In a rare session with the press Sharon told reporters: "It won't be possible to reach an agreement with them before the Palestinians are hit hard. Now they have to be hit. If they aren't badly beaten, there won't be any negotiations. Only after they are beaten will we be able to conduct talks. I want an agreement, but first they have to be beaten so they get the thought out of their minds that they can impose an agreement on Israel that Israel does not want ... They must be beaten: the Palestinian Authority, its forces, and the terrorists," he said, adding, "if they aren't beaten there won't be any political horizon."
What planet did this man just fly in from? Frankly, this doesn't sound like someone who's been engaged in some aspect or another of this battle for the past few decades.
Seriously, does this sound like a policy that will work? to anyone? Has it worked so far? At this point, all a policy of "bring the pain" has gotten either side is tit-for-tat rounds of killing each others' theoretical noncombattants and an increase of the rate at which they do so.
Israel isn't dealing with a single, rational state actor to whom this sort of pain would be meaningful, from whom this sort of pain could elicit a useful response. They're dealing with one theoretically rational state actor whom they've methodically stripped of any real power by destroying his C3 abilities. They're dealing with small terrorist cells that never were rational state actors, and have never acted as such. They've been bringing the pain for nearly 40 years now, and they're now starting their third generation of radicalized Palestinians. They don't want to admit any of this is true, because then they would have to admit that their current policies aren't working, and that they don't have any reasonable alternatives.
It is, of course, entirely possible for Israel to make the cold, ruthless decision to bring the pain in quantities sufficient to cause the Palestinians to surrender. In theory. At which point, having killed about as many noncombattants as there are in the Palestinian areas, they will have become their enemies.
The U.S. Administration is considering returning special envoy Anthony Zinni to the Middle East, in a further effort to stop the escalation in violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
Whatever for? Neither side is in the least interested in a truly negotiated peace. You couldn't get Israel to the table with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and Arafat clearly has no authority over them. Without them, a peace with Arafat is useless; he has no ability to enforce it. The US is only vaguely interested in controlling Israel's bloodthirstiness at the moment, and only insofar as it makes prosecuting the War on Terrorism more difficult to have all the Arab states yelling "Do something about them!" at us.Posted by iain at March 05, 2002 10:26 AM