As a Liberal blogger, I think it is time I commented on the Gaza conflict. A conflict which has gone a little too far, and is harming a LOT of innocents on both sides.
Israel has a right to defend itself. Reading Herman Wouk's "Hope" and "Glory" really helped me understand that perspective better, at an early age. Often we are only subject to media "goggles" when eying up an issue.
Having said that, I must also add that the Palestinian State must be recognized by all parties as a legitimate nation. It benefits all those involved - including Israel. I should also add that the force being used is excessive, but is the only response EVERY Western democracy knows in the face of uprisings.
That's right... What I'm saying is that this slaughter simply outlines what the US learned in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., and it is a lesson that keeps getting taught the world over. A modern nations (perceived) only response to militias and terrorist attacks is to use force. When they use force, they pretty much have to go all out - it's the way armies are trained. It is actually the using of the army for what should be a police action that is the problem. Even army commanders lament what they have to do. They know they are not suited to such actions (it's like the tanks in Kandahar - doesn't work).
The Israelis SHOULD respond to un-provoked rocket attacks into their territory, but they can be leaders in the WAY such responses occur - due to their repeated exposure to such attacks. Massive retaliations are wrong. They only breed more enemies.
How should the region proceed to solve it's issues? Who really knows? One thing is to tone down the extremist rhetoric on both sides. Clearly define both states... more mutual "co-existence". This includes an opening of the borders - to trade and travel. Nothing says "I hate you", or "I don't trust you" better than a wall. Palestine cannot just be a giant holding cell for refugees - it needs to be allowed to grow and thrive. A strong economy in Palestine would quickly beat swords into poughshares (this is in Israel's interest).
Israel can work on more "refined" commando and police responses to attacks (if they really want to, Mossad could easily take out Hamas leaders in one fell swoop in the middle of the night). Sometimes a "message" is sent, simply to send a message. On the Palestinian side, we need to see a more clear rejection of the actions Hamas is taking. I think that is actually pretty much there within all the moderate voices, and the Fatah group - even with these recent rocket attacks, and the subsequent retaliations.
I can't pretend to know what is best for the region, but I do know this: Peace is much better than perpetual war. As a Liberal, I've always hated hard-line, extreme positions, and I really have to say that I strongly disapprove of "extremists" on both sides. I also must say that the Bush-led Western World was an extreme "let-down" to the cause of peace. Retaliations (and un-provoked attacks) with overwhelming firepower were key parts of the Bush Doctrine. This, in typical Conservative fashion, has galvanized sides the world over, reduced everything to "black and white", and created more conflict than we know what to do with.
Time for moderation, negotiation, and peace to be given a chance.