Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Even the Conservative Wall Street Journal

The opinion page of the Wall Street Journal agrees: Israel is losing the war. But here's the scary part:
Yes, Hezbollah bears ultimate responsibility here for deliberately placing its military assets among civilians. Yet the death of those children should be counted as a crime if Israel’s purposes in Lebanon are basically feckless. A line being bandied about in Israeli security circles is that the purpose of the bombing is to show Hezbollah that “the boss-man has gone berserk.” What kind of goal is that?
Hmm. That sounds familiar...
In his first few years as president, Richard Nixon tried to force North Vietnam's leaders to the peace table by persuading them that he was a madman who would do anything to win the war. His first step, in October 1969, was to ratchet up the alert levels of U.S. strategic nuclear forces as a way of jarring the Soviet Union into pressuring the North Vietnamese to back down. A few years later, he stepped up the bombing of the North and put out the word that he might use nukes.
Oh good. So Olmert and the leadership of the IDF have adopted the brilliant strategies of Richard Nixon. Thank Yahweh that Israel has a much easier time removing it's leaders.

Of course, Nixon ended his squat in office having gone so berserk (operationalizing his theory, you could say) that the Secretary of Defense gave orders to the combat commanders of all US forces that no order from the President was to be carried out without confirmation. Meanwhile, at the end of the day the entire charade was a failure:
In neither case did this ploy have any effect whatsoever.
This should be obvious by now: You can't out-crazy nationalist insurgents. When you think about it, nationalism is a pretty crazy idea, especially if you're willing to kill people over it. (Read Dr. Seuss' "The Butter Battle Book" for more.) The idea of out-crazying Hezbollah, who've already demonstrated the willingness to use suicide bombers against the US Marine Corps, should be ridiculous too. But this is what's passing for strategy in Jerusalem these days.

On a related note, the reaction of the conservative bloggers to all this has really clarified how willing they are to justify and celebrate the worst aspects of humanity. Even when the IDF is trying (I give them the benefit of the doubt) not to be needlessly cruel, the right is laughing at the deaths of UN observers, and cheering on the horrific accident at Qana*. To paraphrase John Galbraith: The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for sadism.

(*I certainly don't pretend to have perfect knowledge of what's going on on the other side of the world, so for now I'm trying to practice what I preach - to see my opponents as fallible humans, not cruel monsters. So untl I hear substantial proof otherwise, Qana remains a horrific mistake, and the deaths of the UN observers as well.

All that said, the benefit of the doubt does not extend to the people who escalated this conflict to the current level.)

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