In the 10th and 11th Centuries, waves of marauding Vikings were paid off by frightened kings in an effort to keep the Vikings from attacking their lands. The tribute was known as Danegeld, or literally “Dane’s gold,” although most payments were made in many thousands of pounds of silver. It didn’t take long for the Vikings to realize that they could raise more money faster by merely threatening to attack, rather than actually attacking and taking the silver by force.

Almost a thousand years later, Rudyard Kipling explained the dangers of Danegeld in his poem of the same name:

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
  To call upon a neighbour and to say: –
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
  Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
  And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ‘em the Dane-geld
  And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
  To puff and look important and to say: –
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
  We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
  But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
  You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
  For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
  You will find it better policy to say: –

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
  No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
  And the nation that pays it is lost!”

This is why we don’t negotiate with terrorists, and it explains why Neville Chamberlain failed with Hitler, and why President Carter failed with North Korea and the Agreed Framework.

But there is an additional danger that comes with Danegeld. Once you have become addicted to the money of Danegeld, the person paying it has power over you and can tell you what to do if you want another payment, as typified in this story from the Associated Press:

A group of Republican senators is questioning high salaries and expensive travel bills for executives at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, raising issues that could jeopardize millions in federal funding for the national charity.

The four senators said they were concerned that the chief executive of a charity that has been closing local clubs for lack of funding was compensated nearly $1 million in 2008. They also questioned why in the same year officials spent $4.3 million on travel, $1.6 million on conferences, conventions and meetings, and $544,000 in lobbying fees.

“The question is whether or not a very top-heavy organization might be siphoning off federal dollars that should be going to help kids,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

The issues they raise could threaten the reputation of a popular charity that supports 4,300 local Boys & Girls Clubs serving about 4.8 million children. The timing threatens a bill moving through the Senate that would provide up to $425 million in federal money to the national organization over the next five years.

The Boys & Girls Club is a great idea, and they do a good work with many of the youth of this nation, but they shouldn’t be paid a dime of taxpayer money. Any funding of the Boys & Girls Clubs should come from voluntary private donations. Yes, that means that there would be less money for the charity, but it would free the people from the silver-gilded chains of control of the U.S. Senate.

And to the millions of Americans who are likewise controlled by the Danegeld of federal aid, cast off your chains and breathe the fresh air of freedom!

There is an old saying that children should be seen and not heard. I’m guessing it comes from the Victorian era, but I would love to see it apply to American ex-Presidents, especially Democrats since they seem to have an especially hard time keeping their yaps shut. To prove the point, here is a comment made by one-term President Jimmy Carter while overseas:

Former President Jimmy Carter said on Friday the “atrocious economic policies” of the Bush administration had caused the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Carter told reporters on a stopover in Brussels that “profligate spending,” massive borrowing and dramatic tax cuts since President George W. Bush took office in 2001 were behind the market turmoil and economic crisis.

“I think it’s because of the atrocious economic policies of the Bush administration,” said the 84-year-old Democrat, who served in the White House from 1977-1981 during a period of high inflation and energy crisis.

First, former American presidents are just that: former. Think “has been” or “old news” to get the full picture.

Second, the current turmoil comes from housing problems, not spending, borrowing or tax cuts. To lay the blame at President Bush’s feet is naive at best, and utterly dishonest at worst.

Third, the housing problems we are currently experiencing can be traced to the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, signed into law by *drumroll* President Jimmy Carter himself. Granted, it took another Democrat president (*cough* President Clinton *cough*) to really get it rolling in 1995, with the added bonus of Democrat mismanagement in Congress to upgrade the housing problem from the “meh” level to its current status of “HOLY #$%@ COW!”

Finally, it is clear from President Carter’s comments that he doesn’t adhere to the standard that internal politics end at the nation’s shores. We can argue all we want at home, but once we go abroad, we close ranks and stand united as Americans. Seems he’s more than willing to score political points in a foreign land by repeating Democrat lying talking points.

So I’m for amending the old saying — children, and has-been Presidents, should be seen and not heard.

It's Schadenfreude Man!Schadenfreude is a German word that means the enjoyment that comes from watching other people suffer some misfortune. Which is why Schadenfreude Man is standing there with a grin on his face in the Dr. Fun comic to the right (click to expand).

Which brings us to the current American financial woes. Names like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman, and AIG are big in the news, and socialists who hate capitalism are overcome with schadenfreude. To illustrate the point, I offer up an article published on the Spiegel website by Marc Pitzke titled, “The World As We Know It Is Going Down.” The title comes from a broker by the name of James Allroy as quoted in the article. If you have nothing interesting to do or need help sleeping, read the almost 1,300 word article in its entirety; for the rest of you, let me point out two sentences. The first leapt out at me from the twelfth paragraph:

In fact, it really does look as if the foundations of US capitalism have shattered.

The second sentence came four paragraphs later:

The only thing that is certain is that the era of the unbridled free-market economy in the US has passed — at least for now.

