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Mark Steyn on the left’s problems in dealing with Tibet, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, and CBS News.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

HH: The Pulitzers came out this week, and they made a grievous error. They did not nominate Mark Steyn’s America Alone. I cannot believe it, but now Steyn’s America Alone is out in paperback. It is at number five on the list as we speak. We’re going to keep it into the top ten this hour, next, and in the third. Joining me from Washington, D.C. tonight, the author of said America Alone, Mark Steyn, Columnist to the World. Hello, Mark, how are you?

MS: Hey, good to be with you, Hugh. I’m not actually sure I’m technically eligible for the Pulitzers. I think it’s one of these, it’s more restricted than the U.S. presidency. I think you’ve got to be born in the United States, or whatever it says.

HH: Even if your book is published in the U.S? That’s too bad.

MS: Yeah, it’s very restrictive. I know, occasionally, people have talked about putting me in for a Pulitzer for this, that and the other, and it turns out an undocumented American can do almost anything in this country. He can get a fake driver’s license and all the rest of it. But apparently, the Pulitzers still maintain, it’s like an old-time country club. It’s very hard to get into.

HH: Well, that’s work that Americans will do, so they’re very pleased to get the Pulitzers. Mark Steyn, obviously, the paperback just came out, and I’m going to do my shameless plugging, because I think it may be one of the only antidotes we have to people who are leaning towards Obama. Did you write a new forward for it?

MS: Yes, I did. I…basically dealing with events in the last year and a half, that essentially, I think, confirm the thesis of the book, and if anything, suggest that things are happening, if anything, rather faster than I said in the original book.

HH: Now obviously, this is the week of Petraeus on the Hill. And coming up at the bottom of the hour, I’m talking with Vice President Cheney about the testimony this week, and the conflict in Iraq, and the broader war. It’s sort of dreary. It’s Groundhog Day all over again from last September. No matter what happens in Iraq, Democrats don’t care, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, they basically booked the cake and the balloons and the marching band for the big defeat party, and they’re determined to hold the defeat party, no matter what happens, actually, in Iraq. In effect, there’s no real place called Iraq where Iraqis live, as far as they’re concerned. It’s essentially just a political device that was working for them in the 2006 election, isn’t working for them now, and so they’d rather not talk about it at all, or just kind of move the goalposts when General Petraeus comes to report to Congress. General Petraeus, actually, did what serious nations do. Things were drifting in Iraq a year and a half ago, and he changed the facts on the ground. And that is what serious powers need to do if they wish to retain credibility in the world.

HH: Now I’m struck by the fact that when he goes about methodically telling people on the Hill that Iran is killing Americans, and it doesn’t seem to register, I mean, Joe Lieberman was on the program yesterday, and it registered with him, and it registered with some of the Republicans. But the fact that Iran is killing Americans doesn’t seem, Mark, to make an impression on Democrats. Are you surprised, or is that just what we have come to expect?

MS: No, I think essentially, Iran is at war with us, and we’re pretending not to notice. We’re trying not, you know, we’re trying not to catch their eye. But the fact is they regard themselves as being at war with us. And they behave in that way, and they talk in that way, and they behave in a manner that’s consistent with that. And Democrats simply don’t want to acknowledge that. I mean, what I find pathetic about Obama is the shallowness of it all. He says he wants to talk to Ahmadinejad. Well you know, the fact is, the British, the French and the Germans have been talking, talking, talking, talking to the Iranians for years now. And all they’ve done is provide a cover under which Iran can get on with its nuclear program.

HH: Now earlier today at, your colleague at the Corner there, Victor Davis Hanson, pointed out the delicious, if it weren’t tragic, irony that all the lefties are chasing the Olympic torch all over Europe, and now San Francisco, in an effort to make a meaningless gesture about the poor Tibetans. But where we actually could make lives better for people who’ve been oppressed by tyranny for a very long time, where we have overthrown an occupier, they want to run away in Iraq. It doesn’t make any sense, Mark Steyn.

MS: No, because in a way, Free Tibet, I mean, actually, I mention this in America Alone. It’s not really what the book’s about, but I just happened to mention it in passing. Free Tibet is the classic liberal cause. It’s the all-time great bumper sticker. You go to any college in America, they’ve got a Free Tibet society. Everyone’s got the bumper stickers. The left, God bless them, got the bumper sticker in 1957, they put it on the Ford Edsel, and every time they buy a new car, they peel the Free Tibet bumper sticker off and put it on the new car. It’s the quintessential liberal cause in that nothing has happened. Nothing is done. It’s a bumper sticker, and that’s where it ends, and Tibet is less free than it ever was, and in fact, has been comprehensively wrecked and undermined by the Chinese. But they don’t mind as long as they get their little bit of posturing out of it.

HH: Now I was driving to LAX this morning very early, listening to Bill Bennett. And Bill and I have a disagreement which I want to get your assessment of. He doesn’t want Bush to go to the opening ceremonies. He sounds perilously close to urging a boycott. I am one of these people who believe that if you indulge in these kinds of gestures that don’t do anything, you significantly lessen the opportunity to get real things done. Where are you, Mark Steyn? Do you think Bush should go to the Olympics or stay away?

