July 20, 2006

What the World Needs Now

By Callimachus:

Tom Friedman, walled up like a Poe character behind the NYT's Internet subscription jealousies, has thoughts on what Lebanon needs:
Even though it had members in the national cabinet, Hezbollah built up a state-within-a state in Lebanon, and then insisted on the right to launch its own attack on Israel that exposed the entire Lebanese nation to retaliation. Moreover, unprovoked, it violated an international border with Israel that was sanctified by the United Nations.

So this is not just another Arab-Israeli war. It is about some of the most basic foundations of the international order — borders and sovereignty — and the erosion of those foundations would spell disaster for the quality of life all across the globe.

Lebanon, alas, has not been able to produce the internal coherence to control Hezbollah, and is not likely to soon. The only way this war is going to come to some stable conclusion anytime soon is if The World of Order — and I don't just mean "the West," but countries like Russia, China, India, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia too — puts together an international force that can escort the Lebanese army to the Israeli border and remain on hand to protect it against Hezbollah.

I am not talking about a U.N. peacekeeping force. I am talking about an international force, like the one that liberated Kosovo, with robust rules of engagement, heavy weapons and troops from countries like France, Russia, India and China that Iran and its proxies will not want to fight.

Israel does not like international forces on its borders and worries they will not be effective. But it will be better than a war of attrition, and nothing would set back the forces of disorder in Lebanon more than The World of Order helping to extend the power of the democratically elected Lebanese government to its border with Israel.

Posted by Callimachus at July 20, 2006 07:23 PM
Comments

Ah, but isn't this exactly what many Israelis and some Americans are, by implication, asking of the Lebanese? That they look on their dead and their destroyed neighborhoods and say, "We don't blame the Israelis. No one here would call them killers. They are only defending themselves."

And I don't doubt that the killing of Arabs by Hezbollah WAS an accident--if only in that they didn't know that a rocket attack on Nazareth would likely kill their ethnic and religous kin. (I could have told them that, but they didn't ask me...)

Posted by: Jeff at July 20, 2006 07:51 PM

By the way, before anyone starts to sound off about how Israel is carefully targeting only military assets, the online Washington Post is now saying that much of the southern suburbs of Beirut have been destroyed. And featuring pictures of some apartment buildings that remind me mightily of the "careful targeting" that resulted in the destruction of large swathes of Beirut in 1982.

Well, we'll see. Hezbollah is not a bunch of sweethearts, but they are not the poorly led and and ill-motivated lot that Israel has usually faced in its wars. Israel will have its hands full over the next few days, the bombings won't do much of anything to "clear out" Hezbollah and they will have to send troops in in a major way.

And that's as it should be. Sad that soldiers have to die, but that's war. Vague swats with massive firepower at ambiguous targets of low military value and with many civilian casualties attached is not. It's neither effective nor moral.

Posted by: Jeff at July 20, 2006 08:11 PM

I think Tom Friedman is not that far off from what's gearing up to happen here.

It seems to be the only way out of this mess for everyone:
1. Israel invades the 20 mile buffer zone we keep hearing about.
2. The US finally joins the calls for a cease-fire.
3. The international community brokers an agreement whereby some international force takes over said buffer zone, thus allowing Israel to withdraw quickly and not suffer another 18 years of attrition.
4. The Lebanese Army gets built up over the next 5 years, with US help, to where it can finally take over in the South from the International Force.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 20, 2006 08:19 PM

Actually Israel has beaten the best armies that the Mideast has to offer. Most of them twice in fact.
The idea that war can be clean and should only involve soldiers is a fairly recent invention and can really only be applied to small localized war in which one country normally has such an overwhelming force that they don't feel they have to take out the civilian infrastructure.
The reality is the civilian populace is the power behind every army. They are the ones who provide the weapons, equipment, fuel and personnel an army needs to survive.
Take a look at Europe and Britain during WWII that is pretty much an object lesson and description of countries fighting in full scale warfare.
It is only some of the Western European and North American countries who have decided that they will attempt to fight so called "civilized" warfare.
In the end this PC warfare may be the death of all of us. We have heard repeatedly from the Jihadists that we are weak and afraid to take casualties. They know that we are also afraid to cause casualties. Political Correctness has emboldened our enemies. Enemies who have no rules except victory.
On the positive side when the barbarians tuck us into our graves as they did Rome, we will at least be able to say that we died as nicely as possible.

Posted by: Ted at July 20, 2006 08:58 PM

jeff: "Sad that soldiers have to die, but that's war. Vague swats with massive firepower at ambiguous targets of low military value and with many civilian casualties attached is not. It's neither effective nor moral"

What does a "moral" war look like?

Posted by: Johnny Eck at July 20, 2006 09:10 PM

What country is ACTUALLY going to stick their boys in the middle of this? Friedman's dreaming. I'll believe it when I see it...

Posted by: Josh at July 20, 2006 09:38 PM

The idea that there is a proper way to fight wars is a thousand-plus-year-old heritage of Western Civilization, not "political correctness." The idea that soldiers kill soldiers, not women and children, is hardly the invention of George McGovern. These principles were given classical formulation by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and have been renewed and restated repeatedly ever since. They weren't always followed, but no one claimed that armies who raped and sacked cities were behaving morally. There are ways that civilized people fight wars and ways they don't fight them.

The idea that massive bombing of population centers is a normal part of war is what is a recent invention. And those who invented it, like Curis LeMay, suggested that there would be excellent reason for them to be prosecuted as war criminals if the US lost the war.

You can say that cities should be flattened and millions killed if somebody kidnaps a soldier or two or chucks a few Katyushas at you. But when two US soldiers were kidnapped and tortured to death in Iraq recently, we just...soldiered on. There was no massive retaliation against civilian populations centers.

That's just how we should behave! Such brutality is a relic of the past and thank God for it. We won't let Israel act that way; Bush won't let them any more than the Europeans. And if we HAD killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in retaliation, it wouldn't have done a darned thing to make our soldiers safer. As I granted before, genocide WOULD do the trick. If the Soviets kill two of four million Kazakhs, the Kazakhs calm down.

Nor do the Israelis act in barbarian fashion, most of the time. Despite wrong-headed criticism, the Battle of Jenin a few years ago was very carefully and humanely done. Not so, the Battle of Beirut in '82.

And, Ted, "the best armies of the middle east?" That's not saying much, is it? The Egyptians and the Syrians have improved quite a bit since Israeli independence, but it's absurd to suggest that they are anything like eqivalent in quality to the Israeli army is absurd. The only army Israel ever fought that was roughly a match for it in leadership, skill and esprit de corps was the old Glubb Arab Legion of Transjordan in 48 and that was the origin of the West Bank. The Syrians and Egyptians may have been "better" than Tunisia or Saudi Arabia at the time of the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars, but that's not saying much. Had the Egyptians and Syrians known how to exploit their breakthroughs in Yom Kippur, they would have won the war.

