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For the Record

I voted last week by mail. (No lines. No waiting. No bullshit.) Here’s who I picked.

President: George W. Bush – Republican

Senator: Ron Wyden – Democrat

Representative: Earl Blumenauer – Democrat

Attacked

Jeff Jarvis says Instapundit, along with many other blogs, are suffering denial-of-service attacks today. I’ve noticed my own flickering in and out.

Call ‘Em Yourself

Drudge links to the realtime vote tallies for Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Hitchens is for Bush

Last week Slate reported that Christopher Hitchens favored the election of John Kerry. Slate was wrong. I thought that might be the case. I could hardly believe he was going to vote for John Kerry after all he has written over the past two years. I can’t vote for him either, for the same reasons.

The Boldest Prediction

Mark Steyn is a braver man than I. In three weeks I’m going to Libya, but he went to Fallujah after the fall of Saddam. And he went by himself decked out in a suit in a rental car.

Today he put his job, nay his career, on the line and said if Bush goes, he goes.

The Struggle of Ideas – Armed Liberal

The Winds of Change site is having technical difficulties and Marc Danziger (aka Armed Liberal) wrote something he wants to make sure gets out into the world before the election. I’ve agreed to let him guest blog it here.

Richard Clarke and the other experts in Middle East policy have set out an excellent case – for not letting their expertise guide our Middle East policy.

Their new work is sponsored by the Century Foundation, and is called ‘Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action‘. Let’s take a look.

The international jihadist network of radical Islamic terrorist groups is far more extensive than just al Qaeda, and it has conducted twice as many attacks in the three years since September 11, 2001 as it did in the three years prior to that date. Defeating the Jihadists: A Blueprint for Action (Century Foundation Press, 2004), assesses the nation’s successes and failures on homeland security and calls for a stronger, more effective strategy for dealing with jihadists, including al Qaeda. The forthcoming report offers a detailed action plan for neutralizing the international movement at the core of worldwide terrorism. The report also describes the nature of the jihadist threat; provides comprehensive profiles of the various jihadist groups; and offers a rationale for the effort and money that would be needed to make the plan a success. The plan presented in the report builds on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and serves as a road map for winning the war against the jihadists.

The report’s authors are Richard A. Clarke, Glenn P. Aga, Roger W. Cressey, Stephen E. Flynn, Blake W. Mobley, Eric Rosenbach, Steven Simon, William F. Wechsler, and Lee S. Wolosky—all experts on various aspects of national security, intelligence, counterterrorism, military operations.

They divide the problem into segments:

1. Focus on Winning the Struggle of Ideas.

2. Invest in Education and Development in Islamic Nations.

3. Implement Tailored Strategies for Key Countries.

4. Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States.

5. Improve U.S. Intelligence and Law Enforcement Organization.

6. Reinvigorate Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing.

7. Bolster Special Forces and Improve Their Coordination with Intelligence Community.

8. Accelerate Security Investments for Ports, Trains, and Chemical Plants.

9. Strengthen and Improve Oversight of Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Efforts.

10. Improve U.S. Energy Security by Reducing Reliance on Middle East Oil.

Looking at their point, one by one, we begin to see a very different strategy than the one pursued by President Bush, and one that is likely to be close to the center of what a Kerry Administration might do.

I don’t have time to go through these point by point, but let’s touch on the areas where I have significant problems.

They open with “Winning the Struggle of Ideas.”

I’ve said for quite a while that we will ultimately win this war when we win the battle of ideas. Their idea of how to do it and mine are quite different, though. The summary of their proposal looks like this:

The U.S. must erode support for the jihadists in the Islamic world through what the 9/11 Commission called the “struggle of ideas,” but we cannot do it alone. Traditional propaganda mechanisms…international broadcasting, for example…are a small part of the solution. U.S. activities in Iraq, as portrayed by the Islamic news media, make it difficult for the United States government to successfully promote its values and ideas among the world’s Muslims. The messenger is as important as the message…and right now any message delivered from the United States is greeted with suspicion in the Islamic world.

Therefore, other countries, respected non-governmental organizations, and individual Islamic leaders must take the lead in appealing to Muslims to denounce intolerance and terrorist violence committed in the name of Islam. These efforts need to celebrate our common values in order to overcome misunderstandings and neutralize terrorist propaganda. The role of the U.S. government should be to stimulate these groups and then wait backstage.

As part of this struggle of ideas, the United States and Europe must demonstrably welcome Islam as a part of their cultures. On this front, the European Union should have two priorities: fighting anti-Islamic discrimination in its member countries and initiating discussions on Turkey’s accession to the European Union.

