Ah it doesn't get any richer than this:
Young John Kerry, needing—nay, craving attention, carefully becoming the "winter" soldier, morally caviling against a war that, while stupid, at least was engaged in and pursued out of a valid, uncorrupted concern; to wit, the American interest.
And now we have old John Kerry, mouthing word for word the sorts of memes he so heaped disdain on in the Vietnam situation so as to take us into a war out of a totally invalid, totally corrupted concern; to wit, *other* countries' interests.
Sorta answers the song's question about what war is good for at least for John Kerry: His career! And at least with Nixon and Kissinger they appeared sincere.
I for one am delighted to see this Bacevich piece moving the understanding of how we got where we are closer to the nub of the issue which isn't whether Israel is more or less right than its neighbors but our own national interest.
What Jimmy Carter inaugurated with Camp David was essentially a new, moralistic-based U.S. policy towards the ME, and now we see just where exactly such an idea-rejecting stance gets one. In essence, mired in the sins of damn near everyone on every side of a fight that we have no real interest in whatsoever, and being ruthlessly taken advantage of all those parties to boot so as to try to validate that initial hopeless stance.
Not that Carter was a bad man—manifestly, he isn't—but what this shows is the wages of supporting a leader based not on his smarts but on the perceived purity or goodness of his or her soul or desires.
But then ... even Bacevich somewhat falls into this, lamenting that instead of supplying military equipment per Camp David we should have been supplying ... educational stuff and etc. I.e., yet another of the ridiculous, endless arguments that ... gee, if only we had meddled *differently* things would be just hunky-dory.
It's all so tiresome and stupid: Everyone looking at that photo of Carter so proud holding up the hands of Begin and Sadat and thinking Carter such a great guy. Instead of the guy who—garnering all sorts of boost for his own ego—his just simply staked an incalculable and perhaps endless amount of our blood and treasure into a fight in which we have no vital or even important interest.
That's what you get when you get behind a moral crusader. That's what you get when you move from the idea of your President as just someone to handle the nation's business and leave the moralizing to the pulpits (such as exemplified by Eisenhower, say), and go supporting some Great and Shining White God of Goodness. The latter get the adoration and the Nobel Peace Prizes, we get their results.
"If with all things being equal the Palestinians would turn down a state without Jerusalem, then its doubtful that a state is their goal."
But, we are presumably meant to believe, the precise opposite means nothing negative whatsoever about Israeli/jewish motivations.
I.e., that if, with all things being equal, the Israelis would turn down peace w/o Jerusalem, of *course* this *doesn't* mean that peace isn't really Israel's goal. Of *course* it doesn't. Not even worth mentioning.
So how does that work anyway? For some reason we all just gotta accept that if anyone else does X they have conclusively shown their knavery, whereas if Israel or jews do X of course one must simply accept the innocence and purity of their motives?
Oh that's right, my blood not having earned me that trump card I forgot! That "chosenness" business...
As I've said before, the two fundamental plinths of virtually all the argumentation: The double standard, and the charges of anti-semitism.
I have no good idea of what Mr. Ellis is saying here, and certainly can't see how he could urge us doing or not doing anything thereby, with it seeming to me to be that the good reason he's confounded is what seems to me to be his constricted perspective of these sorts of things.
Pretty clearly that is he seems to feel that "elites" determine everything, and, somewhat contradictorily, when they don't the result will always be better . Somewhat Marxisant in nature then, which is not meant pejoratively, but is ironic.
Ironic because nothing could be clearer than that the Marxist movements led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks and Mao and his friends were hardly elites or even minutely supported by same, and yet they managed to get in power, and the same goes for Hitler for that matter. Likewise and more to the point even Mubarek was clearly a representative of the elites, and yet of course he was overthrown rather easily.
Moreover, one has to go no further than citing Lenin and the Bolsheviks and Mao to note the error in assuming that just because some elite regime falls to this or that populist one the results are invariably or even likely to be better than before. Indeed it may even be the exact opposite. (Perhaps in part at least because elites prefer stability, and stability has some substantial virtues of its own for the common man.)
No wonder Mr. Ellis is adrift then here. His perspective of "what matters" or "what determines" here is just far too constricted. Lots of time in history—and especially so in modern history—the elites have taken it in the ass, and lots of times that has happened the biggest sufferers therefrom have been the common masses.
Pretty clearly one of the big dynamics at work here in Egypt and indeed in the arab/moslem world generally is that it is going through the process of wrestling with modernity, which was and to a degree still is tough enough for our relatively secular Western societies, and is thus is going to be very very difficult for the most Islamic of countries.
Further ironically however our national error in addessing this is somewhat akin to Mr. Ellis' as well, which is that clearly our Administration is viewing the Egyptian situation the same way it is viewing the Syrian one which in turn is looking through a far too narrow perspective by simply asking which "side" or "group" of involved in the uprisings or etc. are best for Israel and which are not.
The clear reality however is that nobody really understand the dynamics of all of what is going on in these countries, much less knows which are determinative. And what's even more opaque is trying to foresee and compare what different results are going to obtain in our pathetic attempts to foresee the possible outcomes. Consequently, and most opaquely of all no one can say with any authority whatsoever how to get X result from taking Y action.
I.e., who knows who is going to "win" and who is going to "lose" and for how long and what is going to be best for "the people" in the long run?
To me at least the clear lesson from all of this is that the last thing we ought to be doing is putting our finger(s) into the mix other perhaps than the strictly and clearly humanitarian. That ... our proper posture ought to be standing as far back as possible and simply extending our hope to the peoples caught up in all this for the least violence and loss of life possible, and sympathy for the troubles they are experiencing, period.
And if you ask me further I'd say that just about the best way to end up with some regime or situation hostile to us is indeed for us to try to put our finger on the scale somewhere because no-one but no-one in the region believes that we do so other than to advance Israel's interest, which is like poisoning anyone we are seen as supporting.