On my weekly radio date with Hugh Hewitt, Hugh and I discussed the unraveling of the Middle East and Obama's coziness with Iran. But we started with the news that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had intentionally crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into a mountain:
MARK STEYN: The salient point here, I think, is had he attempted to do this on September the 10th, 2001, the pilot would have, the captain would have been just able to open the door, get in and wrest control of the airplane - or he would have had a sporting chance of doing it. And I think in that sense, it does, it should cause us to reflect on whether we have spent too much time in the last 14 years controlling things – doors, items you take on the plane - and not enough time looking at psychological motivations... And the lesson since 2001 is that generally, going back to the shoe bomber who got on the plane, and it was the passengers who beat the hell out of him and stopped him from lighting up his shoe. That's also true when you look at the panty bomber over Detroit and all the other things. And what happened here is that the good guys were unable to take back control of the plane from the bad guy, and that's very disturbing.
Actually the shoe bomber wasn't the first. On 9/11 itself, the only good news of the day was from Flight 93, when brave passengers figured out what was going on and acted - and prevented a fourth plane from hitting the White House or the Capitol. As a general rule, when something happens at 30,000 feet, the government regulators aren't up there with you, and what determines whether anyone survives or not is whether the fellows who are present have the freedom to act - or whether the regulatory regime has put too many obstacles in the way. On the Germanwings flight, the captain might well have saved the plane - but the impenetrable door was too big an obstacle to overcome. (Richard Fernandez points out a similar death-by-doors on September 11th - 200 people died in the elevators of the World Trade Center because it was assumed that the safest thing to do when an elevator stalls is immediately to disable the doors and keep everyone inside until the professionals can get to them.)
The other big story of the day was the Sunni Arabs' decision to intervene in the chaos in Yemen:
HUGH HEWITT: al-Sisi, the president of the Egypt, whom our president does not much like, has decided with the new king of Saudi Arabia that they're not waiting around for their American pals. They're going to go stop the Shia, the Iranian-backed Shia in Yemen. Jeffrey Goldberg, who's pretty good on this stuff, writes, "Negotiating with the Iranians in Switzerland, bombing their allies in Yemen, bombing their enemies in Syria and Iraq. Makes sense." We are, actually, Mark Steyn, in an incoherent, cataclysmic, incoherent moment.
MS: Yes, it's very weird. At the moment, we just started lending air support to our allies, the Iranians, in the fight to take back Tikrit in Iraq. That operation is being directed by an Iranian general, and the United States Air Force is basically serving as Iran's air force for the purposes of that operation. Meanwhile, down south in Yemen, we're providing support to our other allies, the Saudis, as they go into Yemen to take on the allies of our first allies, the Iranians.
But to the President it all makes sense because it's all Israel's fault:
MS: The entire region is aflame now from West Africa to the Hindu Kush. Four capitals are currently controlled by Tehran. We don't know how many capital cities will be controlled by them by the end. And other states have completely imploded, like Libya, and meanwhile all these various franchises of the jihad are all bulked up and getting along fine. And the idiocy of this administration is that somehow, they think this would all go away if Israel would stop building settlements.
MS: They think a tiny, little strip of land barely wider at its narrowest point than my New Hampshire township is at the root of this regional conflagration.
Hugh then asked me about the upcoming Iran "deal" - a treaty for which Obama, characteristically, will not be seeking the constitutionally required approval of the United States Senate. He wondered whether the Iranians understood that that "deal" would be dead the moment a Republican returned to the White House. I wasn't quite so optimistic:
MS: Well, alternatively, they've made a bet that if, say, the so-called P5+1 - the five Security Council members plus Germany - are on board with some deal, the deal is signed with some big, fancy ceremony with the U.N. Secretary-General, whether an incoming Republican president will have the guts simply to toss that in the garbage can of history. And generally speaking, Obama, when he's bet against the Republicans having the guts to undo this stuff, he's generally been right. It remains to be seen whether they'll undo Obamacare, whether they'll undo executive order amnesty. Given what he's been able to get away with so far, why wouldn't you say hey, come on, let's shoot for it and see whether these guys have the guts to undo it.