Friday, March 31, 2006

The Crack-up in Academia

Three facts characterize modern academia: the sun rises in the east, it sets in the west, and it is almost impossible for conservative Christians get hired within mainstream academia.

Alas, it can even be difficult for conservative Christians to keep their jobs at allegedly religious universities.

The latest case is Francis Beckwith of Baylor University. A remarkably prolific scholar who has outpublished and outperformed nearly all his peers at Baylor (and pretty much everywhere else), Beckwith has an Achilles' heel: he's pro-life and he argues for it in print.

This might not have been a problem at Baylor until recently. Under President Robert Sloan, Baylor had hired world-class scholars with known Christian commitments in an effort to make Baylor a center for Christian academic excellence.

But Sloan was forced out, and the new administration has launched a purge of Christian conservatives. The sorry tale is told by a Baylor grad student, writing incognito at American Spectator.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Andrew Sullivan joins the Flat Earth Society

Andrew Sullivan's recent post will get him a life-time membership in the Flat Earth Society (yes, there really is one). Sullivan writes:

People have this strange idea that Americans are much more secular today than they once were. In fact, the kind of religious fundamentalism we see today, while always part of the American fabric, has rarely been as dominant. The faith of the founders' was a drier, more Enlightened type; and it's fair to wonder whether some of them were believers at all in the modern sense of the term. That's why a defense of secularism is by no means un-American. It is the essence of what made the United States such a radical experiment in its time: the separation of government from God. Just don't tell that to the theocons.

Did the Founding Fathers affirm separation of church and state? Of course.

Separation of the government from God? Not a chance. But maybe Sullivan has never read the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Declaration of Independence, 1776.

Or this: "We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that 'except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.' I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel." Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention, 28 June 1787.

Or this: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever." Thomas Jefferson, 1781.

The key point is that for the Founding Fathers the existence of God was a fact, amply supported by 2000 years of Western philosophy and proved to a moral certainty by Newtonian science. This God was the necessary basis for both human morality and human rights, hence their concern in the Declaration of Independence for "the laws of Nature and Nature's God".

Religion was something else, a matter of faith; something the government could encourage, but not require. Hence this early repudiation of the notion of "Christian America":

"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries." President John Adams, Treaty of Tripoli, 1797.

But this same John Adams could also say:
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." John Adams, Address to the Military, October 11, 1798.

The Founders distinguished between the pair of Reason/God which were the foundation of government; and that of Faith/Religion which were left to private belief. It's not a difficult distinction to grasp.

Maybe some day Sully will catch on.

Dean's Democrats and the Evangelicals

Howard Dean has declared his determination to reach out to evangelical Protestants. An article about his outreach ends as follows (from Christianity Today):

In the gathering of Hispanic Democratic leaders, Gloria Nieto, vice chair of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Caucus, broke down in sobs as she lamented her feeling of rejection as a woman who had illegally married a woman in Boston. Responding to her wondering if the Democratic Party would still be a welcoming home for lesbians, Dean leaped off the stage into the audience to hug her. With a sob of his own catching his voice, he brought the audience to a standing ovation with his declaration, "That's why I am a Democrat." Many evangelicals may well respond, "That's why we are not Democrats."

The scientific evidence for why the Evangelicals are right about this is summarized in an excellent short pamphlet. Highlights include:
Fact #2: Studies show homosexual marriage is hazardous to one's health.
Across the world, numerous researchers have reported that 'committed' or 'coupled' homosexuals are more apt to engage in highly risky and biologically unsanitary sexual practices than are 'single' gays. As a consequence of this activity, they increase their chances of getting AIDS and other sexually transmitted or blood-borne diseases.
  • In 1983, near the beginning of the.AIDS epidemic, gays in San Francisco(13) who claimed to be in "monogamous relationships" were compared to those who were not. Without exception, those in monogamous relationships more frequently reported that they had engaged in biologically unhealthful activity during the past year. As examples, 4.5% of the monogamous v. 2.2% of the unpartnered had engaged in drinking urine, and 33.3% v. 19.6% claimed to practice oral-anal sex.
  • In a sample of London gays(6) in 1987, those infected with HIV were more apt to have regular partners than those not so infected.In 1989, Italian researchers(14) investigated 127 gays attending an AIDS clinic. Twelve percent of those without steady partners v. 28% of those with steady partners were HIV+. The investigators remarked that "to our surprise, male prostitutes did not seem to be at increased risk, whereas homosexuals who reported a steady partner (i.e., the same man for the previous six months) carried the highest relative risk."
  • During 1991-92, 677 gays in England(15) were asked about "unprotected anal sex." Those who had 'regular' partners reported sex lives which were "about three times as likely to involve unprotected anal sex than partnerships described as 'casual/one-night stands."' Sex with a regular partner "was far more important than awarelless of HIV status in facilitating high-risk behaviour."
  • A 1993 British sexual diary study(16) of 385 gays reported that men in "monogamous" relationships practiced more anal intercourse and more anal-oral sex than those without a steady partner. It concluded that "gay men in a Closed relationship... exhibit... the highest risk of HIV transmission."
  • In 1992, a sample(17) of 2,593 gays from Tucson, AZ and Portland, OR reinforced the consistent finding that "gay men in primary relationships are significantly more likely than single men to have engaged in unprotected anal intercourse."
  • Similarly, a 1993 sample(18) of gays from Barcelona, Spain practiced riskier sex with their regular partners than with casual pick ups.
  • Even a 1994 study(19) of over 600 lesbians demonstrated that "the connection between monogamy and unprotected sex,... was very consistent across interviews. Protected sex was generally equated with casual encounters; unprotected sex was generally equated with trusting relationships. Not using latex baariers was seen as a step in the process of relational commitment. Choosing to have unprotected sex indicated deepening trust and intimacy as the relationship grew."

Why is homosexual marriage a health hazard?
While married people pledge and generally live up to their vows of sexual faithfulness, participants in both gay and lesbian "marriages" offer each other something quite different. They see shared biological intimacy and sexual risk-taking as the hallmark of trust and commitment. Being exposed in this way to the bodily discharges of their partner increases the risk of disease, especially so if that partner was 'married' to someone else before or engaged in sex with others outside the relationship.

The evidence is strong that both gays and lesbians are more apt to take biological risks when having sex with a partner than when having casual sex. The evidence is also strong that gays disproportionately contract more disease, especially AIDS and the various fonms of hepatitis, from sex with "partners" than they do from sex with strangers. There is also some evidence(20) that gays with partners are more apt to die of both AIDS and non-AIDS conditions than those without partners.

Like gays, 'married' lesbians are more apt to engage in biological intimacy and risk-taking. However, there is insufficient evidence to conclude whether disease or death rates are higher for partnered or unpartnered lesbians.

Fact #3: Homosexual marriage has the highest rate of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a public health concern. Among heterosexuals, not only is it an obvious marker of a troubled marriage, but media attention and tax dollars to aid 'battered women' have both grown tremendously in recent years. What is not reported is the empirical evidence suggesting that homosexual couples have higher rates of domestic violence than do heterosexual couples, especially among lesbians.
In 1996,(21) Susan Holt, coordinator of the domestic violence unit of the Los Angeles Gay Lesbian Center, said that "domestic violence is the third largest health problem facing the gay and lesbian community today and trails only behind AIDS and substance abuse... in terms of sheer numbers and lethality."
The average rate of domestic violence in traditional maariage, established by a nationwide federal government survey(22) of 6,779 married couples in 1988, is apparently less than 5% per year. During their most recent year of marriage, 2.0% of husbands and 3.2% of wives said that they were hit, shoved or had things thrown at them. Unmarried, cohabiting heterosexuals report(23) higher rates of violencea rate of about 20% to 25% per year.
When the same standard is applied to gay and lesbian relationships, the following evidence emerges:

  • In 1987,(24) 48% of 43 lesbian, and 39% of 39 gay Georgia couples reported domestic violence.
  • In 1988,(25) 70 lesbian and gay students participated in a study of conflict resolution in gay and lesbian relationships. Adjusted upward for reporting by only one partner in the couple (i.e., "only one side of the story"), an estimated 29% of gay and 56% of lesbian couples experienced violence in the past year.
  • In 1989,(26) 284 lesbians were interviewed who were involved "in a committed, cohabitating lesbian relationship" during the last 6 months. Adjusted for reporting by just one partner, an estimated 43% of the relationships were violent in the past year.
  • In 1990,(27) nearly half of 90 lesbian couples in Los Angeles reported domestic violence yearly. 21% of these wonien said that they were mothers. Interestingly, of those mothers who had children living with them, 11 lived in "violent" and 11 in "nonviolent" relationships. Thus, unlike traditional marriage where parents will often forego fighting to shield the children from hostility, there was no evidence from this investigation that the presence of youngsters reduced the rate of domestic violence.

