Sunday, February 19, 2006

Desire To Fight

This post was inspired by Treppenwitz' excellent post, Photo Friday (Vol. LVI) ['Neighbors' edition']. Please read that, and the comments on it, first; particulary the first comment by Dr. Bean (of Kerchoff Coffeehouse). Thanks.

Treppenwitz discussed the different ways in which Israeli bloggers (and I'd add in many other people as well) view the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and divided them into 3 basic categories. I would place myself firmly in the second of those three groups:
Some are slightly more enlightened and acknowledge that yes, there are Palestinians 'over there'... but that from 'over here' they all look like the enemy (even if 'over here' is just the next hilltop). Intellectually they understand that the majority of the Palestinians may or not hate Israelis... and that only a tiny minority are actually engaged in planning and executing attacks. But since a terrorist looks exactly the same as any of his/her blameless Palestinian neighbors, people from this second group tend to see Palestinians as individual trees... yet treat them like a forest.
Therefore, I couldn't help but agree with what he said later on:
Peace... won't come from 'confidence building gestures', increased funding, removal of roadblocks or allowing unencumbered freedom of movement. These are all 'deeds' that have been tried time and again without success. Ironically, when such 'deeds' have failed to bring about peace, the only hope that remains is 'words'.
Absolutely. But something about his conclusion didn't sound right to me:
In my opinion, peace will come from a Palestinian leadership that is powerful enough to threaten a poor villager into using his body as a bomb... yet reasonable enough to make (and keep) a public promise never to do so.
I couldn't quite figure out what about that was bothering me so, until I read Dr. Bean's comment.
I think peace will come when Palestinians lose the will to fight. That only happens after definitively losing a war. The problem is that there is no war process; there is only talk of a peace process. You’ve said before that the world will not allow the kind of war fighting done in WWII, but neither is the world brave enough to stop it. The victor of such a war will be loathed in the editorial pages, and will watch their children grow up safely.
Dr. Bean argued that Israel will have to win a war and crush the Palestinian will to fight in order to have peace. This too, didn't ring quite right to me - but also was essentially true.

Finally, I was able to pin down what was bothering me. The Palestinians will never truly lose the will to fight - even if utterly routed in a full-scale war. Peace would only last as long as the Palestinians felt they could not make any gains; this could be a longer time, but in the end, the children Dr. Bean speaks of will have to rehash the same situation all over again - if not sooner. By the same token, any leadership that is powerful enough to threaten the average poor villager into committing a murderous suicide attack is worthless in terms of leadership. They are merely powerful despots utilizing scare tactics and a brand of terrorism on their own people to achieve results they desire. This, too, cannot last.

Instead, it must be a combination of the two that will have to lead to peace. The Palestinians must lose the desire to fight, and develop a leadership not only dedicated to stopping the terrorists who still wish to commit murderous atrocities - but one which leads a society that would never listen were it to demand its people turn themselves into bombs.

But how can this be done? Simply building up the new way of viewing how life can work will not cause a shift in Palestinian culture. They will simply merge democracy and the like into that which already exists in the Palestinian and Arab political landscapes. No - instead, this viewpoint change must be combined with a defeat of the terrorist way of life which currently exists. And this will only happen in the event of a war - or something that awfully resembles one.

In a way, the election of Hamas in the most recent elections was absolutely perfect. Not only did it show the Palestinian people that they are truly in charge of their own destiny, it showed them that the government is only as powerful as the people want them to be. More importantly, this election, they chose Hamas to represent them - a group dedicated to Israel's destruction which has refused to amend their murderous charter in any way whatsoever. There is a large chance that Hamas, the elected government of the Palestinians, will carry out attacks against the State of Israel and its citizens. Similar to William T. Sherman's "March to the Sea" in the United States Civil War, Israel should take a 'no-holds-barred' approach. As Sherman said,
"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure peace."
Israel must realize what Sherman did over 140 years ago:
This war differs from other wars in this particular: We are not fighting armies but a hostile people, and must make young and old, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war.
This, combined with the recognition on the part of the Palestinians as to how much they can control their own destiny, will allow true peace to flourish. The Palestinians must lose the desire to fight; not only because they have a democracy, but by realizing that building up that democracy is the only real choice they have. The Palestinian people have finally tasted what it means for the people to be in control of aspects of their destiny. It is now time for them to learn - the hard way - that this includes not supporting those whose actions destroy the lives of everyone in the region. Eventually, they will come to the conclusion that a peaceful co-existence with their Israeli neighbors is beneficial to them in every which way - and only then will they truly have no further desire to fight.

I would therefore rephrase Treppenwitz:
Peace will come when the Palestinian people are confident enough to stand up to those who wish they use their bodies as bombs... and reasonable enough to no longer desire to fight.
Only when the Palestinians wish to act in the best interests of all their people will Israel and the Palestinians have peace.

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  1. You make the mistake of assuming that the situation will remain as it now is - in particular, you put too much weight in the rather recent and flimsy notion of Palestinian nationhood.

    "Decisive defeat" does not mean a return to the way things were between 1967 and the 1990s. The Arab population has been far too radicalized to return to such an existence.

    "Decisive defeat" is going to mean the completion of the "transfer of populations" that began with the expulsion of the Arab world's Jews.

    There will not be much left of Palestinian nationhood to fret over, nor many "Palestinians" left to mull over - or implement - a change in policy. They will finally be dispersed and absorbed into Jordan and other countries - as they should have been long ago, and as occurred naturally after the exchange of populations between India and Pakistan, and between Eastern Europe and Germany.

    Then the "Palestinians" will finally be able to get on with their lives, as Jewish refugees from Arab lands have done.

  2. I disagree. I'm not at all saying the situation will remain as it is now. My point is specifically that the Palestinians have consistently been shifting further and further to the extreme; but the concept of democracy is a new facet to the equation. I think the Palestinians will strengthen democracy - even Hamas wants it, now that they've taken such power by getting it. Hamas will also get stronger, and at some point, someone will carry out an attack. A full-scale response by Israel will destroy Hamas and the other terrorist organizations; but leave intact the concept of democratic government. The devestated Palestinians will have no choice but to elect a government not dedicated to Israel's destruction, but Palestinian construction.

    That may have been unclear; I said parts of this better a couple of weeks ago when writing about Hamas and Sharon. This may be less likely without Sharon in the picture, though.

    :) This is the problem with writing while half-asleep at 4am... plus, I was thinking too much about the last post, and may have left parts out. Here's the link to the previous one: Click.

  3. Heh. Just noticed you disagreed there as well. Ah well - no time to comment now... but I think we disagree on fundamental approaches here.

  4. Only when the Palestinians wish to act in the best interests of all their people will Israel and the Palestinians have peace

    They already are. If you look at it in terms of what has and hasn't earned results, the Palestinian leadership is absolutely acting in what it believes to be the best interest of its people. The issue is how to take away their sense that terrorism is succeeding.

  5. I should have been more clear - in what is truly in their best interests. I think it's obvious that terrorism hurts them an awful lot, even if they're blinded by the land they've gotten.

  6. The Jerusalem Arabs by and large understand this more: They were awfully unhappy with the intifada, from what I understand.