Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Return of Politics, or...

"The Stupidity of a Sentimental Foreign Policy".

So the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs are at it again, doing what they do best; battering the snot out of each other. Mind you, it's not exactly the Battle of the Bulge, or Soviets against Nazis at Kursk. This is more like a couple of big-ass Castro Street drag queens squaring off.

Lots of slapping and hair-pulling and screeching. A couple of busted press-on nails. Scratches and even a bite or three.

But both combatants will walk - or strut - or swish - away. In fact, both sides are getting exactly what they want out of this. Hamas gets cred for being the baddest Koran-wallopers in the southeastern Levant, cocking a snook at the Big Evil Jewish Entity and knee-walking away. Israel's government, suffering from a bad case of Little Man's Disease, gets to hang some Arab skins on the kibbutz barn and look all badass, too.

Of course, a couple of hundred women, kids, cripples, old people, house pets and the odd combatant have been rendered into bloody rags, but, hell, you can't make a religious state omlette without breaking some infidel eggs, right? And besides, if they didn't want to be killed, why were they born there?No, as far as this old soldier is concerned, getting worked up about Jews and Arabs fighting over the craptacular Palestinian desert is like staying up nights worrying about whether your kid is masturbating. So what? There's clean sheets in the cupboard, they pretty much do it because they enjoy it, and it's gonna happen whether you stress about it or not.

What DOES bug me is the degree to which my country is all bollixed up by our connections to this moronic catfight. First, the required disclaimer: I find Hamas as loathesome as any of these "built with bloody hands" former guerilla-group governments. They rank right up there with Sinn Fein, with the Tamil Tigers, as a bunch of people I wouldn't invite to my daughter's quinceanera party. But, then again, my country doesn't fund or otherwise support them.Israel is a different plate of matzo altogether. The U.S. foreign policy is fucked up like a football bat where Israel is concerned, and I can't help but get exasperated enough at times like these to point it out.Specifically:

1. Israel is a geopolitically and strategically useless "ally" for the U.S. to get all sweaty about*. Maybe not as useless as Andorra or the Grenadines, but more useless than Panama or South Africa. All the U.S. needs out of the southeastern Mediterranean is:
a. Passage through Suez choke-point. That's an Egypt deal - Israel can't do anything but bugger it up, and
b. A relative lack of conflict, or some semblance of stability in the region. Between Israel and their Arab neighbors we haven't had that for sixty years.
Israel is a nice little Western-like democracy in a place where democracy and Westernism are rare. That in itself makes Israel pleasant, like a fluffy pussycat. But when you add in all the fights, the prickly disposition and the tendency to urinate all over to mark it's territory...this kitty bites. How about a nice goldfish instead?2. As detailed above, the U.S. doesn't "need" Israel for anything. Their appeal and the reason we consider them an "ally" is purely sentimental. We "like" them because they're American-looking, they're modern and Western. We think they look like "us" (instead of the Arabs, who look like "them"). Well. Sentiment is a bad master for policy, or most of anything else outside of love and marriage, for that matter.3. Our reflexive support of Israel, on the other hand, invariably costs us with the Arab states and stateless organizations in the Middle East. Costs us militarily, costs us polically, costs us economically. There is no real reason that the U.S. needs to be an active enemy of the Arab states. We need petroleum, which is fungible and will be sold to the highest bidder - us, if that's the case. And we need passage through several geostrategic choke points dominated by Islamic nations: the Strait of Tiran, and the Sunda Strait, and the Red Sea.That's all.

Beyond that, we should be able to let the Arab nations go their own way. If they want alliance we can ally with them, if it's in our interests. If they harm or otherwise attack us, as the Afghans did (or let happen) in 2001, or the Libyans did in 1805, then we can fight them. But there is no real fundamental reason we need to be in a state of permanent low-level war with them.

