Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Articles of Interest

An incisive article by former US president Jimmy Carter was published in yesterday's Washington Post. Entitled “Stop the Band-Aid Treatment”, the piece outlines policies that would ensure “real, lasting Middle East Peace”.

Writes Carter: “Tragically, the current conflict is part of the inevitably repetitive cycle of violence that results from the absence of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East, exacerbated by the almost unprecedented six-year absence of any real effort to achieve such a goal.”

“Leaders on both sides”, says Carter, “ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to pre-empt all opportunities for building a political consensus. Traumatized Israelis cling to the false hope that their lives will be made safer by incremental unilateral withdrawals from occupied areas, while Palestinians see their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds surrounded by a provocative ‘security barrier’ that embarrasses Israel's friends and that fails to bring safety or stability.”

As for policies that would ensure “real, lasting” peace, Carter insists that “[t]he general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy and the international ‘road map’ for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored.”

“A major impediment to progress”, says Carter, “is Washington's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject U.S. assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.”

For another insightful article about the current crisis in the Middle East, see Robert Scheer’s article,
Israel’s Dependency on the Drug of Militarism.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:

In Search of a Global Ethic, A Prayer for Compassion, and Taking on Friedman.

Meanwhile, the folks over at the World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) have recently focused on Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Spain.

You may recall that in a previous Wild Reed post, I shared Joseph O’Leary’s contention that while in Spain the pope employed a “gentle diplomacy . . . where he did not once attack gay marriage or criticize the [Socialist] Government.”

WSWS contributor Vicky Short disagrees, arguing that “the Pope and the Catholic Church have in fact begun a political campaign in an alliance with right-wing forces in Europe under the banner of a battle against ‘the dictatorship of relativism’”.

Notes Short: “The media was full of praise for the fact that the Pope did not openly castigate [Spanish Prime Minister] Zapatero from the pulpit. His comments, however, were littered with scarcely veiled criticisms. The task of openly attacking the prime minister by name was assigned to the Vatican spokesman, the Spaniard Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who compared Zapatero unfavourably to ‘dictators’ like Fidel Castro of Cuba, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and General Jaruzelski of Poland, who had attended masses by the late Pope John Paul II when he had visited their countries.”

“The Catholic Church,” says Short, “has once more decided to directly intervene in the politics of Spain in alliance with the [previously ruling right-wing Popular Party] PP. It has called for, and its bishops have taken part in, demonstrations opposing the government’s law on same-sex marriage and the end of teaching of the catechism in schools. It has called on its followers to disobey the laws of the country by extra parliamentary means.”

Short observes that such a stance has historical roots: “The Catholic Church was a close collaborator of the fascist military uprising against the Republican government in 1936, one of whose limited reforms had been to end the link between church and state — although it continued subsidizing it. During General Franco’s 36 years of dictatorship, the Catholic Church was in charge of ideology, vetting and censoring everything and blessing every act of savagery committed by the regime.

“Today, its promotion of cultural issues follows the pattern set by the alliance between fundamentalist Christian groups and the Republican Party in the United States, with the aim of whipping up reactionary sentiment as the basis of a right-wing political movement.”

To read Vicky Short’s article in its entirety, click

See also the previous Wild Reed post Casanova-inspired Reflections on Papal Power – at 30,000 ft.

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