Work and Days

The War, here and abroad, goes on

Insult to Injury

The worst thing about the global oil spike brought on by increased consumption is not worries over global warming, or the idea that the United States is not “energy independent” (Japan does not overly worry that it must rely on others for food), but that our thirst has driven up the world price–and with it the importance of the Middle East while sending half-a-trillion dollars in petroprofits to a primordial region.

And now we are seeing the wages of that circulating cash, as the Gulf monarchies are racing to acquire nuclear reactors ($4 billion a pop) to counter Iran’s soon to be on-line nuclear arsenal.

In other words, a region that has neither the innate economic resources to fund such a program nor the scientific expertise to see it through nor the stability that is the precursor for economic development, has the cash from oil (that someone else found, exploited, and developed) to buy Western help in creating the very weapons that might soon be turned against the West.

The idea of a nuclear Wahhabi State, nearby a nuclear theocracy in Iran, with nuclear Pakistan looking over their shoulders is horrific—especially when coupled with Western appeasement as evidenced by many European diplomats deploring the “militarization” of their continent by US offers to base an ABM shield in Eastern Europe, and the culturally relativistic arguments that if the Western powers are nuclear (US, France, UK, Israel), who is to say a Sharia-run Saudi Arabia or 7th-century Iran should not likewise be? The fact is that already we are confronted with the nightmare that the majority of nuclear powers in the world today is (with India) only democratic by a small margin, and the illiberal states are multiplying and may soon compose an antithetical majority—Russia, China, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran?.

We have the worst choice of leaving this mess to our children who will be faced with both oil and atomic extortion, or the bad one of dealing with it now when the will to is nearly nonexistent in the West. A 1939 all over again. When reading jihadist websites, one is struck not about their worries over the morality of preempting and using a nuclear device against a Western city but only the practicality of carrying it out.

The Re-Reconquista?

The recent explosions in Algeria and Morocco, coupled with al Qaeda’s boast that “We will not be in peace until we set our foot again in our beloved al-Andalus” and the fact that the Madrid train bombing was pulled off by nearby North Africans, should remind Spain that distancing itself from the US, withdrawing from Iraq, and electing a pacifist socialist Prime Minster will only ensure violence.

Jihadists believe that Europeans are weak and can be intimidated into concessions and near paralysis until demography and terrorism win over the continent—either by elections of pro-Islamist governments or by the creation on near autonomous Muslim enclaves as we see in Paris and in some cities in the Netherlands and Sweden. We already see the symptoms of such Jihadization in the European hostility voiced toward Israel, its cheap anti-Americanism, and virtual disarmament.

Our attitude toward all this? A hard call. Our hearts say, “Let them go, and pull out all American bases. Let them defend themselves and become emasculated neutrals now, and vassal state later if that is their wish.”

Our heads counter, “Not so fast. Only American engagement keeps Europe safe and for a while longer a neutral rather than an outright belligerent.”

But what is fascinating is the continual European delusion that radical Islam is a consequence mostly of righteous hatred of George Bush’s United States, and thus that their own multiculturalism will win exemption rather than greater contempt for its cravenness. These Euros remind me of 1930s fascists in Great Britain or France who believed that their influential presence ensured Hitler would never attack their countries.

Lost Chances

Had Imus said the following he’d still have his job:

“There’s something sad about a 67-year-old, wealthy white man adopting the rap talk of the black underclass to playact at sounding hip. So I’m taking a voluntary two-week suspension. I need it to go back and review where I’ve gone wrong. This ‘ho’ comment was a wake-up call that I’ve been bullying too many for too long. It wasn’t just that I’ve allowed a lot of racist and anti-Semitic banter on this show, but they’ve all been cheap shots, aimed at those who didn’t deserve it or couldn’t fight back. So I’m going to stop it. I’ll be just as tough, but attack with a little more class and a little less cowardice.”

And had Jackson and Sharpton said the following they wouldn’t be the laughing stocks they’ve become after the latest round of notoriety.

