Wednesday, July 9, 2008

International Tensions

A friend of mine sent me an intriguing e-mail today.

Her subject line said, "Israel and Iran," and her message said, simply, "Looking like they are on the verge of war."

What could I say? Iran test fired some missiles near the Strait of Hormuz, "a narrow strip of water through which much of the world's oil supply passes," writes Tom Baldwin in the London Times.

That news is disturbing, all right.

But what is really disturbing to me is how people in this country — or at least those in my corner of it — perceive Iran's activities to be routine.

Just another day at the office — to apply a Western concept to that part of the world.

There's tension in the Middle East, people seem to be saying. What else is new? Jesse Jackson made some disparaging remarks about Barack Obama. DNA tests cleared JonBenet Ramsey's family of her murder a dozen years ago. Did gas prices go up again today?

Actually, anything that happens in the Middle East has the potential to affect gas prices here.

And Iran seems bound and determined to increase the tension in the Middle East at any time. "Our finger is always on the trigger," said Iran's commander of the Revolutionary Guard.

But, back here, in the United States of America, the top news stories today are:

  1. Jesse Jackson apologizes for making a "crude" remark about Barack Obama near an open microphone.

    (It seems to me that, if Obama doesn't lose this election, it won't be because his "friends" didn't try hard enough.)

  2. Obama joined 68 other senators in supporting broader government spying powers and immunity for phone companies that assist in secret wiretapping.

  3. DNA evidence exonerates JonBenet Ramsey's family nearly 12 years after her murder.

  4. The number of salmonella victims passes 1,000.

  5. The lawyers for model Christie Brinkley and architect Peter Cook are going at it in a very public divorce case.

  6. Sen. Edward Kennedy returns to the Senate to cast his vote to break a Republican filibuster of a Medicare bill.

  7. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 235 points today, falling to a two-year low.

  8. A comic book character that has been popular in Mexico for 60 years is being called a racist caricature.

  9. The discovery of a few ticks on an airplane delayed a flight from Des Moines, Iowa, to Denver for nearly six hours.

  10. Two members of Colombia's rebel group FARC were offered money to switch sides and deliver false messages as part of last week's hostage rescue.

Now, most of these news stories are important — to a degree.

But Iran, with today's test firings, its hatred for Israel and its nuclear ambitions, trumps them all, in my opinion.

Yet it's getting the least attention.

This is the kind of thing that requires some presidential leadership. I haven't seen any leadership from the current occupant of the Oval Office. I guess he's leaving it to the next president to deal with the increasingly messy situation in the Middle East.

What are we getting from his would-be successors?

Well, John McCain is criticizing Obama for "failing to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group," writes Michael Shear in the Washington Post.

I haven't heard anything from Obama. Maybe he was too busy voting to give Big Brother the biggest overhaul in federal surveillance law in three decades.

In the past, Obama has been opposed to giving immunity to phone companies. Now that he's the Democrats' presumptive nominee, his philosophy appears to be changing as he tries to look like a centrist.

McCain, apparently, was too busy campaigning to show up to vote. In the past, he has supported the immunity plan.

For the record, Hillary Clinton voted against the bill.

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