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Saturday, April 06, 2002
When Did Mr. Bush Go Wobbly?
Tony AdragnaWhile a lot of people were concerned when the U.S. sponsored Security Council Resolution 1397 was adopted on March 12, and some people took to calling calling Mr. Bush "wobbly" (yes, I'm talking about you Glenn), I said on March 14:
[...]it's more than just arguing for support: there's also a move toward quiding the ol' quo. How else can the shift in tone taken with Sharon be explained? I'm quite certain that the deaths of so many Palestinian civilians is the reason that the U.S. sponsored the first ever Security Council Resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state.[for those who missed it, there's sarcasm in that sentence] Or, might it have been to appease our Arab friends?What is the "other motivation"? It ought be quite obvious - we're talking about appeasing our "Arab friends" in order that we can go after our next major target in our War: Iraq.
That objective has always been clear, and what we were doing prior to the Passover Massacre, as well as what we're doing now (not just the president's recent demarche - prior to the speech there was a Security Council Resolution on March 30, and after the speach came another Security Council Resolution on April 4) is calculated to create conditions where we can bring about that objective. Where we were between the Passover Massacre and now was engaged in a forlorn hope - the Charge of the Six Hundred was noble, but what did it accomplish? How could we charge into Iraq without the support of our "Arab friends"?
See, Mr. Bush wasn't "wobbly" on March 14. He was walking a tightrope between the State Department and DoD, but he was doing a fair job of keeping his balance He lost his balance when some particularly horrible attacks - attacks analogized to September 11 - were committed against Israel. Those attacks clearly called for a military response from Israel, and being in that mode, DoD began tipping the scales.
In the rush to back Israel [which was the correct thing to do], we lost sight of the larger picture - that's something that you can't afford to do when you lead.
Powell and Rice aren't pulling Mr. Bush off course toward the target - they've put him back on course!
[OK, Will - you're too right! I can't stay away from the topic]
Will VehrsYours truly has returned the Ipse Dixit Caption Contest crown to The Refuge, where it belongs. "Rags" and Dan Dickinson provided tough competition, but where was JulieC? I have to admit, though, that it's almost more fun to lose so I can play the aggrieved victim ....
Tony, I'm at a loss to see a new topic for you or anyone else in the coming week; you might want to reconsider the "this is my last word" declaration. The Middle East has become all-consuming and you've certainly been in the thick of the debate with a flurry of insights. I've not had anything of substance to offer, so I've kept quiet and concentrated on following the debate about the debate. After Bush took so much flack last week, I'm anxious to see how the pundits react to his latest moves. Shields and Brooks were approving last night, Shields saying Bush "showed enormous balance" and Brooks calling his speech "statesmanlike."
On To Iraq
Tony AdragnaI agree with Glenn's appraisal, Michael Barone indeed "has it exactly right" when he says:
It is often said that we cannot prosecute a war against Iraq until there is a solution to the Palestinian problem. But actually it is the other way around. We cannot get a solution to the Palestinian problem until we have successfully prosecuted the war against Iraq.[emphasis added]Problem is that with the current state of affairs in the ME, we have an incredibly high hurdle to get over in prosecuting Iraq. That's why there are those of us who are arguing that we need to disengage the Israel - Palestinian conflict, sending both sides back behind their respective fences until we've dealt with Iraq.
These two fights can't be on the same ticket. If you wanna eat an apple, you gotta plant a seed first. If we wanna finally solve the ME problem, we gotta get Saddam first. Getting rid of Arafat is correct, but it doesn't deal with the foreign state support of Palestinian terrorists.
Get it yet?
[Sorry, I said I wasn't going to write anything more about the Israel - Palestine conflict.]
Closing The Books On Arafat
Tony AdragnaI must move on to a new topic - said about all I can say on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Before I go, some final clarifying thoughts sparked by reader responses.
I recieved several emails on "Jordan" - Andrew Berman writes:
Your claim that Israel thinks Jordan is an enemy is wrong. Jordan and Israel have had good relations even before Camp David. It's been a two-way street as well. This is not just at the political level, most Israelis that I know (and I know many), consider Jordan to be an ally.Andrew is, of course, correct in context - I understand his point, and it's well taken. The context I was speaking to is that of Israel's strategic poisition in the region. Jordan is an ally, but hasn't always been so, and some people have never been happy with the current relationship. The Hashemite Kingdom faces threat not just from Palestinians (and there are a lot of them in Jordan), but also from Jordanian Islamofascits who refer to their government as "leaders, who sold themselves as slaves to America in a war against the Islamic world."
