Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Nutty Professor: We're Overreacting

In an absurdly ignorant (or sickeningly disingenuous) op-ed in the L.A. Times “Was 9/11 really that bad?”, David A. Bell suggests “The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we're overreacting.”

First he kindly reminds us, as if we had all forgotten, what happened on that horrible day. I know many of his readers have forced themselves to forget, or were never really bothered by it to begin with, aside from the immense inconvenience of having all flights cancelled for a few days, and having to look at those embarrassingly “patriotic” flags on people's houses. He tells us that only 3,000 people were killed. Oh, and a couple of tall buildings that nobody really cared for anyway. No big deal. He continues:

Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.

So the first flash of Bell's utter stupidity is his comparison of 3,000 civilians killed launching the U.S. into the war on terror with the total body count of all Russia at the end of World War II. Come on. That's embarrassing, even for an academic.

He implies here that the deaths of 20 million Russians were what pushed the Kremlin to finally declare war on Hitler.

Here's the comparison he missed: 2,400 Americans were killed in Pearl Harbor, a military target, which got us into WWII, which in turn killed over 400,000 American soldiers.

Contrast that with 3,000 civilian targets killed in the World Trade Center attacks, plus a large chunk of New York City destroyed, the nation’s economy nearly shattered, civil liberties constrained, etc, and the resulting War on Terror, which has so far claimed 3,000 American military lives.

Would this dimwit proclaim that FDR declaring war on the Axis powers was overreacting? Because if it was not, then he needs to explain how in merely three months in Okinawa, we lost 13,000 men, the Japanese lost 107,000 of theirs, and 142,000 civilians were killed, and yet this compares favorably to the “grave benchmarks” coming out of Iraq every other week.

The professor is right in one respect: Americans have had to make far fewer sacrifices in the current war than in WWII. And we have not yet been hit again since 2001. But the professor does not mention that it's not from a lack of trying on the enemy’s part. Several big attacks were prevented by the hated War on Terror, the evil Patriot Act and the unAmerican “domestic wiretapping” program that George W. Bush directed against the enemy.

Then he puts forth the notion that we didn't need to finally declare war back on the terrorists, because heck, they're not really that much of a threat to us after all:

The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the “Islamo-fascist” enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler's implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy.

Here, Bell displays his inability or unwillingness to grasp the concept of preemption. If we had allowed fate to take its course in Iraq, and the phony sanctions were eventually lifted, Saddam would have had nukes in just a few years. Similarly, if we don't take out the mad mullahs of Iran, they will have them as well. That's really the main idea of what this war is about: if the mass murdering death cult of islamism, which Bell admits would destroy us if it could, got ahold of nuclear weapons, they would use them on our cities. This is a threat we cannot afford to let

But then, I guess, if New York was totally destroyed, that's only 7 or 8 million dead. Nothing really, when compared to the total body count of the USSR at the end of WWII, so let's not overreact, OK?

Now here's a gem:

Even if one counts our dead in Iraq and Afghanistan as casualties of the war against terrorism, which brings us to about 6,500, we should remember that roughly the same number of Americans die every two months in automobile accidents.

Well, the genius professor should also bring up even more relevant factoids:

So if we were as logical as the good professor, rather than take out the Taliban, kill Al Qaeda when and where possible, and remove dictators who support terrorists and plot to build nukes, we should declare a war on dung and snail parasites. Oh! And automakers.

Bell concludes that by recognizing a threat beyond attacks that have already occurred, we are doing no more than pumping up the importance of our attackers, thereby fueling the fire.

Yet as the comparison with the Soviet experience should remind us, the war against terrorism has not yet been much of a war at all, let alone a war to end all wars. It is a messy, difficult, long-term struggle against exceptionally dangerous criminals who actually like nothing better than being put on the same level of historical importance as Hitler — can you imagine a better recruiting tool? To fight them effectively, we need coolness, resolve and stamina. But we also need to overcome long habit and remind ourselves that not every enemy is in fact a threat to our existence.

Yes, it is a “messy, difficult, long-term struggle,” which makes it even more impressive that the U.S. war and intelligence machine has been so effective in protecting us from attacks without the brutal and overwhelming response that defined wars of old.

What Bell is really trying to say is that there is nothing worth fighting for.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Killed Dead

This interesting sentence appeared on the site:

Elsewhere in the capital and nationwide Saturday, police said at least 17 other people were reported killed dead as a result of sectarian violence.

Killed dead? I like that. I guess it must have been a Raid...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Citizen Saddam

There are various conflicting reports of what Saddam’s last word was before his plunge into hell. Some quote “Muqtada,” which would heap even further humliation on the dead dictator. Others claim it was “Mohammed,” in the middle of a prayer, which is less embarrassing. Still others claim it was “I am ready to negotiate!” As with much of the “news” coming out of Iraq, we will have to do some serious investigation to get to the truth.

Here is the infamous video of Saddam just a millisecond before his family reunion with Uday and Qusay. Now, by tweaking the awful pixelated cellphone frames with UltraEnhance 2.0, we are able to get a clear enough image of the dictator’s mouth to do some lip reading:

And sure enough, he’s saying “Mohammed.” But just what did it mean? Was there more to it than just a prayer? Did this last word offer some glimpse into the soul of not Saddam the Butcher of Baghdad, but down past the layer of Saddam the terrorist, past the thick crust of Saddam the torturer and Saddam the sadist, and into the soft gooey core of Saddam the man?

One clue comes to us from footage of Baathists protesting the execution of one of the world’s worst tyrants.

At a glance, this just looks like your dime-a-dozen protest by the “Arab Street,” the thinnest-skinned bunch of whiners since the ACLU, which starts burning signs in English at the drop of a fez. But if you zoom in on this image, you get an idea of what drove Saddam to be what he became.

So there you have it. They are burning Saddam’s symbol of youth and lost innocence.

I wonder what happened to his Declaration of Principles...

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