NEWSWEEK POLL: First Presidential Debate

NewsWeek Poll:

One wonders why these polls are all over the place. The ABCNews and Gallup Polls showed little change in voter sentiment, and the Gallup poll in particular showed Bush more favored than Kerry on certain key issues (e.g., likeability). The NewsWeek poll shows a major movement, and Kerry favored on many of the same things that Gallup said Bush was favored for.

Why might that be? Well, here's their sample:

1,013 Total Registered voters (plus or minus 4)

481 Men (plus or minus 5)
532 Women (plus or minus 5)

345 Republicans (plus or minus 6)
364 Democrats (plus or minus 6)
278 Independents (plus or minus 7)

770 Debate viewers (those who say they watched at least some of the
debate) (plus or minus 4.1)

369 Men (plus or minus 6)
401 Women (plus or minus 6)

265 Republicans (plus or minus 7)
274 Democrats (plus or minus 7)
215 Independents (plus or minus 8)
Newsweek has been oversampling Republicans for a month, since the convention -- you've all heard the complaints. This time, they ran a poll that oversampled Democrats, and (especially in the registered voters section) women, who are far more likely to be Kerry supporters than men (women are evenly split, that is, whereas Bush is heavily favored by men).

Just chance that the samples shifted right after the debate, which Kerry's allies have been touting as his big chance for movement? Well, we all know that the media isn't biased towards Kerry -- and certainly not NewsWeek.

Transterrestrial Musings

"The Global Test"

Well, it's good that someone's located it. It proves to be a test you can take online!

Hat tip: The Sage. - US commander praises Iraqi fighters

Batiste On Samarra:

The Major General speaks, along with his Iraqi counterpart:

Batiste also tells CNN he's been pleased with the performance of Iraqi troops there.

The Iraqi forces have done poorly in past battles, but Batiste says they're getting better training and equipment. And he says they handled themselves well in Samarra.

Iraq's defense minister says the fighting is largely over -- and that Iraqi troops handled the bulk of the two-day offensive, and U-S troops only provided cover.

Right Thinking from the Left Coast

The Poles:

Oh, my:

What is more important than the article is the responses at the bottom of the page. The responders are really pissed and feel if Kerry is elected they MUST pull their troops out. There is a very angry energy over the fact that their soldiers have not only been killed but some are MIA and they want some closure.
This is translated from the comments section of a Polish news site, Diplomacy works, eh?

Belmont Club


Don't miss the Belmont Club's analysis of the Samarra situation, especially the performance of the 36th Iraqi Commando battalion. It is the masterpiece of the new Iraqi Army, trained to special-ops standards by the US military.

This is not its first engagement, but it was a high-profile assignment of a type that would have been inflammatory if the US had undertaken it: capture of a mosque held by insurgents. Their success means that Coalition forces can now deny what has until now been a tactical advantage to Islamist insurgents. In Najaf, the insurgents didn't even bother to sandbag their mortar positions inside the Shrine of Ali, being so confident that America would not fire back. That confidence and security is no longer operative.

That is to say, the rebuilding of the Muslim world has passed a milestone. There is now a Muslim state capable of joint-force operations with the US Army, which also has the will to engage Islamists in mosques. Even six months ago, the Iraqi Army could not be used in that capacity, partially due to incomplete training, but also due to the lack of will. The Iraqi Governing Council was gutless, but there was a lack of will at the lower levels too. Newly-minted soldiers assigned to support US operations would sometimes desert, to avoid having to fight "their Muslim brothers."

No more. Six months on, the insurgents have so enraged the Iraqi army that all claims of Muslim brotherhood are broken. Insurgents are now the enemy; the US is an ally; and we are together clearing the streets of Samarra.

Poodle Ad

Er, What?

You may perhaps have heard of the NRA's new Poodle Ad, wherein John Kerry is portrayed as a toy French Poodle with a pink bow (the text of the ad says, "That dog don't hunt," so therefore a toy rather than a sporting breed of dog is used).

