Blog Archive


Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Remember when the mainstream media used to talk about Iraq? It seems like it has been months since they began every nightly news hour with a story about how we were losing the war or slaughtering innocents or breaking the Geneva Convention by tickling terrorists. Which makes one wonder, what has changed? Is the media just bored with the subject? That can't be, since now would be the time to really blitz the public with the failures in Iraq, since the media's candidate, Obama, needs all the help he can get. Nope, the real reason? The war is as good as over, with Al Qaeda having been crushed beyond any chance of recovery. Tony Blankley talks about it and the need for a debate on Iraq before November in his column today.
It has been fashionable -- indeed, de rigueur in political and media circles -- to view contemptuously President Bush's assertion that we are fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we wouldn't have to fight them here. Even conservative commentators have tended to tiptoe around the proposition. We are all far too sophisticated to believe such simplicities. Nor will any self-respecting public chatterer even raise the little matter of America not being hit by terrorism on our soil for the almost seven years since Sept. 11.

And yet the undeniable facts certainly would justify a debate -- if not yet a consensus of agreement -- on President Bush's assertions. Regarding killing Islamist terrorists in Iraq rather than New York City, consider the numbers: According to USA Today in September 2007, more than 19,000 insurgents had been killed by coalition forces since 2003. The number obviously has gone up in the nine months since then (these were midsurge numbers), but I don't have reliable updated numbers.

Of course, most of those 19,000 killed insurgents were not foreign terrorists, but local Iraqis moved to action by our occupation. However, according to studies by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and by the Defense Intelligence Agency, foreign-born jihadists in Iraq are believed to number between 4 and10 percent of the total insurgent strength. So it is reasonable to assume that we have killed -- as of nine months ago -- between 800 and 1,900 non-Iraqi terrorists who otherwise would have been plying their trade elsewhere. It only took a couple of dozen to commit the atrocities of Sept. 11.

Moreover, we know specifically that Al-Qaida in Iraq has been decimated recently. According to the British newspaper The Times in February: "Al-Qaeda in Iraq faces an 'extraordinary crisis'. ... The terrorist group's security structure suffered 'total collapse'."

And last month, Strategy Page reported: "Al Qaeda web sites are making a lot of noise about 'why we (al-Qaida) lost in Iraq'. Western intelligence agencies are fascinated by the statistics being posted in several Arab language sites. Not the kind of stuff you read about in the Western media. According to al Qaeda, their collapse in Iraq was steep and catastrophic. ... If you can read Arabic, you can easily find these pro-terrorism sites, and see for yourself how al Qaeda is trying to explain its own destruction (in Iraq) to its remaining supporters."

Now, it is doubtlessly true that our invasion of Iraq (and Afghanistan) helped al-Qaida's recruitment. I have been told that by U.S. government experts I trust. But that is an old fact. What Osama bin Laden famously said about recruitment is also true: People follow the strong horse. And the new fact is that as we are winning in Iraq, as we are killing al-Qaida fighters and other Islamist terrorists there by the truckload (along with other insurgent opponents of the Iraqi government we support with our blood and wealth), we are proving to be the strong horse after all and can expect to see a reduced attraction for young men to join the Islamist terrorist ranks.

Fighting and winning always impress. Even merely fighting and persisting impress. Shortly after the fall of Soviet Communism, I had dinner with a then-recently former senior Red army general. He told me that the Soviets were astounded and impressed by the fact that we were prepared to fight and lose 50,000 men in Vietnam, when the Soviets never thought we even had a strategic interest there. They thus calculated that they'd better be careful with the United States. What might we do, they thought, if our interests really were threatened?

The full effects of the vigorous martial response of President Bush to the attacks of Sept. 11 will not be known for decades. But if history is any indicator, military courage, persistence and a capacity to kill the enemy in large numbers usually work to the benefit of such nations.

On Sept. 10, 2001, many Islamists thought America and the West were decadent, cowardly and ripe for the pickings. (Hitler thought the same thing about us.) On the basis of President Bush's political courage -- and supremely on the physical courage, moral strength and heartbreaking sacrifice of all our fighting uniformed men and women (and un-uniformed intelligence operatives) -- America's willingness and capacity to fight to protect ourselves cannot be doubted around the world. This may prove to be the most important global political fact of the first decade of the 21st century -- with implications even beyond our struggle with radical Islam.

