War and its consequences

by John Quiggin on August 1, 2006

The terrible war in Lebanon has been discussed from all sorts of ethical and legal perspectives, but the simplest way of judging war is to look at its consequences.

After weeks of bloodshed, with the vast majority of victims being ordinary people (mostly in Lebanon thanks to the use of airstrikes as a weapon of terror, but with many killed and wounded in Israel as well) whose only crime was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it’s hard to believe that anyone could claim that any good consequences are going to come out of this for the people of either Israel or Lebanon (though of course this is precisely the claim being made not only by the belligerents but by their outside backers, from Bush on one side to the Iranians on the other). But as we’ve seen time and again, the logic of war, once started, is remorseless. However obviously wrong the initial decision to go to war, the consequences of ending it almost always seem worse, at least to those who have to admit that the death and destruction they have wrought has been pointless.

And all this was not only predictable, but predicted by nearly everyone who looked at the situation objectively.

Whether all this is put in terms of just war, consequentialism or some other way of thinking about things, a central problem is that the parties act as judges in their own cases, and, at times when war is brewing, are bad judges even of their own interests, let alone of the justice of their claims or the effect on others.

At best, war is doing evil that good may come, and most of the time the indirect consequences are also evil. The great majority of wars, revolutions and insurgencies have done more harm than good, and in most cases, everyone involved has been worse off than if they had made peace on the basis of the status quo ante at the earliest opportunity. This is obvious as a general proposition (the fact that the same handful of exceptions is quoted over and over again only goes to sharpen the point). But everyone thinking of making war sees themselves as one of the exceptions.

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1

Brendan 08.01.06 at 6:00 am

I would like one of the proponents of the invasion to answer: what, precisely, do they think will be achieved by this war? I mean it. Seriously. The idea of ‘driving Hizbollah back’ ten or twenty miles is completely irrelevant, as my understanding is that Hizbollah now has missiles that have a range of 60 miles, and in any case, will in a few years be able to get even longer range missiles from Iran. Moreover, Hizbollah will be able to regroup behind this ‘buffer zone’ and in twenty years we will have a rerun of the same war.

So: that’s a non-starter. On the other hand ‘destroying Hizbollah’ is also a non-starter, as that would involve something close to genocide (Hizbollah supporters being almost completely integrated into Lebanese (certainly, south Lebanese) society). That may be the plan, but it is unlikely, with the world’s media watchin, that they will get away with it.

So: destroying or even substantially weakening Hizbollah are non-starters. What about drawing Iran into the war? Does anyone thinking that fighting a war on three fronts (Lebanon, Gaza and then Iran) will be winnable, or would end up in a desirable result for Israel? Same goes for Syria.

What about dragging the US into the war? Such an event would almost certainly result in mass civilian casualties, and America fighting a war, again, on three fronts (Afghanistan, Iraq and then Iran), (a plan which turned out so well for Hitler when he tried it). Moreover, such an action would destabilise (perhaps fatally) the American client states that surround Israel, again, weakening Israel’s position.

So: seriously, no jokes. What precisely does Israel plan to get out of the invasion? Is there any conceivable outcome which would result in Israel NOT being weakened?

2

Brett Bellmore 08.01.06 at 6:03 am

Unfortunately, sometimes making peace on the basis of the status quo ante isn’t among the available options. Because, of course, it takes two to make peace.

And getting a reputation as somebody who won’t fight back, when you’re surrounded by enemies, can be VERY costly.

3

John Quiggin 08.01.06 at 6:10 am

Brett, Israel, Hezbollah and many others in the region seem to have followed your logic pretty faithfully for the past few decades – no crime has gone unremembered or unavenged, and mostly (as today) the retaliation is worse than the original crime. How has this helped them?

Your logic is a good way to ensure that you are always surrounded by enemies.

4

john m. 08.01.06 at 6:12 am

Second both the post and comment one. The complete futilty of this entire conflict is the only lesson worth learning. The lack of any appetite on the part of any of the players of either side to even make a vague attempt at coming up with a new approach is both marked and depressing. Good old fashioned “let’s just kill them, all of them” is the best they can manage. It’s pathetic and tragic.

5

john m. 08.01.06 at 6:14 am

Brett, why make the automatic assumption that the only viable option is to immediately retaliate as violently as possible? Is that the best you idea can come up with?

6

john m. 08.01.06 at 6:15 am

you idea, idea you. Obviously.

7

Harald Korneliussen 08.01.06 at 6:15 am

The simplest way of judging war is to look at its consequences? Whaa? But people are always going “if we didn’t do this, that would have happened” and so on.

It’s a common misconception that the winners get to write the history books. Oh, so maybe sometimes they do, but they don’t really have to. Because the winners get to write the alternate history books. That way the winners can still set the opportunity cost of war to whatever they wish, and the wonderful thing is that people don’t see through it, and for decades go on believing, for instance, that colonialism wasn’t so bad.

8

Brendan 08.01.06 at 6:21 am

‘And getting a reputation as somebody who won’t fight back, when you’re surrounded by enemies, can be VERY costly.’

As usual you have to pinch yourself in order to remind yourself that this is really how some people see the world.

A brief reality check.

Israel has invaded Lebanon, twice in recent years. The current invasion is ongoing. Remind me of how many times Lebanon has invaded Israel again?

It is of course, Lebanon (a secular Arab democracy) which is ‘surrounded by enemies’. Israel has peace treaties with many of the Arab countries on its borders, and has, in any case, demonstrated on numerous occasions that it can defeat them militarily, if it comes to that. Israel is ALSO surrounded in a more general sense (not coincidentally) by American client states/’states friendly to the US’ (or whatever other euphemism you might want to choose) such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan, Egypt and so forth, which will never never never never never choose to offend their owner by attacking Israel (criticising it is a different matter, but they only do that out of fear of what the populace might do if they don’t).

In a similar way, Lebanon, which is, to repeat, a secular Arabic democracy, is the one that is surrounded by enemies because the theocracies that surround it hate and fear its example and are terrified that it may succeed and that their own legitimacy will therefore be destroyed.

To repeat, therefore, it is the secular democracy Lebanon which is surrounded by enemies, which is threatened on all sides, and which is currently being invaded.

You should also be aware (and if you aren’t you really ought to be) that there are powerful voices on the Israeli right which argue that South Lebanon should be annexed (or at least controlled) by Israel permanently (or at least ‘until the threat of terrorism has been dealt with’ i.e. permanently).

9

Brett Bellmore 08.01.06 at 6:21 am

Yes, and I agree that the whole middle east would be immensely wealthier if they’d just stop fighting and accept the facts on the ground.

The problem here is that, among all those tit for tat causes for war is the big provocation that Israel simply can’t cease: It’s very existance.

And so long as Arabs regard THAT as a provocation, peace will remain impossible.

10

john m. 08.01.06 at 6:39 am

‘until the threat of terrorism has been dealt with’ i.e. permanently

The problem here is that, among all those tit for tat causes for war is the big provocation that Israel simply can’t cease: It’s very existance.

The logic of this thinking depends on the acceptance that your enemy is implacable and cannot be negotiated with – that no compromise exists. As such, permanent peace can only be achieved via the complete extinction of the enemy. Brett, based on this line of thought, am I missing a possible permanent resolution?

11

bi 08.01.06 at 6:45 am

And again, as John Quiggin tells us, let’s look at the consequences. It’s one thing for Israel and the US to hope to turn the whole Arab world into a car park; it’s another thing to turn that into reality. It’s time for each side to ask whether its pursuit of the “we can only be safe if The Enemy is annihilated” pipe dream, it has done tremendous damage to itself without moving any closerto realizing that dream.

12

Daniel 08.01.06 at 7:15 am

I would add that in general, the use of phrases like “we must finish the job”, “until we achieve victory”, “we cannot cut and run”, “we will stay the course” etc, is a very good indicator that the belligerent party had no idea whatever of what benefit they hoped to achieve by starting the war.

13

Barry 08.01.06 at 7:18 am

Brett: “Yes, and I agree that the whole middle east would be immensely wealthier if they’d just stop fighting and accept the facts on the ground.”

Wow. After your initial remarks are shown to be lies, you just roll with it and go on.

14

lurker 08.01.06 at 7:51 am

From #4: Good old fashioned “let’s just kill them, all of them” is the best they can manage. It’s pathetic and tragic.

The only reason why *any* war is not advisable. Should there be even a slightest chance that 100% anihilation is possible, I say, go for it. Much the better for the victors.

It is because none of the actors in any theatre of war (post WWII) have had the guts to accept that on one’s conscience, and none of the actors in any theatre of war (WWII and before) have had the wherewithal to succeed, that it is stupid, – not wrong, not bad, not illegal, not immoral; acres of forests can be, and have been, chopped and pulped to take a stand either way – plain stupid to fight. You can’t win. Or, rather you won’t.

15

Richard Cownie 08.01.06 at 8:09 am

You miss a key point: it isn’t true that in most
cases *everyone* ends up worse off – what is true
is that *almost* everyone ends up worse off.
Usually there are some members of the political
and/or economic elite who stand to either gain
from the war (e.g. Republicans and the 2002
midterms) or lose from peace (e.g. Olmert risked
being branded as a wimp early in his term if he
didn’t act aggressively; Hassam Nasrallah looks
likely to emerge from this mess with wider
popularity throughout the Muslim world).

16

Andrew Reeves 08.01.06 at 8:11 am

Speaking of things that inflame hatreds and accomplish nothing, by this evening this thread will have almost certainly run to over 100 comments with zero effects on people’s opinions or the events in the Levant.

17

y81 08.01.06 at 8:17 am

I agree with the original post that most wars turn out to have been a mistake for both sides, and that the same handful of exceptions are always trotted out, but, in response to daniel (no. 12), I must note that Union supporters in the Civil War trotted out rhetoric of the “finish the job” style repeatedly. So that actually isn’t a good indicator of whether the war in question will be one of the handful of exceptions.

To quote Abraham Lincoln, at some convention: “General Grant has said that he proposes to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer. I say, we propose to fight it out on this line if it takes FOUR YEARS more.” [Rapturous applause.]

And Admiral Farragut: “This war must be fought until there’s only one man left standing on this continent, and that man must be a Union man.”

18

Steve LaBonne 08.01.06 at 8:35 am

Richard Cownie got it right. Israel and Lebanon can only lose from this madness, but Olmert and Nasrallah come out political winners. (Just as Bush gained politically from Iraq until very recently, while the national interest of the US took a big hit.) Without understanding this, it’s impossible to understand why the madness continues.

19

Seth Gordon 08.01.06 at 8:36 am

A friend of mine argues that the real reason for Israel attacking Lebanon is to force the international community to come in and help enforce Resolution 1559 (which called for the Lebanese Army to take control of southern Lebanon and for all militias, including Hezbollah, to be disbanded).

