April 2, 2002


Victor Davis Hanson makes his own case infinitely better than I did below : History Isn't on the Palestinians' Side : Arafat's strategy is suicidal in more ways than one. (Victor Davis Hanson, April 2, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
The Arab world warns of its martial prowess and deadly anger--as American flags burn, threats to kill us are issued, and "the street" shakes its collective fist. But we Americans remember 1967, when we gave almost no weapons to the Israelis--but the Russians supplied lots of sophisticated arms to the Arabs. In the Six Day War, the state radio networks of Syria, Egypt and Jordan boasted to the world that their triumphant militaries were nearing Tel Aviv even as their frightened elites pondered abandoning Damascus, Cairo and Amman. And we recall the vaunted Egyptian air force in 1967, the invincible Syrian jets over Lebanon, the Mother of All Battles--and the Republican Guard that proved about as fearsome as Xerxes' Immortals at Thermopylae.

A beleaguered Arafat now wildly works his Rolodex for support for his autocracy. But history answers cruelly that strongmen in their bunkers are as impotent as they are loquacious--and as likely to receive disdain as pity. Moammar Gadhafi was a different man after the American air strike proved his military worthless and his person no longer sacrosanct. The rhetoric of the Taliban in September promised death; in October they and their minions went silent. In wars against bombers and terrorists, the past teaches us that peace comes first through their defeat--not out of negotiations among supposedly well-meaning equals.

We all would prefer, and should strive for, peaceful relations with the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Syrians--and all the other 20-something dictatorships, theocracies, and monarchies of the Middle East--as well as a state for the Palestinians. But the day is growing late; our patience is now exhausted; and sadly an hour of reckoning is nearing for all us all. The problem is, you see, that we know their history far better than they do.

It seems worthwhile recalling that Japan and Germany became liberal democratic allies only after we had brutally crushed them. One doubts that Palestine and Israel will ever be allies, but peace can probably only come after Israel demonstrates complete superiority and a willingness to apply it. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2002 8:51 PM
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