Monday, January 12, 2009

some good reading, listening, watching, etc.

Jon Schwenkler of Upturned Earth has an interesting piece up at Cutlure11 on Father Neuhaus. It's a nice, short piece that touches on the good and bad of the man. So many obits and reflection pieces abound right now, from harsh critiques by Andrew Sullivan, to plenty more graceful rememberances.

Jon and Scott Payne and Freddie deBoer have a dialogue on Same-Sex-Marriage at Scott's blog. Well worth the listen. (Freddie links there from his supposedly dormant blog...)

Tony Jones talks about gnosticism at his blog. He has a nice line: 'There's nothing secret about Christianity. There never has been. Let's make sure there never will be."

Mike Pontera thinks Obama, unlike his predecessors, has some "breathing space." We shall see...

And Max Socol has an interesting write-up on the question of cease-fire in Gaza. Jason Corley thinks we should "give war a chance" and while I think the phrasing is a little on the brash side, (though clever) the general idea that Israel ought to finish what it starts is certainly a good one. Different perspectives are always good to have...especially when it is not the ends, but the means that are in question...

Hamas may ultimately be destroyed by a Gaza takeover. But long after they're dead, it will be Israel that has to live with a new occupation.

It's therefore in our interest to make the ceasefire workable, before a messy invasion. Israel ought to concede to allowing Hamas to maintain oversight of its borders, alongside Israeli forces on their respective border, and international forces along the Egyptian border. I don't know what harm there could be in such a concession, as long as non-Hamas monitors still have access to everything coming in and out. And in exchange for this concession, Israel can demand that international forces be stationed within Gaza, rather than Egypt. Egypt, (which has nearly as much of an interest in concluding this mess, as it is nothing but a daily public relations disaster for Mubarak) for its part, should exert serious pressure on Hamas to accept this trade. And if it is unable to do so, Egypt should accept a multinational force in the Sinai, as a good faith gesture to make up for Hamas's intractability.

In exchange for the total cessation of rocket fire from Gaza, Israel should agree to a formalized schedule for lifting the blockade. This is in any case in Israeli interests, as many have pointed out that miserable conditions in Gaza have done nothing to damage Hamas, and may in fact have strengthened the organization.

The message is a clear one. This is the price you pay when groups like Hamas are elected. This is the price terrorist organizations pay when you endanger the lives of citizens of other countries. The lessons and results may be more binding and constructive then permanent evacuations or cease fires that only secure the status quo and, ironically enough, contributes and guarantees more suffering and death in the future.

The region deserves peace and the people of Gaza and Israel deserve to live quietly and securely. I think its time we give war a chance.

It's hard to say what will actually achieve peace. I do hope Israel secures Gaza at least to the point that a lift of the blockade will become possible. I hope, also, that Egypt will find some way to clamp down on smuggling over their borders--not bread, but bombs and rockets and machine guns.