August 18, 2006

Terror War

Cracked Windshield Kiryat Shmona.jpg

KIRYAT SHMONA, ISRAEL – The Israel/Lebanon war created hundreds of thousands of refugees on each side of the border, but that’s where proportion ends. Israel has a real army and a real air force and can inflict real damage on its enemies. Hezbollah, on the other hand, is only strong enough to terrorize people.

The so-called Party of God can menace, bully, and sabotage Lebanon. (They are especially good at the latter.) Hassan Nasrallah’s “martyrs” can terrorize Israel. But they cannot repel an invading army. They can only harass that army and kill a miniscule percentage of its soldiers and dent it by one tenth of one percent.

After most foreign journalists packed up and left as soon as the bangbang stopped, I drove to Hezbollah’s most targeted city of Kiryat Shmona to do a little post-war analysis of what had just happened. It looks surprisingly intact from a distance, and even up close the damage is less severe than what I thought it would be.

Kiryat Shmona Distance.jpg

I expected to see at least one destroyed house. There may be a destroyed house in there somewhere, but I drove all over and couldn’t find one.

Katyusha rockets are pipsqueakers. They don’t feel like pipsqueakers when they’re flying in your direction. But they are. They can’t be aimed worth a damn, and they’ll only do serious damage if they ignite something else after impact, like the gas tank of a car. They have almost no military value at all unless they are fired in barrages at a reasonably close range. From a distance they can only be counted on to break a few things almost at random in the general direction they’re aimed.

They do break a few things, especially because Hezbollah is clever enough to pack them tight with ball bearings. Kiryat Shmona looks like a city that recently suffered street fights between roving militias with automatic weapons.

Shrapnel Kiryat Shmona Apartment.jpg

Katyusha shrapnel kills people who aren’t wearing body armor, and wounds those who are. No one wants to be hit with this stuff. But if the side of your building is hit, you can call a repair guy and have it taken care of in one day. It might take a few days if the windows are broken. Either way, Katyushas do quite a lot of damage to people and relatively little damage to infrastructure and buildings.

Broken Kiryat Shmona Store Windows.jpg

Shattered Kiryat Shmona Store.jpg

Throwing high-speed ball bearings at random around an urban area is a great way to terrorize people and get them to hide in their shelters or seek refuge somewhere else. You can empty entire cities this way, and that’s exactly what Hezbollah did. No Palestinian terrorist group had ever been able to accomplish so much. But forget trying to use Katyushas against an army, especially against a properly outfitted and trained Western army. While Northern Israel’s civilian population retreated to the south, the military surged forward straight into Lebanon.

I can say from personal experience that Katyushas really do frighten civilians. I drove through Kiryat Shmona several times (fast) while it was under bombardment. But I didn’t dare stick around. The city was Hezbollah’s favorite target even while it has no military value at all. They couldn’t hit anything in particular in there, but the city is large enough and close enough to the border that it’s easy to hit something and scare everyone out.

Caved In Kiryat Shmona Windshield.jpg

You can’t destroy a city this way, but you can make it uninhabitable for a while.

The worst damage I could find was where a Katyusha hit the roof of a car port. A parked van was torched , the kitchen window was blown in by shrapnel, and a portion of the side of the house was damaged. Anyone washing the dishes when that thing hit would have been killed.

Garage Kiryat Shmona.jpg

Garage Roof Kiryat Shmona.jpg

Kiryat Shmona Roof.jpg

There is a lot of talk in the media and the blogosphere about Hezbollah’s targets in Israel. Some insist that Hezbollah does too aim its Katyushas at the Israeli military. The “proof” is that 12 soldiers were killed by a rocket just before I arrived on the border.

Here’s the thing, though. Hezbollah hit a little of everything in Northern Israel: houses, trees, streams, grass, apartments, roads, vineyards, and cows. Thousands of rockets crashed and sprayed shrapnel inside their shooting gallery. The odds that none of the rockets would hit a single IDF soldier were microscopic. Hezbollah couldn’t have achieved zero Israeli military casualties no matter how hard they tried unless they didn’t fire those rockets at all.

I was far safer on military bases, in open fields, and on tiny kibbutzes than in cities during Hezbollah’s terror war. Katyushas are nearly useless against an army but are devastatingly effective as terrorist weapons against civilian population centers even as they cause relatively light damage. Shrapnel may not hurt your apartment building too bad, but it will tear you to pieces if you’re in the way.

Broken Window Kiryat Shmona Apartment.jpg

Rockets rained down on Kiryat Shmona almost constantly. There were no soldiers, no tanks, no artillery cannons, no bases, nothing of military value in that city at all. None of the journalists I met wanted to linger there for very long. But we were all over the army bases because our odds of being hit by a rocket were merely random, the same as if we were out among cows in the farmland. Haifa, which is away from the border, was hit more often than bases that are right next to the border and therefore easier targets.

Shrapnel Kiryat Shmona Storefront.jpg

The odds of being hit in Kiryat Shmona were fantastically higher than the odds of being hit anywhere else. Our lives depended on getting this right. There is no room for ideology or taking sides when you’ll die if you get it wrong.

Car Shrapnet Kiryat Shmona.jpg

If Hezbollah really did the best they could to avoid killing civilians with their inaccurate rockets (as their apologists claim) I would have set up shop in Kiryat Shmona. But the situation was exactly reversed. The exception was the town of Metulla, and the reason for that, presumably, is because it is immediately surrounded on three sides by Lebanon. With that exception in mind, the claim that civilian areas were safer places than military areas is terrorist propaganda.

Shrapnel Kiryat Shmona House.jpg

What happened here doesn’t bode well for the future if Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran want to go another round. And it looks like they do want to rack up another “victory.” It's so easy for Syria and Iran in particular when Lebanon absorbs all the punishment for them.

Missile war may be replacing terrorist war. It's more effective than using hijackers and suicide bombers. Only missile war caused hundreds of thousands of Israelis to flee.

This war was a transition, the testing of a new doctrine. It's a disaster for Israel, but in the end it will be an even bigger disaster for those who think it's a terrific idea.

I don’t know about some of the unhinged Lebanese Hezbollah supporters, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Lebanon if ten Iranian-made Zelzal missiles crash into the sides of Tel Aviv apartments and skyscrapers every hour.

War is coming again, and it’s coming like Christmas. It will not resemble the Middle East wars we are used to.

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Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 18, 2006 06:49 AM
Comments

No way. I'm the first to comment.

Posted by: lebanon.profile at August 18, 2006 07:37 AM

As horrible as this war was Michael, I believe when the next one comes everyone will look back and wish that Olmert had not lost his nerve and ended it when and how he did. God help us all.

Posted by: Randy at August 18, 2006 07:38 AM

Are people already returning? Do Israelis have war or terror insurance? Will the government subsidize these people's losses?

Posted by: lebanon.profile at August 18, 2006 07:39 AM

Michael,

I would really like to comment, but that would cut into my precious JonBenet Time.

Heh heh.

Thanks for the follow-up, which we rarely get (and which by now we shouldn't expect) from the MSM. As you say, as soon as the "bangbang" ended, the heads moved on. Anderson Cooper was whisked away to London even as the smoke was clearing along the Israeli-Lebanese border, so he could do a stand-up in front of Heathrow for the terrorist arrests. I guess he's on a plane right now, headed for Thailand to do a stand-up in front of Karr's old apartment building.

So, anyway, thanks for actually going into Kiryat Shmona and assessing the real extent of the damage.

We should accept that a follow-up like yours is not "newsworthy" and, in most cases, will not be covered by the MSM. We will have to get a more complete picture from folks like you.

*

Posted by: Jeffrey -- New York at August 18, 2006 07:49 AM

Yet more excellent reporting of the kind that our major media should be doing, but are not.

My concern is that this war may have finally stripped away the concept of immunity due to proximity to civilians. If Hizb'allah is not disarmed, and all indications are that they will not be, then the lesson taken from the war will be that hiding among civilians and randomly killing enemy civilians as a deliberate strategy is acceptable. And if that is the case, what will hold Israel back from making their next war not against just the fighters, but against the actual populations that the fighters shelter among?

And this is not a problem just for Lebanon, but for Syria and the Palestinian areas, too. Essentially, Hizb'allah might just have found the mechanism to destroy any reasonable person's desire to adhere to the Geneva Conventions or to Just War doctrines.

Posted by: Jeff Medcalf at August 18, 2006 07:56 AM

You raise a very interesting point Jeff. The recent war has proven almost w/out a shadow of a doubt that Israel may retool their military strategy in dealing with terrorist threats. On the other hand, I feel Israel is not yet at the point of carpet-bombing downtown Beirut. Yet, the Israeli government's M.A.D. position (mutually assured destruction) in terms of a possible Syrian chemical weapon attack may become applicable as Iranian rockets start streaming out of Southern Lebanon. If they Israel does respond will it be another "disproportionate force" or "proper military action"?

Posted by: Mantis at August 18, 2006 08:14 AM

Fantastic work Michael. I’ve read reports Hzb used highly sophisticated Russian anti-tank missiles very effectively to stop the ground assault. You hear anything about this? I wonder if the Israelis are leaking out a lie to cover their poor performance.

I’ve been squatting here for several days. Check is in the mail and thank you. Above all – be safe.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 08:17 AM

LP-"Are people already returning? Do Israelis have war or terror insurance? Will the government subsidize these people's losses?"

Don't take this to the bank, but I think I read somewhere that the government of Israel reimburses its citizens for terror related damages.

Posted by: Brooklyn at August 18, 2006 08:20 AM

It's a disaster for Israel, but in the end it will be an even bigger disaster for those who think it's a terrific idea.

You can bet that the Israeli army is already working on ways to handle this the next time around. They won't make the same mistake twice.

Posted by: Yafawi at August 18, 2006 08:27 AM

Michael, thanks for the excellent report and the photos. The most discouraging thing about this entire episode is that the real sources and sponsors of this carnage -- Iran and Syria -- remain untouched and unpunished. Instead, the Bush administration turns to the U.N. to seek a solution -- an organization that includes dictators and totalitarians in its deliberations.

Bush has now done virtually everything he accused John Kerry of advocating in the 2004 presidential election: kowtowing to the UN, appeasing Iran, pursuing terrorism as a “police matter” (that is essentially what US forces in Iraq are being asked to do -- police an entire nation) and generally giving a free pass to the worst state sponsors of terrorism on the planet.

And here is the real kicker: Bush has allowed the left to portray him as a warmongering, unilateralist, cowboy who overreacts and uses force unnecessarily. What a joke.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 18, 2006 08:30 AM

Jeff,

If Hizb'allah is not disarmed, and all indications are that they will not be, then the lesson taken from the war will be that hiding among civilians and randomly killing enemy civilians as a deliberate strategy is acceptable.

Indeed. I wonder if the uniform of the future will be a pair of Levi jeans, a cotton T-shirt, and a pair of running shoes.

It's a strange kind of war when the side claiming victory -- here the Hezbollah -- cannot even march together in a "victory" parade for fear of being targeted by a drone. And if there were such a parade, the odd thing is that the "soldiers" would then take off their civilian garb and get into their all-black outfits with yellow headbands.

The Arab Parallel Universe is alive and well.

*

Posted by: Jeffrey -- New York at August 18, 2006 08:31 AM

MJT,

I was wondering about something. In the piece, you wrote the following:

"The so-called Party of God can menace, bully, and sabotage Lebanon. (They are especially good at the latter.) Hassan Nasrallah’s “martyrs” can terrorize Israel. But they cannot repel an invading army. They can only harass that army and kill a minuscule percentage of its soldiers and dent it by one tenth of one percent."

This seems to be in tension with the notion that Lebanon's army cannot defeat Hezbollah. Is it really the case that Lebanon's army is so weak that they cannot beat Hezbollah even now? If that is the case then they are useless. Or maybe this is merely a perception created by Hezbollah propaganda? Or maybe Lebanon merely lacks the will to fight. I would like to know the truth of this.

If it is truly the case that Lebanon's government cannot exercise control its territory, then its survival was never really much of a possibility.

