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It really isn't a good sign when your ambassador can't explain what the point of your war is.

The trap of the Israel/Palestine conflict is that neither side has a good idea of what it hopes to acheive, beside some vague sense of intimidating the other side into concession.

Yeah, we tried that.  It didn't work.  Innocent people are paying the price and have paid the price on all sides for decades now, and for what?  Whatever side you feel has been wronged most, the real problem here is not that one side is more evil than the other, it's that no side is wiser or more practical than the other.

This long stalemate of a quagmire has been a disaster for all sides.  

The terrorist actions and military aggression of the Palestinians has justified, in the eyes of their oppressors, an increasingly hermetic seal on the destinies and the territories they live within, leaving people in the terrorism-shaken west in an uncomfortable situation trying to be sympathetic to their inhumane plight.

Israel doesn't do itself any favors.  It's actions have justified an equally isolating kind of constriction around itself by the Arab nations which are its only neighbors.  It's actions put it on shaky footing in international law, and make it difficult for those in the west to wholeheartedly support them.  Their methods, though advertised as strong and scrappy, have become a self-inflicted wound to the country's security, allowing pressures to build, and peace with its neighbors and within its borders to become an increasingly more distant dream.  What have their last two wars within the Palestinian Territories achieved?

The danger in justifying war by what the other side does is that such a reactionary approach makes inevitable decisions that have no purpose beyond that reaction.  It clouds the mind, stifles the truly creative approaches towards acheiving strategic success.  Each sides actions have served no purpose beyond escalation, and all the bloody consequences of that escalation have worn down both sides ability to think straight.  It's a vicious cycle of progressively increased mindless violence.

Security is not preventing attacks, ultimately.  The truly committed will find ways to draw blood.  True security is the discouragement of committed attackers.  Make it too complex.  Make it to where these people are on their own.  Make it to where folks don't want to upset the balances, delicate or otherwise.

Look at Iraq: did we succeed by brute force?  No, and we could not.  To the extent violence has been prevented, and our soldiers lives have been saved, it is because we helped create a situation around the bad situation we were in that undermined the willingness of the other side to attack us and attack each other.

Iraq is not perfect, and its successes might be temporary, perhaps even counterproductive in the long term.  But the alternative was far worse, in no uncertain terms, because it depended on the notion that people can be intimidated in their homelands out of maintaining an insurrection.

How many idiots out there have made this faulty assumption?  How many fools who should know better?

If you fight to defeat an enemy or acheive an objective, you must have some understanding of what constitutes the defeat of that enemy, the success of that objective.  You can redefine it post hoc, but that's typically what you do if you're trying to weasel your way out of a bad war in a way that saves face.  So lets ask the question here:  what will constitute the true defeat of Hamas, or the true success of Israel's strategic goals of security?

If we don't have a good pathway towards our answers to those questions, then it won't matter what each side intends; the only thing they will gain through the future years of this fight is greater depths of bad blood and mutual misery.

Originally posted to First Amendment Remedies on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:35 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Know what you're fighting for before you... (9+ / 0-)

    ...decide how to fight for it; the means you employ to gain an object might become the very things that take that object from your grasp.

    Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

    by Stephen Daugherty on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:36:29 PM PST

  •  God help me for wading into I/P Land, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RaulVB, esquimaux, beltane, TimmyB, Johnny Q

    but I think you have a point here.  As with Lebanon War Whatever Number It Was, Israel seems unable to articulate a coherent strategic reason why they have to do what they're doing.

    Support President Obama and our troops!

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:39:16 PM PST

    •  The rationale for this war (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maracucho, Crashing Vor, TimmyB, soysauce

      is several magnitudes less coherent than that for the latest war in Lebanon. I think Jon Stewart described it best when he called the Gaza invasion a Toyota Slamathon, an all-out exercise in violence to mark the days until Obama takes office.

      This is the epitome of the type of "dumb war" Obama referred to in his 2002 speech.

      The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

      by beltane on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:58:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I assume the point of the war... (0+ / 0-)

    ...is to convince Gazans that continued Hamas rule isn't in their best interests.

    -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

    by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:42:57 PM PST

    •  Didn't work with the Iraqis and Saddam (0+ / 0-)

      So how in the hell is it ever going to work with the Palestinians and Hamas?

      Why is the human race so STUPID, that we keep trying things we KNOW don't work, never have worked, never will work, never CAN work?

      Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

      by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:47:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Iraq is indeed a relevant example (0+ / 0-)

        When things in Anbar got so bad, because of AQI activity and the US military response, that everyday life was unbearable, even those people (the majority) with strong AQI sympathies turned against them and made tacit common cause with the US..

        -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

        by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:04:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wrong example (0+ / 0-)

          That was AFTER we had charged into Iraq like a blind mad bull, rampaging and destroying in our lust to "get Saddam". We broke that country into so many pieces that it probably can never be put back together - and, by the way, there WAS NO "AQI" before our mad-bull charge.

          Were you really born only five years ago, so that you know nothing of the years 1991-2003? For over a decade, the US put every kind of pressure it could think of on Iraqi citizens - economic, social, and, yes, military - to try to get them to turn on and reject their strong-man dictator. The more we squeezed them, the more they resisted.

          It took literally smashing the country to bits and committing what future generations (if any) will surely condemn as genocidal atrocities to ruin things so completely that there was nothing left to protect.

          We have done what the Roman Empire used to do (and what we used to hold it in contempt for). We have made a desolation and tried to get it called "peace".

          Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

          by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:34:18 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Um, none of that is even slightly relevant (0+ / 0-)

            It doesn't matter, for purposes of the example, why we invaded Iraq, any more than it matters why Israel is sitting there as a settler state in the Middle East.  This thread is about why Israel attacked Gaza.

            -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

            by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:39:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You lost, so you're changing the rules (0+ / 0-)

              End of discussion.

              Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

              by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:13:33 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  No, you changed the rules (0+ / 0-)

                This diary isn't about the I/P issue generally--it's solely about why Israel attacked Gaza right now.  I invoked (since someone dared me to) an example from Iraq--not the whole war, just the Anbar so-called Awakening.  You're the one who changed the focus to the Iraq war generally, and I don't know why except that you needed a chance to vent.

                -5.38/-3.74 We're currently in a sig interregnum. A siggie vacante, as it were.

                by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:17:44 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  A. Nal. O. Gy. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                  Look it up in your Funk & Wagnalls.

                  Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

                  by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:06:38 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  PS: BS (0+ / 0-)

                  YOU didn't mention Iraq first - I did. YOU BS'ed about how the "point" of the war was to convince the Gazans to get rid of Hamas (a pure right-wing/Likud talking point, I might add). YOU left yourself wide open to somebody pointing out any number of historical examples in which external pressure by hostile nations had NOT had the desired result of "regime change".

                  That strategy NEVER works until there is so destructive a war that there is nothing left to defend.

                  That's about what the situation has deteriorated to. But destroying a country in order to "save" it is both a blatant war crime and a crime against humanity.

                  Yes We Did! Yes We Will!

                  by TheOtherMaven on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 08:20:13 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  AHEM. (0+ / 0-)

                  I'll speak to what this diary is about.

                  Intimidation has to be targeted, and if it doesn't work immediately, it's rarely of value.  Too many people see these kinds of conflicts in terms of sending emotional messages, and while there is that component to military campaigns, the best military campaigns approach those goals via real world targets whose capture, destruction, or beseigement would convince most rational people that the fight has changed for the worse for them.

                  It's not enough, in other words, for the efforts to be symbolic to you and your own.  The enemy has to agree with the meaning of that message you're sending by that action, and often that message is best sent by altering the facts on the ground for real.

                  The real question here is whether or not the current military action will change the situation in such a way that Hamas finds itself in a worse position, once the dust settles, than it did before.  I don't think that's what's happening.  I think Israel has launched two fairly pointless wars to demonstrate how tough it is, and in exchange, has made itself look foolish and needlessly violent.

                  They have still yet to recover either the bodies or the persons of those kidnapped Israeli soldiers.  As tough as you could say the response was, it did not achieve its objective.  What then was the point of it all?  What's the point of torture that makes Israel look barbaric even among its allies?  Of crackdowns in Gaza and the West Bank that just seem to kill hundreds of Palestinians without making things one bit better for the Israelis?

                  And what good are all these policies that end up putting Israeli allies on the defensive, trying to rationalize dark-side tendencies they'd decry from anybody else?

                  Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

                  by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:59:08 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  The difference here is... (0+ / 0-)

          That al Qaeda in Iraq was a foreign group imposed on them, while Hamas was voted into power by a Democratic election.  Plenty of people didn't want AQI in Anbar province; it clashed worse with the ancient power structure than we Americans did.

