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From the Right Side ...

To err is a human quality &

133;

One is forgivable, while the other is contemptible.

Last week, president George Bush, televangelist Pat Robertson, and local loudmouth, yours truly ratcheted up the emotions that come with civil discourse. George asked for more patience, more death, and more determination. Pat asked for just one death. I asked what was all the whining about as the steps toward a peaceful resolution between two parties in the Middle East were being implemented.

You would&

ve thought I was the one asking for executions based upon the hate mail I received.

Let&

s begin with the president&

s remarks.

In his weekly radio address, Bush once again called for Americans to be patient with the decision to maintain a military presence in Iraq.

"Our efforts in Iraq and the broader Middle East will require more time, more sacrifice and continued resolve," he said. "Yet people across the Middle East are choosing a future of freedom and prosperity and hope. And as they take these brave steps, Americans will continue to stand with them because we know that free and democratic nations are peaceful nations."

War is far more than the notion that &

they&

(whoever they are) will suffer more casualties than us. As Bush correctly states, war requires sacrifice. That sacrifice includes losing family members to extended military missions. Long periods of time, from months to years, children suffer enormous loss and are raised without the benefit of both of their parents, married spouses live as single parents, relationships fail over the course of war-induced separations, and men and women of our military are traumatized by the horrific real-life images they&

ve witnessed and even caused.

And certainly, some of them are making one-way trips, even as others will return with fewer body parts than which they left. These are enormous sacrifices that no one should ask of anyone without obvious good reason.

The same sacrifices hold true for those who battle against us.

In order for Bush to legitimately request more American families to risk dissolution and more of our brave military members to risk their mental health as well as their very lives, the reason why our nation initiated this action in Iraq, and continues to remain tethered to that region, must be rock solid and understood, as well as supported, by the people of this country.

However, few can articulate the ever-evolving rationale for maintaining a U.S. force in Iraq, much less the &

broader Middle East,&

whatever that means. But if we plan to &

sacrifice&

more American lives, at least we should understand and agree with the reason.

Shouldn&

t we?

Those who are doggedly pro-&

whatever Bush says&

are hard-pressed to show cause why the U.S. began its illicit incursion into the Middle East in 1953 in a CIA mission known as Project Ajax, which was Eisenhower&

s cooperative ploy with Great Britain to undermine the government of Iran, unseat its Prime Minister, install a brutal shah (whose father was an ally of Hitler) and recover the lost Anglo-Iranian Oil Company that British Petroleum (BP) controlled prior to Iran&

s newfound nationalism (what we call patriotism in America).

Did the public know about this decision by our government, much less agree to it?

The U.S. and Great Britain were able to control Iran through its puppet leader for 26 years until the Iranian Revolution of 1979 ushered in the Ayatollah Khomeine, the loss of easy petroleum from the world&

s largest reservoir, and the gas crisis so many of us recall as we endure the burden of today&

s inflated prices.

When we speak of war, we speak of tragic circumstances for many people based upon the decisions of very few. And thus, those decisions deserve careful scrutiny. In supporting the troops, it is our duty to protect them from those who would send them to their death for unethical and immoral reasons, even as they would die to protect us from those would do us harm.

The burdens we bear as a society today in the War on Terror, and the sacrifices we are requested to make in Iraq, Afghanistan (and other places soon to be revealed), stem from the establishment of government policy in the Middle East that was based solely upon maintaining U.S. access to oil in that region. The U.S. and Great Britain did not undermine Iran and take control of its oil reserves in order to free the Iranian people. Nevertheless, the risks taken were high and continue to reverberate throughout America to this very day.

The Kurds of Iraq, with whom we now pretend to have great friendship, were supported by Iran, at the behest of the United States, in a war against Saddam Hussein and his regime in 1974. The Kurds were battling for independence. Iran was following orders and the U.S. was seeking a better method of transporting oil. So, when Saddam agreed to a treaty that provided waterway transport of Iranian oil down a river to the Persian Gulf, the support of the Kurdish fight for autonomy (what we call freedom) was abandoned. Once again, the bottom line for America was oil, not freedom.

