17 December 2003

Israel News : Jerusalem Post Internet Edition: "a fetish of the concept of legitimacy"
Bingo! What a great phrase uttered by Bret Stephens writing in the Jerusalem Post about "Goodism".
Many "good" people actually believed that securing Security Council approval was morally a worthier goal than liberating 23 million people from the boot of a merciless tyrant. Or take the matter of Israel's security fence: Here again, it is left to Right-wingers to fret about militarily defensible borders, whereas to Goodists what matters is whether that fence meets with the approval of The Hague.
Stephens is expressing something that has been in my awareness but unarticulated. In my own life, I used to worry endlessly about being perfectly, glatt fair -- and ended up unable to defend myself from abuse. So I finally decided that in life one must take risks, including the risk of being unfair. And I apologize when I do wrong and I don't beat myself up over it after I've made it right. Could the Goodists do that? Or are they enthralled by whatever it is that seizes abuse victims, that lurch away from the Badness that is victimizing them which leaves them powerless to end their own victimization?
Goodists fail properly to appreciate the relevance of evil. Why can't Israelis resolve their differences with the Palestinians? Goodists will say it's about competition for scarce resources, such as land and water, or mutually exclusive religious claims and cultural narratives -- explanations that allow them to avoid taking any side but their own.

And yet the problem is simple to the point of being simplistic (to use a term the Goodists scorn). The problem is this: One man set himself the demonic, lifelong task of seizing full control of his people so they might participate in his project of destroying the State of Israel. That is the problem. That is it.

[The Geneva] Accord demonstrates what is possible with sufficient good will. To wit, it shows that if you put two nice men together in a room, they will forego violence for conversation, they will overcome ignorance with compassion, and they will agree a structure for peace in the Middle East.

The goal of responsible global statesmanship is to work toward a world in which men and women of good will are in charge. Goodists believe this can be advanced through high-profile demonstrations of niceness. For the rest of us, however, a world of make-believe isn't enough. Sometimes you have to kill the bad guys.
And the "legitimacy" conferred by the Hague and the (Syrian-led) UN Security Council be damned.