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July 25, 2006

Comments

Isn't there a question of fact (to what extent can Israel degrade Hezbollah's missile and military capability) to be addressed? I'm not competent to do so, but it seems to me that one needs to answer that before concluding "it makes the only real long-term solution to this problem [...] much more difficult than it was before."

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

I haven't been able to write about this for the last week and a half, because each time I start a fog of dread just paralyzes me.

But posts like yours help pierce the fog; thanks again.

It feels as if we're hurtling along a river, and there are falls somewhere ahead. The people who set the craft in, waaaaay back upstream, either don't seem to care or feel they can't afford to show that they know about the falls.

There's more and louder murmuring about the coming catastrophe than there's ever been, but it's still only murmuring.

rilkefan, if the IDF were limiting their assault to actions that had a plausible connection to "degrading Hezbollah's military and missile capability", you might have a point.

Hilzoy is referring to the massive bombing, indiscriminate killing of civilians, destruction of infrastructure, and more that make it clear that the objective is to destroy Lebanon as a country.

rilkefan, I am confused by your statement. What part of bombing civilians and killing hundreds of people - people NOT engaged in terrorism or supporters of Hezbollah - would be made excusable if the Israelis did destroy significant portions of Hezbollah's rockets?

I'll answer my own question - none. Hezbollah is wrong, but in this, Israel is wronger.

And they are doing it with American weapons, bought with American money.

hilzoy, the greatest cost to Israle may in fact be the loss of support by the American public. Israel as a state has lost MY support. It is time we separated American and world interests from that of Israel.

And we can start by ridding ourselves of our oil addiction.

Jake

I don't think it's feasible for Israel to actually stop Hezbollah from firing rockets at them. Doing so would require them to not only clear the area of all the rockets and missiles currently hidden there, but prevent any new ordnance from being brought in.

Doing the first is difficult, as it would require Israel to go through the entire area, every building and cave, and search them for all the missiles and rockets. It would take a lot of time, and it would mean a lot of Israelis and Lebanese killed in street fighting.

Even assuming they could accomplish that, how could Israel prevent more missiles from being brought in? Unless they're willing to put a military cordon around the entire area, whatever stocks Israel finds and destroys can be replenished quickly.

There is no reasonable military solution to this problem. Until Israel's neighbors no longer wish to kill Jews, Israel will continue to endure this kind of attack.

"There is no reasonable military solution to this problem. Until Israel's neighbors no longer wish to kill Jews, Israel will continue to endure this kind of attack."

That is why I believe that Tel Aviv will be nuked within the next 15 years.

That is why I believe that Tel Aviv will be nuked within the next 15 years

so, there's no possibility in your mind for any kind of peace ?

rilkefan: I had tried to address this in my 'little list' post, making some of the points Andrew makes, only less eloquently. Hezbollah needs people willing to fight, weapons, and an environment in which they can get away with it. Killing fighters only works if there aren't any more where they came from, and there are. (And the bombardment will create more.) Destroying weapons is, as Andrew notes, difficult in itself, and it's only a long-term solution if those weapons can't be replaced. They can. Making southern Lebanon stop being a permissive environment for Hezbollah would require either depriving them of popular support or enabling the Lebanese government to control the territory, or (for the short term) inserting some other force. We've proposed the latter, but that force will presumably not be there indefinitely, and Israel's actions are making the other two options impossible.

Thus, my gloom.

Seb: nuked? By who? I assume you're thinking Iran, but it is not at all clear that they cannot be contained.

Nell: "that make it clear that the objective is to destroy Lebanon as a country"

No.

Jake: you've got an assertion there, not an argument.

No possibility? Or isn't very likely? There is absolutely nothing that Israel could do to satisfy Hezbollah that wouldn't involve turning Israel into a Taliban-like Islamic state. The fighting will continue so long as Hezbollah exists. It will continue with whatever weapons Hezbollah can get their hands on. When they get their hands on nuclear weapons, they will use them.

Seb: yeah, but do you think they'll get nuclear weapons within 15 years?

-- Insert obligatory statement bemoaning our failure to even try to address the problem of Russian loose nukes, plus our more or less total inaction vis-a-vis North Korea, here. If I shared your pessimism, I'd be even more upset about these things than I already am. If that were possible.

"The continued bombardment of Lebanon is obscene, and it should stop now."

This could just as well have been said of the American invasion of Morocco, or of Torch in general, or of Normandy.

Full of evil and endless deaths, including that of innumerable innocents.

No, I'm not remotely saying it's the same thing. No. No. No. No. I'm not.

I'm just saying that war is evil.

I have no idea if the ends justify the means here. I truly don't. If I thought it did, I'd say so. I may wind up utterly condemning this thing. Utterly. Condemning.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah should be destroyed or degraded as much as possible.

Andrew says: I don't think it's feasible for Israel to actually stop Hezbollah from firing rockets at them"

Of course not. But making Lebanon, as a political entity, make it stop, in the long run, is a political solution. That happens when the country has the means and force and will to stop it.

That's what countries do with military force: make a political solution when military force makes it hurt enough.

Meanwhile, appreciate the irony that I'm being more hardline than you are, Andrew. :-)

"Seb: nuked? By who? I assume you're thinking Iran, but it is not at all clear that they cannot be contained."

I would not be at all shocked if it is Iran, it may not be clear that they cannot be contained but it isn't at all clear that they can. But it doesn't have to be Iran. Once Iran gets nuclear weapons the arms race in the Middle East is on. Is Syria next? It has the secrecy and access to many of Saddam's scientists. Saudi Arabia? It has enough money to make things happen. Both have reason to fear an ascendant Iran--though at the moment Syria acts as if it can perfectly balance the secularists and Islamists. Egypt? Probably not, but if two or three other states are seeking them they would certainly try. None of these states are stable enough that I would feel at all comfortable that they could keep control of nuclear weapons. We had close calls with the US and the USSR. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Syria are all more unstable than the USSR was. A coup in the USSR was a change of communists--and that was plenty dangerous. A coup in any of the countries could easily put nuclear weapons in very scary hands.

And that is not even factoring in the idea that some idiot in one of those countries could believe that he could deniably pass a nuke off to an anti-Israel group. Once you get multiple people with nukes, it becomes more believable to a non-scientist (though likely wrong) that you could avoid getting things traced back to you.

