Magic Thoughts

President Jimmy Carter has an op ed in today’s Washington Post that calls the current military actions in Gaza “an unnecessary war.” As you might imagine, this provoked much hooting of derision from the Right Blogosphere. In right-wing iconography, President Carter is the Ghost of Liberal Wussiness Past, and he can have nothing to say that they will hear.

Elsewhere, however, Andrew Bacevich writes,

THE ISRAELI military action in Gaza raises both moral questions and strategic ones. The moral issues are more complex than partisans on either side are prepared to admit. Not so the strategic issues: here the verdict is clear. Israel’s return to Gaza constitutes a tacit admission of strategic failure now stretching back four decades.

How is that not true? Whatever you think of the moral issues surrounding Gaza, the Israeli policy toward the Palestinians has failed. The actions of Israel over the past several days is an admission of failure.

No matter what this particular round of fighting may achieve, the conflict will continue. Indeed, the punishment inflicted on the residents of Gaza all but ensures its perpetuation.

Again, this is the plain truth many of us have been saying. In the collective adolescent brain of the Right, because there is Palestinian terrorism and because there are people who hate Jews because they are Jews, anything Israel does is justified. And if you criticize Israel, you must be for Hamas.

But I think for most of us it’s not about being for or against anything. Indeed, if I could will the nation of Israel to stay right where it is and enjoy many centuries of security and prosperity, I would do so. If I would will Hamas to dissolve, I would do so. The plain truth that the Right refuses to acknowledge is that Israel’s policy has failed. It has been failing for a long time, and there’s no earthly reason to think it will not continue to fail.

As always, Professor Bacevich’s op ed is worth reading all the way through. But now I want to switch gears a bit and take up an article Juan Cole wrote for Salon: “Neoconservatism dies in Gaza.”

For years the neoconservative fantasy was that if Saddam Hussein were taken out, all the problems of the Middle East would somehow unravel. That this theory made no sense whatsoever never deterred them. No end of overeducated and overpaid dweebs in the American Enterprise Institute, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Hudson Institute, and of course the Project for a New American Century, etc. etc., pushed this magical thinking as holy writ. And, finally, it became Bush Administration policy.

However, I think Professor Cole is a fool if he think neoconservatism will shrivel up and die just because it has been shown to be colossally wrong. Magical thinkers are magical thinkers. They will take up some new and equally nonsensical idea and run with it, eventually.

57 thoughts on “Magic Thoughts

  1. We are all guests here at the Mahablog. A little civility goes a long way.

    Civility is a two way street. You were civil in your analysis of the situation, so I responded to you in a civil manner. The proprieter of this blog demonstrated no such civility in starting this post and therefor is not deserving of civility in return.

    With respect to your assertion regarding the Jewish population of Palestine, I quote the Wikipedia and part of its definition of “Palestine”:

    “Palestine is a name which has been widely used since Roman times to refer to the region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.[1] In its broader meaning as a geographical term, Palestine can refer to an area that includes contemporary Israel and the Palestinian territories, parts of Jordan, and parts of Lebanon and Syria.[1][2] In its narrow meaning, it refers to the area within the boundaries of the former British Mandate of Palestine (1920-1948) west of the Jordan River.”

    When saying that there has always been a Jewish presence in Palestine, this is the area that I was referring to. If the Ottoman census is correct, “kolakavod” to the Jewish population in Jerusalem. However, it takes nothing away from what I said.

    I agree with your assertion on the word Palestine and it’s usage, but do you understand that Palestinian is not a unique ethnic or racial hertitage such as Kurdish or Turkish? As well, you do understand there was never a nation in that region called Palestine?

    Historically, Palestine was only used as a label to describe a region and not a people. It would be like people who live on the French Riviera claiming 1,000 years later that they are a unique people called Rivierians and not people of French descent.

  2. The fact of the matter is, Muslims have engaged in internecine, religious and ethnic warfare going back as far as the 7th Century.

    Humans beings have engaged in internecine, religious and ethnic warfare going back at least as far as the 30th Century BC.

    Whats your point?

  3. So Kevin, where is Eretz Yisroel? And what is the point then of what I see as nit-picking as to the inhabitants of this region? If Jews were a majority in Jerusalem at the time when the census you referred to was taken, then are they the true inhabitants of this area? Who made up the majority of Beesheva, for instance, during the same period? What if it wasn’t Jews? And should it now be included in the land of Israel?

    If I am reading correctly between the lines, you are also saying that there are no real “Palestinians”, just people who have lived in the region or continue to live there. In that sense, all the inhabitants of that region–Jews, Arabs, Bedouin, Ottomans, etc.–are all Palestinians. Are the only people who have a true “right” to call the region their national homeland the Jews because of references to our having lived in that land in Biblical times? Or are you actually in favour of a one-state solution (lol)?

    Your views are interesting only if we are to continue the argument that one side is “righter” than the other. That argument cannot be won, as I pointed out in my initial post. The only shred of hope (slim as it is) lies in ceasing to prove who’s ultimately “right” and starting to create a true modus vivendi. This solution may turn out to be impossible, but I think that it’s the only one that has even the slightest chance of yielding peace.

  4. Where is the Land of Israel?!?!?!?

    Are you serious?

    I cannot go back and rewrite the initial agreements within the nascent United Nations that helped to delinate boundaries, nor can I go back and influence Muslim nations in the area to accept a Jewish nation in the neighborhood.

