28 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #3: Surge and Insurgency

One question that anyone is likely to be asked nowadays is "What do you think of the war?" My answer begins in turn with a question: "Which war?" The 2003 action to depose Sodom—I mean, Saddam "Hussein" (not his real name) was a different conflict from that going on in Iraq now, which has been incited not by partisans of the late strongman but by terrorists and militants from various countries who have flocked to the region for the opportunity to kill Westerners and anyone else who opposes them. With that distinction made, I say that the first war was a necessary evil and that the second ought not to have become necessary. Let me address the 2003 invasion first.
The decision to go to war versus Iraq five years ago was the only one that a statesman could have made. During the dozen years that had elapsed since Operation Desert Storm, Sodom, though a rather inept tyrant of a minor military power, had made a laughing-stock of world diplomacy's efforts to enforce the resultant peace settlement (to which, remember, he had consented, in order to spare his armed forces utter annihilation). Some of the UN weapons-inspectors changed their story after the 2003 invasion, but prior to it, they repeatedly stated their consensus that the Iraqi regime was not cooperating with them. This alone ought to refute the leftist conspiracy-theory that President Bush knew all along that Iraq had none of those "weapons of mass destruction," but lied as a pretext for war: if Sodom had nothing to hide, why did he try so hard to hide it?
Besides, the question of whether what lay behind the dictator's defiance was actual harboring of illegal ordnance, or merely the ambition to harbor it—that he had at least the latter is indisputable—is moot. The sole responsible position for a member-country of the 1991 coalition to take was to tell Sodom: We defeated you before, and we can do so again. End your noncompliance, or prepare for another invasion.
Further, imagine for a minute that weapons of mass destruction were never an issue. Wouldn't there have been ample justification for ousting Sodom anyway? Where were the self-righteous "peace activists" in 1994, when Mr. Bush's predecessor brought the USA to within a hair's-breadth of war in Haiti? The ostensible purpose of that misadventure was to topple a different ruler: Manuel Cedras, a distasteful person to be sure, but not one whom anybody ever suspected of stockpiling nuclear, chemical, or biological weaponry.
As for the second war, which has proceeded from the effort to give the Iraqis a new government and to suppress the jihadists: the USA and her allies showed a pronounced lack of imagination in rebuilding Iraq as a "democracy," based on the sharing of power between mutually antagonistic groups. Why not carve off the northeast section of the state to become an independent Kurdistan, as was provided anyway in the unratified Treaty of Sèvres, intended to bring Turkish participation in World War I to a formal close?  The remainder could simply be annexed to Jordan, the royal dynasty of which also reigned in Iraq prior to the 1958 coup (which, unsurprisingly, was followed by more coups, culminating in the rise of Sodom).
Finally, I do not deny the undeniable success of the new policy that the Bush Administration adopted in 2007. (It must be noted, though, that the reason why it has borne fruit is not really the addition of 30,000 troops—this is why the name "Surge" is misleading—but the fact that the military now has a counterinsurgency strategy, whereas, previously, the presence of US and other forces in Iraq served no evident function other than that of a crutch for the chronically, and, I still believe, terminally-ill elected government.) Our soldiers and others are defeating thousands of terrorists, and this fact does deserve recognition.

26 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #2

Use of "Common Era" (CE) and "Before Common Era" (BCE) in place of "Anno Domini" (AD) and "Before Christ" (BC) is:

  1. Paranoid.  One doesn't hear theists griping over the fact that every day of the week is called either directly or indirectly after a pagan deity (e.g., Thursday after Thor, Sunday after the sun god).  Christians understand that the days received their names in heathen times, but that this system has become conventionalized, and that there is therefore no need to change it; the neo-pagans ought to show similar equanimity over the conventionalized naming of the Christian Era.
  2. Dishonest.  What's common about the "Common Era?"  I could have a little respect (though only a little) for the CE-&-BCE crowd if they had found a date that marked a watershed in the history of every civilization, at which a true "common era" could be said to have commenced; but, of course, they didn't do this.  Instead they merely appropriated the Christian Era and renamed it, as if by playing word games they could deny what they evidently consider to be the traumatic (see above) reality that this chronology begins with the birth of the Savior.

19 May 2008

Uncommon Commentary #1

Why is "human" used as a noun nowadays?  My question isn't just rhetorical: the answer is, of course, political correctness (or, to use my own coinage, "totalitarianism light"), but those who are PC could also call us "people," "persons," &c.  Using "humans" to refer to ourselves, in addition to perhaps being ungrammatical, definitely sounds stultified: it's as if a scholar from another planet were writing a treatise about the inhabitants of Earth.