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July 25, 2006

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And though it all, Israel has avoided targeting civilians.

looks like they need to be a little more careful.

    An airstrike hit a U.N. post in the southern Lebanese city of Khiyam late Tuesday, causing casualties, according to the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

    Lebanese security forces said it was an Israeli airstrike and four U.N. observers were killed, but UNIFIL said it had no further information on the attack.

Its goal is to degrade Hizbollah so that it is no longer an effective fighting force.

Well, last time they tried this, they wiped out Hezbollah fairly quickly and we never heard from them again.

Wait! What's that, you say? Israel occupied Southern Lebanon for just short of twenty years and failed to eliminate Hezbollah? Huh! Well, I'm sure it'll work this time around.

I actually agree that Israel's quasi-invasion of Lebanon was probably a strategic mistake ... But I think ... that her prescription -- STOP! -- is the wrong one.

umm, isn't the first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging? if what Israel is doing is a strategic mistake, then shouldn't it find a way to stop?

Hizbollah intentionally targets civilians.

And so does Israel. Did you have a point to make there, Von?

"And so does Israel."

Do you some evidence there for that equivalence, Anderson?

"umm, isn't the first rule of being in a hole is to stop digging?"

Probably the second rule is "sometimes you have to dig your way out". No claim as to its applicability here.

Wait! What's that, you say? Israel occupied Southern Lebanon for just short of twenty years and failed to eliminate Hezbollah? Huh! Well, I'm sure it'll work this time around.

If you read the post, you'll see that I'm not convinced that Israel's policy will work.

Probably the second rule is "sometimes you have to dig your way out".

Well, if after thirty years you haven't succeeded, why not keep trying the same damn thing for the next thirty?

If you read the post, you'll see that I'm not convinced that Israel's policy will work.

But evidently, you're not not convinced enough to want them to stop.

If we grant Israel a right to defend itself, we cannot held it responsible for the evils of its adversary.

If this is intended to mean that we can't hold Israel responsible for killing civilians if Hezbollah has evilly placed itself in close proximity to those civilians, it's just wrong. The right to self-defense does not extend to killing however many third parties you need to kill to get at the people you're defending against. Some third parties, yes, but harm done to third parties is a limiting factor on what sort of actions are permissible in self-defense, and that doesn't change when the evildoers are particularly evil.

Israel's goal is to degrade Hizbollah so that it is no longer an effective fighting force. It is impossible to do that without disrupting Hizbollah's supply chain, command and control, and to take on Hizbollah's fighters directly.

This was the thinking behind bombing Cambodia. We all know how well that turned out.

If this is intended to mean that we can't hold Israel responsible for killing civilians if Hezbollah has evilly placed itself in close proximity to those civilians, it's just wrong. The right to self-defense does not extend to killing however many third parties you need to kill to get at the people you're defending against. Some third parties, yes, but harm done to third parties is a limiting factor on what sort of actions are permissible in self-defense, and that doesn't change when the evildoers are particularly evil.

Ahh. Thus, so long as I hide my missile launcher in an orphanage -- and keep the orphans around me as human shields -- I can launch as many missiles at Israel and kill as many Israeli civilians as I want.

Beirut, incidentally, is not a Hezbollah stronghold. Why is Israel bombing Beirut? Why, for that matter, is Israel bombing Lebanon's civilian infrastructure? It's pretty damn obvious by now that this is not merely a case of the IDF targeting known Hezbollah agents that happen to live in civilian areas; this is a case of the IDF destroying power plants, factories, dairies, grain silos, carloads of fleeing civilians. At some point this crosses the line from "regrettable tragedy of war" to "targeting noncombatants."

"Those who decry Israel's response as disprotionate are really saying that Israel's end -- stopping Hizbollah's rocket attacks -- is improper. But that can't be true. "

The end justifies the means?

Nuking Lebanon would surely stop Hizbollah's rocket attacks. Would that be proper?

To follow up on my comment to DaveL:

Israel is responsible for the orphan's deaths when it acts to prevent the deaths of other innocents? What if we could have shot down the air liner cruising toward the WTT on 9-11; would the fact that innocents may die preclude us from acting?

