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

Thursday, January 22, 2004 :::
The Right to Life March...Nukes, Iran, and the Grand Ayatollah Sistani

A Great Matter, and a Great Day to be in Washington.

Today is the March for Life, the moment when this writer feels happiest that he teaches at the Catholic University of America, for it is parked next to the National Shrine, where thousands of high school kids camp out every year before they go on the March. Juding by polls and other statistics, the abortion debate appears to have been decided on the side of mercy and love, i.e., against abortion, but the fight must continue.

It has been lost in Europe, of course. As a teenager, when Roe was decided while few were looking, this writer heard arguments that, as unborn children were dependent, the people they were dependent on should be free to kill them. "But we are all dependent," this child blurted out, and the murderous logic has played itself out in Europe, particularly up North, particularly in Holland, where 1/3 of all deaths are caused by doctors killing patients without their family's consent. That's a Dutch government statistic, by the way. And the "Council of Europe" is about to issue a report advocating the spread of death for the dependent. Thank the Lord that in this country we have some freedom of education, so that our kids can form independent judgments, and march to tell everyone about them.

Iraq, Iran, the Bomb, and the Big Matter Our War-Planners "Just Kind-a Missed."

In the grimmer news, it now appears that, as many experts said, the agreement Iran signed with Britain, Germany, and Russia to stop its nuclear weapons program was a hoax. This reminds this writer that there was but one anti-war argument that made sense: we were sending the signal that we were afraid of nuclear weapons, because we were only willing to attack a country that might be developing them, and, of course, turned out not to be. Some of the new style, rah, rah, "on to total victory" kinds of conservatives sneer at that, even though nearly every expert said the Iran agreement was a hoax, even though all kinds of grim news is coming from Pakistan, and even though Kim Jong-Il took the occasion of W's visit to Japan to fire a test long range nuclear missle into the sea next to Japan.

Yup, those silly old defeatists: can't see how this war has brought Eden, Nirvana, and Valhalla all to earth.

This writer also was a little shocked by a recent one, two punch. The emergence of the Grand Ayatollah Sistani as the dominant power broker in Iraq, at least right now, prompted a little check of the old Washington Post data bank. For the period from the war through December, there was exactly one reference to him. So he was not part of the discussion, outside Iraq. Ah, but as the indipensable Wall Street Journal points out this morning, the Ayatollah has such funds at his disposal that he distributes 5 million dollars a month to students of his very well developed theories.

Regular readers of this blog will know that A Mind That Suits has raised two questions, although he must admit he never bothered with checking on them:

1) When Shi'ites are described as believing in the separation of religion and government, does that mean that they believe the state is autonomous, or simply that Shi'ite clerics should not make day to day decisions within a Muslim state? and

2) Even if Shi'ites used to be good Englightenment liberals, can they really have spent 30 years slave to a secular monster and not have looked longingly at the state next door that is indeed run according to their principles?

It turns out that the Ayatollah Sistani takes the more restricted view mentioned in (1), and spent most of his life traveling freely between Iraq and Iran (until he was placed under house arrest by Saddam.) He used his funds to build up Qom, the ancient religious center where the Ayatollah Khomeini (remember him?) spent most of his time governing Iran.

There is still the question--nowhere discussed in detail, that this writer has seen--of the ethnic mix. Many Iraqi Shi'ites are indeed ethnic Iranians. The Imam Ali, whom they revere, was Arab, and and this writer assumed--erroneously--that the Iraqi Shi'ites were all Arabs. How is that going to play out?

So indeed the "secularism" of the Shi'ites turned out to be the "magic fact" that this writer feared--somethings someone heard somewhere and repeated, skipping all the painful work of sorting out the truth. That does not mean anything in particular, except that this writer--who was lukewarm about the need for a war, and has never been anything but critical of the slipshod, ill-considered way it was undertaken--is slowly but surely moving over into the anti-war camp. This is a bad business, ill begun, and the future seems to hold more dangers than benefits.

Regular readers will note a contradiction: the Kay report on weapons of mass destruction makes a good case for war, because Saddam was primed to start his weapons program right back up when the pressure went off, and France, Germany, Russia, and China would have, ultimately, relieved the pressure. So the war was necessary. Perhaps it is more truthful to say that this writer used to be lukewarm about the nee for a war with Saddam but now admits it was absolutely necessary. Except that waging it meant leaving the stage open for possibly bigger monsters. Meanint the fundamental problem is that the Bush Administration was looking for a knock-out punch.

And real conservatives believe that most of time, life hands you a choice of ways to prevent the worst possible thing from happening, but never the choice of eliminating all the bad things that might happen.

::: posted by A Mind That Suits at 10:39 AM



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