And that's it. We have no reason to subsidize, arm or otherwise bankroll the Israelis. And by doing so it makes them our cat in this idiotic catfight.
*(And I don't even want to go into the whole issue of Israel's "right" to exist, who "owns" the land between the Jordan and the Med, and why Israel is even there to begin with. I'm reading something called "A Peace To End All Peace" and the take-away lesson is the appalling combination of ignorance, hubris, racism, greed, bad faith, and stupiditythat it took between the Brits, French, Ottomans, Jews and Arabs to arrive at a Jewish state in the Levant in 1948. Israel, IMO, has exactly the same "right" that the Palestinian Arabs have: the right to whatever they can claw out with their hands and brains. We and the Brits were idiots to encourage the early Zionists to continue to filibuster Palestine. If we wanted to give the Jews a state we already had one bunker for religious nuts in Utah, so, what, Nevada was too good for them? And the Brits had no business giving Palestine to anyone; it wasn't theirs to begin with. But once on the ground, the Jews fought and fought well.A little too well. Now they're stuck with a bunch of territory they can't digest and won't spit out. If we and they were honest the alternatives would be simple. They can genocide the Arabs and take the land, daring all comers to compare them with the great monsters of the past - become the Mongols of the 21st Century. Or they can retreat to the 1967 Green Line borders, fort up and wait for the Arabs to get bored. Or fight each other. Or find a Saladin who will unite them and drive the Jews into the sea. Or reach a modus vivendi with them.

Whatever. That's their - and SHOULD be their - problem. In my studied opinion, the U.S. should have no more intimate association with Israel than we have with any other geopolitically useless state, than we do with Paraguay or Tonga or Sikkim.)
And yet, here we are, again, watching the two screaming nancies battle it out to be Queen Bitch of the Arid Dunghill of the Levant. And cringe at the bloodyhanded insanity. And turn our heads and pretend we didn't see, or that once again we end up looking like the hulking brother of the little bully with all that implies for our standing in the wider world opinion. And wonder, again, what bad cess we will receive as a result of it.

Update 1/3: Here's Glenn Greenwald pointing out the freakish effect this stuff has on American politics:
"Ultimately, what is most notable about the "debate" in the U.S. over Israel-Gaza is that virtually all of it occurs from the perspective of Israeli interests but almost none of it is conducted from the perspective of American interests. American opinion-making elites march forward to opine on the historical rights and wrongs of the endless Israeli-Palestinian territorial conflict with such fervor and fixation that it's often easy to forget that the U.S. is not actually a direct party to this dispute." (emphasis mine)
This is bad - bad for Israel, bad for the Arab states, and especially bad for the U.S. It is very probable that there is no solution for Israel's troubles with its neighbors other than the Roman, Norman or Mongol one - to exterminate the brutes. But this is NOT a requirement for the U.S., and to be a party to it will make us a byword and a hissing in the non-Jewish parts of southwest Asia for generations. We should really be thinking about this, and the way the U.S. government works we are not.

And that's not a good thing.

Update 1/5: Here's a good example of the "debate" regarding the U.S./Israel relationship over at National Journal. It's worth looking at all five essayists' responses. Note that, of the five, the one who has actual experience dealing with Israel, COL Patrick Lang (of the blog Sic Semper Tyrannis), is the most scathing. No, he says, Israel is an essentially worthless, sentimental choice by the U.S. And the most hypertrophic Israel partisan? The usual Heritage foundation hack (in this case, Jim Carafano). Of the remaining three, Bruce Hoffman of Georgetown pens an utterly useless capriole of nonsense about how Israel is so cool and democratic and its intelligence service is SO awesome (this, mind you, right below Lang's essay - and Lang worked in military intel - where Lang says that Israeli intel ain't all that) and gosh, the Israelis are SO like us. Dov Zakheim shows why the Bush Defense Department was such a fucking disaster by making his point that U.S. support for Israel shows our "commitment", and besides, Iran! Booga! Booga! Scary! And Mike Scheuer tells the Israelis to go piss up a rope.

