Yes, I know about the cultural and historical significance of the place...cradle of civilization and all. And yes, I'm aware that Israel is there, the birthplace of our Lord. I'm reminded of this salient point roughly 50 times a month at my church, where it seems they are rounding up volunteers to go tour the Holy Land every week. We are shown slides of barren hillsides, each indistinguishable from the next..."and this is the Mount of Olives," intones the speaker, "an indescribably moving experience!" I'll take his word for it since the only way you're getting me on a tour bus full of Christians touring the countryside of Israel in 2015 is at room temperature.
Every day of my life there has been some sort of "Middle East Peace Initiative" going on, usually with the United States hip deep in the middle of the thing. And every day of my life, there has been no peace of any kind in the Middle East. This despite the heroic and tireless efforts of two generations of would be peacemakers. Several of them have won Nobels, but still no peace. In the past, what happened in this vast wasteland was of huge strategic importance to us since we desperately needed the region's oil. Now, not so much, (thank you, fracking!).
Now we have ISIS, the latest and most convincing argument against Evolution. This group of anonymous barbarians has brought back Middle Ages style savagery and combined it with 21st century technological innovation. This unholy alliance has resulted in a series of slickly produced snuff videos depicting the gruesome deaths of a parade of alleged "enemies of Islam." Watching them is to be reminded that while all men may be created equal, they don't stay equal for long.
Our President seems uniquely ill-equipped to be a wartime executive. His heart doesn't seem to be in the effort to confront ISIS. I watched him give his speech yesterday at yet another conference at the White House decrying something called "violent extremism." He tried his best, but to hear him talk you could be persuaded that ISIS would go away if only they had better job opportunities. It was all very strange, the kind of speech you would expect him to give at the Urban League or something.
Part of me is glad that he is so reticent. Part of me thinks that the Middle East deserves what it gets. Despite the best efforts of generations of diplomats, if they insist on killing each other with box cutters, then have at it. That may sound cold and uncaring, and perhaps on some level it is. But at some point the people of the Middle East will have to become responsible for the dysfunction of the Middle East.
The sooner, the better.