January 13, 2009

Does "Black Hawk Down" Portray an American War Crime?

Jeffrey Goldberg and Mark Bowden discuss the infamous battle in Mogadishu where 24 American soldiers and 1,000 Somalis -- 800 of them civilians -- were killed in 24 hours.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 13, 2009 10:56 AM
Comments

The current slaughter in Gaza and the detain-and-capture mission gone awry during the 1993 battle of Mogadishu are not directly comparable. You can ask this question: Would the U.S. have attempted to capture two of Aidid’s top lieutenants if they had known in advance that killing 1000 Somalis and loosing 18 American soldiers was the price. I think not. However, the Israelis, knowing full well in advance the heavy civilian casualties that their operation is sure to incur went ahead anyway, sending American-build F-16’s to bomb a defenseless population. I believe that comparing the U.S. action in Mogadishu to what the Israelis are currently doing is insulting to U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. Read this ex-U.S. Marine Corps member's commentary for his perspective.

BTW, the casualty figures during the battle of Mogadishu are in dispute and range from 1000-1500 (U.S. military numbers), to 200 (International Red Cross numbers), to 133 (Somali National Alliance), but this is really besides the point for this discussion.

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 11:35 AM

Persephone: Would the U.S. have attempted to capture two of Aidid’s top lieutenants if they had known in advance that killing 1000 Somalis and loosing 18 American soldiers was the price. I think not.

That's a good point, and you're probably right. But if Aidid were shooting rockets into Miami, the equation would be very different.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 11:39 AM

To

"The Israeli approach in Gaza strikes me as uncontrolled and vengeful." - that's from the text you've advised all of us to read.

It is not possible to charachterize an Israelly assaault that way for anyone who closely monitors matters. If you would have taken time and read the very blog you're commenting on than you've noticed that the army that can be "uncontrolled and vengeful" cannot inflict 500 casualties by striking 600 buildings, unless it really is "controlled and forgiving".

And "I recently retired from the US Marine Corps, but I saw service in Iraq." is especially informing.

Posted by: DJ Drive Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 12:31 PM

MJT, your thought experiment of comparing Somalia with IDF/Gaza is important to think through. The fact that the IDF is not doing this to save the Gazans makes me a little queasy in the gut.

MJT, the post Persephone linked to is a serious and well thought out piece. It deserves serious thought. Many GIs and Vets had similar perspectives about the Israeli operation in Lebanon in 2006. My perception is that Israel has been much more careful in Gaza than in Lebanon ( which I saw as a partial betrayal of America by Israel.)

I hope it is OK if I re post it here in full?:

"January 08, 2009 11:30 am

Link
I recently retired from the US Marine Corps, but I saw service in Iraq. I do know something of military matters that are relevant to the situation now in Gaza.

I am dismayed by the rhetoric from US politicians and pundits to the effect that “if the US were under rocket attack from Mexico or Canada, we would respond like the Israelis”. This a gross insult to US servicemen; I can assure you that we would NOT respond like the Israelis. In fact, US armed forces and adjunct civilians are under attack constantly in Iraq and Afghanistan by people who are much better armed, much better trained and far deadlier than Hamas (I’ll ignore for now that the politicians seem to be oblivious to this fact). Israel has indeed taken a small number of casualties from Hamas rocket fire (about 20 killed since 2001), but we have taken thousands of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many civilian personnel. Hundreds of American casualties have occurred due to indirect fire, often from mortars. This is particularly true in or near the Green Zone in Baghdad. This fire often originates from densely populated urban areas.

Americans do not, I repeat DO NOT, respond to that fire indiscriminately. When I say “indiscriminately”, I mean that even if we can precisely identify the source of the fire (which can be very difficult), we do not respond if we know we will cause civilian casualties. We always evaluate the threat to civilians before responding, and in an urban area the threat to civilians is extremely high. If US servicemen violate those rules of engagement and harm civilians, I assure you we do our best to investigate -- and mete out punishment if warranted. There are differing opinions on the conflict in Iraq, but I am proud of the conduct of our servicemen there.

