I think the last paragraph is the most significant. It certainly would be a lot easier to blog if I lived in the uncomplicated "good vs evil" world of the neocons. Unfortunately that is not the real world. In the real world there is plenty of blame to go around. As we have witnessed recently there is a battle going on for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party between the neocons and the anti-neocons. Make no mistake, the neocon ideology is more about Israel than it is the United States. Issue number one is the Security of Israel. The problem is the neocon strategy hasn't worked. That strategy is that there is a military solution to terrorism. Now Israel is the strongest military power in the region. If there were a military solution to terrorism Israel would be terror free. When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney invaded Iraq they did exactly what Osama bin Laden wanted them to do. In the process they also did exactly what the Iranians wanted them to do. While the invasion of Iraq has worked out very badly for Bush and Cheney it has worked out very well for Iran and al-Qaeda. The same can be said for Israel's attack on Lebanon. The Israelis reacted exactly the way Hezbollah wanted them to. Why? Steve Clemons has some thoughts over at The Washington Note. If wonders if it was an attempt to undermine any diplomatic moves the US might be planning in the mid east. Perhaps, but I'm inclined to think we are seeing the same kind of shoot from the hip reactive cowboy strategy we have seen from the Bush/Cheney administration. In Iraq Bush and Cheney discovered that the "bad guys" were tougher than they thought they would be and as a result we are on the verge of losing the fight for that middle east range land. Israel too is discovering that the gang of bad guys isn't as hapless as they thought.
I guess that's about it. As usual, however, I'd add that liberals have a bigger problem here than conservatives. As near as I can tell, most conservatives simply take the uncomplicated stance that Palestinians are terrorists and that Israel should always respond to provocation in the maximal possible way. The fact that this hasn't worked very well in the past doesn't deter them. Liberals don't really have a similarly undemanding position that's suitable for the quick-hit nature of blogging.
- It sparks unusually vicious comment threads, something this blog hardly needs since comments here spin out of control often enough anyway. Needless to say, this phenomenon is fairly universal. For examples, see here and here.
(In case you're curious, the other subjects that seem to spawn more venom than usual are posts related to religion or feminism.)
- The fight between Israel and the Palestinians is over half a century old and seems intractable. It follows the same rhythms decade after decade, full of hypocrisy and posturing from both camps, and there seems little to say about it that doesn't eventually boil down to, "Both sides need to ratchet down the rhetoric and rein in their own extremists." Aside from being pointless, there are only just so many ways you can say this.
(NB: This may be a plausible excuse for inaction coming from a pundit or a blogger, but it's worth pointing out that it's not a plausible excuse for a president of the United States. Are you listening, George?)
- The conflict is fantastically complex, and the partisans on both sides are mostly people who have been following events with fanatical attention to detail for many decades. Ordinary observers can hardly compete in this atmosphere — do you know the detailed history and long-accepted norms of behavior that have developed in the conflict over the Shebaa Farms since 1967? — and this has produced an almost codelike language of its own over the years. One misuses this code at ones peril (see #5 below).
- As with the conflict itself, punditry is heavily dominated by extremists on both sides. I normally take my cues on subjects I'm inexpert in from people whose sensibilities are similar to mine, but it's nearly impossible to figure out who those people might be in this case.
- Related to 1 and 3, posts that display any sense of sympathy for the Palestinians run the risk of provoking a shitstorm of accusations of anti-semitism. (I gather that the opposite is more frequently the case in Europe.) Language is actually as big a problem as substance here, since words and phrases that are used innocently often have specific meanings to longtime partisans that are unknown to the rest of us.
The neocons are fighting the "war on terror" using the same military strategy that Israel has used for 60 years. It has been a failure and Israel is in more danger now than ever it it's history. The world is not the un-nuanced range land of the wild west which is why the neocon ideology continues to not only fail but make things worse.