« A memory of James Brown (May 3rd 1933 - December 25th 2006) | Main | A measured response... »

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Dresden Option

There sometimes comes a time in a war where one or both sides realize that there is no chance of the enemy leadership surrendering based solely on what is transpiring on the battlefield.  When that happens the next logical move is to begin targeting civilian population centers... essentially declaring the entire enemy territory a battlefield.

The Palestinians took this extreme step almost from the inception of their declared war against the 'Zionist Entity'.  For more than 35 years they have used booby-trapped items of every description to terrorize, maim and kill us.  They have used kidnapping.  They have used stones and bullets and Molotov cocktails.   They have used suicide bombers.  And they now use rockets

All of these tactics... legitimate or not... have been used almost exclusively to target Israel's civilian population... and the world has been pretty much OK with this. 

To a certain extent Israel has also targeted Palestinian civilians... but in a much less direct/deliberate way.  We have put up roadblocks and have limited Palestinian freedom of movement.  We have made frequent (almost daily) military incursions into Palestinian towns and cities when intelligence sources have tipped off the location of a fugitives or a high probability of an imminent attack.   But by any objective measure of brutality, the IDF has taken super-human pains... often at the risk of IDF lives... to limit Palestinian civilian casualties during these actions.

I make this distinction because one can't reasonably suggest that the suffering of the Palestinian population under Israeli rule has been our primary objective.  Rather, it has been a byproduct of our blundering attempts to simply protect ourselves. 

I have to believe that even the most strident Tel Aviv leftist who spends his/her free time protesting IDF raids and roadblocks sleeps a little better knowing that the local mall and cafe are less likely to be blown up as a result of this Israeli brutality.

Our actions stand in stark comparison to the Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians and population centers which are openly intended to cause maximum physical and emotional injury.

Even when Israel agrees to a cease-fire, rockets and mortars continue to fall on our cities and daily attempts to smuggle suicide belts and bombs into Israel continue unabated.   

Therefore, I can't understand why we don't simply abandon this blundering and adopt the Dresden option for stopping the carnage.   

In the later years of WWII, the Allies and Germany had set about systematically attacking each other's cities in attempt to bring about a surrender that wasn't forth-coming on the battlefield.  In many cases there were legitimate military/strategic targets in amongst the civilians who where being incinerated.  But Dresden... with its relative paucity of strategic targets... represented the antithesis of the industrial German war machine.   It was what modern military planners would call a 'soft target'.

Several of Japan's 'soft targets' were also burned to the ground.  Forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the moment... as the deliberate firebombing of Tokyo was equally gruesome, albeit not quite so technologically sophisticated to carry out.

The results of these attacks against civilian population centers is indisputable.  Even if one wanted to argue that the leaders were fanatical enough to fight to the last civilian standing... the home-front support for the war literally evaporated in the face of such devastation. The London blitz severely damaged some of that city's infrastructure.  The bombing of Dresden erased that beautiful city from the map.  Guess who surrendered?

Look at the way Israel's resolve has weakened in the face of much less concentrated attacks against its civilians!   At any given point easily half of the Israeli population is ready to throw up its collective hands and say "enough...  give them whatever they ask for... just make the bombs and rockets stop!"  So please don't try to tell me that attacking civilians doesn't work.

So... if we can agree that this is a declared war...

If we can agree that showing restraint will not stop the attacks against our civilians...

If we can agree that support for continued armed struggle against Israel will continue to be strong amongst the Palestinian population so long as there are relatively few consequences...

... then the only answer is to create consequences.  Massive consequences.

In the past I have suggested that for each rocket that falls inside Israel a member of the Palestinian legislature be killed.  I'm still in favor of that policy, but I am also now strongly in favor of exercising the Dresden option in order to end, once and for all, the relentless attacks against our civilians.

Starting today.  Right this very minute... for every rocket that falls, a Palestinian city in Gaza should be firebombed.  Burned to the ground.  No warning... no mercy.

I know... I know.  I can hear you out there saying that it isn't fair... the Kassams are a primitive, home-made rocket and the IDF has sophisticated smart bombs and missiles with pinpoint accuracy in its arsenal. 

To this I say tough sh*t.  Tell that to the parents of the two boys who were wounded in the most recent kassam attack.    Tell it to the large families where parents have to make the unthinkable nightly choice of which children to put to bed in the family's small reinforced rocket-proof room.

Better yet, don't tell anyone anything.  Get up from your latte in Ramat Gan and go live for a few weeks in Sderot.  Not willing to risk it?  Then shut your mouth and shut your windows... because the smell of burning flesh may carry quite a ways if the wind turns northerly. 

When rockets were falling on cosmopolitan Haifa you guys were all for the the war effort.  But when a development town like Sderot comes under daily attack all you can suggest is 'restraint'?  Puleeze!  Maybe Sderot needs a few more art galleries and sidewalk bistros before it will qualify for your outrage.

As always, I am open to anyone's suggestions... but please don't tell me that doing nothing is still a viable option.  As foreign policy, 'restraint' only works when both sides in a conflict are willing to practice it.

Many of you pooh-poohed warnings that giving Gaza over to Palestinian autonomy (and yes, even Abbas admits that Gaza is now fully autonomous, unoccupied territory) would allow them to use it as a launching pad for rockets and terror into Israel. 

