I’m not saying we ought to brutalize the corpse, because that ain’t right, but if we’re in any way inconveniencing ourselves in order to treat his body in the way that he’d want it to be treated, that ain’t right either.
Though now that we’ve got the body, I’m curious what will happen to it. This is pretty much unprecedented in modern Western warfare. Saddam Hussein was executed by Iraqi civil authorities and his body handed over to a religious leader in his home town (there are videos if you search for them). Slobodan Milosevic died long after most people had forgotten who he was, and he was buried in his home town. The Ruskies buried Hitler’s ashes a few times before dumping them in a river; we either executed the leaders of Japan and cremated them, or left them in power to be buried in an official manner at a later time. Our greatest traitor, captured shortly after a war, lived a full life in peace and comfort and was given a Christian burial in a plot picked out by his wife. Kim il Sung and Ho Chi Minh – their deaths and burials were unfortunately beyond our control.
Here we have the body of a [figurehead] enemy leader, killed by our soldiers in an ongoing war. This has never happened for America, and is extraordinary in the recent history of Western war. Should we incinerate it and and dump the ashes at sea? Give the body to one of his wives or children (and which one?)? Give it to the Saudis? Bury it in an unmarked location (but it would certainly get founded out)? Going out of our way to treat it the way that Muslims treat a body sends the very mixed signal that I put in the title of this post, and seems to conflict with the whole “You’re our enemy and thus we shouldn’t fully respect your every whim when we kill you after a 10-year manhunt” thing.
Anyhow, I couldn’t think of a finer individual to get shot in the head, and I’m glad we got the body so that we can make certain it’s him. But, um, now what?
The environmentalists’ mission of reverting mankind to the crappy conditions of our pre-historic ancestors seems to be progressing apace. Not only has Europe long-banned bright lights, America will too at the end of the year. Now comes word that the newest eco-toilets don’t even manage to get rid of poo properly.
Welcome to the green future, where we all sit around in dimly-lit rooms smelling our own filth.
Please watch the following video and try to tell me that Ms. Palin is not as guilty of identity politics and dishonesty as any race-hustler or class warrior:
Palin: I have said all along that America is based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. And nobody has to believe me, though. You can just got our Founding Fathers’ early documents and see how they crafted a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution that allows that Judeo-Christian belief to be the foundation of our laws. And our Constitution, of course, essentially [acknowledges] that our unalienable rights don’t come from man, they come from God. So this document is set up to protect us from a government that would ever infringe upon our right to have freedom of religion and to be able to express our faith freely. So, it’s ironic that here, on the National Day of Prayer, there’s so much controversy about whether or not we’re a country built on Judeo-Christian beliefs and whether or not we’re we can even talk about God in the public square. It’s absolute nonsense what we’re hearing.
O’Reilly: Well all they have to do is walk into the Supreme Court chamber and you’ll see the ten commandments. So we know that you’re absolutely correct that the Founding Fathers did base, not only the Declaration of Independence, but also our constitutional protections on what they thought was right and wrong. And what they thought was right and wrong came from the ten commandments, which is Judeo-Christian philosophy.
Notice how Palin repeatedly refers to “Judeo-Christian beliefs” being the primary — if not the sole — influence for the constitution, as if the three branches of the Federal Government could be derived from the Pentateuch or Federalist Papers from the Beatitudes.
I understand, and am marginally sympathetic with, Religious Conservatives’ frustration at being told that religious references are forbidden in the public sphere. And while I’ve never quite understood 10 Commandments fetishism, I’m equally baffled by ACLU suits to remove innocuous statues that have been sitting on courthouse lawns for decades.
But is it too much to ask for a little acknowledgment and/or appreciation for our civilization’s other pillars? We’re at least as Greco-Roman as we are Judeo-Christian, to say nothing of our British and Enlightenment heritages. If one listened only to Palin and O’Reilly you’d be forgiven for being ignorant of civilizational innovations between Moses and James Madison.
The conservative blogosphere is taking amomentarytime-out to mark the passing of Arnold Beichman, a fellow at the Hoover Institution and anti-Soviet crusader. Arnold was a friend of my father’s who quickly became a friend of our entire family; so much so, that my sister and I called him “Uncle Arnold.” He was one of those rare individuals who possessed a powerful mind and an equally gracious heart; I’m very priviledged to have known him.
Hearing of his passing yesterday, my parents (as only parents can) not only remembered, but found an essay I wrote about him for a middle school assignment way back in in 1995. I certainly won’t pass it off as any great feat of literature, but it does one thing surprisingly well. Arnold had an amazing ability to instantly size-up another person — such as a little snot like me at 14 — and effortlessly bring the conversation to the highest level that person was capable of reaching.
Arnold, of course, could always sail higher.
Uncle Arnold? He’s Crazy!
When I was two years old (I don’t remember any of this) I went to my “Uncle” Arnold’s house in British Columbia. I spent the next week running around on beaches, building sand castles and listening to Arnold’s jokes.
