Thursday, September 29, 2005

Spitting On Your Grave

The controversial International Freedom Center (IFC), a facility dedicated to articulating a particular view of multiculturalism, was removed from site which it wanted to occupy at the World Trade Center Memorial. According to the Washington Post:

Bowing to pressure from Sept. 11 families, Gov. George Pataki on Wednesday removed a proposed freedom center from the space reserved for it near the planned World Trade Center memorial, saying the museum project had aroused "too much opposition, too much controversy." ... International Freedom Center officials said in a statement that they did not believe there was a viable location for their museum elsewhere at the site. "We consider our work, therefore, to have been brought to an end," they said.

The New York Times was not happy with the outcome, casting it as unreasonable capriciousness on the part of Governor Pataki.

But the notion of a freedom museum was one of the earliest elements considered for ground zero. And it was one the governor endorsed. In an April 2002 blueprint for downtown, the development corporation said one possibility was "a new museum dedicated to American freedom, tolerance and the values that the World Trade Center represented," referring to a proposal by Tom A. Bernstein, the president of Chelsea Piers, and Peter W. Kunhardt, a documentary filmmaker. ...

Now the question is what else in the master plan is open for revision. If ground zero is too hallowed for a freedom museum, how much longer will a performing arts center be considered appropriate? Or a million square feet of retail space? Or four office towers? Especially if one of them is named Freedom.

Nowhere in the article does the NYT say why the September 11 families clamored for revision; it happened after Debra Burlingame, sister of the pilot of one of the hijacked planes and a director of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation

drew attention to behind-the-scenes plans to host exhibitions at the complex devoted to such issues as the genocide of native Americans, the fight against slavery, the Holocaust and the Gulag, instead of the bravery and dignity of nearly 3,000 victims of the Al-Qaeda suicide squads. It will also be the site of academic symposiums on the foundations of freedom, providing a “magnet” to activists and academics to debate the US “domestic and foreign policy they despise”, she said. An early design for the cultural centre included a large mural of an Iraqi voter. But in a sign of things to come, said Burlingame, this was replaced by a photograph of Martin Luther King, the murdered civil rights leader, with President Lyndon Johnson.

According to Michelle Malkin, the moving spirits behind the IFC were Michael Posner, Anthony Romero, Eric Foner and George Soros. If the International Freedom Center had been built it would have been the companion to the Crescent of Embrace, the proposed memorial to the Flight 93 victims in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

The effort illustrates the extraordinary importance that the Left places on the control of symbols. By preference, a good Marxist symbol should represent the very opposite of its counterpart in reality because its foremost goal, in common with unscrupulous Mesmerists, is to emasculate the mind. It was no accident that in Orwell's 1984, that the Ministries of War, Rationing, Propaganda and Repression were called the Ministries of Peace, Plenty, Truth and Love by the Party. Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a book on Orwell, has not forgotten the penchant for inversion. In Anti-War, My Foot, featured in Slate, Hitchens criticized the NYT's characterization of Ramsey Clark and his adherents as "anti-war". If they were anything, they were its opposite.

The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across "International ANSWER," the group run by the "Worker's World" party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the "resistance" in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the génocidaires in Rwanda. ...

To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the [Serb] ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh.

But that's Hitchens. To the newspaper reader who gets no further than the first paragraph of any story, the recent demonstrations in Washington will forever be about high minded advocates of peace fighting the dark forces of war. Yet it makes one wonder: if inversions are the rule, what then did the International Freedom Center truly wish to memorialize at Ground Zero? Don't make me laugh.


Blogger gmat said...

The bigger question is why would anyone want to erect ANY kind of "memorial" at a place where they got their ass whipped so bad? Completely baffles me, just like the Pearl Harbor shrine.

If you want to build a memorial, build one at the site of bin Laden's public execution.

9/29/2005 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger kstagger said...

If only more on the Left would read Hitchens piece. My own (retired) anti-war mother went to Washington before the 'protests' to attend a 'Peace Conference'. The purpose of the conference? To try to lobby for the creation of a 'Peace Department'. My mother is a good natured and kind person, but can't see the Anti-Semitic, or anti-U.S. forces at work behind the curtain.

Needless to say, we have some interesting dinner conversations.

9/29/2005 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Perhaps we should make more use of parentheses, as in:
Students for a Democratic Society (Just Not In South Vietnam),
The American (Highly Selective) Civil Liberties Union, The Democratic (In Name Only) Party, International ANSWER (But Don’t Ask Too Many Questions), The People’s (But Not Many Of Them) Republic of China (And Whatever Else We Can Get Our Hands On), The City of New Orleans (And The Federal Government When Things Get Rough), The Federal Emergency Management Agency (And Department of Bailing Out Inept Politicians), etc.

