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July 25, 2006

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The only thing about the conflict in Lebanon that concerns me now is how it affects U.S. interests. I don't think we have much of a dog in this fight, frankly.

Ah, if only it were so. From Abu Aardvard, who has been monitoring the Arab media closely:

The call for an immediate ceasefire has become more or less universal now, other than from the United States and Israel: even the pro-American Arab states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, which initially blamed Hezbollah for the crisis, are now loudly demanding an immediate ceasefire.

America is totally alone on this. And more than most Americans might realize, America is being blamed for Israel's actions. The shift in Arab public discourse over the last week has been palpable. For the first few days, the split between the Saudi media and the "al-Jazeera public" which I wrote about at the time. Then for a few days, horror at the humanitarian situation, fury with the Arab states for their impotence, speculation about the endgame, and full-throated condemnation of Israeli aggression. But for the last few days, the main trend has been unmistakable: an increasing focus on the United States as the villain of the piece. (That the Israeli bombing of Beirut stopped just long enough for Condoleeza Rice's photo op certainly didn't help.)

How does one negotiate with someone who doesn't recognize your right to exist?

Are you under the astounding impression that there have been no negotiations with various Palestinian organizations or political entities? Ever?

double,

Hamas doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, nor does Hezbollah.

Stan, I'm just dying to know -- how do you think the Palestinian issue will eventually be resolved?

double,

What's tomorrow's lotto numbers? I am dying to know!

What's tomorrow's lotto numbers? I am dying to know!

I didn't ask you how it would be resolved, I was asking if you see a way forward to a solution. You don't, obviously.

double,

They will finally realize that killing sucks and we are all humans and that stuff that their imams teach em about 72 virgins is BS, etc.

In your version of the world, anyway... :)

If you think I'm going to engage you, Stan, you dishonest, tu quoque-er, you, think again.

You may want to note, however, that OCSteve -- the person to whom I was actually speaking -- does not live in Israel, either, so his opinion on the matter is worth exactly what you suppose mine is worth.

Phil,

"If you think I'm going to engage you, Stan, you dishonest, tu quoque-er, you, think again."

Oh, no! I thought I had you there, but you showed me!

"You may want to note, however, that OCSteve -- the person to whom I was actually speaking"

Sorry, didn't realize it was a private conversation. You should've emailed him instead of taking up space on this thread with your private convos.

Interesting link, dpu. I'm not sure how to what extent I agree with the assertion (in the Abu Aardvark piece) that Israel is the USA's "client state" and that we have the power to force Israel to halt the bombing. That the ME media and public view America as some sort of puppet master is not surprising, but that doesn't make it true. I do agree that the Bush administration is unlikely to try very hard.

"So, if some guy punches you in the nose in a bar, OCSteve advocates -- explicitly -- beating him to death where he stands. Noted."

Hmm, no. But if a guy punches me in the face, tells me he knows where my sister lives and that he intends to rape her is next seen by me breaking into her house--I may very well beat him to death where he stands.

I'm not sure how to what extent I agree with the assertion (in the Abu Aardvark piece) that Israel is the USA's "client state" and that we have the power to force Israel to halt the bombing.

I'm not sure either, but I do know that a significant portion of Israel's debt is held by the US, that its military is heavily dependent on US arms, and that is has received an enormous amount of US aid throughout its history.

I'm not sure that makes it a client state, but there is a generally perceived notion that the two countries are closely bound.

Stan LS: They will finally realize that...

Stan, all I can say is that I ghope that this level of thinking isn't shared by the other conservatives here. To much hand-waving for me to take seriously, sorry.

ghope == hope above

Ok choose, lose the few inocents that will be lost tragically through collateral damage in this conflict or the many many thousands more that would die as a result of allowing Hezbollah to continue to exist as it does and continue to threaten Israel?

Just curious Sebastian, would you beat this man to death accepting (or ignoring) any resulting consequences or would you feel completely in your right to do it?

...result of allowing Hezbollah to continue to exist as it does...

It's now becoming apparent that not only will Hezbollah continue to exist despite the Israeli military action, but it will come out with more support within Lebanon, improved prestige and popularity in the Arab world, and new sources of funding and recruits.

Sebastian, you (along with some buzzing mosquito) are awfully eager to answer on behalf of OCSteve, but read what the man wrote. In response to If someone attacks you, there's a point at which your response crosses a line and stops being mere self-defense and becomes a horror of its own, he wrote:

Wrong. You honor the threat. You don’t stop until you wipe it out.

Note, he didn't say, "Well, if further threats to another party, and then caught in flagrante . . ." or anything of the sort. He said "Wrong," period. That, in response to an attack, you "wipe out the threat." If that means something other than "beat the nose-puncher to death on the spot," I'll let him explain it; but otherwise, the words are right there, and I think you're being overgenerous in trying to make it mean something different.

