Monday, November 06, 2006

Understanding the U.S. Problems in the Middle East in Two Easy Stories (updated to full circle)

Many people have a hard time understanding why the U.S. has such a difficult time in making progess in the Middle East. It's really quite simple. Let me use two recent news stories to demonstrate.

First up, the typical U.S. position.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday said it saw signs that Syria, Iran and Hezbollah militants were trying to topple the Lebanese government and warned them to keep their "hands off."

White House spokesman Tony Snow said in a statement that the United States believed one of Syria's aims was to prevent the Lebanese government from setting up a tribunal to try those accused of involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

"Support for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon is a key element of U.S. policy in the Middle East," Snow said.

"We are therefore increasingly concerned by mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments, Hezbollah, and their Lebanese allies are preparing plans to topple Lebanon's democratically elected government led by Prime Minister (Fouad) Siniora," he added.
In a briefing with reporters, Snow declined to cited evidence of the U.S. accusations, saying the information was classified.
Essentially, we treat countries in the M.E. (all but one) as little children. No explanation, no argument, simple commands and a "we know better than you" attitude. That first story continues with more, shall we say "overwhelming", hypocrisy.
"And if you have the example of a stable democracy that's able to fend off terror -- in the case of Lebanon, from Hezbollah -- then you have an opportunity to create an entirely different set of circumstances in the Middle East," Snow said.
The strange thing is that Hezbollah recently won kudos (locally) from fending off Israeli terror that was trying to topple their entire country.

Now we move on to the other story.
Four Palestinians, including two civilians, have been killed as Israeli forces launched a second day of strikes in Gaza, continuing one of the largest raids in the strip in recent months.

Helicopter gunships, backed by tanks and ground troops, tightened their grip on Beit Hanoun, said by the Israeli army to be a base for militants launching rocket attacks into Israel, with 300 fired from the northern town in recent months.

In response, the Palestinian President urged the US to intervene to stop the raid, which has so far killed 12 Palestinians in total, including seven militants, as well as an Israeli soldier.

Today helicopter gunships sent missiles hurtling into the town, while about 50 tanks patrolled and other tanks fired several rounds from the other side of the Israeli-Gaza border.
[full story]

The death toll for the latest incursion has recently jumped dramatically since I ran into that story. The updated version.
BEIT LAHIYA,Gaza Strip - A 17-year-old student was killed in a Gaza air strike on Monday, as Israel pressed an assault against militants that has left 50 Palestinians and one soldier dead in six days.

The offensive, the latest in four months of Israeli operations in the territory where more than 300 Palestinians have been killed since a soldier was captured in late June, has been condemned by the international community.

Student Mahmud Ashrafi was killed and nine other Palestinians, two of them five-year-olds, wounded when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile on the town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, a medical source said.

Witnesses said the militants who were the presumed target of the air strike escaped unscathed but that the missile exploded near a bus carrying children to school.
[full story]

So..on the one hand the U.S. is warning Iran and Syria against intervening in the affairs of another country. One the other hand, the U.S. unilaterally invaded a sovereign country and plunged it into choas. One the third hand, the U.S. stands by as Isreali bombs the crap out of Lebanon, and does the same in Gaza.

Now, is it any wonder the U.S. has become so very reviled in the region? And is it any wonder that our word is now shit there?

It shouldn't be. If we truly want peace, we must do more to stop those who would continue to escalate it.

UPDATE: Understanding terror.
A young Palestinian woman has blown herself up in a suicide bomb attack on Israeli troops in northern Gaza, injuring one soldier but also wounding a number of civilians.

The suicide bombing came in the northern town of Beit Hanoun, and Israelis will see it as further evidence of a terrorist menace there.

But many Palestinians will regard the attack as an act of desperate resistance.
In the past six days more than 50 Palestinians have been killed in northern Gaza. Most of them have been militants, but civilians are continually being caught in the violence.

And nowhere has the hardship been greater than in the town of Beit Hanoun.

It has been under the very tight control of a large force of tanks and troops who have ordered the tens of thousands of local people to stay off the streets for all but very brief periods.

A senior United Nations official, John Ging, has described the atmosphere in Beit Hanoun as one of "death, destruction and despair".

People are living in constant fear.
And all Palestinians would argue that Israel grossly over-reacts to the missile attacks from Gaza.

The crudely made rockets often cause panic and minor injury, but they very rarely kill.

In response, though, Israel has launched a major military operation that has gone on for more than four months and led to the death of around 350 Palestinians - many of them civilians.

During that time, three Israelis have died. All of them were soldiers, and one of them was shot accidentally by his own side.
[full story]

And the cirlce of violence goes on...much like the circle of life...just down instead of up.

UPDATE: You want terror, you got terror.
At least 19 Palestinian civilians were killed and dozens were wounded following an Israeli artillery attack on the town of Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, the Israeli daily Haaretz reports.
The Israeli army confirmed that an artillery battery fired 12 shells, aiming at a Qassam rockets launching pad. The shells diverted one kilometer from their destination. Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz ordered the army to investigate the incident and present him with the conclusions.

The town of Beit Hanoun is located on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, only a few miles from Israeli communities. Its citizens are caught between Palestinian terrorists who are using its location to fire at Israel, and Israeli troops who operate against them.

Hamas is now calling to resume terror attacks in Israel. Palestinian Prime Minister Isma'il Haniyya, called on the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency session to discuss the "massacre in Beit Hanoun."
[full story]

UDPATE: Full Circle Finish.
THE United States vetoed a UN Security Council draft resolution yesterday that condemns an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip and demands Israeli troops pull out of the territory.

Ambassador John Bolton said the US was "disturbed" that the Arab-backed draft resolution is "biased against Israel and politically motivated".
A few things on this...1) I can't wait until that Neocon idiot is gone. 2) Umm,'s biased against a country that sluaghtered 19 people last week. 3) If you want a political solution, you need to be politically motivated.

The jackass continued...
He told the council: "This resolution does not display an even-handed characterisation of the recent events in Gaza, nor does it advance the cause of Israeli-Palestinian peace."
Ummm, so it didn't point out that no one has been killed by Palestinian rocket fire since mid-2005 and over 300 Palestinians have been killed during the same period? Guess what...the situation is NOT "even-handed". It would have advanced the peace, what it doesn't advance is the idea that Israel can do no wrong and is justified in their killing of innocent people because they are trying to kill terrorists. That kind of "end justifies the means" logic is the reason the U.S. lost in Iraq, and is creating more terror in the world.

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