16 September, 2010

A Brief History of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

The modern Israel-Palestine conflict begun at the fall of the Ottoman Empire. When the empire fell at the end of World War I (WWI), there was a power vacuum which the French and the British attempted to fill throughout the Middle East. They were unsuccessful at filling the vacuum of power left by the Ottoman Empire, and the when they divided up the land boundaries they did not consider the people groups in the Middle East. The conflict boils down to land, both who is controlling it and who is living in it. There have been at least five major wars between the Israelis and other Arab nations. The current and most recent issues are the Israeli settlements in the west bank, lack of a Palestinian State, Palestinian Refugees from the 1948 war, religious buildings, control over the City of Jerusalem, and security of Israel.

Before the end of WWI, in 1917 the British occupied Palestine. At the end of WWI, when the French and the British divided up the land; the British gained control of the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. This land included Israel, some of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. This was formally established by the Balfour declaration, Balfour was a Zionist and wanted there to be a place for the Jews to return too. During the time that Palestine was under British control the Jewish population was growing due to growing persecution in Europe.

The five major wars involve Israel and at least one Arab nation. The first war was in 1948 when Israel was facing forces from seven different Arab nations and several militant groups. This was known as their War of Independence. Despite being severely outnumbered Israel managed to do much better than anyone expected, they did lose the Gaza Strip to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan, but they gained the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is important because, “Israel views the sea as its one great natural reservoir and so will protect and control at all costs the sources that feed this sea.” (Burge pg. 20) The next war was in 1967 known as the six day war. In this war the Israelis were outnumbered yet they managed to gain large amounts of territory. The six day war was between the Israelis and the forces of ten nations in addition to militant groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). During the six day war Jordan lost Jerusalem and the West Bank; Syria lost the Golan Heights; Egypt lost the Gaza Strip Suez Canal, and the Sinai Peninsula. The War in 1973 also known as the Yom Kanpur war, Egypt lunched a surprise attack on Israel. Egypt broke through the Israeli defenses at the Suez Canal and moved into the Sinai Peninsula. Once the Israeli forces reorganized they surrounded the Egyptian forces and forced surrender. At the conclusion of this war Israel gave back the Suez Canal and the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for the Egyptians to recognition of the Nation of Israel. In both 1982 and 2006 there were rockets and shells being fired into the nation of Israel from southern Lebanon. The people responsible for these attacks were organizations; specifically the PLO and Hezbollah, Israel invaded southern Lebanon in order to stop the attacks on Israel. The plateau of the Golan Heights, “continues south around the east side of the Sea of Galilee and towers over it from 2,500 to 3,000 feet. Considering that the Sea of Galilee is about 650 feet below sea level, the Golan offers a huge strategic advantage over the region.” (Burge pg. 19-20) This is why Israel considers the Golan Heights important for their security.

One of the main issues the Israel-Palestine conflict has is a security problem for Israel. Before The Six Day war the distance from the Israel border to Tel Aviv is well within the range of rockets and artillery fire. Whenever Israel is attacked by in-direct fire (rockets, mortars, artillery) their reaction is to invade the area it came from and create a buffer zone so the indirect fire cannot reach Israeli territory. Currently Israel has a peace treaty between Israel and its surrounding neighbors and the PLO. The PLO has not been a major threat since the war in 1982. The PLO and Israel signed their peace treaty called “Declaration of Principles”. The main objective of these organizations like the PLO is for a recognized Palestinian state, Israel claims a Palestinian State would be a base of operations for terror groups. A two state option is disliked by both extremes, Hamas and Zionists. Due to the many wars there have been many thousands of Palestinians who have been displaced from their homes, yet Israel is slowly building Jewish settlements that were destroyed by the same wars.

The problem with attempting any kind of peace treaty is the large diversity of population and religions. The land of Israel and Palestine includes Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze. The Christians many denominations the Catholics, Syrian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Armenians, Holy Sepulture, COPTS, and Ethiopians. Trying to get all these groups to agree is almost impossible, especially when they can just start a new radical organization.

