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April 08, 2008


It sounds pretty abject to me. Petreus and Crocker have nothing left to say but "give us as many soldiers as possible for as long as possible"--like countless counter-insurgent commanders before them. Neither seemed to bring much zest to the proceedings, perhaps because the events of the past few weeks have broken their last hopes, but they can't admit it yet. Nor did the questioning senators distinguish themselves. Whole thing seems like a non-event really.

Aye. And a great pity.
Darn good mapping by Juan Cole with Daniel Drezner as the straight man. “Decoloniztion">http://">“Decoloniztion Edition”, bloggingheads.

I think someone needs a new hobby.

Is there something, anything, even any small insignificant detail, that any of you think would change depending on the testimony given? Some "aha!" moment for which the esteemed colleagues in Congress are waiting? Really?

Suppose that the generals testified that Iraq, overnight, had been transformed into a magical, peaceful, profitable land where the only thoughts of violence were directed towards whatever desperately poor country Israel hated most at the moment.

Now suppose instead that they testified that the situation had devolved into a maelstrom of indescribable violence, rape, cannibalism, locusts, payday lending and decreased profits for oil companies and mercenaries.

What exactly would change between the two scenarios? Nothing. Not a damn thing. So who cares? How many dead Iraqis' ghosts can dance on the head of a pinhead?

Discuss at length for great justice.

Testimony was nothing new, but I thought it was pretty funny when Sen. Lieberman flipped out.

I miss national leadership.

The thing to do is grow a garden. It’s time to start your tomatoes and order your seed potatoes. Home-grown potatoes are fun, easy, and taste excellent. The ones you buy in the store are bred for storage and are relatively yucky. You can grow potatoes in used tires if you live in the city.

Crafty people can turn potatoes into booze.

I knew there was something Bill and I must agree on.

It's still too cold here to think about planting vegetables. It snowed last weekend. End of April.

It's all about running out the clock.

"We haven't made much progress but we have made some progress. The end may or may not be near. We need to keep our nose to the grindstone because if we don't, the terrorists win."

9 more months. *sigh*

The terrorists won already. Bin Laden's number one demand was that Bush withdraw American troops from Saudi Arabia. Bush bowed to that demand.

The war in Iraq is a result of stupid, short-sighted decisions made by politicians who celebrate their ignorance and generals who care more about their own career than the lives of their troops. The mindless wing of the Republican party will try to blame the Democrats for everything that happens in Iraq, ignoring completely the disaster that was the Bush Administration.

Planting food is bad. I've planted some ivy this year. Boston Ivy, good to -32. I also have some Sycamore. I think I'll start it this summer and keep it in the winter. The cactus is going to plant mid summer. Cactus is a mistake, but, it's just too neat.

Stuff for the yard cause they won't grow without a grow light that can't be bought in this city: Amaranth - Blood, Pigmy, Fire, green and perfecta. Gigantus and Moonwalker - good to ten feet plus flower to 2 feet.

Seeds and more has some great seed and great varities, check the Gigantus.

I'm not too worried about a cold snap, the seeds i planted were in the fridge for two months anyway, so it shouldn't be a problem. The other ones can go out anytime now, but I keep on seeing them dying inside, so, if it's not sunny enough; their just going to die.

I think CIA forced him to say that Afghani Paki border thing cause their spies just run around saying this all day long and they can't figure out how people figure their spies for the 'Civil Society' CIA movement.

Did Jaun plan that school shooting to sell his university's research into emergency notification for universities or was it a trade for Rutgers and the iMus guy and Oprah and Obama or his wife was mad someone moved the bar so he dot go burn?

Phil Carter's take.

I'm not sure if the "open thread" part is limited to the hearings, but since there aren't any other open threads, and the last relevant thread isn't recent, either, this on FBI datataps, etc.

[...] Since a 1994 law required telecoms to build electronic interception capabilities into their systems, the FBI has created a network of links between the nation's largest telephone and Internet firms and about 40 FBI offices and Quantico, according to interviews and documents describing the agency's Digital Collection System.


