Sunday, November 12, 2006

BOOK REPORT: “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford

In "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World", Jack Weatherford does a great service to the resuscitation of the 13th Century Mongol conqueror’s reputation and legacy. Genghis Khan is often depicted in popular and academic writings as a bloodthirsty savage who relished the acts of torture and genocide. Weatherford’s Genghis Khan is a misunderstood genius who created an empire that was in many ways centuries ahead of the ones created by Chinese, Muslim and European civilizations that the Mongols subjugated.

Genghis Khan created a new nation after decades of war within the areas we call Mongolia and Inner Mongolia (a part of China). The nomads of the steppe had always clung to their tribal identities and when one of them grew too strong, the sedentary civilizations of China and Central Asia conspired to pit one tribe against another. Genghis Khan broke this pattern and instead forced the sedentary civilizations to conform to his interests and will. He did so by placing merit above birth in choosing his generals. Women enjoyed far greater rights and freedom under Mongol laws than under any of the civilizations they conquered.

Perhaps what distinguishes Genghis Khan over other conquerors was the remarkable durability of his empire. Though the greatest conqueror of all time in terms of landmass, Genghis Khan’s heirs continued the Mongol conquests and subjugated Russia (1240s), Iran and Iraq (1250s) and China (1260s-1270s) and instituted a century-long Pax Mongolica, or Mongol peace, that drove civilizational contact among Europe, India, China and the Middle East.

In fact, Weatherford makes a strong case that it was this very commercial and cultural exchange that sustained Mongol power long after they had grown soft and their military edge had waned. He also makes a strong case that the Black Death that arrived in Europe in 1347 from Mongol Russia had in the decade before done what no army of man had been able to do, disburse and ultimately end the Mongol Empire. Once the devastation and depopulation of the plague had cut the connections between faraway nations, native subjects throw off their Mongol overlords and the Mongol Empire evaporated. By the 1380s, direct Mongol power was limited to the steppe.

Weatherford does a very good job of making the (very) foreign Mongol and Asian geography and languages accessible to American readers. He also does not get bogged down with every significant flair up in Mongol politics (Golden Horde vs. Ilkhan wars, etc.) while providing enough detail to let readers know and understand the major fault lines within imperial Mongol politics.

Since 2006 is the 800th anniversary of the election of Temujin as "Genghis Khan" and the creation of the Mongol state in 1206, it is fitting that we have such a valuable and easy to read book as Weatherford’s to instruct us. I highly recommend this book to novices and history buffs alike.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

65% Accuracy Rate in 2006 Election Predictions

I was right that Democrat incumbent Gov. Janet Napolitano would cruise to victory but I was wrong that Republican gubernatorial candidate Len Munsil would break through the 40% barrier… very pathetic showing for a red state. Munsil’s percentage statewide wasn’t higher than nativist GOP CD8 nominee Randy Graf's total in his district.

I was also wrong that CD5 incumbent J.D. Hayworth (R) would best Harry Mitchell (D).

Sen. Jon Kyl beat Democrat Jim Pederson by 9 points rather than my predicted 6 percent... I’m counting that as a right prediction.

Arizona Propositions:

Right -- Proposition 100 wins.
Wrong (maybe) -- Proposition 101 loses. It’s very close, still waiting on all early ballots to be counted
Right -- Proposition 102 wins.
Right -- Proposition 103 wins.
Right -- Proposition 104 wins.
Right -- Proposition 105 loses.
Right -- Proposition 106 loses.
Wrong -- Proposition 107 wins. Amazing, the first state in the nation to reject a Marriage Protection Amendment. Proponents over-reached and voters did not want to take away existing domestic partner benefits.
Right -- Proposition 200 loses.
Right -- Proposition 201 wins.
Right -- Proposition 202 wins.
Right -- Proposition 203 wins.
Right -- Proposition 204 wins.
Wrong -- Proposition 205 wins. Wow. The goofy Prop. 200 voter lottery question did better than this one.
Wrong -- Proposition 206 wins (with more votes than Proposition 201.) I guess those disclosure requirements that highlighted R.J. Reynolds’ support sunk this one despite the $8+ million spent by them.
Right -- Proposition 207 wins.
Right -- Proposition 300 wins.
Right -- Proposition 301 wins.
Right -- Proposition 302 loses.