Andrew, the question is I think not whether _all_ the rockets can be cleared, but whether many of the longer-range ones (and any associated emplacements and infrastructure) can be destroyed, and whether Hezbollah can be weakened relative to Lebanon's other forces or to what the UN could field. And long-term of course the Israelis have to have an international presence in mind. That or they're stupid.

I of course yield to your expertise in military matters - but this discussion seems to be a bit lacking in analysis of what Israel is trying to achieve tactically and strategically.

"Hilzoy is referring to the massive bombing, indiscriminate killing of civilians, destruction of infrastructure, and more that make it clear that the objective is to destroy Lebanon as a country."

Yeah, because they're doing it for no reason, because they're wacky, because they have no regard for human life.

Or, perhaps they actually are striking Hezbollah targets.

The notion that Israel wants to destroy Lebanon, that, let's see:

...that the objective is to destroy Lebanon as a country.
is nuts. Why would Israel want to do this? Why would anyone think so?

This is nuts. No marbles.

"Is Syria next? It has the secrecy and access to many of Saddam's scientists."

I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Tel Aviv gets nuked in a somewhat more distant time frame than 15 years, but I don't think Syria has the educational and engineering and scientific infrastructures needed to build a bomb.

I largely agree with Gary's comments. This is a war, and wars are not pretty. Moreover, it is a war started by Hezbollah.

If it stops now without any larger steps than putting into place a ceasefire, all that will occur is a respite for Hezbollah, and restarting of the war at a time and place of Hezbollah's choosing. It is easy to see why that is not an acceptable resolution for Israel.

If a larger package were to be put into place, one that either created a buffer zone or disarmed Hebollah so that it could not restart the war whenever it chose, I would be in favor of that. Otherwise, all we are doing is kicking the can down the road, with no likelihood at all that the situation will improve.

Rilkefan,

I'd love to know what Israel hopes to accomplish. Tactically, I think they've got no hope of causing any significant damage to Hezbollah; it's too late for that. Hezbollah can just melt away if Israel tries to put serious pressure on them.

On the strategic front, I would like to believe that Israel plans to render Hezbollah weak enough that the Lebanese government can move in and control the area. But the damage Israel is doing to the Lebanese government tends to undermine that hypothesis.

Gary,

I've got no objection to being hard. I just think Israel's tactics aren't going to get them what they're looking for.

Also consder what Iran is willing to use Hezbollah for now--which is to say before they are a nuclear power. Even if Iran does not explicitly use a nuclear threat, and even if Iran does not try to go through a deniability route, they will certainly feel even freer to support groups like Hezbollah against Israel. (See for example Pakistan blatantly funding terrorism in India).

So even if Tel Aviv is not nuked in the next 15 years (which I think is likely) the chances for peace are very slim. If Hezbollah still exists as any particularly strong entity after Iran get nuclear weapons I would say that the chance for peace is almost nil.

And that is very depressing since Hezbollah isn't likely to be destroyed or wither away any time in the next five years.

Incidentally, this situation is exactly what justifies Israel, and why Israel has to be a nation, and not depend on others.

The kindness of others towards Jews, including America, is great.

But either people have a right to a nation, and to make their own policy, and to protect and save and defend themselves or not.

America is a great nation, but it isn't there to save the Jews. Or the Palestinians.

And neither people would ever be safe to count on America. America isn't set up to guarantee either people as a nation. Only their own nations can do that.

And that's the point of their stories.

The point of this post is so obvious -- the next question needs to be asked. Why is the US unreservedly supporting this heinous warmongering by Israel? The bombing cannot be justified as a defense against Hezbollah agression.

Particularly bad is the rush shipments of more US bombs to Israel to facilitate what is the most heinous part of the Israeli offensive. In the eyes of the world, the US is now a direct participant in the heinous bombing. Without question, the Bush administration is happy to support the overkill, as it believes war is the solution to these issues. Laughable is the official line that we cannot have a ceasefire unless it is a "sustainable ceasefire" -- Orwellian speak for a ceasefire only after the military annihiliation of Hezbollah (which cannot be achieved militarily without the ethnic cleansing of most of southern Lebanon).

Another thought:

Hezbollah crossed international boundaries and kidnapped their soldiers without provocation

I know this is the conventional wisdom, but I find this highly improbable. Much more likely is that an Israeli patrol in southern Lebanon was ambushed, and the Isaelis are lying about it. The reasons for this are simple military logic. The border is closely monitored by the most sophisticated devices -- it is not believable that a large Hezbollah party infiltrated (one large enough to rapidly overwhelm how large an Israeli force?, killing 8 and capturing 2), attacked the Israeli troops in Israel, and then recrossed to safe cover in Lebanon with two prisoners in tow while the Israelis are caught so flat-footed that they cannot react.

It still does not matter as Hezbollah is at war with Israel -- but I believe the official cover story is itself a lie. It seems Israel has been planning this large offensive for a long time (no doubt because they have been monitoring the large number of rockets moved into southern Lebanon), and the border skirmish is simply pretextual.

Once you get multiple people with nukes, it becomes more believable to a non-scientist (though likely wrong) that you could avoid getting things traced back to you.
If a nuke went off somewhere, I doubt there would be a considered, scientific effort to trace it back to its source. There would be a quickly announced official explanation (or various quickly announced official explanations, from various countries), so that some action could take place, and then looking into the details would be left to the conspiracy theorists (and hopefully some intelligence agencies, but we wouldn't hear much about that). With luck, the official explanation might have some resemblance to the truth.

Dantheman writes: "I largely agree with Gary's comments. This is a war, and wars are not pretty. Moreover, it is a war started by Hezbollah."

By capturing two soldiers.

How many people has the US captured/kidnapped/disappeared?

Is every innocent person in Guantanamo worth hundreds of Americans dead and billions in damage?

Like Andrew, I have no objection to being hard in the service of a good objective. I have a lot of problems with the idea that being tough is always the more realistic option, while not being tough is weak-minded idealism and/or a refusal to face the (always grim) facts, but that's different. And I accept that war is ugly, which is precisely why I mind so much those pundits who toss the idea of starting wars around casually. (Bill Kristol, I'm looking at you.)

That said, I do not know what Israel's objective is here. There are various stories one can tell that don't even require an objective: Yagil Levy in Ha'Aretz, for instance, argues that the military's contingent plan for Lebanon was the main, and possibly the only, option discussed during the very short time that the cabinet discussed what to do, in which case there was not a decision to use this plan rather than other, different plans to achieve some specific objective. Likewise, whatever role the fact that Olmert is perceived as weak and inexperienced in defense played, it doesn't involve an objective.

