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Saturday, December 15, 2007


There is also a thoughtful & disturbing speech from Newt Gingrich on the problem of Islamism.

Then you look at Afghanistan. Here's a country that's small, poor, isolated, and in six years we have not been able to build roads, create economic opportunity, wean people off of growing drugs. A third of the GDP is from drugs. We haven't been able to end the sanctuary for the Taliban in Pakistan. And I know of no case historically where you defeat a guerrilla movement if it has a sanctuary. So the people who rely on the West are out-bribed by the criminals, outgunned by the criminals, and faced with a militant force across the border which practiced earlier defeating the Soviet empire and which has a time horizon of three or four generations. NATO has a time horizon of each quarter or at best a year, facing an opponent whose time horizon is literally three or four generations. It's a total mismatch....

And let's be honest: What's the primary source of money for al Qaeda? It's you, re-circulated through Saudi Arabia. Because we have no national energy strategy, when clearly if you really cared about liberating the United States from the Middle East and if you really cared about the survival of Israel, one of your highest goals would be to move to a hydrogen economy and to eliminate petroleum as a primary source of energy.

He makes the comparison with 1930s appeasement. Now I don't think these people are a real threat to the west, I think China is the one likely to displace us (& to deserve to if we give way to Ludditism & they don't). However my position bears a comparison here with the 1930s appeasement too. A major reason Britain & France were unwilling to oppose Hitler was that they saw Soviet economic progress & thought that if we wasted our economic resources on Hitler the Soviets would be the wave of the future.

While I don't think al Quaida are a threat to equal Hitler he makes a good point

We had better take this seriously because we are not very many mistakes away from a second Holocaust. Three nuclear weapons is a second Holocaust. Our enemies would like to get those weapons as soon as they can, and they promise to use them as soon as they can.
As a bit of a non-sequiter he says something I didn't know about the Cold War which I didn't know.
Part of the war we waged on the Soviet Union involved their natural gas supply because we wanted to cut off their hard currency. The Soviets were desperate to get better equipment for their pipeline. We managed to sell them through third parties very, very sophisticated American pipeline equipment, which they were thrilled to buy and thought they had pulled off a huge coup. Now we weren't playing fair. We did not tell them that the equipment was designed to blow up. One day in 1982, there was an explosion in Siberia so large that the initial reflection on the satellites looked like there was a tactical nuclear weapon. One part of the White House was genuinely worried, and the other part of the White House had to calm them down. They said, "No, no, that's our equipment blowing up."
I like to think we won that war because free enterprise works better & indeed the fact that the Russians needed to buy US equipment tends to confirm that. Still I would have preferred them not to have played dirty. I have also heard that British intelligence got the opportunity to sell similarly dangerous detonaters to the IRA & decided the risk of collateral innocnet damage would be to much. I have less sympathy for al Quaeda or even the IRA than for the Soviets who tried to build something constructive.

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