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Sunday, July 16, 2006

A difficult lesson

When I was in the Navy, I once witnessed a bar fight in downtown Olongapo (Philippines) that still haunts my dreams.  The fight was between a big oafish Marine and a rather soft-spoken, medium sized Latino sailor from my ship. 

All evening the Marine had been trying to pick a fight with one of us and had finally set his sights on this diminutive shipmate of mine... figuring him for a safe target.  When my friend refused to be goaded into a fight the Marine sucker punched him from behind on the side of the head so hard that blood instantly started to pour from this poor man's mutilated ear.

Everyone present was horrified and was prepared to absolutely murder this Marine, but my shipmate quickly turned on him and began to single-handedly back him towards a corner with a series of stinging jabs and upper cuts that gave more than a hint to a youth spent boxing in a small gym in the Bronx.

Each punch opened a cut on the Marine's startled face and by the time he had been backed completely into the corner he was blubbering for someone to stop the fight.  He invoked his split lips and chipped teeth as reasons to stop the fight.  He begged us to stop the fight because he could barely see through the river of blood that was pouring out of his split and swollen brows.

Nobody moved.  Not one person.

The only sound in the bar was the sickening staccato sound of this sailor's lightning fast fists making contact with new areas of the Marine's head.  The only sound I have heard since that was remotely similar was from the first Rocky film when Sylvester Stallone was punching sides of beef in the meat locker.

Finally the Marine's pleading turned to screams.... a high, almost womanly shriek.   And still the punches continued relentlessly. 

Several people in the bar took a few tentative steps as though they wanted to try to break it up at that point, but hands reached out from the crowd and held them tight.  I'm not ashamed to say that mine were two of the hands that held someone back.

You see, in between each blow the sailor had begun chanting a soft cadence: "Say [punch] you [punch] give [punch] up [punch]... say [punch] you [punch]were [punch] wrong [punch]". 

He had been repeating it to the Marine almost from the start but we only became aware of it when the typical barroom cheers had died down and we began to be sickened by the sight and sound of the carnage.

This Marine stood there shrieking in the corner of the bar trying futilely to block the carefully timed punches that were cutting his head to tatters... right down to the skull in places. But he refused to say that he gave up... or that he was wrong. 

Even in the delirium of his beating he believed in his heart that someone would stop the fight before he had to admit defeat.  I'm sure this strategy had served him well in the past and had allowed him to continue on his career as a barroom bully.

Finally, in a wail of agony the Marine shrieked  "I give up", and we gently backed the sailor away from him.

I'm sure you can guess why I have shared this story today. 

I'm not particularly proud to have been witness to such a bloody spectacle, and the sound of that Marine's woman-like shrieks will haunt me to my grave.  But I learned something that evening that Israel had better learn for itself if it is to finally be rid of at least one of its tormentors:

This is one time an Arab aggressor must be allowed to be beaten so badly that every civilized nation will stand in horror, wanting desperately to step in and stop the carnage... but knowing that the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and finally admits defeat.

Just as every person who had ever rescued that bully from admitting defeat helped create the cowardly brute I saw that evening in the bar, every well-intentioned power that has ever stepped in and negotiated a ceasefire for an Arab aggressor has helped create the monsters we see around us today.

President Lahoud of Lebanon, a big Hezbollah supporter and a close ally of Syria, has been shrieking non-stop to the UN Security Council for the past two days to get them to force Israel into a cease fire.

Clearly he has been reading his autographed copy of 'Military Success for Dummies Arab Despots' by the late Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.  Ever since Nasser accidentally discovered the trick in '56, every subsequent Arab leader has stuck to his tried and true formula for military success:

  1. Instigate a war. 
  2. Once the war is well underway and you are in the process of having your ass handed to you... get a few world powers to force your western opponent into a cease fire. 
  3. Whatever you do, don't surrender or submit to any terms dictated by your enemy.  That would ruin everything!  All you have to do is wait it out and eventually the world will become sickened at what is being done to your soldiers and civilian population... and will force a truce.
  4. Once a truce has been called you can resume your intransigence (which probably caused the conflict in the first place), and even declare victory as your opponent leaves the field of battle.

This tactic has never failed.  Not once. 

In fact it worked so will for the Egyptians in 1973, that to this day they celebrate the Yom Kippur War - a crushing defeat at the hands of Israel -  as a military victory!  No kidding... it's a national holiday over there!

President Lahoud has already begun to shriek like a school girl to the UN Security Council to "Stop the violence and arrange a cease-fire, and then after that we'll be ready to discuss all matters."   