What worries me is that I do not see the strategy here at all. Tactics, yes, but how they are supposed to fit into, or even not greatly impede, a long-term objective, no.

rf, are you saying that it is an assertion to say that Israel, in killing MORE Lebanese, is wronger than Hezbollah?

I suppose it is an assertion. Something like the assertion that life is important, or in the same vein that "We, the people ..." is "just" another assertion.

So you are correct. I assert that for Israel to bomb innocents is murder. I assert that for Hezbollah to rocket innocents is murder. I assert that we are complicit in the murder of Lebanese innocents. I assert that it is time to STOP being complicit in murder.

Jake

"I'd love to know what Israel hopes to accomplish. Tactically, I think they've got no hope of causing any significant damage to Hezbollah; it's too late for that. Hezbollah can just melt away if Israel tries to put serious pressure on them."

And yet missile launchers are large and entirely destroyable.

And once they're gone, a political solution to keep them out should be entirely feasible.

This is not a complicated notion.

If Canada was host to folks launching missiles onto New York, Michigan, Idaho, and Washington, this would not be controversial. Eliminate the missiles, and stop the people launching them.

That the launchers are put into place by these evil people in schools and hospitals and the like? Despicable. Evil. Horrible.

The world, and everyone, should emphasize over and over and over and over and over and over and over how evil these people are for doing that.

It's so effing evil.

"The continued bombardment of Lebanon is obscene, and it should stop now."

This could just as well have been said of the American invasion of Morocco, or of Torch in general, or of Normandy.

That is complete nonsense -- your analysis in unhinged.

The Israelis are attacking a country that for the most part does not support Hezbollah -- they are currently powerless to reign in this large armed force in their country. Attacking Lebanon overall only weakens its capacity to resist the military might of Hezbollah in Lebanon.

This is not just "collateral damage" in a war against Hezbollah -- it is a war against the civilians of Lebanon, most of whom do not support Hezbollah.

Yeah, because they're doing it for no reason, because they're wacky, because they have no regard for human life.

Or, perhaps they actually are striking Hezbollah targets.

Perhaps denial is a large river in ....

The Lebanon bombing campaign is a terror campaign -- to induce Lebanese to reject or otherwise restrain Hezbollah or else. There is no carefully targeted effort to attack only Hezbollah. It is a tactic that has never worked, as evidenced by the disaster of the 1982 invasion.

Fighting Hezbollah is a great idea -- bombing the crap out of innocent Lebanese as a tactic to fight Hezbollah is lunacy.

"What worries me is that I do not see the strategy here at all. Tactics, yes, but how they are supposed to fit into, or even not greatly impede, a long-term objective, no."

Degrade Hezbollah, bring in an international force to stand up for Lebanese sovereignty and peace.

Not complicated.

By capturing two soldiers.

And killing another three in the process, but who's counting?

That's, of course, assuming other nations are out there willing to stand up for Israel's right to exist.

I'm right that that's a true description of the world?

Right?

Right?

lunacy, depression and related issues:

Let's assume that Sebastian is correct and Tel Aviv will be nuked on June 1, 2020 absent a major shift in the Middle East.

my only response is: "What the Hell Are You Doing, Then, Dicking Around In Iraq and Lebanon?"

you are talking total war. it will take at least three to five years to build the army necessary to take and hold Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. It will cost hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. you will need to mobilize the public to commit to a draft, higher taxes, significant casualties, worldwide condemnation and a generational commitment.

because the war will last far longer than a single administration, there must be bi-partisan support.

and yet one of the online leaders of the need to commit fully to this hot war, Tacitus, has nothing but contempt for hilzoy and other posters here.

great way to reach across the aisle, guys. if we're really in WWIII, and this ain't just jive talk to stay in power another cycle or three, you're going to need to work on your powers of persuasion. Because right now your credibility is in the toilet.

there are times when it seems to me that a certain group of conservatives actually want Tel Aviv to be nuked, so they can then say: "See! See! We told you so" and finally have their casus belli for their war on islam.

Andrew,

The best explanation I've heard is that Israel's military objective is deterrence, not destruction. As in, they want to remind people that messing with Israel carries a very high price. There's a school of thought that believes that the recent legacy of negotiations and concessions and especially lack of serious retaliations has diluted Israel's "don't f--- with us" reputation.

So the objective is not to directly root out Hezbollah, but to inflict enough pain on the enabling population to 1) make the Lebanese think twice about sheltering or supporting insurgents, and 2) discourage other sovereign nations from overtly supporting Israel's enemies.

I won't comment on the morality or practicality of this approach, but it seems plausible that this might be the strategy, given the parallels with recent United States foreign policy.

"That the launchers are put into place by these evil people in schools and hospitals and the like? "

I'm not sure I believe that anymore. Not when Israel is bombing ambulances and passenger cars.

They aren't looking for missile launchers, they're just killing randomly.

If Canada was host to folks launching missiles onto New York, Michigan, Idaho, and Washington, this would not be controversial. Eliminate the missiles, and stop the people launching them.

But the devil is in the details, my friend. Simply eliminating the missiles isn't simple, as I noted earlier. Stopping the people launching them is even more difficult; even if the Lebanese government takes over security for the rest of the country, will they be able to prevent Hezbollah from moving more missiles into position? Political solutions are easy to find, but often hard to actually implement. My concern is ending up right back in the same place in six months or a year.

"The Israelis are attacking a country that for the most part does not support Hezbollah "

And yet has 18 members in the Parliament, and is otherwise unable to stop the Hezbollah militia.

"Fighting Hezbollah is a great idea -- bombing the crap out of innocent Lebanese as a tactic to fight Hezbollah is lunacy."

And yet no one is for bombing innocent Lebanese.

Meanwhile, Haifa goes unmentioned in this thread for how many comments?

The whole thing is awful. Awful. Please, we'd all like to see it stop.

I don't know how to make it stop in any useful way if Hezbollah's missiles aren't mostly eliminated. They're not otherwise going to stop firing them on children in Israel.

Any sort of international force that can beat the crap out of Hezbollah's missiles raining down on folks would be great.

Absent that, what? Nice waves and hearty handshakes? Good wishes? Smiles? What?

Gary: missile launchers can be destroyed. Other missile launchers can then be brought in. Alternately, one can do without them: last time I checked, individual Katyushas can be launched from any platform, e.g. the back of a truck or a driveway, using a car battery. But even if one wants the convenience of a multiple rocket launcher, it's hard to see how the proposed international force could be effective enough to interdict all the launchers people tried to smuggle along the extensive border, especially without serious popular support.

