What does it imply about us, when the thing we are so desperately chasing is, at the end of the day, just a picture?
“The pursuit of happiness” are the immortal words used by the authors of the American Declaration of Independence to define one of the unalienable rights that have been given to all humans, along with “life” and “liberty”. This is what the founding fathers of the American nation had in mind: the state must provide its citizens with the tools they need to live like human beings, free, and hopefully happy. Now, let’s travel 245 years into the future and 9,200 km eastward, to a stressed out, sweaty country. A country where all the Churchillian leaders have to offer us is blood, sweat, and the pursuit of a victory snapshot.
It is not victory itself that we yearn for. First of all, because even the finest strategic minds have no idea what it is and how to achieve it. And secondly, because even if there is a way to achieve it, it involves the loss of soldiers, a price tag that is unpayable in Israel’s public arena.
So all that is left is to reverse-engineer history, and try to glean a strategy from it. The US Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima? A victory photo. The Soviet soldier raising the flag with the hammer and sickle over the ruins of the Reichstag in Berlin? A victory photo. A young Brigadier general Yossi Ben Hanan in the waters of the Suez Canal triumphantly clutching a plundered Kalashnikov assault riddle, spread all over that now-immortal cover of Life magazine? A victory photo. So maybe, people in Israel are thinking out loud, ever since the Second Lebanon War and the attempt to create a victory snapshot at Bint Jbeil, we can just skip the victory and move on the picture?
True, a “victory photo” is a concept and we’re just nitpicking. According to the concept, in military conflicts, a single sharp, smart military move can be planned and executed, that will take the wind out of the enemy’s sails in one fell swoop. There’s no need to storm in with divisions and conquer hundreds of square miles, the concept holds, you can launch a well-planned surgical strike with a psychological effect that is so great that the enemy will lose its desire to continue fighting on the one hand, and the world will acknowledge you as victor on the other.
And yet, the concept is a long read and far from easy to understand. Until it seeps down and makes its way to the public, in press briefings to correspondents, in commentaries, in tweets by self-claimed people by the know, all there is are the words hanging in the air with their literal meaning: give us a picture. You promised a picture. Is a building with a few apartments that collapsed the picture? A bulldozer digging bodies of dead terrorists out of bombed tunnels, is that the picture? Is it enough for us as the picture? Or do our addicted bodies now need our snuff pics in bigger doses? So where’s the picture? And where’s the victory?
And that truly is a shame.