Uh huh.  Forgive me if I find that a tad hard to swallow.  He allowed Hezbollah to take over his country.  He allowed the regular Lebanese army to provide radar targeting data for the Hezbollah missile that struck the Israeli destroyer.  He has turned a blind eye while Iranian and Syrian weapons, advisers and money have poured into his country. 

And now that his country is in ruins he wants to call it a draw.

As much as it may sicken the world to stand by and watch it happen, strong hands need to hold back the weak-hearted and let the fight continue until one side finally admits unambiguous defeat.

220_66

Posted by David Bogner on July 16, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

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You know that's pretty much what my husband has been saying. I'm not going to say what his job in the Navy is, but I will say he knows what's going on, and he didn't learn it from CNN. And everry day he comes home and says Israel is doing an amazing job of restraint AND that her beef isn't with Lebanon, it's Hezbollah. And if Lebanon doesn't want to be destroyed by rockets, they WILL be destroyed by Hezbollah unless they do something about it.

Posted by: Fran | Jul 16, 2006 5:52:40 PM

Don't forget our own left wing wringing their hands and then pulling the IDF off the terrorists before the job is finished. They are more dangerous than the other countries in the world.

Posted by: westbankmama | Jul 16, 2006 6:02:18 PM

Halevai it should be so.

Posted by: psychotoddler | Jul 16, 2006 7:44:06 PM

Go IDF!

Your enemies have f*&#ed with you for too long. It's time for some behavior modification lessons.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Jul 16, 2006 7:47:41 PM

Right. Right. 100% right. I have nothing to add.

Posted by: ball-and-chain | Jul 16, 2006 8:14:11 PM

This is the best explanation of the situation that I've ever read, David. Thank you.

And we are praying.

Posted by: Talmida | Jul 16, 2006 8:21:21 PM

Fran... Believe it or not the IDF is still showing amazing restraint. I'm sure your husband has told you that as well.

Westbankmama... Give the left their due. With the exception of a few crackpots who demonstrate against the war the other day, the country has been amazingly unified.

Psychotoddler... A boy can hope, right?

Doctor Bean... Modification is perhaps too soft a term.

Ball & Chain... Now if only we can get you to say that phrase to your husband once in a while. :-)

Talmida... Happy to help.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 16, 2006 8:29:07 PM

A very vivid comparison indeed. I used to be a pacifist, believe it or not, until one day I realized that you have to teach aggressors a lesson, or else they will never learn. Shame it took me so long to realize that.

Posted by: Irina | Jul 16, 2006 8:59:27 PM

This is all true and Hezbollah needs to be beaten to a bloody pulp. I fear that destroying Lebanon's infrastructure will not solve the problem when the true bullies in the neighborhood are Syria and Iran. They are the ones that need to be beaten to submission, and I don't want Israel to go at it alone. Unfortunately, as we are witnessing at the G8 summit, the West doesn't have the stomach for it. In the end, I fear that someday we will all have to pay the price.

Posted by: wanderer | Jul 16, 2006 9:10:29 PM

I agree. This, I think, is Ben-Gurionism; every provocation must be met with overwhelming force or the aggressors will not learn.

It's a good philosophy for the Middle East. The problem, again, is that we are not dealing with a government here, and we risk beating up the Marine's battered ex-wife instead of the Marine.

Posted by: Michael Brenner | Jul 16, 2006 9:29:14 PM

This was incredibly well-written and incredibly powerful.

I wonder, though, if letting them leave with dignity isn't such a terrible idea. After all, Egypt was the first to actually make peace, and is now taking the lead criticizing Hizbullah to the Arab League.

As long as a cease-fire means the return of the soldiers and no more rockets -- with a promise to resume in full force the first time a rocket finds Israeli airspace -- it might be worth letting them limp away.

Posted by: Yaakov Menken | Jul 16, 2006 10:19:50 PM

great post

Posted by: Seth | Jul 16, 2006 10:34:40 PM

Irina... There is nothing wrong with being a pacifist. In fact it is actually admirable. But a pacifist cannot survive alongside someone who does not respect pacifism.

Wanderer... Unlike Lebanon which is a weak, some might say 'failed' state, Syria and Iran have a strong central government and strong standing army that answers to a central authority. Those two countries are looking at Lebanon and picturing their own countries in ruins. Their armies are looking at how easily their leadership structures could be decapitated and asking themselves if it would be worth it to continue fighting after such a strike.

