The most recent battle in the Middle East has stirred emotions all over the globe. Either you support an indigenous population living in an area that makes Slumdog Millionaire seem like the Lower 9th Ward, or you support a nation's right to defend itself from provocative terrorists.
This leads us to the current conflict in Gaza. With such a complex history laced with a multitude of opinions and emotions, I am not going to argue over the reasons for the fighting. What I do want to discuss is the post-9/11 method of warfare because it has become more prevalent than ever.
The United Nations has proven itself a useless body unable to govern its members, but capable of issuing sanctions that could harm a country. Israel can dismiss such recommendations in the name of self-defense, but Israel is not fighting a traditional war or facing a rational military.
Although Israel is arguably fighting a war against a democratically-elected government in Gaza, it does not adhere to the traditional rules of engagement considering the fact that the people of Gaza elected terrorists as their head of state.
To put it in terms parallel to this side of the globe, imagine the Ku Klux Klan winning elections in New Mexico and then proceeding to fire rockets in order to provoke a war with Mexico.
The government is using its Palestinian population as human shields, plain and simple. After a ceasefire of 6 months, they most certainly knew that firing rockets into Israel would stir retaliation. Opponents to Israel argue that the naval blockade against Gaza provoked the violence from the other side. But what is Israel supposed to do while its enemies stockpile weapons--sit back and wait to be attacked? Who can blame Israel for acting defensively when the number one goal of Gaza's terrorists is to deny Israel's right to exist and is willing to do anything to wipe her away? I'd be a bit paranoid if I were a member of the Israeli government.
This is not a war in conventional terms. When Israel called for a three-hour ceasefire for humanitarian goods to be delivered to the civilians in need, they were attacked 15 minutes later. When terrorists use areas such as schools to teach their children hatred and use places of worship to hide and store weapons, it is IMPOSSIBLE to keep civilians safe. Their government exploits them by using them as a living form of defense while their leaders hypocritically hide in Syria.
Civilian targets are a casualty of this unconventional type of warfare, on both sides. That fact is a cruel reminder that there are no winners in warfare.
This psychological warfare will continue despite whatever outcome emerges. Moderate Arab nations have avoided supporting either side in hopes of a diplomatic resolution. Such governments understand that the high risk of unrest in their respective countries, and potential for a situation that mirrors the current chaos in Gaza.
Israel is locked in a war that it may never truly win. Whenever fanatics are in power, the threat of war continues to loom. European liberals fail to understand this form of war, maintaining that the diplomacy--the conflict cure-all--can solve this disaster. It won't. In an ideological war that employs guerrilla tactics, there are no winners. There are only survivors.