Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Israel and Hezb'allah and all that jazz

During the current spectacle in Lebanon, some random thought sediments have settled in my brain:

Gandhi's strategy of non-violence worked pretty well when meeting an enemy opposed to senseless slaughter. I doubt it would have worked overly well on Djenghis Khan. But it can be formulated as a reasonably succesful strategy in game theoretic terms. Another strategy is fighting back, or guerilla war. It seems - if we are to believe reports of massive civilian support of Hezb'allah - that they have hit upon something which is more or less the ultimate game theoretic strategy: Fight, but behind willing human shields. The human shields do the Gandhi work, whereas the fighting strikes down your enemy.

I'm not drawing any moral conclusions here; just making an observation. I think cynicism is the best view when judging the conflicts around Israel, and take no sides because there is no side I would really like to be on - only against, or preferrably very far away from.

It reminds me a bit of a battle when Germany was invading the Soviet Union: The Soviet Union ran out of guns, and instead sent just masses and masses of unarmed soldiers at the Germans, until their own slaughter fatigued them, and they were overrun by the Soviets. I can't recall the name of the battle, but the strategy has some semblance to Hizbollah's, except the blurred dividing line between combattant and non-combattant.

Of course, the problem with intelligent leaders with intelligent strategies like that is that the leaders of the other side will ultimately evolve into the only type of leader that can handle the civilian/soldier blurry-lines: The indiscriminately killing Djenghis Khans; you know, the guy whose nephew razed all of Baghdad. In Hitler's case, the solution was "hardening camps" for the SS Officers, so that they wouldn't be so prone to weaken from slaughter fatigue. Their hardening camps? Yep, the extermination camps like Auschwitz. The theory and practice being that once you had been through that - done all those atrocities - you could be commanded to do anything, and you would perform.

So I sometimes fear for the near future of civilization. Stalin-Gandhis vs. indiscriminate Hitler Khans. I don't quite know which "smart" side to run away from, but I'll try to keep a remote island in mind.


Blogger Einzige said...

I was reading an article recently that said that the non-violent protest strategy no longer works because it's too easy for moles to pretend to be a part of the protest and then incite violence (or initiate it), which then gets blamed on all the rest of the protestors.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Einzige said...

Oh--as far as remote islands go, I hear New Zealand is pretty nice.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Solan said...

That's a problem plaguing most mass demonstrations - or mass events for that matter: Hooligans infiltrating the crowd; either for purposes of violence, or for looting - or preferrably both.

5:11 AM  
Blogger Solan said...

New Zealand is tempting. Have you seen the extras on the Lord of the Rings DVDs?

5:33 AM  
Blogger Einzige said...

I've been meaning to watch those DVDs. I just can't find an extra 20 hours to spare.


11:08 AM  
Blogger strange7 said...

Why are you considering this as two separate strategies? "Willing human sheild" is just another part of the modern combined-arms arsenal, the troop type you build when you want armor but lack industrial capacity. "Compassionless death-dealer" is the correspondingly specialized anti-armor unit, which is better at killing in general than the more generic citizen-soldier but also more expensive to produce and maintain, and not really worth the cost outside the context of cutting down swarms of underequipped enemies.

If you don't like having someone on your team who's willing to kill a thousand unarmed women and children, it's easy to fix: just buy the other team a thousand rifles. If you don't like having your team get shot at in the first place, buy the other side some food instead.

2:35 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home