So now what? 

Don't like my suggestion?  Let's hear one or two of your own!

221_16_5_189

Posted by David Bogner on December 27, 2006 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c581e53ef00e55051f4978834

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Dresden Option:

» Interesting discussion of "The Dresden Option" on Treppenwitz from discarded lies - hyperlinkopotamus
Interesting discussion of "The Dresden Option" on Treppenwitz [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 28, 2006 7:17:14 PM

» The Next Logical Move from Bad Bad Juju
You should go read this and this and ALL the comments. I'm serious.... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 30, 2006 8:02:54 AM

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Eep.

Let me say that in this particular instance, in his particular war, perhaps we are both morally justified, and even morally compelled, to do this.

But.

First of all, you are arguing from the comfortable position of being in the "might". Your strategy is "might makes right". If the balance of power were reversed, I think you would be reluctant to suggest that the way to end this war is for the Arabs to bomb us into surrender.

This is not at all hypothetical. For people/nations to civilize, they have to agree on moral principles, regardless of their current position. It can't be right for us to bomb now, and then complain if three years from now Iran wants to bomb us.

Might clearly does not make right. But maybe might should be used for right? For that, we have to be clear that not only is some of our cause right, but all of it.

Moving on ...

What happened in Dresden and the rest of World War II happened, yes. But the world as a whole was appalled and rose above what happened, morally. If we still do target civilians, at least we have made a collective conscious choice, at least in the civilized world, no longer to do so. At least, not deliberately, not openly, not strategically.

That brings us to the problem we face today. We, the civilized have forsworn targeting civilians - i.e. people who have done us no harm and simply happen to live with the wrong ethnicity or in the wrong country - but we are fighting those who have not so forsworn. Can we prevail?

And an even more difficult question, which you have tackled before: is a "measured", "proportionate" response actually the greater evil? For in responding this way, rather than in full force aiming for a complete and immediate surrender, we may merely be comforting the enemy, prolonging the conflict, and in so doing actually end up with more suffering, more destruction, and even more casualties. Where would we be without having atom bombed Japan? Would that many of people, and even more, have died anyway, and the conflict still be going on?

The answers are not as facile as you make them out to be. No one knows about Japan, and no one really knows about this conflict.

Sure, we know that we can "win" the war with the Palestinians. Everyone knows that. But only by regressing civilization fifty years. Maybe we should. But surely the "right" can prevail without having to be "might" somehow, someway. It may cost pain, death, myself, my own children, even my country to find it. But for the future of humanity, it may be necessary.

Surely your own children today do what is right not because you punish them if they don't, but because it is right. Is it so impossible to believe that we can all learn this someday?

Yehuda

Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Dec 27, 2006 12:36:33 PM

Yehuda, so how long do you give this approach to work. It's been going on since 1917, gaining momentum from 1948, just how much do Israelis have to give up to attain peace?

The Dresden approach is disturbing, but then so is the aim of the Islamists to wipe Israel off the map, together with the Jews living there. The Holocaust was real, so is their intention to complete the final solution.

But I think Olmert misread the opportunity recently in Lebanon given from the USofA. They appeared willing to buy time at the UN for Israel to do what it had to. Israel didn't, and so here we are with the Islamist threat in the area getting stronger.

So to me, your first requirement is to get Olmert out of office and someone with the smarts and backbone in. Is there anyone stepping up for this job?

Posted by: chrisse | Dec 27, 2006 1:32:05 PM

Sorry -- Israel doesn't commit war crimes.

We need diplomacy and defense. A tactical reevaluation and yes, a look at what territory can Israel hold on to for its own security needs -- based on security.

Posted by: amechad | Dec 27, 2006 1:48:16 PM

Apart from the horrifying case of Dresden, this kind of strategy was more typical of the Nazis in the Second World War than the Allies. I think that speaks for itself.

If the smell of burning flesh can carry from Sderot to Tel Aviv, it can probably also carry from Gaza to Efrat. I hope you're OK with that.

Posted by: Simon | Dec 27, 2006 2:27:25 PM

Umm....

Uh, folks (other than Chrisse)...

He said, "Don't like my suggestion? Let's hear one or two of your own!"

He did not say, "Don't like my suggestion? Tell me that it's not a good idea for a wide variety of reasons".

I don't see much in the way of useful suggestions here. And no, "diplomacy and defense" is not a useful suggestion. It's a bumper sticker.

Posted by: wogo | Dec 27, 2006 2:46:14 PM

Fire bombing Dresden did not cause the NAZI regime to surrender. Fire bombing all of Japan did not cause the Japanese to surrender.

Boots on the ground -- occupation -- brought the NAZI surrender. Two atomic bombs pushed the Japanese Emperor over the precipice to surrender even though his gov't's ministers voted to hold out to the last drop of Japanese blood (very samurai).

I don't pretend to have the solution to Israel's defense problems. But I do know this: the people who the IDF can kill by massive retaliation are not your enemies. They pose no threat to Israelis. The IDF or Mosaad needs to find a way to strike at those who strike at you (assassinate every member of Hezbollah you can find, where you find them, when you find them, without mercy [I find the idea of making a statement by stacking their severed heads along the border particularly appealing -- like Kipling's "The Grave of the Hundred Head"]). The problem with such solutions is that you will make mistakes and kill innocents and that will make more enemies.

