July 19, 2006

On the Other Hand

By Callimachus:

The idea of proportionate Israeli action in Lebanon, which I advocate, is getting a lot of slagging from some people who are technically on the same team I am.
And one other note: the "disproportionate" meme is an insult to our intelligence. I do not think it is worth discussing. It should be obvious that the best way to deter a bully is to use overwhelming force so that he will never again be tempted to provoke you. Anything less than that is simply an invitation for further troubles down the road.
Or this:
As an American, I recognize my constitutional right to take whatever measures are necessary to protect myself, my family, and my home. If someone comes after my wife and child, tearing him limb from limb would not be disproportionate. If I showed mercy, and subdued him by other means, that would be my prerogative. But I am in no way required to.
The most vigorous arguments along that line often are cast in such terms. But at the risk of doing a Dukakis, I think this is one case where the metaphor of war as a knife-fight with a lunatic to protect your wife doesn't hold up so well.

There's also a perplexing tendency to couple a solid argument that Israel has too used proportion and restraint in its attempts to snipe Hezbollah, with a "to hell with proportion" call to set loose the dogs of war.

Proportionate response is just. Justice isn't always a sure path to physical victory. In this case, the cost of physical defeat is extermination.

Proportionate use of force is not an absolute; it's a guide. It doesn't mean civilians don't get killed. It doesn't mean you've failed if they do.

It doesn't negate the gunman's rule that, if you're going to shoot, shoot to kill. It doesn't negate the ugly truth that, in many wars, a short-term burst of extreme violence seems to actually save lives in the long run.

You don't do it because you expect the other side to follow suit. You don't do it so people will like you. You don't ever want to do it out of weakness or fear.

Hezbollah wants a fight to the death. With flamethrowers. In a crowded old wooden orphanage. It means you're not required to do it their way.

Posted by Callimachus at July 19, 2006 09:27 PM
Comments

Can we assume the supporters of genocide would have no problem if the police kicked in their door and dragged them off to jail for a crime committed by someone from their neighborhood they'd never met?

Posted by: monkyboy at July 19, 2006 09:34 PM

Proportionality works as a legal principle. When you are attacked you are privileged to defend yourself with reasonable force, including deadly force if your life is threatened. The idea of "proportionality" as applied to nation-states is nonsense, another failure of the attempt to apply individual morality to a collective entity.

You're trying to design an ad hoc standard without any rule to guide you. What rule are you enunciating? What is its basis? You're not trying to persuade anyone of anything. You're asserting, asserting, and reasserting and can't understand why no one's mind is changing. You have to start from principles you share with your interlocutors and reason from there. Otherwise, you're simply shouting at each other to no good end.

Posted by: John Jenkins at July 19, 2006 09:41 PM

It means you're not required to do it their way.

You realize, that's not the same as saying, that it means you are required not to do it their way, which it seems is the position you are actually trying to take.

Monkyboy, try actually making that into an argument. You'll find that it's a non sequitur.

Posted by: John Jenkins at July 19, 2006 09:49 PM

John,

I think it's a fair bet that those who cheer every shell Israel's lumpen "soldiers" lob into the civilian areas of Palestine and Lebanon feel they will never be on the receiving end of such treatment.

Posted by: monkyboy at July 19, 2006 09:52 PM

And for the triple-post:

As an American, I recognize my constitutional right to take whatever measures are necessary to protect myself, my family, and my home. If someone comes after my wife and child, tearing him limb from limb would not be disproportionate. If I showed mercy, and subdued him by other means, that would be my prerogative. But I am in no way required to.

Stupidity. Self-defense was a common law defense to certain crimes and torts that was carried over into American law. Defense of others was also. It's got nothing to do with the Constitution, as you'll note that only one crime is defined therein at all. There was also a common law duty to retreat if possible. That's not in the Constitution either.

Posted by: John Jenkins at July 19, 2006 09:54 PM

monkyboy, that's a whole different argument than the one you made (that I think is equally unpersuasive, but is nonetheless different).

A closer analogy might be that your neighborhood had ten people living in it and the cops knew for certain that one of you was a serial killer. Is it permissible for them to come in and arrest all of you. (answer: no, but why?)

An even closer analogy would be that your apartment building contains a person carrying a deadly contagion that can only be stopped by burning the pathogen. There is no verifiable test for the contagion so the government seals you all in one night. Is it permissible for them to burn the building down to prevent the spread of the contaigon? (answer: no, but why?)

The best analogy I think I can make is this. You and the other people in your building know that one of the people is a serial killer and you know who that is, but you refuse to do anything about it. Are you now complicit? Does the fact that you chose not to do anything make you an accomplice, or at least culpable for the serial killer's misconduct? (Answer: I think so).

Your original statement is a classic attack on consequentialism (in part) that I don't think applies here at all.

The argument that you cannot advocate that A do X to B when X would never happen to you is so obviously a non sequitur that I don't quite understand why you made it.

Posted by: John Jenkins at July 19, 2006 10:04 PM

The problem with the idea of proportionality is that it is too vague to have any real use, and will only be misused by partisans of one side or another. The extremes we can all agree on, and in the grey areas the concept has no use.

Posted by: MarkC at July 19, 2006 10:06 PM

Surely the important point here is, as you state, "Hezbollah wants a fight to the death". In that case, the only proportionate response is to destroy them, in any other case they will simply return to their fight to the death.

I also continue to be amazed at the naivete (or ill will) of people who are unable to imagine the horrors of war without photographs - the pictures of dead Lebanese children in the rubble are endlessly repeated. Do they think the people dying in Israel (or Darfur or any of the other places where mass killing is ignored because it doesn't involve Jews) die looking like angels on a bed of satin with beatific smiles on their faces? And the naivete (or ill-will) of those who believe that the majority of victims in Lebanon are women and children.

Posted by: ilana at July 19, 2006 10:18 PM

[ The idea of "proportionality" as applied to nation-states is nonsense, another failure of the attempt to apply individual morality to a collective entity. ]

So if Israel wants to nuke Lebanon out of existence it's okay? Wouldn't that be a disproportionate response?

Like most people I agree Israel has a right to defend itself, but it's not a license to indiscriminatly destroy Lebanon.

Posted by: LA Guy at July 19, 2006 10:20 PM

John,

Are you assuming that everyone in Lebanon and Palestine not only knows each other but knows what they do at night?

That's odd considering the U.S. spends half a trillion dollars a year on "defense" and can't even find Osama...

Posted by: monkyboy at July 19, 2006 10:21 PM

Sometimes you have to do it their way.

Since I don't know what you would rather have them do (though I know what you don't want them to do) I can't comment on that. Maybe you have a workable option I do not see. So far all I have seen require Hizbolla to want the thing to end or depend on thier good will.

Personally I see three basic options: leave them alone, clandetine operations, or attack/kill them (negotiations have alraedy failed and lead to this). I don't think you are on the leave them alone side. Some are for various reasons - but I don't agree with this option.

I can't see how surgical clandestine oeprations can have any effect at all. It's too surgical.

That leave attack/kill them. For that you have to project force and we can only do that where they are located. Unfortunatly only they can choose where they stay or hide. It would be nice to have them fight out in the open, or even stay in thier own land with their supporters - but one can not force it. You would just have a massed Israeli army sitting doing nothing or bombing worthless targets.

It happens in many other things also. Take unarmed combat - close quarter/ground fighting tends to dominate simply because you can not force someone into medium to long range but you can force someone onto the ground and keep them there. It doesn't matter if you like it or not - that's just the way it is.

In this case either side can force the fighting to move into civilian quarters (friendly or not to their cause) and the other side can do nothing about it. Thus, if they want to continue to fight and one side chooses to do that there tends to be no other choice. Hizbolla has decided to do so (IMO to get the calls for restraint and "proportionality" for Isreal with no need for Hizbolla to follow suit). Of course, capitulation is always an option, but again I don't think that is what you want.

I feel sorry for the lebanese, especially after reading this blog. But, in the long run, it seems this is probably for the better. It's been stated over and over that they can not oust Hizbolla (for various reasons) - well they are getting ready to be ousted one way or another. Once gone I rather suspect that western powers will will rebuild - in ten years with Hizbolla it will still be the same - I would beet even at 20 or 30 years, in ten years without them they can function normally again. It just sucks to be the ones alive then.

