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Thursday, February 27, 2003

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby was written by Stephen L. Carter

Tom Sowell made his career before affirmative action was in place. He reminices in A Personal Odyssey that he was lucky to have come along before affirmative action uch that his academic qualifications were never in question. Of the books that he has written on affirmative action that I have read and think are very good include (but are not limited to): Preferential Policies : An International Perspective , Affirmative Action Reconsidered : Was It Necessary In Academia?, Civil Rights : Rhetoric Or Reality?

Tuesday, February 25, 2003
A Short History of Diversity

Justice Powell recognized diversity as a legitimate pretext for affirmative action. The more emphasis American universities place on diversity, then, the more necessary would appear affirmative action. American academic administrators fancy themselves social engineers, and their goal is radical egalitarianism, economic, political, and cultural. So there you have it; countering effects of societal discrimination, in terms of which the first generation of proponents of affirmative action framed their arguments, was rejected by the Supreme Court as a legitimate pretext for affirmative action, but all was not lost, for diversity was recognized. There would be no Dean of Pluralism Tommy Woon, no Diversity Peer Trainers, et cetera, without Bakke vs. Regents of the University of California. Here is a summary from a syllabus from some class at Harvard that I found on the web:

"In Bakke’s case, Justice Powell outlined four kinds of state interests which might be served by affirmative action. These were (I) “reducing the historic deficit of traditionally disfavoured minorities in the medical [or legal, etc.] profession”; (II) countering the effects of societal discrimination; (III) increasing the number of physicians [or lawyers, etc.] who will serve in communities currently underserved; and (IV) obtaining the educational benefits that flow from an ethnically diverse student body. Powell argued that goals (II) and (III) were inappopriate, but accepted (I) and (IV)."

The Race does not go to the strong or the swift but to those who endure...

UPDATE: The remark in section 2a has an error. The person who made the comment was Mike NOT Andrew.
UPDATE: The bake sale was hilarious. Those who justify paternalism and preferences will have a hard time arguing against.

On Friday, I participated in a debate on affirmative action before the alumni arguing the con side of the argument (that is affirmative action should not exist). My opponent, Anit Anand of COSO and drafter of the SA war resolution, took the pro-side. Chien Wen was there; maybe he will have some comments. I look for responses from FreeDartmouth and Dartlog. My argument can't be thrown out a priori: I am still poor and black; my suspicion is, though, that these things shouldn't figure into the merits of my argument. My argument was this:

1) Affirmative Action undermines the meritocracy. Since we are an elite college, our job as an instituion is prepare the best for position of power. Elite colleges suffered when they were affirmative action havens for rich WASPs. As more and more of the preferences geared toward WASPs collasped, a larger pool of applicants began to be admitted and the elite character of the college flourished. Merit, for any given situation X, is an attitude: the Weber's so-called Protestant Ethic. The way merit is expressed differs on the situation: for military, it could be tactical analysis; for business, brilliant schemes; for academics, intelligence and training in the scolastic arts to a degree sufficient to ensure that the matriculated student does not fall behind easily. (Not that every class will be easy; but that even the easiest classes are not some life- or - death struggle.)

2. Affirmative Action is unethical in its use of racial identity. It suggests that there is some inherent mystical value in being of a different racial makeup that increases another equally undefinable but ferevently believed in value: diversity.

a. It causes patronizing indulgence toward 'underpriveldged/ underrepresented minorities'. many supporters suggest that without their goodwill, the college would become homogenous. Not only is it a non-falsifiable statement (merely a rhetorical flourish meant to induce guilt), it is arrogant. Granted that the pool of minorities available to elite colleges is small; it does behoove anyone to 'increase' the pool by slippery means. Colleges are not places to create nice statistical pictures for those who enjoy statistical pictures.

b. It fuels white nationalism. I encourage all to read Andrew's thoughts on affirmative action regarding his freind who believed that only minorities made it into UPenn Early decision or the West Wing episode. Carol Swain, in her new book The New White Nationalism (2002) describes and defines the phenomena; it was aslo heavily documented by D'Souza in The End of Racism. In her words, affirmative action is the perfect grievance for white nationalists.

c. It cast suspicions on the accomplishments of minorities. There are a lot of people who are unsure about how they got here and are never really comfortable with the topic of preferences and despise the condenscending attitudes of whites. However, they do not oppose preferences because they feel that they may not have been here without them. It is an unfortunate position to be in. I have often heard these sentiments expressed when I visited the Malcolm X Center (also known as Cutter-Shabbaz); though I haven't been in a while and don't plan on going anytime soon.

d. It mismatches applicants and universities. People who would have done better in a lower tier are booted up and left to struggle.

