This article originally appeared on the Al Jazeeera English website on Dec. 12, 2011. You can view it by clicking here .
Washington, DC – There is a long record of the grim effects of sanctions in international struggles against those states deemed as “rogue”. Sanctions are seen as righteous instruments, a non-violent way to pressure problematic regimes to change. But when you really don’t care about a country or its people, then your true attitudes emerge in the way in which you use the sanctions instrument of policy.
Let’s take Iraq. Based on estimates of the massive increase in child mortality rates through the years of the sanctions in the 1990s, anywhere from 300,000 to a million people lost their lives. But no one in Saddam’s inner circle, none of the wealthy, and none of the killers, died from those sanctions. Such sanctions were touted as an enlightened and …
(A version of this essay was recently published in The Jerusalem Report.)
Across the world in the last 40 years politically organized religious forces have played an increasingly important role in national politics. From India to Indonesia, from Lebanon to Israel, from the United States to Russia, organized religion has increased its impact on politics.
We are also aware of the frightening rise of very violent religion, expressed through terror groups. For this reason, it is easy to misunderstand the relationship between religion on the one hand and between states and ethnic groups and their very secular interests, on the other hand.
Precisely because so many millions of people care about religion, religion has become an essential tool of secular state and ethnic interests. Indeed, what may seem to be a religious issue often turns out to be very secular state interests. Missing this relationship, it becomes easy
There has been a great deal of heightened activity around Israel/Lebanon/Hezbollah. There is a sense of inevitability that Israel will be challenging Hezbollah again, based on evidence of its massive rearmament. Hezbollah keeps gaining politically with every war, Iran and Israel seem to benefit politically by the distraction from concessions the world is demanding from them. Who loses? Civilians. What else is new since World War II? Anyone with any ideas on stopping this cycle of madness? I am fresh out.
Though I long for the success of the brave revolutionaries in Tehran. That would be a game changer for the entire region, for Islam, for the world. Hezbollah would have to grow up and join the Lebanese in a truly agreed upon set of national interests, Israel would be fresh out of excuses, the Saudis would be challenged to reform, and we would have a positive Shi’ite sphere of …
This is something to watch. Ashkenazi believes Hezbollah may be instigating tensions with Israel. But we don’t know who else is operating in Southern Lebanon, including Israel and Al Qaeda. Would it not be terribly convenient if Katyushas fly over and hostilities break out with Lebanon just as Israel is against the wall about a settlement freeze? Lebanon is and always has been the plaything of international forces. Now that it appears that a Syrian/Saudi/American rapprochement is at hand regarding Lebanon this does not mean that others want the situation stable. Even Ashkenazi could be undermined by other forces inside. Mitchell is right and must keep pressing comprehensive peace settlements, and they must nip every attempt to destabilize right in the bud, calling it for what it is, and holding the parties implicated responsible. The intelligence services know, and it is time for the political peacemakers to hold everyone publicly …