Turning the Other Cheek in the Middle East?

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Today in the Washington Post columnist Sebastian Mallaby points to the differences in how Israel and India responded to recent terrorist attacks. Israel sends tanks into Gaza and bombs Hezbollah and non-Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. India complains to Pakistan about harboring jihadists. Mallaby praises India's response as "exemplary." In his column Mallaby is not so much criticizing Israel as pointing out how ineffective "diplomacy" has proved to be in crafting effective responses to terrorism and properly blaming Russia and China for the impasse.

But by contrasting the responses of India and Israel, Mallaby is also implying that Israel should show more restraint in the face of terrorist attacks. However, one bit of playground wisdom is that you never back down to bullies because doing so only sets you up for more beatings later. On the other hand, how does one break the downward spiral of tit-for-tat vendettas? Historically vendettas died out in societies that succeeded in establishing the rule of law–most crucially by the creation of judicial systems in which no person was a judge in his or her own court.

Unfortunately, relations between nations remain more like a chaotic school playground in which bullies roam free than a court of law. That means that turning the other cheek only invites getting slapped on that one too. If Israel turned other cheek, maybe that would defuse the vendetta in the Middle East, but I doubt it.

(Aside: Mallaby overlooks one other possible explanation for India's restraint–Pakistan has atomic weapons. For now we will not consider the question of how to prevent bullies from obtaining nuclear bombs.)

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  1. Yeah. That aside is a big one.

  2. Also, the explosions in Mumbai were not due to shells flying across the border from artillery batteries. There are a finite number of appropriate responses to artillery.

  3. If Israel turned other cheek, maybe that would defuse the vendetta in the Middle East, but I doubt it.

    This wasn’t the first time Hezbollah tried to abduct Israeli troops. …I understand Hezbollah tried to do the same thing last November. Israel responded by destroying some Hezbollah outposts, but, as I understand, Israel stopped the attack when Lebanon requested a cease fire. I understand The UN denounced Hezbollah for its action in November.

    So anyway, I’m still on the fence in terms of supporting Israel’s actions here, but it seems to me that Israel has turned the other cheek once already.

  4. Diplomacy or not, the Islamic fundies are not going to allow avoiding a fight forever. They’ll escalate until they get the armeggedon they apparently want.

  5. Diplomacy or not, the Islamic fundies are not going to allow avoiding a fight forever. They’ll escalate until they get the armeggedon they apparently want.

    Surely I’m not the only one here who sees a difference between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but sometimes it feels that way.

    …You see a difference between Christian fundamentalists and people who bomb abortion clinics, don’t you?

  6. As another aside, I don’t think that Pakistan has plans to wipe India from the map, whereas that is the long-term plan Hezbollah (and of course hamas) have for Israel.

    Even in chess, long term startegy takes on a different meaning when playing against an opponent trying to checkmate you and one whose stated goal is two kill you after the game.

  7. The thing that gets me about the criticism in the vaunted “international community” towards Israel seems to center around the deaths of civilians in Israel’s responses.

    Those civilians are not Israel’s targets – the terrorists hiding in their midsts are. Hamas and Hezbollah both do their best to locate themselves so as to assure maximum civilian casualties. All the while, they’re deliberately targeting civilians in their own attacks.

    Innocents are dying on both sides of the conflict, that’s true — but let’s be clear about whose hands are soaked in that innocent blood.

  8. If I shoot at you, and you shoot back at me but miss and kill someone innocent, my dirty hands don’t make yours clean.

  9. “However, one bit of playground wisdom is that you never back down to bullies because doing so only sets you up for more beatings later.”

    So Hezbollah shouldn’t back down?

    I don’t see how Israel benefits in the long or short term from destorying the infrastructure of a country just starting to recover from a civil war Israel had a big hand in. Lets say you are Lebanese and are not a fan of Hezbollah. You live no where near Hezbollah structures, units, resources, etc. but you lose a friend, family member, can’t move around cause the local bridge is gone, etc. — who do you end of hating more — hezbollah or Israel? More than likely Israel.

    Unless you’re Michael Young, cause when the Israeli’s kill a civilian, its obviously Syria’s fault —

    The IDF should respond, but keep it to Hezbollah targets in the south, and not massacring civilians, knocking out EU built bridges, etc. knocking out cell phone towers, etc.

