November 30, 2005

REVIEW: of The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror by Michael Ignatieff (Eve Garrard, Democratiya)

Which is most important, security or rights?

Ignatieff’s answer is to find a middle way: neither rights nor security, he thinks, is always most important, can always act as trumps. The violation of rights is always morally wrong, in his view, but nonetheless it is sometimes necessary to preserve democracy against those who would bring it down. If it’s necessary, we ought to do it, but all the same there remains something wrong in such decisions, and we must hedge about the policy of temporary rights-infringement with constraints and limitations (he particularly emphasises the need for ongoing adversarial review of such measures), to prevent us entirely losing our grasp of what it is we’re trying to defend. This is the ‘lesser evil’ which he sees as an alternative to the two greater evils which, in his view, threaten us as we respond to terrorist attacks. One of these greater evils flows from the adoption of a purely consequentialist view of defence against terrorism, in which any action which protects democratic society should be adopted, no matter what rights it violates, since preserving democracies will ultimately give rights their best protection. Ignatieff quite plausibly argues that, given some well-known and pessimistic facts about human nature, this view will rapidly lead to the destruction of respect for rights and human dignity. The other greater evil which he discerns results from what he calls perfectionism – the view that rights must act as absolute constraints on action, so that we are never justified in violating them. The perfectionist believes that any failure to respect rights, particularly at the level of policy, is morally unacceptable, and will probably take us down a slippery slope to unrestrained tyranny. We must set our face against any weakening of our commitment to rights and liberties, and maintain our full array of liberal democratic practices unchanged by the threat from terrorism. Ignatieff thinks (again quite plausibly) that this approach will be so ineffective at protecting security that it will yield democracies up to destruction at the hand of terrorists. Rather than incurring either of these greater evils, Ignatieff argues that we should adopt a lesser evil approach, in which we allow some trade-off of rights against increased security, so long as we do this in ways which limit the threat to rights and human dignity as much as is compatible with effectiveness against terrorism. […]

[T]he linchpin of the book is the claim that security and rights must be traded-off against each other, that such trade-offs are necessary to preserve democracies but must always be as limited as possible consonant with effective self-defence, and that necessary though they are, they’re still in some way wrong. This is his conception of the lesser evil: it’s preferable to the greater evils which are likely to follow from pure consequentialism or pure perfectionism, but it’s evil nonetheless. The whole of the rest of the book stands or falls with this conception. It’s not clear, however, that it can stand in the terms in which Ignatieff presents it.

Firstly, it’s not at all obvious that the contrast Ignatieff draws between security considerations and respect for rights can really be sustained. The rights which are immediately threatened by increased security measures are liberties of various kinds, and liberty and security needn’t be seen as entirely different kinds of things. After all, security protects people’s liberty to exercise their rights, and indeed can be regarded as a necessary precondition of that exercise. So the trade-off between the two on which Ignatieff places so much weight may be better seen as a choice between different ways of promoting rights and liberties. If that is so, then there is no profound conflict here, and no tragic dilemma of the kind which might prompt thoughts about lesser evil.

Indeed, to pretend that the fight for democracy is tragic does little but serve the purposes of those who don’t want to engage in it.



November 30, 2005

Corruption’s grip eases in Ukraine: Tax receipts are rising, and the country improved its standing in Transparency International’s annual ratings. (Fred Weir, 11/29/05, The Christian Science Monitor)

Though the economic reforms promised by President Viktor Yushchenko have been slow to arrive, experts say significant numbers of businesses are leaving the shadow economy, more people are paying taxes, and fewer officials are taking bribes.

“There are very strong anti-corruption moods in society right now,” director of the independent Institute of Global Strategy in Kiev. “The revolution was above all a moral event that changed public consciousness. Officials know they must tread carefully in this atmosphere.”

The Berlin-based organization Transparency International [], which annually rates the perception of corruption in 150 countries, this year notched Ukraine up to 113th place from last year’s 122nd, putting it roughly on a par with Vietnam and Zambia.

It’s a perfect description of The End of History: “above all a moral event.” Which is why the Left hates it.


November 30, 2005

Blair ready to surrender EU rebate with no payback (David Rennie in Brussels and Toby Helm, 30/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

Tony Blair is preparing to dismantle Britain’s annual rebate from the European Union budget – secured by Margaret Thatcher in 1984 – in a move that will cost the taxpayer billions of pounds.

He is ready to split it into parts that he can defend as “fair” – including Britain’s rebate from the Common Agricultural Policy – and others that are less easy to justify, including spending on enlargement, Whitehall sources said.

If Mr. Blair means they’ll exchange the rebate for EU reform and elimination of trade barriers then it makes sense. If he’s just surrendering then he’s crazy.


