Walzer on Lebanon

by Chris Bertram on July 20, 2006

Michael Walzer has a piece in the New Republic which addresses the question of how Israel may legitimately prosecute its war in Lebanon. There’s much to agree with in the piece, especially since Walzer is clear about the impermissibility of deliberately killing civilians and deliberately destroying the infrastructure necessary to support civilian life. There’s also much with which I disagree. Walzer tends to take IDF claims about the extent to which they actually do seek to minimize civilian casualities at face value; the reports from Lebanon would seem to support a more sceptical stance. I was, however, brought up short by this:

the Israeli response has only a short-term aim: to stop the attacks across its borders… Until there is an effective Lebanese army and a Palestinian government that believes in co-existence, Israel is entitled to act, within the dialectical limits, on its own behalf.

Now I don’t dissent from the proposition that Israel is entitled to act to stop attacks across its borders. But Walzer’s linkage of that claim to the capacity of the Lebanese government is surely perverse. The claimed legitimacy of many of the Israeli actions has hinged on the failure of Lebanese government to act and on its legal responsibility to do so. Attacks on facilities outside the Hezbollah zone of control have been conducted with this explicit justification. But if it is part of the case for action that the Lebanese government actually lacks the capacity to act—as it surely does—then those operations were wrong.

Israel can’t simultaneously base its justification for action on the responsibility of the Lebanese government to act and on its incapacity to do so, except insofar as it limits itself to actions that an effective Lebanese government would be duty-bound to perform, namely, suppressing Hezbollah. But Israel hasn’t limited itself to such actions, it has attacked other Lebanese targets.

The Walzer justification could surely only be offered in good faith by a party that was also committed to enabling the Lebanese government to exercise effective sovereignty over its territory. The Israeli attacks aren’t strengthening the post-Cedar-revolution government, they are increasing the probability that Lebanon will once again descend into being a failed state.

Trying to make sense of what Israel is actually doing is hard, in my opinion. I don’t believe that Israel can destroy Hezbollah by direct military action, and I’m sure they don’t believe so either. The point of their action can’t be to get the Lebanese government to act, because, as the Walzer justification insists, they lack the capacity to do so. So what are they trying to do? My guess, is that they are trying to exploit the US commitment to a post-Syrian Lebanese order to bounce the US into acting against Syria and Iran. “Take action Condi, or we’ll screw an important plank of your Middle East policy” is the message, and this might indeed be an effective way to get Hezbollah to stop firing rockets. If Iran or Syria pushed Hezbollah to provoke Israel (and I think it very likely they did) then presumably they’re also trying to pressure the US to make a deal in some way whilst they can. Lebanese civilians are expendable chips in what looks like a high stakes game of diplomatic poker.

{ 191 comments }

1

Brendan 07.20.06 at 6:09 am

For what it’s worth (and according the Chomsky haters that will be ‘not much’) the ubiquitous (in the Western press) story the current invasion of Lebanon by Israel was provoked by Hizbollah is disputed.

‘The latest phase began on June 24. It was when Israel abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. We don’t know their names. You don’t know the names of victims. They were taken to Israel, presumably, and nobody knows their fate. The next day, something happened, which we do know about, a lot. Militants in Gaza, probably Islamic Jihad, abducted an Israeli soldier across the border. That’s Corporal Gilad Shalit. And that’s well known; first abduction is not. Then followed the escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza, which I don’t have to repeat. It’s reported on adequately.

The next stage was Hezbollah’s abduction of two Israeli soldiers, (they say) on the border. Their official reason for this is that they are aiming for prisoner release. There are a few (prisoners), nobody knows how many. Officially, there are three Lebanese prisoners in Israel. (But) there’s allegedly a couple of hundred (Lebanese) people missing. Who knows where they are?’

Of course if you view the struggle in Lebanon and the struggle in Palestine as being totally and completely unconnected, no links between them at all, goodness no, then of course it is undeniably true that Hizbollah ‘started it’.

2

Chris Bertram 07.20.06 at 6:27 am

Thanks Brendan. For those who would prefer a non-Chomsky-sourced version of the same facts re Gaza, Gideon Levy covered them in Haaretz

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/733427.html

However, even if this is correct about Gaza, I don’t see how it would justify the Hezbollah actions both in seizing soldiers and _especially_ in firing rockets against civilian targets. Israel surely would be entitled to respond to _that_ (though not in the manner that it has).

3

Chris Bertram 07.20.06 at 6:46 am

I’ve just noticed the following amazing passage by Shalom Lappin over at Normblog:

bq. Israel’s strategy appears to be focused on destroying Lebanese civilian infrastructure in order to pressure the anti-Syrian elements in the country to constrain Hizbollah. While there is evidence of widespread disaffection among the Lebanese at Hizbollah’s military adventurism, the continuation of the relentless aerial attack on the country threatens to undermine the fragile anti-Syrian coalition that it was intended to force into action.

Two comments. 1. Lappin appears not to notice (or prefers not to mention) that the Israeli policy _as he describes it_ involves breaches of the laws of war. 2. In attributing to the Israeli leadership the belief that bombing non-Hezbollah Lebanese would get them to act against Hezbollah, Lappin charitably thinks that the operation involves a _miscalculation_ on Israel’s part.

4

Scott Martens 07.20.06 at 7:02 am

Please allow me this brief moment of cynical, shrill bitching:

No one in the Middle East – not Israel, not Hezbollah, not Hamas, no one – gives a flying f*** what Walzer or Chris or anyone else thinks is and isn’t justified under anyone’s theories about the laws of war.

There is no notion of good sportsmanship in warfare. No credit is given for playing fair, and no one ever does anything “for the sake of the game”. There is only winning and losing. To imagine the IDF feels any differently on this issue than Hezbollah does is pure self delusion.

States are not people. They do not possess rights that anyone else is bound to uphold unless they can force them to. They enjoy no system of due process. They are never fair if they don’t have to be. It is abundantly clear to all the participants in this war that neither Israel nor Hezbollah nor Lebanon has any rights whatsoever outside those they can make others uphold, which appears to be none whatsoever. Claims about the legality or illegality of any of the participants actions fall, unquestionably, on deaf ears. Every aspect of recent political history in the Middle East exposes as complete nonsense the idea that some binding moral code exists for the conduct of warfare which has any impact on outcomes at all. Any attempt to deploy one is nothing more than another weapon of war – a means to discredit one’s enemies.

I see no grounds to concede any more right for Israel to defend itself than I would for Hamas or Hezbollah to defend themselves against an Israel that clearly shows nothing but hostile intentions towards them and those they genuinely wish to protect. It does nothing but had another weapon to killers on both sides.

So, screw what Israel can “legitimately” do. Legitimacy has no more impact on their actions than astrology does, so why should I regard the one as more relevant than the other?

Okay, I’m done being shrill.

As for “trying to make sense of what Israel is actually doing”, I would offer the following pure guess:

Israel is trying to create a regional conflagration while it can still rely on the US to provide unconditional support. Olmert fears that the 2006 election will lead to a Congress less willing to engage in stupid, useless wars in the Middle East. If he can trigger a war that he can’t win between now and November, he may be able to get the US to bail him out.

Hezbollah believes that it has already defeated Israel once (and isn’t totally wrong in reaching that conclusion) and is showing remarkable military acumen in their latest attacks, reaching deep inside Israel, taking fewer casualties in skirmishes with the IDF than the IDF has, and very nearly taking out an Israeli ship-of-the-line with what appears to be some kind of possibly home-made cruise missile. This is heady stuff for a non-state force. Olmert runs a real risk of losing this conflict by taking casualties and having nothing to show for it. But if he can get Israelis to feel threatened enough, he can reap political gain at home, and if he can turn this into a war in which the US attacks Syria and Iran, he can be a net winner.

5

Dan Kervick 07.20.06 at 7:14 am

Trying to make sense of what Israel is actually doing is hard, in my opinion. I don’t believe that Israel can destroy Hezbollah by direct military action, and I’m sure they don’t believe so either. The point of their action can’t be to get the Lebanese government to act, because, as the Walzer justification insists, they lack the capacity to do so. So what are they trying to do? My guess, is that they are trying to exploit the US commitment to a post-Syrian Lebanese order to bounce the US into acting against Syria and Iran.

I too have been trying to figure out what Israel is actually trying to do. Three hypotheses, not necessarily exclusive:

1. The attacks in Lebanon have been directed against ports, bridges and other infrastructure. I wonder if this simply means that Israel is planning for a very long war, including extended search-and-destroy ground operations, and they are preparing the battlefield by attempting to isolate Hizbollah in the south and taking steps to prevent their resupply. If the plan is to gradually degrade Hiszbollah’s military capacity, by destroying weaponry and killing cadres faster than Hisbollah can aquire more, then undermining ports and existing overland supply routes would be a natural first step.

(Of course this is not inconsistent with the expanded war expalnation, because such re-supplies are likely to come anyway from Iran and Syria, which will then provide the cause for expanded US military involvement in the region – especially if it involves arms smuggling from Iran, through Iraq, and into Syria.)

2. Israel understands very well that Lebabon lacks the capacity to challenge and rein in Hizbollah. But by making life miserable for the Lebanese government and people, they somehow hope to induce them to develop that capacity, or force them to invite foreign troops (Arab troops? US troops?) into the country to do the job for them. They may be hoping that growing concern among Sunni countries about the growing power of the “Shiite crescent” will lead some of those countries to intervene on behalf of the Lebanese government against Hizbollah. This approach is also likely to lead to an expanded war.

I don’t think Walzer would be able to find a justification for this one. It amounts to pursuing a military goal indirectly by mounting a terror campaign.

3. The Israelis are expecting a hard, ugly, nasty war in the south of Lebanon, and they don’t want a lot of foreign Western observers around, listening to strories from refugees as they flow north, and relaying their views to the media. So they are scaring everyone out of the country. By selectively bombing airports, roads and ports, people visiting Lebanon are likely to think “I have to get out now while I still have the chance.”

Again, I doubt this sort of behavior can be fit into Walzer’s moral framework for war.

I would like to register my skepticism about a theme behind much of the speculation in recent days: that Israel is trying to goad, drag or otherwise coerce the US into taking actions it is otherwise loathe to take. In my view, it is more likely that the US has coordinated an overall war plan with Israel, and is now using Israel to open up the initial front, and create the circumstances for gradual escalation, and US intervention.

In observing the reactions of people in my own (US) government, one certainly doesn’t detect a sense of crisis, or pique or frustration.

6

Scott Martens 07.20.06 at 7:25 am

Dan, Hezbollah has shown a lot of new skills lately that seem to have taken the IDF by surprise. That seems to be a real motivator behind doing this now. I have a hard time seeing some well thought out conspiracy between the US and Israel in this. More likely, I think something half-assed and poorly planned is afoot.

If the intent is to get the US involved, then the Fall election timetable has to play an important role, because there is a real risk of a Congress that isn’t willing to go to war in Syria or Iran. Bush is certainly not talking like someone prepared to step in on Israel’s behalf, even in unscripted moments like the one accidentally caught on tape the other day.

7

Barry 07.20.06 at 7:28 am

Scott, that’s probably a major factor – the Likkudniks in Israel are supporting their Likkudnik brethren in the GOP.

As for The New Republican, the only other issue than the Middle East on which their credibility is lower is Joe Lieberman.

The best and simplest thing to say about The New Republican is that they’re a pack of wh*res, who occasionally tell the truth, generally by accident.

8

abb1 07.20.06 at 7:37 am

In my view, it is more likely that the US has coordinated an overall war plan with Israel, and is now using Israel to open up the initial front, and create the circumstances for gradual escalation, and US intervention.

I also feel that this may have been initiated by the US, only not necessarily for gradual escalation and intervention, but simply as a show of force in respect to the sorry spectacle of US’ ass being currently kicked in Iraq.

9

Daniel 07.20.06 at 7:54 am

The best and simplest thing to say about The New Republican is that they’re a pack of wh*res, who occasionally tell the truth, generally by accident.

In qualified defence of the Even The Liberal New Republic, I will say that Even The Liberal David Rieff wrote a very good piece for them about Darfur, in which he actually seemed to be taking back a lot of previous interventionism.

10

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 8:03 am

I did find it interesting that Walzer has become a member of the editorial board of New Republic. That makes much more sense than posturing as a social democrat with the rest of the liberals over at Dissent Magazine. (Did you hear that they were merging with Commentary Magazine? The new journal will be called Dysentery.) Somebody should write a book about the emergence of a new, highly self-aware and militant layer of journalists and professors who are about Walzer’s age and who operate as a kind of brain trust for US imperialism. A lot of them are involved with Dissent, like Paul Berman and Kenan Makiya. Berman, like Walzer, also contributes to New Republic. Unlike the 1930s generation that defected to the right and who were analyzed by Frances Stonor Saunders in “Who Paid the Piper,” this new generation of turncoats had no great trauma like the Moscow Trials, etc. to set them off. At the risk of sounding like a vulgar Marxist, I think a lot of it has to do with a simple materialist explanation–namely that there is good money in finking for the US State Department.

11

Bob B 07.20.06 at 8:11 am

With the continuing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and now Palestine as well, the alleged Iranian ambitions to have a nuclear weapon start to look entirely rational.

12

jet 07.20.06 at 8:35 am

When you can find names for the “kidnapped” Palestinian Dr. and his friends, the story might sound a bit more believable. On a side note, I hear Canada kidnapped 3 bartenders, 2 waitresses, and a topless dancer from Texas.

As for the Lebanese military not having the power to stop Hezbollah, the IDF has offered to support them in any military actions against Hezbollah. The Lebanese don’t want to get rid of Hezbollah quite so bad as to ally with the Jews. This coupled with the general in charge of the Lebanese army speaking the virtues of Hezbollah makes them a fairly willing partner to Hezbollahs attacks on Israel. Or am I missing something here?

13

abb1 07.20.06 at 8:46 am

BBC News reported June 24: Israel captures pair in Gaza raid

The Israeli military said the two brothers were members of the militant group Hamas and were planning attacks on Israel.

Hamas said they were sons of a member but were not involved in Hamas. It called the abduction a crime.

The two captured men were brothers Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, sons of Hamas activist Ali Muamar.

Ali Muamar told Reuters news agency he awoke to see Israeli troops scaling down his wall.

“They blindfolded and handcuffed me and started beating me up with the butts of their rifles and kicking me,” said Mr Muamar, who was treated in hospital for wounds.

Mr Muamar said the soldiers seized his computer and left after about an hour.

14

Brendan 07.20.06 at 8:51 am

‘Or am I missing something here?’

Well, as I pointed out, if you see the Israeli war against Palestine (which is really a de facto invasion, indeed, invasion and colonisation) and now the invasion of Lebanon as two totally discrete and unconnected events then no, you’re not missing anything.

I might point out that Israel is now fighting a war on two fronts, which has always turned out well for anyone who has tried it in the past.

15

Oliver Kamm 07.20.06 at 9:20 am

I did find it interesting that Walzer has become a member of the editorial board of New Republic.

Walzer has in fact been a contributing editor to The New Republic since 1977. I’m certain that Proyect’s “simple materialist explanation” will be able to assimilate this information.

Coincidentally, 1977 is also the date of that joke about dysentery, which Proyect came up with when he was still known as Woody Allen.