In 1979, after Iran exploded over president Jimmy Carter&

s admission of the former Iranian Shah into the U.S., the American intervention in Middle Eastern affairs for the sake of black booty shifted to Iran&

s neighbor, Iraq, where the U.S. assisted Saddam Hussein in an eight-year battle against the Iranians during which Hussein was accused of using chemical weapons as well as a host of other atrocities. Ironically, it is the U.S. government that stands today as Hussein&

s accuser, even as it was his ally during the invasion of his neighbor and even afterward, when he was still being accused of war crimes.

During that war, which took the lives of more than one million (1,000,000) Muslims and impacted millions more with injuries and family losses, it was discovered that the U.S. was in support of both the Iraqis and Iranians in what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. While Americans were focused on Iran, Central America and the charges against a sitting president, the Muslims in Iran were not surprised to hear a familiar name that had become synonymous with evil during our support of the Shah, but Hussein was quite surprised to find himself involved in such a costly war while his supposed ally was supporting his enemy.

In 1987, it was the U.S. that was surprised.

The USS Stark, sailing in the Persian Gulf, was struck by two French-made Exocet missiles fired from an Iraqi fighter jet. She sailed home with 37 less sailors. Iraq claimed it was a mistake. A few months later (1988) it called off its war against Iran.

In 1989, the USS Vincennes had a &

mistake&

of its own, shooting down a fully loaded Iranian passenger airliner. All aboard were killed.

In 1990, as Hussein assembled his elite military (trained and equipped by the United States) and set them against the border of Kuwait in a dispute over oil, ambassador April Glaspie was sent by president George H. Bush to tell Hussein two things: 1) We wished to remain friends, and 2) we wanted to discuss the price of oil.

It is difficult to listen to the current president request more sacrifice of American lives, when Bush&

s own father was playing kissy-face with Saddam a week prior to telling the world how much of a Hitler-esque tyrant he was and a threat to the U.S. and the world.

That was not error. That was deception.

That was in 1990.

In 1991, the U.S., in a total disregard for the sanctity of religious places and lands, sent hundreds of thousands of troops into Saudi Arabia, the very seat of Islam and the home of Osama bin Laden, who had recently returned home from fighting the Soviet Union in defense of another Muslim land &

133; Afghanistan. Bin Laden was not amused at the notion of hundreds of thousands of western forces invading the land of the two holy mosques (Mecca and Medina) in an effort to use the Saudi kingdom to attack yet another Muslim country. He was at odds with both his own government and the invaders &

133; the United States. His attention turned from the communists to the western imperialists.

The U.S. and Great Britain prevailed, of course.

But not without cost.

That invasion of Iraq from Saudi soil allowed the U.S. and Great Britain to set up military shop in both the southern and northern areas of Iraq and remain there engaged in intermittent battles and skirmishes with the Iraqis for the next 12 years.

And you and I are told we invaded Iraq in 2003, rather than 12 years prior.

In the meantime, the American public was seemingly oblivious to attacks on our military:

1995 &

Bombing of American service members in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

1996 &

Bombing of American service members in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia

1998 &

Bombing of two U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya

2000 &

Bombing of USS Cole in Yemen

With each attack more warnings came out of the Middle East saying the same thing: get out.

But with the loss of oil from Iran, the oil coming out of Iraq had to suffice. And the U.S. just wasn&

t about to give it up.

Then it happened.

They were finally able to cross the ocean and hit the world&

s strongest nation and the planet&

s best military, at its headquarters &

133; the Pentagon.

While you and I were watching towers implode and fellow citizens die, our government was watching a battle unfold on our home soil from a war in which it had been engaged for more than a decade. And it then decided to ratchet up the aggression, and place you and I at greater risk. We were told to expect more attacks.

Now we know why.

Afghanistan was merely a prelude to Iraq. And Iraq may merely be a prelude to Iran.

The bottom line is that this president, like his father, is not making mistakes. He is following a policy that was initiated in 1953 and formally established in 1980 with the Carter Doctrine, which states we will use military force to ensure the protection of &

vital U.S. interests&

in the Middle East.

Polls show severely declining support for what has rapidly become purely and simply, Bush&

s battle to forcibly insert a western-style government under control of the west somewhere into the Middle East.

The &

broader Middle East&

(meaning Islam) is well aware of its history of being invaded and controlled by western powers. It is fighting against such an incursion in Iraq today.

