August 29, 2005

‘Senator No’ not meant as compliment (Jesse Helms, August 29, 2005, Washington Times)

The Raleigh News & Observer dubbed me “Senator No.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment, but I certainly took it as one.

There was plenty to stand up and say “No” to during my first of five terms representing the people of North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.

That was why I had sought election in 1972 — to try to derail the freight train of liberalism that was gaining speed toward its destination of “government-run” everything, paid for with big tax bills and record debt.

My goal, when my wife, Dot, and I decided I would run, was to stick to my principles and stand up for conservative ideals. […]

My staff wasn’t always as thick-skinned as I was. One new aide was all set to fire off a response to a highly critical editorial. I had to tell him, “Son, just so you understand: I don’t care what the New York Times says about me. And nobody I care about cares what the New York Times says about me.”

Feisty Helms Defends Stances in Book (Associated Press, August 30, 2005)



August 28, 2005

The EU can work for Britain – if we quit (Daniel Hannan, 28/08/2005)

The idea that the EU might abandon its founding ideology in order to humour Britain is one of our more enduring self-deceits. It lay behind Harold Macmillan’s original application in 1961, which was launched on the basis that “the effects of any eventual loss of sovereignty would be mitigated if resistance to Federalism on the part of some of the governments continues, which our membership might be expected to encourage”.

Even in Macmillan’s day, this was wishful thinking – although, with the EU not yet five years old, it was perhaps excusable. It is less excusable today, when we have half a century of evidence to the effect that the Treaty of Rome means what it says about “ever-closer union”. Yet still we delude ourselves, imagining that the other members are on the verge of coming round to our point of view. […]

My sense is that most British people want to retain our trade links with the EU, and to accompany them with close inter-governmental co-operation, but not with political assimilation. Is it feasible to have our cake and eat it? Absolutely.

Consider, as an example, the members of the European Free Trade Area (Efta): Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein. Each of these countries has struck its own particular deal with Brussels, but the main elements are the same. They participate fully in the four freedoms of the single market – free movement of goods, services, people and capital. But they are outside the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, they control their own borders and human rights questions, they are free to negotiate trade accords with non-EU countries and they pay only a token sum to the EU budget.

Unsurprisingly, they are much richer than the EU members. According to the OECD, per capita GDP in the four Efta countries is double that in the EU. Euro-apologists are, naturally, quick with their explanations. “You can’t compare us to Iceland,” they say, “Iceland has fish.” So, of course would Britain, but for the ecological calamity of the CFP. “We’re nothing like Norway,” they go on, “Norway has oil.” Indeed; and Britain is the only net exporter of oil in the EU. Then my particular favourite: “But Switzerland has all those banks.” Yes. And London is the world’s premier financial centre – although it is, admittedly, being slowly asphyxiated by EU financial regulation.

I am not arguing that Britain should precisely replicate the terms struck by these Efta nations. On the contrary, we could do far better. We are a larger country for one thing, and, unlike the Efta states, we run a massive trade deficit with the EU. Indeed, the easiest way to answer Tony Blair’s claim about the millions of jobs that depend on the EU is to point to the astonishing fact that the Efta nations export more per head to the EU from outside than does Britain from the inside. Efta stands as a living, thriving refutation of the assertion that we must choose between assimilation and isolation.

No man may be, but some nations actually are islands.


August 25, 2005

Musharraf gets his moment (Syed Saleem Shahzad, 8/26/05, Asia Times)

The first of three stages of local council elections has been completed in Pakistan, with the initial results marking victory for people allied with President General Pervez Musharraf.

The longer-term implications of the results, according to analysts, are that Musharraf can now position himself to further consolidate his power, and at the same time do something to answer international pressure for change in the country.

The local elections involve all of Pakistan’s 110 districts. In the first stage 53 districts voted, with the remainder due to cast their votes this week. Then, on September 29 the councilors elected in the first two rounds will elect district chiefs. These chiefs have a power far beyond their local communities: they can influence elections for both national and provincial assemblies, which are due in 2007, the same year that presidential elections will be held.

Thus, by gaining support at the grass-roots level, Musharraf is taking a big step toward ensuring his political future as a democratically elected leader, rather than the military ruler he is now, having seized power in a coup in 1999.

The General understands his own need for democratic legitimacy, even if his Western critics don’t.


