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Fixing The Middle East

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I listened to the President's address on the Middle East and all the guff he got for it afterwards. Like most Americans I have had it right up to here with all things Middle East. The only other place as dangerously dysfunctional and filled with self-aggrandizing a**holes is Washington DC.

I had no particular problems with what Obama said yesterday, I just would have gone farther. I would have gone all Doctor Phil on the whole bunch of them because, if any bunch on earth needs to be told the truth, it's Middle Easterners. (Oh yeah, and the woefully misinformed/uninformed American public.)

Here's what I would have told them: 

  1. Pakistan: So, now you guys think you like China better than us? Wow. Wish we'd known that earlier, it would have saved us a lot of time, money and lives. Since you've decided to "show us" for snatching bin Laden from right under your own noses by cozying up to China, cozy away, we won't interfere. Then China can babysit, not one, but two nuclear problem children, you and North Korea. Maybe the Chinese will have better luck than we did. And they better hope so since, if you and India ever go at it with nukes, China is going to be ground zero for the fallout and the flood of irradiated refugees. You might just remember though that Chinese foreign aid is rarely as fortifying as US aid. A month later you're broke again.

  2. Iraq: I hate long goodbyes. So, stay in touch. We'll always have Baghdad.

  3. Iran: Even a broken clock is right twice a day and so it is with your fear that Israel is going to take you out. Well, it's not Israel per se, but "the Jews." Iranian leaders, meet your worst nightmare: Mark Zuckerberg. (There is deep poetic justice in that story. I could wax on about the history of antisemitism, and how Hitler tossed out the very Jews ended up working for the allies to defeat Germany, but I will resist.)

  4. Syria: What are your plans for the day the Iranian people overthrow your Mullah pals in Tehran? Have you been thinking about that? If not, hurry up. Because that clicking sound you keep hearing is the sound of millions or your own citizens clicking their mouses as they cruise the Internet learning things you've been keeping from them for decades. Exactly when that clicking sound becomes the click of rounds being chambered is uncertain, yet certain. Just saying.

  5. Fatah: Jesus H. Christ guys, can you get some freakin' backbone. Grab your wayward Hamas partners and tell them in no uncertain terms that they either have to recognize Israel's right to exist or else. Or else what? Well, that's where the backbone part comes in. Fatah used to be able to create nothing but trouble for Israel, bloody trouble.  And Israel is lot more powerful than rag tag Hamas. What? Have you forgotten how to cause trouble for those who cause you trouble? It's fine to speak softly, but there's that whole "stick thing" too. In your part of the world you have to have both, and be a credible practitioner of both. So that there is the "or else" part. YouÕve Hamas wag your dog for way too long. Time to clip that tail, don't ya think? If Israel doesnÕt see that you are willing and able to defang your own crazies, they will never agree to defang their own crazies and make peace with you.

  6. Israel: If you guys build one more goddamn settlement, or expand one more existing settlement we will begin to deduct $10 million in US aid for each and every additional living unit you create on occupied territories. Israeli politicians are using settlement construction as a political card. ItÕs the same way born-agains here in the US use hot-button issues like abortion rights, to win over our own religious-fundamentalist demographic. Rightwing Jews use settlements as wrecking ball to knock down any promising peace efforts. So we are telling you, knock it off. And, if you get in a twit about that demand, and you accelerate settlements as a way to "show us Israel can't be pushed around," then we will just have to support the Palestinians in the UN when they seek recognition for their own state within 1967 borders, and then you can deal with that Òfact on the groundÓ as well. And no, we are not "throwing Israel under the bus.Ó Israel is a  nuclear-armed nation with one of the best military machines in the world and is therefore more than capable of adjusting to life within itÕs original borders with some negotiated swaps to accommodate some existing settlements.  Half a matzo is better than none, Bibi.

  7. Palestinians: Both you guys and Israelis share one big-ass fact thing in common; you both have large worldwide diasporas. But, just as there's not enough space for every Jew in the world to live in modern-day Israel, there's also not enough room or resources for every displaced Palestinian to return to Palestine. This is not racism or de facto ethnic cleansing, just simple math. So get over it and drop the impossible demand that every displaced Palestinian be allowed the right of return. Just as Jews around the world visit Israel to connect with their heritage, Palestinians can do the same. Both countries will simply have to act as heritage amusement parks for those who long for a whiff of the old sod.

Staying on the Israeli/Palestinian mess for moment more, just another point. As we move forward what don't want to hear from either side are historical gripes. Both sides have suffered - as only those of Middle Eastern extraction can suffer. To listen to either side you'd think they were the only people on earth to ever face persecution, deprivation, forced immigration, racism, murder and mayhem. I am not suggesting that such things be forgiven or forgotten, just that they be considered over, history, a bell that cannot be un-rung. The only important issue now is how to apportion what's left, to those who are left, so they can get on with creating new history - history we can hope can, through lesson's learned the hard way, that avoids making the same mistakes .

Finally, Gaza. Gaza is a geographical problem. There is no logical way to make Gaza a continguous part of a West Bank Palestinian state, as Palestinians are demanding. So instead the UN/Israel and Palestine should agree instead to make Gaza into the Middle East version of Hong Kong - a wide open, tax free port of entry, run by the Palestinians as their sovereign territory, but only as long as it remains open to any country, including Israel. Because if Middle Easterners, including Israelis, covet anything, it's a good deal. And a wide open, tax free Gaza port of entry would be just that for everyone in the region. If business hates anything it's trouble. Create a bustling Palestinian Hong Kong in Gaza and the only trouble will be finding a place to dock your freighter.

That's what I would have said. But few others will.  And thatÕs why the messes in the Middle East never get anything but worse.

 

Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a (more...)
 
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