Two Americas? Or Two Visions of America?

Mona Charen has a fantastic and fascinating take on Michelle Obama’s Fearful Vision on National Review Online. Read all the way to the end; it’s a great demonstration of one of the ways this country so often rises above those who would destroy it.

The Greatest Threat Facing Our Country

The single greatest threat facing the United States is probably not what you think. In the Cold War, the greatest threat was that of an all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Most people today would probably say the risk is a terrorist attack involving WMDs. In our worst nightmares, we tend to picture a CNN news flash, a mushroom cloud over a major city, and maybe a million dead Americans. In fact, as great as that threat is, it is nothing compared to what a single (yes, one) nuclear weapon in the upper atmosphere could do. A high-altitude nuclear detonation over the United States has the potential to create a continent-wide electromagnetic pulse, or EMP. This would knock out power, phone, and other utilities, take out a number of nearby satellites, and cripple nearly everything with an electric circuit… permanently. No phone, no internet, no television, no lights, no cars, no credit card readers, no gas pumps, no stock market, no banking: a pre-electronic world. Experts say this kind of attack would effectively return most or all of a technology-driven country like the United States to the nineteenth century in an instant. While relatively few people would die in the moments after such an attack, the death toll from starvation, dehydration, lack of medical services, and fire over the following months would make disasters like Katrina, the 2004 tsunami, and the recent Chinese earthquake look mild.

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Dobbs: Not so Smart

Lou Dobbs has a new whine, titled “Not so smart when it comes to the Middle East.” You don’t really have to read it; basically, Americans are blundering, isolationist idiots, and the current war is all our fault for not subsidizing Lebanon (a.k.a., Western Syria) as heavily as Israel. Enjoy the read, if you can.

Hotel Bombings in Jordan

Terrorists today detonated bombs at three Western hotels in Amman, Jordan. Details here. This is disturbing; it seems the horror and stupidity of suicide bombing, once unleashed on the world, can never be rebottled. It’s also personally disturbing; I’ve been to two of the three hotels.

Brian Leiter, Political Incompetent

For those who don’t know, Brian Leiter is a University of Texas law and philosophy professor. His information on law school rankings and the academic job market may be great, but his political theory is horrible. In his latest post, John Howard the Ostrich, he tries to argue that foreign policy – of any nation – ought to be determined by the goals of that nation’s enemies. He argues, among other things, that the U.S. should have pulled its military forces out of Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, in order to prevent attacks like those of 9/11/01, naïvely believing that those forces are only there to prop up the Saudi royals. Of course, this same logic would imply that Churchill should have surrendered British sovereignty to Hitler, to avoid the blitz, or that a duly elected Lincoln should have been impeached in the Senate, to avoid civil war.

Leiter even complains about the use of strawmen, even as he deliberately misinterprets the comments of Howard and others. At least, I assume it’s deliberate, because I give Leiter credit for more intelligence than he shows in this essay. Nobody is arguing that the current war in Iraq inspired the Bali bombings or the September 11 attacks, obviously. Howard’s point is that terrorism against Westerners and Western nations is motivated by an ideology, not by specific actions. Leiter, apparently, does not credit those who disagree with him with much intelligence.

Perhaps I’m wrong, and Leiter really has convinced himself that appeasement makes sense. Perhaps he really believes that satisfying terrorist groups – by destroying Israel, withdrawing the U.S. military from all foreign locations, and implementing Shari’a (Muslim law) in the United States – is the best, most logical way to avoid terrorist attacks. I think he’s smarter than that, though, in which case he’s just venting political nonsense for the sake of being, well, political.

It’s Not Just in the US of A

No, bureaucrats do stupid things, everywhere. It turns out that UK officials prevented the US from interrogating one Haroon Rashid Aswat, one month before the London bombings; of course, it turns out Aswat was lending support to the bombers. Details on CNN.com.

Do terrorists really hate freedom?

That’s the question posed (and answered, tongue-in-cheek, Trudeau-style) in today’s Doonesbury strip. It’s actually a really good question, so I’ll offer my answer.

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Death in London, Madness in Iraq

This morning, as I’m sure you’ve heard, four bombs exploded in the London transit system, killing at least 33 and wounding hundreds. A group calling itself the “Secret Organization Group of al Qaeda of Jihad in Europe” is claiming responsibility. Also, this morning, the al Qaeda organization in Iraq claims that it has killed the Egyptian envoy to Iraq.

Speaking as somebody who has spent a fair amount of time in the Muslim world, I really can’t fathom what the terrorists who committed these crimes might be thinking. So many of the motivations cited – for example, the “facts” that there are 101 Jewish United States Senators, one I heard surprisingly frequently, and that the CIA sends huge numbers of Christian missionaries to the Middle East to convert Muslims – are obviously wrong.

The stated goals are usually ridiculous, as well – some of my Muslim friends told me that the 9/11 victims weren’t innocent, because they should have pulled American troops out of the Arab peninsula. Most of the time, my efforts to explain that American democracy does not mean that each citizen has personal, governmental powers fell on deaf ears.

Of course, some moonbats are claiming that this is because the United States failed to go after terrorists in the aftermath of 9/11, instead launching quixotic campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Right.

Meanwhile, the Democratic governor of Virginia, Mark Warner, on Wednesday decided to blast Bush for failing to unite the country in a “call to common purpose,” after 9/11. I thought, at first, that Warner surely meant Bush should have built more support for the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, so they would not become divisive. No, Warner meant that 9/11 presented an opportunity to work on health care and the deficit. Instead, for some inexplicable reason, Bush used to the sense of unity, post-9/11, to actually deal with the problem of 9/11. You know, Karl Rove was right.

America – the whole world, really – needs to snap out of it. After the 1993 WTC bombing, after the attack on the USS Cole, after 9/11, after the Madrid bombings, and after two intifadas, more than half of the citizens of democratic nations still don’t get it. Our enemies don’t care if we’re nicer to them; our enemies don’t care if they die fighting us; our enemies will never stop. If we are attacked again – and we will be – and if, huddling together in fear, we decide to talk about health care and the deficit, rather than how we will prevent more senseless death and carnage, we are all doomed.