Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What Does <i>This</i> Mean?

A United Arab Emirates daily, citing unnamed sources, reported Wednesday the United States was massing troops on the Syrian-Iraqi border:

The pro-government al-Bayan daily quoted unidentified Arab officials as saying that Egypt and Saudi Arabia "have reliable information from Damascus of U.S. military mobilization on the Syrian-Iraqi border."

The sources also told the paper the U.S. forces have repeatedly crossed the Iraqi border with the "pretext of chasing infiltrators and Iraqi insurgents."

They said that Egypt and Saudi Arabia will express their "grave concern over the growing U.S. administration's threats against Syria" during U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to the Middle East that starts at the end of the week.

If this is true Bashar Assad has probably had to change his underwear a couple of times.

One Way Or Another

The Washington Post tells us that:

The Bush administration, under fire for what critics call its failed North Korea policy, expressed confidence on Tuesday that "one way or another" Pyongyang ultimately would give up its nuclear weapons.

"One way or another they're not going to have these systems," said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the top U.S. diplomat dealing with Pyongyang. "And so the real issue for them is what are the terms under which they'll give them up," he added.

But he reiterated the U.S. position that other options remain under discussion and added a dose of reality to recent optimism that Pyongyang may soon come back to the table. "North Korea's unwillingness to return to the table casts increasing doubts on how serious it really is about ending its decades-old nuclear ambitions," he said.

Hill said Pyongyang seems to be "testing our mettle ... testing to see whether we're going to get into endless arguments with our partners. They're waiting to see whether we're going to start negotiating with each other and with ourselves to sweeten the pot for them. And so they feel there's some advantage in waiting."

One wonders what, exactly, the other options are.

Fumento On Iraq

Michael Fumento's two most recent columns at National Review On-Line offer excellent glimpses into what our troops are experiencing in Iraq. They can be read here and here.

A Real Gulag

We've heard much nonsense about the Gitmo Gulag from Amnesty International and others eager to tar the Bush administration with anything which they can transform into a scandal. Babalu Blog has a piece in which he describes what's going on as regular practice in those prisons on the Cuban island controlled by the Left-wing icon Fidel Castro. It should be read by anyone who thinks what Americans have done to suspected terrorists on Gitmo is unconscionable.

This is not to say that because conditions are worse elsewhere whatever offenses Americans commit are thereby excused. It is to say, though, that our prisoners are treated with incredible mildness compared to what prisoners in the real Gulag of the Soviet Union experienced up until the 1980s and what Castro is doing to people even today. It is to say, too, that many of those who are so vocal in their criticism of the United States' relatively benign treatment of their detainees are people who for decades have been tolerant of, sympathetic toward, or even adulatory of both the Soviets and Castro.

The cries of outrage we hear over Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, except those of a very small minority of Christian pacifists, are not really about abuse of prisoners. That is only the pretext. Alleged abuses are merely an opportunity which his opponents have seized upon to discredit George Bush. If these people really cared about horrific treatment of prisoners they would have been screaming for Castro's resignation for the last forty years, but so far from raising their voices against this tyrant's cruelties, they've spent their energies denying them instead and apologizing for the man himself. Their indignation and demands should not be granted any credibility now.

Teach Them Both

Christianity Today has this story on the progress of Intelligent Design in the Kansas public school system:

Eighty years after the infamous Scopes "Monkey Trial," Kansas has reopened a national debate over school science standards. Hearings were convened on May 5 by the state board of education to determine whether current criticisms of evolutionary theory may be taught in public schools. Proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) had the stage to themselves.

A pro-evolution group, Kansas Citizens for Science, boycotted the meetings, saying they were a thinly disguised assault on atheism. Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney retained by the board to defend the current science standards, characterized Intelligent Design scientists as repackaged creationists.

The theory of evolution holds that all life developed via natural selection to its present diversity over billions of years. Intelligent Design holds that natural selection cannot account for the complexity of life.

"An intelligent design by definition requires a designer," Irigonegaray told CT. "I just disagree that science should involve a supernatural answer. I think it is essential that science remain neutral."

Board chair Steve Abrams told CT that while the subject has obvious religious implications, "the objective is to minimize the religion and politics and focus, as much as possible, on the science education." This summer the board is expected to approve teaching critical of evolution.

At least 13 states are looking at legislation requiring a more critical stance toward evolution in the classroom, or allowing alternative theories to be taught.

Jonathan Wells, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a Seattle think tank that advocates Intelligent Design, told CT that he does not favor teaching students about ID because the theory is not fully developed yet.

Wells is correct that ID is not yet a fully developed scientific theory, but that's no reason not to present in the classroom the reasons why many people accept it. Neither the Big Bang nor String theory are completely understood, but we don't hesitate to teach their main points in the appropriate science classes. Nor is the incompleteness of ID a reason why students should not be taught the difficulties with Darwinism as well as its strengths. Indeed, Darwinism itself is a theory that has been mutating continuously since Charles Darwin first published Origin of Species in 1859, and, it could be argued, is itself still not fully worked out.

Viewpoint recommends that both ID and Darwinism be taught in high school biology classrooms as competing theories in the philosophy of biology. Teach students the difference between empirical investigation and the philosophy that undergirds it and show them how philosophical assumptions permeate all that scientists do and why science cannot be practiced or taught without bringing those philosophical assumptions into play. Students will find the controversy between the two explanations of origins fascinating, and they'll learn a lot of science and philosophy along the way. So will their teachers.