    Also, watching the media coverage — Israel is responsible for US-Euro folks not being able to swiftly get out of the country, not Hezbollah, oddly you never hear the Israelis get blamed for this and they certainly won’t be sent a bill from the US for this…

    Israel is the bully and they are losing…

  10. urely I’m not the only one here who sees a difference between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but sometimes it feels that way.

    …You see a difference between Christian fundamentalists and people who bomb abortion clinics, don’t you?

    Yes, the latter are an unbelievably tiny fringe group thoroughly disavowed by the vast majority of fundamentalists and actively hunted down and punished by the government.

    You can count the number of bombed abortion clinics *ever* on the mangled fingers of one hand. You can count the number of shops, markets, and schools attacked daily by fundamentalist Muslims on the fingers of that same hand. And fundamentalist Muslims aren’t opposed, by and large, to shops and markets, unless of course they’re frequented by kaffirs or by the wrong kind of Muslim. Think Frank Gorshin and the planet Sharon.

    BTW, in the blog, that last little bit makes the rest a bit of a waste, doncha think?

  11. Who are the bullies again? Usually bullies use some sort of physical prowress to take advantage of weaker opponents but the last time I checked, Israel had more firepower than Hamas and Hezbollah put together.

    I wish the US and Israel would stop acting like bullies themselves – thinking everything can be solved militarily. Sure, diplomacy is not going to work all of the time, but I think it is the best way to move forward in the long run.

    But I guess that is just not realistic, so we will continue with the current couse because that works so well.

  12. “Innocents are dying on both sides of the conflict, that’s true — but let’s be clear about whose hands are soaked in that innocent blood.”

    Yeah, Israel has no innocent blood on its hands. None. Especially in Lebanon.

  13. Haven’t heard much from Ron Bailey on foreign affairs since ought-three, when he was proclaiming the dawn of democracy in Iraq, or some such.

  14. ..You see a difference between Christian fundamentalists and people who bomb abortion clinics, don’t you?

    Sure, but while Christian fundamentalists aren’t bombing abortion clinics, they also aren’t issuing fatwas calling for people who they feel insult Christ to be murdered. Islamic Fundamentalists do that.

    And Christian fundamentalists aren’t leveraging fear to impose judicial and political systems where people are executed, tortured and/or jailed for watching the wrong t.v. programs, listening to the wrong music or dancing. Islamic Fundamentalists do that too.

    Not to say Christian fundamentalists wouldn’t become backward Levitican law types given the opportunity. But so far they haven’t.

  15. Jeebus H.

    Hezbollah (a) crosses over into Israeli territory to kidnap two solders and (b) indiscriminately attacks Israeli population centers, yet according to spur and Lamar and Mark and wanka the Israelis are the “bullies” with “innocent blood” on its “dirty hands.”

    Who are the bullies again? Usually bullies use some sort of physical prowress to take advantage of weaker opponents but the last time I checked, Israel had more firepower than Hamas and Hezbollah put together.

    No, the “bully” isn’t the party that happens to be stronger in a given conflict. If someone breaks into my house with a knife to rob me and blow their head off with a shotgun, the fact that I am better armed doesn’t make me a bully. The bully is the aggressor, and I honestly can’t see any case whatsoever for disputing the fact that Hezbollah picked this fight.

  16. Surely I’m not the only one here who sees a difference between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but sometimes it feels that way.

    I think the only difference is that one uses bombs and the other buys the guy who uses bombs the stuff to make the bombs and then prays for his martyrdom afterword.

    Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists might be two different groups but they’re not as different as you think.

  17. “If I shoot at you, and you shoot back at me but miss and kill someone innocent, my dirty hands don’t make yours clean.”

    So, logically, if I shoot at you while hiding behind someone we can reasonably suspect is innocent, you are morally prohibited from retaliating in any way. That sure makes my life easier. I should tell all my buddies.

  18. If I shoot at you, and you shoot back at me but miss and kill someone innocent, my dirty hands don’t make yours clean.

    If you’re hiding in a crowd of civilians, you’ve chosen to put them at risk. Their blood is on your hands.

    Not shooting back is not an option — Israel has tried that, and it’s only given their enemies the opportunity to re-arm and commit greater mayhem.

  19. “Hezbollah picked this fight.”

    Again, Israel is militarily and economically stronger than Hezbollah and should have the strength to see through this and find a better way than the current course.

    So you are right. Hezbollah picked this fight. Just like Saddam picked a fight with us. It may not work to take the bait, but at least you’re right.