August 21, 2005

Prisoner release gives hope for W. Sahara peace: The Polisario Front freed 404 Moroccan prisoners of war held captive for, in some cases, 20 years. (Lisa Abend and Geoff Pingree, 8/22/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

This desert region has been controlled by Morocco since 1975. For the Saharawi people, it is their home, a place for which the Polisario Front has fought for decades. For the Moroccans, however, Western Sahara – the “southern provinces,” as the government prefers to call the area – is an integral part of their national territory.

Western Sahara became a source of contention in the mid-1970s, when Spain officially ceded sovereignty of the territory, and the Polisario Front sought to secure the land as an independent state for the Saharawi people. Although the International Court of Justice had established the Saharawi’s right to self-determination, Morocco sent a massive force to occupy Western Sahara in 1975, initiating a war with the Polisario.

In 1991, the United Nations brokered a cease-fire – the terms of which required a self-determination referendum for Western Sahara – and installed a peacekeeping force, called MINURSO. After political wrangling delayed the referendum, UN special envoy James Baker attempted in 1997 to negotiate a solution. But his efforts failed when Morocco rejected the plan in 2003.

Today, Moroccan officials profess willingness to discuss a solution to the 30-year conflict, but they refuse to negotiate an open referendum. Laayoune councilman Moulay Ould Errachid backs a federalist approach to the problem, one that would allow greater autonomy to Western Sahara. “But,” he says, “we will not debate Moroccan sovereignty with anyone.”

Morocco’s refusal to hold the referendum is, for Brahim Gali, the Polisario’s representative in Spain, a violation of international law and a clear indication that Morocco fears such a vote.

“We don’t know if a majority of Saharawi would vote for independence,” says Mr. Gali, “but we’re not afraid of elections. The one who is afraid is the one who won’t let the vote go forward.”

Ali Lmrabet, a Moroccan journalist, takes a more forceful position. “If you believe the official Moroccan press, then only a few Saharawi want independence. If that’s the case, then why not hold the vote? Because the truth is that most Saharawi don’t want to be Moroccans. Personally, I’d prefer that Western Sahara remain part of Morocco, but the important thing is that the Saharawi choose for themselves. I can’t force anyone to be a Moroccan.”

Any people who think of themselves as sovereign will be.


August 18, 2005

Get Real (GIDEON ROSE, 8/18/05, NY Times)

For more than half a century, overenthusiastic idealists of one variety or another have gotten themselves and the country into trouble abroad and had to be bailed out by prudent successors brought in to clean up the mess. When the crisis passes, however, the realists’ message about the need to act carefully in a fallen world ends up clashing with Americans’ loftier impulses. The result is a tedious cycle that plays itself out again and again. […]

Seen in proper perspective, in other words, the Bush administration’s signature efforts represent not some durable, world-historical shift in America’s approach to foreign policy but merely one more failed idealistic attempt to escape the difficult trade-offs and unpleasant compromises that international politics inevitably demand – even from the strongest power since Rome. Just as they have so many times before, the realists have come in after an election to offer some adult supervision and tidy up the joint. This time it’s simply happened under the nose of a victorious incumbent rather than his opponent (which may account for the failure to change the rhetoric along with the policy).

BEING fully American rather than devotees of classic European realpolitik, the realists-today represented most prominently by Ms. Rice and her team at the State Department-offer not different goals but a calmer and more measured path toward the same ones. They still believe in American power and the global spread of liberal democratic capitalism. But they seek legitimate authority rather than mere material dominance, favor cost-benefit analyses rather than ideological litmus tests, and prize good results over good intentions.

it’s funny enough that Mr. Rose declares the triumph of Realism at a time when, just to pick some examples off the top of my head, the following are occurring:

* Ariel Sharon is creating a Palestinian state

* The Iraqis are finishing a constitution

* The Indonesians cut an autonomy deal with Aceh

* The Egyptians have started their first presidential election campaign

* The new king of Saudi Arabia has released political prisoners

* An American businessman has returned to Haiti to run for president

* We’re stepping up the pressure on Belarus to liberalize

* Japan is preparing to change its constitution so it can arm against China

* The Sudanese smoothly replaced John Garang after his tragic death

* The North Koreans are offering to give up their nuclear program if we just stop being mean to them

* Afghanistan has just begin a parliamentary election campaign

* Taiwan is deploying cruise missiles pointed at China

* Feel free to add your own

But even funnier is that he’s reduced to declaring Condi Rice a Realist in order to make his case.

