Hamas’ “Heroes” — and the need for total victory over evil

I have an embarrassing confession to make:  When I was young, one of my favorite shows was Hogan’s Heroes.  I found it a weekly marvel to see the dashing, clever Colonel Hogan run rings around the Germans.  Nor was I at all perturbed by the asymmetry of it all, with the Germans portrayed as bumbling nincompoops, as compared to the ridiculously accomplished POWs.  To me, it seemed eminently logical that the good guys would be smart and competent, while the bad guys would be yahoos — evil, but still yahoos.

As I child, good and competent versus evil and incompetent seemed like a fair fight. And I still think that way.

I mention this all because of the usual cries of outrage about the asymmetry in Israel’s attack on Gaza.  The thinking on the Left (and you can see it in a thousand op-ed and news stories from America and the rest of the world) is that Israel, because she is vastly more efficient and effective when it comes to warfare, should not fight back.  “It’s not fair!” is the cry that is raised when Israel, having suffered through thousands of rocket attacks, finally says “Enough” and goes in with surgical precision to remove the rocket launchers and the men who fire them.  The usual suspects, even those who concede that Hamas is an exceptionally malevolent organization, just can’t stomach the sight of bad men — men whose entire life purpose is the slaughter of innocents — themselves getting killed.

I see things entirely differently.  In the case of Hamas, evil is measured by intent and acts.  Members of Hamas have as their stated goal the desire to kill as many Israelis (especially vulnerable civilians) as possible.  Their acts are entirely consistent with those goals.  For months now, they have fired as many missiles as they possibly could into Israel.  The know that what they lack in ability will eventually be made up for by sheer volume and dumb luck.  (As an aside, keep in mind that a large part of the Soviet strategy against the Germans was to force the Germans to use up time and munitions against the millions of bodies, so many tragically unarmed and untrained, that the Soviets kept throwing in their path.)  The evil that is Hamas is made even more manifest by the fact that, to offset their incompetency, the Hamas soldiers hide amongst the women and children.  If you can’t be efficient, be diligent and surround yourself by soft camouflage, right?

Because Hamas is devoted to evil acts, it should not be rewarded for its ineptitude.  It is entirely appropriate that it be defeated.  It’s ludicrous, therefore, for the world to argue that the only appropriate way to defeat Hamas is to approach it with an equal degree of primitive weaponry and inefficient tactics.  That way lies madness.

Sadly, though, Israel itself buys into this madness.  A moral country, she is horrified by the depravity into which Hamas (or Hezbollah) pulls her and, every time, when she is on the cusp of a determinative outcome, she pulls back to save the innocents.  One has to ask, though, how many innocents (by which I mean children, who have no control over the situation in which they find themselves) are ultimately saved if Israel repeatedly leaves enough of Hamas standing so that it can regroup and continue its self-imposed apocalyptic battle?  Sometimes, total conquest is the most merciful end to a battle.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m reading Rabbi Joseph Teluskin’s Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible.  He recounts God’s mandate when the Jews left the desert and entered Canaan:  kill all the Canaanites.  To modern sensibilities, this is a horrific directive, and one with which modern Jews and Christians have struggled mightily.  Yes, it was the normative approach to conquest three thousand years ago and, yes, God mandated it, but those two explanations don’t assauge our distress at the death of the innocents.  I do think, though, that there is a certain pure logic in it, a logic that arises once one decides, for whatever reason, to conquer a land.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking border or territory skirmishes when I say this.  Instead, we’re talking about conquest.  The Jews conquered Canaan because it was their God promised land.  The Allies conquered Germany and Japan because those two nations, having started the war, made it apparent that only complete conquest would end it.  And Israel, clinging to her 300 x 150 mile patch of land, considers herself already the conqueror having won the land through purchase, League of Nations Directives, UN mandates, and the spoils of previous defensive wars.

The fact is, you cannot be said to have conquered a land — you cannot remake it in your own image — if there remains a critical mass of hostile indigenous people.  The Bible shows that, despite God’s mandate, the Jews did not kill all the Baal worshipping Canaanites, and these people proved to be a practical, military and moral thorn in Israel’s flesh for centuries to come.  Conversely, the Allies did defeat a critical mass of the indigenous people in Germany and Japan and were able to rebuild both countries as strong Democratic entitities.  And modern Israel, repeating the errors or her Biblical forbearers, has “conquered” a land without ever having taken it over.  Her morals are exemplary; her tactics, less so.

My thinking is now, as it was when I watched Hogan’s heroes:  that evil is incompetent is a blessing and should not be treated as a curse.  It also doesn’t give evil a pass.  If you have visited your moral compass, if you truly believe that the opposing party is not merely misguided but genuinely evil and determined on your destruction, and if you decide that the only way to deal with that opposing party is warfare — YOU MUST WIN THAT WAR.  There is no middle ground of compromise.  There is only victory.  As the Allies showed after WWII, victory can be incredibly magnanimous, must you must have victory before you have magnanimity.  Do it backwards, and your ass is cooked.

