(The uses of) Violence
With the conflict between the PKK and the Turkish Government in the news now, with the three bombings in Turkey yesterday, I was thinking about how violence is used to further political aims. It is very easy to condemn violence and killing, when one does not have something to fight for. However, the old nation states of Europe, such as England, France, Spain and Holland have all come into being with a large dose of violence and in some respects we are reaping the benefits of people having fought on our country's behalf in the past.
Turkey came into existence in very difficult circumstances in the last centuries and a response to the break-up of the centuries old Ottoman Empire. Drastic measures, including the possible/probable genocide of the Armenians, were taken by Ataturk to establish the nation state of Turkey. The feud with the Kurds is a left-over from that and subsequent eras and, in that, respect, is something which should be capable of being understood, even if one does not support the tactics being used. I would hope that in this instance, the Kurds could better rely on Turkey's aim to become a member of the EU as leverage to ensure that their claims and rights and treatment within Turkey are improved. And that seems to be what is happening in the main, the violence now being perpetrated by splinter groups.
Moving along to Lebanon and the destruction wreaked by Israel..... I read this article recently:
"On 12 July 2006 the Israeli chief-of-staff granted us an insight into the subtleties of his nation's military thinking. The military operations being planned for the Lebanon, he told us, would "turn back the clock by twenty years". Well, I was there twenty years ago, and it wasn't a pretty picture. Since then, the lieutenant-general has been as good as his word. I am writing this just twenty-eight days after Hizbullah captured two Israeli soldiers, a common enough military practice not unknown to the Israelis themselves.
In that time, 932 Lebanese have been killed and more than 3,000 wounded. 913,000 have become refugees. Israel's dead number ninety-four, with 867 wounded. In the first week of this conflict, Hizbollah fired some ninety rockets a day into Israel. Last week – despite 8,700 unopposed bombing sorties flown by the Israeli air force, resulting in the crippling of Beirut's international airport, and the destruction of power-plants, fuel-dumps, fishing-fleets, 147 bridges and seventy-two roads – Hizbollah upped its daily average of rockets to 169. And those two Israeli prisoners who were the purported cause of all the fuss have still not come home.
So yes. Exactly as we were warned, Israel has indeed done to the Lebanon what it did to it twenty years ago: laid waste its infrastructure and visited collective punishment on a delicate, multicultural, resilient democracy that was struggling to reconcile its sectarian differences and live in profitable harmony with its neighbours."
An awful lot of damage and killing for nothing and it seems clear that the Israeli people are aware of this. Not that they seem to be too upset that their government has wreaked such destruction on their neighbour, but more that they did not get back the two soldiers or destroy Hizbollah.
Taking this further, there might come the shock of understanding that violence and aggression can not get you as far in the world as you think. You cannot always achieve your ams with military strength. For a country which has always armed itself to the maximum, this must be quite worrying, especially when they see their best friend the US having similar problems in achieving its military aims in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If your aims are not realistic and if you have not first tried to sort out problems through negotiation and diplomacy, you will find that military strength and aggression will not get you as far as you might expect. Once this is realised, maybe the powerful states like the US and Israel will try harder to find long term peaceful solutions rather than enter into 'popular' wars which become very unpopular because, despite all the propaganda, people (voters) will realise after a while that the war has failed.
In fact, I have been thinking for a long time that we humans think we are capable of a lot more than we actually are capable of. Time to become a bit more humble, I think.