Maybe Kant would say so (nihilist!), but that's only one (of many reasons) why there is no Kantian theory of foreign policy.

"If this is intended to mean that we can't hold Israel responsible for killing civilians if Hezbollah has evilly placed itself in close proximity to those civilians, it's just wrong."

"Wrong" seems over-strong there. I think most people agree killing some number of civilians to protect civilians is acceptable action for a state - the interesting question is "how many given what degree of certainty about the numbers".

The only way to get Hezbollah out of Lebanon is to build up the Lebanese government to the point where it has the strength and support to dig it out by themselves.

It's very difficult to see how the current attacks strengthen the Lebanese government. In particular, the attacks on civilian infrastructure (power plants in particular) make it look like Israel *wants* a "failed state" on its border.

The end justifies the means?

No. The ends must be proportionate to the means. What I'm pointing out is Hilzoy isn't giving the ends a fair hearing in assessing whether the means are proportionate.

And still it must be said that hundreds of Lebanese civilians have died, and hundreds more have been wounded, and hundreds of thousands more have been turned into refugees, as a result of a military operation whose nominal goal is the retrieval of two captured soldiers. There is simply no way to justify the former as a logical outcome of the latter.

Do you some evidence there for that equivalence, Anderson?

Sure, Rilkefan, that would be ... the news for the last two weeks? Not to mention the "10 buildings for 1 missile" principle reported in the Jerusalem Post, & mentioned several times in the previous thread?

You might look here and here and here, if you would like your memory refreshed.

As for Von: yes, Von, situating the missile launcher in an orphanage does make your *bombing the freakin' orphanage* an unacceptable means of dealing with the launcher, if you have other means available that offer a more discriminating attack.

And how many civilians have been killed by these missiles since this war began? 20? Versus, what, 350 Lebanese civilians dead? Hello?

"Why is Israel bombing Beirut?"

It isn't. It is targeting particular buildings in Beruit.

That is a distinction with a big difference.

Hezbollah targets cities as a whole. It aims missiles in the general direction of a large city and fires. A city as a whole is not typically a legitimate target.

Israel targets particular buildings which Hezbollah has located inside cities. Sometimes Israel misses and hits nearby civilian objects (or people). That sucks. That isn't the same as "bombing a city".

Beirut, incidentally, is not a Hezbollah stronghold.

The Southern Suburbs of Beirut, however, are. Which is why they've been largely targeted.

"Thus, so long as I hide my missile launcher in an orphanage -- and keep the orphans around me as human shields -- I can launch as many missiles at Israel and kill as many Israeli civilians as I want."

What if you only *think* there *could be* be a launcher in the orphanage?

Or in an ambulance?

"A city as a whole is not typically a legitimate target"

At least not if you're a rich country.

"Why is Israel bombing Beirut?"

As noted a number of times here, Hezbollah has offices in Beirut, and the infrastructure there (e.g. the airport) is of military use to Hezbollah.

"IDF destroying power plants"

I think you mean "disabling power plants by destroying the easily-repaired transformers", but perhaps not.

What I'm pointing out is Hilzoy isn't giving the ends a fair hearing in assessing whether the means are proportionate.

The only party whose ends are being served by these means is Hezbollah. I have heard no one make a convincing case otherwise.

"As for Von: yes, Von, situating the missile launcher in an orphanage does make your *bombing the freakin' orphanage* an unacceptable means of dealing with the launcher, if you have other means available that offer a more discriminating attack."

So far as I know, they don't. And I'm not sure it holds as a general rule anyway. If Hezbollah sets up an orphanage as a trap and keeps firing missiles from it, Israel isn't required to let Hezbollah kill 100 soldiers trying to take it when they could bomb it.

If you know of better means to stop Hezbollah from launching missiles into Israel, please feel free to share it.

What if you only *think* there *could be* be a launcher in the orphanage?

Jon H, I cannot give you a rulebook on this one. The fact that right and wrong -- proportionate and disproportionate -- exist does not mean that they are always knowable. What I can say is that Israel's response is uncontrovertibly proportional to its ends of degrading Hizbollah.

