First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
Bold Moves That Just Might Work
There was nothing "correct" that either Ariel Sharon or George W. Bush could do about the Palestinian situation.
Prime Minister Sharon seemed to be backed into a corner. Having sent a punitive expedition to strike at the terrorist apparatus, when he discovered that the Palestinians were still grimly determined to commit mass murder against Israelis, what was left for him to do? Commit retaliatory mass murders?
Even if the Israelis had the stomach for it (and thank God they don't), it wouldn't work, because the world media, anti-semitic and politically correct as it is, would savagely condemn Israel and keep up a constant outcry, whereas they treat Palestinian mass murders as something between weather, which no one can do anything about, and understandable rage, provoked by their tragic plight.
And President Bush was backed into a corner of his own. To prosecute our war against terrorism, he had determined to invade Iraq and end Saddam's reign of corruption and terror in order to keep his weapons out of the hands of terrorists who would use them against Americans.
But he couldn't invade Iraq without launching the attack from nearby nations: Kuwait, Qatar, and, most important, Saudi Arabia, at least as a staging area.
Such an invasion would be very hard to launch from ships, and forces landed on the narrow Iraqi coastline would be relatively easy to cut to ribbons. We can count on a certain amount of incompetence from Saddam's military, but we can't plan on miraculous levels of ineptitude.
So when Sharon's expedition into the West Bank made it politically impossible for Arab coalition members to support the American war against Iraq without risking losing power in their own countries, President Bush was forced to sit and wait.
Now both of them have taken bold actions that have a decent chance of success -- which is more than can be said for all the alternative plans I've heard (or that I've thought of myself).
Sharon had withdrawn most of his forces from the West Bank, under American pressure. But when terrorism continued, with more mass murders committed against Israeli civilians, he took the only action that made sense.
In fact, it's an action that Israel has been legally entitled to do for several years now.
It was the Oslo accords that brought the Palestinian Authority into existence. But Palestinian self-government was always contingent on their keeping control of their own people and not engaging in acts of war and savagery against Israel.
If Sharon's expedition into the West Bank did nothing else, it captured documents that proved beyond any rational doubt that the terrorism was not going on in spite of Yasser Arafat's heroic efforts to control it, but quite the contrary: He and the Palestinian Authority were sponsoring and supplying the terrorists.
In other words, the Palestinian Authority had not only failed to live up to any of its treaty obligations, it was actively waging war against Israel.
The Oslo Accords are about as meaningful now as the Versailles Treaty or the Missouri Compromise. They no longer have any meaning, and Israel has no obligations whatsoever under that framework, for it was the other side that ignored and finally destroyed it.
So when, after the expedition (which was conducted so carefully to avoid civilian casualties that far more Israeli soldiers were killed than should have been), the Palestinians proved they were determined to slaughter innocent Israeli civilians, Sharon simply declared the Palestinian Authority to have no more authority, and he restored military rule and occupation on the West Bank.
Now, this is not at all what the Israeli people wanted. Most Israelis dislike occupying the West Bank, and they wanted very much for a peaceful Palestinian state to exist as their neighbor.
But they can't ignore it when that neighbor, instead of being peaceful, keeps sending kamikaze pedestrians to murder Israeli children and other civilians.
Since no such crime has ever been committed against the Palestinians, this campaign of mass murder is an outrageous, unprovoked war crime, and if the world press were not so viciously anti-semitic they would report it as such.
But within Israel they understand exactly what Arafat is and what his government wants to do to them. So they abolished that government, which was completely within their legal rights.
At almost the same time, President Bush unveiled his own peace plan, which of course has been badly misrepresented in the American press, but which is as simple as can be.
The Palestinians are not entitled to have self-government as long as their government engages in mass murder and unprovoked attacks against their neighbors. No nation is.
So President Bush outlined a plan for Palestinian statehood -- but he made it contingent upon the Palestinian people democratically electing a government that is committed to abolishing mass murder as an instrument of international relations.
