Sunday, July 16, 2006

Time to Take Off the Striped Jersey

About every ten years on average, since its inception in 1948, the state of Israel goes to war with one or more of its dysfunctional neighbors. The latest flareup in the entirely intractable Middle East soap opera threatens to drag the rest of the world into the conflict. This has potential to be a good thing. Unfortunately, the governments of man rarely live up to their potential.

This latest military operation must be viewed in the context of the current wider cultural war raging between moderate judeo-christian/hindu societies and militant islamic forces. And that conflict must be viewed in the larger historical context of a cultural divide that has existed for several thousand years. If you follow the historical finger-pointing back through time you can trace the current conflict back to an intra-familial squabble that occurred four millennia ago. And, as you view the highlight reel in reverse you will notice that the numerous different outside parties that time to time acted as referees in this great game often did so with malice, stupidity, or hubris, or a combination of the above. In some cases the referees completely changed the rules of the game and the boundaries of the playing field. In other cases the referees threw off their striped jerseys and joined the game on one side or another.

As a realist (no true student of history can be otherwise), I believe that there is no permanent solution to the Middle East conflict short of the hoped-for final divine intervention. The Israelis understand this, and their current military operations in Lebanon against the Iranian/Syrian puppet terror army Hezbollah are predicated on the short term strategic goal of eliminating the active threat on their northern border. The Israelis know that destroying Hezbollah's war making capability is not a permanent solution to their quest for ultimate security. But, it can give them peace of a sort, until the next Arab/Persian entity decides to make a living out of terrorizing Israel. By the way, Israelis understand terrorism so very well because they effectively used terrorism to run the British out of Palestine after WWII. Unfortunately for the United States, our history of effective terrorism and insurgent operations is so far back in our history that we cannot recall it (Frankly, anything further back than the last news cycle or last sham celebrity marriage is ancient and irrelevant history to our society.) .

The opportunity in this developing conflict lies in its escalation not in its mediation. Mediation invites more conflict. Escalation exhausts war making capabilities and brings longer periods of inter-war peace. It will be temporarily very painful to take this opportunity to change regimes in Iran and Syria to ones more amenable to our interests. Five dollar a gallon gas will very likely cause a recession. That's okay--we are due for one anyway (and we can't avoid the tyranny of the business cycle).

If we are truly at war, it is time to act like it.

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