Ross: When deterrence doesn’t work with the Gaza War
Nov 27, 2023, 7:30 AM | Updated: 9:37 am
(AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)
Beyond the debate over who has the moral high ground, the Gaza War is teaching us how quickly a conflict between two groups can rip away the veneer of civilization.
This is a small war as wars go, but it strikes at the heart of the philosophy that is supposed to be saving the rest of the world from a similar fate:
The idea that the way to create security is to build a military so strong that no one dares attack you. That by threatening massive retaliation we can prevent violence. So we keep building more powerful weapons in hopes the world will be more peaceful.
But what happens when a group as ruthless as Hamas emerges and decides to attack precisely BECAUSE it will create massive retaliation?
That’s the part of the plan that believers in deterrence never talk about.
Deterrence only works if it motivates negotiation, compromise, sharing resources, doing whatever it takes so that peace seems preferable to war. Without that, it’s insanity.
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So I’d suggest governments take a lesson from this: don’t assume that threats of massive retaliation alone will keep the peace. Because Hamas has proved you can train men to be ruthless enough to start a cycle of mutual revenge that can destroy entire cities in a very short time. And that’s with conventional weapons.
Most of us are not ready for that. We freak out if the Internet goes down for an hour.
What’s happening between Israel and Hamas may be half a world away – but that doesn’t seem as far as it used to.
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