Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sticking To The Script

The word count from President Bush's weekend radio address, which focused on Lebanon:

"Terror" and its variations: 12
"September 11th": 2

A snippet:
"So we have launched a forward strategy for freedom in the broader Middle East, and that strategy has set in motion a transformation that is changing millions of lives for the better. From Kabul to Baghdad, to Beirut, and beyond, we've seen the birth of democratic governments that are striving to serve their people, reject terror, and work for peace. We're also seeing those who oppose democracy fighting its progress with all the destructive power they can muster. We see this in Hezbollah's attacks on Israel, in the suicide bombings that kill innocent Iraqis, and in al Qaeda's campaign of terror across the world."
After asking yourself how many of those in Baghdad (and right now, Beirut) would describe their lives as having "changed for the better," check out Roger Cohen's dissection of The Great Evildoer Conflation (tip TBD):
With little subtlety and great predictability, the administration has gone through its familiar post-9/11 paces: Hezbollah equals terrorism, terrorism must be crushed, ruthlessness is the only way forward, and damn the consequences.

This position has allowed Israel to do its own post-9/11 thing. "Everyone understands that a victory for Hezbollah is a victory for world terror," said Haim Ramon, the Israeli justice minister.

Not so: A victory for Hezbollah is a victory for Hezbollah, which is not Al Qaeda, which is not the Palestinian national movement, which is not the Iraqi insurgency, which is not homegrown European Muslim suicide bombers.

Trying to turn the problems of the world into a single undifferentiated issue - the war on Islamic terror - does nobody any good.

Witness the current mayhem, a reflection of a terrible American failure to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in any serious way over the past five years.

Problems must be fixed one at a time, which requires the curiosity to understand them, and to come up with particular solutions.
If I had to choose one phrase to describe this president, it might be "profoundly uncurious." We simply must do better in 2008---without concern for political party, if necessary.


Anonymous thirdeye said...

Wrong, bucko. Islamists are united in their disdain towards Israel. There are shades, from Egypt to Iran, but given half the chance, even Egypt and Jordan would join Iran and Syria if it became obvious the Jews could be driven into the sea.

Your calls for moderation subverts the interest of your Jewish friends, CR. I'm amazed you don't realize this or chose to ignore it.

7/30/2006 5:50 PM  
Anonymous George said...

"Driven into the sea." Give me a break. With one of the largest military forces in the world, an estimated 200 nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, not to mention the full support of the US government, the Israelis are not going to be driven anywhere. The US economy may be driven into the toilet by all this, but I think Israel will be OK. The biggest danger faced by Israel is PM Olmert, who seems to have obtained a supply of Bush's stupid pills as far as military action is concerned.

7/30/2006 6:32 PM  
Anonymous Davebo said...

I seem to recall that one of the major talking points against Bush prior to 2000 was his profound incuriosity.

Remember? The wealthy son who never bothered to see Europe?

7/31/2006 11:33 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Thirdeye and George are both right. While Middle Eastern Muslims are united in their hatred for Israel, the Israeli military is probably the strongest in the Middle East. However, that's not to say Israel isn't vulnerable, as the suicide bombers have proven over the years. If Israel's actions in Lebanon continue to be ineffective and collateral damage remains high (which is tough since Hezbollah uses the civilian populace as human shields), then maybe the extremists will push their governments into action, rather than risk losing power.

As for Israel's nukes, I don't forsee them using them except as a last resort. The only exception would be if Iran were to get nukes. I could see them pre-emptively nuking Iran before Iran had a chance to do it to them.

7/31/2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous kilfarsnar said...

"Trying to turn the problems of the world into a single undifferentiated issue - the war on Islamic terror - does nobody any good."

To the contrary, the War on Terrorism is the new McCarthyism gone global. By consolidating the various terrorist groups under a single label, governments can use whatever force they want against opponents who fight asymmetrically. As long as the War on Terrorism paradigm is seem as legitimate, the label gives governments freedom of military action. Thus the rubric of the War on Terrorism is useful to any government with an agenda that they don't want much scrutiny applied to.

7/31/2006 3:15 PM  
Anonymous George said...

Kilfarsnar, that is an extremely astute comment. It deserves a wider airing.

7/31/2006 9:35 PM  
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