Wanted: An Israeli Sherman!


Walter Russell Mead claims that Americans support Israel's use of overwhelming force, even if it means more victims like those above:

Certainly if some kind of terrorist organization were to set up missile factories across the frontier in Canada and Mexico and start attacking targets in the United States, the American people would demand that their President use all necessary force without stint or limit until the resistance had been completely, utterly and pitilessly crushed. Those Americans who share this view of war might feel sorrow at the loss of innocent life, of the children and non-combatants killed when overwhelming American power was used to take the terrorists out, but they would feel no moral guilt. The guilt would be on the shoulders of those who started the whole thing by launching the missiles.

But what if the US had previously invaded and occupied part of Mexico, was populating that area with Americans, building American free-ways to build new cities, and slowly asphyxiating the native Mexican population with barbed wire, road-checks, and economic isolation? Wouldn't some of us support undoing the annexation and settlements rather than bombing the crap out of Mexico City in an unrelenting escalation? But Mead has no truck for the tradition of just warfare when it comes to Israel:

[T]he kind of tit-for-tat limited warfare that the doctrine of proportionality would require is a recipe for unending war: for decades of random air strikes, bombs and other raids. An endless war of limited intensity is worse, many Americans instinctively feel, than a time-limited war of unlimited ferocity. A crushing blow that brings an end to the war—like General Sherman’s march of destruction through the Confederacy in 1864-65—is ultimately kinder even to the vanquished than an endless state of desultory war.

So now we're talking Sherman! How many dead Arabs will satisfy Mead? Does he really want Israel to do to Gaza and the West Bank what Russia did to Chechnya? And what does "unlimited ferocity" mean? Nuking them? Or just mass death arriving from the skies? Would that really be "kinder"?

Yes, he used that word: kinder. To mean a Shermanesque march with not a smidgen of "moral guilt". We have gone through the moral looking glass. Tribalism will make you do that, if you are not careful. 

(Photo: The bodies of a children from the al-Dallu family lay draped in Palestinian and Hamas (2R) flags during the funeral of several members from the al-Dallu family in Gaza City on November 19, 2012. An Israeli missile struck a three-story building in Gaza City on November 18, killing several members of the al-Dallu family – five of them children – and two of their neighbours, medics said. Full story here.  By Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images)