Posted by: strcpy at July 19, 2006 10:29 PM

Proportionate response is just.

This is not about justice.

Is Israel obliged to tolerate attacks on it's civilian population?

Does Israel have the right to take action against those who attack it, regardless of if the target of the attack is civilian or military?

The concept of proportionate response mainly ensures that the hostile parties will survive to perpetuate the conflict indefinitely.

Allowing a conflict to continue indefinitely is not moral, it is not humane, and it is not just.

Posted by: rosignol at July 19, 2006 11:27 PM

I give Israel the benefit of the doubt when they say that they're trying not to hit civilians. As you said, even a proportional response could lead to civilian deaths. The fact is, Israel has a moral duty to turn back the wave that Hezbollah has unleashed. Oftentimes this requires overwhelming force. It's really sad thatht e Lebanese people are caught in the middle of this, but what else can Israel do? They must defend themselves.

Posted by: Rafique Tucker at July 19, 2006 11:32 PM

By arguing that any acts of war need to be proportional, you are creating a massive moral hazard for entities like Hezbullah.

If my enemy knows that world opinion and the media will decry civilian deaths and demand proportional war, then what should my strategy be?

A. Maximize civilian deaths by hiding among them.
B. Escalate in small increments to make it seem like it is actually my enemy who is escalating out of proportion.
C. Act crazy, because that way the media and world opinion, desperate to alleviate the suffering of civilians will look to the only rational actor (my enemy) to "solve" the problem by not reacting to any provocation.

Posted by: Aaron at July 19, 2006 11:44 PM

I agree that Israel has a right to defend itself, but are its actions in Palestine and Lebanon really doing that?

It's obvious that the technological advantage Israel has had over its opponents for the past 60 years that has kept it relatively secure is coming to an end.

If a group or country suddenly aquires the ability to do to Israel what Israel is doing to Palestine or Lebanon...will the rest of the world step in to save Israel...will they even care?

I don't think so.

Posted by: monkyboy at July 19, 2006 11:49 PM

Wrong ros, proportionate response IS just -- after the initial unjust action by Hez of murdering Israeli soldiers and kidnapping.

Proportionate response means: the minimum force to insure that the unjust acting party, Hezbollah, ceases to act in criminal fashion.

Israel should argue they ARE using proportionate response, and point out they've tried less forceful responses which have NOT caused Hez to stop murdering Israelis. And Hezbollah, NOT wearing uniforms for identification, is commiting murder -- which is different than the civilians being killed by uniformed Israelis in their attempts to stop the murders.

"Hezbollah wants a fight to the death. With flamethrowers. In a crowded old wooden orphanage. It means you're not required to do it their way."
If one side wants a fight to the death -- the other side either kills them, is killed by them, or surrenders. Kill, be killed, or give up; the only long term options. In the short term, like in boxing, there can be a pause.

Most calls for prop response are a call to stop Israel from creating a situation where Hezbollah will stop murdering Israelis -- in other words, calls for more Israelis to be murdered.

I think Israel should be demanding that Lebanon surrender, unconditionally. It was too weak to stop the Hez murders. After Israel becomes the Occupying Authority, they should be bringing in the international community to increase security. Maybe 60 000 - 100 000 international troops to find and disarm Hezbollah?

Posted by: Tom Grey - Libertay Dad at July 19, 2006 11:51 PM

Proportionate response means: the minimum force to insure that the unjust acting party, Hezbollah, ceases to act in criminal fashion.

Agreed. By their nature democracies adhere to higher moral standards than terrorist groups and dicatorships. Even after WW2, there was no question that Nazi leaders should be treated like they treated their opponents - they were given the opportunity of a trial, at which a few were even acquitted of war crimes.

If you take the 'by any means necessary' argument to its ultimate conclusion you could in theory argue that the use of chemical or nuclear weapons is justified as it does the job of weakening the enemy (in a pretty terminal way).

I am sure just about noone here is advocating the "nuke 'em" option. Which means all of us actually agree to the principle of proportionality and limits. So the debate seems to be about where those limits should lie, not if they should exist in the first place.

Posted by: Dirk at July 20, 2006 12:13 AM

Hezbollah wants a fight to the death. With flamethrowers. In a crowded old wooden orphanage.

Cute.

Except that Hezbullah is fighting with missiles. Thousands of missiles. Of every variety. Of every range. Packed with ball bearings and who knows what else (want to guess?) Some they haven't used yet---they're saving those for "the right time," and some of us don't even want to think about what those missiles might be carrying.

But we had better.

Because like Nasrallah has said, with all the spirituality he could muster, Hezbullah can reach every corner of Israel

(Unless you'd like to believe he's lying).

And like Hezbullah has claimed---along with its
Iranian sponsors, trainers, armorers and fellow fighters in Lebanon---they, make no mistake, do intend to destroy Israel. And in so doing they will make all Moslems delirious with joy and pride.

(Though once again, you might think they're merely pulling your leg with their heady brand of humor....)

But they're not only fighting with missiles.

We know that Hezbullah, with its pals have militarily occupied and infiltrated huge swaths of south Lebanon, not infrequently with the support of those who call themselves Lebanese. They've built bunkers and storage depots in Shia and Christians towns and villages throughout the entire area (not always with the villagers' assent, but then what's a little terror here and there to establish the rules?). The area is laced with enforced tunnels to move men and materiel to the border and perhaps beyond. They've built bunkers and storage depots in South Beirut and the southern environs to Beirut. They've infiltrated the Lebanese Army (whatever that might be). They are part of the government. Hezbullah's power base and training grounds stretch up to the Beka'a valley where more missiles are deployed, and ensure or try to ensure that the rearming routes to Syria remain open.

(And we're not even talking here about the missiles that Syria has.)

For all intents and purposes, Hezbullah (acting in concert with its Iranian and Syrian sponsors and supporters) has decided that the function of Lebanon is to serve as a strategic threat to Israel's north and center; Lebanon---achingly lovely, dynamic, brutalized, but hopeful---from which Hezbullah will rain its thousands of missiles to Israel's north. And to its gut.

For that---perhaps---rainy day, should Israel decide to go after Iran.

(Though who's to say, really? With the Iranian regime's skill in treachery and brinksmanship well established, perhaps the threat from Syria and Lebanon---yes, alas, Lebanon---was always intended to be the main source of the threat, to be delivered in a withering knockout blow, while Israel had its hands full on its borders with Hamas and Hezbullah---with Iranian claims of nuclear development, for peaceful purposes of course, merely a clever feint to up the ante of anxiety, while having the experts guess at precisely which time Iran might actually be going nuclear?)

Well that missile barrage is happening. Not perhaps of the time of Hezbullah's, Syria's, and Iran's choosing. But it's happening. Eight days and counting, and thousands of missiles have fallen, with thousands more left to fall.

But it's not only the missiles. With all the tunnels, that over the past 24 hours were discovered to have been dug along Israel's northern border and crisscrossing the front, Hezbullah's master plan, full of diversions and feints, was also to launch ground assaults on Israel's north to create more surprise and mayhem.

And death.

Now, there are certain people---lots of people---who have no problem with Hezbullah and its goals, and the goals of its patrons. And one suspects that it is especially these people who are decrying Israel's response to the latest round of what has been a series of Hezbullah attacks since Israel vacated south Lebanon---to international praise and acclaim (gotta love that international acclaim! Ditto for Gaza, for what that's worth).

There are other people who try to understand Israel's position but still insist on proportionality. I'm afraid they don't understand, however good their intentions might be, what's going on.

For them, I quote Nafisi, who in Reading Lolita in Tehran wrote of the Islamic version of the revolutionary guards (or however they called themselves): "Theirs was a world in which defeat was impossible, hence compromise meaningless."

Those people who wish Israel would show discretion are arguing the impossible. Or rather they are actually arguing that Israel, in the interests of their definition of "right" should go into the woods and slit its wrists.

It may make them feel better to believe this--- even though they would deny it, while insisting that they support Israel's "right to exist".

But they don't realize that this is a fight to the finish, even if with both (both?!) sides exhausted, a cease-fire (whatever that might mean) can somehow be cobbled together.

