Tuesday, June 25, 2002

In a hilarious opening paragraph, a Washington Post article says
“Fireproofing failures--rather than the impact of the plane
crashes--probably caused the World Trade Center towers to quickly
collapse”. My, what an unfortunately coincidence!

And I won’t even mention the split infinitive.

Germany and Austria seem to be increasingly assertive in favor of the ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war, and now, future German chancellor Edmund Stoiber, whose wife was an expelled Sudeten German, is saying that Poland should also let its German population back in.

Speaking of unwelcome visitors, Israel is about to unleash the dogs of war on Gaza, which is so densely packed that the death count among civilians could be much higher than in the West Bank.

Which didn’t bother Bush when he gave his speech and failed to mention it. There are good analyses by the Washington Post, in the Guardian (guardian.co.uk/worldlatest) and by William Saletan in slate.com. I’m still making up my mind. Noticeably, Bush’s plan for Middle East peace in our time involved as small an American role as possible. In fact, I think this speech was it.

He did call on Israel to stop “settlement activity,” which I assume means a freeze rather than a withdrawal, and for a pull-back of troops. This is all to the good, although the second half was undermined by other statements by him recently and by the rest of the speech. Calling for Arafat to be removed immediately after Israeli troops put him under siege again looks like endorsement of Sharon’s policy. Which it is, of course. Bush probably foresees another loya jirga, where he gets to call for democracy, but only after the US pressures anyone it doesn’t like into not running. Sharon, as the Guardian piece suggests, foresees another Bashir
Gemayel, the man he foisted on Lebanon as its “president” in 1982 after a remarkably similar invasion. Sharon wanted a force to do the dirty work while Israelis looked on, and yes, I’m talking about Sabra and Shatila again.

I could swear I heard Bush say both that Israel would have secure and recognized borders, and that Palestine would be provisional, without actual borders. How those two things are possible at once is beyond me.

Bush also quietly endorsed Sharon’s policy of witholding Palestinian funds from the Palestinian government, effectively using the money to prop up this democratic-but-not-Arafat government that will magically spring up out of nowhere. This violates international law. And Bush has to recognize that there can be no elections while Israeli soldiers are occupying the country. My favorite bit was when he inserted that Palestine has to be based on market economics. Yes, that’s what the Palestinians need, market-based incentives.

Or did he mean the market the Israelis shelled yesterday?

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