9/29/2005 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

And year after year, Europeans continue to think they are somehow being smarter than Americans as they fall for this stuff.

Sorry for this cheap shot at Europeans, but in this globalized world some of us have to deal with them on a daily basis.

9/29/2005 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The idea proposed by Mr. Trump, I think, to rebuild the Towers as they were, only bigger and better, would create the best Memorial.

I think that would be the best way to both celebrate freedom and honor those murdered on 9-11.

It is a shame that ground has not yet been broken on whatever building will replace the Towers.

Just another sign of US impotence for the Mohammedan Jihadists to exploit.

9/29/2005 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

Kudos to Pataki for acting at last to end the charade.

The NYT piece will only be the beginning of the wails from the Left about "censorship" and "McCarthyism", another fine use of inversion, especially when spouted by Left-wing university professors at Columbia who do their best to enforce norms of "social justice" on campus.

9/29/2005 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...

Forget about the inversions of "the left", that oh so convenient strawman. Whatever "the left" may actually consist of, it has no power.

I'm more concerned about the inversions of those actually leading (if you can call it that) the so-called Global War on Terror. The fact is, four years after 9/11, it is still more dangerous, even in Iraq, let alone the rest of the arab world, to be pro-American than to be anti-american. And I'm still taking my shoes off in airports.

Of the regimes which have nurtured anti-american terrorism for three decades, only one has been, partially, destroyed.

If you want an idea of what an effectively led war would look like, here's a primer. Notice there's nothing in there about devoting any energy at all to memorials for victims.

9/29/2005 06:44:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Kudo's to Pataki AND to Hillary. I don't care if it's a calculated political step for her, Hillary done the Right Thing, and good for her.

I'm also seeing that the blogosphere is responsible for this reversal of the decision, since MSM - neither print nor electric - have said ANYthing about the idea other than what a really good and terrific thing it would be to have another place to highlight the wonderfulness of the Palestinians.

I just wish they could put up some interim memorial since it's been 4 years now and there isn't even an American flag flying at the site currently. I guess maybe those in charge in New York don't want to hurt the feelings of the international visitors to that huge hole in the ground, who include (interestingly) Muslims and their swaddled women.

9/29/2005 06:49:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...


9/29/2005 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Why do you think it interesting that Mohammedans would enjoy visiting the site of their greatest victory over "Satan's Forces"?
I think it is totally normal reaction. To gloat over an enemies defeat, if only internally, can warm one's heart.
To witness it first hand, to stand over the corpse, well, that is all the better.

9/29/2005 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

An effective use of symbolism was evident yesterday. A few days ago Cindy Sheehan was 'arrested.' Now, I think most Americans now understand that these kinds of things are set-ups. Indeed, Sheehan and her ilk invited the press before hand to see their arrest. Then, the 'protestors' do what they must to deliberately get arrested, so that they may have the political theater of an arrest by the 'oppressors;' though Sheehans smiling visage somewhat gives away the game.

However, yesterday, as Karen Hughes was once again getting verbally lashed (this time, Turkey), one women denounced the Iraq war and then denounced the arrest of Sheehan, as if it were a police state action; thus making Sheehan's act of political theater a success.

9/29/2005 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Dymphna said...

It's a good thing Pataki caved. The resistance was only going to grow stronger over time and it would have been an even more extreme capitulation.

Still, good on him.


You're ahead of me on this one, but I'll post anyway. You're always such a hard act to follow, Wretchard.

9/29/2005 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger Common Cents said...

The perfect locations for the International Freedom Center are the lobby of the New York Times Building and/or the lobby of the DNC.

9/29/2005 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...

Clichés are older memes that have entered every day consciousness, in the process becoming trivialized.

gmat: On the contrary, forgetting the left is not an option. Let's remember a few older memes. "Winning Hearts and Minds", "Burrowing From Within" and the ever popular, "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Mihn, the NLF is going to win".

The left knows that it is a political battle for hearts and minds, that's why they have been burrowing from within for so many years after breaking into so called "affinity groups" for that very purpose after Ho Chi Min did indeed win.

It has been said many times that the US won the ground war and lost the political war. It is the political battle, that in the end, counts. To "Seize the Levers of Power", another meme, is the point. And, finally, "Those That Forget History are Condemned To Repeat It." We can't afford, in this struggle, to forget history or lose either of these wars; political or military. It is indeed a "Two Front War".

9/29/2005 07:15:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew K said...

