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stoirmeil 
Posted: 05-Jan-2009, 10:12 PM
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QUOTE (Antwn @ 05-Jan-2009, 09:11 PM)
Now, if you'll pardon me I have to go commit a "crime against humanity" by paying my income tax.

If you look in the upper right hand corner of the form, after dousing the document with lemon juice and holding it under the light of a three-quarter moon, you will see a very small box that lets you designate what your taxes are to be used for. Most people don't know this.
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InRi 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 07:23 AM
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Hi stoirmeil,
QUOTE (stoirmeil @ 06-Jan-2009, 01:02 AM)
Uh huh -- go try to demilitarize Israel, Ingo.  I'll hold your coat while you do.  dry.gif

I'll do my very best.... but joking apart now...
That's an idea only. But I'm realist enough to know that this never will work. Too much is invested into this machinery of war than you can stop that again. Middle East is an enormous powder keg and who takes the responsibilty for detonate it...
I want to ask again: What's to do if the rationality fails and all the other things aren't practicable?
Deliberately I don't ask about blame or innocence - the only that count in my opinion is to stop this insanity - however to do it.
A couple of years ago one of my friends said; "The only ability to solve this conflict is: to build a wall around Middle East to put a lid at the top and to wait 20 or 30 years."
To this day I don't know if this was a joke or a real (even tough devilish sarcastic) ability to solve it really...
Sometimes I think: This could be true, but on the other hand - what's about the civilians...
No, dear friends, I don't see a solve in this time....

Ingo


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Emmet 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 12:58 PM
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QUOTE
Uh huh -- go try to demilitarize Israel, Ingo. I'll hold your coat while you do.


It would be interesting to see how long Israel's offensive lasts without an endless supply of American weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and cash.


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Emmet 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 01:06 PM
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Clearly you have access to Google; try using research to refute an argument rather than sarcasm.
QUOTE
why should I research YOUR claims and offer a refutation?


Yeah; I didn't think so...it's so much easier just to be snarky.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 02:01 PM
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QUOTE (Emmet @ 06-Jan-2009, 12:58 PM)

It would be interesting to see how long Israel's offensive lasts without an endless supply of American weapons, ammunition, spare parts, and cash.

It would be. I can't even say it would be a completely insane idea, except for the inevitable massing and attack of the surrounding barracudas, like in 1948. (I don't think the Brits have yet lived down they way they pulled out and left the Israelis bareass naked to overwhelming Arab hostility.) But the fact is, the only thing in the Middle East with a real European sensibility, that the west feels like it can understand and deal comfortably with, is Israel, and it will be as long as the ruling element there is old-school Ashkenazic leadership with its 1000-year European intellectual and social history (which doesn't look like changing any time soon, in spite of the wrangles Israel has had internally with its Ashkenazic-Sephardic power imbalances). There is a reason why the alembic that produced modern Zionism was Vienna, not Jerusalem. This American (and European -- admit it even though Sarkozy won't) sense of familiarity with a more essentially Western nation in the Middle East is a much deeper cause for the tolerance of atrocious behaviour, I believe, than the thing that people usually cite Israelis as thinking: "After the Holocaust, the world owes us." If the 20th century experience in Europe and later in Palestine/Israel turned a bunch of passive, overbred intellectuals into virtually uncontrollable attack animals under pressure -- again, I don't excuse, but I attempt to explain -- you can't say the west hasn't assessed them very shrewdly as a strategic stabilizing factor in the region, including their attack propensities, in spite of all the hand-wringing and protests when they run to excess. On the international policy level, nobody on this side of the Levant is inclined to take Israel's toys away; and nobody on the other side, on any level, is capable of it.
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Emmet 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 04:33 PM
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The Middle East has been in a constant state of war for 42 years; in what way is Israel " a strategic stabilizing factor in the region"?
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 05:58 PM
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QUOTE (Emmet @ 06-Jan-2009, 04:33 PM)
The Middle East has been in a constant state of war for 42 years; in what way is Israel " a strategic stabilizing factor in the region"?

