The Moment of Truth — January 28, 2006

Thinking Outside the Henhouse

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You would think Hamas winning the Palestinian elections would have brought Sharon out of his coma. Personally, I don’t think he’s really in a coma, I think he’s pretending. It all got to be too much for him, so he faked a stroke. He’s a very public figure, he couldn’t just call in sick, you know, he had to be convincingly out of commission if he wanted a sabbatical, or, as we say in Hebrew, “shabbatical.” So he stuck his finger in his brain and wiggled it around.

The great thing about Hamas winning is now there really is a partner for peace. HUH? That’s right. Look, whenever there’s a lull in violence, what usually breaks it? If it’s not the Israeli army destroying Palestinian homes, then it’s a suicide bomber blowing up Israeli civilians. Sometimes it’s the al Aqsa Martyrs, sometimes one or another little faction, but who can doubt Hamas tops the charts? And I’m not talking about actual statistics. I’m talking about perceptions. Unless the statistics are in accord with the perceptions. Then I am talking about them.

The Palestinian Authority could never guarantee a cease-fire because they weren’t in control of Hamas. Weren’t Israel and the US always trying to get them to “clamp down” on terrorists? Well, look: Now Hamas IS the Palestinian Authority. Who better to guarantee the Palestinian side of a cease-fire than the people who are always breaking it?

The problem will be if Netanyahu gets put back in charge. See, Netanyahu loves to break truces. He’ll say there’s a truce with one face, and with the other he’ll be putting up a settlement for Arab-haters newly arrived from Brooklyn, or excavating in a Palestinian olive orchard or schoolyard looking for the two-thousand-year-old waste stack to Tinneus Rufus’s toilet, or bringing in some contractor from Miami to build condos in Gaza. Netanyahu definitely can’t clamp down on himself. He’s just too big a dick. I’ve had discussions with one of his aides—she was a big dick, too—and, trust me, Netanyahu doesn’t want peace with anybody, and he surrounds himself with people who more than anything else want to wreak havoc on anything Semitic that isn’t a Jew. He just wants to dick everybody around. It’d be like making Dick Cheney president.

It’s sort of pathetic when rightwing drunks on TV say, “We gotta take a page from Israel’s book. They know how to deal with terrorists.” Yeah, they’re doing great. That’s who we want to copy. We still want to be fighting this War on Terror or Struggle Against Violent Extremism thirty-five years from now. We want the religious nutcase fanatics winning elections in territories we’re occupying—oh, wait! That just happened! We even got there AHEAD of the Israelis. Wow, we are real trendsetters. Maybe Israel should be modeling its policy after ours.

Terrorists have always become peacemakers in Israel. Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon are the two examples I’m thinking of. Netanyahu is a terrorist, but he doesn’t really have the hands-on field experience those old guys had. I guess Rabin was a peacemaker, but he didn’t have any terrorist street cred, surely not that of Begin and Sharon, and not even that of Netanyahu, so he was considered soft and had to be shot.

Still, we have to consider what to do if Netanyahu does take over. I think the US needs to broker the following deal: we get the Palestinians and the Israelis in a room and tell them, if they join forces, we’ll let them invade Egypt together. Just put the battle over the Holy Land on hold until the war with Egypt is over. Now, look, they’re cooperating! And if they win, then we set them against someone else—maybe Tunisia. When’s the last time Tunisia had any historical stuff going on? They’re due. The Israeli-Palestinian Army (I’m putting the billing in alphabetical order—in reality a coin will be tossed) can band together with Libya. Then all of them can push on to Algeria. After North Africa is united under the Palegyptibyisraelisian flag, they can all swing back around and take Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and beyond.

Even if they lose, they’ll have forged a camaraderie that will make of them one united nation of losers.

Hey, got any better ideas? I mean, it’s easy to point fingers and say there have been serious policy errors during this conflict. But can you separate the good steps from the bad? When the result is the current situation, it’s rather an academic exercise to distinguish right efforts from wrong. So why not look on the bright side?

There’s finally a partner for peace! Who can police Hamas better than Hamas itself? Look, here in the US we’ve been trying to bust up drug-dealing gangs. The best thing we’ve tried so far is put the cops in charge of the gangs, and then arrest the cops. It’s like what the Republicans are doing right now with government corruption: put the legislative and executive branches in charge of cronyism, money-laundering, and corporate crime, then get them all indicted. Sick of terrorism? Put the president in charge of torturing, kidnapping, killing civilians, and destroying the public sphere, and then impeach him!

Of course, it doesn’t work if you let them get away with it.

