On Speaking Out Against A War

May 1, 2007 at 6:53 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Democracy, freedom, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, violence, War | Leave a comment

(UPDATED)

Glenn Greenwald highlights the stark difference between two democracies that were recently in wars (or still in one) and how the people reacted to the wars, especially when they went bad.

Israel fought against Hezbollah last summer. It was a grand failure. Israelis immediately began speaking out against the war, and no one called them traitors or anti-Israel.

America has been in Iraq for over four years now, and throughout the ENTIRE PROCESS anyone who spoke out against the war was branded a traitor, a terrorist lover, an anti-American.

Mature societies do not make decisions by wondering what the Bad People want and then automatically doing the opposite. That is the mindset of a child. Had that perspective prevailed in Israel, they never would have issued this report, and likely would never have withdrawn from Lebanon at all — because: “hey, Hezbollah wants withdrawal from Lebanon and will be ’emboldened’ by it and happy about this Commission report and therefore we can’t do any of that. We have to stay and fight and stifle criticisms of the war, otherwise Hezbollah will be happy.”

But Israel recognized it did not have the luxury of concealing its errors or continuing to fight a misguided war, notwithstanding what Hezbollah might say about that. As the Commission put it: “No-one underestimates the need to study what happened in the past, including the imposition of personal responsibility. The past is the key for learning lessons for the future. . . One Israeli society greatest sources of strength is its being a free, open and creative (sic).”

He concludes with this scathing rebuke of our conservative Americans:

All of that stands in such stark contrast to the shrinking though still-substantial faction in this country who see war as a fun and sterile video game that never requires them to pay any price — no matter how profoundly the war fails. That is what enables them to cheer on those wars for years without end, to urge still new and more destructive ones, and to childishly insist that there is something noble and compulsory about keeping quiet, loyally cheering on the Leader’s war, and pretending that things are going great and we are on the verge of success.

Indeed, while the Israelis who were actually at risk from the Lebanon war wanted it to end, the crazed (and safe) neoconservative warmongers in the U.S. were furious when the war ended. And — needless to say — they ran around accusing everyone responsible for the war’s end of appeasement and cowardice and all of their other inane war-cheering platitudes that have driven this country so tragically off-course.

Only people who have adolescent views of war — only people for whom war is a distant, cartoon concept and not a reality, the primary purpose of which is to endow themselves with personal sensations of strength, power and purpose in the most risk-free manner possible — have the luxury of indulging such fantasies. That is why the Israelis do not and cannot, whereas America’s right-wing pretend warriors embrace those fantasies with increasing vigor and desperation as the failure of their wars become more inescapable.

I really can’t add anything to Mr. Greenwald’s eloquent writings. Those of us who thought this was a fool’s adventure from the start were always wondering why our patriotism was questioned. Our loyalty is not to a man. It is to the country. As such if a man makes a bad decision, the truly patriotic person SPEAKS OUT!

(Update)

Gary Kamiya writes in Salon about the same claims of defeatism from the desperate crowd.

War supporters are counting on a certain level of John Wayne war-movie immaturity on the part of the American people, a Technicolor conviction that America is ordained to be, must be, eternally victorious. But Americans are more grown-up than that. They know America, like every other country, sometimes loses. Many of them lived through Vietnam, and they know that the sky did not fall. They are quite capable of weighing the pros and cons of the Iraq war and making a rational cost-benefit calculation about whether it’s worth continuing to fight. They understand the concept of a tactical retreat, of cutting your losses, of losing a battle but winning the war.

Bush is talking like Churchill, but it’s an empty act. He’s a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. He’s stalling, hoping for a miracle that will save him and his bungled war. But the end is coming. The only question is how many more people will have to die before it does.

He is a defeated man, searching for others to blame for his defeat. Nothing more profound can be said about Bush.

Finally Some American Realism!

February 18, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military, neo-conservatives, North Korea, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Vietnam, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | Leave a comment

This is the second time I recommend an interview on the Hugh Hewitt show, but he’s getting people on there who are unafraid to tell it how it is. This time, he has Retired General William Odom who said it like it is and smacks Mr. Hewitt’s attempts to smear him back to the stone age. I’m glad to see some smart talk finding its way again on the conservative side. It’s been a while. Perhaps someday soon conservatives will realize the poison they’ve been drinking at the well of neo-conservatism.

