web stats analysis
Michael Ubaldi, February 22, 2005.

Japan's progress towards true democratic sovereignty, abiding twists, turns and impediments, holds steady. Lawmakers are unapologetic to tradition and reactionism alike:

A lower house research panel has compiled a report that suggests any change in the preamble to the Constitution must come with a revision to its war-renouncing Article 9, sources close to the panel said Thursday. The members of the House of Representatives Research Commission on the Constitution have compiled the proceedings of their discussions on the preamble, referring to the relations between the preamble and pacifist article as "inseparable," the sources said.

To reach eminence in the free world, Japan must match its economic sphere of influence with ideological and military components — establishing liberty's regional lodestar and constabulary. The country's leadership has continually shown how willing and serious it is, most recently by refusing to appease China at the expense of fellow democrats:

Japan and the United States have formed a security alliance after ministers from both countries met over the weekend. Both countries will pursue common strategic objectives, which include encouraging China and Taiwan to resolve their differences through dialogue.

Japan had previously been ambiguous on its stance on the Taiwan issue.

The policy announcement brought desired results. Appeasers and pragmatists were unhappy, progressives and the embattled Taiwanese couldn't be more pleased:

The policy shift was enthusiastically greeted by hardline hawks, including Koizumi's potential successor Shinzo Abe, the deputy secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). ...In stark contrast to Beijing's reaction, Taipei warmly greeted the announcement. The Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quoted as saying, "We welcome this declaration."

The democratic confederation grows.

MORE: The State Department has text of the statement.

For a giggle, one party incensed by the one-sentence statement on Taiwan is China's charlatan "human rights scholar."

Michael Ubaldi, February 22, 2005.

On Saturday, I noted in parentheses that one of the primary causes for Lebanon's civil erosion was the migration of terrorists and gangs following Yasser Arafat's 1970 expulsion from Jordan. Today on National Review, Mordechai Nisan explains:

Lebanese nationalism is tested by loyalty to the special national ethos, and pride in the Lebanese heritage is not limited to the Christians alone. Rafiq Hariri, the Sunni Muslim, demonstrated far more dedication to his country in the face of Syrian occupation than the Damascus-appointed Maronite president Emile Lahoud. No one group has a monopoly on patriotism because personal choice rather than religious affiliation is the benchmark for the love of homeland in Lebanon.

The war in Lebanon that erupted in 1975 was not at its core a civil war at all. It was triggered by a sweeping Palestinian armed assault on Lebanese sovereignty, beginning in the late 1960s. PLO factions, spreading through southern Lebanon and coastal cities and into the mountain, were becoming masters of the land. The beginning of the war in Beirut in April 1975 was primarily a Lebanese-Palestinian conflagration, which in 1976 further deteriorated and exacerbated into a Syrian-Lebanese war. Assad's Baathist regime in Damascus moved to fulfill its vision of "Greater Syria" and swallowed up Lebanon in stages, until a full occupation regime solidified under the Taif Accord of 1989 and the military conquest of Baabda, the presidential palace, and all of Beirut in 1990.

"Individual-state patriotism," says Nisan, "deals a blow to the myth of pan-Arab nationalism," something to which yesterday's Beirut protesters, holding crosses and the Koran, could attest. Freeman nationalism makes one from many.

Michael Ubaldi, February 21, 2005.

After a busy day of encouraging democratic protesters in Lebanon and beyond; condemning despot regimes in Syria and Iran; sifting through increasingly obsequious messages from North Korea; and gladhanding a pouty Europe, practically getting a purr out of Paris' French cat Jacques Chirac; President Bush finished with an after-dinner censure of the fascistic Vladimir Putin, not three days before his meeting with the Russian strongman.

All that, and observers are left nodding, "yes, that he did."

When did an American president wield so much political capital? 1944? 1797?

Michael Ubaldi, February 21, 2005.

More protests. Omar at Iraq the Model brings to our attention Egyptians who grow impatient with strongman Hosni Mubarak's half-hearted promises for reform:

Several hundred Egyptians protested in central Cairo on Monday in the largest street demonstration since the launch last year of a campaign against continued rule by the Mubarak family. Liberals, leftists and Islamists chanted: "Enough, shame, have mercy" and "Down, down with Hosni Mubarak" in a public square outside the gates of Cairo University, as tens of thousands of mostly bemused commuters drove past.

