COMMENT

The costs of war

By Nikos Xydakis

There is nothing really unique about recent developments in Ukraine and Gaza, which regrettably led to the death of innocent civilians.

Military forces have shot down civilian planes in the past and, as on previous occasions, no one claimed responsibility for the killings. Such actions raise fears of a far greater threat, fears of a regional war that could claim the lives of people who are not directly involved in the conflict. In some cases, these people may actually live thousands of miles away from the battlefield.

This diversification of conflict, as it were, is a characteristic of war in our globalized era, particularly after terms such as “clash of civilizations” and the “axis of evil” entered the vernacular. Military and telecommunications technologies develop and spread, reaching the hands of more and more people. Conflicts in places like Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Iraq demonstrate that territorial control often eludes tactically superior forces.

Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza is a case of unconventional conflict carried out by a regular army, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the world’s most battle-hardened army. The IDF seeks to turn the Palestinian militia’s guerrilla tactics into a disadvantage with the help, of course, of its unmatched military superiority. The IDF has, for example, used house demolition as a counterinsurgency security measure aimed at disrupting the network used by Palestinian fighters. The army has effectively undone the landscape to suit its needs.

Also of course, in this case, war is not some smart game involving high-accuracy strikes. It never is. The battlefield involves civilians, women and children and the infirm who comprise the most casualties. An asymmetrical war in Palestine could leave Israel with some more territory, but at what price? The blood of innocent children will haunt the Israeli people, unquenched hatred will be bequeathed to the following generations. It is a mess that just gets messier. Grabbing more chunks of blood-stained land will only make Israel smaller.

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