Wiretaps to obtain the content of a phone call or an e-mail must be authorized by a court upon a showing of probable cause. But "transactional data" about a communication -- from whom, to whom, how long it lasted -- can be obtained by simply showing that it is relevant to an official probe, including through an administrative subpoena known as a national security letter (NSL). According to the Justice Department's inspector general, the number of NSLs issued by the FBI soared from 8,500 in 2000 to 47,000 in 2005.


Read The WT.

me, on Point Sadr: Put up an open thread and let us play with ourselves for a while. (Oo-er, missus.) (Sorry, I'm watching Morecambe and Wise on TV, and missing them.)

Sock Puppet of the Great Satan: Surely Frankie Howerd rather than Morecambe & Wise?

Yes, but there was a certain expression that Eric Morecambe had when a double-entendre was made that can only be verbally translated as "Oo-er, missus". *sigh* God, they were good.

Bring them sunshine as we smile, bring them laughter all the while

I've always thought that the transactional data being relatively unprotected didn't make sense. Is it that you'd practically never be able to get a warrant for the full tap if you couldn't get the transactional stuff first and then be able to say to the judge "See he is calling shady character X every day"?

Just in case anyone sees this: I'm fine. Things seem to be getting a bit dodgy in Pakistan, though. Hopefully, just a passing thing. Except, of course, for the six people who were killed (news reports here say seven.)

Now_what's drive-by Israel slur reminds me of an old joke.

A European politician was making a speech blaming his country's problems on the Jews. A little old man in the back of the crowd shouted, "Yes! Kill the Jews! And the bicycle makers!"
Confused, the politician said, "Why the bicycle makers?"
The little old man shrugged: "Why the Jews?"

IOW, I have no clue why he dragged Israel into this thread, other than general baseless hatred. Maybe of Jews, maybe of Israel, I don't know. The comment appears to reflect the canard that Israel is imperialist, so it may be more a matter of ignorance than of classic anti-Semitism. Either way, not pretty.

Tell you what, now_what, you spend 30 years having rockets fired into your neighborhood, then we can talk about how much sympathy is due to "desperately poor" murderers.

triobite -- I can't read now_what's mind, but your accusation that s/he made a "drive-by Israel slur" seems to be a drive-by in itself.

Was not a goal for the Iraq War/Occupation/Whatever that the country would not be a threat to Israel or its neighbors? I don't see that painting a sarcastic rosy scenario that includes Iraq as a gung-ho ally of that country as being necessarily anti-Semitic.

Good to hear you’re OK, hilzoy. Of course it was naive to imagine the lawyers were a unitary force for justice; but still (and having noted the comments about the severity of the insult of shoe-to-head) it sure sounds tangled, and dangerous. We all fervently hope you’ll be fine.

Noted “The Simpsons has been dropped from morning TV in Venezuela after being deemed unsuitable for children - and has been replaced by Baywatch.” among the most popular of the Beeb stories.

I still haven’t reviewed the available clips, but John Nichols at The Nation commends Sen. Feingold’s contribution.

And tril; I find no reference to Israel in now_what’s remark. Could you clarify?


In now_what's remark, the Israel comment is near the end of the third para. It's a bit odd.

felix, I'm pretty sure that trilobite is referring to this passage:

Suppose that the generals testified that Iraq, overnight, had been transformed into a magical, peaceful, profitable land where the only thoughts of violence were directed towards whatever desperately poor country Israel hated most at the moment.

trilobite, I don't see much evidence for accusing now_what of hating jews. I thought that it was widely agreed that a desire to advance Israeli interests was one of the main drivers of the war, even though there were other powerful drivers. I think Juan Cole said it best here:

Most of the members of Cheney's inner circle were neoconservative ideologues, who combined hawkish American triumphalism with an obsession with Israel. This does not mean that the war was fought for Israel, although it is undeniable that Israeli concerns played an important role. The actual motivation behind the war was complex, and Cheney's team was not the only one in the game. The Bush administration is a coalition of disparate forces -- country club Republicans, realists, representatives of oil and other corporate interests, evangelicals, hardball political strategists, right-wing Catholics, and neoconservative Jews allied with Israel's right-wing Likud party. Each group had its own rationale for going to war with Iraq.


