My Brother Is Bigger Than Yours

April 3, 2010

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In what I can only classify as a comedy of political missteps it appears that all within a month the Israeli and the American governments have managed to offend each other only to the delight of the terrorist world. The first offense came during Joe Biden’s visit a few weeks back when unfortunately just as he came to press for peace the Israeli government announced the approval for building of more settlements in East Jerusalem. As the US has shamefully given into the Arab demand that no negotiations will take place till the settlements are frozen this was a big slap in the face for Biden. It forced him to denounce the new settlements and off course provided a big “you see” moment for the Arabs.

Even being a pro Israel blogger I have to say that this move on the part of the Israeli government was anything but graceful. I don’t actually disagree with the move itself as I don’t see any reason that Israel should stop building settlements in Jerusalem but the timing of the announcement was terrible. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Biden that he was not aware of the announcement as it came from a district committee that makes these decisions. However, in my view this is an unacceptable answer as Israel is not so big that the Prime Minister should not be aware of an announcement that from a foreign relations standpoint would create this big of a reaction.

I will save my rant on why Israel should continue to build settlements but in general I don’t think due to its proximity to Jewish inhabitants and the utter craziness of splitting a city in half East Jerusalem will ever be the Palestinian capital as currently proposed. So I see no harm in building settlements there as Israel will never accept any two state solution where Jerusalem is not 100% under Israeli control.

In return for this insult, Joe called on his big brother, Obama, to ensure that next visit from Netanyahu would end in similar humiliation. The news I am reading and hearing is a bit fuzzy on the details but sounds like not only did Obama not arrange for the normal photo session that he has when meeting with a head of state but also he walked out of a meeting to go have dinner with his family. Not sure how much truth is in the story but the bottom line seems to be that Obama has no clue how to behave himself. Sticking up for Biden is one thing but even as president of the most powerful country you have to know how to act when you have guests.

I think both unfortunate incidents were probably blown out of proportion by the media and both only served to advance one cause which is the continued delay of any real peace talks. Not that I am convinced that peace talks would bring any real change but a public pissing contest to see who can out insult the other definitely brings no positive change. Don’t think I have ever written an article where the Arabs win at the end but in this case they were the only ones to benefit from this month’s political mishaps.

Pecking Order

February 24, 2010

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Pecking Order

The pecking order on the playground determines who is the strongest and who is the weakest and who is that crazy red headed child that you just don’t want to fight as he has been known to bite.  The rules of engagement on the playground are fairly simple.  Don’t start a fight with anyone higher than you on the pecking order, don’t start a fight with someone too much lower as this is looked upon as bullying and never ever start a fight with that red headed kid.  As all children know this “order” on the playground is essential not to encourage or create conflict but to avoid it.  In the real world we have examples of this such as the mutual assured destruction theory that the nuclear proliferation brought to the world as the US and former USSR accumulated more nuclear weapons then anyone would ever need.

So where am I going with all of this in terms of Middle East politics?  Well, I read the discussion between Syria and Israel the other day with both sides threatening to crush the other in all out war and suddenly realized that the Middle East pecking order has been disturbed.  For the better part of the last 30 years it has been clear to countries such as Syria that Israel was not to be challenged in all out war.  This thinking came about after some wars that ended very badly for Arab states such as Syria were fought in 40s-70s. At that time the pecking order was well established and maintained until now.  As a side note, depending on who you are you may either see Israel as fairly high on the pecking order due to military strength or the red headed child due to their nuclear weapons and dire need to survive at any cost but for a long time now I don’t think anyone saw them as the weakling that you all took turns beating on.

So how did our precious pecking order become unraveled?  I blame guerilla warfare and terrorism.  It has long been established that even a strong army such as Israel or the US or back in the day the USSR has a lot of difficulty waging war in non-conventional fashion.  When you can just roll out the tanks and drop a bunch of bombs I would argue that these three armies had no equal in war but as we found out in Vietnam, Afghanistan (US and USSR wars), Iraq, Lebanon and many others these armies are not nearly as dominant when there are no tanks on the other side. 

