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.

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