And to make things very simple, he said that as long as Yasser Arafat remains the ruler of Palestine, we would not recognize a Palestinian state.
Of course the press portrayed this as an attempt by America to abolish democracy in Palestine. After all, Arafat was elected.
Never mind that Arafat's thugs are experts at terrifying anyone who might want to start a rival political party. Democracy is a joke in Palestine -- but even with absolutely free elections, there is no doubt that if an election were held today, Palestinians would elect Arafat by an overwhelming majority.
Why? Are most Palestinians mass murderers at heart?
No. In fact, almost all of them understand that terrible crimes are being committed in their name. But that is why it is all the more important for them to be defiant and keep proclaiming the lie that somehow Israel deserves this treatment.
To vote for anyone but Arafat would be a confession that Herod's -- er, pardon me, Arafat's -- policy of slaughtering innocents was a terrible sin.
And if there's one thing that Muslim culture seems unable to produce, it is the sentence, "I was wrong, I'm so sorry, I will never do it again."
Arafat can't say it, and his people can't say it, either, by refusing to reelect him.
So what will the U.S. do then?
It's quite simple. President Bush will say, "We are sorry that the Palestinian people continue to elect a government which is committed to mass murder against its neighbor. We will not recognize this government in any way, and will continue to recognize Israel's right to defend itself against this terrorist conspiracy headed by Yasser Arafat."
There will be no more obscene pictures of the U.S. President shaking hands with a man who has embraced murder as an instrument of politics. Arafat has been named for what he was.
And when the Palestinian people finally decide to join the civilized world and stop murdering babies in neighboring countries, they can show that intention by electing somebody else as their leader. Then the U.S. is committed to recognizing their statehood and helping them recover from years of occupation followed by bad government and pointless, evil warfare.
Has anybody noticed that the "comic" branch of the American media has declared open season on President Bush again?
Yep. The "dumb" jokes are back.
Never mind that, unlike his rival in the presidential election, Bush actually completed a graduate program and administered not only a business but also a state generally regarded as nearly ungovernable, showing he must have some brains.
Our comedians decided it was funny to call Bush "dumb" and it's been just about killing them since 9/11 that they had to stop.
This is ironic, when you consider just how not-very-bright Leno and Letterman have proven themselves to be over the years.
Whenever either one of them tries to talk about politics and government, it's obvious they were cracking jokes all through social studies and history classes, since they clearly don't have even a rudimentary understanding of what government does or how it works.
But, politically obtuse as they are, they have jointly inherited Johnny Carson's role in American politics. They can't make a candidate, but they can break one -- as Carson proved when his relentless tagging of Jerry Brown as "Governor Moonbeam" made him a joke in national politics.
Do they really think Bush is dumb?
Yes, they do.
And do you know why?
Because these days American intellectuals don't judge intelligence by such standards as reasoning ability or knowledge or wisdom or understanding.
No, American intellectuals judge intelligence only by checking to see if a person has all the correct opinions.
That's why we have so many laughably stupid commentators saying astonishingly self-contradictory (and self-revelatory) things on TV and in op-ed pieces. That's why so many news articles are openly slanted even as the writers and editors look baffled and don't understand what you're talking about when you point it out.
You see, they are really really dumb. But they think they're smart, because they have all the right opinions. And they think Bush is dumb, because he doesn't have all those opinions. And because they are so dumb, they are incapable of analyzing what Bush has actually said and done and seeing that he's actually really smart.
At least he's smart enough to know what he doesn't know, and to surround himself with people who do know it.
That's something you'll never see Letterman or Leno doing. No, they'll just go on calling "dumb" a president who has both the courage and the wit to do what it takes to protect the American people from the great dangers that face us right now.
So whenever Letterman or Leno cracks a joke about how dumb Bush is, I'm afraid I don't laugh. I find myself filled with contempt for these men, because they have a position of great influence and they are using it to slander a man who is worth ten of them on his worst day.
Copyright © 2002 by Orson Scott Card.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.