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Posted on Saturday, April 06, 2002 - 10:18 pm:   

I wonder if there is a way to come up with some constructive ideas about how to address the Middle East situation. I, for one, believe that Ariel Sharon is just as much a war criminal as Yasser Arafat is a shameful and despicable specimen of humanity. Neither one have anything positive to contribute to the crisis and hating each other as they do, nothing positive will come of their reigns of terror.

Having lived through war, I have to say that the propaganda wars are lost on the ground and in the worldwide presses. So long as people are dying, on either "side," there will always be those who hate those they blame for the deaths. Absolutely no peace will be possible so long as there is violence on either side, but less incendiary voices are needed. Of all the Israelis interviewed on TV lately, only Shimon Peres spoke with the kind of voice that anyone who does hate Jews might nevertheless choose to hear. If someone does hate Jews, Sharon gives them every reason to hate even more.

Crying that they did this and we merely did that (regardless who they are we are) does not solve any problems. Israel has functioned as though the only way to maintain an independent state and survive is to be feared. So long as reprisals are costly to the perpetrators, they hope to hold at bay those who hate them. It hasn't worked and it's time to admit that this strategy, however credible it seems, doesn't work.

The U.S. is widely believed to be the last great superpower on earth. I'm not sure it is. It might be another ethnocentric concept that folks in India and China are laughing at, not to mention the 1.2 billion Moslems whose leaders have been meeting regularly lately.

The fact is that a little country with a skinny and aging leader won a war against a country that is armed to the teeth. So, how does David beat Goliath? Basically, it wins hearts and minds and nothing any of the major leaders are doing now seems to be working miracles. Bush will certainly generate a lot more hatred towards America, making it dangerous for Americans to travel, perhaps even to stop for gas. He is antagonizing Congress as well as foreign nationals. Ashcroft is alienating citizens of his own country. Can't we see that the power game itself is what isn't working?

One Moslem man in Israel was interviewed and said, "I don't care if 'they' rule us so long as my family and I are safe." Basically, he was totally open to living in a country in which Jews constituted the majority population so long as the bickering and hatred and violence ended.

This is what is wrong. By turning things into a we and they, there are few places to go. The U.S. is doing everything wrong now, in my obviously not modest opinion, because we have here a rough model for assimilation of all peoples of all colors and races, people who choose to live under one Constitution. So long as we support separation of church and state and permit the freedom to believe what one wishes without turning beliefs into political issues, we can exist as a viable melting pot. However, the moment the polarization is around race or religion, the seeds of disintegration are sown.

The main expression of resentment erupted in France, for awfully good reasons, the large Islamic population being only one of them. Chirac will have his hands full.

Personally, I do not think it is wise to circulate more of these sorts of emails because there is no viable solution proposed within the content of the laments. In our obsession with power, we see concessions as weakness. This has to change or the name of the game will continue to be who gets to remain king of the hill. The corporate and political model has to change to one of inclusivity, cooperation, and mutual respect, not bully, bully, bully. In this regard, I think the U.S. is absolutely as guilty as Israel for big bombs only create big resentment.

Likewise, terrorism generates fear and frustration with one's limitations. From the first day after 911, I proposed asking why this happened. Everyone thought I was crazy because this would imply that someone has a right to express anger or hatred through terrorism. I don't think this point of view is justified by the proposal because there may or may not be any concessions at all to the perpetrators of the acts of violence.

Let's say a father abuses his children and he keeps this up until the children are big enough to challenge the father. At this time, the father either apologizes and hopes for forgiveness or he declares his children insane and uses different repressive measures to assert his superiority. He will never be loved and never experience freedom from fear of reprisal. Any therapist would counsel that while negotiation is fraught with risk, the only permanent solutions are absolute separation or different grounds rules for interaction, ones that guarantee both parties freedom from unwanted hostility.