November 30, 2005

President Outlines Strategy for Victory in Iraq (George W. Bush, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, 11/30/05)

Six months ago, I came here to address the graduating class of 2005. I spoke to them about the importance of their service in the first war of the 21st century — the global war on terror. I told the class of 2005 that four years at this Academy had prepared them morally, mentally and physically for the challenges ahead. And now they’re meeting those challenges as officers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Some of your former classmates are training with Navy SEAL teams that will storm terrorist safe houses in lightning raids. Others are preparing to lead Marine rifle platoons that will hunt the enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraqi cities. Others are training as naval aviators who will fly combat missions over the skies of Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. Still others are training as sailors and submariners who will deliver the combat power of the United States to the farthest regions of the world — and deliver compassionate assistance to those suffering from natural disasters. Whatever their chosen mission, every graduate of the class of 2005 is bringing honor to the uniform — and helping to bring us victory in the war on terror. (Applause.)

In the years ahead, you’ll join them in the fight. Your service is needed, because our nation is engaged in a war that is being fought on many fronts — from the streets of Western cities, to the mountains of Afghanistan, the islands of Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. This war is going to take many turns, and the enemy must be defeated on every battlefield. Yet the terrorists have made it clear that Iraq is the central front in their war against humanity, and so we must recognize Iraq as the central front in the war on terror.

As we fight the enemy in Iraq, every man and woman who volunteers to defend our nation deserves an unwavering commitment to the mission — and a clear strategy for victory. A clear strategy begins with a clear understanding of the enemy we face. The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists. The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein — and they reject an Iraq in which they are no longer the dominant group.

Not all Sunnis fall into the rejectionist camp. Of those that do, most are not actively fighting us — but some give aid and comfort to the enemy. Many Sunnis boycotted the January elections — yet as democracy takes hold in Iraq, they are recognizing that opting out of the democratic process has hurt their interests. And today, those who advocate violent opposition are being increasingly isolated by Sunnis who choose peaceful participation in the democratic process. Sunnis voted in the recent constitutional referendum in large numbers — and Sunni coalitions have formed to compete in next month’s elections — or, this month’s elections. We believe that, over time, most rejectionists will be persuaded to support a democratic Iraq led by a federal government that is a strong enough government to protect minority rights.

The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller, but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein — people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. These hard-core Saddamists are trying to foment anti-democratic sentiment amongst the larger Sunni community. They lack popular support and therefore cannot stop Iraq’s democratic progress. And over time, they can be marginalized and defeated by the Iraqi people and the security forces of a free Iraq.

The third group is the smallest, but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda . Many are foreigners who are coming to fight freedom’s progress in Iraq. This group includes terrorists from Saudi Arabia, and Syria, and Iran, and Egypt, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Libya, and other countries. Our commanders believe they’re responsible for most of the suicide bombings, and the beheadings, and the other atrocities we see on our television.

They’re led by a brutal terrorist named Zarqawi — al Qaeda’s chief of operations in Iraq — who has pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Their objective is to drive the United States and coalition forces out of Iraq, and use the vacuum that would be created by an American retreat to gain control of that country. They would then use Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against America, and overthrow moderate governments in the Middle East, and try to establish a totalitarian Islamic empire that reaches from Indonesia to Spain. That’s their stated objective. That’s what their leadership has said.

These terrorists have nothing to offer the Iraqi people. All they have is the capacity and the willingness to kill the innocent and create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will to achieve their stated objectives. They will fail. America’s will is strong. And they will fail because the will to power is no match for the universal desire to live in liberty. (Applause.)

The terrorists in Iraq share the same ideology as the terrorists who struck the United States on September the 11th. Those terrorists share the same ideology with those who blew up commuters in London and Madrid, murdered tourists in Bali, workers in Riyadh, and guests at a wedding in Amman, Jordan. Just last week, they massacred Iraqi children and their parents at a toy give-away outside an Iraqi hospital.

This is an enemy without conscience — and they cannot be appeased. If we were not fighting and destroying this enemy in Iraq, they would not be idle. They would be plotting and killing Americans across the world and within our own borders. By fighting these terrorists in Iraq, Americans in uniform are defeating a direct threat to the American people. Against this adversary, there is only one effective response: We will never back down. We will never give in. And we will never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)

To achieve victory over such enemies, we are pursuing a comprehensive strategy in Iraq. Americans should have a clear understanding of this strategy — how we look at the war, how we see the enemy, how we define victory, and what we’re doing to achieve it. So today, we’re releasing a document called the “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.” [] This is an unclassified version of the strategy we’ve been pursuing in Iraq, and it is posted on the White House website — I urge all Americans to read it.

Our strategy in Iraq has three elements. On the political side, we know that free societies are peaceful societies, so we’re helping the Iraqis build a free society with inclusive democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis. We’re working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq — and to marginalize those who never will. On the security side, coalition and Iraqi security forces are on the offensive against the enemy, cleaning out areas controlled by the terrorists and Saddam loyalists, leaving Iraqi forces to hold territory taken from the enemy, and following up with targeted reconstruction to help Iraqis rebuild their lives.

