Sunday, August 3, 2014

YHWH Vult?

Over at Fabius Maximums' place the old Roman has a long post up discussing Israel in the light of the recent tsurris over Gaza. He brings up a number of salient issues that make the "success" of the Gaza beatdown problematic in the long term specifically in regards to the "4GW" concepts of the difficulty for a militarily strong polity to use its power differential effectively against a militarily weak opponent.

My thought, however, on reading the piece had much less to do with 21st Century theories and a lot more to do with 13th Century history.

Specifically; that to me the geopolitical position of Israel in the Levant seems almost impossible to distinguish from the Crusader States.

Like them, Israel is effectively a Western outlier in a hostile Middle Eastern sea. Like them, it had the initial advantage of political unity and military competence.

And, like them, I look at Israel today and see the internal dissension that follows the rise of the ultraorthodox and the erosion of the conventional warfighting skills of the IDF as it acts as a domestic constabulary as modern analogues for the fracturing of the Crusader Counties and Kingdoms and the gradual decline of the military supremacy of the Crusader armies as the Western Europeans began to lose their enthusiasm for crusading and the continual pressure from the successive waves of Middle Eastern polities - the Ayyubids, then the Mongols, then the Mamluks - ground down the incursor kingdoms.

The Western powers supported the establishment of a Western salient along the eastern Mediterranean that fought a more-or-less successful politico-military campaign of survival for 300 years. But in the end, just as Israel will discover, I suspect, the problem with their geopolitical position is that they just cannot sustain the costs of survival as a Western island in a Middle Eastern sea of hatred.

So viewed in that light actions like the present Gaza beatdown are in the long term a negative for the “intruders”. They succeed in crushing a local rival only to succeed in increasing the regional loathing for the crusader state.

Don't get me wrong; 300 years is a hell of a long time. More than one "country" hasn't lasted that long. I can easily see Israel hanging on for another century or two.

But cannot see it doing better in the long run than the Kingdom of Jerusalem did.


  1. Good analogy Chief. Agree with your conclusions. But I am wondering about the authenticity of the first photo. What is the source? It definitely does not look like Gaza. Lebanon maybe or some other war in a different location? I guess that high terrain could be Abu 'Awdah in SW Gaza. But is that an obelisk or a radio antenna in the left background?

  2. related

    I've used the crusaders analogy for years, and it is really one which should haunt the Israelis. They feel very safe with their Western support, but that would wane once interest wanes - and this may happen rapidly. They had their shock with the French in the 60's already, when Mirage supply was cut off becuase of their foreign policy.

  3. I thought about invoking the Crusader image as well but it feels to me like the Israelis have gone from disdainful irritation to outright rage. They have the capacity to kill everybody in Gaza but that would not help their cause.

  4. The thing I don't get about this Sven isn't that you had the same notion but that the idea isn't more widely discussed. My take on this is that if you're an Israel groupie you need to start from the position that "No, Israel is NOT going to end up like the Crusader States and this is why and this is why we should be their buddies..."

    Because otherwise, frankly, IMO you're arguing for a course of action that ended up REALLY badly the last time, with the Ottomans hammering on the gates of Vienna. Of course, the West won that round because of political and technological innovation. But Western superiority seems increasingly narrow these days.

    What's frustrating for ME personally is that I was of an age to remember when the Israelis and especially the IDF seemed heroic. One reason I wanted to be a paratrooper is being ten and seeing the pictures of the IDF paras at the Western Wall and reading about their fighting into Jerusalem. I followed the news of the Six-Day War intensely and cheered the Israelis on and was happy they won.

    Now the country I grew up thinking of as a tough little island of Western secular sanity in a religion-mad Middle East seems just as maddened and as God-addled as everyone else there. I hate what their Arab colonies have done to the Israel of my childhood. It was an illusion, like many childish things, but it was a very attractive illusion.