Many of them carried yellow flags or stickers saying "Enough" — the slogan of an informal movement dedicated to stopping Mubarak from obtaining a fifth six-year term in office or arranging for his son Gamal to take over the presidency. Thousands of riot police armed with batons and shields surrounded the protesters and prevented some people from joining the crowd, but they did not attempt to disperse them.

There is fear behind the iron fist; fear of the people it restrains and the allegiance sworn to their ascendance, finally, by confederate free nations. No useful idiots with puppets have prevented it. We may be able to leave the left to its callow fantasies and turn full attention to the work at hand.

GRASSROOTS: One protest chant demanded Mubarak's regime release democratic advocate Ayman Nour. Both critics and supporters of President Bush's strategy of freedom maintain that challenging the repression of foreign reformers is a "test" of the president's resolve. The Washington Post, in naming Nour as their test of choice, noted that as of the second of this month, the White House had responded to Nour's arrest with admirable condemnation.

Yet perhaps we expect too little from the oppressed, too little from the easy translation of our values. If the president has made his intolerance for quashing dissent known, whose task — and victory — is it to free Ayman Nour but the Egyptian people's themselves?

BUT OF COURSE: Our man Ghaly reports.

Michael Ubaldi, February 21, 2005.

Leftist demonstrators in Brussels, Belgium couldn't agree on why they despise President Bush so, bereft of common cause, they settled for shared sentiment:

An alliance of 88 environmental, human rights, peace and other groups have planned protests near the U.S. Embassy for Monday and near the EU headquarters on Tuesday. The Web site of the 'Stop Bush' alliance accused Bush of "crimes against humanity," saying he undermines international law and is an obstacle to the fight against global warming.

President Bush's crimes, according to one protester, include those not yet committed, namely driving a wedge between European leaders and their constituents. A single, sign-wielding man can hardly speak for millions; nor is it clear whether his elected representatives will join him in principled opposition to anything and everything for which the American president stands:

Bush called on Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanon. As Bush spoke, thousands of opposition supporters in Beirut shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of Lebanon's pro-Syrian government, marking a week since the assassination of Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's most prominent politician.

Syria must end its occupation of Lebanon, Bush said to applause.

"The Lebanese people have the right to be free, and the United States and Europe share an interest in an independent, democratic Lebanon," he said, adding that if Syrians stay out of Lebanon's parliamentary elections in the spring, the vote "can be another milestone of liberty."

What say the protesters? Is Bush's demand for the Lebanese to enjoy the same rights as most Westerners a trick? A lie? Listening to a chant or two, or reading the sort of literature that follows these crowds should give us our answer. Hell no, the Brussels Seven Hundred won't go until an elected leader is sacked and his replacement relents to their science fiction credenda: what Lebanon really needs are lower carbon dioxide levels.

2,500 miles away it is democratic sovereignty, not Salem's greenhouse demons, that rests foremost on the minds of twenty- or thirtyfold as they rally in the streets of Beirut:

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters shouted insults at Syria and demanded the resignation of their pro-Syrian government in a Beirut demonstration Monday, marking a week since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Beating drums and waving Lebanese flags, those of their own parties and portraits of past leaders killed during the 1975-90 civil war, the protesters gathered at the site where Hariri was killed Feb. 14 in a bombing that the opposition blames on Damascus.

Some in the crowd yelled "Syria out!" and "We don't want a parliament that acts as a doorkeeper for the Syrians," competing with loud insults shouted against Syrian President Bashar Assad. In Damascus, Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Syria will "soon" take steps to withdraw its army from Lebanese areas in accordance with a 1989 agreement.

"Soon." No doubt Damascus seeks to mollify a nationalist righteous indignation that has coalesced and sharpened into focused, tireless throngs. It can only try to diffuse the protests; it's too late, if it were ever possible, to stifle public outrage. And Damascus wouldn't dare use violence. These are not the Syrian Kurds, whose catalyst for revolt nearly one year ago was successfully obscured before a series of riots were crushed beneath Bashar Assad's heel. Lebanon has been invaded, its once-liberal polity violated; the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was brazen and its consequences have not been ignored by international news agencies.