Michael Brenner... Are you prepared to look the families of the Israelis who have been killed, injured or captures so far and tell them that Hizbollah is just a battered wife we are needlessly abusing? No, we have the bully squarely in our sights and we need to make him admit defeat. Total defeat. In the off chance that you are referring to Lebanon... They actively aided Hizbollah by supplying radar targeting data to the missile that killed those four sailors. The Lebanese have always played this passive/aggressive game. Now they are paying the price.

Yaacov Menken... Thank you for the compliment. When to let the bully out of the corner is entirely up to the bully. After many years Egypt figured out that it was expedient to sit down at the table and play the diplomacy game. This was another game they pioneered for the rest of the Arab world. They learned early that they could demand large tracts of land and all they would have to bring to the table was a pen. We have been relatively lucky with the deal we made with Egypt. But that model only worked because most of the land we gave away was useless. We don't have any more worthless land to give away.

Seth... Thank you. I'm waiting for the 'but'... but perhaps I'm being unfair. Much appreciated. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 16, 2006 10:44:01 PM

very well written

Posted by: Suzan | Jul 17, 2006 1:17:54 AM

My husband and I think you did a great job on this. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers- like constantly!

Posted by: Alice | Jul 17, 2006 2:09:20 AM

When I read this particular entry I wanted to stand up and cheer. I'm linking to this post on my blog. Excellent!

I was treated horribly by my peers growing up and picked on daily. I was always afraid to fight for myself and it invited the bullies to take another piece of me. I wish I had the confidence then that I have now and I completely agree that it translates all the way up to a national level.

AMEN! Trep, you should be writing for a newspaper!

Posted by: Tracey | Jul 17, 2006 4:05:24 AM

You are correct that the President of Lebanon has been responding like the bully in the story. The more significant development, wich is being overlooked by many, but not the Israelis, is that the Prime Minister of Lebanon has started to call for help to deploy the Lebanese Army in Southern Lebanon. He is not taking the exact position that we want, but he has made the first crucial admission.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jul 17, 2006 6:54:29 AM

From your mouth to G-d's ears. This time I hope that the bully learns that they haven't got the protection they thought that they did.

Let them suck it up for a while.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 17, 2006 6:54:55 AM

Israel, like America, is always obligated to fight with one hand tied behind its back.

What the IslamoNazis need is a "Wrath of God" response that will get their attention. I suggest taking out the power grid of Lebanon, Syria AND Iran.

They can then ponder their next move from their dark sweltering bomb shelters.

Posted by: sooke | Jul 17, 2006 7:08:28 AM

Simply the best article I have read in this current conflict.

I stumbled upon your site today and have been forwarding this article to my friends ever since.

Great job and I am sure that I will be dropping in more frequently to read your blog.

Posted by: David B | Jul 17, 2006 7:32:25 AM

Check out the article by Michael ren regarding the lessons of the Six Day War in the current online New Republic.
His basic thesis is that today, just like in 1967, a series of events that started with Syrian instigation of terrorist activity and an indirect israeli response to Syria led and will lead to a more complex mideast War. His call? To strike directly at the 500 Syrian Tanks amassed on the Lebanese Border.
He makes a lot of sense.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jul 17, 2006 8:41:39 AM

BRAVO!

Posted by: Scott | Jul 17, 2006 9:16:00 AM

David, you are a master at providing vivid and accurate examples. Let's hope the string-pullers have the guts to complete the mission in its entirety.

Posted by: Yonah | Jul 17, 2006 1:44:24 PM

Proud as I am of you, David, I am a little extra pleased and proud after reading this one!
The 'marine's ex-wife' analogy does not hold in this situation.
I wish you'd send this post to the NY Times for inclusion on its Op Ed page. This post deserves/needs wide distribution.

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Jul 17, 2006 4:37:11 PM

I couldn't agree more, Mr. B.

Posted by: tnspr569 | Jul 17, 2006 5:22:17 PM

This post was great and deserves its own Barbaric Yawp.

YAWP!

Someone needs to lay some hard wood or steel down on the heads of the terrorists.

Take the gloves off and leave them on the table until they are forced to understand that crying uncle doesn't work any longer.

Posted by: Ozzie | Jul 17, 2006 5:48:40 PM

Dave: Your insight is much appreciated...Keep us up to date..

Posted by: Jewish Blogmeister | Jul 17, 2006 6:04:46 PM

Suzan... Why thank you!

Alice... Thanks. As ironic as it may seem, we settlers are (tfu tfu tfu) living in one of the more quiet areas of the country right now.

