June 18, 2010

What’s the Blockade For?

The Israeli government has decided to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip, earning it kudos from the United Nations and contempt from Hamas, which dismisses it as a public-relations stunt. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accuses Israel of manipulating public opinion by allowing more goods in, but there has been no shortage of misleading information from his side already.

Preventing Hamas from importing missiles and other sophisticated weaponry from Syria and Iran is the blockade's primary function. There's a secondary goal, as well, and it's this one that has drawn the most criticism from the United Nations and Western activists. Israeli blockade-enforcement authorities have not only blocked construction materials such as cement, they've also been prohibiting seemingly random items like coriander, nutmeg, and musical instruments, while allowing in cinnamon, frozen meat, and medical supplies.

Critics describe the Israeli blockade as "collective punishment" against Gaza's entire population, and it does look that way when perusing the list of prohibited items, but the items on that list aren't outright banned. Aid organizations can import all the cement and coriander they want for reconstruction and food distribution. The restrictions only apply to private-sector importers, and even then, only "luxury" items and construction materials that can be used for military purposes are blocked.

"Humanitarian products are delivered on a daily bases to the Strip," said the spokesman for COGAT, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. "Food products are delivered almost without restriction—with the exception of luxury goods, which the average Gazan cannot afford, but which are purchased by the wealthy and corrupt leaders of Hamas."

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2010 10:39 AM
Comments
I think the Israelis have made a good counter move that would have been even better with getting US help in their investigation. France and Japan would have been interesting observers too.

The counter-move was simply agreeing to lighten some restrictions on non-military items while declaring the blockade intact. It has will continue to heighten the security issue as it is obvious nations want to pile up on Israel and wear them down. Even the Lefter Israeli Press is taking this spin: http://www.haaretz.com/magazine/week-s-end/erdogan-is-not-the-bogeyman-1.296960

I don't know....Erdogan, Assad and Ahmadinejad standing together is rather scary.....

And last, whatever victory Palestinians want to claim has come from the Flotilla (does the cargo still wait for delivery?), Turkey and Iran vie for that honor. Hamas is even worried the new lifting of restrictions of some imports will hurt their lucrative tunnel market.....Iran and Turkey are also warned that military intervention or provocation will be met harshly and not regarded well by the Press after the easing of some restrictions and the focus on Iranian human rights and Turkish warfare with Kurdistan.

Therefore, I expect a provocation.....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 18, 2010 1:15 pm
After Lebanon, the West Bank & Gaza... Doesn't it seem that "collective punishment" doesn't help?
Posted by: Abu Guerrilla at June 18, 2010 3:33 pm
West Bank is doing much better having taken some responsibility for violence. Lebanon reacted harshly to Hizb'Allah's war in 2006 and they didn't win the recent election. The "collective" punishment in Southern Lebanon is best a militarily one with the further loss of life? And in Gaza, Hamas wouldn't win an election after their stupid provocation of Israel. Seems that collective punishment has produced trouble for Hamas. So I don't get your point.

In your theory how does the absence of collective punishment work? Please explain it so I can have a good laugh. Castro would love to know too...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 18, 2010 3:44 pm
Abu Guerrilla: Doesn't it seem that "collective punishment" doesn't help?

Well, it isn't exactly collective punishment, but you're right that it doesn't help. Nothing does, really-- not diplomacy, not a peace process, not benign neglect, and not war. This problem is going to go on and on and on into the horizon.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 18, 2010 4:07 pm
Nothing does, really-- not diplomacy, not a peace process, not benign neglect, and not war. This problem is going to go on and on and on into the horizon.

That's because the only language EVERYONE understands - total war - is no longer acceptable to anyone except the bad guys. Unless that changes, preventing the bad guys from winning is about as good as it gets, because they certainly wouldn't hesitate to destroy us utterly if they could. Pain and suffering have been the only things that reliably ended wars in the past, and in the modern world wars are fought to avoid inflicting pain and suffering on the enemy. Is it any wonder the wars never end?
Posted by: Craig at June 18, 2010 4:43 pm
Craig, I get this feeling that at some point the provocation will get so serious a glimpse of total war will raise it's nasty head. The constant crying of disproportionate force has actually created a boiling up of tension.

