To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever

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Thomas Friedman is sure there's a pony in all this shit:

On the morning after the morning after, Lebanese war refugees, who had real jobs and homes, will start streaming back by the hundreds of thousands, many of them Shiites. Tragically, they will find their homes or businesses badly damaged or obliterated. Yes, they will curse Israel. But they and other Arabs will also start asking Nasrallah publicly what many are already asking privately:

"What was this war all about? What did we get from this and at what price? Israel has some roofs to repair and some dead to bury. But its economy and state are fully intact, and it will recover quickly. We Lebanese have been set back by a decade. Our economy and our democracy lie in ruins, like our homes. For what? For a one-week boost in 'Arab honor?' So that Iran could distract the world's attention from its nuclear program? You did all this to us for another country?"

Somewhere in his diary, around the outbreak of World War II, George Orwell noted that liberals can never understand popular politics because they assume that once everybody has sufficient food, housing, luxury items, and birth control, they'll have nothing to get upset about. I can't think of a better demonstration of that mentality than this Friedman quote. This is a writer who built a career on having spent some time in Lebanon during the 1975-1990 war. Does he actually believe anybody in the south of Lebanon is going to blame the latest mess on the group that Friedman's own paper notes is leading whatever rebuilding effort is going to happen? Assume for the sake of argument that getting mad at Hezbollah for an Israeli rocket attack is the most reasonable response (and at some cosmic level, it may be). It still means that locals would have to put aside their ire at the foreigners who speak a different language, practice a different religion, live in a different culture, and delivered the actual bombs that destroyed their actual homes, in order to get angry at their own neighbors for enraging the foreigners. No matter how guilty your neighbor was, would you have that reaction? Would anybody?

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  1. Yeah, if some crack dealers moved in next door and got in a shoot-out with the cops which resulted in my house getting all shot to hell, I’m pretty sure I’d blame the crack dealers, not the cops.

    If it turned out my neighbor was a terrorist wanted by the French, and some French spies blew up his house, which damaged my house, I’m pretty sure I’m blame the terrorist.

  2. And if it turns out that Osama bin Laden was reacting to the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia, we’d all blame the US government for 9/11.

  3. Isn’t it touching that residents of southern Lebanon have in common with us Reasonoids an abiding faith in creative destruction?

  4. The moment a Lebanese person utters something even remotely similar to what Friedman is talking about, Abdul Al-Sullivani, Bi’ill Al-Reilly, and everyone else in the country will accuse them of “blaming Lebanon first” and “sympathizing with Israel.”

  5. Is anyone “already asking privately” the long list of questions that Friedman says “many” are asking? Friedman used to be interesting when he wrote about the Middle East rather than “globalization.” But lately he’s just been babbling. Down one week and up the next. I think the Middle East has stopped making sense for him.

  6. Alligator:

    I’m not sure which side you are taking. However, assuming you really would blame the ‘crack dealer’ or the ‘terrorist’ and assuming further that the cops or the French Spies had no other recourse, what would you say if the ‘crack dealer’ or ‘terrorist’ were your cousin that you sort of disliked, but didn’t really want to see harmed?

    My apologies in advance if I have misconstrued your post.

  7. “What was this war all about? What did we get from this and at what price? Israel has some roofs to repair and some dead to bury. But its economy and state are fully intact, and it will recover quickly. We Lebanese have been set back by a decade. Our economy and our democracy lie in ruins, like our homes. For what? For a one-week boost in ‘Arab honor?’ So that Iran could distract the world’s attention from its nuclear program? You did all this to us for another country?”

    What utter dishonesty! If I knew absolutely nothing about the Israel-Lebanon conflict before I read this paragraph, I would assume that it was the Lebanese who started the war. This reads like something a Confederate might say in 1865, looking across his burned plantation and the graves of his sons fallen in battle and saying “Why the hell did we start this?”

  8. Ruthless, you mean you’re not familiar with the works of the great Lebanese economist Youssef al-Schumpeter?

  9. Hey! Friedman didn’t get to where he’s at today by being ‘right,’ or being necessarily within the same universe as where ‘remotely correct’ chooses to reside!

  10. Yep, to assume that people will always make decisions which maximize their well-being is a mistake. Unfortunately, when people make bad decisions about geo-politics, the results can be rather more severe than the decision to buy Time- Warner at $90 per share. If the Shia of southern Lebanon continue to widely support a political party/militia which is dedicated to destroying Israel, then it is extremely likely that the Shia of Southern Lebabnon will live in rubble for the forseeable future, and if that political party/militia which is dedicated to destroying Israel becomes many times more effective in accomplishing their goal, via technical aid from Iran, then it is quite likely that the Shia of southern Lebanon will die in droves.

    Once enough people are slaughtered on either side, then attitudes will change, just as the attitudes in Western Europe regarding war were far different in 1918 than they had been in 1914. Of course, those new attitudes played a large role in allowing the bloodshed of the thirties and forties.

    In short, there is no cure for the condition of what the latter Twain called “the Goddamned Human Race”, not that Friedman would understand this.

  11. In a recent thread, I commented that belligeratant parties always assume that they can destory their enemy’s morale through bombing, even as they themselves respond to such bombing by fighting back harder. The Brits were quite proud of their fighting response to the Blitz, for example, and yet they assumed that their city-busting air campaign would cause German morale to collapse.

    And here we have yet another example. Friedman saw this country’s response to the 9/11 attacks, and how they completely shut to the door to any self-criticism regarding America’s actions in the Middle East; and yet he expects that the Lebanese will have exactly the opposite response, and respond to the bombing of their hometowns will anguished bouts of self-criticism.

    Isn’t part of the definition of a sociopath the inability to recognize that other people have feelings like your own?

  12. Alligator, here’s a coherent analogy:

    The Republican dominated, gun wielding militia groups in the northern states of America get a little nuts on meth and kill a few Quebecois. Canada responds by bombing 50% of America, targeting, however truthfully, the Republican party of the U.S.
    However much the Dems hate Bush and his party, they’re defintely going to kick some Canadian ass.

  13. Arab pride is a huge factor. Like it or not, the Hezzies did better than expected against the IDF, and the entire Arab world is proud of them.

    Alligator has it skewered. If a swat team went after a criminal next door, and in the process, bombed my house and killed all my children, the criminal is only guilty of his own crime. The Swat Team murdered the children.

