When the Soviet Union lost the Cold War and the Berlin Wall came down, it was a momentous time. We expected peace in our time. Without two superpowers deterred by mutually assured destruction (MAD) the threat of a nuclear holocaust became distant.
The United States was the sole modern army and no army could dare challenge us, but the first irony of modern war is that technological superiority begat a primitive counter offense that technology could not address. Instead of politics and power wars became about “blood and faith” to borrow from Ralph Peters’ book of that name. As Peters also noted, “suicide bombers trump microchips.” This we learned on 9/11.
Commitment without power will trump power without commitment. Americans are an impatient people and we want our wars quick and cheap; yet we fight an enemy committed to win without a timeline. We learned in Viet Nam that the one thing the North Vietnamese could control in spite of inferior firepower was the duration of the war. The second irony is that in order for a war not to last forever we must be committed as though it will. Our impatience is our Achilles heel; and our enemies know how to exploit it.
With on the ground technology our soldiers have become adept at minimizing civilian casualties. The third irony is that the concept of a humane war increases the duration of the conflict. Wars used to be fought to exhaustion, and that included the civilian population. Now we take out the combatants with relatively minimal civilian collateral damage, but the wars never end. Hamas and Palestinian radicals rise up from the very population that was spared by their humane opponents. Wars may now be measured in centuries.
The fourth irony is that broader media coverage may also increase the ferocity of battle. Facing media outcry, a warring force may need to sacrifice humanity for speed to avoid the backlash from the media. No military leader wants to see his victory on the battlefield undermined by a global media that values headlines more than understanding. Yet short term ferocity may be the more humane strategy.
While the UN seemed unmoved by the 9,700 rockets launched intentionally by Hamas at Israeli civilians, they can not condemn Israel quickly enough for finally responding after three years. The UN never seemed to mind that Hamas violated almost every code of the Geneva Convention by intentionally placing their civilians in harm’s way, by intentionally targeting civilians, or by training children to become suicide bombers.
There is only one Jewish state surrounded by 22 Muslim states, yet it is Israel that is charged with using disproportionate force. Terrorist sycophants like Jimmy Carter seem to find no terrorist act that is unforgivable or unjustifiable and no Israeli response that is not disproportionate.
It is ironic that the Jews, a learned people, can be so victorious on the field of battle and do so badly in the field of public opinion. There is a reason they have to have victory quickly; the world will not tolerate a sustained Israeli offensive even if it is to remove an existential threat.
Israel is an open society, with equal rights for women, religious tolerance, a free press and even tolerance for gays. Israel is an educated society with more museums per capita than any country and is second only to the United States in patents.
Their enemy is misogynous, brutal to their own as well as the Jewish devils and intolerant of basic human rights. Yet our most misguided liberals at our universities and the streets and press of Europe protest too often, siding with the very people who would be most intolerant of their rights and views.
This final irony is one of the most difficult to understand but it is one of the oldest and most persistent, especially in Europe.