Thursday, November 11, 2004

Arafat Dies

Bob, Tony, thanks for your support on the new blog. Comments are good, they make me want to be even more argumentative.

What to think about Yasser Arafat? He was a terrorist, true. But there was a lot of that going around when he was coming up. Menachem Begin blew up the King David Hotel, Yitzak Shamir assassinated the UN High Commissioner, Lord Bernadotte. Both of those guys were later Prime Minister. A lot of people are already screaming "no moral equivilency," but even they know it's bullshit. A Jewish guy blowing up a hotel and killing innocent people is, in fact, morally equivilant to an Arab guy blowing up a hotel and killing innocent people. And the sad fact is, the only reason the powerful pay attention to the powerless in this world is because the recognize the value of order and stability, in the sense of nobody blowing up their hotel.

So I was kinda sympathetic with the cause, although not with the murder of civilians, and counted myself as something of a fan when Arafat was willing to seek peace and independence through negotiation. To me, his biggest failures came later. At the 2000 peace talks, he didn't bring a counter-offer to the table. He rejected the Israeli offer - no surprise there, why would he support the Israeli position? But the point of the summit was for each side to make a proposal, settle the issues that could be settled, and come up with a document stating the remaining differences. Without a counterproposal, this couldn't happen - basically Arafat was more worried about the political repercussions of making a proposal that was unacceptable to Hamas than he was about the future of his country.

His second offence was refusing to share power with the Prime Minister, clinging to personal control over security forces (and his slush fund), again finding personal power to be more important than national progress.

Now that he's dead, I hope progress will be made, but I fear instead a civil war.

Which should bring us to Iraq, but I have nothing to say at this point. It always seems to be worse than you thought it was last week. I don't see how it can be salvaged. I know Tony's mom liked him and all, but even with the situation being what it was, it is mind-boggling what a truly terrible job Bremer did as viceroy. Republicans: "the party that claims government can't do anything right and then get elected to prove it."

This KOS diary is one of the best pieces I've read about Al Quaida strategy and how we are playing into it:

In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side . Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead. A few blown up apartment buildings and dead schoolchildren will get you more recruits than the best revolutionary tracts ever written.

Another thought provoking screed that's been in my head the last couple days is here. It's angry, it's mean-spirited, it's over the top, and damn it feels good right now.

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