William Hamilton: Aggression and the lack of defensible borders
June 15, 2011
After Mr. Obama declared that Israel should retreat to the borders that existed back in 1948 when Israel won is War of Independence from the surrounding Arab states, there has been a lot of discussion about “defensible borders.”
So, what about “defensible borders?” Do they cause nations with “defensible borders” to be aggressive or pacifistic?
The lack of “defensible borders” tends to induce paranoia that leads to aggression.
Russia, for example, suffers from a lack of defensible borders. From the English Channel to the Ural Mountains, only some fordable rivers offer Russia any protection from invasion from the west. To the east, a huge gap is open between the southern end of the Urals and the northern end of the Caspian Sea – a gap often exploited by invaders from Asia.
Germany, located between Russia to the east and France to the west has a bloody history of aggression against Poland, Russia, and France.
Those who settled the United States were aggressive about acquiring the lands to the west of the Eastern Seaboard. Following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 ($15 million to France), the Mexican War of 1845-48 ($15 million to Mexico), and the Gadsden Purchase of 1854 ($10 million to Mexico), the United States felt more secure and became far less aggressive.
Unfortunately, in the 20th century, America was drawn into four land wars, ranging from Europe to the western Pacific. But none of the 20th century wars were waged with the objective of adding more territory to the United States.
Prior to 1938, Czechoslovakia possessed the Sudeten Mountains which separated the Czechs from Germany. The Czechs fortified the mountains with a first-rate Army backed by highly advanced aircraft of Czech manufacture. But most inhabitants of the Sudetenland were ethnic Germans. Another one of those crazy creations of the Treaty of Versailles. After Munich, when Chamberlain gave the Sudetenland to Hitler, the Czechs lost their defensible border and, like the rest of Europe, were doomed.
After the Balfour Declaration of 1917 asserted that the Jewish people should be restored to their historic homeland in Israel, the Jewish people became even more determined to regain control of the Holy Land with Jerusalem as the capital of an Israel reborn. Ironically, it was the murder of over 6 million Jews by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945 that gave wings to the Balfour Declaration. In 1948, spurred forward by the gruesome evidence of the Holocaust, U.S. President Harry Truman and the United Nations established the State of Israel. Unfortunately, the border between Israel and its Arab neighbors was only nine miles wide in certain areas, had no protective river or mountain obstacles, and was under direct observation from the Syrian-held Golan Heights.
When forces from 10 Arab nations attacked Israel in 1967, within six days the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) took the east bank of the Suez Canal, occupied the Sinai Desert and Gaza, gained control of the Golan Heights, and occupied the West Bank of the Jordan River.
From 1967 forward, Israel began to trade some of its territories in exchange for promises of peace from its Arab neighbors. Thus, Israel withdrew from the Suez Canal, gave the Sinai Desert to Egypt, granted autonomy to the Gaza Strip, and made a number of land swaps inside the so-called West Bank.
The Land for Peace Program failed because the Arab nations, with the exception of Egypt and Jordan, claim that Israel does not exist. In fact, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists that Israel should be “Wiped off the map.”
If Israel heeds Mr. Obama and gives up its “defensible borders,” the IDF’s only viable counter to a renewed attack by its Arab neighbors would be the IDF’s ample supply of nuclear weapons which, if used, could poison the planet. Duh.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
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