16

fred lapides 07.20.06 at 9:37 am

It seems to be fairly obvious what Isarael is up to: castrate Hezbollah as much as possible. Do not invade–that had not worked. Then allow the UN and the US to try to settle it but insist that a NATO like force act as buffer since Lebanonese army and UN not able to do this (as has been shown in the past)…With buffer zone in place, Lebanese can live with or try to do without Hezballah. Should Hez. attempt to shoot rockets they will be going up against an armed force sent to deter them…and that gets Israel protgected and off the hook.

17

abb1 07.20.06 at 9:52 am

You don’t castrate a popular organization by making it more popular. That’s just silly. They are not that stupid.

18

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 10:04 am

Thanks to the bond seller for the clarification on Walzer, his fellow Rudyard Kiplingite. Since Walzer writes for the TNR so rarely and seems to prefer Dissent as an outlet for his toxic outbursts, my slip-up is understandable. Furthermore, I don’t really keep track of the peregrinations of the imperialist left the way I should, I guess. It has the same effect on me as an emetic.

19

Martin James 07.20.06 at 10:12 am

Scott Martens:

Of course, no one in the Middle East cares about the laws of war. The question is whether anyone else cares about the laws of war enough tot ake actino to enforce them.

In other words, is the point of Bertram’s rhetoric about war crimes to actually advocate those who do believe war crimes are being committed to take action against those war crimes?

After thinking it over, I’ve come to the conclusion, no. He’s being ironic.

Israel is violating the laws of war, obviously no one is going to take action to stop them, therefore the laws are meaningless.

20

ranko 07.20.06 at 10:12 am

“Or am I missing something here?”

The U.S. and Israel had/have no illusions about the Lebanese government’s ability to disarm Hezbollah. They were/are intimately aware of the Lebanon’s military capacity and configuration. That’s something even a savage would pick up after 18 years as an occupier.

As for ‘missing something’, I would have to say that aside from the indiscriminate killing of civilians – you should consider the ‘mass punishment of a whole people’.

The IDF is targeting milk factories, pharmaceutical plants and aid convoys. The lone Lebanese military barracks they hit was calculated. They weren’t even combat soldiers, they were a logistics unit. Ten of them. Dead. Their job was to repair bridges and electrical lines.

So…

Before you continue with your disingenuous defense of what are obvious war crimes, ask yourself if IDF top dog Dan Halutz was kidding when he said they would “turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years.”

21

Dan Kervick 07.20.06 at 10:29 am

Scott, I don’t think that in the present environment a plan of this type has to be very well thought out in order to work. Nor do I think what I am suggesting amounts to much of a conspiracy, unless you think that every time military planners execute a plan that involves some degree of stealth and a propaganda campaign, it is a conspiracy. It is not hard to predict that a war between Israel and Hizbollah will stimulate Syrian and Iranian reactions, at least of some kind, and thus allow ample opportunity to turn up the volume on the propaganda dial to ear-piercing levels. And what Syria and Iran don’t actaully do can simply be made up and passed along to the media, which will pass most of it along to the public. You don’t have to be a genius planner to carry this off, and you don’t need to predict the details. You just take whatever comes up and hype it.

It is also not hard to predict that, over the next few months, a number of things will happen in Iraq that can similarly be pinned on Syria and Iran – the usual stuff: IDF’s and other weapons used against US soldiers that have come from Iran, safe harbor provided to terrorists, etc. Border incidents are also easy to manage, since there are usually no reporters there to see what really happened. Again, you don’t have to be able to predict the details. You just hype them in the right way as they come up. Maybe one day instead of just ignoring the news of the deaths of some soldiers, which is Bush’s wont – he decides to hold a press event with tearful relatives of the soldiers’ families in attendance, and incriminating photos and stern words about the diabolical Iranian assistance in supplying the IDFs that killed them.

Eventually the sense can be created that the US and Israel are both under siege from Iran and Syria, and the requisite fury, vengefulness and hysteria can be manufactured. You add a few final little news items like a report that “intelligence sources have revealed that Iran is far closer to a nuclear weapon than previously realized.” You then arrest a few people in the states and accuse them of being Hizbollah operatives, and scare the shit out of everybody. And there you go – off and running.

And frankly … congress-shmongress. When in recent US history has the congress successfully blocked a US military action that the President really wanted to take? If the White House decides it wants to go to war against Iran, I believe they can get the war they want.

I suppose I may be more cynical than you about how easy it still is, in the present environment, to work the American public up into a war frenzy, especially against Muslims. You may think that there are now a lot of Iraq war critics in America, who have grown skeptical and wary of government statements, are weary of war, and have learned from experience. But Americans are “optimists”. Most of them are only skeptical about the lies of the past when they have been forced over a long period of time to understand they were lies. But they are ever receptive to new lies that offer the promise of an uplifting patriotic cause, an opportunity to redeem the errors of the past, and a reason to reaffirm their faith in the essential goodness and honesty of our leaders.

People have been way too eager to believe that there has been some big “Condi and the realists are in charge” sea change in the US government. Rumors of the death of the Bush doctrine have been, in my opinion, greatly exaggerated. Bush and Cheney are still in charge. I think Gingrich’s recent words are closer to the view at the top than conventional punditry recognizes.

I suspect you are right that Bush is not planning on intervening on behalf of Israel against Hizbollah. That would be a very hard sell. But he is planning to go to war against Iran, and wants to allow the Israeli-Hizbollah conflict to develop so as to prepare the way for that conflict. And that’s why he is so opposed to cease fire calls. He doesn’t want to put out this fire before it spreads where he wants it to.

I did think initially that he probably wanted to wait until after the fall, in order to help moderate Republicans keep their seats. But I now think they have made a different political calculation. They think they can bring back the war fever glory days, and help Republicans in that way by moving the public back toward them.

22

Brendan 07.20.06 at 10:55 am

‘Thanks to the bond seller for the clarification on Walzer, his fellow Rudyard Kiplingite. ‘

He’s not a bond seller he’s a hedge trader. He sells hedges. To hedgehogs, presumably.

23

Chris Bertram 07.20.06 at 11:11 am

Louis P, whatever your disagreements with Walzer, I really don’t think your view of him as a “defector to the right” is plausible. He’s maintained a pretty consistent social democratic politics for many years, and has written eloquently on issues around the ethics of war. I happen to think that his critical faculties diminish when Israel is the topic he’s discussing, but I don’t think that a reason to doubt his integrity.

24

abb1 07.20.06 at 11:16 am

Israel is violating the laws of war, obviously no one is going to take action to stop them, therefore the laws are meaningless.

Well, nature abhors a vacuum – and so Hezbullah and Hamas fill the need.

25

y81 07.20.06 at 11:16 am

Leaving aside the various loony left ravings, and most definitely ignoring those who believe that if Hamas says someone is innocent, it must be true, and noting that there seem to be more baby milk plants in the Arab world to get hit by Israeli or American bombs than there are in all of New York City, we are left with the question of what the Israeli government is trying to accomplish. The most plausible answer is to degrade Hezbollah’s war fighting capacity to a more tolerable level by destroying missile emplacements, safe houses etc., inflicting casualties, possibly killing a number of leaders etc. There isn’t any reason to think that Israel’s plans are poorly-made: this is a very experienced and successful military, and I’m sure the operation is at least as well-planned as the average academic conference. The attacks on non-military targets seem mostly to involve transportation facilities (plus the baby milk plants, of course!), which would fit in with a “preparing the battlefield” strategy. (As Colin Powell said, “First we’re going to cut it off, then we’re going to kill it.”) So Israel’s actions seem perfectly explicable without reference to the Zionist world conspiracy.

Will Israel’s plans work? In war, there are two (at least!) sides who get to participate. We will who is indeed the party of God, I guess, or whose God is stronger, or something.

26

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.20.06 at 11:19 am

I don’t mean to be rude, but hasn’t it occurred to anyone here that if Israel’s real goal was just collective punishment against Leabanon instead of attacking Hezbollah, they could be doing a lot more damage than they are now? Unlike Hezbollah’s unguided rockets, Israel has guided missiles. They are hitting targets that their intelligence says are targets. That intelligence is often wrong, which is really unfortunate. But if they were aiming to cripple civilian life, they have the ability to do much worse. If they wanted to they really could target all the hospitals. If they were really trying to mess with milk production they could really target all the milk production plants.

I suggest that you can argue in good faith about what the Israelis really want to do, but the suggestions on this thread are counter to the real-world facts.

27

RedWolf 07.20.06 at 11:37 am

It’s a joy to read the post and the comments on it; it’s like reading science fiction. Joining Sebastian, this seems as the fiction-based community. Have another beer on me.

28

P O'Neill 07.20.06 at 11:39 am

Like Chris, there are many elements of the Israeli strategy that I don’t understand. This morning’s depressing BBC listen included reference to the fact that there’s at best one safe area in Tyre, which is the hotel where the UN personnel are staying. What happens when everyone in Tyre decides that that’s the safest place to be, and hundreds of people decide to pack in around that area? One stray bomb, or indeed one Israeli claim that the Hezbollah human shield tactic now extends in there, and it’s disaster.

29

Brendan 07.20.06 at 11:47 am

‘I don’t mean to be rude, but hasn’t it occurred to anyone here that if Israel’s real goal was just collective punishment against Leabanon instead of attacking Hezbollah, they could be doing a lot more damage than they are now.’

Well yeah, but everyone functions in a political context. After all, if Israel really wanted to create some havoc they could use all those nuclear weapons they don’t have. But the fact is that even our outrageously slanted media will feel duty bound to report dead Lebanese children if the numbers get high enough (although always being careful to point out that this is all Hizbollah’s fault really). All armies fight two wars: the ‘real’ war and the propaganda war.

In any case it is unlikely that Israel’s aim is just collective punishment. Just what Israel’s real aims are, however, is somewhat mysterious. It cannot be said often enough that we have been here before. The current ‘buffer zone’ idea is nothing but “Operation Peace for Gallilee” which was such a triumphant success in 1982 in creating the past quarter century of peace security and happiness for ordinary Israelis. There is also the matter of injured pride. The current bunch of no-hopers and imbeciles planning this insane operation, are, on the whole, the same bunch of imbeciles and no hopers who planned and ‘fought’ (i.e. made other people fight) essentially the same war back in the ’80s. The fact that the result was Israel’s most humiliating defeat, destroying the Israeli army’s ill deserved reputation as some sort of a great fighting force, has rankled ever since. Therefore, like the World War 1 generals, they have a new, fantastic plan…let’s do it all over again! Only this time, let’s really fuck things up.

In terms of political goals, who knows? All one knows in advance is that whatever they are, they will be moronic, unachievable and counterproductive (and mindless applauded by non-soldiers who like the idea of fighting but not as much as they like the idea of sitting on their arses and watching Big Brother). However here’s a guess: ‘THE REAL aim is to change the regime in Lebanon and to install a puppet government. That was the aim of Ariel Sharon’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. It failed. But Sharon and his pupils in the military and political leadership have never really given up on it. As in 1982, the present operation, too, was planned and is being carried out in full coordination with the US. As then, there is no doubt that it is coordinated with a part of the Lebanese elite. That’s the main thing. Everything else is noise and propaganda.’

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1152991173

30

abb1 07.20.06 at 11:48 am

I hope I’m not over my limit yet.

The most plausible answer is to degrade Hezbollah’s war fighting capacity

Y81, think about it: they’ve been degrading Hamas war fighting capacity for 6 years now. They have full control over WB and Gaza – all borders sealed 100%, full blockade from the sea, air and the perimeters (including the Egyptian border), their troops have easy access inside, they have hundreds of snitchs there and they’ve been assassinating anything and everything Hamas for 6 years.

And what do they have to show for it? Hamas won the elections and has more and better rockets to fire. Much dreaded PLO is now considered moderate.

And it’s the same with the Hezbollah – it’s getting bigger, stronger and meaner with every missile fired at Beirut, it’s obvious. And it’s hard for me to believe that they don’t understand it.

31

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 11:49 am

When I use the term “right” to describe Walzer, I don’t mean that he is about to hook up with the National Review although some of his fellow travelers certainly might–Hitchens above all. I am instead speaking of a drift to the right among Democratic Party liberal intellectuals and social democrats. In 1968, when many of them were young, you can bet that they would have backed Eugene McCarthy. Although I never would have voted for a Democrat, McCarthy’s strictures against “policing the world” were embraced by the student left, including a number of people who went on to cheer NATO’s war in the Balkans. In many respects, this sordid episode prepared the way for many of these people to become propagandists for the American Empire. Despite extreme cases like Paul Berman and Christopher Hitchens, it is not exactly Bush’s foreign policy. It is Madeline Albright’s. That is what we have come to and it is really pathetic. When people like Walzer were undergraduates, I’ll bet that they would have been appalled by statements to the effect that it was necessary to cause the death of 500,000 children in a country on the USA’s hit-list. But as they became tenured professors or got jobs with newspapers like the NY Times and the Guardian, it became a lot easier. Whatever pangs of conscience they had, it was salved by the knowledged that they would finally be able to buy that West End Avenue apartment they lusted after.

32

Brendan 07.20.06 at 11:51 am

‘Have another beer on me.’

Oh no, Redwolf let me. In fact, when Israel achieves its political and military goals (whatever they are, as they seem to have a habit of changing week by week, and sometimes minute by minute), I’ll buy you ten beers.

And when Israel walks away from this mess, weakened and humiliated, just like last time, you can buy me one.

33

Nathaniel Thomas 07.20.06 at 11:59 am

I like how Kamm felt the need to point out that Proyect’s joke was from Woody Allen (namely Annie Hall). It’s not exactly an obscure film and I suspect Proyect thought people at a website that probably shares demographics with people who watch Woody Allen films would get the reference. Though Proyect does use it whenever Dissent comes up.

“Oh no, people are going to think he came up with that! I must tell them about Woody Allen!”

(Admittedly, I think I disagree with Kamm’s politics and likely agree more with Proyect’s. Just a disclaimer.)

34

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 12:00 pm

y81: “There isn’t any reason to think that Israel’s plans are poorly-made: this is a very experienced and successful military, and I’m sure the operation is at least as well-planned as the average academic conference.”

http://www.harpers.org/NoExit.html

From an interview with Israeli soldiers (who are identified by pseudonyms) conducted by Israeli journalist Uri Blau and printed in Kol Ha’Ir, a Jerusalem weekly, in September 2001. Translated from the Hebrew by Tal Haran. Originally from April 2002.

Erez: What do you mean “punitive shooting”? A reaction to something?

Roi: Reaction to their shooting. In Hebron there’s punitive fire. Shoot at everything you see. Cars, things, anything that moves. It’s like taking out your anger on everything. Shooting relaxes you, like meditation.

Tzvi: I find what Roi said a bit sick, that shooting people is therapy.

Roi: Don’t you release stress when you shoot?

Tzvi: No, not at all. I don’t even have the energy for that anymore. I’m totally apathetic. I’ve had occasion — I believe everyone here has — to shoot people.

Roi: We had a five-day operation in the territories on firing grounds, and basically Bedouins are not allowed to be there. The officer stops the vehicle and asks, “Who’s ready?” I step out, another guy steps out, and then about 300 yards from us we see a poor Bedouin shepherd walking out on the grass at the firing ground. The officer says, “Okay, go ahead.” We lie down, one bullet to the left of the herd, one bullet to the right of the herd . . .

Blau: Why?

Roi: Because shooting live ammo has become so fluid, so trivial.

35

Kevin Donoghue 07.20.06 at 12:00 pm

If they wanted to they really could target all the hospitals.

