how the world sees america

Hezbollah, Her Protector

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BEIRUT - Last weekend Amena N. took me through her home in Haret Hreik, a predominantly Shia part of town in the southern suburbs of Beirut. With days to go until the presidential elections, she complained that America would rather break Lebanon's fragile democracy in two than respect her political party -- Hezbollah.

"When America calls us terrorists," Amena says, "I lose hope for the U.S….I support Hezbollah, my family does too…but we do not want war."

There is no clear threshold between the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut and the rest of the city. As you drive south, the buildings just move closer together, the piles of rubble stack up, and the wires between apartments grow more densely intertwined.

Unexpected images pop up. A Kentucky Fried Chicken and then a poster of Ayatollah Khomeini; a Microsoft-authorized testing center, then a poster of a Hezbollah tank under which the words "Israeli Destroyer" are printed. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah appears on doors, over alleyways, and on towering buildings.

Before I can start filming, I have to go through the Hezbollah Press Office, situated in a shopping area above a women's fashion store. A plump lady asks me about my project and reviews my credentials. She knows Amena's family, which makes the approval process relatively painless. Amena is a twenty-three-year-old masters student in communications engineering at the American University of Beirut. And Amena's father is a Shia Islamic scholar who believes strongly in pan-Islamism, and supports Hezbollah fully.

Regardless, I'm appointed a "minder" who's supposed to make sure I don't film anything deemed sensitive. This includes the traffic police (who are provided by Hezbollah, not the Lebanese state), the site of Hassan Nasrallah's charred old house, and close-ups of Hezbollah party members.

Amena takes me to the site where her apartment once stood. In the July War of 2006 it was flattened by Israeli bombs. While the Lebanese government reeled from the strikes, and the international community stayed back, Hezbollah stepped in and paid for a full year of rent for her family, she claims. Now Hezbollah is helping finance the reconstruction of the entire apartment building. Huge signs tower among dozens of cranes and hundreds of hard-hatted workers that read, "We will build it better than before."

Hezbollah_Reconstruction.jpg
Reconstructing in the evening.

How can this party, which rescued her family in times of hardship, and which claims adherents from her family and her close friends be a "terrorist group" for America? she asks me.

I bring up the abduction of Israeli soldiers that ostensibly precipitated the July War. She calls it legitimate resistance. And when I push, her voice quivers and she turns to what she knows: her family, her friends, her coffee-vendor with an image of a "martyred" soldier on the window -- all people who turn to the party when they feel most powerless.

"We all support Hezbollah and we all really share the values of the Americans too -- we all believe in peace, loving life, in education,” she said. “But we need safety and rights too."

We walked past the hall where Hassan Nasrallah used to speak. Amena had listened to him there: "When you hear him you feel you are strong, you feel you are right," she says.

"What about reports that Iran has written Hezbollah a blank check to rebuild the southern suburbs?"

Amena tackles this with force: "It's not true. Any of the money that comes through Iran or wherever [is passed along] directly by people paying Zakat," she says, referring to the obligatory charitable donations required of all Muslims.

Amena says that "defending Lebanon against Israel," is her main interest and she believes America is curbing Hezbollah in order to advance the interests of Israel.

“It is not time for Hezbollah to disarm yet. We need them for security from Israel," she says.

Amena also objects to what she believes is American meddling in her country’s affairs. Nasrallah, “describes many American interferences…like the ambassador of America making visits to many politicians these days….It's offensive. How come he [the U.S. ambassador] thinks himself eligible to be part of our political life?" Her pride is hurt. "Lebanon is for us to decide.”

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Tantor:

Maybe the reason we Americans see Hezbollah as a terror organization is its insistence that its advantage is that it loves death while its opponents love life. That's about as pithy a mission statement of pure evil as you can get. We'd rather be on the side of the life-lovers.

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Here is an article that shows what we are up against. It shows how Barack Obama executed his abrupt flip flop on Palestinian support when he began his campaign for a US Senate seat from Illinois:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article6619.shtml

How Barack Obama learned to love Israel

Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 4 March 2007

...“In 2000, when Obama unsuccessfully ran for Congress I heard him speak at a campaign fundraiser hosted by a University of Chicago professor. On that occasion and others Obama was forthright in his criticism of US policy and his call for an even-handed approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”…

…“But Obama's gradual shift into the AIPAC camp had begun as early as 2002 as he planned his move from small time Illinois politics to the national scene. In 2003, Forward reported on how he had "been courting the pro-Israel constituency." He co-sponsored an amendment to the Illinois Pension Code allowing the state of Illinois to lend money to the Israeli government. Among his early backers was Penny Pritzker -- now his national campaign finance chair -- scion of the liberal but staunchly Zionist family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain. (The Hyatt Regency hotel on Mount Scopus was built on land forcibly expropriated from Palestinian owners after Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967). He has also appointed several prominent pro-Israel advisors.”…

…“If disappointing, given his historically close relations to Palestinian-Americans, Obama's about-face is not surprising. He is merely doing what he thinks is necessary to get elected and he will continue doing it as long as it keeps him in power.”…

“Only if enough people know what Obama and his competitors stand for, and organize to compel them to pay attention to their concerns can there be any hope of altering the disastrous course of US policy in the Middle East. It is at best a very long-term project that cannot substitute for support for the growing campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions needed to hold Israel accountable for its escalating violence and solidifying apartheid.”

It is clear to me that our only hope for an honest government is campaign reform with total taxpayer financing of political campaigns. All lobbying must be totally banned.

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I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well. But it was interesting!

Elevate:

Ok Rick I admit the water thing gets me a bit that is just well wrong the Palestinians should get enough water to survive that is just plain wrong of the Jews and is undefendable. Point to you if ultimatley it is true (for I have a hard time believing anything coming out of the area and take both sides bashing of the other with a grain of salt - and the UN holds about as much weight with me if not less - the US report gets me a bit more). But even if it is true and they are taking 80% of the water it doesn't change the fact that things won't change there and in my eyes won't for a very long time (credit that to Vic because he is right forever is the wrong way to look at the situation) and with the Jews facing a theoretical genocide of their own on all sides of the map who are we to sit by and let them get wiped off the map. And make no mistake they could make it a lot harder on the Palestinians then they do for they have the firepower and will of their citizens to do it if push comes to shove. I know that you will say that you don't want them to get wiped off the map you want them to come here but that could easily be said of the Palestinians also. They could just as easily go to one of the many Arab countries there but they won't take them because they (the Arab countries) want to keep them there so that they can live in misery and kill the Jews without having the messy job of trying to do it themselves (once again because they would get whooped). I find this to be just as offensive as you find the US and League of Nations setting up the Jewish state. Not to mention that it is a lacking argument because neither peoples wants to go anywhere. As for the two peoples here that we illegally got our land from we took it with force just like the Israelis are ultimatley going to have to take their land from their enemies. And even if it happened tomm. that all the Jews in Israel decided to leave and go wherever the Palestinians would still be slaughtered but this time by some Arab nation that wanted the land for themselves, for all the "help" they gave during the resistance of the occupation (this is proved by the fact that a couple of the Arab nations that were involved in the 6 or 7 Day War [depending on how you count] still hold "Palestinian" land as their own for "helping" out after Isreal gave the land back). And where would the UN be then? Nowhere, because #1 they are a paper tiger with no teeth, #2 they wouldn't care they would just be happy that the Jewish thing was taken care of and #3 and probably most importantly when was the last time an Arab nation (or any nation besides the EU)really listened to the UN (a member state or not) that didn't want to? I just don't see peace anywhere anytime soon for anybody in that area of the woods. You may see it as pessimism I see it as reality. I find your argument for the Jews to come here to hold as much validity as Vic's eternal optimism that peace will reign between the two, both great ideas but not realistic in my eyes or the eyes of the people involved in the conflict.

Vic I think that the Holocaust and the genocide that the Jews face now are pretty much the same the only difference is that the Jews can now defend themselves where is WWII they couldn't because they didn't have the means. And ultimatley I don't see why they shouldn't when (as I see it) everytime they try and let peace come about the Palestinians start up at some point because they feel they have been sleighted or are manipulated by another Arab country to do something that provokes the Jews. It isn't the Jews who start the hostilities it is the Palestinians (and other Arab nations). As far as looking for a scapegoat I see it as assingning blame where blame is do. I will concied the fact that "cooler" heads will prevail though those "cooler" heads will come at the end of a gun barrel (like just about every other "peace" process). So your right they will eventually get to peace but not after many many many more years of bloodshed. I am not sure those are the cooler heads that you are looking for but those are the ones that I see rising to the top of the mountain. And I just want to point out the reason that the Germans aren't killing the Jews today does not have anything to do with cooler heads prevailing it has to do with the fact that the Allied countries forced them to change by killing a whole bunch of Nazis and ripping from them their charismatic leader and once again I don't think these are the cooler heads that you refer to. The only problem I see is that ultimatley it is all of the Palestinians that want to kill them (at least 98.9%) and killing as many as it would take to accomplish peace would make the Jews "Nazis" and they don't want to be that (rightfully so). The Israelis are not the ones that want to wipe people off the planet (now like every free society you do have your nut jobs who would do this if they had the backing but what are you going to do) it is the Jews who face this reality wherever they go - even in the Western Civilizations there are those who would wipe out the Jews albeit in a much lower percentage but there nonetheless. At least while they have Israel within those borders they don't face genocide from eachother and for that reason right there I think they have every right to defend that hope and land any way they need to.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Here is the 2nd of two articles in the WP this week about the exhumation in Washington D.C. and reburial in Israel of Theodore Herzl’s grandson.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/05/AR2007120502025_pf.html

Here is the link to the 1st.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/29/AR2007112902368_pf.html

This is the tragic story of the Zionists’ greatest hero. The first article mentions in passing what an incredible simpleton Herzl was. It never occurred to him that the Palestinians would not readily give up their land and welcome the invading Zionists with open arms.

"Historians and others still sift through Herzl's writings and see many legacies. They note that he envisioned a Jewish state where people spoke not Hebrew, but German; that he and other early Zionists failed to understand Arab nationalism; and that in a utopian novel Herzl wrote, he describes a binational, egalitarian state."

From the 2nd article:

“Sixty years after jumping off a bridge to his death, the last descendant of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, was buried Wednesday in a Jerusalem cemetery bearing his grandfather's name _ bringing an end to a torturous family saga and finally fulfilling Herzl's century-old will.

Herzl's son also committed suicide. He had a daughter who was mentally ill and another who was killed in the Holocaust. In the past year, three of the founder's four descendants have been buried in Israel_ no easy task because of rabbinical injunctions against Jewish burials for those who have killed themselves or converted to other religions.”...

"His vision was realized, and now there is an exemplary nation," said Liora Herzl, the great-granddaughter of Herzl's cousin. But she noted that Zionism's founder left behind a broken, cash-strapped family. "He was completely consumed with his commitment to the Zionist idea, and his family ultimately paid the price for that."

“Norman was the lone family member committed to Herzl's Zionist cause. He read about his grandfather's work and was active in his movement.”

So here we have the idealist Zionist simpleton who is the principal founder responsible for the incredible mess we have in the Middle East today. The question for us to unravel is: what are we going to do about it?

Clearly, the rightful owners of the land of Palestine are in no mood to welcome the Zionist invaders with open arms and they continue to demand the return of their land. The USA is stuck with the consequences of its incredibly poor judgment in siding with the Zionists on this issue.

We are stuck with only two very unattractive options that I can see:

1. Continue with the present approach of funding (with my tax dollars) the slow genocide of the Palestinian people through the denial of their basic human rights and dignity. This is a fate worse than death as evidenced by the tasteless joke of the occasional exploding Muslim. The Israelis confiscate most of the West Bank water, to the point that Palestinians do not even have what the UN and the US government both regard as the minimum necessary to sustain human life, while Jewish settlers - accustomed to living in their native Europe or America - water grass lawns and fill swimming pools with water taken from under the feet of the Palestinians, while the Palestinians are rarely allowed to drill wells.

2. Admit what horrendous mistakes were made by the League of Nations in the 20th century with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the UN Partition of Palestine in 1947 and correct them. How do we correct them? Restore the original pre-1947 boundary of the map of Palestine, go back to the single state solution, recognize the Palestinian Refugee right of return, form a UN mandate to control the allocation of water and enforce the peace. The Israeli planes, tanks, ships and nuclear weapons and all Palestinian arms would be destroyed.

To my mind the 2nd option is the clear choice. What are the odds of this happening? I would say not so good; it is very difficult to admit when one has made a mistake.

Vic van Meter:

Elevate, cooler heads always prevail, you just can't hope for them in the moment when you're screaming at the top of your lungs for a scapegoat. You point to the Holocaust as a sign of no one standing up. You're not mentioning a couple differences about the conflict. Israel is surrounded by people who don't like them, but they aren't completely innocent in this situation. I mean, there is certainly latent hatred of Jews in the area, but they aren't doing themselves any favors when they take Hezbollah's bait and bulldoze houses when they "withdraw". In the Holocaust, the Jews were simply living and minding their own business when a charismatic leader swept into power and ordered their destruction when he needed a scapegoat to Germany's poverty.

There are certainly similarities. Certainly, leaders of anti-Israel terrorist groups have pointed out the same mentality and use the Jews as an excuse for their own problems. Unfortunately, they aren't entirely incorrect this time. Though it's a self-perpetuated cycle, the Israeli's are pushing up on one side of the wargear while the Palestinians are pulling down from the other side. Though Jews are blamed and the Jews aren't really to blame, the government of Israel is nominally Jewish and is guilty of a few slights and crimes that the organizers on the other side are also using to avoid the total anti-Semetic label. It's a big difference from Hitler, who killed the Jews in his country with his people's tacit approval, to the terrorists who attack a Jewish country for crimes of the courts. Not that both aren't monsters, but they're certainly different flavors of monster.

I'm saying cooler heads will prevail, but we might be waiting for a while. The reason it hasn't happened yet goes back to the idea that both sides are rolling that wheel of war. We've seen the Israeli's stop and the Palestinians keep bombing them. We've seen Palestinian reluctance followed by Israeli bombings. For peace to occur, both sides are going to have to stop at once, or that wheel will keep on rolling. And there just aren't powerful enough leaders on either side to stop the momentum, nor are there many outside the conflict who can step in and make them stop. But to say they will NEVER come is simply not realistic. It's not likely to happen tomorrow, but Germany today certainly isn't killing the Jewish people anymore. The Egyptians and Jordanians have both signed peace treaties with Israel to normalize relations.

Time is on peace's side. Eventually, something happens when someone truly courageous stands up and calls for a truce. Definitely not going to be any of the stooges in office right now, but time works in the favor of peace.

Who knows, maybe a hundred and fifty years from now, Israel will hate America with every fire of its being and will be helping its Syrian neighbors financially. You can always talk about the past, but memories can be very short when you're done shooting. And just because it hasn't happened yet doesn't mean it's impossible. It's just hard to stop a wheel that's already rolling. Luckily, all it just takes a few strong hands and a lot of time and energy. But peace will happen there, even if it doesn't happen in some of our lifetimes.

Probably if, for nothing else, than it's just costing way too much to keep both sides killing each other for everyone involved. Eventually, the anti-West, anti-Muslim, and anti-Israel mileage will be spent. And then we'll need some other war somewhere to keep us all occupied, watching our TVs and reading our newspapers.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Hello Vic and Elevate,

I agree with Elevate, Vic’s passionate hope for peace is admirable. Unfortunately, I also agree with Elevate that it just aint going to happen.

I disagree with Elevate that the Greenies are just a bunch of money grubbing phonies. They have the right idea and we had best start listening before it’s too late.

Elevate makes a great point about how we should give America back to the Native Americans and Mexicans, given my insistence that the Israelis return Palestine to the Palestinians. I hear that a lot on these boards, as expected given my unconventional views.

The only defense that I have been able to come up with is that the Mexicans and Indians appear to be resigned to the situation. At least they are no longer fighting us. Of course there aren’t that many of the Indians left, since we darned near wiped them off the face of the earth. The Mexicans have decided that it’s better to join us and get a piece of the good life. They will just invade us via immigration (legally or not) and let the demographics of population explosion help take over the country for them.

That is not an option for the Palestinians, who still outnumber the Israeli invaders. The apartheid, theocratic, “State of Israel” will never be over run by illegal Palestinian immigrants. In fact, they will probably teach us how to keep out the Mexican illegal immigrants by building a wall around the country.

The Palestinians will never accept the illegitimate “State of Israel” on Palestinian land, nor should they. Here is an interesting site glorifying the Israeli technological marvel and helps explain why the Israelis love us, and the Palestinians hate us. That’s not a good thing; the Palestinians should hate us.

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/america/2007/12/israel_silicon_valley_entrepreneur.html

Yup, Israel is a technological marvel. That’s why the Israelis need to hog 80% of the Palestinian’s water supply.

http://www.fmep.org/analysis/articles/water_policy_maher.html

…“According to recommended standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), a minimum of 100 liters a day per capita are needed for balanced and healthy domestic consumption in rural households. In contrast, BâeTselem, the Israeli human rights organization, documents that Israeli per capita consumption of water already reaches 350 l/day, about five-times Palestinian consumption. Per capita consumption of water in Israeli settlements, most of which are strategically located directly above main water extraction sources, can reach even higher levels, estimated at seven-fold the Palestinian consumption rate. In contrast, Palestinian consumption rates per capita vary between 35-80 l/d, well below WHO and USAID recommendations, and in some communities, water consumption can dip to as low as 7 l/d under certain conditions…”

So Israel confiscates most of the West Bank water, to the point that Palestinians there do not even have what the UN and the US government both regard as the minimum necessary to sustain human life, while Jewish settlers - accustomed to living in their native Europe or America - water grass lawns and fill swimming pools with water taken from under the feet of the Palestinians, while the Palestinians are rarely allowed to drill wells.

So you Israelis go ahead and live well at the expense of your oppressed neighbors on your stolen land. My government will guarantee the continuation of your illegal existence and fund your atrocious behavior with billions of my tax dollars. Live long and prosper, until the world wakes up and puts a stop to your despicable treatment of the rightful owners of your stolen land.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

The Iranians and Israelis can relax. We have no plan to end our dependence on Middle East oil any time soon.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/opinion/05friedman.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

December 5, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Intercepting Iran’s Take on America

By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

There are two intelligence analyses that are relevant to the balance of power between the U.S. and Iran — one is the latest U.S. assessment of Iran, which certainly gave a much more complex view of what is happening there. The other is the Iranian National Intelligence Estimate of America, which — my guess — would read something like this:

To: President Ahmadinejad

From: The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence

Subject: America

As you’ll recall, in the wake of 9/11, we were extremely concerned that the U.S. would develop a covert program to end its addiction to oil, which would be the greatest threat to Iranian [and Israeli] national security. In fact, after Bush’s 2006 State of the Union, in which he decried America’s oil addiction, we had “high confidence” that a comprehensive U.S. clean energy policy would emerge. We were wrong.

Our fears that the U.S. was engaged in a covert “Manhattan Project” to achieve energy independence have been “assuaged.” America’s Manhattan Project turns out to be largely confined to the production of corn ethanol in Iowa, which, our analysts have confirmed from cell phone intercepts between lobbyists and Congressmen, is nothing more than a multibillion-dollar payoff to big Iowa farmers and agro-businesses…

Elevate:

First an apology from me I didn't mean to be away from the discussion for so long but life kind of got in the way of computer time. So sorry.

Rick - I will concied the fact that it is very good that the Google persons are getting involved with alternative energy. I like you believe that this is a good step to possible energy independence. This is a good thing as long as they keep it a private matter and don't let politics get in the way, for we all know that the Feds will only mess things up. As for the "Greenies" that you mention I believe that they are nothing but money grubbing Anti-techies who will find something wrong with everything that comes out of the movement anyway. Look who is making the most off of the Global Warming scare anyway it is mostly Greenie people and the politicians who back them. They have tied an alarmist movement into making money and policy that is going to completley collapse the economy of America - but this is also an argument for another debate. Back on subject on point two that you make that you rest with the Palestinians - under the logic that you present it sounds like we should give back the land that we live on to the American Indians and the Mexicans for we surely violated the same human rights and committed the same heinous crimes against them to have the great country that we live in today. In my eyes the great crimes are being committed by the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab nations that are calling for the destruction of the Jews - for they never even tried to live in peace with them. Those two peoples could have given each other so much but instead they kill each other without thought. Wrong on both sides of the coin but the Jews didn't just go in and start killing the Arabs the world actually wanted them to live in peace and conincide with each other. I can't fault the Jews for defending themselves against a peoples who just want their utter annialation, which in my eyes is the only thing that the Palestinians want. They wouldn't care if they just moved the hate would still be there and their hate would follow the Jewish people wherever they went. I think the Jews hate in reverse is only aslong lived as the violence against their people is. Point three I can't really comment on but to say that I kind of agree with the whole setting up of a DMZ type thing there but with a manned wall instead of mines, and as for the shifting of money I think it goes without saying that I think that a bad idea. I can't express enough that I think giving money to people who ultimatly hate us as much as they hate the Jews is a bad idea and this goes for all over the world not just there - ie Pakistan (bad idea) - but I also realize that out of neccasity somethings may need to be done to get things done. As for the PS part of your post I am not sure that will happen because the Arabs realize that the first thing that happens to them if the level Tel Aviv is that we will show our own commitment in the region and to the Jewish people and for all their posturing on their side they know they do not want us over there in force because they would get creamed and at that point it will be with the backing of the majority of the citizens of this country because we love the Jews and we would view an attack of that magnitude on the Jewish state as almost a direct attack on us (this I truly believe with all my heart).

Vic - I honestly hope that you are correct and that cooler heads can prevail but I think that is nothing but the hope of an eternal optimist - a great quality in your personality but not a realistic point of view as far as I am concerned. Ask your self where the cooler heads were in WWII when the Nazis killed 6 million people and the German people did what? Nothing they did nothing to stop them. This is one of the memories that drives the Jewish people, they are surrounded by people who want to wipe them off the face of the planet - not make peace with them - for God's sake they are strapping bombs onto their own sons so that they can blow up other people. I don't think that they really care about the loss of life (on their side or the other side) as long as they can kill Jews. And while I sincerly hope that cooler heads can overcome and live in peace I think that those same cooler heads would like nothing else but to get rid of the Jews also albeit with less bloodshed maybe but annialation none the less. I don't believe that peace is what they want so there will never be peace there. And even if I am wrong and they do accomplish peace between themselves you still have how many other Arab countries to deal with? Just to much for cooler heads to overcome I fear. And yes you will always have one or two people on the side of the "enemy" who will lament over the fact that his or her side is doing wrong and try and help (ie a Schindler) but they alone can not overcome hatred (as sad as that is). As for the answer to your last question I don't think that the bearers of peace will be walking over dead bodies to shake hands because ultimatley I don't really belive that the Palestians want peace and if they do they view "peace" as the utter annialation of the Jews. Sad but this is what I see. As for world opinion having any bearing on the situation we only have to look at what how many decades of berating both sides has accomplished for world opinion - a whole bunch of nothing. Again sad but true no matter what comes out of a peace agreement nothing changes (except maybe the Jews have to give something up).

Once again I want to apologize to both of you for being gone for so long - please respond because I find both of your arguments compelling and enlightening for even if I don't agree you are giving me different views of looking at the situation that I would not have thought of myself.

Thank you Elevate

Vic van Meter:

You know Rick, I've brought that up before somewhere. I've always enjoyed the thought of turning Israel into a mine-surrounded no-man's land. That would be the scariest place on Earth, then.

Again, I'll have to reiterate a point I bring up VERY often when someone talks about shifting aid to Palestine. The reason Israel gets more money than Palestine is pretty simple, actually. The Israelis like us more. Whatever else is coming up in the debate, the Palestinians support their sponsors and Israel supports its own. The obvious reason Israel gets more money is because they are, politically speaking, pro-West. Palestine is, generally speaking, not. The terrorist organizations are not just anti-Israel, they are also anti-West. Not exactly a surprise, and not that it's inexplicable. But since Israel's foreign policy is focused on us and being as nice to us as possible, and because Palestine's is one of not trusting us because Israel is always kissing up to us (both of which are pretty accurate) Israel is more of our friend and Palestine is a distant person we know doesn't like us but has to work with us anyway.

Thus Israel gets more money. We give more money to people who like us. Shrug it off. That's how it happens. You wouldn't help out people who didn't like you very much as well as you'd help people who are your friends either.

And Elevate, I think cooler heads ALWAYS prevail. It takes time, and yes, that means more time than we've already given it. Enough people have to die on both sides to make peace an absolute necessity. people don't very often in history kill each other to death. Often enough they realize they're both suffering too much and finally come to a truce. I doubt the killing will continue for too long.

The questions you need to be asking yourself are: first off how can we facilitate peace by making it a more respected, popular, and viable option, second how we can include urgency behind that proposal so that it happens more quickly, and finally how many more people have to die on both sides before they approach their limits. Eventually, they will. When people live in fear, they vote for the people who stress aggressive defense. When they live in horror, they vote for people who promise peace. Unfortunately, both the Israelis and Palestinians are living in fear. They're deathly afraid of each other, and until their horror at grisled death scenes and bomb craters overcomes their fear of these things, you aren't likely to achieve peace.

But eventually, horror wins. It's all glory and honor until you've seen a charred pregnant woman. The rest of the world has pretty much seen enough of this stuff coming out of an Israel and Palestine bickering like small children. But Israel and Palestine apparently have some pretty strong stomachs for unholy carnage and are willing to take a little more. You've got to get those people in office, people who've seen the horror of murder so much that it has overcome fear and hate.

Eventually, we see things so diabolical, so violent, so miserable, that we eventually say that enough is enough. Freakishly enough, the world's most bloodthirsty people might be Palestinians and Israelis because neither has shown much resolve to curtail the policies mauling their own civilian populations. But it will eventually happen. Enough blood will be shed to stuff the vultures full of carrion and peace will come.

The last question has to be: how many dead bodies will the bearers of peace have to walk across to shake hands? Because the road to peace in that area is going to be littered with the dismembered bodies of the dead. So don't be disheartened by the hate you're seeing between both sides. Eventually, everyone gets sick of blood. In Israel and Palestine people are just a little less likely to be turned away from ongoing conflict by the sight of the dead cost of the conflicts they ask for. Give it time. Those numbers are going to stack up until peace isn't just the most logical option, it's the only option.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Elevate,

Good post and thanks for the reply:

1. “We can't let them go at it because that will disrupt our oil supply (one of the reasons if not the main reason we are so interested in the region).”

Excellent point; you are exactly right. That’s why we need to develop alternate energy sources to end our dependence on Middle East (and other, including domestic) sources of oil. The Greenies are right; damaging our environment is not required. Thankfully, the Google geniuses are now getting into this big time, so expect major advances in this area soon. See my previous post on November 28, 2007 8:44 AM.

2. “The Jewish people have done and continue to do a lot for this country... So ask yourself where would your loyalties lie?”

My sympathies lie with the oppressed Palestinians. No amount of contribution to our society or lobbying (purchasing) of our politicians can justify the illegal theft of Palestinian homes and land and atrocious oppression of basic human rights and dignity that has been and continues to be perpetrated on the Palestinians with the aid of my tax dollars.

3. “As for the North and South Korea example I believe that the DMZ and the largest landmine field in the world has a lot to do with the peace over there.”

Another excellent point; maybe we should surround Israel with an equivalent DMZ and police it with UN or US forces. It would serve a similar function as the Israeli wall, but would divide the land more equitably between Israel and Palestine. The water supply would also be UN controlled and equitably distributed between the two sides. Our billions of dollars of foreign aid would be shifted from Israel to Palestine until their economy recovers to a point equal to Israel’s.

Thanks again for the post; you are clearly an honest broker and great thinker. Now all we have to do is convince our geniuses in Washington D.C.

P.S.:

Unfortunately, after a moment of euphoric optimism, reality sets in and we realize that this approach is also doomed to failure. The hard liners of the region will never permit the “State of Israel” to remain on Arab land, nor should they. With the advent of the modern Cruise Missile that is low flying, GPS guided and impervious to radar detection, it is only a matter of time until downtown Tel Aviv and other major Israeli targets are flattened. Russia, Iran, Pakistan or someone will give or sell these weapons to the Arabs. They could but won’t use nuclear warheads because they want the land to remain habitable. They can be programmed to fly various land hugging profiles, approach from multiple directions, and no one will know where they came from.

Elevate:

Vic - I agree that the peaceful people do exist and they probably will be considered the cooler heads that you speak of no argument there. My main point is that they will never and I reiterate, never overcome the hatred that the main populace of both peoples feel for each other over there in the Middle East. Is that unfortunate? You bet, but at the same time for everyone of the cooler heads you have 1 or 2 thousand that are spewing hatred and breeding it in the respected societies (and yes the Jews do this also just not to the extent that the Arabs do). As for Annapolis I would have liked nothing better then something worth while to come from it. As with the mass exodus of Jews to America though I don't think that I will hold my breath. Maybe I am just being pessimistic but I honestly don't think that peace is possible there. As for the North and South Korea example I believe that the DMZ and the largest landmine field in the world has a lot to do with the peace over there. North can't send "terrorists" into the South to blow themselves up like the Arabs are in Israel. And if North sarts a war over there they will get waxed by us and I don't think at this point China would have to much to say against it (I maybe wrong on that point though I will admit). My last point would be to say that to defend yourself is not to be a terrorist. To be a terrorist is to strap a bomb on yourself and blow up in the middle of a cafe or on a bus (which I want to point out the Jews have plotted of once that I know of probably more but the Jewish society caught them and threw them in jail while the Pal. people look the other way). And I know the age old argument that it is the only way they can fight back or they are called "freedom fighters". But if they were actually out for a peacful existence then wouldn't they let the cooler heads prevail? I think they would but they only want the destruction of the Jews and that is all that will make them happy. In that outlook they don't care for peace or the politics to get there they will only use terror to kill as many people as possible. They even kill their own people who do not agree with them - I ask you is that a people of peace? I don't think so. At the same time I will admit that the Jews are not as innocent as I am making them sound - I just believe that if given the honest option to live in peace with the Muslims they would - the Muslims are the ones who want nothing but the destruction of the Jewish people not the Jews wanting the utter destruction of the Muslims. In my eyes it isn't about peace to them it is about the eradication of the Jews and until that view in the Muslim community changes then peace has no chance. As for the Jews hatred - I think that it would pass if the Muslims quit killing them for trying to just live.

Rick - The first thing that I will say is that I no less then nothing about Economics (accept I wish I made more) so sorry I can't comment on that except to say I wish we didn't borrow so much from ANYONE - China or not. As for letting them have at each other as you put it is an obvious one to all who are posting here - oil. We can't let them go at it because that will disrupt our oil supply (one of the reasons if not the main reason we are so interested in the region). Now that could be offset if we overruled the Green Movement fanatics that won't let us drill or build in our own country but that is a totally different argument. So as it is we need to do what we can to stabalize that area of the world because they don't encounter the same enviro freaks that we have here (or if they do they don't care about them). As for being policemen I think that if we really trying that role we would be doing something in Darfur and other humanitarinan crisis areas like that. Don't fool yourself we are not being policemen we are looking out for our nations intrestes and oil in the Middle East is one of those at this time. As is the state of Israel because the Jews have a bunch of power and money that they give to our society here in America. They have one of (if not the most) powerful policy lobbies in DC. Now depending on how you look at it that is a good or bad thing but that is why we are meddling in that affair and giving the Jews over there so much. The Jewish people have done and continue to do a lot for this country. Not to say that the Arabs don't contribute but it really is like comparing apples and oranges when it comes to contributions to the USA. So ask yourself where would your loyalties lie?

