Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Another (yawn) wasteful war


Pat Murphy

I began writing editorials about Arab-Israeli fighting for a Florida newspaper in 1963. I wrote more pieces in the 1970s and 1980s in Arizona.

Now, another outburst of Mideast bloodletting.

The moral? No winners in 43 years that I can see.

War didn't solve whatever led to the first fighting. More angry accusations of who started it and why. More billions of dollars detoured to weapons and manpower and away from worthwhile social programs. More diplomats making hollow promises of peace that never comes.

So, here we are again. Israel is shelling and destroying parts of Lebanon, which is just rebuilding itself from previous wars. Hezbollah is shelling Israel with rockets sent from Iran. The United Nations calls for a cease-fire. Even if firing ceases, hatred will not.

Middle East wars aren't cheap. For decades, the U.S. budget annually has included several billion dollars in aid to Israel, plus credits for military purchases.

Out-of-hand support for Israel gives the Arab world fits.

Washington felt betrayed when the U.S. spy ship Liberty was attacked in 1967 for 75 minutes in international Mediterranean waters by Israeli planes and torpedo boats, killing 34 seamen and wounding 174, and Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was caught spying for Israel in 1985 and imprisoned for life.

Costs to Israel, too, are horrendous. It is condemned for harsh treatment of Palestinian refugees and seizing Palestinian land for Jewish settlements. TV images of Arabs killed by Israeli gunfire merely agitate more terrorist revenge. Israelis know no rest from suicide bombers, despite fielding a world-class military force.

Is there an end to this madness? Probably not. Hezbollah and its heirs will continue to dream of crushing Israel, and Israel will continue fighting Islamic terrorists' hatred.

Even as Washington can't end the chaos and rebellion it created in Iraq and Afghanistan, some American extremists want more U.S. pre-emptive attacks. William Kristol, editor of the ultraconservative Weekly Standard magazine, links the Israel-Hezbollah fighting to Iran's government and writes in the July 24 issue under the headline, "It's Our War":

"We might consider ... a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Yes, there would be repercussions ... healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."

Reminder: Kristol was one of the geniuses among rightwing Machiavellians who badgered President Bush into attacking Iraq, predicted a quick and easy transition to democracy, but now disowns any part of the calamitous Iraqi expedition.

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