3. The real problem is K-12 education. We need to break the teacher's unions, find the qualified teachers and pay them lots of money based on their performance --the education level of the students, and create a culture of learning among minority students. Johnnie can't read and sometimes, Sally can't teach (and even in some cases, hates Johnnie). When segregation existed, some of the poorest schools turned out the best minority students. What happened? Now, minority businesses grow at a faster rate than white businesses and generate more profits. Whither the education achievement to match the business achievments? The grace of God helped us once when the situtation was dire; now that we have been liberated and civil rights have suceeded, why is it that we drop the ball?

Nationwide, a mere 40 percent of eighth-grade white students passed the 2000 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) test for math. But consider the nationwide passing rate for black students -- 6 percent! The Wall Street Journal examined the black passing rates for select states: "New York, 8 percent; California, 6 percent; Michigan, 6 percent; Tennessee, 6 percent; Texas, 7 percent; Arkansas, 2 percent." Nationwide, only 55 percent of black kids graduate from high school, while whites pass at 76 percent. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Three years ago in New York, the percentage of black students who did not graduate from high school was 54 percent. In California, 41 percent. In Tennessee, 54 percent didn't graduate. And in Wisconsin . . . 59 percent. . . . Across the nation, the average non-graduation rate for black students is 45 percent (versus 24 percent for whites). These numbers are surely the same year in and year out, which means that every June in America, largely unnoticed and unremarked upon, almost half the nation's black kids wash over the falls of our urban school systems."

My opponent merely suggested the divesity is good and we should take whatever steps, regardless of the meta-game implications, to fulfill our social agendas.

Some Intelligence Still Exists

Amid all the racial and class paternalism at FreeDartmouth, often endemic to left leaning discussions of race, class and 'affirmative' 'action', Nic and Scott bring up some great points.

Tom Sowell award for deprogramming nominee; Nic: "It doesn't matter where Stefan grew up or went to school, and it speaks poorly of you that you sling around demographic statistics about his hometown as if they were relevant facts. The same arguments have been made by conservative black thinkers like Thomas Sowell who really did pull themselves up by the good old bootstraps. To dismiss Stefan as an overprivileged white kid demeans the whole discussion -- should overprivileged white guys be prohibited from arguing against affirmative action, but overprivileged, guilt-plagued liberal white guys are allowed to defend any affirmative action policy without being attacked? Or are you arguing that only racial minorities may have an opinion about affirmative action without bias?"

Scott: "Conservatives have no other outlet for their ideas since the Review has made itself so irrelevant in recent years. They are publishing only once in a blue moon and have made so many ridiculously callous and racist comments over the years that it has alienated many conservatives such that writing for the D is their only recourse."

This would also be very true. Having some (religious, fiscal, and social) conservative freinds, many have expressed the consensus that not only is the Review going downhill, it is disgraceful to appear in it. The Review, in its incarnation last term at least, reminded me more of 'Happy Hour/ Story Time with Larry' combined with juvenile libertarianism in the field of private morality, reactionary rightist slander in matters concerning public activism and college spending (not all of their critiques were misguided), and conservatism in the field of monetary policy. I do not want to convey the image of disdain for those who write and are active participants in the Review. I just believe the paper is sophmoric at best-- and is quickly being outpaced by the Free Press. Being non-partisan myself or at worst, a center-rightist (don't cringe Tim, Laura, Karsten: it's true :o) ), I would like to think that I could make an intelligent argument in any of the papers for which I chose to write. In fact I have published in all three and wanted to publish another article on Israel in the Free Press, that I never found time to write, much to Scott's consternation.

Monday, February 24, 2003
Latino race traitor cookies

Alas, I haven't been following the Observer much this term. Mea culpa. Here, at 4 a.m., is my attempt to make up for that.

UCLA's Republicans recently had an affirmative action bake sale, with prices determined by one's race and gender. (The same cookie that costs a black woman $0.25 costs an Asian male $2.) The article shows a depressing liberal bias -- the event organizers get shunted to the middle of the article so local Democrats can condemn the hurtful cookies, blowing right past the fact that, I at least, think an affirmative action bake sale is hilarious.

So that's my question to the Dartmouth blogging community: is this bake sale hilariously funny, or just offensive? And does it make a valid point, or is reducing affirmative action to quarters and cookies an oversimplification of the issue?

