Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wisdom from a coffee cup...

“Everywhere, unthinking mobs of ‘independent thinkers’ wield tired clichés like cudgels, pummeling those who dare questioning ‘enlightened’ dogma. If ‘violence never solved anything,’ cops wouldn’t have gun and slaves may never have been freed. If it’s better that 10 guilty men go free to spare one innocent, why not free 100 or 1,000,000? Cliches begin arguments, they don’t settle them.”
-- Jonah Goldberg, Editor-at-large of the National Review Online

It is true, there is nothing I detest more than lame clichés carted out to convey an argument that is so weakly constructed that it needs said cliché to add force. By far my favorite cliché of the last several years is: “There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” Say what you want about George W. Bush, but a wordsmith, he is not. People said they wanted a "common man" President, and they sure got what they asked for. I am not sure whether President Clinton was one of the most eloquent Presidents of the modern era, or he just looks great when compared to Dubya. I don’t want this blog posting to get into a spit of the President rant. I do that enough, and it really isn’t the point.

What Mr. Goldberg has laid out so eloquently is the collapse of oratorical and written debate skills. The ability of persuasion is dead in America. It may well be dead worldwide, but I will focus on the United States. We blame the press for their failures to play their historical role in the debate of policy and current events in this country, but I do not think they are alone in this failure. Lets face it, Congressional debate is a joke. Judicial debate is a joke too. Our failure is not in one segment of our society and it is not systemic, but a vast majority of people in the United States have simply never learned to critically analyze anything. I blame that on standardized curriculum. We are creating a generation of swine. I am reminded of the image of kids on a conveyor belt dropping one by one into a meat grinder in Pink Floyd's The Wall. Do not be shocked to learn that we are living in a second Dark Age!

Anyways, I slipped off my point (as I tend to do).

You might be very surprised if I told you that the biggest failure in persuasion is not the President of the United States failing to lay out and valid, let alone sound, argument for military (and now continued military) action in the Middle East. Unfortunately that failure pales when compared to the inept failure of the liberal portion of our society (to which I belong) to convince the people of this country that military action was not just a bad idea, but a colossally stupid idea!

The United States kicked a hornet’s nest and unfortunately it is a case of, as Secretary Powell put it, you broke it, you bought it. We have no choice but to (and you have no idea how painful this is for me to say…) “stay the course”. What are our alternatives? Honestly, can anyone layout a scenario where we pull out of Iraq and it doesn’t collapse into sectarian violence? Does anyone really think that Shi’ites won’t begin killing Sunnis and vice versa?

It is the perfect Catch 22 that we have got ourselves in. We are obviously that cause of a lot of the disdain and anger. Our presence is contributing the spark that ignites the anger into violence. But I don’t believe that simply removing the U.S. troops would extinguish the fire. That is like removing the spark that ignites the bonfire and expecting the flames to be instantly quenched. It ain’t going to happen.

Like in Korea, where U.S. troops and one million landmines stand between the North Korean Army and Seoul fifty plus years after the end of the Korean War, there is no clear way to eliminate our presence in Iraq before the government can support itself and it will never be able to eliminate threats, internal or external, until the U.S. and our allies leave. It’s quite a pickle.

So, the question begs. If Iraq is bound to fall, why not get it over with? To which I reply. That would be fine with me except that a failed Iraq will send shockwaves all over the Middle East, which will impact the price of crude oil the world over. Are we ready to pay $4-5 per gallon for gasoline?

I won’t answer that question but leave you with this to think about. Did you know that if every car in the United States got 4 miles per gallon better fuel economy we could eliminate our entire reliance on Middle East fuel sources?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Swing and a miss, strike TWO!

Boy, the hits just keep on coming for Turkey. 2005 was supposed to be the year that Turkey finally proved that they belonged in the economic brotherhood of states called the European Union. All we hear is about how progressive this country, Turkey, is. They are, I guess, if you compare them with Iran!

Many of you will remember my articles chastising both the Turkish government and the Danish newspaper over some caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were published in the Jyllands Posten. Well, it seems that Turkey’s year is now in total unravel mode. There are recent reports that Turkey is going to move ahead with trying Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk faces up to three years in prison for criticizing Turkey’s role in the Armenian genocide (namely killing thousands of Armenians).

Once again the Turks have displayed that they clearly share no cultural link with Europe. I truly feel bad for the liberals in Turkey. They are held back by the backwards think troglodytes who can only see their nation through the rose colored lenses of nationalism. Turkey is guilty, like most countries (including the U.S.), of having parts of its history that are shameful. The mark of progress away from those attitudes is the ability to review what they did and take responsibility for their actions.

Unfortunately Turkey is not beyond this. Their systematic mistreatment of the Kurdish minority living in the eastern portion of the country clearly indicates that there is a level of racism that is endemic to Turkish culture. It has permeated the halls of power in Ankara and become institutionalized. Clearly that cannot be condoned, and a country like that must never be handed an economic reward like EU membership.
I hope Turkey makes the progress it need to. I believe that the dream of a secular Islamic country being an EU member is a goal that everyone should hope and strive for. But we can not put our heads in the sand and ignore blatant problems to speed the issue to fruition. That end can only be justified by following the appropriate means. No other course will ensure that liberty and freedom are truly cherished and realized by all of Turkey’s people, Turk and Kurd alike!