Another “modest proposal” from John Podhoretz

It’s elegant and simple – why didn’t we think of it earlier? Just butcher the Sunnis en masse.

What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn’t kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn’t the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

If you can’t imagine George W. Bush issuing such an order, is there any American leader you could imagine doing so?

And if America can’t do it, can Israel? Could Israel – even hardy, strong, universally conscripted Israel – possibly stomach the bloodshed that would accompany the total destruction of Hezbollah?

Oh dear. It’s nice to see relatively conservative bloggers take offense at such blatant barbarism.

It’s quite sad that the son of an accomplished, prestigious American intellectual would muse so innocuously about the merits of mass butchery–basically the wholesale slaughter of a broad demographic of an ethnic group writ large–a policy prescription that is quasi-genocidal in nature. John should think of previous genocides in this century, in such contexts, as he ponderously queries the pros and cons of the extermination of entire population groups. Where is the decency? It’s repulsive, really. There is also his revealing reasoning that “even hardy, strong, universally conscripted Israel”, yes even she, might not have the guts to do such a thing. Quelle dommage! Yes, even an unflagging, staunch, indefatigable society like that of the Israelis doesn’t have the cojones to do this kind of thing. Western civilization truly is imperiled, the hand-wringing goes.

It is definitely a most peculiar time in America, when suggestions such as Podhoretz’s can be made so casually, and find audience in our mass media. In the past, we strove to keep such thoughts to ourselves, or to tell them to the priest in the confessional and beg for forgiveness. Now the calls for bloodshed and even interment and extermination are made in broad daylight, with no shame or reluctance. Of course, J-Pod will later say he was “just joking,” as Ann Coulter always does after she calls for extermination. Real funny, no?

Check out Belgravia Dispatch to see how Instacracker helped push this story through the blogosphere in a particularly insidious manner, using sly verbal devices to absolve himself of any responsibility for promoting genocide. Slick, very slick.


Maureen Dowd: Fetch, Heel, Stall

Fetch, Heel, Stall
Published: July 29, 2006

Oops, they did it again. That pesky microphone problem that plagued George W. Bush and Tony Blair in St. Petersburg struck again at their White House news conference yesterday. The president told technicians to make sure his real thoughts would not be overheard this time, but somehow someone forgot to turn off the feed to my office. As a public service, I’d like to reprint the candid under-their-breath mutterings they exchanged in between their public utterances.

THE PRESIDENT: “The prime minister and I have committed our governments to a plan to make every effort to achieve a lasting peace out of this crisis.”



Big trouble

Quote of the day. And it’s from a former pro-Iraq, pro-Bush pundit.

The president’s press conference with Blair today struck me as revealing – and not in a good way. Bush is right on the basic issue. He grasps the nature of the enemy. But he is so out of his depth – rhetorically, strategically, politically, intellectually – that it is hard to have much confidence in his leadership. This is one reason why I couldn’t endorse him for a second term. He is an incompetent. He is too incompetent to lead the West at this time. He is simply without the skills to navigate the very treacherous waters we are all now in. He is being outmaneuvered at every turn by wily enemies who are becoming more dangerous and emboldened by the day.

Bush, in a word, is overwhelmed. He has no idea what to do except return to the catechism of freedom versus terror, like an ideological security blanket. Of course that is what this is about. The trouble is: freedom is being defended by the incompetent and the clueless. In Bush’s blank, bewildered eyes, you see the image of someone who is finally beginning to see reality. And it’s something with which he simply cannot cope. Our enemies, moreover, see the weakness in the president and they are ruthlessly exploiting it. And we have more than two years left to survive.

When you contemplate the fact that we are facing one of the most complex and explosive moments in the history of mankind, and that the captain of the ship is a frightened frat boy – well, it’s pretty disconcerting. The sky really is falling, at least in the Middle East. And if it falls there, it has major repercussions around the world, and for America’s future. Anyone who dismisses these concerns as alarmist isn’t watching. Over the past few weeks, there has been a massive turning of the tide, and even Bush’s most loyal supporters have jumped ship and admitted Iraq was a miserable failure. The implications for Israel are enormous as Iraq continues to move into the camp of Israel’s greatest enemy, Iran, and as Lebanon evolves (devolves?) from an emerging democracy into a radicalized hornet’s nest sworn to help destroy Israel. “Complicated” puts it mildly. In many ways, it’s the perfect storm, and we have one man to thank for making it possible by emasculating US influence. And all we can do is hope and pray that over the next two years the damage he inflicts is less catastopic than that which he has inflicted in his first six years. And I wouldn’t place any bets.