Tracey... As I've told others who have made the suggestion that I write professionally: If you know an agent that wants to handle a cranky writer who has only the most tenuous grasp of the rules of grammar and punctuation... I am ready and willing to be pimped.

Jordan... the Lebanese Army is giving direct assistance to Hezbollah in the current conflict. as I pointed out in the post, the Silkworm missile used against the Israeli ship is blind/useless without radar targeting data. Quite simply it cannot hit a target without a fire-control solution provided by a radar installation. Hezbollah has no such radar installations... but the Lebanese army does. You do the math.

Jack... I could get used to having this amen choir around. :-)

Sooke... While I may agree with some, or even most, of your sentiments I must ask that you refrain from using terms such as 'Islamo nazi'. I have no doubt you can provide plenty of documentation of parallels that exist between Israel's current antagonists and those who sought to destroy the Jews half a century ago. However, using such a term tends to lower the level of discourse and I'm sure that was not your intention. As to hitting the power grid, I think that is an option of truly last resort. That is the kind of thing that will kick the legs out from under any international resolve to allow Israel a free hand in this conflict.

David B.... Well thank you! Welcome to treppenwitz. We only have one or two decent posts a year so you really lucked out with your timing! :-)

Jordan... I am confident that Israel has a missile targeted on every single tank right this very minute and is waiting for Syria to so much as sneeze in our direction.

Scott... I'm not surprised you liked this one. Barroom brawls are sort of the official pastime over there in the Lone-star State, no?

Yonah... To paraphrase another blogger's catch-phrase: 'Treppenwitz... 4.5 decades of accumulated opinions to offer'.

Dad... The NY Times is too busy wringing its hands over Israeli aggression to publish trash jingoistic like this. :-)

tnspr569... Sure you could! :-)

Ozzie... Welcome and thank you for the compliment. thank you also for the mention in your excellent round-up over at your blog. I encourage everyone to stop by and have a look.

Jewish Blogmiester... Thanks, and I'm so glad to see you back in the 'sphere. My heart was truly broken by your loss. May you be comforted...


Posted by: treppenwitz | Jul 17, 2006 6:26:46 PM

You misunderstand me. Hizbollah is not the Marine's ex-wife. The government of Lebanon and whoever we kill who is not a Hizbollah supporter is what I was referring to.

Posted by: Michael Brenner | Jul 17, 2006 6:39:43 PM

Another great op-ed piece, David. However, I have one reservation about your story as an analogy to our current battle. The one important element which is only hinted at is the Arab mentality/viewpoint. You give a brief insight with your remark that to this day Egypt celebrates the Yom Kippur War (The October War) as a victory for the Egyptians. That alone should speak volumes if you are listening. In my opinion, Hizbollah saying "I give up" is not going to happen, especially not to "The Zionist Entity".

Sadly, I'm not quite sure where that leaves us.

Posted by: jennifer | Jul 17, 2006 7:07:10 PM

Oren's contention is that Lebanon should not have been the target (except for Hezbollah specifically) but rather, Syrian troops on the border. That would have short circuited a lot of the resistance Hezbollah is able to put up, laid the responsibility at the feet of the true cluprits, who are using Hezbollah as their proxy, as they did Fatah in 1967, and taken out the most lethal of Israel's immediate opponents, especially as the missile capability of the Syrians has actually gone down, even as Hezbollah has gone up. It would have pushed Assad aside, and made it easier to get true cooperation from the Lebanese govenrment. Read the Oren article, he explains it better than I do.
I know Lebanon's military are not totally innocent, but at least Siniora realizes there cannot be peace for his country as long as Hezbollah is on the northern border of Israel. It's not enough, but it's a start.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch | Jul 17, 2006 7:23:44 PM

I've been drunk in Olongapo.

Posted by: Ed Mahmoud from LGF | Jul 17, 2006 8:18:45 PM

BTW, if Israel does strike at Syria- they'll need to go at it 100%.

Syria has been working since 1996 on upgrading its Sarin gas warheads, and replacing it with VX gas. Sarin gas doesn't penetrate skin too readily, and a gas mask protects against all but direct exposure, whereas VX is absorbed readily through the skin, and just a gas mask won't protect against it.

Any Israeli strike on Syria should probably be targetted at destroying Syria's missile capacity, unless they are confident the rumored nuclear wepaons capacity Israel has would guarantee the chin-less opthamologist wouldn't do anything stupid.