  20. If you’re hiding in a crowd of civilians, you’ve chosen to put them at risk. Their blood is on your hands

    Uhmm…no…
    the shooter ultimatly has the responsility.

    Cops make decisions like this all the time. They don’t usually shoot at fleeing suspects when they flee into a crowd — despite the fact that the suspect chose to flee toward the crowd. They also now have rules for calling off high speed chases when there are risks of high casualties. In fact, most police forces in the US now mandate aloowing the bad guy to get away rather than do more damage to innocents trying to capture them.

    Your logic is off. Not killing civillians is always an option — no one forced Israel to use the type of force or to respond as indiscriminately as they have — so let’s not pretend like it’s wrong to judge their actions based on the collateral damage occuring. It’s a very valid criticism.

    Don’t expect to not be judged when you are killing innocents in the name of “security” and tough posteuring. If you decide that it is more important to not let anyone get away — and to hell with any collateral damage — you are gonna lose public sympathy and the moral high ground — rightfully so

  21. Sure, Hezbollah picked a fight, but it’s not exactly as if Israel wasn’t waiting for it…

    Anyone else wish these neanderthals would wipe each other off the face of the earth once and for all?

  22. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists might be two different groups but they’re not as different as you think.

    Ignored in this is that these are fundamentally political conflicts that have adopted religious overtones, not vice versa. It’s like the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. Relgious affiliation is a proxy group identifier for what are more realistically described as political affiliations. Islamic fundamentalism is a religous movement, sure, but it’s popular and powerful because it appeals to the desire for largely disenfranchised peoples in the autocratic middle east for more control in their governments. It’s a kind of populist movement, and like a great deal of populist movements, it’s an ugly mixture of demagogury, jingoism, xenophobia and religion. Islam is from its birth a politically involved religion, and more amenable than say, Christianity or Buddhism to becoming an institution around which political movements can coalesce.

  23. Israel has the ultimate responsibility for every death that has happened in the area since the formation of the country. When you steal people’s land, homes and other property, use physical force to make the current residents leave, and then make it impossible for them to ever return, create an apartheid government and kill innocent civilians anytime you feel it is necessary, the cycle of violence is your fault. The Palestinians and Arabs have been forced to pay for the sins of the Germans and any attempt to resist the occupation is labeled the act of a terrorist. How would you feel if the Jews had decided your state or city was the property of God’s chosen people? Would you meekly comply with the occupiers or fight for what you feel was unjustly taken from you?

  24. Do you really think that a cop is going to let a known serial killer simply escape through a crowd? Knowing that the perp is planning to commit more murders just as soon as he gets clear of the pursuit?

    Let’s not try to apply law-enforcement models to war – it’s a common error, and a grevious one.

    Sure, Israel has a choice: their civilians dead, or civilians who are at least tolerating, if not actively supporting the terrorists in their midst. But Hezbollah and Hamas have made the decision that civilians will die.

  25. Scott, your willful ignorance of both history and common decency are appalling. Go wash your brain out with soap.

  26. If I shoot at you, and you shoot back at me but miss and kill someone innocent, my dirty hands don’t make yours clean.

    If you’re hiding in a crowd of civilians, you’ve chosen to put them at risk. Their blood is on your hands.

    The question of bloody hands appears to be largely one of proximity and immediacy. Consider three scenarios:

    1. If I shoot at you from behind a hostage, you can make a pretty reasonable case for shooting through the hostage to get at me.
    2. If I shoot at you and then run into a crowd it’s harder to justify spraying the crowd with machine gun fire to get at me.
    3. If I shoot at you and hide out in an unkown location in a town it’s pretty clear you can’t justifiably wipe out the town to eliminate me as a threat.

    So I suppose what we should be arguing about is which of those scenarios most aptly describes Hezbolla/Israel/Lebanese Civilians. I plead general ignorance, but I’m pretty sure it’s not 1.

    No, the “bully” isn’t the party that happens to be stronger in a given conflict. If someone breaks into my house with a knife to rob me and blow their head off with a shotgun, the fact that I am better armed doesn’t make me a bully.

    But if you also blow the heads off of their families and random passersby there’s a case to be made that you’re a murderous asshole.

