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June 02, 2010

Comments

It's in the US's interest to have a strong Israel.

How so?

How so?

So Jeebus will show up on a pony.

Pretty well put, von.

I have only two reservations:
- there are actually more than just a few of us goys who are both friends of Israel (without, in many cases, having much use for the current Israeli government), and not Islamophopes, etc. Not as many as one might perhaps wish, but more than just a few.
- actually, Turkey has been a good friend of the US for as long as Israel (and is also capable of projecting military power in the Middle East on nearly the same scale). Not to mention being a NATO ally. So it makes the current situation that much worse that Israel seems to have managed to really piss off the Turks with this fiasco.

But what if your drinking buddy has just been using you for free drinks, and takes sh*ts in your bed and orders the Mixed Metaphor Marshmallow Madness at Cold Stone, constantly, even though you are lactose intolerant?

Putting up with this for years and years only teaches your pal to become a hyperreactionary, right wing *sshole.

Well, Jim Henley seems to have the realpolitik view that matters.

I'll believe differently, when I see the U.S. stop full-throatedly supporting (read ignoring bad actions) Israel.

However - both Egypt and Israel ARE engaging in collective punishment of Gaza. there is no other term for it. See this link.

What do the items banned have in common? Anything that would possibly cause some measure of self-sufficiency in Gaza.

That the United States is an effective enabler of this type of collective punishment - in fact, gives both Egypt and Israel billions every year - is a deep betrayal of values we purport to uphold.

JC: Well, Jim Henley seems to have the realpolitik view that matters.

Yeah. The illegal occupation of the Occupied Territories has been going on for all of my life.

At this point, perhaps it would clarify things for Von and other supporters of Israel in their reluctance to consider the evil they support (see comments on banality of evil) if we began saying bluntly: Gaza is the world's largest concentration camp, and Israel is an apartheid state.

Israel attacked a NATO ally of the US. If the US lets Israel get away with this, NATO is broken. This is a big deal, for the US and the other NATO countries: but since the US will let Israel get away with it, it is not a big deal for Israel.

Von doesn't care Israel are running the world's largest concentration camp: he cares that they made an embarrassing mistake in the normal process of ensuring that the concentration camp inmates stay half-starved and uneducated. (There were school supplies on the flotilla. Uneducated people are easier to keep down.)

Von doesn't care that Israel is running an apartheid state: he cares that Israel remains a "strong ally" in the region, because this apartheid state that keeps its subject population half-starved and illeducated and sends in the military to brutalize them as necessary, can "project power" in the region.

This is the banality of evil, Von. This is you so used to "how we do business" that you don't think about what it does to good people....

Jesurgislac,

I'm not sure making the apartheid argument is helpful. I can see the argument, but it obscures a point that no one can disagree with, and that's what I want to concentrate on.

You can make an argument about not allowing some things in. Israel can even, 'sort of', point to concrete, though it is a huge stretch (how can you build anything without concrete?).

BUT..seeds? Cloth? FISHING RODS???

If that is accurate - there is absolutely no justification in the world, that cannot be laughed at. So the fact that there is no reporting on this, OBVIOUSNESS - "well, we in Israel have to ban seeds and fishing rods, because seeds are weapons of destruction..." is JUST WEIRD.

No human being can defend that. No one in AIPAC can defend that. No one on TNR can defend that. Marty Peretz can't defend that. No one at National Review can defend THAT.

No matter what Hamas has done.

Disallowing seeds and fishing rods, is absolutely indefensible, and clearly, unequivocably, indisputibly, collective punishment.

And remember, Egypt also enforces the blockade. I'm sure Egypt knows what is allowed in, and allowed out.

So junior co-conspirators, in this collective punishment, are Egypt's leaders.

And the silence here, on what is a moral evil - not allowing over a million people seeds or equipment to fish, by anyone in our government - is a silence that is also evil.

No other state in the region has been a good friend for so long. No other state in the region is so, well, connected to the US. You're like a good drinking buddy: Opinionated, controversial, and ready to fight.

Let us not forget: in our time of need, in the aftermath of 9/11, when we invaded Afghanistan, Israel sent an invasion force consisting of its finest and bravest soldiers. Let us take a moment to remember how bravely those soldiers fought and how selflessly they gave their lives while coming to our aid.

Ha ha ha ha! Israeli is a nation of cowards that hate America. Despite having a powerful military, it didn't do a damn thing to help us in Afghanistan or Iraq. Not a single Israeli soldier deployed, not a single Israeli soldier bled and not a single Israeli soldier died. That's what a true friend does in your time of need: absolutely nothing.

You'd think that maybe Israel could match the contribution made by great military powers like Bosnia and Singapore and Montenegro and Luxembourg, but you'd be wrong: Israel doesn't care enough to send a half dozen medics. The message is clear: America, fuck yeahyou!

JC: If that is accurate - there is absolutely no justification in the world, that cannot be laughed at.

I don't find running a concentration camp laughable. And that is why essential supplies are not allowed in. Seeds? Concentration camp inmates can't be allowed to grow their own food. Fishing-rods? Teach a man to fish and you let him think he can feed himself and his family. Besides seeds and fish would let the inmates produce more high-quality food, which would make them healthier, and it's easier for concentration camp guards if the inmates are kept in semi-starvation.

And Von is so accustomed to this evil that he thinks what matters is that Israel embarrassed the US by attacking a NATO ally in international waters.

Despite having a powerful military, it didn't do a damn thing to help us in Afghanistan or Iraq.

either a troll or someone who doesn't understand basic geopolitics.

anyhoo, as for the "strong Israel" thing, I don't see it either. I wish Israelis the best, but I really couldn't care less what happens to them this century. Being resource-less, their national economy could relocate to eg. Nevada and the world would be better off.

Actually for all the money we've spent keeping them "strong" we could have put them on the moon.

Turb makes a good point. What exactly, in a strategic sense, does the US get out of this relationship? Because it's not troops, or bases, or overflight rights, or anything like that.
Kuwait provided the springboard for the invasion of Iraq. Pakistan, despite internal problems, has been losing troops by the hundred trying to go after the Taliban in the FATA, and it's made a lot of extremely high-value Al Qaeda arrests (KSM, for one). Turkey has the vital airbase at Incirlik. Qatar is an important regional port for the US Navy. Diego Garcia has an bomber field that can cover the entire Indian Ocean area. Oman and Djibouti are useful bases for the operations against the Somali pirates.

Israel...

come on, help me out here, von. This is a serious question. In the last nine years of your war, what, exactly, have these great buddies of yours done to help? You send them $4 billion a year in aid, you sell them military technology that you don't let most of your other allies have (and they sell it on to China), you block pretty much every UN criticism of them... surely to god you must be getting something back?


And you just had to get in that little 2003 vintage jab at the French, didn't you? Pathetic.

ajay:
And you just had to get in that little 2003 vintage jab at the French, didn't you?

Von could be historically-minded enough to make it a 1941 vintage jab.

But given that he's not historically-minded enough to recognise that concentration camps are an evil, I doubt it...

He's also not historically-minded enough to know much about the Six-Day War. When the Israeli Air Force tore apart pretty well every other air force in the region, it did so flying Mirages and Ouragans and Mysteres. Provided by France. (Along with AMX-13 tanks, artillery, etc...)

"I don't find running a concentration camp laughable. And that is why essential supplies are not allowed in. Seeds? Concentration camp inmates can't be allowed to grow their own food. Fishing-rods? Teach a man to fish and you let him think he can feed himself and his family. Besides seeds and fish would let the inmates produce more high-quality food, which would make them healthier, and it's easier for concentration camp guards if the inmates are kept in semi-starvation."

And nothing, NOTHING, that Israel does in this vein matters one bit, if Egypt doesn't do it, too. Because of that Gaza border with Egypt most people criticizing Israel don't like to mention.

Israelis have an understandable motive for oppressing the Palestinians. Every time they lift their boot heel, the Palestinians try to kill them. What's Egypt's excuse? Why can't Palestinians immigrate to other countries in the region? Surely people who think our southern border should be open have a beef with THAT, right?

The Israelis aren't nice folks. But it's not objective moral judgment that gets them 95% plus of the criticism aimed at the middle east. It's something uglier.

"Israelis have an understandable motive for oppressing the Palestinians. Every time they lift their boot heel, the Palestinians try to kill them."

When did they lift their boot heels, Brett? The Gaza withdrawal? They didn't lift it then, if you bother to examine the record. And settlements continued to expand all through the 90's. And it never crosses your mind that maybe cause and effect are a little different from what you imagine--that much Palestinian violence is a reaction to that boot you mentioned, which among other things has killed a great many Palestinians.

"But it's not objective moral judgment that gets them 95% plus of the criticism aimed at the middle east."

Supposing you were serious, I'd point out that first, there's really quite a bit of Western criticism aimed at Muslims in the Middle East, and even some high explosives. Perhaps you'd not noticed or didn't think it was important. Second, it'd be more accurate to say that 95 percent of the praise aimed at the Middle East goes to Israel. The criticism tends to be a response to all that praise.

