Thursday, October 14, 2004

The "peace process"

Ahh the peace process.. what a misnomer you have become !

Throughout the democracies of the world, most of the socialist or leftist politicians, are always saying how they are committed to the "peace process". Not to "peace" itself mind you, but the process.

Its funny, the peace process doesn't really concern itself with whether Israelis are being bombed randomly... it just seems to refer to squeezing concessions out of Israel. In fact some of these desired concessions, like ripping down the security barrier, would offer little benefit to the Palestinians themselves, but would come at a massive cost in living conditions to both sides.

If only we could complete the peace process, and give the Palestinians everything they want, then surely there would be peace right ?

I wonder if those cheering on the peace process are concerned with this little bit of news:
The Australian: Arafat's cousin escapes car bomb [October 14, 2004]

General Arafat, a cousin of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was targeted by a car bomb as he travelled in a convoy through Gaza City. He was saved by the armour covering his vehicle and emerged from the attack unharmed.
Israeli officials said Israel was not involved and Palestinian sources acknowledged it was probably an internal Palestinian affair.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

First Moonbat for First Lady ?

The billionaire heiress Teresa Heinz Kerry has been running her mouth with wild anti-Bush speeches lately. The media haven't posed any questions to the Kerry campaign about her, and it would be interesting to see if John would say that his wife's comments do not neccessarily reflect his own, or if he would stand by her extremist views.

Here's the latest from the next potential First Lady:

“John will never send a boy or girl in a uniform anywhere in the world because of our need and greed for oil,” Teresa Heinz Kerry told about 1,200 supporters at the McAllen Civic Center.

She said her husband, as president, would be able to approach the families of slain soldiers and say, “’I did everything I could to prevent this, I’m sorry.’ ”

“Diplomacy is not about, ‘I’m telling you.’ Diplomacy is about, ‘what do you think?’” Heinz Kerry said. “If you cannot have respect for the other side, you cannot have diplomacy.”

So Madam Kerry, just what would cause John to send US soldiers overseas ? Perhaps approval from those benevelont rulers of China, Russia and France ?

And diplomacy is as simple as asking "what do you think".... Ahh.. what do you think Crown Prince Abdullah - Shall we blame 9-11 on the Jews ? Hmm, what do the middle eastern thugs and dictators think about bringing democracy to Iraq ?

Everything she said is nonsense. America spent several months in the diplomacy stage. Rounds of discussions were held. And the end result was that UN approval was lacking. So clearly Teresa is disappointed that France, China and Russia (who were all pals with Saddam and benefiting from his corrupt oil-for-food program) didn't support the war.

But the allies in Spain, Italy, UK, Australia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Japan.. they count for nothing.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Terror strikes Egypt

The election news here in Australia has been drowning out coverage of any other major events in the world. Very little attention was given to another slaughtering of innocents that took place in Egypt.

The final body count of the bombing at the Taba Hilton in Egypt shows the following:

At least 14 Russians, 13 Israelis, 6 Egyptians, and 2 Italians were among the dead.

I've been through Taba 5 years ago - its a little resort town with magnificent sunny weather, near the border with Israel. Whilst the western media are focussing on their elections, terrorism is still running wild. Carry on, carry on.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Debating the Invasion of Iraq

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, 3 questions have been posted for all people who supported the Iraq War at the time.

They are:
First, assuming that you were in favor of the invasion of Iraq at the time of the invasion, do you believe today that the invasion of Iraq was a good idea? Why/why not?

Second, what reaction do you have to the not-very-upbeat news coming of Iraq these days, such as the stories I link to above?

Third, what specific criteria do you recommend that we should use over the coming months and years to measure whether the Iraq invasion has been a success?

As I did, and still do support, the Iraqi war of liberation, here's my best shot.

