MIDDLE EAST—With the Iraq war in its fifth year, the war in Afghanistan in its sixth, and  conflict between Israel and the rest of the region continuing unabated for more than half a century, intelligence sources are warning that a new wave of violence in the Middle East may soon blah blah blah, etc. etc., you know the rest.

Yet another act of violence in response to something else terrible that occurred in, oh, let's say Basra.

"Tensions in the region are extremely high," said U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who added the same old same old while answering reporters' questions. "We're disappointed by the events of the last few months, but we're confident that we're about to [yakety yakety yak]."

The U.N. has issued a strongly worded whatever denouncing someone or something presumably having to do with the vicious explosive things that raged across this, or shattered the predawn calm of that, or ripped suddenly through the other, killing umpteen innocent civilians in a Jerusalem bus or Beirut discotheque or Fallujah mosque or whatever it was this time.

Either a car bomb killed people or a car hit a roadside bomb, killing people.

In the aftermath of a whole series of incidents, there have also been troubling reports of just fill in the blanks. Middle East experts say the still somehow worsening situation has inflamed age-old sectarian tensions between the Sunnis, Shiites, Semites, Kurds, Turks, Saudis, Persians, Wahhabis, radicals, extremists, Baathists, mullahs, clerics, et al, which is likely to lead to more gurgle-gurgle over the coming weeks and months.

A certain number of U.S. troops were also killed somewhere in some tragic fashion, while a much greater number were wounded. Meanwhile, impoverished or oppressed supporters of whichever faction carried out the attack or ambush probably celebrated, angering an angry U.S. public that is already angry. Locals are calling for an investigation into excessive force or outright corruption by military or political officials on one of the 15 sides of the various conflicts, although the implicated party has categorically denied wrongdoing, just like they always do, without fail, every time this happens, which is daily, it seems.

And in Afghanistan, the Taliban.

In Israel, Palestinians and Israelis escalated tensions and so on and so on ad infinitum, ad eternum, and some say, ad absurdum, and although Hamas released a statement condemning Israeli forces for the resulting civilian deaths, Israeli officials say the teens were armed with rocket launchers, though it doesn't really matter.

Also, Ahmadinejad, Iran's nuclear program, bin Laden at large, Moqtada al-Sadr, Moqtada al-Sadr's militia, Fallujah, renegade mullahs, embedded and/or beheaded journalists, oil revenues, stockpiles of former Soviet armaments, freedom, racism, Halliburton, women's role in Islamic society, the Quran, withdrawing troops, economic disparities, Sikhs, Pakistanis, oil, rebuilding, stories of hope, the Saudi royal family, the Holy Land, insurgents, and the tragedy of Sept. 11th.

In an attempt to increase public support of whatever the fuck it is he thinks he's doing, President Bush trotted out the same old whoop-de-do you've heard over and over at a solemn-yet-resolute speech attended by soldiers, or religious leaders, or firemen, or some mix of ethnic-looking people from one of those countries.

"We have to give this plan time to wop bop a loo bop, a wop bam boom, ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang," President Bush may as well have said. "May God [help/bless/save] the United States of America."