Thursday, January 31, 2008

How Hitler seduced the German population....

Here's an interesting 5-part article from Der Spiegel that tackles the question as to why the Germans embraced Hitler. "Führer propaganda and military success soon turned him into an idol. The adulation helped make the Third Reich catastrophe possible."

There were many reasons: media manipulation, inflaming the masses, finding stereotypes to blame for everything... Even though long, it's worth the read. I recommend that, after reading the Der Spiegel piece, one should read Andrew Bostom's Hitler and Muhammad piece.


A "bolibanana" situation:

...the other day while in Caracas I realized that even in the essential small pleasures of our life chavismo is robbing us. For example, today we cannot make "Arroz con Leche" anymore. In this respect the vain bolibanana revolution is a great equalizer: it is not a matter of money, neither the poor nor the rich can find the three basic ingredients of arroz con leche, namely milk, rice and sugar.
Read the whole article...

Perversion.

A Holocaust Carnival float in Brazil.

When the plot of a work of fiction becomes a recognized “hate crime”:...

Kafkaesque: "The official complaint about my "flagrant Islamophobia" filed by the Canadian Islamic Congress included my review of Mr Ferrigno's book..."

For background information on the case brought against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine before the Canadian Human Rights Commission go here and here

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sticks and stones may break my bones....

and the "Archbishop of Canterbury calls for new law to punish 'thoughtless or cruel' words."

Meet Ameer:

The comic book hero from the Philippines.


U.S. special operations forces have used comic books in information campaigns. But the characters were based on well-known American superheroes. Two years ago, two Army officers decided to create one from scratch to tell the children of the Sulu islands the story of what was happening in their homeland.
Read the rest of the article here.
(Hat Tip: Wired).

PEPFAR:

a medical Marshall Plan for Africa. And it's all thanks to President Bush!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Three Little Pigs: anti-Islamic activitiy?

Mark Steyn's take on the latest developments in Britain: "any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity”", according to Britain’s home secretary.

A while back, it was a local government council telling workers not to have knick-knacks on their desks representing Winnie-the-Pooh’s porcine sidekick, Piglet. As Martin Niemöller famously said, first they came for Piglet and I did not speak out because I was not a Disney character and, if I was, I’m more of an Eeyore. So then they came for the Three Little Pigs, and Babe, and by the time I realized my country had turned into a 24/7 Looney Tunes it was too late, because there was no Porky Pig to stammer “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” and bring the nightmare to an end.
******************
You remember the Three Little Pigs? One builds a house of straw, and another of sticks, and both get blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. Western civilization is a mighty house of bricks, but who needs a Big Bad Wolf when the pig’s so eager to demolish it himself?
Chatting with a 30-something English banker the other day, he pointed out to me that political correctness in Britain was stifling, because it was being rammed down people's throats from the top down. The average English person does not feel this way. They think their government's PC has run amok. Read Steyn's whole article.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Lech Walesa's Petition in Support of Cuban Dissidents.

Go here to find out what Poland is doing in support of Cuban dissidents and political prisoners. And then go here to sign the petition.

Hitler and Muhammad.


"During an interview conducted in the late 1930s (published in 1939), Karl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychiatry, was asked “…had he any views on what was likely to be the next step in religious development?” Jung replied, in reference to the Nazi fervor that had gripped Germany,

We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Muhammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god. That can be the historic future."
Go read Andrew Bostom's eye-opener of an article on Muhammad's influence on the Nazis.

There are Anti-Israel US Rallies Planned This Week.



Go to Gateway Pundit for details.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conspiracy theory...

about the lack of journalists (I presume, American and international journalists) in Al Anbar:

Ever since we started to have some success in Al Anbar, most journalists have been as hard to find around here as a cold beer. I have a conspiracy theory about this, the details of which I will not burden you. Suffice to say, I think that many of them have already decided that we lost in Iraq and they do not want to confuse themselves with the contrary facts. As a result, the American public perception of Iraq is frozen in 2006, when walking around as I did today in Haditha (see above) would have been deadly for all involved. Most of the media doesn’t know sh*t about Iraq today, but that doesn’t stop their pontification.


Jewish performers.

While it was common to change real names for stage names, there is something very sad about this list.

