Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

A last bit of unpleasantness before the weekend, including Palestine, Pelosi, Iraq, Iran, Olmert, and Bush. Yikes.

with 2 comments

Bad idea whatever the intent. Credit: AP

I know, it’s Friday, and I should be posting some silly post about how cats can be taught Latin if enough tuna is involved or the evolution of intelligence in parsnip or other amusing non brain cell involved tidbits for those that have had hard weeks at work. Alas, these are troubled times and I got involved in a comment marathon on another post that I promised to blog about. So those who can do a bit of reading, dive right in. For those who are in the process of shutting their brains down as the weekend looms, I deeply apologize for the inconvenience. (Mindless diversion can always be found here:

This all got started when I promised to blog about a few links that esteemed reader Jack posted at Meet the Unpeople. While I disagree with Jack in almost every respect, I really admire his ability to debate cogently and politely with people with whom he disagrees. It’s a talent that a lot of folks on every side of every issue should try to emulate. I’ve almost stopped commenting on pro-war blogs because of the turgid, inflamed, inarticulate response it usually engenders. And I’m sure the converse is true in many parts. However, if we don’t keep trying to dialogue, we can’t ever reach consensus. And even if we can’t reach consensus, I’ll take polite disagreement over inarticulate rants any day.

The Meet the Unpeople post is interesting and recommended, it wouldn’t have gotten a flurry of comments if it wasn’t. It covers a topic near and dear to me, demonization in general and the millions of people who have anonymously died (anonymous in the west at least) as a direct result of American and British foreign policy since World War Two. A topic worthy of volumes, let alone blog posts, nonetheless that’s for future blogs. Here I will comment on two links that Jack posted, one about the Palestinian “Right of Return” and the second about Pelosi’s visit to Syria and surrounding issues.

The first link, A Palestinian “Right of Return,” basically makes the claim that the Palestinian’s insistence on their “Right of Return” is a big stumbling block to peace in Palestine. This is pretty simple to comment on, it’s just another example of the Israeli propaganda of the last 50 plus years that it’s the Palestinian’s attitude and behaviour that is the problem, and if they would just be reasonable then peace could result. This propaganda has been so widespread and pervasive that by many in the west it’s simply a statement of fact. The idea that this means that millions of people should live in permanent stateless limbo under Israel’s aegis, devoid of citizenship and subject to whatever arbitrary collective and individual punishment Israel chooses to mete out is simply not questioned.

The problem is that nothing about the Palestinian “Right of Return” prevents Israel from defining its borders (unlike every other country on the planet, the State of Israel has never actually claimed what its territory consists of) or granting the Palestinians a state of their own in the occupied territories. It’s not like a Palestinian state is going to be able to force Israel to open its borders and allow millions of Palestinians to settle within its borders, once they are established. So this is a non issue, that Israel is using to justify it’s own refusal to do anything meaningful about the situation it created and maintains at the point of a gun. An issue that could easily be debated down the road, it is not an impediment to a Palestinian state.

The next article, PMO denies peace message to Assad, is a bit more complex. The PMO is Olmert, the Prime Minister of Israel. Assad is the president of Syria. The article is about Senator Pelsosi’s visit to Syria, where she claimed she carried a message of peace from Olmert to Assad. I don’t really have much to say about Pelosi’s visit, I consider it political grandstanding and of little importance. It is at most a sign of how Bush’s influence in the USA has waned if his opponents can make campaign stops in a country that Bush has vilified for years. I don’t know if it’s a sign that Pelosi is diabolically clever or an idiot. Mostly the later I think, because however well intentioned it may have been, this is going to alienate the pro Israeli and pro Bush Americans that the Democrats desperately need to work with if they are going to reclaim the White House and engage in actual national reconciliation. So unless Pelosi is trying to set the Democrats up for failure in 2008 and further polarize the country, I think this trip was a stupid idea.

Aside from that, what really annoys me is that throughout the article it’s clear that both the authors of the article and the Bush/Olmert administration blame the continuing “regional crises” in Iraq and Lebanon on “outside agitators” like Syria and Iran. Yes, Israel and the USA, the world’s two greatest military powers, have attacked, bombed, invaded, occupied, and otherwise committed virtually non stop acts of war against Lebanon/Iraq for decades…but the continuing problems in those countries are somebody else’s fault? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. If Syria, a small poor country with an antiquated military, has actually been able to foil the US and Israel for decades, they must be incredibly clever SOBs or Israel and the US must be run by idiots. Since neither makes any sense, it follows that whatever Syria is doing, it by no means the prime instigator of the problems in its neighbours.

This does lead to another rant, more specifically about Bush’s invasion of Iraq. And I’m sorry, but it looks like I will be repeating this rant in many forms in the future, if I haven’t already in the past. Because frankly, the Bush administrations attempts to re-frame the problem in Iraq as some sort of “regional crisis” created by Syria and Iran is pissing me off. Bush and his supporters got their fucking war, and now that it has obviously turned into the bloody quagmire that any number of intelligent educated people (such as myself) said was the only possible outcome of the invasion, they want to parcel out the blame to Syria and Iran and the Democrats?