And they should know that Israel, though it may be badly bloodied in battle, even to the point of being expunged, has no intention of walking into the woods and slitting its wrists.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at July 20, 2006 01:04 AM

Mark C: The problem with the idea of proportionality is that it is too vague to have any real use, and will only be misused by partisans of one side or another.

You hit the nail here Mark. The whole proportionality debate is only used by people who use it to tar Israel. Except, I hasten to add, Callimachus who is here, I believe, honestly trying to discuss a more general issue instead of trying to apply it to a single state in a single specific instance.

Posted by: Berend de Boer at July 20, 2006 01:17 AM

Agreed. By their nature democracies adhere to higher moral standards than terrorist groups and dicatorships.

Oh?

Do you have any idea how many civilians were incinerated in the allied air raids?

The notion that democracies adhere to higher moral standards than dictatorships in war is an anomaly that results from democracies having generally better military technology than dictatorships.

Democracies generally treat their citizens more morally than dictatorships, but it is a mistake to generalize that into conduct during wartime.

Even after WW2, there was no question that Nazi leaders should be treated like they treated their opponents - they were given the opportunity of a trial, at which a few were even acquitted of war crimes.

You are demonstrating your ignorance of history.

The trials were Josef Stalin's idea- he wanted show trials. I daresay morality and democracy had little to do with it.

Posted by: rosignol at July 20, 2006 01:38 AM

"Proportionate response is just."

Is it now? If Hizbullah specifically targets Israeli civilians, would a similar response by Israel be just? I don't think so.

At least the current Israeli strategy might be successful in actually hitting Hizbullah hard (even if they do hide among civilians). A "proportionate response" would ONLY hurt Lebanese civilians. How would that be "just"?

"Can we assume the supporters of genocide would have no problem if the police kicked in their door and dragged them off to jail for a crime committed by someone from their neighborhood they'd never met?"

If the supporter of genocide never acted against those among his people who wanted to commit genocide, I suppose the supporter of genocide would have to deal with the idea that such a thing could happen; if the target of the genocide is strong enough to defend itself.

Posted by: Andrew Brehm at July 20, 2006 02:07 AM

Hizb'Allah exerts its violence terroristically -- asymmetrically.

The moment they wedded themselves to this asymmetry they swept proportionality off the table as a moral response.

Proportional to asymmetry.
Let's see what this would look like.

The "proportional response" would have the IDF killing members of Hizb'Allah and Lebanese civilians in an exact ratio as Hizb'Allah has inflicted upon IDF and Israeli civilians.

That folks, is proportionality.

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

IDF actions have not been intended to be 'proportional to asymmetry' of Hizb'Allah.
That's moral.
Even if in the end they match or even exceed the combatant/civilian death ratio of Hizb'Allah.

A combatant force which drops pamphlets warning civilians to vacate in advance of military action against its enemy has behaved on a very high moral plane.
Even if civilians in that area are subsequently killed.
Even if the civilian deaths are in large numbers.

Unless of course you contend all war is immoral.
I have no time for such idiocy.

Posted by: Stephen_M at July 20, 2006 02:10 AM

Interesting, Andrew.

Israel has maybe 5 years at most before it faces serious threats from beyond the range of its Howitzers and F-16s.

Bushie will be back at his ranch fighting plants and America will have turned its back on the Middle East like it turned its back on Vietnam.

What then?

Posted by: monkyboy at July 20, 2006 02:33 AM

Somehow there is in the debate over Israeli 'proportionality' the lack of understanding that there are two distinct sociologies at work in the Middle East.

The Judaic/Christian heritage has evolved into a 'rights/guilt society,' while the Islamic heritage has evolved into a 'honor/shame society.'

The argument over 'proportionality' has much to do with our personal identification with one or the other of the two sociologies. From the Israeli view, the life of a single kidnapped soldier is paramount; its proportionality is grounded in rights to life, not honor. Tomorrow's Day Nine of the Israeli bombing should, by now, have educated someone in Lebanon that complaining about 'proportionality' simply feeds the fire of the Israeli campaign, based as it is upon the sociology of rights and its attendant supreme value assigned to human life.

Posted by: a Duoist at July 20, 2006 02:35 AM

Democracies generally treat their citizens more morally than dictatorships, but it is a mistake to generalize that into conduct during wartime.

Yes and no. Democracies by and large adhere to international agreements such as the Geneva convention and at least feel a moral obligation to act responsibly. Occupations by democracies are - largely and not always - more benign than that of dicatorships.

You are demonstrating your ignorance of history.

Well, I studied modern history at University, specialising in Nazi Germany in my final year. In answer to whether I'm aware of carpet boming in WW2, being half-German I remember very well my grandmother's stories of living in Cologne during that time.

The trials were Josef Stalin's idea- he wanted show trials. I daresay morality and democracy had little to do with it.

My understanding is that this is partially true. Stalin did moot some kind of trials after originally proposing mass executions of the officer class, but the blueprint itself was put together by the US.

Whether Stalin thought of it or not, 3/4 of the judges came from democratic powers and the fact remains that the Nazi leaders were treated much better than had the trials been carried out the other way around.

Posted by: Dirk at July 20, 2006 03:02 AM

Osama Bin Laden says that we American citizens who have failed to overthrow our corrupt government are as responsible for the atrocities of our government as the government itself... thus the justification for the attack on civilians in September 11th.

I see the same logic used here to justify the slaughter of innocent civilians of Lebanon... and the destruction of the infrastructure of Lebanon. On charges of complacency.

I also see a similarity between the terrorists of Hezbollah and those who have risen into power in the Israeli government, based on this constant crisis. They perpetuate the crisis to remain in power. They fight a war against civilians on either side. They depend on the calculatable actions of the 'enemy' to give them a reason to exist.

I believe one couldn't exist without the other... an Orwellian perpetual war. A war of governments against their own people.

I'm sure I'll find few friends with an opinion like that, especially on a blog like this one, where picking sides is a popular passtime... like watching football, but with a religious sense about the whole preceeding... its not just sports... its ideology too.

I despise the bloodshed, the senseless slaughter, the rockets falling from the sky on those who are, in the final analysis, as helpless to stop it as you bloggers are. However you at least, get to go to sleep in your own beds without having to wonder if some damned rocket or bomb is going to end your life, or that of your family.

Its an easy position to debate the relative merits of those who are deserving of having their bodies torn apart in massive, impersonal detonations of foreign made weapons, supplied by powers who see themselves as having a political interest in the region. A proxy war clash of civilizations. A dogfight for bets made in oil money, or maybe religious or political converts. Whatever. Its just as disgusting, inhumane, pointless, and cruel, whatever the justification is... I don't see the point in debating which dog is right, or which master is right.

Posted by: Robert at July 20, 2006 03:19 AM

I just posted IDF’s plan for "End of Crisis"
Unfortunately, the solution doesn’t seems to be close. For both sides.

Posted by: Ilan at July 20, 2006 03:37 AM

"I also see a similarity between the terrorists of Hezbollah and those who have risen into power in the Israeli government, based on this constant crisis. They perpetuate the crisis to remain in power. They fight a war against civilians on either side. They depend on the calculatable actions of the 'enemy' to give them a reason to exist.
I'm sure I'll find few friends with an opinion like that."
--Robert

Well things are not a total loss--- I agree with you on this point, anyway.

It's a start.

Posted by: dougf at July 20, 2006 04:08 AM

An extended metaphor:

Imagine there are 3 brothers. The 2 big brothers (Ira and Syd) are tough, but cowardly and are thus constantly egging on their smallest brother (Lebby) to hurt their enemy (Izzy) for "the honor of the family" or some similiar bullshit. Lebby stabs Izzy. As the injured victim of this attack, is Izzy a coward for not going after the 2 older, more dangerous brothers immediately? Is the smallest brother not responsible for his own actions?

And if you claim that no, the younger brother is not responsible, because he's only violent when he's hearing voices (from his imaginary friend Hezbo the Evil Clown) and that normally, he's quite peaceful, then your argument is that the smallest brother is insane. Unfortuantely, insane and dangerous criminals also need to be dealt if they are incapable of casting away their demons. Izzy should do whatever it needs to do to ensure his safety and the safety of his family from crazy little Lebby.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 04:28 AM

I also see a similarity between the terrorists of Hezbollah and those who have risen into power in the Israeli government, based on this constant crisis. They perpetuate the crisis to remain in power.

