Is Mark Steyn a girlie-man?

Mark Steyn concludes his latest article in the Spectator with the following:

The President has to be a terminator: he has to terminate regimes and structures that support Islamist terrorism. And, if every bigshot associated with the cause winds up like Uday and Qusay, the ideology will become a lot less fashionable. All these girlie-man options sound so reasonable, but they’re a fool’s evasion, an excuse to put off indefinitely the fights that have to be fought — in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere.

Girlie men are ‘men without chests’ — in the C.S. Lewis sense, rather than the Schwarzenegger one. I didn’t come up with this choice, nor did Arnold. The enemy did. As I wrote back in 2001, the Islamists have made a bet — that we’re too soft and decadent to see this through to the finish. This November, one way or another, they’ll get their answer.

The crux of his argument is that Democratic nominee John Kerry is no ‘terminator’; he is a ‘girlie-man’. But according to the second last paragraph, the President “has to terminate regimes and structures that support Islamist terrorism”.

What regimes would these be? Let’s add it all up, Afghanistan supported terror camps, and was invaded by the US under Bush. It allied itself with war lords and overthrew the Taleban regime. Now Steyn argues that had Kerry been President on September 11 that:

Saddam would still be in power, and so would the Taleban, and no doubt in the latter case, under an agreement brokered by Kerry special envoy Jimmy Carter, Washington would be bankrolling the regime in return for ‘pledges’ to ‘phase out’ the terrorist training camps. The senator gives no indication that he’s up to the challenges of the age.

Perhaps Steyn is being his usual facetious self, but I find the idea that any President after September 11 would not have invaded Afghanistan to be a ridiculous presumption. So too is the assumption that the invasion of Afghanistan was an entirely successful affair.

Lest we forget that Osama bin Laden was not captured, that large numbers of al-Qaeda fighters still roam freely in eastern Agfhanistan and inside Pakistan. And why did this happen? Was it ineptitude on the part of US forces? Under-deployment of resources? Underestimating the enemy? Whatever it was the facts speak for themselves, the number of troops deployed in the original home of al-Qaeda was and is too small. Perhaps it was Rumsfeld’s notions of small effective elite units, but whatever it was, Bush was unsuccessful in large parts of the campaign in Afghanistan, so was he really a terminator at all?

And if the President “has to terminate regimes and structures that support Islamist terrorism”, whither the terminator in Saudi Arabia? The home of most of the Sep 11 hijackers, the home of a large amount of militant Islamism. But no, in his efforts to terminate regimes that support Islamist terrorism he instead turned his attention to Iraq. Now some say, like Cheney, that Iraq did lots to help terrorism, that Saddam helped al-Qaeda. But as the Sep 11 Commission put it, this is not credible. Iraq had little or no support for Islamist terrorism, and almost certainly supported it less than many in Saudi Arabia, be it through financial or spiritual assistance, such as Wahabi schools or support through inaction.

So exactly how many regimes has Bush terminated? Well not many.

Take the UAE, a long time supporter of the Taleban regime, one of the only to recognise its governance of Afghanistan. It has barely figured in the war on terror, and yet it tacitly supported al-Qaeda and the Taleban, facilitating gold and cash transfers, arms shipments for al-Qaeda purportedly went through Sharjah airport near Dubai. The Zayed family have been relatively quiet on Bin Laden, and yet it is a regime that while known to facilitate terrorism, also facilitates hundreds of Western companies.

Steyn also seems the be under the impression that if you kill ‘bigshots’ like Uday and Qusay Hussein that Islamist ideology will become ‘a lot less fashionable’. What a curious remark. This neglects the fact that neither Uday or Qusay were Islamists of any real standing, or that killing ‘bigshots’ rather than making Islamists scared, actually might make them more determined or even a bit angry.

He notes:

All these girlie-man options sound so reasonable, but they’re a fool’s evasion, an excuse to put off indefinitely the fights that have to be fought — in Iran, North Korea and elsewhere.

So what exactly has Bush done about North Korea since he took office? Has he put it off indefinitely or has he confronted and ‘terminated’ that regime? What exactly has Bush done about Iran and its attempts to attain plutonium? Has this regime been terminated? And does Steyn honestly believe that with the US military stretched as much as it is that US forces could feasibly terminate either of these regimes? Does he believe the US can and should go it alone and terminate these regimes? Does he believe Bush is just waiting to send the troops in during his next term of office, or does he realise that the US can neither afford nor stomach ‘terminating’ North Korea or Iran.

Steyn continues with some other odd remarks.

With every year, the demographic changes in Europe render America’s old alliances more and more obsolescent.

So because Europe’s demographics are changing, older population, more immigrant workers including Muslims, and perhaps a looming pensions crisis, this means that the US-EU alliance is no longer worth anything? Surely the most pragmatic approach is not to abandon allies who’s Western Muslim populations are growing, but instead to engage with your allies? Would that not make more sense? Isolating would only lead to a further fracturing of not only US-EU trade, but in the future would lead to a fracturing of relations with what will be a very large Islamic population – especially with the entry of Turkey into the EU.

Yet more odd remarks from Steyn:

The Airbus 380 is a classic Eurostatist money pit, German law enforcement has been a huge flop against al-Qa’eda, and as for all the other fashionable projections of soft power, where are they? Europe wanted Kyoto: it’s dead. It wanted Saddam in office: he’s in jail. Right now cowboy Bush is leaving Sudan to the metrosexuals and what have they got to show for their projection of ‘soft power’? Tens of thousands of corpses that no amount of cologne will hide the smell of.

Airbus passed out Boeing in 2003 to become the world’s biggest commercial-aircraft maker. The A380 model has been ordered by several airlines, namely Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Malaysia Airlines, and is doing rather better than the Boeing 7E7. And as for ‘Statist’, who buys all those Boeing planes? The US government. As for ‘money-pit’:

EADS said net profits for the first half of 2004 came in at 387m euros ($466m ; £251m), up from a 66m euro loss in the same period last year. The figure comfortably outstripped the 319m euros pencilled in by forecasters. Sales were also higher, climbing to 14.5 billion euros from 13 billion last year, an increase of 12%.

The ‘Kyoto Protocol is dead’. Well perhaps it is to the US administration, or indeed to Mr. Steyn. But a quick look at the signatories (PDF), the numbers of governments that are attempting to implement the Protocol, I would say that calling it dead is stretching it just a bit too far. 189 countries ratified the Kyoto agreement. But then of course without the US involved it must be ‘dead’.

Europe wanted Saddam in office is like saying they wanted Bush in office. No they didn’t. I guess Europe just didn’t want countries invading other countries on the basis of not very much, and with some amount of scepticism that the US might be invading Iraq in order to restore the human rights of its citizens. I think their scepticism proved right, especially about WMD.

Right now cowboy Bush is leaving Sudan to the metrosexuals and what have they got to show for their projection of ‘soft power’? Tens of thousands of corpses that no amount of cologne will hide the smell of.

Does this passage lend weight to an opposing view of Steyn more than it does to Steyn’s own view? Firstly I am not so sure that Bush is leaving Sudan to the Europeans. Secondly it does not follow that 50,000 deaths in Sudan is the fault of Europeans more than it is the fault of the US or indeed the international community. And surely Bush ‘leaving Sudan to the metrosexuals’ is tantamount to being worse than using ‘soft power’, but actually doing nothing.

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