Hezbollah is too small and too ill-equipped to beat Israel, but too tough and too well-supported to get beaten by Israel. They fight in place with courage and conviction and intelligence as the Israelis learned when they first encountered them near Beirut in 1982. They are vicious religious fanatics, but they are a formidable group indeed.

Just for the record, I am a supporter of the war on terror, I supported the war in Vietnam, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama, Libya, Afghanistan and I have been and continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq. And I am a supporter of capital punishment, though someone in an earlier thread "supposed" that I wasn't. Despite what some might say, those things don't make me a barbarian.

I agree that it's worth fighting to stop your civilization from being taken over by barbarians. From the outside or the inside. And those who endorse Total War and the lack of any distinction between civilians and soldiers are just barbarians masquerading as pragmatists.

Posted by: Jeff at July 20, 2006 09:57 PM

Maybe the Iraqi army could do the job.

They don't seem to be doing anything at the moment...

Posted by: monkyboy at July 20, 2006 10:03 PM

"The World of Order"-not gonna happen.

If I were Israeli I would make sure that at least 15-20 miles north of the border ends as a kill-only zone. Level the buildings, salt the fields and fill the sewer's with concrete (maybe use the rubble in the mix).

If you make sure that everyone in Lebanon understands that their problems are going to remain their problems, no matter how bad they are, they will not become your problems. This is mean, but I think that the worst mistake anyone in the west (or israel) could make would be to deal with the present powers of the M.E. on their level.

Posted by: mike at July 20, 2006 10:03 PM

I am not talking about a U.N. peacekeeping force. I am talking about an international force, like the one that liberated Kosovo, ...

Ah. So it's up to the Americans to solve other people's problems, with token assistance from everyone else.

Again.

Tom Friedman has a rare gift- he sees the problem clearly, but fails to understand that what he thinks will solve the problem won't.

Posted by: rosignol at July 20, 2006 10:16 PM

Russia, China, India, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia

The NY Times hides these guys behind the wall so they won't embarrass themselves in public. Last time Friedman had a great idea was when he broke the Saudi peace proposal to the world and modestly claimed credit for putting the idea to Prince Abdallah. And Kosovo? How is that like Lebanon and Israel? Which country does Tom want us to bomb? Which ruler should we depose? Who is the bad guy? And it is not like Kosovo is settled seven years later.

True, a war of attrition is something Israel needs to avoid and they certainly have a difficult and tricky campaign ahead of them, but I don't think it likely that the listed countries would be willing to deal. China? You're joking, China wants to cozy up to the oil producers, France wants to regain influence in the region and would bargain with the devil to get it, and Russia is still playing cold war games and would likely undercut Israel to advance their own interests.

Maybe someday the tooth fairy really will leave a quarter under Tom's pillow. Until then he just keeps hoping, wandering the streets and muttering empty phrases to the world. The rest of us avert our eyes and hurry onward.

Posted by: chuck at July 20, 2006 10:50 PM

Can't argue with Josh there:

What country is ACTUALLY going to stick their boys in the middle of this? Friedman's dreaming. I'll believe it when I see it...

Exactamundo.

When looking to see which countries would deploy forces, its not an issue of power or military capability. Its about the issue of willingness.

Israel itself has huge reservations about deploying their military to Lebanon. I'm not talking about worrying about the diplomatic and media backlash. Israel knows that militarily, you don't go into a region where you will be required to engage in urban guerilla warfare against desperate religious fanatics.

It took Israel 6 years since it's withdrawal from Lebanon to realise Hezbollah were only escalating and arming themselves for a future conflict. Hezbollah are well aware of Israel's reluctance to enter Lebanon and exploited it for a long time.

Posted by: Jono at July 20, 2006 11:17 PM

What so many fail to see is that this war is not about retaliation for two soldiers. Israeli soldiers have been killed and kidnapped by Hezbollah in the past, and Israel did essentially nothing. This is about getting rid of an existential threat developing on Israel's northern border, and confronting Iranian expansion and militancy.

It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots between Hezbollah and Iran, which is developing nuclear weapons, while explicitly calling for Israel's destruction. Also, the extent of Hezbollah's defenses in southern Lebanon, which is now coming to light, and looks like the Atlantic Wall, shows the Hezbollah's sole raison d'etre is war with Israel.

It's not just Israel's problem either, it's the world's, which is why the Arab league has been able to put aside their reflexive anti-Israel stance long enough to place the blame where it belongs.

I believe that history will show this war to be a crucial turning point. If Israel is unable to end this threat, then all of us who live here should start thinking about buying a one way ticket to somewhere else, because Israel's future has just gotten a question mark.

Posted by: MarkC at July 20, 2006 11:56 PM

By the way, I agree, an international force has no chance. One truck bomb, like against the Americans in 1983, and they'll all be on the next plane home. Not that I have any other ideas.

Posted by: MarkC at July 21, 2006 12:03 AM

So Israel and America are countering Iranian "expansion" by invading and occupying 2 countries each?

How many countries has "expansionist" Iran invaded lately?

Posted by: monkyboy at July 21, 2006 12:03 AM

I too would like to see what is described above come to happen.

However, in a thread below this one I stated that all the "positive" plans (that is, not just saying "I don't like it") are untenable.

Those countries are not going to do that.

First I doubt Lebanon will do so. One thing I take from Totten's writings and others is that the Lebonese just don't have the will (coupled with insufficient power). Too often he wrote about people not wanting another civil war - what is described is civil war. That isn't can not do it, that is will not do it. I can empathise with that and given their history I might even think the same thing. No way to know unless I were to be put in that situation. So don't take this as condemnation. However I do believe that if the war is done for them they do have the will to pick up and become a prosperous nation.

Even should they be willing to do it how many countries would agree? The US probably would, but then with Iraq and Afghanastan who knows (I would support it - I think it falls into "the right thing to do", but I don't know if we could handle another theater - I trust the current military leaders to know)? Same with Britain and our current allies. Canada would go I think, possibly another European country or two (Spain? France? Italy? Germany? Some I think are too anti-war in general, some this may fly) but I would say that's it. China will never do so unles thier political power has some type of major shift (I doubt they will even get much involved with North Korea, let alone Lebanon. Unless it is a direct threat I suspect they will just watch) and Russia doesn't have the money to make an impact. After that you don't have much other than "support" - they just don't have the resources (money, men, and equipment) to be much more than moral support. (and don't take that to mean that's worthless - some of the greatest stories of heroism in combat, sacrafice, and it's subsequent help on moral have come from some really small countries in the WOT. It's great as a support to the hammer, but can't function as a projection of force).

Even assuming that you got them all together, too often these groups do not have the will to kill when needed and simply try and force a cease fire. They tend to protect the agressive side.