That may be a little absolute in its expectations: if it isn't peace it's an all-out failure. (It also seems to imply that if Israel were NOT there, the Middle East would be a cooperative community garden of peace with no internecine conflict to speak of, which I very much doubt -- but maybe that's not what you intended, and I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth.) A stabilizing factor doesn't always succeed in preventing conflict, and I'm not sure unadulterated peace is its main purpose or its measuring stick for success in any case -- a strong regional ally is primarily a deterrant against loss of control, and is most effective if that ally is supplied and politically backed by some larger power. In this case, whatever skirmish Israel gets involved in, even if it seems to be solely in their own interest, is understood to be in the larger strategic interest as well. To the extent Israel is performing within the interests of its western allies, the hand-wringing is more symbolic; when not, and the situation gets too hot and morally indefensible (="looks bad"), the concern for the balance is more real.

I'm still not sure, honestly, which the present situation is -- there is still too much protest (from Bush in extremis, but what the hell can you expect?) that Israel really is just defending itself with this brutalization of Gaza, for it to seem like a genuine object of American concern -- and that, of course, leads into a confounding rat's nest of partisan positions pro and con. I'm not saying anything about morally or from a humanitarian perspective. That kind of brutality is never defensible in those terms, but the indefensibility of "collateral damage" or the failure to uphold human rights in general have never seemed like the strongest criteria in international oversight.

I think Israel is seen from both sides as a front line against Arab nation uncooperativeness, and most lately Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, as well as being a western strategic pied-a-terre -- supported from the west, and bitterly resented by some if not most factions in the east. That seems like a strategic linchpin. And again, as a deterrant -- the thing about prevention is you never can tell how bad something WOULD have been, when it never happened. But you still don't remove the deterrant.

There has been a lot of discussion on the whole western perspective regarding eastern/arab/muslim culture and how it is conceived of and represented in the distribution of postcolonial power; I tend to see this stuff mostly in literary criticism, but it is also of political interest. The classic, from the 80s, is probably Edward Said's "Orientalism." There is a lot to think about, concerning why there needs to be a perennial representative of western interests with some clout in the region.
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Antwn 
Posted: 06-Jan-2009, 09:35 PM
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QUOTE (Emmet @ 06-Jan-2009, 01:06 PM)
QUOTE
Clearly you have access to Google; try using research to refute an argument rather than sarcasm.


Yeah; I didn't think so...it's so much easier just to be snarky.

Sorry Emmett, you're right. Its easier to be sarcastic than provide arguments of my own and the sincerity and passion with which you hold your own views deserved more respect than I provided. Please accept my apologies.


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Emmet 
Posted: 07-Jan-2009, 08:00 AM
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QUOTE
Sorry Emmett, you're right. Its easier to be sarcastic than provide arguments of my own and the sincerity and passion with which you hold your own views deserved more respect than I provided. Please accept my apologies.


Apology accepted.
Earlier, you had asked if I had a solution to propose, and I responded with:

QUOTE

U.S.
1) Freeze all foreign aid to Israel pending their compliance with UN Resolution 242, et al.
2) Freeze all military aid to Israel pursuant to the US Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act.
3) Stop running interference for Israel in the UN Security Council.
4) Collectively tell AIPAC to go to hell. Any elected US official, whether city councilman or President, should only pledge allegiance to one country; the United States.

Israel
1) Immediately cease fire and withdraw all IDF forces from Gaza.
2) Immediately lift the blockade of Gaza.
3) Recognize Hammas as the legitimate Palestinian government, and negotiate accordingly in good faith.
4) Immediately halt all Israeli construction on the West Bank.
5) Begin plans for withdrawal from all occupied territories pursuant to UN Resolution 242, et. al.
6) Reopen negotiations with all parties to the 2002 Beirut Summit in good faith.
7) Respect the territorial integrity of it's neighbors in all respects.

