The spear and shield

It’s mind-numbing to talk about Palestine. An unbelievable amount of misery and failed policy to unpack. 

Should Israel exist? That was a question for 75 years ago that has already been decided, with multiple wars taking the chance to say otherwise, and they all failed. So Israel exists and is going to continue to exist, at least until there is such a massive change in the global power structure that it could have only been reconfigured by something we would consider to be a World War. 

But that doesn’t mean we should aid and abet Israel while it carries out war crimes. Regardless of the reality that Hamas is also guilty of war crimes. There are plenty of war crimes to go around. Already, there have been more UN humanitarian personnel, journalists, and civilians killed in such a short amount of time than in any war in recent memory. This is as bad as anything can get.

Now, of course, the US has no moral standing to tell Israel much of anything. Our actions in Iraq from the 1970s until 2012 should also be considered a series of war crimes that left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead, the majority of them women and children. The U.S. was never taken to task for it by any international legal bodies. But there were hardly any cameras back then, people didn’t see it as clearly as we can see it today.  I mean ask any American about what happened in Iraq because of US policy and the vast majority couldn’t tell you the right answer.

But there is one thing we learned from our what should be called illegal escapades into Iraq. Fighting terrorism with indiscriminate warfare and crushing sanctions and isolation just breeds new terrorists. It is literally terror itself creating more terror. We went from having a small band of well-funded lunatics to dozens of splintered ISIS groups and a thousand times the number of recruits ready to take up arms in just about a decade.

The same must be happening right now in countries throughout the region. If our actions are any indication of what to expect then in the next few years we’re about to see the worst series of terrorist attacks that we have seen since the rise of ISIS.

We have the rule of law to fight chaos. When we break it, like the United States and Israel are doing now, we breed more chaos. That was Hamas’s strategy and it worked. That was Osama Bin Laden’s strategy, and it worked.

Hamas set out to destroy the possibility of peace, ever, at any time. And Israel, with the United States’ help, is making that ambition a reality.

There are no easy answers but at some point we have to break the cycle of violence. The world is with the Palestinians in overwhelming numbers because they are today’s victims. You can’t look at the pictures and think about what’s happening there without feeling that way or deciding that their lives are somehow not worth saving. And most people feel that their lives are worth saving.

I understood what Biden was doing in the first few weeks after the Hamas attack. I didn’t like it, but I understood it.  Being in the room with Netanyahu was the only option to have some sort of influence.  Even now Israel doesn’t need our money or weapons as much as most Americans believe, but giving it to them opens up possibilities of influence. Yes, it’s that upside down.

However, the Biden administration’s policy completely lost me at the last UN vote, where it seemed that we could have forced more compromise and gotten a legitimate ceasefire and the beginnings of restoring the rule of law and starting a new peace plan. Don’t get me wrong, the motion voted on was flawed, but we could have pushed for a better resolution.  One that might have slowed down the inevitable chaos that’s about to come. But now we’re in this ridiculously tied-in knots situation where we are arming Netanyahu’s army but instructing them how to not kill too many civilians while also trying to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. That is the kind of madness that 75 years of failed policy has brought the world.

And as usual all of this couldn’t be happening at a worse time, or better I suppose, it depends on how you look at it. Because this could easily be the beginning of WWIII.  This could be the turning point where the second-to-last American Democratically elected President of the United States loses his election to a would-be authoritarian regime over his support of an entity that was born out of WWII. This could easily be the final straw that loses Biden the election next year.  And if anybody thinks that a Trump administration, fully intent on ending American democracy, is going to somehow slow down the coming turbulence, well, they drank the kool-aid. The disillusionment of the left coupled with the enthusiasm of the right could easily bring in a Trump presidency. Have you seen the 2025 project? Look it up and consider how the Palestinians will fare under that agenda.

If I had to call it right now, it’s Trump’s election to lose.  And then the Israeli/Palestinian conflict might not be hammered out in a peace plan, but instead be decided when the smoke clears.

The historians, if we’re lucky, might be writing about how the outcome of WWI led to the environment that gave us WWII, and that the decisions at the end of WWII eventually led to WWIII.

Or Biden could abandon his current policy and get the UN back on track with a ceasefire and peace plan. It won’t be easy.  The Palestinians (and Arabs throughout the region) overwhelmingly don’t support a 2 state solution, they have no trust in the West anymore.  And Israel will never accept giving a substantial voice to non-Jews in its government, that is the literal end to the whole idea of Israel. That’s the Chinese paradox of the spear and shield. Or as Batman fans might think of it as the immovable object meets the irresistible force. 

That’s what the decisions at the end of WWII left us with.  The decisions that 75 years of policy have been unable to resolve. And the task in front of us is to try to finally tie up the loose ends of the last war without starting the next.