My prediction that the “big story of the evening” would be that the GOP would do better than expected. Well, move along, nothing to see here.

Maryland GOP Senate nominee Mike Steele did not win and take a Democratic Senate seat.

PA’s Santorum, OH’s DeWine, RI’s Chafee did all lose GOP seats. But so did MO’s Talent, MT’s Burns and VA’s Allen. I was right on TN’s Corker holding a GOP seat. So my Democratic net gain of 2 in the U.S. Senate was short by 4.

Democrats did take the U.S. House and with more than my predicted 20-seat pick up... I’m counting that as a right prediction.

AZ’s John Shadegg is running for minority whip. That prediction still might come to fruition.

So as I count it, I was right on 22 of 34 prediction with the Shadegg leadership pick still outstanding.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election 2006 Predictions

Here are my prediction on the 2006 elections.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Len Munsil breaks through the 40% barrier but Democrat incumbent Gov. Janet Napolitano cruises to victory.

Munsil’s percentage statewide will be higher than GOP CD8 nominee Randy Graf's total in his district.

CD5 incumbent J.D. Hayworth (R) squeaks by Harry Mitchell (D).

Sen. Jon Kyl beats Democrat Jim Pederson by 6 percent.

Arizona Propositions:

Proposition 100 wins.
Proposition 101 loses.
Proposition 102 wins.
Proposition 103 wins.
Proposition 104 wins.
Proposition 105 loses.
Proposition 106 loses.
Proposition 107 wins.
Proposition 200 loses.
Proposition 201 wins.
Proposition 202 wins.
Proposition 203 wins.
Proposition 204 wins.
Proposition 205 wins.

Proposition 206 wins (with more votes than Proposition 201.)
Proposition 207 wins.
Proposition 300 wins.
Proposition 301 wins.

Proposition 302 loses.

Big story of the evening: GOP does better than expected.

Maryland GOP Senate nominee Mike Steele wins taking a Democratic Senate seat.

PA’s Santorum, OH’s DeWine, RI’s Chafee will lose GOP seats. MO’s Talent, MT’s Burns, VA’s Allen and TN’s Corker hold GOP seats. Democratic net gain of 2 in the U.S. Senate (maybe 3 with Burns going down, if 4 then its Talent going down too)

Democrats take the U.S. House but with a 20 or fewer seat pick up.

AZ’s John Shadegg will be elected GOP Leader, probably the minority leader before the year is out.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Proposition 205 TV Debate

I was featured this week on Phoenix Channel 3's coverage of the 2006 Elections. The issue, the vote-by-mail Proposition 205. The Arizona Chamber is opposed. I debated initiative sponsor Rick Murphy.

Click here to see the debate.

San Francisco Chronicle: "Arizona plan offers chance to cast a vote, win a million"

I was interviewed late last week by the San Fransisco Chronicle on Arizona's nutty Proposition 200 concerning a million-dollar voter lottery.

"We believe it's an insult to Arizona voters to say we have to bribe them to vote,' said Farrell Quinlan, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which opposes the measure. "It will make Arizona the laughingstock of America if it passes."
Read the entire article here.

BOOK REPORT: "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It" by Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn’s "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It" is must reading for everyone, especially those who are confronted by soft-headedness over our struggle with Islamist terror. Steyn goes through the chilling statistics of how Europe and other secular societies are evaporating without a fight. With a birthrate of 1.1 children per women, Italy will half its native population in a generation. So without even confronting the sophisticated military hardware of the West, Islamist can wait us out and move in while Europeans give up and die off.

Coupled with Dore Gold's "Hatred's Kingdom," we get a clear picture of the radical Wahhabists' past, present and future plans for the world.