As a fellow non-mind-reader, I'm guessing that trilo was focussing on the word hated in: "whatever desperately poor country Israel hated most at the moment." If the thoughts of violence were towards "whatever country was threatening Israel at the moment" instead, then Iraq would certainly be a gung-ho ally. I'm not convinced that now_what is anti semitic/Israeli either, but the phrasing leaves doubt.

I've always thought that the transactional data being relatively unprotected didn't make sense.

IIRC the rationale is that transactional information is already, and is necessarily, public, and it's therefore not reasonable to require it to be protected to the same degree as content.

Anyone can read the 'to' and 'from' addresses on the outside of an envelope. Nobody but the sender and receiver should be able to read the letter inside.

Similarly, someone making a phone call willingly divulges the number they're calling to the phone company so the connection can be made, but they should be able to assume that the conversation itself is private.

It is (IIRC) an easy distinction to observe in telephony, less so in modern network-based communications.

Also IIRC, you're still supposed to get a court order for a pen register (i.e., routing information only) tap, but you only have to demonstrate that the information is of interest to some kind of investigation.

And, of course, with national security letters, the FBI or others can, essentially, just write their own warrants without outside review of any kind.

Al -- Very well-put. I used the construction "[not] necessarily anti-Semitic" for that reason; I think a good-faith response to the original comment would have been to query the intent, given the ambiguity of the remark.

i thought the hearing was great. it was the listening that sucked.

Al, good mind-reading, thanks.

Farmgirl, I'll try to be more in good faith. I do get tired of the leftist drumbeat against Israel, and it makes me cranky at times.

Turbulence, I dunno. The pro-Israel neocon justification for American imperialism has always struck me as so unfounded in reality that I perhaps pay it less attention than it deserves. However stupidly, some prominent neocons did indeed prate that the road to peace in Jerusalem led through Baghdad, and they did have some influence on our blunder into war. How much influence that particular motive of those particular people had is open to question, as you imply. Myself, I have a hard time believing that Bush or Cheney give a rat's a$$ about Israel. I think there were many more prominent reasons for our nonexcellent adventure, such as Bush's personal Daddy issues, Cheney's Haliburton stock options, and (hat tip to Greg Palast) the wild dream of toppling OPEC. For that reason, comments like now_what's seem like a grudge in search of a reason. To put it another way, it smacks of the classic "the Jews are behind it all." This may be unfair of me.

cleek has done messed with the good General's charts again.

Yay for hilzoy not being dead! w00!

Hey Folks,

I'm Jewish, so I can say this right? I thought " where the only thoughts of violence were directed towards whatever desperately poor country Israel hated most at the moment" was hilarious and spot on. Of course if you are also Jewsih (must be through your mother though) you can accuse me of internalized anti-Semitism. I'll go sacrifice a goat.

We gotta get used to this people, Israel: Bad for the Jews (and everyone else). And those people lobbing rockets, the Israelis came in and stole their land, bombing civilians all the way. Read your history. If you don't feel like it, please at least stop calling every anti-Zionist a racist. Oh, and for the record, if you're not Jewish, I hereby, with the powers vested in me as a certified, genetic "Jewish person," give you the right to talk any smack you want to about Israel.

from swimming freestyle:

"Perhaps if we look at the problem like grown-ups, not petulant kids who demand the game be played their way or no way...

No one wants a shattered Iraq, full of sectarian militias battling each other, a nonfunctional government, and a bitter, pissed off populace. Instead of stubbornly adhering to a simplistic, "if I just wish hard enough it will happen" Bush strategy (a long term military presence to tamp down violence waiting for the Iraqi government to get it together), why not consider how we help the Iraq government function more effectively? If our current strategy is not yielding the desired results (some end point for U.S. involvement), isn't it smart to change strategy until you find one that works?

Isn't that what grown-ups do?"

