There’s an old variant of The Golden Rule: He with the gold makes the rules. Right now, one of the biggest gold-holders on the Left is billionaire
felon and moonbat “financier and philanthropist” is George Soros, who signs the paychecks (indirectly, of course) of some of the Left’s most strident voices. And this morning he got the Boston Globe (owned by the New York Times) to publish his vision of just what happened in Lebanon recently — and how it relates to his own view of the War on Terror. (Short version: he’s against it.)
THE FAILURE OF Israel to subdue Hezbollah demonstrates the many weaknesses of the war-on-terror concept. One of those weaknesses is that even if the targets are terrorists, the victims are often innocent civilians, and their suffering reinforces the terrorist cause.
The failure of Israel to subdue Hezbollah can be largely attributed to international pressure. Not to protect Hezbollah per se, but to prevent Israel from achieving a victory.
In response to Hezbollah’s attacks, Israel was justified in attacking Hezbollah to protect itself against the threat of missiles on its border. However, Israel should have taken greater care to minimize collateral damage. The civilian casualties and material damage inflicted on Lebanon inflamed Muslims and world opinion against Israel and converted Hezbollah from aggressors to heroes of resistance for many. Weakening Lebanon has also made it more difficult to rein in Hezbollah.
Nice of him to give Israel the right to defend herself. It gives him a nice fig leaf for the rest of his piece, when he explains how Israel has that right in theory, but not in practice.
For example, the burden on minimizing civilian casualties is solely on Israel. Notice there is no mention on Hezbollah having the same responsibility. A mention of that would be nice, but it might contrast with the inconvenient fact that a major factor of Hezbollah’s basic strategy is the deliberate targeting of civilians. To bring that up would put a major crimp in Soros’ vision of Israel and Hezbollah as of equal status, to equate a democratic nation-state and a terrorist puppet of two Islamic fascist nations.
Then there’s the element of weakening Lebanon limiting its ability to rein in Hezbollah. I don’t recall the Lebanese government ever expressing much interest in doing that in the past, aren’t saying anything like that now, and haven’t hinted at wanting to do that in the future.
Another weakness of the war-on-terror concept is that it relies on military action and rules out political approaches. Israel previously withdrew from Lebanon and then from Gaza unilaterally, rather than negotiating political settlements with the Lebanese government and the Palestinian authority. The strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas was a direct consequence of that approach. The war-on-terror concept stands in the way of recognizing this fact because it separates “us” from “them” and denies that our actions help shape their behavior.
Funny, I recall quite a bit of diplomacy going on over the years. Lots of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that always ended with more terrorist attacks, more carnage, more dead innocents. Talks with Libya, on the other hand, yielded a complete surrender of their entire WMD program. One of the major differences is that Libya chose to be reasonable, and had the examples of Afghanistan and Iraq (more importantly, the fates of their former rulers) to look to.
Israel’s pullout from Lebanon was in full cooperation with the United Nations, and their withdrawal from Gaza was a simple granting of the Palestinians precisely what they demanded for years and years. What it lacked that they wanted was an admission of failure and defeat by Israel.
That’s the problem with demanding not what you want, but for a proxy. Sometimes your opponent will give you just what you ask for, and you end up looking like an idiot when the rest of the world looks on and says “well, you got what you asked for. What’s your bitch now?”
As far as separating “us” and “them” — I happen to think that’s a good thing. There are huge metaphysical, moral, ethical, and sociological differences between “us” — the western democracies — and “them” — the Islamic fascists, to use the current phrase. We should be embracing and celebrating our differences and diversity, not masking them over.
A third weakness is that the war-on-terror concept lumps together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. It fails to distinguish among Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or the Sunni insurrection and the Mahdi militia in Iraq. Yet all these terrorist manifestations, being different, require different responses. Neither Hamas nor Hezbollah can be treated merely as targets in the war on terror because both have deep roots in their societies; yet there are profound differences between them.