Overall, the evidence is fairly compelling that homosexual domestic violence exceeds heterosexual domestic violence. The limited scientific literature suggests that physical domestic violence occurs every year among less than 5% of traditionally married couples, 20% to 25% of cohabiting heterosexuals, and approximately half of lesbian couples. The evidence is less certain for gays, but their rate appears to fall somewhere between that for unmarried, cohabiting heterosexuals and lesbians.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Aristotle and the Welfare State

From Charles Murray over the weekend:

But Aristotle was right. Virtue is a habit. Virtue does not flourish in the next generation because we tell our children to be honest, compassionate and generous in the abstract. It flourishes because our children practice honesty, compassion and generosity in the same way that they practice a musical instrument or a sport. That happens best when children grow up in a society in which human needs are not consigned to bureaucracies downtown but are part of life around us, met by people around us.

Read his article, "A Plan to Replace the Welfare State."
Update: K-Lo at National Review interviews Murray. And Andrew Ferguson takes a look too.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mississippi Churning?--what Newsweek doesn't understand about abortion

Newsweek offers its most recent defense of legalized abortion.

March 20, 2006 issue - When "Jane" discovered a few weeks ago that she was pregnant, she nearly collapsed. She already has four kids, ages 6 to 18, to raise on her own, while working full-time as a housekeeper. "I'm struggling trying to take care of them," said the 33-year-old Vicksburg, Miss., native, who gave a fictitious name to protect her privacy. "I'm not financially able" to handle a fifth child.

By leading with this item, Newsweek's reporter is clearly trying to legitimize both abortion and Roe v. Wade. Jane "discovered" that that she was pregnant. Her story is tragic: she is a thirty-three year-old woman who already has four children, and there is no husband (or father!) in sight. Yet she has gotten herself pregnant by some unknown man who can't or won't help look after the child he has fathered; she has allowed herself to conceive a child she can't afford to raise, and is demanding an abortion in an attempt to avoid the consequences of her own self-destructive behaviour. And she demands our sympathy.

Well: yes. God knows she deserves sympathy. Jane is a woman with serious psychological problems. She needs some serious counseling to address what are clearly long-standing problems with her mental health and her moral character. And she's symptomatic of abortion in Mississippi and American abortion in general, and the effect that abortion has on women's lives. Legalized abortion undermines the lives of women, for it functions as an enabler; it enables women to pursue deeply self-destructive lifestyles that require comprehensive counseling.

83% of Mississippi's abortions are for unmarried women. 56% of Mississippi's abortions are done for women who have already given birth at least once. 37% of Mississippi's abortions are for women seeking their second abortion or worse.

The solution to this is not for Mississippi to follow South Dakota by trying to ban all abortions.

That will simply lead to defeat in the US Supreme Court.

What is needed instead is a German-style mandatory counseling law coupled with a ban on abortion after the 12th week.

As I've noted in these posts: such a law has a very good chance of cutting US abortion rates in half or better--that is, reducing them to European levels. And it has a good chance of being upheld by the US Supreme Court as consistent with abortion law since the Casey decision in the early 1990s.

And it would begin to address the problem that Newsweek doesn't see: that legalized abortion does not empower women, it enables them: enables women like Jane to persist in self-destructive lifestyles.

Women deserve better.

The clock strikes midnight: Iran goes nuclear

Iran announced last night it would go nuclear this year.

It is now only weeks away from finishing the centrifuges necessary to process the uranium needed to produce atomic bombs.

We are now in the most dangerous period of American history since the Cuban missile crisis.

Michael Ledeen warned us it would probably happen this spring. The CIA and an army of experts got it wrong (see the CSIS report pages 114-120).

From RegimeChangeIran (H/T: RedState)

Iran would fully go nuclear with the current Persian year, which started simultaneously with spring on March 20 [of 2006], Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday.

"Our enemies try to prevent our scientific progress through wide-spread propaganda but inshallah (God willing) this (new) year will be the year when the Islamic Republic of Iran will fully avail itself of peaceful nuclear technology," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the news agency ISNA.

In a meeting with visiting Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Shara, Ahmadinejad said Iran's use of peaceful nuclear energy will be to the benefit of the Islamic world and the "friends of Iran."

Earlier on Saturday Iran thanked Russia and China for their stance in the ongoing dispute over Iran's controversial nuclear programme, state news agency IRNA reported.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki thanked his Russian and Chinese counterparts by telephone for their "logical stance" and persistence to evaluate the issue within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Russia and China have so far refused plans for ultimatums or deadlines put by the United Nations Security Council on Iran for suspending all its uranium enrichment programmes.

Mottaki reiterated Iran's wish to find a broad-based agreement through negotiations and criticized any political approach in the UN Security Council towards the issue.

The sand has run out on the clock, and it is time to act.

1) The Army has a collection of papers looking for options.

2) Winds of Change calls for a full scale invasion.

3) The Officers' Club looked at this last year. In Feb 2006 they looked at the Israeli option. They also assessed Iran's strategy against the West.

4) Military historian Victor Davis Hanson cautions about the dangers of air strikes.

5) Clifford May looks at Iran's vow to destroy "Anglo-Saxon civilization". No, they're not bluffing.

6) But Alexander Coburn thinks Bush probably won't attack.

7) The German press thinks that the US has been laying the groundwork for an attack since at least December of 2005.

8) And Al-Jazeera believes the German press.

9) RCP looks at Iran's defensive strategy.

10) James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly offers a first-rate article on a US military war game of an attack on Iran.

11)Military expert Austin Bay comments here and here. With this on bombing details.

12)Military expert Ralph Peters looks at "Nukes for Allah".

13) The Cato Institute is concerned that the mullahs are tricking us into a trap. Carpenter critiques the conventional wisdom.

14) Senator Brownback and Rademaker of the State Department address AEI on the crisis.

15) The Heritage Foundation looks at the Iranian crisis. Heritage notes that Iran may already have material for ten nuclear weapons. Peter Brookes of Heritage notes that Iran is hiding circa 25 senior Al Qaeda leaders and that the military option has serious drawbacks.

16) At the Brookings Institution Martin Indyk thinks we can't go to war in Iran with troops in Iraq. Flynt Leverett calls for diplomacy. Dalder and Gordon call for sanctions.

17) Global Security offers an important set of studies here. This includes a look at a blockade, air strikes, and "The Khuzestan Gambit" or seizing Iran's oil fields.

18) There is finally the option for a quarantine/no-fly zone strategy to promote internal revolution in Iran.

19) Neo-con Robert Kagan thinks air strikes would backfire.

20) John Tabin at American Spectator is more sympathetic. His colleague at AmSpec Jed Babbin sounds the alarm: must we wait until Iran has nukes to act?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

With apologies to Allen Ginsberg...

A brilliant post from American Digest:

by Gerard Allen Van der Ginsberg
For Karl Rove Solomon

I SAW the second-best minds of my not-so-Great Generation destroyed by Bush Derangement Syndrome, pasty, paunchy, tenured, unelectable, and not looking too sharp naked,
...aging hair-plugged hipsters burning for their ancient political connection to the White House through the machinations of moonbats,
who warred on poverty and Halliburton's Wal-Mart and bulbous-eyed and still high from some bad acid in 1968 set up no-smoking zones on tobacco farms in the unnatural darkness of Darwinistic delusions floating a few more half-baked secular notions like "Let's all worship zero!",
who bared their withered breasts and, he or she, bleated their vaginas' mawkish monologues to John Kennedy's ghost under the capitol dome and french-kissed Mohammedan agents in the gore-drenched redrum rooms of Guantanamo,
who passed gas and on into universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating President Al Gore and Vice-President Noam Chomsky envisioning world peace among the masters of war and stayed on and stayed on and stayed on sucking off the great teat of academe in upaid student loans and over-paid professorial positions the better to molest the minds of children for decades with every third year off for bad behavior,
who were embraced by the academies and hired by the New York Times for crazy & publishing obscene odes or anything else that trashed George W. Bush without regard for truth since there were no consequences for these posturing poseurs of puke,
who cowered in their marble-countered plasma screened media rooms in underwear which was no longer Victoria's Secret, burning their money by donating it in carloads to every half-assed Democratic PAC that promised impeachment in a nano-second without the losing proposition of actually holding an election and listening to Rush Limbaugh through the wall,
who got bombed at public wine-tastings by chugging the slops bin and referencing Sideways, returning to their summer house in the Hamptons where they ate smoked salmon, smoked $200 marijuana, wore $250 denims, and bitched about how the economy was a mess but did not really, as they claimed, send their $36,000 tax cut back to the government, and continued to suffer the secret shame of Affluenza,
who breathed fire and bile about "that crooked administration" among their friends and shut up around people with real jobs and drank turpentine to get through "A Night with Gloria Steinem", claimed bogus ego-death, and Ab-busted their torsos night after night,
who blathered continuously about the Florida "theft" for the entire ninety-six months of the two Bush terms while the Evil One put one, two, maybe three or even four justices on the Supreme Court,