But at least we’re finally thinking outside the box. Tired of the media dumbing down the news and giving it a rightwing slant? Give rightwing dumbbells from some alternative universe Gong Show of journalism their own news network, so the people who don’t care about reality have a ghetto of rightwing hog shit to wallow in. Speaking of the Gong Show, don’t you think Ann Coulter is the Rip Taylor of our time?

See, if you put the fox in charge of the henhouse, then you can keep tabs on the fox because you know where he’s working. It’s a theory, okay, it’s in its infancy. But if you can see where I’m going, look into the future with me for a moment, where nuclear warheads with artificial intelligence threaten to blow up humanity if we don’t behave. Put the weapons in charge of the war. After all, war is too important to leave to the corporations.

This may sound glib, but there is no answer to terrorism. Terrorism isn’t a question. It’s a dirty trick. It’s meant to make people scared and angry. And in this sense, terrorism always works. It cannot fail. It’s also meant to elicit violent revenge, and so far it has yet to fail in that respect, either. You can kill the terrorist, unless he kills himself, but the terrorism doesn’t usually stop as a result. A terrorist act achieves its end immediately, because it is its own end. There may be a theoretical goal behind it, touted by its engineers, but that’s beside the point. When you decide to blow up civilians, for whatever reason, and you do it: well, there you are. There you have it.

The suicide terrorist is almost a paradox. The victim is deprived of revenge by the culprit, who has taken revenge on himself. All that’s left for the victim to revenge himself on are people resembling the culprit, or who claim the culprit to have acted on their behalf.

We don’t negotiate with terrorists, we say. As if we have a choice. Osama bin Laden couldn’t call a truce anymore than Arafat could. What is he, in charge of all the angry suicidal Islamic lunatics? Really? He’s in charge? Well then by all means negotiate with him!

Or just blow up a bunch of people. Because, let’s face it, he’s probably NOT in charge of all the crazy suicidal Islamic terrorists from Indonesia west around the world to Los Angeles. So, you know, if you blow up enough people, maybe you’ll accidentally hit the guy who IS in charge. And so, sure, it makes sense to drop bombs on Islamic nations—that’s where the Islamic terrorists are most likely to be, after all. Though, if he’s really smart, the guy in charge of all the Islamic terrorists is a Hasidic rabbi in Brooklyn. Who would ever suspect him? In fact, logically, you should kill as many strangers as possible, if your goal is to get the terrorists.

You know when your mom said about the kid who always picked on you in school, “Just ignore him?” I know it doesn’t sound like very practical advice, but is it any more practical to try to battle terrorism with an army? Terrorists don’t attack armies, they attack civilians. But even so, you can’t kill every possible terrorist. And while we’re fighting insurgents, terrorists are still terrorizing Iraqi civilians, and European civilians. Terrorists are an especially screwed up thing. Mercurial. It just might be that one has to put one’s energy into things that make a difference, and control the urge to make war on the terrorists. Not to say one shouldn’t hunt down those responsible. It’s the war on terrorism that seems questionable to me.

This is assuming, of course, that one’s main goal in a war is to achieve a positive geopolitical restructuring, and not just to direct government money to private companies using war as a kind of pork barrel abroad. In the latter case, the more poorly the war is carried out, and the longer it takes, the better. Is it a coincidence that Halliburton is again in the news for not delivering what they were paid for with our tax dollars, this time for not providing water clean enough for the troops to use even for non-drinking purposes? And that a private company supposed to provide new elevators in a hospital instead pocketed the money and tried to make due by repairing the old ones? And at the same time we’re screwing up the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan both? Coincidence? I’m just asking.

Think back to just after 9/11, now that my worst fears of OUR government’s response to the terrorist attack have come true. What could we have done differently, other than the obvious answer of not invading Iraq? We couldn’t just ignore what happened. And we had to make some kind of public gesture, as the whole world was waiting. Should we have fought the urge to avenge ourselves and considered a disarmingly unexpected response? Is there something brainier we could have done than bomb and fight? Not in response to antagonism from the Taliban, I’m not talking about that. That antagonism just provided a target for our anger—otherwise we might have invaded Iraq from the start and left Afghanistan alone altogether.

Maybe there was nothing else to do. Maybe terrorism has to be fought with a weapon similar to itself.

Obviously, we had to show we weren’t weak. Have we proven we’re not weak yet?

We could let the Iranian Islamocrats take charge of everything between Greece and India, and between Russia and the horn of Africa, and then overthrow one government instead of a bunch. Maybe that’s the Bush administration’s plan, come to think of it. They’ve already unified Iraq and Iran.

Wouldn’t it be something if that were the plan? Wouldn’t it be something if ANYTHING were the plan?

This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!