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Obama and International Morals

Below is an interesting Obama response from the “unofficial transcript” of the Warren Church meeting between Obama and McCain. The emphasis is mine (and there’s not much I can do about the formatting outside of tediously changing every line, which I’m not going to do).

PASTOR RICK: WELCOME BACK TO THE SADDLEBACK CIVIL

6 FORUM ON THE PRESIDENCY. IN THIS LAST SESSION, I WANT US

7 TO TALK ABOUT AMERICA’S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE REST OF THE

8 WORLD. WE ARE THE MOST BLESSED NATION IN THE WORLD AND

9 WE’RE BLESSED TO BE A — BLESSING — REQUIRED SO LET’S

10 JUST GO DOWN SOME OF THOSE ISSUES, INTERNATIONAL ISSUES.

11 FIRST THING, LET’S JUST TALK ABOUT WAR. AS AN AMERICAN,

12 WHAT’S WORTH DYING FOR? WHAT’S WORTH HAVING SACRIFICE OF

13 AMERICAN LIVES FOR?

14 A WELL, OBVIOUSLY AMERICAN FREEDOM, AMERICAN LIVES,

15 AMERICA’S NATIONAL INTERESTS. YOU KNOW, I WAS JUST WITH

16 MY FAMILY ON VACATION IN HAWAII, VISITED THE PLACE WHERE

17 MY GRANDFATHER IS LAID TO REST, THE PUNCHBOWL NATIONAL

18 CEMETERY AND WENT OUT TO ARIZONA, OUT IN PEARL HARBOR AND

19 YOU KNOW YOU ARE REMINDED OF THE SACRIFICES THAT HAD BEEN

20 MADE ON BEHALF OF OUR FREEDOM AND I THINK THAT IS A SOLEMN

21 OBLIGATION THAT WE ALL HAVE. I THINK WE ALSO HAVE FORGED

22 ALLIANCES WITH COUNTRIES, NATO BEING A PRIME EXAMPLE WHERE

23 WE HAVE PLEDGED TO ACT MILITARILY FOR THE COMMON DEFENSE

24 THAT IS IN OUR NATIONAL INTEREST AND THAT IS SOMETHING I

25 THINK WE HAVE TO ABIDE BY.

1

1 Q WHAT WOULD BE THE CRITERIA THAT YOU WOULD COMMIT

2 TROOPS TO END THE GENOCIDE, FOR INSTANCE, LIKE WHAT’S

3 GOING ON IN DARFUR OR COULD HAPPEN IN GEORGIA OR ANYWHERE

4 ELSE, A MASS KILLING?

5 A I DON’T THINK THAT THERE IS A HARD AND FAST LINE

6 AT WHICH YOU SAY, OKAY, WE ARE GOING IN. I THINK IT IS

7 ALWAYS A JUDGMENT CALL. I THINK THAT THE BASIC PRINCIPLE

8 HAS TO BE THAT IF WE HAVE IT WITHIN OUR POWER TO PREVENT

9 MASS KILLING AND GENOCIDE AND WE CAN WORK IN CONCERT WITH

10 THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO PREVENT IT THEN WE SHOULD

11 ACT. NOW, WE HAVE TO DO SO — WE HAVE TO DO SO I THINK

12 THAT INTERNATIONAL COMPONENT IS VERY CRITICAL. WE’RE

13 NOT — WE MAY NOT GET 100 PERCENT AGREEMENT, BUT —

14 Q — GO TO THE WAR WITHOUT APPROVAL?

15 A YES, BUT I THINK YOU TAKE AN EXAMPLE LIKE BOSNIA

16 WHEN WE WENT IN AND UNDOUBTEDLY SAVED LIVES. WE DID NOT

17 HAVE YOU UN APPROVAL BUT THERE WAS A STRONG INTERNATIONAL

18 CASE THAT HAD BEEN MADE THAT ETHNIC CLEANSING WAS TAKING

19 PLACE. AND UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN WE HAVE, WITHIN

20 OUR POWER, WE SHOULD — YOU KNOW WE SHOULD TAKE ACTION.

It’s probably miraculous Obama would admit the United States is justified taking action, at all, without international approval. However, he still obviously holds international opinion quite high.

I have two problems with his position. Firstly, if an action is justified, such as preventing a genocide from occurring, what effect then does international opinion have? The “international community” sat on the sidelines during the Rwandan genocide and allowed hundreds of thousands of people to be murdered. Of what value can we obtain from the opinions of people who collectively failed to take just action in the face of terrible crimes against humanity?

It’s fallacy to look towards the collective opinions of the leaders of nations in ascertaining “agreement” for an action you believe justified. Sure, their agreement is nice, and their help would be a bonus, but to make decisions based on international popularity is a crippling requirement of action. Other nations have their own interests and motivations. Rwanda was sort of a sore spot for the Belgians and UN engagement there would have been an embarrassment.