My opinion is that Jordanians will defend their king when push comes to shove - certainly the highly professional Jordanian Army is allied with King Abdullah - but that's not a given. In such a light, and with history as an unforgiving teacher, it would be not only imprudent, but immoral for Israeli strategic thinking to not view Jordan with "cautious suspicion".
OK, I just gave a good reason for Israel to hold the West Bank indefinitely, so why do I argue that Israel shouldn't? Four reasons: (a) Jordan doesn't at this time represent a threat to Israel, and has actually been cooperative, (b) while having the West Bank improves Israel's strategic position, I don't think that Israel needs the West Bank to win - as history has proven, (c) Israel is eventually, whether through negotiation or unilateral withdrawal, going to lose the West Bank anyway, and (c) I still believe that there is a legitimate Palestinian claim - it just isn't the one that Arafat and his thugs are pursuing, and it doesn't justify terrorism.
On the "Occupation" question, John Lowenstein Kenney writes:
[...]I know nothing of international law, but I do know of at least two historical examples of what was essentially indefinite occupation. In 1878, following the Congress of Berlin, the Austrians occupied and took over the administration of the Turkish provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The provinces remained under Turkish sovereignty until 1908, when they were finally annexed, but there was never any real idea that they were going to be given back, and the ultimate annexation resulted in an international crisis.As well as being "historical examples", a case could probably be made that they were also consistent with international law as it was then - It wasn't til 1899 that Hague II set standards for the conduct of "Military Authority Over Hostile Territory" (Section III Article 42 et seq). It seems to me, though, that even as early as 1899, and certainly today, international law never meant to legitimize indefinite occupation. That's not to say that the Israeli occupation has no justification: Israel clearly has the right to self-defense irrespective of whether or not international law says so; international law does in fact recognize every nation's right to self-defense; the PA is hostile to Israel, so Israel's occupation is legal and just.
But, everything in international law presumes that hostilities will eventually end in negotiated settlement, as George Will does note in the referenced column. Where my disagreement with George rests is not on the legality of the occupation, but on whether an argument for "indefinite occupation" can be sustained. If this dispute is neither negotiated to an end, nor ended unilateraly vis an Israeli withdrawl, and Israel never takes the step to annex, then there's going to need to be a case made for "indefinite occupation" under current convention at international law - there's no precedent.
But, I did go on to agree with the "pragmatic defense" - the need to ensure security and stability in the region - and the British occupation of Egypt, while lacking the urgency of Israel's security concerns, is as close to a relevant precedent as can be found.
John "Akatsukami" Braue poses some good questions (while, thankfully, not asking me to make the factual case that I never intended to in the first instance - I was really just challenging everybody else's statements). I'll deal with the last question first:
Now, Adragna stipulates that:That is the all important question. I don't have an answer, and I think that it's a question that Israelis and Palestinians are going to have to settle between themselves once they finally decide to make peace. But, the border that I'm talking about "securing" is the one that exists right now (remember, the West Bank is still not a part of Israel - there is a border that Israel recognizes as the limit of "sovereign Israel"). As long as hostilities do exist between Israel and the PA or its successors, then Israel is going to have to stop letting enemy aliens (whether they in fact support Arafat & terrorism is irrelevant to this item) into Israel - especially since there's no way to distinguish the terrorists from non-combatants. And the "political" that I'm talking about giving up are the indefensible (militarily) settlements - really, I can't understand the logic of living in hostile territory.The Israelis are going to have to give up the political in order to finally have some semblance of secure borders.The question becomes then: is the "Green Line" established in 1948 secure? If not, where should the borders be drawn? And, wherever we draw these borders, what of those dwelling on either side of them?
One other issue that I find intriguiging is the moral/ethical question that John evokes in the phrase, "if you desire the end, then you sanction the means". If the "ends" here are limited to the immediate of disposing with Arafat, then the only "means" I object to would be a wonton disregard for the rights of non-combatants (which I don't believe describes the "sweeps" - there's a different "end" there, and the "means" are reasonable).
As Arafat ought properly be classified a "combatant", then so long as he's still pointing his weapon at me I have no moral obligation to respect his right to life - he has voluntarily forfieted that right. I mght prefer some other methods of getting him out of the way, especially since killing him might not be necessary and may have drastic unintended consequences (the other part of John's "ends/means" analysis), but if killing him needs be done as an act of self-defense, then there's no moral dilemma.