(I'm expecting Free Dartmouth and maybe Dartlog to weigh in, but I thought it appropriate to post this on a blog with more than one dedicated racial minority poster.)

Friday, February 21, 2003
Hello all:

I realized that I haven't posted in a while but life in the real world has been very busy. I will get some thoughts up on the Observer soon including my views on religious freedom in the American constituion and the challenge to Israeli ethnic democracy. On a more positive note, I am speaking on affirmative action at 4pm in 105 Dartmouth if any want to drop by. I will be greatly encourage if you do come.

Sunday, February 16, 2003
Hitchens interview

America's Future Foundation interviews Christopher Hitchens. [Note: three separate links in the previous sentence.]

It's a jolly good read. My favorite line is not something he said in the interview, but something he said in his latest book, Why Orwell Matters, which was reprinted in the preamble to the interview:

“What [Orwell] illustrates, by his commitment to language as the partner of truth, is that ‘views’ do not really count; that it matters not what you think, but how you think; and politics are relatively unimportant, while principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them.”

It matters not what you think, but how you think.

My sentiments exactly.

Where's the Review?

After a long hiatus (about half a term), the Review finally comes out. Or so I hear. I haven't gone into any dorms yet, but in my travels through Collis, the Hop, Berry, Thayer Dining Hall, Sanborn - all the places you would expect to find copies - I haven't been able to find a copy anywhere. And the Review's website hasn't been updated yet. By contrast, the latest Free Press is everywhere (copies even ended up in my fraternity, although for some reason, they were in the trash when I saw them), including online.

Rumor is that college admins are telling UGAs and Community Directors to remove copies of the Review from dorms. I would not be surprised if this were true.

Saturday, February 15, 2003
The Republican National Committee is mad at me

Whenever I neglect my Hinman mailbox for a couple weeks, I always turn up interesting stuff. Somehow I’ve gotten on about 20 conservative mailing lists from the NRA to the Ann Coulter mailing list, to the RNC, and so on…Today I got some more provocative letters. One was from Ann Coulter, trying to get me to purchase Human Events magazine and a few conservative books. I won’t copy the whole letter because it’s long, but I’ll just show what was written on the outside of the envelope: “Is a pretty, blue-eyed blonde from Connecticut the most dangerous woman in America? Find out why some liberals think so…see inside” and on the back it says “Take the Anne Coulter Pop Quiz!.”

I also got a letter from the Republican National Committee, and apparently they’re not happy with me. Before I copy the letter below, I’ll give a little background explanation. Last year, for some reason I was sent a “RNC Platinum Card membership” which said that, as a platinum member, I should feel obligated to donate at least $1000 dollars immediately. Anyway, I never donated anything, but I still have the card. So here is the letter I received today:

Dear Friend,

I don’t want to believe you’ve abandoned the Republican Party, but I have to ask….Have you given up?

Our records show we have not yet received your 2003 Republican National Committee membership contribution! As Treasurer of the RNC, I know our Party’s success depends directly on grassroots leaders like you. So I am surprised and concerned because I know how generously you have helped in the past and how instrumental your support was to our historic victories in 2002. I know other things come up, and perhaps you’ve just been delayed in renewing your membership. If that’s the case, I understand. But we’ve not heard from you this year – and I hope you haven’t given up on the Party. After our sweeping wins in 2002, it’s vital we not grow complacent.

President Bush is counting on Republican leaders like YOU to help him with the tough challenges that lie ahead. Your help is important. The results of the 2002 elections were extremely close. Proving again the actions of one person can have a profound difference on the political process. That’s why your 2003 RNC membership renewal is urgently needed to support President Bush and our leaders in Congress as they work to build a better future for our country.

President Bush’s agenda of lower taxes, a strong homeland and national defense, and a real solution for Social Security and Medicare is right for America…but his positive vision still faces intense opposition in Congress from the liberal Democrats. With our majorities in the U.S. House and Senate razor thin, the Democrats and their liberal special interest allies will obstruct and delay every chance they can.

We cannot allow them to succeed!

We must also ensure the men and women who will represent our party as candidates in 2003 state and 2004 federal elections have the early help they need to organize strong campaigns. This is a team effort, and your continued support is important. So if you have delayed in renewing your membership because you feel the RNC has let you down or no longer needs you, please let me know. I want to hear from you. But please don’t turn your back on President Bush and our GOP leaders in Congress who are counting on your help. Just include your comments and suggestions with the enclosed Membership Confirmation and return them with your 2003 Membership renewal check.

