Thursday, March 30, 2006

Palace Cobra on the Scene

Got an email this morning from an old friend telling me that his copy of Palace Cobra had arrived--a week ahead of the scheduled official release date.

Checked with the publisher and they confirmed that the book had been shipped to a lot of stores and distribution accounts and they were selling and delivering on pre-publication orders as soon as they received them.

For folks who've been waiting, I'm very happy to announce that the book is finally on the scene.

Palace Cobra at

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Taking It To The Streets

We might be demonstrating for all of the world to see that we are finally and irretrievably beyond the capacity for democratic government. We seem incapable of grappling with complex issues or even proposing viable solutions to our problems. Those who should be crafting answers to the issues are more interested in pandering to the potential electorate, thus insuring their continued incumbency. Meanwhile the citizenry, those who are given the task of offering meaningful input to the elected officials, are proving themselves too ignorant to be relevant. That sounds harsh and it is meant to be.

Yesterday the future voters of the Dallas area poured out of their high schools and middle schools in outrage over proposals to deal with the question of illegal immigrants in America. Ditto for LA, Phoenix and other cities. Yes, these kids were getting involved in the issues—yeah, right. They were simply taking a day off of school for a street party. Students Hit the Bricks

In Dallas, they stormed City Hall. It seemed to be beyond their understanding of our federal system of government that metro government was not making these policy decisions. They were outraged that something was being done by somebody that somehow might mean something at some time in the future to someone they know. They were mad as hell and simply wouldn’t take it any longer. And in the process they cut classes, smoked a few joints, trashed the park in front of City Hall and went wading in the fountains. It might have been a bit more meaningful for the future of the republic if they had stayed in class and had a discussion of the issues and possible solutions. They might have even learned about representative national government, responsibilities of citizenship and the economics of the situation.

They could have been exposed to Tony Blankley’s op-ed piece in the Times:
Blankley at the Wash. Times

It seems that everyone has a dog in this hunt, but no one knows exactly what the quarry is supposed to be. Let’s see if we can make some sense out of this.

Can we agree that there are millions of illegal immigrants in the country? Most reports are now putting the figure at eleven million. Is this a problem?

It would be hard to deny that a population that large is significant. In a period of global terrorist threat, it makes sense to say that there needs to be some form of control of the influx. We, meaning the US, need to get a handle on who is here. Further, we need to gain some control over the comings and goings across our borders. All well and good.

Simplistic solutions shouldn’t be on the table. Can we now agree that we can’t round up 11,000,000 people and deport them back to wherever it was that they came from? They aren’t all from Mexico or even from Central America. We don’t know where they are and we don’t know where to send them. They aren’t about to turn themselves in to the authorities to be deported. (And, Sen. McCain, they aren’t going to turn themselves in to pay a $2000 fine either!) So, let’s eliminate that as an option, even though many will find it attractive.

Can we agree that a large number of these people are doing jobs in the US? Might we even stretch that basic truth to include the caveat that these are menial jobs at low wages with no benefits that American citizens seem reluctant to do? Deport these illegals and there is going to be an economic impact. Either work will not get done, or the free market response to a labor shortage will be a rise in wages for the work which translates into much higher prices for the consumer. Those are probably not acceptable alternatives.

Let’s stop yelling about the question of “amnesty.” Once we get convoluted around whether or not an amnesty will result in jumping ahead on the citizenship train, we can no longer deal with the issue of who is here. Let’s accept that “amnesty” is not a good thing, but that is tempered by issues one and two above—we can’t deport and we can’t accept the economic impact.

Now, let’s add in the fact that eleven million folks absorb a lot of tax supported services. They attend schools, get sick, seek welfare, and even commit some crimes. If they are not somehow registered within the country, they often don’t pay taxes or contribute to Social Security. Without identification, they wind up driving vehicles without license and consequently without insurance. Bottom line is that we need to get a grip on this population and integrate them in the society. (At this point please return to points one and two above…)

Guest worker proposals are viable. In order to work, an individual has to be registered somewhere. Remember when you got your last job how you had to provide your employer with an I-9 form? And then a W-4 for withholding? While we can’t round up illegals and they won’t voluntarily turn themselves in, we CAN and must force employers to track their workers. Sure there will be some slippage and some illegal workers will fall through the cracks. But, we will get a grip on a large percentage of these folks who are already here and who are really seeking the American dream. That simple act provides improved security, better government funding, and eventual reduction in the scope of the immigrant problem.

