No such thing as "peace through strength"
August 14, 2006
Dear Editor:Having just participated at an Institute symposium on terrorism it seems fair to say that Israel has learned very little in the last 40 years about how to deal with terrorism. The standard response to any criticism about Israeli actions is to insist that it is fighting for its survival. That is simply not credible. Israel’s survival, as the No. 1 nuclear-powered fighting machine in the Middle East and backed up by the most powerful nation in the world, is assured.. It can never be pushed into the ocean, regardless of the rhetoric of its enemies.Israel does have enemies, energized by the Palestinian conflict. However, killing all its real or perceived enemies may well involve over a billion people and that is a tall order for any army. Moreover, there is agreement by both sides of the issue that killing a terrorist just creates his/her more sophisticated replacement.Walling off the West Bank and creating an open air prison in Gaza is reasonably effective but does not solve the long-range problem.In 1996 a group of American intellectuals proposed in a paper called “a clean break” that the policy of the previous Israeli labor governments of trading “land for peace” was fatally flawed. In this view Israel is indivisible and the true path is “peace through strength.” Its implementation requires destabilization of its neighbors including regime change in Iraq. The language is precise and unambiguous. These intellectuals returned to government in 2000 and were able to implement their vision.Comparing the relative security and peaceful co-existence after Oslo in 1992 with the calamitous events of the last eight years, the evidence of success of “peace through strength” is sparse. Unlike the American Indians in the 19th century, the Palestinian locals have , with aid from sympathizers, fiercely rejected their subjugation. So stop the name-calling. Rabin was not assassinated by an Islamofascist. It is time for moderates to become passionate.Stefan EdiisAspen