Thursday, March 28, 2002

GIVE WAR A CHANCE, please: Israelis Prepare Retaliation; Arafat Urges Cease-Fire. The Palestinians say they want war. Give them want they want. Then give them what they deserve: humiliating, mind-altering, pacifying defeat. The Palestinians aren't determined; they're complacent. They know one suicide bomber buys dead Jews, which they want. Any cost in public relations is offset by Israeli retaliation, which kills a few Palestinian "civilians," which buys sympathetic press coverage. The one resource a backward, illiterate, economically stagnant society has is people; it just doesn't cost a family of ten much to send off a son as a suicide bomber and lose one more to Israeli retaliation. Does that sound crass to you? That's the calculation, and it's working. But what if a family loses all of its sons and its father in battle? What if you level its hovel? What if you burn down the groceries, the bakeries, the factories, the offices? What if you destroy the electric plant, the water plant, the roads, and whatever other pathetic infrastructure they have. What if you make those wretched, squalid refugee camps seem like heaven, compared to life in a real war zone. What if these people screaming for jihad -- for war -- get to live, really live it, the way Germans and Japanese lived it? What if you take the war to the people who say they want it so badly, the way Sherman took it to Georgia and the Carolinas? Do you think that family might recount the cost? They're counting now, and they're in the black. It isn't natural to wish mayhem and destruction on a people. I never wished it on anyone until this war. But it isn't natural for a people to send off their young men, clothed with screw-, nail-, scrap-metal-studded explosives, to tear arms and legs and heads off of teenagers dancing the night away on a beach, moms and dads and children eating on a shopping day, men, women, and children, young folk and old folk celebrating Passover -- and feel good about it, celebrate the killers like they're heroes and "martyrs." And it wasn't natural when they were dancing in the streets on September 11. They act like life is cheap, their lives, their enemies' lives; they say they want war; but they haven't really had to pay yet. So make them pay.

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