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Russ Goble is just some guy who tests software for a living. But, he is very opinionated. Whether it's politics, economics, sports, pop culture or technology, he has an opinion. This is why his wife and friends are supportive of this website. They see it as a release for all that crap in his head. So that, maybe, Russ will shut up at the next Super Bowl Party.
The opinions expressed here are the opinions of Russ Goble, and Russ Goble only. They are not necessarily the opinions of his wife, his friends, George Bush, Tom Glavine, the Pope, and certainly not Tom Daschle.




























Big Mouth Cafe
Yes, I talk too much. by Russ Goble
 

Saturday, September 14, 2002  

I could only dream of being as good of a writer as Jonah Goldberg. Here's his take on the Bush speech.

What a perfect argument: You say we are defying the U.N., Kofi, but the reality is that you are defying it. We do not want to do the U.N.'s work for it. But if you won't stand up for the standards and ideals you set, then we will stand up for them. And if you are not with us — if your "statesmen" sit out the fight arguing about clever cheeses and tut-tutting the U.S. in the International Herald Tribune — then your demands and resolutions are nothing more than the vapor that dissipates from the body of a bureaucrat when his spine is removed. You will join the League of Nations in the dustbin of history, and your pretty headquarters will be nothing more than a giant pet rock on the East River — and perhaps a useful excuse to send your wives on New York shopping trips.

When Bush left the room, one could almost see the giant red welt on Kofi Annan's face, left there after Bush's proverbial pimp-slap.


12:31 PM

Friday, September 13, 2002  

In Your Face: (WINDBAG ALERT - THIS WILL BE LONG) I said a couple of days ago that I was looking forward to Bush's address to the U.N. General Assembly. I thought it could really set the stage for the next phase of the poorly named War on Terror. I also thought it could change the world. Did it live up to my expectations? Will it change the world? Well, I certainly think it was one of the most remarkable speeches I've heard in a long time. It probably fits nicely into what is now a trilogy of dynamic foreign policy speeches for the president (this year's State of the Union, Bush's speech on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict where he basically said to the Palestinians "when you want democracy instead of bloodshed, give us a call", and now this one).

First off, some notes. This speech was delivered at an annual gathering at the U.N. where the president, along with other heads of state or foreign ministers gathers for a big gabfest. So, this wasn't anything new. They didn't gather just to hear Bush. The timing of the event I assume had to do with September 11th, but, again, this was a normal gathering. That's why the words that Bush spoke were so important. He was talking to his peers. He was shaming them for allowing the U.N. to become a joke.

Also, a personal note about where I come from. I've traditionally been an internationalist. I'm certainly not an isolationist. I believe multilateralism is good to an extent. I think allies are a wonderful thing to have. I also have been somewhat of a fan of the U.N. Part of this comes from actually learning about the U.N. in school. I participated in local Model U.N.'s (mock U.N. sessions) in both high school and college. I even had the opportunity to go to the National Model U.N. in 1989, where I played the part of a General Assembly delegate for Bulgaria before the wall fell. (No, I'm not a communist, but I played one on TV). I even participated in a session in the very hall that Bush delivered his speech in yesterday. Way cool. All this led me to believe in the U.N.'s usefulness. But, it also reminded me of how we were to "act" out the part of delegates. We, after all, had to make decisions based on what "our" countries would do. This taught me that, while the U.N. is a multilateral body, EVERYONE is ultimately acting in their own unilateral self interest. Over the last decade though, as I've gotten older and better informed (what you learned in school wasn’t enough? No, that can't be!), I learned that the U.N. has a corrupt bureaucracy and can be an inefficient tool for settling disputes. Ideally, its goals are in the right place. In practice, it's a train wreck. In practice, you give equal leverage a dictator as you do to an elected government. This has allowed it to be hijacked as an anti-Semitic body that spends far too much time bitching about the imperfect democracy in Israel, rather than actually doing something about the corrupt governments all over the world that are the REAL reason for mass poverty and suffering. The U.N. has fallen far short of its vision. That's where Bush comes in.