Trying to fight a war when the enemy hides behind human shields, puts no value on life (their own, the enemies or civilians) and generally does not meet you on a field of battle is very difficult.  The examples set in recent engagements such as Lebanon has created a false sense of confidence in countries like Syria that they too can take on the Israeli army.  To me this may be even a bigger problem than the current terrorist problem as all out war between Israel and its neighbors always leads to a lot of death, no resolutions and now that all of these countries have more advanced weapons it can lead to “mutual assured destruction”.  Maybe not in the sense of nuclear war but in the sense that the infrastructure damage and loss of life that a big Middle Eastern war threatens may not be something Israel or the poorer Arab countries may ever recover from.

For right or for wrong I think the pecking order in the Middle East is critical for peace in the larger sense of the word.  While it is peace based more on fear or understanding of your enemy’s power it never the less accomplishes the goal.  I am not sure what the solution is and I don’t want to advocate war but I see two ways to re-establish the pecking order.  One, Israel should stage a pre-emptive strike and make a statement that will remind some of its neighbors what the pecking order is.  Two, a bigger kid needs to move onto the block and establish that if any beatings go on it will be only them beating on someone else.  Obviously in my analogy the bigger kid is the US.  Neither option is pretty and I don’t expect a lot of support for either but I have not come up with a third alternative.  I know one thing, talking has never solved anything in the Middle East so I have ruled that option out.

Britain Has Lost All Legitimacy

January 6, 2010

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It may be a harsh statement on my part but I believe that the United Kingdom can no longer call itself a legitimate country in terms of being a relevant world power or relevant to the fight on terror.  The fall of the British empire is well documented as the United States took its place as the primary world power a long time ago but this article is more about the legitimacy of the UK as a country to be considered a voice of reason in the world and someone to ally ourselves with when solving world problems.

In case you have not been to London lately you really should make a trip as it does not feel like the London of 10 years ago.  While all of the wonderful historical sites are still around the chemical makeup of the city and the country has changed.  The UK is now under heavy Muslim influence and in many cases under the influence of Muslim radicals.  The concern that many European countries are now having with the influx of Muslim immigrants has already manifested itself in the UK.  While most of the European countries have historically had strong religious ties they typically have operated in a similar fashion to the United States in that church and state were separate when making policy decisions.  At least in the UK this line is being blurred but the odd thing is the religious beliefs that are blurring them are not the historical religion of the UK but Islam.

The point of attack for the Muslims in the UK has squarely been Israel.  Most of this started with the normal rallies and boycotts of Israeli products and while these are obviously damaging they don’t necessarily reflect the tone of the government.  The event that I believe has now squarely moved this from being just a statement from some radical groups to being a statement of the government is the issuing of arrest warrants for former Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni.  The Muslim radicals in the UK are leveraging the preposterous report from the UN regarding the last military engagement by Israel to declare Israeli officials as war criminals.  This has prompted Israel to cancel trips for its diplomats and even IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers for fear of being placed under arrest.

For those that have not grasped my point here you have to look at this in perspective.  We are discussing the UK which most Americans probably consider closest to us in ideology after Canada.  This is not supposed to be a backwards country or a supporter of Muslim terrorists movements but how can you explain the weakness in their government regarding policy toward Israel?  I am guessing it can only be explained in the same manner that all crazy political moves can be explained, votes.  As the Muslim population sky rockets, growth of 500,000 in the last 4 years as the number of Christians shrunk by 2 million, the politicians have a new voting base they need to appease.

As a final thought, in case you still do not grasp the lunacy of the issuance of this arrest warrant consider how you would feel if the same warrant was issued for US General David Petraeus as many of the things that Israel is accused of are the same things the US is accused.  Appeasement of Muslim radicals will be the downfall of society.

