Here is a touching account (via Americans for a Third Way) about how senseless the violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is. It seems to many that the deaths associated with refugee camp incursions and suicide bombings are just numbers to the leaders of each side. Even the populations of the opposing groups acknowledge that revenge attacks will only produce equal behavior from their foe. Yet despite these acknowledgements, they approve of a continuation of violence in order "to teach them a lesson."
In this poignant article, Yossi Sarid eloquently writes,
"Who is talking these days about plans, strategy, peace, security? The name of the game is revenge. We act today not to deter or prevent, or even to punish, but solely to pay them back, to inflict pain. The Palestinians take revenge, we retaliate, and vice versa.... They have lost hope that their murderous deeds can achieve anything, and we have lost hope, and we take comfort in blood revenge, like two tribes of savages."
When will they learn that violence does not beget peace? The cycle will only be broken when armed might is overwhelmed by an ennobled conscience. How many cycles must we watch before this occurs?
John McWhorter has an excellent article in the City Journal about the nonsense of reparations (via Robert Prather's post). Issuing reparations would do nothing more than instill a public image of blacks as victims unable to advance themselves without the financial looting of their white counterparts. Reparations would make blacks the social casualties of history and would all but destroy any credibility that successful blacks have made in the 137 years since the end of the Civil War. Why tarnish the integrity of an entire race by forcing various corporations into out-of-court settlements? Afterall, a settlement does not imply guilt or regret, but rather an urge to quietly end the publicity attached to what would be a high-profile civil suit. Nothing would be gained other than millions of unearned dollars. Sure, the essence of slavery made it worthy of such recompense, but let's be realistic: any attempt at suing five generations after the fact is motivated by nothing more than a greedy sense of entitlement.
Also, as Robert Prather argues, "using money to compensate descendents of slaves is unfair to those of us who had nothing to do with slavery and would never tolerate it today." This is the second arguement against reparations. Those of us that weren't around when slavery was a fact (which is all of us, for those of you that needed the reminder), shouldn't be burdened with the essential guilt of a slave society that we had no part in.
Furthermore, in my case, as well as millions of others, our decendents had nothing to do with slavery.
Personally, my great-grandfather came from Sweden more than two decades after slavery was abolished. Why should my tax dollars or commerical dollars be a part of reparations when my decendents were still in Scandinavia when slavery was reality? To expect payment from an entire white ethnicity is not only misguided but unfair and insular.
Reparations would be foolish for all involved. Drop this idea before "foolish" is replaced by "insulting" and "degrading."
The New York Times has yet another editorial that goes after the Bush administration's treatment of the so-called "enemy combatants." It rightly questions the legality of the term "enemy combatants." The editors question the case of Yasser Esam Hamdi who was born in Louisiana but grew up Saudi Arabia. As a U.S. citizen he should be entitled to his constitutional rights regardless of his involvement with Al Qaeda. U.S. citizenship should trump anything and everything.
The editors see a dangerous precedent in this case, as do I:
"The Bush administration seems to be using the Hamdi case to establish the principle that it has the exclusive power to decide who is an enemy combatant. If the administration's position prevails, we can expect to see many more cases like it. The government will be free to seize anyone it wants simply by saying the magic words "enemy combatant," and the courts will be powerless to release such people from prison, or even provide them with lawyers. This was not what the founders had in mind."
Certainly not. Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Washington would be appalled.
Live From the WTC has a good analysis of the game theory involved in nuclear warfare. In her post, Megan McArdle argues that the expansion of weapons of mass destruction to new and questionably stable nations is indeed dangerous. She says that MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) wouldn't be as effective when these new states join the nuclear club. She points out how MAD worked when the only nations who knew the technology were the U.S., Russia, and later China. In this set up, the attacker could not hide among fellow nuclear club members. The offender was obvious. With the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, an unstable nation with this technology could commit the despicable deed and then hide behind the deniability of the multitude of possible suspects. This frightening prospect becomes much more likely when MAD is reduced.