The morning started off with a speech from the Secretary General of the U.N., Koffi Anan. His speech had 2 main thrusts. First, it was a sales job for multilateralism. This part was well written, well delivered, and totally from a fantasy world. He made the same wrong assumption that we've heard from way too many of our own congressman, TV talking heads, and former employees of the State Department. That assumption is that multilateralism is the goal of the War on Terror not the means to winning it. Senator Biden echoed this himself by saying the U.S. should not proceed on Iraq if we don't have international support. How will an international consensus that rubber-stamps our taking out Saddam make the world any safer? More importantly, if Biden and Anan are to be believed, if we DON'T take out Saddam because we haven't gotten the proper "Go get'ems" from our allies, how will THAT make the world a safer place?

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Anan's 2nd thrust was of vital importance
though. He did basically tell the U.N. it must act on Iraq. So, despite the hemming
and hawing from the world community and Anan himself about the US "seeming"
to act unilaterally, the U.N.'s head man had basically come around to the US party
line.

Now, onto the analysis of Bush's speech. It had 3 purposes. It was a lecture, a call to action, and most importantly, it was a vision.

As a lecture, it must have absolutely grated on European and Arab delegates
that this unsophisticated cowboy had the nerve to remind them (them!) of just
how poorly they had performed their jobs over the last decade. He first warned
them not to be like their predecessor, the League of Nations:

We created a United Nations Security Council so that, unlike
the League of Nations, our deliberations would be more than talk, our resolutions
would be more than wishes
. After generations of deceitful dictators and
broken treaties and squandered lives, we've dedicated ourselves to standards
of human dignity shared by all and to a system of security defended by all.


Today, these standards and this security are challenged. (Emphasis:
Mine)


He then proceeded to lay out the case against Saddam, complete with the U.N.
resolutions that no one had seriously enforced since 1991, and totally gave
up enforcing in 1998. He went through a multitude of specific resolutions that
had been defied and how ALL the demands placed on Saddam BY THE U.N. were completely
ignored. This was the key passage that displayed how ridiculous this has become.
It should be noted that his voice became louder and more frustrated as he spoke
these words.


Just months after the 1991 cease-fire, the Security Council twice
renewed
its demand that the Iraqi regime cooperate fully with inspectors,
condemning Iraq's serious violations of its obligations.


The Security Council again renewed that demand in 1994,
and twice more in 1996, deploring Iraq's clear violations of its obligations.
The Security Council renewed its demand three more times in 1997,
citing flagrant violations, and three more times in 1998, calling Iraq's
behavior totally unacceptable. And in 1999, the demand was renewed yet again.
(Emphasis: Mine)



There is a reason Iraq is priority #1, particularly to the U.N. Why? Because it has the
most resolutions passed against it that require specific things (not the wish
lists like in the Palestinian resolutions). And it is the one nation currently
in violation of every single one of those resolutions.


Instead of excerpting the entire speech, Bush reminded us of the following violations by Iraq:



  • Iraq invaded 2 neighbors without provocation. No other current regime
    has done this (and I don't have the space right now to to point out why the
    US doesn't fit this category)

  • Iraq used a weapon of mass destruction (poison gas) on its own citizens
    and the citizens of another nation. No other current regime is known to have
    done this.

  • Iraq agreed to scuttle it's long range missile program and all programs
    related to chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It did not.

  • Iraq agreed to allow inspectors to go anywhere anytime to make sure
    they were living up to their agreements. They did not.

  • Iraq kicked out U.N. mandated inspectors in 1998. That qualifies as completely
    defying the demands they agreed to in order to save his regime in 1991.

  • Iraq continues to persecute, oppress and torture his own citizens and possibly
    the 600 foreign nationals that he agreed to turn over but did not.

  • Iraq was adding to his weapons of mass destruction program while inspectors
    were there
    . Why should we assume Iraq stopped once they were kicked out?

  • Iraq agreed to the "oil for food" program. Saddam has instead
    diverted funds from this food program into his own coffers to build palaces
    and enhance his military arsenal. He, therefore is responsible for the starvation
    that exists in his own nation. He blames United Nations for this starvation.


Many of Bush's critics like to change the subject. Last night on Fox News, Juan Williams tried this by pointing
out that a lot of the complaints about Iraq can be leveled at many of our "allies". This is how that reasoning goes:


"Hey, why are you fixing that pot hole right now? Don't you know we have
a whole bunch more up the road"


"Uh, yes. But this is the biggest one and it's in the middle of the road. Plus, I don't have the resources to
fix ALL the other ones right now."


