Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Diplomacy: A Noble Ideal

It would be nice, if a series of letters, and meetings, and conferences, and declarations, and solemn agreements, would convince Al-Qaeda, and all people on jihad against the west, to give up their beliefs. Who knows? Osama bin Laden might even apologize for the 9/11 attack.

There's reason why I seem unconvinced that there is a purely diplomatic solution to the war on terror. I've been watching relations between Israel and every other country in the Arab world, off and on, for almost a half-century.

At first, I had some sympathy for the Palestinians. For some reason, they couldn't move to other nations in the region, and seemed to be forced to live in restricted areas in and around Israel.

Then I noticed a difference between how the two groups acted in warfare.

The Israeli military killed Palestinian civilians: because Palestinian military leaders, sniper positions, and rocket launchers were placed among or behind civilians.

Heroic Palestinians launched attacks on strategic buses and shopping malls, and destroyed tactical restaurants, hotels, a disco and a pizzeria. In one daring attack, two teenage boys were beaten, stoned, dismembered, and tucked away in a cave.

And that's just highlights of victories over the Israeli oppressors, since the Oslo Accords, signed September 13, 1993.

The defenders of Palestine forced the Israeli occupiers (as they've been described) out of the Gaza Strip two years ago. My understanding was that there was an agreement that Palestinians there would stop firing rockets at Israelis.

To their credit, the Palestinians didn't kill Israelis in rocket attacks as often for quite a while. Then, recently, they stepped up the bombardment of Israel. Israel declared the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity."

Predictably, Hamas criticized the Jews. "This Israeli step is a clear indication of military escalation against Gaza," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.

There's a lesson here.

Many people in the Middle East are upstanding citizens, interested in their families and livelihood, and willing to be sensible.

On the other hand, quite a few people and organizations there have worked long and hard to establish a reputation for bloodshed and destruction, and for treating cease-fires, truces, and peace agreements as opportunities to re-group and re-arm.

With a track record like that, it's hard to put a great deal of confidence in
  • Iran's assurances over their nuclear program
  • Syria's assurance that they don't have a nuclear program
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency's ability to inspect and negotiate the truth out of the mess
Or, for that matter, any of the 'death to Israel, death to the great Satan America' outfits' good will.


AVP said...

Hi. Just wanted to point out a few things.

The graphic in the header is nicely done. Looks good and gels with the whole look.

I personally like more of the page to be occupied by text but if this works for you, then good.

And before you think I have nothing relevant to say, let me point out that it's 'Osama Bin Laden' and not 'Usama Bin Laden'. And coming to your final point you make regarding the track record of the people of the middle east, I get the idea that you are just a couple of steps removed from saying 'Pre-emptive Stike'. I might be wrong though.

Brian H. Gill said...


Thanks for the feedback. I'm still looking at layout and format for this blog.

Usama Bin Laden / Osama Bin Laden: I think it's actually أسامة بن لاد, and I've seen the surname Latinized as Usama and Osama.

When I started tracking Sheik y أسامة بن لاد, I ran into Usama more frequently than Osama, and so standardized on that sequence of letters. However, I see that Osama is used more often now (in Google search results, anyway) by a ratio of 3,240,000 - 511,000.

Looks like I better change that.

Brian H. Gill said...


About the content and opinion I expressed in this post.

When I spoke about the track record of the people in the Middle East, I was thinking about the people who are calling the shots (literally), not the people who are supporting and raising their families, and providing a support system for the bigwigs.

As I said, "Many people in the Middle East are upstanding citizens, interested in their families and livelihood, and willing to be sensible.

"On the other hand, quite a few people and organizations there have worked long and hard to establish a reputation for bloodshed and destruction, and for treating cease-fires, truces, and peace agreements as opportunities to re-group and re-arm."

Pre-emptive strike? That sounds awful.

I would love to live in a world where the likes of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Ali Hoseini-Khamenei would be willing to let diplomacy be the only way they express their preferences.

But, a little over six years ago, over three thousand people, not all of them Americans, stopped living because some Muslims expressed their deeply-held religious beliefs by ramming two airliners into the World Trade Center.

That would suggest that there are people out there who are capable of using violent means to achieve their goals.

Now, Iran has a nuclear program which presumably is for the country's desperate need for energy. Iran's oil exports being what they are, I find the 'civilian' claim dubious.

North Korea seems to be dealing with Iran and/or Syria, which might make Iran's program a moot point.

I think many, maybe most, people in the Middle East, and elsewhere, are more interested in raising their families, than committing mass murder on a massive scale.

I also know that, through history, there are leaders who would like nothing better than to slaughter thousands. These days, that could be millions.

So: preemptive strike? That sounds bad.

Let's take a hypothetical situation.

Bandar Lampung, in Indonesia, is home to somewhere between a half million to three quarters of a million people.

Let's say that the Supreme Grand Whatever of some country had decided that Bandar Lampung was insufficiently polite, or had other reason to wipe it off the map.

And, had a nuclear weapon to do his wiping for him.

Would a preemptive strike be called for, if there were reasonable proof that an Bandar Lampung was targeted, and a preemptive strike could stop the attack?

That's a hard one: destroy weapons, and probably kill people, most of whom were making or maintaining the weapons, or let Bandar Lampung fry.

I chose that city, because it has a population that's close to that of an American city, San Francisco.

Sorry, it's late in my time zone. Early, actually. And,I'm rambling.

Knowing what I, personally, do, I could not advocate a preemptive strike.

But, I would be very concerned if the leaders of this country decided that they'd let thousands, or millions, of people be killed: so that they could congratulate themselves on how civilized and peace-loving they are.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.