Original Birth Names of Jewish Performers:
Woody Allen — Alan Stewart Koenigsberg
June Allyson — Ella Geisman
Lauren Bacall — Betty Joan Perske
Jack Benny — Benjamin Kubelsky
Irving Berlin — Israel Baline
Milton Berle — Milton Berlinger
Joey Bishop —Joseph Gottlieb
Karen Black — Karen Blanche Ziegler
Victor Borge — Borge Rosenbaum
Fanny Brice — Fanny Borach
Mel Brooks — Melvin Kaminsky
George Burns — Nathan Birnbaum
Eddie Cantor — Edward Israel Iskowitz
Jeff Chandler — Ira Grossel

Lee J. Cobb — Amos Jacob
Tony Curtis — Bernard Schwartz
Rodney Dangerfield — Jacob Cohen
Kirk Douglas — Issue Danielovich Demsky
Melvyn Douglas — Melvyn Hesselberg
Bob Dylan — Bobby Zimmerman
Paulette Goddard — Marion Levy
Lee Grant — Lyova Geisman
Elliot G ould — Elliot Goldstein
Judy Holliday — Judith Tuvim
Al Jolson — Asa Yoelson
Danny Kaye — David Daniel Kaminsky
Michael Landon — Michael Orowitz
Steve Lawrence — Sidney Leibowitz
Jerry Lewis — Joseph Levitch
Peter Lorre — Lazlo Lowenstein
Elaine May — Elaine Berlin
Yves Montand — Ivo Levy
Mike Nichols — Michael Peschkowsky
Joan Rivers — Joan Molinsky
Edward G. Robinson — Emanuel Goldenberg
Jane Seymour — Joyce Penelope Frankenburg
Simone Signoret — Simone-Henriette Kaminker
Beverly Sills — Belle Silverman
Sophie Tucker — Sophia Kalish
Gene Wilder — Gerald Silberman

Jihad and hatred of Jews:

This is a very interesting book review of German author Matthias Küntzel's Jihad and Jew-Hatred by Jeffrey Goldberg in the NY Times Review of Books. Excerpt:

The anti-Semitic worldview, generally speaking, is fantastically stupid. [...]Anti-Semitic conspiracy literature not only posits crude and senseless ideas, but also tends to be riddled with typos, repetitions and gross errors of grammar, and for this and other reasons I occasionally have trouble taking it seriously.

The German scholar Matthias Küntzel tells us this is a mistake. He takes anti-Semitism, and in particular its most potent current strain, Muslim anti-Semitism, very seriously indeed. His bracing, even startling, book, “Jihad and Jew-Hatred” (translated by Colin Meade), reminds us that it is perilous to ignore idiotic ideas if these idiotic ideas are broadly, and fervently, believed. And across the Muslim world, the very worst ideas about Jews — intricate, outlandish conspiracy theories about their malevolent and absolute power over world affairs — have become scandalously ubiquitous. Hezbollah and Hamas, to name two prominent examples, understand the world largely through the prism of Jewish power. Hezbollah officials employ language that shamelessly echoes Nazi propaganda, describing Jews as parasites and tumors and prescribing the murder of Jews as a kind of chemotherapy.

The question is not only why, of course, but how: how did these ideas, especially those that portray Jews as all-powerful, work their way into modern-day Islamist discourse? The notion of the Jew as malevolently omnipotent is not a traditional Muslim notion. Jews do not come off well in the Koran — they connive and scheme and reject the message of the Prophet Muhammad — but they are shown to be, above all else, defeated. [...] In the Jim Crow Middle East, no one believed the Jews were in control.

Obviously, then, these modern-day ideas about Jewish power were imported from Europe, and Küntzel makes a bold and consequential argument: the dissemination of European models of anti-Semitism among Muslims was not haphazard, but an actual project of the Nazi Party, meant to turn Muslims against Jews and Zionism. He says that in the years before World War II, two Muslim leaders in particular willingly and knowingly carried Nazi ideology directly to the Muslim masses. They were Haj Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, and the Egyptian proto-Islamist Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. The story of the mufti is a familiar one: he was the leader of the Arabs in Palestine, and Palestine’s leading anti-Jewish agitator. He eventually embraced the Nazis and spent most of the war in Berlin, recruiting Bosnian Muslims for the SS and agitating for the harshest possible measures against Jews. Küntzel writes that the mufti became upset with Himmler in 1943, when he sought to trade 5,000 Jewish children for 20,000 German prisoners. Himmler came around to the mufti’s thinking, and the children were gassed.

