Monthly Archives: July 2006

World War IV

Late in 2004, I posted this piece at The Unrepentant Individual. Reading a story in the Washington Post today called The Guns of July, it drew a parallel between today’s fighting in Lebanon and the beginnings of World War I. It’s been hinted widely that the war against Radical Islam is a lot wider than simply Afghanistan and Iraq, and recent events in Lebanon and Israel might simply be the catalyst to start something truly horrifying. Below, I discussed a Norman Podhoretz essay from September 2004, and its implications discussing what may be the arrival of World War IV.

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World War IV: How It Started, What It Means, and Why We Have to Win

I found the above article, and really felt it put a lot into perspective. If you choose to take a look, bear in mind that it is long, but well worth reading if you have some time.

The article makes the claim that our current war on terror is only accurately understood if it is seen in the context not of a single war, but as World War IV (WWIII, of course, being the “cold” war against the Soviet Union). To put it succinctly, it describes the true nature of the war we are fighting, in historical, present, and future contexts.

The 9/11 Commission was tasked with determining how we allowed such an attack to occur. For the lefties (Michael Moore, Howard Dean, etc), it was Bush’s fault, for not doing enough to stop it. For the righties (Sean Hannity), it was Clinton, for not doing enough in the years leading up to Bush. But neither group is correct. Since the early 70’s, we’ve been regularly assaulted by a fanatical enemy bent on our destruction. All presidents, from Nixon up through Bush before 9/11, did not actually respond with true force to deter future attacks. We all woke up on 9/11, and this is the first article that I’ve read that really makes the point hit home. The groundwork for 9/11 was laid by 30 years of inactions, so assigning blame (as attempted by the 9/11 Commission) is bound to be fruitless.

As for the future of this war, the author draws many parallels to the conditions at the end of World War III, aka the Cold War. Perhaps Eastern Europe and Russia are still going through growing pains (i.e. Ukranian elections), but it is obvious that they are on the road to democracy and prosperity. Even more impressively, some of the nations most familiar with being under the boot of Soviet oppression are the closest US allies in this current war.

Suppose that we hang in long enough to carry World War IV to a comparably successful conclusion. What will victory mean this time around? Well, to us it will mean the elimination of another, and in some respects greater, threat to our safety and security. But because that threat cannot be eliminated without “draining the swamps” in which it breeds, victory will also entail the liberation of another group of countries from another species of totalitarian tyranny. As we can already see from Afghanistan and Iraq, liberation will no more result in the overnight establishment of ideal conditions in the Middle East than it has done in East Europe. But as we can also see from Afghanistan and Iraq, better things will immediately happen, and a genuine opportunity will be opened up for even better things to come.

The Anti-War group has been on our case about the troubles and difficulties faced in building a free Iraq. And not without cause, as this has certainly been a difficult and troublesome process. But anyone looking at the progress that has been made cannot believe that given the reality of a years- or decades-long struggle, that we are losing. A point made by Haim Harari in an April 2004 speech is highly important. Our two biggest remaining foes in the region, Iran and Syria, are now completely surrounded by hostile nations. I’ve been one of those hawkish fellows who has long wondered whether invading Iraq was only done first because it was more politically expedient than invading Iran, but had noted that we now have two flanks on Iran, which may be a way to exert greater pressure.

Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq.

As someone who naturally savors political debate, I am unfortunately drawn into the peculiarities of the specific debate at hand. An article like the above gives a much more adept look at the “big-picture view” of the situation. Specific debates over the nature, timing, or necessity of the invasion of Iraq truly boil down to something much more simple. If you view Islamic terror as mostly a reaction to our support of Israel, our foreign policy, and our export of American culture, then Iraq is just a bigger mistake that will cause the pot of Islamic terrorism to boil over. On the contrary, if you believe, as I do, and as this author does, that the United States is embroiled into a conflict accurately described as World War IV, you most likely support the invasion of Iraq. The article above makes a strong case for the latter.

Maryland’s Wal-Mart Law Struck Down

A Federal Judge has struck down the law passed by the Maryland legislature earlier this year which would have required Wal-Mart to provide health care for all its employees.

BALTIMORE — A federal judge on Wednesday overturned a Maryland law that would have required Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to spend more on employee health care, arguing the retail giant “faces threatened injury” from the law’s spending requirement.

The state law would have required large employers to spend at least 8 percent of payroll on health care or pay the difference in taxes. Only Wal-Mart would have been affected by the law.

However, U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz concluded that the law would have hurt Wal-Mart by requiring it to track and allocate benefits for its Maryland employees in a different way from how it keeps track of employee benefits in other states. Motz wrote that the law “imposes legally cognizable injury upon Wal-Mart.”

More details to come later, I’m sure, but this is definiately a good development and, for me at least, a surprising one. If nothing else, this will definitely have an impact on similar efforts in other states.

