Reale Simple

The world is more than what they tell you. Listen up. It's not complex. It's Reale Simple.

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Former USCHO writer, former writer at a Midwestern broadsheet, occassional CHN blogger.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Because they could

Iran is up to the same old garbage again. This time, they've kidnapped 15 British sailors from the HMS Cornwall who were doing nothing more than carrying out UN mandates in the Persian Gulf. The mad mullahs claim that the sailors were operating within their territorial waters, but of course, the Iranian government has been telling boldfaced lies for the last 25-plus years, why would they start being truthful now?

But let's suppose that the Iranians, in a sudden pang of realism, were actually coming across a British patrol in their waters. Surrounding them, capturing them, and then trotting them before a television camera is supposed to be acceptable behavior apparently. No warning message, not even a shot across the bow?

The Iranians aren't the only outrageous element in this. The HMS Cornwall is a Type 22 frigate of Her Majesty's Royal Navy, equipped with 4.5 inch Mark 8 gun, two 20mm close range guns, two Quad Harpoon missile launchers, a Lynx helicopter armed with Sea Skua anti-ship missiles, and even anti-submarine torpedos. Are those things just for show or what? How does it feel to be a soldier or a Marine in Her Majesty's service when your superiors won't use the force necessary to defend you against being taken at gunpoint?

This brazen attack is about one thing for Iranians - they want to show that they can do what they want, when they want, and so far, they're showing just that. Iran learned in 1979 that it can humiliate the West by snatching a few hostages and then laughing as the US squirmed in uncomfortable helplessness. They learned again recently, as provocative move after provocative move in the nuclear showdown was met by nothing but more talk. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is more than willing to do whatever he wants when it comes to nuclear weapons, and now he's trying to show Britain, and by extension, Europe and her American allies, that he holds all the cards.

Iran wants the UK to admit to wrongdoing - wrongdoing they have repeatedly shown was not the case - in order to get their sailors back. From their view, it's a win-win. By making the grab, they've shown that the Royal Navy isn't willing to use force for something as simple as protecting its own, let alone making an offensive attack. This further enhances the Iranian attitude that they can do what they want on nukes. If the UK capitulates and admits to something they didn't do, it's a propaganda victory that shows the mullahs how they can maniuplate the West. If they don't, they have 15 British sailors for propaganda use to try and reverse the diplomatic pressure in the opposite direction, and it's a 1979 redux - the West gets to feel helpless while Iran holds its people hostage.

As I mentioned in this spot several months ago
, the time is now for Europe to "cowboy up" and stop letting themselves be pushed around by the Islamic Republic. This snatch and grab operation was a good opportunity to at least give the impression that the nations of Europe are willing to at least make a display of military might, but even that failed miserably as the Cornwall watched helplessly while their sailors were absconded.

Perhaps what is called for is a little message to Tehran by way of the Royal Air Force. That is, of course, if the RAF still exists.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Exemple Québécois

A revolution of sorts has taken place just north of the border. It didn't involve armed conflict, and although it took place in a province with a secessionist history, no new nations were created.

The provincial election in Québec yesterday saw the first minority government elected to the National Assembly in 129 years. Québec politics was, until yesterday, dominated by two parties - the fiscally moderate Liberal Party, and the socialist Parti Québécois. Although both parties were left-leaning, the overriding question of Québec nationalism was the true defining element that separated the two parties, with the Liberals standing for federalism and the PQ supporting soveriegnty or independence for Québec.

So where was the real choice if, as happened this year, soveriegnty wasn't the issue?

The genesis of this particular revolution started some 13 years ago. Québec conservatives, for some time, have supported the Liberal Party (not affiliated with the national Liberals) as the lesser of two evils, nationalism notwithstanding, and such was the case in the early 1990s.

Mario Dumont, the young conservative leader of the youth wing of the Liberals, had falling out with the party over the issue of soveriegnty in 1994, and helped form the Action démocratique Québec party, or the ADQ. That same year, he was elected to the National Assembly under the ADQ banner, but was the only member of the party in the body.

The next year, Dumont lent his support to the "Oui" side of the referendum on soveriegnty which was ultimately defeated by the slimmest of margins. He continued his quixotic quest in the National Assembly, remaining as a lone voice of the ADQ - with the party eventually becoming identified mostly as "Dumont's Party" - against the two parties of power for a decade between his election in 1994 and 2002, when the party won four by-elections due to growing voter dissatisfaction. In the last elections in 2003, the ADQ was essentially ganged up on by both parties, who used negative campaigning against the upstarts, and the party lost one of its five seats.