This will not end the firing of Katyushas at Northern Israel.

"Stopping the people launching them is even more difficult; even if the Lebanese government takes over security for the rest of the country, will they be able to prevent Hezbollah from moving more missiles into position?"

Why not? Are there a lot of missiles targeted on American military positions, or civilian sites where you live?

Oops: checking, I see that launching an individual Katyusha requires not just a car battery, but also a pipe. My bad.

"Other missile launchers can then be brought in."

Thus the need for an international force to control Lebanese borders, of course.

I mean, man, apply this argument to any state anyone in the U.S. lives in. Would anyone actually claim that it's impossible to keep rocket launchers out of the hands of folks?

WTF? What's the story here?

This has to stop. Indeed.

The best explanation I've heard is that Israel's military objective is deterrence, not destruction. There's a school of thought that believes that the recent legacy of negotiations and concessions and especially lack of serious retaliations has diluted Israel's "don't f--- with us" reputation.

Israel's "don't fuck with us" reputation has never deterred terror before. If you'll recall, their last major show of force in Lebanon gave rise to Hezbollah in the first place.

What amazes me - what truly and utterly amazes me - is when I hear American liberals, who would normally balk at something like Jonah Goldberg's Ledeen Doctrine ("Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business"), suggest that maybe, just maybe, such a display of Power and Strength and Will in Lebanon is exactly what Israel needs. The last few decades of Israeli counterterror policy should demonstrate, if nothing else, that Israel is the exemplary negative case for the "display of power and will" theory. Nobody questions Israel's strength and their willingness to throw it around. It's their tendency to throw it around that has so many people trying to blow them up as it is!

It drives me absolutely nuts to see so many people completely discount the role that engendering hatred plays in the Mideast. Does anyone think the families of the dead and scattered in Lebanon are going to be less likely to want to kill Israelis now? This is insane.

"Meanwhile, Haifa goes unmentioned in this thread for how many comments?"

Maybe because of the order-of-magnitude difference in damage?

Maybe because most of the missiles shot at Israel do little or no damage, whereas Israel is able to ruthlessly and precisely target, say, a couple of ambulances and their wounded civilian passengers?

And yet has 18 members in the Parliament, and is otherwise unable to stop the Hezbollah militia.

And destroying the current government is going to make Lebanon more capable of handling Lebanon? Give me a break.

From what I've heard, Israel is pretty hard at work denying Hezbollah the ability to resupply via Syria, while Hezbollah is deliberately insinuating its missiles, launchers, etc amongst the civilian populace and using ambulances to transport its...whatever you want to call them.

If anyone can think of any reason (rational or no) why Israel has all of a sudden decided (as some would like to have it) to just randomly bomb civilians, please let me know your theory.

Gary, I think Israel has a right to exist, and they're (as far as I've been able to tell) utterly committed to that existence. They have a right to protect themselves, certainly. As far as what they're doing to that end, if one is inclined to believe absolutely everything that comes out of the region, one has to at least give this sort of thing a look:

(voice-over) We'd come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. Instead, we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah. Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement.

They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings. Once, when they thought we'd videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape. These men are called al-Shabab, Hezbollah volunteers who are the organization's eyes and ears.

(on camera) You see their CD's on the wall still. [same building as Robertson report -ed]

Hezbollah representatives are with us now but don't want to be photographed. They'll point to something like that and they'll say, "Well, look, this is a store." The civilians lived in this building. This is a residential complex.

And while that may be true, what the Israelis will say is that Hezbollah has their offices, their leadership has offices and bunkers even in residential neighborhoods. And if you're trying to knock out the Hezbollah leadership with air strikes, it's very difficult to do that without killing civilians.

As bad as this damage is, it certainly could have been much worse in terms of civilian casualties. Before they started heavily bombing this area, Israeli warplanes did drop leaflets in this area, telling people to get out.

The civilian death toll, though, has angered many Lebanese. Even those who do not support Hezbollah are outraged by the pictures they've seen on television of civilian casualties.

(voice-over) Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them. And questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.

After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.

(on camera) This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they've been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That's the story -- that's the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about. [As he is giving this narration the video is of foreign media all shooting the ambulances speeding off. -ed]

(voice-over) These ambulances aren't responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.

When a man in a nearby building is prompted to play Hezbollah resistance songs on his stereo, we decide it's time to go. [His voice was getting to be dripping with distain at this point -ed]

Hezbollah may not be terribly subtle about spinning a story, but it is telling perhaps that they try. Even after all this bombing, Hezbollah is still organized enough to have a public relations strategy, still in control enough to try and get its message out.

Hilzoy: Imagine militias are a couple of miles from your house -- whether they are neo-Nazis or Islamists or what have you, it doesn't matter. Would your position be that political negotiations should be opened up, or that they should be cordoned off by the police, and if necessary, killed?

It's that simple.

It's. Just. That. Simple.

Are there a lot of missiles targeted on American military positions, or civilian sites where you live?

I realize that this is an emotional issue for you Gary, but I think you need to take a deep breath here. Yes, the situation is different in Israel than in the United States. This does not pass for particularly deep wisdom, nor is it remotely helpful because the situations simply aren't comparable.

What international force is going to occupy southern Lebanon and ensure that no more missiles or rockets are brought in (even assuming Israel is successful in eliminating those that exist there now)? Given how much of the world views Israel, do you think it's really likely any international force that moves into southern Lebanon is going to work very hard, possibly risking the lives of its soldiers, to prevent Hezbollah from firing missiles at Israel? I'm not saying they won't, only that I'm unconvinced that this international force you're referencing is all that likely to have the effect you're looking for.

"If anyone can think of any reason (rational or no) why Israel has all of a sudden decided (as some would like to have it) to just randomly bomb civilians, please let me know your theory."

Maybe it's the same reason they shoot utterly unthreatening Palestinian children?

"Maybe it's the same reason they shoot utterly unthreatening Palestinian children?"

Which they're doing a) some of the time, b) most of the time, or c) only by accident?

Or, perhaps d) whenever the opportunity presents itself? Just trying to calibrate, here.

""It's that simple.

It's. Just. That. Simple."

Really?

Did that approach worked in Northern Ireland? I miss the part where the IRA disarmed after the island was bombed flat in retribution for the mortar attack on Number 10.