After the bump, I’ve got some of the better sections of the interview. Upon reading these quotes, note that you are reading the words of a man who is not afraid. Note the use of fearmongering in Mr. Hewitt’s questions. Instead of following the bait, General Odom paints the clear picture of reality. Continue Reading Finally Some American Realism!…

The Unintended Consequences of the Israeli-Hezbollah War

January 23, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Posted in condoleezza rice, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon | 5 Comments

Israel launched a destructive war on Lebanon, in an attempt to weaken Hezbollah and return the soldiers Hezbollah captured in a brazen attack. However, Israel’s 34 day war went so poorly that while Hezbollah-run cities were demolished, Hezbollah’s standing both in Lebanon and in the Arab world skyrocketed. And now, today, Hezbollah demonstrated strongly against the Lebanese government, further weakening Lebanon’s democratic government.

Is this the “birth pangs” Ms. Rice was talking about last summer would come of supporting Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon?

A Report on Lebanon and Hezbollah

January 9, 2007 at 11:45 am | Posted in Hezbollah, Lebanon | Leave a comment

Michael J. Totten spends a lot of time in Lebanon, reporting on what is happening with Hezbollah. His reporting is magnificent, and recommended reading for all interested in what is happening in the Middle East. I’m not going to comment on his latest offering, except that I highly recommend that you read it.

So This is Our Victory

Just What Has Condoleezza Rice Done?

December 29, 2006 at 3:34 pm | Posted in American politics, condoleezza rice, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, North Korea, Somalia, War on Terror, World Events | 2 Comments

A new article delves into this question: just what has Condoleezza Rice done as Secretary of State? Is it her intervention that stopped the Israel-Lebanon War? Has she accomplished anything in stopping Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology? Has she done anything to stop North Korea’s belligerence? Has she done anything to solve The Sudan genocide? Has she done anything to stop this war between Somalia and Ethiopia? Has she gotten the insurgency in Iraq to come to a political table and participate in governing Iraq? Just what exactly has Condoleezza Rice done as Secretary of State?

Moreover, just what did Condoleezza Rice do as National Security Adviser?

And was she this inept as Provost of Stanford?

Let me tell you, we’re lucky that we have such few conflicts to deal with right now…

Condoleezza Rice and Her Wishful Thinking

December 18, 2006 at 12:59 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, Democracy, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lebanon, Republicans | Leave a comment

Remember “birth pangs?” That from a woman who, to my knowledge, has yet to give birth…

Well, she continues her delusional logic on the Middle East. As Fred Hyatt says:

“The United States has always been most effective when it is leading both from power and principle,” she said. And: “I don’t see how the United States of America can ever back off of that commitment in the search somehow for stability — which I am quite certain will be a false stability.” The false stability, she implies, of accommodating dictators in Syria and Iran.

This is a moment of emerging “clarity” in the region, the secretary says, “one of those critical junctures in international politics . . . because a lot of the old bargains in the Middle East have really collapsed.” With the lid lifted, there’s a struggle between Shiite and Sunni to redefine their relationship. There’s a struggle inside Islam to redefine the roles of politics and religion.

Most of all, Rice says, there is a struggle between extremism and moderation. The United States needs to “act smartly in that new strategic context rather than being drawn back to the old strategic context in search of, I think, a stability that no longer exists. . .” That false stability, again. Which is why, she says, she resists talks on Iraq with Syria’s strongman and Iran’s mullahs. If they perceive it in their national interest to help stabilize Iraq, they will do so in any event; if not, the price they demand will be exorbitant — the United States standing aside as Syria regobbles Lebanon and Iran pursues its nuclear dreams.

But here’s where things get a bit more complicated than Rice in her fluency makes them sound, because the forces of moderation — the “mainstream actors,” as she calls them — are hardly all democratic, and the fruits of democracy are hardly all moderate. The good guys, in her view, include dictatorships (not her word) such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, while democratic victors include extremist actors such as Hamas in the Palestinian territory and Moqtada al-Sadr in Iraq.

It grows even more complicated when Rice attempts to fit the neat strategic frame of moderation vs. extremism over the mess her administration has helped create in Iraq. Rice says the United States must encourage Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders of the “more moderate center” to work together and to isolate and move against their respective militias. But what if those parties see each other as the enemy, and each value their own militia or terrorists as means of pressuring the other?

I never understood the logic. We prop up authoritarian dictators (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan) with our right hand while preaching democracy (Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon) with our left….and then when groups (Hamas, Hezbollah) are democratically elected that we don’t like, we not only do not give them support, but undermine their efforts….can someone explain to me why we could possibly think this will work?

