Hoping That Arab Governments Are Blamed

On Wednesday I wrote “Hoping Hamas is Blamed.” It’s pretty obvious now, just as it was then, that Hamas isn’t going to be blamed and Israel’s plan will not succeed. Luckily, a new possible scapegoat has joined the herd – other Arab governments.

The predicament
Egypt’s been left with quite a problem; Hamas will not allow the Egyptian government to shutdown the border peacefully. That leaves them with essentially two options.

Option number one of the Egyptians is to shut their border with Gaza down by force. The problem with this, in their view, is that it (a) possibly destabilizes the region (b) infuriates relatives of Palestinians in Egypt.

Option number two is allowing continued free passage between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. This would upset Israel and the U.S. As well, it could draw the ire of many Egyptians if Gazans become perceived as unwelcome guests.

A new scapegoat

Unless Gazans point their fingers at Hamas in retaliation for their poor situation, there is another group they blame: the Arab League.

The Arab League held an emergency meeting yesterday to try to solve the current crisis. If the group of states publicly pushes for a closing, there is a chance (albeit a small one) that the League will be blamed.

It’s unlikely
Don’t get your hopes up. Going on current sentiment towards the West in the region, and looking at past experiences, it is almost certain Israel and the U.S. will take most of the Gazans anger.

Moving forward

And more anger is not what we need. Anger will only sponsor more terror, not help fight it. We need to come up with a plan that will get the support of the Palestinian people. Only then will Hamas lose popular mandate, and will a solution be found.

Romano Who?

BBC: Italian PM Romano Prodi Resigns

It’s too bad that nobody cares.

Italy has lost all of its geopolitical influence to corruption and organized crime. It withdrew its soldiers from Afghanistan in 2006; it’s not involved in Iraq.

Hoping That Hamas Is Blamed

Reuters: Palestinians blow up border wall, flood into Egypt

Well, it had to happen sometimes. And its too late to change course.

Israel’s strategy
Israel has been attempting to isolate Hamas and make their government in Gaza look like a failure. Israel, the U.S., and other western powers have been bolstering Mahmoud Abbas’s (semi-)democratic government in the West Bank to solidify this image.

The mistake of the strategy – or not?
Israel has been making life in Gaza miserable for Gazans, and life will only become exponentially worse in the following weeks and months.

By increasing poverty, unemployment, and general dissatisfaction in Gaza, the West is creating the perfect situation for terrorism to grow. Terrorism is like a disease: it grows on dissatisfaction. Israel and the United States will be blamed for the bad conditions.

Unless, of course Israel and the West aren’t blamed, and instead, the Hamas government is. That is the Ehud Olmert’s hope, at least.

It’s too late now
This blockade and isolation has been going on for months, and it is too late for a quick reversal. The only thing we can hope is that Prime Minister Olmert is right, and the Hamas government is blamed instead of the West, because truly, in reality, it is Hamas’s fault.

Does the U.S. Have a Moral Obligation in Iraq?

Let's pretend the U.S. pulled out of Iraq in the coming months because the President had a huge change of heart. 90% of our troops are gone, by, let's say July 2009.

What happens then?

Let's say, for the sake of discussion, all out civil war breaks out in Iraq, but is limited to that country.

Hundreds and thousands of Iraqis are dying every day, every week, every month. Does the U.S. have a moral obligation to step in and try to resolve the fighting?

Or instead, do we sit back and watch, and wait for the rest of the region to potentially join in?

What do New Iranian Sanctions Mean?

BBC: Iran sanctions accord 'imminent'

These would be the first sanctions after the last National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran’s nuclear activities, and the first after the infamous Strait of Hormuz incident.

The chance of sanctions be successfully applied will depend on China and Russia’s willingness to press Iran further after the NIE.

U.S. intentions
These sanctions are intended to pressure Iran to answer vital questions about its nuclear program. Iran has promised to do this, but one can expect the usual responses.

Iranian response

Will this provoke Iran or will this further compel the Islamic state to give up its program? If sanctions are passed, this will most definitely pressure Iran by showing the world’s unity against its nuclear program, especially understanding that the sanctions would come after the NIE.

Effect on Iranian elections
Legislative elections are coming in March. Will this have an effect? I don’t know enough about Iranian politics to make a very well informed prediction.

Being Proactive in Pakistan - A Plan for Pakistan

Our troops are sitting on the Afghan-Pakistan border, staring across from the Afghan side. They can practically see Taliban strongholds. Why don’t they attack?

That was my opinion only yesterday. The only other option, as I saw it, was to sit back and watch.

Sitting back and watching isn't the only option other than attacking: we can be proactive. We can build alliances with tribal leaders, help the average Pakistani, promote democracy, etc.

Going into Pakistan and targeting high value targets might seem smart in the short run, but in the long run, the consequences would be disastrous. Number one, we might not even get the target; number two, we would enrage local leaders, who would distrust us for years to come; and three, we would create new terrorists by giving current terrorists easy propaganda.

On the other hand, we could make alliances with local leaders, promote democracy, or in other words, gain the support of the Pakistani people. With the Pakistani people supporting us, support for the terrorists would ebb. Over many years, we could successfully defeat the terrorists ideologically – and that is the true goal.

"Patience is a virtue". Though this could take years, in the long run, it will be worth. Politicians in the U.S. must look past their careers and do what is best for the U.S., for Pakistan, and for the region as a whole.

A 'Mini-Surge' in Afghanistan

U.S. sending 3,200 Marines to Afghanistan

This is very smart move by the U.S. government – though there are some complications.

A brief background
Afghanistan has been off the radar here in the U.S.; nearly all policy discussions have been over Iraq. That is, until recently, when the possibility of this ‘Afghanistan surge’ came up.

Afghanistan has needed the equivalent of a small surge for a while; growing drug problems (no pun intended), a Taliban comeback in the south, and a destabilized Pakistan to the east have all complicated NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.

Even still, NATO allies have been reluctant to send more troops, even after repeated requests by the U.S.

A good idea
Not only does this ‘mini surge’ have the potential to solve many stability issues in Afghanistan, it also could encourage other countries to send more troops to Afghanistan. Or, in the case of Canada, influence their decision of whether or not to pull out all of their troops.

But back to the surge’s potential: Afghanistan has different problems, though similar, than Iraq. This is what makes the surge different in Afghanistan than the Iraqi surge. This ‘mini-surge’ will help solve some of these Afghani problems. For example, the Taliban is expected to launch another spring offensive in a couple of months. The extra troops will get there just in time to help combat this offensive.

Military stretched thin
The biggest issue most have with sending more troops to Afghanistan is the same many had with sending more to Iraq: our military is stretched. Its resources depleted, its manpower tired and overused, it will take some time for the military to fix itself up after these wars.

Luckily, the military made a smart decision (Robert Gates not looking so bad after all, eh?). A force of 3,200 Marines isn’t too many to stretch the military, but it’s just enough to make a difference.