Thursday, March 31, 2011

Here We Go Again

Of the close to four decades I've lived in the United States, this country has been involved in armed conflicts much of the time. During my teens there was the Vietnam War. It was impossible to get objective, truthful news. Propaganda was at work: night after night we the people learned about amazing victories against the Vietcong. Someone finally tallied up the number of enemy casualties as we had posted them and they exceeded the population of North Vietnam. This all happened before our Information Age and the Internet; I got quite a different picture by listening to my shortwave radio and reading the Finnish newspaper mailed to me daily.

After Saigon collapsed, involvement in Nicaragua, Grenada, former Yugoslavia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan followed (am I forgetting something?). Now we are playing World Police with certain Arab countries (but not all) where people are unhappy and restless. Egypt's Mubarak was corrupt but so is every other despot. We lost a partner and Israel a neighbor leader they could live with. Libya's Gaddafi is in our cross-hairs: much of this has to do with the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. Never mind that we shot down an Iranian passenger jet a few months before with many more dead. This was toward the end of the Iran-Iraq war where we took the side of Saddam Hussein, then considered our good friend.

Restlessness in Arab nations seems to be spreading although we are very selective with our involvement. Even in Saudi Arabia there have been demonstrations. The Saudis, too, have reasons to demand more freedoms. Western feminists should be screaming but I don't hear them; it would be nice to let a Saudi woman drive a car and have a life. But hell will freeze over before we take the side of their people over the reigning royalty. We ought to be fair: every country has to be treated in an equal fashion. Of course the real issue is our hunger for oil; the people may demand democracy without the slightest idea of what it is. One should be careful what one wishes for: it was important to the U.S. that the Palestinians vote. Now we (and Israel) have Hamas to cope with as the result, something we should have foreseen as a likely outcome in the Gaza Strip.

The Druze Star
The Middle East (or Near East, a term I prefer) is no closer to peace between Israel and its neighbors than many decades ago. Various times there have been negotiations but if they seemed to be heading toward a solutions, extremists on either side have taken care of the matter with violent acts. Perhaps the formula, using America as the mediator, is fundamentally quite flawed. Palestinians and their neighbors don't trust us and see us as Israel's partner (which we of course are). A new neutral party should be found, something both sides could respect. 

I am surprised that no one has thought of using the Druze in this role. Although their religion is based on Islam, Muslims don't consider them their own. For one thing, they are perhaps the most pro-women society on Earth. Also, they are not allowed to convert outsiders: nobody can enter or leave the fold. Though they represent just a small percentage of Israel's population, they willingly serve serve in the armed forces, many having reached high positions in the military. Of the neighboring countries, there are sizable populations in Syria and Lebanon. As the Druze are respected by both Israel and her adversaries, wouldn't that make them an ideal mediator? They should have no trouble seeing issues from both sides. 

Perhaps we have left the Druze out of the picture on purpose, fearing that peace just might happen. A scary thought indeed.