Give War a Chance

Since I wrote last week’s piece about the current fighting in Gaza, I have read several stories, and have had several thoughts on the subject.  I will now try to compose a follow-up to the previous message; if it sounds rather disjointed, hopefully you’ll understand why.

I will begin with two bits of good news from my favorite Israeli source, Arutz Sheva.  First, an Israeli company has discovered a natural gas deposit under the Mediterranean, between Israel and Cyprus.  The size of the deposit is estimated at 3.1 trillion cubic feet, meaning it contains roughly as much energy as 516 million barrels of oil.   This could be a big deal for a country as small as Israel.  And where geologists find gas, there’s usally crude oil as well.  Hmmm, does this mean that countries which depend on OPEC for their energy needs, especially Europe, will become friendlier toward the Jewish state, if only to buy gas?

Israel Discovers Gas!

The other story reminds us that there is still justice, though sometimes it has to come in the form of “an act of God.”  An Arab teenager was killed when he threw a rock at an Israeli car, and the rock bounced off a tire and hit him on the head!

Eye for an Eye:  Arab Attacker Killed by his Own Rock

Here is a video my brother sent me a link to, where an Israeli officer shows how the Hamas “human shields” policy works:

In the Jewish World Review, one article speculates on what might have happened, if the Palestinians had turned Gaza into a beach resort rather than a launching pad for their rockets:

The Gaza Riviera

And finally, I read an article by Gunnar Heinsohn, a European sociologist, which looks at the demographics behind Palestinian terrorism.  I mentioned Heinsohn in a couple of webpages on The Xenophile Historian; he suggested, based on the number of artifacts found, that Neanderthal Man only dominated Europe for sixty years, not for sixty thousand years as most believe.

Ending the West’s Proxy War Against Israel

And here’s the best part of the last article, which puts the numbers in perspective:

In such “youth bulge” countries, young men tend to eliminate each other or get killed in aggressive wars until a balance is reached between their ambitions and the number of acceptable positions available in their society. In Arab nations such as Lebanon (150,000 dead in the civil war between 1975 and 1990) or Algeria (200,000 dead in the Islamists’ war against their own people between 1999 and 2006), the slaughter abated only when the fertility rates in these countries fell from seven children per woman to fewer than two. The warring stopped because no more warriors were being born.

In Gaza, however, there has been no demographic disarmament. The average woman still bears six babies. For every 1,000 men aged 40-44, there are 4,300 boys aged 0-4 years. In the U.S. the latter figure is 1,000, and in the U.K. it’s only 670.

And so the killing continues. In 2005, when Israel was still an occupying force, Gaza lost more young men to gang fights and crime than in its war against the “Zionist enemy.” Despite the media’s obsession with the Mideast conflict, it has cost many fewer lives than the youth bulges in West Africa, Lebanon or Algeria. In the six decades since Israel’s founding, “only” some 62,000 people (40,000 Arabs, 22,000 Jews) have been killed in all the Israeli-Arab wars and Palestinian terror attacks. During that same time, some 11 million Muslims have been killed in wars and terror attacks — mostly at the hands of other Muslims.

Meanwhile, I hear that in Gaza, the two sides have agreed to a temporary cease-fire.  Of course, we know that a cease-fire is not the end of the fighting, but only a pause; in both Hebrew and Arabic the word cease-fire means, “reload!”  And as if to prove the point, the Palestinians have fired another rocket or two into southern Israel already.

When are the Israelis going to learn, that all these cease-fires are not in their best interests?  Especially when the terms of peace are defined by the enemy.  For this situation, there is something better than peace, and that’s victory.  The Arabs, especially the Palestinians, won’t leave them alone until they are beaten so badly that they realize they cannot win.  It also has to be a defeat that will completely discredit the Islamofascist ideology, especially its creepy death-worshipping cult.  Consider a World War II analogy:  does anyone seriously think that Germany, Italy and Japan would be peaceful, respectable trading partners today, if we hadn’t hammered on them until they agreed to unconditional surrender?  Would descendants of the Nazis and the Japanese militarists still be in charge of the Axis countries today, if we had agreed to a cease-fire after a bloody battle like Kursk or Tarawa, giving them time to rest and recover?

Half-hearted, on-and-off conflicts may be all right for someone like Prime Minister Olmert, who doesn’t really think Israel deserves to win, but they won’t end the threat of rocket and terrorist attacks, nor will the Arabs get tired of trying to eliminate Israel.  With Gaza, for example, there is a three-hour timeout every day, when Israel allows food, medical supplies and other essentials to cross battle lines.  Has that happened anywhere else, since the age of chivalry ended?  If the Israelis are serious about making a truly safe haven for Jews in the Promised Land, they’ll have to put the squeeze on the Palestinians so bad that their only options are to surrender or get out of the way.  Then, if the Israelis are too squeamish to get rid of Hamas, the pressure exerted may be enough to make the Palestinians get rid of Hamas for them.

