Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another Proxy War - Stop It Now!

I am a veteran, a former paratrooper. It was in the U.S. Army that I learned what war is all about. It is ugly, creating pain for everyone involved - even those who are not hurt, and those who "win". War seldom solves problems, and if it does solve problems it solves them at incredible cost in lives and dollars. Negotiation resulting in firm agreements is far more preferable than war, and effective negotiation is what is needed to end the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.

It is clear that Hezbollah's goal of eliminating Israel cannot be achieved through negotiation and that Hezbollah is therefore not interested in negotiation. Only through effective diplomacy involving those who finance and supply Hezbollah can a lasting solution be achieved to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The facts are clear regarding Iran using Hezbollah as a proxy in its campaign to destroy Israel, so Iran must be confronted and made to change its behavior regarding Israel. If this is not done now, the danger to world stability will only increase over time as Iran becomes richer and stronger militarily.

In general, the world community must unite to condemn and eliminate military actions by non-governmental proxies. Governments are the only entities that can negotiate in good faith and make agreements that will last. Proxies are "loose cannons", often lead by fanatics who have no interest in negotiation and who are willing to sacrifice innocents in order to achieve their objectives. Countries that openly support military-oriented proxies must be held accountable.

With respect to Israel, the only solution to the long term problem is that Israel's arab neighbors guarantee Israel's territorial boundaries and its security. Those boundaries and the conditions for security are negotiable, and it is in Israel's interest to negotiate in good faith toward resolving these longstanding issues. The world powers need to generate the leverage to move the countries in the middle east toward such a settlement. Given the historical framework and religious antagonisms that make negotiations difficult, getting the parties to agree will be very difficult. But what alternative is there? Without a settlement, ongoing low-level proxy war may well mutate into a regional confrontation with worldwide implications. Let us pray, and work, for a solution that establishes conditions where all the middle east countries can prosper in peace.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Merkel Massage - More Kid Stuff From Bush

Our dear President Bush is back in the limelight again, this time caught on tape giving an improptu shoulder massage to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G8 conference. It was nothing, really - just a simple expression of cameraderie from one friend to another. And, in truth, that was all it was. Except that the gesture came at exactly the wrong time and place, if it should ever have come at all. The simple explanation is that George W. Bush just never grew up and therefore continues to live in the kid's world that he never grew out of.

The kid's world: nicknames, constant references to friendships (gotta have 'em), bravado (bring 'em on), "can't be wrong" syndrome, wife who seems a lot like a mommy, and lastly, putting hands on pals. That's the kid's world of George W. Bush, who seems to believe he becomes a grownup when he puts on his tailored suit. Sadly, that's not what happens. GWB just does childlike things in an adult disguise. No secret to those other canny folks on the G8 who want George W. to believe that down deep they all want to live in his treehouse.

Looking back, it's easy to see why our current president was nominated in 2000. The Republican powers like Big Dick Cheney and Karl Rove didn't want any candidate who had sufficient brains and maturity to think for themselves. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani were far too adult for Cheney and Rove - they needed someone who could be manipulated. George W. fit the bill perfectly...simple, gullible, looking for approval from parent figures, poorly educated, not well traveled. He was an easy mark, and his strings have been expertly pulled by Big Dick and Company since day one.

Incidents like the one with Angela Merkel occur because even Big Dick can't keep a public "minder" on GWB. Our President's got to go out and mix with the real grownups, and there's no place for a minder to hide - it would be just too obvious. So, don't be surprised by the Angela Merkel massage. It's just the kid in George W. showing up again, and it's too late for him to grow up now.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Leave Iraq - It IS a Civil War - And Can Chaney

Sorry to say, Dick Cheney and his neo-conservative buddies really screwed it up. They saw a victorious U.S. in Iraq, with cheering throngs of Iraqis fervently embracing democracy while the oil wells pumped money into their revitalized economy. Others with much experience in the region saw a nation deprived of the dictator who held it together by force, disintegrating in a paroxysm of sectarian violence as the oil pipelines dried up due to sabotage. Cheney was wrong, and he and his pals have cost the United States over $300 billion in direct costs of the war and far more financial pain due to oil price escalations and interest on that $300 billion for who knows how say nothing about over 2,500 Americans killed and over 15,000 wounded. All for nothing. Iraq has disintegrated into civil war, and Iran stands to be the primary beneficiary. The Republican members of congress are slowing twisting in the wind due to their foolish support of Bush's big gamble.

Time to get out and let the Iraqi government own the problem! It's obvious the "build the Iraqi defense forces and police" strategy will fail due to the rampant sectarianism, the need to settle old scores with Saddam's people, and the endemic corruption. Democracy was only a dream, dreamed by deluded Republican idealists who never considered wearing the uniform of this country. The Iraqis are going to settle this on their own terms, bloody as those terms may be. Perhaps the final "lesson learned" from Bush's escapade will be that the world sees just how ruthless and bloody a civil war between two Muslim sects can be. And maybe other Muslim countries will be so outraged and sickened by the carnage that they are motivated to stop their idiotic terrorism - both internal and external. We can only hope...

Oh, I almost forgot. Shouldn't Bush fire Cheney after the Republicans lose at least one house of Congress in the fall, due largely to Iraq? Small price to pay for the Big Dick! What we really need is a good excuse to put him in jail for a long time. Ken Lay's ENRON was small potatoes compared with Big Dick's Iraq Debacle!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bush Needs Stem Cells!

Well, it's another day in the life of the Bush presidency. Mr. "No Veto" was willing to go along with out of control spending to the tune of $298 billion this year, but he's not willing to submit to the will of Congress and the people of his own country on the issue of embryonic stem cell research. He will sign a bill encouraging research on adult stem cells (certainly none of his!) as a smokescreen for his brainless cowtowing to the religious right and the Roman Catholic church hierarchy, which must make up the majority of his 30% support at the moment (the remainder being mostly those who aren't smart enough to get into the Army).

It's hard to imagine a president who's been so wrong on the things he was for (Iraq war, No Teacher Left Standing, constitutional amendments on gay marriage and flag burning, busting the budget, intrusive government) and so wrong on the things he was against (talking with Iran and North Korea, embryonic stem cell research, alternative energy, recognition of global warming). The only issue where he's right is immigration reform, but that's going nowhere. George W. Bush will go down in history as one of our least effective presidents, and also one of the most damaging to America's national interests.

Perhaps embryonic stem cell research will result in a therapy to improve intelligence. The trouble is, Bush just isn't smart enough to understand that he might be a prime candidate for the cure.