Today is Monday 29 December 2008. Already Jewish Israelis have killed more people in their airstrikes on Hamas and Palestinian Arabs in Gaza than Muslim terrorists based in Pakistan killed in Mumbai, India a month ago. While tensions between India on one hand and Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other seems to have subsided, at least for now, they have exploded between Israel and not just Hamas but the Arab and Persian streets.
It is time for the international community to unite, invoke global sovereignty, and launch a massive planetary police intervention to stop this local and regional cycle of hatred, revenge, madness, and stupidity once and for all. This situation is so serious it warrants acceleration of human cultural evolution toward democratic planetary union.
First, a quick overview of this Gaza mess. After great violence Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Named after the city of Gaza, the Strip had been a corridor for imperial armies since the Ancient Egyptians and Hittites warred over the area. After the Second World War the Egyptians took the Gaza Strip in 1948 in the wake of the British departure during the First Arab-Israeli War and the Jewish-Palestinian breakup of the region.
With the exception of a brief Israeli conquest in 1956, Israel occupied Gaza again in 1967 when it overran the Sinai Peninsula. That occupation weathered a series of bloody wars and uprisings until the Israelis withdrew in 2005.
Violence continued, however, with a Palestinian Civil War in which Hamas, representing radical and militant Islamic fundamentalists including terrorists, won a democratic election and then militarily ousted its defeated rival, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority from Gaza. There was another outburst of Gazan/Palestinian-Israeli border warfare in 2006, which in turn escalated into the Summer War between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel blockaded Hamas in Gaza with dire results for the Palestinians there.
A shaky truce ended recently between Hamas in Gaza and Israel. Hamas declared the truce over and began firing large numbers of rockets and lobbing mortar shells indiscriminately into southern Israel. They violated the truce numerous times with rocket fire and occasionally the Israelis retaliated. Most of the time, however, the Israelis endured the frequent provocation without any retaliation.
Although the Israelis left the Gaza Strip in 2005, after Hamas’ violent victory they implemented an air, land, and sea blockade. This blockade turned into a humanitarian disaster with great suffering by the Palestinian people. The blockade was occasionally broken by smuggling and once, in January 2008, Hamas blew open the barriers on its border with Egypt.
Not just food, fuel, and medicine but large numbers of weaponry including longer-range missiles manufactured or modified in China and/or Iran made their way through. The blockade led to such widespread deprivation that some accused the Israelis, most the descendents of genocide survivors, of being genocidal themselves.
The Israeli government appeared in disarray with its prime minister, Ehud Olmert, mired in corruption scandals. The Israelis also appeared indecisive and vacillating as they tolerated one provocation after another from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel appeared more interested in talking peace with Syria indirectly through Turkey while ramping up reasons to attack Iran while allowing both the American and Israeli election processes run their respective courses.
In the meantime Israel maintained a brutal blockade on the Palestinians in Gaza while asking Hamas to continue the ceasefire. Israel also warned that it would not tolerate Hamas rocket attacks. The rockets kept coming, however, and Israel did nothing…at first.
Other players on the world stage continue to quietly performed their roles. It appears Iran created a unified command over Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syrian militaries. There may be a level of involvement with Shia militias in Iraq. There is also a degree of Iranian engagement with rogue but powerful elements in Pakistani military and intelligence forces as well as with anti-U.S. Afghan warlords.
As the politics of the Middle East and South Asia are a labyrinth of shifting loyalties and chess-like power plays, there remains much conjecture, speculation, and even wishful thinking. It seems likely there are three primary targets by Iran and its allies: India, Israel, and Egypt. The Persians are too clever to blatantly invade their enemies in open confrontations in which they would likely be defeated. The lessons of Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan as well as their own history lead the Iranians to choose another path.
Hindu India was at one time conquered by imperial Muslims before breaking up and falling under British dominion. Its post-independence actions against Muslim Pakistan especially over the divided region of Kashmir plus significant Hindu discrimination against India’s large Muslim minority has made India a large target for those who wish to establish another Muslim empire.
Unceasing Israeli-Palestinian violence has made Jewish Israel a target and that crossroads of history has always been a target for those with both grand ambition and simple revenge. As an emotional and psychological target it far outweighs its relative value in a normal scheme of things.
Egypt, once a bitter enemy of Israel, made peace with the latter and suppressed its own violent Fundamentalist Muslim insurrection. Egypt mutated into an authoritarian, corrupt regime under President Hosni Mubarak. He is the last major secular leader of a significant Arab state. Mubarak’s Egyptian government is hostile to Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran even as it champions the Palestinian people.
Islamic Fundamentalists, having failed over the years to overthrow the monarchies of Jordan, which also signed a peace treaty with Israel, and Saudi Arabia, still technically at war with Israel and an enemy of India, is still a bastion of pro-Western support. Egypt is the pivotal hinge of the Middle East, which stretches across North Africa into Southwestern Asia. Iran has its own ambitious designs for regime change. As does the United States and the European Union.
