Friday, August 04, 2006

Middle East Again

I once heard a story about a man who was exorcised of a demon, and, you know what, seven demons came back.

As of August 4, 2006, the Middle East is in dire straits. What shall we do? In the Hezbollah-Israeli war there are two options: an immediate cease fire or a cease fire only after Israel has rendered Hezbollah impotent. One of these is bad, the other worse. The problem is we don't know which is which.

An immediate cease fire leaves Hezbollah to fight another day so the process will just repeat itself, since Hezbollah is not likely to accept any proposal that guarantees that they quit attacking Israel.

A cease fire after Hezbollah has been decisively defeated means that Arab hostility and hatred of the USA and Israel will grow worse throughout the region, making the prospects of peace even more dim.

In that other war, we are between Iraq and a hard place. There are two options. We can leave or we can stay. One of them is bad, the other worse. The problem is we don 't know which is which.

If we go now, the situation may deteriorate beyond any hope of redemption any time soon. If we stay, the situation may deteriorate beyond any hope of redemption any time soon. In either case a civil war may plunge Iraq into an indeterminate future of chaos and violence.

The problem is that the current situation in both cases has roots in a past that cannot be recovered. In the case of Iraq, it was a mistake for the US to invade to take down Saddam. Now we live with the consequences of that egregious blunder, and all proposed solutions now are fraught with great danger.

In the case of the Israel-Palestine-Arab conflict, the problem goes back to 1947 and 1948 with the expulsion of 700,00 Palestinians from territory now occupied by Israel exacerbated by the later expansion of Israel beyond the 1967 borders.

These past events have created a situation in which we face only options that are bad and worse, and we don't even know which is which, since we don't what the future would bring if one possibility is actualized rather than the other.

Sometimes it is better to live with one demon than to cast it out with the result that it and six relatives come back and take up residence. The problem is we don't know when to attempt exorcism and when not to.

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