Jan 12 2009

Israel and Palestine

Jamie Barrows

There has been a lot of news lately about the current war in Israel. And most of what I’m hearing is that Israel is being too aggressive against the Palestinians and Hamas. I constantly hear the term "disproportionate response." And I see on the TV and in the news, images of the devastation in Gaza. Images that show children living in bombed out homes and shelters.

The images are heartrending. And I feel real sorrow for the people whose homes, businesses, schools, and marketplaces have been destroyed. It’s a terrible thing to have your livelihood and homes destroyed. War is horrible and without fail it causes suffering among innocents who have no part in it.

The consensus of most of the world, seems to be that Israel should respond to the rocket attacks proportionately. But what does that mean? Has anyone who is saying this really thought it through. Are people really advocating that Israel should lob a rocket at a Palestinian neighborhood every time Hamas sends one at Israel? That Israel should deliberately target civilians with rocket attacks the way Hamas does?

I’m not one of those people who thinks Israel can do no wrong. They often take a very heavy handed approach to their security and many of the things they have done in the past have not been good. But in this case I’m not sure that we can totally fault Israel for the devastation.

Yes, it is Israeli missiles, bombs, and tanks that have destroyed the homes and infrastructure of the Gaza strip, but I don’t see that Israel has a choice here. Hamas deliberately positions their rocket launchers in residential neighborhoods and in critical infrastructure installations. So if Israel is going to take out the rocket launchers, there will be civilian casualties. And neighborhoods will be destroyed.

Is Israel totally blameless for the sense of hopelessness and poverty that most Palestinian’s live in? A situation that creates great recruitment fodder for extremist groups like Hamas. Of course Israel isn’t blameless. But then neither are the Palestinians who have been given many chances to improve their lives and yet keep handing the reigns of power over to groups like Hamas. There is plenty of blame to go around, but as I said before, I don’t see that Israel has much choice in it’s response here.

It’s great to talk about proportionate responses when we are talking a trade dispute or increased tarrifs. But when it comes to bombs and rockets, I’m not sure it applies. Especially when those rockets are dropping on your neighborhood. The place where your kids and loved ones live! In that case, you want it to stop. And that is what Israel is doing here. They are trying to make it stop.

Try to imagine yourself in a typical Israeli’s situation. What would you do if the country next door to your own was so lawless that militant groups were able to constantly shoot rockets at your home and workplace? What would you do if the official government of that nation either could not or would not attempt to stop these attacks? Would you be able to sit by and just hope that the next rocket attack didn’t kill you or one of your loved ones?

Don’t let the rights and wrongs of Israel being there in the first place, or Israel’s past treatment of the Palestinians, sidetrack you from looking at it from the perspective of a normal working person. Just put yourself in the place of a typical person and ask what you would do in this situation. Would you demand action against the people who were attacking your neighborhood?

I know I would be calling on my government (the job of which is to protect me) to make it stop. Even if that meant my nation had to invade, bomb, and occupy the other nation. Because the safety of my family and loved ones is more important to me than whether the people shooting at me are justified in their anger against my nation.

Sep 29 2008

A religious war?

Jamie Barrows

I read an article the other day that was talking about the war and the reasons for it. The article claimed that the war was not a religious war and that religion was only being used by both sides to sensationalize and justify the war.
Specifically it claimed those on our side are trying to make this war out to be a Christians Vs Muslims war and that this isn’t true. And in a way, I agreed with the author. It’s not a Christians Vs Muslims war. Though I’m not sure that, despite the article’s claim, all that many people on our side are pushing that idea. From what I’ve seen, most people on our side simply believe that the other side is blinded by corrupt leaders and a lack of education. But that aside, I did agree with the author that it wasn’t a Christians Vs Muslims issue. And that got me thinking.

If you read anything that people in the middle east are writing, it becomes very obvious that the other side believes this to be a religious war. And yet, we have no interest in pushing our religions on them. So if we aren’t out there forcing our religions on them, then why do Muslims in these countries feel like their religion is under attack?
They clearly believe their religion is under attack by the West(specifically the US, but also Europe). And yet, we are making no efforts to impose our dominant religion(Christianity) on these Muslim nations. Not even on the ones we have occupied.

So what are we attempting to impose on them? What is the West actively pushing in every nation in the world? The answer is Secular Materialism. The thing we truly worship in this country and in most of the Western world, is secularism. And we are actively attempting to push that on every nation in the world.
In the West, the mainstream thought is that Religion should be tolerated as a basic human right, but is not considered to be important. In our world, religion is no longer central to society. Secular thought processes and ideas are what our society and culture embrace and follow. But since it isn’t a religion, we don’t see it as such. But outsiders(in this case non-Western Muslims) do. And so to them, this is a religious war. A war to protect their society from the religion of the West.

Jun 20 2008

History Repeating

Jamie Barrows

Desert gateRecently I’ve been really thinking about our (The US as a whole) purpose for fighting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Officially we are over there for the protection and safety of our nation. The goal being to keep the terrorists from having safe bases and launching points. That’s why we went to war in those countries, and that’s why we are still fighting there.

The goal is valid, and the reasons we went to war are still pressing. And even though many people disagree with the war, if we had it to do over again, I’m sure we would go to war again. We really don’t have a choice if we want to keep living the way we do. So we have to fight this war. No matter how much we may not want to.

The problem is, that we just can’t win it. The only thing we can do is fight the war. We could lose it by quitting, but we can’t ever win it by continuing to fight. So what are we doing? We are fighting a holding action to keep people we see as “modern barbarians” down.

And that has some chilling parallels to history. Specifically the Roman Empire. In the later years of the empire, the majority of the empires military was used almost exclusively the keep barbarian tribes and nations out. Rome worked hard to keep the barbarians weak and disorganized. The barbarians wanted Rome’s land and riches and were a constant threat to Rome’s security. If they remained weak and disorganized, then they couldn’t threaten Rome.

In our case, the “modern barbarians” aren’t interested in our land, but they do want our influence and riches. Western culture is influencing and infecting their societies. Which ultimately threatens their traditions. Furthermore the West(and the US in particular) is rich. Far richer than most of the rest of the world. So they attack us. And our answer to their attacks, is the same as the Roman answer. We attempt to hold them down. To keep them from being able to attack us, we station troops in their nations and territories.

Sure we try to educate them and change their society. We try to make things better for them. But it really isn’t working. Largely because change in their society is one of the reasons why they are fighting us. So the only thing we are really accomplishing is keeping them from having the capability to attack us. The scary thing is, that it didn’t work for Rome, and it is unlikely to work for us. And even worse, none of us can think of anything better to do.