Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A dodged arrest, dogs in Moscow, Bwana Aid and meaning in war

After the Read More! An IDF general dodges a Palestinian arrest warrent -- in London. Wild dogs in Moscow. The "Global Poverty Act": a UN tax? George Packer looks meaning in the media and in Iraq.

Haaretz reports that Major General Doron Almog had to stay on an airplane behind with his bodyguards to keep from getting arrested at Heathrow. "Palestinian groups had pressed U.K. authorities to arrest Almog over his alleged role in the destruction of more than 50 homes in the Gaza Strip in 2002, prompting a British judge to issue an arrest warrant." The arrest didn't take place "because the British police feared a "shootout" with Israeli security officials.

My guess is that the British authorities weren't really enthusiastic about arresting him but had no choice but to comply with the warrant. By invoking the fear of a "shootout" the cops had an excuse not to serve the warrant. If the cops really wanted to arrest someone, they would have done whatever was necessary to do it. But this incident highlights the split-personality disorder that now afflicts many Western countries. We do things we don't want to because it's politically correct and then do what we want on the sly.

Sometimes I think the only way to understand the wiretap, interrogation and hate speech controversies is to realize that we're in a schizo situation.

There really are wild dogs in Moscow, as ABC News reports. "According to official statistics, last year there were about 20,000 cases of humans attacked by stray dogs; 8,000 of them serious enough to involve the police or requiring hospitalization. ... Commuters have to grapple with packs of unwanted strays on a daily basis."

HR 3605 or the "Global Poverty Act" will hold the US to a UN-set benchmark on the amount of foreign aid it must disburse. A reader quotes Rush Limbaugh:

Cliff Kincaid, in Accuracy in Media, has studied this, and has written it up. He says "[A] hugely expensive bill called the 'Global Poverty Act,' sponsored by ... Obama, was quickly passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday and could result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States. ... In a column [that Cliff] posted on the [Accuracy in Media] web site, Kincaid noted that Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was trying to rush Obama's 'Global Poverty Act' (S. 2433) through his committee without hearings. The legislation would commit the US to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the US already spends," on foreign aid. "It was scheduled for a Thursday vote but was moved up a day, to Wednesday, and rushed through by voice vote. Kincaid learned, however, that conservative Senators have now put a 'hold' on the legislation, in order to prevent it from being rushed to the floor for a full Senate vote." Now, the House passed this bill in September. It's now getting rushed through the committee in the Senate, the Biden committee, to soak the US taxpayers again to fund global, liberal, feel-good garbage.

Speaking of "feel-good garbage", the City Journal has an article on the "trendy paternalism" that "is keeping Africa in chains".

Yet in one area, foreign aid, the paternalist spirit is far from dead. A new generation of economists and activists is calling for a “big push” in Africa to expand programs that in practice institutionalize poverty rather than end it. The Africrats’ enthusiasm for the failed policies of the past threatens to turn a struggling continent into a permanent ghetto—and to block the progress of ideas that really can liberate Africa’s oppressed populations.

Foreign aid should really be called "bwana AID". Most of the AID money really goes to AID workers or is skimmed off by corrupt bureaucrats. The thing to remember about official assistance to the Third World is that it is about poor people in rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries.

Susan Sarandon just said she'll vote for Barack Obama and then added "I can't wait to see what he stands for." Start with HR 3605.

George Packer, the author of Assassin's Gate has a long and thoughtful essay on the complexities of right and wrong and the meaning of kindness and cruelty in war. More specifically, in Iraq.

So the lines were drawn from the start. To the pro-war side, criticism was animated by partisanship and defeatism, if not treason. This view, amplified on cable news, talk radio, and right-wing blogs, was tacitly encouraged by the White House. It kept a disastrous defense secretary in office long after it was obvious that he was losing the war, ensured that no senior officer was held accountable for military setbacks, and contributed to the repetition of disastrous errors by the war’s political architects. Meanwhile, the fact that the best and brightest Iraqis were being slaughtered by a ruthless insurgency never aroused much interest or sympathy among the war’s opponents. The kind of people who would ordinarily inspire solidarity campaigns among Western progressives—trade unionists, journalists, human rights advocates, women's rights activists, independent politicians, doctors, professors—were being systematically exterminated. But since the war shouldn’t have been fought in the first place, what began badly must also end badly.

