Archive for March, 2008

You can only beat a dog so many times before it turns mean

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

How would you like to deal with a rogue nuclear armed state in the Middle East? That may be coming to you a lot sooner than you think.

I am not speaking of the usual suspects like Iran or whatever other currently fashionable bogey man you want to name. Rather, I fear that Israel may well turn rogue in the not too distant future.

Of course, to a certain brand of political thought, Israel already is rogue and has been since its inception. But this view is the result of a lack of imagination on the part of those who espouse it. However, those who hold this view may succeed in turning their condescending insults into reality.

I should say that the prime criteria for determining a rogue state should be its willingness to listen to world opinion and to try to maintain itself as a member of good standing on the world stage. For example, Iran, Syria, and North Korea have shown time and time again that they will do whatever they want in pursuit of their goals. America and China often ignore world opinion, but they take it into account more often than their critics give them credit for, especially if you take into account what they could do if they truly did not care what the world thought. Germany, on the other hand, could be looked on as model world citizen given their efforts to avoid offending anyone.

This is not to say that the lengths to which a nation goes in order to appease world opinion is a sign of its moral standing. Rather, I am trying to use the word “rogue” in an objective sense as opposed to a moral sense. A rogue nation is one the outside world can no longer influence into acting the way world opinion in general desires.

In this sense, Israel has never been truly rogue no matter what certain members of the prattling classes say. Reading the history of Israel is to read the history of a nation shaped by world opinion. It was world opinion that founded Israel. It was world opinion that led Israel to draw back from gains they could have taken and held in all their wars. To be sure, Israel has sometimes flouted world opinion. But no more than France has.

But this could all change. From example, read this quote…..

I look at the press from the West and get very angry. Its mostly about their injuries. Another article about Palestinian protests about our attacks. This is ridiculous. If there were no rockets raining on us the IDF wouldn’t have anything to do there. I don’t like the way we are portrayed. We don’t want this war. They are dragging us in. What can we do? There are rockets raining on us daily. But in the media we look like the aggressors. It feels so unfair to be sitting here and reading that. My entire perspective has changed. I used to think that Israel needed to take care of how it looked to the western world — that we can’t look like monsters. Now I know it doesn’t matter. They will paint us however they want. I just can’t read the news anymore, it makes me too angry. We need to move forward with our lives, protect ourselves. The government has a responsibility to protect its people. The question is, what is the best way to do that?

I have read comments likes this from Israelis from all across the mainstream political parties since the Palestinians were given a state. From the right, these types of comments come as no surprise. It is what they always believed anyhow.

But increasingly, you hear these things from the left in Israel. This is what is changing.

From what I have read, the left feels betrayed by the whole peace process. Not so much by the actions of the Palestinians as by world opinion. Most of the left in Israel had no illusions about how easy the road to peace with the Palestinians would be. They knew that there would be bumps in the road and problems to overcome. But I don’t think they anticipated that no matter what Israel did, it would always be the bad guy. In fact, I think most Israelis supported a peace process more for what they thought it would do for their standing in world opinion than for what they thought would be any real chance of peace.

Therefore, I think that the biggest failure of the peace process in the eyes of most of the left is not that the Palestinians are still shooting at them, but that they are still the bad guys. This has embittered a lot of Israelis who thought they had more in common with the leftists of Europe than the bad old free market types of the US. The thought that they will never be accepted by their ideological comrades means that many in the left no longer see any point in the policies that they once supported with all their heart.

This sense of anger has been compounded by the aerial attacks enabled by Hamas’ stock of rockets. Aerial bombardments have produced extreme anger in the affected populace no matter where in the world it has happened. From the British in London, to the Germans in Berlin, or the North Vietnamese around Hanoi, the affected populace has always wanted to lynch those they thought responsible for their plight. The Israelis are proving that they are no different.

I don’t think that Israel is going to go rogue next month. Nor do I think it will go rogue next year. But if things keep going like they have been going, the Israel of Arab propaganda may become a reality.

We should remember that at the start of World War II British bombers were denied permission to strike at German warships at dock because of fear that they would hit innocent civilians in the process. By the end of World War II they were firebombing German cities at night with the intent to cause as much damage and to kill as many men, woman, and children as possible. A similar change in Israel would be bad for Israel, bad for the Arabs, and bad for the world as whole.

And a large share of blame will rest on the shoulders of those who thought they were most for peace. They forgot that that if you tell a child that he is stupid no matter what he does he will probably come to believe you. And if you tell nation that no matter what they do, they will still stand condemned, then they will decided to do something worthy of condemnation.