The father of friend Mark Pincus is an Investor Relations/PR guy. He had the following to say in the Chicago Sun-Times:
IT’S TIME TO TAKE OFF THE GLOVES IN THE MIDEAST
By Ted Pincus
I’m a lifelong PR man who has preached forever the gospel that public opinion is the ultimate weapon. But isn’t thetime overdue for me, and maybe for you, to say “To hell with PR when survival is at stake”
In the current mideast conflict as at any other moment of turmoil, common sense says that the diplomatic card should always be played first to preclude bloodshed. But history has shown us that some conflicts have no diplomatic solution, as in two world wars and 9/11, where the enemy is sworn to kill you.
When the cards are stacked against you,it’s wise to walk out of the game. That’s what both Israel and the U.S. must do instead of wrestling with the twisted Orwellian logic of morality clouding world opinion and media coverage today. It’s just too dangerous to continue paying obeisance to elusive global goodwill at the expense of security.
But the real issue today isn’t the failure to find a diplomatic solution in the mideast, which I don’t believe will be found. Why haven’t the world leaders spoken out against this remarkable watershed event in human history in which –for Israel alone—the traditional rules are turned upside down and a monumental, unique double-standard applies? When was the last time a nation was attacked by unprovoked aggression and almost universally condemned for defending itself. When was the last time the defenders were demonized by charges of “disproportionate retaliation”? Was it following Pearl Harbor, when our response culminated with the incineration of over 400,000 civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Hardly. Was it following the buzz-bombing of Britain, when the response led to the leveling of Berlin, Dusseldorf and especially Dresden, and the destruction of Germany
Was it following 9/11, when the response was an invasion of Afghanistan and immense collateral damage? Did those responses ever need justification? And has anyone, anywhere, condemned JFK for nuclear brinksmanship in forcing Russia to remove its missiles from Cuba, 90 miles from our shores? Consider what our reaction would have been if 1900 of those missiles had landed on our cities –as experienced this past month by Israel in enduring the Hezbollah barrage.
Yet from the outset, despite the obvious fact that terrorist aggression clearly violated U.N. Resolution 1559 and was an act of open war, Israel has been castigated not only by Islam but by most other nations around the globe, and on the floor of the U.N. itself, led by its esteemed secretary general in his even-handed wisdom. A Pew Research poll just completed shows of course outrage among Muslims (the majority of whom, in each nation polled, also deny that Arabs ever committed the 9/11 attacks, and are in full support of Osama bin Laden), but also venom among “neutral” populations where only 38 percent of the French, 24 percent of the British and 9 percent of Spaniards sympathize with Israel. And even in America, its staunchest ally, only 48 percent express support, Pew reports. It’s the sad continuation of a half century in which miniscule Israel has been honored with more U.N. condemnation resolutions than all other countries combined.
I believe this has happened not despite the fact, but because of the fact that Israel, with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, is an island of democracy whose $100 billion economy is larger than all of its neighbors combined, and proportional to its population produces more university degrees, medical advancements, scientific papers, and tech innovation like the cellphone, Windows XP, and the Pentium chip, than any other nation on earth. Witnessing this, respect long ago was replaced by envy and bitterness.
What does all this say? It says that in this isolated case only, mankind’s rules of engagement do not apply. The very legitimacy of military response is in question, even in self defense, even to deter a fusillade of rockets, whose Iranian-made Fajr-5 may well reach Tel Aviv, as we speak.
Hitler was noted for his mastery of The Big Lie. That specter has returned again, with Iran’s Ahmadinejad not only urging Islam to “wipe Israel off the map” but denying that another guy tried 65 years ago and succeeded in preventing 6 million Jews from ever reaching Israel. And The Big Lie always evolves with one insidious question: “Who would ever believe it?” Mel Gibson already has.
Hollywood’s revered icon, who last year indignantly rebuffed anti-semitism accusations over his film “The Passion of the Christ”,this month managed to blurt out for the record his belief that “The Jews are responsible for all the wars of the world.”
The world chooses to believe things for convenience. It has learned that truth or fiction can be rationalized. The most graphic dramatization of this phenomenon was Friedrich Durrenmatt’s 1956 play, The Visit, in which an enormously rich woman, on a vendetta against one man, demanded to an astonished village that he should be punished for an imaginary crime. When she offered to bestow her wealth on the entire citizenry, they slowly began to disregard his purity and convince themselves that he was indeed guilty, and ultimately executed him. Although it’s largely unspoken, that’s the scenario today, where well-intentioned, pious, peace-loving nations are sufficiently blackmailed by the oil producers to bend age-old beliefs and concede that, for Israel, there should be a dual code of ethics. In sum, the hostage can be easily sacrificed, and in good conscience. This ambiguity is now coupled with another equally fearsome evolution –the end of conventional warfare as we know it, and the rise of asymmetric tactics.
As we found to our dismay in Afghanistan and Iraq, battle lines have evaporated, and so has the uniformed enemy soldier. Nowadays, everyone is a “civilian”—dressed as any harmless man,woman or child. The enemy intentionally imbeds itself in civilian networks, callously putting its own families at risk. The relative impossibility of combating this invisible foe, without creating collateral casualties, has been realized daily in Iraq and now Lebanon. “The human shield” has become the weapon of choice, like it or not.
But isn’t it interesting that over the several weeks of war in Lebanon, not one government or news medium has reported any Lebanese casualties but the “400 civilian deaths”. Is it possible that not one Hezbollah fighter has been identified among them? Has Israe killed only innocents?
Obviously, the PR War has been lost long ago by Israel and since 2003 by the U.S., as Pew Research reminds us monthly. There’s just no contending with a stacked deck. It’s automatic demonization. But there comes a time when humans and nations must put aside polite concerns about public opinion and shrug off the PR risks, when they’re fighting for their lives.
Given the aspirations of the world’s religious fundamentalists, their oil money, arsenal, suicidal bent, and brand new mode of “all civilian warfare,” It soon may not be only Israel fighting for its life but the entire free world. In that struggle there’s something even more important than your reputation. It’s your skin. And in that card game, all bets are off.