With registered workers and a serious effort at record-keeping (which has been noticeably absent at Immigration and Naturalization in the past), we can then get to work on securing the border to reduce the influx of future illegals. If there is a process for guest worker documentation, we might be able to control the rest of the border with something less than our own version of a Berlin Wall.

If we don’t deal with the folks already here in a realistic manner, this problem isn’t going away any time soon. Oh, and let’s also get over the business about making them speak English. Taking pride in our predominant mono-lingualism is embarrassing. The rest of the world is speaking their own language and English as well. We somehow managed to survive the colonial period at the birth of our nation when we had sections of the nascent nation speaking French, German, Dutch and Spanish as well as English. If society needs English speakers, folks will speak English. If the society finds Spanish as a more functional communication medium, that will happen as well. Rescue us from our own form of Quebec-ism or the offense-taking of Jacques Chirac.

Meanwhile, back in civics classes in America, explain to the kids that City Hall doesn’t make immigration policy and truancy is punishable.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Instrumentality of God

So, let me see if I can interpret all of this. We’ve got a quartet of well-intentioned, incredibly sincere and arguably naïve fools that go to Iraq to gather information on how the Coalition forces are abusing folks. They wander around until, almost predictably, they get captured by a nice group of those folks which they are there to support. The nice folks then make cute videos of the four, surrounding them in well choreographed arrangements dressed in fashionable black masks and carrying an array of the finest in clandestine terrorist armaments.

After a suitable length of time, the friends of the pacifists execute one of them for maximum publicity impact. And, according to the reports from this morning’s action, the good group of repressed Iraqi militants regularly whip up on the remaining three so that when they are recovered this morning they must be whisked off to Coalition medical facilities.

Who recovered these dolts? Why it was those nasty ol’ Coalition military people. They were the ones who gathered the intelligence, planned the operation, and then executed the mission. They were the ones who came in regardless of the possibility of their own death or injury to rescue these people. They were the ones who built, supplied and manned the medical facilities that are going to nurse these fools back to health. Coalition Forces in Action

Gratitude would be a reasonable expectation under such circumstances, wouldn’t it? Might there even be a possibility of some education having occurred. Might the touchy-feely pacifists have reconsidered who is the villain in this scenario? Might they not have thought that the folks they supported didn’t much care for them and the folks who rescued them at great personal risk might have been better than they originally assumed?

Might they even have concluded that they didn’t know much about the situation and that they unnecessarily endangered themselves? Don’t they bear a bit of responsibility for the whole episode?

Well, here’s the official statement: Ignoring the Obvious

I read it twice, looking for some acknowledgement of the folks who rescued them. I wanted to see at least a cursory thank you. If not a thanks, then how about an honorable mention? Nah, apparently it was expected and the guys with guns weren’t really a part of God’s plan.

Stupidity among pacifists runs rampant. I hope they get a bill for this.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Who Can Vote?

It was the 29th of August last year. I woke up in Texas, for the first of what I hope to be many more mornings. I’d left Colorado Springs and my home of twenty years the day before and was now in an apartment where I would be for the next four months as I oversaw the construction of my new home. I didn’t have a job, although I did have a retirement, and my wife had only the promise of a contract in her profession. There we were, a family displaced—man, wife, aging mother-in-law and Siberian Husky, all together with only the clothes we had packed for the interim. Our household goods were stored somewhere.

It was that same morning that more than 300,000 New Orleans residents similarly awoke in temporary quarters. They had evacuated in advance of Hurricane Katrina and few knew what the future held.

There is a significant difference though. My move was planned and I knew what the outcome was going to be. For the evacuees, there was more doubt. Most expected to avoid the winds and rains, and then return to their homes to continue their lives. What followed was considerably different. The storm initiated the levee failures which effectively destroyed large portions of the city. Return is not possible for the foreseeable future.

