Maybe it’s the mounting toll of death and the waste of treasury, but lately I’ve been thinking about the seemingly intractable situation in the Middle East, its causes, and if there’s any hope for a resolution. The cost in capital is enormous and the human cost immeasurable. It’s tragic, but we’ll never know if a child killed by a suicide bomber or a B-1 Bomber would have grown to cure cancer or evolve fusion beyond the experimental.

The tax dollars of you, me and our grandchildren is at $357,000,000,000 and climbing. Many US corporations and their investors benefit from this spending, but just think of how that capital could have been invested instead of being literally vaporized… One estimate suggests we could have provided over 17 million students four-year scholarships at public universities. How about alternative energy? It’s estimated only around $25B a year is invested worldwide in renewable energy capacity and research. What technological miracle might we have produced for $357B? It’s beyond me to speculate, but it sure would buy a lot of solar panels and at $1.5B to $2B a pop, it would build about 200 new nuclear power plants.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but we’re in Iraq to fight terrorism? I don’t recall there being any terrorism in Iraq before we got there. Oh, Saddam… that’s right, we needed to remove that ruthless dictator and free the Iraqi people so they could enjoy democracy and Wal-Mart. Didn’t we support Saddam and Iraq in their war against Iran in the 80’s? Oh, he killed his own people. Um, don’t the Saudi’s do that? How’s their record on civil rights? I’m confused. Oh, the oil thing… Nevermind.

Now I’m not a fan of Rosie O’Donnell by any stretch. I thought she was pretty good in “Harriet the Spy” and “A League of Their Own,” but in general I just find her loud and obnoxious. Aside from her current kindergarten spat with “The Combover,” she’s been ripped recently by the boys on FoxNews for saying, “…radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America.” On this point, we agree. As I’ve written before, manipulating red-state Christian fundamentalists with anti-gay and anti-abortion themes helped put Mr. Bush in the White House with a Republican congressional majority and here we are. 2,973 mostly civilians died on 9/11 at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists and over 50,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the war since our arrival, and neither of these losses are justified. In my opinion, flying a plane full of civilians into a building full of same and raining 500lb bombs on a Baghdad neighborhood full of civilians to kill the Hussein brothers have one thing in common: they evoked terror on innocents.

Now the drums are faintly beating again and the winds of war are blowing toward Tehran. Why? Well, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been an outspoken critic of Israel, even allegedly claiming that the Holocaust is a myth. Crazy, yeah, but I think he’s crazy like a fox and is playing domestic politics to appease an Islamic fundamentalist population. He also insists Iran has a right to develop nuclear technology, and that has Israel understandably concerned. Which brings us to the Jewish state.

I find it curious that in 2007, there are still many countries with an adherence to a specific religion, mostly Islam and Buddhism. It may come as a surprise to many that Israel is primarily a secular nation, and by law every citizen has full and equal civil rights, regardless of their religion. In practice however, some in the large Israeli Arab/Muslim community may dispute that. But that’s no different than the racial profiling that has gone on here since 9/11; the primary responsibility of government is the safety of its citizens and Israel is the best there is at it in spite of constant threat.

Isn’t it time to get the parties back to the table and find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Before I began researching this, I thought that turning Jerusalem into neutral land, like that of the UN in Manhattan that is “international territory” might be viable. The UN website describes their NY site thusly, “The land does not belong to just one country, but to all countries that have joined the Organization.” In fact, such a proposed solution was passed on November 29, 1947 as United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181. It deemed Jerusalem a “corpus separatum” or international city, to be administered by the UN. I think a better solution would be co-administration by a Palestinian-Israeli governing body with a commitment to “freedom of worship for all.” Unfortunately the resolution was only accepted by the Jews, and was rejected by the Arabs in Palestine. The bloodshed has continued nearly unabated since then.

I’m not optimistic, but wouldn’t three hundred and fifty seven billion have gone a long way toward getting these people in a room to find peace?

by John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one