The Middle East Outlook

December 7, 2009

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Typically my article focuses on past or current events in the Middle East so I figured this time I would toss out a curveball and try to predict the future. More specifically I wanted to look at the where I think the Middle East will be at the end of President Obama’s first term. My focus will be the future of Israel, Iraq and Iran.

I think the future of Iraq is becoming fairly clear to most. The war in Iraq seems to have been a mistake for the United States as it sucked a lot of military resources from places of larger need and created too many broken families back home. For Iraq it may prove to be a mistake as I think the country will be left leaderless in the short term which could toss it into chaos as the US forces pull out. For the region it was a mistake as for good or bad Iraq provided a balance of power to Iran which will now will become unbalanced. So in three years I see the country as leaderless, without the protection of the US army and tail spinning into disaster. This normally creates the perfect storm for an extremist leader to come to power and basically put the country back on path to where it was ten years ago.

As for Iran, I believe the outlook to be much brighter, from their perspective anyway. Iran will become a nuclear power in the next three years. The efforts being put forth currently by the UN and US will be ineffective as Obama is not militant enough to make any realistic threats. In my opinion, this actually creates the most concern for Iran’s Arab neighbors and not Israel. Despite what most think the Arabs have a lot of internal conflicts and I could see Iran using a nuclear weapon on its Arab enemies. Israel is already a nuclear power so I believe that Iran will only use their nuclear power in rhetoric to threaten Israel but by default will actually have more of a “mutually assured destruction” mentality with neither side willing to commit suicide just to eliminate the other.

My second to last prediction is that Ahmadinejad will lose his seat in government. I think his course has run and his usefulness is diminishing. Besides popular belief he is a puppet character that is useful in taking international heat but yield little power. Lastly, the world will see more outbursts of human rights violations similar to what happened after the elections. Iran has never been a nice place but till now things like the war with Iraq and now the nuclear issue detracted from bigger issues facing Iran. With Iraq being eliminated as a super power and Iran going nuclear there will be no bigger storyline then human rights.

Lastly, Israel will probably be sitting in the same place as it currently sits. The economy will keep chugging along, settlements will be built and they will have to deal with terrorist attacks. The two places that I think Israel may make headway on are the way they deal with terrorists and their negotiation with the Palestinians. I believe, Israel is slowly learning that they can be harsh with terrorists and then simply dismiss bad press from things like tainted UN commissions. Israel is realizing that its own security is more important than public image. On the other hand I think Israel still does not realize how to deal with the Palestinians so in the next three years I predict more unbalanced deals, more concessions and no closer to peace.

Hope you all enjoyed, feel free to comment as this is not history but predictions so there is lots of room for error on my side.

Harder Than Becoming President

November 4, 2009

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Hillary Clinton has found out that being first lady has its challenges, becoming president is not so easy, but hardest of all may be going to the Middle Easte and being liked by all. In just a matter of days she has needed adjustment in her rhetoric as she met with leaders from different side of the Middle East conflict.

Early in the week during her visit to Israel she made statements praising the Jewish state for taking unprecedented steps towards peace by committing to slow the building of settlements in the “occupied” territories. Later in the week she quickly found out why it is called the Middle East conflict and not the Middle East friendly negotiation as she was roasted by the Arabs for these comments as they are considering the freeze of building of new settlements as a pre-condition to negotiations.

Hillary back peddled faster than an intern leaving the oval office after having “relations” with the President. And regarding the President’s stance on the Middle East she was quoted as saying “Perhaps those of us who work for him and communicate about this issue should have made very clear that there was no change in our position, that we were absolutely committed to the end of settlement activity.”

I am not a Hillary hater but she has to be fairly ignorant to think you can go into the Middle East tell everyone what they want to hear and not only walk away a hero but get anything accomplished. I think this little jump around in stance has gone a long way in destroying her reputation as a serious negotiator. I am not saying I have the skill set to succeed in very so many have failed but here are my opinions on how you have to approach negotiations in the Middle East.

