Monday, March 22, 2004

Terrorism: Have It Your Way
There's a peacenik adage that killing for peace is like fucking for virginity, and we're about to test the wisdom of it yet again. Israel's assassination of Hamas Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is going to ratchet up Israeli-Palestinian violence, at least in the short term, and with Palestinians blaming the United States for the assassination, it's likely to put us more significantly in the crosshairs for a while.

In Israel's view, there are legitimate geopolitical reasons for doing away with Yassin, but there's also a deep streak of irrationality in the act. An Israeli army spokeswoman said yesterday, "The Israeli air force this morning killed the mastermind of all evil, Ahmed Yassin, who was a preacher of death." This is precisely the sort of apocalyptic nonsense that makes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even more impervious to solution. And besides, Yassin can't be the mastermind of all evil. The mastermind of all evil is hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan somewhere. Or did we catch him in an Iraqi spider hole last December? That's the problem with these damned masterminds of all evil--they breed like rabbits. But won't it be great when we catch them all? Then there won't be evil anymore.

Tidings over: As I am hitting the road for an extended period this week, posts here will be light to nonexistent until Thursday night or Friday. In the interim, I recommend you visit ICH News for your daily fix of news you don't always get elsewhere. Tom's daily e-mail update is one of my essential blogging tools, and it was rarely more useful than yesterday. Here's just a sample:

--A story from the Sydney Morning Herald's correspondent in Baghdad, who notes that despite the supposed "progress" made against Al Qaeda, there have been just as many terrorist operations in the last 12 months as in the 12 months before that. "The notion of a bin Laden chain of command has been superseded by a sort of McDonald's of terrorism, franchise cells and groups that want to be like al-Qaeda, carrying a torch for the man in the cave without ever receiving direct orders." Which gives the lie to the administration's claim that the world is a safer place these days. Just as closing a single McDonalds, or even all the McDonalds in a whole state, isn't going to knock the chain out of business, all the major, Iraq-style military operations in the world aren't going to make one damn dent in a decentralized Al Qaeda.

--The story of how weapons of mass destruction have been found, but in Texas. The vast underreporting of this tale of homegrown terrorism is a scandal. One reason the administration isn't making a big deal of it is that these terrorists are right-wing white-power nuts, some of whose beliefs are uncomfortably close to Republican talking points.

--The story of a bill pending in Congress that would allow the federal government to fund international study centers at colleges and universities. Along with the power to establish such centers, the commission establishing the centers would also be empowered to cut the funding for colleges and universities that teach anything deemed offensive to Israel. It sounds loony, and I suspect that there's more to it than the article linked above deals with. But if the gist of the article is accurate, "loony" is the only word that fits.

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