This is the Weblog of Mike from FreeRepublic.com, the head of the Christian Supporters of Israel list there. Just another rower down in the hold of the juggernaut which is the American Evangelical Christian support of Israel.

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Location: California, United States

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Mideast duty for U.S. troops may include Israel

I had this one sent to me through regular mail by a longterm online friend. The idea that any "peacekeepers," American or otherwise would be deployed in Israel is absolutely offensive to everything Israel stands for, as if they were some third world banana republic unable to handle their internal affairs. Most Americans would agree that the Israelis are more than capable of handling their own "peace-keeping" duties. Imagine the U.N. deploying troops on the Mexican/American border to maintain the "peace." We would not tolerate the humiliation.

To stand by the Israelis in defeat of radical Islam and terrorism? Whole other story.

Mideast duty for U.S. troops may include Israel

Troops serving in and near the Middle East might want to start getting used to the scenery.

Lawmakers and top military commanders say 2005 could well be a pivotal year in the history of the unsettled region.

And they say the continued presence of tens of the thousands of American troops is helping to create an atmosphere of stability and U.S. commitment — so much so that there is even growing talk of troops taking part in any Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, renewed his longstanding call for NATO and U.S. troops to take part in an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

The death in November of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has set the stage for renewed movement in the creation of a Palestinian state. And Warner said a NATO force with strong U.S. participation would be viewed as evenhanded in the volatile region because many of NATO’s European allies have strong ties to Palestinian Arabs while the United States is viewed as a strong backer of Israel.

Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, NATO’s top commander in Europe, said he’s heard growing informal discussions at senior diplomatic levels in recent weeks about a possible NATO force for an Israeli-Palestinian accord.

“When things get talked about at that level, my ears pick up,” Jones said at a March 1 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

At the hearing, Jones also told Warner he has been given “no additional task” to plan for a possible Israel peacekeeping mission. Still, the informal talk is reminiscent of discussion he heard in early 2003 that led to NATO participation in the Afghanistan mission, he said.

Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections appear to have set the tone for growing movements of political reform throughout the region, Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, said at the hearing, adding that 2005 “can be a decisive year for us,” an assessment echoed by several senior senators.

However, Abizaid cautioned that “nothing in the Middle East moves in a straight line” and that numerous setbacks could lie ahead.

“As optimistic as I am, and as revolutionary as the times may be, we should not underestimate our enemies in the region,” he said. “There is fighting ahead. We should not kid ourselves.”

The performance of Iraqi security forces during the elections “provided a glimpse of how good they can be,” Abizaid said, but the Iraqis must make significant progress in creating lines of communication and control between their new government and the military.

U.S. troop levels in Iraq peaked at more than 159,000 in late January, about 20,000 above pre-election levels. Abizaid said a massive U.S. unit rotation is underway that will reduce U.S. combat power by mid-March from 20 brigades to 17 brigades. But he was hesitant to commit to a timeline for further reductions.


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