"And nothing, NOTHING, that Israel does in this vein matters one bit, if Egypt doesn't do it, too. Because of that Gaza border with Egypt most people criticizing Israel don't like to mention."

Has anyone said that Egypt isn't bad, Brett? Are you mad that we're neglecting Egypt? Here's a bone: Egypt is bad for enforcing the blockade.

Now, explain why it's okay for Israel (and Egypt) to ban seeds and fishing rods.

DJ: Obviously to Brett 95% is not enough.

Brett: I missed the news item where Egypt attacked a relief supply convoy to Palestine in the middle of the night and killed several people. Perhaps you could supply the link?

From Troy:

Despite having a powerful military, it didn't do a damn thing to help us in Afghanistan or Iraq.

either a troll or someone who doesn't understand basic geopolitics.

Turbulence has been a strong presence in the commenting community here for years, which is more than I can say for Troy.

Besides that, calling people names and making snotty assertions about what they've said, instead of actually addressing the content of what the've said -- that's the trollish thing to do.

So Troy -- if out of your vast knowledge of geopolitics you have something of substance to say about Turbulence's assertions, say it. If you don't, go look in the mirror next time you get the urge to sh*t on someone here.

could you have not made the announcement while our Vice President was visiting?

I can answer this one for you, Von:

"F*ck you. Oh, and give us more money."

no state in the middle east has the capability or willingness to project power in that region, damn the consequencies

Why is this desirable? My naive view is that "projecting power in that region, damn the consequences" has caused a lot more problems than it's solved (you know, what with all those dead people and all). What am I missing?

Many, many dots still crying out to be connected here.

Every time they lift their boot heel, the Palestinians try to kill them.

Hungry Palestinian children are quite vicious.

Ha ha ha ha! Israeli is a nation of cowards that hate America. Despite having a powerful military, it didn't do a damn thing to help us in Afghanistan or Iraq. Not a single Israeli soldier deployed, not a single Israeli soldier bled and not a single Israeli soldier died. That's what a true friend does in your time of need: absolutely nothing.

Uh, Turb, if the Israelis had contributed even a single soldier or whatever, the entire undertaking in either arena would have been permanently tainted in the Muslim world even more so than it was already. Not a single Muslim country would have supported, expressly or tacitly, either action if Israel had played even the slightest role. It's fine to hammer someone for something they've done, or haven't done that they reasonably should have done, but this is not even remotely fair criticism. Just as any overt, public US alignment with the Green movement in Iran would indelibly tar that movement as a pawn of the US, involving Israel in any US-sponsored military operation anywhere would have the same effect.

You're like a good drinking buddy: Opinionated, controversial, and ready to fight.

no state in the middle east has the capability or willingness to project power in that region, damn the consequencies

Why is this desirable?

I have the same question as Uncle Kvetch.

Why is it good that one nation in the middle east is able and willing to project power at will, regardless of the consequences?

Why do we want to enable that?

Maybe I'm missing something.

Do you really enjoy a night out with an opinionated, argumentative belligerent?

You must have a different idea of "fun" than I do.

McTex is right.

Israel actually offerred troops for both Gulf Wars, and the US steadfastly refused.

Uh, Turb, if the Israelis had contributed even a single soldier or whatever, the entire undertaking in either arena would have been permanently tainted...

Then Israel isn't an American ally, it's an American dependent.

'No other state in the region has been a good friend for so long.'

Buh wa? Look I have been a supporter of Israel since I was old enough to comprehend the Shoah and maybe not coincidentally pick up and read Uris's Exodus and Mila 18 and Michener's The Tel, which puts me back to a little before the 6 Day War. But realistically what has Israel ever done for us in the US?

There are good reasons to protect your little brother when he is getting bullied on the playground, but at best it projects a message of 'Don't fuck with my family or else', at worst it leaves you with periodic black eyes. No we are not going to allow Israel to be kicked to the curb or pushed into the sea, but that doesn't mean that this particular kid is not a pain in the ass in the same way a snotty younger sibling might be.

I support Israel but at the same time remember them shooting up the U.S.S. Liberty. And nobody really believes that was an accident, instead it was a warning that Israel knew it had unlimited credit in the U.S. no matter what it dragged us into.

If the Israelis are unable to contribute anything to America's actions in the Middle East, then doesn't that indicate that they are not the most useful allies, by definition? Why is the US providing all that military help when the precondition is that it must never, ever, ever be used to help the US?

What good is Israel to US interests?

Well it used to be Israel's reliability as a force projector in a strategic part of the world, a regional destabilizer, and as a blame sponge used by the US and also by the local tyrants whenever the masses start wondering why their standard of living still sucks.

Recent developments in Iraq have probably cut into the first (the Kurds would be tickled to assume that role). The other two goods remain, but soon the the US may decide getting two for the price of three is not good value, and adjust the terms accordingly.

I also for once agree with McKinneyTexas. It was among the Elder Bush's greater but mostly unsung successes to prevent the Israelis from answering Saddam Hussein's Scud missiles. It was clear that Saddam hoped for an Isreali counterattack because all the Arab members of the alliance against him has made clear they would pack and go home, if that happened. The Palestinians at the time were as politically blind and stupid as Israel seems today and threw in their lot with Saddam.

Israel actually offerred troops for both Gulf Wars, and the US steadfastly refused.

This, and what McKinney said. It would not have worked. I can't believe anyone even suggested it, sober.

The Arab world won't even buy Israeli hardware; anyone who imagines that they'd in any way tolerate Israeli feet in boots in an Islamic country is utterly daft.

Which might be a little harsh on our friend Turbulence, but he hasn't exactly been pulling punches of late.

Whatever the reasons are for Israel's lack of usefulness to us in the M.E., they still lack said usefulness, so Turb's only 7/8 wrong, or maybe 15/16. (I'm always pulling the wrong one out of my wrench set when trying to fix something.)

On the main thrust of Von's post, here is a cut from a dissent at A Sullivan's blog:

But once you acknowledge that a blockade is justified to keep weapons out of Gaza (as you have done), then you must also accept that ships attempting to run the blockade will be subject to intercept and search. Otherwise the blockade is pointless. And you must also accept that given the nature and purpose of the blockade (to interdict weapons and "strategic" materials going into Gaza), the folks doing the boarding will be armed. And if they are set upon by passengers wielding knifes and lead pipes ... well, what the hell do you think is going to happen? I've been pulled over for traffic violations before, and I can guarantee you that if I set upon an officer with a lead pipe and tried to wrestle away his/her gun, that officer's partner would draw down on me, and all hell would break loose. At least I expect that's what would happen, because I am an adult who lives in the real world.

There are several aspects of this excerpt that will inspire comment, e.g. is the blockade legal, are the materials embargoes strategic or viciously irrelevant and arbitrary?

My question is, assume for the sake of argument that (1) the blockade was legal, (2) the materials excluded from Gaza were actual war fighting materials and--just to make it interesting--(3) the vessel interdicted actually contained war-fighting materials, would that change any opinions? Von, Eric, anyone?

Well, yes, McKinneyTexas, in some other world where the materials excluded from Gaza were actual war fighting materials and the ship contained rockets and mortars and the blockade was legal and (let's just go crazy here) Israel really did treat ordinary Palestinians with common decency and limited their own actions to what they had to do to protect themselves, then not only would my opinion change, I'd be criticizing the would-be blockade runners as troublemakers and supporters of terrorism.

But the assumptions aren't true.

I've been pulled over for traffic violations before, and I can guarantee you that if I set upon an officer with a lead pipe and tried to wrestle away his/her gun, that officer's partner would draw down on me, and all hell would break loose

if you're pulled over by a county Sheriff a couple of dozen miles outside his jurisdiction and you know you weren't breaking any laws, and you have good reason to distrust that Sheriff, and you know the world is watching this happen, you might muster up a bit more than a sad face.

My question is, assume for the sake of argument that (1) the blockade was legal, (2) the materials excluded from Gaza were actual war fighting materials and--just to make it interesting--(3) the vessel interdicted actually contained war-fighting materials, would that change any opinions? Von, Eric, anyone?

Not in international waters, it wouldn't.

McTex:

Basically what DJ said.

Sure, in a different world, under a different set of material, germane facts, what Israel did might not be wrong.

However, hypotheticals are of little interest to me at the moment.

Not in international waters, it wouldn't.

I think this is less clear - but is still problematic.

My question is, assume for the sake of argument that (1) the blockade was legal, (2) the materials excluded from Gaza were actual war fighting materials and--just to make it interesting--(3) the vessel interdicted actually contained war-fighting materials, would that change any opinions? Von, Eric, anyone?

OK: I'll take a stab at it: yes. Though 1) the "legality" of the blockade is a minor point: the blockade is there, as long as the Israelis wish to maintain it; and anyone can find some sort of legalistic peg to hang their position on - pro or con. And 2): "war-fighting materials" are banned in any case: but the Israeli embargo doesn't just cover the usual stuff (weapons, explosives); but is, AFAICT, a grab-bag of more-or-less arbitrary prohibitions designed more just to exercise power than to have practicable effect.

So that leaves 3): and yes, if it could be proven than someone was trying to smuggle arms into Gaza under cover of "humanitarian aid", then screw 'em: no sympathy from me there. But as far as we can determine, that's not the case with the Mavi Marmara, so the issue is moot. And any "discoveries" by the Israelis at this point, ought to be looked at with an extremely skeptical eye - their credibility is near-zero, IMHO.

However, hypotheticals are of little interest to me at the moment.

One of the reasons for hypotheticals is to find out where the fault lines are in a disagreement. If Israel had/has the right to blockade Gaza and if the ship was a blockade runner, then Israel had both the right to board and the right to act in self defense, no?

McKinneyTexas,

"assume for the sake of argument that (1) the blockade was legal, (2) the materials excluded from Gaza were actual war fighting materials and--just to make it interesting--(3) the vessel interdicted actually contained war-fighting materials, would that change any opinions?"

What is the point of this hypothetical? I mean, yes, with your proposed fact pattern I would agree that the Israelis were totally justified. Now, where is the congruence between your fact pattern and reality? I don't see any, so why did you bring it up?

"I've been pulled over for traffic violations before, and I can guarantee you that if I set upon an officer with a lead pipe and tried to wrestle away his/her gun, that officer's partner would draw down on me, and all hell would break loose."

This analogy fails. An Arizonan police officer has the legal authority to pull over drivers for traffic violations in Arizona, and maybe even anywhere in the U.S. Furthermore, there are many negligible things you can do which will give a police officer "cause" to stop you (exceeding the speed limit by 1 mph), but the stop will still have a legal cause. Furthermore, police officers pull people over with flashing sirens, hand signals, and a PA system. These are all nonviolent means.

The interdiction of the supply ship was not analogous. Israel had no legal authority to stop the supply ship in international waters. Furthermore, my understanding is that the commandos boarded the ship by rappelling down from helicopters without warning. So, unlawful and forcible trespassing onto the ship, carrying guns. Furthermore, since some of these ships (not sure about the one which was boarded by rappelling) were Turkish flag ships, that means the commandos were illegally intruding and assaulting people on Turkish soil.

The cop/ticket analogy assumes something (legal authority) which it needs to prove. Do you have any comment on the issue of Israel's complete lack of legal authority to do what it did?

My timing is terrible, but to address your points:

"One of the reasons for hypotheticals is to find out where the fault lines are in a disagreement. If Israel had/has the right to blockade Gaza and if the ship was a blockade runner, then Israel had both the right to board and the right to act in self defense, no?"

Definitely agree about the point of hypotheticals. However, let's assume that I am Jehovah, the alpha and the omega. Isn't it true that whatever I say goes? Well, yes, but who cares? The assumption is false. Don't assume what you need to prove.

So, we can debate the following:

a) Is the blockade legal?

and

b) Was the ship a blockade runner?

My guesses are not only

a) The blockade is illegal because it violates the Geneva conventions, by enforcing collective punishment (this is all taken from this and other blogs, I haven't looked it up yet). Not sure how else it might violate Geneva

but also

b) Even if the blockade was legal, the commandos did not wait for the ship to reach the blockade. Israeli forces engaged the ship in international waters, NOT in the blockade.

I don't see how Israel can get around b).

Israel had no legal authority to stop the supply ship in international waters. Furthermore, my understanding is that the commandos boarded the ship by rappelling down from helicopters without warning.

As for legal authority, that is debatable, as many others have noted, some here, most elsewhere.

Second, whether there was a prior warning or not is disputed.

Third, once a blockade is declared, any ship attempting to breach the blockade is subject to interdiction, search and either impoundment or being sent back, regardless of the flag that ship flies. The ultimate sanction is sinking. When the US blockaded Cuba, we were stopping Soviet ships, and risking war in the process. A blockade is one step short of war and running a blockade carries known risks.

Julian--any blockade has the incidental effect of group punishment. That does not connote illegality per se, since, if it did, any blockade is ipso facto illegal. As for stopping a ship in international waters, what authority says that is illegal as a part of enforcing a blockade?

Are those Turks threatening to bring nukes to Gaza again?

One of the reasons for hypotheticals is to find out where the fault lines are in a disagreement.

Yes, but only if you use the hypo to do that. You seem to be sequeing from your hypo to using its presumption to support the conclusion.

Third, once a blockade is declared, any ship attempting to breach the blockade is subject to interdiction, search and either impoundment or being sent back, regardless of the flag that ship flies. The ultimate sanction is sinking. When the US blockaded Cuba, we were stopping Soviet ships, and risking war in the process. A blockade is one step short of war and running a blockade carries known risks.

Again, Israel gets into trouble by conducting the raid in international water. Running a blockade is contingent. Further, the status of the blockade's legality matters if one is going to argue the legality of actions taken in defense of said blockade.

Further still, there are protocols and requirements that Israel needs to follow that were ignored if it wants to claim its actions as legal. Such as: escorting said and attempting to steer away, firing warning shots, attempted communications, etc.

Julian--any blockade has the incidental effect of group punishment. That does not connote illegality per se, since, if it did, any blockade is ipso facto illegal.

This is not true.

For example, the blockade of Cuba was not "collective punishment" of the civilian population of Cuba unless preventing Soviet ICBMs from landing on Cuban soil somehow caused extreme suffering for Cuban civilians.

Blockading food, medicine and building material, on the other hand, is collective punishment - under the tenuous and strained argument that such items are weapons of war.

"Julian--any blockade has the incidental effect of group punishment."

This isn't incidental. It's been a regular feature of news accounts regarding the blockade that Israel imposed it to cause poverty in Gaza in order to discredit Hamas.

McKinney: "When the US blockaded Cuba, we were stopping Soviet ships, and risking war in the process."

I don't recollect that we dropped armed men on those Soviet ships from helicopters in the middle of the night (and the Soviets just offered us vodka, presumably).

Perhaps your memory of this putatively comparable event differs. If so, please cite your evidence.

As for stopping a ship in international waters, what authority says that is illegal as a part of enforcing a blockade?

What authority says it is legal? Further, could Israel scour the seven seas and board any and all ships on the premise that it has a blockade around Gaza? Doesn't the exclusion zone need to bear some relation to the blockaded port(s)?

Also, a blockade is not short of war, but an act of war. And there are questions as to Israel's declaration of same. If it wants the protection of legal norms, it must comport with same.

Bottom line, while in international waters, a ship is subject to, and enjoys the protection of, the laws of the nation under which it is flagged.

The burden of proof is on those that would remove that jurisdiction/protection.

Blockading food, medicine and building material, on the other hand, is collective punishment - under the tenuous and strained argument that such items are weapons of war.


Several issues here. First, I don't know what's on the embargo list, but I read somewhere that fishing rods and fishing line are included. This seems pretty stupid to me, but off point somewhat. Second, are you saying that Israel is embargoing all food, medicine and building materials? Really? I'd missed that.


But let's say, hypothetically, that a total blockade, i.e. one in which food, medicine, clothing, etc are excluded, is illegal because it imposes collective punishment. So, to discourage a state actor from, say, building and deploying nuclear weapons, embargoing said state would be illegal because it would be collective punishment? Or, to take an occasionally popular 'what if' from yesteryear: it was legal to nuke Japan to end WWII but blockading and starving it into submission would have been illegal because of the ban against collective punishment?

First, I don't know what's on the embargo list, but I read somewhere that fishing rods and fishing line are included. This seems pretty stupid to me, but off point somewhat. Second, are you saying that Israel is embargoing all food, medicine and building materials? Really? I'd missed that.

Then may I suggest you read the previous post here on ObWi.

But let's say, hypothetically

The CT thread on this incident was also something of a feast of hypotheticals. All of them being offered by apologists for Israel. Coincidence?

Further, could Israel scour the seven seas and board any and all ships on the premise that it has a blockade around Gaza?

I am pretty sure this is exactly what we and other countries do with ships bound to and from NoKo do. So, in at least one sense, yes, Israel or any other sovereign state can theoretically do this. The follow on question is whether it can be done with impunity.

Whether a blockade is an act of war or is short of war, imposing one carries with it the implied willingness to risk the ire of a country like Turkey that, unlike most other ME Muslim countries, has the legs to project force in a fairly firm way. Turkey now has a casus belli, which it can act on or not, as it sees fit.

As an aside, if a NATO flagged ship on a non-NATO mission assumes the risk of running a blockade or positioning itself to run a blockade, an attack on that ship is outside the treaty.

Second, are you saying that Israel is embargoing all food, medicine and building materials? Really? I'd missed that

No. Israel is blockading all of those materials, and then allowing in certain portions of food, medicine, fuel and cooking oil. Less than are necessary in each instance, such that malnutrition is occuring in pregnant women and children, anemia is on the rise, etc. Such that the hospitals are unable to provide adequate care. Such that there are rations and severe shortages of cooking oil and fuel.

No building materials at all, however, such that there is an accute housing crisis given all the damage of Cast Lead.

