Category: The Wide World

A Modest Proposal For Leaving the United Nations

If the US should ever dissolve its UN membership, it should do it with style. Here’s the plan.

  1. Upon leaving, the US evicts the UN from its Manhattan headquarters.
  2. The UN is allowed to take with it every loose item except for the furnishings in the General Assembly room and the flags displayed in front.
  3. A plaque is erected at the base of each flagpole. Each will have the name of the UN member nation whose flag flew there during te UN’s occupancy of the building, and a built-in screen computer monitor (or some other editable medium) that displays the major treaties, international organizations, and UN councils to which that nation is a party. A similar monument will grace the flagpole where the UN flag once flew, and a newly-constructed flagpole dedicated to all non-UN-member nations.
  4. The General Assembly room is preserved as a museum and a sort of computerized library. Each seat where delegates once sat has a computer monitor where visitors can access the local database for historical information (general history, UN activity, human rights record) on each nation in the world.
  5. The remaining interior is transformed into apartment units that will serve a special purpose…
  6. With fanfare and ceremonies, the building reopens as a hostel for refugees fleeing persecution in foreign lands.
  7. The hostel will fly the flags of those nations represented by its current refugee population. If the hostel has at least one tenant who is a UN employee or peacekeeping soldier and whose persecution is directly related to UN activity (example: a whistleblower), the UN flag will fly. If the UN persecution is being abetted by the tenant’s nation of origin, that nation’s flag will fly, too.

Update: Who should be invited to the grand opening? I’d start the invitation list by including a survivor or two from every genocide that occurred under the noses of UN forces. Add the heads of state from Iraq, Afghanistan, and any other nation we liberated with UN disapproval. And a UN-unfriendly gathering wouldn’t be complete without the Israeli prime minister.

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How Do You Say “Al Gore” In Tajik?

The election is over, the official results say his opponent won, but he won’t concede defeat. Yunus Qanooni lost the presidential election in Afghanistan to Hamid Karzai:
Qanooni’s running mate, Syed Hussein Alemi Balkhi, said the report was “unacceptable” but stopped short of saying that they would reject the election result.
“We had a lot of questions, but the panel was not able to answer them,” Balkhi said. “We are not satisfied with their findings.”
No word yet on whether David Boies has been called to the scene.

Thanks a bunch

Mark Steyn writes what I’ve been thinking privately for a while now:
In America, plenty of old-school “realist” Republicans were sceptical of the war. So were various self-important Brits, on the grounds that the blundering Yanks just don’t understand the natives the way we old colonial hands do – an argument that would be more persuasive if so many of the trouble spots currently requiring America’s attention weren’t assisted on their path to chronic dysfunctionalism by the wise old birds of British imperialism (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan).
And they say America isn’t the world’s policeman. Who else is it going to be, pray tell?

Traffic stopper

Something tells me that Tim Blair is seriously considering moving to Rome and becoming a traffic cop:
Traffic police patrolling a motorway in southern Italy have a tough decision to take: who will get to drive the force’s first Lamborghini Gallardo?
The gift from Lamborghini has been unveiled in all its blue and white glory, marked with the word “Polizia”.


You know, I’m not a car person, and even I’m swooning at the sight of this beauty.
“Can I help you, officer?”

Why did it happen?

There is a sentiment among some that the Soviet Union was going to collapse anyway, and that Reagan didn’t have anything to do with it – he was simply fortunate enough to be President at the right time. This assumes that the root cause was the Soviet economy. (Never mind that some of the “it was gonna happen anyway” crowd once praised the Soviet economic machine.)
But there’s a problem with this theory. History shows that governments can eviscerate their nations’ economies and survive for quite some time. Cuba is a prime example: its economy collapsed decades ago, yet Castro managed to hold power for over 40 years, longer than any head of state in modern times. North Korea has been Communist for ten years longer, and during its entire existence the dictatorship has remained in one family. (Marxian hereditary monarchy?) Nations such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq have rich oil deposits, but the percentage of the population that actually benefits from petrodollars is quite small, although probably not as small as the privileged elite class in any given Communist nation.
So what was unique about the Warsaw Pact nations? They, and they alone, were involved in an arms race with the United States. And they lost. And the Warsaw Pact governments needed to save face. Much of their domestic propaganda had focused on their ability to rattle the US. Cuba and North Korea never had such pretensions. (If their “defiance” of the US appeals to anyone, it appeals to Western leftists, UN flacks, and fellow tinhorn despots, not to their subjects.) I believe that this need to save face is what influenced glasnost and perestroika, what I referred to as “Plan B” in my previous post.
I can identify one other aspect of the Warsaw Pact not found in other Communist nations: the degree to which its atrocities, particularly the Soviet gulag, has been documented. Perhaps the party chiefs saw the need to downplay the Evil Empire image, just as Khruschev saw the need to condemn Stalin.
Update: Bjørn Stærk asked his readers to offer their opinions on Reagan’s reputed role in the collapse of the USSR. I excerpted much of this post and threw in an additional remark:
In retrospect, citing the Saudis and Iraq as an example wasn’t a good idea. The Saudi and Saddam-era governments had plenty of cash despite the dysfunctions of their economies at large. The Soviets crisis arose when the public sector was becoming as cash-starved as the private sector.