Earthquake hits Taipei

About 1.5 hours ago, our building started swaying as I was giving a presentation on blogging to my staff. Usually these little earthquakes last a few seconds, but this time the swaying and shaking continued – the Venetian blinds rocked back and forth, and you could see the walls moving. It went on for a full 40 seconds or so, a very long time for an earthquake here.

Which brings me to how the media is covering it. From Forbes:

An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale struck Taiwan at 3:40 pm local time today , the Central Weather Bureau said.

The tremor’s epicentre was 5.0 kilometres under the seabed and was located 82.2 kilometres southeast of the northeastern coastal town of Nanao in Ilan County, the bureau said.

High rise buildings swayed during the quake but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Same story, from Xinhua:

An earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale hit China’s Taiwan Friday, shaking buildings in Taipei, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties, according to media reports from Taipei.

Anybody catch the difference? (Hint: it’s in bold.)


“The quacking canards of the minuscule Peking Duck faction”

When earlier this week I pointed readers to Danwei to read Philip Cunningham’s response to comments on his being bounced from the Chinapol listserve, I specifically urged readers to avoid insult or snark.

Danwei has opened the door for Philip Cunningham to reply to commenters who responded to news of his banishment from Chinapol. [If you plan to go there to comment that’s your choice, but I urge you to avoid insults and snark, and keep the conversation relevant to the topic. Ad hominems and anonymous emotional outbursts only give Philip ammunition to position himself as a martyr, and to point to obnoxious commenters as haters.]

That thread has been closed and Philip has the last word. Ever gracious and polite, here’s how he references this blog in his final comment.

I don’t believe the handful of self-aggrandizing China-bashers on Chinapol and its small contingent of hard-core neo-cons represents the vast majority of Chinapolers any more than the quacking canards of the minuscule Peking Duck faction represent Danwei’s diverse readership, but in both cases the conversation spoilers wait poised, ready to attack any one who deviates from their own grim worldview. This essentially makes sustained dialogue difficult if not impossible.

And later:

As for the quacking of the Peking Duck faction, mired in an expired paradigm of Cold War belligerence, this tiny group of China-can-do-no-right commenters offered mostly snark and awe diversion, acting out in an amusingly predictable way the sort of identify crisis that comes with a paradigm shift as I alluded to in the opening comments.

You see, we are “quacking canards,” bogged down in our Cold War mentality. Mao had his Filthy Stinking 9th, BCPC (Brilliant and Charming Philip Cunningham) has his Quacking Canard. We are instantly and systematically robbed of any intellectual worth because we fall into this Cold Warrior category. None of our questions are answered – we are dismissed as contemptible. As to dialogue being impossible: I have repeatedly tried to engage BCPC, both on Danwei and Joseph Bosco’s blog, but my very specific and rather tame questions were always ignored. Of course dialogue is impossible: BCPC only knows how to change the subject.

About my being a Cold Warrior… Obviously, Philip knows nothing about me or this site. I went to China with stars in my eyes, dazzled by the positive coverage China was receiving in 2001 for its economic miracle, its selection for the Olympics, its apparent trend to greater openness and a host of other factors that convinced me “China is the place to be.” In some ways, I still believe it’s the place to be – but my belief that it was becoming freer and its government reforming was quickly shattered. None of my disdain for the CCP is a product of Cold War mentality, only of recent personal experience. That BCPC has the nerve to make such blanket assumptions and generalizations is galling, but not at all surprising. As I said before, he truly follows the model of our troll “Jessica Copeland” – any criticism of the Chinese government stems from X or Y (for BCPC, it’s Cold War brainwashing, for Jessica it’s Christian brainwashing). They will not even consider that perhaps we are critical because we have seen with our own eyes the injustices of which the CCP is capable. Just as I have seen the outrages of my own president. Others who make observations similar to my own are Rebecca Mackinnon, John Pomfret, Philip Pan, Joseph Kahn, Howard French,Xiao Qiang, Sophie Beach and countless other intelligent liberals. Are we all infected with an indelible Cold Warrior sickness?