Posted by: Ed Mahmoud from LGF | Jul 17, 2006 8:22:56 PM

Excellent piece! I heard about it over at LGF. Had to come see. It will be something I too forward to friends and family. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: American8 | Jul 17, 2006 9:28:53 PM

Terrific essay. I agree with you 100%.

You, your family and all Israelis are in my thoughts and prayers. The bravery of Israel quite simply makes me feel proud to be a Jew. It's all too easy for me to say that I wish I could be there with you all, but honestly, I do.

Stay safe.

Posted by: Gail | Jul 17, 2006 9:55:40 PM

Agreed in all particulars.

Posted by: udge | Jul 17, 2006 10:07:34 PM

Oh Udge did follow my link, good. I have no words, really I don't, so I simply link to you bcs you do, really you do. Vetodah.

Posted by: Lioness | Jul 17, 2006 10:33:28 PM

I don't see America wringing its hands over this bar fight. Oh sure, you'll hear cursing from the New York Times, but don't let that drunken whore bother you.

Posted by: Bob | Jul 17, 2006 10:41:58 PM

Your analogy ignores the fact that this Marine's friends are watching him get his face bloodied, and deep hatred is festering within them. Sooner or later his friends will seek revenge. In the end, the pugilistic sailor will have solved nothing.

Violence begets violence. The sooner the people realize this the better.

Posted by: Settembrini | Jul 17, 2006 11:39:25 PM

"Sooke... While I may agree with some, or even most, of your sentiments I must ask that you refrain from using terms such as 'Islamo nazi'. I have no doubt you can provide plenty of documentation of parallels that exist between Israel's current antagonists and those who sought to destroy the Jews half a century ago. However, using such a term tends to lower the level of discourse and I'm sure that was not your intention."


You're right, of course, and I apologize. I've been on too many message boards where the word "Nazi" is tossed about so much that it loses all meaning after a while.

By the way, I neglected to mention that I loved the "bar fight" story, and I think it is an accurate analogy of the current situation.

Posted by: sooke | Jul 18, 2006 12:23:00 AM

>>the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and finally admits defeat.>>

Only this fight will be over. Beware the aftermath.

Stay safe, but please be careful to be nice too. (Sorry if that sounds flippant, it's not meant to.)

Posted by: F.M. | Jul 18, 2006 1:41:34 AM

Your analogy ignores the fact that this Marine's friends are watching him get his face bloodied, and deep hatred is festering within them. Sooner or later his friends will seek revenge. In the end, the pugilistic sailor will have solved nothing.

Violence begets violence. The sooner the people realize this the better.


So the secret is to let bullies have what they want?

If Britain and France had just kept their nose out of it after Hitler invaded Poland, there would never have been a war, right?

Posted by: Ed Mahmoud from LGF | Jul 18, 2006 2:03:41 AM

I think you just don't like Marines,...except perhaps for Bill Horvath. ;-)

"All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke, British statesman and philosopher

Posted by: Andy McCarthy | Jul 18, 2006 2:15:44 AM

Hi Trepowitz,

I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your article. I've linked to it.

If you'd like to get ahold of me, Yehuda has my contact information.

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Jul 18, 2006 2:35:08 AM

Amein v'amein, David.

Posted by: Elisson | Jul 18, 2006 4:43:46 AM

Brilliant! To the point!

Posted by: Terry Crane | Jul 18, 2006 5:51:45 AM

This is an excellent post, and very cleverly explains what is up in the Middle East right now, and why Hizbollah needs to be destroyed.

I'm disappointed that you would write this story as a firsthand account when it is very obvious that it is fiction, however. You could easily have said "here's a good analogy" or even "here's something my cousin's friend told me once."

By claiming this actually happened, and you saw the whole thing in these heroic and vivid tones, you have landed yourself in "Christmas in Cambodia" territory, sir.

Posted by: Jason | Jul 18, 2006 6:04:34 AM

Okay, maybe the Arab terroists will never say "We give up" or "We were wrong." So they die proudly. Is there a downside to that?

Posted by: R123 | Jul 18, 2006 6:21:02 AM

Succint and superbly composed, I must say. That was riveting!

Even though I'm not a Jew, neither am I in Israel (I'm actually a Singaporean), I just want to say my thoughts and prayers are with you. Israel needs to be strong and decisive to triumph over those who would wish it ill, and we are with you.

Posted by: Harrison | Jul 18, 2006 6:33:32 AM

Great story, and so very applicable.

Posted by: Yocheved | Jul 18, 2006 6:36:24 AM

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