Give me a fucking break. The “regional crisis” in Iraq was created entirely by one of  the most ill conceived, poorly planned, and badly executed conquests in history. A group of conceited Neocon ideologues, with contempt for history or conflicting opinion, and with no military experience, thought they literally could create reality with the wave of a cruise missile. Syria didn’t invade Iraq, Iran didn’t invade Iraq; it’s the US and Britain that invaded Iraq in a blatant attempt to reshape an entire region to their liking. I’m already paying the price for this war, me and my fellow Americans (not to mention the people of the Middle East) will be paying for it for decades. I don’t have a choice about that, but I sure as hell do have a choice about accepting blame for this mess. The people responsible for the mess in Iraq are the people who conceived of, planned, and executed this insane war and occupation…not the people who argued like hell against it.

(The above AP image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit, it is central to illustrating the post, and it is an historically important image.)


Written by unitedcats

April 6, 2007 at 9:10 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thanks for posting a far more succinct and cogent analysis than I did, Doug. ;) I also respect Jack’s ability to cordially discuss contentious matters with people and I must say I have learned much in my engagement with him.

    Continuing to enjoy reading your posts, appreciate you coming over and the link.


    April 7, 2007 at 4:47 am

  2. Hi Ann!

    I have SO much to digest in the comments that have been posted, so I will be back with my thoughts.

    First, though, thank you so much for the information. I have printed it out, and I will definitely learn from it. I posted the following comment to Doug’s blog on the issue.

    Hi Doug,

    First–thanks for filling me in on your thoughts on the matter. I always find differing perspectives interesting.

    I can’t say on the issue of Israel I agree or disagree with you. I am much too ignorant on it, although I am trying to educate myself. A point I made to “Servant” on Ann’s blog was that it seemed that the whole issue was defined by absolutes–either the Israelis are absolutely in the wrong and the Palestinians absolutely right or v.v. In issues like this, I have always been a little leary of absolutes, because there are so many variables to every story that I am unaware of. Rarely in this world are things so clearly delineated. For example, I have a hard time considering the Palestinians as innocent victims when I see the current terrorism they engage in and the activities of the PLO, and the dispicable acts of Yasser Arafat(whom many on the left seem to see as a hero). You know me well enough by now, to realize that I am not much of a moral relativist, and I can’t see targetting women and children as something necessary to bring about social change or autonomy, or whatever. It also seems that the Palestinians also have a propaganda machine in the western media (if we want to use that term). It doesn’t matter what happens, the western media always seems to side with the Palestinians and demonize the Israelis. A bomb can go off in an Israeli market place killing babies, children, and innocents, and the media will somehow spin it. I am very wary of western media, and this makes the issue suspect for me. As you pointed out, Michael Medved’s article may be Israeli propaganda. I don’t know. He made admissions in his article of wrong-doing on the Israelis part, something I rarely see in articles supporting the Palestinian position. Because of that, I am a little more willing to take it seriously, because it does seem to temper its absolute either/or position. The point I got from Medved’s article was that activistic insistence seems to be hampering the peace process rather than helping it.

    What I don’t understand, is that we Americans (westerners) do not like any nation telling us what to do and yet we are very nosy in the affairs of others. We poke our noses into places like South Africa (reducing it in the process to a third world nation), and Israel, Iraq–always telling other countries what they should or shouldn’t do. We are also very selective in what we champion. Palestinian human rights seems a righteous cause, but we happily turn our heads and buy the products of a depraved and communist nation who grossly persecutes thier Christian population.

    The problem, Doug, is that I don’t see much consistency of principle in the causes westerners adopt. To me, it has always smacked of flavor-of-the-day activism, or trendy anti-semitic, anti-west, anti-capitalism, anti-American, the enemy-of-my-enemy type mindset.

    For this reason, I can’t easily dismiss articles like Medved’s as “just Israeli propaganda” any more than I can just dismiss Slate mag’s latest article supporting the Palestinians as just so much “Palestinian/Western left propaganda.”

    Doug, all I know is what people tell me-and there are always two sides to every story. Rarely in this world are there innocent parties. I haven’t been to Israel in over 20 years, so all I can go on is what our media reports, what Palestinian media reports and what Israeli media reports.

    Another note. I appreciate your words. I have little concern for agreement or disagreement–the important thing is the education. I learn SO much from people like you, Ann, and other bloggers with whom I share a wonderful relationship. In my mind, just because I disagree, doesn’t mean that I feel I am the right one–and even at my age I can still learn! I have been blogging for almost 4 years now, and you will not believe how much it has tempered or changed my viewpoint on many issues.

    Again, thanks again for the post and the information.


    P.S. I will post this to Ann’s blog also if that is ok, Doug.


    April 7, 2007 at 6:15 am

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