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July 16, 2006

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OT, so to speak, but there appears to be an ObWi shoutout at the delightful register zidane-materazzi multiple-viewpoint replay

I saw that same cartoon on Friday's post of Sandmonkey. Fascinating blog, that. Look forward to your post, Sebastian. I always read your comments with great attention.

(one of these days...) Sandmonkey.
There is a lovely post there today, BTW.

Just noticed the Brad DeLong link in the sidebar should be changed to http://delong.typepad.com.

Collective punishment, acts of terrorism….a rose by any othername.

Hezbollah's cross-border raid that captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others has provided a "unique moment" with a "convergence of interests" among Israel, some Arab regimes and even those in Lebanon who want to rein in the country's last private army, the senior Israeli official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing conflict.
Robin Wright from Washington Post

SomeOtherDude-
War casualties I can understand, especially when the combatants hide behind civilians. But things like this, I can't explain. Can you explain them to me, perhaps?
Also, how many children were killed and injured in the Mumbai train bombing last week? And why?

Bec:

It's an attempt to influence a society by brutalizing and attacking its noncombatant population - the same logic you see in something like this. It's insane and immoral regardless of which side does it, whether the means of murder is a suicide bomber or an airstrike.

That comic is nicely asinine, by the way. Will we be seeing Day By Day posted up on ObWi soon?

So what is the point of the cartoon -- everything would be peachy if Israel just kept expanding its borders? Sorry if I find it seriously unfunny.

I think the point is supposed to be that giving back territory is what has gotten Israel into trouble, since they had previously occupied Gaza and southern Lebanon.

But you know what Twain said about analyzing humor.

Whoops. That was E.B. White. Not sure why I thought it was Twain.

I realize that's what the cartoon's saying, but god damn if that's not one of the stupidest lessons anyone could take away from this mess.

Andrew: Whoops. That was E.B. White. Not sure why I thought it was Twain.

It's the concatenation of quotes effect. Mark Twain (and Winston Churchill) are generally the beneficiaries.

Well, arguably 'if we just wthdraw to border X, everyone will be happy' is one of the stupider lessons, too.

SOME, obviously, would be very happy. Others would regard it as just one incremental step towards the only acceptable solution: no Israel in the middle east.

That's not to say that withdrawl shouldn't be done, just that it MUST be done for reasons other than 'making everyone happy and ending the conflict.'

Christmas -
I still don't see your comparison. Do you really mean to say that a suicide bomber, who intentionally kills only innocent bystanders, is the same as soldiers who are attempting to hit the sources of fire power directed at them? Granted, the tragic outcome of pain and anger is usually the same but I can't understand why you think the two situations are similar. Did the terrorist think that there were military aboard the bus full of school children, or was he just wanting to bomb anyone? What about the double decker buses in London? The train in Madrid? Shall I go on? (I've avoided 9/11, but let's throw that into it, too.)
Please help. I still don't understand.

Jeff Eaton (and Andrew) - I agree.

OT, so to speak, but there appears to be an ObWi shoutout at the delightful register zidane-materazzi multiple-viewpoint replay

Oh dear god. I've spent over two hours at the Something Awful thread (and attendant ytmnd videos); I don't think I've laughed this hard in ages...

Bec,

I think what Christmas and SomeOtherDude are arguing is that Israel is hitting Lebanon in order to punish them for Hezbollah's actions, an argument that seems to have some merit. Were Israel only striking known or suspected Hezbollah targets, I think they'd have a good argument for blaming civilian casualties on Hezbollah for placing their installations in such close proximity to civilians. But many of the strikes are on strictly Lebanese targets, and are therefore in the vein of collective punishment rather than striking legitimate targets between warring parties.

I don't think it's precisely the same as terrorism, but the line is pretty fuzzy here as the goals are the same: inflict sufficient pain on the other side that they change how they operate.

Jesurgislac -
It's the concentration of quotes effect. I like that! Never heard it put that way. :)
As for the cartoon, I'd say it was "situational humor" with a little bit of understatement.

Do you really mean to say that a suicide bomber, who intentionally kills only innocent bystanders, is the same as soldiers who are attempting to hit the sources of fire power directed at them?

No, I'm saying that the logic that motivates a suicide bomber is the same as the logic of a military that destroys civilian targets and infrastructure. Israel isn't just hitting civilians who happen to get in the way. They're killing civilians who are trying to flee areas under attack, they're bombing civilian neighborhoods, they're blowing up grain silos and power plants. This isn't "collateral damage." It's a deliberate attempt to cripple a country.

Oh sorry, Andew. Didn't see you there.
I get your point, but I'm not so sure there were not some valid reasons for going after Lebanese infrastructure. At least that's what I've been reading in some of the analyses. My understanding is that Israel is attempting to isolate Lebanon from further Hezbollah assisstance. I don't think it's "punishment" in the way others have described it.