Firstly, I still believe the invasion of Iraq was a good idea for many reasons, and these include
* It brought instability to the middle east.. this is a GOOD thing. When a region is ruled by violent dictators and monarchs, who pursue weapons and fund terrorism against the West, "stability", or as I prefer to call it, the status quo, is a bad thing.
* Saddam was a brutal and irrational dictator who needed to be contained by equally brutal sanctions that were a form of collective punishment on the Iraqi people. The death toll since the first gulf war has been tremendous and the previous situation was for more inhumane than the current violence.
* It broke the illusion that rogue dictators can hide/delay/stall behind lengthy rounds of diplomacy, and showed once again, the shortcoming of the UN - namely that the UN security council will never authorise force to back up any of its security resolutions.
* I still believe that within months, he could have developed WMDs seeing as he already had the scientists and technology to renew his missile development program.
* It sends a strong warning message to other belligerent rogue states.

Secondly, the current news of violence and bombings in Iraq is serious indeed. I believe that a large share of the blame lies with neighboring states like Syria, or more probably Iran who desire to see Iraq end up in the same way, and be ruled by religious fundamentalists who will harbour terrorists such as Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, and be hostile towards Israel and the West. The beheadings have shown that indeed Al-Qaeda is active inside Iraq and have some infrastructure there. Whilst the challenge is formidable, I believe the US military and Iraqi police can handle the situation if they respond with more force against the perpetrators.

Thirdly, over the coming months, it would be foolish to expect a cessation of violence or of suicide bombings. The best that Iraq could hope for, is to have a semi-stable society similar to Israel. Once a few years pass, the enemies of the current Iraqi government, who carry out the random bombings against civilians, will realise that they cannot bring about an Islamic revolution, or depose the current government, and the violence may subside.

Here are some of my criteria for the Iraq war:

* The level of violence must decline over the coming months. Random suicide bombings will still occur but insurgencies and attacks against US soldiers, coming from certain towns and villages, should be put down.
* Building democratic institutions over the next 3 years
* Continual improvement in basic living standards and economic growth.

Also, there are other criteria about the positive effect that the war can have on the region, and on the impact global terrorism has, that will boost my support for the war. These include
* Spreading of democracy, or even instability, to authoritarian regimes like Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia.
* Spreading of secular education and a free media to these countries
* The development of a thriving Kurdish region in the north of Iraq.
* If other belligerent states increase their compliance with the UN or through diplomatic channels, as both Libya (who abandoned their WMD program) and Syria (who are pressured to end the occupation of Lebanon) have shown.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Book review: "Terror and liberalism", by Paul Berman

As a regular reader of Michael Totten's blog, I have come to read many endorsements of Paul Berman's book "Terror and Liberalism". So I finally seized a copy of the book and read it with great gusto.

Let me say that this book is a fantastic read and I recommend it to anyone regardless of their political or historical knowledge.

I found the book to be extremely appealing and Paul Berman portrays the great conflicts of the 20th century, not in terms of left/right, or religious/secular, or even warring nation states, but in terms of liberalism and democracy versus anti-liberal ideologies.

Nazism, communism, fascism all fit neatly into the anti-liberal basket. And as this book commences with its brilliant introduction, Paul Berman suggests that Western intellectuals have done very little in the last 30 years to pay any attention to the Arab countries. He then poses the idea that both religious Islamic fundamentalism and secular pan-Arabist Ba'athism belong in the same basket, and should be opposed by all liberal democracies.

A great portion of the book examines the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, calling for nothing less than the restoration of the caliphate and the application of Islamic law in all lands.

Berman suggests that these ideas were revived by the encyclopaedic writings of Sayyid Qutb which took seed within the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1970's. These ideas soon spread to Saudi Arabia, and were the inspiration for the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and the mujahadin-led assault against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

Berman then returns his attention to Western leaders and intellectuals who ignored or appeased the rise and spread of Islamic fundamentalism. Wherever it spread, misery, violence and terrorism soon followed. 1 million people were killed between both sides in the Iran-Iraq war. Women were oppressed and disenfranchised. Slavery and ethnic cleansing spread to parts of Africa. Wild propaganda and anti-semitic conspiracies were spread through the mosques and state-run media.