    American Jews need to be less shy about condemning Israeli aggression as they were in 1948. Below is an excerpt of a letter which appeared in the NY TIMES in 1948, signed by prominent American Jews,including Albert Einstein:

    ?A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants ? 240 men, women, and children ? and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

    The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.
    The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a ?Leader State? is the goal.”

    In 1948, American Jews could refer to Israeli tactics as terrorism and genocide, but now, they are too bullied by the Israeli Lobby. Nowdays, Israel can wipe out an entire village, just because a terrorist might be there, and no one questions it. Somehow the Lebanese Govt. is supposed to be responsible for keeping the terrorist out, although how any government is supposed to keep that close tabs on all of the people in the country is never explained.

  14. Alligator,

    I wasn’t sure if you were tongue-in-cheek until you mentioned the French. That really was an exceptional illustration of the wrongness of Friedman’s point. Thanks to APL for nailing it straight as well.

    Somehow, I also don’t think that Nasrallah’s soldiers are going to lament any damage to Lebanon’s democracy, either. They are more likely to consider that an unanticipated benefit. Not that Shia are necessarily against democracy, but they are certainly against Lebanon’s nominally secular democracy.

  15. Friedman should spend some time reading posts here at H&R. That would cure him of his naive faith in human rationality.

  16. I’m sure his opinion is well-justified by what he heard from a Bangalore cab driver who, while driving, uses a Blackberry to buy and sell things on eBay.

  17. If Israel’s only hope for survival rests in its ability to turn Lebanon and Palestine in Warsaw Ghetto recreations…what harm is there in believing in this plan?

    Plenty of time for realism once Hamas and Hezbollah hoist their flags over Tel Aviv.

  18. When the Philly police bombed the MOVE people, and caused a fire that burned down a whole city block, I’m pretty sure MOVE’s neighbors didn’t become Philly PD boosters.

  19. I was typing, “How many called for surrender in London during the Blitz?”, and then I read what joe wrote.

    …so what joe said, but there’s a flip side to bombing increasing rather than decreasing a people’s will to fight. There wasn’t much opposition to the bombing and invasion of Lebanon among Israelis, as I recall. …and I think that’s a result of the same phenomenon.

    There may have been some pent up demand for a strong response too. …going back to recent suicide bomber barrages at least.

  20. “It still means that locals would have to put aside their ire at the foreigners who speak a different language, practice a different religion, live in a different culture, and delivered the actual bombs that destroyed their actual homes, in order to get angry at their own neighbors for enraging the foreigners. No matter how guilty your neighbor was, would you have that reaction? Would anybody?”

    Why is this so hard to believe? This seems to be the knee-jerk reaction of plenty of people in our country, not to mention Britain, France, Spain, etc., (and not to mention plenty of Reason columnists and commentators).

  21. Ken,

    Perhaps military operations should be designed to achieve military objectives, rather than emotional ones.

    Israel could have launched a proportionate, appropriately-targeted response to the capture of its soldiers by a terrorist militia. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as emotionally satisfying as really kicking some ass. And look where it got them.

  22. There wasn’t much opposition to the bombing and invasion of Lebanon among Israelis, as I recall. …and I think that’s a result of the same phenomenon.

    In fact, there was broad and deep support for the invasion among Israelis, which is more proof of Olmert’s incompetence. With an unprecedented buy-in from all sides, he balked at a few casualties and missed whatever (slim) chance he had to do actual damage to Hezbollah.

  23. Matt-

    No, a more accurate analogy would be if militia groups along the Canadian border actually ruled that territory going on two decades over the objections of a United States govt. that couldn’t muster the will or the firepower to do anything about it. Federal govt. representatives are afraid to go into the area along the Canadian border without a truckload of bribes, and the militias are using the area as a base from which to infiltrate and eventually take over the seats of power in DC. Meanwhile, the militias have spent years launching attacks we object to, eventually bringing on the overwhelming rath of a neighboring nation who otherwise would have left us alone.

    I’m not saying the Lebanese will respond positively, just that the above is a much more accurate analogy. I’ve seen a lot of postings making a similar comparison to yours, as if Hizbollah was created 2 months ago, were just a couple of guys operating out of a garage, and the Lebanese govt. didn’t know they were up to anything until they engaged in a single isolated incident against Israel. The “militia guys get high and shoot at quebec” analogy is bullshit, because if the US govt. knew that was going on, they would immediately drop the hammer on such groups. You want to tell me who was going to do anything to stop Hizbollah if not Israel?

  24. “Israel could have launched a proportionate, appropriately-targeted response to the capture of its soldiers by a terrorist militia. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as emotionally satisfying as really kicking some ass. And look where it got them.”

    Joe, you might have be more convincing if you would ever just once voice some objection to Hezbollah launching 1000s of un aimed rockets on Israeli civilians killing 100s and terrorizing 1000s. What exactly is Hezbollah’s proportionate response? Their response seems to be kill as many civilians as possible. Is Hezbollah simply above criticism in your eyes?

  25. I believe i misspelleted wrath.

  26. And what about the part where Canada had occupied the border states throughout most of that 20-year period, after invading the United States, occupying Washington, D.C., and managing an election where the winning candidate promised to make peace with Canada but was assassinated shortly thereafter? And also the part where the northern militia was the only party fighting the Canadians in their security zone while the U.S. military hunkered down in its bases?

    In other words, can we lose these crackerbarrel analogies? There’s enough information to deal with in the actual situation.

  27. It’s certainly not right to expect the Lebanese to blame Hezbollah for Israeli bombing. That’s like saying Israel is not responsible for its own actions, which certainly can’t hold up in this day of “personal responsibility.”

    Such views lead to the perverse belief, apparently held by the Bush administration, that Israel’s strategy of collective punishment in Lebanon was actually going to help with the “birthing pains.”

    Dave seems to believe the former, while if you had asked just about any liberal politician, they’d have said Israel should have started out with the kind of commando raid and infantry tactics it ended up with. Strategic bombing against people who are mostly not your enemies is a poor way to win hearts and minds. Israel should never have made an Air Force general its defense minister. Air Forces just don’t do hearts and minds.

  28. I’m not objecting to analogies, by the way. It’s just incredibly tortured in this case.

  29. Would the Canadian invasion have been after those holding power in America decided that all Canadians should die just for being Canadians?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  30. “In other words, can we lose these crackerbarrel analogies? There’s enough information to deal with in the actual situation.”

    Can we still make Cheers analogies to members of the Bush administration?

