Opinion: The New War

The latest military strike against a Syrian military target, reportedly by Israel according to The New York Times, had the potential to be a successful strike and slink away into secrecy. Yet as the Times pointed out, Syria broke rank and announced the strike, blaming Israel in the process. The reality is that the rhetoric is heated and the potential for war is real. And for that we can blame the United Nations.

The Palestinian conflict with Israel, like most Arab conflicts with the Jewish state, had for years dwelled in the realm of military conflict. It eventually evolved into the realm of public relations conflict—images of bloody children, whose lives had been endangered by terrorists basically using them as human shields, were then republished by those same terrorists as innocents attacked by Israel.

It was charlatan, calloused and just plain evil, but a media already inclined to believe the lies of Israeli war crimes republished the images that the terrorists were so happy to supply.

Soon the PR war spread not just throughout the Palestinian conflict, but to Lebanon as well, where Hezbollah used the tested methods. How many thousands of lives have been put at risk because the media couldn’t resist publishing a screaming child amidst rubble?

But despite the PR success, it wasn’t effective at deterring Israel. Europe, and especially the US, realized they too needed to be able to wage a just war, and Israel was usually given a few weeks to defeat the terrorists before boisterous demands of a ceasefire.

So the Palestinians turned to a new tool: The UN.

The United Nations has long been home to anti-Israel, even anti-Semitic, and anti-West views. Essentially a democratic system that gives equal votes to North Korea as to South Korea and to Sudan as to Switzerland, the system gave a disproportionate degree of influence to the vast Muslim world and their dictator and warlord friends in Africa, Asia and South America.

Thankfully, that control was limited to the mostly symbolic General Assembly and the tragically misnamed Human Rights Council—which has long influenced by some of the worst human-rights violators on earth. And so one errant and biased report after another was published about Israel, but it stayed there.

Today, however, the world is new and different and so is the war—thanks again to the Palestinians.

When the Palestinians took their unilateral statehood claims to the UN Security Council, the one truly powerful UN body and thankfully controlled by the most powerful and generally more responsible nations, they were denied. Still, they broke ground and introduced a new weapon against Israel.

Then, the world betrayed its own values by voting in the General Assembly to award the Palestinians a non-member statehood status at the UN. Was it not less than a year prior that the Security Council had quietly squashed a similar effort? Yet here was France, almost illogically voting in favor of the new move.

It wasn’t just symbolic. The Palestinians had broader goals in mind. With their new UN quasi-state status in hand, despite lacking any actual territory or even a homogenous government, the Palestinians began threatening to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC was intended, and has been used, to prosecute the crimes of brutal genocidal dictators like the leader of Sudan. Wary it might not stay committed to its more noble roots, the US and Israel never signed up with the Court.

Yet now, the Palestinians might actually have enough status to convince the Court to recognize their imaginary state as a real one and start prosecuting imaginary Israeli war crimes with real punishments.

What does all this have to do with Syria? Quite simply, the Palestinians have turned the UN into a legal weapon. By involving the Security Council in ridiculous pursuits and by threatening to take Israel to the ICC—with the unintended blessing of so much of the West via that status upgrade—the Palestinians have shown that there is a forceful way to deal with Israel without appearing the bad guy by using inadequate weapons.

And Syria is using that too. The Syrians, who have been brutally killing their own people for almost two years, are now trying to take Israel to the Security Council over the bombing of weapons bound for Hezbollah. Of course the Syrians are claiming it was an innocuous research facility. And of course one Muslim nation after another are buying the claims.

Why is this so dangerous?

Because before when Israel attacked a terrorist site, or Syria’s nuclear weapon location—ultimately helping the West and preventing broader violence—the enemy states kept silent or threatened a difficult military response. The Israelis involvement was kept quieter, the rhetoric was kept cooler, the allies of the enemy state were kept out of it.

But now? Syria has a vent to respond—they can go to the UN with hopes it will retaliate for them while they pretend to be the victim. And so Iran is angry. Russia is angry. Turkey is furious. Israel is suddenly the focus of a slew of angry and testy nations in the midst of an already combustible situation. It’s a powder keg just waiting for a light.

Hopefully, no nation will attack in revenge. Hopefully no terrorist will be inspired to take action. Hopefully the UN Security Council won’t further fan flames by punishing Israel unjustly.

But thanks to the UN’s record so far, the situation is so much worse than it should be.

It’s time for the entire West, not just the US, but the UK, France, Germany, Spain and others to wield as much influence as they can in the UN and put a stop to this charade. No more voting for crazy but “only symbolic” actions. No more voting abstention. It’s time to vote No and even take efforts to prevent the votes in the first place.

Otherwise, the next secret airstrike could hit the airwaves and then a bloody street. It’s a new war. But if it’s not stopped, it could end up reverting to the old one.

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 3, 2013)