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June 06, 2007

Comments

We are so screwed.

i'll say it again: Rudy is going to win this.

fear is so much more exciting and energizing than trying to reason. The Base will be all fist-pumpy and fear-mongery, with Rudy waving the bloody shirt every day for the next year and a half; and The Dems are going to try pandering to the religious right and talking about their unworkable half-assed health insurance plans. zzz.

[forgot]
.. it's going to look a lot like the 2002 elections: Dems trying to win it on policy and the Reps are going to be all like "IF YOU VOTE FOR THE DEMS WE'RE GONNA DIE!!!!!!! "

But the 2002 elections happened right after 9/11. Surely the GOP doesn't get to create that extraordinary climate whenever it feels like it.

Ok everyone, here's your chance to speak on the abortion issue to a national TV audience.

Henry Rollins (former lead of Black Flag and the Rollins Band) now hosts a talk show on IFC and is looking for someone who can do a good "rant.” If he choses yours, he will put you on the air on IFC (Independent Film Channel) in a big way.

Henry will make someone who does a commentary on one of 11 topics he's chosen – including abortion - the host of an upcoming “Rollins Show” Marathon on IFC.

Go to ziddio.com/myrollinsrant and record and upload a 30-second video "rant" on one of the topics that Henry has chosen (including abortion rights.) The one he picks will be flown to Los Angeles, meet Henry, and be the host of an upcoming "Rollins Show" Marathon on IFC. All entries will be watched by, and the winner chosen solely by, Henry. He encourages everyone to enter, no matter their side of the issues. He's looking only for “passion and attitude!”

Entries must be uploaded by July 10.

Check it out: ziddio.com/myrollinsrant

But the 2002 elections happened right after 9/11. Surely the GOP doesn't get to create that extraordinary climate whenever it feels like it.

But I'm sure they are going to TRY.... every day in every way between now and 11/8/08. Fear sells: will the electorate be able to tune out the constant commercials??

No question about it, Jay. But let's not forget, they also tried to run the 2006 elections the exact same way. Democrats don't want to eavesdrop on terrorists, if you elect Democrats there's going to be another attack, blah blah blah. We know they won't stop trying, but there's now at least one data point to suggest that this kind of fearmongering isn't necessarily going to win.

cleek, It sounds to me as if you have just as much contempt for the U.S. electorate as Chris Matthews.

Dems have not done enough to inspire and keep the loyalties of those who voted for them last fall, but in a contest between someone as vile as Rudy Giuliani and any of the top Democratic contenders, I say: Bring. It. On.

If he is the Republican nominee, there is going to be the biggest turnout of black voters ever in a national election.

Warmongering…whoremongering, it’s all the same thing to these sexually confused pundits.

The way they homo-eroticize war and mayhem would make Camille Paglia blush.

Does Romney propose that the United States keep an ever-growing population of suspects in jail indefinitely without trials as part of a new American system of justice?

Yes.

This has been another edition of "Simple Answers to Simple Questions".

The way they homo-eroticize war and mayhem would make Camille Paglia blush.

That isodd, isn't it?

When you put it together with the GOP's long list of closeted gays, the bumper crop of GOP sexual predators in Congress and federal agencies, their long history of fearful obsession with other people's sex lives (esp. gay), plus all that macho postering by men who've never actually done anything brave... it makes for a horribly fascinating picture of pathology, doesn't it?

Saddam's involvement with terrorists was minimal: he sheltered some aging ex-terrorists, and paid some suicide bombers' families.

Overall I agree with most of your thoughts here – high level. I could quibble with some – like this above. So a lot of agreement, I’ll even share a lot of your scorn.

But my advice (worth every penny): this comes across just a little too dismissive of the threat IMO. This gives the right angles to work with. There is disagreement to the extent he did or would have sheltered terrorists (I don’t want aging terrorists sheltered any more than young ones), but when you appear to dismiss the importance of paying huge sums (relative) to the families of suicide bombers, a lot of people can dismiss the rest of what you are saying. That is the most solid fact IMO, that everyone should acknowledge (Saddam/terrorism). Note that this is just my reading of it – it seems like you threw that in as an afterthought because you knew someone would raise the point. It is a huge deal (IMO) and in my memory it gave a lot of weight to the argument for war (for me). It might be stronger if that was acknowledged more firmly and prominently.

Or maybe I just miss bril and I’m filling in ;)

Saddam's involvement with terrorists was minimal: he sheltered some aging ex-terrorists, and paid some suicide bombers' families.

Overall I agree with most of your thoughts here – high level. I could quibble with some – like this above. So a lot of agreement, I’ll even share a lot of your scorn.

But my advice (worth every penny): this comes across just a little too dismissive of the threat IMO. This gives the right angles to work with. There is disagreement to the extent he did or would have sheltered terrorists (I don’t want aging terrorists sheltered any more than young ones), but when you appear to dismiss the importance of paying huge sums (relative) to the families of suicide bombers, a lot of people can dismiss the rest of what you are saying. That is the most solid fact IMO, that everyone should acknowledge (Saddam/terrorism). Note that this is just my reading of it – it seems like you threw that in as an afterthought because you knew someone would raise the point. It is a huge deal (IMO) and in my memory it gave a lot of weight to the argument for war (for me). It might be stronger if that was acknowledged more firmly and prominently.

Or maybe I just miss bril and I’m filling in ;)

I swear I did not post that twice...

"...but when you appear to dismiss the importance of paying huge sums (relative) to the families of suicide bombers, a lot of people can dismiss the rest of what you are saying."

I'll point out the obvious, which is that insofar as Saddam Hussein's practice in this regard was a threat to anyone, it was purely a threat to Israel; he paid the money to the families of suicide bombers in Israel, not the U.S.

If this is the "most solid fact IMO, that everyone should acknowledge (Saddam/terrorism)," then I'm curious why it is that there has been no announcement today by President Bush that we're now bombing and hunting down members of ETA?

"....it gave a lot of weight to the argument for war (for me)"

And if casus belli against Israel is our cause, why wasn't the U.S. in military action in Lebanon last year? And why isn't the U.S. hunting down Hamas and Islamic Jihad and the smaller splinter groups engaged in Qassam missile launching and mortaring Sderot and Israel? Why don't we have U.S. troops in Gaza now, fighting this grave threat to... the U.S.?

Seriously: if Palestinian attacks on and in Israel are a casus belli for the U.S. in one set of instances, why not the other? What criteria are you using that "gave a lot of weight to the argument for war" in the one case and isn't giving it the other?

cleek, It sounds to me as if you have just as much contempt for the U.S. electorate as Chris Matthews.

yawn.

it's worked for them two out of the last three elections. The Base is still eating it up. the press is head over heels in love with the tough-guys of the GOP; Matthews flip flops between adoration of Rudy and lust for Thompson - all the while mocking Hillary and reminiscing about Bill's sex life. the Dems are fighting over who really opposed the war more back in 2002 and the press is all like ... zzzz.

sure last year, the GOP got whacked. but it was at the peak of a bunch of corruption, ethics and sexual scandals. odds are, that isn't going to happen again. people are already losing faith in the Dems over their failure to even put up a good fight over the Iraq spending bill (i don't feel like arguing the particulars of that, but look at the polls, if you don't believe me about the numbers).

in other words: there's nothing in the past 7 years to make me think it won't work again. that's no contempt, that's the conclusion i draw from looking at what's worked for the GOP before, and how the press is treating the two parties now.

Dems have not done enough to inspire and keep the loyalties of those who voted for them last fall, but in a contest between someone as vile as Rudy Giuliani and any of the top Democratic contenders, I say: Bring. It. On.

admirable. but, as I see it, that fighting spirit is a little weak in the Dem candidates themselves. Rudy says WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!, Romney says DOUBLE GITMO! and the Dems response is ... ? well, either there wasn't one, or it was so muted that even TPM and the rest of the liberal blogs wouldn't post it.

the Dems aren't cutting it.

OCSteve: Thanks. -- I probably should have said retired terrorists. That was always, for me, the salient point. I agree that if they had still been active, their age would have been irrelevant.