....a lost battalion of a multi-million man and mom marching platonic conversationalists jumping to conclusions about WMD off fire escapes off windowsills off Empire State out of the moon, yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering "BUSH LIEEEEEEEEED!" and moronic memories and false anecdotes and eyeball kicks and yearning for the electroshocks of hospitals and the briefness of jails and the endless Bush wars .... oh my sorry little schmos.... ....who had double-standard vision while their baby seals died, turned into a pair of mucklucks by Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton,
who thought they were only mad when Bush appeared in the clouds above their Iowa Caucuses proclaiming "Neener, neener, neener,"
who in humorless protest turned Cindy Sheehan into their personal hand-puppet, which she enjoyed, and complained that she looked far too much like the devil spawn of Howdy Doody and Alfred E. Newman...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Iraq and its Discontents

A superb post from Gateway pundit:

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years of Dragging Democrats Through Their Iraqi Quagmire
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction... Saddam may well hide his most lethal weapons in mosques, schools and hospitals. If our forces attempt to strike such targets, untold numbers of Iraqi civilians could be killed."
Senator Teddy KennedySeptember 27, 2002And, so... After the "paralysed" UN body failed to hold Iraq accountable, America and it's 30 nation Allied Coalition took action on March 19, 2003.But, the war has not been without its critics from the Left... * German politicians predicted: "Millions of people in Baghdad will be victims of bombs and rockets."What happened: The antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters were lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq. * Ted Kennedy predicted:"A war on Saddam might also cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with an estimated 900,000 refugees, a pandemic and an environmental disaster as Saddam lit the oilfields on fire." Actual Result: The oil fields were not set ablaze, no pandemic.* The UN predicted... It is also likely that in the early stages there will be a large segment of the population requiring treatment for traumatic injuries, either directly conflict-induced or from the resulting devastation. Given the population outlined earlier, as many as 500,000 could require treatment to a greater or lesser degree as a result of direct or indirect injuries.What happened: Again, the antiwar Iraqi Body Count site lists an estimated 4,000-6,000 civilians and fighters lost in the startup months of the War in Iraq.* Ted Kennedy also predicted: "The U.S. could run through "battalions a day at a time" and that the fighting would look like "the last fifteen minutes of 'Private Ryan.'"Actual Results: Although each fatality is a tragic loss for America, this is still one of most successful military campaigns the US has ever fought.* Medact Global Health: "A more contained conflict could cause half a million deaths and have a devastating impact on the lives, health and environment of the combatants, Iraqi civilians, and people in neighbouring countries and beyond."Actual Results: Antiwar Iraqi Body Count says that 35-37 thousand deaths including bank robbers.* Hans Blix argued: The Iraqis were better off before the warThe harsh truth: Before the War in Iraq, Saddam was filling his mass graves and keeping state hired rapists on his payroll. In those 20 years about 5% of the people of Iraq were killed or mysteriously disappeared. The red area in the graph above shows the estimated average deaths in Iraq under Saddam Hussein from 36 average deaths per day from mass grave discoveries, to 137 deaths per day from a different source. The yellow area shows estimated total fatalities since the beginning of the War in Iraq from Iraq Body Count, an antiwar website. * John Kerry insisted... "There are no-go zones in Iraq today (September 2004). You can't hold an election in a no-go zone."Results: Iraq held a very successful democratic election in January 2005.* Jimmy Carter predicted... "The Carter Center did, our 52nd election. All of our elections have been in troubled countries where the outcome was doubtful. But in every case there has to be a central government that can set up the constitution and bylaws and rules so that an election can be held peacefully. I don't see that happening as long as the terrible violence continues in Iraq."About those election results: Former President Jimmy Carter, who predicted that elections in Iraq would fail and in the past year described the Bush administration's policy there as a quagmire, this week ended 10 days of silence to declare the historic Iraqi vote "a very successful effort." (February 11, 2005)* Madeleine Albright observed... "It has long been obvious that the Bush administration lacks a viable plan for success in Iraq. The hardest political job — drafting a constitution acceptable to all factions — has not even begun..."Results: Iraqi Constitution drafted and accepted by 78% of the voters.* Madeleine Albright accused... The "coalition," never robust, is shrinking.Reality: There Iraqi Allied Coalition consists of 30 nations. The Afghanistan Coalition consists of 35 nations.Bulgaria announced that it will be sending troops back to Iraq. (February 24, 2006)* John Murtha exaggerated... "Many say that the Army is broken. (Murtha did later, actually!) Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards."Reality: The Army Guard is surpassing its goals and growing in strength despite Rep. Murtha's campaign against military recruitment.And now they say this is a Civil War... We will see.Pajamas Media is covering these missed predictions.Donald Rumsfeld today in the Washington Post had this to say on what we've gained from our three years in Iraq:
Consider that in three years Iraq has gone from enduring a brutal dictatorship to electing a provisional government to ratifying a new constitution written by Iraqis to electing a permanent government last December. In each of these elections, the number of voters participating has increased significantly -- from 8.5 million in the January 2005 election to nearly 12 million in the December election -- in defiance of terrorists' threats and attacks.Ken McCracken at WILLisms asks, "Is the U.S. on the right trajectory for success in Iraq, or not?" and has a few interesting responses (including mine!)Democracy Project explains that democrats may finally have a Defense plan.Volokh Conspiracy notes a grim milestone.
posted by Gateway Pundit at 3/19/2006 05:56:00 AM

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Al Qaeda + Iraq: the new evidence

The key arguments for going to war in Iraq always seemed to me to be two: 1) the need to end Iraq's support for terrorism, of which support for Al Qaeda was only a part; 2) the need to establish a democracy in the Middle East as the only long-run answer to terrorism, and Iraq's strategic position as the keystone in the arch.

With the new release of documents from the Iraqi treasure chest, the case for Iraq's support for terrorism in general and Al Qaeda in particular has been dramatically strengthened.

1) We now know from the internal documents of the regime itself that Iraq was funding Al Qaeda groups in the Philippines, and in Saudi Arabia:

These documents add to the growing body of evidence confirming the Iraqi regime's longtime support for terrorism abroad. The first of them, a series of memos from the spring of 2001, shows that the Iraqi Intelligence Service funded Abu Sayyaf, despite the reservations of some IIS officials. The second, an internal Iraqi Intelligence memo on the relationships between the IIS and Saudi opposition groups, records that Osama bin Laden requested Iraqi cooperation on terrorism and propaganda and that in January 1997 the Iraqi regime was eager to continue its relationship with bin Laden. The third, a September 15, 2001, report from an Iraqi Intelligence source in Afghanistan, contains speculation about the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda and the likely U.S. response to it.

2) We now know also from these same internal documents that Uday Hussein had been tasked with creating the Saddam Fedayeen and using terrorism to strike the West abroad:
The Saddam Fedayeen also took part in the regime's domestic terrorism operations and planned for attacks throughout Europe and the Middle East. In a document dated May 1999, Saddam's older son, Uday, ordered preparations for "special operations, assassinations, and bombings, for the centers and traitor symbols in London, Iran and the self-ruled areas [Kurdistan]." Preparations for "Blessed July," a regime-directed wave of "martyrdom" operations against targets in the West, were well under way at the time of the coalition invasion.
[bold added].

The decision to invade Iraq was an essential part of the war on terror. The challenge now is to make that decision work.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Steve Warshawsky with a must-read post

The Bush Doctrine, RIP? No, but essential reading nonetheless.