Utter bullshit. Kadima's disengagement plan is entirely about ending perpetual crisis. These status quo, provocations and little wars are exactly what they seek to end.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 04:31 AM

"Indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians... Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable.--UN Idiot In Charge - Louise Arbour.

And that exercise in foolishness is for anyone who wonders why the UN is a joke in bad taste or why the US refuses to sign on with the International Criminal Court.

Cultural Death wish circa 2006.

Our host in arguing his position has never once even hinted that "the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable", but this effete clown dares to go where most wouldn't.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES do I want my safety in hands like this. And I think she is Canadian, to boot, which merely adds gross personal insult to serious intellectual injury.

Posted by: dougf at July 20, 2006 04:49 AM

As someone mentioned in the Times today, what should the proportional response to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, which killed about 2400 people, have been? Didn't we level the place? And what was that massive attack on us by Germany during WWII that lead to our declaring war on it and also leveling it?

From the strict point of view of the US, these were both wildly unproportional.

Proportionality should apply if, say, a border guard shoots into your country; you shouldn't respond with a massive bombing campaign.

But Israel's response now is entirely approrpriate and very long overdue.

As for Lebanon, for reasons I must assume due to national stupidity, the government is entirely on the side of Hezbollah, making them directly a belligerent.

Posted by: seymourpaine at July 20, 2006 04:57 AM

How can the Israelie not see that their strategy is working AGAINST their interests:

- It will not guarantee military voictory (you can't beat a guerilla with missiles and airstrikes).

- It is proving to the Lebanese population that Hizbollah should not be disarmed.

- It is turning most of the Lebanese population against Israel.

- It is (in a way) proving to the Arab world that Syria shouldn't have been kicked out of Lebanon.

I understand Israeli public opinion wants venegance. But it will certainly comoe at the expense of the long term interest of Israel.

Posted by: Global Cairene at July 20, 2006 05:00 AM

Global Cairene:

"- You can't beat a guerilla with missiles and airstrikes:" You can if you're prepared to go far enough, and if you don't have a choice, that's what you'll do.

"- It is proving to the Lebanese population that Hizbollah should not be disarmed." If the Lebanese are really that stupid, they deserve whatever they get.

"- It is turning most of the Lebanese population against Israel." Well since Israel didn't see much sign of support from the Lebanese before now, that hardly makes much difference. And the actions of Hezbollah are turning many of the Israeli population against Lebanon. Why is Israel always being threatened with "turning Arab public opinion against it"? When has Arab public opinion been for Israel? It is the Arabs who should think how their actions are turning moderate and pro-peace Israelis against them.

"- It is (in a way) proving to the Arab world that Syria shouldn't have been kicked out of Lebanon." What does "in a way" mean? And see my response to your second point.

"I understand Israeli public opinion wants venegance." No, Israeli public opinion wants to get rid of a constant threat on its borders. Is it in Israel's long term interests? That depends on many many other factors, but it is certainly in Israel's short term interests.

Posted by: ilana at July 20, 2006 05:25 AM

Why is Israel always being threatened with "turning Arab public opinion against it"

Really, because it's 1,400,000,000 Muslims against 14,000,000 Jews. "Proportionality" fetishists rarely acknowledge this inherent "asymmetry."

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 05:51 AM

I don't know about that, Shmuel.

The Jews and Muslims in America get along just fine.

Posted by: monkyboy at July 20, 2006 06:47 AM

"The Jews and Muslims in America get along just fine."

That's mostly true (not counting the one that beat the shit out of me for being a "Zionist").

However, Jews and Muslims in the US support global Jewish and Muslim interests in very predictable ways. I'm talking about "opinion" not "relations" per se. And on a global level, the battle of "opinion" is not a fair fight.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 08:01 AM

"And what was that massive attack on us by Germany during WWII that lead to our declaring war on it and also leveling it?"

Portsmouth, Plymouth and Coventry were all massively attacked. I think the British bombimg campaign over Germany was probably proportionate.

Posted by: Don Cox at July 20, 2006 08:11 AM

You know what a "disproportionate use of force" is? It's using a suicide belt to blow up a bus full of unsuspecting, unarmed civilians. It's launching rockets indiscriminately against Haifa and Nazareth. It's waging a 20-year war against unarmed civilians, in the name of Allah. THAT is disproportionate. I cannot believe the hypocrisy the Europeans and others extol when they decry that Israel is guilty of using "disproportionate" force. What should they do, go kidnap two Hezbollah thugs in retaliation? THEN it would be a "fair fight"? Get real.

Posted by: Jonathan at July 20, 2006 08:20 AM

euobserver: "EU top diplomat Javier Solana in Israel on Wednesday urged the Israeli government to show restraint in Lebanon while calling on Hezbollah backers to intervene "immediately" for peace, as fresh strikes pushed the death toll past 300."

What would intervention by Hezbollah allies look like? No more missile launches?

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 20, 2006 08:30 AM

...y'know, that's something that seems to be implicit in a lot of the 'just war' discussions, and it's just not true.

'Just War' is not about making the fight fair, and never has been.

ps to Shmuel- please consider the possibility that the beating may have had more to do with your being an obnoxious jerk than your being a zionist.

Posted by: rosignol at July 20, 2006 08:33 AM

The best analogy I think I can make is this. You and the other people in your building know that one of the people is a serial killer and you know who that is, but you refuse to do anything about it. Are you now complicit? Does the fact that you chose not to do anything make you an accomplice, or at least culpable for the serial killer's misconduct? (Answer: I think so).

Mr. Jenkins thinks he is defending Israel's actuins but would be well served to study basic logic. His attempt above is a classic tautology.

The fascinating thing is this is this is the logic of terrorism, both in the moral defense mounted by its practicioners and in its excercise.

Jenkins is assertng through this logic tha that grandmothers, children and average people in Lebanon know the wheres and whens of the Katusha deployments.

This is the exact logic by which Israeli and other civilians would be defined as legitimate targets in conflict. It is bankrupt.

Now, there are certain people---lots of people---who have no problem with Hezbullah and its goals, and the goals of its patrons. And one suspects that it is especially these people who are decrying Israel's response to the latest round of what has been a series of Hezbullah attacks since Israel vacated south Lebanon---to international praise and acclaim (gotta love that international acclaim! Ditto for Gaza, for what that's worth).

Demonstably false from the myriad of Lebanese Blogs on the net. This is simply a highly uniformed comment.

The Judaic/Christian heritage has evolved into a 'rights/guilt society,' while the Islamic heritage has evolved into a 'honor/shame society.'

This is a strange conflation. Individual rights conceptually and in practice derive from a Greco-Roman heritige and the societies which eveolved from that heritage. The Islamic and Judiac are more commonly asociated with collective guilt and punishment concepts.

Posted by: QED at July 20, 2006 09:25 AM

Unfortunately, the IDF, under the "purity of arms" doctrine, has worried far too much about the fate of civilians in enemy states/territories.

And, ironically, this results in increased danger to civilians in enemy states/territories.

Just to pick the obvious example, after Operation Peace for Galilee, reporters touring the south of Lebanon noticed the prevalence of bomb craters and remains of artillery/missile launchers next to schools, hospitals, etc.

The IDF, rather than using, say, area denial weapons, had called in pinpoint strikes on the weapons, to minimize civilian casualties.

Arafat's gang retreated to Beirut, and hid among the civilians there.

And now? Learning behavior. Instead of trying to hide missiles and launchers inside the blast shadow of hospitals, schools, whatever, Hezbollah has now taken to hiding missiles in civilian homes, and preventing civilians from leaving the areas.

Hezbollah facilities in Beirut have deliberately been put in civilian housing areas; just yesterday, a reporter woke to note that there was a missile launcher in the parking lot outside of the Beirut hotel where western journalists are staying, etc.

Rewarding the use of human body armor has simply resulted in the more sophisticated use of more human body armor.

By accepting the reasoning behind the Arab terrorists' various forms of Operation Human Shield -- that it's the IDF's responsibility to see to the safety of the enemy hostages -- are successful, it's merely encouraged more of the same.