But, as I said, I would love to see an international force support the Lebonese army in rooting out Hizbolla to Israels border. Unlike the final comment in the article I rather suspect that Israel would love that too (does any one raelly think they would oppose any solution that rid the world of Hizbolla and left a friend in their place?). Just that they have seen these international forces fail miserably and used as shields for groups like Hizbolla to fire rocket/missles at them with impunity. Plus I suspect they have about the same analysis as I do (though much more detailed).

Posted by: strcpy at July 21, 2006 12:12 AM

As usual, Friedman has the right idea. As has already been pointed out though, his right ideas have a funny way of being completely unrealistic. Maybe I'm wrong. I sincerely hope I am. All I know is that the peacekeeping force he has in mind needs to be constructed with as many non-American soldiers as possible. The last thing we need is another 10000 sitting ducks upwind of Iran to further weaken our hand with Ahmadinejad. If you gave me a choice between an all-American peacekeeping force and no peacekeeping force at all, I'd opt for the latter. It's not Israel's job to fix Lebanon, but neither is it exclusively ours either. Looking on the bright side, this might be just the excuse needed to enlarge NATO (which has been a long time coming).

Posted by: Grant McEntire at July 21, 2006 12:51 AM

The US, and Pres. Bush, needs to be shaming the NATO countries about manpower for occupation/ nation building. The world needs a World Cop; it must be composed exclusively of military from democracies.

The world needs a Human Rights Enforcement Group, ready to use military force against non-democracies (only?). Reasonable good bet now? India provides bodies, the US supplies, equips, trains, and supports them, along with other NATO countries.

The goal -- Peace in Lebanon, not a ceasefire, with the imposition of toleration for Free Speech and Free Religion. Meaning a police force that does not tolerate physical intimidation by Hezbollah or other terrorists.

Perhaps it also time to review the "presumption of innocence" -- many so-called civilians being killed are merely terrorists without their guns.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 21, 2006 02:03 AM

Monkeyboy;

I meant that Iran is seeking to expand its influence in the region, and export its Islamic revolution, which has thus far been a flop outside of Iran. Thanks for the helpful comment, though.

Posted by: MarkC at July 21, 2006 02:42 AM

Sounds better, Mark.

Fighting proxies can be a tricky thing, though.

I view Iran (and North Korea) as nothing more than China's proxy.

I think the whole Islamic thingy is just to distract the world while China buys it up.

Posted by: monkyboy at July 21, 2006 03:06 AM

This is a rather naive sentiment by Tom Friedman. Kosovo was hardly an internationally unified moment. NATO acted alone. When the Russians came to at Pristina airport things could have devolved into WWIII, and likely would have if Russia forces hadn't been absolutely dilapidated. Now he thinks the former Warsaw Pact and some OPEC can team up together and everything will turn out swell? Is this intended to be satirical?

Posted by: Liz at July 21, 2006 04:14 AM

I am not talking about a U.N. peacekeeping force. I am talking about an international force, like the one that liberated Kosovo, with robust rules of engagement, heavy weapons and troops from countries like France, Russia, India and China that Iran and its proxies will not want to fight.

Okay, is this international force going to have a more or less robust set of "rules of engagement" than Israel? Will this force's heavy weapons and troops be better than Israel's? If Hezbullah hides amongst civilians, will this international force be willing to kill civilians to get to Hezbullah?

Also, Hezbullah has declared they will not back down from anyone at this pount, so sending in international forces just gives Hezbullah more people to shoot at.

Not only is Friedman dreaming, he's not even paying attention to what's actually happening.

Posted by: Whomever at July 21, 2006 04:34 AM

The US, and Pres. Bush, needs to be shaming the NATO countries about manpower for occupation/ nation building. The world needs a World Cop; it must be composed exclusively of military from democracies.

That's just not going to happen.

The NATO countries- most of them, anyway- have baggage left over from the colonial era that makes deploying troops overseas and engaging in nation-building politically impossible.

The US has baggage from '83- the political will to send Marines back to Beirut is not there.

The world needs a Human Rights Enforcement Group, ready to use military force against non-democracies (only?). Reasonable good bet now? India provides bodies, the US supplies, equips, trains, and supports them, along with other NATO countries.

That will not happen, because it is a stupendously horrible awful bad idea.

While there are a lot of nasty little dictatorships out there, there are also some Nuclear Powers who have pretty miserable records where human rights are concerned. You know, nations like Russia, China, Pakistan...

The pragmatic approach of picking on those nasty little dictatorships while leaving the nuclear powers alone would just create a huge incentive to become a nuclear power.

What kind of world would you rather live in? One with rampant nuclear proliferation or one with some nasty little dictatorships that don't respect human rights?

It's not a good/bad kind of choice, it's a bad/worse kind of choice.

The goal -- Peace in Lebanon, not a ceasefire, with the imposition of toleration for Free Speech and Free Religion. Meaning a police force that does not tolerate physical intimidation by Hezbollah or other terrorists.

Again, not going to happen.

You're right that what needs to be established is rule of law- governments must be accountable for what happens inside their borders, and it is not acceptable for a group to commit an act of war and for the host government to shrug and say "we're not going to do anything about this". That is precisely what got Afghanistan invaded.

However, the basic problem is that terrorists are not common criminals who merely seek profit. They are an armed ideological movement, and what you need to deal with that kind of thing is not police, but soldiers.

Once the soldiers have wiped out those who prefer violence over the political process, the police can step in- but sending police to do soldier's work results in nothing but dead police.

In the long term, this may work out to Lebanon's benefit, because it looks like the IDF is going to do what lots of people in Lebanon wanted to happen- the disarming of Hizbullah.

Perhaps it also time to review the "presumption of innocence" -- many so-called civilians being killed are merely terrorists without their guns.

How do you distinguish between terrorists-without-guns and genuine noncombatants?

If we had a good way to determine that, Iraq would be done already.

Posted by: rosignol at July 21, 2006 05:07 AM

Actually I didn't say that cities should be flattened and millions killed for a couple of soldiers and a few katuyushas. But if it was London instead of Haifa, Chicago instead of Haifa, Moscow instead of Haifa, in fact any other country instead of Isreal this would have already been escalated into a major confrontation.
Philosophers aside, show me examples in wars were civilians weren't killed by the thousands, taken as slaves or forced into running.
Show me the country who has willing lost a war to save their enemies civilian population? There have been specific battles in which for the most part civilian populations have been spared, but show me the war were thats been the case.
Israel has warned the Lebanese before they attacked. This is more then most countries have ever done. If you are neither in Hezbollah or supporting their fighters then you should have left the area when you were warned.
Also Hezbollah has nothing on Israel, the only thing that will stop them from wiping out that organization is politics. Politics which say that the only country that is not allowed to fully defend itself is Israel. We heard the same sort of talk during the first Gulf War. The Iraqi's were just to tough for the Coalition Forces. We heard it again in the second war. Both of which were stunning, fast victories.
The only thing that will slow Israel down is Politics.
The same sort of politics that has ignored the rape and murder of 100's of thousands of Christians and Animists in the Sudan by Jihad.
The same sort of politics which screams about the deaths of 300 civilians in Lebanon also ignores the murder of hundreds of non Muslims in Indonesia, to include beheading young Christian girls just for being Christian. This is just the top of the issue, we haven't even hit places such as Somalia, Nigeria and the Philippines.
By the way Jeff, what were the odds that Israel fought against in each of their wars (including Armor)? They fought and defeated multiple armies on multiple fronts in each major war.
In the end politics will probably stop Israel in Lebanon. Hezbollah will build back up with newer nastier weapons because of Politics. Iran will probably get the bomb because of Politics. Iran will probably use the bomb and 100's of thousands of Israel's or American's civilians will die because of Politics.