Jay: No one wants a shattered Iraq, full of sectarian militias battling each other, a nonfunctional government, and a bitter, pissed off populace.

Maybe the neocons do. The most rational explanation for the situation in Iraq is that the PNAC crew did not need the US to have access to Iraqi's oil fields: they just needed to ensure permanent military bases in Iraq and no other geopolitical power with access to Iraq's oilfields.

Jes, I deposited a comment at your journal (under the Giving Tree) but although it appears when I click the thread it also says "no comments."

Anyway, hi.

Oh dear, OT. I have my journal set up so that the first time anyone comments, their comment is moderated - I have a long experience of spambots, and this seemed only sensible. Anyway, hi!

What trilobite said.

What Anarch said.

I'll go for what Anarch said also.

[For the rec. the bitterness of the now_what comment led me to approach it hesitantly and in the process completely miss the word ‘Israel’.]

What'd you think?

Same sh*t, different day.

We're in Iraq for the next five years. Probably not at the level of 140,000 troops, but certainly in the tens of thousands.

Longer, even much longer, is not out of the question. Slightly shorter is possible, but very unlikely.

The only way I see us getting out in a significantly shorter period is in a context where conditions are much, much worse than they are now. In other words, if the wheels come completely off, and we just plain bail out.

The hearings are kabuki. They are an opportunity for posturing. How long we actually are there will be driven by events on the ground, which will take their own direction. We're not really calling the shots anymore, we're just one of the players.

That's my take on it.

Let me answer your joke with another old joke:

An American politician - a Jew - is giving a speech to a crowd of antisemitic logging industry executives. He asserts that logging needs to be curtailed to protect the habitat of the not-often-spotted owl. "Anti-Semite!", one of the executives shouts loudly.

spend 30 years having rockets fired into your neighborhood, then we can talk about how much sympathy is due to "desperately poor" murderers.

I mention no countries, not even continents, but you have decided that whatever countries or continents they may be, they are populated solely by murderers. Among the clues you are in posession of, can you find the one concerning the origins of our once widely-held disdain of collective punishment? I am to believe that labelling entire unnamed countries as murderers and enemies and undeserving of sympathy is not hatred? If there is any difference between the two, I don't care what it is.

I think there were many more prominent reasons for our nonexcellent adventure, such as blah blah blah...

If you weren't busy playing "The Little Boy Who Cried Anti-Semite" you could discuss the meaning of my comment, which is clear. I bring up most of the reasons you mention, and conclude that none of them have any bearing whatsoever on why we remain in Iraq. When the vice president was informed that two thirds of Americans said the war in Iraq was, "not worth it", the vice president replied, "So?"

That explains fully the reason we are still in Iraq.

Which brings us to the bitterness. I am so bitter. If my bitterness was measured on the IBU scale, the source of the worldwide hops shortage would become clear. I'm bitter that so many have died unnecessarily. I am bitter that those who have suffered most are deemed so unimportant that no government bothers to attempt to count the number of their deaths. I could f*cking cry. I am bitter about being lied to. I am bitter about being taxed so that our army might kill people that did not threaten me in any way. I am bitter that anyone who ever thought for one second that anything good might come out of the invasion of Iraq is not in a padded cell and under both guard and heavy sedation 24 hours a day.

And, very selfishly, I am bitter that I am subjected to people debating the supposed importance or meaning of hearings on the current situation in Iraq as though the hearings would decide anything - as though they mattered. I am mad that people watch a puppet show - and not even a competent one - and then analyze it as though it were a novel by Turgenev.

It's just silly.

Out of curiosity, now_what, are you expecting to accomplish anything with this attitude of yours? It's not that I'm a stranger to feeling utter futile about every course of action available to me up to and including ones that are likely to get me killed. It's just that when I feel that fully convinced of it, I...stop posting for a while, because I have yet to find that ranting at others for not being as despairing as me doesn't actually do anything except make it a bit more likely to tip them in favor of some random alternative.

