Friday, May 31, 2002

Maybe There Is Nothing to Get

Now that the World Cup has rolled around once again we'll be sure to be inundated with the usual hand wringing queries concerning the fact that while soccer is widely popular the world over most Americans could care less about the upcoming World Cup. On NPR yesterday I caught a few moments of a show devoted to answering the question, "Soccer. Why don't Americans get it?"

Of course in the NPR world, the fact that Americans find watching soccer about as scintillating as a Tom Daischle/Al Gore debate is a sign of our cultural ignorance and inferiority. If the world approves then we must be the heathens who can't appreciate the true beauty of the sport. Leaving aside whether or not the rest of the world liking something necessarily makes it worthy of our attention( the UN and World Court immediately come to mind as examples) let us consider why soccer might not be all that appealing for Americans. Keep in mind that I played soccer as a youth and find the sport to be a great way to keep in shape and learn teamwork. Just don't make me watch it.

Lack of scoring is often cited as a reason for the lack of interest Americans show in the sport. I tend to disagree as abundant scoring in and of itself is not required for an exciting game. I can name a number of 1-0 Stanley Cup playoff or World Series games that kept their audience in rapt attention throughout.

What differentiates them from your typical one nil soccer match is the number of scoring opportunities. In hockey each team usually is able to muster at least somewhere around twenty shots a game. In baseball every at bat is a potential scoring opportunity. But in soccer a good eighty percent of the game is played in areas well beyond reach of the goal for a real shot at scoring. I understand that this is the tactical part of the game that sets up the eventual scoring opportunities but I just don't accept that it is watchable action. Goalies in soccer can often claim a shutout by making as few as three or four saves a game. Wow that's exciting.

Another problem is that even if there is a vast disparity in the talent levels of the two teams the score still will be close. When the US played Brazil in the 94' World Cup the Brazilians completely dominated the match and not for a moment was the result in doubt. The final score? 1-0. This would be like Nebraska beating Florida A&M 7-0 in college football. Americans want the best team to win and if one team is a lot better they want the score to reflect the difference.

Soccer players in the World Cup tend to be prima donnas who capacity to feign injury is only matched by their whining. None of these guys could last two minutes in a Stanley Cup playoff game. We like to see our players get nailed hard and get back up and give some back. How can you respect a guy who lays on the field after a "leg tackle" writhing in pain for ten minutes and when they finally wheel the stretcher out for him he miraculously gets up and starts jumping around?

Finally there is the whole time thing. Yes, part of the beauty of baseball is that there is no clock. But if there are two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the home team is down you know that the next out will end the game. With the added time component in soccer the games last beyond the allotted time for a period known only to the referee. There is no countdown to victory, no last second shot, no Hail Mary desperation pass. One of the great things about watching sports on TV is turning a game on late and catching the last few exciting moments. In soccer you have no clue when the damn thing is going to end. You might flip to another channel, come back, and it's over. Talk about anticlimactic.

Why don't we "get" soccer? I say there ain't nothing there to get to start with.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Baghdad Will Not Be A Stalingrad

During the closing days of the Gulf War one of the reasons cited for the US not driving on to Baghdad and toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein was that we were afraid of getting bogged down in a protracted military engagement in an urban environment and the large number of causalities that taking and pacifying the city would require. Today the same arguments are being put forth by some in the military for why we should not pursue the war on terrorism to Iraq and end the threat of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam holds against us. A report last week from the detailed the military's concerns about going to war with Iraq and included this excerpt about the Joint Chief's of Staff in particular:

In their Tank sessions, the chiefs focused on two specific concerns about the conduct of any offensive. One was that Hussein, if faced with losing power and likely being killed, would no longer feel the constraints that during the Persian Gulf War apparently kept him from using his stores of chemical and biological weapons. The other was the danger of becoming bogged down in bloody block-by-block urban warfare in Baghdad that could kill thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians.

The first concern seems to give Hussein far too much credit for "constraining" his use of chemical or biological weapons. He didn't feel too constrained about using chemical weapons to gas his own people in the mid-80's or lobbing Scud missiles at Israel during the Gulf War. Had the Iraqis been able to get chemical or biological warheads onto those Scuds I have no doubt they would have. Personally, I would prefer a situation where Hussein desperately attempts to use such weapons while under heavy US attack with little time for preparation, planning, or coordination than sitting back and letting him choose the time and place to put them to use. And if he supplies these weapons to a terrorist group they could be used anywhere in the world without us necessarily knowing that Iraq was behind the attacks until possibly much later.