Then again, when this White House takes counsel from the likes of Kissinger who said of an earlier democratically elected government America did not like:

“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”

…well, are we really fighting for democracy or not? if we say we are, our actions are surely on the other side of the world from our rhetoric. Does that not undermine the cause of democracy? Or, is the real answer a little more nefarious? Maybe we don’t actually care about democracy. I mean, if we really did, we’d be happy that Hamas won. After all, that’s what the Palestinians wanted.

Then again, I do fear that some conservatives might just get violent if a very liberal person were to become president here in America. I think this is how much they don’t really care about democracy, but about having someone in place that is more ideologically pure.

Backing the Shi’ites In A Civil War

December 11, 2006 at 9:59 pm | Posted in American politics, Iran, Iraq, King George, Lebanon, Muslim, Religion, War on Terror | 4 Comments

Josh Marshall critiques the possible plan of siding with the Shi’ites in a civil war with the Sunnis in Iraq. He states it like it is.

The irony of the plan to possibly back the Shi’ites against the Sunnis is that Iraq is surrounded on all fronts but one by Sunni majority countries, including our strongest Arab ally, Saudi Arabia. The Shi’ites’s biggest ally in the Middle East? Iran, of course. So the plan apparently is to support the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis, brothers to the Saudis and the Syrians and just about everybody else in the Middle East except the Iranians and some Lebanese. Oh and those Lebanese happen to be Hezbollah. Oh and Al-Qaida sees Shi’ites as heretics, so they are fine with lumping them with Americans. Does this even make sense?

Of course, Bush could never side with the Sunnis in a civil war against the Shi’ites. Saddam Hussein is a Sunni. To back the Sunnis means backing the Baath party. Furthermore, Al-Qaida is Sunni. Wouldn’t they love to see America backing Sunnis in the sectarian conflict against the heretics!

The big question is why did no one really consider these before invading Iraq? Then again, as I’ve shown before, our leaders weren’t that caught up to the differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites, were they?

How tragically sad this whole situation is right now! All so that George W. Bush could be re-elected and not fall to the same trap his father fell in. Like I said, Shakespeare would write his greatest tragedy if he were alive today.

They Still Don’t Know The Enemy

December 9, 2006 at 8:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Congress, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Republicans, Syria | 2 Comments

Jeff Stein writes in the CQ that leaders of Congress still do not know the enemy. The incoming House Intelligence Chair, Mr. Reyes (a Democrat) much like the Republican leader he asked earlier this year, did not know the fundamental differences between Shi’ites and Sunnis. Such as which sect Al-Qaida belongs to, and Hezbollah:

Now the five-term Texas Democrat, 62, is facing similar unpleasant surprises about the enemy, this time as the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

That’s because, like a number of his colleagues and top counterterrorism officials that I’ve interviewed over the past several months, Reyes can’t answer some fundamental questions about the powerful forces arrayed against us in the Middle East.

It begs the question, of course: How can the Intelligence Committee do effective oversight of U.S. spy agencies when its leaders don’t know basics about the battlefield?

To his credit, Reyes, a kindly, thoughtful man who also sits on the Armed Service Committee, does see the undertows drawing the region into chaos.

For example, he knows that the 1,400- year-old split in Islam between Sunnis and Shiites not only fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq, it drives the competition for supremacy across the Middle East between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.

That’s more than two key Republicans on the Intelligence Committee knew when I interviewed them last summer. Rep. Jo Ann Davis, R-Va., and Terry Everett, R-Ala., both back for another term, were flummoxed by such basic questions, as were several top counterterrorism officials at the FBI.

I thought it only right now to pose the same questions to a Democrat, especially one who will take charge of the Intelligence panel come January. The former border patrol agent also sits on the Armed Services Committee.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

We warmed up with a long discussion about intelligence issues and Iraq. And then we veered into terrorism’s major players.

To me, it’s like asking about Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland: Who’s on what side?

The dialogue went like this:

Al Qaeda is what, I asked, Sunni or Shia?

“Al Qaeda, they have both,” Reyes said. “You’re talking about predominately?”

“Sure,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“Predominantly — probably Shiite,” he ventured.

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.

That’s because the extremist Sunnis who make up a l Qaeda consider all Shiites to be heretics.

