Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Folly of Israel

Man, I guess it’s that time of year again. The bloodshed in the Holy Land has been spilling over into news publications for the last two weeks.

I’m not here to take sides as the title to this post might suggest, this he started it / she started it shit is the problem. I’m just pointing out that for all of Israel’s bluster and brute military strength, they’ve really accomplished next to nothing in the last 60 years. Though countless militants have met violent ends, the rockets are still raining and the radical Islamic ideology is as strong as it has ever been.

Which begs the question; after employing the same strategy to solve a problem again and again over the course of 60 years without lasting success, at what point do you admit that it’s not working and try something else?

Hawks instantly fly off the handle when anything other than force is suggested to solve a violent situation. They accuse the diplomatically inclined of being apologists or even terrorists if they’re feeling hyperbolic. If they could hold the Ad hominem attacks and conduct a civil discussion they would learn that of course we all deplore terrorism, any rational person does. The argument is that, in this case, force as a strategy isn’t cutting it.

Look there's is a quick way to gain the moral high ground in the Muslim world and invalidate the Jihadist rhetoric. It’s what the rational voices have been calling for for decades: moving back to pre-1967 borders. The standard argument by Israeli hawks is that conceding this would only embolden the terrorists. What they don’t realize is that their approach lends these radicals credulity in the Muslim world.

I mentioned this in my post about terrorism, but I’ll say it again, it doesn’t matter how sophisticated your arsenal is, you can’t bomb an idea. It must be discredited. We’ve made the same mistake in Afghanistan. It’s employing the wrong tool- if a saw is what’s required for the job, but you have a hammer, it does’t matter how hard you hit the thing you’re not going to get the results that you are looking for. But really that metaphor doesn’t do this situation justice. A better parallel would be trying to extinguish a grease fire with water, thus spreading what you hoped to suppress. Israel’s attacks on a UN run school and a mosque, regardless of the validity of their claim that they were targeting militants, has done nothing but harm their case in the long term.

There’s ample evidence to support the ultimate futility of this strategy. Take Lebanon. In 2006 Israel invaded Lebanon in retaliation for rocket attacks by Hezbollah. In the 33 day war that ensued heavy civilian casualties were sustained. And as a result, now Hezbollah controls the government.

“You can’t solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it”

-Albert Einstein

Some one needs to rise above the tit-for-tat or this will continue ad-infinitum. Now, realistically, who do you think that's going to be; fundamentalist militants whose moral code is 1000 years out of date or a first world country.

edit: It looks as though Israel is acting unilaterally as is their custom. They've declared a cease fire, but refuse to leave Gaza. Well, I guess we're just going to have to wait and see how long this lasts. You can be sure however, that nothing has been accomplished in terms of the PR war. And that this has only fanned the flames of resentment. The prospect of further violence is a matter not of if but when. Unfortunately, this is a situation in which we all lose; the US, moderate Arabs, moderate Jews- pretty much everyone except for Likud the Jihadists.

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