Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Condi Talks Sense

Unfortunately it is in the context of responding to Clinton's criticism but this NY Post article has some worthwhile arguments. (The first half of the article is a waste of time, but read it if you think Clinton's opinion of the war on terror is worth noting or rebutting. It gets good after the bullet points.)

Asked about recently leaked internal U.S. intelligence estimates that claimed the Iraq war was fueling terrorist recruiting, Rice said: "Now that we're fighting back, of course they are fighting back, too."

"I find it just extraordinary that the argument is, all right, so they're using the fact they're being challenged in the Middle East and challenged in Iraq to recruit, therefore you've made the war on terrorism worse.

"It's as if we were in a good place on Sept. 11. Clearly, we weren't," she added.

"These are people who want to fight against us, and they're going to find a reason. And yes, they will recruit, but it doesn't mean you stop pursuing strategies that are ultimately going to stop them," Rice said.

She insisted U.S. forces must finish the job in Iraq and the wider Middle East to wipe out the "root cause" of violent extremism - not just the terror thugs who carry out the attacks.

"It's a longer-term strategy, and it may even have some short-term down side, but if you don't look at the longer term, you're just leaving the problem to somebody else," she said.

She also said Middle East countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have a "major educational reform" effort under way to root out propaganda literature and extremist brainwashing.

In Latin America, home to outrageous Venezuelan bomb thrower Hugo Chavez, Rice said the U.S. approach is to "spend as little time possible in talking about Chavez and more time talking about our positive agenda in Latin America," including several trade agreements.
My biggest beef with the Bush administration is not that they've mishandled the war on terror (everyone makes mistakes) but that they've consistently failed to argue the cause. Yes, there have been many talking points, but the times when we have been offered an actual argument like the one above have been few and usually, as in this case, in response to someone else's criticism. In fact that doesn't only apply to justifying the war. This administration has had many missed opportunities to make the conservative case for any of its positions.

This may seem like a minor peeve, but consider that the alternative to persuasion is force. In a democracy, the failure to make a persuasive case leads ultimately to tyranny or to civil war. We have a lot of intellectual capital to squander yet before either of those alternatives becomes immanent, but still we have squandered too much of it over the last few decades for my comfort.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Demolition Company Rebuts 9/11 Conspiracy Claims

I really don't want to get involved in the whole debate about the supposed "Controlled Demolition" of the twin towers, but a couple of recent friends have been talking about this lately and I am often willing to read things that otherwise don't interest me for friendship's sake. So, for those of you who want a concise and readable refutation of some of the claims of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, go here.

(Via 9/11 Conspiracy Smasher)

(Note: The article linked by Smasher was evidently an earlier one that has since been updated and the name and link has been changed. The link I have provided is current as of 9/7/06 but may change due to future updates. Go to Protec's home page if that happens and search for the paper on the World Trade Center.)

Upgrading Vietnam

Evidently the US is on the verge of removing Vietnam from its list of violators of religious liberty. (I received this story via email from Voice of the Martyrs but it is also posted here.)

Following an August 15-18 visit to Vietnam by U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom John Hanford, indications are that Vietnam will be taken off the U.S. list of the world's worst religious liberty offenders. With the planned September 2nd release from prison of key Hmong Christian leader Ma Van Bay -- described as "propaganda exercises" by one human rights advocate -- various releases by the Vietnam News Agency signal that Vietnamese officials expected Ambassador Hanford to take good news of religious liberty progress back to Washington. Vietnam's presence on the list of "Countries of Particular Concern" has remained a barrier to its membership in the World Trade Organization. According to representatives of the majority of Protestants in Vietnam -- who remain unregistered and thus illegal -- while there have been some modest and spotty improvements, there is still no clear indication of a breakthrough or even that reform is uniform and systematic. They also note that not one of the many officials who have broken Vietnam's laws in mistreating Christians has yet been charged.
[Emphasis mine]

I am not sure how much of an incentive membership in the WTO is for Vietnam. Most likely the theory here is that we can use the carrot of membership to get them to clean up their act. The question is, once they are in, will there be any incentive to maintain even such limited human rights concessions? I think not and it will be difficult to get any other world leaders to make noise since they will all be too busy patting themselves on the back over this success.

But, in the short term, evangelists like Ma Van Bay will be free to do their work which, in turn, will have a much greater impact on the long-term than that of diplomats like Hanford. It is one evidence of God's grace that dictators nearly always underestimate the power of the Gospel. Communist regimes like Vietnam, being blind to all but material causes, can tell that Christianity is dangerous to their pathetic little tyrranies, but they have no idea how dangerous. They are selling their future for a mess of pottage like the WTO, and don't even know it.