About Rationally Speaking
Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
The mess in the Middle East
Given all that, the conclusion is inescapable: the Israeli-Palestinian question is irresolvable because there is an army of idiots on both sides. Let me spell it out, because I wouldn't want to be accused of offending one group more than the other.
Israel: apparently they simply don't get that military might does not solve cultural conflicts, it only exacerbates hatred and helps the other side to recruit suicide bombers. Of course, Israel isn't the only one to have made this mistake, just think of Bush's invasion of Iraq. The Israeli are so obviously deluded and lost in a parallel universe that they think that they can actually extirpate Hezbollah by simply bombing Beirut's airport and surrounding areas. Nuts. Unless their real goal is to force Iran or Syria into an open conflict, to finish what they started with the 1967 war. In which case I can only say: nuts squared!
Hebzollah: did you see the videos of these idiots marching in locked steps while stepping over the Israeli flag? This is a bunch of fanatics who do nothing to further the Palestinian cause, or for that matter to make Islam acceptable to the rest of the world. How thousands of people can so easily be talked into the idea that a few AK47s and a really ferocious looking mask would scare the shit out of Israel is beyond me. Nuts!
And speaking of nuts, let's put a couple of other players into the mix. First, Iran, who recently has been maneuvering as if it were the old Soviet Union (or the new China), pissing off the entire world because they have a “right” to produce nuclear technology. A right? Given by whom? Not the United Nations, for sure. Maybe it's their divine right, in which case, however, there seem to be gods of other people that apparently object to the move. And what on earth makes the so-called Iranian “leaders” think that their people (who allegedly they serve and guide) would be better off by “going (North) Korean,” blackmailing the rest of the world with the specter of a regional nuclear war?
Next, Palestinians. I do understand their position and the desperation that it engenders. But I never understood why people become more irrational in inverse proportion to the degree of rationality called for by their situation. After 9/11 lots of Americans turned to God – of all sources of solace -- even though it was religious fanatics that did the deed (but they were working for the wrong god, of course); equally irrationally, the Palestinians, rightly outraged by the corruption and ineffectiveness of their previous government (though decades of the same treatment by Arafat didn't seem to bother them a bit), decided to change the tune. So who do they hire as a conductor? A bunch of fanatics who have the same delusions of grandeur as their Hezbollah neighbor!
Finally, the biggest fish of them all: the US of A. I've said this before and I'll repeat it here: the US could single-handedly stop the Israeli-Palestinian conflict overnight, if they really wanted to (which means that they are morally responsible for its continuation over a period of decades). They need to do two simple things: first, disengage militarily from any middle eastern country, supporting (and I really mean supporting, with lots of money) instead a series of UN missions in the region; second, threaten Israel with cutting their funding. Israel can exist as a regional military power only because of US money and weapons. If the US were seriously hinting at the possibility of stopping the cash flow, not even the idiots who run the Israeli government would fail to see that their nation would cease existing overnight. Nothing like the prospect of sudden annihilation to turn ideological posturing into reasonable open-mindedness.
The result of all this couldn't possibly be the cessation of ethnic and religious hatred. I'm afraid we'll have to wait for genetic engineering to extirpate that from the human repertoire. But if all of the above actually were to happen (no chance in hell, of course), we would have an independent Palestinian state, Israel's withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders, elimination of illegal Jewish settlements, and Jerusalem declared an open and international city. Iran and Syria would have little left to exercise regional influence with, Hamas and Hezbollah would disappear into irrelevance, and Israelis and Palestinians could actually go about their daily business of life without fear of being blown to pieces while sipping coffee.
See? And they say that the Middle East question is impossible to solve!