Saturday, April 20, 2002

The answer to my question earlier about Israel's nuclear capability appears to be that they pretty much have the full works. I found this on the website of The Center for Nonproliferation Studies. With a name like that, I don't know how impartial they are, but it was the only real info I could find. It cites the following from Jane's Intelligence Review, Sept. 97:

Israel's nuclear capability is by most accounts quite sophisticated, and may include "intercontinental-range, fractional-orbit-delivered thermonuclear weapons; thermonuclear or boosted nuclear-armed, two-stage, solid-fuel, intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 3,000km; older, less accurate, nuclear-armed, theatre-range, solid-fuel ballistic missiles; air-deliverable, variable-yield, boosted nuclear bombs; artillery-delivered, enhanced-radiation, tactical weapons; and small nuclear demolition charges."

If this is indeed the case then the Muslim Middle East is playing a very dangerous game. You don't corner a wild animal, especially if the wild animal in question has nukes and ballistic missiles.


At last! The US has managed to give Robert Watson the boot from chairing the IPCC. This is good news. Watson has been consistently pro-Kyoto, which if implemented would be one of the most insanely dangerous pieces of legislation ever. Thank God Al 'Earth in the Balance' Gore isn't in the White House.

Friday, April 19, 2002

There's been a few discussions of the folly of pushing a nuclear armed state like Israel right up against it (for example, here). Can anyone tell me what exactly is the status of Israel's nuclear arsenal? Apparently they have Jericho missiles (IRBMs), but what of the warheads? Are we talking relatively simple boosted-fission warheads here, or full-on thermonukes? There's a 20-50x difference in the specific yield (i.e. bang-per-tonne) between the two so it makes a difference.

Would Israel respond with a nuclear weapon that would kill hundreds of thousands if, say, Saddam lobbed a chemically-tipped Scud at Tel Aviv and killed ten thousand?


So the UN Human Rights Commission has declined to investigate charges that Zimbabwe is guilty of serious human rights abuses. Meanwhile, it has been throwing all manner of brickbats at the Israelis for engaging in self-defense. Still, what do you expect from a body that has Syria and Nigeria on its panel?


Great piece by Victor Davis Hanson in todays NRO: The World Upside Down. He discusses how we are steadily coming to see the 'moderate' Middle East as our enemies and the addle-pated Euros as irrelevant, to much dismay from both parties. He talks en passant about Arafat's inability or unwillingness to control the terrorists. This is an interesting point: either Arafat was capable of halting the Islamofascist attacks and did not, in which case he is complicit in them and should be executed, or he was not, in which case he is an irrelevance and should be executed for his past enormities. In any case, Arafat should be shot for one reason above all; he is so ugly. I mean, I'm no oil painting, but Arafat must surely be one of the honest-to-goodness most hideous people ever to have drawn breath. How about trying him for crimes against aesthetics, followed by summary firing squad?


In my taxi into work this morning, the radio was playing that dreadful dirge, 'We Are The World'. It put me in mind of the wonderful piece by P. J. O'Rourke, 'Fiddling While Africa Burns' from Give War a Chance, in which he analyses the song and its 'intellectual' underpinnings with devastating results. It's the same old lie: if only the affluent West would stop being so selfish and start sharing its bounty with the rest of the World, all would be sweetness and light. I'm not sure how this sophomoric analysis differs in any meaningful way from the oh-so-nuanced versions Michael Moore, Oxfam, Robert Fisk, and the whole silly United Nations profess.

If flinging money at the problem would cure it, then I'd be all for it. But which organisation has done more to liberate the people of Afghanistan from tyranny and oppression: UNICEF or the USAF?

The real bounty we have to share with the poor, benighted 'Part Of The World That Is Totally Screwed' (as P. J. puts it) is our legacy of free markets, the rule of law, emancipation of women, tolerance, mutual respect and self-reliance. Put that in place, keep it there, and all else follows.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

Note to self: calm down.


Reading pieces like Melanie Phillips's, and seeing the reaction of the bien-pensant Euro-elite to Israel's actions in the West Bank makes me ponder a point I've often thought of in the past: why does the world get so worked-up about Jews defending themselves? Is it that people like their Jews weedy and ineffectual, a whole nation full of Woody Allens and Billy Crystal old-men? Do they get a bit offended when they see the self-confident, no-nonsense Israelis actually daring to stand up for their homes and their families? Jews have been the victims of European opression for centuries - are the moral myopes in Europe and the left-wing US press just kvetching at the loss of their favourite Jew-as-victim trope?