Some of the ad text is damning indeed, given Kerry's frequent attempts to portray himself as pro-hunting: Kerry voted to outlaw most ammunition used by deer hunters, for example. There is a larger assembly of Kerry's anti-hunting voting record here.

But I'm really curious about this part:

"'s no wonder John Kerry has been called a "hero" by the Humane Society of the United States, an extremist group that wants to outlaw hunting in America."


The Human Society is an extremist group?

Now, it is true that the Humane Society is completely opposed to hunting. That is certainly an extremist position.

Nevertheless, surely the good works of the Humane Society should protect it from being called an "extremist group." It is a group of kind hearted people who do largely worthy things. They are entirely mistaken and misguided on this one question. It is a serious matter, as part of any donation to the Humane Society goes to lobby against hunting rights. It is bad for us, as they lobby against our ancient rights. It is also bad for them, as it cuts out a large number of people who would otherwise be their friends and supporters. Their position makes it impossible for many of us who love animals to support their other work, because we can't afford also to support their constant anti-hunter lobbying.

Still, holding one extreme position among many positions is not the same as being an extremist. I can't imagine that the NRA stands to gain anything by the charaterization. Most people know the Humane Society from its work with domestic animals; very few know of its anti-hunting work. It's useful to explain why you oppose the Humane Society, but it would be wise to recognize that most people have a very favorable impression of them -- an impression that, by and large, is deserved. We must defeat the Humane Society's lobbyists on occasion, but we have no reason to wish to defeat the Humane Society.

It is possible to disagree, even to the point at which no compromise is possible, while remaining friends. Between people of good will, that should be the standard.


A New War Which Not All of the West Will Survive:

This article from the London Spectator may be the most brilliant thing I've read in a year. Every time you think you've discovered the theme of the piece, another is raised; and yet, in the end, they all work together perfectly. It intends to explain America to Englishmen, but it is a fine explanation of America for Americans.

Unsurprisingly, the author's name is Mark Steyn.

Southern Gentleman, Marine, Germanic Tribalist -- A Different Point of View

John Kerry: The Candidate for ALL Americans

So says this audio file. It's a compelling argument. Thanks to Bjorn Patsson for pointing it out.

Citizen Smash - The Indepundit

Two Opinions:

Two opinions counter to my own, on Tora Bora. The first is from Citizen Smash, formerly LT Smash. The second is from my favorite blogging SEAL:

As to the Tora Bora issue, Kerry said that we "outsourced" the job and therefore missed an opportunity to kill UBL. Tell that to the SF A-Teams that had infiltrated Afghanistan, trained and led the Northern Alliance into battle within a month of 9/11. The Unconventional Warfare operation conducted by the Army in Afghanistan will serve as a textbook example of how to conduct UW ops into perpetuity. Tell that to the CCT guys that were dumping air on Tora Bora, stacking up CAS 10 layers deep. Tell that to the SEALs who spent 9 days searching the caves for signs of UBL and finding only fingernails and tooth chips left from the bombing. Wrong answer, bitch!
That's stronger language than we usually employ at Grim's Hall, but any SEAL has earned the right to say what he thinks. So, consider that two solid votes against my expressed opinion that the CIA shouldn't have been allowed to meddle in an SAS/Delta operation.

Global Test

Yeah, He's Had It:

OK, I've watched the debate now. I was wrong. The part where Kerry says that we 'have to pass... the global test'? It's a killer. If the Republicans don't hang him with it, it won't be anyone's fault but their own.

iowahawk: Classic TV Scripts: �Johnny Nuance�

I Bow:

I'm not really given to satire or parody as forms of humor. Nevetheless, I have to admit that Iowahawk has written a masterpiece. He obviously knows a great deal about 1950s Westerns, as well as about the particulars of the Kerry campaign.

The Command Post - Global War On Terror - Australia's Army Wearing Out

Oz Wears Out:

The Command Post today has the story of friction wearing out the Australian Army:

A total of 10,633 injuries, and two deaths, were reported for Australia's 52,000-strong defence force in 2002-03. There were also 889 incidents where ADF personnel needed immediate medical attention, hospitalisation or were off work for more than 30 days. There were also 2307 incidents recorded as "near misses" that "could have but did not result in a fatality, incapacity or serious personal injury".