I'm hoping that the Lebanese will believe their own pravda about "indiscriminate" bombardment. (Unfortunately, I don't think they will.) If they did, they'd believe that not getting rid of Hezbollah would be suicidal.

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 20, 2006 09:27 AM

OneVoice is a grassroots, non-partisan Israeli-Palestinian group working to empower moderates to stand up against extremism and seize back the agenda for conflict resolution. At a time when extremists are once again dominating the agenda, its need to exist and to deliver could not be more crucial.

From OneVoice Youth Leaders, Saed Bilbeisi and Elad Dunayevsky

Dear International Friends of OneVoice,

There are rockets flying into Israel’s Northern towns as far down as Haifa as we write this, while the people of Gaza are in fear for their homes and lives, without electricity and running water. People are suffering, people are dying and people are afraid. It’s a crisis. We are writing to tell you though not to give up on us, or to give up on hope for an end to the conflict.

The situation today makes it very difficult to talk about conflict resolution - to see an end to the conflict. Sometimes it is easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel, at the moment the tunnel is dark. But this crisis and this conflict will end, and we say that with sobriety and rationality. As much as we feel helpless today, as rational people we must see any crisis as an opportunity to rise up and overcome the reasons that brought that crisis.

The situation will come to an end, when we do not know. In the meantime both people suffer so badly. Believe us that no-one is happy with this life. We want everyone around the world to know that we, and many friends and colleagues like us at OneVoice, are working to change this situation. We are ready. We are ready to do anything necessary to help end this situation. We have done so many activities and introduced so many people to OneVoice and it always gives them hope and energy. We can not and will not lose all of this however hard it is at this moment. We will strive to improve this life.

A resolution to the conflict may seem like a dream, but let us dream it and keep helping us do whatever we have to do to make it a reality. The day will never come when Israelis and Palestinians are prepared to accept living with this situation. How far we are from the day when we have a situation we will accept is hard to say, but we will work for it, even as the fighter jets and rockets go overhead, we will work for it.

Thank you,

Saed and Elad

Saed has been involved with OneVoice for around a year. He visits the OneVoice office to meet with other youth leaders and staff at least once a week and has even pioneered his own workshops on OneVoice in Ramallah, which have recruited many new volunteers. He spoke about OneVoice in Synagogues, community centers and campuses during OneVoice’s International Education Program tour to Canada.

Elad has also been volunteering for around a year. He uses his Arabic and Hebrew language skills to speak with both Arabs and Jews about the work of OneVoice and has served to educate and recruit activists in the Region and also in the US, where he spoke at over 10 venues on behalf of OneVoice during their International Education Program tour to New York.

Posted by: Jake Hayman at July 20, 2006 09:31 AM

yeah, proportionality is for sissies, who cares about those pesky civilians

Posted by: novakant at July 20, 2006 09:50 AM

American jews and arabs 'get along' because this is a society that has for over 200 years gradually established law and order in every nook and cranny. The maintenance of which is an ongoing business. And with plenty of errors and injustices along the way. The rich and powerful, as well as politically important individuals with access to high powered attorneys, still have an advantage over the average guy. We are allowed guns, alarm systems, pepper spray, etc. to use when the police aren't on site when the bad guys are. Armed militias are not allowed to root and fester, although they do try to spring up from time to time.

This nation was extremely fortunate to have started up when the big nations were too far away to control us effectively. Natural resources were abundant. The industrial revolution kicked in halfway through. Common law was kept in place and representative government overlaid upon that. We had a lot of margin for error. Fewer citizens, room to spread out.

Not anymore. Urban compression and dwindling natural resources are affecting us just as it is in the ME. It's oil now, but water is the next. Just look at the Jordan River. A trickle, not a river. Mix in clan wars going back hundreds of years without final resolution and put this on top of weak or non-existent law and order, not forgetting institutionalized corruption? One wonders how it's held together this long. Establishing Israel after WW2 was like dropping water into bucket of oil. They're both in the bucket, but they're never going to blend without an emulsifying agent. Lebanon seemed like a potential test tube of blending the way MJT depicted it.

In the larger scheme of things I believe the larger powers will let this continue on both sides until world order (mostly economic distribution) is threatened. They can squawk all the while about who is right or wrong in the ME, but most of the G-8 powers have their hands full with their own troubles. This is not on their front burners. Yet. To me, the biggest question is which side will China/India come down on. Who has what they need? They are becoming the world's manufacturers, so it's certain they will need energy and raw materials; but don't forget they also need viable customers. World disorder is not in anyone's best interest, except perhaps Islamic/political radicals. When fear and chaos reign, the weak flow to those with strength and a simple message.

Posted by: allan at July 20, 2006 09:53 AM

i think 'proportion' is relative to the threat faced, not necessarily the actions of the threatening organization. thus, comparing the number of rockets fired, civilian casualties, etc. is probably not the best way to meausre whether one side's response is disproportionate.

Posted by: rob at July 20, 2006 09:56 AM

I should have added that the weak flow to the closest one with strength.

Posted by: allan at July 20, 2006 09:56 AM

Proportionate response doesn't work if their first act is to kill you.

Because, you see, you're dead.

Posted by: TallDave at July 20, 2006 10:17 AM

Of course, beyond that practical consideration, proportional responses simply don't make sense. That's why when you break someone's nose and are found guilty of assault and battery, the judge generally doesn't sentence you to having your nose broken but sentences you to prison, where your ability to break the noses of other citizens will be severely limited.

Also, consider this: the true "proportional response" here would be for Israel to arm some groups which would kidnap Iranians and Syrians, and give them missiles which they would fire into Tehran and Damascus.

Posted by: TallDave at July 20, 2006 10:25 AM

I think this is one case where the metaphor of war as a knife-fight with a lunatic to protect your wife doesn't hold up so well.

The metaphor is also irrelevant. Disproportion is being measured not by what Israel is doing to the knife-wielding lunatic (Hezbollah), but by what it is doing to the guys in the apartment next door to the knife-wielding lunatic (non-Hezbollah Lebanese society).

Posted by: John-Paul Pagano at July 20, 2006 11:02 AM

I'd rather have Israel be Lebanon's policeman than Hezbollah be Israel's executioner.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at July 20, 2006 11:06 AM

Confrontation is old fashioned. There are other ways to defang an Iranian tiger.

Iran will lose bravado when demand for oil drops to 10% of today*s demands.

That will hurt B.C. and Alberta too, but what the hell..

http://TonyGuitar.blogspot.com

Many electric cars coming.. No gas to buy, no oil, no monoxide, no muffler, no noise, no transmission, no catalytic converter, no power train, no injectors, ignition timing, gas, water and oil pumps and filters. No radiators, no anti-freeze, and less to worry about. = TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at July 20, 2006 11:17 AM

TonyGuitar:

We still need petroleum for plastics and lubricants. Imagine a stay in a hospital in which nothing is made of plastic.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector at July 20, 2006 11:35 AM

It is pretty clear from the pro-proportionality commentators here that they don't care if Israel stops Hezbollah launching rockets. They seem to advocate that if Hezbollah kills a civilian, Israel should do the same, no more.

No such commentators here has offered any solution.

No such commentators want to see any solution.

No such commentators seem to recognise that a state has a duty to protect its citizens, not just avenge them after their death.

It is pretty clear on whose side the pro-proportionality commentators really are. Don't listen to their words, just watch the results. It's just socialist thinking all over again. Only the words count, never the actions and never the results.

Posted by: Berend de Boer at July 20, 2006 11:46 AM

There's clearly no solution to be found when the debate inevitably descends to clumsy, facile metaphors and moral absolutes. I have yet to hear the "if a cowboy with a knife-shooting gun and my invincible, but mentally retarded step-brother answers the door..." scripts that couldn't just as easily be flipped to apply to Palenstine. There is never, ever any aspect of heroism or moral rectitude accompanying killing innocents. No exceptions. I don't care how many knife-shooting cowboy stories you come up with.

Surely there must be solution to both disarming Hezbollah and getting Israel out of occupied territories that doesn't involve killing half of Lebanon.