Palestine
1) Immediately cease fire.
2) Allow the IDF invasion force to withdraw in good order.
3) Reopen negotiations with all parties to the 2002 Beirut Summit in good faith.
4) Respect the territorial integrity of it's neighbors in all respects.


The Beirut Summit offered an end to endless war; in exchange for Israel withdrawing to their pre-1967 borders and allowing the formation of a viable Palestinian state, with the right of return and it's capitol in East Jerusalem, all Arab signatories would formally recognize Israel's right to exist, declare the Arab-Israeli conflict to be over and normalize relations with Israel. With their raison de guerre eliminated, terrorism would eventually peter out and die as recruiting dried up and all signatories enforced the peace from within their own borders. No; it wouldn't happen overnight, but as the Belfast Accord demonstrates, it can happen, even with such mortal enemies as the IRA and the UDA.
With essentially unlimited US financial support, the US blocking any action in the UN Security Council, nuclear weapons, and the 4th largest air force in the world, including the largest fleet of F-16's outside of the US, Israel has never needed peace. Only America can change that.


I'd be interested in hearing your critique, and/or alternative suggestions.
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Emmet 
Posted: 07-Jan-2009, 08:51 AM
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I'm not at all clear on how our unconditional support of Israeli militarism in any way serves America's national interest.

As a deterrent against "against loss of control", isn't that what we pay Saudi Arabia for? Who can forget that touching moment of George Bush and Prince Abdullah gently holding hands on that romantic garden walk?

As a deterrent against "Arab nation uncooperativeness", U.S. support of Israel's wars led directly to the oil embargoes of 1967 and 1973 and the formation of OPEC, not only for economic reasons but to collectively exert political power as well. Besides, that's why we support puppet pseudo-democracies like Egypt.

As a deterrent againt "Islamic fundamentalist terrorism", our unconditional support of Israeli militarism, particularly as it's applied to the Palestinians, is the most frequently cited casus belli of both al-Qaeda and Iran, and prior to Israel's latest atrocity in Gaza, 75% of the children there said that they wanted to grow up to be martyrs; not hard to understand if you grow up starving in a refugee camp that gets periodically shelled. You can bloody well guess what the percentage among the survivors is be today.

Case in point. Lebanon was a stable, Western-style democracy which "the west feet like it can understand and deal comfortably with"; so much so that Western banks felt comfortable to set up shop there and as a European tourist destination it possessed sufficient "real European sensibility" to be referred to as the Riviera of the Middle East. Israel's utter destruction of Lebanon in 1982 and their brutally repressive occupation of southern Lebanon thereafter (sufficiently barbarous that Ronald Reagan, not exactly a bleeding-heart shrinking violet, suspended arms sales to Israel), resulted in the formation and rise to power of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad. On April 18, 1983 the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was bombed, killing over 60 people, mostly embassy staff members and U.S. Marines and Sailors. On October 23, 1983, the Marines billeted at the Beirut Airport were bombed, killing 243 Americans.

Some deterrent.
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Antwn 
Posted: 07-Jan-2009, 04:50 PM
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QUOTE (Emmet @ 07-Jan-2009, 08:00 AM)
I'd be interested in hearing your critique, and/or alternative suggestions.

I hope I can explain this well Emmett, and you're probably not going to like it, but here is my attempt at any rate. I'm more political pragmatist than idealogue. I don't think there's a paucity of ideas but there's conflicting motivations for their implementation. For example, I'm in favor of an independent Palestinian state, but I'm not sure to what degree that would end violence long term nor am I confident that either party truly wants it because they both have vested interests in the status quo, however violent, unsettling and disasterous it is - at least until circumstances become untenable enough to inspire the sacrifices needed for a permanent shift in power structures.