China’s media taking free speech seriously

A very good look at how free today’s media in China really are (or are not). China’s media are definitely getting bolder. Will the trend continue, or will another ax fall?

YOU might think that China’s media have been having a hard time in recent months: editors sacked, reporters jailed, new curbs announced on what they can report, new clampdowns on the internet. But is it as bad as it sounds? Even as the authorities attempt to tighten controls, the media keep fighting back.

The picture is much more varied than that suggested by Reporters Without Borders, a Paris-based pressure group, in a report this year. It said a government faced with growing social unrest had imposed a news blackout. “The press has been forced into self-censorship, the internet purged and foreign media kept at a distance.�

In the last month, however, several media organisations, including some affiliated with the government, have been unusually outspoken in their criticisms of government censorship. Far from subdued, some newspapers and their websites have been airing a lively debate about how far these controls should go.

As with everything having to do with China, there are all sorts of contradictions and gray areas when it comes to the Chinese media; generalizations simply don’t work. In my own experience, back in 2002-3, I found a surprising level of media freedom in the niche publications, like medical and scientific journals, and I was surprised at how open even the mainstream media were on occasion. And then SARS hit like a lead pipe, and we all saw how quickly the government could stop the presses and control the information. Still, the momentum ever since that catastophe ended has been basically positive, despite the occasional hiccup, like the recent ban on reporting unofficial stories on natural disasters.

Via CDT.


Paul Krugman: Reign of Error

Bravo, Paul.

Reign of Error
Published: July 28, 2006

Amid everything else that’s going wrong in the world, here’s one more piece of depressing news: a few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda.

At one level, this shouldn’t be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don’t like have been established, whether it’s the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole.



Thomas Friedman: On the Eve of Madness

Quite simply the best column Friedman’s ever written.

On the Eve of Madness
Published: July 28, 2006

Over Turkish coffee the other morning, I picked up a copy of The Syria Times, the local English-language paper, and my eye immediately went to a small box at the top of the front page. It said, “The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity … P. 5.”

I thought: What a perfect way to describe the Middle East today – going back to some pre-modern era? Alas, The Syria Times was not trying to be ironic. It turned out the headline was the title of a book about Aleppo in the 18th century. But had it been a news headline it would have been apt.



Chinese photographs

Quite exquisite – works of art. Just keep scrolling.

chinese gazers.jpg
(Click to enlarge.)

Via Chief Asia Inspector, who also led me to this photography site with some other breathtaking images of China (you have to dig through the various galleries – well worth the wait as the photos load).


Does the Dalai Lama work from the CIA?

That’s what China is claiming in an official document that deals a serious blow to recent hopes for some kind of rapprochement between the CCP and His Holiness.

An official Chinese commentary accused the Dalai Lama on Wednesday of collaborating with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, rejecting the Tibetan leader’s overtures and casting a shadow over fence-mending talks.

The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has proposed a ‘Middle Way’ policy seeking autonomy but not independence for Tibet. But the online edition of the China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece, rejected the Dalai Lama’s overtures in an unsigned commentary.

“In the name of ‘organizing armed troops to fight their way back into Tibet’, he collaborated with the Indian military and American CIA to organize the ‘Indian Tibetan special border troops’,”‘ the commentary said without elaborating.

The CIA trained up to 400 Tibetan exiles at military bases in Colorado, Okinawa and Guam after the Dalai Lama fled into exile as part of a U.S.-funded guerrilla war against China, which occupied Tibet in 1950, the Chicago Tribune reported in 1997.

The guerrillas were parachuted back into Tibet where they waged an unsuccessful campaign against the Communists. American involvement ended in 1968 before detente between the two giants.

The commentary accused the Dalai Lama, a Nobel peace laureate, of building up a rebel army in Nepal, and setting up offices and organizations abroad that have fanned separatism.

Of course, anyone who stands up to the CCP, like our Falun Dafa friends, at some point is accused of working with or for the CIA, though in this instance it sounds like there might be at least some grounds for suspecting a connection, even if it occurred nearly 40 years ago. But the CIA and the rest of America became resigned to China’s “liberation” of Tibet decades ago, and the idea that the CIA would be collaborating with the Dalai Lama now is pretty ridiculous. (Collaborating to achieve what?)

Via CDT.