Friday, July 11, 2014
Opening Pandora's Box in the Middle East
I've been thinking a lot lately about World War I, it being the hundredth anniversary and all. One thing that has been on my mind is the introduction of the routine use of poison gas by the Germans. Until that happened, the use of gas in warfare was considered an abomination, and most use of gas is still considered a war crime. But the Germans opened a Pandora's box that apparently can never be closed again; just as with torture, there is always a Dick Cheney waiting in the wings who is willing to stoop to anything, no matter how degraded, to get what he wants.
In a way, this is the most lasting damage that the Germans did in World War II: licensing a previously unacceptable form of behavior, and thereby permanently degrading all of civilization.
We are now very likely witnessing something similar happening. We are all familiar with the horrific damage that accidents at nuclear power plants like Fukushima or Chernobyl can potentially cause. Yes, I suppose some small terrorist groups would have been willing to engage in this type of savage warfare, but this is the first time that a national government, recognized by the world as legitimate, has stooped to attempting to wage war by creating a colossal disaster that could indiscriminately kill millions, not just of their enemies, but of their supposed allies, and even, if climatic conditions were right, their own people.
Like the Germans' use of gas, I doubt that this can ever be undone; it is not just another unacceptable means of making war, it is a giant step back from civilization to a world of savagery, all precipitated by a tiny government in a tiny country, which would rather destroy someone else than help their own people.
And what can Israel do in return? They know that any appropriate response to this abomination (i.e. crushing the people who would stoop to this sort of behavior) will have two thirds of the world's governments mindlessly attacking them, taking refuge in the fact that Hamas' missiles missed the Dimona reactor- this time. Of course, once the Palestinians are eventually given weapons that allow them to accomplish what they tried to do this week, it will be too late, for Israel and for the rest of the world, which will now be forced to live with a new level of barbarism, all so an intransigent, revanchist government can do their damage.