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[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]
01 — Intro. And Radio Derb is on the air! That was one of Haydn's Derbyshire Marches and this is your rampantly genial host John Derbyshire summing up the week's events as seen from my lofty perch up here on the 95th floor of Buckley Towers in the heart of Manhattan.
If listeners will forgive me indulging some personal cogitations, I have often thought that in some previous life I must have been a Mandarin. Not an orange, of course — I mean, a scholar-official of old China. My basic outlook on world affairs is that there is a zone of civilization and a zone of barbarism. The two zones exhibit different standards and are governed by different rules. The distinction is cultural and governmental, not personal; and it's time-dependent: Elizabethan England was in many respects very barbarous by today's standards. The boundary line shifts with events — Stalin's Russia was certainly in the zone of barbarism; Putin's Russia, with all its faults, is not. There are limits to the boundary line's movement, though. I don't think there is any part of the world that was never barbaric; but there are certainly parts that have never been civilized.
Well, this week offered some support for this viewpoint of mine. Let's take a look.
02 — Muammar, we hardly knew you. MENA is mostly within the zone of barbarism. That's MENA, M-E-N-A, the short-hand term that we deep-browed geostrategic thinkers use for the Middle East and North Africa. MENA, see?
Well, at the NA end of MENA, that would be North Africa, the barbarians have been fighting among themselves. Their chieftains haven't been delivering enough cargo, so the peasants are revolting. The latest consequence, on Thursday this week, was the killing of Muammar Gaddafy in Libya.
Gaddafy had run Libya for 42 years. In fact, in that tremendous best-seller We Are Doomed I tabulated him as the world's longest-serving national leader, hereditary monarchs not included. The revolting peasants cornered him at last in his home town. Gaddafy tried to escape from his palace in a convoy, but the convoy was stopped by a NATO air strike, although what business it is of NATO to take sides in these tribal squabbles, I do not understand. They turned round and went back to the palace, and that's where Gaddafy's enemies caught up with him and punched his ticket.
News of Gaddafy's death was greeted among his own people with the expressions of joy customary in that neck of the woods … or perhaps I should say "that wadi of the desert," since Libya is not very generously endowed with woodlands. There was much wild ululation, much firing of automatic weapons into the air — not a thing you should try at home, gentle listeners — and many fervent asseverations that "God is great!" … to which those of us unschooled in theology are bound to react by wondering, if God is so great, why He permits psychopaths like Gaddafy to rule over millions of people for decades on end.
So far as we of the West are concerned, the Gaddafy story is a squalid one. We behaved badly at almost every point, the only exception being when the noble Ronald Reagan bombed Gaddafy's capital in 1986. That was retaliation for the Gaddafy-sponsored terrorist attack on a German night-club a week earlier, that had killed two U.S. servicemen and wounded 80 others. The bombing raid was nicely done, and perfectly justified under the circumstances.
It didn't change Gaddafy's behavior, though, and he went on making a nuisance of himself to civilized nations for several years, until first U.N. sanctions, then the salutary spectacle of American troops marching into Baghdad, modified his attitude. He then became a fairly co-operative barbarian — still a son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch. That's all we ask of these chieftains, and all we should ask.
Just as we'd settled into this happy equilibrium, though, with Gaddafy paying compensation all around and otherwise minding his own homicidal business, his own people got fed up with him.
There was a case for helping our son of a bitch at that point, and also a case — a much stronger one, in my opinion — for sitting quiet while events ran their course. There was no case for getting involved in the squabble, but that naturally is what our fool leaders decided to do.
So farewell then, Muammar Gaddafy. I can't say "we hardly knew you"; after 42 years, we knew you all too well. We didn't treat you very well: once you'd decided to be our son of a bitch, we owed you at least the courtesy of not taking sides with your enemies. Still, at this stage of our civilizational decline, we are sheep, led by fools, and you shouldn't have expected anything better.
What will follow Gaddafy, nobody knows. Another tribal chieftain, I suppose, who we shall have to go to the trouble all over again of duping into being our son of a bitch, while hoping he hasn't noticed the unpleasant things that tend to happen to our sons of bitches when they become inconvenient to us. Let's also hope the new Big Man has a name on the spelling of which we can come to some sort of agreement.
Meanwhile, although we don't know who will follow Gaddafy, we do know who preceded him: King Idris, the first and only King of Libya. Idris was overthrown by Gaddafy in 1969, and spent the rest of his life in exile in Egypt. Though a tribal chieftain whose mind included very little manufactured later than the twelfth century, Idris was a good friend of the West — again, in fact, a better friend to us than we were to him. Idris was no fool, either. He had in fact a sort of wisdom. Here is a reader's letter published in the London Financial Times in March this year, after than newspaper had run a feature about King Idris. The letter is from someone named Tom Siebens, at a London address.
End of letter. King Idris of Libya died in 1983.
03 — Israeli prisoner swap. Yet more here from MENA, this time from the ME end, the Middle East.
The young Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released on Tuesday after five years captivity in Gaza. The terrorist gang Hamas had kidnapped Shalit back in June 2006 on a raid into Israel. They had held him ever since at an underground location, permitting him no contact with his family and no visits from international humanitarian organizations. Barbarians don't do humanitarianism.
Israel finally got Shalit back, in exchange for over a thousand Arab terrorists convicted in Israeli courts, often of unspeakably horrible deeds. One of them, for example, name of Abdel Aziz Salehi, is a great hero among Arabs for having taken part in the murder of two Israelis who'd lost their way on the West Bank. Salehi was among a mob of Arabs who hacked the Israelis to death. He attained everlasting glory among his people by gleefully displaying his bloodstained hands to TV cameras.
Also among these brave heroes of the Palestinian Arabs was Musab Hashlemon, who was actually released in a previous prisoner exchange back in 2004. Two months later he organized an attack on a bus. Seventeen Israelis were killed, the biggest group schoolchildren on their way home. The youngest victim was aged three.
These revolting psychopaths have been well fed and cared for in Israeli prisons, with educational programs and sporting events laid on for them, and regular visits from the Red Cross to make sure they were suffering no ill-treatment. Gilad Shalit was kept in a hole in the ground, surrounded by booby traps in case Israel tried a rescue mission, fed a meager diet, and subjected to cruelties we have only heard about in hints from his family. All Western reports on the exchange noted the contrast between his thin, pale appearance and the robust look of the Arab prisoners. There you see quite starkly the difference between civilization and barbarism.
Now the released Arabs are free to blow up more buses and pizza parlors, and they will undoubtedly do so. They are also being greeted as heroes by their people and fawned over by their leaders. The loathsome Mahmoud Abbas, every mention of whom in the Western media comes with the epithet "moderate," fawned over a batch released to the West Bank, calling them, quote, "freedom fighters and holy warriors," end quote. That's what passes for moderation among barbarians.
Israelis of course understand the pros and cons of the prisoner exchange. Some have protested the deal. Most, however — around seventy percent in polls — approve. It helps that the deal was pushed through by Benjamin Netanyahu, whom no-one ever called a faint-hearted appeaser. This was pure Nixon-to-China political strategy; a liberal-left Prime Minister could never have got away with it.
Still, there is now a mighty incentive for Arab terrorists to kidnap Israelis; and there are Israeli men, women, and children walking around today who will be murdered next month or next year by the grinning fanatics who've been getting ticker-tape parades from their enablers in Gaza and the West Bank.
Moral of the story: When you've caught a terrorist, and fairly tried and convicted him, take him out back of the courthouse and kill him. There is such a thing as being too damn civilized.
04 — Troops to Uganda. Our administration announced this week that we shall be sending a hundred military advisers, most from Army Special Forces, to help fight the Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa.
