Monday, January 5, 2009

Hamas Overreaches

A new year has begun and Hamas is paying the price for having an itchy trigger finger. For all of us who have lived with this confrontation, all our adult lives, it is hard to get too exercised about it all. The natural expectation is that a lot of rubble will be shaken up and then it will be quiet for a few more years. The balance of military power is simply too one sided.

What is different this time is that Hamas has gathered the hardliners to itself and has completely parted company with the PLO who has now become their enemies. The strategic balance has shifted. This is extraordinarily dangerous for Hamas.

They sponsor a form of Islam that must be rejected by Islam if Islam is to survive as a viable religion. It is a doctrine that rationalizes barbarism. Today, Islam in its fundamentalist form is the last vestige of barbarism anywhere on the globe. And just as we expunged the Nazi resurgence of western barbarism, the resurgence of Islamic barbarism will be expunged.

Hamas has positioned themselves to be erased. The calculation of the Israeli army is now very simple. Destroy Hamas root and bough as Nazism was destroyed. Then allow the PLO to create an independent Palestinian homeland under agreements already worked out and blocked by Hamas. This assures the emergence of a secular Palestinian state that will be capable of achieving peace.

The payoff for peace in this ancient land has always been the rapid emergence of a super city such as New York or Shanghai. Such a super city will make everyone wonder what all the fuss was.

So this is both a hopeful and fearful time. You can be sure that the Israelis have made the strategic calculation. There is also no better time to do this than right now while the USA is in political transition and is preoccupied with that, just in case the cleansing lasts an extra month. And there will be no PLO diplomats arguing for a cease fire.

The last few days has seen the Israeli air force degrade Hamas command and control and logistical support. The remaining step is a house by house search of the whole city destroying pockets of resistance and the collection of activists. Hamas can be counted on to fight and to try to maximize the civilian deaths even when surrender is a viable tactic.

A rational leader would do it on the balance of what we know. The only variable is the current Israeli political dynamic which has tended to produce hesitancy over decisiveness. Of course, that is a viable and sometimes an admirable option when you are an 800 pound gorilla.

I wrote this on Friday and on Saturday the Israelis went in. I expect this action can last until there is no one left to shoot back and I think the possible diplomatic support is now as isolated as Hamas. This will be the first time that the Israelis are not facing a credible diplomatic battle. They do not have forever to get the job done, but they will certainly have sufficient time to do anything they want. And Yasser Arafat is not around to betray the Palestinians one more time. End Game?

On War

I used to think that there were many reasons for war. There is really only one cause of war. That is the promotion of ethic hatred to achieve personal aggrandization. The primary victims are mostly the men although the advent of WMD’s has changed that somewhat.

What has changed is that the idea of the melting pot has caught on around the world and is slowly dissolving away the emotive power of ethnicity. Intermarriage in particular is demolishing these barriers. I come from a world that was shocked at the idea of interracial marriage and resisted it. Today the president of the USA is a man who is about as extreme an example of interracial marriage as you could imagine and still live on Earth. His rise is not just the validation of the rights of all ethic groups to participate fully in political life, but a validation of a future hybrid humanity that transcends ethnicity.

The Romans solved their problems by the brutal expedient of uprooting the entire population and selling the breeders into slavery all over the empire. It did not always work, but the only exception was Judaism, and to be quite fair, the religion survived whereas the bloodlines are a lot more problematic. It is easy to understand the Arab resistance to the idea that a bunch of Franks and Slavs are their long lost brothers. Of course there are also a bunch of Bantus who claim to be Jewish. The reality is that religious conversion was very common and often very necessary if you wished to hang on to the old homestead. Only the leaders lacked that option and had the dedication to start over in a new tribe.

We are starting to understand all this a bit better and the ethnic bias is been bled away. Perhaps someday we will understand that what Hitler did was murder millions whose Saxon and Slavic ancestors converted to Judaism in a world were that allowed you to get a job outside serfdom. That does more to diminish the horrid ideas of Hitler than anything else that I could ever say.

We live in a rapidly connecting world that now rejects war and has internalized the lessons of Nazism and other power creeds. Resistance is rising to those power creeds and opposition is eroding away generation by generation. In most cases, no intervention is warranted as it is merely a case of waiting as worked so well for the USSR. It actually was the extreme example of a failed inflexible top down creed finally succumbing to its contradictions.

War has not ended but it is ending and will expire as the remaining ethnic confrontations stand down.

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