Please don’t quit now! Renew your RNC membership today. Thank you.

Sincerely ,

Mike Retzer

Friday, February 14, 2003
Ah, Peter Singer

I recommend you all read this article in the NYT magazine.

The Role of Oil

One of the most controversial aspects of potential military action in Iraq, is the question of oil and whether or not it is influencing the behavior of the United States in supporting war, or some other countries like Russia, France, and China in opposing it. Indeed, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Iraq is sitting on 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, second only to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Iraqi oil fields are highly underdeveloped (only 15 of it’s 74) and unexplored, and experts estimate that 220 billion barrels of oil exist in total. While a lot of attention is paid to the supposed legitimacy that comes with UN consensus, much less attention is paid to the crass motives of the individual member states in forming their policies. In today’s The Dartmouth opinion column, Rene Joya wrote a column which attempted to refute another column written yesterday. She writes:

Moreover, if France and Russia just wanted to protect their Iraqi oil interests, keeping Hussein in power would not be the logical thing to do. Would not a pro-Western regime do more to satisfy French oil interests? Obviously, the answer is yes, so it is incorrect to assume that France is only doing this for oil.

So she says that “obviously” a pro-Western Iraqi regime would benefit French oil interests more than the current Iraqi regime. Her logic is that if a regime is "pro-Western" then it must economically benefit all "Western" countries. However, not only is this claim not obvious, it’s not true at all.

It is a well known fact that since the UN sanctions have been imposed on Iraq, French and Russian companies like TotalFinaElf and Lukoil (respectively) have negotiated the best multi-billion dollar oil contracts with the Iraqi regime to refurbish current Iraqi oil extraction facilities, redevelop new oil fields, and explore new territory for possible oil digging. These contracts are scheduled to go into effect as soon as UN sanctions are lifted. According to Deutsche Bank analysts, some of these contracts offer interest rates in excess of twenty percent to the companies involved. France comes in a close second to Russia, which in March of 1997, signed a multibillion dollar, 23-year contract to rehabilitate oil fields, particularly the huge 15-billion barrel West Qurna field. Moreover, just last October officials from the Iraqi Oil Ministry flew to Moscow and offered Russia a 5-year $40 billion dollar oil development contract, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin has expressed interest. On top of all this, Russia is currently owed between 7 and 9 billion dollars worth of debt from the Iraqi government, which go back from the Cold War days when the USSR was trying to earn favor with Iraq and other Arab states. Even if the sanctions aren’t removed, however, Russia is still Iraq’s largest trading partner in the current Oil for Food program, earning approximately four billion dollars a year through it. The one thing that would certainly be disadvantageous to Russian and French oil companies is if Hussein's regime were overthrown and they lost their preferential oil contracts and, in the case of Russia, the $7-9 billion dollars of debt owed to it.

As a result of these developments, a key aspect of President Bush’s efforts to sway the Russians and French into supporting the United States in the security council has been backdoor negotiations over future oil contracts in a liberated Iraq. Unlike the French, the Russians have been quite blunt about their oil interests in the region. Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the international-affairs committee of Russia's Upper House and foreign policy advisor to President Vladimir Putin, recently told reporters in Washington that "the recognition of the Russian interests in the oil sphere in Iraq should not be only recognition by U.S. officials but also recognition from the international oil community." Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Russian oil company Yukos told the Washington Post: "If America wants Russia to be a participant in solving the problem, then the best way to go about doing this is to get Russia interested from an economic view. If there were consortia formed between Russian and American companies before all of this happened i it would provide a sufficient level of guarantees for Russian companies and Russia as a whole."

Joya then goes on to write:

America, on the other hand, will directly benefit from a pro-Western Iraqi government. U.S. laws currently restrict American companies from drilling Iraqi oil. However, what if a more "favorable" regime were in place in Baghdad? Hmm, those "blood for oil" arguments sound more convincing already.

It’s probably true that a pro-Western “friendly” Iraqi regime would be more economically beneficial to the United States than the current situation. However, if cheap oil were the only objective in forming American policy, it would be much easier and less costly than war for the United States to eliminate its laws restricting US companies from investing in Iraq, Libya, and Iran, and to influence the UN to eliminate the sanctions on Iraqi oil. In fact, prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the American Petroleum Institute had been lobbying to remove the UN sanctions.

