An agonizing start for 2024

An agonizing start for 2024 Featured

THE Abrahamic religions have different perspectives and treatment of Christmas. For Christians, a big thing as they commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ. It was first celebrated circa the 4th century on December 25, the date of his birth traditionally attributed to Pope Julius 1st. The Eastern Orthodox using the Julian calendar for their liturgical year celebrates January 7, corresponding later to the Gregorian calendar.

Judaism does not celebrate Christmas although coinciding with the season is Hanukkah, a minor festival that reaffirms their faith commemorating the re-dedication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem. This is an eight-day festival celebrated from December 7 to 15 by lighting candles for each day of the festival.

Islam does not recognize Christmas, as Isa is just a minor prophet not central to their faith. But Islam and Judaism respect the Christians for this festive season and oftentimes participate in non-religious events — parties and gift-giving.

But during this season of festivities, toward the end of the old year, it is traditional and conventional for civilized people to wish everyone "a prosperous incoming year," however untraditional and uncivilized the world behaved the past year and will continue to conduct itself in the coming months.

Blood will continue to flow

The Ukraine-Russian war has now gone 678 days. UN statistics reveal that in this war, Russian fatalities have reached approximately 120,000-360,000, and 30,000-70,000 Ukraine military personnel. Add to this is approximately 10,000 civilians killed.

CNN reports that to date, "...87 percent of the total number of active-duty ground troops Russia had prior to launching its invasion of Ukraine has been lost, 315,000 battlefield fatalities of the original 360,000; and two-thirds of its pre-invasion tanks, a source familiar with a declassified US intelligence assessment provided to Congress told CNN." (Katie Bo Lillis, CNN, Dec. 13, 2023)

The first few months of 2022 was a disaster for Russia. But the much hyped Ukrainian counteroffensive, egged on by US/NATO, faltered through the fall, and Ukraine is not expected to make any major sorties over the coming months — bringing the war to the current stalemate.

And the statistics now tell a different story and project a different conclusion. Ukraine will lose! Russia has a population of 145 million against Ukraine's 40 million. Some 300,000 Russians were mobilized in 2022, raising another 425,000 in 2023. Although well-trained and better-equipped, Ukraine can't match the Russians on battlefield loss replacement. And Russia's frontline soldiers have began to learn to fight.

Aside from the advantage of manpower, Russia has the industrial base to support a war of attrition — which currently is turning into one. This has allowed Russia to produce huge amounts of armaments for a conventional warfare — tanks, aircraft, helicopters and, more importantly, artillery tubes and shells.

Ukraine doesn't have the industrial base needed to underpin a war of attrition. Ukraine depends on NATO, particularly the US. And these countries, whose blood aren't spilled in this war, are tired and drained out. Ukraine President Zelenskyy recently traveled to Washington begging for aid. But Republicans have been less than enthusiastic in putting good money after bad. Without the military and economic aid vital to Ukraine's ability to fight, it's a cooked goose.

Russia understood this only too well. After the failed Ukraine counteroffensive, a deadlock will exhaust a US/NATO resolved to pursue this war. The current status is that Russia controls roughly 20 percent of Ukraine with its hold on the southwestern Oblasts of the Donbass region. It may annex another four Oblasts before a ceasefire is declared.

A ceasefire will have to be declared, but this will merely be like the frozen conflict similar to the 38th parallel armistice in the Korean peninsula. Russia, the victor, need not occupy the whole of Ukraine but will reduce this into a crippled dysfunctional state, keeping its economy wrecked until a friendly government is installed.

And America, its main sponsor, will be mired in the Ukraine muck.

Israel-Hamas war

This conflict has gone on for 88 days and counting. Like in Ukraine, America, Israel's main sponsor, will sink deeper in the mud. America, which is joined at the hip with Israel, can't extricate herself. It's the tail wagging the dog. The two-state solution fashioned to enable the protagonists, the Jews and the Palestinians, to live side by side is now dead. What Israel is gunning for is the creation of a Greater Israel, which includes Gaza plus the Golan Heights seized from Syria, the Jordanian West Bank plus East Jerusalem, all annexed after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The problem with this Greater Israel scenario is that Gaza, the largest open-air prison in Palestine, with 2.1 million population, 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank, and 2.2 million within Israel itself roughly equal Israel's 7.3 million Jewish population. With the birth rate and demographic trends favoring the Palestinians, Israel would very well soon cease to be a Jewish state. What will in fact exist is an apartheid state.

And apartheid Greater Israel is a formula for disaster. A hotbed for a series of uprisings similar to the first Intifada of December 1987-September 1993 that ended with signing of the first Oslo Accords. And the second Intifada that began in September 2000 to late 2005.

Israel is also facing an internal political reality that may exacerbate the conflict. The political center of gravity in Israel has moved far to the right with the Ultra-Orthodox demographics giving them much more influence in the coming years. The ultra-right which rejected Zionism, some of whom don't recognize the State of Israel itself don't serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The right and the Zionists originally intensified expropriation and settlement of occupied territories, expelling the Palestinians, and were the causes of the intifadas and conflicts. They have rejected and will continue to reject the two-state solution. (Excerpts from John Mearsheimer's Israel-Hamas ... presentation to the Center for Independent Study, Brisbane, Australia, CIS, Oct 30,2023.)

In an article, Husam Zomlot, Palestinian ambassador to the UK (Guardian, Dec. 9, 2023), minced no words accusing Israel of carrying out mass murder in Gaza while the world is watching this Christmas. He wrote:

"Today, as the world watches Israel's mass murder in Gaza, the wholesale destruction of entire areas, towns and cities, the mass displacement of nearly 2 million people, the global rules-based order has never looked more impotent or imperiled. In less than two months, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has, according to Save the Children, killed more children than the number of children killed in global conflict zones every year since 2019..."

Wikipedia (Dec. 22, 2023) shows 22,000 people killed and 55,000 wounded, including 68 journalists, on both sides and 135 UNRWA aid workers. The Gaza health ministry reports 21,411 Palestinians (including 6,150-8,000 children) have been killed, 36,000 injured, and 7,000 missing, totaling over 58,000 casualties since the war began. An Israeli official said that about 5,000 militants had been killed by the beginning of December 2023.

On the other hand, Hamas killed 1,200 people in the October 7 attack on Israel and taken 240 hostages. Whatever the statistic say, blood still flows!

A prosperous new year, indeed!000
Read 237 times Last modified on Wednesday, 03 January 2024 11:22
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