As UK mentioned, the prior post of mine ("Squalor Victoria") has some links/particulars.

So, to discourage a state actor from, say, building and deploying nuclear weapons, embargoing said state would be illegal because it would be collective punishment?

Almost certainly yes - depending on what you mean by "deploying." If you mean launching a nuke, how would you prove that? And how would you deter it by virtue of the blockade?

Or, to take an occasionally popular 'what if' from yesteryear: it was legal to nuke Japan to end WWII but blockading and starving it into submission would have been illegal because of the ban against collective punishment?

Was it legal to nuke Japan?

I've been pulled over for traffic violations before, and I can guarantee you that if I set upon an officer with a lead pipe and tried to wrestle away his/her gun, that officer's partner would draw down on me, and all hell would break loose.

This is a pretty far-fetched analogy, but if we want to try it on, I think the sheriff has to make his attempt to enforce the law by rapelling into your car from a helicopter, dressed as a ninja.

Hell might in fact break loose but it's not so clear to me who would be at fault.

There are protocols that navies and other coastal security forces use to stop ships at sea. In general, they are designed to reduce the likelihood of shooting, if possible, and increase the likelihood that nobody will get hurt.

I'm sure the IDF is aware of how to do that if they choose to.

This was an incredibly bone-headed act on the part of the Israelis. They could have achieved whatever useful goal they wanted to achieve without the "special ops" theater.

Their choice of tactics in this case strikes me as an exercise in demonstrating who has the bigger d**k.

There was never a question about whether Israel can dominate Gaza and the West Bank. They've been doing so for decades.

The question is whether they can find a way to live with the Palestinians. It's a tough question, because they both have real cause to hate each other. But nobody's going anywhere, so they better get their sh*t together and learn to deal in a constructive way.

This was a stupid, stupid stunt.

Israel is blockading all of those materials, and then allowing in certain portions of food, medicine, fuel and cooking oil. Less than are necessary in each instance, such that malnutrition is occuring in pregnant women and children, anemia is on the rise, etc. Such that the hospitals are unable to provide adequate care. Such that there are rations and severe shortages of cooking oil and fuel.

I did a quick check on your prior post. A man with WHO named Laurence makes claims to this effect. The problem is that divisive issues produce a variety of exaggerated claims on both sides. I should have been more precise: Is there a respectable and reasonably widespread consensus among more or less objective observers that this is the case?

Was it legal to nuke Japan?

Damn, I should have seen that one coming. Ok, nuking Japan and starving it into submission would have been illegal. Only a conventional invasion would pass legal muster.

I should have been more precise: Is there a respectable and reasonably widespread consensus among more or less objective observers that this is the case?

The WHO, the UN agencies involved in monitoring the situation (also linked to in that post), any and all Human Rights groups, members of the Israeli press etc.

What else do you want?

Damn, I should have seen that one coming. Ok, nuking Japan and starving it into submission would have been illegal. Only a conventional invasion would pass legal muster.

Well, it's a fair question at least, no?

Damn, I should have seen that one coming. Ok, nuking Japan and starving it into submission would have been illegal. Only a conventional invasion would pass legal muster.

Let's put it another way, and use one of your boundaries establishing hypos.

What if the US nuked 100 hundred Japanese cities? Would that have been illegal? If so, then what was the acceptable limit in your opinion?

Just want to point out that deliberately targeting civilians is kind of what we have beef with when it comes to "terrorists." So one has to distinguish our nuking of a city of civilians from, say, detonating a bomb in a shopping mall.

"The WHO, the UN agencies involved in monitoring the situation (also linked to in that post), any and all Human Rights groups, members of the Israeli press etc.

What else do you want?"

I think he would be satisfied if Netanyahu said the blockade was cruel, perhaps emitting an evil laugh as he did so.

Ok, nuking Japan and starving it into submission would have been illegal. Only a conventional invasion would pass legal muster.

There is no "legality" in international relations, just treaty agreements, and, for lack of a better word, international goodwill, something the Japanese in particular had run right out of by 1945.

Every sovereign nation is free to make its own way in this world, for good or ill.

The question should not be if an act is legal, but if it's right.

Might makes right, but occasionally right can assemble some might on its side, too.

The WHO, the UN agencies involved in monitoring the situation (also linked to in that post), any and all Human Rights groups, members of the Israeli press etc.

What else do you want?

Many of these organizations have demonstrated biases. I am generally skeptical of what I hear from either side in this conflict, and I am very skeptical of the UN generally.

But, you ask a fair question, "What else do you want?" Has the International Red Cross or perhaps Doctors Without Borders made a documented study? Either of these organizations would have to be taken seriously.

What if the US nuked 100 hundred Japanese cities? Would that have been illegal? If so, then what was the acceptable limit in your opinion?

Several points: First, there are reasoned hypotheticals and there is the reductio ad absurdum line of argument. Second, many things are legal but well not may be moral. Third, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki had militarily justifiable targets. I don't agree that civilians, to the exclusion of targets of military significance, were deliberately targeted (although it is a bit of a fine point, since the overall intent was to awe the Japanese into surrendering and obliterating an entire city--or two--to make that happen was exactly what was intended). That said, you raise a point about which which we never have had a national conversation, which was the strategic bombing campaign in WWII which was carried on with seemingly minimal concern for civilian casualties.

Destroying civilian infrastructure was just as much against the Hague Conventions as killing civilians themselves.

What was abhorrent in 1940 was de-facto in 1945. The Japanese were in no position to bring their case to court for redress, since the US *was* the court, and Japan had no friends.

The Kuwait state had friends in 1990, which is why it was able to reoccupy its emirate after said friends booted Saddam out.

Israel is in a similar boat as Kuwait. It has to do keep its supporters from hitting the "unfriend" button.

It is a tricky challenge, one I expect it will lose this century.

Doctors Without Borders doesn't do studies. They are a volunteer organization who provide emergency care. So, at higher levels of pay, is the Red Cross (which in any case, does not work in Gaza; the Red Crescent does. But I'm sure they wouldn't be an acceptable source for you).

The World Health Organization is the completely appropriate body to measure population health: they are permanent, paid, long-term, have the requisite expertise, and can gain the access necessary to do valid measurements.

Face facts, McK.Tx: Gazans are being starved and their economy shattered. Our government is backing it all the way.

Q&A: Is Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza legal? (Reuters)

CAN ISRAEL IMPOSE A NAVAL BLOCKADE ON GAZA?

Yes it can, according to the law of blockade which was derived from customary international law and codified in the 1909 Declaration of London. It was updated in 1994 in a legally recognized document called the “San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea.”
...
“On the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade is legal,” said Philip Roche, partner in the shipping disputes and risk management team with law firm Norton Rose.
...
Under the law of a blockade, intercepting a vessel could apply globally so long as a ship is bound for a “belligerent” territory, legal experts say.
...
“While the full facts need to emerge from a credible and transparent investigation, from what is known now, it appears that Israel acted within its legal rights,” said J. Peter Pham, a strategic adviser to U.S. and European governments.

On the basis that Hamas is the ruling entity of Gaza and Israel is in the midst of an armed struggle against that ruling entity, the blockade is legal,” said Philip Roche

Then Gazan fighters captured by the IDF must be considered and treated as prisoners of war. Is Israel prepared to do that?

I thought not.

"stop and search" is the name of the blockade enforcement procedure. Typically a warship will approach the subject vessel, and request that it stop, so that it can be boarded and have its documentation and cargo manifests examined. If there is the suspicion that the ship is carrying contraband, the ship is impounded and the cargo inspected. If no contraband is found, the ship is allowed to proceed.

When a ship is in a declared exclusion zone, or national waters, and it fails to obey the request to stop, the warship may fire warning shots, and ultimately fire to disable the ship. Most ship captains will stop well before that happens.

The problem for Israel is that they most likely knew what was on the ship, but didn't want to look bad by letting it through. So Israel looks better now?

Alas, I was traveling today so I couldn't respond earlier.

if the Israelis had contributed even a single soldier or whatever, the entire undertaking in either arena would have been permanently tainted in the Muslim world even more so than it was already.

I specifically spoke about Afghanistan. I'm not sure why you want to drag Iraq into the mix. I guess if the only way you can argue against my point is to pretend I argued a far broader point, then that's what you have to do....

Not a single Muslim country would have supported, expressly or tacitly, either action if Israel had played even the slightest role.

Check out this list of countries supporting the US in Afghanistan. It seems like 1.8% of total forces were from Arab or Muslim majority nations. So, even if you're correct, I don't see a huge problem here. Israel is a highly militarized state -- surely it could contribute significantly more (both in numbers and effectiveness) than the token force that Turkey, Jordan and the UAE managed to send.

Of course, I'm not sure why we should assume you're correct. You haven't demonstrated significant understanding of the Arab or Islamic world. I'm sure you're very skilled at repeating pablum you've heard idiots on CNN mutter, but that doesn't translate into understanding. In any event, the dominant characteristic of the people we've allied ourselves with in Afghanistan seems to be the willingness to do or say anything for money, including raping boys to death, so I wouldn't be terribly shocked if the presence of Israelis wouldn't bother them.

involving Israel in any US-sponsored military operation anywhere would have the same effect.

