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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Arab Rules

To be hawkish or dovish? Or, for Israel, to be or not to be? But which is which? That is the question. Whether tis nobler to suffer the rockets and mortars of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of Hezbollum?

The dovish approach didn't seem to work so well. The Israelis withdrew from Lebanon, withdrew from Gaza, were preparing to withdraw from the West Bank, but still the rockets came down. Bummer!

What about a hawkish approach? Even more fundamentally, what is a viable hawkish approach to the problem? A "proportionate" response doesn't seem useful. Hezbollah fires a few missiles into random population centers in Israel, so Israel fires a few missiles randomly back into Lebanon? Nah, doesn't cut it.

The more intense response that we're currently witnessing doesn't strike me as working particularly well either. What's the end game? How can Israel finish this war and end up with a lasting peace? I can't imagine how that can happen, but it could be that I'm just short on imagination.

I've seen a number of articles calling for the end of Israeli restraint. Fight fire with fire they say. A good example of this genre is contained in an editorial from Arutz Sheva (Israel National by Ellen Horowitz:
The Western concepts of fair play, moral equivalency, proportional response and restraint seem more suitable for a sporting event than for a war against an enemy who deems such concepts as absurd. Israel's timeout for an investigation must seem downright laughable to an adversary who would litter any playing or battlefield with penalty flags and fouls. The UN referees best pack-up and go home, because any whistle-blowing will fall on deaf ears.

Nobody understands that better than Dutch attorney and former UNHCR official Johan Rhodius. Last week, I had the opportunity to exchange thoughts on Israel's predicament with him.

Mr. Rhodius asserts that the very existential nature of Israel's wars make the Western concepts of proportionality and restraint irrelevant. And by insisting on the Jewish State's adherence to such notions, the Western world demonstrates a lack of moral clarity and endangers itself by weakening Israel. [...]

Mr. Rhodius goes on to say that the Western concept of restraint has permeated the Israeli justice system and weakened Israel's state of security. Terrorism, by its very nature, knows no restraint: "It's not moderate, proportionate, objective or unprejudiced."
Her concluding sentence?
Israel best ... learn to play by Arab rules, and get the job done.
But I think this last sentence is an awkward way to conclude. What sorts of actions should be taken in order to play by Arab rules? Since the Arabs (especially Hamas and Hezbollah) would love to slaughter every last Jew in Israel if they could, does that mean that Israel should attempt to perpetrate a mass genocide against Arabs? Does it mean that Israel should indiscriminately target civilians? Should Israel enter treaties and then ignore them? Aren't these the sorts of things that playing by Arab rules implies? Or is there something less horrific that still qualifies as playing by Arab rules and will somehow help the situation?

I'm starting to suffer from Stanley Kurtz "Hawkish Gloom". It's not just Israel that's in trouble:
This means that the entire Western world now stands in a position roughly analogous to that of Israel: locked in an essentially permanent struggle with a foe it is impossible either to placate, or to entirely destroy — a foe who demands our own destruction, and whose problems are so deep they would not be solved even by victory.
There seems to be no satisfactory outcome possible, especially with regards to Iran:
The West is on a collision course with Iran. There will either be a preemptive war against Iran’s nuclear program, or an endless series of hot-and-cold war crises following Iran’s acquisition of a bomb. And an Iranian bomb means further nuclear proliferation to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as a balancing move by the big Sunni states. With all those Islamic bombs floating around, what are the chances the U.S. will avoid a nuclear terrorist strike over the long-term?
My current prediction, and I obviously hope that I'm very, very wrong, is that we'll do nothing of significance to address the problem - primarily because there's nothing that can be done that a civilized society can or should be willing to do - until we suffer horrific damage (nukes or otherwise) at the hands of terrorists.

Then we will no longer be a civilized society and we will be willing to play by Arab Rules.


Susan's Husband said...

We don't have to play by Arab rules, we could just play by our own, the ones we used to play by, which were primarily indifference to causalties on the other side. We should not seek them out, but we should not pay them much heed, either. The Caliphascists may not care about those causalities, either, but their supporters would should they become large enough.

Oroborous said...

We care about minimising casualties because we're in a "policing" psychological state, where we're trying to inflict just enough pain to cause our enemies to decide that discretion is the better part of valor, and we don't want the remaining population to be too upset.

The reason that we're not in a "total war" mindset is because the Islamofascists are an annoyance, not an actual threat to any nation, even Israel.

Now, personally, my tolerance is gone, and I'm in more of a "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" place, but I take bad behavior more personally than do most Americans, or do humans in general, really. My sense is that most people don't really care that much if they personally aren't affected or threatened.

I don't think that it's a certainty that an American city will get nuked by terrorists, but there's a high probability of it eventually happening, and should such a thing occur then I expect public opinion to swing solidly behind me, and America will let slip the dogs of war.

Amusingly, many of America's enemies, and the domestic American Left, delusionally believe that we've already loosed the dogs, and they're either unimpressed, or have concluded that they can absorb the blows.
But that's because they're somewhat to totally ignorant of America's full military capabilites. If we really let loose, they'll think that the Gates of Hell have opened.
Compared to today's capabilites, Dresden and Hiroshima were child's play, and that's without going nuclear.

As John Paul Jones famously declared, "Sir, we have not yet begun to fight !"