war government

policy middle east

Policy is also an Instrument of War

Fred Foldvary
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor

The U.S. military is now in battle with the terrorist forces in Afghanistan. It is good that the U.S. is also dropping and trucking in food to the hungry Afghans. It would be even better, as I wrote previously, if the food were accompanied with truthful propaganda messages.

The most potent instrument of this war now is policy, not bombs and troops. U.S. foreign policy needs to change to what is more effective and more in tune with the American creed of liberty. The killing and deprivation of innocents should cease. Here is the policy I believe would be most effective:

    1. End the embargo on trade in civilian goods with Iraq. While the regime there bears the most responsibility for the distress of its population, the embargo contributes to the problem both by eliminating needed goods and by providing a great propaganda excuse for the Iraqi government.

    2. Get U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims are opposed to the U.S. military base. Kuwait can be protected by other ways.

    3. Apologize to the people of Iran for having supported the Shah. This support does not excuse their having kidnapped Americans and holding them hostage, but it was a cold-war policy that led to making the U.S. an enemy in the minds of many in Iran. End the embargo of goods with Iran.

    4. Replace U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf with an international force that includes African and Asian countries. Let Europe pay to protect its oil source. The oil does not "belong" to America or Europe anyway.

    5. Most of all, we must solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict now. The U.S. needs to take the initiative and propose a peace plan. It would be a confederation of two states, Israel and Palestine. Nobody should have to move. The entire West Bank (Judea and Samaria) could be assigned to the Palestinian state, with Israel having a permanent leasehold on its settlements, paying rent to Palestine, along with military defenses. Likewise, Arabs in Israel could become citizens of Palestine, and establish Palestinian leaseholds. It would be equal and symmetric. Pay rent for the use of land, rather than fighting over it.

Jerusalem should be put under the confederation. It would stay a united city, neither Israeli nor Palestinian, but confederate territory with joint sovereignty. Let Palestine have its capital in Jerusalem. All residents of Jerusalem would pay rent for land they occupy, the rent going to the Confederation.

The plan should be put to a vote of all Israelis and Palestinians. If the governments refuse to put the plan to a vote, the U.S. should withdraw its support for that side. We have had enough fighting. Adopt the plan, or the U.S. will not be a partner.

The U.S. should encourage a global conference on Islamic policy. There needs to be a consensus on what Islam prescribes regarding suicide bombers, terrorism, and war. If there is wide agreement that terrorism against innocents is wrong, and will not reward anyone in the next world, then just maybe much of the religious fervor will be deflated from terrorist attacks.

The government of Israel, on behalf of its citizens, should apologize to the Palestinian Arabs for their suffering, while at the same time, emphasizing that this in no way excuses or condones terror against Israelis. Israel can truly repent by changing its policy, as it has discriminated badly against its own Arab citizens also. The Palestinians should also apologize to the Israelis and recognize that their violence has not done them any good.

Violence comes from anger and hatred, and anger comes from resentment, which comes from feeling attacked, humiliated, and damaged. It is not enough to have a cease fire or even an agreement over disputes. Repentance and atonement is needed to heal the wounds. If both sides are truly sorry, and show it by providing justice, then the healing and social peace can come.

This may all sound utopian, but it shows the direction we need to travel towards. War may be necessary in defense, but this is not about good and evil, but also about evil done in the name of good. It is about unintended evil consequences of good intentions.

However justified are military strikes, a much more potent weapon is needed. This is a battle of psychology more than of hardware. We all need to recognize error, repent for having hurt others, and change our ways. Nothing else will bring lasting social peace.

-- Fred Foldvary      

Copyright 2001 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.

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