It isn't. It is targeting particular buildings in Beruit.

That is a distinction with a big difference.

Hezbollah targets cities as a whole.

Let's see: blowing up an entire 10-12-story building to kill what may be some enemies inside, vs. tossing your bomb into a city?

I fail to see the moral superiority.

Juan Cole, I noticed, agrees that Hezbollah's inaccurate missiles make its missile attacks war crimes. That's not the issue. The issue is that Israel is not killing 300+ civilians *by accident*. The burden is on Israel to demonstrate otherwise.

"And how many civilians have been killed by these missiles since this war began? 20? Versus, what, 350 Lebanese civilians dead? Hello?"

Once again, Hezbollah has claimed about 3 deaths of their forces. That is rather unlikely. How many of those civilians were Hezbollah? And why should Israel be punished for having a vastly better civil defense system? (Vastly better than anywhere else in the world in fact).

I also second Sebastian's 6:24 p.m. comment to Jon H.

Anderson, not to be pedantic, but you need evidence that Israel is intentionally targeting civilians to make your claim, not that Israel is killing civilians.

Christmas: "as a result of a military operation whose nominal goal is the retrieval of two captured soldiers. There is simply no way to justify the former as a logical outcome of the latter."

Note that there's other stuff at issue here.

The issue is that Israel is not killing 300+ civilians *by accident*.

What, Israel is killing these civilians intentionally? Where's the evidence of that? And specifics, please.

"The burden is on Israel to demonstrate otherwise."

Really? I'm not so sure that is the case. Perhaps the burden should be on Hezbollah (since it violates the rules of distinction by failing to separate itself from civilians) to prove that the people killed were not members of Hezbollah. Also they started the war.

350 dead in a week-long series of bombing raids isn't very much from a historical perspective. You avoid war in general to avoid things like that. But once in a war, that isn't very many.

So far as I know, they don't.

Two words: ground troops.

But okay. I see that murdering hundreds of civilians, deliberately or recklessly, in a foolish war that cannot possibly achieve its objective, is A-OK with ObWi's right wing. Why did I ever think otherwise?

You avoid war in general to avoid things like that.

Evidently not.

Hezbollah targets cities as a whole. It aims missiles in the general direction of a large city and fires. A city as a whole is not typically a legitimate target.

I suggest a fundraising campaign so that Hezbollah can be provided with high-tech guided missiles. While on the surface this might be seen as supporting a terrorist group, it would be likely transforming a terrorist group into a bona fide military force that would have the technical capability to target just military targets. Or power plants, roads, bridges, airport runways, ambulances, and fleeing refugees flying white flags, as these also seem to be legitimate war targets these days.

We could call it the "Smart Money for Smart Missiles" campaign or something.

Who's in?

What I can say is that Israel's response is uncontrovertibly proportional to its ends of degrading Hizbollah.

not only can you say it, you did say it. That doesn't mean you're right. In fact, threads here and on other blogs pretty convincingly prove the statement false; the proportionality of the response is controverted.

You yourself controverted the proportionality of the response in your own post, when you said that the response might be a strategic mistake.

Let's try the following syllogism:

A. Al Qaeda attacks the US.
B. The US attacks Iraq in response.
C. The US's response, no matter how careful the US is in avoiding civilian casualties not proportional to its ends of degrading Al Qaeda.

why? because the mistake is in the decision, not the execution.

I believe Israel would have been much better off in its tactical and strategic goals if it had (a) told everyone to flee; (b) established safe corridors; (c) said that no trucks would be allowed in the safe corridors; (d) rolled in ground troops and (e) announced to the world that it was going to go get the missiles and launchers and take them by force.

"So far as I know, they don't. And I'm not sure it holds as a general rule anyway. If Hezbollah sets up an orphanage as a trap and keeps firing missiles from it, Israel isn't required to let Hezbollah kill 100 soldiers trying to take it when they could bomb it."

Hate to quote myself, but I need to expand.

There is a war crime involved upon bombing the orphanage at this point. The crime accrues to the party which hid the military target in the civilian object.