  31. Dave, you’re trying to make stratego-political-historic analogies while everyone else is making emotional analogies, while the very point being made is that the s-p-h context has very little influence on the emotional reaction.

  32. Nah.

    We Canadians would just wait for a winter cold front to freeze your asse(t)s.

  33. joe writes: “Israel could have launched a proportionate, appropriately-targeted response to the capture of its soldiers by a terrorist militia.”

    What’s ironic is that the capture of enemy soldiers isn’t even terrorist behavior. If anything, it’s traditional conventional warfare. If we do it we call it a “daring raid”.

  34. There may be something to the notion that Air Force generals are less likely to effectively grasp the inherent political nature of war. This may be related to Rumsfeld’s faults, he being a former fighter pilot, and suggests that an Air Force general may not have been the best choice to become the next Joint Chiefs Chairman in the wake of 9/11.

  35. Tim,

    I don’t buy cracker-barrel analogies either. I do, however think that we should not hold Israelis to standards of behavior that we don’t hold ourselves. What exactly did NATO do during the Kosovo campaign but punish the Serbian people until they were so miserable they rebelled against Milosevic? No one seems to have a problem with that. Are Serb lives less important than Lebanese lives? Even if you believe the Kosovo campaign was justified, so was the Israeli campaign. When speaking of Israel, people talk in language not used for any other country in the world.

  36. Mac-

    Mac-
    I thought I made it pretty clear in my first post that I don’t believe recent events in Lebanon are going to help with the “birthing pains”. But that isn’t the point. The point is that Hizbollah was constantly launching attacks against Israel just because they are alive and Jewish. You can sit back and wait for them to build up even larger rocket stockpiles (and let their masters in Tehran build nukes), or you can go after them. Israel chose to go after them, and so would any other nation in their position.
    It is a huge problem that the birthing of democracy in Lebanon must now try to continue under these conditions, so I guess the answer is for the world to do nothing and tell Israel to take take whatever Hizbollah chooses to do without reaction. Oh, and you know how Hizbollah’s sponsor is creating a nuke and has said multiple times that they’re going to use it on you? You’d better not do anything about that either, or we shall strongly tsk tsk your refusal to be killed for having the wrong last name.

  37. Does no one here understand the difference between strategic and tactical bombing? The Israel actions in lebanon were primarily of the second kind. They weren’t trying to demoralize the lebanese and turn them against Hizballah (though that might have been a nice bonus), they were trying to kill the members of hizballah and make life as miserable as possible for those who survived. Destroy their weapons, make them hide in uncomfortable conditions, disrupt their supplies….

  38. John H-

    If you’re going to play the “enemy soldiers capturing enemy soldiers isn’t terrorism” argument, then attacking enemy bases which those “soldiers” located in apartment buildings is not “civilian casualties”. If they want to be called soldiers when they launch their attacks, the places where they sleep at night are called barracks, and are military targets. As are the neighborhoods from which they launch their rockets.

  39. Dave writes: “The point is that Hizbollah was constantly launching attacks against Israel just because they are alive and Jewish”

    Not so much ‘constantly’, they’d been pretty darn quiet in recent years.

  40. John,

    Not above criticism, below it.

    I don’t think the depravity of Hezbollah really needs a lot of discussion. Not to mention, I don’t feel any responsibility for what Hezbollah get up to, because we don’t provide them with any military, economic, or political support.

  41. Dave, the issue here isn’t the righteousness of the Israeli position, but rather its persuasiveness, and as I’m sure most of us here are well aware, the two qualities are only occasionally aligned.

  42. “You can sit back and wait for them to build up even larger rocket stockpiles (and let their masters in Tehran build nukes), or you can go after them. Israel chose to go after them, and so would any other nation in their position.”

    Because, of course, the only possibly options in this binary world of ours are 1) do nothing or 2) do exactly what the Israeli government decided to do. Hint: if you don’t choose Option 2, you’re Neville Chamberlain.

    Sort of like the only possible policies towards Iraq were 1) completely dissolve the sanctions and allow the complete reconstitution of Saddam’s war machine, or 2) do exactly what the Bush administration chose to do. Hint: if you don’t choose Option 2, you’re Neville Chamberlain.

    Well, thankfully, the Israeli public is a lot smarter than their self-appointed cheerleaders here in the states, and is coming down hard on their government for its suicidal, amoral stupidity.

    BTW, John, my very first comment in the very first thread about this war stated that I was glad Israel was going after Hezbollah, I hoped that they were reduced to six guys in a tent, but Olmert must be an idiot for launching an indescriminate, nation-wide bombing campaign, because it will only make Israel’s position weaker.

  43. W.E. White,

    No they don’t. Israelis are supposed to act “proportionately” in response to acts of aggression. If their enemies hide within civilian populations and use civilians as shields, Israelis are supposed to die. It is their duty to die rather than fight back and endanger civilians. Any civilian death from an Israeli bomb is entirely Israel’s fault. Hezbollah never bear any responsibility for civilian deaths. Hezbollah attacks and kills an Israeli civilian that is Israel’s fault for attacking Hezbollah and forcing them to respond through the only means available. If Hezbollah hides among civilians and those civilians are killed by an Israeli bomb, that death is Israel’s fault for not responding proportionately to Hezbollah’s attacks. That is pretty much the party line among most Reason posters.

  44. Mr. White,

    “They weren’t trying to demoralize the lebanese and turn them against Hizballah (though that might have been a nice bonus), they were trying to kill the members of hizballah and make life as miserable as possible for those who survived.”

    Then why were they bombing power plants? It is the military damage that is “collateral” when you strike such a clearly civilian target.

    And why did the Israeli govenrment and its stateside spin doctors put so much effort into making the case (quite close to bin Laden’s justification for killing American civilians, actually) that the civilian population got what it deserved for not rising up against Hezbollah? You can still see the shadow of this argument in several of the comments in this thread.

  45. Why don’t the Lebanese ask Hez to wear uniforms and establish bases outside of civilian areas?

  46. sorry about the multiple postings…. something went wrong. I think it’s Reason’s fault.

  47. Joe,

    If you have such a problem with Israel bombing Lebenon, why not with NATO bombing Serbia? As I said above, all NATO did was make the Serbian people so miserable that they finally rebelled against Milosovic. Why is Isreal fighting for its very existance held to such a high standard when NATO, fighting to keep Europe from getting a flow of Albanain refugees is not?