Here I agree with his premise, but not his conclusion. Yes, we do lump together different political movements that use terrorist tactics. And why do we do that?
BECAUSE THEY’RE ALL TERRORISTS!
Here’s a concept that might be too simple for someone as sophisticated and nuanced as Mr. Soros: those that use terrorist tactics, such as the deliberate killing of civilians, are BAD PEOPLE. As such, they should be stopped. If that means killing them, then we should kill them.
I’m not as sophisticated as Mr. Soros. I grew up in very rural country. I had occasion to deal with weeds. Weeds, like Hamas and Hezbollah, tend to put down very deep roots. That doesn’t mean you surrender to them and let them claim the land. It means you get those roots out. You yank them. You poison them. In one case, we burned the entire field and started fresh.
The alternative is to start liking weeds, because that’s what you’ll get.
Looking back, it is easy to see where Israeli policy went wrong. When Mahmoud Abbas was elected president of the Palestinian Authority, Israel should have gone out of its way to strengthen him and his reformist team. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, the former head of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, negotiated a six-point plan on behalf of the Quartet for the Middle East (Russia, the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations). It included opening crossings between Gaza and the West Bank, allowing an airport and seaport in Gaza, opening the border with Egypt; and transferring the greenhouses abandoned by Israeli settlers into Arab hands. None of the six points was implemented. This contributed to Hamas’s electoral victory. The Bush administration, having pushed Israel to allow the Palestinians to hold elections, then backed Israel’s refusal to deal with a Hamas government. The effect was to impose further hardship on the Palestinians.
Mahmoud Abbas has never stepped back from the position that Israel ought to cease to exist. Kind of a rough starting point for negotiations — first, you have to establish that you have a right to go on living. Thanks, but I’ll pass.
As far as those greenhouses go… they were bought by Americans. More specifically, Bill Gates forked over big bucks to the Israelis who built them and prevented them from being dismantled and taken back into Israel, then turned them over to the Palestinians — who promptly looted and destroyed them while the Palestinian “authorities” either watched or helped.
Egypt can open its border with the Palestinians any time they like. They’ve chosen not to. That hasn’t stopped the Palestinians from destroying the barriers at will, though.
The election of Hamas was quite simple: Hamas says, in their charter, that they intend to destroy Israel. They have also killed numerous Americans. The US and Israel both said that they have no dealings with Hamas, and that would not change if Hamas were to win the elections. The Palestinian people knew full well that if they chose Hamas to lead them, the logical consequence of that would be that the US and Israel would continue their policy of refusing to deal with Hamas. If that decision of theirs imposed “further hardship” on them, that is the consequence of their choice. One election in Palestine does NOT change fundamental American foreign policy. Terrorists who win elections are still terrorists.
Nevertheless, Abbas was able to forge an agreement with the political arm of Hamas for the formation of a unity government. It was to foil this agreement that the military branch of Hamas, run from Damascus, engaged in the provocation that brought a heavy-handed response from Israel — which in turn incited Hezbollah to further provocation, opening a second front. That is how extremists play off against each other to destroy any chance of political progress.
No, Abbas forged an agreement with Hamas to be their beard, their front man, their guise in dealings with the West in order to preserve his own position. When Israel and the United States chose not to accept this fraud, Hamas reverted to their traditional approach for solving problems — killing Jews. And when Hezbollah saw Hamas was getting all the attention over their kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, a combination of jealousy and opportunism led them to try the same tactic.
Israel has been a participant in this game, and President Bush bought into this flawed policy, uncritically supporting Israel. Events have shown that this policy leads to the escalation of violence. The process has advanced to the point where Israel’s unquestioned military superiority is no longer sufficient to overcome the negative consequences of its policy. Israel is now more endangered in its existence than it was at the time of the Oslo Agreement on peace.
