Tuesday, August 15, 2006

posted by Yonatan

Full Metal Jacket

Last week, while the war was still going on, I saw Stanley Kubrick's "Full Metal Jackett" on DVD (after arguing with someone that "Apocalypse Now" is a better movie...). The Vietnam War is very different, of course, from the war which is hopefully now behind us, or for that matter, any war that Israel fought. At the very least because in all Israeli wars we fought against neighboring countries from which actively hostile action was taken against us. Nonetheless, one can not resist drawing some analogies, in that hope the history will teach us something.

The line in the sand: Even though JFK masterfully diffused the Cuban missiles crisis (I wish we had here leaders who could handle the Hizbollah kidnapping like that), apparently the strengthening of communism in Northern Vietnam convinced him that the US must "draw a line in the sand" against communism expansion. Otherwise, the US status and credibility as a superpower, and its position in the Cold War will be fatally damaged.

Well, we all know how that ended up. The US wasn't so successful in blocking communist expansion in Vietnam, and nonetheless, ultimately, it triumphed over the Soviet Union. Many people wrote about the current war that Israel must win it, as otherwise its position in the middle east will be irrecoverably damaged. That losing it will have dire consequences on the West's power versus radical Islam. Hopefully there's some encouraging lesson here.

The limits of power: Olmert was unofficially quoted as saying that we won this war 15-0 (he's thinking soccer, of course, not tennis). It is often said that in Vietnam the US won every battle, but lost the war. While both these statements are not completely accurate, the end results painfully prove the obvious - that even if you have McNamara's brilliance on your side, and the-best-army-in-the-world, and complete air superiority and so on (neo-con conspirators?), it's not enough.

To actually break your enemy, it is not enough that rational reasoning shows that your enemies will be in a world of pain if they don't surrender. Just as your soldiers are willing to die if they believe this serves the interests of their country (and even when they have doubts...), so do your enemies. Forcefully "winning" a conflict can only be done in extreme situations. Perhaps one of the problems with the perspective of Israeli generals is that they think the '67 war to be the rule, rather than the exception.

The importance of power: While you usually can not force your enemy to surrender on your terms, the application of force can improve your position when negotiating a compromise. In late '68 Lyndon Johnson ordered the cessation of all US attacks in Vietnam, but the peace talks which this action was supposed to facilitate broke down. Only after Hanoi's massive bombing (condemned world-wide), did negotiations resume, leading to the Paris Peace Accords.

This, I think, is an important lesson for people like me, who so strongly believe in peace, that they have a very hard time believing that the people on the other side might be different. If Hizbollah comes out victorious from this conflict, and Israel is intimidated from risking another clash, then it will have no motivation to disband and give southern Lebanon over to the Lebanese army.

The world won't listen: The real losers of the Vietnam War were, of course, the South Vietnamese. Once US soldiers were no longer there, the '73 Paris Peace Accords proved a poor shield. When, only two years later, north Vietnamese forces overtook the south, millions fled the country, becoming refugees. And the regime that followed wasn't exactly a gentle one.

So where were the american people who protested the war? Where were the European countries who condemned the Hanoi bombings? With the watergate scandal on one end, and the soviet backup on the other, taking the south was like taking candy from a baby (not my baby though, he's tough). I fear there is a lesson for us here as well. Israel must be powerful enough to defend itself. Peace agreements will be worth nothing if this won't be the case.

I've intended to write about some similarities between Lyndon Johnson and Amir Peretz, but it's getting to be a long post as it is. So to conclude, here's a piece from a great dialogue from "Full Metal Jacket", which, in my humble opinion, could be a motto for this blog (copied from imdb):

Pogue Colonel: Marine, what is that button on your body armor?
Private Joker: A peace symbol, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Where'd you get it?
Private Joker: I don't remember, sir.
Pogue Colonel: What is that you've got written on your helmet?
Private Joker: "Born to Kill", sir.
Pogue Colonel: You write "Born to Kill" on your helmet and you wear a peace button. What's that supposed to be, some kind of sick joke?
Private Joker: No, sir.
Pogue Colonel: You'd better get your head and your ass wired together, or I will take a giant shit on you.
Private Joker: Yes, sir.
Pogue Colonel: Now answer my question or you'll be standing tall before the man.
Private Joker: I think I was trying to suggest something about the duality of man, sir.
Pogue Colonel: The what?


Blogger IMBch said...

Just too scary to shut up!

If you read the news randomly, you read that:

1. Iran has just started Military maneuvers due to last “indefinitely” to test its military skills because of the situation in the Middle East
2. Syria has apparently started to remove mines from their side of the border on the Golan, and has massed some tanks
3. Syria has started since last June to enroll volunteer to form a Jihadist brigade to “liberate the Golan”
4. Hezbollah may be bringing into South Lebanon, under the guise of refugees returning home, a few thousands of fighters (Iranian – Syrian or Palestinian)
5. The 22nd of August is the date that Ahmadinejad said he would give his reply to the UN resolution on his Nuclear Program
6. The 22nd of August corresponds in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1).

What do you make of all this?

Would Iran strike Israel on that day with an Atomic weapon to:

• Show the world that they are member of the Nuclear Club
• That they have indeed annihilated Israel as they have promised
• Take the leadership of the Muslim world and embark on a Djihad against the west?

Guys, let me know your views / comments

11:37 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Sorry to be off subject guys. I hope one of you will see this and tell me that Ofer has returned home safely or at least is staying safe.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

And what do you make of this?

'UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinian foreign minister said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday that the new Hamas-led government believes its struggle against Israel is just, but it wants to live side by side in peace with its neighbors.

The language in Mahmoud Zahar's letter — his first official correspondence with Annan since Hamas officially took power last week — was reminiscent of that used by President Bush and the Quartet of international parties trying to promote a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia. They have called for two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.'

Perhaps it's time to reconsider whether Hamas wants the destruction of Israel.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Elon said...

quick note to sharon -

Ofer is back from the army, and is well and unharmed. Thanks for your concern.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Lirun said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:46 PM  
Blogger homefris said...

great post! Keep up the good writing.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.

8:41 AM  

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