Now he's in Kabul, Afghanistan, managing the building of an Army base. He doesn't write much, and when he does it's usually clippings from the news. Today I got a narrative from him that was written by an ex-Navy man. It has a direct message regarding the current Israeli-Hezbollah war. Tell me what you think.
When I was in the Navy, I once witnessed a bar fight in downtown Olongapo (Philippines) that still haunts my dreams. The fight was between a big oafish bar bully and a rather soft-spoken, medium sized Latino sailor from my ship.
All evening the bully had been trying to pick a fight with one of us and had finally set his sights on this diminutive shipmate of mine... figuring him for a safe target. When my friend refused to be goaded into a fight the moron sucker-punched him from behind on the side of the head so hard that blood instantly started to pour from this poor man's mutilated ear.
Everyone present was horrified and was prepared to absolutely murder this guy, but my shipmate quickly turned on him and began to single-handedly back him towards a corner with a series of stinging jabs and upper cuts that gave more than a hint to a youth spent boxing in a small gym in the Bronx. Each punch opened a cut on the bully's startled face and by the time he had been backed completely into the corner he was blubbering for someone to stop the fight. He invoked his split lips and chipped teeth as reasons to stop the fight. He begged us to stop the fight because he could barely see through the river of blood that was pouring out of his split and swollen brows. Nobody moved. Not one person.
The only sound in the bar was the sickening staccato sound of this sailor's lightning fast fists making contact with new areas of the guy's head. The only sound I have heard since that was remotely similar was from the first "Rocky" film when Sylvester Stallone was punching sides of beef in the meat locker. Finally the bully's pleading turned to screams.... a high, almost womanly shriek. And still the punches continued relentlessly.
Several people in the bar took a few tentative steps as though they wanted to try to break it up at that point, but hands reached out from the crowd and held them tight. I'm not ashamed to say that mine were two of the hands that held someone back. You see, in between each blow the sailor had begun chanting a soft cadence: "Say [punch] you [punch] give [punch] up [punch]... say [punch] you [punch]were [punch] wrong [punch]".
He had been repeating it to the bully almost from the start but we only became aware of it when the typical barroom cheers had died down and we began to be sickened by the sight and sound of the carnage. This coward stood there shrieking in the corner of the bar trying futilely to block the carefully timed punches that were cutting his head to tatters... right down to the skull in places. But he refused to say that he gave up... or that he was wrong.
Even in the delirium of his beating he believed in his heart that someone would stop the fight before he had to admit defeat. I'm sure this strategy had served him well in the past and had allowed him to continue on his career as a barroom bully. Finally, in a wail of agony the coward shrieked "I give up", and we gently backed the sailor away from him.
I'm sure you can guess why I have shared this story today. I'm not particularly proud to have been witness to such a bloody spectacle, and the sound of that bully's woman-like shrieks will haunt me to my grave. But I learned something that evening that Israel had better learn for itself if it is to finally be rid of at least one of its tormentors: This is one time an Arab aggressor must be allowed to be beaten so badly that every civilized nation will stand in horror, wanting desperately to step in and stop the carnage... but knowing that the fight will only truly be over when one side gives up and finally admits defeat.
Just as every person who had ever rescued that bully from admitting defeat helped create the cowardly brute I saw that evening in the bar, every well-intentioned power that has ever stepped in and negotiated a ceasefire for an Arab aggressor has helped create the monsters we see around us today.
President Lahoud of Lebanon, a big Hezbollah supporter and a close ally of Syria, has been shrieking non-stop to the UN Security Council for the past two days to get them to force Israel into a cease fire. Clearly he has been reading his autographed copy of 'Military Success for Dummies: Arab Despots' by the late Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. Ever since Nasser accidentally discovered the trick in '56, every subsequent Arab leader has stuck to his tried and true formula for military success:
- Instigate a war.
- Once the war is well underway and you are in the process of having your ass handed to you... get a few world powers to force your western opponent into a cease fire.
- Whatever you do, don't surrender or submit to any terms dictated by your enemy. That would ruin everything! All you have to do is wait it out and eventually the world will become sickened at what is being done to your soldiers and civilian population... and will force a truce.
- Once a truce has been called you can resume your intransigence (which probably caused the conflict in the first place), and even declare victory as your opponent leaves the field of battle.
This tactic has never failed. Not once. In fact it worked so well for the Egyptians in 1973, that to this day they celebrate the Yom Kippur War - a crushing defeat at the hands of Israel - as a military victory! No kidding... it's a national holiday over there! President Lahoud has already begun to shriek like a school girl to the UN Security Council to "Stop the violence and arrange a cease-fire, and then after that we'll be ready to discuss all matters."
Uh huh. Forgive me if I find that a tad hard to swallow. He allowed Hezbollah to take over his country. He allowed the regular Lebanese army to provide radar targeting data for the Hezbollah missile that struck the Israeli destroyer. He has turned a blind eye while Iranian and Syrian weapons, advisers and money have poured into his country.
And now that his country is in ruins he wants to call it a draw. As much as it may sicken the world to stand by and watch it happen, strong hands need to hold back the weak-hearted and let the fight continue until one side finally admits unambiguous defeat.
"The world is a dangerous place to live – not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." — Albert Einstein
For more on this conflict, an extremely interesting exchange of views, visit Pournelle's web site for his correpondence debate with Joel Rosenberg.