Monday, November 26, 2007

High price of failure at Middle East Summit

I find myself using the word "fatuous" more and more often as I read nonsense like today's "analysis" by the Associated Press of the upcoming Middle East Peace Summit.

AP asserts that failure at the summit would have a high price because "radical Islamists could gain the upper hand in Palestinian areas and in an increasingly polarized Middle East."

What about the high price that the Palestinian people have been paying since the partitioning of Palestine created a homeland for the Jews on 77% of what had been Palestine? What about the price they have paid as refugee camps -- once thought to be a temporary solution on the way to Palestinian statehood -- have become a permanent way of life for more than 4 million Paestinians (as of a 2005 count)! Or the ongoing high price they have been paying as Israeli settlements squeeze Palestinian territory more and more.

The so-called peace process -- which is not a process and has nothing to do with peace -- has been and continues to be an attempt by the USA, Britain, and Israel to gain international legitimacy for the status quo in Palestine: namely that Israel will continue to expand and the Palestinian territories will continue to be a large concentration camp. The upcoming summit, coming as it does late in the lamentable presidency of George W. Bush, is clearly nothing more than a hopeless publicity stunt to boost Bush's reputation. Having done less than any president in my lifetime to address the Palestinian mess, Bush now wants to go down in history books as having had his own peace summit.

Perhaps he really thinks he can bring peace to the middle east -- that he'll be able to succeed where many better minds have failed -- because of his great success bringing democracy to Iraq.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Restoring Democracy

The fatuous calls for Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf to "restore democracy" are a good indicator of the intellectual level of the mainstream press. You either live in a democracy or you don't. If your civil liberties are dependent on the mood of one man (in this case Musharraf) then you do not have a democracy, even if his current mood is a pleasant one.

Musharraf may be talked into allowing TV stations back on the air, removing riot police from the streets, and allowing Benazir Bhutto to move about unhampered but everyone will quite justly wonder at what point their actions could cause him to "take away democracy" again.

In a real democracy, the rule of law and the stability of its institutions make it highly unlikely that one individual or even a small group could take over and suspend civil liberties in any situation other than a true national crisis. This, of course, is why thinking people in America are so worried about the erosion of our system of checks and balances by the constant onslaught of the Bush/Cheney war against democracy. Because that is how democracy is really taken away -- by weakening the laws that protect us from tyranny. Once those protections are gone, there will no longer be any democracy to take away or restore.