Tuesday, April 30, 2002

I still think the biggest danger of Le Pen's showing in the French presidential election is that the European leftists will use it as a means to smear the centre-right parties that are enjoying electoral success all over Europe. But it could be that the same tactic in reverse might be used by those parties, to their considerable advantage. For example, Iain Duncan-Smith, the leader of Britain's Conservative party, was quick to distance himself from Le Pen. Could it be that this was a means to position his party as a reasonable fall-back from an extremist position? Le Pen's success is symptomatic of a desire by the French people to move away from the narrow, high-minded politics of the Enarques towards a stand that is more in line with what they actually want. The moderate centre-right parties in Europe should be angling to pick up that movement. They should be able to say, "we understand your frustration with the failed policies of the Left - we will listen to you and try to make the changes you want, without your having to vote for a thug like Le Pen." I suppose you could think of it as standing in between where the people are now, and where they seem to want to go. It's a slim chance, but it might just work.


Oh, this is rich. There's a story on Yahoo News about the impending mayhem the anti-capitalist cretins have lined up for Mayday. I was struck particularly by this line:

Some 50,000 people are expected to join a communist party-organised march in Moscow, demanding the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kassianov and his government for, among other complaints, "the exploitation of the people by monopolies."

The Russian Communists, organising a march against exploitation of the people by monopolies? The Soviet Union was the biggest, most exploitative monopoly in history. These people aren't funny any more. They're dangerous. We should be looking to disrupt these anti-globalisation/anti-capitalism/anti-everything demonstrations as matter of urgency. They are the enemy, just as surely as the Islamofascists are. Can we call the IDF in to police Washington on May 1st?


Instapundit Glenn Reynolds has a long thread about interracial relationships. I don't know what the prevalence is in the States, but I know here in Costa Rica it's completely unexceptional. Four of my best friends here are in interracial marriages: one couple from the States (he's black, she's white) and another couple from Canada (he's white Irish, she's originally Trinidadian). Another great friend is mulato (his father was Afro-Cariibean, his mother is a dazzling blonde). Interracial marriages here are unremarkable (and hence barely even discussed). It's much the same situation in the south of England (and especially London), where as far as I know, something approaching 50%, maybe more, of relationships are now interracial.

I've dated girls in Costa Rica with skins every colour from Northern-European pale pink to very dark Dominican. And I'm 25% Irish, 25% Scottish and 50% English, so I guess that makes me the product of miscegenation right there.


A rising tide lifts all boats. If Max Power now has a Sullivan number of two, then that means I have a Sullivan number of three. It's a bloody sight higher than my Erdös number, that's for sure. Although I would be willing to bet that my Erdös number is at least finite (and probably less than eight). So neener.

Monday, April 29, 2002

Josh Treviño at i330.org (sorry no direct link to section, but it's 27th April #3) discusses nuclear strategy, specifically, what are our options in the event of an Iraqi response with chemical/biological weapons when the Allies invade? He asks whether we could justify a nuclear response (in line with stated NATO warfighting doctrine since the year dot) given that we would be perceived by those on the sidelines as the aggressors. It's a good point, and I'm sure the policy wonks in the State Department and Foreign Office have it all planned out, but I think it misses the central thrust of why we have nuclear weapons, and the circumstances in which they can be deployed.

I saw the last half of 'Dr. Strangelove' on cable on Sunday. I know it's an anti-nukes polemic, but the central premise is 100% on the money. If a nation has a capability that, in the event of a hostile action against that nation, will surely, certainly and irrevocably destroy the attacker, then war against that nation becomes impossible. The whole point of the Dr Strangelove story is that the US was unaware of the existence of the Doomsday weapon, thus rendering it ineffective. By comparison, both we and the Soviets had a stated policy of catastrophic response in the event of a nuclear attack by one on the other. 'Launch-on-warning' and 'fail-deadly' were postures that were designed to convince the opposition of not merely willingness, but determination to bring the temple down around the ears of the attacker. It was a dangerous and terrifying strategy, but it kept the peace (largely) for 50 years.

All this boils down to a simple fact: if we are to invade Iraq, it must be made abundantly clear, in a fashion that can brook no uncertainty, that use of WMDs against Allied forces will result in the prompt, merciless and unequivocal extermination of the entire Iraqi populace. This does not mean tactical nuclear strikes against the units that use the WMDs in the first place, or against Republican Guard tank formations. It means multiple salvos of strategic, countervalue weapons against any and all population centers in Iraq, with the express aim of killing every Iraqi citizen practicable. This sounds shockingly brutal. It is. It is also the only way in which the use of WMDs by Iraq, or indeed any other potential adversary, can be adequately deterred.

Does this mean that I advocate the use of nuclear weapons against Iraq? Of course not. Such an outcome would be a tragedy. I further think that it would be almost impossible for the C-in-C to respond in the manner I have outlined above. But if truth be told, that is the only rational posture he can maintain.


