How can Israel be rescued from militarism?


By steveabbott
June 10, 2010
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I have recently started a debate about the extent to which Israel is a normal country, and if not, might a future major military defeat have a positive outcome - one that may result in a rejection of militarism, and the evolution into a more 'normal state'. Interestingly, that blog has now been removed from the JC. Am waiting for editorial to tell me why.

I would argue that Israel is most certainly not a normal country. It is highly militarised (perhaps on a per-capita basis, the most militarised nation on earth), and considers itself to be 'at war' seemingly on a permanent basis. Since 1967, it has continuously, and often brutally occupied the west bank, and the gaza strip up to 2005. It is in defiance of more UN resolutions (by a very large margin), than any other nation. Its leaders have to be careful what countries they visit, in case they are arrested for alleged war crimes. It has covertly built up an enormous arsenal of nuclear weapons - perhaps in excess of 200. Israel has a recent history of invading Lebanon, bombing Syria, and of course in 2008/9 visiting a terrible massacre on the people of the Gaza - euphemistically termed 'operation cast lead'. Despite being the regional superpower (by a very large margin), it appears to see itself as constantly 'under threat', and as others have posted on the JC - it apparantly is required to 'defend' its very existance on a daily basis. Interestingly, given the above, and if you discount the occupation, Israel is also a vibrant democracy, with a large range of political opinion right across the spectrum, and posesses a dynamic economy (helped of course by US and EU largesse).

How might such a state evolve into something less abnormal? Option 1 - the US finally recognises that Israel is a srategic liability, rather than an asset, and pulls the plug. Given the credible threat of a withdrawl of US economic, military, and diplomatic support, I believe Israel would agree to the evacuation of the west bank, and full implementation of a palestinian state pretty much immedietly. Likewise abandonment of the Golan could be required of Israel, in return for a full peace treaty with the Syrians. Lancing these cancers, would hugely assist in normalising relations with others of Israels neighbours, and put it on the path of normal, liberal democratic, modern state - at peace with its neighbours, the wider world, and itself. Option 2: Sanctions are applied to Israel - the model being South Africa. I believe such a development may reap dividends in the long term, but as long as the US is still prepared to fully underwrite the Israeli state, no real improvement in a reasonable timeframe, can be expected from this sort of pressure. Having said that, I would support such a program in the absence of any other alternative, since eventually (as in South Africa), it must bring home to the Govt and people of Israel, just how much opposition there is outside the country, to its policies.

The other event that could bring a complete turnaround in the attitude of Israel re militarism, occupation, and aggression, could be a military defeat for the IDF. Contrary to others postings, i have not said i 'wish' for a 'catastrophic' deafeat for Israel. I have speculated that such an event may be the only way that Israel can recognise the disaster that is militarism, and reform itself into a normal society. The example I gave was Japan and Germany in 1945 - though again I stress that I am not, as other postings have said, comparing Israel to Nazi Germany - merely using them as an example to illustrate the possibility of militarised warlike states becoming something better.

By catastrophic defeat, i do not mean the destruction of Israel - that would be utterly unacceptable. The wider world would not allow it, the US would not tolerate it, and I dont think any combination of Israel's enemies could achieve it - even assuming they wanted to. I mean, a military defeat considerably worse than that inflicted by Hezbollah in 2006, but not something strategically terminal. Perhaps something similar to the defeat suffered by Egypt in 1967, but not involving penetration of the 1967 border, and likely use of Israel's nuclear weapons.

COMMENTS

Yvetta

Thu, 06/10/2010 - 19:27

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Do you really think that Israel likes being so highly militarised, almost crippling its economy with such heavy defence spending,Steve? Note that word: defence. It would love to turn its swords into ploughshares. Trouble is, the intransigent hostility of enemies resistant to recognising its right to exist won't let it.


steveabbott

Thu, 06/10/2010 - 21:00

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yvetta.

the Olso peace process started in 1993. The idea was that the palestinians would recognise Israels right to exist and agree to peace, and in return get a state approximately consisting of the west bank and gaza along the 1967 boundary. For its part, Israel would have to agree to vacate the palestinian territories, and allow the creation of a viable, contigous (horrible word), sovereign state of palestine. Over the following 10 years illegal settlements on that territory doubled. Was that a sign of Israel wanting to beat swords into ploughshares?

On the matter of defence - the last occasion where Israel unambigously acted in self defence was 1973 yvetta! Nearly 40 years ago. Since then, whatever its reasons, it has mounted 2 invasions of Lebanon, with a lengthy occupation of part of the country in-between, has surpressed the 1st stone throwing intifada with bullets, the 2nd with massive and disproportionate military force, carried out an horrific massacare in Lebanon in 2008/9 (Livni said - we went crazy in Gaza!), etc, etc.... Can you really use the word 'defence' to describe all that? During that same period, no country attacked Israel (apart from saddam & a couple of scuds), and its borders were not violated on an organised basis - only by isolated individuals (terrorists or resistance fighters - depending on where you are sitting).