In the following lengthy excerpt, Steyn believes there are "three possible resolutions to the present struggle:"
  1. Submit to Islam
  2. Destroy Islam
  3. Reform Islam

Because most of us don't take number one as a serious possibility, we're equally unserious about being forced to choose between two and three. But submission to Islam is very possible, and to many it will still seem ridiculous even as it happens; like John Kerry during the 2004 campaign, we'll be spluttering that we can't believe we're losing to these idiots. But we can lose (as I've always believed) and (as I've come to believe) we might lose more easily than even the gloomiest of us thought.

By "we might lose," I mean "the good guys" -- and I define that term expansively. There are plenty of good guys in Australia and Poland and Iraq and even Pakistan. And I'm a little unnerved at the number of readers who seem to think the rest of the world can go hang but America will endure as a lonely candle of liberty in the new Dark Ages. Think that one through: a totalitarian China, a crumbling Russia, an insane Middle East, a disease-ridden Africa, a civil war-torn Eurabia -- and a country that can't even enforce its borders against two relatively benign states will somehow be able to hold the entire planet at bay? Dream on, "realists."

As for option two, it doesn't bear thinking about. Even if you regard Islam as essentially incompatible with free societies, the slaughter required to end it as a force in the world would change America beyond recognition. That doesn't mean that, a few years down the line, if some kooks with nukes obliterate, say, Marseilles or Lyons that the French wouldn't give it a go in some fairly spectacular way. But they're unlikely to accomplish much by it, any more than the Russians have by their scorched-earth strategy in Chechnya.

That leaves option three: Reform Islam -- which is not ours to do. Ultimately, only Muslims can reform Islam. All the free world can do is create conditions that increase the likelihood of Muslim reform, or at any rate do not actively impede it. We can:

  1. Support women's rights -- real rights, not feminist pieties -- in the Muslim world. This is the biggest vulnerability in Islam. Not every Muslim female wants to be Gloria Steinem or Paris Hilton. But nor do they want a life that starts with genital mutilation and ends with an honor killing at the hands of your brothers. The overwhelming majority of females in Continental battered women's shelters are Muslim -- which gives you some sense of what women in the Middle East might do if they had any women's shelters to go then half the population of these societies is a potential source of dissent, we need to use it.
  2. Roll back Wahhabi, Iranian, and other ideological exports that have radicalized Muslims on every continent. We have an ideological enemy and we need to wage ideological war.
  3. Support economic and political liberty in the Muslim world, even if it means unsavory governments: an elected unsavory government is still better than a dictatorial unsavory government. It's not necessary for Syria and Egypt to become Minnesota and New Zealand. All that's necessary is for them to become something other than what they are now. And on the bumpy road to liberty, every Muslim regime that has to preoccupy itself with internal dissent has less time to foment trouble beyond its borders.
  4. Ensure that Islamic states that persecute non-Muslims are denied international legitimacy and excluded and marginalized in international bodies.
  5. Throttle the funding of mosques, madrassas, think tanks, and other activities in America and elsewhere by Saudi Arabia, Iran, and others.
  6. Develop a strategy for countering Islamism on the ideological front. Create a civil corps to match America's warrior corps and use it to promote alternative institutions, structures, and values through a post-imperial equivalent to Britain's Colonial Office, albeit under whatever wussy name is deemed acceptable: Department of Global Community Outreach or whatever (this, by the way, is what Washington should have created instead of the bloated bureaucracy of the Department of Homeland Security).
  7. Marginalize and euthanize the UN, NATO, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and other September 10 transnational organizations and devote the energy wasted on them to results-oriented multilateralism. We need real allies now.
  8. Cease bankrolling unreformable oil dictatorships by a long overdue transformation of the energy industry.
  9. End the Iranian regime.
  10. Strike militarily when the opportunity presents itself.

Aside from numbers nine and ten, these are important but undramatic objectives -- i.e., the kind of stuff our side does very badly. The problem with redesignating the "war on terror" as "the long war" is that it's easy for it to degenerate a step further and lapse into non-war mode entirely.