I don’t know if this is true–and if it’s true, I don’t know if it’s actually going to work. But it’s worth remembering that during the period before this war, Hezbollah was (a) entrenching itself in southern Lebanon rather than complying with 1559; (b) accumulating the weapons that it recently used to strike Haifa and other points deep in Israeli territory. The Israeli government was warning that this was an unacceptable threat as far back as 2002.

(The permalink to my friend’s essay is here but for some reason it confused the CT preview window.)

20

Guest 08.01.06 at 8:37 am

As near as I can tell Hassam Nasrallah looks a Hell of a lot better for the West than al Qaeda. That is to say, both don’t like Israel, but at least Hassam has the marbles to see that the solution is to mess with Israel. Leave the rest of us out of it. If this thing is handled well – not to say that I think it *will* be handled well – then it looks like a good opportunity to cut support from Al Qaeda.

21

lurker 08.01.06 at 8:47 am

#17 leading to a question for all, including Mr. Quiggin.

What was the status quo ante, as Mr. Quiggin put it? It was war. What’s happening is status quo ante.

Even then, what result is preferred by _you_? Everyone says ‘stop killing’. Alright, killing stopped. What’s left? Schools, mosques, bazars, fields, cafés, offices, shoe-factories, bakeries? Where? Where will they function from? Who’ll collect the taxes?

Or should this discussion thread be restricted to the violence between Hezbollah and Israel, without bringing in Palastene into the equation? In which case, the generic tone of the OP is questionable.

22

james 08.01.06 at 8:51 am

Most people believe that there is something worth fighting for no mater what the cost. Mabye that ‘something’ is trivial to the commentors. It is foolish to assume that it does not exist for the people fighting.

23

Linda 08.01.06 at 8:59 am

Israel pulled out of Gaza a year ago and has suffered daily rocket attacks on the south. Israel pulled out of Lebanon six years ago and has suffered rocket attacks on the entire northern third of the country, and Hezbollah threatens to strike Tel Aviv. No one sane believes in “land for peace” anymore. Israel gave land and got dead and maimed Israelis. Hamas and Hezbollah are forthright about their desire to completely destroy Israel. What is there to discuss with these people? Israel is fighting for survival, that’s the point of this war.

24

bi 08.01.06 at 9:00 am

james: As pointed out, for Olmert this “something” is probably the opportunity to be seen as more than a wimp. And as for the Hizbullah terrorists — maybe 70 wives in Heaven? The fact that some bellicose folks are fighting for some nebulous “something” doesn’t mean that innocent people must sacrifice their lives to satisfy the wants of these bellicose folks.

25

Maynard Handley 08.01.06 at 9:03 am


And getting a reputation as somebody who won’t fight back, when you’re surrounded by enemies, can be VERY costly.

Of course getting a reputation as someone INCAPABLE of fighting back can be even more costly. We’ve yet to see the fallout regarding the US in Iraq in this regard, but Israel seems determined to head down the same path, to show to the world that
(a) they have a really cool air force and
(b) there are major limits to what air forces can do and
(c) that they are incapable of going beyond those limits on the ground.

26

Barry 08.01.06 at 9:05 am

lurker: “What was the status quo ante, as Mr. Quiggin put it? It was war. What’s happening is status quo ante.”

In a certain, very non-reality sense: 1 person killed is war; 1 billion people killed is war; therefore, they’re the same. Not.

27

fred lapides 08.01.06 at 9:24 am

Yes, oh yes: war is bad and everyone loses. That said, here is my prediction. Israel will puch back Hezbollah some miles and then a military group will come in to provide a buffer.Then, in the next elections, the Lebanese will empower Hezbolla politically. In time, Lebanon will become what Iran has had in mind right along: another Islamist state, run by the laws of Sharia,to bolster Iran’s claim to be leading Arab state in the fertile crescent.

28

loren king 08.01.06 at 9:46 am

brendan: “‘And getting a reputation as somebody who won’t fight back, when you’re surrounded by enemies, can be VERY costly.’

As usual you have to pinch yourself in order to remind yourself that this is really how some people see the world.”

Well, in fairness, it’s a sound line of reasoning if you find yourself in prison, or as a student in more than a few urban schoolyards. The interesting question is whether it’s a generalizable strategy for interpersonal relations or foreign policy. I’d say “no” and “probably not” respectively, and in Israel’s case, as John points out, it really hasn’t worked terribly well.

29

Lurker 08.01.06 at 9:57 am

Barry at 24: As I said in #14, in war 1% is just as bad (or good) as 99%. It is victory that counts.

This will not stop, cannot stop, unless the core issue is recognised consciouslly by all. The core is not about revenge (something many from Arab side of equation fall prey to) and it is not safety of unleaven bread in refrigirators.

It is land. Which piece of this handkerchief belongs to whom, is the only question that needs answered.

Unless all sides put that as #1 on the agenda, not #2, it won’t matter what necktied gentlemen on ‘teh interwebs’ feel or think about it.

30

Palito 08.01.06 at 10:21 am

To judge the war by its consequences is correct. Some of Israel defenders justify the consequences only in terms of loss of life. I think one obvious consequence is what Fred is guessing a couple posts above. This, like the Iraq war for the US, has been a terrible strategic disaster for Israel. It has emboldened its enemies, it has destroyed the little left of Israel’s image in the world and, in general, it has left Israel much weaker than before it started (‘it cannot defeat Hizbollah’ is the message to many). As many point out: how long will Israel keep ‘double betting’? This war has not gone the way Israel wanted, so now some israelis and american supporters claim Israel has to go ‘all the way’ so not to allow the enemy to claim victory. The problem, as in Iraq, is that losing the redoubled bet could have terrible consequences. What if really, Israel cannot military defeat Hezbollah? How long will Israel be seduced by its military might? How long will it keep ignoring the best bet it can make to secure its future: retreat to the pre-1967 borders, after all, the only logical solution Israel has not tried. Make a big gesture that shifts the burden of containing its neighbors’ hostility to the international community. Today, Israel is in complete isolation, except for the US military help. That help could not, and will not last forever. Israel’s support is obviously a big security risk for the US. Like or not, what Israel does is seen as what the US wants/allows it to do, and arab/muslim hate for the US is an obvious security problem. I think it is a matter of time american public opinion will demand partial disengagement from Israel. And what will happen to Israel if by then Israel has not gained ‘security’ by force?

31

Ray 08.01.06 at 10:21 am

You know, it wasn’t until today that I realised the fundamental incompatibility of ‘wearing a tie’ and ‘advocating genocide’. Maybe our anonymous friend has found a solution (or just a second, less bloody, solution) to the Israel/Palestine/Lebanon problem – buy everyone a tie!

32

Yoav 08.01.06 at 10:21 am

After reading the post and all comments, I offer these (biased) thoughts:

1. Many (most) Israelis will go to extreme lengths to get even a couple of decades of peace

a) We will withdraw from Gazza (done)
b) We will withdraw from Yehuda and Shomron (Was in the process of doing so when this started)
c) We will split jerusalem (yes – you heard right)
d) We will not grant the right of return (this is unfair I know, but it will destroy Israel as a jewish state)

If these terms are acceptable by any Arab leader, he can even get elected here in Israel.

But seriously…If you are a leader of an arab state and these terms seem acceptable, please email me.

And another thing

Israel is not expecting to destroy Hizballa, It merely wishes to damage its military infrastructure as much as possible. Israel only does this since Lebnon will not.

Yoav,
An Israeli citizen

33

loren king 08.01.06 at 10:25 am

lurker: “It is land. Which piece of this handkerchief belongs to whom, is the only question that needs answered.”

Well of course it’s about land (and water, incidently, a fact that gets too little media attention). But do you seriously believe that, merely by putting land issues at the top of the agenda, peace will spring forth in the Middle East? The land problem, to put it roughly, is that there isn’t much of it, big chunks of it are sacred to lots of people (but for different reasons), and many believe they have some deep spiritual and historical claim to those and nearby chunks. Again, putting it roughly.

34

cvj 08.01.06 at 10:34 am

Yoav at 30, has the option of reclaiming land from the Mediterranean Sea been considered to address the issue of ‘right of return’?

35

Lurker 08.01.06 at 10:35 am

Ray, LOL! Yeah, I am not kind to Western methodologies and approaches. And fashion. True. It reeks of CYA-ism. Has always.

I have no qualms about killing as long as it works. My point is, it doesn’t. The job *cannot* be done. Ever. So talking about peace and ceasefire and “temporary suspension of air raids” are useless. They just postpone the killing (genocide, as you pointed out).

I want something. You have it. I ask for it. You don’t give. I take it. You hit me. I hit back. You die. Your son hits me. I die. My son hits you son.

That is the current situtaion. Tell me how does stopping our sons to hit each other, help decide who owns that thing? Remember, that killing each other was never the cause, only the consequence. Ownership of land was and is the cause. That cause has to be removed. Else, the same consequence will recur.

36

Maynard Handley 08.01.06 at 10:42 am

Yoav,

In response I would like to point out that too little, too late, is pretty much the summary of what happened before both the French and Russian revolutions. Israel COULD announce a package of all these things tomorrow, and, like South Africa, probably achieve its goals. Or it could dribble them out, each concession achieved with vast amounts of blood and anger, and the end result will be that it will arrive at the same place, but with the entire Arab world just as angry at them as they are today. There is psychology here, and concessions won in blood are not considered evidence of good faith on the part of Israel. A large part of the anger here is simply that Israel continues to refuse to admit that it ever did anything wrong, and an Israel that concedes rights begrudgingly is not an Israel that has admitted its errors and is trying to make amends.

So will Israel follow the Russo-French example, or the South African example? My bet is on Russo-French.

37

Lurker 08.01.06 at 10:53 am

Yoav,
>>We will not grant the right of return (this is unfair I know, but it will destroy Israel as a jewish state)

OK. The land issue at its heart. Ethnic cleansing has never worked. All Jews in, everyone else out won’t happen. Unless, everyone else is slaughtered en masse. That won’t happen, so you cannot have a “Jewish State”. Ever. Get to terms with that. There is no place on earth that is “pure”. Can never be.

>> Israel is not expecting to destroy Hizballa, It merely wishes to damage its military infrastructure as much as possible. Israel only does this since Lebnon will not.

Any reason why a significant portion of the Lebanese population is not “Lebanon”?

Loren,

>> But do you seriously believe that, merely by putting land issues at the top of the agenda, peace will spring forth in the Middle East?
Yes. Just try it. Stop saying “He did.” “No he did.” “No, no. He started it.” “Not at all he did.”, and you will find the “why” taking over the agenda from the “what”.

>> and many believe they have some deep spiritual and historical claim to those and nearby chunks.

I type this from a deeply religious geography. Multiple faiths. Innumerable sub-sects. Equally bloody feuds. Demarcation along natural resources helps. In their absence, time sharing works. It’s difficult, but implementable. If there is a will to co-exist. Not if there is a conviction to tire the other side out.

