IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL
I’m sorry that I didn’t have a chance to author a substantial blog post this weekend. A brief note will have to suffice.
I find myself reflecting sometimes on just how small and petty the concerns of Washington can be. I’m thinking about the old saw that the only thing that matters in American politics is the economy – if it’s doing well, the incumbents will be rewarded; otherwise, they won’t. Supposedly, the political equation is just that simple. When we get a campaign team that really knows what they’re doing, like the one that impelled a young Bill Clinton to the Presidency in 1992, they come with slogans like, “It’s the economy, stupid.” And perhaps they’re right – if all a statesman cares about is getting re-elected, perhaps that is where he should be devoting virtually all of his time and energy. Of course, when you actually think about how a statesman on the federal level can truly serve her nation, becoming expert on a particular area of foreign policy comes immediately to mind.
As I read the newspapers and consider all that is going on today in the Middle East – in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan … (I could keep going, but you get the point) – it almost seems ridiculous to speak about our own economic needs in the same breath as the international issues. What is going on now in these countries could dramatically affect the future of our species. Am I exaggerating? Not when you consider the increasing potency of our weapons of mass destruction and the difficulty of keeping all the possible Middle Eastern genies inside their respective bottles. Clearly, what we need is a formula to usher in peace and prosperity in that region, and I’m not measuring prosperity by the wealth of the ruling class, but rather by the wealth of the middle and working classes. It is their poverty and lack of education that fuels all the violence … that, and the stubborn, ruthless leadership that the Middle Eastern people have so commonly faced over the years.
It would be glib to say that I know how the present events will unfold. Like everyone else, I haven’t a clue. All that I can do is pray for the best and hope that the toppling of tyrants will at least not make the situation worse. But with respect to the one Middle Eastern hotspot in which I have the broadest knowledge base and the longest history of activism – the Israel/Palestinian conflict – there I am hoping for something very specific. I desperately would like to see Netanyahu and Abbas figure out a way to go back to the bargaining table, where they would encounter an Obama and a Clinton who would propose a peace deal and fight like hell to see it implemented.
We absolutely must not squander this opportunity to reach such an agreement. At least let’s give it a try. It’s madness not to.