30 May 2004

More Mid-East thinking

First off, have you ever noticed that most of our problems in that part of the world can be directly traced to the British Empire and it's resultant fall? The Holy Land and the surrounding area Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Kasmir, Israel and Palestine, all of these places were once British territories. It reminds me of another place Imperial powers had marched in search of treasure and land, with the same amount of success. Russia.

My German grandfather served in Russia during WW II. The poor man also served in WW I. He always told me that when Hitler went into Russia, he knew it was the end. He told me of the cold Russian winters that had killed so many invading armies before, and how they were unprepared for the Russian spring and the mud when the snow and ice melted. He told me of having to abandon even the tracked vehicles when they got stuck in the gluey stuff. I remember from my military career, at the height of the Cold War, talking to infantry officers who'd said they'd rather go back to Vietnam than have to fight in Russia. While the Mid-East does not have the terrible winters and muddy springs, they do have the shifting sands of the desert and allegiances that shift just as quickly. It might take years, but like Russia, invading armies always end up leaving in defeat.

The crux of the biscuit, as one of my favorite songwriters used to say, is the Holy Land, and if the United States does not want to leave the Middle East in defeat the way the British did, we will have to deal with that problem first. There has to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians in order for us to achieve success in any other part of the region. The terrorists have to be marginalized and as long as Israel is given a free hand to operate with impunity toward the Palestinians, they have a cause to fight for. Have we forgotten who began the Modern Terror movement and why? There would be no bin Laden, no al-Zarqawi, none of the last generation of bomb-throwers were it not for their granddaddy who found a niche for himself. I'm talking about none other than Yasser Arafat.

He was the breeding stock, the man who'd made political-change-through-terror an art form. Everybody else is using a variation of his theme. It's time to force Israel to act like a good neighbor and take away Arafat's reasons to fight. It's time to explain to Sharon and the hawks in Tel Aviv that the $6 billion they get every year from the U.S. will start dwindling if they do not pursue a genuine course toward peace. This wall they've built is abominable and amounts to nothing more than a land grab. One expert said not long ago, that if Israel was genuinely intersted in security, it would have been built within the borders of Israel.

Israel is a Jewish state and should remain that way (no right of return for the Palestinians) but there should also be a state of Palestine consisting of the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli settlements within Palestine should either be removed or their inhabitants become Palestinian citizens. That is only right and the Palestinian sovereignty issue would be more workable.

With its own army and recognized borders, the Palestinian government would be responsible for terrorists entering Israel, and accountable for their actions. That would mean that a terrorist attack in an Israeli city would be an act of war. I'm sure they would think differently about looking the other way when a suicide bomber tries to cross the border. There should be a Deminitarized Zone, a buffer between Israel and Palestine, patrolled by either Blue Helmets, a NATO force, or some other disintersted party, an Asian or African force maybe. No Americans. Did you hear me? I said no Americans. This would ensure separation of Israeli and Palestinian forces and reduce the illegal border crossings on both sides.

Presdent Inept and his policies with regard to the Isreali-Palestinian situation have made things worse in the region, let alone his blind rush toward disaster in Iraq. We need to change our foreign policy toward the region before we've fucked the place to Hell. We have to be seen not as Israel's protector, but as a moderating force, an equitable mediator by the Arab Street and an occupation of Iraq, similar to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, is counterproductive. We've got some apologies to make, to the Iraqis, to our European and Asian allies, and to the Palestinians and then we have to get to the business of making peace.

You see, I know what happens when people have lost all hope. It happened to a bankrupt Germany in the '30s and it is happening in the Middle East now. As Hitler did, the radical clerics of the Islamic world are promising their hopeless flock a chance. Unlike Hitler, who promised his people their former glory and prosperity, the new carrot and stick is the promise of Paradise and all them virgins. When people are given the promise of peace and a better life for their children, they will put down their rifles and take off the bomb belts. When life is so bad that the only alternative is the promise of Heaven, there will always be a pool of people ready to make the trip.

So I leave with this thought. It's the Holy Land, stupid. Fix that and the other problems in the region will become easier to solve. Allowing the Jews to keep a boot on the Palestinian neck can only bring more problems, not less.

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