Monday, 19 November 2012

Surgical strikes in Gazza

William Tecumseh Sherman said 'war is hell'. The US general is credited with having invented the concept of total war - war taken to the heart of an enemy's civilian population. This is nonsense of course. I immediately think of the Romans waging bio-warfare against Cathage - having levelled the city they then plowed salt into the fields so no crops would grew and the population would starve.  

Of course, the fact that it has always been so doesn't make it any more palatable. But  I find it particularly nauseating when I hear suggestions that there is some sort of other warfare perpetrated by those who can take a high-ground - that their sort of warfare is intrinsically different and more ethical. 

It's a suggestion that is a luxury only to 'top nations' equipped with a sense of moral superiority and better technology. In the nineteenth century the British empire spread civilization with the Maxim gun, and in the twentieth the US imposed American values of democracy with napalm.  And now  Israel talks of 'surgical strikes' with drone missiles against Gazza that will eliminate only the bad guys. 

Like many others I am witnessing the attacks in Gazza in horror - and I have no ready solutions. 

But instinctively I reject the sanctimony of Israeli army spokesmen who talk about the special nature of the IDF and their unique mission to protect civilian life and values of decency. It's the pious hypocrisy that only the bully and  imperialist can afford.

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