Friday, July 28, 2006

Am I the Only One ? - Re: Lebanon - Tragedy

Lebanon is a small country with a population of approximately 3.9 million in an area of 10,452 square kilometers. Current estimates are that 800,000 of its population has been displaced from their homes.

In the United States Connecticut, Oklahoma and Oregon all have populations fairly close to the population of Lebanon (about 200-300,000 less). Connecticut's geographic area totals 12,997 kilometers (much smaller than Oklahoma and Oregon).

I can not imagine 20% of Connecticut's population being forced to flee their homes. New Orleans had a population of about 485,000. The displacement of population would be comparable to the dislocation of all of New Orleans and some of its suburban population. Similarly it would be comparable to Washington, D.C. and several hundred thousand of its suburbs having all their population displaced.

Lebanon is a relatively poor country with an extremely weak central government.

It seems incredibly stupid and sad that the US Government continues to support the Israeli Government 100% in indicating that the time is still not right for a ceasefire in Lebanon.

I heard a seemingly knowledgeable commentator on Lebanon on the radio yesterday. He indicated that the Israelis had assured the Bush Administration before the war began that they would sweep in and win the war easily within a week. He indicated that now the Israelis were facing the facts that the Hezbellah fighters are experienced and good whereas many of the Israeli soldiers are relatively inexperienced. For Israel increasingly it is a major problem that the war is not over.

Assuming that peace should come to Lebanon there will be a number of major problems as a result of what has transpired. At the beginning of the war the Hezbellah were the "bad guys" in much of the Arab world. The massive war effort's harming and killing of civilians has turned public opinion in Lebanon and in neighboring Middle East countries strongly against Israel.

Rebuilding Lebanon will not likely be done by the United States. Iran will likely fund much of the rebuilding. This will then build Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East outside of Israel. The result will be the opposite of what is in the best interests of the United States and Israel.

The United States could work with Middle Eastern countries besides Israel talking extensively with Saudi Arabia and most probably Egypt and Jordan to help find an Arab lead peace initiative without any preconditions before the talking begins. Building informal, if not formal, ties with Syria and Iran with whom the U.S. has no current formal diplomatic relations would be helpful.

The United States really has been quite successful at creating enemies and taking bad situations and making them much worse in recent years! It is sad and immoral that so many people need to die and have their lives turned upside down because of the limited vision actions and inaction of Mr. Bush and those who advise him.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Little Humor - for a Change

This morning my 7 year old step-son got up around 7:15 a.m. and walked out of his bedroom into the living room, got on the couch with the remote control by his hand and fell asleep without a word or other action and slept there for the next 2 1/2 hours.

It's nice - with all the craziness (e.g. now 800,000 Lebanese civilians having fled from their homes) - to simply be able to get a brief laugh out of something.

Our new house has a creek in back. Several days ago the "Owner Cat" - whose house is several houses down the block and across the street gave me an extremely disgusted look which clearly said: "What right do YOU have to be in MY Backyard!!!!" This was the 2nd time this had happened - but the cat was more emphatic this time.

Years ago, we were in a food store and I saw the mother of a two year old boy blush extremely when her son said loudly (with an inflection obviously similar to hers): "OH SHIP!!"

Any simple similar stories would be most welcome in response!


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lebanon/Israel - The Current War - Feelings

I'm saddened, hurt, angry and much more thinking about what is transpiring in Lebanon and Israel currently! For the first time an "Arab" ("Muslim") force, the Hezbalah has taken an action and been widely criticized by some of the conservative Arab World - including notably the Saudi Arabian Government.

Reading of as many as 500,000 people being displaced and increasing numbers of mostly civilians killed, it feels like the United States and our Government are remarkably calm. In too many ways we seem disconnected from what will, for example, make Hurricane Katrina seem like a relatively minor event in comparison most likely unless things end very, very soon and things aren't as bad as they appear now to be. The lives of Lebanese people should be seen as just as important as our lives!

This would be a perfect time for President Bush to exercise some leadership and bring about a temporary ceasefire where the bombings and rocket attacks would cease and a real attempt might be made to get the captured Israeli soldiers back in Israel - alive.

Unfortunately Bush again supports the Israeli Government and whatever they do, giving more opportunities for more "terrorists" to be born out of anger, disallusionment and more towards the United States. Killing for peace - won't work here!

Responsible Jewish leaders such as are in - A Jewish Voice for Peace -(they have an excellent website - criticize Israeli military/government actions without in any way supporting or being neutral about what Hezbelah has done and is trying to do.

I understand that Iran and perhaps to a lesser degree Syria may be involved in what is going on and that there are dangers related to this. It is also clear to me that a weak Lebanese Government is now virtually powerless and will have even less chances to internally control future actions of Hezbalah or others in the future who may try to attack Israel.

I believe that the U.S. Government and people have a responsibility to help make peace in Lebanon and with the Palestinians. This will never happen until we really mediate and are not simply allied with Israel. Being Non-Aligned need not condone the actions of others any more than we are now guilty of supporting the needless killing of many people as well as badly hurting many people who are in danger of losing their lives solely because of where they live.

It is unfortunate that the Bush Administration's actions and inactions will continue to feed Radical Islam and make future terrorism more likely!


