ONGOING WAR in the Middle East
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 17:
“A spiral of violence has stymied peace in the Middle East for decades. Now, as bombs are being dropped on Beirut, rockets fired at Haifa and tanks sent into Gaza, Israel and Muslim extremists have brought the region to the brink of all out war… Israeli fighter jets destroyed the runway at Beirut’s international airport. Then the city’s fuel storage tanks went up in flames. Israeli warships moved into Lebanese waters, blockading the country’s ports. Lebanon, which had just halfway recovered from 15 years of civil war, was bombed back into the last century during hundreds of air strikes in the last week. The simple headline ‘War’ in newspapers on both sides of the border said it all… the Israelis found themselves being bombed back into the days of the wars of 1948-49, 1956, 1967 and 1973, as tens of thousands fled from Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on Israeli territory. Nahariya, a popular Israeli seaside resort, turned into a ghost town in the wake of a barrage of Katyusha rockets. More than a third of the city’s 50,000 inhabitants left after Hezbollah’s attacks caused dozens of injuries and one death.
“For the first time, the apparently upgraded Soviet-era Katyusha rockets hit the port city of Haifa, which had been considered out of range and safe. Eight Israeli railway employees were killed in an attack on Sunday on Israel’s third-largest city, triggering panic among Haifa’s 270,000 inhabitants…
“The most recent escalation of violence in the Middle East is the outcome of a cooperative effort as surprising as it is threatening. It appears that the Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Sunni Hamas in the Palestinian Gaza Strip have for the first time managed to coordinate an operation on two fronts. Despite their bloody clashes in Iraq, the two factions within Islam have apparently set aside their differences in their struggle against common enemy Israel…
“[H]atred for Israel grows with each day, as Israeli fighter jets launch ever more ferocious bombing attacks on targets in Beirut and southern Lebanon, destroying bridges and roads, and as television stations broadcast close-up images of bloody corpses disfigured by shrapnel. Many Lebanese already sympathize with the Shiite militia for having liberated southern Lebanon in its struggle against Israeli occupation.”
In a related article, Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 17:
“The militant Islamist group Hezbollah fire[d] Iranian-built missiles even deeper into northern Israel after Israeli Defense Forces bombarded Hezbollah strongholds and even Lebanese army targets over the weekend. World leaders have called for diplomacy and ‘international forces’ to keep the peace… Attending the G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Israel had ‘a right to defend itself,’ but she and other G-8 leaders also called on Israel to stop attacking Lebanon. ‘We don’t want to let the forces of terrorism and those who support them get the chance to create chaos in the Middle East,’ Merkel said in an interview with the German television station ZDF. But German sources told SPIEGEL that, internally, Merkel’s government considered the Israeli bombardments ‘an excessive reaction.’…
“At their meeting in St. Petersburg over the weekend, G-8 leaders had trouble reaching a consensus over how to respond to the Mideast crisis. In a joint statement on Sunday, the G-8 leaders called for ‘an immediate end to the current violence.’ But throughout the weekend, differences of opinion emerged over where criticism should be directed. Bush held Hezbollah responsible for the violence and offered ‘tacit approval’ (New York Times) for Israel’s attack against Hezbollah. ‘Our message to Israel is, look, defend yourself, but as you do so, be mindful of the consequences,’ Bush said on Sunday, ‘And so we’ve urged restraint.’ But Russia’s Putin accused Israel of going further than just defending itself. ‘We do get the impression that the aims of Israel go beyond just recovering their kidnapped soldiers,’ he told reporters…
“Missiles fired from Lebanon late Sunday landed in the Israeli city of Afula — about 50 kilometers from the Israeli-Lebanese border and further south than ever before. At least one missile landed near Nazareth, while others fell in western Galilee, near the coastal city of Akko, and in Haifa. Eight people were killed in the first rocket attack on Haifa on Sunday… Egyptian ministers separately confirmed on Saturday that an Egyptian civilian ship off the coast of Lebanon had been hit during a barrage of rocket fire between Hezbollah militants and Israeli gunships. Hezbollah had launched an attack on a fleet of Israeli military vessels laying siege to Lebanon from the water; Israel said a stray Lebanese missile hit the Egyptian boat. Egypt’s state news agency MENA, however, reported that the ship had been hit by Israeli fire. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was too early to say which side had fired the shot…
“Thousands of foreign civilians are currently being evacuated from Lebanon. An estimated 20,000 French, 2,000 Germans and 5,000 Swedes reside in the country. Hundreds were being evacuated on Monday by air and by sea. The American, Israeli, and EU governments have coordinated the evacuations. Tens of thousands of Syrian guest workers, meanwhile, lined up at a Lebanese border crossing to escape the hail of bombs.”
