DATE: 1/31/2005 01:16:00 PM
Profoundly Dumb - The Bangor Daily News editorial staff should find its own style and stop trying to copy the New York Times. Today's editorial on Bush's inspiration for the inaugural address shows learned and reasoned rhetoric can have just as stupid a message as an angry rant.
Mr. Sharansky has been a hero to neoconservatives ever since President Reagan obtained his release from a Soviet prison camp. As a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, he opposes any concessions to the Palestinians until they accept democracy. Thus he opposed the Oslo accord, broke with Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 over Mr. Barak's plan to attend a peace conference in Washington, and has opposed Mr. Sharon's plan to withdraw from Gaza.Sharansky has known first-hand the terrors of totalitarian government and is now advocating for democracy? The nerve of some people. It seems to me any politician unwilling to deal with the late Yasser Arafat and demanding freedom for people who have not previously known it is standing on solid ground.
In the book, Mr. Sharansky foresees peace in the Middle East through the democratization of Palestine and Iraq, even though he admits this process may take many years or even decades. Like Mr. Bush, he calls for "moral clarity" in fighting evil and says the world is "divided between those who are prepared to confront evil and those who are willing to appease it." He goes on: "I am convinced that all peoples desire to be free. I am convinced that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere, and I am convinced that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe."Sounds reasonable. Now comes what Lileks calls "the damnable but..."
A review of the book in The Washington Post points to two basic flaws in Mr. Sharansky's reasoning. The first is his belief that free societies are always peaceful. As he puts it, "Since all democratic societies strive for peace, there is no such thing as a belligerent democracy." But what about Iraq, at least partly democratic in 1948, joining with other Arab states in a military effort to overthrow the new state of Israel? What about the preventive wars fought by Israel since then? In fact, what about the U.S. pre-emptive war against Iraq?This criticism is partially warranted, but the point is badly made. They just couldn't help themselves and had to throw in the moonbat rhetoric about a "pre-emptive war against Iraq." No, democracy alone will not guarantee peaceful relations with one's neighbors. However, democracy makes it much harder for countries to simply attack other countries. It was not the decision of one man that led us into Iraq. The issue was brought before the Congress and approved by elected representatives, including the man the BDN endorsed in the presidential election. As clumsy as that reasoning is, it pales in comparison to the next sentence:
The second flaw is Mr. Sharansky's failure to see that military occupation breeds resentment and insurgency. Both he and President Bush stumble against that obstacle as they present visions of democracy and peace between Israel and the Palestinians and in Iraq. In both cases, peace is a long way off, if it can be achieved at all.There is no doubt some in Iraq are a little peeved at the presence of the US military. However, that is not the only reason for "resentment and insurgency," as Zarqawi helpfully pointed out in his pre-election missive. It seems President Bush was right just after September 11. Some people do actually hate the idea of freedom and are willing to kill to prevent it. Here's what Zarqawi said:
"We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology...anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it..."Many of those who are now setting off car bombs and beheading innocents were powerful people in the regime of Saddam Hussein. So, yes, they are going to be angry at the occupation. Their feelings should not be excused or legitimized by those in the United States with this "logic."
In Israel, the government is tired of having its citizens murdered, so it has put up a wall and cracked down on violence. For this, they are constantly accused of 'breeding terrorism,' when in fact they are preventing it. If Israel stopped these actions, they would still be hated - that's something this editorial doesn't mention, and it's an important facet of the discussion. Terrorism isn't the fault of those terrorized. In some cases, it's an ideology preached in schoolbooks. This editorial is a weak attempt to portray Israel and the Bush administration as obstacles to peace. Anyone who's spent five minutes at the Middle East Media Research Institute website knows better.