This week they've got two articles on the Pakistani war against the Taliban (in Pakistan). One, an editorial, mostly crows about how the Pakistani army seems to have won a round and must continue; the other, a descriptive article, is, well, descriptive.
Both tell how the army won, but in a most revealing way. Take the opening paragraph of the leader, for example:
LONG reviled for their reluctance to fight the Islamist militancy that they themselves helped unleash, Pakistan’s generals have a rare victory to boast of.
In a three-month offensive against the Taliban in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the army has regained control of the lofty Malakand region, killing hundreds of militants. This has done less damage to civilian life and property than two previous, failed offensives in Malakand. The local Pushtuns, over 2m of whom were displaced by the fighting, are now returning home. They mostly support the army’s efforts. (My italics, of course).
This observation is then fleshed out, just a wee bit, in the second article:
SULTANWAS, a once-prosperous village in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), is now a bomb site. Its white concrete houses, gaudily decorated thanks to migrant wages sent back from Dubai, lie in heaps. Debris that had billowed in great clouds after army jets bombed the village in early May litters the surrounding fields. The Taliban, who had occupied Sultanwas a few weeks before, had no chance; 80 allegedly died in the rubble.Should we take a closer look? The Pakistani army bombed its own towns, millions of its own civilians became refugees, but no worry. There were fewer civilians killed than last time. How many fewer? Why dwell on such things. Were many towns pulverized - well, probably, since the article tells that billions will be needed for reconstruction efforts, but why allow such minutiae to bother us when a glorious victory over the Very Bad Guys has just been had.
Involving some 40,000 troops, the army’s action has been devastating. Over
2m have been displaced, in what may be the biggest unplanned movement of people
since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Hundreds are reported to have been killed. Yet the army, which has received unprecedented public support for its attack on the Taliban, is claiming a great success.
The theory of Just War distinguishes between waging a just war (this one certainly is), and waging a war justly. Yet the more I follow the way we report to ourselves on the wars of the world, the more I become convinced this distinction is meaningless in the real world. Wars are judged bythe first criteria only. When going to war is justified, no-one cares about the way it's waged, if carefully or barbarically. When the decision to be at war is unjustified, no-one cares how careful the warriors are; they'll be damned. Though there's then a second twist, which is that if it's our country at war, we won't report on the full impact it's having; this would explain why to this very day it's basically impossible to find an honest reckoning of the two battles of Faluga, say, even tho most of the media really didn't like that war. But the "home team" effect over-rode their distatse.
If we're honest about it we must recongnize that Israel's wars are unacceptable to most of the rest of the world irrespective of the way they're waged, which is why no-matter what the reality is the reports about it are automatically the opposite from reports such as these about Pakistan (or Afghanistan, or Iraq, or have your pick). And the reason for this is profound and fundamental. It's not - as I used to think - that Israel insists on using military force in a post-military world. The world isn't post military. Just look at how the Economist eggs the pakistanis on: more! Keep on Going!
Where are the exhortations for peaceful engagement and seeking dialogue with the enemy since only that can ever succeed?