    1. The concept of antisemitism hurts the pro-Israel side, as they often believe antisemitism is what drives critique, even appropriate critique.
      This doesn't exactly help them to spot and address problems in Israel's patterns of behaviour and grand strategy.

      Another thing that doesn't help is the convenional military superiority of Israel over its neighbours, whose military forces were no exposed to be bare if at all sufficient to quell domestic opposition. This position fo strength is enticing - they can play cruise missile diplomacy at seemingly no costs.

      The unconditional support for Israel by the U.S (especially with UNSC veto) is another disservice, for it eliminates the most obvious backlash for troublemaking. It creates a false sense of strategic security even though all it takes to cut the U.S.-Israel ties is a president in his 2nd term
      (president has control of UNSC vote, can recognise Israel as nuclear power wich makes some old law kick in that says no nuclear power msut receive U.S. military aid and pro-Israel acts could be vetoed by him).

      It doesn't help that Europens look the other way and keep pretending Israel is a Europe-like country, which it isn't. We'd have roughed it up like Yugoslavia's long ago if it was in Europe.

      It doesn't help that the mass media runs the narrative that a solution in the Levante can only beone of negotiations. I suppose the people in power in the whole region are all way too sociopathic for a negotiation solution. The Western world should dictate them a solution, and make them yield fully - they are all 100% dependent on our tolerance.

      The Israelis have no short- or medium-term sanctions for their behaviour, and this keeps them from realising that their behaviour is self-destructive in the long term.

    2. I must have had some keyboard problems when I typed the former comment...

  5. S.O.: The Western world should dictate them a solution, and make them yield fully - they are all 100% dependent on our tolerance.

    Answer in a nutshell. Rather than Israel (and her supporters) trying to unilaterally impose a solution on the Palestinians, and thus, by extension, the Arab/Muslim world.

    It's kind of like a play on that famous line in A Few Good Men, except addressed by the world to both parties, not just one party to the other:

    You want sovereignty? You can't handle sovereignty!

    1. Nobody insisted on South Africa to negotiate with the Kaffers; everybody understood the balance of power was too imbalanced for successful negotiations.
      The rest of the world commenced to embargo South Arica instead.

  6. Did the crusaders do large population transfer?

    The Israeli's have removed most Palestinians from large chunks of Israel.

  7. Ael- Palestinians are not only "removed", but their ancestral ties to the land are invalid by Israeli law, especially as it pertains to "Right of Return".

    In 1978, I was approached by an organization called "Israel Aliyah" to consider making my aliyah (exercise "Right of Return") and perhaps joining the IDF. Seems that having been born to a Jewish mother, who remained Jewish all her life, I am a "born Jew". I said that I had been baptized Christian as an infant (my Father's faith), and had practiced the faith all my life. Seems infant baptism is considered "involuntary", so my right to immediate Israeli citizenship was intact. Now, the idea of "Return" was intellectually intriguing, as my mom was Belorus, and the family had lived there at least 5 centuries until my grandparents immigrated to the US in 1902. Where would I be 'returning" to? Definitely not a geo-political area with which my family had any significant physical association.

    The caller was quick to point out that his organization was an "American non-profit", not an arm of the IDF or Israeli government, neither of which could legally recruit for the IDF within the US. However, he could, should I wish to make an aliyah, tell me who to contact to do things voluntarily, and thus legally.

    A college classmate, a Roman Catholic Cuban immigrant to America, converted to Judaism when marrying a Jewish fellow. Neither he nor his family were remotely "observant", other than a couple of religious holidays, much like people "celebrate" Christmas and Easter. However, she, as a convert, has "Right of Return", even though they are marginally involved with the faith itself, and his family is of Hungarian/Lithuanian ancestry.

    An Orthodox Christian priest friend is the son of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi. The rabbi fled Jerusalem in 1941 for the US, where my friend was born. The family's roots in Jerusalem go back many generations. My friend was a fairly observant Jew until about 18 years of age, when he became Christian. Since he became Christian "voluntarily", he has no "Right of Return".