          Will we see Hamas suffer a similar fate?  No.  It has popular support, and people will not see the casualties as being Hamas' responsibility, though they certainly didn't go out of their way to avoid provocation of Israel.

          Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

          by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:43:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  You do not bomb people into accepting you (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      maracucho, esquimaux, TimmyB, Johnny Q

      It is the oldest lesson from history.

      •  True but irrelevant (0+ / 0-)

        The Israelis aren't bombing Gazans to get them to accept Israeli rule, which Israel renounced a few years ago; rather, if my guess is right, they're bombing Gazans to get them to make a tactical decision to reject Hamas rule.  

        -5.38/-3.74 I've suffered for my country. Now it's your turn! --John McCain with apologies to Monty Python's "Protest Song"

        by Rich in PA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:03:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  They're still bombing them (0+ / 0-)

          And I doubt the people being bombed are going to appreciate the nuance.

          "What if everybody thought like you?" "Then I'd be a damn fool to think otherwise."-- Catch 22

          by Johnny Q on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 06:07:51 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The problem is this: (0+ / 0-)

          These people are more likely to see this as an attack on them and those they chose than they are to see it as an attack punishing them for support of Hamas.  They're far more likely to justify stronger support for Hamas in the name of defending their home soil and reclaiming what they believe to be theirs in Israel on account of Israel's bombing, than they are to renounce it.

          The only way I see this working is the following:

          First, Hamas must be to blame for whatever escalation occurs, and that blame has to be in the eyes of those who form their political base. Hamas must be seen by the population as the folks taking the risky, perhaps unnecessary course of action.

          Second, the responses must be optimally precise, surgical, and pre-emptive.  Don't take out the building and kill hundreds of bystanders.  Take out the idiots who are at the frontlines of the stupidity.

          Third, the strategic goal must be peace, for two reasons.  

          a) It's the whole point of these operations, no?  

          b) The Israelis have to be seen as the moderating force, not the ones throwing the match on the gasoline

          This dictates the use of certain methods and removes the use of others.

          The lack of strategic thought is evident in the simplistic thinking which believes that rejection of Hamas will be in the cards, despite the fact that Palestinians have remained defiant for so long.  If forty years, give or take a few, is not sufficient to calm these people down, why should one more bloody, collateral damage-soaked skirmish make a difference?

          Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

          by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:12:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  maybe palastinans aren't the real target (0+ / 0-)

      maybe it has more to do with keeping the Israel civilians terrified... kicking the hornets nest to convince people they need to be afraid of bees.

    •  Yes, and it will do so... (0+ / 0-)

      ...while utterly validating Hamas's efforts to raise hostilities towards Israel.

      Is there a point to that?

      Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:39:32 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'll go out on a limb (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, maracucho, Johnny Q, soysauce

    I blame the US gov't (and the electorate) for not consistently pressing all stakeholders in the region. Pres. Carter and Clinton at least made attempts. Worse conflicts have been settled in the last 60 years. This one is way overdue.

    Especially I denounce: the Republican Party and Democratic Party. Weapons companies, oil companies, speculators. All the parasites that profit from conflict, death and chaos. A pox on you and your bank accounts.

    Happy Holidays, Best to you and Yours. Keep in touch.

    by Karl Rover on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:56:14 PM PST

  •  A lot of people assume (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, Crashing Vor, beltane, Johnny Q

    that when Very Important People decide to go to war, it has to have some serious and well thought out point and lots of sophisticated, devious, calculations.

    The reality is often that the point is small and not well thought out.  And it is just opportunists putting down money and throwing the dice because they can't think of anything better to do.

    We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. Martin Luther King Jr.

    by killjoy on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 04:56:37 PM PST

  •  It worked in 1967... (0+ / 0-)

    against Egypt, Jordan and Syria...

    Obama/Biden'08 Delivering Change he Promised

    by dvogel001 on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:06:58 PM PST

    •  remember this (0+ / 0-)

      revenge is a dish best served up cold.

      I volunteered for combat duty in that war.

      What I have witnessed in the ensuing forty plus years
      does not bode well for Israel.  Or the USA.  It seems to me that we are slipping further and further into the guard of the enemies we have made for ourselves    

      •  When was the last time ... (0+ / 0-)

        Egypt, Syria and Jordan attacked Israel and BTW Hezbollah is not backing Hamas in this fight so perhaps the aggression against Hezbollah worked as well...

