I receive a lot of complaints about my blogroll via email (and complaints about not responding to coments - calm down, Joshua, I'm getting there.) Look, If I dropped you, it's because the blogroll reflects my deliberate intention to change the blogs I read on a regular basis, to sample as much of the blogsphere (in finite amounts!) at a time. The blogroll will stay short and continue to evolve. It's for my benefit, not yours :)
I've recently added Jonathan Edelstein's The Head Heeb - his World Tour series is wonderful reading and a great distraction and context-supplier for the war on Iraq. I was reading his archives (like me, he provides links to his posts by title in the left sidebar. this is a very useful and user-friendly tactic to suck readers in :) and i came across a passage I could have written myself, in a post titled "My middle east views sumarized"
As I see it, there are two ways to be middle-of-the-road about the Middle East. One is to be both anti-Israeli and anti-Palestinian. This is the "plague on both your houses" viewpoint - the Israelis are racist colonial bastards and the Palestinians are medieval savages, and each deserves the other. A person who considers Israel a relic of the nineteenth century and Palestine a relic of the ninth is, in his own way, a moderate.
The other way - and, I think, the harder one - is to be for both sides; to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate aspirations and that both have a great deal to give to the world. It's important, especially now, to recognize that Palestine includes Mahmoud Darwish and Hanan Ashrawi as well as Sheik Ahmed Yassin, and that Israel has produced Amram Mitzna and Amos Oz as well as Michael Kleiner. It's important, also, to recognize that Israel, Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora have shown the capacity to be productive and creative, to examine themselves critically and to evolve as societies - in short, to generate hope. That's my kind of moderation. It isn't always easy, because the Israelis sometimes do act like racist colonial bastards and the Palestinians sometimes do act like medieval savages, but thus far I've kept to it.
Calling myself a militant moderate, though, is only another way of summing up a set of opinions. Those opinions, like any others, are based on fact, and are subject to change as the facts change or as I realize that my version of the facts is wrong. Of course, getting to the facts can itself be a difficult exercise on this particular subject, because history has become so politicized that it is often hard to tell fact from propaganda. (Quick, how many people were killed at Deir Yassin?) I have, over time, developed methods of judging the credibility of sources, determining which commentators are most objective and which historians most rigorous. There's always the possibility, though, that some or all of my factual assumptions might be proven wrong. If so, then the opinions based on those assumptions have to be re-evaluated. Therefore, take anything below with the appropriate amount of salt, and keep in mind that it's all subject to change without notice.
JE goes on to explain how he critically evaluates sources of info and presents his big picture understanding. Unfortunately, he only posted twice to the comment thread on this post, about the catch-22 of the two-state solution (and why I favor a binational state solution). It occurs to me suddenly that advocates of the President's/neocon vision of transforming the Middle East through a long term democratization of iraq shoudl be able to see the value in the binational idea, despite the obvious challenges it woudl face. Steven Den Beste could almost be talking about the binational idea when he writes:
After we win, and during the post-war occupation, I'm concerned about a campaign of terrorism developing (90%). There will still be zealots and extremists there; will we end up going through months or years of occasional suicide bombings all over the nation? How many of our occupation troops will be victims? If it happens too much, with rising intensity, will it start to make our troops suspicious of all Iraqis, and thus make them start to think of us as invaders instead of liberators? Could it totally sour the attempt to reestablish the rule of law and to start to improve life for everyday Iraqis? If it reaches levels approaching that of the Intifada, we're in deep trouble. It's virtually certain that there will be at least some of this; the question is whether it will end up being politically significant.
Let's also be clear - in a democracy, with checks and balances, you CANT "vote someone out of existence". If you think its possible, please demonstrate with a detailed example of how you would go abotut doing it right here in the US.