The second point seems reasonable enough until you start putting it into the proper perspective. When the conversation turns to urban warfare the images that come to mind are of the German 6th Army trapped and annihilated in the ruins of Stalingrad during World War Two suffering hundreds of thousands of causalities. However, there are numerous other urban combat experiences that are probably much more relevant to a discussion about a battle on the streets of Baghdad.

During the Vietnam War thousands of hardened North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces captured the citadel city of Hue in South Vietnam during the 1968 Tet offensive. It took US and South Vietnamese forces twenty six days of fierce fighting to drive the NVA and VC from the city and regain control. The enemy forces were well trained, experienced, and entrenched. Total US causalities were 150 killed and 850 wounded while the South Vietnamese had 350 killed and 1800 wounded. Urban Operations Site

Hue had a civilian population of roughly 100,000 before the battle and so is much smaller than Baghdad's estimated four million. But does anyone think that the sort of resistance offered by the Iraqis would be anywhere near that displayed by the dedicated NVA and VC troops at Hue? It's hard to imagine more than a fraction of Iraq's armed forces choosing to hold out against overwhelming US forces deployed against them. This was dramatically born out by what transpired during the Gulf War. Saddam does have the much talked about 100,000 member strong Republican Guard but any US military plan of action would surely include specially targeting them early and often in the campaign and by the time we reached Baghdad their numbers would be significantly reduced.

Other more recent examples also point out that urban operations do not automatically mean atrocious losses. Somalia is often brought up as an example of what can happen when a modern army is bogged down in an urban environment. But our forces in Mogadishu were small in number and lacked critical support both in armor and in airpower(Spooky gunships anyone?). And even though they stumbled into a trap and were surrounded by thousands of armed Somalis they were able to shoot their way out while suffering eighteen dead and seventy three wounded. They were able to inflict many times that number of losses on the enemy both in killed and wounded. At the time the country lacked the will to sustain causalities in what seemed like a meaningless operation but in the wake of September 11th I have to believe that the American public now recognizes that in order to defend our freedom a price will have to be paid. The price to take Baghdad does not have to be overly expensive.

Recent Israeli military operations in the urban environment of Jenin resulted in the capture of over four thousand Palestinians, the seizure of thousands of weapons, and the destruction of large caches of explosives. The IDF suffered twenty nine killed and one hundred and twenty seven wounded while conducting activities in a manner to completely minimize civilian causalities in order to appease world opinion (not that it did them much good). While I would never condone intentionally inflicting civilian losses I would not expect or want US forces to show the same level of restraint in Baghdad. I also don't believe that the Iraqis would demonstrate the same resistance shown by the Palestinians at Jenin.

The bottom line is this. We need to wage a war against Iraq to eliminate Saddam Hussein. In order for it to be successful we likely will have to take Baghdad and in doing so we will suffer some causalities and so will Iraqi civilians. This is the unfortunate but necessary cost of victory. But the losses will not be a repeat of the ghastly levels of death and destruction witnessed at Stalingrad. Although Saddam admires and respects him, he is no Stalin and the Iraqis are nowhere near the Red Army of World War II.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

We Knew What? When?

It now appears as if the real problem with our pre-9/11 intelligence was not lack of information but rather lack of coordination. Would we be better served with a single intelligence agency that incorporated the duties that now fall under the authority of the FBI and CIA?

If it wasn't for the power of J Edgar Hoover we might already have such an agency. Check out this excellent read from Mark Riebling on National Review Online

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Get Over It

Canuck born and now residing in London columnist Gwynne Dyer had a piece published last weekend in which he urges the US to get over 9/11 and move on to more important matters. I have included a few choice excerpts from it here in italics followed by my comments. If you want to digest the entirety of this vile work it's available here:
Gwynne Dyer in The Hamilton Spectator

For those of you not familiar with Gwynne he is a writer on war and politics with a number of books to his credit one of which somehow survived my occasional purges and remains on my bookshelf at home. That book was the basis of a documentary series on PBS in the mid-80's which purported to demonstrate that man had outgrown the need for war and that the next war would be so terrible that it would likely destroy our civilization completely. Just so you know where he's coming from on. On to the fun.