Posted by: Ted at July 21, 2006 05:10 AM

The world loves nothing more than Israel in a war of attrition.

How else does one explain the last 60 years?

Posted by: Shmuel at July 21, 2006 05:49 AM

"You can say that cities should be flattened and millions killed if somebody kidnaps a soldier or two or chucks a few Katyushas at you. Such brutality is a relic of the past and thank God for it. And those who endorse Total War and the lack of any distinction between civilians and soldiers are just barbarians masquerading as pragmatists."

Your approach -- partial, limited war that attempts to minimize or avoid civilian casualties -- is what creates horrors like Vietnam, in which over 50,000 Americans died for absolutely nothing, and nightmares such as Iraq where thousands more Americans are dying with little prospect for victory. THAT is barbaric.

Furthermore, you are dropping context and arguing with a straw man. The issue here is clearly more that a kidnapped soldier and a "few" rockets. It is the existence of an axis of jihad -- the Hizbulloh/Hamas/Syria/Iran axis -- who has promised to destroy America and Israel -- and who is working feverishly to acquire/develop the weapons to make good on that threat.

It is the height of folly to think that fanatics like these jihadists can be fought without targeting the civilians that support them. Jihadists do not have day jobs -- the jihad is not some privately financed operation that purchases thousands of rockets, launchers, anti-ship missiles, rifles, ammo, ect from their weekly paychecks. They are supported by civilian populations who -- willingly or otherwise -- provide the production and funds needed to finance the jihad. Until and unless that support is destroyed or otherwise cut-off, the jihad will continue.

You want proof? Just look at what has happened since 1979. A relentless series of murderous attacks spanning the globe. Tens of thousands have died at the hands of Islamic jihadists. Did partial, limited war put an end to the jihad in Afghanistan? No, it continues today. Has partial, limited war put an end to the jihad in Iraq? No, our soldiers are still dying today. Can you name a single case in which partial, limited war destroyed a threat to freedom like the one posed by the axis of jihad? No.

Look at Israel's history. In war after war they defeated the Arab armies -- only to watch the Arab populations rearm and attack again. The world has insisted that Israel fight only partial, limited wars -- and this has done nothing but drag out the inevitable and cause more death, suffering and destruction.

Eventually, the choice will be to inflict mass death over there -- on Iran, thereby cutting out the heart and chief financial resource of the axis of jihad -- or suffer mass death -- something that will make 9/11 look trivial -- over here (or in Israel). I know which choice I prefer.

When a mushroom cloud appears over Tel Aviv or Manhattan, it will have happened because thinking like yours prevailed. It will be YOU and your fellow-traveler pacifists that enabled the most horrific barbarism imaginable.

The moral point is clear: In any conflict between a free nation and an enemy that seeks to destroy freedom and establish a totalitarian dictatorship, the moral responsibility for all civilian casualties rests squarely and solely with the totalitarians. It is they, and they alone, who make this war necessary, and every last man, woman and child that dies is their fault.

In WWII it was the totalitarians of Japanese Imperialism and Nazi fascism that made war necessary to preserve and restore freedom, and every civilian casualty that ensued was their moral responsibility.

In the case at hand, Israel should unleash the full power of their military to crush Hizbullah, and all those who decry and lament the resulting casualties should turn their wrath against the parties responsible: Hizbullah and all who support it.

In the bigger picture, unless we cut out the heart of the jihad by destroying Iran, Islamic terrorism will not stop. It will only escalate.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 21, 2006 05:53 AM

There is no fucking way China,RussiaIndia and NATO are going join forces tgo realistically set up a buffer zone between Hezbollah and Israel. Never,never going to happen. We just got to wait and see what'll happen next in that part of the world. If I was a betting man I'd say this conflict is going to keep going for awhile.

Posted by: tommy in nyc at July 21, 2006 06:15 AM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/pop_ups/06/middle_east_beirut_destruction/html/1.stm

Jesus, how can anyone justify this kind of destruction on residential/business neighbourhoods??!!??

At current, I feel more for and with the lebanese people than ever before. Mr Totten, you've taught me respect and understanding for others (sad I know, but true). I've actually come to understand Lebanon and it's surroudings.....this just makes me want to hate Israel. I know Hez control the southern half of the country, state within a state, so why can't Israel understand this too???

Posted by: Stuart at July 21, 2006 06:46 AM

I have an off topic question but I hope someone can answer me. I have been gone for a few weeks and no internet available. I come home and been looking at these top posts and don't see Michael. He is back to the Mid-East? Someone please say he is not over there right now?

Posted by: Cathy at July 21, 2006 06:48 AM

Jesus, how can anyone justify this kind of destruction on residential/business neighbourhoods??!!??

From the captions on the pictures: Israel says the crowded, Shia-dominated neighbourhoods are a centre of Hezbollah operations, and warned residents to leave the area ahead of intensive strikes.

With regards to international law:

From the Geneva Conventions, First Protocol, Art. 51, P 7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

Posted by: rosignol at July 21, 2006 07:07 AM

Michael Smith,

Furthermore, you are dropping context and arguing with a straw man. The issue here is clearly more that a kidnapped soldier and a "few" rockets. It is the existence of an axis of jihad -- the Hizbulloh/Hamas/Syria/Iran axis -- who has promised to destroy America and Israel -- and who is working feverishly to acquire/develop the weapons to make good on that threat.

Well said. What I don't see addressed enough is that in this slow motion asymmetrical warfare the truces are merely safe havens for our enemies to regroup and plan the next 'operation'. Once they have the strength, they will use it, I have no doubt of that.

Reading the wiki thumbnail history of Arab Israeli conflict history since 1922 shows this pattern repeating endlessly. IMO this has been one long struggle where one side never has really wanted peace, though I will allow that Israel's grabbing of land as a prize in these conflicts has also fueled the conflict.

Now that our Western culture, via globalization, is encroaching onto Islam's turf (or the sphere of anti-modernity ala Thomas Barnett’s Gap Analysis) we may be in for the same endless struggle.