It is time to reconsider whether President Bush or Barack Obama was right on whether to fight. Obama has had a good political run on the early and inconclusive evidence. As victory starts to emerge in Iraq, more persuasive data begin to fall on President Bush's side of the argument. This is a debate worth having before November.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I don't think I've mentioned this before, but Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine have just recently finished up a trial in which they were taken before the Canadian Human Rights Commission (a misnomer if there ever was one) on charges that the excerpt of Steyn's book America Alone, printed in Maclean's, was hate speech and worthy of sanctions. Having read the book (and enjoyed it immensely), I can say quite confidently that Steyn is anything but hateful in it. The complainants argued that one is not allowed to yell "Fire!" in a crowded theater and not expect to be arrested on disturbing the peace. But, as the defense pointed out, one is allowed (and in fact morally obligated) to yell "Fire!" if they indeed believe and see evidence that the theater is actually ablaze.

However, this is beside the point. What is really at stake here is not a better definition of hate (though that would be nice). What matters most in this case is the idea of freedom of speech and thought. Can a media outlet like Maclean's have the right to publish whatever they choose without the danger of being hauled before a tribunal? Can a writer like Mark Steyn (one of the most brilliant columnists of today) think and say what he wants without the threat of legal injunctions? Or, more closer to home for Christians, can a follower of Jesus quote a Bible verse without fear of prosecution? In Canada, the answer is "no" on all three counts. As John Leo writes this week,
[t]he human-rights tribunals are a censor’s dream. Under Canada’s human-rights act, commissioners can convict if they believe any published material is “likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt.” Since they are “remedial” institutions and not real courts, they need not follow strict legal procedures or grant traditional rights of the accused. No one goes to prison, but the panels can fine and silence people at will — and run up the lawyer bills for years. Truth is no defense, and commissioners are authorized to confiscate a computer without a warrant. Evidence can be woefully flimsy.
One such case of tribunal persecution for nearly six years is the Rev. Stephen Bossoin.
In 2002, the Rev. Stephen Bossoin, a Canadian pastor and youth worker, ran afoul of one of these kangaroo courts. He wrote a testy letter about homosexuals to his local newspaper, the Red Deer (Alberta) Advocate, complaining bitterly that Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and other groups were using taxpayer money to propagandize young children in public schools.

Darren Lund, a professor at the University of Calgary, hauled Boissoin before the Alberta Human Rights Commission, which investigated him for holding homosexuals up to hatred and contempt. After nearly six years of hearings, delays, and argument about the letter, the tribunal convicted him and his group, the Concerned Christian Coalition. As punishment, Boissoin was ordered to pay a hefty fine, apologize in writing and never again make any negative remarks about homosexuality in speeches, on the Internet, or anywhere else.
Christians and conservatives are on the defensive because gays are quick to file charges. After running an ad listing Biblical references to homosexuality, a Saskatoon newspaper and man who placed the ad each had to pay $1,500 to three aggrieved gay complaintants. Another Saskatchewan man, convicted for spreading hatred against gays, had complained about an ad in a gay newspaper seeking boys for activities and specifically mentioning that their age was “not so relevant.” Catholic Insight magazine is also under investigation for commentary protested by gays.
It's a mad, mad world.
Friday, June 20, 2008
... when not only will parents not be able to discipline their children, but they won't even be able to make decisions for them. Oh wait, it's already here.
A Quebec father has decided to appeal a decision by a judge who ruled he had no right to stop his 12-year-old daughter from going on a school trip, even though the girl has already gone on the outing.

The dispute began in May when the girl had a disagreement with her stepmother. That prompted the father to forbid the girl to go on a three-day outing with her classmates to celebrate their last year in elementary school. The girl then moved to her mother's house.

The parents, who live in the Gatineau region of Quebec, are divorced, and the father has legal custody.

Last week, Quebec Superior Court Madam Justice Suzanne Tessier ruled the girl could attend the outing despite her father's wishes. She went on the trip this week.

