Whither the Middle East?
The LA Times reports 16 dead in one day from internecine fighting in the Gaza strip. Meanwhile, CNN reports a one ton truck bomb in a Baghdad market has killed 120 people in a mixed neighborhood of Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds. Is it possible that much of the violence in the Middle East is really a result of politics by terrorism, which has gained currency and even glamor in Western circles since the French were driven from Algeria? One of the forgotten (and when remembered, reviled) premises of Operation Iraqi Freedom was the idea that the world would never be safe for as long as religion and politics by terrorism was not replaced by democracy and civil society. It may be still be pertinent to ask whether:
- anyone can ever be safe for as long as the region remains in its present turbulent condition with Iran and possibly the Sunni nations pursuing its nuclear weapons programs.
- the world can rely upon the region for its energy needs;
- the answer to fixing problems in the Middle East lies in "engagement" with the governments in the region, including the Palestinian Authority;
- there is any prospect to encouraging civil society through the use of direct intervention or force.