OT but interesting none the less:

"From the early seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, thousands of British men women and children were kidnapped by Arab corsairs and sold into slavery in Morocco where they were kept in conditions of unspeakable barbarism. The astounding thing is that these British victims were not merely seized at sea where they ran the gauntlet of such pirates in places such as the Straits of Gibraltar. They were actually abducted from Britain itself."

9/29/2005 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

A BBC correspondent followed the trail of "illegal immigrants" who "risked death" to enter Europe through Ceuta, a place recently in the news after the border fence was scaled by hundreds seeking entry into Europe.

The BBC article ends this way:

"After spending the morning hearing these tales, I went down to the border myself. When the guard saw my European passport, he just waved me through. I was overcome with terrible feelings of guilt."

It may be, as gmat argues, that the Left has no power. Yes, in the sense that most of their invincible Red Armies are no more. Yet they still retain the greater part of their power, from which those Red Armies arose in the first place: their imperium over words and ideas. They will let you have your hands if they can keep your head.

9/29/2005 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

Gmat -

You erect memorials like Pearl Harbor and (hopefully) what will be at ground zero for two reasons:

- To honor and remember those who lost their lives

- To remind yourself not to forget what was done to you, how it was done, and by whom

Neither Pearl Harbor or the attack on the twin towers was a "fair fight", so there really isn't any discussion to be had about an "ass whipping". Both were sneak attacks done to inflict damage militarily (in the case of PH - attacking US naval power) and psychologically (mass murder at the twin towers).

It amazes me that our adversaries forget that, if you really piss the US off, we WILL mobilize and come after you.

That said, I was pleased to see the IFC squashed. If we wanted to build an apology memorial bashing the US, let it be done somewhere else. I'm sure France or Germany would take on the "burden" of interpreting and spinning American history and explaining how bad we really are.

9/29/2005 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...


They also reserve the right to tell your hands what to do.

9/29/2005 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...


Those nasty Spanish Guards, using tear gas to turn back the invaders.
If they were coming to US they'd find bottled water, cached at way stations. Unless of course the get of course, then they often die of dehydration. Happens every summer.

How dare those supposedly enlighten Europeans not open their borders. I guess the US really is more socially enlightened that those European hyporcrites.

9/29/2005 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger diabeticfriendly said...

The american public has the power to have the short term attention span of the next news cycle...

Is this good or bad? The answer is both, however if you travel along american highways and byways you will start to notice crosses placed at the scene of many deaths along the way. I wonder is this healthy? Death is a part of life and has been put into our schedules via wakes, funerals, headstones and yes memorials, however maybe the best way to grow stronger is not to place memorials at the actual spots of all deaths. Maybe the best medicine is the amazing ability for americans to tune into the next issue and not have daily reminders FOREVER of every horror. Yes memorials have a place, the Washington Mall comes to mind. The best way to say F*ck You to our enemies to to rebuild the sites of their destruction, taller, bigger, shinier, better than ever before!

9/29/2005 07:54:00 AM  
Blogger Vercingetorix said...

I've been polishing up on my Greek military history lately so everything I see IS greek to me; but I think there is a useful theme here when we go back to basics; the first war and why the west was so revolutionary in the first place.

So at perhaps great length, the Greeks mounted up in their panalopia, no less than 30 lbs. of armor with 8 foot spears, 8 men deep. There was no reserve and until Epandimondas, Philip II, and Alexander, no real tactics either. Nor did the men have javelins like the Romans or Gustavas' revolutionary rotating lines of musket fire; they would draw to conclusions at close range as neither fanatics nor cowards, steady and brutally afraid every step of the way.

The men would sing one last devotional, the paean, to remind them of the next moment's heaven and hell and then drop spears to the horizontal and do what we should never forget war is and was and always will be; throwing metal warheads through the jowls of another unshaven adolescent.

While I'm tempted to lay my best Churchillian knock-off and say something about heroism, about the strength in the heart of men, I'll settle for war as suffering, as the unmitigated fear that ravages your breast and sends you sobbing to your knee as you watch impotently the fates scourge men from their bones in the field.

I say that only because that's what the first Western wars were like; the choice to shorten and decide the inevitable clash from weeks to hours. But war is not the worst of things, and the foolishness in not naming war for what it is, for separating the techniques from the men is immoral. This collusion of orthodoxy, from the radical liberal to the stately authoritarian, which we call the 'Left' condemns us to ever-repeat the ambushes and light-raids of more tribal quarters by not allowing us to name our enemy and our profession of arms for what it has always been.

9/29/2005 07:55:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

desert rat,

"Illegal immigrants" have rushed the Spanish border for the third straight day. Spain is negotiating with Morocco to find a "solution". Morocco has long claimed Ceuta. Although Spain has rushed troops to Ceuta, there's no guaranteeing that the escalades will stop. Sooner or later there will be a fair number of deaths. And it will be Spain's fault. It must be.

