FEBRUARY TIDBITS

By William Markiewicz

THE POPE IN CUBA

The Pope's visit to Cuba will certainly result in a loosening of the noose around Cuba. It's interesting that the West applies its justice only to the weak and insignificant -- Cuba, Iraq, Serbs ... This justice is a two-edged sword because it avoids any confrontation with those who can retaliate, China for instance. Some may reply that the Pope's visit to Cuba has a political edge. Political or not, the Pope's gesture is not in conflict with morality -- it lines up on the side of morality because the U.S. position attacks not the regime of the country, but the population, particularly the most vulnerable among them. It's easier to forget about it than to argue with it. It's the same with Iraq and Serbia. Cuba and Iraq survive thanks to their climate while the sanctions against the Serbian people are equivalent to genocide. The fact that the Pope defends his Catholic flock is understandable and consequences of his gesture may be universal. In a world where prosperity is shared among the powerful and their good friends, the Pope brings a message to the destitute Cubans and beyond Cuba: "I am your friend." Many of the self righteous in the West will be shaken to the core and their weakened grip may bring hope for change.

AFFAIR CLINTON

Clinton is threatened with impeachment because of flaws in his behaviour as a husband. I don't remember how many high ranking officers in the U.S. Army were obliged to resign because of their extra-marital relations. One of them had been separated from his wife for over two years. Curiously, Roosevelt, who seemingly had affairs despite his wheelchair, got away with it. Puritanism has always been the dominant force in U.S. official life. But now, with the women's liberation movement, the U.S. has reached the height of double dose puritanism which need not envy Iran's and Afghanistan's Muslim puritanism. At the end of the twentieth century, in a modern civilized country and in a so-called free society, matters that should be strictly private, between spouses, become a matter of state. But puritanism showed that it doesn't deserve our respect. It is dead and buried in its shame after what we've learned about its past performance in orphanages and other institutions for the defenseless. For anybody in a position of power, whether general, president, etc., only two things should count: a job well done and a clean criminal record. If we don't want our world to become even more a paradise for smart aleck hypocrites, if we want a clean society, it has to be a society where everybody, from the most humble to the most powerful has the right to say: "keep your nose out of my private life."

NETANYAHU IN THE USA

While in the U.S. for talks with Clinton, Netanyahu was interviewed on American TV where he underlined two seemingly justifiable points of his agenda: secure borders for Israel which would justify its claim to territories and insistence that Arafat's duty is to smash terrorism. Both of those arguments are a smoke screen. Israel is so tiny and flat that security by territorial annexation is simply non operational. Israel is not Russia and it cannot annex the Arabic peninsula, for instance, to ensure "territorial security." For missiles and aviation, distances are practically nonexistent. So Israel must base its security on criteria other than its size. As for terrorism, Netanyahu knows very well that once peace is achieved terrorism will die a natural death. It is not because the Arabs will suddenly love Israel -- you make peace with your enemies not with your friends -- but because the Palestinian population desperately needs peace. With an improved material situation there will be no open sore of everlasting anger and no more candidates for suicide attacks. In my view Netanyahu's goal remains the same: no territories to the Palestinians. Persistent terrorism will only weaken Arafat and that doesn't preoccupy Mr. Netanyahu. But Arafat is the only serious interlocutor for Israel and if anything happens to him there will be bloody chaos which Mr. Netanyahu obviously doesn't fear. As long as America is on his side, the few bloody spots on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem count less. But America is far away and Israel doesn't control American political life. Once U.S. support weakens and with no peace in view, Israel may find itself alone with bloody spots spreading out everywhere.

SERBIAN 'ADOLF'

If he really is as he is depicted, this butcher should have been judged by the Serbs themselves before he was caught by NATO forces. He was probably protected by some buddy-buddy local relationships at the expense of the most vital Serbian interests. I don't believe that they arrested him now only because they didn't know his whereabouts before. They chose their timing just to keep the anti-Serbian momentum alive. In consequence, when the Muslims decide to launch their attack against Serbian Bosnia, nobody will pity the hundreds of thousands of Serbian refugees who will run for their lives to starve in Serbia. There is nothing new in this genocidal righteousness. In ancient times, nations rose and fell through conquest. Today the collective sensitivity is very selective, allowing all kinds of silent holocausts on human and animal levels. We protect the cute baby seals and tolerate a hecatomb of countless laboratory rats and other small creatures. Previously, entire tribes died at the antipodes while the civilized world ate and slept in peace. Today it can happen to the closest neighbours while eating and sleeping are uninterrupted.




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