Sunday, January 25, 2009

Of course, that said...

...I've still been checking in with places like "The Economist," and keeping an eye on various and sundry other things that are of interest to me in the world. Like the train wreck that was the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza. The Economist generally toes something of a MSM party line on such issues, but they did actually manage to raise, persistently, the proportionality of the Israeli response to Hamas lobbing homemade rockets over their border. And now that the Israelis have withdrawn, and the press is beginning to see what a parking lot created by tank shells and air strikes looks like in Gaza (as opposed to Lebanon, or Iraq), they have a new piece up that is worth reading, I think.

I particularly like the subtitle to the article:

"Israelis begin to ask whether the war in Gaza was worth it"

Geez, good question, guys. I mean, I can see how the aforementioned rockets could piss you off, but those rockets killed, what, something like ten people over the course of several years, whereas you all killed upwards of 1,300+ Palestinians, more than half civilians by most independent estimates, in about three weeks. And you've given a three-week recruiting exercise for Hamas that they didn't even pay for (well, except with lives), and you didn't achieve your objective, because it's unachievable by military means. Any jackass with a model rocketry set, some C4 and an axe to grind can probably build a rocket they could launch over the border (well, I exaggerate, but not by all that much), and there are now a lot more people in Gaza, I expect, with a not-unreasonable axe to grind. So the rockets will start up again, in time. So you lose. Again.

The Israelis, because they've been living with it longer than most of the rest of us, should be smarter about terrorism and what to do about it. You'd think so, anyway. But apparently not...terrorism is not responsive to military response. The US has learned that, the hard way, over the course of the last six/seven years in Iraq and Afghanistan. The British learned it (sorta) in Northern Ireland over a longer span of time. If the more-empowered political force (in this case the Israelis) don't make more profitable alternatives to blowing shit up available to the less-empowered (in this case the Palestinians), and instead try to strangle them with blockades and demand free elections and then refuse to talk to the people who get elected, and all that's playing out in a place where people have been blowing shit up for years, what's going to happen? Well, more blowing up of shit, I expect.

Maybe Obama can do some good here, by reining the Israeli hawks in a bit. Not much hope of that if Netanyahu (if there's ever an electoral ticket that you're considering voting for that has a major candidate whose name ends, phonetically or otherwise, with "YAHOO," it's a sign...don't go there) gets another shot at being Israel's PM, but, one can hope. Good luck, George Mitchell. Lord knows, you're gonna need it.

Of course, the set dressing for the Gaza thing was an important round of national elections in Israel. Which makes it that much more sickening, because it sounds like it was pretty obviously the election year that necessitated the tanks rolling into Gaza when they did, rather than a clear and present and immediate danger to the Israeli hinterlands. One thing that I suppose gives the US a leg up, even after eight years of GWB&Co.--when we decide to make something an election year political football, it doesn't generally wind up being a football with 1,300 corpses weighing it down. So. Bleah.

LATE UPDATE: William S. Lind, who is a jackass in a lot of ways but really smart about the future of warfare, sounded off recently on the same topic. Cheers.

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