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"The Limits of Force"

A Spanish proverb says, "A fuerza, ni los zapatos." [By force, not even the shoes] -- meaning, "Naked force alone won't even put your shoes on." The wisdom applies to geo-politics, and also in other areas.

Israel recently tried to annihilate Hezbollah, using overwhelming military force. But guerrilla groups do not annihilate as easily as the wielders of overwhelming force wish they would. All of this was already proven recently in Vietnam, but the force-people have refused to learn the lesson. Teen-agers in black pajamas got the best of the mightiest military power on the planet. And Hezbollah survived the worst that Israel, with all that U.S.-supplied equipment, could throw at them. "Hearts and minds" [See! We heard that, too, in Vietnam] are the only way to disarm Hezbollah. The Prime Minister of Lebanon has linked that task to the formation of a viable Palestinian state. He has figured out who Hezbollah is.

Iraq is teaching the same lesson about the limits of force. The mightiest military shock and awe machine in the world toppled a dictator and his second-class army in short order, but force alone can't bring peace, or even "stability," which isn't the same thing. They had stability, such as it was, before the Americans went in, and it won't be restored until they get out.

After, or perhaps better before, humans resort to force, which is so limited, we should try "diplomacy." Talking directly, and really listening and compromising when necessary -- that could improve things, perhaps. Naked force, mere explosions, will not make things better. The lack of interest in diplomacy on the part of the U.S. is laid bare in the appointment of John Bolton, who can't compromise or listen or even speak in a civil manner, as chief U.S. diplomat, i.e. ambassador to the United Nations.

He won't get Iran to obey him by making threats and demands. With Armageddon-believers in the deciding room, the situation has become very dangerous. Iran can't imagine why they have to obey the Non-Proliferation Treaty, while the U.S. continues in blatant violation of that same treaty. The treaty says that no nations which do not have the nuclear bomb shall be allowed to get it. [Israel, Pakistan and India are in violation!] It also says that those countries which have the bomb already will get rid of it with all deliberate speed. Instead the U.S. is planning to build a new generation of nuclear bombs. The plan is a violation, and the inaction on dismantling is another.

The limits of force! Why do the U.S. planners want new additional nuclear bombs? Because the ones that we now have thousands of are too powerful! They aren't useful in actual battle. They were only useful as a deterrent against the USSR. [Actually theirs deterred us, people like Douglas MacArthur and Curtis LeMay!] So our planners say we need new ones, designed to be really used against live human beings. That's proliferation.

All this Middle Eastern stuff is couched in the young girl's question after 9/11 -- "Why do they hate us so?" A new book, called REGIME CHANGE, gives chapter and verse on our interference in fourteen other nations in the last 110 years, beginning with Hawaii, including Nicaragua, Iran, Guatemala, Chile, and Panama, all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq. It will take decades and a budget like the Pentagon's to make reparations. The world isn't going to love us, not after what we have done. Meanwhile our use of force makes us more and more vulnerable.

The notion that force alone is limited in what it can accomplish could be applied to the question of the Wall at the Border, which some want to build. The wall is mere force, and won't work.

Here in Albuquerque they're debating Kendra's law, the idea that treatment for the mentally ill should be forced on the patients. But the medical professionals say that forced treatment has little effect.

Even in families, force has limited uses. Parents cannot force love. Whatever behavior is the result of force is not love. Obedience is not love, and is only temporary, unless it becomes a permanent disability on the part of the obedient one. Families foster love through "hearts and minds" -- there's that clue again.

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Copyright © 2006 Harry Willson

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