    And to refine your point, it’s not necessarily the agressor who is the bully. It’s the initial agressor. If the guy breaking into your house was doing so because you raped his sister then you really are the bully. Hezbollah would point to earlier Israeli action as motive for the kidnappings/rocket attacks. Again, I plead general ignorance to whether these are legitimate grievances or sorry-ass excuses. (But I will say that launching rockets into civilian centers is not a legitimate response even to a legitimate grievance.)

  27. “Uhmm…no…
    the shooter ultimatly has the responsility.”

    They have The choice of doing nothing and having their citizens killed or attacking targets in Lebanon and risk killing civilians there. I think the Israeli government has a duty to it’s citizens first. So your analogy would be better if both the cops and the robbers were surrounded buy civilians.

  28. Ignored in this is that these are fundamentally political conflicts that have adopted religious overtones, not vice versa.

    APL, Thanks for speaking such sanity.

    Israel has the ultimate responsibility for every death that has happened in the area since the formation of the country.
    -Scott

    Scott, your willful ignorance of both history and common decency are appalling. Go wash your brain out with soap.-Clean Hands

    Clearly there’s more to the story than Scott’s version, but there certainly has been injustice committed by the Israelies, even from the beginning (the Deir Yassin massacre springs to mind). That’s why I plead general ignorance to who truly is the bully. I lived in Israel for two years (albeit about a decade ago) and there is still too much for me to know about the intricacies of the conflict.

  29. Let’s not try to apply law-enforcement models to war – it’s a common error, and a grevious one.

    I’d have to say the usual models of war (e.g. it’s okay to wipe out innocents if it furthers your tactical/strategic aims) are more grievous than an individual-based model like law-enforcement.

  30. Let’s not try to apply law-enforcement models to war – it’s a common error, and a grevious one.

    Also, I’d like to know why law-enforcement models are erroneous when applied to war? You just posited it without support in your previous post.

  31. Again, Israel is militarily and economically stronger than Hezbollah and should have the strength to see through this and find a better way than the current course.

    For instance? (Besides giving up and moving to the other side of the world.)

    If I shoot at you, and you shoot back at me but miss and kill someone innocent, my dirty hands don’t make yours clean.

    And if the civilians say, “Come, Hamas and Hezbollah. Live in our community. We will feed you. We will provide you with supplies. We also want you to wipe Israel from the face of the earth.” Are they “innocent?”

  32. Do you really think that a cop is going to let a known serial killer simply escape through a crowd? Knowing that the perp is planning to commit more murders just as soon as he gets clear of the pursuit

    Yes I do. I don’t think a cop or anyone would indiscrimately kill a crowd of people to get one guy even if he is really bad. In fact, I would guarantee that a cop wouldn’t take the shot except under very specific circumstances where the odds of hitting an innocent are greatly reduced. Most law enforcement agencies actively try to avoid killing innocents while trying to capture the bad guys. Most communities would be rightfully outraged if innocents were killed like that.

    Let’s not try to apply law-enforcement models to war – it’s a common error, and a grevious one.

    No it isn’t. Terror is traditionally a law enforcement rather than a military problem. Only since 9/11 has terror become a “war” / military problem. In most countries terrorisism is fought via law-enforcement not militarily.

    Stop trying to militarize every conflict / struggle. That is a common and grevious error.

    Sure, Israel has a choice: their civilians dead, or civilians who are at least tolerating, if not actively supporting the terrorists in their midst. But Hezbollah and Hamas have made the decision that civilians will die.

    This is just nonsense. Civillians are innocent no matter whether they are Israels or if they are Lebanese. It is not acceptable to say “in the name of protecting our civillians we will kill their civillians” — and stop painting people with these bullshit broad strokes. If by “tolerating” you mean — living in fear and accepting them within their midst in order to not be targetted themselves, then maybe you have a point about “tolerating” terrorists.

    But you show your true racist colors in your comments. You have little value for the life of Muslims and consider them not worthy of consideration when it comes to “security” — you make generalizations to dehumanize them (“they tolerate and actively support terror”) and morally justify the unjustifiable — that these innocents people deserve because they are the wrong religion — since that religion is just full of fanatics and crazies who we all know are terrorists.

    Spare me the “either our people get killed or theirs do” rhetoric cuz its bullshit. Israel could choose to respond at a later time, when there would be a lower casualty rate for civillians. Aren’t they rumored to have one of the best intelligence agencies in the world? They have choices — but they are choosing to go the “show of force” route and would rather look tough than avoid collateral damage. A poor choice in my opinion.