The Geneva rules are set up that way

A) to discourage people from mixing military targets with civilian objects and;

B) because it was obvious when they were writing the rules that if you were being shot at from the civilian object, you were eventually going to shoot back.

I know that this picture portrays the practices of Hamas and Fatah, but I daresay that Hizballah uses the same tactics.

Hizballah attacks against Israelis haven't only occurred in Lebanon.

von: "What I'm pointing out is Hilzoy isn't giving the ends a fair hearing in assessing whether the means are proportionate."

Actually, I haven't discussed the question whether the means are proportionate much, as far as I can recall. That's because I do not think that the present campaign is, in fact, a means to the end of dealing a decisive blow to Hezbollah, or protecting Israeli citizens for more than, say, six months, and that in the long run it will harm Israel.

If it would actually achieve the goals stated for it, then we could discuss whether or not it was proportionate. But if it won't, then I think it;s just clearly deeply unwise, and should be stopped asap.

About this: "Worse than engaging in a bad policy would be to engage in a bad policy badly: we have learned that, have we not, from Iraq. Israel has to play this one out." -- In Iraq, we are actually doing something, in an ongoing way, and doing it badly. Stopping bombing would just, well, stop the bombing. What actual reason is there to think that this would be (a) worse than not stopping, and (b) enough worse to compensate for the deaths we can expect as the result of another week of bombing?

And as an aside: there is, in fact, such a thing as Kantian foreign policy. I quite like it, actually, though as one would expect, there are outdated parts.

Sebastian, the headquarters of Hezbollah is in Southern Beruit in a heavily populated area. It has been hit repeatedly by Israeli ordinance, causing an enormous amount of damage to the surrounding area.

Now, this isn't quite the rocket launcher in the crying orphan's crib that you are postulating. Do you think this is a case of Hezbollah using human shields?

For that matter, how many rocket launching sites have been found in Lebanese orphanages?

And why are these things being called "rockets" instead of "missiles" anyway?

"disabling power plants by destroying the easily-repaired transformers","

You don't repair destroyed high voltage transformers, not if you're sane. You replace them. Which takes a long time, but not as long as a generator would.

"I see a strong possibility that this latest round will end up biting Israel in the butt. Yet, having committed, leaving the job half done can't be an option. Worse than engaging in a bad policy would be to engage in a bad policy badly: we have learned that, have we not, from Iraq. Israel has to play this one out. The calls to withdraw are premature."

You(We?) are gonna lose, von. You're all confused, fighting terrorism as if it were Vietnam as farce with WWII pep talks and tactics. You don't even understand what you are fighting well enough to even recognize that you have already lost. In fact, you really have no option, either terrorism or the old order (conservatism, used to include HRC) has to lose decisively, so the old order will commit suicide. You cannot win and remain what you are. Only by losing, nobly and with somebody else's sacrifice, can you hold on to your old affects and symbols.

The DaVinci Clods

Billmon only gets about half what Newberry does. Billmon understands that the IDF is losing in Lebanon in the same way Bushco is losing in Iraq;Billmon understands why and how; Billmon doesn't quite understand why Hezbollah and Sadr are winning...

...and why the PTB need to lose.

"Sebastian, the headquarters of Hezbollah is in Southern Beruit in a heavily populated area. It has been hit repeatedly by Israeli ordinance, causing an enormous amount of damage to the surrounding area.

Now, this isn't quite the rocket launcher in the crying orphan's crib that you are postulating. Do you think this is a case of Hezbollah using human shields?"

Yes.

I know that this picture portrays the practices of Hamas and Fatah, but I daresay that Hizballah uses the same tactics.

Uh, what exactly are the circumstances of that photo? Is that a militant in a firefight with the IDF? Could those kids behind the birm be, I don't know, be there for cover instead of being forced human shields?

C'mon.

Yes.

So where should the headquarters be? In an empty field somewhere? Does the US plan on removing the Pentagon from a heavily populated region anytime soon?

