February 23, 2004

War Thoughts

Is the palestinian struggle with Israel, a war? This is a definitional problem that is incredibly important. The entire idea of an armistice line from the 1967 war having any meaning depends on the idea that the palestinians are not fighting a war with Israel and that Israel has no justification for adjusting borders based on palestinian aggression.

But if Palestinians are fighting a war, it is a war that they are clearly losing and Israel has every right in the world to adjust borders based on the results of the conflict. To challenge that right is to challenge virtually every border the world over.

The problem that Israel faced was that the last time the international system seriously took account of non-state warfare was in the 30 Years War. It's been a long time since the Peace of Westphalia.

But is Israel bound by those Westphalian definitions anymore? If you take George W. Bush at his word, "The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States - and war is what they got" means that they don't because we (the US, a state) gave them (Al Queda, a non-state terrorist group with territorial ambitions) war. The precedent is there if Sharon wants to take it up and Europe would be caught in a bind if they protest Israel's following american precedent too strongly.

I've said before that this State of the Union speech was highly consequential. I doubt if Israel will not take the opportunity to take advantage of the new rules. The only question is how and when will they do it?

Posted by TMLutas at February 23, 2004 05:42 PM