December 04, 2007

Textbook Madness

Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, according to that plumb definition, we’ve happened upon a prime example of insanity—in the letters to the editor section of The New York Times of all places.

We know, we know, we know: The New York Times? How can that offer a prime exemplum of madness? Especially the letters to the editor section, which is normally chock-a-block with carefully grounded sanity?

Well, somehow it happened, dear reader. We can’t explain it either.

Don’t believe us? You don’t have to, since we’ve taken the liberty of reproducing this fine missive to the editor below:

To the Editor:

Re “Israel and Palestinians Set Goal of a Treaty in 2008” (front page, Nov. 28):

Imagine what might have happened if, after the attacks of Sept. 11, President Bush had dedicated his administration to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the vigor he is displaying now.

Imagine if he had recognized then, as he appears to now, that a peaceful settlement of that dispute, more than any issue, is essential to stamping out the root causes of Al Qaeda and the forces of extremism.

Imagine if, rather than invading Iraq, he had only gone after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and departed after eliminating it as a threat.

Seven years after mocking President Clinton’s “nation building” and peace efforts, President Bush has pushed aside the protests of his vice president, and is perhaps sheepishly beginning to throw himself into these efforts.

With luck, perhaps it’s not too late for President Bush and the world to build something from the ashes of his failed policies.

Philip M. Berkowitz
New York, Nov. 28, 2007

Can you spot the insanity, dear reader? Never mind the obvious tendentiousness of the letter. Only monocausal loons of the Michael Scheuer variety believe that Israel is the key issue driving Islamist terrorism. If so, what compelled the jihadis to wage war against the Russians, who were by then no friends of the Jewish state?

All one must do is read the speeches of Osama bin Laden to recognize that Israel is not his only whipping boy. The man yearns for an Islamic caliphate, sharia law, theocracy. Only a boob would think that an equitable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would stop al Qaeda in its tracks.

Furthermore, to bin Laden and his ilk, an “equitable solution” would be the utter annihilation of Israel. Anything short of this wouldn’t appease the Islamist nutters. (That we ought to be appeasing folks who engage in brazen acts of anti-American terrorism is yet another problematic assertion, but we can leave that to one side.)

According to the genius of Philip M. Berkowitz, George Bush should have done what Bill Clinton did regarding the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and everything would be hunky dory. And herein lies the insanity: If we recall our history correctly, President Clinton’s attempt was a big fat failure.

And it was a big fat failure for the same reason it would be a big fat failure today: Only one side—the Israeli side—actually wants peace. The other still pines for the destruction of its enemies. A quick examination of will ably demonstrate that.

So, Philip M. Berkowitz wants President Bush to do the same thing over again, and expect different results. If you ask us, that “M” from his middle name must stand for madness.

Posted at December 4, 2007 12:01 AM | TrackBack