It may be that the answer is for western (or Israeli if they could swallow their pride) help in training and equipping Lebanon's army.

What say you?

Posted by: JBP at August 18, 2006 08:32 AM

"War is coming again, and it’s coming like Christmas. It will not resemble the Middle East wars we are used to."

I don't think "war is coming again".
Nasrallah himself reported 15,000 destroyed homes in the Shiite towns and villages of Lebanon, not counting the dead. If you drove around southern Lebanon villages you would not have to seek long for destroyed houses.
Nasrallah may proclaim victory, but I'm sure he doesn't need another such victory any time soon.
So, no, war isn't coming again soon.
If we have few years of quiet - that's the most you can realistically wish for in this region.

Posted by: Jacob at August 18, 2006 08:34 AM

It's a disaster for Israel, but in the end it will be an even bigger disaster for those who think it's a terrific idea.---MJT

I agree completely. I think everyone sees the handwriting on that proverbial wall and it spells --- Total War.

As Jeff said ," this war may have finally stripped away the concept of immunity due to proximity to civilians".

Arguing backward from the reality to the means makes this observation all the clearer.

Despite the wishes of the medieval Islamists and their effete 'progressive' lackeys in the West, Israel will not simply allow itself to be submerged in a wave of terror. The people have nowhere to go, and let's be honest here, 1 genocide should be more than enough for any one 'type'. The Jews have the high moral ground no matter what the chattering classes have to say about it.

Therefore since defeat is not an option, what will be an option is finding some way to effectively neutralise this immoral use of civilian 'cover'. Unless someone can present a viable alternative, frankly I see but one way to overcome the 'fish' and the 'sea' technique. Especially when it's not your sea.

And while Israel will get the blame from the usual suspects, the blame for the carnage will absolutely belong with those who thought it a grand idea to involve everyone in their unholy jihads.

There was an insightful article from Tyre about a Dr. who was castigating Israel for bombing near a hospital. The fact that Hezbollah was firing off missiles from the property meant nothing to him. We have to fight back, he said. Where else can we do so(safely)? The situation was to him inescapably clear. Of course Israel should NOT attack hospitals, but of course we are allowed to use hospitals as a military asset. Heads we win; tails you lose. To him it was all just 'logical'.

That type of logic will eventually be the death of him. And his patients. But they will all be martyrs .

Unbelievable.

Posted by: dougf at August 18, 2006 08:39 AM

LP-"Are people already returning? Do Israelis have war or terror insurance? Will the government subsidize these people's losses?"

Of course the Israeli government repairs all damage and reimburses all losses. In a month time Michael will not be able to find even holes in the walls or shattered windows, or any trace of the damage.

Posted by: Jacob at August 18, 2006 08:40 AM

Just to point out that the according to the Geneva Convention, putting military installations among civilian populations a) is a war crime and b) does NOT immunize the military installation against attack during a war. Thus, Israel did NOT commit any crimes in bombing areas where weapons were stored or missiles fired. Kofi Annan was wrong when he said that dropping leaflets does not make it right: it was already allowable, and the leaflets were designed to minimize as much as possible the civilian casualties.

Next time, I'd venture that the policy will be to level the entire village from which rockets are shot. Imagine how fast the war would have ended if we'd done that at Bint J'beil.

One other thing: some compensation is certainly given by the government, including help in paying salaries. But the psychological damage done to residents, especially kids, who had to hide out in bunkers or flee their homes will be extensive.

Posted by: Sharon at August 18, 2006 08:41 AM

Jacob said: "Nasrallah may proclaim victory, but I'm sure he doesn't need another such victory any time soon."

Well, I disagree. Nasrallah does what Syria/Iran tells him to do, and for Iran, time is quickly running out. Total war soon, imho. And I hope with all my heart I'm wrong! sigh

Posted by: Renée C. at August 18, 2006 08:52 AM

Since the missiles are so ineffective, it may be that someone in Israel has done the following math.

Total number of Katusha rockets fired: approx 4,000
Deaths due to rockets: approx 52 civilian
Deaths per rocket expended: .013

Total number of Katusha rockets destroyed by ground troops: Unknown, but no large caches have been displayed or reported. Let's estimate generously at 1,000
Israeli Deaths in ground war: approx 100 soldiers
Deaths per rocket destroyed: .1

Total number of Katusha rockets destroyed by air power: Unknown
Israeli Deaths in air war: 0
Deaths per rocket destroyed: 0

Neither the air war nor the ground war stopped the Katusha's.

Although the exact figures are not public, it is apparent that it costs about 5-10 more Israeli lives to destroy a rocket on the ground that it does to absorb rocket attacks. Of course,if something is not done, then the threat will only grow. What might be done.

Israel might adopt various strategies based on such a rope-a-dope calculus.

1. Absorb attacks and not retaliate. Make sure that the world knows about all deaths, injuries and damages. Cultivate sympathetic or at least balanced reporters. Use the internet.

1a. MEMRI on steroids. As part of 1, tape and translate into all major languages all hateful anti-semetic and anti western speeches/sermons etc, and actions like harassing and threatening reporters on the part of Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, etc. Put them on the net and on TV, by paid advertising if necessary. Items 1. and 1a. could be part of a long term strategy or to prepare the ground for further actions.

1c. Document (using drones, etc), all instances where UNFIL and the Lebanese Army fails to interdict and/or facilitates Hezbollah activity. Use this information to continuously push to have the ceasfire terms enforced, or to prove its failure when it breaks down.

2. Develop anti-missile defense from promising and extant technology. This is likely to take 2-5 years

3. Patrol Lebanese airspace constantly with overlapping coverage. Develop methods to sense and react instantly to any launch. Destroy launcher within 30 seconds of a first launch. Make it impossible for Hezbollah to shoot and scoot.

4. It may become necessary to announce the following: "Israel regrets to announce that due to the ongoing conflict and subsequent economic damage, we have run out of precision guided bombs and cannot afford more. Lebanese civilians, UNFIL, and the Lebanse Army should be advised that a rocket launch will result in widespread destruction in the area of the launch within 24 hours."

Posted by: DocBrown at August 18, 2006 08:52 AM

I need to say that the MSM needs writers like you. They are writing "crap" while your writing tells the truth and has factual backing. Thank You for being the light in the dark.

Posted by: Gene at August 18, 2006 08:57 AM

WOW!! Michael Totten, you're so pessimistic :(

Give it a chance please, don't discard people of good willing just because they couldn't get hold of the situation till now....

I find it hard to believe the Lebanese people will let themselves be drawn again into a war - and are genuinely interested in finding a solution to the hizb "problem" in a way that won't cause friction within Lebanon itself.

I only hear voices of peace coming from both Israel and Lebanon - this MUST be the foundation on which a better future can be build.

If not... May God Help Us...

Tse.

Posted by: tsedek at August 18, 2006 08:57 AM

Next time, I'd venture that the policy will be to level the entire village from which rockets are shot. Imagine how fast the war would have ended if we'd done that at Bint J'beil.

Dare I say it, but an orgsanisation like Hizb. would love a response like this. The more extreme the reaction and the more polarised opinion, the better things are for them, especially when you look at the lives of your countrymen / women as being pretty much expendable

Posted by: Dirk at August 18, 2006 09:03 AM

Michael:

Your analysis is spot on.

Israel's half-assed execution of the war will cause the Israeli people to choose a more hardlined government in the not so distant future.

That future government will not pull any punches when it comes to the coming round of this seemingly perpetual conflict.

It is going to get ugly.

Posted by: SirGlubb at August 18, 2006 09:07 AM

DocBrown

Only your point 3 & 4 are realistic, the others are a pipe dream - the MSM, UN will never side with Israel.

It is in the MSM/UN/Islamic gene's to oppose a democratic society.

...inbred genes that is.

Posted by: tomax7 at August 18, 2006 09:15 AM

tomax7 said
"Doc Brown. Only your point 3 & 4 are realistic, the others are a pipe dream - the MSM, UN will never side with Israel."

You are right about the MSM and the UN. The MSM needs to be bypassed and the UN embarrassed. A few more Bolton's in there from other Western nations would also help.

My points 1 and 2 might win sympathy in Europe, and would definitely help steel the spine of the Anglosphere and the Israeli left.

Particular strategies would have to be developed for each market. For example, it might be effective in Germany to interweave mirror passages from Hezbollah and Nazi's. In Russia, it might help to draw parallels between Hezbollah and the Chechen Islamists. In Spain, emphasise the "tragedy of Andalusia"

With the media in general, the following strategy is important.

The media tends to be sympathetic to the underdog. Sun Tzu must be followed. "When you are strong, appear weak."

Hezbollah must be made to appear strong, and Israel weak and suffering. The suffering of non-Shia lebanese at the hands of the Hezbollah thugs must be revealed and played up.

Whatever the methods, only one thing is clear. Hezbollah has an integrated media strategy. Israel does not, and must create one.

Posted by: DocBrown at August 18, 2006 09:34 AM

Whatever the methods, only one thing is clear. Hezbollah has an integrated media strategy. Israel does not, and must create one.

Indeed, check out what Hezb. is doing in South Beirut

Ghassan Darwish is supervising the erection of dozens of red banners, in English and Arabic over the huge piles of debris left by the air raids.

They carry sardonic messages like "Made in the US", "The New Middle East", "Smart bombs for stupid minds" and "Extremely precise target".
(From the BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/5262832.stm)

Pretty sophisticated and uses messages that will find a willing audience in the Arab world - and beyond. It's also light years away from the cartoonish slogans (often in bad English) and images extremist groups have used in the region up to now

Posted by: Dirk at August 18, 2006 09:46 AM

Michael:
Hezbollah gets to decide whether there is war again. If the UNIFIL forces arrive Israel will leave Lebanon. If Nassrallah is smart he will stick to rebuilding and not start on the offensive again against Israel. If there is a rocket or missle launch or a suicide bombing out of Lebanon then Israel will give UNIFIL a few days to leave(and they will skedaddle) and then this time it will be total war without restrictions and it will be ugly and brutal. Anything is possible but I am not optimistic.

Posted by: kevin peters at August 18, 2006 10:00 AM

Michael,

It seems to me Hizbullah fired rockets at Kiryat Shemona and other Israeli towns and villages for the same reason Israel bombed Beirut and other Lebanese towns and villages - to punish the civilian population.

While there may have been weapons stored in civilian buildings in Lebanon, the same can be said to a lesser extent in Israel. Many of the northern Israeli villages had become staging areas for the Israeli military. I've read many reports, including yours, of Israeli soldiers sheltering in civilian houses, and artillery firing from positions next to civilian houses. But most importantly, there is little evidence that much of the Israeli bombing of Beirut or the southern towns and villages was specifically targeted at any known or suspected weapons caches or firing positions. The same can be said for the Hizbullah indiscriminate rockets aimed at Kiryat Shemona.

At best the Israelis were mainly bombing buildings which could have been used for storing weapons or sheltering soldiers. But any building could be so characterized. They admit they bombed the building in Qana because it fit the profile of a possible storage site (apparently because it was a large building), not because of any specific intelligence of weapons storage or that any rocket fire came from it's vicinity. Indeed Haaretz reported that no rocket fire originated from Qana that day.

There is an interesting blog by an Israeli soldier who fought in Lebanon, he reports seeing multiple Hizbullah rocket launches from brushed filled hillsides, not buildings in towns. This is consistent with other reports that Hizbullah fired from hidden bunkers located away from towns.

"In daylight hours, we peered out the kitchen window at a valley to the east of us and watched as volleys of Katyushas were launched from the brush into northern Israel to our south."

"If we saw a missile battery that was close enough, we crawled into the streets and fired our own rockets into the brush."