Packer is especially interested by the way in which this polarized vision poisoned reporting, as it did with the New Republic's Scott Beauchamp. Packer goes on to say a complex thing: he says the War did some good. But he's against it anyway.

By then the war was not about nothing. No war ever is. I don’t know where Haithem and Muna and the others are today—some of them might well be among the Iraqis I know to be dead—but for them, the war had a meaning. It meant a chance to live a decent life, something that had never been remotely possible and remains a dream even today. The war began as folly; it became a tragedy when the hopes and lives of Iraqis and Americans began to be expended by the thousands.

A long time ago someone once told me that "the best is the enemy of the good". Somehow I think events will write the history of Iraq. We will read from that book and it will tell us what was tragic and what was meaningful.

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Blogger NahnCee said...

England has jurisdiction over what happens in Gaza? Since when? Under what English law would an Israeli national be arrested for something that happened outside of England?

This sounds like that Human Rights Committee in Canada that had usurped all power and authority until people started looking at it, listening to it, and asking legal questios.

2/19/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...


2/19/2008 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

The Susan Sarandon thing is one for the ages. Here is a link to the transcript for the Tavis Smiley show from 11-Feb-2008 and the direct quote:

Tavis: So what do you do now?

Sarandon: Well, I'm going to back Obama. But I hope - I think that he, as a symbol, has really excited people, and he's definitely confusing to everyone who really hates America for hating Muslims because a name like Obama and a Black man, they're probably going to go "Oh, wait a minute - what?" It's kind of like when you're out on the line for freedom to have an abortion and you're incredibly pregnant. They just can't quite figure it out.

So I think he definitely has convinced people that he stands for change and for hope, and I can't wait to see what he stands for.

Tavis: Well, speaking of can't wait to see, a lot of you I'm sure now can't wait to see "Bernard and Doris" on HBO all month. Susan, nice to meet you.

2/19/2008 05:43:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

re: The war began as folly; it became a tragedy when the hopes and lives of Iraqis and Americans began to be expended by the thousands.

Seems the same could be said about the U.S. civil war at any time during the fight. Ditto WW2. Or any of the proxy fights during the Cold War. "Shouldn't civilization just have surrendered?" "It's clear the enemy is more determined than we are, and who are we to decide that we are right and they are wrong."

Such is what you get when a person, a party, a people, a nation lose their moral compass, or never knew something worth dying for. "Better red than dead."

Granted, this is not a new phenomena. We've had these voices in every conflict.

2/19/2008 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I'll see your Susan Sarandon, and raise you an Alan Rickman (Severus Snape in "Harry Potter"):

The acclaimed play he coedited and directed in 2005, My Name is Rachel Corrie, was based on the writings of the American girl who was crushed by a bulldozer while protesting the demolition of a Palestinian house in Gaza. "I'd read her e-mails in the Guardian and thought, 'It can't be its only life, this one day in a newspaper", Rickman says. "She was a great American patriot".

(February 2008 Los Angeles magazine - Google cache)

2/19/2008 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

"England has jurisdiction over what happens in Gaza? Since when?"

Methinks that the judge in question has had some career counseling since then, given that the incident forced the British foreign secretary to make an apology.

At least, I can hope this judge has had some quiet advice tossed his/her way. We'll see if something like this happens again; I wonder if the angry reaction to the Archbishop's sonorous nonsense won't be a sensible influence on the "debate" on this point.

But this will bear watching, particularly in the long run. I wonder if it isn't a larger purpose here - of reinforcing the "schizophrenia" Wretchard writes of, so as to make more and more of the assumptions of law-abiding citizens questionable.

This seems a natural tactic for a high-entropy movement, like the Pallies, to use against the low-entropy West that they fear, resent and hate so much.

I guess that's part of making sense of silliness like this, by seeing if it can be fit into a larger pattern.

2/19/2008 06:48:00 PM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

Since, I believe, roughly the same time as the U.S. Department of Justice also agreed to section 9-15-230 of this:


And Wretchard, I agree it would seem that by being manouvered into constantly believing we (the West)find ourselves by necessity psychologically trying to reconcile two equal and opposite intractable positions we are led first to frustration,immobility and passivity.

A mule between two piles of hay.

2/19/2008 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I wonder if the Israelis have considered what it would take to break one of their "war criminal" ex-generals out of prison in Britain or Belgium?