And keep in mind that Hezbollah is not simply a military/guerrilla/terrorist organization, it has a large component that deals with hospityals, schools, food services, and other civic responsibilities. Putting it on a remote hilltop with plashing neon arrows pointing at it, while obliging to the IDF, might crimp availability of those services.

I've got to hand it to you Von, if nothing else, you're consistent.

No matter how addle-pated the concept or ham-handed the execution, you want(ed?) to see the U.S. remain in Iraq.

And now we have the Israel situation. I can only wonder if their population is going to grow as sickened as quickly at the pointlessness of this endeavour as the majority of the American public? Probably not, given their proximity to Hizballah.

So there's now two unwinnable situations in the middle east, with the ususal neo-con suspects pushing for a trifecta. It looks like the decade of the '00's will go down as the era of Pyrrhic victories.

hilzoy: "If it would actually achieve the goals stated for it, then we could discuss whether or not it was proportionate."

Note that it would have to achieve not necessarily any set of stated goals but just useful goals - it's not a priori clear to me that it won't - or it would have to be better than the other available options - which is also not clear to me. Measuring degress of badness is a difficult matter.

Actually, I'm going to quibble about "achieve" as well - there ought to be something like "was intended to achieve blah and was carried out with reasonable care" there.

Re stopping the bombing, of course it would give Hezbollah time to regroup, and it might lead to an ignominious retreat by the Israelis leading to greater likelihood of violence in the future (which might well happen anyway of course).

And why are these things being called "rockets" instead of "missiles" anyway?

Finally, a question I can answer.

Rockets are dumb weapons. Fuel and warhead: light them and they fly until they run out of fuel, and they explode when they hit their target.

Missiles have seeking capability and can alter their trajectory while in flight.

It has been hit repeatedly by Israeli ordinance

Do you mean ordinances, or ordnance? There's a wee spot of difference, although the results can be devastating in either case.

I am absenting myself from felicity while, and you won't have Bob to kick you around as much anymore.

It is depressing beyong measure. WWII is the wrong metaphor. We are watching the Guns of August again. I guess I could hate the madness repeating in the old man's sentiments written in blood in new Verduns and Sommes...

ok I will hate the madmen.

ack

You(We?) are gonna lose, von.

You're mistaken, bob. von's not on the team.

Spelling mishap, Slarti. I meant big exploding things.

What, Israel is killing these civilians intentionally? Where's the evidence of that? And specifics, please.

Here and here. How much do you suppose cars full of children look like Katyusha rockets through IDF missile sights? And the IDF bombs ambulances here. ``We count on Israel to respect the neutrality of the Red Cross, but they don't."

Here's something on Israel using cluster bombs in civilian areas, which isn't really news but is pretty damn indiscriminate.

"Missiles have seeking capability and can alter their trajectory while in flight."

Not quite accurate if you're saying they have a seeker. More succinctly, missiles are guided; rockets are unguided. Rockets cannot steer.

"Spelling mishap, Slarti. I meant big exploding things."

Yeah, I knew that. But there was humor there to be had, damnit.

"We count on Israel to respect the neutrality of the Red Cross, but they don't"

There's a rich history of Palestinians not respecting the neutrality of...isn't it the Red Crescent?

How much do you suppose cars full of children look like Katyusha rockets through IDF missile sights?

I would suspect that was mistaken intelligence, as they are undoubtably trying to also kill Hezbollah soldiers leaving the area.

What is really unfortunate is that they are dropping leaflets telling people to leave, then killing them on the road. Not nice.

Yikes. Having just read all the comments in Hilzoy's thread, AND what has gone on in the open thread, I stepping back from all this. See y'all down the road a bit. No aspersions on anyone, it's just a matter of heading out to the parking lot before people start breaking pool cues.

"So where should the headquarters be? In an empty field somewhere? Does the US plan on removing the Pentagon from a heavily populated region anytime soon?"

The Pentagon is most certainly not in a heavily populated region in the same way that Hezbollah headquarters is. Presuming we let the Israeli air force fly in, they could total the Pentagon without destroying civilian objects. You are using the term "region" to describe two very different scales. It is as if you said "bombing in San Diego County" (4200 square miles) and "bombing in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego city (maybe 5 square miles).

