Saturday, December 29, 2007
will take a little longer."
-Herman Haupt, Chief of U.S. Military Rail Roads in Virginia, to Abraham
Friday, December 28, 2007
"Investigators with our Product Safety Bureau have
identified the factory that produced the defective
sun roof that killed Mrs. Bhutto as "Al Qaeda Sun
Sun Roof Manufacturing, Inc." and have closed
it indefinitely. I congratulate those involved in
so swiftly bringing this investigation to a
conclusion," said the Pakistani President.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Pakistan in its continuous subcontinent feud with
India. Our countries have remained cordial ever
since. In the "war on terrorism" President Musharaff
was one of the most outspoken (if somewhat panicked)
in the world, certainly in the Islamic world, in
condemning the attacks. He pledged help to the
Bush administration, and has delivered some.
The old bromide that politics makes strange bed-
fellows applies here, of course. India is the world's
largest democracy; Pakistan has had far more coups
than free elections. India is a stable country;
Pakistan has gone through more leaders than
Lincoln went through generals. Finally of course,
Pakistan is Islamic and India is Hindu and our Clash
is with Islam.
Bedfellow Bush has snuggled up to bedfellow
Musharraf, to the detriment of both countries, and to
our side in the Clash. He has done all that he can to
protect Musharraf against surges of Islamist violence
and assassination attempts. On the bedfellows theory
that would seem to be a good thing, but it's not. The
Musharraf regime is about to fall, that will be one of
the results of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto
today, and in it's place will be...who knows in Pakistan,
but eventually, probably later rather than sooner, an
Islamist government. And this one will have the bomb.
That's a very bad thing. Pakistan developed and test-
launched its bomb under President Musharraf, and
with President Bush looking on, or looking the other
The most vital threat that America faces in the Clash is
an Islamic bomb in the wrong hands. That is closer to
happening today than it was yesterday.
The bed-fellows approach has produced this result.
The U.S. never should have permitted Pakistan to
develop its atomic capability. This day was foreseeable.
In the Clash, instead of the bedfellows theory that
delays the inevitable, this page has proposed an
opposite theory, of encouraging the inevitable.
We have called it "constructive provocation" and,
applied in the context here, the U.S. would have, if
necessary, bombed the Pakistani nuclear facilities out
of existence. That would have brought down the
Musharraf regime. Constructive provocateurs would
say, better sooner than later, better by our action than
the improvised reaction that the bedfellows theory
produces, better that we fight the Clash at a time of
our choosing rather than the enemy's. Whatever one
thinks of theories, we should have prevented the
Pakistani nuclear capability by all means necessary.
Long before President Bush, America should have
gotten out of bed with Pakistan. Pakistan shares none
of America's values. The bedfellows approach shunts
that consideration aside--for defensible reasons--for
geopolitical expediency. But there's the rub. The
bedfellows theory is supposed to be temporary and,
given the "strange" relationships it produces, it is
critical that each relationship so produced be
It has been the long-standing view here* that Pakistan
has not been a net plus for America in the Clash.
Rather, we have consistently argued that Pakistan and
Saudi Arabia are our greatest enemies. Shortly after
9/11 The New York Times Magazine did a story on
President Musharraf's madrasahs, the Pakistani schools
that inculcate Pakistani children in Islamist hatred.
As does our other major "friend" in the Islamic world,
Saudi Arabia, the madrasahs were one way for President
Musharraf to buy off Islamist threats to him personally,
and to his regime. The result for America however is a
new generation in Pakistanis--and Saudis--who, when
they come of age, will act out their school lessons with
the violence and hate that they were taught.
Additionally, U.S. intelligence indicates that Osama
bin Laden is alive and well. In Pakistan. In that "lawless"
tribal area in the mountainous border region it shares
with Afghanistan. Reportedly, we had a bead on bin
Laden in that area of Pakistan at one point, but
Secretary Rumsfeld called off military action for fear
of destabilizing our "friend." Acting under a theory of
"constructive provocation," obviously the U.S. would
have gone in and gotten bin Laden.
President Musharraf's fiat does not extend over a large
geographic area of his country; he does not rule the
hearts and minds of a large segment of his people;
he hasn't been able to produce bin Laden; our
ability to capture bin Laden ourselves has been
thwarted by concern for our bedfellow; and he
is teaching his youngsters to make jihad on us.