Personally, I disagree about the payments. For one thing, unfortunately, I don't think the suicide bombers' families have ever lacked for support. (See here, last section.) For another, since Giuliani was talking about our war on terror, it's worth noting that Saddam was not paying terrorists who attack us. Personally, I would be very happy if terrorism would cease entirely -- no more Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, no more ETA, no more any of them. But I would oppose our going to war with some country on the grounds that it had given money to families of the Tamil Tigers, and would completely reject the idea that doing so was necessary as part of our war on terror.

I'd oppose it even more if it meant diverting resources from our attempts to deal with our real enemy, al Qaeda.

Moreover, as support for terrorists goes, Saddam's payments were really small potatoes compared to Iran's and Syria's support for Hamas, or Pakistan's support for the various Kashmir groups, or Sudan's support for the Janjaweed, and so forth. It was an attempt to buy allies, pure and simple. Even if we were fighting against "terrorism" in its entirety, Iraq was very, very far down the list of state sponsors.

s'il vous plait, scratch the "yawn", above. that was unnecessary.

That's the ticket. I wonder who will be the first to suggest preemptively turning the entire Middle East... into radioactive glass on the grounds that we can't wait for Muslims to become terrorists; we have to nip them (all of them) in the bud?

You mean, the first of the candidates, right? 'cause random people were suggesting that back in 2001 and 2002, not that I particularly want to go digging through the archives to find proof.

I'm not sure we can conclude the electorate deserves to be treated with contempt until a candidate tries NOT doing it, and fails.

In a way, the Democrats make the same assumptions about the electorate that cable news & the GOP does. The response is different: the Democrats are UPSET about the idea that voters are shallow, selfish, hate foreigners and Muslims, don't care about poor people, are looking for the best hunter or the candidate who reminds them most of Jack Bauer, who hates gays the most, etc. etc. They think: oh no, those morons will never support us if actually make honest arguments against the war, in support of the Constitution, for liberal policies we believe in; how do we fool them? Whereas with the Republicans there's this almost gleeful response, and the press is happy to provide crap if that's what sells. But the assumption is exactly the same.

The assumption is unproven, self-fulfilling, less and less true over time, and I really hate hearing liberals make it.

John Edwards seems to be the least inclined to make it, of the three Dem presidential candidates...Obama has enough promising flashes & is exciting enough in other ways that I can't quite give up on him though.

"ou mean, the first of the candidates, right? 'cause random people were suggesting that back in 2001 and 2002, not that I particularly want to go digging through the archives to find proof."

Archives? I don't need no stinking archives. I heard people in 2002 say they wanted more Iraqis to die under sanctions, that they wanted to kill them all. Six months later I'm sure they supported Bush's crusade to to end Saddam's oppression of those same Iraqis, cuz it's not the official justification, it's the fact that you're dropping bombs on Arabs that matters.

As for the dispute between cleek and Nell about the American voter, there's no reason to take sides. It takes all kinds to make an electorate. My guess is that there's this group in the middle that goes along with whatever the mainstream view happens to be at the moment.

To a degree, I agree with cleek. They are counting on fear working, and it well, for the voters they are currently courting, the base. I am not sure how it will play in the general election, however. But there is cause for worry, prticularly when you have idiots like Matthews drooling over the testerone emanating from the stage.


OCSteve, I know that you could to some degree equate the assistance to the families who lost members by suicide bomb, but then so did the Saudis. Ithas already been pointed out that this was really against Israel, not the US.

I really felt that Saddam was harmless. He was not astupid man, and he was well aware, IMO, that any assistance that he gave to any attack against us was suicide on his part. He was interested in only one thing, power. That was why he acted as though he still had WMDs. He kept Iran out of his hair, and kept his own people somewhat tame.

His biggest mistake was trusting Bush. He actually believed that Bush would keep his word, but Bush didn't. I also think he also thought Bush wouldn't be dumb enough to attack Iraq with all the consequences, as well as the distraction form the actual WOT. I think he thought Bush was going to do the smart thing. Again he was wrong.

Personally, I think the only current Dem candidate (1st or 2nd tier) that could lose next year to any of the current Republican candidates is Hillary.

Though I'm not sure what fraction of the electorate is sensible as and what fraction isn't, I do agree with Nell and Katherine that a Presidential candidate should do the right thing and talk to us as though we were all rational adults.

Some other part of me says they should do whatever it takes to win, but I want that part of me to shut up.

OCSteve,

Hussein’s penchant for donating money to the families of suicide-bombers is practiced throughout the Middle East. I mean from Saudi Princes and Pakistani school children all send money to the families of Palestinian suicide-bombers.

CaseyL,

Did you read the right-wing bLogs drooling over the movie, 300?

If Giuliani had grown up as a hunter, he would have been a great one. If I had wheels, I would be a trolleycar. A trolleycar who could beat Ahmedinejad in a street fight!

Very nice touch. Very nice. Ah, yes, despair. Sometimes it's all we have, isn't it? Thanks for the chuckle amidst my despair.

Gary: I'll point out the obvious, which is that insofar as Saddam Hussein's practice in this regard was a threat to anyone, it was purely a threat to Israel; he paid the money to the families of suicide bombers in Israel, not the U.S.

And? I’m supposed to be less outraged because he sponsored/encouraged blowing up kids in a Pizzeria when it is located in Israel?

And if casus belli against Israel is our cause

“a lot of weight” = “casus belli”?


Hilzoy: Again, overall I’m in agreement with you, that section just jumped out at me.

If we're going to launch a military intervention against people who support atrocities in the I/P conflict we can start at home and then work our way outwards from there.

Which wasn't just snark. I can support the US striking back at countries which support terrorism at us, though even then there is a huge element of hypocrisy involved. But our government should protect innocent Americans even if it is often involved in supporting others who kill innocent people elsewhere. But once you start striking countries for supporting terrorism against the citizens of third countries, there's no end to the number of wars one could justify. And superpowers in glass houses shouldn't be throwing these stones.

And since Israel was brought up, they aren't exactly shrinking violets either in the killing of civilians, now or in the past. Quite apart from their own atrocities, they used to be (don't know about now) involved in supporting murderous governments overseas. They gave military support and training to the Guatemalan government back in the late 70's and early 80's, for some reason. (Source--James Dunkerley's "Power in the Isthmus--A Political History of Modern Central America") Ancient history now, but if the principle you're suggesting applied back then, OC, then any interested third party would have an interest in overthrowing the Israeli government. Not to mention our own.

Katherine,

"I'm not sure we can conclude the electorate deserves to be treated with contempt until a candidate tries NOT doing it, and fails."

On budget matters, this has occurred already. From Walter Mondale to Paul Tsongas to Ross Perot, we had a run of candidates who treated the American people as grown-ups and honestly described the necessary steps to keep the economy healthy. All failed, largely due to their honesty on this issue.

I lean towards cleek's concerns on the issue of how the American public will respond to a fear-based campaign next year, but I would very much like to be proven wrong.

then any interested third party would have an interest in overthrowing the Israeli government. Not to mention our own.

And just as soon as Condi Rice or the direct representative of Ehud Olmert start handing out $25,000 checks (with the press present no less) to the families of fanatics who kill innocent kids out for a slice of pizza you will find me just as outraged.

All the moral equivalence aside, that blatant encouragement of suicide bombers enraged me at the time, and even thinking about it today gets me worked up. I get to be enraged by it. There is no argument that can change that. Historical comparisons are not going to do it. Our ancestors employed biological warfare (smallpox) against Native Americans in what I certainly consider to be an act of terrorism. That does nothing to mitigate how I feel about this issue.

It is emotional – not rational. I’m not saying that it was smart or even rational that to me it lent weight to the pro-war argument – it just is what it is. I’m not arguing that I was right about it. It is an emotional trigger for me and what I interpreted to be downplaying it a bit caused me to quibble with a post I was otherwise mostly in agreement with.

@cleek: Thanks for taking back the yawn.

As to the lack of Democratic response to the insane 'Who Wants to Be a Dictator?' contest that passes for the Republican primary campaign: That's because it's a primary campaign.

Seventy percent of the country feels that the Iraq war was a mistake, and only a slightly smaller percentage want a president who will end it. All of the Republican candidates (except Ron Paul) say they would invade again knowing what they know now.

It should be pretty easy to get the 'center' voters in the general election with that kind of buildup.

The most alarming, creepiest thing is not the voters, but the corporate media, who have already begun their mockery and trivializing of Democrats and their man-crushes over the tough-guy theater of the Republicans.