"Or, perhaps d) whenever the opportunity presents itself? Just trying to calibrate, here."

d, when the military person in question is so inclined.

Power corrupts, even in Israel, even in the IDF.

Gary: Actually, I do think it would be impossible for another country to keep Katyushas out of the hands of US citizens without occupying the US in a very major way. (At least, if we assume there's a country that borders us that's willing to supply those rockets or allow transshipment.) Likewise, I think that there are things Israel could do to prevent this. It could wipe out the entire population of southern Lebanon, flatten it, pave it over, and never allow anyone within missile range of its northern border, for instance. But if we're talking non-unthinkable options, then no.

In the US, we have: the following advantages: (a) we control the government without having to occupy the country, since it's our country, and thus our control of it does not tend to incite hatred, or to need to be routinely enforced through violence in the way military occupations do. (b) We have a citizenry that is, in general, disinclined to let people wander around with rocket launchers. Those people can tell the police about people roaming about with Katyushas, and -- special bonus! -- will not be accused of being Quislings or collaborators, or killed. (c) We have no large resistance movement, or even any appreciable number of sympathizers with the idea that there ought to be one. These are all, I think, pretty striking dissimilarities between "any state in the US" and Lebanon.

I started out by slamming Hezbollah, and I meant it. I did not mention Haifa specifically, but here goes: I condemn the attacks on Haifa, where I first set toot in Israel. I condemn the attacks on Nahariyya, which I never much liked but do not wish to see hit by rocket fire. I condemned the attacks on Kiryat Shmona, which I very much hope have not disturbed the grave of one of my best friends from Israel, a US-Israeli double agent, now retired. I condemn the attacks on Tzfat, which I very much wish people on the newscasts would pronounce correctly. (Likewise, Tyre: one annoying newscaster said: we pronounce it 'tire', but people in Lebanon say 'tear'. WRONG. Last time I checked, they said: soor. Phonetic shifts, doncha know.) Tzfat is a gorgeous town, but even ugly towns like Metulla do not deserve to be hit by Katyushas. I also condemn the attacks on all the random unnamed fields and highways in Israel. I condemn ALL the attacks.

Ditto Crips and Bloods, etc.

Andrew: "Given how much of the world views Israel, do you think it's really likely any international force that moves into southern Lebanon is going to work very hard, possibly risking the lives of its soldiers, to prevent Hezbollah from firing missiles at Israel?"

You might be right that Israel shouldn't depend on outside forces, and should simply fight and kill as needed.

I prefer not to believe that. I prefer not to belief in such killing, including more deaths of more innocents.

Still, you make the argument for it. It's a tragic argument, but it's a real one.

The world is wishy-washy, at best, about Israel.

If folks would consistently step in to defend Israel's right to exist, then Israelis, and Jews, would have far less reason to worry, and to take unilateral actions.

Instead, the whole thing is very wobbly. And Israel fights for itself. With some wobbly outside support.

So, to reiterate Gary's question:

Does Israel have a right to exist? Yes or no.

Andrew: "I'm unconvinced that this international force you're referencing is all that likely to have the effect you're looking for."

Remind me what your policy rec for Israel is - grin and bear the rocket attacks for the foreseeable future in the hope that Lebanon will eventually get its act together?

Also, do you have a rough rule-of-thumb as to the relative casualties rates a state should accept in being attacked - if it takes a 10-to-1 civilian casualty rate to suppress the opponent for time t (where that 1 is integrated over t), is that unacceptable?


Generally - note that the question is the relative strength of the rest of Lebanon to Hezbollah, not the absolute strength of either.

Sun Zi said

"Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.

Thus the highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; and the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities."

So where in this continuum do Israel's current tactics fit?

It is absolutely idle to debate what Israel is "entitled" to do. That question belongs in a discredited and obviously useless worldview. It is Middle Eastern.

GF, I think the argument could be reasonably made that in Kristol et al we have our own Hezbollah. Just how good are we at eliminating them? THEY RUN OUR GOVERMENT.

Yet I don't support them, am powerless to remove them, and would be the victims of the same kind of attacks as are the Lebanese were the US not the unitary super power.

Not that Hezbollah RUNS the Lebanese government, but they are an integral part of Lebanese society - just as the neo-con warmongers are a part of ours. So, no, we don't have rockets in Tucson, or Denver, we have bombs in Iraq, and in Lebanon, and even in Afghanistan. I don't see much difference between Kristol et al and Nasrullah, except that Nasrullah pulls the trigger while Kristol et al only pulls the strings of puppets who pull the trigger.

Looked at in that light, the Kristol krew are even less admirable men the mideast terrorists.

Jake

Christmas,

Israel's "don't fuck with us" reputation has never deterred terror before. If you'll recall, their last major show of force in Lebanon gave rise to Hezbollah in the first place.

Well, right. My point was just that it's misleading to focus on all the reasons why Israel can't hope to interdict the flow of war materiel into Lebanon if their objective is not to actually destroy Hezbollah, but just to put on a good show. Especially if the intended audience is not limited to the Lebanese.

"rf, are you saying that it is an assertion to say that Israel, in killing MORE Lebanese, is wronger than Hezbollah?"

I would like to address the idea that Israel killing 'more' Lebanese civilians is some sort of automatically disqualifying argument.

First, they aren't all civilians. I'm not following Dershowitz's very wrong claim that most of the Lebanese are automatically non-civilians because they tolerate Hezbollah. But I am saying that since Hezbollah does not separate itself from the civilian population and does in fact put things in what would normally be civilian structures, that the question isn't as easy as one might think. Last time I looked (two days ago), Hezbollah was claiming that only three of their own had been killed. That is frankly crap. But because they are guerillas they get to say that everyone is a civilian when they are dead.

Second, there is a difference between targeting and hitting even for a very good military structure like Israel. Saying that a dam was hit by a bomb is one thing (and this charge has been fairly prominent in the European places I read). It is transparently clear that the dam was not targeted because it was hit with a bomb that wasn't appropriate to destroy a dam. You can't destroy a dam with one run-of-the-mill bomb. You either have to hit it repeatedly or you hit it with a specially designed bomb. If you are targeting the dam, you take one of those latter options. If you are targeting something near a dam, you may very well hit the dam and not destroy it (or even do a huge amount of damage to it). The dam is a civilian object. In most cases it isn't a legitimate target. There are international rules about putting military targets away from civilian objects so that when your enemy targets the legitimate target and misses the civilian objects are not as endangered. Hezbollah (and Hamas) intentionally do not follow that rule. See also--the Beruit airport. If Iran resupplies Hezbollah through that airport--and it does--and Lebanon won't stop it--and it didn't--the airport is absolutely a legitmate target. Israel could have easily leveled the airport structures. They could have easily used runway specific munitions to make the runway very difficult to repair. They did neither. This suggests to me that they really just wanted to stop the re-supply and/or air transport of the POWs.