  1. Recognize that both sides are deeply tied to their views and in some cases see certain factors as not issues up for negotiation but a critical factor for their survival.
  2. Recognize that unfortunately the Palestinians are highly influenced by groups that would not benefit from peace so they are in no position to really negotiate and continue to use the lack of negotiation as just fuel for would be extremists.
  3. Recognize that Israel wants peace as it can gain nothing through conflict but it is a tiny country surrounded by its enemies so it can’t realistically give away key pieces of land as this would threaten its survival.
  4. Finally, recognize that the Palestinians are in no position to have an effective government, as they have proved so many times, so this conflict cannot be solved just by awarding land. A Palestinian state would quickly fall apart and be a home to terrorists if they do not first evolve at simply governing themselves and having a healthy economy. I am not really sure why they have not tried this at all in the territory that they do have or in one of the Arab states around them who have plenty of land to give them.

So, my solution would be to make sure that both sides understand what is on the table and what is off the table as currently some things being asked for just cannot be given under any circumstances. Second, I would make sure that concession from either side can be monitored to make sure it is executed and each concession is reciprocated. This is important as promises are easy to break and if you are getting nothing in return then they become routine to break. Third, part of the negotiation must involve one of the “neutral” Arab states that can sponsor the Palestinians as they establish themselves. Lastly, drop the dumbest idea in the world which is preconditions. Why on earth would anyone give up something before negotiations even start.

This last point explains why negotiations have stalled as the Arabs have made it a precondition that Israel stops building new settlements. Why would a country with limited space and a growing population ever do that? Plus why would they give up one of the key things on the negotiating table before they ever sit down at the table?

Anyway, that rant is probably a good place to stop.

What Weighs More – A Pound of Feathers …

October 7, 2009

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Apparently in prisoner exchange programs in the Middle East an Israeli life is worth more than an Arab life. While in theory some may agree with this since the Arabs vastly outnumber the Israelis and the extremists that Israel deals with really don’t hold much respect for the life of their enemies much less their own, the concept still seems odd to me.

One of the stories this week was that Israel has decided to release 20 Palestinian prisoners in a prisoner exchange. You are probably now thinking “Wow – so I guess the Israelis will receive 20 prisoners in exchange”. Not quite. Israel is releasing the 20 prisoners, all of who were convicted of crimes in a court of law, for just evidence that one IDF soldier, Schalit, who was kidnapped, is still alive. I am obviously biased toward Israel but doesn’t this exchange seem unfair to anyone? One side is handing over 20 convicted criminals and the other side is just providing evidence that a kidnapped soldier is still alive. From what I understand to actually get back the soldier the Arabs are requesting 1000 criminals. How did the Arab/Israeli prisoner exchange program become so lopsided? I will give my answer in a few but figured it would be informative to show some other examples of exchanges. I am thinking a fair number of unions wish they could negotiate with this kind of upper hand.

  • 2003 – Israeli Elhanan Tannenbaum and the bodies of three IDF soldiers killed along the Lebanese border were returned in exchange for 435 prisoners. Israel also returned the remains of 59 Lebanese soldiers.
  • 1996 – Hizballah released the remains of two Israeli soldiers in exchange for the remains of 123 Lebanese soldiers.
  • 1998 – Hizballah returned the remains of Sergeant First Class Itamar Ilya in exchange for the remains of 40 Hizballah soldiers
  • 1985 – In exchange for three Israeli soldiers held by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Israel released 1,150 Palestinian political prisoners.

The two things that are disturbing from just the examples in this blog are the inequality between what Israel has to give in order to receive an Israeli body (dead or alive) and that both sides appear to be holding the remains of each other’s soldiers. I am not sure how common this is but I would think that holding the remains of a soldier is a bit twisted and doesn’t really serve much purpose. Not sure why nobody has negotiated a policy in the Middle East of simply handing over all dead soldiers.

