From one of my should-be-daily morning reads, the News Dissector Web Log:
Even a few days in Europe offers a refreshing break from US uni-dimensional news. In Paris, capital of the new enemy, the newstands on Sunday overflowed with front page accounts of the largest protests for peace in history. (In contrast I saw almost no coverage in Newsweek and one photo in Time. If you were conspiratorial, you would think that the American media has downplayed the protests in most, but not all media outlets.[. . .] It is no wonder then that many are turning against US policy and the US media. Edward Said puts it in personal terms in his most recent essay: "It has finally become intolerable to listen to or look at news in this country. I've told myself over and over again that one ought to leaf through the daily papers and turn on the TV for the national news every evening, just to find out what `the country' is thinking and planning, but patience and masochism have their limits."
Which quote sent me on a Google News search for Edward Said, which brought up among other things this piece from the Palestine Chronicle - A Monument to Hypocrisy:
The US has clearly decided on war: there seem to be no two ways about it. Yet whether the war will actually take place or not (given all the activity started, not by the Arab states who, as usual, seem to dither and be paralysed at the same time, but by France, Russia and Germany) is something else again. Nevertheless to have transported 200,000 troops to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, leaving aside smaller deployments in Jordan, Turkey and Israel can mean only one thing.
Second, the planners of this war, as Ralph Nader has forcefully said, are chicken hawks, that is, hawks who are too cowardly to do any fighting themselves. Wolfowitz, Perle, Bush, Cheney and others of that entirely civilian group were to a man in strong favour of the Vietnam War, yet each of them got a deferment based on privilege, and therefore never fought or so much as even served in the armed forces. Their belligerence is therefore morally repugnant and, in the literal sense, anti-democratic in the extreme. What this unrepresentative cabal seeks in a war with Iraq has nothing to do with actual military considerations. Iraq, whatever the disgusting qualities of its deplorable regime, is simply not an imminent and credible threat to neighbours like Turkey, or Israel, or even Jordan (each of which could easily handle it militarily) or certainly to the US. Any argument to the contrary is simply a preposterous, entirely frivolous proposition.
For more on that "dither[ing]" by the Arab states, see Robert Fisk's Arab Response to War at Znet:
President Mubarak of Egypt has made it all too clear there is little he can do to rein in President Bush. King Abdullah of Jordan has said there is almost "nothing" the Arabs can do to avert war. Which means Arabs ask, more and more, what their leaders are for. The presidents and kings of the Arab world agree with their people, it seems, but do not wish them to express the views they themselves hold.
Luckily, we can easily discount the comments of Said and Fisk, especially since the latter's name is synonymous with. . . ok, I'm not sure why the warbloggers have such a hate-on for the man. Said, he's published in the Palestine Chronicle, and described by Alex Safian in NPR's Second Intifada as a "noted Palestinian propagandist-academic." I'm obviously tempted to search Google News for a description of a "American propagandist-academic," but have the odd feeling that the results wouldn't be particularly illuminating.
That, and from the reaction of the warbloggers to me, I get the feeling they're more bothered by Said's ethnicity than his politics. I'd call them a lot of racist assholes, but the point seems obvious to everyone but them.
And they can't be reasoned with -- their answer to Iraq possessing/producing Weapons of Mass Destruction is to rain Weapons of Mass Destruction over the countryside, apparently indiscriminately judging from the signs of the counterdemonstrators I saw at the march/rally on Saturday -- so why bother trying?
Oh, what the hell. Bonus round: A Nation Divided, With No Bridges Left To Build, also by Robert Fisk, also at Znet:
Then it happened. Cameraman number two came striding towards us through the studio lights. "I want to thank you, sir, for reminding us that the British had a lot to do with the chaos in the Middle East, " he said. "But I have something else to say."
His voice rose 10 decibels, his bare arms bouncing up and down at his sides, his shaven head struck forward pugnaciously. "Yeah, I wanna tell you that the cause of this problem is the fucking medieval Arabs and their wish to enslave us all and I tell you that it is because we want to save the Jews from the fucking savage Arabs who want to throw them into the sea that we are about to fuck Saddam." There was a pause as Don Darling looked at the man, aghast. "And that," cameraman number two concluded, "is the fucking truth."
And that, I conclude, is the fucking warblogger mindset.
The absolute conviction that they hold a monopoly on truth, blended with an unhealthy serving of racism and xenophobia. Basically, the same as the fundamentalists on the other side. I still say the lot of 'em should go somewhere far away from the majority of humanity and fight it out with pointy sticks instead of using the rest of us as targets or soldiers in their little dispute, but they apparently prefer to avoid getting their own hands dirty. . .
Final round, from the same piece (although you should have a look at the discussion of the failure of the American Left to "perform outreach" or what have you to those outside academia):
Black Americans, for example, are uninhibited in their sympathy for Palestinians under occupation. But when I told a lecturer in Austin that I had asked hotel staff and air crews to turn up to my lectures on the Middle East and America and that all had come I was treated with a kind of weird amazement, puzzlement that I should bother to ask such unpromising material to think about the Arab-Israel conflict mixed with faint pity that I should ever expect them to understand.
Still, I prefer the occasionally patronizing attitude of the left to the outright hostility of the, um, right. But that's just me.