Vic van Meter:

Rick, I'm assuming you're being sarcastic about giving the Palestinians our best technologies. Are you looking for a Middle Eastern showdown like some kind of football game?

Besides, we're not borrowing billions of dollars a year for the Israelis. We're borrowing so much because Bush cut taxes, fought two wars (one they started, one we definitely started), increased runaway spending, and never found another source of revenue. This isn't one you can pin on our financial support of other nations. Just because Israel is at the top of our list doesn't mean there aren't other nations doing the same thing. Israel gets the most because they publicly like us so much. We aren't giving, say, Palestine as much money because Hamas doesn't like us much anyway. Why would we give them more money?

Our spending habits increased on the wars and absolutely exploded domestically, but you can pin that borrowing right on the man in office right now. His tax cuts ruined the government's ability to pay the debts back. It's not his generation, the generation of boomers now in control of our electorate, that will pay them back. It's my generation, those of us just finishing college, who are supposed to foot the bill for Iraq. It's why, suddenly, the Democrats are the party to go to for fiscal responsibility. Sure, the Dems will spend like it's going out of style, but they at least cover the expenses and budget. Bush has strangled our economy all on his lonesome. Israel's a completely seperate issue. We supported Israel just fine through the Clinton administration when, finally, all our numbers were in the black.

That's why I'll not vote for any president who says they won't raise taxes. I'm prepared to pay more taxes. We need to increase revenues. I'd like to see the beureaucracy reduced, but the government never seems to shrink. So for a little bit of a tangent, if you're concerned about our borrowing habits, it's not Israel that's our problem. Iraq is our biggest problem, and it's become a vast pit for our resources that, due to Iraqi infighting, are seeing very few political results.

But back on the subject, you've made the mistake of selecting a point in time in Israel when the Jews were a minority population. If you go back farther in the past, all sorts of nations, including the Jews, owned that chunk of dirt. Today, Jews own that chunk of dirt. I could point in the past to all sorts of people that have owned that chunk of dirt and called for a return to the landowners. Even European Christians owned that piece of crust at one point. Are you trying to say that, when the Christians came and wiped out the Muslim population of Jerusalem, that now the Christians can go back and claim it as their own? Because it was the majority?

If Israel had been formed a year ago, that was the time to talk about who belonged there before. The mandate of Palestine was given something like eighty years ago. So any shot at who SHOULD own the land is moot. A lot of people have conquered the Holy Land. The Palestinians aren't any different from any other person on that patch of dust except for the time they were there.

So let's cut the crap already about that.

And Elevate, just because the partisans are loudest doesn't mean cooler heads don't exist. They just aren't quite loud enough. Did you read Bakshi's last post about a Palestinian working through civic organizations to combat the injustices he sees in the system? That's a cooler head. He doesn't have to LIKE Israel or America, but he's chosen to work peacefully and positively to better the Palestinian people. That kind of action doesn't often get a lot of the praise it deserves. A lot of people are only interested when the Israelis or Palestinians are painting their streets red. But that man is the hope of a Palestinian and Israeli future both. He's just one of the cooler heads that can fix the situation, if only people would listen.

But when we talk about peace, it's boring. We want to talk about war. We love to talk about the slaughter, mass deportation, "legitimate resistance", "defensive measures", and so on. It's all you ever hear about. A lot of people don't give peace an arguement because, quite frankly, we don't think it's newsworthy. Everyone had already dismissed the Annapolis Convention before it ever began for a lot of reasons. Often legitimate ones. But you can't simply strike down the peace process because Bush is an opportunist who needs a better public image. You can't laugh it out of an arguement because the Israelis and Palestinians both refuse to compromise. You have to say that, even though it's not likely, if North and South Korea can live without major hostilities for so long with each other, then so can Israel and Palestine.

But why talk constructively towards peace? That doesn't earn you any points in the debate. It doesn't get your name pointed out often when you speak constructively towards a safer world. It doesn't make you popular in the area because so many people have gained so much power by fighting one another that it seems foolish to try otherwise. Even on this board, everyone tries to line up on Israel or Palestine's side and ask who the terrorist is.

Because we have a hard time looking at the mirror and saying, "Every time I dismiss peace, I am the terrorist." And every single man and woman in that region who stands on one side of the valley or another and points there finger is the very person who perpetuates the violence. And the only real heroes are the men and women who walk into the range of rifles to meet in the middle and shake hands.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Elevate:

Thanks for the reply.

“...As for being absent for 2 millenia there were always pockets of Jews in the Middle East - always have been and always will be...”

Agreed, but at the turn of the 20th century Jews were 2% of the population of Palestine. That’s what it should be now. Just like the good ole US of A, no illegal unwanted immigrants are allowed.

“...We think solving the issue of the Muslims and Jews is hard wait until we have to try and maintain peace between those two or is nobody going to care about that? I don't know just an observation and question to explore on the post...”

Agreed again, but I say that we are not the world’s policeman. We should just sit back and let the Sunnis and Shiites have at each other. We should also do the same with the Palestinians and Israelis.

Here’s another question to explore on the post:

Why do we borrow billions of dollars from the Chinese each year to give to the Israelis? Why don’t we terminate all aid to Israel and let them support themselves? Why don’t we borrow billions of dollars from the Chinese each year to give to the Palestinians for the next 60 years to even the score. While we are at it, we can give them access to our best military hardware.

Elevate:

Rick - I am glad that you love the Jews and embrace them. So do I. That still does not change the fact that they will not leave, nor do we have the right to tell them they should. I am also all for asking them to come of their own free will if they want to but I would not expect a flood of new Jews in this country if I was you. As for the Palestinians you are correct in believing that I pity them. I do to a certain extent but on a whole (as I see it) are not interested in living in any semblence of peace with the Israelis they appear to be hell bent on their demise. Their leaders talk a good game but everytime they get something from the Jews they continue to shoot rockets or board buses and blow themselves up along with many innocent people with them. As for being absent for 2 millenia there were always pockets of Jews in the Middle East - always have been and always will be. Just because they were persucuted and not in the ruling class - you know its kind of hard when the ruling religion beheads those who do not believe in the same thing that they do - does not mean they were "gone". That land is just as holy to the Jews as it is to the Muslims (more so if you ask me) so what gives the Muslims any more right to it then the Jews?

Vic - I am sorry if anything I posted struck you as Anti-Semetic. Honestly. That was not my intention. As for Lebanon I think that we basically agree that it could have been a lot worse. I was just saying that Israel showed restraint because they could have leveled that entire country like they did that border - and in my eyes would have been completly justified to do so. Tragic? Yes loss of innocent life is always tragic. Within their rights? Yes again for the fact that those "innocent" people did not stand up for themselves and stop the terrorists from provoking a nation that could destroy them. And I ask this why didn't they? I think it is because the "innocent" people of Lebanon want the same thing that Hezbollha wants-the utter destruction of the Jewish State of Israel. Now I think that makes them not so "innocent" anymore. And yes I realize that this just propigates a circle of hate that will continue on and on but at the same time I realize that "cooler" heads won't prevail because one side (and in all actuallity probably both sides anymore)just don't have cool heads.

Think of this also. If the Muslims were not "united" in their hatred for the Jews there still would be no peace in the Middle East because the two main sects of Islam hate each other so they would be killing each other. We think solving the issue of the Muslims and Jews is hard wait until we have to try and maintain peace between those two or is nobody going to care about that? I don't know just an observation and question to explore on the post.

Vic van Meter:

It cut me off! And I used the wrong name. Sorry Westerner. That name just sticks out at me every time I read it.

Elevated broke out the Anti-Semetic rant, and I don't often agree with that label, but he's right about what he's talking about. If Israel doesn't want to go anywhere, it's not. And neither will the Palestinians. I don't think they were THAT restrained, but Israel does, actually, have international right to invade Lebanon and Palestine both for attacks across the border by terrorist organizations if those organizations are not resolved by the government. The Israelis did, actually, have free reign to conduct a conventional war.

Luckily, Israel didn't roll out the heaviest stuff and steamroll Lebanon. I don't think they were nearly as restrained as Elevated says (they were LIMITED, but they certainly took it to that border pretty heavily), but as I said, to talk about Palestinian plight as if the Palestinians are innocent of anything is wrong. Everyone in this conflict is drenched in the blood of the innocent. So don't bring the talk of our shame of the Palestinian plight. I'm just embarrassed that so many people have lined up on one side of the issue or the other and decided to try to put one people or the other on a white marble pedestal.

There is enough sin for everyone in this little off-and-on war the Israelis and Palestinians have conducted. Calling out one side as the aggressor anymore is an exercise in blame-planting. Which qualifies one to run for President of the United States, but is not the quality of a man bringing a genuine solution to a serious problem.

Vic van Meter:

Rick, that kind of understanding is why the Israelis will never leave. And why I back them. The idea that, "Yeah, you've got a point, but there's no chance. The Israelis (or Palestinians, depending on who you are, you're just one flavor) have to go," is absolutely, old-school American-style politics of mass-decision. It's an incredibly faulty foreign policy decision to declare an ends not reached by consensus. It always seems so easy to change locations rather than change minds. But this kind of foreign policy started the Israeli mess in the first place.

So simply saying that the Israelis have to leave because, quite frankly, we ought to not spend the energy to find a solution, is a symptom of our larger problem in America. The peace has a chance, but it must be vigorously, and objectively, pushed by anyone involved. As long as Bush is paying a two-state solution lip-service for his political legacy and Achmadinejad is building the majority of his political support from ranting against Israel and America, we'll have the same politics of force we've seen for years. In part, the whole reason peace has never been achieved is because we have never, seriously, given it a chance. Either the Israelis or Palestinians must make all of the concessions or the deal is broken.

The only way it will work is if everyone realizes the end result of every successful end to a volatile argument. Everyone must give something dear to them. Nobody walks away happy. And thirty years after the fact, hopefully, it will be part of a Chris Rock joke. But until we make it not just policy, but sound action, that Israel and Palestine cannot spend the rest of eternity simmering in war, we are going to see war.

Eventually it will happen. There are vultures on both sides feeding on the dead for political power, but eventually calmer heads shall grow sick of the violence and distrust. You can hear it echoed around in the younger generations in these countries, that foreign powers simply complicate the issue and that peace must be reached, somehow, soon. It will take a long time to finally wind down the violence, but you don't have to be anti-Israel or anti-Palestinian to have a decent opinion of the situation. I know people on both sides of the concrete barriers that are decent people who have good points. Israel's treatment of its Muslim population, out of fear of its own safety, is deplorable. Palestinian support of what amounts to a murder unit on the Israeli border is deplorable, especially to us Americans, since we've been raised to only respect the straight-out, in your face fistfight and deplore the killing from the shadows technique.

But never, EVER discount the, perhaps small, group of intelligent people in both countries with cool heads, hard souls, unconquerable conscience, and an understanding, open mind. There aren't many, but they're the most respectable people on Earth. And they'll be the people who, when they finally are elected into power, will end the cycle of violence. Never doubt the power of the world's greatest breed of men and women. Though the wind howls at the foundation, some towers shall never fall.

And these people will walk a high road above the herds of sheep-like talking heads who spit vehemence but can never think of a true, workable solution.

Westerner broke out the Anti-Semitic rant, and I don't often agree with that label,

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Elevated?

I do not hate the Jews. I embrace the Jews and want to bring them to America where they belong, with their 5.7 million brethren (as of 2002, latest survey that I could find). They certainly do not belong in the Middle East amidst the billions of Muslims who detest them, and rightly so, after the atrocities that the Zionists have perpetrated on the native Palestinians, and after being absent for nearly 2 millennia.

If the 5.0 million Israeli Jews were to come to America, this would give us 10.7 million, or 80% of the total 13.3 million Jewish worldwide population; a true homeland. We can support them; Palestine cannot. They could even take over a single state, since anyone with the price of purchase can have any property they wish in our country.

I am anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian, and enraged at the atrocities that my tax dollars are being used to enable in Palestine. I am sure that you, as a thoughtful, reasonable person are embarrassed by the plight of the Palestinians as well.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Vic,

Now we’ll get somewhere:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/technology/28google.html?pagewanted=print

Google’s Next Frontier: Renewable Energy

By BRAD STONE

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 27 — Google, the Internet company with a seemingly limitless source of revenue, plans to get into the business of finding limitless sources of energy.

The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., announced Tuesday that it intended to develop and help stimulate the creation of renewable energy technologies that are cheaper than coal-generated power.

Elevate:

Let us be frank Israel will go no where and the Arabs are going no where. They will always be at each others throats and quite honestly I am suprised that Israel stopped when they did.

For all of us Americans who are posting here lets look at this rationally.. what would we do? Say that Canada and Mexico were sitting on the borders and lobbing rockets into our cities. We can even say that it was "terrorist" groups who didn't have the backing of the "people" but those same "people" were not doing anything to stop them from provoking us because they want our destruction as much as the "terrorist" group does. What would our reaction be? I can tell you that with the backing of a HUGE majority of its citizens (as the Israeli government did) we would flatten both those countries.

So I say that to show the restraint that Israel did is amazing. We would have taken the whole country over - which may not be politically correct but when has that stopped us? And as for "world opinion" stopping Israel, I for one think that is a joke. They (like us) don't really care about "world opinion" and why should they when the cards are stacked against them from the start. Everyone screams illegal state, illegal state but not one says come live here in peace. Not that the Israelis would leave that is their home - most the only one they have ever known. It would be like someone saying that you have no right to live in America (or where ever you live) because it was taken from someone else. Countries have been formed like that throughout time - America(taken from Indians), Israel(taken from the Arabs but taken from the Jews and Christians first) blah blah blah etc etc etc. So really who has any legitimate claim to any land - no one it was all taken or given back or away at one time or another.

Now I don't know what the solution to the problem is (if there is one) but to think that either party is going anywhere is like pulling the wool over your own eyes.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Here is the best solution posted by Sam on another board @November 27, 2007 3:08 PM:

http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/hisham_melhem/2007/11/dont_expect_much_from_annapoli/all_comments.html

Sam has the best and only solution, the single-state solution, with Palestinian right of return:

“…All citizens of the new state, PALISRA (Palestine +Israel), would enjoy equal rights and bear the same responsibilities…”

Westerner:

To clarify, Israel is not dependent on oil for export the way the Saudis, Kuwait, UAE, etc. are. to generate their GDP. Israel is dependent on oil the way Japan is dependent on oil and I would definitely categorize Japan as a successful modern country.

Rick Pendler:

Agreed. There will be no peace in the Middle East unless Israel leaves.

The AIPAC funded political opinions that are popular in Washington, DC usually point to the Palestinians as the problem. They have to renounce terrorism. They have to recognize Israel. They have to do a lot of things.

That is political spin that has no bearing on or relation to reality.

The reality is that Israel holds all the cards: they control the water, they control the power, they control the borders, they control the money.

As a result, the only party that can do anything to bring about peace is Israel.

And here is what Israel has to do: recognize the elected government of the Palestinian people (that's called democracy), dismantle all settlements, return all post-1967 territory, return all rightful funds to the Palestinian government which have been withheld, dismantle the wall, allow East Jerusalem to become the capitol of a Palestinian state, and allow the right of return to Palestinian Arabs forced off their land by Jewish occupiers.

The Palestinians have no moral or legal responsibility to accomodate any of the demands of Israel because they are waging a war against illegal occupiers for their rightful homeland.

Any act of violence against the state of Israel is an act of liberation against an occupying, foreign force.

The ball is entirely in the hands of Israel if she wants peace.

Since Israel will not agree to any (nevermind all) of the above conditions, she must either leave the Middle East or eventually succumb to destruction.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Vic,

Good post and very impassioned, but I’m sorry; it just isn’t going to happen. The Israelis have to go.