Third, even if you do not count Nakasaki and Hiroshima, and even if you do not count fire-storm deaths, the number of civilian deaths cause by the US in Germany and Japan far outstrip the number of civilian deaths in the US caused by Germany and Japan. Tallying the total number of civilians killed by one side is not in itself indicative of anything particularly useful for analytic discussion of the justice of a war or just means in a war.

"Gary: Actually, I do think it would be impossible for another country to keep Katyushas out of the hands of US citizens without occupying the US in a very major way."

This is all completely astray from what I said: If Canada was host to folks launching missiles onto New York, Michigan, Idaho, and Washington, this would not be controversial. Eliminate the missiles, and stop the people launching them.

Canada. Launching on the US. Canada. Launching on us.

Would we all be saying oh, my, we have to stop attacking those Canadian missile launchers, because it's terrible that Canadian children are being killed, much though we all feel horrible that, in fact, Canadian children are, in fact, being killed?

should simply fight and kill as needed.

Not quite the argument I was going for there.

1. Deterrence isn't going to work against Hezbollah. Until and unless Israel can demonstrate an ability to pinpoint Hezbollah's leadership and eliminate them at will, Hezbollah is more than happy to provoke Israel into attacking them and killing Lebanese civilians into the bargain. So the idea this campaign is going to deter future attacks on Israel is questionable at best.

2. Short of going in on foot in force, Israel isn't going to be able to root out the rockets and missiles being fired at her.

3. Short of establishing their own cordon around southern Lebanon, Israel isn't going to be able to keep Hezbollah from resupplying.

4. Israel already tried occupying Lebanon and discovered its not a winning strategy.

I'm all for Israel defending herself from these unconscionable attacks. I'm well aware of who the bad guys are here. But I don't see this strategy working, and therefore I question whether it is in Israel's best interests to continue it.

should simply fight and kill as needed.

Not quite the argument I was going for there.

1. Deterrence isn't going to work against Hezbollah. Until and unless Israel can demonstrate an ability to pinpoint Hezbollah's leadership and eliminate them at will, Hezbollah is more than happy to provoke Israel into attacking them and killing Lebanese civilians into the bargain. So the idea this campaign is going to deter future attacks on Israel is questionable at best.

2. Short of going in on foot in force, Israel isn't going to be able to root out the rockets and missiles being fired at her.

3. Short of establishing their own cordon around southern Lebanon, Israel isn't going to be able to keep Hezbollah from resupplying.

4. Israel already tried occupying Lebanon and discovered its not a winning strategy.

I'm all for Israel defending herself from these unconscionable attacks. I'm well aware of who the bad guys are here. But I don't see this strategy working, and therefore I question whether it is in Israel's best interests to continue it.

"If anyone can think of any reason (rational or no) why Israel has all of a sudden decided (as some would like to have it) to just randomly bomb civilians, please let me know your theory."

If true:
possible reason

via Billmon.

"GF, I think the argument could be reasonably made that in Kristol et al we have our own Hezbollah."

Um, he's launching missile attacks on Maryland?

WTF?

What do the Katyusha rockets have to do with Israel' existence? Does anyone imagine that these rockets threaten the existence of Israel? That the taking of two soldiers and the killing of several others threatens the very existence of Israel?

We, the most powerful country in the world, threatened Iraq, Iran and N Korea. We DID destroy Iraq, and we appear to be intent on destroying Iran. If there are threats to be feared, they are AMERICAN threats, not Palestinian, Iranian, or Hezbollah threats.

And yet, North Korea gets no threats. Why is that, I wonder? I wonder how that plays into Iran's nuclear ambitions? I wonder how much help Iran continues to get from our Pakistani allies?

Jkae

I have never doubted Israel's right to exist. And I also think that it's just wrong to say that they are deliberately targeting innocent children, etc. Not being sufficiently careful to avoid hitting civilians; accepting too many civilian deaths for a given target, OK, but deliberately targeting kids? No.

That said: Gary: "Hilzoy: Imagine militias are a couple of miles from your house -- whether they are neo-Nazis or Islamists or what have you, it doesn't matter. Would your position be that political negotiations should be opened up, or that they should be cordoned off by the police, and if necessary, killed?

It's that simple."

No, I don't think it is that simple. Really. Because my problem is that I do not think that there is any such cordon that will do the trick, and that thinking that there is is costing an enormous amount not just to Lebanon, but to Israel and to the US.

Taking my basic assumptions about the facts, I could say: look, suppose that there are militias around your house, and they attack you and kill your kid, and you run them off, but cannot capture them. Then you get home and take out your saw and start cutting your own leg off, and I ask: Gary, why are you doing that? and you say: You don't expect me to get attacked and just do nothing, do you?

It's obvious that sawing your leg off, while "doing something", is not a useful response there. It's less obvious that what Israel is doing is not a useful response to Hezbollah. (Useful in terms of Israeli interests.) But I think it's true.

Still, I don't think that it would be helpful of me to make my little analogy to you and expect it to settle the matter. You and I differ on the underlying facts, not on whether Israel has a right to exist or to defend herself.

So, is your answer "Yes"?

If so, does Israel have a right to defend itself?

Remind me what your policy rec for Israel is - grin and bear the rocket attacks for the foreseeable future in the hope that Lebanon will eventually get its act together?

I don't know. Would that I was wise enough to be able to figure that out. But I'm afraid that I've never been a fan of FDR's dictum about doing something.

Last question to Jake, just to be clear.

But I'm afraid that I've never been a fan of FDR's dictum about doing something.

In the continuum between FDR and Coolidge, there's got to be somewhere you're happy. Where would you say that is, Andrew?

"Does Israel have a right to exist? Yes or no."

Is anyone here suggesting it doesn't? The question is not whether Israel has a right to exist, or whether Israel has a right to defend itself. The question is how it coexists with other nations and how it chooses to defend itself. In this case it chose to respond to the abduction of two Israeli soldiers by a non-state militia in southern Lebanon with an all-out attack on Lebanon itself. It's not enough for the cause to be just; the conduct has to be just, too.

