War is Heck

General William Tecumseh Sherman (seated, center) with staff

General William Tecumseh Sherman (seated, center) with staff

“War is cruelty. There’s no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

“If the people raise a great howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war, and not popularity seeking.”

“War is Hell.” — W. T. Sherman

News item:

During Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, maps used by commanders operating on the ground in Gaza highlighted some 1,800 buildings and various infrastructure sites that should not be attacked and next to which troops needed to operate with extra sensitivity.

The list included hospitals, United Nations facilities, schools, power grids, flour mills, food storage centers and various homes and office buildings.

Senior IDF officers have told The Jerusalem Post that new maps being drafted by the Gaza Division in the Southern Command ahead of a possible future operation in Gaza now include more than 3,000 sites that are off-limits to attacks. — Jerusalem Post

This new kind of war that Israel is forced to fight is unprecedented.

Remember that Israel supplies most of Gaza’s electricity and water. I once wrote a satirical piece about a lathe operator in Gaza calling the Israel Electric Company and complaining about interruptions to his power. How can I make rocket nozzles, he asked. And of course the Israeli apologized: sorry, we’re having a labor dispute and the union is applying sanctions.

Very Israeli, but in the history of warfare until very recently, completely insane.

Could you explain this to Eisenhower, to Churchill, to Ulysses S. Grant, to William T. Sherman? I don’t think so.

Now Amr Moussa of the Arab League is calling for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Gaza. Hamas launches hundreds of rockets, fires a high-tech laser-guided antitank weapon at a school bus, attempts to tunnel under the border in multiple locations, three-quarters of a million Israelis have to live in bomb shelters, and the Arabs expect international intervention to protect them?

If you want to protect some Arabs, go intervene in Syria, where security forces are shooting down demonstrators like plastic ducks in a carnival shooting gallery.

I really don’t get it. They get to make war, including the most vicious terrorism against civilians imaginable (Itamar), and we get to … fight them without hurting anybody.

The next war will be like the kind of game I played in the street as a boy: throw a ball at someone and run for one of the designated locations of sanctuary. Touch the fireplug and you are safe.

Blockades used to be legitimate weapons of war. Real ones, in which the enemy either surrendered or starved. Today even a partial blockade to prevent an enemy from receiving strategic materials is considered inhumane.

Turkey called Israel’s response to Hamas rockets ‘disproportionate’ because more Hamas operatives than Israeli civilians were killed. For their information, ‘proportionate force’ in the laws of war used to mean the minimum amount of force needed to achieve a military objective. Since the rockets continue to fall, then this proves that more, rather than less, force should have been used. But the old definition seems to be falling by the wayside, at least where Israel is concerned. Today, anytime an Arab is killed, soldier or civilian, it’s ‘disproportionate’.

It’s as if OSHA regulations (for non-Americans, OSHA is the agency responsible for workplace safety) were extended to the battlefield. Soon rubber bullets or paintballs will be required in all IDF weapons.

There is no doubt that war with Hamas in Gaza (and Hizballah in Lebanon) is unavoidable. Even more so than in previous wars, if present trends are indicative, Israel will be fighting with both hands and one foot tied behind its back.

For Hamas and Hizballah, in a modernized version of Sherman’s famous words, war will indeed be heck.

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One Response to “War is Heck”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    I take the Moussa demand like the El Baradei warning to Israel against invading Gaza as self- serving political action should there be a future race for Egyptian President.
    The fact that the Arabs make absurd and illogical demands is not something new. It is present throughout the history of the conflict. Our enemies have a wonderful habit of ignoring common sense and decency and accusing others of what they are themselves guilty of- and too demanding to be rewarded for crimes they have committed. Unfortunately their immoral and ridiculous behavior is rewarded by the international community including the Europeans. Why should they change when they get away with everything?