Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hearts and Minds

Those of us of the Viet Nam era remember so well the "Hearts and Minds" mantra. Of course, it was used to refer to the hearts and minds of other peoples we were trying to "free".

Today's IHT had three interesting pieces.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/08/mideast/vatican.php
http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/08/opinion/edkhalidi.php
http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/08/opinion/edlichfield.php

The first surely raises eyebrows. A Roman cardinal comparing Gaza to concentration camps. A bit strong? Perhaps. But taken in concert with the second article, one surely must recall a city called Warsaw. The only significant difference is that Gaza is far more than a city, and all of Gaza is a ghetto. It is difficult to describe it any other way.

Quite chilling is Khilidi's comment:

Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: "The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people."

So, rather than win the "hearts and Minds" of the Palestinians, folks like Yaalon wish to crush them. With this mindset, can a workable accord, such as that suggested in the Lichfield piece, ever be reached? Do people with minds such as Yaalon have a heart?

Al

P.S. While speaking of "hearts and minds", there are conflicting forces in my heart and mind. My maternal family hails from Kobryn, Belorus, where the Nazis diligently recorded their success in eradicating 99.9% of the Jewish population, all of my relatives included. My mind reels at the totality of this barbarity, and my heart is pierced by my innocent kinfolks' slaughter. I do cry "Never Again!" But then, statements such as understanding that "in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people", is calling for genocide of the spirit. The reduction of a people to eternal underclass status in the notion that Jewishness trumps all others. Have people like Yaalon failed to understand the broader reality of the Halocaust? No one should suffer the fate of my kin - physically or spiritually. Never!

6 comments:

seydlitz89 said...

Al-

Thoughtful post. Glad to see the blog up and running again, as FDChief mentioned earlier we were all kinda looking for a open watering hole. . .

You bring up lots of questions. What is the actual purpose of the current Israeli military/political operation? Are they actually attempting to liquidate Hamas or simply run a power play to impress the incoming Obama administration? Given the actions of their bought Congress their political operation seems in lock-step with their military offensive.

Another question that comes to mind is whether the IDF has become a one-trick pony? Consider Col. Lang's analysis . . .

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2009/01/the-idf-ground.html#more

So is the purpose of this operation to employ massacre as cover for fundamental weakness and a ploy to impress the new US president? If that is actually the goal, and not the destruction of Hamas (an iffy one in terms of probability of success in any case), then this strategy seems fundamentally flawed and the product of a national leadership which is strategically bankrupt imo.

FDChief said...

Al, Seydlitz: In my discussion of this over at GFT I concluded that the bottom line is that Israel really doesn't HAVE a long-term strategy that works as long as the Arab states and stateless entities (like Hezbullah) are persistent and ruthless. The combination of Arab fertility and Israeli belligerence mean that the two sides keep fighting until one or the other goes under.

The other thing is that ISTM apparent at this point that the Israelis are planning to keep as much of the West Bank as they can, as well as all of the Golan. There's a part of me that understands that, the wanting the 40% of the West Bank they have for strategic depth, if nothing else.

But there's another side of me that says it's nuts. The only way a people would accept peace on those terms - letting your enemy have much of, and the best of, your land - would be as a vae victus peace, the peace of the beaten.

So in a sense, the ONLY way the Israelis can win - in the long term - if the Arabs refuse to compromise is genocide.

And the only way to convince the Arabs to "compromise" (i.e. award Israel the victor's peace) is to butcher them like Carthaginians until they submit.

So is this vile? Yes. But is it "crazy" or illogical? Not if you see the situation this way, and I think many Israelis do.

Israel's real tragedy is that it was reborn in 1948, not 1248. Back in the day they could have simply butchered their Arab enemies and their glorious victory would have been celebrated in song and verse.

And thanks for the posting, Al. I join Seydlitz in celebrating the revival of "buggieboy". We've all been silent here too long, and it's pretty clear that the new "Dump" is as dead as the old one...

seydlitz89 said...

FDChief-

"So in a sense, the ONLY way the Israelis can win - in the long term - if the Arabs refuse to compromise is genocide.

And the only way to convince the Arabs to "compromise" (i.e. award Israel the victor's peace) is to butcher them like Carthaginians until they submit.

So is this vile? Yes. But is it "crazy" or illogical? Not if you see the situation this way, and I think many Israelis do."

While they may see the situation that way, that does not mean that they can accomplish such a genocide. Twenty thousand dead in Gaza would not come close to accomplishing this and before that the Israelis themselves would be too sickened to go on. This massacre is not going on in some Polish forest far from any prying eyes, but before the entire world.

How many Palestinians will they have to kill off to destroy the political identity of the Palestinian people, make them into an autonomous mass of shattered individuals belonging to no group whatsoever? Or submerging themselves into another group adopting a new political identity? Do not the current actions of Israel in fact make the Palestinian political identity even stronger?

Which Arab country is going to take them in, welcome them as members of their own country? If it didn't happen in 1948 what makes you think it will happen now?

I think this a Likud/NeoCon pipedream, there is no military, let alone "final", solution to this quandary.

FDChief said...

Seydlitz: No question - you'reright, of course, and in the post-industrial world there's no hope for a Roman or a Mongol solution for the Israelis.

Which doesn't mean that Kadima or Likud won't try it.

Part of this, too, comes from the uncritical luuuurve that the Israelis have always gotten from us. Not all, maybe not even much, but some of their willingness to close their eyes to the impossibility of genociding enough Pals to makea difference is because the know that the Cheneys and McCains and Pelosis and Joe the Plumbers and Reids and every other swinging Rchard in D.C. will shake their bloody hand and tell them what a heckuva job they're doing for God and Right...

Anyway, I think that this Gaza mess will be pointless, I think that Israel should know this but is doing it because their leaders are fools, and, like all fools, are caught in their own fooling.

At this rate in two hundred years we'll be discussing them in the same chapter with the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the County of Edessa.

seydlitz89 said...

FDChief-

As you have always said, which doesn't lead us to much new ground. Hey, I've been there . . . Sharpening my sword for chicagoboyz . . . it'll be fun.

Publius said...

The Israelis are merely practicing what many of us said in Vietnam: "get 'em by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow." We know how well that worked out in Vietnam.

Israel is truly a tragic case. By trying to achieve security, they've managed to morph into what they never wanted to be. Sort of like another nation I could mention. Security is a two-edged sword.

The essential dichotomy at play is this: How can a nation purport to espouse freedom and democracy if it reserves the goodies for only its own people and actually denies it to others under its thrall?

IMO, Israel is doomed. Not today, not tomorrow, but it's inevitable. Israel was a mistake. Well-meaning perhaps, but a mistake nonetheless.