Crow Violation

Location: People's Republic of Madison, Wisconsin

Friday, August 26, 2005

Fry Karl

This week marks the 35th anniversary of the Sterling Hall bombing. On August 24th, 1970, members of the Madison peace movement detonated a truck bomb that heavily damaged UW-Madison's physics building. The blast also killed Robert Fassnacht, who was a physics postdoc and the father of three young children.

To commemorate the bombing, the Capital Times hands the mic to apologists for Karl Armstrong, who planned the bombing. One of the interviewees was caught while trying to spaypaint the following slogan on a Madison wall: "One side's right. One side's wrong. We're on the side of Karl Armstrong." But that is very moderate compared to another Armstrong supporter:

To others, such as writer James Rowen, more appalling was that the UW's military assistance indirectly killed thousands of Vietnamese. When Sterling Hall was bombed, its Army Mathematics Research Center was the nation's only Army-funded think tank, working to hike enemy casualties.

Imagine that! Trying to inflict casualties on the enemy. You might thing we were at war or something.

When Fassnacht is mentioned, it is in the context of pointing out that his death had a negative effect on the "anti-war" movement. The article makes no mention of Fassnacht's family, or the millions of dollars in damage inflicted, or the massive loss of scientific research in several departments. Physics deparment lore has it that Fassnacht's advisor, Heinz Barschall (who had worked on the Manhatten Project), basically gave up on research after the bombing. In later years, he was known for some rather fluffy papers on the cost effectiveness of physics journals.

Armstrong was eventually captured, and served a laughably short sentence for his crime. With the help of Madison's congressman, he was paroled in 1980. This being Madison, a protest movement sprang up in support of the murderer, complete with "free Karl" tee-shirts.

In all the discussion about the bombing one crucial point is never discussed. In 1970, we were at war. The Army Math Research Center (then housed in Sterling) was the target of the bombing. So Armstrong launched a violent attack on a military installation in a time of war. If that isn't treason, then nothing is.

Even if the bombers hadn't killed anyone, they should have been sentenced to death.

More information on the bombing

Update: Since creating this post I read the book Rads, which covers the events leading up the the Sterlin Hall bombing. There's one important correction: Fassnacht was not in nuclear physics, but in solid state - superconductivity, to be exact. His advisor was John Dillinger, not Heinz Barschall. Barschall did lose years of research and have two graduate students injured in the attack.

I'll post a review of this book, if my legions of readers demand it.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Guess that economic policy

Here's a picture of cars in China, all lined up for the filling station:

Question: What economic policy is obvious from this picture?

Answer: China has price controls on gasoline.

See the story at Gateway Pundit, along with some good comments.

One thing we cannot conclude from this picture is that China's leaders are Carter-like economic illiterates. Their reasons for price controls are more likely to be political rather than economic. Even if they realize that gas lines can be treated by free-market gas prices, the risks of social unrest could trump any economic consideration. The Chinese economy is strewn with these kinds of roadblocks.

The conventional wisdom says that China will shortly be America's main superpower rival. That's possible, but another strong possibility is that China will simply implode because its leaders cannot resolve their contradictory desires: they want to maintain dictatorial control over the country, while also riding China to greater prosperity. They won't always be able to have it both ways, because prosperity requires freedom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Critique them until they glow

The editorial board of the Badger Herald likes to keep its collective mind open - wide open. How open? Well, last year the Herald regularly handed the microphone over to Fayyad Sbaihat of al-Awda. Al-Awda, which means "the return", is dedicated to wiping out Israel through demographics. Oh, and Sbaihat may also be linked to the terrorist group PFLP. But open-minded folk shouldn't hold a little mass murder against a fellow.

The Herald continues the tradition this summer, publishing an opinion piece by Mohammed Abed, another "Right to Return" luminary. Abed is peddling the standard line that the problem is not with Islamofascism, but with Western imperialism.

Any casual observer of the region will notice that the phenomenon of suicide bombing invariably occurs in or is exported from countries under foreign military occupation, either by the U.S. or by one of its close allies, Israel being in the latter category.

Iran has no shortage of radical Islamic fundamentalists who engage in critiques of the West’s “culture of decadence and moral degeneracy,” and yet no Iranians took up box cutters and turned Manhattan into a living hell.

Whoa! I just learned something. When the Iranian mullahs sent bombers to blow up our Marines in Beirut, they weren't engaging in terrorism. They were offering a critique. That puts a whole new spin on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Of course, Iran has be waging a terrorist war against the US for over a generation now, all without any Western occupation whatsoever. But Abed needs to conflate terrorism with suicide bombing, or otherwise someone might notice that the Islamic world has generated all sorts of terrorism without any occupation to excuse it.

Here someone might ask whether Iran's terror war against the US explained by our support for the Shah. That just goes to show that if you're determined to justify terrorism, anything will do. Occupation is just one of many excuses, and if that doesn't work, then it's because of the Shah. Or because we support Israel. Or because we desecrated the sacred ground of Saudi Arabia (by not allowing Saddam's troops to tromp all over it). Or because we protect Salman Rushdie and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. If you hope to achieve peace through retreat, you simply haven't been paying attention.

Since they were expelled en masse from their homeland in 1948, the Palestinians have been engaged in acts of violent resistance to Israel.

So here the "occupation" does not refer to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It means every last bit of soil on which Israel sits. In other words, as long as Israel continues to exist, Abed can blame all Palestinian terrorism on Western imperialism. Perhaps Ariel Sharon should have consulted with Abed before withdrawing from the Gaza Strip; then he wouldn't be so surprised when Israel gives up the land, and gets no peace in return.