        When your terrorism is met with an overwhelming and some would say disproportionate response...perhaps you think twice about using terrorist tactics in the future...just a thought...

        Also perhaps the people of Gaza will think twice about electing Militant Terrorists to represent their views with the Israeli governement...

        Obama/Biden'08 Delivering Change he Promised

        by dvogel001 on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 03:22:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why would anybody think twice about continuing... (0+ / 0-)

          ...to fight the people killing their friends and family.  If somebody was doing that to you, would you even be in a state to rationally consider your options?

          Israel's basic problem is that it is effectively trying to occupy territory it has no official intent or sanction to take over for itself.  Occupation without conquest is like a leg without a foot.

          Even in WWII, we had to effectively conquer a large part of Europe and Germany to hand it back to the Europeans afterwards.  If we had just gone as far Israel did and just perseverated in trying to control things through external intimidation rather than internal management, we would have faced a long and bloody quagmire.

          This is effectively like embracing a porcupine in order to restrain it.  Sure you can cut down on the struggles by squeezing it harder, but that's not the healthiest decision you could make.

          Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

          by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:25:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I really don't think... (0+ / 0-)

            that Israel's long term position is to keep a lot of land...it is to stop the violence against their civilian population and keep land and border control necessary to ensure its security (e.g. never give back the Golan Heights)...

            Obama/Biden'08 Delivering Change he Promised

            by dvogel001 on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:44:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You miss the point. (0+ / 0-)

              Obviously, their intentions are to stop violence.  Point out where I said otherwise.  But intentions don't equal success.

              It's all about what's sustainable, if you're talking defenses.  Which means, either the Palestinian territories quit being enemy territory, or the Israeli's quit trying to use the blunt force of an army to secure those territories.

              It's time for people to stop thinking of wars in terms of body counts and intentions, politics and emotional blackmail, and start thinking of things in terms of the conditions necessary to bring about a change in a situation by military force, if that is applicable to begin with.

              Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

              by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:10:04 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Those were conventional military responses. (0+ / 0-)

      There was also a clear military objective: defend Israeli territory.  (this is one of the reasons that self defense of the country is so often an easier position to fight a war from.  It defines one's necessities nicely)

      This?  This is the millionth occasion that Israel has tried to bludgeon pacification from the palestinian territories.

      Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:15:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There's a strategy (0+ / 0-)

    he just can't say it.

    Because part of the strategy is to forestall the election of Netenyahu in February.

    Part of the strategy is clear and simple punishment.

    Part of the strategy is, as someone above said, to get the people of Gaza to tire of Hamas. This, as that poster said, may be futile...but Hamas's main "claim to fame" that got them elected had nothing to do with Israel, it had to do with delivering services. If the people of Gaza see that the "services" Hamas is delivering is airstrikes, maybe they'll think twice. (And maybe not).

    The spokesman for Israel speaking here can't say much of that, mind you. (That is assuming I'm correct, of course.)

    "I used to have goals. They were *evil* goals, but they were *goals*."--Dr. Doofenschmirtz

    by ChurchofBruce on Tue Jan 06, 2009 at 05:18:26 PM PST

    •  Yes, we could, in Iraq.... (0+ / 0-)

      ... go door to door in every village where an attack has been made on us, and kill every tenth man in the village, with the idea of making them think twice about what they're doing.

      But that can just as easily lead folks not to think at all, but rather operate from emotion, which might encourage them to get even more violent, more stubbornly loyal to the folks running the resistance.

      It's important not to confuse the message you want to send with the possible messages people might get out of it.  It's especially important to realize that people might just know you want them to think twice, and that your violence might motivate them to reject whatever hesitancy you wanted them to have.

      Hesitance is such a weak emotion to go for.  I want people to despair of such methods, to get people to feel that they are fruitless and counterproductive.

      What we should have had in Iraq was a strong enough force to where anytime some band of insurgents tried to make trouble, we could surgically stomp on them, and demonstrate both our authority and the futility of acting against it.  Unfortunately, the brainy guys in the White House thought that if people felt we were an occupying force, it would make things tougher.  In truth, unless people know you're sitting on them for real, that just makes your force, occupying whether it wants to admit it or not, better targets.

      Reject the drama like Barack Obama!

      by Stephen Daugherty on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:33:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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