How To Achieve a Lasting Peace in the Middle East
Declare War on the Desert, Not On Each Other
Some pessimists assert that a lasting peace in the Middle East is not possible. They claim that "those people have been fighting for hundreds of years; there's nothing we can do about it". Such an attitude, however, is not only factually false, it denies the truth that human beings are made imago viva Dei - in the image of God. A lasting peace is indeed possible, but it requires a radically different approach than has been taken by the Bush and Obama administrations.
Economist Lyndon LaRouche has proposed a plan which is based on the idea that in order to have a lasting peace, there needs to be a common interest; something that all sides can work on together, and that benefits everyone.
What can provide this common interest in the Middle East? To answer this question, consider: what is desperately lacking in this part of the world, which is absolutely necessary to have a decent life? Answer: fresh water. There is simply not enough fresh water in the Middle East, or Southwest Asia as it ought really to be known, for the number of people that are living there. The average per capita water usage in this part of the world is less than half that of Western Europe or the United States.
What can be done? Unlike in North America, where there is abundant freshwater, but it is simply distributed in a lopsided manner, such that a diversion project like NAWAPA can bring water from where it is in excess to where it is needed, in contrast, in Southwest Asia there is not an obvious supply of freshwater that can be diverted from one place to another to supply the need.
Nuclear desalination provides the way. There's plenty of water in the Mediterranean - it just has a lot of salt in it, which makes it unfit for drinking or agriculture. However, one modern, MHTGR (modular, high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor) can desalinate 100 cubic meters of water per second! By way of comparison, the average discharge flow of the Nile River, one of the largest rivers in the world, is about 2800 cubic meters per second. So, with 28 nuclear power plants, we can create a manmade river as large as the Nile River! Not that we would want to do exactly that. A much more advantageous approach would be to create many smaller rivers and lakes throughout the entire region, and spread the water more evenly over a larger area.
Such nuclear power plants could be mass-produced on assembly lines in the United States, or Russia, or China, or Europe. Since they are modular, and relatively small, they can be mounted on barges or ships, and brought to where they are to be used. Modern, fourth-generation nuclear power plants are inherently safe - that is, they use "passive" safety features, meaning that even if all cooling systems fail, the reactor is capable of cooling itself off anyway.
LaRouche and friends have worked with experts in the area, and have analyzed the topography, taking note of the existing valleys and depressions which provide for natural pathways for the new water, and have designed a comprehensive proposal for turning the deserts from brown to green.
It's called the Oasis Plan. There are many individual projects that make up the overall concept: the Mediterranean Sea-Dead Sea Canal, the Qattara Depression, the Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal, and other projects.
But, how does water bring peace? Take the converse: ask yourself what does the lack of water do?
In many countries in the region, agriculture accounts for more than 90% of water use. Nevertheless, the region is unable to produce sufficient food to feed its population, with most countries importing 40-50% of their total cereal consumption. In 1967, Israel occupied the Golan Heights, thus depriving Syria of its access to Lake Tiberias and its precious water. Arab sources say that 67% of Israel’s yearly water supply is taken from areas outside the 1948 borders, 35% from the West Bank.
Imagine the bitter hatred that can be caused by conflict over lack of water.
Now, counterpose to that, the idea of a common interest. Mankind now has the technological means to double the amount of available fresh water for the region, and turning the deserts into gardens is clearly in the mutual self-interest of all the parties involved - Arab and Israeli, regardless of sect or national heritage. Rather than killing each other over a right to share in an ever-shrinking pie, why not bring all the parties involved into cooperation in building infrastructure that increased the amount of fresh water for everyone? Such an effort clearly benefits each party.
Such cooperation brings about a kind of psychological or, may we say, a spiritual change.
Rather than seeing each other as animals who are destined to fight each other like cats and dogs, or be in a never-ending feud like the Hatfields and the McCoys, instead, they can begin to see each other as real human beings. In the course of solving the problems inherent in building such large-scale projects which cross over national boundaries, it is inevitable that there will come a recognition that that guy on the "other side" of the border is capable of human creative reason, of problem-solving, and what's more, that he wants a better way of life for himself and his family, just like we do.
The new name for peace is development.
This, in fact, was the great genius of the United States in its better days. People came from around the world to the U.S., seeking progress, not only for themselves but also for their posterity.
Such a series of projects will take 20 to 30 years to build. And, when the projects are complete, the effect will be that the productive capacity of each individual within the region will have been vastly increased, in such a way that all of the other individuals will also be benefitted thereby.
Thus one finds that the truest individual self-interest lies in seeking benefits for all.
This concept of the "benefit of the other" was precisely the principle upon which the Treaty of Westphalia was based. After the horrible 30 years war, in which Catholics and Protestants were engaged in hideous genocide, one against the other, from 1618 to 1648, a war in which Europe was depopulated by as much as half, finally the Treaty of Westphalia established the basis for a lasting peace, and in the process, established the age of the nation-state. We must learn the lessons of history: Christians were not destined to kill each other any more than Arabs and Israeli's are somehow "destined" to kill each other!
But, perhaps a reader will object that that was then, and this is now, and such an Oasis plan could never be agreed upon today.
Happily, such an objection has already been answered.
Unbeknownst to the vast majority of Americans today, the "Oasis Plan" was already agreed upon by Yitzak Rabin of Israel and Yasser Arafat of the Palestinians in the "Oslo Accord" of 1993. In the appendix of that agreement, nuclear powered desalination was spelled out, and major elements of LaRouche's proposal were adopted.
This was certainly not a coincidence; LaRouche and associates were constantly promoting the Oasis Plan in numerous international seminars and conferences. And, LaRouche and associates were in correspondence with Shimon Peres at the time of Yitzak Rabin's prime ministership. Shimon Peres was Foreign Minister at the time, and during the period in the run-up to the Oslo Accord agreement, he was travelling the world giving speeches proposing that we "declare a war on the desert", that we "produce water", and that we should "take out the desert from the land, to take out the salt from the water, to take out the hostility from the people".
Tragically, Yitzak Rabin was assassinated - not by an Arab, but by a fellow Israeli, an extremist who believed that Rabin had "sold out" Israel by agreeing to such a peace agreement. Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), LaRouche's intelligence journal, did intensive investigative journalism and intelligence work, and traced the "heritage" of the extremist organization to which Rabin's assassin belonged, back to London. The old colonial mentality is unfortunately alive and seething today, and it literally hates the potential for peaceful cooperation among sovereign nation-states. The Empire feeds off of conflict, and uses "divide and conquer" wherever it can to keep people fighting among themselves, so that no one notices who is controlling the oil and other strategic raw materials.
But this does not prove that such peaceful cooperation is impossible. Quite the contrary, it demonstrates that not only can such an agreement be made, but it has already been done in the recent past.
The world needs leaders who will have the courage to put forth these ideas and represent this approach.
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