"But how can you fix this one knowing that other potholes exist?"


"You want me to fix the other ones too?"


"Well, no, the tar really stinks up the whole area. Besides, my website
"PotholesAreBad.Org" would probably go out of business if they all
got fixed."


Right now, Iraq is the priority, particularly in a diplomatic sense. The U.N. has a vested
interest into how Iraq behaves. We know Saudi Arabia (among others) will probably have to
be dealt with as an enemy at some point, but that's not the priority right now.

Here's money quote from his lecture that tells the assembly to stop being so damned willfully blind:

The history, the logic and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein regime is a grave and gathering danger.

To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble, and this is a risk we must not take.

He summed up the lecture portion with this:


The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority
of the United Nations and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N.
demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United
Nations a difficult and defining moment.


Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced or cast aside without
consequence?


Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding or will it be irrelevant?


The United States help found the United Nations. We want the United Nations
to be effective and respectful and successful. We want the resolutions of the
world's most important multilateral body to be enforced. And right now those
resolutions are being unilaterally subverted by the Iraqi regime.



Bush's message is clear. You can't on the one hand lecture the US about how
the United Nations is the only way to accomplish anything in the international arena,
while allowing the very authority of the U.N. to be challenged by Iraq. If, as
Koffi Anan stated, that multilateral measures are the only way to go about things,
and as he said, the U.N. is the best multilateral body, then why the hell won't
it act to enforce it's measures already passed? If it won't enforce it's measures,
why then should it be taken seriously?


Also, there is a master stroke in that last paragraph I excerpted. "We
want the resolutions of the world's most important multilateral body
to be enforced. And right now those resolutions are being unilaterally
subverted by the Iraqi regime." This is a finger in the eye of all those
who have complained about US unilateral actions, while ignoring the unilateral
actions of everyone else. Great speech writer.


I think it was a damn effective lecture. Now, let's look at call to action. Bush basically
said that the US would put forth still further resolutions making demands on
Saddam's regime. These demands are the same ones he agreed to before. He added
to those demands by asking for allowance of political dissent. He also demanded
that they return all funds stolen from the oil for food program and that that
program would now be administered by the U.N. instead of Iraq. Bush will basically
get the U.N. to make demands he knows Saddam will not keep. But this time, there
will be a consequence for noncompliance: the removal of Saddam from power.


Finally, we get to the vision. He repeatedly harped on "democracy"
for Muslims, which had to make the Arabs livid. First, he gave some lip service
to the Israel/Palestinian issue.


America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine,
living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people,
Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to
their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to
their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the
conflict.


Everyone knows Arafat is a dictator. This goes back to Bush's major speech
in the early summer where he cast aside the terrorists in Arafat's government
as "partners for peace." He demanded that the Palestinians choose
a new and moderate leader. If they do that, then we'll talk. The world community
thought that Bush was insane for taking this stance. Of course, the rate of
suicide bombings has dropped dramatically since then because we stopped lecturing
the Israelis and let them do what they wanted militarily. And, Arafat is slowly
losing his grip on power. The Palestinian parliament is trying to exert some power,
even though some of it's members risk their life doing so. Arafat's Fatah movement is even thinking
about renouncing suicide bombings. This happened because we stopped negotiating
with terrorists and we allowed Israel to defend itself. And, while, their is
a very long way to go in achieving Bush's vision, once he spoke, the Palestinians
finally had to take matters into their own hands and realize that violence is
not the way to achieve their goals.


Bush threw that vision into the delegate's faces. Their will be democracy
in the middle east. Multiculturalists continue to insists that democracy, liberty,
women's equality are some sort of strange western value not to be expected of
the noble savages of the Muslim world. Well, Bush said that these are universal
wishes. And it's about time we gave it a whirl in that part of the world.


If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger,
we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their
captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine
inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their
example that honest government and respect for women and the great Islamic tradition
of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that
the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.


