Thursday, July 13, 2006

Zidane Is a Verb (like "Profane")

To Zidane is to implement the Powell Doctrine of using disproportionate, overwhelming force when confronting the enemy.

Colin Powell posited that a military that delivers only a proportional response allows the adversary to dictate how a war should be fought and what losses the enemy should suffer. A disproportionate response is the way to win a war and the way to deter future aggression.

Zinedine Zidane, of course, is the French soccer player who was the author of the now infamous head-butting of defender Marco Materazzi who allegedly called him the "son of a terrorist whore".

Zidaning is happening before our eyes on the world political stage. After months of taking relatively little action in response to terror, murder, bombardment and other provocations, Israel finally managed to prove itself to be the victim of military attacks and aggression on two fronts.

Weeks ago, the military wing of the Hamas dug a tunnel under an Israeli checkpoint (inventive !) on the border with Gaza, killed two Israelis soldiers and captured another, Gilad Shalit. This was an act of war, not terrorism; Shalit is a P.O.W., not a hostage.

Similarly, Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped the two Israelis during a cross-border raid Wednesday, then returned to Lebanon. This, too was an act of war, even if asymmetrical. The two captives are P.O.W.'s, not hostages.

In both cases, Israel has resorted to a Zidanian degree of retaliation, out of proportionality to the original attack. I don't quarrel with either action. Israel has a right to defend itself, and to retaliate when attacked. However, an alternative was possible: at least in the earlier Gaza case, Israel could have traded P.O.W.'s!

I have always maintained the Israelis and Palestinians deserved each other and their combined destiny of behaving like two scorpions confined in the same bottle. Both have been led by statesmenship - if that's the word - with deeply flawed vision.

My concern has always been with American statesmanship. Wherever and whenever my country could have contributed its even-handed good offices in the Palestinian sphere, it has failed to do so. Indeed, quite the contrary: the United States has managed to become totally identified with Israeli encroachment and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian lands in the West Bank to the point that a two state solution is not (now) possible.

So, Israel has the right to defend itself against actions it has largely brought upon itself by its own actions. My government (of America) has properly pointed this out.

But I do not see where it's justified to go to such lengths as has Frederick Jones, spokesman for the White House National Security Council:
The United States condemns in the strongest terms this unprovoked act of terrorism, which was timed to exacerbate already-high tensions in the region and sow further violence.
This was not unprovoked and not terrorism.
We also hold Syria and Iran, which directly support Hizbollah, responsible for this attack and the ensuing violence.
Israel is completely innocent?
We condemn in the strongest terms Hizbollah's unprovoked attack on Israel and the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers.
There is no kidnapping in war; only taking of prisoners.
We call for immediate and unconditional release of the two soldiers.
How about calling for a negotiated trading of P.O.W.'s?

Israel will Zidane Gaza and Lebanon, if it must. But we don't have to go along on the ride. It's past time for us (U.S.) to get off this bus.