38

minerva 08.01.06 at 11:05 am

It is strange to observe the cognitive distortions at the start of a war. At least there seemed to be a lot of this in the U.S. prior to the Iraq war and perhaps among the Israeli leadership. There’s this idea that the war will be *the* solution to some thorny problem–not only will it will quickly and efficiently do away with whatever threats to security exist or are imagined to exist but there will be some kind of future bonus of stability and control. Not only is the horror of the death of hundreds or thousands of people obscure in their minds but they don’t even seem to see the obstacles to success, or the significant risks they run even for their own goal of security and control.

In the U.S., the promise the Iraq war was thought to hold was not only stability in the middle east–the glorious spread of democracy far and wide–but also everlasting U.S. hegemony. I think behind the war was the idea that–having no global rivals–the U.S. could use this opportunity to make the world to its liking. A safer, better world awaited. And all it took was a little death and destruction.

Something similar seemed to tempt the Israeli leadership–I think they thought this was their big chance to do long lasting (maybe permanent) damage to their enemies, thus insuring greater security.

For some reason, the loss of reason when political leaders contemplate war reminds me of the stupidity lust can bring on but maybe it’s just a characteristic of any kind of desire–you desperately inflate the benefits of achieving the desired object and completely overlook the costs.

Like lust, it later becomes difficult to admit what a fool you’ve been. The Bush administration *still* insists the Iraq War was a great idea. Do they think this in their private moments? It’s almost a kind of insanity.

39

Jonathan Goff 08.01.06 at 11:52 am

Linda in comment 23:
Israel is fighting for survival, that’s the point of this war.

While I see this sentiment all over the place, it doesn’t really appear to be valid. Is Hezbollah an existential threat to Israel? I think we have pretty strong evidence that it isn’t. Sure, they don’t like Israel. Sure they’ve been firing thousands of rockets off at Northern Israel, but the results have been pretty informative. More than 1500 rockets, and they’ve killed only a little more than 15 Israelis. Even if every Israeli in the country ran up to the border with big targets painted on their chest and dared Hezbollah to hit them with their rockets, Hezbollah probably couldn’t even kill a decent fraction of 1% of the population of Israel. Hezbollah cannot invade Israel. It has no Air Force, it has no Navy, it doesn’t even have enough soldiers to occupy Israel even if the Israeli government unilaterally surrendered complete control of Israel tomorrow to them.

The fact is that while they may be really good at guerilla warfare, Hezbollah cannot even in its wildest dreams threaten the existance or the survival of the state of Israel. And with that fact in mind, this war is looking more and more like a major screwup on Israel’s part.

40

Brett Bellmore 08.01.06 at 12:01 pm

“OK. The land issue at its heart. Ethnic cleansing has never worked”

I’m no professional historian, but anybody who didn’t sleep through American history would find that proposition dubious. Ethnic cleansing may be many things, but it IS frequently successful.

Lots of things that are immoral work, it should be remembered.

Barry, you didn’t even begin to show that my initial remarks were lies. How can you point to Lebanon as proof Israel isn’t surrounded by enemies, when Lebanon harbors Hezbollah?

Question: Does anybody here seriously believe that if Israel’s neighbors simply left Israel the hell alone, Israel would be invading anybody?

Israel can’t bring peace to the middle east, by anything short of suicide. Only Israel’s neighbors can accomplish that, by accepting Israel’s right to exist. Until that happens, Israel doesn’t have the option of a good outcome, they only get to pick among bad ones. It’s a prisoner’s dillema where the other prisoner hates your guts.

41

Beryl 08.01.06 at 12:06 pm

A small, puzzling, thought…

Despite its generalities, the original post seems to have been addressed entirely at Israel. Are there no other parties to this war (yes Brendan, we know, we know: America!) and what exactly did they hope to gain (or is Israel entirely responsible)? Judging from some recent comments – here, on other blogs, in the mainstream liberal press – there are already winners, and they seem to be, depending on the analysis, Hezbollah, Ahmadinejad’s Iran, Syria, Hamas, Al Quaeda. So the conclusion is this: Israel can never “win” any war but its implacable enemies, groups whose long term goal is Israel’s utter disappearance (only Syria might not qualify for inclusion on the list) can. How does that square with John Quiggin’s thesis?

42

Lurker 08.01.06 at 12:12 pm

Brett, nice trick. But no go. The Israel you mention. Draw a mutually agreed map of it.

You can’t. So, ‘neighbours’ is a useless term in this context. You’ve not yet built your home. And before you pounce on me do note that I’ve not said you cannot build a home.

Regarding your comment on ethnic cleansing, the U. S. of A. still has a sizeable ethnicity of Native Americans (Funny. Only *they* are native). But no violence, because? Suffcient land to go around.

43

Lurker 08.01.06 at 12:14 pm

Beryl, you forgot that people mentioned Olmert as one of the victors in this war. Does that answer your question?

44

Barry 08.01.06 at 12:18 pm

Brett: “Question: Does anybody here seriously believe that if Israel’s neighbors simply left Israel the hell alone, Israel would be invading anybody?”

Yes. One sign was after the Oslo accords, where terrorism in the West Bank/Gaza Strip declined, but the rate of settlement building increased.

45

Brendan 08.01.06 at 12:50 pm

Your problem Brett, is that you don’t see that most people see the Israeli ‘settlers’ as being ‘colonists’. Therefore Israel is a colonial, imperialist power seizing land (and populating it with its own people) in precisely the same way as was done in the United States and Australia. In this view the Palestinians are in the same position as the Native Americans or Australian Aborigines. So the ‘invading’ question is really a red herring. The real question is: if people left Israel alone, would she stop seizing land and expanding her mini ‘Empire’? And the answer is, to many people, ‘no’. You might not agree with that view, might find it incomprehensible or whatever, but that’s how many, perhaps most, Arabs see it.

46

Bobcat 08.01.06 at 12:52 pm

Lurker,

What do you mean by ethnic cleansing “working”? The Turks ethnically cleansed 1.5 million Greeks and the Greeks ethnically cleansed 800,000 Turks (or so I’ve heard). There are few Greeks living in Turkey today, so in a certain sense the ethnic cleansing, at least on the part of Turkey, worked.

This is, of course, not to say that the Israelis would be justified in ethnically cleansing Lebanon. Of course, it wouldn’t be.

47

Sebastian Holsclaw 08.01.06 at 1:01 pm

“Israel COULD announce a package of all these things tomorrow, and, like South Africa, probably achieve its goals.”

No, I don’t think it could achieve its goals that way. That is precisely the problem.

48

Dan Simon 08.01.06 at 1:03 pm

You know, one would think that in a present-day blog discussion among supposedly thoughtful, erudite people–led by a distinguished economist, at that!–about how making war is almost always a huge mistake because negotiation and compromise would produce a far better outcome, someone might have mentioned the words, “prisoners’ dilemma”, before comment 40…

Sheesh.

49

Lurker 08.01.06 at 1:11 pm

Bobcat,

>> There are few Greeks living in Turkey today, so in a certain sense the ethnic cleansing, at least on the part of Turkey, worked.

And Cyprus exists. Off and on, it makes the 9 ‘O’ clock news. Enough said.

My definition of ‘working’ includes contributing substantially to solving the problem at hand, amongst other things such as viability, stability, etc. Ethnic cleansing in Israel/Palestene will not work, IMO, because both are ethnic to that geography and both have no other place in the world they can be considered an indigenous ethnicity (I am disregarding religious conversions for the moment).

50

NewCenturyProf 08.01.06 at 1:26 pm

To 44. Lurker
‘What do you mean by ethnic cleansing “working”?’

What he means is that the Europeans (majority Anglos) who were in the Americas early, wiped out the native population, and then went on to found the wildly successful United States.
A classic example of ethnic cleansing working – no? This “ethnocleaner” view unfortunately seems to persist in the mindset of modern Americans (white mostly?) as well, although they would never acknowledge that even to themselves, such polite and civilized folk that they are!

51

Shelby 08.01.06 at 1:33 pm

I’ve read a great deal in the past few weeks, here and elsewhere, about how Israel should never, ever have gone teh route it did. No one has yet suggested a SINGLE credible alternative, except (possibly) for “do the same thing, but with fewer bombs”.

Look, as a civilian I’m all for minimizing civilian casualties. It’s even possible that if Israel sent in more troops and fewer planes, it would lead to, what, a 25% reduction in Lebanese civilian casualties and a 200% increase in Israeli military ones. (Guessing here, obviously.) But there is no hard-and-fast ratio determining how much military risk one must entail to spare civilians who are living between the wheels of the enemy’s artillery.

What else should Israel do, that is >substantially

52

loren king 08.01.06 at 1:33 pm

Lurker: media coverage of recent Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Gaza certainly emphasizes retribution for kidnappings and rockets, but it seems weird to suggest that land issues haven’t been at the top of the agenda for Israelis and Palestinians since, oh, 1948. Dan, not sure this is a prisoner’s dilemma; seems more like chicken.

53

Shelby 08.01.06 at 1:34 pm

Hmm, markup issues. “substantially different from what it’s doing now? Surrender? Negotiate with an enemy whose fundamental demand is Israel’s total destruction? What?”

54

T. Gracchus 08.01.06 at 1:41 pm

Israel may have accomplished (or aim at accomplishing) a couple of things not noted above. First, it probably has demonstrated military superiority with respect to surrounding states. I would not have thought that in genuine doubt, but it is possible. That could be seen as an aid in future negotiations with Syria or Egypt (although I can’t see why either would be interested in a military confrontation). The war on Lebanon has certainly taken attention away from Gaza and West Bank. (The cost seem too high for that to be motivation.) The war has elicited a very high degree of support for the government from the domestic audience. That has a variety of positive effects internally for policy development. (What that might be used for I do not know.) I suspect the war has also been somewhat reassuring on the dmoestic front in that in confirms a military strength and community coherence that can be satisfying.
For Hizbollah, the war looks like success as well – it appears the pscyhological and propaganda victor (accomplishing what the states could not); it has enticed IDF into attacks which make public engagement with Israel more difficult; it may also have changed the domestic Lebanese political situation in ways quite favorable to its domestic policy goals.
The situation is not really a prisoner’s dilemma for several reasons. It is not one-off and does not look like it reduces to a one-off interaction. That is crucial for prisoner’s dilemma.

55

Lurker 08.01.06 at 1:47 pm

Loren, as you can see from other posts in this thread, there is definitely something else at #1 on the agenda (realpolitik?).

56

Shelby 08.01.06 at 1:51 pm

T. Gracchus:

One other thing the war has done is save, not just Olmert, but the entire Israeli government. Or am I mistaken? Would the electorate have been satisfied to leave in power a government that didn’t respond when its soldiers are murdered and kidnapped on Israeli soil?

57

Dan Simon 08.01.06 at 1:57 pm

The situation is not really a prisoner’s dilemma for several reasons. It is not one-off and does not look like it reduces to a one-off interaction. That is crucial for prisoner’s dilemma.

