Rock and a hard place.
Hands tied behind back.
I am hardly equipped to put forth any inspirations much less resolutions related to the wars in our world today. However, it does not stop me from commenting, but I do so in all humility.
I am glad I am not the person who has to make the decisions about resolving the conflicts in Israel and Gaza and in Ukraine. Peace is elusive in these three countries now ravaged by invasions and bombings. Thousands of innocents – children, elders, mothers – have been killed, some not before being tortured, brutally raped, and terrorized in their own homes.
Today, there are no good options on the peace table. Enormous efforts are being made by our Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, who is at least working to put a lid on it, to stop the spread and prevent a greater war.
Meanwhile, sides and perspectives in the Israel/Gaza war are hardening worldwide creating a stressful tension that resists talking and listening to each other. The USA is experiencing protests and counter protests.
The U.S. has characteristically risen to support democracies, having long supported Israel and recently for Ukraine when invaded by Russia. Ukraine is at risk now of becoming a political issue in the next election due to reported reluctance in the U.S. House of Representatives to continue funding their defense and reports that a few representatives support Putin.
Rules of war?
Are not “rules of war” an oxymoron?
The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) or rules of war came out of the Geneva Convention following World War II. The rules were a reaction to the horror and outrage of the Holocaust, in which millions of Jews were killed in gas ovens built only for their extermination.
The IHL is not all that came out of the atrocities of WWII. Jews who managed an escape settled in the Middle East, a historically significant area for them, in the late 1940s. The Jewish people determined to establish a secure Jewish State. To them there seemed no other safe haven. So began a displacement of Palestinians.
At some point, groups evolved whose aim was eradicating Israel. One of these was Hamas, a name now familiar because of their calculated heinous acts of violence on innocent people on Oct. 7, among which hostages — babies, children, women, elders and men — were taken and are held today, if still alive.
Peace does not live in an environment of terror any more than the standards of IHL lives in Russia’s indiscriminate killing of innocent Ukrainian citizens, Hamas’s intentional killing and kidnapping of innocent Israel citizens and the inevitable deaths of thousands of innocent Palestinians by Israel’s bombings.
Hamas did not sign on to IHL, but the Russian Federation did. Putin has been accused of war crimes, which, by definition of the IHL, were and are being committed by Russia in Ukraine.
Ukraine was brutally invaded in an unprovoked war. The country continues to defend itself against a continuous invasion and has not bombed or otherwise invaded Russia.
The Middle East is a powder keg of historical and recent provocations on all sides. Hamas mounted its invasion with the intention of total destruction of Israel who, as everyone clearly says, has the right and duty to defend and in all cases protect itself.
Yet, innocent people are in the way — the Palestinians who have lived in Gaza for generations since losing their land, and the hostages taken by Hamas and foreign nationals stuck in Gaza.
How is Israel to defend and protect and follow all the rules of war, rules ignored by its invaders? Nice people do not start wars by killing mothers and babies.
What help are the rules of war except to remind us to protect the innocent? Play nice or beat up the bully, even the bully hiding behind his baby sister. Wars are brutal killing fields.
Israel is in an impossible double bind. Kill the baby sister to get to the bully who will kill your sister when you get too close.
Where are the heroes of peace?
Where is Solomon?
“Where is the United Nations in all this? Oh, right, nowhere,” snarled the headline of an opinion piece written by Andreas Kluth that appeared in The Seattle Times (Nov. 5, 2023).
The column caught my eye because I was wondering the same thing. At most, I heard the secretary general asking for a cease fire. Easy for him to say … and not exactly Solomon-like.
Kluth provides useful information on historical efforts to have some sort of world organization to deal with acts of terrorism, a better word for Hamas’s actions. I learned the UN engaged in resolving the Korean conflict in which North Korea swamped South Korea. UN troops “liberated South Korea” and maintained a peace-keeping presence in a case of splitting the baby.
Turns out the only reason the UN got that far was the Soviets were boycotting the meetings and could not veto the proposal.
The fatal flaw in the UN’s peace-keeping efforts is that if the aggressor happens to be on the security council, the aggressor can veto any peace-keeping actions against their aggression.
Bureaucratic rules intended to give voice, grant power instead.
For all you who worried about it, there is no world order. From what we know, Ukraine, Russia, Hamas, and Israel are dug into their positions. Something will happen.
I do not even know what to hope for unless it is that the US can wield enough influence and coalition-building to contain the conflict and Israel is able to gain ground and rely less on bombs and more on combat.
As helpless as we on the sidelines or in our respective corners are, we all have a lot to learn about making peace instead of war.
Bertha Cooper is an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette. She and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 25 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.