As we fight the terrorists, we’re working to build capable and effective Iraqi security forces, so they can take the lead in the fight — and eventually take responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens without major foreign assistance.

And on the economic side, we’re helping the Iraqis rebuild their infrastructure, reform their economy, and build the prosperity that will give all Iraqis a stake in a free and peaceful Iraq. In doing all this we have involved the United Nations, other international organizations, our coalition partners, and supportive regional states in helping Iraqis build their future.

In the days ahead, I’ll be discussing the various pillars of our strategy in Iraq. Today, I want to speak in depth about one aspect of this strategy that will be critical to victory in Iraq — and that’s the training of Iraqi security forces. To defeat the terrorists and marginalize the Saddamists and rejectionists, Iraqis need strong military and police forces. Iraqi troops bring knowledge and capabilities to the fight that coalition forces cannot.

Iraqis know their people, they know their language, and they know their culture — and they know who the terrorists are. Iraqi forces are earning the trust of their countrymen — who are willing to help them in the fight against the enemy. As the Iraqi forces grow in number, they’re helping to keep a better hold on the cities taken from the enemy. And as the Iraqi forces grow more capable, they are increasingly taking the lead in the fight against the terrorists. Our goal is to train enough Iraqi forces so they can carry the fight — and this will take time and patience. And it’s worth the time, and it’s worth the effort — because Iraqis and Americans share a common enemy, and when that enemy is defeated in Iraq, Americans will be safer here at home. (Applause.)

The training of the Iraqi security forces is an enormous task, and it always hasn’t gone smoothly. We all remember the reports of some Iraqi security forces running from the fight more than a year ago. Yet in the past year, Iraqi forces have made real progress. At this time last year, there were only a handful of Iraqi battalions ready for combat. Now, there are over 120 Iraqi Army and Police combat battalions in the fight against the terrorists — typically comprised of between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces. Of these, about 80 Iraqi battalions are fighting side-by-side with coalition forces, and about 40 others are taking the lead in the fight. Most of these 40 battalions are controlling their own battle space, and conducting their own operations against the terrorists with some coalition support — and they’re helping to turn the tide of this struggle in freedom’s favor. America and our troops are proud to stand with the brave Iraqi fighters. (Applause.)

The progress of the Iraqi forces is especially clear when the recent anti-terrorist operations in Tal Afar are compared with last year’s assault in Fallujah. In Fallujah, the assault was led by nine coalition battalions made up primarily of United States Marines and Army — with six Iraqi battalions supporting them. The Iraqis fought and sustained casualties. Yet in most situations, the Iraqi role was limited to protecting the flanks of coalition forces, and securing ground that had already been cleared by our troops. This year in TAL Afar, it was a very different story.

The assault was primarily led by Iraqi security forces — 11 Iraqi battalions, backed by five coalition battalions providing support. Many Iraqi units conducted their own anti-terrorist operations and controlled their own battle space — hunting for enemy fighters and securing neighborhoods block-by-block. To consolidate their military success, Iraqi units stayed behind to help maintain law and order — and reconstruction projects have been started to improve infrastructure and create jobs and provide hope.

One of the Iraqi soldiers who fought in TAL Afar was a private named Tarek Hazem. This brave Iraqi fighter says, “We’re not afraid. We’re here to protect our country. All we feel is motivated to kill the terrorists.” Iraqi forces not only cleared the city, they held it. And because of the skill and courage of the Iraqi forces, the citizens of TAL Afar were able to vote in October’s constitutional referendum.

As Iraqi forces increasingly take the lead in the fight against the terrorists, they’re also taking control of more and more Iraqi territory. At this moment, over 30 Iraqi Army battalions have assumed primary control of their own areas of responsibility. In Baghdad, Iraqi battalions have taken over major sectors of the capital — including some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods. Last year, the area around Baghdad’s Haifa Street was so thick with terrorists that it earned the nickname “Purple Heart Boulevard.” Then Iraqi forces took responsibility for this dangerous neighborhood — and attacks are now down.

Our coalition has handed over roughly 90 square miles of Baghdad province to Iraqi security forces. Iraqi battalions have taken over responsibility for areas in South-Central Iraq, sectors of Southeast Iraq, sectors of Western Iraq, and sectors of North-Central Iraq. As Iraqi forces take responsibility for more of their own territory, coalition forces can concentrate on training Iraqis and hunting down high-value targets, like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates.

We’re also transferring forward operating bases to Iraqi control. Over a dozen bases in Iraq have been handed over to the Iraqi government — including Saddam Hussein’s former palace in Tikrit, which has served as the coalition headquarters in one of Iraq’s most dangerous regions. From many of these bases, the Iraqi security forces are planning and executing operations against the terrorists — and bringing security and pride to the Iraqi people.