  48. Even if you believe the Kosovo campaign was justified, so was the Israeli campaign. When speaking of Israel, people talk in language not used for any other country in the world.

    Those who back NATO operations against Serbia believed that Serbia was poised to commit great atrocities in the form of killing or displacing hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes called genocide. Setting aside the questions of the propriety and the actual effect of the NATO campaign, no one believes that Hezbollah was capable of doing anything remotely close to that scale. So your analogy falls apart right there.

  49. When speaking of Israel, people talk in language not used for any other country in the world.

    I’m not sure why I’m being importuned on this point, but I will note that what you say here is every bit as true of Israel’s apologists (my favorite example being the weird pronoun “she” that is uniquely applied to Israel among all nation states) as it is for Israel’s critics.

  50. joe, to say that the oil consuming citizens of the United States do not economically aid Hezbollah is inaccurate, even if little of the oil consumed in the U.S. comes from the Persian Gulf. Now, this isn’t an argument for ending oil consumption, or a lament of how awful it is that global oil demand drives foreign policy decisions. However, it is important to recognize that the economic behavior of the citizens of the United States most certainly does aid Hezbollah.

    Dave is correct in recognizing that the popular support that Hezbollah has in Southern Lebanon made the events of the past few weeks fairly unremarkable, if decidedly bloody. When miltia A has widespread popular support in region B, which borders on region C, and A has declared the destruction of C to be a priority, and C is much more militarily powerful, it is farily certain that B is eventually going to get stomped on good and hard.

    To engage in more crackerbarreldom, Castro, for all his faults, was never so loony as to openly declare war on the U.S., and after he walked up to the abyss at the urging of Khruschev, achieved a greater appreciation of these matters.

  51. “Then why were they bombing power plants? It is the military damage that is “collateral” when you strike such a clearly civilian target.”

    Joe the U.S. bombed the living crap out of power plants in both the first gulf war and Kosovo. Not so much in this gulf war, but certainly in those two. I assume you are objecting to Bill Clinton’s acts of agression in bombing Serbian power plants?

  52. John – under the thick, peanut-buttery coating of sarcasm and venom there, you do have some points. I cannot speak for other posters, but I do in fact believe that the acceptance of pain and suffering, coupled with the refusal to inflict it in return, is a noble ideal to which all men should be encouraged to aspire, and I find it one of the greatest disappointments of the modern age that I rarely ever see this option seriously considered, even if only to be “refuted”.

    Morally, I believe George W. Bush’s favorite philosopher had quite a bit to say on this subject, and while for obvious reasons I don’t expect his words to be as influential in Israel as the rest of the western world, many other great men have come to the same conclusion from different angles. Instrumentally, it’s worth noting that in recent historical memory, these tactics were vital to the successful effort to pry the biggest, brightest jewel from the British imperial crown.

  53. For starters, never gainsay the The Mustache of Understanding.

    John: you have a decent point about consistency. If we really cared about human suffering on an aggregate level (and it’s not the worst thing that we don’t), we’d do something about , i.e., Darfur. I’m not sure we’d succeed in helping the situation there, but the very fact that it isn’t on the mainstream menu leads me to believe that some lives are more important than others. Fyodor is right that the Serbians were perceived as preparing for a genocide that Hezbollah could never accomplish, but that shouldn’t give Hezbollah carte blanche to kidnap people and lob missiles without consequences.

  54. Fyodor,

    You miss the point. There is not a sliding scale for means and methods of warfare. The fact that NATO was fighting to prevent genocide, (which we know in hindsight was not occurring, but for the sake of argument say they were) does not justify waging war in an unlawful manner. Either the Israeli strikes on Lebanon were legal or they were not. Clearly, if Israel’s bombing of Lebanon was not legal, NATO’s much more extensive and deadly bombing of Serbia wasn’t either. The point is that no one outside of a very few people ever questioned the legality of the NATO bombing. Yet, everyone wants to question Israel’s actions. Why? Because Israel is held to standards no other country in the world is held to.

  55. Or because NATO won and Israel lost?

  56. joe, in your analogy to the Iraq invasion, you err in positing that there was an option which did not involve removing Hussein, or allowing Hussein to remain in power absent sanctions. Prior to invasion, two actors critical to maintaining the sanctions regime, France and Russia, believed it to be in their interest to no longer enforce sanctions. Thus continued sanctions, well into the future, were no longer a possibility, except in the sense of the slimmest of longshots. This is particularly true once one acknowledges that Hussein was only cooperative in regards to effective verification when there were a couple American armored divisions parked on his borders, which was not a sustainable state of affairs.

    Now, the silliness of tossing about accusations of Chamberlainism if one opposed removing Hussein goes without saying. However, it is every bit as silly to posit that that the sanctions regime was indefinitely sustainable.

  57. Tim, is it really all that dumb for Tom Friedman to wonder whether Lebanese might be a bit, you know, annoyed at Hezbollah? Have you bought the Robert Fisk angle that they regard Hiz as local heroes? Please. These bastards launch rockets from behind civilian enclaves, with the inevitable consequence that when Israel retaliates, innocents get hurt. One might think that a lot of the locals might wonder what benefit they get from having a terror-organisation like Hiz in their back yard.

  58. Tim/Joe…so with the hindsight we now have, what should Israel have done? Seriously, pretend you’re Ohlmert…what would your military strategy be after the soldiers are taken?

  59. Scenescent, it is also worth remebering that any adherents to the tactics of the skinny Indian, if they existed a few thousand miles to the north, at about the same time, were quickly dragged into cellers and shot through the back of the skull. In other words, the value of any particular tactic can only be assessed through a particular strategic prism.

  60. Tim/Joe…so with the hindsight we now have, what should Israel have done? Seriously, pretend you’re Ohlmert…what would your military strategy be after the soldiers are taken?

    Doesn’t Israel have Special Forces? Intelligence agencies? A damn good spy service?

  61. Tim, you are correct in noting that achieving clear-cut victory has a very salutary effect on the odds of one’s tactics being viewed as legal. Funny how that happens so often.

  62. Tim Cavanaugh:

    Consider the word “apologists,” which you used to describe Israel’s supporters, and perhaps you will understand why you are being “importuned” on this point.