"1. Deterrence isn't going to work against Hezbollah."

Interesting argument. So much for the idea that rational deterence will work.

Let's all hope that civilians move as far away as they can, then.

I'm pretty sure I read an awful lot of arguments on this blog, though, before, about how rational everyone in Iran and Hezbollah was, and how we can count on that, and such.

I've never argued that that was definitively wrong.

But, well.

Gary, Kristol et al advocate not only continued destruction of Lebanon, but bombing Iran because, hey, they are Muslim and they dislike us, and we need to prevail BEFORE they might hurt us. How is that any different from Hezbollah? In fact, Hezbollah was born from an Israeli occupation. What is Kristol's excuse? Could it be his Israeli ties? That he conflates American interests with Israeli interests?

Where are you coming from Gary? Are you attmepting to justify the bombing of civilians because all other possibilities are so hard and take so long?

IS THAT A REASON?

Jake

Timmy hit Tommy so Tommy hit Timmy so Timmy hit Tommy....it really doesn't matter who hit who last or hardest or the most. Both Palestine and Isreal have a right to exist, assuming that there is any such thing as a national right to exist. Kos says people who hate each other will keep on killing each other until they get sick of it. I guess he'd know. I think our role should be to refuse to get involved in the fighting and insist on focusing on the only route to peace: the existance of both nations as economically and politically viable entities. We need to stay out of the shortterm action/reaction cycle.
Christmas is right about the long term effect of the Isreali attacks being to engender more hate and keep the fight going. In the long run the solution has to be political and it has to start with Isreal helping Palestine get on its feet. I know the response to this; but those evil people did evil things to Isreal! Well yes they did but doing evil things back doesn't stop the fight. Do we want the fight to stop or not?

Gary, what part about bombing civilians counts as rational deterrence? I'd say it is totally IRrational.

Jake

And Gary: in case I haven't been clear, I am arguing as I am both because innocent Lebanese are being killed and because I think that Israel's policy will harm Israel. Also, I think it will harm the US. but that's another story. This is not about the question, am I willing to stop attacks on Israelis at the cost of Lebanese kids. I do not think it will stop the attacks, and I expect it will cost the lives of Israeli kids.

Moreover, I think there is plainly a limit to the number of civilian casualties one should be prepared to produce in order to stop a given number of attacks, when those casualties are really civilians. I mean, presumably we would all agree that if Israel (or anywhere) were attacked by someone who would, in all likelihood, go on to kill millions if not stopped, and killing the attacker involved risking the life of one innocent person, it would be OK to run that risk. Whereas if the attacker were a threat only to one other person, and stopping him would require incinerating the entire earth (except for that one person), it would be wrong. Where the line gets drawn I have no idea, but surely there must be one.

Hilzoy: "Not being sufficiently careful to avoid hitting civilians...."

Look, here's what's bothering me here: is this true? I don't know. I'm not in the relevant HQ. Neither are you. Is it possible? Maybe. But is it true? You don't know, and neither do I.

And since neither of us knows, what sense does it make for either of us to make claims that it is or isn't true?

If it's true, it certainly should be said. Absolutely. And I'll stand and fight with anyone for that.

But if it's not true, that also should be fought for.

Meanwhile, not knowing, the implying: not so good.

"Does Israel have a right to exist? Yes or no."

I'm thinking it would be better to move Israel to, say, the environs of Palm Springs. I'm sure it would be a lot cheaper in the long run.

Granted, there is no religious link between the Jews and Palm Springs. But then, the religious evidence is that God seems to prefer a diaspora to a Jewish state in the eastern Mediterranean. At least, he keeps running them out of there, so I'm not sure why anyone would expect things to go differently this time. And, really, I don't see why the US should put our necks out on the basis of some old religious myths.

A Jewish state near Palm Springs would certainly have the property of being a safe homeland for the Jews. And they would save money on their arms imports, because shipping costs would be far lower. Not that they'd need much armament.

Slartibartfast,

I'm a fan of doing something effective. I don't see Israel's actions as meeting that threshold. As best I can determine, Israel's plan is to hammer Lebanon until such time as the international community steps in to disarm Hezbollah. I don't think Israel is aiming to kill any more civilians than are necessary to take out Hezbollah targets, but the nature of this war means that almost any strike at Hezbollah will kill civilians, and there are plenty of people out there who are happy to assume that if Israel kills a civilian, that was their goal all along, which helps to undermine support for Israel (granted, that is often a limited resource, but there was higher than usual consensus that Hezbollah was in the wrong when this all began).

If Israel wanted to destroy Hezbollah, then they should have attacked them with the level of force necessary to do that. That would have meant full-scale war in southern Lebanon, of course, but it was the only chance Israel had to eliminate Hezbollah as a serious military force. Once they chose not to do that, their attempts to take out Hezbollah from the air became little more than symbolic.

Slarti, all peoples have a right to defend themselves. Not just states - all peoples. And in parts of the world where the state cannot defend anyone, who else besides "the people" will?

Hezbollah remains wrong to send rockets into Israel. Nothing Hezbollah has done excuses in any way Israels response in Lebanon.

Not even counting that it seems to totally ineffective, losing Israel world support. There is no high ground to be had if your tit for tat murders the innocent.

Jake

Gary, I'm not sure exactly where you're coming from -- are you saying that the Israeli military actions are *understandable* or that they're *wise*?

I'm thinking it would be better to move Israel to, say, the environs of Palm Springs.

Or Mars, even. Yes, Mars would be even better, and only a little less realistic.

Israel choosing to relocate to Palm Springs (or anywhere else, for that matter) is utter fiction, and certainly not something you can exercise any choice over.

But that aside, let's amend the question to read "Does Israel have the right to exist in its current location?"

Gary: About 'not being sufficiently careful': I just meant to distinguish that claim (which, like you, I don't know about) from claims about deliberately targeting civilians, which I don't KNOW are false, not having been in on the relevant targeting meetings, but am willing to bet are false. Basically, I meant: if you want to say that they're not being careful enough, go ahead, but it;s wrong to say that they're targeting civilians.

Sorry for the confusion.

I didn't get any answer from Jes when I brought it up in another thread, so I am throwing it out here. Compare Israel's actions with the Pancho Villa Expedition, where Pancho Villa crossed the border into the US and killed a handful of Americans. In response, the US sent an expeditionary force into Mexico for a period of months, with hundreds of Mexicans dying, most of whom were not Pancho Villa's fighters.

