Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lights Out in Gaza?

As the bombing of Gaza began, I speculated on the barbaric language that would be generated in the course of the coming invasion. It turns out that I was not far wrong in my guesses. Glenn Greenwald points out that Tom Friedman is indeed openly demanding Israeli attacks on Gazan civilians:

He explains that the 2006 Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon was, contrary to conventional wisdom, a great success. To make this case, Friedman acknowledges that the deaths of innocent Lebanese civilians was not an unfortunate and undesirable by-product of that war, but rather, was a vital aspect of the Israeli strategy -- the centerpiece, actually, of teaching Lebanese civilians a lesson they would not soon forget:

"Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future.

"Israel’s military was not focused on the morning after the war in Lebanon — when Hezbollah declared victory and the Israeli press declared defeat. It was focused on the morning after the morning after, when all the real business happens in the Middle East. That’s when Lebanese civilians, in anguish, said to Hezbollah: 'What were you thinking? Look what destruction you have visited on your own community! For what? For whom?'"


Friedman says that he is "unsure" whether the current Israeli attack on Gaza is similiarly designed to teach Palestinians the same lesson by inflicting "heavy pain" on civilians, but he hopes it is:

"In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to 'educate' Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims."