Mitigo Delenda Est

July 27, 2009 at 3:53 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , )

There has been much talk of demilitarisation, of late.

Surrendered German submarines docked in Britain - 1918

Surrendered German submarines docked in Britain - 1918

Historically though, demilitarisation doesn’t seem to work out so well and when it does, the success is rather one sided…

Usually, when a party involved in a conflict “demilitarises” it does so under threat from a powerful adversary.

Carthage was forced to abdicate from arming a navy and from waging war against its neighbours. In the end they defended themselves against an insolent Numidian attack and were punished by Rome with genocide and oblivion. Post Napoleonic France had the temporary same fate. Germany was utterly humiliated in the aftermath of its surrender in 1918 whose terms specified an airforce and a navy were forbidden to the Weimar republic and only an incipient army was allowed to protect the most powerful nation in Europe.

During the Cold War, Soviet propaganda and KGB provocateurs instigated idealists all over Europe to march for unilateral disarmament. Pacifists becoming a media fifth column in NATO countries. With glasnost, the USSR entertained the notion of demilitarising eastern Europe but Gorbachov’s goodwill was politely ignored by NATO.

Today there are those who defend that a disarmed Palestine is inevitable for the security of Israel. Others advocate nuclear disarmament.

Disarmament is the goal of war according to Sunzi (Sun Tzu) but to disarm the enemy does not imply to leave extensions of territory undefended or forcefully make neutral, major geopolitical powers.

A state, by its very definition, needs military force to exercise sovereignty. Realists mistrust state-building as it is, and to “build” one without armed forces of its own can mean one of two things: either we are dealing with a protectorate or with a political fiction.

If Palestine is to be a state, it must retain armed forces of its own. This might actually contribute to a unification of Palestinian militias and the possible end or scaling down of terrorism. If Israel has security concerns, such as the weak strategic depth of the Herzliyya-Qalqilyah Stretch, it should negotiate partial DMZs with the Palestinians as it is doing with Syria regarding the Golan.

For those of us who fear that the Arab-Israeli conflicts are far from over and that a potential Palestinian independence is a fait-diver, an armed Palestine would allow for more responsibility and accountability to be inputted on the ever-victimised Palestinian side. If Palestine is to become a protectorate – Israeli or Arab – then demilitarisation is logical. This solution however provides for no change comparing to what there is now.

toughdove8qcThe Israeli side may feel tempted to prolong the status quo but it should be aware and prepared for the negative consequences for its relations with western universalist societies.

There are situations in which disarmament makes sense, such as with the creation of buffer zones – Finland is a good example – but such agreements usually imply a parity of power, only rarely found. Similarly, nuclear proliferation will be more dependent on power arrangements than on technological bans. One can scale down the arsenals but to eradicate the technology is wishful thinking.

This is true for all disarmament attempts. Neutrality and demilitarisation are achieved with interests, not ideals.

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