Since then I have moved to Washington state and have seen him about five times (two since moving). Every time I see “Uncle” Arnold he looks older but acts younger. When my sister was three and was told that Arnold was coming to visit, she replied, “Uncle Arnold? He’s Crazy.”
Arnold Beichman is not my uncle, nor is he crazy. In fact, I have no blood relation to him at all. He’s just one of my dad’s friends, who happens to be my friend as well. He and my dad met about one year after I was born in Washington D.C. Arnold (who is eighty-something) is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in San Fransico. He is a scholar and a journalist, having published two articles in the Washington Times just last week.
Arnold is a rather heavy man with more hair on his chest than on his head. He speaks very loudly, usually complaining.
He acts rather childish at times and one wonders how he used to make a living, which he obviously has. He loves to tell jokes and knows a surprisingly large amount about everything.
The last time Arnold came out here, two months ago, he came with his wife Carol. They had never been to the islands and were toying with the idea of buying property here.
“So, Tommy, what’s your scientific outlook?”, he asked me loudly at the table the first night out here.
“Uh I don’t…have one yet,” I said, rather confused.
“Well, now you do”.
We began to talk about everything new in the scientific world, namely the Hubble Telescope. He told us some of his jokes, none of which I can remember, unfortunately, but know I laughed at.
Later that night I was playing a World War II flight simulator, fending off Germans from my bomber squadron. Half way through he walked in and asked,
“What are you flying?”
“P-51 Mustang,” I responded. Now, I could be a scholar on aircraft of the second World War. I have read many books on the subject and can recognize most on sight.
“What are you up against?”
“Two Focke Wulf 190s,” telling the name of the German planes I was dog-fighting with.
“You know how mustang pilots got Focke Wulfs?”, he said as I hit the PAUSE button to listen. “They would go on a straight power-dive hitting about 400 mph …”
I listened to him closely and for a long time thinking,”Wait a minute. I should be lecturing him.” But he obviously knew more on the subject than I did.
At first glance Arnold is a large, slightly childish old man. It also happens to be that he is a first-class scholar and an excellent journalist who can produce articles at a very high comprehension level. (I had to read them twice to understand them). Arnold shows that while first impressions are important, they may not tell the whole story about someone.
This [President Obama's] naiveté is worrying, and it means that among the global Muslim audience, the wrong sort of people were laughing at us, while the ones who ought to be our friends and allies were shedding a disappointed tear. – Christopher Hitchens
“This provocation underscores the need for action—not just this afternoon at the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” [the president] said. “Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something.”
If you’re like me, that brings back the most sound argument for invading Iraq. Those sentences could have been uttered by George Bush in 2002. Saddam was in consistent and severe violation of his treaty obligations, and spent more than a decade believably pretending to have weapons that we did not want spread. If those violations were to be punished – beyond the onerous no-fly zones we had been expensively enforcing for over a decade, and the even more onerous sanctions that were destroying the lives of ordinary Iraqis without affecting Saddam’s regime – there really wasn’t much to be done other than war. More resolutions were meaningless if the words of the prior resolutions and treaty were without meaning.
Of course, our current president opposed that war. In that context, Kim Jung-Il can sleep soundly knowing that whatever words the UN passes, whatever protestations the US makes, whatever rules that are supposedly being broken – they’re all meaningless. Everywhere, life will go on as it has, except that the most irrational and unpredictable state in the world is now equipped with nuclear weapons, a brain-washed, starving, and subservient population, and a proven long-range rocket. The actions of Kim Jung-Il should cause the free peoples of the world to sleep less well tonight. That’s the difference between words and actions.
The moves, which follow last week’s withdrawal of the 100W incandescent lightbulb…
Yikes! I’m something of a lighting fanatic, so this probably offends me more than others (I use the particularly inefficient Reveal bulbs), but good-frickin’-grief. Can there be a better metaphor for Europe’s consent to rule by bureaucrats and fealty to environmental extremism than the banning of bright light bulbs?
One of the more amusing trends in recent years is the Anti-Neo-con: The man who is so smart about foreign policy that he doesn’t need simpleton notions like good and evil, right and wrong; instead, he’s always able to look at the world with a calculating eye and figure out what’s in our “interests,” which never, ever, involve the freedom of foreigners. The reason this trend is so amusing is that it doesn’t take much analysis to see through such people as a bunch of hindsighted poseurs, making up crap on the fly and pretending it makes them look smart.
Exhibit 1 for today is Fred Kaplan at Slate, who, evidently, is so smart that he’s always known those morons in the Bush administration would cause a war in South Ossetia.
Regardless of what happens next, it is worth asking what the Bush people were thinking when they egged on Mikheil Saakashvili, Georgia’s young, Western-educated president, to apply for NATO membership, send 2,000 of his troops to Iraq as a full-fledged U.S. ally…
Um, I dunno…maybe he was thinking that it would be better if we had allies helping us? This is a bizarre question in light of the criticisms of Bush’s go-it-alone strategy of recent years. Now the coalition of the willing included one country too many.
…and receive tactical training and weapons from our military.