Honestly. It'd make you cry if it didn't make you weep...

Update 1/7: In the comments section Lisa asked about John Bolton's "Three State Solution". I made some offhand comments about how this canard gets thrown up by the usual wingnuts every time the Jews and Arabs start bashing each other and some of the reasons it doesn't work. Well, here's Marc Lynch doing a MUCH better job of explaining why John Bolton is, fundamentally, a tool. Oh, and while we're on the subject: here's Lynch reporting a disturbing meeting with Israel's U.S. Ambassador where Meridor comes as close to actually admitting that Israel has no clue what the long-term plan for Gaza is as he can without actually saying so. Ezra Klein chimes in with an assessment that either a) Meridor is talking fact and the Israelis HAVE no actual strategy, or b) Meridor is talking smack because their strategy is so nasty (killing Arabs until the Arabs give up in horror) or so skeevy (killing Arabs to boost Kadima at the ballot box, or to make Israelis feel better about themselves after the Lebanon debacle in 2006) that, in the words of Jack Nicholson, "we can't handle the truth!"

Either way, this is starting to look ever more lame.

23 comments:

pluto said...

Well said, as usual. Sums up my opinions exactly.

The only thing you missed is that Israel has the "nuclear option" of several million US Jewish voters who might vote against a candidate or a party and that gives them WAY more political clout than you'd expect.

Israel is in a strategically awful situation. They are more or less in the position of the "Frankish" Crusader States of the 14th and 15th Centuries.

They can dominate on the battlefield but they can't keep Arab zealots from sneaking over the border and messing with the sheep. The Arabs start viewing this as a test of manhood (or faith or whatever) and won't ever stop doing it because it's relatively cheap and fun.

Ancient desert warfare (before airplanes, tanks, and CNN) was all about two things:
1) Quietly messing with the other guy's resources (poisoning the wells, killing the camels, raiding the sheep)
2) Enduring everything he throws at you
Until he gets frustrated, pulls up his tent stakes, and goes somewhere else.

Every time the Israelis start using air, armor, or artillery they draw attention to themselves and draw the condemnation of the world (except the US). Some day somebody in the White House is going to make the decision that the Israelis aren't worth it and cut them off and then the game will be over with another Arab victory.

The only really logical response in the modern world is for the Israelis to start doing the same thing to the Arabs using the same weapons. But that would make them the same as the Arabs and not a be pro-Western state and that carries its own consequences that will likely lead to destruction.

Either way, Israel will only exist as a pro-Western democracy as long as the US stays sentimental. What a terrible position to be in.

Lisa said...

Publius,

Yes, Israel is an absolutely terrible position. As Chief says, from an absolutely pragmatic position, our needs are oil, and we will buy from any comer. Israel doesn't have oil, and the oil sellers don't like Israel.

We claim our motivations are strictly pragmatic. If they are ever humanitarian, there is pragmatism in that, too.

Israel exists by virtue of a UN mandate, which also sought to define a Palestinian state at the same time, except the Palestinians had no honest brokers with which to come to the table. Israel has the same right to exist that any other country does.

So we're all behind The Greatest Generation's liberation of the Death Camps and the destruction of Hitler's rapacious machine, but when the Jews are no longer being herded to their deaths, we should turn a blind eye to their dilemma when the next comers try to drive them into the sea?

The U.S. does seem a bit hypocritical on such matters. Either we morally and ethically support those who would be exterminated, or we are strictly self-interested pragmatists on the world stage.

How comfortable will we be when the Arab countries dispense with the "Little Satan" (Israel), and then have only to confront the "Big Satan" (the U.S.)?

FDChief said...

Pluto: I have to agree with you about the long-term prospects for Israel. Add to that the demographics of the southwestern Levant: the Arabs there are simply outbreeding the Jews.

