"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."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Any port in a storm

Miracle of miracles, another story has managed to grab the headlines from rioting wannabe jihadis (though not completely, more on that below): PortGate, the scandal of scandals in which an Arab company has somehow been given permission to commercially manage six U.S. ports. I will admit, my initial reaction matched that of certain congressional Republicans and many Democrats: "Why this company, from this region, now?" After all, the United Arab Emirates (home to the company seeking to manage the aforementioned ports) is smack-dab in the middle of the Middle East, a region filled with terrorists who blew up 3000 Americans, hundreds of Iraqis and Jews, dozens of Britons, a U.S. Navy warship, who are actively seeking nuclear weapons and who, by all accounts, would love to turn the oceans red with our blood. Heck, some of the 9/11 hijackers came from the UAE, and the cash which made that happy day possible was channeled through UAE banks. And in return, we're putting them in charge of major access points to our country?

Then I took a few deep breaths, ate some ice cream, and calmed down. An excellent summary of why port hysteria is so hysterical can be found
here, a few of the major points being A) the UAE is taking over a company that was already foreign-owned (by Britain), and Britain recently had its own share of terrorist attacks by local nutjobs, so do we ban every kind of foreign investment or accept the fact that even our close friends have murderers lurking in their midst, B) only the commerical functions of the ports will be operated by this corporation, security remains the responsibility of U.S. Customs and the Coast Guard; we start outsourcing that, then I'll get nervous, and C) let's not act like our ports are the only chinks in our armor, our airports are still poorly defended by a TSA so hell-bent on appearing PC and non-discriminatory that they harrass white middle-aged mothers (hardly a demographic prone to hijacking and suicide bombing) and military folk (I've stopped wearing my uniform when I travel because they make me strip half of it off just in case my shirt stays might actually be piano wire). Let's fill in the gaps that were supposed to be fixed before we start on a new crusade, mkay silly bear?

In other news: Iran still wants nukes and is thus far playing the U.N. like the fool it always is. However, its success may have the unexpected effect of bringing an estranged Europe and America
closer together. Europe's already had a rude awakening to the presence of the enemy within with the cartoon riots; perhaps they'll open their eyes further and see who's really on their side.

In Iraq, the recent bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine has resulted in a spree of revenge killings and sectarian violence. This has renewed fears that the country is ready to plunge into civil war. Well, for the last four years pundits have sworn up and down that Iraq was ready to tear itself apart at the seams the day after tomorrow; four years later, it hasn't, and
some think that if this most recent atrocity against Shiites fails to wreck the fragile peace, nothing will. An ambitious hope, to be sure; but not unfounded, as the road to this New Iraq has been littered with dire predictions that never came true. Iraqis consistently defy the worst expectations of the naysayers.

Then there's that other burgeoning Middle Eastern democracy,
Palestine. Hamas believes that because they were elected under conditions as fair and free as one sees in that region, they somehow deserve automatic respectability. Not true. They represent the will of the people, yes; but that will encompasses terrorism and hatred. If they refuse to give that up, then the West has no obligation to pump money into their terror state. With democracy comes responsibility. They've made their choice; now let's see if they're mature enough to handle the consequences, whatever they may be.

And finally, back to the Cartoon Jihad. Nine out of ten media outlets, in a craven act of pandering, have refused to re-publish the offending sketches and instead bemoan the 'lack of tolerance' that led to the cartoons being published in the first place. A few, however, refuse to be cowed. A
failure of the press is putting it mildly; recognizing the outrage as infantile and bullying is a little closer to the truth (but then, I take a guilty pleasure in name-calling). Taking a page from the White House cafeteria playbook, Iranians have responded to the cartoons (amidst demands for the destruction of Israel, America, and the world in general) by renaming Danish pastries 'Roses of the Prophet Muhammed pastries.' Though I think Mark Steyn's tag is closer to the mark: "Iranian pastries: There's nothing flakier, except our president".

No comments: