Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dumb ol' Jimmy Carter

Steve Sack, the usually perceptive cartoonist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, drew this one for the paper today:

Yeah, Spotty, what was that old guy thinking, talking to Hamas and urging it to consider peace with Israel? Boy, the nerve of some people.

Sack was probably picking up on remarks by America's Warrior Princess, Condi Rice:

“We wanted to make sure there would be no confusion and there would be no sense that Hamas was somehow a party to peace negotiations" between Israel and more moderate Palestinians, said Ms. Rice, speaking on the margins of an international meeting here on aid to Iraq.

Making peace is our job, Spotty! We're so good at it!

We are, aren't we, grasshopper? Anyway, Spot will say in Carter's defense that his recollection of the conversation with the State Department about meeting with Hamas went a little differently:

"No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas," said a statement released by the Atlanta-based Carter Center, which speaks on the former president's behalf.

Sadly, the AWP apparently missed a couple of days at diplomacy school when some Very Important Stuff was discussed.

Like what, Spotty?

That you don't get to pick your adversaries, for one thing. You have to deal with the one that's there, not your idealized view of the perfect pushover adversary. Spot wishes he had a nickel for every time Israel, or some blind supporter of it, said, "We don't negotiate with terrorists," or "Arafat is not a partner for peace." He wouldn't have to write this blog.

You don't make any money on this blog, Spot. You don't even accept advertising.

Oh, right. He'd still like the money. But Spot digresses.

Before you go off and make extravagant statements about who you will or will not talk to, you'd better be sure that you're prepared to deal with the consequences of not talking to somebody. If you insist on total surrender, you'd better be able to get it.

We have a pretty good object lesson in this from the war in Iraq. For a long time, the administration's position was that we were just going to whip the Sunni insurgency. When it became clear that strategy wasn't going to work, somebody got the bright idea of co-opting some of the insurgency to our side, and the Sunni Awakening was born. We talked to the enemy. We now find ourselves in the awkward position of funding and arming Sunni militias that are not part of the government in Iraq, but the principle is still illustrative.

Grasshopper, what do you think the likelihood is that Hamas can be stamped out?

Well, since Hamas is the popularly-elected government of the Palestinians, and since it's a guerilla movement, probably not very great.

Right, grasshopper. Better to talk to Hamas. Which brings Spot to his second point.

In the terrorism department, the Palestinians have learned from some of the best.

The Jewish Zealots

More than 2,000 years ago the first known acts of what we now call terrorism were perpetrated by a radical offshoot of the Zealots, a Jewish sect active in Judea during the 1st century ad. The Zealots resisted the Roman Empire's rule of what is today Israel through a determined campaign primarily involving assassination. Zealot fighters used the sica, a primitive dagger, to attack their enemies in broad daylight, often in crowded market places or on feast days—essentially wherever there were people to witness the violence. Thus, like modern terrorists, the Zealots intended their actions to communicate a message to a wider target audience: in this instance, the Roman occupation forces and any Jews who sympathized or collaborated with the invaders.

July 2, 1946: The King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed, killing 91 people

Menachem Begin, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for peace, is the same man who planned the destruction of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin. Ex prime minister, Shamir, was originally a member of the Jewish terrorist gang called Irgun, which was headed by none other than Menachem Begin. Shamir later moved over to the even more radical "Stern Gang," which committed many vicious atrocities.
Shamir himself has defended the various assassinations committed by the Irgun and Stern gangs on the grounds that "it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets." The selected moral targets in those early days of the founding of the state of Israel included bombing of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin. [italics are Spot's]

April 9, 1948

A combined force of Irgun and Stern Gangs committed a brutal massacre of 260 Arab residents of the village of Deir Yassin. Most of whom were women and children. The Israeli hordes even attacked the dead to satisfy their bestial tendencies. In April, 1954, during Holy Week, and on the eve of Easter, The Christian cemeteries in Haifa were invaded, crosses broken down and trampled under the feet of these miscreants, and the tombs desecrated. The Israeli military conquest, therefore was made against a defenseless people, who had been softened up by such earlier massacres as Deir Yasin (where 250 Arabs; men, women and children were massacred).

When "terrorism" is committed by the weak and dispossessed against their oppressors, and it's by a guerilla movement with popular support, it is virtually impossible to stamp out. History is littered with examples of this. The AWP must have missed that day, too.

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