It's at that point that my twin existential beacons kick in, and I don't mean that sarcastically at all. I recall Albert Camus in "The Myth of Sisyphus" and The Rebel reminding me I choose to live at every moment, just as we all do. We may seldom or never think about it, but it is in our power to die when we choose - outside forces can make it very hard indeed, of course, but nobody posting here is under that kind of constraint right now - and since I am not seeking that out, I may as well choose a life that points toward something worth living for. And I recall Viktor Frankl in Man's Search for Meaning, pointing out that even when life seems to offer no prospect for myself (and as a survivor of the concentration camps, he knew that state better than I ever can), there are choices to make that may make it worth living for another.

So when I feel myself drowning again, I try to acknowledge and step away, if there's nothing I feel like saying that can offer anyone a reason to engage yet again with the beasts around us. I don't always do it as promptly as I should, of course. But with practice it becomes easier to do it better, and then I return when it feels like I have something to say that's better than spitting on a hope without anything to replace it.

I commend this discipline to you, because if you're doing anyone - even yourself - any good, it's not clear to me, and that's a shame, because it looks like you have a passion and intelligence that could do someone a lot of good.

Thanks,n_w. Nor do I disagree. Not being able to look your bitterness in the eye wasn’t the same as dismissing it.
You will have noticed the general (pained) shrug. No one saw much light being shed. In fact no one had much to say about the hearings. Your comment was much more energizing to the thread than hours of Congressional inquiry.

The question raised for me is; why is there no widespread boots-on-the-ground resistance, comparing it to memories of ’67-’72? Has BushCo backed the country into a corner more successfully than Nixon did? The antiwar movement (apart from Cindy Sheehan) has hardly raised a ripple on the national radar for ages.

I began a long list of speculative questions as to what differences might be determinative; but deleted it all. Nothing seemed to offer a path to answers.

Felix, the thing is that there have been truly massive protesting and continues to be significant turnout for them now. They're simply not reported, or lied about when they are, thanks to consolidated media management in the service of administration support.

"The question raised for me is; why is there no widespread boots-on-the-ground resistance, comparing it to memories of ’67-’72?"

Top ten reasons:
1. No draft.
2. No draft.
3. No draft.
4. No draft.
5. No draft.
6. No draft.
7. No draft.
8. Far fewer U.S. casualties than during the Vietnam war. (16,592 KIA in 1968 alone.)
9. The internet offers alternative forms of political expression.
10. No draft.

Let me also note that when Richard Nixon got U.S. KIA down from 1971's 2,357 to 1972's 641 is when he won re-election, not in November.

And he knew it, too. He interrogated Henry daily on casualty figures, and how to get them down.

He didn't ask about how to "win the war," since he was perfectly cold-blooded about it.

Bruce, that was one of the questions I had. In 2003-2004 there was an organized movement. The Democrats gained a majority in both houses on the basis of opposition to continuation. In Toronto there were still demonstrations at the US consulate.
There now seems a vacuum. I’m not surprised about the MSM’s silence; but it does seem in fact to be less monolithic than it is usually seen to be: and while I don’t have the Net covered, I’d expect to see notice to be taken at, for example, The Nation, where I’m a regular visitor.
Gary, sure. My list encompassed those things and more. But my recollection of the time is there was a whole lotta outrage that wasn’t driven by self-interest.
I’m still at a loss.

felix -- If I thought boots-on-the-ground protesting might make a damn bit of difference, I'd be out there too. It seems the time has passed for that to be an effective mechanism for change, for whatever reason.

I mean, if a man can>light himself on fire in full view of Chicago's rush hour traffic to protest the war and barely get noticed, what's a bunch of standing around going to accomplish?

It's also my personal opinion that extremely theatrical protest groups (the anti-globalization ones come to mind) have poisoned the well for everyone else.

Compare the visuals of the many civil rights marches, which emphasized the dignity of the participants, and those of the anti-G8 protests, which elicit contempt even from flaming lefties like myself.

I've been reading an interesting history of Vietnam War protests and the government's attitude toward them (Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves by Melvin Small) and, as a young'un, I'm struck by two things:

1. The related sentiments of "silly hippies discredit the movement" (from the right) and "silly hippies embarrass us and make the task difficult" (from the left) are nothing new. True, some of the larger civil rights demonstrations were unusually disciplined by today's standards, but hardly all of them, and the large anti-war marches were organized with the goal of numbers more than strict message discipline and propriety.

