Friday, December 26, 2008

Is Middle East Peace Possible?

The most interesting things on the web today are opinion pieces from Turki al-Faisal, the Crown Prince of the Saudi royal family and  ex-ambassador to the US from 2005 to 2007, and Paul Krugman's article on how Obama needs to have a cleaner government free from corruption and patronage.

Turki al-Faisal's opinion piece in the Washington Post shows how the Saudi Peace Plan of 2002 can be implemented. Shimon Peres of Israel has said that he is willing to have further talks about this any time, any place.

As Thomas Friedman earlier reported: the 22 members of the Arab League, at their summit in Beirut on March 27 and 28, make a simple, clear-cut proposal to Israel to break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse: In return for a total withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967, lines, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the 22 members of the Arab League would offer Israel full diplomatic relations, normalized trade and security guarantees. Full withdrawal, in accord with U.N. Resolution 242, for full peace between Israel and the entire Arab world. Why not?

Barack Obama should jump on this as soon as possible because it's the best bet in a real long time for setting up stability in the region. Of course, its opposed by Iran and its allies, but allies can change.

Here is the link to Paul Krugman's article. The gist of it is: First, the administration of the economic recovery plan has to be squeaky clean. Purely economic considerations might suggest cutting a few corners in the interest of getting stimulus moving quickly, but the politics of the situation dictates great care in how money is spent. And enforcement is crucial: inspectors general have to be strong and independent, and whistle-blowers have to be rewarded, not punished as they were in the Bush years.

Second, the plan has to be really, truly pork-free. Vice President-elect Joseph Biden recently promised that the plan “will not become a Christmas tree”; the new administration needs to deliver on that promise.

Finally, the Obama administration and Democrats in general need to do everything they can to build an F.D.R.-like bond with the public. Never mind Mr. Obama’s current high standing in the polls based on public hopes that he’ll succeed. He needs a solid base of support that will remain even when things aren’t going well.

My other favorite news article is the CIA using gifts like Viagra to tribal elders in Afghanistan in exchange for information. The lesson here is that we are going to have to befriend the tribes there, and money may not be the best way to win hearts and minds. Schools, medical supplies, things that can make the quality of life a little better that the Taliban can't offer, may do more than guns and explosives can. In the case with Viagra, the elder had four wives, and it certainly helped cement relations.

Here in Colorado Springs, I drink a lot of tap water, use it to mix sugar free drinks instead of sodas. We had a report on the amount of drugs that were in the water system. I was wondering if I could ask the city to put in more of my favorite drugs, it could be a win/win solution. It's one way the city can make some money to get out of debt, and it has a happier, if not more sedated populace.

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