So Kaplan think this is what sent Russia over the edge? There are lots of countries that border Russia that we help out militarily. Would Georgia be in a better position now if they had not received American training and military aid?
Did they really think Putin would sit by and see another border state (and former province of the Russian empire) slip away to the West?
I’m counting three NATO members who border Russia, two of which were “former provinces of the Russian empire” who joined in 2004. But we’re not dealing with an invasion of Estonia or Latvia right now. Putin seems to be letting those two border states slip away to the West quite nicely. So let’s see. On the one hand we have former Russian territories who were offered admission to NATO and are presently not in a war with Russia; on the other, we have a a former Russian territory that, despite Bush administration efforts, was not offered admission to NATO and is in a war with Russia. One day I hope I’m as smart as Fred Kaplan so I can understand how Bush administration overtures to Georgia caused this war. To an ignorant neocon like me, it might appear that NATO membership deterred Russian aggression.
Moreover, given a fledgling democracy perched precariously on the border of Russia, looking to join the free world of the West, were we to spit in their faces? I’m here getting distracted with that whole morality thing, though. I guess Kaplan would have had us tell them that it’s hopeless and they should just rejoin Russia rather than resisting it in search of pesky notions like freedom. I mean, did they really think that Putin was going to let them slip from his grasp? What do they think they’re doing, running a sovereign country and searching for their own path? They should have talked to a Realist™ before trying something that risky.
Bush pressed the other NATO powers to place Georgia’s application for membership on the fast track. The Europeans rejected the idea, understanding the geo-strategic implications of pushing NATO’s boundaries right up to Russia’s border. If the Europeans had let Bush have his way, we would now be obligated by treaty to send troops in Georgia’s defense.
Ah, those wise Europeans. Because “pushing NATO’s boundaries right up to Russia’s border” would obviously result in war. Oh, wait: those three again! And isn’t it nifty how Kaplan just presumes that this entire war would have progressed exactly the same if Georgia was a NATO member? In my wildest dreams I can’t imagine how Georgia having a binding military alliance with America would have altered Russian strategy. Because historically Russia has been pretty quick to attack American allies. It’s happened, nine, ten times, right? No? Zero? Huh.
Kaplan’s then so generous with his wisdom that he outlines a few lessons for the next president (as though The Holy One needs lessons!):
First, security commitments are serious things; don’t make them unless you have the support, desire, and means to follow through.
Like here, where we didn’t make any security commitments to Georgia. Woops, guess that makes this lesson irrelevant. We actually can’t say what would have happened if we did make a security commitment to them; it may well be that even the thinnest commitment would have deterred the Ruskies. Instead we left the Georgians without anything.
Second, Russia is ruled by some nasty people these days, but they are not Hitler or Stalin, and they can’t be expected to tolerate direct challenges from their border any more than an American president could from, say, Cuba.
Remind me to send Fred Kaplan a map of NATO. I’ll draw the Russian border in glitter for him, and color Latvia and Estonia with very bright shades so perhaps he’ll quit forgetting they exist. Awfully inconvenient for his argument, those two.
Third, the sad truth is that—in part because the Cold War is over, in part because skyrocketing oil prices have engorged the Russians’ coffers—we have very little leverage over what the Russians do, at least in what they see as their own security sphere.
Well, we could take countries from their security sphere and make them part of ours. Like…dare I say…Latvia and Estonia [and Lithuania, though it doesn't border Russia proper]. True, in a situation like this we can’t do too much. But preemptive alliances have done wonders for us in the past.
If a newly expansive Russia is worth worrying about (and maybe it is), then it’s time to bring back Washington-Moscow summitry. Relations have soured so intensely in recent years and over such peripheral issues (such as basing a useless missile-defense system in the Czech Republic)
Hah hah ha! Wow, I have got to stop dropping acid while reading Slate. I could have sworn that just a few paragraphs ago he was telling the next president that security commitments are serious things, and that Russia is a country that may get aggressive around the borders. Obviously that was an hallucination, otherwise he wouldn’t now be mocking our installation of a defense system that will protect our European allies from Russia’s most destructive weapons.
So there you go with the new Realist™ foreign policy: no new allies if it offends others, no defending present allies if it offends others, and everything is always – and I mean ALWAYS – the fault of George Bush and the neocons. And the Baltic States don’t exist.
Reading the horrific stories from Burma this last week, I’m completely shocked at the world’s deference to the power-mad dictatorship that rules over this people.
A thousand years ago Christians from western Europe went to Jerusalem on an armed pilgrimage. If any non-Christian military forces stood in their way, which, by happenstance, they did, then it was a good thing the Christians brought along their weapons.
I can’t help but think that the appropriate response is for the West to organize an armed humanitarian mission. If those worthless no-goodniks in the Burmese government wish to oppose us handing out food and medical care, then it will be a good thing that our relief forces took with them companies of Marines, SAS, KSK, and Foreign Legionnaires.
Of course, I speak of a West long past, a West that was confident of its moral superiority and military prowess. That West, I fear, died in the trenches of western France in 1915. Tens of thousands of Burmese will die because that West no longer exists.