Israel and Hamas
I'd like to respond to Randy Haspel's article alleging "a Bush-like incursion" (Viewpoint, January 8th issue), wherein he likens the Israeli invasion of Gaza to the Bush/Rumsfeld attack on Iraq for its lack of humanity. Haspel is one of those liberal Americans who subscribes to the belief that if one criticizes one's country's political policies, including the waging of war, one is somehow absolved of responsibility.
The fact is, if you vote and pay taxes, if you hold an American passport or Social Security number, you are entirely responsible for the actions of your political representatives. Bush's war is Haspel's war, as it is mine and every American citizen's. Americans don't like this reasoning; they feel coerced into taking responsibility for actions they did not choose. This is a fallacy of the philosophy called "American individualism," a failure of American economic politics, and one of the reasons America's humanity will not likely improve in the near future.
When Hamas won election in 2006, its leaders accepted a two-state solution based on the pre-war 1967 borders, but Israel rejected this outright. History shows that Israel will not accept any sovereign Palestinian state, no matter how much the Palestinian leadership concedes to Israel. Any Palestinian leadership is unacceptable to the Israelis, so Hamas is not the issue.
Israel should abide by international law and accept the two-state solution and abandon its exclusive ideology and militarism. Unfortunately, history also shows that this will not happen as long as the United States continues to provide military and political support to Israel. And by refusing to censure Israel for not following the United Nations' call for a ceasefire, President-elect Obama shows that there are some things that aren't going to change, no matter what we believe in.
The wonderful thing about a viewpoint is that it needs no grounding in fact, and Randy Haspel's weak comparison of Israeli politicians to Bush and Rumsfeld proves the point. It is unfortunate for readers that he knows so little about the war in Gaza or Israeli politics.
Haspel seems to think the Gaza assault was initiated by Ehud Olmert, but any reading of Israeli political commentators and newspapers would indicate it was the decision of Ehud Barak, the dovish defense minister, and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister.
Haspel refers to the "disastrous" Lebanon invasion, which may be his opinion, but the results are that Hezbollah no longer fires rockets at Israeli cities, no longer tries to kidnap Israeli soldiers, and is staying out of the Gaza war. The Israeli public is disappointed that Olmert was incompetent in his planning and execution of a complete strategy but not that he took action against violence to defend their citizens.
Barak and Livini learned from Olmert's Lebanon mistakes, just as U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates has learned from Rumsfeld's stupidity, and that is why the Gaza war was not half-planned and is not going to be half-finished. Neither the Lebanon war nor the Gaza war are the result of short-sighted politicians as Iraq is, but rather leadership who recognized that their citizens could absorb only so much abuse without a response.
I am still trying to assess if the article "Downtown Downturn" (Jan. 15th issue) is parody or simply swill. After presenting Jeff Sanford's bird's-eye glimpse of some of the great things happening downtown, the reporter then consulted well-known world economist Paul Ryburn for his expert view. Downturn, what downturn?
The downtown precinct reportedly has the lowest crime rate of any in Shelby County. Bass Pro will soon fire the Pyramid back up. The U of M Law School is coming. The new R&D and medical openings at St. Jude, Le Bonheur, and UT will bring even more new residents to downtown. Beale Street is doing well, and so are our magnificent downtown events. Traffic will soon return to Main Street, and even Prince Mongo's long-vacant property is well on the way to new use.
The "economic crisis" will not affect the demographics of downtown to any measurable degree. It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to recognize that a bad economy drops real estate prices equally across the board. Very few advance their living conditions during tough times.