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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
I've heard in the past few months that when Israel has its general elections for parliament and Ariel Sharon has to run for Prime Minister again, the possibility exists that he could be unseated from within the Likud party by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This would no doubt be the worst possibe thing that could happen to Israel at this time. Netanyahu would make Sharon look like a pacifist. If Sharon is a hawk, "Bibi," as he is affectionately known, would be some sort of super bird of prey; an F-16 falcon if you will. A Netanyahu prime ministership at this point in time would spell the end of any chance for peace. While this is the actual goal of the Likud party, it is not the healthy solution to the conflict.
As much as I would love to see Ehud Barak's Labor Party regain the Knesset, reality and tangible peace don't get along very well. Likud will again lead the Israeli government. Therefore, the choice lies between Sharon and Bibi. While both seem as if given the chance they would nuke the West Bank, I question if even the checks of world opinion, Arab resistance, and all the other factors that restrain Israeli military power, would stop Netanyahu from actually crushing the Palestinians.
Having said that, the release yesterday of remarks made by Bibi's wife in which she denounced attacks on her husband as jealousy and ungratefulness, are a welcome cripple to the Netanyahu campaign. In her frustrated rant Sara Netanyahu said,
"Bibi is a leader who is greater than this entire country, he really is a leader on a national scale. We'll move abroad. This country can burn. This country can't survive without Bibi. People here will be slaughtered."
Does a statement like that show a full understanding of the very delicately balanced scale that peace rests on? Previously I had little doubt that Netanyahu disregarded the lives of Palestinians. But does he even care about the Israeli people? Is that what Israel would want in a leader at this point in time? Power is more than vanity and egotism. Power requires an understanding of diplomacy, tact and humility. Bibi has none of these.
What have we done to Afghanistan? We've destroyed the infrastructure of Al Qaeda's power base, pushed bin Laden and other leaders underground, annihilated the governing power of the Taliban and freed the people of Afghanistan from stifling, and narrowly interpreted Sharia law. All of these things should earn the U.S. acclaim and graditude from nations around the world. Each of these actions were carried out by the strongest military in the world. But what's next? Now that we have torn down the infrastructure of repression, authoritarianism and inhibition, we must build the lasting basis for freedom, self-rule and internal security.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai was nearly assassinated today. One of the suspected conspirators is thought to be a local warlord named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. While Karzai was not injured, the Kandahar governor whom he was traveling with at the time was shot. Now, how can we expect a nation to be rebuilt if we provide no help in doing so? Without adequate security in place across the country Afghanistan will never become a prosperous, stable nation. As long as warlords are allowed to roam freely and control pockets of the lawless countryside, and remnants of Al Qaeda are able to hide, the nation will be no better off than it was in the years before the Taliban. Currently, Kabul is the only city in the entire country that has perminent international peacekeepers, yet even the capital is not immune from deadly attacks as today's car bomb demonstrated.
What is needed is a lasting effort from the international community, but the U.S. in particular, to help the people of Afghanistan rebuild their carpet bombed, economically destroyed nation. Peacekeepers need to become the nation's police force on a long-term basis. Not until Karzai's government has effective control over the territory within its borders will Afghanistan be a useful or successful country. As long as Afghanistan is a haven for the lawless, terrorism will be beyond international jurisdiction, and the security of every nation will be threatened. Nation-building is essential to the security of all nations. Afghanistan's well-being transcends its borders. It effects the welfare of every state. Not until nation-building is adopted as international policy after the destruction of a rogue or hostile state will the world see tangible peace between peoples.
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This post from Megan McArdle needs no commentary. It's brilliant on its own:
"55% of Europeans think that America was "partly to blame" for the Al Quaeda [sic] attacks. In related news, 100% of Americans think that Europe was "entirely to blame" for World Wars I, II, the Holocaust, and Communist atrocities in the former Soviet Union and associated territories."
Is Andrew Sullivan softening up? Read the first two paragraphs in this link to see why. It seems as though Sullivan is acknowledging that straight up brute force in Iraq doesn't need to be the only means to Hussein's end. In his post he is horrified by the mixed message that has been coming from the Bush administration in the past few days. While Powell asserts that the U.S. wants weapon inspections, Cheney rails against pussy-footing and begs for a unilateral crushing of Iraq. Why would the administration allow for such contrary positions to be spouted as the same administration policy?
Sullivan argues, and I like his assessment, that the administration is trying to work good cop/bad cop diplomacy. The U.S. could insist on unavoidable, all encompassing inspections in Iraq. It would appease the dissenting allies in Europe because it would not ignore diplomatic measures and would win their diffident, yet eventual support. While it is likely that Iraq would again play hide and seek with their warheads, this would at least give some justification for an attack; justification that has been thus far lacking.
With this arrangement Cheney could retain his image of stong-arm, uni-hawk, while Powell would get the inspections that he rightfully requests. So far the case has not been made for an attack. Failure or success, the attempt at inspections will provide support and validation for any eventual attack on Iraq.