Progress by the Iraqi security forces has come, in part, because we learned from our earlier experiences and made changes in the way we help train Iraqi troops. When our coalition first arrived, we began the process of creating an Iraqi Army to defend the country from external threats, and an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps to help provide the security within Iraq’s borders. The civil defense forces did not have sufficient firepower or training — they proved to be no match for an enemy armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. So the approach was adjusted. Working with Iraq’s leaders, we moved the civil defense forces into the Iraqi Army, we changed the way they’re trained and equipped, and we focused the Army’s mission on defeating those fighting against a free Iraq, whether internal or external.

Now, all Iraqi Army recruits receive about the same length of basic training as new recruits in the U.S. Army — a five-week core course, followed by an additional three-to-seven weeks of specialized training. With coalition help, Iraqis have established schools for the Iraqi military services, an Iraqi military academy, a non-commissioned officer academy, a military police school, a bomb disposal school — and NATO has established an Iraqi Joint Staff College. There’s also an increased focus on leadership training, with professional development courses for Iraqi squad leaders and platoon sergeants and warrant officers and sergeants-major. A new generation of Iraqi officers is being trained, leaders who will lead their forces with skill — so they can defeat the terrorists and secure their freedom.

Similar changes have taken place in the training of the Iraqi police. When our coalition first arrived, Iraqi police recruits spent too much time of their training in classroom lectures — and they received limited training in the use of small arms. This did not adequately prepare the fight they would face. And so we changed the way the Iraqi police are trained. Now, police recruits spend more of their time outside the classroom with intensive hands-on training in anti-terrorism operations and real-world survival skills.

Iraq has now six basic police academies, and one in Jordan, that together produce over 3,500 new police officers every ten weeks. The Baghdad police academy has simulation models where Iraqis train to stop IED attacks and operate roadblocks. And because Iraqi police are not just facing common criminals, they are getting live-fire training with the AK-47s.

As more and more skilled Iraqi security forces have come online, there’s been another important change in the way new Iraqi recruits are trained. When the training effort began, nearly all the trainers came from coalition countries. Today, the vast majority of Iraqi police and army recruits are being taught by Iraqi instructors. By training the trainers, we’re helping Iraqis create an institutional capability that will allow the Iraqi forces to continue to develop and grow long after coalition forces have left Iraq.

As the training has improved, so has the quality of the recruits being trained. Even though the terrorists are targeting Iraqi police and army recruits, there is no shortage of Iraqis who are willing to risk their lives to secure the future of a free Iraq.

The efforts to include more Sunnis in the future of Iraq were given a significant boost earlier this year. More than 60 influential Sunni clerics issued a fatwa calling on young Sunnis to join the Iraqi security forces, “for the sake of preserving the souls, property and honor” of the Iraqi people. These religious leaders are helping to make the Iraqi security forces a truly national institution — one that is able to serve, protect and defend all the Iraqi people.

Some critics dismiss this progress and point to the fact that only one Iraqi battalion has achieved complete independence from the coalition. To achieve complete independence, an Iraqi battalion must do more than fight the enemy on its own — it must also have the ability to provide its own support elements, including logistics, airlift, intelligence, and command and control through their ministries. Not every Iraqi unit has to meet this level of capability in order for the Iraqi security forces to take the lead in the fight against the enemy. As a matter of fact, there are some battalions from NATO militaries that would not be able to meet this standard. The facts are that Iraqi units are growing more independent and more capable; they are defending their new democracy with courage and determination. They’re in the fight today, and they will be in the fight for freedom tomorrow. (Applause.)

We’re also helping Iraqis build the institutions they need to support their own forces. For example, a national depot has been established north of Baghdad that is responsible for supplying the logistical needs of the ten divisions of the Iraqi Army. Regional support units and base support units have been created across the country with the mission of supplying their own war fighters. Iraqis now have a small Air Force, that recently conducted its first combat airlift operations — bringing Iraqi troops to the front in TAL Afar. The new Iraqi Navy is now helping protect the vital ports of Basra and Umm Qasr. An Iraqi military intelligence school has been established to produce skilled Iraqi intelligence analysts and collectors. By taking all these steps, we’re helping the Iraqi security forces become self-supporting so they can take the fight to the enemy, and so they can sustain themselves in the fight.

Over the past two and a half years, we’ve faced some setbacks in standing up a capable Iraqi security force — and their performance is still uneven in some areas. Yet many of those forces have made real gains over the past year — and Iraqi soldiers take pride in their progress. An Iraqi first lieutenant named Shoqutt describes the transformation of his unit this way: “I really think we’ve turned the corner here. At first, the whole country didn’t take us seriously. Now things are different. Our guys are hungry to demonstrate their skill and to show the world.”