MAD is what prevents nuclear exchanges from happening. "The moment that there are enough players to mitigate the assured part of mutually sured [sic] destruction, the likelihood of a detonation begins to grow rapidly." Long live MAD.
Mickey Kaus has started the thorny disapproval of Al Gore. He wants to start an Anybody But Gore bandwagon. Count me in.
Al Gore is a man who would doubtfully deserve a second term, the only problem is that his rightful first term was hijacked by another man. When Gore, umm, lost, he lost more than just that 2000 election. He lost his only chance to ever be president. Coattails only work once. His time is past. Instead of making an attempt at a triumphant image comeback in his New York Times op-ed piece a few days ago, Gore should retire from being a presidential hopeful, regrow that hideous beard and let that bitter revenge subside with a cold lemonade in hand.
His desire to even the score with Bush will only ensure a second term for Bush. With Gore eyeing the 2004 election for his populist campaign of revenge, all other Democratic hopefuls will likely be brushed aside in order to give Gore his chance at a second round. The end result will be a second term for Bush, and an Al Gore completely crushed and just a nerve away from going ballistic. This will accomplish many things, however, none of them are positive for Democrats.
First, the obvious: another four years of Bush. That means four more years of Bushisms, simple talk, curtailed civil liberties, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and a mandate for a larger Mideast war, likely to involve weapons of mass destruction since saber-rattling tends to up the ante. On top of all of those things, a lame duck president will be at the helm. Can you imagine a lame duck Bush? It is a frightening thought for American freedom and the protection of our liberties, not to mention for the english language.
Second, the aftermath: if Gore is to insist on his right to a rematch, he will tarnish Democratic party cohesiveness by making legitimate Democratic hopefuls afterthoughts who appear to be not up to the challenge of being a nominated presidential candidate. His stubborn demand for another chance will put a blemish on the Democratic party and will destroy the political prestige of his fellow party hopefuls.
Al, go away. Do it for yourself, do it for your party. Don't put us through that again.
Has Hamas overtaken the Palestinian Authority as the face of Palestinian leadership? As this article in Ha'aretz suggests, it looks that way. With the Bush administration insisting that Arafat must go, and urging Palestinians to elect new leadership, the sway of the Palestinian Authority has been incredibly diminished. When Hamas commits a horrendous suicide attack, Arafat issues a denunciation of the terror. However, since Bush announced his new plan for eventual peace to the conflict, Arafat has been rendered useless. His disgust at the attacks, while questionably genuine, has failed to change anything. Arafat's calls for ceasefire have fallen on deaf ears. His power is nil.
Meanwhile though, the political power of the terrorist group Hamas has sprouted to frightening levels. When Bush declared Arafat virtually illegitimate, he created a power vacuum for Palestinian leadership. That vacancy has been filled by the dangerous Hamas. Hamas has taken on the role as the political leader that Bush had stripped from Arafat. Is this really what is best? We took away an arguably frustrating terror-sponsor, Arafat, and replaced him with an organization that does not negotiate, does not understand moral civility, and openly states that its ultimate, and lone goal is the complete destruction of Israel and its people. We have discarded the lesser evil for the greater. Let the intifada continue.
It seems as though much of the public feels that if they don't support every Israeli policy to its fullest and with intense zeal that they are some how condoning suicide bombings. This should not be. In this article in The Nation Katha Pollitt negotiates these two positions and does it well, all in one sentence:
"One can be overwhelmed with horror at suicide bombers, think Arafat is a corrupt and preening tinpot dictator, believe that the real agenda of the Islamists is to be the Taliban of the Middle East--all just and appropriate sentiments--and still realize that the current path of the Israeli government is a disaster in the making, if not already made."