The British paper, The Times, wrote on July 15:
“Regardless of the outcome of the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the clear losers will be the Lebanese who had hoped that their country was shedding its image as a synonym for violence. “
The British paper, The Independent, added on July 15:
“The beautiful viaduct that soars over the mountainside here has become a ‘terrorist’ target. The Israelis attacked the international highway from Beirut to Damascus just after dawn yesterday and dropped a bomb clean through the central span of the Italian-built bridge–a symbol of Lebanon’s co-operation with the European Union–sending concrete crashing hundreds of feet down into the valley beneath. It was the pride of the murdered ex-prime minister Rafik Hariri, the face of a new, emergent Lebanon. And now it is a ‘terrorist’ target.”
The AFP reported on July 19:
“At least 55 civilians were killed as Israeli jets and gunboats pummelled towns and villages across Lebanon and tens of thousands of people fled a conflict that both sides defiantly warned would have no limit. In the bloodiest day since the fighting erupted eight days ago, two Israeli soldiers were also reported killed in clashes with guerrillas from the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement as another volley of rockets fell on northern Israel. Streams of Lebanese were fleeing their homes to find safe havens and thousands of foreigners, mainly Westerners, were being evacuated by sea from Beirut to the neighbouring Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
“The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe, with 500,000 people displaced by the Israeli onslaught and the air and sea blockade and at least 310 people killed in Lebanon alone since last Wednesday. With the international community unable to agree even on a ceasefire call, Israel vowed its ‘intensive war’ against militants would go on as long it deemed necessary. ‘The security cabinet met this morning and decided on the continuation of the offensives in Lebanon and Gaza with no time limit,’ an Israeli official said. Hezbollah, whose leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed open war against Israel after his Beirut headquarters was bombed, retorted that its guerrillas can continue to strike with ‘an arsenal of rockets for long months, and not just days or weeks.’…
“Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, who took office about a year ago after the first elections since former powerbroker Syria ended its three-decade military presence, accused Israel of ‘committing massacres’ against his people… For many ordinary Lebanese there is little chance of… a rescue and many were fleeing their homes in southern Leb
anon, which has borne the brunt of the Israeli operation, to try to find safe havens.”
The Associated Press reported on July 20 that “Israeli troops met fierce resistance from Hezbollah guerrillas Thursday as they crossed into Lebanon to seek tunnels and weapons for a second straight day, and Israel hinted at a full-scale invasion.”
The Jerusalem Post reported on July 20 that “The Lebanese Minister of Defense warned Israel Thursday that if IDF ground forces are sent into southern Lebanon, Lebanese troops will fight along with the Hizbullah against Israel.”
US Already Bankrupt?
On July 14, the British newspaper, “The Telegraph,” published an article about the financial situation of the United States, titled, “US ‘could be going bankrupt.'” In the article, it was pointed out:
“The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country’s central bank… Prof Kotlikoff said that, by some measures, the US is already bankrupt. ‘To paraphrase the Oxford English Dictionary, is the United States at the end of its resources, exhausted, stripped bare, destitute, bereft, wanting in property, or wrecked in consequence of failure to pay its creditors?’, he asked. According to his central analysis, ‘the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds.'”