  63. John,

    You’re both moving the goal posts and cherry-picking your facts. For the situations to be meaningfully similar, NATO would have had to have acted on the kidnapping of two soldiers and firing of one rocket and with the knowledge that Serbia was incapable of doing much more than that. Also, while I haven’t read everything written about Israel’s Hezbollah campaign, but I’ve mostly heard people (like joe) complaining that Israel went too far or wasn’t wise rather than saying they had no legal right to address the kidnappings in any military manner. Another also, more than a few people complained about NATO’s Serbia campaign, Noam Chomsky included.

  64. John, I think the only party line among Reason posters is that you’re a barely literate moron.

  65. “Olmert must be an idiot for launching an indescriminate, nation-wide bombing campaign”

    yes, those israelis just wildly started dropping bombs anywhere at random. hey’ there’s an orphanage, let’s flatten it! a hospital, it’s go time! are those nuns in that car? cool, let’s waste them!

    you’d like israelis better if arabs could aim their missles more accurately to make some great photo ops.

  66. Jennifer, as much as some wish it were otherwise, special forces operations and spys don’t work as well in real life as they do in the movies. Undertaking an action against Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon in 2006 isn’t much like doing so against the Black September in Uganda in 1976.

    This isn’t to say that Ohlmert’s tactics has been effective, but only that a more effective military response, it actualy doing lasting damage to Hezbollah’s ability to attack Israel was desired, likely would have entailed every bit as much bombing, but accompanied with a larger and more decisive invasion with armor and infantry. If one very much wants to destroy, or greatly damage something, then one best devote the needed resources to the task, or decide that the something is not to be destroyed or greatly damaged.

  67. Consider the word “apologists,” which you used to describe Israel’s supporters, and perhaps you will understand why you are being “importuned” on this point.

    When the fuck is Cavanaugh going to figure out that libertarians are supposed to support state-run full-scale wars (as opposed to mer epolice and intelligence work) against non-state entities? And overkill; overkill is very important. Furthermore, if, as in Israel’s case, the war doesn’t even achieve its stated objectives of getting the soldiers back and destroying Hezbollah, that’s all the more reason to speak well of the war.

    I don’t have a subscription to this magazine, but I’m going to nag my boyfriend until he cancels his.

  68. Now if this were a tv show, how would the kidnapping of two U.S. soldiers from our soil be avenged? Some shadowy Unit would be deployed to seek out and destroy the enemy planners of the mission (using previous intelligence gathered by humans and electronic and satellite means). Maybe one of the Unit would be wounded or even killed, but the enemy would be wiped out and severely chastised for their effrontery.
    Such Units, Seals, Rangers, Green Berets, Spetnaz, etc. actually exist. One would assume
    IDF and Mossad had such resources too. So why not use them instead of the actual tactics used?

  69. Jennifer, as much as some wish it were otherwise, special forces operations and spys don’t work as well in real life as they do in the movies.

    The war didn’t work as well in real life, either. Even had a special ops mission failed as completely as did the war, at least Israel wouldn’t be facing international condemntation for it.

    And perhaps less Lebanese children would be dead right now, too.

  70. >Scenescent, it is also worth remebering that any adherents to the
    >tactics of the skinny Indian, if they existed a few thousand miles
    >to the north, at about the same time, were quickly dragged into
    >cellers and shot through the back of the skull. In other words, the
    >value of any particular tactic can only be assessed through a
    >particular strategic prism.

    Indeed. And now you’re considering and engaging the idea, if only to refute it. A step forward.

  71. I’m always amused when I read people demanding to know why, say, no one condemned the bombing of Serbia. I’m especially amused when people wonder why nobody objecting to some Israeli action or ever condemned the bombing of Serbia.

    Some people never noticed that foreign policy exists before the second week of September 2001. That’s fine. But then they assume nobody else noticed either, which just isn’t true.

  72. A thought occurs to me (and has probably already been stated by some pundit somewhere, but I haven’t been reading up on this subject): before Lebanon, Israel could truthfully say “Every time we’ve faced off against the Arabs we completely kicked ass,” and I’ll bet this knowledge helped keep in line Arabs who would otherwise have tried to start trouble. Now that Israel has been defeated–and by a bunch of guerrillas, not even a regular Army–I’m wondering if this will encourage other attacks from people who beforehand would have been too frightened of Israel’s military might to start anything?

  73. Scenescent, you seem to think that I have not considered and engaged the idea for a very long time. Why do you believe this to be the case? The fact that one recognizes that a stapler won’t be effective in repairing one’s kitchen sink is not evidence that one has not previously considered and engaged the notion that a stapler is sometimes useful, is it?

    Jennifer, if international condemnation was a real factor influencing the behavior of the Israeli polity, the Israeli polity would no longer exist. Also, the fact that tactic A was ineffective is not a good argument for employing ineffective tactic B. Finally, if the prospect of dead children was a driver in the political behavior of human tribes, at least the prospect of the other tribe’s dead children, the world would be a far different place. It isn’t, and likely will never be.

  74. Joe-

    Your analysis of my words is a complete straw man argument. I didn’t say that either Israel could do nothing, or their actions are perfect. I said that they could either sit back and get attacked, or they could respond militarily. Is everything that happened in the war the ideal situation? No. Ideally, I personally would have liked a situation where Israel and the Lebanese govt partnered for a joint operation to get rid of Hizbollah. Anybody on the planet think that was going to happen? Even assuming the Lebanese govt agreed to such a thing (and that is a huge IF), their military, or at least sizeable parts of it, has an officer corps with strong Syrian loyalties. Israel had to use force, and it had to do it without the Lebanese army’s participation.

    Jennifer-
    I think way too much has been made about using “special forces” and James Bond type action. If these things worked the way they do in the movies, do you not think Israel would have just used them years ago to get the situation they wanted? Not to put words in your mouth, but if special forces were the “surgical” answer Israel’s critics seem to be suggesting, wouldn’t Israel jump at the opportunity to accomplish all it’s goals overnight, out of the public eye, and beyond criticism? I doubt Olmert was using conventional forces just for the hell of it.

  75. Has there ever been a more naive, sillier writer on this planet than Tom Friedman? I can’t read his articles without wanting to tear my hair out.

    It seems that everything that comes out of his mouth is feel good nonsense.

    “Muslims need to like themselves.”

    “The Palestinians have missed another opportunity.”

    “In India, the president is Muslim. They feel good about themselves in India.”

    “Muslims need to stand up and disavow terror. What they need is economic development.”

    He’s half Paul Wolfowitz, half Dr. Phil.