    The blood of civilians is on their hands. If you don;t think that that blood is worth saving, then say that, but don’t pretend like there are no other options and that its all the fault of “the terrorists”. Once you let the terrorists dictate your morality / actions, and you decide to be as dispicible as them, then you have lost and they have won – no matter what the outcome on the battle field.

  33. How would you feel if the Jews had decided your state or city was the property of God’s chosen people

    Probably the same way I’d feel if another group (take your pick from among any of the hardline Islamists) believed that the middle east was god’s gift to the Muslims and that the Jews were the accursed people who had no right to be on their land. They’ve all got blood on their hands, Scott.

    …neanderthals, fighting over a dirty, useless patch of desert.

  34. Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists might be two different groups but they’re not as different as you think.

    When the War on Terror morphs into a war to change the religious beliefs of hundreds of millions of people by force of arms…

    …Y’all are gonna have to help me understand how anybody’s government is supposed to go about doing that. …and help me understand how the hundred of millions of other Muslims out there are gonna feel about your plan to…

    Are you guys yankin’ my chain? Seriously, I say we just put the propaganda stuff aside and focus on putting the terrorists out of commission, mkay?

  35. Ken,
    “Surely I’m not the only one here who sees a difference between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but sometimes it feels that way.”

    So sorry, I’ll provide a translation for you: replace “Islamic fundies” with “those Islamic fundies who resort to violence to further their political and religious goals”.

  36. The number of Israeli civilians killed in this whole thing is less than 20 (12?) — Israel has killed several hundred civilians in the last month, including dozens of children and the purposeful targeting of civilians and families.

    Honestly, if 12 people were murdered in Washington, DC in a week, would anyone even blink besides those directly affected? Unless of course, those 12 murdered were white.

    Israel is making a big deal and murdering a lot of innocent people out of very, very little for its own ends, and honeslty I hope they lose this one.

  37. Surely I’m not the only one here who sees a difference between Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, but sometimes it feels that way

    It would sure help if the Islamic fundamentalists would show a little more concern about the distinction themselves.

  38. “Your logic is off. Not killing civillians is always an option — no one forced Israel to use the type of force or to respond as indiscriminately as they have — so let’s not pretend like it’s wrong to judge their actions based on the collateral damage occuring. It’s a very valid criticism.

    Don’t expect to not be judged when you are killing innocents in the name of “security” and tough posteuring. If you decide that it is more important to not let anyone get away — and to hell with any collateral damage — you are gonna lose public sympathy and the moral high ground — rightfully so”

    Judging people on collateral damage is a valid exercise, but I don’t think we are seeing anything like indiscriminate killing of civilians. I’d also note that there are significant negative externalities to letting every hostage taker go all the time, or even letting most of them go most of the time. Call it posturing if you want, but the broad message that hiding behind civilians gets you everything you want, including an undeterred ability to lob rockets wherever you want.

  39. It would sure help if the Islamic fundamentalists would show a little more concern about the distinction themselves.

    In what way? What kind of concern should they show?

    Should it be their responsibility to make sure that in your racist mind you don’t conflate fundamentalists with terrorists? Or maybe they should abandon their religion because some terrorists also happen believe the same thing.

    Why is other people’s responsibility to make sure that you don’t make generalizations and wrongfully lump people together?

    It sure would help if people like you made an effort to not conflate the two and tried to distinguish between terrorists and people who merely believe crazy shit (like the rapture).

  40. … is not a good one.

  41. “Once you let the terrorists dictate your morality / actions, and you decide to be as dispicible as them, then you have lost and they have won – no matter what the outcome on the battle field.”

    Alternatively, once you decide it is immoral to engage terrorists because their tactics are designed to ensure retaliation causes innocent deaths, the terrorists haven’t won?

  42. I think the issues of a. who is at fault re the current conflict and b. who is at fault overall in the Middle East Israeli issue are indeed important and difficult questions. However, Israel is not even willing to conisder what I think is not such a difficult issue: is their response in ANY way proportionate?
    According to my Washington Post 120 Lebanese CIVILIANS have been killed compared to 12 Israelis. Holy snikeys! I realize the difficulty of following the laws of war against enemies who may (or may not, all most go on are the IDF’s assertions) hide amongst civilians, but this is an incredibly disporportionate response (in fact simplemath can help: it is TEN TIMES the response). The International community has simply asked for restraint, Israel has said “we’ll do whatever we want.” Bad form.