Yes, of course–the “iterated” was implicit. Nobody really pays much attention to the one-off prisoners’ dilemma, because it isn’t very interesting.

Once again, sheesh.

58

jet 08.01.06 at 2:03 pm

Just to clarify, there are 1.8 million Native Americans in the US. That is .6% of the population.

But to make the point clearer, when the genocide started there were over 10 million Native Americans in North America. When the genocide ended, there were only a few hundred thousand Native Americans in all of North America.

59

M. Gordon 08.01.06 at 2:08 pm

In my reading on this subject, I think the overlooked issue is Israeli domestic politics. From the standpoint of the Israeli voter: Israel withdraws from Gaza and Lebanon, and has rockets rained on it. Fine, not many casualties, it’s part of the status quo to have impotent missles fired at them. Then, two abductions in two weeks, constituting a much bolder undertaking by their enemies. What to do if you are an Israeli leader? You’ve just handed back a ton of land, which was supposed to get you peace, and instead, you’ve emboldened the enemy. Clearly, a show of force is necessary to demonstrate that you’re not a pussy. You were merciful when you should have been just, and now you have to be just when you should be merciful. It’s not pleasant, or even ethical, but I think the alternative would be Netanyahu or somebody like him back in power, and, in the long run, that would probably be worse.

60

Kevin Donoghue 08.01.06 at 2:12 pm

What else should Israel do, that is substantially different from what it’s doing now? Surrender? Negotiate with an enemy whose fundamental demand is Israel’s total destruction? What?

Are you sure none of Israel’s enemies will settle for less than Israel’s total destruction? I don’t have any inside knowledge, but my impression is that the Syrian regime, for one, just wants some disputed territory. Israeli diplomats do formulate plans (which I only get to know about thanks to the Head Heeb). Somebody must think they could work.

I don’t have military experience either, but I’ve a strong impression the Israel has a lot of stuff which might be useful if Saudi Arabia transformed itself into a great power, but which isn’t much good for Lebanese-style fighting. Time to reallocate resources?

61

Brendan 08.01.06 at 2:22 pm

Ignoring all the ‘Israel’s destruction’ nonsense (considering Israel is in actuality destroying Lebanon even as we speak it all seems a bit academic) what are the real reasons for Israel to invade Lebanon? Self-evidently all the rubbish about a ‘quick victory’ over Hizbollah is a nonsense, as is the stuff about ‘withdrawal’ of Israeli forces once Hizbollah is ‘defeated’ (as in Iraq, the ‘insurgency’ will never be defeated: ergo: Israel will never leave).

So: what are the real reasons?

What I would like to ask geographers, and political scientists is: what is the consensus about this theory?

‘This article examines the hydropolitics of the Middle East, through a case study of the Litani River of Lebanon. The main thesis is that the desire to obtain additional water sources has been a primary influence on geostrategic interactions of Israel and its Arab neighbors. Israeli efforts to utilize the waters of the Litani help explain the establishment of the security zone in southern Lebanon. The apparent decision by Israel to retain access to the river makes it difficult for Lebanon to regain political stability and economic viability.’

http://web.macam.ac.il/~arnon/Int-ME/water/THE%20LITANI%20RIVER.htm

Is this a tinfoil hat theory or is it generally accepted? i.e is the reason Israel is invading Lebanon to ensure abundant water supplies? Please note: this is not a smart arse question, I would genuinely like to know the answer. (Answers from people who actually know what they are talking about only please).

62

Dan Simon 08.01.06 at 2:57 pm

Are you sure none of Israel’s enemies will settle for less than Israel’s total destruction?

That’s what the Oslo accords, the Lebanon withdrawal and the Gaza withdrawal were all about, Kevin. The Israelis got their answer.

I don’t have any inside knowledge, but my impression is that the Syrian regime, for one, just wants some disputed territory.

Ehud Barak, working from this same assumption, attempted to reach a deal with Syria in 1999, and got nowhere. Syria claimed extra territory that Israel held even before 1967, and demanded an Israeli promise of full withdrawal from all of it before discussions even began on what kind of formal agreement Syria might eventually be willing to enter into with Israel. Barak eventually gave up and decided to try the Palestinian track instead–hence, Camp David.

is the reason Israel is invading Lebanon to ensure abundant water supplies?

Lebanon attempted to muck with northern Israel’s water supply by diverting the Wazzani river in 2002. Israel threatened to treat such a diversion as an act of war–which in fact it is–and intervene militarily, and Lebanon backed off. There has been no trouble on that front since.

But I’m sure if you’re dead-set on ignoring the missiles raining down on Israeli cities, and on making common cause with Hezbollah in treating Israel as the “Little Satan”, then a bit of “water libel” is as good an excuse as any.

63

Shelby 08.01.06 at 3:09 pm

Kevin:

I was only trying to discuss Hezbollah, not Syria, Iran, etc. Although there’s obviously an argument to be made that they’re the real problem due to their support, funding, etc. of Hez. Does that mean Israel should attack them? Michael Totten’s suggested it; I’m unconvinced. But at least it’s an alternative for Israel, and one that would entail fighting “real” militaries that are not inextricably intertwined with the civilian population.

64

loren king 08.01.06 at 3:13 pm

dan simon: “Once again, sheesh.”

Sheesh Dan, enough with the sheesh’s: this isn’t a prisoner’s dilemma. The ‘dilemma’ in the PD is that the unique Nash equilibrium isn’t the Pareto solution, because each player would rather defect if the other cooperates, and of course being suckered is the worst outcome, so if the other player cheats, then you should too. But in the current conflict it isn’t at all clear that there’s just one equilibrium point. Again, it looks rather more like a variation on iterated ‘chicken’. Now, back to the substance of this conversation …

65

Brendan 08.01.06 at 3:28 pm

Ignoring Dan Simon’s ramblings for a second (always wise) perhaps I could be clearer. What I’m asking basically, is this. From the article:

‘ The issue of fresh water is especially acute in rapidly developing Israel, which obtains approximately 35 percent of its water supply from the Jordan River. Israel is consuming virtually all its replenishable annual water potential of 1.9 billion cubic meters, as well as an additional 400 million cubic meters from desalination plants and diminished aquifers. Sixteen senior Israeli hydrologists recently reported that the country is using its water reserves 15 percent faster than they can be replenished each year (Jerusalem Post 1990a). On a per capita basis, Israelis consume seven to ten times more water than do Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and approximately two to three times more than do their Lebanese and Jordanian neighbors.’

Essentially, is this true? Or is this a ‘peak oil’ situation (i.e. it sounds plausible at first glance, but considerably less so once one has looked into it thoroughly).

If it is, to what extent is this paragraph true?

‘The vision of a Greater Israel, held by some Israeli political factions, encompasses the currently occupied territories with their vital resources. Use of this vision as a governmental policy has been an obstacle to the land-for-peace formula on which the current Arab-Israeli peace talks are based. The outcome of that formula would be a gradual end of Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which some Israelis call Judea and Samaria, in exchange for the peaceful coexistence of Israel and Arab countries. A geographical application of the policy was demonstrated in a full-page advertisement that the Ministry of Agriculture placed in leading Israeli newspapers (Jerusalem Post 1990b). The advertisement argued that a Palestinian state on the West Bank, whether sovereign or autonomous, would draw on the water resources that are vital to the survival of Israel. Relinquishing the land to a potential Palestinian state would likely result in the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, whom the advertisement referred to as poverty-stricken humanity, from surrounding Arab countries. That in-migration “would generate an impossible strain on the already over-extended water supply and inadequate sewerage system, endangering even further Israel’s vulnerable and fragile source of life.” The commentary concluded with the assertion that “it is difficult to conceive of any political solution consistent with Israel’s survival that does not involve complete, continued Israeli control of water and sewerage systems, and of the associated infrastructure, including power supply and road network, essential to their operation, maintenance and accessibility” (Jerusalem Post 1990b).’

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Barry 08.01.06 at 3:58 pm

Shelby: “I’ve read a great deal in the past few weeks, here and elsewhere, about how Israel should never, ever have gone teh route it did. No one has yet suggested a SINGLE credible alternative, except (possibly) for “do the same thing, but with fewer bombs”.”

That isn’t a trivial thing, and frankly, it seems to be the most common suggestion. Careful retaliatory killings would have the greatest negative effect on Hezbollah, with the least postive effect on Hezbollah, and the least negative effect on Israel. It’s so obvious that I’ve got to assume that the Israeli government was playing a Bush here, or acting out of severe political weakness.

67

Dan Simon 08.01.06 at 4:11 pm

this isn’t a prisoner’s dilemma….it looks rather more like a variation on iterated ‘chicken’.

In the game of “chicken”, one party threatens to do something mutually destructive in order to persuade the second party to grant a concession to the first party. If Hezbollah’s threatened attacks on Israel would have been directly destructive to Hezbollah as well–say, if their missiles directly killed scores of Hezbollah operatives with each launch–then it might conceivably be compared with chicken. But Hezbollah stood to lose nothing–indeed, stood to gain a great deal, in terms of power and prestige–from attacking Israel, except in the case that Israel chose to retaliate. That’s a classic iterated prisoners’ dilemma, in which a defecting party only loses if the other party defects as well.

In fact, Nasrallah publicly admitted that he didn’t expect such a strong response from Israel–or, in other words, that he expected Israel to continue to co-operate, while Hezbollah defected. This, to respond to John’s original point, is how wars start–one side believes the other to be so weak, so demoralized or so naive that its threat to defect/retaliate is hollow, and therefore that defecting/attacking is more profitable than co-operating.

For a third time, sheesh.

68

Kevin Donoghue 08.01.06 at 4:29 pm

Does that mean Israel should attack [Syria]?

Shelby,

That’s hardly a solution. Granted, Israel could probably get to Damascus and topple statues etc., but as Iraq demonstrates that’s when the real troubles begin. It seems to me that you are assuming that the supply of Arabs who can be bargained with was exhausted after peace was made with Egypt and Jordan. The evidence for that claim is weak. On my reading of the story, negotiations between Israel and Syria have come close to fruition several times. Granted the asking price for peace was always high, but that’s apt to be the case for something which is in short supply. Peace with Egypt didn’t come cheap either.

Of course it sucks to pay over the odds, but so does the alternative.

69

John Quiggin 08.01.06 at 4:54 pm

As the comments make clear, the war has been a win for the political leaders on both sides, at least in the short term (and assuming the personal survival of the Hezbollah leaders). Obviously, this is a central part of the problem.

Dan Simon, you’ve commented many times on this topic at CT, without, as far as I can see, adding anything useful to discussion. Anything more from you will be deleted.

70

dsquared 08.01.06 at 4:55 pm

But I’m sure if you’re dead-set on ignoring the missiles raining down on Israeli cities, and on making common cause with Hezbollah in treating Israel as the “Little Satan”,

Dan, this is about your third warning. If you are going to accuse other people of being anti-Semites or allies of terrorists, do so openly and specifically, not through nasty little insinuations like this. I am not the only CT editor who is getting profoundly sick of this behaviour, and pretending to know a lot about game theory but just saying “sheesh” all the time is not really adding enough value to compensate for the irritation.