These are just some of the many issues involved in the Israel Palestine Conflict, which has had a very long and bloody history. This brief summary of events does not even begin to cover the religious side of the conflict. Many international organizations such as the U.N. attempt to find resolutions to these issues but there are two ways at looking at the conflict. One is to take it purely as a legal one with no religious or empathic perspectives. The other view is to take it as a religious conflict and become emotionally involved, taking empathy for those who this conflict has displaced. While the first one seems cold and heartless it is the best approach because once emotions and religion are involved nothing will be resolved.

Works Cited

Burge, Gary M. Whose Land? Whose Promise? Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 2003.

16 March, 2010

Eisenhower Soldier and President By: Stephen Ambrose

Stephen Ambrose’s book Eisenhower Soldier and President is a very well written and well researched book. There were many different ways that this book revels the attributes that made Eisenhower such a great military commander and president. While Ambrose gives many dates and details of Eisenhower’s life the important part is focusing on the character traits. These character traits and experiences that made him such popular and good leader should be understood for future reference.
Eisenhower’s mother was one of his greatest influences while Eisenhower was growing up. Eisenhower’s parents “taught the simple virtues of honesty, self-reliance, integrity, fear of God, and ambition.”[1] These are many of the same values which the Army requires of its soldiers and officers. These values are even more important in those seeking high office within the United States. To build on the values which Eisenhower’s parents instilled in him his home town of “Abilene was cautious and conservative in its social outlook, religion, and politics. Everyone was Christian, of European descent, and nearly all voted Republican.”[2] Due to these influences and a influences form a good friend he grew up wanting to go to Annapolis. He did not get the appointment but got one to West Point.
While at West Point he played football, and took many of the good lessons that the academy has to offer. “Hazing, the uglier side of West Point, had little appeal to him, obviously not as a recipient, but not as a Yearling either… He took from West Point what was positive and rejected that which was negative.”[3] One of the many positive experiences that West Point offered was football. Eisenhower played two games as a very promising running back but was injured and could no longer play. He then begin to coach the junior varsity team. “The act of coaching brought out his best traits –his organizational ability, his energy and competiveness, his enthusiasm and optimism. His willingness to work hard at a task that intrigued him, his powers of concentration, his talent for working with the material he had instead of hoping what he did not have, and his gift for drawing the best out of his players.”[4] This experience was one of the opportunities Eisenhower had to show his leadership potential while at West Point.
After Eisenhower graduated from West Point he had a number of assignments as a junior officer, some had little influence on him while others gave him very influential people. His first appointment was to Fort Sam Huston, where he met his wife, “her name was Mary Geneva Doud, but she was known as Mamie.”[5] During World War I (WWI) Eisenhower was an infantry training officer and was promoted up to the rank of Captain. Towards the end of the war he was transferred to a tank battalion, which had no tanks. All during WWI Eisenhower never saw action in France, and he resented that fact, but his superior officer “recommended him for the Distinguished Service Medal. The award finally came through in 1922. It praised Eisenhower for his ‘unusual zeal, foresight, and marked administrative ability.’ To Eisenhower, it was more a bitter reminder than a welcome award.”[6] These qualities are very important to both a commander and a President even though he never saw action Eisenhower learned valuable lessons during WWI.
Eisenhower did not like politics but the time between the wars involves lots of politics. “Army officers were supposed to be above politics.”[7] Eisenhower’s main dislike of politics is the controversial issues which he naturally avoided. During the time between the wars Eisenhower was under the command of General MacArthur, who embraced controversial issues. While this meant they did not get along well MacArthur saw the value of Eisenhower and the need to keep him around. “MacArthur embraced controversial issues; Eisenhower avoided them. When Eisenhower became President, the nation paid a price for his avoidance of controversy, as in desegregation crisis or in dealing with Senator Joseph R. McCarthy.”[8] This lack of dealing with controversy is a problem throughout Eisenhower’s military and political career.