Simply put, acting or not acting is a decision which needs to be based on the merits of the situation, not on the whims of whomever the Europeans happen to have put in office in any given year.

My other problem with his statement is it puts American interests into the hands of European leaders. A president needs to have the freedom to take actions necessary for the best interests of the American public regardless of international opinion. We can’t defer to other nations when there are national security concerns at stake in a given situation. To do so will be to cede American sovereignty to the world at large.

From the Notebook

-The Russian invasion of Georgia saddens me greatly. One of my teachers from middle school once told me of his trip to Georgia, and how the people there were always happy to celebrate any occasion, including introductions, with drink and fine food. My teacher suggested he spent a majority of his time there a little “too buzzed.” Georgia had troops in Iraq as well, and Georgia had opened itself up to the west; unfortunately, not in any way that will help them in the present conflict. (Fortunately, at time of publishing, the Russians have said they will cease hostilities.)

-The longer I live and the more movies I see, the less I tolerate crap like “Mr. Woodcock.”

-Picked up the new Stargate direct-to-DVD movie “Continuum” for my brother, and I decided to watch it to pass the time. Well, okay, I’ll admit to watching the occasional episode of Stargate and actually being somewhat interested in the movie. If you’re in to Stargate, you’ve already purchased and seen this movie a half dozen times. It is the last Stargate appearance for the late Don S. Davis and is probably the last time we’ll see Richard Dean Anderson as General Jack O’Neill. It is also pretty good science fiction, much better than the first Stargate movie (starring Kurt Russell). If you’re not a sci-fi person, it’s still funny and smart but can’t be considered a great film.

-Some Burger Tour news, the Napa Valley Grill has officially bumped the Twin City Grill off the tour. Both restaurants were located in the Mall of America. The Citizen Grill knocked off the 5-8 Club while the Town Talk Diner has pushed Adrian’s off the list. Harry’s and The Black Forest Inn are being weighed against some of the other spots on the tour so there might be other changes coming. I’ll begin editing the 2nd edition sometime after the RNC.

-I have yet to receive any confirmation I’ve passed the background check, so there’s no guarantee I’ll be at the RNC just yet. In any case, I’ve already made arrangements for the convention and gotten the time off work, so I’m stuck going one way or the other. So, if I won’t be in the convention, hopefully I’ll be outside getting tear gassed in the midst of the protests.

-Last week I came to the shocking realization I would vote for Paris Hilton before I voted for Barack Obama. It got me thinking, there exists a real possibility my candidate, who is nearing the end of his generation’s mean life expectancy, could die (of natural causes Secret Service) anytime before the election. Who would I cast my ballot for in case of tragedy? I don’t even know what the election laws are regarding the death of a presidential candidate. I would consider writing in Fred Thompson or Mike Huckabee, maybe the Veep candidate (unless it’s a Democrat). I might even vote Bob Barr. In the end though, I would probably just write in Ted Nugent.

-I thought the DailyLit.Com idea of reading books in five minute chunks through the email was great…Until my internet went out (now in its 5th week) and reading emailed Nietzsche became a low priority with my limited online time. Now I’m three weeks behind in the emails and not too terribly interested in spending hours reading anything off my computer screen.

Appeasement

Conservatives have long struggled to balance our general attitudes opposing foreign entanglement with our knowledge of what evil is capable of. A good historical example comes from our friends across the pond. Few Americans know this (at least the ones I spend time talking to), but Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill were both conservatives. Churchill had this to say about Chamberlain after his death in 1940:

It fell to Neville Chamberlain in one of the supreme crises of the world to be contradicted by events, to be disappointed in his hopes, and to be deceived and cheated by a wicked man. But what were these hopes in which he was disappointed? What were these wishes in which he was frustrated? What was that faith that was abused? They were surely among the most noble and benevolent instincts of the human heart-the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace, even at great peril, and certainly to the utter disdain of popularity or clamour. Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

Conservatism is at its heart pragmatic. If war can be avoided by words, great. Historically, it rarely is. Another bit of historical pragmatism conservatives carry is the fact a toothless diplomacy is just a dog and pony show. To make a difference there needs to be a real threat of force, else you might as well save your breath. Diplomacy is not as simple as erudition.

Naivete is dangerous when it comes to dealing with the world. A lack of seriousness regarding Islamic fundamentalism ended in disaster (of all our stupid failings, 9-11 ranks high. The WTC was attacked previously and our inability to notice the growing threat ranks high on the list of “bleep we should have taken more seriously”). Americans are relatively secure even considering terrorism, but abroad millions of people are at risk, everyday.

