Saturday, March 15, 2003

I forgot in the link-fest earlier to include my comments on a subject at the weblog called Little Green Footballs. Go there to see a truly disturbing subject matter (with pictures included) to get an idea of the kind of Islamofascist fanatics we are facing.

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Regarding the Reagan Administration's Handling of the Iraq/Iran/Sandinista Situations:
(A Subject of Discussion at Amy Welborn's In Between Naps Comments Box)

See the article from the tenth of March for context. The words of the person I am interacting with will be in dark green font.

I think there's something of a whitewash going on here.The "make an ally of the lesser evil to defeat the greater evil" is a mainstay of realpolitik and we just did that when we 'befriended' Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf to defeat the Taliban. Musharraf had ousted an elected president in a military coup and declared himself president, was head of a rogue state that had developed nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community, and was no champion of human rights as far as I can tell, but he was better than the Taliban, was eager to restore his country into the good graces of the US, and was happy to accept a massive aid package. We were upfront about our relationship with Pakistan, and with the terms of the mutual assistance.

Correct.

But Iraq and our role in her history is a different story. We sold them weaponry, massive amounts of chemical and biological agents (anthrax, botulism, E. coli, West Nile fever, gas gangrene, and dengue fever), gave them intelligence information about Iranian troop movements, and gave them plenty of cash. And we lied about what we were doing.

You mean the way we lied in the late 1930's and early 1940's about being "neutral" when we were extending military equipment to the British on a "Lend-Lease" plan???{1}

The US Government denied playing a role in the conflict (we were only spectators) and Donald Rumsfeld claimed in a CNN interview that he had urged Saddam not to use chemical and biological weapons (explain that, after we sold them the agents and the weapons to deploy them), which denials, at any rate, have been contradicted by National Security member Howard Teicher and CIA records showing the sale of arms to Iraq through third party South American states during the Iraq-Iran war.

Well, the chemicals sold have both military and civilian applications. By this logic we could not sell ball bearings because they are used in the building of munitions of war. We could not sell a lot of items which can similarly be converted to military use. Remember Iraq was signatory to accords that pledged to not use chemical weapons. Of course few people like to point out that part of the equation also.

The use of chemical and biological agents was despicable to begin with (isn't that why we denied our part in the conflict?), and when Saddam used them later against the Kurds, we supported him without criticism against the protests of the international community.

The Iranian were sending waves of young volunteers to act as minesweepers and overrun Iraqi forces. If I recall correctly, what was used against the Iranians chemically in the early phase of the war was what are called "crowd control agents". These are not classified as chemical weapons and are used at times by police forces to control and restrain rioters.

Our support for him went well beyond the pale: we did not need to introduce chemical and biological weapons into his arsenal in order to help him against Iran, and we owed him no blind allegiance in 1988 when he gassed the Kurds.

Again what was given him were chemicals that have both civilian and military usage. Both Iraq and the US had signed accords where they agreed to not use or deploy chemical weapons in war. These accords recognized though that certain chemicals had civilian usages and could be manufactured for that reason.

Amy raises a valid point: aren’t we entitled to an explanation, given that Reagan and Bush I military advisors like Rumsfeld and Cheney were involved then and are involved now? Given the specifics of this particular situation, I would personally like to hear a candid explanation from the administration (not likely); and given the record of lying about our relationship with Saddam Hussein, frank talk about what happened then and why would go along way to dispelling questions about their veracity now. People like me clearly see the need for a regime change in Iraq, but we’re not convinced of the need for immediate invasion (the threat is potential, not imminent), and the fact that we’re being informed about Iraq now by men who were deceitful about Iraq then doesn’t inspire confidence.

Remember MMMMM, at the time the primary enemy was the Soviet Union and we were involved on a lot of fronts to try and prevent its exporting of communism to other nations. Its involvement in the region with the invasion of Afghanistan resulted in us supporting Afghan rebels to involve the USSR in their own version of Vietnam. At the same time Hussein took over Iraq in a coup and Iran was overrun by the Shiites and Khomeini who took Americans hostage. Remember, Khomeini declared war on the west and on non-Shiite Muslims who were seen by him much the way many Orthodox Jews view Reform Jews.{2}

Khomeini's intention announced, remember that Hussein himself was (at least nominally) a Sunni Muslim. He had recently taken power in a nation where 40% of the population of Muslims was Shiite. He obviously felt at the time that it was a gamble worth taking to invade Iran before Khomeini's influence in the region resulted in him having fifth column Ayatollah supporters in his own country. He also felt that since Khomeini had American hostages and that America was one of the Ayatollah's targets{3}, that if he invaded them he would receive our support much as we supported Afghan rebels against the Soviets. And this calculation on his part was right.

