" that one administration official observed, "I can assure you a young generation of terrorists is being created" (Zaharna 2003).
At present, "The current [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict is mortgaging the future of both nations. A new generation of Palestinians is coming of age. More than 50% of the population of the West Bank and Gaza is under the age of 15," which means that the U.S. must act now before a new generation of terrorists is born (Enderlin 2002). As a result of the Israeli security measures to impose order on the West Bank, unemployment and poverty in Gaza and the West Bank are at unprecedented levels. "More than two-thirds of Palestinian children live on less than $1.90 a day," a situation of economic distress that makes the region a fertile breeding ground for terror and is also a public relations boon to nations that use the occupation as justification for anti-U.S. policy. "On the Israeli side the new generation is growing up in an atmosphere of anguish and fear created by the Palestinian suicide bombers. More than 80 of the 440 Israeli civilians killed prior to November 2002 were under the age of 18, and many young people are starting to believe that there is no interlocutor on the Palestinian side" (Enderlin 2002).
Although the U.S. will always have an interest in establishing peace in the region, regardless of the origins of the conflict, it also must do all it can to free itself from economic dependence on such an unstable region, filled with politics and alliances if often does not understand until it is too late. At present, oil prices are high, "the result of strong demand from China and India, limited success at curbing consumption in the United States, and the continued possibility of supply shortages. The price of a barrel of oil is far more likely to exceed $100 than it is to fall below $40. Iran...will benefit disproportionately" and other nations who are hostile to U.S. security interests (Haass 2003:3). Conserving energy is not simply good for the environment; it is also good for U.S. security. Reducing the size of U.S. vehicles, providing incentives for people who drive hybrid cars and investing in wind and solar energy are all vital to making this new oil-independent future a reality. However, Americans must force themselves, for the national good, to divest themselves of fuel-inefficient vehicles. "Achieving energy independence really means retooling the car. Coal, natural gas, and other domestic fuels can heat and power U.S. homes and factories. But some 70% of oil is used in transportation, four-fifths of that by cars and trucks," yet Americans who have sent their sons and daughters to die in Iraq balk at driving "sluggish, squinchy little cars...as a step backward for the American dream" and even driving 55 miles per hour is a challenge for Americans in a hurry (Clayton 2004).
Diplomacy and acting multilaterally must be the goal, both of the U.S. policy in its phased withdrawal from Iraq and also in continuing to strive to broker an effective peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Americans must cultivate a new image as an objective peace-maker, rather than a nation that military advances its own interests, with little care for the culture and security sensitivities of others. And to protect our own interests American culture must change as well -- specifically ending our love affair with the car, so we can act in the Middle East according to humanitarian and policy demands, not because of economic desperation.
Clayton, Mark. "Breaking free." The Christian Science Monitor. Sci-Tech: Computers and Technology. 21 Oct 2004. 27 Apr 2007. http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/1021/p13s02-stct.html
Enderlin, Charles. "Shattered Dreams": an inside look at Israeli-Palestinian negotiations." Tolerance.org. 2002. 27 Apr 2007. http://www.tolerance.ca/Article.aspx?ID=59&L=fr
Haass, Richard. "The New Middle East." Foreign Affairs.