Michael, there has been some talk in Israel of putting the Palestinians on a "diet". That is a form of collective punishment. Hell, California cutting exports to Arizona is collective punishment. I think there is some responsibility due people who elect their leaders and do not hold them responsible. Why should there be no punishment for the choices the majority of the people make to the detriment of those who objected? Its a tough call, by the alternatives aren't any better and could actually threaten the victim with further bloodshed...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 18, 2010 5:07 pm
Craig is correct. Additionally, the United Nations major "accomplishment" has been to institutionalize (make permanent) many conflicts, especially the Arab/Islamic vs. Israeli conflict, by giving permanent welfare to the losers.
Posted by: del at June 18, 2010 5:49 pm
"Collective punishment" is a term invented by the Palestinians, and is used against no other country besides Israel. Anyhow, wouldn't isolating and embargoing Israel also be "collective punishment?" It would be punishing all Israelis for the crimes of a few far right Likudniks-- i.e., "collective punishment." That wouldn't be fair, now would it.
Posted by: Carlos at June 18, 2010 8:02 pm
That's because the only language EVERYONE understands - total war - is no longer acceptable to anyone except the bad guys.

I used to think that Israel's meekness was a unique sign of timidness and insecurity of Israeli society and perhaps a reflection of Jewish morals... and that all of the clamor of denunciations against Israel from places like western Europe were 100% hypocritical.

However a decade later I can see signs that Europe really does have a different approach toward Islamist terror. I realize now that Britain's response to Salman Rushdie and to 7/7 was to look for Islamists to bribe, cultivate and give power to, in hopes that they could be co-opted. They make laws against terror and don't enforce them, with MP George Galloway handing large checks over to Hamas, having his pro-Palestinian "charity" workers fight (and in one case even kill) Egyptian border police - and they face no charges.

Now maybe it's true that France elected Sarkozy and Geert Wilders got a surprising number of votes in the Netherlands, but those represent a brand new swing to the right. It sure took a long time coming and those countries will probably remain very moderate none the less.

But just because Europeans are too scared by two world wars and to infantilized by decades of American protection to support self defense doesn't mean that the rest of the world has changed at all. I still think that the US wouldn't hesitate to defend itself to whatever extent necessary to eliminate any active enemy.

Even Obama has continued and expanded every defense program of Bush's that he claimed he'd shut down. The rhetoric was just riding the wave of hysterical distrust of an aphasic republican president, but once in power Obama is embodying the same American values that Bush did.
Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 18, 2010 8:25 pm
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3907075,00.html

The swing right has a down side too. As usual it is often a lose-lose situation for Jews...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 18, 2010 10:33 pm
Uh, you might be wary of what Europeans and their press call "right wing". It's not even a matter of Europe tending to be way left in comparison to the US, but of Europeans, like American educators and politicians, arbitrarily labeling certain political groups as "right wing".

Kind of like how we're all told the National Socialist German Workers Party was "right wing".
Posted by: Squires at June 18, 2010 10:51 pm
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3903809,00.html

I can no longer distinguish any difference between "left" and "right"
Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 18, 2010 11:02 pm
Well, that was entertaining.
Posted by: Squires at June 18, 2010 11:04 pm
Funny, Squires hadn't posted when I started posting...

I have always considered Nazis part of a racist far right.
Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 18, 2010 11:04 pm
In any case, calling Sarkozy right of Mitterrand is not arbitrary
Posted by: Josh Scholar at June 18, 2010 11:06 pm
Interesting what systematic brain washing will do even here. You all are discussing some thing that does not exist. In most measurable aspect: life expectancy, calories per person, education, avaiability of medical care, number of medics per persons, distance from USA standard hospital, housing !!! dress, goods in stores, etc. Gaza people are not in a bad situation and some times better off than most humanity ! They are compared to Tel-Aviv, New York, Paris. Most humanity live in other places. As for housing, just example, unlike Egypt no body live in cemetaries, the number of people sleeping in the street is less than India.
In the old days the paper media and the Radio gave facts. Where is the investigative reporter that will publish a table just simple table in the NYT comparing Gaza to 20 other countries?
Posted by: Rani at June 19, 2010 12:10 am
"I can no longer distinguish any difference between "left" and "right""

