I call upon President-Elect George W. Bush to meet with President Bassar Assad of Syria and King Abdullah bin al-Hussein of Jordan. Soon and often. These sons of power could affect peace or, pardon the sirreverence, thwart the possibility as feckless brats of paternal happenstance. Israel has changed its status with the Palestinians from a "formal state of peace" to "armed conflict," a legal designation just shy of a declaration of war. With Israeli elections scheduled for February 6 and attitudinal Ariel Sharon leading in the polls, it appears peace is a question no one wants to answer. These sons of power could be allayers. Should be. Must be. Now.
War. What is it good for? The economy and morale, to invoke cliché, often benefit from war. It's the deadly sport of government wherein an audience gets a chance to assist its team by dying. We need different games.
I call upon Bush, Assad, and Hussein to be honest. Some may hope the Israelis and Palestinians will work things out themselves, but this conflict is too fecund with ethnic and religious anger to deliver easy agreement in ink. Blood, perhaps, though there's another way. Money. It always comes back to money.
Pride? Family, nation, religion, political opinion, and the plastic rest be damned; money matters and only death stops the craving. Noble intentions are neurotic fictions and cash is the only history in currency. I wish it were otherwise, but that's how it goes. Money matters.
Ten years ago this week Operation Desert Storm began. As television broadcast images of the conflict my mother was dying. It's been a decade and I can sigh and sigh again, however no amount of rationality can dissuade my regarding the horror as other than recent. It seems like yesterday. G. H. W. Bush went to war with Iraq and now his son, G. W. Bush, is in a position to command military déjà vu. What sorties these fools undertake!
Sure, the passing of my mom defines the moment for me. Digging into Burrough's cave I decry the cancellation of the sequel to GREYSTOKE: THE LEGEND OF TARZAN, LORD OF THE APES due Kuwaiti preoccupation with Iraqi occupation. The Kuwaitis had pledged 50 million for the sequel and Saddam's piss-poor timing ruined the investment. GREYSTOKE was a fine movie; the sequel may have been fine as well. Ten years...
I recollect the 90s as a decade of change. Most changes were sublime, of course, but some were astounding and profound. The Internet, though it continues to be primarily used for e-mail and downloading free pornography, has radically effected the way we acquire information, shop, and communicate. At its bellicose vanguard marches AOL (now to be joined with Time/Warner) with the father and son team of Colin and Michael Powell on board. Secretary of State Designate Powell understands war both on the battlefield and in the boardroom. I would throw a "Hail Mary" of a guess and hazard that many Americans are comforted by his presence in the Bush administration. War and money often go together.
Bush, Assad, and Hussein must admit the violence between Israelis and Palestinians is owed to three causes: 1) the Israelis and Palestinians wish it so, 2) as Muslims the Palestinians claim The Dome of the Rock, which rests on top of the destroyed Jewish temple, and 3) the Palestinians seek restitution for being driven from their homes. The first cause is common hate and though too often controlled by various governments, is best addressed by family, friends, and spiritual leaders. The second excuse for war is the usurpation of Jewish sovereignty over its historic capital and religious focal point, Jerusalem. I can see Israel continuing to allow the Muslim devout to visit Temple Mount and the Muslim-built shrines there, but not releasing the entire city, or any part of it, for that matter. It ain't gonna' happen! Third, and last, is the "Right of Return," a vague and complicated case which pits the dispossessed Palestinians against those Holocaust survivors and their families who are collecting compensation for Nazi-era crimes. Here, the cry is one of justice, it must be heard, and fortunately it can be answered. One settlement deserves another.
Bush must convince Israel to financially compensate the Palestinians for their losses. Assad and Hussein must convince the Palestinians to accept cash in lieu of property. Though war usually has an inherent component of greed, in this case the opportunity in which money may buy peace is a miraculous gift we cannot afford to refuse. Click here for "Restitution: A Basic Human Right."
Bush, Assad, and Hussein must realize if they attempt to profit in any way from continued violence between Israelis and Palestinians, the world will reward them harshly. I call upon these sons of power to become fathers of peace. I hope they do the right thing.
Pacing the labyrinth,