Along this line, I just heard a variation on a well-known verse about the Holocaust:

First they came for the liberal Jewish professors, but I was not a liberal Jewish professor, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the media-activist Jews, but I was not a media activist Jew, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the self-hating Jews who had supported them, but I was not a self-hating Jew, so I did not speak up.

Then they came for the gun-owning conservative Jews, and that’s when I shot them.

Let’s see, the Israelis want peace, while we know that Hamas, thanks to the “Pallywood” propaganda industry, likes dead Palestinians even more than dead Israelis.  It should be possible to work out an agreeable solution.


A Bicentennial and a Pretender

If you’re a US citizen, you know that today, the third Monday in January, is when Americans commemorate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  However, I just learned what else happened on this day; January 19 is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe, the famous author.  We’re only two and a half weeks away from the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, so let the record show that we’ve got more than one bicentennial taking place in 2009.  I wonder what Poe’s reaction would be if somebody told him his horror stories are still being read today?

Yesterday I read a review of a book entitled The Man Who Believed He Was King of France: A True Medieval Tale.  You can read the review at .  Myself, I hadn’t heard this story before, so I did a bit of research, and found the details interesting enough to add a couple of paragraphs, to Chapter 9 of my European history papers.  First, in the section on the beginning of the Hundred Years War, here is what made it possible for a pretender to appear:

In the early fourteenth century, there were several disputes between London and Paris: the two kings had argued and fought over French territory on the Continent; both nations had pirates in the English Channel; the French gave military aid to Scotland, England’s perennial problem to the north; both sides competed to control the wool market in Flanders. The main issue, however, was the confusing relationship between the English and French kings, now brought to the forefront because of the extinction of the French royal family, the Capetians. Philip IV’s eldest son and successor, Louis X, only ruled for two years (1314-16), and when he died he left behind a pregnant queen and a daughter named Jeanne. The French were not willing to give the throne to a female, so the king’s Great Council took charge and waited to see if the queen’s baby would be a boy or a girl. It was a boy, and he is known to history books as either John I or John Posthumous. Unfortunately for the French, the infant king died five days later. The throne now passed to two short-lived brothers of Louis X: Philip V (1316-22) and Charles IV (1322-28). Neither one of them left a male heir, so with the death of Charles IV, the French picked a cousin, Philip of the House of Valois, and crowned him Philip VI. However, England’s Edward III was a closer relative of the Capetians; his mother was a sister of Louis X, Philip V and Charles IV, making Edward a grandson of Philip the Fair. Now Edward put forth his own claim for the French crown. To the lions on his royal coat of arms he added the French fleur-de-lis.

Then, later in the same paper, I told about the pretender himself:

The anarchy caused by the Jacquerie allowed a pretender to appear. When the rest of Europe heard about John II’s capture, a merchant in Siena, Giannino di Guccio Baglioni, announced that he was he was the rightful king of France, John I. According to his story, it was not John the infant king that died forty years earlier, but the baby in the cot next to him; to keep John safe, the babies were switched and the living one was smuggled to Italy. Now Giannino announced his own claim to the French throne, though the only evidence he had for it was the fact that he was born at the same time as the real John. He got financial backing from a Jewish merchant in Venice, and after a fruitless trip to Hungary, he produced fake letters claiming that the Hungarian king backed him, too. Next he went to Avignon, but Pope Innocent VI wanted nothing to do with this business. The 1360 treaty between England and France left enough mercenaries unemployed for Giannino to recruit them as a small private army, but with King John II back, the opportunity to replace him had also passed. Instead of marching on Paris, Giannino was captured in Provence, and died in the pope’s prison less than a year later.

The Media Needs Proofreaders More Than Ever

Am I just catching more spelling and grammatical errors in print as I get older (an important part of my current job), or is the current generation of reporters doing sloppier work than their predecessors used to do?  It’s probably both factors.  Last Friday I read an article in the Telegraph, where the author, like myself, feels that historians will be kinder on the presidency of George W. Bush than the mainstream media.  Quote:

The American lady who called to see if I would appear on her radio programme was specific. “We’re setting up a debate,” she said sweetly, “and we want to know from your perspective as a historian whether George W Bush was the worst president of the 20th century, or might he be the worst president in American history?”

“I think he’s a good president,” I told her, which seemed to dumbfound her, and wreck my chances of appearing on her show.

Unquote:  You can read the rest of the article at , if you wish.

Anyway, did you catch the mistake in the above excerpt?  George W. Bush cannot be the worst president of the twentieth century, because he was not president in the twentieth century.  His father was a twentieth-century president, but technically, the twenty-first century began on January 1, 2001, nineteen days before Dubya entered the White House.  Have the reporters already forgotten the Clinton presidency, which was there during the transition between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries?  I certainly remember those years; my former pastor in Florida once referred that administration as “sex between the Bushes!”  Therefore George Bush the Younger is not even the first president of the twenty-first century.

Gosh, you’d think the reporters would get it right, after folks like myself pointed out that millennial celerations on January 1, 2000 were a year too early.  Do they really forget recent history that easily?