Sure they could, Sebastian. And if you wanted to you could deal with a claim which isn’t a straw man. Or did someone actually say that Israel’s real goal was just collective punishment, that and nothing more? It’s a means to an end and the issue is whether the end justifies the means.

36

Uncle Kvetch 07.20.06 at 12:01 pm

What Dan Kervick said.

Olmert fears that the 2006 election will lead to a Congress less willing to engage in stupid, useless wars in the Middle East.

Given the behavior of the Democrats in Washington over the past week, he has absolutely nothing to worry about.

37

Brendan 07.20.06 at 12:14 pm

Sorry but this wonderful piece of logic has to be brought to the attention of the world.

‘Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan insisted the Israeli army never targets civilians but has no way of knowing whether they are in an area it is striking. “Civilians might be in the area because Hezbollah is operating from civilian territory,” Nehushtan said. ‘.

If Bertrand Russell were alive today he’d be spinning in his grave etc.

38

Eamonn Fitzgerald 07.20.06 at 12:15 pm

Astonishing to find this kind of conspiracy theory here. Or perhaps not. With its globalization phobia and ravings about everything from the WTO to the World Bank, the Left has become the new home of paranoia. Has anyone heard anything about UFO sightings on the Lebanon border?

39

Kevin Donoghue 07.20.06 at 12:48 pm

…ravings about everything from the WTO to the World Bank….

That’s a bit weak isn’t it? A bit like “everything from Bank to Moorgate”.

40

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.20.06 at 12:49 pm

“Or did someone actually say that Israel’s real goal was just collective punishment, that and nothing more? It’s a means to an end and the issue is whether the end justifies the means.”

You are arguing that their means is collective punishment. I’m pointing out that if that is their means, they could easily do a lot better job at it. If they were really targetting milk factories because they wanted to get rid of milk factories they wouldn’t just hit one.

41

abb1 07.20.06 at 12:51 pm

What’s your sane explanation from the Right of the phenomenon being discussed here, Eamonn? Please share, don’t be shy.

42

Kevin Donoghue 07.20.06 at 1:04 pm

You are arguing that their means is collective punishment. I’m pointing out that if that is their means, they could easily do a lot better job at it.

Yes, until somebody comes up with plausible military reasons for hitting infrastructure that doesn’t look military, I will continue to believe that what they are doing is a form of collective punishment.

Your argument doesn’t cut it. “Better” doesn’t always mean more comprehensive. Hitting a factory may be just a way of saying: see what we can do? If a gangster pays a visit to a small shopkeeper, says “nice place you’ve got here, shame if anything happened to it”, and knocks over a piece of pottery, would you conclude that because he could have done a lot worse, it must have been an accident?

Of course they can do a lot worse. That’s the message they are transmitting.

43

jet 07.20.06 at 1:06 pm

Kind of a different thought, but normally when terrorists use civilians as human shields, the civilians are not a party to making this decision to be used as human shields. But in Palestine, and to a lesser extent in Lebanon, this isn’t the case. Palestine voted into power a terrorist group that regularly uses civilians as human shields. And Lebanon’s government has at least shown tacit support for Hezbollah which does the same.

Do the rules of war change if the civilians are a party to the dicision to be used as human shields, especially the Hamas example?

44

jet 07.20.06 at 1:13 pm

Kevin Donoghue,
You don’t think that roads, eletricity, bridges and port facilities have any military value?

Does anyone have a decent list of targets that have been hit in Lebanon? The news has mostly been reporting things that seem legit. But it might prove useful to know the percentage of questionable strikes.

45

Jack 07.20.06 at 1:44 pm

The talk of legitimacy here does seem to be the debate of an Olympian supreme court deciding whether to permit Israel’s actions and also seems focussed on what method would be allowed with relatively little attention paid to exactly how they are to be used. By that I mean that some of the discussion procedes, for example by saying that attacking Israeli soldiers on the border is casus belli and therefore they are allowed to use tactics x, y and z in any way they see fit.

As a matter of practicality that might seem desirable but it’s not how I understood just war theory to work. As I recall the idea of just war was geared to allowing a good catholic to work out how he could maintain the safety of his soul in the context of a war. I can think of two differences that makes in this context.

One is the requirement that the fighting be thought likely to be successful. Past experience would seem to suggest that the Israeli attack on Lebanon is something of a long shot. I’ve seen few explanations of how it is supposed to work beyond the assumption that bombing people makes them do what you want them to. Note that this is not necessarily a heavier burden than is imposed by strictures against collective punishment or soldier/civilian distinctions — if killing 300 lebanese civilians would put an end to the dispute , even if they were randomly selected, it might still be just.

The second is that killing people is bad because it is bad for the killer, not because it is bad for the killed. In this discussion that latter reasoning often seems to be the tacit assumption and leads to the idea that the lives of Lebanese civilians might somehow be forfeit. It is very odd that a US President who sometimes takes a very absolutist view on the sanctity of life should seem to take such a view.

Of course it is helpful to know in advance if actions are just but in the absence of an ideal authority we can only turn to the UN Security Council and since the US has a veto and will prevent any censure of Israel and is even against a ceasefire, Israel’s actions are plainly legal.

46

engels 07.20.06 at 1:48 pm

Shorter Sebastian: If a man who owns an axe beats his children, he can’t be trying to punish them. If he’d really wanted to punish them he’d have chopped them into pieces.

47

Jack 07.20.06 at 1:52 pm

jet, did you see the names of the abductees above?

What is your standard for legit?

Anyway, I think your question assumes that only the opinons of Americans count in this. Whatever you think there will be a lot of people keeping score with an exchange rate for lives that isn’t ten to one. Even if you do not accept their judgement that has practical implications.

48

Sebastian Holsclaw 07.20.06 at 2:15 pm

We obviously have very different ideas about appropriate military targets. The airport which Hezbollah regularly uses to resupply is absolutely totally a valid target. The sites in Christian villages that Hezbollah uses for missile fire are clearly legitimate targets. If (and I do not know this for certain) Israel is targetting such things, it is not engaging in ‘collective punishment’ even if other things get hurt in explosions, or if their intelligence was wrong in some cases.

Israel is not bombing Beruit in the sense that Hezbollah is bombing Haifa. Hezbollah points a rocket in the general direction of a large city and fires. Israel points a bomb at a particular building and fires. Hezbollah’s rockets don’t “miss” and hit civilian targets. They aren’t even aiming at legitimate targets. If Israel misses a legitimate target and hits a civilian target, that is unfortunate–really crappy in fact–but not a war crime. If Israel’s intelligence isn’t 100% (and no military intelligence ever is) such that what they thought was a legitimate target is actually a civilian structure, that is not a war crime. And if it hits things like airports and blockades sea ports to prevent resupply, that is wholly legitimate even if it also damages the civilian economy.

49

Pithlord 07.20.06 at 2:19 pm

jet,

You will recall that your logic in #43 was the justification (or sometimes plea in mitigation) used in relation to 9/11. There are no innocent American civilians, because they can all vote? Do you really want to go there?

50

astrongmaybe 07.20.06 at 2:24 pm

A propos of all this, there was an interesting quote from Israel’s Internal Security Minister at a cabinet meeting three days ago, arguing in favor of forcing the S. Lebanese population to temporarily leave the area:

“Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter…demanded the silencing of rockets from the northern border to the Litani river. ‘The IDF should be instructed to operate without a time limit and without a limit of means to apply heavy pressure on the residents of southern Lebanon to evacuate northwards, thereby applying pressure on the center of the Lebanese government.’.. “
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3276646,00.html

It isn’t clear from the article whether this was purely his opinion and what the overall position of the Israeli govt. is on this. But it is at least one clear indication from a senior Israeli minister that deliberately targeting the civilian population (no, not to kill deliberately en masse, and not to punish just for the sake of punishing, but conceivably “without a limit of means” either) might have convenient and welcome effects, beyond giving free-fire zones to the IDF. Moreover, given that the Lebanese govt., even in Israeli eyes, can be expected to deal with Hizbollah only in the medium-term, one might wonder what is this specific “pressure on the center of the Lebanese govt” is meant to achieve at this point.

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this one quote, but it seemed telling. It seems, too, to go against the disingenuity or naivete of those (here and elsewhere) who claim that the Israeli assault is directed only at Hizbullah. Israel as any actor is perfectly capable of having a number of different ends and means in mind at any one time, and of tactically and strategically combining them.

51

jet 07.20.06 at 2:26 pm

Jack,
Yes I saw the names from above and saw that they were closely related to a terrorist organization (Hamas). Hardly compelling evidence of their innocence, as I see Hamas as the more violent offshoot of an organization that has driven nails into the heads of their victims as a slow method of execution.

My standard of legit are targets which can be used to support military action, but they must be minimally disabled. For instance, I approve of Israel’s attack on the power station set up transformers. Simple equipment to replace. Also I approve of the airport bombing. They could have used airport specific munitions which buckle the ground creating huge heaps of earth, requiring lots of time and equipment to make the ground solid again. Rather they used normal bombs which create simple holes in the ground, easily bulldozed over and repaved.

How is my question American specific? And my acceptance of exchange rates goes up in direct correlation to their civilian approval of terrorist actions.

52

BruceR 07.20.06 at 2:27 pm

Jack: I didn’t see any actual names of abductees at all, above, other than Shalit, of course.

Re: #20 above, which presumably refers to the attack on the Lebanese army base at Kfar Chima, it should be said that it was alleged to be next door to a Hezbollah base. Also, it’s confirmed Lebanese guns have been firing at Israeli aircraft. Not that they’re not within their right to do so, but that’s a second reason a Lebanese military base might not be an “illegitimate target” at this point.

53

Brendan 07.20.06 at 2:33 pm

‘If Israel misses a legitimate target and hits a civilian target, that is unfortunate—really crappy in fact—but not a war crime. If Israel’s intelligence isn’t 100% (and no military intelligence ever is) such that what they thought was a legitimate target is actually a civilian structure, that is not a war crime. And if it hits things like airports and blockades sea ports to prevent resupply, that is wholly legitimate even if it also damages the civilian economy’

‘An entire neighborhood of a southern Lebanese village is no more: All 15 houses were destroyed Wednesday in an airstrike by Israelis apparently determined to stop Hezbollah’s frequent rocket fire from this region….Israel’s onslaught, now in its second week, has wreaked its worst damage in the poor farming regions of southern Lebanon. Warplanes have blasted bridges and roads and turned villages into ghost towns as civilians flee, abandoning the area to Hezbollah guerrillas who continue to fire rockets on Israel and engage any ground force that advances from the border 12 miles to the south.’

‘‘Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan insisted the Israeli army never targets civilians but has no way of knowing whether they are in an area it is striking. “Civilians might be in the area because Hezbollah is operating from civilian territory,” Nehushtan said.’

54

engels 07.20.06 at 2:33 pm

Do you really want to go there?

I predict that Jet wants to go there. If I’ve learned one thing from reading this blog it’s that there is in fact nowhere, whether for reasons of taste, or the bare principle of non-contradiction, where Jet will not be more than happy to go.

55

jet 07.20.06 at 2:35 pm

Pithlord,
Lebanon does not have the will to police itself, so why should Israeli soldiers die instead of Lebanese civilians? Should Israel keep a standing police force in a DMZ in the south of Lebanon suffering slow attrition because Lebanon won’t remove/disarm Hezbollah? I’m saying Israel has the right to shift risk to the irresponsible parties involved. Lebanon should be begging for outside military help in putting down a rebellious faction endangering their sovereignty.

56

jet 07.20.06 at 2:37 pm

I’m done on this thread….it sickens me that we live in a world where discussions of civilian death rates are necessary. Sorry for the hit and run at the end.

57

abb1 07.20.06 at 2:43 pm

This too will pass.

58

Brendan 07.20.06 at 2:43 pm

‘Lebanon does not have the will to police itself, so why should Israeli soldiers die instead of Lebanese civilians? Should Israel keep a standing police force in a DMZ in the south of Lebanon suffering slow attrition because Lebanon won’t remove/disarm Hezbollah? I’m saying Israel has the right to shift risk to the irresponsible parties involved. Lebanon should be begging for outside military help in putting down a rebellious faction endangering their sovereignty’.

That’s quite right. During the 70s 80s and 90s, Britain did not have the will to police itself and remove/disarm the IRA/INLA and the UDA and other loyalist gangs. These were, of course, armed militia who took part in government. Britain should have ‘begged for outside military help in putting down a rebellious faction endangering its sovereignty.’

In fact, given the current ongoing war in Northern Ireland, far worse than it has ever been, it is clear to all impartial observers that only an invasion by Israel in the ’90s could have brought peace to our troubled nation. In fact, my only regret in this life is that Israel didn’t invade my country and bomb my house, preferably then to take it over and give it to an Israeli citizen, whereupon I could go and live in a small hole, with which I could improve my capacity for self-improvement by digging myself.

59

roger 07.20.06 at 2:44 pm

You would think the decent left would be torn about this issue. The heroic representatives of the purple revolution in Iraq, waving their fingers in the air, have suggested they would even volunteer to help Hezbollah. Now, since these people represent liberal democratic values, as enshrined in the immortal words of the Constitution, the Euston Manifesto, and the little tab that you aren’t supposed to rip off your mattress, I would expect that the TNR, Kamm and the Harry’s place people would be gathering money to send the fighters against Israeli aggression to South Lebanon. Or is this something we just put in the side of the decent left brain labeled “does not compute”? How much space is left, there, anyway?

60

abb1 07.20.06 at 2:56 pm

Lol, Roger. The way that thing works, when it goes “does not compute”, you usually see the word ‘islamofascism’ coming out with alarming frequency.

61

soru 07.20.06 at 3:14 pm

#58: is there some cool new expression that can be used instead of ‘blatant straw man’? Becuase I am getting really tired of having to use that phrase every time I read a post around here about the Eustonites.

I rather doubt the whole thing is some kind of complicated conspiracy, and I don’t exactly cheer when a Hizbollah missile lands on an Israeli city. Is that really some kind of deviation from an approved leftist line that warrants so much energy and creativity to be put into opposing it?

62

roger 07.20.06 at 3:19 pm

Hmm, wow, those blatant straw men were on parade in 2003, weren’t they? The optimism about the new, liberated Iraq under Chalabi that filled giddy D.C. papers — the pipeline that was going to go from Kirkuk to Tel Aviv — the whole new order of free enterprisin’, pro israeli governments in the Middle East that were on the horizon.

What you call straw men, soru, I call remembering the not so distant past. I know — all justifications for aggressive actions by Western powers are mere dixie cups, to be crushed and disposed after use. But sometimes it is nice to gaze, with awe, at the systematic and blatant hypocrisy.

63

NeoDude 07.20.06 at 3:26 pm

To bad Arabs ain’t embryos.

Israeli aggression on Lebanon

Gruesome pictures, not work friendly.

64

Seth Edenbaum 07.20.06 at 3:31 pm

Hooray for Scott fucking Martens. Well fucking done, even with the little [***] academic niceties.

Just war or no, Israel is fucking itself. From their own perspective, it’s worse than a crime…
But how many times do I have to remind the college-boys in attendance on this site that targeting civilians is one of the hallmarks of modern war?

Go read As’ad AbuKhalil

65

Brendan 07.20.06 at 3:37 pm

I think, Soru, you miss the point. The whole raison d’etre of the ‘decent’ left was that Bush was serious about the democratisation of the middle east. Now that might have been true, false, half true, or whatever. But now we have a situation in which Israel (a democracy, admittedly, but then it always was) is attacking Palestine (a democracy) and Lebanon (another democracy). Now whatever one thinks about this, it is clear that Israel has always been a democracy. Its democracy is stable. The same can hardly be said about Palestine and the Lebanon. Their democracies are new and fragile.