One of the other problems Eisenhower had throughout his life was an anger problem. While under the command of General Marshall the Army’s Chief of Staff he had a very bad experience when he was not getting the field commands that he desired. After this experience he wrote in his journal “anger cannot win, it cannot even think clearly.”[9] But this experience lead to his promotion to major general and general Marshall said he was “was really not a staff officer.”[10]
When Eisenhower got to England he “proved to be outstanding at public relations.”[11] This is a very important quality for a President to have and it proved useful when “Eisenhower manipulated the press, for his own purposes and for the good of the Allied cause.”[12] For the same reasons the press liked him so did the British leadership especially Prime Minister Churchill. “Throughout the war, Eisenhower’s good relations with the British leadership would be one of his greatest strengths.”[13] These relations proved useful beyond the war when dealing with both the British and French governments while he was in office.
One of the strongest leadership qualities which allowed Eisenhower succeed both during the war and after, was surrounding himself with strong, competent leadership. “Eisenhower believed the most crucial appointment was his chief of staff.”[14] He believed “Officers that fail, must be ruthlessly weeded out.”[15] Before Operation Overlord, Eisenhower commanded Operation Torch, this operation was the invasion of North Africa. In this operation there was a battle called Kasserine Pass, in this battle the Americans were defeated. “Kasserine was Eisenhower’s first real battle; taking it all in all, his performance was miserable. Only American firepower, and German shortages, had saved him from a humiliating defeat.”[16] While direct responsibility fell on General Fredenall, “the man most responsible for American shortcomings was Eisenhower himself, because he was not tough enough. He had allowed Fredendall to retain command, despite his serious and well-founded doubts.”[17] Once again Eisenhower’s dislike for controversy caused problems. Although Torch was not one of the Allied’s best moments, “Eisenhower learned which of his subordinates could stand up to the strain of battle and which could not. Had it not been for torch… the allies would have gone ashore with an insecure Eisenhower in command of inexperienced troops led by Lloyd Fredenall.”[18] This would have turned Operation Overlord into a complete failure. After Operation Torch and Operation Roundup, Eisenhower was named as the commander for Operation Overlord; the invasion of Normandy, France.
While Eisenhower may have been uncomfortable with those under his command he knew how to act around subordinates. “He had learned how critical it was for him to be always cheery and optimistic in the presence of subordinates, how costly caution can often be in combat.”[19] He knew that “nothing pleased the footslogger struggling in the mud of Italy more than hearing that Eisenhower had put Spaatz or some other general in his place.”[20] Knowing the morale of his men and what they like is very much like knowing what the populist want and how to get it to them. Although while he was President he was very spot on with what the populist wanted he didn’t always do it.
Eisenhower’s first campaign for president was mainly over fiscal responsibility. After the war he was a very decisive man and because of that “Eisenhower ended up fiscal 1960 with a surplus of a billion dollars.”[21] He did this because he believed in the cause he was fighting for but when the country wanted a massive nuclear arms race with Russia he did not agree and therefore did not support an arms race. Instead he gave statements such as, “How many times do we have to destroy Russia?”[22] He did this because Eisenhower was a visionary and thought that “we must address this problem in terms, not of six months, but of forty years.”[23] Eisenhower always placed the importance of the nation before himself. Even though he lost Eisenhower still had a meeting with Kennedy at the Oval Office where “Kennedy listened carefully and intelligently as Eisenhower explained the wary the White House functioned.”[24]
Up until the end Eisenhower always was a loyal servant to the people of the United States, both as a soldier and as a President. His life experience gave him the leadership tools necessary to run major military operations as well as the country. These tools was a natural ability when it came to public relations, honesty, ability to surround himself with competent people, self-reliance, organizational ability, integrity, foresight, enthusiasm and great interpersonal skills. These attributes and virtues enabled him to the kind of President and statesman he became.

[1] Ambrose, Stephen E., Eisenhower Soldier and President (New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1990), 16.
[2] Ibid, 17.
[3] Ibid, 23.
[4] Ibid, 27.
[5] Ibid, 30.
[6] Ibid, 35.
[7] Ibid, 47.
[8] Ibid, 47.
[9] Ibid, 65.
[10] Ibid, 65.
[11] Ibid, 72.
[12] Ibid, 73.
[13] Ibid, 75.
[14] Ibid, 77.
[15] Ibid, 95.
[16] Ibid, 94.
[17] Ibid, 94.
[18] Ibid, 119.
[19] Ibid, 119.
[20] Ibid, 112.
[21] Ibid, 479.
[22] Ibid, 479.
[23] Ibid, 484.
[24] Ibid, 531.