Monthly Archives: October 2003
Some shocking news from the New York Times: it reports today that Many Iraqis Find They Like Life Without Hussein.
How could that be possible? I mean, we’ve been hearing from the New York Times that everything in Iraq has gone to hell, that it is a quagmire, that it is quickly turning out to be the next Vietnam…But then comes Enam Moussa al-Naqid, a school assistant principle, and says that, “Things are totally changed now.” And Ahmed Abdel Hamid says that “People feel free to travel now, and they want to go because there’s amazing scenery up there, and it’s clean and safe.”
But how could that be after all we’ve heard? Maybe we weren’t hearing all of the news that’s fit to print.
[Column printed today in the Spectator]
In Congress, according to Michael Crowley of The New Republic, many Democrats are opposing the appropriations bill for Iraqi reconstruction mainly because it is being pushed by the Bush administration. In Europe, France is trying to build an alternative security organization to NATO mainly to check American power. And in Israel, lawmakers have negotiated Israeli concessions to Palestinians in what is known as the Geneva Accord, mainly to show their opposition to the elected government. These events are linked by a growing trend of undemocratic idealism in democratic politics.
Around the world, people are forgetting that democratic politics is the art of compromise, of pragmatic acceptance of the decisions of democratic institutions. It is certainly important to fight for what one believes in within the democratic framework, and dissent should absolutely be voiced and marketed in the marketplace of ideas. But the new variety of no-compromise idealism portrayed in the cases above is leading to increased polarization, which endangers the concept of democratic governance. There is no better example of this danger than the Geneva Accord, the latest in a number of extra-governmental negotiations initiated by former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and former Palestinian Minister of Information Yasser Abed Rabbo.
One of the things often forgotten in the discussion regarding Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is the reaction it elicits within other Muslim states in the region–a chain-effect whose danger far surpasses Iranian nuclear power alone.
A nuclear armed Iran does not only threaten Israel–it threatens its neighbors, too, especially its Sunni rivals Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. A recent development reported with reliable accuracy in the United Press International is the barter agreement between nuclear Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: oil for atoms. The two countries are scrambling to create an inter-Sunni alliance surrounding the Persian Lion, especially since the fall of Iraq has sealed the fate of Arabism–which provided relative stability, strengthening the hands of the Islamo-nationalists who very well might revive the ancient battle between the two major factions of Islam.
Yes, this does impact Israel: Only a little over a week ago, Saudi Arabia declared that “any aggression on Syria or Lebanon is an aggression on Saudi Arabia.” Saudi Arabia is trying to cement its post-Iraq role, deciding that it outgrew its “soft power” role, and is doing so the only way Middle Eastern countries know how: threaten Israel.
But the point is that the effects on Israel are far smaller than those on the region as a whole: history has shown that nuclear powered rivals, even those as heated as India and Pakistan, have been wary in using those weapons. But nuclear weapons do wonders to generate a Cold War and regional power-struggles. It will certainly be interesting to see how this tune is played out.
I’m taking a short hiatus due to mid-term exams. But, as a short item, check out the NY Times article on Bush’s delayed reaction to the Malaysian leader’s anti-Semitic declaration at the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
What is interesting to me is national security advisor Condoleezza Rice’s reaction: “I don’t think they are emblematic of the Muslim world,” she said. Wait, let’s ponder that for a second. The remarks were said at a conference that represented the entire Muslim world, and it recieved a standing ovation. Right. I don’t know how much more emblematic of the Muslim world you can get.
It’s time the West stops apologizing for these racists, and it is pathetic that Ms. Rice, a Black woman who must have experienced racism at least once in her life, will defend those who call for the destruction of an ethnic group.
Interesting editorial in the Wall Street Journal today on Why to support Clark. I don’t know how much I agree with the opinion that the US needs to impose a Roman Peace on the world, but the interpretation of Clark’s mending abilities is welcome. Enjoy.
While I intend to write a full-length article on this subject–it’s really getting to me–I have to flag the developments of the so-called Geneva Initiative as incredibly troubling and an affront to democracy. Don’t get me wrong, I do support a lot of the compromises made, and most of the changes I’d make to what has been reported so far would be minor. That’s not what gets me.
The trouble with the document is that it is an autonomous action by an unelected self-chosen “representative”–that is, Yossi Beilin and company–who does not have the legitimate right to represent the position of the State of Israel. Even if he made the Prime Minister’s office aware of the talks, the very fact that he has not been appointed by the people of the State of Israel makes the entire process illegitimate.
It also makes it dangerous. By leading the Palestinians to think that they will get a better deal elsewhere, Beilin is reducing their incentive to deal with the elected head of the State of Israel. The Geneva initiative–and the other initiatives like it–create an incentive for both sides to try and wait it out until the leaders are more to their liking. And that means more death, more violence, and more complications that arise over time.
Yossi Beilin and his cohorts are disgracing Israeli democracy by purporting to speak for it, and should be loudly condemned for their affront against the people of the State of Israel.