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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is the world merrily skipping towards Armageddon?

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Image hosting by PhotobucketThe question posed by this post title is probably alarming to everyone. Or at least Walski hopes it is.

But this post is not about the apocalypse/armageddon chasers, or the End-Times Christian movement. It is about the Mid-East, where the situation gets worse every day, it would seem.

Unless there is lasting peace in that region, the world may just be on the brink of a global meltdown, just waiting to happen.

To date, myAsylum has not posted any thoughts about the turmoil and conflict in the Middle East. Until now. Not because of it's lack of importance, but because it's been covered well by other bloggers in the local Malaysian bloggerhood, such as KTemoc (his two latest posts on the subject can be found here and here, but there are many other posts on the subject worth reading).

That, and the fact myAsylum never set out to be a political blog in the first place. But when one sets out to blog about anything and everything, touching on politics, even global politics, at some point is, well... inevitable.

Without a doubt, the current aggression of Israel across its northern borders into Lebanon should be condemned. The magnitude and target of force used, allegedly on the pretext of trying to rescue their soldiers, is certainly disproportionate.

The carte blanche approach historically taken by the U.S. in dealing with conflict in the region has not helped. This has been even more glaringly obvious with the current Bush 2 administration, in particular, exercising the power of veto to potentially shoot down any resolution brought up that implicates Israel of wrongdoing.

But the lists of UN resolutions against Israel is already lengthy. At best, the US and its allies in Western Europe have only paid lip service to peace in the Middle East - at worst, their overt inactions (and according to some, ther covert actions) has only made the stability in the region more fragile.

Indeed, what's happening now in the region, according to some, is the fact that Israel and the US are punishing the Palestinian people for democratically selecting the wrong majority - namely, Hamas, into government earlier this year. Hamas, of course, is known for their suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civillians, and their hostility towards the Jewish state, but whose anti-Israeli rhetoric apparently won enough mindshare of the Palestinians, who viewed Fatah, whom had led the previous Palestinian Authority, as ineffective and corrupt. Hamas has, to date, refused to acknowledge Israel's right to exist.
(more thoughts in the full post)

One fact remains, however: be it Israel, Hamas, or Fatah, all parties have blood on their hands. No one can claim to be totally innocent when it comes to attrocities that have been committed, and continue to be committed.

Israel's beef right now may be against the Hezbollah - who hold hostage a small number of Israeli troops, and who operate from Southern Lebanon. Israel is holding Lebanon responsible, hence the forray into their territory.

But let's play devil's advocate for a moment, and suspend reality for a bit. Say you were in Israel's position; and you have those countries and organizations surrounding you calling for your destruction. What would be your response?

Okay, back to reality.

In truth, there is no easy solution to the problems in the Middle East, and the last thing we should do is to kid ourselves that there is one. Matters are not made better when you have the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and a large portion of the conservative Muslim world calling for Israel's destruction. The notion that Palestine belongs to Islam exclusively (and no one else) doesn't assist in solving any problems either.

Israel was carved out of an already-inhabited area under colonial rule, and in the process displacing the population then, Muslim and Christian Arabs, partly out of the US and Europe's guilt for the attrocities suffered by the Jewish people under Nazi Germany. It doesn't matter whether the casualties of this genocide numbered 600 or 60,000 or 6 million - the actual number is moot. What Hitler did to the Jews was immoral, inhuman, and wrong. Period.

But in redeeming themselves, the US and Europe started a disasterous chain of events, beginning with the forced displacement of the Palestinians. This too, in retrospect, was immoral, inhuman and wrong.

And as the old addage goes: two wrongs don't make a right. The situation we see today is proof.

It would be nice if there were a way to call time-out on the situation. Just like in a basketball game. A hardline approach from either or any party is not going to allay the brittle situation, nor is it in the long run going to be good for anyone - Israel, Palestine, the US, or the rest of planet Earth. Calling for a holy war is not going to help the Palestinians. Violence begats more violence and should never be a justified means, no matter how noble an end we wish to achieve.

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent
Isaac Asimov - Foundation

As mentioned previously, a convoluted situation such as what we see in the Middle East today has no easy solution. The US must somehow be made to realize that their no-questions-asked support for Israel will come to no good end, and will bring the world closer to all out, and possibly cataclysmic war. Israel must realize that their strong-arm tactics will result in placing the nation in jeopardy, from continued retaliation. And those who seek to destroy Israel should realize that their continued efforts will do more harm to the Palestinian people, rather than help them - short, medium and long run. Exclusivist views, be it Jewish, Christian or Islamic, will get the world no closer to resolving the conflict, which has plagued the region for the better part of the 20th century, up till the present.

Sometimes, though, the simplest solution may be the most effective. Time-out. This is the only possible scenario where dialog can occur. And dialog is something all the parties involved must do, if the end-result desired is truly peace.

All said and done, there is still one important nagging question that haunts Walski:

What if it peace is not really the true objective?