Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Realities of Iraq may benefit Palestinians March 16, 2005

Realities of Iraq consequences may benefit Palestinians
March 16, 2005
By Ray Hanania
It was easy for Americans to pat themselves on the back and "claim" victory after soldiers tugging ropes from behind-the-scenes pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq’s capitol Baghdad watched by a small group of Iraqis an documented by embedded pro-American media.
Saddam Hussein’s forces and government collapsed within days of the March 19 (EST) the assault by an army consisting almost entirely of American forces and a small percentage of a handful of other nations.
American soldiers killed his two sons and grandson in an assault hailed by Americans but criticized by others as murder. Saddam himself was found hiding in a small trench-pit and captured, being held for what foes describe as a Nuremberg-like trial.
American soldiers had easily occupied all of the major Iraqi cities and installed a new government. Elections were held.
President Bush, forced to run for re-election on his Iraq policy, easily won and he has started talking about possible new wars against the other "Axis of Evil" nations he defined as Syria and Iran in his State of the Union Address only a few weeks after Sept. 11.
Yet, three years later, why aren’t Americans still smiling today? And why do many Palestinians see a potential silver lining in political skies that have remained gray and overcast since before Sept. 11?
Most Americans have come to realize that Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaeda, the Islamic group led by Osama Bin Laden that perpetrated the Sept. 11 terrorism.
Today, though, they now know that the consequences of Iraq have created new opportunities for al-Qaeda to recruit and target Americans.
In fact, since the war began, more than 1,500 American soldiers have died and as many as 10,000 American soldiers whose conditions are not reported on have returned home seriously disabled and
According to Iraq Body, more than 16,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed making Abu Gharib look like the tip of an iceberg of American brutality, hypocrisy and torture.
But that is only the human toll that touches most Americans only peripherally. The war has cast a pall over the entire nation economically and socially.
The United States National Debt, which seemed under control and about to be erased, has returned in huge numbers that some believe easily exceeds $7 trillion dollars.
Oil prices remained stable until after the election. But driven by uncertainty in the Middle East, the prices are beginning to climb significantly, faster than increases in Europe. Even the American dollar is faltering against the Euro.
Although there is an effort to convince Americans that their Democracy is spreading in the Middle East thanks to the Iraq war, new policies toward Iran and Syria, and pressures on Arab governments traditionally friendly to the United States, the process is slow, uneasy and unsure.
Criticism of the war that once cost people their jobs, careers and public support has now resurfaced after three years of incubation.
For example, the popular TV program "Politically Incorrect" was cancelled in the Spring of 2002 after host Bill Maher told Americans, "We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building -- say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."
Today, Maher has returned to late night television and his criticism of Iraq and President Bush lead his nightly rants.
More and more, Americans are starting to questions the truth of the Iraq war and America’s Middle East policies.
The circle of events have led many Arab Americans to find hope. Although Arab Americans were among those protesting against the war in Iraq, and leading the list of those being arrested in the so-called anti-Terrorism sweeps across the country, they are recognizing that the new American realities might push many to reassess their accepted beliefs.
Hamas maybe a terrorist organization according to the United States government, but it has nothing to do with al-Qaeda.
Stepping up Middle East peace may mean finally focussing on the Palestine-Israel question. In Democrat elections, Palestinians have solidly chosen a successor to Yasser Arafat and that has prompted Americans to support reinvesting funds and moderating their sometimes unquestioned and unjustified support of Israel as the occupier and aggressor.
It is very possible as things don’t go as planned for Bush in Iraq, and as oil prices continue to rise, that he will continue to invest more and more of his "election victory capital" on pushing Israel to withdraw from settlements, ease the Palestinian occupation and reinvigorate the peace negotiations.
Not that anyone really expects peace talks with a still reticent Israel to lead anywhere, but for a while, it might create a welcome impasse for Palestinians who probably have suffered more as a result of the post-Sept. 11 American policies than anyone else.

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