With that in mind, I find the conduct of the Israeli army in Gaza to be brutal and dishonorable, and it is insulting that they and others claim that the US military would behave in the same way. I know the Israelis are operating under difficult circumstances, but their claim that they follow similar rules of engagement rings hollow; I see little evidence for this claim given the huge number of civilian casualties they have caused from indirect fire.

In particular, I am stunned at the Israeli explanation for the 30+ civilians killed at the UN school. The Israelis say they were responding to mortar fire from the school. Mortars are insidious because their high trajectory and lack of primary flash make it very difficult to trace the source of the fire; you have to have a spotter locate the crew. The Israelis claim that they traced the source of the fire precisely to the school; if so, they must have directly spotted the crew. Thus it is inconceivable that the Israelis did not know that the target was a crowded UN school, yet they chose to fire on the school anyhow. I say without hesitation that this is a criminal act. If the Israelis had said, “sorry, it was an accident”, that could indicate a targeting problem, confusion, or inferior training. But to openly admit that they responded reflexively to the Hamas fire without consideration for the inevitable civilian casualties is beyond the pale. The Israelis blame Hamas for firing from the school (although UN personnel on the ground dispute this), but choosing to fire directly at civilians is far worse; it is tantamount to murder. US servicemen do not behave that way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we face much deadlier adversaries (Hamas mortar crews are apparently not very effective: I believe that all but one of the total Israeli combat fatalities have been from friendly fire). In the rare and unfortunate cases where US personnel have willingly targeted civilians, they have been court-martialed and punished.

The Israeli approach in Gaza strikes me as uncontrolled and vengeful. My objective analysis is that it has little tactical effectiveness; my opinion is that its main goal is to whip the entire Gaza population into submission. This is disturbingly similar to the Israelis’ conduct in Lebanon in 2006, so I feel obliged to say that the Israeli military displays a concerted pattern of disregard for civilian lives. I am not a politician, but in my opinion the US should take some sort of political action in this regard. If we continue to formally condone Israel’s dishonorable and brutal military conduct in Gaza, I fear there will eventually be dire consequences for our country.

— JDS, North Carolina
Recommend Recommended by 732 Readers"

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 2:41 PM

Persephone, by the definition of war crimes that would include recent IDF actions in Gaza, what other countries around the world commit war crimes and with what frequency? For example, does Hamas commit war crimes against Fatah and its other political rivals? Does Fatah commit war crimes against Hamas and its other political rivals? Does Turkey commit war crimes against the Kurds? Did the Iraqi Army commit war crimes in March/April, 2008 during their Basrah offensive?

Here is a factoid;
-Iraq in November, 2008, had 0.9 violent deaths per 100,000 Iraqis, or an 11 violent death per 100,000 Iraqis at an annual rate
-Caracus, Venezuela has 150 violent deaths per 100,000 annually
-South Africa has 60 violent deaths per 100,000 annually
- Mexico has 13 violent deaths per 100,000 annually

Would it be fair to describe what is happening in Caracas Venezuela war crimes?

I don't have any good answers to any of these questions.

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 2:52 PM

From that blog:

Americans do not, I repeat DO NOT, respond to that fire indiscriminately. When I say “indiscriminately”, I mean that even if we can precisely identify the source of the fire (which can be very difficult), we do not respond if we know we will cause civilian casualties.

If he recently retired, then he served at least 20 years, and more like 30 years, in the US Marines. He was probably in the Marines already when I joined, and still in the Marines when I got out. He should know better than to make this type of assertion. He was in the Marines when the USS New Jersey was firing 2000 pound shells into Lebanon, to silence mortar teams. He also received the same training that I did, and knows very well eliminating a source of hostile fire takes priority over any other concerns.

I think he is accuractely describing US military policy (NOT DOCTRINE!) in Iraq, as of a couple years ago. I think the decision to go that route was made because we decided to try to make the Iraqis our partners, rather than our enemies, and US military took on the role of peacekeepers/police rather than war fighters. And it's a hard sell to try to claim you are protecting people, by killing them. That was the correct call on the part of the US military, seeing as how the Iraqi police and military at that time were not able to provide security to the Iraqi people on their own. But I think it's wrong of him to imply that is the "norm" for the US Marines, or for the US military in general. He should know better, and I'm sure if thought about it for a bit, he would acknowledge it.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 3:02 PM

Persephone, what type of long term arrangement might bring long term peace to Palestine/Israel? What kind of settlement would you like to see.