These are dangerous times we live in. The terrorists of September 11th forced
the issue. Those who wish to act as if September 11th was a fluke, or worse,
OUR FAULT, need to get with the program. Iraq is the most logical choice for
US military action because it has violated U.N. demands that it agreed to. As
for the war on terror, the hatred and ignorance of the Islamic fundamentalist
is not some problem born out of poverty or globalization. It is a mass psychotic
death cult that needs to be rooted out. The way to do this, is to give people
hope through the wonders of liberty and secular democracy. The Arab Street is filled
with hate because a vocal and violent minority have brainwashed many of the
followers of Islam. It's time mosque is separated from state. Bush, the unsophisticated
bible-thumping cowboy, has laid forth a vision that could be the absolute best
thing to happen to the Muslim world. Their will be pain involved. We may lose
some of our young men and woman in doing so. But, Bush laid the ground work
for a future where people shouldn't have to worry about losing their life or
a loved one due to some random act of violence motivated by theocratic hatred.


Bush gave the U.N. one last go at diplomacy. But talk, as they say is cheap. If it
doesn't work, it's time go in the hard way. However, in doing so, we could have
a better world for our children. That is what Bush put forth at the U.N. yesterday.


8:35 AM

Thursday, September 12, 2002  

A Weblog Legend: James Lileks is just an amazing writer. He writes for the Star Tribune out of Minneapolis. He seems to have a hobby of old collecting old Americana. He also writes a daily "bleat" which sometimes is just personal stuff or observations on pop culture. But, when he delves into politics, he walks with giants. I'll be linking to him a lot. The graphic he chooses at the top is sometimes of little importance. Then again, sometimes it's not. Today's graphic is priceless as I'm sure the article is as well.
5:47 AM

 

Tolkien's relevancy: Instapundit is accepting quotes from Tolkien. Go here and here.
5:42 AM

Wednesday, September 11, 2002  

There are several things I'd like to keep in mind today.

1. The passengers on Flight 93 did more to insure that another plane will not be successfully hijacked than anything the Homeland Security folks will do.

2. As Lou Dobbs noted several months ago, this is a War against the Islamists. Or a War against the Islamo-fascists. War on Terror is short and sweet but like so many other "War on X" cliches, really doesn't tell the whole story. This is not a war against Islam. But, it may become one unless their is rapid reform of many of the Muslim powers that be.

3. We have 2 choices in the long run. One, we can give up freedoms here at home to stop future terrorism. Or, we can take the battle to them, abroad, in order maitain our freedoms here at home. I vote option #2.

4. For our liberal colleagues in America. As the pro-war socialist Christopher Hitchens noted last September, the terrorists don't hate what liberals hate about America. The terrorists hate what liberals LIKE about America.

5. Finally, in case anyone bothers to equate those who died last September to the innocents who have been killed in Afghanistan, or the West Bank, or possibly Bagdad in the near future, there is a HUGE difference in INTENTIONALLY targetting civilians and trying NOT to hit civilians. That the difference between them and us.
10:37 AM

 

Many of the anti-American diatribes have come from the newspapers in Britain. Well, it's important to note that not all Britain feels that way. Here's one example.
8:35 AM

 

What am I doing to commemorate September 11th? Well, this weblog is one thing. I've been reading weblogs for a little over a year now. Politically oriented web logs have exploded on the net and have served as a far more useful source of info on the world than CNN ever could since September 11th. So, I'm finally getting off my butt and focusing on my own. I have no idea who will read this. I'll be satisfied with family and friends.

Personally, we put out our flag this morning. I've read all sorts of stuff this morning. And I've done a little work. But, it's hard to stay focused. It feels like the calm before the storm. I don't really plan on watching much TV except maybe the Seinfeld and Babylon 5 reruns. I'll definately tune in to the president's speech at 9:00.

My wife is home with my boy today. He's been a pill. He didn't get enough sleep. So, she hasn't had an opportunity to tune in to anything but Sesame Street. She was trying to feed him at 8:46. I was getting caught up on my e-mail. She was at work this time last year and he was at the sitter. I was doing the same thing one year ago. That was when I got a call from a friend's wife who knew I worked from home.

She said, "Are you watching?".

"Huh?" Was my articulate reply.

"A plane just hit the World Trade Center."

So I turned on the TV figuring it was a small prop plane gone astray. I tuned in just in time to see the 2nd plane hit. I can't remember if I watched it live or a replay of a moment earlier. She clearly didn't know a 2nd one had hit, so it must have just happened. My heart sank. Adrenaline kicked in and I could only think "Oh shit, we are being attacked." I remember the shock of the first tower falling. I totally lost it. I hadn't cried that hard in a long time.