A historical note:
The situation in Israel is similar to the situation in Northern Ireland a generation ago. The terrorist bombings in NI have ended, due more to prosperity in Eire than to military force. Maybe if the "Palestinians" become prosperous they will have better options for their lives than to strap bundles of dynamite to their torsos and detonate themselves in an Israeli coffee shop.

The alternative is the Carthiginian solution -- the peace of the grave.

Posted by: antares | Dec 27, 2006 3:00:05 PM

If I thought that this approach would be effective - I'd certainly be willing to consider it.

But I don't think the Palestinian leadership cares that much about the death of thousands of Palestinians. And certainly the heads of the other Arab countries don't. On the contrary - they'd love for us to do something like that, for how we'd be portrayed in the world.

What should we do? I think we need to make the leadership suffer. Go after Hamas, etc the way the US went after the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afganistan. There was no need for Dresden type action there - traditional military action would suffice. And certainly continue with the "targeted killings". After we got Yassin and Rantisi, they were very quiet for a while.

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Dec 27, 2006 3:00:09 PM

The saturation bombing of the East End of London, and of other cities in the UK during WWII did not destroy the people's morale.

In fact it strengthened a shared sense of common purpose in defeating Nazi Germany. Once the 1940 air raids happened, support for accommodation with Hitler virtually disappeared. (My parents were there throughout the bombings in the heart of the East End, and my grandfather was killed in an air raid in 1940. I put in an appearance towards the end of the war and narrowly missed being a victim of a flying bomb (UAV) which ploughed into a local hospital).

And the Nazi bombings of London, Coventry, Bristol and Portsmouth also helped to get public opinion in the USA behind supporting the British war effort through arms sales etc.

My understanding of the impact of the bombing on Germany was that it too did not significantly change the support of the Germans for the Nazi regime. What did that was the defeats on the Russian front. The remnants of the German Army continued to fight with some determination right up to the end of the war (and of course along with that went their determination to go on killing Jews, also long after saturation bombing had flattened most major German cities).

So quite apart from the morality of what you're suggesting, I don't think on pragmatic grounds that you're right.

Posted by: Judy | Dec 27, 2006 3:07:59 PM

The Palis will keep attacking as long as they believe that they can do so with impunity. Israel must stop letting them believe this. The Arab world considers it a humiliation that a small, weak-willed country like Israel can defy the enormous Arab world. Israel must stop looking weak.

Killing civilians may not be the answer, simply because it would crank up world pressure too easily and Israeli public opinion would crumble - and more importantly, the US would likely not support it. But how about this:

For every rocket that falls, Israel moves the effective border between itself and the region from which it came (Gaza or Judea-Samaria) in by 10 dunams. In Gaza, this starts from the north and works in the direction of the Egyptian border. The residents are given a brief warning and then all buildings in the area are flattened and the IDF moves in and sets up shop. The Palis are NOT given the chance to rebuild. The new "facts on the ground" are that the territory is now Israeli.

But none of this or any other strategy will succeed unless the Knesset is dissolved. Olmert is weak. Any successful strategy requires a strong leader.

Posted by: Russell | Dec 27, 2006 5:12:33 PM

The firebombing of Dresden has become something of an urban legend.....it was NOT mere terror-bombing of a civilian city, as is so often portrayed---the main Nazi east-west rail yards ran through Dresden and Bomber Command bombed those yards and the city to assist the Soviet advance, to slow resupply of Nazi troops, to stop troop trains going east, etc. The primary targets were hard industries in other cities but the troop movements and resupply could not be stopped without also hitting Dresden. There is a tremendous amount of research and opinion out there on this subject but many historians refuse to accede to the (often)German insistence that Dresdan was a "war crime." Dresden was part of a strategic bombing plan, and the civilian deaths were comparable with the civilian deaths of other wartime bombings on both sides.

That said, I'm all for David's plan. But in the interests of "proportionality" I would present my daughter's plan: they fire a Kassam at us, we fire two Kassams at them. Oh, Kassams are "homemade" rockets with no guidance systems? Well, sorry about hitting your house....but we were "proportional!"

Posted by: aliyah06 | Dec 27, 2006 5:30:36 PM

I said this a long time ago.

We should be making demonstrations with this message in front of the Israeli Enbassy and consulates.

I would prefer that we nuke Iran as well, actually that first would be better.

Posted by: Jobber | Dec 27, 2006 6:36:12 PM

I am not necessarily against this kind of response. What I am concerned about is the Chechen example.

By all accounts the Russians have been quite bloodthirsty and aggressive in their response but the battle still rages.

What I wonder about is whether the Pals would lay down their arms or pick more up.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 27, 2006 7:06:00 PM

You're absolutely right, David. Charging war crimes is a luxury that the winners use to berate the losers after the war is over. It's of no use being destroyed in a war and reminding yourself that at least you didn't commit war crimes.

Besides being the only plan that has any hope of actually resulting in peace, there would be a secondary benefit. Israel's (and America's) deliberate avoidance of unnecessary civilian casualties actually endangers civilians because it incentivizes bad guys to hide among civilians. As soon as the message gets out that we're happy to target and kill civilians, that strategy by the enemy becomes useless.