I wonder if Palestine could give 500,000 Israeli settlers dual citizenship, offer Israeli Arabs dual citizenship (about 1.4 million of them), promise to protect all Israelis who choose to live in or visit Palestine, desegregate all the settlements (no discrimination on buying/renting/driving on roads/anything else), demand a free trade/investment agreement with Israel, and demand a huge global marshall plan (tens of billions of dollars in grants.) Palestine could demand all of the occupied territories in return for promising free immigration and tourist/work/business visas to all Israelis.

Might this type of a solution be acceptable to Palestinians and Isrealis? India and China are considering innovative out of the box ways to settle their border dispute. Might Palestine and Israel consider something similar?

Some Palestinians have told me my ideas are naive.

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 3:02 PM

How many people has the U.S. killed as a result of the 3,000 murdered on 9/11? Methinks we don't give a rat's @ss about "proportionality", and rightly so. Neither should the Israelis, it's a bogus non-argument.

Posted by: Carlos Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 3:58 PM

Here is a factoid;
-Iraq in November, 2008, had 0.9 violent deaths per 100,000 Iraqis, or an 11 violent death per 100,000 Iraqis at an annual rate
-Caracus, Venezuela has 150 violent deaths per 100,000 annually
-South Africa has 60 violent deaths per 100,000 annually
- Mexico has 13 violent deaths per 100,000 annually

What's the source for the above numbers...just from memory I'd say that the Iraq number from above is bogus. Iraq still has about 25 Mio people, the war has killed about 100k (conservative estimate from IBC) over 6 years, yielding approx. 67 war-related violent deaths per 100,000 Iraqi citizens per year. Much higher than the 11 that the author quotes above. Also, can intra-societal violence be compared to killings directly due to military action inflicted by a foreign country? Doubtful.

Posted by: Persephone Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 6:36 PM

I have met, listened to, and in some cases talked to a number of Israeli military men and women from grunts through past and current officers to true national heroes. I have absolutely no doubt that IDF believes and tries to practice it's code of arms, which is to make enormous sacrifices to avoid killing civilians. It will accept civilian casualties in pursuit of serious military targets, but IDF does not deliberately target civilians.

HAMAS deliberately and daily targets civilians, where there is no possible military aspect.

Any article that doesn't start with the premise that Hamas are war criminals of far, far greater magnitude, and that they are holding Gazan civilians hostage to their military adventures, AND that doesn't point out that Egypt has knowingly fired at civilians and is not allowing Gazan civilians to flee into the Sinai for safety has no business opining about Israel's moral standing.

A constantly overlooked point is that IDF is finding thousands of homes and shops booby trapped, or with Hamas tunnels opening into them where arms caches are found. Tunnels almost certainly mean the people living or working there knew about it and were OK with it, and thus provided material support to Hamas -- probably were Hamas. Many of the booby traps are a type that suggest the same thing.

I don't know about international law, but at that point, my army wouldn't regard them as innocent civilians.

Posted by: AZZenny Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 6:48 PM

Persephone, he used the numbers for 1 month in 2008 (November)and extrapolated from there. Probably not as useful as using the actual annual totals but he's trying to illustrate a trend... and the trend is moving sharply in a good direction in Iraq.

Also, can intra-societal violence be compared to killings directly due to military action inflicted by a foreign country? Doubtful.

You're right. But when a country under military occupation (if we want to still call it that) that has just emerged from a civil war situation still has lower rates for violent deaths than countries that don't have any of those issues, that's pretty amazing in my opinion.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 6:55 PM

Persephone, while we're inquiring about "sources", let's discuss the source of your link to the somber, erudite testimony of the so-called 'former marine' dude, JDS from North Carolina.

The source of that bit was the New York Times reader comments! Do you have any proof that JDS is not an erudite 13 year old on his mom's computer? A little old lady dreaming of lives that never were?

