Friday, June 25, 2004

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Matt Drudge has Al Gore's speech from yesterday. It really is hard to take seriously a man who would imply that the Patriot Act and the incarceration of enemy combatants and suspected terrorists is a greater threat to democracy than terrorism itself. I wonder if the people in the World Trade Towers, seeing those planes coming toward them, would have agreed. This criticism of the Bush administration is coming, moreover, from a man who served as vice president in an administration which secretly collected confidential FBI files on anyone deemed a political threat. Al Gore called the president responsible for this invasion of privacy one of the greatest presidents of the twentieth century.

In his speech Mr. Gore referred to "America's strategic catastrophe in Iraq". How can anyone at this point honestly call Iraq a strategic catastrophe? It may ultimately turn out badly, but indications at present point to the Iraqis as being, by almost any measure, better off than at anytime in the last twenty years. See Belmont Club for a much more trenchant analysis of our strategic position in Iraq and Chrenkoff for a sweeping picture of the military, economic, and social situation in Iraq.

Mr. Gore proceeds, exhibiting profound symptoms of short term memory loss: "President Bush is now intentionally misleading the American people by continuing to aggressively and brazenly assert a linkage between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein," he scoffs, even as the evidence mounts that Mr. Bush was correct (see here and here) that Saddam was indeed plotting terror attacks against the U.S.

Parenthetically, it seems that whether the terrorists actually call themselves al Qaida or not is irrelevant, especially to their victims. Why Mr. Gore and others are so obsessed with this point escapes me. One doubts whether Paul Johnson and Nicholas Berg really cared whether the orcs who were sawing their heads off were actually members of a group called al Qaida or some other group of psychopaths. The term al Qaida has come to be a generic designator for terrorists in general and the Bush spokespeople may have been using the term in that sense. I don't know why that little molehill should be elevated into such a mountain.

Mr. Gore continues: "If he is not lying, if they genuinely believe that, that makes them unfit in battle with al Qaeda. If they believe these flimsy scraps, then who would want them in charge? Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick." The former VP, however, needs to check his own previous speeches before making such intemperate remarks. Power Line has done the research and here's what they turned up:

IN 1992, AL GORE ATTACKED PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH FOR IGNORING IRAQ'S TIES TO TERRORISM. SEN. AL GORE: "[W]hen George Bush took office, he should have reevaluated what our relationship was with Iraq ..." CNN'S LARRY KING: "Well ..." GORE: "Let me finish, just briefly. Instead, he stepped up the foreign aid to Iraq, and he looked the other way when there were repeated incidents of terrorism in which Iraq had a part, terrorists operating openly in Baghdad, and repeated warnings from our national security people telling the Bush administration that Saddam was on a crash program to develop nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction. And he overruled a lot of his advisers and extended another billion dollars of foreign aid, and the U.S. taxpayers are right now having to bail out Saddam Hussein for almost $2 billion. Just like the savings and loan bailout, now it's the Saddam Hussein bailout, and it shouldn't have taken place." (CNN's "Larry King Live," 10/5/92)

IN 1992, GORE SAID BUSH ADMINISTRATION WAS "CODDLING" SADDAM AND IGNORING HIS PURSUIT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. "Democratic vice presidential nominee Al Gore Tuesday attacked what the Bush campaign views as its strongest asset, as he charged the president caused the gulf war by 'coddling' Saddam Hussein. .. He said recent evidence - including published reports and documents from congressional hearings - contradicts Bush's assertions he did nothing to enhance Saddam's development of weapons of mass destruction before Saddam invaded Kuwait. Gore said both the Reagan and Bush administrations received regular intelligence 'warnings' that Saddam was aiding terrorists and was bent on building such weapons." (Sam Vincent Meddis, "Gore Assails Bush On Iraq Policy," USA Today, 9/30/92)

Mr. Gore, throwing shame to the winds, added this: "The last time we had a president who had the idea that he was above the law was ... Richard Nixon...."

Actually, the last time we had a president who thought he was above the law was about six years ago when Mr. Clinton thought he should be able to perjure himself and bend campaign finance laws with impunity. Mr. Clinton, recall, is the man Mr. Gore obsequiously named one of the best presidents of the twentieth century.

Finally, Mr. Gore builds toward a denouement: "The two top Justice Department officials under President Nixon, Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus, turned out to be men of great integrity, and even though they were loyal Republicans, they were more loyal to the constitution and resigned on principle rather than implement what they saw as abuses of power by Nixon."

This raises a question. If this is, indeed, what men of honor do, why didn't Mr. Gore himself resign from the Clinton administration when it became obvious that Mr. Clinton had committed perjury?