This book takes a hard swing at the left, as Berman highlights how some Western "sophisticated" thinkers appeased or invented excuses for the anti-liberal ideology, no matter how atrocious or violent the outcomes were, and drew comparisons with the French intellectuals who excused or even supported Nazi aggression in WW2.

Paul Berman didn't only identify excusers or appeasers of the anti-liberal ideology on the left. He also attacks people on the right who pursued realist foreign policies. Berman discussed how in 1991, Nixon wrote an op-ed in the NYT supporting the first gulf war, to remove Saddam's forces from Kuwait, for realist reasons. These basically amount to strategic reaons to prevent Saddam from controlling a massive share of the world's oil supply and amassing wealth to pursue weapons. Berman then attacks the coalition that the US formed for the first gulf war, labelling it a collection of monarchs, dictators, tyrants and thugs, namely the UN security council. And despite the first war being explicitly supported by the Saudi monarchy, it did very little as the 1990's were full of Saudi-funded terrorist attacks on American targets.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

More about !

I am a 26 year old guy living in Melbourne, Australia. After studying a combined degree of Electronic Engineering/Commerce at Melbourne Uni, I wound up working as a software engineer developing mobile phones.

My views on different issues are best summed up as:

* I support free trade and capitalism. Despite its failures, its the best system available.

* I am no fan of the welfare "nanny" state. The idea of governments banning anything and everything that can cause harm is a huge loss of liberty and freedom.

* I am no fan of political correctness taken to extremities. The concept of defining what is and isn't politically correct to publish in our media and universities is a suppression of freedom of speech. Who would care to dispute Voltaire, who said it best with "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"

* I am a small-l libertarian on most social issues and think government should stay the hell out of our private lives, bedrooms and relationships.

* I disagree with a government's right to run any industry, and own telephone, utility and other companies. One exception to this is for health and education where a think government should ensure a minimum standard exists for everybody. Beyond this minimum standard, it must be appreciated that health and education are just like other goods and services and thus different people will choose/prefer to consume different quantities and standards of the two products. Let free markets reign !

* When it comes to foreign policy, I see the UN as toothless and morally bankrupt. Some may call my a conservative hawk, a neocon or a RWDB. I define my views as simply; 1) Supporting democracies and liberalism in any conflict, and 2) Opposing fascist, theocratic and totalitarian movements wherever they exist.

This basically means I support the War on Terror, but not for the craven "realpolitik" reasons. I believe that the 20th century has taught the world that sometimes, aggressive anti-liberal ideologies can only be toppled with military force.

* When it comes to the environment and living standards in the third world, I believe science and economic progress has led, and will continue to lead to better outcomes. I am opposed to the manipulation and "junk science" used by green/peace/Greenpeace activists around the world .. i.e the scare tactics used in the depleted uranium myth and the genetically modified foods myth.

Hello World

Ahh my first posting. I'm finally up and running.
A little bit about myself. I've been a frequent and frantic reader of blogs for 2 years, and have often thought that I could contribute to the blogosphere by posting on news, media, politics and culture.

The aim of this blog is to link to good articles and provide perspective especially where its needed. Some media outlets rigidly adhere to their one-sided and inflexible perspectives and filter out bits of news that don't fit in with their biases. As we approach election time, many of them spin political polls tremendously, with irresponsible statistical analysis and without letting the reader know what the margin of error is.

I'm a great admirer of the blogging medium. They empower anybody with a computer and internet connection to keep the media accountable and expose bad journalism, as is the case with Dan Rather and his forged documents.

No single blog is as comprehensive as a major newspaper or network. When it comes to sport or local news, blogs probably can't and won't compete. Besides, most editors don't have any real bias when it comes to reporting these issues. At least that is the case if you compare it to political news, where everybody has strong perspectives.

Even the largest media empires (NY Times, BBC, CBS) aren't professional enough to hide their bias, and dedicated bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are watching their every move.