Disembolden!

OCSteve, I don't think anyone here is saying you shouldn't be outraged. It also is outrageous to me. There is no excuse for it, even if it doesn't go directly to terrorist activities. I suppose someone could have made the claim that it was humanitarian, as these families had lost loved ones, but that doesn't wash with me.

However, there is an emotional reaction and a rational reaction. The emotional is that he is/was a SOB. The rational is that, even so, we don't invade a country that is not now, nor is likely to be a real threat to us, or even other countries.

As pointed out above, it gives us a lot of leeway for invading any country we feel is doing that, either explicitly or implicitly. There was a time a lot of money flowed out of the US to the IRA. ALthough never sanctioned by this country, efforts to stop it were half-hearted at best. Should Britain have invaded us?

We have started something we may not be able to stop. We cannot legitimately condemn Turkey for its incursion into Iraq. In fact, if Iran sent troops into Iraq because there may be some MEK members there, we really wouldn't have a leg to stand on, as long as they weren't attacking our troops or trying to occupy territory.

A $25,000 gift to families who have lost someone (no matter how that loss occured) does not justify what we have unleashed. And that would apply even if this had been done competently.

OC, I don't think you shouldn't be outraged--if anything, I'm arguing that you're not outraged enough. As for moral equivalence, I've never really understood what the logic of that argument is when it comes from sincere people like yourself. Any sane person would prefer to live in the US or Israel over Saddam's Iraq (or Bush's Iraq), but that doesn't mean democratic countries don't commit war crimes and that those war crimes are less serious because a democratic government committed them.

Words cannot express how disappointed I am with the current crop of Republican candidates. I thought my straight-ticket Democratic vote in '06 was going to be a one-time protest vote, but it appears I was wrong.

McCain is obviously senile and unable to accept that we are losing in Iraq; Guiliani is way too fond of big government and abuses of power for my taste; Brownback and Huckabee are Dobsonites.

For a while, I thought Romney might be a good choice, because someone so obviously lacking in genuine principles could be expected to be much more pragmatic and realist in his policies. But considering how weak he would be with the Republican base, he'd probably wind up caving even more to the far right and the neocons than anyone else.

Unless Chuck Hagel, by some miracle, gets the nomination by general acclaim, then I will probably either vote Democratic or sit this one out (which is what I did in 2004).

On a recent thread, some people were discussing why conservatives no longer comment here as much as before. In my case, it's not that I feel unwelcome (quite the contrary), it's because I can't defend much of what conservatism has become these days. Where now are the zombie corpses of TR, Ike and Reagan when we need them the most?

The assumption is unproven, self-fulfilling, less and less true over time, and I really hate hearing liberals make it.

Yeah. That this persists got me to thinking that maybe my Nader vote in 2000 wasn't wrong after all.

Marketers educate consumers about consumers' wants and needs, then step forward to satisfy them. The GOP seems to grasp this better than the Dems do.

OCSteve: I see what you mean. I probably should have been clearer on this: I didn't at all mean to be minimizing the horribleness of Saddam Hussein in general, or paying the families of suicide bombers on particular. Having lived in Israel, I know what that does; and having seen some of the aftermath of some of Saddam's worst crimes, I was never in any mood to minimize his many and various crimes. I mean, you just don't get that much worse than the Anfal campaign.

I was responding to Giuliani's specific statement, which was: "It’s unthinkable that you would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of Iraq and be able to fight the war on terror." That's just false. It's false because we are not, or at least should not be, fighting a war against terror in all its forms. (Working to eliminate it: yes. If an opportunity arose to get some of the people who help finance ETA to stop, I'd be thrilled. A war, no.) And if we limit ourselves to fighting the actual people who attacked us, and those who finance and assist them -- still too much of a war for my taste; I don't for instance advocate invading the UK to get at their AQ sympathizers, as our British readers will no doubt be relieved to hear -- Saddam should not have been on our target list.

Moreover, even if we were fighting terror in all its forms, we truly didn't have to remove him from power in order to do this. He was nowhere near the top of the list. And removing him from power has opened Iraq to terrorists, not the reverse.

I suspect the Saudi elite are the primary financial supporters of terrorism in many and forms.

And we/The US/Oil Republicans would never think of messing with the Saudis.

All the moral equivalence aside, that blatant encouragement of suicide bombers enraged me at the time, and even thinking about it today gets me worked up. I get to be enraged by it. There is no argument that can change that.

OCSteve, let me suggest some factoids that might be relevant. If Gary Farber says they aren't true I might look up links over the next week or so, but just for the moment suppose they're true and see how they'd affect it for you.

Suppose that israel punished relatives of suicide bombers. Suppose that israel bulldozed their houses -- parents, aunts and uncles, sometimes cousins. Suppose they refused to allow building permits for rebuilding those houses, so if the relatives rebuilt then their houses would just get bulldozed again.

Suppose that israel's official policy was that relatives of suicide bombers were supposed to become homeless beggars who would starve or die of exposure.

How many houses can you build for $25,000, even in palestine? Including the necessary bribes? A man who owns a machine shop and loses it to bulldozers -- how much would it cost to replace that?

If that was israel's policy, how many families would come out with a profit for a suicide bomber?

Collective punishment is a war crime during war, and certainly a humanitarian issue.

So -- if this was true -- I would have no outrage at all for such token gifts to families of suicide bombers. They themselves would be as much victims of israel as any random victim.

I would not begin to develop any outrage whatsoever against saudi arabia or old iraq etc unless israel abandoned their policy of punishing the innocent, and the assistance to relatives continued. At that point I'd reconsider.

ThirdGorchBro: On a recent thread, some people were discussing why conservatives no longer comment here as much as before. In my case, it's not that I feel unwelcome (quite the contrary), it's because I can't defend much of what conservatism has become these days.

:-( *makes you an apolitical cup of tea*

"I'm not sure we can conclude the electorate deserves to be treated with contempt until a candidate tries NOT doing it, and fails."

Paul Tsongas didn't try? Gary Hart? John Anderson?

This seems ahistoric to me: what about their campaigns -- and I can suggest others -- do you think treated the electorate with contempt? (Let's exempt Hart's misjudgement about being followed and having a mistress, for the sake of argument, if you're willing.)

"And? I’m supposed to be less outraged because he sponsored/encouraged blowing up kids in a Pizzeria when it is located in Israel?"

I don't understand: you're saying that the U.S. should go to war with every group around the world that commits atrocities?

And do innocent civilians killed by Palestinian suicide attacks suffer less than innocent civilians (women and children alike) killed by American and Israeli bombs and missiles from airplanes? Are innocent Iraqi children being blown apart by us less a matter of outrage? Should we declare war on ourselves for our atrocities?

On a recent thread, some people were discussing why conservatives no longer comment here as much as before. In my case, it's not that I feel unwelcome (quite the contrary), it's because I can't defend much of what conservatism has become these days

I would, personally, be interested in hearing what you would *like* conservatism to be. There's likely common ground, certainly as to ends if not means.

"And just as soon as Condi Rice or the direct representative of Ehud Olmert start handing out $25,000 checks (with the press present no less) to the families of fanatics who kill innocent kids out for a slice of pizza you will find me just as outraged."

Why does outrage you, but us, or Israel, blowing up a house with innocent toddlers in it not? Please explain. Are you unaware of how often we've done this in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how often Israel has done it in Gaza or Lebanon?

(Not to mention our firestorm bombing of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, and so on, killing hundreds of thousands of babies and civilians at a time by incineration, asphyxiation, and other atrocities -- it can't be said that this wasn't intentional, of course.)

This happens every week:

KABUL, Afghanistan: Aerial bombing of a valley in western Afghanistan several days ago by the American military killed at least 42 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 50 more, an Afghan government investigation found Wednesday. A provincial council member who visited the site independently put the figure at 50 civilians killed.

President Hamid Karzai said at a news conference in Kabul that the Afghan people could no longer tolerate such casualties. "Five years on, it is very difficult for us to continue accepting civilian casualties," he said. "It is becoming heavy for us; it is not understandable anymore."

[...]