Vic van Meter:

Hey Rick, let's go back to that 5$ a barrel scenario. Let's say you have the option to put up your money in small gulps in oil or one lump sum to switch to nuclear power. Twenty dollars more a tank, and those power plants will be up mighty fast.

Even liberals (Pelosi liberals, not liberals like me) will give nuclear the nod when we've been bombarded by oil prices. Americans aren't just addicted to consuming oil. We keep consuming it because it has become a part of almost every aspect of our economic balance to continue to buy it. Those oil dollars, if they disappear out of the Middle East, is certainly going to cause a little bit of turmoil (not Middle Eastern mass destruction, of course, but there's going to be some fireworks if that money gets cut). In the same way America is still buying coal even though we have nuclear power, we'll continue to buy oil as long as two things continue to happen: America keeps its oil prices low in the country to encourage consumption and it is a Middle East foreign policy decision to keep oil prices to America low.

Imagine the balance of power changing when (not if, when) America decides to go nuclear. Suddenly, you'll have to have a non-oil based economy to survive. And there just isn't movement in that direction in most countries in the old Islamic empires.

My guess is that about twenty or so years from now, America and most civilized nations will be completely electric. Oil producing nations will become oil consuming nations (and Al Gore can start complaining about the Middle East more than our own country) and will have to power their own economies through the consumption of their oil. Anyone who doesn't have an oil based economy is going to have a bright red bulls-eye painted on their chest and they'll either rise to lead the region or fall and be consumed.

We'll see how that goes.

Can I just make the comment on all the coming spitfire to just cut the talk of Israeli deportation? That's about as realistic as kicking the Muslims out of Lebanon at this point. Whatever good or bad it might do, let's just not be completely ridiculous.

This is what REALLY angers me about the Israel debate. There is one, simple, inevitable answer to the problem. The creation of a Palestinian state, the cessation of hostilities against Israel, the cessation of hostilities from Israel, and recognition of Israel by regional powers. Really! Those four things are the base of the problem! Everything else is geopolitical, but if those four things happen, THAT'S THE EASIEST SOLUTION!

But a whole lot of people have banked or built on the endless war with Israel. Israeli neocons eat and live on the idea that all their neighbors are against Israel. And as long as they're right, they're in power. All sorts of Islamic political parties on the border are worthless without an Israeli threat to counter. So a lot of people are building their fortunes on war. And they're getting help.

They're getting help from every ridiculous rhetoric posited by a sarcastic bevy of partisans who have chosen to fight gravity and belittle the situation. Of all situations, the Israeli-Palestinian situation HAS to be resolved. It absolutely HAS to be. Israel has way too much firepower to keep pointing at the heads of its neighbors and then to have its neighbors taunting them to pull the trigger. Because after enough times asking for Israel to shoot them, they will.

Are you people happy with this situation? The Israelis aren't going anywhere. The League of Nations mandate was given in, what, 1922? It's been over eighty years people! Sure, it wasn't a good idea, but it's been too long. You can't tell the Israelis to leave any more than the Palestinian Muslims anymore.

But a lot of people, especially people outside the conflict, have turned Israel into a focal point in their whole administration. Countries like, say, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, they can't make peace with Israel because everyone is so bitter about an injustice originated before they were all born. Nobody seems to figure out that there isn't really anyone ALIVE anymore old enough to remember being originally offended. Everything everyone has to complain about is a direct result of their own hostility. Islamic anger at Israel fuels all of Israel anger at the Islamic community.

So sets up the original, most dangerous and inefficient model of conlict. One side hating the other afraid to lose face and negotiate. Look at the model of American partisanship lately and you'll know why this just gums up any advancement of social change. Moderation is seen as a victory by partisans of the other side and nothing is ever really accomplished until something blows up. That's all America has been since I've been alive, domestically. A nation of people bickering over things that usually don't even concern them (abortion comes to mind, as does gay marriage) until something blows up and unites us as one, big, ugly monstrous face.

Until people pull their heads out of the dirt, stop blaming each other as the perpetrator of this conflict (because there is innocent blood on everyone's hands in this conflict), shut out their conservative warhawks, and cut a deal, people are going to die. A lot of people. In horrific ways.

So every time we ever say there won't be peace in the Middle East, let's all keep in the back of our minds that the only reason there isn't peace in the Middle East is because nobody thinks there can be. As long as we've doomed every peace process and convention to failure before it's even occurred, we're nothing but part of the war.

Sure, Bush is absolutely the worst candidate for bringing about peace right now. It's too late in his administration, he doesn't seem to care enough about reconciliation, he stands too far on the side of Israel, and he's probably just making a play on it to write a bookend on his disastrous legacy. But I'll give Condi my support even if she's got almost no chance. A glimmer of chance, any hope of success, is enough to at least give a nod to.

I mean, if the Israelis and Palestinians are at least TALKING, they're more peaceful than our own government is with Iran and Syria. The only, irresistable force is towards the two-state solution, for Israel to give back most, if not all, of its conquered lands, for recognition of the Israeli state, and for everyone to just quit shooting each other.

Peace will eventually happen. It will happen when murderers on both sides of the barrier quit filling their bellies with the blood of the dead and calling it "resistance" and "self-defense."

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Vic,

Here’s a good article on power generation and utilization. You are right, we are going electric, but can we get there in time? Today we get 50% of our energy from coal, 30% from oil and natural gas, and 20% from nuclear.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/15_1_nuclear_power.html

Why the U.S. Needs More Nuclear Power (Winter 2005)
Peter W. Huber, Mark P. Mills

“The U.S. today consumes about 100 quads—100 quadrillion BTUs—of raw thermal energy per year. We do three basic things with it: generate electricity (about 40 percent of the raw energy consumed), move vehicles (30 percent), and produce heat (30 percent). Oil is the fuel of transportation, of course. We principally use natural gas to supply raw heat, though it’s now making steady inroads into electric power generation. Fueling electric power plants are mainly (in descending order) coal, uranium, natural gas, and rainfall, by way of hydroelectricity...

So today we use 40 percent of our fuel to power the plug, and the plug powers 60 percent of GDP. And with the ascent of microwaves, lasers, hybrid wheels, and such, we’re moving to 60 and 80 percent, respectively, soon; and then, in due course, 100/100. We’re turning to electricity as fuel because it can do more, faster, in much less space—indeed, it’s by far the fastest and purest form of power yet tamed for ubiquitous use. Small wonder that demand for it keeps growing...

It must surely be clear by now, too, that the political costs of depending so heavily on oil from the Middle East are just too great. We need to find a way to stop funneling $25 billion a year (or so) of our energy dollars into churning cauldrons of hate and violence. By sharply curtailing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, we would greatly expand the range of feasible political and military options in dealing with the countries that breed the terrorists.

The best thing we can do to decrease the Middle East’s hold on us is to turn off the spigot ourselves. For economic, ecological, and geopolitical reasons, U.S. policymakers ought to promote electrification on the demand side, and nuclear fuel on the supply side, wherever they reasonably can.”

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Rick Pendler and Westerner:

Rick Pendler wrote:

“Westerner wrote: "Israel is the only stable, productive and most modern country in the middle east that's not dependent on oil."

You are correct in stating that Israel is stable and productive and not dependent on oil...”

Not quite! Actually, Israel is dependent on imported oil and gets it primarily from Russia. But are they a reliable source? Recall that they recently threatened to cut off their East European customers if they didn’t behave as Russia expected.

http://www.slate.com/id/2145704/

Where Does Israel Get Oil? If you're selling, they're buying.

By Daniel Engber
Posted Friday, July 14, 2006, at 6:19 PM ET

The leader of Hezbollah declared "open war" against Israel on Friday following the bombing of his offices in Beirut, Lebanon. The president of Iran has announced that if Israel were to expand the hostilities by attacking Syria, that would represent "an attack on the whole Islamic world and the regime will face a crushing response." Given the grim state of Arab-Israeli relations, where does Israel get its oil?

From Russia and former Soviet republics. Israel produces only a couple thousand barrels of oil a day, which means it relies on the global market for more than 99 percent of its consumption. It's difficult to name all of the country's suppliers—in 2004, Israel's minister of national infrastructures admitted that "Israel's situation is complicated. We don't have diplomatic relations with most of the countries from which we import oil." But over the past 25 years, significant fuel imports have come from Angola, Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, and Norway. In more recent times, the Israelis have turned to Russia, Kazakhstan, and some of the other -stans for the bulk of their oil.

Israel has long sought a local source of oil, especially since the oil crisis of 1973. Having a nearby supplier would increase Israel's energy security and reduce the cost of its imports. Iran filled that need for a while: Starting in 1968, the Israelis used a pipe called the "TIPline" to import Iranian oil from the Red Sea. But the shah was overthrown in 1979, and Iran shut off the tap. (These days, Israel lets the Russians use the TIPline to pump oil in the opposite direction.)

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Here’s an article about two mothers who lost their daughters (17 and 18 years old) in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem that shows how difficult (or impossible) this is going to be.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/26/AR2007112601853_pf.html

“Beyond the Reach of Annapolis
__
By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; A17

On March 29, 2002, an 18-year-old woman walked into a Jerusalem supermarket and blew herself up. One of her victims was a woman just a year younger than herself. The two women looked so much alike, Palestinian and Israeli, and their mortal wounds were so similar, that the pathologist had trouble reassembling the two girls. They had so much in common...

Avigail Levy's [Jewish mother] attempt to reach an understanding with Um Samir al-Akhras [Palestinian mother] is told in an HBO documentary called " To Die in Jerusalem." It is a frustrating film, lacking the snapping flags and sleek limos of the Middle East peace conference convened in Annapolis. But more than the communiques sure to be issued and the statements sure to be made, the inability of two mothers just to meet -- not to mention understand one another -- gives a true and depressing picture of why no peace agreement is on the horizon. God is not in these details. The devil is...

Israel must relent. That's for sure. The Palestinians must forswear terrorism. That's for sure, too. The occupation has to end. Suicide bombings have to end. A Palestinian state has to be created. Gaza cannot remain a terrorist base. The West Bank cannot become a terrorist base. It's all so sensible. It's all so logical. But, really, down where it counts, the mothers of two dead daughters cannot even talk to each other.

"I didn't understand anything," Avigail says after four years of trying to establish a dialogue. "She didn't understand anything."

They issued no communique.”

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Mike,

Good job buddy!

“...Let me know if I am an in any way incorrect in my thinking...This should be funny”

Nope, you’re right on the money.

“...Therefore I am torn to allow the Palestinians, who's only contribution to the world has been misery and terrorism, to get their own country and destroy the Middle East in the process or to allow Israel to continue to exist and be the "bogeymen" that without it would kill countless more human beings?”

Well, this may be a little off target. The Palestinians may have used “terrorism” read as righteous resistance against the real terrorist invaders and occupiers; but I only hope that we would respond the same in the face of similar atrocities committed against our people by an overpowering alien invader. There is no basis for thinking that the return of Palestine to its rightful owners would “destroy the Middle East”.

Westerner:

Israel's GDP is $170.3 billion while US Aid is a little over $2.5 billion. And the access that they get to the US military is through guaranteed loans. We know that Israel can pay up.

Rick Pendler:

Westerner wrote: "Israel is the only stable, productive and most modern country in the middle east that's not dependent on oil."

You are correct in stating that Israel is stable and productive and not dependent on oil. However, you seem to overlook the fact that Israel is the number one recipient of foreign aid from the US and has free access to the most modern military hardware that the US uses. They get it free because the aid money buys the military hardware.

At least the oil being pumped by the oil-rich Arab countries exists underneath their own sovereign sand and belongs to them.

Every penny that subsidizes the state of Israel comes from somewhere else, namely the American taxpayer's pocket.

Therefore, I don't know if I would characterize the state of Israeli as "successful."

Papau New Guinea would be just as "successful" as Israel if they were the number one recipient of US foreign aid (which, let me remind you, is a lot of money) and had free access to the latest American military technology.

Food for thought.

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

Rima Merhi,

We are honored to have such a distinguished co-blogger with us:

http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/archives/109/mer072805.pdf

“Testimony of Group Co-ordinator and Social Representative for inter-university
project on national reforms for Lebanon: Miss Rima Merhi.

Hearing: Lebanon Reborn? Defining National Priorities and Prospects for
Democratic Renewal in the Wake of March 14, 2005

I. Youth Action Plan

An initiative of the Delegation of the European Commission in Lebanon, the “Youth
Action Plan” was produced and written by students from the American University of
Beirut, University of Saint Joseph, and the Lebanese University. The EC
encouraged us to participate in this project in the wake of the assassination of our
late Premier Harriri as a vivid attestation of our commitment to national solidarity and
determination to advance national reforms...”

“Once upon a time I stood before international media to defend the cause of Hezbollah in Lebanon, asking the world: “who has the right to label who a terrorist?” especially after Israel’s disproportionate and vile attack on Lebanon in July 2006. I defended Hezbollah once again in a testimony in the US Congress when I highlighted the feelings of relative deprivation experienced by Shiites living in Lebanon and the failure of the Lebanese government to reach out to the suburbs where many of them live, shedding light on the need for greater social justice in Lebanon in general. At the same time, no one would argue that Hezbollah won 13 seats in the Lebanese government before the Shiite wing resigned from Siniora’s government–seen as illegitimate by opposition forces. Also let us not to forget that Hezbollah was/is respected and acknowledged by most Lebanese for its perseverance in driving out the last Israeli soldier in 2000.

But its time to face some facts:

A terrorist act is a terrorist act is a terrorist act, regardless of the aggressor...

...For God’s sake doesn’t Hezbollah leadership know that the camps that remain in the heart of Beirut’s thriving economic center are not crippling Siniora’s government, they are crippling the whole of Lebanon.

Lebanon will never disarm Hezbollah by force and any outside intervention towards this goal will bring forth regional ramifications of an intolerable scale.

The idea is to integrate the Shiites into the government and meet their needs in a democratic system of governance.

Hezbollah leadership must not cling to its arms and hatred for Israel. It needs to cling to Lebanese youth and love for Lebanon. Enough hatred. Enough!”

[Bravo! Well said. Hezbollah should move its armed camps out of the heart of Beirut and let the democratic process go forward. It should continue to aid Hamas in every way possible to drive the Israelis out of Palestine including the region now referred to as the illegitimate “State of Israel”, but it should not return Lebanon to the battle ground of competing militias as before.]

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

A pep talk from my favorite conservative columnist:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/27/opinion/27brooks.html?_r=1&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

November 27, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Follow the Fundamentals

By DAVID BROOKS

“...So it’s worth pointing out now more than ever that Dobbsianism is fundamentally wrong. It plays on legitimate anxieties, but it rests at heart on a more existential fear — the fear that America is under assault and is fundamentally fragile. It rests on fears that the America we once knew is bleeding away.

And that’s just not true. In the first place, despite the ups and downs of the business cycle, the United States still possesses the most potent economy on earth. Recently the World Economic Forum and the International Institute for Management Development produced global competitiveness indexes, and once again they both ranked the United States first in the world.

In the World Economic Forum survey, the U.S. comes in just ahead of Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany (China is 34th). The U.S. gets poor marks for macroeconomic stability (the long-term federal debt), for its tax structure and for the low savings rate. But it leads the world in a range of categories: higher education and training, labor market flexibility, the ability to attract global talent, the availability of venture capital, the quality of corporate management and the capacity to innovate.
William W. Lewis of McKinsey surveyed global competitive in dozens of business sectors a few years ago, and concluded, “The United States is the productivity leader in virtually every industry.”

Second, America’s fundamental economic strength is rooted in the most stable of assets — its values. The U.S. is still an astonishing assimilation machine. It has successfully absorbed more than 20 million legal immigrants over the past quarter-century, an extraordinary influx of human capital. Americans are remarkably fertile. Birthrates are relatively high, meaning that in 2050, the average American will be under 40, while the average European, Chinese and Japanese will be more than a decade older...

[So we can easily handle another 5 million or so from Israel.]

Westerner:

"They don't realize that half a loaf of bread is worse than none."