MS: Well, I think there is something sort of disgusting about the world’s leaders gathering in China to, in effect, sign off on this. I think the International Olympic Committee was wrong. And while I think there’s something slightly pathetic about downgrading, you know, that we do that a lot, at this horrible Durban conference on racism, the State Department signaled its displeasure by not sending the Secretary of State, but downgrading to a low level diplomat. The low level diplomat is effectively the gun boat of 21st Century diplomacy. As I said, it’s pathetic. But I do not think, there’s no obligation for the President to be in Beijing. Other heads of state are not going to be there. The Queen is not going to be in Beijing. So I think it’s entirely reasonable to say well, you know, the International Olympic Committee made the wrong call, but if the athletes want to go, that’s one thing. But we’re not going to politically endorse what’s going on there.

HH: And do you think, but go to my argument and persuade me, that if we indulge in that, if we stay away and then Tibet stays as oppressed, and it is a wrecked…I interviewed the Dalai Lama a few years ago, and I did a lot of work on them. They’ve destroyed the Tibetan plateau.

MS: Right.

HH: They’re breeding the Tibetans out of existence…demographics…

MS: Yeah, they’ve had great, huge population movements. Tibet, in a sense, can never be freed. And again, this is the other lesson, I think, that you can’t just leave it as a great cause that makes you feel good. If Afghanistan is a tyranny, you’re under an obligation, if you want to end it, to end it as soon as possible, because eventually, by the time you do liberate it, what’s left will be wrecked. So Afghanistan was liberated by Bush and Blair, who didn’t just make a bumper sticker. They sent the boys in, and they toppled the government. And now Afghan women are allowed to feel sunlight on their faces. That’s how bad it was in Afghanistan.

HH: Right.

MS: Now if you want, it’s too late to do to Tibet what you did to Afghanistan. The tyranny’s been allowed to undermine and destroy the country for too long.

HH: Now let me turn to Darfur, because Nicholas Kristof today, I don’t know if you had a chance on your book tour for America Alone to read the Kristof column today, have you?

MS: No, I haven’t, but I’ve read a lot of his stuff, and especially on Darfur.

HH: Well, he’s right on Darfur, except today, he says that Condi Rice went to the President and said you can’t put troops into Darfur, because that would be the third Muslim country you would have invaded. And he said it sort of approvingly, and I made a mental note, the third country you have liberated if you were to go into Darfur and displace the Sudan murderers there. What is it about the left, Mark Steyn, that they don’t seem to draw the conclusion that the only way…

MS: Yeah, you know, I get mocked about this use of invaded and liberated, too, from time to time. But the fact is, you know, in neither Afghanistan nor Iraq have there been any large scale population demonstrations against U.S. or other allied troops. They are there at the invitation of the sovereign governments of Afghanistan and Iraq, and they are there, generally, with the support of the peoples of those countries. And that would be true in Sudan. And this isn’t sort of postmodern argument. I mean, what we have in Sudan is one bunch of Muslims ethnically cleansing another bunch of Muslims. You’ve got Arab Muslims killing African Muslims. And it’s a sophist arguments for Kristof to put it like that, and I doubt very much whether Condi Rice actually put it that crudely to the President.

HH: Well, I hope they revisit it, because it does seem to me to be that a free Muslim is much happier than one being oppressed, no matter what the government is. Mark Steyn, I want to conclude on a much lighter note, because I read today that CBS is getting ready to throw Katie Couric over the side. I’m going to apply for the job, but I doubt I’ll get it. How would…if you had some advice for CBS to save their tiffany franchise from sinking even further under the waves of ratings death, what would you advise them to do?

MS: Well, I think the news division, they’re talking exactly the wrong thing. They want to outsource the news gathering to CNN so they can spend all their money on the next big glamorous front man who sucks up all the budget, and has fantastic hair, and a fantastic wardrobe. And the reality is that that’s an antiquated, outmoded version of news. It was outmoded when Dan Rather did it, and nobody, that is never coming back. You can’t find a new Walter Cronkite. Those days are over. And I think this…so I think until you’ve got content driving that news bulletin, until there’s a reason to switch it on…because right now, if you’re interested in news, the last place you’d go to it is the CBS Evening News.

HH: That’s exactly right. If you want serious news or analysis, you don’t go to the nightly newscasts, ever.

MS: No, no, that’s actually the place for people who aren’t interested in news. And it’s pathetic in a time of war, and a time of great turbulence and great change, to switch on, and there’ll be the light item about the new fat pill, or whatever. I mean, it’s formulaic, it’s tired, it’s shallow, and it’s unwatchable.

HH: Mark Steyn, congratulations on the launch of the paperback America Alone. It’s linked at, America. Go buy ten and give them to those Obamacons you know.

End of interview.

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