Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Weighing in on Gaza

While I was running on the treadmill at the gym on Monday, Fox News was on a TV in front of me. While I was rocking out to my Cascada, a headline kept flashing on the bottom of the screen. It said "Is War in Gaza Only Way for Israel to Gain Peace?" Now I could not hear what they were saying, but it got me thinking about this current conflict, and war as a political device.

My friend Larry recently posted a thought on Facebook. He was referring to an Op-Ed in the Times entitled "The Confidence War" when he quoted Clausewitz as saying "War is politics by other means; and politics is perception."

I think Larry was dead on. This is not a war for resources or even land, as Israel has no intentions of conquering and annexing Gaza. This really is not even about the rocket attacks, which by the way ARE deplorable, and worthy of a response. Maybe not THIS response, but a military response nonetheless. What this is really about is Israel's self perception.

Israel perceives itself as a isolated country that is constantly under threat. There is, of course, historical precedent for this view. After many years, this perception has become institutionalized, and is now seen as simple truth by the people of Israel. I would compare it to the fact that when the United States first entered Iraq, the people in charge of the U.S. efforts were influenced by the Vietnam Conflict, as that was their experience.

As framed by the current Israeli self-perception this incursion into Gaza makes perfect sense. Israel must maintain the upper hard, and must CONSTANTLY remind it's neighbors that is a viable state with a strong military. It is the Bush Doctrine in action taken to it's extreme. The problem is that everyone in the region already knows this. Israel is proving nothing to nobody... except themselves. While that may be abstractly important to the Israeli people, it is not worth the cost in lives and money that we are seeing now. So, Fox News was almost right with it's headline, it should have read "Is War in Gaza Only Way for Israel to Gain Inner Peace?" because that is what this is truly about.


Rosiecat said...

What a powerful insight into Israel's mindset! It reminds me of the classic bully mentality in which a bully picks on other people to remind himself that he's strong enough to pick on other people.

True strength is the knowledge that one does not need to prove one's strength with unnecessary conflict. Perhaps inner peace, to borrow your phrase, contains within it true strength.

JD said...

Rosie, agreed. I believe that the bully mentality is on full display here. While I sympathize with Israel's plight, I do not think the current conflict will help resolve anything.