", but it will come out with more support within Lebanon, improved prestige and popularity in the Arab world, and new sources of funding and recruits."

So they should instead do what? Negotiate with the terrorists? Certainly that won't empower them.

Or better yet, Israel should just ignore Hezbollah when they attack them or kidnap their soldiers, right? They need to just stay with the status quo, because it will only get worse if they resist terrorists.

We all need to become complacent and just try not to upset the terrorists. Follow in Spain's foodsteps.

Texaggie79:

Wiki:"Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or ETA (Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom"; IPA pronunciation: [ˈɛːta]) is a paramilitary Basque nationalist organization that seeks to create an independent socialist state for the Basque people in the Basque Country, separate from Spain and France. On March 22, 2006, the organization declared a permanent ceasefire stating it will commit itself "to promote a democratic process in the Basque Country in order to build a new framework within which our rights as a people are recognized, and guarantee the opportunity to develop all political options in the future." ETA is considered by Spain, France, the European Union, and the United States to be a terrorist organization, with more than 800 killings attributed to it."

?

Texaggie: "lose the few inocents that will be lost tragically through collateral damage in this conflict or the many many thousands more that would die as a result of allowing Hezbollah to continue to exist as it does and continue to threaten Israel?"

It's not "few innocents'. So far, it's around four hundred, I forget how many wounded, and as of yesterday 800,000 people fleeing for their lives. During the last six years, before the onset of this conflict, I count twenty one Israelis killed by Hezbollah.

StanLS: Let's please not play the 'do you live in Israel?' game. I mean, I could go there, as someone who knows Israelis who have been wounded in combat, who has a lot of friends in Israel now, and who spent the beginning of the last Lebanese war, when it looked as though Syria might come in, a couple of kilometers from the Golan, at pretty much the exact spot where Syria would be most likely to come across. I know the inside of a bomb shelter, and not by choice. And so on, and so forth.

But that's irrelevant. What matters are the arguments people make, not their experiences. And 'you don't live in Israel' is not an argument.

I don't know if this will be helpful, but I think goading OCSteve and Stan into making statements they are probably not going to say in real life (I feel certain Seb isn't going to let a situation get to the point he hypothesizes at 8:13) may be emotionally satisfying, but it just stinks up the place. Respectfully, more links and ideas, less hyperbolic analogies please.

And Texaggie: What Israel should do is: whatever action will best serve its interests without being morally horrific. What we are discussing, among other things, is whether Israel's actions will in fact advance its interests by making its people safer. If the answer is 'no', why on earth should Israel perform them?

hilzoy,

StanLS: Let's please not play the 'do you live in Israel?' game.

Actually, I am not the one playing that game. I was pointing out Phil's hypocracy in his post:

No bill is too large for the guy who's not picking up the tab. You risk nothing, so what the hell do you care?

I was pointing out the fact that Phil is not picking up the tab, either...

What matters are the arguments people make, not their experiences.

I agree 100%

Sorry, LJ, but if someone is going to argue -- again -- that it's time to "end this once and for all," I don't find it as unproductive as you apparently do to suss out what they mean by both "end this" and "once in for all." I'm sure I'll save a lot more Israeli and Lebanese lives by typing "a href= . . . " but I'd still like to know where people are coming from.

double,

Stan, all I can say is that I ghope that this level of thinking isn't shared by the other conservatives here.

But what's your line of thinking? You just dimiss everything as boogyman and have this ideal version of the world which does not reflect reality.

If the answer is 'no', why on earth should Israel perform them?

I think the questio is, "Why on Earth WOULD Israel perform them?"

Have you lived surrounded by countries full of people who want to see your state initialed? Have you had over 50 years of experience surviving within that hostile environment?

I think Israel knows what it is doing...

hilzoy,

whatever action will best serve its interests without being morally horrific

How are they morally horrific? Israel flew 4,500 sorties in the past 2 weeks over Lebanon. You are going to have a hard time proving that Israel is targeting civilians if those 4,500 sorties result in several hundred civilian casualties.

Well, I tried. Have at it.

Texaggie: again, where I have and have not lived is irrelevant. However, as I said, one of the questions up for grabs is whether what Israel is doing will benefit them in the long run. History does not suggest to me that Israel or any other state always acts wisely. In this instance, I think it is not.

StanLS: I don't think Israel is deliberately targeting civilians, as I said on some previous thread. However, I also don't think that's the only way something can be morally horrific.

To pick a non-Israel example: we could kill Osama bin Laden right now, by the simple expedient of blowing up the planet. The fact that everyone on earth who wasn't Osama (or a member of al Qaeda) would "only" be collateral damage does not make this non-horrific.

