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Nice Countries Finish Last

If Israeli soldiers had boarded the Mavi Marmara armed with assault rifles instead of paintball guns, would the Turkish Islamists on board have been just as eager to attack them? The odds are against it. In order to attack soldiers, you have to believe that they won't be able to turn you into a smear on the deck. And it's not hard to see why they would have believed that.

Not only did Israeli soldiers come on board armed with paintball guns, but the Islamists and their left wing allies had every reason to believe that Israel would retreat again. Because two weeks earlier, Israel had backed off and allowed Noam Chomsky in after a storm of left wing protest. That fateful decision made Israel look weak and easily maneuvered, which helped set the stage for what followed. The Islamists could reasonably believe that if Israel retreated before one elderly left wing academic, their accompanying elderly left wingers would be just as effective.

But the flotilla encounter is a useful model, not only of Israel's own weak response toward terrorism, but that of the Western world toward Islam as a whole.

Going in with paintball guns to stop people who genuinely want you dead, does not deescalate the situation-- it escalates it. There are after all two kinds of violence. Violence that occurs as a misunderstanding and can be talked out. And violence that is the result of people who want to kill thinking they've got a shot at accomplishing their goal. And there's no better way to insure violence than to give those kinds of people the idea that this is their moment.

But Israel has been responding with metaphorical paintball guns to terrorism for too long now. How many times has Israel bombed empty buildings or sent tanks on pointless raids with no strategic objective except to show the flag. How many times has Israel arrested terrorists, only to let them go as a "confidence building" measure. For that matter the entire Gaza blockade, in which Israel reacted to the Hamas takeover of Gaza with a partial blockade (accompanied by large doses of aid) in order to isolate Hamas. Instead Hamas has used the blockade to isolate Israel even further. That you see is the problem with paintball guns. Not only aren't they of much use, but they actually invite further conflict, and when you finally have to use real guns, more people will die as a result.

Only consistently leveraging force provides a deterrent. That is something Israel once understood, but has long ago forgotten. Instead Israel has inconsistently employed force, which has naturally led to charges of "disproportionate use of force", because the government has set a bottom basement value for the use of force, which means that both its friends and enemies have learned to expect minimal responses. This means that when we do go to war, we get less support from our friends who are suddenly shocked by what we're doing, and when we don't go to war, we give our enemies the idea that they can get away with anything.

Remember Osama bin Laden's shock as the scale of the US attack in Afghanistan. Or Hassan Narsallah's at the Second Lebanon War. Bin Laden had gotten used to being able to carry out attacks like that on the USS Cole, without expecting anything besides a few poorly aimed missiles in return. Nasrallah had assumed that Israel's tolerance of terrorism from Hamas and Fatah meant that it was a soft target. America and Israel's response to one particular attack, shocked the Islamic terrorist groups responsible. But that shock also demonstrates the problem. Terrorists should naturally expect a ruthless response. When we tolerate terrorism, we create the expectation that they can get away with anything. Then they cross a red line, we strike back hard, and buy ourselves some peace. The terrorists begin scaling up their attacks again, certain this time that we're incapable of fighting back. Until they hit another red line.

If we consistently deployed force against terrorism, we wouldn't have this seesaw cycle that the left wing media routinely dubs the "Cycle of Violence". Instead we react inconsistently, which fails to function as a deterrent. Our inaction lulls terrorists into thinking that they have a free pass, which only demonstrates that we don't have a deterrent. Next to outright inaction, the inconsistent use of force is destructive to maintaining a stalemate. Because if given two possibilities with equal amounts of evidence for both, one that you will strike back with full force and one that you will remain apathetic-- most motivated enemies will find ways to argue themselves into believing the latter. And they will attack.

Carrying paintball guns will not win you love. During the Munich Olympics in 1972, the German police handed out flowers. The flowers did not stop PLO terrorists from invading the Olympic Village and murdering Israeli athletes. On the other hand Israel's response of hunting down and killing those responsible, sent a decisive message that even murdering its people on foreign soil, among police who hand our flowers, would not save them from retribution. A year after the Munich Massacre, the Black September branch of the PLO was shut down.

But we still keep using paintball guns. For 17 years Israel has tried to show goodwill toward the PLO formed Palestinian Authority and even toward Hamas. And the PLO and Hamas unsurprisingly responded with massacres and atrocities. If you run from a rabid dog, the dog will chase after you. If you stand and confront the dog, you might have a chance to beat it off, or shoot it. But if you always run from the dog, the dog will feel entitled to chase you and try to bite you. And so every time Israel responded, there was an outcry. But it was Israel that had taught its enemies that it would not respond to terrorism, only to then sometimes respond. That sort of inconsistent behavior is extremely confusing to rabid dogs.

Meanwhile in New York, 9 years after 9/11, we're still going to allow a mosque to be raised near Ground Zero. Naturally we think this will convince Muslims to like us. In reality it all but insures more terrorist attacks. Just as the Taliban didn't make their resurgence, until it was clear that we wouldn't be willing to hunt them down wherever they are. Just as Iraq didn't go to hell until we put more priority on reconstruction, over armed force. That's the problem with trading in assault rifles for paintball guns. It tempts the people with assault rifles to try to use them on you.

