A Mind That Suits What doesn't kill me, makes me laugh... usually.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 :::
A Mind That Suits is stuck in Mac land again today, so we have link-free blogging. A few random thoughts.

Several years ago, California went through a whole slew of really horrific natural disasters, inspiring many people on this coast to shake their heads in disbelief that anyone would stay there. When this writer pointed out that, in fact, there had been a series of deadly snow storms and hurricanes on this coast that had caused about as many deaths, he was greeted with stlightly bemused stares, as if he were an idiot. But panic-prone DC has now been hit with two major fall storms, causing blessedly few causualties, but well into the billions of dollars worth of damage. A steady, heavy rain two days ago dropped more water than did dear old Isabel, and even A Mind That Suits appears to have suffered some losses, never mind the giant sink hole that appeared in the middle of a major commuter route. The riches of this continent come from its weather, but ever sword has two edges, it seems.

If you check out http://www.opinionjournal.com today, you will see a fairly clear economic statement from Arnold the Austrian Guy that appeared in the print edition of the Journal. Aside from putative news value, as there is an election coming up, it is hard to know why it is the featured editorial. 2/3 of it is boilerplate, a recitation of the failures of Gray Davis familiar to any reader of the indipensible Journal. It is easy to calculate that 2/3, because it takes up 3 columns, and 2 of them are boilerplate. Arnold says he will imporove the business climate, which would be a good thing.

Of far more interest is a column by the former New York City Police Commissioner, the one who cleaned up New York with Rudi Giuliani. He served as advisor on security to Amb. Bremer, our administrator in Iraq. Online, it is, alas, available only to Journal subscribers. It is fascinating in its own right, but he joins the Defense Department chorus of "everything is going swimmingly, just swimmingly," and suggests that extra troops would be unwise because, get this, that would mean there were that many more American targets.

However, it is hard to see how Iraqi security forces will be ready any time soon in sufficient numbers to provide the domestic security that Iraqis themselves crave, to judge by the selections provided by the latest 'Baghdad Dispatch" by the ever more indispensible MEMRI (http://www.memri.org). Moreover, there is no question that radical Islamists are pouring into Iraq, and who is going to fight them? And who is going to make sure that they don't sweet talk their way onto the local Iraqi security forces, the way that they have apparently sweet talked their way into the guards at Guantanamo Bay?

You CAN see, for free, an article that undercuts many of the good commissioner's arguments in the Sept 22 issue of The Weekly Standard, available at weeklystandard.com . Click on the red bar at top at "The Weekly Standard," and you can scroll down to the article, by Reuel Marc Gerecht. The title--Premature Iraqification--is of questionable taste in a major publication in any case, and is even moreso when the issues are so serious, but read the article nonetheless for an expert rehashing of this important issue.

A Mind That Suits will turn his attention to one further matter at a later date, but he will comment for now that there is a persistent incomprehension throughout much writing on the Middle East. Call it a "functional" view of religion, that all religions provide the same impulse for the same socially useful goals. They don't. Hinduism is apparently unable to prevent Indians from having about 650 girls for every 1000 boys in regions where Western (i.e., British) influence has nearly disappeared. Nature provides a near perfect 50-50 split between the sexes--for obvious reasons--but there are strong cultural reasons for Hindis to prefer boys. And they have a merciless track record in making sure that boys predominate. That was the case when the British came, and in rural regions, 55 years after independence, that is happening again. So, too, with Islam, which indeed provides a strong legal basis for a sound economy (provided they do not have too much oil. That much cash discourages initiative, much as socialism does.) In nearly every context where they are free to trade, Muslims do quite well. But Islam indeed has a very strong political message, and it is not one that the West might be so comfortable with if its intellectuals skipped the 'We Are The World" stuff. And there are some disturbing teachings among some Muslims about the level of gratitude and sympathy to be accorded outsiders. How much they correspond to values taught by the Qu-ran, this writer cannot say, but it was found around the time of 9/11 that Saudi textbooks explicitly teach children not to sympathize with non-Muslims, as that can lead to corruption. Those are points worth pondering, which A Mind That Suits will do later.

Until tomorrow.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 2:16 PM



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