Who are the Lord's Resistance Army? Well, they seem to be a fanatical ideological sect, a bit like the 19th-century Taiping in China. Nobody has been able to figure out exactly what their ideology is, but as usual with these things there are elements of religion, both perverted Christianity and indigenous magic, and millenarian utopianism.
We do know who the Lord's Resistance Army is resisting: they are resisting the government of Uganda's President-for-Life Yoweri Museveni, currently enjoying his 26th year in office. By way of doing so, they have committed numerous massacres, with Catholic congregations apparently being a favorite target. A favorite tactic is to descend on a church while it's full of worshippers, then hack to death one portion of the congregation while carrying the rest off to be tortured, raped, or enslaved.
The War Nerd captured the essence of LRA tactics, longish quote:
The LRA is at war with the Ugandan Army, but it's war Central-Africa style. We're not talking Gettysburg or Verdun here. The idea isn't to have big battles but to sneak up on an enemy village and kill all the civilians, take their livestock and steal their stuff.
End quote. The main component of the LRA forces seems to be teenage boys, aged 13 to 16 mostly, leading one commentator to quip that, quote, "It takes a child to raze a village."
Nasty stuff, to be sure. It's none of our business, though, unless you think that every bad thing happening in the world is our business, which I don't. I suppose a case could be made for the U.N. doing something or other, though if I were running the show I would't touch that with a ten-foot machete either.
The Uganda adventure does illustrate an oft-remarked feature of liberal geostrategy: that military intervention is justifiable in inverse proportion to how much of our national interest is involved; and where whatever is going down is no skin off our national nose whatsoever, military intervention is absolutely imperative.
I don't know, though; there may be other motives at work. Possibly Barack Obama wants East Africa to be safe enough that he can deport his welfare-queen illegal-immigrant aunt and drunk-driving illegal-immigrant uncle back there. Possibly. Be nice to think so.
05 — GOP Las Vegas debate. Yet another GOP candidate debate. The standard here was lower than previously, the candidates seeming less coherent and more snippy at each other.
The impression I came away with, in fact, was the kind you get from looking at one of the very cheap kind of picture postcard, one where the colors have all been over-saturated — the reds too red and the blues too blue. The candidates all seemed to be caricatures of themselves. Mitt Romney was more than ever the teacher's pet, actually whining to the teacher a couple of times.
Rick Perry reminded us more than ever that for all its many virtues, Texas has an unattractive side. I can't express is better than paleoconservative blogger Christopher Roach did when Perry's poll numbers started to dive. Long quote:
Texas is a genial, wealthy, successful, and mostly capitalist state. It also has a long history of white coexistence with highly assimilated Mexicans. Starting 15 years or so ago, the state became completely inundated with Mexican coolie laborers. But the leadership of Texas — mostly white and Republican — doesn't mind this for a number of reasons. For starters, a great many rich Texans aspire not to work but to play. They have gotten rich by having land in the right part of the ugly-as-sin Permian Basin. And these folks, not much liking hard work, have a very patrician attitude about Mexicans. They can't think of this demographic without thinking of their loyal and hardworking servants. They believe just a little magnanimity will make them all successful, assimilated, and inclined to vote Republican. The Mexicans' native political traditions and liberal-leaning domestic politics are completely ignored.
End long quote. I can't say I agree with every word of that, but I think the writer is broadly correct in implying that, if you like the side of Texas Rick Perry represents, you must love Brazil.
Herman Cain too was an exaggerated version of himself. From his previous appearances as genial but not very well-informed he went here to being over-genial and dismally ill-informed. Not Herb's best performance. The 9-9-9 thing is a campaign gambit: nobody, even I am sure Herb, thinks anything like it would get past Congress. Still, it's not actually a bad idea, as can be seen from the way liberals are scoffing at it; it deserves a better defense than Herb gave it on Tuesday.
Santorum likewise went from being preachy and annoying to being super-preachy and as annoying as that yappy dog two doors away. He told us about his daughter's surgery, and actually addressed her. All good luck to the kiddie, but this stuff is no more appropriate to a presidential candidacy than Herman Cain's bowel cancer. If Newt Gingrich has an ingrown toenail, I sympathize, but I really don't want to hear about it.