Thursday, February 13, 2003
Even More Disturbing

The College is forcing the people who run the Direct Connect file sharing program to shut it down by midnight tonight. Hurry up and get all you can.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
Very Disturbing

So I decided to read the blogs today and ran into an argument about the CCC. It seems that as soon as I get a free moment I should weigh in on the whole religious proselytization argument and the false equivocation of relgious freedom with free speech, which unfortunately means that Emmet Hogan's 'content neutrality' thesis, though popular in modern jurisprudence, will have to come under fire. However, I was also interested to see what my fellow Observers think. It all started with this post from Kumar on the Free Dartmouth (from what: passionate relgionists...?):

The Term Crusade

The coming issue of the Jacko-Lantern makes fun of the student group, Campus Crusade for Christ, for its use of the word Crusade in its name. The mock Jacko article remembers back to the rather bloody Crusades of a thousand years ago, and asks if the current group has similarly intolerant, bloody and potentially anti-Islam aspirations.

I was wondering if you all thought the Jacko is being too hard, or if this group opens itself to such criticism with such a 'proselytizing' name?

I understand the proselytizing is no longer a pasttime that enjoys the support of the enlightened, the liberals (in the classic sense, not in the leftist party sense) and the mujadeen (since crusader is an offensive term) for social justice. However, I beleive that attacks on proselytization are made by those who either do not comprehend the primacy and power of religious beleif or seek to gut the things that seperate religious beliefs from personal preferences. I encourage all to read my 'Christian Alternative to Political Activism' as an example of what the overriding mission of the Church is; I have a feeling it will not sit well with the happy liberal consensus of today.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
The Andrew J. Scarlett Lectureship Series presents a speech by:
Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003
105 Dartmouth Hall
Q and A of the Senator to follow at
Sigma Alpha Epsilon (38 College Street)
Refreshments will be provided.
Open to the public.

Sunday, February 09, 2003
Broad Brushing

You know, last time Al Qaeda-linked operatives assassinated a "resistance" leader in a country in which said Al Qaeda operatives were likely to be attacked, a few days later they flew commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center. Like I said, broad brushing, but just something worth pointing out.

From Today's Wall Street Journal Editorial:

Here's a trick question. In which country would you take a poll and find that: a) 87.8% of citizens polled are against military intervention in Iraq even with U.N. approval; b) more respondents have a positive view of Saddam Hussein than of President Bush; and c) when asked "which country is more democratic -- the U.S. or Iraq," 57% answer neither, only 34% say the U.S. and almost 8% say Iraq.

If you guessed Syria or Saudi Arabia (or even France), you'd be wrong. The correct answer is Greece, birthplace of democracy. Anti-American hostility runs high there thanks in part to the government's indulgence of dangerous nativism at home

Friday, February 07, 2003
Kurds and Palestinians: Double Standard?

I went to the lecture yesterday by Dr. Huseiyn Aktas, a member of the Board of Directors for the American Kurdish Information Network, and I was a little surprised by the low turnout at the event. After all, events bringing speakers on the Israel-Palestinian conflict usually have packed audiences with impassioned students on both sides of the debate. It struck me that this is not a peculiar phenomenon at just Dartmouth. Americans and people around the world seem to hardly care at all about the plight of the Kurds, a civilization which has existed for thousands of years, with between 30-50 million people today, living in various countries including Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. Not only are there far more Kurds than Palestinians, but they live in a much larger territory, and they are often subjected to a kind of oppression and even genocide that is hardly comparable to what the Palestinians suffer. And yet the Kurds, unlike the Palestinians, have no representative in the United Nations, we don’t see divestment petitions against countries oppressing Kurds, we don’t see campus protests, and we also don’t see planes, cruise ships, and buses being hijacked or exploded around the world by Kurdish militants very often. So why the selective moral outrage? Why don't we see campus protests and divestment campaigns against our NATO ally Turkey? I have a few of my own theories for why this double standard exists, but I’d be curious to hear other people’s opinions on this matter.

Thursday, February 06, 2003
More on the Iraq-Al Qaeda connection

Powell's multimedia presentation to the United Nations Security counsel was really impressive in its detail and the extent of information it had from various sources – reports by defectors, recordings from satellite phones, satellite photography, and so on. He gave further evidence for what a lot of people have recognized all along – that Iraq is actively working to thwart the inspections process once again. What I found most interesting though, was the evidence he had regarding the Iraq-Al Qaeda link.