I can’t speak for you, but I can easily imagine Pitzke rubbing his hands with delighted schadenfreude at the idea of America’s free-market economy tanking. And if free-market capitalism doesn’t work, then what other options are there? Well, people love Karl Marx’s ideas of communism and communism lite, also known as socialism. Neither one makes me happy, but I’m neither a communist nor a socialist.

Are America’s current financial problems proof that an “unbridled free-market economy” has failed us? You could make that argument if you believed that the free market got us to this position, but it didn’t. Government intervention got us to this point.

To trace this problem, we have to go back to the days of President Carter. The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977 (sometimes mistakenly called the “Community Redevelopment Act”) specified that financial institutions had to “meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate.” It was designed to help minorities and the poor buy homes by keeping banks from denying them home loans. Turning down a loan request would be taken as prima facie evidence of racism, and the government would come down on the bank like a ton of regulatory bricks. In other words, the federal government required banks to give loans to Joe CreditRisk, ignoring Joe’s spotty job history, spotty credit record, and spotty credit payment history. Is it any wonder that there were more high-risk loans?

In 1995 President Clinton pushed for, and got, a stronger CRA. Thanks to this update, subprime mortgages for Joe CreditRisk were secured by CRA loans, leading to another increase in high-risk loans. Between 1993 and 1998, CRA loans grew by 39%, while other types of loans grew by 17%. Did this growth occur because the free market ordinarily rewards people who are proven bad credit risks? A truly free-market bank would be very hesitant to make lots of loans to people who would be unlikely to pay them off. But thanks to government intervention, the banking industry was no longer truly free-market. As a banker, you either danced to the government’s tune and offered risky loans to people who were unlikely to pay them back, or the feds would be knocking at your business doors to close you down, you horrible racist, you.

So what was the end result of government’s heavy-handed control over risky loans? Well — duh — lots of risky loans. But as long as housing prices continued to grow and grow, the banks and lending institutions could use the good deals to balance out the bad ones. But then the housing bubble popped, and high-risk debtors turned out to be — surprise, surprise — bad at making their loan payments. Having created the problem in the first place by messing around with the free market, the government stepped in to “fix” the problem with massive buyouts (with taxpayer money) for some, and giving a middle finger to others.

Is the banking crisis evidence of the collapse of America’s free-market capitalism, as Marc Pitzke maintains? No. It is the obvious result of government mucking around where it shouldn’t be. What we have here is the obvious result of a government-controlled market. In other words: Marxism sucks, and how!

It’s official — former Vice President Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with global warming.

Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Friday for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change and lay the foundations for counteracting it.

Contrary to what you might think, it wasn’t awarded because of his huge CO2-spewing house and CO2-spewing private jet junkets, but because of his vanity puff-piece movie, An Inconvenient Truth. I call it a vanity puff-piece because the movie is not about global warming as much as it is about Al Gore talking about global warming.

But is Gore’s movie and subsequent CO2-spewing trips to blab about global warming really the best candidate for this award? I have to believe that the answer is no because of the poor science behind the movie. I’ve already written about Gore’s movie, but since then, there have been some interesting news items come out about his movie.

A truck driver in England brought Gore’s movie to court because he believed it was biased, inaccurate, and shouldn’t be shown to school children as fact. The final ruling isn’t in yet, but the judge on the case has found 11 inaccuracies in the film. (hat-tip Climate Skeptic) Here is the listing of the 11 inaccuracies from the movie, as specified by the judge.

  • The film claims that melting snows on Mount Kilimanjaro evidence global warming The Government’s expert was forced to concede that this is not correct.
  • The film suggests that evidence from ice cores proves that rising CO2 causes temperature increases over 650,000 years. The Court found that the film was misleading: over that period the rises in CO2 lagged behind the temperature rises by 800-2000 years.
  • The film uses emotive images of Hurricane Katrina and suggests that this has been caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that it was “not possible” to attribute one-off events to global warming.
  • The film shows the drying up of Lake Chad and claims that this was caused by global warming. The Government’s expert had to accept that this was not the case.
  • The film claims that a study showed that polar bears had drowned due to disappearing arctic ice.  It turned out that Mr Gore had misread the study: in fact four polar bears drowned and this was because of a particularly violent storm.
  • The film threatens that global warming could stop the Gulf Stream throwing Europe into an ice age: the Claimant’s evidence was that this was a scientific impossibility.
  • The film blames global warming for species losses including coral reef bleaching. The Government could not find any evidence to support this claim.
  • The film suggests that the Greenland ice covering could melt causing sea levels to rise dangerously. The evidence is that Greenland will not melt for millennia.
  • The film suggests that the Antarctic ice covering is melting, the evidence was that it is in fact increasing.
  • The film suggests that sea levels could rise by 7m causing the displacement of millions of people. In fact the evidence is that sea levels are expected to rise by about 40cm over the next hundred years and that there is no such threat of massive migration.
  • The film claims that rising sea levels has caused the evacuation of certain Pacific islands to New Zealand. The Government are unable to substantiate this and the Court observed that this appears to be a false claim.

Yeah. This is worth awarding the Nobel Peace Prize. Rush Limbaugh pointed out this week that Mother Theresa got the Nobel Peace Prize after a life-time of service. Al Gore makes an inaccurate movie that is more a vehicle for his own vanity than it is about global warming, and he gets the same prize. The bar has really been lowered.