"Every so often a shell would strike something hidden amongst the trees and a secondary explosion would erupt and missiles would fly from the brush in all directions like fireworks on the fourth of July. The secondary explosions were identified by us, and by pilot-less aircraft patrolling the skies; we zeroed in, and F16s swooped in, dropping massive bombs. "

http://blogcentral.jpost.com/newsItems/viewFullItem$1183

The Israelis could not root out the Hizbullah fighters or military infrustructure by bombing civilian areas. They needed to go in and fight them on the ground. They weren't willing to risk the casualties that would have entailed. That is why they "lost" this war. Threatening to kill more civilians or flattening Lebanon in the "next go around" just shows the moral bankruptcy and cowardice of those who oppose Hizbullah.

You say another war is coming. Perhaps, but that will be at the initiative of Israel. They chose to use this Hizbullah border provocation as an opportunity to eliminate Hizbullah as a military deterrent asset of Iran in some coming confrontation, and because they wanted to "reestablish deterrence" vis a vis the Gaza problem and region. Read the the Haaretz interview with the head of military intelligence. He knew Hizbullah was committed to kidnapping Israeli soldiers to exchange for Lebanese prisoners (they'd tried 4 times in the past). He knew about the growth in Hizbullah rockets. He as much as admits they were looking for an excuse to strike.

But you are right to caution Hizbullah not to overplay its hand.

Posted by: chew2 at August 18, 2006 10:18 AM

To the idea that the MSM 'always supports the underdog', utter contempt.

The MSM, ever since Arafat was salvaged from North Africa and re-imposed on Palestine, has been cheerleading the Arab opponents of Israel. It is a case of herd mentality at its worst - there's no justification for this mendacious behavior, other than it's someone's party line.

The press shows no skepticism of their carefully guided tours of the 'victims' in Lebanese village - no concern for the exposure of photo-fakery in their articles - no recognition of the war crime of shooting rockets from Lebanese civilian areas to terrorize Israeli ones - but places the utmost faith in the oh-so-caring Hisbullah dispensers of Iranian funds for rebuilding. This is an organized propaganda campaign, and there aren't enough Michael Tottens yet to counteract it.

And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is suppressing letters to the editor which address these points.

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive at August 18, 2006 10:20 AM

Kevin, I agree, Hzb is going soak this up for a long time and not risk provoking the Israelis into another attack which Hzb might fail to repel.

Doc, fine postings. Agree the Israeli PR machine is pathetic. Tomax7's point that PR for Israel is like pissing into the ocean may be true in large swaths of the planet but there are still some minds that can be persuaded in the West.

Here's an example of weak Israeli PR. They continue to send out the same tired looking fossilized relics to speak in broken English on Western news shows. It's not the 70's. They need Western looking, Western sounding, preferably female babes to play David against Goliath on TV. Cynical yes, effective, yes.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 10:43 AM

I meant to add: To surrender the PR game is a sulking, defeatist, "poor me" attitude. Might as well strap on the lead boots.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 10:49 AM

Here's an example of weak Israeli PR. They continue to send out the same tired looking fossilized relics to speak in broken English on Western news shows. It's not the 70's. They need Western looking, Western sounding, preferably female babes to play David against Goliath on TV. Cynical yes, effective, yes.

Though he's clearly not a "babe", Mark Regev is pretty good. Does a good job of fielding the "why are you killing all these civilians" type questions that Israeli spokespeople get asked by TV channels here in Europe. Originally Australian so perfect English

Agree they need more of the same though: Spokespeople who sound like the viewers back home and have an insight into how the story is being played outside Israel.

Posted by: Dirk at August 18, 2006 11:05 AM

Creepy, creepy stuff.

Posted by: johnny Eck at August 18, 2006 11:15 AM

I don't know where you people have been getting your news and reading your op/eds, but from my vantage point, the western world is still quite convinced that Israel is the victim on all counts.

So I don't really get where everyone's arguing about this perception that Hezbollah is winning the PR war. Hezbollah probably raised their profile among people who were already fans (read Islamic types in the arab street) but aside from those folks, everyone is pretty much clearly in the Israeli camp.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 11:16 AM

Michael,

I know this might not be possible in the present, but it would be interesting to see your take on the destruction in South Lebanon, in a parallel to this write-up about Kiryat Shmona.

(i.e. an unbiased account that won't be accused of being a PR ploy for Hezballah)

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 11:22 AM

MJT, excuse me, but you excel in pontificating in this article. That 'Terrorist' word never stops, line after line, you keep using it like a typical LGFer or Bushco till you strip it of any value.

"But they cannot repel an invading army"

Are you serious?!
- Tactics that have kept the Middle East's most powerful army at bay

"They can only harass that army and kill a miniscule percentage of its soldiers and dent it by one tenth of one percent."
You're here just reiterating that IDF spokesman. But in reality, 117 soldiers were killed out of 10,000 participated in this war i.e. a 1% percent loos of IDF, which is grave loss according to that "spoksman"

Come over it Michael, if Hizbullah is terrorist, then IDF is simply ITF (Israeli Terror Forces)

Posted by: AR at August 18, 2006 11:27 AM

Nassrallah is smart he will stick to rebuilding and not start on the offensive again against Israel.

Kevin, you may be suruprised, but israel always starts the offensive. Yet you will only hear about Hzb offensive in the US MSM.
When israel makes a slight offense (injuring or killing one civilian), expect that Angelina Jolie story all over the headlines.
Take it from someone who knows very well what's going on in South Lebanon.

Posted by: AR at August 18, 2006 11:40 AM

bad vilbel: Everyone is clearly in the Israeli camp

Well, ok, people tend to see what they want to see.

I'd argue what constitutes anti-Israeli bias from the MSM is: no discussion of what Hzb really stands for, no discussion of what a society with Hzb in charge would look like, virtually no coverage of previous bloody deeds like the 1995 murder of 85 Jews in Brazil, Muslim Africans in embassy bombings, US marines and French peacekeepers (remember that one). A lack of emphasis on Nasrallahs genicidal rantings, the Hzb production and broadcast to millions of viewers via satellite of ferociously ant-Semetic lies etc. etc.

I mean how about at least a little sampling of al-Manar spewings from the MSM to see what Hzb stands for other than "resistance". It's via satellite, it shouldn't be that hard to pick up. The MSM is so timid they have convinced themselves that demonstrating the racist core of an ideology is itself racist and so they won't go there. It's the ultimate multiculti claptrap.
Instead we are bombarded with pictures and stories of their social work. Barf.

In my eyes that's bias.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 11:55 AM

MJT, excuse me, but you excel in pontificating in this article. That 'Terrorist' word never stops, line after line, you keep using it like a typical LGFer or Bushco till you strip it of any value.

If a word is used correctly, i.e. if it is used to properly identify something, it is not "stripped of any value" no matter how many times it is used.

Come over it Michael, if Hizbullah is terrorist, then IDF is simply ITF (Israeli Terror Forces)

Do you have anything to support this assertion? Are we supposed to believe it merely because you say it is true?

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 18, 2006 11:59 AM

Looking around at all my favorite blogs, Michael seems to be one of the few whom I can agree with on the results of this recent war, probably because unlike most he understands the complexities within Lebanon, and subsequently how that unrolls in regards to Israel.

I have pages worth of strategic analysis on my blog hashmonean.com if anyone is interested in seeing more of what really happened in Lebanon.

Mr. Totten, please keep up the good work because much of the 'narrative' as it is called never came out during this difficult conflict.

Posted by: saus at August 18, 2006 12:04 PM

AR, give the "American MSN" claptrap (word of the day!) a rest. It's 2006, have you heard of the internet. I read the BBC, the Guardian and Irish Times every day. While there is certainly a different bias than American MSN, the main stories are generally the same and much of it comes from the same news gathering agencies (AP, Reuters, AFP).

The problem with your assertion - 'Americans get a completely different(false) version of the news then the rest of the world' - is this: It's demonstrably false by spending 1 hour on the internet.

Now if your referring to non-Western news sources than all I can say is, right back at ya.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 12:08 PM

As to Hezbollah's military tactics defeating the IDF, there's a very ancient military tactic that the IDF could have used to maximum effect. The siege. Impossible, of course, in today's geopolitical climate of putting out small fires without taking away the matches from the fire starters. But given x number of days and months without food and water (yes, they would have stored such things, but all things eventually run out) the IDF could have simply destroyed the tunnels and stored ordnance with minimal or no resistance. So much for the brilliant military tactics of digging tunnels and embedding with civilians. Rope-a-dope only works if the opponent keeps flailing without doing any real damage. All the IDF had to do was stop flailing, and then just sit and wait. Never happen in this day and age, but still.

Posted by: allan at August 18, 2006 12:18 PM

Michael,

You could consider the cluster bombs the "accurate" Israeli artillery fired into town across south Lebanon "terrorist" weapons.

The unexploded bomblets are active for years and tend to kill children...and already have:

UN officials reported yesterday that two children were killed by a cluster bomb explosion in the town of Naqoura.

http://tinyurl.com/o5xnv

Cluster bombs and mines, which remain deadly long after the shooting war ends, are not the weapons of "humanitarians."

The U.S. lost a soldier to a Soviet-era mine in Afghanistan a few days ago:

http://tinyurl.com/odguw

One of Hezbollah's requests was for a map that shows the locations of all the mines Israel scattered across south Lebanon the last time they invaded that country...

Sounds like a reasonable request to me...why won't Israel give it to them?

Posted by: monkyboy at August 18, 2006 12:35 PM

Are there giant Katyushas and little Katyushas? Your "War Warps the Mind a Little" entry had a huge hillside excavation across the valley and your "The Storm Before the Calm" entry shows a large water hole in the rock, overgrown with vegetation.
But when I looked in Google Images for Katyusha craters I only found one small hole, not quite big enough for the man in the picture to curl up in (click on "rocket landed"):
http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9604/24/christopher.update/index.html
The pictures of Katyushas themselves all seem to show skinny rockets maybe two or three meters in length, not big enough to make much of a crater.
Those images and your pictures here seem inconsistent with your previous gigantic impact craters.
Wikipedia seems to be down right now. I did find some more info, with a picture comparing sizes and payloads of various Iranian rockets: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/weapons/q0279.shtml

Posted by: lark at August 18, 2006 12:37 PM

Joe Marino 11:55
I have to agree with you on this. I see a lot of MSM coverage that is innacurate and incomplete. If it were'nt for the many blogs and links I read I would not have much of a grasp on the situation. What passes for 'reporting' and 'news' is underwhelming. According to most of what I have heard and seen in the MSM HB won and IDF started the whole thing. Hmmmm, not so sure about that!
Also, and sorry if this is off topic, but I have a question for MJT,BV,KP,JM, whomever of you feels like answering:
What of the idea that this cease fire is possibly a UN/US constructed delay tactic to run the clock out on Irans 8/22 deadline?
I am actually looking for info, not a psychotic rant, no TROLLS need reply.
Thanks!
-L

Oh, Great stuff MJT!! Keep it up!

Posted by: Lindsey at August 18, 2006 01:05 PM

Here comes Monkeyboy again, spouting about the reasonable requests of Hizbollah.

Another reasonable request Hzb had was for all the Jews to die.

Sounds easy, doesn't it monkeyboy?

I hope your beloved Hzb tries again, I will be there waiting.

Posted by: boymonkey at August 18, 2006 01:11 PM

Joe Marino,

I don't know what MSM channels you're watching. I have not once heard Hezbollah referred to as "resistance" on CNN, Foxnews, NPR or any of those. They are referred to as terrorists.
Everyone has also been very clear about who started this: Hezbollah, by abducting 2 israeli soldiers. Show me one news article in the west that denies that or offers an alternate.
The views of hezbollah have been described, and often. Every newscast mentions something to the effect of "Hezbollah, who refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, ... so on and so forth"

Yes, The MSM publicizes Qana a lot, as they did with stories of blind missiles falling on Haifa and Northern Israel. They do that. Anytime the MSM can play off the human angle, they do. It's the sensationlist crap that sells and gets ratings. Look at the Jon Benet coverage all over the place now. Anything sordid, anything with dead children...and they're all over it like flies on jelly.

But that aside, I honestly do not see any ACTUAL pro-hezbollah or anti-Israel bias to speak of.