Christmas -
And if Hezbollah would stop, I'll bet you anything that Israel and the West would pitch in to help rebuild it. Syria is already offering, but I would think there is another agenda there, wouldn't you?
Hezbollah has been establishing itself in Lebanon's southern suburbs with just this end in mind. What is Israel supposed to do? They're a little trigger happy by our standards, I'd agree, but even now many young Israelis are holding peace demonstrations. What kind of demonstrations are Hezbollah holding?

Bec,

Israel may well consider each strike to be based strictly on military necessity. But this is a political operation more than a military operation, and as such perception matters. And when even warmongers like yours truly think that Israel's strikes on Lebanon smack of collective punishment rather than strictly military actions, then they're probably losing the perception battle.

Furthermore, even if they honestly believe these strikes are militarily necessary, I'm having a hard time with a lot of them. Lebanon had a chance to be a success story in the Middle East: a homegrown success, which is the only kind I think is likely to work long-term. The destruction Israel is wreaking may well dump Lebanon back into civil war or Syrian domination. They deserve better than that, particularly after all they've suffered over the past 31 years.

Bec, you seem to be conflating Hezbollah the guerilla organization with Lebanon the country. If Israel wanted to strike back just at Hezbollah, that would be justifiable - even accepting the "collateral damage" that goes with that. But they're not doing that. They're destroying airports, roads, fuel depots, graineries, office buildings, neighborhoods. This is an attack on Lebanon, not an attack on Hezbollah alone. If anything this is going to strengthen Hezbollah's hand by increasing the amount of anti-Israel hatred throughout the region.

I have no idea what point you're trying to make by pointing out that Hezbollah isn't putting on peace demonstrations. Who here is defending Hezbollah? They're a guerilla group dedicated to war and terror. They are also not the nation of Lebanon. Israel is attacking Lebanon as a whole, and is killing lots of innocent civilians in the process. The fact that Israel is going out of its way to attack civilian targets makes this reprehensible.

apropos to this, here is a Debke map (via a'quol of the location of the strikes) The first reports were that they were trying to prevent Hizbollah to transfer the prisoners, which accounted for the airport, the ports and, I presume, the main highway to Damascus, but if that is the case, why all the strikes in the Bequaa Valley. I do understand that Baalbek has become a center for Hezbollah, but the main city in the region, Zahlah, is primarily Arab Christians. Forbes points out that many of the Beruit Shiites have fled to the valley, so this suggests that the previous explanations of some sort of cordon sanitaire seem to be inoperative.

lj: I don't know what the situation is now, but back in the day, the Beka'a valley was the location of an enormous number of training camps for a variety of terrorist organizations. ('Back in the day' includes the 80s and into the 90s, after which I lost track.)

Ahh, thanks hilzoy, that q in Bequaa (along with the extra u, which shouldn't be there anyway) fooled me.

ANALYSIS: Take note of what wasn't hit from Haaritz

Andrew -
I agree with much of what you say. I hate this situation, too, and I love what Lebanon has tried to become. Unfortunately, they've had no control over the terrorist organizations in their midst and now they're paying a price that is very high.
Christmas - the point is that Hezbollah has way too much influence in Lebanon.

The cartoon makes it sound like the Israel-Lebanon shifted in 1967. That's not true.

Interesting article, Bec, and certainly worth considering. However, I find myself concerned with the last line, which is

"Those in the air force said that the targets will be expanded as it becomes clear that a terrorist group supported by Iran essentially is in control of Lebanon."

Negotiating the safe return of soldiers would have been more humane, but then no civilians get killed.

And in the end, killing civilians is the name of the game for Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces.

Treating each other as political equals would just be to terrifying, it is easier to use the bodies of innocents to “send a message.”

Bec - is Hezbollah's influence going to decrease now that Israel has killed 140 Lebanese civilians and reduced large portions of non-Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon to rubble? Once again, the point is that Israel is justified in attacking Hezbollah, and Israel is going far beyond that. Israel is attacking Lebanon as a whole, and is very specifically targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure for destruction. How can this be justified as a response to Hezbollah?

Israel's jsut announced it's going to "destroy the terrorist infrastructure" in S. Lebanon. But the only way to do that and make it permanent is to a) occupy the region, which has already been tried and didn't work very well; or b) change the Lebanon government to a staunchly anti-Syrian one, which would be great, but that's something the Lebanonese need to do, not something Israel can do for them.

SomeOtherDude -
Negotiating the safe return of soldiers would have been more humane, but then no civilians get killed.
This is a game that terrorist organizations love to play. If you give in to them, they simply do it more. Israel has tried prisoner exchanges in the past and has finally drawn a line in the sand. And is it really a fair exchange? Soldiers for convicted terrorists?
Besides, we all know that this would only encourage more kidnappings.