One day your sister, who lives in a very safe neighbourhood and doesn't get out much, is burgled. Afterwards she keeps calling you up and she talks of nothing else. What upsets her even more than her actual losses is the fact that her home has been violated, so you install an alarm system, put bars on the windows, and listen patiently. She'll get over it in a while. Only months pass, and she doesn't. She wakes at every sound, she becomes a nuisance to the police with her constant false alarms, and she fantasizes about funny-looking people lurking in the neighbourhood. All her other interests fade away and now the world's only real problem is burglars. You try to put up with it, but after eight months you snap. It's time for either frank talk or psychiatric counselling.

Burgled? Such a cute, innocuous word to describe a crime. But when I think of people driving planes with thousands of pounds of jet fuel into buildings that symbolize our society and killing thousands of innocents "burgled" is not the first one that pops into my head. How about violently raped? Do you still want her to get over it Gwynne?

Talk is cheaper, so let's start with that. Over three thousand Americans died horribly in the terrorist attacks eight months ago: a ghastly toll, equal to a full month's shooting deaths in the United States.

Ah yes that smug superiority so evident among the Euro left when discussing the barbarity of American society. What the blazes does the number of monthly shooting deaths in the US have to do with 9/11? Is this supposed to somehow diminish the horror of the events? Do you think anyone mentioned that as many people died in trolley car accidents in 1941 as were killed at Pearl Harbor?

On the same day, U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft was in Canada to discuss the 'G-8 Counter-Terrorism Action Plan'. When uppity Canadian journalists suggested that this was all just to reassure nervous Americans, Ashcroft replied that the September attacks had been aimed at "the entire civilized world. It is not how other countries can serve the United States. The question is how we ... can serve each other in a war against those who would destroy the things in which we believe, namely freedom, human dignity, liberty and opportunity."

Nonsense. Al-Qaeda's September attacks were aimed at the United States because the militants who planned them hate American policies, and even its presence, in the Arab world where they come from. They were wicked men, but they didn't spend one second considering whether they should attack Sweden, Japan, Brazil or anywhere else in the "civilized world."

Dyer completely ignores that fact that Al-Qaeda operations have recently been foiled in France, Spain, and Germany. These planned attacks may have been against US targets but Al-Qaeda certainly isn't going to be too concerned if a few Europeans die as well. Additionally the bombing of a synagogue in Tunisia in which German tourists were killed now appears to have been an Al Qaeda op. To pretend that they only have a specific grievance against the US and pose no threat to the rest of the Western world is ridiculous.

And does Gwynne actually believe that the rest of the "civilized world" would last for more than thirty seconds if Al Qaeda was able to achieve it's aims of driving the US out of the Middle East and establishing a modern day Islamic empire? I don't recall Sweden and Brazil as being the guardians of Western civilization which turned back the forces of fascism and communism which threatened it's existence in the 20th century.

Also on May 13, in New York City, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer was issuing hysterical warnings about terrorists smuggling nuclear weapons into the United States: "We probably have a year or two before any terrorist gets hold of such a device and smuggles it in." Who told him that? The risk of me terrorist getting control of a nuclear weapon and smuggling it into a U.S. port has existed ever since the 60s, but it has always been tiny -- and it hasn't changed a bit in all that time.

This is where it gets absurd. The threat of a terrorist getting hold of a nuclear weapon hasn't changed a bit since the 60's? The possibility of a terrorist acquiring a weapon from the former Soviet Union is not greater than in the 60's? The nuclear proliferation(India, Pakistan, and Israel for certain. North Korea, Iran, and Iraq trying their damndest) since the 60's does not make it more likely for a terrorist to get nukes? The technological advances since the 60's does not make it likelier that a small nuclear device could be smuggled into the US? C'mon now let's be realistic. Perhaps the odds of such an event occurring are still slight but to claim that they have not increased since the 60's is ludicrous.

Taken a bit at a time, none of this foolishness is very harmful. Cumulatively, however, the obsession with terrorism is distorting American policies, distracting the U.S. government from its real priorities, and driving everybody else crazy. It's time to get over it.