  76. Also, the fact that tactic A was ineffective is not a good argument for employing ineffective tactic B.

    But how do you know tactic B would have been ineffective?

  77. at least Israel wouldn’t be facing international condemntation for it.

    I’m sure they will be disappointed they aren;t winning the international Miss Congeniality contest…

    And perhaps less Lebanese children would be dead right now, too.

    Puhleaze…how many children is your life worth?

  78. I’m wondering if this will encourage other attacks from people who beforehand would have been too frightened of Israel’s military might to start anything?

    Some people might say that pulling out of Gaza was seen as a weakness that precipitated this and the similar Palestinian action…

  79. Puhleaze…how many children is your life worth?

    If Israel had succeeded in its goals, that would be a devastating comeback. As it stands, however, Israel started a war, killed a lot of people, and has absolutely jack shit to show for its efforts. Except this: it can no longer brag of an unbroken string of military victories.

  80. Now that Israel has been defeated–and by a bunch of guerrillas, not even a regular Army–I’m wondering if this will encourage other attacks from people who beforehand would have been too frightened of Israel’s military might to start anything?

    To extend matt’s analogy, that question might be rephrased as, “I wonder if a few nutbar northern militias who shot “got drunk and shot some quebecois”, then hunkered down while the RCAF reduced the northern peninsula to rubble, would incite other nutbar militias to think doing the same thing might accomplish something more?”

    Turning the border areas of Israel to rubble may not have won many hearts and minds, but it does force the militias to clear an area out to set up their mortars first.

    Personally, I’m still trying to figure out the bizarre political calculus that considers having the towns filled with your supporters reduced to rubble, for the sake of kidnapping two enemy soldiers and killing a third, “victory”.

  81. Jennifer, I know a special forces-only action taken against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon would have been ineffective because Hezbollah is a very well-equipped, well-trained military force on high alert, and has no significant internal military opposition within it’s enclave. That’s my point; the belief in the effectiveness of special forces operations is very often very, very, naive.

  82. I’m certainly not one who can make any sense of the whole situation. But if the idea was that the Lebanese would rise up against Hezbollah isn’t that like asking for the current situation in Iraq?

  83. Personally, I’m still trying to figure out the bizarre political calculus that considers having the towns filled with your supporters reduced to rubble, for the sake of kidnapping two enemy soldiers and killing a third, “victory”.

    It is a victory in the sense that your enemy experienced a defeat; not one of Israel’s stated war objectives was met.

  84. So now we will simultaneously criticize Israel’s “overreaction” while holding up their “defeat” as proof they were wrong to act? So you do or do not think they should have gone to an all-out war and conquered Lebanon? They went too far/not far enough?

  85. So now we will simultaneously criticize Israel’s “overreaction” while holding up their “defeat” as proof they were wrong to act?

    I don’t think they were wrong to act; I think they chose the wrong action.

  86. Puhleaze…how many children is your life worth?

    gaijin, that’s a very interesting question. can i ask what your answer is?

    -cab

  87. Except this: it can no longer brag of an unbroken string of military victories.

    It won a military victory (albeit a very partial and limited one) that was thrown away almost instantaneously by its feckless PM.

    You certainly couldn’t call the military encounter a victory for Hez or their Lebanese allies.

  88. Wow, you guys have really gone off topic.

  89. Will – why do I assume that you’ve never considered that possibility before? Because it allows me to deploy a nice little rhetorical fillip that moves the conversation along in my direction, that’s why. (It’s more a matter of “acting as if” than “assumption”, which as everyone knows, makes an ass of you and mption.)

    My point was that sometimes this is an effective tactic, your riposte was that sometimes it isn’t, which leaves us in the place of questioning whether it would be an effective tactic here, which is exactly where I wanted to end up.

    Of course, even if you did convince me that a cheek-turning approach wouldn’t achieve the goals you hope to achieve, I don’t think that would be a killing blow to my position – personally, I weigh more heavily on the moral angle, but putting the instrumentality issue in play is good debate tactics.

  90. yo…israeli chicks are pretty hot…so u know, im sure the lebanese are gonna forgive em and shit, ya know? man? damn my spacebar was fuckedup for a sec. hahah yo.

  91. sheesh kabobs peeps, i’m readin’ weird things here: Fried’s a liberal??? i’m a lib, PLEASE, he models his moustache after Geraldo’s…. and he’s naive??? more like a hardened artery.

  92. Consider the word “apologists,” which you used to describe Israel’s supporters

    In fact, I used the word “apologists” because I was setting it in opposition to “critics,” and both critics and apologists can be supporters.

  93. RC Dean: You certainly couldn’t call the military encounter a victory for Hez or their Lebanese allies.

    Actually, you can. In Vietnam, Americans created far more casualities than they received, yet Vietnam is considered a failure. That’s because the strategic goal of the war was to prevent Vietnam from falling into the maw of Communism.

    The goal of Israel was to disarm Hizbollah and get back the kidnapped soldiers and kill Nasrallah and destroy Hizbollah. A military victory would have achieved those goals by military means. Even before the cease-fire the Israeli military was losing despite their signifcant ability to inflict casualities.

    Unless the strategic goal of a war is to kill lots and lots of people killing lots and lots of people will not be considered victory.

    Which is a shame, because we’d win so many wars if that was our goal. We’d win so many wars.

  94. Hey guys,

    After we’re done belittling Friedman (he’s such a fun target because he’s so famous and successful), let’s do some Israel bashing (it’s a fun target too because it has an economy and military that puts its neighbors to shame). Maybe afterwards we can ridicule Walmart for being so big and successful! Yeaaaay, I love having my own little corner of the Internet to spout off on. =)

  95. Regarding Tim’s point about Friedman and Orwell, consider Red China and the USSR.

    It was nteresting that Arab governments criticized Hezbollah at first for provoking Israel (a first). (i.e. they don’t like seeing Shia Iran’s growing influence and power in the region) but after Hezbollah held out for a bit and these Arab dictatorships noticed their publics were rooting for Hezbollah, they changed their tune.

  96. You certainly couldn’t call the military encounter a victory for Hez or their Lebanese allies.

    The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.

  97. ” let’s do some Israel bashing (it’s a fun target too because it has an economy and military that puts its neighbors to shame).”

    Israel needs to get serious about a two-state solution.

    It looks like Iran is getting nukes. I doubt the current Iranian government would nuke Israel, destroying the Dome of the Rock and wiping out many Palestinians, but say the global economy tanks in the mid-term future and the Iranians do get a nutty government. It won’t matter that Israel has “an economy and military that puts its neighbors to shame.” A few nukes will put an end to both of those real like.

