Friday, June 11, 2004


British blogger Oliver Kamm is a moderate Leftist who supports the Iraq war -- much like his Prime Minister. In his postings of 7th he has an interesting survey of the claim that Ronald Reagan turned into a peacenik in the latter part of his Presidency. The claim is not as ridiculous as it seems. Reagan definitely did have the very idealistic aim of de-nuclearizing the world. And he went close to achieving it. He and Gorbachev at Reykjavik actually agreed to scrap all nuclear weapons on both sides. It was only Reagan's refusal to scrap his missile defence program that scuppered the agreement. And it may also be noted that Reagan was no warmonger. The overseas military operations he initiated were tiny compared to what his three successors as President have done and tiny compared to the great but fumbled intervention in Vietnam. Reagan's concentration was on building up American strength at home rather than on intervening abroad.

Like various others in that small subsection of the Left which takes a genuine interest in reality, Kamm takes all this as evidence that Reagan was as much a Leftist as a Rightist. That shows very little understanding of conservatism, however, and of American conservatism in particular. Reagan's "America first" strategy is in fact a good example of the isolationism that ruled among American conservatives right up until Sept. 11, 2001. American conservatives have always wanted to let the rest of the world to go to hell in its own way and it was DEMOCRAT presidents that got America into both world wars, Korea and Vietnam. America has to be under serious threat for American conservatives to take any notice of the rest of the world at all. It was only Saddam's serious threat to oil supplies that got George Bush Senior into the first Gulf war and he pulled out as soon as that threat was removed. It was only when 9/11 showed beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt that America was under serious and lasting threat from implacable Islamic hatred that George Bush II began his interventions in the Islamic world.

And Reagan's refusal at Reyjavik to abandon missile defence is a perfect example of conservatism. Whatever else it may be, conservatism from Burke onwards has been cautious and Reagan's desire to have a defence in case nuclear disarmament did not completely succeed was clearly caution -- and caution that he rigorously insisted on above all else. There was nothing in that of the unilateral disarmament nonsense that the peaceniks of the Left were always preaching at that time. As always, of course, Reagan himself summed it up best in his well-known maxim: "Trust but verify". There was idealism there indeed: Very high ideals. But it was never allowed to overcome good conservative caution.

In the end, however Kamm does arrive at an essential insight: "My own interpretation of this idiosyncratic record is that, having established his anti-Communist credentials, Reagan's 'soft diplomacy' approach worked well at exactly the time it was needed. It was puzzling, but effective, and probably no one else could have done it". In other words, Reagan was no rigid ideologue. Ideals are not ideology. Ideology and grand theories are for Leftists. Conservatives are pragmatic and flexible. Conservatives have ideals but in pursuing those ideals they go by what works. And our Ron showed that flexibility and pragmatism to brilliant effect.



Keith Burgess-Jackson had a post recently which questioned why people say "It was meant to be" or "It happened for a reason". Such expressions appear to be versions of the original Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which was a founding doctrine of the Presbyterian Church and which is also given guarded approval in the 39 "Articles of Religion" of the Church of England (See article 17). The puzzle, then, is not that Christians believe it but that others do. "It was meant to be" was certainly a common expression in my generally irreligious but nominally Protestant family as I was growing up and, on occasions when it was particularly heartfelt, it would be expanded to: "It was all laid down long before we were ever thought of". And I know many other people of Protestant background but only the vaguest of personal religious convictions who make similar utterances with some regularity. Why? Does it really indicate religious belief? I don't think that it always does. When I ask people "who laid it down?" or "who meant it to be?", I not infrequently get a denial that it was the doing of God. What I think happens among unbelievers is that they perceive a non-random patterning of events in their lives and instinctively feel that there are unknown forces or influences at work (generally beneficial ones) which have brought that patterning about. It reflects a sense that something was inevitable for some reason or at least part of a larger whole. I myself have never had the slightest twitch of predestinarian thinking or feeling but many good and wise people certainly see such patterning in their lives all the time.



Now how did THEY get there? "UN experts have found 20 engines used in Iraqi Al Samoud 2 missiles in a Jordanian scrap yard, along with other equipment that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction".

This story of social worker Fascism should alarm every parent. They are now saying that it is child abuse if you do not give unruly children psychiatric drugs! They are getting more intrusive and dictatorial by the day.

China Hand has a post up about the state of motor racing in China today. He thinks that they still have a lot to learn. China Hand was something of a sportscar racer himself in his youth. He and I and a certain journalistic person shared a house in Sydney at the time. I was the only one of the three who was not a car-buff. I have a very utilitarian view of cars. When (around 1970) I bought myself a new Mazda 1300 -- a small, cheap Japanese car -- my purchase was greeted with some derision and my explanations of the virtues of the vehicle were scorned. The favourite magazine of the other two at the time was Australia's leading car magazine -- called "Wheels". When the next edition of "Wheels" came out however, it named its "Car of the Year". Which was? The Mazda 1300! So what did the others do to cope with this calamitous event? They hid the magazine so that I wouldn't find out! It was only years later that they owned up. Fun!

There is a rather delightful advertisement here that is not allowed to be put up near British mosques. One of my female readers comments: "If it will offend enough of them perhaps it should be displayed prominently near all mosques. It may even encourage them to decide it is better to go back home. Or perhaps it could be used at Abu Ghraib for further torture - only 4 not 72 and probably not vestal!"

I liked this comment about the BBC from a French blogger: (post of May 12th) "Can somebody please inform Sebastian Usher from the Ba'athist Broadcast Corporation that Islamist means by definition radical follower of Islam and that consequently, writing with insistence "radical Islamist" is nothing but a tiresome exercise in redundancy?.. it's as superfluous as associating 'collectivist' with 'Communists'... or 'corrupt' with 'French politician'."

Good news for Australia's conservative government: "Australia's unemployment rate fell to a 23-year low in May, despite a surprising fall in the number of people in work during the month."

This new Anti-Chomsky site is good at exposing the sly deceptions of our Noam -- a man who uses his undoubtedly great cleverness to obscure the truth rather than reveal it: The ultimate intellectual prostitute. And, as with prostitution generally, it pays him well.

For more postings, see GREENIE WATCH and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH. Mirror sites here and here


Leftism is more popular with young people than with older people largely because Leftism is itself juvenile: They criticize what they don't understand. Which makes it ironic that "We know best" and "It's for your own good" are the basic Leftist messages. Leftists have never outgrown the simplistic thinking or the arrogance that are the characteristic limitations of youth

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