  43. “According to my Washington Post 120 Lebanese CIVILIANS have been killed compared to 12 Israelis. Holy snikeys! I realize the difficulty of following the laws of war against enemies who may (or may not, all most go on are the IDF’s assertions) hide amongst civilians, but this is an incredibly disporportionate response (in fact simplemath can help: it is TEN TIMES the response). The International community has simply asked for restraint, Israel has said “we’ll do whatever we want.” Bad form.”

    I don’t think you fully appreciate the difficulty of that sort of engagement. This is restraint.

  44. Judging people on collateral damage is a valid exercise, but I don’t think we are seeing anything like indiscriminate killing of civilians.

    Well, in the case of what is going on in Lebanon, I think there is quite a bit of indiscriminate killing going on, including civillians, and civillian infrastructure targets. They are disrupting the lives of many innocents.

    I dunno what your personal threshold for civillian death counts needs to reach in order to qualify as “indiscriminate” — maybe my threshold is lower. Personally, I find that the amount of force being used in Lebanon is way to much for what occured.

    If this was all about 2 abducted soldiers, I think a diplomatic solution, working with the Lebanese government would have been better. Instead it seems like a message is trying to be sent.

    The West Bank obviously is a different story since the militant wing of the government is responsible for what is happening there.

    I’d also note that there are significant negative externalities to letting every hostage taker go all the time, or even letting most of them go most of the time. Call it posturing if you want, but the broad message that hiding behind civilians gets you everything you want, including an undeterred ability to lob rockets wherever you want.

    I understand and agree with what you are saying to an extend, but terrorizing civillians in the name of security is still terrorizing civillians.

    No one is suggesting that you never go after terrorists, or that no civillian casualties are ever acceptable. There are other ways and other times to get the bad guys, though. There is no shame in sometimes letting em go for now in order to prevent the death of innocents — and getting them at later time.

  45. “No one is suggesting that you never go after terrorists, or that no civillian casualties are ever acceptable. There are other ways and other times to get the bad guys, though. There is no shame in sometimes letting em go for now in order to prevent the death of innocents — and getting them at later time.”

    My problem is that I can’t imagine any time when the same moral prohibition being employed here would prohibit any other action. Our difference is that you feel there is some less destructive way to do this effectively. I don’t think there is, and I’m curious what tactics you would employ.

    There are soldiers and, I can’t say this clearly enough, there is artillery flying across the border. If military incursion is not justified by rocket artillery, it isn’t justified ever.

  46. I should also note that it is interesting that many people consistently state that IDF forces only kill civilians collaterally while their opponents aim for such. How do we know? Of course IDF spokespersons say that, but do we know? I mean, if you look at that body count spread it makes one think: if IDF is trying NOT to kill civilians and their enemies are tryint TO do so, then these are some really incompetent folks on both side! In fact, Hizbollahs attack was on a MILITARY target (two soldiers abducted) while Israels response has been in civilian centers (airports and ports for example).
    Don’t get me wrong: on Israels side is the fact that Hizbollah started it (in fact they even boast they did) and it is a fact they have launched rockets at civilian targets (Haiffa). Still, they also have attacked clear military targets as well (the IDF warship). I don’t know, which side is doing what, but my point here is neither do most on this thread or the MSM which parrots the IDF good, opponents bad line.

  47. Tom, are you actually going to sit there and say that the actions of the terrorists in deliberately targetting civilians are defensible?

    You’re so blinded by your hatred of Israel that you’ve forgotten that Lebanon is only barely a majority Muslim country (54%); the rest of the civilians there are Christian, Jewish or otherwise settled in their relationship with the Divine.

    Has Israel decided consciously to go after terrorists who hide behind civilians, and damn the costs? Could be. Are they justified in doing so? Their experience in trying to do otherwise says that they really have no choice between annihilation and vigorous self-defense.

    I guess you’d have them choose annihilation — and you call me the racist? Incroyable.

  48. Ken:

    If Israel were interested in killing civilians primarily, things would look a lot different. Also, there is no advantage for Israel to choose this time and place to kill civilians across the border. They know they are taking a hit with each Lebanese civilian they kill.

    You are arguing for the implausible scenario that the IDF is not very good at killing civilians and yet they are still so committed to doing so that they will pay the price for this incursion.