Hassan al-Banna did not embrace Nazism in the same uncomplicated manner, but through the 1930s, his movement, aided by the Germans, led the drive against not only political Zionism but Jews in general. “This burgeoning Islamist movement was subsidized with German funds,” Küntzel writes. “These contributions enabled the Muslim Brotherhood to set up a printing plant with 24 employees and use the most up-to-date propaganda methods.” The Muslim Brotherhood, Küntzel goes on, was a crucial distributor of Arabic translations of “Mein Kampf” and the “Protocols.” Across the Arab world, he states, Nazi methods and ideology whipped up anti-Zionist fervor, and the effects of this concerted campaign are still being felt today.



Of trains and the Holocaust.

From Der Spiegel: "An exhibition dedicated to the role of the German national railway in the Holocaust has opened in Berlin. It marks the end of years of quarreling over whether the exhibition should be allowed to be shown in German train stations."


Time to learn more about the Tablighi Jamaat:

The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) name has come up before in connection with terrorism plots, including the October 2002 Portland Seven and the September 2002 Lackawanna Six cases in the United States, as well as the August 2006 plot to bomb airliners en route from London to the United States, the July 7, 2005, London Underground bombings and the July 2007 attempted bombings in London and Glasgow, Scotland.
Read the entire Terrorism Intelligence Report at Stratfor.

Good grief!

From the BBC:

"A story based on the Three Little Pigs has been turned down from a government agency's annual awards because the subject matter could offend Muslims."
Again, from the BBC:
An Afghan journalist has been sentenced to death by a provincial court for distributing "blasphemous" material.
In the Netherlands,
The Dutch government is set to impose a ban on the Muslim burqa in schools and government offices.
But in Finland,
Finnish Swimming Halls Closed to Non-Muslims For Islamic Swimming.......
Finally, an American historian claims that
the West would be better off if it had been incorporated into an all-conquering Islamic empire in the early Middle Ages.
His reviewer comments:

OK.

Still, it's fair to wonder why, if that's true, the West ended up with the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and the Scientific Revolution and the Islamic world got chronic underdevelopment, a pervasive religious obscurantism, Al Qaeda and the trust fund states of the Arabian peninsula? It's also fair to point out that both the Muslim philosopher Averroës and the Jewish philosopher-physician Maimonides were sent fleeing for their lives by Islamic fundamentalists and not the Christian Reconquista. Moreover, the Carolingian incursion into Spain -- over which Lewis frets so forcefully -- was undertaken in response to an invitation by Saracen grandees fearful of Abd al-Rahman's expanding hegemony.


Questioning the morality...

of nuclear weapons.

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Canada withdraws from Durban II because...

Canada is interested in combating racism, not promoting it.

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Trying to bring America to its knees...

Another axis of evil: Tehran, Caracas and Havana.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Meet Seyran Ates, named Germany's woman of the year in 2005 for her work in defense of Muslim women in immigrant communities.


Ates blames the rise of political Islam in Europe in great part on what she calls excessive tolerance, both by the left and the right, of repressive traditions of minority cultures — and a widespread unwillingness to integrate immigrants into mainstream society. She calls it the "Multicultural Mistake," also the title of her recently published book.
Read the whole interview or listen to it here.

Hat Tip: Altas Shrugs.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"...the west's values and way of life are under threat,

...but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them."

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the "imminent" spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west's most senior military officers and strategists.



And now, check out The Few. The Proud. The Morons.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

News from Iraq:

"Iraqi football player Nashaat Akram signed for British Premier League club Manchester City, ...the first Iraqi in the history of British football pitches..."

There is a new radio station in Falluja.

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Poland's fear.

More on freedom of expression:

"Polish prosecutors are considering taking the unusual step of filing criminal charges against an Ivy League professor for allegedly "slandering the Polish nation" in a book that describes how Poles victimized Jewish survivors of the Holocaust in the aftermath of World War II."


UPDATE:
Since the Poles staunchly resisted the Nazi aggression and were themselves victims of Hitler's policy of genocide, many saw – and continue to see – themselves exclusively in the role of war victims. For that reason they consider any allegation that casts Poles in the role of perpetrators a brazen effrontery, if not a direct attack on the Polish people. Accordingly, even events that took place after World War II, in particular the pogrom in Kielce, are seen by many historians as a provocation by the (Polish or even Soviet) secret service, which sought to damage Poland's image in Western Europe and secure its adhesion to the Russian sphere of influence.
Read it all here.

