S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Thinking Outside the Borders

Regaining perspective is healthy. This image is a useful metaphor for how difficult it is to understand the Middle East with any semblance of objectivity. We see it as convoluted, beautiful, strangely religious - from a Western perspective, intricate and ancient. Our window to wisdom is blocked by our own ignorance and biases. Today's post focuses on two current side-bar stories from the region, the current Arab Summit meeting and the dim prospect for peace between Israel and Palestine. It ends with a look at an interesting aspect of Al Jazeera, comment threads from readers from all over the world on these and other mid-east news stories.

Arab Summit - The Arab League was established more than 60 years ago. Open Democracy's Yossi Alpher wrote a thorough and thoughtful analysis of the Arab League's "precious opportunity," as they sit down together today for the second day of a conference. It is complete with many links to useful background references. The current meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was also covered in this excellent story from London's Financial Times. It is headlined, "A plea for real unity in the Arab world." To quote from today's story,
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah yesterday opened the Arab League summit in Riyadh with a rare acknowledgment of the miserable state of the Arab world and an emotional cry for Arab unity and independence.
. . . The loss of credibility had invited foreign interventions, he said, blaming the sorry state of the region less on the league as an institution than on the rulers themselves.
The latest on prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace - Al Jazeera's headline sadly reads, "Israel rejects Arab peace plan."
Israeli officials have refused to accept the revived Arab peace initiative as it stands, saying more negotiations are needed.
Shimon Peres, the Israeli deputy prime minister, told Israeli radio on Thursday: "There is only one way to overcome our differences, and that is negotiation." "It's impossible to say: 'you must take what we offer you as is.'"
The plan, endorsed at the Arab League summit on Wednesday, offers Israel full diplomatic relations if it withdraws from all land occupied in 1967, allows the creation of a Palestinian state and the return of Palestinian refugees. Arab states called on "the government of Israel and all Israelis to accept the Arab peace initiative and seize the opportunity to resume the process of direct and serious negotiations on all tracks."
Comments in Al Jazeera discussion threads - in English: "Your Views" -

The United States has not behaved very intelligently towards the region in recent years. That, combined with arrogance and stubborness, has left our foreign policy in shambles. It caused Republicans to lose control of Congress. And the narrow thinking of the current administration continues to block a rational solution to do next with the war in Iraq.
It makes me wonder whether these folks have ever read or listen to any news other than the Fox network. Because I still wonder I made my very first visit to the network's website. Not to my surprise, I discovered their special section, "War on Terror," including two handy-dandy interactives features, Terror Survival Guide and Weapons of Mass Destruction Handbook. I swear it is all right there! Brrrr. . . the fear-mongering just makes me shivver.
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My "creative post" today at Southwest Blogger is about oil.

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