Therefore, what can Israel’s assaults possibly, conceivably do except destabilise these democracies? Apart from the flagrant lie that the Lebanese are really welcoming this invasion of their sovereign territory (and you just have to imagine how the British would have reacted had Israel invaded the UK to ‘disarm’ the IRA in the ’70s to imagine how well this logic is almost certainly going down with the average Lebanese citizen) what do the Eustonites have to say about this? This invasion cannot conceivably do anything except put back Middle Eastern democracy (which is, I think we will all agree, a worthy goal) by years, perhaps decades. [It will also, of course, damage Israeli democracy (wars always do damage democracy) but that damage is likely to pass under the radar of the ‘decents’.]

Like it or not, to talk about ‘Hizbollah’ as though it is somehow ‘other’ from the Lebanese democracy, and the Lebanese political system, is a joke. The party stands in elections, and wins seats in the Parliament. You may also be interested to know that whereas the Americans (of course) class it as a terrorist organisation, the EU does not. Attacks on Hizbollah, as things stand, are attacks on Lebanon, which is a democracy.

The tone at Harry’s Place is getting increasingly nasty, I have noticed, as talk of democracy and human rights is abandoned, the the former leftists become increasingly exulted at the wielding of hard, military power by their new political masters.

66

Seth Edenbaum 07.20.06 at 3:40 pm

(And hooray for Brendan too)

67

Jack 07.20.06 at 3:47 pm

brucer: see #13 above.

jet: The Israeli abductees are soldiers.

soru: I think #58 is suggesting “cock-up” over “conspiracy”

68

Bob B 07.20.06 at 3:48 pm

“The tone at Harry’s Place is getting increasingly nasty”

The thing to remember is that Stalin had no insuperable ideological difficulties over signing a Friendship Treaty with Nazi Germany on 28 September 1939 when Britain and France were already at war with Germany. For a citation, try Norman Davies: Europe (OUP 1996) p.1000.

69

y81 07.20.06 at 4:17 pm

abbi (no. 30): You are right, nothing Israel has done seems to have worked. Occupy the Gaza Strip; withdraw; occupy Lebanon; withdraw; refuse to negotiate with the PLO; negotiate with the PLO; whatever–everyone still hates the Jews. I think the only answer is for the Jews to march en masse into the sea, so we don’t have to think about them anymore.

Louis Proyect (no. 34):

1. Not everything you read in Harper’s is true.

2. The existence of feckless, dishonest and incompetent soldiers does not demonstrate that the military operation in which they are engaged is ill-planned–every military operation involves some bad apples.

3. How do you think your heroes in the Red Army behaved? I realize that to insult any Allied soldier is a mortal insult to Belle Waring, but did you ever wonder why the Poles et al. weren’t more grateful to be liberated? Where were all the American and British left/liberal types demanding war crimes trials for Stalin and Zhukov? I would almost suspect hypocrisy, except that I know those on the left are incapable of that.

70

abb1 07.20.06 at 4:53 pm

Y81, they should try to withdraw a little harder, until they withdraw into 1967 borders as prescribed.

There is a place where they don’t seem to mind the Jews any more than anyone else, it’s called New York City. And miraculously it doesn’t require a single IDF soldier for Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindu, Buddhists, Satanists and all the rest of them to live together – more or less – there. Go figure.

71

y81 07.20.06 at 5:05 pm

abb1, I didn’t notice Israel living in peace prior to 1967. There were three wars in the 20 years that Israel was within the boundaries you suggest. Are you seriously defending the proposition that if Israel withdrew to those borders, terrorism in Israel (including missile and mortar fire from Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza) would cease?

I don’t need any lessons on how to live in New York. Our politicans don’t tolerate terrorists or people who babble about the Zionist world conspiracy here. We have peace because we have discipline, thanks to Mayor Giuliani.

72

abb1 07.20.06 at 5:22 pm

Before 1967 there was the problem of Palestinian refugees, which is still a problem that needs to be resolved. Well, that and the 1956 invasion of Egypt didn’t help to establish neighborly relations, of course. And, basically, the whole tone, the attitude. But I still think most of it could’ve been settled in the 90s, the Oslo accord.

73

Martin James 07.20.06 at 5:27 pm

abb1,

I don’t think Bertram will answer, but you might. If one believes that Bertram is correct and Israel is commiting a wrong, even war crimes, and one lives in a on-middle-eastern country, say one in the EU, what should one do about it? Is one obligated, morally or otherwise, to do anything other than go on a blog and say, “Israel is wrong”?

I don’t think Bertram has an obligation to say what Israel should do, but I am curious what he thinks he should do?

I am confused as to why all the opposition to the US and Israeli foreign policy has so little action to show for itself.

Are his objections impotent?

74

Kevin Donoghue 07.20.06 at 5:42 pm

Martin James,

Welcome to planet Earth. We have some experience of this situation and there is a procedure in place. A resolution can be placed before the UN Security Council condemning Hezbollah for provoking Israel and condemning Israel for excessive use of force. The US will then veto the resolution.

What happens in your galaxy?

75

Brendan 07.20.06 at 5:44 pm

‘We have peace because we have discipline!’

Christ! Is it legal to read this blog in New York? Or do you have to get a special dispensation from the cops or something? Couldn’t have subversive thoughts disrupting all that discipline now could we?

76

soru 07.20.06 at 5:59 pm

The tone at Harry’s Place is getting increasingly nasty, I have noticed, as talk of democracy and human rights is abandoned, the the former leftists become increasingly exulted at the wielding of hard, military power by their new political masters

I think the letters ‘b’, ‘l’, ‘a’, ‘t’, … , ‘m’, ‘a’, ‘n’ are getting noticably worn out out my keyboard.

Can you link to one blogger at HP you could remotely describe as ‘increasingly exulted’ by the current situation?

77

Martin James 07.20.06 at 6:40 pm

Kevin,

In my galaxy, if you believe that the USA is using security council resolutions to protect war criminals, you get together a group of like-minded folk and write a document starting “When in the course of human events…”

You see we have a procedure for these kinds of things, its called revolution, welcome to planet earth.

What happens in your galaxy?

78

Walt 07.20.06 at 6:49 pm

Martin: Revolution? You go first.

79

Martin James 07.20.06 at 7:11 pm

Walt,

Exactly my point.

People are going first all over the world. Didn’t the US Army bring about a revolution in Iraq?

80

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 7:28 pm

y81:
How do you think your heroes in the Red Army behaved? I realize that to insult any Allied soldier is a mortal insult to Belle Waring, but did you ever wonder why the Poles et al. weren’t more grateful to be liberated? Where were all the American and British left/liberal types demanding war crimes trials for Stalin and Zhukov? I would almost suspect hypocrisy, except that I know those on the left are incapable of that.

reply: What an amusing clot of non sequiturs. Almost makes me forget what a mess the world is in.

81

Martin James 07.20.06 at 7:31 pm

Walt, Kevin, abb1, Bertram, anyone,

What I’m really trying to figure out is what its worth, if anything, to have the the support of the population( as contrasted with the government)of an EU country (and the answer may be different depending on the country) on your side when you are in a war.

Is the European response basically constrained to a range of “give some support to the USA” on one hand to “stay out of it” on the other.

And if so, why?

82

nick s 07.20.06 at 7:32 pm

If Israel misses a legitimate target and hits a civilian target, that is unfortunate—really crappy in fact—but not a war crime.

Well, that’s nice: the distinction between war crimes and ‘oopsie!’ is now the sophistication of one’s technology and the capacity to believe one’s bullshit? One might presume it would work the other way: the precision of the weapons at one’s disposal provides a greater moral imperative not to blow random shit up.

(Jon Stewart’s piece last night was pretty damn cutting: he compared the precise execution of the Entebbe raid with the not-quite-so-precise targeting of an entire nation.)

In fact, the Star in Lebanon has reported on the bombardment of churches and hospitals in Christian districts. Which means either Israel has really crappy intel, or Sebastian is a really crappy apologist for something that looks an awful lot like collective punishment.

83

Louis Proyect 07.20.06 at 7:46 pm

nick s: “In fact, the Star in Lebanon has reported on the bombardment of churches and hospitals in Christian districts. Which means either Israel has really crappy intel, or Sebastian is a really crappy apologist for something that looks an awful lot like collective punishment.”

Well, that’s the whole point. At this stage of the game, I have a feeling that the Eustonians are in it mostly to get attention like the RCP/LM of the mid-90’s. “Did you read what Frank Furedi wrote? Good grief, he came out in favor of thalidomide using a quote from the Grundrisse.” Christopher Hitchens: “Everybody knows that the answer to Islamofascism is a well-placed nuclear bomb. Hiccup.” After coming up with these shock jock type statements, the giggle to themselves about how outrageous they are. It is certainly not about moving people into action like serious politics is involved with. It is being the class clown once again at the age of 55.

84

y81 07.20.06 at 8:19 pm

So, brendan, you hate New York and Israel? But you’re not an anti-Semite, right?

85

Christopher Ball 07.20.06 at 8:26 pm

Israel’s aims have been murky: what started as an ostensible effort to free captured soldiers now is said to be an effort to degrade Hezbollah’s military capacity. The transporation infrastructure — airports, sea-ports, bridges, roads — can be used to resupply Hezbollah or move its equipment around to avoid airstrikes on weapons caches and emplacements.

Strikes on Hezbollah’s television station are like the NATO strikes on Serbian television in 1999. It assumes that the psychological effects and denial of propaganda will have an impact on Hezbollah’s military capacity. Outside the USAF and IDF, I don’t most strategic analysts believe that this is true. Attacking Hezbollah’s material capacity to fight will be effective, however.

But it strains credulity that the IDF thinks that airstrikes alone will decisively limit Hezbollah’s military capacity. Rather, it seems that Israel wishes to inflict pain on Lebanese society in order to compel the Lebanese government and its European and US supporters into taking some decisive action against Hezbollah, but it hard to see what that would be.

So either Israel is over-confident in its estimate of its ability to degrade Hezbollah or it is conducing primarily punitive attacks in order to provoke some unspecified action by extra-regional actors. Neither scenario is particularly reassuring.

86

Seth Edenbaum 07.20.06 at 11:12 pm

y81, you asshole, get the fuck out of my city. Move to Palestine or shut up.

Just kidding, rilly
(…rilly)

87

Roy Belmont 07.20.06 at 11:57 pm

“everyone still hates the Jews”
y81
There’s more hatred now than there has been for a long time, but it’s only directed at “the Jews” because the men responsible for causing that hatred are hiding behind and among “the Jews” – in much the same manner the men who have done such egregious harm to the people of Iraq are hiding behind and among “Americans”.
Americans are, in the great majority, decent honest people. As are the great majority of Jews. And Arabs. And Kalahari Bushmen for that matter.
The hatred’s real, because its causes are real. The masks are cunning and well-fixed. It takes discernment and real effort to see past them.
What’s there is not “Jew” or “American”, and our inability to name it accurately makes it hard to place the blame where it should go, and much easier to fall back on sterotypes and collective accusation.
Comments like yours, and the craven attitude behind it, only worsen an already awful circumstance.

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derrida derider 07.21.06 at 12:42 am

You know, every bombing campaign since the Zeppelins’ in 1915 has had as it’s avowed aim the destruction of the enemy’s military capability, rather than spreading terror. Every politican involved has solemnly assured the public that the campaign is restricted to precision strikes with minimal civilian impact. Every Air Force general has solemnly assured these politicians that the campaign will rapidly bring the enemy to its knees.

And every one was a lie.

IMO there are two possibilities here: the Israeli Cabinet has very stupidly believed their Air Force’s claim that it can quickly physically eliminate Hezbollah. Or they believe a legitimate Lebanese democracy is a long run threat to their territorial plans and prefer a failed state.

I’d prefer to believe they were stupid rather than actively evil.

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abb1 07.21.06 at 1:14 am

Martin, I’m the last person to ask what to do. I’m pretty much a determinist who believes that the ‘free will’ concept is greatly exaggerated; that due to the circumstances beyond our control, various limitation of physical, social, psychological, etc nature, most of us generally have such a narrow range of possible choices that it doesn’t really matter.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 1:18 am

Israel’s aims have been murky: what started as an ostensible effort to free captured soldiers now is said to be an effort to degrade Hezbollah’s military capacity.

Good spot. That actually knocks me back a bit, because of how smoothly it was done, and how I’d subconsciouly accepted the new rationale.

Can anyone pinpoint the precise moment of elision from one to the other? I suspect it was in mid-sentence, like Orwell’s telescreen ranter, just with Wolf Blitzer doing the talking.

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alex 07.21.06 at 1:26 am

Chris Bertram writes, “But Israel hasn’t limited itself to [supressing Hezbollah], it has attacked other Lebanese targets.”

This is not true – every target that Israel has bombed has in one way or another been associated with Hezbollah. For example, no infrastructure was bombed in Shiite areas not close to the Israeli-Lebanaese bomber; infrastructure was only bombed in areas with suspected Hezbollah bases.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 2:10 am

every target that Israel has bombed has in one way or another been associated with Hezbollah.

Bullshit.

“The St. Gregorius Church in Rachaya al-Fokhar suffered a direct hit, as did the Lake Qaraoun Dam and the ambulance donated by the Emirates in Dahr al-Baydar. Dozens of civilians were killed and wounded in the attacks.”

And an aide-memoire (hat tip to Billmon):

To the media, Israel stressed its employment of precision weapons against military targets, but general bombing also took place. As described first-hand by retired British Major Derek Cooper, “From early July the attacks from sea, land and air got intense, sustained and indiscriminate, often by night as well as in the day time; little warning was given and the creeping barrage of destruction grew as the days went by and the siege and blockade began to bite. . . the shelling and bombing was indiscriminate as building after building was destroyed from sea, land and air.”

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 2:17 am

Lake Qaraoun Dam suffered a direct hit yet wasn’t destroyed. Do you think that if they wanted to destroy the dam they umm would have destroyed the dam? Maybe hit it enough times to destroy it? Sheesh.

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Brendan 07.21.06 at 3:53 am

I would be interested to know the position of international law in all this. As Lebanon has been invaded, and Israel’s causus belli is presumably inadequate for such an action, I take it Lebanon could defend itself ‘by all means necessary’? Obviously it would be madness to do this, as Israel is overwhelmingly the superior military power in the entire Middle East (except the United States) but technically this would be legal, yes?

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john m. 07.21.06 at 4:14 am

y81: So, brendan, you hate New York and Israel? But you’re not an anti-Semite, right?

So if I hate New York, I’m an anti-semite? Can I hate Isreal but not Jews? Can I hate New York and Jews? Can I hate Jews but not Isreal? Does anything you ever say make the slightest bit of sense, even by accident?

Sebastian Holsclaw: Lake Qaraoun Dam suffered a direct hit yet wasn’t destroyed. Do you think that if they wanted to destroy the dam they umm would have destroyed the dam? Maybe hit it enough times to destroy it? Sheesh.

As neat a bit of argumentative lunacy as I’ve seen. Point A is made (every target is associated with Hezbollah). Point B appears to refute this (Dam is bombed, hard to see its relationship to terrorism, note point B makes no reference as to whether the dam was destroyed). You then counter by agreeing that the dam was, in fact, bombed but as it was not destroyed Point B is thus crazy talk. Genius.