We viewed Iran's form of fanaticism to be worse than Hussein's form of dictatorship. Plus, we wanted to see the two beat each other up so that they were less likely to bother other nations. We funded Iraq in part because Iran was the stronger of the two and had three times the population from which to form a military.{4}

When the Soviet Union started also funding and supporting Iraq, we were in a quandary because this meant that Iraq would likely win the war and the Soviets would have had major influence in the area. There was also an uprising of rebels in Nicaragua who were fighting the communist Sandinistas and the communist-sympathizing Devilcrat in Congress (including the Speaker of the House) was cozying up to Noriega and company. The whole situation was both delicate and complicated.

President Reagan and his advisers saw a brilliant way to put down the Sandinistas without involving American lives and also to help keep the scales balanced in the Middle East conflict. It involved selling outdated munitions to Khomeini and funnelling the money to the "contras" in Nicaragua to buy weapons and supplies with which to fight the Sandinistas. Since we were supplying Iraq - and wanted to retain that option again if necessary - this had to be kept quiet.

The result of this policy was that Iran was able to fight Iraq to a standstill which depleted both nations militarily.{5} And by 1990 the contras due to our support had successfully gotten their way in Nicaragua with the first free elections down there where the Sandinistas were voted out of office. Verdict in both cases: a brilliant use of diplomacy by the Reagan Administration and at a loss of no American lives.

The Keystone Kops diplomacy of President Carter created a lot of the messes Reagan inherited foreign policy-wise in 1981. Compared to that and to the foreign policy miscues of President Bush on Iraq (giving the implied green light to invade Kuwait and then not finishing the job when we went to war against Hussein in 1991), I will take the strategic planning and American-life-preserving polices of President Reagan's Administration any day. True he blundered in Lebanon but considering the world scene in 1981 and then again in 1989, Reagan's batting average was damn high - far higher than any president I can think of in recent decades. And considering both the world situation and our domestic situation in 1981, that is saying a lot.

I believe W has learned from Reagan and also from 9-11. And as a result, we should finish Hussein this time, do it quickly, with a minimum of innocent lives lost, and then do what we can to rebuild Iraq as a democratic country. Then we can sit back in our easy chairs and criticize the current situation. (Including whether the UN is a viable entity anymore.) But I digress...

Notes:

{1} Not being completely straight-forward is unfortunately always a part of diplomacy to some degree. (Some might call this "lying.")

{2} Much as Orthodox (and some Conservative) Jews do not view Reformed Jews as "authentic Jews" in essence, the same is the case with the way the more extremist factions of Shiites view Sunni Muslims.

{3} Remember, we were/are "The Great Satan" to them.

{4} Not to mention zealots who would willingly act as human minesweepers for Khomeini's "cause".

{5} That war ended in 1988 and the US had to supply Hussein again towards the end to keep the scales balanced.

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Points to Ponder:

The darkness is still with us, Oh Lord. You are still hidden and the world which you have made does not want to know you or receive you...You are still the hidden child in a world grown old...You are still obscured by the veils of this world's history, you are still destined not to be acknowledged in the scandal of your death on the cross...But I, Oh hidden Lord of all things, boldly affirm my faith in you. In confessing you I take my stand with you...If I make this avowal of faith, it must pierce the depths of my heart like a sword, I must bend my knee before you. saying, I must alter my life. I have still to become a Christian. [Karl Rahner: Prayers for Meditation as quoted in Kathleen Norris' The Cloister Walk]

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Though I do not intend to again make a routine out of message board posting, there were a few subjects at the Catholic Community Forum that could not go without comment. Here they are in roughly the same order they were originally posted:

On the Roman Canon non-Epiklesis and the Tridentine "Absolution"

On the False Notion of the Great Tradition as Espoused by Self-styled "Traditionalists"

On the Proper Understanding of Lumen Gentium's Nota Explicativa Contrary to Integrist Sophisms

