As has been true for, most likely, everyone to date, I have no clear answer. What I do sincerely and rationally believe is that such an answer can only be found if each and every element in this enduring and evolving conflict can find the will and confidence in their own purpose to proceed diplomatically along a path made clear and substantial, using as its fundament, the idea behind the words of a former Federal Reserve Chairman, one William McChesney Martin Jr.
"It is possible to be very good friends so long as each knows where the other stands. As long as the cards are placed on the table face up, disparities in point of view may actually broaden and enrich life. Once one or the other keeps cards under the table, it leads to distrust and inevitably, dislike." For Martin, relations among nations were identical to relations among individuals: without trust, they are doomed to failure*.(all emphases are mine)
Martin was speaking to the issue of Russian Lend-Lease during the waning days of WWII, though he could easily have been referring to any conflict of individuals or nations under any external circumstances what so ever. Couple this sentiment with the Bard's own advice in Hamlet, "to thine own self be true," and expect your adversary to do the same, and you can be sure that the discussion which proceeds will be surely - even if oh so sorely - enlightened.
What are we fighting for in the Mideast? If it's Oil, as most economists maintain, then WE, the West, the United States in particular, have got to step back and acknowledge who the Legal Owners of that natural and UNRENEWABLE resource actually are, and what their goals may be in regards to making such resource available to countries whose cultural and economic needs are vastly dissimilar to their own.
We are NOT qualified to say what is Right for the peoples and nations of the Middle East. We, the peoples and nations of the European settled and dominated West, have NOT the right to determine either policy or priorities for any other civilizations; no matter what the costs of their decisions to our own welfare and advancement. To those costs we must respond, not merely react. We are not gods to determine what is right and wrong for other folks, no matter how empirically beneficent to technological and economic progress our vision of Homo Sapiens' future may be.
Oil wonks like to pony out the adage that Oil Markets are fungible. That is, the oil we buy on the open market may or may not come directly from the source from whom we purchase it, so we really shouldn't care who supplies us, as long as we continue to have access to the the supply our economies demand. That's fine. That's all good.
And if that is the case, then the argument that the United States had to invade Iraq in order to assure a cheap source of Oil does indeed fall as short empirically as does Bush 43's persistent and hubristic profession that we invaded to ensure Democracy and prevent Terrorism in that country.
What do I want? What do you want? How can we both be satisfied if our wants are at odds?
These are the questions which need to be asked moving forward; whether on the stage of global affairs, or within the confines of our own homes. If asked in all honesty, and pursued with an underlying understanding that no one's wants, needs or desires are ever worth the blood of another, then someday, soon by far Far FAR less than geological measures, Peace shall indeed come to the Mideast.
December 7, 2006
65 years after Pearl Harbor
* Chairman of the Fed: William McChesney Martin Jr. and the Creation of the American Financial System, by Robert P. Bremner - 2004, Yale University Press