Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Look on the bright side. (Morris Amitay, US)

Look on the Bright Side
By Morris Amitay
February 28, 2006

With all that seems to be going wrong both in the Middle East and here in Washington, doom and gloom should be the order of the day. But I recall that final scene from the Monty Python classic, "The Life of Brian". As they are being literally crucified, the main characters are cheerfully singing, "always look on the bright side of life". With a positive approach, you can see a bright side to what has been going on in Iran, Iraq, Israel, and even with the Hamas takeover and the port ownership and cartoon controversies. Iran President Ahmadinejad's pronouncements have been so over the top in calling for Israel's extermination and by challenging the world to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions, that even the Europeans are beginning to talk tough. If you add to this the increased spotlight on Iran's meddling in Iraq, and the administration's $75 million proposal to aid Iranian dissidents, we may be seeing a more focused U.S. policy toward Iran. In fact, there are even a few U.S. Senators who can now pronounce Ahmadinejad's name properly, which can only mean he is in serious disrepute here. And speaking of the U.S. Congress, there was the 419-1 roll call vote in the House (Neil Abercrombie, Democrat of Hawaii distinctly in the minority), and a unanimous vote in the Senate calling for no U.S. aid to a Hamas-led Palestinian Administration. You can add to this good news the latest Gallup poll showing support for Israel by 68% of Americans. On the negative side, of course, there are still those in the State Department looking for moderates in all the wrong places -- but what else is new? Despite what the New York Times' reporters and columnists would have you believe about Iraq, troop morale there remains high, slow progress is being made in taming the insurgency, and so far, Al-Qaeda's attempt to instigate a full blown civil war have failed. But those "nattering nabobs of negativism" at the Gray Lady seem to grow shriller by the day in their denunciations of the U.S. role and their undisguised hatred of President Bush. While there is ample room for criticism of past conduct of the war, the Times' negative coverage has become boringly predictable. Perhaps the Times could have boosted its reported falling revenues if it had demonstrated the journalistic courage to print some of the Danish cartoons that ostensibly provoked deadly outrage in parts of the Muslim world. But how could one expect this paragon of political correctness to tread upon Muslim sensibilities? The cartoon controversy revealed the double standard that Islamists insist upon. While they can openly denigrate and wage religious war on "infidels" -- i.e. anyone not adhering to their brand of Islam -- any perceived slight or criticism of Islam is met with violent reactions. Sadly, too many who should know better continue to repeat the mantra of Islam as "a religion of peace", despite all the evidence of intolerance to the contrary. The cartoon issue has revealed the depth of this intolerance and had reinforced the validity of Huntington's "class of civilizations" thesis. In Israel, the good news is that terrorist leaders continue to be eliminated as a result of superb Israeli intelligence and pinpoint operations which are taking a toll of some really bad guys, with remarkably few civilian casualties. On the political front, the centrist Kadima party, which many predicted would fragment following the absence of Ariel Sharon, continues to hold a wide lead in the polls over its two major competing parties on both the right and the left. Should this political scenario hold up for the March 28 elections, there is the prospect of the formation of a broad based government and hence greater stability in the Israeli body politic. Such stability will be needed as Israel faces the challenge of confronting a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. Fortunately for Israel, Hamas leaders seem to be more honest in publicly proclaiming their goal of Israel's destruction, than the Fatah thugs they are replacing. This should make it easier for Israel to take stronger measures against those sworn to its destruction. Here at home, the impeding takeover of port operations at a half-dozen major U.S. sites by a UAE-owned company has evoked outrage from a number of Democratic politicians not notable for their support of tougher security measures. This reaction could be seen as recognition by some Democrats that they have a real problem convincing the American public their party is serious about national security. While shameless political grandstanding in Washington is not new to either Democrats or Republicans, attempts to outflank the GOP on the right here, could actually lead to more muscular foreign policy positions being advocated in the future. Another positive development from the port security furor has been the attention given to the UAE's ties to terrorists at the same time it has cooperated with the U.S. Increased competition to prove who can be tougher on the perpetrators and abettors of terrorism can only be regarded as a positive development.

Taken all together then, the events cited above offer some reason for optimism that the glass may indeed be at least half full as a result. Besides, we owe it to ourselves as winter fades to look on the bright side.

Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of israelinsider.

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