Defence sources have told The Australian that deployments to places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Solomon Islands was only part of the reason for the high attrition rates.

Motorcycle and vehicle accidents, stress disorders over prolonged deployments, injuries playing contact sports and during heavy endurance training had also taken their toll. […] Sources also suggested that the real injury toll may be much higher because soldiers were "stoic", and tended to hide niggling injuries, particularly in special forces units.

The Armed Forces Federation, which represents ADF members, said last night the higher injury toll was a symptom of the force being both "overworked and undermanned". "People are being broken by higher fitness standards and the higher operational tempo generally. And they are just not able to get the rest in between deployments," federation chief industrial officer Graham Howatt said.
Emphasis added. I want to draw attention to those two points because they are clarifying.

You can see at the website for the Ministry of Defence that Australia deploys only about 2,000 troops outside of its borders -- and that includes the East Timor assignment, which is a fairly short cruise by warship. Note that the usual deployment of combatant forces is of roughly battalion size: that is, at the size the US military considers the smallest self-supporting unit. Other deployments are largely symbolic; the Australian commitment to Afghanistan, which has at times been far larger, is currently limited to one soldier: a landmine specialist.

Some of this is just military griping -- "People are being broken by higher fitness standards." But there is a real limitation that they are starting to rub against. Australia can't do more than it is doing -- and it can't maintain current levels of activity in any deployment without cutting back in other areas (as they have done already in Afghanistan), or increasing spending to make some of their 50,000 non-deployable forces into expeditionary forces.

That can be done, if there is the will: the United States went from having almost no army at all, to sending 500,000 men to Europe in the year 1917. There is nothing I've seen coming out of the Australian election, however, to suggest that such a will exists. | Politics

OK, One Last Point:

What about this?

Unfortunately, he escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had him surrounded. But we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill him. The president relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too. That's wrong.
Who was leading the charge to capture Bin Laden? It was not Afghans. It was the British SAS. And not without American support -- support, indeed, of the first water.
The SAS was fighting alongside Delta Force, the US army's special forces, and though the Brits did not think that the Yanks were quite their equal, our men were impressed by their men. Delta Force is not the same as the SAS. Much larger, its nearest British equivalent would be the SAS, merged with 3 (commando) brigade and 16 (air assault) brigade. As a result of Afghanistan, there are now pressures in the Pentagon to create an inner-core special force on British lines. Donald Rumsfeld's enthusiasm for the SAS goes beyond tributes at press conferences; he wants one of his own.
Handing the SAS the responsibility for this is the farthest thing from irresponsible. They are, I think it does no disservice to our soldiers to say, among the very best in the world.

Yet, allowing for the fact that Kerry has misrepresented the situation, there is an honest complaint to be made here. Once it had trapped Bin Laden, the military was indeed set aside in favor of CIA operations.
There followed hours of fiffing and faffing, while gold coins were helicoptered in, to encourage the Northern Alliance. The USA is the greatest military power in the history of the planet, spending well over $300 billion a year on defence, yet everything was paralysed because it would not allow its fighting men to fight.
It's hard to say that Kerry has a point, since he has run entirely on the platform of outsourcing all operations: "sharing the burden," as he likes to call it. Still, I sympathize with the fighting forces. They should have been allowed their kill. They were ready to pay any cost.


The Debate:

Grim's Hall does not receive television, and is lagged up. I will have to watch the debate tomorrow, though I have had a chance to see the transcript and various blog reactions (Instapundit and Allah have links to quite a few of those, both left and right).

My impression, having read a bunch of these, is that only the hardcore on either side think their boy won the day. Indeed, being ready to say "My candidate won," appears to be the very definition of a blinkered, blinders-wearing partisan (except for Kaus, whose claim to be a Kerry supporter is purely rhetorical). The consensus among bloggers is that it was a draw, with no movement to be expected on either side.

