…But It's Not "War-War," After All…

Once again, I farted around and let myself get scooped. I’ve been kicking around a piece based on the Arab League’s latest attempt to yank the United States’ leash and get us to do their dirty work by calling for a “no-fly” zone over the Gaza Strip, but Rick beat me to it.

So instead of whining (OK, instead of whining too much), I’ll simply build on it.

There’s a war going on between Hamas and Israel. This is nothing new, but what is a relatively new development (well, a few years old) is that now Hamas is the legal government of Gaza. This means that, for all intents and purposes, Gaza is at war with Israel.

It’s what is called “asymmetric warfare.” The two sides are not equivalent in the least, but their strengths and weaknesses are balanced enough to make it a real struggle.

On paper, Israel has the advantage. It has the bigger military, the better training, and the superior hardware. If Israel chose to do so, it could totally obliterate the Gaza Strip in very short order.

Hamas, on the other hand, has an intangible but extremely potent weapon of its own: they have no souls.

Yes, I’m still an agnostic. But it’s a handy metaphor, a simple way of summing up a whole slew of psychological factors that all contribute to a concept that the theologically-inclined recognize as “soulless.”

There are many factors that contribute to this, but I’m going to focus on the two most important.

First, as has been proclaimed many times, by both sides, Hamas “loves death” more than their enemies “love life.” Their whole focus is on killing their enemies. They have no concern whatever for their own lives or of their own people; if it takes ten or a hundred or a thousand Palestinian deaths to kill one Jew, then it’s a great victory.

The other factor is an astonishing bit of sophistry that they have convinced far too much of the world to buy into. It’s a generally accepted principle that civilians should be spared, but military members are legitimate targets.

Well, Hamas has constructed and promotes a logic that gives them carte blanche in their war on Israel.

Israel, you see, has universal conscription — nearly all Israelis are obligated to serve in the military. Therefore, every single Israeli is a member of the military — past, present, or future — and therefore is a legitimate target. By Hamas’ reasoning, there are no Israeli civilians.

On the other hand, the Gaza Strip is not an independent nation. It has many of the hallmarks of such, but it isn’t a true nation in the legal sense. Therefore, it can have no internationally-recognized military structure. And that means that every single Palestinian is a civilian, and therefore any Palestinian killed by Israel — even one actively engaged in an attack, using military-grade weaponry, targeting civilians — is not a legitimate target.

In brief, all Israelis are guilty and all Palestinians are innocent. In every case.

Even in the most recent atrocity, when Hamas fired a Russian-made, laser-guided anti-tank missile at a school bus. The school bus was a valid target, as it was traveling along a road often used by the military, and the school children aboard are future members of the IDF. On the other hand, the Hamas operatives who fired the missile were civilians, because they aren’t a part of any official, legal, recognized military.

And it’s worth noting that the attack injured the driver and one student — but only because they were the only ones left on the bus at the time, not by any compassion from Hamas.

Now we come to the no-fly zone the Arab League wants to impose. They want that because Israel has absolute air supremacy over Gaza; Hamas has no aircraft. The no-fly zone would only affect Israel, limiting their ability to observe and strike back.

One response for Israel immediately comes to mind: they can say fine, we won’t fly aircraft over Gaza any more. We’ll limit ourselves to stand-off weapons we can launch from over Israeli territory, and land-launched weapons such as artillery, rockets, and missiles. These will be considerably less precise than those we’ve been using, but that would actually put us on a more even basis with Hamas.

But that’s a bit too on-the-nose for international relations. Instead, Israel will simply reject the proposal.

But I am troubled that I can not so easily predict that the Obama administration will give the proposal the contemptuous dismissal it deserves. After all, they seem to be fully behind the idea that “if we don’t call it a war, it really isn’t a war” bandwagon, with the War On Terror being renamed “Overseas Contingency Operations” and our current war against Libya as “Kinetic Military Action.”

I’m sure

Wrong On Rights
What follows from Lawrence O'Donnell is supposed to garner sympathy and compassion