Thursday, April 22, 2004

Attaboy, Arafat!

PA chairman Yasser Arafat has physically expelled a number of terrorists from his headquarters in Ramallah, where he has been penned in by the IDF for the last two years or so. Also for the last two years or so, Israel and the US have been saying that Arafat is not a suitable partner for peace negotiations due to his continuing embrace of violence and terrorism. But yesterday he kicked out a bunch of murderous goons! Hooray!

I don't expect more moves like this are forthcoming. Given the preferences of his constituents, it's hard for Arafat to do anything but embrace violence and terrorism. Of course, we shouldn't work too hard to excuse them because of this constraint-- Arafat and the PA have helped to shape those very same counter-productive, self-destructive preferences. It's a neat little trap that political leaders often set for themselves; in political science we call it blowback.

But I'd like to think that Arafat did this to signal his willingness to negotiate. And more or less regardless of his intentions, he should be rewarded for distancing himself from (other) terrorists. The question is, how can we reward him? Anything nice said about him by Bush or Sharon would be political poison for Arafat. It is a thorny problem, to say the least. Anybody got any ideas?


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