The most salient difference I see is that Pancho Villa was not part of the Mexican government and was instead in the middle of an unsuccessful revolution against it, while Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government. Otherwise, I do not see any significant differences.

slarti:

israel has a right to exist and defend itself.

pro-israel liberals like me (i'm married to a jew) can nevertheless doubt the wisdom of the particular policy.

France and Germany for centuries didn't like each other. It took two world wars and a Marshall Plan (not to mention the Soviet threat) to build a lasting peace. We americans have NEVER lived in a country where a hated enemy was just on the other side of the border. yet that is the reality for most countries around the world through most of history. and somehow they manage to get through cross-border incidents without launching major wars. (see, eg, the Korean peninsula.)

so shall we play the role of the Russian bear in order to bring the warring countries together? threaten everyone in the ME, including Israel, with annihilation unless they behave? who would believe us?

Slarti: if people are talking relocation, let me preemptively mention and then disarm the word: Madagascar.

Is anyone denying Israel's right to exist?

FWIW, I'm with Andrew. If Canada was launching rockets over the border the U.S. could not practically stop them. We can't even stop cigarette smuggling over the border. And I'd like to think that we wouldn't bomb Toronto to stop the rocket attacks (though with Bush who knows).

"Moreover, I think there is plainly a limit to the number of civilian casualties one should be prepared to produce in order to stop a given number of attacks, when those casualties are really civilians."

Well, duh. Of course.

And if I was sure or even fairly persuaded that an cruel number of civilians were being killed, I'd -- of course -- be right with you in objecting, protesting, standing up, etc.

And I get that you think that this is so.

I'm just not at all convinced of that, at this time.

And that's where we disagree.

I couldn't agree more that war is evil, that civilian deaths are horrible, that the whole thing is dreadful.

But is Israel going too far?

Well, I'm not even remotely arguing with clarity otherwise.

My stance is simply that I don't know.

And, indeed, maybe that in itself, at this time, is immoral. I know that argument well, I'm completely familiar with it, and I live every moment, every second, with the knowledge, the awareness, the possible evil, that I'm wrong, that I should suffer, that I'm immoral in not being against injust evil.

But. Still. I don't know. I don't have sufficient knowledge.

Maybe you do. Maybe you know, Hilzoy, Andrew, others, etc., what's going on, what's in the minds of the Israeli generals, what will happen in the future, what's going to be the result of all this.

If so: I envy you.

If Canada was launching rockets over the border the U.S. could not practically stop them.

The comparison of missile attacks to cigarette smuggling is, I suggest, inapt.

Jon H,

"But then, the religious evidence is that God seems to prefer a diaspora to a Jewish state in the eastern Mediterranean. At least, he keeps running them out of there, so I'm not sure why anyone would expect things to go differently this time."

By this logic, there are very few places that God wants the Jews to be, as every European and most Asian nations where Jews have existed has at one time or another expelled the Jews and committed pogroms against them. Are you also saying Jews should also not be permitted to live in England? France? Russia? Poland?

"No, I don't think it is that simple. Really. Because my problem is that I do not think that there is any such cordon that will do the trick, and that thinking that there is is costing an enormous amount not just to Lebanon, but to Israel and to the US."

Okay, you're saying that if Hezbollah took up residence in Ontario, and started firing rockets on Buffalo, you'd advocate negotiations? And oppose wiping them out?

Really? Why? (I don't believe it, but I also don't get the difference.)

Andrew: "If Israel wanted to destroy Hezbollah, then they should have attacked them with the level of force necessary to do that. That would have meant full-scale war in southern Lebanon, of course, but it was the only chance Israel had to eliminate Hezbollah as a serious military force. Once they chose not to do that, their attempts to take out Hezbollah from the air became little more than symbolic."

So you favor the ongoing movement of ground forces? (Essentially huge raids, and not occupation, of course.)

And oppose wiping them out?

So is it your opinion, Gary, that Israel's current campaign has favorable chances of wiping out Hezbollah?

"Is anyone denying Israel's right to exist?"

Anyone here? Looks to me like JonH--he is at a very minimum skirting the question.

Anyone at all? Looks to me like very large groups in the Middle East including but not limited to Hezbollah, Hamas, the leadership of Iran, and Syria. Probably lots of Egyptians too.

The problem with condemning Hezbollah while they fire rockets into Haifa (Haifa!!!) is that mere condemnation doesn't stop them. It doesn't slow them down. It doesn't do anything. And from the international community that condemnation only happens when Israel fights back. I didn't see people freaking out when the rockets were launched in December, or October. The international community seems perfectly happy to let the rockets rain down on Israel indefinitely.

An interesting article on TPM Cafe -

Is it OK for Cuba to Bomb Targets in Miami? Or Washington? Or both?

If Frank Joyce is to be believed, we have the perfect example of the US as Lebanon, and Cuban ex-pat terrorist groups as Hezbollah.

Jake

So you favor the ongoing movement of ground forces?

I think that those movements are too little, too late. If Israel plans to launch a full scale war with Hezbollah, I think Hezbollah will just get out of the way and leave Israel punching at air. They may kill some line fighters, but those are relatively easy to replace.

if Hezbollah took up residence in Ontario, and started firing rockets on Buffalo, you'd advocate negotiations? And oppose wiping them out?

when "wiping them out" is a practical impossibility, your choices are reduced.

Okay, you're saying that if Hezbollah took up residence in Ontario, and started firing rockets on Buffalo, you'd advocate negotiations? And oppose wiping them out?

Let's turn the asking questions thing around. If the only way for Israel to be secure from rocket attacks were to expel everyone within 25 miles of its border and then try very hard to kill anyone who entered that zone, would you consider that policy acceptable? You seem to be saying that the fact that Israel is in a very, very difficult security situation makes it morally acceptable for Israel to use force in ways that might otherwise be unacceptable. How far does that principle go?

"If Israel wanted to destroy Hezbollah, then they should have attacked them with the level of force necessary to do that. That would have meant full-scale war in southern Lebanon, of course, but it was the only chance Israel had to eliminate Hezbollah as a serious military force."

This is the reason I'm so troubled. When Israel drops leaflets saying they are going to bomb an area, they are giving enough warning that Hezbollah fighters can escape. This is of course very counterproductive to destroying Hezbollah, but strongly supports the idea that Israel really wants to protect civilians as much as possible. Nevertheless, Israel gets strongly condemned.

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