71

Brett Bellmore 08.01.06 at 4:58 pm

I don’t think the problem is that they’ve exausted the supply of Arabs who can be bargained with. It’s that they’ve exausted the supply of Arabs with whom there’s any point in bargaining. There are enough, and powerful enough, non state actors in the middle east, that the remaining state actors who might be bargained with can’t deliver their end of any bargains. Just as they bargained with Lebanon, and got rockets flying over the border.

72

Kevin Donoghue 08.01.06 at 5:06 pm

Brett,

If they bargained with Lebanon, what do you make of the story I linked to at #60 above, about Israeli officials preparing plans (which were never pursued) for a negotiated settlement?

73

loren king 08.01.06 at 5:13 pm

Dan, the PD has a specific payoff structure associated with the expected outcomes of the strategies available to the players (T>C>P>S, for temptation, cooperation, punishmment, and suckered). There is a unique Nash equilibrium that is Pareto inferior to mutual cooperation.

For Chicken, the payoffs for the analogous paired strategies (Temptation to keep going, Cooperating by both swerving, Suckered by swerving first, and Punished by colliding head on) is different: T>C>S>P, leading to symmetrical equilibria at (T,S) and (S,T), because nobody wants the really bad outcome of (P,P).

Notice the difference: in the PD, I would prefer punishment over being suckered. In chicken this isn’t true: if we knew for sure that the other side won’t swerve, we’d prefer to swerve rather than crash. But the other side is in the same boat: if they know we’ll commit, then they’d rather swerve. No one wants a collision (or more to the point: military leaders, soldiers, politicians and especially voters rarely want an expensive and deadly conflict, even if there’s a good chance that they’ll ultimately prevail, and at less cost in lives and resources than their opponent).

Nasrallah’s admission is entirely consistent with bluffing for (T,S) in Chicken but ending up with an outcome neither side wants (P,P). And the idea that Hezbollah stood to lose nothing seems implausible. The payoffs are hardly symmetrical, but I doubt very much that Israel’s offensive is costless to Hezbollah fighers in southern Lebanon, even if much of the tragic burden falls on innocents.

So, all of which amounts to an answer to your original query: no one had mentioned the Prisoners’ Dilemma because it isn’t a very helpful model of this particular conflict. Chicken (sometimes called — you guessed it, Brinksmanship) is only marginally better.

74

Sebastian Holsclaw 08.01.06 at 5:31 pm

Is it true that for all people (S,T) is preferred to (P,P)? Because if it isn’t, the model has a problem.

What if you have beliefs that indicate you or your people will survive the (P,P) catastrophe either by the intervention of a god or by some myth of toughness?

What if you believe the destruction of your enemy is worth the price your immediate group has to pay so that other similar groups can prosper?

Such beliefs are not exactly unknown in the history of the world.

75

Sebastian Holsclaw 08.01.06 at 5:33 pm

Hmm, I think I transposed the terms. The question should be, is it true for all people that being suckered is prefered to both sides being punished?

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Shelby 08.01.06 at 5:55 pm

Kevin:

If you’ll reread my prior post, you’ll see I am NOT persuaded Israel should attack Syria or anyone else. However, politically it had to respond in some fashion to Hezbollah’s provocations. Possibly some sort of diplomatic response would have worked better — though I find that hard to believe, Hez being what it is.

Regarding the Israeli diplomatic corps working on plans for negotiation, well, that’s what bureaucracies do in large part — work up, revise, try out, shelve, and dust off contingency plans. If Israel’s diplomats really had no plan for negotiating with Hezbollah, then someone(s) needs to be fired por encourageur les autres.

And can one of the principals on this blog create a separate Game Theory thread to siphon off all those comments?

77

loren king 08.01.06 at 6:20 pm

sebastian: “is it true for all people that being suckered is prefered to both sides being punished?”

Probably not. The model isn’t great. Shelby: I’ll quit it with the game theory posts.

78

john henry 08.01.06 at 7:15 pm

“One other thing the war has done is save, not just Olmert, but the entire Israeli government.”
Shelby’s conclusions at 56 are a bit premature. Yogi Berra’s axiom “it ain’t over…” applies here. The fortunes of leaders on both sides really depend on the outcomes and they won’t be known for a while yet. (If Israel’s security doesn’t see vast improvement, Olmert is toast). And it may be months or more before we know who the real winners are (they may not have been participants at all) and whether the exercise, as played, was worth it.

79

Joe 08.01.06 at 7:54 pm

Brendan,

You are delusional. Nobody in Israel, not even on the extreme right, wants to annex any part of Lebanon. We’d all rather it drifted away taking with it the Palestinians, Shia and for good measure, everyone else. But since it won’t, and since Hizbullah is there, amassing weapons, killing and kidnapping soldiers, and forming a greater threat each day, we had to act. I agree with the post that the planning and execution on Israel’s side leave much to be desired, not least in the number of killed innocents. But ignoring Hizbuallah was not an option, because that is an invitation for still more aggression.

80

Dan Kervick 08.01.06 at 9:50 pm

On the subject of the original post, I’m not so sure that no good will come of this war for Israel, at least when “good” is measured against the sorts of tactical and strategic goals Israel sets for itself.

It is my sense that Israel doesn’t really think in terms of permanent long-term solutions to its security problems. It perceives itself to exist in a neighborhood, and indeed a whole world, populated by enemies – people who are enemies now, and will be enemies ten years from now, and a hundred years from now. It has no idealistic dreams of turning its enemies into friends, and is resigned to a national security policy based on staying stronger than those enemies militarily, in perpetuity, and beating those enemies on the battlefield whenever necessary to maintain that preponderance of military power and defend itself against attacks.

This may involve beating those enemies again and again and again. Israel doesn’t care. Whether its worldview is simply based on deluded paranoia or an accurate command of reality, Israel believes it is in an enduring “fight or die” situation. That has been it’s condition since its founding, and Israel expects that it will always be in that condition. It plans to keep fighting, to stave off death for as long as possible. Maybe that will be 10 years, or 100, or a 1000. But like Victor Laszlo, it believes that the reason one fights is simply that “if we stop fighting our enemies, we die.”

Israel is not as sensitive as some other countries to international condemnation and the loss of friends, because its national strategy is not based on gaining and keeping lots of friends – so it doesn’t weigh the criticism as an important political minus. It’s strategy is based on the accumulation of military strength, and the ruthless exercise of strength. It doesn’t really care if it is reviled because of its military actions, because it believes that reviling Israel is the permanent pastime of much of the world, that the latest condemnation is nothing new, and that it is probably destined to remain the object of condemnation for as long as it exists. Israel’s leaders believe that the Jewish state simply participates in the same fate as the Jewish people in that regard.

After the conflict is over, Hizbollah will have fewer rockets, fewer rocket launchers, and fewer trained cadres. And of the forces left, fewer will be close to the Israeli border. There may also be NATO forces in south Lebanon; or Israel itself may occupy territory in south Lebanon. Hizbollah does have some missiles that reach far into Israel, but not that many. Now of course Hizbollah will attempt to rearm and rebuild over several years, and may even succeed. But what does Israel care? If this war buys Israel two or three years of relative safety and calm on its northern border, that’s two or three years better than they had before. And if Hizbollah rearms, Israel will just do the same thing again later that it is doing now.

Israel also seem bent on sending a message to its passive enemies, and the ambivalent bystanders, that there is a hard price to pay for aiding or tolerating its active enemies. One can’t say for sure this message won’t be received. There may be a lot of popular support for Hizbollah now in Lebanon and throughout the Middle East, but eventually the Lebanese and the international community will probably take steps to strengthen the Lebanese govenment and army, and diminish Hizbollah’s influence in Lebanon. And if Hizbollah is weakened by the war, at least for a time, this will undermine popular Lebanese confidence in Hizbollah’s ability to act as a national resistance movement and defend the Lebanese against the Israelis. Indeed, the very harshness of the Israeli attacks seems designed to send the message “Hizbollah can’t protect you.”

If Iran and Syria attempt to resupply Hizbollah, the Israelis will attempt to intercept those deliveries and destroy them. They may also succeed in raising the profile of Iranian intervention in Lebanon, and bring greater international pressure down on the Iranians.

There may also be a tactical military aim involved in this assault. If a war comes in the very near future between Iran and the US, or Iran and Syria and the US, Iran will temporarily have fewer options for striking at Israel through Hizbollah. So again it is not necessary for the war to deal a crushing defeat on Hizbollah, or destroy it, in order for Israel and the US to succeed in their immediate tactical aims. If the assault on Hizbollah is just an initial battle in a longer war, it is only necessary that Hizbollah be weakened somewhat and rolled back temporarily, to strengthen the US/Israeli military position against Iran.

Whether they have calculated poorly or no remains to be soon, but my guess is that Israel and the United States are executing a coordinated one-two punch here, and that other moves are yet to come.

81

felix 08.01.06 at 9:52 pm

But ignoring Hizbuallah was not an option, because that is an invitation for still more aggression.

Before last month’s attack, how many Israelis were killed by Hizbuallah attacks since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000?

82

Ragout 08.01.06 at 10:10 pm

So, I take it Quiggin’s theory is that most wars are mistakes, rather than being caused by states acting in their perceived interests. Watch out Quiggin! I think they take away economics PhDs for espousing that kind of theory.

Anyway, what’s the evidence that “The great majority of wars, revolutions and insurgencies have done more harm than good”? It seems to me that most U.S. wars have been pretty successful (from the U.S. point of view).

Obviously the Vietnam war and the current Iraq war look a lot like cases that support Quiggin’s argument. But what about the Korean War, the Mexican-American War, the 1988 naval conflict with Iran, our many Indian wars, the invasion of Panama, and so on? Even WWI was a big success from the US point of view (we got to reshape the world more to our liking afterwards at a relatively small cost, as wars go).

Finally, considering the present Israel-Lebanon conflict, I’m just amazed at the willingness of so many people to play armchair general, and offer pronouncements from afar about the war’s advisability and likely outcome. In my view, Israel’s elected leaders and generals are probably capable of making reasonable judgements about their own best interests.

83

catquas 08.01.06 at 10:32 pm

What I really wonder, which may be sort of irrelevent considering I don’t have the ability to impact what Israel does directly, is whether and to what degree Israel’s response is ethical. It may be in the interests of Israel, but it is human nature that Israelis disproportionately favor their own security over the security/well-being of Lebanese.

I think that a good portion of the bombings by Israel are probably on net beneficial for the security of Israel but not on net beneficial for people as a whole. An Israeli commander (or something) said that 80% of targets are Hezbollah, while 20% are Lebanese infrastructure that Hezbollah could use to threaten Israel.

