Friday, August 18, 2006

After Month of Madness

There are few voices on the issues of the Middle East more worth listening to than that of Lakhdar Brahimi.

He negotiated the accord that ended the civil war in Lebanon, was key in the Bonn agreement setting Afghanistan on a new course and was called in at critical times in Iraq when everything was going wrong.

In the New York Times today, he makes no secret of what he feels for the "month of madness" that is behind us.

And he is explicit in describing the major setbeck the month has been:

"Rather than helping in the so-called global war on terror, recent events have benefited the enemies of peace, freedom and democracy. The region is boiling with resentment, anger and despair, feelings that are not leading young Arabs and Palestinians toward the so-called New Middle East."

Brahimi argues for talking to Hezbollah and trying to get it truly integrated in Lebanese society. To try to defeat it is to risk the destruction of Lebanon.

And he argues strongly - and rightly - for turning attention to the Palestinian issue. Here, he sounds much like Tony Blair did in his recent speech in Los Angeles.

I agree fully.

If the month of madness can produce a wider recognition of the need to look anew at the Palestinian conflict, and get away from some of the policies of the past months, there might be some hope.

If not - then there is not.