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Sounds good but why not kill them with kindness?

Reader comment on item: Israel Has a War to Win

Submitted by Chris Holte (United States), Jul 24, 2006 at 20:16

  • Do not engage in exchanges with terrorist groups, such as the 2004 trade of one rogue Israeli civilian and the remains of three soldiers for 429 living terrorists and criminals. This returns terrorists to the field while encouraging further abductions.

I'm not sure that blanket prohibitions against negotiations work either. I think a better broad principle here is not to not engage with terrorists, but not to be stupid about it. There is always more than one way to skin a cat Mr. Pipes. James Heller has some very smart ideas about how to deal with these people, that might be pretty darn successful if Israel employed them. These are the ideas of David Galula, who literally wrote the book on the subject: "Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/23/AR2006072300579.html

He's writing about Guantanamo, but the same principle would work admirably (and a bit diabolically) with Hezbollah as well. Let 'em go!

He writes:

"Demoralization of the enemy's forces is an important task. The most effective way to achieve it is by employing a policy of leniency toward prisoners. They must be well treated and offered the choice of joining the movement or of being set free, even if this means that they will return to the counterinsurgent's side. Despite its setbacks in the early stages, this is the policy that pays the most in the long run."

"Galula lived through this firsthand after he was captured in 1947 by Mao Zedong's forces in the Chinese civil war. Rather than being dealt with as a prisoner, he was treated as an "honored guest," as were all Chinese Nationalist soldiers in the camp. They were given two weeks of food and indoctrination, and upon completion of their stay, they had the option to return to their units."

"As it turned out, many of the prisoners had been in the camps before -- the knowledge that they would be treated well had led them to view surrender as an acceptable option. Eventually they were viewed with suspicion by their own army, and the Nationalists were forced to set up prisoner of war camps for their own people."

"Mao had perfected this technique while fighting the Japanese in World War II; many of the postwar leaders of the Japanese Communist Party were "graduates" of these camps. Mao succeeded in changing the minds of kamikazes -- something for us to think about."

But his best recommendation is:

"Finally, I would make sure that everyone knew that many of the detainees were very cooperative, and I would leave it to al-Qaeda to figure out who was. I would also leak that we had a "classified" ability to track these people no matter where they went. Let the combination of paranoia, fundamentalism and al-Qaeda do its fratricidal work."

And he concludes:

"Let us move away from the bullets, bombs and prisons that have so alienated those we are trying to convert, and instead move into the minds of our opponents. If this truly is jihad, then let us sow the seeds of dissension, and let al-Qaeda engage in an "internal struggle" to its own bitter end.'

I know he is right, so why not try this approach. It kills two birds with one stone. It allows Israel to act on its just warfare principles -- and it returns Israel to the sort of moral high-ground that may just turn people's heads towards genuine peace. Folks like Castro and Nasrullah would be already gone by now if they didn't have an "enemy" (Us) to keep the people from focusing on their kleptocratic and autocratic ways.

  • Do not allow Hezbollah to acquire thousands of Katyusha rockets from Iran and station them in southern Lebanon. The estimated current arsenal of nearly 12,000 Katyushas not only threatens all of northern Israel, as recent days have proved, it provides Iran with a strategic threat with implications for the entire region.

Who can argue with that principle. But how to stop them? I leave that analysis to you. I have no idea other than convincing the rest of the world to deal with the situation honestly -- and that requires doing a better job playing the information game so that the "propaganda-meisters" can be beaten at their own game; with the truth. Let the prophesy be fulfilled "And the Truth will be taught out of Jerusalem." The world promised to police the borders with Israel and then to turn that policing over to Lebanon. Hezbollah became a Lebanese Party doling out charity to the poor. Israel bombs Hezbollah, Israel looks like it is bombing the poor Shiah. Who wins here? Hezbollah. Haven't we learned that without the cooperation of affected governments we can't stop anything? That principle is true whether one is talking about Mexico, Iraq, or Lebanon.

  • Do not permit arms to reach the terrorist Fatah organization, as recently happened, according to the Jerusalem Post, when an estimated 3,000 American rifles and a million rounds of ammunition were delivered to it out of a misguided ambition to help one Palestinian faction beat out another.

There you have a learned principle. The previously operative principle was "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Sometimes that work -- however if the alliance is temporary so will be the results.

  • Do not turn the West Bank over to Hamas terrorists. This endangers U.S. interests in several ways, notably because it would threaten Hashemite rule in Jordan.

Nice idea, but every-day of radicalization increases the odds that whatever happens Hamas is going to dominate the outcome -- unless we can figure out how to pull their teeth out in Gaza -- and get them to drop the threat of extermination and come to the bargaining table.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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