I did what every American did. I called my wife and the babysitter. My wife said that a friend of hers, who also was a former babysitter for us, was unable to get in touch with any of her relatives who lived in New Jersey in the shadow of Manhatten's skyline. The phone lines were totally jammed up there. Fortunately, they were all fine. I started switching between CNN, Fox & MSNBC. I talked on AOL Instant Messenger to various friends who were likewise freaking out.

I'm having a much quieter day today. I don't know why, but I really don't want to WATCH anything about it. I'm reading a LOT of stuff, but I don't want to watch anything. I don't even plan on watching ESPN knowing that everything will take a back seat to 9/11. I guess that's as it should be.

But I think tomorrow is going to be a big day. I think Bush's speech to the U.N. will open up the next, probably more dangerous phase. We'll see. I saw a news conference with Bush at the Afghan embassy yesterday in which he basically deferred all Iraq related questions with "Tune into my speech on Thursday. It's an important speech." I just get the feeling, the world's political axis is about to shift again. I hope so. I hope Bush puts forth the airtight case against Iraq. And I hope he does so in a way that makes the career diplomats at the U.N. shudder. After all, the tightest part of the case against Iraq is that Saddam has violated everything he agreed to do. These agreements were made with the U.N., not the U.S. Yet, at a time when we are being lectured about backing out of the outdated ABM treaty, we are told by these same people that the U.N. resolutions with Iraq aren't relavent. Sorry, folks, you can't have it both ways. You either believe international agreements matter or they don't. You can't pick and choose. Actually you can. But so can the U.S. I hope that's what Bush says. And I hope he says that there will be democracy in Iraq. That statement alone could cause Iran to fall. And it would raise the stakes for the Saudis who certainly don't want a democracy anywhere near them.

Maybe I'm hoping for to much. But everytime Bush has made a major policy speech, the world has seemed to shift. I think tomorrow is likely to be that way again.

Lastly, I think Bush's timing is perfect. He's not making his U.N. speech today. Today is a day for remembrance and taking a step back to take stock of the last year. I think that is what he is going to remind us of today. Tomorrow, will be the day we get back to work. His U.N. speech will demonstrate what this means. I hope.
8:18 AM

 

Tony Blair pretty much nails it. (via Andrew Sullivan)

Suppose I had come last year on the same day as this year - September 10. Suppose I had said to you: there is a terrorist network called al-Qaida. It operates out of Afghanistan. It has carried out several attacks and we believe it is planning more. It has been condemned by the UN in the strongest terms. Unless it is stopped, the threat will grow. And so I want to take action to prevent that.
Your response and probably that of most people would have been very similar to the response of some of you yesterday on Iraq.
There would have been few takers for dealing with it and probably none for taking military action of any description.

7:40 AM

 

Mark Steyn is one of my favorites. This article is a great example why. He notes how the Bush Doctrine of pre-emption basically started on Flight 93. I don't know if anyone has perfectly described what we owe the people on that flight. They did more to guarantee no more hijackings than any Homeland Security measure ever will.
5:34 AM

Tuesday, September 10, 2002  
What do you mean it was out? The man often rememberd as a crybaby has some interesting advice for his fellow Americans. And what I discovered from reading this is that winning Wimbledon apparently doesn't make you any smarter. I'll disect this mind numbing piece of drivel because it's uniquely contradictory. He manages to long for Churchill while suggesting that we should learn to lose.

He starts out innocently enough talking about September 11th, his feelings about it and that it's very new experience for America. Then he starts to go off the deep end.

As a boy I grew up believing everything was black and white. It came as a shock to discover that most things in life were grey and the most horrific example of that was the attacks on New York and Washington. You think to yourself, "How could someone justify that?" But they did.

Apportioning blame was not as cut and dried as people liked to think. I mean, didn't we arm Iraq in their war against Iran? And didn't we back that same Osama bin Laden, who wreaked such havoc and misery upon our country, in his fight against the Russians?

Well, yes I guess that is true. And without rehashing the Cold War and the rise of Shiite Fundamentalism, the retort is very simple. Yes, but we didn't ask them to point those weapons at us. Oh, and helping someone fight a war you would think would be received with GRATITUDE.

