Here's an interesting concept:
Go in, uninvited, and begin rebuilding shit.
Don't ask permission. Don't let them know you're coming. Just show up with dump trucks, cranes, earth movers, bulldozers, nails, hammers, wood and lots of tools. Look for a dilapidated, shot-to-hell building or house. Then begin fixing it. Make sure that every vehicle is brightly painted with your country's flag, to make it very damn clear just who the hell you are.
What will happen:
Some authority figure or neighborhood citizen will gripe at you, saying that you can't just up and fix stuff. To which should be responded with, "Go ahead, then. Kick us out for rebuilding your country. We're not here to make any demands or ask anything in return. We're just doing some reconstruction. That's all. And at no cost to you, we might add. It's a good-will gesture. You've been through a lot and we're helping. So go ahead and kick us out. You'll end up looking like idiots for turning away people who are helping you with no strings attached." Then turn your back on them and get back to work without another word. This will undoubtedly happen a few times, but keep that response handy. They might even get their military out there and point guns at you while you're raising a roof on someone's destroyed home, but the soldiers holding those guns will be hard-put to want to fire on you for any reason. At the very least, they'll be deeply confused, but they won't shoot because, hell, you're not destroying anything. Another important factor is to sever all (and I do mean all!) political contact with that country- no summit meetings, no televised appearances or handshakes. "We're through talking about this shit. Since you won't rebuild, we will." Yes, I know that it'll piss 'em off, but what're they really gonna do about it?
A house can be built by a team of twenty people in a surprisingly short amount of time- a few days, if they work steadily.
When one place is built, move on to another one- someone's business, another house, a mosque... doesn't matter. If it's broken down into a pile of rubble, find out what it was, get its blueprints and rebuild it. 1-2-3.
And don't ask for anything for your trouble. Just do the work and move on.
If someone makes noise about having to get permission from the UN, here's what you say: "Listen, we've got Iraq ignoring the UN's security resolutions, as well as Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt... hell, every damn country in the Middle East does all but give its finger to the UN. Destruction of an average citizen's property is at an all-time high because of this. So now you gripe about getting permission from the UN to fix and reconstruct these buildings? Are you mad? Tell you what: let us get back to what we're doing and if you want, you can even pitch in and help. But don't tell us to leave on the basis that we haven't gotten permission from an organization your country's leaders consistently ignore anyway. Have a nice day."
The beauty of this concept is that any country can do it. Although, that said, it should be mentioned that the first country to do this should be the United States. The US has pitted so many different regimes against each other that it's become impossible to keep track of it all. The US has a direct hand in at least 80% of the in-fighting that has gone on in the Middle East. The least the US could do is rebuild some of what it has helped to destroy. No explanation is necessary- everyone knows it's true. Just do the work.
To do this takes an absolute lack of giving a shit about what the leaders of whichever country is being reconstructed have to say on the matter. Let the people, the everyday citizens, decide. If there is a war that gets declared simply because some country wants to rebuild some broken-down shit, a revolution will shortly follow and said war will be quickly squelched.
To build a lasting peace in the Middle East is simple: build that which has been torn down. The rest will take care of itself.
Now, I fully expect that many (if not, all) of you will think this is totally ludicrous and naive. It isn't. It's unconventional, unexpected, different and unprecedented, but it most definitely is not naive. It's easy to destroy stuff. It takes some hard work to actually build something. Work is action. Actions speak louder than words. Let a country's actions speak for that country. You want to build a lasting peace? Then physically build something- doing so would speak volumes- and keep your mouth shut about everything else.
Should the military branches be involved in this project?
No. At least, not the fighting branches of the military. No guns, tanks or soldiers should be within sight. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers is perfectly acceptable, but all construction crews should be composed of non-combatants. They don't have to know how to speak any other languages. All they need to know is how to build something. "You can erect a solid wall? And you've never held a gun in your life? Great. You're hired. You'll be on the Jerusalem crew. Ask for Mike, he'll be your foreman. Oh, and don't talk to the locals. Leave that to your foreman."
Will the fighting and destruction continue?
For a time, yes, but pay it no mind. Just keep building shit. Eventually the locals will be so baffled at this that they'll just give up on destroying their own homes and sit back while you rebuild. "What the-? We blew up that building last week and they're rebuilding it already? What gives?"