Kim Beaudoin, a lawyer handling the father's case, said the judge's ruling raises unsettling questions for families.

"It's dangerous to let kids play their parents. They have to learn to respect rules," Beaudoin said in an interview on Thursday.

Beaudoin said her client feels the judge had undermined his authority over his daughter.

"He doesn't think a judge should be allowed to take away a punishment," she said. "And he doesn't think another parent should be allowed to say 'Well, come live at my house, and you won't have to live that punishment.'"
Some of this is just Canada being Canada, but still, in the not-so-distant future, would anyone be surprised to see this sort of situation in an American court?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I read this week that the American Medical Association is "hulking mad" at Marvel Studios for "gratuitous depictions of smoking." Nevermind, I guess, all those movies that show gratuitous sex or gory violence...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I watched a fantastic documentary this week on the Rape of Nanking, which is the story of the Japanese sacking of the capital of China in 1937 and the subsequent months of torture, rape, and murder perpetuated by the Japanese soldiers on the civilians that were too poor to leave town. Nanking is a very moving work; it consists of some amazing footage combined with a dramatic retelling (via the reading of journals and letters by actors, as well as interviews with surviving victims and Japanese soldiers) of the story of how a handful of Westerners saved hundreds of thousands of lives amidst horrible atrocities. I highly recommend it!
Sunday, June 08, 2008

Let's play a little game called Spot the Bride...
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Is this type of thinking soon to be at American universities?
Canadian students now face repression of their fundamental freedoms on their university campuses. After the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) passed a radical motion last weekend, many esteemed places of learning have been transformed into exclusivist regimes. University students across the country are now being forced to defend their constitutionally-recognized rights and freedoms.
Last weekend, the York University Federation of Students (YFS, a CFS member) tabled a motion at the CFS annual meeting. The end result: the authorized restriction of pro-life student groups. Pursuant to York’s action, the CFS passed a motion condoning student unions (like York and Lakehead) that refuse access to resources and campus space to student groups that offer the pro-life perspective on abortion. Without student consultation, the CFS has committed to restricting pro-life groups and individuals on their respective campuses. The York situation continues to develop. It is yet unclear whether the Students for Bioethical Awareness club at York University, which addresses bioethical issues including abortion, will continue to exercise the same rights and privileges as other clubs.

Earlier this year, the Lakehead University Student Union (LUSU, a CFS member) resolved to withhold "any and all funds, space, resources and services within its control from any groups, either on or off campus... if that group holds any aim, principle, belief, goal, etc. that is anti-choice." Explicitly stated, any student that wishes to speak against abortion is labeled “anti-choice,” and will receive no support. This would also include clubs seeking status. It is this position that the CFS now officially endorses. The pro-life message is not only unwelcome on the university campus, but its marginalization is now sanctioned.

The time has come for Canadians to awaken to the reality of totalitarianism in our midst. Ironically, the CFS claims to represent students of differing ethnicities, creeds, ages, and sex; however, it has taken a stance contrary to tolerance and inclusivity. This recent decision demonstrates that the CFS has adopted a dogma of dictatorship. The Federation has employed rhetoric to defame pro-life students as “anti-choice,” and has made a sweeping motion at a time when students are not at school. This lack of transparency, and obvious restriction of the right to choose to be actively pro-life, is startling and unjust.

Also ironic is the setting of this situation. Universities are cherished institutions, our "marketplaces of ideas." After so much progress by the human community to recognize and celebrate human diversity, it is disturbing to acknowledge the prevalence of discrimination at our institutions of higher learning.

The truth about abortion is becoming clearer every day to the Canadian populace. Attempts to suppress free speech about abortion is evidence of desperation--the desperation of those unwilling to concede that abortion is not the only choice, or the best choice, for women. By creating barriers to pro-life students, women on university campuses are paternalistically refused their right to information. Yet we are hopeful and confident; hypocrisy is eventually revealed. The human spirit remains strong. At many points in human history the elite have systematically marginalized those who disagreed with them. This is a time not unlike those times. And in the end, the message of compassion and truth will set us free.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »