The Long View 2006-02-14: Hoax, War, Anger, Appeasement, Separation

The Other Spengler [David P. Goldman]

The Other Spengler [David P. Goldman]

In late 2005 and early 2006, John Reilly often referenced or quoted the pseudonymous Spengler ["that Spengler"] who wrote for the Asia Times. John dropped hints that he knew his real identity, including that he was a former Lyndon LaRouche disciple. In retrospect, I feel like Goldman had the better argument many times that John cited him to argue against him, but this is one time that Goldman seems off. I'm glad we avoided war with Iran in the years since 9/11, because that would have been stupid. The Iranian government isn't our friend at present, for reasons that may be partly our fault, but at least they never did any of the stupid things columnists were always saying they would do.


Hoax, War, Anger, Appeasement, Separation

 

The Great Hoax of 2006? Yes, we did in fact have lots of snow over the weekend here in the New York area. Most of it is still on the ground, and shows no immediate inclination to go away. Here is the Party Line on the event:

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- New Yorkers faced longer commutes, flight cancellations and train delays this morning after record weekend snowstorm that buried the East Coast from Virginia to Maine.

Yesterday's blizzard blanketed New York City with the heaviest snowfall in its history, following one of the warmest Januaries on record. About 26.9 inches (68.3 centimeters) of snow fell in New York Central Park, beating a December 1947 single-storm record of 26.4 inches, the National Weather Service said.

But how are we to reconcile that report with this account of the Blizzard of 1888?

The Great Blizzard of 1888 (March 11 – March 14, 1888) was one of the fiercest blizzards in United States recorded history, with snow drifts in excess of 50 feet (15 m). All across the eastern seaboard there were snow walls up to 50 inches (1.3 m) high.

The "Great White Hurricane," as it was called, paralyzed the East Coast of the United States from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine. Telegraph infrastructure was disabled, isolating New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. for days. Two hundred ships were grounded, and at least one hundred seamen died. Fire stations were immobilized, and property loss from fire alone was estimated at $25 million. One hundred people were killed in New York City alone and it is estimated 400 people died from the storm in all....The National Weather Service estimated that 50 inches (1.3 m) of snow fell in Connecticut and Massachusetts and 40 inches (1 m) covered New York and New Jersey.

That storm stayed in popular memory. I remember in the 1960s that it was still used as a benchmark for bad weather. In any case, how could a 26.9-inch storm be greater than a 40-inch storm? The Weather Service had been up and running for almost 20 years when the earlier storm occurred, so an official measurement was taken. For New York City, perhaps it was just taken in an unrepresentative place? Central Park already existed, though I don't know whether the measurements would have been taken there, as they are today.

The weather is all hype, if you ask me.

* * *

Spengler has been declaring war on Iran again, as we see from his latest at Asia Times:

If Washington were to deliver a military ultimatum to Iran tomorrow, the results would be a painful jump in oil prices, civil violence in Iraq, low-intensity war on Israel's northern border, and a wave of anti-Americanism in the Arab world - not an inviting picture.

But if Washington waits another year to deliver an ultimatum to Iran, the results will be civil war to the death in Iraq, the direct engagement of Israel in a regional war through Hezbollah and Hamas, and extensive terrorist action throughout the West, with extensive loss of American life. There are no good outcomes, only less terrible ones. The West will attack Iran, but only when such an attack will do the least good and the most harm.

This is pretty much the argument that the German General Staff was making after 1910: if they did not begin the long-anticipated general European War soon then they would lose it when it did happen. The argument for the war in Iraq was actually a bit different: there was no way to prosecute the War on Terror if all Iraq's neighbors knew that eventually the UN sanctions would be lifted and they would have to deal with a vengeful Baathist regime again. Furthermore, the invasion of Iraq was at least colorable under international law, since the regime had long been in violation of the ceasefire of 1991.

In the likely absence of UN authorization, the US really would need a whole new theory of legitimacy, which is precisely what has failed to gel since the Iraq invasion of 2003.

* * *

The European Union has no present intention of paying a tax of children to the Sublime Porte. At least we have assurances along those lines from Vice President Franco Frattini, EU Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security:

Finally, I have never suggested imposing a code of conduct on the press, it is up to the media themselves to self-regulate or not, and it is up to the media to formulate such a voluntary code of conduct if it is found necessary, appropriate and useful by them. There have never been, nor will there be any plans by the European Commission to have some sort of EU regulation, nor is there any legal basis for doing so.

The immediate occasion for these remarks was a report that the vice president had proposed creating a code of conduct for journalists to prevent anything like the Danish cartoon controversy from happening again. These issues are not unrelated, however.

* * *

Victor Davis Hanson is now bullish on Europe, or so one may gather from his latest at Real Clear Politics. He suggests that, in the immediate future, we may expect...

the same old public utopian rhetoric, but in the shadows a newfound desire to galvanize against the threat of Islamic fascism...First will come a radical departure from past immigration practices. Islam will be praised; the Middle East assured that Europe is tolerant—but very few newcomers from across the Mediterranean let in.

There will be continued public furor over the American efforts in Iraq, but far greater secret efforts to coordinate with the United States—in everything from isolating the Assad regime in Syria to rethinking missile defense...it may well be that many in private will now wish us to succeed, if only in the hopes that such Middle East democracies will be less likely in the future to turn loose their mobs to burn European embassies and threaten their citizens.

If nothing else, this suggests that the Cartoon Jihad has given NATO a new lease on life. That organization could provide the legitimacy needed to take out the Iranian nuke program, but perhaps at the cost of disengaging from the UN system.

* * *

Daniel Pipes is of similar mind at Frontpagemag. Like Tony Blankley in The West's Last Chance (read that book immediately, by the way), he now speaks not of a clash of civilizations, but of their disengagement:

What are the long-term consequences of the Muhammad cartoon furor? I predict it is helping bring on not a clash of civilizations but their mutual pulling apart. This separation, which has been building for years, has dreadful implications.

The areas of disengagement are these:

Trade (As in boycotts, mutual and proliferating)
Consumer items (I note that a bit of import substitution might do the Middle East good.)
Financial investments (Pipes sees oil money going to East Asia, but where, I wonder? India is less risky than China, but has its own issues with the Islamic world.)
Emigration (The Danes had already begun restricting immigration from the East before the current unpleasantness; we may expect the trend to spread.)
Tourism 
(I suppose anyone who visits the pyramids these days must really want to see them.
Embassies(Fewer of them)
Westerners providing services(Aid workers could become few and far between, if the treatment in the past few weeks of Western workers is any guide to the future.)

One may question whether real disengagement is possible, however.

* * *

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