Update: The Post story has been expanded to included reaction and an analysis of Judge Motz’s ruling. The reaction of Maryland Senate President Miller is priceless:

Democrats, meanwhile, called the ruling an affront to everyday working people. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), one of the measure’s chief sponsors, said it was nothing less than a matter of “good versus evil.”

“These guys are billionaires,” Miller said. “It’s these guys versus the little people. We’re not going to let a big Arkansas corporation, protected by their contributions to the Republican party, avoid their basic responsibility to the citizens of Maryland.”

Miller noted that the measure is widely popular in the state. A Washington Post poll conducted last month found that 77 percent of registered voters supported the legislature’s efforts to force Wal-Mart to spend more on its employees’ health benefits.

Fortunately, we don’t like in a pure democracy sir, we live in a nation of laws where even 77 percent of the people can’t do whatever they want if its wrong.

As KipEsquire points out, though, this is hardly a victory for libertarians in a legal sense when you look at the basis for the ruling:

But those arguments did not satisfy Motz, who wrote in a 32-page opinion that the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act prevails when determining the types of health and pension plans that companies can offer their workers. And it also allows those companies to create a uniform system of benefits across several states.

The Maryland law, Motz wrote, “violates ERISA’s fundamental purpose of permitting multi-state employers to maintain nationwide health and welfare plans, providing uniform nationwide benefits and permitting uniform national administration.”

In other words, this was not a ruling that said that government doesn’t have the right to regulate employer-employee relationships when it comes to health care. It merely ruled that the Federal law trumps Maryland attempt at Socialism. A good result for the wrong reason, but probably the best we could’ve hoped for.

Update # 2: The full text of the opinion can be found here. (H/T: Professor Bainbridge)

Related Posts on this law at Below The Beltway:

Targeting WalMart
Hell Freezes Over
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
Well That Didn’t Take Long
More Socialism In The Free State

Little Tyrannies
A Pro-WalMart Blowback ?
Wal-Mart And The War Against The Poor II
First They Came For Wal-Mart
Increasing The Burden On The Productive
Another Bad Idea Spreading Like Wildfire

War on Drugs is a War on Freedom

I was listening to Boortz today, and he made the (not original, he admitted) point at the end of his show that we’re not really fighting a “War on Terror”. Terror is a tactic. That would be like saying we’re fighting a “War on Blitzkrieg” or a “War on Mutually Assured Destruction”. It makes no sense. However you define it, we’re fighting a “War on Terrorists”, not a “War on Terror”.

What other faux wars are we fighting? The “War on Drugs” comes to mind. Drugs aren’t our enemy. Drugs aren’t sentient beings out to destroy our culture. Just as we make the point that guns are just a tool, drugs are likewise just a tool. Guns allow you to project force well beyond that level which you could with your bare hands, and drugs allow you to get messed up well beyond that level which you could with your bare mind.

So we’re not really fighting a “War on Drugs”. We’re fighting a “War on Drug-Users, Drug-Producers, and Drug-Dealers”. Again, we’re not fighting some abstract thing such as drugs, we’re fighting PEOPLE.

Granted, (usually) we’re not trying to kill those people. But whether we’re trying to or not, our job is to use force to prohibit people from engaging in commerce and ingesting chemicals. We’re using force to fight voluntary, consensual behavior. Were it not for the violence that follows a black market, it would be peaceful behavior.

Can I call it a “War on Freedom”. Not really. This falls victim to the same problem as calling something a “War on Terror”. It’s really a war on people whose behavior we don’t like. Freedom, however, ends up being collateral damage.

The Only Way Out

In this morning’s Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer outlines what may be the only sensible way to end the Israeli-Hezbollah war in Lebanon. Krauthammer argues that this war has created a unique situation; the Arab world, and most of the rest of the world, seems united in the opinion that Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria have gone too far and are the ones primarily responsible for the current state of affairs. Clearly, something must be done about Hezbollah, but there is only one nation with the capability to do it:

The road to a solution is therefore clear: Israel liberates south Lebanon and gives it back to the Lebanese.

It starts by preparing the ground with air power, just as the Persian Gulf War began with a 40-day air campaign. But if all that happens is the air campaign, the result will be failure. Hezbollah will remain in place, Israel will remain under the gun, Lebanon will remain divided and unfree. And this war will start again at a time of Hezbollah and Iran’s choosing.

Just as in Kuwait in 1991, what must follow the air campaign is a land invasion to clear the ground and expel the occupier. Israel must retake south Lebanon and expel Hezbollah. It would then declare the obvious: that it has no claim to Lebanese territory and is prepared to withdraw and hand south Lebanon over to the Lebanese army (augmented perhaps by an international force), thus finally bringing about what the world has demanded — implementation of Resolution 1559 and restoration of south Lebanon to Lebanese sovereignty.