2. The negative and stereotype-filled media coverage of demonstrations is only slightly related to the content of the demonstrations. Johnson and Nixon did their share of media manipulation, but the press didn't need much encouragement to make fun of lefties and students.

The biggest differences I see between then and now:

1. Several medium- to high-profile people in Congress took a strong public stand before the popular movement really got going. Whether this helped to legitimize the movement as a whole, or whether people saw the "respectable" dissenters as a whole different thing from the hippie mob, hard to say.

2. The White House wasn't quite so generally indifferent to the opinions of every human being on Earth. Johnson apparently felt hurt when smart people thought he was wrong, and thought they should be on his side; large crowds of protesters actually scared him. Nixon didn't give a @#!% about anyone, but he worried about public dissent weakening his hand in negotiations. Both of them had the same public attitude of "I can't be swayed by a few polls", but Bush really seems like a whole other kettle of oblivious fish.

Maybe some incredibly old people could comment on whether this is at all accurate.

I'm not incredibly old (no, really!), but Hob makes sense to me, FWIW. (So does Gary).

We have had some outbursts of outrage, but no momentum, perhaps because when we march, we are completely ignored. Instead, we are channelling a lot of our outrage into trying to win the next election and clean up this mess. All the angry people I meet these days are at Democratic Party meetings.

now_what, what collective punishment? I thought we were talking about war. In a sense, all war is collective punishment, but I don't know how else you deal with government-sanctioned attacks. Even just trying to take out individual rocket launchers and co-conspirators when the local government won't is an act of war, and most countries generally react a bit more strongly to that kind of thing, so why shouldn't Israel. "I'm poor" is a lousy excuse for killing, whether by individuals or countries.

FWIW, I agreed with most of your comment, at least to the extent I understood it. I just didn't see why you dragged Israel into it.

It is easy enough to avoid being "subjected" to ANYTHING on the internet. Just stop reading whatever it is.

I don't get your joke. Maybe it needs more setup.

"Maybe some incredibly old people could comment on whether this is at all accurate."

I'm 49, and I'd say it's more or less accurate.

The whole creation of the "new left," the Port Huron Statement, the rise of new civil rights organizations (SNCC, etc.), the infiltration of New Left groups, both civil rights and anti-war (the Old Left having long since either been infiltrated or co-opted), with agents provocateurs as well as informants, the rise in militancy and growth of tensions between the more and less radically inclined, the rise of the general "counter-culture," which only partially overlapped with the politically oriented of different stripes, the influence of the only-vaguely-political, such as the Yippies, the decline of SDS into Weathermen and PL, the fact that Nixon did finally withdraw, and a great many more factors contributed, to be sure, but your comments are more or less correct, IMO.

now_what, what collective punishment?

I believe that the Israeli government does use collective punishment extensively in the occupied territories. For example, if they arrest someone that they believe is a suicide bomber or militant, they will also destroy the home of that person's family and all of their possessions. I don't think their is any real attempt to hide this behavior; AFAIK, the Israeli government doesn't think collective punishment in the OT is wrong.

In addition, during the 2006 war with Lebanon, Israel destroyed a number of targets that had no conceivable bearing on their stated military objectives of rescuing their soldiers: they destroyed civilian infrastructure like water treatment and power plants far north of the area where Hizballah exerted political control. I have some difficulty understanding those actions as anything other than a desire to harm lots of arabs who had nothing to do with attacks. Given their incredibly poor military performance in the war, perhaps unarmed civilian infrastructure is the only sort of target with which the IDF can successfully engage.

I thought we were talking about war. In a sense, all war is collective punishment, but I don't know how else you deal with government-sanctioned attacks. Even just trying to take out individual rocket launchers and co-conspirators when the local government won't is an act of war, and most countries generally react a bit more strongly to that kind of thing, so why shouldn't Israel. "I'm poor" is a lousy excuse for killing, whether by individuals or countries.

