Headline of the Day

Here it is, in all its glory:

Gaza Strip cease-fire short-lived.

Surprise! Observing the chaotic, barbaric and shambolic politics of the Palestinians is perhaps a useful lesson when considering Iraq. Over the years, I have been persuaded by many neoconservative arguments about the futility of Israel trying to negotiate with the Palestinians. The notion that the Palestinian leadership would ever agree to a compromise with Israel, let alone live up to any agreement, was disproved again and again and again. There is not even a pretense any more of any Arab entity desiring to actually govern the Palestinian territories, when they could be fought over, which is where the energy always seems to lie. If you didn't believe this gloomy analysis in the past, the fate of the Oslo Accords surely proved it. If Clinton couldn't get Arafat to sign off on a completely reasonable and viable deal, then I concluded it wasn't worth trying.

But here's the thing: the same neocons who persuaded me that Arab culture was simply impossible when it came to the Palestinians were the same ones who reassured me that Iraq would become a democracy easily, that sectarian divisions were not that deep, that not all Arab societies are politically dysfunctional, and so on. So which is it? Are the Arabs just desperate for democracy? Or are they doomed never to experience or even want it? I wish they'd make up their minds.