The finger-pointing and blame-assignment has taken place and the end result is that a lot of money has been spent and considerably more has been promised. There has been a lot of posturing about “bigger and better” for the Big Easy, but objective assessment can only lead to a conclusion that it would be better for market forces to determine the size and shape of New Orleans than populist posturing. Sure, we would all like it to be like it was before…or would we?

Do we want the slums and unemployment and poverty to be recreated? Can we funnel the funds back into corrupt and ineffective governance that exacerbated the disaster last August? Is it reasonable to build a new city at national tax-payer expense in an area that might be unsustainable against a recurrence of a Category 4 or 5 storm?

The No-Plan Plan

The fact apparently is that a city of about 400,000 inhabitants has lost more than 300,000 of them and they aren’t coming back any time soon. Just as I’m not going back to Colorado, they aren’t going to return to NO. They might find jobs, they might enter schools, they might build new homes in Texas and northern Louisiana and Arkansas and Tennessee. Or, they just might descend back into the poverty and squalor they left in New Orleans, but in a new city or town.

Will I vote in the Colorado primaries this year? Of course not. Well, I did live there for a long time. Shouldn’t I be able to cast an absentee ballot? No rationale person would agree that I would be participating in election of people to represent me. I don’t live there any more.

Why then do we have this campaign to let the evacuees, now residing elsewhere and with no date or time certain for their return, vote? Representing Whom?

You know the answer. The folks who have returned and will rebuild aren’t the ones who elected the incumbents. The folks who are invested in the city won’t retain the officials who failed to serve them well. Posturing about the “chocolate” nature of the city isn’t the same as fulfilling executive functions. That means there must be some way to get those votes back, even if they aren’t residents.

If you don’t have an address in a district, you can’t normally vote. If you don’t have a phone number there, if you don’t have a driver’s license, if you don’t go to schools, if you don’t pay taxes (!), you don’t get a say in the governance. It’s as simple as that.

You get to vote where you live and work and pay.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Paradigm Lost

I’ve got a short list of words that I don’t like. It’s simple prejudice, I know. There isn’t anything wrong with the words; it is only that I associate them with pompous fools trying to impress their listeners. Most of the time the usage is simply a cliché; a phrase which is so ingrained in our language that the phrase flows and the unbearable word festers in the middle of it. One of those words is “behooves.” I can honestly say that I’ve never met a single thing that “behooved” me. The word seems to relate more to livestock than to preferential action.

Another one of those pariah pronouncements is “paradigm.” Have someone explain to you someday what a “paradigm” is and why they are so often changing. Is there much use for stable paradigms? Can’t the average paradigm hold its position for more than a few years?

But, recently I’ve regularly found myself referring to the changed paradigm of our defensive strategy. Occasionally there are situations in which no other word will work so well. Recognition of the changed paradigm is essential to understanding where we are today with respect to the war on terror.

At the micro-level, consider the situation aboard those ill-fated airplanes on 9/11. We had grown up in a world in which sky-jacking had become a common tactic for political dissidents. Airplanes were easy to target in the late ‘60s and attracted loads of media attention. Over time, security at airports improved, but there were still regular occurrences of planes being commandeered. The paradigm that developed, however, was one of patience and caution in dealing with the perpetrators. Talk with them, negotiate, be patient and eventually the outcome will be reasonably good with little loss of life. It worked that way for forty years. Then on one September morn, things changed and so did the paradigm.

In the short hour or so between the initial impacts on the WTC and the crash of Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania we learned that it was not reasonable to accede to a simple threat with a box-cutter. There would be no more momentary inconvenience and eventual end of crisis with all passengers safe. Now, under the new paradigm, there was little hope for good outcomes and taking violent action on their own behalf was the preferred course of action for passengers on hijacked airplanes.

At the macro-level, we now have pre-emptive war. In this Washington Post piece, the President discusses the new paradigm: Strategy Today

A few centuries ago we had political philosophers writing on “just war”, creating a body of international law to define when armed conflict was appropriate. Even as war changed in the Twentieth Century with rapid advances in the capacity to destroy persons and property, we still clung to the principles enunciated by folks like St. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Rousseau, Locke, Wilson and others. Sure, there were Machiavellians who reminded us that might could define right and winners wrote the histories. But, the moral high ground was held by those who warred in response to evil. Just war was fought against dictators and even then, only engaged in when all diplomatic efforts had failed and significant affront had taken place. Invasion was prerequisite to response.

