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August 23, 2006

Good planets are hard to find!

Kevin E. Dayhoff

If anything has become evident since the United Nations cease-fire took affect August 14 in the latest go-round between Israel and Hezbollah, it is that no-one won and everybody lost. Ultimately things aren't looking good for the home planet.

To be sure, some lost more ground than others. However, it looks like Hezbollah, Syria and Iran emerged much stronger and the forces of democracy (and sanity) are much weaker. Not only is Hezbollah stronger but its supporters - Syria and Iran - are looking more viable than ever to China and Russia as client states worth increased support.

And the United Nations - gee, well what can be said - at least this totally incompetent and incapable organization is consistent; it is has been - nearly since its founding after the last world war - a total failure.

Considering the carnage and destruction in southern Lebanon, claims of victory by Hezbollah are surreal. If this was a victory, one can be sure that the Arab world would hate to see what a defeat looked like. However, they did survive the onslaught of one of the mightier military forces in the world.

Immediately after the cease-fire, President George W. Bush declared that Hezbollah was no longer a state within a state. Ouch - nothing could be farther from the truth.

Meanwhile, not reported widely in the mainstream media is the fact that Hezbollah's chief supporter, Iran, is none too happy either. Speculation filtering out of the Middle East suggests that Iran's support of Hezbollah, considered by many to be an arm of the Iranian armed forces, cost tons of dollars in lost strategic war materiel.

And this all over annoying the Israelis one time too many by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers that were ultimately of no strategic importance. That is unless, of course, you would like to subscribe to the notion that the whole thing was staged by Iran to take the eyes of the western world off the Iranians steady march towards nuclear capability.

Never mind the money. Americans are only too happy to give the Arabs more money every time we fill our cars up at the pump because we just can't seem to get serious about energy conservation, forgoing our addiction to foreign oil or finding sustainable alternative energy sources.

Ultimately, the best Middle East disengagement strategy the United States could undertake is to fund a full-fledged "war" on our addiction to foreign oil.

The real error on the part of Hezbollah was the miscalculation that kidnapping the Israeli soldiers would provoke the Israelis into action. This flies against the strategy that while the world and in particular, the United Nations, was ignoring the mandate of Resolution 1559 to disarm Hezbollah, Iran was arming southern Lebanon to the teeth in case the west acted against Iran militarily.

With Hezbollah strategically placed at the northern border of Israel, the minute Iran is attacked; the Iranians could open a second front. To Iran's chagrin, in spite of Israel's sub-par military performance, it was able to seriously degrade Hezbollah's military capability in personnel, infrastructure and war materiel.

As the bulldozers begin cleaning up the mess, Hezbollah begins re-arming and Israeli soldiers are returning from south of the Litani River; the Israelis, normally secretive about internal military debates are grumbling about the how the war was fought - loud enough to be heard around the world.

One thing is for sure; the month-long hostilities will be accepted as a wake-up call for the Israelis and the re-building, training, replenishment and upgrades to war materiel and personnel will begin immediately. They simply have no choice; the alternative is to be annihilated.

One could argue that the Israelis never had a chance to finish the job. But another view suggests that the Israelis accepted the cease-fire hastily because its military was simply not doing so well.

Oddly enough, there are just as many Arabs who wanted to see the conflict prolonged. In the end, cooler heads prevailed as leaders on both sides figured out that they better quit while they were behind.

So where does this leave us? Perhaps the Middle East is more desperate and unstable than it ever has been in history. Certainly we are now entering one of the most unstable periods since 1948.

To make matters worse, Syria is encouraged by how well Hezbollah performed and is whispering that perhaps there are options other than peace in the future. Bear in mind that Syria does not recognize Lebanon as a country but as lost territory, and it still wants the Golan Heights back.

As the Europeans are backing down on their pledges to commit forces to southern Lebanon, Hezbollah is busy re-arming and getting ready for the next go-round - and so is Israel.

In about a week, Iran will again ignore the western world and continue towards nuclear capability. Kofi Annan is being, well, Kofi Anna: incompetent, corrupt and anti-Israel. The United Nations is a failed experiment. Iraq is a political and military train wreck. North Korea is rumored to be about ready to test a nuclear weapon. Europe can't find its backbone with both hands at high noon. And we can't even secure our Mexican border against farm workers.

Things aren't looking good for the home planet. The world map is looking more and more like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. We're blinded by fighting among ourselves and no matter where you put the pin, it's a tinderbox.

One well placed match could light things up; might be a good time for the United States to realize that we're it. No time better than now for the liberal Democrats to declare a cease-fire on the war on President Bush, or historians will record this era as the time the United States fiddled while the world burned.

What's the plan? There's a lot at stake. Good planets are hard to find.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:

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