Monday, December 27, 2004


David Hirst in the LA Times

Somehow in the madness of the holiday season I managed to miss this David Hirst piece in the LA Times the first time around. Hirst throws it all out there on the table, from Israel and Palestine to Iraq and Iran, in a neat breakdown of why the death of Yasir Arafat hardly means a new opportunity for peace. In a way, it's a bit of an anti-David Brooks analysis. Brooks, who takes a putridly clever jab at all the "nay-sayers" who thought that Ariel Sharon wasn't a great man of peace, and who thought that George W. Bush wasn't a righteous genius who will soon solve all of our Middle East problems, and who didn't think Yasir Arafat was the obstacle to peace that just needed to be removed for everything to fall into place. Well allow me to say that I think David Brooks is counting his chickens before they are hatched. Things are getting worse for Palestinians. Things are getting worse for Iraqis. Just because both might have "elections" does not mean that the people there are going to suddenly forget their problems. And the US is not going to be able to disentangle ourselves from these issues so easily; we have our hands in this up to our elbows and everybody knows it. As David Hirst writes:
Arabs wonder anxiously whether, in the headiness of reelection, Bush will embark on more of the Iraq-like enterprises envisaged in the neocons' grand design for the region. Continued, incorrigible partisanship in Palestine, combined with remorseless deterioration in Iraq, certainly makes it more likely.

And, to Washington's growing exasperation, Iran now has two "colonial" situations to exploit: the old one in Palestine and the new — and better — one in Iraq.

Any showdown will almost certainly come over nuclear weapons and the belief that Iran is about to get them. That would be very dangerous mainly because Israel already has them, is determined to preserve its monopoly and has suggested that if the U.S. doesn't do something about it, it will do so itself — an act liable to reduce Iraq to a case of merely moderate turbulence compared with the regional tempest that would then ensue.

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