"How much do you suppose cars full of children look like Katyusha rockets through IDF missile sights?"

Have you considered the idea that they could have been next to a legitimate target when the missile was fired? This is what happens when Hezbollah refuses to distinguish and separate itself from civilians.

And I don't buy that Beirut is a legitimate target akin to the rockets in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is not launching rockets out of Beirut; whatever small gains are made by knocking down Nasrallah's office are completely outweighed by the risk to the large number of civilians who happen to live in Beirut because it's the commercial and political hub of the country, and as such is the most populated city in Lebanon. It's simply amoral to weigh life that cheaply.

Have you considered the idea that they could have been next to a legitimate target when the missile was fired?

Have you read those articles? They were fleeing precisely because the IDF told them to - and they were killed anyway.

The Pentagon is most certainly not in a heavily populated region in the same way that Hezbollah headquarters is.

I suggest a fundraiser so that Hezbollah can set up a massive well-defended military centre not near any civilian, uh, objects.

While on the surface, this may seem like support of a terrorist organization, in will be in fact their opportunity to demonstrate that they are not simply putting their political headquarters in an area that serves their political support in order to use them as human shields.

We can call the campaign ... uh .... hang on ... "Bricks to Beruit" or something.

Who's in?

There's a rich history of Palestinians not respecting the neutrality of...isn't it the Red Crescent?

This is a complete non sequitur. What does that have to do with the fact that Israel is, indeed, targeting civilians?

if von and CB and andrew are like the old fools who started the insanity that led the youth of Europe to march proudly into the machine guns...

the rest of you look like the disarmament movement, circa 1905. Just a lil' silly, folks. At least Emma, Vladimir Ilyich, and the anarchists understood that everything was gonna blow up. The kings wore the commoner's crown.

Dada, Dada, Dada

Have you considered the idea that they could have been next to a legitimate target when the missile was fired?

Yeah, they were probably had a rocket on the roof rack or something.

SH: "they could have been next to a legitimate target when the missile was fired?"

I think the Israelis need to have a simple policy of "no shooting cars heading north", regardless of what's nearby, no exceptions tolerated, no fog of war.

Christmas: "It's simply amoral to weigh life that cheaply."

I think people arguing that bombing Nasrallah's HQ is effective would counter that you're weighing Israeli lives too cheaply.

What I can say is that Israel's response is uncontrovertibly proportional to its ends of degrading Hizbollah.

I don't think there's any way, given the fog of war, that you can say it's "uncontrovertibly proportional."

A lot of the differences on this conflict are not philosophical; they are flat-out factual disputes as to whether Israel has gone overboard by selecting targets that lack a sufficient connection to Hezbollah. Again, I don't think we can sit here, reading news reports and clicking links on the Internet, and claim we know the answer with 100% certainty.

We know a lot of civilians have died from Israeli strikes. But it's a false choice to say they either died "on purpose" or "by accident." The fact is, when you launch a given attack you have an X chance of taking out a military target and a Y chance of killing someone innocent, not that either of these variables can be absolutely quantified; and if Y is too high in relation to X, you shouldn't do it. But if you launch the attack anyway, and innocent people died, it's not that you "intentionally" targeted them; it's just that you exposed them to a negligently high degree of risk. That's culpable even though it wasn't "intentional" conduct.

Hezbollah is not launching rockets out of Beirut; whatever small gains are made by knocking down Nasrallah's office are completely outweighed by the risk to the large number of civilians who happen to live in Beirut because it's the commercial and political hub of the country, and as such is the most populated city in Lebanon.

Beruit as a whole is not a legitimate target. The headquarters of your enemy is always a legitimate target. That is true whether or not the headquarters is in Beruit. The White House would be a legitimate target in a war against the US. Nuking Washington DC as a whole wouldn't be legitimate.

The fact that Beruit is the most populated city in Lebanon doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. Israel isn't leveling the city (like Syria did when fighting a similar force). It is attacking Hezbollah's structures. Hezbollah put them in civilian places. Civilians who stay near Hezbollah buildings are in danger.

