Tuesday, July 18, 2006

World War III?: Link Roundup

It's irresponsible to be a liberal blogger, like myself, and not pause to reflect on Israel's War, which is hopefully not our war. Before I do, let me give you some links to my "go to" blogs on the Middle East with some sample excerpts to whet your appetite:

(1) Unclaimed Territory(Glenn Greenwald): Openly Debating U.S. Involvement in Israel's War and Is Israel's War Also "Our War"?

We have 140,000 soldiers sitting in the center of the Middle East, and we have had multiple skirmishes in the past with both the Syrians and Iranians as a result of our activities in Iraq. In a climate where the administration's most prominent and loyal followers are urging that we wage war on those two countries, and with the administration itself at least sounding as though they are tempted by the idea, the likelihood of unintentional escalation, or reckless expansion of our war, is extremely high. If that is really a risk which our country wants to take after a full and open debate on the topic, so be it.

But the last thing that ought to happen is a repeat of our invasion of Iraq, where we began an extremely risky and misguided war against a country that wasn't threatening us without meaningful media scrutiny and therefore without a meaningful debate. The debate was not meaningful because objections to the war were stigmatized as seditious or even anti-semitic. That is a mistake that the U.S. cannot afford to make again.

The fact that the administration does not intend to wage war on Iran and/or Syria doesn't mean that such a war won't occur. And if the administration has not committed itself yet to causing such a war, they sure don't appear to be shying away from it either. They surely know full well that they are playing with gasoline near a raging fire, and they appear to be indifferent to the risks, if not actively seeking them. Why that is the case, and whether it is wise, must be topics that are fully open to examination.

(2) Once Upon a Time (Arthur Silber): The Impossibility of Discussing Anything At All and The Danger Spreads and It's Much Later Than We Think: Why It Is Not Our War

JUST TO ADD: I didn't state this earlier, primarily because I consider it so painfully obvious. There is an alternative to this increasingly out of control spiral of events. If the Bush administration wanted to, they could bring all the pressure at their disposal to bear on the various parties involved -- which pressure is fairly monumental, it should be noted -- and arrange for an immediate cease fire, to be quickly followed by intensive negotiations. The negotiations might not work in the end, but at least a period of reprieve would give everyone a chance to catch their breaths, and reconsider where this path is leading.

Of course, that assumes that peace, and not war, is the administration's objective. Since we invade and occupy countries that never threatened us, and because this administration has all but interred diplomacy for good, the evidence is now close to absolutely conclusive that this is not, in fact, the administration's aim.

(3) Hullabaloo(Digby): In Plain Sight

I think we all know his name is Dick Cheney, original signatory of the PNAC and the man who stated baldly that he came into office with ideas about executive power and America's place as a sole superpower that he's been percolating since the late 70's. Cheney has been playing a long game, much longer than anyone else in the administration. Like a shark, he is single minded, focused and relentless. By his standards, and the standards of his multi-national corporate and neocon theorist patrons, he has been tremendously successful so far. They do not see the dangers staring them in the face, or if they do they truly believe the risk (and the blood and money) are worth it. They have no doubts.

It's tempting to write them off as a bunch of kooks, but it is their kooky vision that is right now playing out in the mid-east. It's not that they are necessarily directing it, to be sure. But they are always prepared to take advantage of circumstances that advance it. And like all historical leaders of aMarch of Folly they believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that everything will turn out ok in the end.

(4) The (liberal) Girl Next Door: World War III: Good for the GOP, Bad For Everyone Else

I have little doubt that this situation will escalate further and will eventually draw in Iran and Syria. Perhaps the Bush administration is hoping that Israel will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it might also be the perfect opportunity for the Bush administration to do it themselves. They’ve wanted to cripple Iran for a long time, why would they pass up the chance to do it now? Of course it would be a stupid move and disastrous for America if we did allow the violence to escalate into World War III, but as Newt Gingrich pointed out this weekend, it would be great for the Republicans in the mid-term elections. Gotta love those Republicans, always looking on the bright side, or rather looking out for the bright spot for themselves.

And just imagine all the new war money that will pour into the bank accounts of the contractors that have probably stolen as much as they can while using Iraq as a shield, time for a new war. World War III will give them new cover, new no-bid contracts for new munitions, new fighter jets and maybe even some new nuclear warheads. But the cherry on top will be a new lease on life for the Republicans who will be able to use fear once again to keep their hold on power. Never mind that it was their ridiculous neo-con fantasies that brought us to this point, they will still be able to sell their “tough on terrorism” crap to the American public if they convince us that this is the big one. All they have to say is, “Do you really want wimpy liberals who aid and abet the enemy in charge during a war that could likely threaten the homeland?” Hey, it worked like a charm when we were only talking about rogue terrorists, it will work even better if we’re talking about a World War and nuclear warheads pointed at our cities.

(5) firedoglake: Every Bomb Makes Hezbollah Stronger(Steve Gillard)

The problem is that war cannot solve the problem Israel has with Hezbollah. They cannot fight a two or three front war. They need a buffer zone and no more attacks and that will only come from negotiations.

I think that’s dawning on the IDF commanders, that their force has limits, they’ve made their points, and every dead child seen on TV enhances their enemies. It may not be reflected in New York, but the EU looks aghast at this, and it doesn’t help Israel’s long term security

In fact, one might think Hezbollah wanted this attack, knowing the Israelis would react in such a disproportionate manner. One trick in warfare is to get your enemy to act in a predictable way, They knew an ambush and kidnapping would work to do just that.

While a lot of people are reflexively pro-Israel, they don’t get that Israel is being demographically engulfed by Arabs. If they want Israel to last, there has to be peace, meaningful, real peace. There will come a day when the Arabs can resist the IDF and after that, Israel will have no leverage.

(6) Michael Lerner (at Alternet): Middle East Violence: NeoCon's Fantasy

In my books Healing Israel/Palestine (North Atlantic Books, 2003) and The Geneva Accord and Other Strategies for Middle East Peace (North Atlantic Books, 2004) I show that both sides have a legitimate narrative that needs to be heard and recognized by the other side; that neither side will ever prevail through violence, and that each side needs to acknowledge that it has been unreasonably cruel and insensitive to the needs of the other.

Yes, of course it's clear that in the last forty years Israel's had the upper hand and has used its power in an immoral way. But these are peoples with long historical memories, and Israeli partisans are as unlikely to convince Israelis whose families escaped oppression in Arab lands that there was no Arab oppression of Jews as Palestinian partisans are to convince the Palestinians that they never really lived in the homes in Palestine from which they were expelled by the wars from 1947-1967.

Nor are we likely to get to peace by trying to discount the fears of Israelis and Jews who face a stream of violence -- from terrorist attacks to Hamas-launched Qassam rockets to physical assaults on random Jewish people from Paris to Moscow -- than we are to convince Palestinians that Israel is merely being sensibly defensive and exercising its right to protect itself. These kinds of triumphalist narratives must be abandoned.

But they won't be as long as Bush and his advisors in the neo-con camp see in the current violence yet another opportunity to reframe the Middle East struggle as one that will provide ex post facto justification for the war in Iraq and enticement for new militarist adventures to destabilize or overthrow oppressive regimes in Iran and Syria.