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What if we held a war and nobody came?

July 15, 2006

James Wolcott, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair points us to an insightful view of the currently devolving situation in the Middle East, via No Quarters. He says something a lot of us are afraid to say, or even think, because of our personal feelings about Israel and Anti-Semitism against Jews the world over, or perhaps even our own biases against Muslims as a result of the events of the last 20 years.

“While most folks in the United States buy into the Hollywood storyline of poor little Israel fighting for it’s survival against big, bad Muslims, the reality unfolding on our TV screens shows something else. Exodus, starring Paul Newman, is ancient history.  Hamas and Hezbollah attacked military targets–kidnapping soldiers on military patrols may be an act of war and a provocation, but it is not terrorism.  (And yes, Hezbollah and Hamas have carried out terrorist attacks in the past against Israeli civilians.  I’m not ignoring those acts, I condemn them, but we need to understand what the dynamics are right now.)  Israel is not attacking the individuals who hit their soldiers.  Israel is engaged in mass punishment.

While a lot of people are going to argue, with valid reason, that Israel is engaging in their own little version of the “Powell Doctrine” that you have to teach the buggers a lesson when they do something you don’t like (which is actually just a resurrection of an old military strategy, and of course does not apply to countries with nuclear weapons and such). They smash fleas with boulders. How many do they hit? The author continues:

How did Israel respond?  They bombed civilian targets and civilian infrastructure and have killed many civilians.  Let’s see if I have this right.  The Arab “terrorists” attack military units, destroy at least one tank, and are therefore terrorists.  Israel retaliates by launching aerial, naval, and artillery bombardments of civilian areas and they are engaging in self-defense.  If we are unable to recognize the hypocrisy of this construct then we ourselves are so enveloped by propaganda and emotion that, like the Israelis, Hezbollah, and Hamas, we can’t think rationally.  We can only think in terms of tribalism and revenge.

 So, what’s wrong with that? We went for revenge against al Qaeda after 9/11, turning Afghanistan into a pile of rubble. Well, that didn’t exactly work — it got rid of the Taliban (something Iran’s current leadership chuckled over). As far as striking a blow in the war against terr’, it didn’t seem to do all that much. Remember the hydra.

It’s not that clear what the potential long term damage to the world is at this point. It’s too early to start filling your bunkers with bottled water and canned foods. However, there are signs that things are unravling. Putin is making smart remarks about Cheney. Blair, already on shaky ground at home, sounds more like the rest of the EU than he does Bush’s lapdog, when he calls for a more measured response from Israel.

“Never Again?” HELL no. Yet if there were ever a time for invoking Godwin’s Law, it’s now.

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