84

Linda 08.01.06 at 10:38 pm

This is really not so complicated. Iran- and Syria-sponsored Hezbollah’s threats to destroy Israel were followed by a deadly border incursion and showers of rockets that forced one third of the country into shelters. Hundreds of daily rocket attacks does indeed constitute a threat to Israel’s survival. A population that is forced to stay in shelters cannot support itself. Olmert said it clearly: “we are fighting for the right to a normal life.”

85

Dan Kervick 08.01.06 at 10:48 pm

Linda, why is it people are having such difficulty keeping the time line straight here. The rocket showers came after Israel began its military campaign.

86

Chris 08.01.06 at 11:34 pm

OK, confining myself to the(necessarily minor) points that have not been raised;
1) The reason ethnic cleansing could succeed in the USA and Australia is that we kept going till we covered the continent, and had continents free of nation-states where we could do that, and had native populations small enough (after plagues) to be incapable of objecting. As none of these things apply in that neighbourhood ethnic cleansing, or even genocide, isn’t much use to Israel, and neither is advancing to the Litani, because in all those cases Israel will still be left with a border with people who hate it (even more). There simply is no situation where Israel will not face the war-threatening situation of having its soldiers standing within snatching distance of an enemy.
2) Once a war has begun, one cabinet or the other has to fall. There do not appear to be, historically speaking, many politicians who can perceive a difference between the existential destruction of their nation and the loss of office by their party.
3) One objective for Hezbollah, one imagines, is a weakened Israel, and that’s what it’s getting. While the rockets’ direct effects are minimal, their effect on the economy are profound, and the greatest long-term effect of the war will be to further discourage immigration to Israel and encourage emigration. Actual dead, fifteen; net population loss over the next decade, 25,000. The times when an attack on Israel spurred overseas Jews to enlist are long gone.
4) “Israel believes it is in an enduring “fight or die” situation. That has been its condition since its founding, and Israel expects that it will always be in that condition. It plans to keep fighting, to stave off death for as long as possible. Maybe that will be 10 years, or 100, or a 1000.”
If this had been made clear in 1946, would anybody have been in favour of establishing the state of Israel? Jews included?

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Linda 08.01.06 at 11:52 pm

Dan, Firing the rockets followed the Israeli military response to Hezbollah’s border incursion, which initiated this war. The rocket attacks demonstrate that Hezbollah means what it threatens, and must be disarmed.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.02.06 at 12:26 am

“Israel believes it is in an enduring “fight or die” situation. That has been its condition since its founding, and Israel expects that it will always be in that condition. It plans to keep fighting, to stave off death for as long as possible. Maybe that will be 10 years, or 100, or a 1000.”

If this had been made clear in 1946, would anybody have been in favour of establishing the state of Israel? Jews included?

Yes, of course. In 1946 that was the deal, and Jews in DP camps across Europe risked hunger strikes and British bullets to get it. If the Palmahniks were willing to “stave off death” from a raw kibbutz without running water or electricity, isn’t it plausible that sixty-story skyscrapers and billion-dollar IT and pharma ventures are worth defending with equal tenacity?

The sour joke about “the state of the Jews” being doomed to become “the Jew of the states” is older than 1946; it might be in Herzl or Pinsker. The phrase “eyn brera” (there is no choice) is centuries older yet.

Hat tip to Dan Kervick at #80; the stuff at the end about hypothetical Israeli/US coordination seems to me to anticipate the evidence, but his analysis of Israeli psychology is spot-on.

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Bruce Baugh 08.02.06 at 12:26 am

A useful response to the rocket attacks on Israel’s part would have been very careful aerial bombing followed by ground action by custom-assembled units loaded with the most telegenic soldiers command could find, the sort of ruggedly handsome and beautiful tough but compassionate young men and women Israel has produced in the past. (I don’t mean that sarcastically, either. I believe in the power of PR, and some of the best propaganda comes from real people doing dangerous work well.) They would take prisoners where feasible, and there’d be prompt public trials for as many as possible. The telegenic soldiers, meanwhile, would help with reconstruction and doing good things for those around the captured or killed terrorists.

The concept seems simple to me: get the bad guys, get them to justice, help those who aren’t the bad guys.

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Linda 08.02.06 at 12:34 am

Chris,1.Israel has soldiers “within snatching distance” of Jordan and Egypt. Those governments control their soldiers and know and choose to avoid the consequences of violating the border with Israel. Lebanon can learn the same lessons.
2.The Israeli people is remarkably united in viewing this war as a war of no alternative. Even if you assume that politicians are guided solely by their desire to hold onto their positions, which is perhaps too cynical, how does loss of office follow doing the people’s will in this case?
3.The rockets’ damage has been minimized by keeping the population inside. The murderous pellets and metal scraps with which they are packed would otherwise have cost huge losses of life and limb, within hundreds of yards of the place of impact. You are correct that this has been hugely expensive. But to call the rockets’ direct effects “minimal” is not correct, unless you think destroying homes, businesses, hospital wards, kindergartens, etc. is minimal damage. New immigrants have continued to arrive, despite the war. The nature of warfare has changed, and the IDF is not at the moment desperate for manpower.
4.Israel has peace, though not yet real friendship, with Jordan and Egypt. That gives hope for other fronts. Israelis want peace, and that is what they teach their children. Israelis also know that freedom isn’t free and that constant vigilance is required. The alternative to establishing the state of Israel would have been the need for Jews to depend on the good nature of other nations to protect them. We know how that worked out in Europe and in Moslem countries, which is part of the reason that Israelis take very seriously the threat of terrorist groups that call for death to the Jews and wiping Israel off the map.

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Brendan 08.02.06 at 2:15 am

‘Brendan,

You are delusional. Nobody in Israel, not even on the extreme right, wants to annex any part of Lebanon’

Actually Joe it’s you who are delusional. The National Religious Party, amongst others (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Religious_Party) wants to annexe, permanently, huge chunks of the middle east. These parties have seats and power. In 2003 this EXTREME right wing party was part of the government.

As I write, Israel is amassing its forces for ‘huge’ land invasion. The idea that it is doing this because of the six or seven missile strikes that took place between 2004-2006 (none of which injured civilians) is simply risible.

These are cross borders skirmishes, of exactly the same sort as regularly occur between Pakistan and India. The idea that India, therefore, or Pakistan, should be allowed to INVADE, is simply beyond ridiculous. Indeed the international community (including the US) has bent over backwards to prevent such an eventuality. It is only Israel which is granted such exemption from the basic laws of ‘proportionality’ in terms of self-defence (which, to repeat for the millionth time, no one doubts: NO ONE here is arguing that Israel should not have a right to defend herself. )

Therefore, given that Israel CANNOT defeat Hizbollah (without committing something close to genocide) and she cannot protect herself against rocket attacks why is she doing this?

My theory (which could well be wrong)

a: To seize Lebanese water and
b: Because of pressure from extreme right wing parties to seize part of Lebanon permanently.

Luckily our two theories lead to two differing predictions. If you are right, Israel will strike hard, fast, and then withdraw. If I am right, Israel will strike hard, take her time, and not give up the land seized (up to the Litani River) without a struggle.

So we will soon know.

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Ragout 08.02.06 at 2:45 am

Brendan, the Wikipedia article doesn’t say anything about annexing Lebanon or “huge chunks of the middle east.” It does say that the National Religious Party wants to annex the West Bank.

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John Quiggin 08.02.06 at 2:48 am

Shorter Linda: Their retaliation to our retaliation proves they meant to retaliate all along.

This is indeed the logic of war at its most basic.

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Linda 08.02.06 at 2:55 am

Brendan, Could you please provide a source for your claim that the NRP wants to annex Lebanon? Also, why do you ignore the rocket attacks that Israel is suffering now? (The north has just been hit minutes ago). It is possible to defeat a militia/political movement without committing genocide. Will you admit you were mistaken when Israel does not seize Lebanese land and/or water?

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Linda 08.02.06 at 3:12 am

John, How do you think your government ought to act if a militia in the country next door started firing rockets at you? What solution would you propose? Or would you agree to simply absorb thousands of rocket attacks?

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john m. 08.02.06 at 3:38 am

Linda (#93)”It is possible to defeat a militia/political movement without committing genocide”

In the case of Hezbollah, and taking defeat to mean defeat permanently, how will Israel do so otherwise? I see little on this thread that would not consider a defeat of Hexbollah not obtained at tremendous human cost a good thing. Seriously, imagine if the IDF were able to actually permanently bring about the end of Hezbollah and then withdrew back to Israel? The unlikely nature of this is the central idea of the orignal post.

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Linda 08.02.06 at 3:43 am

Dan is right about many things, including the timing of the rocket attacks: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/737634.html “The militants attacked two IDF armored Hummer jeeps patrolling along the border with gunfire and explosives, in the midst of massive shelling attacks on Israel’s north. Three soldiers were killed in the attack and two were taken hostage.” My bad for trusting my memory.

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Linda 08.02.06 at 3:47 am

Dan, Lebanon needs to have an Altalena moment, and remove Hezbollah from power.

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Ragout 08.02.06 at 3:51 am

John M. and everybody else arguing that Israel is simply crazy,

Israel says that it expects to defeat Hezbollah, or at least do considerable damage, killing its fighters and destroying its assets. What is your basis for doubting that this is a likely outcome? Your knowledge of military affairs?

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Harald Korneliussen 08.02.06 at 3:51 am

NewCenturyProf, the ethnic cleansing of the americas was mostly by inadverdent introduction of diseases, as far as I know. But your point stands that ethnic cleansing and relocation experiments has “worked” in the past, as well as giving us the conflicts of Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Israel, to name a few. And those were just the ones the British were responsible for…

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Brendan 08.02.06 at 3:58 am

I don’t know why, but it’s the lies that get you. Especially when they are so easily disproved.

‘Brendan, the Wikipedia article doesn’t say anything about annexing Lebanon or “huge chunks of the middle east.” It does say that the National Religious Party wants to annex the West Bank.’

From the Wikipedia article: ‘Mafdal believes that the land of Israel is holy and belongs to the Jews on the basis of God’s promise to Abraham and later to Isaac and Jacob. They believe it is God’s will to settle all the land of Israel and nurture it. This principle has great impact on Mafdal policy toward the West Bank and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’ Note: land of Israel (highlighted) is a hotlink. The relevant article in Wikipedia defines it as: ‘The Tanakh (or Hebrew Bible, referred to also as the “Old Testament” by Christians) contains several descriptions of the borders of the land (of Israel). These descriptions encompass a region that extends from the “River of Egypt” to the Euphrates. Areas known to be included are the modern State of Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), the Gaza Strip, and much of modern-day Syria and Lebanon. ‘

So…that was that one dealt with.

Linda is implicitly wrong for implying that only Hizbollah took part in the cross border skirmishes (which is what they were: not Hizbollah ‘provocations’ let alone the prelude to an invasion of Israel by Lebanon, whereas, of course we now know that Israel ‘provocations’ really were a prelude to an invasion) .