An organization in power seeks to maintain it. Hamas began as a terrorist organization and over time has morphed into a social service community support organization, providing hospitals and social support for people in Gaza, and as you've pointed out, is the legitimately elected governing body for the Palestinian territories. This evolution has succeeded in garshing them widespread local support, which as a strategy has been studied by Al Quaeda for possible adoption, according to a CIA analyst interviewed by 60 Minutes, because it dilutes characteristic terrorist bad guy designations and multidimentionalises their organization into legitimate and illegitimate elements. On the surface this positioning may appear sincerely altruistic, legitimate and responsible, and perhaps there's an element which is, yet this strategy has a darker side in which they have profited financially and militarity as the focal point in a greater Muslim struggle throughout the Islamic diaspora and have fed off their image as the martyred victimized poster child of a endless struggling cause, which not only justifies violence but continuity. Continued conflict is thus in their interest. They've profited financially and militarily much more by positioning themselves this way than they otherwise would if a Palestinian state were established. They maintain sympathies as an oppressed people and as exemplifications of a larger perception of Islamic victimhood. A Palestinian state would de-legitimize violent struggle and they would either have to conjure another justification for it or take the more mundane role of a state governance. Further, they'd devolve into just another political party which could be easily replaced by election instead of front line infantry in the struggle against oppressive Zionism.

Israel also has a vested interest. Gaza is much easier to control as a territory. As part of a internationally recognized independent state Gaza and the West Bank could not remain so easily under the Israeli yoke. Israel knows this and could not engage in war with a soverign state as easily and maintain international support. Thus they would lose an advantage they now have in maintaining control, suppression, limit growth and maintain the alienation of the Palestinian people as regime outsiders as opposed to the advantages of self determination and the more fruitfull potentials full sovereignty would provide.

A free, independent self governing Palestinian state is the best next step to my mind because it would dampen the fire of zealotry in both the Palistinian people and the greater Muslim world surrounding this cause, lessen the justification for violence by Hamas, and further complicate Israel's position by forcing it to deal with a new entity it cannot legitimately squash at will so easily, not that Israel is above declaring war on another state, but that choice would be more complicated in the case of an independent Palestine, and so would maintaining legitimate support from the west for such an action. Israel could not raise the spectre of imminent destruction as easily, not from Hamas anyway, but would have to turn its sights to other hostile states.

If implemented however this solution is no guarantee. There could still be the legitimacy of Israel to question, and the fact that historically Palestine has included what is now Israel, a territory which will perpetually be that which was usurped, there's always a future justification for conflict, always another struggle.

So despite a plethora of existing and potential ideas to resolve this crisis, what I would call more potent underlying motivations need to be addressed. Sacrifice is required by both sides, including a paradigm shift from endless tit for tat retribution, but more importantly a fundemental alteration of how each side perceives itself and the surrender of nefarious gains each side aquires in status quo maintanence. This choice is further complicated by what Israel faces from the greater Muslim world, for the situation in the middle east is a focal point in microcasm for Muslim perception of and desires from the western world and the situation there has tendrils that stretch through alliances as well as Muslim migration to Europe and the US. The ramifications of policy decisions thus have far reaching effects which inspire many cooks desiring to spice the soup in ways which would be advantageous to them.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 08-Jan-2009, 07:46 PM
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QUOTE (Emmet @ 07-Jan-2009, 08:51 AM)
Lebanon was a stable, Western-style democracy which "the west feel like it can understand and deal comfortably with"; so much so that Western banks felt comfortable to set up shop there and as a European tourist destination it possessed sufficient "real European sensibility" to be referred to as the Riviera of the Middle East. Israel's utter destruction of Lebanon in 1982 and their brutally repressive occupation of southern Lebanon thereafter (sufficiently barbarous that Ronald Reagan, not exactly a bleeding-heart shrinking violet, suspended arms sales to Israel), resulted in the formation and rise to power of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

Which gives you an idea how deep the "Western feel" ran in Lebanon, when it came to world interests -- that cultural approximation of Western sensibility is paper thin in a place like Lebanon. It is not western -- suits and beaches, and even the survival of elite people there speaking French, do not make a europeanized ally. There are deep and long-lasting cultural criteria that preclude real western identity and inclusion taking hold in the Middle East, far predating the modern rise of European nation states. The religion of Islam itself is not even all of it, though it's a large part.

