That Dreaded T Word
New York Times correspondent Michael Slackman is convinced he’s figured out the real problem in the Middle East, and pleads with the Obama administration to stop saying the ‘T’ word: Memo From Cairo - Disentangling Layers of a Loaded Term in Search of a Thread of Peace - NYTimes.com.
The perception gap, which grew wider when President George W. Bush declared his war on terror in 2001, was blown even further apart in Gaza, when most Arabs came away certain who the real terrorists were.
“Public opinion views what happened in Gaza as a kind of terrorism,” said Muhammad Shaker, a former Egyptian ambassador to Britain. “And on the other side, they see Hamas and other such organizations as groups who are trying to liberate their countries.”
Many here said they saw little distinction between Hamas’s shooting rockets into civilian areas of Israel and Israel’s shooting rockets into civilian areas of Gaza, even if Hamas militants were operating there or just hiding out.
His argument boils down to this: in order to achieve peace with people who lack clarity about the difference between firing missiles at random into a civilian population and using force to stop the firing of random missiles into a civilian population, it’s necessary for us to assume the ultimate relativist position—that murderers exist on the same moral plane as their victims. Abandon all principles, ye who enter here.
But the next question is: suppose we surrendered to the idea that there’s no real difference between terrorists and their victims, and erased the dreaded word from our diplomatic lexicon. Is that going to stop the firing of random morally relative missiles into the civilian population?
When you’re a New York Times correspondent, the solution to every problem looks like a word.
Eric Trager asks: Does foreign policy analysis get any lazier than this?
Perhaps in the future he could go through the Arab world where Holocaust denial is prevalent and make the case that what really happened to the Jews is a matter of debate.