A provincial council member from Herat, Naik Muhammad Eshaq, who went to the area independently, said he had visited the three bombing sites and produced a list of 50 people who had died, including infants and other children under age 10. People were still digging bodies out of the rubble of their mud-walled homes on Tuesday afternoon, he said.

I can give you dozens more "incidents"; as I said, it's pretty much a weekly occurence, if not more often. Does the fact that our pilots don't commit suicide change the morality of killing babies somehow? Or is it the uniforms? Or what?

It is the intent. Do you think they targeted the civilians, or that they thought they were attacking enemy positions?

3GBro: "Where now are the zombie corpses of TR, Ike and Reagan when we need them the most?"

I'm not sure I've ever seen Teddy Roosevelt claimed as a "conservative" before. It would seem to not be the easiest claim to support about the founder of the Progressive Party.

"To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." - 1912 Progressive Party Platform, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt[2] and quoted again in his autobiography[3] where he connects Trusts and monopolies in the United States to Woodrow Wilson and Howard Taft.
These were the good old conservative days? Fighting for conservation, and against big business are the old conservative notions?
The platform called for women's suffrage, recall of judicial decisions, easier amendment of the U.S. Constitution, social welfare legislation for women and children, workers' compensation, limited injunctions in strikes, farm relief, revision of banking to assure an elastic currency, required health insurance in industry, new inheritance taxes and income taxes, improvement of inland waterways, and limitation of naval armaments.
Hey, if conservatives want to get back to these good old days: kewl!

Could I suggest that if that is the case, jrud (shortening it a bit, nothing mean intended) then the larger of the two powers always has the advantage. Because our weapons are more technical, and use targeting that isn't a guy in a vest, the situation is automatically created where we get the benefit of the doubt, but the suicide bomber or the IED layer does not. This seems to embody a certain unfairness which then opens the door to those kinds of poll questions that end up looking like people support terrorism.

Please note that I'm stepping back from the question of whether we are targeting civilians, but just looking at the question of technological/power imbalance. To simply accept that because we don't 'target' civilians means that we are granted a general exemption from other people attaching some measure of responsibility to us, which is precisely why this sort of campaign is basically a recruiting poster for Al Queda and the Taliban.

Boy, I bet all those dead people sure are happy that they were brutally killed by Americans who "intended" good things. That probably makes all the difference when shrapnel completely shreds your childrens' bodies or when a bomb blast completely incinerates you.

For the record, while I doubt that American pilots deliberately bomb civilian enclaves, I do believe that Israeli officers have no compunction about targeting civilians. Partly based on what I read and partly based on talking with Israelis.

Also, even though Americans wouldn't try to destroy civilian homes, I can certainly see them being ridiculously overconfident about the accuracy of their weaponry and aim. In "Why We Fight" (highly recommended by the way), an analyst claims that targeting precision guided bombs is equivalent to specifying what football field sized area will have an area the size of a house completely destroyed. You don't get to choose where on the football field the death zone is; that ends up being random.

OC,
But my advice (worth every penny): this comes across just a little too dismissive of the threat IMO. This gives the right angles to work with.

I think you've clarified this a bit more (ie less about threat and more about outrage), but the last bit seems to me like it creates a catch22 for libs. We can
1)ignore Saddam's bad actions. that's bad & easy to attack.
2)mention them, but emphasize that they're not central to the matter at hand. then, as you say, we're minimizing and open to attack on those grounds
3)make a big deal about it. then, we're forced to address it as a significant factor, and we're playing into the hands of anyone who wants to use points such as this for fearmongering. "Saddam was a terrible monster of a human being! He was the Hitler of the Middle East! But we shouldn't have invaded" is logically consistent, but emotionally confusing.

The second road might be unpleasant in the face of overheated rhetoric, but I see it as the least of evils.

LJ,
Sure, there is responsibility, and it is clear that mistakes like that are not only a tragedy, but harm our mission. It is a loss for all concerned, except for the enemy forces who are strengthened by it.

But technology does not drive the targeting. In Iraq, insurgents lobbing mortars to kill americans and other soldiers are not terrorists. Those lobbing them into markets are. Granted, the ones targeting Americans often kill civilians, but that is collateral to the intent, amd does not make them terrorists or war criminals.

The same is true of VBIEDs and IEDs. When they are used against coalition forces, it is not an act of terrorism. But purposely using them against civilians is.

I am a little ambivalent re: use against the Iraqi Police. Generally that would be terrorism in my mind, but here they are just another branch of the military.

But technology does not drive the targeting.

I'm not so sure about that. I recall the bandied about line (From Rummy perhaps?) that Afghanistan didn't have enough targets. Also, there are clear descriptions of the US (from the first Gulf War) of targeting civilian infrastructure. But I'm probably crossing the line when I talk about this, given your situation, so I'll stop here because I don't want to give the impression that I don't appreciate you or the danger you are operating under. (unless I've again gotten horribly confused, in which case, just ignore me)

True, Gary, Teddy was a progressive for his time. I was thinking more of Great Republicans of the Past than great conservatives. How about Zombie Taft instead?

russell: I would, personally, be interested in hearing what you would *like* conservatism to be. There's likely common ground, certainly as to ends if not means.

In foreign policy, realism and prudence. In domestic policy, small but competent government, and slow forward motion on social issues (rather than trying to turn back the clock entirely, which is just impossible in the long run).

This really needs a longer and more thoughtful response, but unfortunately I'll be in training at work the rest of the day.

LJ,
Targeting civilian infrastructure is permitted when it is for a legitimate military purpose and the relative military gain is proportionate to the harm. So dropping bridges to prevent reinforcement of the enemy is not criminal. Currently, enemy insurgents are targeting bridges in Iraq. Presumably the purpose is to prevent coalition freedom of maneuver. Not a war crime.

On the otherhand, some of the bridges targeted by the insurgents have particular cultural value, and may have been targeted for that reason. In that case, it would be a warcrime.

Some things can never be done, like purposely poisoning food or water. But there is no general prohibition on attacking infrastructure if it has a legitimate purpose.

And no worries re: my position. It would not be a free and fair discussion if that required self censorship.

"OCSteve, let me suggest some factoids that might be relevant."

I'm not sure that word means what you think it means.

Factoid:

Factoid can refer to a spurious (unverified, incorrect, or invented) "fact" intended to create or prolong public exposure or to manipulate public opinion. It appears in the Oxford English Dictionary[1] as "something which becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true", namely a speculation or an assumption. The term was coined by Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe.[2] Mailer described a factoid as "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper", and created the word by combining the word "fact" and the ending "-oid" to mean "like a fact".[3][4]
jrudkis: "It is the intent. Do you think they targeted the civilians, or that they thought they were attacking enemy positions?"

In innumerable cases, both the U.S. and Israel have launched these attacks knowing that civilians are present, or knowing that it was highly likely civilians were present, and thus deliberately chose to deliberately strike and kill civilians, having decided that the collateral damage was worth hitting this particular target, jrudkis.

I will cite as many specific accounts of such attacks, by either the U.S., or Israel, in the last five years, as you would like me to, within reason, if you are not aware of these policies.

Moreover, we chose in WWII to firebomb whole cities. In Tokyo, one raid alone accomplished this:

[...] The first such raid on Tokyo was on the night of February 23–24, when 174 B-29s destroyed around one square mile (~2.56 km²) of the city.

[...]

Barely quarter of an hour after the raid started, the fire, whipped by the wind, began to scythe its way through the density of that wooden city. As they fell, cylinders scattered a kind of flaming dew that skidded along the roofs, setting fire to everything it splashed, and spreading a wash of dancing flames everywhere. The first version of napalm. Roofs collapsed under the bombs’ impact, and within minutes the frail houses of wood and paper were aflame, lighted from the inside like paper lanterns.[2]
After 2 hours of bombardment, Tokyo was engulfed in a firestorm. The fires were so hot they would ignite the clothing on individuals as they were fleeing. Many women were wearing what were called 'air-raid turbans' around their heads and the heat would ignite those turbans like a wick on a candle. The Japanese War History office estimated that the incendiary bombing of Tokyo led to 72,489 Japanese dead.[3]
We similarly bombed Hamburg, Dresden, and so on, and not to mention the use of atomic bombs. These were all intended to kill massive numbers of civilians, as well as have other military effects.

Back in our current wars, one example, out of innumerable ones, would be killing Zarqawi, which was a legitimate attack on a military target.

