Suck on This Redux

I’d call him a wanker, but that just wouldn’t go far enough in describing the utterly despicable nature of one Thomas Friedman. Instead, I’ll just let him sum up his own depravity briefly:

Here’s what Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, said the morning after the morning after about his decision to start that war by abducting two Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006: “We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 … that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not.” 

That was the education of Hezbollah. Has Israel seen its last conflict with Hezbollah? I doubt it. But Hezbollah, which has done nothing for Hamas, will think three times next time. That is probably all Israel can achieve with a nonstate actor.

Here’s Brian Buetler’s response:

One of the things that makes his commentary so maddening is that, right there, Friedman is acknowledging the failing of his own idea. In a conflict between states, one can imagine arguing a moral and practical case for the Friedman approach. The Nagasaki option. It’s not a clear cut case by any means, but if one country attacks another, and that country responds by unleashing overwhelming force–enough force to make its enemy acknowledge the folly of fighting–then perhaps the disproportionate response was the right way forward. And then there’s a peace treaty and then, perhaps, the dawn of friendlier relations.

If that situation mapped on to the Middle East, then the calculus would be different. Maybe Hamas kills a few Israelis, and Israelis respond by killing hundreds of Palestinians, and Hamas, now “educated”, throws in the towel, agrees to recognize Israel, and a new peace process emerges. But even Thomas Friedman knows this isn’t how things work.

Of course this is true, and it’s worth distinguishing motivations as well. In World War II, for example, you had an actor in Japan who was a totalitarian government seeking to acquire an empire through the Asian rim. A large, disproportionate response and massive bombing campaigns in populated areas was likely to end the conflict because to the average citizen, acquiring a territorial empire really isn’t worth being burned to death by napalm jelly or vaporized in an instant by an atomic bomb. The consideration for the Palestinians isn’t the same. They’re not trying to acquire a large realm of imperial territory, they’re trying to fight off an occupying power whose also blockading their country, cutting off humanitarian aid, enforcing a state of de facto perpetual poverty, etc. Bombing them isn’t going to change any of that, and it’s not going to beat the Palestinians into “submission.” After all, what exactly is submission? The Israelis don’t want to gain control of Gaza, and they certainly don’t want to make the Palestinian territories part of Israel. Rather it’s only going to make Palestinians even more desperate, so not only does Friedman’s strategy not work, it actively makes things worse.

But at least he feels manly.