August 26, 2006


With the recent escalation of terror, death and hatred in the Middle East—and the continued vitriol spewed between pundits, politicians and bloggers here in North America—I decided to gather all of my thoughts, all I'd read, all my heart, and put it into an essay that didn't sound Left Wing.

It turns out it's impossible.

If one actually writes down the details of a current event, gives it some historical context, touches on the actual inner workings of foreign policy including the facts as they are recorded even in mainstream journals, the resulting piece will sound Left Wing.

Here's me giving it a shot (leaving out most of the aforementioned):

"Nearly everything, it seems, that the American Government has done in terms of Iraq has been a disaster—a disaster for the US domestically, economically (except for a small cadre of Presidential advisors and business associates), world opinion, a disaster for the Iraqi civilians and a disaster for shrinking the number of terrorist nut-cases.

The Iraq invasion was based on flimsy evidence, and the occupation seems to be leading to the formation of a misogynist, intolerant Shiite majority. By most accounts, this Shiite power base in Iraq will link with the same group in both Iran and Saudi Arabia.

This is the last thing the American Foreign Policy planners want. It is a disaster for access to Middle Eastern resources, a disaster for democracy and a disaster for keeping power over the area. Moreover, it seems the Chinese are right there to jump in and make deals for the oil, if the Americans pull out."

See? Even in my disdain and fear of Jew-hating Islamic fanatics and my ache over the disgusting treatment of women by Islamo-fascists—to steal a phrase from no less than George Bush—by writing down a few facts of American foreign policy, I sound like an apologist.

That, my friends, is curious.

Worse, a Left-Winger in denial of his own Marxist-Leninist roots.

That's a lie. I've never found the Marx brothers particularly funny and John Lenin, by taking acid, took the pop out of the Beatles. If that's not enough, Ché Guevera T-shirts make me want to puke.

They really do, even if Paul Farmer, an American hero, reads him.

In the end, it seems to me there are no answers to these problems in the Middle East, and no cure for the human condition.

My cure is to remember, ultimately, that condition is not my truest nature, and the situation here can only be shifted on an ever-sliding scale, either towards freedom and love or away from it.

One way is to continue the war efforts, which are increasingly disastrous; another way is to get in a conversation with those aggrieved parties—even if they are terrorists.

That's right. That's what I said. And that's where the shrieks of Marxist-Leninist Islamo-fascist apologist! (which is a bit of a tongue-twister) begin.

But why? Who are we trying to fool, other then ourselves? In varying degrees we've been dealing with terrorists forever, and been involved in terrorism forever: bombings, coup d'états, paramilitary assassinations, invasions, torture, chemical warfare, drug trafficking, slave trafficking, genocide, and maybe even some things not entirely tied to hatred and misery—and you can't tell me it was all for democracy.

ter-ror-ism n

violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping and assassination, carried out for political purposes

This does not mean be in negotiations. It does not mean succumb to the wishes of terrorists. It does not mean utterly abandon the "War on Terror" that has killed and imprisoned a significant number of the best-known terrorists. It means get your smartest, most philosophical advisors who are given the most respect in the Arab world and send them to the Middle East—and truly engage in conversation with leaders of the "Axis of Evil" and its subsidiaries.

Hear grievances and make grievances known. Turn the vitriol down.

Broadcast the conversations on international television. Open up the channels of communication for the world to see not only what is happening, but for citizens to see each other. Isn't it time?

Take Noam Chomsky there if you have to—he and Rumsfeld and Cheney on a plane. If they can get along at all, there may yet be some hope for the Middle East and deeper understanding.

By the way, did you ever notice how similar Cheney sounds to Ché?

Take along anybody who will listen to the grievances, who understands them. Have the Arab leaders listen. If this accounts to nothing, then so be it. And "so be it" may mean an escalation of war—worse than any of us can imagine—but in the meantime fight for having constant, courageous, creative dialogue.

All else is increasing escalations of hell—with the citizenry, as always, paying the price.

Let us begin here, in North America, for it is my prejudice that it has to begin here.

Let us begin here, for the love of God, for the love of children, for the love of seeing the irony that if differing ideologies in a democracy cannot engage in listening to each other in a beautiful way, we really are doomed; let us begin to talk amongst ourselves, let us begin to remember the unrelenting persistence of the human condition everywhere.

Smile at your Left Wing neighbour. Hug your Right Wing co-worker. Picture with love the faces of those you don't know.

It really is time.



copyright 2006 Pete McCormack