Retooling, the political gadfly became a player yesterday. With a populist stance and fiscally conservative outlook while supporting increased autonomy for Québec from the federal government, the ADQ began siphoning conservative support away from the Liberals and nationalist support away from the PQ. After the results were posted yesterday, Dumont had officially gone from 8 years as the party's only voice to the Leader of the Opposition - and very nearly became Premier.

Voters were frustrated with the Liberal government, and did not see a viable alternative in the PQ, which has been on the decline for several months in the eyes of the voters, even among separatists. The ADQ offered a new way of looking at things, and Dumont now wields considerable power - the minority Liberal government will be unable to pass legislation without his assistance.

The rise of a third party of power is something that did not happen overnight, but the drive and vision of one man held things together. That's what has been missing in this country's third-party quest, which was largely ignited by the presidential candidacy of H. Ross Perot in 1992. The resulting movement did not survive past its leader's exit, but certainly showed signs of organization while he was still involved.

If not for Dumont's continued direction, perhaps the ADQ would have also floundered and failed. He kept going after failure in 1995. He kept going after failing in 1998 to have any party members but himself elected. He kept going after a minor setback and a firestorm from the establishment in 2003. Today, he and his followers have the power to be the change they saw 13 years ago.

In the United States, there's no reason for fiscal conservatives to choose between a party which will spend money hand over fist or a party which will merely spend money less quickly. There's no reason for social moderates to choose between the Old Testament and abortions on demand with a euthanasia chaser. What's needed is another charismatic leader, a Perot with Dumont's drive, ready to work for the long haul and put in the effort to create a viable third party.

Until then, Americans will only have the choice of two parties, neither of which is likely to truly represent the will of the nation as long as they have their pet constituents, know they only face opposition from one other front, and can gain a majority with simply one more vote than the other party.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nudge me if something important happens

I honestly didn't think there could be anything less important or "scandalous" than the so-called "Plame affair." Boy, was I ever wrong.

Alberto Gonzales fired eight US Attorneys last fall.

Our Republic is in grave, mortal danger, isn't it?

Really, it's kind of a circus of stupidity on both sides of the aisle, but the ravenous screeches from people like Chuck Schumer (who never met a Republican he didn't think should resign for some reason) underline that the true march of moronics is coming, once again, from the left.

The real shocker here - Gonzales' firings may have been political. Oh, you don't say! You mean people holding politically appointed positions can lose their jobs over politics? That never, ever happens, right?

I mean, we all remember the nerve-wrenching Constitutional crisis that ensued when Bill Clinton fired 93 federal prosecutors when he first took office, including one that was close to indicting Dan Rostenkowski, a key Clinton ally in the House, and several that were working on indictments pursuant to some failed Arkansas business venture known as Whitewater.

Remember the way the talking heads breathlessly expected the worst and demonized the Clintons? No? Me neither.

The attorneys in this case were supposedly fired because (gasp!) they were being lax in investigating voter fraud. I thought Democrats were the ones who were supposed to be the big watchdogs against voter fraud - you know, like the fraud that was perpetuated in 2000, 2002, and 2004 (but somehow was missing from the 2006 elections - maybe those firings sent a message, eh?).

But the message now is this - don't consider that this is something which happens all the time with federal prosecutors. Don't consider that it's been done before, and will likely be done in the future. The key here is simple, and actually related to the previous non-story, most likely. That whole Plame thing just isn't sticking (gee, wonders never cease), so let's find something else to stick on this Presidency. When a scandal doesn't exist, make one up.

Republicans, for their part, are falling for it hook, line, and sinker. When questions were raised, they headed for the hills instead of standing there, taking the questions, and answering confidently, "yeah, we did fire them, so what?" Lies and half-truths were told. Dumb move. Now the cacophony is only louder, because if there's a cover-up, there must be something wrong.

Now comes the real concern - Gonzales, while not exactly pursuing his duties in the War on Terror to the same level as his predecessor, is still carrying himself better than anyone the Democrat-controlled Senate would ever be willing to confirm if they had the opportunity. And it's very, very apparent that they are salivating at getting that opportunity if they can force Gonzales to resign. They play hardball with Bush, and Bush, as is the norm for him lately, caves and puts up someone they'll get through, and their execution of duties at the Department of Justice as it pertains to the War on Terror is going to be much closer to that of Janet Reno than that of John Ashcroft.

All Gonzales has to do for this to pass is to not resign. The caterwauling will eventually die down, and history will forget any of this nonsense ever happened.