The "march of democracy" continues in the Middle East, where the Palestinian President had to dissolve his government in the midst of a Hamas-Fatah civil war in which the bad guys (Hamas) have the momentum and significant support from the people. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, violence continues and tensions between Sunni and Shiites are growing.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Reagan's speech at the Brandenberg Gate, in which he famously urged Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall." Two years later, the Germans themselves tore it down. While Reagan had his flaws and made his share of mistakes, the Brandenberg speech deserves to go down in history as one of the high points in American presidential rhetoric.
Also, Reagan's presidential diary is now available on bookshelves. I saw the book's editor, historian Douglas Brinkley, interviewed on C-SPAN recently. Some of the passages he read out loud might surprise people today. Among other things, Reagan reacted to the murder of more than 200 Marines in Beirut not with a reckless desire to send more ground forces in; instead, he saw it as a sobering reminder that the Middle East was a dangerous morass to be avoided. He also viewed the death of any innocent civilian caused by American bombs as a failure, not as an acceptable loss. Many so-called conservatives today would likely take exception with those two points--and perhaps in the fullness of time they will be proven right--but it's refreshing to remember that at least one Republican president in the not-so-distant past viewed military intervention as an option of last resort, and took great pains to avoid entangling the U.S. in the Middle East.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Meanwhile, another guy who shouldn't bother running for president is Senator Chuck Hagel. While I appreciate his service in Vietnam and the fact that he has not blindly toed the GOP party line on Iraq, his principal criticism of the war is worse than stupid: that it has damaged our standing in the Middle East.
I hate to break it to you Senator, but:
1 - Our standing there was never great to begin with.
2 - If there is any place on earth whose opinion should mean the least to us, it's the Middle East. The values of Arab society are so utterly antithetical to our own and to modern civilization in general, that Arabs should be much more worried about how the rest of the world views them than should we.
You can hear Senator Hagel's full speech to the Council on Foreign Relations by downloading the podcast from the iTunes store.
Bill Richardson's appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday was the worst performance I've ever witnessed of a major candidate for the presidency. If you didn't catch the interview, you can view it online at the Meet the Press website or download the podcast from the iTunes store. His pathological tendency to take both sides of an issue at once and to avoid giving direct "yes or no" answers must make even Bill Clinton blush. Much as I hate to say it, I've officially scratched him off my list of candidates I could in good conscience vote for.