Finally, after trying to convince Rich Hailey that my challenge to his et al assertion does not contain any counter-assertions, but is only a refusal to accept their prima facie argument as proof, he instead requires me to disprove his prima facie argument - that I can't do without further examination of facts that aren't evident and won't be evident until Arafat's veil is lifted from the region (Umbram fugat veritas ).
I can point to some individual examples that have been infrequently highlighted in the news or on PBS, but those examples still wouldn't be accepted as proof that the All Palestinians argument is wrong (because, you know, those nice talking Arabs aren't genuine and never have been), nor would I even consider offering isolated examples as proof that the majority of Palestinians dissent from terrorism, the Holocaust reprise [the Islamofascists' ultimate goal, though they'd settle for the penultimate solution - a new Diaspora - which is just as unacceptable], or unqualified support of Arafat. We're irreconciled.
I am reformed on one disagreement with Rich - since he started the intial response to me with a statement of disdain for Palestinian Apologists, below which his response to me appeared, I assumed from a fair reading that he included me in that category. After some email exchanges I recieved satisfaction and the exception is withdrawn. No hard feelings, Rich - I'm always happy to engage in honest and intelligent debate.
Now I need to find something else to write about for the next week...
Friday, April 05, 2002
Playing Politics, Not Providing Hope
Will VehrsThis morning Glenn Reynolds praises Virginia Governor Mark Warner for vetoing a late-term abortion ban. In tandem with a symbolic Warner anti-gun veto, Instapundit says, "Maybe there's hope for domestic politics yet."
Actually, Warner's late-term abortion veto is an example of cynical politics. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch story:
Saying that he trusted women "to make responsible choices affecting their lives and their health care," Warner said he opposes all post-viability abortions except to protect the mother's life or health.
"I would sign a bill banning this troubling and rarely used procedure," Warner said, arguing that the legislation, like its predecessors, failed constitutional muster.
Of course, no late-term abortion ban will ever pass constitutional muster to a Democrat beholden to the pro-choice movement leadership, and any post-viability abortion can be shown to protect the life of the mother. If this is hope for domestic politics--pandering to a constituency you are trying to woo without having any intention of following through on your rhetoric--then domestic politics is just as broken as ever. Why doesn't Warner submit a bill he thinks will "pass constitutional muster?"
It's immaterial to my point whether one is pro-life or pro-choice, whether one favors late term abortion or thinks they are an abomination. My point is that Glenn is praising a result he likes, which is fine, but wrongly attributing it to some noble change in the political climate.
Thursday, April 04, 2002
Am I A Palestinian Apologist?
Tony AdragnaRich Hailey seems to think so, even asserting that I "haven't the faintest clue what has been going on in Israel for the last 50 odd years." Let me just throw modesty to the wind - I think I have a better grasp on what's been going on in the Middle East over the last 100 than most average Americans who only pay attention to the issue when the parties are either fighting, or play acting at being close to a settlement. The fact that Rich lumps me in with "Palestinian Apologists" - "a very distinct group that offers unqualified support for Arafat and the justifications for terrorism."[quoting my emailed response to Rich] - is evidence that Rich hasn't the faintest clue what I've been saying in any of my comments on this topic! But then, I guess starting off by "tarring" the person with whom you disagree makes the rest of the argument easier to deal with.
Here's the rest of my response to Rich:
You claim that "they [moderate Palestinians] don't exist", but your only proof is that there are Palestinians who support terrorism, and you assume from those exhibitions that all Palestinians support terrorism -- that's not a proof, but merrely a restatement of the basic assertion. Do you know the "average Palestinian" from anything other than news coverage?Look, I'm not questioning the fact that there's a large segment of the Palestinian population that supports Arafat, terrorists, and their goals. What I'm doing is challenging the assertion that Arafat and his supporters are representative of all, or even a majority of Palestinians. From what I can see, most Palestinians aren't out in the streets fighting against the IDF, but are just trying to stay alive while the IDF and the PA slug it out.
Tony AdragnaDiane E, writing in a Letter from Gotham, takes me to task:
Finally, Tony Adragna makes some wild comments about Israel seeing the entire Muslim world as its enemy. I wonder what he bases this on. Does he mean that Israel sees Turkey as its enemy?The comment isn't based on my view of the relationships between "states" -- the governments of Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt are, if not amiable, at least at peace with Israel (but, even within these countries there are groups whose intent is to see Israel wiped off the face of the Earth). My comment is based on observations of the rhetoric that I'm hearing here and abroad. In Israel that rhetoric is understood in the context of Israel's history and the history of the Jewish people -- history which includes not just the wars that Israel has fought against Arab neighbors, but also includes European pogroms and the Shoa.