Just FTR, collective punishment usually refers to an administrative or judicial decision to specifically punish people for a rule infraction committed by someone associated with them. It does not usually figure into military operations during a war. I don't really understand what you're trying to say in the quoted text above, so I'd welcome a clarification.

Also, I don't believe the occupied territories are considered to be a war zone. If they were, then I'd expect that Hamas fighters might be entitled to POW privileges and that seems...unlikely.

"I believe that the Israeli government does use collective punishment extensively in the occupied territories."


In recent history, supporters of the Palestinians have used the term to label certain Israeli military actions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Israeli policy of destroying homes of suicide bombers or terrorists responsible for Israeli deaths. Israel stopped using the practice, which dates from British Mandate times, in February 2005.
Israel limits house demolitions

Israel's defence ministry has ordered an end to the policy of demolishing the houses of Palestinian suicide bombers and their families.

An army committee earlier reported that the policy had little deterrent effect and inflamed Palestinian hatred.

The policy would be reintroduced if there was "an extreme change in circumstances", a statement said.

On 17 February 2005, the Minister of Defense announced a cessation of punitive house demolitions.

From October 2001 (when house demolitions as punishment began again after a break of almost four years) to January 2005, Israel demolished 668 homes in the Occupied Territories as punishment.

That's 668 too many, but the practice lasted for only three years, and ended over three years ago.

"That's 668 too many, but the practice lasted for only three years, and ended over three years ago."

Sorry, that was less clear than it should have been.


[...] Since 1967, Israel has implemented a policy of demolishing and sealing houses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a punitive measure against the Palestinian population. The scope of punitive house demolitions has varied over the years (in the four-year period 1998-2001, it was not used), in part because most Palestinians were living in areas in which governing powers had been transferred to the Palestinian Authority, and the IDF did not enter those areas. In October 2001, during IDF actions in Area A in the West Bank, Israel renewed its policy of punitive house demolitions.
I'm with BTselem, though it's worth noting that the legal authority and precedent for the practice was this:
In the past, before the policy of punitive house demolitions was renewed during the al-Aqsa intifada, the demolitions were carried out following a military order given by the regional commander pursuant to Section 119 of the Emergency Defense Regulations of 1945. The section empowers the military commander to demolish a house – in any community, neighborhood, or street – of a resident of that area who carried out a violent offense.
Which is to say, the British invented it during their rule of Palestine in order to blow up Jewish homes.

Human rights:

Regulation 119 of the Defence (Emergency) Regulations, 1945

119 - (1) A Military Commander may by order direct the forfeiture t the Government of Palestine of any house, structure, or land from which he has reason to suspect that any firearm has been illegally discharged, or any bomb, grenade or explosive or incendiary article illegally thrown, or of any house, structure or land situated in any area, town, village, quarter or street the inhabitants or some of the inhabitants of which he is satisfied have committed, or attempted to commit, or abetted the commission of, or been accessories after the fact to the commission of, any offence against these Regulations involving violence or intimidation or any Military Court offence; and when any house, structure or land is forfeited as aforesaid, the Military Commander may destroy the house or the structure or anything growing on the land.

(2) Members of His Majesty's forces or the Police Force, acting under the authority of the Military Commander may seize and occupy, without compensation, any property in any such area, town, village, quarter or street as is referred to in subregulation (1), after eviction without compensation of the previous occupiers if any.

Ah, history.

This seems accurate, incidentally.

farmgirl, there’s a difference between one person on the expressway dying tragically and a half million in Grant Park or on The National Mall on repeated occasions. One person can be dismissed as unbalanced; it’s more difficult to dismiss a half million.

There is also a difference between large numbers of people demonstrating peacefully, however theatrically, and a small number of people determined to do damage. Moreover, the violent types are often seen by peaceful protesters as plants whose assignment is to discredit the protest.

Hob, I don’t remember congressional opposition playing a significant role for those of us who were in the streets. Their support as things grew more heated was of course welcomed.