Newt, in the spirit of the thing, was super-Newt: super-smart, super-reasonable, supercilious. His contempt for that portion of humanity that is not Newt Gingrich was well-concealed, but not as well as usual. Ron Paul displayed full Ron-ness: Brilliant conservative radicalism plus off-the-wall nuttiness.
Michele Bachmann was at her best, and for my money came out winner in this show. She got some criticism for mentioning Obama's aunt and uncle, but I was glad to see someone bring this up. We should enforce the law, even for people related to the president.
And then, Mitt Romney again. I was at a gathering of conservative types a couple of days later where someone asked: "Hands up those who would vote for Mitt Romney in the general, but reluctantly." Wellnigh every hand went up. This was followed by several people expressing the hope that underneath the bland, smiling, open-hearted Mitt we see, there is a subtle, devious, ruthless and cunning Mitt well hidden. I share this hope.
06 — Miscellany. And now, our closing miscellany of brief items.
Item: This weekend the world population will pass the seven billion mark, headed upward. Is that too many, too few, or just right? Nobody knows, and there are cogent arguments on all sides. Only one thing is mathematically certain, and that is that our planet has some maximum capacity to support human life. What you think that capacity is, depends on your own personality and outlook. American conservatives, especially religious ones, are mostly philoprogenitive, while liberals and some irreligious conservative contrariwise favor fewer people. As always in a fact-free zone, people go with their inclinations and cook up arguments to support them. The really interesting numbers are comparative: fertility rates in the zone of barbarism compared with those in the zone of civilization, or fertility rates of the very religious when compared with those of the irreligious or casually religious — the subject of a book by Eric Kaufmann, which I reviewed last year — see my website www.johnderbyshire.com under "Reviews." I'd like to give you an opinion about that seven billion number, but I honestly don't have one. I read an article about Peak Oil or the depletion of fish stocks in the ocean, and I think to myself: Uh-oh. Then I take a cross-country flight and look down at the emptiness of vast stretches of this country, one of the most populous in the world, and I think a billion or two more would fit in just fine. It probably comes down at last to technology, and what new ways we can come up with to provide ourselves with food and energy. Anyway, the seven billion is here: a tripling of the world's population in my own modest lifetime.
Item: The Occupy Wall Street movement survived another week, nobody apparently willing to heed my calls for fire hoses, tear gas, and helicopters dumping disinfectant on the camp sites. "The best lack all conviction, / while the worst are full of a passionate intensity." Meanwhile, a report came out from the Census Bureau saying that Washington, D.C. is now the nation's richest municipality, having surpassed the Silicon Vally town of San Jose. In fairness to the government people, I should point out that much of the D.C. wealth goes not to the federal government worker bees, but to the lawyers and lobbyists who feed off Leviathan. I proposed on The Corner, in fact, that conservatives march on Washington and occupy K Street, but nobody heeded that call, either. People told me they couldn't afford to take the time off work.
Item: In Bethlehem, Pa., a welcome-home party for a resident just released from juvenile detention ended in an unsightly fracas. Gunshots were reported, and five people were treated for stab wounds. Such a shame to spoil a happy event like that; though I should note that on the upside, the young guest of honor was not among the wounded. Several bloggers retailed this story under the headline Shanks for the Memories, but of course we here at Radio Derb would never stoop so low.
07 — Signoff. OK, folks, that's it for this week. Apologies for the somewhat truncated quality of the broadcast; I have to rush off to a party for one of my staff members, recently returned to us after a long absence, about which the less said the better. There will at any rate, I assure you, be no disorder. We do these things properly in the Empire State: a tea dance, cucumber sandwiches, and home-made lemonade for the kiddies. You Quakers down there in Pennsylvania, listen and learn.
[Music clip: From Haydn's Derbyshire Marches]