Recall the mantra of the pacifists and draft-dodgers during the Vietnam years? The alliterative phrase that the war was illegal, immoral and unjust told you all you needed to know. We hadn’t been attacked. We were picking on a little guy. We weren’t morally justified. We needed to fill the criteria of those historic philosophers before we could go to war.

Consider the situation today. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are real. Remember that although nuclear weapons require considerable technology and create some delivery problems, the other two WMD formats are much simpler to deal with. Chemical weapons have been around for a long time and while it might be tough to get a large footprint with some weapons, contamination of major metropolitan water supplies might not be that tough. Biological weapons are much worse. Contemplate the current “pandemic” discussions regarding H5N1 bird flu.

The essential truth is that WMD have such potential for major damage that it is no longer possible to absorb a first strike prior to responding. Extend your thinking just a bit further and recall that box cutters aren’t even WMD! Yet, a handful of terrorists armed with just such simple tools commandeered four fully fueled airplanes and in a matter of minutes brought down the economic center of New York City and in the process did considerable damage to the economy of the United States.

Add one more significant factor to the new paradigm. The entities that threaten our way of life are no longer national actors. We aren’t dealing with nation-states, led by rational officials, subject to public scrutiny, amenable to diplomatic pressures, conformable to world opinion. We aren’t even sure where our enemies are. We have few channels for dialog or negotiation.

Alternatives to military action are increasingly less available. We have a shadowy enemy whose objectives aren’t the slightest bit traditional in terms of trade, territory or concessions. We face weapons that have the potential to inflict incredible damage, death and destruction. The threat has been demonstrated as very capable of reaching us anywhere in the world. We suddenly find ourselves looking at a changed paradigm. Anyone who insists on maintaining the striped pants and frock coat philosophy of the Nineteenth Century diplomat is going to place his nation at great risk.

Pre-emptive war is not a first option, but it most certainly must be recognized as a necessary position in a very different world.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Uncle Sam Doesn’t Want Some

Once upon a time in America, there was a dirty, unpopular war going on with most of the American military drafted into service. Those were the days of fighting the last war, which was the “really big one” that took place around the entire world and which was arguably the last one which America was eager to win. No, in the sixties, there wasn’t much going on in the military which would attract the best and the brightest. Those were the times when a young man got arrested and judges felt quite comfortable giving the young felon a choice of three years in the slammer or enlisting in the Army. Those were the days in which, even with that draft, the needs for manpower required the Army to delve down into “Category IV”—a cesspool of humanity that wasn’t very smart, wasn’t very motivated, wasn’t very ethical or moral, and wasn’t very employable anywhere else in society.

Yet, the thinking of the day was still very Napoleonic. Wars were won by large armies and masses of men. We might not have been ready to go back to the trenches of Verdun, but we certainly were convinced that it would take large scale pitched battles to beat back the Soviet hordes or maybe the Communist Chinese or whomever.

Things are considerably different today. Now, we fight with technology on our side. We certainly need manpower, but we employ terms like “force multiplier” to describe what is going on. Brutishness is fine on some occasions, but precision, judgment and maturity are valued more highly. To operate the machinery of this sort of war, requires study. Those who would aspire to be modern warriors must be able to read, write, understand and communicate. They are going to be technocrats. But, they will still need to be able to endure hardship. They’ve got to be both smart and fit.

That’s why this is so astonishing and disappointing. Unsuitable for Service

Go to the mall or drive the streets of America after ten o’clock at night. Try a visit to the local high school and walk the halls during lunch time. Actually, you don’t even have to enter the building, just drive by and see them walking the streets. Is it surprising that the military doesn’t want them?

Does your state have some form of standardized testing to insure that “graduates” of your schools really get an education? We’ve just had a huge flap in the Dallas area where parents, students and even teachers are simply aghast that seniors in high school who can’t pass the state qualification exam in math and English, given FOUR tries, won’t be allowed to walk across the stage at graduation. Why, how unfair that kids who can’t meet the standards for graduation want to still have the honors of those that do.

