Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Western Way of War

EXCERPT: Tel Aviv seems on schedule to eliminate the administration of Gaza and smash Gaza as a functioning society. Assuming this occurs, what are the implications...for al Qua'ida, Egyptian stability, Israeli security, politics in Palestine, and the moral integrity of the 21st century?

TEXT: Gaza Update:

A Palestinian woman and her four children were killed in a recent Israeli air strike in Gaza, and more Palestinian civilians are being killed by the hour as the Israeli Army continues its air strikes and ground offensive against the residents of Gaza. At least 577 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed and more than 2,700 wounded.

Israel's efficient mopping up of terrorists continues. No, this is not al Qua'ida or the Nazis in Warsaw. This is the modern Western way of war. The victims are, after all, guilty. They are guilty of supporting the only political organization willing to stand up for them. They are guilty of trying to break out of the concentration camp into which they have been locked by Israel. They are guilty of smuggling in food and, shock!, weapons. Imagine - Arabs fighting for their lives...with weapons! They are of course also guilty of staying in the concentration camp to which they have been confined despite Israel's warning that they should leave to avoid being bombed...leave your homes but don't go to churches (dens of terrorists, you know) or schools (also fair targets). And you certainly won't be allowed to go to Egypt (remember the bulldozed border crossing that is now safely guarded by Egyptian forces?). Go, I guess, to the beach; you can take pictures of the F-16s saving democracy from there.

OK, I'm finished. No more sarcasm will be expressed in this post; no more tears will be shed. I do have a question, though: What does this mean for the rest of the world?

Is this the final insult to the world by the outgoing war administration in Washington?

Can "only-one-president-at-a-time" Obama restore his neatly destroyed integrity? Let's see, what exactly does "only one president at a time" mean? Does it mean "only one dictator at a time," so therefore no one else is allowed to have an opinion? Does it mean that if the "only president" at the time happens not to be leading, that the country must just stand around feeling innocent while those terrorist women and children in their homes and schools and mosques get bombed? (In case someone's SDM* just beeped, no, that was not sarcasm. It was a serious question. I want to know what it means for American democracy when a president-elect feels he cannot express outrage at barbaric behavior by an ally armed to the teeth with American weapons.)

* SDM = Sarcasm Detection Meter

Rather than the final insult to the world from a failed administration, is this the beginning of the promised "change" of the incoming administration? Is the destruction of human societies who dare to talk back now the official policy of the West toward opponents? Allow me to explain that question. Israel is, if we take it at its official word and give it many, many benefits of the doubt, not trying to commit genocide. (It just looks that way.) Israel is trying to lop off the governing structure of Gaza - the officials, the police, the bureaucracy...everyone representing any sort of order and normal functioning of government.

Let us suppose that they succeed. May I be so rude as to ask who will govern after the brave boys of Israel go back to their nice middleclass homes paid for by U.S. taxpayers? I am not even going to bother asking who will prevent disease and starvation. Who will prevent the rise of evil terrorists?

Aside from the horror of what is happening to actual, living human beings, the problem here, that even Tel Aviv and Washington decision-makers ought to be able to understand, is that destruction of a society is not a solution to anything. Genocide...actual genocide in which everyone ends up dead...is a solution in theory. Certain Germans and Cambodians and Rwandans attempted to implement the theory. Not once was even that found to resolve anything in practice. And we have already conceded, at least for the purposes of argument, that literal genocide is not the Israeli goal. But clearly the destruction of Gaza as a functioning society is the goal, so it is fair to wonder exactly what the implications of that are. We are talking about 1,495,500 people here (estimated Gaza population of 1,500,000 minus the estimated 500 so far killed.)

Given the utter smashing of any ability of anyone to do anything in Gaza, what are the implications for, say, al Qua'ida? What is a boy in Gaza to do? (Note: there are lots of boys; half the population of Gaza is children.) Will Israel need a policy of taking every manchild...No, let's not go there. Back to the question - who will, let us say, "discipline" wayward youths?

What are the implications for the popularity of Fatah? Surely, at this point, Fatah can hardly hope to compete in any remotely democratic Palestinian election. Sure, it has the (Israeli) guns. But Palestine had a rather impressively democratic election in 2006. Exactly what does Israel expect the result to be of propping up a discredited, humiliated Fatah? Assuming that Hamas simply vanishes from the earth, something will emerge to fill the political vacuum in Palestine, and I am just guessing that Israel will not like it when they see it.

What are the implications for the stability of, say, Egypt? Perhaps none at all...sometimes, to an outsider, Arabs really don't seem to care much about each other. But there may be a limit to this looking the other way.

How many Somalias can we afford? Yes, I know, Somalia is different: Somalia does not have a wall around it. Nevertheless, the similarity bothers me, somehow. I mean, people may not be able to get out of Gaza, but people will go in, won't they? Won't they take pictures and tell stories? Won't word of conditions get out? Won't that have some effect on anyone?

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