What other priority can possibly be higher for the US government then protecting it's citizens from being incinerated in a foreign attack on it's soil? Sorry that we're "driving you crazy" with our "obsession" with terrorism Gwynne. There's just something in the American character that makes it tough to get over the fact that three thousand of our fellow citizens were killed in a single day by a group that wishes to destroy all that our country stands for. I guess we're just difficult that way.

Monday, May 20, 2002

With Friends Like These...

Here's an excerpt from a Saudi columinist writing for the government daily:

"Yes, those being mowed down in Palestine are MARTYRES [sic] to their cause, their honor, their dignity, their land, and their religion - the morons in Washington notwithstanding. We have had enough of double-dealing, double standards, double talk, and double acts on a lousy stage. The 'dudn't' President has overstepped his mark: he has given the green light for a massacre to commence conducted by the most brutal criminal this side of Caligula."

"A few weeks ago a couple in San Francisco were found guilty on behalf of their two dogs that mauled a neighbor to death. The same law is applicable to Bush and Sharon: the dog and its keeper. We do not need a Cicero to pontificate before a court for us to get a verdict. The issue is clear. We also cannot enter into high legal parlance or into philosophical argumentations. The dog and its keeper are not versed in this sort of dialogue. Nevertheless, let us try and simplify it enough for the keeper to understand why the world is not against dogs per se, but against his dog in particular..."

For more from our Arab "allies" check out the full piece from MEMRI

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

This Dragon Is Not Sleeping

A reminder that while we may be preoccupied with events in the Middle East at the moment by far the greatest threat to America's long term security is China. Cozying up with the Iranians is just another example of their attempts to counter US interests around the globe.

Ariel Cohen on China & Iran on National Review Online:

New statements from the Chinese leader's recent visit to Iran and Libya indicate that as the September 11 attacks recedes into the past, China may be exploring the creation of an anti-American alliance in Central Asia. The reactions of the Central Asian countries — including the five post-Soviet states, Iran, as well as Russia — will to a great degree define whether a Chinese-led counterbalance to the United States may be successful.

Give Ol' Gil A Break

I haven't been able to find any internal candidates to fill one of the positions in my group so yesterday the HR gal and I sat down and posted the job on As of 11:30am this morning we already had eight e-mail replies with resumes.

Great right?

No, its fuggin pathetic.

Nearly every one I've perused so far is a man, with years of experience, laid off his last job and now desperately trying for a position well beneath him. That is so frickin' sad. One of these guys has a masters degree for Chrissakes. Another was a supply officer in the Air Force for ten years. And now they're groveling at my feet for a job that is just a notch or two above entry level. Half of these guys have at one time or another held a position that is roughly equivalent to what my boss does today.

You know that I'm usually mister hard-a** bidness guy but go over these resumes and letters is depressing. Doing this for a living would suck the life right outta ya.

The lesson from it is that if you're a late forty/early fitty white guy you can't be in a middle manager role in corporate America. You've got a target on your back and at the first sign of a slump in the stock price you're gone.

"Well we better not touch Donna. Could be a lawsuit waiting to happen. What about Johnson? He's a dependable kind of guy. Been around for a while and makes decent dough. Not likely to cause trouble either. He's the one."

Yeah I exaggerate I bit but don't think that being a white, middle aged, man of European descent doesn't make the decision a whole lot easier. Then what to do you do? Try to find a another job just like the one you lost? Good luck pal. Usually you've reached that position by promotion from within the ranks and that's how it works at other companies too. Plus if you're laid off it means that there are thousands of other schmoes in the same water as you fighting for those few lifeboat jobs floating around.

So you lower your standards. Then lower them again. The wife is breaking your balls because you're barely able to pay the bills and your kids are in college sucking up whatever spare funds you had. You start to think about tapping into some of your retirement accounts and realize just how screwed you are. So you apply for a job that you could have had when you were twenty years younger. And pray to God that you get contacted for an interview.

But you won't. Because the companies don't want an old retread like you even if you are willing to work for significantly less than your last job (One of the guys graduated from the U in 1976 and has worked for twenty five years at a company in Hibbing until getting laid off last April. He would be willing to relocate to Minneapolis and his salary requirements are $40,000. Forty thou? How can he live on that?). How do I know this? Because as much as I might empathize with these guys I have no intention of hiring or even talking to any of them.