Human rights and deception...or entrapment?

Or maybe an inquisition? Canadian taxpayers' dollars at work: when the plaintiff posts nasty comments on a website and then uses them as part of his complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).

Since Canada is a signatory to the OSCE, maybe the CHRC might be inspired by the OSCE's statement of last June "addressing racist, xenophobic and discriminatory public discourse spread through, inter alia, the media, Internet, satellite TV and textbooks, while respecting freedom of expression".

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Monday, January 21, 2008

The festival of Ashura, as practiced in New York:


The New York Daily News describes the festival.

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Understanding the mind of a jihad-driven Muslim:

Read TAWFIK HAMID's description of how he became a jihadist. Here are excerpts:

By immersing myself in Salafi ideology, I was better able to judge the impact of its violent tenets on the minds of its followers. Among the more appalling notions it supports are the enslavement and rape of female war prisoners and the beating of women to discipline them. It permits polygamy and pedophilia. It refers to Jews as "pigs and monkeys" and exhorts believers to kill them before the end of days: Say: "Shall I tell you who, in the sight of God, deserves a yet worse retribution than these? Those [the Jews] whom God has rejected and whom He has condemned, and whom He has turned into monkeys and pigs because they worshiped the powers of evil: these are yet worse in station, and farther astray from the right path [than the mockers]" (Koran 5:60). Homosexuals are to be killed as well; to cite one of many examples, on July 19, 2000, two gay teenagers were hanged in Iran for no other crime than being gay.

These doctrines are not taken out of context, as many apologists for Islamism argue: They are central to the faith and ethics of millions of Muslims, and are currently being taught as part of the standard curriculum in many Islamic educational systems in the Middle East as well in the West.

Moreover, there is no single approved Islamic textbook that contradicts or provides an alternative to the passages I have cited. It has thus become clear to me that Salafi ideology is what is largely responsible for the so-called "clash of civilizations." Consequently, I have chosen to combat Salafism by exposing it and by providing an alternative, peaceful and theologically rigorous interpretation of the Koran.
*************Salafi indoctrination operates through written words and careful coaching. It is enormously seductive. It rapidly changed me into a jihadi. Salafi sacred texts exert a powerful influence on millions of Muslim followers throughout the world, and terrorism is only one symptom of the Salafi disease. Salafi doctrine, which is at the root of the West's confrontation with Islamism, poses an existential threat to us all - including Muslims.

Indeed, Salafism robs young Muslims of their soul, it turns Western communities against them, and it can end in civil war as Muslims attempt to implement shari'a in their host countries. A peaceful interpretation of Islam is possible, but the Salafi establishment is currently blocking moderate theological reform. The civilized world ought to recognize the immense danger that Salafi Islam poses; it must become informed, courageous and united if it is to protect both a generation of young Muslims and the rest of humanity from the disastrous consequences of this militant ideology.

Human rights: making progress...

Women in Saudi Arabia can now stay in a hotel or a furnished apartment without a male guardian according to decision by the Ministry of Trade, reported the local press Monday.

Blogging about Iraq.

Meet Michael Yon, a blogger journalist who is now famous enough to be profiled by The New York Times.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Syphilis:

Christopher Columbus' real discovery.

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America is confused.

Opinion regarding US elections from a German perspective.

Hunting down Nazis.

Operation Last Chance. The director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, says "the argument that Nazi war criminals are now too old to stand trial isn't acceptable." I agree.

Read the whole article.


Monday, January 14, 2008

A Poison Tree ~ by William Blake


I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine,--

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.



The offical mouthpiece of the State Department: on human trafficking.

I read something today in a blog concerning State Magazine, the US State Department issued magazine, which is always blamed for being the "State Department's official mouthpiece". Maybe.

Yet, this same magazine does present stories that are eye-openers. Witness this month's expose on human trafficking, and what the US government has been able to accomplish through the State Department's small office (comprised of 23 Civil Service personnel, 3 Presidential management Fellows, 4 contractors and 1 Foreign Service Officer):

In part because of the [Trafficking in Persons] report,
• Cambodia shut down a red-light district where 10-year-olds were openly sold and prostituted and “cheap girls” were advertised onthe Internet.
• Japan slashed the number of entertainment visas issued to certified Filipina dancers, singers or other entertainers because traffickers were forcing many of these women into prostitution.
• The United Arab Emirates eliminated the exploitation of South Asian boys as camel-racing jockeys and paid for the repatriation of more than 1,000 boys to their home countries.
Go read the whole article here, even if it is a State Department "official mouthpiece".