    My argument concerning the creation of the state of Israel is that Jews had, and still have, just as much a right to a nation-state in that region as do Muslims. As well, I also argue that it isn’t the Jews and Israel who are the major impediment to a peaceful resolution, but Muslims and the Islamic regimes in the region.

    As well, I believe it is debatable if this military action or this diplomatic initiative will bring about peace, but what is not debatable, in my opinion, is who desires peace and who doesn’t.

  5. I believe it is debatable if this military action or this diplomatic initiative will bring about peace, but what is not debatable, in my opinion, is who desires peace and who doesn’t.

    There are Palestinians who want peace, and Palestinians who want war. There are Israelis who want peace, and there are Israelis who want war. This has been true for a long time. It’s not getting us anywhere, mostly because the ones who want war seem to be the ones in charge. This is true on both sides.

    Once again, I personally wish Israel well, and if I had the power to do so I would grant Israel peace and security. But I don’t have that power. It’s something they have to do for themselves. And MY point, which continues to fly right over your head, is that their current course of action in Gaza will not give them peace and security. It will just continue the enmity.

    I wanted to correct something you said in #51. The people who thought taking out Saddam would solve all the problems of the Middle East were the neocons, not all righties, and I believe I stated that clearly (do learn to read). Pat Buchanan is a paleocon, not a neocon, and he disagreed. Obviously. I have never said otherwise.

    Now, FYI, I maintain this blog so that thoughtful people can discuss thoughtful things among themselves intelligently and without acrimony. Every now and then a zombie breaks in and disrupts the place, which can be entertaining for a while, but eventually gets tiresome. You’ve hit tiresome. Bye.

  6. Note to Doug Hughes (comment #37): I have a cheesy innauguration countdown running here (if this link works correctly). As I write this, we’re at 10 days, 15 hours. Can’t come soon enough.

  7. A Canadian Reader seems to have the right view of the situation, with the exception of returning native American lands to their original owners.( which was commented upon in comment 44.)
    That idea is not at all valid because there is not one single place (to the best of my knowledge) where native Americans are currently being pushed off their lands by force or are being held hostage, starved, bombed, or having emergency services withheld. As a matter of fact, it is unbelieveably ironic that the Seminole Tribe may be bailing out the State of Florida with funds from their gaming parlors.Besides, I’m quite sure there are many “occupied territories” in Florida the Seminole Tribe want nothing to do with.
    That said, I am not suggesting, nor have I ever stated that Israel should be dismantled. What I did say, and continue to advocate is to end ALL funding for Israel via American tax payer dollars .I think its fair to say that the Jews of the world could afford to fund Israel without my tax dollars ( no, I don’t think all Jews are rich, nor do I think Jews “control” all the money). In the current economic meltdown, we can not afford to support wealthy foreign governments, and if I had my choice, I’d rather fund the people of Hati, the poorest, most wreched country in OUR neighborhood.
    Do I say this out of hatred for Jews? NO WAY, I’m simply sick of being an enabler for the Likud party , the extremists in Israel, and the Zionist extremists right here.
    I’m amazed that Sami Al-Arian was railroaded, thrown in prision, and subjected to all manners of humiliation for being critical of Israel and supporting an Islamic charity, later classified as a “terrorist organization”while members of Jewish extremist groups get free rein. Please notice I said “extremist”.
    My ancestors lived in Ireland . Millions of Irish were starved and persecuted by the British.I am first generation American, my parents moved to the states from Montreal in ’59. I have never held any sympathy for nor contributed any money to the IRA.Any guess how many Americans in Boston or New York city supported the IRA, a “terrorist” organization through cash donations? Any idea how many of those supporters are in prision for aiding “terrorism”.
    However cruel the British were to the Irish, and however cruel and awful the IRA was in there terror bombings in London, I don’t recall the Brits sending missiles or jet bombers into Ireland.

    The main difference between what happened to the Irish and the Jews (besides the scale of death) is that the problem in Ireland never had the potential of causing the death of the entire planet.
    This is why I get so pissed at the bone-heads in Israel and Washington, they don’t grasp the grandness of the scope.
    Another difference is the propaganda machine. Towards the end of Olbermann’s show Thursday night, there was a commercial soliciting for donations for Israel which distorted the current war beyond belief, The Israelis were the victims, and are shivering in the dark in terror.Once again, WHERE is this huge missile defense shield we spent billions for, and WHY can’t it work against the punny Pal rockets? If this is the same missile defense Bush wants to put in Poland and the Czech Republic, well they’d better think twice before pissing off Russia over an impotent anti-missile system.
    The other thing that pisses me off is the Israelis just keep pushing.
    Settlements illegal? Well, we’ll just call them “outposts” problem solved. The Israelis are committing crimes against humanity and expanding territory, and Washington backs them fully, case closed. One look at a map of palestinian lands in the 60′ and today is very revealing.

    Peace came to Northern Ireland when the door to opportunity and prosperity was opened. You’d think the Israelis would get a clue.
    Sadly, I see no chance of this happening in my lifetime, especially after Israel’s actions in Lebanon and the occupied territories over the last several years, and the fact that “the lobby” owns both parties in Washington.I’m begining to realize that my words don’t matter, I don’t have enough money to buy any politicians, and that’s the way things work. If anyone says something critical of Israeli policy, they’re thrown into the same group as David Duke.

    “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”

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