Friday, July 28, 2006

Winning Hearts and Minds

courtesy of Rick, from the comments below, the NYT tells us:

(1)At the onset of the Lebanese crisis, Arab governments, starting with Saudi Arabia, slammed Hezbollah for recklessly provoking a war, providing what the United States and Israel took as a wink and a nod to continue the fight.

(2)Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shi'ite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

(3)The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

(4)An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression.
The numbers are mine, for this:

(1) Funny, that's how Israel took the results of Condi's meeting in Rome.

(2) Problem with "birth pang" strategies; nobody in this Administration reads Yeats: "And what rough beast, its hour come 'round at last,/Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" Even Yeats knew birth pangs didn't mean something good was necessarily coming.

(3) The Saudi royal court is not buying the "chaos is the path to order" idea.
“If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance,” it said, “then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire.”
(4) I blame the public poetry readings. Those are clearly shrill, undermine the growth of democracy, and are evidence the Arab countries are not yet "developed" enough to handle representative government.

I actually heard an interview on NPR this morning arguing for the Bush policy, saying the region had to be "remade" in order to be pacified. What he was arguing for, of course, though he didn't say it, was the extermination of the people in those countries (he mentioned Lebanon specifically) who keep doing daft things like electing parties like Hezbollah. It really is the only way you get people in those countries to stop doing what you don't want them to do: kill the ones you deem "unreasonable." Honestly, if these people would just think like us, we wouldn't have these problems.

This is what passes for "analysis" in Washington just now. A simpler consideration is to reconsider the path of violence. When David Koresh presented a problem to the ATF, they attacked with the full power of the federal government, finally losing patience and fearing violence by unleashing violence: chaos as the path to restoring order. That led, of course, directly to the deaths of innocent men, women, and children in Oklahoma City. Chaos, effected by the keeper of order, the government, effected more chaos.

And that's the story in Iraq. And now it is the story in Lebanon. The only thing I wonder now is: why do we keep wondering where this is coming from? Why do we keep thinking we're only trying to deliver the even-numbered blow?

Never mind; I know the answer to that. That isn't even the question. The question is: what is to be done about it? And the answer is a spiritual one; not political, or psychological; or sociological; not even ecclesiological; but spiritual.

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