Derb spanks his boss

John Derbyshire writes to Rich Lowry on NRO:

I apologize for not having made myself sufficiently clear.

—Yes, I want to pull out of Iraq.

—Yes, I want to kill jihadis everywhere we can find them, certainly including Iraq.

I think our point of disagreement is that you believe (apparently) that in order to kill jihadis in country X, or country Y, or country Z, we need to maintain a huge armed presence in X, Y, and Z. Heaven forbid this be true!

I don’t mean to trivialize your point of view. Far from it–I know you hang out with a lot of senior Washington and DoD types way above my pay grade, hear a lot of stuff you can’t publish, & have been thinking hard about Iraq for 3 years. Could that, perhaps, have made you a little too Iraqocentric? You seem to be saying: “Hey, Derb, you say you want to kill all the jihadis in Iraq, yet you want to pull us out of Iraq. Does not compute!” Or perhaps: “Hey, look, we have this army in Iraq, for whatever reason, and it’s a great place to kill jihadis. So why would anyone want us to withdraw?”

My opinion is that, from the point of view of killing jihadis — a thing I strongly favor — Iraq is not that important. It is not even the most jihadi-ridden nation — Pakistan and Saudi Arabia easily outrank it on that scale. The “flypaper” theory — that all the jihadis in the world are going to flock to Iraq so we can kill ’em — is just silly. Ask a Londoner.

There are more ways to kill a cat than by choking it with cream, and there are more ways to fight the War on Terror than with massive conventional-force assaults and Wilsonian nation-bulding efforts. We really ought to be devising and practicing those ways, instead of wasting our substance on Iraq.

There are many other ways to kill jihadis in country X. If X = Britain, for example, we can depend on the British themselves doing it for us (give or take the odd Brazilian electrician). The same applies to Australia, and all over the Anglosphere. In other civilized nations, matters are not so clear. Could we depend on, say, Greece taking care of any jihadis on their territory, to our satisfaction?

Outside the pale of civilization — a phrase that, I believe, fairly describes the Muslim Middle East — things are much more difficult. Sending in 130,000 troops to occupy country X is not a bad idea, I suppose; but then, what do you do about country Y and country Z? See the difficulty?

I believe, and hope, that there are ways to kill satisfactory numbers of jihadis without either (a) having a dependable local government to do it for us, or (b) placing 130,000 Americans in the offending nation.

Your idea — the administration’s idea — is that we convert Iraq (and then, I suppose, country Y and country Z) into Anglosphere-type nations, whom we can depend on to take care of matters themselves, using their own police and army. I believe — and I am sorry to be blunt about it — that this is a preposterous fantasy. I should be sufficiently astounded if we could turn Iraq into a Greece, or a Mexico. We might, with luck, turn it into a Saudi Arabia, but… Surely you see the problem?

I hope that makes things clear. Now perhaps you could clarify something for me.

You are speaking here, and in your last couple of posts, as if the main point of being in Iraq is to kill local jihadis more easily.

So, were you arguing back in 2002 and 2003 that the main reason we ought to invade Iraq was to kill local jihadis more easily? Was that your rationale, or some large compnent of your rationale, for supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom at that time? If it was not — if, at some point between spring of 2003 and now, you changed your rationale for our presence in Iraq — how would you go about persuading an impartial observer that your change of rationale was not motivated by blind loyalty to this administration?

Blind loyalty to the Bush administration? NRO? Derb might want to watch his tongue, or he’ll find himself writing for WND soon… not that it’s seemed to hurt Ann Coulter in the least.

And yes, I’m very much in agreement with his “preposterous fantasy” statement. That’s been my view of the notion of nation-building in Iraq since the beginning, and was the primary reason for my many reservations about supporting the initial invasion.

London and Madrid and Egypt make it quite clear that the concept of an occupied Iraq as an irresistible magnet to which terrorists will be drawn like bugs to a zapper has worked out about as well as skeptics like Derb and I thought it would. In fact, one could argue that leaving our borders open and sending our troops over there is a recipe for disaster.

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Mailvox: good guys and bad guys

John sounds vaguely offended:

Vox, you’re painting in brushstrokes that are way too broad. Over the last three days, you’ve impugned the professionalism and integrity of every law enforcement agency in two countries.

Answer me this: The guy that responds to a domestic violence call or liquor store robbery is a part of some government plot to take your liberties and is merely looking to shoot you for the hell of it?

