David Brooks' recent essay on the conflict between Israel and Hamas left me a bit fuming. Brooks writes:
"This new game isn’t a war of attrition. It’s a struggle for confidence, a series of psychological exchanges designed to shift the balance of morale. The material destroyed in an episode can be replaced, but the psychological effects are more lasting. What is really important is how each episode ends, because the ending defines the meaning — who mastered events and who was mastered by them."
He has made out the violent exchanges between Israel and Hamas to be -- most importantly -- a "psychological game." He says the violence only destroys the "material" that "can be replaced" and which is not long-lasting. How can 150 innocent lives -- extinguished in this "game" -- be regarded so heartlessly? To talk about this conflict like nothing more than a chess game is to dehumanize those people that are being used as ivory pawns.
Even when he mentions that the "suffering of the innocents in Gaza magnifies" the psychological "reverberations," he is only mentioning the lives of these people in terms of their importance to the game. The suffering itself is irrelevant to him. As Brooks himself says to close the essay, "psychology matters most."
No, Mr. Brooks, these are real lives. His article is shameful.