While unforgivable, obnoxious, and deadly, Hamas rocket barrages inflicted little loss of life, injury and property relative to the recent Israeli response in Gaza. As I write Hamas feels justified in attacking Israel because of the Israeli blockade. The Israelis blockaded Gaza after the violence of Hama’s victory over the Palestinian Authority and its subsequent war with Hezbollah against Israel. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel at all. Israel feels justified in responding with overwhelming force, smashing Hamas with a sledgehammer air assault. It can not tolerate any more rocket fire upon its population and territory.
Gaza is densely populated with Palestinians and is small in size. Hamas has little room for maneuver, and also deliberately hides its military units and terrorist cells amid civilians even storing weaponry in mosques, homes, and schools. It is a recipe for disaster. Both sides feel justified in their mutual slaughter.
As I write Israeli casualties remain small with a handful killed and injured by Palestinian rocket and mortar attacks. Israeli tanks and artillery mass on the Gazan border while its air force continues to pound Gaza and fly warning flights over southern Lebanon. Over 300 Palestinians are dead in Gaza with over 650 wounded.
The Iranians are organizing a military response to the Israeli assault on Gaza as the Arab and Persian streets explode with anti-Israeli protests. Violent skirmishes broke out on the Gazan-Sinai border between Egyptian security forces and Palestinians. Conflicting reports emerge whether or not Egypt is allowing humanitarian relief to and from Rafah on the Gazan border. Hezbollah and Syrian forces are on alert. Hassan Nasrallah, the Sh’ite mullah who leads Hezbollah, called upon the people of Egypt to take to the streets by the millions against their own government, an act angrily denounced by the Mubarak regime as a declaration of war.
Hamas is highly unpopular among many Arab regimes that support the Palestinian cause, but Israel is even more unpopular. Television images shock the world with dead and maimed Palestinian women and children among flaming and smoking ruins. Israel has little diplomatic support even if its actions are understandable or justified.
In today’s age of mass media and digital technology any military assault that appears overwhelming lopsided turns the tide of public opinion against the government and then the people behind such a lopsided assault. This is even when such so-called lopsided military assaults is how one militarily wins battles and wars; one crushes the enemy before they crush you.
Israel fell into the Iranian trap. And it appears they fell into the trap sooner than expected. It was expected that Hamas rocket attacks would provoke Israeli retaliation but more gradually than occurred. At some point it appears that Hezbollah and the Lebanese would enter the conflict, then Iran and perhaps Syria. It would be a final war to the finish with Israel obliterated, forgetting that the Western powers would simply not allow that to happen and would provide the excuse long sought by the US Bush Regime to attack Iran.
Forgetting, too, that Israel in a fight to the death for survival would likely resort to atomic weapons. The gamble is that the war-weary and fragmented Western countries are too distracted by economic and environmental challenges to ride to the rescue in yet another bloody misadventure.
In the meantime Iranian forces would assist the hoped for mass uprising by the Egyptian people against their secular regime. Any Iranian retaliation against the West would involve strikes against US and European naval forces, closing the Persian Gulf, mass missile barrages onto US and UK bases in Iraq, and terrorist attacks anywhere. Large and resentful Muslim populations in Europe could explode into riots and terrorism. Events nearby in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh remain wild cards. Russian and Chinese responses are unknown.
It is quite conceivable these interlocking conflicts will spiral out of control and link up with other local and regional wars into one vast cauldron of violence reaching from Congo and Central Africa across the Middle East into Europe and the Indian subcontinent. Israel, Pakistan, India, the United States, China, Russia, France, Britain, and maybe Iran have nuclear weapons. So this Palestinian-Israeli problem has to be settled now or it ignites the planet.
Bluntly, this war is stupid. Each side has their reasons and their justifications. All are understandable, and still this war is stupid. Both sides are stupid. They’re blinded by raw hatred twisted from dogmatic and emotional misinterpretations of religion, race, and nationality.
Extreme prejudice guides these squabbling groups. There is only one way to win such wars, and that is for one side to exterminate the other, which is no longer acceptable.
Stopping short of such mutual extermination leads to resentment, riots, rebellions, revolts, and terrorism by the weaker side and resentment, conquest, occupation, and eventual financial ruin and moral corruption by the stronger side. Those caught up in the passions and emotions of the moment, calling for the destruction of the other, are also complete idiots. No one will win and everyone loses. The locals ignite regional violence and the globals must respond before the wildfire spreads across the continents.
