David Brooks views the Israeli invasion of Gaza not in terms of violence, death or chaos, but “psychology”:
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.
Em-phass-is mine. While there is certainly no clear consensus on what actually defines terrorism, few dispute the essential psychological impact of violent acts as part of the political calculus of the aggressor. For more on that, Clark McCauley wrote an excellent essay on the subject a few years ago. Worth another gander in our current context. But what is Brooks proposing – that raining death and destruction on innocent civilians is justifiable, so long as the aggressor is a state seeking long-lasting “psychological effects”? So long as someone tut-tuts their regrets, “mistakes were made” (if even that much) and quickly moves on to claim victimhood despite vastly disproportionate means and inflicted damage?