I mean that palestinians think half a loaf of bread is worse than none.

Westerner:

I agree, there will be no peace in the ME. And it's not because of the israelis who have beaten the muslims each time there's a war; the land was won by israelis, the palestinians lost -- get over it.

You have muslims and their apologists who think that violating a country's borders and kidnapping soldiers at a time when there is no peace between the two countries should not cause any retaliation. You have ordinary muslims supporting a terrorist group that uses them as human shields as they shower bombs at Israelis getting upset at Israelis for returning fire. You have muslims families rearing their children to be suicide bombers. There is no palestinian people. You just have a huge feral population that just feels intense hatred and doesn't know how to be productive. Look at what happened in Gaza. Bill Gates's organization bought for the palestinians from the israelis, farms which used the most advanced farming methods and produced bountiful harvests that were sold for export. What did the palestinian muslims do? They destroyed it. Give the palestinians a choice between a bad plan or a worser plan and they always choose the worser plan. They don't realize that half a loaf of bread is worse than none.

The other thing that I don't understand is if all the muslims say they are one ummah, one muslim world, you would think that the oil rich muslim nations would take some leadership in easing the pain of their palestinian brothers by taking them in. But that hasn't happened. Granted the palestinians usually turn on their hosts like they did in Jordan, so I guess I don't blame other countries for not wanting them around. The whole thing is so hypocritical and the region is really just one big sordid joke.

Israel is the only stable, productive and most modern country in the middle east that's not dependent on oil. Muslims arabs hate it for its success. If the oil-rich muslim arabs states didn't have oil they'd be failures like the rest of their poor neighbors.

Giving any land to the palestinians would be foolish, the taliban or any one of numerous terrorist groups would rush to make it their home base. Look at what happened to Hamas and Fatah. They got a small piece of land and it didn't solve any problems.

Gabe:

Dear Mr. Amar C Bakshi: I have expected your Hezbollah perspective article for a couple days, I thought the election stalemate may have changed your mind about printing a pro-Hezbollah article. Thank you for asking Amena why Hezbollah initiated the July 2006 war, but I must say that I'm disappointed that this Hezbollah perspective was not balanced with the events of the current Lebanese political crisis.

From my perspective of the actions of Lebanese politics, the minority of Hezbollah and it's coalition only have power over the majority government because of Hezbollah’s arms.
While Hezbollah & it’s coalition (Shia Amal & half of the Christian seats from the Free Patriotic party) combine to make up a minority that is currently about 5 seats away from the majority, there are two factors that must be highlighted, Hezbollah needed a split in the Christian parties to acquire almost half the seats, and the assassinations of 4 parliament members from the government majority – Hezbollah blames Israel, but everyone knows Syria is behind it and Hezbollah is Pro-Syrian.

Shia Lebanese Ministers withdrew from government in an attempt to overthrow the majority anti-Syrian Lebanese government. In a democracy, if you don't participate you lose your voice. Why does Hezbollah and it's allies continue to hold sway when they abstain from Lebanese politics, boycott sessions to elect a President, and quit their Minister positions?
I believe the cause is that Hezbollah and it’s slim minority coalition threaten chaos if the Lebanese majority government does not follow their will. Hezbollah and it’s coalition have been consistently threatening unspecified repercussions if the majority government does not follow Hezbollah’s will.
If it were not for the threat of war, the Lebanese majority government would constitutionally elect a new President without the abstaining Hezbollah aligned parliament members who are obstructing the political process.
This is Hezbollah's democracy: that the minority in government with the guns will take over the majority. The gun is on Hezbollah’s flag, an insult to our creator in a movement named Hezbollah - Party of God. It is more truly the Party of the Gun.
I'm begging you to please show more balance. Three Christian Parliament members of the Lebanese anti-Syrian majority government have been assassinated. You've reported on the majority government's fear of assassination, and I thank you for that last article, I haven't seen any Western media reporting on the Lebanese assassination crisis. Please show more balance in these articles to reflect the facts on the ground. I'll pray for both Lebanon and for you while you’re there to be safe from violence breaking out again.

I ask you this question, and please consider it carefully. Who would or will, God forbid, draw first blood?
Will the March 14th majority government fire the first bullet on it’s own Lebanese people? The March 14th government is from the peaceful Cedar Revolution movement that ousted Syrian occupation from Lebanon while an armed Hezbollah counter protested the same Cedar Revolution with Pro-Syrian propaganda. The March 14th government parliament members are under the gun, 4 of it’s parliament members have been assassinated in the last year while Hezbollah and it’s coalition have shutdown the capitol with their tents and their demands to overthrow the majority Lebanese March 14th government.

Will Hezbollah fire the first bullet on it’s own Lebanese people? Or will Hezbollah & it’s Syrian and Iranian allies fire at the March 14th government through a parasite like Fatah Al Islam in a Palestinian refugee camp?
Thankfully the Fatah Al Islam parasite was silenced this last summer, to the disdain of the #2 at Hezbollah who was perhaps the only person in Lebanon to not congratulate the Lebanese government for coming together to stop this threat to the state (reference an Al-Jazeera interview with Hezbollah’s #2).
Pray for peace, that is the only answer. Syrian occupation inadvertently allowed Lebanese to live peacefully long enough to work together to kick them out PEACEFULLY. Peace is the only answer.
Don’t elect a party that threatens war, please Lebanon, do not be intimidated and give in to Hezbollah’s fierce threats. Do not embolden yourselves if you are with Hezbollah, do not be lead with craze by Hassan Nasrallah’s threats of war and do not worship the gun.

Gabe:

Dear Mr. Amar C Bakshi: I have expected your Hezbollah perspective article for a couple days, I thought the election stalemate may have changed your mind about printing a pro-Hezbollah article. Thank you for asking Amena why Hezbollah initiated the July 2006 war, but I must say that I'm disappointed that this Hezbollah perspective was not balanced with the events of the current Lebanese political crisis.

From my perspective of the actions of Lebanese politics, the minority of Hezbollah and it's coalition only have power over the majority government because of Hezbollah’s arms.
While Hezbollah & it’s coalition (Shia Amal & half of the Christian seats from the Free Patriotic party) combine to make up a minority that is currently about 5 seats away from the majority, there are two factors that must be highlighted, Hezbollah needed a split in the Christian parties to acquire almost half the seats, and the assassinations of 4 parliament members from the government majority – Hezbollah blames Israel, but everyone knows Syria is behind it and Hezbollah is Pro-Syrian.

Shia Lebanese Ministers withdrew from government in an attempt to overthrow the majority anti-Syrian Lebanese government. In a democracy, if you don't participate you lose your voice. Why does Hezbollah and it's allies continue to hold sway when they abstain from Lebanese politics, boycott sessions to elect a President, and quit their Minister positions?
I believe the cause is that Hezbollah and it’s slim minority coalition threaten chaos if the Lebanese majority government does not follow their will. Hezbollah and it’s coalition have been consistently threatening unspecified repercussions if the majority government does not follow Hezbollah’s will.
If it were not for the threat of war, the Lebanese majority government would constitutionally elect a new President without the abstaining Hezbollah aligned parliament members who are obstructing the political process.
This is Hezbollah's democracy: that the minority in government with the guns will take over the majority. The gun is on Hezbollah’s flag, an insult to our creator in a movement named Hezbollah - Party of God. It is more truly the Party of the Gun.
I'm begging you to please show more balance. Three Christian Parliament members of the Lebanese anti-Syrian majority government have been assassinated. You've reported on the majority government's fear of assassination, and I thank you for that last article, I haven't seen any Western media reporting on the Lebanese assassination crisis. Please show more balance in these articles to reflect the facts on the ground. I'll pray for both Lebanon and for you while you’re there to be safe from violence breaking out again.

I ask you this question, and please consider it carefully. Who would or will, God forbid, draw first blood?
Will the March 14th majority government fire the first bullet on it’s own Lebanese people? The March 14th government is from the peaceful Cedar Revolution movement that ousted Syrian occupation from Lebanon while an armed Hezbollah counter protested the same Cedar Revolution with Pro-Syrian propaganda. The March 14th government parliament members are under the gun, 4 of it’s parliament members have been assassinated in the last year while Hezbollah and it’s coalition have shutdown the capitol with their tents and their demands to overthrow the majority Lebanese March 14th government.

Will Hezbollah fire the first bullet on it’s own Lebanese people? Or will Hezbollah & it’s Syrian and Iranian allies fire at the March 14th government through a parasite like Fatah Al Islam in a Palestinian refugee camp?
Thankfully the Fatah Al Islam parasite was silenced this last summer, to the disdain of the #2 at Hezbollah who was perhaps the only person in Lebanon to not congratulate the Lebanese government for coming together to stop this threat to the state (reference an Al-Jazeera interview with Hezbollah’s #2).
Pray for peace, that is the only answer. Syrian occupation inadvertently allowed Lebanese to live peacefully long enough to work together to kick them out PEACEFULLY. Peace is the only answer.
Don’t elect a party that threatens war, please Lebanon, do not be intimidated and give in to Hezbollah’s fierce threats. Do not embolden yourselves if you are with Hezbollah, do not be lead with craze by Hassan Nasrallah’s threats of war and do not worship the gun.

Vic van Meter:

Rick,

Do you live in the U.S.? I thought you may have, but the technology we have isn't retarded by slow-moving technology. We have everything we need right now (especially now that Bush has pulled out of just about every non-proliferation treaty in existence) to go completely nuclear with our power and rely on MUCH less oil. There are a few, unexpected resistances making this impossible.

A lot of environmental groups are worried about a meltdown and will fight a power company tooth and nail to keep a reactor from coming online. Not to mention that, even treated to the upmost of our ability, nuclear wastewater is still hazardous for some 300 years. Oil companies, of course, like to do things like buy patents for electric cars and keep nuclear power on its haunches. And let's not forget the government, who is more interested in Big Oil than Big Uranium anyway, even though the stuff is as common in our soil as tin.

Primarily the one thing really stopping America from switching, in a matter of a few years (yes they have every ability to do it right now, maybe give it two or three years to five years if they take their time). The problem is, gas is barely hinting over three dollars a gallon in America, WAY low artificially no matter how you look at it. America's government is keeping up the addiction we so badly need to break.

It doesn't help that a lot of America's big cities exploded after the car became popular and affordable, and so many city's infrastructures rely on automobiles. So unless we can get an electric car online powered by nuclear energy, we're screwed. And it's only going to be important enough for the government to change it when we're sucking on a dry straw.

And I did read your post, but I thought it might be insulting, a bit, if I brought up the reason that Israel obviously hasn't retreated. Hezbollah, unless it does launch a major assault, is just nickle-and-diming Israel and inviting a major disaster right in on its heels. Their investment isn't sound, and even though the Israelis are angry they didn't get Hezbollah, from where I'm sitting, it just isn't worth winning if Israel blows your population apart to cauterize the tumor.

You're mistaken that Israel CAN'T use that military power. Obviously, they did. Not a lot of it, but after all, it was just a couple soldiers. But is America drawing down Israeli weapons? No. Is Israel's position diplomatically really weakened? No. Anyone who hated Israel before hates them even more now, but none of Israel's allies are turning coat all of a sudden. Israel got off pretty clean for killing an awful lot of civilians as collateral damamge, if you hadn't noticed.

I just didn't figure to point out that, despite what I'm sure is an amazing PR campaign, Hezbollah can't do enough to move Israel without calling up fire from Hell all over themselves. They may as well pitch rocks at tanks, because the action in Lebanon just convinced most Israelis, apparantly, that they needed a wider stretch of barren waste in between them as a potential rocket attack.

Then again, I'm American. All I know is that world opinion will only diss the Israelis so much. I backed Turkey's right to invade Iraq to take down the PKK, no matter what, and I'll back Israel if Hezbollah continues to push. Israel's creation wasn't a good idea, I think we all kind of figure that, but regardless of what you think of its legitimacy, it's hard to call Israel anything other than a nation after so many decades of sitting tight. And the longer they sit, the harder they'll be to budge.

I'm just advocating a peace process because it's an easier way to get your land, apparantly, than fighting Israel for it. Israel's a stubborn old goat.

And Mike,

Mike, you're forgetting that the Israelis have been in Israel for longer than most people anymore have been alive. Fewer and fewer people remember when Europe moved them in, so it's difficult to trace back to a point of their illigitimacy. At this point, it would be harder to move them than leave them there. So has time become Israel's ally. The longer they wait, the more they gain.

And you're missing a BIG big line of reasoning as to why the Middle East won't destroy itself completely. Believe it or not, I'd say probably 95% of the locals of the region I've met are a bit more concerned with keeping themselves alive than either fighting Israel or each other. I'm sure they have their sides (one side might kill them, the other kills the other ethnicity), but most people I talk to are more worried about not dying. Hezbollah doesn't have some endless stream of worthy fighters and suicide bombers, or Israel wouldn't be standing. If those ethnic clashes were huge chunks of the population in a monstrous civil war, America wouldn't still be in Iraq playing at the downplay of violence.

People really just don't want to die. And I'll bet that, at least, the majority of the Lebanese would rather live than go out in a blaze of glory against Israel.

If anything you said was feasible or worked, they would have done it by now. They've had all the time in the world.

Mike:

OK You Clowns on Both sides lets get this out in the open and that is THERE WILL NEVER BE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST...

1. The Israelis have to realize that they have 2 reasonable choices for Peace
a. Wipe out every Palestinian and Arab within a 100 mile radius of Israel or
b. Realize that their sons and daughters are more important than a piece of land they perceive to be surrounded by blood thisty wolves and make a plan to move out.

2. The Saudis and other Oil Rich Nations should offer to buy out the Israelis for their Poor Palesitnian "Brothers" (HA HA Thats Believable, Im sure Kuwait would be first in line after the atrocities the Palestinians did to them in 1990) and allow the Israelis to relocate Europe and the Americas...

3. The Palestinians finally have their country, Anti Semnitism goes to the way of the 8 track and Everyone in the UN can go and buy the world A Coke...

All is well...Not quite

Without having a common enemy as Israel my guess is that the Arabs would first be hell bent on expelling and converting all the Christians in the region (hence another bloody and far more deadlier war in Lebabnon) then when thats over get back to that age old Muslim question of "Should a Direct Decendent of Muhammed be the Leader of the Muslim World?" aka A huge holocaust between the Sunnis and Shiites which will kill millions. I figure the Israelis would probably cause a little less trouble in their new homes other than the occasional screaming about the lack of a good deli in Osh Kosh Wisconsin.

Therfore I am torn to allow the Palestinians, who's only contribtuion to the world has been misery and terrorism, to get their own country and destroy the Middle East in the process or to allow Israel to continue to exist and be the "bogeymen" that without it would kill countless more human beings?

Let me know if I am an in any way incorrect in my thinking...This should be funny

Rick Jones, Fredericksburg, VA:

James Stanhope,

I hope you don’t mind if I give my answers to your questions as well.

“…What makes the State of Israel uniquely illegitimate in comparison to its neighbors? Is it European immigration into Israel?

It is the forceful displacement of the rightful landowners from their property.

“What about Jews who immigrated to Palestine from the 1880s until, say, 1914, when it was governed by the Ottoman Turks? Do the descendants of such Jews have a legitimate right to live in Palestine?”

Yes, I know of no record of their stealing land from the rightful owners.

“What about Jews who were expelled from Saudi Arabia and Egypt after 1948, who then emigrated to Israel? Do the descendants of such Jews have a right to live in Palestine?”

No, by that time it was clear that the Zionist invasion was illegal. The British realized they had made a mistake and tried to stop the Zionist immigration but couldn’t. They and the Palestinians came under attack by terrorists like Menachem Begin’s Irgun, until they finally gave up and asked the U.N. to bail them out.

“Why do Jews, and Jews alone, have no right to live in Palestine?”

