Billmon on Lebanon

by Chris Bertram on July 28, 2006

If you aren’t reading “Billmon”: on the war in Lebanon, well you should be.

From one of his “more recent posts”: :

bq. I’ve been watching events in the Middle East off and on for the past 25 years, and I’ve seen the Israelis get ugly before. But I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen them this ugly — Ariel Sharon’s scowling mug excepted, of course. It’s almost as if bits of Sharon’s DNA have been duplicated and injected into the entire Israeli cabinet and the general staff: Massively disproportionate use of force (as defined in the Geneva Conventions, not the fevered war porn fantasies of Right Blogistan) reprisal terror bombings, an if-it-moves-shoot-it mentality on the ground:

bq. “Over here, everybody is the army,” one soldier said. “Everybody is Hezbollah. There’s no kids, women, nothing.”

bq. Another soldier put it plainly: “We’re going to shoot anything we see.”

bq. And now a proposal to turn all of southern Lebanon into a free fire zone.

bq. This all might be considered normal military behavior for, oh say, a Bosnian Serb militia captain, circa 1991, but when the political and military leaders of an allegedly civilized state start talking this way, something big is going on, and going wrong.

UPDATE: A couple of people have emailed to make the point that the two quotes from soldiers need to be read in the context of the previous paragraph of the report from which they are taken, which reads:

bq. Now more Israeli soldiers are on the way, including an armored unit being transferred from Gaza to Lebanon. They have been told civilians have left the region where they will fight.

Perhaps that makes those soldiers’ remarks less damning as indicators _of their personal attitudes_ , but it rather raised the question of who is telling them the falsehood that civilians have led the region and why, since their acceptance of that falsehood might well lead them to kill non-combatants. In the context of Billmon’s post as a whole — which you can read by following the link — it is clear that the “proposal to turn all of southern Lebanon into a free-fire zone” is a reference back to statements by the Israeli Justice minister Ramon, and not a conclusion based on those quotes from soldiers.