Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Tall Order

Newt Gingrich has an excellent piece of analysis in the Washington Times on the challenges that global jihad confront us with and the type of leadership we need to guide us through the rest of this century.

Newt's right, unfortunately, that our current leadership has failed to really lead and do what needs to be done to defeat jihadism. President Bush's instincts have been good, but he has failed to explain to the American people exactly what is at stake and what is demanded of us. Good leadership requires good policies and the ability to articulate those policies to the people. Bush has certainly not done an adequate job of the latter, as his approval ratings show.

Gingrich lays out what must be done, specifically in Gaza, if we can have any hope of ultimately prevailing against those who are committed to our destruction:

The West will sooner or later have to confront several hard realities if it is to defeat its enemies.

First, terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah will have to be rooted out and destroyed. We do not today have the strategy, the doctrine or the techniques for defeating these kinds of organizations. In Iraq, after more than four years of effort, our current doctrine for population control and for effective local policing and intelligence is pathetic. To defeat ferocious committed and enthusiastically violent organizations like al Qaeda and the Taliban will take new energy, new drive and new determination on our part.

Second, the indirect strategies of propping up corrupt dictatorships have to give way to direct people-to-people help, securing private-property rights and direct financial assistance so we can improve their families' lives and they can be empowered to defend their neighborhoods from evil men. Hernando de Soto will be vastly more effective in designing this than all the bureaucrats at AID and the United Nations combined.

Third, the U.N. camp system of socialism with unearned anti-humanitarian charity has to be replaced with a totally new system of earned income and earned property rights to restore dignity and hope to every Palestinian.

Fourth, the current system of schools under both Fatah and Hamas control have to be replaced in their entirety with a system dedicated to genuine education and to teaching human rights rather than jihad and hatred.

Lastly, mosques can no longer be allowed to preach hatred and violence. The de-Nazification that seemed obvious in Germany in 1945 will have to be matched by a dehatred campaign today. The haters have to be defeated, disarmed and detained if the forces of peace and freedom are to win.

These steps are only the beginning, but the gap between our current pathetic reaction to the Hamas victory and the requirements of victory give some indication of how far the West has to go before it starts winning. In Churchill's phrase, we are not even at the end of the beginning. However, we may be at the beginning of recognizing that this will be a real war.

Churchill was not only a man of powerful intellect who possessed a clear-eyed view of human nature and realities, but he was also a soldier and fighter who believed in sacrifice and honor and refused to accept retreat or surrender. So where do we go to find another like him?

Certainly not the Democratic party which acts as if it is the fault of the U.S. and Israel that the jihadis hate us and that if we'd just retreat to our borders, and the Israelis would march themselves into the sea, peace would break out in the world. The Democrats offer us Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and John Edwards. No Churchills there.

Perhaps the Republicans have someone who can lead us through the perils which lie ahead, but if so, the opposition media will try their best to ensure that his candidacy is stillborn. What's clear is that we need someone with Bush's instincts, Clinton's intellect and articulateness, and Reagan's ability to inspire.

Pretty tall order.


Return of the Eagles

Here's a great news report. The bald eagle, our national bird, is soon to be removed from the endangered species list:

In 1967, there were fewer than 500 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. The national bird was in danger of disappearing from much of the United States.

Though the eagles were never in danger of extinction-the vast majority, over 100,000, were in Alaska and Canada-Americans understandably wanted to protect a national symbol.

Today, the bald eagle is doing well. On June 29 the bald eagle in the lower 48 states will be officially removed, or delisted, from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Yet delisting the bald eagle from the ESA has been a decade-long process that shows how even the most well-intentioned policy can be overcome by politics and ulterior motives.

The bald eagle should have been delisted in the early-to-mid 1990s, when it surpassed the original goal of around 3,000 pairs in the lower 48 states. Since then, the population has continued to grow at the very healthy rate of about 8 percent annually, reaching at least 9,921 pairs in the continental U.S. this year.

Along the Susquehanna River near where I live, it's hard not to see an eagle these days. They are majestic birds, literally breathtaking to watch close-up, and their return to the lower 48 states is a wonderful success that makes all our lives richer.

Photo by Howard Eskin on Susquehanna river near the Conowingo dam, MD Bald eagles concentrate here in numbers that often reach into the fifties during the winter months.

Perhaps we might attach some metaphorical significance to the comeback of our majestic national bird on this July 4th.


Human Evolution

If the conclusions drawn from this research are correct, if Homo erectus was forming settlements 400,000 years ago, then on what basis is H. erectus considered a different species from H. sapiens (us)? It takes a lot of intelligence, and probably spoken language, to do what this article claims H. erectus was doing. Biologically speaking two populations are of the same species if they can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. We don't know that H. erectus was "reproductively isolated" from H. sapiens and the evidence now is that it probably wasn't. Isn't it about time that we recognized that the evolutionary paradigm for human evolution needs to be revised:

The accepted timescale of Man's evolution is being challenged by a German archaeologist who claims to have found evidence that Homo erectus - mankind's early ancestor, who migrated from Africa to Asia and Europe - began living in settled communities long before the accepted time of 10,000 years ago.

The point at which settlement actually took place is the first critical stage in humanity's cultural development.

Helmut Ziegert, of the Institute of Archaeology at Hamburg University, says that the evidence can be found at excavated sites in North and East Africa, in the remains of stone huts and tools created by upright man for fishing and butchery.

Professor Ziegert claims that the thousands of blades, scrapers, hand axes and other tools found at sites such as Budrinna, on the shore of the extinct Lake Fezzan in southwest Libya, and at Melka Konture, along the River Awash in Ethiopia, provide evidence of organised societies.

He believes that such sites show small communities of 40 or 50 people, with abundant water resources to exploit for constant harvests.

The implications for our knowledge of human evolution - and of our intellectual and social beginnings - are "profound" and a "staggering shift", he said.

Yes, they are. The implications are that however long humans have been on the earth they have been the same species they are today.