Monday, June 15, 2009

On That Demilitarization Thing

Matt Yglesias' post gives me occasion to talk about one of the more interesting parts of Bibi Netanyahu's speech (the first in which he expresses willingness to recognize a Palestinian state): demilitarization.

I oppose requiring a Palestinian state to be demilitarized. The right to a military is a key part of what makes a state sovereign in the modern world -- refusing Palestine's right to have one is humiliating and likely to stoke resentment. And frankly, it is a stupid idea from the perspective of Israel's security: how else but through a military is Palestine supposed to interdict and suppress radical elements who may continue to battle Israel after independence is achieved? The call for a demilitarized state is one that seems to exhibit a rather naive faith in legal pronouncements; as if groups like Islamic Jihad and the PFLP will disarm simply out of deference to the agreement.

All that being said, the demilitarization call is not as radical as Yglesias makes it appear: it is part of the People's Voice plan that Yglesias himself endorsed a short while back.


PG said...

Why not require a Palestine like post-WWII Japan: with an internal police, but not allowed to act offensively? Surely Japan is a sovereign state in the modern world.

Matt said...

Indeed, part of the Oslo agreements was that Israel helped arm he Palestinian Authority. Demilitarized doesn't mean entirely unarmed, but without tanks and fighter planes. That's something largely agreed to in the past. Personally, I think such a demand is quite reasonable given the history -- except that I'm afraid many Israeli negotiators would be willing to let that demand stand in the way of a plausible peace agreement, without recognizing that it does have the emotional resonance you suggest.