Their argument is simple: the US government can’t fund or otherwise encourage radio or televison networks that will have any significant impact on public opinion, because being associated with the U.S. is deadly. So let’s go their own detailed discussion of the impact of U.S.-funded media. Talking about al-Iraqiya, Al-Hurra, and Radio Sawa, they say:

…all three of these outlets have quickly achieved significant market share and at least a modicum of credibility among their listeners and viewers (see Figures 5.1 and 5.2, page 96). Polling data show that 74 percent of Iraqis watch al-Iraqiya on at least a weekly basis and 21 percent of those consider it “objective.”9 Al-Hurra, though not boasting ratings as high as al-Iraqiya’s, still claims a respectable average adult viewership of 29 percent in a dozen urban areas surveyed in North Africa, the Levant, and the Gulf region. Just over half of its viewers rate its news coverage as “very reliable” or “somewhat reliable.” Finally, Radio Sawa has staked out a weekly following of 38 percent of listeners polled in six Arab countries, including a high of 73 percent in Morocco. Remarkably, four of five listeners feel its news meets the same reliability criteria. Thus, on the basis of both market penetration and trust, these initiatives certainly appear successful at first glance.

While they next explain away these statistics as due to ‘novelty’ or limited by the limited availability of satellite TV in Iraq, the facts are the facts; with a very limited effort, we’ve got a substatial amunt of attention from the Arab world – and it’s certainly not the case that there will be fewer satellite dishes in Iraq next year than this.

Back to their key point; they say: “Therefore, other countries, respected non-governmental organizations, and individual Islamic leaders must take the lead in appealing to Muslims to denounce intolerance and terrorist violence committed in the name of Islam.” How, exactly, is this supposed to happen?

Well, they touch upon it in this section – a big part of the obstacle to mainstream Islamists combating terrorism is the assumed fact that disdain for the West comes about in part because we don’t do a good enough job of accepting Islam.

As someone who lives a mile and a half from an Islamic Center, I’m puzzled by this. How, exactly, is the U.S. and Europe not doing a good job of accepting Islam and it’s practitioners? And – more important – do they see any concern in setting the bar at we accept them – but they are free to, as they do in Saudi Arabia – freely discriminate?

The real answer – in their case – is in their point #4 – “Defuse Sources of Islamic Hatred for the United States.”

They dance heavily in this part of the document; here’s the key step (from the summary):

Large majorities of those living in the Middle East and North Africa evaluate U.S. foreign policy as out of step with their own world-view. On no issue is the divide greater than with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not surprisingly, the Pew Center recently found that 96 percent of Palestinians, 94 percent of Moroccans, 77 percent of Kuwaitis, 99 percent of Jordanians, and 90 percent of Lebanese believe that U.S. policies in the Middle East “favor Israel too much.” Given the importance of this issue in the Arab world, there is little doubt that these sentiments fuel much of the animosity felt by Arabs toward the U.S. While our foreign policy should never be dictated by foreign publics, the effect on public opinion of specific policies..remember the importance of the third and fourth concentric circles…should be a consideration in the formulation and implementation of policy. To that end, the United States should not alter its support of Israel, but should seek to revive the Israel-Palestinian Peace Process. The United States should not withdraw from Iraq before indigenous security forces are in place, but should cease U.S. military operations against urban areas, transfer rebuilding activities to Iraqi entities, and reduce U.S. goals in Iraq so that a withdrawal can be achieved at an early date.

(emphasis added)

So, by reformulating our policies to sit better with the Arab publics – publics that have been whipped into rage by a generation of anti-American and anti-Israeli government propaganda – we have a chance of ‘defusing’ the sources of Arab hatred.

Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Kennedy surely took the feelings of the Southern sheriffs into account when they mobilized Federal resources to combat Jim Crow. But I don’t think they are honored today for ultimately bending their policies to make them more palatable to the most intransigent opponents of integration.

Not only do I find the approach offensive and immoral, but I don’t believe it will work.

It is my habit to simply believe what people say; and what the Islamist terrorists have said – and what the works at the core of their ideology support – is the notion that this is a war against the modern West for the creation of a totalitarian religious state.

This isn’t a view that’s somehow historically unique to Islam. The various Christian sects spent a few hundred years trying to bring the world to God through the sword. But they had this largely beaten out of them by the 18th Century – that was one the key events that made the Enlightenment possible.

Read the whole thing.

For me, it solidifies my discomfort with Kerry and his advisers, and further secures my vote for Bush. If this becomes Kerry’s policy toward the Middle East, we’re in trouble.

The Professor Returns

Glenn Reynolds is back from vacation and posting again on Instapundit.

Thanks, Glenn, for letting the three of us kids play on the Insta-lawn while you were out. And thanks for letting us stick around through the election.

Programming Note

Glenn Reynolds just emailed and asked Ann, Megan, and me if we want to stay on at Instapundit until the election. Of course I said yes.

Being Instapundit

Cows have four stomachs. Glenn Reynolds has six brains.