And of course Al-q'aeda and Iran are going to cite Israel's massive overkill retaliations as the primary reason for the constant conflict. I am not saying there is NO reason in it -- but I am convinced it is neither the only nor even the primary reason. It's very pragmatic: If you can only throw "fireworks" at the vastly mightier enemy you can also get the world to look on and see the inevitable return volley and loudly take the side of the underdog, a powerful benefit; in fact you can depend on it. Let's imagine the press or info services stopped repetitively blowing up the news -- might the cycle of provocation and exaggerated retaliation just begin to decelerate for lack of attention? Does that mean it should be covered up? No, of course not -- it has to be observed so that it does not escalate into unchecked genocide. (I imagine you think it already is unchecked genocide. What do you call genocide perpetrated cooperatively by a people's leaders and its enemies together?) But unchecked, saturation reportage also provides a broad incentive for the calculating and cynical sacrifice of "the people" by the militants themselves -- people who actually believe Hamas is protecting and providing for them. So, how much better if you can actually train little kids to find it desirable and an honor to be so used, and get even their mothers to endorse it? Then make sure the world hears about it hourly, at least. There is a parallel here, too: ramping down inflated reportage and the pursuant, dependable outrage when the provocateurs get what they are cruising for is unthinkable -- at least as unthinkable as demilitarizing Israel. Both of them are using their biggest guns to maintain the dynamic, and both Hamas and the Israeli government and military are keeping the people of Gaza under fire.

I may be wrong -- in fact, I'd prefer to be -- but it is beginning to sound like you relish the idea of Israel being eliminated, Emmet. If you think that's the key to establishing and maintaining peace in the region, I have to disagree, and we can agree to disagree. If you have some other reason, I'd be interested in hearing what it is.

Meanwhile the President elect is wondering if he really should have taken this job . . . Hilary is thinking about taking over from Condoleeza, and how much use Bill is going to be this time.
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stoirmeil 
Posted: 08-Jan-2009, 07:53 PM
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QUOTE (Antwn @ 07-Jan-2009, 04:50 PM)
On the surface this positioning may appear sincerely altruistic, legitimate and responsible, and perhaps there's an element which is, yet this strategy has a darker side in which they have profited financially and militarity as the focal point in a greater Muslim struggle throughout the Islamic diaspora and have fed off their image as the martyred victimized poster child of a endless struggling cause, which not only justifies violence but continuity. Continued conflict is thus in their interest. They've profited financially and militarily much more by positioning themselves this way than they otherwise would if a Palestinian state were established. They maintain sympathies as an oppressed people and as exemplifications of a larger perception of Islamic victimhood.

That's what I was trying to say. And those sympathies thrive much better on an all-or-nothing, non-nuanced analysis of motivations on both sides.
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InRi 
Posted: 09-Jan-2009, 11:26 AM
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user posted image
...possessed by the devil

I found this tody. I think this describes the situation perfectly!

Ingo
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Antwn 
Posted: 09-Jan-2009, 01:35 PM
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QUOTE (stoirmeil @ 08-Jan-2009, 07:53 PM)
That's what I was trying to say. And those sympathies thrive much better on an all-or-nothing, non-nuanced analysis of motivations on both sides.

Yes! And that way of thinking is pervasive not only in geo-politics but is the first approach to any human social problem. Its also the type of thinking most religions depend on. Given how dysfunctional it is as an analytical method, one wonders how far humanity would progress by giving it up. Yeah, dream on Antwn.....
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