Really? So the war would fall apart if Israeli military physicians operated a trauma center in Kabul or Kandahar? We would lose instantly if Israeli truck drivers drove convoys or provided perimeter security at Baghram air base? Is that your claim? Would the world end if Israeli pilots flew missions from Afghanistan air bases? Or are we to believe that Afgani forces choose which combat aircraft to fire upon based on the religious beliefs of their pilots?

I have a news flash for you: people in the Arab and Islamic world who don't like Israel already think that we're tied at the hip to them. The mere absence of Israeli forces in Afghanistan does not change any minds on this score. These people are not stupid. They're not two years old. You can't make them forget the very special relationship we have with Israel just by draping a cloth over the Israeli military. Peekaboo doesn't work on adults.

Also, since the US has substantial military commitments in other countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan, I don't see any reason why Israel could not have deployed forces to those places that would have freed up American soldiers. Do you really think that the Japanese would be enraged to see Israeli soldiers patrolling the base at Okinawa instead of Americans? Would Germans go insane upon seeing Israeli soldiers working at Landstuhl? American soldiers freed up from those bases could augment our forces in Afghanistan.

The Arab world won't even buy Israeli hardware;

Would you? If you were a military leader in a country that had fought Israel, would you honestly trust that military equipment purchased from Israel would not be sabotaged? Are you surprised to hear that the American government does not purchase military equipment from the Soviet Union?

anyone who imagines that they'd in any way tolerate Israeli feet in boots in an Islamic country is utterly daft.

Can you cite any actual experts on the middle east who back this claim? I'm not saying your wrong, and I recognize that this belief is widely shared among ignorant American media and political elites, but I'd prefer to see a source from someone like Juan Cole who has actual expertise.

Nell, just FYI, the Red Cross and Red Crescent are the same organization. Technically, each country has its own organization, of course. But they all are part of one umbrella organization -- including both Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations. The name is slightly different, due to obvious cultural differences -- but it's the same folks.

As for Israeli intent in the blockade:

Israel's policy was summed up by Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, earlier this year. 'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,' he said. The hunger pangs are supposed to encourage the Palestinians to force Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel or force Hamas out of government.
---
The ships were inspected before leaving Cyprus and the boarding passengers underwent a procedure like an airport security check in order to prevent them from carrying weapons. To my knowledge Israel has until now not presented any firearm that was not brought on board by their own people. Slingshots can be deadly but the type and ammo (glass marbles) found would be pretty useless against elite commandos. Everything else was household items that one could expect on any vessel beyond lifeboat size.
---
As for Japan, the US leadership was well aware that deliberately bombing civilians was formally illegal* but as we all know no one cared anymore. Under that aspect the firebombing of Tokyo and the nuking of Hiroshima/Nagasaki were equal. What in my opinion crossed the line were two things
1) It was a deliberate test on human guinea pigs. Those responsible were at times honest enough to admit that the 'military nature' of the targets was nothing but a smokescreen
2) The target audience was as far as we can tell less Japan but the Soviet leadership.
From all what I have read I have to conclude that the use of the nukes was rushed because of those two reasons and could easily have been postponed for some time. In hindsight this decision might have saved mankind from a large scale nuclear war later but that does not exonerate those making the decision since that was not their purpose.

*cf. McNamara's famous quote that the only thing that prevented him and his colleagues from being treated as war criminals was that the US won.

"2) The target audience was as far as we can tell less Japan but the Soviet leadership."

I disagree with this assertion. The head decision-maker of Japan had this to say about the event at the time:

"The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization."

I do agree that the a-bomb was "tested" on Hiroshima, in that our conventional B-29 force could have leveled the city that week, since they were reduced to bombing the rubble of all other strategic targets by then. I don't consider this a black-mark against the USAAF, tho, as I can't condemn people for making the same decisions I would make at the same time & place.

"The problem for Israel is that they most likely knew what was on the ship, but didn't want to look bad by letting it through. So Israel looks better now?"

The problem for Israel is that they CAN'T just let ships through, AND maintain a blockade. And if they end the blockade, the ships damned well will be loaded with munitions.

It's pretty much in the nature of a successful blockade that almost all the ships you stop and search are not going to be carrying munitions. Rather like people don't speed through a speed trap while being paced by a cop car.

So, yeah, I expect THIS ship didn't carry munitions. It's aim was to break the blockade, so later ships could carry munitions.

It's aim was to break the blockade, so later ships could carry munitions.

got any evidence to back that up?

The good ship Rachel Corrie is due to run the blockade in a few hours or days. We'll see if Israel can come up with a more photogenic methods of stopping ships in that time.

The cargo from the recent confrontation has already begun to arrive in Gaza, but Hamas is refusing to accept it. Is anybody intelligent, anywhere?

My own theory is that both sides should be given lots of higher-quality video cameras. I think both sides may hesitate to hit first if lots of cameras are rolling. Who knows, peace may break out.

Mass death in the Middle East, I can feel the outrage...

According to Israel, the blockade is for the elimination of military shipments and the reduction of economic shipments.

A blockade is legal act of war. It is not a peaceful act. Acts of war are not nice. Hamas and Israel are at war. Running a blockade is also an act of war. Pretending to be civilian while fighting off the blockaders (even with sticks and knives) is probably illegal, but we won't get any ruling on that.

If the blockade runners are determined to get killed, can Israel actually keep them alive while enforcing the blockade? That is, is it technically possible?

According to Israel, the blockade is for the elimination of military shipments and the reduction of economic shipments.

Right, we all agree that Israeli is engaging in terrorism: it is attempting to coerce political change by using the threat of violence to economically strangle Gaza.

A blockade is legal act of war.

Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. I mean, the police can legally kill you. Sometimes. Depending on the context. You need to consider the details. So blanket statements like this are useless.

Hamas and Israel are at war.

So Hamas prisoners held by Israel are POWs?

Running a blockade is also an act of war.

Wrong. Running a legal blockade might be an act of war. You have failed to show that this blockade is legal.

Pretending to be civilian while fighting off the blockaders (even with sticks and knives) is probably illegal, but we won't get any ruling on that.

Civilians are permitted to fight off forces engaging in an illegal blockade. There need be no pretense.

Brett:

Ships that are not carrying contraband are allowed to proceed. In a blockade, Israel retains the right to stop and search any ship headed to Gaza. What it does not have the right to do is to prevent ships that are not carrying contraband from proceeding to Gaza. See the difference?

What turbo said at 8:59.

According to Israel, the blockade is for the elimination of military shipments and the reduction of economic shipments.

Reduction of economic shipments is one of those insidious euphemisms isn't it.

Many of these organizations have demonstrated biases. I am generally skeptical of what I hear from either side in this conflict, and I am very skeptical of the UN generally.

The WHO has a demonstrated bias? Do you have links?

Regardless, the Israeli government itself sets the quotas on fuel, food, medicine and cooking oil.

Their stated quotas fall below internationally recognizes minimums - standards that were in place before the blockade (query: is it biased to hold Israel to generally accepted, pre-existing standards?).

Is the Israeli government lying to hurt Israel? What about Hartmut's quote:

"Israel's policy was summed up by Dov Weisglass, an adviser to Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, earlier this year. 'The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,' he said. The hunger pangs are supposed to encourage the Palestinians to force Hamas to change its attitude towards Israel or force Hamas out of government."

Regardless, by all means be skeptical of claims by "either side." But HRW and WHO are not on a side. Neither is the UN.

Further, refer to independent, non-biased think tanks like the ICG.

"A blockade is legal act of war. It is not a peaceful act. Acts of war are not nice. "

A blockade is an act of war, and from this we can conclude that Israel never honored the ceasefire in 2008, because they never lifted the blockade as they were supposed to.

Pretending to be civilian while fighting off the blockaders (even with sticks and knives) is probably illegal, but we won't get any ruling on that.

Pretending? If someone breaks into my house, and I grab a baseball bat, am I no longer a civilian? At what point does grabbing a club render you a...soldier?

not just a soldier, Eric: a terrorist !

Have Americans really completely lost track of the fact that civilians are entitled to resist when attacked by enemy soldiers?

Granted, that resistance may get them killed. But if you're on your own territory, and a foreign soldier attacks you, you have the right to fight back.

That Americans do not understand this is possibly because the wars the US have engaged in within living memory, the Americans involved have always been the foreign soldiers, never the defending civilians.

wj: they all are part of one umbrella organization -- including both Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations. The name is slightly different, due to obvious cultural differences -- but it's the same folks.

You're absolutely right about the umbrella organization, but they're not the same people on the ground.

In the context, which was McKinney in Texas' question about a International Red Cross study of the health effects of the blockade, the substance of my answer is the same, because in the hypothetical event of the ICRC conducting a study, it would be Red Crescent personnel providing the data. Someone who refuses to accept WHO findings wouldn't be likely to accept Red Crescent documentation, either.

