- The Washington Times - Friday, July 14, 2006

War in the Middle East

Quickly and most surely, the world is condemning Israel in what has now escalated into a major military operation for all sides. Instead, we should all be grateful for Israel’s action against Hezbollah (“Hezbollah abducts two Israeli soldiers,” Thursday, Page One). Hezbollah has not only hijacked Islam in an attempt to gain control of Lebanon and destroy Israel, but it also aims to promote Islamist fundamentalism worldwide.

Hezbollah is sponsored by Syria and Iran, and it has trained terrorists from other organizations, such as Hamas. Although a link with al Qaeda has not been confirmed, it shares the same ideology. All these organizations aim to stamp out democracy. These terrorists seek to obstruct the freedoms we cherish — especially freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

As Americans, we have become jaded by the general peace in our own country. We fail to see the risk that these far-away organizations present to human beings around the globe, and, ultimately, to ourselves.

Like many Islamist terrorist organizations, Hezbollah is shamed by the military and technological power of Israel and the West. Hezbollah uses Israel as a scapegoat for poverty and backwardness in Lebanon. This is a transparent ruse to maintain its power. These extremists see shame as the ultimate vice and pride as a virtue. So, when the Islamists view the West as being superior, they blame the West and set their followers against it. We must understand the nature of Islamists. They will not relent, and any concession toward the extremists will result only in further aggression.

Dialogue is, unfortunately, not the answer. Recent attempts have not resulted in peace, and there is no reason to expect anything different in the future. Dialogue is a tool used among free countries to achieve compromise. Hezbollah does not seek to compromise. Its end is the destruction of democracy and freedom. What could it compromise about?

Moreover, the decisions made in an authoritarian regime are generally made by its leaders. In America, when Democrats and Republicans need to resolve an issue, they argue and compromise. However, there are no democratic debates in authoritarian regimes. For this very reason, the proposal of dialogue is naive.

Hezbollah will continue to torment innocent civilians, as will other terrorist organizations of its ilk, unless it is rooted out. The American-Israeli relationship in the war on terror may prove to be the strongest.

Naturally, the rest of the Western world will continue its democratic dialogue of condemnation toward Israel. But the terrorists do not share our values. Terrorism, and the risks that follow, must be taken seriously. Thank you, Israel, for leading the way.

DANIEL HALPER

Athens, Ga.

While the history of the Middle East is complex and subject to debate, some things are simple: Israel’s enemies want Israel gone. (They would prefer dead, but will settle for gone.) Israel, having accepted land ceded to it by the British in the Balfour Declaration, has been the hated target of the nations that didn’t claim their share of the area when it was divided and offered to them at that time.

So, wars have been the norm ever since. Israel has given back much of the area it won in those wars, only to be attacked again and again despite those concessions. Iran’s new leader has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Has Israel ever so threatened its enemies on its own?

But when fighting breaks out, who does the world condemn? The instigators of the attacks or the ones trying to repel them? I have no doubt that there would not be another Israeli shot fired in anger if its neighbors would just leave it alone. Peace is possible only if the Arab instigators can decide they can abide Jews in the region. As long as they try to push Israel into the sea, what other response would anyone expect?

There’s plenty of room for all who want to live there, but there can never be room enough when one party can’t stand to be near the other.

JACK WEBB

Springfield

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In the editorial on Wednesday, The Times speculated as to whether we are witnessing the beginning of “A ninth Arab-Israeli war?” In fact, the Arab world has conducted constant low-level warfare against the tiny state of Israel since its birth, ranging from occasional outbursts to full-fledged hostilities. Indeed, the latest round did begin in 2000 when Yasser Arafat launched — in response to an overly generous peace offer from Prime Minister Ehud Barak — his legions of suicide bombers.

The more intense conflagration that we now witness is the unsurprising Hamas-Hezbollah response to Israel’s suicidal policy of “pre-emptive surrender.” The rockets that fall on Haifa and Ashkelon are launched from the areas that Israel has unilaterally abandoned — southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Should Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expand the suicidal policy of pre-emptive surrender to Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank), then the rockets will be landing on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

President Bush has cautioned Israel to act with restraint. The murderous minions of Hamas and Hezbollah are no different from the genocidal maniacs in al Qaeda who have attacked the United States. Shall Mr. Olmert caution Mr. Bush to act with restraint in dealing with Osama bin Laden? I think not.

The Israelis are having enough trouble figuring out on their own how to deal with their Arab foes. The hypocritical double standard that Western Europe imposes on Israel’s actions is painful enough. The United States should back up its recent veto of the latest egregious one-sided U.N. resolution by giving its ally, Israel, a free hand to deal with its enemies who seek Israel’s destruction.

RON LIPSMAN

Rockville

Bring back public diplomacy

It is about time that Russia is understood for what it is (“Dissenters aim to expose repression to G-8 leaders,” World, Thursday). It is not a democracy and never has been. Most likely, it never will be. Vladimir Putin has indicated as much. The 1990s, as the Soviet system was destroyed, may have been a bit messy for Russia, but all such efforts toward human freedom are messy. The former KGB operative is now engaged in trying to restore the former Russian/Soviet empire, using new economic and energy-related methods to re-devour its neighbors and extend its influence into a new type of domination. All these reasons and many more are enough to make us think seriously about public diplomacy, America’s image, and, ultimately, our national interests. This is no time to wallow in the politics of illusion.

It also is time for the Bush administration to understand the realities of the world and immediately begin restoring most of the public diplomacy cuts that foolishly began with the Clinton administration in the 1990s. Since September 11, and, more specifically, since terrorism against America began in the 1980s and 1990s, we have been in a war against terror, a new world war. It is not a police action, as some would claim.

Congress and the administration must begin immediately to restore funding for the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the U.S. Information Agency. USIA does not have to be a carbon copy of its past, but the concept must be there if we are to help the world understand what we are about.

The great radios that helped bring victory in the Cold War must again be in the forefront, not the teeny-bopper music that listeners can buy in a corner store. That means English and Russian, as well as most of the languages of the Russian periphery. It takes time to reconstitute the services, so there is no time to lose. What kind of a policy is it that cuts Russian and English broadcasting and gives up shortwave while Mr. Putin forces broadcasters to drop VOA and RL and increases his English?

VELLO EDERMA

Former deputy chief

European Division

Voice of America

Springfield

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