There are political questions I find to be sources of endless fascination, such as the intersection between politics and economics, or political economy, particularly the propensity of all parties to such controversies to elevate their contingent bargaining positions to ideological orthodoxies, from which one dissents on pain of being declared a Market Fundamentalist, or, on the other hand, a Socialist. Yes, it is tedious, but also entertaining, because questions of wealth and power are at stake.
There are other political questions with kindle in my breast a powerful sense of ennui, a sort of boredom with the subject, and irritation that someone has broached it, and a prickly sensation which indicates that, aggravating though it may be, it may be unavoidable. Health-care policy is one such question for me.
There are still other political questions/perspectives which fill me with a mixture of detestation and fury, such as the morbid obsession of European elites and vast swathes of the European populace with grand demonstrations of resolve against the dread, invisible menace of resurgent fascism, now thought to manifest itself in the form of protest movements against Islamization, or the presence of bookends in the libraries of Vlaams Blok members. If some Europeans have given rein to the death drive, one can do no more than point to this melancholy fact and pray, for theirs is not a rational position in the first instance.
Then, there are other political questions which arouse a powerful sense of hathos, a hatred of the discourse that surrounds them, irrespective of whatever position one might hold concerning them, coupled with a paradoxical attraction to that same discourse. Two questions arouse this sensibility in me. The first is the intermittent and intemperate debate over whether Steve Sailer and other evolutionary conservatives are "evolcons" or "evilcons". For the record, while I am not one to favour reductionism, to the extent that evolcons practice it, the latter judgment strikes me as histrionic. The second is the Israel/Palestine question.
I might be tempted to state that I detest the discourse surrounding the dispute because it is one in which, like the preposterous expectation in some circles that one must declare one's acceptance of/sympathy with the designated victim group du jour before venturing a tentative, mewling criticism of that group, one must preface even excruciatingly nuanced criticisms of specific Israeli policies with lengthy condemnations of the Palestinians - and, of course, Hamas is a wicked and pernicious organization, and Fatah is, if at all better, only marginally less bad than Hamas, and every Palestinian "tactic" beyond the throwing of stones has been an injustice, because targeted at civilians - but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. In fact, it would understate the problem with the "conversation", such as it is, over Israel/Palestine, which is that it is all too often the kryptonite for rational discourse. Mention that one regards Israeli policy X as suspect under the conditions of just war doctrine, and one is immediately confronted with the question, "Well, what would you have them do in response to Hamas/Hizbollah/Fatah/PLO action Y?", the implication being that if one does not have a ready and militarily robust answer to that emotive inquiry, one might as well openly avow one's desire to witness the destruction of the state of Israel. Which, of course, is absolute codswallop. One is, to all appearances, forbidden to believe that there obtain no achievable solutions, or at least that there are no solutions that would at once satisfy the requirements of Israeli domestic politics, Arab politics, and the requirements of justice. One must believe, somehow, that the circle can be squared. One is forbidden to plead either ignorance or apophaticism - ie., that whatever the solution may be, if there is one, it isn't X.
And so, in the spirit of loathing for this question, and acknowledging without hesitation that the Palestinians are "governed" by reprobates, I want to inquire, without any ulterior motivations, whether the Israeli policy conforms to just war doctrine.
Is the threat posed by Hamas, launching crude rockets as terror weapons, and largely blockaded in its Gaza redoubt, lasting, grave, and certain? I could go either way in answering this question.
Have all other means of resolving the problem been demonstrated to be impractical and ineffective, such that blockades, bombardments, and ground assaults are truly a last recourse? Going solely by the level of ongoing controversy in the Israeli press, where policies towards the Palestinians are subjected to critiques more diverse and extensive than the run of things in America, I'd say not.
Does the Israeli incursion possess, as the 2006 war in Lebanon did not, reasonable prospects of success, defined as either the ouster of the Hamas regime or the inculcation of a "lesson" that somehow persuades the Palestinians to renounce what Israel wishes for them to renounce, which is much more than the use of rocketry as a terror weapon, and more even than the renunciation of suicide bombing? Score this one a "No", inasmuch as the Palestinians are likely, as are all peoples when subjected to conditions of blockade and warfare, to either rally round Hamas or rally round an organization that might arise to displace the increasingly ineffectual Hamas (it should be noted that Hamas' popularity was waning prior to the recent flare-up in hostilities, and that, as these things go in Palestine, the marginalization of one faction always results in the emergence of a more radical, more rejectionist organization: Marginalizing the PLO/Fatah allowed Hamas and Islamic Jihad to rise.) This is elementary national psychology.
Is the Israeli policy proportionate - proportionate in actuality, and not as a matter of mere mental intentions, which count for nothing? Must I link to Marty Peretz and Michael Goldfarb celebrating the absence of proportion in the Israeli response? Are we going to form judgments as to the proportionality of a given response solely on the basis of what the actors themselves think of their actions, on the basis of their subjective mental states as inferred from their words?
In fine, I do not believe that a consideration of the present conflict in Gaza from the standpoint of just war doctrine yields a clean bill of health for Israel. The Palestinians, as always, flunk that test from the first criterion onwards; but I should think that "less unjust" is an insufficient basis for the affirmation of the Israeli policy. And while I fervently believe that the Palestinians ought to attempt - not that it will ever transpire - nonviolent resistance, what I would like to know is what supporters of the Israeli policy would have them do if they did attempt nonviolent resistance, and nothing happened - if everything remained the same. The question has salience insofar as the attempt to comprehend the mindset of a party to a dispute or conflict, from the inside, as it were, is an integral aspect of foreign policy formulation.
Note: Abusive comments will, at my discretion, be either deleted or edited for content.