August 31, 2009

No Peace Without Syria

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 31, 2009 9:30 AM
Comments
There is no war between Israel and Syria.
Or better yet, there is peace between Israel and Syria.
36 years in a month or so and counting.
I cannot imagine Israel giving away Golans.
Posted by: leo at August 31, 2009 7:57 pm
Leo, that's like saying there is peace between North Korea and South Korea.
Posted by: johnchen at August 31, 2009 10:10 pm
on a total sidetrack
and not that I like fox news
I'm wondering how to get this excellent example more out there...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,545043,00.html
Posted by: A-Squared at August 31, 2009 11:01 pm
"that's like saying there is peace between North Korea and South Korea"
Isn't there?
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 5:05 am
leo,
This is called a ceasefire or an armistice. The duration is irrelevant for the definition of the current situation.
Posted by: marek at September 1, 2009 9:10 am
Leo, you just gave me a glimpse into the probable mindset of those who accuse Israel of warmongering when it rejects Hamas's offers of ten-year truces.
Posted by: johnchen at September 1, 2009 10:09 am
marek and johnchen,
Let me help you:
peace is the state prevailing during the absence of war
www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hs=LfC&ei=9FWdSo32O43xnQe6qKyABA&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&q=define%3Apeace&spell=1
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 10:14 am
Leo, you singled out the one definition on that list which suits your purposes, and ignored the rest. And even that one is questionable, since Syria aids terrorist groups which do fight against Israel.
Posted by: johnchen at September 1, 2009 10:58 am
johnchen,
I singled out the only one definition I was arguing for from the very beginning that peace is absence of war.
If you wish to argue something else, please let me know. I am open.
As to those Syria supported groups, they are no longer fighting Israel - peace again. And Syria does not fight Israel still.
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 11:44 am
I singled out the only one definition I was arguing for from the very beginning that peace is absence of war.
I'm not sure what people are arguing about here, but there is an existing state of war between North Korea and South Korea, as well as between Syria and Israel. Ceasefire agreements are merely a temporary cessation of hostilities, no matter how long they are in effect. It takes a peace treaty to end a war. If you want to argue that peace is the absence of FIGHTING, I'm not sure that's a valid definition.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at September 1, 2009 12:57 pm
Desire to avoid a war worth more than paper peace treaty is written on. Otherwise any signed paper is good only for toilet use. Molotov/Ribentrop rings a bell.
I suspect, you a confusing peace with love, which I personally do not require.
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 1:35 pm
Molotov/Ribentrop is probably too distant.
How about multiple ceasefires between Israelis and Palestinians, which did not last.
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 1:41 pm
leo,
Thanks for help - but first you help thyself.
Your argument is based on on idea that there must be an actual shooting going on in order for war to exist. In essence you say that when the shooting stops peace starts.
Well, the break in shooting is a ceasefire. Whether it lasts an hour, a day, a month or 40 years it is still a only ceasefire. Whether you like or not peace has more attributes than just a ceasefire. As a matter of fact peace can even co-exists with a sporadic shooting.
Whether such peace is better than a ceasefire is a different issue altogether.
Posted by: marek at September 1, 2009 2:00 pm
marek,
I am not going to play this semantics game.
36 year of ceasefire suits me just fine. Many more to come.
If you do not wish to call it peace I accept.
Posted by: leo at September 1, 2009 7:25 pm
How about multiple ceasefires between Israelis and Palestinians, which did not last.
Leo, no offense but it seems you are the one who is playing "semantics games" :)
A ceasefire is a temporary cessation of hostilities. The state of war continues to exist. There is an existing state of war between Syria and Israel. Therefore, the definition you gave us for "peace" does not apply. Unless you have another definition for peace that you'd like to use, you should acknowledge the one you gave earlier doesn't work, right?
I remain baffled about what the argument in here is about, though. I'm just objecting to what seems to be an incorrect use of terminology.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at September 2, 2009 10:07 am
it seems you are the one who is playing "semantics games"
If this is how it appears I regret this. It wasn't my intention.
However, ceasefire or not, peace or not, war or not, but the fact, remains Israel and Syria are not shooting at each other and they did not need to sign anything.
Posted by: leo at September 2, 2009 2:28 pm
It's an argument about symbolics. And Leo is right, or should be. What he's stumbling on is a common tool by hawks and demagogues to denigrate the absence of shooting as irrelevant.