I have asked aloud many times in the last couple of years: why is there a single structure standing in Gaza City?

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 27, 2006 7:12:41 PM

PS: There is so much foolishness expressed in some of the comments above that I can't wait to read your restrained and reasoned responses. I don't think I would have the patience. Allow me to attempt just one.

Antares:
"The situation in Israel is similar to the situation in Northern Ireland a generation ago. The terrorist bombings in NI have ended, due more to prosperity in Eire than to military force. Maybe if the "Palestinians" become prosperous they will have better options for their lives than to strap bundles of dynamite to their torsos and detonate themselves in an Israeli coffee shop."

This is a profound misunderstanding of the Arab agenda. The Irish Catholic terrorists had purely territorial goals, and limited ones at that. They never had any interest in killing every Englishman or in conquering London. The Palestinians, in the majority of the population as well as in their leadership, are working for the eradication of the State of Israel. If we can not agree on that, then my fear is reinforced that democracies are doomed to be destroyed simply because enough of their citizens will not support what is necessary to defend them from tyrannies.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 27, 2006 7:22:10 PM

The very definition of irony is the present situation between Western Civilization and Islam. We see ourselves as advanced, sophisticated 'modern' humanity. Yet we have lost our natural instinct of self defense. Sophisticated? Perhaps ... but mentally and morally diseased certainly.

There are no solutions to our problem. 2000 years of devolution are now culminating. Israel is the canary in the mineshaft and no one is listening. They're too busy partying.

Islam is a metastasized cancer now firmly established in one quarter of the world body and its poisonous cells are spread world wide. The Palestinians, a small local viral infection, not cancerous, could still be eradicated but it prospers under the same evil indiference of its host as does the larger disease.

No western nation has a national will any longer. We have each, ever man, gone our own way. In this climate history shows us that dictators are the result. Then World War. This one will make WW II look like a skirmish.

Suggestions? Does one make suggestions to a lunatic or a serial killer? Does one make suggestions to a drunk friend who insists on driving? No. You take his keys. You restrain him if necessary. I suggest the Right sieze power in Israel. Any way necessary. Try not to put a dictator in charge.

Posted by: Scott Fleming | Dec 27, 2006 7:29:41 PM

'the world as a whole was appalled and rose above what happened, morally.'

So says Yehuda. But I don't think that's entirely true. The trouble is, that not every group in the world DID rise above that way of thinking.

And what are we who did, to do with those who didn't?

Friendly suggestion -- I don't know why this hasn't been employed since Day One:

Every time you see some guy in a ski mask with a weapon out in public, you shoot him dead.

I'm thinking, "Ski mask, ok. Weapon, ok. But, both? Shoot on sight."

Hope that's not too outre.

Posted by: wrymouth | Dec 27, 2006 7:40:08 PM

And another thing, what I hate about Jewish Liberals is their Liberalism is first, then maybe their Judaism.

It's OK w. them that innocent civilains, babies even, are killed, but to wipe out the problem they are all aghast and morally outraged and indignant.

Posted by: Steves Rick | Dec 27, 2006 8:09:54 PM

David, I agree with you. How many times must we turn the other cheek before we finally run out of cheeks?

Posted by: RR | Dec 27, 2006 8:26:43 PM

"The results of these attacks against civilian population centers is indisputable. Even if one wanted to argue that the leaders were fanatical enough to fight to the last civilian standing... the home-front support for the war literally evaporated in the face of such devastation. The London blitz severely damaged some of that city's infrastructure. The bombing of Dresden erased that beautiful city from the map. Guess who surrendered?"

This is a logical fallacy, and you know it. There is no way to support this assertion, that the German surrender was directly related in any way to the Dresden bombing (and several other cities that were similarly attacked). The bombing occurred in February 1945 - both too late to have any serious affect on civilian morale (as US and Russian forces were already advancing quickly across Europe), and too early to be directly tied to the surrender (which occurred because the German army and government essentially ceased to exist once Berlin fell).

Now - before anyone starts up - yes, I will agree that there is the technical possibility of influencing a government's position by attacking their civilians. We can see ample proof of it, though not necessarily in the case of Dresden.

The only issue I have is that I tend to label this kind of activity terrorism. Oh, you can get technical and start arguing how terrorists need to be non-governmental entities, and thus actions by the IDF could rather be defined as war crimes or somesuch. Either way, you get my point.

From yet another perspective, what you are arguing is simply immoral. I would be ashamed to be Jewish if the Jewish state consciously chose to kill thousands of civilians as retaliation for each Qassam attack. While Israel has previously adopted what some call 'collective punishment' measures, I have generally supported them in that they were(1) nonlethal ways of saving Israeli lives, and (2) had actual tactical effects against terrorists (ie their movement, arming, etc.). Your proposal violates both of these reasons.

(We previously had a discussion on this exact topic some months ago, in this blog post's comments.)

