Sunday, December 26, 2004

On Hiatus

Constantly coming up with something to say is harder than it looks. This blog is on hiatus for now.



Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Oh yeah?

David Brooks writes

People who have enough kids for a basketball team are too busy to fight a culture war.

Oh yeah? I have a basketball team and I hope these posts (here and here) constitute my contribution to the fight.


Monday, December 06, 2004

Winning Insurgencies

What makes an insurgency succeed?

National Review (print version) has published an article by Alistair Horne on the struggle in Algeria against the French, eventually won by the insurgents. At first glance it is very depressing. Consider especially

The first year of the Algerian war ended in stalemate, with France's forces, trained for war in Europe, unable to eradicate the FLN, and the FLN too weak to inflict serious damage on the French. Then, in a deadly move, the FLN switched to attacking the government's Algerian auxiliaries: local caids or magistrates, administrators, and above all, the police and their families. This strategy paid off handsomely. The Muslim police suffered many casualties; they were demoralized by fear, and remained paralyzed in their stations. They had to be protected by French army units that should have been deployed on offensive missions.

Next the FLN targeted villages friendly to the French, and outlying pied noir (French civilian) settlements. Using the bestial technique favored by Islamists to express contempt for the infidel, they slit the throats of women and children. Result: On the one hand, the French steadily lost support to the FLN for failing to protect the loyal, or uncommitted population; on the other, a terrorized civilian workforce left in droves.

This, of course, sounds disturbingly familiar.

But is this the right analogy? Note that the Algerian insurgents were not attacking Algerian civilians, but French civilians, who were against them anyway. In Iraq, the insurgents are slaughtering Iraqi civilians (as well as policemen and Iraqi national guard) for a simple reason not analogous to Algeria: the insurgents have popular support only among a geographically distinct minority, the 20% Sunnis. Further, it was pretty clear that French wanted to stay while the Americans want to leave. The enemy of the insurgents is not the Americans, but the 80% of the population that is not Sunni.

So a question: Has mass slaughter of innocent indigenous civilians ever been the path to a successful insurgency? Others have tried it (the Shining Path in Peru comes to mind), but I can't think of any where it worked.


Thursday, December 02, 2004


I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Italians, mostly because economics, or at least the subfield I'm in, is so full of them, and they are so fun to be around. So I've taken to making an exception for Italians (at least internally) when railing against Europeans. So, for instance, I wrote the following to an Italian friend (who lives in America) regarding my post on feminization.

I want to defend my comment that Italy is far less feminized than say, England. Recall the Italian who before he got killed by his Iraqi captors ripped off his hood and yelled "I will show you how an Italian dies!" and fought them and the whimpering English guy whose last words were "Tony Blair could have done more for me."
God knows how I would react in such a situation. Maybe I would cry like a little girl. But I do know that my ideal, how I want to act, is like the Italian. What is remarkable about England is that their response was basically "He's right. Tony Blair could have done more for him." On the other hand, I think the Italians took pride in their guy. My point is that regardless of how I would react in such a situation, it says something good about Italy that they admired their guy and didn't simply say "what difference does it make, he was dead in the end anyway." They felt he died like a man.

My friend replied

Chris: you are wrong here. Italians thought that the guy was a crazy fascist (only fascists are patriots). Not only, they thought he looked for troubles, because he went there as a private guard. They thought instead the gov't should have saved the leftist journalist, because "he was there for a good cause (world peace) "

Sorry to break your image of Italy, but ask anybody, this is what people there felt. Italy is as bad as anywhere else. Perhaps more. Nobody beats us on "the gov't should have done more for me"



Tuesday, November 30, 2004

“I’ve Got An Idea!”

1) Invariably, in a Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movie, during some predicament which requires money to be raised, one of them will explain “Hey Guys! I have an idea! Let’s put on a show!”

2) There is news now that doctors in the Netherlands are openly and actively euthanasing newborn infants whom they believe are better off dead, due to either suffering or likely imminent death even without intervention.

What do these have to do with each other?

Hitler didn’t come along one day saying “Hey Guys! I have an idea! Let’s kill all the Jews!” to which everyone responded, “Wow. Great idea Adolf!” Things don’t and didn’t work that way. It started with forced sterilization and euthanasia of other undesirables. First, it was the mentally ill and retarded. By 1939 (but before the war started) there was an active program of killing mental patients and of selecting retarded or deformed children under three to be taken from their parents and killed.

I’m not sure exactly what caused the German people to allow the Holocaust to happen. But I’m convinced that this type of killing takes getting used to. Once you convince yourself that society would be better off getting rid of the mentally ill, its simply an easier step mentally to consider getting rid of other “undesirables.”

I’m against abortion on moral terms. But I also think there is a practical argument to be made. Bright white lines can be very useful. One nice bright line is that we don’t deliberately kill innocent human beings. Legalized abortion erases that bright white line. These humans are really small, young, and actually won’t mind being killed like you or I would, right? But now there’s no natural place to draw that line, and convenience is always pushing us to kill just a few more.


Monday, November 29, 2004


Western culture currently frowns on defining any virtues as masculine or feminine. A European economist friend of mine is in full ridicule mode (in a private email to me) regarding my post on Europe, Masculinity, and Guns. But there is such a thing as a masculine virtue and the elite culture is trying to erase it from our collective minds. Here’s my proof.

Suppose you know a couple, Bill and Mary, and their infant son.

There is a fire and someone needs to go save the infant son in a fire. Bill’s wife yells "Bill, go get him!.” Bill responds, "Mary, it seems to me that it's only fair that we flip a coin and the loser goes and gets him." In both cases, one spouse wants the other to go and save the baby. Would any real person, in their gut, respond symmetrically to this? Bill is a coward, period, and anyone who claims he thinks equally ill of both of them is simply kidding himself.


Saturday, November 27, 2004


Western society took a few centuries and spilled a lot of blood learning how to deal with blasphemy. Faithfulness to God requires genuine blasphemy be punished. The genius of modern Christianity was to reconcile such punishment with a multi-religious society where critical discussion of anything religious can be considered blasphemous by some believers. The reconciliation comes from Jesus’ admonition, “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, render unto God that which is God’s,” or, perhaps, “vengeance is the Lord’s.” Blasphemy is to be punished by God, not man.

Europe’s problem with Islam (and Islam’s problem with the rest of the world) is that to many Muslims 1) their definition of blasphemy includes practically any criticism of Islam (Islam was given to us directly by God, thus any criticism of Islam is an affront to God) and 2) blasphemy is rightly punished by men, not just God.

I do not know what percentage of Muslims hold these views. But we literally cannot live with people who hold such views. Europe attempts to coexist with them at its own peril.