Neither is the UN.

lol.

If someone breaks into my house

This is where you lose me. This whole "house" stuff is simply ridiculous. Houses don't move towards blockades. Closest thing I can think of is a full-time RV'er trying to drive through a police roadblock and them claiming self defense when the police try to apprehend him inside his "home."

And if we are going to invoke the Castle Doctrine, which one do we adopt? The one where you have a duty to retreat before using lethal force? Simply doesn't apply.

Their stated quotas fall below internationally recognizes minimums - standards that were in place before the blockade (query: is it biased to hold Israel to generally accepted, pre-existing standards?).

I think that was true right after the IDF withdrew. Is that true now? Israel claims they are providing exactly the "internationally recognized minimums." I don't know if that is true or not, but I haven't seen anything to the contrary.

The WHO has a demonstrated bias? Do you have links?

Yeah, I thought the WHO's report of the specialized health mission was biased in the description of the situation, if not in the actual description of the medical needs.

got any evidence to back that up?

Cleek: do you really think that Iran wouldn't ship munitions in quantity if the blockade were lifted? Even if I accept that the blockade goes to far, isn't the proof obvious? Hamas seeks to import munitions at every opportunity.

If you are speaking about just this flotilla, my understanding is that the organizer, IHH, has provided weapons and money for terrorist organizations in the past and is a overt supporter of Hamas. Do I need anything more to connect the dots?

Eric, if you get a chance, I'm curious if you have any thoughts on my 12:07 comment.

lol.

Links?

Closest thing I can think of is a full-time RV'er trying to drive through a police roadblock and them claiming self defense when the police try to apprehend him inside his "home."

Well, you'd have to add that, instead of following normal required protocol, armed SWAT agents rapelled down into the RV before the RV was even in the particular officers' jurisdiction.

In which case, still civilians. Actually, in either case, still civilians.

I think that was true right after the IDF withdrew. Is that true now? Israel claims they are providing exactly the "internationally recognized minimums." I don't know if that is true or not, but I haven't seen anything to the contrary.

The UN and WHO both say otherwise. If given a choice between neutral third parties, and the Israeli government, I'd go with the former.

Yeah, I thought the WHO's report of the specialized health mission was biased in the description of the situation, if not in the actual description of the medical needs.

1. What does this even mean?
2. Do you have any evidence other than your own thoughts?

Cleek: do you really think that Iran wouldn't ship munitions in quantity if the blockade were lifted? Even if I accept that the blockade goes to far, isn't the proof obvious? Hamas seeks to import munitions at every opportunity.

Entirely beside the point. Israel does not have to severely restrict food, medicine, fuel, cooking oil and building materials. It can, and I would completely agree with a decision to, prohibit arms shipments. Even by blockade. It is the "diet" that I object to.

If you are speaking about just this flotilla, my understanding is that the organizer, IHH, has provided weapons and money for terrorist organizations in the past and is a overt supporter of Hamas. Do I need anything more to connect the dots?

Yes, you need actual evidence of this beyond mere assertion. Links please?

has provided weapons and money for terrorist organizations in the past

Why is this a problem? The whole Israeli plan of using violence to effect economic strangulation so as to coerce political changes in Gaza is terrorism. Yet we support Israel. Can you explain why our support of Israeli terrorism is legitimate while support for non-Israeli terrorism is illegitimate?

I specifically spoke about Afghanistan. I'm not sure why you want to drag Iraq into the mix.

Fair enough. The "after 9/11" timeline seemed to include Iraq, but you are right that you specifically referenced Afghanistan, didn't mention Iraq, and that this was a misreading on our part.

Check out this list of countries supporting the US in Afghanistan. It seems like 1.8% of total forces were from Arab or Muslim majority nations. So, even if you're correct, I don't see a huge problem here. Israel is a highly militarized state -- surely it could contribute significantly more (both in numbers and effectiveness) than the token force that Turkey, Jordan and the UAE managed to send.

Regardless of the troops contributed by Muslim nations, Israel's involvement would have been HIGHLY, and I mean HIGHLY, inflammatory. It would have created significant resistance in Afghanistan itself, and would have been EXTREMELY unpopular in the Muslim world - backing up Osama's "narrative" to a tee.

If the US asked, Israel would have given troops as it usually offers anyway. I would bet a bottle of single malt that they offered in Afghanistan as well. However, following through would have been a terrible strategic blunder, and even Bush's team could see that.

Really? So the war would fall apart if Israeli military physicians operated a trauma center in Kabul or Kandahar? We would lose instantly if Israeli truck drivers drove convoys or provided perimeter security at Baghram air base? Is that your claim? Would the world end if Israeli pilots flew missions from Afghanistan air bases? Or are we to believe that Afgani forces choose which combat aircraft to fire upon based on the religious beliefs of their pilots?

Any Israeli involvement would be pounced upon and exaggerated. Heck, even the use of Israeli bullets in Iraq when we ran shortages became a symbolic issue.

I have a news flash for you: people in the Arab and Islamic world who don't like Israel already think that we're tied at the hip to them. The mere absence of Israeli forces in Afghanistan does not change any minds on this score. These people are not stupid. They're not two years old. You can't make them forget the very special relationship we have with Israel just by draping a cloth over the Israeli military. Peekaboo doesn't work on adults.

No, but I think you are grossly underestimating the impact of actual armed collaboration. I mean, the same argument would apply to Iraq - why not use Israeli forces because people already know about our alliance. Knowledge is one thing, but there are provocative actions that can inflame regardless.

Also, since the US has substantial military commitments in other countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan, I don't see any reason why Israel could not have deployed forces to those places that would have freed up American soldiers. Do you really think that the Japanese would be enraged to see Israeli soldiers patrolling the base at Okinawa instead of Americans? Would Germans go insane upon seeing Israeli soldiers working at Landstuhl? American soldiers freed up from those bases could augment our forces in Afghanistan.

But the point, misguided as it is, is that we need American forces in those regions. It is about American force projection. Further, there is actually a possibility that some of those countries - with less favorable ties to Israel - could object. Regardless, though, this is besides the point: the US doesn't use foreign nationals on these bases because there are basing rights issues, and the whole point is to keep US forces in these regions - not keep the bases manned with bodies.

Finally, it's not as if the US asked and Israel refused.

Can you cite any actual experts on the middle east who back this claim? I'm not saying your wrong, and I recognize that this belief is widely shared among ignorant American media and political elites, but I'd prefer to see a source from someone like Juan Cole who has actual expertise.

Turb, are you really saying that there would be zero difference in attitudes in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan if US troops were being replaced by Israeli forces? I understand that, technically, you're not disputing this and merely asking for a link, but I think we can all stipulate.

do you really think that Iran wouldn't ship munitions in quantity if the blockade were lifted?

Does anyone here object if Israel prevents weapons from entering Gaza?

Show of hands, please. Any hands up?

Israel is preventing fresh foods, building materials, cloth, fishing poles, and an apparently bewildering variety of other materials from being brought into Gaza. They're doing so to punish the Gazans for electing Hamas to political leadership, and to "encourage" them to throw Hamas out.

A plan that is, no doubt, guaranteed to work, because it has of course worked every other time anybody else has tried to bully a population into tossing the political leadership they've chosen to the curb.

To my knowledge, there were no guns or other weapons on these ships. That fact could easily have been discovered had the Israelis peacefully stopped the ships, boarded them, and inspected them.

Instead, they opted for the Rambo movie approach. Their guys got the crap beaten out of them, and a bunch of civilians were killed.

Munitions for Gaza are not the point here. The US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not only not the point, it's so far from the point that it's on another planet. Police invasions of people's homes and/or Sheriff Barney Fife's stopping of anybody for traffic violations are not the point.

Israel's blockade of Gaza is meant to deprive them not only of weapons, but of anything beyond the bare necessities of survival. Those, and frozen freaking salmon, which I'm sure is a staple of the Palestinian diet.

People are not allowed to leave to seek needed medical care except on a case-by-case basis. Israel will invade Gaza to seek out and kill people it deems terrorists at will, and will incur whatever collateral civilian casualties it feels it needs to in order to do so.

Gaza is f***ed.

Some people tried to break the blockade to deliver non-military materials. The Israelis could have stopped the ships in the same reasonable, measured way that ships are stopped each and every day everywhere around the world, and conducted a proper search and inspection.

They chose to play cowboy. It blew up in their faces, because they half-assed it. And now they, along with the rest of the players, are going to bog themselves down in weeks of he said/she said propagandistic fingerpointing bullshit. The people who live in Gaza are going to continue to be royally screwed, and some small handful of them are going to try to kill Israelis if they can find a way to do it.

And the interests of the US in all of this are going to go right down the toilet with the rest of the mess.

Were there any guns on those ships? No? Then guns are not the issue.

The issue is Israel's intransigence -- it's bloody-minded, stupid, stubborn refusal to recognize that the Palestinians are people, who have a claim to Palestine as much as Israel does, and who aren't going anywhere.