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Chris Bertram 07.21.06 at 4:20 am

every target that Israel has bombed has in one way or another been associated with Hezbollah

Note the “in one way or another”. I take it that Alex imagines his statement to be true because someone can produce an argument that this bridge, this airport, this power plant etc could, hypothetically, be of use to Hezbollah. Never mind that many of the destroyed facilities are far away from the border and that their destruction will have far more impact on other Lebanese that on Hezbollah. By Alex’s measure of “associated in one way or another” just about anything could amount to a legitimate target.

Note also that Shalom Lappin, just about as pro-Israeli a person as one could imagine, characterizes the Israeli strategy as

destroying Lebanese civilian infrastructure in order to pressure the anti-Syrian elements in the country to constrain Hizbollah.

Sebastian and others, predictably, take every Israeli claim about seeking to minimize civilian casualties at face value and, in the face of critics, then argue against the different claim that Israel is trying to kill lots of civilians. But criminal recklessness (at best) about civilians is perfectly compatible with not having the positive intention to kill lots of them. You just don’t need to care about them all that much. I’m not sure how old various commenters are, but I’m getting on a bit, so I remember 1982 pretty well. All the various claims about Israel being careful only to attack legitmate targets were made then. I’m afraid that Israel’s right to have its assurances on such matters taken at face value also went up in smoke back then.

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engels 07.21.06 at 4:25 am

I think the letters ‘b’, ‘l’, ‘a’, ‘t’, … , ‘m’, ‘a’, ‘n’ are getting noticably worn out out my keyboard.

Umm… who the fuck is “blat man”?

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Brendan 07.21.06 at 4:36 am

In Harry Collin’s “The Golem at Large” which I have been reading for other reasons, he makes a good point which should be taken as read, but usually isn’t, in discussions of military actions. The point is so important it’s worth quoting:

‘To say the first casualty of war is truth is to miss the rather more important point that the principle weapon of war is lies. Disinformation confuses the enemy while favourably biassed reports of success…demoralises the enemy.’

This is an absolutely crucial point. All generals, army personnel etc. do and must lie, constantly and as a matter of policy. It is part of their job to lie. Everything said by any military personnel should automatically be discounted unless confirmed by an objective source (e.g. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, the UN etc). Therefore, everything (and I do mean everything) stated by the Israeli army (and the Lebanese) should simply be ignored by all sensible people, unless it can be confirmed by a third party.

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 4:40 am

Sebastian,

Partial destruction of a dam seems consistent with my theory: the idea is to intimidate. Now, if it was likely to intimidate Hezbollah that would perhaps be within accepted notions of proportionality. But it seems a lot more likely to intimidate Hezbollah’s partners in government. “Nice dam. Shame if anything was to happen to it.”

I really don’t see how you can consider it an attack on a military asset. But since you evidently think Beirut airport is an important supply line for Hezbollah, I suppose anything is possible. They might be using FedEx.

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Brendan 07.21.06 at 4:42 am

“Umm… who the fuck is “blat man”?”

Perhaps he’s a superhero like Batman? According to the Wiki ‘blat’ means using ‘Party contacts…to achieve results or get ahead.’ So perhaps Tony Blair is Blat Man? By day a handsome and suave prime minister, by night he fights terrorism, clad only in green, using bribery, connections, and fraud to defeat the agents of darkness. With his trusty sidekick Lord Levy Man he….(etc. etc. etc.).

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engels 07.21.06 at 5:29 am

perhaps Tony Blair is Blat Man

Yeah, except that the current policy of not breathing a word which might offend our overlords, to the point where the Tories can offer a stronger criticism of Israel’s tactics than the government, is not exactly heroic. I suppose keeping your mouth shut when told to is the price of conviction. Or something.

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Bob B 07.21.06 at 5:40 am

I do so savour the way Tony Blair is called to heel with:

“Oi Blair . . “
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,1062-2275991,00.html

As the commentary puts it:

“And yet the picture that emerges of the Bush-Blair relationship, revealed by that brief snatch of overheard conversation, is a depressing one. Even allowing for the verbal shorthand in which they talk, there is something shallow and simplistic about their world view. Neither gives any indication that they are pursuing a dynamic or creative approach to solving the current crisis, and policy seems to consist of a few half-formed ideas spun out at random.”

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Planeshift 07.21.06 at 6:15 am

Tthe heart of the problem in the Middle East is that each side sees itself as the victim of a long list of injustices committed by the other side. It then uses these injustices to mobilise support for committing further injustices against the other side. So Israel justifies the atrocities it has committed against Lebanon in the past week or so by pointing to the Hezbollah capture of its soldiers that occurred first. Hizbollah says it captured the soldiers to try and secure the release of its own soldiers. Israel says it still holds the soldiers because they were involved in terrorism. Hizbollah will respond by pointing to something else Israel has done, which Israel will do as well. Before you know it we are getting back to 1982 (or even further behind) and atrocities being committed then.

The situation with Palestinians is the same. Israel justifies bombing Gaza because of the capture of Gilad Shalit, which Hamas says was a response to the kidnap of 2 Gaza civilians, which Israel says was a response to shelling, which Hamas says was a response to….yada yada blah blah etc. You get the point.

The really tragic thing in the whole mess is that people are so trapped by their history, stuck in one way narratives of history and prejudices about the other. Yet this isn’t a complex problem, there has been almost universal consensus behind the solution to the problem. This solution of course is a 2-state solution based upon the 1967 borders. Issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the right to return and the future of settlements are slightly more complex, but enough has been written about solutions to these issues that a rational person would have no trouble finding a solution. In the case of the issue of settlements, this would not have been an issue had Israel obeyed international law in the first place and a two state solution implemented sooner.

The only problem with implementing this solution has been that each side has been behaving like 6 year olds, and refused to realise that it is the most reasonable and practical solution on the table. Israel used Oslo to expand settlements, has never accepted the 1967 borders for a Palestinian state, and was often late in implementing its own side of the deal under the Oslo agreements (if it did at all).The PLO on the other side were more interested in enriching their bank accounts than pushing for a real Palestinian state, and thus eventually were (rightly) kicked out by the Palestinian population.

Given this childish refusal to solve an obviously solvable problem, both sides should be treated like 6 year olds and have the choice taken away from them. I therefore propose the 2-state solution should be forced on them by military means, both regimes would be overthrown and replaced with puppet governments backed up by a UN lead that would have a 5 year mandate to raise living standards. Elections would then follow in the hope that the economics of the situation would persuade the civilians not to vote for children, but adults instead. After 10 years of substantial economic growth and peace each side would have too much to lose by reverting to violence.

And the chances of it happening are zero because the 6 year old’s fighting have a younger brother sitting in the white house. One who is supported by a political party more interested in creating Armageddon for theological reasons than finding peace.

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engels 07.21.06 at 6:19 am

Actually, when I said that the British Government’s failure to condemn what Israel is doing in Lebanon is “not heroic” I ought to have been more explicit. It is cowardly and wrong; it compromises further Britain’s moral authority in international affairs and does further damage to its reputation in the Arab world.

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abb1 07.21.06 at 6:44 am

…each side sees itself as the victim…

Planeshift, there’s no symmetry, one side is the victim and the other side is the aggressor.

The indigenous people are the victims and those who attack them are the aggressors, it’s just this simple. Why all this sophistry, what can be more obvious?

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Bob B 07.21.06 at 6:57 am

Blair doesn’t understand the propaganda game. History of the Palestine conflict usually tends to start after the repercussions of the last Israeli atrocity have petered out. That is why upsurges in the state of hostilities are always the fault of Palestinians. It’s a variation of Newthink as in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-four: “The Party slogan is: ‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.'”

Take the current situation: it all started with the abduction of the corporal by Hamas in Gaza or the pair of soldiers abducted by Hezbollah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Right?

In fact, the Israeli abductions of two Palestinians reported on 24 June preceded the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas on June 25:
http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2492
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5112846.stm

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Planeshift 07.21.06 at 7:44 am

Abb1, Israel certainly doesn’t see itself as the aggressor, it sees itself as the victim. Whether objectively speaking it is either of those things is not the point I was making.

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abb1 07.21.06 at 8:00 am

…Israel certainly doesn’t see itself as the aggressor…

Yes, but you seem to be looking for some symmetry where there’s none. Europeans come to live into the center of the Arab world – it’s their responsibility to make sure they are accepted, bend over backwards if necessary. If they can’t or don’t want to, then they just have to leave.

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Chris Bertram 07.21.06 at 8:31 am

Martin James in a much earlier comment, asked what people should do about what’s happening in Lebanon and implicitly contrasted action with writing for blogs. I don’t think this is a helpful contrast. For very many issues, the best thing I can do is to contribute to public debate and the climate of opinion by writing on a blog. Standing on the street corner with a placard bearing the legend “Down with this sort of thing” might _feel_ more like action, but it is much less likely to be effective. Those bloggers who impacted the US Presidential election campaign in various ways were surely much more effective in writing on their blogs than they could have been in any other way.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 8:40 am

Do you think that if they wanted to destroy the dam they umm would have destroyed the dam? Maybe hit it enough times to destroy it? Sheesh.

As I said previously, the country that carried out the Entebbe raid sure is sloppy these days. If you accept that premise, the intelligence is either sufficiently shoddy or the F-16’s aiming mechanisms are sufficiently crap to make their weapons no different from Hezbollah’s unguided rockets, making Israel’s claim of carefully-targetted strikes a pile of horseshit. Or something else. Basic logic works against you.

Tthe heart of the problem in the Middle East is that each side sees itself as the victim of a long list of injustices committed by the other side.

National myths of origins are often pervasive and dangerous ones. Israel was undoubtedly the underdog in the foundational wars up to 1967; nowadays, it’s a steroidal military powerhouse that still presents itself as a victim.

But I think Billmon might be right: this is looking like a thinly-veiled message to Tehran.

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Uncle Kvetch 07.21.06 at 8:43 am

Well Chris, I’m not sure how you managed it, but this thread has been an exception to the usual rule by which any discussion of I/P inevitably degrades into pointless name-calling. Maybe it had something to do with the way you framed your question in the original post. Or maybe it’s that the situation is so diabolically complicated and so goddamn depressing that there are relatively few True Believers willing to spout off about how simple and obvious it all is.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 11:20 am

“As neat a bit of argumentative lunacy as I’ve seen. Point A is made (every target is associated with Hezbollah). Point B appears to refute this (Dam is bombed, hard to see its relationship to terrorism, note point B makes no reference as to whether the dam was destroyed).”

and from Chris the relatively ridiculous:

“Sebastian and others, predictably, take every Israeli claim about seeking to minimize civilian casualties at face value and, in the face of critics, then argue against the different claim that Israel is trying to kill lots of civilians. But criminal recklessness (at best) about civilians is perfectly compatible with not having the positive intention to kill lots of them. “

Look. No bomb or missile is perfectly targeted. Apparently leftists with no understanding of weapons are commenting all over here–and your intellectual forefathers would be dismayed by that fact. Even well targeted missiles go astray all the time. If Israel were TARGETING a dam it would have been destroyed because a very large percentage of Israeli weapons hit their targets. That large percentage is not 100%, it may not even be 95%, but it is well over a majority. Destroying a large dam is something that requires more than one bomb. So if Israel were TARGETING a dam, it would have been hit by lots and lots of bombs, and destroyed. Since the dam was not destroyed and appears to have been hit by one bomb, anyone with slight military knowledge (which apparently is no leftist commenting on this post) would realize that Israel was not TARGETING the dam.

Similarly if Israel weren’t being very careful about the airport, there would have been much more damage. They have the capability to complete destroy every building at the airport and make the runways very difficult to repair by using munitions with that very purpose. Instead they bombed the runways with a very few standard bombs and left most of the aiport support buildings intact. And despite idiocy above, the airport is absolutely a legitimate target.

You don’t need to trust Israeli propaganda to realize that. You merely have to use elementary military logic. If you don’t believe there is such a thing as elementary military logic, the problem is your lack of knowledge about military affairs.

Yes, some Israeli bombs go astray and hit things other than what were targeted. Israeli targeting is good, but not perfect.

Yes, some Israeli intelligence is wrong and the bombs hit things which would have been correct targets had the intelligence been correct, but which in fact are not. Israeli intelligence is good but not perfect.

In cases where permanent military fixtures were attacked in civilian areas (and locating them there is of course a violation of the laws of war which gets regularly dismissed as either beneath comment or ridiculously ‘necessary’) Israel has dropped warning leaflets telling the civilians to flee. This isn’t brilliantly effective at killing Hezbollah fighters (they flee as well) but it does exhibit concern for civilians that isn’t reciprocated with warning leaflets in advance of Hezbollah’s missile attacks.

The amazing thing is that everyone here can get worked up into a tizzy about some Israeli bombs going astray, but the most we can ever muster here is a mild tut-tut about Hezbollah raining missiles on Israel that have a targeting range of many miles but a targeting accuracy of plus or minus half a mile. How the hell does that logic work? Hezbollah can generally aim at a city, hope to hit something kinda near it and the best we can hope to get from Chris on multiple posts is something akin to “Of course Hezbollah is naughty to do that” as a perfunctory introduction into an unending stream of complaints about Israel.

Israel is not required by any international law I’ve ever heard of, or any just war doctrine I’ve ever been exposed to, to just accept unending missile attacks from across the border. They have the right to demand that the country from which the attack originate stop the attacks. If that country cannot or will not do so, they are perfectly within their rights to treat that as an act of war.

These attacks by The Party of God (Hezbollah) are not targeted to the level of an individual truck or individual building (as Israeli attacks are). They are targeted to the level of “somewhere in the city I’m generally pointing at”. This is rather less precise than Israeli missiles.

Each and every time those Hezbollah rockets kill civilians, it is a result of hitting the intended target. Every time.

When Israeli bombs go astray, they are a threat to civilians–and that is what happens when you allow a militia in your country to make war against another country. When Israeli intelligence is wrong (hindered of course by Hezbollah actively hinding in civilian institutions another violation of the laws of war that is worth at most a tut-tut here) that is a threat to civilians. They are targeting Hezbollah and sometimes missing. (Of course whether or not many of the ‘civilians’ killed are actually Hezbollah is another story since they hide among civilians and are not easily distinguishable from civilians.)

It is completely fine to talk about whether or not Israeli action here is the wisest possible way of ultimately dealing with Hezbollah. But this constant talk of war crimes by Israel is ridiculous. No one currently has the capability to target with 100% accuracy and no one has the intelligence to ensure that all targets are identified properly with 100% accuracy. If you take good faith efforts to do so, you are complying with the general understanding of how war works–both in practice and in ‘law’. I have not seen evidence that Israel is acting outside of that. There is lots of physical evidence that they are acting within those parameters. Complaining about obviously legitimate targets like the airport only suggests that you have no idea what a military target would be.

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john m. 07.21.06 at 11:55 am

Sebastian, in your opinion, is Isreal conducting an attack on Hezbollah or the Lebanese state? Or both?

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nick s 07.21.06 at 12:52 pm

re 113: the Israeli ambassador borrowed from Bush’s rhetoric to say that there was no difference between Hezbollah and Lebanon. On the record.

How the hell does that logic work?

Oh, very very easily. If you set yourself up on the moral highground of the region, there’s a lot further to fall. We all had this discussion over Abu Ghraib and Saddam’s torture chambers, didn’t we?

