Friday, July 14, 2006

Put On Your Rapture Helmets

Contrary to the rosy picture sold to Congress when they stupidly gave Bush authority to invade Iraq, the Middle East picture is a thousand times more dangerous today than in more than two decades.

In a perpetual cycle of violence, Israel and Palestinians have been fighting on and off forever. But not since the Middle East erupted into war between Lebanon and Israel has the world seen such large-scale violence as in the last few weeks.

The latest warfare began when Palestinian militants killed two Israeli soldiers, kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit and then demanded Israel release all Palestinian prisoners. Israel responded by sending hundreds of troops into Gaza to extricate their captured soldier, firing thousands of shells and killing Palestinian civilians along the way. Palestinians then retaliated by firing rockets that reached nearby Israeli towns.

In an effort to create distance between their villages and Palestinian rocket strikes, Israel fortified their forces in the southern part of Gaza, killing Palestinians with more mortar shelling in the process.

Hizballah, a terrorist group inside Lebanon and ever the stealthy enemy, seized the opportunity in the conflict and fired rockets and mortars of their own. They attacked a military unit inside the Israeli border that killed eight Israeli soldiers and then abducted two more.

The Israeli prime minister blamed the new fragile democratic Lebanese government; the Lebanese government insisted that they were not responsible. In the meantime, the United States blamed Iran and Syria as the State Department called for restrain. France, Russia, Britain and England called Israeli response "disproportionate" to provocation.

“We just continue to ask that the Israelis exercise restraint, be concerned about civilian casualties, be concerned of course about civilian infrastructure," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is quoted by the Washington Post.

Hmmm, words spoken without even a tiny glimmer of authority or hope. Israel’s immediate response today was to blockade Lebanon and shut down Beirut’s airport.

The Associated Press also reports that militants “blew a hole in the border wall” between Egypt and the Gaza Strip as hundreds of Palestinians subsequently crossed the border; they had been stranded since the fighting began.

Yep, the Bush administration’s cheerful prediction of peace and prosperity in the Middle East has born fruit of the reaping kind. In an excellent column in the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne writes of Bush's preemptive theory as nothing short of a "Big Bang Theory in Ruins."

He notes the promise of “[n]ewly empowered Muslim democrats [that] would reform their societies, negotiate peace with Israel and get on with the business of building prosperous, middle-class societies" is exploding into smithereens.

And in a trip down memory lane, Dionne quotes Cheney from 2002.
"Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of jihad," Cheney said. "Moderates throughout the region would take heart, and our ability to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be enhanced."

But instead as Dionne reminds readers, “Israeli troops batt[e] on their northern and southern borders…Iran ignore[s] calls for negotiations on nuclear weapons…Baghdad [is] in flames and…many of Iraq's moderates liv[e] in fear.”

Someone besides the American taxpayer and our poor soldiers should have to pay for this cataclysmic foreign policy failure. Nutwing Christians, notwithstanding, let us hope the abyss can be averted in time.

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