Our troops in Iraq see the gains that Iraqis are making. Lieutenant Colonel Todd Wood of Richmond Hill, Georgia, is training Iraqi forces in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. He says this about the Iraqi units he is working with: “They’re pretty much ready to go it on their own … What they’re doing now would have been impossible a year ago … These guys are patriots, willing to go out knowing the insurgents would like nothing better than to kill them and their families … They’re getting better, and they’ll keep getting better.”

Our commanders on the ground see the gains the Iraqis are making. General Marty Dempsey is the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command. Here’s what he says about the transformation of the Iraqi security forces: “It’s beyond description. They are far better equipped, far better trained” than they once were. The Iraqis, General Dempsey says, are “increasingly in control of their future and their own security _ the Iraqi security forces are regaining control of the country.”

As the Iraqi security forces stand up, their confidence is growing and they are taking on tougher and more important missions on their own. As the Iraqi security forces stand up, the confidence of the Iraqi people is growing — and Iraqis are providing the vital intelligence needed to track down the terrorists. And as the Iraqi security forces stand up, coalition forces can stand down — and when our mission of defeating the terrorists in Iraq is complete, our troops will return home to a proud nation. (Applause.)

This is a goal our Iraqi allies share. An Iraqi Army Sergeant named Abbass Abdul Jabar puts it this way: “We have to help the coalition forces as much as we can to give them a chance to go home. These guys have been helping us. [Now] we have to protect our own families.” America will help the Iraqis so they can protect their families and secure their free nation. We will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission. If our military leaders tell me we need more troops, I will send them.

For example, we have increased our force levels in Iraq to 160,000 — up from 137,000 — in preparation for the December elections. My commanders tell me that as Iraqi forces become more capable, the mission of our forces in Iraq will continue to change. We will continue to shift from providing security and conducting operations against the enemy nationwide, to conducting more specialized operations targeted at the most dangerous terrorists. We will increasingly move out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number of bases from which we operate, and conduct fewer patrols and convoys.

As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political process advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists. These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders — not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington. (Applause.)

Some are calling for a deadline for withdrawal. Many advocating an artificial timetable for withdrawing our troops are sincere — but I believe they’re sincerely wrong. Pulling our troops out before they’ve achieved their purpose is not a plan for victory. As Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman said recently, setting an artificial timetable would “discourage our troops because it seems to be heading for the door. It will encourage the terrorists, it will confuse the Iraqi people.”

Senator Lieberman is right. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is a weak and an unreliable ally. Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies — that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends. And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorists’ tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder — and invite new attacks on America. To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief. (Applause.)

And as we train Iraqis to take more responsibility in the battle with the terrorists, we’re also helping them build a democracy that is worthy of their sacrifice. And in just over two-and-a-half years, the Iraqi people have made incredible progress on the road to lasting freedom. Iraqis have gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to liberation, free elections, and a democratic constitution — and in 15 days they will go to the polls to elect a fully constitutional government that will lead them for the next four years.

With each ballot cast, the Iraqi people have sent a clear message to the terrorists: Iraqis will not be intimidated. The Iraqi people will determine the destiny of their country. The future of Iraq belongs to freedom. Despite the costs, the pain, and the danger, Iraqis are showing courage and are moving forward to build a free society and a lasting democracy in the heart of the Middle East — and the United States of America will help them succeed. (Applause.)

Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, “stay the course.” If by “stay the course,” they mean we will not allow the terrorists to break our will, they are right. If by “stay the course,” they mean we will not permit al Qaeda to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban — a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America — they are right, as well. If by “stay the course” they mean that we’re not learning from our experiences, or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they’re flat wrong. As our top commander in Iraq, General Casey, has said, “Our commanders on the ground are continuously adapting and adjusting, not only to what the enemy does, but also to try to out-think the enemy and get ahead of him.” Our strategy in Iraq is clear, our tactics are flexible and dynamic; we have changed them as conditions required and they are bringing us victory against a brutal enemy. (Applause.)

Victory in Iraq will demand the continued determination and resolve of the American people. It will also demand the strength and personal courage of the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. And as the future officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, you’re preparing to join this fight. You do so at a time when there is a vigorous debate about the war in Iraq. I know that for our men and women in uniform, this debate can be unsettling — when you’re risking your life to accomplish a mission, the last thing you want to hear is that mission being questioned in our nation’s capital. I want you to know that while there may be a lot of heated rhetoric in Washington, D.C., one thing is not in dispute: The American people stand behind you.

And we should not fear the debate in Washington. It’s one of the great strengths of our democracy that we can discuss our differences openly and honestly — even at times of war. Your service makes that freedom possible. And today, because of the men and women in our military, people are expressing their opinions freely in the streets of Baghdad, as well.

