Bret Stephens on Saif al-Islam Qaddafi's free pass Several years ago, Bret Stephens sat next to Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam at Davos. The younger Qaddafi extolled, of all things, the strengths of the Israeli military, and Stephens wondered, "Did the scarcely veiled critique of his father's regime--indeed, of the very way he came to power--hint at a broader change in political direction for Libya, or was it just fodder for credulous Westerners?" he writes in The Wall Street Journal. "Shortly after my encounter with Seif, the case of Libya's imprisoned Bulgarian nurses--preposterously accused of infecting hundreds of Libyan children with HIV... burst freshly into view." It was one of many outrages, including Qaddafi's declaration of jihad against Switzerland and the warm welcome given the Lockerbie bomber, who had been released on a technicality from Scotland. Stephens recalls that the Libyan secret police arrested Rafram Chadad, an Israeli artist, and tortured him as a spy, though they knew he was not. Saif al-Islam Qaddafi knew and happily admitted to all of these actions. "Seif, in other words, knew that his was a kingdom of cruelty." Westerners continued to describe him hopefully as a potential reformer. But when the revolution broke out, he remained loyal to his father, and is now under arrest and potentially facing trial for war crimes. He is a "fresh reminder that tyrants are not just tortured souls or over-zealous ideologues or misunderstood dreamers, and that evil is never banal and often self-conscious." Most concerning is the history in the West of looking past Saif's offenses. "Nearly everybody, out of some combination of moral indifference, economic self-interest, political calculation or a willingness to suspend disbelief, wanted to give Seif and his father's regime a pass," Stephens writes.
Charles Fried on questioning Senator Scott Brown Scott Brown's campaign is already asking Charles Fried for donations now that Elizabeth Warren shows signs of opposing him in the Massachusetts Senate race, he writes in The Boston Globe. "Since the '70s I have only once voted for a Democrat for any national office, and that was only after John McCain (on one of whose committees I had served) picked Sarah Palin as his running mate," he writes. "Yet the last three years have been a difficult time to be a Republican." Republicans have made it clear that their goal is not governance, but ruining Obama's presidency, with moves like opposing the debt ceiling, he says. "Those of my party who participated in the disgraceful maneuvers of the last two years should be turned out of office," Fried writes, and so he wonders whether Scott Brown fits into this category. "At least Brown didn't choose default over the budget deal forced on us by McConnell and Boehner. But will Brown accept the principle that there must be revenue increase--maybe some rate increases but certainly the elimination of loopholes and trimming of some deductions? Yes or no? Does he agree with Warren Buffett that it is outrageous that a billionaire financier pays taxes at a lower rate than his receptionist? ... On the other hand, is he willing to stand up to Nancy Pelosi--who keeps me in the Republican Party--and forthrightly admit that it makes sense to raise the age for Social Security eligibility and to adjust the unrealistic annual cost-of-living increase?" Fried believes Brown will answer these questions honestly, but he also must answer them correctly and confidently if he wants the loyalty of a Republican voter like Fried.