Or could he also have been the following commenter from North Carolina, who said:

Israel has and always will be the unwanted guest at the party, the person who should demonstrates what un he is by standing on the furniture and terrorizing the cat. If Israel truly wants peace, it'll stop its idiotic political and physical attacks on any- and everyone in the Middle East. Let's get real, okay? The Six Day War was a land grab, nothing more, the first in a series of moves cute little Israel has made to utterly annoy and enrage its neighbours. It has never chosen to play nice. It has always considered itself "special" and "above everyone else"... and then it wonders why no one likes it very much.
How delusional can one country be???

Could they be the same person? Who knows.

We don't know anything about JDS, but we do know that you'll reference any random source that agrees with you, something that makes your information here somewhat irrelevant.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 6:57 PM

If a military operation cannot confront or lure hostile forces away from civilians, then the enemy must be pursued in the environment the enemy has chosen. If it isn't obvious by now that degrading Hamas could have been done by flattening Gaza---but wasn't, then you're up against belief, not critical thinking. To get this to end, stop trying to kill jews.

Posted by: Paul S. Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 8:11 PM

Anand,

In reply to your post of 1/13/09 3:02 pm:

As your creative idea does not consider the word-which-must-not-be-named, it is wholly unreal as a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict (note how I cagily avoid using that word myself. Kudos to me.). To get a flavor of the word-which-must-not-be-named, as it is understood by the Arabs, I suggest that you read the entire Hamas Charter (in translation of course), slowly and carefully, and note that large portions are quotations from un-nameable sources.

Here is a link to a translation of the Hamas Charter:
http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sd&ID=SP109206

Posted by: del Author Profile Page at January 13, 2009 11:29 PM

Does "Black Hawk Down" Portray an American War Crime?

I haven't used the words "War Crime" anywhere in my dismemberment of the neccessity or morality of this war. I think you've pointed out that the legal case is far from airtight, (although it's far from airtight in either direction, which only proves how useless the framework is). Besides, I don't really feel like anything here is a "crime", which seems to hold the concept of deviating from a norm that is actually used. It's just cruel, unethical, and dumb. I think that's enough.

So I'd have to say that no, Black Hawk Down also does not depict a war crime. But I have to agree with Persephone. There is a difference, even if it's subtle, between an operation planned in cold blood and playing out in a forseeable manner, vs. loss of life caused in tactical reaction to an unforseen situation. No one expected what happened in Somalia.

Of course, we'll never know for sure, but if at some point someone in Mogadishu gunned down unarmed folk knowing they were unarmed while not aiming at armed folk, a la Haditha, that would be a war crime. But that has not been documented.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 2:55 AM

Persephone, he used the numbers for 1 month in 2008 (November)and extrapolated from there

You're right. But when a country under military occupation (if we want to still call it that) that has just emerged from a civil war situation still has lower rates for violent deaths than countries that don't have any of those issues, that's pretty amazing in my opinion.

You've missed Persephone's point.
These numbers are being misused. They are not recording the same rates or actions.

You can't use number of deaths in Iraq recorded by the US DoD as a substitute for the actual number of violent deaths in Iraq. It might (or might not) be an okay, or close to okay, number for Iraqis killed in combat with US or Iraqi forces. That's what it was created to count. But that does not equal all Iraqis killed by Iraqis. I'd love to start getting that number, but as far as I know it doesn't exist.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 3:05 AM

In reply to the comments by the marine JDS above, there is a city called Fallujah that makes his protestations ring very hollow. To be honest the known history of the campaign in Fallujah makes the man look a complete arse because in Fallujah the Marines did indeed do everything that he says they didn't or wouldn't. No-one is criticising them for that either, so I wonder why he seems to hypocritical towards Israel.

Further to that the present situation in Gaza would have many parallels with Fallujah, and in that context Israel appears to be doing at least as well as the Marines especially considering the Israelis couldn't evacuate the civilians.

Michael I think a better comparison for war crimes accusations would be the Nato bombing of Serbia. When judged by all the 'legal standards' that Israels critics are trying to hang Israel by, that Nato campaign would have been illegal by every possible measure. It's also interesting that some of the loudest anti-Israel shriekers were involved in that bombing. (France & the UK for starters) How many civilians were killed there, was it proportional, was there other options etc etc...