What is most amazing about the linked piece discussing the continually shrinking pool of suitable recruits in America is the commentary from the university professors who just don’t get it. How about this from Northwestern University:

“Previous Defense Department studies have found that 75 percent of young people are ineligible for military service, noted Charles Moskos of Northwestern University. While the professor emeritus who specializes in military sociology says it is "a baloney number," he acknowledges he has no figures to counter it.”

I guess Dr. Moskos simply can’t believe that it takes so much to be a warrior. No figures to counter, but he simply asserts that it is a “baloney” number. That’s modern thought and education for you.

Or how about this for transference:

“Recruiters are looking for reasons other than themselves," said David R. Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland. "So they blame the pool."

Got that? Johnny can’t read, write, think or do a push-up. He’s obese, out of shape, morally corrupt and tattooed and pierced from nose to nipples and beyond, but it’s the recruiters fault. Thanks, Dr. Segal, but how did you reach that conclusion. Couldn’t parents, teachers and society-at-large have a hand in the sad state of Johnny today?

Lack of respect for America’s military has grown for a long time in what Tom Wolfe this week called the “parentheses states”—those matching brackets of blue coastal enclaves of the morally certain, liberal elites which fall on each side of the mass of patriotic American heartland red zones.

Let us only hope that this does not lead to relaxation of standards so that these fools can feel good about their failures to train and educate our youth. Let us hope that we don’t revert to those days of using the military as a societal lab for fighting poverty, racism, sexism and stupidism at the sacrifice of capability as a strong defensive force. Let us hope.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

To Ride, Shoot Straight and Speak Truth

The primary election is over in Texas and now it’s game on for the independents. This is going to be a test of whether or not arcane election laws can be effective in keeping candidates off the general election ballot. Usually no one notices or questions the laws enacted by partisan legislatures who have a strongly vested interest in perpetuating their incumbency. Everyone simply takes it for granted that the two dominant parties are screening out the unqualified and giving voters a meaningful choice. Check out the percentage of registered voters who don’t vote in primaries and don’t even understand the candidate selection process and you will begin to understand what is wrong with this system.

This time in Texas, things are different. We’ve got two major independent candidates for Governor trying to get on the ballot. To do that, they will have a short couple of months to gather nearly 50,000 signatures on their petitions. Those signers must be registered voters. That’s not an onerous requirement. They must also have NOT voted in the primary election! Not just not voted for governor, but they must have chosen not to vote for any of the state representatives, district attorneys, county judges, commissioners, etc. that were chosen last Tuesday to represent their parties. That IS onerous. And, it is a restriction clearly designed to keep non-believers off the ballot.

But, I’ve got a feeling that this time the slippery mountain is going to be climbed. Take a look at this item from a New York newspaper--- It's Showtime!!!

Kinky is just strange enough to activate a couple of generations of young voters who have been alienated by the two-party system. I’m willing to bet that he’ll make the quota with ease—but I’m also willing to bet that there will be a plethora of legal battles challenging his petitions as well. That will be a mistake for the partisan politicians because it will simply highlight his underdog status and make very clear the protectionism of the incumbents. He’s going to come out a winner both in court and in the minds of the voters.

I’ve got to like any politician, particularly one in Texas, who will make a politically incorrect statement like, “ride, shoot straight and speak the truth.” It addresses core Texas values and gives a very clear nod to an American icon, Jeff Cooper. The Source Document

I used to spend a lot of time in political science classes talking about why America is a two-party system unlike most democracies around the world. There’s nothing in our Constitution that sets it up that way. It grew from the debates of the Framers, the discussions of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. The two sides coalesced around principles and developed the two major philosophies of how to interpret our Constitution.

With incumbency there came the need for preservation of their power. That led to legislation and procedural decisions that virtually insure the failure of independent candidates in twenty-first century America. Get elected to Congress as an independent and you are virtually certain to be ineffective as you can’t be in any sort of decision-making position in committees or on the floor of the chamber.