If there is any good to come from this act of evil it is that ultimately it may help us to understand what other people in the world are thinking, be they our friends or our enemies. As a nation we've lost sight of that. We have to improve communication, to be more aware of our shortcomings as well as our strengths.

You know I agree that it might help to understand what others think of us. But that doesn't put the burden on us. How the hell could we improve communication any more? Does any other nation allow more TV time to it's enemies than the U.S.? Does any other nation's state funded universtities' go so far out of their way to show the perspective of other nationalities and foreign cultures? We do need to be more aware of our shortcomings, as should anyone, but this doesn't mean squat about September 11th. But, wait, there's more!

The lack of uniformity in the world's approach to dealing with terrorism is only further proof that we need to find common ground. I think that President Bush has realised he doesn't have the support he thought he had for an attack on Iraq; like all politicians he has just been seeing which way the wind is blowing before he bends with it.

The first sentence is fair enough on the surface. How then, does he get to the next sentence. This is so false on so many levels. First, the idea that Bush is just playing politics. Bush has been stating that regime change in Iraq should be a goal of the U.S. since the frickin election. Since JANUARY, he's made it pretty clear that policy has moved up the priority list. And, as we'll find out this week, he's not going to be the one to bend. An invasion of Iraq has looked DOA in world opinion for most of the summer. But, now we have Tony Blair giving speeches. We have Chirac giving ultimatums to Saddam. We have most of the UN resigning itself to the idea that Saddam is on his way out. The rest of the world is bending towards Bush. Not the other way around. And it's been pretty clear that official administration policy was that we didn't need any help or support to deal with Iraq.

The lack of uniformity he speaks of is almost entirely due to foreign sniping about the supposed simple-minded cowboy in the White House. Bush, unlike dear Mr. McEnroe, didn't spend a whole lot of time worrying about what our enemies thought. He had bigger priorities. Like making sure Sept. 11th didn't happen again. What a dipshit.

There are very few people who lead in the way Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, did during last year's tragedy, who have a set of convictions and don't give a hoot about the next election. In Britain, you had it with Winston Churchill during the Second World War. The world needs more people like them.

This I guess is meant to be a slam on Bush. SInce he obviously cares only about the next election, he's not as much of a leader as Giuliani. Look, I don't care if someone doesn't like Bush, but to think he's just playing politics requires a level of willful ignorance that I can't describe. I don't have the time or the place to document all that Bush has done in office that bucked conventional wisdom. Pretty much his entire foreign policy (except for the initial Afghan operation) has caused a conniption among the entire mainstream media as well as most Democrats. Daschle has been "gravely concerned" on a weekly basis about most of the actions taken by the Bush foreign policy team. Given that mainstream media coverage certainly has an impact on Joe Six-Pack's perspective, you'd think he might start worrying about all the nonsense coming from the press. But he keeps on doing what he feels is right. And if you've heard any of Bush's words and watched his actions, you'd see he's been pretty damn consistent (at least on foreign policy).

But his next line is just amazing. He invokes Churchill and says the world needs more people like him. Spend any time looking at Churchill's actions and compare them to Bush's and you'll see a lot of similarities, chief of which is the ability to call a spade a spade. Evil is Evil. Keep his desire for more Churchills in mind. He then talks about why he's proud to be a New Yorker and how it was weird focusing on the U.S. open with Sept. 11th approaching. Then he concludes with the following.

In travelling the world as a tennis player, I have a better appreciation of other countries than most Americans. We could do with being a little less besotted with money, money, money, win, win, win. When I am in England each summer people always ask: "Why don't English players win Wimbledon? They ought to be more like Americans and play to win." To my mind, it's time Americans started being more like the English - or at least learnt to lose with grace.

Could you imagine McEnroe's apparent idol, Winston Churchill saying ANYTHING like that last line? Churchill was probably the 1st British Prime Minister to actually understand America. He also understood when an enemy was evil. He never once showed any sympathy to what the Germans thought of the British. They were trying to kill and conquer Britain. And absolute victory over the Germans was the only option. He didn't lecture his citizens during the Battle of Britain about learning to lose gracefully.

I know it's John McEnroe, but he was given a place to argue his point in the London Telegraph, usually a sensible paper. But, his perspective is not unique. Many of our elite who happily point out their "better appreciation for other countries than most Americans" say these very same things. And the media soak it up. And he invokes Churchill in an article where he encourages the U.S. to accept defeat? It hurts my brain. It really does.

