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Bleak Assessment

November 26th, 2003 - 12:35 am

Hey, kids! It’s History Trivia Time!

Wait — come back. The questions are easy and the answers are even provided for you, so everyone can feel all smart and stuff. Today’s topic is Modern Warfare. Here we go:

Q: When did the Civil War end?

A: When the South was burned, occupied, and crying uncle.

Q: When did World War I end?

A: It didn’t really end until World War II ended.

Q: OK, Mr. Smarty Pants, when did WWII end?

A: It ended when Germany was burned, occupied, and crying uncle. And when Japan was burned, occupied, slightly radioactive, and crying uncle.

Q: Well, what about Korea?

A: That war is still on, too.

Q: Oh.

A: Did you have another question?

Q: Yes. When did Vietnam end?

A: It ended when South Vietnam was burned, occupied, and crying uncle.

Q: And Iraq?

A: I’ll get back to you on that one. We didn’t burn a whole lot, and some crazies just don’t know when to cry uncle.

Which leads me to this Dennis Ross op-ed in today’s Washington Post:

While peace is not about to break out between Israelis and Palestinians, there is once again an opening to end the past three years of warfare. Both sides want to end the war, create a period of calm and restore normal life for their publics. Those desires are not sufficient to reestablish faith in the other side’s intentions or to bridge the gaps on how to deal with Jerusalem, borders and refugees. But they may be sufficient to produce a more enduring cease-fire and the resumption of a peace process.

Yawn.

Modern wars don’t seem to end until one side is well and truly beaten. The exception to the rule is “wars of national liberation” (as the Soviets liked to call the actions of their little terrorist buddies), which end when the evil occupying nation gets sick of the whole mess and leaves. And even then the war doesn’t really end, because the victors then turn against each other, like in parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Anyway.

That’s what gets me about the whole peace process — it can’t work.

If you think that the West Bank is an occupied nation, then you naturally think that all Israel has to do is to pull out — and peace will suddenly break out like a pimple the day before Senior Prom. The problem is, the Palestinians, by and large, think that Israel isn’t just occupying the West Bank, it’s occupying, well, all of Israel. So simply pulling back to the Green Line won’t end the war.

And that means that to Israel and Palestine, this is a war of survival.

And that makes this a very modern war, which won’t end until one side or the other is burned, occupied, and crying uncle. Fact is, the Palestinians can’t do that to the Israelis. Another fact is, the Israelis won’t (but could) do it to the Palestinians.

And that is why you almost never see me write anything about the Middle East “peace process.” The only process towards peace is the kind of war one side can’t commit, and the other side won’t.

So stop with the hand-wringing already. It just isn’t going to get any better any time soon.

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