In case you didn’t have enough already, here is yet another reason why I don’t look to Hollywood for scholarly political analysis:

Woody Allen has a strange take on the democracy that allowed him to become rich and famous.

Uh, no. The United States is not a democracy. It is a representative Republic. There is a difference, but one that is obviously missed by the writer of the article.

In an interview published by Spanish language newspaper La Vanguardia (that we translated), Allen says “I am pleased with Obama. I think he’s brilliant. The Republican Party should get out of his way and stop trying to hurt him.”

But wait – there’s more!

The director said “it would be good…if he could be a dictator for a few years because he could do a lot of good things quickly.”

Do you think President Obama could get the trains to run on time if given unlimited power?

I have no desire to see anyone become a dictator in this country, even a conservative Republican whom I support 100%. I want the government to do just those few things it is supposed to do, as outlined in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and nothing else. Simply put, I’m an adult, and I don’t need some government parental-figure telling me what I should and should not do. But I’m not an immature Hollywood celebrity who desires someone else control his every decision.

Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea.

If you had held a gun to my head five years ago and demanded that I list the leading terrorism-sponsoring nations, I would have rattled off the list above. (What you wouldn’t have heard was my mental swear-thoughts directed at you for holding a gun to my head. I can’t believe you’d do that to me. I thought we were friends.)

Much has happened since a certain fateful day in September 2001. Since then, Pakistan has become an ally in the war–not a staunch ally like the British or Australians have been, but they have made an impressive change. Another ally of the same “uh, I guess it’s nice to have you” variety is Libya. Qadhafi could see the handwriting on the wall and started to cooperate with the United States by turning over Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program which he was housing.

Now Iraq and Afghanistan have been changed from the Rule of Thug to the Rule of Law. Sadly, this required military action, and many lives were lost. But the end result is fifty million people who are no longer under the cruel thumb of dictators, and these nations have had both public and free elections. Score two big successes in President Bush’s column.

This leaves three nations in the list unchanged. Of these, North Korea is run by a loon. Jon Herskovitz sums up the “Dear Leader” well:

In the cult of personality in North Korea, Kim, a short, pudgy man with a pompadour and platform shoes, is king.

After all, this is a man who pilots jet fighters — even though he always travels by land for his infrequent trips abroad. He has penned operas, produced movies and accomplished a feat unmatched in the annals of professional golf, shooting 11 holes-in-one on the first round he ever played.

If we can believe Kim Jong Il–and why not believe such a skilled golfer?–then North Korea already has nuclear weapons. Presumably, these were being worked on while former President Jimmy Carter was leading North Korea into the Agreed Framework, a negotiated agreement to prevent the North Koreans from doing exactly what they claim to have done. Cox and Forkum explain easily how Kim could have lied to President Carter. Frankly, it is in the nature of a communist dictator to say what he wants. The decades of lies issuing from the Soviet Union should provide ample proof.

In a National Review Online article in 2002, John O’Sullivan put North Korea and Iraq together with the disaster of President Carter’s negotiations on behalf of then-President Clinton:

We now know, of course, that though presidential candidate George Bush was mocked by the “experts” two years ago when he criticized the Washington-Pyongyang agreement as dangerously lacking in “transparency,” he was absolutely right. Apply the lessons of North Korea to Iraq. North Korea and Iraq are both dangerous because they are both secretive totalitarian regimes bent upon maximizing their power through the possession of nuclear weapons. Those who ignored these transparent facts in the case of North Korea — including Bill Clinton, the U.S. State Department, the New York Times, Jimmy Carter (and not forgetting the Nobel Prize Committee) — should humbly observe a vow of silence on Iraq. Instead they are observing a vow of silence of North Korea.

“But we didn’t find any WMDs in Iraq!” I hear the doubters cry. While it is true that we haven’t found masses of WMDs in Iraq, there is evidence that 1) Iraq had manufactured/procured WMDs–witness Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds, and the terrorists’ use of Iraqi mortar shells containing mustard gas and Sarin in their IEDs, 2) Iraq passed a large supply of WMDs to Syria that were later caught as they crossed from Syria into Jordan, and 3) Saddam Hussein was most interested in getting his hands on working nuclear weapons. That is what his nuclear scientists were doing in Libya; when Saddam fell from power, Qadhafi didn’t want the presence of those scientists in his country to attract American ire.

And so we come to Syria. Another Ba’athist party-run nation, as Iraq was under Hussein, Syria has some very strong political ties with the deposed Iraqi regime. As mentioned above, Syria has been a long-time supporter of terrorism, and it has been controlling the disaster that is Lebanon for the past two decades. As the ever-so-lovely wife pointed out, “Lebanon is a NINO: a nation in name only.” But this NINO is starting to shake off its Syrian-forged chains. When I first started to write this article, those chains were still firmly in place, but things are changing in Lebanon. Syrian-backed Prime Minister Omar Karami said that he and his government are resigning: “Out of concern that the government does not become an obstacle to the good of the country, I announce the resignation of the government I had the honor to lead.” They are resigning because of the pressure being put to bear on them by the Lebanese people rising up and calling for Syria to leave Lebanon, which it has pledged to do.