Worldwide Donors to the Catholic Church
On July 13, Zenit published an article, explaining that Mexico belongs to the list of the ten highest donors to the Vatican. According to the article, “the Mexican contribution is ninth in the world, after that of the United States, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland, Canada and Korea, and before that of Austria. Mexico is in ninth place both in contributions to ‘Peter’s Pence’ as well as in the contributions of bishops in the collection carried out in their dioceses to support the universal mission of the Church… In previous years, the country of some 90 million Catholics had no significant place in aid to the work of the Church.”
Has the Iraq War Produced A Better Iraq?
On July 19, 2006, The Associated Press reported:
“Nearly 6,000 civilians were slain across Iraq in May and June, a spike in deaths that coincided with rising sectarian attacks across the country… The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq describes a wave of lawlessness and crime, including assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, torture and intimidation. Hundreds of teachers, judges, religious leaders and doctors have been targeted for death, and thousands of people have fled, the report said…
“In the last two days alone, more than 120 people were killed in violence in Iraq. In the worst attacks, fifty-three perished in a suicide bombing Tuesday in Kufa, and 50 were slain Monday in a market in Mahmoudiya… In the first six months of the year, it said 14,338 people had been killed… Women report that their rights have been rolled back by extremist Muslim groups–both Shiite and Sunni. While under Saddam Hussein’s largely secular regime, women faced few social restrictions, they say they are now barred from going to market alone, wearing pants or driving cars. And children are frequently victims, perishing in large crowds or sometimes even targeted themselves, the report said. ‘Violence, corruption, inefficiency of state organs to exert control over security, establish the rule of law and protect individual and collective rights all lead to inability of both the state and the family to meet the needs of children,’ it said. The government still has not pursued many allegations of torture and other inhumane treatment in prisons and detention centers, the U.N. said.”
America In World War III?
On July 15, The Seattle Times quoted former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich as saying that “America is in World War III.” In the article, it was pointed out: “Gingrich said in the coming days he plans to speak out publicly, and to the Administration, about the need to recognize that America is in World War III. He lists wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, this week’s bomb attacks in India, North Korean nuclear threats, terrorist arrests and investigations in Florida, Canada and Britain, and violence in Israel and Lebanon as evidence of World War III… He said people, including some in the Bush Administration, who urge a restrained response from Israel are wrong ‘because they haven’t crossed the bridge of realizing this is a war.’ ‘This is World War III,’ Gingrich said. And once that’s accepted, he said calls for restraint would fall away… Gingrich said that public opinion can change ‘the minute you use the language’ of World War III. The message then, he said, is ‘OK, if we’re in the third world war, which side do you think should win?’ An historian, Gingrich said he has been studying recently how Abraham Lincoln talked to Americans about the Civil War, and what turned out to be a much longer and deadlier war than Lincoln expected.”
Earthquake and Tsunami Hit Java Island
The Associated Press reported on July 17 that “A powerful earthquake sent a two-meter high tsunami crashing into beach resorts along Indonesia’s Java island Monday, killing around 20 people and causing extensive damage to hotels, restaurants and homes, witnesses and officials said [It was subsequently reported that the tsunami killed over 530 people and left more than 50,000 people without home or shelter]… The tsunami followed a quake that struck deep beneath the Indian Ocean 150 miles southwest of Java’s western coast… The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.2, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was followed by a [series of aftershocks, including a] 6.1-magnitude aftershock two hours later.”
According to subsequent reports on July 19, another 6.0-magnitude earthquake struck the region on Wednesday.
The article continued:
“Indonesia is prone to earthquakes because of its location on the so-called Pacific ‘Ring of Fire,’ an arc of volcanoes and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin. The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami killed at least 216,000 people, nearly half of them in Indonesia’s Aceh province. On May 27, a magnitude-5.9 earthquake devastated a large swath of Java Island, killing more than 5,800 people.”
