WE ARE THE MISKITO (*) THIS TIME:

September 27, 2006

How White House Warmongers Learned to Love Empire (Joshua Holland, September 27, 2006, AlterNet)

Long before President Bush articulated his Middle East doctrine, an earlier Republican administration argued that a different region was so corrupt, so in need of reform, and was saddled with such oppressive and backward rulers that bringing about stability and the potential for prosperity for its citizens was beyond the realm of politics or diplomacy.

Ronald Reagan smilingly asserted that only U.S.-backed violence and American-style nation building could give the benighted people of Central America a chance to join the modern world.

He followed the claim with his infamous “dirty wars,” and his administration framed the bloodshed in the loftiest and most idealistic terms. The Reagan administration launched an intensive public relations campaign to convince Americans that the tens of thousands of civilian deaths that resulted were regrettable but necessary, not only because of the United States’ mission to promote human rights and democracy around the world but also in order to defeat terrorism.

Clearly, there are differences between Reagan’s wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua two decades ago and Bush’s debacle in Iraq today.

The only significant difference is that Democrats don’t hold either house of Congress, so they can’t try to criminalize the crusade this time.

(*) Remarks at a Joint German-American Military Ceremony at Bitburg Air Base in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ronald W. Reagan, May 5, 1985)

Four decades ago we waged a great war to lift the darkness of evil from the world, to let men and women in this country and in every country live in the sunshine of liberty. Our victory was great, and the Federal Republic, Italy, and Japan are now in the community of free nations. But the struggle for freedom is not complete, for today much of the world is still cast in totalitarian darkness.

Twenty-two years ago President John F. Kennedy went to the Berlin Wall and proclaimed that he, too, was a Berliner. Well, today freedom-loving people around the world must say: I am a Berliner. I am a Jew in a world still threatened by anti-Semitism. I am an Afghan, and I am a prisoner of the Gulag. I am a refugee in a crowded boat foundering off the coast of Vietnam. I am a Laotian, a Cambodian, a Cuban, and a Miskito Indian in Nicaragua. I, too, am a potential victim of totalitarianism.

The one lesson of World War II, the one lesson of nazism, is that freedom must always be stronger than totalitarianism and that good must always be stronger than evil. The moral measure of our two nations will be found in the resolve we show to preserve liberty, to protect life, and to honor and cherish all God’s children.

That is why the free, democratic Federal Republic of Germany is such a profound and hopeful testament to the human spirit. We cannot undo the crimes and wars of yesterday nor call back the millions back to life, but we can give meaning to the past by learning its lessons and making a better future. We can let our pain drive us to greater efforts to heal humanity’s suffering.

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WHICH IS WHY THE LONG WAR IS UNLOSEABLE:

September 26, 2006

Musharraf ‘war-gamed’ U.S., concluded Pakistan would lose (PAUL KORING, 9/26/06, Globe and Mail)

Pakistan’s military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, says he contemplated war with the United States in 2001 but opted instead to forsake the Taliban and become President George W. Bush’s ally.

“I war-gamed the United States as an adversary,” the Pakistani leader wrote in his martially titled memoirs In the Line of Fire, published yesterday. It apparently didn’t take the general, then an international pariah for having staged a coup to toppled his country’s democratic government, very long to conclude that Pakistan would lose.

“The answer was a resounding no,” he wrote, having concluded that the world’s most powerful military would wipe out his forces, destroy his nuclear weapons, wreak havoc on Pakistan’s threadbare infrastructure, help India seize disputed Kashmir and then turn to his archrival in New Delhi for the support and bases it needed to topple Afghanistan’s Taliban regime.

The beauty of being the hyperpower is that we retain that option vis-a-vis every other nation on Earth.


BEING PC MEANS NEVER HAVING TO FACE A RECKONING:

September 25, 2006

Day of reckoning for DDT foes? (Steven Milloy, September 25, 2006, Washington Times)

Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead, mostly pregnant women and children under age 5), illness (billions sickened) and poverty (more than $1 trillion in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban. […]

Rachel Carson kicked off DDT hysteria with her pseudoscientific 1962 book, “Silent Spring.” Miss Carson materially misrepresented DDT science in order to advance her anti-pesticide agenda. Today she is hailed as having launched the global environmental movement. A Pennsylvania state office building, Maryland elementary school, Pittsburgh bridge and a Maryland state park are named for her. The Smithsonian Institution commemorates her work against DDT. She was even honored with a 1981 U.S. postage stamp. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of her birth. Many celebrations are planned.

It’s quite a tribute for someone who was so dead wrong. At the very least, her name should be removed from public property and there should be no government-sponsored honors of Miss Carson.