Posted by: GT Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 3:26 AM

You can't use number of deaths in Iraq recorded by the US DoD as a substitute for the actual number of violent deaths in Iraq.

You accuse me of missing Persephone's point (which I don't think I did) and then you decide to tell us all where (incorrectly) anand's numbers came from?

Well, I'll let anand explain where he gets his numbers, but I know him from an Iraqi blog and I know that he's been tracking the metrics in Iraq (and not just on this statistic) for quite some time. He does not use numbers provided by the DoD. If he did, I would agree that would be foolish.

It might (or might not) be an okay, or close to okay, number for Iraqis killed in combat with US or Iraqi forces.

Again, you're running down the wrong road with this. Is it customary for you to make assumptions about somebody else's data is incorrect, without any evidence? I haven't seen you doing much of that when it comes to Hamas, man. I've seen you doing the exact opposite, in fact. Accepting data as accurate, despite pretty good evidence that it isn't.

I'd love to start getting that number, but as far as I know it doesn't exist.

Actually, it does. I assume you haven't been paying much attention to Iraqi blogs the last several years? There are several groups that attempt to track violent incidents, day by day, in Iraq. I'm not a big fan of trying to analyze wars by examining spreadsheets so I'm not current, but I've seen them referenced many times on Iraqi blogs.

And by the way, even the BBC publishes monthly statistics for Iraq. You never noticed?

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 3:51 AM

So, the bottom line is, craig, that you don't know where they come from either?

I have stopped following Iraq closely, but no, I never saw much in the way of regular non-DoD numbers for violent events in Iraq, except for ones from the AP, UN, iraqbodycount, other media tallies, which are not good estimates, because they, like DoD, focus on insurgent, US, and security force events.

Yeah, I question numbers whenever they don't seem legit to me, an entirely subjective and ad hoc criteria. Forgive me while I fail to apologize.

What Iraqi blogs, may I ask? Because I'd like to read them, not because I doubt their existence.

Posted by: glasnost Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 4:46 AM

[...]

Mortars are insidious because their high trajectory and lack of primary flash make it very difficult to trace the source of the fire; you have to have a spotter locate the crew. The Israelis claim that they traced the source of the fire precisely to the school; if so, they must have directly spotted the crew.

[...]

I would expect someone who had been in the USMC long enough to retire to have heard of counter-battery radar. Direct observation of the mortar crew has been unnecessary for some time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-battery_radar

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 6:13 AM

Persephone,

How many of those 100K deaths in Iraq are from US using insufficiently controlled trigger fingers and how many are from terrorists sending drugged dupes in car bombs into elementary schools? Certainly a lot of our 3rd Generation Warfare weapons caused excessive casualties inadvertently, but when we are talking about cold blooded murders, the IED packers are a lot more deliberately culpable of intentional atrocity. As the war progressed, we celebrated the diminishing size of our precision weaponry and the enemy celebrated the expanding size of their suicide bombs.

Israel is using very precisely directed weapons and accepting civilian casualties grudgingly. If Israel was attacking indiscriminately, we wouldn't be having this conversation because Gaza would be smoking rubble where nothing could live, and the casualty counts would be approaching 1,000,000. The most important thing to remember is that you don't need WMD to commit genocide, you only need hatred. Israel is acting with regret, not hatred. Hamas delenda est.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 9:06 AM

So, the bottom line is, craig, that you don't know where they come from either?

Again with the assumptions :P

The bottom line is that I am not anand. He doesn't need me to speak for him.

I have stopped following Iraq closely, but no, I never saw much in the way of regular non-DoD numbers for violent events in Iraq, except for ones from the AP, UN, iraqbodycount, other media tallies, which are not good estimates, because they, like DoD, focus on insurgent, US, and security force events.

And whose numbers would you consider valid, then? For many years, Mexico was reporting very low crime rates, despite the fact that anyone who actually visited Mexico could see the truth with their own eyes. Does any country report valid data for these metrics, in your opinion? I would take the word of independent humanitarian groups over government entities, in most cases... the exception being when those groups have an agenda, or are using locals who have an agenda do gather their information.