Mr. Gore's speech was a screed. There were no positive proposals as to what should be done on the war on terror, no policy suggestions for handling terrorist suspects, no specific evidence to support the allegations he makes. The whole thing amounts to squeezing one's eyes tight shut, clenching one's fists and teeth and hissing, "Bush is evil" over and over until the mindless audience, mesmerized by the mantra, goes wild with approbation.

With every appearance Mr. Gore diminishes himself as a serious spokesperson for the Democrat party. He has transmogrified himself into the incredible shrinking man. He seems to have accepted the unseemly role of keeping Howard Dean's followers in the Kerry fold while Kerry pretends to be a more moderate, well-reasoned voice within the party. What a circus.

The Religion of Peace

If you have a strong stomach read this outstanding piece by Australian Andrew Bolt (Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip). Bolt finds a putative interview on an Islamic web site with a leader of the recent terrorist atrocities in Saudi Arabia. The man's name is Fawwaz bin Muhammad al-Nashami, and he's one of the terrorists who managed to escape after participating in the slaughter of innocent foreign workers. Bolt quotes him as he recounts the psychopathic violence:

The terrorists then stormed a second compound, and found an "American infidel".

"I shot him in the head, and his head exploded. We entered another office and found one infidel from South Africa, and our brother Hussein slit his throat. We asked Allah to accept (these pious acts) from us, and from him."

The terrorists then killed guards at a third compound, where al-Nashami says they found Johansson: "Brother Nimr cut off his head and put it at the gate, so that it would be seen by all . . ."

They caught other workers and checked their religion. "We found Filipino Christians. We cut their throats and dedicated them to our brothers the Mujahideen in the Philippines. We found Hindu engineers and we cut their throats, too, Allah be praised . . ."

There is much more, but this is enough to give one a sense of the horror these sick people were willing to inflict in the name of God. As Mohammed at Iraq the Model so eloquently puts it the terrorists' victims are much closer to God than are these "pious" Muslims. Their offerings and praise of Allah must be a stench in his nostrils as must be their very lives or else Allah has nothing important in common with the God of Christians and Jews. Indeed, if this sort of cruelty and bloodthirstiness is pleasing to Allah then Allah is the devil.

As Sullivan suggests, it's ludicrous to argue, as some have, that the savagery of Islamist terrorists is more political than religious. They are driven by their interpretation of Islam to do what they do, not by political ideology, and the Koran, as Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis points out in his book The Crisis of Islam, need not be twisted all that much to be made compatible with their interpretation.

In any society, brutes and thugs seek power. If they attain it they will strive to impose their interpretation of the guiding myths of their society on everyone else, and theirs is almost certainly going to be the most brutal interpretation of all the alternatives. This is the history of twentieth century Europe and of the contemporary Middle East.

The Islamists are fascists, to be sure, but they are Muslims first and foremost. If other Muslims wish us to believe that the jihadis do not represent Islam they better start shouting their condemnations from the high spires of their mosques. It may be that the thugs have the "moderates" intimidated in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Muslim world, but that shouldn't stop the Imams in America from proclaiming their fatwas and execrations against those who perpetrate such unspeakable crimes in the name of God.

Bolt ends his column with a discussion of the media's reception of the findings of the 9/11 Commission. A few excerpts:

"This week also saw the release of two interim reports by the commission US President George W. Bush set up to investigate al-Qaida's September 11 attacks. In a little-reported passage, they warn: 'Al-Qaida remains extremely interested in conducting chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks..'"

"This spectre, of course, is what drove us to invade Iraq. Not only did Saddam house and help terrorists, including Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Palestinian suicide bombers and a bomb-maker of the 1993 World Trade Centre attack, but his scientists worked on chemical and biological weapons up until the war, as the Iraq Survey Group now confirms. The day would surely come when Saddam's weapons and the terrorists who wanted them finally met."

"So there were links between Saddam and al-Qaida, not to mention other terrorists, but no proof (yet) of active collaboration or co-operation in the September 11 attacks. This is almost word for word what Bush has long said. Yet ABC TV news said this week's reports prove al-Qaida 'had no links with Saddam Hussein, as suggested by the White House', and ABC's The World Today added: 'One of the Bush administration's central arguments for going to war with Iraq appears to be in tatters.' As if Bush had blamed Iraq for the September 11 attacks. The liar."

"More of this and al-Nashami can take it easy. We'll have cut our own throats already."

Zayed at Healing Iraq is an Iraqi Muslim who fears that "we are going to see more beheadings, the Mujahideen seem to appreciate the publicity and attention they receive with each new execution. Don't count on any public demonstrations of Muslim outrage though, there won't be any."

Chilling stuff. A very important question we should be asking ourselves is how would a president John Kerry protect us and our children from these people?