But it included this, after we dropped two 500-lb bombs on him:

[...] On Zarqawi's death, Col. Stephen Jones, command surgeon for multinational forces in Iraq, said the shock waves from the bombs, ricocheting inside the hideout north of Baghdad, burst Zarqawi's blood vessels in his lungs and ears. When an American medic cleared his airway, blood flowed from Zarqawi's mouth.

Zarqawi died because his lungs failed to take in oxygen, military pathologists said. His broken right leg and scratches and cuts "were likely due to flying debris or Zarqawi being thrown against a hard object by the force of the blast," Jones said.

That would be fine, but the same effects also hit:
[...] Two women, a girl and two other men, including Zarqawi's spiritual adviser, Sheik Abdel Rahman, were also killed in the bombing. Rahman's skull was broken in the left temporal area, and several ribs and his left arm were broken, as if he had been thrown against the wall, Jones said. "Death was instantaneous," he said.
Few will weep for the spiritual advisor, but we are left to imagine what happened to the two women, and the girl.

And this happens all the time. Air strikes are called in, and civilians are killed. We know this will happen. Our military chooses this tactic for reasons of force protection: it's less dangerous to our troops than going into a house with boots. That's understandable. But let's not pretend that we aren't deliberately trading the lives of Iraqi civilians for those of our soldiers when we make that choice.

In that same story, we also read:

[...] During one operation in Baqubah, U.S. forces came under gunfire from a rooftop and responded by killing nine people including two young boys, military officials said. Caldwell said seven were insurgents and offered his "deepest condolences" for the boys, one less than a year old and the other about 4 years old.
But let's not get outraged. Because we're the good guys.

The mother of the under-one-year-old and the 4 year old may see it differently, however.

Over and over and over and over again.

Example from the U.S. State Department's 2002 Report on Israel and the occupied territories:

[...] During the year the IDF targeted for killing at least 37 Palestinians. In the process, IDF forces killed at least 25 bystanders, relatives, or associates of those targeted and injured a number of others, although the Israeli security forces state that in planning operations, they make every effort to reduce civilian casualties.

[...]

Israeli security forces put large numbers of civilian lives in jeopardy by undertaking targeted killings in crowded areas where civilian casualties were likely. This occurred despite statements that it had aborted operations against known terrorists when it became clear that they might endanger innocent civilians. For example, on July 23, Israel fired a missile at a civilian apartment building in a densely populated area of Gaza City in order to kill HAMAS military wing leader Salah Shahada. Israeli forces killed 14 other Palestinians in the effort, including 9 children. The Government of Israel publicly apologized for the incident.

Israeli security personnel used excessive force while manning checkpoints, killing a number of Palestinians (see Section 1.g.). On December 3, an IDF soldier shot and killed a 95-year-old Palestinian woman riding in a taxi on a Ramallah road that the army claimed was forbidden to Palestinian vehicles. An IDF inquiry into the case established that the shots were fired without justification, because the taxi did not pose a lethal threat to the soldiers. The soldier faced possible criminal charges.

Israel put civilian lives in jeopardy by using imprecise, heavy weaponry in operations against terrorist infrastructure conducted in civilian areas, in contravention of their own rules of engagement. Frequently, and often following shooting attacks, many of which were nonlethal, in the direction of Israeli settlements and military positions, the IDF retaliated against Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli forces fired tank shells, heavy machine-gun rounds, and rockets from helicopters and F-16s at targets in residential and business neighborhoods located near the sites from which the Palestinian gunfire was believed to have originated. For example, on October 17 an unidentified Palestinian located in the Rafah refugee camp area fired an antitank shell at an IDF construction crew. Israeli forces responded by firing tank shells into the refugee camp, killing seven Palestinians including two women and two children. The shells also injured 35 other Palestinians.

I don't think that Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens would suddenly become more moral if they had and used F-16s and Merkava tanks instead of suicide belts.

It would be nice if this were simply a black and white matter, with all good on one side and all evil on the other, but it isn't.

We can say that it's war, so it's justified, but that's also the view of Palestinians fighting for a homeland. Their views aren't terribly different from that of the Irgun Zeva'i Le'umi or Lehi (aka the Stern Gang).

Is there a moral distinction between targeting military targets and incidentally deliberately killing civilians, and purely deliberately killing civilians only? Yes, but how huge is the gap, exactly? Does it make all the difference? Maybe. But I'm unclear that it's that simple. (This without getting into the Palestinian arguments about distinctions between Israelis within the pre-'67 borders and not, the military service of most Israelis, and the like.)

"I do believe that Israeli officers have no compunction about targeting civilians. Partly based on what I read and partly based on talking with Israelis."

On the hand, this is a wild generalization, and obviously (to anyone who knows enough Israelis) wildly untrue. I know of no reason to believe that Israeli soldiers have any fewer compunctions than those of any other military around the world regarding deliberately targeting civilians.

"Also, even though Americans wouldn't try to destroy civilian homes"

Huh? We deliberately destroy civilian homes in Iraq all the time. We do it because we believe there are also military targets incide, but they're still civilian homes, with an unknown number of civilians in them.

OCSteve: "True, Gary, Teddy was a progressive for his time. I was thinking more of Great Republicans of the Past than great conservatives. How about Zombie Taft instead?"

Assuming you mean William Howard, and not Robert, he was certainly vastly more conservative than Teddy. (That is, Robert was even more conservative, but he didn't make it to the presidency.)

Even better would be Coolidge, though, who is probably the epitome of a conservative president. I'm assuming you'd prefer him to Harding. But you could also go with Herbert Hoover, who was a sound, and even innovative, conservative.

Gary,

If the Palestinians were targeting military checkpoints rather than discos, it would be more moral, regardless of the technology they employ.

I would agree with you on the moral side in that often insurgent forces have no other way to fight back but to target civilians, because the military targets are too hardened to hit effectively. Sometimes it is a matter of either criminal targeting or giving up. If only military forces were being targeted here, the war would be essentially over, because everyone else would have reasonable stability and safety.

But just as intent can change manslaughter into murder, it makes collateral damage into a warcrime.

Gary is making it unnecessary for me to comment, taking the position I was taking with a lot more supporting detail.

Jrudkis said--

"And no worries re: my position. It would not be a free and fair discussion if that required self censorship"

I'm totally ignorant on this. Suppose you were very far to the left, a Chomskyite (which apparently Pat Tillman was). Clearly you're not, unless I'm confused on who thinks what, but this is a hypothetical. Would you be free to express your very strong
criticisms of the war? I guess I'm asking what are the limits on someone in the military, if any, in expressing their political views.

"If the Palestinians were targeting military checkpoints rather than discos, it would be more moral, regardless of the technology they employ."

"The Palestinians" do target military checkpoints more often than discos. Of course, "the Palestinians" consist of a wide variety of disparate groups, which differ widely on tactics and strategy, and of course only a tiny number of Palestinians engage in suicide attacks at all.

"But just as intent can change manslaughter into murder, it makes collateral damage into a warcrime."

Yes, I wasn't trying to disparage the legal distinctions between what is and isn't a war crime: not at all. I'm just saying that beyond the legal technicalities, when infants and children are killed by U.S. weapons, I'm not completely comforted by the distinction, and I don't find the situation to be completely morally black and white.

This doesn't mean I'm a pacifist, or that I'm necessarily sure some of these attacks weren't defensible, or even the least bad option; it just means that I'm not comfy and left with no qualms, by the justifications of any such killings, and I don't see the moral distinctions as to what I should and shouldn't be outraged about as 100% clear, in the way OCSteve seemed to imply that they are, by his immense outrage at one set of attacks, and his utter silence of outrage about the other sets.

A good deal of the testimony in the recent/current hearings on the Nov 2005 massacre in Haditha provides a window into attitudes about U.S. troops' actual and official views of the killing of civilians and the rules of engagement.

I've posted about this specific issue in recent weeks, with links to articles that focus on the same issue. Gary has followed these same questions and probably could offer pointers to still more.

"OCSteve: 'True, Gary, Teddy was a progressive for his time. I was thinking more of Great Republicans of the Past than great conservatives. How about Zombie Taft instead?'"

That was 3rdGorchBro: sorry, but all you conservatives look alike.