Israel’s Goals in Lebanon
On July 19, Der Spiegel Online discussed the reaction of the German press to Israel’s fight in the Middle East. The magazine quoted numerous German newspapers, as follows:
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung doubts a buffer zone will do much good… ‘The (rocket) attacks on Haifa prove that Hezbollah has weapons to reach Israel even from the hinterlands of Lebanon,’ writes the paper. The idea of disarming Hezbollah and forcing Lebanon to obey Resolution 1559 also seems to be an Israeli pipedream: ‘Until now the Lebanese army has been too weak, and whether they will want or be able to fulfil this task after the terrorists have been decimated in their own country remains an open question.’ Until Hezbollah surrenders, writes the FAZ, even sending UN troops to keep the peace will be ‘an illusion,’ and the risk of escalation remains high…
“The right-wing daily Die Welt runs a guest editorial filed from Tel Aviv, which argues that the international press has focused on Israel’s use of military force but missed the larger point: Israel hasn’t ‘opened’ a war on two fronts (in Lebanon as well as Gaza); Israel has ‘responded on two fronts’ after months of harassment and hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, the author, conservative US commentator Jeffrey Gedmin, writes…
“The left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung also runs a guest editorial, by the German-born Israeli peace activist and journalist Uri Avnery. It’s a ‘total illusion,’ Avnery writes, to think the Lebanese government would disarm a popular movement like Hezbollah, or that the Lebanese army–full of Shiites sympathetic to the Shiite militants– would fight them. ‘The only solution (for Israel) will be an agreement with the Shiites, and an indirect one with Syria and Iran,’ he argues, warning that Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has started to position himself in the Arab world ‘as a kind of liberator the Palestinians.’ Israel needs to negotiate, Avnery believes…
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung… wonders exactly where the violence will lead. Hezbollah’s rockets are hidden in civilian cellars, and ‘the longer this war of deterrence lasts and the more civilian victims are mourned in Lebanon, the more pictures of destruction will shove the true instigators of this war — Hezbollah — into the background.'”
Anti-Israeli Sentiments Grow
The EUObserver wrote on July 16 that “US foreign affairs chief Condoleezza Rice played down the split between Europe and America on reactions to Israel’s bombing of Lebanon… The US lays blame on Hamas and Hezbollah militants, arguing that Iran and Syria incited and supported the groups in kidnapping Israeli soldiers to halt Lebanon and Palestine’s recent moves toward democracy and peace with Tel Aviv… Mr Bush’s Iraq ally, UK leader Tony Blair, broadly aligned himself with the US after a bilateral meeting on Sunday morning, blaming Iran and Syria for disrupting regional ‘democratisation’ and saying ‘we have got to deal with those underlying conditions.’ But French president Jacques Chirac and Russian leader Vladimir Putin came out on Saturday night with strongly anti-Israeli statements in an international polarisation reminiscent of the divisions around the 2003 Iraq invasion itself.”
The Christian Science Monitor wrote on July 18:
“With Israel’s confrontation with Hizbullah and Lebanon lurching closer to all-out war, winds of anger are blowing through the Middle East that are likely to strengthen the political hand of radical Islamists from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Since the fighting began, at least 24 Israelis, 12 of them civilians, have been killed and at least 175 Lebanese, nearly all civilians. In recent weeks, about 200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in a separate showdown between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group who won power in elections earlier this year. The confrontation–coupled with the rising civilian toll–also poses a serious threat to US interests in the region… Anger at Saudi Arabia’s close relationship with the US, and by association Israel, has long generated support for Al Qaeda among many Saudis… The escalating confrontation between Israel and Lebanon is also helping Syria and Iran gain influence and prestige among Arab populations for their strong support of Hizbullah and Hamas.”
Rift Between EU and USA Over Israel?
On July 19, The Associated Press reported:
“A rift is emerging between the European Union and the United States over whether Israel should cease its offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas.
“The Europeans fear mounting civilian casualties will play into the hands of militants and weaken Lebanon’s democratically elected government. The Bush administration, while noting these concerns, is giving Israel a tacit green light to take the time it needs to neutralize the Shiite militant group.
