"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Proportionality

I see that the Soviets, oops, Russians and others are condemning the "disproportionate" nature of the Israeli response to the Hamas/Hizballah/Lebanese/Syrian/Iranian acts of war.

That raises the obvious question: Disproportionate to precisely what? If it is disproportion to the narrow acts themselves, taken out of the larger context, well, maybe and maybe not. But is the Israeli response disproportionate to the need for long-term deterrence of Arab terror? I think not; indeed, it is too mild by far, so far.

9 comments:

Tlaloc said...

"If it is disproportion to the narrow acts themselves, taken out of the larger context, well, maybe and maybe not."

Unfortunately not only is disproportionate to the acts in context it is totally unjustified by them. Israel has felt fine kidnapping palestinians (including government members!) and lebanese with no due process. But when it happens to them they cry foul and throw a tantrum.



"But is the Israeli response disproportioante to the need for long-term deterrence of Arab terror? I think not; indeed, it is too mild by far, so far."

Yeah 'cause attacking arab states and killing civilians does so much to discourage terrorism. I mean look at the last fifty years- Isreal has been killing civilians left and right and they never get attacked by terrorists. Never at all.

When are you going to choose to stop making the same mistake over and over again?

James Elliott said...

"Israel has felt fine kidnapping palestinians (including government members!) and lebanese with no due process."

Are you referring to Israeli due process, or to formal extraditions between two states? Because the Israelis have often demonstrated a willingness to uphold their own judicial responsibilities, even for terrorists (giving them one up on us). How reasonable is it to expect due process with another state when that state actively shields the people you pursue?

Indeed, that is precisely part of the problem. Both Hamas and Hezbollah enjoy the protection their official status as democratically elected parties in two of the region's three democracies affords them. They additionally enjoy state support from Syria and Iran. I don't see what recourse Israel has. Turning the other cheek won't work. These militant Palestinians have been given what they asked for, unilaterally, and still they persist. This is because the provocation, the excuse they claim for their actions, isn't any single act, it is a facet of their world view: Their provocation is eternal and entirely in their minds, where it can never be reasoned with or defeated.

These Palestinian militants are quite unlike their forebearers of the last few decades. They have supplanted the old goal of Palestinian statehood with an Islamist agenda.

Tlaloc said...

"Are you referring to Israeli due process, or to formal extraditions between two states?"

I'm talking about them arbitrarily arresting members of the legitimately elected palestinian government. If they can legally do that then they have to conceed that any pretenses of a palestinian government are a fraud.



"I don't see what recourse Israel has. Turning the other cheek won't work."

Have they ever tried it? No. Hard to say it won't work then.



"These militant Palestinians have been given what they asked for, unilaterally, and still they persist."

What are you talking about? Every time EVERY TIME Israel has given any concession it has always been so they could grab something else. They gave up Gaza and while no one was looking they made a grab at the rest of jerusalem. Quick test: which is more valuable? Jerusalem is by a long shot.

This is what I'm talking about. Israel has NEVER made even the slightest attempt at a real peace process. It has always been just a feint while they stick the knife in.



"They have supplanted the old goal of Palestinian statehood with an Islamist agenda."

Can you blame them? Israel has proven that statehood is a sham. They can and will simple steamroller over any democratic government at their whim. They can and will use military force on helpless civilians. They can and will destroy critical life required infrastructure (water and power) at their whim. So long as the current state of Israel exists there is no peace becaue Israel is founded upon unending war.

The bush doctrine of controlling the domestic population by manufacturing enemies overseas is nothing new, after all. It isn't a coincidence that Israel consistently does whatever it can to inflame hatred of themselves- it helps the agenda of the govenment.

Wallace Brand said...

Iran and Syria are the principals in the current fracas. Hizbollah and Hamas are only their agents. It would therefore be proportional for Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear installations to the applause of both the United States and the European Union.

Wallace Brand said...