The thing about it all is, there really is only one realistic option for the Israelis - they have to, as the Romans would have said - make a desert and call it peace. Both they and the Arabs want the same thing in the same place. And simple physics would suggest that two objects can't occupy the same place at the same time.

Israel's REAL problem is that it lives in the 21st Century, when going all Mongol isn't applauded by Western sensibilities. But I have no doubt that if the Israelis decided to do a Timurid thing on their Arab neighbors it'd be over in a couple of years, and then they could thumb their nose at us for the next couple of generations.

The whole situation is a bloody mess, and the U.S. would be better off well out of it.

Lisa: You'e hit on the crux of our problem; we ARE the "Big Satan" nd there's almost no undoing our "deviltries" in the minds of many Arabs.

I have no problem abandoning the Israelis to their fates. They're grown-ups (at least the leaders who decided that the Jewish state needed to be in the biblical Judea and their successors who fought to keep it there) and they and their people have made the political decisions that put them where they are today. As an American I care about my own nation and its fate; the fates of others are and should be their own concern.

BUT...at this point, were Israel to be overrun by a finally-victorious Arab coalition, the removal of Israel as an irritant would be nearly irrelevant to the enmity that the US/Israel-vs-Arab conflict has generated. The bin Ladenites and their ilk would still be sharpening their knives for us.

So the options for the U.S. at this point seem to be:

1. Drop Israel as an active ally but continue to face a consistant low-level political insurgent and guerilla/terrorist activity from Arab sources in the ME, or

2. Continue to back Israel as an active ally and continue to face a consistant low-level political insurgent and guerilla/terrorist activity from Arab sources in the ME.

Back at the old Intel Dump we had an acronym to express this situation:

WASF

"We Are SO Fucked".

basilbeast said...

Matthew 26:

52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

There's an Israeli movie that's been out for a couple of months, Waltz with Bashir. Just in time for the latest Israeli smack-down on Hamas, radical Palestinians, and whoever else wanders into their gunsights.

There's a video of an Israeli missile attack on some fellows loading missiles into a pickup truck, but unfortunately for the workers involved, the missiles turned out to be welding gas canisters.

Using the "sword" has always been iffy at best, being double-edged and all, but there are certainly times it is needed.

BUT, and it's a big BUT, there's always a background, a story that leads up to the use of the sword. All have sinned, and one of the money quotes that made Battlestar Galactica an intelligent and very watchable series:

It isn’t enough to survive. We have to be worthy of surviving.”
—Adm. Bill Adama, Battlestar Galactica


It's my belief that Israel has far too often used the easy way out, by using their military way out of proportion to the threat. I'm not talking about their conflicts with the Egyptian and Syrian military in the 60s.

They have not been good neighbors. They have allowed death, starvation, oppression, all sorts of misery to exist on their borders. They have not tried to establish good relationships with good people among their neighbors, not consistently or adequately supported and fostered them.

They have double-dealed, double-crossed, mistreated their neighbors, maliciously meddled in their politics.

Their sledge hammer tactics have not won them much security. Their occupation of southern Lebanon helped to produce Hizbollah, their meddling in Palestinian politics, with help from Bush & Rice, produced Hamas.

Israel has not acted responsibly with the firepower we have given them, maybe it's time to see if they can survive on wits, morality and good character, which the Jewish people have employed admirably to survive for centuries.

As for the Palestinians, corruption, factional leadershipm misuse of what support they do get, although it is a bit difficult to get one's act together in the face of the dispossession of land and family by a very powerful neighbor and her super-power ally. I do think that they can accomplish quite a bit by simply foregoing the "Death to Israel" motto and recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

As for the US, George Washington in his farewell address specifically warned against favoring one nation or group of people in foreign policy considerations over another.

I completely despise Bush & his lackey Rice for what they did in the recent Lebanon conflict and now continue to do in Gaza.

It's too bad the Israelis couldn't follow the example of the British in dealing with the IRA. It might have worked.

