Friday, July 28, 2006

Global War on Terrorism sets off alarms

When I first started practicing law, I received some advice that stuck with me. I was told to trust everyone, at least until they prove themselves untrustworthy. The advice served me well. The pains I suffered from misplaced trust never exceeded the benefits I obtained by heeding this advice. One benefit was that I developed a highly sensitive bullshit detector.

It is against this backdrop that I recall my reaction to King George the Incompetent’s declaration of a global war on terror. Imagine a fire truck screaming on a submarine as it is about to submerge, while a loudspeaker blares: “Emergency! Emergency! Deploy Haz-mat Protection Immediately.”

I said to my buddies, “If this is a global war on terrorism, then when are we going to attack the PLO?”

Of course, the PLO went mainstream, but in the end it was crushed by the weight of its own corruption. Arafat’s demise was a death-knell for the organization, since only the cult of personality built around him could distract Palestinians from the incredible ineffectiveness of the organization.

Bush never tried to get Arafat to be serious about solving the problems of the Palestinians or cleaning up his own act because Clinton had spent so much energy unsuccessfully in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I say ‘unsuccessfully’ although Clinton did accomplish this: He proved that, as the old saying goes, “The PLO never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Further, it could no longer be disputed that the PLO just couldn’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.

Bush’s inattention to international terrorism while waging a global war on international terrorism produced some anomalous results. For example, in the Gaza, the terrorist organization, Hamas, was elected to succeed the Palestinian Liberation Authority. This is toilet paper democracy: use it once and throw it away.

The case for ignoring Hezbollah is even harder to grasp. Hezbollah claims credit for bombing an American embassy and a US Marine barracks, which led to the precipitous withdrawal of Americans from Lebanon on Ronald Reagan’s watch. (Did someone say, “Cut and run?”)

Hezbollah claims that it was formed to expel Israel from southern Lebanon. The raison d’etre no longer exists: Israel has withdrawn from the Bakaa valley in southern Lebanon, and the United Nations has certified this.

The United Nations has also passed a resolution implementing the cease-fire agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War. It called for the dismantling of all militias in the Lebanon, but Hezbollah will have none of it.

The Cedar revolution began in Lebanon following the Feb. 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harriri. By the end of April, the demonstrations had accomplished their main goals: the withdrawal of the roughly 14,000 Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents from Lebanon, and the disbanding of the Pro-Syrian government.

Will the United States engage Hezbollah in the global war on terrorism? Don’t count on it. For one thing, our military resources are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our treasury has been emptied in order to fill the coffers of the super millionaires in our own country.

But there is another reason that the US is paralyzed. The administration clings to idea that it can be an enemy to terrorists and the countries that harbor them, a friend to democracy and in particular to Israel, and an even-handed intermediary between the warring parties in the region. It’s a tall order for a crowd that can’t walk and chew gun at the same time.

Today, we could see the President hard at work making the disparate threads of this difficult tapestry all pull together. Dubya entertained, Taylor Hicks, winner of “American Idol” to the White House, along with 9 runners-up.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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