And, to repeat myself: if one is equipped with materiel of such technological superiority, it both allows greater precision and demands it because of its potential to harm.

Let’s reduce this one down: is it more morally problematic to throw rocks indiscriminately or fire off a machine gun indiscriminately? Please be prepared to defend your answer by moving to a location with an opportunity to be on the receiving end.

Anyway, we now see Hezbollah actually providing shelter, supplies and medical care to those caught up in the bombardments, making me wonder if Israel shouldn’t have just dropped large bundles of dollar bills on the place.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 12:55 pm

That large percentage is not 100%, it may not even be 95%, but it is well over a majority.

And your evidence for this is what? Long service in the Israeli air force? The fact that you’re actually commenting from Lebanon right now?

When Israeli bombs go astray, they are a threat to civilians—and that is what happens when you allow a militia in your country to make war against another country.

“Also, that short skirt meant she was asking to be raped.”

They have the capability to complete destroy every building at the airport and make the runways very difficult to repair by using munitions with that very purpose.

“But at least she wasn’t murdered after being raped.”

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 1:03 pm

Hmm, nick. And your advice for Israel is “Lie down and learn to enjoy it”. Right?

“And your evidence for this is what?” Miltary logic. See the dam. See the airport. Did you read my post?

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 1:13 pm

Destroying a large dam is something that requires more than one bomb.

Sebastian, in the course of your extensive study of military matters, did you ever hear of a guy called Barnes Wallis? Really, you have a brass neck lecturing people about failing to understand military matters. You really haven’t a clue.

(As my earlier comment makes clear, I’m not suggesting that the Israelis necessarily wanted to wanted to destroy the dam.)

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Uncle Kvetch 07.21.06 at 1:17 pm

And your advice for Israel is “Lie down and learn to enjoy it”. Right?

Honestly, I thought you were better than that, Sebastian. It’s starting to look like there’s no limit to the strawmen you’re willing to erect here.

Nick S’s argument, like that of most of those criticizing Israel right now, is based on the question of proportionality, not on whether Israel has the right to defend itself from attack. And you know it.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 1:49 pm

How is “a short skirt meant she was asking to be raped” an argument about proportionality?

“Sebastian, in the course of your extensive study of military matters, did you ever hear of a guy called Barnes Wallis?”

I don’t mean to be rude, but are you aware of context? Of course if you really mean to destroy a dam you can design a bomb with specifically that purpose. I’m quite certain that Israel has something even better than the bouncing bomb that Wallis invented.

That is precisely my point. If Israel was targeting the dam they would have used the right munitions for the job. If they wanted to cause the intense devestation that “boming a dam” would create they would have done it. The fact that reports of “a bomb” hitting the dam coupled with the fact that the dam wasn’t destroyed suggest that the bomb which hit it wasn’t a dam destroying bomb. If Israel were really targeting the dam they would have used either a single dam destroying bomb, or if that weren’t readily available they would use enough standard munitions to destroy the dam.

Since the dam is still standing, it is rather freaking obvious that they weren’t targeting it. It isn’t as if the dam ran away and hid.

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Uncle Kvetch 07.21.06 at 2:02 pm

How is “a short skirt meant she was asking to be raped” an argument about proportionality?

But of course. The Golden Rule of the I/P debate: “But they started it.”

I should have known better.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 2:29 pm

“And your evidence for this is what?” Miltary logic.

Ooh, a perfectly meaningless answer. And only a breath away from ‘military intelligence’, that famous oxymoron.

Again, since you dodged it: is it more morally problematic to throw rocks indiscriminately or fire off a machine gun indiscriminately? Does the ability to attack with greater destructive power and greater precision change the moral calculus? This is very generic moral philosophy.

I don’t give a damn about your obsession with the dam, although I do note that your retreat into issues of civil engineering and keyboard kommandoism (rather than, say, the circumstances that levelled a Greek Orthodox church) suggests a certain unwillingness to engage with questions of proportionality.

In fact, you’re teetering on the brink of saying that since Israel hasn’t nuked Lebanon seven times over, it’s obviously pulling its punches, and therefore all arguments of disproportionality are invalid. And you have indeed said that the Lebanese were just asking for it.

See, the thing is, you tacitly accept my premise: that the capacity to make all of Lebanon look like the ruins at Baalbeck imposes greater moral constraints than the capacity to lob rockets into northern Israel. This obviously doesn’t mean that lobbing rockets is morally justified, and one imagines that Hezbollah would be far less discriminating than Israel if it had F-16s and Apaches at its disposal. But the reason why states get fighter jets and assault helicopters, in general, is that they are presumed to be beyond all that.

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Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 2:41 pm

Sebastian: Israel is not required by any international law I’ve ever heard of, or any just war doctrine I’ve ever been exposed to, to just accept unending missile attacks from across the border.

For that matter, they’re not required by any form of international law or just war theory to provoke missile attacks by launching huge, destructive military operations in response to the kidnapping of one or two guys… only to eventually reverse themselves and agree to prisoner exchanges! (I mean, it’s nice to see it happening but it would have been better without all the intervening mayhem and destruction, surely.)

Incidentally, do you believe Turkey has the right to launch military operations against northern Kurdish terrorists, given the ineffectiveness of the occupiers or the notional Iraqi government in reining them in? Why or why not?

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 2:55 pm

I don’t mean to be rude, but are you aware of context?

The context is a dialogue like this:

Alex: “…every target that Israel has bombed has in one way or another been associated with Hezbollah.”

Nick S: “The St. Gregorius Church in Rachaya al-Fokhar suffered a direct hit, as did the Lake Qaraoun Dam and the ambulance donated by the Emirates in Dahr al-Baydar.”

SH: “Do you think that if they wanted to destroy the dam they umm would have destroyed the dam?”

I really don’t much care whether you mean to be rude, or whether it’s just that you are a bit steamed-up. Nick S corrected a false statement. Your response to him doesn’t advance the discussion at all, for reasons already explained.

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Sebastian holsclaw 07.21.06 at 3:19 pm

“Nick S corrected a false statement.”

No he did not.

The statement was “every target that Israel has bombed has in one way or another been associated with Hezbollah.”

He mentioned that the dam was hit by a bomb.

I then raised the fact that not everything hit was a target. I suggested that if the dam was a target it would have been hit by a number of bombs such as to destroy it.

Kevin then thought it was useful to note that there exists special dam-destroying bombs (though he didn’t quite come out and say it, he alluded to the inventor of such bombs). He for some reason thought that was a useful bit of evidence against my argument. In fact it tends to show that the dam was not targeted because if the dam were in fact targeted they would have used the proper force to destroy a dam.

Which is why this is so stupid:

In fact, you’re teetering on the brink of saying that since Israel hasn’t nuked Lebanon seven times over, it’s obviously pulling its punches, and therefore all arguments of disproportionality are invalid.

I’m not saying any such thing. You don’t have to nuke a dam in order to destroy it. But if you target it, you don’t tend to hit it with something that isn’t going to do much damage. So while the dam may have been hit by a bomb, it was obviously not targeted because they didn’t use the kind of force that you would use if you were targeting a dam.

Again, since you dodged it: is it more morally problematic to throw rocks indiscriminately or fire off a machine gun indiscriminately? Does the ability to attack with greater destructive power and greater precision change the moral calculus?

In your view, why is ‘indisicriminately’ appropriate with respect to Israel? Do you demand 100% targeting precision to avoid the word ‘indiscriminately’? Are you aware that isn’t possible? Israel does in fact use greater precision. It uses MUCH greater precision. You require perfection, which is ridiculous at the current level of available technology.

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Jack 07.21.06 at 3:45 pm

What are the Israelis complaining about? Statistically Haifa is far safer than Washington DC.

Sebastian, despite its much greater accuracy Israel is killing ten times as many as is Hezbollah. It’s not an accident if you know it’s going to happen.

More seriously, do you really think this is going to work? So far we can only be sure that Lebanon is now a failed state again. Another neighbour with a grudge and nothing to lose, great. How have things have improved since the Syrians left?

It seems to me self indulgence of a kind that is not even practical.Israel can continue living by the sword for the time being but it’s not a long term plan. Sharon seemed to have some sense of urgency about obtaining a peace of some sort. Now it looks like the general who spoke of turning the clock back twenty years will have his way. I don’t think that’s good for anyone.

126

Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 3:49 pm

I missed the earlier stage of this argument, but here’s another question for Sebastian while we’re at it:

You maintain that the distinction between “targeted” and merely “bombed” is ethically unimportant for Hezbollah because of their primitive targeting capacity, but that we shouldn’t expect “perfection” from the Israelis (and should absolve them of any criminality) given that even their precision munitions will often miss the intended target. Yet your own argument presupposes that at minimum, Israeli planners should have known perfectly well that their munitions, “precision” or not, would have serious consequences for Lebanese civilians whatever the circumstances. This would seem to impose a certain requirement on them not to use those munitions lightly; not to, for instance, launch large-scale air and ground assaults in response to border skirmishes. Yet you seem to be maintaining that such “proportionality” is irrelevant as though their targeting technology itself makes the case for you. Is that in fact your intention?

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Martin James 07.21.06 at 3:57 pm

A question about proportionality.

What is a proportional response to a threat? Is it a proportional response to the action to date or is it proportional to the threatened action?

It seems that the USA, which will not say that it won’t use nuclear weapons first, believes itself justified in responding to a threat of destruction with actual destruction.

128

Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 3:58 pm

Sebastian,
In the course of a lengthy rant about “idiocy”, “leftists with no understanding of weapons”, “elementary military logic” and “lack of knowledge about military affairs”, you wrote:

Destroying a large dam is something that requires more than one bomb. So if Israel were TARGETING a dam, it would have been hit by lots and lots of bombs, and destroyed. Since the dam was not destroyed and appears to have been hit by one bomb, anyone with slight military knowledge (which apparently is no leftist commenting on this post) would realize that Israel was not TARGETING the dam.

That, as you have belatedly realised, is complete rubbish. It is generally a pretty clear indication that you have lost the plot when you chuck derogatory remarks about leftists into every paragraph, especially when the thread has nothing whatsoever to do with the welfare state or public ownership of capital.

Incidentally, I looked for reports about this and didn’t find anything reliable. I doubt that the dam was hit at all. Judging by some old pictures, even a stray bomb might breach it. So we may be discussing a mythical event here.
Louise Arbour’s warning may be more to the point:

I do believe that on the basis of evidence that is available in the public domain there are very serious concerns that the level of civilian casualties, the indiscriminate shelling of cities and so on, on their face raise sufficient questions that I think one must issue a sobering signal to those who are behind these initiatives to examine very closely their personal exposure

Another clueless leftist, no doubt.

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Sebastian holsclaw 07.21.06 at 4:01 pm

“You maintain that the distinction between “targeted” and merely “bombed” is ethically unimportant for Hezbollah because of their primitive targeting capacity.

Not at all. I maintain that with Hezbollah’s primitive targeting capacity, the target is at the level of “a city”. In general, a target at the level of “a city” is not a military target. There may in theory be some instances where a military base is large enough to qualify, but that isn’t in fact the case with say Haifa or other current Hezbollah targets. They have illegitimate targets.

Israel is bombing things at the individual building level and individual vehicle level. They sometimes miss, their intelligence is sometimes wrong, but their targets are legitimate.

130

Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 4:12 pm

What is a proportional response to a threat? Is it a proportional response to the action to date or is it proportional to the threatened action?

I’m no JWT specialist but AFAIK the force used must be proportional to the objective of the belligerent, which must be a just objective. This will get you started.

131

Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 4:22 pm

129: Israel is bombing things at the individual building level and individual vehicle level. They sometimes miss, their intelligence is sometimes wrong, but their targets are legitimate.

I don’t know how you know this beyond taking the IDF’s word for it, but I’ll leave that be for now. My main problem with this argument is that it only holds if Israel’s initial decision to escalate the conflict is itself legitimate; otherwise, no matter how “precise” Israel’s targeting is, the IDF would have escalated a conflict unnecessarily in the full knowledge that it would cause significant civilian death.

So, I’m wondering if you can think of another theatre in which it would be acceptable to launch an operation of this scope in response to a border skirmish. That’s what the question of “proportionality” is really about. That’s why I asked earlier about Turkey, who have threatened to invade Iraq due to border skirmishes with Kurdish guerillas. Does that seem reasonable to you? Why or why not?

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 4:29 pm

I don’t understand how you can consider rockets into Israeli cities as a “border skirmish”.
If Mexico fired missiles into San Diego would that count as a border skirmish?

133

Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 4:43 pm

131: I don’t understand how you can consider rockets into Israeli cities as a “border skirmish”.

Sebastian, the recent round of Katyusha attacks started after a border skirmish between Hezbollah and the IDF prompted the first airstrikes on Beirut. Surely you’re aware of this.

I take it your reluctance to answer the question about Turkey means you don’t think they should be conducting similar operations in northern Iraq right now. Is that correct?

134

Beryl 07.21.06 at 4:45 pm

Without entering the debate over proportionality or which targets are militarily legitimate, isn’t it a bit ironic that those who who think that Israel, morally, can do no right seem to be the biggest vaunters of Israel’s military prowess and infallibility?

135

Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 4:52 pm

133: Beryl, a thought for future reference: if you’re going to be reduced to snarking vaguely at strawmen in lieu of actually contributing something, maybe it’s better to just walk away from the keyboard.

136

Beryl 07.21.06 at 5:11 pm

#134: Point taken, Dr. Slack (but, if I recall, in the earlier thread on Lebanon, the snark was more firmly on your foot).

137

nick s 07.21.06 at 5:13 pm

Israel is bombing things at the individual building level and individual vehicle level. They sometimes miss, their intelligence is sometimes wrong, but their targets are legitimate.

Also, God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform.

It’s an astonishing moral conjuring trick: Israel always aims to aim properly, says Sebastian, and any blown-up Greek Orthodox churches are primarily Hezbollah’s fault, but also the general Lebanese population’s fault for not having the military strength to challenge Hezbollah.

You don’t have to nuke a dam in order to destroy it.

You’re still talking about this bloody dam? Guess what: you don’t have to hit human beings with lots and lots of high explosive in order to graze them.

So, we’ve established that for Sebastian, ‘targets’ are a thing of pure metaphysics, and no matter how little relation the actual points of impact bear to anything that might be considered a legitimate target, we must believe that Israel really, truly meant those bombs to bonk Hezbollah fighters square on the head. And if they didn’t? Well, it’s just the fault of people who happen to be in non-targeted areas during this precise and measured campaign.

I think we have a ballistics expert in the making.

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Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 5:15 pm

135: but, if I recall, in the earlier thread on Lebanon, the snark was more firmly on your foot

True. Hopefully there was some content there as well, though.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 5:22 pm

You require perfection, which is ridiculous at the current level of available technology.

Which was my bloody point about the moral calculus that comes with increases in both accuracy and destructive potential — the latter outweighing the former. If the Entebbe raid had been conducted through airstrikes, they’d have probably got all the hijackers too.

In the meantime, you impute perfection of intention to Israel, with precious little to back it up.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 5:25 pm

One bit of snark:

I’d like to punch Tony Blair in the face, but is it okay to punch you as long as Tony Blair is my target? Blame your black eye on the technology, but please understand that my target is legitimate.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 07.21.06 at 5:39 pm

If you want to take a pacificst position that no war is justifiable feel free. But wars do kill civilians–even unintentionally. Just war procedure is to try to target the combatants. That is why we have rules about combatants distinguishing themselves from non-combatants. Unsurprisingly people on this board don’t seem to care about those rules–even though they would do more than almost anything else to protect civilians in war. Perhaps you don’t care only because they cut against Israel.

