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August 05, 2005

Rich Review: Lowry at YAF

This afternoon, for whatever reason, I stopped the DVD I was watching and flipped the channels...delighted to discover National Review's Rich Lowry on CSPAN speaking at the Young America's Foundation Conservative Student Conference.

While I missed his actual speech, I saw much of the question and answer, and it was so good - I took notes! So if you weren't blessed enough to be at the conference and you weren't one of the other 6 CSPAN viewers, here are some high points you missed: (And they aren't in chronological order, in case you are checking up on me:)

1. "Real" Journalism
A student asked about the fact that many who work for National Review had other jobs before becoming journalists and what advice Lowry had for those that wanted to be journalists later in life. After humorously confessing to being a journalism geek (while in high school he video-taped Fireline and played it back until he was sure he had all the arguments correct) he came down on the "elite/mainstream" media for saying that you have to go to journalism school in order to be a "real" journalist. He said that journalism school is often a waste of time and that people hoping to write should read as much as they can and write as much as they can and that
journalism is basically calling people on the phone and getting them to tell you things and then summarizing it.
Ha! I wonder if Mr. Rather would stoop to that kind of description :)

2. The Rise of China
Lowry - It's dangerous when a rising power cannot discern its true national interest
He said that this phenomenon occurred in Germany, pre-World War I when it alienated the rest of Europe for no apparent reason. He expressed concern that China would make a similar mistake.
He may be onto something, because really...has China seemed to exhibit any kind of clear strategy? They maintain this crazy big brother communist grip on their country by monitoring phone calls, letters and emails - but at the same time exalt business growth and other capitalist principles.

However, perhaps it would be worse if China did have some sort of master plan to take over the world - assuming of course that it was better than what Pinky and the Brain would try to implement on a weekly basis.

3. It's just too crazy in North Korea
In the course of answering a question about what to do about the "Axis of Evil" Lowry said:
How much pressure can you put on a guy who's happy to have his people starve and eat grass?
Yeah...good point. I mean, it's already horrible for people in that country and obviously Kim Jong Il doesn't care too much about his country, except for the areas that contain nukes. However, Lowry adds:
China can put pressure on them, but they won't...Perhaps we should say to China "You seem happy with proliferation in the region, so maybe Japan needs nukes too."
This is another good point about China. If they think Kim is too crazy to use the nukes he loves, they might not care how many he makes or tests or whatever. But if they knew that nearby countries with non-crazy leaders had nuclear capabilities they may feel differently about the whole things, especially if those countries decided to side with Taiwan.

4. The Ubiquitous Border Question
I've been meaning to write about this for some time as the Ranger and I have had some discussions about it - and today Rich made my point in just a few sentences:
It's hard to shut down the border as a border because it's just too large. You could stengthen it in certain points but then of course you have the problem of immigrants going to other areas. The key is internal enforcement
YES! Exactly. He went on to describe how we have to crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and refuse to give them driver's licenses. He said we have to basically say "If you broke our laws to come into this country, we don't want you here. Go home."
That sounds right and he admits it will be "very painful" but it's a lot easier and more cost efficient (not to mention feasible) than covering every foot of the border. People are contributing to law breaking inside the country and we already have agencies set up to handle this, let's handle it. If immigrants know that we are cracking down, I don't think they will be as eager to come.
Most important, Lowry added, is that these steps need to be taken before any temporary guest worker program can be put in place.

5. Intelligence Reform?
Will it happen? Can it happen? Lowry contends that the most recent changes are simply like "moving boxes" and not real reform. Unfortunately, he doesn't hold out hope for real reform. He sites some intelligence failures about what it was like on the ground in Iraq - how the electricity was barely working and that if we had a CIA agent simply walk down the street they would have known that.

Mostly though he says that what we need are people who are willing to go into the tough places, blend into the landscape - learning the language and the culture. That real reform means that:

We need people willing to deal with tough, nasty people and ready to do tough, nasty things without, if something goes wrong, being called in front of a congressional committee.

This is so absolutely true. There is very little that can substitute for on the ground human intelligence and if our military and CIA have to worry about reports and questions when working in places like Iraq, Iran, Syria, North Korea and China - they won't be able to do the work that needs to be done.


That's the round up. It was quite good, so if you are flipping the channels and happen upon Rich Lowry on CSPAN, stop a minute and see what there is to learn :)

Posted by Abigail at August 5, 2005 11:23 PM

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