Monday, August 14, 2006

Threat of Force versus Use of Force

Or – why the United States and Israel should bark loudly rather than attempt to bite.

March 19, 2003 U.S. bombs begin to reign down on Baghdad. U.S. Secretary of Defense tells the world that the military force to be brought to bear against Iraq is unprecedented in the annals of history. The world watches in horror, protest and fascination as the world’s only superpower, with a military budget that rivals that of the rest of the world combined, moves against the country of Iraq.

Not far from Baghdad, and looking forward to having the United States as a neighbor, Israel sits securely on the banks of the Mediterranean. Although numerically outnumbered, Israeli firepower is regionally unmatched. Ever since the Six Day War, Israeli military prowess appears invincible.

Fast forward to August 14, 2006. After a month of brutal combat in Lebanon the Israelis were forced by events on the ground to withdraw their objectives (i.e. the disarming of Hizbollah) and accept an immediate cease fire. Likewise, after three years of brutal combat the United States is incapable of securing the six mile stretch of highway from the airport to the “Green Zone.” In fact, the entire country appears to be rapidly sliding towards civil war with local Sunni insurgents, Shiite death squads (who may or may not be part of the Salvadoran Option), local neighborhood street patrols, disaffected youth, foreign Jihadists, and criminal elements all taking aim at each other.

The facts on the ground are simple: Overwhelming military force (i.e. United States and Israel) does not equal military victory. In fact, as recent events in the Middle East have demonstrated, the use of military force in an “asymmetrical environment,” where a military force must oppose the will (or chaos) of a significant percentage of a people, weighs in favor of the local people. Nor is this the first time that overwhelming force sas proven incapable of opposing the local will. The outcome of the Vietnam conflict and the long festering guerrilla wars in Central America have shown the impotence of overwhelming fire power.

Applied military aggression (such as Israel’s invasion of Lebanon or the U.S. occupation of Iraq) may result in the following six post war "blow back" consequences:

(a) Slippery Slope syndrome: An erosion of fear of the military power of either the United States or Israel

(b) The Day After Game Plan: The study of the superpower's failed military tactics by potential enemies (as Hezbollah studied the Vietnam War) and others are studying Hezbollah’s battle with Israel

(c) Bobby Fisher, Kasparov and Big Blue: The maneuvering of potential enemies to checkmate the bogged down power (as North Korea and Iran have sped up their nuclear and ballistic ambitions following the American invasion of Iraq)

(d) The Mouse that Roars: The possible encouragement of a military encounter with the United States by second and third tier leaders in order to decapitate the leadership of their country - through U.S. force - and maneuver themselves into postwar power

(e) David versus Goliath Syndrome: The growing popularity of the opposing group who “stands up” to the "power" by simply surviving the conflict (today Hezbollah is far more popular in both Lebanon and the Muslim world than it was prior to the war), declaring victory after the encounter

(f) The Afghanistan-Somalia *Vacation* Destination: The invaded country becomes a failed state, thus allowing criminal and terrorist elements to use it as a training and staging ground

Given the aforementioned consequences of military action, the best current course of action for regional and super powers to follow is to threaten force rather than pursue force.

True and lasting peace will result, not through force of arms of one nation, but through dialogue and alliance.

The Rose Crescent House of Peace concurs with One of the Apostles of Muhammad (PBUH) for our day, Baha’u’llah, an honorary Elder of the Rose Crescent, who pointed to the next step in our future by revealing that:

“The time must come when the imperative necessity for the holding of a vast, an all-embracing assemblage of men will be universally realized…Such a peace demandeth that the Great Powers should resolve, for the sake of the tranquility of the peoples of the earth, to be fully reconciled among themselves. Should any king take up arms against another, all should unitedly arise and prevent him. If this be done, the nations of the world will no longer require any armaments, except for the purpose of preserving the security of their realms and of maintaining internal order within their territories. This will ensure the peace and composure of every people, government and nation.” (Gleanings, p. 249)

The Rose Crescent promotes a non-violent position towards conflict resolution.


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