"Granted not many people, myself included, really want a war with Iraq, but I think the pure uncertainty of the weapons of mass distruction situation might be a ligetimate claim of some of the hawks in the senate. But then again, its much more likely that Saddam would use these weapons if he were about to lose control of his country and face humiliation and defeat. We worry now because all it would take is a small thermonuclear device in the back of a truck parked near the White House, but there's no way we could defeat Iraq fast enough to prevent Saddam from getting operatives out of the country with such a device, or with some of his anthrax. One minute we would be poised to march victorious into Bagdhad and install an acceptable government; the next moment, we would be trying to deal with a disaster many times greater than 9/11, when Iraqi agents or Iraqi supplied Al-Queda operatives nuke a Nebraska football game or 20 square miles of a major city. As much as I hate to say it, the current passive threat we pose to Saddam in the form of assured retalitory destruction should be enough to keep him at bay. He saw what happened to Afghanistan and Omar, and I think our status as a "sleeping giant" should hold things down, and at a cost of zero American lives."
I agree that containment is a perfectly acceptable means of controlling Iraq. Even the military brass at the Pentagon have said as much. Many Army generals have said that they would very much discourage a new war with Iraq unless they had an overwhelming number of troops. However, the Bush administration has been hesitant to commit to a massive ground war. Thus, lacking the adequate amount of manpower, even the top military leaders have said that an attack on Iraq would be an ill advised mistake.
At present, with the No Fly Zones in both the north, to protect the Kurdish populations, and in the south almost up to the city limits of Baghdad to control the Iraqi military, Saddam Hussein's ability to attack anyone has been severely curtailed. He has been boxed in and he has no way out. To mess with Hussein and his army would be a big mistake, especially since he knows that the means used by the U.S. ultimately spell out his end, not just his ability to threaten others, as was the case in the Gulf War. If Hussein knows that the U.S. goal is his destruction, he will not hold back his arsenals of chemical and biological weapons. The only certainty that a resumption of the Gulf War will produce is that this war will be a chemical and biological one. It will not be conventional. It will not be pretty. The gas mask will be a soldier's best friend.
The war will no doubt entail those chemical weapons being fired at Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities as well as at American military bases in the region. If Hussein sees that his regime's end is imminent, he will certainly use every technology available to him. If that means the use of a nuclear device, expect to see it sent towards the Jewish homeland.
Will this massive nuclear, chemical and biological war produce anything other than hundreds of thousands of deaths, massive hatred of America even from our supposed allies in the Arab world, and another generation of children who will be taught that the reason they live in poverty, with six fingers, four toes, a learning disability, and with no prospects for the future other than martyrdom is that America wanted to rid the region of those very weapons of mass destruction? Mass destruction will be the least of our worries after all is said and bombed.
Just as containment was the policy of the Cold War, and a refusal to issue the first strike was the open doctrine, so should the policy of today be the same. Hussein knows that any misstep will spell his destruction. It is a shame that the U.S. does not realize it is nearly in the same position.
13 (14?) dead in 5 separate attacks. When Hamas said it would avenge the assassination of its military leader, Salah Shehadeh, it wasn't kidding. When Bush stopped golfing long enough to respond to news of the attacks, he dished his usual mantra:
"There are a few killers who want to stop the peace process that we have started. We must not let them... For the sake of humanity, for the sake of the Palestinians who suffer, for the sake of the Israelis who are under attack, we must stop the terror." (via MSNBC)
Yes, we certainly should stop the terror. We can start by telling Ariel Sharon not to bomb Palestinians hours before that first step towards peace is scheduled to be announced. Had Israel not bombed a Gaza street with a one ton bomb, these five terrible attacks would not have happened. That is not to say that no attacks would have occured, for Hamas is highly unpredictable, but these five orchestrated attacks would not have been carried out with such vengeful certainty. It was only a matter of time before attacks such as these would take place as revenge for the death of Salah Shehadeh and over a dozen innocent Palestinians.
These attacks are completely dispicable and horrendous, but if Sharon's government wants to kill innocents in the same way that Hamas does, he and his Bush administration allies must learn to accept that they are a part of the terror. Unfortunately for Israel fighting terrorism with terrorism will be a losing battle and the end of Israel will be a step closer as a result. Lead by example. Don't bomb away peace and then blame all of the terror on your Palestinian opposition.