Surrealpolitic for surreal times.: Let's Talk Seriously Now.

12.31.2006

Let's Talk Seriously Now.

I have friends from all spectrums of the political rainbow. From liberals who scream incomprehensible slogans like "US is a terrorist state" to blind faith "stay the course" neo-cons. Now, the reason I can stomach either of these is that they both have valid points. The U.S. has engaged in terrorist acts across the globe that have resulted in the deaths of probably hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Pinochet, Angola, Indonesia and Cuba; the list is endless. And, "stay the course" is not, on the surface, a terrible strategy since if we pull out Iraq essentially becomes Iran's Canada. Which is why, when it comes to the Middle East, I like to turn to Plato.

Plato has a wonderful parable about a cave in which shadows keep a group of people from ever leaving. Too terrified to get up and exit the cave the viewers sit and passively watch the mindless dumbshow. One day, someone does and sees that the shadows are merely puppets being operated by two people who want to keep the people in the dark cave and, presumably away from their resources. This parable is the basic foundation of any government from Lycurges to Napoleon to Stalin to Bush. If people are afraid, they are pliant. They look for leadership. It's a typical herding mentality that arises when danger threatens the pack. Therefore, if you present the pack with danger, you solidify your power. Leadership 101. A slam-dunk. But this isn't just an American policy, it's a policy that every government employs and some of the most effective are located in the Middle East.

Since 1948 we've heard about Israel and how unjust their statehood was/is. There is a case to be made for this and since then Israel has committed a lot of terrible acts in the name of self-defense; some deserved, some maybe less so. Regardless, every monarchy or theocratic institution rose in anger and demanded the Jewish state be destroyed. It had no right to exist. They were a threat to their people. Sound familiar? Now, imagine tomorrow Israel decides to pack up and all move to Miami for early retirement. What would happen when the greatest Arab shadow no longer exists?

Let's talk seriously now. Any one prince of Saudi Arabia, any one nation in the region, any one person or company who reaps the untold oil profits in the Middle East can decide tomorrow to build a Palestinian state. The Arab nations, with their vast amounts of money and land, could provide food, shelter and even a provisional nation to the Palestinians until a peaceful settlement were brokered. Yet for nearly sixty years, they have done nothing except point to Israel and say "that is the problem". I understand that it's not their original land and that many have been thrown out of their homes. The Palestinians have had a terrible injustice to swallow and it has been bitter. But what is more bitter is to watch as their Arab neighbors use this situation to maintain their unchecked power and wealth from their own citizens while fostering hate and violence in the name of self preservation.

When it comes to pointing to America's failures, I think it's important that it be done frequently and hold us to the same standard as all other nations. Let's not forget, however, that we are just one nation among the world's population of nations and even though we are enduring one of the worst presidents in our short history we have had our share who've desired peace in the Middle East. One of which walked away with a Noble Peace Prize. So before you burn that American flag outside your embassy or plan an attack on foriegn soil, look to your own government and see what shadows they are casting.

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