Treating each other as political equals would just be to terrifying, it is easier to use the bodies of innocents to “send a message.”
And who is it that sets this up? Syria and Iran are the ones encouraging and aiding the terrorist groups to callously use Lebanon in this way. So they care that this almost Western country gets demolished by Israel? They don't, from what I've been able to see.

liberal japonicus - I agree that the last line is disconcerting. It makes me uneasy. However, I feel slightly more uneasy that Iran might gain control of Lebanon.

Christmas - Is Hezbollah's influence going to increase now? Very likely. But after you've carefully studied what real options Israel has, let me know what you think it would be better for her to do.

What does Israel want? To be left alone.
What do the terrorists want? To wipe Israel off the map.

CaseyL. - If someone else could make Hezbollah and other terrorist groups stop, I'm sure that would be fine with Israel.

Yikes. I do have to get to work. Thanks for the civil discussion. I truly respect and appreciate your thoughtful comments.

Bec, that's a bit like saying that the only way Palestinians can resist the occupation is by blowing up buses in Tel Aviv. There's a bit of room between "doing nothing" and "targeting civilians for destruction."

Bec,

This is a game that terrorist organizations love to play. If you give in to them, they simply do it more. Israel has tried prisoner exchanges in the past and has finally drawn a line in the sand. And is it really a fair exchange? Soldiers for convicted terrorists? Besides, we all know that this would only encourage more kidnappings.

As opposed to the "game" of using the bodies of children to draw lines?

If Islamic terrorist are indeed playing games then why are the "civilized" Jewish terrorists playing with them?

However, this is not a game. This is about establishing "perceptions" of power. If certain actors were indeed concerned about "playing games" they would not play them.

Capturing a soldier on a hostile border is not worth the hundreds of dead bodies soon after. If you have to negotiate to save lives, then be a freaking man and do it.

And who is it that sets this up? Syria and Iran are the ones encouraging and aiding the terrorist groups to callously use Lebanon in this way. So they care that this almost Western country gets demolished by Israel? They don't, from what I've been able to see.

Maybe they knew that Israel would have no qualms demolishing the families of Lebanon. Maybe they know Israel is really not much different than them.

Bec,

This is a game that terrorist organizations love to play. If you give in to them, they simply do it more. Israel has tried prisoner exchanges in the past and has finally drawn a line in the sand. And is it really a fair exchange? Soldiers for convicted terrorists? Besides, we all know that this would only encourage more kidnappings.

As opposed to the "game" of using the bodies of children to draw lines?

If Islamic terrorist are indeed playing games then why are the "civilized" Jewish terrorists playing with them?

However, this is not a game. This is about establishing "perceptions" of power. If certain actors were indeed concerned about "playing games" they would not play them.

Capturing a soldier on a hostile border is not worth the hundreds of dead bodies soon after. If you have to negotiate to save live then be a freaking man and do it.

And who is it that sets this up? Syria and Iran are the ones encouraging and aiding the terrorist groups to callously use Lebanon in this way. So they care that this almost Western country gets demolished by Israel? They don't, from what I've been able to see.

Maybe they knew that Israel would have no qualms demolishing the families of Lebanon. Maybe they know Israel is really not much different than them.

Death to gratuitous italics!

Up with grätüitöus ümlaüts!

Christmas -
This is interesting. Also, some hope, perhaps?

Back later.

President Bush, April 18, 2006:

We took great joy in seeing the Cedar Revolution…. There’s no question in my mind that Lebanon can serve as a great example for what is possible in the broader Middle East; that out of the tough times the country has been through will rise a state that shows that it’s possible for people of religious difference to live side-by-side in peace; to show that it’s possible for people to put aside past histories to live together in a way that the people want, which is, therefore, to be peace and hope and opportunity.

I know what would work even better, let's destroy their families, so that they may learn "lessons" conserning democratic values.

SomeOtherDude -
The attack of the italics has happened to me before, too. As it is, I'm just barely becoming consistent with posting my links! (Thanks to hilzoy and Gary Farber).
See my links above to Christmas and maybe I'll call it a day! (I do have a job, after all - what am I doing?!!)

Gee, I wonder why this cartoon didn't mention the Sinai?

Posted by: Bec | July 17, 2006 at 02:26 PM

i KNOW, i KNOW, This whole thing is soul crushing...and my cultivation profiles and wealth & assets reports refuse to write themselves.

Bec: helpful hint: if you have one of those nice programs that lets you keep often-used phrases in memory for convenient application, put the code for a link there. That's what I do, at least. Similarly, opening and closing blockquotes, italics, and lists.

At least, before the internet, I would only see the bodies of the Israeli victims of terrorism.

Now...with the internet, I have to witness the bodies of Arab ">http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2006/07/israeli-prime-minister-just-announced.html"> victims of terrorism">http://www.answering-christianity.com/pali_torture.htm">terrorism

I acted as if only Westerners bled.