On the "Dogmatic/Pastoral" Facile Dichotomy of Self-styled "Traditionalists" viz Vatican II

Self-styled "Progressivists" and their Blatant Abuse of Vatican II Exposed and Refuted (Part I)

I have a few other posts planned against the self-styled "progressives" that will trim the boat a bit. However, one of them will be addressing certain parts of Canon Law that self-styled "traditionalists" have also abused and misunderstood. The other one will be a two part post which deals in reasonable detail with slavery. (And also briefly dispatches common canards about Galileo, EENS, and Usury which are asserted by so-called "progressivists" as arguments about why the Church should change her teaching on women priests, homosexuality, and other pet issues of the so-called "progressives".)

I am considering reformatting the one already finished for blogging and then simply linking to the relevant section. (I may also do this with the second one which will be a rehashing of material I have already written so it will be easy to do.) I will not know for sure which route to take on those until probably tonight or tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 13, 2003

On French tactics by Ralph Peters (courtesy of Karen Hall's Disordered Affections BLOG)

Verdict from Rerum Novarum: Mr. Peters nailed this one.

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I have not watched Hannity and Colmes for a while but it is nice to hear that Sean Hannity did the Ash Wednesday show with ashes on his forehead. Now I realize that the Gospel for Wednesday speaks against acting as a Pharisee and I also realize that the homily I posted from Fr. Reginald talked about the significance of wearing the ashes. From most appearances it would appear wrong for Sean Hannity to have done what he did. But in this case I believe he was right.

Sometimes it is important for Catholics to act in a manner that prompts others to ask questions. And on Ash Wednesday, keeping the ashes on does this. Lent extends a long time after Ash Wednesday so I do not feel that one day out of forty where such a display is made is problematical. And it can always be spun another way such as "the ashes remind me of my sins and failings today and are a pledge to God to amend my ways".

I am not sure if this is what Mr. Hannity did but frankly it is nice to see a Catholic in the media who by all appearances (and by what he says) takes his faith seriously. And I am sure that for at least one day Alan had a fairly easy day because Sean was probably less inclined to slam his arguments. But not having seen the show I could well be mistaken.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2003

SecretAgentMan weighs in on Iraq courtesy of Gary Hoge's Catholic Outlook message board.

Thoughts on Iraq.

I presume the "Adam" he refers to at the beginning (whom he says was affectionate towards canines) was the Adam of Eden.

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Monday, March 10, 2003

Is Gregg the Obscure bilingual???

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The Lidless Eye Inquisition weblog has been updated.

Points to Ponder:

[T]hough to-day is always to-day and the moment is always modern, we are the only men in all history who fell back upon bragging about the mere fact that to-day is not yesterday. I fear that some in the future will explain it by saying that we had precious little else to brag about. For, whatever the medieval faults, they went with one merit. Medieval people never worried about being medieval; and modern people do worry horribly about being modern. [G K Chesterton: On Turnpikes and Medievalism circa 1933]

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"JunkYard BLOG" Dept.
(A Rerum Novarum Twin Spin)

On the so-called "rush to war" that Senator Daschle speaks of:

...Kids who started school in the first grade when this rush to war began are literally on the cusp of graduation, their entire education having taken place during this so-called rush to war. I've personally had five full-time jobs during this dozen-year rush to war, including a full four-year enlistment in the US Air Force--which ended five years ago! Rush to war, my arse. I've seen swifter rushes on buffet night at the local rest home... For more go here

Standard anti-war excuses:{1}

THE PEACENIK TOP 10

Fred "Beetle" Barnes makes quick work of the top 10 canards reasons the anti-war crowd uses for not greasing Saddam. Colin Powell's answer to #10 is beautiful. LINK

I am pleasantly surprised that someone in the major media approaches this ceasefire subject the same way I did.

Note:

{1} None of these top 10 canards apply to those who genuinely have problems of conscience with the potential war here. It is aimed only at the fraudulent opposition. You can recognize them as the same people who did NOTHING when Clinton bombed Serbia (killing who knows how many innocent lives). Not only that but these are many of the same people who were itching to go into Iraq in 1998. They now are somehow "doves" and "people of peace". In short, Fred Barnes (much as myself and undoubtedly Bryan Preston of the JYB) are addressing the hypocritical crap spewers and not those who have legitimate scruples over this issue.

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