The Jews are the invaders and occupiers who stole the land from its rightful owners.

http://www.mideastweb.org/palpop.htm

“In the Ottoman Turkish Census of 1893, there were 371,959 Muslims and 42,689 Christians, for a total of 414,648 Arab Palestinians, and only about 9,000 Jews.”

This reference would put the Jewish population at just 2% of the total population of Palestine.

The single-state solution is the right solution, and no more than 2% of the total population of Palestine today should be Jews. The displaced Palestinians in refugee camps must be granted right of return.

Rima Merhi :

Once upon a time I stood before international media to defend the cause of Hezbollah in Lebanon, asking the world: “who has the right to label who a terrorist?” especially after Israel’s disproportionate and vile attack on Lebanon in July 2006. I defended Hezbollah once again in a testimony in the US Congress when I highlighted the feelings of relative deprivation experienced by Shiites living in Lebanon and the failure of the Lebanese government to reach out to the suburbs where many of them live, shedding light on the need for greater social justice in Lebanon in general. At the same time, no one would argue that Hezbollah won 13 seats in the Lebanese government before the Shiite wing resigned from Siniora’s government–seen as illegitimate by opposition forces. Also let us not to forget that Hezbollah was/is respected and acknowledged by most Lebanese for its perseverance in driving out the last Israeli soldier in 2000.

But its time to face some facts:

A terrorist act is a terrorist act is a terrorist act, regardless of the aggressor. Bombing children in Haifa is as much a terrorist act as bombing children in the south of Lebanon. And nothing can justify terrorism period, and this is a fact ignored equally by Arabs and Israelis who seek justifications to fight the so called war on terror- a war that knows no limits.

Hezbollah is not the only sect in Lebanon that is suffering from social injustice and feelings of relative deprivation. Actually, no other sect in Lebanon gets as much financial support and opportunities as the Shiites and the Lebanese government is struggling to provide much needed support to the suburbs of Lebanon where many minorities and sects coexist with the Shiites.

Does this give Hezbollah the right to form its own state and act outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese government? Why can Hezbollah maintain an army when other sects or groups in Lebanon are denied this right? What are the repercussions for Lebanon if other sects follow suit and arm? Do we want militias to take over Lebanon again? These are questions that Hezbollah leadership can not ignore, not if it wants to build a better future for Lebanese youth.

For God’s sake doesn’t Hezbollah leadership know that the camps that remain in the heart of Beirut’s thriving economic center are not crippling Siniora’s government, they are crippling the whole of Lebanon.

Lebanon will never disarm Hezbollah by force and any outside intervention towards this goal will bring forth regional ramifications of an intolerable scale.

The idea is to integrate the Shiites into the government and meet their needs in a democratic system of governance.

Hezbollah leadership must not cling to its arms and hatred for Israel. It needs to cling to Lebanese youth and love for Lebanon. Enough hatred. Enough!


Rima Merhi :

Once upon a time I stood before international media to defend the cause of Hezbollah in Lebanon, asking the world: “who has the right to label who a terrorist?” especially after Israel’s disproportionate and vile attack on Lebanon in July 2006. I defended Hezbollah once again in a testimony in the US Congress when I highlighted the feelings of relative deprivation experienced by Shiites living in Lebanon and the failure of the Lebanese government to reach out to the suburbs where many of them live, shedding light on the need for greater social justice in Lebanon in general. At the same time, no one would argue that Hezbollah won 13 seats in the Lebanese government before the Shiite wing resigned from Siniora’s government–seen as illegitimate by opposition forces. Also let us not to forget that Hezbollah was/is respected and acknowledged by most Lebanese for its perseverance in driving out the last Israeli soldier in 2000.

But its time to face some facts:

A terrorist act is a terrorist act is a terrorist act, regardless of the aggressor. Bombing children in Haifa is as much a terrorist act as bombing children in the south of Lebanon. And nothing can justify terrorism period, and this is a fact ignored equally by Arabs and Israelis who seek justifications to fight the so called war on terror- a war that knows no limits.

Hezbollah is not the only sect in Lebanon that is suffering from social injustice and feelings of relative deprivation. Actually, no other sect in Lebanon gets as much financial support and opportunities as the Shiites and the Lebanese government is struggling to provide much needed support to the suburbs of Lebanon where many minorities and sects coexist with the Shiites.

Does this give Hezbollah the right to form its own state and act outside the jurisdiction of the Lebanese government? Why can Hezbollah maintain an army when other sects or groups in Lebanon are denied this right? What are the repercussions for Lebanon if other sects follow suit and arm? Do we want militias to take over Lebanon again? These are questions that Hezbollah leadership can not ignore, not if it wants to build a better future for Lebanese youth.

For God’s sake doesn’t Hezbollah leadership know that the camps that remain in the heart of Beirut’s thriving economic center are not crippling Siniora’s government, they are crippling the whole of Lebanon.

Lebanon will never disarm Hezbollah by force and any outside intervention towards this goal will bring forth regional ramifications of an intolerable scale.

The idea is to integrate the Shiites into the government and meet their needs in a democratic system of governance.

Hezbollah leadership must not cling to its arms and hatred for Israel. It needs to cling to Lebanese youth and love for Lebanon. Enough hatred. Enough!


Hezbollah started the war:

To say that Hezbollah started the war is ridiculous when you see Israels unproportional overreaction. Israel is the princess on a pea of the region. See also the rockets from Gaza, so what? Hezbollah is labeled a terrorist organisation in the US, nowhere else. At least not in Europe! Labeling somebody a terrorist is easy in the US, do you remember Saddam? He may have been terrible, but who is not terrible in that region? Was the US intervention in Iraq etc peacefull?

ff:

There's so much double-think evident in Amena's comments it's almost frightening:

"I support Hezbollah, my family does too…but we do not want war."

And yet you support a party dedicated to the pursuit of war. I realize she doesn't necessarily have the privelege of choosing a party that exactly aligns with her preferences, but at the same time, she is forfeiting her right to have other people take her seriously when she says she doesn't want war. Like many of Amena's comments, this betrays a very immature understanding of politics: she wants to have it both ways.

"I bring up the abduction of Israeli soldiers that ostensibly precipitated the July War. She calls it legitimate resistance."

Resistance against what? This is a very revealing quote. Hezbollah has been very successful at selling a victim narrative to their constituency, with the disasterous results on the discourse we see in evidence here.

"We all support Hezbollah and we all really share the values of the Americans too -- we all believe in peace, loving life, in education,”

Ah, but the list of American values doesn't stop there (does anyone NOT share the values in her list?). Many key American values are incompatible with Hezbollah's platform: secularism, the rule of law, etc.

"When you hear him you feel you are strong, you feel you are right,"

I.e., he's a demagogue. This is not surprising in itself, of course, although the fact that Amena views this as a good thing is troubling.

"It's not true. Any of the money that comes through Iran or wherever [is passed along] directly by people paying Zakat,"

Even if there was any reason to put credence in this assertion, I don't see what bearing it would have on anything.

"defending Lebanon against Israel,"

Here's where we encounter the really pernicious aspects of the Hezbollah creed. Israel is not hostile to Lebanon (quite the opposite); rather, Israel is hostile to Hezbollah. The identification of Lebanon with Hezbollah is a crucial piece of the resistance myth intended to legitimize Hezbollah's undermining of Lebanon's government and stability. Keep everyone scared of the bogeyman (and occasionally provoke said bogeyman to make him more believable).

"America is curbing Hezbollah in order to advance the interests of Israel. "

Here we see the effects of the previous myth-making: since the divergence between the interests of Hezbollah and those of the Lebanese state have been papered over, America's actions must be explained by the standard conspiracy theory.

“It is not time for Hezbollah to disarm yet. We need them for security from Israel,"

Of course, the only reason they have anything to fear from Israel is that Hezbollah is armed in the first place. This is a blank check to continue militant activities which will further undermine the Lebanese state. Wouldn't it make all Lebanese more secure (against ANY external threats) to have a single unified security apparatus?

"Nasrallah, “describes many American interferences…like the ambassador of America making visits to many politicians these days….It's offensive. How come he [the U.S. ambassador] thinks himself eligible to be part of our political life?" "

That someone would think it's offensive for an ambassador to their country to visit with their politicians betrays a worrisome combination of ignorance and bias. How often do the ambassadors from, say, Syria or Iran visit with the various politicans, and why aren't Hezbollah and their supporters worked up over this?

The most striking thing about Amena's comments is the variance between the tone and the underlying substance. She uses a pleading, indignant, victimized posture towards the United States, ostensibly demanding nothing more than compassion, understanding and a little respect. But when we examine the substance of her position, we find an ideological partisan committed to armed factionalism.

James Stanhope:

Rick Pendler has made two points about 20th-century Middle Eastern history that I hope he will clarify for this forum. Those two points are:

1. That, in the Middle East, only the State of Israel is an illegitimate state because it was created by European powers and by immigration of Europeans.

In fact, if "creation by European powers" is a mark of illegitimacy, then the only legitimate states in the Middle East are Turkey, Iran, and possibly Egypt. Turkey is the only remnant of the Ottoman Empire that was not completely controlled by European powers after World War I, and Iran has maintained its independence continuously since the Middle Ages. Egypt did obtain its independence in 1922 through an indigenous nationalist movement, but the boundaries of the current Republic of Egypt are the boundaries of the former British protectorate. The remaining states in the Middle East were in fact created either from former European colonies established by the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 (viz., Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq), or are former French and Italian colonies along the Mediterranean (Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco). The present governments of Saudia Arabia and Jordan, in particular, are uniquely creations of the British government after World War I and World War II. From the Nile through the Arabian peninsula to Mesopotamia, there were no independent Arab states between the 16th century, when those areas were added to the Ottoman empire, and 1918, when the Ottoman empire collapsed. So in the sense of being "created" by European powers, the State of Israel is no more illegitimate than the Arab states that surround it. The State of Israel is also a liberal democracy that has been a U.N. member since 1948, sharing U.N. membership with the Arab states which surround it (which were also created by European powers). If U.N. membership confers any legitimacy at all, the State of Israel has the same legitimacy as its neighbors.

The question I would like Rick Pendler to answer is this: What makes the State of Israel uniquely illegitimate in comparison to its neighbors? Is it European immigration into Israel? What about Jews who immigrated to Palestine from the 1880s until, say, 1914, when it was governed by the Ottoman Turks? Do the descendants of such Jews have a legitimate right to live in Palestine? What about Jews who were expelled from Saudi Arabia and Egypt after 1948, who then emigrated to Israel? Do the descendants of such Jews have a right to live in Palestine? Rick Pendler has indicated that he wants 5 million Jews to leave Palestine regardless of when their forbears arrived there. Why do Jews, and Jews alone, have no right to live in Palestine?

2. Rick Pendler hopes for a time when the "current push-and-pull" of the Arab world will abate and "normalcy will be RESTORED there" (capitalization added).

The question I have for Rick Pendler is this: What is "normalcy" for the Arab world? The Arab world could not even hope for independence until the Turks left Arab countries in 1918, and only Egypt and Saudi Arabia had native governments before 1945. If "normalcy" means political independence, most Arabs did not experience "normalcy" until after World War II. What other "normalcy" are Arab countries supposed to be "restored to"? Perhaps to the "normalcy" of being Turkish provinces? It will help if Rick Pendler can explain what "normalcy" Arab countries are supposed to be "restored to," because, so far as I can tell, Arabs are currently experiencing what has been "normal" for Arab countries since 1945.

Rick:

Daweeni,

“…You’re obviously not a right wing nutcase, but I am not sure just what kind you are.”

I’m the kind who doesn’t like for my tax dollars to be used to rob the Palestinian people of the basic human rights and dignity.

“…I am sure that you happily support the Palestinian resolve to resist for however long it takes, but wonder why Jews somehow are less worthy, just because it took almost two thousand years…”

The Jews were absent for almost two millennia as you say. Surely you don’t think they have the right to return with the aid of the world’s superpowers and kick the people out of their homes who had been living there for all that time.

“…Given your obvious denial of Jews having the same rights as other people, and your willingness to let Jews in, I wonder what you'd do with them when they get here…”

I’d give them a piece of Texas.

Area of Texas = 268,601 sq. mi. = 678,051 sq. km

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas

Area of Israel = 20,770 sq. km

http://globaledge.msu.edu/countryInsights/country.asp?CountryID=22

Texas can hold the entire “State of Israel” 32 times over, and Texas is hours to give. Palestine most definitely was not. Besides, Texas owes us big time for giving the world George W. Bush.

Rick Pendler:

To Leonard Palimino:

Thank you for your reply. You seem to be convinced that I am an Arab and a Muslim. In fact, I am neither. If you must know, I am American and agnostic.

As for the Arab world being devoid of Nobel prizes in science, math, medicine, engineering, and literature, let me remind you that many of the most significant advances in those fields were made before the era of the Nobel Prize (Isaac Newton didn't get a Nobel Prize either, after all), during the golden era of the Arab expansion. Arab philosophers (Muslims at that) gave us Algebra... or Al-Gebra if you prefer, and Arab physicians were the first to determine the true working of the valves of the human heart, among countless other accomplishments in Astronomy, Medicine, Mathematics, Oceanography, etc., etc.

At the time, most Jews were (and I say this without intending insult) beggars in European and African ghettoes. In fact, the word ghetto arose from a description of the conditions in which Jews lived in Europe.

No serious person denies these things, right?

It is true that things have changed. Progress has slowed down in the Arab world since then, but I hardly think that it is fair to condemn the entire race of Arab people as backwards. That would be... anti-semitism?

As for the success of modern Jews, I applaud it. Persecution over centuries has given them a unique perspective on capitalizing on opportunities and realizing the value of education and wealth, as these two things were so often denied to them over the centuries of quite cruel persecution at the hands of Europeans.

As for the state of Israel, however, I think it's "success" is based primarily upon its relationship with the US and its influence on the world economy.

It is no divine miracle that Israel has fended off attacks from Arab states and continued to thrive; it has much more to do with Arab disunity and American military and economic aid (the #1 recipient, by last count).

But even though I admire the success of the Jews in the 20th century and respect the Chutzpah of the state of Israel in surviving for 60 years under circumstances that are hardly ideal, I have to reconcile my admiration with the fact that the state of Israel is not a place of light, my friend. It is a blight on the region and a symbol of empire. It is a place where horrors are committed against innocents (namely the Palestinians) on a daily basis. It is a place where women and children are hoarded into camps to die... concentrated there, if you will.

The only people who don't see that are certain Jews (not all... read anything by Noam Chomsky) and their American enablers.

But when the well of American support runs dry and the current push-and-pull in the Arab world has run its course and normalcy is restored there, how long can Israel survive? I would wager that Israel will cease to exist as a nation-state before my life is over.

In all honesty, I would indeed applaud the day because Israel, from the first Palestinian child murdered by Israeli soldiers at Deir-yasim, has been a black spot on humanity's progress and represents the evils which we should hope to conquer as a species.

SnottyNozeBratt:

I believe those people have every right to quiet peaceful lives. However, that is not what they chose. They live under a harsh foreign regime that teaches them to provoke their neighbors who in turn destroy thier lives. Then those same people must subsist of charitable handouts in their destroyed homes rather than the fruit of their labors. Until they can rectify this behavior it will remain so. But, Syria and Iran will not let them. Like Hitler, they are taking over their smaller neighbors quietly and building their own power.

Here is a very pleasant link that makes Hezebollah's goals understandable to anyone.

Destroying Israel isn't their only goal. Which is why it would be foolish to ignore.

"world leadership under Islamic leadership."


http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=55582


I believe Farfur may have blown himself up {resistance to some - murder to others}, but he has been succeeded by another cartoon character teaching their children violence.

These people's beliefs are not "just like us".

Alex:

Many though Hitler and Mao were peaceful. Sure you hug kids , give out aid, build schools on one hand, but with the other hand you commit yourself to someone else's destruction and support attacks against someone else's family. You cant blame Amena, she cant bite the hand that feeds her, even if the hand is really the paw of a wolf.