Ceuta is an insignificant little place. But why should the forcible "migrations" stop there? Unless one can draw a mental line in the sand -- something that has gotten surpassingly hard -- it will be impossible to draw a physical line anywhere. And the Left has a mental eraser for every occasion and purpose.

9/29/2005 07:57:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I should start a separate thread on Belgium's “universal jurisdiction” laws.

Brussels — Belgium has issued an international arrest warrant for Chad's former leader Hissène Habré, charging him with atrocities during his 1982-90 rule, lawyers said Thursday.

Mr. Habré, who lives in exile in Senegal, is being pursued under Belgium's “universal jurisdiction” laws, which allow for prosecutions for crimes against humanity wherever they were committed.

Habre is probably a POS, but I'm struggling to understand where the jurisdiction of the Belgium court stops, if it stops anywhere; and how it is different from toppling Saddam Hussein, other than it does not require a declaration of war to prosecute.

9/29/2005 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

You know, after thinking about the misnamed "Freedom Museum" at the WTC site, I think perhsps the best thing to built on that site would be a missile base.
Specifically, a US Army Hawk battery to defend NYC and a USAF Peacekeeper ICBM to strike back.
If you want symbolism, and want to send a message, that would do it better than anything I can think of.
Let people from the world over come and look at that.

9/29/2005 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger Fabio said...


Yes, it is rather arrogant for Belgium to have "universal jurisdiction". You could hear the howling all around the globe if the USA had something like that.

But being for a "good cause" (a leftist one) this strange Belgian decision is more praised than criticized.

9/29/2005 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Nathan said...


The jurisdiction of the Belgian court stops at Belgium's borders. Their proclamation of "universal jurisdiction" is utmost arrogance- an act of speaking loudly without any stick at all. In reality, the power of Belgium to prosecute requires the charged to accidentally blunder across the border and into their country. Otherwise, the court is completely impotent. And Belgium is painfully and bitterly aware of this.

9/29/2005 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...


War has always been regarded as an exceptional event. One does not routinely cross sovereign borders to seize perpetrators except when there is a compelling national interest. War is rightly regarded as an awful and solemn moment that happens in unusual circumstances. But if the Belgians can establish the legitimacy of their procedure the day will inevitably come when someone will be called upon to enforce it. And it would be churlish to refuse service in such good causes. Sooner or later the armed forces which were reserved to serious business of exceptional war will be pressed into the service of enforcing Belgian court orders.

Surely this is the king of all inversions. The use of force for national survival is deligitimized; its use for human rights projects legitimized. And since "from each according to his ability and to each according to his need", can you guess who will be asked to arrest this fugitive President of Chad?

This is the whole symbolism game again, so ludicrous it seems harmless. Wait ten years and it won't be any more.

9/29/2005 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

One would assume that any Nation with an extradition treaty with Belgium, when presented with the Warrant would be bound to arrest and deport the Charged to Belgium, within the bounds of the extradition treaty. Perhaps a longer reach than you think. Not quite the same as the ICC, but along the same lines.
Who gets to serve the warrant on Mr. Hissène Habré, that is really the question

9/29/2005 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The ICC has sealed indictments against a slew of Sudanese. This is quite an interesting example of the impotency of Courts without Police power.
If the world has international courts, it will soon require international police.
Their power would, of course, supercede all Nation State soveriegncy.

9/29/2005 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I am having a hard time imagining The Belgian Army being employed against anything other than children.

I do not believe that to be a revelation or anything.

Anyway the best proposal for a WTC memorial was the set of five buildings that resembled a giant bird being flipped off to the AQ types.

9/29/2005 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger sirius_sir said...

If the world has international courts, it will soon require international police.
Their power would, of course, supercede all Nation State soveriegncy.

desert rat, I get your drift, but I'd say that their pretense to power would supercede all Nation State sovereignty--if only they could make it so. In some cases, yes; in others, no. A figure like Habre may be an easy mark; not so for a sitting President of the United States.

Still, it could get interesting. Can't you just imagine a US-supported International Police Force facing off against the US Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines?

Wanna lay odds on who would win that particular showdown?

9/29/2005 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger greenhornet70 said...

gmat at 6:44...thank you very much for the Claremont Institute link...It was verry good...sent to all my friends and family...greenhornet70 11:11

9/29/2005 09:12:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The President of the US is one thing, how about the PM of Israel, the President of Palistinians, the President of Zimbamwe, the Army Chief of Staff in Sudan, The Presidents of Iran or North Korea.

Will Osama and the Z's be indicted? How about the Generals in Burma, or what ever they call Burma, now.

