Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cycle Of Stupidity Continues

News from the Middle East has a distressing propensity to be bad, sometimes predictably bad. As rockets have flown out of Gaza into Israel the only question was the math, how many rockets before Israel struck back and again math, how hard. No nation or its citizens will tolerate rockets raining down on them, they just will not.

Right along side the fact of retaliation is the fact of an oppressed distinct group, that group is distinct in race, religion, and history. Toss into that already volatile mix a territorial dispute and powerlessness and an explosion is in the offing - continually. Matches abound.

There is no argument that Israel does not possess the necessary armament to pound Gaza flat nor is there any argument that Palestinians do not have the necessary equipment to wage war by alternate means. One can get into an uproar about the military means utilized by either party in this conflict, and do so to absolutely no point. Israel is not going to risk its soldiers in a door to door urban conflict trying to root out rocketeers and bombers. Hamas or whatever arm of the Palestinians are not going to obtain tanks, artillery, and aircraft needed for conventional warfare, but they are going to wage war. Talking about this conflict in terms of war making methodology is pointless, it is exactly what it is and it will be that way.

The cycle of stupidity is the expectation that the utilization of force will accomplish an end. The only military solution is the near extermination of one group or the other, or raising the terror level to the point where any action is too terrible to contemplate. Neither group can afford to go in that direction so what they do is play at violence, each side stoking the cycle.

The other day I posted about understanding your neighbor, it is the one route the parties have out of their circle of violence. The problem is that a half century of conflict and the hate and distrust engendered by it prohibit that approach. Neither party will listen to someone who says, "OK, stop pissing them off." Two racist theocracies stare with hatred at each other and each tries to gain an edge. Both factions have polluted the general populace with their mindlessness, to the point that governmental initiatives are quickly undermined by non-governmental authorities and actors. Neither government has control of their populace and Israel has the least excuse for their own situation in that regard. The Palestinians can at least claim a stew of political chaos, economic desperation, and oppression - Israel on the other hand can only stand on a lack of will to control its factions.

A cease fire that stops the violence on each side, a dream in itself, is not even a beginning. That has been the failure over time, it is seen as something in itself that the killing stops for awhile. The killing impulse doesn't stop, it is only frustrated for a time and breaks out once again. Short of the option of the removal of either party, every option has to be on the table and negotiated with an understanding of the driving forces of each population. While there are differences of a cultural nature that may defy empathetic understanding, all are within the realm of reason. While the international community continues to allow either party to behave in unreasonable fashions nothing will happen, their is no sufficient force within either party to institute a policy of reason.

The international factions not only allow the continuation of this stupid cycle, they encourage it. The United States maintains a near knee jerk approval of Israeli behavior and opponents to the US positions anywhere stoke and supply the Palestinians. There is no responsible player in the game, everyone has a gun on the table and cards up their sleeves. The international community claims outrage over each flare of violence and promptly does what it can to encourage their surrogate. Israel and the Palestinians are the proxies and surrogates of players with no real stake in peace in the area, despite all the claims to the contrary. There is not a single government that could not cut off all aid and support to all parties while they engage in stupidity, but not one of them shows any willingness to do so. The factions on both sides that stand to profit from violent activity are rewarded by someone internationally. That has to cease if anything reasonable is to happen.

8 comments:

Zak Johnson said...

Be interesting to see how the next Israeli election turns out. This seems to have been a well-planned operation so far (unlike the Lebanon fiasco last time.) Hopefully this will shore up the left within Israel enough to win a clear majority in the upcoming elections. There is an unfortunately strong segment in Israeli society that is not opposed to completely wiping out the Palestinians. An Isareli cabinet member (since assassinated) has even advocated turning off the water to make the Palestinians either die or leave. Nasty strain of politics, that.

If the left does win in February, they need to get serious about implementing the two-state (or maybe three-state at this point) strategy and permanently smacking down the "settlers" who keep on grabbing land while the world talks itself blue in the face. I think it was Machiavelli who said a man will forgive for destroying his father but not his fortune. Something like that. The path to peace has been obvious since the Camp David talks under Carter, the will just isn't there.

Tom Carter said...

Chuck, I think you too readily compare Israel and the Palestinians as equally culpable. In particular, I disagree with this statement:

Two racist theocracies stare with hatred at each other and each tries to gain an edge. Both factions have polluted the general populace with their mindlessness, to the point that governmental initiatives are quickly undermined by non-governmental authorities and actors.

Israel is not a "racist theocracy" by any reasoning. The Israeli government, which is not a "faction," has not polluted its populace with "mindlessness." There are no "non-governmental authorities and actors" like Hamas and other terrorist factions among the Palestinians, which are supported by other Muslim countries.

I also don't think there's a "cycle of violence" here. This is a process of terrorist attacks and defense against those attacks. There is one simple fact that is often overlooked by those who apologize for the Palestinians: When Palestinian terrorists stop trying to murder Israeli citizens, Israel will stop taking violent action against Palestinian terrorists.

A horrible consequence of all this is the deaths that result to civilians in Israel and the Palestinian territories. However, there's a big and important difference. Israeli civilians are the primary targets of Palestinian terrorist attacks, while Palestinian civilians are killed because of their proximity to the cowardly terrorists who live and hide among them.

A viable cease-fire would be nice, leading to the creation of a stable, non-violent Palestinian state that would be satisfied to live in peace next to Israel. I have very little confidence that will happen anytime soon, primarily because the Palestinians don't want it to happen. Their goal, the same goal supported by most of the Arab and Muslim world, is the destruction of Israel and the removal, preferably by death, of Jews from the region.