“(T)his policy leads to the escalation of violence.” And that is bad. Because a brief instance of escalated violence is far worse than a sustained lower level of violence. The problem isn’t that Hezbollah and Hamas were killing Israelis, it was that they were killing them too many at a time. Soros thinks that the time since the Oslo Agreement, when Palestinian terrorists only killed Israelis a few at a time, maybe a dozen or more on occasion, was far preferable.
Similarly, the United States has become less safe since Bush declared war on terror.
No, we’ve become more aware of the dangers, but our actual safety at home is considerably enhanced. Some are more frightened because they see the potential dangers that have been here all along, but there has not been a single major terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11. There was the July 4th shooting at LAX back in 2002, and lately there have been a rash of “crazed Muslims” in SUVs running down people, but that’s really nothing new — now they’re stealing ideas from Lizzie Grubman. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
The time has come to realize that the present policies are counterproductive. There will be no end to the vicious circle of escalating violence without a political settlement of the Palestine question. In fact, the prospects for engaging in negotiations are better now than they were a few months ago. The Israelis must realize that a military deterrent is not sufficient on its own. And Arabs, having redeemed themselves on the battlefield, may be more willing to entertain a compromise.
Hey, George — your boy Bill Clinton tried a political settlement of the Palestine Question. It brought about the intifadah and the obscene concept that there is an “acceptable” level of terrorism, that “stability” of a bad situation is the best possible solution.
Right now, “the prospects for engaging in negotiations” are pretty wretched. The only — ONLY — time there have been negotiated settlements between Israel and other nations is after Israel has thoroughly defeated them on the battlefield. Witness the relations between Israel and Egypt and Jordan — both nations lost decisively, and made their peace. They’re hardly ideal, but they’re the best we’ve got to work with.
Israel’s military deterrent is absolutely necessary. It faces enemies that are not only firmly committed to her destruction, writing it into their very charters, but are willing to go to any lengths to achieve it. They aren’t interested in compromise, except for the “OK, we’ll only kill half of you now, the other half later” type.
And the Arabs did NOT “redeem themselves on the battlefield.” They ran and hid behind women and children, then got the UN to save their asses — yet again.
There are strong voices arguing that Israel must never negotiate from a position of weakness. They are wrong. Israel’s position is liable to become weaker the longer it persists on its present course. Similarly Hezbollah, having tasted the sense but not the reality of victory (and egged on by Syria and Iran) may prove recalcitrant. But that is where the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas comes into play. The Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering. The political — as distinct from the military — wing of Hamas must be responsive to their desires. It is not too late for Israel to encourage and deal with an Abbas-led Palestinian unity government as the first step toward a better-balanced approach.
I simply cannot deal with the idea of separating a group’s “political” and “militant” (they do NOT deserve the term “military” — it is a gross insult to those who actually do serve in a legitimate military) wings. As another person pointed out on another blog:
If you dip a cup into a barrel of wine and pour it into a barrel of sewage, it remains a barrel of sewage. If you dip a cup into a barrel of sewage and pour it into a barrel of wine, it becomes a barrel of sewage.
I believe that in an organization, terrorism trumps all else. If an organization — even a part of one — believes in deliberate killing of innocents to achieve its goal, then the rest of the organization — which benefits by these actions — is irredeemably tainted.
“The Palestinian people yearn for peace and relief from suffering.” That seems terribly at odds with observable facts. They chose Hamas as their leaders. They celebrate suicide bombers — they even named a children’s summer camp after one of them. They dress their babies as suicide bombers. The “peace” they seem to yearn for is the peace of the grave — and as long as that grave contains millions of Israelis, they don’t care how many of their own have to join them.
Given how strong the US-Israeli relationship is, it would help Israel to achieve its own legitimate aims if the US government were not blinded by the war-on-terror concept.
And given Mr. Soros’ money, power, and influence, it would help the world greatly if he were not blinded by his own hatred of Western civilization, mores, customs, traditions, and history and so eager to lead us all into the path of submission. (Which, I feel I must say, is the proper translation of the word “Islam,” not “peace.”)
But that ain’t about to happen.