8:37 PM

 
I Guess Israelis don't count as innocent: From the National Reviews in-house weblog:

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah sends a 9/11 message to President Bush and says, among other things: "We, like you, are convinced that nothing can ever justify the shedding of innocent blood or the taking of lives and the terrorizing of people, regardless of whatever cause or motive." Why exactly then would they give money to the families of Palestinian suicide/homicide bombers?


Unfortunately, the answer is pretty simple. Prince Abdullah probably doesn't think Israeli's are innocent and probably don't even qualify as "people." "Dogs", I think is the prefered term in the Arab media.

It's really kind of sick. BTW, I ramble extensively below about what this humble person thinks about our policy towards Saudi Arabia.
7:31 PM

 
Step on their necks: My Braves are currently spanking the Mets 12-6. This after trailing 5-0. Love it! When looking at the $100 million dollar Mets, I'm sad that I can't think of the appropriate Enron metaphor.
7:18 PM

 
Cool! It's about time private enterprise got involved.
7:13 PM

 
Do your Part: Stephen Green, the notorious "VodkaPundit", is probably my 2nd favorite weblogger, both in terms of frequency and quality of links, as well as in analysis. Here's his call to action. Very important read.
7:05 PM

 
Why they hate us: Bernard Lewis, widely viewed as the foremost Western expert of the Middle East and Islam weighs in on the subject of this struggle we are involved in.(via Instapundit)
6:57 PM

 
So, about Saudi Arabia. Spend 5 minutes looking around at any conservative website or web log and you'll see that the conventional wisdom is that Achilles heel of Bush foreign policy is thought to be our butt-kissing towards Saudi Arabia.

Perform a simple search at the National Review for example and note that this foremost conservative site believes Saudi Arabia is an enemy. Finally, someone inside the U.S. government noted this last week. Well, kind of. It was a consultant to the Pentagon. But someone leaked this information for a reason. Then, the powers that be, fell all over themselves to show that Saudi Arabia is a friend of the U.S. and an ally in the War on Terror.

When you have conservatives lambasting the administration over Saudi Arabia, you have to wonder why exactly the Bushies are so damn intent on massaging the ego of the corrupt princes who rule that particular sandpit. Since September 11th, I have been wondering the same thing. What purpose does it serve? They are obviously at the heart of the terrorism problem. They finance. Support it rhetorically in the state controlled media. And they EXPORT the ideology that terrorists live by. Sounds like a qualifier in the Axis of Evil to me.

But, recently I took a closer look and decided to ask a simple question. What purpose would it serve, in September of 2002, to state publicly that Saudi Arabia is not a friend, they are a supporter of terror, and that regime change should be a goal? I phrase this in a way that most of the journalists, policy wonks, and bloggers would probably view the "correct" U.S. policy going forward.

These are the basic assumptions I'm keeping in mind here:



  1. The next phase of the War on Terror clearly deals with Iraq

  2. The economy is in bad shape, at least it is perceived to be in bad shape. This will inevitably lead to a slow down in consumer spending which will make things worse before they get better.

  3. There's an election in less than 2 months.

  4. Foreign policy doesn't change on a dime. For the most part, that's probably a good thing.

  5. Like it or not, we can't drill in ANWR tomorrow. And the Russian oil delivery system isn't up to snuff, yet.


So, again, what purpose would it serve, IN September of 2002, for the U.S. to state publicly that Saudi Arabia is not a friend, they are a supporter of terror, and regime change should be the goal?

The pros as I see it are:



  • Moral clarity is a good thing as is consistency. There is little difference ideologically between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Hell, even Iranians get to vote. (and yes, I know, ones Shiite, the other is Sunni or Wahibbi, which from their point of view is a major ideological difference) I mean little difference as far as the U.S. is concerned.

  • It might put a scare in Saudi monarchy to actually get with the program. Actually STOP funding terrorism. Stop fomenting hatred of the West. And help us topple Saddam. After all, they know we could squash them like a bug.

  • It would make the Europeans and the meeting whores at the State Department hyperventilate. Never a bad thing.

  • Surely, this would hamper Cynthia McKinney's fundraising ability.

  • And finally, maybe we'd fingerprint, profile, and generally put Saudi nationals under the microscope.


