Monthly Archives: September 2003

America, the Hateful

My new favorite columnist at the New York Times, David Brooks, as written yet another amazing piece. Hitting the nail on the head yet another time, his intellectual condemnation of all things hate-driven was a long time coming in those pages.
His point about Clark also rings true–Yes, I have written before that Clark’s policy page on the internet brings up some good points, but I haven’t heard him make any of those points in a coherent way for the longest time. An op-ed would be nice, a statement. The idea that he still–after all this time–isn’t willing to put his positions on the table is pathetic to say the least. If it’s his advisor’s fault, he should fire them.
My opposition to Bush is not based on prejudice. Yes, I think he stole an election through fraternal manipulation, but once he became president I tried with all my heart to push those feelings aside. I even thought the policy he chose to pursue–the liberalization of the world, and setting democracy at the forefront of American foreign policy–was a positive and noble step for this country still trapped in a post-Cold War coma. But, let’s face it, he sucks at execution.
So we need someone else. But that doesn’t mean that replacing Bush should be the end-all of our political goals–it should be replacing Bush with a candidate who knows his stuff, has core values that drive him to the point of saying “This I do and I can do no other”–to paraphrase Weber–and is intelligent enough to know when to involve others and when to go it alone.
Unless, as Peter Beinart points out, the democratic candidates develop a coherent policy to replace that of Bush, the election will only be a perpetuation of the hate-fest that Brooks describes so eloquently in his article.

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Iraq is Better

Contrary to what we hear in the news, Iraq is doing much better now, thanks to American and British resolve, and select international backing. William Safire cites in his column today a Gallup finding that “two out of three residents of Baghdad believe that they are better off today under occupation than they were in the “orderly” times when Saddam was butchering his opposition.”
And yet people doubt it. Why? Because, as Defense Secretary Rumsfeld cites in his own op-ed to the Wall Street Journal (reproduced below), “As one solider we met in Baghdad put it, “We rebuild a lot of bridges and it’s not news–but one bridge gets blown up and it’s a front-page story.”
Rumsfeld, if you like him or not, makes a few good points:

• Today, in Iraq, virtually all major hospitals and universities have been re-opened, and hundreds of secondary schools–until a few months ago used as weapons caches–have been rebuilt and were ready for the start of the fall semester.
• 56,000 Iraqis have been armed and trained in just a few months, and are contributing to the security and defense of their country. Today, a new Iraqi Army is being trained and more than 40,000 Iraqi police are conducting joint patrols with Coalition forces. By contrast, it took 14 months to establish a police force in post-war Germany–and 10 years to begin training a new German Army.
• As security improves, so does commerce: 5,000 small businesses have opened since liberation on May 1. An independent Iraqi Central Bank was established and a new currency announced in just two months–accomplishments that took three years in postwar Germany.
• The Iraqi Governing Council has been formed and has appointed a cabinet of ministers–something that took 14 months in Germany.
• In major cities and most towns and villages, municipal councils have been formed and are making decisions about local matters–something that took eight months in Germany.
• The Coalition has completed 6,000 civil affairs projects–with many more under way.

Some of us are so used to fast food, fast cars and fast internet that we forgot that nation-building takes time. To really expect that Iraq would be up-and-at’em in less than a year is naive in the least, and dangerously ignorant to say the most. Iraq is better than it was and will be much better in the future.

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Giving up the Dream

Avraham Burg wrote an amazing op-ed for Al-Quds, translated in the Forward. Key paragraph:

And here is my faith: Any future agreement will be based on the principles of territorial compromise. What is this compromise? Territorial compromise is not just a real estate deal. It is a spiritual decision by peoples that have decided to accept one another despite years of hostility and deep wells of hatred and vengeance. Such a compromise is first of all between a nation and itself. I believe with perfect faith that the entire Land of Israel belongs to me. So it is written in the Bible, so my mother from Hebron taught me and her grandchildren. And I know that the dream of greater Palestine passes from grandfather to grandchild in every Palestinian home. Therefore the first compromise is between me and my dream. I compromise with my dream of returning to Hebron in order that I may live free in the new Israel. And my Palestinian brother must give up his dream of returning to Jaffa in order to live an honorable and dignified life in Nablus. Only those capable of compromising with their dreams can sit together to forge a compromise on behalf of their nations.

Enjoy.

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Wes Because There is No Other?

I’ll admit it: Wesley Clark is not my ideal candidate. Reading the speech he gave at the Republican Lincoln’s fund raiser in May 2001 is a painful affair, a long, boring ode to his personal story with very brief glimpses of his insights.
But he’s better than Bush. Yes, I did approve of the War for Iraq, and I even do find beauty in the liberal ideals enshrined in the popularly berated Project for a New American Century, but Bush and his administration just can’t seem to turn good ideas into positive outcomes. As I see it, Clark has potential and he’s all we’ve got to beat Bush–who will be prepared. So, once again, I submit my humble endorsement of Wesley Clark.

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Happy New Year

After a year of a horrible international economy, tax cuts in America, terrorist attacks, protests around the world, rising deficits, war in the Middle East, a liberation of a people from tyranny, more tax cuts in America, more terrorist attacks, the appointment of a Palestinian prime minister, more terrorist attacks, the removal of the Palestinian prime minister…after all we have all been through this year, one hopes there is no place to go but up.
I wish us all a less interesting year, a Democratic president in the White House, the removal of Yassir Arafat from the world stage–but above all I wish us the strength to pull through all of the muck in the world, the courage to always do what is right, the money and health which will allow us to focus on those things we want to do, and the love and loved ones to make each and every moment special.
Shana Tova,
Ariel Beery

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Wherefore Columbia?

[Since my column as printed in the Spectator was heavily cut down for space, I’m posting the longer version here.]
It is very tempting with nearly one month of classes under our belts to put aside thoughts of Columbia’s fall in the rankings and the state of our academic union. But lest we fall into complacency, it is important to take another look at some of the factors that may have caused much ill will on this campus, as well as among the alumni community and the academy, and whose significance goes far beyond the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings.

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Edward Said Passes Away

Columbia University Professor Edward Said, probably one of the more influential minds in Middle East studies of the past century who was not a Middle East scholar, has passed away.
The New York Times headline catches his role well: “Edward Said, Leading Advocate of Palestinians, Dies at 67.” That’s exactly what he was, and advocate. Not a professor, not a teacher or a tester of ideas; he was an advocate in the harshest sense of the word, and some such as Martin Kramer have fingered him as one of the more influential advocates of our time.
Even the Times article itself is struck by the moral relativism this man engendered. It writes of his membership in the Palestinian National Conference:

Most of the conference’s members belong to one or another of the main Palestinian organizations, most importantly the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasir Arafat, but some were members of smaller organizations believed responsible for terrorist operations against Israelis and Americans, such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

“Believed Responsible”? They claimed responsibility for numerous murders. And Said was connected to these groups while he remained a tenured professor at Columbia University. He didn’t even deny it, saying “[the Palestinians are] the dispossessed, and what they do by way of violence and terrorism is understandable.” This opinion is in high supply now at Columbia, and among academics across the country, thanks to the diligent work of his followers.
Edward Said might have passed away, but his ideas will live on. For good or for bad.

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