Monday, July 17, 2006

Middle East Situation

The situation around Israel continues to get more intense at this hour. The Israeli Prime Minister was almost hit by a missile over the weekend. War can be business for world leaders but when a missile lands close to you it tends to make it much more personal. I have spent a significant amount of time poking around the radio and the Internet. At this time I have the following things to report/ponder.

1. It appears that the 24-hour news cable stations were happy to ignore this story. Fox News seems to have been embarrassed by the blogs and talk radio into an appropriate level of coverage. That said, I have to agree with Rantingprofs that it is hard to take Greta very seriously as an "anchor" on any serious topic. CNN at this hour is covering the conflict but they are harder to take serious than Greta.

2. Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for a special Saturday show packed with knowledgeable guests on the topic and useful pointers to information. My local station that carries his show M-F did not carry the broadcast, much to my dismay. There is good news on that front though, Radioblogger has the entire 3 hours commercial free, which is how I listened to it Sunday.

3. I have to agree with Hugh that the system NZBear has put together to track local area blogs is the best resource on the net on this topic. Congrats to him for both having the idea and the ability to carry it out well.

4. I think back to the two Lebanese Christians I once worked with daily, although at two different times and places. Both lived in Lebanon during the previous occupation of southern Lebanon by Israel. One believed the Israelis, or at least their government, were evil incarnate. The other believed that the Israelis were committing rational acts of self defense that were unfortunately necessary because their country was ruled by lunatic puppets of the Syrian tyrants. I would guess the two who share a genetic heritage, a social heritage, religious beliefs and common experiences see the current conflict as differently as they did the previous one.

5. Let us hope that this ends with a minimum of injury and fatalities to innocent civilians. This is difficult given that IslamoNazis have a habit of hiding amongst innocent women and children and hiding their arms in churches and schools. When I was a young boy we had a very descriptive word for our peers who hid behind women's skirts after hurling invectives and it was not flattering. I, like many who would disagree with my position on this issue, believe that the Israeli response is disproportionate. In order for their response to be proportionate they would need to target innocent civilians which they have not done or Lebanon would not still exist. To the contrary the coverage I can find indicates they are going far out of their way to avoid civilian casualties while still managing to persecute their attack on the IslamoNazis responsible for the attacks on their people. Let us hope they continue to be disproportionate in their response.

6. For those of us Americans who care to be truly informed on world news the last few days have shown us that we were correct in our assessment that the antique media still doesn't get it. Let us hope they get their act together and start to show this major conflict fairly and as completely as rationally responsible.

7. What if oil goes to $150+/barrel? My 'next bench' alarm goes off when I consider this question. I drive much less than most Americans and I make a lot more money than most of them. I think it is an interesting question but I don't feel qualified to answer what that means to the average family in our country, yet alone the rest of the world. As we consider what we think our government ought to do or not do, advise for or against with our friends in the only mature democratic state in the area we must consider the impact on the world economy. If one is a moral person this cannot be the primary consideration but it must be a consideration. Iran appears to be neck deep in this whole thing and they are a major supplier of energy in the world. I believe the speculators have already priced in a significant amount of the impact of some disruption but if this thing continues to escalate we could see more increases at the pumps.

8. In the face of a major conflict precipitated by another group of terrorists having nothing to do with Iraq or US foreign policy why do we not have people in jail over the rash of leaks of classified material related to trying the catch these crazies before they kill more of us? How have we not had hearings in the Senate or House? I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV. Ergo, I don't know if we can throw a bunch of loons from the NY Times and other papers in the slammer for the indefinite future. There seems to be reasonable disagreement about that among people who are lawyers in real life. That said, it is infinitely clear that the leaking of these useful secrets from folks who draw a paycheck from my tax dollars is illegal. I want them in jail as soon as possible and for as long as possible. My preference would be to stick them in a cell with a guy who is at least 6'6", was a linebacker for SMU and whose mother was killed in the Twin Towers.

9. Can we allow Iran, who as I said earlier is pretty clearly neck deep in attacking an Israeli ship and long range missile attacks on her citizens, to go nuclear. I heard someone on the radio say something to the effect of "It will take Iran another 8-10 years to be able to produce a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a missile". I was astonished. Did we use a missile to drop the only 2 nukes ever used in war? Do people really think the Iranian regime would have trouble finding a set of lunatics willing to use a 747 as a delivery mechanism on a suicide mission? Just as I am not a lawyer, I am also not a general. I do not have a good grasp of what the viable military options are. It is pretty clear that diplomatic options are a waste of time with the lunatics running that country. What is not clear to me is whether it makes more sense to help the overwhelmingly rational Persians take their government back into rational hands or to start dropping bombs. To assume we have a lot of time makes no sense at all. We produced the very first nukes in less than 5 years. To assume that after 60 years of technological advances in the world and dozens of nuclear countries, including but not limited to Pakistan whose senior scientist was running around the world selling info, a country with huge amounts of money and loads of educated scientists and scores of IslamoNazi fanatics including the leaders of the government will take twice that long to become a danger to the world is to be naive.

10. If you were the Prime Minister of Israel, what would you do? I considered that question and I didn't like the answer that I came up with. I have no dislike or animosity for the innocent civilians in southern Lebanon, the Gaza strip or the West Bank. My answer was not kind to their fate. I hope Prime Minister Olmert is smarter than I am. Assuming he is and that he succeeds in ridding the world of Hezbollah's ability to threaten it's neighbors, what does the new world look like?


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