Of German condescension and Polish prejudices.

There is a fascinating interview by Spiegel magazine of the former Polish Ambassador to Germany and the US, on the thorny issues involving German-Polish relations.

I know that Poland cannot expect special moral treatment in German policy forever. That would be unrealistic. But I must confess that I am troubled by the fact that in 15 years, Berlin will have only two historic symbols of preeminent importance, the Holocaust memorial and the center for the displaced. A certain sensitivity to history is still a prerequisite to a good relationship between our nations today.
Read the whole article.

Liberal fascism.

Mark Steyn on totalitarianism:

Socialism does not inevitably lead to National Socialism, but in the early thirties statism of one degree or another — Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism — was all the rage, and liberal democracy was assumed by all the great thinkers to be inadequate as an organizing basis for society. If you're lucky, the totalitarian turn-on extends only to the "great thinkers," from H.G. Wells arguing for a non-democratic "world state" run by scientists and technocrats to Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn and the other Hollywood big shots squealing orgasmically through their photo-ops with Hugo Chávez ("I'm a fan," Oliver Stone told him). Even when they're not in thrall to the personality dictators, a big chunk of Western elites have a strange yen for the sterner ways of distant cultures, from Hillary Clinton's Hallmark sentimentalization ("It Takes A Village," etc.) of a tribal existence that's truly nasty, brutish and short to Germaine Greer's more explicit defence of "female genital mutilation."
Read the whole article.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A kiss of gratitude before dying.


A suicide bomb, Iraqi citizens and 3 Iraqi soldier heroes: Malik Abdul Ghanem, Asa’ad Hussein Ali, and Abdul-Hamza Abdul-Hassan Rissan. Read the stories here, here and here.

"A democratic Iraq is George Bush's formidable legacy, and ...

the Arabs will be talking about him long after his contemporary critics bite the dust and are forgotten." So writes Salim Mansur. He explains what ails the Arabs:

... the malignancy of the Middle East, ignored by the West and the previous occupants of the White House, would strike New York City, bringing the Arab-Muslim world's politics of fanatical hate, deep-seated resentment and a mountain of grievances to the shores of the United States.

The Arabs had squandered the 20th century just as they slept through much of the previous four centuries, while the West created a whole new world of science and democracy.

The independence won for the Arabs from the rule of the Ottoman Turks by Britain and France at the end of the First World War eventually became a cruel mockery with a people -- despite the resources and goodwill available -- incapable of lifting themselves up from the broken ruins of their tribal culture.

This is the root cause of Arab failure, and instead of embracing the modern world by reforming its culture the Arab political class has indulged in blaming others, most particularly Jews and Israel.
.......
Iraqis -- Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds -- now bear responsibility that comes with freedom to write a new history for Arabs as, for instance, the far more populous and ethnically diverse people of India are doing.

Read the whole article.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

All about the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq.



Differences between the East and the West.



Here's more of a great graphic and visual rendition of cultural differences!

More on Iraq.

Yesterday the Iraqis celebrated the 86th annual Police Day ceremony.


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Two Senators speak:

The surge has worked:

The question we face, on the first anniversary of the surge, is no longer whether the president's decision a year ago was the right one, or if the counterinsurgency strategy developed by Gen. Petraeus is working. It is.

The question now is where we go from here to sustain the progress we have achieved -- and in particular, how soon can more of our troops come home, based on the success of the surge.
...
If the mismanagement of the Iraq war from 2003 to 2006 exposed our government's capacity for incompetence, Gen. Petraeus' leadership this past year, and the conduct of the troops under his command, have reminded us of our capacity for the wisdom, the courage and the leadership that has always rallied our nation to greatness.
...
The war for Iraq is not over. The gains we have made can be lost. But thanks to the courage of our troops, the skill and intellect of their battlefield commander, and the steadfastness of our commander in chief, we have at last begun to see the contours of what must remain our objective in this long, hard and absolutely necessary war -- victory.

Anbar, a lost cause or a success story?