“The mixed message could help Israel in its mission to destroy Hezbollah’s stronghold in southern Lebanon and stop the guerrillas’ deadly rocket fire on Israel. But Islamic hard-liners and terrorist groups could be long-term winners, using the vivid television imagery of the death and destruction in Lebanon to win popularity and promote their jihads.”
Iran’s Hezbollah Welcomes World War III
Newsmax.com reported on July 18:
“Iran’s Hezbollah, which claims links to the Lebanese group of the same name, said on Tuesday it stood ready to attack Israeli and U.S. interests worldwide. ‘We have 2,000 volunteers who have registered since last year,’ said Iranian Hezbollah’s spokesman Mojtaba Bigdeli… ‘They have been trained and they can become fully armed. We are ready to dispatch them to every corner of the world to jeopardize Israel and America’s interests. We are only waiting for the Supreme Leader’s green light to take action. If America wants to ignite World War Three . . . we welcome it,’ he said… While Iran did fund and support Lebanese Hezbollah during the 1980s, Tehran says it has not contributed troops or weapons in the latest violence. Israel says Iranian armaments have been fired against it.”
Is Lebanon’s Hezbollah Planning Attacks in the USA?
TCV News reported on July 16 that “While many US government officials are deeply concerned over Iran’s nuclear program, according to recent reports, investigations by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department revealed last May that the Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah may be plotting attacks. These attacks may be launched by their sleeper cells in New York and several other US cities… Hezbollah, or God’s Party, grew out of the Lebanese civil war in the early 1980s and quickly became the region’s leading radical Islamic movement. Their primary goal was to drive Israeli and American troops out of Lebanon. For many years, Hezbollah was synonymous with terror, suicide bombings and kidnappings.
“In 1983, militants who went on to join Hezbollah’s ranks carried out a suicide bombing attack that killed 241 US marines in Beirut, which lead to President Ronald Reagan’s withdrawal order for all US military peacekeepers. In May 2000 — due to the success of the party’s military arm — one of its main aims was achieved. Israel’s military was forced to end almost 20 years of occupation in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah now serves as an inspiration to Palestinian factions fighting to liberate more territory. The party has embraced the Palestinian cause and has said publicly that it is ready to open a second front against Israel in support of the intifada.”
“Hezbollah’s political rhetoric’s central theme is the total annihilation of the state of Israel. Its definition of Israeli occupation has also encompassed the idea that the whole of Palestine is occupied Muslim land and it has argued that Israel has no right to exist. Hezbollah’s spiritual head Sheikh Fadlallah is close to Iranian government and is believed responsible for the vitriolic speeches of the Iranian president.
“Hezbollah is funded, armed and trained by the Iranians and given free reign by Syria’s ruling Ba’athist Party. Its international network, according to terrorism analysts, is believed to include at least 15,000 operatives in cells in the US, Canada, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, most of Western Europe, Indonesia, Malaysia, and throughout Africa. Western intelligence sources estimate Hezbollah’s annual budget to be approximately $400 million, including almost $100 million annually from Iran.
“Other sources of funding include Syria, charitable organizations, individual donations, legitimate business, and illegitimate businesses such as illegal arms trading, cigarette smuggling, currency counterfeiting, credit card fraud, theft, operating illegal telephone exchanges, and drug trafficking. Recently two men were convicted of running a criminal operation that helped to fund Hezbollah.”