The Audubon Society was a leader in the attack on DDT, including falsely accusing DDT defenders (who won a libel suit) of lying. Not wanting to jeopardize its nonprofit tax status, the Audubon Society formed the Environmental Defense Fund (now simply known as Environmental Defense) in 1967 to spearhead its anti-DDT efforts. Today the National Audubon Society takes in more than $100 million yearly and has assets worth more than $200 million. Environmental Defense takes in more than $65 million yearly with a net worth exceeding $73 million.

In a February 25, 1971, media release, the president of the Sierra Club said his organization wanted “a ban, not just a curb” on DDT, “even in the tropical countries where DDT has kept malaria under control. Today the Sierra Club rakes in more than $90 million per year and has more than $50 million in assets.

Business are often held liable and forced to pay monetary damages for defective products and false statements. Why shouldn’t the National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense, Sierra Club and other anti-DDT activist groups be held liable for the harm caused by their recklessly defective activism?

MORE:
WHO calls for more DDT use vs. malaria (LAURAN NEERGAARD, 9/15/06, AP)

A small number of malaria-plagued countries already use DDT, backed by a 2001 United Nations treaty that set out strict rules to prevent environmental contamination. But the influential WHO’s long-awaited announcement makes clear that it will push indoor spraying with a number of insecticides — and that DDT will be a top choice because when used properly it’s safe, effective and cheap.

“We must take a position based on the science and the data,” said Dr. Arata Kochi, the WHO’s malaria chief. “One of the best tools we have against malaria is indoor residual house spraying. Of the dozen insecticides WHO has approved as safe for house spraying, the most effective is DDT.”

“It’s a big change,” said biologist Amir Attaran of Canada’s University of Ottawa, who has long pushed for the guidelines and described a recent draft. “There has been a lot of resistance to using insecticides to control malaria, and one insecticide especially. … That will have to be re-evaluated by a lot of people.”

The U.S. government already has decided to pay for DDT and other indoor insecticide use as part of
President Bush’s $1.2 billion, five-year initiative to control malaria in Africa.

Finally: Good News for Malaria Victims (Paul Driessen, September 17, 2006, Chron Watch)

In Kenya alone, 34,000 young children a year perish from malaria, says Health Minister Charity Ngilu. Uganda suffers 100,000 deaths annually, notes Minister of Health Dr. Stephen Malinga – the equivalent of a jetliner with 275 people slamming into its Rwenzori Mountains every day.

Africa has 400 million cases of acute malaria per year; up to 2 million die. Countless millions are too sick to work or go to school, countless millions more must stay home to care for them, and meager family savings are exhausted on anti-malaria drugs.

The disease costs Kenya 170 million working days and billions of dollars annually. It is a major reason that few tourists and investors go to Africa, and that the sub-Sahara region remains one of the poorest on Earth.

Instead of improving, in recent decades the disease rates have worsened. A principal reason, as epidemiologist Robert Desowitz observed, has been insecticide-resistant mosquitoes lethally combined with insecticide-resistant health authorities, who insisted on politically correct policies, instead of proven, practical solutions.

Indeed, since the US banned DDT in 1972, despite an independent commission finding that it was safe for people and most wildlife, malaria has killed an estimated 50 million people. Opponents have focused relentlessly on the alleged risks of using DDT–while ignoring the undeniable tragedies the chemical could prevent.

DDT is no “silver bullet,” nor is it appropriate in all places or cases. However, it is a critical element of many successful malaria control programs. Sprayed just twice a year on the inside walls of homes, it keeps 90% of mosquitoes from even entering, irritates those that do come in so they don’t bite, and kills any that land. No other chemical, at any price, does that.

Look Who’s Ignoring Science Now (Sebastian Mallaby, October 10, 2005, Washington Post)

DDT, to give that chemical its more familiar name, works miracles against diseases that are spread by insects. During the Second World War, vast quantities of the stuff were dusted over troops and concentration-camp survivors to kill the body lice that spread typhus. Later, DDT was used widely in Latin America to beat back dengue and yellow fever. But the chemical’s noblest calling is to combat malarial mosquitoes. In the early 20th century, Dunklin County, Missouri, had a higher rate of malarial mortality than Freetown, Sierra Leone. Between 1947 and 1949, DDT was sprayed on the internal walls of nearly 5 million American houses, and at the end of that process malaria had ceased to pose a significant threat in the United States.

