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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Take a Close Look at the Middle East

Several weeks ago, I sent an email to a number of friends asking them to comment on six thoughts presented in the email. I have to say up front that the six issues in the email are my personal views. Here they are:

1. The United States cannot abandon Israel.

2. The Afghan war is going nowhere in the long run.

3. The best I can say about Iraq is an email from Bishop Soro (Iraqi Christian) to me a few years ago. A portion follows –- “No one can resolve the problems of Iraq because Iraquis do not know how to practice democracy nor are they ready for it.”

4. Pakistan cannot be trusted and has nuclear weapons.

5. India and Pakistan are constantly at odds and India also has nuclear weapons.

6. Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map and is developing nuclear weapons.

I had no idea how quickly the responses would hit my inbox. By the way, I would welcome your views, also – This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

As for Israel, there were unanimous reactions. One of the reactions stated it best, saying, “We should not abandon the one democracy in the Middle East that shares our principles and values.”

Next, was Afghanistan? The responses, while along the same line, expressed concern about the future in Afghanistan. I share that future concern, particularly since so many in Afghanistan see us as the “great Satan.”

As for Iraq, everyone shared my concern about the future. One response stated, “I still have hope that Iraq will have the fortitude to resist the religious zealots’ takeover of the country and practice some form of democracy.” That is my hope, too, but recent Mosque and Christian Church burnings do not bode well.

Turning next to India and Pakistan, no one had a real answer. One responder stated, “The elimination of nuclear weapons should be a UN priority.” My thought is that it goes beyond weapons. I am concerned about “dirty bombs” made up from nuclear waste being used by terrorists in the United States.

Finally, the response to Iran’s relationship with Israel received the most comments. One responder said, “I’m surprised Israel has not attacked Iran already.” Another responder stated, “If allies cannot be convinced of the need to prevent Iran from going nuclear, it is up to the U.S. and Israel to prevent further development.”

The bottom line, in my opinion, is quite simple. First, there is no way for us to abandon Israel. That has to be a firm position. At the same time, we depend too much on Middle East oil from Iraq and Saudi Arabia. That dependence has to stop sooner than later. While I do not favor totally abandoning the entire Middle East, it seems to me that today, we have too much focus on Iraq and Afghanistan. With a strong Navy and Air Force, we can be a Middle East player, in terms of our support for Israel, without committing troops on the ground.

I recognize that some of these thoughts might be controversial, the issues need further discussion. I hope Republicans can get it right in the House of Representatives. Moving away from our 60 percent dependence on foreign oil should be a top priority.


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