19 July 2006


An article in Znet by Ilan Pappe has an intriguing premise:
Imagine a group of high ranking generals who simulated for years Third World War scenarios in which they can move huge armies around, employ the most sophisticated weapons in their disposal and enjoy the immunity of a computerized headquarters from which they can direct their war games. Now imagine that they are informed that in fact there is no Third World War and their expertise is needed to calm down some of the nearby slums or deal with soaring crime in deprived townships and impoverished neighborhoods. And then imagine - in the final episode in my chimerical crisis - what happens when they find out how irrelevant have their plans been and how useless are their weapons in the struggle against the street violence produced by social inequality, poverty and years of discrimination in their society. They can either admit failure or decide none the less to use the massive and destructive arsenal at their disposal. We are witnessing today the havoc wreaked by Israeli generals who opted for latter course of action.
And, given the impotence of the government before these generals, who knows how far they'll go? Damascus? Tehran?

This article bears comparison to the thesis of Gabriel Kolko's The Age of War, a book about American history. Kolko imagines high-tech weaponry to be a sort of intoxicant -- the more high-tech weaponry a nation's military possesses, the more likely it is to presume that political problems can be solved by bombing enemies into the Stone Age or through other such strategies of conventional warfare. Kolko's primary examples for this behavior are the US involvement in Vietnam, and the military actions the US fought afterward. Perhaps his thesis applies to the IDF, as well.


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