Forcing ceasefires upon combatants who hate each other only postpones the inevitable showdown. It may stop the current violence, but mutually enraged enemies rush to rearm for the next war as soon as the United Nations brokers a truce. Food, medicine, fuel, and clothing resupply the survivors, and agitators who know nothing but endless cycles of revenge and lawless power plays fueled by nationalist hatred and religious fanaticism gear up for the next showdown. War in the name of peace and terrorism in the name of liberation becomes a way of life.
If humanity is truly appalled by the violence in Gaza with the possibility of it triggering nuclear war and planet-wide conflict, if there is little or no room for peace and love in the hearts of so many enemies, if endless violence-ridden ceasefires fail to bring about a peace treaty, then international intervention on a massive scale has to occur.
The concept of national sovereignty is a moot point and an obsolete one in today’s globalized and economically integrated age. Heavily armed United Nations forces will need to go in and physically separate the combatants.
Israel and Palestine will be given choices: they will be merged into a new nation as secular republic with a new name that does not represent any religion, or they will be forced into two separate states under UN arbitration of borders. Neighboring states such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt may have to join the Israelis and Palestinians in surrendering territory as a contribution to world peace and global stability. Or their obsolete national sovereignty will be imposed upon by the demands of global sovereignty.
In lieu of any local agreement international arbiters shall carve out new borders for a new Palestinian nation unless they are integrated with the Israelis in a new republic. Perhaps Egypt can contribute the Sinai Peninsula to a new Palestinian republic while Israel gives up the West Bank. These are examples of what is possible.
The locals need to get they have been asking for global help, and they also have demonstrated a glaring inability to resolve their disputes peacefully. The rest of the world needs to stand up and stop taking sides in the Middle East and simply state we are not going to let you kill each other anymore and threaten world peace with your endless, mindless violence and stupidity.
The bottom line is this: we the people of Earth need a transparent, democratic world government to overcome our addiction for neverending war and violence. The United Nations and its member nation-states have to step up to the plate with the willingness to enforce peace with armed forces.
Yes, it is an oxymoron, but the intention is different. Instead of two mutually genocidal sides waging war to the death, a United Earth uses armed force more as superpolice to stop the crime of war, enforce peace, maintain law and order, and allow the courts and not the street to dispense justice. This is the beginning of the criminalization of war, for war must be criminalized to be abolished. And just as police forces resort to violence as a last resort, our Planet Earth superpolice resort to violence as a last resort to restore order and bring criminals to justice.
The beginnings of a democratic world government lay with the current institutions we have, so let’s use them as we transition with greater deliberation to more purposeful global democratic institutions. We have many challenges, including we have so many co-dependent nation-states, failed states, and stateless nations locked in ongoing cycles of violence without real democracy. And the human-created catastrophes and potential cataclysm in the Middle East, South Asia, and Central Africa demands immediate response from the rest of us who share the same planet.
It is really quite simple. The rest of us tell the warlords of Central Africa and the nationalists and religious zealots of South Asia and the Middle East to stop their mutual slaughter or we will stop it for you. We will go in not as conquerors but as police on territory not to be occuppied as it is already humanity’s planet. As one Planet Earth we go in to squash the violence and bring the perpetuators to justice, offer choices and solutions, and impose what cannot be agreed to.
It is time for humanity to come together to collaborate and cooperate with intelligence for political integration as we reform our economy. It is time for humanity to work together with respect for one another and zero tolerance for the crime of war. It is time for humanity to come together as one, that individual liberty without responsibility is as backward and undesirable as social cohesion without freedom. We must learn to overcome the hatreds and suspicions with so bloodily divide us time and time again. We allow these blood feuds to continue. We can choose to stop this idiocy.
It is time for humanity to grow up and seize life.
Postscript December 2011: The Gaza Mess has not gotten any better. The short Gaza War ended for awhile then spluttered back into a low-level war of attrition. Turkey has swung around to the Gazan side against the Israelis. Meanwhile, a frustrated young vendor set himself on fire in Tunisia to protest police brutality and government despotism, and North Africa and the Middle East erupted into the Arab Spring. That continues to unfold, with one result being the breakdown of law and order in the Egyptian Sinai. The Sinai peninsula has become it’s own ugly little war in a rugged and mountainous desert. An explosive mix of forces jockey for local power there, including radicalized pro-Hamas and pro-al-Qaeda units, Bedouin tribes, Iranian agents, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood groups, roving Libyans and Pakistanis,
William Dudley Bass
29 December 2008
Revised and Rewritten 18 December 2011
NOTE: This article was originally published as “The Gaza Mess and the Need for Global Intervention,” in one of my earlier blogs, At the Brink with William Dudley Bass, at http://atthebrinkwithwilliamdudleybass.blogspot.com/2008/12/gaza-mess-and-need-for-global.html on 29 December 2008, and reposted here this 18 December 2011. Thank you.
Copyright © 2008, 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.