Thursday, August 03, 2006
Israel is a New-Core State Fighting in the Gap
As the anyone-but-Israel crowd (I'm looking at you, Adam, Eddie, and John) heats up its demonization of the Dawlat Israil, some context is needed. Particularly, an understand of the levels of power. These are essentially the levels of anlaysis that were devised by Waltz in his book Man, the State, and War, and since elucidated elsewhere.
In general, a power on one level can meaningful effect those on lower levels, win or lose "fairly" against those on the same level, and very weakly influence the level above.
To understand the Israel-Hizbullah conflict, we must understand where the actors are:
Knowing this, most criticisms are blown away (they were already hot air).
The most important thing to remember about the Israel-Hezbollah War is this: Israel is a State, not the System, not an Alliance of major powers, but a state. Because most of the blogosphere's criticism is directed against the Jewish State, I will spend this post on the implications of the Levels of Power on it. (Bloggers apparently have a more nuanced or sympathetic inclination toward Hezbollah).
Israel is not The System. She does not have the power to change rulesets in regions, and this means that she is unable to choose which rulesets she fights under. Israel cannot shrink the Gap to fight the war she wants, and cannot shrink the Gap to make problems go away.
The world-system provided over by the United States is composed of the Core and the Gap, The Core of the "developed world" and the Gap of the "developing world," with finer grades running from the Old Core of North America, Europe, and Japan to the Non-Integrating Gap of the African and Islamic worlds. The system is pleasant for New Core states and unpleasant for Gap states. The greatest project of our time, which is sometimes called "Shrinking the Gap," current means pulling up the Seam to the New Core and not letting it fall back to the Gap.
Intervention within the old Core is relatively easy (the Katrina "debacle" did not lead to a single loyalty militia or terrorist-group attack, though much smaller things routinely do so throughout the Gap). However, intervention in the Gap opens eyes to the sadness of that world. It doesn't create the sadness -- life was bad in Somalia before the Rangers walked Mogadishu, and life was bad in Rwanda before UN peacekeepers fired on refugees.
Many of the attacks on the Democratic State come from a belief that Jews should spill blood and treasure to move Hizbollah's territory up to the New Core. The absurdity and futility of a State spending its resources to change the Systemic nature of another is clear: it violates a simple understand of the levels of power, but functionally equivalent states are common in the anti-Israeli press. As Eddie of Life from the FDNF says
There is no honor in bad intelligence taking lives over and over again in a short period, no honor in killing children and blaming it on the other guy. You shouldn't have bombed the shelter then. Send some troops, if you have the courage (which is increasingly in question among Israel's political leadership), and take Hezbollah out.
This is in an atmosphere where Hizbullah hides among the human population. Must one then respond to Hizbullah's use of human shields with surrender, as apparently any action that could lead Hizbullah to kill civilians?. That belief, which attempts to export New Core-level rules of hostage rescue to the Gap, is insane.
Changing local rulesets through force is extremely hard. The United States failed doing in so Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia, yet here bloggers advocate a State knowingly apply an inappropriate rule-set -- New Core hostage rescue tactics -- to an inappropriate theatre-- the Gap.. The same level of moral sophistication would demand Core-level rulesets of triage for hospital-shacks in the Savannah, or Old Core-level minimum wages in the New Core, for that mater. The alternative, we are told, is lack of "courage."
Attempting the impossible is not courageous. It is suicide. That's why newspapers don't talk about courageous attempts by teen-agers to live with lacerated wrists. They talk about suicides.
Pundits who demand that Israel apply inappropriate rulesets to a fight in the Gap do not understand resilience. Pundits who demand that a single state try to change System-level rulesets do not understand resilience. They desire an unresilient Israel, which applies inappropriate rulesets in an inappropriate theatre.
An Israel that used hostage-rescue techniques in Lebanon would be fighting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, his government, and his Israeli Defense Forces are wiser than that. They are wisely applying the right rulesets in the right fight. That's why they are winning.
Levels of Organizational Power as Applied to the Israel/Hizb'allah Conflict
I just wanted to point out this insightful post by Dan at tdaxp. I missed it while I was out of town. Dan looks at the levels on which both Israel and Hizb'allah functions, and applies the power difference to strategy, demolishing in terms of Core/Gap...
Trackback by: Caerdroia | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Personally, I could care less what intellectual boxes political theory puts a fighting force in. If they target innocent civilians (Hezbollah, PLO, etc.) or wrecklessly bomb civilian areas with little discretion (Israel for the past couple weeks) I am against their actions. There is a great danger in overlooking horrific tragedies because of abstract ideas of any sort, or in analyzing victims like pawns on a chess board.
"The absurdity and futility of a State spending its resources to change the Systemic nature of another is clear:"
I am curious to see how this reconciles with your defense of British Imperialism.
"Must one then respond to Hizbullah's use of human shields with surrender, as apparently any action that could lead Hizbullah to kill civilians?. That belief, which attempts to export New Core-level rules of hostage rescue to the Gap, is insane."
You're setting up a false dichotomy. Its not surrender vs. the wanton bombing of civilians. Civilian casualties are often inevitable, but that doesn't mean that everyone should try and avoid them. It doesn't seem like the IDF has made this a priority. (Hezbollah of course, has made the opposite a goal, but fortunatly have far inferior weapons)
Posted by: Adam | Thursday, August 03, 2006
1. Israel as a "state" is on life support. It is largely responsible for two failed states on its borders:
Israel has ravaged Lebanon twice in 25 years, and in bombing Lebanon nearly back to Civil War I levels, its sewing the seeds for a 2nd civil war.
Between stealing Palestinian land and building settlements in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods over the past 30 years, Israel made a conscious choice to colonize the parts of Palestinian lands it desired in the name of "Greater Israel". In imprisoning, exiling and torturing countless Palestinian activists (both non-violent and violent) from 1967-Oslo Accord, it helped limit the creation of a viable, healthy and open Palestinian civil society, dooming the people to a choice between secular, Marxist kleptocrat guerrillas (the PLO/Fatah) and Islamic, fundamentalist religious parties and terror groups (Hamas, Islamic Jihad), the former a group Israel bankrolled and nourished in the 80's as an alternative to the PLO.
There is also the tiny matter of the teeming number of Palestinians and other Arabs within Israel proper, who have grown up hating Israel and the idea of a Jewish state and who will have to be deported at some point in the future, disenfranchised under an apartheid system that allows a minority Jewish population to maintain its political power or integrated into the body politic, a highly dubious proposition considering it would transform the Jewish state of Israel into a multi-ethnic, truly democratic and likely utterly dysfunctional democracy.
2. Israel started this fool's errand by declaring they would wipe out Hezbollah, which is impossible, given that Hezbollah is not just a terror group or militia, its a political party and an umbrella organization representing not just religious Shia but a number of other disaffected groups in Lebanon.
The ranks of Hezbollah supporters are swelling because the Israelis are seen as hated invaders who have once again ruined Lebanon... does the Jewish Israeli state intend to commit ethnic cleansing/genocide in South Lebanon to remove its Hezbollah enemies? Oops, a few of our deluded neo-cons are already debating it now. (1)
They are waging war on an idea, a broad political movement and social organization, and they cannot achieve a decisive, lasting victory against Hezbollah unless they take steps so barbaric that few in America, let alone the world, could stomach.
See Robert Pape (2):
"In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.
What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hezbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.
Thus the new Israeli land offensive may take ground and destroy weapons, but it has little chance of destroying the Hezbollah movement. In fact, in the wake of the bombings of civilians, the incursion will probably aid Hezbollah’s recruiting."
3. The first stage of the IDF/IAF war was disasterous. Many people have come out and said that, but no one put it better than Ralph Peters last week (3):
"Even the Kosovo conflict - frequently cited as an airpower victory - only climaxed after we threatened to send in ground troops. Prior to that, we'd spent billions bombing charcoal grills the Serbs used as decoy tank engines. (Our sensors read hot metal, and bombs away!)