SnottyNozeBratt:

Hezebollah is a violent hate-filled terrorist organization. This people has a mindset to use their children to blow up their neighbors. It is an anti-american, anti-non-muslim terrorist organization. Their entire frame of reference is that anyone not adhering to their religion are dogs and worthy of death. Period.

Go ahead and cash this reality check. It's covered.

Rick:

Here is a link to the news that Nadia was talking about:

http://news.aol.com/story/_a/lebanons-president-lahoud-steps-down/20071123153309990001

Lebanon's President Lahoud Steps Down

By SAM F. GHATTAS,
AP
Posted: 2007-11-23 22:43:31
Filed Under: World News

BEIRUT, Lebanon (Nov. 23) - Lebanon's political tumult intensified as President Emile Lahoud said the country is in a "state of emergency" and handed security powers to the army before he left office late Friday without a successor. The rival, pro-Western Cabinet rejected the declaration.

Lahoud's final announcement created new confusion in an already unsettled situation, which many Lebanese fear could explode into violence between supporters of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's Western-backed government and the pro-Syria opposition led by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

The departure of Lahoud, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime during nine years in office, was a long-sought goal of the government installed by parliament's anti-Syria majority, which has been trying to put one of its own in the presidency...

Leonard Palimino:

To Rick Pendler

Israel doesn't belong in the Middle East? It's obvious you spend more time reading the Koran than the Bible. Oh, and try not to underline your stupidity by mentioning James Carville in your criticism - James Carville loves Israel and has worked on the political campaigns of several Israel politicians. Perhaps you meant to mention David Duke, Nasrallah, or Bin Ladin when you quote critics of Israel, and perhaps you need to move where they live and try and practice your religion there.

The above commenter, Tyrese, is 100% correct when she says "There's a reason why there no Nobel laureates in the Arab world in science, math, medicine, engineering, and literature. Any culture that consumes themselves with hate as much as the Arab world does will find themselves on the ash heap of history."

Why is it that tiny Israel, with five million people, in the past forty years has contributed more to medical and scientific breakthroughs that have benefited every man, woman and child in the ENTIRE WORLD and the Arab world has ZERO to offer except hate??

Check the sky:

Dear Amena, there are many around the world like myself who are not American and yet wish to see Hezbollah annihilated and its supporters eliminated. If you enjoy planting bombs in Buenos Aires then I hope you enjoy the destruction that will surely befall you sooner or later. If you continue to support Hezbollah then you must embrace your fate and stop sniveling.

daweeni:

Rick

I hope the moment never comes when the world will see the results of Muslims trying to destroy Israel, since a wimper is not how it will go down, and the extreme possiblities of how it would go down boggle the mind. I am sure that you happily support the Palestinian resolve to resist for however long it takes, but wonder why Jews somehow are less worthy, just because it took almost two thousand years. Given your obvious denial of Jews having the same rights as other people, and your willingness to let Jews in, I wonder what you'd do with them when they get here. Your obviously not a right wing nutcase, but I am not sure just what kind you are.

gmg22:

Wwhen someone like Amena says "Lebanon is for us to decide," by "us" I wonder whether she means all Lebanese, or just Shia Muslim supporters of Hezbollah such as herself. Maybe the U.S. ambassador "thinks himself eligible" to offer his opinion on Lebanese affairs because a)the U.S. is home to a large Lebanese diaspora, b)the U.S. has economic and security interests in the region, and c)the U.S., ideally, should be advocating for governments in which everyone's rights are respected, not just the rights of the ethnic or religious group that happens to hold sway at the time. (Of course, whether the U.S. actually lives up to this is questionable, but I'm talking about ideals.) Anyway, with regard to meddlesome U.S.-Mideast relations the knife certainly can cut both ways - Amena ought to come visit Washington and hear about how Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia insinuated himself into U.S. policymaking during his many years as ambassador.

Rick Pendler:

The problem in the Middle East is not Hezbollah. It's not Hamas. It's not Hassan Nasrallah or Syria or Iran.

To borrow from (and pervert) James Carville, "It's the state of Israel, stupid!"

Previous posters have suggested that Lebanon is responsible for its own destruction in 2006 because it allowed Hezbollah to capture Israeli soldiers.

Why is Hezbollah in Lebanon? To protect Lebanon from Israel.

My Zionist friends who posted above may think that they are asking the right questions. In fact, the only real question of any substance is the following: Why is Israel in the Middle East?

Food for thought.

Tyrese Gail Williams:

The Arab world is the only group of people on this planet who celebrate when innocent men, women and children in Israel, Spain, England, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Tunesia, and Iraq, are blown to pieces by suicide bombers and bombings. They are the only people who dance and pass out candy when their fellow Arabs go on a bus in Israel and detonate a bomb and murder dozens of innocent people. No other people on this planet excuses beheadings but the Arabs find ways to justify these horrific acts as they do all the other acts of murder committed in the name of Allah. There will be peace in the Middle East one day and that day will come when Arab mothers and fathers value their children and love their children enough that instead of wanting them to be suicide bombers and so called martyrs, want them to be doctors, lawyers, teachers, computer programmers, etc. When an entire people justifies, excuses, and explains away barbaric acts of murder against innocent people they demean and debase themselves far more than any "occupier" could ever do. There's a reason why there no Nobel laureates in the Arab world in science, math, medicine, engineering, and literature. Any culture that consumes themselves with hate as much as the Arab world does will find themselves on the ash heap of history.

Rick:

Hello Vic,

“...You have to read my post...”, “...Israel is toting enough weapons to flatten every surrounding country conventionally...”, and “...Hezbollah succeeds, right now, because they operate like a gangster hit squad...”.

I read and understood you post and agree with most of what you say, but we disagree on the conclusions. Yes, Israel has the military might to flatten all civilization in the region: Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, but that doesn’t mean that they can use it. World opinion including the US will not allow it.

Hezbollah has no intention of confronting the Israeli war machine directly. They will continue to conduct guerilla warfare, which cannot be defeated by the Powell Doctrine of overwhelming military force.

“...If oil tops five dollars a barrel [gallon] in America, the technology exists to switch to electrical production and simply to run the country off using electric cars...”

Yes, but that will take time. We should have spent the last 4 years (or decade) and trillion dollars wasted on the Iraq war on developing alternate energy sources and the infrastructure necessary to free us from dependence on Middle East oil. The Big Oil and AIPAC lobbies have managed to keep us on the wrong track ‘till now, but I don’t think that they can keep this up much longer. I think that the American people will also wake up to what our unconditional support of the illegitimate state of Israel is costing us in world prestige and national wealth.

Aaron:

I agree that Hezbollah is a social movement more than a religeous one, and they have won the hearts and minds of the people.

Frank Ganiscolli:

Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that is responsible for the deaths of more than three hundred American soldiers when Ronald Reagan was President of the USA. In addition, Hezbollah sent thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli cities and has kidnapped Israeli soldiers and refused to let the Red Cross visit them. Israel has no claims on Lebanon and the only time Israel sent its armed forces to Lebanon was in response to Hezbollah's murdering and kidnapping Israeli's. Hezbollah is the #1 terrorist organization in the world after Al Queda, and the world will be happy once the Hitler of Hezbollah, Nasrallah finally meets his maker, which hopefully will be in a manner as violent as he has been to innocent men, women, and children. The world should celebrate when Nasrallah is terminated.

Aaron:

It is hard to argue with people who have such ample time on their hands. I was hoping Nadia would weigh in again. What's interesting to me about these comments is how emphatic people seem to be about opinions that clearly aren't very informed.

Hizbullah's constituency is largely economic and social, not religious. "Market liberalization" in Lebanon was spearheaded by the Hariri (now Saniora) faction supported by the U.S. It's not very difficult to understand why, as state social protections disappeared, the welfare program of Hizbullah gained them such a significant following. Just as the Republicans in this country get votes from wealthy people who like their tax cuts (but not perhaps their stance on abortion), and the Democrats get votes from people who like their health care program (but not their gay rights platform), people in Lebanon are perfectly capable of considering costs and benefits and then voting with their pocketbook. The idea that this implies support for Shari'a (or that Hizbollah's leadership intends to institute a vilayet-e faqih any more than Iraq's does) is a very schematic way of understanding the world.

When looking at politics in a faraway place, the starting point should be that they're more or less like us. That viewpoint seems to be hard for Americans, and our lack of empathy is leading us into some pretty serious foreign policy errors.

Paul NY:

What a nice fiction the Arab world has once again painted for itself. If Israel didn't exist, then the Saudis or Egyptians would probably be ready to flatten Lebanon to get at the Iranian stooges in Hezbollah. They just aren't anywhere near as militarily competent, and having Israel and the USA as bogeymen is nice political cover.

JBE:

ANY person who uses religion in the persuit of power via Hezbolla's favored tools violence and hate is scum in my eyes.

Any person who supports such a henious criminal enterprixe is just as guilty.

Lebanon needs to reject the killers and the haters who call themselves muslims and join the civilized world.

I KNOW there are a MAJORITY of honorable Lebanese who agree with peace and tolerance. You and the rest of your criminal enterprize are out of step, are the minority, are supporting a criminal and murderous Syrian ruling elite, and frankly the bobmin you received as a result of your support for terrorist activity was justly deserved because YOU brought it upon YOURSELVES.

Vic van Meter:

Yep, Ohio State University. Buckeyes it is.

But I'll definitely disagree with you. You have to read my post. Yes, guerrilla operations from a sea of people has resulted in strange political stutters from America. As I've previously written, America's army is currently built to handle a large-scale conventional war, which is what I'm talking about when I say "steamroll." And you can certainly thank your lucky stars Israel has to listen to world opinion.

Let me break it down. Not even counting the nuclear threat Israel probably doesn't even have the ignition key to, Israel is toting enough weapons to flatten every surrounding country conventionally. You point out Vietnam and Iraq. I'll point out the Six Day War where, in a matter of days of a CONVENTIONAL war, Israel collectively took the brunt from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria and pushed them back. Hezbollah succeeds, right now, because they operate like a gangster hit squad.

If Hezbollah takes over the government and declares a conventional war, I'm pointing out that the excuse is going to allow Israel to pancake Lebanon and anyone else who joins in. Israel has already proven what it can do when it comes to a straight fist-fight. And once your nation has declared official war on another nation, civilain casualties become "undesirable" rather than "deplorable." So what I've posted above simply states that Hezbollah is going to continue to do well as long as it, laughable as it is, gets what it wants. A war with Israel isn't going to be joined by the two nations which have formalized relations with Israel (Egypt and Jordan).

If Hezbollah keeps poking the Israeli beehive, the Lebanese can't complain if stung. Whether they're legitimate or not, they've got bigger guns, wilder eyes, and they're most likely looking for just an excuse. If Lebanon goes to war with Israel, Lebanon is just going to be hammered harder than before. Israel and America differ on a big strategic point. American leadership has the skewed perception that locals will assist them. Israel doesn't carry that same color to their glasses. They know the region resents them and no Lebanese inhabitant, whether supporting peace or war, will welcome them as liberators. So you can expect Israel to put a flag in Beirut and probably take over Lebanon simply because they'll have every international right.

World opinion can't stop them, and more country's leaders will not lift a hand in resistance this time simply because that is conventional war.

So Hezbollah will allow the Lebanese border Shia to absorb the bullets and bombs for a good reason. They aren't building those apartment buildings back again out of simple goodwill. Those border towns are Hezbollah's sandbag wall. So, unfortunately, but necessarily, if blows come to true war, an awful lot of Lebanese citizens will die. And at that point, even I wouldn't call Israel's all out incediary cook-off an overreaction.

If you're thinking of a matter of time scenario, you're looking the wrong way. If it hadn't been for America, the Israelis would have been fish food years ago. Fuel is not going to hamper the Israeli war machine much. Most of their boats are our boats, and those are fueled using nuclear power. If oil tops five dollars a barrel in America, the technology exists to switch to electrical production and simply to run the country off using electric cars. Right now, the government in the United States keeps the price of oil down artificially, but you'll see some mighty fast changes if people are paying sixty dollars for a tank of gas. We're looking for some magic bullet, but we've got conventional ammo in our arsenal now that will do the job. THAT's a matter of time.

The war machines you've seen in the past aren't operating at maximum capacity. The army in Iraq is all volunteer, not using a tax increase (which is stupid of Bush), and is coasting on cruise control. All out war is almost unimaginable now, but if it comes, you'll see rationing, wartime industry manufacturing takeovers, and the like. Israel can do the exact same thing. Israel is nothing more than a monstrous pillbox that is difficult to penetrate and is packing enough lawnmower firepower to cut legions in half. I'm not being Zionist here, just trying to communicate Israel's vast destructive power.

IF they get the excuse. Pray Hezbollah stays a gang and doesn't become a true policy machine.

Remember the Six Day War. You can downplay Israel all you want, but they took the Sinai Peninsula (later given back to Egypt largely in exchange for their peace treaty), the West Bank (and they've normalized relations with Jordan on that one, so Palestine is basically taking a huge chunk of Jordanian land, not just Israeli land), and the Golan Heights (which is absolutely hilarious). The casualty figures are just blanching, with Egypt reporting heavy casualties well over 10,000 men and the loss of the majority of their military equipment. Syria reported similarly heavy casualties (the last report I heard figured somewhere around 7000). Jordan came out the best, dropping the majority of the Israeli casualties, but suffering more casualties themselves on that front.

So if you think Israel is going to get pushed out when it is hammering an otherwise peaceable country (trust me, America wasn't happy when Israel took the bait from Hezbollah and strengthened their position in the wake of the Syrian rejection in Lebanon) on the account of a few captured and murdered border soldiers, you're wrong. Obviously, when Hezbollah pushes, it hardly makes the front page. When Israel pushes back, it paints casualty numbers on headlines internationally.

I mean, you can sure hope, but whoever is legitimate (and we'll all disagree on this one), Israel's military is just outright meaner than Lebanon's, counting both militia and regimented forces. They've got bigger guns, better training, and an economic lifeline that, you might notice, didn't go anywhere even when they were playing in the sandbox.

So I'll reiterate from above, Amena, and any supporters of Hezbollah,are free to vote however they want. Be careful with that vote, though. Small term successes simply don't match long term gains. Hezbollah might talk a big game about destroying Israel, but Israel is still a bigger monster than it was when it started and they don't show any signs of slowing down. So if you just so happen to get burned, blown up, robbed of all your wordly posessions, or just plain killed in, you've had that warning from me. The Iraqi occupation has turned out to be a joke of Bush's foreign diplomacy. But it only took two weeks to completely take over the country.

So don't vote for Hezbollah. In reality, you're undermining their cause. You can hope, but even if Syria and Iran backed Lebanon completely, Israel isn't going to be beaten with warfare. You're playing Israel's game with Israel's deck. The biggest gains taken from Israel have been in peace deals, and you can make out like a bandit playing the victim. And just let Hezbollah do whatever rocket-launching foolishness they'd like outside government supervision.

I'm just trying to be a voice of reason for the Lebanese. I don't like Bush, I don't like why we're in Iraq, I think we should withdraw while violence is down and blame the government's eventual failure (justly so) on Iraqi inactivity on the federal level. But that's thinking realistically. America is, at this point, holding back the pit bulls that are going to fight no matter what. That's our position. It's out of our control now. I accept that. But that's a realistic look at the situation and shunning the wishful thinking that we'll create a shining example of interfaith cooperation with our intervention.

By that same token, Hezbollah is, with every hostile action, asking for an Israeli attack on Lebanon. Whatever side is truly legitimate, think realistically. Israel is not being pushed out of the region. There is no military force in the Middle East that can move them realistically, much less just the border-assaulting "resistances" that decorate the new Israeli border. As much as I'm sure you don't like it, and even though I'm not exactly a fan of Israel's creation, there is no realistic military solution that will solve that problem.