Iran and Syria are the principals in the current fracas. Hizbollah and Hamas are merely their agents. Therefore it would be proportional for Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear installations to the great joy of the US and the EU.

Wallace Brand

Tlaloc said...

"It would therefore be proportional for Israel to destroy Iran's nuclear installations to the applause of both the United States and the European Union."

Current estimates are that we probably can't destroy their nuclear program with air power and the Israelis have already admitted they can't.

Tlaloc said...

Here's a nice summary of the events that led up to the current bit of butchery:

June 24th Israel kidnaps two palestinian civilians in Gaza.

June 25th Palestinian militants kidnap an Israeli soldier.

June 28th Israel kidnaps 64 members of the Palestinian government.

July 12th Hezbollah kidnapps two Israeli soldiers.

Notice who started it? Notice who targetted civilians and government officials and who targetted active soldiers? Notice who attacked a government for the actions of unconnected militants?

Israel screams loudest about its innocence just after it commits the crime.

James Elliott said...

Tlaloc: We could select any arbitrary point in the cycle and say, “See!” For example, I could point out how you left out all the rocket attacks into Israeli territory since Hamas was elected. Such endless nitpicking does us no good. Let us not forget what this current conflict is about. The militants in Gaza are hardly unconnected to the government - they are directly enabled, funded, and encouraged by the government. To call them “unconnected” is like saying Sinn Fein had f***-all to do with the IRA. In fact, it’s directly analogous - imagine that in the ‘80s and ‘90s Sinn Fein had won parliamentary majority in Ireland. You’re a very smart guy; you have to be able to see that.

It’s about Iran flexing its geopolitical muscle. They’re reminding the West why they’ve been handled with kid-gloves all these years. Iran is demonstrating how they do not need nuclear weapons to create instability in the region. By doing so, they show how they can mess with Western economies and play us against Russia and China. They are reminding the G-8 about Tehran’s reach through their proxies in Hamas and Hezbollah.

Iran’s goal is simple. Ever since the Shah, Iran has had dreams of being the regional hegemon of the Middle East. To do so, it needs to intimidate the Western powers with the ability to interfere - demonstrating their ability to ignite a regional conflict with 130,000 Coalition soldiers hunkered down in the middle is a pretty good way to do that. Further, this demonstrates their ability to threaten the lifeblood of the world’s economy: oil. That is the realpolitik side of their campaign. On the flip-side, domestically (by which I mean in the Arab world), Iran needs to win the war of ideas. It does this in two ways: First, it wants to win the sectarian war that’s been simmering for about 1,500 years. By waging that sectarian war via proxies in Iraq, it can secure its position as the most resource-rich actor in the region. By altering and embracing an Islamist agenda, it co-opts a lot of festering popular support in other regional threats, such as Syria, while adopting a language that will allow for reconciliation with the larger Arab world at the end of the sectarian conflict.

Now, I’m all for calling a spade a spade when Israel does something out of line. But Israel has focused largely on the Hezbollah-ruled mini-state in southern Lebanon or Hezbollah-controlled neighborhoods in Beirut. It has only attacked those parts of the Lebanese infrastructure necessary to prevent the removal of its soldiers to an unfriendly nation - also preventing easy entrance by Iran or Syria’s forces. The Israeli military, having learned from the ‘90s, has demonstrated admirable humanity, going so far as to drop leaflets 24 hours in advance advising civilians to leave areas that will be attacked. Lebanon could end this conflict tomorrow by evicting Hezbollah from its southern regions, where Lebanese officials have not been seen for a decade. Doing so would have the further advantage of distancing Lebanon from Syria and Iran and encouraging the West to invest in its nascent resurgence.

Tlaloc said...

"Tlaloc: We could select any arbitrary point in the cycle and say, “See!”"

It wasn't arbitrary: before the june 24th kidnapping the last time Hamas kidnaped an Israeli was over a decade ago (1994).