A soldier smacks down the DKos Left

After the DKos team was ranting about how General Franks didn't care about his troops, a soldier set them straight:

Ok. Having just spent almost two years in Iraq, I can unequivocally say that most of the posters here are a) full of [Army word], b) hopelessly brainwashed by their professors or the other idiots posting on this site, c) on a serious psychodelic trip that I can only envy, d) all of the above.

The region I was based out of was mainly shi'ite. Working in civil affairs, I spoke to this is a rough guess about 400-500 people. To a MAN, they described a hell on earth that existed before the US intervened. Most of them had relatives that had been tortured or killed or were just plain missing. They had zero rights, zero support, and zero respect from their Sunnit leaders. i think it absolutely sucks that I come home and find ignorance on a grand scale that i never imagined.

AS for our chain of command and the "apparent" lack of concern for casualties, let me tell you that from day one, it was drilled into our brains that we were to take utmost care to make sure that we kept civilian casualties to a minimum. i wasn't there when Franks was in command, but I read the ROEs and memos put out by Franks before I got there, and the common demoninator throughout was - surprise! - safeguard civilians. Thats why we were there. I cannot count the number of times we put ourselves in danger in order to avoid endangering civilians.

A friend of mine over there told me that this was a good site for intelligent debate and discussion. I can see that either he or I was mislead, because after about two weeks of reading this crap, it is apparent that either the server deletes all alternative viewpoints, or those who have alternative viewpoints have given up. Is there anyone here who has any viewpoint other than "Bush lied", or "Franks is a F[******]" (very intelligent, by the way.") just curious, because from what I've read, it appears that you have no idea what has been going on in the world during the last 20 years.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Blair and neoconservativism

From the UK:

Freedom fighter
Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq has its roots in a long tradition of left anti-totalitarianism, argues Oliver Kamm

The late Robin Cook wrote that ‘the judgement of history may be that the invasion of Iraq has been the biggest blunder in British foreign and security policy in the half century since Suez.’ Many – perhaps most – Labour supporters would share Cook’s scepticism about the merits of the war. But his implication that Iraq was an aberration in Tony Blair’s foreign policy was clearly mistaken. The overthrow of theocratic despotism in Afghanistan and Ba’athist tyranny in Iraq is central to Blair’s record. It is part of a distinctive approach that has marked his premiership. That stance represents continuity with the principles of an earlier anti-totalitarian left, and a shrewd strategic judgement of where Britain’s security interests lie in the early 21st century. It is, moreover, sharply at odds with the philosophy and practice of John Major’s government.

It was understandable that, during the general election campaign, Blair tried to shift debate from an unpopular war towards domestic issues, but it makes no sense in the long run to allow the cause of regime change to go by default. The foreign policy of Blair is more than Iraq, but Iraq is how history will judge him, and supporters of the prime minister need to make the case for regime change.

“Making the spread of democracy the cornerstone of foreign policy extends progressive values and at the same time protects our security”
Let us start with what was genuinely the biggest blunder in British foreign policy since Suez. This was Britain’s failure, under a Tory government, to prevent Serb aggression against Bosnia in the early 1990s. Policy at that time consisted of what the historian Brendan Simms has termed a conservative pessimism about the limits to the effective exercise of power in the international order. A mix of quietism and condescension resulted in humanitarian disaster. It also sparked a crisis in transatlantic relations, exemplified in defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind’s contemptuous dismissal of one American politician’s concerns with the words: ‘You Americans don’t know the horrors of war.’ (The politician was Senator Bob Dole, who was nearly killed and permanently disabled in the second world war.)

You cannot understand Blair’s policies in Iraq without that background. Long before 9/11, he took a fundamentally different approach from Major, Rifkind and Douglas Hurd, and not only in declaratory policy. In Kosovo, he confronted Serb aggression rather than acquiesced in it. He also sent British troops to preserve Sierra Leone from hand-lopping rebels, aware both of the demands of liberal internationalism and of the potential for a failed state to become far more than a regional problem. He argued his case long before President Bush came to see the urgency of promoting democracy overseas.

Indeed, as a presidential candidate in 2000, Bush had denounced interventionist ‘nation-building’ and proposed the withdrawal of American commitments in the Balkans. The coincidence of view between a Labour prime minister and a conservative president makes many on the left uncomfortable, but there is no reason that it should. In pursuing regime change, Bush has adopted Blairism, not the other way round.

Of course, there were grievous failures of intelligence over WMD, and the maladministration of post-Ba’athist Iraq has been a scandalous dereliction of duty. But there should be no questioning of the immense benefits to Iraq and to ourselves of overthrowing a gangster regime. Saddam was not responsible for 9/11, but he welcomed it and sought a WMD capability in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions. Ba’athist Iraq did not have stockpiles of WMD, but it did possess dual-use facilities that, according to Charles Duelfer of the Iraq Survey Group, could have produced chemical and biological weapons on a rapid turnaround.

Saddam was a sponsor of terrorism, and the most likely conduit for Islamist groups to obtain WMD. There were clear grounds for expecting Saddam to be a regional menace, and few for expecting him to be containable in the way that the Soviet Union was during the cold war. Soviet leaders were brutal and expansionist, but they were rational and calculating political agents. Saddam launched three wars in 17 years (against Iran in 1974, Iran again in 1980, and Kuwait in 1990) that almost destroyed his regime.

But there is a wider issue in the case for regime change. What marked British policy under Major, and was the principal weakness of US foreign policy in the cold war, was a ‘realism’ that took an impossibly narrow view of western strategic interests. In the Balkans in the 1990s, British policymakers allowed a nation to be dismembered by aggressive and genocidal nationalism. In the cold war, American administrations were prone to ally with authoritarian regimes as a bulwark against communism. Both approaches were far from serving the purposes that realism set itself. What overcame communist totalitarianism in eastern Europe was partly collective security involving alliances and military preparedness. But, at root, it was the power of an idea: the appeal of an open and liberal society, as opposed to a closed and sclerotic one. The task of western governments against a new totalitarian threat – though a very old, atavistic totalitarian idea, in Islamist fanaticism – is similarly to implant the notion of freedom.

The Blair-Bush policy (the names should be in that order, as Blair is the policy’s initiator) understands the limits of realism. In the realist model of the international order, states are often compared to billiard balls. A billiard ball’s internal composition is opaque and unimportant; what matters is how the ball interacts with others on the table. It is a model entirely inappropriate to current foreign policy debates, where, if we are to safeguard our security, we need to engage in the battle of ideas. What serves our security is the spread of liberty, not the balancing of power among competing states. No western statesman has better articulated this case than Blair, and he is right.

After 9/11, commentators immediately sought a ‘root cause’ for the destruction, and alighted upon whatever they had been intellectually exercised with beforehand: poverty, global warming, a Palestinian state, and many others. These issues are urgent challenges in their own right, but they are tangential at best to the task of defeating theocratic barbarism. It was not poverty that drove a group of well-educated and affluent Saudis to slam aeroplanes into office blocks and government buildings that September morning in 2001, but ideology. What animates al-Qaida is not the failings of our societies, but what we exemplify: pluralism, religious liberty, sexual equality and liberalism. We cannot mollify our enemies without abandoning our values, and we would not succeed even then.

In the cold war, the nuclear stand off that had dominated world affairs for two generations was finally robbed of its terror by a transformation in the underlying political relations between states. Totalitarianism gave way to the promise of constitutionalism. Our most urgent task today is to transform a region that has acted as an incubator for religious fanaticism by failing to provide an outlet for any other kind of dissidence. Making the spread of democracy the cornerstone of foreign policy extends progressive values and at the same time protects our security. It is a principle that the overthrow of Saddam has served. Regime change in states that have committed atrocities against captive peoples ought to be the thing of which Labour supporters are proudest.

Oliver Kamm
is author of Anti-Totalitarianism: the Left-wing Case for a Neo-Conservative Foreign Policy

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Gay parenting and child abuse?

From a Catholic blog from Alaska!

With links to a debate between the Family Research Institute and Dr James Dobson.

Is modern war more destructive than ancient war?

The milblogger Neptunus Lex:

From an interesting (unclas) brief I recently received:

(A) World War II Strategic Bomber had a CEP (ed. - circular error probable, a measure of bombing accuracy) of 1,744 ft., which meant it took 2,794 World War II 500 lb. Bombs to kill a point target.
This equates to the full bomb load of 175 B-17 Bombers.
If one equates this to a modern fighter bomber (like the FA-18E/F, not so much the Tomcat) and the 4 precision weapons it carries: The modern fighter bomber works out to be worth 700 World War II B-17s in a strategic bombardment roll.

