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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Stand up

As a former resident of Russia and someone who believes in democracy, I continue to be concerned with the authoritarian trend in Russia and the weakening of forces who disagree with President Putin, in part due to the use of government power to stifle them. It continues to surprise me how the same Russians who rose up against a corrupt and thoughtless monarchy in revolution, and then managed to take steps toward democracy and a mixed economic system, could now fold so compliantly before this former KGB agent. I worry about where this great nation that still has nuclear weapons, and vast human and natural resources, will go.

Although I have to admit ignorance of its contents, I cannot but be inspired by Yossi Beilin, Yasser Abed Rabbo, and their teams’ accord for peace in the Middle East. Regardless of the viability or usefulness of their agreement, and they have more than their share of doubters, their willingness to recognize that their national leaders and other partisans continue to fail to achieve the peace that so many yearn for, and to work for it, is inspiring. I have long believed that the United States should support peace and justice in the Middle East (and around the world), encourage democracy and cooperation, and still support allies. Supporting the Israeli government, right or wrong, is not getting us to those broad goals. Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat are not getting their peoples to a decision, despite continued deaths, economic problems brought on by the conflict, and suffering. It is time for a change.

And how ‘bout that Gore endorsement? I know that something could still happen: Dean could stumble big or someone's ground operation could beat him in a few key states. But does anyone still wants to put even money on Kerry, Gephardt, Edwards, Clark...?