I dont think Israel likes being so militarised. I am perfectly sure, of course, that if it could maintain the status quo with 1/2 the current military budget, it would be delighted. The problem is that the status quo is a monstrous and brutal injustice - acceptable to no-one outside Israel (and the congress of the US) - certainly not acceptable to the palestinians, the wider arab world, or the vast majority of countries at the UN.

Do you ever think that perhaps the reason Israel's 'enemies' are so hostile to it, is because it simply wont make peace? Actions not words are required.


amber

Thu, 06/10/2010 - 22:47

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Whe answer - when the Arab and Islamic worlds give up on the idea of genocide.

Next!


steveabbott

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 00:16

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amber. can you deal with the points i have raised?


amber

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 00:36

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You raised some points?


steveabbott

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 00:42

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yes amber. quite detailed points. and a few questions - they are the sentences with question marks at the end. Can you asnwer them?


amber

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 17:23

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abbot, Syria's armed forces alone are larger than Israel's. Now add Saudi Arabia's, Iran's, Jordan's Egypt's, Libya's, and the threats from Hizbollah and Hamas and you get an inkling why Israel needs a good army. Every time in history the Jews have had no army, they have been slaughtered. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the Jews aren't simply going to lie down and die in order to please you.


steveabbott

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 19:01

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amber. Syria's army was crap in 67, and no better now. it is useful only for internal control. syria's airforce - crap also. Jordan and Egypt have peace treaties with Israel (though of course if things keep deteriorating in that region, that could change), Saudi and Libya - dont make me laugh! Iran - a formidable foe, but not one that place a land force on Israel's border. I'd say Hezbollah and soon Hamas will be the IDF's biggest headache. But - lets be honest - they exist to defend against Israeli aggression, not take the war into Israel. Of course Israel needs a good army - nobody disputes that. It's the uses to which it is put that are the issue. And keeping it holding down the west bank is not good for its long term morale.

The jewish state needs the finest armed forces it can afford - I agree; certainly until the entire region undergoes some sort of disarmament process. I also agree that jews have historically been treated with brutal inhumanity in the past (the holocaust, earlier pogroms all over eastern Europe - and thats just the 20th century). I am minded to recall the warsaw ghetto uprising, and by god I wish those brave souls resisting the vile Nazi state had had better weapons to fight with, or a proper army to protect them. Your concerns are understood by all fair minded observors.


amber

Fri, 06/11/2010 - 23:12

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Ill informed garbage. Syria's airforce crap? Really? the latest Migs and Sukhoi's? S-3oo SAM's? Three times as many men in uniform? Saudi operates the most sophisticated weaponry in the Arab world, and has sent forces to fight Israel in the past. That really doesn't make me laugh, and neither should it you. But worst of all, Iran's race towards weaponizing its ballistic missiles with nukes means that Israel must retain its military deterrence.

You claim that Hamas and Hizbollah merely "resist Israeli aggression" is offensive antisemitic tripe. Both organizations are neo Nazi Jew haters, who wish to exterminate the Jewish people and Islamize the planet. It says a lot about you that you would rather attack Israel than them.

For shame.


steveabbott

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 01:00

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if syria#s armed forces are so powerful, why dont they take back the golan? if Saudi forces are so high tech, why did they need the Us to protect the oilfields in the first gulf war? You are seeing demons where there are none. Iran is years from weaponised nukes - and in any case is going for the bomb cos Israel already has it - and has had it for 40 years. its called an arms race amber and Israel is miles in the lead.

When have Hezbollah and Hamas invaded Israel amber? did israel invade lebanon in 2006, and Gaza in 2008/9? both organisations are in effect Israel#s creations. There was no hezbollah in 1982 was there? there was amal who mutated into the latter following israel's 1982 invasion of lebanon. Hamas was the inevitable response to the ineffectiveness of the PLO in confronting israeli occupation. wake up to cause and effect for goodness sake!


amber

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 18:54

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abbot, you answer your own question without even realising it. If Israel's army was downgraded and reduced, Syria would indeed try to take the Golan - then the rest of Israel (as it attempted in 1973). Iran would be further emboldened, as would Hamas and Hizbollah (who you disgustingly call Israel's creations - akin to saying the Nazis were also the Jews' creations). War would be MORE likely, not less - and the Jews would be slaughtered - or is that what you want?