Absolutely I have and I do. Like many other people, I have some very serious doubts as to whose side the police and the federal criminal agencies are on these days. It is interesting to note that 15 years ago, “Fuck the Police” was the battle cry of a few black gangbangers in Los Angeles. Now, I hear those same sentiments from wealthy 50-something white suburbanites who wouldn’t listen to rap if you physically threatened them.

But professionalism is not the answer, indeed, it is part of the problem. The Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe were filled with precisely the sort of professional warriors that currently make up much of our armed forces and police. They were good men, family men, men who believed that they were doing the right thing by obeying the law and their government. Their problem was not that they were bad people, the problem was that they were good people acting in obedience to evil men.

The people of the United States are not serfs, they have no masters and they do not need protection, which, by the way, they are clearly not receiving anyhow. In any event, I will always favor taking the risks that exist on the side of freedom, mostly because the historical bodycount on that side is significantly smaller.

Lest you think I am avoiding your question, the policeman became a part of a government plot to eliminate American liberties the moment he accepted the notion that he had the right to act as judge, jury and executioner on the basis of his own feelings. Most policemen, being decent individuals, will not abuse that illegitimate power. The hundreds of annual killings by police indicate that too many, however, will, either intentionally or unintentionally.

The International Chiefs of Police, a police organization, tried in the 1980’s to collect such information, but “the figures were very embarrassing to a lot of police departments,” said James Fyfe, a professor of criminal justice at Temple University who is a former New York City police lieutenant. The results, he said, varied wildly. New Orleans had 10 times as many shootings per 100 officers as Newark. Long Beach had twice as many as neighboring Los Angeles, which in turn had three times more than New York….

On its cover, for example, the report refers to all the victims of police shootings as “felons justifiably killed by police,” a categorization that Samuel Walker, a professor of criminal justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, termed “deeply offensive and legally incorrect.” In fact, a Justice Department official said the bureau was so embarrassed by the term, and the lack of distinction between justifiable police shootings and murders, that it did not send out its usual promotional material announcing the report.

Hollywood realism

A compilation of movie lameness:

2. When paying for a taxi, don’t look at your wallet as you take out a note. Just grab one out at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare….

21. Cars will explode instantly when struck by a single bullet.

Remember, these are the same people that argue they have to be able to show humans being blown away in every other scene because they are “keeping it real”. When you combine the constant insults to their potential audience’s intelligence and the inability to find new and interesting stories to transform into the visual medium – there’s still no Dark is Rising film, but both The Bad News Bears and The Dukes of Hazzard have been remade already – it’s no wonder that box offices are declining.

The last movie I saw in the theatre was Return of the King. I don’t feel as if I’ve missed a thing.

Tougher than expected

This is a basic 25-question test that isn’t, in my opinion, a true intelligence test as it required familiarity with certain literature that I would consider to be more than a little obscure these days. It doesn’t take long, though, and it only had one of the IF THIS IS THIS AND THAT IS THAT THEN WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THIS AND THAT questions that I loathe.

How’d I do? Not quite as well as I’d expected, although still in the 141-159 range. Really low in that range, unfortunately, or 142, to be precise. Perhaps I should have had that second cappucino I was contemplating….

Don’t cheat!

A few problems with reading and logic

Chuck writes: “Then I guess that embarrassing incident in Gibralter (6 Mar 88) never happened. The three IRA terrorists bent on bombing the British, at a major parade there, were never gunned down in the street.”

I don’t know how to break this to Chuck, but Gibralter is not, in fact, London. Furthermore, the three individuals involved weren’t random individuals walking down the street, but known terrorist operatives engaged in an operation. And as Chuck himself admits, once in 1988 does not qualify as “regularly”.

Craigp writes: “who would benefit from portraying the situation giving as much benefit as possible to the British Police.”

Um, Craig, that would be the British Police. On a secondary note, the British government.

Chuck also wrote of Waco: “based on what I understand, the feds deliberately went in to kill everyone in the compound and that military personnel were involved in the final assault. Too many big explosions and muzzle flashes of fully automatic fire from outside the buildings.”

[credulous citizen] But the official investigation has determined that those weren’t muzzle flashes picked up on IR camera, they were the reflections of sunlight off pieces of glass strewn about the location. Take off your tin foil hat! Everyone knows no cop or government official would ever intentionally kill a law-abiding civilian, they just occasionally make tragic mistakes. [/credulous citizen]