Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The Australia Plot

I read a disturbing piece on Power Line concerning John Kerry's sister's exploits in Australia. Power Line cites an article by Katherine Mangu-Ward of the Weekly Standard. It seems "Sister Kerry" is working overtime down under to undermine the re-election bid of Prime Minister John Howard, a major supporter of the US war on terror. As a Power Line contributor notes, a defeat of Howard would almost certainly mean the withdrawal of Australian troops from the coalition. This would be a major setback, not only to President Bush politically, but also to the military effort. Aside from the stalwart Brits, the Aussies are the next most capable and among the most enthusiastic supporters. I am hoping the Bush campaign is paying the requisite attention to this scheme. There is a strong possibility that the world could witness another victory for terrorists, much like they engineered with the Spanish election. GOP operatives: are you watching these developments?

Monday, September 27, 2004

French Goods and Services

I must admit, I have traveled through France and found much to like. As the English say, France would be a great country if you removed the French people. France is one of the few countries that possesses great beaches, cities, skiing, history, art, food, etc. All is not lost, though. In this global economy, there are plenty of alternatives to French goods and services.

Planning a ski trip? Many places rival or surpass the French Alps. Val d'Isere is world class, but so is Vail, Colorado and Park City, Utah. Some might argue that Canada is not much better an ally than France, but at least they are not worse. Whistler, British Columbia is hard to ignore. On the continent, I enjoyed St. Anton in Austria. Great village, tough terrain, and lots of off-piste.

Play tennis? There are so many manufacturers that there is ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO EVEN CONSIDER A FRENCH BRAND. Avoid the frogs' Babolat rackets and Tecnifibre strings.

Need some tools? Skip S-K brand. They used to be an American company but are owned by the French. For similar money, consider Stanley, Proto, Blackhawk, Craftsman, or if you've got the cash, Mac or Snap-on tools. All excellent quality, many made in America, and by American companies.

I shouldn't even have to mention French wine. Given the variety and quality of wine around the world, there is no need to patronize French wine. It is one of their biggest industries, and avoiding French wine truly hits them where it hurts. Australia, Chile, and of course the USA have been producing great wine for years. South Africa and other upstarts likewise produce notable wines.

More ideas to come. Please feel free to add your suggestions.

*. U. N. *

One of my favorite stories from the war in Iraq involves French surveillance jets co-located with US and British combat aircraft. In the days leading up to the start of combat in Iraq, Chirac's intransigence and treachery reached new heights, and the tension was palpable on our base. American and British aircrews would fly their missions, while the French sat idly by drinking their contraband alcohol in their mini "Cafe Paris." I refused to set foot in that building, though I did consider leaving a "steamer" on top of their bar. Unbelievably, the French still had access to the joint command center, and they used this access to transmit classified information to the enemy. They were rightfully ejected from the command bunker for about six days, if I recall, but inexplicably regained access privileges afterwards. It boggles the mind. The idle French jets on the flight line had the letters "U. N." painted on their fuselages, indicating their mission to monitor Iraq in conjunction with existing U. N. resolutions. A few enterprising British engineers conducted a late-night, covert mission to paint a 'C' and a 'T' on either end of the big UN letters, but were unfortunately caught by security. It would have been the ultimate coup.

BOYCOTT FRANCE

It is impossible to hold strong political views without recognizing the economic basis of political events. American consumer spending is a driving force in the world economy. I believe it should be wielded for maximum effect. While on a micro level, you might be personally better off purchasing the cheapest items available that are made in China, what would be the macro effect of all Americans doing the same? Given the right information, buying American can make both economic and political sense. France is the most deserving target of a consumer boycott. It burns me up to think of the French stabbing us in the back while they profit from the sacrifices of our troops. They are the ultimate "free riders". Americans can punish French treachery by voting with their wallets. By all accounts, it is already happening. Tourism in France is down, and I've read that the French were forced to turn thousands of barrels of Beaujolais into vinegar due to slumping demand. Some day I hope to establish a web site focused solely on buying American and boycotting France, but for now, I will settle for highlighting French products to avoid and American products to patronize.

WMDs in Syria?

Many observers seem to agree that Saddam likely hid any WMDs in Syria or other neighboring countries. However, the argument never seems to get beyond mere speculation. I had the privilege of serving in (and coming back in one piece from) Operation Iraq Freedom from the beginning of the war. In fact, my unit, like many others, arrived in theater well prior to the start of combat. It is no military secret that hundreds, if not thousands, of vehicles transited from Iraq to Syria -- before and during the war. Afterwards I can't say. I would like to believe that our intelligence and special forces were closely monitoring such traffic, but the sheer volume and continuous flow makes me wonder whether this was even possible. My gut feeling is that even if we "had the goods" on Syria, our overextended military commitments leave us in no position to follow through on such information.

Welcome to Dollar Diplomacy

A few forces combined to get me started posting my own blog. I welcome your comments.

First among my motivations is my interest in the 2004 presidential election, which is truly a watershed event in history that will define the shape of civilization. We cannot waver against an enemy that seeks to destroy our way of life. The civilized world needs to acknowledge that our war is a war against militant Islam. Politicians are incapable of verbalizing this fact, just as they are incapable of voicing the need to control illegal immigration, or the necessity of overhauling social security. It is up to the educated and sentient American public to demonstrate the resolve needed to win such complex battles.

The Rathergate scandal prompted me to investigate the so-called "blogs" that had suddenly gained so much notoriety. I was quite impressed by the scope of subjects covered by various blogs, as well as by the insightful commentary. Like most Americans, I'd wager, I believe that the mainstream media has long been dominated by liberals. That's why traditional media outlets are up in arms at the surging popluarity of Fox News. I'm also a fan of Fox and a frequent viewer of The O'Reilly Factor. From what I've read so far, the blogs take the best elements of Fox/O'Reilly and substantially elevate the level of discourse and analysis. In short, I am impressed by what I found.

Until now, my main outlet for venting my political views has been on the BBC's 'Have Your Say' message boards. However, I quickly became frustrated by the Beeb's lopsided editorial approach. BBC editors routinely publish poorly written letters stating simplistic views and containing extensive grammatical and spelling errors. Many echo the refrain that "the US must address the root cause of terrorsists", or "the US must leave Iraq immediately." My carefully crafted letters expressing an American point of view never seem to get published. In fact, few letters reflecting a patriotic American's point of view ever seem to make it on the BBC web page.

Finally, I am a true believer in voting with your wallet. In this vein, I advocate boycotting France and other nations that deliberately sabotage our foreign policy, all the while benefiting as a "free rider.". While I also believe in free trade, I believe it is important to maintain some manufacturing in the US. American companies can and do produce many world-class products at competitive prices. Other things being equal, I think an American should buy American. To paraphrase an idea I read recently, there is more to life than buying products at the lowest possible price. I plan to highlight well-made and smartly-priced American products. I will point out common products made in France, as well as good alternatives to such products. The French can hate America all they want, but there must be a price for their treachery. That's where Americans and our wallets come in.

This should be a fun experiment to record my daily rantings on world events. If I can manage to help chip away at the influence of the liberal mainstream media, that will be an added bonus.