Better bombs, much better accuracy. The slideshow goes on to state that 1 FA-18E with four precision weapons is the equivalent of 163 F6F Hellcat dive bombers, and carries a striking force equivalent (by itself) of two World War II aircraft carriers.

Which I thought was kind of cool.

Lessons for Iran: What the US should have done in Iraq

One of the great themes of von Clausewitz is the fog of war: the fact that nobody on either side really knows what's going in the mayhem and confusion. The New York Times carries an excellent article today, based on an official US military study of what really happened in the Iraqi War of 2003.

The article is a must-read, but I will offer here three basic lessons that come out of the article:

1. Saddam never feared the US military. Saddam was not impressed by the fact that the US rolled over his army in a matter of hours in the first Gulf War. On the contrary, the fact that the US had failed to pursue him to Baghdad in 1991, the fact that the US pulled back from wiping out the Iraq army when it had the chance, the fact the US allowed him to put down the domestic revolts that followed the war--all this convinced Saddam that the US lacked the will either to inflict or endure high numbers of casualties. These impressions were reinforced by the systematially weak response of the Clinton administration to the Iraqi provocations of the 1990s. As a result, Saddam never thought that the US was serious about war with him, and never seriously considered that he might be overthrown until the US tanks began rolling through Baghdad.

Now the fact that Saddam never feared US might is a failure of US military strategy. The purpose of war is to break the enemy's will to resist, and that means influencing his mind. The point comes up regularly in discussions of Reagan's Star Wars proposal and the end of the Cold War: nobody knows if Star Wars would have worked in practice, but the Russians feared that it would, and hence it played a key role in why the Russians caved in to the West.

The same principle applies to the Middle East--Middle Eastern dictators do not think like cool-headed graduates of Western war colleges: if you want to prove to Middle Eastern dictators that you're serious about war, you don't bomb empty buildings in Baghdad, and call it "Shock and Awe". You have to slaughter large numbers of his troops in a manner that shows that you will stop at nothing to remove him from power. Anything less than this simply convinces him that you lack the will to fight and win a serious war. Which is what happened to the US in dealing with
Saddam Hussein.

2. Unafraid of the Americans, Saddam Hussein's greatest fear was his own people. Up until the very end, Saddam Hussein was terrified most of a Shiite uprising in the south of Iraq. Saddam Hussein had little fear that the Americans would do any serious killing. The Shiites were another story. Hussein refused to blow up bridges that would have slowed down the US advance because he feared he would need those bridges later to put down a Shiite uprising. His Fedayeen were needed as much to launch a counterattack against the Shiites as against the Americans. The New York Times article goes into this in stunning detail.

3. The US should have tried the Shahristani approach before we went to war. Hussein al-Shahristani is an Iraqi physicist who was in exile after being tortured by Saddam Hussein (picture above). Strongly supportive of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, he did not think an invasion by American troops was the right tool to achieve that. In an interview with Newsweek he said:

Why did you oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq? I was supporting the removal of Saddam from power but I did not think an all-out war on Iraq was the best way of doing that. I would have liked to see the Iraqi people helped to free themselves from Saddam by declaring southern Iraq as a safe haven the way the northern part of the country was. That would have sent the right signal to the Iraqi people and it would not have taken a week before the whole southern part of the country would be free. Then we would not have to face an occupying army in the country and create friction between the local population and the occupation forces.

I first ran into the Shahristani view in 2004, a year after the war. As a strong supporter of the War in Iraq, I've been convinced ever since I read the interview that we should have at least tried the Shahristani approach before we sent in the troops. Today's New York Times article, documenting in detail Saddam Hussein's fear of his domestic enemies, strongly suggests that Shahristani was correct.

The point of this is not to engage in post-war breast-beating. The point is that we are facing a rather similar decision in Iran. The ayatollahs fear us even less than Saddam Hussein did: after all, the ayatollahs humiliated us in the hostage crisis of 1979, and they have seen little in our invasion of Iraq to suggest that anything has changed. The ayatollahs think they can survive any air strikes; they think the option of invasion is a joke given the insurgency in Iraq. But the ayatollahs do however fear their own people, again similar to Saddam Hussein.

If we link these points to the counsel of Sharistani, it suggests this: Rather than having only two military options for Iran, invasion or airstrikes, the Shahristani model indicates a third: create one or more safe-havens in Iran, enforced by a no-fly zone, for the domestic enemies of the Ayatollahs.

The Iranian government is highly unpopular at home, and StrategyPage reports that regional governments think they will soon be out of power. These regional governments might be wrong, but the internal revolution strategy is clearly the strategy that needs to be tried first.

Edward N. Luttwak notes that the ayatollahs fear their people with good reason:

Iran's minorities each resist the Persian-dominated central government. Just in the last month, guerrillas of Baluch nationality kidnapped soldiers in southeast Iran. Arabs of Khuzistan province next to Iraq detonated bombs in Ahwaz, and Kurds clashed with the rural police...

The Kurds, who account for about 9% of the population, have been encouraged by the example of virtual Kurdish independence in Iraq next door. Their demands for autonomy are becoming more forceful, and something of an insurgency seems to have started...

Smaller nationalities that are known to be disaffected because of recent examples of violent resistance include the Arabs at 3% of Iran's population and the Baluch at 2%. Little is known of the intensity of the national sentiments of the Turkmen and Lurs (2% each), and still less of the Gilaki and Mazandarani (8% in all), who may be politically more assimilated simply because they speak Persian dialects.

Along with the Kurds, all the smaller nationalities amount to only a quarter of Iran's population; but Turkic-speaking Azeris add another 24% all by themselves. Many Azeri families in Tehran especially are believed to be thoroughly assimilated, but the more numerous Azeris farther north are not, and national revival and separatist groups have become increasingly active among them. Since Azerbaijan just across the border gained its independence from the Soviet Union, the Azeris have a national home of their own, and it is not Iran.

Given the fact that, as Luttwak points out, Iran is an empire like the former Soviet Union, not a nation-state, there is a long list of ethnic groups, comprising nearly half the population, who would might rally if the US created a safe haven for them.

The Shahristani model could come in principle in a range of variants from creating one or multiple safe-havens on the one hand, to extending a no-fly zone over the entire country and declaring that the US will give military support to any group that overthrows the regime (parallel in effect to our success in Afghanistan).

The key points here are that diplomacy is not going to stop the Iranians from building a nuclear weapon, and the US responses are not limited to invasion or air strikes. In the face of a country already one step away from revolution, the intelligent use of US airpower has the potential to push the country over the brink.

Moreover: it is quite likely that internal revolution is what the ayatollahs fear most. If American public debate focusses on the use of a no-fly zone to create an internal revolution, the ayatollahs are more likely to fear that than air strikes (which they can ride out) or an invasion (which they don't think is a threat given the situation in Iraq).

A no-fly zone then might well be the right answer to an Iranian terrorist regime seeking nuclear weapons. And if it failed, all the other options would still remain on the table.

Aristotle and Duty

A great post over at Grim's Hall:

The Overpraising of Dissent:
I'm going to write a bit more about happiness and ethics. This post picks up where yesterday's left off.

Yesterday's post considered the possibility that ethics includes a "duty to unhappiness" -- that our inherited biological reasons for feeling happy must often be set aside in order to be a good citizen. I cited the example of Socrates, whose devotion to the pursuit of truth led to his execution. This tradition of dissent and its protection, informed by the examples of both Socrates and Jesus, is at the core of Western culture.

Yet I think it is very much possible to overpriase dissent -- and on reflection, I think it's necessary to explore that idea as well. The duty is to set aside happiness in favor of good citizenship, not to pursue your own happiness in favor of what society needs. It is the case, furthermore, that personal happiness must be set aside for the survival and prosperity of the nation.

The best way to explore this is by beginning with the problem posed by Aristotle: that he said, and I have always believed, that happiness is the goal of ethics. How, then, can there be a duty to be unhappy in ethics?

Read it all!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

After South Dakota: a workable plan to reverse Roe

[Picture: a beautiful colour ultrasound of a fetus yawning--this behaviour has been identified as early as 11 weeks through colour ultrasound.]

South Dakota's recent move to ban all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother has many pro-lifers concerned.

And with good reason.

Barring some change in the US Supreme Court, the South Dakota law is DOA when it gets to DC. There simply aren't five votes right now to reverse Roe outright.

There might, however, be a way to accomplish the functional equivalent of reversing Roe without going the South Dakota route. But it requires paying some attention to the Supreme Court and the key swing vote: Anthony M Kennedy.