Anyway, enough rambling and back to my theory of why this type of negotiation takes place. The Muslim extremists normally holding Israeli lives have zero respect for life. This is consistently demonstrated by the way they treat their own people, the way they shoot rockets indiscriminately into cities, the way they use their own people as human shields and off course by promoting suicide bombings. What is most disturbing is the extremists do this in the name of Islam. Where are the people that practice Islam as it was meant to be practiced with not only respect for human life but respect for your enemy?

In closing, this type of behavior should be kept in the back of your mind as you read articles of Israel being inhumane or description of the extremists as “freedom fighters”. People are defined by their actions and not by how the media decides to paint them. I hope once again my article has shed some light on the realities of the conflict in the Middle East as the facts are very far from the fiction that you see on television.

Six Day War

September 4, 2009

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300 has nothing on this war.

For those of you that saw the movie 300 which was a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartans fought till death against incredible odds you may like this non-fictionalized story even better.

While I am not a great story teller let me try to set the scene. You are tasked with defending a brand new nation that is about the size of New Jersey (8,019 square miles vs. Jersey which is 7800). The battle will be on three fronts as your 4th front is water. You have little to no control of supply routes and your enemy has available to it almost indefinite reinforcements and resources especially fuel.

In terms of actual military might. You have approximately 275,000 troops of which 75% are reserves. You also have 200 aircrafts and 1,100 tanks. Your enemy has 250,000 full time professional troops with pretty much unlimited reserves, 530 aircrafts and 1,500 tanks. To make things a bit worse, your aircraft are a much older model then your enemies as your enemy has basically up to date Soviet planes. Your planes are severely under gunned, about half as fast and some are actually only useful as decoys. Similar to your planes, your tanks are outdated, mainly small tanks or refurbished old British heavy tanks while your opponent has the latest Soviet weaponry, mainly heavy tanks.

So far, I know which side I rather be on and it’s not the side that I have told you to envision yourself leading. So what do you do? I am not sure what you picked as your option but I would have picked run away and run away fast.

Obviously since I am the Middle East columnist for the Observer this is the description of an actual war that took place in the Middle East. It is a description of the Six Day War fought in 1967 between Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and pretty much the rest of the Arab world. By now you pretty much guessed that the New Jersey like undermanned, out gunned country is Israel. If your interest is not piqued yet as to how they got out of this jam then check your pulse. So what did Israel do?

First they dug 10,000 graves and prepared 14,000 hospital beds, crossed their fingers and loaded their rifles. The strategy was simple and driven out of necessity. The war had to be very quick as they could not outlast the Arabs, it had to be on Arab soil as they could not afford to rebuild Israel, and Israeli casualties had to be limited as they could not re-arm to do this dance again if the army was wiped out. After that, it was simple – the best defense is a good offense. Israel, without the public blessing of the US (its main ally) struck first and destroyed a majority of the Arab air force before it ever got off the ground. Then it hit the Arab forces hard on the ground to the point where most of the Arab forces retreated without seeing any real prolonged combat. The strategy worked as Israel had the upper hand by around day 3 (even though Arab radio claiming victory at every turn) and as hinted by the title of this war had won a decisive victory by day 6. At that point the UN and the world negotiated a cease fire.

The aftermath was the Arabs lost about 450 planes and 18,000 troops while Israel lost 36 planes and 700 troops. Outside of being a great story that I recommend you read a book on or at least a few web pages it had an important outcome for today. Many of the areas that now Arabs claim are “occupied” by Israel were taken during this war. These areas were the very spots that the Arabs picked as strategic places to launch their attacks. Most of these spots such as the Golan Heights create a great military advantage and I believe have been retained by Israel and should be for military defense. It was also the beginning of a huge number of Palestinians being displaced due to the war. In my opinion, understanding such history is very critical when discussing issues of today. To have an informed opinion on what is happening today it is critical to understand how the Palestinians ended up where they are and the motivation of Israel for “occupying” certain territories. I hope you enjoyed this story but in a blog I can’t do it justice as the story of this war to me is the most amazing military story of the last 50 years and I hope you have time to do some more detailed reading on it.

