Thursday, December 12, 2002

Thomas Friedman, my favorite international affairs columnist, is now arguing that NATO should take control of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the way they did Kosovo. In fact, he claims to have suggested the idea a year ago. Of course, the analogy was absurd even back then; Kosovars weren't attempting to conquer and resettle all of Serbia, nor were they sending suicide bombers all the way to Belgrade to murder innocent civilians in support of their ambitions. But at least at that time the necessity of suppressing the "terrorist infrastructure" in the Palestinian Authority's domain with harsh military force, while obvious to many of us, hadn't yet been empirically proven. This past March, however, the Israelis moved in, and what has happened since? "Ariel Sharon has adopted a policy of hot pursuit and it has resulted in the Palestinian Authority's being destroyed and more Israelis being killed and feeling insecure than ever," writes Friedman. Does he really believe that more Israelis are being killed and feeling insecure than before Operation Defensive Shield? Does he even read his own newspaper?

Unless NATO is prepared to act as vigorously against terrorism as the Israeli army has, the bombings and killings emanating (currently at a much-reduced but still disturbing rate) from the PA's former stomping grounds would only increase under NATO rule. And the minuscule likelihood that, say, Norwegian troops would be willing to conduct dangerous and aggressive military operations against Palestinian terrorist organizations to capture "militants" and destroy munitions factories does not exactly inspire optimistic hopes for Friedman's plan. But widely celebrated international affairs pundits don't like messy, ugly situations with no elegant solutions; they're paid to be creative, and they'll propose grand, imaginative schemes, dammit, even if they have to ignore reality to do it.

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