“The administration has remained as quiet as possible during the Iranian election season and in the days of street protests since Friday’s vote.”
– Washington Post , Monday June 15, 2009
“We’re going to withhold comment. … I mean we’re just waiting to see.”
– Vice-President Joe Biden
“We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide.”
– Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
“Most countries appeared to be taking a wait-and-see approach, including the European Union and China, Germany, Italy and Japan — nations with strong economic ties to Iran. France said it was closely following the situation.”
– Associated Press, June 13, 2009
For those who look to “world opinion,” “the opinion of mankind,” or to the United Nations for moral guidance or for coming to the aid of victims of oppression, the past few days and presumably the next few days in Iran, provide yet another example of their uselessness.
A million or more Iranians are demonstrating against last Friday’s obviously stolen election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the world — except for the lowlifes who rule places like Venezuela and Syria and who immediately sent their effusive congratulations to Ahmadinejad — is quiet. The world is “closely following the situation,” just as it followed the situations of the Jews during the Holocaust, the Ukrainians, the Chinese under Mao, the Rwandans, the Cambodians, Tibetans, and so many others.
Admiral Dennis Blair, the top intelligence official in the United States, thanks to his nomination by Barack Obama, believes that the coercive interrogation methods outlawed by his boss produced “high-value information” and gave the U.S. government a “deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” He included those assessments in a letter distributed inside the intelligence community last Thursday, the same day Obama declassified and released portions of Justice Department memos setting out guidelines for those interrogations.
That letter from Blair served as the basis for a public statement that his office put out that same day. But the DNI’s conclusions about the results of coercive interrogations–in effect, that they worked–were taken out of Blair’s public statement. A spokesman for the DNI told the New York Times that the missing material was cut for reasons of space, though the statement would be posted on DNI’s website, where space doesn’t seem to be an issue.
There’s more. Blair’s public statement differed from his letter to colleagues in another way. The letter included this language: “From 2002 through 2006 when the use of these techniques ended, the leadership of the CIA repeatedly reported their activities both to Executive Branch policymakers and to members of Congress, and received permission to continue to use the techniques.” Blair’s public statement made no mention of the permission granted by “members of Congress”–permission that came from members of Obama’s own party.
I had a mild revelation, while reading this article: It’s interesting that many liberals, and the Left in general, find it difficult to refer to those who deliberately target and kill innocents as terrorists, while having no problem referring to non-lethal techniques of coercion – methods that we oblige many of our own military personnel to experience, as part of their training – as “torture”. It would seem that they are capable of nuanced thinking only when it serves their ideological agenda.
What I am about to write questions much of what I have written in this space, in numerous columns, over the past five years. Perhaps what I have written can withstand this questioning. Perhaps not. The greater question is, am I – and you – capable of questioning our own orthodoxies and intellectual habits? Let’s see.
The subject of this column is not small. It is a book entitled Heaven And Earth, which will be published tomorrow. It has been written by one of Australia’s foremost Earth scientists, Professor Ian Plimer. He is a confronting sort of individual, polite but gruff, courteous but combative. He can write extremely well, and Heaven And Earth is a brilliantly argued book by someone not intimidated by hostile majorities or intellectual fashions.
The book’s 500 pages and 230,000 words and 2311 footnotes are the product of 40 years’ research and a depth and breadth of scholarship. As Plimer writes: “An understanding of climate requires an amalgamation of astronomy, solar physics, geology, geochronology, geochemistry, sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, palaeoecology, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, oceanography, ecology, archaeology and history.”
The most important point to remember about Plimer is that he is Australia’s most eminent geologist. As such, he thinks about time very differently from most of us. He takes the long, long view. He looks at climate over geological, archaeological, historical and modern time. He writes: “Past climate changes, sea-level changes and catastrophes are written in stone.”
Much of what we have read about climate change, he argues, is rubbish, especially the computer modelling on which much current scientific opinion is based, which he describes as “primitive”. Errors and distortions in computer modelling will be exposed in time. (As if on cue, the United Nations’ peak scientific body on climate change was obliged to make an embarrassing admission last week that some of its computers models were wrong.)
Plimer does not dispute the dramatic flux of climate change – and this column is not about Australia’s water debate – but he fundamentally disputes most of the assumptions and projections being made about the current causes, mostly led by atmospheric scientists, who have a different perspective on time. “It is little wonder that catastrophist views of the future of the planet fall on fertile pastures. The history of time shows us that depopulation, social disruption, extinctions, disease and catastrophic droughts take place in cold times … and life blossoms and economies boom in warm times. Planet Earth is dynamic. It always changes and evolves. It is currently in an ice age.”
