Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ft. Hood, Berlin Wall, Obamacare Candor, Iraqi Progress, Peace Process Failure, Mad Men

The Wall Street Journal opinion pages today cover a wide range of topics currently in the news.

Dorothy Rabinowitz has one of her rare, ever welcome op-eds, this one on (as she puts it) "the growing derangement on all matters involving terrorism and Muslim sensitivities." Discussing the Ft. Hood massacre, she includes some choice words for Dr. Phil.

A shocked Dr. Phil, appalled that the guest had publicly mentioned Maj. Hasan's Islamic identity, went on to present what was, in essence, the case for Maj. Hasan as victim. Victim of deployment, of the Army, of the stresses of a new kind of terrible war unlike any other we have known. Unlike, can he have meant, the kind endured by those lucky Americans who fought and died at Iwo Jima, say, or the Ardennes?

The quality and thrust of this argument was best captured by the impassioned Dr. Phil, who asked us to consider, "how far out of touch with reality do you have to be to kill your fellow Americans . . . this is not a well act." And how far out of touch with reality is such a question, one asks in return—not only of Dr. Phil, but of the legions of commentators like him immersed in the labyrinths of motive hunting even as the details of Maj. Hasan's proclivities became ever clearer and more ominous.

To kill your fellow Americans—as many as possible, unarmed and in the most helpless of circumstances, while shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great), requires, of course, only murderous hatred—the sort of mindset that regularly eludes the Dr. Phils of our world as the motive for mass murder of this kind.


I strongly suspect that if Maj. Hasan were a fundamentalist Christian, there would be no invocation of psychobabble to try to explain away his actions.

Fouad Ajami marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and contrasts the roles played by President Reagan - the major player bringing about the collapse and Mikhail Gorbachev -
"Gorbachev's role, though honorable, has been exaggerated," British historian Norman Davies writes in his monumental book, "Europe: A History." "He was not the architect of East Europe's freedom: he was the lock-keeper who, seeing the dam about to burst, decided to open the floodgates and to let the water flow. The dam burst in any case; but it did so without the threat of a violent catastrophe."


President Obama has been criticized for not attending the commemoration of the event, but I, for one, am glad he stayed away. The collapse of Soviet communism was the result of decades of a principled, determined and forceful dedication to anti-totalitarian values. It was achieved by heroic champions of those values, Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul 2, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman among others. Barack Obama, with his inclination for accomodating tyranny, not fighting it, would only be out of place. As NRO's Rich Lowry pointed out, he's better suited to attending events centerimg around himself, as when he visited Berlin on a campaign stop last July. Literally mailing in his attendance for this year's celebration with a video recording is what Obama is all about. (as NRO pointed out, "change you can rewind").

Yesterday's WSJ carried an op-ed by former Reagan speechwriter Anthony R. Dolan, recounting the process by which Reagan's history altering, "Tear down this wall" speech came to be. It takes a vivid imagination to picture our current president making a similar demand.


An editorial spotlights a liberal journalist, John Cassidy of The New Yorker, candidly betraying the truth behind the push for government controlled health care.

"Let's not pretend that it isn't a big deal, or that it will be self-financing, or that it will work out exactly as planned. It won't. What is really unfolding, I suspect, is the scenario that many conservatives feared. The Obama Administration . . . is creating a new entitlement program, which, once established, will be virtually impossible to rescind."
Why are they doing it? Because, according to Mr. Cassidy, ObamaCare serves the twin goals of "making the United States a more equitable country" and furthering the Democrats' "political calculus." In other words, the purpose is to further redistribute income by putting health care further under government control, and in the process making the middle class more dependent on government. As the party of government, Democrats will benefit over the long run.


And more good news from Iraq as its parliament agreed on an election arrangement for the country's January 21 national referendum, the first since 2005.

"There was a lot of discussion, a lot of arguing, but we finally were forced to listen to each other," Kurdish lawmaker Ala Talabani told the Washington Post. "It's a nice feeling—that we're on the path of real democracy."
Disputes among the three largest Iraqi communities—Kurd, Shiite and Sunni—can be bitterly fought. But now the setting is usually in the halls of parliament or Iraq's many media outlets, and these fights don't pose a danger to a unified Iraq.

Assuming Obama doesn't screw it up, (and it's a shaky assumption - see my next item), Iraq is slowly, but inexorably building itself up as the model Arab/Muslim democracy in the Middle East - peaceful, tolerant and enduring. What a glorious, revolutionary outcome that would be! What a remarkable change from the murderous, oppressive and above all, dangerous regime that nation harbored not all that long ago.


Not in the WSJ but on NRO, Elliott Abrams details the mess that Obama and his diplomats have made of the Mideast "peace process". As long as the Palestinians are ruled by a terrorist group, nothing good was ever going to come out of it anyway, but the administration's incoherence and incompetence does much to extend its growing reputation as a bunch of bungling neophytes.

The net result of the administration’s approach is a massive policy failure. The Obama administration has weakened the Palestinian leadership it meant to strengthen, weakened the alliance with Israel by its hostility to Israel’s government, weakened its own reputation in Arab capitals for strength and reliability, and painted itself into a policy corner. For where does it go now?


And finally, the recognition that the final episode of this season's "Mad Men" was the best one to date, maybe even the best single TV episode I've ever seen.

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