Three conflicts, two mind-sets, one solution

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Three conflicts, two mind-sets, one solution

PARIS: Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine

Behind the fighting in Lebanon, as in Palestine and Iraq, there is a fundamental conflict of views. America sees each as a clash between freedom and terrorism, while the Arabs think in terms of freedom versus military occupation and unjust wars. Unless the two opposing approaches are reconciled politically and diplomatically, the Middle East will sink into perpetual war and chaos.

The Bush administration charges Islamist fundamentalists and their sponsors in Tehran and Damascus with spreading an authoritarian ideology of hate against the will of the Arab majority. Washington believes that there is an American-style freedom-lover inside every Muslim, and that its mission is to drag it out by hook or crook. After all, the cause of liberty in America, according to the new Bush doctrine, is dependent on the cause of freedom abroad.

The Arabs, for their part, blame U.S. and Israeli wars and occupations for turning citizens into freedom fighters and providing terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda with fresh recruits and ideological alibis. They hold America and Israel responsible for death, destruction and surging extremism, in pursuit of narrow geopolitical interests rather than of universal values.

These opposing sets of beliefs come with corresponding myths and images. The United States and its allies invoke 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the London Underground attacks and hundreds of terrorist acts in between, while the Arabs underline the invasions and occupations of 1967, 1982 and 2003; the Abu Ghraib, Kheyam and Guantánamo detention centers, as well as hundreds of massacres, from Der Yassin in 1948 to last month's Qana bombing.

Under occupation, frustrated and angry people who see themselves as having nothing to lose turn to acts of terrorism, which in turn are exploited by the occupiers to justify continuing their domination. The fact that violent terrorist acts perpetrated by resisting groups are illegal and criminal should not overshadow their root cause - military occupations that cause mass suffering, humiliation and hatred. Occupation provides a permanent state of provocation.

This link between occupation and terrorism points to the crucial difference between the 9/11 attacks and the Middle East conflicts, which should not be held hostage to Washington's war on terrorism. An overwhelming majority of Arabs do not recognize their religion in the image of Islam projected by Al Qaeda. And in the region there is little identification with the Taliban, except in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

If this fundamental conflict of views continues, so will asymmetrical wars in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq that produce no white flags, only more nationalistic and religious extremism that deepens the fault lines between East and West.

Washington's strategy of "constructive chaos" - which is also Al Qaeda's and Tehran's - needs to be seen against a backdrop of mounting religious fundamentalism. In claiming to answer a higher calling, the likes of President George W. Bush, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran are theologizing what were colonial and imperial conflicts, recasting them in terms of jihad versus crusade.

If the 20th century is any guide, it is evident who will be the eventual loser in these conflagrations. America and its allies might possess far more advanced and destructive firepower, but they are far less committed than their opponents and far more prone to losing momentum.

Highly trained and highly equipped American, Israeli and British soldiers strive to stay alive as they fight low-tech volunteer militants who are more than ready to sacrifice themselves and die as martyrs. As America mourns its deaths, resisting Islamist and secular groups celebrate theirs. Military interventions have generated a huge reservoir of pent-up violence among Arabs, while hardly shaking Palestinian, Iraqi and Lebanese resolve against foreign domination.

In short, time is not on the side of America and its allies. In the Middle East, the continuing hardship of military occupation plays into the hands of religious fundamentalists and discredits moderate democrats.

There is a solution available, however - not divine intervention, but a measure that already exists. The West must apply to the whole region the basic principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for complete withdrawal of foreign troops and the disarming of local groups. That means U.S. and Israeli withdrawal from Iraq and Palestine as well as Lebanese and Syrian lands, as a prelude to disarming of all armed groups and freeing prisoners there.

The only means of halting the cycle of violence and terrorism in the Middle East, and paving the way toward real freedom, is to end military occupation.

08/08/2006, International Herald Tribune

8. Answer the questions:

1. What is the fundamental difference in political views between the USA and such countries as Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine?

2. What is the aim of the USA’s policy towards the Middle East?

3. What does the Bush administration accuse Islamist fundamentalists and their sponsors of?

4. What do the Arabs, for their part, blame US and Israeli military occupations for?

5. What do US and Israeli military occupations in the Middle East trigger?

6. What link does there exist between military interventions and terrorism?

7. Will it heighten further tensions between East and West if this fundamental conflict of views continues?

8. Why does the continuing hardship of military occupation play into the hands of religious fundamentalists?

9. What is the only means of halting violence and terrorism in the Middle East according to the author of the article? Do you share this point of view?


Turn to current press material. Find an article on the topic “Military Activities, Hostilities, Terrorism” in a current Russian newspaper and render it into English using active vocabulary. Prepare questions on the article for discussion.





· The title of the article is

· The article under analysis / consideration / discussion / review is

· The article is entitled


· The author of the article is

· The article is published in

· The article is taken from


· The subject / topic / problem / current issue of the article is

· The problem was caused by / resulted from / was a result of

· The objective / main aim of the author is

· The article deals with / tackles / raises / bears on the problem of

· The article is devoted to

· The article provides ample food for thought for the readers


Main Body

The Author’s Technique


· The author looks at / takes a quick look at / explores / examines the problem of

· The author informs the readers that / describes / characterizes / shows / illustrates / defines / portrays /discusses / demonstrates / introduces / analyses / suggests / recommends

· The author foresees / predicts / claims / contends / admits / asserts / criticizes / acknowledges

· The author brings to light / highlights / stresses / lays stress on / draws the readers’ attention to / points out / puts emphasis on / emphasizes / focuses on / comments on


Developing Arguments

· Sequencing

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