At the same time, only one government has both openly and repeatedly called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops, and it is this administration's implied threat of punitive force that stays Bashar Assad's hand. No direct recognition of this fact is apparent from coverage of Beirut protests but gratitude is unnecessary. Solidarity in principle is enough:

Many held pictures of Hariri and sang patriotic songs. Some protesters held a copy of the Quran in one hand and the cross in another hand to signify Muslim-Christian national unity.

Earnest pluralism only exists in an open society. Those seven hundred might take a trip to Beirut and discover men who are truly "dangerous to civil rights." But the leftists may not understand the point of Lebanese protests. Kyoto's American rejection, remember, was through a unanimous 1997 Senate vote. The elected officials responsible must be considered, with George W. Bush, "obstacles" to the transnational edict; a troubling inconvenience. So the deconstructionists among the seven hundred, arriving in Beirut, might argue that a dictator has a right to do with others whatever he pleases, and the dogmatists might argue that that dictator has a Hegelian duty thereof. Both groups can believe this sort of nonsense because they have, for most or all of their lives, painlessly enjoyed the freedoms for which Lebanese now risk much. In abundance, waste; in scarcity, treasure.

Michael Ubaldi, February 20, 2005.

Those who consider themselves "human rights advocates" may wish to circulate this news from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

In every case, enemy combatants held here receive medical care that is "as good as or better than anything we would offer our own soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines," the general in charge of the U.S. detention facility here said. ...The facility is equipped with 19 inpatient beds (and can expand to 28), a physical-therapy area, pharmacy, radiology department, central sterilization area, and a single-bed operating room. More complex surgeries can be performed at the base naval hospital, which also is equipped with an intensive-care wing.

...[Captain Barry] Barendse said humane treatment is "second-nature" for medical personnel. "It's not that we like hanging around the bad guys," he said. "The thing about it is that the job we do for a living is a very humane one, and we just keep that mindset."

...Some detainees have been provided life-changing care, Barendse said. He cited prosthetic limbs and removal of cancerous tumors as examples of the level of care provided to detainees. "Some of them have even told us that they're very happy we're taking care of them," he said. "We've given them new life, some of them we really have."

"Trials" suffered by detainees likely include the tongue depressor, throat swabs, reflex mallet strikes, and the receipt of Dum Dum suckers only on strict condition of good behavior.

Michael Ubaldi, February 19, 2005.

By now we know that former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was murdered on February 14th, that President Bush recalled the American ambassador to Syria while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice led condemnation of Bashar Assad's Syria, implying that Damascus was responsible for the assassination. Rice also renewed charges of Syrian sedition in Iraq, something well-known and oft expressed over the months in Baghdad. President Bush followed the secretary's comments by announcing suspicion of Syrian fingerprints on Hariri's death, intolerance for Syria's wide and long-standing participation in terrorism, and a warning to Assad's totalitarian regime as blunt as that which the president delivered in his State of the Union address. Called "out of step" with the region's move towards democracy, Damascus' Ba'athists were left to reflect on the fate of Iraq's Ba'athists.

In Lebanon, the people wield their own outrage. A massive, anti-Syrian protest gobbled up Hariri's funeral procession. While Reuters was reminded of the Lebanese Civil War (instigated by, among other factors, Yasser Arafat's terrorist cabal), one might be inspired to look back to Lebanon's brief post-Franco liberalism.

Following unprecedented public protest against Syrian captivity, an arm of Beirut's marionette parliament has turned to cut itself from Damascus:

Pressure on Syria to pull out of Lebanon intensified Friday when nearly a third of MPs called on the pro-Damascus regime in Beirut to step down and make way for an interim government to oversee a withdrawal.

More than 40 of parliament's 128 deputies and dozens of opposition activists called on their fellow citizens to join a "democratic and peaceful uprising for independence in response to the criminal and terrorist policy of the Lebanese and Syrian authorities."

