S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Waking up to a new Middle East reality

It is not pretty nor simple.When settlers were forcibly removed last year from Gaza, the disengagement between Israel and the Palestinians became much more pronounced. Israel's then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had decided that the Gaza challenge could not be won or even sustained. He had built the wall, and gathered the stragglers from out there. Israel would retreat behind it. Closing themselves off from "the enemy," Hamas, had long been connected to religious fundamentalists in Iran. Now it is 2006 and enormous upheaval has occurred in the region:

  • Ariel Sharon forms a new centrist party in Israel
  • Sharon has a stroke, now unable to be Prime Minister
  • Hamas has won a majority in the Palestine parliament
  • Iran's president has called for the destruction of Israel
  • Israel's election will have a different outcome as a result
Optimism dashed - In my yesterday's post I optimistically speculated that things could conceivably turn out positively, despite the obvious dangers to the entire in the Middle East. It was impossible to maintain my optimism overnight. Reactions to the Palestinian elections are universally negative. It does not seem to be good news for anyone except Hamas and those sympathetic to their cause.
What now - So where does this leave the United States? Our current president says that Hamas will have to renounce terrorism, so them must be the end of it. Everyone will stay frozen in their positions: Hamas as the militant opponents, Israel as the beleaguered unwelcome settlers, the mullahs in Iran as the powerful behind-the-scenes religious authorities for Iraq and Palestine, and the United States as somehow The Fourth Side of Middle East Triangle.
The need for Middle East oil - It is an old reality we often forget, because this is "the elephant in the room" about which no one talks honestly. Countries in the Far East are heavily dependent on Iran for their energy resources. The United States is heavily dependent on Saudi Arabia for the oil we lack here at home.
Weapons of war - Fighting and killing have too long long been the reality for people trying to live normal lives in the Middle East. Iran depends on the Chinese for help with their nuclear program. Many Middle Eastern countries need the arms we supply. Our armed forces are still very engaged in Iraq. The current administration is talking as if Iran or Syria could be next on our attack list. Will Palestine get on the list next?
A clash of Fundamental philosophies - The fundamentalism of the religious right and of the neocons driving this president's decisions cannot rescue the emerging reality of the region. A very different group of religious fundamentalists and a radical political philosophy, over which the Republican administration has no control, now sit squarely in opposition to our current president and his radical backers.
The reality is - It is an impossible situation from which the Republicans cannot gain any victories. The best claim that can be made by our current president is that he has spread democracy. And that is actually the case - because there have been a series of truly representative elections in Israel, Iran, Iraq and now Palestine.
It is a real mess - It is a shame that all the players are so wedded to their positions. None seems capable of thinking new optimistic thoughts that entertain the possibility of peaceful solutions - those rashly optimistic thoughts I allowed myself as I posted here yesterday. Now I am back to reality.
My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is about becoming more authentic.

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