Another essay from the vault – written on the occasion of Yasser Arafat’s death and published in a 2004 edition of the Boston Metro. Not quite radical enough yet, but on the right track.
Yasser Arafat is dead. One more Islamofascist bites the dust. Call it one small step forward for mankind. But is it? To Arabs he was an icon, a righteous victim and defiant guerilla warrior wrapped into one man who for decades acted as titular head of a stateless people, the Palestinians. Recent corruption was wearing the shine off of his reputation, but despite this and his tacit support for the increasingly brutal Palestinian terrorists, he remained the most viable partner for peace with Israel – the best choice of a bad lot.
Why should Americans care about Palestine vs. Israel, and the Middle East in general? Until recenty that would’ve been a good question. Meddling in their affairs only got us burned in the past. Our unstinting support of Israel earned us little in terms of strategic advantage, while only breeding resentment from Arabs. But today, it should be obvious why the Palestinian-Israeli conflict matters: our part in it was a key motivator for the 9-11 attacks, touching off an open-ended ‘War on Terrorism’ that promises to mire us in ideological and armed conflict for a generation.
“So was 9-11 our fault?” you ask indignantly. However harmful our policy might have been toward the Arabs what could possibly have justified a crime like 9-11? I hate talking down to adults, but with so many Americans having succumbed to George W. Bush’s childish view of the world as ‘goodies’ vs. ‘baddies’, I’m afraid its necessary: stop being a knee-jerker.
Pundit Pat Buchanan has long been a critic of the Bush Administration’s empirialistic foreign policy. He’s no knee-jerk Republican, but a common-sense conservative who’s vision of a non-interventionist America is looking better all the time. When Bush says “You’re with us or against us”, Buchanan says “If you’re not against us we’d like you to be with us”. When Bush says “We must stay the course in Iraq”, Buchanan quotes Kenny Rogers: “You have to know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em”. When Bush says of muslim extremists “They hate freedom”, Buchanan asks “Do they hate us for who we are, or for what we do?”
Indeed, the Arabs love us for who we are. American culture reigns supreme and is emulated in the progressive Arab cities of Damascus and Amman. What they hate is our favoritism of Israel. And why should we take sides at all? There will always be interest groups with influence in government – pro-Palestinians no less than pro-Israelis – who want us to favor one side or another and to intervene on their behalf. But our government should keep hands off any foreign affairs that don’t directly affect Americans’ security. We must stop giving Arab extremists reason to use America as a scapegoat for their own misery, when their true opressors are their own corrupt rulers. Though I doubt Bush will take my – and Pat Buchanan’s – advice, let’s at least hope that Arafat’s death won’t propel us further down a dead-end road