Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carter's Dyslexia

This is a sharp article, especially the first half, about the cognitive dissonance in Carter's thinking:

Former President Jimmy Carter has an interesting way of saying more than he intends. He lusts in his heart. He turns to his 13-year-old daughter for foreign policy wisdom. He titles a book, "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid." What Mr. Carter means to say is that he is a flesh-and-blood human being, a caring father, a missionary for peace. What he actually communicates is that he is weirdly libidinal, scarily naive and obsessively hostile to Israel.

.... "In a democracy, I realize you don't need to talk to the top leader to know how the country feels," he said over the weekend, responding to a question from an Israeli journalist who noted that Mr. Carter had been snubbed by most of Israel's top leadership and reprimanded by its president, Shimon Peres. "When I go to a dictatorship, I only have to talk to one person and that's the dictator, because he speaks for all the people."

... ponder what he could possibly have meant by this statement. On a charitable view, what Mr. Carter had in mind is that in a democracy it is the people who ultimately make the policy, whereas in a dictatorship it is only the dictator's opinion that counts. Or as W.H. Auden put it, "Only the man behind the rifle [has] free will."

That's not quite what Mr. Carter said, however. He said the dictator "speaks" for "all" the people, just as the people in a democracy speak for themselves. Taken at face value, this is a reflection of every dictator's conceit: that his will is also the general will, whether the people agree with him or not...

Yet ...a dictator speaks for none of the people. A dictator speaks only for himself, while "the people" are transformed, through force and fear, into an abstraction, an instrument, a rhetorical trope. .... it is only in a democracy where the government can morally and lawfully be said to speak for the people, since it was morally and lawfully chosen by the people to speak for them. Which means that Mr. Carter has matters precisely backwards: It is in democracies such as Israel where the views of the leadership matter most, and in dictatorships such as Syria where they matter least.

....Hamas... fairly won a parliamentary election... nobody elected Mr. Mashal to his position... ...Hamas has never accepted the Oslo Accords that are the legal basis of the Authority they seek to govern, much like other totalitarian parties of yore that participated opportunistically in a democratic process – cf. Weimar Republic. They do not seek an entente with the Jewish state but its elimination. In meeting with a former U.S. president, they seek to burnish their reputations as legitimate Mideast players, not outlaws. Perhaps Mr. Carter knows this, or perhaps he doesn't. Whichever the case, his actions bespeak more than he intends.

Israelicool's Elder of Ziyon adds:

...Egyptian officials invited Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah to visit Cairo to meet Jimmy Carter but Shalah refused...

It would appear that Carter initiated this request to meet with the arch-terrorist. All of the reasons that Carter uses to justify meeting with Hamas - that Hamas has supposedly offered a truce, for example, or that most attacks are not initiated by Hamas - do not apply to Islamic Jihad, yet Carter apparently wants to give legitimacy to Islamic Jihad terrorists anyway.

It becomes increasingly impossible not to suspect that Jimmy C. is motivated by anything but a malign will towards Israel. However, seeing as he is an old man, some allowance must be made. Given his great age, it would be too unkind, and patently unfair, to pay too much attention to the rationality of his actions or his innermost intentions. Lisa Goldberg's article, here, reports about the good-manners of Israelis in this respect:

"The visit of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and author of Peace, Not Apartheid, to Israel and the Palestinian territories was simply a non-story here. Even the evening news gave the visit only a fleeting mention, with 40-seconds of footage, accompanied by toneless voice-over narration, toward the end of the broadcast.

My feeling is that the media’s lack of interest in the story is a reflection of the Israeli public’s apathy toward ... self-appointed private-initiative peace makers with dubious credentials specifically."

I assume that due to Israel's delicacy of mind, Carter's age problem was thus euphemized to the more politically-correct "dubious credentials".


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