Of course, that doesn't mean that I don't think Israel should do anything in the face of such attacks. I in fact suggested something in a post just a few days ago. But I would be violently opposed to what you are suggesting. If I was serving in the IDF, I would refuse to carry out such orders on the grounds of them being immoral.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Dec 27, 2006 8:53:50 PM

I'm curious, actually, David. I reread that old argument in your comments section that I linked to, and you said this:

"There is no amount of carnage that Israel could visit upon the Palestinians that would prompt the leadership to say "OK, this is too much... we can't allow you to punish the people any more... we surrender" . Therefore it would be pointless and barbarous for us to pursue such a policy."

What caused your about-face? I'm sure there's a good reason (you are generally quite well-thought in your arguments), but I'm curious what it was.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Dec 27, 2006 9:25:44 PM

Morally, I have no problem with your proposal. But there are practical reasons to exercise restraint. The torching of Dresden didn't make the post-war occupation any easier.

Posted by: Bob | Dec 27, 2006 9:43:02 PM

Hi David,

I haven't finished reading your entire post yet, but I have read all of the comments and here are my observations:

Morality and ethics are definitely an important and meaningful part of the world, but I don't feel constrained by world condemnation. If the actions of the United Nations are anything to go by, I say we toss that organization in the rubbish bun. The UN is more about European Realpolitik than about Justice and ideas about right and wrong, which is what the Torah is based on.

As long as we decide that ideas about cultural relativism, Orientalism, Islamophobia, Islamofascism, Jihadism, Imperialism, Communist Socialism or other such nonsense take more importance in our lives than the idea of Justice then we will have surrendered out culture and inhertiance to folks who don't beleive in earning anything... only in entitlements and ideas about
religious superiority... whether Osama bin Ladin, Ahmadinejad or Jimmy Carter.

We're better than that and, Hashem willing, always will be.

What Israel needs, more than amything else, is a real leader, someone willing to make the tough decisions that have no perfect right or wrong, and express both a will and a beleif in out culture that firmly states that our survival is worth more than their pride, backwards cultural sensibilities and dreams of world conquest.

Two wrongs may not make a right but neither do one loss and one tie make for a victory.

Anyone who thinks that war never solves anything has forgotten slavery, The Third Reich, Nasser Gamal, any of the MANY failed governments of Syria, the Ottoman Empire, the Babylonians, The Roman Empire or any of the other morally bankrupt groups that no longer exist not because of words, but because someone stood up to them with arms when diplomacy failed.

In an ideal world, we could talk out all of our problems with rational neighbors in that perfect world, but we live in a decidedy imperfect world full of irrational players. We need to live will less than ideal or perfect decisions while still striving for the ideal and perfect.

May all nations have peace and earn respect for themselves through justice for all.

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

P.S.
And on a lighter note, may we all have socks to our own satisfaction!

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Dec 27, 2006 9:49:36 PM

Er... with PM like Olmert, NO suggestion is likely to be taken. As for me, I've been supporting very tough measures for since Intifada, but a) I live in the United States and b)even if I didn't, unless I were in a position of political influence no one would listen. Israel has to have a change of administration before any of the suggestions are implemented. Otherwise, all this discussion will lead nowhere.

Posted by: Irina | Dec 27, 2006 10:06:10 PM

"Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster."
"War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over."
Two quotes from Civil War General William T. Sherman that the lefties out there might learn from. (PS - They love quoting him when he says things like "War is hell." Well, yes, but...)
Another quote, this time from a gentleman who is no stranger to the left, namely Sting:
"What might save us, me, and you
Is that the Russians love their children too."
The problem here is that we are facing an enemy who does not love their children, to paraphrase Golda Meir. (Okay, no more quotes.) Bottom line. We will not defeat the Palestinians by being soft. They don't respect that, and only use it as a provocation to ratchet up the violence. Unfortunately, the only way to get through to them is by being more ruthless than they are. That's pretty damn ruthless, by the way. What it means is, if the Israelis really intend to actually win this war, it won't be pretty. It won't be all nicey touchy-feely. And, yes, there will be well-intentioned fools calling them terrorists, Nazis, murderers, yada yada yada. BTW - I'm not belittling how horrific this all is. Sherman was right - war is hell. But if you're in a war, not of your choosing BTW, you ultimately save more lives on both sides by ending it as quickly as possible. Negotiation doesn't work with these folks. "Proportionate responses" get the disdain they deserve. Targeted assasination is on the right track, but the results are temporary. If you fire a Kassam at us, you can kiss Jenin goodbye - now you're talkin'. If it happens enough times, maybe they'll remember how to love their children. And ultimately, it will save more lives on both sides than all the negotiations in the world.

Posted by: Belly Baldwin | Dec 27, 2006 10:16:09 PM

Strong responses require strong leadership. Strong leadership demands a strong country.

Though I have no solutions . . . Israel must do what it must do . . . and hang world opinion.

Posted by: Tim | Dec 27, 2006 11:07:59 PM

The might vs. right argument is silly. If the Palestinians had more might than Israel, there would be no Israel. Not something we should forget - particularly in light of Iran.

If we aim for a measured even response and generally get close, the Palestinians win. Every life lost means more to Israel. So we must change the math. Every Israeli lost is a town destroyed or a dozen Palestinian lives lost or whatever. Something to make it uneven or the problem will continue.

Ultimately, we must exercise this Dresden option or we will still be having this discussion in 5 or 10 or 25 years.