For the US left wing, I think this goes a long way, but as for Europe? There is, and always has been, a current of the most repellent anti-Semitism running through European society. Of course the Nazis represented the pinnacle of this, but they were hardly sui generis. The Holocaust was an event of such magnitude that Jew-hating was morally 'unacceptable' for a while. But the anti-Semites have crept back from the shadows. Coupled with the Euro-socialists' Pavlovian response to an attack on their society (sympathise with attacker; ask what we did wrong; repeat ad nauseam), it is clear that the Israelis don't stand a hope of coming out of this as the good guys. They're the mighty Goliath of 5 million people cruelly oppressing the tiny David of 400 million Arabs. Never mind that in the original David was the Jew and Goliath was the Palestinian.

Civil society in the Middle East is a sewer, with the one exception of Israel. Israeli Arabs in the Knesset are protesting at Israel's response to the suicide bombings as 'disproportionate'. Think about that: Israeli Arabs in the Knesset! What do Bashir Assad's Jewish parliamentarians think of his support for Hamas and Islamic Jihad? Oh, whoops, there aren't any. And yet the West still tries to treat the two sides as moral equivalents. Moral equivalence is not merely a foible; it gets people killed. And the people it could well end up killing are the very same dunderheads who think the Jews are the bad guys.


On the other hand, Melanie Phillips has a great piece in this weeks Speccie, Why the Jews are always to blame. Trenchant as always. Phillips is one of the best commentators in British journalism. On a good day she gives Mark Steyn a run for his money.


The latest issue of the UK Spectator is out. There's an extraordinary piece by Andrew Alexander entitled 'The Soviet Threat Was Bogus'. It is so wrong on so many levels I am staggered. The article has as its central premise that the formation of NATO was to counteract an expansionist Soviet Union that simply did not exist. It states that:

Had the Russians, though themselves devastated by the war, invaded the West, they would have had a desperate battle to reach and occupy the Channel coast against the Allies, utilising among other things a hastily rearmed Wehrmacht. But, in any case, what then? With a negligible Russian navy, the means of invading Britain would somehow have had to be created. Meanwhile Britain would have been supplied with an endless stream of men and material from the United States, making invasion virtually hopeless.

And even if the Soviets, ignoring the A-bomb, had conquered Europe from Norway to Spain against all odds, they would have been left facing an implacable United States across more than 2,000 miles of ocean ? the ultimate unwinnable war. In short, there was no Soviet military danger. Stalin was not insane.

He then goes on to characterise the invasions of Hungary and Czechosolvakia as safeguarding Russia's territorial integrity. Apparently the Soviets were so afraid of the West's revanchist tendencies that Poland had to be subjugated to avoid revenge for Katyn and to forestall another German invasion through the Danzig corridor. He continues:

The invasion of Hungary in 1956 and of Czechoslovakia in 1968 were brutal acts, but were aimed at protecting Moscow's buffer zone - much as the United States had always protected her interests in Central and South America. The same may be said of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980 (as a result of which, with the help of the CIA, the Taleban came into existence). In none of these cases was there a territorial threat to the West.

The whole article is permeated with that greasy metaphysical taint of moral relativism that passes for rational analysis. Alexander states that the Cold War was not some "Manichaean" struggle between the White Hats and the Black Hats, but merely two lumbering behemoths in thrall to their miltary-industrial complexes butting heads along ten thousand miles of borders and flashpoints, threatening to bring us all to nuclear damnation in their clumsiness.

But it was a struggle between Good and Evil. And to posit that, simply because at the end of WW II Russia could not have promptly invaded and defeated the West, ergo it could never have done so (moreover that it never desired to), is counter to all sensible reading of the subject. What are we to make of the correlation of forces between NATO and the Warsaw Pact? Why did the peace-loving Soviet military build up and field such an overwhelming superiority in men and materiél if not as an invading force? It is an axiom of military affairs that an attacker requires several times the forces of a defender to prevail.

One thing, and one thing only, prevented Soviet tanks from reaching Paris, and that was the knowledge that any such attempt was likely to involve a nuclear conflagration. Alexander does the brave men and women who faced down the Soviet monster a grave disservice by touting them as 'Jack D. Rippers.'


Is this going to be just another WarBlog? Yes, probably. But I hope to have a few musings on philosophy of science, evolution and random trivia mixed in with the frothing indignation.


OK, here goes..MyFirstBlog(TM)

Musings from Costa Rica

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