If we look at the last 6 million years, the Earth was warmer than it is now for 3 million years. The ice caps of the Arctic, Antarctica and Greenland are geologically unusual. Polar ice has only been present for less than 20 per cent of geological time. What follows is an intense compression of the book’s 500 pages and all their provocative arguments and conclusions:
Yet another distinguished scientist, with relevant and impressive credentials, provides a scholarly rebuttal to the utterly hysterical claims by irrational environmentalists. Al Gore: put your carbon-credit money where your mouth is, and debate the countless Ian Plimers, who are out there disproving your claims of a scientific consensus on the issue of “climate change”.
Heaven And Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science, by Ian Plimer
More on Ian Plimer, here.
The Reuters headline put it this way: “Pirates Pose Annoying Distraction For Obama.”
So many distractions, aren’t there? Only a week ago, the North Korean missile test was an “annoying distraction” from Barack Obama’s call for a world without nuclear weapons and his pledge that America would lead the way in disarming. And only a couple of days earlier the president insisted Iraq was a “distraction” – from what, I forget: The cooing press coverage of Michelle’s wardrobe? No doubt when the Iranians nuke Israel, that, too, will be an unwelcome distraction from the administration’s plans for federally subsidized day care, just as Pearl Harbor was an annoying distraction from the New Deal, and the First World War was an annoying distraction from the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s dinner plans.
While Obama is “distracted” with the scourge of Somali piracy, his Sec. State – Hillary Clinton – seems to find the whole thing rather silly:
While Clinton was yucking it up, an American was being held hostage by these murderous thugs. Classy, just like her husband, the former Philanderer-in-Chief.
I’m not against gift-giving in international relations. But it would be nice to see some reciprocity. Obama was in a giving mood throughout Europe. While Gordon Brown was trying to make his American DVDs work and the queen was rocking to her new iPod, the rest of Europe was enjoying a more fulsome Obama gift.
Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.
And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.
He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing.
From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea.
And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, pop. 64 million, will take one prisoner. One! (Sadly, he’ll have to leave his bridge partner behind.) The Austrians said they would take none. As Interior Minister Maria Fekter explained with impeccable Germanic logic, if they’re not dangerous, why not just keep them in America?
When Austria is mocking you, you’re having a bad week.
But, but… wasn’t the election of Barack “Hope-Change” Obama supposed to usher in a new era of international cooperation, leading to the swift righting of all that is wrong in our world? Sorry, my liberal friends, but the world only loves Obama when he joins them in denigrating America.
Obama also speaks of America’s lack of respect for European leadership, which, if true, is for good reason:
“The basic bargain is sound: countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them.” — President Barack Obama, Prague, April 6, 2009
As far as nuclear weapons are concerned, the President of the United States wants America to disarm: “Countries with nuclear weapons will move toward disarmament.”
It is hard to imagine a more destructive goal. A nuclear disarmed America would lead to massive and widespread killing, more genocide, and very possibly the nuclear holocaust worldwide nuclear disarmament is meant to prevent.
There is nothing moral, let alone realistic, about this goal.
Here is an analogy. Imagine that the mayor of a large American city announced that it was his goal to have all the citizens of his city disarm — what could be more beautiful than a city with no weapons? This would, of course, ultimately include the police, but with properly signed agreements, vigorously enforced, and violators of the agreement punished, it would remain an ideal to pursue.
One has to assume that most people would regard this idea as, at the very least, useless. There would be no way to ensure that bad people would disarm; and if the police disarmed, only bad people would have weapons.
America’s elites must once again fall in love with what makes the United States different.
The advent of the Obama administration brings this question before the nation: Do we want the United States to be like Europe? President Obama and his leading intellectual heroes are the American equivalent of Europe’s social democrats. There’s nothing sinister about that. They share an intellectually respectable view that Europe’s regulatory and social welfare systems are more progressive than America’s and advocate reforms that would make the American system more like the European system.
Not only are social democrats intellectually respectable, the European model has worked in many ways. I am delighted when I get a chance to go to Stockholm or Amsterdam, not to mention Rome or Paris. When I get there, the people don’t seem to be groaning under the yoke of an evil system. Quite the contrary. There’s a lot to like—a lot to love—about day-to-day life in Europe.
But the European model can’t continue to work much longer. Europe’s catastrophically low birth rates and soaring immigration from cultures with alien values will see to that.
So let me rephrase the question. If we could avoid Europe’s demographic problems, do we want the United States to be like Europe?
I argue for the answer “no,” but not for economic reasons. The European model has indeed created sclerotic economies and it would be a bad idea to imitate them. But I want to focus on another problem.
My argument is drawn from Federalist Paper No. 62, probably written by James Madison: “A good government implies two things: first, fidelity to the object of government, which is the happiness of the people; secondly, a knowledge of the means by which that object can be best attained.” Note the word: happiness. Not prosperity. Not security. Not equality. Happiness, which the Founders used in its Aristotelian sense of lasting and justified satisfaction with life as a whole.
I have two points to make. First, I will argue that the European model is fundamentally flawed because, despite its material successes, it is not suited to the way that human beings flourish—it does not conduce to Aristotelian happiness. Second, I will argue that 21st-century science will prove me right.