"For example, I could point out how you left out all the rocket attacks into Israeli territory since Hamas was elected."

I don't see how they are relevant to the series of kidnappings. None of the kidnappings by Israel were done in response to the rocket attacks.



"Such endless nitpicking does us no good. Let us not forget what this current conflict is about."

How can you call it nitpicking to accurately point out that Israel has manufactured this war of whole cloth? Is that not critical to understanding what exactly this "conflict is about"?



"The militants in Gaza are hardly unconnected to the government - they are directly enabled, funded, and encouraged by the government."

Some are. Not all. Do we have even a shred of proof that these militants were directly connected to Hamas?
Look this is like an american militia assassinating a Russian dignitary and Russia attacking Republican National Party headquarters. Sure the GOP has some ties to the militias. They have a few goals in common, and at the extreme ends of the GOP they overlap with the militias. But are they identical? No not at all. Should all Republicans be treated as terrorists and subject to kidnapping due to the actions of the fringe?



"To call them “unconnected” is like saying Sinn Fein had f***-all to do with the IRA. In fact, it’s directly analogous - imagine that in the ‘80s and ‘90s Sinn Fein had won parliamentary majority in Ireland."

Sinn Fein was directly connected to the IRA. Hamas is directly connected to some militants. If however one of the IRA splinter factions (of which there were at least three) attacked a british constable and Britain responded by attacking Sinn Fein I'd be plenty outraged.



" It’s about Iran flexing its geopolitical muscle."

The issue was started by Israel. Iran doesn't have the muscle to do that. I can't make this any clearer the whole thing started with Israel ignoring the law and kidnapping civilians.



"Iran is demonstrating how they do not need nuclear weapons to create instability in the region."

Iran will suffer much more from instability than we would. This is like the paranoid fantasies of the neo-cons who want to say that Iran is destabilizing Iraq just to teach us a lesson. Yeah cause Iran really wants to live across the street from an Iraq descended into chaos.
Iran has a lot of problems but suicidal tendencies aren't among them.



"It has only attacked those parts of the Lebanese infrastructure necessary to prevent the removal of its soldiers to an unfriendly nation - also preventing easy entrance by Iran or Syria’s forces."

read Juan Cole:
"Israel struck at large numbers of targets on Sunday, and early Monday morning, that had nothing to do with Hezbollah. The far north of Lebanon is Sunni, as is the port of Tripoli, where the Israelis killed a Catholic Lebanese soldier. They also hit factories in north Beirut, not a Shiite area. They bombed a village near Zahle, a notorious center of Greek Orthodox, killing 3 civilians. The Israelis are either not very good shots, since they have murdered 140 civilians since Wednesday and only managed to kill about 17 Lebanese military personnel. Or they just don't give a damn."
http://www.juancole.com/2006/07/israel-widens-airstrikes-140-civilians.html



"The Israeli military, having learned from the ‘90s, has demonstrated admirable humanity, going so far as to drop leaflets 24 hours in advance advising civilians to leave areas that will be attacked."

Come on James, you know what that is and it isn't humanitarianism. It's a psyop. Terrify the enemy by letting them know you are coming. It's no different than the leaflets we dropped in Vietnam or if you are feeling nostalgic of the jungle drums the natives used to let the colonials know they were pissed off. Israeli military forces don't give a damn about civilians and their body count shows this: by one count they've killed fifty civilians for every Hamas member and that was on the Corner (the National Review is not exactly anti-israel if you read it).



"Lebanon could end this conflict tomorrow by evicting Hezbollah from its southern regions, where Lebanese officials have not been seen for a decade."

Lebanon didn't have the strength to do that before Israel decided to bomb the hell out of them, they certainly don't have the strength now. What Israel has done is to unilaterally start a war with a neighbor that was in the infant steps of a home democracy movement, thus destroying all the progress of the cedar revolution, increasing tensions throughout the region, and most likely creating a failed state to their north.