In the context of present crises I keep coming back to the thought that there are only two mercies in war: speed and clarity. In other words, a decisive victory for one side or the other. The worst thing in war is a conflict that never resolves, like a wound that never heals, that continues bleeding and suppurating for years.
So – however barbaric and detestable it might be – the removal of Armenians from the Karabakh region due to the swift military victory of Azerbaijan back in September, that was merciful. There are people alive now who would not have remained alive without the swiftness and certainty of that military victory. Life will carry on.
The opposite end of the spectrum is, of course, Israel. I wonder what would have happened if – at various points – the Israeli government had simply said ‘sod it’ and genuinely carried out some ethnic cleansing, in the way that Azerbaijan has. I rather suspect that the overall suffering would have been less in recent decades, for all sides. Instead, in an attempt to be ‘good’ and to win the good graces of all interlocutors, the great un-endable conflict increases and immiserates all involved.
Perhaps Israel needs a bit more of the Old Testament Heart…