The main complaint against Kerry seems to be that he was too defensive ("I have a single plan for Iraq!" Sure, whatever: nice manicure, by the way); the main complaint against Bush seems to be that he didn't attack ("Every time Kerry opened his mouth, conservatives thought of the eight different responses and attacks that they wanted to see, and Bush mostly didn't use them." That's because the campaigns stuck to scripted responses to likely questions, focus-group tested to be sure they wouldn't offend.)

Having read the transcript, I have to say that's not surprising. I usually prefer to read speeches instead of hearing them, as it makes it easier to focus on the merits of what's being said rather than the merits of how it's being said. The transcript demonstrates that Bush was his usual self, clear about what he means in spite of his halting and having to rethink mid-sentence. Kerry's sentences were more polished, which is what everyone expects. In other words, the candidates appear to have played to type. There were few surprises, and I doubt many minds will be changed.

Still, there is some surprise being registered in the blogosphere. Out of kindness to the bloggers involved, I won't link to their posts because I'm going to be a little blunt, and I don't want anyone feeling singled-out.

Some are expressing shock that Kerry advocated giving nuclear fuel to Iran as a way of stopping their bomb program. These people haven't been listening, as Kerry's been saying that all summer. (Indeed, it was the core of the Clinton plan to stop North Korea's nuclear program, and it's likely to be just as successful). The plan is foolish in the extreme, but it isn't new.

Similarly, some have said that Kerry's idea of a "global test" was shocking. I'm not sure why that would be ("decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them..."), but again, it's not new. If you're overwhelmed by the idea that Kerry is an internationalist, who believes that the US should act in accord with the international consensus as to what is right-action, you've not been paying attention.

The difference lies between those who feel that "declaring the causes" is enough, and those who feel that they must convince people of the rightness of the cause. Kerry is, and has always been, in the latter camp.

Overall, though, there is nothing in the transcript that should move a single vote already assigned. For those who have not been watching the campaign, it was a clear presentation of the kind of man each candidate is, and his stance on the issues of the day.

For that, at least, both men deserve a measure of praise. News - Latest News - No Knock-Out Punch in Bush-Kerry Head-to-Head

The Final Word:

From the Scotsman, which is as famously sober as its namesake is not:

No Knock-Out Punch in Bush-Kerry Head-to-Head

George Bush and John Kerry locked horns on live television today in the first face-to-face debate of the presidential election campaign.

The President and his Democratic challenger set out their different strategies on how to prevail in Iraq and win the war on terrorism.

But neither managed to deliver a knock-out punch during the 90-minute war of words at Miami University in Florida.
Yeah, that seems about right to me. Of course, as I said, I have only read the arguments -- maybe something in the video will change my mind. See you tomorrow.

OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today

That's Gotta Be A Mistranslation:

From the Best of the Web:

The head of the Figaro press group went to see him about the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq; Raffarin assured him they would soon be freed, reportedly saying, 'The Iraqi insurgents are our best allies.'
That's French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin being interviewed. Even I can't believe he meant to say that the way it ended up in the US press. I pulled up Le Figaro and read through several recent articles on the hostages, and didn't find anything quite like that, so I wonder what the quote really was.


Debate Feed:

I've added to the right sidebar a debate feed. It's being run by Blogs for Bush, I gather; at any rate, they're the ones who asked me to put it there. I believe the notion is to give them a platform to highlight things about the debate they'd like you to know.

It's temporary -- I'll take it down after the debates, and perhaps after the first debate, depending on reader comments. Let me know if you like it or hate it. If it's useful to you, and doesn't slow down the site too much, I may leave it up through the other two debates as well.

John Derbyshire's September Diary on National Review Online

No-Go Areas... in France:

John Derbyshire points this out today:

In Le Figaro daily dated Feb 1, 2002, Lucienne Bui Trong, a criminologist working for the French government's Renseignements Generaux (General Intelligence -- a mix of FBI and secret service), complains that the survey system she had created for accurately denumbering the Muslim no-go zones was dismantled by the government. She wrote: 'From 106 hot points in 1991, we went to 818 sensitive areas in 1999. That's for the whole country. These data were not politically correct.' Since she comes from a Vietnamese background, Ms. Bui Trong cannot be suspected of racism, of course, otherwise she wouldn't have been able to start this survey in the first place.

