27 August 2006

Free Unsolicited Military Advice

Not that I'm an expert, but I was reading the latest piece on how Israel lost the recent not-quite-a-war (subscription and totally irrelevant to this post). And it got me thinking.

An Israel, a US, others, can and has done great fighting what can be called top down wars: Just about any war involving Israel, WWs I and II.

That fine prowess and materiel though very often gets trumped by what can be called a bottom up war: Viet-Nam; the Intifidah (no matter how much one hopes and pray, the Israeli response has had a pretty limited net success -- certainly, the corruption of the Palestinian leadership has done far more hard all things Palestinian than Israel has).

This is not to say these bottom up wars are supported by a majority of the peons, just that generally there is a significant amount of support, whether or not explicit, such as tacitly allowing military facilities to be placed within civilian areas so they can't be taken out without
killing non-combatants and, of course, providing "martyrs."

As a bottom up problem, a top down response is expensive and involved to be successful -- if it can be. (Of course, Olmert wussed out. He should have refused to agree to a cease fire and continued on in south Lebanon. Standing Firm is a great policy for electoral success even of not very good militarily -- it's our plan for Iraq and it's working fine for our leaders, not so fine for the rest of the world.)

What the solution really is at the end of the day is that it's not a military one, it's an economic one.

It requires a limit to exploitation. In the Middle East, the West with its petro-pig partners has done an excellent job of exploitation and creating an ever-growing gap between rich and poor. (I'm of the school that there is an optimum spread of wealth.) Going for a maximum squeeze may do wonders for a company's or industry's bottom line -- but then there's the cost that everyone else ends up paying.

Poor people have nothing to lose. Desperately, hopelessly poor people can be desperate enough to do great harm. Or allow others to do so. Or to give electoral victor to an Arafat, Hezbollah, Hamas.

The failure of our policies is obvious and speaks for itself.


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