Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Making a Middle-Eastern Omelette

As the fighting in Gaza wears on, people are continuing to make a big deal out of the numbers of civilians being killed and injured.

Um, okay... But aren't ALL the Palestinians being killed and injured "civilians?" Last I looked, Hamas wasn't a recognized government, and it seems to be as about as legitimate a military force (in international legal terms) as the local Rotary Club. A civilian with a gun and a chip on his shoulder is still a civilian - we don't think of insurgents in Afghanistan, say, as being actual soldiers.

But in the end, the final tally of the dead and wounded is completely beside the point, along with concepts such as "proportionality." What's really at issue here are priorities. And both the Israeli military and Hamas have higher priorities than the body count among non-combatants in Gaza. Therefore, the final body count is secondary, at best. Why are we surprised by this? What else were we expecting? Everyone is making a ruckus about lowering the casualty count, but no-one, it seems, is offering a way for either side to get what they claim to be after in a way that doesn't leave the populace of Gaza at ground zero. And the backers of both sides are also okay with a mounting body count, or they would have withdrawn that backing by now.

And so the current fighting will continue for the same reason that fighting anywhere else continues - because one or both sides think that they're getting closer to their desired goal(s) (or keeping the other side from its goals) because of it.

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