August 19, 2006
|Brutality Corrupts||Global Guerrillas Palestine/Middle East War and Peace|
Israelis are asking themselves why the IDF in Lebanon has failed to achieve the kind of decisive victory that was seen in past wars. One answer, surely, is that modern national armies are ill-equipped to defeat increasingly sophisticated guerrilla forces intermingled with supportive civilian populations. All the smart bombs in the world aren't much help if there aren't any suitable targets.
Tom Segev, writing in Haaretz, suggests some other hypotheses. The most interesting of these is "the internal connection between the quality of the IDF's functioning in Lebanon and the occupation and the oppression in Gaza and the West Bank." Segev:
There is a generation of soldiers whose main military experience involves the oppression of the Palestinian population in the territories; they have not been trained for real war.
Like the chief of staff, the soldiers of the occupation have developed infinite arrogance. Every private is a king in the territories: If he so wishes, he allows a Palestinian to go through the roadblock; if he so wishes, he orders him to remove his pants. The power of the occupation has implanted a profound contempt for the Palestinians in many soldiers, and this is the essence of their experience as soldiers.
The Palestinian terror and its suppression have also granted legitimacy to a very serious systematic undermining of the Palestinians' human rights. The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Lebanese from their homes, as though it were permissible routine, was carried out in this spirit as well. As opposed to the past, there was almost no protest in Israel... [Emphasis added]
Actions have consequences. Chickens come home to roost. Brutality blunts and weakens the perpetrator. If you act like oafish goons, before long you become oafish goons. You forget who you were before.
Israeli brutality vis-a-vis the Palestinians is bad enough, but what the US is doing in Iraq is far worse. The impact on our national character is already being felt. The longer we continue, the more hideous the consequences will be. Call it karma, if you like, or just call it psychology. But one way or the other, we will pay.