As it is now, I think that the only thing that could work is something similar to the situation in Yugoslavia. Disarm the region and cram the Holy Land with foreign military.

Seeing that it might be difficult to disarm the IDF, offer them a place in the security apparatus or complete shut-down of the arms and supply spigot.

I caught Margaret McMillan on C-SPAN yesterday, discussing her book "Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World", with Brian Lamb, from an interview in 2002. It could be that Europe owes the area some, for a lack of a better term, "guidance".

Maybe God could spare a few legions of angels.
.

Lisa said...

basilbeast,

Does your comment on Israel "using their military way out of proportion to the threat" remind you of anyone else? (And that someone else shares no geopolitical similarities to the dire daily situation faced by their Israeli comrades.)

Chief,

Thanks for defining your excellent acronym, "WASF".

Ael said...

With the advent of nuclear weapons, the world cannot afford war. We really have to develop an instinctual adherence to international law (with all its warts).

Otherwise, one of these days, we are going to heap destruction upon ruin.

This is what is bad about declaring a pox on both their houses and walking away from them. The world is no longer big enough to let these bleeding ulcers fester.

Like it or not, we have to replace war, war with jaw, jaw.

FDChief said...

basil: The book I referenced in the post spells out just how f'ed up the European nations were about Palestine and how it helped contribute to the current mess.

IMO Israel has always been bad at long-term thinking. They remind me of the French First Empire; they do what they know, which is fight and fight and win. What they don't know and show little interest in figuring out is how to win without fighting.

They have reached a modus vivendi with Egypt and Jordan. Syria is impotent and Lebanon a cypher. But the Palestinian Arabs are a problem without a solution. They want exactly the same thing the Israelis want; the land. Israel really has only three choices. Genocide. Permanent ocupation and apartheid. Or assmilation and eventual submergence under a rising tide of Arab fertility.

I don't see a good ending. That's why I recommend we disengage from the states and the process. There can be no peace between Israel and the Pals - only victory and extermination, for one side or the other.

Ael: you're right, except I believe (as I discussed above) that there is no middle ground to jaw about. Israel and Palestine both want the same thing at the same time. The physics just won't work. They're just fucked, and trying to hammer the Pals into an Israeli "solutio" will fuc us along with them.

basilbeast said...

Chief, I can't disagree with what you wrote, other than your comments concerning Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

There have been popular demonstrations in Egypt and Jordan. Mubarak's reign is coming to an end and can his boy continue his family's leadership? I don't know enough about Hussein of Jordan to know if he's safe, but I have heard some rumbling of dissent. Some of the violence stirred up in Iraq has spilled into Jordan, plus the flood of refugees from Iraq into her neighbors is bound to stress something, somehow.

Will Hizbollah move against Israel or sit quietly?

Lisa, ten years ago I was the typical clueless American, fed the usual typical crap by my environment and the quality of news reporting available to me.

When Bush 2 was elected, ( I did vote for Gore and for both Clinton terms ) I thought he'd do OK, we were at peace, what could go wrong. It was my opinion that Bush 1, Powell and Schwartzkopf should've finished the job when they had the chance in the first Gulf War.

Not exactly clueless, as I have alway been well-read, kept up with the news, but that's my background.

The internet, the events at the turn of this century, Bush himself, and some other things, all shot my preconceptions to hell. There's more to it than that, but I want to keep this short. A large part of it was due to I-D.

Really.

I still have that emotional attachment to Israel that I think you do, but I do not see how the security of that state will be improved by their actions in Gaza. It's a continuation of the political shenanigans and whack-a-mole military actions they have done over the past several years, which have yet to succeed, that is, if such actions ever can.

It's so strange, that both sides in this conflict claim Abraham as their father. All this damage caused by a menage a trois.

.

Lisa said...

basilbeast,

"I do not see how the security of that state will be improved by their actions in Gaza" -- Israel will never be secure. Sadly, it seems brute force is the only thing that works (temporarily). When the Palestinians were offered 99% of the land at the Oslo accords and Arafat declined, it was obvious that winning land is not as preferable as fighting the Jews.

