Realism In War

     I hope the shade of the late, great Ursula Le Guin won’t mind the following longish excerpt from her short novel The Word For World Is Forest:

     “In Rieshwel, New Java. Fourteen days ago. A town was burned and its people killed by yumens of the Camp in Rieshwel.”
     “It’s a lie. We were in radio contact with New Java right along, until the massacre. Nobody was killing natives there or anywhere else.”
     “You’re speaking the truth you know,” Selver said, “I speak the truth I know. I accept your ignorance of the killings on Rieshwel; but you must accept my telling you that they were done. This remains: the promise must be made to us and with us, and it must be kept. You’ll wish to talk about these matters with Colonel Dongh and the others.”
     Gosse moved as if to re-enter the gate, then turned back and said in his deep, hoarse voice, “Who are you, Selver? Did you—was it you that organized the attack? Did you lead them?”
     “Yes, I did.”
     “Then all this blood is on your head,” Gosse said, and with sudden savagery, “Lyubov’s too, you know. He’s dead—your ‘friend Lyubov.’ ”
     Selver did not understand the idiom. He had learned murder, but of guilt he knew little beyond the name. As his gaze locked for a moment with Gosse’s pale, resentful stare, he felt afraid. A sickness rose up in him, a mortal chill. He tried to put it away from him, shutting his eyes a moment. At last he said, “Lyubov is my friend, and so not dead.”
     “You’re children,” Gosse said with hatred. “Children, savages. You have no conception of reality. This is no dream, this is real! You killed Lyubov. He’s dead. You killed the women—the women—you burned them alive, slaughtered them like animals!”
     “Should we have let them live?” said Selver with vehemence equal to Gosse’s, but softly, his voice singing a little. “To breed like insects in the carcass of the World? To overrun us? We killed them to sterilize you.… You are not children, you are grown men, but insane. And that’s why we had to kill you, before you drove us mad. Now go back and talk about reality with the other insane men. Talk long, and well!”

     Selver, who is humanoid but non-human, is a realist. In the above he educates Gosse, the representative of a Terran colonial expedition to Selver’s world, about reality. That expedition had been busily destroying the ecology of Selver’s world. If its personnel were permitted to multiply and continue its operations, it would have rendered the world uninhabitable for Selver’s species. There was only one measure that would make plain to the Terrans that their presence would not be tolerated: the elimination of their ability to reproduce. Thus, the Terran women had to die, for the alternative was genocide: a complete extermination that would have swept up every Terran on the planet.

     Horrifying? Yes. But in Selver’s eyes and those of his species, utterly necessary. Ponder it for a few moments before reading on.


     I’m not fond of war or bloodshed. Americans generally aren’t. But when the need has arisen, we’ve generally proved competent at it. The question of sole importance is always about the need.

     Some very intelligent people, and some very tenderhearted people, have decried Israel’s campaign in Gaza. But neither high intelligence nor tender sentiments guarantee the possession of the relevant perspective or the realism it demands.

     For the relevant perspective, the necessity is that of taking the enemy at his word, especially when it’s well confirmed by his recent actions. For the realism, one must understand and accept the imperatives of survival, whether personal, tribal, or racial. Without these things, one is incompetent to comment on a war in progress. One’s intellect and sentiments are irrelevant a priori.

     The situation in Gaza is this:

  1. Gaza is dominated by HAMAS and HAMAS allegiants;
  2. HAMAS has pledged itself to the destruction of Israel, the homeland of world Jewry;
  3. Point #2 is confirmed by:
    • The HAMAS Charter;
    • The attack on 10/7/2023, which killed 1400 Israelis;
    • The open, public statements of HAMAS’s representatives in several fora.
  4. Islam itself supports HAMAS’s intentions, as is made plain in its sacred scriptures.

     I’m sure there are some among our Gentle Readers who would disagree with me. Sorry, folks: It’s not an arguable point. You’re wrong and will remain wrong for as long as you fail to accept that you are non-combatants. You are not at war. You’re not even bystanders to it. Your survival and that of your tribe and race are not at stake.

     If Israel is to avert further attacks of the sort that occurred on October 7 of last year, it must destroy HAMAS. There are no alternatives. If that requires the complete depopulation of Gaza, then so be it. To recoil from the measures necessary would mean that the blood of future Israeli victims of HAMAS attacks would be on the hands of the decision makers who did so.

     Sometimes, it really is that clear.


     The protests against Israel for its campaign in Gaza aren’t entirely motivated by humanitarian concerns. Some are propelled by hatred of Israel, or of the Jews. There’s nothing to be said about such persons. We know them from their prior excursions into public view. For practical purposes, they are HAMAS’s allies in the war.

     But some who protest mean well. They’re simply not realists. There can never be a peace between two peoples when one is bent upon the other’s destruction. The protestors’ lack of comprehension of that irrefutable truth renders their protests irrelevant.

     It’s not pleasant to be told that one’s opinions and sentiments are irrelevant. But on occasion, it’s the only appropriate response. The war in Gaza is such an occasion. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.