Why is Syria reacting this way? It could swarm into Lebanon and put down the uprising, just as the Soviet Union quashed the Hungarian uprising in 1956. But so far it has not. Why? Could it be the armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door? Could it be that these armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door are increasingly not being tied down in Iraq? Could it be the armed masses of coalition forces parked right next door that are increasingly not being tied down in Iraq were also the force that destroyed the strongest military force in the Arab world in three weeks, and could squish Syria like a grape? Could be. And it could also have something to do with 8 million Iraqi people giving Syria the purple finger.

I’m becoming hopeful that Syria will see the changing tide in the Middle East and will change itself. It is showing this change in how it is reacting to the changes in Lebanon, by its choice to turn over to Iraqi custody Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and 29 other high-level people. I can practically hear Syria saying, “What Iraqi Ba’athists? Oh, you mean these Iraqi Ba’athists. Gosh, how did that ever happen? Here, you have ‘em.”

Finally, there is Iran. I saved this nation for last, because it is both the most populous and, arguably, the most dangerous of the seven nations. Iran has been the most active state-sponsored terrorist nation for decades. It has been led since the 1970s by religious leaders who have taught the Iranian people to hate the U.S with a passion. Don’t believe me? Recently, Iranians in the United States wanted to hold an anti-American celebration in the Marriott hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. While this Washington Post article explains that the event was shut down, it doesn’t report the planned event’s full name: “Twenty-Sixth Anniversary of the Glorious Victory of the Islamic Revolution and Death to America Day.”

Iran is currently at work on its own nuclear program. Yep. This nation, possessed of vast oil reserves, ostensibly needs nuclear plants to provide power for its people. But we don’t have to worry about Iran creating nuclear weapons because their plans are completely peaceful. You can trust them. Really.

France, Germany, and Britain have entered into an agreement with Iran to supply the bits and pieces necessary to get the country’s nuclear reactors up and running, and Iran in turn has promised not to enrich the uranium into bomb-capable material. At the same time, the three countries are recognizing that Iran has the right to go ahead and enrich the uranium. In other words, these three nations have become tools to the Iranians. Why shouldn’t Iran enter into nuclear negotiations with the West when it has learned from the way the West has treated North Korea? Daniel Eisenberg explained this in a article which has since disappeared from CNN’s website, but is still accessible via the Google cache:

Meanwhile, the IAEA has discovered that despite its agreement to temporarily suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment, Iran was continuing to do maintenance work on a uranium-enrichment plant in southern Iran.

At the same time, the Iranians have allegedly finished designing a prototype of a detonator for a nuclear bomb, according to an opposition group based in Paris. Taking their cue from North Korea, the Iranians have seen “that you can extend a negotiating process and still build nukes,” says Bruno Tertrais, senior research fellow at the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris.

Thank you, President Carter, for setting Iranian expectations about negotiations, thanks to your Agreed Framework failure with North Korea.

Europeans are concerned about a possible military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities as a “mistake.” This is understandable when one considers that several European countries have a financial stake in Iran, providing the country’s nuclear reactor parts. This is strikingly similar to the “oil for peace” buyoffs that France, Germany, and Russia were receiving from Saddam Hussein. No wonder these three countries were so loud in denouncing President Bush’s plan to remove Hussein from power. They could see their gravy train leaving the station once Hussein fell.

And this year’s Neville Chamberlain Cluelessness Award goes to… *envelope opening* the Democrat Senator from Delaware, Joseph Biden! An article in the Boston Globe states: “Biden said that even if Iran was a full democracy like India, it would want nuclear capability, like India. What the world needed to address was Iran’s emotional needs, he said, with a nonaggression pact.”

The most recent notable non-aggression pact was between Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviet Union. It didn’t last very long. But Neville Chamberlain is remembered now for a document he signed just before the beginning of hostilities by Nazi Germany. Chamberlain, the British prime minister, visited Hitler and signed a negotiated non-aggression pact. As he stepped off his plane back from Germany, he waved a printed statement that was “symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again.” He announced later, “I believe it is peace for our time.”

Prime Minister Chamberlain learned, to his sorrow, that signing papers and entering negotiations with dictators is pointless. President Carter has hopefully learned this lesson after finding out that his negotiations with North Korea were likewise meaningless. But Senator Biden still holds faith in a non-aggression pact.

Here’s your Chamberlain Cluelessness Award, Senator. I hope you don’t come to regret your words as much as Chamberlain did.

Addendum (3/7/2005): Still doubt that President Bush’s action against Saddam Hussein has had an effect on the people of the region? Here is a quote from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Turkish Press:

At the end of the interview, which was conducted last week, Assad said: “Please send this message: I am not Saddam Hussein. I want to cooperate.”

It might have been the photos of a grubby Saddam Hussein being pulled out of his rat hole.