Tom Friedman asked something to the effect, how do you deal with people who love killing more than they do ensuring the safety of their own children?

FDChief said...

Lisa: "Tom Friedman asked something to the effect, how do you deal with people who love killing more than they do ensuring the safety of their own children?"

I think wehave to be careful here not to attribute the mores of a demon to people who do demonic things. I don't think that the Arab residents of Hebron or Gaza wake up in the morning and think "What a great day to kill some innocent people!"

I'm sure that they'd love to see their children safe. But think of it a different way: let's say you were living in Sarasota when a travelling band of Haitians swarmed ashore from their hired boats, drove you out of your home, killed your uncle and destroyed your town. Then, when you fled to a sourgrass prairie out near Panama City they offered you a deal: if you agreed to live peaceably alongside them, they'd let you live in your walled compound on the 20% of Florida they left you full of kudzu, chinch bugs and mosquitoes, and do menial work for them.

Would you think "Well, we may be desperately poor and unlikely to be anything but, but at least my kids are safe."?

Or would you think "Goddam you bastards, I'll kill every one of you I can until you kill me or I regain my land."?

This is why I say that by this time there's no way out for the Israelis and the Pals short of genocide. If the Zionists had come ashore in 1048 or 1548 instead of 1948 they could have simply killed the men, impregnated the women and fostered the children so that within two generations the very idea of "Palestine" would have been as much a reverie as "Saxon England" is today, or "Seminole Florida".

But short of that, why should an Arab former resident of Jaffa or Tel Aviv just stop fighting and killing so his "children can be safe".

Would you?

FDChief said...

And I should add that the very horror of the comment I wrote above convinces me that as a sensible citizen of the United States I want nothing to do with either side. It's like knowing that both your brother and your brother-in-law are determined to join the People's Temple and move to Jonestown. I'll pass on the Kool-Ade, thanks...

Lisa said...

What do you think of the "Three-State Option:" proposed by John Bolton in the WaPo, making Egypt and Jordan come on board with the dirty Palestinian problem they'd rather wall off:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401434.html?wpisrc=newsletter&wpisrc=newsletter

FDChief said...

Lisa: Bolton's idea isn't exactly sprung from Jove's forehead. And every time it's been tried before it has foundered on the realities that:

1. The Egpytians are already panicked over their domestic Islamic nuts (the Muslim Brotherhood). More of the same they don't want.

2. Same-same Jordan, with the added caveat that there is an old and longstanding "Jordanian-Jordanians vs. Palestinian-Jordanians" fight.

3. The Pals have had sixty years to identify themselves not as Egyptians or Jordanians but as Palestinians. The only way to change this is to kill all the "Palestinians" over six years old and foster the kids as Egyptians or Jordanians.

Admittedly, the smart thing to do would have been for the U.S. to have jumped in in '67 and forced a settlement: Gaza to Egypt, West Bank to Jordan, Golan to Syria, a HUGE cash settlement to the displaced Pals in return for formally recognizing Israel in it's pre-67 (Green Line) borders and a regional peace treaty. Problem was that Cold War rivalries, Arab intransigence and - the part we don't like to admit - Israeli land-greed (they wanted to KEEP the Sinai, East Jerusalem and the Golan) put the kibosh to it.

I keep trying to think of a way out of this Middle Eastern finger-trap and just can't. ISTM that our only choices are to pick one side and get all Warsaw Ghetto on them, or get out altogether.

FDChief said...

The other things that the Bolton plan elides are:

1. None of the parties involves trusts each other. Israel will not accept Jordanian or Egyptian troops along their borders, nor will the two Arab states be quiescent about having the IDF along theirs. The Israeli-Egyptian border has stayed quiet because the MFO is between them. Any arrangement such as the one Bolton proposes will founder without serious, armed foreign troops securing the borders.