Without boots - and eyes - on the ground, you just blast holes in the dirt. Or hit the targets your enemy wants you to strike. That's what happened in Qana.
Anyone who's ever served on a military staff or at the upper echelons of government during a crisis can tell you what happened: The pressure to obtain results grew ever heavier as it "rolled downhill." The prime minister and his Cabinet pressured the generals. The generals pressured the staffs. Staff principals pressured the intelligence officers and targeting analysts.
When Israel's version of "shock and awe" failed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert froze like the proverbial deer in the headlights. Committed to a model of war that couldn't work, the stunned Israeli government insisted on "making" it work. Day after day, the pressure increased - until a desperate system dropped its safeguards.
Hezbollah sized up the situation perfectly. It already had succeeded in feeding the Israelis false intelligence about various sites and vehicles, gulling the IDF into attacks on civilian buses and buildings - followed up by prompt hate-Israel orgies in the media. But Hezbollah needed a "name" event, an apparent atrocity that would echo across continents.
Qana was the perfect setup. Hezbollah fired rockets from a position near the building that the terrorists wanted the IDF to bomb. This time, Hezbollah probably didn't "shoot and scoot" but let the launcher linger as bait. Hezbollah also may have fed the Israelis phony info about the doomed building serving as a terrorist safe house. "
We will only see more of this, even as Israel switches to a ground war, because the IDF isn't facing some candy-ass Arab army of conscripts, its facing a swath of guerrillas holding most of the cards fighting on their land on their terms. Best of luck to the IDF, but I don't see it succeeding.
4. Lastly, keep in mind Israel was planning this for months, had an over-emotional reaction to their soldiers being kidnapped (something which had happened in the past and Israel resorted to negotiations) and launched a campaign of "collective punishment" against an entire people. Israel can't say it was caught by surprise, its been dealing with this kind of brinkmanship for years, look at the history of the Israel-Lebanon Monitoring Group (4).
Posted by: Eddie | Thursday, August 03, 2006
Eddie: "What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation."
If that is true then we should have seen an equal number of suicide bombers attacking Syrian targets, right?
Why is it that only Israeli occupation inspires a "legitimate" hatred to kill? Whay is it that Hezbolla only targets Israel and not Syria as well?
"...disenfranchised under an apartheid system..."
You've got to be kidding me. This is the kind of thing I'd expect from the Democratic Underground crowd.
"Between stealing Palestinian land and building settlements in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods over the past 30 years, Israel made a conscious choice to colonize the parts of Palestinian lands it desired in the name of "Greater Israel"."
Why are there Arabs in that part of the ME? Why are there Arabs across North Africa and in Iraq and Syria? Arabs waged an imperialist war and they colonized the territory they conquered, displacing and oppressing the people who had been resident there. Is Turkey a legitimate state? The Turks were originallly from central Asia and they waged an imperialist migratory war until they built a vast empire where they colonized and oppressed people.
If you apply a standard to Israel, then you have to apply the same standard to every country, tribe, ethnic group etc. If you claim that Israel is illegitimate then you have to apply the same criteria to every country. Is Turkey occupying Kurdish lands or Armenian lands? And who did the Kurds and Armenians seize them from?
What is the statute of limitations here?
If we get stuck into trying to figure out which ethnic or religious group has a right to what land we are going to be trapped into trying to unravel a cosmic Gordian knot that has no solution. Borders are what they are and there is no rational solution to border problems. We should establish a standard of working towards a situation in which human beings wherever they are have the opportunity to actualize their potential within the framework of a free society. (i.e. shrinking the gap; connectivity) Does Hezbolla contribute to this goal? No. Does Israel contribute to this goal? Yes.
Israel has been a self-governing nation as long as India, and the Philippines have, but why is only Israel illegitimate? All have problems with Islamic terrorism, but only Israel is condemned for defending itself.
Hezbolla exists in the Gap. If the Lebanese gov't won't shrink the gap, then the Israelis must.
Posted by: phil | Thursday, August 03, 2006
"If they target innocent civilians (Hezbollah, PLO, etc.) or wrecklessly bomb civilian areas with little discretion (Israel for the past couple weeks) I am against their actions."
While innocent civilians are the Hezbollah's main target, the Israelis are not "wrecklessly bombing civilian areas with little discretion". BTW, the same has been said about our efforts against terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq. This is far from the truth. Unfortunately, the Hezbollah initiated this chapter of the war with Israel and in war people (including civilians) die. The concept of waging war without harming civilians is a fantasy promulgated by those who have not seen war up close themselves. Imagine if we would have waged WWII without harming German or Japanese civilians. What we (and the Israelis) call collateral damage, the Hezbollah calls main targets. Apparently, the Israelis forwarded a copy of their Air Tasking Order (ATO) to Mark and he knows exactly what the Israelis are targeting. That or he's just basing his assessment on media reports that, for the most part, mischaracterized pretty much every military action (American or Israeli) that they report. If you look at the specifications for an F-16 Viper, you will see that is very difficult to carpet bomb anything but a small parking lot with such a platform. The Israelis actually have a collateral damage methodology and their air campaign is not "wantonly" killing civilians. That's what the Hizbullah wants you to believe. Israel does not intentionally targets civilians. The same can't be said about Hezbollah. Unfortunately, the terrorists always hide among the civilian population. One proven tactic of the terrorists is to use our morality against us. Do you think that Hezbollah really cares about the lives of innocent Lebanese other than for their tactical utility? The first thing that the terrorists does after attacking is to run and use the civilians as human shields. Besides, how helpless are the Lebanese to stop Hezbollah from operating in their country? For some reason, we treat the Lebanese and other Arabs as if they were children unable to take care of their problems and destinies. It is always a tragedy when civilians died as a result of military operations. Those of us who have been involved in the application of military force where civilians have died never forget that. Some even lose sleep over it. The Hezbollah is not a huge army composed of many divisions, why can't the Lebanese or other Arab authorities take care of them? Civilians can evict undesirable elements from the population when they really want to. Besides, the Hezbollah operates without uniforms and they hide among women and children and place military equipment near or in civilian facilities. Somehow, Israel takes all the blame for this. Precisely what the terrorists want. The IDF takes immense care when they plan operations against terrorists. Again people with no experience in military operations in urban terrain completely mischaracterize this operations. The media is hardly objective or knowlegeable in this respect. Just like us, the Israelis make mistakes. This mistakes are overblown by the media. You will never hear the Hezbollah conducting an investigation or apologizing for Israli civilian deaths. The Israelis (like us Americans) are very self-critical about their operations and investigate instances of unjustified civilian casualties. The media tends to overlook this fact. War is hell. And civilians caught is the middle will always suffer. While we agonize and lose sleep (or seek spiritual council) for those we've inaverdtendly harmed, the terrorists actually use this suffering as part of their arsenal.
"1. Israel as a "state" is on life support. It is largely responsible for two failed states on its borders:"
You should know better than that. If I did not know it was you, I would say those words were written by Hezbollah propagandists.
"Between stealing Palestinian land and building settlements in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods over the past 30 years, Israel made a conscious choice to colonize the parts of Palestinian lands it desired in the name of "Greater Israel". "
No offense but Nasrallah himself could not come up with this crap. The Israelis have been in "Palestine" for well over 3,500 years. Your argument is similar to those who claim that we should give California back to Mexico because we "stole" their land. (Even though I like Tijuana, I don't want my beloved state of California to look like it) Israel is a state recognized by the international community. The Arabs had several chances of "taking their land back" militarily and they failed miserably against a state the size of New Jersey and at that time less than six million people. Before the creation of the state of Israel, "Palestine" (a Roman name by the way) was a shithole. The Israelis settled the land and worked hard to make it a prosperous democracy. The only functioning democracy in the ME by the way. The Israelis did not colonize the Palestinians and made them work for their own exclusive gains.
Ralph Peters is an old Army Intel dude who does not understand airpower, by the way. Read up on operation Allied Force (Kosovo) or ask someone who actually participated in the operation (like me) and you will see that it was in fact a victory for airpower. Remember too that we were operating under strict NATO controls that sometimes hindered our efforts. Still, we were able to pull it off.