Friday, July 14, 2006

I've joined another (Feminist Men's) Blog

I just joined the Group Feminist Men's Blog at:

Some, if not most of my Feminist related writings will be there. Hopefully it will generate more dialogue and not be a hassle if anyone who reads my blog here wants to go there.


Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Our Enemies" - Our Government's Response

I recently read a review of Ron Suskind's new book: "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11". The reviewer describes how the author talking of a U.S. intelligence policy where pre-established political decisions shape the intelligence so that the CIA and others must "find evidence" to support whatever the Bush Administration wants the message to be.

The reviewer describes the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March, 2002. He indicates that this man was described as: "al-Qaida's chief of operations". "Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be." After indicating that the prisoner appeared to know nothing about terrorist operations, President Bush, two weeks later described him as: "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."

This man then became a major CIA focal point with some of the notorious torture (or almost torture) techniques based allegedly upon a statement Bush gave to George Tenet (CIA Director at the time): "I said he was important" and "You're not going to let me loste face on this, are you?"

Under much duress Zubaydah began to speak of a whole range of plots including attacking The Brooklyn Bridge and The Statue of Liberty. "With each new tale, 'thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each ... target' And so, Suskind writes, 'the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap screaming, at every word he uttered.'"

Being bothered greatly by ridiculous, dangerous, ineffective actions of the Bush Administration alone does little to change things! Hopefully the patterns of such efforts will haunt Bush and the Republicans in the months and years to come awakening voters to help change things.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Start the Revolution - Also Have Some Fun & Relaxation

Reading a local weekly's description of a political commune in our community left me a little sad. While the ideals of the group seem on the whole excellent, there seemed to be something really missing in their life together.

It is important that when we work for societal change that we really try our best to change our world into a better place. Obviously if we spend our time taking it easy most of the time, we may not do a whole lot for whatever causes we care about.

It also is very important that we try to look at the bigger picture, rather than getting caught up in the details of our cause(s). When we burn out "saving the world", we don't help our cause(s) much as well as making ourselves less likely to succeed in both the short and long runs.

How we take care of ourselves is very important! Viewing life and our world around us in some spiritual way often may help us. Whether this is through a religion or some other path, seeing and feeling the miracles of life however it may be is helpful. For my partner and me water has a great significance. We are fortunate now to live along a creek - which is a huge help to our morale. Seeing the large bodies of water near us as well as in other areas often helps us lift our spirits.

Relaxing enjoying music, theater, dance, sunsets and sunrises and many other things can rejuvenate us a lot. Play also is important! Children often can teach us much about play. We can also explore various areas of silliness and simply having fun.

There is much more no doubt that I'm missing here! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Palestinians, Hamas, the US, etc.

Being Jewish and from the United States I am concerned about what transpires between the Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East.

For many Jews, there is a fear of the Palestinians directly related to the Holocaust. Taking the Palestinian cause seriously as a valid desire for independence is equated with the appeasement of Hitler by the U.S., Great Britain, France and other countries. The words of Hamas and of individual "radicals" are taken very seriously as threatening to destroy the State of Israel and kill as many Israeli Jews as possible.

The United States is hardly an "innocent bystander" in the Middle East! At various times the U.S. has directly or indirectly pushed Israel to pursue policies seen as congruent with U.S. foreign policy. The ties between the military and intelligence communities are common knowledge.

Israel is a strong military power. While it can not compete with the U.S. in such areas, its military power is far stronger than the combined powers of its perceived "enemies" in the Middle East. Despite the fears of many Israelis and Jews from other countries, Israel is in no danger of being destroyed unless a nuclear holocaust should occur.

Currently Israel is an important ally of the U.S. Currently Israel's bargaining power with the Palestinians is very strong. Israel has repeatedly avoided what I would call "serious negotiations" over a peace settlement. The proposed peace settlement which Arafat rejected would have divided the West Bank into slices of a country with Israeli control between them. A new country there could not have survived as a viable state. More importantly any Palestinian leadership which had approved such a settlement would have lost power to militants such as the current Hamas leadership.

It is risky to really seriously negotiate a peace settlement for Israel. There are no guarantees that radicals such as those in Hamas won't be "impossible" and create extreme problems that could result in the deaths of many people.

It is also risky to continue the status quo and to build physical barriers to isolate the Palestinians within walls as is being done. Eventually Israel will lose its strategic importance to the U.S. At that time Israel will have only its military and economic force as a bargaining chip.

Israel has Not proposed offering virtually all of the West Bank for a Palestinian state including the important water rights in the entire area. It appears to me that the status of Jerusalem and its immediate area can not be resolved in the short-term.

I believe that Israel could negotiate a two step peace process which basically allows a totally independent West Bank State to exist as the first step. It would be in the Palestinians best interests to make such a state work so that they could have some bargaining power related to the Jerusalem Area. Such an agreement would be risky for the Palestinians because there would be no guarantees that the second state of negotiations would work out.

Israel will continue to face a militant Hamas (or worse) until it honestly seeks a peace settlement. It is hard to negotiate with "militants". It is a natural result of failing to take negotiations seriously with the Palestinians - previously.

I hope that there will be peace! It will only happen when Israel takes risks and helps make it happen. I hope that Jews from outside Israel will gradually see more of these truths.