Reader Caution —- MASSIVE Rant Ahead!
I posted a while back on whether Israel’s Gaza attack is folly. Some think it is. A few voices said “no”. It was justified, and could work. I didn’t agree with the arguments. But ok.
Today Tom Friedman weighs in with a new and I think more cynical position. Tom argues that both the massive Lebanon and Gaza attacks are effective and may be justified because they ”educate” Arab civilians to what happens when their radical leaders provoke Israel. He notes that Hezbollah has been pretty quiet since the air assaults. He hopes Hamas will get the message as well.
Tom is a good writer, and he cloaks his cynicism with the idea that the only message that matters in the Middle East is “the day after the day after”. Sounds cool, right? But in other words, IGNORE the moralistic moaning and groaning that takes place the first day after the attacks. In fact, IGNORE the human tragedy altogether. It is only the second day after the attacks that matters, when radicals and civilians see the nightmare. This will “teach” them not to fool around with Israel.
Before commenting on the substance of this, we should pause for a moment to consider what the argument says about Arabs. After all, Israel has pursued its massive retaliation strategy for decades now. Apparently Arabs learn very slowly.
But moving to the substance — Tom, what about the third day after? When people return to the question — is peace possible after the last round of hyper violence? I think the answer is no. After “class” is over on the “second day after”, some may pause long enough to re-load. But who will say “let us have peace!” No one. Will the radicals suddenly renounce violence and the old “push Israel into the sea” cause? I think not. To the contrary, the cause will be strengthened. The desire for revenge will eventually trump any “lessons learned”, and in the end we see a massive “dumbing down” effect. And the lessons learned?
Stripped of the rhetoric, the massive retaliation doctrine such as Tom embraces boils down to the old threat that ”we will destroy the village in order to save it”. Israel is destroying the village. In my view, this is the end of the lesson.
FOLLOW - Some might arge that massive retaliation has worked from time to time. The North devastated the South in the US Civil War. The Allies devastated Germany in the Second World War. In both cases, the massive destruction ended the state against state conflict (the South was a de facto state even if the North refused to recognize it). That last phrase gives a clue why applying massive retaliation here may not be so clever. Israel is not massively retaliating against a state. The states on the other side are not directly engaged in the fighting at all. What “lessons” are they learning? So, the logic of this position actually is to advocate for all out war in order to devastate Syria and Iran. Really?
2d FOLLOW - I wonder if Tom would apply his analysis to what is going on in Zimbabwe? Massive Retaliation by Mugabe to “teach” the people a lesson?
3rd FOLLOW - The Opinionator sums up the debate in the blogosphere about the attack on Gaza, and the argument is sad to read. It introduces a new ”possibility” – “peace” with hatred.