Stripped of the usual polemics and accompanying rhetoric, here, in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense, an American humanitarian worker tries to give a citizen's perspective of the Palestinian issue within the context of the Arab world and its relations with the west.
The enduring languor of the American economy, the disillusionment with nation building, and the increasingly participative nature of governance in the Arab world are challenging traditional relationships between the US and the Middle East.
Leaving Iraq – February, 2006
I had wanted to stay past the end of 2005 when the permanent government would be elected. We all knew that the Sunnite insurgents and Al Qaeda would, regardless, continue to contest the future of Iraq on the streets but we could also see that these two forces were increasingly hostile fellow travelers with the later still driven by the vision of their Caliphate and the former hanging on to privileges in a nation-state.
The Avant Garde: How we left Iraq...
It was the summer of 2005 and for the time being a group of us humanitarian workers had found an acceptable security situation in Khanaqin, a town in eastern Diyala a few kilometers from the Iranian border.
"They are imbuing the soil with their blood", I had said. "Sanctifying it and making it them. The field of Black birds for the Serbs", I had added as I turned toward my Serbian program director, "versus the foot-loose, the homeless, and the multinational who will not die for soil."
From Hanoi to Baghdad. The Avant Garde of Western Civ.
Later on, that year, there were a growing number of Op-eds and other such analyses that were comparing Iraq to Vietnam and which, as a veteran of the later, interested me. While I had no doubt that the same ending for both could be achieved, the actual variations were often more difficult to discern.
I run a non-profit that focuses on what we in the trade call “the presumption of development overseas.” My staff and I have spent most of our working lives investing U.S. public money in poor and often chaotic circumstances, as we seek to accelerate “progress.”
What we are trying to do is “modernize” — a far more accurate starting point than “develop.” We work at the communal, national and regional level to supply and sustain Western values and know-how amid folks who view all this as foreign.
With the recent confrontations on the Syrian and Lebanese borders with Israel, the nature of the end game has come into focus.
Put simply: If Bashar falls, so does Nasrallah and with him the Hezbollah infrastructure.
In some ways, Syria is Iraq flipped. A majority Sunni population ruled by a minority Shia sect for some 40 years now. Even as the political inclinations of the Sunni majority are as yet unclear, when it assumes its eminence in Syria, it certainly will be more influenced by Saudi Arabia and Egypt than by Shia Iran and its client Hezbollah.
It is a pleasure to bring Laila Atshan to your attention. I worked with her in the West Bank of Palestine where she was and is a leading voice for the PWD (Persons With Disabilities) movement. She is also a renowned facilitator within the PWD community and a 'provocateur' for engagement on some of the most challenging issues facing the community. Her work on what constitutes disability, who is a PWD, and the extent and limits of PWD rights resonate with anyone struggling with a physical disadvantage and how they chose to let the disability define them.
If it weren’t for the capital letters, you might initially dismiss a GONGO as something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Resist the urge (about the only thing GONGOs and Dr. Seuss stories have in common are hearts eight sizes too small). GONGO stands for government organized non-governmental organization. Sound counter-intuitive? Good. Because that’s what GONGOs are all about.
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