Friday, June 09, 2006

Just War

An excellent article in the American Thinker on just war theory swam into my gaze. It's by Don Crawford, a radio talk show host I'd never heard of before. A sample:
The cause in Iraq was unquestionably just due to Saddam’s continuing efforts to:

• attack our pilots who enforced his agreement to air restrictions that ended the ’91 Gulf War;

• torture to death in the most horrific manner an average of 300 innocent Iraqis a day;

• pay suicide bombers world-wide to attack innocent men, women, and children;

• aggressively develop WMD’s;

• have the highest echelon of his military run at least four training camps where virtually every Islamic terrorist organization in the world including al Qaeda were trained how to make and implement WMD and other terrorist attacks against the west; the cause was indisputably just.

He lays it all out. His litany of the reasons behind the Iraq liberation led me to think about the current standoff with Iran on nuclear weapons development and how that situation would be different if Saddam were still in power. That horrible prospect stimulated me to send him this email:

Great article in the American Thinker about just war theory and the Iraq liberation. You lay everything out clearly and comprehensively. In the matter of justification for deposing Saddam, does anyone really think that Saddam was not on the road to developing nuclear weapons? Without the US pressure, all he had to do was wait out the ridiculous UN and the EUnuchs. Once the inspectors gave up and left, he would be back on track in weeks. And if that had happened, we wouldn't have just Iran to deal with today, we would be facing two near-nuclearized powers in the Middle East. And without the example of the Iraqi deposition, Libya would probably not have given up its program, either. So there could easily be three powers going down that road. And given the rivalry between Iraq and Iran reflected by the war in the Eighties that cost a million dead, the conclusion is unavoidable that Saddam's progress toward nuclearization would have pushed Iran even more quickly in that direction.
So by following his instinct to protect America, George Bush has significantly lessened the threat from nuclear proliferation and the unbearable prospect that a terrorist group might get their hands on a working nuke. This is an historic achievement. I only hope I see it recognized in my lifetime!

Kudos again,

Robert Speirs
Tallahassee, Florida
Ann Coulter is God(dess)

At least, she must be a minor deity to me. I always find myself worshipping her and defending her against all threats. Even against Pejman's histrionics:
Won't Ann Coulter just go away? We'd all be so much better off if she did.
And those of a commenter:
Coulter's caustic columns are examples of how outrageous rhetoric will obfuscate substance and logic.

Since Ann was talking about the 9/11 widows who have used their husbands' deaths to spread collectivist propaganda, how could I not defend her? So I did:
Odd. I thought Coulter made her point exactly and emphatically. And she got loads of attention for it. And why was it wrong to call these women irrational and vindictive when that is exactly what they were? By not letting them get away with irrational vindictiveness because they had suffered grievous losses, Coulter honored those bereaved who didn't lurch into idiocy and claim an "absolute moral authority" to which even the most grievous loss would not entitle them.

How is their behavior any different from that of the odious Mother Sheehan? Does anyone really want to defend her? Is the concept of the reverse ad hominem argument carrying all before it, so that a statement made by someone seen as noble or victimized (or both) is unquestionable no matter how loony and vicious it may be?
Anti-intellectualism rears its ignorant head

I really never thought I'd read a Samizdata comment like this:
"Oops - dictated, not written. Mohammed was illiterate."
As was Socrates. Surely you aren't suggest that ability to draw shapes with a pen correlates with quality of thought, are you?

What an insight! The ability to write (which kind of goes along with the ability to read) is irrelevant to one's ideas. So I got a bit snarky:
"Surely you aren't suggest that ability to draw shapes with a pen correlates with quality of thought, are you?"

No, of course not. The ability to read (and write) couldn't possibly affect the sophistication of a man's thought. Never having read a book shouldn't mean a man is less knowledgeable about the real world or less able to express himself than anyone else. All of those other books either conflict with the Koran and are therefore lies or agree with it and are therefore unnecessary.


I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I find it a bit hard to believe that Socrates was illiterate. I'll have to confirm that for myself. Someday.
The headless snake goes nowhere
Lots of thinking about the Iraqi terrorist organizations post-Zarqawi is happening in the blogosphere. Not only do we not have to wait for the NYT or Newsweek to tell us what to think about these events, we don't even care any more. Which is great. Patrick Porter on Oxblog, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers, has some thoughts on the utility of killing heads of terrorist groups:
The cumulative effect, in other words, is to hurt the cohesion of the group. Its not so much about a cycle of violence, but about an ultimately finite number of seasoned and clever warriors.

All this is tempered by the chaotic situation much of Iraq faces. Were this one highly structured enemy organisation operating within a population living in greater stability and with basic services working, etc, who could be effectively divorced and separated from such groups, this kill would be more valuable.

In response to another commenter who said charisma was more important than a tight organization, I made the following point:
However, a loose organizational structure prevents a group from having a well-defined program and especially from changing its goals and structure quickly. One could well ask what the insurgency's goals are. What exactly have they accomplished since the liberation except nearly random killing? Now, without the head of the snake, it will thrash around even more. But it won't get anywhere.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Oldie but goodie
A polygamy post on Econlog inspired this comment:
If you legalize both gay marriage and polygamy and still allow citizens to bring their spouses into the US and make them citizens, at some point one legal Mexican will be able to bring in the entire remaining population of Mexico to East L.A. with one signature.

I know I've used it before, but I don't think I've blogged it before.

Sometimes libertarians don't think out the consequences of the things they say:
How about social sanctions? After seeing the human face of polygamy - fictional though it be - I would go out of my way to put any polygamist I met at ease. The people who need to be stigmatized are those who won't mind their own business.

I admit the consequence I lay out is unlikely, but that it exists at all should be a warning sign that something is wrong. What are you going to do, impose a numerical limit on the number of wives, like Islam? And how do libertarians propose to calculate that?

Monday, June 05, 2006

Blogging is good for the brain
This is why I love reading blogs and commenting on them. I've been thinking about the Vietnam war for forty years, like most American men my age. This post on Oxblog about Vietnam, therefore, attracted my attention, especially this part:
Why was the Army so intransigent? The answer is that old saying about the hammer and the nail. When you have a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail. The US military's first and foremost mission during the 1950s and 1960s was to prepare for a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Building on its success in World War II, the US military prepared to repel a Soviet invasion by building up a heavily-armed and heavily-armored fighting force.

Then I had a thought that hadn't occurred to me in the last forty years. Yet it's pretty obvious:
Perhaps the Cold War influenced the way the Vietnam war was fought. Small wars are training grounds. There's no better training than live combat. During the Cold War, the army wanted to train its soldiers to fight conventional war, because those skills might be needed at any moment against the Russkis. Now, the army knows it needs counterinsurgency combat skills for the WOT. In Iraq and Afghanistan, it's developing a cadre of tested veterans that should be very effective in the long war to come. The UAV is getting a good test, too, just like the Stuka did in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.