October 31, 2011 – 4:39 pm – by Richard Fernandez
[Excerpts – emphasis mine. Hat tip: Crusader Rabbit]
political correctness … undermined the Laws of War
Warfare is older than the modern state. When the Strategy Page described what it calls “vigilante warfare” by Israeli settlers on members of Hamas it might have been talking about a process of “going native”. In the Middle East the tradition of pre-Westphalian warfare is strong. Private war, from the action of clans against other clans to the sponsorship of belligerence by warlords never completely went out of style. The BBC described how Saddam Hussein promised to pay anyone who would kill a Jew. “A Hamas suicide bomber’s family got $25,000 while the others – relatives of militants killed in fighting or civilians killed during Israeli military operations – all received $10,000 each.” […]
But as with everything else, the going price for killing or kidnapping a Jew has gone up. The Strategy Page notes that the going rate for a live Israeli soldier is now a cool million dollars. “In Saudi Arabia, a prominent Saudi prince, Khaled bin Talal, added $900,000 to the $100,000 reward offered by a Saudi cleric several days earlier. The million dollars goes to whoever kidnaps an Israeli soldier, who then can be exchanged for hundreds of Arab terrorists held in Israeli jails.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Hamas is being paid back in its own figurative coin, the currency of lead.
Fatah, the corrupt, old line Palestinian party that controls the West Bank is upset at the growing revenge attacks by Israeli settlers. This is something new. For decades, the settlers could be depended on to be passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly launching “price tag” counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis. This is vigilante justice, and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not accustomed to this kind of swift payback, and they do not like it. Israel is under pressure to crack down more vigorously on the vigilantes.
One of the great innovations of the Westphalian system was that private individuals who had previously been responsible for visting retribution, were supposed to leave justice — and warfare — to the state. For as long as the population trusted the King (or the State) to punish criminals and protect them from foreign attack, private individuals were content to leave things in the hands of uniformed officialdom.
political correctness … reduced the power of the state to defend its population against external aggressors
But a strange thing happened on the way to the 21st century: political correctness as imposed by a variety of lawyers, human rights activists and the like progressively reduced the power of the state to defend its population against external aggressors to the point where it failed to provide an adequate level of protection. When private individuals could no longer rely on uniformed officialdom to protect them, they did the natural thing. They took the matter of warfare back into their own hands.
private individuals … took the matter of warfare back into their own hands
But along with the advantages of vigilanteeism came its drawbacks. Reuters reports that some settler groups are burning mosques on the West Bank. That may be regrettable, but is also inevitable. For in doing away with the Westphalian system, political correctness unintentionally — or perhaps unthinkingly — undermined the Laws of War. The whole panoply of uniforms, ranks, discipline and obedience — so hated by pacifists — were all Westphalian mechanisms designed to ensure some kind of law and order on the battlefield. By taking the armies out of the game, the disciples of political correctness didn’t end war; they merely ended the old rules of war and returned the field to private warfare.
By taking the armies out of the game, the disciples of political correctness didn’t end war; they merely ended the old rules of war and returned the field to private warfare