You may have noticed that John Kerry’s peace process, by excluding Hamas among other measures, is aimed at managing the conflict. Not resolving the basic justice issues, because they seem too overwhelming, but putting the conflict on the back burner so it doesn’t boil up. Trying to sustain the unsustainable status quo by making it more sustainable.
In the New York Times, Edward N. Luttwak has the very same prescription for Syria. “In Syria, America loses if either side wins.” Luttwak wants endless bloodshed– “four of Washington’s enemies” tied down in neverending war. It seems like these include Israel’s enemies, Hezbollah and Iran.
His chief concern seems to be Syria’s troubles pouring into Israel:
At this point, a prolonged stalemate is the only outcome that would not be damaging to American interests.”
…Mr. Assad’s triumph would dramatically affirm the power and prestige of Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanon-based proxy — posing a direct threat both to the Sunni Arab states and to Israel….
Israel could not expect tranquillity on its northern border if the jihadis were to triumph in Syria…
By tying down Mr. Assad’s army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in a war against Al Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington’s enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America’s allies.
That this is now the best option is unfortunate, indeed tragic, but favoring it is not a cruel imposition on the people of Syria, because a great majority of them are facing exactly the same predicament.
Luttwak wants unending war:
Maintaining a stalemate should be America’s objective. And the only possible method for achieving this is to arm the rebels when it seems that Mr. Assad’s forces are ascendant and to stop supplying the rebels if they actually seem to be winning.
This reminds me of the vision laid out to me when I first visited Israel: They don’t want us here so there must be one war after another after another till they accept us. It in turn reminds me that many years ago the “Arabists” in the State Department warned the White House that Israel could only be established by force, and preserved by force.
That is how things have worked out. Now that force seems to include Managed Conflict in Syria, Egypt, Lebanon too.
Speaking of a lack of vision, here is Luttwak on Gaza back in early 2009, during Cast Lead. “Yes, Israel can win in Gaza.” More justification of conflict management, forever. And treating a slaughter as a victory.
Consider: According to Gaza sources, until the ground fighting started some 25% of the 500 dead were innocent civilians. The Israelis claimed that 20% of the casualties from the aerial attack were civilians. Either way, this was an extremely accurate bombing campaign….
So how did Israel do it? The only possible explanation is that people in Gaza have been informing the Israelis exactly where Hamas fighters and leaders are hiding, and where weapons are stored. No doubt some informers are merely corrupt, paid agents earning a living. But others must choose to provide intelligence because they oppose Hamas… Hamas completely disregards the day-to-day welfare of all Gazans in order to pursue its millenarian vision of an Islamic Palestine.
Some in Gaza must also resent Iran’s role in instigating the barrage of rockets fired on Israel. And all must know that the longer-range rockets are supplied by Iran along with money for Hamas leaders, while ordinary Palestinians languish in poverty….
Update: I added a key excerpt from Luttwak to this piece — his arming the rebels argument — after commenters pointed it out.