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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Expectations on the Middle East

Suppose we are certain about the eventual outcomes in the two worst hot spots of the conflagration-prone Middle East -- Afghanistan and Palestine, with the latter including the jurisdiction that is now called "Israel."   Suppose that we are, in fact, so dead certain of this that we see the principals involved, right there on the fields of action -- and inaction -- as really having no more power to change those outcomes than we do sitting in our computer chairs in other places where the smoke and the hot air are not so thick.

If so, our course is clear, and therefore we can see an article like the one that the BBC published yesterday, titled "Afghanstan's Make or Break Year Ahead" and written in very authorititive language as nevertheless expressing total nonsense.

The article says that the U.S. and those perennial dummies when it comes to Afghanistan, the British, have choices to make in that accursed place, such as negotiation, when there is really no choice at all but to pack up and get out quick.   History has never shown any good reason for big powers to stick their sticky pinkies into that place, with the most striking case being the recent one of the Russians, who had far more advantages in making the incursion than the Americans and friends, because they were right next door.  Yet the Russians ended up finding it highly expeditious to pick up all the marbles that they still had and leave in a huff, though only after the passage of the same length of  10 fruitless years that is now at hand for the U.S. and the U.K.

=This is, unless the negotiations that the article speaks of are to allow the West to find ways to say, "We give up," without appearing to do so.   But the Taliban are some truly hard customers, and at any bargaining table they will have only inflicting humiliation in mind.

After the Americans and the British do eventually scurry out of Afghanistan, the Taliban will not have it all to themselves.  After all, this is Afghanistan.  Instead they will be left to contest the spoils with other warlords, on and on into the indefinite future, as long as they can find places to bury all the wreckage -- or until fast food,  spectator sports, and tourists of some kind manage to infiltrate more decisively than any armed men or aerial drones from far overseas can do.

In Palestine the Israelis also think they are winning, and to that end they see it to their advantage to emulate  the Taliban by having no interest of any kind in reaching peace agreements with the Palestinians, however much they are urged to do so, and everything they do shows that, no matter what they might say.

Yet they can't do anything about the factors that will turn the decision against them in the long run.   These factors are  the attrition caused by severe differences in birth rates, the tough neighborhood, and the fact that the Palestinians are at home there, while the Israelis, for all their clenched-teeth claims of Biblical rights, are not at all at home, as the reluctance of their brothers and sisters in the U.S. and other places to relocate to Israel in any great numbers shows quite vividly.

Those factors, then, will eventually cause Israel to deflate like a slowly pierced balloon to a small, lazy, limpid colony of someone or something, with Bedouins charging for guided tours of the abandoned Dimona nuclear works and a couple of very curious, high walls, one erected a few thousand years ago and bound to the side of a plateau topped by a mosque, and the other built just yesterday, freestanding and snaking crazily over the West Bank countryside in all directions for no readily understood reason.   

With those things in mind, and amid the awareness that all those news items about negotiations in those two parts of the Middle East are still,  after six decades already of such noise in Palestine, just salutes being regularly run up empty flagpoles and nothing else,  we have only to sit back and note with confidence how developments -- and the lack of them -- each day will bear out those expectations.   They will be what comes of operating in that region where all those bigtime religions meet, yet good faith, in all the meanings of that term, has long since ceased to exist.


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