Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Ronald Reagan was right after all
"History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap". You can mock an actor-turned-President, but his words still ring true.
Israel, Iran and Syria seem to believe, each in her own way, that provocation and aggression are cheap compared to the gains. The price is lives lost and the benefit is more security and glory for the living.
They all seem to have got their arithmetic horribly wrong.
Israel has lost not only more lives than expected, but also her invincibility and the moral high ground. Thus far, she has neither secured her future peace nor achieved eternal glory.
Iranian and Syrian rulers do not care much for lives lost, because they belonged to poor Lebanese villagers and the dead are martyrs on their way to heaven. The rulers have won public opinion and the propaganda war. They are losing the Hizbullah card but gaining another by radicalising the Iraqi Shia. Syria does not want be sidelined by the superpowers, but she will be. Iran wants to become a regional and nuclear power but she will not be allowed to.
So, are we back to square one, where it all starts all over again?
Tony Blair thinks it all hinges on an equitable resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. How original and how profound! Still, it is a welcome restatement of the blindingly obvious and better late than never. So, why don't we all sit back and let the Hamas and Israeli governments hammer out an agreement all by themselves? It seems that secret negotiations had already been underway between senior Hamas government and Israeli parliamentary figures when the current crisis broke out (or more accurately was provoked). Extremist elements on both the Israeli side and exiled Hamas-Syria-Iran axis side wanted to scupper the negotiations.
The Lebanese and their children are still paying with blood for the arrogance, miscalculations and brinkmanship of Iranian, Israeli and Syrian rulers. The US neocons were never going to be anthing but amoral sponsors of Israeli military deterrence-cum-aggression. Rumsfeld, Cheyney & Co will not be troubled by the loss of Arab or Israeli lives so long as oil remains on tap, new weapon systems can be tested and sold in the region and reconstruction work is paid for by the American tax payer.
It is high time that the Israelis and Palestinians settled their differences and shared the land equitably. The conflict has ruined the lives of two generations already and ordinary people on both sides are exhausted. Failure to turn this ugly war into a lasting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis will ensure that other powers will continue to exploit the conflict to their own advantage.
Will Mr Olmert and Mr Hanniya have the courage and vision to make their peoples' dreams come true? I hope and wonder.