Israel's inability to deal fairly and justly with the Palestinians is turning them into a bullying oppressor. That's not what they started out trying to be.

And they're dragging us and our interests down with them.

(stands and applauds russell)

You win the internet Sir.

Regardless of the troops contributed by Muslim nations, Israel's involvement would have been HIGHLY, and I mean HIGHLY, inflammatory.

What does that mean precisely? By using vague terms like inflammatory, you avoid making any concrete predictions and so your argument is irrefutable. Are you saying that there exist a significant number of Taliban forces that were unwilling to engage American forces but would have changed their mind if they heard that an Israeli combat medic was in the country? Are you saying that the Northern Alliance would have refused to fight?

Look, the current power base in Afghanistan enjoys raping children. People in Afghanistan know that. And they put up with it. Because human beings everywhere know that people in power are usually monsters. I'm having trouble seeing how the presence of a few Israeli doctors or pilots changes their perspective. I mean, after Dilwar, how much further can we sink in their eyes?

It would have created significant resistance in Afghanistan itself, and would have been EXTREMELY unpopular in the Muslim world - backing up Osama's "narrative" to a tee.

Do you mean that pro-Taliban forces would have fought us harder? I was under the impression that the problem they faced was a lack of capabilities rather than insufficient motivation. And would it have been more unpopular in the Muslim world than, say, invading Iraq? And even if was unpopular, so what? What problem does that cause exactly?

We've already proven Osama's narrative: we will stand by Israel no matter what and we will invade Muslim nations and kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims for no reason. That's all true. Everyone knows that because it is true. Israeli soldiers in Afghanistan can't do anything to prove it further.

If the US asked, Israel would have given troops as it usually offers anyway.

Um, why should we believe that? Is there any evidence to support this belief or is this just wishful thinking? As far as I know, Israel does not contribute soldiers to UN missions. That's why they did nothing to help stop the genocide in Rwanda even though the UN mission was begging for more soldiers. So I don't see any reason to assume that they were desperate to help....I do find it vaguely hilarious that Israel, a militarily powerful nation founded in response to genocide, can't be bothered to lift a finger to stop an actual genocide. I suppose "never again" was meant ironically.

I would bet a bottle of single malt that they offered in Afghanistan as well.

Making an offer that you know for certain will be rejected doesn't actually mean much. In any event, do you have any cites for an offer being made? Because if you don't, I think we must assume that no offer was ever made.

I think you are grossly underestimating the impact of actual armed collaboration. I mean, the same argument would apply to Iraq

Are you certain that the Afghan populace would mentally cast doctors performing surgery on American soldiers and wounded civilians as "armed collaboration"? Forgive me, but I have trouble believing that some white Americans can accurately predict Afghani sensibilities on such a detailed matter.

Iraq seems very different. There's a history of direct warfare with Israel that Afghanistan lacks. There's the resource curse and pan-Arab nationalism issues that make Iraq sensitive colonialism in a way that Afghanistan isn't. Iraq was an urbanized society with a central government pushing propaganda for decades while Afghanistan is far more decentralized. These are very different societies so I would not expect that you can just translate the argument to Iraq without altering its correctness.

Finally, it's not as if the US asked and Israel refused.

Real friends usually offer to help without having to be asked.

Turb, are you really saying that there would be zero difference in attitudes in, say, Iraq or Afghanistan if US troops were being replaced by Israeli forces? I understand that, technically, you're not disputing this and merely asking for a link, but I think we can all stipulate.

Many nonzero differences are not significant. What I'm saying is that this concerns me: "everyone" just "knows" that this would be a huge problem. But "everyone" seems to consist of white Americans who don't actually know much about the culture in Afghanistan. This reminds me of the Iraq debate circa 2002. In general, when Americans pontificate with great certainty about how people from alien cultures think, they're often wrong.

Look, Afghanistan is not the Arab world. Although Islamist forces fought the Soviets there, that doesn't mean that Afghans share Arab views regarding Israel in every way. These are people with a different culture. It seems at least possible to me that tribal views regarding hospitality and enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend might dominate, to say nothing of "the doctor that saved my kid's life is cool".

Look at it this way: you find this notion to be self-evident. Since it so trivially obvious, you should have no difficulty at all finding some expert who is willing to agree with you.

It is the "diet" that I object to.

fair enough. I don't agree with starving people either. Economic sanctions, fine. I'm not convinced people are starving, but if they are, I have a problem with that.

But when you say it's "entirely beside the point" you are being naive. The entire point was to open the blockade not for truly humanitarian reasons but for weapons. Why is Hamas refusing the aid now?

Links?

you're the blogger, not me. I don't have the time to produce a thousand links re the UN's bias with respect to Israel.

Yeah, I thought the WHO's report...

1. What does this even mean?
2. Do you have any evidence other than your own thoughts?

Bias is often subjective and is therefore an opinion. IMHO, this report is indicative of bias. It speaks of the negative mental health consequences of the IDF actions without comment on the mental health consequences of launching rockets near schools, hospitals, etc. with the intent to kill neighbors. It doesn't mention (from what I read) the mental health consequences on southern Israel. Just one small example.

Yes, you need actual evidence of this beyond mere assertion. Links please?

Google IHH. Lots of stuff easily obtainable.

using violence to effect economic strangulation

This is rich. So enforcing economic sanctions now becomes terrorism? Giving advance warning that you are going to board a boat to enforce a blockage is terrorism?

Munitions for Gaza are not the point here.

It is the point. Every loosening of the blockage has resulted in more munitions getting in.

And, as a former Alaskan, I'm not clear on your salmon note. I understand that a lot of frozen salmon HAS been getting in.

This is rich. So enforcing economic sanctions now becomes terrorism?

Terrorism is the use of violence or threats of violence against civilians to coerce political change. Using violence to enforce economic sanctions designed to coerce political change certainly can be terrorism. Which part do you not agree with?

Giving advance warning that you are going to board a boat to enforce a blockage is terrorism?

I never said that.

What does that mean precisely? By using vague terms like inflammatory, you avoid making any concrete predictions and so your argument is irrefutable. Are you saying that there exist a significant number of Taliban forces that were unwilling to engage American forces but would have changed their mind if they heard that an Israeli combat medic was in the country? Are you saying that the Northern Alliance would have refused to fight?

I'm saying that it would have inspired an influx of more foreign fighters, and would have alienated non-Talib or Northern Alliance Afghans. I don't think those are even remotely controversial notions.

Look, the current power base in Afghanistan enjoys raping children. People in Afghanistan know that. And they put up with it. Because human beings everywhere know that people in power are usually monsters. I'm having trouble seeing how the presence of a few Israeli doctors or pilots changes their perspective. I mean, after Dilwar, how much futher can we sink in their eyes?

There is always farther to sink, and I reject that thinking in general. It is used by neocons as well to try to explain away horrendous policies: they hates us before the policy, they'll hate us anyway, so what's the difference.

The scope and intensity of opposition, anger and radicalization are always important.

Also, as mentioned above, the audience is not just Afghans. Foreign fighters, potential self-starter terrorists, etc, are also the audience. The presence of Israeli troops could and likely would radicalize a certain segment of youth and inspire them to fight.

In addition, we're talking about "before Dilwar" not after. And you mention a few? I thought you were talking about more than that. Regardless, even a few would be exaggerated and blown out of proportion, such that a few would be treated as more.

Real friends usually offer to help without having to be asked.

And Israel has offered over and over and over again. Getting Israel to offer military support is NOT a problem in an otherwise dysfunctional relationship.

In any event, do you have any cites for an offer being made? Because if you don't, I think we must assume that no offer was ever made.

This is more or less irrelevant. And we can change the stakes of the wager if you prefer. It was careless on my part.

Do you mean that pro-Taliban forces would have fought us harder? I was under the impression that the problem they faced was a lack of capabilities rather than insufficient motivation. And would it have been more unpopular in the Muslim world than, say, invading Iraq? And even if was unpopular, so what? What problem does that cause exactly?

See above. Not just Taliban, foreign fighters and radicalization fo terrorists - both valid and legitimate concerns. Also, further alienation of the Arab public/Muslim public.

Look, if you look at opinion polls, the US was unpopular in many such nations pre-Bush, but popularity since plummeted. Those things matter. I don't buy the argument that they don't. If such attitudes don't matter, then why should we care if we commit atrocities?

We've already proven Osama's narrative: we will stand by Israel no matter what and we will invade Muslim nations and kill hundreds of thousands of Muslims for no reason. That's all true. Everyone knows that because it is true. Israeli soldiers in Afghanistan can't do anything to prove it further.

The Christian/Zionist crusader part.

Um, why should we believe that? Is there any evidence to support this belief or is this just wishful thinking?

Yes, there is an enormous amount of evidence about Israeli offers of troops to the US (see, ie, both Iraq wars). Reams of evidence. If Israel is willing to offer troops on numerous occasions, one would assumee that they would be willing to do so again.

It defies logic to say: "Sure, Israel was offernig troops for two prior wars, but it is extremely unlikely they would do so for that other war because...well, because.

