"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hamas makes lots of headlines and Alito sails through

So Samuel Alito is now Justice Alito. Not that there was ever any doubt, but it was fun to watch John Kerry take a break from windsurfsnowboarding in the Alps to phone in his filibuster request. Ah, the wonders of technology. Give us a few more years and we can have Kerry's seat in the Senate replaced with a plasma screen TV showing live feed of him looking ever so serious and troubled from the banks of the Seine. Of course, there's been much ado about just which civil rights Alito's going to take away from Americans while allowing Dick Cheney to monitor our online Doom III tournaments. My money's on the "none" answer, and my hope is that as a justice, he does what justices are supposed to do: interpret the Constitution. Period. No sweeping judicial legislation, no whining that we should take European legal precedents into consideration when ruling on American law. Interpret the Constitution. That's all. Pro-choice advocates are afraid he'll overturn Roe v Wade. I have no idea whether he will or not. But I will repeat my position that overturning that decision could only make American politics a less poisonous place. It took the issue out of the hands of the voters and steadily injected partisan venom into the political arena ever since it was decided. Sending the abortion question back to the people is probably one of the best ways to improve the political climate in this country. Some states might vote for more restrictions, some might not; but at least Americans will have a say and no one can complain that the courts decided for them.

Nuff said on that. Interesting piece in the Washington Post today from one of Hamas'
political chiefs (though "mafioso" might be more appropriate, since his bio at the bottom of the column highlights, among other accomplishments, racketeering, money-laundering, and deportation). On the one hand, it's an admittedly compelling call for America to respect the will of the Palestinian voters and work with the new government, since we continually petition for the spread of democracy abroad. On the other hand, he labels the suicide bombing of innocent civilians "its history of sacrifice for the cause of liberty". If that's his idea of noble sacrifice, I dread the liberty he's envisioning for that whole region. Daniel Pipes, a renowned expert on Middle Eastern politics, is guardedly optimistic about the signs coming from Hamas (halting attacks in recent months, offering a 15-year truce with Israel). I'll believe it when I see it. Should Iran develop nuclear weapons, I doubt any carrot or stick that Israel and the West might offer Palestinians would be enough to deter them from strapping nukes to the backs of their children and sending them to the heart of Israeli cities.

Michael Ledeen on the broader topic of democracy and revolution.

Remember Osama bin Laden's #2,
al-Zawahiri? Well sadly, he was not reduced to a memory by a CIA missile, so we're still at the point where we have to deal with him rather than remember him. He's alive and well and making videotapes which, as James Robbins points out, amount to little more than "ha, ha, you missed me, God is great." Between that and bin Laden offering a half-hearted truce, one might conclude that we've taken the wind out of al Qaeda's sails. That's probably close to the truth; after all, if al-Zawahiri has to sleep in a different cave every night and hide in a different hut every day, then he doesn't have much time to think about planning the next big attack on American soil. That's good. Let's keep it that way. Let's make him keep hiding, and then make him dead. As to some of those on the Left who bemoaned our missile attack in which, sadly, innocent people died, remember one thing: they weren't all innocent. Among others, we took out the al Qaeda bomb expert whose disseminated knowledge on explosives was considered a "bible" for terrorists. I don't miss him.

Finally - I'm always gratified when I read about
legislators who actually take the time to visit Iraq and form their opinions about it. It takes a little more effort than reclining in a Laz-e-boy at the end of the day and complaining about what CNN decides to show, but it certainly adds a little perspective. To Mr. Bradley, and Joe Lieberman, and the rest who've been over there: please keep going. To those who haven't: either go or admit you're only bitching about what Dan Rather told you on the nightly news.

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