Slow Evacuations of Americans
USA Today reported on July 18:
“Thousands of Americans remained stranded Monday in Lebanon as the State and Defense departments developed plans to evacuate them. By late Monday, 64 Americans had been flown by Marine helicopter to safety on the island of Cyprus. The pace of the evacuation angered some in the USA with relatives in the country… As Israel and the militant Islamic group Hezbollah trade rocket attacks and airstrikes, European nations with citizens in Lebanon have evacuated more of their citizens more quickly than the United States. For example, about 850 Swedes among about 5,000 in Lebanon have been evacuated, and Sweden also chartered three ships to bring Swedes from Beirut to Cyprus… The State Department rejected a land evacuation through Syria because of safety concerns for Americans in that country…
“The Defense and State departments are developing a plan to evacuate those of the 25,000 Americans in Lebanon who want to leave, said Thomas Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus. A U.S. Embassy statement issued Monday instructed American citizens to be ready to leave immediately. It may be a week or more before the evacuation is fully underway, Miller said. Israeli airstrikes have damaged the international airport, making the sea Americans’ main escape route. The Pentagon has mobilized some ships and troops to aid in the evacuation. The 750-passenger Orient Queen, a Greek cruise ship, has been chartered to ferry evacuees from Beirut to Cyprus.”
As CNN reported on July 18, many Americans begin to compare the slow response of the American government to the crisis in Lebanon with its slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
On July 19, 2006, The Associated Press reported:
“An eight-deck cruise liner [the “Orient Queen”] carrying more than 1,000 Americans sailed out of Beirut’s port Wednesday, the first mass U.S. evacuation from Lebanon since Israeli airstrikes started more than a week ago. The U.S. Marine general coordinating the evacuation says 6,000 Americans will be out of Lebanon by the weekend… Many of those aboard were relieved to depart, after complaints of slow action by the United States compared to European countries that sent cruise ships, ferries and warships over the past three days to move out thousands… The Americans also stepped up evacuations Wednesday by military aircraft from their hilltop embassy, which was expected to stay open. Four Chinook transport helicopters ferried 800 Americans from Beirut to nearby Larnaca airport in Cyprus. The Chinooks can carry twice as many people as the Sea Stallion choppers that have carried evacuees for the past three days… The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it had dropped a plan to make Americans reimburse the government for the transport… An estimated 8,000 of the 25,000 U.S. citizens in Lebanon want to be evacuated. A total of 320 Americans–mostly children, students and the elderly–left Tuesday night by military helicopter and a Norwegian car ferry, which also carried hundreds of Swedes, Norwegians and others… Part of what delayed the Orient Queen was Israel’s blockade of Lebanon’s ports…”
…While Some Other Nations Act More Quickly
AFP reported on July 18:
“World powers have deployed helicopters, warships, chartered ferries and buses to pluck tens of thousands of trapped foreigners from war-torn Lebanon in one of the biggest mass evacuations since World War II. With Beirut’s airport in tatters, foreigners fled by bus to Syria to escape Israeli bombs, missiles and artillery fire, as others were taken away by ship or helicopter to Cyprus. Israel has imposed an air and sea blockade around Lebanon but has said it will co-ordinate with foreign governments to allow their terrified nationals to leave.
“In London, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain now had six ships in the region… The British press has put pressure on Blair, saying Britons in Beirut are impatient with preparations to evacuate up to 12,000 British nationals, 10,000 dual nationals, and Commonwealth citizens… By early Tuesday, a chartered French ferry with about 1,250 people aboard — 800 French nationals, including 300 children, 400 from other European Union member states and 50 Americans — had already docked in Larnaca, Cyprus. The French nationals were to return to France on chartered Air France flights… Larnaca will also be the first port of call for nearly 50,000 Canadian citizens trapped by the fighting; Ottawa has chartered three ships — each capable of carrying 900 people — to help in the evacuation. An Italian vessel — with 186 Italians, 58 Lebanese and 49 Swedes and a new-born baby on board — docked there late Monday…
“Russians fleeing southern Lebanon described a harrowing journey along deserted and bombed roads to Beirut as others returned safely to Moscow from the Palestinian territories… Sweden is chartering a 1,600-passenger Greek vessel. Stockholm’s ambassador to Cyprus Ingemar Lindhal said 750 of its 5,000 passport holders are believed to have already escaped overland through Syria… Some 181 Polish nationals escaped to Syria on six buses which also contained about 30 other people, including Americans, Slovaks and Czechs… Spain said Tuesday that 113 people, most of them Spanish, had been brought home on board an armed forces Boeing 707 from Damascus, where they had arrived by bus… At the same time, German, Swiss and Austrian nationals began arriving back in Europe on chartered planes, many again on flights out of Damascus.”
