Wednesday, 5 February 2003

Israel CoalitionWatch Day n

Noah Millman thinks Shinui's leader, Tommy Lapid, is “making an ass of himself” by still refusing to sit in government with the ultra-Orthodox (and Sephardim) Shas, while willing to sit with the ultra-Orthodox (and Ashkenazi) United Torah Judaism. Shas accuses Lapid of racism, while Millman just accuses Lapid of rank stupidity. I don't understand all the policy and religious distinctions in play here, but it's pretty clear that a whole bunch of people are going to have to tone down their rhetoric and get to the business of running the country.

February 5, 2003: The day the Security Council became irrelevant

At least, that's the emerging consensus among the free people of this planet about what will be on the UNSC's epitath if it fails to authorize military force against Iraq. Consider:

  • Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries, 21 November 2002: “We support the goal of the international community for full disarmament of Iraq as stipulated in the UN Security Council Resolution 1441. In the event of non-compliance with the terms of this resolution, we are prepared to contribute to an international coalition to enforce its provisions and the disarmament of Iraq.”

  • George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 28 January 2003: “[L]et there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.”

  • Statement of the “Gang of 8”, 30 January 2003: “The U.N. Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result.”

  • Statement of the Vilnius Group Countries, 5 February 2003: “The clear and present danger posed by the Saddam Hussein's regime requires a united response from the community of democracies. We call upon the U.N. Security Council to take the necessary and appropriate action in response to Iraq's continuing threat to international peace and security.”

  • Fred Kaplan, Slate: “[I]f the Security Council does not now take action against Iraq, it might as well disband.”

  • Eugene Volokh: “If the Security Council members took the view that the evidence is not damning, and that Iraq is cooperating, they would be (as best I can tell) completely wrong and irresponsible; but at least then if they persuaded the public of these facts, the recommended consequences would make sense. But if they acknowledge that there should be no meaningful consequences for gross violations of the Security Council's resolutions — then what's the point of having the Security Council?”

OK, that's what a goodly percentage of the world's democracies think. Well, the ones that aren't called France, at least. Now, let's review what the French want to do again:

Let us double, let us triple the number of inspectors. Let us open more regional offices. Let us go further than this, could we not, for example, put up, set up, a specialized body to keep under surveillance the sites and areas that have already been inspected? Let us very significantly reinforce the capacity for monitoring and collecting information in Iraq.

Wow. Saddam must be quaking in his boots. Defy the Security Council for a dozen years, and we'll sick more UN bureaucrats on your country! This may work in the European Union, where quel dommage! a farmer might have to face down an evil minion from Brussels if he's exceeded his milk quota, but outside the fantasy universe of Eurocrats (and the EU), nobody gives a damn. This isn't just more lard for the butter mountain, this is international peace and security we're talking about here.

The truly sad thing (well, at least if you're a Gaullist) is that the U.N. Security Council is about the last place on earth they have even the illusion of real political power. The Franco-German partnership in Europe is starting to look more like the German partnership with Vichy France. French military power is no match for a few malcontents on the streets of Abidjan. And French diplomacy was just emasculated by two editors at the Wall Street Journal's European edition.

Without the Security Council, and the ability to veto legislation there, France's relevance to the world order is rien. Last month, they handed the keys to Europe to the hollowed out regime of Gerhard Schröder. This month, they handed over all of their credibility to Saddam Hussein's. And, before the year is done, neither will remain in power and France is going to have a hard time getting Europe's keys back from the Christian Democrats and its credibility back from the interim civilian government of Iraq.

Adesnik: Reading the tea leaves on Iraq

OxBlog's David Adesnik has a lengthy post that explores what public opinion polling means — both in general and in terms of the coming war with Iraq. My guess: the numbers are going to go much higher in the next few days, partly because of questions that better reflect reality and partly because the debate isn't about “unilateralism” versus “multilateralism” any more. Serious evidence is now on the table that the so-called “multilateral” approach doesn't work, and won't work. David concludes:

Saddam, if you are reading this, I advise you to disarm very, very soon.

At this point, I don't even think disarming would save him.

I could sit here and blather on about how the considerations being evoked by various frames and primes are changing (in part because the political environment has shifted), but (a) few people other than David would understand it and (b) I feel like I'm about ten minutes away from losing consciousness.

Powell at the U.N.: Reaction

Kathy Kinsey has links to transcripts of Powell's presentation before the UNSC. I only got the audio version, and started partway in (due to having a late breakfast at McDonald's), but what I heard was pretty convincing — and, to echo what Stephen Green says, much more than I expected.

As for the French: either they are “slowly retreating,” as Irving Kristol put it on Fox News, or they're burying themselves in a deeper hole — as Tacitus says, de Villepin's prepared statement favoring “tripling” the number of inspectors was refuted before it was even given.

Having said that, I don't think it swayed many minds among the hardcore anti-war group. However, I suspect it will make a difference among the undecided part of the electorate here and in Europe — Powell's discussion Saddam Hussein's links to terror groups like Al Qaeda were clearly not (mostly) aimed at his immediate audience. More than anything else, American and European voters are looking for a clear, convincing case against Saddam Hussein and for war — and I think Powell made it very effectively.