The term she uses, 'sensitive area,' is the PC euphemism for these places where anything representing a Western institution (post office truck, firemen, even mail order delivery firms, and of course cops) is routinely ambushed with Molotov cocktails, and where war weapons imported from the Muslim part of Yugoslavia are routinely found.
The number 818 is from 2002. I'd go out on a limb and venture that it hasn't decreased in two years.
Mr. Derbyshire has several other interesting observations in this month's diary. Be sure to skip down to the one on British childhood games, even if you don't read the others.

My Way News


The heart of the insurgency may be al-Anbar, but the real fighting is for Baghdad. The city is an important symbol, in much the same way that control of Paris symbolizes control of France.

Insurgents cannot hope to control Baghdad, so they try to show that the Iraqi government can't control it either. Today's attack at a sewage treatment plant did nothing to disrupt the function of the plant, but that is cold comfort to the families of thirty five children killed by car bombs.

The insurgents can't afford photographs of American soldiers passing out candy to smiling children, but the only way they can stop it is with photographs of American soldiers caring for children ripped open by the insurgents' bombs, and US helicopters rushing them to the hospital. This is the fullness of their power: they can kill children to protest that the US is cleaning up Baghdad's sewage.

One would think the monstrosity of these attacks would speak for itself, but it does not. The AP report shows only too clearly the moral blindness afflicting so many:

The day of violence across Iraq, including insurgent attacks and U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah, left a total of 46 people dead and 208 wounded.
There we are then: the insurgents and the United States are equally the enemies of peaceful Iraqis. An insurgent attack on a sewage treatment plant designed to slaughter unarmed people en masse ought, of course, to be lumped in with an airstrike on a terrorist safehouse that was packed so full of ordinance that secondary explosions continued for hours.

Naturally. :: Kerry's Flip Flop Olympics

At Least It Ain't Windsurfing:

"The John Kerry Flip-Flop Olympics!" This one gets a little hard around Round Four, when they get to the Iraq positions. Stick it out, though, for a chance to see your score evaluated by surprise last-round judges.

Trading in Rumor:

The Sage of Knoxville is irritated:

Best bit, from producer Linda Karas: "The truth of the e-mails were absolutely irrelevant to the piece, because all the story said was that people were worried. It’s a story about human beings that are afraid of the draft. We did not say that this (e-mail) was true, it’s just circulating. We are not verifying the e-mail."

And people accuse bloggers of trading in rumor?
That's hardly the worst example from this week. Compare to the Washington Post's "CIA Pessmistic on Iraq." Who speaks for the CIA? Why, 'one former intelligence officer who maintains contact...'

Later, another unnamed source is allowed to speak for the CIA, the State Department and the military, saying that all of them are opposed to Bush. Really? CDRUSCENTCOM Abazaid didn't seem to be.

But of course, he was on the record. The front page news was the article about the rumors.

Belmont Club

So What About the Numbers?

The Belmont Club looks at the New York Times' recent article on the insurgency, which asserts that attacks are growing in frequency and are not confined to the Sunni Triangle and Baghdad.

Their numbers do say that's true, says Wretchard... but then compiles a table from the Times' own numbers that show that 88% of the attacks cited were confined in just that way. Of Iraq's 18 provinces, six (the Sunni Triangle area) comprise that 88%. Rounding the numbers for clarity, that is to say that nearly 90% of attacks are happening in just one third of Iraq.

Another six provinces -- a third of Iraq -- have attack frequencies below one attack per one hundred thousand people. Two more have attack frequencies under two per one hundred thousand people; the remainder, under ten per one hundred thousand people. One-third of Iraq is quite hot; two-thirds of Iraq are basically secure, although terrorists do manage to set off the occasional grenade or stage the occasional kidnapping.