I don't think the West has the inner cultural strength as it is configured now to overcome the enemies it is confronting. The Islamic civilization is fractured and has many of its own weaknesses though. I don't expect to live long enough to see how this will turn out.

Posted by: jdwill at July 21, 2006 07:15 AM

Jesus, how can anyone justify this kind of destruction on residential/business neighbourhoods??!!??

In addition to the points made by rosignol, the IDF has shown numerous videos showing rocket launchers on top of apartment and office buildings firing rockets into Israel.

Hizbullah is using the Lebanese people as human shields and THAT is the thing for which there is no justification.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 21, 2006 07:24 AM

If I can be forgiven for agreeing with Shmuel; the world seems overly fond of sitting by with a warm glow of moral superiority-by-proxy while the Israelis endure year after long year of outright murder of their civilians and low-level warfare against their armed forces.

Israel is entitled to act. Nobody who has even the slightest chance of having the will to help them with boots on the ground has the resources, and nobody with the resources has the will (or in many cases the know-how). Since the rest of the world IS leaving them to fight this alone we should have the decency to shut up, short of gas chambers being erected to deal with the "Lebanese Problem", and that will never happen.

Posted by: Sam at July 21, 2006 07:40 AM

"I don't think the West has the inner cultural strength as it is configured now to overcome the enemies it is confronting."

I fear you may be correct. CNN has an online poll up right now with this question: Do you think the Israeli military response inside Lebanon is justified?

So far, after more than a million votes, 56% of those responding say "No".

A major problem is the west's historic acceptance of the morality of altruism, which preaches that virtue consists of self-sacrifice. As Robert Tracinski puts it so brilliantly:

"Just as powerful is the warped logic of the "suicide bomb morality" of altruism, which identifies self-sacrifice as the essence of virtue. In any conflict, the good guys are expected to prove that they are good by backing down and sacrificing their interests--while nothing is expected of the bad guys, precisely because they are evil. That's why a Los Angeles Times op-ed demanded that Israel "has to be the most responsible party" by declaring an immediate ceasefire. Why should Israel be the first to back down from the fight? The author answers: "What, after all, can we expect from Hamas or Hezbollah?"

Notice the warped psychology this fosters: the onus is always on the good guys to turn the other check and submit to evil. This is a moral outlook that empowers the evil because they are evil and restrains the good because they are good. Should we then be surprised to see the evil emboldened to greater acts of destruction?"

The whole article is here: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/07/what_part_of_war_dont_we_under.html

We must rid ourselves of the notion that self-sacrifice is good. Otherwise, the Islamic world will gladly accept our sacrifice of western civilization to their vision of a totalitarian global caliphate under Islamic law.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 21, 2006 07:49 AM

I fear you may be correct. CNN has an online poll up right now with this question: Do you think the Israeli military response inside Lebanon is justified?

So far, after more than a million votes, 56% of those responding say "No".

You are making a common mistake- assuming everyone who hits the CNN website is a westerner. It's a globalized planet now, and everyone has Internet access- regardless of Bill Keller's delusions to the contrary.

From http://www.bigpharaoh.com/2006/07/19/please-help-us-win-the-cnn-war/

[...]
I got zillions, and I mean zillions, of emails, MSN messages, you name it, urging me to vote No in this CNN poll. The poll asks CNN's website readers if they think the Israeli military response inside Lebanon is justified? Almost every website and Arabic forum I've been linked to this old poll. Arabic websites translated the poll and asked people to click on the second box. The "No" box. [...]

Posted by: rosignol at July 21, 2006 08:15 AM

"When a mushroom cloud appears over Tel Aviv or Manhattan, it will have happened because thinking like yours prevailed. It will be YOU and your fellow-traveler pacifists that enabled the most horrific barbarism imaginable."

This is just as cheap and silly as saying that if a mushroom cloud appears in New York or Tel Aviv it will be because of injustice and bombing the Arabs.

You think we can defeat jihadists by nuking Iran? So, you drop a nuclear bomb on Teheran (killing lots and lots of pro-American Iranians who hate their regime, by the way), and do you think that will make the Iranians surrender? No, it won't. They'll react like Israelis do when they are attacked, they will draw together.

So, what do you want to do, how many millions do you want to kill? I can hear the answer already, "As many as it takes." Yes, if we hunted down and killed nine-tenths of the world's Muslims, we might be able to stop the jihadis that way. But guess what? We aren't strong enough to do that. And we aren't stupid or vicious enough either.

Does that mean we lose? What astonishes me is the incredible lack of patience among Americans. If it takes a few years to defeat an insurgency, that means we are losing. Let's "save" Afghanistan by slaughtering all it's people! Then there will be no more jihadis! Brilliant.

And in Iraq, we should do what? "REALLY get 'em. POUND 'em." That means what? They're hard to find. Calm 'em down by bombing their cities? I don't think that will calm 'em down much. Unless you kill most of them. And that kind of defeats the purpose. It's just babyish fist-banging.

And the Vietnam illustration only illustrates the lack of ability to think in moral terms. I didn't defend incrementalism! I think an invasion of North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos would have been a great idea! But one that focussed on smashing up the NVA, not on mass bombing of cities.

I'm not against war and I'm not for "incrementalism". I'm against people who say that the way to win wars is by abandoning morality and treating civilians just as we treat soldiers. That's wrong, and--unless you are willing to commit genocide--it DOESN'T WORK. The Israeli city bombing in Beirut and other such places is wrong not just because it is immoral, but because it is INEFFECTIVE. It doesn't do much to kill Hizbullah when you strike an apartment block full of civilians. And those people are no more going to fall down and beg pity than Israelis are when a suicide bomber strikes. The unite against the people who are attacking them.

So, you kill a couple of Hizbollah in a building full of civilians--if you are lucky and there are any Hizbollah there at all. And lots of teenagers who had scarcely given a thought to Hizbollah before will join the organization.

One has to make distinctions. Sometimes smashing things is the answer. Sometimes it's stupid and immoral.

I'll be fascinated to see what Michael Totten has to say about all this. Obviously, he has some concern for the Lebanese who are his friends and have been his neighbors and not just "enemies". It's not a matter of indifference to HIM, I bet, whether the Israelis target REAL military targets in Lebanon or whether "those people" are killed like flies.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2006 08:54 AM

Ted says: "Actually I didn't say that cities should be flattened and millions killed for a couple of soldiers and a few katuyushas. But if it was London instead of Haifa, Chicago instead of Haifa, Moscow instead of Haifa, in fact any other country instead of Isreal this would have already been escalated into a major confrontation."

Oddly enough, London WAS hit last year, by terror attacks. So was Madrid the year prior. So was New York in 2001.
Have you forgotten?

Last I checked, the Spanish and the Brits didn't go dropping nukes on any country, "islamic" or not.

Your logic is flawed.