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 5:53 pm

Israel is bombing things at the individual building level and individual vehicle level.

Sebastian,

Your portrayal of the situation is contradicted by the leaflets being dropped by the Israelis: “The Israeli Defence Forces … will bomb intensively any area from which rockets are being launched towards Israel.”

There is no shortage of evidence that when they say area they mean area, not individual buildings and vehicles:

An entire neighborhood of a southern Lebanese village is no more: All 15 houses were destroyed Wednesday in an airstrike by Israelis apparently determined to stop Hezbollah’s frequent rocket fire from this region.

There is a good argument to be had about what tactics are justified in war. A case can even be made for WW2-style carpet bombing (see Orwell, George). But you fritter away your credibility by dishing out moral platitudes based on the premise that the IDF is behaving like some bunch of squeaky-clean action heroes. It’s a dirty war on both sides, as it has been all along.

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Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 5:55 pm

140: I can’t tell if that’s meant as a response to the question about Turkey or not, Sebastian. Is it? If so, how?

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 5:56 pm

If you want to take a pacificst position that no war is justifiable feel free.

Cripes, you never run out of straw, do you?

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Kevin Donoghue 07.21.06 at 6:01 pm

Dr Slack, please note that referring to comments by number gets confusing – comments stuck in moderation screw up the numbering.

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Doctor Slack 07.21.06 at 6:02 pm

Whoops. Thanks Kevin, I should’ve recalled that.

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Martin James 07.21.06 at 6:28 pm

Its so interesting to me the difference in how people view what is acceptable in war.

I think a lot of the difference in the posters here is between people who think we haven’t had more wars like WWI and WWII BECAUSE morals have really changed and people who think that stated morals have changed BECAUSE we haven’t had more wars like WWI and WWII and if the wars came again we would return to the old code.

I’m undecided, but receptive to the idea, that once that first bullet flies by your head, morals fly out the window.

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Dan Kervick 07.21.06 at 6:38 pm

For some of the targets Israel has hit, a plausible case can be made that they are part of the infrastructure of transportation that could play a role in the supply of weapons and other resources to Hizbollah. So they make sense from a straightforward military point of view – whether morally problematic or not.

But there have been many targets now that seem too remotely connected with military uses for the above tactical explanation to account for them. What many of these targets seem to have in common is that they are examples and symbols of technical and material success and progress, and thus are both psychologically and economically important to a country that is struggling to emerge from years of warfare and economic devastation.

So my conclusion is that Israel is attempting to send a fairly direct message to the Lebanese: “We have the ability to bomb you back to the stone age; and you are powerless to stop it. Take on Hizbollah, or you will never dig out of the whole you are in. We can do this again and again and again.”

Whether Israel sincerely believes Lebanon has the capacity to take on Hizbollah militarily is another question. That they would believe so seems far-fetched, so perhaps they want Lebanon to do something else. One possibility is that they want the Lebanese state to politically exclude and isolate Hizbollah, perhaps by declaring the party illegal and disqualified from participation in elections. Hizbollah has been able to gain legitimacy and some measure of international protection by transforming itself into a party that participates in democratic Lebanese politics, and that has limited Israel’s ability to combat them. Perhaps someone who is well-informed about Lebanese politics could comment on whether this is a realistic hypothesis.

Another possibility is that Israel wants Lebanon to invite some other army into the country to help them take on Hizbollah. Of course it’s hard to think of anyone Israel might have in mind, any army they would regard as capable enough to do the job as well as them, other than the United States.

Could it be that the Israelis are betting that, with the US army bogged down and humiliated in Iraq in what is surely an embarrassing spectacle for US military leaders, and with the possibility that tiny Israel is positioned to win some 1967-style laurels and come out looking more capable than the US in tackling Arab and Muslim challenges to their power, the US will not be able to resist the temptation to redeem its image by throwing down some thunder, and beating up on some Middle East militia and terror organization – or states?

I continue to think the ultimate aim is to pull other parties regional into the conflict – Syria and Iran – in order to provide a casus belli for a broader war.

By the way, in my country there is a growing chorus of voices on the right, lead by Newt Gingrich, promoting the idea that this is World War III. These provocative opinion pieces are published in major papers and magazines, and the authors are the folks with whom Bush and Cheney are very freindly. The rest of you guys in the sane outer world might want to hold onto your hats.

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nick s 07.21.06 at 7:20 pm

Just war procedure is to—

“The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

Perhaps you don’t care only because they cut against Israel.

We’ve got the straw man and the cowardly lion, so all we need is a tin man for the set. The Candide-like display from Sebastian is quite staggering, though. Everything is for the best in the best of all possible Israeli airstrikes.

So my conclusion is that Israel is attempting to send a fairly direct message to the Lebanese: “We have the ability to bomb you back to the stone age; and you are powerless to stop it.

Israel seems to have a schizoid attitude in times like this: it beats the shit out of the states on its borders then complains that those states can’t control the resentment of their populations. A cynic might wonder whether Israel actually wants to be surrounded by prosperous Arab neighbours, especially given its reliance upon Palestinian labour. I also think this is a not-very coded message to Iran.

‘sfunny. I remember a story from somewhere about a shepherd boy with a slingshot…

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nick s 07.21.06 at 7:23 pm

dan kervick:

8. by efficient measures to prevent the participation of Serbian authorities in the smuggling of weapons and explosives across the frontier; to dismiss from the service and to punish severely those members of the Frontier Service at Schabats and Losnitza who assisted the authors of the crime of Sarajevo to cross the frontier; etc.

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roger 07.21.06 at 8:32 pm

The argument that the Israelis are reacting disproportionately would entail that any targets, after a certain point, are illegitmate. A truck, a damn, a refugee camp. But it isn’t disproportionate if Israel is targetting the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon to destroy Lebanon as a viable economic, social and political entity. This, in the end, seems to be their aim. They couldn’t destroy Hezbollah when they occupied the country for ten years, and I doubt they are going to destroy the organization with some quick knock out blow. Instead, they are going to destroy the conditions that modify the activity of the organization — an act of sheer, Sharon like witlessness.

Since Hezbollah seems to be extremely popular among the Shiite who comprise as much of the Lebanese population as white males comprise of the American population — or more – it seems to me mere rhetoric to talk about how Israel is just “targetting” Hezbollah; if Hezbollah is to be disarmed — a much more distant prospect, now — it would only be to normalize them as a Shi’ite party.

As for the laughable idea that the Lebanese are jumpin’ for joy at the bombing of their country — If a group were bombing American cities claiming just to target white terrorist American males, I don’t think the rest of the country would sit back and go, all right then.

To my mind, I can’t see a good result from Israel’s action. The kind of military strength they are displaying says one thing, from the Middle Eastern perspective — we need an Islamic power as powerful as Israel. The bombing and apparent preparations for invading Lebanon are going to play a role in justifying Iran getting an a bomb. The Gulf countries are flooded with dollars at the moment, and the longer Israel craters Lebanon, the more real democratic currents are going to lap at those American lapdogs. It is notable that not one democratic Middle Eastern country has approved of Israel’s course.

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alex 07.21.06 at 11:36 pm

Chris Bertram wrote, “By Alex’s measure of “associated in one way or another” just about anything could amount to a legitimate target.”

Er, no – in my comment, I gave a concrete example of a target which could not be associated with Hezbollah.

Basically, my feeling is that an area does not have a Hezbollah base, attacks on it are not legitimate. Since we do not have a map of Hezbollah bases in Lebanon, we should get suspicious if we see Israel bombing non-Shiite areas far from the border. This has largely not happened (with a few exceptions to strike specific targets, such as naval facilities after the Israeli ship got hit).

nick s,

I don’t know enough to answer about Lake Qaraoun, by Rachaya al-Fokhar is a town right next to the Israeli-Lebanese border that has in the past been used to lobby missiles at Israel – see here for example for a summary of an attack that Israelis blamed on Hezbollah operating in Rachaya al-Fokhar a few years ago.

This is not to say that hitting a church is justified, but to say that the target is in a war zone so that its not surprising, though very unfortunate, that this happened.

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Daniel B. Sherman 07.22.06 at 12:04 am

It’s errant to claim that the majority of Israelis will kill to prevent a one state solution while only “many” Palestinians wouldn’t consider it. The portion of Israelis that would support a one-state solution is far greater than the number of Palestinians who would support it – last figures I heard were around 35% of Israelis would support it, and 12% of Palestinians. It isn’t a hugely popular notion on either side.

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Dan Simon 07.22.06 at 2:25 am

Israel’s strategy appears to be focused on destroying Lebanese civilian infrastructure in order to pressure the anti-Syrian elements in the country to constrain Hizbollah.

Lappin appears not to notice (or prefers not to mention) that the Israeli policy as he describes it involves breaches of the laws of war.

I’m not convinced that Lappin has a clue about Israel’s actual strategy, but let’s suppose for a moment that he’s correct. I thought it was your position, Chris (see comment #135), that “we need principles that are acceptable not only to democratic states…but also to non-democratic ones.” How many non-democratic states would tolerate restrictions on their targeting of their enemies’ civilian infrastructure installations in times of war? (Consider, for example, the long list of non-democratic sponsors of Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which target Israeli civilians themselves–not to mention their infrastructure–almost exclusively.)

And why would a dictatorship accept restrictions on attacking civilian infrastructure? For a dictatorship, civilian infrastructure is a relatively unimportant part of the government’s means of maintaining power. If an enemy drops a bomb on a civilian power plant or sewage treatment center, that’s one fewer bombs dropped on a military barracks or secret police headquarters.

Democracies are different, of course–a government that allowed its civilian infrastructure to be destroyed by foreigners, when an alternative to war was available, would quickly be removed from office. Hence, a rule protecting civilian infrastructure clearly benefits democracies only, and offers little or no benefit to dictatorships.

That’s just one reason why I consider it foolish to assume that the laws of war ought to treat democracies and non-democracies equivalently.

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Chris Bertram 07.22.06 at 3:16 am

Nice try Dan-troll , but the earlier discussion that you reference was about when recourse to war is justified and this discussion is about acceptable conduct in the course of war. For jus in bello it certainly and obviously isn’t that case that jus in bello obligations must be reciprocal. For example, no amount of massacring and torturing of non-combatants by one side would make it OK for the other side to deliberately kill or torture even one non-combatant.

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abb1 07.22.06 at 4:02 am

There’s another possible explanation: that all this has little to do with Lebanon and Hezbollah and is mostly about internal Israeli politics: the Kadima/Labor coalition is weak, need to look tough, all this kinda crap. They don’t really care what happens north of the border. I think it’s a possibility.

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Brendan 07.22.06 at 9:14 am

Gosh it seems like only yesterday that the causus belli of the current invasion of Lebanon was the seizure of Israeli soldiers. Whereas now it is, apparently, the ‘unending missile attacks’ from Lebanon that are the problem. Oh wait, it was yesterday.

More seriously, despite its importance in domestic law, I think it is at least arguable that the debate about ‘intent’ is the key one here. I mean, does ‘intent’ really matter in debates about international law? The context of this is not, as in domestic law, a situation where (as in manslaughter) a situation where you didn’t mean to kill anyone, but accidentally did. The situation is where you DID mean to kill someone (or a lot of people) just not ‘civilians’. But how is that to be demonstrated? After all, when the Israeli’s attack ‘Hizbollah’ they attack places where they know for a fact civilians will be, and they also know for a fact that the civilians will die, but then they go back and claim that they did not ‘intend’ to kill them. But does that really matter? Say I want to destroy, I don’t know, a PC in a building for some reason. And the building is occupied 24/7. So I burn the building to the ground. I didn’t ‘intend’ to kill the civilians. But I knew nevertheless that civilians would die as a direct consequence of this action. What, really, is the difference? And what would a court say?

We also have the problem of transparency. In a civilian court, we presume (wrongly, but it is a necessary fiction) that everyone is going to try and tell the truth, that the relevant documentation will be available and so forth. But in a military situation we can never have that. Soldiers and general and their spokesmen are paid to lie. In fact, ‘government spokesmen’ (and I suppose Hizbollah spokesmen, not that there have been too many of them on the radio or TV recently) are paid to lie. It’s their job. They would be fired if they told the truth. Failing that, there are issues of military secrecy involved.

For example, take Sebastian’s statement: ‘They (the Israeli’s) are targeting Hezbollah and sometimes missing’. Now it goes without saying (actually, he believes it, so it clearly doesn’t) that whether this satement is right or wrong or half right, either way, Sebastian cannot possibly, conceivably know this. How does he know what Israel’s intentions are? All he knows is what the Israeli army chooses to tell him, but all that can and must be discounted.

I have no idea what the Israeli aims are in Lebanon (and neither does Sebastian). As I have pointed out before, (even) wiser men than me think that the intention of the current invasion is to destabilise Lebanon and lead to the creation of a Israeli controlled Lebanese puppet government. Indeed, it is obvious to anyone that whether this is true or not, the current invasion MUST lead to the destabilisation of Lebanese democracy. It also must, inevitably, lead to more attacks on Israeli civilians, although whether Israeli politicians and military leaders care about that too much is a moot point. Every suicide bomber in Israel leads to support for a certain kind of politics in that country, and it is not at all clear to me that the likes of Sharon etc. actually disapproved, in any meaningful way, of Palestinian tactics: after all, every suicide bomber, Hizbollah missile attack, etc., made his job (of portraying arabs as subhuman animals unfit for democracy) all that much easier. Moreover, the task of destroying Arabic democracy has long been an important one to Israel (it seems to me): hence the current attacks on the democracies of Palestine and Lebanon. Israeli’s know that the real threat will come when Arabs are no longer controlled by US backed dictatorships (Saudi, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, etc).

In any case, it is simply common sense that an invasion requires months if not years of preparation. The current ‘causus belli’ is self-evidently an excuse: so we know that all the talk about ‘kidnapping’ etc. is a lie. But then we knew that anyway.

In any case, to return to the point at hand, one would be hard pushed to get a Rizla paper between missile attacks that are ‘aimed’ at civilians, and missile attacks that are ‘aimed’ at ‘military targets’ but which are also ‘aimed’ at civilians (necessarily), although civilians are not ‘the target’.

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 10:39 am

Here is a translation of the leaflets that IDF has dropped in large quantities over the key parts of Lebanon :

“For your safety and because of our desire to avoid harm to those who are not implicated , you must not be present in the areas where Hezbollah is present or operates.”

So clearly Israel is taking steps ( and this one is just one of many unlike the enemy they are facing ) to minimize civilian casulties . Is this enough to get it off the hook with the cynics ? ( South African Mail& Guardian weekly has compared Israeli actions to Nazi Lidice attrocity in its friday editorial ). This kind of attitude on the left gives me the creeps.

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Chris Bertram 07.22.06 at 11:00 am

zdenek,

(1) the last time I looked, “reduce” was not a synonym of “minimize”.

(2) Even the able bodied, never mind the old, the sick, the poor etc may not find it as easy as you appear to think to clear out of the vast areas where “Hezbollah is present or operates”. No doubt you think that Israeli soldiers are entitled to presume that those who remain after such leaflet drops are legitimate targets. They are entitled to no such presumption.

