Faux Canadians

In the Oregonian on Saturday (11 December 2004), a teacher from the American International School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Erik Ortman, wrote an essay about how Americans abroad are posing as Canadians rather than defend their own country’s foreign policies. Then he made a startling assertion. My letter to the editor below.

I haven’t spent any time outside of the country since early 2001, but I do participate in a number of online professional forums with an international (largely European) membership, many of whom have no compunction about sharing their opinions on U.S. foreign policy when the topic strays to world events. So it surprises me that Erik W. Ortman’s Dec. 11 “In My Opinion” makes its case that Americans abroad should provide “a few more clear voices explaining U.S. foreign policy and a few less assumed identities” solely on the basis of protecting themselves from citizens of other countries who “suggest the invasion of Afghanistan was anything other than an imperialist power grab.”

Ortman’s disingenuous thesis — that Americans are pretending to be Canadians when they’re away from home because they’re trying to avoid conflict over Afghanistan — somehow glosses over the entire Iraq conflict, which is the only foreign policy issue over which I’ve witnessed harsh words between my colleagues for the past two-and-a-half years. To pretend — as Ortman does by not even mentioning Iraq in his piece — that the invasion of Afghanistan is the primary issue an American is likely to be asked to defend abroad is simply misleading.

Donkeys vs. Morons at TNR

Peter Beinart’s advocating for a “terrorism-based” agenda for the Democrats in “A Fighting Faith,” the December 13 cover story for The New Republic. But aside from making a dumb argument, could the editors have chosen a stupider-looking donkey — complete with armor and buckteeth — than their cover image (detail below)? Shades of Dukakis in a tank! Save us from Beinart and company!

Peter Beinart is Soft — In the Head.

Josh Marshall responds to Peter Beinart’s shriek about Islamic fundamentalists coming to take our women with some agreement and disagreement. But I must admit I’m puzzled by one comment Marshall makes: “The problem is not principally dovishness but rather — as Peter notes — that Democrats are by and large simply not sufficiently interested in national security policy, as such.”

Anyone who was against the war in Iraq was expressing an interest in national security. More importantly, those of us who were informed enough about the global security situation and didn’t find the administration claims of WMD production and stockpiles to be credible were — unlike Beinart and the editorial staff at TNR — correct in our assessment.

That’s not a “dovish” (or as Beinart terms it, “soft”) viewpoint, it was just common sense. Sure, there are wacko peaceniks in the Democratic party, but there are Republicans advocating dropping nuclear weapons on Iraq and the French on the other side. For every Democratic lawmaker Beinart could point to who might be uninformed about national security, I bet you can find a Republican who is just as ill-informed, starting right at the top.

Personally, given how many things he’s been wrong about in his tenure at TNR, I’m astounded that Beinart has the chutzpah to lecture anyone about how Democrats can rebound. He’s the Condoleeza Rice of the the Democratic party.

War Planning: Compare and Contrast

In their feeble attempts to bolster Donald Rumsfeld, Glenn Reynolds (no, I won’t link to him) and his ilk are trying to make the case that soldiers have always had to “uparmor” with whatever they could scrounge, and that anyway, a heavily armored vehicle just makes you slower (apparently they think that, like in the movies, you can outrun explosions from things like IEDs).

Rummy says:

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have.  They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time. 

In his radio speech of May 26, 1940 — when France fell, a year-and-a-half before Pearl Harbor — here’s what President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said:

Within the past year the productive capacity of the aviation industry to produce military planes has been tremendously increased. In the past year the capacity more than doubled, but that capacity is still inadequate. But the Government, working with industry is determined to increase that capacity to meet our needs. We intend to harness the efficient machinery of these manufacturers to the Government’s program of being able to get 50,000 planes a year.

That represented a more than ten-fold increase from previous levels. And it was in aviation, one of the most expensive and technologically-advanced industries.

Kissing Up to Hollywood

People like Sen. Joe Lieberman (D/R-CT) have been joining in the general discourse to denounce Hollywood for years as a moral snakepit. Too violent. Too flaky. Too promiscuous. In the wake of the 2004 “moral victory” of George Bush, more and more Democrats are wondering publicly if it’s not time to blow up the likes of Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Barbra Streisand, and the rest of the Tinseltown crowd a lá “Team America: World Police.” (Never mind that Moore’s not based in Hollywood.) No more kissing up to Hollywood.

Kiss up to Hollywood? Why not kiss up to Hollywood? There are some very pretty people there (not necessarily in the actual Hollywood — that seems to be full of drug addicts and prositutes — but in Hollywood the industry) whatever your persuasion.

The whole Hollywood distancing thing smacks to me of allowing Republicans to define the media as “liberal.” After all, Ronald Reagan, the most popular Republican president in recent history was an actor with a problematic family life. Their rising star, Arnie, has made some of the most violent popular movies of all time. Staunchly conservative Catholic Mel Gibson: ditto. Dennis Miller: unfunny comic, conservative talk show host, and the “star” of “Bordello of Blood.” Need I mention Charlton Heston?

American Movie Classics ran a special before election day about conservatives in Tinseltown called “Rated R: Republicans in Hollywood”, whic repeats at the end of December.

The more Democrats pretend Hollywood has nothing to do with them, the more Republicans are going to own that turf, too. The more Democrats think they have to turn their backs or at least pretend they turn their backs, the more Republicans can make inroads into the ranks of actors and writers and producers. It’s not like they’re not already there, people in Hollywood are just like people all across the country. If Democrats can be persuaded to repudiate the movie industry, it won’t be more than an election cycle before they find out that Republicans are more than happy to use Hollywood publicity juggernauts in their own favor to win elections and aren’t ashamed to exert pressure to make sure the only outspoken voices are on their own side.

St. Nicholas Day!

St. Nicholas Day is sort of a special day here in the Moshofsky/Plant household. It’s my birthday, it’s Barbara and my wedding anniversary, and we decided by fiat that it’s the birthday of our over-the-fence boy kitty, Jackie Chan.

Happy Holidays!

Annan Should Resign

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman is demanding that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan should resign over the Iraq Oil for Food “scandal” that’s had the panties of everyone from the Wall Street Journal to Rush Limbaugh in a wad for months.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that Annan should step down.

Annan’s involvement with the Oil for Food program was at a greater remove than George W. Bush’s involvement in the Iraq war. So I’d encourage Mr. Annan to take this opportunity to offer Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, and their coterie his promise to quit as soon as they’ve resigned themselves. It’d be a great way to open discussion about why they should step down, and a major step for world peace! Nobels all around!