Flights of Faith

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Buzzkill: The War

With a ceasefire supposedly taking place in less than twelve hours, let’s take a look at some of the buzzwords of this “security conflict.”

New Middle East

While I’m sure Dr. Rice didn’t mean to stir up images of a biblical borders Israel, it’s hard for any non-Israel country to take this statement favorably thanks to the money we funnel into Israel. The next day, a Palestinian newspaper showed the Doc with a monkey in her belly, pregnant with the “new Middle East.” Nasrallah also joined the bandwagon using the phrase rhetorically in a now famous speech.


After the three soldiers were stolen (1 in Gaza, 2 in Northern Lebanon), many countries “urged Israel to use restraint.” A judgment call I understood and supported if diplomacy failed. Well, diplomacy was never really used and pretty soon rockets started flying from both sides. Almost immediately, European countries cried “disproportionate!” Deferring from my own personal opinion regarding war, particularly this one, I have to ask how does one fight a proportional war? And possibly a better question, how can some of these countries say this seriously given their histories? One of the biggest complexities in the Mideast conflict is Western countries trying to scold a country that is committing similar errors from their pasts. Watch any news show featuring an Israeli and he or she will spout off statistics about how France did this for security or the United States did that to achieve freedom. Is any country ready to admit their mistakes and recommend their avoidance in the future? Many would say the leadership of those nations aren’t but the United Nations serves that capacity. Given how the UN performed during this war, I have to question its effectiveness and credibility. Informed by, not independent of.

“Cessation of hostilities” “Enduring ceasefire” “Sustainable” “Not returning to the status quo ante”

It’s funny how as kids we look up to the television screen and marvel at how smart the leaders of our country seem. Then as we get older, we see how each issue simply spits out sophisticated jargon that’s traded in for normal words and overused by pundits and politicians. All of these phrases were used during the squabbling over the UN cease fire resolution. It doesn’t seem farfetched to me to deliver an immediate cease fire THEN squabble over the finer points, but I think we all realize there was more at play than just establishing long lasting peace. By the way, I seriously expected to see a Yale representative for the sustainable movement as many times as I heard that phrase.

“Legendary” “Mythical”

To me, these are the most interesting words of the last thirty-two days and will produce the biggest changes. At the beginning, these were the words Israeli politicians used to boast when talking about the IDF, Israeli Defense Forces. Citing countless examples of miraculous military strikes, the politicians seemed pretty confident they’d get the job done against Hizbullah. As the war moved into mid-July, it was clear the army was faltering. Suddenly, the terms were absorbed by Nasrallah as he claimed that no one expected us to last this long against the mythical Israeli army. People took notice. By late July, Nasrallah was not just claiming victory against former legends; he was becoming one. I’ve seen a music video in his honor and posters touting him a living legend. The support is obviously dependent on location. Have family in the North, run a business catering to tourists, a victim of increased IDF security. Those Arabs might resent him. Already a daily victim of the IDF, live in an insular Arab community, lifestyle not dependent on tourism. Probably playing the Nasrallah pop song on their mp3 players.

In less than twelve hours, both sides will declare victory. Although historians will debate who really won for many years to come, it is clear the landscape has changed again in the Middle East. Another generation has reasons to hate each other, another Arab legend is born, another Israeli political shakeup is ripe, America has new worries about its partner in the Middle East, and the I in IDF might not stand for invincible anymore.

These buzzwords will fade. New ones will be dreamt of. Meanwhile, we wait.


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