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The Israel-Palestine problem: Guerrilla warfare



John Heelan stated that guerrillas cannot be defeated and quoted three historical precedents to prove that the Palestinians likewise cannot be defeated. Cameron Sawyer sends this rebuttal:

"The three cases are all different. U.S. settlers versus Native Americans did not show that regular armies cannot defeat guerrillas; on the contrary, the Native Americans were utterly defeated in a brutal manner.

Viet Nam did not prove that either -- we more or less beat them; we just did not have the will to carry it through. This war was prosecuted by the U.S. with astonishing stupidity. Also -- Viet Nam was not entirely a guerrilla war. There was an enemy government and regular army, which we could have easily defeated if we have even halfway tried. Having defeated the enemy government and regular army, no one knows whether the Viet Cong would have wanted or been able to continue a guerrilla war.

Northern Ireland is hardly a guerilla war, is it? Who is the enemy? This seems to be to have been more of a terrorist insurgency carried out by a small minority of the population. I don't think you can call the IRA a guerrilla army -- they are ordinary terrorists.

I see hardly any parallels between any of these cases and the situation in Israel/Palestine today, which is uniquely intractable, it seems to me, in that we actually have two peoples who intend to live on nearly the same tiny patch of land. Maybe we should give the Palestinians a new homeland in some uninhabited part of the world, 10 times as much land, and generous development assistance. Not an ideal solution, of course, since the Palestinians understandably want to be in their own historic homeland, but maybe an acceptable one, particularly in view of the nearly hopeless alternatives".

My comment: The British proposed a similar solution for the Zionists, who rejected it, thus leading to the present crisis. The idea of transporting the Palestinians en masse would certainly be rejected by them, by the Arab world, by the international community and by the nation which would receive these uninvited guests.

Ronald Hilton - 5/8/02


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