DDT also helped to eliminate malaria in Europe and parts of Asia, and in 1970 the National Academy of Sciences estimated that the chemical had prevented 500 million deaths. And yet, despite that astounding number, DDT has all but disappeared from the malaria arsenal. Some 500 million people still get the disease annually, and at least 1 million die, but the World Health Organization refuses to recommend DDT spraying. The U.S. government’s development programs don’t purchase any of the chemical. In June President Bush made a great show of announcing a new five-year push against malaria; DDT appears to play no part in his plans.

But the worst culprit is the European Union. It not only refuses to fund DDT spraying: In the case of at least one country, it has also threatened to punish DDT use with import restrictions.

That country is Uganda, which suffered a crippling 12 million cases of malaria in a population of 27 million in 2003. The Ugandans know perfectly well that DDT can help them: As Roger Bate of the American Enterprise Institute recently testified to Congress, DDT spraying in one part of the country in 1959 and 1960 reduced the prevalence of malaria from 22 percent to less than 1 percent. Ugandans also know the record in South Africa, where the cessation of DDT spraying in 1996 allowed the number of malaria cases to multiply tenfold and where the resumption of spraying in 2000 helped to bring the caseload down by almost 80 percent.

So the Ugandans, not unreasonably, would like to use DDT. But in February the European Union waved an anti-scientific flag at them. The Europeans said Uganda might need to institute a new food monitoring program to assuage the health concerns of their consumers, even though hundreds of millions have been exposed to DDT without generating any solid evidence that the chemical harms people. The E.U. proposal might constitute an impossible administrative burden on a poor country. Anti-malaria campaigners say that other African governments are wary of even considering DDT, having seen what Uganda has gone through.

Why does Europe impede Uganda’s fight against malaria? The standard answer starts with “Silent Spring,” the book that helped launch the environmental movement in the 1960s and that painted a scary picture of DDT’s potential impact on the food chain. But this is only half right. The book’s overblown claims led to the banning of DDT in the United States in 1972 and its disappearance from aid-funded programs thereafter. But “Silent Spring” was really about the dangers of large-scale agricultural use of DDT, not the limited spraying of houses. Today mainstream environmental groups concede that in the context of malarial countries, the certain health benefits of anti-malarial spraying may outweigh the speculative environmental risks.


THE INTELLIGENTSIA JUST HAS TO BE RIGHT THIS TIME…:

September 18, 2006

Bush’s Useful Idiots: the Strange Death of Liberal America (Tony Judt, 9/21/06, London Review of Books)

Why have American liberals acquiesced in President Bush’s catastrophic foreign policy? Why have they so little to say about Iraq, about Lebanon, or about reports of a planned attack on Iran? Why has the administration’s sustained attack on civil liberties and international law aroused so little opposition or anger from those who used to care most about these things? Why, in short, has the liberal intelligentsia of the United States in recent years kept its head safely below the parapet?

It wasn’t always so. On 26 October 1988, the New York Times carried a full-page advertisement for liberalism. Headed ‘A Reaffirmation of Principle’, it openly rebuked Ronald Reagan for deriding ‘the dreaded L-word’ and treating ‘liberals’ and ‘liberalism’ as terms of opprobrium. Liberal principles, the text affirmed, are ‘timeless. Extremists of the right and of the left have long attacked liberalism as their greatest enemy. In our own time liberal democracies have been crushed by such extremists. Against any encouragement of this tendency in our own country, intentional or not, we feel obliged to speak out.’

The advertisement was signed by 63 prominent intellectuals, writers and businessmen: among them Daniel Bell, J.K. Galbraith, Felix Rohatyn, Arthur Schlesinger Jr, Irving Howe and Eudora Welty. These and other signatories – the economist Kenneth Arrow, the poet Robert Penn Warren – were the critical intellectual core, the steady moral centre of American public life. But who, now, would sign such a protest? Liberalism in the United States today is the politics that dares not speak its name. And those who style themselves ‘liberal intellectuals’ are otherwise engaged. As befits the new Gilded Age, in which the pay ratio of an American CEO to that of a skilled worker is 412:1 and a corrupted Congress is awash in lobbies and favours, the place of the liberal intellectual has been largely taken over by an admirable cohort of ‘muck-raking’ investigative journalists – Seymour Hersh, Michael Massing and Mark Danner, writing in the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books.

The collapse of liberal self-confidence in the contemporary US can be variously explained. In part it is a backwash from the lost illusions of the 1960s generation, a retreat from the radical nostrums of youth into the all-consuming business of material accumulation and personal security. The signatories of the New York Times advertisement were born in most cases many years earlier, their political opinions shaped by the 1930s above all. Their commitments were the product of experience and adversity and made of sterner stuff. The disappearance of the liberal centre in American politics is also a direct outcome of the deliquescence of the Democratic Party. In domestic politics liberals once believed in the provision of welfare, good government and social justice. In foreign affairs they had a longstanding commitment to international law, negotiation, and the importance of moral example. Today, a spreading me-first consensus has replaced vigorous public debate in both arenas. And like their political counterparts, the critical intelligentsia once so prominent in American cultural life has fallen silent.