Al Qaeda’s Sunni roots account for its very existence. Osama bin Laden and his followers believe the Saudi Royal family besmirched the true faith through their corruption and alliance with the United States, particularly allowing U.S. troops on Saudi soil.

It’s been five years since these Muslim extremists flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center.

Is it too much to ask that our intelligence overseers know who they are?
Civil War

And Hezbollah? I asked him. What are they?

“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…”

He laughed again, shifting in his seat.

“Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

“Pocito,” I said—a little.

“Pocito?! “ He laughed again.

“Go ahead,” I said, talk to me about Sunnis and Shia in Spanish.

Reyes: “Well, I, uh….”

I apologized for putting him “on the spot a little.” But I reminded him that the people who have killed thousands of Americans on U.S. soil and in the Middle East have been front page news for a long time now.

It’s been 23 years since a Hezbollah suicide bomber killed over 200 U.S. military personnel in Beirut, mostly Marines.

Hezbollah, a creature of Iran, is close to taking over in Lebanon. Reports say they are helping train Iraqi Shiites to kill Sunnis in the spiralling civil war.

“Yeah,” Reyes said, rightly observing, “but . . . it’s not like the Hatfields and the McCoys. It’s a heck of a lot more complex.

“And I agree with you — we ought to expend some effort into understanding them. But speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.”

Reyes is not alone.

The best argument for needing to understand who’s what in the Middle East is probably the mistaken invasion itself, despite the preponderance of expert opinion that it was a terrible idea — including that of Bush’s father and his advisers. On the day in 2003 when Iraqi mobs toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad, Bush was said to be unaware of the possibility that a Sunni-Shia civil war could fill the power vacuum, according to a reliable source with good White House connections.

If President Bush and some of his closest associates, not to mention top counterterrorism officials, have demonstrated their own ignorance about who the players are in the Middle East, why should we expect the leaders of the House Intelligence Committee to get it right?

Trent Lott, the veteran Republican senator from Mississippi, said only last September that “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people.”

“Why do they kill people of other religions because of religion?” wondered Lott, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, after a meeting with Bush.

“Why do they hate the Israelis and despise their right to exist? Why do they hate each other? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference?

“They all look the same to me,” Lott said.

He’s doing a little better than the Republicans did Mr. Stein asked earlier this year, but still unacceptable. Shouldn’t we know a little more about our enemies than we do? I mean, the more we know about them the easier it will be to discover their weaknesses and defeat them. Sun Tzu was a smart man.

Why Do Mormons Still Support Bush So Strongly?

December 3, 2006 at 4:32 am | Posted in America, American politics, Cheney, Christianity, Church, Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, Israel, King George, Lebanon, Military, Mormon, Religion, Republicans, Rumsfeld, Syria, War on Terror | 12 Comments

I’m really befuddled. Why do so many Mormons still support Bush?

Just today, his departing Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo which he, no doubt, leaked to the press as well, which in effect calls the Iraq strategy a failure. One fascinating aspect about this memo is how he recommends the very same policy John Murtha recommended ONE YEAR AGO! Here is what Rumsfeld said:

Another option calls for redeploying American troops from “vulnerable positions” in Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.” That idea is similar to a plan suggested by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a plan that the White House has soundly rebuffed.

Here is what John Murtha said one year ago:

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.

This was the typical reaction from Republicans:

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: “Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil.”

Here is another conservative:

In a statement that has angered, embarrassed and humiliated Marines around the globe, one of our own — a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel — has called for the legendary fighting force to retreat from Iraq and surrender to the terrorist organization that has killed thousands of Americans at home and abroad. He has even called for the United States to enter into negotiations with al Qaeda. This vermin’s demand for retreat, surrender and negotiations with the enemy is so committed to assisting al Qaeda in their efforts in Iraq that he has posted his unspeakable demands on his website in the form of an official statement.

The traitor, Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha, agrees 100% with Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that the Marine Corps, which is mangling the enemy on a daily basis in Iraq and suffering comparatively light casualties, should lay down its arms, call it quits, and abandon the people they are defending in the fledgling democracy of Iraq.

Furious Marines from wars as far back as World War II are spitting mad at the cowardly colonel and many want his head on a stake in the middle of the Marine Corps Commandant’s lawn. Personally, I would not soil that good earth with so vile and despicable a piece of offal.

Encouraging retreat is viewed as aiding the enemy by the Marines and is a violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is punishable by death. Currently serving Marines, active duty or reserve, who encourage surrender are in violation of Article 100 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, an offense also punishable by death. Because Murtha is retired, he is virtually assured of not being prosecuted.