There are three key things to realize about Kennedy: 1) He's not willing to reverse Roe outright, and he made that clear in the 1990s with Casey v. Planned Parenthood. 2) He is willing to uphold laws that do not constitute an "undue burden" on a woman's right to choose. He thought the ban on partial birth abortion (PBA) was fully consistent with Casey, and was furious with his colleagues for not agreeing with him. 3) Kennedy places a very high emphasis on international law as a guide to Supreme Court decisions.

Combined, these points suggest a strategy for a law that stands a good chance of picking up Kennedy's vote.

For starters, let's take a look at some basic international abortion statistics. The following are all from 1996 (the latest international data). The abortion rate is the number of women per 1000 women between the ages of 15-44 who have an abortion in any given year. The abortion percentage is the estimated percentage of pregnancies that end in abortion.

United States: rate: 22.9. Percent: 25.9. Law: legal through viability.
Belgium------rate: 6.8. Percent: 11.2 --illegal after 12 weeks. Mandatory counseling.
Finland-------rate: 10.0. Percent: 14.7 --illegal after 12 weeks. Informed consent.
Germany----rate: 7.6. Percent: 14.1 --illegal after 12 weeks. Mandatory counseling.
Ireland------rate: 5.9. Percent: 8.9 --illegal except for life of mother.
Netherlands--rate: 6.5. Percent: 10.6 --illegal after 13 weeks. Mandatory counseling
Spain---------rate: 5.7. Percent: 12.6 --illegal w/o 2 MDs certifying it necessary for life/health.
Switzerland---rate: 8.4. Percent: 13.3 --illegal w/o 2 MDs: easy or hard in some cantons.

What should be clear here is that the US abortion percentage is quite high relative to key European countries. It's also clear that many European countries have much more restrictive abortion laws. In particular, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands all ban abortion after 12-13 weeks (or put sharp limitations on it), and all have programs of mandatory counseling for any woman who seeks an abortion. These nations have abortion percentages of 11-14%, sharply lower than the 26% American abortion percentag.

What we need then is a European model law that would ban abortion after the first 12 weeks (unless necessary for the life of the mother) combined with a mandatory counseling program for any woman seeking an abortion.

Why would this stand a good chance of picking up Kennedy's support? For four reasons: first, one could make a strong a priori argument that 12 weeks is ample time for a woman to make a decision about abortion; hence banning abortion after that time would not constitute an "undue burden" on the woman's right to choose. Second, the fact that several European countries have laws quite similar to this would make a powerful case to Kennedy that this rule of law has widespread international support. Third, the fact only about 11% of US abortions take place after 12 weeks suggests that banning these abortions would not be an undue burden for the overwhelming majority of US women. Fourth, the rise of colour ultrasound has dramatically changed public perceptions of abortion, so one can reasonably argue that banning abortion after 12 weeks is in keeping with the evolving ethical standards of the American people.

Banning 11% of abortions is not as much as pro-lifers would like to do for the pro-life cause. But since reducing abortion by 11% would mean saving over 100,000 lives, this would still mean dramatic progress.

But more: coupled with a strong mandatory counseling program, the reduction in US abortions might be even more dramatic. There's no reason in principle why the US abortion rate couldn't be cut in half: reducing the current 26% rate to a more European 11-14% rate would be a major step in the right direction.

The strength of this as a legal strategy is that one could achieve this without ever needing to argue for a formal reversal of Roe. If, for example, Ohio adopted such a law, the state attorney general would not need to argue for the reversal of Roe or even Casey: one would merely ask the Court to find that a 12 week limit on abortions does not constitute an "undue burden" on the woman's right to choose. In effect, we would ask the Court do here something similar to what the Court did in Casey. In Casey, the Court dropped Roe's trimester framework, but upheld Roe, claiming that the viability criterion was the real heart of Roe, and that the trimester framework could be readily jettisoned. Here we would argue that the heart of Casey is the "undue burden" test, and that Casey's attachment to the viability criterion can be jettisoned with reversing Casey.

If the Court agreed, then Roe would be reversed in all but name. With the trimester framework dead and the viability criterion discarded, Roe would then be but the painting of a law, a face without a heart.

Such a move would of course send the pro-choice movement into spasms of hysteria. But it is very unlikely that the American people would share that hysteria. Roe would still be legally on the books. And most Americans would find little threatening in a ruling that left the right to choose intact as long as it was not unduly burdened. The very hysteria coming from the anti-Roe forces would serve to further alienate them from the American mainstream.

Note that this is a very different reaction than could be expected currently if the Supreme Court upholds South Dakota. Few Americans are currently prepared to support a pro-life law as broad as South Dakota's. If the Supreme Court upholds South Dakota, it can count on a very strong backlash, one whose political impact might threaten to undo or severely limit the gains of reversing Roe.

Certainly, there can be no guarantee that Kennedy would uphold a European model abortion law. But since a European model abortion law would not threaten Roe directly, it stands a much better chance of being upheld than South Dakota. What we need is for some state legislature to pass a law this summer along these lines, and put the strategy to a test.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Prohibition worked!

Here's a message from the DEA to make Eliot Ness smile:

A word about prohibition: lots of you hear the argument that alcohol prohibition failed—so why are drugs still illegal? Prohibition did work. Alcohol consumption was reduced by almost 60% and incidents of liver cirrhosis and deaths from this disease dropped dramatically (Scientific American, 1996, by David Musto). Today, alcohol consumption is over three times greater than during the Prohibition years. Alcohol use is legal, except for kids under 21, and it causes major problems, especially in drunk driving accidents.

Hmm. This is surely overstated, but it does drive home a point: a law can be politically unsuccessful, yet still have quite impressive positive effects. While these might not be enough to justify the law, it reinforces the point that making something illegal does reduce its incidence--even if it doesn't eliminate it entirely.

The principle is applicable to whole range of issues from drug legalization to abortion rights. It's a good idea to post this point as a square yellow post-it note somewhere in the corner of your mind.

Democratic revolution: Iran

Michael Ledeen, perhaps our most impressive Western expert on Iran (H/T: RegimeChangeIran):

Why regime change is the only choice:On Monday, ABC News broadcast a story about the discovery of very powerful bombs--the so-called IEDs--sent from Iran into Iraq.

"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," said Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."

Inevitably, there are still those who believe that somehow our differences can be reconciled, and we can yet reach a modus vivendi with the Islamic Republic. I wish they were right, but the Iranians' behavior proves otherwise. Religious fanatics of the sort that rule Iran do not want a deal with the devil. They want us dominated or dead. There is no escape from their hatred, or from the war they have waged against us. We can either win or lose, but no combination of diplomatic demarches, economic sanctions, and earnest negotiations, can change that fatal equation. They will either defeat us, or perish. And that is their decision, not ours. We have yet to engage.

Why it can work: The demographics certainly seem to favor radical change: roughly 70% of Iranians are twenty-nine years old or less. We know from the regime's own public opinion surveys that upwards of 73% of the people would like a freer society and a more democratic government, and they constantly demonstrate their hatred of the regime in public protests, in the blogosphere in both Farsi (the internet's fourth most popular language) and English, in strikes (the most recent of which is the ongoing action by the Tehran bus drivers' union), and from time to time in violent acts against officials on the ground. The regime's reaction is violent and ruthless, but the protests continue, and there is good reason to believe that the mullahs are extremely worried.

Read the whole thing!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

100% Right

National Review on-line thinks that South Dakota's abortion ban will set back the pro-life movement. They're right.

Police assault Iranian women

From Kosoof:

A group of about 130 women’s rights activists who gathered in Deneshjoo Park in central Tehran to celebrate International Women’s Day were brutally beaten by the police. As soon as the program started with distributing some brochures and chanting Iran’s women’s movement song, the police informed the attendants that their gathering is illegal and they should leave the premises. Then the police started beating men and women present in Daneshjoo Park and the program was ended. Simin Behbahani, the Iranian elderly famous poet was among the people who have been beaten.

According to Atricle 27 of Islamic Republic of Iran’s Constitution, public gatherings and marches may be freely held, provided arms are not carried and that they are not detrimental to the fundamental principles of Islam

The Networks' war on democracy in Iraq

Pierce Wetter has a superb post on the effect of the media on the war in Iraq (H/T: Instapundit):

Prior to the Iraq War coverage, the local television coverage was the most despicable thing I had ever seen the media do. Does the LAPD bear some blame for the riots? Yes. Does Rodney King? Yes.
But for me, the lion's share of the blame falls on the local television stations in LA. The behavior of both Rodney King and the LAPD was terrible, and the verdict, well, it was the verdict. But I truly don't think there would have been riots if the media hadn't intentionally fanned the flames. 50-60 people died in those riots. I lay those deaths to a large extent at the door of the LA media, yes.
Last week, I saw the media chant:
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
Is there going to be a civil war?
They could have just as easily asked:
So, when are you guys going to work it out?

