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In the spring of 2000, I was the keynote speaker at a conference of business leaders from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela, held in Cartagena, Colombia. The fellows from Venezuela all had the same question: What can we do about Hugo Chavez?I told them they had to face reality. As an admirer and protégé of Fidel Castro, there is one way and one way only he will leave office: in a coffin. This was not what they wanted to hear...Democracy is not only the best guarantor of peace between countries, but the best guarantor of peace within a country as well. When people can choose their government with ballots they do not have to - nor have any moral right to - resort to bullets.Here’s the flip side: When people cannot choose their government with ballots, then they do have to resort to bullets - and they have a moral right to.Democracy is institutionalized peace. Dictatorship is institutionalized violence. So let’s state it clearly: A dictator has no right to life. By his violent and murderous suppression of freedom, the people so suppressed have the moral right to terminate his existence.



For the sake of a few dollars more, NBC has brought closer the day of the next public mass killing in America. "This was a sick business tonight, going on the air with this," acknowledged NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams of his network's decision to air portions of the "multimedia manifesto" Cho Seung-Hui mailed NBC in the interval between his murder sprees on the Virginia Tech campus. It was indeed a sick business decision.  Mass killings inspire copycats. "School campuses in at least 10 states were locked down or evacuated in the aftermath of a Virginia Tech student's shooting rampage," the AP reported Wednesday. NBC is not alone in its guilt.  Every news organization which rebroadcast portions of the video, or newspapers (like mine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for which I write a column) which published still photographs of Mr. Cho posing with his weapons is complicit. We say we do this to protect "the people's right to know."  The real reason, of course, is we hope the titillation will increase our number of viewers or readers. But as we fatten our bottom lines, we send a message to every sociopathic loser: Wanna be famous?  Go kill a lot of people.  We'll put your face and your story and your alleged grievances into every home in America.



As an Army General, Colin Powell knows how to wage war. Unfortunately, the kind of war he knows how to wage best is bureaucratic, not military. Worse than unfortunately, the war he is waging is against his own president.It is tempting to hurl accusations of treason or something close to it in the face of the State Department’s chronic obsession of coddling America’s enemies. But with rare exceptions, the Pinstripes are far from traitors and look upon themselves as loyal Americans. Conservatives need to resist the urge to question their patriotism, and examine instead their method of diplomatic reasoning - which can be characterized as Sophisticated Stupidity.



Both supporters and opponents of gun control are shoe-horning the tragedy at Virginia Tech into their pre-established templates.  Both have ammunition. On the one hand, Mr. Cho was able to purchase the firearms he used in the murder spree -- Glock 19 and Walther P-22 handguns -- lawfully at a local gun shop. On the other, the Virginia Tech campus is a "gun free zone," where students, faculty and staff are forbidden to have firearms, even if they have concealed carry permits.  Mr. Cho lived in a dorm on campus, where he stored his weapons and ammunition.  The school's policy banning guns wasn't very effective in Mr. Cho's case. A fundamental difference between supporters and opponents of gun control is their attitude toward personal responsibility.  Liberals tend to offer excuses for the perpetrators of violent acts (he was poor; his mother drank; his daddy beat him), and to assume that potential victims have no right to play a role in their own defense. Those who think the law abiding should be permitted to carry firearms argue that if some of the students, faculty, or staff had been armed, they could have cut Mr. Cho's murder spree short.



The Moslem terrorists who bombed the Madrid trains last month are members of an Islamic movement called Takfir wal Hijra (Repentance and Migration). Originally formed in Egypt in the 1970s as part of Iqwan Muslimi (The Moslem Brotherhood), it was responsible for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, and scores of savage atrocities in Algeria. The organizer of the Madrid terrorism, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is a Takfir. (See Michael Ledeens column on Zarqawi in this weeks TTP report.)

The Takfiris are now leading a reorganized Al Qaeda as the main Islamic threat to the West. For not only do they advocate the most purposefully vicious terrorist acts they can conceive, but also using immigration as a Trojan horse to conduct Jihad inside Western countries.

As a recent Wall Street Journal article (3/29/04, pA16) puts it: Takfiris see immigration as a key way to extend the radical ideas into Western Europe. One Takfiri scholar, Abu Basir, wrote in 2001 that jihad and immigration go together...the one cannot be achieved without the other.

Which brings me to Mexico.



Danny Dietz understood these words of British philosopher John Stuart Mill (1806-1873): "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing that is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept free by the exertions of other men better than himself." Linda Cuesta and Emily Fuchs are among the "miserable creatures" to whom Mill was referring.  They're trying to keep the city of Littleton, Colorado from erecting a statue in honor of Danny Dietz, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Petty Officer Dietz was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest decoration for valor, because, though badly wounded, he fought on to permit his team mates to escape from an ambush.  Ms. Cuesta and Ms. Fuchs are among a small group of parents who want to keep his home town from honoring Petty Officer Dietz because the statue depicts him with his weapon.



[Written ten days after the start of The War in Iraq, March 31, 2003]Let me say it straight. I am almost sixty years old, and I have never in my life been prouder to be an American than I am today.I was talking to my friend Tony Blankley, editorial editor of the Washington Times, the other day, and when I compared George Bush to Ronald Reagan, Tony replied, “It may turn out to be the other way around.”



The 15 British sailors and marines held hostage by Iran, and the members of the Rutgers University women's basketball team both have achieved the highest status contemporary liberalism offers: victimhood. Writing in 1852 about the "emperor" Napoleon III (son of Napoleon's younger brother, who ruled France from 1848 to 1870), Karl Marx said history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.  The British hostage crisis moved seamlessly from the one to the other. Just like the Imus-Rutgers crisis.



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.