Thursday, December 23, 2010


Merry Christmas to the whole human race from the United States Senate, which ratified the new START treaty with Russia yesterday. Under the terms of the treaty, the total number of operationally ready strategic nuclear weapons in the American and Russian arsenals, already hugely diminished since their 1980s peak, will be reduced to their lowest levels since the mid-1950s. More crucially, the number of launch platforms will be reduced further still – to a maximum of 700 per side. This is far too many, of course, but since those two countries possess over 95% of all nuclear weapons in the world, the significance of the treaty cannot be understated. By the end of the decade, the total number of operationally deployed nuclear weapons in the world will have been reduced to under a tenth of what it was at its peak in 1986, when the United States and the Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons on a high alert. The new START is a straightforward and very good treaty – almost noncontroversial, in fact. It makes the United States and indeed the whole world a safer place. It is Obama’s first major foreign policy achievement, and goes some way to adding some post-facto credibility to his ridiculous win of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Which is precisely why twenty-six Republican Senators voted against it, why Senator Kyl of Arizona fought a desperate, almost hysterical rear-guard action to delay its ratification until the next session of Congress, when a somewhat different Senate with more Republicans might have derailed it. For anyone who has been following the debate closely, no other possible conclusion can be reached about what motivated those twenty-six Republicans. Their goal was to hand Obama a political defeat, regardless of the implications for American national security. The red flags they sent up were all false flags. Senator DeMint of South Carolina actually dismissed the treaty as part of “a continuing pattern of appeasement.” Appeasement! The favourite boogeyman word Republicans use describe whatever Democrats happen to be doing at the moment on the international stage, even if they’re waging war in Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo, Somalia, or Afghanistan and Iraq. (And need the Senator really be told that, historically, it was his party that enthusiastically endorsed isolationism even after the Second World War began in Europe?) “Appeasement!” Obama’s last defense budget – a staggering $700 billion – was the biggest in American history in absolute terms and the biggest, adjusted for inflation, since 1946. Bigger than any defense budget at the peak of the Cold War. Bigger than any during Vietnam or Korea. “Appeasement!” And who are these liberal “appeasers” who supported this treaty? Well, in addition to the Democrats, of course, there were such famous bleeding hearts as former President George H.W. Bush, Condoleeza Rice and every other living former Republican Secretary of State, the admirals and generals of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military head of the Strategic Command (the branch of the armed forces that actually controls America’s strategic nuclear arsenal) and seven of his predecessors, and, notably thirteen Republican Senators, including Senator Corker of Tennessee, who as much as called the treaty a no-brainer. “This is not one of those votes where you wonder,” he said. “This is not even a close call.”

There are, of course, real grounds for concern about the manner in which this administration has conducted itself in terms of foreign and domestic policy. But that’s true of every presidential administration. The exigencies of holding high office in such an immensely powerful but also profoundly internally divided country as the United States probably fatally compromises the ethics of even of the most sincere office holder.

This morning, of course, the Tea Party blogs and websites exploded with predictable rage. Their whole conspiracy-driven worldview has received powerful reinforcement. This is yet another sign of what they already know to be true. The President is a Muslim and a communist and a foreigner and this is all part of his master plan to weaken America. Measure of Doubt does not play the race card lightly. But let us be clear about something. There are those on the Tea Party right who say that Obama would not be President if he weren’t black. Perhaps. But there wouldn’t be a Tea Party if he weren’t black, either. They have made that abundantly clear. So if you prefer to read what rational people have to say, there has been excellent analysis of this treaty on the venerable The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. If you prefer your political coverage with a dose of gun-shootin’, Bible thumpin’, Good-Ole’ Boy twang, well, you hardly need pointers from me about where to look.

There is, however, one foreign policy expert who opposed the deal, and whose views might give us a moment of pause, because they carry such immense weight, having been informed by years of dedication to understanding geopolitics. The former partial-term governor of Alaska, who obtained a U.S. passport nearly five years ago and who has been taking occasional trips outside of North America for almost four years now, Sarah Palin, called on the Senate to defeat the treaty.

On Twitter.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Note: As you might appreciate, the task of producing a bi-monthly column, written to the extraordinarily high standards my thousands of devoted readers have come to expect, is beyond even my literary talents, talents once described in glowing terms by a former professor as “generally adequate.” For fear of drawing too deeply from my well and coming up empty, I outsourced this week’s column to Toby Guffrey, a senior student at an Ontario high school. His essay, only the second to be written on Measure of Doubt by an author other than myself, appears below. GB.

"In order to understand why Christmas is important we must first try and understand it's origin's. Christmas began in the Year 0 in Isreal when Jesus was born to his parent's Mary and Joe in a manager by sheep and a drummer boy nearby who was one of three wives men who brought presents for Jesus and Mary who was immaculate.This means that she was virginal. Thus establishing the Christmas tradition of giving presents. Although Christians would rather give the present's to someone else they didn't know that yet because Jesus was very young and could not talk his language which was arabic yet. Next Jesus was killed by the Roman's; for trying to make everyone into Christian's the Roman's did not agree with this so Jesus was killed by them after he said "oh Lord why have you forgotten me?" on a cross before he was killed by the Roman's who used him as an escape goat. It was a very sad day but later he came out of his cave and sat on his father’s right hand. Jesus also walked on water that he turned into wine. Now that we understand the origin's of Christmas we can explain how Christmas has an influence today in Canada and Americain society. One problem with this is in Canada is Multiculturalism. This means that everyone get's to give there opinion about things like Christmas tree's and present's. One problem with this is that people like Indian's don't have Christmas but our Government can't make them because of mulitculturalism. Like you can't just stand there and tell people that they have to have Christmas because this would be an unfringement of they're rites and who would it be for then? But we have to remember that everyone has there own views about things like Christmas and also one problem is things like global warming can be caused from people buying too much One other problem s that many people like Christmas music so there has been many teen-agers buying Christmas music now because of inventions like iPod's and computer's. The problem with this is that more car accident's happen because people are listening to Christmas music on their iPod's while their driving car's and on their cell phones'. Also drinking and driving. "As anthropological relativism, once the province of a minority, gradually assumed the position of an organizing philosophy within the academy, the moral significance of religious observances declined proportionately among the professoriate." This quote shows that people don't like Christmas but because of the multiculturalism can't show it but this is unfair because of the Charter of Rights and freedoms. Next we should consider America where Barrack Obama is president after beating George Bush. George Bush was a Christian but Barrack Obama is Catholic. In America they have a melding pot not multiculturalism; because of this they have a Christmas tree at the Whitehouse. In conclusion its' important that every one in December remember Jesus because he died so we could have christmas but also one problem with this is at Christmas many African's and also in Nigeria are starving but because of global warming we should not by present's unless there green."

Postscript: As you can imagine, Toby is currently on his school’s Honour List and will be attending university next year. He plans to major in English and History and then become a teacher.