June 10, 2010
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.