It is the same in international relationships and right now, there are some mirrors for both Moslems and Jews. Separatism creates problems for integration in the one world global community that is necessary. Personally, I don't want Bush's multinational corporate one world. The New World Order is in a criminal concept, no better than the S.S. or anything similar. However, we are moving towards one world on some level so we have a choice of creating that consciously or failing to do so and letting the bullies decide for us.

Jews have always stood separately and somehow dealt themselves a double-edged sword for so doing. On the one hand, they have their identity carved out for them and on the other have suffered the rejection that is almost an inevitable consequence of the desire to be separate. Likewise, Moslems, especially those who have nations, have chosen separatism. For instance, when Jinni and Nehru were just emerging from the victory of India's struggle for independence, Jinni insisted on a separate Muslim state. Hindus, as you well know, are perfectly able to live and let live. So, Hindus fled by the millions from what was to become East and West Pakistan, but, interesting, Muslims did not flee India. As a result, India is "buffered" by one Islamic Nation to the West and another to the East, but another 50 million or more Muslims live in India in much the same way that Jews live in America or even parts of Europe. They have distinctly Moslem names and retain their culture, but do not, fear annihilation whereas those who are more polarized do fear the ongoing inability to resolve differences with India.

India cannot offer Kashmiris a plebiscite because the precedent is unacceptable. Kashimiris are not endangered by Indian Government policies; they are endangered by fanatics who breed dissent. I don't know what will happen in the future, but we cannot obviously go back to historic boundaries and use them as a basis for political lines.

So, back to the Middle East, to whom does the land belong? dating from which event in history? Do we start before or after Moses? before or after the Romans or British? Can we find a way to set aside politics and create lands with people in which everyone is safe? We can't exile everyone we don't want to have as a neighbor. We have to learn to live shoulder to shoulder and this includes Native Americans and the descendents of those who murdered their ancestors, Arabs and Jews, and Japanese and Hawaiians.
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Posted on Sunday, November 17, 2002 - 09:01 pm:   

Ex-US President Jimmy Carter Slams 'Arrogant' US Foreign Policy
Agence France Presse

Saturday, 16 November, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Former US president Jimmy Carter, this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, called on Friday for disarmament by the United States, which has taken the lead in urging such countries as North Korea and Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction.

"One of the things that the United States government has not done is to try to comply with and enforce international efforts targeted to prohibit the arsenals of biological weapons that we ourselves have," Carter said on CNN's Larry King Live program broadcast late Friday.

He also called for more stringent efforts by Washington "to reduce and enforce the agreement to eliminate chemical weapons, and the same way with nuclear weapons."

"The major powers need to set an example," Carter said, as the United States confronts Iraq over its possession of such banned weapons.

"Quite often the big countries that are responsible for the peace of the world set a very poor example for those who might hunger for the esteem or the power or the threats that they can develop from nuclear weapons themselves," the former US president continued.

"I don't have any doubt that it's that kind of atmosphere that has led to the nuclearization, you might say, of India and Pakistan," he said.

Carter, who will receive the Nobel prize on December 10 in Oslo, Norway for his efforts in seeking negotiated settlements to head off violent conflict, also noted that the United States gives only one one-thousandth of its gross national product for international assistance, while the average European country gives four times as much.

"For every time an American gives a dollar, a citizen of Norway gives 17 dollars," he said.

"Foreign aid in this country has a bad name, but in other countries, it's a right thing for the government to do. And that's where we at the Carter Center quite often have to turn," the former president said, referring to the Atlanta-based Carter Center he founded some 20 years ago, and which now operates humanitarian projects in 65 countries.

Carter also said the United States has given many nations around the world cause for resentment and scorn.

"There is a sense that the United States has become too arrogant, too dominant, too self-centered, proud of our wealth, believing that we deserve to be the richest and most powerful and influential nation in the world," the 78-year-old former president said.

"I think they feel that we don't really care about them, which is quite often true."

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

© : t r u t h o u t 2002

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