The IAF has flown over 3,000 combat sorties in the course of this war. Mistakes are bound to happen, but they are the exception. Peters is pretty declared victory for Hezbollah before the main operation actually started. Precisely what the Hezbollah wants us to think.
"Lastly, keep in mind Israel was planning this for months"
So what? Israel had plans in case they had to attack Hezbollah. Wow. How dare the IDF make plans for war. The Israelis should shred all their contigency plans and just go at it by the seat of their pants like we did (with airpower) in OEF. We should do the same with all our plans. War planning should take place only after you get attacked right?
Posted by: Sonny | Thursday, August 03, 2006
America taking a side in a holy war is always a bad idea.
This whole episode smacks of theory smashing into harsh reality. We could argue for days about this, but I’m sadly confident we’ll be paying a horrendous price for this disaster in the coming months and years. I’m no friend of Israel, but I mourn for the suffering Israelis will experience in the future because they waged a senseless campaign against the wrong nation. Destabilizing the Middle East, destroying America’s reputation and credibility and the potential lost lives of thousands would be worth it if Israel were taking on Syria. Its not worth it to reoccupy (and follow the same tragic path of 1982) South Lebanon, committing ethnic cleansing to do it and pound Lebanon into a failed state.
Phil, that is certainly a valid observation (why not suicide bombers against Syrian targets?). I would guess that (a) Hezbollah controls the monopoly on suicide bombing/suicide missions/weapons & arms in Lebanon and is allied with Syria and (b) Syrian troops are less of an alien entity to Lebanese than the Israeli Jews? One must also remember that Hezbollah and the Syrian leadership are Shia, thus allied in the grand scheme of things perhaps.
There are millions of Palestinians both within Israel and outside in the anarchic Gaza/West Bank areas, they are close to outnumbering Israeli Jews as it is and will soon overtake them. What will happen to the Jewish character of Israel in 10-20 years if it is to have a full majority rule democracy? This concerns me. Because the only two obvious options for Israel (because Israelis will never accept a majority rule of Palestinian Arabs) are apartheid and forced deportation. Look at your demographics in Israel/West Bank/Gaza for the next 20 years then come back to me with some petty observation about these numbers being cooked up by the DU.
I apply this standard to Israel only in the context of events after 1967, which is to me the point when Israel went from a legitimate nation worthy of US support to a colonizing power drunk on its own power. The “Greater Israel” idea became reality of a sort in the 70’s and 80’s. Don’t believe me? Read the multiple books by Israeli authors both left and right, as well as some wonderful writing by Western observers, on this tragic phenomenon. Or hell, go visit Israel (or Miami, Florida, where I used to argue and have vicious debates with Likud Party members and their families) and see for yourself the settlements that stick out like a KKK HQ in Harlem.
I also support an independent state for the Kurds. I believe that when Iraq fragments in the next few years (barring the appearance of an effective strongman), N. Iraq will become the Kurds homeland. Expect the US to have to make a serious choice on that one, and with tact and skill, we can perhaps win the support of Iran and Turkey in allowing the Kurds to foster a successful nation in N. Iraq.
Your comparison with India and the Philippines is indeed enlightening. Both have waged struggles against Islamic extremists at home and in the near abroad (for the Philippines, the Southern Islands where Moros reside are in essence the “near abroad”, but I don’t see Indian jets ravaging Pakistani cities (or Bangladeshi cities) and destroying critical infrastructure in response to the latest terrorist outrage in Mumbai. Besides the nuclear deterrent, it is quite obvious for Indians that such efforts are counterproductive in the long run. The Indians, having more than just a monolithic Arab/Muslim enemy but multiple security issues with Marxists, Hindu extremists and Tamil Tigers, are quite more reserved and engaged in long-view thinking than the Israelis. The Filipinos have a shamefully corrupt political and business elite that have screwed over the heroic police and military in their counterterrorist activities for decades now. No one bitches about them because everyone knows they are incapable of handling these matters on their own without serious help from the US military and government. Henceforth, Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines.
Really? How do you explain the Israeli colonial actions in the 80’s (it was by its own admission a colonial power)? Read some history books or online resources about the occupation and then try to compare what I said to Hezbollah propaganda. There was a reason Pappy Bush and co. (and hell, even Reagan) took a balanced view on the Israeli-Palestinian matter in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Too many of the skeletons in Israel’s closet came out then. Israel crushed any and all Palestinian efforts at non-violent resistance, deporting, exiling and imprisoning “troublemakers”, all the while Shinbet was encouraging and developing Hamas as an alternative to the PLO. Keep in mind after Oslo Israel continued to illegally build settlements all over the place in violation of their Oslo accord promises, seemingly at the same time Arafat was breaking all his promises too.
After this campaign, what will be left of Lebanon? Do you see anything more than a failed state in the making? Do you remember what happened the last time the US military and its allies trained the mostly Shia Lebanese army? How they collapsed fighting Sunni and Christian militiamen in the mountains? Do you think they would be any more effective against their Shia brothers, Hezbollah?
You being in the USAF, I won’t argue airpower because you know more than I. But enough people of respectful pedigree (many, many more than just Peters) have criticized and questioned Israel’s airpower heavy campaign. Try Pat Lang for one, especially with his experience both in Lebanon in the 80’s and with the Israeli military for decades.
Lastly, them planning it for months means I expect them to do a far better job than they have, to have far better intelligence than it appears they have, to be able to actually wage an effective campaign that maturely takes into account the entire battlespace. To hear them favorably compared to the USAF or US NavAir sickens me. That dishonors the professionalism and skill of the US military. It speaks volumes for the debauched leadership in certain corners in this country that some people actually believe they’re doing quite well compared to us. We did a hell of a lot of a better job in Iraq (91), Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and killed far few civilians in the process. Plus we didn’t needlessly bomb and destroy precious infrastructure that was more important to Lebanese who want a bright future than to Hezbollah, a group that quite honestly may really not give two shits if it dies or not, and thus could care less about infrastructure.
Posted by: Eddie | Friday, August 04, 2006
Dan: An amazing post. If no one else steals you away, we can offer you a position at CA's new company Victorian Solutions.
Posted by: chirol | Friday, August 04, 2006
To all of the above,
Frankly, sometimes the right decisions give you so much heat its better off making a wrong decision that isn't as bad as the worst decision. In my opinion, Israel is totally justified in responding the way they are, but they never should have taken that opportunity. They also should have known how hard it would be to destory Hezbollah, and set their goals lower.
The long term outlook for the greater Middle East is still uncertain. All we can say is that this ratchets up the intensity level a good deal, and something, good or bad, is going to give.
Posted by: Tom | Friday, August 04, 2006
The "Israelis" have not been in Israel that long. The origin of the "Israelis" there now is not even of the original Jews.
The Philistines were descendants of Ham through Ham’s great grandson Philistim. (Gen. 10:14) Samson fought these people in the land they took from Canaan and renamed it Philistia—later this district because known by the transliteration of the Philistines’ tribal name, Palestine. (Gen. 10:14) Yet, some modern Euro-centrist continue denying the relationship, and unashamedly give the so-called Palestinians today, who are Shemitic, the heritage of the Philistinians who were Hamitic (black). Hence, the Arab Palestinians in Israel today actually descended from the Arab invaders of Philistia in Canaan (Israel) and killed off the Philistines and now perpetrate themselves as being descendants of Philistim, Ham’s great grandson. (Gen. 10:14) As a side note, Ralph Bunche, an African American, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 for negotiating a settlement for the Jews in Palestine in 1948. Otherwise, there would not be an Israel today, as we know it. Nevertheless, the original Palestinians were Philistines and Canaanites, both tribes of black people, who live in Palestine called the land of Canaan in Scripture, but known as Israel today. (Joel 3:4).