Oh the opportunities

9/29/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Marcus Aurelius,

First you create expectations. Then you establish these expectations as rights. Afterward you express these rights as law. Then you demand enforcement.

First you create a narrative. This narrative becomes established fact by dint of repetition. The fact is addressed by Treaty. You are asked to sign the Treaty.

And in each of these cases, whatever the state of the Belgian Army, the country with the most resources is expected to make it happen, as a good international citizen toward the cause of world peace and to prevent Global Warming. I don't want to overstate the case but the control of the agenda, determining what is, and what is not, legitimate, is a very powerful tool.

9/29/2005 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

The fact is, four years after 9/11, it is still more dangerous, even in Iraq, let alone the rest of the arab world, to be pro-American than to be anti-american.

It strikes me that the level of pro- and anti-Americanism is not a good metric by which to judge our war strategy. We are not waging war to be liked, a common misperception.

Infinitely more important is whether Iraqis feel it more in their interest to be pro-Government or pro-Insurgent. In that regard, we are winning decisively.

I'm more concerned about the inversions of those actually leading (if you can call it that) the so-called Global War on Terror.

Whatever you want to call it, it is a necessary war that we are winning. While Bush could do better at explaining the war to the public, I find it intellectually unattractive to say we are not being led. Everything that has happened in the last four years is unprecedented--historically shocking, in fact. While it may be a travesty to have to partially disrobe to ensure your safety on board a flying missile, I must note that while you have been taking off your shoes we have conquered the unconquerable Afghanistan, eliminated over 600 Al'Qaeda leadership (80%), stabilized an ungovernable Balisan (Philippines, the other half of Enduring Freedom), are training armies in the Horn of Africa to defeat the terrorists, dismantled Baathist Iraq, arrested Saddam Hussein and killed his sons, held the first ever free elections in the Arab world, dismantled the nuclear blackmarket run out of Pakistan, shut down Libya's WMD program, held firm in Ukraine, demanded and got Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, boxed in Iran, marginalized Assad, oversaw the Iraqi Constitution, opened schools for girls in Afghanistan, and did all this with only 2,000 combat deaths worldwide.

Don't confuse leadership with oratory. Our generals and our President are doing a fine job on the war, even if they stumble fighting the war on the war. For better or worse we seem to be putting all our faith in propaganda by deed. In an age of language inversion and adverse press, why not?

So, I'm sorry about your shoes, but let's keep some perspective here. We are winning, and winning decisively.

9/29/2005 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Didn't Belgium issue a warrant for Rumsfeld a year or two ago, on the grounds that he was a "war criminal"? I'm remembering some politicians interceded within 48 hours and told the Belgium judges to knock it off, and remember their place on the food chain.

9/29/2005 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...


You're right. See my latest post.

9/29/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

re: Belgium

No other European Colonial power, with the exception of Spain, perhaps, has left more chaos and destruction post-empire than Belgium has. Having Belgium proclaiming universal jurisdiction over human rights is like having Germany admonishing the US about our detention facilities.

Nevertheless, a self-righteous and impotent Europe is a marked improvement over her previous demeanor, though the recent hysteria is all too reminiscent of the last round of pacifism, which if I remember correctly ended badly.

9/29/2005 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The fact is that four years after requiring folks to remove their shoes, there have been no hijackings of US originated flights. Total Success.

The passengers self imposed inconvience, nothing compared to the costs to the Public of lax security.

Aristides makes the case for the success of Bush's policies.
While I, at times, disapprove of some US military tactics and policies, the overall Bush Strategy has been reasonably successful.
Some of our challenges have been kicked down the road, but perhaps they should have been.
Time will tell.

9/29/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Andrew Scotia said...


Two more old memes from an old warrior to a younger one following the profession of arms.

"Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more, or fill the wall up with our English dead."

"Follow Me!"

9/29/2005 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...


I guess you are right about that.

An example of this was in the community next to mine they voted (referendum) to ban smoking in places of emplioyment. Now, I have never been in an place of employment that allows people to smoke. The ban was a weasel way to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

I would try to explain people how this was a blow to property rights and the typical response was "so, you are in favor of lung cancer".

Same too with groups like Amnesty International. How can you be opposed to human rights? How can you be against punishing evil dictators? There is a lot of irony in all of that too.

9/29/2005 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger gmat said...


Iraqi feelings about their government are irrelevant to US security. All that is relevant is that whoever rules Iraq, by whatever form of government, understands that they are personally accountable to see that no islamist violence is exported, or facilitated, by Iraq; or else they will meet the same fate as Saddam and his sons.

Winning decisively? Your list was most impressive. After two tours in Vietnam, I could have produced an equally impressive list of our accomplishments.