*Note: The statistics came from a number of sources but obviously different sources have slightly different numbers.

Bomb a Plane, Get a Pardon

August 21, 2009

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My writing spot is normally not for another couple weeks but this Middle East story was too big to ignore. I am sure most of you reading this have already heard or seen what happened this week with Al Megrahi “the Lockerbie bomber” but I needed to recap. First let me apologize if my writing sounds angry but I am.

So the story is that this guy bombed a Pan AM flight back in 1988 which killed 259 people. Of those 189 were Americans but that is not critical to my rant or to the story. This happened over Lockerbie Scotland hence his nickname. He was convicted in 2001 and was sentenced to life in prison. He was recently diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer with three months to live so the Scottish released him so he could “die at home”. Here are my many problems with this.

  1. I am not a big supporter of the death penalty but you know some people clearly deserve it. Why does a guy who consciously kills 259 people get to live?
  2. Why the compassion of letting him die at home? Many people serving a life sentence end up dying in prison and some have done far less evil things like maybe only killing one person instead of 259. On top of that, why give compassion to someone who had none. He didn’t let anyone off that plane or give anyone a way to escape. I am sure the 259 people included children, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and many people that deserved to “die at home”. He was also convicted only in 2001 so this is not a guy that served 60 years with good behavior so society was ready to forgive him and give him a decent way to exist this world. This guy served a handful of years, probably fewer than a common drug dealer.
  3. What happens if he doesn’t die in three months? What happens if he miraculously recovers?
  4. Lastly and maybe the most upsetting part is he got a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Libya. Has the world lost all decency? I think we should have bombed the entire crowd that showed up for him. This type of reaction shows you exactly why you can’t negotiate with terrorists – Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest of them. They kill and die for honor, human life has no value which makes them an impossible foe.

In closing, before you comment go talk to someone who had someone they knew murdered. It should not be that hard to find a person. Just ask anyone who had family members in the Holocaust. Once you talk to them, see if you would have the same compassion for this man.

Rules of Engagement

August 5, 2009

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This month I wanted to express my opinion on the investigations of the “war crimes” supposedly committed during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. A number of anonymous soldiers have testified to various news sources that during this latest military operation they felt that Israel had conducted itself unethically and attacked civilians as well as destroyed property in a style of “shoot first and ask questions later”.

As background I would like to point out a few things.

  1. All Israelis are required to serve in the army which is significant as you will get a number of people that will never agree with any level of violence as it may not be in their nature to be troops.
  2. The enemy in this scenario is not another army but a terrorist organization that makes use of suicide bombers and human shields making it very difficult to limit civilian casualties but under normal circumstances Israel is well documented to be better at limiting civilian casualties than any other army including the USA.
  3. Israeli politics and culture allows for if not even encourages people to express their opinion so this kind of rhetoric by troops after a conflict is nothing new. In fact, it is welcomed for troops to report war crimes which are then heavily investigated and acted upon.
  4. Finally, if you get 3 Jews in a room you end up with 4 opinions so complaints about any action taken by Israel even by Israelis is expected.

As to the allegations, my opinion is that it is very possible that this last military engagement may have had harsher rules of engagement then normal but this is really do to point 2 above. No organized military in the world is currently well equipped or trained to combat terrorist organizations using the methods that Middle East ones do in an urban setting without casualties. I believe that the Israeli army provides adequate warning to civilians prior to an attack but it has been well documented that the civilians often do not heed the warning or receive threats from the terrorist organizations not to heed them. These civilians are critical to a terrorist organization’s defense (human shields) and offense (media coverage of dead civilians) therefore the terrorist can’t afford these civilians to simply step aside and allow the conflict to occur between the two armed forces.

