As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bombing To The Brink

If someone wants to explain to me the strategic case for Israel's bombardment of Gaza, I'm all ears. The Israeli Ambassador to the UN says they want to destroy completely a terrorist gang. This is the typical fallacy of believing that there are a finite amount of "terrorists," and that bombing and belligerence doesn't create anyone else to rally to their cause. Instead, destroying Gaza and killing civilians just rallies the Palestinians behind Hamas' cause. What is happening there right now is the biggest recruiting poster for jihadism that you can muster. Read the words of Mustapha Barghouti, a secular Palestinian lawmaker.

First and foremost, missiles do not differentiate people by their political affiliation; they simply kill everyone in their path. Israel knows this, and so do Palestinians. What Israel also knows, but is not saying publicly, is how much their recent actions will actually strengthen Hamas - whose message of resistance and revenge is being echoed by the angry and grieving.

The targets of the strike, police and not Hamas militants, give us some clue as to Israel's mistaken intention. They are hoping to create anarchy in the Strip by removing the pillar of law and order.

This is radicalizing the entire region. It threatens Israeli security and American security. The claim is to stop the airstrikes but they have continued in earnest since the bombing began. Eventually, the fighting will end and Hamas will still be standing and they will rhetorically claim to have fought off the great beast, much like Lebanon did in 2006. How anyone can claim that Israel has learned from their failure in Lebanon is beyond me. There may have been more planning, but no better strategy to move toward peace, just a method to better fight the last war. This looks to be the result of all that planning:

First, Israel is about to exhaust obvious and legitimate military targets, especially those available for aerial bombardment, even under their broadest interpretation. Admittedly Hamas never seriously tried to separate its political and military wings--unlike, say, the Basque nationalist ETA (who have had both the clandestine ETA and various incarnations of the Hari Batasuna Party) or the Irish Republicans (who had the IRA and the Sinn Fein Party), partly because it does not really have a political strategy distinct from its military one. Even so, bombing Hamas police stations and Hamas's organizational structure is different from striking the Hamas broadcasting center, let alone the Islamic University in Gaza City. Attacking distinctly civilian targets and the infrastructure of civil life is a potential war crime. It is also counterproductive. The number of civilian casualties will rise, and the international community will be mobilized to chip away at the immunity Israel now seems to possess in targeting Hamas [...]

It appears that Israeli political leaders and military planners labor under the illusion that there is a military “solution” to Hamas. The extended military operation in Gaza is expected to serve as a pedagogical tool for moderating or eliminating Hamas. But this will not work, and the idea that a ground invasion of Gaza could actually eliminate Hamas as a force in Palestinian politics is delusional. The Israeli approach is every bit as driven by militarism as Hamas’ strategy is. Beyond a certain point, it can serve no realistic political goals. In fact, I would offer a concise definition for militarism as not knowing when to stop. Israel is in danger of recapitulating in Gaza the last few weeks of the war against Hezbollah, which increasingly turned into a war against Lebanon.

Peace will come from a commitment from each side to respecting one another's sovereignty, not from trying to bomb one side or the other into submission. Bombing stregthens the most extremist worldviews of either side. Wisdom comes from breaking the cycle of violence and making concessions for peace. What's sick is that the current Prime Minister knows this, and has articulated it in public:

I read the reports of our generals and I say, "how have they not learned a single thing?" Once, a very senior official told me, "They're still living in the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign." With them it's all about tanks, about controlling territories or controlled territories, holding this or that hill. But these things are worthless.

The peace process is now, of course, in ruins. It's unclear who the partners will be on either side, and the mutual hatred as a result of these actions will fester for maybe a generation. There is no outside pressure on either side to cease-fire, as the Bush Administration plays out the string on ideological grounds.

I don't know what else to say right now. It makes you sick.

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