Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kristof and Consensus of 'Experts' Evade Facts about Iranian Regime

By Joseph Kellard
In a recent op-ed, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof cited an alleged “consensus” of foreign policy “experts” who believe it would be “abominable” at this time for Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.

Among those whom Kristof quotes is W. Patrick Lang, a former head of Middle East affairs for the Defense Intelligence Agency: “Unless you’re so far over on the neocon side that you’re blind to geopolitical realities, there’s an overwhelming consensus that this is a bad idea.”

Echoing the broader points of these “experts,” Kristof writes that a military attack would set back Iran’s nuclear program no more than three years while escalating Muslims’ anger toward Israel and America and possibly inspiring Iran to sponsor attacks on American targets. He believes we should wait for economic sanctions against Iran to “work” — but toward what ultimate end he does not say.

Kristof concludes:
So as we hear talk about military action against Iran, let’s be clear about one thing. Outside Netanyahu’s aides and a fringe of raptors, just about every expert thinks that a military strike at this time would be a catastrophically bad idea. That’s not a debate, but a consensus.

Observe that while Kristoff treats a consensus of security wonks as akin to an unquestionable axiom that renders all debate on the matter irrelevant, he downplays or evades the essential facts about the Islamist regime that warrant its immediate destruction. While Kristof and company support another round of toothless sanctions, the ruling mullahs and ayatollahs in Iran continue their more than 30-year campaign of terrorizing, maiming, and murdering Americans, hundreds if not thousands, from Beirut to Saudi Arabia to Iraq to Afghanistan. Just this month, security services in Azerbaijan arrested twenty-two people who reportedly were trained and hired by Iran to carry out terrorist attacks against U.S. and Israeli embassies and British oil company BP.

The State Department is aware of decades of such efforts, which is why it annually places Iran on the top of its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

For security experts and politicians in Washington to advocate mere sanctions against the Iranian regime is to relinquish their moral and professional responsibility to protect Americans against a deadly enemy.

By any rational standard, it is time to destroy not only Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, but also the Iranian regime itself. If the U.S. government is too irrational to do anything about it, the least we can do is not dissuade the Israelis from acting for their survival.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

North Korea’s “National Script”: Yet Another Fair Warning

By Joseph Kellard
While reading an interview with novelist Adam Johnson as he described his experiences in North Korea, I was struck by how closely his characterization of life under the communist dictatorship paralleled that of an Iinternet aquaintance who once told me of the bleak and automoton-like existence of its inhabitants. In my second post for The Objective Standard's blog, I touch on the ideas that lead to this horrible state of being.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Is 'Johnny U' for You?

Tom Callahan's biography on a legendary quarterback offers inspiration even for the non-sports fan.

By Joseph Kellard

On Super Bowl Sunday, Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts will once again don the same white helmet with blue horseshoes that another star quarterback wore in a championship game nearly 50 years ago. I draw this timely parallel simply to recommend a biography that matches its hype.

Tom Callahan’s Johnny U: The Life and Times of Johnny Unitas is conversational-style account of the legendary Baltimore Colts quarterback, based on interviews with Unitas’s teammates, opponents, friends and relatives, and captures the essence of a man many consider the greatest to ever play his position.

Sports fans or anyone eager to encounter an admirable individual should read “Johnny U,” if only for the examples of his famous “cool,” both on and off the field, and particularly while under pressure — a product of his quiet confidence. One of the Hall of Famer’s college coaches from Louisville, on a team that fell to 1-8 one season, said of Unitas: “Losing didn’t kill his self-confidence … He was the most confident person — confident in his own ability — that I ever met, that I think anyone ever met.”

In part, Unitas’s confidence and abilities grew out of his dedication to the game, a quality that Callahan highlights. “Every week, John sat and watched both [televised games: the Bears and the Browns],” a Louisville teammate recalled. “‘C’mon, it’s a beautiful day, let’s go out,’ I’d say. ‘No, I have to see the games.’ ‘You mean to tell me that after practicing all week, after sitting through all the meetings, after playing every single down of every single game, you still haven’t had enough football?’ ‘Nope.’ None of the rest of us knew exactly what we wanted to be. He did.”

Unitas’s renowned work ethic was embodied best in his relationship with his top receiver, Raymond Berry. Even after team practices the duo routinely worked together on mastering their pass-and-catch precision and on two-minute drills that proved invaluable in big spots.

“Johnny U” also shines a light on both Unitas’s exceptional football smarts and leadership, exemplified by an ability to tap his vast memory bank to call plays on his own like no other quarterback before him.

“You couldn’t outthink Unitas,” said Sam Huff, a New York Giants defenseman. “When you thought run, he passed. When you thought pass, he ran. When you thought conventional, he was unconventional. When you tried thinking in reverse, he double-reversed. It made me dizzy ... We were one of the greatest defensive teams ever put together ... But we didn’t have a defense for Unitas.”

A critique of “Johnny U” that I encountered is that Callahan failed to dig deeper and answer more questions about Unitas’s private and family life. Certainly another outstanding biography, When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’s take on legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi, is heavy on such details. Yet that book still managed to detour from a road most modern biographers like to travel. A road on which all sorts of non-essential, often-unsubstantiated claims about a subject are made and blow up in an alleged attempt to make the subject more “human,” or the biography more “balanced.” But dig deeper into the biographer’s motives and you’ll often find he was determined to find feet of clay on his admirable or heroic subject.

Instead, Callahan opted to focus on what is most relevant about his subject, or any individual’s life: his productive abilities, his profession, his career. This value primarily drives our purpose in life and can, above all else, reveal a man’s core. In “Johnny U,” Callahan shows us a man who essentially loved his work and performed it exceedingly well and with shining confidence, particularly on the grandest stages.

In 1958, Unitas and the Colts defeated Huff and the Giants in the NFL championship, later dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” In this classic, first-ever overtime battle, Unitas commanded a two-minute, game-tying march downfield and an 80-yard, game-winning drive that became signature innovations of his quarterback play. The game generated unprecedented television ratings that catapulted the pro game in popularity on a par with Major League Baseball.

Immediately after winning his first pro championship, Unitas simply
turned and walked off the field. “You weren’t going to see him jump up and down,” said one teammate. “He didn’t have to do that. It was one of the best things about him.”

* This review was originally written and posted January 31, 2007. I did some minor editing to the original.