Monday, October 29, 2007

Jonathan Schwarz explains how to differentiate good guys from bad guys

This is the end of a post in which Schwarz is explaining a previous post about extremely inflammatory things Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt has said and the total lack of concern about it.

A Tiny Revolution:

WHAT I LEFT OUT: The dividing line between what foreign leaders are acceptable isn't, as I implied, just whether Democrats or Republicans are meeting with them. The dividing line is also (perhaps mostly) whether they've knuckled under to US foreign policy. Anyone who has is acceptable, and Democrats are generally safe cozying up to them. Anyone who hasn't is radioactive, and if Republicans meet with them, they may well be attacked from the right, with Democrats joining in.

To understand this phenomenon, look again at Arafat. He was a vile terror-monger up until 1993, and any American politician who met him was a terrorist-lover. This had nothing to do with Arafat making any statement like Jumblatt has--it was purely because he wasn't doing exactly what we told him to do.

Then, when we finally broke him and he agreed to be the US-Israeli subcontractor under the Oslo accords, he received the seal of approval. Clinton could hug and kiss him as much as he liked. (Later, after Arafat surprised us with unexpected backbone in 2000, he went back to being a vile terror-monger.)

The process worked in reverse with Saddam Hussein. It was perfectly fine for a bipartisan group of senators to meet with him in spring, 1990 at the height of his criminality. They all happily smooched his ass, with Alan Simpson commiserating with him about the "haughty, pampered press." (This was shortly after Saddam had had a British journalist executed.)

Then when Saddam disobeyed orders and invaded Kuwait, he was suddenly transformed into the Butcher of Baghdad. No one, Democrat or Republican, could possibly have met with him after that without the standard explosion of insanity.

Or take the two Mahmouds, Abbas and Ahmadinejad. They've both engaged in exactly the same kind of holocaust denial, with Abbas writing, "Many scholars have debated the figure of six million and reached stunning conclusions—fixing the number of Jewish victims at only a few hundred thousand."

But it's perfectly fine for Abbas to have said it, and fine for George Bush or Hillary Clinton to hang out with him, because Abbas follows orders. If he stopped following orders, that holocaust quote would be repeated every time he's mentioned in the US media, and Hillary couldn't meet with him anymore. Conversely, if Ahmadinejad would just start following orders, he could deny the holocaust all he wants, and Hillary could make out with him on national TV. No problem.

This is so glaringly obvious you'd think it might occasionally appear in a US newspaper, perhaps as often as once a decade. But it doesn't. As Noam Chomsky likes to say, you've got to admire the discipline.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at 03:03 PM

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