Friday, March 24, 2006

More on Iraq Mess and more

A Image from 2009?

I've been trying to caution the war critics that when it comes to Iraq The End is Not Near and that they are departing the Reality-based community when they imagine that political pressure at home would force President Bush to start withdrawing troops from Iraq any time soon. I assume that after Bush told a news conference Tuesday that future U.S. presidents and Iraqi governments probably will have to decide when to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq, everyone is finally facing the reality, that American troops will remain at war in Iraq at least through 2008 and beyond. If you still have any illusions, please read Tony Karon excellent Iraq is the 51st State posted on his Rootless Cosmopolitan blog. Here is a highlight:
The U.S. isn’t about to walk away and leave the borders of the country with the world’s second largest known oil reserves prey to the whim of Tehran or Ankara or Damascus or anyone else. That may be why when Kerry challenged Bush on the campaign trail to explain the 14 permanent bases the U.S. has begun building in Iraq and to declare that the U.S. has no desire to maintain a long-term presence in Iraq, Bush ducked the question. And has done so ever since. Nor has the U.S. media paid much attention to the question of why, if a withdrawal from Iraq is on the cards, Balad air force base near Baghdad boasts a Popeyes, a Subway, a Pizza Hut, a 24-hour Burger King and other features, both on this base and others, that make them resemble a slice of American suburbia? (Hertz seems to have spotted a marketing opportunity by opening up an outlet at one that rents out armor-plated sedans for off-base excursions.)
Americans wondering about base-closures in their home states ought not to be surprised: Perhaps those bases have simply been relocated to the 51st state.

Tony Karon has another interesting post on his blog about why so many American Jews are sometimes more pro Israeli than the Israelis, or as I like to put it, "More Catholic than the Israeli Pope." Karon's post was published before the hysterical reactions among members of the organization American-Jewish community to the Israeli Lobby article/study by Mearsheimer and Walt. But it provides some good background. Interestingly enough, Karon ends his post with the following speculation:
My own sense has always been that if you showed many of the more intense Israel partisans in the U.S. the average Haaretz op-ed on Israeli-Palestinian relations but disguised the source, many of them would brand it “anti-Semitic.”
Actually, that was exactly what I did a few years ago during a discussion with an American-Jewish audience in New York and I recall the incident in an article I published in Chronicles magazine in 2004:
I decided to conduct my own experiment in media analysis and circulated among the audience copies of several articles on Israel and the Middle East. All were very critical of Israeli policies in the West Bank and Gaza and, in particular, of Prime Minister Sharon and his Likud government. One of the writers provided a very depressing exposé of the humiliating fashion in which Palestinian civilians are treated by the Israeli military. Another columnist bashed the Jewish settlers in the West Bank, describing them as religious fanatics and even referring to them as “fascist.” One editorial even called on the Bush administration to pressure the Israeli government to end the building of new settlements. It all sounded very, very anti-Israeli to my hosts’ ears.
I asked my audience to guess where those items were published. In the end, they were divided. Most guessed that the articles appeared in Palestinian newspapers. Others speculated that the authors probably had ties to Nazi publications. A few considered the possibility that the pieces were published in European newspapers. (Le Monde? Der Spiegel? The Guardian? That’s the kind of writing you would expect from those French, the Germans, and the loony left in Britain, right?)
The articles, however, were all published in the leading Israeli Hebrew-language daily, Ha’aretz, also known as “the New York Times of Israel.” Ha’aretz is read by government officials, business executives, and the professional and intellectual elites in Israel. In addition to its exceptional coverage of current events, which has garnered the newspaper many national and international awards, Ha’aretz carries editorials and commentaries that help set the public agenda in Israel. It is a “must read” among diplomats and foreign correspondents stationed in Israel, who receive a more accurate and balanced picture of what is happening there than the one presented by most leading American newspapers. Ha’aretz—unlike the Times or the Post—even employs a full-time correspondent who is stationed in the West Bank and Gaza and who provides the Palestinian perspective on the conflict, which explains why the articles by correspondent Amira Hess were considered so “pro-Arab” by my hosts.