Note: I am speaking of the western media here. Al Manar, Al-Jazeera and those guys are a COMPLETELY different story.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 01:25 PM

Sidenote:

I do not mean to be claiming that the MSM reports things that well. I am often critical of their sensationalist approach and as someone mentioned, spending one hour on the internet is enough to give anyone who's a bit curious a good sampling of the stories that are out there, without having to rely on Anderson Cooper or Sheppard Smith (hehehe).

What I'm tired of though, is this notion that anytime a news story critcizes Israel, it is deemed anti-semite and anti-Israeli (for instance the BBC and Guardian have been called that repeatedly by Israeli bloggers).
It IS possible to be critical of Israel while still being anti-Hezbollah. No?
The real world is not all black and white. President Bush's "You're with us or against us" is the stuff of Hollywood movies, not the real world we live in.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 01:32 PM

Not that there's much point in responding to monkyboy, but in answer to a question as to why Israel won't give maps of landmine locations to Hezbollah:

1. They're still at war. This is a temporary cease fire, not any kind of lasting peace.
2. Hezbollah doesn't own the territory, Lebanon does.
3. Lebanon is not upholding its sovereign requirements vis-a-vis criminals attacking from their soil, so Israel isn't required to give them maps of landmine locations.

When Hezbollah takes over the Lebanese government and changes the name of the country, then they can attempt to negotiate for that information from Israel.

Posted by: luagha at August 18, 2006 01:52 PM

BV,
I agree that it is ridiculous to grant total immunity from criticism to Israel, and having a valid argument against their actions should not provoke screams of anti-semitism as we have seen on this site and others I find you on. But I was not pleased with much of the slanted reporting I saw and heard in past weeks, even on NPR, my old favorite. It seems to reflect a certain tendency to shine a spotlight on the tragedies without a lot of backround info. In the 3-30 minute stories and intervews I have heard much more balanced information, but the 30 second ones are pretty lacking, and Americans have very short attention spans. Of course sensationalism sells, and there was a lot of provocative (and often repugnant) imagery coming out of Lebanon, not so much from Israel. I thought I detected a certain spin that Israel was a bully rather than HB was offensively incompetent(unguided missle bombardment), and defensively criminal(hiding in civilian populations).
In the last few days I have been more pleased with the depth of the interviews.
Thats my little opinion anyway....I could be wrong.

Posted by: Lindsey at August 18, 2006 02:19 PM

The real world is not all black and white.--BV

Ummm, sometimes it really is. There is of course always a question as to whether any given situation should fall into that clarifying reality, but truly sometimes things are just simply black vs white. The 'modern' illusion that reality is otherwise is in fact more than half of the problem in dealing with 'militants'.

The more the 'less than white' collective keeps doing its thing the more 'clarified' the situation will become.

Hasten the day. Hasten the day.

Posted by: dougf at August 18, 2006 02:27 PM

dougf,

No. It really isn't :)

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 02:29 PM

Totten

You must be reporting from a parallel universe. All the news report that i've read is that the resistance held their ground. The Israeli terrorists were not able to significantly penetrate past the border villages.

See what a difference a point of view makes.
I guess you are prouder of the IAF's damage to Lebanon's infrastructure which was done with precision bombing- ie the oil slick, the dead children, the dairy farm than HA's rocketing of the Haifa's port.

I hope all Arabs can read this article and see you for your true colors as an Israeli apologist.

Cheers.

Posted by: Will at August 18, 2006 03:02 PM

You could consider the cluster bombs the "accurate" Israeli artillery fired into town across south Lebanon "terrorist" weapons.

You could, but only if you're a fool. Of course they can be used as terror weapons, but they are also the standard tool for artillery surpression.

If your target is unarmored rocket launchers or field guns, cluster munitions are your weapon of choice because they effectively cover an area and have a high chance of damaging or destroying the hardware and killing the personnel.

Unfortunately, they have their darker side:

The unexploded bomblets are active for years and tend to kill children...and already have:

UN officials reported yesterday that two children were killed by a cluster bomb explosion in the town of Naqoura.

This is very true, and yet another reason why Hezbollah should be held accountable for war crimes for its deliberate siting of launchers and support units among civilian populations.

Cluster bombs and mines, which remain deadly long after the shooting war ends, are not the weapons of "humanitarians."

No, they are the weapons of effective militaries, charged with the defense of their population, not the defense of the other sides' forced human shields. That's why using people as human shields is a war crime, and targeting the weapons protected by them is not.

In short, take your outrage to those responsible: Hezbollah.

Posted by: Dwight in IL at August 18, 2006 03:10 PM

Badvilbel I’ll concede a bit.

Hzb are usually referred to as terrorists. That they initiated this conflict is widely reported as well, but it is frequently watered down to “kidnapped two Israeli soldiers” - like you just did. And hey, look at this "disproportionate response, disproportionate response, disproportionate response". "Ceasefire, ceasefire". "You lose".

Resistance: Well not by the MSM directly but their apologists are given loads of air time to spout this rubbish in the interest of “balanced” reporting. I’d prefer the truth, which is not always somewhere in the middle.

Al-Manar: I did not hear one mention of the grossly anti-Semitic 10 part mini- series produced by Hzb based on the Protocols of Zion and broadcast to millions of Arabs via satellite during Ramadan for maximum effect. Al-Manar is the Mein Kampf of our times. Why is everyone afraid to go there?

Qana: Initial reports and pics made the front page of over 400 major newspapers world wide. The modified body count down by 50%. Why not ask why it was inflated? Bias? Fear of being killed by Hzb? Laziness? How many people still believe there was a massacre in Jenin? Even the PA conceded the body count was 55 or so and not the 500 number splashed all over the globe. Hard to get that hoax corrected.

Ok, I’ll also concede that much of this is a function of laziness, stupidity and the financial incentives you mention.
But this is all really nitpicking and I’m sure you can come back with this and that. What bugs me is this cult of 'balanced reporting' – listening to both sides of the story as if they are equally valid.

The Israelis, despite their flaws are a liberal democratic society and like the West are inheritors of the French and English enlightenments. Hzb is demonstrably a hyper-racist organization, unapologetic in stating their gruesome goals. I don’t want to understand this. I don’t want to give them a fair hearing. Western multi-cultural cultists would never give Neo-Nazis in Germany a fair hearing and every time someone defends Hzb in the MSM or on a blog there is one less person denouncing them as we all must.

And in my view it’s anti-Arab racism in that we have such low expectations of these people that we excuse their ideology in the sense of fairness and understanding. (Sorry, I know I slanted off your point quite a bit - no need to point this out)

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 03:10 PM

No. It really isn't :)--BV

Is too. Is too. ----- :-)

Sorry I just could not resist. Agree or not you ALWAYS come up with something interesting and rational. That is no small feat. Take care,

Posted by: dougf at August 18, 2006 03:16 PM

My second (and last allowed comment) for this thread...

Michael Totten wrote:

Rockets rained down on Kiryat Shmona almost constantly. There were no soldiers, no tanks, no artillery cannons, no bases, nothing of military value in that city at all.

I politely say...I think you are wrong.

If you go to Fox News reporter Jeff Goldblatt's "Reporter's Notebook" located here:

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,207288,00.html

You find this entry for August 9th:

Last night, my crew found itself in an unusual traffic jam. Instead of being slowed by a stalled car or a jackknifed truck, we found ourselves braking for a line of Israeli Mercova tanks.

And if you click on the video button and watch the video entitled Jeff Goldblatt: Katyusha Attacks

And go to 11:29 on the counter (it counts down), you see the cameraman cover the lens of the camera with his hand as he pans the camera to show a strike while Jeff Goldblatt says:

We are gonna cover the camera right now just briefly for our own safety because we are close to Israeli military assets

Another camera then shows a bunch of M109 howitzers firing back from the city...

Sure looks to me like:

Kiryat Shmona was crawling with the IDF.

Hezbollah was firing their Katyushas in barrages at a reasonably close range.

As I am forbidden by Michael to post again in this thread, feel free to take shots at me and my posts knowing you will be safe from any counter arguments...spin away :)

Posted by: monkyboy at August 18, 2006 04:11 PM

To give monkeyboy his due, if Kiryat Shmona was a staging area for military forces, or a firebase for the IDF artillery, then certainly salvos of Katyushas firing at the city during those periods would be legitimately engaging military targets.

Almost certainly inaccurately and ineffectively engaging them, but engaging them nonetheless.

But what about the constant bombardment of the city throughout the rest of the period? Were there always IDF assets there? I mean this as an honest question. If there was an IDF artillery position near the city, given the inaccuracy of Katyushas, then the bombardment might indeed have been aimed at legitimate targets (just not very well).

None of this excuses the bombardment of Haifa or numerous other areas which were not staging areas, however.

Finally, I don't recall Hezbollah spokesmen or supporters even claiming to be limiting their fire to military targets. As far as I could tell they were proudly indicating that they would strike at anyone they could. Certainly the celebratory footage run on Palestinian TV seemed to celebrate civilian misery and death...

(PS. On banning monkeyboy. I certainly don't have any right to suggest to MJT whether to ban or not, but I'd say as long as monkeyboy makes factual arguments and provides citations he's not really a troll. You can be annoying and opinionated without being a troll, after all.)

Posted by: Dwight in IL at August 18, 2006 04:34 PM

Joe Marino & Dougf,

I know my post took us somewhat off track. That was not really my intent. I, for one, appreciate MJT's reporting because he does tend to state whatever facts he comes across, regardless of who it implicates or criticize.

I also did not try to imply that "balanced reporting" needs to be equally apologistic to both sides. In fact, "balance" is a bad word here, because it implies just that. I think the words "fair" and "accurate" are a lot more appropriate.
Reporting simply needs to stir away from the sensationlism exhibited in the MSM and stick to the facts on the ground as a first step (if it's a news story) and possibly analysis of the causes and consequences of said facts (if it's an op/ed piece).

We both know the MSM in the US does neither of those and just goes after what they deem has the most shock value. And that is neither here nor there. Which is why those of us with more than 2 braincells tend to get our news elsewhere.

I guess my main point here is not that this side or that side is being misrepresented or apologized for. My main point here is that people need to get past the conspiracy theories (Sometimes it reads as such) about the media. Every Israeli blog I've read is convinced the MSM is pro-Hizballah (eyeroll) and that there is this massive conspiracy to make Israel look like a monster.
Vice verca, every arab Joe or Jane Doe is convinced that CNN is a tool of the "zionists" and is out there to cover up Israel's crimes.

I simply think BOTH those statements are ridiculously wrong. That's all.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 04:39 PM

Monkeyboy and Chew2 seem to believe that Israel purposely killed lots of civilians, that the rockets were all in the countryside, and that Hizbollah won.

Well, I could point out that if Israel was intent on exterminating the Lebanese the death count would easily be in the hundreds of thousands. I could point out that, despite Chew's apologetics about Hezbollah's depradations, that none of this would have occurred were it not for their incessant arms buildup and continuous probing attacks. I could point out that the existance of launchers in the countryside does not rule out launchers in the towns as well. But I don't accept the entire moral framework that you guys are trying to build so I don't think it wise to even make those defenses any more.

Instead, let's stop dancing around the brutality of war: the fact is that lots of people were killed by Israeli attacks. But, what do we now hear from Hezbollah? They are claiming victory and much of the Islamic world is cheering them on! Thus, Chew and MonkeyBoy are in the odd position of claiming that Israel was far too brutal in its defense AND that, despite their overwhelming superiority of arms, they lost anyway.

This makes no sense: since no outside force intervened to physically stop Israel in these attacks, doesn't their defeat make it obvious that they did not pursue their own defense with enough brutality? Well, there is the key. If Israel is always the oppressor, always the aggressor, and always the stronger party as Arab partisan's argue, why do Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. all just keep coming back stronger?

The truth is that the only reason that this conflict has gone on for so long is that Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. have never truly felt defeated (the same being true of the Iraqi opposition).