Posted by: Bad Vilbel at July 21, 2006 09:50 AM

If Jeff would just concentrate on the 'ineffective' portion of his dissertations, I might be somewhat sympathetic. That we can discuss quantifiably. I honestly don't really know the answer to the 'effective' question. I don't know if anyone does for certain.

If I am using a hammer to swat a malaria carrying mosquito, the collateral damage might be tolerable if I manage to in fact kill the damn thing. If I don't even touch it and do proceed to smash up the house and everyone else in range at the same time, that is something else again.

But then he has to drift off into his version of 'morality' and call those who don't think that terrorist trash should be able to hide among 'civilians' and thus claim a 'get-out-of-jail-free card, barbarians.

I am for anything that weakens or destroys terror groups in both the short and long terms. Whatever angst that may cause now is nothing to the angst I would feel should these Islamic Fascists become ever more powerful. And I think Jeff might bear in mind that if these creatures are not stopped 'before' they become REALLY dangerous, they will have to stopped 'after'. They are not going to stop themselves. How 'genocidal' do you think that 'after' campaign is going to be ?

If it comes to having to deal with these retrograde 'barbarians' later, all that the delay will have accomplished is to really put the 'total' back into Total War.

Posted by: dougf at July 21, 2006 10:45 AM

Bad Vilbel is right!

Nor did we respond to 9/11 with a "just DO something" bombing campaign. I remember American government officials saying in the early days of the Afghanistan campaign saying, "Well, there just isn't much of any military significance to HIT." We didn't just bomb apartment buildings. We fought smart and got most of the Afghans on our side.

Will it work in the end? Who knows. But short of massive genocide of Muslims--which everyone knows we won't do--it's the only game in town. Limited, patient, attacks on fighters and serious military targets that take civilian casualties VERY seriously and try extremely hard to minimize them.

Suppose Hezbollah were in America. Would we tolerate bombing of apartment buildings with large civilian casualties to root them out? Surely not. And it wouldn't root them out either.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2006 10:46 AM

Doug:

I'm afraid there is a relationship between morality and effectiveness.

Getting mad and being pointlessly destructive of life is both immoral and ineffective. Alienating innocent potential allies by "smashing" them in pseudo-military attacks isn't effective and its also wrong.

Whatever you think of what you call "Jeff's theories" they are simply a restatement of the classical Western rules of war. They aren't something I made up.

I don't think Michael Totten would agree that the Lebanese are just a "bunch of barbarians." We are the good guys and al-Qaeda are the bad guys, no doubt. But acting as if we are incapable of grossly evil actions or they are incapable of good and generous ones obscures the fact that we can BECOME just as evil as they are. And if we get used to doing evil things for GOOD reasons, we will do evil things for BAD ones because we will have become inured to doing them.

Solzhenitsyn used to be a hero to anti-Communist Americans. Do we still admire him? He wrote, "The line between Good and Evil does not run between These and Those. It runs right down the middle of every human heart."

And it turns out that taking that seriously has PRACTICAL consequences, though it requires patience.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2006 10:59 AM

"And if we get used to doing evil things for GOOD reasons, we will do evil things for BAD ones because we will have become inured to doing them."--Jeff

Maybe, maybe not. I'm sure that in all wars 'evil things' were done by the 'good guys'. Did they then become 'bad' and remain so when the war was over ?

Not as a general rule, glaring exceptions to the contrary. I don't believe in the 'slippery slope' argument. To me it always seems like a good 'excuse' not to even take the first step to actually solving a problem. By doing 'A' I might be successful, but if I do 'A' then in some theoretical universe , I might also end up doing 'Z'. So let's not do 'A'.In fact, let's not do anything.

This whole Lebanese situation brings up a point that has been on my mind since it started.

Theoretically ---

Side 'A' is composed of retrograde fanatics. Religious nutbars of what we would call a 'barbarian' nature. But there are a lot of them and they don't mind dying. In fact, having nothing to live for , they welcome it. Their 'morality' assigns the 'infidels' to hell, and they consider it a duty to send them on their way.Their media reinforces their outlook and exults in their 'martyrdom'. They are sworn to drive the enemy 'into the sea'. They don't want peace they want Victory. All 'hudnas' are merely tactical. They don't differentiate between civilians and 'others'. In fact ,they deliberately both target civilians and hide out among them.

B. Side 'B' is composed of, well people more or less like us. 'Civilized' if you will, whatever you take that to mean. They are concerned about the taking of life, the 'morality' of it, and want to fight a 'moral 'war when they can be shaken out of our stupor to actually 'defend ourselves. This media, is concerned with sensationalism and largely controlled by the 'no-war-no-more' group of deep thinkers. It constantly shows images of the 'opponents' suffering and the devastation inflicted on their lands. This side is technologically advanced but numerically insignificant.

Which side can manage to fight a long war of attrition?
Which side can maintain its morale over an extended period?
Which side can afford to get bogged down in a brutal mano-a-mano struggle where in order to avoid civilian damage you have to get up close and personal with your enemy ?

And last but not least, if most of the 'technology' is outlawed due to 'morality', which side will WIN?

Side 'B' cannot fight a 'proportional' war and survive. But side 'B' must be victorious.

What to do ? What to do ?

I think the answer depends not upon the degree of 'morality' one likes to claim, but the degree to which one believes that the struggle is of an existential nature.

ps-- I think Afghanistan is a lost cause by the way. Not because the process might not have worked , but because the WILL to 'stay-the-course' is simply not there. We are too 'effete' to 'pay any price; bear any burden', even if the price is just a few images on the idiot box, and the burden, a few tax dollars here and there. A poll here in Canada, indicates that 54% of the sheeple, want our troops out NOW. And we barely got there. Our troops are gung-ho, but the population here is largely-----(you can fill in the blanks).

Maybe we don't really deserve to survive. Other civilizations haven't. Maybe we don't value ourselves adequately any longer.

Posted by: dougf at July 21, 2006 11:45 AM

DougF,

Good to see you still around ;-)

I agree in part with what you're saying. Surely a group that is willing to win at all costs can only be beaten by another group willing to win at all costs. I have long held the opinion that we can honestly call no war moral, necessary perhaps, but not moral.

I personally don't think this will crush Hzebollah. I think it may cause more problems than solutions and I think it may have dealt permanent damage to one of the few MidEast democracies. Speaking of which, I'm noticing a trend.

Palistine has a democratic election and places Hammas in charge who attacks Israel. Iraq has a democratic election and places the Shia in charge, who then start attacking Sunni. Lebanon has a democracy and places Hezbollah in key positions who then attack Israel. It brings back the ghostly voice of Jefferson, reminding us that those who don't truly earn their democracy, seem unlikely to value it. Is democracy in the ME now, truly the right choice?

I'm a huge fan of personal responsibility and personal rights... but if we give the majority their voice, and their voice supports extremism, then what have we gained?

Posted by: Ratatosk at July 21, 2006 12:57 PM

dougf,

Sheep?