Most Americans want two things in Iraq: They want to see our troops win, and they want to see our troops come home as soon as possible. And those are my goals as well. I will settle for nothing less than complete victory. In World War II, victory came when the Empire of Japan surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri. In Iraq, there will not be a signing ceremony on the deck of a battleship. Victory will come when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy, when the Iraqi security forces can provide for the safety of their own citizens, and when Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorists to plot new attacks on our nation.

As we make progress toward victory, Iraqis will take more responsibility for their security, and fewer U.S. forces will be needed to complete the mission. America will not abandon Iraq. We will not turn that country over to the terrorists and put the American people at risk. Iraq will be a free nation and a strong ally in the Middle East — and this will add to the security of the American people.

In the short run, we’re going to bring justice to our enemies. In the long run, the best way to ensure the security of our own citizens is to spread the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East. We’ve seen freedom conquer evil and secure the peace before. In World War II, free nations came together to fight the ideology of fascism, and freedom prevailed — and today Germany and Japan are democracies and they are allies in securing the peace. In the Cold War, freedom defeated the ideology of communism and led to a democratic movement that freed the nations of Eastern and Central Europe from Soviet domination — and today these nations are allies in the war on terror.

Today in the Middle East freedom is once again contending with an ideology that seeks to sow anger and hatred and despair. And like fascism and communism before, the hateful ideologies that use terror will be defeated by the unstoppable power of freedom, and as democracy spreads in the Middle East, these countries will become allies in the cause of peace. (Applause.)

Advancing the cause of freedom and democracy in the Middle East begins with ensuring the success of a free Iraq. Freedom’s victory in that country will inspire democratic reformers from Damascus to Tehran, and spread hope across a troubled region, and lift a terrible threat from the lives of our citizens. By strengthening Iraqi democracy, we will gain a partner in the cause of peace and moderation in the Muslim world, and an ally in the worldwide struggle against — against the terrorists. Advancing the ideal of democracy and self-government is the mission that created our nation — and now it is the calling of a new generation of Americans. We will meet the challenge of our time. We will answer history’s call with confidence — because we know that freedom is the destiny of every man, woman and child on this earth. (Applause.)

Before our mission in Iraq is accomplished, there will be tough days ahead. A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and we’ve lost some very fine men and women in this war on terror. Many of you know comrades and classmates who left our shores to defend freedom and who did not live to make the journey home. We pray for the military families who mourn the loss of loves ones. We hold them in our hearts — and we honor the memory of every fallen soldier, sailor, airman, Coast Guardsman, and Marine.

One of those fallen heroes is a Marine Corporal named Jeff Starr, who was killed fighting the terrorists in Ramadi earlier this year. After he died, a letter was found on his laptop computer. Here’s what he wrote, he said, “[I]f you’re reading this, then I’ve died in Iraq. I don’t regret going. Everybody dies, but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it’s not to me. I’m here helping these people, so they can live the way we live. Not [to] have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators_. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.”

There is only one way to honor the sacrifice of Corporal Starr and his fallen comrades — and that is to take up their mantle, carry on their fight, and complete their mission. (Applause.)

We will take the fight to the terrorists. We will help the Iraqi people lay the foundations of a strong democracy that can govern itself, sustain itself, and defend itself. And by laying the foundations of freedom in Iraq, we will lay the foundation of peace for generations to come.

You all are the ones who will help accomplish all this. Our freedom and our way of life are in your hands — and they’re in the best of hands. I want to thank you for your service in the cause of freedom. I want to thank you for wearing the uniform. May God bless you all, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


November 30, 2005

The Joy of Conservatism: An Interview with Roger Scruton (Max Goss, November 30, 2005, Right Reason)

MG: What deleterious consequences result from the “free market ideology” you mention? Are there particular economic arrangements that conservatives ought to prefer?

Scruton: The free market is a necessary part of any stable community, and the arguments for maintaining it as the core of economic life were unanswerably set out by Ludwig von Mises. Hayek developed the arguments further, in order to offer a general defence of “spontaneous order”, as the means to produce and maintain socially necessary knowledge. As Hayek points out, there are many varieties of spontaneous order that exemplify the epistemic virtues that he values: the common law is one of them, so too is ordinary morality.

The problem for conservatism is to reconcile the many and often conflicting demands that these various forms of life impose on us. The free-market ideologues take one instance of spontaneous order, and erect it into a prescription for all the others. They ask us to believe that the free exchange of commodities is the model for all social interaction. But many of our most important forms of life involve withdrawing what we value from the market: sexual morality is an obvious instance, city planning another. (America has failed abysmally in both those respects, of course.)

Looked at from the anthropological point of view religion can be seen as an elaborate (and spontaneous) way in which communities remove what is most precious to them (i.e. all that concerns the creation and reproduction of community) from the erosion of the market. A cultural conservative, such as I am, supports that enterprise. I would put the point in terms that echo Burke and Chesterton: the free market provides the optimal solution to the competition among the living for scarce resources; but when applied to the goods in which the dead and the unborn have an interest (sex, for instance) it wastes what must be saved.

