Nov 20, 2004 7:23 pm


Every word Jane Novak writes in A Double Standard Too Glaring to Ignore is accurate not only about the recent American marine shooting of a wounded terrorist but also about the Israeli troops accused of desecrating Palestinian bodies.

And, yet, I am glad the double standard exists and that the Israeli chief of staff said:"I intend to reach the truth," Yaalon told Army Radio."God forbid if we are compared and likened to those against whom we are fighting."

In his predictive study on The Transformation of War, Martin Van Crefeld noted that one of the dangers presented by low-intensity conflicts is their challenge to conception of Clausewitz's"Trinitarian war" which differentiates between governments, uniform soldiers and civilians. It is important to realize that the international rules of war (including the Geneva Convention) based Trinitarian principle. Van Crefeld wrote:

"The first duty of any social entity is to protect the lives of its members. Either modern states cope with low-intensity conflict, or else they will disappear; the suspicion grows, however, that they are damned if they do and dammed if they don't. War being among the most imitative of all human activities, the very process of combating low-intensity conflict will cause both sides to become alike, unless it can be brought to a quick end."

Indeed, using brutal means to bring insurgencies to a quick end in the manner King Hussein did in September 1970 may in the long run represent the most benign option. But the world never afforded Israel that option. The UN invited the gun brandishing man responsible the Munich Olympic massacre to address the General Assembly and when cornered in Beirut, the Reagan administration helped extricate him. For reasons I can only guess at, the Bush administration permitted the insurgency to flourish in the Sunni triangle for months.

In any case, both the US and Israel find themselves today confronting the same challenge - fighting a low insurgency war without becoming like those they fight. Make no mistake, we are not engaged in a game of chess with the Jihadists but with a game of Go (Othello) and the victor will be the one who makes the other side more like himself. Abu Graib, the Falujah incident and the Israeli scandal may be examples of a few pieces turned the wrong way.

Ultimately, victory (and I do not dare think what it would be like to live in a world in which we become as merciless as the terrorists) will be achieved when the Muslim world realizes that the Jihadist cancer is destroying every healthy part in its collective body and turns its back on the savagery. I believe that that process has begun and the Muslim Diaspora is bound to play a central role in that transformation.

In the meantime, we must stand guard and deal very forcefully with any signs of contagion within ourselves.

So, faster, please! Remember Sun Tzu:"I have heard of an awkward speed but have never seen any skill in a lengthy campaign."

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More Comments:

Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 11/23/2004

If the differences are such as you describe then I hope the transformation will be more like Othello than Go.

Jonathan Dresner - 11/22/2004

These are two very different games. Othello does indeed involve converting pieces from one side to another.

Go, at least the Asian form with which I am familiar, is a territorial occupation game, a strategic surrounding of terrority resulting in isolated "dead" patches.

Othello really is the analogy you want for the ideological and methodological transformation you describe.