean barbecue any time. His name is “Mohammed” and his story can be found here. This guy risked his life to save an American all because he couldn’t stand seeing a girl hit: “I saw them hit the female soldier, and my heart stopped.” He risked his life walking a total of 18 miles through “Ambush Alley” to help get PFC Jessica Lynch out of the hands of the Fedayeen Saddam.

Imagine the courage this man had, the conviction – all because he couldn’t stand a woman being slapped around. This guy stands for everything America is about: standing up for one’s convictions, risking one’s life to right an injustice, becoming involved when others prefer to look away.

Mohammed is a true hero and the kind of man we need more of in the world. He proves that even after 30 years, Saddam was unable to extinguish all vestiges of humanity and goodness from the land.

French don’t have a word for chutzpah…

Colin Powell stated in Brussels that international organizations had a role in the rebuilding in Iraq – but when asked by a reporter to clarify that role Secretary Powell noted that the “Coalition of the Willing” “took a big hit – politically as well as in terms of treasure and lives lost”.

As Den Beste notes here, the French don’t have a word for chutzpah “because fish have no word for water.” The very idea that the USA, Britain, Australia and the other nations who have risked increased terror attacks, economic embargo, political unrest – as well as lives of their servicemembers – would now hand over Iraq like a present to nations such as Belgium, Germany, France, China, Syria and Russia is simply one of the best political jokes I’ve heard since Al Sharpton announced his run for the presidency. Can we ever trust these nations in Iraq – or anywhere else – ever again? Is it possible that they will continue to work to undermine the liberation of Iraq in order to make the Coalition of the Willing look bad?

There should be a role for the UN to play: an empty symbolic role. That will allow the French to pretend that they still matter whereas they don’t. It will also keep the UN too busy to focus their energy on undermining the rebuilding of Iraq. However any decision that matters must be made by those who risked everything in order to free the Iraqi people.

On another issue of note: A Shiite cleric issued a fatwa for Muslims to help the Coalition forces. A fatwa to help the infidel?

Oh, and for the liberals asking where were the Iraqis waving at our forces and welcoming us? Turn on Fox News…

One more thing about the French…

As a student of English and American history, one cannot help but have little respect for France and find them about as annoying as Cheryl Crowe. However, this crosses the line:


The story is here (from the BBC)


Here’s how the French feel about the US, British, Canadian and Australian soldiers who snatched away their country from the Germans and handed it back to them – after paying the ultimate price…


“Dig up your garbage, it is fouling our soil.” That’s the translation for the shite on the left.


Jacque Chirac and de Villipin should personally apologize to the people of the UK and the USA for this sacriledge. Imagine the outcry here if some American youths spraypainted “French go home” on monuments in a French cemetery here. Oh, I forgot; there aren’t any such cemeteries here…

Marines Rock

Marines rock. What more can I say? Dad was in the Army, Wife is ex-Navy – as is Father-In-Law – but even they say that if you’re in a “debate”, there’s nothing like a few Marines backing up your side of the argument. Marines have always been the 100% shit-kickers in the armed forces. If you need something done – against all odds and without excuses – you call in the Marines. That’s why they were sent in to landlocked Afghanistan last year, and why they are driving up the Euphrates to clean out Baghdad now.

Mind you, I have the deepest respect for all the armed services and wouldn’t discourage my kids from joining any one of them… But Oliver North is right: Marines simply are the best…

I’m still pissed at journalists as a whole. Of course I just finished Ann Coulter’s book “Slander” which just might have something to do with it. I’ll admit that I bought in to alot of the stuff she rails against, such as the Liberal’s use of the term “Religious Right” as a straw man. If you haven’t picked up this book, do so now. It’s an easy read – well footnoted too just like Chomsky so you can impress your liberal friends.

Today was a good day. Our forces have pushed to the outskirts of Baghdad, three POWs were rescued, and two Iraqi divisions were smashed (note to future dictators: never EVER name military units after ancient Generals which you have zip in common with. Hammurabi was ahead of his time, but it says volumes when your code of justice is more brutal than his).

Of course Fox News is reporting that a Blackhawk has just gone down in Southern Iraq – killing 7. We must mourn their deaths properly, but not until the job is done.

Let’s get ‘em…

MSM vs. New Media

So the allies have gotten “bogged down”, and “resistance has proven stronger than expected”. The Media is starting to dust-off the “Q” word to describe the war – against the Taliban in northern Afghanistan. Yes, we are hearing today the same tired echoes of the media from that last war.

As if anyone recalls, the Northern Alliance and allied forces swept towards Kabul, then apparently meeting that “unexpected resistance”, “became bogged down” – apparently “ill-equipped to take the capital”. So our troops waited around, caught up on their emails, showered, etc while air power ground the Taliban front-lines into dust. After the “lull” our forces were in Kabul before the ink was dry on several articles written by professional journalists describing the “Vietnamization” (ugly, ugly word) of the war against the Taliban. Too bad they were completely wrong.

So why do journalists persists in offering their opinions? Why can’t they report an event without adding their analysis?

First, they are elitist and believe that their audience is unable to understand the news on their own. Journalists believe that they are part of the Fourth Estate – protectors of the public – yet by doing so they lose touch with the public which they claim to protect. Secondly, they believe that they know more about the event than others do and that it is their duty to impart this knowledge on their audience. If this includes their opinion, then so be it. Finally, it makes them part of the story. Instead of being mere voyeurs to an event, they become active participants. This is shown by Peter Arnett’s taking credit for the anti-war movement in the USA. He no longer is a watcher – he is a player.

Professional journalists understand war about as well as Catholic priests (the ones NOT chasing after the altar boys) understand sex. They know how its done, and they see people do it – yet they really don’t understand it. One is hard pressed to name a single professional journalist under the age of forty who served in the military. The vast majority of journalists have degrees in journalism, in contrast to the majority of Americans who don’t have any type of college degree and if they do it isn’t in journalism. Journalists are not required to study history the way that military officers are. Ask any military officer why the Battle of Cannae is important and you’ll get a long-winded treatise. Ask a journalist and you’ll get a blank stare.

Journalists are not military experts. They don’t understand the history of warfare, its elementary tactics, or the possible outcomes as well as even teen-aged war-gamers do. Witnessing an event does not make one an expert in the same way that seeing black Americans doesn’t make me an expert on African-American culture.

What America needs is a revamping of the way journalists are created. Reporters should go back to their role of reporting events, not participating in them. America also needs more amateur journalists or reporters with broader experience. That’s where the internet comes in.

Steven Den Beste is not a professional journalist or pundit, but his essays are better researched and presented than anything currently in print. Glenn Reynolds’ role of de facto “editor in chief” for blogdom, exposing writers from all corners of the web to the public, democratizes the media far better than the New York Times’ hiring of a real conservative writer. Salam Pax has a sobering effect on both hawks and doves – more so than anything that appears in Time or Newsweek.

Blogs and online journals such as this one were born in the aftermath of September 11. That event energized people from all walks of life to take up the pen (or keyboard) and become journalists. Writer Harlan Ellison once wrote a short story called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream”. For thousands of us, blogs and online journals are our mouths, and the blogosphere rings with the echoes of our screams.

Fuck you, Peter Arnett.