I will admit that recent failures in some of the Israeli conflicts may have prompted a harsher approach but I think based on the approach that organizations like Hamas take with Israel this is well warranted. In addition, based on the fact that most if not all of the complaints are coming from anonymous soldiers I have to question the validity. In closing I want to leave you with two thoughts.

One, if it was your son or daughter entering an urban setting with potential land mines, suicide bombers and civilian clothed militia, how many questions would you want them to ask before shooting?

Two, has anyone noticed that even some of the Arab leaders had compared the way Israel conducted itself to that of the terrorist groups? While I don’t ever want to see Israel sink to their level it is ironic to me that Israelis bulldoze a few buildings by mistake and they get this kind of negative coverage but Hamas shoots rockets at kindergartens and hospitals and nobody blinks.

In closing, I guess for those reading this that do not have any sons, daughters, cousins or friends serving in the Israeli army it will always be hard to understand why I support them being cautious in a way that may cause an accidental civilian death but keep the troops out of harm’s way. I think there is only so much precaution that is worth the death of an Israeli soldier and for people that really want to see an end to civilian casualties they should attack the heart of the problem – which is the way that terrorists situate themselves among these civilians.

Middle East Politics

July 8, 2009

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 As this is my first article for this wonderful site I will keep the writing general in order to introduce my point of view to all of our readers and open discussion.  Future articles will focus on specific events in the news.  First off, my views are not a commentary on any of the religions that are involved in the conflict in the Middle East as even though I believe the conflict does stem from religious differences it also stems from man’s ultimate love and struggle for power.

In my opinion the crisis in the Middle East has been miss managed for years by virtually any government that has gotten involved as some basic fundamental understanding of the situation is missing.  Perhaps understanding may even be a strong word as these players do understand what is going on but politically and in public they cannot admit to it.  Here in my mind are the basics which drive the conflict.

One, a majority of the conflict is driven by a minority of extremists who have been very effective in using the media to portray their views as a majority view.  Two, it has to be recognized that the minority from the Muslim side that is driving this extremist view has a very simple agenda which is to eliminate Israel from the face of the planet.  This is in their doctrines, it is their mission statement (loosely using that term) and it is the political agenda that gives them power in the region.  Three, the conflict has nothing to do with a few miles of land.

These three points demonstrate why a majority of the efforts to solve the Middle East feuds have failed.  In short, organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas are extremists groups that have legitimized themselves by creating a political agenda whose only mission it to eliminate Israel.  While this mission is masked by cries of freedom for the Palestinians and cries of Israeli oppression the truth is that these organizations need the conflict to continue in order to maintain political importance till they can achieve their mission.  That leads to the root cause of the failures of the past.  All the relevant players have concentrated on appeasement of these extremist organizations in order to sacrifice a little for the greater good of ending the conflict.  But if the conflict were to end in any peaceful scenario then the big losers would be these organizations.  Why?  Well for one they would fail in their mission to destroy Israel and two they would lose political relevance in their countries as the governments would be forced to get back to dealing with financial, educational and health issues within their countries which they do not want to do.

In closing, I believe the issues in the Middle East are not very well understood by most Americans and much of Europe is very anti conflict and therefore has taken on this idea of appeasement is the way to end all conflicts.  In fact, I believe this conflict is best ended with military action and just as the US discovered a while back that you don’t negotiate with terrorists the world has to recognize that this is the same policy you need to have with extremists groups such as Hamas.  Lastly, I think the media has done a huge disservice by miss reporting on the issues and the nature of the conflict and with this actually fueling the conflict.  I realize my views may be a bit extreme for the majority of our readers but I will try and demonstrate their merits in future more specific articles.

Enjoy,

Peter Rabbit