Try a little thought experiment: imagine that Israel had truly finished the 67 war. Think what the world would be like if they had driven the Arabs weeping and gnashing their teeth from the occupied territories, reduced Amman, Cairo and Damascus to burnt-out hulks and defiantly claimed their readiness to kill anyone who ever tried such an attack again. Had this happened, would we even be having this discussion today? Or would they be treated more like victors after WWII or, at worst, like the Chinese after their conquest of Nepal?

I think that the Jewish state has never really faced squarely the evil intent in the hearts of those who scream for a new Jewish genocide. By their own tentativeness and fuzzy-headed humanism, Israel has enmeshed itself in an eternal war in which, eventually, the total dead will far surpass the numbers that would have sufficed in '67.

I do not celebrate violence - FAR from it. But it seems to me that the only long-term way to stop the violence is for it to be prosecuted until Israel's opponents admit to total defeat and, laying prostrate, beg for surrender. Peace terms include the utter abandonment of their war-making capacity, cleansing their schoolbooks and political propaganda of anti-semitic filth and an end to the madness of raising children to be suicide bombers.

Maybe then, chastened though they may be by defeat, Israel's neighbors would get on with their lives and actually build a decent, civilized society. And that, my friends, would be good for Arabs, Persians and Israelis.

Posted by: Wildmonk at August 18, 2006 04:39 PM

Oh yeah, to stay on topic: Monkyboy...What does it really matter if there were IDF tanks in Kiryat Shmona? (Of course there would be, since it's a town near the border, during an invasion)
Hizballah were firing their rockets all over the place, Haifa, Kiryat Shmona, and anywhere else.
That SOME of their rockets MIGHT have been aimed at the IDF (which would make sense) still does not hide the fact that the overall idea was to inflict damage and cause terror on Israel as a whole (civilian and military). Nasrallah himself said as much during his warnings to the arab population of Haifa.

So don't waste your time arguing this point, or replying to my post. Just move on and make some more relevant arguments (there are plenty to be made without looking a fool).

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 18, 2006 04:42 PM

You say that Hezbollah has killed 'only' 0.1% of the Israeli army. Hezbollah has killed around 100 soldiers, yes, but on the 10 000-15000 that were deployed in Lebanon, and they did that in approximately two weeks. Annualize the rate and you'll see that they weren't so innefective. And the Israeli army didn't even stretch on a large area, which would have made it even more vulnerable.

I don't like Hezbollah, I don't think that this conflict was a victory for Lebanon or for Hezbollah but I don't think that this was a conflict for Israel either. To say that Hezbollah didn't manage well militarily is wishful thinking. Israel says that this war went as planned, but you don't sideline the army's chief of staff in the middle of a war when everything goes as planned.

Posted by: ex montreal at August 18, 2006 05:02 PM

Monkeyboy,

By calling them terrorist weapons, you imply that the purpose of undetonated cluster ordinance is to lie in wait and kill innocent bystanders. The purpose of cluster munitions is to cover a broad area, and all bomblets in a shell are meant to explode upon first use. The fact that they don't can't be attributed to malicious intent on the part of the user.

Cluster bombs and mines, which remain deadly long after the shooting war ends, are not the weapons of "humanitarians."

Sloppy rhetoric. Intent matters. The hands that wield the weapons, and the mentality and worldview of the people behind the hands determine whether the overall goal that encompasses the use of the weapon is humanitarian or not. Plus, the mere fact that one side doesn't have them doesn't mean they wouldn't use them if they had the chance; it's not some sense of moral fastidiousness that keeps Hezbollah from having cluster munitions, it's mere opportunity (I can't speak to mines; anyone know if Hezbollah has and uses those?).

"One of Hezbollah's requests was for a map that shows the locations of all the mines Israel scattered across south Lebanon the last time they invaded that country...

Sounds like a reasonable request to me...why won't Israel give it to them?"

I think it's fair too... once Hezbollah quid pro quo's and gives them the locations of all their rocket launchers. And gives Israel reason to think they won't need those mines to keep them out.

Posted by: ElMondoHummus at August 18, 2006 06:06 PM

Thank you for the great post, Michael.

I appreciate the comments, too. For example, the percentage of deployed Israeli soldiers killed seems to have been corrected from a "someone said to" estimate to factual data. It appears to me that Michael did not have the factual data, did the best he could, and has been corrected. The process could have been more polite, but was not very impolite.

(Alternately, maybe the old estimate was about active duty Israeli soldiers rather than actually deployed soldiers. That would also explain the difference, but I do not know the active duty number to check this guess. I also do not know of it would be appropriate to call all of Hezbollah "active duty" rather than "deployed" during the recent fighting to make such a comparison.)

I guess I'm saying that people are often ignorant of facts, especially during wartime. This group seems to realize that someone who disagrees with them may be uninformed or discussing something else, rather than cunning and malevolent.

Also, I'm new to the controversy about monkyboy, but at least in this post he presents more facts than opinions, provides references for his facts, and is more polite than at least one person who responded to him. Part of me thinks that two replies per post seems about all I would want to read from anyone besides Michael (it is his blog after all, and we can always link to a blog of our own asking people to continue an old post's discussion there), so please take this paragraph simply as thanking him for contributing to today's discussion and not as criticism of Michael's role as moderator.

Posted by: David V.S. at August 18, 2006 06:20 PM

Finally I don't recall Hzb spokesman even claim to be limiting their fire to military targets.Dwight in Ill
That’s so true, and exposes the rot that is at the core of terrorist apologists. I recall an online debate I was having some lad and I referred to someone as a Communist. He immediately accused me of McCarthyism. The guy I called a Communist was the head of the Communist party in France!

I can’t even call the guy what he wants to be called without be accused of being some right wing nut.

It’s too funny sometimes. Libs don’t even allow the people they are defending credit for their own thoughts. How dehumanizing is that?

Goes back to my charge that the apologists are guilty of at least condescending (maybe worse) to Arabs/Persians by attributing all their thoughts and reactions to us.

Terrorist: "We are going to kill all the Jews because they are pigs and monkeys and it says so in the Quran"

Apolgist: "Oh no,no, no ... you don’t really mean that - you mean this ...blah, blah, blah.

Posted by: Joe Marino at August 18, 2006 06:39 PM

And as we are all (rightfully) piling on Monkyboy, Chew2 (and also Will), their careful depictions of Israeli brutality and 1,000 or so "civilan" deaths is a bit excessive when compared to the 17,776 Iraqis killed between January and July of this year alone in sectarian violence:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0608160188aug16,1,2571955.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

A wee bit more than Israel's "Disproportionate Response", dont'cha think? And before Monkyboy jumps in (whenever he's next allowed to) and says something along the lines of "This all is Bushie's fault", I guess if not for Rumsfeld hanging out with Saddam back in the 80s, there wouldn't have been 1 million all-Muslim, all-the-time deaths in the Iran/Iraq war:

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

... which included extensive chemical weapon use, by the way. And, to bring it a bit closer to MJT's heart, how about the 100,000 dead and 100,000 wounded in the Lebanese Civil War, with Christians, Sunnis, Druze and the Nasrallites, er, Shi'ites all going at it:

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

Can't forget Darfur either. And that's the biggest joke in all of this. Israel gets so much MSM pub because it's the home of The Chosen People / The Zionist Entity (depending on your POV). If there were no Jews in the ME, there would probably not be too many Muslims left, either, because they probably would have obliterated each other by now. Hopefully there would be some Sufis left because they're kinda cool and moderate.

Now, which is the warmongering people again, Monkyboy, Chew2 and Will?

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 18, 2006 06:51 PM

If Hizb'allah is not disarmed, and all indications are that they will not be, then the lesson taken from the war will be that hiding among civilians and randomly killing enemy civilians as a deliberate strategy is acceptable.

Can anyone find the slightest evidence that these strategies have ever been anything but completely accepted by Muslims?

Perhaps you're projecting our values on a society that doesn't share them at all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 18, 2006 10:53 PM

Can anyone find the slightest evidence that these strategies have ever been anything but completely accepted by Muslims?

Dunno if that's entirely fair, hiding among civilians is basically the definitive guerilla tactic. While most of the people using it these days are muslims, it is a long way from being exclusive to muslims.

Perhaps you're projecting our values on a society that doesn't share them at all.

I would modify the statement slightly- ...the lesson taken from the war will be that hiding among civilians and randomly killing enemy civilians as a deliberate strategy works.

Of course, the reason it works is because western militaries try to avoid civilian casualties. That's not going to be the case indefinitely.

Posted by: rosignol at August 18, 2006 11:11 PM

Can anyone find the slightest evidence that these strategies have ever been anything but completely accepted by Muslims?

VietNam - Viennese / Viacom Who was Who

Posted by: J.Fly at August 19, 2006 12:29 AM

Monkyboy you have to go through Kiryat Shmona to get to the border. That's why the tanks were there. They were on their way into Lebanon.

You don't know anything about what you're talking about, I'm tired of you carrying water for terrorists, and everyone else is tired of you hogging the comments section with juvenile posts.

You're banned, finally. Goodbye.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2006 03:14 AM

http://www.etymos.com/

Interesting photos contesting the claim there is no IDF presence near Kiryat Shmona . Supposedly from AP images taken on July 17, but granted they do look a bit too peaceful, so I will leave it up to anyone who wants to verify their authenticity or not, or just write it off as more propaganda.

Kiryat Shmona is a border town, only 1 1/2 miles from the border, at what seems Israels northern most point, and lies between Lebanon and Hezbollah positions and the occupied Shebaa farms as well as IDF positions in Israel (wherever they may be if not located near Kiryat Shmona). Understand that israeli censorship may prohibit you from commenting where IDF is located. But given the towns location it is not surprising that they would be caught in the crossfire, if not be targeted, given a presumed proximity of IDF forces nearby . While the rockets being fired are not very accurate, it is all they have. Israel on the other hand has precision guided munitions.

Again, I do not mean to be a Hezbollah apologist, but we have enough biased reporting coming from the area already, so it would be nice to see more objective reporting (but then I guess you would not be treated so nicely in Israel).

Posted by: Paul Todd at August 19, 2006 03:47 AM

Paul,

Kiryat Shmona was not in the crossfire. It was behind the IDF positions. All tanks and artillery cannons were north of the city near Metulla, a town which was (I think) never hit once.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2006 04:13 AM

Totten says

" Hassan Nasrallah’s “martyrs” can terrorize Israel. But they cannot repel an invading army. They can only harass that army and kill a miniscule percentage of its soldiers and dent it by one tenth of one percent "

But the villages of Maroun al Ras, Bint al Jbayl, Bayt at Chaab have proved to be the equivalent of Stalingrad for the Israelis. Another Thermopylae for World History. Partime village militamen holding out against the Israeli Waffen SS.

The IDF could not prevail in taking border villages right across the border in a whole month, but had to keep on retaking them.

Posted by: Will at August 19, 2006 04:42 AM

With all the talk of the Israeli "defeat", one point which I have never seen addressed is why the U.S. decided to slam the door shut when it did. Only two days before the announcement of the ceasefire, Israel had approved a major expansion of the war, with the goal of conquering all territory south of the Litani River, including Tyre. The U.S. had been holding off a U.N. ceasefire for weeks, presumably they could have continued to do so. So why the apparently sudden about face? Wasn't it clear that the results of the war were as yet inadequate? Were they tired of Olmert's dithering? Was it a face-saving device for Israel, which knew it couldn't continue without unacceptable casualties? Had pressure within the U.N. for a ceasefire become too intense for the U.S. to bear (doubtful)?

I'm surprised that I haven't seen any discussion of this issue anywhere.

Posted by: markc at August 19, 2006 04:49 AM

wildmonk said:

But it seems to me that the only long-term way to stop the violence is for it to be prosecuted until Israel's opponents admit to total defeat and, laying prostrate, beg for surrender. Peace terms include the utter abandonment of their war-making capacity, cleansing their schoolbooks and political propaganda of anti-semitic filth and an end to the madness of raising children to be suicide bombers.

Exactly. The question is whether or not Israel has the military resources to do this to all of her enemies. I don’t know whether or not she does. America, however, clearly has the resources to do this to our enemies -- and we should do so. We must teach the Islamic totalitarians a lesson: namely, that those who initiate the use of force against America or her allies will be utterly annihilated, civilian casualties be damned.

