The Economist has an article on Yasser Arafat's health problems...in my mind, it only emphasizes the importance of our election over here. Two different scenarios (both morbidly involving the passing of Arafat):
1. Okay, worst case scenario is that Bush is re-elected, and there is no clear successor to Arafat. Palestinians fight each other for control. Militant groups attack Israel to prove how tough they are and how much they deserve to be followed. Sharon has no option but to retaliate against these factions, and Palestinians have no coordinated response short of scattered violence. The situation devolves into a divide-and-conquer strategy...unilateral action will be taken by Israel, assuming no strong Palestinian leadership...a remote possibility of direct American involvement begins (though with Bush, no possibility of military action is ever remote), in order to get rid of these Palestinian leaders who are duking it out and endangering regional security. I'd like to explain this more, but just writing this paragraph has made me queasy.
2. Better case scenario: Kerry is elected. According to Bush, the terrorists just love this guy, even more than they like Badnarik, even. Naturally, Kerry takes a hard-line position on the Israeli abuse of power in Palestinian territories (ha! just kidding about that one, guys). Clearly the objective of any U.S. action should be to get the Palestinians and Israelis back to the negotiating table. But who is going to represent the Palestinians, dammit? Well, I don't know - I honestly don't know that much about the situation over there right now. During the election, the only country other than ours that gets any media attention is Iraq (and the media coverage of that war really hasn't been that great, so I'm not about to make a judgment on the Israeli-Palestinian using THAT!)
But I DO know that no one is as entrenched in their current position of power within Palestinian society as Arafat is now. I mean, this guy rejected a substantial offer in camp david in 2000. Granted, the deal was risky for Arafat personally - he would've had to answer to the pressure of hardline militants, but more importantly, there really isn't a place for Arafat in any sort of future Palestinian government. He's a military man, not a politician. Once he effectively resolves the conflict, he's done. Out of the spotlight. He gets a pat on the back, another Nobel Peace Prize, doesn't have to live under house arrest, doesn't have to worry about Israel slaughtering the people he cares for, etc. Hell, over here in the States, I bet we would've even let Clinton have a third term! It would have been like fighting terrorism before it became en vogue!
Dammit, now I completely lost my original train of thought. What was I saying? Oh yeah, don't vote for Bush. Actually, if you live in the Middle East (or anywhere but the U.S.), you can't even access dubya's site anyway.
Here's a somewhat impartial bio of the man himself