Wretchard concludes:

So everything checks out just as the New York Times article reported it. All the facts are individually true, but Prime Minister Allawie's assertion that most provinces are "completely safe" and that security prospects are bright are also supported by those same facts. Such is the fog of war.
Let me add this: the Times is participating in mythologizing of the guerrillas. Creating a mythology of strength and prowess is always a central aim in any insurgency:
The guerrilla relies in very large part on the fog of war to present an illusion of power. Orwell wrote that, "Power-worship blurs political judgment because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue." The guerrilla desperately needs people to believe in his power, and that his strength will grow forever, that his success is inevitable.
In three of the provinces -- a sixth of Iraq -- the guerrillas only managed either one or two attacks of any kind in the last month, despite the advantages that go with being a guerrilla: the ability to choose the place and time of any attack, and the ability to target unarmed civilians and still call it a "victory." That means you can pick a time and a place when neither soldiers or policemen are around, and resistance to you will be nonexistent. Even so, there are provinces where these guerrillas the Times paints as all-powerful managed only one attack in a month.

By saying that this means that 'not a single province was unaffected,' the Times is not saying something untrue; technically a single attack is an effect. But by painting those provinces with the same brush as it does al Anbar province, it gives the guerrillas the illusion of a far greater power than they possess.

The Times, in other words, is playing the enemy's game. One can only assume that this is out of ignorance, the kind of ignorance that has permeated the journalistic community's reporting on this war. I don't believe it is disloyalty, as some have suggested. Regardless, it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

What was wanted were facts for fighters. What we have gotten is an ode to the guerrillas: "sweeping" "surging" warriors overwhelming security efforts. Out of its apparent lack of understanding, the Times is -- to borrow another of Orwell's phrases -- objectively supporting the enemy. It is doing their information operations for them, far more effectively than they could do it themselves.

That is not to say that the Times is in any way disloyal. It is only to say that they have been fooled. The guerrillas focus on weaving a mystique through violence and terror; and the Times has bought it, hook and sinker.

MEMRI: Latest News


Would you be willing to shake a Jew's hand? From Allah.


Diplomacy and Iraq:

An ongoing criticism of President Bush is that he has not done enough to use diplomacy to resolve the Iraq situation. Indeed, Kerry just spoke to the matter:

[A]s president [Kerry said] he would immediately convene a summit of all European and Arab heads of state "to figure out how together we're going to assume the burdens" of Iraq and proposing that another country could provide a base for training Iraqi security forces.

Kerry, taking questions from an invitation-only audience of Wisconsin voters, said "cutting and running" in Iraq would never be an option if he is commander in chief.

He said his proposed summit also would include searching for common ground to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and cut off Arab support for terrorist groups.
I include the last two paragraphs in order to be fair to the candidate. That is what he says he will do: not cut and run, solve the Israeli situation, prevent Iran from developing nukes, and cause Arabs to cease supporting terrorist groups. To which I say: all of that is wonderful if any of it is true. I can't quite imagine how he expects to achieve any of it, however, given previous statements (e.g., the plan to give Iran nuclear fuel doesn't really seem likely to "prevent," but rather to aid, the development of nuclear weapons; the way to "solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis" is a wonder that has eluded the best minds of three generations; and the question of cutting off Arab support for terrorists is another).

Having let him have his say, however, let us examine his one concrete proposal: a summit on "how together we're going to assume the burdens." I don't think it's unfair to say that this translates properly as, "how you people are going to assume some of the burdens you've been letting us carry for you."

Some thoughts on the topic have already returned from France and Germany, who said the US election would not change their policy:
"I cannot imagine that there will be any change in our decision not to send troops, whoever becomes president," Gert Weisskirchen, member of parliament and foreign policy expert for Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party, said in an interview.


Even though Nato last week overcame members' long-running reservations about a training mission to Iraq and agreed to set up an academy there for 300 soldiers, neither Paris nor Berlin will participate.

Michel Barnier, the French foreign minister, said last week that France, which has tense relations with interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, had no plans to send troops "either now or later".
Now, Kerry seems to be talking himself into pursuing less than what NATO has already agreed to do: to train people outside of Iraq, when NATO has already said they will train people inside of Iraq. That is, though, a minor quibble.