One reads the Internet. (Yes, the entire Internet.) A second brain thinks about what the first brain reads. A third answers his email. (I have access to his inbox. It gives a whole new meaning to the word “Instalanche.”) A fourth brain composes posts on Instapundit. A fifth writes columns for Tech Central Station, MSNBC, and The Guardian. A sixth teaches law.

So when Glenn goes on vacation he has to enlist at least three people (who only have one brain apiece, I might add) to fill in for him.

You know how it is when you click on over to Instapundit. He’s got links to seemingly everything over there. You’ll get a decent idea what’s going on in the country, in the world, and in his six brains just by scanning his list of links. If you click on over today and see what Ann Althouse, Megan McArdle, and I have posted you won’t get that. Sorry. We can’t cover everything. We need three more brains to do that.

Before I became one-third of Instapundit I didn’t know how he does it. Now I really don’t know how he does it. I’m kidding about the six brains. He doesn’t really have that many — I don’t think. He’s just a very talented person. It’s a good thing he makes decent money from blogads. Instapundit is a job.

Ann Althouse wrote about what it’s like for her to be another third of Instapundit. You and me both, Ann!

Open Thread

I’ll be back shortly, probably later on in the day. In the meantime, feel free to discuss whatever you feel like talking about in the comments.

The Joy of Sailing

I was going to post photos from my sailing trip to Gig Harbor this weekend, but I can’t find the cable that connects my digital camera to the computer. It’s around somewhere.

The weather was beautiful, as it turned out — a nice surprise for the Puget Sound in late October.

I don’t know much about sailing. My friends Adam and Christina took me out on their boat. They have the sailing bug, big time. I can see why. It’s one of the best ways to travel. It’s slow, to be sure. Taking seven hours to go 25 miles isn’t exactly efficient. But you aren’t strapped in your seat like you are in an airplane, a bus, or a car. You can get up and move around like you can on a train. It’s better than train travel, too, though, because you’re in control. Assuming the boat isn’t tiny, you have more room to sprawl out in than even in a first class sleeper car.

Arriving by boat isn’t like arriving any other way. You get to skip the ugly suburban sprawl and pull up right in the heart of the city. The harbor closes around you like embracing, welcoming arms. And after spending all day on the water, lashed by freezing wind, a cheeseburger and beer tastes like manna from heaven.

We saw ducks, dolphins, and seals. A rainbow over the jagged snow-capped peaks of the Olympics. Fall foliage on the deciduous trees among the evergreens.

Recommended if you’re in the area.

Instapundit Posts

It sure feels weird posting on Instapundit. The number of readers over there is about 100 times the number here. Good thing for me Glenn doesn’t have a comments section!

But I don’t want to hide from y’all. If you feel the need to yell at me for my posts over there (see here and here) this would be the place to do it.

Don’t forget to be nice to each other while you’re at it.

New Column

My latest Tech Central Station column is up. It’s about Turkey’s dicey relationship with the European Union: Turkey and the Problem of History.

Once More Into the Breach

Christopher Hitchens returns to The Nation to write one last column.

One of the editors of this magazine asked me if I would also say something about my personal evolution. I took him to mean: How do you like your new right-wing friends? In the space I have, I can only return the question. I prefer them to Pat Buchanan and Vladimir Putin and the cretinized British Conservative Party, or to the degraded, mendacious populism of Michael Moore, who compares the psychopathic murderers of Iraqis to the Minutemen. I am glad to have seen the day when a British Tory leader is repudiated by the White House. An irony of history, in the positive sense, is when Republicans are willing to risk a dangerous confrontation with an untenable and indefensible status quo.

I can say, and have said, much the same thing.

There’s a flip side to this, too. I may not vote for John Kerry, but I would stand shoulder to shoulder with him against Pat Robertson, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, James Dobson, Rick Santorum, Alan Keyes, and — gosh — I don’t know how many other Republicans. That’s why, despite the fact that I’ve been pushed toward to the right, I haven’t joined the right.

No one ever asks me, Hitchens, or anyone else who left the left what we think of our center-wing friends. You can’t ask that question sarcastically. So it doesn’t get asked. How do you like being independent and free? The question answers itself.

(Hat tip: Marc Cooper.)

Another Liberal for Bush

Marc Danziger, aka Armed Liberal, endorses the re-election of the president.

UPDATE: Jeff in the comments asks if I can recommend the work of any conservatives who oppose Bush for the sake of balance. Absolutely. Read Andrew Sullivan. Read him every day. I have not, I repeat not, joined the “I hate Andrew” club.

On the right sidebar of this blog I have permanently linked an essay in the New York Observer by Ron Rosenbaum called The Men Who Would be Orwell. It’s about Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens. What Rosenbaum said about Sullivan a few years ago is more true today than it was when he wrote it. That’s why some on the right won’t read him anymore. It’s also why I continue to read.

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