Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gaza: Lesson for Afghanistan

Today it is hard to know how a patriotic person is to act, what a patriot is to do to make the situation better. Consider, for example, the following comments on the Palestinian-Israeli dispute written by two Israelis and published in the Israeli media:

If Hamas thought that lobbing missiles into Israeli civilian neighborhoods was a decent or proportionate response to the grim realities of the occupation, they were wrong. On the other hand, if Israel thinks it can bludgeon the Palestinians into political surrender, or get Hamas - or the Palestinian community at large, for that matter - to acquiesce to military occupation then it, too, is wrong.

There is no military solution to this conflict. Until both sides fully grasp this, the world can expect only continuing violence and vendetta, with civilians on both sides paying the price for leaders who - because of pressure, ambition or hubris - feel that they must do the most damage, fire the last shot or make the most credible threat. Indeed, it is sad, and repellent, to hear military correspondents speak of "teaching a lesson," "increasing pressure," "making a statement," achieving "deterrence," when those they are reporting on are really trying to control the news cycle, or win arguable (and in any case temporary) psychological advantage, by killing, or accepting the deaths of, people at random on the other side.

No tears for dead kids here. These writers are two patriots searching for a practical solution that will leave their country in an improved situation: professional realism that exposes the self-described "realist" decision-makers as over-emotional, bomb-laden amateurs unable to control themselves.

Gaza is a laboratory for running experiments about the Western confrontation with Islam. Now read the above quote again, only this time forget Gaza and Israel. This time, think "Afghanistan and the United States."

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