In other environmental news, the Nobel Peace Prize was also awarded this year to a German chemist, Gerhard Ertl, for his work that can explain the destruction of the ozone layer.

“Surface chemistry can even explain the destruction of the ozone layer as vital steps in the reaction actually take place on the surfaces of small crystals of ice in the stratosphere,” the award citation said.

That would be really impressive if it weren’t for some other news in the chemistry world this year. As written up in Nature, “Chemists poke holes in ozone theory.”

“Our understanding of chloride chemistry has really been blown apart,” says John Crowley, an ozone researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz, Germany.

“Until recently everything looked like it fitted nicely,” agrees Neil Harris, an atmosphere scientist who heads the European Ozone Research Coordinating Unit at the University of Cambridge, UK. “Now suddenly it’s like a plank has been pulled out of a bridge.”

And here’s the final paragraph with my emphasis added.

Nothing currently suggests that the role of CFCs must be called into question, Rex stresses. “Overwhelming evidence still suggests that anthropogenic emissions of CFCs and halons are the reason for the ozone loss. But we would be on much firmer ground if we could write down the correct chemical reactions.”

It’s still man’s fault, but they can’t prove it. Yep. Sounds like rock-solid science to me. And well worth awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a chemist who can “explain the destruction of the ozone layer” when that same chemistry is being called into question. And while Gore’s movie is being called into question, why not award him, too? But they have a history of doing this. Former President Jimmy Carter was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his work for peace and the Agreed Framework with North Korea. The same Agreed Framework that North Korea announced in 2002 that they had violated from the beginning.

At this point I don’t have any respect for the selection process of the Nobel Peace Prize. I only write this because liberals will be applauding Saint Gore for his prize, and they will ignore the shaky science behind it.

The good news is that Iran has announced it will release the 15 British sailors and Marines captured over a week ago by Iranian forces. Britain says it was performing its duty in Iraqi waters, but Iran claims British forces were in Iranian waters. Frankly, I don’t trust anything coming out of Iran, knowing that they have admitted to lying before. This reminds me of another time when Iran held Westerners as hostage. I’m old enough to remember hearing the nightly news reporters count the number of days that Americans had been held hostage by the Iranian government. After 444 days, Iran released these hostages as President Reagan stepped into office. Their release came because of actions taken by President Carter on the eve of leaving office. And President Carter pretty much gave Iran everything it wanted in the Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981. Iran was paid, and Iran released the hostages. So what did Iran get in exchange for their current British hostages? We may never know, but I do know that once you start paying the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

Again I am struck by the way history appears to be repeating itself. Back in the early months of 1936, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. But here’s the interesting thing that we didn’t realize until many years and millions of dead later: Hitler could have been stopped easily at that point, as outlined in the following snippet from Wikipedia:

Heinz Guderian, a German general interviewed by French officers after the Second World War, claimed: “If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen”. Hitler himself later said:

“The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance.”

Had France squawked about the re-arming of the Rhineland, Hitler would have been forced to retreat, and that retreat would have caused him to lose power. But France had no backbone, so Hitler proceeded, and millions died. Merci beaucoup, France.

Did we just miss the equivalent event this time around? I am afraid that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the same man who is thought to have been involved in the U.S. Embassy overthrow in 1979 — received his Danegeld to negotiate the release of the British hostages. This makes me wonder whether we just missed the opportunity to use a little force now in order to stop a greater threat later. And make no mistake: Iran poses a threat to the Middle East and the world right now with its support and funding of terrorism, and it will become an even worse threat when the country gets nuclear weapons.

In 1936, Hitler could have been overthrown easily with a show of force at the right time. Have we missed the opportunity to do the same in 2007 with Ahmadinejad in Iran? I hope not.

The Washington Post has written an article about former President Jimmy Carter.

For an event that would turn a page in American history, former President Jimmy Carter has agreed in principle to host former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami for talks during his visit to the United States starting this week.

It is a standard practice of social etiquette to continue to refer to any former American President as President. It is a symbol of respect for the office and for the service rendered while in that office. And while I will often refer to someone by just their last name, I try not to do that for former Presidents, even impeached, cigar-hiding Presidents.

President Carter isn’t a formal part of our government system anymore, but he is still afforded respect for his service. So I am dismayed to read in the Washington Post that he is willing (and probably eager) to deal with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami because this appears to skirt dangerously close to breaking the Logan Act.

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply himself, or his agent, to any foreign government, or the agents thereof, for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

Yes, President Carter is not meeting with a formal member of the Iranian government, but just as President Carter retains a semblance of government involvement, so does former Iranian president Khatami. If President Carter has the intent to ” influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government ” or “defeat the measures of the United States” then he is guilty of violating the Logan Act.

If I were President Bush, I’d send President Carter a little note telling him to stop mucking with the government’s workings with other countries, a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” sort of note to basically tell him to shut the @#$% up and go back to his peanut farm or house building. Yes, that’s a tad harsh, but when people refuse to get the message, you sometimes have to be blunt.

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.