“Don Imus’s fall reminded us that we’ve go to be careful too. We’ve both called Jews all sorts of things and gotten away with it when we shouldn’t have. We will stop that. Don Imus’s slurs can’t hurt black people, only we can do that. If ‘words matter’, we better start going after rappers and comics and all the rest who use ‘hos’ and ‘niggas’ more in one day than all white people do in a year. “

And had the Duke President written the following, he might restore some shred of respect for his fallen institution.

We all rushed to judgment on the Lacrosse team, no more than this president. The university is always interested in protecting women, minorities and the poor, and that laudable concern clouded our vision as we outdid each other to prove our liberality at the expense of the innocent, whose reputations we ruined as we did our own. Duke is devoted to creating a liberal society, but it can’t do that if it loses its higher allegiance to the truth. And for that lapse, the administration and faculty are profoundly sorry for their conduct.”

And finally the major media outlets and entertainment CEOs could offer their own mea culpas.

“Don Imus did not emerge in a vacuum. We knew what he had been saying for years, but we figured it earned us money so we let it go on. The same is true of the slurs and racist language of our recording artists. Likewise we put up it because it makes us profits That’s wrong too. So rather than just firing Imus, we simply won’t air or record anyone who uses filthy racist language. Call it censorship if you want, but we think belatedly changing the foul climate we’ve created by promoting such slurs is worth the risk.”

A New Low

Of all the past pathologies of the New York Times—Jason Blair, the leaks of classified information, the Bush-hating dressed up as news stories on the front pages, the monotony of the editorial page—nothing quite epitomizes its fall as the following quote in the midst of the Duke rape hysteria:

“The full files, reviewed by The New York Times, contain evidence stronger than that highlighted by the defense.”

Will they at least “leak” the “full files” and then explain to us how they make the now dropped case “stronger.” And if they won’t do that, will they at least apologize for their character assassination?

Outtake # 12—No Man A Slave

The battle of Leuktra is over. But there is an immediate furor over what to do with the trapped Spartan survivors. Let them go? Or attack again in the night to ensure the army is annihilated rather than merely defeated—and thus able one day to restart the war? Melon wants Epaminondas to take the army out again and storm the camp of the Spartans, despite the darkness and the Theban dead and wounded.

“Enough of this idle talk.” Melon wasn’t looking at Epaminondas, whom he had come, if begrudgingly, to see as a like spirit. No, he turned to his friends who advised caution.

So he arose again, picked up his shield, and barked, “Then go to Pelopidas. Reform the ranks such as they are. Tonight, we all together, one more time, all of us on this long day, we will kill this Lichas. And then the army must turn and meet the other army on the coast in the days to come. If the light is already gone, we can at least muster the troops by the fire of torches. So we wake ready for battle at dawn. I did not ask to fight this battle. But once here, I want to finish what we started. Yes, I prefer to go home to Helikon without worry that Lichas is waiting in my vineyard with more of the krypteria.”

Proxenos cut in. With the keen eye of the builder who sees a course of stone out of plumb, he let loose his own tirade at the sloppiness of his friend’s logic.

“With what? Count us! Most have gone home as we already said. We have no more than 2,000— if that still. Good men all. But not everyone is alive who was this morning. And fewer still can stand in battle like you Melon. The best are dead or will be. There are far more than Antitheos, and Peukôn and Charon that lay over there and the flies are on them already. My Plataian Lakon, of our city’s oldest family, has his throat slashed and he won’t make it until dawn. The work of Lichas again. And 100 of these men from the demes on the saddle of Kithairon are already gone. Sour Philliadas has done his hard work and taken his bunch back to Tanagra. No, our Ainias, even without his charts and maps is right. Have words with this Lichas and we will let him run in shame out of Boiotia to spread the word of our valor. ”

Melon gave a final try, “The Spartan lion is wounded. But he is not dead. And here we are like little boys repeating the fears of greybeards that such beasts are more dangerous when trapped and wounded. They are not. And we are not children who thrust sticks through the bars at caged animals. No, we are men with the greatest army Hellas has seen in our time! This Lichas and what is left of Kleombrotos’s army can be finished off now, right tonight or at dawn as it thrashes in our nets. But if it limps home, well then like every wounded beast of your fables, it will lick its wounds to healing. And, of course, it will come back stronger than ever and eager for revenge. Our leniency will win from this animal not thanks for the respite, but contempt for our hesitation—and as it should.”