Yeah, I question numbers whenever they don't seem legit to me, an entirely subjective and ad hoc criteria. Forgive me while I fail to apologize.

No need to apologize, I do the same thing. But if you are going to dismiss even the most reputable sources, then what point is there in even having the discussion? Why did you feel a need to comment, at all?

What Iraqi blogs, may I ask? Because I'd like to read them, not because I doubt their existence.

Not sure what you are asking... which ones I read? I also don't follow Iraq closely anymore. I used to read all of them, now I'm down to a couple, and I selected them because I don't get headaches after I read them. They probably wouldn't be the ones for you :P

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 11:15 AM

I would expect someone who had been in the USMC long enough to retire to have heard of counter-battery radar. Direct observation of the mortar crew has been unnecessary for some time.

Best not to go there, rosignol. That technology has a very poor track record.

Posted by: programmmer_craig Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 11:19 AM

This is what I have to say about human shields:

Little Bill Daggett: Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!

Will Munny: Well, he should have armed himself if he's going to decorate his saloon with my friend.

Posted by: Nichevo Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 2:58 PM

On Iraq, some of my friends and I maintain detailed data sets on Iraq. However, you can verify the November 0.9 violent deaths per 100,000 number for Iraq on your own from multiple sources:
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=52432
The data is probably pretty good for a number of reasons:
-Shia are only buried at certain graves and we have very accurate numbers on Shia deaths
-the new post Sadrist Health minister is a technocrat and his ministry seems to be professionally run

Crime in Iraq has fallen by 90% over the last year:
http://www.mnf-iraq.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=24816&Itemid=128

Another interesting factoid:
Iraq use to have 1200 to 1800 violent attacks a week. In some recent weeks attacks have been 70, the vast majority of which are in a few pockets.

Most violent deaths in Iraq come not from crime or organized crime like in most countries, but from terrorist attacks on Iraqi population centers. You might argue that the pause in violence is temporary if you want. A good synopsis of data on Iraq is in the last quarterly Congressional 9010 report that was published yesterday:
http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/pdfs/9010_Report_to_Congress_Dec_08.pdf

South Africa often has about 3,000 violent deaths a month, out of a total population of 60 million. Different sources provide different estimates on violent deaths in South Africa. I am sure you can google some months with 3,000 violent deaths on your own.

Mexico's official violent death rate has fallen recently to 13 deaths per 100,000 per year. I'll let you decide if you think Mexico collects data accurately.

Caracas does not have accurate data collection on violent deaths. A friend recently estimated 150 violent deaths per 100,000 Caracans a year. That is the only statistic mentioned that is questionable. Unfortunately, there might not be a way to find out how many violent deaths Caracas has.

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 7:11 PM

glasnost,

The data on violent deaths is from "ALL" causes. You can see detailed breakdowns of deaths by cause if you look at past 9010 Reports. Brookings' Iraq index does a good job compiling them into a graph.

The data on violent deaths in Iraq is much more accurate today than it use to be, because the GoI and ISF (and KRG in 3 provinces) are functioning far better and more professionally than the use to.

It is possible for Iraqi Americans and other expatriate Iraqis to travel safely through most of Iraq now. Probably any American who dresses like an Iraqi, looks like an Iraqi, travels with Iraqi friends, and doesn't stick out is pretty safe too.

Posted by: anand Author Profile Page at January 14, 2009 7:20 PM

And just what would we have Israel do? Hamas is clearly at fault for placing the civilian population at risk. Whether Israel abides by a ceasefire or not hamas continues to launch. The difficulty is we that we have no psychological frame of reference for conflicts like these. We simply cannot comprehend the depth of the hatred they feel for Israel. Hamas, hezbollah and fatah make no secret about there intent. The complete and utter destruction of Israel. Israel has been left with very few options, kill civilians or allow yours to be killed. As far a s Mogadishu is concerned it's highly unlikely anyone could make an accurate body count of just who was a civilian casualty and who was bearing arms when they were killed. The unfortunate thing is that people die in war. That is why the rules of war prohibit using civilians as shields. Israel should be lauded for its restraint, not castigated or punished.

Posted by: pacwaters Author Profile Page at January 23, 2009 7:39 PM
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