Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Doomed to repeat it?

The West may be on the verge of repeating one of the greatest blunders of history. Let us look at the similarities between Al Qaeda and the Nazis:

1. Before 1938, Hitler had set forth his plans for Europe. (Mein Kampf) Hitler openly said that he wanted to defeat France then turn on Russia to get living space for the German people.

1. Al Qaeda has set forth its plans too. (letter from Zarqawi to Al Qaeda) (Letter from Zawahiri to Zarqawi). In these letters, Al Qaeda discusses its plans -- to slaughter innocent Shiites in order to get the US to leave Iraq; and Zawahiri's plan, after the US is kicked out of Iraq, to establish a government there and, once that government is strong enough, to use it to create a "Jihad wave" in neighboring countries.

2. Before, 1938, the Nazis' murderous nature was already perfectly clear. (Night of the Long Knives; Kristallnacht)

2. Today, Al Qaeda's murderous nature is also well established (September 11; slaughter of 500 Yazidis by truck bomb; Africa embassy bombings)

3. In 1938, Hitler promised peace if he could only have part of Czechoslovakia. (at 3:30-3:50 in the video).

3. In 2006. Osama bin Laden promised a long-term truce if the US will only pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and leave them under the control of Al Qaeda.

4. In 1938, the leader of the free world was Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain was a pacifist. His convictions were deep and sincere -- he was even working on a book entitled "the struggle for peace"

4. In 2008, the leader of the free world is George W. Bush. He is not a pacifist. But Barack Obama has a good chance of becoming the next leader of the free world. He is a pacifist. And his plans for handling foreign policy bear an eerie resemblance to Chamberlain's.

5. In 1938, Chamberlain met with Hitler in an effort to solve Europe's problems.

5. Obama has said that if he is elected, he will meet, without preconditions, with the leaders of Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea.

6. In 1938, Chamberlain's solution was to give Hitler control of part of Czechoslovakia in return for a promise of peace.

6. Today, Obama promises that if elected, he will pull US troops out of Iraq. This is exactly what Osama Bin Laden wants and was one of his preconditions for a "long term truce". Obama does also say that he will maintain some troops in the region for "targeted strikes" on Al Qaeda (in case Al Qaeda follows its stated plan of setting up a base in Iraq after US withdrawal). However, the realism of this approach is highly questionable. With lots of US troops in Iraq, the locals can feel confident in fighting against Al Qaeda. A few US troops at a far-away base would not inspire the same confidence.

In 1938, at Munich, the free world surrendered part of Czechoslovakia to Hitler in return for a false promise of peace. At the time, the decision was widely popular.

Today, there is a dangerous possibility that the US will surrender in Iraq, leaving the way open for Al Qaeda to take control of much or all of the country. This would be done in the false hope that it would bring peace. If the US does this, the decision will be widely popular.

Are we doomed to repeat history?

The sheer stupidity of the Democrats on free trade

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have lately been arguing over who is more anti-NAFTA. The argument is two-fold: NAFTA allegedly costs Americans jobs. Additionally, both have said they think the US should have gotten a "better deal" from Canada and Mexico.

Here is what Obama had to say:

We don't want to set off trade wars. What we want to make sure of is that our farmers are treated fairly,’ Obama said. ‘The problem in a lot of our trade agreements is that the administration tends to negotiate on behalf of multinational companies instead of workers and communities.

And Hillary:

Time-out for Trade. • Hillary has called for a trade "time out" from new trade agreements as President, and she will not enter into new trade agreements until her Administration has reviewed all existing agreements and designed a genuinely pro-American, pro-worker trade policy that is appropriate for the 21st Century.

Have they forgotten the central lesson of modern history? Freedom works. Open societies, with free trade, have prospered. Closed societies, with closed markets, have stagnated.

One of the great and enduring strengths of the United States has been its large and free domestic market. This freedom is enshrined in the Constitution:

The Congress shall have power . . . To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states . . .

Without this clause, it would be possible for Oregon to enact a law against software products from the state of Washington (Sorry, Microsoft). Or for Nevada to tax the importation of movies from California (Good-bye, Hollywood). Or for New Jersey to forbid the use of financial services from New York (So long, New York Stock Exchange). And so on.

It's not just the United States. Emerging from the devestation of the Second World War, Europe has made repeated moves towards free trade. It started with the European Coal and Steel Community, which protected free trade in coal and steel among West Germany, France, Italy, and the Benelux countries. From that humble beginning has grown the European Community, which promotes the free movement of people, goods, and services among 27 European countries. Ireland and Spain were

In the modern era, Singapore, China, and South Korea have all prospered through free trade. And all did so even before opening up their political systems.

Unfree economic policies have been tried. For example, in 1930, the United States ignored warnings from over 1,000 economists and enacted the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff Act, which was intended to protect American jobs by raising tariffs on 20,000 different imported goods to record levels. Other countries retaliated by raising their tariffs. Economists generally agree that this worsened the Great Depression.

Today, Germany and France, while enjoying political freedom and free trade, have generally unfree labor markets; for example, it can be difficult to fire workers. (German regulations are summarized here; French ones are described in numerous news articles; please let me know if you can find a more direct source.) Unsurprisingly, France and Germany also have two of the worst unemployment rates in Europe -- generally running around 8-9%.

On the central economic issue of our time, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both just plain wrong.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New York Times does it again

Once again, the New York Times publishes a highly questionable story, insinuating sexual improprieties by someone whose interests are aligned with its political opponents. For those who remember its coverage of the Duke Lacrosse case, this comes as no surprise.

This is further confirmation that the New York Times simply cannot be trusted.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Why I voted for Hillary Clinton today

Barack Obama, who has a sincere desire for peace, believes that peace can be attained if the world's leading English-speaking power surrenders a foreign nation to an irredeemably and unrelentingly evil enemy who promises peace if we only give him what he wants.

This has been tried before.

McCain will not surrender. Hillary, if you listen to her carefully, probably won't, either. Obama will.