Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Go Build Some Houses Jimmy

Every dictators favorite coddler, former president Jimmy Carter, had an Op-Ed in today's Washington Post about the current situation in the Middle East and he made a couple very perplexing points that I'd like to address. Here's the first passage:
It is inarguable that Israel has a right to defend itself against attacks on its citizens, but it is inhumane and counterproductive to punish civilian populations in the illogical hope that somehow they will blame Hamas and Hezbollah for provoking the devastating response. The result instead has been that broad Arab and worldwide support has been rallied for these groups, while condemnation of both Israel and the United States has intensified.
I have to say that this passage has a major contradiction. One of the consequences of Israel defending itself is that civilians are accidentally killed from time to time. This might come as a shock to Jimmy, but it is impossible to avoid civilian deaths in this situation when Hezbollah fighters are dressed in civilian clothing and firing from civilian population areas. Carter almost seems to suggest that Israel is deliberately punishing the civilian population in Lebanon in order win support from the people of Lebanon. Unless the leaders in the Israel are drunk and high (which I doubt they are), I seriously doubt this is why they are bombing Lebanon so heavily. No, one of reasons why they are bombing Lebanon so heavily is that they are trying to take out staging areas where Hezbollah are firing rockets into Israel that are deliberately aimed at civilians. Fortunately, the rockets they've been firing so far have been fairly inaccurate for the most part.

This leads me to my next point which is related more to the general situation in the Middle East than to Carter's Op-Ed. In reading the media coverage of this situation and seeing comments from world leaders like Kofi Annan, I seriously wonder if I'm living in some bizarro alternate universe. All I hear about is how heavy handed the Israeli response is and how Israel must immediately agree to a cease-fire. I have to say what about Hezbollah? Aren't they, unlike Israel, intentionally targeting civilians. Why is this not being talked about by world leaders and the MSM? While the civilians deaths have been fewer on the Israeli side, I would say they would be much higher and probably higher than the civilian death count in Lebanon if Hezbollah had similar military technology to the Israelis. Here's another questions I'd like the MSM and world leaders who are condemning Israel to answer. Would not an immediate cease fire be a victory for Hezbollah and would not an immediate cease fire encourage future aggression by Hezbollah?

Ok, back to the Carter Op-Ed. After condemning Israel for its aggression in the current Middle East conflict, Carter then gets to the heart of the matter:
These are ambitious hopes, but even if the U.N. Security Council adopts and implements a resolution that would lead to such an eventual solution, it will provide just another band-aid and temporary relief. Tragically, the current conflict is part of the inevitably repetitive cycle of violence that results from the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, exacerbated by the almost unprecedented six-year absence of any real effort to achieve such a goal.

Leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to preempt all opportunities for building a political consensus. Traumatized Israelis cling to the false hope that their lives will be made safer by incremental unilateral withdrawals from occupied areas, while Palestinians see their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds surrounded by a provocative "security barrier" that embarrasses Israel's friends and that fails to bring safety or stability.

The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal.

A major impediment to progress is Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

While I would agree that the hard-liners at times in Israel have had too much of a say in Israel's policy towards Palestine and have hurt peace talks, to say that Israel deserves most of the blame in the breakdown of peace talks is a down right ludicrous argument. The Israeli government could be run by the most peace loving individuals, a government filled with Jimmy Carters if you will, but would that mean peace in the Middle East any time soon. Hardly. Why? Because the Palestinians are controlled by fanaticals (mainly Hamas) who believe that Israel should be wiped off the map. It's kind of hard to have peace when one side believes the other side should not exist. Until the hard-liners no longer dominate the conversation on either side, there will be no lasting peace.