  98. Well, scenescent, if the fact that a political tactic is proven to be useless in achieving a desired outcome does not render a killing blow to the position of advocating that tactic for the purpose of achieving that outcome, then we are no longer in engaged in the exercise of reason, but rather an exercise in Faith. Now, I have nothing against Faith, but those that have Faith should simply acknowledge it forthrightly, instead of dressing it in the language of a tactical analysis.

    Along the same lines, it is often unhelpful to draw inapt analogies in an effort to illuminate what might best lead to a desired outcome. Drawing an analogy between the mid-20th century British Empire, and Hezbollah in 2006, is a good example of this.

  99. The moral compass for the West’s historical fomentation of Middle Eastern conflict is concealed in the rarified stratum of hedge funds, fantastic kickbacks, etc.

    Basra light crude is the most sought-after glob of slick – nothing refines better, and it’s barely under the surface. In Saddam’s day, the cost of pumping Basra light was just under $1.50/barrel. CEOs line up to sell their mothers for oil this cheap.

    But hey, in the news today: Iraq has to import oil, hootie!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060817/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_fuel_shortage_1

  100. Will Allen –

    Hm. That’s unfortunate, my decision to bring issues of pragmatics into the fray was intended as a device to to *avoid* making an appeal to faith alone.

    It’s unfortunate that didn’t come through, and I fear that my use of the term “tactics” to refer both to the plans of the various mideast actors for strengthening their positions and to my own plan for rendering a compelling argument may have muddied the waters, a fear inspired in part by your use of the phrase “tactical analysis” to describe my writing, a term I would not myself use.

    So to try and clear things up, a paragraph:

    I believe the cheek-turning approach is noble and moral and should be adopted on that basis. However, there is also the fact that this approach has sometimes proven a highly effective tactic, and the possibility that it could prove so here should render it more appealing to people who do not share my moral assumptions and perspectives.

  101. The posters are right. Israel lost this war for the simple fact that the South Lebanses are alive and go back to their homes and lives (which weren’t much to write home about in the first place) and rebuild. Olmert’s problem is that he is tranfering a Western sensibility on an Eastern People. Their breaking point is not the same as ours. The lesson Israel needs to understand is that the next war they launch has to be total. Death counts in the thousands aren’t going to cause the South Lebanese to question their policy towards Israel. All Israel did by this half hearted action was waste a lot of money and embolden their enemy to act in an even more dangerous manner. A few more “wars” like this and Israel will cease to exist.

  102. I understand your point better now, Scenescent, but I still must differ. Tell me, if someone were to break into your home tonight, and in the process of lifting your wallet from the nightstand, dedcide that it would be a lot of fun to smash your skull in, would it be more more moral and noble to turn your cheek after he smashed it, in order to give him a clear shot at the other, and thereby allow him to continue his chosen career with other victims, or would it be more moral and noble to strike him down, and thus stop him from doing so? In reality, few things are more immoral and ignoble, in a peculiarly self-centered way, than pacifism in the face of a violent aggressor who is not likely to respond to moral suasion.

    The key, and an extremely difficult key it is to master, is to be able to predict with any accuracy which aggressors are amenable to moral suasion. The British Empire of the mid 18th century was far less amenable than that of the mid 20th century. The Soviet Empire was never really amenable to moral suasion, although by the 1980s they were far less willing to engage in mass terror than was the case in the 1930s.

    What of Hezbollah? Nothing can be said with absolute certainty, just as we cannot say with absolute certainty that the person who is smashing you skull in tonight will do so again to someone else. However, it can be said that somebody who successfully robs and kills you tonight is very likely to do so to someone else, and it can also be said that a political party which actively kills Israelis at any opportunity, and openly states that it wishes to kill every Israeli, will in fact do so, if given the opportunity. If the day comes when Hezbollah is willing to state that Israel has a right to exist every bit as legitimate as the nations surrounding it, this estimation may change. We ain’t there yet.

  103. In fact, there was broad and deep support for the invasion among Israelis, which is more proof of Olmert’s incompetence. With an unprecedented buy-in from all sides, he balked at a few casualties and missed whatever (slim) chance he had to do actual damage to Hezbollah

    Was it the casualties?

    How much private pressure was there from Washington? If the United States hadn’t co-drafted UN Security Council resolution 1701, wouldn’t Israel still be fighting today? Did the Bush Administration balk? Would Olmert have fought on without American support?

    I’m not sure it was the casualties.

  104. Tell me, if someone were to break into your home tonight, and in the process of lifting your wallet from the nightstand, dedcide that it would be a lot of fun to smash your skull in, would it be more more moral and noble to turn your cheek after he smashed it, in order to give him a clear shot at the other, and thereby allow him to continue his chosen career with other victims, or would it be more moral and noble to strike him down, and thus stop him from doing so?

    Don’t confuse individual guilt with collective guilt. In your example, the person you strike down is the same person who tried to harm you. In Israel’s case, many of the people they killed had nothing to do with Hezbollah.

    A better analogy would be, if the guy lifts your wallet and smashes your skull but you are not capable of tracking down that guy and getting him, should you turn the other cheek, or bomb the shit out of the neighborhood where he lives?

  105. RC Dean writes: “It won a military victory (albeit a very partial and limited one) that was thrown away almost instantaneously by its feckless PM.”

    What victory? Israel occupied a small, strategically inconsequential portion of Lebanon – a portion that Israel didn’t want to keep – but they didn’t occupy anywhere near enough to push Hezbollah’s launchers out of range of Israeli territory. They hadn’t put a dent into the number of launches. Nor did they get their soldiers back.

  106. “Once enough people are slaughtered on either side, then attitudes will change, just as the attitudes in Western Europe regarding war were far different in 1918 than they had been in 1914. Of course, those new attitudes played a large role in allowing the bloodshed of the thirties and forties.”

    And note that there was considerably less bloodshed in that 2nd war.

  107. “When the Philly police bombed the MOVE people, and caused a fire that burned down a whole city block, I’m pretty sure MOVE’s neighbors didn’t become Philly PD boosters.”

    According to what I heard at the time, they did, especially in the anticipation that their relocation would be paid for.

