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A SHORT HISTORY OF RUSSIAJack WheelerJanuary 1985[Note the date. Written in 1985 during the Cold War, Russia formed the basis of the Soviet Union]At various times in her history, America has been at war with and has had as deadly enemies: the French, the English, the Spanish, the Germans, the Italians, the Mexicans, and the Japanese. All are today our friends and allies. There is nothing in the nature of things that makes it impossible for this to someday be the case with the Russians as well.Yet it is important to understand how the Russians are not like us -- how their history enabled them to transform themselves into Soviets running an Evil Empire called the Soviet Union.



Patricia Hewitt, Health Secretary in Tony Blair's cabinet, was upset by pictures broadcast from Iran of the 15 captive British sailors and marines, reported Christopher Booker of the Sunday Telegraph. "It was deplorable that the woman hostage should be shown smoking," Ms. Hewitt said.  "This sends completely the wrong message to our young people." When liberals cower when petty thugs make threats (which is pretty much whenever petty thugs make threats), conservatives,  understandably, suspect them of cowardice.  But Ms. Hewitt's bizarre response to her country's humiliation suggest something else is at work. The most remarkable aspect of this most recent Iranian hostage crisis is the lengths to which so many prominent people in the West have gone to make excuses for inexcusable Iranian behavior.



It is a commonplace in a story or article about the Arab-Israeli conflict that mentions Jerusalem to repeat the Moslem mantra that “Jerusalem is the third holiest city in all Islam, next to Mecca and Medina.” You’ve heard this innumerable times -- but how come? Just why is Jerusalem so important to not just Jews and Christians but Moslems as well?



Insight magazine reports that Al Gore is contemplating running for the nominee of the Green Party. Both he and Ralph Nader are evidently convinced that Hillary Clinton will get the Democrat nomination, and Mr. Nader is urging Mr. Gore to take her on under the Green banner. There is little love lost between Mr. Gore and the Clintons, and if you're living in a fantasy world (as Mr. Gore largely has been since his shattering defeat), there are two good reasons to convince yourself you could win as a third party candidate, or accomplish something important even if you didn't.



Have you ever noticed that the older you get, the scarier the world gets -- because you keep noticing that many of the folks who run it are not very smart?I was at a private luncheon in Washington earlier this week and among the guests were two guys from the CIA. Not only were they clueless -- we were discussing Russia -- they were just not bright. OK -- so picking on folks from the Three Bad Words is too easy. Let’s raise the bar and talk about the Chinese.There are a lot of people here in DC who constantly worry about the Chinese, and predict the Chicoms -- China’s Communist rulers -- will soon pose the greatest threat to America’s security. The worriers offer considerable evidence for their argument and they may well be right. But here’s a question:If the Chinese are so smart, how come they are busy surrounding themselves with neighbors who can aim nuclear missiles at them?



Two female explorers, Ann Bancroft and Liv Arnesen, planned a trek across the Arctic Ocean earlier this month to highlight the dangers of global warming.  They had to call the expedition off because it was too cold. "One night they measured the temperature inside their tent at 58 degrees below zero, and outside temperatures were exceeding 100 below zero at times," Ann Atwood, who helped organize the expedition, told the Associated Press. "They were experiencing temperatures that weren't expected with global warming," Ms. Atwood acknowledged.  "One of the things we see with global warming is unpredictability," she said. Uh, Ms. Atwood, one thing people who haven't drunk the Kool Aid can predict is that it'll be mighty cold in the Arctic in winter. (Jack Wheeler, who has been to the North Pole 21 times, told me he fell out of his chair laughing at this news item.  "What ditzes," he observed.) The Jim Jones of this Kool Aid testified on Capitol Hill last Wednesday. 



The critical insight about the Soviet Union that led to its downfall was -- as I explained in countless Reagan Doctrine briefings during the 1980s -- that the Soviet Union didnt simply possess an imperialist empire of colonies beyond its borders: it was itself a colonial empire within its borders.



To its enemies, the most endearing quality of the Bush administration must be the frequency with which the Bushies act as if they've done something wrong, even when they haven't. President Bush caused himself no end of grief when he apologized for saying in his 2003 state of the union address "the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa," even though every word of it was true.  That blunder may have been topped by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at his news conference last Wednesday.  The "senior Justice Department official" who told reporters Mr. Gonzales' performance was "disastrous" was being kind.

Only President Bush, with his apparently boundless enthusiasm for mediocrities (Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job), imagined that Mr. Gonzales was a good choice to be attorney general, and he has lived down to the expectations most held for him. 



It was a gorgeous spring day in Washington D.C. when I got a call from Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA). The year was 1995. "Hey, Jack, can you come to my office late this afternoon? The Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg and his entourage will be here and I'd like you in on the meeting."



These are good times for moonbats, hard times for wingnuts.  This bodes ill for Democratic prospects in 2008. "Moonbat" is a term popularized by the Web logger Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) to describe people on the extreme left.  "Wingnut" is a term coined by liberals to describe those on the extreme right. Most of us learn by the third grade the difference between addition and subtraction.  But both moonbats and wingnuts think a majority can be built by driving away everyone who doesn't agree with them totally on everything. Little better illustrates the rising influence of moonbats than the on again, off again efforts by Democratic leaders in Congress to hamstring the war effort in Iraq by imposing crippling conditions on the defense appropriations bill.