Look, I've never disputed that Israel has valid security concerns, and the military action against the PA and terrorists is justified. But, there's a much more deep-seated motivation behind Israeli policy during both times of war and times of peace: a very real sense of insecurity. Israel is an island surrounded by its traditional enemies -- Arabs and Muslims -- and even those countries Israel is nominally at peace with are still "the enemy" in the eyes of many. One of those "many" is Ariel Sharon...
Wednesday, April 03, 2002
Tony AdragnaEric Olsen responds to my argument that its not the same war. Eric writes:
Many U.S. writers, and certainly the Israelis, have been making the point that “this is the same fight.”Problem is one of perspective. It's easy for us to interpret the Same Fight Argument the way that Eric does, which is how the Israeli government wants us to see it -- by the way, it's the same argument that Russia wants us to swallow whole in re Chechnya -- but this interpretation misses the point that I was making: Israel doesn't see its enemy as "elements within the Muslim world" -- Israel views the whole Muslim world as its enemy.
Who sits across the West Bank "security buffer"? Jordan! Is Jordan currently a threat to Israel? No! Yet, Israel still sees Jordan as an enemy.
Is Jordan our enemy? No!
Israel's fight, unlike ours, isn't just about security -- it's also about Israel's insecurity.
Kissinger Helps, Too!
Tony AdragnaOther bloggers have linked to an item in which Kissinger tells us "What We Can Do”, but have focused on a passage in which Kissinger speaks to the motivations of Arabs:
Yet the imposition of the indefensible ’67 frontiers is not the solution. For after the experiences of Oslo, Israelis know (as should the rest of the world) that the real division among Palestinians is not between those who want peace in the Western sense—as a point after which the world lives free of tensions with a consciousness of reconciliation. In reality, the number of Palestinian leaders holding this view is minuscule. The fundamental schism is between those who want to bring about the destruction of Israel by continuing the present struggle, and those who believe that an agreement now would be a better strategy to rally forces for the ultimate showdown later on.Note that Kissinger doesn refute the claim that there are Palestinians “who want peace in the Western sense”. He even admits that there is a “[minuscule] number of Palestinian leaders holding this view.” This begs a question: Why aren’t we focusing on engaging with those who want peace? I can support the assault against those who don’t want peace, but all too often the rhetoric pretends that an Arab desire for the “ultimate showdown” is universally held, and the argument results in a false dichotomy. There is a third way that only a miniscule number of people are advocating.
Kissinger tells us what that third way entails:
The strength of the Bush administration has been to cut through slogans to underlying realities. Under present circumstances, this means insisting that a ceasefire must accompany negotiations and that negotiations must aim for less than a final settlement. The goal of such an agreement would be secure borders for [a] Palestinian state with contiguous territory. As part of the necessary withdrawals Israel should be prepared to abandon outlying settlements. Issues other than the border between the two states would be left for later negotiations.[emphasis added]Note that “secure borders for a Palestinian state” must also mean by implication – unless you want to believe that Kissinger has suddenly turned into a Palestinian apologist – secure borders for Israel.
How do the Israelis and Palestinians get to this point if “The Palestinians will not accept a ceasefire because they believe they have momentum; the Israelis will not yield because they fear for their existence.”? Kissinger responds:
America can bridge this gap only by making clear to both sides that the only feasible goal is a limited settlement in which each will achieve less than its maximum aim but more than it can accomplish by a continuation of the conflict. It must urge Israel toward a peace program; it must impress upon its Arab interlocutors the limits of achievable concessions.If by “Arab interlocutors” Kissinger means the current crop of Palestinian leaders – those whose ultimate aim is the dissolution of Israel and a reprise of the Shoa – then the effort that Kissinger calls on the U.S. to make is not only forlorn diplomacy, but immoral policy. Israel’s only available response – both politically and practically – to the current Palestinian leadership is a fully justified military response. At some point, though, the IDF is going to run out of targets. What then?
And the whole discussion of borders begs another question: Why are we even considering a need to pressure Israel into securing its own borders? Why aren’t Israel’s borders already secure?
The “third way” I’ve been advocating ceaselessly, and despite Kissinger’s closing that “There is no middle way”, the plan (with only minor variations) that Krauthammer, George Will, and now Kissinger, have endorsed is a “middle way” between the extreme factions.
