Originally published April 2, 2002
The genie is out of the bottle, and he’s not here to conjure up a Mercedes. President Bush unleashed it when he declared a worldwide war on terrorism, and Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon popped out of the bottle, sensing an opportunity to rid himself of an old enemy: Yaser Arafat and the PLO. This genie isn’t going back into the bottle again either; a war has started that will likely involve most of the rest of the world by the end. You could call it World War III. And this is how it started.
You might be thinking, what started? There’s no war in Israel, no Armageddon, just the same old conflict. Not this time. Now that Sharon has declared Arafat a terrorist and the Bush Administration tacitly agreed, a larger war will result. Why? Because the rest of the Middle East isn’t going to just sit by and watch the carnage in Palestine forever. Their grudges against Israel and the West go way back, and every day new ones pile up. In the long run, using the sword instead of the olive branch will only result in more war. And now Sharon finally has what he has wanted: license to kill….
Palestinians are resorting to terrorism because they have no other way to fight. They are David versus Goliath, so they blow themselves up to express their rage, to strike back any way they can. It’s a culture ready to explode. Arafat can’t stop that: most of his security buildings are decimated and his forces scattered, so it’s just plain stupid to expect him to be able to stop the attacks, stupid to think that he’d even want to risk his neck trying. Arafat can’t arrange even a cease fire, let alone make any larger peace. Every time he tries someone walks into a crowded place and goes boom. (Wait until that crowded place is in New York or Atlanta or LA). Yet the Bush administration says it can’t do anything to help until the terrorism stops, which isn’t going to happen, so here we have vicious circle.
The Bush administration has hemmed itself in diplomatically with its fiery rhetoric and division of the world into “Us” versus “Them,” so they are virtually powerless to stop Israel anyway. Plus they have an eye on 2004 and the Jewish vote, and they know Sharon’s policies are popular among many Jews in the U.S. and in Israel. They aren’t going to really step in until half the armies of the Middle East are on Israel’s doorstep and they absolutely have to do something. By then it will be too late.
Bush has given Sharon carte blanche to settle old scores because Bush has a few of his own to settle. First he beat Clinton’s protege Al Gore to avenge dad, now he’s cleaning up dad’s other big mistake: leaving Afghanistan to the wolves after the Russians pulled out in 1989. He has an eye on Iraq and Saddam Hussein, dad’s old nemesis and other BIG mistake, and soon bombs will be raining on Baghdad. He lumps in Iran and North Korea — the axis of EVIL — to settle those scores while he’s at it. And finally he’ll probably go after Satan to settle that score too. It’s an old pattern with Bush, who plays the role of enforcer and vindicator in his family, and is doing the same as president.
The bottle has released its genie, and it’s not going grant any wishes, except those of revenge.