Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bombs Blowing Up In Our Faces

Kidnapping soldiers to use as pawns in exchange for prisoners certainly is wrong.

Bombing civilian trains or electrical power stations is also very wrong.

Launching rockets at your neighbor is definitely an act of war, but so is bombing civilian airlines in a major city.

International diplomatic efforts are now underway but Israel, Hezbollah and the Palestinians will probably not wait for the statesman to arrive. Each of those parties is unlikely to alter short-term violent behaviors even after the foreign ministers speak their peace. So now we have a new, costly war taking place. Exactly who will pay for this new conflict? What are the potential consequences for the local, national, and international communities?

Locally, Israeli, Lebanese, and Palestinian people should expect explosions without warning, loss of electricity, water, and peace of mind. The citizens of those lands can be certain of more premature deaths in their communities due to the violence and damage to infrastructure.

In the long term some people will benefit from this new war. Health care workers will get more hours at work while taking care of the injured. Undertakers will have more people requesting burial services. Construction workers will get new jobs rebuilding the power plants, buildings, bridges, and airport runways. U.S. military contractors will make money selling Israel more weapons to replace the ones being used right now. Other manufacturers in other countries will be able to sell all kinds of equipment and parts to all parties involved. Some of these sales will even involve materials used to prepare for the next war, sure to follow.

It is possible that nations other than those directly involved will respond with short term or long term actions. Shiite leaders in Iran may decide to interrupt the flow of oil to Europe or Asia. Other nations and groups in the Middle East or even elsewhere may decide Israel's response was too zealous. These nations may take quiet actions which will increase prices and result in hardships for poor people in many places around the world. Ordinary North Korean civilians will surely see smaller portions of rice in their bowls. The global community is woven together tighter than the combatants in any conflict realize.

Right now the United States is defending Shiites in Iraq from a mostly Sunni-led insurgency. But consider this: the Hezbollah in Lebanon are Shiites, and so are the Iranians. The U.S. provides billions of dollars of support to Israel at the same time! Saudi Arabian oil keeps cars and trucks rolling across North America. The Saudis are Sunni Moslems, just like the ones the U.S. is fighting in Iraq. The world is now a complicated place where killing your neighbors can also mean starving your friends or even total strangers thousands of miles away.

There are also wild cards in this deck composed of many suits. One leader in Asia finds it convenient to build nuclear weapons while his people go hungry. Certain global organizations have already made it clear that attacks on civilians in one place will certainly result in attacks on civilians in other locales. The Mumbai train bombings were simultaneous attacks conducted on the 11th day of July. Madrid trains were bombed on March 11, 2004. The World Trade Center and Pentagon were bombed on the 11th of September. They missed the date by one day in the case of the USS Cole attack. This date is chosen deliberately so those in power will understand but so are the tactics.

Sharm el-Sheikh, London, Bali, Dar Es Salaam and Nairobi are all examples of multiple bombs set to go off simultaneously, killing mostly civilians.

All these attacks are related to each other in other significant aspects. A major reason, cited repeatedly by those who claim responsibility, is the involvement of the United States and allies, including England, Australia, India, and Israel, in Arab conflicts. Those who plan the attacks and assist the bombers are surely taking careful note of the new war started in Lebanon and Gaza. In the end it will not matter that Hezbollah or Hamas militants kidnapped one or two soldiers. The driving force for the next unexpected attacks will be the fact that Israel responded by deliberately killing large numbers of Arab civilians. The ongoing US occupation of Iraq, and resulting civilian deaths will also lead certain global organizations to plan future attacks.

The role of religion in most conflicts remains very significant, as it has for thousands of years. Christians killing Muslims killing Jews killing Muslims killing Hindus killing Muslims killing Christians, it all goes round and round in the name of God. Leaders may deny religion is a root cause but someone is plainly not loving thy neighbor in the case of every major conflict. Many religious leaders sure seem to enjoy fanning the flames when war breaks out between people of different faiths.

This vicious cycle will continue until every leader learns that large-scale indiscriminate violence solves no problems. In the meantime everyone in the world, but mostly the poor, will continue to suffer the consequences. All because so much of the wealth of the world is being spent on devices that blow up in our faces.

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