Is War The Only Choice?

By Ghassan Karam It has been almost a century of tension conflict war death and destruction in the Middle East. The conflict that has preoccupied the UN world leaders, Arab regimes and Zionists

By Ghassan KaramAn Israeli tank maneuvers near the site of an exchange of fire between Israeli and Lebanese troops along the border between Israel and Lebanon, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2010.

It has been almost a century of tension conflict war death and destruction in the Middle East. The conflict that has preoccupied the UN world leaders, Arab regimes and Zionists appears as far from a comprehensive resolution as it ever was. That is unacceptable since the killing; destruction misery and mayhem must stop. This single conflict has resulted so far in the wars of 1948, 1958, 1967, 1973, 1982, 2006, 2008 in addition to the two Intifadas, Black September in Jordan, Damour, Sabra-Shatilla, Palestinian –Amal  and Naher El Bared in Lebanon. Since tragedies, all tragedies had to eventually come to an end we should ask whether this imbroglio is so exceptional and so unique that it will go on forever. History teaches us though that no conflict between any two peoples goes unresolved. If we know that at some point there will have to be a resolution then wouldn’t the sensible thing be to lessen the uncertainty, decrease the misery and seek an honest and equitable synthesis of what separates the two sides.

Egypt and Jordan have signed separate peace treaties with Israel. These treaties have failed to live up to the expectations of the optimists but at least they have stooped the periodic devastating wars and allowed the governments to concentrate on civilian projects rather than wasteful expenditures on arms and killing machines. It would be difficult to argue that these two peace agreements have not served the countries well. Each of the two Arab states was able to negotiate an honourable agreement that respects its borders, sovereignty and ability to concentrate on its primary duty, improvement of the level of welfare of its citizens. I am sure that thousands of mothers have been spared the pain of losing their children to the war machine and an equally large number of fathers grateful for the opportunity to experience the joys of grand fatherhood that might have been stolen from them otherwise. And of course many young brides and good friends have been spared the ravages of war. If all of that is good for the Egyptians and the Jordanians then why isn’t it acceptable for the Lebanese to do the same?  Where is it written that Lebanon is not allowed to pursue its own aspirations to prosper and avoid war? Are we condemned to fight on just because the Iranian Grand Ayatollah believes that the state of Israel should not exist? If that is so then why is it that Iran is willing to fight Israel to the last Lebanese and possibly the last Gaza resident

All activities, be they of individuals, institutions or states must have a purpose and a well defined mean to attain it. No state should chose constant war when it can seek peace. The ultimate responsibility of a state is to protect its borders against incursions and to provide conditions within its borders that are conducive to the betterment of life for its citizens. The first goal, protection of the borders, is best accomplished through negotiations and peaceful means provide the outcome does not infringe on the rights and sovereignty of the parties. When such an option is available then it would be criminal to reject it and chose the attainment of the same exact goals but by paying a higher price in blood and treasure. Only irrational people will opt for the more costly and more painful solution. Unfortunately that is what Lebanon appears to be doing. Our political leaders, our businessmen and women and our civil society owe the country in general and the youth in particular an answer to the question of why must the option of suffering, death and destruction is the only choice? What if we can get back all the land and have safe borders without war? Why are we standing by as Hezbollah takes us to the abyss?