If one of these nutso-leftie countries in Eurabia were to imprison one of their citizens they would be justified in mounting a commando raid to break him out of prison and fly him home. Shades of the raid on Entebbe.

Do you think they have pre-positioned weapons and APCs to use in their operation?

That would be so embarrassing.

Set them free
They get out anyway

2/19/2008 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Packer is wrong once you start losing (Suez, Algeria, perhaps Vietnam) you don't stop. Until muezzins call from Oxford.

2/19/2008 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

F451 - how can there be an extradition treaty when there is no Palestinian state to (1) press charges or (2) extradite anyone TO?

I think you're bluffing.

And that the U.S. would never, ever, try to arrest an Israeli general, and the dumb English need to get a clue, too.

2/19/2008 10:04:00 PM  
Blogger Y.H.N. said...

I'd like to read the George Packer essay. Is it contained in the book that the link leads to, or is there a separate link?

2/20/2008 04:36:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Mr. Packer writes:

To the pro-war side, criticism was animated by partisanship and defeatism, if not treason.

Accuse them of Treason? Now, that would be quaint.

Of course there were people who criticized the war because they wanted to secure victory. There are other folks who wanted to secure defeat. What should we call that? Winnism? (in the Ironic sense of win by losing).

2/20/2008 04:50:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

The expanded foreign aid program concept leads me to think of something a professor of mine said that struck me.

He asked, “What is wealth? How do you define it? Traditionally, it is not bundles of colored paper, but things like land, manpower, natural resources. Now, note that I have just described the Third World. The Third World has most of the land, manpower, and natural resources in the world and it is thought of as being poor. Why are they not rich, given all these traditional sources of wealth? It’s because they don’t have the right management.”

When you think about it, that is what all the Mexicans and Chinese and Guatemalans and other illegal immigrants are looking for when they come to the U.S. – good management – or at least, some management.

“Management” of the Third World by the West – or even by some of Asia – would indeed solve their problems – and be denounced as Euro-centric imperialist colonialism.

Ergo - they are going to remain poor...

2/20/2008 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...

Another example of the arabs (aka the palios) and islamists USING the west's liberal laws to fight the war they cannot win on the battle field.

If this type of arrest of an IDF Officer could go through, would the west also arrest every Palestinian "freedom fighter" for every murder or ATTEMPTED MURDER of an Israelis? I think not...

the interesting thing? the 30 houses that were destroyed? WERE EMPTY OF HUMANS...

If it is a crime is a property crime, not a war crime..

How should England treat Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Fatah members over suicide bombings? Kassam rockets?

Once again it just bullshit...

Either England is doomed for Sharia takeover or we will see an hugh race war...

I see race war in england and europe, not surrender

2/20/2008 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I see surrender.

The ones with gumption are leaving because they're "tired of it". Huge rates of emigration out of England and Europe to Canada, America and Australia. What we call "white flight" in our cities.

The ones still left in England and Europe have no initiative. They'll slide into surrender because it's too much work to actually do anything about their situation.

2/20/2008 06:17:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

rwe's remarks about poor management in the Third World, brings up a notion that I'm sure Obama et al have not considered. Since so many Third World counties are poor because of their rulers, then a policy of eradicating poverty world wide must led to the removal of said rulers. Otherwise it's hopeless.

I'm sure what they really want is just to send money so they can tell themselves, "see what good people we are".

2/20/2008 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger gumshoe said...

"A long time ago someone once told me that "the best is the enemy of the good".

wretchard -

small,but important difference in your quote...I've always heard it as:

"the perfect is the enemy of the good"

2/20/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Larryd: After the USSR collapsed, I recall reading that Congress was mighty upset at how the money they were sending to the Former Soviet Union was being “misused.”

The Russians were using much of that money to hire Americans to come tell them how to run their country, experts on business, constitutional law, that kind of thing.

Congress reacted to this Russian admiration of America exactly the same way that they would if a contract for a new public works project in their home districts went to a firm from another state that imported all the workers: “Hey! That money is supposed to be spent by those people there, not by outsiders!”

Ultimately the Obama crowd think that they can handle international relations the same way as they do getting re-elected: Buy them off.

2/20/2008 09:48:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

Packer Essay at:
I'd make a link but Im too old or too lazy to learn how.

2/20/2008 04:18:00 PM  

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