MG: Shifting gears, an important theme in your book is that the notion of a social contract, “a recent and now seemingly irrepressible political idea,” cannot ground political life as we experience it. Can you say a little about the contrasting idea of the “transcendent bonds” that you say give rise to our social obligations?

Scruton: My point was simply to emphasize that the most important obligations governing our lives as social and political beings — including those to family, country and state — are non-contractual and precede the capacity for rational choice. By referring to them as “transcendent” I meant to emphasize that they transcend any capacity to rationalise them in contractual or negotiable terms. They have an absolute and immovable character that we must acknowledge if we are to understand our social and political condition. The refusal of people on the left to make this acknowledgement stems from their inability to accept external authority in any form, and from their deep down belief that all power is usurpation, unless wielded by themselves.

MG: Does your emphasis on authority give any substance to the claim, so often found on the lips of liberals, that conservatism is repressive and dictatorial?

Scruton: To describe an obligation as transcendent in my sense is not to endow it with some kind of oppressive force. On the contrary, it is to recognize the spontaneous disposition of people to acknowledge obligations that they never contracted. There are other words that might be used in this context: gratitude, piety, obedience — all of them virtues, and all of them naturally offered to the thing we love.

What I try to make clear in my writings is that, while the left-liberal view of politics is founded in antagonism towards existing things and resentment at power in the hands of others, conservatism is founded in the love of existing things, imperfections included, and a willing acceptance of authority, provided it is not blatantly illegitimate. Hence there is nothing oppressive in the conservative attitude to authority.

An essay by the inestimable Mr. Scruton is included in our


November 29, 2005

UN official predicts disaster if US delays budget (Evelyn Leopold, 29 Nov 2005, Reuters)

A senior U.N. official said on Tuesday the United Nations might have to delay paying salaries if the United States followed through on its threat to hold up the two-year $3.9 billion budget.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton has insisted the 191-member General Assembly focus on management reforms following the Iraq oil-for-food scandal before approving the 2006-2007 budget next month.

To make his point, Bolton has suggested a three- or four- month interim budget so that members can focus on reform plans, many of which U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed and the United States and Japan are seeking to refine.

One struggles to find a downside….


November 29, 2005

NGO pulls curtains down on ‘anti-US’ Pak play (ASIT SRIVASTAVA, November 30, 2005, Express India)

For these 11 theatre actors from Pakistan, the show has ended even before it began. Invited by an NGO — the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) — to stage plays across the country, the Pakistani troupe was allegedly told to pack their bags because their production, Zikr-e-Nashunida (Discussing the Unheeded), expressed anti-US sentiments.

It’s not your father’s India.

Boost To India-US Nuclear Deal (Kushal Jeena, Nov 29, 2005, UPI)

Prospects of a change in U.S. law to accommodate a civilian nuclear agreement between India and United States look bright following the visit of a U.S. delegation to India, Indian analysts said Tuesday.

“A delegation of U.S. congressmen, which is visiting India, is looking in an upbeat mood to see the Indian administration showing enthusiasm in working out a program for the separation of its nuclear facilities to meet the condition of India-U.S. civilian nuclear agreement,” said senior political analyst A.B. Mahapatra.

He said with India keen to separate nuclear installations despite opposition from the left parties, the nuclear agreement signed between U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will go through.

“India is willing to separate its civilian and nuclear facilities and programs and impose safeguards as required by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.


November 28, 2005

A fraught but worthy mission (BOB RAE, 11/28/05, Toronto Star)

The decision by the U.S./U.K.-led coalition to invade Iraq in the spring of 2003 had several consequences. One was the ouster and eventual capture of Saddam Hussein. Another was the unleashing of forces that the brutality of the dictatorship had kept under firm control for generations: a religious Shiite movement, largely in the south, which seeks to see more traditional values enshrined and protected in the constitution; and a movement of people who had been unable to express themselves for decades and who want a liberal, secular democracy, with groups advocating women’s rights, greater academic freedom, environmental protection, the protection of minorities, and the modernization of the Iraqi economy.

The Kurds were strong supporters of the invasion because it meant that their oppressor would finally be brought to book, and it could ultimately provide a protected constitutional status within a federal Iraq.

The decision to disband the Iraqi army and police and prohibit members of the Ba’athist regime from participating in civic life had far greater effect than was realized at the time, with two major consequences: first, a vacuum in the maintenance of civil order, which left foreign armies to assume basic police responsibilities; and second, a large and idle army of the downwardly mobile and disaffected.

A huge portion of the public sector lost their jobs, their vocation, and their pensions. They were, for the most part, Sunni, and now form an important base for the domestic insurgency that has engulfed Iraq since President GeorgeBush’s declaration of an end to major combat operations two years ago.

