The Region: Elementary, simply elementary

My dear Watson, see how incompetent dictatorships use demagoguery to protect a system that doesn't work.

By BARRY RUBIN
October 10, 2006 09:27
4 minute read.
barry rubin 88

barry rubin 88. (photo credit: )

 
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It was my great pleasure to serve as friend and companion to Mr. Sherlock Holmes for many years. No one, I am confident to say, had as much access to the many fascinating cases on which he consulted. Time after time, Holmes shocked and amazed people by his deep knowledge and remarkable flashes of insight. Holmes had memorized, for example, all the types of tobacco available in London, the uses of chemicals and poisons, the timetables of all the railroads and the typefaces of every newspaper in the British Isles. Yet all of this knowledge would have been useless without his powers of concentration and deduction, which far outshone those of other mortals. Of course, Holmes was not without his critics and detractors. Among them was Inspector Euro of Scotland Yard. The good inspector was distinguished by the fact that he was always wrong and nonetheless pompously confident of his opinions, as ill-formed as they might be. One day, Holmes and I were ensconced in our digs at Baker Street and I had the opportunity of asking him about some of his famous cases. "My principles are simple," he explained between puffs of his pipe, "When you have eliminated the impossible whatever remains, no matter how implausible, must be true." "Let me give you an example," he continued. "Consider the Case of the Missing Peace Process. The situation was thus: A weak leader headed the Palestinian Authority. Over the years he had made many promises and never fulfilled a single one. Clearly he was powerless." I nodded to show I was paying attention. "He was challenged by a radical group that beat him soundly in elections. The territory broke down in chaos. The two factions fought continuously, competing also to prove who was most radical." "Yes, I remember. Didn't Inspector Euro say that this was the perfect time to engage them in negotiations?" Holmes gave his rare smile. "Yes, indeed. Sometimes I wonder, Watson, how they choose those who lead the police force in this country. And he even wanted to give them money so they could carry out even more violence." "Astounding! And I seem to remember the Case of the Nuclear Weapons Program also." Holmes sighed. "It was no difficult matter to figure out that the Iranians were building nuclear weapons: their refusal to cooperate, constant delays and prevarications, the import and production of substances good for nothing else. Though I'm afraid Inspector Euro let them slip away." "It amazes me how you deduce such things," I said respectfully. "Watson," retorted the great detective. "The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes." "Speaking of which, one of your greatest cases was the Hariri murder. However did you figure out that the killer was Bashar Assad?" Holmes guffawed. "Elementary, my dear Watson. It was no difficult matter to deduce that if a man is blown up by more than a ton of explosives on a busy Beirut street after being threatened with death that the miscreant could only be the man who threatened him and also controlled everything that went on in that country." "Perhaps Inspector Euro will catch him this time," I said hopefully. He formed his mouth into an "o" and released a perfect smoke ring. "It is possible, I am sure. Though, sadly, I cannot help recalling with some dismay the terribly bungled Adventure of the Master Terrorist." Holmes frowned deeply with the memory. "You may recall, Watson, that Inspector Euro was convinced that the perpetrator was one George Bush of Devonshire, a difficult man no doubt but hardly the Napoleon of political crime he was painted as being by Inspector Euro." Rising, Holmes refilled his pipe and walked to the window. He puffed several times until a veritable cloud of smoke rose from him. "Watson, come here a moment." I went to the window. "Look out there and tell me what you see." I peered out onto a typical London street scene. Hansom cabs rattled down the road; several peddlers cried out about the virtue of their wares. Silk-hatted gentlemen and ladies in long dresses strolled leisurely as ragged urchins ran in and out among them. "Hmm," I said. "I see a region beset with imperialism and Zionism, in which noble leaders for life strive to help their people by generously furnishing them with all the ideas they possibly need. In which the main issue is not the need for democracy, peace and reform but for endless struggle to maintain the status quo." Holmes gravely shook his head. "You know my methods, Watson, apply them! There, look there! See, how the incompetent dictatorships use demagoguery to protect a system that doesn't work, using calls for endless struggle, lies and hatred to distract their people from their real needs. And over there," Holmes turned and pointed dramatically. "The sponsorship of terrorism disrupts any hope for change; the use of the media, schools and all other institutions promotes anti-Americanism. Compromise is condemned as treason so there is no possibility of solving disputes." I looked and I saw that once again Holmes was right. "Amazing, my good friend. How ever do you do it?" "Very simple," said Holmes. "I'm not a Middle East expert."

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