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  • suek

    Remember…the term that the muslims use is “hudna”. It’s usually translated as a ceasefire. It isn’t. It means “We’re losing. Let’s call it off till we’ve pulled it all together again.” I don’t think there’s an exact English translation for that. The proper response, however is: “Attack!!”

    Not exactly in the same vein, but if you haven’t seen this yet, you should:


  • Charles Martel

    If Israel were to decide on a course of total war against Hamas, what could the rest of the world do about it besides wring its hands?

    Send a U.N. army to punish Israel or occupy it? (The mind reels at the image of seasoned IDF troops going up against the chickenshit flower of German or Belgian manhood.)

    Or, better yet, a firmly worded Security Council condemnation?

    A threat by The One to, uh, um, do, er, um something or, eh, er, another?

    Forceful “cease and desists!” from the New York Times and Cindy Sheehan?

    The Arabs mass their dysfunctional armies on the borders and ululate in unison?

    The Fwench threaten to start hating Jews again. (Oh, wait a minute: When did they ever stop?)

  • Danny Lemieux

    There are some very interesting undercurrents going on here.

    Notably, the Egyptians and Palestinian Authority have condemned Hamas. I suspect that many of the Arab countries are gleeful that the IDF is hammering the Iranian-linked Hamas, even if they can’t admit it in private.

    Most of the Arab countries are terrified of a rising and dominant Iran and know well that Hamas and Hezbollah are Iranian proxies. They also know they can’t be certain about the new, untested incoming U.S. President and that Israel is the only thing that really stands between them and Iran.

    One very interesting development that may take place in 2009 is that we may see a new Iraq being much more open to Israel, given that they have a common enemy in Iran.

    As far as the Israelis versus Palestinians, I can’t think of a people that have done more historically to extend a helping, supporting hand to the Palestinians than the Israelis. They certainly have done more than any of the surrounding Arab countries. Whenever I feel frustrated because of the perceived timidity of the Israelis in dealing with the “Palestinian Problem”, I remind myself that however misguided they may be, the Israelis act that way because of their fundamental human goodness, something that seems sadly missing in the Palestinian powers-that-be…and their Bonobo Lefty acolytes in America and Europe.

    As Golda Meir said, peace will come when Palestinian mothers learn to love their children more than they hate Jews. Until then, the Palestinians (as a group) are pretty much at the tail-end of the long line of people in this world deserving of sympathy. Oh well!

  • Ymarsakar

    must you must have victory

    but you must.

    Are you beginning to accept the Jacksonian proposition concerning Total War, Book?

  • Ymarsakar


    Hizbollah is controlled by Iran but Hamas is a Sunni organization with a different origin point.

    There is some cooperation, inspite of their ideological differences, but they are usually self-contained.

  • Ymarsakar

    On January 26, 2006, Hamas won a stunning victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections that gave it a decisive majority in the legislature. Election officials say Hamas won 76 of the 132 seats in parliament, while the Fatah party, which had dominated Palestinian politics for decades, secured only 43. By winning a significant majority in parliament, Hamas was in a strong position to oppose negotiations with Israel and support a greater role for Islam in the everyday life of Palestinians.

    The reason why Total War doesn’t work on terrorists, unless you are willing to execute the family members of terrorists and the civilians who they use as shields, is because a nation needs another nation as an enemy if Total War is to be conducted. In all the cases before, Hamas was a terrorist/charity organization, like an NGO. Any attempt to take them out was always independent of the grand strategic vision that would hold for the actual national boundaries of the West Bank or Gaza, because there were no national boundaries for Palestine there. Just territorial limits.

    Now that Hamas has their own nation, you can initiative Total War policies and objectives. This is a byproduct of pulling out of Gaza and the West Bank and adopting a defensive tactical position, so as to provide yourself with a pretext and justification for launching a campaign of utter obliteration on your enemies. Instead of treating them as individual terrorists or even non-government organizations, declare war, declare that you will reciprocate Palestinian attacks against Israeli citizens, declare that punitive and retributive policies will be initiated, and that this will end with the unconditional surrender of the government of Palestine (which is Hamas).

    They won’t surrender, but that means you can destroy all of their organization, if that organization is in the West Bank or Gaza. Fatah, because they part of the Palestinian nation, will also be targets. You may kill enough of the fanatics that the moderates have to stage a coup or something, but whatever they do will have to be substantial enough to unconditionally surrender Palestine.

    A well organized campaign like this will provide you more cover and more actual gains than the Russian pretexted invasion of Georgia.

  • David Foster

    When the US and Britain were threatened by Nazi Germany and the Japanese Empire, we burned whole cities to the ground. When we were threatened by expansioninst Soviet Communism, we stood ready–for 40 years–to kill 100 million Russians with the dispatch of a launch code.

    The violence used by Israel in the current campaign is pretty minor by comparison.

  • Ymarsakar

    The violence used by Israel in the current campaign is pretty minor by comparison.

    That’s why it can sustain itself for centuries to come.

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