Similarly, the leadership of Al Qaeda is unlikely to persuade well-educated, upper middle-class, successful and socially integrated people like the London bombers to end their lives for the sake of re-establishing the Islamic Caliphate.

Yet, inexplicably, Al Qaeda convinced 19 men (most of them educated and upper-middle class) to commit the 9/11 attacks, all in order to re-establish the Caliphate. To state the blindingly obvious: there was no occupation of Iraq back then. But! But! The US deserved it because... Well, I don't know how we deserved it, but I'm sure that Abed and his friends can come up with something. They always do.

To end terror, the Western powers must reevaluate their policies towards the Islamic and Arab world. The most important change would be to remove any impediments to genuine self-determination, independence and democratization for the region.

I seem to recall that one country in the Middle East was just given its best chance at self-determination ever. Now which one was it? Surely, it couldn't be Iraq. Otherwise Abed wouldn't be using Iraq as an excuse for terrorism, would he?

A greater capacity for inflicting harm carries with it greater moral responsibility. Part of being morally responsible is to realize that the use of means that obliterate the concept of humanity itself renders your ends, even if they are just and good, meaningless.

Translation: Waaa! It's no fair that you have bigger bombs than we do! The terror shills must realize that for all their triumphalism, they wouldn't have a prayer if the West decided to use its full firepower against them. Therefore, people like Abed perform a critical service for the terrorists. They are struggling to prevent the West from developing a righteous fury, which would be fatal to Islamofascist cause. We shouldn't be so open minded as to help.

Update: Remember how I said that someone can always find an excuse for terrorism? Well, I hope you remember; I did sort of pound that point into the ground. Let's pound some more. An Islamofascist has just proclaimed that terrorism would be justified against another famous imperial power: Ireland.

Anjem Choudary, who has close links to the infamous hate preacher, Omar Bakri Mohammed, said the use of Shannon Airport as a stop-off for US warplanes justifies Ireland being attacked.

The solicitor (38) said: "If your government wants to support the atrocities in Afghanistan they can expect some repercussions," and added that Ireland had "opened itself" to attacks from radical Muslims linked to al-Qa'ida.

It's not a scandal if the New York Times doesn't know about it

Mark Steyn has an update on the oil-for-food scandal. Along the way, he repeats some old news that I had missed:

The actual head of the Oil-for-Food racket, Kofi sidekick Benon Sevan, has resigned, having hitherto insisted that a mysterious six-figure sum in his bank account was a gift from his elderly aunt, a lady of modest means who lived in a two-room flat back in Cyprus. Paul Volcker’s investigators had planned to confirm with auntie her nephew’s version of events, but unfortunately she fell down an elevator shaft and died. It now seems likely that the windfall had less to do with Mr Sevan’s late aunt and more to do with his soliciting of oil allocations for another company.

Now maybe, just maybe, Auntie's death was an unfortunate accident. But imagine a slightly different "unfortunate accident". Suppose that Ken Lay claimed that some of Enron's books were kept by his aunt, who just happened to have mysteriously died recently. How long would that story be screaming front page headlines for the New York Times? A month? Three months?

By way of comparison, I went to the Times archives and searched for +sevan +aunt +elevator.

Zero hits. You lazy, biased, leftwing hacks.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Who's afraid of John Bolton?

Today John Bolton received a recess appointment as ambassador to the United Nations. Democrats and the media (if you'll pardon the redundancy) have loudly condemned the move, and have thrown out just about anything they can think of to discredit the man. Republicans, also true to form, have offered nothing but vague generalities in support.

After all the silly objections are dismissed, opposition to the Bolton nomination boils down to one thing: John Bolton doesn't revere the United Nations. Reverence for the UN is such a bedrock principle for the Western Left, that any deviation seems like an endorsement of war and poverty. After all, the UN was supposed to serve the cause of peace, justice, and humanitarian goodness, so how could any oppose it?

The answer, of course, is anyone who notices that the UN acts in direct contradiction to its stated ideals. Where the UN was supposed to stop aggressive dictators, it coddles them. When given the opportunity to "feed the children", the UN has consistently skimmed off the cash, and shared the loot with the same corrupt regimes that keep their countries in poverty.

The UN's problems are not superficial. They cannot be solved by changing leaders or implementing a few bureaucratic reforms. They are fundamental to the conception of the UN. You can't bring freedom by sharing power with dictators; dictators are by definition people who hate freedom. Yet the Soviet Union and Communist China both had permanent seats in the most powerful UN body. You cannot possibly achieve world prosperity while treating socialism as just another choice in economic systems. But the UN seems agnostic in the matter. (OK, maybe I'm being too generous to the UN on that score. The world body is far more likely to promote poverty-inducing socialism than anything vaguely capitalistic.)

These should have been the main issues in the Bolton nomination. Bolton's previous contemptuous statements gave an opportunity to make it into a debate about the nature of the UN. Why, then, did this become a debate about whether John Bolton was sufficiently nice to his subordinates? At a time when the top leadership of the United Nations was clumsily covering the oil-for-food scandal, would it have been so hard to highlight UN corruption?

The blame lies squarely with the Bush Administration. It's not just that the Administration is half-hearted about publicly defending itself - although that is often true. Fundamentally, George Bush can't end our suicidal association with the UN because he agrees with the Democrats. He agrees that the UN is an unquestionable force for moral good. So even when he defies UN opinion, he feels the need to consult and beg and offer protestations of his love.

The UN is not good. It is a force for evil. And American foreign policy can never really serve American interests until we have a President who is willing to say so.