Friday, May 10, 2002

The I Didn't Do It Society

One of the main questions raised in Bjorn Lomborg's 'The Skeptical Environmentalist' is why the "Litany", as he terms the environmental movements assertion that the state of the world is getting worse, is such a widely accepted and held belief despite sketchy scientific support for it. I think one of the answers is found in section of the book covering cancers and the threat from pesticides. Lomborg sites a survey that shows that 44% of Americans believed the greatest risk to their health came from environmental sources while only 34% believed that their own personal actions were the biggest factor in their overall health. But studies show that when in comes to cancers the truth is quite different with between 75-80% of the cancers resulting from personal choices while a mere 7-8% occurred because of environmental factors. Why is there such a disconnect with reality for so many?

The culture of victimhood which permeates our society has definitely made it easier for Americans to accept the scare tactics employed by environmental activists. Today, if an American or one of their loved ones contracts cancer the first thing many do is look for someone to blame. What/who caused this terrible disease and, especially in light of the litigious environment we live in, who is going to pay for it?

Instead of accepting personal responsibility for their actions in the case of smoking, unhealthy diet, alcoholism, etc. the person with cancer is now a victim of big tobacco, big liquor, or big fast food. Sometimes cancer strikes people for no apparent reason. This is the chance of fate and most accepted it as such until the last thirty years or so. Now its the chemical company down the street who is to blame or the maker of the contraceptive whether or not there is any real scientific prove of such claims. Movies such as Erin Brochovich reinforce these ideas in people and lead them to believe that big business in poisoning the globe and killing the "little people" in a mad drive for profits at any cost. It doesn't matter that the claims are often based on junk science since companies often settle such cases to avoid bad publicity and juries are often sympathetic to the "victims" whether there is any actual proof that the company was responsible.

So when the latest press release from one of the leading environmental groups claims that breast cancer rates are skyrocketing because of the use of pesticides or some other alarming scare used as a call to action it seems that many are more than willing to swallow it up. In today's everyone is a victim America it has become much easier to point the finger at someone else(especially if that someone is a faceless corporation) rather than take a hard look in the mirror when it comes to accepting responsibility for our health.

Tuesday, May 07, 2002

From the state the concealed from you Sarah Jane Olsen...

From a friend:

A young gentleman named Luke John Helder is the prime suspect in the recent pipe bombings and he is reportedly driving a Honda with Minnesota plates.It looks like he also played guitar for a band named Apathy based in Rochester, MN.

Monday, May 06, 2002

Three to Pass On

If you are at the movie rental store and trying to avoid wasting two precious hours of your life stay away from these three flicks which I had the misfortune of choosing for an evening's distraction:

'The Princess & The Warrior'- A German film from the director who did the fast paced and damned entertaining 'Run Lola Run'. This time his tale of chance and fate falls on its face with boring characters and a dull storyline.

'Va Savoir'- A French made film described as a "farce dealing with romance and relationships". Problem was it wasn't funny. Not in any way shape or form. And I don't believe the film had an editor. Oh, there was an editor listed in the credits but I can't imagine he cut much. Certainly not enough. There were several scenes that either A. had absolutely nothing to do with the story as far as I could tell or B. went anywhere from thirty seconds to a minute past the point where they should have ended. Now most movies have a couple of scenes like this but this one had multitudes. Added up they stretched the movie to well over two hours in length. By the way the title of the film means "Who Knows?" in French which seemed appropriate after sitting through this piece of merde.

'Novocain'- A Steve Martin film that came out last year, played in theaters for a short time, and had some good reviews. At least that's what I thought I remembered about it. This one was labeled a "dark comedy" but it wasn't all that amusing and it required you to suspend your disbelief way too much for my liking. The more I thought about the more I realized that it was also filled with some of Hollywood's laziest clichés. Steve Martin plays a dentist engaged to a beautiful hygienist who embodies the all American girl. He cheats on her with a sleazy drug addict who seduces Martin to steal narcotics from his practice. Of course it turns out that the all American fiancée was actually insane and plotting to frame him while the addict has a heart of gold who ends up helping him clear his name. The movie ends with his fiancée in jail and Martin and the drug addict now pregnant(perhaps she became his wife?) living peacefully in the French countryside. And all the cops are all stupid fat guys who eat donuts. Wow, how original.