Unfortunately, the sacrifices Bush asked of us were based upon the premise that our president made a good decision, against the positions of most of the nations of the world, including the United Nations, upon which much of the motivation for military action was based. That basis changed when it was discovered that the country at which we pointed an accusatory finger wasn&

t guilty of our accusation. Today, our president continues to ask for more sacrifices based upon yet another false premise.

That premise is that people &

across the Middle East are choosing freedom, prosperity and hope.&

We can eliminate the term &

Middle East&

because Americans did not opt to provide our leaders with random power to involve this country in the affairs of the entire Middle East region. We are specifically honed in on Iraq.

We can also note that prosperity and hope are not situations all people in Iraq may &

choose.&

Prosperity is not guaranteed nor is it the reason why our troops are there. Hope is something that comes natural to folks who endure daily carnage with remnants of death everywhere and the fear that they will be next enveloping every waking hour. Even our own troops are holding on to hope, knowing they too may not live to see tomorrow.

So, finally we are left with &

freedom;&

that buzz word bandied about as legitimate rationale for sending brave American men and women to Muslim nations where they may potentially die. Even that word is fallacious under the terms in which we invaded Iraq and resolve to remain there.

Spreading democracy isn&

t the same as spreading freedom.

The president&

s claim of democratizing the Middle East, specifically Iraq is simply a declaration that escalates the strife in that war-torn country. Freedom represents an opportunity for people to choose their own destiny, their own governance. Presumably a nation comprised primarily of Muslims, both Sunni and Shiite, will not be predisposed to seeking a secular governance over a population of devout religious people.

The notion that we will force Iraq to move in the direction that satisfies the will of U.S. leaders is a recipe for disaster. And disaster is what we see in the wake of an ill-advised, unethical and immoral invasion perpetrated upon the premise of proposed peace.

It is neither ignorance nor error to request of Americans more sacrifice to advance America&

s political agenda in Iraq and the &

broader Middle East.&

It is unconscionable.

Along the lines of unconscionable requests, we find the statements made by televangelist Marion Gordon &

Pat&

Robertson; a Christian leader and founder of the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) whose recent suggestion of killing a South American president was widely disseminated and potentially used in deliberate efforts to undermine the image of the entire Christian faith community.

There are many Christian leaders in America, but few can be singled out as having made statements that cause pause in the minds of both unbelievers and believers alike.

Recently, Robertson requested that the leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, be taken out &

133; as in assassinated by American assassins.

Here are his words:

&

If you look back just a few years, there was a popular coup that overthrew him; and what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing; and as a result, within about 48 hours, that coup was broken, Chavez was back in power. But we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he&

s going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

I don&

t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we&

re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It&

s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war, and I don&

t think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger, and this is in our sphere of influence, so we can&

t let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, and we have other doctrines that we have announced, and without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don&

t need another 200-billion-dollar war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It&

s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.&

These are not the words of a man speaking out of a Christian heart, but rather a man speaking from a political point of view. That perspective presumes the U.S. has the to kill those with whom we disagree. Robertson and Eisenhower would have gotten along famously. After all, Eisenhower authorized the covert operation that caused the lives of hundreds of Muslims to be lost in a coup to take over the government of Iran. And today, we have an evangelist supporting the very same idea in South America &

133; all for one purpose, to gain control over oil.

It is understandable that the U.S. government would make such decisions, given its secularist viewpoint that has no moral basis. But Robertson believes in a monarchy with a King who would object to such pursuits of mammon. How can he excuse his behavior to the One who holds him accountable?

But behind the embarrassing spotlight of humility that is forcing Robertson to retract his statements, there lies the truth for those who can read between the lines. Venezuelan president Chavez isn&

t a crazed man filled with paranoia. And the U.S. isn&

t a benevolent moral nation that would never dream of interfering with another nation or helping a leader move more quickly toward his eternal resting place. We have a long history filled with such activity.

The truth is that our government is quite ready and willing to kill. The reasons given regarding why we kill seem to satisfy the public. The result remains the same, however, even if the public finds out later the reasons were bogus. There is a legitimate reason to for those we target to fear the United States.

But in speaking out quite candidly about America&

s abilities to effectively snuff out a life in secret, Robertson may have accidentally helped save Chavez&

s life, which if lost, is likely to shed the spotlight of suspicion directly upon the White House &

133; or maybe the Christian Broadcasting Network.

And finally, in regard to last week&

s regretful rhetoric, there&

s my &

inciteful&

questioning of the tearful exodus of the Jews from the Gaza Strip.