However, he will be celebrated by al Qaeda and other terrorists around the world. At this very moment, al Qaeda communications specialists are likely prepping pieces of propaganda using Murtha’s traitorous tirade as a tool to recruit fresh killers by showing them that even an American Marine (apologies to Puller) believes his allegedly beloved Corps is so inept in battle that retreat and surrender are the Marines’ best option and perhaps should, in fact, be added for the first time to the Leathernecks’ vast, quasi-mythical repertoire of operational art and battlefield strategy.

Murtha joins the likes of traitor Clayton Lonetree, the Marine security guard who gave top-secret intelligence to the Soviets, and traitor Robert Garwood, the Marine who went over to the enemy during the Vietnam War and was involved in holding and abusing US prisoners of war in North Vietnam while wearing the uniform of the enemy.

The Marine Corps is famous for its members standing their ground and winning fights against outrageous odds. Battles with names like the Peking Legation, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Fallujah decorate the hallowed halls of Corps history. Especially repugnant is how Murtha is insisting upon surrender while the Marines are decimating the enemy en masse.

Marines should ask Murtha if Chesty Puller would order retreat and surrender before the enemy.

John “The Jellyfish” Murtha should be shunned by all Marines and, if possible, legal steps should be taken to prevent this betrayer from being buried in a national cemetery upon his demise.

And yet another:

Jack Murtha’s call for immediate disengagement took him far outside the boundaries of legitimate disagreement. He has never been able to articulate any plausible basis for his position on Iraq. There is a simple reason for that. There isn’t one.

Reasonable people cannot differ about whether or not the United States should press forward with our war against the terror masters. For the time being Iraq is inevitably the principal front in that war. A congressman who tries to duck his share of the responsibility for prosecuting that war is displaying moral cowardice. Any American who recommends retreat is injuring his own country and calling his own patriotism into question.

Almost all the Democrats in the House understand this, which is why only three of them would vote on the record for retreat.

We mark the boundaries of legitimate disagreement by the way we characterize arguments that lie outside them. What Jack Murtha did last week wasn’t just wrong. It was cowardly and disloyal. That’s the truth and Jack Murtha deserves to hear it.

But, Mr. Murtha was right. And now the departing Secretary of Defense agrees with Mr. Murtha’s recommendation. I wonder if we will hear the same venom, the same call for his head from these same people as they did to Mr. Murtha. I doubt it.

Anyways, that’s a side topic. Let’s get back to Bush. His departing Secretary of Defense released a memo that states clearly that their Iraq policy is not working. Meanwhile, Bush continues to look cheerful even as he says:

“I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq has been unsettling,” Bush said.

Unsettling? Fifty-One people just died today in three coordinated market blasts. Unsettling? Why do Mormons still back this guy?

Worse yet, no leader in the Middle East supposedly trusts the Bush Administration to get it right.

But instead of flaunting stronger ties and steadfast American influence, the president’s journey found friends both old and new near a state of panic. Mideast leaders expressed soaring concern over upheavals across the region that the United States helped ignite through its invasion of Iraq and push for democracy — and fear that the Bush administration may make things worse.

President Bush’s summit in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister proved an awkward encounter that deepened doubts about the relationship. Vice President Dick Cheney’s stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, yielded a blunt warning from the kingdom’s leaders. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s swing through the West Bank and Israel, intended to build Arab support by showing a new U.S. push for peace, found little to work with.

In all, visits designed to show the American team in charge ended instead in diplomatic embarrassment and disappointment, with U.S. leaders rebuked and lectured by Arab counterparts. The trips demonstrated that U.S. allies in the region were struggling to understand what to make of the difficult relationship, and to figure whether, with the new Democratic-majority Congress, Bush even has control over his nation’s Mideast policy.

The Saudis are warning Cheney, Rice gets at best a cool reception in Israel and Palestine, Bush was snubbed by the man he needs desparately in Jordan, King Abdullah of Jordan warns of more civil wars in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran continues quietly to build their nuclear program. Syria continues interfering in Lebanon, and the world now further distrusts America.