Today, of course, the American government is immorally teaching the opposite lesson: namely, that initiating force in the form of terrorism works -- that it wins concessions from the west. Hizbullah, who initiated this conflict, wins de facto recognition as a legitimate political entity whose approval was required to reach a cease-fire agreement at the United Nations. Iran, who supplied the bulk of the missiles used by Hizbullah, is being courted with a package of “incentives” in exchange for the unverifiable promise not to develop nuclear weapons. Etc, etc. ad nauseam.

Posted by: Michael Smith at August 19, 2006 06:23 AM

It's a shame that Will chooses to discredit himself with the "Waffen SS" epithet, as gratuitous as it is, by now, boring and predictable.

Calling this war a thermopylae for world history is a joke. It will be a tiny footnote to the next war. Nor does it avail to characterize Hezbollah as "part-time village militiamen", as though they were poorly armed, poorly trained heroes prevailing by valor alone. They were armed with the most technologically advanced weapons available to modern armies, specifically, Russian anti-tank missiles, which wreaked the most havoc on the Israeli forces.

One historian made the interesting observation that it was also Russian anti-tank weapons that wreaked the most death and destruction on Israeli forces during the Yom Kippur War.

Posted by: markc at August 19, 2006 07:03 AM

Consider this a track back:

A Shorter Aftermath

Posted by: M. Simon at August 19, 2006 07:27 AM

Michael - thank you for your wonderfully insightful and unbiased reports. I wish major media was just as professional as you are in handling this subject. -- Sasha

Posted by: Alexander L. Belikoff at August 19, 2006 08:31 AM

I'm tired of this "exclusive to muslims" labeling.

  • The vietnam war involved both "terror attacks" (guys on motorbikes tossing bombs in marketplaces) and guerillas hiding in civilian villages.
  • The IRA is/was a terror organization that blew up civilians in Northern Ireland and various times in England proper, in addition to hiding among civilians.
  • Most rebel movements in Central America, including several that were supported by the US in the 80s (The Contra, for example), hid routinely among civilians, and resorted to terror tactics such as taking entire villages hostage and summarily executing people.

I can keep on going, but i think you get the idea.
Ok, so Hezbollah are terrorists. We all agree on that (except a few nutjobs). Can we stop acting as if they are the ONLY terrorists that ever existed? Can we stop acting as if muslims invented all this stuff? They didn't. Grow up.

(Sorry, had to vent)

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 19, 2006 09:36 AM

bad vilbel,

I'm tired of this "exclusive to muslims" labeling.

It is "exclusive to muslims" in these times, not in history, i.e. we do NOT hear 'terrorism' associated with Americans or Israelis!

Ok, so Hezbollah are terrorists...

If Hzb is terrorist then IDF is also a terrorist army with multiplied magnitudes.

Posted by: AR at August 19, 2006 02:14 PM

Uhm, I didn't say say a single word about "exclusive to Muslims"... I asked a question and the response seems to be to change the subject and pretend a different question.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 19, 2006 05:35 PM

So, since the only answers have been attempts to change the subject or claim that the question isn't nice, I'm guessing that the correct answer is "No".

That is, no one here has the slightest evidence that these strategies have ever been anything but completely accepted by Muslims.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 19, 2006 05:38 PM

I love the comment section here. I always learn alot without having much to offer myself. I do want to offer a bit of info on the 'cluster munitions' some people were talking about. A former arillery guy has this to say:

"Bad decision on the part of whoever made the call to shoot DPICM. If you are shooting DPICM, you are automatically creating a low-density minefield, due to the dud rate (officially 2-4% depending on the conditions in the target area) of the submunition." Link

Posted by: Dawnsblood at August 19, 2006 07:08 PM

Mike,

Now that you've banned monkyboy,

when are you going to ban large numbers of people on here advocating that next time Israel should let Yehuvah sort out the terrorists and civilians with indiscriminate ordinance next time? Michael Smith would be a good start.

My opinions are not eye to eye with Monkeyboy's - but you're nudging your blog towards becoming just another cute little echo chamber of simpleminded militarist solutions and predictions of the apocalypse. I would rather not believe that you're shooting for that. There's plenty of those. You won't stand out.

John Stuart Mill once argued, I'm paraphrasing, that good ideas can only be kept safe through the total absence of censorship, through unlimited testing in free debate against complementary, oppositional, and plain wrong alternatives.

Without making any definitive moral judgements about the war, you should be, and I assume are, aware that you have captured only the side of the war that reinforces the pre-existing sympathies and prejuidices of your audience. I take your banning of monkeyboy as a sign that those who might, frankly, blame Israel - irregardless of whether or not they also blame Hizballah - for this conflict in some way or extent -
are not welcome here.

I like your pictures and all, and appreciate your bravery, but textural detail and personal touch don't tell me anything irreplacable. Open debate is irreplacable.

Most of your Lebanese friends have already stopped coming around to this comments section. Can't say I blame them. You'd be better off removing the comments section entirely than doing what you did.

I'm sorry if this pisses you off, but I'm only being so open because you've mostly come off as a genuinely open-minded guy to me. You've made a mistake to ban Monkyboy just because his point of view is unpopular. His assertions, when they are untrue, can be debated in the marketplace of ideas. That ought to be good enough. It's been good enough for free societies for most of civilization.

Sadly,
glasnost

Posted by: glasnost at August 19, 2006 09:16 PM

The problem with mb isn't his politics, its that his ignorance is only matched by his self-satisfaction. If he's less of a troll than some, it's only because he's been banned from so many blogs that he's been forced to tone it down slightly.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 19, 2006 09:25 PM

Michael,
Thanks for the great reporting and context.

Re the "next time," you were there and I was not, but I can't see how the next war will finally be the terrible (and necessary) war that you speak of. If Israel had the political will to destroy Hezbollah, why didn't they just do it when they had the chance?

They're losing ground by inches and losing the PR war in bucketsful--the jihad world is jubilant. I expect they will try to deliver the death blow in Iraq soon, through Muqty perhaps?

Posted by: Patricia at August 19, 2006 10:59 PM

Glasnost,

Monkyboy was banned for hogging my comments section and because I got more than 25 requests to show him the door. Several people said they won't comment anymore until he is gone.

I hate babysitting and banning people.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 19, 2006 11:00 PM

Glasnost, although I believe in Israel's right to self-defense I also agree that "nuking Tehran" and "Total War" statements are a bit too much armchair quarterbacking, and I concur that Michael Smith should tone that sort of rhetoric down.

Monkyboy, however, in numerous previous posts, took Nasrallah's own words out of context by highlighting his statements that Hezbollah does not target civilians, when endless examples -- from the demands to release the prisoner Samir Kuntar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Kuntar) who in 1979 snuck into Israel and murdered in cold blood an Israeli family including a 4-year-old girl; to the 1994 Hezbollah bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 (mostly) Jews; to the 2006 launching of rockets at Haifa, a civilian city where Jews and Israeli Arabs cohabit -- prove otherwise.

This is offensive propaganda to all but the most radical of Shi'ite and/or Pan-Arabist apologists. I believe MJT has numerous liberal friends in the Sunni, Druze and Maronite Christian communities of Lebanon, and I've been reading many of their blogs, too. And now that the fighting has de-escalated they are very concerned about what Islamist rule under Hezbollah would be like. I would hope that these kinds of Lebanese, such as bad vilbel, will continue to post on this site as I enjoy their perspective.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 20, 2006 12:11 AM

Glasnost, although I believe in Israel's right to self-defense I also agree that "nuking Tehran" and "Total War" statements are a bit too much armchair quarterbacking, and I concur that Michael Smith should tone that sort of rhetoric down.

Monkyboy, however, in numerous previous posts, took Nasrallah's own words out of context by picking out statements that Hezbollah does not target civilians, when endless examples -- from the demands to release the prisoner Samir Kuntar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samir_Kuntar) who in 1979 snuck into Israel and murdered in cold blood an Israeli family including a 4-year-old girl; to the 1994 Hezbollah bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center that killed 85 (mostly) Jews; to the 2006 launching of rockets at Haifa, a civilian city where Jews and Israeli Arabs cohabit -- prove otherwise.

This is offensive propaganda to all but the most radical of Shi'ite and/or Pan-Arabist apologists. I believe MJT has numerous liberal friends in the Sunni, Druze and Maronite Christian communities of Lebanon, and I've been reading many of their blogs, too. And now that the fighting has de-escalated they are very concerned about what Islamist rule under Hezbollah would be like. I would hope that these kinds of Lebanese, such as bad vilbel, will continue to post on this site as I enjoy their perspective.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 20, 2006 12:14 AM

I agree with "Glasnost". I disagreed with Monkeyboy more than I agreed with him, but at least he was one of the few people here doing something other than repeating the same pro-Israel pieties and congratulating one another on their moral clarity.

And, by the way, from the exchange above, it seems that he was right about the point that got him banned and that you were wrong. I hope that is not what caused his demise.

Given the nature and intellectual rigor of most of the comments here, I am hardly surprised that there were 25 people who are sufficiently uncomfortable with having their certainties challenged to email you. But Glasnost is right - banning Monkeyboy is a big step towards turning this into echo chamber. It seems that there are only three acceptable views here: anything Israel does is good, anything Hezbollah (or insert Arab bogey of the day, as required) is bad, and brave, brave Sir Michael is our hero for slaying the demons of the MSM and "the terrorists".

Posted by: J.B.S. at August 20, 2006 01:14 AM

Yo, JBS, you might have noticed that I criticized Israel rather harshly before I got here. I'm not looking for a pro-Israel echo chamber in the comments, and I would love to see some more criticism of the Israeli side.

What I don't want is for a fifteen year old to come in here, post a bunch of crap, and have half the other commenters respond to that instead of the topic at hand.

Also, I will not put up with anyone who gets 25 complaints. I banned Carol Herman for the same reason a few weeks ago. Too many complaints about her. And she's a pro-Zionist nutjob.

I have shit to do. No more babysitting. If you don't like moderated comments, read Little Green Footballs or Atrios.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 20, 2006 01:33 AM

Re the "next time," you were there and I was not, but I can't see how the next war will finally be the terrible (and necessary) war that you speak of. If Israel had the political will to destroy Hezbollah, why didn't they just do it when they had the chance?

The answer is obvious: Olmert (either him personally, or the political coalition he led) did not have the political will to do so.

This is bad. Bad for Israel, bad for Lebanon, and eventually, bad for everyone in the middle east.

Since the early 70s, the 'peace' in the middle east has basically been kept by the certainty on the part of the various Muslim governments that 1) the Israeli military would kick their asses on the battlefield, and 2) if they every managed to overwhelm the Israelis through sheer numbers, the attackers would pay a price measured in kilotons.

It was an ugly solution, but it kept the peace.

Now the Iranians have shown the way to attack Israel without getting your ass kicked on the battlefield. Use proxies- your involvement will be ignored by the media, the arab public will be delighted that someone is fighting against the Israelis, and the international community won't do a damn thing about it. What's the downside?

As I said earlier: ...the lesson taken from the war will be that hiding among civilians and randomly killing enemy civilians as a deliberate strategy works.

Because it works, you should expect to see more of it.

The long-term flaw in this strategy is the reason it works: in western culture, we believe that the suffering of noncombatants should be minimized.

Eventually, the Israelis will do the only thing that will make that strategy ineffective.

Michael said "War is coming again, and it’s coming like Christmas. It will not resemble the Middle East wars we are used to."

He is correct. It's going to be a lot uglier.

Posted by: rosignol at August 20, 2006 01:50 AM

I am one of those "armchair quarterbacks" that advocate killing all terrorists in groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Quiada,.... Hmm, notice that they are all Arabic? At this point in history the Islamic Fanatics (or whatever term one wants to use) are the worlds most serious enemy. In times past, different groups or religions would have qualified for that label, but this is now, and it is real, and Israel may have to resort to Nukes to save their country. (No polemics, please)

Actually, I do not care what any country does within their borders, but when they go outside their borders, especially when they kill Americans, yep, my tolerance is zero.

