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April 12, 2002

A Solution for the Middle East


by Harry Browne

George Bush wants Ariel Sharon to stop doing what George Bush has been doing for the past six months using force to crush his enemies. Doesn't Bush realize that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?

His petulance at Sharon for not following Bush's orders indicates that Mr. Bush now believes he's President of the World and everyone is expected to obey his commands.

He does have good reason to be surprised at Sharon's disobedience, however. After all, your tax money has successfully bribed the leaders of Pakistan, the Philippines, and other countries into changing their policies. Why hasn't it bought Israel's obedience as well?

What America Should Do

Does America have a duty to help Israel?

Of course not. Our Constitution authorizes our government only to defend America not the rest of the world or any part of it.

But if America is determined to help Israel, the first step should be to stop arming Israel's enemies. Your money has gone to the dictators of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, and other Arab countries. Should we be surprised that some of that money was used to buy military power to attack Israel? Should we be surprised that some of the money is funding Yasser Arafat?

After making Israel's enemies so powerful, our leaders have the perfect excuse to run to Israel's aid.

But this is nothing new. The same routine is used by our government at home causing problems and then running to the rescue in education, health care, charity, farming, business, and most other areas of society. Government is good at one thing: it knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, "See, if it weren't for the government, you wouldn't be able to walk."

The Great Mediator

Now Colin Powell is supposed to negotiate a Middle-East peace in the great tradition of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, who brought peace to the Middle East so many times.

Tell me something: If you and I had a business relationship and disagreed about the meaning of our contract, would you want Colin Powell, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, or even George Bush to mediate the dispute?

I doubt it. We'd look for someone who's a professional mediator someone with a record of helping people arrive at lasting settlements. Why would anyone want George Bush or Colin Powell to mediate?

The answer is simple: Make an agreement dictated by the U.S. government and you get a big hunk of money from the U.S. taxpayers. You don't have to abide by the agreement; just pose for a photo-op with Colin Powell or George Bush and the money is yours.

In most mediations, the parties involved pay the mediator. Only with American foreign policy does the mediator pay the parties.

Solution

The Middle Eastern crisis was born in turmoil at the end of World War II, as the Great Powers imposed by force a "solution" that told people where they should live. Such a situation is bound to remain a setting for violence and hatred for resentments that will last hundreds of years. How could we expect it to be otherwise?

And yet, there actually is a solution possible one that would allow Israelis and Palestinians access to their holy sites, one that would end disputes over territory, one that would permit all sides to live in peace without fear of each other.

The answer is to create a new nation in the area now comprising Israel and west Jordan. Name it anything you want.

But make sure that its government is Constitutionally limited to little more than the defense of the nation. Allow people to buy any property that's for sale. Allow people the freedom to worship in whatever way they want. Make sure the holy sites are operated by churches, rather than government agencies, so they're open to everyone.

In other words, make sure that no group can impose its way by force on any other group. No one living in such a country would be deprived of anything he's willing to earn, and no one would have anything to fear from others.

Is such a solution too idealistic? Well, it worked for nearly a century in America. Too bad our ancestors discarded it. If they hadn't, it might be more obvious to people in the Middle East that this is the solution they need.

Unfortunately, there's no chance that anyone with any authority Israeli, Palestinian, or American would agree to this solution. It takes all the power away from the leaders.

And since our politicians have no regard for constitutional limits, we can't expect them to suggest such a solution to others.

So we can expect the following headline on a newspaper in the year 2032:

"Middle East Violence Continues"

 

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Harry Browne is a best-selling author and two-time Libertarian Party nominee for president.

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