"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, March 09, 2006

There's water near Saturn

Now that I have your attention:

Don't have the energy right now to link to more eloquent folks than I, so I'm simply going to expound ex tempore and leave it at that.

The Dubai port deal fell through. Hardly surprising, though the murder-suicide method all parties used was certainly creative: in the space of a few hours today, Congress effectively killed it while the United Arab Emirate company yanked itself off the table. I think the fuss raised about the whole thing was way out of proportion to whatever national security threat it might have posed. It's hard to tell who came out of it looking worse: the Democrats, who suddenly decided to care about foreign investment when it presented a chance to beat Bush over the head with it; Republicans, who broke with their president in the hopes that his current poll numbers don't hurt them in upcoming elections; or Bush himself, who made his first-ever veto threat over this silly issue. Words cannot describe my disappointment in American politics right now.

The military announced today that it would be closing the Abu Ghraib prison in coming months. This decision is long overdue. It should've been demolished the instant our tanks rolled into Baghdad, as most Iraqis knew it as a symbol of Saddam Hussein's cruelty and oppression. Its use as a ready-made internment facility was far outweighed by such symbolism, which came back to bite us in the ass during the "I'm a bored reservist so how about I take pictures of a naked sex pyramid" prisoner abuse scandal. Comparisons between Saddam's methods and America's, while absurd and unworthy of being mentioned in the same breath, came easily, and we should never have given our enemies such an obvious weapon to use against us in the media war.

Finally, during the last few weeks I've developed what I'm calling "Rampaging Muslim Fatigue Syndrome". I thought I'd be able to get past it when the Cartoon Jihad died down, but then this Iranian at UNC decided to drive his car through a crowd of students to demonstrate his version of divine love and the syndrome came back in full force. I'm starting to wonder exactly what it's going to take for the rest of the world to come together and collectively tell such Muslims to grow the fuck up. Apparently 9/11 wasn't enough, mindless rioting over an editorial sketch wasn't enough, and nuclear saber-rattling hasn't done much either. Perhaps when Israel and half of Europe is radioactive glass, the collective world will collectively put its heads together and collect its thoughts on what to do.

RMFS has also made me wonder why this group of people thinks it's so great and deserves not merely respect, but surrender. Oil is the obvious answer - after all, don't want to piss off the folks who keep the wells open and spigots flowing - but I don't think it's that simple. My theory (and I'm not claiming that it's original, in fact I probably read parts of it somewhere in my travels) is that Muslims reached this state of arrogance and hautiness because they've never had their asses completely and utterly beaten, kicked so badly that there's no doubt who came out on top. Oh sure, they've had their setbacks - their empire used to stretch from India to Spain - but they've never had their most sacred cities burned or bombed, every last stronghold defeated, every able fist disarmed. Their cultural mindset is much like that of post-WWI Germany. When Germany surrendered, their forces were being pushed back by the Allies, but they still held foreign territory and their army was intact. Germans accused their leaders of betraying an army that had won many stunning victories in the past and could do so again. They believed their leaders sold them out, and this fairy-tale of defeat snatched from the jaws of victory gave Hitler the encouragement to try again. The Allies didn't make the same mistake with Hitler. They demanded unconditional surrender, and by the time Americans and Russians shook hands in the Reich's heartland, no one doubted who won. The bitterness, humiliation, and staggering price of defeat led Germans to seek a future where their children would never be subjected to such horrors again.

Muslims have never tasted such defeat. They're living the same lie, believing that various forces (colonialism, corrupt dictators, Israel) have robbed them of a victory that's achievable if only they fight harder. The West has never disillusioned these dreamers. We've never demanded the same unconditional surrender of their destructive and hateful ideas. And our silence and disunity has encouraged them, much as the silence and disunity of the West encouraged Hitler to complete the conquest Kaiser Wilhelm couldn't. The last thing I want to see is a 'total war' that wastes millions of lives and renders entire nations desolate; but somehow, some way, we need to communicate to Muslims that they have no inherent right to dominate others. Let's not wait until the next Poland is invaded to act.

PS. I wasn't kidding about Saturn. The Cassini space probe detected geysers spewing from the south pole of the moon Enceladus, suggesting that liquid water flows just beneath the surface. This places Enceladus in the select ranks of solar bodies that have displayed evidence of water. NASA might have a checkered history when it comes to putting men in space, but its automated explorers have proven their worth time and time again. They deserve all the accolades afforded them for this incredible discovery.

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