Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Abu this, Abu that
Israeli Tourism Minister Binyamin Elon responded to the resignation of Mahmoud Abbas (commonly known as Abu Mazen) as Palestinian Prime Minister by stating:

At this rate, instead of Abu Mazen, we'll have Abu Ala, and he'll be replaced by Abu Ali, and then Abu Jilda or whoever — there are a lot of Abu's in the world — but what we need is something to replace this failed Oslo program. The entire leadership must be expelled, including Abu Ala and including Arafat, or even killed, if that's what the security organs decide.

Aside from smacking of anti-Arab racism, Elon's idea is quite dangerous. As much as the current leadership of the U.S. and Israel might like to make a habit of killing the leaders of governments that we don't get along with, this does not strike me as a terribly wise strategic decision. Expelling Arafat would instantly make him even more of a hero than he already is to the Palestinian people, and his replacement would not enjoy even the minimal legitimacy that Abu Mazen had. At last it seems to be dawning on everyone that, as this Danny Rubinstein article in Haaretz argues, the policy of pretending that Arafat does not exist has proven to be a miserable failure. And the latest Road Map travails have made clear that, contrary to popular neocon hopes, the Iraq war has not lead to a breakthrough in the peace process, nor has it done much to jar the larger regional strategic picture.

But still the administration's apologists keep at it, as in this breathtakingly bad editorial from Charles Krauthammer, where he argues that "Everywhere you look, the forces of moderation have been strengthened" and that the U.S. has managed to install a "decent" government in Afghanistan.

Hey Chuck, have you looked at Iran or North Korea lately? Doesn't "functioning" need to be included in any definition of "decent"?


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