Let’s all put our heads together and see if we can figure out anything else that might have happened right around that time that could have served to discredit the Left and its opposition to Ronald Reagan? Anything? Anybody?

MORE:
H. W. Brands offers a much more sensible description of the Strange Death.

MORE/MORE:
The Long Twilight Struggle: What a Cold War realist can teach us about winning a “long war.” (PATRICK J. GARRITY, September 6, 2006, Opinion Journal)

Of course, the bête noire of the Cold War school of competition management and stability was Ronald Reagan. Reagan disdained détente, warned of evil empires, spoke of transcending both Communism and nuclear deterrence; yet he wanted to build more missiles on the ground and defenses in the sky. The academic community, along with the majority of the foreign policy establishment, was appalled. Reagan’s strategy seemed a radicalized version of Paul Nitze’s NSC 68. Even Nitze, who served in the Reagan administration, was clearly uncomfortable with the new American assertiveness. Gaddis, surprisingly–though running as usual against the common wisdom–wrote favorably of Reagan, who he thought was pursuing a promising combination of symmetrical and asymmetrical strategies.

Then the Cold War came to a sudden and decisive end, flabbergasting diplomatic historians and international relations theorists. Gaddis, taking advantage of the wave of archival evidence flowing out of the former Eastern bloc and being translated and summarized by other scholars, staked out a landmark post-Cold War interpretation of the origins of the Cold War. In “We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History” (accent on “now,” rather than “know”), published in 1997, Gaddis put the blame for the worst of the Cold War on Stalin. Although Stalin did not have a master plan for a global Communist empire, he was a despicable tyrant who saw the world through the ideological lenses of Marxism-Leninism. Stalin sought to dominate Europe as thoroughly as Hitler had wanted to do. Stalin assumed initially that the forces of history would bring this about naturally, as the capitalists fell out among themselves. But when the capitalists actually united in resistance, Stalin was perfectly capable of helping history along if the opportunity presented itself, as when he gave Kim Il Sung a “green light” for the invasion of South Korea. Stalin–and, to a lesser extent, his successors–had a strong streak of revolutionary romanticism that might well have led to strategic disaster had the United States not responded appropriately. The United States, of course, often did not respond appropriately or wisely, but this was the distinctly minor theme of Gaddis’s analysis.

“The Cold War: A New History” goes even further. Gaddis does not abandon his structuralist argument or withdraw the conclusion that the United States overreacted in 1949-1950. He also celebrates the fact that the Cold War did not turn hot. But as he now sees it, the stable Long Peace–especially as manifested in détente–actually proved to be unstable. The structural determinants of international relations, it turns out, include not only the pursuit of power and security but a sense of justice. National and popular frustrations grew because unfair arrangements once deemed temporary (such as a divided Europe) had become permanent. Public fear of nuclear war challenged the elites’ reliance on nuclear deterrence as a tool of Cold War management. Those living in command economies resented the manifest failure to improve living standards. There was a slow shift of influence from the supposedly powerful to the seemingly powerless, through the nonaligned movement, human rights organizations, and the like. The populations of captive nations were unexpectedly emboldened by new international standards for making moral judgments, such as the human rights provisions of the Helsinki Accords (1975).

Sensing these deeper historical trends, a few great “actor-leaders” found ways to dramatize them to make the point that the Cold War need not last forever. For Gaddis the greatest actor-leader (literally) was Ronald Reagan. “Reagan was as skillful a politician as the nation had seen for many years, and one of its sharpest grand strategists ever,” Gaddis writes. “His strength lay in his ability to see beyond complexity to simplicity. And what he saw was simply this: that because détente perpetuated–and had been meant to perpetuate–the Cold War, only killing détente could end the Cold War.” Others joined Reagan on stage, even though they were not all reading from the same script–Pope John Paul II (himself an actor as a young man), Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, and Deng Xiaoping. Finally there was poor Mikhail Gorbachev–completely at a loss to understand what fundamental change truly meant for his Soviet Union but aware that things could not go on as they were and, to his everlasting credit, willing to eschew violence and accept the verdict of history. Reagan, through decidedly un-Kennanesque means, had found a way to transform the Soviet regime.

