Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Bad Days In The Mideast, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon

The last two days have been bad in the varying wars in the Middle East, and all told, one can't escape the impression that the violence is intensifying, and easily can further.

In Iraq, the advent of the new government has not brought so much as a glimmering of progress. Killings, many of them of a sectarian nature, continue. Just yesterday, two more journalists were killed, and we read this morning that the journalistic death toll, which has reached 71, now exceeds that of World War II. Meanwhile, there is talk of the U.S. actually increasing troop levels, as it has quietly in Afghanistan. Just last week, additional U.S. troops were sent into Iraq from the reserve levels in Kuwait.

About 1,500 new troops, according to reports today, are being sent to Ramadi, where deadly terrorists hold sway, as they did two years ago in Falluja. That situation was finally improved somewhat by a U.S. Marine assault. Today, Ramadi may require even stronger action. It is not too much to envision a day when the civilian population of that city should be given 48 hours to evacuate the city, which could then be razed by B-52s. Creation of cordon sanitaires may be necessary in Iraq.

In Afghanistan, a wreck in an American military convoy sparked widespread rioting, the worst since the war there began, in Kabul. There are reports that at least in one instance, U.S. troops opened fire on a mob. The New York Times says 14 were killed, and a nighttime curfew reimposed.

The Taliban clearly sees an opportunity in the takeover by NATO forces of part of the U.S. fighting role in southern Afghanistan. There have recently been French, Canadian and British deaths in the fighting, and the Canadian prime minister has just changed his policy to allow greater coverage of Canadian war deaths in Afghanistan. Fortunately, so far, everyone seems to realize the dire consequences of allowing the evil Taliban to come back to power in Afghanistan, and that's not going to happen. But the war there is growing, and the privileged sanctuary the Taliban has in Pakistan is not helping. The Pakistani government is also preoccupied with a rebellion in Baluchistan, an area which borders on Iran and that gives it an excuse for not doing anything to crush the Taliban on its own territory, if it can be assumed to want an excuse, which may not actually be the case.

The Karzai government seems to be dead in the water, not undertaking the reforms which are so necessary in that country. The strains of Islam in Afghanistan are among the most barbaric existing anywhere. And somewhere in the vicinity, perhaps on the Pakistani side of the border, is Osama bin Laden, a menace until he is eradicated.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, two days ago, there was a serious clash between rocket-wielding Hezbollah, using longer range weapons to fire on Northern Israel, and the Israelis, which are determined not to let the situation there get further out of hand.

Lebanon has always failed to put the quietus on the Iran-backed guerrillas of Hezbollah, and it has failed to honor the agreement under which Israel pulled its forces out of southern Lebanon in exchange for pledges of peace on its northern border. United Nations forces too have proved as worthless in keeping the peace there as they have in many other places, just last week in East Timor, where the Australians have had to take over what should have been U.N. responsibilities. The U.N., as is so often the case, is part of the problem, not the solution. It does not stand for anything worthwhile.

Lebanon was not taught a lesson, as it should have been, when it allowed the Iranians to orchestrate the taking of American hostages there, an early episode in the aggressive conduct of Islamic fundamentalists.

All in all, as I said, the prospects are anything but good.

It is disquieting also to read that British academics, the same kind of idiots who helped Hitler in the early 1930s by saying they would not fight for God and Country, are now trying to launch a boycott of Israel, because Israel has the temerity to defend itself. There is something rotten to the core with these feeble-minded intellectuals.

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