Posted by: naha at July 20, 2006 12:11 PM

That was supposed to be:

"if a cowboy with a knife-shooting gun knocks, and my invincible, but mentally retarded step-brother answers the door..."

Posted by: naha at July 20, 2006 12:13 PM

I think, Naha, that if the Lebanese want Israel out of Lebanon, they've got to be prepared to control their own country. Sitting around in the Beirut coffeeshops and sending the kids to piano lessons, while certainly pleasant, didn't come close to doing that. Neither did protests nor "negotiation" with the Hezbollards.

If there is "never, ever any aspect of heroism or moral rectitude accompanying killing innocents," does that mean that we have to give France back to the Nazis? After all, innocents were killed -- in great numbers -- not only in the bombing of German cities, but in the Normandy invasions.

Me, I think a solution is for the IDF to seize southern Lebanon at least to the Litani, clear it out of Hezbollards, and then give it back to Lebanon if/when they finally get their act together (or, if they haven't, in a reasonable time, annex it; Israel shouldn't have the burden of occupying it for longer than, say, five years if the Lebanese can't figure out how to have a decent government).

But go ahead and proffer a better solution.

Just not, pace Djimmi Carter, a "Final Solution," okay?

Posted by: Joel Rosenberg at July 20, 2006 12:22 PM

I thought you all would get some mileage out of that. John Jenkins is right; I'm presenting an emotional argument and not a logical one, in this case. And frankly I can't manage yet to reconcile my emotional reaction to civilian deaths, my belief that soldiers need to behave honorably and that war is not psychotic violence but controlled violence for a purpose, and my logical awareness of Israel's perilous position.

Which is why I'm enlisting you folks to help me out. Heh, as they say.

I have a bit of Jewish in my ancestry. My great-grandfather bore the same name as one of the Israeli athletes slaughtered in Munich. And I have a Lebanese brother-in-law, and a beautiful little dark-haired neice. In the U.S., this sort of thing is probably not so uncommon.

One of the things you have to keep in mind when you go to war is that you'll have to live in the world left over after it ends. You want to be able to look your soldier sons and daughters in the eye and see their pride in what they did.

Does anyone remember Golda Meir, who once led Israel to war but who also said, about another war, after it was over Israel would be able to forgive the Arabs for killing its children, but the harder part would be forgiving the Arabs for having made the Israelis kill their children?

If you apply the concept of proportionality to Israel's war against Hezbollah, AND take into account Hezbollah's reality and stated goals, where do you get? Hezbollah vows to destroy Israel. I take them at their word. What equally terrific threat does Israel hold in response? Kill a lot of civilians in Beirut, or Tyre, or Damascus, or Tehran?

Do you think Hezbollah cares about that? They hide among Arab Muslims to fire missiles into cities where Arab Muslims are the majority.

Hitler welcomed the destruction of the German citis in the Allied air raids. He had planned to get rid of all that old bourgeois kultur crap anyhow so he could build his ugly socialist empire.

What would work? Here's an idea so ugly that I hesitate to even type it. What if Israel made it known that, should there be a serious and successful attack on it by WMD, clearly linked to Islamist terrorists, 36 hours warning would be given to the residents of Mecca to clear out, and then a radiological bomb would be exploded over it that would leave the place still standing but unapproachable for 1,000 years.

Is that cruel? Is that proportionate?

Posted by: Callimachus at July 20, 2006 01:15 PM

Calli,

You mistakenly assume the mullahs actually care what happens to Mecca. I doubt many of them even believe in Allah. They would drool over the possibility of such an attack, because it would rally Muslims to their cause.

Consider this instead: Israel bombs Iran's oilfields to smithereens. No more money for Hizbollah.

Posted by: TallDave at July 20, 2006 01:29 PM

To bad Arabs ain't embryos.

Israeli aggression on Lebanon

Gruesome pictures, not work friendly.

Posted by: yeah at July 20, 2006 01:43 PM

"Surely there must be solution to both disarming Hezbollah and getting Israel out of occupied territories that doesn't involve killing half of Lebanon."

For a start, try recognizing that one thing has nothing to do with the other. Disgusting.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 01:43 PM
For a start, try recognizing that one thing has nothing to do with the other. Disgusting.

Wait, are you joking? I mean, you may not believe them (I personally don't), but seriously...

Posted by: naha at July 20, 2006 02:03 PM

Exactly, Shmuel.

If Israel could get rid of Hezbollah, they would do it.

The destruction of the rest of Lebanon is an admission they can't.

It is just an act of impotent rage...

Posted by: monkyboy at July 20, 2006 02:06 PM

Proportionality is irrelevant if your enemy is willing to continue fighting until the destruction of the other.

If that is the case, and proportionality is the result, tit-for-tat attacks can occur indefinitely, making the potential loss of life infinite (although realistically, it wouldn't).

Posted by: nick at July 20, 2006 02:22 PM

And further, Schmuel, I'm not suggesting, "Oh, if Israel would just leave Lebanon then Hezbollah would go away and everything would be great." But rather, both of these things need to happen and it would be great to do it without killing half of Lebanon.

Posted by: naha at July 20, 2006 02:34 PM

Calli (I like Calli), I call such thoughts "pleasant nightmares". One of mine was worse: that Israel proclaims having nukes, nukes that can reach the capital cities of all NATO countries, and Moscow -- and the promise that if Israel suffers a nuke attack due to a failure of the "international community", Israel will counterstrike against: Moscow, London, Berlin, and Paris. As well as Mecca and Medina.

Such horrible thoughts are indeed dangerous, so I'll sign off as:

Posted by: Pleasant Nightmare at July 20, 2006 02:55 PM

Joel:

The problem with many of the various shades of "the Lebanese are getting what they deserve" arguments is that the idea of who the Lebanese in question are seems utterly false. Until about 2 months ago, I lived in Beirut (talk about timing) and most of the Lebanese I knew certainly could afford neither Beirut coffeeshops nor piano lessons. While I'm sure it cuts a cleaner image to imagine that Israel is punishing a privileged people who couldn't be bothered with Hezbollah because they were pursuing luxuries, this demographic is a tiny slice of the population (and they were probably kicking back at their chalets in the mountains by the time the airport was hit). The truth of the matter is that the majority of Lebanese (and especially the Lebanese in Southern Beirut...the most punished) are doing all they can to get by and feed their families.

Regarding heroism, morality, and the killing innocents....try using it in a complete sentence. "The artillery team heroically shelled the residential suburbs." "The rocket justly found its target right next to the hospital." I'm not denying that death of innocents is sometimes a necessary compromise to achieve an end, but there's nothing righteous in it.

Further, comparing Hezbollah to Nazis, as I believe you were, is absurd and obscene. If I'm mistaken and you were only making a broader point about justifying the killing of innocents, I apologize for my mistake.

And while we're theorizing about solutions, how about mine? You probably won't like it, as it isn't quite as manly as yours, but how about this...

Israel leaves occupied Lebanon (and for kicks lets throw in the settlements that are in violation of the 1968 UN treaty) and see if Hezbollah disarms as they have claimed they would all along under this condition. Why don't we start there? How do you justify finding fault with Hez'b for not following a UN resolution to disarm when Israel is violating an even older one? Can Hezbollah be trusted? Probably not. But you can't honestly believe that Israel risks destruction by taking the high road and giving up a tiny parcel of land (albeit one w/ a strategic vantage point and a water source) and a handful of villages? If Israel did this and Hezbollah still struck at them directly, they would still have the opportunity to unleash their unmitigated military fury (and likely without the UN or any Western power standing in their way).

Am I a hippy, or what?

I'd really rather not see Israel seize S. Lebanon. I've spoken with people who were prisoners at Khiam, and don't believe such an action would be carried out with either restraint or humanity. I mean, if you want to start throwing Nazi comparisons around...

Posted by: naha at July 20, 2006 03:04 PM

What existential wars have been fought following the principle of proportionality?

Posted by: seymourpaine at July 20, 2006 03:08 PM

Why, Nahe, would Hezbollah disarm now, since they haven't disarmed yet? What's in it for them? If the Israelis pull back, they will consider it a victory and press forward.

I don't know whether the Lebanese are getting what they deserve or not? I'm sure some are; some are just victims, of Hezbollah.