This, of course, from an out of shape American who has never held a gun to defend Israel.

Posted by: texasmensch | Dec 27, 2006 11:50:16 PM

Many fine points have been made by both sides. I'm not sure I can add much. But let me take a philosoophical point of view for a moment.
From the perspestive of many a philosopher, the purpose of religion is ethics. That point of view is supported by many Jewish theologians as well, though perhaps not necessarily classically orthodox ones. That said, if anything separates Jews, or in this case Israelis, from the masses it is our ethics.
Many early zionists were utopians, believing the State would follow ethics above all and be a light among nations. I like to believe this. I also believe in ethics as a prime value. That said, there is no basis for Jews to execute civilians in retaliation. They are innocents. Being Palestinian is not a crime. Even if they hate us we cannot execute them without provocation. It's not what we do. It's not who we are. There are things worth dying for. Ethics is one of those things. I believe that deep in my heart. And rationally as well.
If the Jewish State is essential because Jews must have a place to go to be safe, then perhaps indiscriminately killing our enemies is warranted from that perspective. If however, Israel is also a religious state on some level, representative of Jewish values, then you can't design a policy to execute civilians. It's not what we do. Even suggesting it is sick, from my perspective. If you're going to shoot an innocent in the heart on purpose, then please stop putting on tefillin first. Do you think that is what G-d wants because we're special to him? To bomb children? wake up.
All those who want to execute Palestinians with bombs dropped from planes should first be asked to go out with a handgun and shoot a Palestinian in the face at point blank range to understand the implications of what you're suggesting.
Executing civilians as a policy has moral implications for a society. Is that really who you want to be?
Larry Stiefel

Posted by: Jersey Boy (Larry) | Dec 28, 2006 12:50:17 AM

Some of the so-called morality being put forth in these comments is abjectly immoral. What is moral about aiding and abetting a terrorist culture and people? You stomp them out. THAT"S moral. That is what God demanded of Israel regarding those people who sacrificed their own children to appease their false gods. I think the Palis qualify. I make one concession to world opinion however and have stated this a couple times in David's bolg. Anchor a thousand garbage skows off Gaza beach and start the bulldozers from the East. Heck ... give em each an outboard moter and some gas. They can make it to Egypt or Lebanon. Shoot any of them that resist.

As for Europe. Bertold Brecht said upon learning of Hitlers death: " Rejoice not at his demise. The bitch that bore him is again in heat."

Posted by: Scott Fleming | Dec 28, 2006 1:08:47 AM

Jersey Boy (Larry):
"All those who want to execute Palestinians with bombs dropped from planes should first be asked to go out with a handgun and shoot a Palestinian in the face at point blank range to understand the implications of what you're suggesting."

I would do it if I was assured that this would lead to Gaza City being bombed flat, and I'm sure there would be many other takers.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 28, 2006 1:42:24 AM

To continue two threads:
Doctor Bean:
I don't pretend to understand the "Arab agenda", and I don't believe you do either. I remarked that the Israeli situation with the "Palestinians" is _similar_ to the generations-old British situation with the Irish. If you think the IRA was not seeking the expulsion or extermination of every Protestant in Northern Ireland, then you, sir, suffer from a profound misunderstanding of the stated goals of the IRA.

The term "Arab agenda" makes it seem as if the Arabs are united. They manifestly are not. If they were, if all the Arabs did unite for even one month, Israel would cease to exist. Israel serves the Arab regimes as a whipping boy to deflect the attention of the populace from poverty and corruption.

Do you think I was being soft on the "Palestinians"? I put the term in quotes. It is a made-up word. There is no such a people. Israel made them. The Palestinian state did not exist until Israel created it. Why I will never understand.

I referred to the Carthiginian solution and Kipling's "Grave of the Hundred Head". I hoped that some would be inquisitive enough to google those terms. Let me explain.

The Carthiginian solution:
To those who say "Might does not make right" I say "No, but it does make final." The Romans EXTERMINATED the Carthiginians. The only reason we today know the Carthiginians existed is because the Romans told us so. This is the Dresden option writ large. (My money says Israel cannot do it.)

"Grave of the Hundred Head":
Short version: Indian rebels kill an English lieutenant during the Raj. In retaliation, the soldiers of his command hunt down and kill one hundred rebels and stack their severed heads at his grave site. Very appropos solution. You kidnap two Israeli soldiers; we kill and behead two hundred Hezbollah, Hamas, insert the terrorist organization of your choice.

texasmensch:
I, too, am a Texan. Texas had a situation similar to Israel's. Comanches raided white settlements for horses, captives, and cattle. They tortured the captives to death for their amusement. Because no peace could be made with the Comanche -- one man's word, even a chief's word, could not bind another man -- the only option was unremitting war. The war ended when Colonel Ranald Mackenzie captured and slaughtered the Comanche's horses at the battle of Palo Duro Canyon in 1874.

There was a time when Texas's stated Indian policy was "Leave or die". Israel could do the same: Permanently exclude all non-Israeli Arabs from Israel.

But more to the point, texasmensch, you pose the correct question: Shall we give up what we are for safety?

What shall it profit a man that he gain the whole world but lose his own soul?

