The events of the last week highlight the fact that it only takes one side to have a war. Some in the democratic world (you can guess who) would disagree with that concept. They like to think that if we just don’t fight back, there will be no war. Or, as they would put it, if we refuse to contribute to the “cycle of violence” there will be no cycle and therefore no violence (according to this view the Arabs, Pakistanis, and other Muslims are not smart enough to act; they can only mindlessly react). However, the bus bombings in India and the terrorist raids on Israel are the latest example of what happens when one side believes it is at war and the other does not.
Israel thought that by withdrawing its settlers and army from Gaza and building a wall it could keep the Palestinians from attacking Israelis. The idea was the Israelis don’t want a war so if they just separate from the Palestinians and don’t fight them, there won’t be a war. The problem is the Palestinians don’t agree with that proposition. Hamas wants Israel out of Israel, not just out of the Gaza strip. Not surprisingly they continued to fight Israel after the pullback. Far from destroying the terrorists’ legitimacy amongst the population, the terrorists were elected to run the Gaza government after the pullout. In addition to giving them control of the government, the Israeli pullout also gave the terrorists the time, freedom, and safety they needed to prepare spectacular attacks on Israel. They are also able to build more, bigger, and better rockets to launch into Israel. It seems that only now the Israelis are beginning to realize that since the Palestinians are spoiling for a fight there will be attacks on Israel regardless of Israel’s actions (well to clarify, the right always realized that, the middle is coming to realize it, and the left will never realize it). The situation with Hezbollah and Lebanon is a little different but close enough. Replace Hamas with Hezbollah and Gaza with Lebanon and you’ve corrected most of the differences.
India is similarly rediscovering that the terrorists will kill them whether the Indians are actively fighting them or not. Their predicament is very similar to Israel’s with Lebanon only on a far larger and nuclear scale. The train bombings occurred despite India’s recent rapprochement with Pakistan (opening rail links, border crossing, cricket games and such). Ties were largely severed following the attack on the Indian Parliament back in December 2001 by 5 Pakistani terrorists. Whether it is the Pakistani government, the military, or the Inter-Services Intelligence that is working with anti-Indian terror groups, these attacks are aided by someone in Pakistan. Whoever it is, they are doing this after a period during which the Indians have attacked Pakistan’s Parliament exactly 0 times, and never blew up any rush hour trains in Karachi.
Whichever way the Israelis and Indians decide to respond, the simple reality is that even choosing to do nothing will not end the violence. Thus far doing nothing has resulted in 14 Israeli soldiers being killed inside their own country in a single week (like 700 American soldiers being killed in a week by Mexican drug gangs along the southern border) and unprecedented numbers of rockets being launched ever deeper into Israel proper. In India doing nothing didn’t stop over 200 innocent civilians from being murdered while traveling home during rush hour. These are just two of the many countries finding themselves being attacked by Islamic radicals trying to enforce Islam’s “Brezhnev Doctrine”, once Dar es-Islam, always Dar es-Islam. They will face attacks until they either submit to Islamic rule, or forcefully persuade the terrorists’ Muslim supporters to stop supporting such attacks.
There are so many examples of this argument and its results just in the 20th Century that it would be impossible to list them all. Some of the bigger ones are France and Britain believing that Hitler could be talked out of his war, and Jimmy Carter thinking that detente would lead to a more peaceful U.S.S.R. The most related is our own “Phony War” with the terrorists during the 1990’s. Some, like myself, thought that 9/11 showed once and for all that being nice and pretending you’re not at war with someone who is at war with you does not work. You can pretend the terrorists are being, in Clinton’s Secretary of Defense’s words, “not sufficiently provocative enough”, and one morning you wake up to a couple of your nation's biggest and most iconic buildings being reduced to rubble. We can only hope the Israelis and Indians will learn from our mistake and not let this violence continue unanswered until a catastrophe of that scale hits them.