Friday, October 12, 2001

The return of The Duke.

Peggy Noonan has a good piece in today's Opinion Journal about the return of manliness. Not machismo, not jocks, but gentlemen, a group that has been hunted into near oblivion by feminism and intellectuals over the past thirty years. Certainly the heroism and courage of the firemen, policemen, and businessmen who fought back, each in their own way, against the terrorists on September 11 deserves to be noted. But I hope that this will also precipitate at least a small change in attitudes towards men among the intellectual and media 'elite.' I believe strongly that men and women should be treated equally before the law, and in most spheres of life. But I'll confess that I also see women as requiring a certain degree of protection; not because they're frail, or unable to protect themselves, but because they're precious and vital to the survival of our race. Let's face it, the human race could go on even if 90% of men were wiped out in some sort of disaster; it would require changes in how we live our lives, obviously, but we could go on. But were 90% of all women eliminated, humanity would face very long odds of long-term survival, because it would prove extremely difficult to repopulate the species. One man can impregnate many women, but a woman can only get pregnant once every year, and pregnancies that frequent would likely threaten the health of the mother. Men and women are different, no matter how many gender feminists claim otherwise. In general, men are stronger, while women are built tougher, as just one very simple and self-evident example. Expecting women to serve as effectively as men in combat, or as firefighters, or in any profession that demands a certain level of physical strength, is illogical. Wishing will not make it so, and allowing women into such professions simply because we don't want to hurt their feelings is dangerous. Perhaps this war will remind us of that fact.
Good points from Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds about fear. Yes, the government needs to be vigilant about stopping future terrorist actions against the US, but do nebulous warnings such as yesterdays 'something may happen soon' do anything to help? If there are specific, credible threats, then I can see disseminating them, but otherwise it's just fearmongering. I thought the President set the right tone yesterday when he recommended people go about their lives, but remain vigilant, and let law enforcement know if they see anything suspicious.
The carrot and stick approach continues in the Post. EJ Dionne offers the President advice this morning, suggesting he follow Eisenhower's example by establishing a broad bipartisan approach to the war. Of course, when Dionne says bipartisan, what he means is for the Republicans to vote for Democratic proposals. Yes, Bush should try to strike a balance between Republican and Democratic proposals, but, whether it's in Congress or in our coalition, Bush cannot forget his basic principles. Bipartisanship is an important goal, but the bottom line for the President is winning the war, not keeping Democrats or Republicans happy with his proposals. The President shouldn't push divisive proposals unnecessarily, but he can't hesitate to pressure either side of the political spectrum for proposals that can help end the war or alleviate our economic problems.
A good point from Charles Krauthammer in today's Washington Post. Given Bush's comment he would reconsider the war on Afghanistan if they turn over bin Laden and his henchmen, we can't say that we're also fighting to 'liberate Afghanistan.' The two are diametrically opposed, and there's little doubt the Islamic world can pick up on that easily enough. If we want to fight to liberate Afghanistan and destroy the Taliban, that's great, but then the President can't tell the Taliban they have a hope to survive if they acede to our demands.
More on answering bin Laden.

Although I don't generally agree with much Thomas Friedman has to say, today he offers a litany of possible responses to bin Laden's propaganda, and he does a pretty good job. If only the White House will listen to such comments, and start augmenting the bombing with answers to bin Laden's propaganda.
Kudos to the Globe for its editorial today regarding the use of the media in the war. Although the Globe fails to follow up on its point regarding the use of modern communications to "take the battle to the enemy," they're on the right track. Only by taking our case to the world can we win the hearts and minds of the Islamic world. If we continue to simply assume the rest of the world thinks as we do, bin Laden will continue to put out propaganda that, in the absence of anything to refute it, will inflame many Muslims and harm our cause by destablizing critical allies like Pakistan and Indonesia. The Globe is also correct to chastise the White House for trying to keep news organizations from broadcasting or printing bin Laden's messages, particularly the Arab station Al-Jazeera. Al-Jazeera is something we should be trying to encourage, as it is the only news station throughout the Arab world that even pretends to put out both sides of any issue. The last thing we should be doing is discouraging them from continuing to report news, even when it's bin Laden's ravings. We're in the right here, but we have to make the effort to show that to the Islamic world.
Typical vitriol from Derrick Jackson this morning, also in the Globe. How it's possible for Mr. Jackson to be considered for a Pulitzer is beyond me. Although this morning's piece does address an important issue, the question of America's dependence on foreign oil, Jackson doesn't waste any valuable column inches trying to make any recommendations. Instead, he simply lashes out at America and Americans for their addiction to SUVs and other low fuel efficiency vehicles, apparently certain it's more important to tear down America than to try and build anything up. This is, to me, more evidence that awards like the Pulitzer and the Nobel are more political statements than recognition of achievement these days.
Pretty good op-ed by Martin Nolan in the Boston Globe this morning. He takes on Susan Sontag's anti-American commentary from September 24, and while I think he's far too kind, he does a reasonably good job of pointing out a few of the inconsistencies in the so-called 'intellectuals' protests against the war.

Thursday, October 11, 2001

Interesting article in Slate today discussing Clinton's culpability in our failure to stop the September 11 attacks. Although I think some on the right are spending too much time trying to pin the lion's share of the blame for the attacks on Clinton, I think Weisberg goes too far in the other direction, basically concluding that Clinton's failures were minimal, and suggesting nobody else would have done things any differently. There's plenty of blame to spread around for our failures prior to September 11, but I think Weisberg excuses Clinton too quickly. He doesn't deserve the majority of the blame, but he was president for eight years, during which time bin Laden became a major national security threat. Clinton, however, seemed to strictly use bin Laden as a diversion when Clinton's misdeeds seemed to prominent in the media.