Thursday, June 20, 2002

Edward Said is one of the examples most used when someone wants to find "leftists that are cheerleading 'Islamicists'", so it was with small amount of glee that I discovered the following:

If there is one thing along with Arafat's ruinous regime that has done us more harm as a cause it is this calamitous policy of killing Israeli civilians, which further proves to the world that we are indeed terrorists and an immoral movement. For what gain no one has been able to say.

Well, so much for Edward Said being on the side of the terrorists. It's actually a decent summary of the problem from the Palestinian point of view, and is unequivocal about the uselessness of terrorist bombings. (Which is, as I've said, the worst part of the whole thing. Machiavelli pointed out that morality must be set aside if it's clearly in the people's interests, but I'm sure he'd have nothing but scorn for actions that are neither moral nor in anybody's interests).

The only problem with Said's article is that he keeps calling for the "Palestinian people" to create an assembly to replace the Palestinian Authority. While I have no doubt that such an assembly would be useful, I have to ask whether it's really likely. It's rare that such things spring out of the minds of the masses, whether intellectuals call for it or not: it usually requires somebody to actually assemble such a thing, and those people are pretty rare. It reminds me of Rousseau's demand for a Legislator and Machiavelli's call for a leader with "Virtu" that is both supported by the people and yet willing to put their petty concerns aside to create a state. The Americans were lucky enough to have a bunch of them (whether this is due to the economic structure of pre-revolutionary America or not), but where would Palestine find someone who could boast the natural legitimacy, moral authority, and native creativity (not to mention determination) to create such a thing? Especially considering that he (or she) would be a target for every terrorist in the Middle East that still thinks this conflict can be won by force of arms? Machiavelli's Discourses spends a lot of time going over how difficult such a thing really is, and it's far too easy for such a leader (or group of leaders) to descend into tyranny.

It comes down to Aesop's old question: who's going to bell the cat?

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