"I suggest a fundraiser so that Hezbollah can set up a massive well-defended military centre not near any civilian, uh, objects."

They will take your money and not move their headquarters. They want to be mixed in with civilians. That is a part of their strategy.

Seb writes: "The Pentagon is most certainly not in a heavily populated region in the same way that Hezbollah headquarters is."

How about the recruiting station in Times Square? Not HQ, certainly, but could be considered an "office".

They will take your money and not move their headquarters. They want to be mixed in with civilians. That is a part of their strategy.

As their military seems to be humming along just fine even with the party's headquarters lying spread out over half of south Beruit, I sincerely doubt that was their military headquarters. It was their political headquarters, and as such was in the middle of their main political support, Beruit's Shia district.

I wonder if Israel's political and military headquarters are on deserted hilltops? Otherwise they too can be accused of the strategy of using the surrounding population as shields.

"This is a complete non sequitur. What does that have to do with the fact that Israel is, indeed, targeting civilians?"

Red Crescent's priveleged status being abused in the past is irrelevant? Ok. So, Israel has targeted ambulance(s) illegitimately. Let's just consider that for a moment: what do you think Israel's objective is in targeting an ambulance?

"Let's just consider that for a moment: what do you think Israel's objective is in targeting an ambulance?"

Reducing the morale of the civilian population?

Ok, let's back up. Hizbollah rains death down on Israeli civilians without regard to any rules at all, and uses the civilian population as a shield. On counterstrike, civilians are killed. Who gets the blame? Who, exactly, is showing reckless disregard for human life?

"Reducing the morale of the civilian population?"

So, your immediate answer is that Israel is willing to commit war crimes for some indeterminate end.

Well, I think that calibrates you rather neatly.

I would speculate that the reason ambulances are being sometimes targetted is because they are either mistaken for something else, or because they are suspected of being used for a military purpose, which I think is Slarti's point.

Never ascribe to malice what can be attributed to incompetence and low estimation of the costs associate with civilian casualties.

Who gets the blame?

Those firing the bullets, missiles, and artillery causing the casualties, Slart. In other words, the ones doing the killing have decided that the value of the lifes and security their own citizenry is more valuable than those of others, an understandable position. But others might do a different estimation.

As an aside, how many rockets were being fired prior to Hezbollah's over-the-border raid? I haven't been able to locate that info.

The Pentagon is most certainly not in a heavily populated region in the same way that Hezbollah headquarters is.

Uh, how to ask this without being impolite . . . ?

Are you nuts?

There's a shopping mall across the street. Along with dozens of apartments, offices, townhomes and condos. Take a look at the stuff just south, on the other side of 395. That's all commercial and residential.

"Never ascribe to malice what can be attributed to incompetence and low estimation of the costs associate with civilian casualties."

Or to the fact that you, over here, don't know anywhere near enough about the situation to make a snap judgement.

what do you think Israel's objective is in targeting an ambulance?

Perhaps this:

"...we have to sear into the Lebanese consciousness the steep price they will pay for provoking and harassing us."

The word ambulance doesn't make an appearance in that link. When he's referring to Lebanese consciousness, he's referring to Hizbollah.

Unless it's your contention that it's non-Hizbollah Lebanese that kidnapped the soldiers. If that's the case, better make it now.

"There's a shopping mall across the street."

Is that "across the fat orange highway"?

In any case, it looks big enough that a careful attacker could easily avoid civilians.

Or to the fact that you, over here, don't know anywhere near enough about the situation to make a snap judgement.

Are you in Beruit right now, Slarti?

Yes, rilkefan, the Pentagon is located an entire quarter mile from all that stuff. One can, in fact, walk from the Pentagon parking lot (or Metro stop) under the freeway to the mall. Thank heavens no attacks ever miss or are wrongly targeted.

In any case, I think it demonstrates that the Pentagon is, in fact, "located in a residential area."

Thus, so long as I hide my missile launcher in an orphanage -- and keep the orphans around me as human shields -- I can launch as many missiles at Israel and kill as many Israeli civilians as I want.