And when even warmongers like yours truly think that Israel's strikes on Lebanon smack of collective punishment rather than strictly military actions, then they're probably losing the perception battle.

/me huggles andrew

Andrew

I think the point is supposed to be that giving back territory is what has gotten Israel into trouble, since they had previously occupied Gaza and southern Lebanon.

I agree that this seems to be the point of the cartoon, which is why I find is sickening. Just maybe it was a mistake to forcibly occupy territory outside the 1967 borders in the first place...

Bec,
Israel has tried prisoner exchanges in the past and has finally drawn a line in the sand. And is it really a fair exchange? Soldiers for convicted terrorists?

While I don't know if this was the exchange previous to this one, but the idea that people are meant to be bargained with is not something that Hezbollah decided on their own.

Crap, Meshal was Hamas not Hezbollah. Still, I don't think anyone is coming into this with clean hands is my point.

At least, before the internet, I would only see the bodies of the Israeli victims of terrorism.

Now...with the internet, I have to witness the bodies of Arab victims of terrorism

I acted as if only Westerners bled.

I don't want to make this personal, since that's really entirely besides the point.

I've avoided responding to endless numbers of comments in this thread, because it's not my job to play Mr. Education to everyone whose path I cross.

But since you're giving personal testimony here, might I gently suggest that it's too bad you were previously so shallow and ignorant and uncaring about Palestinians, but that, as it happens, innumerable people were not.

Some of us, as I've mentioned, have been striving for peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis, and a state for Palestinians and a state for Israelis, for thirty-odd years; we were appalled at the election of the Begin government in 1977, and were intensely active in peace organizations, and working in opposition to the fanatics on both sides.

A balanced view of the fact that there were terrible grievances on both sides, and that Jews had done terrible wrongs to Palestinians, and Palestinians terrible wrongs to Jews, was always not just possible, but should have always been visible to anyone with sufficient knowledge of the facts, which was always obtainable simply by paying enough attention (which means more than just reading newspaper and magazine articles of the day).

But, lacking that knowledge and sense and perception over the decades, then moving from being shallowly misinformed and inclined to superficially leap to conclusions in one direction is hardly a good reason or justification for switching to doing the same in the other direction.

Having said that, I'll attempt to drop the subject, and switch to a wholly different point, one that merely speaks to the general subject of Israel/Palestine: these are intensely emotional issues, for obvious and good reason -- people are dying, people are suffering, today, just as they have in the past.

It's the easiest thing in the world to engage in moral righteousness, and denunciations, and condemnations, and in our emotions.

It's also not terribly useful. Whatever the direction.

Discussion of facts may be helpful, though only in terms of education -- but, then, none of us are going to be doing much to solve the problem beyond our own education and helping that of others, anyway.

And it is, of course, crucial to retain awareness of the basic moral issues at stake. And I'm not trying to suppress discussion of them, or inevitable debate, simply for the sake of politeness, or to imply that silence would be a moral response; it would not.

But the best thing any of us can do is to try to think before we write and speak, and to consider just how useful what we have to say might be, versus whether it's merely indulging our emotions and our sense of outrage and anger and the comforting human tendency to feel superior to someone we're arguing with.

I'm certainly guilty of doing badly at this, at times. Absolutely.

But that's bad of me. And I periodically remember that, and try, once again, imperfectly, to do better.

Would that, perhaps, we might all, and that most of you will do better than me, and shame me by your examples.

Just a thought.

Gary -
Thanks for your wise sentiments. I think that the Greek playwrights or Shakespeare could not have come up with a more tragic senario than the Middle East. (I'm sure that's been said hundreds of times)

I hope I did not come across as anti-Palestinian in my comments. I have much sympathy for them, too. Both sides are victims, both sides have made terrible choices. And, just to keep this in mind - both sides are brothers.

I was focusing on Israel's face-off with these other folks we've all been involved with lately. I realize that there is plenty of "karma" to go around (including Westerners), there is blood on everyone's hands, but groups like Hezbollah go off the scale as far as I'm concerned and I think it is understandable for Israel (and us) to be worried.

(hilzoy - thanks for the linking tips. I'll try to find out if I have said "nice program!")

liberal japonicus - just saw your comment above Gary's. We agree on this. I was detecting a rather lopsided view in the comments when I began all this earlier.

Bec,
I don't know what browser you are using, but if you use Mozilla/Firefox, bbcode xtra is a great add on that lets you handle linking and formatting.

liberal japonicus -
Thanks! I took a look and it seems helpful. I'll consult with my more computer savvy son about it! :)

(*scenario* - Sorry, Gary.)

Speaking of whoops.

Worthy of note might be this about Turkish public pressure to attack Iraqi and Turkish Kurds in Iraq.

Good beats evil.

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