Regarding once lost Anbar Province: "Iraq's western province of Anbar, hotbed of the Sunni Arab insurgency for the first four years of the war, will be returned to Iraqi control in March, a senior U.S. general said Thursday."

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

America's fault.

Victor Davis Hanson 's take on the latest blame game:

The common denominator is that it is somehow America’s fault for: either “propping” up a dictator,” or not pressing him enough to reform, or naively backing him up against a wall, or demanding he fight terrorists, or giving him a pass not to fight terrorists, or rigging an American-backed Bhutto return, or exposing a brave heroine to the clutches of her enemies without proper security, or this or that or that or this.

And these endless, and self-contradictory indictments are often voiced by Pakistani elites of two types. They are either opposition figures whose past careers are ample proof of corruption and lost opportunities — or expatriate intellectuals in European capitals and American universities (who sound like they had a little bit more opportunity at the good life than those who grow up in El Paso or Bakersfield), endlessly faulting some aspect of U.S. foreign policy — always forgetting why they are here and not over in Pakistan, and why perhaps they might do more good to match their idealistic and often vituperative rhetoric by returning to the land of their birth to enact real change on the ground, a country that sorely needs those with such international experience and expertise.
Read the whole article. And, also, check out an earlier one here.

Explaining the United States.

A friend sent me this Stratfor net assessment of the US. Unfortunately, the link is for members only. I will carry a copy of this assessment with me to give out to people who have a hard time understanding what the US is all about, or insist that the US is exactly the same as any other country. Here are some excerpts:

You can look at the United States and be awed by its dynamic power, and terrified by it at the same time.

All nations have complex psyches, but the American is particularly complex, contradictory and divisive. It is torn between two poles: dread and hubris. They alternate and compete and tear at each other. Neither dominates. They are both just there, tied to each other. The dread comes from a feeling of impending doom, the hubris from constantly overcoming it.

Hubris is built into American history. The American republic was founded to be an exemplary regime, one that should be emulated. This sense of exceptionality was buttressed by the doctrine of manifest destiny, the idea that the United States in due course would dominate the continent. Americans pushed inward to discover verdant horizons filled with riches one after another, indelibly impressing upon them that life was supposed to get better and that setbacks were somehow unnatural. It is hard not to be an economic superpower when you effectively have an entire continent to yourself, and it is especially hard not to be a global economic hegemon once you've tamed that continent and use it as a base from which to push out. But the greatest driver for American hubris was the extraordinary economic success of the United States, and in particular its extraordinary technological achievements. There is a sense that there is nothing that the United States cannot achieve - and no limits to American power.

But underlying this extraordinary self-confidence is a sense of dread. To understand the dread, we have to understand the 1930s. The 1920s were a time of apparent peace and prosperity: World War I was over, and the United States was secure and prosperous. The market crash of 1929, followed by the Great Depression, imprinted itself on the American psyche. There is a perpetual fear that underneath the apparent prosperity of our time, economic catastrophe lurks. It is a sense that well-being masks a deep economic sickness. Part of the American psyche is braced for disaster.
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This fault line consistently polarizes American politics, dividing it between those who overestimate American power and those who underestimate it. In domestic politics, every boom brings claims that the United States has created a New Economy that has abolished the business cycle. Every shift in the business cycle brings out the faction that believes the collapse of the American economy is just over the horizon. Sometimes, the same people say both things within months of each other.

The purpose of a net assessment is not to measure such perceptions, but to try to benchmark military, economic and political reality, treating the United States as if it were a foreign country. We begin by "being stupid": that is, by stating the obvious and building from it, rather than beginning with complex theories. In looking at the United States, two obvious facts come to light.

First, the United States controls all of the oceans in the world. No nation in human history has controlled the oceans so absolutely. That means the United States has the potential to control, if it wishes, the flow of goods through the world's oceans - which is the majority of international trade. Since World War II, the United States has used this power selectively. In general, it has used its extraordinary naval superiority to guarantee free navigation, because international trade has been one of the foundations of American prosperity. But it has occasionally used its power as a tool to shape foreign affairs or to punish antagonistic powers. Control of the oceans also means that the United States can invade other countries, and that - unless Canada or Mexico became much more powerful than they are now - other countries cannot invade the United States.