Since independents don’t succeed, few of the media mavens pay attention to them. Remember the struggle of Ralph Nader to participate in the Presidential debates? Even Ross Perot’s billions couldn’t get him credibility and he wound up having to buy his own TV time to reach the American voters with his message.

There is really only one place in government that independents have a slim chance to be effective if they should ever be elected. That is in the chief executive seat of the state or local governments. Put an independent in the legislature and he or she will be locked out of the process. Put them in the governor’s or mayor’s chair and they can influence policy, speak from a bully pulpit and operate without regard to whether a good idea has come from the left or the right side of the aisle.

It is a grueling task and frustration can often drive the individual from office after only one term, but it is possible. I’ve said it before in these pages. I don’t know if Kinky Friedman has what it takes to convince the Texas electorate that he has solutions to the state’s problems. I suspect that he’s got a leg up on the partisan candidates because he can propose without paying lip service to past decisions and without being indebted to special interests which have steered us to where we are today. He’s got a chance.

And a surprising number of Texans seem to be fed up with the non-productive partisan rhetoric without a plan of the two major parties.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Clutching Vipers

Having spent a few years facing the mushy minds of the Community College set, I often find myself defending the “bias” of academia. You know what I’m talking about: the common perception that faculty members at our institutions of higher education are hopelessly liberal. If one tracks back to the early days of this blog, you’ll see several items on that prince of darkness from the University of Colorado, Ward Churchill. You may recall that he was the Master’s degree holding pseudo-Native-American who vaulted into first a professorship and then a department chair based on little or nothing but a deep-seated animosity toward everything American. Only when he got widely posted in the blogosphere where non-students and fellow-traveling academics could read his drivel did he get challenged.

Now, we’ve got a couple of new items in which the intellectual capacity of the nation’s universities must be seriously questioned. How about the Yale choice of a former Taliban propaganda minister as a scholarship student? Diversity at Yale?

Wow, that should really increase the desire for young Americans to strive to get into the Ivy League halls that have educated so many presidents. I know that if I had a promising college-aged kid, I’d be eager for them to learn the advantages of restricting education of women, destroying centuries old archeological treasures, and thrashing anyone who might challenge Islam in public. Why, if and when he graduates, we might want to consider amending our Constitution to allow Mr. Rahmatullah to run for president. If Yale values him so highly, we might really want to consider it.

One might also note in that Opinion Journal article a passing comment regarding the resignation of Harvard President, Larry Summers. Poor guy had to quit because the faculty had lost confidence in him after he mentioned that it was possible that women might not have an intrinsic aptitude for science. Politically incorrect as that statement was, it also is easily supported by evidence that fewer women than men choose educations and careers in the physical sciences. Nowhere did he say that women were incapable of succeeding in those fields, nor did he say that they should not be provided the opportunity to enter those fields. He didn’t even say that their performance was less than their male counterparts. He simply had the gall to suggest that women might not be predisposed to enter fields in which either their nature or their nurture had failed to prepare them to succeed and be happy.

Yep, Larry was a Neanderthal. He also thought the faculty should work at teaching the students and, heaven forbid, there should be ROTC available for those precious little heirs to the thrones of America if they chose a military career. Leadership at Harvard? Can’t have any of that can we?

Graduates of our institutions of higher education have their problems as well. It seems reasonable to ask what was going on for the past four or five years as Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar gobbled up American culture. Apparently the inculcation of American values didn’t take: Alumni at Chapel Hill? Can we really have an individual worthy of award of a college degree that considers driving a car into a crowd of fellow-students as some sort of quid-pro-quo for perceived slights to Muslims in remote areas of the world? Does he really believe that this is the “will of Allah”? C’mon, something is seriously wrong with this picture.

Down in beautiful South Florida, where I thought the big issue was what gaudy color to paint your remodeled South Beach hotel, and how much longer Fidel was going to live, we have Professor Sami Al-Arian. I will admit that in my graduate education I did have a course on terrorism. And, I freely confess to having written a couple of papers on the topic as well as to participating in several academic seminars discussing the global threat. But, this clown was accused of raising funds to support these groups. He was out-spoken and then unrepentant when brought into the public eye. How do these sorts of people get hired?

