Monday, July 17, 2006

The definition of insanity

Benjamin Franklin said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." For decades, the Israelis have been applying the tactic of 10,000 eyes for an eye – a massively disproportionate retaliation to every provocative act of resistance attempted by the Palestinians, expecting every time that this would bring peace and security to all the people of the Holy Land. Every single time they have done this, it has backfired. Every single time. It does not intimidate or deter the Palestinians, and it never will. It hardens their determination to resist and to defy.

The United States, being a closely allied to Israel, has a similarly insane policy. Birds of feather, flock together. “Stay the course” – doing the same thing over and over and over again. In Iraq, our soldiers are sent into a village they think the insurgents are, and destroy it. The people who remain alive in the village are very bitter about the loss of their homes and loved ones. They, in turn, become insurgents, and other outside insurgents come back to the same village to join them, and then they have to do the same thing all over again. This process of repetition simply creates more, and more, and more terrorists. There were no terrorists in Iraq before we got there.

In 2002, Dick Cheney predicted, “Regime change in Iraq would bring about a number of benefits to the region. Extremists in the region would have to rethink their strategy of Jihad. Moderates in the region could take heart, and our ability to advance the Palestinian/Israeli peace process would be enhanced.”

So, how’s that working out for you, Dick?

If you are an intelligent and sensitive human being, you learn from your past mistakes and you make a rational decision to try something different. The Israeli leadership for all these many generations and the Bush administration since 9/11 have been incapable of performing that really rather simple mental and moral exercise.

It's astonishingly painful and upsetting to see this go on again and again and again and again and again. The situation between the Israelis and Palestinians has been going on my entire conscious life, and has been one of absolute pain, suffering, terror, death, destruction, and an ultimate flash point for God knows what kind of confrontation, among what nations, and what regions of the world that would begin right there. During the Cold War, or course, the United States and the Soviet Union played Arab against Jew and Jew against Arab over and over and over again. So here we are.

The US has not joined with other countries call on the Israelis for a ceasefire, because it doesn’t believe in negations. The way all wars have been settled in the past has been through negotiations, and the process may be messy, but the crisis is even messier. The man Bush choose to represent the United States at the UN, says Israel “has a right to defend itself”, and condemns Syria and Lebanon. Unfortunately, John Bolton’s philosophy is “do what’s in the interest of the US, and screw everybody else.” What he doesn’t realize in his mustachioed Cro-Magnon skull, is that it is not in our best interest to wage war, and divide other countries against each other with machiavellian politics.

Yesterday, eight Canadians died in Lebanon, a Lebanese-Canadian couple, their four children, his mother and an uncle, said relatives in Montreal. Asked to comment on the deaths in an Israeli air strike of eight Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon Sunday, here is what our "diplomat" said: "it is a matter of great concern to us ...that these civilian deaths are occurring. It's a tragedy."

"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".

In other words, Lebanon civilian deaths are morally not same as terror victims. That's good diplomacy - to tell Lebanese civilians (who want nothing to do with any of this, they are simply caught in the middle) that their deaths do not count as much as Israeli deaths.

John Bolton and the chicken hawks WANT WWIII. That's why they’re talking like this. Every one of them is saying we are already in WWIII. It’s like a freak show, - Newt Gingrich, Neil Cavuto, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh. What’s so freaky about it? They all talk out of the same mouth. Wow! Hey mom, give me a dollar! I want to go to the carnival freak show! Rush says that getting rid of the Mulahs in Iran is a great opportunity. Bombing and killing is a great opportunity.

They all talk like this because it’s good for the Republicans in November. If they can make the WWIII the national issue, then it won't matter how much the Republicans screwed up this country, Americans will be scared to death, and they vote for them in again because of the “security issue”. They will destroy the whole world as long as they can use the war to stay in power, and at the same time make money through the military industrial complex. Here is the Republican motto in the midterms: "The only thing we have to USE is fear itself," which is of course, exactly the opposite of FDR's famous saying. Bolton is worried, because after the midterms, his recess job appointment comes up for assessment again, and if the Democrats take the Senate he will be handed a pink slip. Even if Democrats don't take the senate, he could be gone, because he's such an asshole, even the current senate rejected him, that why Bush put him in on recess. You can always count on Bush to get the best man for the job. "You're doing a heck of a job, Brownie!"

Encouraging and supporting Israel in a bloody confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon may seem to be a justified and reasonable action in the shortest of terms and from the narrowest of perspectives, but the United States of America is not Israel, and we have regional and global interests and responsibilities that far surpass those of this one small ally. This reactionary small mindedness will not serve America, or the world in the long run.

It doesn’t matter “who started it”. If you take land and houses and personal freedoms away from individuals, and if you systematically deprive a whole people of dignity and national identity, they do not forgive or forget their deep sense of injury, deprivation and injustice. Giving them a thorough beating at regular intervals, or endlessly frustrating their hopes of enjoying the benefits of political self-determination and economic prosperity, does not diminish their personal bitterness of alleviate their collective hunger for revenge and restitution. That point should be beyond debate, in my opinion.

Open confrontation of Hezbollah by the United States, allied with Israel, will have a powerful impact on the Iranian people, as well. Argue, if you will, that Iran is a known supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas, and thus of international terrorism. That is a reality that none can deny. But let's look beyond Bolton's bully national self interest and look at long term, not just for the United States, but for the world. prioritize. It is the people of Iraq and Iran on whom we depend not just for "regime change" in the short term, but for peace and stability (and resistance to terrorism) throughout the region in the decades ahead. It is the people of those countries whose trust and respect we must win. We don't do that by threatening to nuke them, forcing our brand of democracy on them, putting them out of work, insulting their leaders, refusing to negotiate, etc., etc.. It is the trust and respect of those people that we have lost --- to a significant extent because we are identified in their minds with the narrow interests of Israel. Why is that so difficult for Americans to understand?

The national philosophy of Israel and the United States (it is really deeper and more significant that just a military tactic) that underlies this devotion to pre-emptive war, massive over-reaction, and particularly its corollary, collective punishment, is obviously and demonstrably foolish and futile. It doesn’t deter enemies, and it never will. It simply creates more enemies.

The philosophy is complicated by the misinterpretation of religion, claiming that this or that tract of land was given by God to a certain group of people. That conclusion is false. We don’t have any rights to God’s property. If we claim any rights, then we are thieves – even if we do so in the name of our religion.

As Prabhupada said in “The Peace Formula”: “The great mistake of modern civilization is to encroach upon other’s property as though it were one’s own and to thereby create an unnecessary disturbance of the laws of nature…This earth is, therefore, the property of God, but we, the living entities, especially the so-called civilized human beings, are claiming God’s property as our own, under both and individual and collective false conception. If you want peace, you have to remove this false conception from your mind and from the world. This false claim of proprietorship by the human race on earth is partly or wholly the cause of all disturbances of foolish and so-called civilized men who are claiming proprietary rights on the property of God because they have now become godless… In the Bhagavad-gita, the holy book of India, Lord Krishna delineates the peace formula. He says that He is the factual enjoyer of all activities of the living entities, that He is the Supreme Lord of all universes, and that He is the well-wishing friend of all beings. When the people of the world know this as the formula for peace, it is then and there that peace will prevail.”

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