Sunday, July 20, 2008

Israel’s Schizophrenia

By Rick Morris

I am a man of very strong opinions on a variety of subjects; I could not sit at the helm of this FDH Lounge otherwise, inasmuch as it is teeming with strong-willed and intelligent individuals. This group really keeps you on your toes – it’s pretty easy to be humbled by the knowledge of some of these Dignitaries when they start discussing a subject they know well.

But as I’ve said to fellow Dignitary Burrell Jackson, the subject of Israel is one that vexes even the ability of someone like me to form a strong opinion. I support wholeheartedly the right of the Israeli people to live securely within their borders, but I’m not in agreement with the most militant Likud uber-hawks who see perpetual war against enemies far and wide as a feasible option. Burrell’s general skepticism of Israeli foreign policy is certainly a more coherent point of view than my hesitant support and hesitant denunciation of different moves made by that country.

So it figures that I’m very confused by two developments coming out of that very consequential country this past week. But the rub is that I don’t support either policy and I’m more militant than Israel on one issue and much, much less so on the other. Confusing times indeed!

First, this asinine hostage swap that the nation made with Hezbollah. They traded a bunch of murdering thugs, including a proud and unrepentant child-killer, for two mutilated bodies? WHAT???

That episode was very instructive, however, in that the aforementioned murdering dirtbags were celebrated as heroes not only by the usual cowardly suspects in Hamas and the avowed terrorist groups, but also by the “moderate” Fatah and Palestinian Authority leadership. File that note away for future reference.

Next, word comes from an authority in Israel (who sure sounds like he’s in the know) that the country will attack the Iranian nuclear facilities sometime during the US presidential transition period from November to January. Apparently, the government is scared by what they perceive as Barack Obama’s pacifism and they don’t want to wait to be constrained by his administration (side note: can anyone deny anymore the concept of “peace through strength”?). This attack, as Friend of FDH Scott Pullins has chronicled, would have disastrous effects for the region and almost certainly the entire world. Arnaud de Borchgrave, one of the foremost authorities on the Middle East, has predicted oil at $400 or $500 a barrel in the wake of the catastrophic aftermath of an attack and Iranian countermeasures (including widespread terrorism).

In a world already inflamed by an ill-advised American campaign in Iraq that bled what had been the world’s lone superpower of blood and treasure, the consequences of the Bush/Cheney “wink and a nod” to Israel can hardly be overstated. Any hope that the “12th imam” suicidal dodobirds in Tehran are not going to try to take the world down in flames with them will be extinguished once they are at war with their mortal enemy. This will include the activation of sleeper cells worldwide (including the follow-up to 9/11 that we have avoided on American shores), horrific attacks on our troops in Iraq just as the country is finally being pacified and complete disruption of the world’s oil supply. The final factor alone will kill a great many poor people across the globe, an element that should, but will not, show up on the pros-and-cons list regarding a war that will be easily started and almost impossible to finish. The Bush Administration’s belated 11th hour attempts to work out a way to avoid this war through back channels are almost certainly too little, too late, although they’ll certainly be trumpeted by this crowd as (false) evidence that they did everything they could to avoid the coming Armageddon.

For Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a man who seems to be neither fish nor fowl as a man of neither the left nor the right, this schizophrenia has been etched in the DNA of his wretched stewardship of the country. When the country moved into open war against Hezbollah in 2006, a move that had some justification given the attacks that had been waged against civilian territory out of Lebanon, he waged it with one hand tied behind the nation’s back. Are you seeing a pattern here?

^ Go to war against Hezbollah. Appease the right.

^ Fight a subdued war. Appease the left.

^ Give Hezbollah a huge victory by returning murderers and bloodthirsty terrorists. Appease the left.

^ Prepare to start what will almost surely become a globe-shaking nuclear (and/or biological/chemical/radiological) war against Iran. Appease the right.

I’m not a citizen of Israel, just an observer half a world away, but here’s a radical thought. What do you say you install a leader who doesn’t try to pander to both extremes at the same time, but somebody who rationally tries to navigate the most trying set of circumstances that any national leader anywhere on Earth faces? It couldn’t hurt to try.

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