Run, rodent, run
Even a blind squirrel stumbles across a nut every once in a while. Me? I've stumbled on to The Galloping Beaver, an ex-military leftie.
Disagree as I may with Dave's politics and his interpretation of events - especially in the Middle East - I find that he at least avoids the all-too-typical descent into rabid, spittle-flecked blaming of the world's woes on Chimpy McBushitler and his cabal of multi-national oil executives. Or Zionists. Or both in unholy coupling.
A little understood mindset in the Middle East is the view of government. Democracy in many areas holds no sway. A Bedou for example, whether he be Iraqi, Saudi or Omani is, first and foremost, a Bedou. While Bedouin tribesmen will take note of government, they view their independence and freedom to pursue their lifestyle as all important. The same can be said for urban Arabs in many cases. Government to most Arabs is the simple provision of services. Community leadership comes from local religious leaders. Some of the concepts being bandied about by the Bush administration are so totally foreign to the average Iraqi that they serve only to raise suspicion. Religious leaders see their authority being impinged upon and immediately choose the side of the fight that will leave leadership intact.
Dave's exploration of the cultural differences that frame questions of leadership, accountability, and power in the Middle East is most welcome; these are not well understood by most of us in the West, including me. Of course, he blows it by looking only at the Arab mindset within a Middle East that he surely knows is not monolithic. He's also wrong to assume that culture can't change if it is seen to be standing in the way of a better life: democratic government isn't where the populations of the Middle East turn for leadership at least partly because they've never truly had one to turn to. It remains uncertain whether they will, given the option.
It's useful to study the past, but it's a mistake to assume that study can predict the future.
Still, since housetrained lefties are always in short supply, I'm adding Castor Dave to the ghetto in the sidebar, right under Skippy.