Friday, September 12, 2008

Smile Time

"Airplane" revisited

Charles Krauthammer, who coined the term "Bush Doctrine"  Say Gibson got it wrong when he informed her as to what the term meant.

Charlie Gibson's Gaffe-- New York Times, Sept. 12

Informed her? Rubbish.

The New York Times got it wrong. And Charlie Gibson got it wrong.
There is no single meaning of the Bush Doctrine. In fact, there have been four distinct meanings, each one succeeding another over the eight years of this administration -- and the one Charlie Gibson cited is not the one in common usage today. It is utterly different.

He asked Palin, "Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?"
She responded, quite sensibly to a question that is ambiguous, "In what respect, Charlie?"
Sensing his "gotcha" moment, Gibson refused to tell her. After making her fish for the answer, Gibson grudgingly explained to the moose-hunting rube that the Bush doctrine "is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense."


I know something about the subject because, as the Wikipedia entry on the Bush Doctrine notes, I was the first to use the term. In the cover essay of the June 4, 2001, issue of the Weekly Standard entitled, "The Bush Doctrine: ABM, Kyoto, and the New American Unilateralism," I suggested that the Bush administration policies of unilaterally withdrawing from the ABM treaty and rejecting the Kyoto protocol, together with others, amounted to a radical change in foreign policy that should be called the Bush Doctrine.

Then came 9/11, and that notion was immediately superseded by the advent of the war on terror. In his address to the joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11, President Bushdeclared: "Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." This "with us or against us" policy regarding terror -- first deployed against Pakistan when Secretary of State Colin Powell gave President Musharraf that seven-point ultimatum to end support for the Taliban and support our attack on Afghanistan -- became the essence of the Bush Doctrine.  Until Iraq. A year later, when the Iraq war was looming, Bush offered his major justification by enunciating a doctrine of preemptive war. This is the one Charlie Gibson thinks is the Bush doctrine.

It's not. It's the third in a series and was superseded by the fourth and current definition of the Bush doctrine, the most sweeping formulation of the Bush approach to foreign policy and the one that most clearly and distinctively defines the Bush years: the idea that the fundamental mission of American foreign policy is to spread democracy throughout the world. It was most dramatically enunciated in Bush's second inaugural address: "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.".......

If I were in any public foreign policy debate today, and my adversary were to raise the Bush doctrine, both I and the audience would assume -- unless my interlocutor annotated the reference otherwise -- that he was speaking about the grandly proclaimed (and widely attacked) freedom agenda of the Bush administration.  Not the Gibson doctrine of preemption.

Not the "with us or against us" no-neutrality-is-permitted policy of the immediate post-9/11 days.  Not the unilateralism that characterized the pre-9/11 first year of the Bush administration.  Presidential doctrines are inherently malleable and difficult to define.

The only fixed "doctrines" in American history are the Monroe and the Truman doctrines which come out of single presidential statements during administrations where there were few other contradictory or conflicting foreign policy crosscurrents.

Such is not the case with the Bush Doctrine.

Yes, Sarah Palin didn't know what it is. But neither does Charlie Gibson. And at least she didn't pretend to know -- while he looked down his nose and over his glasses with weary disdain, sighing and "sounding like an impatient teacher," as the Times noted. In doing so, he captured perfectly the establishment snobbery and intellectual condescension that has characterized the chattering classes' reaction to the mother of five who presumes to play on their stage.   MORE....

The reason he doesn't send email

Yep. The day after 9/11, as part of its "get tough" makeover,  the Obama campaign is mocking John McCain for not using a computer, without caring why he doesn't use a computer. From the AP story about the computer illiterate ad:
"Our economy wouldn't survive without the Internet, and cyber-security continues to represent one our most serious national security threats," [Obama spokesman Dan] Pfeiffer said. "It's extraordinary that someone who wants to be our president and our commander in chief doesn't know how to send an e-mail."
Well, I guess it depends on what you mean by "extraordinary." The reason he doesn't send email is that he can't use a keyboard because of the relentless beatings he received from the Viet Cong in service to our country. From the Boston Globe (March 4, 2000):
McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain's severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain's encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He's an avid fan - Ted Williams is his hero - but he can't raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.
In a similar vein I guess it's an outrage that the blind governor of New York David Patterson doesn't know how to drive a car. After all, transportation issues are pretty important. How dare he serve as governor while being ignorant of what it's like to navigate New York's highways.

Real Hero

Want a heroic role model for your children?  Read about the real life drama and instant decision making of 23 year old Michael Thornton.  
Petty Officer Michael Thornton, then just 23, was part of a patrol that included three South Vietnamese SEALS and his commanding officer, Lt. Tom Norris. During what was to become their final patrol, the five men swam from a small boat about a mile offshore to reach land. They quickly realized they had overshot their target destination and were in North Vietnam when they came under heavy fire. More than 50 enemy soldiers closed to within five yards of the men in a firefight that last five hours.
What does one do when the bullets are still flying and your commanding officer has been killed? If you're Mike Thornton, you head straight into those bullets and get your man. Thornton ran through 500 yards of open terrain, killed two enemy soldiers who were standing over Norris' body, lifted Norris -- his skull shattered and barely alive -- and ran back toward the beach.
Both men were blown into the air by incoming fire from the USS Newport News. Again, Thornton lifted Norris from the ground and ran another 300 yards to the open sea. Once in the water, he lashed his life vest to Norris, and then grabbed one of the other SEALS, who had been wounded in the hip and couldn't swim. Buoying his two wounded comrades, Thornton swam for more than two hours before the three were rescued by the same junk that had dropped them off 16 hours earlier.

 Yes, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, and is still alive and well.   MORE....

Tunnel Trouble

I rode the Eurostar between Brussels and London a number of times after it opened in the mid 90's.  A wonderful, comfortable journey.  I don't know it the "Chunnel" ever has met it's financial goals, but it definitely has made a significant difference in transport between the UK and the Continent.  Compared to the previous unpredictable and limited ferry service, and the high cost air transport, it's been fantastic.

Channel Tunnel Fire
video of French firefighters in the "Chunnel"

The tunnel is closed after the fire broke out about seven miles from Calais on Thursday afternoon. Firefighters say the 16-hour blaze has now been put out.
Thirty-two people on board the freight train were led to safety, and 14 passengers suffered minor injuries.
Eurostar said it "did not expect" to operate any services on Friday.
Passengers were still arriving at St Pancras International in London on Friday hoping services to the Continent would resume.
A spokeswoman said about 30,000 passengers were due to travel on 50 Eurostar services on Friday and they would be offered a full refund or exchange.
"We checked the website around 9pm," said finance manager Kirsty McIntyre, who had planned to spend the weekend in the Champagne region.

The tunnel carries Eurostar express trains between London, Paris and Brussels, as well as freight and passenger shuttles between Folkestone and Calais.
The source of the blaze has not yet been identified but French officials say a lorry carrying chemicals, which is understood to have overturned on the freight train, was close to the seat of the fire.

The  effect that the tunnel has had on commerce between the UK and the Continent can best be demonstrated by looking at the backup of commercial traffic due to it's closure.

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