January 24, 2009

Murder therapy

Did your shrink ever tell you that killing a lot of people might really solve your self esteem problem?
For the IDF, the Gaza operation was a corrective experience in the wake of the failure and humiliation it sustained during the Second Lebanon War. The conditions of the confrontation facilitated the army's task: Not only did Hamas turn out to be a weaker foe than Hezbollah, but the performance of the Israeli officers improved, from Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to GOC Southern Command Yoav Gallant, from the brigade commanders, who raced ahead, to the logistics personnel. But we should also remember the situation in which the IDF's top brass found itself (in part, of course, due to its own fault) at the outbreak of the previous war.
This time, the Israel Air Force's role was completely different. The political echelon authorized Ashkenazi to do what his predecessor, Dan Halutz, was not permitted to do in Lebanon: to launch a widespread attack on governmental targets as a means to pressure the enemy. (Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz)
This is all in good form. WW-II was supposed to erase Germany's shame of losing WW-I. Iraq was supposed to redeem the shame of Vietnam. The Falkland war was going to erase the fiasco of Suez. And the ethnic cleansing of Palestine was supposed to mend Captain Dreifuss's broken sword. Murder therapy is a common prescription for low self-esteem. Too bad the guys at Columbine couldn't just grow up and become national leaders.

Or perhaps this explanation is too new-agey. Well, here's another one, from the same article:
A series of conversations with officers this week reinforces the conclusion formed at the outset of the ground operation: The General Staff identified the public's intolerance for soldiers' deaths as an Achilles heel. The IDF used tremendous firepower, knowing this would claim the lives of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, to reduce its own casualties and forestall a situation in which the war would be brought to an end prematurely.
In other words, the IDF "had" to commit massive war crimes because otherwise the Israeli public would not allow it to fight at all. Having promised just that, the state of Israel must guarantee absolute Jewish supremacy to its dominant public. Anything less, any evidence of less than omnipotence, any evidence that the Jewish-Arab relation is not just unequal, but 100% unequal, with Jews addressing Palestinians the way Olympian Gods addressed mortals, and the public clamors for the politicians' head. A Herrenvolk Democracy.

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