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Let’s bring about world peace while Tom Paulson is gone for two weeks

Damage after the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2008.

Updated with new information at 6 p.m. August 8th, 2011

Since Tom Paulson is going to be away on vacation for a full two weeks, I thought I would tackle some of the major problems we face today, starting with world peace. That way, when Tom returns he’ll have fewer tasks and can focus on other issues like health, justice, science, etc.

Besides, I think the role of wars on the entire humanosphere needs much more examination.

Some of you may think I’m being a little ambitious. Well, maybe so. Just keep in mind that I’m trying to help out Tom. Besides, if we really put in some real effort, world peace shouldn’t be that hard. It’s what we all want. It’s what every world leader calls for. In fact, since President Obama already has won the Nobel Peace Prize, world peace would be a way to live up to the award, right?

And, the United States, even though it couldn’t qualify for a revolving charge card at Sears right now, is still the world’s one-and-only superpower. With that clout, I would think we could bring about world peace. For the sake of expediency, and brevity of this post, I’ll just say that it does seem we are moving in the right direction. The United States has pledged to pull all troops out of Iraq this year, and we could do the same in Afghanistan by next year, surely. (Let me know if you think there is a problem with my expedient/brevity thinking here.)

Damage after the Israeli bombing of Gaza in 2008.

With Iraq and Afghanistan at peace, where then could the United States turn its tremendous peace-making powers next? I think the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems like a good candidate. Leaders of violent opposition groups in the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria to Lebanon have told me that solving this conflict would go a long way in bringing peace to the entire region.

Some people think that gaining recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations will lead to peace. The International Middle East Media Center, developed in collaboration between Palestinian and international journalists to provide independent media coverage of Israel-Palestine, said Monday:

“Palestinian sources reported that President Mahmoud Abbas will be visiting Lebanon in the middle of this month as he accepted an official invitation from the Lebanese president, Michael Suleiman Aoun. Lebanon will be heading the UN security Council in September. The sources added that Abbas will be in Lebanon on August 16th and 17th, and that his visit will focus on the Palestinian UN move this coming September that aims at an international recognition of an independent state in addition to a full membership at the UN and its security council.”

Others, including author Lawrence Davidson, writing in Media with Conscience, a grassroots online news magazine, take the position that only a boycott movement against Israel will help. He says:

“That brings us back to BDS: boycott, divestment and sanctions. The Israeli historian and advocate of Palestinian rights, Ilan Pappe, has pointed out that BDS as part and parcel of an overall ‘civil society struggle in support of Palestinian rights has been successful in key European countries.’ There can be little doubt that public opinion is shifting away from Israel even in the heartland of Zionist influence, the United States. The aim of this movement is to replicate with Israel the process that brought apartheid South Africa to its knees.”

Still others see it very differently.

The New York Times published an unsigned editorial on Sunday criticizing the expected vote on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations in September, saying:

“But the consequences could be profoundly damaging for all involved. If the Palestinians want full U.N. membership, they have to win the backing of the Security Council. The United States will undoubtedly veto any resolution, and that will further isolate both Israel and Washington. The Palestinians may instead ask the General Assembly to recognize them as a state or give them observer status as a state. Either would undoubtedly pass. But it would be in name only. After the initial exhilaration, Palestinians would be even more alienated, while extremists would try to exploit that disaffection.”

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that Israel is prepared to make concessions, but the Palestinians have shown no indication of a willingness on their own for compromise.

Many people see a lack of will on the part of the United States government – from President Obama to members of Congress – as the biggest obstacle to a peace settlement. After all, Israel gets billions of dollars in aid from the United States every year. According to the Congressional Research Service, since 1985, the United States has provided nearly $3 billion in grants annually to Israel, with almost all of that aid to Israel in the form of military assistance. That line of reasoning suggests that just the threat of ending aid might bring Israel to the negotiating table. Does anyone have any thoughts on why that hasn’t happened?

Over the next two weeks, I’d like to explore how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other conflicts around the world impact issues like poverty, health and human rights. Please help me by adding your ideas and suggestions. Just click on the comment button below and have at it.

If, for some reason, we don’t achieve world peace, at least maybe we will have a better understanding of what we’re up against.


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