Another old bromide comes to mind, with friends like this...
* Our Friends in Pakistan, May 29, 2002.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
At his trial in Israel in 1961 Adolph Eichmann defended himself
as someone who "never did anything great or small,
without obtaining in advance express instructions from Adolf
Hitler or any of my superiors."
At her trial in China in 1981 Jiang Jing defended herself in the
same way, "I was Chairman Mao's dog. He told me who to bite
and I bit them."
Israel convicted Eichmann and China convicted Jiang but
Israel is a nation of laws and applies them indiscriminately;
China is a nation of orders which it issues at its whim.
"Following orders" is not a defense recognized in a society
ruled by laws; it is a defense in a society ruled by orders.
It is for this reason that those responsible for the murder of
Bian Zhongyun and of 3,000,000 others during the Cultural
Revolution go unpunished. When it wants to, as in the case of
the Gang of Four, China issues orders holding people
accountable. When it doesn't want to, it issues no such orders.
Wang Jinyao, Bian's husband, has found this out over the
years. Wang has tirelessly sought justice for his wife's murder.
Pausing here for a moment we note another distinction.
"Memorializing" and "justice" both are important, noble
concepts. There are two parties to a murder, the victim and the
murderer. Memorializing focuses exclusively on the victim:
when we lay wreaths on the graves of our loved ones we do so
regardless of whether they died by murder, accident, in
war, or by natural causes. Justice focuses on both victim and
murderer. When Wang Jinyao went to his country's authorities
it was not to memorialize Bian; he has done that in his
apartment since 1966. Wang sought justice, he wanted those
responsible for his wife's murder to be held accountable in
When Wang sought justice he was cited a Chinese "law" that
codified Adolph Eichmann's defense. Wang was told that since
Bian's murder had occurred in the midst of a "mass movement"
the requisite criminal intent could not be imputed to any
individual. Without criminal intent there is no crime. Without a
crime there is no criminal. Therefore, no one was responsible
for Bian's death. Such was the Chinese government's order.
Justice is not revenge, the two, like orders and laws and
memorializing and justice, are often conflated. Justice is the
product of the shared values of a society, those values are
embodied in its laws and a society's fairness, that is, its
legitimacy, depends on the enforcement of those laws, that is,
those values. Wang Jinyao received no justice from his country
for his wife's murder because, you see, his country has no
justice to give. This is Public Occurrences.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Sunday, December 02, 2007
"To encourage knowledge of affairs at home and abroad; to cure the spirit of lying which prevails
amongst us; to record memorable providences."-Statement of purpose, Public Occurrences, September 25, 1690
The college football regular season in the U.S.A. ended last night. It has been the most unpredictable season in history. Seven different teams who were ranked #2 in the country have lost during the course of the season, five of them to completely un-ranked teams. Last night both the number-one and number-two teams
played their season-ending games. Had they won they would have played against each other after the new year for the national championship.
Missouri, the number-one team, lost to Oklahoma, a highly-ranked team in its own right. Number-two West
Virginia however lost to the University of Pittsburgh, an un-ranked team with a losing record, over whom
West Virginia was a twenty eight and one-half point favorite. To make the result even more surprising the
game was played on West Virginia's campus. "Home" teams in American college football have a decided
advantage. Most surprising is that Pittsburgh is West Virginia's most- despised rival, thus seeming to negate
the common concern that a superior team might overlook an inferior opponent. Finally, this was exactly the 100th game between the two schools.
None of this mattered. Pittsburgh won the game 13-9.
The game has been described in historic terms by American sports writers. To lose to one's bitterest rival, at home, in the final game of the season, when playing for a chance at a national championship, while being favored by twenty eight and one-half points is indeed historic.
At its best sports presents the human condition in the starkest of terms. West Virginia's coach sorrowfully described the game as a "nightmare." We have all had those. We are all West Virginians. But for Pittsburgh's fans, and for underdog fans everywhere, the result was a miraculous joy. We are all Pittsburghers.
We have not had occasion to document memorable providences in the five-plus years that we have been publishing this electronic continuation of Public Occurrences but Pittsburgh's victory was not just historic, it was providential, that is miraculous, and so, true to our ancient mission we hereby record it. This is Public Occurrences.