The Iraq war began little more than four years ago. Yet it has already yielded a well-developed literary sub-genre. Name-brand writers including George Tenet, Bob Woodward, Paul Bremmer, George Packer, Michael Gordon, Larry Diamond, Thomas Ricks, Fouad Ajami, Gen. Tommy Franks and Francis Fukuyama have all published books dedicated in whole or in part to the subject. So, too, have scores of rank-and-file journalists and U.S. soldiers.
Last December, Prof. Shiraz Dossa of St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia embarrassed himself and his school by attending Iran’s now-infamous Dec, 2006 holocaust conference. Now, the Literary Review of Canada has given Dossa space for a long, rambling essay defending his actions. Dossa also uses the opportunity to accuse Jewish and Christian university professors and administrators of launching a “Spanish Inquisition” and “crusade” against him. Intermingled in his self-defence is also an unrelated mélange of more general claims about Israel’s mistreating of Palestinians, global Islamophobia, etc.
In the lead-up to last week’s G8 Summit, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the genesis of a made-in-Washington plan to fight global warming. Then in Germany, he went further by joining other Western leaders in embracing a new multilateral mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. His turnaround marks an amazing landmark: The world’s pre-eminent conservative icon and hydrocarbon apologist has recognized the reality of man-made global warming and the need to fight it.
Beginning just after 7 a.m. on June 5, 1967 — exactly 40 years ago tomorrow — a fleet of 200 Israeli airplanes took off and flew west at low altitude toward Egypt’s airfields. “From Joshua Bin-Nun, King David, the Maccabees and the fighters of 1948 and 1956, we shall draw the strength and courage to strike the Egyptians who threaten our safety,” declared Air Force Commander Motti Hod to his pilots. “Fly, soar at the enemy, destroy him and scatter him throughout the desert so that Israel may live.”
Last week, the Lebanese army attacked a squalid Palestinian refugee camp that’s become infested with Islamist suicide terrorists and guerilla fighters. On May 20, government troops surrounded the camp, with tanks and artillery pieces shelling it at close range. Army snipers gunned down anything that moved. At least 18 civilians were killed, and dozens more injured. Water and electricity were cut off. By week’s end, much of the camp had been turned into deserted rubble. Thousands of terrified residents fleeing the camp reported harrowing stories of famished, parched families trapped in their basements.
Last Tuesday, I wrote an op-ed column for my newspaper (the National Post) entitled “At a restaurant near you, the war between Daters and Breeders.” It was one of those airy, self-indulgent pieces of cultural commentary that otherwise self-important op-ed pundits publish every few months to “show their human side.” (See: I eat in restaurants with my kids — just like you!)
Yesterday, I posted to this site about a lunatic article from the popular left-wing site Counterpunch that I claimed was the most insane thing written about the VA Tech killings. The article, by Miami-based writer Sherwood Ross, claimed that “the American people, including the families of the murdered Virginia Tech innocents, have collective blood-guilt on their hands.” Why? Because many of the victims’ parents “had elected to Congress men and women who voted for lax laws on gun ownership” and “had also voted for legislators who backed the president’s illegal invasion of Iraq.”
What does it take to get involuntarily commited to a psych ward in Virginia? That’s what people are asking following revelations that everyone at VA Tech University apparently knew as early as 2005 that Cho Seung-Hui, the VA Tech murderer, was out of his mind. (At one point, documents show, Cho did check into a psych ward. But his stay was brief: Virginia law ensured he had complete autonomy until he gave clear signs that he was a danger to himself or those around him. A good summary of Cho’s mental health history during his college years appears here.)
This seems like a petty point to make: Bush wasn’t trying to murder people. He was trying to depose a dictator and bring freedom to Iraq. The fact that he screwed up in the process is tragic. But it does not make him a murderer. Intentions matter when it comes to this sort of thing. Murderers seek to kill innocent people. That was not Bush’s intent, even if many people have died as a result of his blunders.