    A Palestinian Christian friend came to the US as a child with her parents in 1947. Her family lived in the Jerusalem area as far back as can be imagined. She has no "Right of Return". The land of her youth and ancestors has ceased to exist.

    The struggle to get Ethiopian Jews (Jewish since antiquity) the "Right of Return" was led by our next door neighbor, Dr Graenum Berger. All kinds of objections to their being allowed into Israeli were raised, to include the "purity" of the practices of some groups over the millennia. Better a non-practicing convert from NJ than a darkie, I guess.

    I wonder how loud the laughter would be if one of you guys nominally converted to Roman Catholicism and demanded Italian citizenship.

    So, amongst the perceptions of Palestinians is that the creation of the State of Israel obliterated any notion of an ancestral home of any sort, if it is currently claimed as Israeli territory, while it is the "ancestral home" for legions of others who have no real connection with the soil there whatsoever.

  8. The thing about Israel, Al, is that I am a "true neutral" on the whole issue of whether-or-not-there-should-be-an-Israel, other than my personal conviction that if Harry Truman wanted to endorse a Jewish state he should have offered up Utah.

    The modern Zionists were pretty much kidding about the "Right of Return". A European (or, hell, African or any other) Jew in 1946 had about as much connection with the land around the Jordan Valley as a modern Californian descended from German ancestors has with the Rhineland. Israel was founded the old-fashioned way - by conquest - and the current inhabitants of Israel have the same "right" to the land as the Normans had to 11th Century Sussex or my grandparents had to Utica, New York; the "right" of the victor, vae victus, the "right" of the strong to do what they will and the misfortune of the weak to suffer what they must...

    So the Pals are absolutely right in that sense; they have no less "right" to the land that is currently Israel than the Saxons of 1150 had to England or the Mohawks of 1781 had to Utica. And their only hope is to do what the Saxons and Mohawks couldn't and the Normans, Americans, and Zionist Israelis could; destroy the invaders, massacre those they can and drive out the rest.

    And, frankly, I don't really have a dog in that fight anymore. Israel was a nice little country that is becoming increasingly brutalized and polarized by decades of war. It is a democracy for the moment, though I get the strong sense that if it had to choose between being a Jewish state and a democratic state that democracy would lose big. It has nothing that I see as in the national interests of my country as I see them that is worth the enmity that support for Israel provokes in those that hate it who, unfortunately, in many cases DO have things that ARE of interest to my country.

    On an emotional level I don't want to see innocent Israelis butchered - any more than I want my tax-funded munitions butchering innocent Arabs - but on a purely unemotional level I don't see a reason to spend blood or treasure defending the 21st Century Crusader State...

  9. ...but I should add that I also don't wish the Arab enemies of Israel well. If Israel can better the record of the County of Antioch, if Israel can smash their Arab enemies, then more power to them.

    They just need to do it without U.S. tax dollars; that's my only caveat.

  10. Chief: "They just need to do it without U.S. tax dollars; that's my only caveat."

    Could the present mess have been arrived at without US tax and private dollars? There are allegedly 50 million "Christian Zionists" in the US. They have made a religious interest a national interest.

  11. Why does our treasure go virtually unquestioned to Israel, without regard for real, long term national interests. Here's one reason that has been offered.

    Whenever issues regarding the division of Jerusalem or the return of land in the disputed territories come up, John Hagee and other leading Christian Zionists call on an army of ready foot soldiers to exert immediate pressure on their political representatives. Lest you think that End-Timers are a fringe group, a 2004 Newsweek Poll found that 55% of Americans believe in the Rapture, the moment in which godly, born-again believers are whisked up to be with God in the blink of an eye. Add the fact that 42% of Americans believe that Israel was irrevocably deeded to the Jews by God, and there are more than enough demographic reasons for politicians to support Israel, even when that support might not be in the best interests of the United States.