Opinion: May 25 buzz: Solutions for the Mississippi River and Israel’s borders

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Most viewed and shared: Mississippi flooding: Let the river run

Paul VanDevelder, author of ‘Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America’s Road to Empire Through Indian Territory,’ weighs in on what happens when man interrupts nature:


What began on the upper Missouri River in 1951 is playing out this month in the flooding of the lower Mississippi and dozens of communities in its delta. This is a man-made disaster, the legacy of an earlier generation of politicians, farmers and ranchers who made a lot of bad (and very expensive) decisions to correct short-term problems on the Missouri River when the best available science -- including findings in a 1934 corps report -- warned Congress that those solutions would create dire long-term consequences. […] When the Pick-Sloan Plan was approved -- projected cost of $20 billion -- it was the most expensive and ambitious public works project ever conceived by Congress. The scheme merged two proposals for managing the million-square-mile Missouri River basin and its ‘mad elephant of a river,’ the 2,400-mile-long Missouri. Its features included navigation, hydro-electric, irrigation and recreation. The Pick Plan, advanced by Col. Lewis Pick of the Army Corps of Engineers, was sold to members of Congress with the promise that Indian lands only -- no white lands, towns and cities -- would be inundated by the dams. The Sloan Plan, drafted by Bureau of Reclamation engineer Glenn Sloan, called for building 100 small dams across the region, and was championed by Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, who viewed the corps as a ‘lawless … self-serving clique in contempt of the public welfare.’

Most commented: Israel’s settlement liability

In an Op-Ed by Dan Simon, a major in the reserves in the Israeli air force and a former staff attorney for the Assn. for Civil Rights in Israel, he argues…

Netanyahu is not alone in maintaining that Jewish settlements on the West Bank are crucial to defending Israel. That view is deeply embedded in mainstream Israeli thinking, and many Americans accept it too. Republican presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney recently accused Obama of throwing ‘Israel under the bus.’ But Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank does not, on balance, make it safer, and the disputed settlements are not essential to Israel’s security.

…and goes on to explain how President Obama’s plan is actually the best way to pull Israel out from under the bus. Here’s what a few readers have to say on the topic:

What about Gaza?? Dan Simon conveniently didn’t bother to mention that when Israel had settlements in Gaza, there was relative peace on that front. Since Israel pulled out of Gaza, it’s had over 12,000 missiles shot at it and it now effectively has a southern border with Iran. But the real issue is not settlements or territory. It’s the uncompromising and adamant refusal by Arabs/Muslims to accept the existence of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. They simply cannot bring themselves to tolerate a sovereign dhimmi people in their midst because it conflicts so profoundly with their supremacist ideology. --gnadivi Professor Simon isn’t correct about what President Obama implied instead of stated. As a lawyer, perhaps Simon is more inclined to interpret written text than the implications of spoken statecraft. Obama certainly gave clear voice to the U.S. support of the ‘Arab Spring.’ Citizens in those countries should enjoy freedom of speech, assembly, etc. But while potentially affected by the changing nature of Arab states, Israel’s issues are not identical. Because it is a duly elected democratic state, Israel is not subject to external protests. The U.S. WILL NOT support an attempt by the Palestinians to establish their state thru UN resolutions, it WILL NOT require Israel to negotiate with a terror group, Hamas. Furthermore, the U.S. supports the establishment of two separate states, one of them a Jewish state. The U.S. encourages the Israelis and the Palestinians to keep talking, using the 1967 borders with trades of land to amend those borders to contemporary needs. As for Professor Simon’s idea that Israel is hurt by protecting more land than it might have had under the 1967 borders, is this approach any different than the U.S. ceding part of its Arizona border to the Mexican drug lords in an effort to better apply its resources to Al Qaeda? Statecraft requires multiple efforts in parallel, including but not limited to, protecting itself from danger that is both near and far. -- Cypress1 I’m with Ron and Rand Paul on this issue. No more entangling alliances with ANY countries, no more spreading money [...] in order to bribe and corrupt politicians all over the globe. Let Israel work out their differences with their neighbors on their own. The ‘Arab Spring’ is their last chance to take advantage of this peace-favorable time. --BongBong


*Spelling errors were corrected for clarity.


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--Alexandra Le Tellier