Any Landing You Can Walk Away From is a Good Landing

This morning it was 2 degrees below zero F., and the highest it got today was +13.  It may have gotten colder when my family lived in Connecticut, nearly forty-five years ago, but I’m too young to remember, so I may call this the coldest day in my life.  My biggest concern was car trouble on the way to work, but the Buick behaved almost flawlessly again; the only trouble was at one intersection early in my commute, when the engine for an instant threatened to stall.  Others weren’t so lucky, though.  I heard on the radio about a hundred homes losing power, and when I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, parked near my car was another car that wouldn’t start, so the driver had to wait for a ride from her family.  The thermometer will start to rise again tomorrow, but I don’t expect it to go above freezing until Tuesday, at least.

Meanwhile, it’s colder in New York.  By now you’ve probably heard yesterday’s news about the US Air jet that ran into trouble immediately after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, when some Canada geese went into both engines, forcing the plane down into the Hudson River.  The plane managed to land without breaking up, except for the engines coming off, and stayed afloat long enough for everybody to get off.  Even more amazing, of the 155 passengers and crew, everybody survived.  Let the record show that this was the first airliner in the United States to crash in nearly two and a half years, after we had our own tragedy at Bluegrass Airport with Comair Flight 5191, and that the commercial aviation industry hasn’t had a single fatality for the same amount of time.

Most of the credit goes to the pilot, of course, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, for getting the plane down in nearly one piece.  His background reads like the story of a hero in fiction, not a real-life character:  four decades of experience flying military and civilian aircraft, founder of a company specializing in flight safety, and he even flies gliders as a hobby; the latter skill sure came in handy yesterday, when he had to land without engines.  He was definitely the right man in the right place at the right time.  I also hear that when he brought the plane down, he missed the George Washington Bridge, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, by just 900 feet; imagine the destruction if he had hit one of those landmarks.  Finally, like the captain on a sinking ship, he was the last to leave the plane, going all through the cabin twice to make sure nobody had been left behind.  The new year isn’t three weeks old, and this may be the most inspiring story for all of 2009.  After all the bad news about the economy and corrupt politicians, we needed a story like this!  Folks are already calling it the “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Credit also has to go to the prompt response of the ferryboats and tugs in the Hudson.  They surrounded the plane even before the rescue crews arrived, handing out life preservers and taking some of the passengers aboard.  We saw similar acts of unselfishness on September 11, 2001 and with the blackout of August 2003; too bad it takes disasters like this for us to see New Yorkers at their best.

As bad as things seem in today’s world, don’t write it off — at least not yet.

Another Celebrity Trifecta

First, a bit of old business that I forgot to tell you sooner.  Last Tuesday, our parrot finally said something that made sense, but this time I wish he hadn’t.  When I got home from work, Brin-Brin started growling as I walked in the door, so I said, “Come on, Brin-Brin, aren’t you happy to see me?”  And Brin-Brin said, “No-o-o-o!”


This was another day where the high temperature came in the pre-dawn hours, and it just got colder after that.  I had little trouble getting to work; so far, so good.  The car behaved all right, despite being outside all night, and while there was snow blowing around in the morning, at least it was a “dry snow.”  And not much traffic, because school was closed in many counties, though not in Lexington itself.  Tonight’s the real test, so I broke out the humidifers we had stored away in the closets.  How will we fare if the temperature goes all the way down to zero?

A couple of years ago, I heard that celebrities die in groups of three.  In the last week of that year, it was James Brown (“the King of Soul”), former President Gerald Ford, and Saddam Hussein.  Now it has happened again, sort of.  This morning I heard the obituaries of two famous actors, Ricardo Montalban ( 88 ) and Patrick McGoohan (80).  Montalban is best known for the TV show “Fantasy Island,” and you may have also seen him on Star Trek as Khan Noonien Singh, a genetically engineered superman who became Captain Kirk’s implacable foe.  Well, now I’d like to know from him how much Heaven has in common with “Fantasy Island.”  McGoohan is mainly known for the combination spy thriller-science fiction series “The Prisoner,” where he was simply called “Number Six”; I also remember him for a Disney minseries, “The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh,” where he played a Robin Hood-type character in eighteenth-century England.  Now he has escaped the Village at last.


I haven’t heard of a third physical death yet, but you might want to count the current White House administration; George W. Bush gave the last speech of his presidency on TV this evening.  Let’s see if this cold weather continues until Inauguration Day, the way it did for Jimmy Carter in 1977.  The public needs to be reminded that they have elected a president, not a messiah, and a good winter storm will humble the politician who promised that ocean levels would stop rising if he was elected.

Going For O

Just an update to yesterday’s message.  I’m now hearing that the Arctic wind headed our way is even colder than the weathermen expected.  Now they’re saying it could reach zero on Thursday night (not counting the wind-chill factor), and this is Kentucky’s coldest winter in five years.  I went and put some more antifreeze in my car; hopefully I won’t have any problem starting it on Thursday and Friday.  The good news is that not much snow or ice is expected in the forecast; that’s what the locals are really scared of.