Now there already had been a lot of evidence that Iraq has been involved directly in terrorism, and that it has provided aid and had extensive relationships with various terrorist networks. For example, it's well known that Hussein pays $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber and that one of the leading Palestinian terrorists Abu Nidal was long based in Iraq, until just recently he “committed suicide” by shooting himself twice in the head. It’s also true that Iraqi intelligence agencies have been involved in assassination attempts at former President Bush and the Emir of Kuwait and that a hijacking training camp has existed in Iraq. It’s also true that Iraq – a country with tightly locked borders and a ubiquitous intelligence agency - has sheltered other terrorists including Abdul Rahman Yasin (indicted for the first World Trade Center terrorist attack in 1993 and on the FBI most wanted list) and Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi (a leading Al-Qaeda officer who came to Iraq after fleeing Afghanistan and who got medical treatment in a Baghdad hospital). It’s also very likely to be true that the terrorist network operating in Iraqi Kurdistan Ansar al-Islam, which is aided by Hussein, has been closely affiliated with Al Qaeda. Among many other journalists, Jeff Goldberg of the New Yorker Magazine reported on this extensively when he made a secret trip last year into Iraqi Kurdistan and interviewed members of Ansar al-Islam held in Kurdish prisons. William Safire also wrote an interesting column in the New York Times last week on Ansar al-Islam.

However, Powell’s report was interesting because it provided intelligence on the assassination of an American diplomat Laurence Foley in Jordan last October. Apparently, the aforementioned al-Zarqawi has been operating an Al Qaeda cell in Iraq for the last several months, and this cell was responsible for planning Foley’s assassination, and has been planning other terrorist attacks throughout the world. This information, discussed in a New York Times article yesterday, was based (as ususal) on interrogations of captured Al Qaeda members, but also on a satellite telephone call carelessly made by Zarqawi’s top deputy as he was driving along the Iraqi-Turkey border to congratulate and meet with some of the Al Qaeda members responsible for planning Foley’s murder.

In the aftermath of this release, I wouldn't be surprised if al-Zarqawi mysteriously "commits suicide" by shooting himself twice in the head....

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

1) Britain's Tony Benn interviews Saddam Hussein.

2) The New Republic's Spencer Ackerman debunks Stephen Pelletiere's claim that Iran, not Saddam, gassed the Kurds.

Laura Dellatorre writes on Free Dartmouth:

(Even More) Posturing Impartiality on the Dartmouth "Observer"

Stam, of course, was the pro-war advocate from the oh-so-politically-neutral Government Department. Now, the implication is that when Edsworth (his opponent) makes statements against the war, he is using dirty rhetoric to appeal to those gullible (and probably communistic) anti-war activists. When Stam makes his points, however, it is merely "analysis," and totally neutral. I am reminded of a great comment Roland Barthes makes regarding literary criticism, which can be applied here to political analysis (no, he wasn't perfect, but his point here is perfectly articulated):

Ideology is smuggled into the baggage of scientism like contraband merchandise. Criticism is more than discourse in the name of "true" principles. It follows that the capital sin in criticism is not ideology but the silence by which it is masked.

Mr. Webb, please spare us the fatuous appeal to detached rationalism and admit your (rather glaringly obvious) ideological leanings.


1) For the last time, we're a multi-partisan blog, not a non-partisan blog. And stop using the quote marks around Observer - we're not socially-constructed! Now "Free" Dartmouth on the other hand...

2) Frank has an ideological position - most people do. But I give him credit for trying to be rational and intelligent about it. Would you prefer that he resort to rhetoric and bluster?

3) I don't understand your use of the phrase, "oh-so politically-neutral Government department." Was that meant as sarcasm? The link you provide suggests that the Government department as a whole IS neutral, because it does not fund political activism. I can't speak about the individual professors (although Vijay assures me that they're mostly Democrats).

4) Laura, you weren't even at the debate. How then can you counter Frank's claim simply by trotting out a quote from Roland Barthes? Would you care to explain Barthes's own ideological position? And yours? While both professors employed rhetoric - Frank should acknowledge this - I have to say I found Stam's argument more convincing. Edsforth spent a lot of time criticizing the Bush administration's policies by bringing up the motivations for the war. But what matters more? Motivations or consequences? What he could not provide, however, was a viable alternative policy towards Iraq. Stam, on the other hand, pointed out the bad record the US has had in the Middle East, but he argued that instead of letting that record persist, the US should rectify it by invading Iraq. Such an invasion would be morally-justified in more ways than one. Edsforth acknowledged the human rights question, but he seemed to have very little to say about how the international community should stop Saddam from committing genocide against his own people.