Jrudkis, you are basing your assignment of responsibility entirely on intentions.

Worse, you are assigning responsibility based on the intentions one side claims, versus the intentions that side claims about their enemies.

So by this reasoning, if the israeli air force bombs an apartment building because they think a Hamas member is in it, their intentions are good and they are blameless. But if a palestinian suicide bomber blows up a pizzeria when he has good reason to think that some israeli army reservists are in it, he is intentionally attacking civilians. And no one gets to interview him about it -- he has forever escaped israeli interrogation.

If we're going to assign moral responsibility at all, we must pay a lot of attention to results. In civilian courts we consider someone who gets drunk and accidentally kills innocent people in a carwreck much less culpable than someone who aims at them on purpose. But he is still responsible for his actions and their result.

Perhaps a better defense is the one that Napoleon and Forrest both gave. War is so terrible that any atrocity which ends it quicker is justified.

Let's review the bidding on that logic -- atrocities are justified for the winners, to get a quicker end to the war. Atrocities are not justified for the *losers*, because their atrocities tend to drag the war out and lead to more war and more misery.

By that reasoning israel is not doing nearly enough atrocities. Their program to reduce palestinian food supplies ("not starve them, just put them on a diet!" ;) ) is insufficient. Their bombings are insufficient. Etc. They must do whatever it takes to get the palestinians to accept their permanent defeat, and police their own numbers enough to prevent any attacks on israel or israelis.

When the time comes that an old fat israeli tourist can wander through random palestinian vilages with US $100 bills sticking out of his pockets, and he drops some of them, and the villagers stop what they're doing and gather up his money and politely give it back to him -- because they're afraid to do anything else -- then israel will have won. If israel isn't ruthless enough to bring that about, then they can suffer continued hard feelings in the meantime.

As for our occupation of iraq, it's hard to argue that we're winning and so this reasoning probably shouldn't apply.

I tend to disapprove of this approach but at least it's logical and consistent. Blaming the enemy for their bad intentions while exxonerating our own side because of our good intentions is not.

Donald,

There are no limits to what I can express as a private citizen. If I try and speak under the color of authority (ie, as an officer representing the army) I would get in trouble. That is why it would be okay for me to attend a protest, but not in uniform (or to speak at one using my title). The same goes for politics, where I could endorse a candidate using my name, but not my title.

If someone from Time magazine showed up and interviewed me I could give him my views, but we are generally cautioned to only talk about our own level and experience, rather than speak about strategy for the war.

Some superiors would be a pain in the neck about expressing negative views, just as any boss in any job would get pissy if you said something they did not like about your company. But they would not have any real authority to do anything about it. Anything they did in cases like that would be illegal (though just as with any employment, they could hit you for something unrelated that otherwise would not have been a big deal).

The more likely issue for censorship is more from peers than the Army. Free speech is not speech without consequences, and people don't have to like you or even be pleasant. I suspect if I were to spout off with a lot of negative views, I would feel it from my peer group rather than my superiors.

I think we have a lot of lively debates reagrding policy and the war here and there is not a whole lot that off limits, but in the army, everyone thinks I am a liberal.

"But if a palestinian suicide bomber blows up a pizzeria when he has good reason to think that some israeli army reservists are in it, he is intentionally attacking civilians."

There's no evidence that Palestinian suicide bombers have had any such aim of preferring military targets to purely civilian targets.

"And no one gets to interview him about it -- he has forever escaped israeli interrogation."

However, in each and every case, the bomber leaves behind an elaborate video tape explanation of his or her desires and intentions and hopes, so we know lots and lots about their desires and intentions and hopes, of course. No one has ever said that they were trying to avoid civilian casualties. This is an assumption or claim that is utterly disconnected from all evidence and fact.

"Palestinian" is capitalized, by the way.

Thanks, jrudkis. That clarifies things for me.

"so we know lots and lots about their desires and intentions and hopes, of course"

This is pretty weird evidence in my view. There's a long tradition of taking suicide notes at face value - I'd cite Moorcock if I had _Gloriana_ in front of me - but I'd guess these videos are more industrial products than cris de coeur.

J Thomas,

There is still an expectation of proportionality. If the Israelis targeted an apartment because there was some random Hamas member in there, it would not be proportionate. If they targeted it because there was a key leader or communication cell, it probably would be.

If Hamas targeted a disco to kill some high level Israelis, it would probably be proportionate. Guessing there might be some privates from the reserves there most likely is not.

If someone was actively fighting (like a sniper or RPG team) from the apartment or disco, however, it is generally a fair target.

Good stuff from jrudkis above, hope to see more.

"OCSteve, let me suggest some factoids that might be relevant."

I'm not sure that word means what you think it means.

Factoid:

[....] It appears in the Oxford English Dictionary[1] as "something which becomes accepted as fact, although it may not be true", namely a speculation or an assumption.

Yes, that's exactly what I meant. I don't have references handy for my claims and it would take me time to collect them -- time I could probably use more productively.

Rather than have you ask me to justify them, I proposed them as assumptions -- what would it mean if they were true?

If somebody wants to debate how true they are I might find time to do that, later. But what's the payoff? What does it mean to people here if they are true?

Lots of americans get outraged -- outraged! -- that the families of palestinian suicide bombers got or get financial support from other arab nations. But families of suicide bombers are specifically targeted by the israeli government, they are victims of the israelis in their own right. They probably do not usually come out monetarily ahead by their relatives' suicide. Quite the reverse.

So outrage against charity to these particular victims translates to support for israeli collective punishment.

Say your crazy ne-er-do-well nephew goes to israel and suicide-bombs. So the israelis should then have the right to confiscate your bank account, foreclose your house, get you fired from your job and blacklisted, ineligible for welfare etc, and if anybody wants to make donations for your welfare then americans should be outraged!

What do you think? Reasonable? Outrageous?

"But if a palestinian suicide bomber blows up a pizzeria when he has good reason to think that some israeli army reservists are in it, he is intentionally attacking civilians."

There's no evidence that Palestinian suicide bombers have had any such aim of preferring military targets to purely civilian targets.

The question about evidence about the intentions of particular dead palestinians is not one I'm willing to debate. My claim is that intentions are not actually that important, compared to results. And the press reports about "civilian" casualties from palestinian attacks on israel never seem to break out how many of them are members of the military.

As a side issue, how would you go about finding a purely civilian target in israel? I can imagine that some religious sites etc staffed and visited only by israelis who are exempt from military service might qualify. And palestinian villages. Others?

If Hamas targeted a disco to kill some high level Israelis, it would probably be proportionate. Guessing there might be some privates from the reserves there most likely is not.

Wouldn't a disco tend to be used almost entirely by military-age israelis? And wouldn't miltary-age israelis be almost all in the military or reserves?

What is the problem here? If we were at war it would not be proportionate to send a small cruise missile at a disco attended almost entirely by soldiers, because the cruise missile would likely cost us more than their casualties cost them. But for a destitute enemy, whose weapons are extremely cheap, that reasoning wouldn't apply.

"But if a palestinian suicide bomber blows up a pizzeria when he has good reason to think that some israeli army reservists are in it, he is intentionally attacking civilians."

There's no evidence that Palestinian suicide bombers have had any such aim of preferring military targets to purely civilian targets.

The question about evidence about the intentions of particular dead palestinians is not one I'm willing to debate.

You mean you're willing to make the claim, but not defend it or withdraw it?

"palestinians"

"palestinians"

Are you being deliberately derogatory, as some do, in refusing to capitalize "Palestinian"? Similarly "Israel" and "Israelis." Or are you unaware that this is derogatory?

"As a side issue, how would you go about finding a purely civilian target in israel?"

You mean like school buses?

"What is the problem here?"

Indeed, all the killing is good. Woo-hoo!

In my case, it's not that I feel unwelcome (quite the contrary), it's because I can't defend much of what conservatism has become these days.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to reclaim conservatism from its current practitioners. And this thread will self-destruct in 5... 4... 3...

Are you being deliberately derogatory, as some do, in refusing to capitalize "Palestinian"? Similarly "Israel" and "Israelis." Or are you unaware that this is derogatory?

He's not capitalizing Saudi Arabia or Iraq either, Gary. Until further notice, chalk it up to an idiolect.

