YES!

One of my summer resolutions this year was to read all the opinion columns in the New York Times, 5 days a week.  I’m not sure why I made this promise – I don’t typically think of myself as being particularly masochistic – but I did, and so far have lived up to it.  I wish I could say it made me a better person, but really, for the most part, it just made me an unhappier, angrier person.

Already, just this week, we’ve been subjected to the unpleasantness of Tom Friedman trying to coin a new word, “McBama”, for the strategy in Iraq consisting of

stick to a clear withdrawal timetable because post-surge Iraqi and American politics will tolerate nothing else — but leave yourself some wiggle room if things keep getting better, but not exactly on schedule.

Ummm, Tom?  No need to coin a new phrase here.  That, what you wrote right there, that’s the Barack Obama plan for getting out of Iraq.  If everything turns to shit, or it becomes obvious that 18 months is a better number than 16, do you really think that he is so inflexibly tied to the magic 16 month number that any alterations will be impossible?

It’s a shame, because Friedman is, or at least used to be, capable of writing some really insightful and informative stuff.  I don’t feel like I’ve read much that fit the bill in the last presidential administration or so.

Next, we have David Brooks, making the remarkably insightful point that borrowers, lenders, and the freewheeling culture of of ‘borrow more to spend more’ all share the responsibility for the mortgage crisis that America is in the throes of right now.  Amazing!

And don’t even get me started on Bill Kristol’s screed implying that anyone who disagrees with him on foreign policy thinks that “we can somehow avoid confronting the terrorists and jihadists, and those who support them.”

But, finally! today we have a good, logical column from Nick Kristof about the current state of affairs in Israel’s West Bank.  Not necessarily anything groundbreaking or new, but at least it’s reasonable and sensible.

To withdraw from the West Bank without a partner on the Palestinian side will find Israel in the same fix it has once it withdrew from Gaza: a rain of daily rockets. Yes, the security barrier causes hardship, but terrorist attacks have almost disappeared. That means my kids can ride the bus, go to unguarded restaurants and not worry about being blown up on their way to school. Find another way to keep my kids safe, and I’ll happily tear down the barrier. (Laura)

This is the argument that I have the most trouble countering. Laura has a point: The barrier and checkpoints have reduced terrorism. But as presently implemented, they — and the settlements — also reduce the prospect of a long-term peace agreement that is the best hope for Laura’s children.

Really, all I can say is “YES!”  It’s really heartening to see the acknowledgment that short-term and long-term security interests often diverge, especially in particularly stressful or tense situations.  The wall has done a great job of reducing violence.  Another thing it’s done very well is ensure its need for the foreseeable future, as you’re making sure to raise yet another generation of Palestinian kids who hate Israel and all that she stands for.

Like most questions of real interest, there’s not a clear solution here, but acknowledgment of the actual issues at hand is a really good start to the process…

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