However, it's a poor substitute for clearly expressed war aims, the accomplishment of which are measurable, define victory, and mark the end of extraordinary executive war powers.

Angelo Codevilla on Victory: "Common sense does not mistake the difference between victory and defeat: the losers weep and cower, while the winners strut and rejoice. The losers have to change their ways, the winners feel more secure than ever in theirs. On September 12, retiring Texas Senator Phil Gramm encapsulated this common sense: "I don't want to change the way I live. I want to change the way they live." Common sense says that victory means living without worry that some foreigners might kill us on behalf of their causes, but also without having to bow to domestic bureaucrats and cops, especially useless ones. It means not changing the tradition by which the government of the United States treats citizens as its masters rather than as potential enemies. Victory requires killing our enemies, or making them live in debilitating fear."

9/29/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9/29/2005 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger Aristides said...


I don't deny that the public front is important, but the stakes are much higher now than in Vietnam, and in many ways speak for themselves. I think it was Wretchard who commented on an earlier thread that the reason we don't hear of a real push to withdraw is that nobody wants to be responsible for the inevitable chaos that would follow. Having an Al'Qaeda victory hanging around ones neck is not a good way to get elected.

But I wonder if we are not imposing our will more than you think. If we have changed the way we do business since 9/11, it is in the other direction: we are now more assertive internationally than ever before. Historians may write about the irony of our situation, because in the last four years our global power and credibility have actually increased, immensely in fact, even while our image has taken a beating. We have truly become a global colossus, gaining footprints in Central Asia and the Middle East while at the same time cementing our role as the arbiter of world affairs. We see this role in almost all situations, from Palestine/Israel to EU/Iran. Progress on all these fronts is impossible without a US stamp of approval, and, much more importantly, so is conflict.

China, with the North Korea situation, has a play to check that influence if they succeed in solving the nuke problem when we couldn't, but the damage is already done to their West. The war in the Balkans and Afghanistan, the deal with India, our bases in the 'Stans and our influence in Mongolia are new additions to our power structure, unprecedented global gains in so short a time.

Your concerns over Bush's inability to clearly expressing war aims are well taken, but I wonder if expressing our true intentions--global pacification--is better left unsaid, or at least better left implied. We may be talking softly, but our stick has become legendary.

9/29/2005 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Law being what it is must be enforced at the end of a gun. Anybody who has been pulled over for not appearing to wear seat belt will know that no matter how trivial a law, to be effective, it must be served by men with guns.

NATO has put together the International Security Assistance Force that has a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) most recently deployed into Afghanistan for a little operational readiness training.

NATO’s political headquarters are in Brussels, so I suppose that Belgium feels that it is might that they might throw around.

I say build it bigger and better…but the 5 tower gesture has some real merit.

9/29/2005 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

Gmat -

I like the quote "Victory requires killing our enemies, or making them live in debilitating fear". It's very "Conan the Barbarian" like, "...driving your enemies before you, hearing the lamentation of their women..." etc.

I even agree with the sentiment, but our "cultural sensitivities" seem to prevent us from publicly hunting our enemies down and totally exterminating them without remorse. Of course, that's what we're really doing but also taking great pains to keep under wraps.

9/29/2005 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger gmat said...

Aristedes and Dave

You both are no doubt a lot more realistic than I about these things. You know, as Irving Kristol said about both Helprin and Codevilla (roughly), I like their sentiments but they're both a little too utopian to be practical.

But I can't help thinking it would be easier in the long run to get it out in the open, have a debate, declare war, mobilize (then it's OK to be Conan, que no?) get it done, and celebrate.

And if it's pacification of the world, or, as Barnett would say, complete connectedness, the Gap shrunk to nothing, that we're about -- well, we've got the Leviathan force to take down the rogue regimes, but we need to enroll the others who benefit -- China, India, Brazil, Russia -- in the nation building part of it.

That nation building part, americans don't naturally have the patience for that, and it makes it tough for the executive to do one of his most important jobs -- selling his war to the political opposition and keeping it sold.

9/29/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...


I'm torn between two different inclinations. The first is in perfect agreement with you. We have the power to openly declare our aims, so why not go ahead and do so? Open debate is what our country is founded on, why should we be afraid or timid to proudly declare what most nations already know?

The second inclination, however, gives me caution. I do not trust the vision or fairness of whichever party is out of power, be it Democrat or Republican, but specifically I do not trust the Leftist wing of the Democratic party. Accusations of imperialism, of unilateralism and arrogance, would drown out any serious discussion of whether or not the pacification or connection strategy is a good one. For the far-Left, and I think this is beyond any doubt, America can do no good in the world. Their global paradigm only has room for the exploited, and the exploiter. Those who exercise power for self-interest, i.e. America, are prima facie exploiters, so any attempt at persuasion falls on deaf ears.