Kevin Potvin, who last month was acclaimed as the federal Green Party candidate in the Canadian riding of Vancouver-Kingsway, has admitted that he reacted with euphoria when the World Trade Center came crashing down. In his words: “When I saw the first tower cascade down into that enormous plume of dust and paper, there was a little voice inside me that said, ‘Yeah!’ When the second tower came down the same way, that little voice said, ‘Beautiful!’ When the visage of the Pentagon appeared on the TV with a gaping and smoking hole in its side, that little voice had nearly taken me over, and I felt an urge to pump my fist in the air.”
As Rachel Raskin-Zrihen notes below,hand-picked “scholars” from around the world are gathering today in Tehran for a government-run conference entitled Review of the Holocaust: Global vision. According to the organizers’ call for papers, the meeting will investigate certain “hidden” aspects of the Holocaust, an event described as “one of the most important propaganda tools used to politically justify the support for the Jewish people.” Topics include “gas chambers; denial or confirmation,” “holocaust and carnage of Palestinians,” and “Nazism and Zionism; cooperation or hostility.”
The Jabaliya Refugee Camp in Gaza was the scene of Palestinian celebrations today. No, a “martyr” from the camp hadn’t managed to blow up a restaurant full of Israeli families, the usual reason for joyous gatherings among Arabs in this part of the world. Rather, the locals were celebrating the victory of their “human shields” in thwarting an air strike against the home of wanted terrorist Wail Barud.
Move over George Allen. No, I don’t just mean get your crap out of the Senate office building. I mean you’re no longer the most ham-fisted sound-biter on this continent. I know no one on this blog cares about Canadian politics, but Alberta Premier Ralph Klein — a long-serving populist with a well-known drinking problem — has just served up a doozy.
I supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And so it is painful for me to watch the ignominious exit of its principal architect, Donald Rumsfeld. While history will credit the outgoing U.S. defense secretary with the removal of Saddam Hussein and his murderous lieutenants, there is no doubt but that he made a hash of the war’s aftermath. Responsibility for Iraq’s ongoing carnage is shared by many people - but Mr. Rumsfeld must claim the largest share.
Tonight’s new episodes of Simpsons and Family Guy both played off the Iraq war. In Family Guy, Stewie and Brian the dog join the army and head off to Iraq. The place is so scary that they end up shooting each other in the foot in hopes of getting shipped stateside with purple hearts. Their commanding officer rejects the ploy, but then the war ends suddenly when democracy breaks out — accompanied by the usual Family Guy-style song-and-dance number, complete with Burkha-clad Iraqi women getting transformed into U.S.-style tarts. The image then shifts to “the one guy who predicted this” — a shot of an infantile George W. Bush pushing a slinky down the White House stairs.
According to political cliché, Americans voting in tomorrow’s mid-term elections fall into two categories: coastal Democrats, who are so left-wing they might as well be honourary Canadians, and gay-bashing, bible-thumping hayseeds of the south and midwest. That is certainly the way the media is playing things: Just about every election story you see dwells on the question of whether Republicans will be able to get their religious “base” out to the polls in sufficient numbers to save the Senate from falling into Democratic hands. As a CBC Radio report put it last week, “The Republican[s’] core of white suburban Christian megachurches [are the party’s] font of votes, the key to victory.”
Most of the readers inclined to surf this blog will likely be fans of Mark Steyn — a foreign-policy columnist who’s as smart as Charles Krauthammer and as funny as P.J. O’Rourke in his prime. Steyn’s written a few books in the past, but none as good or important as his new one, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. I reviewed it on Sunday for the New York Post, and noted how good it was. But I was shocked to see that it has already risen to #14 on The New York Times hardcover non-fiction best-sellers list — an astounding accomplishment for such a politically incorrect tract. This is a testament not only to Steyn’s writing ability, but also to the times we live in: People are ready to read hard truths about the Islamist threat (especially when it comes with a heavy dose of humor and readability, as it does in this book). I’ll be interested to see if The New York Times and the other self-appointed guardians of literary respectability review it. I hope they do: This is a book everybody should read.
Like Douglas Farah, I roll my eyes when I hear apologist groups airbrushing the meaning of the word “jihad.” The historical sources I’ve seen indicate that the word has always refered primarily to a military campaign against infidels, not some touchy-feely Oprah-type journey of self-reflection.