The basic idea of Realism is quite simple: Stability Uber Alles. The Realists prefer a regime that can keep its own people quiet and get along with its neighbors, no matter how repressive that regime may be. However, as the list above demonstrates, there is almost nowhere in the world that we are willing to accept such tyranny in exchange for stability. Meanwhile, even as regards the few where we’re willing to accept it for more than a brief period of convenience — perhaps only Pakistan and China at this time — we’re forging entirely new strategic alliances so as to be in a position to tackle them militarily when the time comes. Ms Rice is in the thick of all this–travelling to Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, India, etc.

To call this a return to Realism is to admit defeat at the hands of American idealism.


August 17, 2005

Onward Christian Soldiers?: Religion and the Bush Doctrine. (James L. Guth, Lyman A. Kellstedt, John C. Green, and Corwin E. Smidt, July August 2005, Christianity Today)

[W]e use the fourth quadrennial National Survey of Religion and Politics, conducted at the University of Akron in the spring and fall of 2004 and sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. This survey of a national random sample of 4,000 respondents asked a range of religious questions seldom available in other surveys and, fortunately, also had a large battery of foreign policy questions. It is just this sort of evidence that has been lacking in the debate over the role of religion in foreign policy.

To go to the core of recent arguments, we examine the backing that America’s diverse religious communities provide for the Bush Doctrine, the president’s stress on military strength, preference for unilateral rather than multilateral action, willingness to engage in pre-emptive war (as in Iraq), and a tilt toward Israel in the Middle East. To measure this support, we use five items: an approval rating for Bush administration foreign policy, an assessment on whether the Iraq war was justified, whether pre-emptive war is ever justified, whether the United States should stress unilateral or multilateral action in international affairs, and, finally, whether America should favor the Israelis over the Palestinians. Although these questions tap different aspects of foreign policy, people respond to the package in consistent ways. In the jargon of social science, the questions scale nicely, forming a single dimension.

To simplify presentation in the accompanying table, we report the percentage of each religious group that falls in the top half of public support for the Bush Doctrine. Thus, a score above 50 percent is more favorable than average, a score below 50 percent is more opposed. […]

We find vast religiously correlated differences among citizens in support for the Bush Doctrine. As the first column shows, Latter-day Saints are most positive, with 82 percent falling in the top half of the scale. Aside from the Mormons, evangelicals as a group do, in fact, provide disproportionate backing for the president’s policies, as critics contend. Interestingly, Hispanic Protestants, largely evangelical in theology, also exceed the sample average. Mainline Protestants follow, barely scoring on the positive side, and white Catholics are split right down the middle. Virtually all other religious groups (including Jews) are much less favorable toward administration policy, with black Protestants, the agnostic/atheist coterie, and other non-Christians (Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, etc.) concentrated toward the bottom of the scale.

In addition to these differences among traditions, we find striking divisions within the larger Christian traditions. In each, traditionalists are most in favor of the Bush Doctrine, centrists less so, and religious modernists dissent in large numbers. (The same divisions can be seen even within smaller traditions, such as Hispanic Protestants and Catholics, Jews, and black Protestants, but the sample numbers are too small to report with confidence.) Altogether then, both membership in a religious tradition and theological traditionalism within the Christian traditions have important consequences for foreign policy attitudes.

Of course, politicians don’t exhibit equal solicitude for the views of every citizen: they are much more attuned to voters and, especially, to political activists. The scores for voters (column 2) and activists (column 3) reveal some interesting findings. Voters overall are actually a bit more supportive of the Bush Doctrine than the citizenry at large (52 percent), but activists are less favorable (only 44 percent).

The same basic religious patterns hold among voters and activists that we saw among citizens generally, but with some important modifications. First, for both evangelical and Catholic traditionalists endorsement of the Bush Doctrine rises as political engagement increases. (Among mainline traditionalists it goes up among voters, but retreats among activists.) In contrast, for mainline and Catholic modernists the president’s backers decline in strength as engagement increases, a pattern that also appears among the smaller faiths, and especially in the secular and agnostic/atheist groups. Thus, religious divisions over foreign policy exhibited by citizens generally are even wider among voters and, especially, activists.

The cause of these patterns is a complicated issue that we cannot fully address here. We can, however, identify three important factors, all of which have some influence. First, there may be a doctrinal basis for these differences. Thus, evangelicals’ distinctive posture may reflect the influence of dispensational theology, biblical literalism, Christian exclusivism, or perhaps moral dogmatism—”black or white” thinking. Conversely, the absence of such beliefs—or the presence of liberal religious or secular perspectives—may explain opposition to the president’s policies.