As I said before, I don't have the solution. But neither does Olmert. Neither does the Knesset. Vote the fools out. Put Netanyahu back in the driver's seat.

Posted by: antares | Dec 28, 2006 1:44:41 AM

CORRECTED TYPOS:

Hi David,

I haven't finished reading your entire post yet, but I have read all of the comments and here are my observations:

Morality and ethics are definitely an important and meaningful part of the world, but I don't feel constrained by world condemnation (especially since the morality and ethics behind world condemnation are as hypocritical as the UN). If the actions of the United Nations are anything to go by, I say we toss that organization in the rubbish bun. The UN is more about European Realpolitik than about Justice and ideas about right and wrong, which is what the Torah is based on.

As long as we decide that ideas about cultural relativism, Orientalism, Islamophobia, Islamofascism, Jihadism, Imperialism, Communist Socialism or other such nonsense take more importance in our lives than the idea of Justice then we will have surrendered our culture and inheritance to folks who don't beleive in earning anything... only in entitlements and ideas about religious superiority... whether Osama bin Ladin, Ahmadinejad or Jimmy Carter.

We're better than that and, Hashem willing, always will be.

What Israel needs, more than anything else, is a real leader, someone willing to make the tough decisions that have no perfect right or wrong, and express both a will and a beleif in our culture that firmly states that our survival is worth more than their pride, backwards cultural sensibilities and dreams of world conquest.

Two wrongs may not make a right but neither do one loss and one tie make for a victory.

Anyone who thinks that war never solves anything has forgotten:
- slavery, The Third Reich, Nasser Gamal, any of the MANY failed governments of Syria, the Ottoman Empire, the Babylonians, The Roman Empire or any of the other morally bankrupt groups that no longer exist not because of words, but because someone stood up to them with arms when diplomacy failed.

In an ideal world, we could talk out all of our problems with rational neighbors in that perfect world, but we live in a decidedy imperfect world full of irrational players. We need to learn to live with less than ideal or perfect decisions while still striving for the ideal and perfect.

May all nations have peace and earn respect for themselves through justice for all.

Shalom,
Maksim-Smelchak.

P.S.
And on a lighter note, may we all have socks to our own satisfaction!

Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak | Dec 28, 2006 1:49:04 AM

Antares: Ahh. I misunderstood you. Never mind.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 28, 2006 1:55:02 AM

I cannot sanction the deliberate targetting of civilians - it is simply immoral. It also wouldn't work - in both Germany and Japan, the leaders at least gave a small damn about their countrymen (the ones who were ethnically similar, at least). In this case you have a leadership that blatantly exploits its citizenship for economic and political gain, as a matter of policy, every moment of every day. Combine that with the anti-Israel PR blitz that would surely follow, and you have defeated your own cause.

As for solutions, I am all for the Chicago Way, as long as you are targeting known terrorists/combatants/militiamen/thugs/etc. Also, it might help if Israel didn't empty its prisons of terrorists for one kidnap victim (another display of the relative perception of the value of citizens' lives). And kicking a bit of ass when a bona fide, live, hot, active, world-acknowledged war is on wouldn't hurt.

Posted by: ralphie | Dec 28, 2006 2:11:44 AM

"Some of the so-called morality being put forth in these comments is abjectly immoral. What is moral about aiding and abetting a terrorist culture and people? You stomp them out. THAT"S moral. That is what God demanded of Israel regarding those people who sacrificed their own children to appease their false gods. I think the Palis qualify."

I don't know about you, but I was raised with the morality that murder was wrong, and that even to carry out an execution, there needed to be incontrovertible proof (and, from a religious perspective, warning of the consequences ahead of the act).

I make the distinction here between murder, execution, and killing. The first is entirely wrong. The second should only be used in extremely limited cases. The third, the most general term, can sometimes be not only justified but required... but only in a way that keep the above to lessons in mind.

I do not believe that we have any moral justification whatsoever in slaughtering thousands of Palestinians for every provocation. We may kill people in direct self-defense... and we may accidentally kill those we do not target as an unavoidable consequence of such self-defense. But the second that a government makes murder a national policy is the moment that I renounce my citizenship.

Being a member of a 'terrorist culture' is hardly a crime worthy of execution, nor will killing such individuals improve your security more than if you had just killed the terrorists themselves.

It is not immoral for us to realize that some acts are simply not acceptable and voluntarily bind ourselves by such limits.

Ender

Posted by: matlabfreak | Dec 28, 2006 3:37:44 AM

Like I said matlabfreak .... expel them. Kill those that resist. It's not like you're dealing with decent human beings here. They're degenerate baby murding scum. At least 80% of them anyway. Tough for the other 20%. Can't be helped.

Posted by: Scott Fleming | Dec 28, 2006 7:08:42 AM

The Dresden Plan for Gaza is based on a misunderstanding of Palestinian culture. Palestinian society is something of a suicide cult when it comes to dealing with the Israelis. The Palestinians are more than willing to give up the lives of the masses. The leadership is especially willing to give up the masses, and the masses agree.

The Israeli - Palestinian fight is over land. The Palestinians are NOT willing to give up land. Anything but land. Transfer of Palestinians is a gun to the head of the Palestinian leadership. Push back the population of Beit Hanun so they are simply unable to launch rockets at Sderot. Clear the southern area out completely -- depopulate a belt one kilometer wide adjoining the border with Egypt. The requirement to dig tunnels a full kilometer long will deter smuggling.

