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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 19-Jan-2009
Gaza war heads toward cease-fire, while violence surges in Sri Lanka

Web Log - January, 2009

Gaza war heads toward cease-fire, while violence surges in Sri Lanka

Thousands of civilians' lives are at risk by army attacking terrorists responsible for suicide bombings.


Sri Lanka civil war - regions where fighting is in progress <font face=Arial size=-2>(Source: BBC)</font>
Sri Lanka civil war - regions where fighting is in progress (Source: BBC)

That's what's happening in Sri Lanka, where 350,000 civilians are trapped in the narrow confines of the Jaffna peninsula, where government forces are advancing to surround and capture the Tamil Tiger rebels.

This is occurring just two weeks after the army won a significant victory over rebel forces in Kilinochchi. Aids groups are fearful that tens of thousands of civilians will be killed as "collateral damage" as the government forces close in.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, traveling to the region, said, "To both sides, I say: Just stop, now. Too many people have died. There has been too much civilian suffering. Too many people, Israelis and Palestinians, live in daily fear of their lives."

Oh, sorry, I got that mixed up. Ban was talking about the Gaza war, not the Sri Lanka war.

Actually, Ban Ki-Moon and the rest of the world are pretty much ignoring the Sri Lanka war. I don't know why -- maybe Tamil civilians aren't worth as much as Palestinian civilians.

That's one of the many ironies of politics in general. Politicians enjoy lecturing us on the sanctity of human life, and how every man, woman and child is a valuable human life. Moral outrage is always a fun game for politicians seeking to score a political advantage.

But as we're seeing here, some lives are politically valuable, and some lives are politically worthless. In this case, a Palestinian civilian life has a great deal of political value to Ban Ki-Moon, while a Tamil civilian life has little. A person -- any person -- is worth no more and no less than what the politicians say it is. The value of a human life can be thought of as a continuous measure, say on a scale of 1 to 10, with some lives worth 1 and some lives worth 10, and with most of us somewhere in between.

As I explain frequently on this web site, Generational Dynamics doesn't use the strict legal definition of the word "genocide." In generational theory, "genocide" refers to any action that clearly gives little value to individual life. Generally this means that the society gives much higher political priority to scoring a victory in war than it gives to the goal of preserving individual lives, especially civilian lives.

This concept is very useful because "genocidal" is also a continuous measure, say on a scale of 1 to 10. Some wars might be "a little genocidal" (level 1), or "very genocidal" (level 10). Almost every major crisis war becomes "very genocidal" by the end, as when the Germans were slaughtering Russians in WW II, and the Allies were firebombing Dresden.

What's undeniable is that the conflicts in the Mideast are becoming increasingly genocidal. Conflicts fought with stones and handguns and even suicide bombings have turned into huge explosions that kill many people.

Both sides are doing what they have to do. Hamas have to protect their missiles by surrounding them with schools and homes filled with children and civilians. The Israelis have to destroy the missiles. Neither side has a choice. From the point of view of strict generational theory, it doesn't even make sense to say that either side is "at fault," any more than it makes sense to say that a tsunami is "at fault" for killing people. It just is what it is.

The United Nations and international pressure cannot do anything to stop this, any more than they can stop a tsunami. Moral outrage may be pleasing and useful to the politicians, but its effectiveness is weak and temporary and, in the end, useless.

Still, it seemed to work on Sunday, as both Israel and Hamas both claimed victory in a cease-fire agreement for the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials declared that they had succeeded in their main objective of limiting Hamasís ability to fire rockets from Gaza into southern Israel. Hamas officials said it had survived a massive onslaught, and would continue to fire rockets into Israel.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, what's most important is that the "genocide trend line" is clear. A cease-fire has been reached, but no one seriously believes that it's more than temporary, and the next conflict will be even more genocidal than the current one. It may even involve Muslim Brotherhood forces from Egypt, and renewed Fatah/Hamas fighting.

Today the Mideast conflict is growing into a major war, while the Sri Lanka war is building to a climax.

Furthermore, as worldwide trade and transportation grind to a halt, millions of people are losing their jobs and being pushed into poverty, creating increased instability among poor, desperate, restless populations in countries throughout Asia and other parts of the world.

The Clash of Civilizations World War can't be too far off now, and then we'll get to see how REALLY worthless a human life can be.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Mideast thread and the Geopolitical topics thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (19-Jan-2009) Permanent Link
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