. . . Tuesday July 25, 2006

Five Reasons You Should Care About the Middle East

Even with the wall to wall coverage by the news networks, there is likely, among some, a tendency to ignore yet another major flare up in the Middle East. But this time, there are some key factors that have a major impact on the U.S. This is not just another disturbance along the endless road to peace.

Here are five reasons you should be paying attention:

1. The Iran Factor: This is, in many ways, a proxy war being waged by Iran and directed at the U.S. That’s why so many Arab governments are looking the other way. They may be antisemitic, but they don’t want Iran’s version of Islam and politics to dominate the region. Iran’s leadership is thumbing its nose at the U.S. in Lebanon and in Iraq. This isn’t just another chapter in the never-ending quest for peace in the Middle East. When Arab governments are rooting for Israel to succeed, something is different.

2. The Voting Wrongs Act?: Arab leaders in places like Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are major fans of holding onto their own power. The recent elections in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories serve as fuel for the suggestion that democracy can be a real pain, even for Americans. After all, those two elections have brought you Hamas in the territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon. And things aren’t looking terribly positive in Iraq either, where there is chaos in the streets and building support for Hezbollah in parliament. Anyone want to go back to having a few dictators we can work with? That’s the argument.

3. Is the Best Good Enough?: Israel is widely perceived as being the country with the most advanced resources when it comes to fighting terror. The U.S. military and urban police departments regularly look to Israel for leadership in this area. If Israel cannot put a dent in Hezbollah without obliterating Southern Lebabon, it matters right here in the U.S. It really matters.

4. Nuclear Family: Right now, a small but well backed militia group is raining rockets on a major city in a democratic, advanced, free country. Those rockets are supplied by Iran. Think they might be tempted to throw in a couple with nuclear capabilities if that option was available? The threat of nuclear states passing materials to terrorist groups is not some distant theory.

5. Borderline Cases: Under international pressure (and likely some political exhaustion), Israel pulled out of Lebanon several years ago. The reaction? Rockets. Kidnappings. Chaos. It turns out it’s not all that easy to come to a peaceful resolution in this part of the world, especially when terror groups or insurgencies are involved. This is a lesson the U.S. is learning in no uncertain terms right now.

Concentration is important!