Of course, you need to read Kissinger’s whole statement, not just the single graf that appeals to what is truly becoming an irrational anti-Arab bias, before you come to what Kissinger is calling for:
…a program that combines respect for Arab dignity with Israel’s necessities for survival.Not so one-sided after all, huh…
George Will Joins The Chorus
Tony AdragnaOn today's op-ed page, George says:
Today's war began 18 months ago when Yasser Arafat -- a Goebbels echoed by gullible news media -- said the violence he orchestrated was a spontaneous conflagration of popular indignation about Sharon visiting a holy site in Israel's capital, Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Now the war may have become the first half of the only currently feasible formula for Israel's self-defense -- a short war, followed by a high wall.[emphasis added]The rest of the piece is a defense of Israel's current military action (which I too support, but on a different rationale), a refutation of Anan's assertion that the occupation is illegal (not sure that I agree with George: there's no precedent at international law supporting an indefinte occupation - you must either annex, or, at some reasonable point, withdraw), and a pragmatic defense of the occupation (with which I agree in part: George speaks only to security concerns, but forgets to mention political motivations predating '67, or even '48).
Whatever our disagreement, we do agree that what Israel needs is a secure border, or as George Will puts it, "a high wall."
Tuesday, April 02, 2002
It’s Not “The Same War"
Tony AdragnaWhile there are parallels between the Israel – Palestine conflict and the “War on Terrorism” – the most important being that our foes are terrorists – there are some very important distinctions being conveniently overlooked in the rush to subsume the former into the latter.
That Palestinian terrorists are state supported – support coming from the Palestinian Authority and foreign powers – is undeniable. On that fact alone Israel’s action against not just terrorists, but against the PA as well, is perfectly justified. However, unlike our action in Afghanistan, the purpose of which was to bring down a “state” so that we could go after the terrorists it supported, Israeli action in the West Bank doesn’t have such a limited goal.
I don’t think this point can be overstressed since it’s really been neglected lately: the Palestinian terrorists have as their objective the erasure of Israel from the map, but there are Jews who have a comparable state supported objective – the reclaiming of the whole of Palestine as a Jewish state, and the denial of any Palestinian claims. Jewish settlements in the West Bank were still being built all the while that negotiations were being conducted – good faith?
Yes, Barak was set to make concessions, and Arafat’s refusal is rightly criticized. But, would Barak have been able to carry through with his end of the bargain if the deal had been struck? Remember who shot Rabin!
And let’s not forget that neither in our Afghanistan campaign, nor in future actions, is our intent to indefinitely occupy some territory not our own, as Israel’s current course of action will necessitate.
The enemies of peace and security in the Israel – Palestine conflict, while not morally equivalent in their methodology, exist on both sides of the conflict, and both are responsible for the continuation of hostilities while innocents die around them.
In Afghanistan we took out the Taliban so that we could get at bin Laden. While prosecuting our war against that “state” we were very careful to distinguish between civilians and proper military targets: we never viewed “Afghans” as The Enemy. In the case of the Israel – Palestinian conflict, with the exception of the PA’s security apparatus, the targets are not so easily distinguished. It’s therefore understandable that the Israelis are cautiously suspicious of all Palestinians.
What’s not understandable, or even reasonable, are the repeated assertions – and not just from Israeli hawks, but from many people whose opinions I respect here in the US – without distinction, that ”Palestinians”are The Enemy. Sure, that the terrorists are Palestinians I won’t deny, but it doesn’t follow that all Palestinians are terrorists. That’s so obvious that I shouldn’t need to make the statement, especially since nobody of significance argues The Non Sequitur. So why did I?
Because everybody is behaving as if The Non Sequitur is true. The argument is that Israel would be perfectly justified in treating all Palestinians as enemies of Israel because Palestinians support the terrorism. Let’s forget The Non Sequitur and ask the relevant question: Do all Palestinians support the terrorists and their objective?
I think the answer is No, and nobody has been able to offer conclusive proof that the answer is Yes. Even those who claim that Arafat’s statements in support of terrorism proves that all Palestinians support terrorism – he is their spokesman – are contradicted by themselves when they point out that Arafat isn’t democratically elected.
Did we classify everyone who lived under Taliban rule as “Taliban supporters”? We did treat them all with suspect caution, and made some de facto errors, but we always left wiggle room for innocents, knowing that most truly were innocent, to get out – Israel has slammed the door on all Palestinians!