Posted by: Branden | Saturday, August 05, 2006
@Phil: "If that is true then we should have seen an equal number of suicide bombers attacking Syrian targets, right? Why is it that only Israeli occupation inspires a "legitimate" hatred to kill? Whay is it that Hezbolla only targets Israel and not Syria as well?"
It has nothing to do with 'legitimate' hatred according to Pape. According to his work, these types of attacks are disproportionately targeted at democracies because they would not work as well against more authoritarian states--but let us not turn this into a Pape debate...
@Dan: How exactly is Israel 'winning' at this juncture? What is your metric? Regardless of whether they are using the right "rule-set" I fail to see how one can claim that at this moment Israel is clearly headed for victory (again, without actually defining what victory would look like here). For my money this isn't about Israel being right or wrong but rather will their strategy yield positive results--at this point, IMO, their reliance on strategic bombing has not done that...
Posted by: Bill | Saturday, August 05, 2006
I, tried to comment before, but two of my extensive comments disappeared in cyberspace after I wrote them. Solution: write in Word and then paste to tdaxp.
The Israel as a colonial or imperialistic power argument is as stale as the air inside Arafat’s coffin. A sate that was formed by refugees and their offspring escaping the anti-Semitism of colonial Europe can hardly qualify as a colonialist power unless you use a very warped definition of the concept. Are the Israelis colonial settlers in the mold of Great Britain’s expansionists? Or are they more similar to the French who colonized North Africa? The Israelis simply don’t fit the mold of other commercialistic empires.
The truth is that the refugees who moved from Europe and the Middle East to what is now Israel arrived with none of the armaments traditionally associated with imperialist conquest. If Israel is a colonialist power, then it must be credited for being the first one to use rakes and hoes as their tools of conquest. The Israelis did not take away the land from its legal owners. They purchased the land from absentee landlords. They did not take the land by force.
There are no easy overnight solutions for the problems of Lebanon. Ultimately, the people of Lebanon have to decide whether or not they want to live in a failed state or in a functioning democracy. Lebanon’s troubles did not start last month when the Israelis launched the first flight of Vipers into Lebanese airspace. Concealed under the calm seas was the Hezbollah dragon. One thing is certain Lebanon minus Hezbollah equals a better Lebanon. Many Lebanese realize that. Unfortunately, wiping Hezbullah from the face of the earth is certainly a tall order. Iran and Syria will do their best to prevent that from happening. Not all Lebanese will be driven into the arms of the jihadists. The US media makes it look like that’s what’s happening. Lebanon was not a functioning country even before the Israelis chose to take action against Hezbollah. A functioning democracy does not allow a terrorist organization to run an armed mini-state - that can declare wars and launch attacks against a neighboring country - within its borders. If it does allow that, all bets are off. Lebanon has been betrayed by its own leadership, not by the US or Israel.
The comparison between the IDF and own armed forces is irrelevant. Israel is a small nation surrounded by enemies and their forces reflect that. Our forces and the Israeli forces operate under very different political circumstances. The IDF is a formidable and competent force when you consider that Israel is about the size of New Jersey and with a population of roughly 6 million people. The fact that they have been able to fend off all attacks from far more numerous Arab forces repeatedly, speaks for itself. Even the IDF operations in Lebanon back in 1982 were wildly mischaracterized by the US and Western media. Today the situation is even worse. This is an ongoing military operation. You can’t call it failure at this early stage. Were our military operations in Europe and the Pacific a failure back in 1943? You don’t wage war expecting an uninterrupted sequence of successes. There are always setbacks when you fight a war. The Israelis fight in their own unique way and with different purposes. Comparing their operations to our own operations in the Middle East and the Balkans is really an inappropriate metric to determine their competence in battle. That being said, armed forces fight and win battles, wars are won by nations. The Israelis fight as a nation, the IDF is just their shield and spear.
Posted by: Sonny | Saturday, August 05, 2006
What is it about Israel that bring out the hate in otherwise regular people? I am always amazed by this.
Posted by: purpleslog | Saturday, August 05, 2006
Eddie, Thank you for you thoughtful response. You're (a) and (b) points I would agree with, but they do refute your previous comment:
"What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation."
If resisting foreign occupation was the primary motivation then it wouldn't matter who the foreign occupier was, but as you know that has not been the case. So we must adjust our theory to the fact that Lebanon has been occupied by Ottoman Turks, the French, the Syrians and the Israelis with the Iranians engaging in a proxy occupation and yet only the Israelis have been the target of coordinated violence and hatred. That says something very clearly and I don't think I need to articulate the implications of that, it should be obvious.
As far as the use of the term "apartheid" goes. This is not a matter of demographics or cooked up numbers, it is a matter of rhetoric. There is only one reason why people use the term "apartheid" in reference to Israel and that is as a rhetorical tactic to discredit by association. It is the equivalent of the never-ending accusations that the US is a fascist state, Bush is Hitler, and the Bush Admin's arguments are those of the "Nazi court philosopher". Their only purpose is to deligitimize whatever is being asssociated with "apartheid" or "fascist". From what I see you are presenting an argument addressing the real issue of a Palestinian population boom and how Israel will deal with it. That is a valid issue, but I think that by using the term "apartheid" you undermine your argument because that term has a lot of weight that overwhelms any argument you could make. That is why it is such a common tactic of the DU-style left.
"The “Greater Israel” idea..." I understand the concern for this. But isn't there also a "Greater Palestinian" or "Greater Arab" of even "Greater Islam" idea. The Greater Israel idea is wrong, but the Greater Islam idea that requires the complete elimination of Israel is a far greater problem, with more significant consequences for the US.
My point about India and the Philippines touches on the issue of legitimacy. When people argue about Israel it always is an argument about legitimacy, e.g. Israel is wrong because it is at root an illegitimate state. India, the Philippines, and Israel all became independent, self-governing states in the late 40s. Each of them has had and continues to have their problems with Muslims. And yet of the three only Israel has its legitimacy as a state questioned. Again there is a reason Israel is singled out. We need to make a distinction between valid criticisms of the policies that any state is subject to, and criticisms whose sole purpose is to challenge the legitimacy of a particular state.
Posted by: phil | Sunday, August 06, 2006
phil says this :
[quote]As far as the use of the term "apartheid" goes. This is not a matter of demographics or cooked up numbers, it is a matter of rhetoric. There is only one reason why people use the term "apartheid" in reference to Israel and that is as a rhetorical tactic to discredit by association. It is the equivalent of the never-ending accusations that the US is a fascist state, Bush is Hitler, and the Bush Admin's arguments are those of the "Nazi court philosopher". Their only purpose is to deligitimize whatever is being asssociated with "apartheid" or "fascist". From what I see you are presenting an argument addressing the real issue of a Palestinian population boom and how Israel will deal with it. That is a valid issue, but I think that by using the term "apartheid" you undermine your argument because that term has a lot of weight that overwhelms any argument you could make. That is why it is such a common tactic of the DU-style left."[/quote]
OK. I'll bite. I'll try to make the argument for the legitimacy of the apartheid language.
The point about Israel is this. Yep. It's not the slightest bit like a traditional European colonial conqueror. But nor is it at all like India which was formed by the natives reclaiming their traditional lands from a declining British empire.
We all accept that the European jewish ethnic group were victims of genocide and had a legitimate concern to find a new home away from that crazy continent. We grant that there was a large existing jewish population in this part of the world before the creation of Israel. We can accept that the European jews went to Israel with good intentions, optimism, fine morals and an excellent rule-set.
But we also have to acknowledge that it's very unusual to try to create a new nation-state filled with, and run by, a dominant ethnic group who are almost all recent immigrants; transposed from somewhere very far away, with a very different culture.
And if the jews didn't exactly invade with an army, they certainly embraced a hawkish approach to defend their new homeland once they got there.
That's got to create friction. (Think about how Americans currently feel about the hispanic cultural invasion of California and I think you'll get to get an inkling of how it looked from an arab perspective. )
Today, the demographics are in the Palestinians' favour. They are (or will soon be) the majority in the greater area of Israel plus Occupied Territories. And that trend won't change as long as Israelis remain systematically wealthier than Palestinians.
So what is to be done about this?
I'm pretty sure the right thing to do, from the point of view of both the survival of Israel as a state, and the peace and happiness and economic prosperity in the region, is for Israel to accept that it has conquered the occupied territories.
It's not going to give them up, so it should acknowledge that these people are now citizens of Israel, give them a vote (for representatives in the Israeli parliament, not the PA), give them the same legal rights and welfare benefits that are enjoyed by other Israeli citizens, and essentially give them a stake in, and try to integrate them with, Israel's culture and its "core" values.
Sure. It will be tougher than integrating East and West Germany, or Northern Ireland into the UK. But eventually it will have to be done. Because Israel can't survive forever as a fortress. It's not economically viable without the US pumping money into the place. Nor can it bomb the majority arab culture (internal or external) into liking it.
Unfortunately, Israel shows no desire to accept this logic. It doesn't want a single-state solution, where Palestinians *are* Israelis, because it (justifiably) fears that its own, European Jewish culture, religion and ethnic identity would get swamped.
But at the same time, it's too frightened to let Palestine loose as a genuinely independent (and probably hostile) state, as well.
Ultimately, the demographic destiny is that Israel must become an arab country with a muslim majority and a jewish minority. Or it must make Palestine as wealthy as Israel so the fertility rate comes down.
That is really the only way to restore any kind of stable, organic social fabric in this part of the world. But, right now, Israel is oriented around jewish "identity politics" : how to *protect* this imported European culture and religion even as its population diminishes relative to those around it.
*This* is what makes the apartheid analogies so horribly resonant. Like the white south Africans, the jewish ethnic group find themselves shipwrecked by history : an unpopular minority washed up within a territory they nominally call home. But which is, in reality, a very different sort of place.
Naturally, they're *scared*. As in white South Africa, politics gets oriented around how to defend their culture against the ethnic "other". As in white South Africa, the distinction between citizen members of this ethnic elite and the disempowered majority has been *institutionalized*. And the majority of the elite support the institutional injustice because the alternative seems like the destruction of everything they value. As in white South Africa, the government has to resort to increasingly heavy handed tactics against increasingly aggressive "insurgents". As in white South Africa, factions are identified by their ethnicity. The Jews fear and hate the Arabs. The Arabs hate and resent the Jews.
How can this disfunctional situation *not* be compared with Apartheid South Africa? It's the best recent model we have of this kind of thing.
And the really great thing about the analogy, is not all the Goodwin's Law stuff (which always strikes me as a bit rich coming from people who use the term "Islamofascist"), but that South Africa managed to end apartheid *without* a bloodbath.
Of course, the stakes are higher. S.A. wasn't strategically on the doorstep of the world's energy prize. Xhossa terrorists weren't firing rockets into Cape Town every day. Nelson Mandela is a different kind of man from Yasser Arafat.
But, it's an inspirational idea; today, when people choose war because they've forgotten that there can be any alternative; to look at another apparently intractable ethnic knot, and see that it got resolved by negotiation and "truth and reconciliation" committees. Not one race driving the other into the sea.
Posted by: phil jones | Monday, August 07, 2006
"That's got to create friction. (Think about how Americans currently feel about the hispanic cultural invasion of California and I think you'll get to get an inkling of how it looked from an arab perspective. )"
Do you mean the California that used to be part of Mexico and now it's part of the US? Should the Cubans give Miami "back" to the Americans. What about my fellow Puertorricans who are "occupying" Orlando? As a matter of fact should the US get out of Puerto Rico, and give independece to the Boricuas?
Posted by: Sonny | Monday, August 07, 2006
Excellent point about Pape's statement. I must say I have to withdraw that particular portion of the comment because I have recently read some excellent counterpoints to his that negate it IMHO.
I've used the term budding "apartheid" state for the past 7 years, (a) because it conveys the serious danger of the end results of current Israeli policies and (b) its a heartfelt hope that Israel not go down that road. Phil Jones much-better comment relating to this captures my sentiment exactly.
"Greater Islam" is a fantasy of impoverished, hopeless masses and a few idealogical menaces who send men off to die for a worthless cause. It has already been negated by the peace treaties Israel has signed with Egypt and Jordan (and very nearly did with Syria had the Clinton Admin. supported the effort more in 2000). It could very well be further negated in the future with a leadership that reflects the true nature of the Iranian people. "Greater Israel" on the other hand has led to nothing but needless suffering and heartbreak for both sides, especially the Israelis outside the Orthadox wing of the country who thought they were getting a good deal after 1967 and instead got a neverending batch of headaches.
The P.I. & India have not occupied lands and resources (emphasis on the resources, especially with regards to water rights and access) that are 100% foreign to their long-term needs and interests. They are not illegitimate occupiers, the Israelis in the West Bank are. All those illegal settlements (the US policy since Bush I has been that most of them are illegal and must go) are illegitimate, not the Israeli state.
Sonny, many Mexicans and Californians can get along rather well, as can Puerto Ricans and Floridans. It is the total opposite with Israelis and Palestinians. There is concievable and justifiable short and long-term optimism about these immigrants assimilating with American society and culture. I don't see that happening with Palestinians and Israelis.
Yet if both are to have peace, this is what must happen. Israel's settlement building since '67 (the moment Israel became a colonial power) and Arafat's destructive leadership have ensured that a Palestinian state is just not very viable. So Israel will have to choose between somehow figuring out how to assimilate these millions of Palestinians into Israeli culture and society, banishing them all or constructing an apartheid rule system. That is unless we can somehow figure out a confederation system where we could turn Gaza into an economic powerhouse for the region.
God knows how to do that, but a quick, sure start for a better future would be for the Izzies and other outsiders to furiously and steadily promote economic opportunities for Palestinians along the "Bottom of the Pyramid" economy model. They need their dignity, and a bit of hope, back. Perhaps with that, we can avoid the apartheid/exile state. Present and near-future policies taken, I still don't believe Israel as a Jewish state will survive much longer than 15-25 more years.
Posted by: Eddie | Monday, August 07, 2006
"...many Mexicans and Californians can get along rather well, as can Puerto Ricans and Floridans. It is the total opposite with Israelis and Palestinians. There is concievable and justifiable short and long-term optimism about these immigrants assimilating with American society and culture. I don't see that happening with Palestinians and Israelis."
I know. My point was not to to say that Puerto Ricans can't get along with people from other ethnicities. My comment was in reference to Phil's comments about friction between Americans and Mexicans in California. I think that comparing the situation in the Middle East to our situation in California is inapropriate. Especially when you use phrases like "hispanic cultural invasion". Personally, I don't consider influence from other cultures to be a cultural invasion. That's part of the beauty of being American. We don't need to fear "cultural invasions". We are far more stronger than that. We are an assimilation machine. Part of the beauty of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, and South Florida is the particular Hispanic flavor of each region while still being very much American. We are not a monolithic culture but an ever evolving mix and that's what makes the United States the best damn country in the world.
Posted by: Sonny | Monday, August 07, 2006
I'm certainly not trying to advocate or justify any "friction". I agree that embracing and absorbing other cultures is both a symptom and cause of healthy societies.
I was just using that to help drive people's intuitive understanding. Plenty of times I read people writing about Arab / Israel who essentially write like they couldn't possibly even begin to imagine why arabs might resent the creation of Israel - and assume that it must be special kind of perversity of arabic brains to be so upset by it. Whereas I'd say that fearing and rejecting influxes of strange new people is a fairly universal human experience you can catch echos of everywhere.
If you personally don't have any feelings of this sort, then I applaud you. I'm certainly not trying to sell them to you or legitimize them. Quite the opposite. We should think like you.
Posted by: phil jones | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I agree with you. The situation with Israel in the Middle East is bound to create friction. As you noted previously, here in the US we also have friction whenever two ethnicities come in contact with each other. As a member of a minority, I feel that friction on a daily basis, but it's not the driving force in my life. To some extent, I can understand the resentment that Arabs feel due to the creation of the state of Israel, however, that resentment should not be the driving force of your society.
Posted by: Sonny | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Completely agree. Shouldn't be the driving force.
But we need to recognise that it exists and have a strategy for overcoming it. Just saying it's not legitimate, or ignoring it, won't work.
Posted by: phil jones | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Bottom Line: Israel needs to seriously consider its long-term position as a society, nation and regional neighbor.
Do they want to work towards a future where they and the Palestinians could build an admirable economic dynamo in the region (complete with water resources that many in the region do not have, an issue that will become as important than water in the near to mid future unless technology somehow heads it off)?
This is highly possible, but it will take Israeli and American imagination and a regional reckoning with all parties on their security and Israel's. Because you can't shrink the Gap without lifting hopes among the people who are your direct neighbors, as well as a massive community of people who live within your borders but feel ostracized, angry and hopeless.
The Arabs must play a part too (the Saudis, Jordanians and Egyptians have all been hung out to dry over the past 6 years), but this is primarily an issue the Israelis have to take the lead on. They have to (a) be prepared to offer their neighbors security and (b) be prepared to invest heavily in the Palestinian's future. A benvevolent form of economic imperialism ala South Africa in Mozambique/Zimbabwe would be the best route for the short-term, building up Palestinian infrastructure and spurring confidence.
Posted by: Eddie | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I think we agree on the end result, but disagree on the means to acheive it.
As Eddie writes:
"This is highly possible, but it will take Israeli and American imagination and a regional reckoning with all parties on their security and Israel's."
It's good that you also add Arab and Muslim imagination (and good will and determination) to that mix. Unfortunately Iran (and Syria) are not too cooperative on this matter. And...what about Europe? Are the Europeans so irrelevant these days than they don't merit even an honorary mention in this matter? After all, if we are going to play the blame game, shouldn't the Euros play some part in the solution? After all, many Israelis are the descendants of refugees who fled the horrible anti-Semitism of Europe.
The Saudis et al, have not been hung out to dry. The Israelis can take the lead all they want but it is very difficult to negotiate with people who want to see your country erased from the face of the earth.
Posted by: Sonny | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I'm very, very keen to get away from the blame game. I think blame and trying to work out who's "guilty", and who's "fault" things are, leads to a never-ending cycle of recrimination and stalling as everyone waits for other people to say "sorry" and get punished first before they'll do their bit.
And meanwhile, people are dying. Blame and fault finding are a terrible approach to solving the middle-eastern problem.
Instead, I'm in favour of the "power game". Who has the power to do what to help get things moving? And let's call on them to responsibly exercise that power for everyone's benefit. If you're in deadlock, someone have the courage and vision to make their move first.
The reason I think that ultimately this is Israel's move to make is that Israel has two advantages over most of the other players :
- it's a definite, well defined *agent* with a coherent decision making process, and the ability to execute its decisions.
- it's democratic and open to public scrutiny.
It's rich too, which makes things easier.
Now what is it that Israel can do to get the ball rolling that other players can't?
It can decide to end the limbo status of the Palestinians.
We can all see that this status contributes to the problem and hurts Israel's legitimacy in the eyes of the arab world. (And a lot of the rest of the world too.)
We can see that even if the position of the Palestinians isntt the whole of arab grievances against Israel, it's by far the largest source of energy for the whole disfunctional system.
And we can see that this is something that the Israelis can solve *unilaterally* without waiting for anyone else to do anything. Hence breaking the deadlock.
Were it to take the decision and either get out and let Palestine form its own independent state, or accept that Palestine is fully part of Israel and hand out citizenship to the Palestinians; then it would instantly eliminate a lot of the reasons for anti-Israeli feeling around the world.
*Of course*, other agents should be doing their things too. Hamas should stop suicide bombing. Hezbollah should stop the rockets. Israel should get out of Lebanon. Lebanon should try to disarm Hezbollah etc. etc. But none of these things, by themselves, ends the limbo-status of Palestinians. Nor will they be anything like as bold and definitive move towards finally ending the situation.
Posted by: phil jones | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Saudi Arabia is a willing partner for peace at this point. To that end, if Syria were made the right offer, Syria would be a partner for peace (1), a state of affairs that's come tantalizingly close in the recent past.
Inevitably, Iran will become the great nation it longs and deserves to be, defined by an open, robust democracy with some elements of Islam and Perisan culture thrown in there for good effect. This is my greatest hope and dream for the region, because it would offer a trio of strong, vibrant democracies in the region (Israel, Turkey & Iran) that could help stem the inevitable flow of chaos in Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere.
Phil Jones is spot-on with his policy advice for Israel. If I were America, I would follow this up by wrapping the EU, India, Russia, China and Japan into a binding committment to support Palestinian reconstruction efforts conducted by Palestinians themselves with help from the considerable Palestinian expat community abroad, including those willing to work from the multitude of ghettoes and camps in Jordan, Egypt, etc.
There is room for manuever. We can make a "new" middle east out of this mess, but it takes courage of a different kind than that seen on the battlefield, as well as ingenuity.
Posted by: Eddie | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I am not advocating for continuing the blame game. The Arabs already do a pretty good job themselves of blaming everybody but themselves about their sad state of affairs. My point is that I think Europe is getting a free ride in all of this. Pretty much all they do is criticize, but with very little action. It took us Americans to intervene in the Balkans to stop the genocide in their own backyard.
People are dying. True. People are dying in Iraq too at the hands of jihadists. People are dying in Darfur at the hands of Muslims. Israel has the basic right to protect its citizens from terrorism.
In this case, all the roads lead back to Iran and its religious extremism that's keeping the Middle East in the Gap. Iran and by extension the Hezbollah's view of Islam is incompatible with peaceful coexistence.
The grief that Israel gets for defending its borders from hostile enemies is really out of proportion when you compare it to any other nation in the world, except maybe us Americans. The Arabs have done far more brutal things against their own kinds that the Israelis ever imagined. The Russians killed thousands of civilians in Chechnya in the year 2000, yet I never saw Wolf Blitzer reporting from Grozny. I won't even mention what the Chinese have done to stamp down their perceived enemies.
The Muslims need to start concentrating in developing the talents of their people (men and women) for things other that launching rockets at civilians, building IEDs and suicide bombing. If not they'll keep lagging behind. Israel is a tiny nation (about the size of New Jersey) with about 6 million people. That's almost a rounding error compared to the combined population of the Muslim world. The Muslims problems with Israel is not about land. It's about their own failure and looking at the Israeli success in their own backyard.
Posted by: Sonny | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
I'm sorry to say that I think this perfectly illustrates the sort of thinking I hope we can get away from.
You said :
"I am not advocating for continuing the blame game."
And then you spent the rest of the post essentially continuing the blame game, by enumerating all the other agents to whom blame could be attached. Namely :
- the arabs, for not accepting responsibility
- the europeans, for not getting blamed enough
- jihadists in Iraq
- muslims in Darfur
- people who don't think Israel has the right to defend its people from terrorism
- Iran, for keeping the middle-east in the Gap and for being incompatible with peaceful co-existence
- people who give Israel grief for defending itself
- arabs, for being worse than Israelis
- Russians, for atrocities in Chechnia
- Wolf Blitzer
- the Chinese
- muslims, for not developing the talents of their people in any direction other than rocketry and improvised armaments
- muslims, for being full of envious, failure-driven hate for Israeli success.
Like I say, I certainly don't think *any* of these agents are innocent of what you accuse them of. But the point is, we have to get away from the idea that their guilt is an *impediment* to us just getting on and doing the right thing for ourselves.
There are many right things that need to be done. And one of them is solving the ambiguity of the status of the Palestinians. *Not one* of the items on your list above actually prevents Israel from doing that.
Obsessing about the guilt of others is a waste of valuable energy that isn't going to help the situation in the slightest. The middle-east is doomed for as long as everyone keeps playing that game.
Posted by: phil jones | Tuesday, August 08, 2006
There is a difference between blame, responsibility and accountability, the last two essential traits of effective leadership. Something that will be needed for years to come if the situation is to be solved. Negotiations are not made in a vacuum or with a willfull ignorance of history. You also have to see the track records of those accusing Israel.