If the Jews had had a strong army in the 30's, what followed would not have happened. Never again will the Jews be defenceless, relying on help from others which never arrives. You don't like it? Tough!


amber

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 18:55

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Cause and effect - the ARABS WISH TO DESTROY ISRAEL AND EXTERMINATE HER JEWISH INHABITANTS - CAUSE. ISRAEL HAS A STRONG ARMY. EFFECT.


steveabbott

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 20:22

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amber. i am not arguing for israel to weaken herself militarily to the point where unpleasant surrounding regimes sense a military opportunity. i am arguing for israel to stop invading and terrorising its neighbors. the cause and effect i refer to is that Israeli behaviour encourages Arab radicalism, and resistance. the two examples i gave to illustrate that cause and effect, were 1: Hamas eveolving and mutating from Fatah - an effect following on from the cause, which was the failure of Israel, during the Oslo peace proces, to offer anything the palestinians could reasonably accept - whilst at the same time doubling settlements.

And 2: Hezbollah evolving and mutating from the shia militia Amal, as an effect, following the cause, which was the 1982 invasion and occupation of Lebanon. Of course these entities are Israel's creation. Without those Israeli positions having been taken in the 80's and 90's, neither organisations would exist. surely you can see that?

How can that be the same as the Nazi's being the creation of the jews? That would be a demented opinion to hold. The jews were victims of Nazism - they played no part in creating it, or creating the conditions for it. God - who do you think i am - Julius Streicher!!


amber

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 23:44

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Just as the Jews of Israel are victims of Hamas and Hizbollah, two organizations which hold the Nazis in high regard - and two organizations which are racist and antisemitic.

Israel invades territory from which it is attacked, not to conquer (it withdrew again from Lebanon in 06 and Gaza in 09). Israel will stop defending itself when the Arabs stop attacking it.

Why is that so difficult for you to grasp?


steveabbott

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 20:16

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amber. Israel invaded Leb in 1982, did not leave till 2000, and would not have left then if Hez had not booted them out.

read a fantastic leader in the economist today. agree with everything it said. very positive actually. have you read it? is the economist and anti-semitic organ?


steveabbott

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 22:12

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of course - israel is trapped in a vicious circle (much but not all of its own making). as the leading player in this dismal drama, it must make the first move. evacuate the west bank, lift the gaza blockade, negotiate an independant state of palestine outside the 67 borders (with a few adjustments). neutralise the cancer of occupation that is poisoning the israeli body politic. what follows will amaze israel and amaze the world. in 50 years israel could be the hub of a dynamic, democratic, vibrant middle east. is that not something to fight for?


amber

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 22:28

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abbot, all ahistoric nonsense. Every concession Israel has made has been met with incrteased violence, not less. The Gaza pullout has been a disaster, as you well know. As has giving territory to the terrorist Fatah. On what evidence do you base your assertion that more of the same will miraculously lead to peace? It flies in the face of all the evidence. And the '82 invasion was due to attacks on Israel from the PLO, both from within Lebanon and around the world (where exclusively Jewish targets, not Israeli, were sought by the PLO). The PLO had free reign, operating training camps with mock up civil airctaft for hijack and terrorism training. Tell me, if Israel's invasion in 82 was wrong, do you think taking out the Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan is wrong as well?

Haven't read the Economist, but like most of the MSM, it usually takes an anti Jewish view.

Peace will come when the Arab and wider Islamic worlds give up on the idea of annihilating Israel and the Jews. we are very far from that happening.


steveabbott

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 22:42

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amber. you mean that peace will come when the palestinians give up on justice, and accept the occupation of their lands as permanent.

concessions you say - so during the olso process, the doubling of settlements during 10 years, was a concession was it?

so israel 'left' gaza - but maintained a blockade.

i am starting to give up on you amber. open your mind. you do not have to forgive and forget, but you must have the imagination to move to a better future. what evidence do i have that that future is obtainable? evidence is not issue - the issue is vision, hope, and pragmatism. i believe in the possibility of peace and prosperity for the middle east (inc israel which would be at its centre). you seem to believe in nothing but more of the same - a desperate, hopeless, and very very dark future.


jose (not verified)

Fri, 06/25/2010 - 03:13

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steveabbott: the issue is vision, hope, and pragmatism

If your hope is that returning to a situation that existed before 67 will bring peace in the area, then you are as mistaken as one can be. 'Indefensible' frontiers will bring more agressions from the neighbouring countries and more deaths in Israel.
I guess Israel prefers your criticism to your condolences, so forget your 'pacifist' hopes that brought only deaths and wars, at every people's expenses.
The first unconditional step required is that ALL STATES recognize Israel's right to exist. And it must be UNCONDITIONAL and GENERAL (not just the Fatah faction). Then sit at a negociation table and start defining less important matters like frontiers.

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