Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Other Face of Modern Warfare: The U.K. Battlefront in the Israel-Palestine War

The Americans are busy justifying military campaigns.  Barack H. Obama, Remarks by the President at the Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize, Oslo City Hall, Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10, 2009
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth:  We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes.  There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. . . .  I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people.  For make no mistake:  Evil does exist in the world.  A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler's armies.  Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda's leaders to lay down their arms.  To say that force may sometimes be necessary is not a call to cynicism -- it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason." Id.
These sentiments are a luxury most safely enjoyed by the powerful.  But nearly a  decade after the start of the Afghan War, the American (and coalition) forces have yet to be able to pacify the state and secure a victory (as such things are conventionally understood).  The Americans are discovering that, the military aspects of campaigns are proving to be the least satisfying.  The war between Islam and the Jews, politely referenced as the Arab-Israeli or Palestine-Israel Wars, may provide a better marker than Mr. Obama's efforts, to show the modern face of conflict.

Two recent stories nicely show the way in which war has evolved--from military conflicts fought with weapons between armies or irregular forces, to global conflicts among lawyers and regulators.  The first story is the more conventional of the two.  At the behest of "Palestinians", a U.K. court issued an arrest warrant against the former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to call her to account in British courts for the actions of Israel in one phase of its military campaigns against its Palestinian adversaries. UK ponders law change after Tzipi Livni arrest warrant, BBC News Online, Dec. 15, 2009.
The warrant was granted by a London court at the request of Palestinian plaintiffs, provoking Israeli anger. . . . Pro-Palestinian campaigners have tried several times to have Israeli officials arrested under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which holds that some alleged crimes are so grave that they can be tried anywhere, regardless of where the offences were committed.  Id.
Though the action was speedily revoked at the instance fo the government, the point had been made.  The best way to isolate an enemy is to deny it access to territories beyond that controlled by its armed forces. 
Oct 2009: Former military chief Moshe Yaalon cancelled a UK visit because of fears of arrest for alleged war crimes
Oct 2009: Filed attempt to raise warrant against Defence Minister Ehud Barak. Court ruled he had diplomatic immunity
Sept 2005: Arrest warrant issued for a former head of Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip Gen Doron Almog. He received warning before disembarking from an aircraft at Heathrow Airport, and flew back to Israel.  Id.
Lawyers now more visibly assume the role of soldiers in global armies, the objectives of which are to disable the enemy.  This doe snot require killing, as it does to carefully aim law and law systems to deprive an enemy of its protection.

The second story is more interesting, and perhaps more telling.  Palestinians have convinced U.K. authorities to use labeling laws to attack the economic viability of Israeli settlement communities operating on disputed territory. Food labels advice change over Palestinian territories, BBC News Online, Dec. 11, 2009.
UK food labels are set to distinguish between goods from Palestinians in the occupied territories and produce from Israeli settlements.  Food packaging guidelines advise a change from labels usually naming only Israel or West Bank as the source. . . .  The new guidelines recommend that food labels in supermarkets should bear the phrases "Israeli settlement produce" or "Palestinian produce".
The effect was to dissociate the government from a policy it officially rejects but appears unofficially to support.  "The government said it was opposed to a boycott of Israeli goods, but that the settlements posed an obstacle to peace. " Id. By veiling action behind regulation, it can serve as another battle site over effective control fo the territories now in dispute. 
Manuel Hassassian, Palestinian general Delegate to the UK, said: "We welcome this. We have been calling for this for two years, since we began lobbying major British supermarkets when we discovered that they were routinely selling products marked 'produce of the West Bank' which were in fact the produce of illegal settlements. "This is a very positive response by the British government."

And, of course, this was a necessary step in the construction of the expulsion of Israel from global markets.  With the invocation of labeling rules, the recently called for boycott of settlement made goods, adopted by an umbrella group of British unionists, can be more easily effected.   TUC votes to back Israeli boycott, BBC News Online, Sept. 17, 2009. "Union members have voted to support a boycott of goods produced in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Delegates at the TUC in Liverpool backed the move in protest at Israel's military campaign in Gaza in January."  Id.  Step by step, this economic campaign will have a greater effect than the firing of several hundred small missiles at the Israeli civilian population from Gaza.  This is understood by the allies of the combatants.  "Hugh Lanning, chairman of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said it was a "landmark" decision."  Id.  But it also evidences the importance of the European battlefront in the way between these peoples.
 
The result--the Israel-Palestine Wars have gone both global and virtual.  No longer confined to that small space that defines the territory that will eventually be split between these two volk, war now involves economic markets, regulators and courts, as well as soldiers, guns, and military strategists,  Like markets, warfare is no longer territorially bound.  While its objectives may be control of specific territory, the campaigns for such objectives can be  fought virtually anywhere.  And indeed, taking the war to allied territory in a virtual way has the benefit of advancing military objectives without activating Western squeamishness about casualties.  These stories suggest that, rather than focusing on the military front lines, the critical battelfields in the Israel-Palestine wars are far from the territories of either.  And it is this kind of war that will lijkely become more common, as the human cost of conventional warfare moves states to different, more efficient, forms of conflict.  See, Pentagon preps for economic warfare, Politico, Yahoo News, April 9, 2009 ("The Pentagon sponsored a first-of-its-kind war game last month focused not on bullets and bombs — but on how hostile nations might seek to cripple the U.S. economy, a scenario made all the more real by the global financial crisis. ").
The war game demonstrated that in post-Sept. 11 world, the Pentagon is thinking about a wide range of threats to America’s position in the world, including some that could come far from the battlefield.
And it’s hardly science fiction. China recently shook the value of the dollar in global currency markets merely by questioning whether the recession put China’s $1 trillion in U.S. government bond holdings at risk – forcing President Barack Obama to issue a hasty defense of the dollar.
“This was an example of the changing nature of conflict,” said Paul Bracken, a professor and expert in private equity at the Yale School of Management who attended the sessions. “The purpose of the game is not really to predict the future, but to discover the issues you need to be thinking about.” Id.
And so the future of conflict unfolds. "In the modern world, law is deployed to channel the use of power to manage disputes--to render conflicts less bloody and more costly. . . .  Small wars, little and contained hot conflicts are tolerated as the precise movements of pieces in the greater game, but no such small move is allowed to get in the way of the ultimate goal--the preservation of human and other assets for the benefit of those who control them as they are passed around and their utility maximized among those who manage these things."  Larry Catá Backer, Skunk: Israel Advances Non-Lethal Methods of Social Control, The Palestinian Government May be the First to Purchase It, Law at the End of the Day,  Nov. 8, 2008; see also, Larry Catá Backer, The Devil’s Advocate: The West, the Invincible Guerrilla, the Value of Violence and the Rise of a Management Model of War, Law at the End of the Day, August 7, 2006; Larry Catá Backer, Manging the Warfare of the Oppressed--Containing the Exuberance of Darfur Warriors Law at the End of the Day, May 11, 2008.
 

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Although personally I am quite content with existing explosives, I feel we must not stand in the path of improvement.

Anonymous said...

The next time ye dance, wit whom ye take by the hand.

Anonymous said...

I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is a much better policy to prophesy after the event has already taken place.
An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.

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Anonymous said...

Human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.
Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.

Anonymous said...

An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty.
A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things. There will be sleeping enough in the grave.

Anonymous said...

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government
If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.

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