:: Thursday, December 04, 2003 ::
:: Tuesday, December 02, 2003 ::
I have some agreements and disagreements with Ari Shavit's take. He's certainly right to emphasize that no matter what set of principles emerge from this or that discussion regarding a final-status agreement, it doesn't make any difference as long as the Palestinian leadership is a completely untrustworthy partner, which it clearly will be at least as long as Arafat has anything to do with it.
A dissenting thought to this passage:
Since it now offers the Palestinians much more than was offered to them before they initiated the terror offensive against Israel, it rewards them for their aggression. It teaches them that there is practically no limit to the concessions that can be extracted from Israel through the prolonged use of force. Therefore, it basically determines that the Palestinians won the war. A Palestinian victory will not bring peace. A Palestinian victory means that at the first opportunity, the simulated peace will crumble, and the war will be renewed.Let me just stick to the border issue here, since I think it makes the point even without bringing in Jerusalem, refugees, and everything else. People on all sides of the discussions at Camp David in July 2000 agree that the equivalent of 92% of the West Bank was on the table, 91% of it plus another 1% of pre-'67 Israel in a land swap. Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan is on record here, from July 2002--note that while he obviously thinks that it wasn't a good enough offer ("It was not like what they later claimed--that a magnificent offer was presented"), he doesn't dispute the numbers ("it was only 92 percent"). So that leaves 6%, 7%, at most 8% percent of the land, including parts of pre-'67 Israel in land swaps, still available.
Now, did the Palestinians really rembark on the intifada because they wanted to extract that extra few percentage points of land? The idea that further concessions will "reward terrorism" basically assumes that the Palestinians are fighting with the goal of extracting more concessions in mind. But if that's true, then why didn't they already take what was offered to them before, and just lay the groundwork for further warfare in the future? If their plan all along has been to take whatever concessions they can get but then renew the war at the first opportunity, then why the hell did they turn down more than 90% of the West Bank when they had the chance to take it? Shavit's scenario barely makes sense on its own terms. Arafat and company were more afraid of the pressue of having to live up to a final agreement than anything else. Otherwise, they would have done almost exactly what Shavit predicts they'll do in the future, back when they were faced with that scenario in the summer of 2000. If there's no trustworthy partner, as is the case now, and you assume that they're going to renege on any agreement in the future, then you wouldn't be negotiating with them in the first place. But if you believe that you have a credible partner to work with who can be trusted to make an agreement stick, then you try to reach an agreement that you can live with, regardless of what was or wasn't offered before.
The hypocrisy's the thing
:: Sunday, November 30, 2003 ::
With lots of people linking to this Time magazine article about the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, I just want to emphasize something I've mentioned before in some previous posts. Aside from the total disregard for any sort of legal principles that we usually value, like the right to a defense counsel and the right to an actual trial on specific charges (with the possibility of actually being released if you're not convicted), a major problem here is the sheer hypocrisy of how we're dealing with the rest of the world on this, seeing as how the inmates come from more than 3 dozen different countries.
Now, I'm willing to agree that normal public trials in civilian courts might compromise national security, so some sort of military tribunals make sense. Also, the various Geneva Conventions weren't created with these sorts of non-state-associated combatants in mind, so those traditional guidelines for POWs might not be precisely the best thing to follow either. No real problem so far. However, when we refuse to set forth any guidelines for how the inmates will be tried/processed, and when we refuse to negotiate any sort of collective international framework for dealing with this sort of thing (maybe an update to the various Geneva Conventions?), that's a serious problem. When you combine it with freaking out about any sort of situation where someone, somewhere, might theoretically do something that's bad for the US--like the administration's cutting of military aid to various countries who refuse to sign a bilateral agreement giving blanket immunity to all US personnel from jurisdiction under the International Criminal Court--we come out looking like serious hypocrites. Everyone out there is out to get us, and no one can be trusted, so we shred any agreement that might conceivably result in something bad for the US--but when it comes to Guantanamo Bay, hey, just trust us, we don't need to play by any rules. It's ridiculous.
It's that time of the year again
Kentucky basketball is back! I had the rare opportunity of actually attending a game on Friday night, which was a 108-81 victory over early-season cannon fodder Tennessee Tech (who actually played quite well). A family friend got a couple of tickets from someone he knows, and these were fantastic seats, right at midcourt on one of the lowest levels. There's basically no chance that I'll ever have tickets that good to a UK basketball game again, as even the ones at the top of the arena are all but impossible to get unless you know someone who has them and isn't using them (or unless you get scalped ones outside the arena just before the game).