So, when I watched President Bush speak to the Knesset (only after hearing Hillary, Pelosi and Obama complain about the remarks) I was dumbstruck by how utterly absurd the criticisms regarding the speech were.

I have a hard time believing Obama (or Hillary) (or Democrats as a whole) take the threats in the world at-large seriously. I can only hope beneath the pretty words and trusting tones is the heart and soul of a skeptic.

Afghanistan Poll

ABC/BBC/et al

Summarizing: The people of Afghanistan are still optimistic, they still believe the overthrow of the Taliban was a good thing, they have a positive view of the US troop presence in their country though they are disappointed in their recent performance and most see the reconstruction of their country as progressing effectively. Differences in attitudes are dependant on the region; people closer to the violence are more pessimistic.

Optimism is necessary here, the Afghanistan people are still progressing but the reconstruction can’t be allowed to stall. Failure will result in civil war. So far this is only a “bump” in the road. For the sake of the Afghan people I hope the bump is a one time deal.

Non-PDF

From Questionable Judgment to Incompetence

The Peace Prize Committee has awarded the peace prize to former vice-president and climate change activist Al Gore for “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”. How climate change has anything to do with “work for fraternity between the nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” I have no idea.

Certainly I believe the committee has practiced questionable judgment in the past, Arafat has no business being a Nobel laureate (at least he’s now dead), but never has the award strayed so far from issues of peace and fraternity between nations. Global Warming has nothing to do with the award. I’ve read the defense the committee has given for its choice, that global warming could create wars if left unchecked, it’s just a real stretch. If the committee is going to give out awards for educating people about potentially preventing stuff that might prevent stuff that might prevent something which could create conflict the award becomes ever more meaningless.

No longer will actions have meaning. Only those who create compelling fantasies about future strife and promote it with a movie will have a chance at winning the award. The nominations of this award won’t be known for fifty years but there are some people who are publicly known to have been nominated. Included among them are some truly deserving of recognition:

Irena Sendler, a Polish woman who is responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews during the holocaust at great risk of her own life. She was tortured by the Gestapo and sentenced to death until a well timed bribe (and really, is there any other kind of bribe?) saved her life.

Stephen Lewis, another person who actually did something, he helped raise awareness of the AIDs pandemic in Africa. While I’m not sure helping prevent the spread of a terrible disease is all that close to international fraternity, it’s a much stronger case than Al Gore had. (Lewis was trying to help real people from death)

Oprah Winfrey, yes, even Oprah has a stronger case for the peace prize. She has meant more to more people than Gore ever will. She is responsible for helping thousands of people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, she has put hundreds of people through college and she has helped raise 51 million dollars for non-profit charities across the globe.

Over 100 people were nominated for the prize this year and I have to believe a majority of them had a better case for the peace prize than Al Gore. The committee hasn’t shown questionable judgment this year, they’ve been incompetent.

Awesome!

I think it’s a picture mutant squids fighting giant potatoes. From what I’ve heard it’s from 3 or 4 hundred years ago.

Mind and Media Review

Global Deception
Joseph Klein

The United Nations is one of those “feel good” ideas which in their own way become a religion. Woodrow Wilson was fanatical in his belief in creating a place where all the people of the world could meet and talk their problems out without war. For Wilson it was the League of Nations, for thousands of modern utopians it is the United Nations. Joseph Klein takes a hard look at the UN through the eyes of a former idealist in his book “Global Deception”

Klein isn’t a conspiracy theorist. There is no talk of black helicopters in his book. Everything is well cited, there are lots of examples, and a clear picture of the UN threat to American sovereignty. Much like the increase of government regulation and spending in the United States, so to does the UN grow in power. Any organization will grow if successful; the same is true of the UN.

In one sense, it’s important to understand what is going on. The ability of the people of the United States to move public policy is much stronger than the cynic would allow. An electorate which knows to elect people to office who will defend against any encroachment on the sovereignty of the United States, whether it be in the form of a world court or any attempts at a world tax (neither of which are far fetched).

The book is a bit of a bore. Non-fiction is the most difficult of all writing to make entertaining, and Klein doesn’t even try. In this fashion, talk of blue helmet conspiracies and UFO abductions might have made this work more fun to read. The book is loaded with ammunition for the anti-UN blogger, and that makes it valuable enough though.

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?

-Charles de Gualle

How indeed…

Still on a post-Olympic graphing high

I updated the numbers on the medal count versus GDP per capita (with the finalised medal count I didn’t have when I did my first post), ran the numbers and found Per Capita GDP is correlated to Olympic success at a .524 clip:

I also decided to try out the numbers for just gold medals, and the correlation plummets down to .255:

So, money will get you medals, but first place can’t be “bought.”

Well I think it’s cool…