I am genuinely frightened by the turn of events in the Middle East. I wanted to write about it for this issue of Kibbles & Bytes and my first inclination was to simply write, “STOP it, you miserable dolts! Stop killing each other!” or to quote Rodney King “Why can’t we all just get along?” and then “end soapbox,” but that is way too flippant for what is the most serious conflict of modern times.
I am conflicted myself about this war. I firmly believe that Israel has a right to exist without rocket attacks, kidnappings, and suicide terrorist attacks, but I also just as firmly believe that the massive and horribly destructive attack by Israel is not any better way to solve this crisis. They are not crippling Hezbollah, they are actually probably strengthening that terrorist group in much the same way that we are strengthening and recruiting new terrorists in Iraq.
As the most influential player in the Middle East, we have been opposing an immediate cease fire. From my point of view, all cease fires are good, all cease fires should be immediate, and to oppose a cease fire is to endorse a bloody war. We have steadily lost influence in the Middle East due to the mistaken actions of George Bush and the current administration. Before Bill Clinton left office, the world was on the brink of a lasting Middle East peace agreement. Now, it seems as elusive as a cure for global warming.
The stakes are getting higher as Syria and Iran are involved and are pledged to the destruction of Israel. Newt Gingrich said that we are witnessing the start of World War III, and while I shudder every time I agree with something Newt says, I agree that this conflict has a tremendous potential to make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous quotation become the first law of Middle East conflict:
“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. So it goes. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…. The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
The fact of the matter is that the more Israel defends itself militarily, the more the opposition grows in numbers and strength. The more that Hamas and Hezbollah attack Israel, the more fierce Israel becomes in defending its existence. It is only through diplomacy and respect that this struggle will be resolved. An immediate cease fire is essential to stop the suffering of innocents, to prevent the destruction of a new democratic Lebanon and its infrastructure, and to take the first step toward restoring peace and hope in a region torn by war after war, senseless terrorism, and stifled potential.
But what happens when the bullets and bombs stop? I think that we have a tremendous opportunity to make peace by stopping war. We must renounce the use of violence and have a renewed commitment to the United Nations and diplomacy. Our diplomatic creed must be that we will talk to anyone at any time in the name of peace. We should hold one-on-one talks with Syria, with Iran, with North Korea, with Hamas, with Hezbollah — with anyone who is willing to come to the table to talk about peace. Like it or not, the United States is perhaps THE most important player in the Middle East and we have a solemn responsibility to renounce war and violence as a solution to anything.
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