Michele has a very apt analogy for the situation the French are in; it's in the realm of “too little, too late.” Chuck Simmins has some reaction, while VodkaPundit Stephen Green has a letter to anti-war protesters — albeit one I'll be very surprised if they read. As he puts it:

"Nothing new..." "I'm not convinced..." "Powell's heart isn't really in it..."

These familiar refrains, plus, as the ads say, many, many more are all over the no-war side of the blogosphere today.

For you idiots -- and I won't supply any links because I like some of you idiots -- no amount of proof is compelling, the bar can never be set too high, and no amount of reason can ever convince.

<Teal'c Voice>Indeed.</Teal'c Voice>

Steven Den Beste reacts, suggesting that Powell's use of Republican Guard communications may have been also intended as psyops against the Iraqi regime.

VodkaPundit and Dean Esmay reminded me that Conrad's dug up some interesting German links to Iraq's WMD programs in the Asia Times. If verified, this would be very disturbing news... and probably the end of Gerhard Schröder's rule in Germany.

VodkaPundit is LiveBlogging Powell

Stephen Green blogs, you decide. Start at the bottom, scroll up. (I'm listening to it on Fox News Channel via XM Radio in the office.)

Meanwhile, additional material has been revealed that should increase support for the war effort at home.

Lileks fisks an anti-war weenie

James Lileks' genius is on full display. Today's Bleat is a must-read; he dissects a local Green councilwoman's response to the State of the Union address. My burst-out-laughing paragraph (from James):

Ah yes. Selected, not elected. It rhymes, so it must be true. I’ll still take him over Clinton, whose impeachment trials could be described as ERECTED, NOT EJECTED. But tarry if you will over that line: Perhaps it is unfair to expect George W. Bush to understand democracy. The Greens have entered the territory previously occupied by the right-wing fringe who thought Clinton would use Y2K to suspend the Constitution and use FEMA to institute martial law.

Oh yeah, it's also all about the oiiiiil. But you knew that already.

Incidentally, I'm surprised nobody ever comes up with something original — like we're trying to repeat the invasion of Japan so we can introduce baseball in Iraq to help out W's old friend Bud Selig. I mean, don't we all know that Harry Truman really nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki so we'd eventually enjoy the baseball prowess of Hideki Irabu and Ichiro Suzuki? Just think of all the olympic-calibre athletes we could recruit...

Found via VodkaPundit.

Andrea Harris comments (with a new skin!).

Cross-blog war debate

N.Z. Bear (pro-war) and Stand Down (pro-peace) are coordinating a debate on the possibility of war with Iraq. I may or may not actually participate (it depends, at some level, on how silly the anti-war side's questions seem to be), but if you have a question or two you'd like to see the other side answer, nominate it at the appropriate blog — N.Z. Bear is coordinating the pro-war side (so submit questions for the anti-war folks there), and Stand Down is doing likewise for the pro-peace contingent (vice-versa).

Hopefully the exercise will be enlightening for all concerned.

Amygdala has some thoughtful comments on the prospect of war today, well worth a read.

Volokh Conspiracy: The Tip of the Iceberg

Eugene Volokh has a great post in response to some linkage he didn't find very appealing:

NO, THANK YOU: Visitors from StormFront, which linked to this site as a sample of what Web logs are -- please go away. There's nothing technical I can do to stop you reading my page, but since you want to spread your "pro-white and anti-Jew message," would my being a Jew help persuade you to just close the window? That's right, Jew. In fact, of the nonanonymous bloggers on this site, the great majority are Jews, and the others -- well, they're only worse, because they're Aryans who seem to like Jews, no?

Look, if you're still reading, don't you get it? We call ourselves The Volokh Conspiracy. That's obviously an allusion to the International Jewish Conspiracy, no? One of the creators of the Internet was Leonard Kleinrock -- coincidence? I think not! We control the banks; we control the media; we're sleeping with your daughters; now we're controlling cyberspace. What's the point of resisting, really?

See, this is why I run my own server; a little bit of hacking in index.cgi will send unwanted visitors elsewhere on the web. Say, somewhere like the Lieberman 2004 Yarmalke Store. But then again, why let the denizens of StormFront miss out on a post like Eugene's?

And there's probably some JavaScript that would do this as well, but I don't speak JavaScript.

A look at Kim Dae-Jung's MasterCard bill

I hacked into MasterCard's global systems* to look at South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung's last few credit card statements. It was a real eye-opener:

  • Two tickets to The Hours: $15.

  • Double-breasted suit, purchased in Hong Kong: $35.

  • Plane fare for last ASEAN summit (first class): $2,600.

  • One Nobel Peace Prize: $1.7 billion.

  • Handing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il money to buy more weapons to threaten its neighbors: priceless.

Needless to say, Conrad isn't impressed.

* Actually I didn't, but it's a cool conceit for the story, no?