Early on in his administration, George W. Bush decided not to focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Did the president consider the problem too difficult to solve? No, that wasn’t quite it. Too much of a domestic hot potato? Wrong again.
There is a deep affinity between the United States and Israel. I’m not talking about the Israel Lobby, which concentrates its influence in Washington. Or the connections between neoconservatives and the Israeli right wing. Or the rhapsodizing of fundamentalist Christians, who embrace Israel as part of their scenario for the Apocalypse.
If Secretary of State Clinton does nothing except push costly military solutions, then her cabinet appointment may turn out to be Obama’s biggest “d’oh!” so far.
In Poland, in the first years after the fall of communism, the architects of its “shock therapy” economic reforms often compared their program to cutting the tail off a cat. If, for some reason, you were given the assignment of removing the unfortunate creature’s tail with an ax, it was best that you did it with one chop.
In the fervency of these Lennon-lovers, who could tell their own stories of loss, I heard that same bittersweet balance found in Huong’s art or the drawings from Laos, a balance between the memory of tragedy and the desire to move forward, a balance between truth and reconciliation.
After the attacks in Mumbai last week, should the United States bomb suspected terrorist cells in India? Send the Marines to Kashmir where one of the suspected groups behind the attacks — Lashkar-e-Taiba — originates? Or initiate regime change in Pakistan, which has provided support for several terrorist outfits operating in South Asia?
Do appointments shape their office or does the office shape the appointment? Imagine what would happen if, improbably, President-elect Barack Obama appointed Dennis Kucinich to head the Pentagon. If he tried to implement any of his excellent plans for demilitarizing the United States, Kucinich would encounter enormous pushback, non-compliance, outright insubordination. To get anything done, even as the head of this powerful institution, Kucinich would have to play by the rules.
The 190-odd countries in the world, roped together in various-sized groups, are groping their way toward the top of this mountain. The summit — and now you know why they are called “economic summits” — is shrouded in mist. The mountaintop has a most annoying habit of appearing to retreat into thin air the higher we climb.
After suffering through an abusive relationship, many people will fall in love “on the rebound.” They finally escape the clutches of an ogre only to jump, often without looking, into the embrace of another person, any other person. This leap of love is sometimes a lucky one, sometimes not.
The United States, so obsessed with policing its own borders, shows precious little concern for those of other countries. When it comes to waging war, the Pentagon is like a little kid with crayons and a coloring book. It has great difficulty staying within the lines.