Will the news networks ask just what the hell is going on?
Yes. Give them the same line: "We're rebuilding shit. That's all. Have a nice day."
Who's going to pay for this? I can answer that one already: the tax-payers. Won't they raise high holy hell about it?
Certainly. They'll scream bloody murder. Don't listen. If the tax-payers are so stupid as to believe that they don't have a responsibility to the rest of the world at-large, then they can go to some other country and try their luck there.
Will other countries demand that theirs is next for rebuilding?
Undoubtedly, yes. Ignore them. At the very least, just tell them that they'll be seen to in due time and don't concede to any demands for priority status. "Beggars can't be choosers," is a good quote to use in this instance. If they balk, let them. Then suggest that they might consider the idea of rebuilding on their own in the meantime.
Who's first on the list of rebuilding?
That's totally irrelevant, but a decent suggestion would be to rebuild the countries that have been seen the most damage- especially if the damage was inflicted by your own country. Again, don't ask for anything in return.
Do we have to rebuild the whole country? That'd take centuries!
No, you don't have to rebuild the entire country. Just rebuild in the areas that need it most- schools, hospitals, libraries, housing areas... you get the hint. Think "civilian". Leave their military and government structures alone unless said structures have a sincere civilian purpose, like courthouses or city halls.
Can this even be done?
Yes. Believe it or not, yes, it can be done. The more important question to ask, though, is: will it be done? That depends on how intelligent some people actually are. Honestly, though, I doubt something like this would ever be implemented.
Why should we do this?
Why not? Peace is constructive, yes? So be constructive and construct something. The alternative, to deconstruct, hasn't gotten us anywhere and has, in fact, been a disaster.
Won't they just destroy it all over again?
They might. They might not. That's not your problem. Actually, to appease the tax-payers, here's what you can do. Make only one condition: "If you guys break this shit again, after we came all the way out here just to rebuild it, we will send you the bill for services rendered. And you can bet that we'll be standing before the UN if that happens."
Will this get downvoted to oblivion?
Probably, but I quit giving a damn about XP a long, long time ago. Someone asked how to build a lasting peace in the Middle East. I've provided a suggestion. If it's too radical a concept for you to grasp, that's not my fault. Downvote this if you don't understand it- though I fail to see how one could not understand the simple, basic concept of rebuilding something. If, on the off chance you don't understand, here's a suggestion: get an Erector Set and see what it's all about. Building shit can be fun.
I would also like to add that PendragnNERO's suggestion is perfectly doable- in its own right. But imagine the effects of both these suggestions put into action at the same time... the world can change, take a hairpin turn on a dime- all it takes is a little imagination and, as hokey as it sounds, a fair amount of hope.
EDITED: March 21, 2007
Upon further consideration, I should point out that simply sending non-combatants into a war-torn area with the single objective to "rebuild", while extremely noble, is also asking several people to sign their death warrants or, at the very least, to subject themselves to various types of abuse or torture. We're all quite familiar, by now, with stories of civillian engineers or technicians being kidnapped for extended periods of time and, in most cases, simply slaughtered.
This is a deplorable scenario and one that I do not, under any circumstances, relish. I could not, in good conscience, ask people to put themselves in harm's way without affording them a way to defend themselves. It's a cruel and tough thing to imagine...
Consider this: Yes, at first people would undoubtedly die in this kind of endeavor. They most certainly would come under attack, possibly even be completely wiped out. DO NOT LET THIS DETER YOU!!! As cruel and maddening as it may seem, I would suggest that throwing even more people at such a massive endeavor is the wisest course of action. Mourn those that we lose. Denounce the evil creatures who would kill them. But don't stop and don't be cowed by fear. Push, hard, with peaceful and unrestrained resilience. Keep rebuilding, no matter how many people are abducted or killed. Keep sending them with the charge to rebuild and reconstruct. Show the world what true martyrdom really is. Set the golden, shining example and light the path towards peace with selflessness and courage. I would do this. I, myself, would enlist to join such a program, if it existed... and if I didn't have a wife and kids to worry about- those three individuals are my sole purpose for living now and I cannot afford, for their sakes, to be so cavalier with my life. But so many yearn for peace even while they fear having families of their own in this hard world... perhaps those people could embrace a courage which might provide a better tomorrow for all peoples?