Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Little to the Left, Please. . .

Well, Obama's "appalled and outraged" at Iran. With good reason, to be sure. Maybe he's getting tougher, but I'm joining Dick Morris in not holding my breath. It's hard to escape the view that the President views Iran, North Korea, Iraq and the wars as annoyances, distracting him and the country from the real job of reforming health care and building a green economy.
I'm not even sure I blame Obama, much. Sometimes the options available are limited to bad and awful, particularly when the military account is both underfunded and overdrawn. More to the point, the President of the United States is not the only one with options and plans. Our dear friend the Dear Leader and his minions in North Korea have been heard from today.
No doubt Obama is appalled and outraged about this also, and people throughout Asia and the Pacific very nervous. But for all our sakes, President Obama needs to be careful, because it looks a little like the Dear Leaders and Khameneis of the world have decided Obama's actually Hans Blix of the UN and Team America World Police. . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Letter to Khamenei

An Iranian exile, Professor Dr. Afshin Ellian, teacher of the philosophy of law at Leiden University in the Netherlands, has published (in the online journal Telos) a splendid open letter to the Iranian "Supreme Leader,"Ayatollah Khamenei.
Excellency Khamenei, you and I know that no tyranny has ever succeeded in creating a political system that lasts. Your advisors have been misinforming you these past years. They have made you deaf and blind to what is really happening. The truth is that the ruling elite is despised by the people. Your puppet Ahmadinejad, who likes to appeal to Iranians in populist terms, is reviled. If you continue to use violence against your people, then you have obviously learned nothing from the tragic fate of the last shah of Persia.
The mothers of the members of my family who were executed will not forgive you. But they will let you withdraw peacefully, for the sake of freedom and the peace of their grandchildren. Time is pressing for the Iranian people, and for the international community. I wish you wisdom and peace. . .
The whole piece should be read, not only because it catalogues the serious grievances so many Iranians have against their rulers today; but also because Dr Eilian's letter is a window into the dreams of those, including the Professor, who made and fought for the Iranian Revolution of 1979. But Ayatollah Khomeini and his friends (including the present Supreme Leader) -- far from answering Iranian dreams of freedom -- brought nightmares instead.
Khomeini and those around him, the Professor says, repaid their millions of backers in false coin: hijacking the Iranian revolution against the Shah and using it as a vehicle to establish their theocratic tyranny. I would be less than candid if I did not admit I have little sympathy for the Professor's claims on this score. Bloody revolutions and the bastard states they throw up are themselves the very negation of the law and philosophy the professor today teaches in the Netherlands. Revolutions of the French, Russian or Iranian variety usually just replace one tyrant with a bigger one -- deadlier because the new master supposedly rests on a species of public consent. The squabbling lawyers of the Tennis Court Oath and the Estates General gave way to Robespierre and the Reign of Terror; Kerensky gave way to Lenin and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat; the moderate professor Mehdi Bazargan to the radical Islamic Republic of Khomeini. In revolutions, the democrats always, always lose out to the radicals, the fanatics and the guns. Then starry-eyed supporters and romantics elsewhere tell us that Next Time will be different.
Do not misunderstand. I hope and pray devoutly that the crowds marching through the streets of Tehran prevail. I hope they go all out, that the Islamic "Republic" is toppled, and that the Ayatollahs and thugs who run it and have caused more misery and death then ever the Shah did on his worst day are paraded through the streets in chains, and that they wind up in ditches. I hope it happens. But I don't know if it will make things any better. It's possible, but I'm not holding my breath.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran Round Up and Links

El Jefe has been preoccupied of late with personal business (of the good kind) but the situation in Iran demands attention, and he hopes to have a little more on this subject presently.
Meanwhile, check out Michael Ledeen, writing over at Pajamas Media, frequently. In addition to Dr. Ledeen's posts, be sure to read the comments -- sometimes the commenters seem uncommonly well informed.
Today Dr. Ledeen tries to assess how things are going. In a nutshell, he thinks that if the crowds in the streets get organized, the regime is in real trouble; but if not, the system will muddle through, as was the case during lesser periods of unrest in 1999 and 2003. The money quote:
. . .The regime has the guns, and the opposition has the numbers. The question is whether the numbers can be successfully organized into a disciplined force that demands the downfall of the regime. Yes, I know that there have been calls for a new election, or a runoff between Mousavi and Ahmadinezhad. But I don’t think that’s very likely now. The tens of millions of Iranians whose pent-up rage has driven them to risk life and limb against their oppressors are not likely to settle for a mere change in personnel at this point. And the mullahs surely know that if they lose, many of them will face a very nasty and very brief future.
If the disciplined force comes into being, the regime will fall. If not, the regime will survive. . .

Dr. Ledeen's most interesting comments concern the state of morale in the regime's security services. The Iranians have a National Police (under the Ministry of Interior and Justice) but the true prop of the Islamic Republic, and its most important guarantee, is the Sepáh e Pásdárán e Enqeláb e Eslámi ("Army of Guardians of the Islamic Revolution") or, more frequently the "Revolutionary Guard" and its associated militia the "Basij" ("Mobilization"). Dr. Ledeen seems to think that the senior Iranian leadership somewhat distrusts the Revolutionary Guard's bosses, who have perhaps gone soft. Read the whole thing.

Robert F. Worth and Nazila Fathi write in the New York Times this morning about the demonstrations in Tehran. Worth and Fathi report that some of the demonstrators:

. . .were especially outraged that Mr. Ahmadinejad on Sunday dismissed them as nothing more than soccer fans who had just lost a game and as "dust." One demonstrator fired off a Twitter message. . .proclaiming: "Ahmadinejad called us Dust, we showed him a sandstorm."

The Times piece said that on Monday, the police stood "on the sidelines" at least during daylight, but that violence erupted after sunset, when the "Basij militia opened fire, leaving one dead and several others injured." It is not clear from the Times piece exactly where this shooting took place. On this subject, Dr. Ledeen says that the regime ordered the Basij and "imported Hezbollah thugs" to open fire on the crowds, and that the UK Guardian (which Ledeen considers very reliable on Iran) had reported "a dozen or so" killed Monday. Haaretz's round-up of wire-service reports comes up with a total of twenty killed today around the country.

Given the size of the crowds shown in the photographs and on You Tube, the numbers of dead reported indictes to me that the crowds, for the moment, are mostly peaceful. Despite the thousands in the streets, and the great degree of provocation necessary to produce demonstrations of this size, the Times article quotes an actor as saying that people ". . .are not seeking a revolution." For the moment, this appears to be correct.

The Guardian is live-blogging events in Tehran. Today's Guardian online has a story about the decision by the Iranian "Council of Guardians" (senior clerics that operate as sort of a Board of Directors of the Islamic Republic) to recount the election ballots. I question, from the point of view of the mullahs, the wisdom of this move -- it is seldom wise for rulers to make concessions in the face of mobs on the streets. On the other hand, it gives the government time to indoctrinate the riot police, bring up reinforcements, kick out the foreign journalists (they are already officially barred from street reporting, God protect those disobeying) -- shut down Twitter access, put down the crowds when ready, and spin a good story.

Twitter, by the way, is an important part of how things have developed. The demonstrators have been using Twitter to coordinate their efforts, and the government has been unable, at least partially, to close down access to it. Twitter is helping -- the service has delayed scheduled downtime maintenance to help the demonstrators. Good for them.

Stay tuned.

ADDENDUM: Michael Rubin, writing in National Review Online's "Corner" speaking to the question of whether the Mullah regime could actually fall, gives us a useful list of points to ponder. See also, Richard Fernandez's "The Moving Finger Writes" -- at his Belmont Club site on Pajamas Media). Mr. Fernandez, also known as "Wretchard" includes a great link to an AEI article on the organizational evolution of the Revolutionary Guard, driven in part by that organization's concern with countering and crushing popular movements.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Justice Ginsburg's Chrysler Fiat. . .


The Chrysler secured creditors unhappy with the government-brokered Fiat purchase of Chrysler's assets might get a hearing after all. Fiat can walk away if nothing happens by the 15th. . .

Comprehension Dawns

Somebody sees the light. Too bad it's too late.

Like many Americans last November, I voted for change. I had hope. I no longer have hope since the president I voted for never mentioned a fraction of the agenda he now espouses. I did not vote to lower my standard of living, humble as it may be. Nor did I ask to jump into the economic abyss in order to “save” the planet.

When the economic chickens of this agenda do come home to roost, many people will change their perception of the whole quasi-religious scam known as “climate change.” Once you view the fall you’re about to take, it’s natural to turn around and take a good look at who is pushing you.

I voted for change, not economic suicide.

All is not lost: this is a rich, big nation, full of people who don't want socialism. Perhaps someday, the largely self-inflicted damage the country is about to sustain can be undone. It will be for our children to resurrect the concept of capitalism and to redeem the promise of American nationality once our wanna-be Euro socialists are through. But that's all for later. Elections have consequences, and the Left is well and truly in the saddle, and gets its chance to take us for a ride.

Hat tips: Confederate Yankee, American Thinker.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

D-Day, 65 Years On

Official U.S. 1st Army Group position map at 2400 hours on D-Day (6 June 1944).
(Source: Library of Congress G5701.S7 svar .A4, via Wikipedia).
In this column, I want to tell you what the opening of the second front entailed, so that you can know and appreciate and forever be humbly grateful to those both dead and alive who did it for you.
Ernie Pyle, 12 June 1944 (as quoted in Stephen Ambrose, D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II (Simon & Schuster, 1994).
65 years ago today, the western allies returned to the European continent: the Normandy landings signaling the beginning of the end of Hitler's Germany. The invasion, Operation Overlord, with 15,000 vessels, over ten divisions of troops (from the US, UK and Canada as well as Free-French contingents) and thousands of aircraft, is still the largest amphibious assault ever attempted, only approached in size by the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. (Operation Olympic would have dwarfed Overlord, but thankfully, that one never happened).
Neither D-Day nor the ensuing Normandy Campaign (Operation Cobra, and the breakout across France) decided the war -- in retrospect, the Germans had lost the war, probably, by August 1941, certainly (as I wrote here) by December 1941. But the allied armies delivered the western half of the continent from Nazi bondage and barbarism, and by their victory bought liberty and freedom for much of Europe. In the fullness of time, eastern Europe too, would be delivered from tyranny: and the foundation for that outcome was laid in particular by the sacrifices of the Americans, Canadians, Britons, Poles and Frenchmen who died on Normandy beaches, and in the hedgerow country (bocage) in the summer of 1944.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Been on Vacation

El Jefe has been in the provinces, specifically Seaside, Florida, far away from computers, and seldom bothering with newspapers. Have been eating and drinking too much, getting sunburned and doing some reading (Telford Taylor's Munich: The Price of Peace) and several crime novels.
Back in the World today, and the papers have all kinds of news, most of it bad. I should have stayed in Florida! I will be back to speed commenting, soon enough.
This morning, listening to Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 in D-Major, feeing virtuous but hungry for passing on the doughnut at Starbucks, and trying to find the top of my desk. It's here someplace, I'm certain.