Moral Violence

You have to wonder how anyone can utter, let alone believe, something so demonstrably wrong as "violence doesn't solve anything" or "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind," or any other pacifist platitudes. These are the moral and intellectual
equivalents of "the earth is flat." In fact, it is easier to show that violence solves many evils than it is to show that the earth is round.

Excellent piece on JWR from Dennis Prager.

Sunday, May 05, 2002

A Helping Hand From the Commonwealth eh?

Recent military operations in the war on terror have featured British Royal Marines, Canadian soldiers, and Australian special forces supported by US air power working together to root out Taliban and Al Qaeda stragglers in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan. Nice to see that we are not alone in continuing the pursuit of these terrorist groups. It would be helpful if the American media would play up this information since I believe that many Americans feel that we have not received much help from our allies.

Friday, May 03, 2002

The Real Meaning of Genocide

Last night, I was watching the tube and just about ready to hit the hay when I began my last sweep through the channels before retiring to bed. You know just in case something really unusual was on that would never be on again like the episode where Scratchy finally gets Itchy (Wow! They'll never let us show that again. Not in a million years).

I happen across a documentary about genocide on PBS and it is just starting. Drat the luck! This is something I want to see. I realize that this puts me among the .0067% of the population (which probably includes all of you as well) who actually would be disappointed that we can't stay up and watch a show about mass killing.

I elected to indulge myself and watch the first half hour of the show. Now I fancy myself a decent student of history and in particular the 20th century and felt I had a good grasp of the genocidal acts in recent history including the Holocaust, the Ukrainian famine of the 30's, the Armenians in the 20's, Cambodia, and so. But I was struck by the first two subjects of last night's show and how little I really knew about them.

The first was China. In 1959-1960 as part of Mao's "Great Leap Forward" around two million Chinese peasants were more or less intentionally starved to death in an effort to revolutionize and modernize Chinese agriculture. Two million.

The next segment was on Cambodia which I was much more familiar with. However, if you stop and really consider the numbers what occurred there from 75'-79' under the Khmer Rouge is mind boggling.. Estimates are that one to three million people were exterminated in the "killing fields". That in and of itself is horrifying but you also must account for the fact that Cambodia's population in 1975 was around ten million. So somewhere between ten and thirty percent of the population was eliminated in under five years.

Numbers like these are almost impossible to comprehend and to it is difficult to think of the immense human suffering that resulted from these acts of genocide. But how many Americans today even have the faintest idea of what transpired in these countries in the not so distant past? I'm sure that most college students would be able to tell you all about the four students shot at Kent State protesting the Vietnam War and the massacre of hundreds(possibly as high as five hundred) of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. And indeed they both were tragic and regrettable incidents. But what do they know of the support from North Vietnam and China that fueled the Khmer Rouge insurgency or of the fact that when the US decided to wash it's hands of Southeast Asia and refused to send supplies to the Lan Nol government it directly led to the murderous Khmer Rouge seizing control? Do they know that the Khmer Rouge were French educated Communists intent of imposing their view of a Communist utopia at any cost? That as horrible as the Holocaust was it is easily eclipsed by the numbers murdered in Communist genocides throughout the century?

To turn the Gospel on it's head a bit, it seems at time that Americans(and the West in whole) can notice the little piece of dust in our own eyes but yet ignore the big piece of wood in the eyes of others.

Today, you can see an example of this in the clamor for an investigation into the "massacre" at Jenin. The total numbers of dead vary between fifty one and fifty three in the reports I've seen. According to the Israelis forty four of the fifty one were armed fighters and the other seven were civilians whose deaths they regret. The Palestinian's acknowledge that some of the dead were fighting but claim more were civilians. The Israeli Army reported twenty three soldiers killed in the fighting. Think about it.

A fierce battle that lasted for days involving tanks, helicopter gunships, RPGs, automatic weapons, and God knows what else in a densely packed urban environment and we need to investigate to determine why a few dozen civilians may have been killed? How about a study to look at how the IDF was able to carry out such an operation with such a minimal loss of civilian life?

