Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Explain it to a 4-year-old."

Imagine you're 22. You're 6'2" and 185 pounds — and for some inexplicable reason, your 10-year-old brother is going through a violent phase where he feels compelled to punch you. You're too strong and too mature to trade blows with a scrawny 10-year-old, and you don't want to hurt the kid; but he needs to learn what's going to happen if he walks around hitting guys who are bigger than him, and better he should learn it from someone who loves him enough not to inflict real damage.

So you tell him to knock it off, and you give him a warning: "For every 3 times you hit me, I'm going to give you a smack on the head." He hits you once, and you ignore him. He hits you again, and you remind him. He hits you a third time, and you smack him — not hard enough to bruise, but hard enough to send him crying to Mommy.

This is Israel. (Maybe without the "love.") I've read a lot of criticism that Israel's attacks on Hezbollah haven't been proportional. It seems to me that if you ignore the first rocket attack, and you ignore the second rocket attack, your eventual response doesn't have to be proportional to the third rocket attack.

Then there's the other rebuttal, that a "proportional" response would occur if Israel began randomly launching rockets into Lebanese villages and marching suicide bombers into cafes in Palestine. It's not a particularly intelligent argument, but it amuses me in its simplicity.

But my favorite argument is about the Golan Heights. For 18 years, Syria used the Golan Heights to shell civilian targets inside Israel. In 1967, Israel captured the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War — and today, nearly everyone seems convinced that Israel must return control of the Heights. I don't claim to be an expert in Middle Eastern relations, but I know something about military strategy and no one has been able to explain this in a way that makes sense. The logic escapes me: You attack me from a strategic position; I defeat your attack and capture control of that position; and now you expect me to give it back?

"There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."


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