The Israelis withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and all they received in return was a barrage of hundreds of rockets aimed at their people lauched from the areas they used to control. Are they supposed to take a beating sitting down? The Hezbollah declared war on Israel. A war that they would not consider finished until Israel dissapears from the face of the earth. How do you negotiate with that? War is never pretty or clean. The Israelis are the last ones that one to go back to Lebanon. Notice how they've been dragging their feet to get a substantial ground component in southern Lebanon. They have made many mistakes is waging this particular chapter of the war, but fighting terrorists who hide among the innocent is never easy. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing the reality that you are in, no matter how brutal or uncomfortable that reality might be. Like I said before blame is one thing, responsibility is another. Just like the Israelis are responsible for defending their children from terrorist attacks, the Muslims are responsible for giving their children a better future than what they are creating for them today. And the problem goes way beyond Israel. We can evacuate all six million plus Israelis from the Levant starting tomorrow and I bet you that than won't solve the problems of the Middle East.
Posted by: Sonny | Wednesday, August 09, 2006
26 comments! Wow! A crazy good discussion, all!
Note you switch from an absolute ("target innocent") to a relative ("recklessly" ... "little") standard. I'll leave the issue of rational, universal standards to the side, and merely point out that if you're going to use relative standards, they should be rational to their context. The Core/Seam/Gap model provides such a context -- so perhaps you shouldn't "care less what intellectual boxes political theory puts a fighting force in."
"In imprisoning, exiling and torturing countless Palestinian activists (both non-violent and violent) from 1967-Oslo Accord, it helped limit the creation of a viable, healthy and open Palestinian civil society,"
Most of the damage to Palestinian civil society came in the wake of Arafat's return to the West Bank. The First Intifadah was largely nonviolent (in spite of Arafat's orders for violent resistance) and self governed, self-supported, and self-propagated. The PLO did more to destroy this than the Arab dictatorships which ruled those lands from 1948 to 19967, or the relatively hands-off Israeli governance in the two decades that followed.
"The P.I. & India have not occupied lands and resources (emphasis on the resources, especially with regards to water rights and access) that are 100% foreign to their long-term needs and interests."
Some  folks  disagree.
Thanks for the job offer. I'll hold you to it. ;-)
"[Israel] also should have known how hard it would be to destroy Hezbollah, and set their goals lower."
Certainly Israel should have realized its Effects-Based Operation (EBO) attack on Hezbollah was unlikely to succeed. EBO, like its little brother 'global guerrillas,' assumes that an imaginary 'systempunkt' exists which would allow one to rapidly destroy an enemy system will relatively little damage. Classic counter-examples, such as the increasing German airplane production in WWII, are typically ignored by these advocates of a silver bullet.
"How exactly is Israel 'winning' at this juncture? What is your metric?"
Israel's goal in Lebanon is isolating Syria from that Republic. See, for example, A Clean Break (1996)  An international solution to the fight that brings in the French (Lebanon's traditional protectors) would be a definite win.
In most western countries Jews are a market-dominant minority. This often leads to problems 
"Ultimately, the demographic destiny is that Israel must become an Arab country with a Muslim majority and a Jewish minority. Or it must make Palestine as wealthy as Israel so the fertility rate comes down."
Why? By the logic that Israel must become an Arab State, Singapore is destined to become a Malay State
"That is really the only way to restore any kind of stable, organic social fabric in this part of the world. But, right now, Israel is oriented around Jewish "identity politics" : how to *protect* this imported European culture and religion even as its population diminishes relative to those around it."
Recent historical occurrences imply that Israelis are at least as concerned with "ethnic cleansing" at best, "genocide" at worst.
“We are not a monolithic culture but an ever evolving mix and that's what makes the United States the best damn country in the world.”
Here here! 
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Friday, August 11, 2006
Bravo! That Singapore example is an excellent challenge to my thinking.
I have no idea about the relative fertility rates of Singapore and Malaysia, but I bet Singapore's is lower than Malaysia being, probably, wealthier.
I know there has certainly been Malaysian agitation in the past for re-incorporating Singapore with its ethnic Chinese population. But I'm guessing it's never reached the horrific levels of mutual hatred we now have between Israelis and the arabs.
Why not? Well, although Singapore is richer than Malaysia, Malasia is still an Asian Tiger with a dynamic, growing economy. And although there is an ethnic prejudice in Malaysia, it's a country which has significantly large (and rich and politically powerful) Indian and Chinese populations, which I guess keep a check on the Malays. I also suppose that means that there are poor Indians and Chinese in Malaysia keeping up their demographic end as well.
Probably the fact that Singapore is a minute island with few natural resources makes it less compelling aquisition. Even China had to acknowledge that there wasn't much value to Hong Kong *except* its people and economy and made relatively little change to either when it took over.
Beyond that, we also have the fact that although Singapore's ethnic Chinese population is different from the Malaysia's Malays, they did not arrive en masse with the independence of Singapore. The population is largely the same as existed under the British(?).
Of course, the obvious reason why there hasn't been so much friction, is the Singapore has played an entirely defensive strategy, and not invaded and occupied any of mainland Malaysia. But that, admittedly is irrelevant to my demographics argument.
I'm assuming you are using "concerned with" to mean "worried about" rather than "attempting". Although I see both as symptoms of the same thing.
It's interesting to try to discern the fundamental assumptions underlying our two positions.
You either genuinely believe, or assume for political consistency, that Israel's behavior has played no part in creating the hatred that much of the arab world feels towards it. Because, in your view, it is a wholly innocent victim, you naturally, can't imagine any reason for this hatred, and assume it must be irrational prejudice, reinforced by scapegoating for faults within the arab community itself.
I, on the other hand, take what I consider to be the more optimistic view : that Israel's actions *have* contributed to Arab hostility. For me, this is more optimistic because it's corrolory is that Israel can modify its behavior and in doing so, change the climate of arab opinion that is currently against it.
Of course, arab hostility is not wholly caused by Israel. And reversing the process won't happen overnight. It will be long, hard, often without visible progress, and will require couragous, visionary leadership from the Israeli government and people, and concerted support from the rest of the world.
But it can be done.
If you see Israel as uninvolved in the causes of arab hostility, and the arabs as mere lunatics, then naturally you have no hope that a process of mutual de-escalation and raproachment can occur; and you can only put your faith in a total war to destroy one side or the other, where naturally, the Israelis (as the good guys) must be supported to win.
I, of course, see this as not merely wrong, but *dangerously* wrong, as it's a recipe for cheering on ever-escalating violence between the two sides which in my view, won't solve the problem.
Does that sound like an acurate description of your position? I think that's an accurate description of mine.
Posted by: phil jones | Saturday, August 12, 2006
Thank you for your excellent comment.
Singapore not only has a smaller fertility rate than Malaysia (1.06 children/woman  v. 3.04 children/woman ), but also a lower one than Israel (2.41 children/woman ). This is why Israel and Singapore had nearly identical 1950 populations, but Israel is now twice as populous as Singapore.. 
While Singapore is hardly allies with her neighbors (a friend of mine in the Singapore Air Force, who has contributed to this blog in the past, mentions that it is believed that Singapore flights over Malay airspace would be shot down), the major difference comes from specific actions by their larger neighbors. Both the Singapore Chinese and Israeli Jews are market-oriented minorities, and so naturally distrusted by their larger, poorer, and less market-wise neighbors. Earlier this century both the Levantine Jews and Straits Chinese were concentrated, but with smaller populations throughout this region.
The Malay response was to kick Singapore out of Malaya. The fear of Chinese power led the Malays to try a containment strategy, hoping that a small, politically isolated Chinese neighbor was less dangerous than a small, politically connected Chinese constituency. This is how Singapore became the first state in modern history to become independence against her will. 
