Time marches on…

Two stories out of the Middle East.
First, in Axis of Evil TM news, this brief BBC retrospective and interviews of two of the players on this, the 25th anniversary of the taking of American embassy hostages in Tehran, Iran.
While many, like me, believe that our ongoing refusal to engage Iran in any meaningful manner (for twenty five years now, and counting) is probably not the greatest of ideas, most likely because of it, the Iranian people by and large like us (joining perhaps only the Israelis in the region in doing that). Of course, in honor of the Silver Anniversary, at some point during the jubilee year, we might just turn our rolling world war against Iran (the President would doubtless declare that he has just been given “a mandate” to do that, as if he needed one). Hey, we’re gonna have to do SOMETHING with those kids we’ll be drafting next year, right?
The other story is interesting: Yasir Arafat seems to be in the process of dying. Many rumors have circulated that he was already dead, but he seems to be hanging on a bit longer. Frankly, that Arafat will (likely) die and that his death will not be perceived as at the hands of Israel will be far better than any alternative I can think of. I have long held that his continued existence was the principle obstacle to peace, though by no means would his death be a sufficient condition to it. Ariel Sharon, backed up by our not-particularly-interested-President, merrily paves over the West Bank and launches helicopter gunship attacks willy nilly killing combatant, women and children alike, in Gaza (while proposing to withdraw from Gaza, for which Sharon is under perpetual threat from Jewish extremists.)
Obviously, it’s too bad that the American people have no particular interest in our being honest brokers in the Middle East (or indeed, in much of anything except gay-bashing, apparently). Which is too bad. Because Arafat’s death could be a rapid catalyst to moving along the peace process. Fortunately, some institutions in the Palestinian camp exist (like its semi-powerless parliament) that can now step up, and finally– FINALLY– give us a relatively straight negotiating partner with Israel, and not a coward afraid of being killed by his own people (or compromising his billion dollar skimming and protection rackets).
Not to worry: nothing good will come of any of this. The American people just saw to that.