I think that one relevant point about intent is this. You can claim, without needing to get into niggling distinctions, that trying to kill civilian noncombatants is just wrong. (I suppose there's room for niggling distinctions about who is a noncombatant, but even there, the idea that e.g. a US or Iranian citizen is a combatant simply in virtue of citizenship is clearly too far.)

By contrast, you cannot say that doing anything that results in civilian casualties is just wrong -- at least not without coming very close to embracing complete pacifism. And if you don't embrace complete pacifism, you lay your military open to complete manipulation by your enemies: all they need to do is get a civilian noncombatant (by force, to protect his or her noncombatant status) to all of their positions, inform us of that, and voila! no justifiable action.

This means that while killing civilians as a side effect can be wrong, there is, and for non-pacifists there must be, no rule against doing it ever, whereas there is such a rule against killing civilian noncombatants ever.

This, in turn, bleeds over into discussions in ways that the argument itself doesn't support (all by itself; not that there couldn't be further support given.) For instance, I remember, back when Lebanon was being bombed, saying that Israel's bombing, after the first couple of days, was wrong, because it was disproportionate to, and/or unnecessary for, any legitimate goal. Iirc, big arguments ensued, and they had a lot to do with people taking the fact that Hezbollah had started it all by doing something flatly wrong to imply -- well, I don't think anyone would exactly have held that Israel's response couldn't be wrong just because Hezbollah started it, but there were, iirc, people who seemed to take 'but Hezbollah started it!' as a full response to the claim that Israel was wrong to keep on and on bombing Lebanon. (Again, after the first couple of days.) I seem to recall, at one point, saying something like: look, Israel could, if it wished, blow up the whole world with nuclear weapons, and that really truly would solve the problem of Hezbollah once and for all. But the mere fact that it would solve that problem, plus the fact that all the other deaths would be mere 'side effects', would not make that OK.

If I misremember this, sorry: the point is to use it as an example. And what it's meant to be an example of is: that the fact that deciding whether it's wrong to kill civilian noncombatants intentionally is easy makes people generally less willing to countenance it, even though, logically, unintentional killings of civilian noncombatants that are wrong could still be just as bad, if not worse, than intentional killings. (Destroying the entire earth in order to kill Osama bin Laden would, according to me, be worse than what your average suicide bomber does. Please do not take this as implying that what your average suicide bomber does is not bad -- destroying the entire earth would be worse than almost anything.)

So I think that's part of the problem.

J Thomas,

Well I suppose by your reasoning, every thing in America is similarly fair game, since every man from the age of 18 to 45 is in the unregulated militia, and subject to service. Except maybe women only clubs.

Gary,

Busses can be pressed into service to take the troops to the front. Ithink historically that happened in Israel, and is part of the symbology behind the targeting of busses, at least early on.

Nice analysis, as always, Hilzoy. I do wonder how much GOP candidates are wrong versus how much they're lying. Some may be deluded, but I have to think at this point most of them know the truth but prefer to offer hogwash they know will play to the base. As to the gossipy, shallow coverage of some of the MSM... good lord. Street fight? A great hunter? A sane, honest gutsy press corps would laugh at such stupidity, but instead Matthews and his ilk set the agenda to a overwhelming degree. It'd be one thing if such silliness was a side note, but it seems to be the defining feature and all that these folks do.

No, no, please don't.

Gary, please fixate on this capitalization issue as much as possible. He is clearly trying to insult Palestinians, which is very consistent with the fact that he's making an argument highly sympathetic to them. Also, his consistency in using lower case letters for all country names and nationalities is obviously a cover for his nefarious plot of insulting Palestinians while trying to defend them....er, or something.

In any event, we should all focus on this issue because it is vitally important. Because J Thomas has violated formal capitalization rules, he has completely failed to communicate. I for one, have no idea what words like "israeli" or "palestinian" mean. Could they be some sort of new aircraft or boy band?

Turbulence, you may be unaware of the masses of anti-Palestinian folks who deliberately refuse to use the word "Palestinian," to make the point that there is no such people; commonly some of these folks instead refer only to the "pals"; others will "compromise" and simply use "palestinians," "but I refuse to capitalize that name." Would you like pointers?

Similarly, it's common usage by anti-Semites of various degree to refuse to capitalize "Jew" or "Jews" or "Israel" or "Israelis," as a derogatory gesture. Again, you may be unaware of this.

See similarly uses of "negro," "nips," "japs," "krauts," and so on.

Gary,
I'm very well aware that such people exist. So what? Do you honestly think J Thomas holds anti-Palestinian views? Does that make any sense at all given what he's posted?

Also, I'd be inclined to say that someone who sincerely writes negros, nips, japs, or krauts is a racist whether or not they capitalize such words. But that is just me, and, in any event, has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with this thread.

Sure, but it's a little too implausible that he's being intentionally derogatory towards BOTH the Israelis and the Palestinians. Still, you've probably performed a public service by bringing up the issue.

hilzoy: "If I misremember this"

You do if I don't.

You mean you're willing to make the claim, but not defend it or withdraw it?

No, I'm making no claim what palestinians are thinking. I'm pointing out that many of their civilian targets contain a preponderance of soldiers.

Are you being deliberately derogatory, as some do, in refusing to capitalize "Palestinian"? Similarly "Israel" and "Israelis." Or are you unaware that this is derogatory?

I explained to you before that when I do it, it isn't derogatory.

"What is the problem here?"

Indeed, all the killing is good.

Woo-hoo!

What is the moral problem for palestinians that doesn't apply to israelis?

From one view, I can see a problem that they refuse to give up when they are defeated. They survive only by israeli tolerance. Israel could exterminate them in 2 weeks without using their nerve agents or other unconventional weapons. But palestinians continue to argue that they're right and they have rights, despite overwhelming israeli power.

I have to respect the israelis for not doing an extermination or a "transfer" when it would be so easy and they get so much provocation.

But in terms of straight morality, not the version that says the victors are right because they won, I don't see a giant moral superiority.

Here's an interpretation of something that happened a few years ago -- the israelis let the palestinians set up a government, intending that the palestinian government would set up a secret police to clamp down on palestinian militants. The CIA helped train and arm that police force. But then the israelis decided that the palestinian police were not doing their job well enough, and came in and attacked the palestinian police. They denied palestinians any government strong enough to suppress the palestinian people.

If the palestinian government isn't allowed to suppress their own people, then it's hard to see how they're responsible. We might contrast palestinian extremists with israeli extremists, and then the israeli government doesn't have any counterpart at all.

But then, maybe in this sort of thing it doesn't make sense to even try to make moral distinctions.

Carleton: You have a good point, one I had not considered.

Gary: And do innocent civilians killed by Palestinian suicide attacks suffer less than innocent civilians (women and children alike) killed by American and Israeli bombs and missiles from airplanes?

The intent angle has already been covered I see. I’ll consider the analogy more valid when pilots circle until they spot a good target of opportunity, lots of civilians, women and children – then dive their bomb laden planes into the target, staying with it to insure maximum damage. (Then a government official gives the widow 25 large. That’s more than twice the standard death gratuity of $12,420, so she’d come out ahead.) (Actually I think it might be $100k for a combat related death, though I'm not sure if suicide disqualifies you.)

in the way OCSteve seemed to imply that they are, by his immense outrage at one set of attacks, and his utter silence of outrage about the other sets.

Just for the record, I was outraged by My Lai – and by Calley serving only 3 ½ years of house arrest. I also think Dresden was pretty over the top. Any other specific incidences I’ve been silent on you feel I should address?

This is one of threads that I should have stayed out of. I’m out now.

OCSteve: speaking for myself, I really valued your contributions so far, though of course whether or not to leave is up to you.

"Busses can be pressed into service to take the troops to the front. Ithink historically that happened in Israel, and is part of the symbology behind the targeting of busses, at least early on."

I've never seen such a claim by Palestinians, though it's certainly possible I've missed them. Presumably you can point to a couple of examples of such claims?

All I've ever seen in regard to those attacks were the justifications that they were attacks on elements of the occupation and the occupier.

Cites available upon request; mine are perfectly easy to find at the drop of a [NOUN].

For instance:

A bomb has exploded in the Gaza Strip next to an armoured bus transporting children and teachers from a Jewish settlement to a nearby elementary school.