  49. Let’s also be honest as to who the combatants here are. Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran (often via Syria). The advanced weapons that Hezbollah has been surprising Israel with in this latest eruption of violence come from Syria, and may well be traced back to Iran. Iran has been loudly proclaiming that the state of Israel must cease to exist. (Kinda like that whackjob Scott upthread a bit…)

    Last I checked, Israel has no problem with the state of Iran continuing to exist. Does that make the differences between the sides any clearer?

  50. No one is suggesting that you never go after terrorists, or that no civillian casualties are ever acceptable. There are other ways and other times to get the bad guys, though. There is no shame in sometimes letting em go for now in order to prevent the death of innocents — and getting them at later time.

    One of the few good arguments I have for our continued support of Israel has to do with just that. There’s something to be said for the United States not having to undertake such nasty work itself. (Anyone else notice that we seem to argue about Israeli policy as if it were our own?) …my big question is, does Hezbollah present a significant threat to the people of the United States? If the world isn’t big enough for both of us, then I understand arguments that we should support Israel in this.

    …but I’m not sure Hezbollah is a threat to the American people. Yes, elements of what coalesced into Hezbollah murdered hundreds of Americans in 1983, but since then, haven’t they more or less left America alone? That’s not a rhetorical question–I’ve done a little research, and I haven’t seen much to suggest that Hezbollah has targeted the United States since then. Does anybody out there have any more information?

  51. I’m pretty sure that India doesn’t have a large portion of the world calling for its immediate destruction. So no, the two situations aren’t even close to being equivalent.

  52. I think the problem Israel has is that it has tried both and neither one of them works very well.

    And so you’re left mix and matching when to use carrots and when to use sticks and often the shift seems somewhat arbitrary.

  53. Clean Hands,

    Why the personal insults? If you disagree with me so be it, but calling me a whackjob is the mark of a real asshole and an internet coward. So go fuck yourself.

    I think if you reread my post, you will notice that I said nothing about Israel ceasing to exist. My post was merely meant to point out that depending on your point of view, the IDF is a state sponsored terrorist no different than Hezbollah or Hamas. Killing innocent civilians and scaring people are the tactics of terrorism and it is a game that Israel and the Arabs are both very good at playing.

  54. I’m not sure that Israel is, or is not, trying to kill civilians (and neither is anyone else other than the actors). Another option is, aside from getting too much bad press, they could care less or little for civilians. Whatever their motivation they are doing far too much of it to revenge a half a dozen soldiers.

    And perhaps, India does not have a large portion of the world calling for it to be wiped from the map (though, how do you know? What do the extremists that bedvil India want, just Kashmir?). But maybe that is because India did’nt plop its nation down in the heart of other nations in 1948.

  55. the cycle of violence is your [Israel’s] fault.

    It takes two to continue a cycle. If the PLO had taken a Ghandian approach the cycle would have been broken long ago.

    (And to be balanced):

    Alternatively, once you decide it is immoral to engage terrorists because their tactics are designed to ensure retaliation causes innocent deaths, the terrorists haven’t won?

  56. Oops… Forgot to close the italics above after “the terrorists haven’t won?”

  57. It takes two to continue a cycle. If the PLO had taken a Ghandian approach the cycle would have been broken long ago.

    You’re correct. Because they’d be dead or living in apartheid conditions.

  58. I didn’t realize that kidnapping soldiers is considered a “measured” diplomatic approach. How has it worked out for Hezzbollah so far?

  59. Their experience in trying to do otherwise says that they really have no choice between annihilation and vigorous self-defense.

    Haw, haw, haw! I always get a laugh when people talk about terrorists being capable of annihilating a country. Priceless!

    Israel is the wealthiest, most technologically sophisticated nation in the region capable of nuking your ass if you want to start some, and a bunch of bass-ackwards crackpots who can kill a couple dozen civilians when they are trying harder to do so than they have in a decade are going to annihilate Israel? Please.

    Japan had two atomic bombs dropped on them in WWII, not to mention having Tokyo and any number of major cities fire-bombed to hell, and they not only survived but spent the next fifty years developing a cutting edge, ass-kicking economy with all the frills. I doubt an arsenal of rockets with a maximum range of 30 miles and no targetting system will be enough to wipe Israel from the face of the map. Kill some innnocents and disrupt the local economy? Sure. Annihilate? In Hezbollah’s wet dreams.

  60. Clarification: When I say that “they not only survived” I actually mean a Japanese society continued to exist. Clearly, hundreds of thousands of them did not survive.

    As you were.

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