Monday, June 30, 2008

Desmond Tutu, Neocon

It took a few years, but Archbishop Desmond Tutu is finally coming around to the idea of using military force to topple dictators and liberate their subjects.

In an interview with the BBC, Archbishop Tutu urged the international community to intervene in Zimbabwe, and said he would support the deployment of a UN force to restore order in the country.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, the former anti-apartheid leader said: "I think that a very good argument can be made for having an international force to restore peace."

This is a welcome development. And if the Archbishop’s going to be consistent, then we can shortly expect him to revisit his opposition to the Iraq war, and perhaps even confer retrospective approval on the Bush administration.

Tutu was an outspoken opponent of the invasion. Like many others he was critical of the flawed intelligence that was used to justify the war. However, he also contemptuously dismissed the secondary justification for the invasion – regime change.

This is what he said in a speech in London in February 2004.
‘But if now the reason being trumpeted for the war is regime change, why there and not for example, Burma? Or North Korea? And who makes the decision about which regimes should be changed? And what authority do they have to do whatever they think, may think is right? Or is it a matter of might is right, and to hell with the rule of international law?’
Leaving aside the silly and disingenuous argument that ‘if we can’t intervene everywhere we shouldn’t intervene anywhere’, and that the coalition had a sound legal basis on which to take action against Iraq, Apparently Tutu has apparently now conferred on himself the authority to decide which regimes should be changed.

Doubtless the Archbishop would protest that Zimbabwe is a different situation from Iraq. He might claim that his international force won’t be going in to effect regime change, but simply to restore order and safeguard the distribution of aid. Any intervention would, of course, spell the end of Mugabe’s rule.

Some might howl at this blatant double standard, accusing the Archbishop of deciding that intervention is okay, just as long as it's not America doing the intervening. And they might point out that if past experience with African 'peace-keeping' forces is anything to go by, the women and children of Zimbabwe are likely to be in as much danger from their liberators as they are from Mugabe's gangs.

But I prefer to celebrate the news that Archbishop Tutu has finally accepted the reality that sometimes, regrettably, it’s necessary to take military action against bad people in order to save innocent lives and establish democracy, up to and including killing anyone who gets in the way (His Grace hasn’t as yet gone into specifics as to the rules of engagement under which his ‘international force’ will operate, but I’m assuming that if they come under fire from Mugabe’s thugs, he’ll allow them to defend themselves).

This is quite an about-turn for the veteran human rights campaigner. In addition to opposing the Iraq war, Archbishop Tutu has been a vocal critic of Guantanamo and the military tribunals system. He’s also attacked Israel, going so far as to compare Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank with apartheid. However, he’s been such a powerful force for good in Africa, standing up to dictators of every political stripe, whether black or white, with equal forcefulness, that we can perhaps forgive him the occasional anti-American or anti-Israel outburst.

His Grace, like many soft-left types, appears to be motivated by a frustration with injustice, both real and imagined, and by the notion that if we just show kindness to evil people, then they’ll stop being evil. Despite the fact that they share a fondness for the Israel/apartheid analogy, I would certainly set him apart from bitter, hate-filled leftists like Jimmy Carter (who, lest we forget, played a key role in bringing Mugabe to power).

And anyway, it appears that His Grace’s anti-intervention days are now behind him. Many prominent neocons started out as lefties, and Archbishop Tutu appears to be the latest to see the light. Now I'm looking forward to his 'Why we can't let Iran get the bomb' speech.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Afghan biofuels: a magic bullet for energy security?

Two of my pet subjects are the war on terror and global warming, and they overlap in the area of energy independence. While I'm a global warming skeptic, I do think that for security reasons the West needs to wean itself off Middle Eastern oil by developing alternative energy sources.

Reading about the struggle to discourage Afghan farmers from growing poppies for the heroin trade, I've wondered for a while whether it would be feasible to get them to grow biofuel crops instead, which would have the multiple benefits of reducing the supply of heroin, cutting off funding for terrorists, helping the Afghan economy and producing energy without diverting farmland from food production.

It turns out that people a lot smarter than me have been thinking the same thing, and I have a piece on the subject up at Pajamas Media, which you can read here.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama is now the only obstacle to victory

Matthew Continetti has a piece up at The Weekly Standard on the clear signs of progress being made in the War on Terror, and he rightly gives much of the credit to the policies of President Bush. And it's not just the jihadists that are being defeated – it's also those who opposed the President for political expediency. Continetti writes:

The left's analysis of jihadism has been proved incorrect at every turn. It argued military power would be ineffective against the terrorists. Wrong. It argued that intervention in Iraq would energize bin Laden's movement. That movement is in shambles. The left argued Iraq was a lost cause. It isn't. The left argues that a "war on terrorism" is futile, that defeat is inevitable, because terrorism is a "tactic," not an enemy. Nonsense. President Bush has demonstrated through perseverance and (more often than not) sound policy that the war on terror can be won. And right now we're winning it.

A Barack Obama presidency, however, could still enable the jihadists to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, and would also encourage Iran to step up its efforts to cause mayhem in Iraq. Lebanon and elsewhere. With the help of his supporters in the media, Obama is already attempting to airbrush his record of defeatism and misjudgment over both Iraq and Iran (see this piece, by Danielle Pletka, also at The Weekly Standard, for an account of Obama's evolving Iran position).

He may not be allowed to get away with it. As Jennifer Rubin, discussing Obama's U-turn on Iran at Commentary magazine's Contentions blog writes:

In short, the road back to the middle of the road will be treacherous for Obama. As he tries to moderate his views, on Iran most clearly, he will, it seems, face frequent reminders from the McCain camp that the new positions seem adopted especially for the general election. In a world of YouTube and Google, not to mention campaign websites, the job of the McCain camp is made much easier.

The left, unfortunately, will likely prove more resolute than the jihadists. While Islamic extremists can be killed, their bases destroyed and their ideology discredited in the Muslim world, the left will simply fine-tune its tactics in its relentless war on America and the West. And seizing the White House would be the first step on the road to victory.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Hugh Hewitt on Obama's rhetorical style

Hugh Hewitt recently did a wonderful takedown of Obama's rhetorical style which you really ought to listen to. It's funny, but also extremely incisive. Bottom line: most of the time Obama has no idea what he's talking about.

Go here. The clip you want is number 29, hour 2 of the May 20 show (clip number 28, which is hour 3, is titled 'Obama audio' but it's clip 29, 'Dean Barnett', that you want).

The essence of Hugh's analysis starts at around 7 minutes and lasts about 3 minutes, but you should listen from the start to get the context, and listen to the rest of the hour, and hour 3, if you have the time.

Someone with more time and expertise than me needs to put this on YouTube, with a slideshow of shots from Obama rallies.

Muslim gangs threaten UK prisons; government responds with 'diversity events'

I have a piece up at Pajamas Media on the British government's typically insipid, politically-correct response to the news that Muslim gangs are threatening to take over a high security prison:

Faced with the threat of violence from gangs — Muslim or otherwise — prison officers at Whitemoor would probably prefer Tasers and pepper spray to development days, focus groups, and diversity events, but the official response is entirely in keeping with the muddled thinking that pervades Gordon Brown’s government when it comes to dealing with Islamic extremism. Ministers appear torn between trying to reassure the public that they’re being tough on terror on the one hand, and avoiding causing offense to “moderate” Muslims on the other — notwithstanding the fact that genuinely moderate Muslims shouldn’t be offended by reasonable measures taken to protect British citizens from terror attacks.

You can read the article here.