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Old April 12th, 2002, 03:31 PM
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How Do Wars Cease?

The actual misery of killing ends in a variety of ways, but the longest periods of peace usually follow from decisive victories which prove aggression to be suicidal. The German army in 1918 surrendered in France, not Germany and was back on French soil in 22 years. The German army in 1945 was ruined at home and has been nowhere else in 57 years.

No wonder we often hear not of "war" but of plural "wars" the Persian Wars, the Peloponnesian Wars, the Punic Wars, the Roman and English Civil Wars in which armed conflicts are punctuated by shaky armistices until the ultimate victory of one of the two combatants. What ends particular wars for good is the defeat and exhaustion and humiliation of one side, often followed by a change of government or attitude among the defeated. After Plataea (479) no Persian king ever again thought his troops could defeat Greeks in pitched battle or tried. There was a Roman Carthage in North Africa, but after 146 B.C. not a Punic one and so lasting peace on both sides of the Mediterranean. Once a series of elected governments in the United States decided it was not worth the loss of lives and treasure in Vietnam, we ceased to fight and win, and so the war tragically was lost and will probably not be renewed.

The Middle East will have peace when the Arabs either destroy the state of Israel, or learn that the costs of their failed attempts are so dreadful that no Arab leader will again dare try. Again, we should remember that the latest round of fighting followed not from Israeli aggression, but from the rushed and failed Israeli peace initiatives prompted by President Clinton coupled with the earlier unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon all of which suggested to Mr. Arafat a new weakening in, rather than the old preponderance of, Israeli strength. In that regard, our prior demand that Israel not reply to dozens of Iraqi Scuds probably did far more damage than good: in establishing the precedent that either Israel could not answer the bombing of its cities, or the United States would not let them.

Pundits shout on television that there is no hope in sight in the Middle East. In fact, we have come a long way from the last war of 1973. No Arab government will ever again invade Israel with conventional weapons unless there is such a change in the Israel defenses that they believe they can defeat the Jewish state. Instead, there is a growing realization in Syria, Jordan, and Egypt that attacking Israel means the death and destruction of far more Arabs than Jews especially when there is no longer a patron Soviet Union around for them to threaten and barter for what they cannot themselves obtain on the battlefield.

Even during this most disheartening current crisis, few Palestinian leaders believe they can any longer rally the Arab world en masse to invade Israel. And as they begin to realize that the continuance of suicide bombing results not in returned land, but in the systematic destruction of the homes and offices of the Palestinian elite, they seem more, not less, anxious to seek the intervention of the United States. The bellicose rhetoric of the Palestinian autocracy grew much more muted and their calls for peace, conciliation, international peacekeepers, and outside intervention more frequent once Israelis stopped talking of reprisals against murderers and simply took them.

Military force has a great power of clarity. With the Israeli reply, the world has seen at last that terrorists with explosives strapped to their bodies prefer to blow up small children rather than roll under tanks. There are plenty of militarily significant targets now for the Palestinians "soldiers," but apparently none that offer the specter of terror, publicity, fame and money to be found in blowing up civilians at Passover dinners.

Instead of seeing soldiers, we witness bombers who dismember women and children on holy days; outlaws who shoot and then run for sanctuary into sacred Christian shrines; poor suspects who are summarily executed without trial on suspicion of helping the Israelis. So far, Palestinians have executed more of their own bound and unarmed civilians than they have killed Israeli soldiers in combat. "General" Arafat now nearly has the "war" he threatened and the chance for "martyrdom" he promised. The bombers have the enemy targets they desire right in their backyards. The Arab world is "united" in its furor and can easily join in to attack Israel.

War, in other words, destroys pretense.

As we have seen in the current crisis, those who are the most educated, the most removed from the often humiliating rat race of daily life (what Hobbes called the bellum omnium contra omnes), and the most inexperienced with thugs and bullies, are the likeliest to advocate utopian solutions and to ridicule those who would remind them of the tragic nature of mankind and the timeless nature of war. Ironically, they are also the most likely to get others less fortunate than themselves killed as we saw in World War II, and most recently during the last decade in Iraq, Serbia, and in our ongoing experience with the Middle Eastern terrorists. McClellans not Shermans; Chamberlains not Churchills; and Clintons not Reagans, usually pose as the more sensible, compassionate, and circumspect leaders; but in fact, even as they smile and pump the flesh, they prove far, far more dangerous to all involved.

The pacifists and utopians who believe war never solved anything should recall the words of the firebrand, slave-owning, and utterly lethal Nathan Bedford Forrest upon learning that many of his fellow Confederates were promising years of guerrilla warfare after 1865. "Men, you may all do as you please, but I'm a-going home. Any man who is in favor of a further prosecution of this war is a fit subject for a lunatic asylum, and ought to be sent there immediately."

Mr. Forrest was a brave man and formidable fighter indeed, he had personally killed 29 Union soldiers in battle and had 30 horses shot from under him. But what made him give up the fight was neither Abolitionist rhetoric nor a sudden change of heart, but the likes of William Tecumseh Sherman who tore through Georgia and the Carolinas and the thousands of Union cavalrymen that overran Forrest's beloved Tennessee.

And, remember, Mr. Arafat is no Nathan Bedford Forrest.
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Old April 12th, 2002, 03:44 PM
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wars cease when pakistan surrenders
hum bolega to bologe ke bolta hai
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