Call me crazy, but I like to know the premises from which people are arguing. You clearly don't. Noted and moving on.

hilzoy,

"However, I also don't think that's the only way something can be morally horrific."

Well, no one is arguing that all war is horrific, but lets keep in mind who started this war - the blame rests on their shoulders.

As for a non-Israel example. How about Hitler. He could've been stopped in the 1930's, no? Who knows, maybe that war would've resulted in 100,000 casualties. Maybe 200,000. That's a lot, but definately not even close to WW2's body count. So why should Israel sit there and wait for the Hezbollah to ugprade its capability even further?

StanLS: Again, it all depends on whether you think that the present actions by Israel will in fact help in the long run. I do not. Thus, I don't see this as a choice between 'stop them now' and 'take enormous casualties later'. I see it as a choice between 'stop now, or preferably after the second day or so' and 'make your problem with Hezbollah worse and rack up civilian casualties'.

Stan LS wrote

"How are they morally horrific? Israel flew 4,500 sorties in the past 2 weeks over Lebanon. You are going to have a hard time proving that Israel is targeting civilians if those 4,500 sorties result in several hundred civilian casualties."

Sigh. Nobody is claiming that Israel is killing as many civilians as it possibly can. The claim is that they are at the very least being rather careless in bombing Beirut neighborhoods and in using cluster munitions in populated areas.

Besides, even really terrible governments usually don't kill as many civilians as they possibly could. Maybe Pol Pot did, and the Hutus in Rwanda. The Nazis, of course, with respect to Jews and maybe there are other examples. But most brutal governments fall far short of that standard.

Donald,

Still, 4,500 sorties - several hundred dead. What's the ratio here?

"Nobody is claiming that Israel is killing as many civilians as it possibly can. The claim is that they are at the very least being rather careless in bombing Beirut neighborhoods and in using cluster munitions in populated areas."

This is a problem I'm actually willing to suggest might be "of the left". If we take war crimes seriously, Hezbollah is responsible for every civilian death caused by mixing military and civilian objects. If every news report of civilian deaths caused by such mixing reported it as such, I think that would make a great difference in the propaganda game--which is the game that Hezbollah is primarily playing.

If we take war crimes seriously, Hezbollah is responsible for every civilian death caused by mixing military and civilian objects.

Isn't it possible for a given civilian death to be the result of war crimes by both Hezbollah and Israel? E.g., if Hezbollah commits a war crime by caching weapons in a preschool, isn't it possible that Israel would also be committing a war crime by bombing the preschool if the foreseeable (expected, anticipated?) collateral damage was disproportionate to the significance of the cache?

no it isn't Sebastian. You don't know Intl Humanitarian Law. Neither do I by the way, but I know people who do & I seem to have absorbed a little more by osmosis. The French resistance mixed military & civilian objects & the ANC mixed in with the civilian population, as well as hmm, every insurgency ever. It does not mean that the opposing force can just wipe out huge swaths of the population and say "it's their fault for hiding" and charge the war crimes to the insurgencies account. (I wouldn't characterize Israel as wiping out a huge swatch of the Lebanese population but your argument could be used by a government who did.)

The war is a vivid memory in our country. Quit a lot of the people who lived through it still live and talk to children and grandchildren. That makes both war and being occupied more than a theoretical concept.

*If* your country is occupied, what are you supposed to do Sebastian? Lie still and play dead? Do as you're told? What would be an appropriate course of action in your opinion?

Ummm...Hizbollah isn't an insurgency. Well, it might be one now, but as of a couple of weeks ago, Lebanon was only occupied by Lebanese.

"It does not mean that the opposing force can just wipe out huge swaths of the population and say "it's their fault for hiding" and charge the war crimes to the insurgencies account."

No it doesn't and "it's their fault for hiding" isn't what I said. I said that when you mix military and civilian objects, and the other side targets the military object--destroying civilian objects and killing civilians as a result, the war crime accrues to the person who mixed the two together.

Just because Hezbollah launches rockets from within a hospital doesn't mean that targeting all hospitals is ok. But if you have legitimate reasons to believe that they are in that particular one, you can bomb it and the war crime accrues to Hezbollah.

Slarti: that does not answer my question though.

All I know is that I didn't think well of Hezbollah before and whether or not they started it is questionable but now I think of them as the victims and Israel as the aggresor.

After all wasn't there a similar situation in Nazi Germany, where the Nazi's destoroyed several Jewish towns as punishment for the death of two of their Nazi soldiers? Guess the Israeli's have learned from the Nazi's

Israel is not destroying towns, in reprisal or otherwise.

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