I mean, think that Israel is mad about an estimated five to one kill to death ratio not counting civilians, which I believe number close to, if not exceeding, a thousand. Hezbollah gets to keep their guns, but if I can favor a quote from a favorite author of mine, "If this is the price of victory, then defeat is beyond our ability to pay." Personally, I wouldn't bring up that invasion as a good example of Hezbollah victory. Obviously, Israel mopped the Lebanese sand in Lebanese blood before they withdrew. If you're asking for more gory 'victories', you're asking for rain to come again from Israel.

And nobody wants to see that, except, maybe, Hezbollah.

Rick:

Question for the group:

Why does the US continue to give the Israelis billions of dollars in foreign aid each year, even though we can’t afford it and have to borrow the money from the Chinese (plus interest)?

I don’t know either unless it’s because AIPAC owns our congress, senate and executive branches of government.

Rick:

Pale Ryder,

Go ahead, make my day kemo sabe! I would never try to tell you and your fellow midwestern conservatives anything. It would be like talking to my pet rock.

Vic Van Meter of OSU,

My daughter brought me some buckeyes (chocolates) as always when she visited for Thanksgiving last week. Hmmm good! (Or does OSU stand for Oklahoma State University?)

“I didn't vote for Bush because, quite frankly, I think he's a religious, rhetorical, war-hawking whack-job who built up his opposition in order to color our perceptions and start a war.”

You are wise beyond your years young man.

“If it came to blows and a real war, Hezbollah wouldn't stand much of a chance if Israel decided to steamroll Lebanon, if for nothing else than they're using our guns, planes, boats, and what have you.”

Colin Powel’s doctrine of overwhelming military power cannot defeat the insurgent who swims in the sea of the people, as twice proven now in Vietnam and Iraq.

“The only reason you can count your lucky stars that Israel didn't mow Lebanon down straight to the Syrian borders is because Hezbollah is a "terrorist organization" and the Lebanese aren't responsible as a whole for its actions.”

Actually, the world correctly views the US and Israel as the real terrorists and world opinion does matter.

“So let's put aside the notion that, somehow, a legitimate resistance is going to defeat Israel.”

It will defeat the illegitimate “State of Israel”. The 60 years of Israel’s illegitimate existence is but a fleeting tic-toc of the cosmic clock in a region that measures time in millennia. Israel has no legitimate claim to the land they invaded and occupy (with the help of the US and European world powers) after being absent for almost two millennia.

“You don't have to LIKE Israel, but eventually you're going to have to deal with the fact that they've banked on American military support and THAT, at least, works.”

Not for long my friend and not even now against insurgents. The coming energy wars, the $100 per barrel (and rising) cost of oil, and our $10 Trillion (and rising) national debt is about to cool our enthusiasm for financing our colonialist ambitions by borrowing from the Chinese. If not, the Chinese and oil exporting nations will dictate terms to us on just about any matter of their choosing. The US dollar has continuously lost ground to the Euro from being equal just 5 years ago to being worth just 67% of a Euro today and falling (or collapsing?).

“So Israel's not exactly going to profit in the area from their cozy relationship with America. But they can count on, at least, not going anywhere.”

It’s only a matter of time and not much of that before once again they will be summarily driven from the region.

Vic van Meter:

Ahhh, Hezbollah. Because the Lebanese are allowed to push Israel (legitimate resistance) but Israel isn't allowed to push back (bombing the bejesus out of everything). Hezbollah and Israel are just two elements of the same problem. Every Lebanese citizen supporting Hezbollah had better toughen up and put up an umbrella, because Hezbollah isn't out to make peace and the Lebanese people can get ready for rain.

Everyone says Israel overreacted to the kidnappings. As do I. But these border towns that support Hezbollah aren't where I drew that line. And anyone in a nation like, say, Turkey who is dealing with the same problem of the PKK has heard exactly the same arguement. Hezbollah and the PKK are exactly the same, a political party with a militant arm "resisting" from the safety of another country's supporting border population. I don't think Turkey should go bombing all of Iraq in its defense, but I certainly support them crossing the border and putting its boot down.

So did I support the initial invasion into Lebanese territory. If Lebanon isn't doing anything about it, Israel has every international right to go in and bury their competition. And that's that.

Political questions stem back to times long gone an political deals never made. But politics, even in America, don't exist for ten years down the line anymore. Everywhere, politics exist for the moment they live in. And the moment Hezbollah tried to take a swing at Israel, they called on the fury of the beast. And Israel's only complaint from me is that they let the dogs of war bite the whole neighborhood.

Amena can suck the cordite as far as I'm concerned. She's supported the party that gives Israel any excuse at all to mutilate Lebanon, and in doing so she asked for her house to be flattened. I didn't vote for Bush because, quite frankly, I think he's a religious, rhetorical, war-hawking whack-job who built up his opposition in order to color our perceptions and start a war.

Hezbollah's doing the same thing. Just in a different place where a different religion is on hold. Hezbollah, without hawking a war with Israel, is worthless. They wouldn't have anything to rebuild if Israel hadn't flattened it. The problem is that "legitimate resistance" will hand you your rear-end.

And seriously, think about this for a second. Would you REALLY support a war against Israel with the backing of Iran and Syria? Because Israel is working with American support. If it came to blows and a real war, Hezbollah wouldn't stand much of a chance if Israel decided to steamroll Lebanon, if for nothing else than they're using our guns, planes, boats, and what have you. The only reason you can count your lucky stars that Israel didn't mow Lebanon down straight to the Syrian borders is because Hezbollah is a "terrorist organization" and the Lebanese aren't responsible as a whole for its actions. Be realistic. If Hezbollah is really stupid enough to want a war with Israel, they're probably not banking with their weapons. Hit-and-run guerrilla strikes from population areas may work wonders, but Israel would pancake Lebanon in a conventional war.

While America's arms and tactics are making the long, excrutiating crawl towards fighting terrorists block-to-block in cities full of hostile but non-combatant civilians, remember that America's entire arsenal up until about ten years ago was meant to fight massive wars of destruction and precision against a force as large as the Soviet Union. Scale that down, and Lebanon doesn't stand much of a chance against that Israeli army. So let's put aside the notion that, somehow, a legitimate resistance is going to defeat Israel.

You don't have to LIKE Israel, but eventually you're going to have to deal with the fact that they've banked on American military support and THAT, at least, works. We may not be the best country at rebuilding your wrecked and smoking country, but making wrecked and smoking countries is something nobody will ever deny the United States. So Israel's not exactly going to profit in the area from their cozy relationship with America. But they can count on, at least, not going anywhere.

So the only alternative is to make peace, and make sure you get as much out of the peace deal as you can by playing the victim. Israel's biggest political drawback is that they're seen as intensely aggressive, reactionary, and brutal. Which is true. So you can make off like a bandit in the peace deal the way you'll never take things with guns. My hombre in Iran, educated here at OSU, talks to me a lot about Israel. He definitely isn't a fan of the little nation. But his favorite saying about it is, "You can't fight fire with matchsticks, no matter how big they are."

Hezbollah, by conflicting Israel militarily, is only fueling their war machine. And if you support Hezbollah, you'd better figure that, one day, that fire's going to be visiting your house. They can rebuild all they want in the area. Another attack the Israelis decide has crossed the line, and you'll be walking up to the same pile of rubble again. Fighting Israel just isn't going to work.

Hopefully, most people are tired of butting their heads on the wall. But I never underestimate the limit of human stupidity and pain-tolerance. It seems some people are capable of enduring anything before they realize that they haven't done anything meaningful besides paint the brick red with their own blood.

Baqi Barzani:

Before all I used to hear was only regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And now we have Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, Turkey, Syria and the rest!

Bloodshed, conflicts and poverty all over. Is a nonviolent and harmonious globe promising?

Where is the incapable and worthless UN?

Baqi Barzani:

Let the Lebanese decide their own fate. Any external interference will further complicate the situation.

Pale Rider:

Rick, Rick, my left wing, progresive, intellectual: Rick of Arabia has returned ! Rick of Arabia tell us poor midwestern conservitives and high school liberals, what is Hezbollah and Hamas resisting ? Is it the Marine barracks in Beruit, with over 200 Americans killed ? Is it comuter buses in Israel blown up by Zombies from the West bank ? Bad, Bad buses ! I bet its those terriable pizza shops in Tel Aviv where kids gather and get blown up by " the resistence " ! Bad, bad, pizza shops. Boy, Rickie,these are real heros. Check you later Rickie. Quinn and I are attending a summit. The heros could not make it.Something about bomb making, Iran, and Jewish kids.

Rick:

The terrorist states are the US and Israel. The resistance led by Hezbollah and Hamas are the true heroes of the people of the region.

If the US wants to help, we should cut off all aid to Israel immediately and give them an ultimatum: (1) we should declare a no-fly zone over the region, (2) demand that Israel destroy all planes, tanks, warships and nuclear weapons, and (3) offer safe haven in the US for any of the 5 million Israelis with the good sense to flee the region.

colorado kool aid:

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

This was a joke right? Hezbollah IS a terrorist organization.

I lose hope for the Arab/Muslim world when they lie with such impunity and expect the rest of us to swallow their lies whole.

Westerner:

Hezbollah started the conflict with Israel and used the Lebanese as human shields, at the very least Ameena should expect them to pay to rebuild her neighborhood instead of being grateful.

It's really sad that so many muslim Lebanese are tricked by Hezbollah; they cause the destruction and then they produce themselves as saviors, the muslims can't be that stupid.

Tom Miller:

So Nadia, what should the U.S. do about the "political" situation in Lebanon? What do most Shia really want us to do? Should we leave the decision of the selection of the new President up to Hezbulla so he can control the military and the courts? Do you really believe that Iran's goal for Lebanon is not an Islamic state with sharia law? Do you doubt the effectiveness of their money and influence? Do you honestly believe that Hezbulla will ever disarm without counter external help from the West?

Have you accepted a future for Lebanon as a satellite of Iran and a permanent enemy of Israel? Is this what you want?

If Iran (and Syria as the executor - literally) is as immensely invested in the future of Lebanon as reported, do you want the U.S. to just go away? How can we help without consistently being interpreted as a bully and enemy of the people? Personally, the war in 2006 made me sick with the constant scenes of destruction and the misery of the people and I wished even then that Israel would have shown restraint but there is no doubt in my mind that Hezbulla is an enemy of peace and stability for the country and clearly provoked the reaction by Israel.

There are many countries and many conflicts in the world. Lebanon is not the only country with political intrigue. As an American, I hope for a wiser administration in the U.S. next year regardless of the political party who will prioritize American interests to work more with the countries in the world who genuinely want to work with us for a better future.

There are many new super economic powers in the world who profit greatly in the court of public opinion because they are turning away from conflicts such as yours. There is no need for the U.S. to continue to try to police the world in situations where people can't be civil enough among themselves to govern and where externally supported political groups such as Hezbulla are treated as heroes.

I believe that there are many true heroes of freedom and human dignity in Lebanon and I would like to see the U.S. help the ones that Syria and Iran have not yet exterminated but if the people at large want otherwise, we are wasting our time.

It may be as you say that I know too little of your politics but then given the consistent failure of those politics I have to wonder how much Lebanese understand either.

Because of my ignorance, however, I'll ask questions and listen. If you are the expert or have some answers, speak. What exactly do you want?

Nadia, Beirut:

Mike: First of all Amena is clear that she does not hate the U.S. but disagrees with its policy. Like many Lebanese we dont want any interferences in Lebanon not from Syria nor Iran nor the U.S. Further, I doubt that these countries interfere because they "care".

Tom: what do u know about "We" the "large Shia population" want? I assure u that non of us want a totalitarian regime inspired by the Shariaa. No Lebanese wants this. Just because Hezbulla recieves support from Iran doesnt mean that, we want their system of government. Just as Americas backing of Saudi Arabia does not make Saudi Arabians want democracy for example.

Infact no where in the political debate over Lebanon is an Islamic state even contemplated. If you were paying attention to lebanese politics you would know that a large segment of the population is openly and harshly critical of hezbullah just as hezbulla is of them. So yes Tom the Lebanese dare speak out against Hezbulla if they choose to.

Tom Miller:

I guess because Iran's money is Islamic and Shia that makes all of the difference?

Let me see if I have this correct: Nasrallah has Israeli soldiers kipnapped for reasons of "legitimate resistance", Israel over-reacts and bombs the infrastructure out from under Lebanon to punish Iran's Hezbollah, and now Nasrallah and Hezbollah are heroes for rebuilding (yet again) with Iran's money the destruction triggered in the first place by the kidnapped soldiers? Add to this mix the fact that any politician who speaks out against Syrian influence (supported by that same money from Iran)risks assassination by the Syrian secret police.

Isn't this really the truth: the Lebanese have a large Shia polulation who prefer Iran and Syria and their institutions over the U.S. and it's institutions(Islamic sholarship as opposed to science; "safe" totalitarian clerics over elected officials; the "devinely inspired" sharia instead of enlightened judicial review). And of course, add to this the absolute hatred of Israel as a neighbor. This segment of the Lebanese population simply does not want democratic institutions or peace with Israel and that's why it's perfectly OK to them to have their country run by the totalitarian regimes of Iran and Syria. Nasrallah is definitely their man.

Do they speak for all Lebanese in this splintered country or are they just the best-financed with the most weapons? We all know they have the money and the weapons and know how to start a war. Does anyone dare speak out against them or has Iranian money and Syrian assassinations silenced the rest of the population?

Mike:

I agree with Amena. We should stop medling in Lebanese affairs, let Syria take over again and be done with it.

I am tired of hearing people whine about us. Let's withdraw from the world and let what's going to happen happen. I don't really care about these other countries or their people anyway. Thy hate us. We should hate them too and ignore them.

Nadia, Beirut:

I was doing some reading and last night the now- former president Emile Lahoud
announced that Lebanon was experiencing the elements of a state of
emergency and called on the army to keep order. Now that there is no
president constitutionally, power would fall to the Council of
Ministers headed by the Prime Minister Foaud Siniora, but the
opposition considers this government illegitimate since a number of
its ministers resigned last November. Since it is illegitimate,
Lahoud who is aligned with March 8 has instructed the army not to
take orders from this government.

The problem with choosing a president is that most of the candidates
are from March 14 and March 8 finds none of them acceptable with the
exception of General Michel Aoun. Yet Michel Aoun is completely out
of the question for March 14. Last weeks negotiations centered around 2
possibilities: Robert Ghanem and Michel Edde. Robert Ghanem is
associated with March 14 and Saad El Hariri suggested that a
temporary government with a 2 year duration be created after which
parliamentary election would have taken place and a new president
would then be elected. This possibility was not appealing for March
8. The second possibility set out by March 8 was that former Minister
Michel Edde be president. This candidate is associated more with
march 8 but would have to prove to March 14 that he will not be taking
orders from Syria to be seriously considered. However Michel Edde is
now 81 and there is fear that his age might not allow him to fulfill
his six years as president. On Friday both these possibilities
appeared to be rejected and elections postponed. Further there are
divisions within each coalition. For example Michel Aoun accepts no
other candidate than himself. Another factor to
consider is the Annapolis summit dealing with the Middle East peace
process that will take place before next Friday and many speculate
that the United States will give new instructions to its preference.
So far the United States has refused to back any president that is not
explicitly from March 14.


Right now people are afraid. Movement yesterday was very limited. Most
classes at AUB were cancelled due to excessive student absences. Many
hope that both sides will now recognize the danger of the situation
and the need of both sides for compromise. This was shown in the
statements of a number of politicians most notably that of Walid
Jumblat.

It is clear that Hezbollah and the United states are on opposite sides
when it comes to who should become president. So far the US has been
unrelenting in its stance. The only way seems to be if one or both
sides compromise. The US should recognize the seriousness of the
situation and recognize the danger of the situation. It is unlikely
that Hezbollah will accept an explicitly March 14 candidate, especially
since part of its legitimacy of claim to power was embodied by
Lahoud. A March 14 president with a March 14 Prime Minister seems too
much to bear for Hezbollah.

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