When dealing with enemies who want to kill you, one thing is certain-- nice countries finish last. Totalitarian regimes and homicidal ideologies view "niceness" as an admission of weakness or guilt. And here's the dirty little secret, often we tend to view it that way too. Backing down before enemies becomes learned behavior. The human mind rationalizes it by embracing pacifism and then finally the enemy's point of view. Inaction in the face of terrorism becomes Stockholm Syndrome. The more you teach soldiers to carry paintball guns, the less psychologically able they are to wield real guns in an actual battle. Because you can't win by giving up. And giving up convinces your own people that the battle isn't worth fighting anyway.

It's all well and good to be nice, but when confronting enemies who seek to destroy you-- remember, nice countries finish last.


  1. Rabelad2/6/10

    "Not only did Israeli soldiers come on board armed with paintball guns, but the Islamists and their left wing allies had every reason to believe that Israel would retreat again. Because two weeks earlier, Israel had backed off and allowed Noam Chomsky in after a storm of left wing protest. That fateful decision made Israel look weak and easily maneuvered, which helped set the stage for what followed. The Islamists could reasonably believe that if Israel retreated before one elderly left wing academic, their accompanying elderly left wingers would be just as effective."

    You're essentially right in principle on this point but I think there are events that have occurred that were far better examples of Israel's weak-kneed approach to hostile elements that has given the terrorists and their leftist supporters of the Free Gaza Movement reason to believe that Israel is a wimp and will take abuse forever.

    Your premise is far better supported by the fact that at least one time in the past the Israeli Navy was ordered by the political echelon to allow the "humanitarian" boats to land in Gaza. In the following interview by the BBC with Audrey Bromse the rep from the Free Gaza Movement she claimed that on five previous occasions they were allowed entry into Gaza despite the blockade.


    I personally remember one time they were told they were forbidden entry but were allowed entry anyway. There may well have been more than one.

    BTW, for once the BBC interviewer was uncharacteristically critical towards Bromse and told her to her face that their intentions were not just humanitarian and that they were out for a confrontation.

  2. sigh...thanks sultan...stay safe my good friend

  3. Sultan, I don't read every single one of your essays but I'm always glad to see them. I appreciate your courage. Don't back down. Don't quit.

    Here is a comment I posted to a Daily Beast article re: the "flotilla" link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-05-31/israel-was-right-to-board-the-gaza-flotilla/?cid=topic:mainpromo1

    I am not Jewish but I know which side my spiritual bread is buttered on. Keep on rockin' bro. My comment:

    In the words of King David before he sank a stone deep into the forehead of Goliath the giant: "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" In this modern age of atheistic chic, the ancient spiritual i.e."supernatural" facts of the matter concerning Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular are conveniently omitted. Omission of any fact, spiritual or temporal, has no bearing on its veracity. Facts are facts whether people choose to acknowledge them or not. The power of choice is a strong spiritual power. Choose wisely Pilgrim.

  4. Anonymous2/6/10

    As G-d hardened the heart of Par'o so he does to the eyes of Israelis. They can't see, they can't fathom why are they not loved when they are so good to the Arab terrorists. They threw Jews out of homes, destroyed synagogues, gave the arabs in Gaza hothouses and 14 mill.$, they send their soldiers as in Jenin to be in harm's way protecting arab civilians, they even threw flyers over Lebanon to warn them of an attack. So how come they don't see us for the greatest humanitarians ever??? And LOVE us? Stop believeing in being loved by the world, Jews have only one friend in this world, G-d.

  5. I share the view that the order and magnitude of the threats to Israel manifest in the following order:

    5.) Islamic radicals
    4.) Islam's tenets
    3.) The Left, external to Israel
    2.) The Left, internal to Israel
    1.) Israel's denial of reality.

  6. I agree entirely with you when it comes to training soldiers to use paintball guns.

    It does make them psychologically less able to use real guns when the time comes.

    Not to mention the fact that on some talkbacks, commenters have ridiculed the IDF for using paintballs.

    Commandos using paintballs...it they thought these were truly innocent civilians they still should have used standard SWAT equipment such as rubber bullets and anytime you're dealing with Hamas and they're allies it is essential to assume the worst.

  7. Anonymous2/6/10

    Tundra Tabloids has pictures of the starving Gazan people, who are totally reliant on food aid - given they have never done any real work in the last 50 years or more.

    There is another picture, showing another face of starvation, but in this one, the perpetrators are Arab Muslim. Therefore NO condemnation, No Security Council resolutions, and NO independent inquiry. (This picture is very depressing, and the photographer committed suicide suicide soon after)


    In a real famine, vultures are well fed.

    Meanwhile, Shieikh reports that the tons of humanitarian stuff, is garbage - expired drugs etc, that HAMAS does not want.



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