Pretty much spot on. War, as von Clausewitz put it, is about breaking the enemy's will to resist. Television coverage inevitably influences how people perceive events. And that in turn affects the will. If television networks repeat every day, America can't win, there's going to be a civil war; sooner or later the prophecy stands an excellent chance of coming true. You can persuade the Iraqis to revolt, and you can persuade Americans to quit.

The result is pictured graphically in the American evacuation of Saigon in 1975. The key turning point had been the Tet offensive of 1968. Despite the fact that it resulted in a devastating defeat for the Viet Cong, the American televison networks played it as a defeat for America; and from then on the American objective was never to win the war in Vietnam, but to quit as rapidly as possible.

This was summed up perfectly by a great milblog:
Years after the war in Vietnam ended, American Colonel Harry Summers once told a North Vietnamese Colonel that the U.S. never lost a battle in Vietnam. The Vietnamese Colonel responded saying, "That is true. It is also irrelevant."

Winning the war in Iraq means being tougher at home than the Vietnam generation was. It means not allowing the press to create a defeat. It means insisting on the truth despite the fog of war--and the fog of propaganda created by the press.

American soldiers are winning. It's the American press we need to worry about.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Pro-choice in the City: why NYC needs a strong counseling law

It's no surprise that in NYC, as in the rest of America, women seeking abortion are mostly unmarried: 80% single with about 20% married (the only exception of note here is Mormon Utah, where nearly 40% of abortions are sought by married women.)

In 1995, only 37.1 % of New York City abortions were for women having an abortion for the first time. Over 60% of abortions were for women having their second abortion (or more). 28.6% of NYC abortions were for women having their second abortion. 17.3% were for women having their third abortion. 15.8% were for women having their fourth abortion (or more). These second abortions are less "choices" than acts of desperation by women who fear their lives are slipping out of countrol; they are excellent candidates for a strong counseling program.

If the rest of the country was more moderate than NYC, the evidence was nonetheless troubling: nationally, only 54% of abortions are done on women having their first abortion. 26.4% are for women having their second abortion. 10.7 % are for women having their third abortion. 6.7 % are for women having their fourth abortion or more. If all second abortions in the US could be eliminated, the rate of abortion would drop by about half.

Women seeking abortion typically already have have given birth at least once before. In NYC, only 32.6% had no previous live births. 28.1% had one; 20.9% had two; 9.2% had three; 5.9 had four or more. Nationally, only 44.6% had no previous live births. 26.2% had one; 17.8% had two; 6.7% had three; 3.4% had four or more. We don't have breakdowns by married and single women, but since 80% of women seeking abortion are single, the overall picture is troubling.

I suspect that when most Americans think of abortion, they think of a college age white woman without children seeking a means of dealing with an unfortunate failure of contraception. The actual picture is quite different. Women seeking abortion are usually unmarried, and have often had both previous abortions and previous children out of wedlock. Their seeking abortion is part of a pattern of lives in deep pain and emotional disarray.

This suggests again the wisdom of a strong mandatory counseling law along German lines. These are women in serious need of help, and with proper intervention the rate of abortions in the United States could be dramatically reduced; judging by the German experience, perhaps as much as 60-80%.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The German model and the new pro-life push

The new colour ultrasound technology has been a key reason for the new round of pro-life progress.

In Britain, the hard left Guardian reports:

Stuart Campbell, former head of obstetrics at King's College Hospital, says striking new images from ultrasound scans that allow doctors to view babies inside the womb have convinced him the normal 24-week legal limit for terminations should be reassessed.
"The more I study foetuses the more I find it quite distressing to terminate babies who are so advanced in terms of human behaviour," he said.

"For normal babies being terminated for social reasons it's probably unacceptable nowadays to be terminating them much after 14 weeks. They can suck their thumbs, they can open their eyes, they can perform complex movements. I think it's time we got our act together."

In the US, President Bush's appointment of two new conservative justices have further emboldened pro-life legislators. South Dakota seeks to ban all abortions except those necessary to save the life of the mother.

Yesterday I tried to explain why the next round of pro-life legislation should rather follow the German model. Glenn Reynolds has also suggested a more European approach.

Two years after Roe v Wade, the German Supreme Court addressed abortion in a very different manner than the US (decision and translation here).

The key points are:

The legislature implemented a system of mandatory counseling which has as one of its goals to present the case that the developing unborn child is an independent human life. However, no legal sanction is applied in the first 3 months of pregnancy if the counseling is completed and the abortion is performed.... Some abortions are therefore de facto legal. A significant number still occur, but the incidence per capita is about one-fifth that of the United States.

The legislature is allowed to institute a counseling system designed to discourage women from the abortion, and the result is an abortion rate only about 20% of the US.

So why does this make sense here?

1. 45% of US abortions are on women who've already had at least one previous previous abortion. So there is a very high chance (70-80%?) that a woman who has one abortion will be back for a second. In other words, women having abortions have very serious issues that strongly commend the wisdom of comprehensive counseling by the state.

2. Counseling can dramatically reduce abortion. As noted above, the German rate is about 20% of the American rate. Counseling is essential for those 45% of American abortions that are second abortions. But mandatory counseling can also help prevent abortions in the first place because it sends a clear message that abortion is not a just another form of birth control.

3. A German-style counseling law has a good chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and (to a lesser degree) Justice Breyer have both indicated that they take seriously international jurisprudence as a means of informing US Supreme Court decisions. That principle is very controversial among American scholars. But the reality for pro-lifers is that both men sit on the Supreme Court and that one or both of their votes is needed for a bill to pass constitutional muster. A German-style counseling law has an excellent chance of winning their approval; a South Dakota-style ban on all abortions except those necessary to save the mother's life doesn't.

A strong counseling bill on the German model would not directly reverse Roe v Wade since it does not challenge Roe's trimester framework. Since it does not explicitly ban abortion, it would be dramatically less controversial with the American public. But it might well pass muster with the US Supreme Court, and help save a lot of lives.

For suggestions as to what kinds of issues should be included in the bill, see this.
UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link!
UPDATE 2: I checked the Alan Guttmacher Institute figures on abortion in Germany and the US. These figures give the rate of abortion per thousand women age 15-44 and the ratio of abortion as a percentage of known pregnancies. AGI gives for Germany a rate of 7.6 vs 22.9 in the US for the year 1996; meaning that Germany's abortion rate is about 1/3 of the American rate. The ratio is 14.1 for Germany and 25.9 for the US for 1996; meaning that the German abortion ratio is about 40% lower. Both of these figures are less impressive than those cited in the source above, but the basic point remains unchanged: abortion in Germany is much less frequent than in the US. Exactly how much of this can be attributed to abortion policies would take some serious regression analysis. But it's not unreasonable to think that the differing legal framework is an important factor.
UDATE 3: For some strong reasons why mandatory counseling is an urgent need, see the evidence here.

Winning in Iraq: the metrics

Something not covered in today's Washington Post story: We're winning.

The chart on the right contains the stats on US military fatalities in Iraq of the last few months.

The chart was put together by Pierce Wetter. (HT: Instapundit).

We're working with pretty much the same data and coming to pretty much the same conclusions. I gave additional statistics to support the same conclusion over the weekend.

This is the chart for Iraqi police deaths--down substantially.

And this is the chart for Iraqi civilian deaths.

I would add one important caveat on this: some of this is cyclical. The Iraqi insurgents have usually reduced their attacks in the winter, and picked up in the spring/summer starting in April. In my post on this I emphasized year over year figures to help mitigate the influence of climate on these statistics.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Life after Roe?

Roe v Wade is doomed to be reversed for the simple reason that the decision was scientifically wrong, and the rise of color ultrasound is slowly unraveling the political and legal basis for its support. When mothers can now see their child's heartbeat while still in the womb, it becomes more and more difficult to justify slicing the child to pieces through partial birth abortion.

The US Supreme Court now probably has five votes to reverse partial birth abortion: Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas--and Anthony Kennedy as the decisive fifth.

