Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Sharon is No Milosevic

While the Arabs have been busy comparing Ariel Sharon to Hitler, one American columnist has stopped just short by comparing him to someone who was himself often compared to Hitler. Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times writes: "What is the fundamental difference between Slobodan Milosevic and Ariel Sharon? The former is on trial for war crimes, while the latter still leads an occupying army." This column might require the construction of a whole new wing of the Flawed Analogy Hall of Fame.

To take just one point: "Milosevic, like Sharon, cited the terror tactics of neighboring peoples - Croatians, Bosnians and ethnic Albanians who stood in the way of his vision of a secure Yugoslavia - as a rationale for preemptive use of massive military force against them." The obvious implications is that Milosevic's citations were merely an excuse to terrorize his neighbors, and that Sharon's justifications are the same. One difference of course - the former provinces of Yugoslavia didn't band together and declare that it was their religious and moral duty to destroy Bosnia forever and drive all of its inhabitants into the Adriatic sea. The Arab world's well known hostility to Israel's very existence turns the current situation distinctly un-Serbian in character. Milosevic also had in mind the establishment of a "Greater Bosnia," which would require the absorption of surrounding provinces. Not only does Israel not have expansionist plans, they gave up most of the West Bank to Palestinian control on their own. They even offered Arafat sovereignty, and he turned them down.

You cannot take Palestinians by themselves as the "other side" in this conflict. The other side is the entire Arab world - Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia especially have been funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to support the Intifada. Israel faces a stronger foe than merely the rag-tag Palestinian refugees in the streets. The suicide bombers have the hidden and in some cases explicit support of every other country in the region. And except for the fitful support of the U.S., Israel is alone.

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