I'm not sure I could agree to do what the Romans did in razing a city if terrorist acts were committed in that city, but you could probably talk me into it.

Islamic Fanatics want to take the world back to the 14th century, and I choose not to take advantage of their offer.

Also, please do not use intellectual rigor and MB's comments in the same sentence since they are mutually incompatible.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 20, 2006 04:35 AM

What amuses is that all the time many argue that the Arab world's repression and exploitation by the West is the root cause of terror.

What do you think they will say the root cause of Yisrael Beiytanu winnng 30 seats in the Knesset and Avigdor as PM is? I suspect that'll happen before Iran starts supplying Hezbollah with chemical weapons.

Posted by: Mark Edelstein at August 20, 2006 06:52 AM

Paul, those photos were taken "near" Kiryat Shmonah, which is not "in" Kiryat Shmonah. It's impossible not to be near a residential area over there.
You can see in the backround that there are weeds and rocks, but no houses.

Posted by: maor at August 20, 2006 07:49 AM

"Eventually, the Israelis will do the only thing that will make that strategy ineffective."

That's where I have my doubts. I hope you are right and I am wrong.

Posted by: Patricia at August 20, 2006 09:09 AM

John Sholar,

Your exact quote was: "Can anyone find the slightest evidence that these strategies have ever been anything but completely accepted by Muslims?

Perhaps you're projecting our values on a society that doesn't share them at all."

While you don't DIRECTLY specify exclusivity to muslims, the implication here is clear. Muslims do not share our values when it comes to what strategies are acceptable. Right?
I listed examples of non-muslim organizations (The IRA, the Vietcong, and the Contra) who happen to also not "share our values" in terms of what is acceptable. Correct?

So to answer your question:
In my opinion, muslims at large do not deem terrorism acceptable. Neither do Christians at large.
However, certainly, there are muslims who do deem terrorism acceptable. There are also christians who deem terrorism acceptable (the IRA, the Contra).
I would certainly be hard pressed to say that because the IRA deem terrorism acceptable, then all christians must not "share our values". There is a flaw in basic logic there.

Better?

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 11:29 AM

Ron Snyder
"Actually, I do not care what any country does within their borders, but when they go outside their borders, especially when they kill Americans, yep, my tolerance is zero."

I'm sure I'll be accused of being an apologist for HA in the next reply, for pointing out the hypocrisy in Ron's comment.

Last I checked, the Iraqis were keeping within their borders, and had not killed any Americans when the US invaded them.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 11:35 AM

I am seeing more pundits/analysts mirroring MT's opinion that Hezbollah/Syria/Iran... are going to regret their violence escalation tactics.

Ralph Peters recent article is representative: http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/moment_of_truth_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.htm

I do not understand the Arab/Terrorist/Middle Eastern mind (though this is not surprising as I don't understand the political mindset of my city council members either), but I am willing and supportive of a real, physical all-out war against the Islamic Terrorists.

In talking with friends or acquaintainces about terrorism & the Middle East, almost none of them have called or written their Congressmen or Senators (Federal) about their opinion on what the U.S. should do. Very few even know the names of their Federal reps, though they point out that they vote in every National election. Not good.

I admit that my Federal reps (including Senate & House leadership) would probably prefer that I call them less often with my opinions, but if ones political input is limited to voting every two or four years, yeah, then you will probably get what you deserve.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 20, 2006 11:41 AM

Bad Vibel, the flaw in your logic is that Muslim societies have some 15 centuries of history, and lots of wars in that history.

Either there's a thread of tradition for respecting reasonable rules of war leading to the present day in that history or there isn't.

In the west's history, we can follow the thread of conflicts and see how we developed rules of war that respect civilian populations... We can see that even ancient societies often had rules like "don't burn your enemy's crops" (and we may also see a lack of such rules among Arabs).

So I asked an objective question. Either Muslim societies have a standing tradition of respecting the rights of civilians in warfare or they do not.

Neither of us are historians, so neither of us can give a definitive. But you've simply waved your hands and pointed to irrelevent examples outside of Muslim history.

My impression, however, is that Muslim societies completely lack the expectations that we have that our soldiers will respect the rights of civilians in warfare.

They also have a tradition hypocritical attitudies that may fool people into thinking that they have higher standards. But it's only their enemies that they hold up to criticism not their own fighters. A double standard is not a standard.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 12:10 PM

"Monkeyboy and Chew2 seem to believe that Israel purposely killed lots of civilians, that the rockets were all in the countryside, and that Hizbollah won."

Speaking for myself only, I said that both Israel and Hizbullah's bombing and rocketing were frequently aimed at "punishing" the civilian population. In the case of Israel this meant destroying civilian infrustructure and dwellings knowing full well that they would likely kill civilians. This doesn't mean that they set out to specifically massacre civilians, although the shooting at civilian vehicles evacuating southern Lebanon comes pretty close.

Both Israeli and Hizbullah fighters may have sheltered and located in civilian areas. But reading the news accounts of the bombing and firing indicates that the Israeli bombing of civilian structures was only marginally related to any military sheltering or actual firing from civilian structures. They had little or no idea where the Hizbullah fighters or weapons were located. So they were reduced to area bombing. Rember there were only some 2-4000 Hizbullah fighters supposedly sheltering in areas that housed some 800,000 civilians.

Hizbullah's rockets had very poor accuracy. They had as much chance of hitting civilians as they did soldiers, i.e. pure chance. They were aimed at terrorizing and disrupting civilian life in retaliation for the Israeli bombing, though very few people were actually killed.

In direct combat both Hizbullah and Israeli soldiers hid in and fired from buildings, although Hizbullah had the benefit of prepared and hidden bunkers hidden all over the countryside. Those were legitimate targets for both sides.

Lets look at some of the numbers. Hizbullah rockets killed at least 9 soldiers out of some 50 casualties. Out of some 1000+ Lebanese casualties from the Israeli bombings and artillery, some 90% were probably civilians with one third children. Israel is also claiming killing some 4-500 Hizbullah fighters in direct combat (but body count estimates are always very iffy). Israel lost some 100+ soldiers in direct combat. The indiscriminate Hizbullah rocketing actually appeared to kill a higher proportion of military personel, 9 out of 50, than the "precision" Israeli bombing.

Posted by: chew2 at August 20, 2006 12:33 PM

bad vilbel writes: "Last I checked, the Iraqis were keeping within their borders, and had not killed any Americans when the US invaded them."

===

It is well know that Saddam tried to assassinate the POTUS. Saddam also gave refuge and support to Islamist groups that waged war against the the US, Israel, and the West.

Here's an interesting tidbit via www.telegraph.co.uk/news:

"Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist, was murdered on the orders of Saddam Hussein after refusing to train al-Qa'eda fighters based in Iraq, The Telegraph can reveal."

Posted by: occam whisker at August 20, 2006 12:45 PM

Josh Scholar,

You've got to be kidding me. Let's address your statements one by one:

Bad Vibel, the flaw in your logic is that Muslim societies have some 15 centuries of history, and lots of wars in that history.

And the west has 2000 years of conflict and wars as well.

Either there's a thread of tradition for respecting reasonable rules of war leading to the present day in that history or there isn't.
In the west's history, we can follow the thread of conflicts and see how we developed rules of war that respect civilian populations... We can see that even ancient societies often had rules like "don't burn your enemy's crops" (and we may also see a lack of such rules among Arabs).

Way to romanticize the west's past. Open a few history books, and you'll see the west's war were just as vicious and cruel as those of the arab world. Let's not even go that far in the past: the concentration camps of WW2, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, come to mind. Looking further back, you'd do well to note that various rulers throughout the ages in Europe used to advocate pillaging and raping of captured cities and villages as a means of rewarding their soldiers. This goes back to the days of Rome, through the medieval days, and on into the 16th-19th century.
Stop living in a fantasy world, please.

The rest of your post cut for brevity

Like I said, there are elements in the muslim world that have no respect for the rule of law today. I concede that point.
But I hardly think that applies to the entire history of the muslim world (of which I happen to have read a lot, even though i am not historian by trade).

Throughout the course of history, there were countless leaders, both in the muslim world, and in the western world, known for their fairness in war, and then there were leaders who committed atrocities (again, this applies to both the muslim and the christian worlds). I don't particularly see a difference between the two, over the course of history as a whole (meaning, over the past 2000 years, let's say).

One could cite countless examples of christian armies acting with viciousness and cruelty.
The crusaders armies who sacked Constantinople, for example (just to pick an example) were not exactly what i would call "honorable".

Similarly one could cite countless examples of valor and honor coming from this or that muslim or arab leader.

Having said that, one could also cite countless examples of muslim leaders abusing what we call today "human rights", and one could also find countless examples of christian armies being honorable.

Point being: I don't think there is any merit to your theory, when you look at history throughout the ages.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 02:10 PM

Occam

I was not arguing that Saddam was a bad guy. We all know he was.

I was responding to the following statement:
"Actually, I do not care what any country does within their borders, but when they go outside their borders, especially when they kill Americans, yep, my tolerance is zero."

Last I checked, giving support to islamist groups still falls under the category of "I do not care what any country does within their borders".
Clearly, the author of the previous sentence DOES care what a country does within their borders.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 02:12 PM

Vibel I asked a question that could be answered objectively. The state of Muslim societies is currently one that supports the laws of war or it isn't.

You're obviously incapable of even entertaining the concept of an objective question. So stop wasting my time and go away.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 02:20 PM

Josh,

I'm not sure how you can answer that question objectively.

Unless by "objectively" you mean we have to agree to your answer.

I'll go away now.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 02:23 PM

I'm not sure how you can answer that question objectively.

In other words, you don't know the state of the world. You know, the real world that exists outside your mind, in what used to be called "reality".

You could have just written "I don't know" instead of throwing up clouds of judgemental bullshit.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 02:35 PM

Bad Vilbel,

I think that Iran and Kuwait would differ as to your statement that Iraq have stayed within their country.

Saddam's explicit, open support for terrorist groups (training, money, sanctuary,...) that performed terrorist acts OUTSIDE of Iraq, and the POTUS event, also count in my view as not staying within their country.

I am a bit fuzzy as to what exactly Kurdistan is (parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia?), though I would probably be stretchin a point in my opinion that invading Iraq and killing Saddam and helping to prevent genocide of the Kurds was not a bad thing to do. The Kurds seem to be the only ethnic/religious group in Iraq that want to, and would be capable of, developing a real country.

OT, but all reports I've read from persons such as Mr. Totten, Mr. Yon, Jack Jacobs, Victor Davis Hansen and others who have spent time with the Kurds have been very positive.

Ron

Posted by: Ron Snyder at August 20, 2006 02:49 PM

You make good points. Specially about Kuwait. Although I would argue that, technically, Kuwait had nothing to do with the US.
If you extend your original statement from "killing americans" to "threatening American national interests", then the statement becomes a lot more palatable and quite realistic.

The US, in fact, intervenes to protect it's national interests.

As for Kurdistan, that was also technically an internal Iraqi matter. I'd be curious to ask why the US hasn't intervened to protect the Kurds in Turkey, who are currently undergoing severe treatment at the hand of the Turkish government, although that is neither here nor there. And we're way off topic now :)

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 03:10 PM

bad vilbel,

Terrorism is war by proxy. Saddam was conducting war against against the US, against Israel, and against the West in general. So no, even on that score alone, Saddam's actions were not confined to Iraq's border. Also, let's not forget that he directly attacked kuwait, and directly attacked Israel, and directly attacked Iran, causing inflation to the price of oil. That you would consider Saddam's Iraq to fit within that "I do not care what any country does within their borders", is beyond comprehension. ?

Posted by: occam whisker at August 20, 2006 03:38 PM

Again, I did not say Saddam was a good guy.
But those items you list are not WITHIN one's borders.

How is ATTACKING ISRAEL considered "within the borders of Iraq" ? When by very definition, it implies going OUTSIDE one's borders and into Israel?

