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Monday, January 05, 2009

Economic Peace

Charles Krauthammer writes for the Post:
For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians.
Charles explodes the car bomb at the center of the market (well, my context-equivalent of 'hitting the nail on the head'). Hamas spreads their ammunition and military leaders very well among civilians that it becomes hard for Israelis to isolate and target them. The inevitable civilian casualty is used as a political brownie for the Hamas leaders to send a message to nearby Islamic capitals. In fact, the bigger the number, the better it is for Hamas to paint their horror picture. While the editors of a Pakistani daily write '...amply demonstrate the Jewish state’s unending thirst for Palestinian blood' they make no mention of the 2000+ rocket launches aimed at Israeli civilians in the past two years. While young men from Iran are willing to be suicide bombers to teach the Jewish state a lesson and their leaders funnel arms into Gaza, did any of Hamas' Arab neighbors worry about building the place... building as how it happens in actual development.

Hamas has always been more interested in the destruction of Israel than the construction of Palestine. Well, I'm not even sure if Hamas leaders ever discussed anything about roads, bridges, schools, colleges, hospitals, doctors, social welfare or even a freaking decent TV show. Hamas has done very poorly as a democratically elected party to address the basic necessities of an average person. Most of the money poured in for development has been well spent on buying rockets and digging tunnels to smuggle those rockets. But there weren't any mass rallies protesting the incompetence & corruption of the management like the ones over offensive Danish cartoons. When Israel's foreign minister says they'll retaliate (not instigate), a Hamas leader responds that they'll continue their attacks - which is only going to result in a strong retaliation, which will result in more deaths, which will provide a strong political capital for Hamas leadership to seek sympathy votes among middle-east.

The stated problem revolves around territorial integrity and religion. One can only achieve ceasefire, not peace in the region when the leaders talk at Camp David. You can call it an accord or a treaty, but in a practical sense it's only an extended ceasefire until someone loosens their grip - and in most cases it will be from a Palestinian territory. I believe lasting peace can only be achieved when there is considerable economic growth. The poverty level is crushing, the unemployment rate is unbelievably high and the leaders incite the youth in terms of nationalism, religion and Israeli oppression. That's why young men line up for the suicide bomber squad. If they all had a decent job and were able to feed their families and had a sense of reasonable financial safety that they wouldn't be broke the next day or week or month, their quest for their homeland and eviction of Israelis would only be of theoretical interest - something that's discussed in tea shops and when they get home they'll worry about how to get their kids to colleges.

Geographically extrapolating, the middle-east cannot for long run their show: drill oil, sell oil, subsidize everything and live happily ever after. They have to look at Turkey which wants to be a modern state morphing itself to align with EU. They they have to look at Dubai and start inviting investors and create a conducive environment for real growth. They have to fund state-sponsored schools better than madrasas. They have to include women in building the society. Unless there's a fundamental change in the way Hamas top brass thinks, not of military leadership but of economic leadership, there's going to be conflict around the corner. I'm extremely saddened when I look at the hospitals in Gaza. The death of 530+ which includes a lot of women and children does seem like a disproportional response. But if one of those killed children would have later become a suicide-bomber, I would say Israel proceeded in the right direction.

5 comments:

Varaha said...

I totally agree with the last sentence -

"...But if one of those killed children would have later become a suicide-bomber, I would say Israel proceeded in the right direction."

Cheers
Varaha

Suri said...

Good one..

Israel responds to any threat to its soil with the same aggression.. otherwise it would have been wiped out of the globe long back by its friendly neighbors

India can learn a lesson or two!!

ohmsdeeps said...

You are right about Israel on their stand point. I agree that
India should learn some aggression from Israel.

But if one of those killed children's dad is a merchant, I am sure in no time he will be ready to wear a
jacket of explosives the very next day.

On a lay man's perpective, I do not understand how a country can actually justify
killing almost 1000 civilians in three days who are mostly woman and children.

I am trying to compare this situation with our own neighboring LTTE and Sri Lankan government.
Sri Lankan army may justify their act that they are fighting LTTE and not the Tamils.
But can we deny the fact that they had already caused an irreparable casualty on the innocent Tamil civilians life
and almost trying to wipe out a race in their land.

History always proved that any religious or ethnic war cannot be won with rockets and bullets but may be possible only
through mind.

As you said, it is a sad truth that organizations such as Hamas are exploiting the people's beliefs and poverty
for their own political benefits.

It is an unbelievable paradox that the humans are going green in one side and red in the other side.

Pursuer said...

The unemployment rate is a key economic/social factor. Idle hands are devil's tools and when religion/idealism is added to the mix, the restless youth jumps out of a frying pan into the fire. Adding oil to the fire, blind leading blind in a depressionist era sow seeds for prolonged hatred and deadly wars as WWII. Idealism with an empty stomach can cause weird chemical imbalances.

Prasad Venkataramana said...

Varaha,
Sharada disagreed with that sentence saying that its almost evil to say such a thing on an innocent dead child's face. On an emotional level, I can see her point. But as a strong counter-terrorist move, especially for a country like Israel surrounded by enemies, I believe such actions have long-term messages.

Suri,
I don't think India is in the same page as Israel. India has some international reputation because it pursues the path of diplomacy, which keeps it in UN's good books. I'm not sure if we should risk that.

Ohm,
Isn't that an irony? Israel's attacks are primarily motivated to disarm Hamas - but in the very event innocent civilians, some of who even hate Hamas are driven towards them.

Pursuer,
Very good point. Unemployment + ideology + religion = Inflammable combination effectively used by warlords, extremist leaders and corrupt politicians.

This sentence of yours summarizes my entire post:
Idealism with an empty stomach can cause weird chemical imbalances.