The Arab response was to incorporate Israel into the Arab League. The fear of Jewish power led the Arabs to try a rollback strategy, hoping that a small Jewish constituency. This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singapore#Separationbackfired spectacularly twice, with Israel making significant territorial gains in 1948 and 1967.
It is likely that Arab states who would have accepted the UN partition would now face a neighbor no more innocuous than Singapore - small, rich, powerful friends, and essentially pacifist.. It is also likely that a Malay Federation that would have attempted to military crush Singapore than hope for their collapse would possess much less of the Straits than it now does. Lee Kwan Yew desired union with Malaysia no less than Shimon Peres desired membership in the Arab League. Both were rebuffed, but Israel's Arab opponents chose a much more foolish and violent strategy than the Malays.
The Jews are at fault for Arab hostility in the same manner than the Chinese are at fault for Malay hostility, or the Hutus are at fault for Rwandan hostility, or the Indians were at fault for Ugandan hostility: they are a market dominant minority. For the same reason that the Nazism was the Socialism of Foolish -- an understanding that one's group is economically weak against another identifiable one, but missing the nature of that identification -- modern antizionism is too. Even if Israel was but a state in some peaceable Arab Union, the power relationship would be clear and growing outside forceful interference. The Arabs may be fools but they are not lunatics. They are rational actors under faulty assumptions that are hard to unlearn through Bayesian processes, because new events really new confirm present understandings.
And that interference would come -- witness discrimination against Anglo, Asian, and Jewish minorities in the United States under the rubric 'Affirmative Action' -- similar distrust for similar reasons. Yet ethnic redistribution under a Gap ruleset is bloodier than under a Core ruleset, and the Jews know it. (Well, most of the time... )
There is no need for total war. The PLO was defeated without total war, but through maneuver and patience . All that Israel needs is a nonviolent status quo and the patience to survive until her Islamic neighbors are brought up from the Gap. The Jewish State has been blessed by the courageous, visionary leadership necessary to survive in an area where reversing the Islamic slide into the Gap won't hapen overnight, and where there often won't be visible process. Thank God.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, August 12, 2006
I think something went wrong in this paragraph
The Arab response was to incorporate Israel into the Arab League. The fear of Jewish power led the Arabs to try a rollback strategy, hoping that a small Jewish constituency. This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singapore#Separationbackfired spectacularly twice, with Israel making significant territorial gains in 1948 and 1967.
Hoping that the small Jewish constituency would what?
The Jews are at fault for Arab hostility in the same manner than the Chinese are at fault for Malay hostility
Surely not. Chinese Singaporians are not (to my knowledge) occupying part of Malaysia and keeping a sizable population of Malays stateless. I'm sure the situation of the Palestinians is not the whole cause of Arab hostility, but it is part of what energises it.
Do you want to deny this has occured? Or do you want to say that bad behaviour by Palestinians justifies the occupation to the extent that we no longer need to consider its role in anti-Israeli hostility among the arabs?
I'm a bit suspicious of your attempt to explain arab hostility in terms of Israel's more succesful economic rule-set. Ie. hatred inspired by "an understanding that one's group is economically weak against another identifiable one, but missing the nature of that identification"
For a start, arabs are traditionally great traders. Even under the Ottomans and the Brits. Got any evidence that they'd have special qualms about trading with jews?
Secondly, arab hostility did exist from before the creation of an independent state of Israel, and a time when Israel was a country of poor refugees. You can imagine various explanations for Arab hostility at the creation of Israel, but envy for it's wealth and success seems unlikely.
The Arabs may be fools but they are not lunatics. They are rational actors under faulty assumptions that are hard to unlearn through Bayesian processes, because new events really new confirm present understandings.
Interesting quote. What are the faulty assumptions, and given that current evidence is not refuting them, how could you change the evidence so that arab Baysian learning algorithms did start to change their behavior?
I disagree about the PLO "defeat". The PLO was simply a particular named political party and leader. The defeat was not a defeat of its ideas, or moitivations or even of the capabilities of anti-Israeli Palestinians, it's simply changed the organization within which they work. And there's no reason to believe the PLO couldn't be back next election or the one after.
Islamic neighbours are to be brought up from the Gap how, exactly? If Israel is continuously punishing them by bulldozing their houses and bombing their bridges?
I'm not just asking this rhetorically, I think there's a flaw in the plan to keep neighbours supressed by fire-power.
Israel can, indeed, bomb the neighbours into a state of depression and reluctance to attack. But such a defeated state only lasts for a while. Eventually the neighbour will have to regain confidence and rebuild the economy. Inevitably as confidence returns, and as local politics returns, anti-Israeli agitation will return too. And if Israel then bombs them again, the cycle repeats.
If we're to encourage them out of the gap, and make peace between the arabs and Israel, we have to incentivate them with genuine carrots, not mere absences of sticks.
Posted by: phil jones | Saturday, August 12, 2006
Your comment came on a bad day for me. I hope you do not mind the delay.
The corrupted sentence should read "This backfired spectularly twice."
"Surely not. Chinese Singaporians are not (to my knowledge) occupying part of Malaysia and keeping a sizable population of Malays stateless."
Nor did Arab hostility to Jews begin with with Israeli occupation of anything. Both are market-oriented minorities, and both have paid a price in distrust and derision for that.
"I'm sure the situation of the Palestinians is not the whole cause of Arab hostility, but it is part of what energises it. "
It's 'some concrete motivation, when the abstract could not do the same.' For the same reason every religion, including Islam, uses iconography. Yet the icon is not the cause of the religion, but an incarnation of it.
"Or do you want to say that bad behaviour by Palestinians justifies the occupation to the extent that we no longer need to consider its role in anti-Israeli hostility among the arabs?"
I'm not sure what you mean by 'the occupation.' Certainly a normative judgement on our part has little to nothing to do with the motivation of someone else.
"I'm a bit suspicious of your attempt to explain arab hostility in terms of Israel's more successful economic rule-set. "
Here I must clarify myself: I'm speaking much more of the market-orientation of /Jews/ than the market-rules of /Israel/. Similarly, Malay hostility toward Chinese existed before the independence of Singapore -- that's why Singapore was expelled from Malaya.
"For a start, arabs are traditionally great traders."
The terms "traditionally" and "classically" should not be confused. Otherwise the Great War would have hinged on the Italian legions!
The reason Egypt's population declined for half a millennium before European colonialism was Arab economic mismanagement. The anti-market attitude of the Ottoman Empire certainly didn't help, either.
"Got any evidence that they'd have special qualms about trading with Jews?"
Little is needed. Market-oriented black Ugandans certainly traded with Indian Ugandans happily, for mutual benefit.
"What are the faulty assumptions, and given that current evidence is not refuting them, how could you change the evidence so that arab Baysian learning algorithms did start to change their behavior?" and "Islamic neighbours are to be brought up from the Gap how, exactly? "
The faulty assumption is a culture-level of analysis, and assuming that the causes of future cultural actions are past cultural actions. (This is why, in Tom Friedman's words, many French Arabs have particular trouble understanding globalization. The culture-level of analysis fits well with Emile Durkheim's 'omni cultura ex cultura' , further deepening the conclusions.)
The evidence could be changed by creating successful, market-oriented Arab states. The gulf principalities may be a start, but something like a Muslim Brethren takeover of Syria or Egypt would be a better example (as Sharia embodies many market principles).
"I disagree about the PLO "defeat". The PLO was simply a particular named political party and leader. The defeat was not a defeat of its ideas, or motivations or even of the capabilities of anti-Israeli Palestinians, it's simply changed the organization within which they work."
Disagree. The PLO's coincided with the end of the unifying vision, the grand ideal, the overarching theme of nationalist-secularist Arabism in historic Palestine. Hamas is a different creature with different goals.
"Eventually the neighbour will have to regain confidence and rebuild the economy. Inevitably as confidence returns, and as local politics returns, anti-Israeli agitation will return too."
Here the relation is the reverse: the better the core economy, the less likely the danger (because that state would be more globalized). The danger of the Hezbollah War is that it hurt Lebanon's economy too severely.
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Wednesday, August 16, 2006