That's because the one-dimensional Left-Right axis is too simple. Look at the Political Compass site for a better way to describe political variation.
Posted by: Don Cox at June 19, 2010 1:42 am
Interesting site, Don. Lots of loaded questions in that test, though! I got stuck at number one:

If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

Besides the fact that they mis-spelled globilization in the British manner indicating a European bias, that's a question I can't answer with multiple choice variations of agree or disagree, because I don't accept the "if.... inevitable..." part of the question. That test could never accurately pigeon-hole me when it forces me to accept preconditions that I oppose and then answer hypothetically. That question is supposed to find out whether I lean towards free enterprise or social justice, but it can't do so because I believe globalization is exploitative in nature and will never benefit anyone other than international elites.

So, in my opinion, that test gets a FAIL :p
Posted by: Craig at June 19, 2010 2:56 am
Craig, look at the test at the Libertarian Party site.....by the way, it labeled me centrist...
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 19, 2010 6:42 am
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=178812

Glick on the coming war....I note her use of the word kinetic.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnes_Wallis

just saying....
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 19, 2010 7:32 am
Umm Josh? You might wanna re-think this sentence...

"Even Obama has continued and expanded every defense program of Bush's that he claimed he'd shut down."

No other point about anything else you wrote in that comment.

Think Bob "Axeman" Gates and the F-22 just for starters.

and then there is this...

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/15/secrets-from-inside-the-obama-war-room.html

“For the past eight years, whatever the military asked for, they got,” Obama explained later. “My job was to slow things down.”

ONLY
THE
DRONES,
R
Posted by: Render at June 19, 2010 8:15 am
http://defensetech.org/2010/06/18/putin-declares-new-russian-built-pak-fa-stealth-fighter-better-than-f-22-raptor/#idc-container

Here's one for you Render....haven't checked email lately.....

I hear ya....

(you might find this interesting....though I don't give the site much credibility. Obviously a worker in the field has some interesting comments)

http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread47264/pg2
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 19, 2010 9:00 am
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5imG40x0JugfKVRhdgq1_qyBV9r3w

Hixb'Allah afraid enough to let women do their bidding. I love the bringing of Jesus into the mix.
Posted by: Maxtrue at June 19, 2010 2:08 pm
Hixb'Allah afraid enough to let women do their bidding. I love the bringing of Jesus into the mix.

Jesus doesn't back ceasefire violations.

When can the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon be expected to step up and at least ATTEMPT to keep the peace between Lebanon and Israel? I'm pretty sure that the ceasefire agreement doesn't exempt Lebanese from being held responsible for breaching the peace just because they call themselves "activists". If it does, that's the world's stupidest ceasefire agreement. Ever.
Posted by: Craig at June 19, 2010 2:20 pm
Craig: It goes along with the Leclerc tanks painted bright white.

http://www.google.com/images?q=leclec%20in%20lebanon&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi

BEACON,
R
Posted by: Render at June 20, 2010 1:01 am
Render: It goes along with the Leclerc tanks painted bright white.

Why don't they complete the package and paint a large roundel on the side of the turret?
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at June 20, 2010 9:25 am
You guys are mean!
Posted by: Craig at June 20, 2010 11:46 am
Leclerc tanks rock! Might be the best tank in the world relative to price. The best Tank in the world is probably the Korean K-2. But that monster is too expensive, heavy and fuel inefficient.

Dudes, go easy on UNIFIL. Some of those 15 K soldiers are pretty darned good. Too bad they aren't tasked with training, advising, and equipping the LAF.

UNFIL has:
1 K Chinese
2 K French
2-3 K German
1 K Indians
more than 1 K Indonesians
2-3 K Italians
1 K Nepalese
1-2 K Spanish
0.5 K Russians
0.5 K Turks

Just imagine what these countries could do to improve the 4 year officer academy and staff college for LAF officers, or what they could do to improve the LAF NCO schools. Attaching them as mentors to existing LAF units would do wonders.