So I ask again, my Mormon friends, why do so many Mormons still think this guy is a good guy? Do we not believe that by their fruits we shall know them? What are the fruits of President Bush? A divided America, civil war in Iraq, further civil wars possible throughout the Middle East, no one trusting Bush. Could any president have done more to weaken America’s standing in the world than Bush has these past six years? No. That’s not only bad for America, but that’s also bad for our church. I am asking that you join with me in calling for the resignation or impeachment of President George W. Bush. Believe in your conservative principles. Where’s the shrinking of the government? I’ve not seen it these past six years. Where’s the fiscal responsibility? Why are we putting our wars on credit cards for our children to pay? Why are we going to war with countries based on faulty intelligence, and then when things start going bad, we blindly, stupidly, stubbornly say we need to “stay the course,” when staying the course is the worst possible option to choose? There are so many things wrong with the Bush administration, so many ways that they act counter to Conservative principles. How can you guys still back him? Is it because he throws you a bone—whether it be gay marriage, or abortion, or tax cuts—so you stay mollified and silent while he goes counter to all your other conservative principles?

I pray that you consider my request. Before this gets even worse. Think about it, how can Bush act effectively with the rest of the world if he is no longer taken seriously by anyone?

The Middle East and the Jaredites

November 24, 2006 at 12:42 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Lebanon, Mormon, Muslim, Religion, War on Terror, World Events | 2 Comments

David Ignatius has a great op-ed in the Washington Post today on what he calls the Politics of Assassination, in reference to the murder of Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese Christian politician. He says:

A disease is eating away at the Middle East. It afflicts the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Lebanese, even the Israelis. It is the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force — the power of physical intimidation. It is politics as assassination.

This week saw another sickening instance of this law of brute force, with the murder of Pierre Gemayel, a Lebanese cabinet minister who had been a strong critic of Syria. Given the brutal history of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, there’s an instant temptation to blame Damascus. But in this land of death, there are so many killers and so few means of holding them to account that we can only guess at who pulled the trigger.

I am reminded, sadly, of another group of people with a similar knack for the use of violence and political assassination: The Jaredites. Who are the Jaredites? They are a people in the Book of Mormon (the Olmecs from what we know archaeologically), who left during the time of the Tower of Babel, crossed the Pacific and found their promised land. In Ether 9:4-12 we read the following:

4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.
5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.
6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.
8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.
9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.
10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.
11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.
12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.

The Jaredites focused on revenge and reprisals instead of the religion they espoused. Sounds very similar to the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius continues:

The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination. So many things are going right in the modern world — until we reach the boundaries of the Middle East, where the gunmen hide in wait. Those who imagined they could stop the assassins’ little guns with their big guns — the United States and Israel come to mind — have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong.

This is a time of convulsive change in the region, and many doors are being pushed open. Syria has an opportunity to leave behind its drab Cold War trench coat and become a modern, prosperous Mediterranean nation; Hezbollah, the militia that represents Lebanon’s dispossessed Shiite population, has a chance to lead its followers into political power and prosperity. But they won’t realize these opportunities so long as the politics of assassination rules the region. If Syria and Hezbollah keep brandishing their power like a grenade, it will ultimately blow apart in their hands.

In Ether 11:5-7 we see the worsening of the violence:

5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;
6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.
7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.

When we see the terrible destruction violence has upon the Iraqis, with the attack just yesterday killing now over 200 people, is this destruction bad enough yet to make the Iraqis see the futility of the use of violence? Sadly, I do not believe that will end their hate. The Iraqis (and Lebanon is following in this path), are starting to look a lot like the Jaredites:

Ether 13:25-27

25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.

Ether 13:31

31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.

Ether 14:8-10

8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.

Ether 14:21-24

21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the ascent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.

It got so bad that even when Coriantumr realized just how horrible things have gotten, he tried to make amends with his enemy, who still wanted this head. This was impossible with his people, and thus the violence continued:

Ether 15:1-6

1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.
3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.
4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.
5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.
6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.

Ether 15:19-22

19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.
21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.
22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.

Ether 15:29-30

29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had aall fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.

Thus ends a civilization.

Middle East Progress, in the Wrong Direction

November 21, 2006 at 4:17 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, King George, Lebanon, Syria, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Two pieces of news from today that highlight just how wrong things are going right now. A Lebanese Christian political leader, and an anti-Syrian advocate was assassinated today in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Iraq is resuming diplomatic ties with Syria. If I were a Bush supporter I would be asking myself, “wait a second, why is this happening?” What good did it do to support Israel’s bombing of Lebanon back in July? What good was it to take out Saddam if the new government renews the ties with Assad? Or is this what Bush supporters call progress in the right direction?

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