A little late responding, but the point was that Israel gets to bomb the missile launcher if and only if it's a target of sufficient importance to justify killing the orphans in order to destroy it. The fact that Hezbollah did wrong by putting its missile launcher there does not necessarily mean that Israel would not also be doing wrong by killing the orphans to destroy the launcher. It isn't the orphans' fault the missile launcher is there. If the launcher is a big enough threat to Israel to justify killing the orphans to destroy it, that's one thing, but suggesting that once Hezbollah has put the launcher there the orphans are no longer entitled to consideration is something different. I kind of thought that was part of what the whole proportionality thing was all about.

A good strategy applies strengths against the enemy's weak points. Israel's current strategy plays to Hezbollah's strengths and lessens Israel's moral and political superiority. Let's see. Israel targets infrastructure, rockets and Hezbollah members. This does not hurt Hezbollah much:

1. The infrastructure will be rebuilt with oil money and UN and EU grants.
2. The rocket resupply orders are, I assume, currently being processed in Iran or Syria.
3. Angry young men are in over-supply in the region. Israel just sows new dragon's teeth.

Israel's strength is its democracy. It should have helped the new democratic Cedar Revolution government by letting it score some quick wins (without much cost to Israel: freeing some prisoners after a nice demand by the Lebanese PM, etc.). Then, the new government could with UN help have increased democratic pressure on Hezbollah (rooting out those tunnels for instance).

Israel (and the US) cannot defeat Hezbollah, only the Arabs can (Just like the British could not defeat the IRA, only the Irish people could.).

it looks big enough that a careful attacker could easily avoid civilians.

Indeed. That's why we gave Al Qaeda such enormous credit for the great care they took.

Are you in Beruit right now, Slarti?

Nope. Neither, I'd guess, is anyone else commenting on this thread. Which of us is, though, jumping to conclusions?

Which of us is, though, jumping to conclusions?

Did I jump to a conclusion that I didn't notice? Where?

"Indeed. That's why we gave Al Qaeda such enormous credit for the great care they took."

Taking down the WTC towers? Um...I think that word care does not mean what you think it means.

Us, dpu, can in fact refer to a larger group than just you and I.

Us, dpu, can in fact refer to a larger group than just you and I.

Sure, but it was you and me doing the talking in that bit, so I, y'know...

Phil, I have no depth perception, and no familiarity with military matters more recent than 200 CE, but my guess is that a 1/4 mile distance from an object the entire other side of which can be attacked safely and which does not tower over said mall is sufficient. Attacking a ten-story building surrounded by civilians seems to be a much dicier matter.

Also one might ask about the circumstances under which the Pentagon was built - presumably the mall wasn't there. I'd further imagine the mall would be evacuated in case of a credible military threat to DC.

"There's a shopping mall across the street. Along with dozens of apartments, offices, townhomes and condos. Take a look at the stuff just south, on the other side of 395. That's all commercial and residential."

The closest thing is the Macy's Pentagon City. In between the Pentagon and the Macy's is a huge parking lot and a very large freeway. It appears to be over 1/4 mile away. Rather different from having apartment buildings that nearly abut the building.

WRT Hezbollah using civilians as shields, let's note that any Hezbollah office or building used in any Hezbollah function is a target. Considering almost all of these are being used in the charity functions of the Hezbollah, it's kind of an odd target classification. I guess it would be akin to considering any Federal buildings as military targets because they're associated with our government.

I've still yet to see anyone speak to the point that no rockets were fired to set off Israel's reaction - i.e. it was a kidnapping of soldiers, not anything to do with civilians. So, it would seem that this article pointed out at LGM would be quite appropriate here.

Finally, I think it should be obvious that abstract rules of engagement are of little value to someone who's just lost their family and loved ones. Except for those living in the bizarro world, I think pretty much everyone agrees this whole mess isn't going to be resolved militarily short of genocide which doesn't seem to (yet) be on the table. So, any civilian deaths do nothing but back slide your strategic goals. And when you have such a huge differential in civilian deaths, that effect is non-linear and staggering.

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