But Kennedy is unlikely to join a reversal of Roe v Wade altogether. Kennedy's nickname while a Court of Appeals judge was "Flipper", and it's not impossible that he would support a reversal. But the likelihood is that he will not, and that means that South Dakota's push to ban abortion (except when the life of the mother is at stake) most likely will not succeed.

A better strategy would be to take seriously a problem with American abortion that more moderate pro-choice people might sympathize with.

We might begin with this chart:
1.3 million--US abortion deaths in 2004 (est)
700,000--US heart disease deaths
560,000--US cancer deaths
107,000--US deaths in accidents
30,000--US suicides
20,000-US homicides
15-17,500--civilian deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war
14,000--US AIDS/HIV deaths
2200--US military deaths in Iraq since the beginning of the war
59--death penalty executions in the US 2004

The chart indicates the enormous loss of life through abortions relative to most of the other issues that currently engage the Republic's political attention. But then add these two sets of facts:

Previous abortion: 1975: 18% yes. 2000: 45% yes.
Illegitimacy rate: 1975: 24.5%. 2000: 44%

Roe v. Wade is strongly correlated with an increase in illegitimacy in the US (24-->44%!). Roe has also become a routine form of birth control for the irresponsible and the careless. 55% of abortions in the US are performed on women seeking an abortion for the first time. 45% of abortions are for women having their second or third abortion (or worse!). This suggests that perhaps 70-80% of women who have one abortion will be back for a second or third.

And on any view of abortion, that should be a scandal.

What should be done?

Most nations in the world have much more restrictive abortion laws than the US. In Germany in particular, there are very strict counseling requirements for any woman who seeks an abortion. If American law is to learn from the wisdom of our European counterparts, then there is every reason to seek in the US counseling laws that would identify why the woman was having the abortion, address the problem, and take steps to make sure there was no second abortion. Such a law would not end all abortions, but it might well end about half of them, and that would be an enormous step forward under the current regime.

A strong counseling law would address the issues of:

1) Does the woman understand and have access to birth control?
2) Does she have an alcohol problem? (A very good question for college students becoming pregnant after getting drunk at a party.)
3) Does she suffer from depression?
4) Does she suffer from self-esteem issues or other psychological problems that led to the pregnancy?
5) Is the woman in an abusive relationship?
6) Was the pregnancy due to incest?
7) Does she fear that she lacks financial resources to carry the child to term?
8) Is she fully aware of the option of adoption and the large number of couples seeking to adopt?
9) Is she aware of the scientific evidence of fetal development?
10) Has she seen an ultrasound of her child? (About 70% of women who see an ultrasound of their child choose to carry the child to term.)

A strong counseling law, modeled on the German experience, would likely lead to large reductions in American abortion rates. Strong counseling should be able to prevent a very high percentage of second abortions. And the very knowledge that counseling was a necessary requirement for abortion would encourage a higher level of seriousness and responsibility within American culture as a whole.

It would also have a very good chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court. This is in part because relatively mild counseling laws have been upheld under the Casey decision of 1992. But this is also because Anthony Kennedy, the key 5th vote, has made international law central to his understanding of the US Constitution.

Now there are very severe problems with what Kennedy has done with the Constitution using foreign law. But whatever one thinks of his work, pro-life leaders would be well-advised to write challenges to Roe that can be rationalized under his framework. For Kennedy is now the decisive swing vote on abortion, and without his support no move toward a more pro-life Constitution can succeed.

A final advantage is that a strong counseling law would be much less controversial with the American people than a ban on abortion as broad as South Dakota seeks. As tragic as abortion is, a wise pro-life movement will follow the path cut out by the NAACP in the legal strategy that led to the end of segregation: to move carefully, cautiously, step by step.

Good news from Iraq: hard facts for pessimists

The historic elections of January 2005 can be seen to have produced a fundamental shift in the war in Iraq.

The following statistics are taken mostly from the invaluable monthly Brookings Institute reports.

The Bad News:
1. Daily attacks are up: from 19 in December 2003 to 52 in December 2004 to 75 in December 2005.
2. US military deaths overall have not declined: 486 in 2003; 848 in 2004; 846 in 2005.
3. Multiple fatality bombings are up: from 29 in winter 2004 to 56 in winter 2005 to 92 in winter 2006 (winter calculated as Nov/Dec/Jan).

The Good News:
1. Successful daily attacks are down sharply: from about 25-30% in December of 2004 to about 10% in December of 2005.
2. US wounded are down sharply: The Iraqi insurgency was relatively limited from March 2003 through March 2004. In April 2004 the insurgency gained dramatically in strength with casualties running 323 for that month and peaking at 1397 in November 2004 during the battle of Fallujah. They gone down steadily since then, and in the last four months casualties have dropped from 618 in October 2004 to 259 in January 2006. The casualty figures of 259 for January 2006 are the lowest for any month since the insurgency exploded in April 2004.
3. Iraqi police and military fatalities are down sharply: they ran 109 in January 2005, and the Iraqi armed forces saw their fatalities peak in July of that summer at 304. They have dropped steadily since then to 190 in January 2006.
4. Car bombings have been cut sharply: from 136 in May 2005 to 30 in December 2005.
5. Attacks on Iraqi oil and gas infrastructure are down sharply: from 60 in winter 2005 to 11 in winter 2006 (Nov/Dec/Jan).
6. Hostile fire deaths are down sharply: in the ten months from April 2004 through the elections of 2005, Americans suffered 458 deaths; or 45.8 deaths per month to mortar, rocket propelled grenades, snipers, and other hostile fire (apart from helicopters). In the twelve months since the elections (Feb 2005 to Jan 2006), Americans have suffered 196 deaths from hostile fire; or 16.3 deaths per month.

[Helicopter deaths are excluded in the above figures, although these are encouraging as well: Helicopter losses due to enemy fire were 5 per month during the liberation of Iraq; 4.5 per month under the CPA; 0.2 per month during the revolt; and 0.8 per month since the January 2005 elections. It's possible that the insurgency has gotten better at targeting our helicopters since the elections, but it hasn't produced a serious impact on fatality statistics.]

We can break the war into four phases based on hostile fire deaths:
Phase I: Liberation of Iraq--March/April 2003: 49 deaths per month.
Phase II: CPA occupation--May 2003/March 2004: 12.4 deaths per month.
Phase III: Revolt--April 2004/January 2005: 45.7 deaths per month.
Phase IV: Democracy--February 2005/Jan 2006: 16.3 deaths per month.

In sum, these figures imply a very different account of the field of battle than the nightly television reports. They suggest that since the elections of January 2005 things have not gone well for the insurgency. The insurgents appear increasingly to be getting swept out of their areas of operations, and seem to be having a very difficult time getting American soldiers in their gunsights. The basic thing that has kept them on the nightly news are the IEDs (the improvised explosive devices). Although fewer of these are going off, the ones that do go off have greater power, hence the rise in multiple fatality bombings coupled with the decline in car bombings overall.

The trendlines on this don't look good for the enemy at all. More Iraqi soldiers are in the field, and the enemy has had a decreasing ability to inflict its will on the new Iraqi army; hence the declining fatality figures for the Iraqis. The insurgency since the January 2005 elections has shown a declining capability to fight Iraqi soldiers or American soldiers or even to attack fixed installations.

In other words: they're losing.

The analysis above basically agrees with what regular readers of Strategy Page have been getting there.

Does this mean that the war will soon be over? No. The Democrats are running for Congress on a policy of immediate withdrawal; and enemies of democracies design their attacks for maximum political impact in election years (see the Madrid bombings of 2004 in Spain). The Democratic campaign platform guarantees a major summer/fall offensive in Iraq designed to convince Americans to quit in Iraq and give the terrorists the victory. They will be helped in this by the 85% Democratic networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC who will slant the coverage of the attacks in a way designed to convince the American people that the war in Iraq is hopeless.

Clausewitz pointed on in On War that winning a war is not ultimately about killing soldiers, but breaking the enemy's will to resist. Americans can lose if they choose to believe the reports from ABC, CBS & NBC rather than our soldiers in the field.

Rather they can follow Tom Paine: These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

Postscript: A few other points should be added. The total number of American deaths as of January 2006 is 2241. 18% of these are not combat related. 40% of the deaths are hostile fire-related (apart from helicopter deaths at 6%). The remaining 36% of US deaths are due to IEDs (31%) and car bombs (5%).

Postscript 2: I'd be grateful for comments on this post by some of the milbloggers. And I'm embarrassed to say that I wanted to include a graph here, but I could not figure out how to import Excel graphs into Blogger. Any help?