Friday, June 27, 2008

Council Winners

Council Winners have been posted for the week of June 27.

First place in the council went to South Africa's Neville Chamberlain by The Razor. It was a good post: Balanced, informed, with a strong opinion and great sourcing. And I learned some things I didn't know before.

Votes also went to The Whole Shebaa-ng by Soccer Dad, which walks the reader through some dot-connecting in the current Middle Eastern diplomacy and reaches a conclusion many, whether they like it or not, find inescapable:

Acceding to Syria's and Hezbollah's demands will only serve to strengthen them. If Israel gives in here, Hezbollah will make new demands. Better that Israel should be (unfairly) portrayed as unreasonable than that Iran's proxies should be strengthened even further.

And to More Quincy from right here, and to Warped by Joshuapundit, about a recent Nicholas Kristof column about Israel.

Dick Morris Gets One Right by Hillbilly White Trash. What he, via Morris, sees looks like this:

The Law enforcement approach equals the Word Trade Center in rubble, the Pentagon damaged and Flight 93 and its passengers scattered across a field in Pennsylvania.

The military approach equals most of al Qaeda leadership dead or captured, 20,000 al Qaeda fighters dead in Iraq, no terrorist attacks on US soil since 9/11 - and a handful of video tapes of Osama bin Laden's ravings being broadcast on al Jazeera.

Which approach to terrorism leaves you feeling safer?

Outside the council, the winner was Why You Should Apologize -- Ineffectively and Dishonestly -- For What You Didn't Do by Classical Values, which tells a family history tale that illustrates the irresolvable complications inherent in the notion of slavery reparations. [My version of that post was done here].

Votes also went to The Unconscious Roots of Media Bias by ShrinkWrapped, which takes off on the same Kristof column Joshuapundit disliked, but unfortunately doesn't seem to differentiate news coverage from editorial page work.

Other votes went to Big Gains in Iraq? by Abu Muqawama, a nice clear-headed and unbiased summation of where things stand; Obama's Lack of Ordinary Modesty by American Thinker, the mere mention of which here is likely to activate that 24-7 Obama truth squad.

Usually, wide-eyed Obama attacks leave me cold, but it's hard to not detect a certain hubris in speeches like this: "generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs for the jobless. This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal."

Votes also went to An Almost Unfathomable Ignorance of History by Brits At Their Best. I like this blog, in part because it has said nice things about my books. The picture it paints here is tragic, of a Britain fed up with its own Britishness and seemingly on a lemming-like march to nonidentity.

Recently, by coincidence, the serious fiction writer Nicholson Baker and the right-wing extremist commentator Pat Buchanan both published books suggesting World War II was not the good war, that it was avoidable but Churchill and Roosevelt provoked it, that the Allies committed war crimes, and that it served a few while sacrificing millions.

Reviewers -- the few who read them -- were quick to dismiss both books, sometimes even rolling them into a single article (which probably appalled the good liberal pacifist Mr. Baker; I suspect Mr. Buchanan is beyond appalling). Both books now seem consigned to oblivion.

But before they go, I would point out that -- except for the conclusion about it not being a good war -- there are kernels of truth in the individual charges made, as I understand them.

Specifically, Churchill (along with Roosevelt and others in the U.K. and U.S.) did provoke Hitler and the Japanese. Deliberately. And they put their countries on a wartime footing as fast and far as they could, in a time of peace. They thought the clash of these civilizations was inevitable, and better to start it before the enemies had built their power to too great a degree to be overcome.

Churchill was not the sort of man who would walk past a scene of the strong bullying the weak and mutter thanks to God that it wasn't him under that rain of fists. He wouldn't have stood at a safe distance and criticized the brutality but done nothing. He'd be looking for a way to get into that scrap and change the outcome.

It's that damned Anglo-American quality which so infuriates the rest of the world. The tendency to want to jump into a fight where you don't have a clear self-interest, just because it's not a fair fight or a just one, and you want to use your power and skill to set it right. What is fair and just is, by definition, your interest.

Are there other possible motives? Always. Are there likely beneficiaries among your friends? Always. Does that mean the impulse is not real or pure? No. But the rest of the world has convinced many Anglo-Americans that this quality in their culture is the main obstacle to peace in the world and must be banished.

Those who agree with that would do well to remember an earlier president with that trait strongly in evidence, and ask whether their politics aren't better suited to the accommodating James Buchanan, Old P.F., rather than the man who succeeded him.

Votes also went to The Card by Stop the ACLU (the "Card" being the race card; the players being Obama supporters); Alcoholism Progression by Dean's World, a gripping example of powerful personal blogging; and Is There A Pattern Here? If So, Is There A Name For It? by Discriminations, another Obama post.