According to Gaddis, not even these visionaries foresaw how soon and how decisively the Cold War would end. The final impetus was provided by ordinary people with simple priorities who saw, seized, and sometimes stumbled into opportunities to seek freedom (the East Germans, for example, who reached the West through Hungary when leaders there opened up the border). In doing so they caused a collapse no one could stop. Leaders had little choice but to follow, even if–like President George H.W. Bush, a confirmed member of the Cold War country club–they did so with great reluctance.


CHAOS THEORY:

September 18, 2006

Explaining the J Curve (JOHN BATCHELOR, September 18, 2006, NY Sun)

Simply, the J curve according to Mr. Bremer’s Eurasia Group is drawn on a bar graph with “stability” as the X-axis and “openness” as the Y-axis. By stability, Mr. Bremmer means the ability to withstand shocks from the outside, such as a terror attack, as well as the ability to avoid shocking yourself, such as a market crash or a coup. By openness, Mr. Bremmer means that citizens have access to information both from outside the state and from fellow citizens, such as perfectly describes the internet. What is striking about the J curve is that a maximum tyranny such as North Korea, on the extreme left of the curve, is almost as stable as a maximum free society such as Denmark on the extreme right of the curve. The distinction with the difference is what happens to a nation when it moves from being the prison of North Korea on the left to being the liberated salon of Denmark on the right: the stability dips severely.This is the J shape, so that a country that throws off its tyranny will plunge into chaos quickly and keep sinking into Hades for some time before it can hope to rise to new enterprises as an open society. […]

Currently slipping from intolerant stability to the long depths of chaos are Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. At the depths of the curve, when all hope is murdered, are South Africa after apartheid and Yugoslavia after the Soviets. And now climbing from the depraved depths toward enhancing openness, according to Mr. Bremmer, are Turkey, Israel, and India. Coyly, Mr. Bremmer sidesteps China and calls the PRC a dilemma. […]

What hedgies do not readily entertain is that the historical record is filled with events that describe illogical possibilities that actually happened and changed the map, such as the contest between revolutionary Bonapartist France and imperial merchant England. Waiting out Napoleon’s bloodthirsty vanity would not have worked, even over half a century of patience. Further, it is unimaginable, on reading the London Times in 1805, that anyone could have constrained the Admiralty from sending out Nelson and Collingwood to find the combined French and Spanish fleets. Horatio Nelson closing on the enemy at Trafalgar can sound as if he is schooling George Bush as he closes on Saddam at Baghdad: “When I am without orders and unexpected occurrences arrive, I shall always act as I think the honour and glory of my King and Country demand. But in case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.”

Mr. Bremmer’s genius does illuminate the present bootless homicide in Baghdad, however, because in order to gain the gift of an open democracy, Iraq must pass through the depraved low point of the J curve. Elections are not the objective. Stability with free-flowing information in a capitalist forum is the mission, and that will take time and intrepidity.

Using the J curve as an analytical lens through which to view just the 20th century, it becomes apparent that given three opportunities to shove things towards the upslope of the curve, even if it would have been more chaotic, we instead favored the left, and “stability,” thereby retarding development and prolonging the Long War: when Wilson chose the League (perforce accepting the re-establishment of colonialism) over self-determination after WWI; when we failed to destroy the Bolshevik regime at the end of WWII; and when George H. W. Bush sided with the PRC and Ba’athist dictators after the Cold War. These episodes of Realism have all proved disastrous in the long run.


THERE IS NO BRITAIN:

September 12, 2006

St Andrew’s Day off (for some) (HAMISH MACDONELL AND LOUISE GRAY, 9/12/06, The Scotsman)

JACK McConnell yesterday backed plans to make St Andrew’s Day a public holiday, saying it would help bring the country together to celebrate the good in Scotland. […]

Announcing his backing, the First Minister said yesterday: “I want to make sure that each year here in Scotland we celebrate St Andrew’s Day as one country, many cultures, so we all come together and celebrate everything that is good about Scotland.”


RHETORIC BECOMES REALITY:

September 11, 2006

Turning Islamists into democrats (The Monitor’s View, 9/12/06, CS Monitor)

What is unfolding is nothing less than democracy at work. An elected government accountable to the people, is indeed being held accountable. Granted, Fatah has encouraged the protesters, but that doesn’t change the fact that a government is still responsible, ultimately, to an electorate as a whole, and not just to a political party or faction.

The Lebanon war may also have had a positive effect on Hamas. Perhaps Israel’s strong use of force has sobered Hamas. If it continues with its rocket-lobbing and Israeli-soldier- kidnapping campaign (fortunately, no suicide bombers of late), can it expect a similar hammering?

This is so bitter a pill for those on the Left and the far Right to swallow that they’re forced to deny the historical inevitability unfolding before their eyes.