2. Likewise, Israel is too convenient for regional bad actors like the mullahs in Tehran, the MB, Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. to pound on and incite trouble for a simple three-state solution to work. What this would need to have even a ghost of a chance is something like Pat Lang's "Concert for A Greater Middle East", where everyone gets a stake in the solution.

3. Settlements. Gotta go. Israel won't like that and it can't do it, politically, unless WE strongarm them. Trade 'em for cash, or Pals "right of return" or something.

Lisa said...

"Problem was that Cold War rivalries, Arab intransigence and - the part we don't like to admit - Israeli land-greed (they wanted to KEEP the Sinai, East Jerusalem and the Golan) put the kibosh to it."

Right. And I can't blame the Israelis for wanting to keep those lands, won in wars of aggression upon them. We'd do the same.

It's such a tragic, intractable problem -- anti-Semitism and Islamic militarism. The Christian Right only wants to prop Israel up so it can one day fall, fulfilling the Christian's idea of Armageddon. It's all pretty perverse and insane.

Imagine a world with no Jews: then it's the full brunt of Muslim ire against the U.S. And a tremendous loss of comedians, good films, scientists and Nobel Prize winners.

A world with no Palestinians for the Islamists to incite, what might that look like? Does anyone imagine these different scenarios, or do they just fight?

FDChief said...

"Right. And I can't blame the Israelis for wanting to keep those lands, won in wars of aggression upon them. We'd do the same."

Blaming or not blaming them isn't the point, really. It bollixed up any chance they might have had to settle down in their neighborhood. So as a long-term strategy, it was as foolish as our wanting permanent bases in Iraq - it led them (and us) into overextending them(our)selves.

Like I said; the REAL problem with Israel is that it's 2008 not 1008. Back in the day the Israelis would have been able to go all Roman on their enemies and could have survived as long as they could hold them off with cold steel. Certainly nobody got to tsk-tsk about Godfrey de Bouillon butchering the Muslim and Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem back in 1098. You could argue the man's morals but his tactics were impeccible - the Kingdom of Jerusalem never had to worry about a domestic Fifth Column.

But it did have to worry about its neighbors. Who finally swarmed over them. Given an Israel armed with nukes this is unlikely to happen. But, short of genocide, Israel is going to spend the next two hundred years fighting off these Islamic fleas. We can choose to lie down with the Israeli dog if we want to, but their fleas will jump on us.

That's all I'm sayin'...

Lisa said...

I see your argument exactly, and it is well-made. Sentiment aside, you are being realistic. It is an insoluble tragedy b/c people will not put their sentiment aside.

Rick98c said...

Agree with everything you've written except the notion that the conflict is some sort of sissy slap-fight. Not when the casualty figures are so enormously lopsided.

FDChief said...

Rick: What I was thinking of was the difference in attitudes between the "Greatest Generation" and today.

My understanding is that the total deaths right now is about 550 or so; 5 Israelis and about 500-550 Pals. Obviously, each one of those is a personal tragedy for the people who loved that person. Every one of those heads held a whole universe we have lost forever.

But 500 dead? We're talking probably a single average day in Western Europe circa 1944. A couple of hours on the Somme 1916, or a couple of minutes at Verdun the same year. A couple of weeks or a month in Vietnam, 1967.

This is a nasty little battle because of the civvies involved. Given how fundamentally geopolitically and strategically useless this entire foolish little fight will probably turn out to be every death here is an utter waste. But the actual carnage? Small change, historically speaking.

Rick98C said...

OK, I see what you are saying.

Hmmm, maybe it's a very good thing that we are now alarmed by casualty figures that would have been seen as a trifle in the past.

FDChief said...

Rick: Yep. Now if we'd only get that worked up about getting into these pointless wars in teh first place...

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Anonymous said...

Killing and steeling from people does not make us or them strong it makes us and them wrong.