It’s scary to look at this group of stories. I’ll point out that there are a lot of well-educated, well-grounded, moderate-to-conservative folks on both sides of the podium in classrooms across America. Yet, a collection of outrageous stories like this makes one wonder…

Friday, March 03, 2006

Style and Substance

The President was in India yesterday discussing nuclear policy with a democratically elected leader of more than one billion people. The outcome is an agreement to provide peaceful nuclear technology to India in return for arguably limited access to India’s existing nuclear programs. That means we are going to be offering our expertise and materials to a nation which is already a nuclear power so that they can increase their nuclear power generating capability. What we get back is a chance to monitor their programs—not all of them, but some. We get a peek into the back rooms of their weapons programs. As a sovereign nation they don’t have to offer that, but as a nation seeking to develop and needing more energy it is to their benefit to do so.

Now comes the posturing of the politicos. First we’ve got the newspapers noting with customary hysteria that the President did not take time to visit the Taj Mahal. Yes, this visit is wasting cultural opportunity and failing to measure up to the intellectual curiosity of President Clinton who not only toured the Taj, but also went into the jungle seeking a glimpse of a Bengal Tiger! The only thing coming out of this trip is a nuclear agreement between major world powers, and not enough photo-opportunities. Some substance, but the President apparently fails to score Associated Press style points.

Soon we’ll be hearing the non-sequitur arguments against the agreement. You remember the type; “if we can put a man on the moon, we can’t we cure cancer?” The format will be of the order that we shouldn’t be making agreements with India when we are trying to enforce non-proliferation on N. Korea (too late!) and Iran. Fact may fall victim to the need to pontificate before the electorate who, as I mention all too often, are relatively indiscriminate in their acceptance of non-sequiturs.

India is a nuclear nation already. They have the bomb. They have nuclear power plants. They have enrichment facilities. And, they are a democracy seeking to become more closely allied with us. India is a dominant regional player and an increasingly significant global force. They can continue to develop albeit more slowly using non-nuclear energy, but that simply strains the global market for carbon-based fuels. Or, we can acknowledge where they are, what they mean and where we can help them go. Would we like to help them build modern nuclear generating capability, or maybe direct them to shop the former Soviet Union bargain basement Chernobyl sales lot?

India is a lot different situation than N. Korea. Democracy versus totalitarian is the first difference to note. Rational versus irrational leadership is second. Pivotal in the region versus small player in a deep pond is third. Recognizing the realities is critical in choosing whether to embrace this agreement. We can benefit from aiding India, and we can still latch the barn door on a very weak nuclear horse in N. Korea.

We all fear change and most of us would like to live in our yesterdays. The world was a simpler place when we were the only ones with the bomb. It was tolerable when the Soviets showed up with their own brand of nuclear weapons. It began to get a bit scary when the Brits, the French and the Chinese showed that given enough time, money and dedication almost any modern nation could build a nuclear weapon.

Sixty years into the nuclear age and we’ve got India and Pakistan in the club. Most everybody acknowledges Israel is a member, but they’re pretty close-mouthed about it. It’s sort of like the guy you know has a concealed carry permit, but you’re never quite sure if he’s packing today. Then there’s South Africa, Brazil, and a couple of other places. Iraq tried back in the early ‘80s at a place called Osirik and Iran is pretty darned close to joining the club.

Genies don’t go back into bottles. The real issue is not being afraid of nuclear power. Let’s admit what is undeniable. We are facing energy issues in coming years. Oil is limited, coal is more or less polluting, and hydro-electric requires big, fast-flowing rivers which aren’t always where we need them. Wind doesn’t blow and those big fans are butt-ugly. Solar takes huge expanses of panels and isn’t that reliable or efficient. And, we don’t even want to get into how dangerous free hydrogen is in bulk—think Hindenburg here.

That means the Greenies are going to have to accept the fact that nuclear energy is clean, safe, reliable and efficient. There’s going to be a lot of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) arguments, but a quick look at the nuclear energy map of Europe should help calm a lot of fears.

It will be interesting to see if the India/US nuclear agreement pushes the bogus Dubai Ports World argument off the front pages. The poor nay-sayers are going to have to choose what gets top billing in their oppositional agenda.