Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What Do We Want?! When Do We Want It?!

Posted by codemorse

From DailyKos:

On March 28, 2002, 22 members of the Arab League unanimously approved a Saudi-crafted peace initiative at a summit in Beirut. The "Beirut Declaration" as it came to be known had the appearance of a dramatic gesture, promising to explicitly recognize Israel's right to exist, in exchange for a return of the Occupied Territories.

Had it been pursued, the carnage and chaos now unfolding in Lebanon could have been rendered impossible. What's more, such a peace agreement would have deprived al Qaeda of a major grievance to exploit, and made it much easier to strengthen moderate voices throughout the Arab world and among Muslims generally. Instead, the Bush Administration remained focused on invading Iraq, under the false assumption that this would benefit Israel as well.

"They totally ignored it," Mideast expert Steven Zunes told Random Lengths. "It was a major breakthrough offering pretty much what Israel had been wanting all these years--land for peace."

There's a line of argument I hear a lot. It goes something like this: "X event has already occured. Since it has already occured, there is nothing we can do to change this event, or it's consequences. Therefore, it is useless to continue discussing X event." To put it in relatable terms, it's the argument we've heard regarding criticism of the buildup to the Iraq war. But that argument is poppycock for one reason:

We learn from history, or repeat it.

And we need to learn from history if we're to have any hope of helping create some sort of peace in the middle east. Looking at stories like this one, we're able to see how devotion to one course of action at the expense of alternatives (what Bush might refer to as "staying the course") ends up being a terrible idea, historically-speaking.

Had the US not adhered to an unwavering policy of non-interference with Nazi Germany for so long, we might have prevented WWII. Had we considered peace agreements like the above, we might have prevented much of the violence that's since occured.

What's the point, critics argue? It's already happened, and now we have to deal with things as they are, over-intellectual, ivory-tower liberal! Get down from your ivy-covered collegiate walls and join the real world! Where men are men!

That seems to me to be a little like asking why you'd review a test you did poorly on. Or reflect on poor decision-making on that night out last week. Human beings are not sharks. We have no need to keep moving ceaselessly forward or risk dying. In point of fact, the ability to reflect somewhat-logically on life and one's past is perhaps the largest differentiator between us and the animal kingdom. It's what allows us to realize that touching a hot stove is painful, to learn from that experience, and to think twice about touching it again without proper preparation.


At 9:31 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Looking at the past is great, except that this is simply a crock. Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and got attacked from Lebanon. Israel withdrew from Gaza, and got attacked from Gaza.

The fact that anyone can look back at history and still claim that "land for peace" is a viable option is either willfully ignorant or a moron.

History is great. If you are smart enough to learn from it.

At 10:17 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Seeing as I'm a moron, I'd honestly like to be educated on this.

Here's what I've found in reading up on this.

The declaration announcement:

Israel's response:

Why is "land for peace" not a viable option?

At 10:30 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

1) Because it does not work. (See Lebanon and Gaza).

2) Israel does not need to make peace with Saudi Arabia, or even Labanon. Saudi Arabia can go pound sand, as far as Israel is concerned. The land that its enemies seek isn't this border here, or this sliver here, it's the entire state. Let me repeat: The Entire State. That's what Hezbollah seeks, that's what Syria seeks, that's what Iran seeks, and that's what Hamas seeks. So while it is giving up land, Hezbollah, and Hamas, the clients of Syria and Iran, just inch forward and keep on attacking. It's incremental war, and the only reason it works is because people seem to forget that land for peace is a time tested failure.

And it's not theoretical. It's history. It's happened. But whatever. People are still going to suggest that it's a viable option, and completely ignore the past ten years. What can you do about that?

At 10:38 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

Well, one could start by advancing a cogent argument like the above in the face of ignorance.

I find that's helpful.

Included in that might be the understanding that people need to see different sides of an argument before understanding a situation. That understanding would, I think, make it easier to explain that situation to others without losing patience with them.

It's tough, but I think it'd work.

In the alternative, you can choose to dismiss people because they don't already share your opinion (my preferred method). But that seems less effective in terms of finding long-term solutions.


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