One thing Lebanon is guilty of is ignoring reality. How can you consider investing in buildings, shops, roads, tourism, when such monsters are living on your land? The idiocy of the Lebanese leadership is astounding.

I doubt that many of us will see a rebuilt Lebanon any sooner than a couple of decades from now, if then. Hezbollah harbors the fantasy of eliminating Israel, and I've no doubt a good part of Lebanon shares that fantasy as well.

The only thing Lebanon is a victim of is themselves. They exemplify Arab victimology.

Any retreat by Israel will be construed as a victory and will only embolden Hezbollah and its many supporters to press foward.

If the world had any fucking balls, they'd destroy Syrian and Iranian military capacity; instead phoney "principles" are trotted out in just one case only, Israel.

Posted by: seymourpaine at July 20, 2006 03:15 PM

Mr. Rosenberg wrote:

"Me, I think a solution is for the IDF to seize southern Lebanon at least to the Litani, clear it out of Hezbollards, and then give it back to Lebanon if/when they finally get their act together (or, if they haven't, in a reasonable time, annex it; Israel shouldn't have the burden of occupying it for longer than, say, five years if the Lebanese can't figure out how to have a decent government)."

While that's at face value, a simple enough solution, you seem to forget how unrealistic it is. Have you forgotten how the previous occupation of Southern Lebanon ended? What it caused? No occupier is usually welcome (even if said occupier is there for the right reasons). You'd end up creating MORE "resistance", legitimizing the likes of Hezbollah (lest we forget, they went from being an extremist small group, to being a "legitimized" resistance thanks to the Israeli occupation of South Lebanon for 20 years.

I hear what you're trying to get at. But i don't think your solution is feasable.

Posted by: Moderate Lebanese at July 20, 2006 03:23 PM

Naha, I've read some of your comments recently and you seem like a highly intelligent person, so I'm just curious. Give me one good reason why Israel should tolerate armed incursions from Lebanon, whether they come a member of the Lebanese government (Hizbullah) or anyone else there? What would you do if you were Ehud Olmert?I know this is a loaded question as it really is almost impossible to answer. I'll also answer the question I asked you since it's only fair. I'll tell you if I was Hizbullah I'd keep hiding behind civilians since doing anything otherwise would lead to certain death. If I was non-Hez Lebanese, I'd probably be calling for Israeli blood.

Any initial concerns I had were honestly washed away when it became obvious the kinds of deadly toys Hez has been acumulating since the Israeli withdrawl from S. Lebanon. The rights of Lebanese end where the rights of Israelis begin, and that Hezbollah chooses to base itself from within population centers doesn't mitigate this any. The latter does, however, make it more difficult for Israel to achieve victory for itself, and obviously does make it worse for folks who do not enable Hezbollah.

I don't know where this goes, how it ends, or what the ramifications for the future are. I really don't... But time will tell.

Posted by: Josh at July 20, 2006 04:30 PM

And by the way, a note to everyone. This is one of the few blogs covering the crisis right now that I'm scanning where the commentariat hasn't devolved within the last 24 hours or so into utter vileness. Sure, war is hell, emotions flare and some dumb things are said, but by and large the level of discourse here has remained high. Impressive.

Posted by: Josh at July 20, 2006 04:36 PM

I found mr. "Seymore Paine" (nice) above's comment to reflect nothing more than a simple double standard.

He speaks of "Arab victimology," yet one could easily point to "Israeli victimology."

Even in Israel middle of the road commentators who support the interevention state that average Lebanese are being victimized. To mock, and deny that they are the victims is the most callous and absurd denial. We've seen this kidn of denial before and it stinks no matter where it is coming from.

Lebanon is a proxy battlegound. We all know it. Israel has taken the one Moslem population on the planet with any affinity toward getting along and ended that affinity. Isreal has not lifted a finger to help the moderates in Lebanon because Sharon did not want to have a nieghboring state to negotiate with -- the culture of adversity fitted his taste for violence and his politcal model.

The rationals for the overwhemingly disproportionate response here would tongue twist the most articulate of Orwell's characters.

It is oen thing to say this is terrible but we have to do it to protect ourselves. It is another to blame the innocents being slaughtered by Israeli arms. Is there someone here legitimately claiming 90% of the dead are not innocents? (not anyone with any facts.)

Posted by: Tom at July 20, 2006 04:41 PM

Ephraim, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

You should ask yourself this question: What's important here, the act of self-defense or the results of that act?

You speak of self-defense, fine; however a little analysis of the cases of self-defense that you presented show that the results of such act will not create more security.

Hezbollah has assets in South Lebanon, Beirut Southern Suburb and Baalbeck.

Assuming that the IDF performs only air strikes at all those locations, this will not be enough to destroy Hezbollah, a wounded Hezbollah will prevail and strike back, does Israel want that?

Assuming that the IDF invades South Lebanon and air strikes South Beirut and Baalbeck, this will keep Hezbollah able and ready to strike back.

Assuming that the IDF invades Lebanon all the way to South Beirut, that leaves Baalbeck again and subjects Israel to a risk of war with Syria, does Israel want that?

Finally, assuming that Israel wants to invade Baalbeck, this means a direct war with Syria, again does Israel want that?

And you can give a rest to the right of Israel for self-defense, I haven't even denied this issue in this thread; I am just debating the results of various "self-defense" scenarios on the security of Israel and how strong the security of Israel will be before and after such scenarios.

Posted by Lira at June 22, 2006 02:31 PM

Posted by: Lira at July 20, 2006 05:49 PM

Tom: "The rationals for the overwhemingly disproportionate response here would tongue twist the most articulate of Orwell's characters."

I've been reading that the count is 1600+ rockets fired into Israel since this thing got started. My guess is that for Hezbollah, it surely is not on account of not trying that the casualties have been one-sided so far.

Supposably Iran & Syria have spent the last 6 years supplying an arsenal of 12,000 rockets and missiles to Lebanon. The question that comes to me is what's all that hardware for? If its all for defence against Israel, why haven't they built bomb shelters too, like the Israelis have, in order to hide Lebanese civilians, like the Israelis have for their own citizens?

And why are so many of these warheads packed with ball bearings, which have no military purpose? Is it some kind of secret what Hezbollah wants to achieve?

I feel nothing but sorry for the Lebanese who wanted no part of this fight. But what advantage is there for Israel waiting for Hezbollah to build up a force of, say, 24,000 rockets, and better missiles like the turbojet c802 that hit the Israeli warship a few days back? The stronger Hezbollah is allowed to get, the crappier the future for Israel, and anyone else in the Middle East who doesn't want to be ruled from Tehran.

I can understand why Lebanese are mad as hornets with Israelis. Some guy who gets his apartment building & family blown apart by an Israeli jet in South Beirut will probably want revenge, and couldn't care less about the politics.

Tom: "It is oen thing to say this is terrible but we have to do it to protect ourselves. It is another to blame the innocents being slaughtered by Israeli arms. Is there someone here legitimately claiming 90% of the dead are not innocents?"

The claim is that Hezbollah hide their weapons, ammo & so forth in mosques, civilian homes, whatever. I read these accounts of Hezbollah blocking fleeing civilians from getting out of Southern Lebanon towns - - presumably for whatever advantage there is for having civilians around in this fight. The dirtiest end of the stick is being handed to these folks, whatever their sympathies are. Hezbollah gets praised for building hospitals, schools, and so on, but even Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler, etc., did these things. Even the American KKK has educational and charitable actions. The distance between Hezbollah's intentions and goals and these other steller forces of history is probably not measurable.

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 20, 2006 09:00 PM

"Surely there must be solution to both disarming Hezbollah and getting Israel out of occupied territories that doesn't involve killing half of Lebanon."

Naha,

The occupation of the West Bank has nothing to do with Lebanon (and by extension the conflict with Hezbollah). And Israel is not occupying any part of Lebanon, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 20, 2006 09:28 PM

Berend de Boer is correct and despondent..
**=====
No such commentators here has offered any solution.

No such commentators want to see any solution.

No such commentators seem to recognise that a state has a duty to protect its citizens, not just avenge them after their death.

