Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Economist Picks Kerry and New OBL Tape

Hi Everyone,

The Economist, a magazine with a strong pro-market editorial policy, has endorsed John Kerry - albeit reluctantly. The Economist endorsed Bush in 2000 and has strongly supported the decision to invade Iraq. Despite this, they believe that Bush has "never seemed truly up to the job, let alone his own ambitions for it..."

They don't have much nice to say about Kerry (they oppose his position that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake for example) but are scathing in their criticism of Bush's incompetence and the Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo abuses. Essentially, they say that while they agree with Bush generally, Bush and his administration are simply not capable to governing. "If Mr. Bush is re-elected, and uses a new team and new approach to achieve that goal, and shakes off his fealty to an extreme minority, the religious right, then The Economist will wish him well. But our confidence in him has been shattered. We agree that his broad vision is the right one but we doubt whether Mr. Bush is able to change or has sufficient credibility to succeed, especially in the Islamic world."

In other news, Osama Bin Laden has released another tape with the usual vague threats. Both Bush and Kerry responded with strong statements that Al Qaida needed to be hunted down and defeated etc.

Comments? Discussion?


Gaoshan said...

Boston wins the world series AND the Economist endorses (kind of) Kerry for President? Wow. I thought the tearing down of the Berlin Wall was momentous but this... wow. Of course, Bush may still win. Don't forget that he has "Gawd" on his side (a small minded, murderous, exclusionary sort of Gawd, to be sure, but a Gawd none the less).

Bin Laden's tape brings up a few interesting points. He says that it doesn't matter who is president, it is America's policies that are the problem. He asks, why, if Al Quaeda "hates freedom" as Bush has claimed ad nauseam, did they not attack, say, Sweden rather than the U.S. He also ridicules Bush for listening to a children's book reading, rather than taking immediate action, even after hearing about the attacks on the World Trade Center.

Now, Bin Laden needs to be squished like a bug. I believe that firmly. However, he DOES bring up a significant issue that, while simmering in the background of American thought, has not been (and probably CANNOT be... at least not until Bin Laden et al. have been placed in the proverbial hand-basket and sent on down the road) looked at in any large scale context. That being the role America's policies regarding Israel and the Middle East have played in fomenting hatred for the USA (*cough* root of the problem? *cough*).

Raised By Republicans said...

I think the intractable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is far more complicated than simply a flaw in US policy. Bin Laden - like most fundamentalists - is not very willing to embrace complexity (the Bushies call it "nuance"). Finally, let's think for a moment what OBL's definition of a "solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be.

Yasser Arrafat is rapidly moving up to the top of the celebrity death watch list. When he dies, a lot of the Palestinian community's internal problems will be laid bare. No one has been in charge for years. Arrafat was afraid to groom a successor and everyone else is just waiting for the old man to die. Also, I've said before that the first Palestinian leader to agree to a compromise solution will be risking asassination (ala Michael Collins in Ireland). All the leaders with any pull in the community want to be Eamon De Valera (widely believed to have ordered Collins' death; dominated Irish politics for decades after independence) of Palestine and want some other chump to be the Michael Collins figure.

Of course Israel has problems too. Foremost among these is a series of unstable governments that are incapable of making credible commitments over time. Contributing to that is an electoral system based on perfect proportionality. That results in a strong role for tiny parties with fringe ideologies. These same tiny parties often kill peace moves by Israel before they get going.

Is the US helping? No, in fact, Bush's near total alienation of the Middle East and Europe is making any serious attempt at renewed negotiation impossible. Would a sudden shift in US policy improve things? Not much but some, it would at least ENABLE some improvement if the Israelis and Palestinians got their collective acts together.

Bell Curve said...

I think the interesting question about the OBL tape is not "Whom does it benefit?" (which is all the talking head media types seem to ask about ANYTHING) but rather "Why the hell even bother?" What was the point of releasing this video that lectures us instead of threatening us? I suspect that RbR and Brawny are right -- OBL just wants to say that he influenced the election, which he can probably do now no matter the outcome. Any other thoughts?

Gaoshan said...

"I think the intractable nature of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is far more complicated than simply a flaw in US policy."

As your comment appears right after mine, I thought for a minute that this was a response to what I wrote. After reading what I wrote again, I realized you are NOT responding to my comment since I did not talk about the complexity of the Palestinian/Israeli problem. Whew.

US West said...

Well it is Halloween and the spooks are all out in force! You know that the dead are trying to influence the living this fine holiday!

I think OBL, asthey said on NPR today, "He peaked too late." So many absentee ballots and early voters have already gone to the polls (and imagine American voters willing to stand in line for 4 hours to vote! Amazing!) that his impact will be minimal at best. He just wanted to show up the American Al Qaeda who warned us all of impending attacks and to remind us all that he's still out there.

I think the message, compared to his other crazy ramblings, was unusually coherent. But OBL, won't stop even if U.S. policy changes. That is a red herring. For these guys, it goes beyond Israel or Palestine. OBL and his ilk believe that the Western (i.e. American) culture (especially our market oriented values) is taking over the region. They don't see it as the natural evolution of globalization. Anything that smacks of modernization constitutes a threat, invasion, attack. Thus, these fundamentalists believe they are being aggressed and that they have a religious duty to defend their culture. They have misinterpreted the Koran to justify this type of fight. The fact that Muslim youth like blue jeans and Hollywood drives these types crazy. It doesn't help either that many Arabs don't get to reap the rewards of globalization.

The corruption and suppression in present in Arab society (ironically partly at the hands of fundamentalists who try to replace the political tyranny with religious tyranny) prevents that. Couple this with the Arab inability to force social change at home, and you have nothing but anger and frustration that is directed outward rather than inward. It is safer to blame the West because you aren't allowed to blame your government lest you get sent to the dungeon. The psychological term, I believe, is projection. It becomes a vicious cycle that traps Arabs. To break out of this cycle, they would have to change their entire mentality. And it just doesn't happen over night, especially when you are surrounded every day with vestiges and landmarks from Ancient history. It's pretty hard to see the future coming when you are looking at Pyramids all the time.

Don't misunderstand my point. This is not about fighting for a way of life or for civilization as Arabs know it. It is the result of internal cleavages in the Arab and Muslim societies, cleavages that no Western nation (European or the U.S.) has been able to really address. And in the meantime, we on this side of the Pond are busy with our own internal problems and divisions. I am not real optimistic. We are only at the beginning of what is going to be a nasty historical period.

Raised By Republicans said...

Gao Shan, I wasn't responding directly to your comment in particular but to the topic raised in general - your comment, OBL's attitude etc.

US West, I agree largely with your assesment of the Arab projection problem. Ironically, the Arabs in the best situation to get out of the cylce are the Palestinians. Because their main opponent is external and more or less democratic at least compared to the Arab regimes (the Israelis), they have the possibility of having a Ghandi like peaceful resistance movement arise. Ghandi's movement for Indian independence was non-violent but it was hardly wishy washy or moderate in its demands. The were willing to die (and many of them did) but they were not willing to kill. If a Palestinian Ghandi or MLK arose, the Israelis would ultimately have to give in A LOT. Such a victory could allow the Palestinians to break out of the nasty cylce you describe with a little luck.