If you want to argue that peace is the absence of FIGHTING, I'm not sure that's a valid definition.

Of course it's a valid definition. It's the only valid definition. All the others are bullshit.
Peace treaties are nothing more than a big wet official high-five that everyone agrees that what has already happened has actually happened. The difference between a ceasefire and 'peace' is semantics. They describe larger intervals of the essentially same event.
The dichotomy of saying "it's not peace because we have no treaty" is kind of like saying that the Vietnam War wasn't a war because Congress didn't pass a declaration of war. It's worthless formalism.
Now, Syria's sponsorship of anti-Israeli terrorism is another story, as I will freely admit. Having said that, if you have any interest in consistency, funding a third party attacking your enemy from a third or fourth country doesn't classically equal 'war', although they certainly are hostile acts. If that equals war, than we were by that logic at war with the USSR during the Vietnam war.
Posted by: glasnost at September 3, 2009 3:40 am
Mike,
you make a great case that we should let the Sunni Muslim brotherhood overthrow Assad. I agree with you.
Assad will never have the legitimacy to make a bold peace with Israel, but a Sunni movement, especially one working with secular partners, could.
It would have been better for the world if the Muslim Brotherhood had succeeded in 1982. They came pretty close. The problem with their system was that the army was full of Alawites, and they failed to be persistent and effective at cutting deals with the commanders. I have no idea if that was possible, but it was their only shot. You can't break an army's morale when retreat is death at the hands of your own commanders, and they never had the manpower and weapons to straight-up win.
If they'd won, Syria might have made peace with Ehud Barak in 1998, and the whole Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be over.
It kind of reminds me that the very first time I talked about an invasion of Iraq in 2002, I was focused on that it didn't make sense from the POV of the internal problems of the Middle East. I didn't understand why they hadn't picked Syria, since Iraq was so much more of an inherent sideshow. It took a year or two to realize that it was because Iraq got the biggest Pavlovian cheer from the US meat market thanks to 1991, and because we'd been so effective, with their help, at making them a pariah. It was New Middle East on the cheap.
Posted by: glasnost at September 3, 2009 3:49 am
This is the best reason you've come up with for your predisposed certainty that all peace overtures towards Assad are destined to fail, but I'm not sure I agree. You don't actually need an ideology to stay in power, even as a dictator. Ask the Chinese.
Posted by: glasnost at September 3, 2009 3:52 am
Of course it's a valid definition. It's the only valid definition. All the others are bullshit.
Glasnost, "all the others" are both legal and actual definitions. You can call that "bullshit" if you like, but there simply isn't a definition for "peace" that includes ceasefire agreements. You don't have to like it, but that's the way it is.
Posted by: programmmer_craig at September 3, 2009 2:25 pm
Glasnost',
Thank you for helping me explain my point better.
Posted by: leo at September 3, 2009 4:37 pm
Glasnost, "all the others" are both legal and actual definitions. You can call that "bullshit" if you like, but there simply isn't a definition for "peace" that includes ceasefire agreements. You don't have to like it, but that's the way it is.
Okay. Look, I understand that other people have different interpretations of the word. That's the reason why this conversation is so confusing in the first place - because the most important meaning of the word - an absence of fighting - has been conflated with other meanings describing processes that I find trivial.
I think you understand my bigger point, so I won't repeat. The definition of "peace" that involves "mutual absence or cessation of violent aggression between previously fighting parties" is the important concept, and the important part of the situation that Leo and I suggest not be overlooked. Whether or not that equals "peace" is a straw man. Meaning, not part of the point being made. That's all.
Posted by: glasnost at September 7, 2009 5:00 pm
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