The Costs of the Iraq War
The Associated Press reported on July 14 about the incredible financial costs of the Iraq war. According to the report, “The war in Iraq has cost almost $300 billion and would total almost a half-trillion dollars even if all U.S. troops were withdrawn by the end of 2009, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Thursday. Congress has approved $432 billion for military operations and other costs related to combating terror since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks… A recent competing analysis by the Congressional Research Service puts the tally for Iraq at $319 billion with the war in Afghanistan costing another $88 billion.”
No Capable Leaders in this World–While the World Is in Chaos?
Britain’s “Daily Mail” wrote on July 17 about the G8 summit meeting in Russia, entitling its article: “The eight most powerful people on the planet…but weak, indecisive and utterly incapable of true world leadership.” The paper continued:
“Rarely can the impotence of what is supposed to be the most powerful group of people in the world have been placed in sharper focus. President Bush is limping to the end of his presidency; President Chirac of France and Japan’s Prime Minister Koizumi are both nearing the end of their own terms; Germany’s Chancellor Merkel, the new girl on the block, is already dragged down by mounting criticism at home; and our own Prime Minister Blair–well, say no more. Yet the G8 could hardly be meeting at a more dangerous juncture in world history, with the conflagration in the Middle East escalating virtually by the hour and the crisis over Iran’s uranium enrichment programme reaching a critical point of decision. If ever the state of the world called for united and decisive leadership, it is now…”
The paper made the following additional comments regarding the present war in the Middle East:
“It is wrong to see what has happened in Lebanon as a local skirmish that somehow got out of control. It is rather an attempt by Iran to gain regional dominance, with untold consequences for all of us if it succeeds. Israel is under ferocious attack by Iran and Syria through their proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas. Hezbollah is a kind of unofficial Iranian army, which continues to receive extensive funding and weapons from Tehran–including the arsenal of more than 13,000 rockets which have been pointed at Israel from their launchers in southern Lebanon for years. It was these missiles which hit Haifa yesterday, killing at least eight Israelis. It has been reported that Iranian Revolutionary Guards worked with Hezbollah in Lebanon on these attacks. And it was almost certainly Iran which instigated them. Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map, as well as posing a mortal threat to the west from his regime’s potential for nuclear terrorism and blackmail. Last Tuesday, Iran dismissed the EU’s attempt to rein in its nuclear programme by saying it was in no hurry to respond…
“True, Israel’s response has been a fierce bombing campaign across Lebanon. It has blown up bridges, roads, Beirut airport and Lebanon’s TV station and many targets which it says were Hezbollah bases. It has choked off Lebanon’s economy, including its growing tourism industry. Tragically, more than 120 Lebanese have been killed so far, including a convoy of fleeing families and a further 23 civilians who died in raids yesterday. This has led to some accusing Israel of a disproportionate response. But in my view this is no more ‘disproportionate’ than, for example, Nato’s bombing of civilian targets in Serbia to force it to withdraw from Kosovo. War is always hell. Innocents always get killed, and where terrorists have deliberately embedded themselves among civilians it is hard to avoid such tragedies.
“It’s important to remember that the reason Iran was able to launch this wave of attacks upon Israel was the world’s abject failure to implement the UN Security Council resolution demanding the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. Despite all their fierce words, both President Bush and Tony Blair are paralysed over Iran and other rogue states because they have been so politically weakened–and militarily stretched–in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even those of us who supported the war in Iraq have been appalled by the way mistakes made since the fall of Baghdad have left the coalition so powerless. It is that perception of chronic U.S. weakness which has so emboldened Iran and Syria, from whom the U.S. has exacted no price for their role in helping foment the war in Iraq.”