The cons as I see it:



  • OIL! In the short term, this would have to cause a spike in world oil prices. This would certainly have a negative short term impact on the U.S. economy. Remember that election I mentioned? I really don't want any more Democrats in Congress. Not now. And you know who'd get the blame. Russia's infrastructure is still not able to make up the slack that Saudi Arabia provides. And while a hostile Saudi Arabia definitely makes a better case for ANWR drilling, that is still no guarantee that the Dems would open up drilling there in an election year. Even if they did, it would take a while (long past the election) to get it operational. Again, the oil would be a short term issue, but one that would complicate our other goals (chiefly taking out Saddam and getting the economy going again)

  • While it has been noted repeatedly that we are moving our troops out of the Saudi kingdom and putting them in places like Qatar, would this continue to be the case if Saudi was an enemy? Would the other emirates of the Arabian Peninsula really be able to align with the U.S. while their larger and rich neighbor is an enemy of the U.S.? They have Muslim populations too after all. And Saudi Arabia still oversees the holy places of Islam. So, would an openly hostile relationship with Saudi Arabia hurt our ability to utilize its neighbors as a launching ground for our forces? I think it would

  • Priorities. Iraq is the priority. Iraq also is the 2nd largest oil producer in the region I believe. Take out Iraq; occupy it and our oil concerns for the region should be under much better control.

  • State Department policy can't change on a dime. This is usually good, because it allows good faith deal making in the international arena, regardless of the U.S. electoral process. While diplomats deserve scorn, diplomacy is still extremely important. Diplomacy is great tool for the U.S., who brings the most moral, economic and military might to the table in almost any negotiation. Unfortunately, even though the arguments against Saudi Arabia are air tight, the Saudi royal family (i.e. the Saudi government) has not done anything that would qualify as a direct assault on the interests of the U.S. The evidence, while overwhelming, is still somewhat circumstantial. Saudi's open hostility towards Israel unfortunately has long been accepted as a separate policy. One that doesn't "affect" U.S. interests. This is bullshit of course, but to state this would constitute a change in policy. A change in policy requires evidence that the U.S. is being harmed directly. Evidence that would not send the NY Times into a conniption. Evidence that even Tom Daschle wouldn't be "gravely concerned" about. Again, foreign policy rarely changes on a dime. Hell, our backing out of Kyoto, the ICC, the Durban conference were seen as policy "changes" even though they really weren't.

  • That whole "keep your friends close, and your enemies closer" thing. I think in the case of Saudi Arabia, that is the general thinking by the Bush administration. I really doubt they have any illusions of the special Saudi-U.S. relationship. But, a regime change in Saudi Arabia is simply not necessary RIGHT NOW. We still have access inside the kingdom. We have contacts. We get information from the Saudi's even if it's not as much as we would prefer. And they keep the oil flowing. Like it or not, that's important RIGHT NOW.


So, in case you haven't figured it out by now. I think the Bush administration's current policy towards Saudi Arabia, though hypocritical to the Nth degree, is the correct policy FOR September, 2002. When Saddam is gone, and we have a better read on the region, then we should reevaluate our relationship with the Kingdom. We should pull our troops out and let the cards fall however they may.

As many have stated recently, stability in the region is NOT desirable. However, the instability of the region needs to the benefit of the U.S. and to the expansion of western values. Saudi stability is necessary right now. And a "friendly" Saudi Arabia benefits the U.S. in many important ways at the current time.

The CIA and the State Department have many intelligent people who game this stuff out. If X happens here, Y happens here. There's a 95% probability of Z occurring here. I would imagine that those intelligent people have run the scenarios and decided that a stable Saudi Arabia is of supreme importance until we can take out Saddam and put a REAL foothold on the region. Right now, our presence is at the request of others. We don't technically have ability to influence things the way we want. That will change when we control Baghdad. The whole equation changes. But until that happens, the equation calls for a "friendly" Saudi government. It bites, but when you look at all the two-bit dictators we bought off during the cold war, it's nothing new. Realpolitik is a bitch that way.

6:49 PM

 
Iran so far away: Yes, Iran has a democracy movement. And they aren't the ones in power. But, you probably didn't know that since it seems to not be covered by anyone but the National Review. Here's their call for pro-American demonstrations on Sept. 11th.
6:44 PM

 
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