Monday, August 21, 2006

How do we evaluate a war of terror? 

There are voices in the media of Israel and of its vassal, the United States, saying that Israel "won" the Lebanon War; that it would take time, perhaps "months" or "years" before that "fact" was "apparent to the world", and that, since certain segments of Israeli punditocracy have declared it to be a "different kind of war", the old "win"/"lose" criteria don't apply anyway - victory on the battlefield being nice, but not nearly as important as victory in the op-ed pages of the Jerusalem Post and the New York Times: in other words, environs where the party shouting the loudest can enjoy and enforce complete freedom from contrary views.

Let's see... we had opposing forces on a battlefield - using asymmetric tactics, yes, but forces have been doing that since at least the American Revolutionary War; we had (according to commentators on both sides) heroism and bravery on both sides; we had one force trying to achieve specific strategic goals and the other force attempting to deny those goals through the use of available resources up to and including men's and women's lives... from Agamemnon to Sun Tzu to General Sir John Hackett, the basic story of war in this or any other time and place.

What is beginning to seriously worry me are the increasing, and increasingly consistent notes of delusional denial that various ssegments of Israeli society are apparently embroiled in, cynically or otherwise. The idea that the army was "stabbed in the back", that total, complete victory was "just out of reach" and will wait for the "next time", "soon"... declarations of victory where plainly none exist, the placement of cults of personality and cults of tribe above the prudent rule of nations or of the most basic respect and gratitude for those sons and daughters of other men who fightg and die on orders from old, fearful, men on both sides so horribly twisted by hate and ignorance and fear that they cannot comprehend how they are wounding their own society by claiming to preserve it.... if we do not immediately, firmly and decisively cease to give such "statesmen" and "leaders" the power to destroy the lives of millions through their own cynical paranoia, then we will have truly lost any claim to the mantle of civilisation. If we value one life above another - not for what has been done by he who lives that life but merely because that one is alive with a skin colour or speaking a language or professing a religious belief which differs from the one in whose hands the power to make war rests - then any claim we have to call ourselves "civilised" is no less preposterous than a gaggle of four-year-old children playing with fire and with loaded weapons. Far worse these "leaders" are, for they cannot pretend to be innocent of the knoledge of what their actions and words bring about.

"But wait," I hear a voice say. "What of the War On (Some) Terror - to save our holy Society and our Way Of Life from the heathen Other? Surely any evils committed by our 'well-meaning' Leaders are preferable to the loss of our freedoms?" My friends, if you have to ask that question, then you already know the answer. Just as it was evil and reprehensible to destroy the Vietnamese village of Ben Tre "in order to save it", how much larger the crime against humanity when the victims are two entire nations? For indeed, perpetrating such disproportionate, wanton, morally unrestrained actions does not only destroy those against whom it is directed. Equally importantly, it severely poisons the morality and legitimacy, if not the humanity, of those allegedly in whose name the barbarities are perpetrated. How many voices cry out, in this world and the next, for a new Nuremberg, indeed, a host of Nurembergs to call to heel those who have abused their power so horribly? And yet, and most damningly, how unlikely any such justice has been rendered by those amoral "moral leaders" who have brought these calamities upon us and our posterity?

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