Human hostages are simply the wrong tool for Israel to use to counter Palestinian hostage-taking. It would be far more effective to take land. Occupy a chunk of Gaza and kick out the population; Then swap the territory for Gilad Shalit. If they kill him, then Israel gets a new province called "Gilad Shalit". Even then it is a win for Israel. Israel gains land and the kidnapping will be a loss for the Palestinians. They won't want to do it again. If they do it again anyway then Israel grows in territory at the expense of the Palestinians. This can go on until they have no place left to live or they stop the violence. Fine either way.

Gilad Shalit has been kidnapped for 6 months. Freeing large numbers of Palestinian prisoners rewards them for the kidnapping. It's time to escalate.

Depopulating territory should be doable with less loss of life than other plans. The mass killing approach is truly a last resort, Israel can win and win decisively without it.

Posted by: Fred | Dec 28, 2006 9:59:20 AM

I am all for the Chicago Way


From The Untouchables
Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Ness: Anything and everything in my power.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way because they're not gonna give up the fight until one of you is dead.
Ness: How do you do it then?
Malone: You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward. Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, 'cause you just took one.

Ralphie,

Great movie. I don't have a problem with making the us versus them choice. It makes perfect sense.

I am ignoring the moral question for a moment because I am not so sure that The Dresden Option is viable.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, look at Chechnya. If we are going to take drastic measures, if we are going to set aside morality then we better be pretty sure that it is going to work.

I am still on the fence on this.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 28, 2006 10:34:03 AM

Yikes, way too much thought went into your comments for me to respond with only a line or two.

Please see today's post for a more reasoned response.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Dec 28, 2006 3:14:02 PM

Every since there have been humans the land..all land.. has belonged to whoever could take it and defend it..it is no different now. It is not about who is right or wrong but who has the courage and strength to defend what they have taken.

Once a society loses its will to defend itself it will perish..it may perish anyway but at least history will note the society went out fighting..

Posted by: GUYK | Dec 30, 2006 4:11:26 PM

Two views on Dresden:

1. AGAINST Dresden- complete terror bombing, killed everyone in sight, no mercy, no apparent military target GREAT ENOUGH to justify a mass extermination of around half a million civilians (out of over a million that resided there)

2. FOR Dresden- there was SOME military targets, not as important as others in different locations, but mildly slowed re-supply of Nazi forces.

"It is never permissible to aim to kill or harm a non-combatant in the case of terrorism or counter-terrorism"

Dresden can be seen as an act of terrorism just as much as Palestinian suicide bombings on Israel. It was mass killing of civilians, and it was to reach a political objective. Hiroshima/Nagasaki can be seen the same way, against civilians- as well as the Tokyo bombings. Were they justified? There is no final answer to that question. The alternatives were invading Japan and having millions die instead of hundreds of thousands or possibly even a conditional surrender could have prevented the dropping of the atomic bombs/Tokyo fire bombings.


However, back on the topic of Palestine, Israel oppressed the Palestinian people during the early to mid 1900's, even after the UN agreements of 1947 when Israel took more land then specified in the agreement. Back then when the Palestinian people were actually fighting for land it was justified; Israel was a stronger force and Palestine was being over run by something they could in no way match militarily or politically (since the UN agreement did nothing). Now, however, they are so far removed from the goal of retrieving back land that in the past they have turned down MULTIPLE offers from Israel to give them their own state. As soon as Palestine turned down the first of these offers, the small fragment of justification they did have was lost. The suicide bombings could no longer be justified because as said by many as fact, the Palestinians only want to completely wipe out Israel (not return land to themselves).

The option of committing a mass extermination equal to that of Dresden could and would only be considered today as a SEVERE act of terrorism. The only way anyone would be able to take this option into consideration is if it was known that a massive terrorist force was gathered in the targeted Palestinian area, and it would assist in ending terrorist movements (against Israel) by fire bombing the area, and of course killing thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

Honestly, I believe that what Antares stated about the US invading Afghanistan is the best answer to this problem. Even though Israel is smaller then Palestine, its military might far outweighs that of the Palestinian people. Perhaps a complete invasion is the answer. At least if that approach is made, and the ALL of Palestinian people STILL prove to be unwilling to cooperate, then the Palestinian people can no longer be considered innocent civilians, in which case, David's point could be the only answer left.

Posted by: Ad Kaiser | Jan 13, 2007 3:28:02 AM

The humane solution would be to drive out the entire population (other than known sympathisers) to the other side of the Suez Canal as part of the next war against Egypt. Do the same in Judea and Samaria but push them into Jordan which by that time should become the state of the Palestinian Arabs rather than the Hashemites. Basically do what Israel did successfully in 48 but failed to do in 67. The 48 territories are relatively secure, the arabs relatively prosperous and even pro-Israel when it comes down to choosing; the 67 territories are the problem.

I'd also like to see Lebanon become a homeland for the Christian refugees streaming out of arab countries and the Lebanese muslims could go in the opposite direction.

Posted by: aparatchik | Mar 23, 2011 2:12:00 PM

Post a comment