Chomsky's simplistic theory of international relations is fine-tuned and ubiquitous in this crowd, ready to tear any persuasive attempt apart. War is all about profit and power; lost in this explanation is any possibility that American self-interest can coincide with the truly oppressed (that they currently do is due to Bush and his radical foreign policy departure). America is in a tough position with her far-Left constituency, especially when their words resonate with the largest generation to ever grace the nation: the baby boomers. And especially when the Democratic Party is in thrall to their monies. Most of these fellow-travelers, schooled on Vietnam, disfavor any foreign action that utilizes the military-industrial complex for self-interest.

Luckily, this crowd is also poorly read on events not reported in the New York Times or Reuters, so much of what we do occurs under the radar. We have troops in scores of countries right now, training indigenous armies and nurturing local relations--a favorite tactic of ours is impromptu medical checkups for the locals--and this is, for the most part, going swimmingly. Robert D. Kaplan makes this point in his new book, Imperial Grunts.

The American and European Left do not like the unilateral exercise of American power on principle, regardless of what it is used for. As a fundamental tenet you can understand it, for power can corrupt even the most well-meaning of people. But as the saying goes, "All beliefs taken to the extreme are extreme." We are in an ephemeral moment of global dominance, we are probably the most virtuous society that has ever existed, we are a decent and idealistic people, and we could make a hell of a lot of difference, for our children and for the world.

9/11 was a wake up call for those who act. While we get ramped up, I'm willing to let the critics go back to sleep.

9/29/2005 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Norman Rogers said...

The thing that gets me about the WTC memorial is that it's one of the very rare times we're about to build a monument to VICTIMS!

This is really absurd. I would applaud a monument to the heroic fireman and policemen who gave their lives trying to rescue others. But a memorial to the poor sons of a bitch who had the bad luck to be in the line of fire ...? That's what headstones are for.

The Pearl Harbor memorial over sunken battleship Arizona honors are brave servicemen. I have a hard time honoring civilian casualties.

9/29/2005 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...


There were heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day, men who rushed into the burning towers even though they saw death before them. It may not change your mind, but I thought I would mention it.

9/29/2005 06:38:00 PM  
Blogger gmat said...


"Accusations of imperialism, of unilateralism and arrogance, would drown out any serious discussion of whether or not the pacification or connection strategy is a good one."

Probably not. There aren't that many leftists in Congress. But you know what there are in Congress? A lot of narcissists, who hate it when the Executive treats them with contempt. And they've got the Constitution on their side.

What I'm suspicious of, is when people in the Executive start saying, it's OK to dissemble, because we know what's best for the country, and the messy business of Congress will just hinder us, etc. For 2 reasons; 1)it's unconstitutional, and 2) they're not that smart (McNamara comes to mind, followed immediately by Wolfawitz)

The US waged a $6T, 40 year, Cold War with a Democratic majority in Congress. With a solid Republican majority, we ought to be able to compose, publicly articulate, and establish legitimacy for, a grand strategy that transcends the election cycle.

Absence of debate is a bad symptom for the US. I can't say it any plainer than that. Whenever I start feeling especially contemptuous of those media whores in Congress, I dust off this piece, which won a writing competition at the Army War College.

9/30/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Gmat, that's one of my favorite papers. Parameters has some terrific stuff.

I always think about it everytime I see exasperated people call for ending the State Department, and gradually giving more and more authority to the Pentagon in foreign affairs. The same with federalizing disaster response.

9/30/2005 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Desert Rat - The idea proposed by Mr. Trump, I think, to rebuild the Towers as they were, only bigger and better, would create the best Memorial. I think that would be the best way to both celebrate freedom and honor those murdered on 9-11.

The problem is the market. The WTC's were having a huge problem attracting tenents before 9/11. There is little market now as well. As Trump knows, or he and others would be climbing over one another to build the things again. Not that Desert Rat said it, but the argument that "If we fail to rebuild the WTCs, the terrorists win! The terrorists win!" is an emotional and ultimately stupid argument not grounded in reality.

On the other hand, the Pentagon was needed, the mawkish demands of suddenly "empowered with untimate moral authority" victims families did not get in the way, and the Pentagon was repaired in early 2002.

If the various forces had their act together in early 2002, perhaps the WTC wouldn't be a Pit today. But too much power was given to the "Victims Families" and other culture mavens like the ones behind the International Peace Center also had to come in on the heels of the Mournathon the "victims and heroes" demanded and complicated things further on what to do with so-called "Hallowed Ground".