5) Once again, I'd like to draw your attention to this article, in which Saddam's personal bodyguard spills the beans on Saddam's hidden weapons programme.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Stam vs. Edsforth

Lately, I feel like I've been ignoring my duties to the observer, so some thoughts about last night's event in Dartmouth Hall.

First, allow me to say that my recollection of Edsforth's "argument" is one thick with inflammatory rhetoric and a conspiracy theory centered on the desire of shrewd men in the U.S. government (the major members of the Cabinet?), who are pursuing this war with Iraq purely over Oil. Iraq, he claims, poses no direct or indirect threat to the United States and so this cannot be a morally justified war. After our conquest of Iraq, our VP's former oil company will go in and start to steal the oil from the Iraqi people. He goes on to argue that this sort of war is precisely what our Constitution wished to avoid by giving the War power to Congress, comparing this war against Iraq with the wars of 19th century monarchs and despots.

Stam's argument bewildered the audience which seemed to be expecting something more infammatory they could attack. His position was relatively simple. Current U.S. policy in the middle east is no longer sustainable. September 11th is a symptom of this policy failure. We must either move forward, or move back. The mess in the middle east is largely a result of the United State's short-term policies during the Cold War. Since its our fault, its our mess to clean up. Over the past 10 years, the United States has tried Deterrence, Appeasement/Engagement and nothing has worked. Therefore, since Saddam is at least partially a monster of our making, it is our morally justified duty to depose him by force since nothing else has worked.

What was striking to me was that these two scholars' arguments were largely grounded in their respective fields of study, and so it seemed that rather than a true debate of point-counterpoint, they were offering two different paradigms within which they argued their perspectives.

I asked Prof. Edsforth a question which I will try to reconstruct: "Professor Edsforth, how would you respond to an argument that I have read which argues that after the War Powers act was passed it is unlikely that Congress will declare war again because the Act allows Presidents to pursue wars on their own (on a limited basis) and face the full blame if anything goes wrong. (ie, Congress can avoid the blame) And, that a declaration of war would potentially start a domino effect of alliance commitments similar to WWI? (US and Nato, Iraq and the Arab League)"

Edsforth, essentially, reiterated himself and I don't feel he answered my question: "Congress passed the War Powers act to prohibit Presidents from pursuing war on their own." My question deals with the current dynamic, regardless of the intent of the War Powers Act, whereby Congress doesn't have to give a President a Declaration of War and so can pass the buck if things go badly, and that if a Declaration were given, wouldn't it instigate a contractual alliance Great-Power War and therefore provide a disincentive for any such Declaration.

Finally, although it was popular, Edsforth's argument does not provide the weight of analysis of Stam's. Someone should put Stam on CNN so that people can hear this point of view more often, one devoid of rhetoric from either Doves or Hawks and merely a well-thought out analysis of policy.

Monday, February 03, 2003

I would like to thank Karsten for his sincere apology and would encourage him to post his thoughts on anti-Zionism. I believe that Jon Eisenman had an important point about me labeling 'dissent' vis-a-vis Israel anti-Zionism too quickly. I would like to show why I nominated that person for the Shimon Peres award (though technically Shimon is a post-Zionist but functionally there is no difference.)

I will begin this post by defining what a Zionist is, which I consider myself. A Zionist is a person who believes that Israel has a moral right to exist as a Jewish majority state within borders that it defines and negotiates with its neighbors. A Zionist believes that the Jews have a moral claim to the land that Israel sits on by virtue of being a successful nationalist movement for the Jews. Zionists also recognize that Israel is a Jewish democracy: a state for the Jews, which has chosen to organize itself in a democratic fashion. As a Jewish state, it must maintain its Jewish character for the vision to persist. As a democracy, it must organize its political system along principles of justice that afford the maximum rights possible to all of its citizens, taking into account its state of war and the Arab resistance movement(s) within the militarily administered territories. A Zionist faithfully supports any Israeli war for security and viability while decrying wars of expansion and crusades of religious fervor because they are destabilizing. Zionists can be, and often are, critical of many of Israel's policies, especially when they threaten to undermine many of the accomplishments of Zionism thus far-- a strong Jewish state in a hostile region. Zionists, however, are never apologetic about 1948 and 1967; they recognize that these were necessary wars for survival. Nevertheless, they are willing to deal with the complex-- and the unoptimal-- realities the Jewish victories created vis-a-vis the neighboring Arab populations and make tough the sacrifices necessary to achieve peace and stability.

