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, October 18, 2007

Confusing and confounding a fragile Middle East

There will never be a decent chance at regional stability in the Middle East until the decades-old conflict between Israel and Palestine is settled. On the one hand our current president, (OCP) appears to be working to settle things down in the area, because today we learned that National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is going to the Middle East next week. At the behest of OCP, Hadley will try to jump start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to My Way News. To quote from the story:

President Bush is sending his national security adviser to the Middle East next week to keep up pressure on Israel and the Palestinians to reach agreement on launching formal peace talks, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday.

The announcement came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she was encouraged by what she had heard from the two sides during four days of intense talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials and civic and business leaders in Jerusalem and Ramallah in the West Bank.

But Rice also acknowledged tensions between the two sides as they try to craft a joint statement that will be presented at a U.S.-hosted conference in late November or December at Annapolis, Md., where the United States hopes to announce the start of new formal peace negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
Nor will there ever be a decent chance at regional stability in the Middle East unless OCP deals more rationally with Iran (and parenthetically -- Russia). And on the other hand, just yesterday "Bush warns of World War III if Iran goes nuclear," to quote the raw story. These remarks made at the news conference of OCP yesterday were irrationally out of sync with efforts to bring peace to the region. This post includes the news conference video. Upon watching the news conference, one might wonder if the man has taken leave of his senses, somehow. To quote:
President Bush warned of dire consequences if Iran acquires nuclear weapons during a press conference on Wednesday, saying that he had told world leaders the country must be prevented from achieving nuclear capability "if you're interested in avoiding World War III."

"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," Bush said, responding to Russia's stated cautioning against military action targeting Tehran's suspected atomic program.

"So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," said Bush.
There will never be a decent chance at regional stability in the Middle East as long as OCP escalates the war of words between himself and the leaders in Iran and Russian. The resulting triangulated situation becomes more and more irrational as each man tries to out- "huff and puff" the others. OCP must steel himself against taking his adversaries' bait so easily. Middle East expert Juan Cole's post titled, "Putin and Ahmadinejad Pledge Cooperation," at Informed Comment, also noted craziness. I quote:
Farideh Farhi weighs in on the significance of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Iran, and the frustrations his olive branch to Tehran produced in Bush (who went a little crazy, talking about World War III if Iran gained the knowledge of how to produce a nuclear weapon).
There will never be a decent chance at regional stability in the Middle East as long as OCP holds such a distorted perspective regarding the true danger from Iran. That perspective seems to have clouded his thinking. It makes no sense. Steve Benen posted this blurb at The Carpetbagger Report; it echoes my sense of disbelief at the President's unfortunate choice of words. (I wonder which word Yglesias meant to use below - "inane" or perhaps "insane"-- the way I first read it). To quote,
Much of the president’s press conference today was devoted to discussion of the administration’s policy towards Iran, which was not at all encouraging.
. . . I was going to explain why this is crazy, but I see that Matt Yglesias beat me to it. I hope he won’t mind too much if I blatantly (-) borrow his observation.
Two points.
One: This is inane. World War III? Against Iran? Really? Because Iran seems a lot like a medium-sized middle income country with few military capabilities rather than a near peer-competitor of the sort against which you might fight a world war.
There will never be a decent chance at regional stability in the Middle East as long as our own leadership is held in such low esteem by us here at home and also abroad. Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly elicited a number of outspoken reader comments when he asked, "A few wee questions . . . What did George Bush mean when he suggested that Iran's nuclear program might bring on World War III?" To quote a few that clearly questioned the sanity of OCP:
Isn't trying to cypher a motive for any of these insane freaks about as open to interpretation as dream analysis?
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on October 18, 2007

Bush: I only have 15 more months to completely destroy civilization as we now know it. Then, they'll KNOW I am relevant!
Posted by: jcricket on October 18, 2007

Just a guess, but I think it means they're all nuts!
Posted by: Reddragyn on October 18, 2007

George Bush: Since no one takes me seriously on foreign policy any more I might as well ratchet up the stakes. How about the apocalypse, any takers?
Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 18, 2007

Fed Ex - When you absolutely positively need to get to heaven over night -
Posted by: nutty little nut nut on October 18, 2007

I'm guessing it all means the Republican Party is inhabited by people who are severely mentally ill.
Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on October 18, 2007
Confusing and confounding a fragile Middle East may not be the goal of OCP at this point, or perhaps it is. In any event, the use of the words "if you're interesting in avoiding World War III," were clearly out of proportion. Such words ignore the universal meanings assigned to those words by rational people. Else they would not have been used. Or, perhaps OCP was serious. Then what are we to think?
My links:
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about interpersonal relations.
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The Future Was Yesterday said...

I know you're supposed to be asking the questions, and I'm supposed to be (trying) to answer them, but I'd really like to hear your take on something:

The centuries old inability of that region (the ME) to ever achieve any meaningful peace for any length of time? And what exactly makes us think WE can do it?

Carol Gee said...

Future, I am going to take the liberty of also replying to your previous comment re PAA & FISA - You could never come across as a dose of acid rain. You are a rational dose of reality.
I guess we'll know when the FISA bill finally goes to the president's desk. You know me; I am an optimist.

I am pleased to take on your challenge of giving you my take on the long-standing difficulty of finding peace in the Middle East.
I'll begin here, and perhaps then continue with a regular post later.

First I think of geography. It is a cross-through region on the path between Europe and Africa as well having proximity to South Asia. All colonial powers have had designs on the lands.
Second I think of religion. There is an unfortunate history of religious leaders being willing to fight to the death to predominate. The Middle East is the seat of some of the contending religions.
Third I think of terrain. Deserts breed fierce and wonderfully resilient people, who are not terribly border conscious.
And last, in the modern era you have oil - Black Gold - Dubai's coin of the realm. Oil in the Middle East has made incredibly huge disparities between the have's and have-not's, not a recipe for easy peace.
As for (why) we are always taking on the role of peacemakers, I'm not sure. There were times when we have had the credibility to be seen as honest brokers, though not in several years. There were leaders who seemed to have a penchant for peace, such as Carter and Clinton. And now the conflict is a threat to our national security if it goes regional. And, of course, now also for the U.S. it is "all about the awl," Black Gold as it was know in Bush's Texas and Cheney's Wyoming. Ugh!
Future, thanks for the comment and your idea. Is it worth a whole post?

The Future Was Yesterday said...

"Is it worth a whole post?"
Jeeze, I thought you already had half of it written in your reply to me!:)

Only you can decide what's worthy of your efforts. I will only say I've not yet seen anything, in the short time I've read you, to suggest any post would not be worth the time to read it. If you do decide to post regarding that subject, you can throw out the last question. I already know the answer: because we're led by a complete idiot! Check my (still to come as I write this comment) next post. Perhaps that'll help you decide.

Granny said...

The Future is Yesterday recommended your blog so here I am.

I'll be back.

Ann (aka granny)

Is America Burning

(The link in my name takes you to my family oriented blog - quite a different story.)

Carol Gee said...

Granny, welcome! I visited Is America Burning and your "family" blog, too. I was struck by what a warm and validating community you have built in this strange world we call the blogosphere. I will be back there, also.
Did "Future" think you and I are "birds of a feather?" We may be.
Thanks for your comment, and thanks to Future for sending you.