The United States must continue to support Israel and assist in its defense as needed, both because it's in the national interest of the U.S. to do so and, perhaps more importantly, it's the moral thing to do. President-elect Obama has given every indication that he will continue to support Israel, and I hope he will.

Chuck Butcher said...

Israel is not a racist theocracy? In which election were the theocrats marginalized? In what time frame do Arab Israelis have exactly the same right as Jewish Israelis? What exactly is "a Jewish state"?

What are the illegal settlers? There are plenty of examples of NGO murder of Arabs by Israelis.

I don't care about parity of badness in this, it is immaterial, both have blood all over their hands. Why would either side move toward the other?

The actual interests of the citizenry in both are not served. Someone's interest is being served, that point should never be forgotten. It would take a lot of pages to show who gains and why, but some are really obvious.

Arab nations with repressed populations have an outside focus for rage. Industrial nations have obviously - oil - as an interest. for me to try to show by points and routes all the competing interests would exceed by a large factor my readers' patience.

I don't know of a particular analysis that looks at all of it, there seem to be a bunch trying to justify their own "side" in it.

I have no particular dog in this fight, I dislike both of their policies and have no trust for either government.

Proximity is a military concept regarding collateral damage and it is also a terror technique which both organized military and NGOs use. What degree of separation is required to justify one over the other? The entire point in military force is to make opposition terrifyingly dangerous, whether you wear a uniform or not.

I am not a pacifist, but I refuse to get in the game of prettifying warfare. A human being with explosives strapped to him is simply a cheap inefficient "smart" bomb. Since the Palestinians don't have aircraft and tanks and artillery they are supposed to roll over? Well an Israeli would like to think so, a Palestinian wouldn't agree. Israel is supposed to tolerate rockets?

Tom Carter said...

I agree with the last paragraph of your comment. However, the problem of dealing with Israeli-Arab (and Iranian) conflict issues from a policy standpoint is that the U.S. does have a dog in this fight. Israel is our ally and our friend, in national terms, and they are engaged in what will apparently be a perpetual struggle for their very survival. For the U.S. to be neutral (which isn't possible) or to stop supporting Israel will mean their extermination. The bottom line is, sometimes you have to make a choice. For me, that isn't at all difficult in this case.

Chuck Butcher said...

Israel is what it is, a nation, with its own agenda. Where it matches ours, we're allies and friends, where it doesn't there is another queation.

Israel is a nuclear power, I'm having a real difficult time with this survival of Israel argument. Toss in the fact that everybody knows that we are not going to stand still for the extinction of Israel...

Forty years ago it was pretty easy to make the argument about Israel's survival, today?

Kevin said...

I have to disagree with almost all of Tom's premise arguments.

Israel is not a "racist theocracy" by any reasoning.

Try emigrating to Israel without any Jewish ancestory. It can't be done because it's not allowed. Additionally, Rabbinical groups have legal authority on several issues dealing with Jewish law.

The Israeli government, which is not a "faction," has not polluted its populace with "mindlessness."

They are a faction. Some of the ultraorthodox groups to this day refuse to aknowledge the legitimacy of the ostensibly secular government. Those same ultraorthodox enjoy both legal and cultural rights which are flatly denied to Israeli Arabs who refuse to aknowledge the legitimacy of the Israeli government.

There are no "non-governmental authorities and actors" like Hamas and other terrorist factions among the Palestinians, which are supported by other Muslim countries.

Again I would point out the same ultraorthodox groups who reject the authority of the elected government. Some of these groups are well-armed and willingly engage in violence - both against Palestinians (which is routinely ignored by the government/IDF) and against any governmental arm (usually the IDF) which interferes with them in the West Bank.

Oh, and those same ultraorthodox Jews are all exempt from the othewise obligatory military service in the same IDF which punishes Palestinians who don't meekly accept the outright theft of their lands and dignity by those same ultraorthodox Jews.

There is one simple fact that is often overlooked by those who apologize for the Palestinians: When Palestinian terrorists stop trying to murder Israeli citizens, Israel will stop taking violent action against Palestinian terrorists.

Which means status quo. And what is the status quo for Palestinians? The West Bank continues to be carved up while also allegedly being subject to negotiation. The status quo offers Palestinians a "sovereign" homeland that is a patchwork quilt of isolated lands not desireable enough for settlers to have already siezed and utterly at the mercy of Israel for almost everything including movement between the various "soveriegn" islands.

Zak Johnson said...

"The West Bank continues to be carved up while also allegedly being subject to negotiation." That is correct.

Israel isn't the only example of apartheid in the world by a long shot, but let's be honest about what a country set up for the benefit and political empowerment of one group exclusively is.

I gotta agree with Chuck--Israel is an ally, not a state. Where our interests don't overlap we should heed to old advice of George Washington and not let our affections for foreign nations cloud our judgment of our own interests. Same with Ireland and any number of other "special relationships" we seem to get tangled up in for no particular benefit to ourselves.

Chuck Butcher said...

So I'm as clear as possible, I have no desire to see Israel come to harm, but neither do I countenance backing them when they act like complete assholes - and they do. And, so do the Palestinians, which was kind of the point of the post.

It is doubtful that either actor would continue without the backing of outside States and in the face of their economic and political sanctions. Not only is international will lacking, there is at least nearly deliberate behavior to continue the "stand off."