Monday, January 19, 2004

The Battle of Algiers
On Saturday night, I saw The Battle of Algiers, the classic 1965 film about the FLN's resistance of the French in the 1950s. It remains one of the most powerful illustrations of the difficulties of a counter-insurgency campaign, showing that even if the campaign is successful, as France's was, the political effects may be so harmful as to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, also in France's case, because the Algerian war led metropolitan France to the brink of civil war and ushered in de Gaulle and the Fifth Republic. It is relevant to both Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and, to some extent, the American occupation in Iraq. The New York Times ran an article about "Algiers" and a forthcoming documentary on Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara entitled The Fog of War, reprinted in the Chicago Tribune. McNamara, of course, presented with a similar war of insurgency, chose to refight World War II on the Mekong River delta instead of fighting a counter-insurgency campaign as the French did in Algeria (and the Americans did in the Philippines in the first decade of the twentieth century). (For more on America's counter-insurgency wars consult Max Boot's excellent book The Savage Wars of Peace.)

One more note about the film: I saw it at a theater in Chicago that specializes in old and independent films. I should have expected that people in the audience would applaud when the Algerians blew up French special forces, but it was still disgusting, especially considering that the film does not glorify either side, but rather presents the war as it was.
Across the pond
I recently visited the United Kingdom, where I met some friends, including Fredrik, a former AEI colleague. This was only my second trip to Britain. Some observations:
1) I'm slightly unsettled at how America is presented to Britons, especially when one considers that "Jerry Springer: the opera" enjoys some popularity on the London theater circuit and Michael Moore's latest screed is ubiquitous. While I do not doubt the importance of the 'special relationship,' I wonder if culture will steer British attitudes further in the direction of those held by their continental counterparts.
2) Fast food: despite widespread criticism of the globalization of fast food (including the opening of the first Starbucks in Paris), McDonald's, KFC, and Starbucks are apparently quite popular.
3) England outside of London is a nice change. I was in Manchester for several days and heard nary an American accent and few American chain stores aside from the expected Starbucks. Having seen the Other England, I'm more convinced that the UK has no business being at the 'heart of Europe.' The English remain distinctly English, and it would be a tragedy if opportunistic politicians were to fold the English identity into a fictitious 'European' identity.

In another week, I will be returning to Washington to work at the American Enterprise Institute, and will do my best to post on what I see and hear in D.C.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

Targeting the Industry
A genre of legislation is making its way through the halls of Congress and state legislatures across the nation. Lawmakers are attempting to immunize gun manufacturers from being sued when guns are used and people are harmed as a result. The manufacturers themselves cannot logically be negligent in instances where their products - guns - cause harm when an individual uses/abuses the product without the product itself being flawed. It's analogous to suing Ford when a drunk driver kills someone in his mustang.

Gun manufacturers are vulnerable targets for lawsuits of this nature in the status quo. This reflects yet another emotional and irrational outcry in America's unconstitutional war against guns. When used defensively, guns save lives, and individuals who have the ethical right to life should also be secure in the ethical right to self-defense. Gun-control does not remove the right to self-defense, but effectively removes the mechanism by which an individual can adequitly defend him/herself.

The Legislative branch should move immediately to protect manufacturers from these expensive lawsuits, if only to not unfairly place the courts in the unfair position of having to allow families of victims - under due process - their day in court to jab at the maker of the gun used by a criminal.
Welcome everyone
This is the new ConcordBridge "BridgeBlog." I've done the work setting it up but now its up to Justin and Toby to do the rest. So go bug them to give you accounts so that you can post here. If you have any questions or comments concerning how to blog or the appearance/functionality of the blog, you can email me at rnadgor at