Saturday, January 9, 2010

Sinking Ship

Gary Varvel comments upon the wisdom of the Democrats' plan for adding several million more people to our health insurance system:

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.


Thwarting Terror Attacks in Israel

Strategy Page has an interesting article on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in which it's noted that Israel suffered no Islamic terror attacks within its borders in 2009 - the lowest level of Islamic terrorism in Israel since the Palestinians began their current round of violence in 2000.

Several reasons for this respite are the new tactics adopted by the Israelis to defeat the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign as well as their flexibility in adapting to new Palestinian methods:

The Palestinian terrorist groups still say they are going to destroy Israel. But as a practical matter, the current round of Palestinian terrorist violence is over. You can see this by the sharp decline in successful terrorist attacks, and the frequent pronouncements from the terrorists groups that they are going to behave, for a while anyway (until they can figure out how to bypass Israeli defenses).

What the terrorists really want is to avoid any more of the Israeli tactics that shut down their terrorist operations. This included going after terrorist leaders and technical specialists, and either capturing or (failing that) killing them. Raids and air attacks were made against buildings used by the terrorists, and tight security on Israelis borders were instituted. This last measure crushed the Palestinian economy, which put popular pressure on the terrorists to stop their attacks, and promise to keep it that way. That hasn't worked, but Israeli counter-terror techniques continue to.

In addition to these tactics Israel has established a very effective intelligence-gathering network in Gaza that allows them to preempt terrorist designs. Police states like Egypt, Algeria and Syria have crushed indigenous terrorist movements within their borders at great cost to innocent bystanders, but it's much harder for a free and open society to extinguish a terrorist threat.

One question this raises is whether the Israeli people would stand for their leaders forfeiting the relative peace they've achieved in order to launch a risky attack on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Such an attack is almost certain to result in war with both Hamas and Hezbollah. But then war with these radical groups dedicated to Israel's destruction is ultimately inevitable anyway.


Religious Intolerance

A number of commentators are in high dudgeon over Brit Hume's comment that Tiger Woods should embrace the redemption offered uniquely by the Gospel. Michael Gerson has a fine column in the Washington Post on the reaction to Hume's remark.

Gerson writes:

For this, Hume has been savaged. Post media critic Tom Shales put him in the category of a "sanctimonious busybody" engaged in "telling people what religious beliefs they ought to have." Blogger Andrew Sullivan criticized Hume's "pure sectarianism," which helps abolish "the distinction between secular and religious discourse." MSNBC's David Shuster called Hume's religious advice "truly embarrassing."

Criticism and insults from any of these three should be regarded as an affirmation that one is largely correct, but there's more here than just the prattle of bitter souls. Read the rest of Gerson's column and, meanwhile, let's pose some questions:

1) Would these gentlemen have been outraged had Hume been a Muslim and urged Woods to embrace Allah? Or if Hume were a Buddhist and Woods were not (he allegedly is) would anyone have objected had Hume encouraged Woods to find inner peace in the Buddhist faith? I doubt it. It's Hume's endorsement of Christianity that they find so offensive. Why?

2) Why is it wrong or embarrassing to encourage a man to adopt one's own faith? I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that the only answer to this question is that Hume believes something that they don't and has the temerity to take that belief seriously. If that's indeed what they find so offensive aren't they being awfully small-minded?

3) Why is advising someone to accept a particular religious belief any different than advising someone to accept a political doctrine? All three of these men endorse liberal dogmas everyday and implicitly or explicitly encourage others to accept those dogmas. How is that different than what Hume did?

4) Perhaps what lies at the root of their snit is the unspoken assumption that public figures shouldn't be talking about religion (unless it's Martin Luther King or Barack Obama doing the talking), but why not? What is it about religion, especially the Christian religion, that makes it illicit as a matter for public discussion?

I doubt any of these men that Gerson mentions could give a coherent answer to these questions. Their distaste at Hume's advice and their reaction to it is visceral rather than rational, witless rather than thoughtful. It's very sad.

Hume talks about this episode and the fallout from it in an interview at Christianity Today.