Second, no economy in the world is as large as the American economy. In 2006, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States was about $13.2 trillion. That is 27.5 percent of all goods and services produced in the world for that year, and it is larger than the combined GDPs of the next four countries - Japan, Germany, China and the United Kingdom. In spite of de-industrialization, industrial production in the United States was $2.1 trillion, equal to Japan's, China's and Germany's industrial production combined. You can argue with the numbers, and weight them any number of ways, but the fact is that the United States is economically huge, staggeringly so. Everything from trade deficits to subprime mortgage crises must be weighed against the sheer size of the American economy and the fact that it is and has been expanding.

If you begin by being stupid instead of sophisticated, you are immediately struck by the enormity of American military power, based particularly on its naval power and its economic power, which in turn is based on the size and relative balance of the economy. The United States is the 2,000-pound gorilla of the international system. That means blows that would demolish other nations are absorbed with relative ease by the United States, while at the same time drawing howls of anguish that would lead you to assume the United States is on the eve of destruction. That much military and economic power does not collapse very easily or quickly.

The United States has two simple strategic goals. The first is to protect itself physically from attack to ensure its economy continues to flourish. Attacks against the United States are unpleasant, but invasion by a foreign power is catastrophic. Therefore the second goal is to maintain control of the seas. So long as the oceans are controlled by the U.S. Navy - and barring nuclear attack - the physical protection of the United States is assured. Therefore the United States has two interests. The first is preventing other nations from challenging American naval hegemony. The second is preventing other nations from acquiring nuclear weapons, and intimidating those who already have them.

The best way to prevent a challenge by another fleet is to make certain the fleet is never built. The best way to do that is to prevent the rise of regional hegemons, particularly in Eurasia, that are secure enough to build navies.
************
The operative term for the United States is "huge." The size of its economy and the control of the world's oceans are the two pillars of American power, and they are intimately connected. So long as the United States has more than 25 percent of the world's GDP and dominates the oceans, what the world thinks of it, or what it thinks of itself, is of little consequence. Power is power and those two simple, obvious facts trump all sophisticated theorizing.

Nothing that has happened in the Middle East, or in Vietnam a generation ago or in Korea a generation before that, can change the objective foundations of American power. Indeed, on close examination, what appears to be irrational behavior by the United States makes a great deal of sense in this context. A nation this powerful can take extreme risks, suffer substantial failures, engage in irrational activity and get away with it. But, in fact, regardless of perception, American risks are calculated, the failures are more apparent than real and the irrational activity is more rational than it might appear. Presidents and pundits might not fully understand what they are doing or thinking, but in a nation of more than 300 million people, policy is shaped by impersonal forces more than by leaders or public opinion. Explaining how that works is for another time.

The magnitude of American power can only be seen by stepping back. Then the weaknesses are placed into context and diminish in significance. A net assessment is designed to do that. It is designed to consider the United States "on the whole." And in considering the United States on the whole, we are struck by two facts: massive power and cultural bipolar disorder. But the essence of geopolitics is that culture follows power; as the United States matures, its cultural bipolarity will subside.
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The United States is a powerful, complex and in many ways tortured society. But it is the only global power - and, as such, it is the nation all others must reckon with.



"In a war, I think that news should be written like the sports pages ...

-- when the local team wins a good newspaper ought to celebrate, and when it loses it should lament and inquire into the reasons. Behold an excellent example ..."

From TigerHawk.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

"The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII".

1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.


Hat Tip: The Anchoress.

Happy New Year!

Some items to share:
Best New Year's Resolution? A 'Stop Doing' List by Jim Collins.

Secrets of Weight Loss Revealed! A little is easy, a lot is hard...

Sinus problems? Wash them away. Via Instapundit.

In a safer Baghdad, Iraqis party for 2008

U.S. Special Forces On Standby To Safeguard Pakistan Nuclear Arsenal

General Petraeus: man with a message of hope

The fact that there will be no demonstrations against environmentally destructive divorcees, who probably emit as much extra carbon dioxide as the average SUV, suggests that the desire to save the planet is not nearly as powerful as the desire to destroy a way of life. Theodore Dalrymple.

"Over a span of nearly 200 years, about 2,000 people, from lost children to Napoleon's soldiers, were rescued because of the heroic dogs' uncanny sense of direction and resistance to cold."

An exclusive list of 28 places the Smithsonian reader might wish to visit before ...it's too late.

A Natural History of Terrible Things: a story of war and the Warsaw zoo. I am reading this book, and it is beautifully written. The Zabinskis deserved their place as the righteous among the nations.