Cuba horrified at Abu Ghraib abuses

Granma supplies a triple shot of Commie chutzpah with this headline: Bush and Rumsfeld held responsible for torture of prisoners. First is the use of the word “torture,” which accurately describes very few of the abuses. Second, and most obvious, Granma speaks ill of torture, while stuff like this happens in Cuban prisons:

I had many friends in prison. One of them, Roberto López Chávez, was just a kid. He went on a hunger strike to protest the abuses. The guards denied him water, Roberto lay on the floor of his punishment cell, agonizing, deliriously asking for water. water? The soldiers came in and asked him: “Do you want water?”? The they took out their members and urinated in his mouth, on his face? He died the following day. We were cellmates; when he died I felt something wither inside me.
I recall when they kept me in a punishment cell, naked, with several fractures on one leg which never received medical care; today, those bones remain jammed up together and displaced. One of the regular drills among the guards was to stand on the steel mesh ceiling and throw at my face buckets full of urine and excrement.

And third? The article is about the New York Times and the Washington Post raising criticisms of the Bush administration’s response to the scandal. See it? Let me put it another way: it’s about government accountability to a free press.

But what about the children?

I’ll be digging into the ol’ blog vault again. In my first month of blogging I did a couple of posts on two Palestinian women who expressed opposite reactions to the “martyrdom” of their children. While these bombings were conducted by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, they are representative of the operations of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and all other terrorist organizations in Israel. This is Sheik Yassin’s legacy: a society cajoled and pressured into celebrating the deaths of loved ones.
Here is the first post:
Back in April, Jay Manifold wrote this commentary on the Mideast conflict, which included a noteworthy quote from Dennis Prager:

“The second more frightening aspect of Arab/Muslim Jew-hatred is that many of these haters do not value their own lives.”

What brought this to mind is this translation by MEMRI of an interview with Umm Nidal, the mother of a Palestinian suicide bomber (original source: Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, an Arabic-language daily in London). There are two possibilities: that the woman was parroting lines fed to her by terrorist handlers, or, even more frightening, that she was speaking from her heart.
These lines from the song “Russians,” recorded by British rock star Sting during the height of the Cold War, also come to mind:

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

[In the original post I should have commented that the parental attitudes of the overall Russian population were irrelevant to the outcome of the Cold War as long as it had no voice in government. Note to Sting: it’s the political leadership, stupid.]
Conscious desire for losing one’s children to suicide attacks isn’t exactly the sort of thing that basic maternal instincts allow one to regard as a loving act. It takes an extreme step away from human nature for a mom like Umm Nidal to make the statements she did in the interview and mean it (assuming she was not under some extreme outside pressure). I won’t make any bets as to whether or not they constitute a majority, but I imagine that there’s a lot of Palestinian moms who don’t want to go along with the human-sacrifice-for-peace program. I hope that some day they will be liberated from their terrorist masters.
Now for the second post:
In Part 1, I expressed wonder if Palestinian mom Umm Nidal was really speaking her mind or buckling to terrorist coercion when she made glowing statements about her son’s suicide bombing mission. There’s no way to ever know what’s really going on in her head, but I imagine that some parents of “martyrs” are strongarmed into spouting the terrorist party line whenever the press shows up on their doorsteps.
Of greater concern is any pressure the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades may be exerting on the suicide bombers themselves. Evidently some of these bombings do involve such coercion, as this story reports. Issa Budeir, a 16-year-old male, and Aren Ahmed, a 20-year-old female, were pressed into a bombing mission at town of Rishon Lezion on May 21. Both tried to back out at the last minute, but after pressure from their handlers Issa complied, killing himself and two Israelis and injuring 40.
Issa’s mom Fatiyeh deserves credit for being a sane and rational human being, grieving the loss of her son rather than celebrating it.