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Over at Slate, Michael Young files a briefing from embattled Beirut.

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  1. Thank you for an interesting, informative article. Best wishes for your and your Family’s, friends’, and loved ones’ continued well being.

  2. That’s why the Israeli strategy at first hand appears to be much simpler: to impose an abysmally high blood tax on the Lebanese in general, and Shiites in particular, so Hezbollah will not again think of kidnapping its soldiers or bombarding its territory.

    Is there any reason to think Hezbollah even cares how high a “blood tax” is imposed on the Lebanese? Hell, there’s folks around here who claim Hezbollah wants high casualties among the Lebanese! While I remain skeptical of that, I find it very easy to believe they could care less.

  3. Fyodor,

    Theoretically, if the Lebanese suffer, and they blame Hezbollah, Lebanon becomes less hospitable to Hezbollah. If rockets in Lebanon = Israelis bomb Lebanon to rubble, maybe the Lebanese government starts making an effort to stop rockets from coming into the country from Iran and/or Syria, and an effort to find those already in the country.

    This is all theory, of course; I expect it could fail in practice, or even backfire.

  4. mitch,

    Thanks, though that doesn’t seem to be what Michael Young is getting at when he says that Hezbollah itself will think differently about harming Israel in the future. Maybe he was just leaving out the middle step of it being because of increased pressure from the Lebanese, but I don’t get that from it, myself.

    Anyway, I agree that that theory is out there as well, and it barely seems any more plausible than scaring Hezbollah through concern with Lebanese blood.

  5. Is there any reason to think Hezbollah even cares how high a “blood tax” is imposed on the Lebanese?

    what’s less questionable, mr fyodor, is that israel no longer cares whether it’s targeting militants or civilians. it’s just killing, and that’s enough, it seems.

    so much for principles.

  6. mitch,

    Yes, that is the justification that is offered, and it seems reasonable on its face. However, one could ask why Israel isn’t bombing Syria, who have much more of an ability to control Hez?

    It just seems to me that out of all the nations responsible for what Hez is doing, Israel is picking on the weakest — a good strategy if you’re just trying to do something, but it’s going to have little effect on Hez.

  7. mr marius,

    Welcome back! Have you returned to gloat now that it’s become clear that Western civilization actually is falling? 😉

  8. gaius,

    I’m not Israel’s biggest supporter, but if the IDF were trying to maximize civilian deaths, I’m sure it could do an even better job of it, much better in fact.

  9. This is all theory, of course; I expect it could fail in practice, or even backfire.

    I see this as a real possibility. If I were a Lebanese citizen who dispised the Hizzbula and I heard that they had kidnapped two Israeli soldiers I would expect that Isreal would do everything in its power to attack Hizzbula henchmen and retrieve the captives. However, when Isreal starts randomly bombing cities and destroying public infrastructure my concern would focus more on my own skin and less on the two captives. Suddenly, Isreal becomes the “greater” enemy in my mind and Hizzbula the “lesser” one. When faced with that decision, we know how one chooses.

  10. It seems plausible that Hezbollah launched rockets at Israel in the hope that Israel would overreact, and bomb Lebanese civilians.

    Hezbollah would hope that this causes other Lebanese to hate Israel and support Hezbollah’s war against Israel. If this is Hezbollah’s strategy, then Israel’s actions are helping the anti-Israel hardliners in the Arab world.

  11. fyodor is right.

    If the IDF is after something with regard to regular Lebanese folk, it is more like keeping the lights out and making it uncomfortable. Indiscriminate killing of civilians doesn’t look like this. It looks like cluster munitions, fuel air explosives and artillery scatterable mine fields – all on civilian centers.

  12. I tend towards the pro-Israel side, and I don’t think that Israel is targeting civilians, but you don’t have to be targeting them to be disregarding them in trying to attain your larger goal. I really don’t know enough about the situation to say one way or another that this is what they are doing, but I just find the high civilian and low Hezbollah casualties a bit disconcerting.

  13. The “random bombing” and “blood tax” talk is dumb. None of Israel’s targets have had anything to do with changing minds or applying pressure or any other such abstractions. Israel is bombing rocket launchers, things that look to drones like rocket launchers, roads, radar, gas stations, things that to drones look like gas stations, and the communications infrastructure. Except for the launchers, this is all in preparation of a land invasion. Once Hez is pushed back to where they can’t hit Israel, Israel will push for the UN to fill in where it pulls out.

    It’s a shame so many people have to suffer. But it’s not obvious there is any way to end the conflict with less suffering. Remember, two weeks ago, there was a cease fire, but Hez didn’t like it.

  14. fyodor: I’m not Israel’s biggest supporter, but if the IDF were trying to maximize civilian deaths, I’m sure it could do an even better job of it, much better in fact.

    Israel is already facing a massive backlash from people that are normally uncritical of it. How many more civilians could they kill without facing international action against them? More than just the verbal condemnation they’ve had so far.

    It will be interesting to see how this action changes Israel’s standing in the world, particularly in the US, in the long term. This kind of action (bombing civilian areas, attacking local law enforcement etc.) has been fairly typical in the occupied territories for decades, but in those areas the IDF controls the flow of news. I think they’ve made a huge mistake taking the military tactics of the OT into an open country with a large international precence.

  15. My parents have these old encyclopedias. If you look up Beirut it says it is a resort town. It has b’ful photos. What a shame.

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