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The myth of peace in the Middle East

As the Obama administration rushes toward a deal that would eventually give Iran the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, the situation in the Middle East is more fractious than ever ‘“ and that’s saying something. All my life, I have heard reports of various presidents, kings, ayatolloahs and whatever getting together to bring peace to the region but peace has never been achieved. Tribal warfare has been a part of life there since Biblical times and it is unrealistic to think it will ever change. For years, the United States propped up strongmen in various countries who kept the peace by ruthlessness. That sounds bad but it is apparently the only system that works. Iran last knew a semblance of peace and world acceptance under the Shah system which we propped up. Now Iran’s president is dancing in the streets chanting ‘˜Death to America’ as his negotiators take John Kerry to the woodshed in the nuclear negotiations. The Shiite and the Sunni Muslims have never gotten along and will never get along. That is a simple fact that America and our foreign policy ‘˜experts’ have overlooked. There is no real strongman in the mideast now and that has given rise to ISIS and an intense hatred of the U.S. in the region. Still, we pour money into the sandbox while we cannot or will not balance a budget in our own country. Though I did not look too hard, finding actual dollar amounts for foreign aid seems to be difficult. There are solid numbers for FY 2012 and estimates for 2014 that are readily available. Last year, we sent a whopping $6.725 billion to Afghanistan, $1.3 billion to Iraq and $148.8 million to Iran where they want us dead. Jordan, which is an ally thus far, got $1.416 billion. Yemen, where the feces are about to hit the fan in a big way, got $709.3 million. Look for that figure to go up. Syria, where allegiances to the U.S. break down solely along tribal lines, got $1.672 billion. Palestine got just over $2 billion as did our friends in Pakistan who let Osama hide out right under their noses for nearly a decade. Libya, another scene of utter chaos, got $87 million, down from $642 million in 2012, while Lebanon got $710 million. Of course, Israel gets much, much more. As our only true friend in the region, we pay for much of their defense budget and God only knows what all else. Suffice to say, we have spent trillions there since the formation of the country in 1948. You can argue with these figures. There are dozens of different versions out there. Some include military aid. Some do not. The numbers I use here are probably on the low side. One figure out there claims we spent over $12 billion in military aid for Afghanistan in 2012. Most of the weapons bought with those monies are now in the hands of ISIS. We have plenty of our own oil and gas. Perhaps, we should access it, continue to bolster Israel and keep all the rest of these foreign aid dollars right here at home. A policy of letting the Muslims fight it out and entering into negotiations with whomever emerges as the winner seems like a pretty good idea at present. Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of The Herald Gazette.

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