  108. I dunno, Jennifer. If he was committed to killing everybody in my neighborhood, and there was reason to think that he could well someday obtain the means of doing so to a large degree, yeah, I might bomb his neighborhood, even if it meant killing some of his innocent neighbors. That’s life in the awful world of grown-ups, as opposed to a fantasy where people have the luxury of never engaging in actions which harm innocents.

    Put plainly, the world often sucks, and pretending that one can adhere to a code of behavior in which no innocent third party will ever be harmed won’t make it suck any less. That isn’t to say that Israel’s recent action was particularly wise, only that the moral calculation, by which it is concluded that any act which harms an innocent third party is inherently immoral, is flawed.

    Hezbollah has widespread support in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah openly declares it’s intent to attack, and eventually destroy, Israel. Israel has far greater military capability than Hezbollah. Southern Lebanon is thus going to periodically be bombed. That’s the way the world works, and wishing it were not so isn’t going to change anything.

    If the response to this reality is that the U.S. should not be subsidizing Israel’s military actions, I have some sympathy for this notion, but nobody should think that cutting off U.S. aid would change the fundamental dynamic. In fact, doing so may well greatly increase the chance of massive slaughter, since Israel would still have the means to effect one, and a much greater sense of isolation may lead to more extreme measures.

  109. Fatdrunkandstupid:
    Bugger off, troll.

  110. Yep, Robert, the second go-round was even bloodier, an ironic outcome given the wide-spread anti-war sentiment spawned by the guns of August was, according to the conventional wisdom of the era, supposed to make such conflicts less likely. It seems that war is always interested in humans, even when humans say they aren’t interested in war.

    My larger view is that there should be no larger view in regards to the utility and morality of war. Analogies are fine up to a point, but eventually, if one too firmly believes that today’s situation is like that of 1914, or 1936, or 1951, or 1965, or 1492, for that matter, one is likely to make some serious strategic errors. The largest strategic error I see looming in the next few decades is believing that classical nuclear deterrence is workable once many, many, actors are in possession of such weapons. I’ll be damned if I have any notion of how to avoid it, however.

  111. That’s life in the awful world of grown-ups, as opposed to a fantasy where people have the luxury of never engaging in actions which harm innocents.

    Despite your condescending tone, I am aware of the occasional need for wars which kill innocents. And had Israel invaded with a workable plan to achieve its goal of eradicating the threat of Hezbollah, your tone would even apply here. But no–we’re talking about Israel using a ham-fisted plan that wouldn’t and didn’t work.

  112. “Those who back NATO operations against Serbia believed that Serbia was poised to commit great atrocities in the form of killing or displacing hundreds of thousands of people, sometimes called genocide.”

    But why did they believe this? Just because the people in power said so? Is it that we all know that government officials don’t lie or distort information to achieve their own self-serving or ideological objectives?

  113. Goddess damn our biased media! I’d like to hear a little less about Hizbollah, and a little more about Herbollah.

  114. W E White:

    So what part of the whole “bombing the hell out of all of Lebanon’s infrastructure” was tactical?

  115. RC Dean writes: “It won a military victory (albeit a very partial and limited one) that was thrown away almost instantaneously by its feckless PM.”

    What victory? Israel occupied a small, strategically inconsequential portion of Lebanon – a portion that Israel didn’t want to keep – but they didn’t occupy anywhere near enough to push Hezbollah’s launchers out of range of Israeli territory. They hadn’t put a dent into the number of launches. Nor did they get their soldiers back.

    Jon, you’re never going to kill the Republican fantasy that there’s such a thing as a “military victory” that matters a damn in isolation from the question of political victory or defeat.

  116. Well, Jennifer, it would then be wise to comment on the strategic outcome, as opposed to the fact that innocents were killed, since innocents being killed, as hideous as it is, is an unremarkable occurrence in war. If you acknowlege the occasional need for wars in which innocents are killed, why engage in the phony moral calculus regarding the analogy of bombing of an attacker’s neighborhood? My dialogue with Scenescent was in response to his blanket assertion that pacifism in the face of aggression was moral and noble. This is quite often false.

    I apologize for the condescending tone, but I often tend to respond in that manner once people start employing rhetoric regarding dead children in a discussion of war. I’ve seen the bodies of dead children in the aftermath of war, and I find it condescending when people employ rhetoric which seems to imply that I am unaware of what aftermath of war looks like.

  117. Thomas Friedman surprises me. He was very sympathetic with the Lebanese and very opposed to Israeli policy in “From Beirut to Jerusalem”. The Israelis have had a policy for a long time of targeting civilians to turn the public against the resistance. It always has the opposite effect. It makes the public more sympathetic with the resistance. The public in Lebanon don’t blame Hezbollah, they blame Israel and they blame the US for supplying the Israelis with arms and for not calling for a cease fire.

  118. John,

    In addition to fyodor’s point about there being a much higher degree of exigency in Serbia (tens of thousands threatened with mass slaughter), the fact that Israel killed a dramatically higher number of civilians in a much smaller war that lasted a much shorter time and involved a much smaller area of the map demonstrates a much higher degree of care on the part of NATO. When NATO planes hit an apartment house, it was an accident.

  119. “Joe the U.S. bombed the living crap out of power plants in both the first gulf war and Kosovo. Not so much in this gulf war, but certainly in those two. I assume you are objecting to Bill Clinton’s acts of agression in bombing Serbian power plants?”

    I do, and did, oppose such tactics. Even in wars I support. An honest and intelligent person can distinguish between a cause and the means employed to achieve it. Only the dishonest or stupid insist that endorsement of a war means throwing all morals out the window when prosecuting it.

    If we’re tossing judgements about the morality of the tactics employed out the window, then this is just a dispute by two Middle Eastern groups over land, and I don’t give a shit. Israel is only entitled to sympathy and aid from Americans to extent that it respects and advances our values.

  120. “If we’re tossing judgements about the morality of the tactics employed out the window, then this is just a dispute by two Middle Eastern groups over land, and I don’t give a shit.”

    This is indeed just a dispute by two ME groups alimover land. If discussions could be framed accordingly, we might get a solution. As long as Israel can claim that there is something else going on they can justify their actions. As long as the Arabs can claim that something else is going on they can justify their actions. As long as we see something special about the conflict, it remains intractible.

  121. Well, I only got through about the first half of these comments, and my question is: Doesn’t anyone get the fact that Israel bombed so much of the Lebanese infrastructure in order to prevent Hezbollah from resupplying and rearming? That wasn’t mentioned once.

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