I received quite a number of insolent responses from &

tolerant&

people who were less than tolerant of my analysis and opinion. While virtually everyone challenged my account of history, including my choice of sources for information, when the dust cleared the same facts remained.

When the Ottoman Empire, which lasted for 500 years, finally fell, the land that was known as Palestine prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948, came under the authority of the British. How this occurred seems to be an issue no one cares to explore.

The British were the ones who made deals with Arabs nations as well as the Jews living in Palestine, much to the chagrin of those other people living in Palestine.

At that very point in history, it appeared that Great Britain was the arbitrator and delineator of power and authority over national boundaries.

The resulting melee during the withdrawal by the British, over lands it promised to the Jews, caused the Arab nations and the Jews to go to war, while the Arabs living in the land of Palestine itself became victims of incursions by both the Arab coalition and the Jewish armies.

After receiving a heavy dose of feedback from the local Jewish community, much of it mostly to suggest to me that I am an anti-semitic idiot without a clue, I received a gracious invitation to meet with Rabbi David Zaslow.

I did.

I found him to be a very candid, forth, extremely knowledgeable, amiable individual with a heart of gold. I enjoyed meeting with him very much. In his friendly humble approach, he did not cast aspersions, but rather asked questions. And in asking questions he and I began to have a civil discourse that he described as the kind of discourse one would have in the synagogue parsing out important issues in order to further mutual understanding.

We came to a mutual understanding.

And I recognized the error of omission made in last week&

s column.

The recognition that Israel had made some mistakes in its haste to establish itself before it could potentially be eradicated, is noted by Israel itself. Thus, Israel has made efforts to reconcile with those living within its borders.

Yet, Israel was not the only party to offend those who were victimized by the war in 1948 and subsequent battles over the years. The Arab nations also own their part in creating devastation in the land, encouraging those living in certain areas to leave and return after the war &

133; an act that they were unable to do.

The Rabbi asked why is Israel solely responsible? The answer is that it is obviously not.

Therefore, if Israel is willing to pony up cash to transfer its citizens from Gaza, should not the Arab nations also be willing to offer assistance to the Palestinians? After all, Israel is surrounded by Arab nations that could offer land and provisions to assist the Palestinians in re-settling. And the Palestinians are, after all, Arab peoples.

I admit the Rabbi makes a good point. The Arabs were complicit in the mayhem and therefore should also be cooperative in the solution.

I suppose the bottom line is that the question I asked, &

Does Israel have a to exist&

should indeed be answered, not sneered at as though no one has a to ask it.

The apparent answer is yes.

And the reason why it has a to exist is simply because it does. And since it does exist and is not going to disappear, it would behoove the Palestinians to recognize the fact that they are a defeated people. A conquered people. And under the circumstances, they are being offered a pretty decent opportunity to move in a new direction toward establishing their own homeland, however painful the notion of letting go of what they had may be.

Is it to ask people to let go of the pain they experienced? No.

Is it to ask people to relinquish their longing for the land upon which they once resided? No.

But mistakes were made in the establishment of Israel, by both Jews and Arabs, in attempting to resolve a serious dilemma made all the more chaotic by the British who decided to placate both sides with secret deals and unethical practices. There are enough victims in this melee for everyone to make a claim.

Nevertheless, one cannot undo what has been done. And the best course of action when mistakes are made is for those who have made those mistakes to own up to them rather than lay claims that those who have been victimized have no reason to complain.

Certainly the people who lived in the land of Palestine that were removed from their homes, regardless of what one wishes to call these people or how one desires to frame the issue regarding statehood, lack of governance, etc. The bottom line is that people lived in a place where they no longer live ... and they are a bit peeved about it. They cannot go back and will never recover what was lost. For them, it is a reality they must accept if progress is to be made.

At the same time, it seems to me that the Israeli settlers who must also move to make room for the Palestinians, must come to grips with the notion that Israel is doing what it believes is in its best interest, including the best interest of those settlers requested to move.

And in the long run, if everyone cooperates, and the Arab nations begin to focus on assisting the Palestinians in the establishment of a new land, rather than seeking the destruction of those deemed to be settled on their old land, perhaps there could be some peace in that region of the world.

In the interim, it would be nice if there could at least be peaceful discourse in this land over the issue.

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