Five years from know, I would be surprised if it isn't still a Pit that potential tenents avoid like the they do in the vicinity to the creepy "Oklahoma City" memorial of empty chairs.

9/30/2005 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

GMAT - If you want an idea of what an effectively led war would look like, here's a primer. Notice there's nothing in there about devoting any energy at all to memorials for victims.

GMAT refers to an article that spells out how little the US is devoting to actually fighting our enemies and doing so with gloves on, rather than the true-warfighting and common sacrifice called out in our past..

Indeed, in past wars, we put little heed or energy into making past wars All About the Victims and Their Spokesperson Families.

Revolutionary War memorials waited decades. Civil War memorials were living memorials of Vets get togethers until the Civil War participants began dying out around 1900 and all the memorials began springing up. WWI had spartan memorials other than the ossuaries of carnage set up on some battlefields. The Pearl Harbor Memorial started 10 years after the war was won with a simple plaque. Fund-raising for the Arizona Memorial went slowly until Elvis got involved while filming "Blue Hawaii" in 1961. The modest but perfect half million dollar Arizona Memorial was built in 1962. The rest of the WWII vets didn't get a National Memorial until 2004. Ten years after the European Holocaust Victims, 9 years after the Korean Vets, 22 years after the Vietnam Vets.

Now we have the Fed Gov't giving 3-4 million for the "Favoritist Victims Ever" - the WTC Ones, and setting aside 2,000 acres and 40 million dollars as an initial meorial-building expense - for the "Hero Victims" of Flight 93.

More Federal money spent on each 9/11 victim than the sum the Feds spent on Pearl Harbor victims and their memorials.

A Cult of Victimhood now runs rampant, pandered to by both political parties, that seeks to give "special" victims families all the money - and power over gov't decisions they want - And seeks to emotionally satisfy the "victim's families" with grandiose memorials before the war is even won, and makes the victim's demands more important than the war-fighters needs???

No logic to it.

David writes: It amazes me that our adversaries forget that, if you really piss the US off, we WILL mobilize and come after you.

Not really. The military continues to shrink under Bush II. Less ships, subs, planes, tanks, and people than Clinton gave him. We are a country more mobilized for tax cuts and expanded entitlements than war. The Army failed it's recruitment goals by it's largest margin since Jimmy Carters misbegotten, low-military morale days - 8,000 of an 80K goal. Only about 5% of the American population is connected in anyway with sacrifice in this war, inc. parents and relatives chipping in for their soldier relations Iraqi body armor and Nomex flash burn face guards the Army didn't supply.

We never mobilized for this war. That would have jeopardized Bush's, and the Far Right's tax cuts to the wealthy - their highest priority. Right now we are relying on the built-up high patriotism & esprit de corps of the volunteer military - spending that cheap yet precious capital - for 4 years of sacrifice on an intense war footing - and re-enlistments of active duty and reserve to make up for new recruitment woes and unwillingness to ask Americans to sacrifice tax dollars or make personal sacrifice. But with Iraq now looking like it may go on for several more years and professionals now doing their 3rd combat tour, with some units having had 20-30% casualties - the question is being asked more frequently - when will the other 95% of Americans be asked to sacrifice in any way? If that question is unanswered, committed volunteers that once thought they'd have a lifetime military career - are beginning to have the same second thoughts as the poor and lower middle class HS kids contemplating joining the Army and seeing Fallujah up close and personal, while the rich kids go onto law school and a life of wealth and comfort -- are having..

9/30/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger John A said...

Censorship? The NYTimes should know better.

Note also that the IFC was offered another place at World Trade Center Memorial, away from Ground Zero itself, and/or help in finding another site in NYCity.

They turned down these offers. Presumably having an actual "freedom" museum/conference center/auditorium was not enough, it had to be in the most confrontational place.

9/30/2005 01:33:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"If we fail to rebuild the WTCs, the terrorists win! The terrorists win!"
Hey, don't knock it:
We got a lot of mileage, and laughs, out of THAT particular TEMPLATE for the (near endlessly) repeating News Cycle.

10/01/2005 06:34:00 AM  
Blogger Norman Rogers said...

aristides wrote: There were heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice that day, men who rushed into the burning towers even though they saw death before them. It may not change your mind, but I thought I would mention it.

You make my point. Honor the heroes -- not the victims.

10/01/2005 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger Pietr said...

Cedarford-"sacrifice of the 95%";"20-30% casualties".
One a demand, the other a 'fiction' designed to justify the first.
Probably 'hates' Bush, probably schemes to push his socialist dagger into our brains as softly as possible.
The techniques are oh,so familiar.

10/02/2005 11:29:00 PM  

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