Despite the fragile ceasefire in Lebanon, the risks of a widening war in the Middle East remain. Too many political leaders, including President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the leaders of radical groups in the Middle East, prefer military solutions to peaceful compromise.
When Bush paints the Middle East as a struggle of good versus evil, or terror versus freedom, he abandons politics. When Israel attempts vainly to defeat Hezbollah, it tries to avoid painful but necessary political compromises over disputed territory.
The problems of the Middle East are much more about politics and culture than about terror versus freedom. Part of the problem is Israel’s continuing occupation of the West Bank as well as a piece of southern Lebanon. Until Israel agrees to return to the 1967 borders with minor modifications, and to end its political control over millions of West Bank Arabs, unrest will continue.
Another part of the problem is the brazen manipulation of the Persian Gulf region by the UK and US to ensure their oil security. There can be little doubt that the current war in Iraq is fundamentally about oil. For nearly 100 years, first the British empire and then the US manipulated Middle Eastern governments, launched coups, bought puppet regimes, and supported wars, with the main purpose of controlling the region’s oil flows.