‘Since its withdrawal of occupation forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000, Israel has violated the United Nations-monitored “blue line” on an almost daily basis, according to UN reports. Hizbullah’s military doctrine, articulated in the early 1990s, states that it will fire Katyusha rockets into Israel only in response to Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians or Hizbullah’s leadership; this indeed has been the pattern.

In the process of its violations, Israel has terrorized the general population, destroyed private property, and killed numerous civilians. This past February, for instance, 15-year-old shepherd Yusuf Rahil was killed by unprovoked Israeli cross-border fire as he tended his flock in southern Lebanon. Israel has assassinated its enemies in the streets of Lebanese cities and continues to occupy Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms area, while refusing to hand over the maps of mine fields that continue to kill and cripple civilians in southern Lebanon more than six years after the war supposedly ended. What peace did Hizbullah shatter?’

Isn’t it funny, incidentally that my obvious request for information, on a subject on which I don’t know much about (i.e. Israel and water) has metamorphosed, after only five or six posts, into a statement, made by me, apparently, in which I explicitly stated that I believed that Israel is invading Lebanon for water? Isn’t that remarkable? A statement which, apparently, I now must ‘retract’. Since I never made any such statement I have metaphysical difficulties in retracting it, I’m afraid.

Also isn’t it funny that despite the fact that I explicitly stated that I wanted replies only from people who actually know what they are talking about (i.e. hydrologists, political scientists, experts on the middle east) they only replies I have had are from people who clearly know even less about the situation than I do?

(finally, I have never stated, and never will state, that Israel’s goal in invading Lebanon is ‘genocide’).

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Ragout 08.02.06 at 4:10 am

Brendan, you admit that the article on the NRP doesn’t define the “Land of Israel,” but merely links to another Wikipedia article. So it’s not clear how the NRP defines the “Land of Israel.”

As it happens the Wikipedia article on the Land of Israel, also includes another definition, a definition that excludes Lebanon. You neglect to quote this definition, and yet you call *me* a liar!

From Wikipedia:
“Consequently, in 20th century political usage, the term “Land of Israel” usually denotes only those parts of the land which came under the British mandate, i.e. the land currently controlled by the State of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and sometimes also Transjordan (now the Kingdom of Jordan).”

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Kevin Donoghue 08.02.06 at 4:27 am

Israel says that it expects to defeat Hezbollah, or at least do considerable damage, killing its fighters and destroying its assets. What is your basis for doubting that this is a likely outcome?

Ragout, I can’t speak for anybody who thinks Israel is “simply crazy”, but I never place much credence in the prospectuses that governments issue when they go to war. Also, Israel has been in Lebanon before and Hezbollah wasn’t generally getting any weaker as a result of IDF activities.

Incidentally I completely agree with comments you have made elsewhere, to the effect that the Israelis are a good deal more restrained than the Americans have been in Iraq. But I think you’ll agree that the destruction of Fallujah is not a good measure of what’s reasonable.

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Brendan 08.02.06 at 5:14 am

My point, in response to Ragout was not about the policy of this or that political party, but about whether this invasion is going to lead to a long term occupation of Lebanon. In fact, way back in the day, there were and are forces in Israeli society that want South Lebanon to be controlled (not necessarily occupied: an ‘international force’ would do as well) by Israel. Many Israeli politicans argued that the withdrawal of 2000 was a mistake.

What is true is that very very few Israeli (or any) politicans actually have the nerve to come out and say that they want South Lebanon occupied permanently. But so what? This is the situation in Iraq too. George Bush did not come out and say that he wanted an occupation of Iraq by the US that would last decades (or longer). It’s just barely possible, I suppose that he even believed it. But the mechanics of the operation led to the situation we are now in, in which (given the assumptions and actions of the Bush administration) the Americans ‘cannot leave’.

Equally, to quote this blog: ‘Does anyone remember how U.S. involvement in Vietnam kept increasing incrementally from a few hundred military “advisors” in 1963 to 500,000 troops and 55,000 dead by 1972-3? Does anyone remember the lies Ariel Sharon told Begin and the Israeli people in 1982 about his Lebanon adventure being a limited incursion lasting at most a few weeks and not advancing farther north than the Litani River? Does anyone remember Bush telling us the Iraq war would cost a mere fraction of what it has ended up costing us?

The point is (and I’ve been pounding away mercilessly at it here for weeks) that unless you execute a pinpoint military operation with clear and limited objectives you must perforce make the same mistakes Olmert, Peretz and the IDF are making here. Their biggest problem is that they are improvising the Lebanon war–essentially making it up as they go along. They have a “plan” in the same sense that the U.S. had a “plan” for administering Iraq after it “won” the war against Saddam. It represents mission creep, which is:

the expansion of a project or mission beyond its original goals, often after initial successes. Mission creep is usually considered undesirable due to the dangerous path of each success breeding more ambitious attempts, only stopping when a final, often catastrophic, failure occurs.’

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2006/07/25/israel-reoccupies-southern-lebanon-1982-redux/

The fact is that the ‘default position’ for an invasion is to keep the area seized occupied for ‘as long as it takes’ or ‘until the job is done’. But somehow the job is never done, and so the force remains in place, and ‘short term’ occupation gradually becomes ‘long term’.

(Incidentally, I know this is ‘another’ reason for the invasion but I never think that these things are ‘monocausal’.)

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Guest 08.02.06 at 6:04 am

Perhaps citing a Wikipedia article for anything – especially for an issue as controversial as the Middle East – is not wise ?

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john m. 08.02.06 at 6:24 am

For the record, I do not think Israel is crazy but I fail to see how their current actions will meet their stated objections. As for my basis for saying this, how about their failure to defeat Hezbollah up to this point? Including previous invasions, current actions etc. etc. etc. etc….why will it work this time? is the question I think for those querying others knowledge of military affairs.

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loren king 08.02.06 at 10:04 am

I know I said I’d shut with the game theory, but Dan: you need to study some of this stuff if you’re going to carry on like this. You’ve provided no evidence that the iterated PD is a better model than brinksmanship here (not least because you haven’t carefully specified the payoffs and feasible strategies). Look, of course PD and chicken can be roughly applied to elements of this conflict. But what do they tell us? Not much that we didn’t already know, which is why nobody is talking about them but us. Here’s another model that may fit better, but still isn’t especially helpful. Okay, now I really will shut up.

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Sebastian Holsclaw 08.02.06 at 10:18 am

“That’s right—the “chicken” model isn’t great. On the other hand, as Sebastian has effectively pointed out, the “iterated prisoners’ dilemma” model fits perfectly after all. Sheesh.”

I’m not certain my point goes that direction. I think that the chicken model (in terms of consequences) might be fairly descriptive. It is our assumption that there aren’t people who would prefer to have both sides lose rather than be the sucker that I suspect is not correct. This may be especially true when the decision-makers are somewhat insulated from the effect of losing. (Or maybe that takes us into another model).

One of the problems with any of the standard theories (“prisoner’s dilemma” or “chicken” or “dollar auction”) is that the entity paying the price for bad decisions is not the entity making those decisions. This is especially highlighted in the terrorist/guerrilla warfare model. The terrorist/guerrilla warrior often pays much less of a price (and for a much greater ‘reward’) than the civilians he hides behind. In a “chicken” analogy, he gets the reward if the other side is the sucker, but the civilians around him get to pay the price if he neither side blinks.

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Eyal 08.02.06 at 11:03 am

Coming to this a bit late, but several comments:

1) #30 (palito): “Make a big gesture that shifts the burden of containing its neighbors’ hostility to the international community”. This statement of yours is rather ironic considering current events. Do you eman big gestures like the withdrawal from Lebanon, and the resounding failure of the international community to enforce UNSCR 1559?

2) #39 (jonathan): You’re quite correct that Hizbullah is in no position to physically destroy Israel. However, that doesn’t mean its attacks are inconsequential. While the Israeli loss of life is relatively low, that’s because people are either fleeing the north (one estimate I saw placed the number of internal ISraeli refugees at 100,000) and the rest are sitting in shelters all day. That entails major economic damage.

3) #44 (barry): I’ve seen this claim that terrorism declined after Oslo, and I fail to understand its origin. A review of the statistics will show that following Oslo, terrosim substantially increased, both in the number of attacks and their lethality.

4) #81 (felix): there were occasional attacks. Just off the top my my headlast December, 11 Israelis (including 4 civilians) were killed in a Hizbullah attack.kidnap attempt in Ghajar; in February, a soldier was either injured or killed, and civilian communities were attacked (a house in Metula took a direct hit from an anti-tank weapon); there was an earlier incident in which an Israeli civilian was killed, though I don’t remember the details; and of course, there was the kidnapping.killing of three Israeli soldiers in December 2000 and the later kidnapping of an Israeli civilian from Europe.

5) #89 (bruce): that’s a very humane response, but have you thought through the implications, or how possible it is in practise. For example, sticking around to rebuild the damage would necessarily mean at least the temporary reoccupation of southern Lebanon.

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Ragout 08.02.06 at 12:11 pm

Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon weakened the PLO substantially, killing lots of fighters, capturing huge amounts of equipment, and driving them out of Lebanon entirely with a few months. The PLO’s response? Within a few years, they moderated their position and endorsed a 2-state solution for the first time. So a military success is perfectly possible.

After that, things didn’t go so well for the Israelis of course. The Syrians, Hezbollah, and international pressure drove Israel back to a strip on the border by 1985. But it’s easy to imagine that things could have gone differently. Most obviously, Israel could have withdrawn within a few months, after they’d achieved their initial objective of driving out the PLO. And it also seems likely that Israel will withdraw more quickly this time. Unlike 1982, the Syrians aren’t occupying Lebanon anymore, the Israelis have no Lebanese allies to support, and they have lots of bitter experience with past wars in Lebanon.

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felix 08.02.06 at 1:14 pm

there were occasional attacks. Just off the top my my headlast December, 11 Israelis (including 4 civilians) were killed in a Hizbullah attack

Do you have a link to any information on this?

The only timeline (http://camera.org/index.asp?x_print=1&x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1148) I can find lists only 4 Israelis killed from the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon until the violence that began last month, and only one killed after 2000.

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Eyal 08.02.06 at 2:13 pm

felix

Sorry, that’s what I get for typing too fast. There were 12 injured in that attack

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Brendan 08.02.06 at 2:40 pm

Felix
this article (http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p09s02-coop.html) might help you with the ‘who was shooting at who’ argument.

‘And it also seems likely that Israel will withdraw more quickly this time.’ Hmmmmmm. A quick withdrawal was what was promised the last time, too, as I recall.