I think incompetent leaders who funnel billions of "war" dollars to their cronies should have problems getting a democracy to sustain a war.

Israel blows up all the bridges in southern Lebanon and then they send in their tanks?

Hehe. Perfect.

Did Tommy "No Plan" Franks piss away his $4 million book advance so now he's moonlighting at IDF headquarters to pay his bills?

Posted by: monkyboy at July 21, 2006 01:12 PM

I don't think it will happen, but what needs to happen is for Hezbollah to lose; to lose so badly it finally surrenders.

All the ceasefires for the last hundred years haven't seen the Arabs having to surrender -- and the people, whose leaders surrender, will blame those leaders for the deaths and loss.

Without the surrender, the blame for the deaths and loss in the fight will remain with the enemy -- leading to more fighting.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at July 21, 2006 01:48 PM

I am not talking about a U.N. peacekeeping force.

I'm glad Tom Friedman is not, since one has been there since 1978 with the usual sterling results.

Serving proudly side by side

Posted by: jdwill at July 21, 2006 01:54 PM

"I'm against people who say that the way to win wars is by abandoning morality and treating civilians just as we treat soldiers. That's wrong, and--unless you are willing to commit genocide--it DOESN'T WORK. The Israeli city bombing in Beirut and other such places is wrong not just because it is immoral, but because it is INEFFECTIVE…………

You think we can defeat jihadists by nuking Iran? So, you drop a nuclear bomb on Teheran (killing lots and lots of pro-American Iranians who hate their regime, by the way), and do you think that will make the Iranians surrender? No, it won't. They'll react like Israelis do when they are attacked, they will draw together.”

Oh, I see. All attacks on civilian targets by all attackers in all situations produce a uniform reaction of resistance that means the attack will fail and the attacking side is doomed to lose the conflict. That is your position?

According to this view, the use of overwhelming force against one's enemy, including its civilians, will encourage the enemy, "draw them together", make them fight harder and make it impossible for us to defeat them -- whereas the use of limited force, that spares the civilian population, will not encourage the enemy, will leave them “apart", will not affect their will to fight and will make it possible for us to defeat them.

In other words, if we make it clear to our enemy that he is facing extermination and has no chance to win, he will be encouraged and will choose to fight on. But if we make it clear to him that we intend to do only limited damage, and that he may, in fact, evade our attacks simply by hiding behind civilians, THAT he will NOT find encouraging and he will be less likely to fight on.

Aside from the fact that history refutes this ridiculous notion, it doesn't pass the common sense test.

By this reasoning, WWII could never have ended -- the Japanese would have reacted to being nuked (and firebombed) by "drawing together" in resistance to America and the Germans would have reacted to the destruction of Berlin by "drawing together" around Hitler. The American civil war would still be underway because the Confederates would have reacted to Sherman’s destruction of Georgia by “drawing together” and fighting even harder. The war would be raging even today.

“So, you kill a couple of Hizbollah in a building full of civilians--if you are lucky and there are any Hizbollah there at all. And lots of teenagers who had scarcely given a thought to Hizbollah before will join the organization.”

Pure appeasement nonsense. If this were true, the nuking of Japan, just to pick one example, should have converted vast numbers of Japanese civilians into kamikazes. But it did not.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 21, 2006 02:34 PM

Doug F:

"Maybe we don't value ourselves adequately any longer."

Or maybe we value ourselves for reasons that are too shallow. When all people have to live for is "freedom" and "the pursuit of happiness," they get bored and selfish and quit caring about anything at all. You have to have something worth dying for or else killing for it--even living for it--is too much trouble.

When people see themselves as bearers of something more that truly MATTERS, then they will have some desire to survive. But part of that something more involves what we think people are and what we think we can do to them.

You may be right about Afghanistan, but what would "staying the course" involve? Acting worse than the Soviets did? It involves patience and the hard slog--and treating people with respect, not like "barbarians."

I know ALL ABOUT hudna and all that stuff, Bob Spencer is my college pal and his children are our godsons. By I don't see that it points us to any solutions. We don't in fact know how much a religion can change over time or how much people within it can change. Killing a very large number of Muslims isn't going to solve the problem. The choices are patience, fortitude, and humanity or genocide. Since we aren't going to do the latter, we should bet on the former.

As for the notion that indulging in wickedness when you "have to" not getting you used to doing it in less onerous circumstances, you can believe what you choose to. But my reading of myself and everyone else whose lives I've observed is that if you don't believe in absolutes, your relatives become more and more relative over time. Until you find yourself apologizing for pretty much anything for pretty much any excuse.

I remember reading a story once about a group of Red soldiers during the Civil War. They had taken some women and children out of their village in the Caucasus and they were ordered to shoot them. Some of the soldiers balked, but the generals insisted under pain of death. When it came to be the turn of one soldier, he raised his gun and then lowered it and said, "No." His general shot him dead.

By the pragmatic calculus of survival, that doesn't make any sense. But people who are willing to die like that form the basis of a civilization that has something to live for besides long weekends at the beach and computer games.

If, in some future "necessary" total war against "Muslim fanatics", I am called upon to shoot innocent women and children, I hope I have the guts to go over to the captives and say to my fellows, "No, thanks, I'll stand with these folks."

My wife used to ask her Church History students who believed in whatever it takes, it's all about me, "Which would be worse, to have a sister who was raped or a brother who was a rapist?" It's a clarifying question. We know deep down in the quiet places of our souls that doing evil destroys us in ways that suffering evil never can.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2006 02:35 PM

Mike:

As you see, I didn't say what you said. I said nuking Iran wouldn't make the Iranians surrender.

Japan was a well-ordered and government-led society. And the generals listened to the emperor. Once the emperor decided to surrender, the people followed.

We are dealing with a mass religious movement, supported in some large degree by its people. Maybe nuking twelve Iranian cities would get them to surrender. But it wouldn't cow legions of people around the world who believe that they are defending a Sacred Cause. And Iranians would feel, quite rightly, that Americans weren't their friends after all, but were their enemies. People in such situations pull behind the leaders they have. This is why the Russians supported Stalin in World War Two.

One sees this at play in Lebanon today. Christians who hate Hezbollah and Sunnis who are afraid of it are standing together with it, because there's no one else defending them from an enemy that wants to destroy their entire infrastructure in a vain attempt to root out some terrorist gunmen.

As I said, though, if you kill enough of them, you do win. But you'll have to kill an astonishing number to win that way...massacring huge number of women and children in Sabra and Shattila didn't cow the Palestinians one iota, it had the opposite effect.

Your theory is the theory of the terrorists. If we bomb hell out of their cities and kill a lot of their kids, they'll do anything for peace. But it has the opposite effect in Israel, doesn't it? It makes them draw together, it makes more Jews GO TO Israel, it makes them determined to beat a common enemy. Precisely BECAUSE of the hideous brutality.