Anti-Zionists do not believe that Israel ever should have existed or that it exists today without a moral claim to the land on which it sits. Generally, they over emphasize the plight of the Israeli-Palestinians and whitewash the Palestinian resistance. (This would include most leftist European intellectuals.) For them, the Security Council’s decision to recognize Israel was not an act of justice, but one of the greatest injustices of the 20th century. Unwilling to deal with the fact that a number of the Arab 'resistance' organizations do not wish to end the 'occupation' but the existence of Israel, they use logic plus, which includes but is not limited to the use of selective facts, to undermine Israel's moral capital. They draw a false and deadly moral and psychological equivalence between Israel's war against terrorism for security (not to be confused with an Israeli initiative to annex the territories) and the Arab attempts to replace Israel (not to be confused with moderate Palestinian attempts to create a viable two-state system) with their language of both sides and headlines like 'Israel kills 4; Hamas blast 8.' No moral equivalence exist between the two sides. There are no 'both sides' locked in a cycle of violence or a deadly dance; there are four sides fighting four wars of which only two are justified. (One war is a Jewish war for all of Israel and Palestine (unjustified). The second war is an Israeli war for security. (justified) The thrid war is an Arab war to replace Israel. (unjustified) The fourth war is a war for an independent Palestinian state. (justified)) Anti-Zionists often lie blame for the continuation of the Arab-Israeli conflict at America's feet for 'giving' the Israelis weapons that they use to kill the ancient and innocent Palestinians. For them, Zionism is at best a form of racism and at worst, Western imperialism/ colonialism.

I nominated the author for the Shimon Peres award because these words are pure slander, mere decontextualized insults against the Jewish state.

"Israel is run by an expansionist, intolerant regime dominated by a military elite."

Israel is not an expansionist, intolerant regime dominated by a military elite. Everyone in Israel serves in the army, similar to Singapore or other countries, so the fact that some of the last prime ministers fought in some of Israel's war is not surprising. In terms of tolerance, the Jewish state allows all religions to be practiced freely within its borders. Women have high status in Israeli society and form an equal part of the military. In terms of culture, McIsrael is a better description in so far as Israeli culture is thoroughly Americanized. The regime is not expansionist; more on its borders below.

"Israel remains the only country in the world that has never declared its frontiers."

Whether Israel is the only country in the world that has not declared its borders is a bone of contention. There is the land dispute between Algiers and Morocco in N. Africa and the border dispute between Syria and its neighbors, which has led to undeclared borders. In fact, when Israel was first created, it had cease-fire lines to demarcate its territory, which has become the infamous 'Green Line' and the pre-1967 'borders' that the left is always raving about. Israel first delineated some of its borders by signing a peace treaty with Egypt in 1978 (under a rightist government no less). Syria never recognized Israel and thus recognizes none of its borders. Jordan and Israel declared borders after the peace accord in 1998 bringing those two nations to peace and ending the Jordan-Israel part of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The borders between the future Palestinian state and Israel are to be determined through regional negotiations and diplomacy between the Palestinians and the Israeli government. It's tough to declare all borders in the middle of a war.

"It maintains a brutal, humiliating occupation of foreign, sovereign territories, discriminates on the basis of race and religion, refuses international peacekeepers under U.N. mandate to mitigate or monitor its draconian rule over those who do not belong to its dominant ethnicity, and -- most frighteningly of all -- commands a potent nuclear arsenal for which it declines to disavow first use."

The only territories over which there is a sovereign government is the Golan Heights, which was taken from Syria and will be given back when Syria ends its 'no peace, no war' policy. Israel withdrew from the Lebanon security zones (set up in 1985 by Rabin) in 2000 under Ehud Barak. The reason that Israel refuses peacekeepers is that peacekeepers can't one, make peace, two, were ineffective at keeping peace between Egypt and Israel before, and third, come from an international body on which Israel is not represented and often runs counter to the Israeli national interest. Israel's nuclear arsenal is a deterrent threat to the Arab regimes around it; they (the nukes) make the Arabian armies think twice before descending into war making. Unless the author of said piece wants to risk another Arab-Israeli war, he should be silent at the nuclear backed peace that has existed since 1973-4 (Yom Kippur) War.

Saddam's Top Bodyguard Defects,5478,5921220%5E663,00.html

Plus, notes on Stam vs. Edsforth coming up...

Mea Culpa

I apologize for my recent inappropriate comment on the topic of anti-Zionist accusers.

No matter my opinion, it was irresponsible and unkind of me to make a joke at a recent Dartmouth alum's expense.