I've been thinking more about the French presidential elections recently and it's raising a lot of very interesting points. Firstly, is there any chance of Le Pen's winning? Martin Sieff in this article in National Review Online, thinks there's at least a chance. What then? Clearly, it wouldn't be the biggest-imaginable cataclysm in EU politics (one can certainly conceive of greater), but it would be the biggest actual upset so far in the whole Euro project. Le Pen has pledged to restore the Franc and take France out of the EU. Now, there's no chance that he could muster the requisite parliamentary or popular support to do either, but hitherto even the mention of such things has been anathema to the Euro-elite. They've done a very good job of painting even moderate nationalists as swivel-eyed fascists. That these topics are even on the agenda is a shift of quite some significance.

Secondly, the furore that greeted Le Pen's success does seem to bear out one of his statements, namely that it is not so much that Le Pen has moved to the right but that Europe has moved to the left. The incomparable Mark Steyn once again hits the nail on the head when he coins this wonderful inversion of Voltaire's aphorism: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death my right not to have to listen to you say it." Are there simply some subjects that are outside the bounds of discussion? Does Le Pen's reputation as a fascist (whatever that means: q.v. George Orwell) mean that those of his agenda that resonate with normal, decent people (taxation, crime, illegal immigration) are so outré as to be silenced? Is that not a profound disenfranchisement of those normal, decent people? Is there not a grave danger to the democratic process by this forced disengagement from representation?

Moreover, protests against Le Pen have focused on his stance as a right-winger. Why have there not been comparable protests at the presence, in the electoral processes of a 21st Century European democracy, of a Trotskyite? It always, to my mind, appeared somewhat unseemly to point out that Communism's toll has been far more grievous, and its effects more long lasting, than those of Fascism. I regard them, Hayek-like, as two faces of the same twisted Janus. But nonetheless, Communist and socialist ideology has butchered tens, hundreds of millions and condemned billions more to misery and deprivation. Where is the outrage at the 27-year old pipsqueak of a Communist postman standing as a presidential candidate, wrapped in a flag whose sanguinary hue is the result of a century of enormity, of terror, of lies and filth and despair?

Finally, is there any chance of it happening in the United Kingdom, my native land? I feel not. First and foremost, the very nature of the electoral process in the UK militates against fringe candidates. They and their parties may win a handful of municipal or even Parliamentary seats, but their influence is limited by their vestigial representation. But more important, I believe, is the distrust of most Britons of the very animus of extreme politics. Mosley's BUF in the 30's notwithstanding, there has never been a tradition of mainstream, pro-totalitarian politics in Britain. That is not to say that the hard Left did not have its successes after WW II. But there has always been a countervailing sense of the ridiculous that has dogged the ascent to power of the totalitarians. Perhaps P. G. Wodehouse (no Nazi-sympathiser he, despite the smears) put it best when he has Bertie Wooster upbraid Roderick Spode, Mosley-esque leader of the Black Shorts: "The trouble with you, Spode, is that because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of halfwits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you're someone. You hear them shouting 'Heil, Spode!' and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: 'Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?" Amen to that.


Blogger now proudly claim that their Pro version supports Mozilla 1.0 Release Candidate. Woohoo. Now they need to take a look at Opera 6 support. I'm a software engineer, and thankfully I have the ability to make the lifestyle choice that no products from that limb of Beelzebub, Microsoft, shall sully my computer. Linux, baby, yeah. Except the rest of the world uses Internet Exploder. Blogger works tolerably well with pre-1.0 Mozilla, but with Opera it bites. Trouble is, Mozilla is a horrid piece of bloated mal-ware that reminds me of why I stopped using Microsoft. It does heinous things to my templates, and uses 60M of RAM (on a Linux box!) as opposed to less than 18M for Opera. Yeah, so RAM's cheap, but not that cheap, godamnit.


There is a delicious article by Jamie Glazov in Frontpage Magazine. He writes about the bizarre piece (the gist of which was that the Cold War was a big waste of time and money, and the Soviets really didn't mean us any harm) by Andrew Alexander in the Spectator (UK) that I commented on here. He makes a much better fist of it than I did, however, and basically rips Alexander a new one in the process. It's an absolute must-read.


I see that the creator of Barbie has died, aged 85. Which sad tidings remind me of my favourite Barbie joke:

Woman to sales assistant in a toy store: "Excuse me, does this Barbie come with Ken?"

Assistant: "No she comes with GI Joe. She just fakes it with Ken."

Thank you very much. I'll be here all week, and don't forget to tip your waitress.

Musings from Costa Rica

Contact me: d a g g i l l i e s @ y a h o o . c o m 

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2002/04/21 - 2002/04/28
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