Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Martian Warming

Mars is getting warmer, but what else could we expect with Halliburton's friend in the White House refusing to sign the Kyoto treaty?

The Situation in Sudan

John Eibner and Joe Madison write a concise update on the current situation in the Sudan. It's difficult for Americans to stay focused on a region where there is no obvious national interest at stake, and it's easy to avoid thinking about the suffering of the people there when their plight gives way on the evening news to feckless murder investigations in Aruba and Cindy Sheehan's quixotic crusade in Crawford.

The absence of a manifest national interest was the argument for staying out of Bosnia and Kosovo and Rwanda in the nineties. It was the crux of the case for neutrality in 1940. It is not a trivial argument. Even so, power carries with it some measure of responsibility. We should not stand by and do nothing while people are starved and slaughtered if it is within our capacitites to do something to stop it that would not make matters worse. In other words, there is a moral case, even in this amoral post-modern world, for bringing our power to bear on behalf of those trapped in the third world hells that befoul our globe like so many toxic pustules.

The debate should not be whether we should intervene to help desperate people. The debate should be about how we might most effectively accomplish that goal. It should center around how we can produce the greatest amount of good with the least amount of evil.

Hopefully, moral suasion, diplomatic pressure and economic incentives will bring about a surcease of the suffering of the victims of the despots and petty tyrants who populate the third world, but sometimes, as in Bosnia and Rwanda, it might take the application of military force. That should be a last resort, but, provided it can be reasonably expected to work and produce a better result than would capitulation, it should always be an option.

It was indeed an option in Bosnia, to our credit and the credit of the Clinton administration. It evidently was not an option in Rwanda, to our and president Clinton's everlasting shame. You may, of course, disagree, but if so, at least watch the movie Hotel Rwanda and see if that doesn't cause you to rethink your opinion.

How the Terrorists Can Win in Iraq

This is the sort of disheartening news that will cause the American people to drop their support of the Iraq effort quicker than anything.

Almost the entire procurement budget allocated to Iraq's defense ministry has been stolen. It amounts to 1.3 billion dollars. It's going to be awful hard for the Bush administration to ask the American taxpayer to come up with that kind of money again, but if the money is not replaced the progress of the Iraqi military toward self-sufficiency will be seriously impaired.

Americans have been generous because they believe that Iraq is on the road to being able to fend for itself. If we see our investment just disappearing down a rat-hole, enthusiasm for saving Iraq will evaporate like morning mist, and the most bitter consequences for both us and the world will ensue.

Say it Ain't So!

The Bush administration evidently needs to return to first principles, and the very first principle of a leader is that you surround yourself with the most competent people you can find. A good leader doesn't play patronage games with important appointments and especially not with homeland security. It is astonishing that key positions at HS seem to be doled out on the basis of nepotism and cronyism, as though the task of securing our citizens from terrorism was no more critical a post than the ambassadorship to the Solomon Islands.

Unfortunately, the Bushies, having already been scorched by the Michael Brown appointment at FEMA, seem to have learned nothing from the experience and appear to be angling for a reprise of their embarrassment in the nomination of Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

Michelle Malkin can't believe this is happening and wonders what on earth the Bush people are thinking. Malkin has the relevant background on Ms Myers, and it's pretty depressing.

For our part, we wonder to what extent, if any, Bush himself was involved in this nomination. Say you didn't know, Dubya!