Another Cautionary Tale of Horror

Two explosions ripped through resorts in the Egyptian (Sinai) town of Taba, killing dozens, injuring hundreds, with dozens more missing. Hotels at the resort were packed with Israeli holiday-goers, and I suspect that when this is sorted out, this will prove to be one of the worst, if not the worst, terrorist attacks ever directed at
Think of Taba as an Israeli version of Tijuana: it’s a border town, conveniently located in a Third World country. The Egyptians maintained security in the area that ranged from lax to non-existent. Sadly, Israelis fleeing fortress Israel failed to account for this.
All of this takes place simultaneously with PM Sharon’s ongoing efforts at hunting down and killing Hamas and other militant leaders in Gaza (lest his proposed pullout be perceived as a victory for them), and in the process, murdering Palestinian civilians (of course). I do remain perplexed that no one gets this: whether its the Russians in Chechnya, the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza, or the United States in Iraq (and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan), we are dealing in large part with cultures that are very big on revenge, not to mention personal and familial honor. We can (and at times must) respond with the harshest of force, but forget that there are consequences to this that boomerang right back.
While the President and Vice-Presisdent mock Senator Kerry for suggesting that we conduct our military operations more sensitively, our “insensitivity” to civilian casualties and suffering, be it willy nilly torture and humiliation, or bombing weddings, or our now indiscriminate murder of civilians at Fallujah, has severe consequences that our borne directly by our military personnel, and I would submit as the example of the atrocities at Taba, ultimately put our civilians at risk, whether at home or abroad.
As always, I’m pissing in the wind, but I’ll say it again: military might is important, but it is not, and will never be, a sufficient way of resolving the intractable political problems associated with successfully concluding (I won’t say “winning”) the “war on terror”. Diplomatic, economic, intelligence-gathering and moral levers all must be pushed and effectively managed. (The Israelis could use a lot more of those diplomatic and moral levers than they now use; I don’t pretend that at least as long as Arafat breathes, the I-P situation can be “resolved”, but there are certainly “more bad” and “less bad” intermediate positions; right now, I would say Taba shows that there is now a “more bad” situation.)
I have noted (though perhaps not necessarily here) that Arab terrorists planning attacks on New York would be most unlikely to be found in my own neighborhood in Brooklyn, which features many Arabs and Arab-Americans (from Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine and other Arab countries). Why? Because their own lansmen would out them in a heartbeat: they have no desire to see atrocities done here. Hence, Mohammed Atta and his 9-11 highjacker associates cloistered themselves in on-descript suburbs of New Jersey, Florida and California, where they could isolate themselves from scrutiny– something unlikely in an ethnic Arab neighborhood (IMHO).
We need to export this attitude to the Arab world itself: if people in the Middle East found terror plotters in their midst to be simply unacceptable criminals, and isolated these bastards, it would be far easier for intelligence services to intercept plots and for police (and as necessary, military) personnel to apprehend and/or neutralize the perpetrators.
We continue to destroy the village to save it at our extreme peril.