I daresay that in the annals of modern military history I cannot think of one instance of an army entering a city to engage enemy forces in intense firefights and having so few "collateral" causalities. The fact that twenty three Israelis soldiers were killed is a testament to the care that the IDF took to avoid civilian causalities. Kicking doors in one at a time and rousting out those inside is a much more dangerous task then simply leveling buildings with tanks and mowing down those inside as they flee. Or surrounding a city and leveling it with artillery and aerial bombing as the Russians did to Grozny not that many years ago.

Why is it that the intentional deaths of millions driven by a inhumane ideology are so easily forgotten and never called to accountability (how many Americans who have supported Communism have ever admitted their culpability in the horrors the movement spawned worldwide?) while any incident by the US or it's allies(now pretty much limited to Britain and Israel) that results in any loss of live is magnified and never allowed to rest no matter how unintentional it was or how many times we admit our fault and apologize it?

Thursday, May 02, 2002

The Last "Refuge" of the Scoundrels

An excellent piece today by James Lileks, The Bleat, led to this brotherly exchange:

The one question I have regarding the Jenin "Refugee" camps is how come there are houses there if its a refugee camp? When one thinks of refugee camps, you think of tents and no running water and certainly no terlets. You think of long lines of skinny people waiting to get a small cup of wheat paste and a sip of Camel-pissed water.

I think the press uses this term because it makes the situation look and sound much worse than it is: "Isreali tanks roll into refugee camp" sounds much worse than "Isreali tanks go into neighborhood to find cowardly terrorists so they don't kill any more innocent civilians".

The left is mad at Isreal for destroying the HOUSES of a REFUGEE camp? As Tom Hanks said in Big "I don't get it".

Excellent look at the way that most of the media uses the words refugee and refugee camps to garner sympathy for the Palestinians. The majority of them probably aren't doing so consciously to demonize the Israelis, it just makes for a better story line.

I've written before about a particularly disturbing pattern I've noticed in the reporting on the Church of the Nativity battles which once again surfaced last night. I actually heard an ABC news report say that "hundreds of Palestinians have taken refuge(that word again) in the church some of whom the Israelis claim are Palestinian gunmen." The image that line projects is of a bunch of civilians cowering in the church in fear of the Israeli tanks outside that surely will grind them under their treads if they dare leave with a few Palestinians with weapons among them. In reality the church was occupied by armed Palestinians who have used it as a haven to escape Israeli capture while at the same time taking pot shots at IDF troops when they get a chance.

Yesterday, fargin' Arafat tried to claim that the Israelis were responsible for desecrating a holy place by surrounding the church, a ludicrous statement that ignores the fact that had the Palestinians stayed out of the church in the first place the Israelis would have left it alone. Another news story I heard described a Palestinian in the church being killed by "Israeli gunmen" as if the Israelis were a bunch of outlaws running amok shooting up the town. To not recognize that the IDF is a highly trained, professional, and uniformed military force fighting against terrorists who use the civilian population as cover is to deny reality.

Just Don't Step On Your Glasses

While checking out the National Review Online site I discovered that Dinesh D'Souza has a new book out called 'What's So Great About America'. Having read and respected D'Souza's earlier works my instant thought was, "I must have this book. Now." Then, I started thinking about the books I already have at home that I haven't read, my wish list of eighteen books at B&, and the countless other books that have caught my eye at one time or another in the past couple of months and I started getting depressed.

When will I ever have the time to devour all the works that I must get through? Right now I'm reading the "Skeptical Environmentalist" while at the same time plodding through a collection of C.S. Lewis, one essay at a time. After that? My John Adams biography which was put on hold after September 11th needs to be attacked. But I also have Victor Davis Hansen's "Carnage & Culture" lurking in the shadows teasing me with great promise. I managed to get about a third of the way through the Oxford History of Islam and finishing it is another goal of mine.

Yesterday, I further complicated matters by ordering the latest work by Bernard Lewis, the preeminent Middle Eastern scholar. When it arrives next week it will have to relegated to the shelf for who knows how long. Throw in the cover to cover reading that I like to do with my bi-weekly National Reviews, the weekly USN&WR perusal, and the daily paper duties and I feel like the Burgess Meredith Twilight Zone character who longs only for "time. The time to read all these wonderful books."

And then I hear people who can't imagine retiring from the grind of corporate drudgery because they just don't know what they would do with their time. Me? I could retire right now at thirty three, spend the rest of my life reading, and not even come close to running out of material. So many books, so little time.