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Take away the Saudis' oil weapon. (Economic Observer).

REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE: He who has the gold rules! Economics will always trump politics over the long run. Even in the most-convoluted and difficult situations, economic considerations may mold solutions to intractable disputes. Let's take a look at a possible economic solution to the Middle East quagmire.

Start with a little historical perspective. As you read on, don't forget that history is always written by the victors. Everyone wants to be loved, but it's more important for a nation-state to be respected. If it isn't respected, it had better be feared to survive.

Let's look at the Middle East from a real world perspective. Whether the claims of the Palestinians displaced some five decades ago preempt those of the Israelis displaced centuries ago is less important than whether they can live together peacefully today.

The so-called "peace process" has been framed in a land-for-peace structure which disguises the real issue. Israel has never even suggested the annexation of either Gaza or the West Bank. In fact, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to give the Palestinians more than twice the territory they now control in the West Bank (up from about 42% to 95%) and all of Gaza. The proposal would have pulled back most of the Israeli settlements and given the Palestinians sovereignty over the Arab parts of Jerusalem and the Muslim holy sites. It was rejected by PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

Israel has accepted the inevitability of a Palestinian nation, but refuses to grant it the credibility of recognition until its leaders accept and respect Israel's existence. Israel cannot survive if it creates a nation next door that not only supports, but actively trains and promotes, terrorism and the destruction of the Israeli state.

The truth of the matter is that the current Palestinian leadership has come to power through terrorism and has just one major objective--the total destruction of Israel. Every deal is temporary. Every agreement is valid only until it's broken. Their policy is simple. Look at the last 30 years: "Give me what I demand or I'll hijack your airplanes and kill your Olympic athletes." If that doesn't work, well, I saw a lot of Palestinians dancing and celebrating the destruction of the Twin Towers on Sept. 11. What we got from Israel was offers of help and condolence.

There can be no peace no matter how many concessions are made if one party's ultimate objective is the total destruction of the other. While I respect Secretary of State Colin Powell's initiatives, they are based on a foundation of quicksand. You can't survive negotiations where the other party wants to wipe you from the face of the Earth.

The current thinking is to create a Palestinian nation and divide Jerusalem into Muslim and Jewish sectors. Holy sites claimed by both would be administered by some sort of United Nations agency. It would work--until the next terrorist bomb. Native Americans gave up land for peace until there was no more land to give up. Israel will not submit to that form of suicide--a death of a thousand cuts. As long as it has the weapons to fight back (think nuclear), Israel will not accept another Holocaust and disappear from the map.

So, what exactly can be done? The best solution I've heard comes from Bianca Rose Conlin of New Jersey. She suggests an Israeli invasion and takeover of the Saudi Arabian oil fields. If the Israeli military wrests control of the oil reserves and immediately cuts the price of Saudi oil in half, the Middle Eastern crisis becomes a minor issue and world outrage is muted. Even the French might shut up.

However, the Saudis are our friends, some might cry. Let's look at these so-called friends. Saudi Arabia is ruled by a family dictatorship that led desert nomads in the sand not too long ago. Take away their oil and let's see what we've got.

Most of the terrorists who hijacked the four U.S. planes on Sept. 11 were Saudi nationals (15 out of 19). Saudi money has been funneled to terrorist groups worldwide and continues to flow. Remember, Osama bin Laden is a Saudi. In fact, in March, 1996, the government of Sudan had bin Laden and offered to arrest him if it could place him in Saudi custody. The Saudis refused, and bin Laden escaped to Afghanistan, where he coordinated his war on the U.S.

Are they our friends and supporters against world terrorists? Ask Saudi Arabian ambassador to Great Britain Ghazi Algosaibi, who published a poem praising teenage Palestinian suicide bomber Ayat Akhras and who, in it, referred to the "White House whose heart is filled with darkness." When the U.S. had the opportunity to capture Imad Mughniyah, the leader of the Hezbollah terrorist group that slaughtered 241 Marines in Lebanon in 1983, the Saudis refused permission for the plane he was on to land on their soil so he could be arrested. In 1998, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh revealed that the Saudis had refused to hand over forensic evidence, share intelligence, or permit the FBI to interview possible witnesses to the June, 1996, terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers, where 19 American servicemen were killed.

The Saudis are supposed to be our partners against terrorism. Yet, the Saudi government provides payments of $5,333 to each family of "martyrs"--suicide bombers killed while murdering Israeli citizens. A Saudi telethon on government television raised over $100,000,000 for these killers of innocent women and children.

Christian and Jewish American soldiers who risked their lives in the Gulf War to save the Saudis from possible Iraqi invasion were prohibited from wearing crosses or Stars of David while stationed in Saudi Arabia. Our servicemen can die protecting the Saudis, but they better not be identified as infidels. After all, the required 10th-grade textbook for all Saudi public schools mandates that "It is compulsory for the Muslims to be loyal to each other and to consider the infidels their enemy."

So much for our "moderate" partners in our war against terrorism. Maybe Conlin has the right solution. Take away their oil; cut the price in half; use the oil dollars for Arab education and infrastructure building; and watch the Middle Eastern crises dissolve. It might be the only chance for a real peace.

Jeff A. Schnepper, Associate Economics Editor of USA Today, is an attorney and estate planner in Cherry Hill, N.J.
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Author:Schnepper, Jeff A.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2002
Previous Article:On being an American journalist. (Mass Media).
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