World News and Trends: A new Middle East peace initiative: Is the time really ripe?

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A new Middle East peace initiative: Is the time really ripe?

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American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has described the present distress as “the birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Former President Bill Clinton indicated that the recent deterioration of conditions in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza had paradoxically created a climate for “some kind of positive movement to take place” ( Financial Times, Sept. 20). President George Bush recently said, “Some of the [positive] changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, but they are real” ( USA Today, Sept. 20).

One journalist recently talked about “a new momentum for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace settlement out of the ashes of the past several months.”

But are all these comments pie-in-the-sky? Are they just another manifestation of the proverbial triumph of hope over hard experience? True, even the Bible does indicate that conditions are going to come together that may produce a temporary peace that causes world leaders to say, “ ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no [real] peace” (Jeremiah 6:14 Jeremiah 6:14They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
American King James Version×

However, not all astute observers of the world scene would agree that substantive prospects for peace exist in the Middle East. Consider the views of Harvard historian and author Niall Ferguson. He conceives of a conflict there that could spark a global conflagration. Professor Ferguson considers the 20th century to have been the most violent in the history of humankind and sees the 21st century as beginning to move in the same tragic direction.

He wrote in the September/October issue of Foreign Affairs: “Today one region displays in abundance all of the characteristics of the worst conflict zones of the twentieth century. Economic volatility has remained pronounced there even as it has diminished in the rest of the world . . . That place is the Middle East ” (emphasis added throughout).

Ferguson concluded his article with these words of warning: “The sobering possibility we urgently need to confront is that another global conflict is brewing today —centered not on Poland or Manchuria, but more likely on Palestine and Mesopotamia.”

Another long-neglected source of wisdom is the Bible. It is full of forewarnings of Armageddon-like conditions that will prevail in the Middle East. Its pages foretell a series of shattering events that will end with the Messiah returning to Jerusalem, from where He will govern the earth—finally ushering in the utopian peace that mankind has so long sought for in vain. To understand how this will come about, request or download our free booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy . (Sources: USA Today, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs .)