Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Annapolis allergy.

by Mladen Andrijasevic   

Years ago, when I still read The Economist and listened to the BBC World Service as a foreign student in the USSR, I could never quite get to the bottom of Soviet propaganda. What was its purpose? How could it be that it was so crude, so simplistic, so transparent? Did the authorities really believe that my fellow students who had just been solving partial differential equations one moment would fall for this nonsense the next?

It did not make sense. Until one day a Russian friend took the just published draft of the brand new Soviet constitution, threw it on the floor and stumped and squashed it with all his strength. I finally got it.

The purpose of propaganda was not to inform or even dis-inform. It was to declare who was the boss. To establish without any doubt that everyone else was powerless and therefore should keep quiet. In a way it said: " We know you do not believe this nonsense we put out, but there is nothing you can do about it." The purpose of propaganda was to make people feel guilty for accepting such primitive, crude garbage and make them even less determined to fight.

But the other day after the Annapolis meeting I suddenly felt a sense of deja vu. The solution to the Middle East problem by 2008. Failure is not an option. If the year had been 2010 I would have though it was part of a five-year-plan.

While it is doubtful that Galileo actually threw balls off the leaning tower of Pisa to demonstrate that acceleration of objects is independent of their mass, I am quite sure that he never would have postulated that starting in 1608 the balls would begin to hover in midair by themselves. This would have been counter to all the observation he had already done, although the exact laws of gravity were not formulated until Newton came upon the scene, and he was born the year Galileo died -- 1642. Politicians, on the other hand, issue proclamations with ease which have almost no relation to the real world.

If the Annapolis final declaration had said something like the following I would have understood: "The problem to the solution in the Middle East is the jihadist ideology to whose followers it is their religious duty to fight the infidels and therefore any peace treaty or hudna can only be temporary. Peace is by definition impossible until we tackle the jihadists".

But nothing of this sort emerged. Instead, we got that the two parties expressed a determination to "confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis"!? Excuse me? How could Olmert and Bush sign this?

I am puzzled. This is supposedly the West 2007. This is not 1970s USSR with its controlled media. The West today has an educated population and an Internet that provides access to purchase any book on this planet. We have read dozens of books on the Middle East and Islam (or have we?). We have traveled to every corner of the globe. Most of all, we can think for ourselves -- we have the capability to make the connection between events with the teddy bear in the Sudan and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

So how is it that we tolerate these proclamations whose only purpose seems to be to convey that they are "trying to do something"? How is it that that the leaders themselves are not embarrassed such proclamations in the first place?

The only difference between a Soviet politburo declaration and the Annapolis joint understanding is that on the latter I can comment while on the former I would have landed myself a stint in a Soviet psychiatric clinic if I had been a Soviet citizen.

It is an essential difference. On the other hand this difference will peter out if we continue to appease and self-censor. Only by exercising our rights of free speech can we reach a critical mass whereby our leaders will take note that they are not dealing with passive ignorant half-wits.

We understand the danger our civilization is facing and we must demand of our leaders to act accordingly. They must become aware that we will vote them out of office and choose a government that does.


Mladen Andrijasevic   
- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


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