What is state failure? See my conceptualisation of state failure on the right flank below.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Critical mass - The Gaza experience

In an excellent essay over at his blog, Stealth Conflicts, Virgil Hawkins addresses the issue of why the Gaza/Southern Israel conflict became the "chosen conflict" it is, one getting a huge amount of media attention, even while in terms of human suffering or casualties it ranks below other, more lethal and destructive conflicts, some of which are ongoing as we blog.
Of course, the relative toll matters, too, the percentage of the population in an area getting hurt, as well as the time frame - in under what time have so many people been injured or killed? But still this is an interesting question to ask, and I, for my part, always had my suspicions in Europe's case regarding why it's Israel that gets this much attention around here.
Anyway, there is a significant mass of people willing to pressure Israel in ways they can to abandon the full achievement of its objectives with the current military campaign, and they mostly refer to the human suffering inflicted on civilians/noncombatants/innocents (whichever term is more fitting in a given, unnecessary victim's case) as the ultimate reason to do so. Meanwhile, Israel is looking to inflict a critical amount of suffering on the networks that maintain the missile strike campaign against it. This presentation, given at a conference by Isaac Ben-Israel, a former head of the Research & Development Department at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, gives a clue regarding how they wish to bring this about, and based on what premises.
Clarification. No, this blog hasn't suddenly begun to pay attention to the Israeli/Palestinian issue. And I won't bring it up even as an analogy that frequently. There would always be people who would look for my moral stance on the issue, no matter how purely my effort would be about investigating relationships between variables and nothing else.
This is an exception in that here I would use the Gaza case as an analogy. The reason why I'm suggesting you should read the text linked to above is because it allows you to reflect on a particular scenario often considered as the going is getting tough in Afghanistan.
Some are suggesting that there's no reason to keep soldiers there in Afghanistan. The place, they say, is just not important enough somehow. If terrorists set up shop there, they argue, they could be taken care of from the air, with drone strikes and the like.
Dealing only with the latter part of the argument, the one about our aerial capabilities, Gaza is the answer those people should consider. Israel, a country with good intelligence capabilities and a decent fleet of assets in the Palestinian territories, is having a hard time inflicting said critical amount of pain on Hamas and others. How exactly would a bombing of Taliban-held Kandahar be handled? Would there be less civilian casualties? How good intelligence would one have there, on the ground, once all current allies are left behind?

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