Listen, I didn't disagree with the gist of Ron's original comments. But his wording about "within the borders" was inacurate. That's all.

Posted by: bad vilbel at August 20, 2006 03:48 PM

No, bad vilbel. What you posted in reply to Ron was quote:

"Last I checked, the Iraqis were keeping within their borders, and had not killed any Americans when the US invaded them."

I guess for you, Saddam's Iraqi Baath Party, Saddam's Iraqi Army, don't count as "Iraqis".

Posted by: occam whisker at August 20, 2006 03:59 PM

In any case, as Bad Vibel's own blog posts point out, the Arab world is completely obsessed with hatred for Israelis (and Jews and Hindus and others).

There's absolutely no counter-weight to hatred in Muslim societies. The religion doesn't council against hatred. I could write a book big enough to stun an ox just giving examples of how leaders and institutions in Muslim societies encourage the most florid hatred possible...

I only bring this up to bolster my case about the lack of respect for life in Muslim countries in the context of war. A respect for civilian life come, in the first place, from a public that recognizes the humanity of all people, including those who are military enemies. That respect for life is entirely missing in Muslim countries. Details of the Armenian genocide is an instructive case, if you can stand the uglyness of studying that.

If you were to take a survey of Muslims, asking them whether they'd support the ethnic cleansing of Jews out of Israel, you'd probably get a very depressing result. And no wonder, Mohammad himself, on his death bed made his followers promise to cleanse the gulf of infidels.

Such background may detract from my point. My point is this: There can not be meanful pressure for respecting the human rights of other people from a public that hates an entire people. The pressure of public opinion is toward genocide, not toward respect of humanity and human rights.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 06:05 PM

Josh, to bad vilbel's credit, he is arguing that it is important not to offer blanket historicist arguments as they can easily be disproven.

Until 1945, Jews hardly had to fear Muslims on the scale that they had to fear Roman Catholics, Lutheran Protestants, Russian Orthodox, and National Socialists. Did any of these groups "respect civilian life" as a counterpoint to Muslim societies? In fact, Jews lived relatively well in Muslim countries until Israel's existence gave Muslims a reason to join in on the Jew hatred.

The phenomenon of Islamic Fascism vis-a-vis the Jews of the past 60 years is very short compared to the 2000 years of enmity that Christian Europe conveyed towards the Jews. We forget how bad this was because the Islamist agenda has replaced Christian European radicalism, the latter of which had been pacified only by the Allies. Israeli Arabs can even today live with Israeli Jews in Haifa; could Jews ever live with Nazis?

Unfortunately Islamism has become the Nazism of the 21st century. In this I'm sure bad vilbel would agree. But respecting civilian life was hardly a Christian ethic until very, very recently in the history of the three monotheisms.

Posted by: jjdynomite at August 20, 2006 09:18 PM

I doubt that the past among Muslims was anything like the rosy picture you paint, Jidynomite. History is written by the winners and the Jews who fled the middle east were hardly winners.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 09:30 PM

Come on, Josh Scholar, the Jews flourished in Muslim Spain and other parts of the empire during the middle ages, attaining the highest positions. In modern times, Jews became very affluent in Arab countries, and many old folks I speak with talk wistfully of the old days in Baghdad and Alexandria. You're being insincere now.

Anyhow, isn't it getting a bit stale and fusty to argue over whether all Muslims are wicked, and whether or not we should annihilate them all?

How about something interesting, like Siniora's recent comment about a peace treaty with Israel? It may just be rhetoric, with a standard laundry list of conditions he knows can never be fulfilled. Still, it takes balls for him to even mention peace. Iran has no interest in peace with Israel, and Hezbollah is a vassal of Iran. Syria is a question mark. After the first Lebanon War, Gemayal didn't dare discuss a peace treaty, although he had disingenuously promised one to help get the Israelis to invade. If Siniora is willing to consider a peace agreement with Israel independant of one with Syria, then he's really got balls.

Posted by: MarkC at August 20, 2006 11:01 PM

MarkC and whether or not we should annihilate them all [Muslims]?

Misrepresenting what I wrote in order to slander me and convince people not to read the thread is a particularly odious propaganda technique.

I encourage Mr. Totten to delete slanderous comments like yours.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 20, 2006 11:10 PM

"Eventually, the Israelis will do the only thing that will make that strategy ineffective."

That's where I have my doubts. I hope you are right and I am wrong.
-Patricia

There are people who would choose death over violating their moral code.

Such people are very, very rare, and are almost never a head of state.

For most people, survival trumps morality. If someone has to do immoral things to survive, they will be done.

The thing I do not understand is how so many Muslims have convinced themselves that their survival is dependent on wiping out Israel, and that this justifies doing things that would normally be forbidden.

I'd blame the controlled state media in most muslim countries and the habit of using the Israelis as scapegoats for every problem with muslim societies... but I feel like I'm missing something important.

Posted by: rosignol at August 20, 2006 11:54 PM

The thing I do not understand is how so many Muslims have convinced themselves that their survival is dependent on wiping out Israel, and that this justifies doing things that would normally be forbidden.

Your assumptions are all wrong. Wiping the Jews isn't forbidden, it's precisely what God's only prophet did in Medina, and what he asked his followers to do on his death bed.

Not forbidden at all. Think back to (Indonesian president) Mathir's speech. He said that human rights are a conspiracy by Jews that's meant to fool the world into thinking that genocide against the Jews would be a bad thing.

Not forbidden at all.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 12:06 AM

Josh Scholar is becoming as annoying as monkeyboy.

It's the tone more than anything else. I've been reading the comments on this blog and badvilbel has remained reasonable and civilized, whereas Josh's comment are vitriolic.

to get to Josh's question:

q) Do Islamic societies value life?

a) Criticism of 'Islamic terrorism' from within the Muslim world exists but is not generally reported by the Western media.
(http://www.theglobalist.com/DBWeb/printStoryId.aspx?StoryId=4282)

I don't think anyone really knows the extent to which your average Jordanian, Lebanese, Syrian, Egyptian or Iranian wants the destruction of Israel. These countries do not have freedom or the press and many of the leaders are despotic.

But even if your average muslim does want the destruction of israel, i think we need to consider the brainwashing that has been going on in these cultures, before we judge individuals too harshly. In the same way you have been brainwashed to think that all muslims are terrorists or support terrorism, they have been brainwashed to think that jews are the devil. It isn't that they don't care about human life. Rather, there has been a systematic dehumanization of jews (and other infidels).

This doesn't mean Israel shouldn't defend itself. I agree with the general sentiment on this blog that civilian casualties are tragic, but unavoidable when fighting against an enemy engaged in guerrila warfare.

On the other had, one cannot 'judge' the hizbullah for using guerilla warfare. It is their only chance for survival.

Western intellectuals like to choose a morally correct side of a conflict. I'm jewish. i have family in israel. therefore, i find it much easier to side with Israel. But i have the honesty to admit that if i was born and raised in Jenin, i would probably find reason to support the intifada and hezbullah.

If you want to point your finger at morally vacant cultures, you certainly have to take a long hard look at the empires of europe. The spanish, french and british who committed genocide in america and committed atrocities the world over.

Yes, that was a few hundred years ago. Today, we face a real problem with Islamic fundamentalism. I'm not afraid of being blown up in a terrorist attack. I'm afraid of shariah spreading through Europe. I'm afraid that the advances in human rights and freedoms that were gained over the last 500 years will be lost.

There is only ONE long term solution. And it is slow and difficult. Education.
Instead of spending $100 Billion dollars on bombs. The US should be given money and support to the modern leaning populations in the Muslim world. If instead of dropping bombs on Iraq, the US had dropped generators with american flags on them. And water purifiers, etc.... the people of Iraq would have welcomed America with open arms.

I think Israel has made the same mistake in the occupied terrotories. but i'll sign off here

Posted by: Dr J at August 21, 2006 08:48 AM

It isn't that they don't care about human life. Rather, there has been a systematic dehumanization of jews (and other infidels).

I'd call that a distinction without a difference.

But even if your average muslim does want the destruction of israel, i think we need to consider the brainwashing that has been going on in these cultures, before we judge individuals too harshly.

I haven't touched on whether individuals are to blame because I don't really think in those terms. I don't care about moral culpability, I care about the result.

In any case, I think the Arab reaction to the slaughter in Darfur calls into question your assumption that Muslims care about the lives of Muslims (if not of everyone else who's been "dehumanized").

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 10:46 AM

There is only ONE long term solution. And it is slow and difficult. Education.

Sure education can change people's minds. But try "educating" a hostile, xenophobic society whose power structures and religion is based on hating the "other" when you are that "other". How will you "educate" them against their will? How do you propose to accomplish that?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 10:51 AM

In the same way you have been brainwashed to think that all muslims are terrorists or support terrorism,
Is the Manchester Evening News trying to brainwash me by reporting on this 8,000-strong pro-terrorist rally in Manchester?

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 11:25 AM

And yes, I know that they weren't just there to support terrorism. But they weren't adverse to supporting it either.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 12:42 PM

<i.I'm not afraid of being blown up in a terrorist attack. I'm afraid of shariah spreading through Europe. I'm afraid that the advances in human rights and freedoms that were gained over the last 500 years will be lost.

I see I should have read more carefully. You're not proposing education as the solution to middle eastern Muslims wanting to slaughter everyone, you're proposing it as a way to modernize Muslims in Europe.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 21, 2006 01:37 PM

"There are people who would choose death over violating their moral code.

Such people are very, very rare, and are almost never a head of state."

That actually makes me feel better. Government is not social work, goverment is force. (Hat tip, George Washington)

Posted by: Patricia at August 21, 2006 08:13 PM

But even if your average muslim does want the destruction of israel, i think we need to consider the brainwashing that has been going on in these cultures, before we judge individuals too harshly. In the same way you have been brainwashed to think that all muslims are terrorists or support terrorism, they have been brainwashed to think that jews are the devil. It isn't that they don't care about human life. Rather, there has been a systematic dehumanization of jews (and other infidels).

I'm afraid this is a situation where the details of what has caused it is almost irrelevant, we have to deal with the consequences.

[snip]

On the other had, one cannot 'judge' the hizbullah for using guerilla warfare. It is their only chance for survival.

This is nonsense.

Hizbullah's best chance for survival is to not commit acts of war against Israel.

If the Hizbullah would limit themselves to posting ugly pictures on billboards, the Israelis would ignore them.

[snip]

There is only ONE long term solution. And it is slow and difficult. Education.

You are mistaken.

Instead of spending $100 Billion dollars on bombs. The US should be given money and support to the modern leaning populations in the Muslim world. If instead of dropping bombs on Iraq, the US had dropped generators with american flags on them. And water purifiers, etc.... the people of Iraq would have welcomed America with open arms.

Nope. The government of Iraq would have siezed the generators, painted over the American flags, and used them as Saddam saw fit.

If you want to un-brainwash ("educate") the people in the middle east, the first step has to be getting rid of the groups brainwashing them now... and those groups- which are generally referred to as 'governments'- are not going to give up their power willingly.

Two of the worst are gone, but there are a lot left.

Posted by: rosignol at August 22, 2006 12:55 AM

Josh Scholar;

Actually, when I made the "annihilating all of them" crack, it was directed at someone else's post, not yours. By your selective citation, I assume you concede to holding the opinion that all Muslims are wicked.

Anyway, you needn't worry about my discouraging people from reading your posts. They will be amply discouraged by their length, frequency and content.

Posted by: MarkC at August 22, 2006 04:09 AM

By your selective citation, I assume you concede to holding the opinion that all Muslims are wicked

Wow, that's chutzpah, repeating your lie in response to my denying the very same lie and misrepresenting your own post in the process! Amazing.

Michael really should delete your slander off his server.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 22, 2006 06:45 AM

I meant to write, Michael really should delete your libelous comments off his server.

I confuse libel and slander sometimes.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 22, 2006 06:48 AM

Sorry I over-reacted.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at August 22, 2006 01:36 PM
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