Instead UN morons task them to monkey work standing around missions.
Posted by: anan at June 20, 2010 12:30 pm
Just imagine what these countries could do to improve the 4 year officer academy and staff college for LAF officers...

I prefer to imagine what they could do in regards to keeping the peace, if they decided to actually do their jobs :)

Training Lebanese military and police would be counter-productive when the country is run by Hezbollah. And even if that weren't so, it isn't the mandate of peacekeepers to improve the war fighting capabilities of one of the combatants during a ceasefire that they are supposedly enforcing.
Posted by: Craig at June 20, 2010 1:30 pm
I'm not sure I buy this, but I'm not sure that I don't buy it, either. At least it was novel, contained some new information and managed to avoid being long on emotional manipulation.

My gut says it's more likely than not to be a large stretch to suggest that non-profit aid deliveries constitute a complete replacement for the private-sector goods that would otherwise enter Gaza, for example from the diaspora.

Furthermore, that jpeg is not the "list", it's a series of demonstrative excerpts from the list, collected by a media organization.

The best justification for the blockade was as an additional collective punishment for the rocket barrage of 2008. You can't continue something like that forever; at some point it stops being perceived as being punishment for a discrete aggressive action and starts looking like punishing the leadership for their existence, which has the opposite of a detterent effect.

Hamas will either decide that rocket barrages are more trouble than they're worth, or they won't. The lack of barrages over the past two years suggests that they get it.. All Israel is doing here is taking yes for an answer.

Nothing does, really-- not diplomacy, not a peace process, not benign neglect, and not war

Violence is down since December-January 2009. Looks to me like something has helped. There's still an unfortunate airstrike-rocket cat & mouse game going on, but Israel isn't playing that game with Hamas, but with bottom-up splinter cells. If that problem ever gets solved, it will be via cooperation between Israel and the people who run Gaza, in an atmosphere of overall Israeli-Arab peace and quiet.
Posted by: glasnost at June 20, 2010 3:27 pm
glasnost, did you see my comments to you about Taiwan and Poland. Love ya dude, but please don't diss cool countries.

"Training Lebanese military and police would be counter-productive when the country is run by Hezbollah." Obviously we disagree. How can Lebanese institutions strenghten sufficiently to be able to handle Hezbollah unless Lebanese institutions are supported by foreigners? Lebanese debt/GDP = 150% and budget deficit = about 12% of GDP. This means that the Lebanese security forces are dependent on international training, advising, funding and equipping. This also greatly restrains the ability of the Lebanese establishment [and rival Shiite groups such as Amal] to manage Hezbollah.

the mandate of peacekeepers to improve the war fighting capabilities of one of the combatants during a ceasefire that they are supposedly enforcing." Peace is over rated. Best to strenghten the LAF and let the LAF handle Hezbollah. If not for Hezbollah, wouldn't Lebanon and Israel be natural partners?
Posted by: anan at June 20, 2010 4:41 pm
anand,

Obviously we disagree. How can Lebanese institutions strenghten sufficiently to be able to handle Hezbollah unless Lebanese institutions are supported by foreigners?

The opposition to Hezbollah already lost, anand. Haven't you been paying attention?

Lebanese debt/GDP = 150% and budget deficit = about 12% of GDP. This means that the Lebanese security forces are dependent on international training, advising, funding and equipping.

You really need to spend less time number-crunching and more time paying attention to political realities. The time to undermine Iranian influence - and financial sponsorship of HA - was several years ago. And that task was failed quite badly.

Peace is over rated. Best to strenghten the LAF and let the LAF handle Hezbollah.

Anand, sorry, but that's in direct contradiction of the very concept of "peacekeepers".

This is a matter of law, not of opinion. You obviously don't get this, as you have repeatedly asserted that peacekeepers are valid military targets, which they aren't. But, they would be if they took on the types of missions you think they should.

If not for Hezbollah, wouldn't Lebanon and Israel be natural partners?