Putting aside my disagreements with intransigents on both sides of the table, I support fully Israel’s current attempts to combat threats to Israel and Israelis. I wish that Israel would take a different course of action, because I don’t see the current course as anything more than just another round in a conflict that will continue as long as Israel refuses to evacuate the settlements and continues its reliance on a “security buffer” rather than a secure border.
Yes! – the threat Israel faces is posed by terrorists, but the war that Israel is fighting isn’t the same war that we’re fighting.
Monday, April 01, 2002
Tony AdragnaMaryland wins 65 - 42 -- Outstanding!
College Park loses!
For those who don't know, College Park isn't much of a university town. Hell, it isn't much of a town[period] The main strip is US Route 1, along which there's maybe a quarter mile strip of bars, pizza shops, etc. The students are headed south from the university toward the bars.
After how the students reacted the other night -- breaking windows, throwing bottles at police officers, trashing a couple of patrol cars -- I'm not surprised that the University PD and the local PD called in the county and state!
Puts a damper on what shoulda been a good evening for all...
Post Script: More On Tactical Withdrawal
Tony AdragnaJim Henley "offers" up strategic retreat, which is a better description than tactical withdrawal:
But again, what are the options? They are still extermination; ethnic cleansing; disgorgement; a lot more of what we have now; and Fantasy Jordan.I agree completely!
Jim give also has a fuller response to those who see only a military solution to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict.
I'm not arguing that the IDF oughtn't be involved in any way, and I don't think that Jim is. But there's no "military solution" short of driving all Arabs out of Palestine, and that isn't going to happen.
Addendum: Why Israel Wins In Any Scenario
Tony AdragnaThere are really four components to the Israeli - Palestinian conflict:
(a) Moderate Israelis who simply want a secure and stable stateOf these four factions, the only two that have a chance of achieving their objectives are (a) and (d). The only faction that poses a threat to Israel is (c): to win over (c) Israel simply needs secure its borders and continue to exist -- that's it!
Now, I've seen arguments that without the West Bank security buffer Israel will face a much greater threat: there is concern over future relations with Syria, Jordan, and the build-up of sophisticated arms behind a walled-off Palestine. Valid concerns, and easily countered -- Israel still maintains the right to defend herself, and may choose to relaunch offensives outside her borders.
Name me an army that has ever beat the IDF!
”Elon Moreh serves as a symbol of Israeli miscalculations”
Tony AdragnaThe quote is from Gershom Gorenberg’s essay ”The Hubris Of No Fences” on the opinion page of today’s Washington Post. Let’s see what Gorenberg is talking about:
Start with the decision of Elon Moreh's settlers not to build a fence around their community. As reported, that was an ideological choice: A fence, residents reasoned, would turn the settlement into a "ghetto." It would cut them off from the land around them, when Elon Moreh's very purpose was to establish the Jewish claim to the entirety of the Land of Israel.Yes, it’s very much a political miscalculation which has created a security nightmare. The Israelis are going to have to give up the political in order to finally have some semblance of secure borders.
I know that sounds like conceding to the Palestinians, but it’s really not – whether through negotiation or Israeli concession, the Palestinians are going to end up with their own state in the West Bank, eventually. Israel’s original rationale for holding the West Bank – as a security buffer between Israel and Arab States – no longer works in the calculus. The threat now isn’t armies, but individual infiltrators who are already inside the security zone.
You might call it a retreat, but I call it a tactical withdrawal.
I don’t agree with Den Beste’s analysis. The security sweeps that he refers to might lead to a temporary decline in bombings, but it doesn’t secure any Israeli territory or citizens. It’s a patch on a tire that’s been blown too many times already.
I also don’t see the “penultimate threat” being realized, or getting the problem any closer to a resolution.
Unless Israel secures her borders she will have no option but to continually reprise either of the two options immediately above. There may be right now the political will inside Israel to exercise either of these two options, but I doubt that the will can be sustained for as long as it would take to get the job done – especially since civilian casualties on both sides will continue to mount in the process.
I do agree that the Israeli security sweeps are needed as the PA either can’t or isn’t willing to conduct the sweeps themselves. I also agree that cutting off Arafat is the right move: Novak, and others disagree because Arafat is the only person who speaks for Palestinians, but I already answered that argument – if Arafat’s the only person speaking for the Palestinians, then we need to wait for somebody else.
Taking out Arafat’s security apparatus is also a correct move.
But, none of these things are going to bring abut a win.
What Israel should do is close off the West Bank behind an “Iron Curtain” until a popular uprising of another sort takes place. For now, the only way that Israel wins is by securing her borders and citizens from threats.
Research Project Update: