When Strategy and Morality Converge
As Holocaust Memorial Day approaches, I was thinking about why we, the Jews, criticize the US and Britain for not bombing Auschwitz. The answer is not because they didn’t bomb the death factory. It is because they were flying over the death camp anyway, on their way to bomb other targets. Destruction of the camp did not contradict any American interest. But it also didn’t bother the Americans and British too much. And that is what we rightly criticize.
President Trump did not bomb Syria after the gas attack a few weeks ago because he is a saint. He bombed because the Syrians gave him the opportunity and the moral justification to rectify the foolishness of his predecessor, who removed the US from the area, created a vacuum that Putin hurried to fill and turned the US into a lame duck in the Middle East.
Does that mean that there is no moral difference between Russia and the US? Does that mean that morality had no role in the bombing? Of course not. Trump’s bombing of Syria in the aftermath of the gas attack was a quintessentially moral act.
Life is comprised of both the physical and the spiritual. Even the most hallucinatory leftist in Israel will not demand that Israel send its commandos to free the prisoners from the camps in North Korea or declare war on China, which murders its prisoners and harvests their organs. That would be policy based entirely on the spiritual component, which would endanger the physical component.
But the opposite is also true. A policy based solely on interests dilutes the spiritual component and ultimately endangers life.
In the case of North Korea, China, the genocide in Africa and the like, Israel must condemn those actions and morally negate them. It must initiate and support international condemnation of those heinous acts and apply whatever pressure it can to prevent them. Clearly, for example, Israel must prevent the continued licensing of the Israeli weapons dealers and military apparatus cronies who make large sums of money from the African bloodbath. This is not in line with any Israeli interest and is a terrible moral stain on our country.
Israel must not cross the line that compromises its security or seriously destabilizes its economy or social fabric (attention those who advocate opening Israel’s borders to Syrian refugees).
On the other hand, when there is a convergence of military/strategic interests together with a moral claim, then it is right and necessary to use force – as Trump did in Syria.
General Amos Yadlin was correct when he said that the situation in Syria has created this convergence of interests – strategic and moral – for the State of Israel. Israel’s evasion of the chaotic situation in Syria until now has severely compromised its own security. Because in the Middle East, if you prefer to bury your head in the sand instead of sitting down to the feast, you become part of the menu.