Johnson, yes; he had feelings, and lost heart in the end. Nixon didn’t seem to have a heart in the first place. But as you say, Bush’s will to thoughtlessness is outstanding in every way.

Gary, all those things are true, but they don’t seem to speak to the heart of my puzzlement.

I imagine the rising tide of materialism and the mad dash for money starting in the ’70’s probably is a factor.

And Cindy Sheehan burned out and withdrew after feeling exploited by people she didn’t trust. That’s likely instructive, but again I’m not sure how.

Why is the Internet useful for organizing political campaigns but not protest marches? What happened to the movement that took form before the US went into Iraq? With the majority opposing the war, why is there no movement in the streets now?

It is as if everyone is mildly opposed to the war but so cocooned they’re anxious about wearing down their soles a bit to demonstrate their opposition. Or maybe they’re uneasy in crowds. Or maybe...

Like that.

felix, I think we're not seeing vast street protests because most people can't comprehend any causal mechanism by which such protests would change policy.

I might be totally wrong here, but I'm skeptical as to how much of a role anti-war protests played in ending the Vietnam War. This looks like another "correlation does not equal causality" moment. Lots of people protested at the time and no doubt they felt that doing so was really really important, but since most people really suck at analyzing causation, especially when they themselves are trying to effect an outcome, it seems likely that the efficacy of protesters would be magnified in the historical narrative that's been passed down.

It seems like protests are most effective at bringing about change (rather than just signaling a change in social mores) when they suggest the threat of massive social disruption. I'm sure lots of people are willing to protest, but not that many are willing to risk prison or, even worse, Gitmo.

In other words, before we rush out and chastise people for failing to fill the streets, I'd like to see a serious case made that filling the streets would change the political dynamic.

As usual, Turbulence, I can’t dispute what you say, nor do I want to.

It may even be the lack of generational polarization is a factor. Youthful energy has been constructive rather than contrary.

Maybe I’m just being nostalgic.
Everybody is so darn restrained; irony is king.
‘Excitement’ is confined to the multiplex, the stadium, the amusement park, the iPhone, and breaking news of new scandals.
Corruption on all domestic fronts trumps the inhuman scandal of Iraq.

Taken all in all, I’m at a loss.

Perhaps it will serve as context: This crossed my bow last night, and this this morning.

"This crossed my bow last night, and this this morning."

Those are the same ABC story.

Yeah. I wuz just recapitulating my capitulation to a spirit of dismay.

Stirs the imagination to yet further depths.

Turbulence, I actually agree that Israel has practiced collective punishment. I think it's ugly as hell, probably against international law, and possibly necessary. Give them credit for this much, however: collective punishment historically is usually lining people up and randomly shooting them; in Israel, it's mostly property damage. As tyrannical overlords, they miss the whole point.

But I digress. The comment that sparked this particular subthread was about Israel's "hate" for countries, not groups of people. I took that to mean war, not collective punishment. That's why I expressed confusion as to why we were suddenly talking about collective punishment. Bombing civilian targets during wartime may be a war crime, but it's not generally called collective punishment.

As for whether the so-called occupied territories are a war zone, that's a matter of semantics, it seems to me. They are semi-autonomous, a state in all but name, and occasionally subject to full-scale military invasion. OTOH, they haven't actually declared statehood, Israel retains a minimal role in administration, Israel tries hard to keep their military from developing, etc.

I have some difficulty understanding those actions as anything other than a desire to harm lots of arabs who had nothing to do with attacks.

Me too. It may have been an attempt to undermine Hezbollah's demographic base in Lebanon (that backfired). Or to prod Hezbollah into concentrating their forces to defend their base (like Grant with Richmond). Didn't work, if so.

Given their incredibly poor military performance in the war, perhaps unarmed civilian infrastructure is the only sort of target with which the IDF can successfully engage.

Heh. Nah, the IDF probably did about as well as anybody could against a dispersed, highly-mobile target that refused to defend anything in particular. Israeli pre-war intelligence apparently sucked, tho. I get the impression that they severely underestimated Hezbollah's strength.

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