Two adults were killed and nine passengers wounded, among them at least four children. A radical Palestinian group based in Damascus claimed responsibility.

'One of our Omar al-Mukhtar's fighting units carried out today a big bomb attack,' read a statement released to press, 'backed with hand grenades on a bus carrying Zionist settlers and accompanied by a Zionist patrol in Khan Younis."

Nothing there about the other uses of school buses: just that they were carrying "Zionist settlers."

Here is an account of the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem bus 405 massacre, and here (second half of the page) are a bunch of accounts from the biographies and words of the attackers on their attack, translated from Arab newspapers. No mention of strategic uses of buses.

Etc., etc., etc. Could you support your claim about the "symbology" here with some actual evidence from attackers, perhaps, please?

Alternatively, we could discuss attacks on schools. J Thomas can explain that schoolchildren grow up to serve in the Israeli military, so what's the problem here?

"I'm very well aware that such people exist. So what? Do you honestly think J Thomas holds anti-Palestinian views? Does that make any sense at all given what he's posted?"

I have no idea; I know little about J Thomas and J Thomas's views, and all I know about these subjects is what J Thomas posts here. Thus my polite query, which is still unanswered.

In any case, regardless of intent, the usages are derogatory. Thus my interest in pointing them out, and seeing the derogatory usages cease. Motivation is another question, but I assume innocent motives until given reason to think otherwise. (Not responding on the topic will give such a reason, after a reasonable amount of time.)

"Sure, but it's a little too implausible that he's being intentionally derogatory towards BOTH the Israelis and the Palestinians."

Which is why I assumed otherwise, and politely inquired.

"I explained to you before that when I do it, it isn't derogatory."

I'm sorry, I've forgotten that. However, it is derogatory, so please stop. Thanks.

Gary, you were derogatory to OCS above. Please stop. Thanks.

And now I'm turning back to my duty to work.

Well I suppose by your reasoning, every thing in America is similarly fair game, since every man from the age of 18 to 45 is in the unregulated militia, and subject to service. Except maybe women only clubs.

How do we decide these things?

Many people considered WWII a "total war". They thought it was fine to bomb civilians who had an effect on the war effort. We extended that logic for Dresden etc -- if we could get the germans to dilute their AA defenses by defending civilian cities too, their military-related sites would be defended less well and we could end the war quicker.

Clearly it isn't total war for the israelis -- they have enough nerve gas to kill 95% of palestinians in a few hours. And it isn't total war for palestinians -- they are so thoroughly defeated that any attempt to build a coordinated paramilitary force gets suspected leaders and com centers bombed from the air. They aren't capable of mobilising their resources for war.

Suppose for a moment that palestinians are thinking strategicly, and they suppose the israelis will always be too softhearted to kill them off, and so by continued attacks they show that they can't simply be forgotten like so many indian reservations. And so they attack the targets they can reach, particularly targets that get them publicity, because anything that reminds people they aren't dead yet helps keep them from just dwindling away forgotten. Would that be particularly immoral of them?

Now suppose instead that the minor disorganised attacks come because small groups of palestinians want whatever revenge they can get, and not for any strategic purpose. What morality can we expect of people who've lost enough to give up everything but revenge?

What can we do to such people to shame them into reforming? How can we persuade them to fight in civilised ways that will get them killed with no damage to their enemy?

"Gary, you were derogatory to OCS above."

I was? Where, please?

"And now I'm turning back to my duty to work."

I'd appreciate your supporting -- or withdrawing -- your assertion first, please.

Are you being deliberately derogatory, as some do, in refusing to capitalize "Palestinian"? Similarly "Israel" and "Israelis." Or are you unaware that this is derogatory?

"I explained to you before that when I do it, it isn't derogatory."

Thus my polite query, which is still unanswered.

In any case, regardless of intent, the usages are derogatory.

I repeat, I am not being derogatory in either case. The usage is not derogatory when I do it.

I am not particularly aware that some people use it in a derogatory way, and I don't particularly care. If some such people start posting here, I will try to find out what they mean more than guessing from their punctuation. If they express contempt for israelis or palestinians then I will note that.

If at some time I find that some people use "farber" in a derogatory way then I will not come here and demand you change your name.

Gary -- I may be wrong, but I believe rilkefan was referring to your comment at 1:01pm:

"I don't see the moral distinctions as to what I should and shouldn't be outraged about as 100% clear, in the way OCSteve seemed to imply that they are, by his immense outrage at one set of attacks, and his utter silence of outrage about the other sets."

You do say "seem" and "imply," but I think this is treading closely on the "absence of evidence" fallacy.

That was 3rdGorchBro: sorry, but all you conservatives look alike.

Somebody who was not conservative might easily think this was extremely insulting.

Whether OCSteve would consider this derogatory would depend on how he felt about all the other self-described or you-described conservatives.

"I repeat, I am not being derogatory in either case. The usage is not derogatory when I do it."

You can't say that. That is, you can say it, but you can't make it true.

What is and isn't derogatory is something defined by a) society in general; and b) the people the term is applied to.

Lots of people claim they don't mean "n-gg--" as derogatory, or "jewboy" or "pal" or "wetback" or any derogatory term as derogatory; often they are entirely sincere.

Sincerity and intent aren't relevant.

Intent does not control what is and isn't derogatory. "Why, I've always been good friends with all my kike friends and nigra employees" is not a non-derogatory statement, no matter that it is meant with utmost sincerity.

We capitalize the names of nationalities because it is custom, and it shows respect. When we choose to not capitalize these names, it shows disrespect, regardless of intent.

Thus, referring to Palestinians as "palestinians" or "pals" -- which is a conscious sign of indicating one's belief that they don't deserve to be called "Palestinian" among millions of people, honest, although I'm perfectly prepared to believe that you're not one of them -- I've debated a number of them -- is derogatory. So is referring to "Jews" as "jews," a common anti-semitic practice, as is referring only to "israelis."

Now that you are aware of this, I urge you to consider this fact, and take it into account in your own usage.

"I am not particularly aware that some people use it in a derogatory way, and I don't particularly care."

Clearly. I invite you to reconsider this approach to what is and isn't derogatory.

I'm unclear how, if you deliberately chose to use derogatory language to refer to people, knowing that the usage you prefer is commonly regarded as derogatory, you will not then be deliberately choosing to be willfully derogatory, and "not car[ing."

I presume you'd not want to do that, since your intent is, as you say, not derogatory.

So I'm hopeful that you will consider adopting non-derogatory usage, which, after all, does not require significant effort. Hitting the caps key wouldn't seem to be asking too much to keep from offending some people.

Thanks for your consideration.

I propose we draw a line under this interchange and move on, since all the relevant positions seem fairly clear...

That was 3rdGorchBro: sorry, but all you conservatives look alike.

Somebody who was not conservative might easily think this was extremely insulting.

Yes, if they had no clue it was a joke. OCSteve, did you think I wasn't making a joke, and did you regard my my remark as derogatory?

rilkefan and J Thomas, are you seriously claiming that you didn't think that was a joke, and that you were offended by it?

If not, why are you pretending otherwise?

"I propose we draw a line under this interchange and move on, since all the relevant positions seem fairly clear..."

The posting rules call for being "reasonably civil." Deliberately using offensive language isn't civil. They also bar "consistently abus[ing]" other posters.

I've had countless debates with Jews who deliberately use "pals" or "palestinians" and refuse to use "Palestinian" because "they aren't a real people" or "they don't deserve that respect" and so on and so forth, as well as similar debates with anti-semites insisting on using "jews" and "jewish."

I'm perfectly prepared to believe in J Thomas' lack of interest in being offensive in this manner. 100% prepared. Ready, and willing.

As soon as J Thomas stops engaging in this uncivil behavior, I'll believe it.

ok. it's time to bring back the yawn.

yawn.

Gary, there is zero evidence that J Thomas hates Palestinians. No one cares about arguments you've had with crazy racists that are not here. If a crazy racist shows up, I'm pretty sure we can handle them. But J Thomas is not a crazy racist and this obsessive fixation on capitalization is really rather creepy. I mean, if you're going to develop an obsessive fixation on something, I'd hope it would be more exciting than capitalization, for your sake at least.

Consistently referring to all nations and nationalities in lower case has absolutely nothing to do with racist beliefs.

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