Brief comments on a stew of news items from abroad . . .
The latest National Intelligence Estimate concludes, contrary to what our esteemed spooks have been declaring for years, that Iran shuttered its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Whereupon the usual suspects went nuts with joy, proclaiming President Bush a liar again — as they insist he was about Saddam’s nukes and bio/chems. “See?” they said. “Iran’s mad Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn’t a bad guy after all.”
Two points: (1) The NIE is not known for its infallibility. Saddam’s WMDs — maybe. Another was the NIE’s 1962 take on of the likelihood of the Soviets sending missiles to Fidel’s Cuban paradise. At the time the NIE ruminated and declared that Soviet missiles in Cuba “would be incompatible with Soviet practice and with Soviet policy as we presently estimate it.” (2) The National Council for Resistance in Iran, which (a) opposes the regime and (b) first disclosed Iran’s nuclear-fuel program, says the nuclear weaponization program the regime shut down in 2003 was moved and restarted a year later — and remains fully in operation.
Question: In its ecstasy over the latest from the NIE, is the nation’s left apologizing and finding justifications for jihadists, Islamofascists and other such types seeking to do us harm? Indeed, does the left regard global terror as less to be deplored — and less to be feared — than George Bush?
How about all those elections? Recently victorious Nicholas Sarkozy restoring the shine to long-tarnished French-American relations. John Howard, Australia’s Ronald Reagan, gone after 11 years at the helm. Venezuela’s Castro comrade, Hugo Chavez, stunningly defeated at the polls in his own police state. (Why does boss Chavez draw so little global opprobrium from the sophisticates so ostentatiously outraged by Pakistan’s boss Musharraf?). Parliamentary elections a triumph for Russia’s bad Vlad Putin, with numbers recalling nothing quite so much as the bad old days of the hokeyed-up peoples democratic republics.
And in Russia, President Putin’s quick designation of his successor (Dmitry Medvedev), and Medvedev’s return of the favor with his invitation to Putin to be his prime minister. Such a development effectively would put two Russian presidents in the Kremlin, just as the election of Hillary Clinton effectively would put (with Bill) two U.S. presidents in the White House.
There’s great good news in the decision of Canada’s conservative government to protect 25 million acres in its vast Northwest Territories, including considerable portions of the planet’s largest intact boreal forest. The government of Stephen Harper has created a wilderness wildlife area (3.5 million acres), a national park (6.5 million acres), and a conservation area (15 million acres) comprising extensive lands near the Great Slave Lake and along the Mackenzie River. It’s all 11 times the size of Yellowstone.
These days Iraq also offers a sanguine scene, albeit of a far different sort — though you wouldn’t know it from many of those who have opposed our Iraqi enterprise from the beginning. Barack Obama, for instance, wanted to begin withdrawing troops last May, and have them all out by this March. In August, he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “All our top military commanders recognize that there is no military solution in Iraq.” That’s all commanders.
But the incumbent commanders in Iraq didn’t recognize any such thing. And now it becomes daily more obvious that our military effort — with indigenous political, religious and cultural gains — may be notching a win for the good guys. What’s so hard about admitting it?
In Britain, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has commissioned a 12-month review of the country’s National Health Service to learn why it lags behind most other developed countries in long-term medical outcomes. For example, as an editorial notes in Britain’s leading cancer journal, the Lancet Oncology: “(A five-year EUROCARE review finds) survival for gastric, colorectal, lung, breast, ovarian, kidney, and prostate cancer in England is lower than the European average.” Maybe Brown’s commission will answer the question as to why anyone thinks government-run medicine is better than that provided by the private sector.
Ditto broadcasting: What’s the public-interest good in government running the show — as with the government-operated British Broadcasting Corp.? An internal BBC commission has found (a) widespread failure “to promote proper debate on major political issues because of the inherent liberal culture of its staff,” as well as (b) “a tendency to ‘group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone.” As with medicine, so with broadcasting: Tell government to get out of the way.