To this maelstrom add the terrorism of the Osama bin Laden surrogates, led in Iraq by Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who has used the vacuum of civil order in Iraq as a breeding and recruiting ground; neighbouring countries, each with a different stake in Iraq’s continuing failure and weakness, and a tribalism whose full force had been pushed down by Saddam’s army and bureaucracy, but which now has very little to hold it back.

What is remarkable is that given these conditions and the consequent level of violence, some constitutional progress has been made. […]

Federalism, it is said, is essentially a foreign idea, a Western idea. It has no place in an Islamic state.

“Federalism will lead to separatism” is the next argument. It is an imported ideology that will put Iraq in a rigid straightjacket from which it will never emerge. The world, the oil companies, the West, will pick at Iraq’s remains. These arguments must be answered.

The demand for federalism has come from Iraqis themselves. Every federal country is different. There is certainly no single path to federalism. It is an approach, not an ideology.

The evidence would also show that, far from leading to separatism, an effective federalism counteracts those determined to break up a country.

By insisting on one language, one religion, one official identity, it could reasonably be argued that a dominant majority gives a smaller nationality no reason to stay.

It is the abuse of majority power that fuels the secessionist urge, not the dispersal and sharing of power, which is at the core of the federalist idea.

The key is “effective federalism,” which is different from confederation. The central government must have the sovereign capacity to relate to each citizen, to maintain the defence and foreign affairs of the country, and to ensure an economy where goods, services, commerce, and people are mobile.

If Iraq’s regions are feudal fiefdoms, separatism will indeed be built into the constituent parts but not because of federalism. After all, the idea of building a stronger and more perfect union is as important a part of the federal project as is the recognition of the particular nature of different regions.

Just as the myth of the ethnically homogeneous state denies the reality of diversity, the borders and powers of the regions themselves should not be based on notions of ethnic exclusivity.

Assyrians, Turkmen, Aziris and others have expressed strong anxiety that their interests would be lost in some simplistic ethnic carve-up. Given the absence of any strong pattern of protecting the rights of minorities, their concerns are understandable. Modern federal practices have made a consistent point of not allowing provincial or states’ rights to squelch human right

The built-in beauty is that by giving the majority power you allow them to be more tolerant of minorities they needn’t fear and at the same time apply pressure for conformity to those minorities, so that the whole system reinforces stability.


November 28, 2005

Blair too weak to win deal, says Chirac (David Rennie in Brussels and Anton La Guardia in Barcelona, 29/11/2005, Daily Telegraph)

In an attempt to break the deadlock over the next EU budget, the Prime Minister is proposing to slash nearly £17 billion from an earlier budget proposal that failed to find agreement in June. The British plan represents a cut of £120 billion from an initial spending plan put forward by the European Commission.

Most of the pain will be felt by the 10 newest members of the EU, mostly ex-Communist states, because the budget preserves both agricultural subsidies championed by France and the multi-billion pound annual British rebate. But as Mr Blair prepared to fly to eastern Europe this week to sell his scaled-down budget as being in the “true interest” of the new member states, Mr Chirac poured cold water on the chances of a deal by Britain, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU until the end of the year.

Speaking a few rooms from where Mr Blair was giving the closing press conference at a summit of European and Mediterranean countries in Barcelona, Mr Chirac said: “The United Kingdom has a very difficult mission. It is relatively isolated on the financial perspective.”

Now would be the perfect moment for Tory leadership–if they had any yet–to step forward and say that no deal is better than one on French terms. If it breaks the EU, so be it.


November 28, 2005

The US knows it will have to talk to the Iraqi resistance: Even Lebanon was not as terrifying as the random menace of occupied Iraq. But the violence could be brought under control (Zaki Chehab, November 25, 2005, The Guardian)

Many Sunni tribal leaders in Iraq are convinced that Washington’s message to the Shia and Kurdish leaderships, after Condoleezza Rice’s first visit to Iraq in May, to allow Sunnis to participate in the political process, was an important US admission that mistakes had been made and needed to be corrected. But they also believe that the political process in Iraq has yet to put them on anything like the same footing as the Shia and Kurds. As a result, large numbers feel the attacks are the only way to ensure their interests are taken on board.

An end to violence in Iraq will not happen while the occupation continues. But against all expectations, it is not impossible for the situation to be brought under greater control if Sunnis are given a role similar to that of the Shia and Kurds. When they feel that their areas are beginning to benefit from reconstruction and their men are allowed to go back to their jobs in state institutions and the army, from which they were expelled as a result of de-Ba’athification, there is little doubt that the situation could improve.

It was, of course, the Sunni themselves who boycotted the process, but their recognition that it was a mistake–even if they feel it necessary to blame others–is all to the good. Even better if they’ve finally figured out that they’re the main beneficiaries of federalism in a state where they’re only 20% of the population.