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Chris 08.02.06 at 8:32 pm

I remarked at 86
1) “There simply is no situation where Israel will not face the war-threatening situation of having its soldiers standing within snatching distance of an enemy.”
Linda says “Israel has soldiers “within snatching distance” of Jordan and Egypt. Those governments control their soldiers…. Lebanon can learn the same lessons.”
Well, yes. My point is simply that moving Israel’s borders cannot be a solution to Israel’s border problems.
2) “Once a war has begun, one cabinet or the other has to fall.”
Linda says “how does loss of office follow from doing the people’s will?”
Politicians know that the people do not forgive anybody doing the people’s will and then losing. And at least one out of Hezbollah and Israel has to lose. Which acts – my point – as a deterrent to peace.
3) “the greatest long-term effect of the war will be to further discourage immigration to Israel and encourage emigration.”
Linda says “New immigrants have continued to arrive, despite the war…. the IDF is not at the moment desperate for manpower”
I was thinking less of the manpower needs of the IDF than the “demographic time bomb” argument – posponing the time when Israel (however boundaried) has a moslem majority. Here the amount of immigration is less important than the (Jewish) immigration/emigration balance, and while this is in Israel apparently a state secret I don’t think it’s irrational to suggest that it’s unlikely to rise in the wake of rocket attacks; that is to say, Hezbollah rockets are in part a successful attempt to cut back the effects of the Law of Return.
4) “If [the future] had been made clear in 1946, would anybody have been in favour of establishing the state of Israel? Jews included?”
Joshua says “Yes, of course. In 1946 that was the deal, and Jews in DP camps across Europe risked hunger strikes and British bullets to get it.”
To which,
– Not really; those in camps weren’t offered a straight choice of taking up residence in, say, america/england/canada/australia or israel; if they’d had that, the direction of emigration may have been different
– still, let’s up the ante; if in 1946 the people in the camps had known both that Israel would be at war much of the time and that there would not only be no more holocausts in America/england/canada/australia but very little overt antisemitism either, which country would they have preferred? It’s a serious historical question, though one obviously now very much overtaken by events; did the Jews of 1946 make the wrong choice (at least if viewed on prudential grounds)?

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Linda 08.02.06 at 10:36 pm

Chris, Your “serious historical question” suggests that you think the establishment of the state of Israel was a mistake. About what other country is this “serious” question asked? Perhaps I’m mistaken, but your very question seems to challenge Israel’s right to exist.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.02.06 at 11:28 pm

still, let’s up the ante; if in 1946 the people in the camps had known both that Israel would be at war much of the time and that there would not only be no more holocausts in America/england/canada/australia but very little overt antisemitism either, which country would they have preferred?

Chris’s question presupposes that the existence and military viability of Israel can be causally decoupled from the modern lack of overt antisemitism in the Diaspora. Yet in practice American Jews only get to stay at Conrad Hilton’s hotels, work in Henry Ford’s boardrooms, and run for vice president in Huey Long’s party, in decades when Israel is strong and secure. The causal link thus seems to me at least an open question.

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Chris 08.03.06 at 2:03 am

Joshua, it’s a point I’ve heard before, but then in practice American blacks now get to stay at Conrad Hilton’s hotels, work in Henry Ford’s boardrooms, and run for vice president in Huey Long’s party whether Nigeria is strong and secure or not, and the causal link thus seems to me tenuous.

Linda, you say you think the establishment of the state of Israel was a mistake. About what other country is this “serious” question asked? Just in the last decade (and a bit), the USSR,Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Serbia-Montenegro. Latvia and Lithuania are now back, but they didn’t have an enforceable right to exist during the seventy years of the USSR (and the Ukraine has been unstated since Ivan the Terrible, and Livonia is still waiting its turn). If we’re talking about existing within their own chosen boundaries, Germany and Danzig, Indonesia and Timor, and Serbia and Kosovo had to be reminded that there are limits to this, too. At another level, Armenia, Kurdistan, and Pashtunistan drift in and out of existence from time to time with different boundaries.

your very question seems to challenge Israel’s right to exist. States don’t have rights. People have rights. The people, for example, who live within the currently enforced boundaries of Israel have the right (subject to the human rights of the minority) to whatever kind of state the majority of them want.

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Ragout 08.03.06 at 2:12 am

Don’t forget that Jews expelled from Arab countries, mostly from 1948-1967, are a large fraction of Israel’s population (somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2). If the state of Israel hadn’t been established in 1948, what would have happened to them?

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Kevin Donoghue 08.03.06 at 4:11 am

My belief is that if Israel hadn’t been created, anti-Semitism in Europe and America would have been slightly worse than it has been, while the Arab countries would have gone on treating their Jews about as badly as they did before. The increased hostility to Jews in the Arab world is surely a consequence of Israel’s victories.

Doesn’t the whole chain of events leading to the creation of Israel make nonsense of any effort to think of war as the outcome of a rational decision-making process? The idea of a Jewish state was a (rational) response to the irrationality of gentiles, which Jews had endured for centuries. The choice of location was completely irrational. Of course the individuals involved were making perfectly sensible decisions, but they were working on the assumption that other people are not sensible and they were quite right to do so. That sounds like a paradox, but I don’t think it is. It’s just an example of assumptions being self-fulfilling.

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abb1 08.03.06 at 6:58 am

My belief is that if Israel hadn’t been created, anti-Semitism in Europe and America would have been slightly worse than it has been…

Why? Seems counterintuitive.

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Daniel 08.03.06 at 8:22 am

Chris, Your “serious historical question” suggests that you think the establishment of the state of Israel was a mistake. About what other country is this “serious” question asked?

Nearly all African ones, plus Iraq/Mesopotamia and several other Gulf States. You don’t hear many people arguing that the creation of modern Germany and Italy was a mistake but there were plenty of people arguing about it at the time. More or less everybody agrees that the creation of the Soviet Union was a mistake. I never understand why people ask this question rhetorically.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.03.06 at 9:30 am

Nearly all African ones, plus Iraq/Mesopotamia and several other Gulf States. You don’t hear many people arguing that the creation of modern Germany and Italy was a mistake but there were plenty of people arguing about it at the time. More or less everybody agrees that the creation of the Soviet Union was a mistake. I never understand why people ask this question rhetorically.

When people say that the creation of Nigeria, Iraq or the Soviet Union was a mistake, what they mean is that the world is better off without the sovereign instantiation of a national identity, because without a state that national identity itself is likely to evaporate, to the benefit of its members and the world. The nation of Israel (am Yisrael, “nation” as the King James Version used it) is, however, demonstrably unlikely to evaporate, and a fond desire that it might evaporate is closely associated with ideologies that are unspeakable in polite company.

The example of (Metternich’s or Bismarck’s) Germany is an apt one; the history of its first century makes clear that the question of whether there is a “German nation” is a consequential one. But the analogous question about the Jewish nation is not (openly) in the dock, in most cases where “Israel’s right to exist” is raised rhetorically. That is, an attempt to end am Yisrael by banning infant circumcision, abolishing the public reading of Hebrew, knocking down gravestones and so on is almost never what is (openly) meant.

Instead, the rhetorical pose is that a return to the pre-Zionist status quo ante is desirable: Israel should continue to exist as a nation, but once again as a stateless one. This is unusual enough to be slightly unbelievable; it was slighly unbelievable during the nineteen centuries it was real. No one wants a stateless Soviet Union, a spiritual union of former Iraqis or a common Nigerian flag to fly in the hearts of independent Yorubas and Ibos alike.

(To forestall the inevitable tedious objection to “am Yisrael’s” connection to the modern state of Israel, on the grounds of a 20% minority of the latter’s citizens with no stake in the former, I agree it’s a thorny problem, though not different in kind from problems other new countries, notably the US, have faced with minority threads in the national narrative. “We didn’t land on Plymouth Rock; Plymouth Rock landed on us.” How Israel will come to terms with its Arab citizens when its continued existence behind secure borders is assured will be a severe moral test of a nation and a people; luckily, the standard of “one law for the homeborn and the stranger” has been a Jewish text for much longer than it has been a concern of Israel’s critics. Would an Israel at peace eventually add an Arabic verse to ha-Tikva? It would be nice to have the luxury of finding out.)

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Kevin Donoghue 08.03.06 at 9:41 am

abb1,

It’s years since I read about it, but I think the record shows that anti-Semitism declined in Europe and America after (and presumably because of) Israeli victories over the Arabs. Most likely this has to do with demolishing the stereotype of Jews as being weak, cowardly and incapable of building a state of their own. So my guess is that, outside the Middle East, the success of Israel raised the status of Jews. It raised their status in the eyes of Arabs too of course, but since they became the new holders of the wooden spoon it’s hardly surprising that their hostility increased.

Nor is this peculiar to Jews. The story of “how the Irish became white” is linked to the story of Irish nationalism. In fact there may be a general rule at work here. As Machiavelli remarked, to be weak is to be despised. It’s for reasons like this that rationality and war don’t mix.

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Joshua W. Burton 08.03.06 at 9:47 am

As Machiavelli remarked, to be weak is to be despised.

Yiddish saying (attributed to Israel Zangwill, long before 1948): A loshn is a diyalekt mit an armey un a flot. (A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.)

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abb1 08.03.06 at 11:18 am

Kevin, I suppose you’re right, there is probably less contempt. Otoh there is probably more of the ‘the elders of zion’ kinda feeling out there as Mel Gibson’s incident seems to demostrate.

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Brendan 08.04.06 at 3:14 am

Ho hum. As I predicted.

‘The Israeli military began preparing to reoccupy southern Lebanon on Thursday, and Israeli officials conceded that their three-week bombing campaign has had no significant impact on Hizballah’s ability to fire short-range rockets into northern Israel.

The dispatch of thousands of Israeli soldiers to retake as much as one-fifth of Lebanon — the operation must still be approved by the Israeli cabinet — would mark a major expansion in Israel’s Lebanon campaign and would reverse Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon six years ago after a troubled 18-year occupation.’

After invasion comes colonisation, as anyone with any sense could have predicted. And will the troops be home by Christmas? Perhaps. But Christmas in what year?

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060804/NEWS07/608040379/1009

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Eyal 08.04.06 at 5:39 am

“After invasion comes colonisation, as anyone with any sense could have predicted”

If it’s so predictable, perhaps your sensible self could explain why Israel made no moves to colonization for the 18 years it controled southern Lebanon?

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Joshua W. Burton 08.04.06 at 8:34 am

After invasion comes colonisation, as anyone with any sense could have predicted.

Which provides the perfect lead-in to my….

Two-state solution
(A modest proposal for peace in the Levant)

Allow Lebanon to become an independent country, with its own flag (maybe something friendly like Canada’s, only with a cedar?), a seat at the United Nations, and full formal recognition by the Great Powers. Let Beirut hold democratic elections, to create an accountable legitimate government that can coopt and rein in the extremists. Carefully delineate the international boundary, and then put UN observers at the fence, to make sure any border incidents are sharply deterred and promptly contained. Above all, pull the Israeli right-wing settlers out of Lebanon permanently, ending the territorial dispute. (Heck, evacuate the Israeli- tainted Druse and Christian partisans of the South Lebanon Army, with their families, to new homes in northern Israel, too.)

Once the benefits of lasting and secure peace are obvious to all the involved parties, apply some of the same ideas, as appropriate, to the other theaters in the conflict.

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