Given that every other effort to rein in Hezbollah has ended in failure and has resulted in death and misery for the people of Lebanon and the people of Israel, this certainly seems like the only way that this can really be brought to an end. Any solution that results in armed members of Hezbollah on the ground within striking distance of Israel is only a cease fire, not a resolution.

Several questions remain, of course. How would Syria and Iran react to such an Israeli offensive ? And, more importantly, Krauthammer wonders if the political will for such a move exists in Israel and the United States:

Does Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have the courage to do what is so obviously necessary? And will Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s upcoming peace trip to the Middle East force a premature cease-fire that spares her the humiliation of coming home empty-handed but prevents precisely the kind of decisive military outcome that would secure the interests of Israel, Lebanon, the moderate Arabs and the West?

Those questions are all the more important given this report from the Guardian:

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels.

“It’s clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week,” a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

Under the circumstances, setting a deadline doesn’t seem to make sense. If the problem is the existence of a terrorist army on Israel’s Northern border, then the solution to that problem is obvious; either destroy that army completely or push it far enough away from the border that it is no longer a threat. If this war ends with a situation on the ground that is not much different from what existed before the fighting started, then all the fighting will have been for nothing, and we will just be biding time until the next war.

Related Posts at The Liberty Papers:

The 2006 Arab-Israeli War
So Be It
How To Fix The Middle East

How to Fix the Middle East

I think I’ll declare today The Liberty Papers’ “Middle East Day”.

Now, on to business. I think that an overwhelming majority of the Israelis want nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity. At the same time, most of the “Palestinians” want nothing more than to live in peace and prosperity.

So let’s see what is needed to bring this about.

For the Israelis, they have a powerful military, plenty of technology and firepower, and in a shooting war, are the odds-on favorite. For them to stop fighting only requires one thing: that the terrorists stop blowing them up.

For the Palestinians, they have no military, no economy, and are incredibly resentful that they keep having Israeli tanks and artillery raining down on them. For them to stop having Israeli use overwhelming force only requires one thing: that they actually stop trying to blow Israelis up.

In reality, there is a possible future of a two-state solution. As long as that solution isn’t an interim step to wiping Israel “off the face of the map”, there can be a lasting peace. It is possible, although I don’t think it’s very likely these days. Several things have to happen for this to occur. First, the Palestinians need to have a government that respects individual rights, private property, and the rule of law. Right now, the Palestinian people have something to hate, but nothing to live for. As Golda Meir said, “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us”.

At the moment, there is no reason for Israel to continue a war. There is no monetary benefit. There is no wonderful territory to conquer. There are no necessary natural resources to exploit. It’s clear that the Israelis are fighting a defensive war against people who want to kill them. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the situation is completely “fair” to the “Palestinians”. As Chris pointed out:

I will concede several issues here. The creation of Israel was a blatantly illegal act, in so far as international law exists. The British and Americans basically drew some lines and said “Here jews; we feel guilty because we let 1/3 of you die, so you can have this country. Oh, there are some people here already, but we’ll move them out for you”.

Of course those people then fought a war against the jews, and they lost. They’ve been terrorists ever since. The Jews won, the Arabs lost, that was in 1948.

Had someone shown up, taken territory from me to give to someone else, I’d understandably be pissed. But look at what’s happened in the last 58 years. Israel became a thriving democracy. “Palestine” remained a desert wasteland. Why is that? Has Israel been keeping the Palestinians down? I don’t think so, because if you look within Israel itself, the population is about 18% Arab, and 16% Muslim. Within Israel, multiple religions live in mutual peace and respect. In fact, for the most part, the debate within Israel hinges upon whether they’re foretelling their own doom by respecting their Muslim population too much, rather than whether they’re oppressing them.

So what’s wrong with Palestine? Why have they gone from slightly beyond a stone-age society in 1948 to slightly beyond a stone-age society in 2006? That one is obvious. Their own ruling forces won’t allow it, and the nearby Arab societies use them as a proxy to foment war against Israel.

To solve the Arab-Israeli conflict only requires one thing: that the Arabs stop blowing up Jews. It’s that simple. Have the Israelis occasionally acted heavy-handidly in response? Sure, but after decades of terrorism, that’s somewhat expected. But until the Palestinians and Arabs allow their own citizens to flourish, creating a society where they can love life more than they hate Jews, the “cycle of violence” will continue.

I’ve said on numerous occasions that I think most people in this world are the same. They want to live in peace, in a society where they have freedom, opportunity, and the chance at a good life. That society doesn’t exist in Palestine, and at the moment, there are few signs of change. Until the Palestinians fault their own government for that problem instead of Israel, the current situation will continue. And a lot of people will die.

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