It's a false theory.

Time is on our side in this war, despite what many say. These gunmen and fanatics end up wreaking havoc on their own cousins and brothers and eventually, the cousins and brothers come to the difficult conclusion that the Real Enemy is their friends and cousins in the Regime, though they speak the same language, have the same blood and worship the same God. The Real Friend is the Stranger Abroad.

That's why the Iranian people HATE their regime and huge numbers have come to respect American and question the radical version of Islam. It takes time and patience, but it will work.

Posted by: Jeff at July 21, 2006 02:53 PM

Time is on our side in this war, despite what many say.

I am not so sure, but … suppose…, though, that there was a chance in Iraq?

Iraqi Poll by the International Republican Institute

Post about Iraqi forum posters by ITM

Who’s telling the truth?

It’s a bit of straw grasping, a Republican Poll, some Iraqis showing signs of shaking off the Arab Street Mentality ™, and the odd comment or email from military personnel that claim they are winning and the press won’t tell about it.

My concern is that, even if Iraq was slowly turning around, other events may overtake it and plunge the region into chaos.

Posted by: jdwill at July 21, 2006 03:41 PM

There is one problem with an earlier commentors analysis. The reason that bombing hasn't worked when it is used on the Israeli's is that Israel has been given only one real option for peace. That option is the total destruction of Israel. That is the reality. They want Israel wiped off of the map. They are not joking when they have repeatedly stated this goal, it is not a bargaining ploy it is their real life honest to goodness goal.
As one of our TV commentators noted: If Hezbollah and Hamas would throw down their weapons there would be peace tomorrow. If Israel would throw down their weapons, all the Jews in Israel would be dead by tomorrow.
Doesn't really leave you a lot of options, does it?
Please note that the United States essentially went to war in two different countries over one, yes count it one major terrorist attack. Israel has been under continuous attack for years.
By the way, so called "limited warfare" is the theory and so far it has done nothing but embolden our enemies. "Total warfare" is the historical norm. There is a reason for this, to fully defeat an enemy you have to remove his war making capabilities. This means you have to deny them various resources including fuel, factories and personnel. These resources are normally located close to and run by civilians. Civilians who though not combatants are fully part of the war making machine.
Western civilization won't be defeated by our enemies in this war, but like Rome we may defeat ourselves. Our enemies already question whether we have the stomach to truly defend ourselves and it is possible we do not. If we have reached that level of decadence perhaps it is better that we fade away.

Posted by: Ted at July 21, 2006 04:58 PM

Hizbollah delenda est

Posted by: MentalFloss at July 21, 2006 06:32 PM

Jeff thanks for the interesting debate. I see your point and perhaps if the enemy was not such a vile collection of fanatics, I might even see my way clear to losing 'morally'. It's not really just about Lebanon, as you know.

Not with these guys. Not now. Not ever. It would be an insult to the soul.

Should it ever come down to a case of them going(no matter how many 'them' happens to be) and me going, I hope that I, like you, have the courage to do the 'right' thing both for myself and for 'civilization.

I think however that we will continue to disagree about what the 'right' thing is. I don't intend to have my head separated from the rest of me by soneone whose only home-grown technology is based in the 14th century, and whose idea of education is reciting a book ad infinitum, while nodding like a wind-up toy. I couldn't live with the humiliation.

If change is the way out of this train wreck, the 'others' best start picking up the pace. It's all up to THEM.

Veni,vidi,vici. Emphasis on the vici.

ps --Tosk --Yeah ,cooler heads prevailed as I did explain in a later post.

pps -- I do think that Israel should explain its campaign in detail. If they are hitting targets of 'military significance', I would appreciate something more than their word for it. Why are all those buildings destroyed ? What made them a legitimate target? Details please. I do not support a limited 'terror war' not only because it is quite possibly'immoral'but also because as Jeff has said , it won't work.
Its 'not working' aspect, certainly makes it 'immoral'in my book.

Posted by: dougf at July 21, 2006 06:33 PM

A few comments from someone who has not only been around longer than most, has also done more different things than most and lived in more places than most.

1. ECK, a moral war is one which is fought to stop the bad guys from taking over your country or conducting terrorist attacks against you AND one in which, as the US has, taken great pains to NOT kill or injure those they are not directly fighting against.

2. While Friedman has pretty hit it on the mark, I doubt it will ever happen. WHAT shoujld really happen is the worlds governments hire a PRIVATE army like the one from South Africa who with a very small force defeated forces MANY, MANY times larger at least twice and did so in two different countries. (They were never defeated. World pressure caused their demise)

3. It seems MONKYBOY has NO CLUE about what the Iraqi army is doing. He is most probably just another member of the Loony Left blithering away in his ignorance.

I'd make more comments only have to go.

Neil C Reinhardt
An Atheist and a Vet

Posted by: Neil C. Reinhardt at July 21, 2006 06:44 PM

Jeff:

Let me summarize the argument.

I am arguing for the use of overwhelming force against both the Iranian regime, its civilian population and its infrastructure, until they either surrender or are sufficiently damaged to no longer be a threat. And in support, I am offering three historical examples where such force was applied and successfully destroyed three very evil regimes and ideas: The Japanese and Germans in WWII and the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

You are arguing that overwhelming force will not work because it draws the enemy together and increases his will to fight. And to support your position, you offer the examples of the Israelis, the Christians & Sunnis in Lebanon and the Russians in WWII -- none of which have faced anything like the use of overwhelming force!

You are simply cherry-picking the situations that you think support your theory while arbitrarily dismissing those that obviously contradict it. And in the process, you are bringing up examples that prove my point. Your examples highlight one of the problems of using limited force: it does indeed encourage the enemy and increase his will to fight.

Your argument is like saying that we should not use machine guns against approaching enemy soldiers because in the past, when we threw rocks at them, it simply made them mad and did nothing to stop their advance. That is about how silly it is to equate what we did to the Japs in WWII with what has been done to Israel.

Posted by: Michael Smith at July 22, 2006 05:53 AM

Friedman and most everyone else in thrall to the Israeli lobby is accepting that the Israeli soldiers killed and captured in an engagement with the only military every to drive Israel out of Arab land were indeed engaged in Israel. Well, that info comes from Israeli's, and we know Israeli's lie.

Just one more point from this Navy vet. I cheered when I heard that an Israeli gunboat was hit by a missile. A little late payback for the Liberty. Too bad our own government has never had the balls to settle that score.

Posted by: stari_momak at July 24, 2006 01:26 AM

If, in some future "necessary" total war against "Muslim fanatics", I am called upon to shoot innocent women and children, I hope I have the guts to go over to the captives and say to my fellows, "No, thanks, I'll stand with these folks."

Do you think they would do the same if your positions were reversed?

If so, what is your basis for thinking this?

Posted by: rosignol at July 24, 2006 10:58 PM
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