Are you certain that the Afghan populace would mentally cast doctors performing surgery on American soldiers and wounded civilians as "armed collaboration"? Forgive me, but I have trouble believing that some white Americans can accurately predict Afghani sensibilities on such a detailed matter.

White? Huh? First of all, I made no such prediction. Second, Afghans are not the only audience. Third, there would be exaggeration. Fourth, at various times, you have talked about more than just doctors.

Iraq seems very different. There's a history of direct warfare with Israel that Afghanistan lacks. There's the resource curse and pan-Arab nationalism issues that make Iraq sensitive colonialism in a way that Afghanistan isn't. Iraq was an urbanized society with a central government pushing propaganda for decades while Afghanistan is far more decentralized. These are very different societies so I would not expect that you can just translate the argument to Iraq without altering its correctness.

Are you saying that Afghanistan is less sensitive to colonialism? Again, regardless, the audience is not just Afghans.

Look at it this way: you find this notion to be self-evident. Since it so trivially obvious, you should have no difficulty at all finding some expert who is willing to agree with you.

I would ask the same of you. Find me an expert that thinks sending Israeli soldiers to Afghanistan would be a smart move all around.

Why is Hamas refusing the aid now?

From what I've read, it is a protest until the prisoners/deceased are released. It most defintely is not an indication that they have too much food, medicine, etc.

you're the blogger, not me. I don't have the time to produce a thousand links re the UN's bias with respect to Israel.

Huh? Bloggers don't have access to links above and beyond commenters on blogs.

Bias is often subjective and is therefore an opinion.

No, bias is an objective phenomenon.

IMHO, this report is indicative of bias. It speaks of the negative mental health consequences of the IDF actions without comment on the mental health consequences of launching rockets near schools, hospitals, etc. with the intent to kill neighbors. It doesn't mention (from what I read) the mental health consequences on southern Israel. Just one small example.

The report was about the effects of the blockade. It is not about the effects of prior rocket attacks. That is a ridiculous criteria to establish for detecting bias. This is not an actual example.

Worse still, it doesn't sugges that the WHO report is itself wrong. Just that it didn't look at other matters as well.

Google IHH. Lots of stuff easily obtainable.

I can't find any that seem credible.

I can't find any that seem credible.

But it's on the internets so it must be true!

The entire point was to open the blockade not for truly humanitarian reasons but for weapons.

So you say. I'm trying to understand how that makes any kind of sense.

What was on these boats? Lumber? Beans? T-shirts?

How would the delivery of those items to Gaza enable other folks to get weapons through? How would it prevent Israel from keeping weapons out in the future?

There was no, absolutely no, necessity for Israel to engage in a stupid commando raid to stop the ships, inspect their cargo, and ensure their own safety. None.

Nobody needed to die here.

Why is Hamas refusing the aid now?

Because they're belligerent ideologues who know how to hate and kill other folks and generally be royally pissed off, but who have not the first idea about how to govern responsibly.

That would be my guess.

And, as a former Alaskan, I'm not clear on your salmon note.

It's just a comment on the absurdity of what the Israelis are allowing in, and not allowing in.

Coriander, no. Frozen salmon, yes.

The blockade is about send a great big "F*** you" to the Gazans, and to anyone who dares to question the Israelis' right to kick the Gazans around as they wish.

I don't know what the point of the commando raid was, exactly. I'm not sure what the Israelis thought it would achieve.

What I, personally, take away from it is that Israel is determined to f**k with anyone who crosses them, using whatever means they like, and the rest of the world can be damned. This is not a particularly isolated incident, it's a message they send over, and over, and over again.

I'm not really interested in supporting that kind of behavior.

I'm saying that it would have inspired an influx of more foreign fighters, and would have alienated non-Talib or Northern Alliance Afghans. I don't think those are even remotely controversial notions.

I find them controversial. More foreign fighters is not necessarily a problem: most foreign fighters bring no skills. In any event, given how few foreign fighters there were to begin with, a marginal increase from a small number still leaves you with an insignificant force, yes? Such an insignificant change could easily be swamped by the addition of high-skilled Israelis, even assuming that it happened in the first place.

And what precise form would this alienation have taken? Do you really think that non-Talib and Northern Alliance forces would have said "eh, I'm alienated by the presence of Israelis, so I'm going to sit this one out...I don't really want to seize power anyway..."? Seriously, what does alienation mean: what concrete results does alienation produce?

Also, as mentioned above, the audience is not just Afghans. Foreign fighters, potential self-starter terrorists, etc, are also the audience. The presence of Israeli troops could and likely would radicalize a certain segment of youth and inspire them to fight.

It seems like you're expanding the scope of your argument to cover all sorts of non-Afghans while refusing to justify any of your claims about Afghans. This strategy is certainly...novel. Again, I don't find these claims about foreign fighters to be persuasive: Americans have consistently exaggerated the quantity and significance of foreign fighters; data-free claims about the foreign fighter menace just over the horizon are not very persuasive.

See above. Not just Taliban, foreign fighters and radicalization fo terrorists - both valid and legitimate concerns. Also, further alienation of the Arab public/Muslim public.

The Arab/Muslim public already believe that we will support Israel no matter what they do. They are convinced of this. We can't convince them any further. They know that Israel kills Palestinians with American weapons -- in their eyes, the Israeli and American armies

I don't buy the argument that they don't.

This is very binary thinking: things either matter or don't matter. Maybe some things matter to a degree? And I don't think public opinion polls of other countries are the proper baseline: we're talking about a country that we invaded. People whose country is being invaded are going to be predisposed to despise their invaders. No matter what. Starting from that baseline, the question is how much more would they despise us if there were some Israeli soldiers on the ground.

If such attitudes don't matter, then why should we care if we commit atrocities?

Um, because committing atrocities is morally wrong? Do you need me to draw a picture?

The Christian/Zionist crusader part.

But America is a Christian nation. And it is in fact committed to Zionism. This isn't even remotely controversial. And both the US and Israel do really invade and occupy Muslim-majority places. This is all true. And people believe it right now.


Yes, there is an enormous amount of evidence about Israeli offers of troops to the US (see, ie, both Iraq wars).

I was asking about Israeli offers during the Afghanistan war.

Reams of evidence.

Alas, I do not see it. Where would I find it?

If Israel is willing to offer troops on numerous occasions, one would assumee that they would be willing to do so again.

Look, you can't have it both ways. You can't say "everyone knows that the US will never ever ever accept Israeli soldiers into their coalition" while at the same time trying to infer that Israel was totally willing to help out because they made offers. Offers made with certain knowledge of their rejection do not allow you to infer anything about the country making the offer. Either it is not crazy to believe that Israel might participate in the coalition OR their offer tells us nothing about their support: these are mutually exclusive possibilities.

It defies logic to say: "Sure, Israel was offernig troops for two prior wars, but it is extremely unlikely they would do so for that other war because...well, because.

No it doesn't. It seems to me that Israeli participation in Afghanistan was far more plausible than Israeli participation in Iraq (I or II).

And you still haven't wrestled with this key fact: Israel does not participate in cooperative military missions abroad. Not even to stop genocide. Israel just doesn't use its military to help other states. Given that fact, the baseline really must be that Israel would not offer us help.

First of all, I made no such prediction. Second, Afghans are not the only audience. Third, there would be exaggeration. Fourth, at various times, you have talked about more than just doctors.

If Afghans wouldn't care, then it seems like it would have benefited everyone to have at least Israeli army medical units in place. There is a pretty severe shortage of combat surgeons and nurses IIRC. If nothing else, having a bunch of doctors walking about certainly would have helped COIN operations. As for exaggeration, well, there is exaggeration right now. Do you really think Taliban forces are refraining from claiming Zionist control of the US and/or Zionist forces are in country? And sure, if you'd like to argue that active combat Israeli combat patrols with extensive Afghan interactions would be a disaster but more circumspect Israeli help (say limited to large bases) would have been OK, I'm willing to consider that argument; it strikes me as plausible. But if we have that discussion, you have to admit that Israel could have offered serious help but chose not to.

Are you saying that Afghanistan is less sensitive to colonialism? Again, regardless, the audience is not just Afghans.

I'm saying that colonialism plays a somewhat different role in Afghan society. I'm saying that colonialism is viewed differently in a place with massive amounts of oil.


I would ask the same of you. Find me an expert that thinks sending Israeli soldiers to Afghanistan would be a smart move all around.

I'm not the one who is making a positive claim about how Afghans would react. You are. Since you're making a positive claim, the burden of proof is yours to bear. So far, your evidence amounts to "I really really really feel strongly that this must be the case" -- which is fine, but not terribly persuasive to those who don't intuitively share your opinion.

Does the U.S. State Department expressing concerns about the IHH/Hamas ties count as "credible?"

And that link is a two-fer. I like the lack of bias and no-rush-to-judgment in the UN HRC's vote to investigate Israel.


The report was about the effects of the blockade.

Uh, then why does it describe only IDF incursions never once discussing WHY those incursions happened? Give me a break.

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