Second, religious leaders may have directed their flocks toward or away from the Bush Doctrine. Here, too, evangelicals provide a good example, given the strong support many clergy voiced for the Iraq war, and their suspicions about international institutions such as the United Nations. On the other side, the criticism that many mainline and Catholic clergy, including the Pope, directed toward facets of the Bush Doctrine may have attenuated support in those communities, at least among those hearing the cues.

Finally, foreign policy attitudes may simply be an artifact of partisanship and ideology. For example, evangelicals are a core GOP constituency and naturally endorse policies adopted by their conservative president and party leadership. Other religious groups may react in much the same fashion, depending on their own location in the current party lineup. In this context, it is worth noting that support for the Bush Doctrine matches very closely the share of the vote each religious group gave the president in 2004.

We did a modest test of these possibilities by incorporating measures of religious doctrine, attention to religious cues, and partisanship into a statistical analysis. All else being equal, religious doctrine makes a substantial contribution to support for the Bush Doctrine: Biblical literalists, dispensationalists, believers in the existence of Satan, and those who see salvation exclusively in Jesus score higher on the scale. And moral dogmatism plays a role: citizens who argue that there is a single standard of right and wrong for all times and places are much more likely to support the president.

Religious cues also make an independent contribution, largely reflecting the policy stance of the “governing” authorities in each tradition. Among evangelicals, those whose ministers preach on the Iraq war and terrorism are more supportive of the Bush Doctrine, as is the case among Hispanic Protestants. Among virtually all other religious groups—including mainline Protestants and white Catholics—those hearing pastoral discourses on these topics are less supportive of the president, sometimes substantially so. This effect is often even greater among political activists than among voters.

Finally, partisanship and ideology also shape assessments of the Bush Doctrine, even aside from the impact of religious doctrine and leadership cues: Republicans and conservatives score high on the scale, Democrats and liberals, much lower. In this regard, remember that President Bush actively courted evangelicals and other traditionalists before and during the 2004 campaign, and foreign policy was part of the pitch. Senator Kerry and the Democrats countered with appeals to other religious groups, apparently with some success.

In sum, American religious groups—and not just evangelicals—do indeed hold distinctive views on the Bush Doctrine. Evangelicals and traditionalists of all sorts are the strongest adherents, while the non-religious, religious modernists, and minority faiths are the most negative. These divisions become sharper as political engagement increases, and theology, religious leaders, and political identifications all play a role in deepening the chasm.

What may be most interesting is that the results within groups are as graphic as between groups, showing just how much liberal Protestants and Catholics resemble seculars rather than their putative co-religionists.


August 13, 2005

Robin Cook: from ethical imperialist to anti-war activist: The former foreign secretary’s career mirrored the twists and turns of the liberal-left intelligentsia. (James Heartfield, 8/10/05, Spiked)

[I]t was as foreign secretary that Cook made his greatest contribution to New Labour’s distinct appeal. As a former supporter of CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), Cook seemed to be an unlikely candidate for that job. But in fact he adapted the high moral stance of anti-militarism to formulate an ‘ethical foreign policy’ that claimed to stand above national interest. The government has a ‘moral responsibility’ to ensure there is an ‘ethical dimension’ to foreign policy and so ‘make Britain once again a force for good in the world’, he said. Within two months the government had demonstrated it by sending an undercover SAS force to kill a Bosnian Serb, Simo Drljaca, accused of crimes against humanity.

This seemingly utopian reformulation of Britain’s military strategy elevated ideological goals over mere self-defence. Even though it was criticised by Number 10’s advisers as a hostage to fortune, what came to be called ‘humanitarian intervention’ – in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere – turned out to be an enhancement both of Britain’s military reach and the prime minister’s own standing.

Like Smith and Dobson, Cook’s rebellion only came after his demotion
Cook was shocked at his demotion to Leader of the House in 2001. Despite Cook’s successes, Blair was weary of his foreign secretary’s erratic outbursts. Cook found he had few friends outside of Number 10’s patronage. A breach with the front bench was looming.

Cook’s transition from champion of humanitarian intervention to opponent of the Iraq war mirrors the course of Britain’s liberal-left intelligentsia. Outraged at what they saw as the Tory Party’s unwillingness to intervene in Bosnia in the early 1990s, they became more strident supporters of militarism. But the framework of international legality and morality continued to sustain them. The failure of the UN Security Council to agree the intervention in Iraq was the point when many shifted ground to oppose rather than support another military intervention.

