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Does something new need to be said about the Middle East?

Needed: a U-turn

During the recent fighting involving Israel and Hezbollah, a congressional resolution one-sidedly backing Israel's response raced through both houses of Congress with hardly any opposition at all.  Another resolution (sponsored by Rep. Dennis Kucinich) calling for an immediate cessation of violence in the Middle East languished, with at last count 33 co-sponsors.

It's clear just from reading the news that both sides committed war crimes, substantial war crimes: firing rockets or dropping bombs on innocent civilians, with reckless disregard for human life, with casualties in the thousands -- not to mention the people made homeless and houses demolished.  There are other sources which will give you good information about what has and still is happening; my favorite is Juan Cole's "Informed Comment."  (And this doesn't even get into the question of whether the American invasion of Iraq was an "aggressive war.")  

After the Nuremburg trials, the allies executed Germans for doing exactly these sorts of things in the Second World War.  True, the Allies did some of the same things (Dresden and Hiroshima come to mind); and the scale of the atrocities in the Second World War, or even the Vietnam War, was much larger.  But how many have to die before questions are raised about war crimes?  Should we remain silent if there are only a thousand innocents dead?  Ten thousand?  A hundred thousand?   

Now I'm not heavily into the vengeance thing, so I'm not that concerned about meting out punishment here.  I'm concerned with the question, does someone actually need to say, "war crimes are a bad idea"?  Or, "we shouldn't vote in favor of acts of war, especially those resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocents"?   Or, "when senseless violence occurs, we should speak out against it"?  

The actions of the U. S. Congress on this matter are not acceptable.  If our representatives or the American people (depending on whom you feel like blaming) want to regain the trust of compassionate people, this situation needs to be corrected.

Keith Akers
August 21, 2006