The major objection is the notion of a summit. Paris has already stated their terms:
France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions.

Paris also wants representatives of Iraq's insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.
France is unwilling to participate in a summit of allies seeking victory in Iraq.

France is only willing to participate in negotiating, not as an ally but as a "neutral," a US surrender to the insurgency.

The International Herald Tribune says that this "would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept." It does not seem able to say whether or not it would be difficult for a Kerry administration to accept.

I agree, on both points. However, I note that the French position is similiar to Kerry's on one other point: both of them have a "tense" relationship with Allawi and his government. Kerry openly craves French approval, and has adopted the French worldview on this and other points. Why should we not think he might adopt their plan for a negotiated surrender, under the vibrant but faithless heading of "Peace process"?

Kerry has chided the American government for failing to gain "the support of our allies." But the French are not our allies. They themselves have said so. We would do well not to forget.

Mudville Gazette

Greyhawk in Iraq:

MilBlog founder Greyhawk has his first report from Iraq. It is entitled "Eyes of the Undefeated."

Downer unfit for job, says Latham - Election 2004 -

Alexander Downer: The Worst Public Speaker In The World

Sometimes you really screw up:

The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, was unfit to hold his job after saying Indonesia could make pre-emptive strikes at Australia, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.

His comments come after Mr Downer was asked on Darwin radio if he would expect another country to take pre-emptive action on Australian soil. Mr Downer said: "Absolutely, by the way, absolutely."

"If the Indonesians rang us up and said, 'there's a terrorist group in the Kimberleys who are planning to launch an attack on Kupang', and we said, 'well we don't really care; that's your problem, pal and we're not going to do anything about it', and they sent an F-16 over and bombed the terrorist group, you could understand that," Mr Downer added.
I love that this was on "Darwin radio."

Now, honestly, the Australian government has been our finest friend in the GWOT. They, and the UK, have been unfailing in their support. The Howard government, of which Downer is a member, is far more likely to support the U.S. than the Labor opposition, which has run on cutting back cooperation with America.

All the same, I have to say, Downer is a consistently lousy diplomat.

Last week, all this "pre-emptive strike" business arose after PM Howard stated that he was going to form "flying squads" to address terrorist groups in the region. He explained that he was moving to a pre-emptive strike model, following the Jakarta bombing of the Aussie embassy.

Downer, challenged by Malaysia and Indonesia to explain this position, managed to refine his boss' statement into a pure hypothetical -- in fact, he said, it was just campaign rhetoric:
But imagine a situation, it's not likely to be Indonesia or a country which has a strong counter-terrorism capability, but a failed state in the South Pacific, as the Solomons once was and is not now, and a situation where a terrorist was about to attack and the country involved either didn't want to or in their case couldn't do anything to stop it, we would have to go and do it ourselves.... We're talking about a situation where, and it's a hypothetical situation, where somebody would not stop a terrorist attack on Australia, someone refused to stop a terrorist attack on Australia, wherever it might be in the world – not in Indonesia, but anywhere in the world, and I can assure you this Government would stop it if we knew it was going to happen.
Isn't this the same Mr. Downer who said that his department "never" issued hypothetical statements about such things? I seem to remember he said that just lately. I believe it was in regard to the issue raised in this article, "Aussies Not Cowards: MOFA"
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that it never called Australians "moral cowards" but had urged the Australian government to be even-handed in dealing with relations between Taiwan and China....

Downer, during a visit to Beijing last month, spoke of a new strategic partnership between Australia and China extending beyond commercial interests and into the political sphere. Downer said Australia would not necessarily side with the US against China in support of Taiwan if hostilities broke out.
When our own Secretary of State pointed out that Australia had a treaty obligation to do just that, Mr. Downer replied that they didn't do hypotheticals -- except, it seems, when they do.

John Howard had to spurn his own FM in public over that remark, and now Mr. Downer is trying to "help" again. I can only hope that Howard survives the elections, and that he immediately dispenses with this particularly inept diplomat.