Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Notes From All Over

David Horowitz and Ben Johnson at Frontpage (hat tip: MIG) ask "who killed Marla Ruzicka?", the activist who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Horowitz doesn't answer the question but suggests that at the time of her death Ruzicka had parted, or was on the way to parting company with the radical Left.

In the last year of her short life, she had moved away from the agendas and organizations of extreme left that had originally directed her life path to the war zones in order to establish a path of her own. In her new endeavor she guided partly by her genuine concern for the defenseless victims of the conflict and partly by political forces that continued to exploit those concerns.

Unlike Rachel Corrie, who lost her life in Gaza serving a solidarity movement with terrorists and who consequently became a martyr for the anti-American cause, Marla Ruzicka was respected and mourned not only by the left but by supporters of the war who knew her, and even by members of the Bush administration and military whom she first harrangued and then petitioned and who ended up in a partially voluntary cooperation with her endeavors.

Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker interviewed UnderSecretary of Defense Douglas Feith in his library. Feith is famous as the man who Tommy Franks once called “the fucking stupidest guy on the face of the earth”, though current JCS Chief Peter Pace likes him. Pace said, “early on, he didn’t realize that the way he presented his positions, the way he was being perceived, put him in a bit of a hole. But he changed his ways.” You could see how Feith could rub Franks the wrong way. Feith asked the New Yorker correspondent if he had read "the McMahon-Hussein correspondence of 1916" as if that's what people did in their spare time. Feith probably does. It was probably his obsession with history that kept him from the seductions of the antiwar movement in his youth.

Feith formed his views as a teen-ager in the Philadelphia suburbs during the Vietnam War. “I had done a lot of reading, relative for a kid, about World War Two, and I thought about Chamberlain a lot,” he told me. “Chamberlain wasn’t popular in my house.” Feith’s father lost his parents, three brothers, and four sisters in German death camps. “What I was hearing from the antiwar movement, with which I had a fair amount of sympathy . . . were thoughts about how the world works, how war is not the answer. I mean, the idea that we could have peace no matter what anybody else in the world does didn’t make sense to me. It’s a solipsism. When I took all these nice-sounding ideas and compared it to my own little personal ‘Cogito, ergo sum,’ which was my understanding that my family got wiped out by Hitler, and that all this stuff about working things out—well, talking to Hitler to resolve the problem didn’t make any sense to me. The kind of people who put bumper stickers on their car that declare that ‘war is not the answer,’ are they making a serious comment? What’s the answer to Pearl Harbor? What’s the answer to the Holocaust?” He continued, “The surprising thing is not that there are so many Jews who are neocons but that there are so many who are not.”

For once, Henry Kissinger is stumped. In an interview with MSNBC Kissinger described why it is important to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Kissinger, like most men of his vintage, was steeped in the lore of Cold War deterrence, not just in its general principles, but in all the quasi-mathematical models, the game theoretics and mathematical calculations of choice which underlay it. He looked back almost wistfully at the Cold War as a time of relative certainties: "this was a two-power world" and recoiled in horror at the almost chaotic international situation of the present.

Now if you imagine a world of 30 nuclear powers, deterring each other by criteria, very hard to calculate, affecting us with their nuclear capabilities and the alignments they might cause. And the intentions they might generate from other observers of this situation. And if you add to it what we've already seen in the disposition of nuclear weapons by Pakistan, a friendly country. That, whose weapons in so-called private hands spread to Libya, North Korea, and we offer to Iran or we give them to Iran, then the possibilities of extreme action somewhere along the line, would rise.

Supposing a nuclear weapon went off anywhere in the world, New Delhi, New York, Europe, and 100,000 people got killed, not 3,000. The Trade Center was relatively tame. People got killed in one place. The civic structure of the city was barely affected. All hospitals were operating. All social services were intact. It was a terrible tragedy, but if much of a town is wiped out and all social services collapse, two things happen: one, the impact on that society. But impact on the consciousness of people everywhere. Even today families wonder what may happen to their children under conditions of terrorism. But not yet accurately. But supposing they have to think that they really might lose everything in one minute. Totally unpredictable. You will get new demands on international relations in my view, for which we're not prepared anywhere in any country and then you might get demands that these nuclear weapons have to be brought under some international control.

Which was Kissinger's roundabout way of saying that if war really broke out -- really broke out -- America might have to do something that few would like (what that might be was the subject of a very old Belmont Club post, The Three Conjectures) Kissinger hesitated on the brink of speculating what course of action lay at the end of a road in which first Iran and then others -- including 'so-called private hands' held nuclear weapons, and passed on the question. "I have no precise idea how to do all of this. ... So I’m more conscious of the problem than of the solution. I’m not saying I have a master plan for doing this."