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.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Strong "Community" - elusive Middle East goal

Cross-border conflicts continue to be the stuff of Middle East headlines this week. Violence and angry words, mixed messages from our current president (OCP), splits within Congress, and Iraqis becoming more and more factionalized, all characterize today's reality.
The world is favoring more and more fences, it seems, between members of groups. Rather than finding the common ground enabling them to tolerate the existence of the other at minimum, they split into smaller and smaller units of trust. They have no knowledge of how to be in community, in the best sense of the word. The news in the following stories causes me to think that far too many people desire to apart from each other.
Poor leadership in recent years has made the Middle East situation much worse. The leadership community of George W. Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Mashaal, Ehud Olhmert, Fuad Signiora, Nuri al-Malaki and Moqtada al-Sadr are collectively among the weakest of leaders. Lacking in diplomatic or visionary skills, these men rely on military or covert operations, or terrorism, at worst to wield power. They fail to deal with terrorism in smart and effective ways. And they fail to anticipate the unintended consequences of over-reliance on "democracy" and free elections to cure the region's problems. In short, none of these leaders seem capable of "being in community."
Cross-border attack - There is a vacuum of diplomatic leadership and involvement in Lebanon on the part of the U.S. government. From comes this inevitable headline: "Rockets from Lebanon hit Israel" (6/17/07) To quote,

Katyusha rockets have been fired into northern Israel from Lebanon in the first cross-border attack since last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah.

. . . Israel responded with five artillery shells into southern Lebanon, Lebanese security forces said, but an Israeli army spokesman denied the shelling was aimed at Lebanese territory, calling the exercise "artillery calibration fire" using empty shells fired into Israeli territory.

. . . Fuad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, said the attack had "political goals" and was aimed at destabilising Lebanon by casting doubts about the ability of the army and the UN peacekeeping force in South Lebanon to protect the border zone.

. . . An international peacekeeping force was deployed after the war to prevent further rocket attacks. About 400,000 Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon and they have been affected in recent weeks by fighting between Lebanese troops and armed Palestinian groups.
No mediation to be given - In the understatement of the year regarding lack of U.S. attention to the mid-east region, The Financial Times headlined, "US, Israel promise support for Abbas"(6/19/07). To quote,
It was not the job of the US president to mediate between Israel and Syria, Mr Olmert quoted Mr Bush as saying. “He has got many other things to do,” the Israeli prime minister said at a joint press conference.
"First Muslim Rep. mends global fences" is the headline from (6/19/07). The only Muslim in the U.S. congress has modeled a conciliatory spirit and working hard to solve problems. Our current president could take a lesson from his style. To quote,
With a few short words, Rep. Keith Ellison had just stunned a joint session of Congress.

Last March, Jordan's King Abdullah II had concluded his address in the House chambers with the traditional Arabic salutation, "as-salaam 'aleikum," which means, "Peace be unto you."

Ellison, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota and the first Muslim in Congress, instinctively replied, "wa 'aleikum as-salaam" -- "And to you be peace."

. . . A self-proclaimed "bleeding-heart liberal," Ellison says he wants to make a name for himself not just as a Muslim, but by pushing for better health care, reducing poverty, ending the war in Iraq -- and tackling predatory lending practices.
No reconciliation - headlined, "Abbas rules out talks with Hamas" (6/20/07). The United States abandoned peace efforts between Israel and Palestine when the current administration came into power. This story is the tragic result. To quote,
The Palestinian president has ruled out talks with the Hamas movement which he accused of trying to assassinate him and of carrying out a coup in the Gaza Strip.

. . . Abbas said Hamas replaced the "national project" with "its project of darkness", attacking the symbols of government in Gaza, including the house of the late leader Yasser Arafat.

It was Abbas's toughest speech since he fired the Hamas-led cabinet and replaced it with his own team of Fatah supporters and experts over the weekend.

[Abbas continued] . . . "It's a fight between the national project and this small kingdom they want to establish in Gaza, the kingdom of Gaza, between those who are using assassination and killing to achieve their goals, and those who are using the rules of law."
Egypt provides leadership - Once again the vacuum left by the U.S. lack of diplomatic effort in the Middle East is apparent. From Israel's "Egypt to host Olmert-Abbas summit next week" (6/21/07) To quote,
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II to attend a summit in Egypt early next week, a senior aide to Abbas said Thursday.

The meeting will focus on bolstering Abbas and opening diplomatic channels between Abbas and Olmert, following the Hamas takeover in the Gaza Strip last week and the establishment of an emergency government in Ramallah over the weekend.

. . . Olmert reached an understanding with United States President George W. Bush during his visit to Washington on Tuesday that it is necessary to support Abbas, a senior political source in Jerusalem said Wednesday.
Shiites fight - Bogged down in an increasingly factionalized Iraq, the current administration seems incapable of taking in the implications of this reality. From the New York Times came this very sad headline, "Shiite Rivalries Slash at a Once Calm Iraqi City " (6/21/07), from which I quote,
The Shiite heartland of southern Iraq has generally been an oasis of calm in contrast to Baghdad and the central part of the country, but now violence is convulsing this city. Shiites are killing and kidnapping other Shiites, the police force is made up of competing militias and the inner city is a web of impoverished streets where idealized portraits of young men, killed in recent gun battles with Iraqi and American troops, hang from signposts above empty lots.
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