Will the memory of Rafiq Hariri guide Lebanese independence towards democracy? If the people fight for his legacy, Fouad Ajami believes so, marking it as a departure:

There is talk nowadays of spreading liberty to Arab lands, changing the ways of the Arabs, putting an end to regimes that harbor terror. The restoration of Lebanon's sovereignty ought to be one way for the Arabs to break with the culture of dictators and police states, and with the time of the car bombs. Hariri sought for his country a businessman's peace. His way was a break with the politics of charisma and ideology that has wrecked the Arab world; he believed in philanthropy and practical work. His vision may not have been stirring. But there was dignity in it, and a reprieve from the time of darkness.

Common sense bests profundity.

Michael Ubaldi, February 18, 2005.

Deroy Murdock asks a pointed question to which he is especially entitled.

Michael Ubaldi, February 18, 2005.

Heard from suddenly lockstep-partisan political operative Susan Estrich and cold-blooded Congressman Charlie Rangel, one of the left's feeble responses to the Iraqi people's January 30th redemption and vindication has been that America did not lead an alliance of nations into Iraq to democratize it.

Via IP, Norman Geras has drawn from speeches by President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a leading Labour Party MP; all delivered well before the beginning of major combat operations on March 20, 2003. There's more. Despite the larger left's adoption of the fringe's characterization of postwar occupation as colonialism, and the left's selective amnesia that spanned nearly eighteen months after the liberation of Baghdad, culminating in a near-complete rhetorical reversal — from "Empire!" to "No plan!" — the American-led alliance was clearly prepared to establish a pluralist democracy after deposing Saddam Hussein. In early January of 2003, the New York Times of all papers publicized a lengthy outline of the Bush administration's intentions. I happened to comment on the article. The word "democratizing" was not only in the lede, but in the first sentence. (And note, in reference to the left, the Times' mention of "concerns that [the] US will seek to be [a] colonial power in Iraq.")

Ten months later, the matter of postwar planning was brought up again by Democratic presidential hopefuls. The Times article was still online but truncated, so I paid for the full article and posted excerpts.

The White House planned to help Iraqis build a democracy well in advance of military action. Black and white. If you're puzzled as to why neither Rangel nor Estrich would be concerned that their televised statements could so easily be refuted, remember: no one had convenient access to nearly every transcript or record of public forums until now.

And if neither statements from leaders nor reports of administration debates satisfy, language in both the first and final drafts of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441 should. From the October 2002 circulation:

Deploring also that the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with its commitments pursuant to resolution 687 (1991) with regard to terrorism, pursuant to resolution 688 (1991) to end repression of its civilian population —

Here is Resolution 688. Iraq's Ba'athist dictatorship was notorious even in the morally sterile United Nations. Regardless of a representative's preferred solution, one could hardly believe the Saddamite regime and basic civil and political rights to be mutually inclusive. What could phrases like "the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq"; "the plight of the Iraqi civilian population, and in particular the Kurdish population, suffering from the repression in all its forms inflicted by the Iraqi authorities"; and "ensure that the human and political rights of all Iraqi citizens are respected" ultimately mean? Refer to Freedom House. Or ask witnesses.

Michael Ubaldi, February 18, 2005.

If William F. Buckley wanted to know just how President Bush's vision of bringing peace to the world through liberty could be practically engaged, Victor Davis Hanson has a few suggestions, free of charge:

As a rule of thumb in matters of the Middle East, be very skeptical of anything that Europe (fearful of terrorists, eager for profits, tired of Jews, scared of their own growing Islamic minorities) and the Arab League (a synonym for the autocratic rule of Sunni Muslim grandees and secular despots) cook up together. ...There are other key decisions to be made that will go mostly unnoticed by the world's media. We should decide now to distance ourselves from the Mubarak regime, and to be ready for a dynastic squabble with the passing of the present strongman.

...No longer should we remain in thrall to any Arab government that with its left hand rounds up over-the-top terrorists, while with its right gives others less violent a pass to unleash virulent hatred of America. ...We should continue with demands for elections in a Lebanon free of a tyrannical Syria, elevate dissidents in Iran onto the world stage, pressure for change in the Gulf, and say goodbye to Wahhabi Saudi Arabia.

Investing in governments that empower the common man and his simple wants of home, work and family? Don't call it profound. Call it common sense.