In parliament, it was pointed that many of the leaders of the opposition to Iraq were among the original supporters of New Labour – Frank Dobson, Chris Smith and the most senior Labour Party rebel, Robin Cook. But like Smith and Dobson, Cook’s rebellion only came after his demotion. His ‘forensic’ dissection of the legal case for war echoed the parliamentary performances of the early 1990s, except this time it was the Labour not the Tory front bench that was in the firing line.

Cook’s role as architect of New Labour’s ethical imperialism was promptly forgotten by the left, who embraced him as their new champion – though he was ambitious enough to keep his own distance from them, having already opened negotiations with Gordon Brown to re-enter the Cabinet.

It’s hardly a newsflash that the Left only supports the wars it gets to run.

F. O. M.:

August 11, 2005

Senator Helms speaks (Emmett Tyrrell , August 11, 2005, Townhall)

In “Here’s Where I Stand,” Helms chronicles reminiscences of scores of friends, Barry Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan and his great friend Lady Thatcher. At the end of the senator’s long career, a frail but spirited Thatcher came to the dedication of his Helms Center in rural North Carolina. She stayed for the entire three-day ceremony. She knew she was with friends. Helms also remembers those with whom he has disagreed. That would be every liberal Democrat from the past thirty years. Unfortunately, he is too much the gentleman to pass on a bad word about any of them. Even Boy Clinton gets a polite send-off.

There are two topics on which Helms is particularly worth reading, race relations and the United Nations. On race relations, he manfully comes out and makes the case for states’ rights and the integration that he seems to think could have been worked out in the last quarter of the 20th century without heavy-handed federal involvement. I am not sure his optimism is warranted. The denial of Constitutional freedoms had been suffered by blacks for a long time. A jolt of federal power did the trick. The extension of federal power into areas not recognized by generations of Americans (and not always salutary) now seems to be receding. Blacks have their rights, and with the exception of affirmative action’s enduring use, the Constitutional balance seems to be reemerging. I accept Helms’ insistence that he favored equal rights. I just doubt his approach would have worked.

On the United Nations, he has my vote every time. Wherever he mentions that arrogant, corrupt organization, he is on the money. At the very end of his memoir, he reprints his very compelling speech to the United Nations as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. There he notified the assembled crooks and agents of tyranny that American sovereignty cannot be usurped. It is dependent on the “consent of the American people.” He reminds them of the dreadful job they have done as peacekeepers and conflict managers. And he urges an end to corruption.

Bearing in mind that this past week saw the first conviction of a UN oil-for-food crook in what is the largest fraud case in world history, I think we can conclude that old Sen. Helms’ memoir makes for timely reading.

The Senator graciously allowed us to use his piece, American Sovereignty and the UN (Jesse Helms, Winter 2000, National Interest), in our book, which will be coming out this Fall.


August 7, 2005

U.S. sovereignty slip-sliding away (Henry Lamb, 8/06/05, WorldNetDaily.com)

It began in 1994. All the attention was focused on the new WTO emerging from the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations. Little attention was paid to the Summit of the Americas meeting in Miami. The assembled ministers agreed to create a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas and that it would be completed by January 2005, entering into force by December 2005.

For ten years, 34 governments have been conducting negotiating sessions throughout the Americas, fashioning a new trade agreement that will swallow up both NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and, quite literally, much of the U.S. Constitution.

The final draft agreement addresses every aspect of trade in the Western Hemisphere and requires that every dimension of the agreement be “WTO compliant.” Chapter II contains two provisions that should disqualify the document immediately from any serious consideration by the U.S. Congress.

Article 4.2 contains this language:

4.2. The Parties shall ensure that their laws, regulations and administrative procedures are consistent with the obligations of this Agreement. The rights and obligations under this Agreement are the same for all the Parties, whether Federal or unitary States, including the different levels and branches of government. …

This language requires that existing laws – at every level of government – be conformed to the requirements of the agreement. It requires that all future laws conform as well. The effect of this agreement takes away law-making power from duly elected representatives of the people and gives it to unelected bureaucrats, most of whom represent foreign nations.

This language is consistent with the WTO, NAFTA and CAFTA, all of which were approved by Congress. Both NAFTA and the WTO have required revisions of dozens of domestic laws. CAFTA will do the same, and the FTAA will continue to take away laws that the peoples’ representatives have enacted.

This process is transforming the meaning of national sovereignty.

While freer trade is a laudable goal, we should only free it unilaterally or bilaterally, not transnationally.