Juan Cole, President of the Global Americana Institute, has an interesting article/essay (warning, its very long so be committed to reading it) about the conflict raging in the Gaza strip. What his piece does is look at the types of wars that Israel has fought with its Arab neighbors over time. In the opening he writes that:
With regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, we have entered the age of micro-wars.
This is an interesting characterization to me for many reasons. Cole’s article made me think (in a somewhat unrelated tangent to this article) about the current conflict.
I agree with the term “micro-war” because it does seem that these wars are significantly different from conventional warfare. While these wars are different in the sense that they don’t necessarily involve the “infantry, artillery, armor and air forces [that] played central roles” in earlier conflicts their seriousness is still conventional. What I’m worried about is that by characterizing these conflicts as “micro-wars” the press (assuming that this term gets spread in mainstream media) may be creating a situation in which the public begins to believe that these are simply small conflicts that aren’t lasting and that if we just give them time they will resolve themselves. I know this is a little different from what Cole means by micro-wars, but this is just how I see the majority of the public interpreting this term.
Furthermore, I have become concerned that in this age countries have begun to think that wars that they engage in will be resolved quickly (i.e. U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.). What worries me is what happens if a “micro-war” that doesn’t necessarily have the full commitment of a nation’s military force becomes a much larger conflict that cannot be resolved quickly? We saw in Iraq what can happen when a country undertakes military force without a contingency plan for after the fighting. So long as Israel, and other countries for that matter, enter into these conflicts with plans for getting out and for stabilization then the problems can be mitigated. If they begin to enter into conflicts over religion, territory, etc. without thinking past getting what they want then these “micro-wars” could become “macro-wars” pretty quickly.