Why ask so many hypothetical questions? You may as well talk about "If not for the Taliban..." while discussing Afghanistan.
Posted by: Craig at June 20, 2010 6:26 pm
The LeClerc is an unreliable lightweight POS designed for a specification that never existed. France is already scrapping the oldest versions. A sure sign that the original design is not conducive to upgrades.

The K2 Black Eagle is still not in full production and will not be until 2014, if ever.

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/03/205_58355.html

"Among the arms improvement programs, K2 tank production was hit the hardest by the cut. The Assembly slashed 50 billion from the proposed 88.2 billion won for producing the new tanks this year amid reports over technical problems with the tank's "power pack" system." In a parliamentary session on Dec. 10, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young admitted the problem with the K2 power pack, which is comprised of a 1,500-horsepower, 12-cylinder diesel engine and transmission. "The K2 program will be delayed by one year, but the production of 100 tanks in 2014 will be possible," Kim said."

===

The LAF is HizbAllah, HizbAllah is the LAF. There is no Amal, what was left of it was absorbed into HizbAllah long ago.

Tell me again why UNFIL needed thirteen French main battle tanks?

===

The "best" main battle tanks in the world have already proven themselves in combat. M1A2 SEP, Challenger II, and Merkava Mk 4. Wanna complain about it? Go play on Strategypage with the kiddies.

THIS IS
A
SIGN OFF,
R
Posted by: Render at June 20, 2010 7:49 pm
anan: Instead UN morons task them to monkey work standing around missions.

You would know what a moron does, no doubt.
=====================

Love ya dude, but please don't diss cool countries.

Are you 12 years old?
=====================

Dudes, go easy on UNIFIL. Some of those 15 K soldiers are pretty darned good. Too bad they aren't tasked with training, advising, and equipping the LAF.

If the UNIFIL dudes were tasked with training the LAF dudes, then we could be sure the LAF dudes would be at least as incompetent and useless. On the plus side, the LAF dudes would then be qualified for UN contract work as UN dudes.

.
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at June 20, 2010 8:38 pm
Just how "interim" is the UNIFIL anyway?

They've been there since 1978. Wouldn't that normally be referred to as a quagmire? If it was the USIFIL, you know it would be.

Most of the UNIFIL force is non-Muslim. Where is the outrage?

They are not bringing peace, they are only prolonging the inevitable.

IN
THE
WAY,
R
Posted by: Render at June 20, 2010 10:36 pm
"Violence is down since December-January 2009. Looks to me like something has helped."

You mean since Operation Cast Lead? Is it possible that brute force is the only language that the savage barbarians of Hamas, that you and anand love to suck up to, understand?

"There's still an unfortunate airstrike-rocket cat & mouse game going on"

Right, for people like you murderous attacks on Jewish civilians are a game, kind of like backgammon.

"If that problem ever gets solved, it will be via cooperation between Israel and the people who run Gaza"

The "people who run Gaza" are fanatic annihilationist antisemites who explicitly call for the murder of Jews in their charter. IOW g's kind of people.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at June 21, 2010 12:56 am
through

under
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at June 22, 2010 7:49 am
Anand, I'll diss whoever I damn well please. This is a place for policy argument, not an American Idol phone-in vote session.

Grow up. This isn't a place for refraining from criticism because OMG we were in that country once and everyone was so friendly! There are no nations, no movements, no entities above criticism, and I'm not about to start being gentle and kind to assuage your fucking sensibilities. This is how it is. Sack up and learn to argue in a topical manner.
Posted by: glasnost at June 22, 2010 7:56 am
Gary needs a hug! :-D
You make it worth finding some non-work hours to come chime in here. I'm really coming to enjoy our little chats!
Posted by: glasnost at June 22, 2010 8:01 am
change
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at June 22, 2010 5:25 pm
"Gary needs a hug!"

Sorry, you're not my type.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at June 22, 2010 10:08 pm
"I'm not about to start being gentle and kind to assuage your fucking sensibilities"

There may be some common ground between myself and glasnost after all ...
Posted by: Gary Rosen at June 22, 2010 10:10 pm
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