160

astrongmaybe 07.22.06 at 11:08 am

Zdenek…
The question has been posed here in many forms already, but I’ll try one more time: what about those too old/young/sick/terrified to leave? Or those who try to travel by road only to be bombed from the air? Are they now, on account of this leafleting, to be considered fair game? Do they *all* have Katyushas under their beds? Olmert has spoken of the *possibility* of a “humanitarian corridor” out of Beirut. The corridor *to* Beirut is littered with the human debris of the Israeli’s campaign so far. Are those escaping to be considered fair game while they are on it, or only once they’ve reached the end of it?

161

Dan Simon 07.22.06 at 11:19 am

Gosh it seems like only yesterday that the causus belli of the current invasion of Lebanon was the seizure of Israeli soldiers. Whereas now it is, apparently, the ‘unending missile attacks’ from Lebanon that are the problem. Oh wait, it was yesterday.

Read the news reports more carefully. The action that resulted in the seizure of Israeli soldiers was accompanied by a heavy barrage both on Israeli military positions and on Israeli villages along the border. There’s no reason at all to separate the two provocations.

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 11:20 am

Look from the moral point of view it is possible to show that Israeli actions are permissible even though harm is caused ( innocents cought in cross fire )if one can show that the harm was not intended and was a side effect of aiming at a good end. I think I can show this.

163

abb1 07.22.06 at 11:30 am

I don’t know anything about Lidice attrocity, but this’s been in the news lately:

Branded by opponents as an Arab Stalin for the scale of his alleged crimes, Saddam’s legacy in Dujail had been just a footnote in history books. Locals hostile to his Ba’athist regime set up an ambush after a tip-off that his convoy would pass through the area. They fired on the vehicles and apparently killed several guards but failed to wound the president, who was in an armoured car. Within hours, security forces arrived to wreak vengeance, according to survivors. At least 15 people were said to have been executed immediately and 143 others were executed after show trials. Some versions put the final death toll as high as 400, including women, children and babies. Around 1,500 residents were arrested and many spent years in prison. Crops and date palm groves were destroyed as an additional punishment.

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Chris Bertram 07.22.06 at 11:33 am

Yes zdenek, we all know about the doctrine of double effect, we also know that you’ve underspecified it, since the unintended but foreseeable harms have to be _proportionate_ to the good that you do intend to bring about. So DDE doesn’t (even if a correct principle) show that “Israeli actions are permissible”. At most it shows that _some_ Israeli actions may be permissible even when they foreseeably result in non-combatant deaths. To use your example, it isn’t permissible (according to DDE) for an Israeli pilot to bomb an apartment block so as to kill one Hezbollah fighter if a forseeable side-effect is that 100 innocents are killed.

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engels 07.22.06 at 11:38 am

Look from the moral point of view it is possible to show that Israeli actions are permissible… if one can show that the harm was not intended and was a side effect of aiming at a good end. I think I can show this. [THE END]

I have a very good word for this “argument” that this margin is too polite to contain.

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 11:46 am

Not so quickly Chris maybe all we need is the following :
1) that the action in itself be good or at least indifferent
2) that the good effect and not the bad effect be intended
3) that the good effect be not produced by means of the bad effect
NB 4) that there be proportionately grave reason for permitting the bad effect.

Not that difficult to satisfy 4 as far as I can see .

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 12:00 pm

engels — dont look at me look at Thomas Aquinas ( or Warren Quinn more recently )

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Kevin Donoghue 07.22.06 at 12:09 pm

Not that difficult to satisfy 4 as far as I can see.

Please proceed. The suggested exchange-rate is 100 civilians per Hezbollah fighter. Tell us why this is a bargain.

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 12:10 pm

before I forget anyone who accepts that killing in self defence is permissible tacitly accepts the DDE and threfore cannot consistently object against some ( mabe most ) IDF actions. Of course if you dont accept that taking life in self defence is justified…

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engels 07.22.06 at 12:25 pm

engels—dont look at me look at Thomas Aquinas

I wasn’t aware that Aquinas was responsible for your cutting edge logical method of ‘Proof by Assertion of the Existence of a Proof’.

( or Warren Quinn more recently )

Indeed. But better, surely, to go straight to the source, and read ‘The Doctrine of Double Effect’ by Alison McIntyre, in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, which you are, once again, plagiarising and distorting.

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zdenek 07.22.06 at 12:27 pm

Kevin — it should be obvious how the argument goes. The proponenets of DDE like E. Anscombe recognise that proportionality condition must be met but this is persuasively construed as a point about good effects outweighing the forseen bad effects. So roughly in the current case killing one important Hezbollah person brings closer the good of Israel surviving and this outweighs the harm caused to one hundered civilians .

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Kevin Donoghue 07.22.06 at 12:37 pm

…killing one important Hezbollah person….

Straw man; Chris didn’t say he was important.

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abb1 07.22.06 at 12:51 pm

…100 civilians per Hezbollah fighter…

Is it Hezbollah fighter or Hezbollah member? 40% of Lebanon population are Shia Arabs and Hezbollah won 18% of the Parliament seats in the last election. It sounds like at least a few hundred thousand adults in Lebanon can be called ‘Hezbollah’.

I kinda doubt you can find a Hezbollah fighter in Beirut; perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they prefer to kill some Shia Arabs (or just Arabs) rather than, say, Druze or Armenians.

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Chris Bertram 07.22.06 at 1:28 pm

So roughly in the current case killing one important Hezbollah person brings closer the good of Israel surviving and this outweighs the harm caused to one hundered civilians .

Well as others have pointed out, I wrote “one Hezbollah fighter” …. But anyway it is simply perverse to allow the whole of the good to the achievement of which the action is just one minor contribution to weigh against the harms brought about by that particular action.

As to the particular good you cite it is extra perverse to see the good of Israel’s _survival_ as a far off goal which this action would bring closer.

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Dan Simon 07.22.06 at 5:44 pm

Nice try Dan-troll , but the earlier discussion that you reference was about when recourse to war is justified and this discussion is about acceptable conduct in the course of war. For jus in bello it certainly and obviously isn’t that case that jus in bello obligations must be reciprocal. For example, no amount of massacring and torturing of non-combatants by one side would make it OK for the other side to deliberately kill or torture even one non-combatant.

Huh? Why on earth would getting brutal dictatorships to agree to a set of universal standards regulating justifications for war be any more or less necessary than getting brutal dictatorships to agree to a set of universal standards regulating the conduct of war?

Sure you can say, for instance, that targeting civilians is always wrong, with or without reciprocality. But, then, you can say that starting a war purely for territorial expansion is always wrong, with or without reciprocality. Either way, you either need the consent of all nations or you don’t. If you do, then the stuff about not killing civilians goes down the drain as surely as the stuff about not building an empire. And if–as I believe–you don’t, then a principle like, “democracies get more credibility when resorting to war, or to particular tactics, than non-democracies” is perfectly valid, and you’ll have to find some other grounds for excluding it.

(As for my being a troll, I’m sorry that you regard me that way. I can assure you that I never post unless I believe a useful discussion will ensue, and I frequently quit or avoid exchanges that look like they’re generating more heat than light.)

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Roy Belmont 07.22.06 at 7:39 pm

abb1-#156-
“They don’t really care what happens north of the border”
Or it’s part of a larger softening-up. Engaging Iran would have been more difficult with a still-relatively vital Lebanon in place.
With an Iraq-ified Lebanon, then Syria, it will be much easier.

177

Donald Johnson 07.22.06 at 8:11 pm

Slightly off-topic, but notice that it has taken Israel about a week to kill roughly 200-300 civilians. According to Iraq Body Count, the number of civilian deaths they can unequivocally attribute to coalition forces during the third year of the occupation of Iraq is 370.

So either the US is successfully suppressing news of civilian casualties we inflict (my choice) or else Israel is inflicting civilian casualties at a rate dozens of times higher.

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engels 07.22.06 at 9:59 pm

I just read through most of the above and it’s superb. Kolonel Holsclaw, your command of ‘elementary military logic’ is an example to ignorant civies and lefties everywhere. But surely your skills could be put to better use

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abb1 07.23.06 at 2:59 am

Roy, you’re right, that makes sense too – if they intend to bomb Iranian enrichment facilities later this year.

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zdenek 07.23.06 at 4:14 am

Chris — you seem to agree with me ( your # 164 ) that DDE permits some Israeli actions that result in forseeable harm done to non combatants. Clearly it is still possible that as you say Israel may be criminally reckless in its treatment of civilians but how do we know that it is so reckless ? Ie how do we know that the actual harm on the ground in terms of non combatant deaths etc does not meet the DDE ?
Lets put this another way : given that there is a well known and widely accepted moral principle ( DDE )which shows that some Israeli actions against the civilians are permited and given that Israel has provided good evidence that it does not deliberatelly target civilians what is your argument for showing that the harm caused to civilians is criminally recless ? Without such an argument the burden of proof has shifted from Walzer to you.

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Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 4:40 am

Zdenek, since you assert that it is not that difficult to show that there is proportionately grave reason for bombing Shiite neighbourhoods, roads, bridges, airport runways and for disrupting the economic development of an entire country, why not go ahead and show it, rather than asking Chris Bertram to show that there isn’t such a reason?

Or has it dawned on your claim was a little rash?

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Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 4:43 am

That should read: Or has it dawned on you that your claim was a little rash?

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zdenek 07.23.06 at 5:10 am

kevin- the view ( my view )expressed in #171 is difficult to defend ( btw I dont have a problem with changing my mind about these issues ) , instead what I am suggesting now is another way of seeing whether Walzer position is the right one and hence Chris’ position is the one that needs defending. I am suggesting that the burden of proof in this debate is with people who assume that Israel actions against non combatants is obviously and palpably morally wrong . I think this doesnt work without supporting argument thats all.

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Chris Bertram 07.23.06 at 5:25 am

I am suggesting that the burden of proof in this debate is with people who assume that Israel actions against non combatants is obviously and palpably morally wrong.

Let’s leave to one side the weaselish “obviously and palpably”. Yes, the burden of proof is on those who cause non-combatant deaths through their violent actions. I can’t take seriously as an interlocutor anyone who thinks the burden of proof might go the other way. Sorry zdenek, you are outside the sphere of people with whom it is possible to have a reasonable conversation.

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abb1 07.23.06 at 5:38 am

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Israeli bombing of a Beirut neighborhood where Hizbollah had its headquarters has breached humanitarian law, a senior U.N. official said on Sunday.

“It is horrific. I did not know it was block after block of houses,” Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, told reporters as he toured the shattered Haret Hreik district. “It makes it a violation of humanitarian law.”

“It’s bigger, it’s more extensive than I even could imagine,” he said, surveying a pile of rubble.

Israeli warplanes have pounded the area nearly every night since its war with Hizbollah began on July 12.

It was last hit early on Sunday, said the few residents not to have fled the usually packed area.

Egeland said between half a million and a million people were in need of international assistance in Lebanon, but delivering aid required safe access. “So far Israel is not giving us access,” he said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060723/ts_nm/mideast_egeland_dc_1

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zdenek 07.23.06 at 5:39 am

This is what Walzer says

” when Palestinian militants launch rocket attacks from civilian areas, they are themselves responsible – and noone else is-for the civilian deaths caused by Israeli counterfire. But Israeli soldiers are required to aim as precisely as they can, to take risks in order to do that and to call off counterstrikes that would kill large # of civilians…still minimizing does not mean avoiding entirely : Civilians will suffer as long as no one on the Palestinians side takes action to stop rocket attacs. “

What is wrong with this view ? This is a point about what is morally permited and who must share / bare the burden of responsibility for the civilian deaths.
Walzer is relying on DDE to make this case stand up and that principle is inependently plausible and this is why people who disagree with him need an argument to avoind just begging the question at issue ( which I think Chris may be doing ? ).

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zdenek 07.23.06 at 5:58 am

abb1– I agree with everything in your #185 but it is off the topic

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Kevin Donoghue 07.23.06 at 6:20 am

Zdenek,

I dont have a problem with changing my mind about these issues

All credit to you for that.

Since CB has written you off you are unlikely to get a response to your speculations as to what he may be doing. I suggest looking at what he wrote. His main objection to Walzer is in the paragraph begining “Israel can’t simultaneously base its justification for action on the responsibility of the Lebanese government to act and on its incapacity to do so”.

No reasonable person would fault soldiers who “aim as precisely as they can” using appropriate weapons. (Aiming a tank gun at a gunman in a crowded shopping centre isn’t normally considered appropriate, no matter how carefully the weapon is aimed.) What is being discussed here is the kind of bombing Jan Egeland complains of. Sure, it is precisely aimed, but the target is an entire neighbourhood.

Incidentally I have no idea why you think abb1’s comment was off-topic. Unusually for him, it was right on the money. But since you agree with Egeland it may be that we have nothing to argue about.

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brendan 07.23.06 at 6:29 am

“I forbade the sacrifice of more human lives than was absolutely necessary. That is to say, I deliberately released the [XXX] from adherence to a principle still observed [XXX] demanding that for the sake of prestige certain objectives must under all circumstances be reached within a certain time limit.

Everything which it is imperative to do will be done regardless of sacrifice, but what can be avoided will not be done.

[…]

The attempt to convince the responsible [XXX] command – in so far as it existed – that it was futile and in fact insane to attempt resistance, especially in a city of more than a million inhabitants, proved entirely fruitless….

Since it was realized that [XXX]’s fortifications alone were not likely to withstand the [our] attack, the entire city was converted into a fortress and barricaded in every direction. Batteries were mounted in every square and great courtyard, thousands of machine-gun posts manned and the whole population called up to take part in the fighting.

Sheer sympathy for women and children caused me to make an offer to those in command of [XXX] at least to let civilian inhabitants leave the city. I declared a temporary armistice and safeguards necessary for evacuation, with the result that we all waited for emissaries just as fruitlessly as we had waited at the end of August for a [XX] negotiator. The proud [XX] commander of the city did not even condescend to reply.

To make sure, I extended the time limit and ordered bombers and heavy artillery to attack only military objectives, repeating my proposal in vain. I thereupon made an offer that the whole suburb of [XX] would not be bombarded at all, but should be reserved for the civilian population in order to make it possible for them to take refuge there.

It amazes me, genuinely stuns me that apparently sane people actually believe a military commander when he states that his troops are ‘only’ attacking military targets, and that he ‘regrets’ any civilian deaths but ‘he has done everything in his power to prevent them.’ As the humanitarian quoted above shows: this is just something that army personnel (who are paid to lie) say. The fact is that there are military objectives, and if civilians have to die to facilitate the accomplishment of these objectives: tough. That’s war. If you don’t like it, don’t fight.

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zdenek 07.23.06 at 6:44 am

Kevin–the ‘jus in bello’ rules that are relevant here involve the question whether a proper distinction is made between combatants and civilians ( and hence whether innocents are harmed or not unnecesarily ) and second whether the fighting is proportionate ( are you using too much force , are you using the right weapons etc. ).
Now both of these issues/questions are relevant and important but I ,like Walzer think that the first is philosophically more interesting so I have been concentrating on that question ( and I suspect that Chris thinks so too ).

OK now given that Walzer’s view is the topic of discussion and given that he himself thinks that the angle I have been focusing on is interesting it is -to put it politely- suprising that no one is interested . But maybe I should not be suprised if the philosophy here is just a kind of decoration.(?).

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abb1 07.23.06 at 2:45 pm

Or maybe it’s close to the expiration date on a bunch of those smart bombs? It would’ve been a pity for the smart ones to go to waste…

The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

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