It is pretty clear on whose side the pro-proportionality commentators really are. Don't listen to their words, just watch the results. It's just socialist thinking all over again. Only the words count, never the actions and never the results.
Posted by Berend de Boer at July 20, 2006 11:46 AM
**====

245 marines were killed in their lebanon barracks and France and the US just backed away in 1982. [my memory is fuzzy but...]

Mistake!

There should have been a total and powerful correction then. So much for Proportional response.

Solving problems in the bud when they first show up is the only way to go.

Look at all the misery and lives lost since 1982 and today the problem is much larger and more complex.

The problem are orders to Hezbollah from Tehran. The target should be Tehran, not Lebanon.

Messy? yes. Correct? yes. = TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at July 20, 2006 09:32 PM
Schmuel:
The occupation of the West Bank has nothing to do with Lebanon (and by extension the conflict with Hezbollah).
Rather than be a smartass and say, "Hmm, Lebanon has 400,000 palestinians spread across 12 refugee camps. Wherever did they come from?", I will instead say this:

As long as extremist Muslim groups everywhere (like Hezbollah) can hold Israel's treatment of the Palestinian issue (and the rest of the world's complacence) aloft as an icon of injustice (regardless of whether you think Israel's treatment is unjust or not), it will always have "something to do" with those groups and the countries they operate in (like Lebanon). Even if you can stand there and say with a straight face, "Israel has a right to their illegal settlements.", it is still an issue.

And Israel is not occupying any part of Lebanon, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

I am guessing that what you might actually saying is "Chebaa Farms is part of Southern Syria, not Lebanon." If my guess is correct, in any case it's not Israel's and you do indeed know what I'm talking about.

Posted by: naha at July 21, 2006 05:49 AM
Josh:
Naha, I've read some of your comments recently and you seem like a highly intelligent person, so I'm just curious. Give me one good reason why Israel should tolerate armed incursions from Lebanon, whether they come a member of the Lebanese government (Hizbullah) or anyone else there? What would you do if you were Ehud Olmert?

First let me say empahtically that Israel has every right to be there and it is a right they have to defend with everything they've got. They absolutely have to draw a proverbial line in the sand, but they haven't been drawing that line in the right place for a long time.

(I've been criticized in other posts for drawing Palestine into this, but I personally don't see any harm in trying to talk about a global, long-term solution for peace in the region.)

In broad strokes, Israel is sitting on a lot of land that isn't theirs and consequently they are frequently victims of violent attacks, be they terrorist or military (or maybe there's no distinction). If I were Israel, I might try to start taking the high road and following the rules, rather than deciding how much bombing is "proportionate response".

I know that the common response to this perhaps overly optimistic view of the situation is, "Well, if Israel does that then Hezbollah, Hamas, et al will know that their nefarious methods are successful and go even further." That's possible, but Israel has the wealth, power, and influence to take the gamble (and take the gamble with the UN and the Western world behind them). It doesn't seem like any other way has been working out very well for anybody.

What can I say, I'm a just a peace-loving hippy.

Posted by: naha at July 21, 2006 06:08 AM

In broad strokes, Israel is sitting on a lot of land that isn't theirs...

I'm sorry, this is nonsense, and it is the root of the problem.

Israel sits on land it has defended by force of arms from everyone who would take it away from them.

That is the same basis for every other nations' claim to the territory they control: no one who wants the land can take it from them.

Sorry, but the land is Israel's. If you disagree, you can take it up with the IDF.

Posted by: rosignol at July 21, 2006 08:06 AM

Callimachus please explain how Israel defense is diferent of Europe/NATO attack in Serbia? Note that European/NATO countries werent being attacked.

Posted by: lucklucky at July 21, 2006 09:23 AM

Rosignol, just so I understand...

You are saying occupied Lebanon and occupied Palestine belong to Israel by virtue of the fact that they are rich and powerful enough to take it away from those it formerly belonged to?

If that is indeed what you're saying, I'd say that is the root of the problem. I'd say people are "taking it up the IDF" as we speak. Does that make you happy?

Posted by: naha at July 21, 2006 09:57 AM

The correct comparison would be:
"If someone comes for my wife and kids, I will spread machinegun fire all over his neighbourhood, and for good measure I will also bomb the police who should have arrested the guy in the first place..."

You yanks have got some impressive constitutional rights, alright!

Posted by: Rasmus Sonderriis at July 21, 2006 10:00 AM

"As long as extremist Muslim groups everywhere (like Hezbollah) can hold Israel's treatment of the Palestinian issue...it is still an issue."

Yes, for extremist terrorists, but not normal people.

"I am guessing that what you might actually saying is "Chebaa Farms is part of Southern Syria, not Lebanon."

Last I checked Israel won that land from Syria in a defensive war and more importantly Syria is not part of Lebanon.

Judging from your comments in general Naha, it's not clear to me that you think Lebanon is even a country. You are approaching these issues as an Islamist or Arab nationalist might. Therefore, I can't really take your point of view seriously as I have no respect for it. Nice talking to you.

Posted by: Shmuel at July 21, 2006 01:18 PM
Schmuel...
Yes, for extremist terrorists, but not normal people.
As someone who both lived in NYC during the Sept. 11 attacks and who until about 2 months ago lived in Beirut, I can say with absolute certainty that issues that affect extremists and terrorists also affect "normal people."
You are approaching these issues as an Islamist or Arab nationalist might. Therefore, I can't really take your point of view seriously as I have no respect for it.
I can't really see what I've said, other than possibly disagreeing with your sense of manifest destiny, would lead you to believe this. I haven't said anything in any of my comments that doesn't support a solution whereby all parties can inhabit the region peacefully. I am sorry if the idea bothers you to the point that you refuse further debate. Posted by: naha at July 21, 2006 03:53 PM

"As someone who both lived in NYC during the Sept. 11 attacks and who until about 2 months ago lived in Beirut, I can say with absolute certainty that issues that affect extremists and terrorists also affect "normal people.""

So you think one of the best ways to prevent future attacks in the USA is for Israel to adopt policies more agreeable to religous extremists? (Everything is part of the same "ball of wax".) Seriously, your point of view simply disgusts me. We have utterly no common ground. You might as well be arguing in favor of legalizing child pornography. Debate would be pointless. Goodbye. (I mean it this time.)

Posted by: Shmuel at July 21, 2006 05:25 PM

Sometimes it seems that you who are on opposite sides of the problem may be too close to see the larger picture.

To me in Canada, it seems that Iran and other cleric run fiefdoms have a morbid fear of fair and democratic governments that may dilute their iron fisted power.

Seems to me that this fight to contain fair and free government from growing beyond Israel*s borders is fought on the backs of ordinary Lebanon people from their roof tops and living rooms.

Spare Lebanon, Hit the head of Hezbollah in Tehran. Nasrallah is just a decoy. = TG

Posted by: TonyGuitar at July 21, 2006 08:08 PM

Question: Doesn't any argument for 'proportionality,' whether on 'legal' grounds or 'moral' grounds, have as its prerequisite a shared 'Authority' ? If you come to the table with an "authoritative" military force superior to all others, don't you get to define the legal definition ? If you incarnate spiritual authority to all of the parties, don't you get to define the moral definition ? Or is 'proportionality,' eschatological-- where the Victor gets to define it ?

Reflection: I weary of the argument. . . each answer seems reducible to how much power one wields, or, in effect, how fortunate one is in the contest for power-- a prerequisite, which somehow, does not seem proportional.

Posted by: Teague at July 24, 2006 04:54 PM

Rosignol, just so I understand...

You are saying occupied Lebanon and occupied Palestine belong to Israel by virtue of the fact that they are rich and powerful enough to take it away from those it formerly belonged to?

Pretty much.

Historically, conquest is how pretty much every country came to control it's current territory. If Israel's claim to it's territory is void because of that, everyone's claims are.

If that is indeed what you're saying, I'd say that is the root of the problem.

If so, you are also saying that every other nation on earth has the exact same problem- including whichever one you are in now. It's not a matter of right or wrong, it's simply how things have been done, all the way back to the year dot.

I'd say people are "taking it up the IDF" as we speak. Does that make you happy?

No. Hizbullah has no chance of winning the current engagement.

Getting civilian noncombatants killed in pursuit of an unattainable objective is not something that makes me happy. Unfortunately, that kind of thing seems to be standard procedure in the middle east.

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