Thursday, June 29, 2006

If War Brings Peace, What Do Police Actions Bring?

In Halkin Declares War, But Will Israel?, I put in my 2 cents about Halkin's suggestion to call the conflict a real war and act accordingly:
It is a deceptively simple strategy, but it still boils down to whether Israel--and it's leadership--have the wherewithal to commit themselves to following through. Once she admits it is a war, Israel has to take those options Halkin suggests, and find others, to push towards some kind of real clear resolution. Israel may not lose such a war, but if the war goes on for too long, it will be a more visible defeat once Israel has redefined the decades-old conflict as a war. Conflicts have lulls, but for the overwhelmingly stronger side in a war it is weakness.
I thought about that when I read Israel Matzav's question about whether Israel was conducting a war or a police action, in response to the fact that while Palestinian terrorists murder an Israeli, Israel has gone into the West Bank, rounding up Hamas officials. He writes:
My problem is that this isn't supposed to be a police action. These people are murderers and they openly admit it. What are you going to do with them? Trade them in a prisoner exchange for Gilad Shalit's body? Return them as 'heroes' so the 'Palestinian people' can elect them again? This is exactly what the US got itself into when it 'arrested' Saddam Hussein. They 'arrested' a mass murdering terrorist, a genocidist. They had to give him a show trial. And now what? If he's not executed, he'll spend the rest of his life in jail at US expense. We didn't need a trial to tell us that Saddam was guilty - there were hundreds of witnesses. We don't need a trial to tell us that any of the Hamas murderers are guilty either. It's time to bring out the helicopters and prepare the car swarms.
I think part of the problem is that Israel cannot fight this as a standard conventional war. There are no 2 armies meeting out in the open in the battlefield. This is an army against terrorists. It just isn't the same and I don't know how Israel can go to war against terrorists and target them in the numbers necessary to bring some sense of stability to the area--especially when the US and Europe will surely not allow it.

But if all this operation does is culminate in a police action, then short of rescuing Shalit--what will it have accomplished?

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