Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
 

Recommended Photo Store
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading? Click here to find out.
 
Make your Amazon purchases though this banner to support our blog:
(If you don't see the banner click here for our Amazon store.)
 
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Contributors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Lex's Tweets
  • Jonathan's Tweets
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Disproportionate Response

    Posted by James R. Rummel on August 28th, 2006 (All posts by )

    Famed blogger Steven den Beste asked me if I would mind posting a few of his thoughts. Not at all! And here they are.

    During the recent war in southern Lebanon, one of the many complaints leveled at Israel was that its response was “disproportionate”. Care to hear the reason why the complainers wanted Israel to limit itself to “proportionate” responses?

    Once upon a time war was pretty simple: a couple of mobs of armed men met on a field somewhere more or less by appointment, and after some yelling and singing to get their courage up, they swarmed towards each other, with each individual man doing his best to try to harm men from the other side without getting hurt himself. Later you started getting different units of men armed in different ways, who fought with different weapons, but it remained the case that when a particular unit got involved in combat, it was as an undisciplined mob.

    Then the Greeks/Macedonians developed the pike, and for the first time you needed the men of a unit to move and fight as a team. That initiated the era of modern warfare which peaked with Napoleon, where maneuver was important and a great general could win against a more powerful enemy if he was smarter and craftier.

    Pre-industrial warfare, as typified by Napoleon, pretty much came to an end during the 19th century, to be replaced by what I refer to as industrial warfare. The American Civil War was the first major industrial war, and what set it apart from previous wars was the overwhelming dominance of logistics in deciding the conflict. The South has the majority of the best generals, but the North still won because of its overwhelming logistical superiority. (Of course, it required Lincoln to understand that he had to fight a long war, and it took a general ruthless enough to sacrifice enough of his own men in order to win.)

    By the early 20th century industrial warfare dominated war all over the world. It was only in the last part of the 20th century that a new form appeared: information-age war. But right now the US is the only real practictioner of this way of war, and in the rest of the world industrial war remains the norm.

    Industrial war can be summed up this way: God fights on the side which has the biggest pile of ammunition and the fastest rate of replacement of expended ammunition. Like any general principle it’s not absolutely unconditionally true, but that’s the norm.

    In response, two new strategic doctrines of war were developed to make it possible for small logistically-poor forces to contend against large logistically-rich forces without getting instantly crushed: guerrilla warfare and terrorist warfare. Both of them seek to nullify the logistical advantage of their richer opponents by maintaining initiative, so as to control the tempo of the war at a level low enough to not exhaust the logistics of the poorer side. For the rest of this discussion I’ll be concentrating on guerrillas.

    Guerrillas hide among civilians, and only come out and form up when they choose to fight. The rest of the time they’re invisible, which makes it impossible for their rich opponent to find them.

    It’s possible for guerrillas to win directly, but the doctrine doesn’t assume that to be the only way victory can be achieved. The idea is to try to fight a long slow war and to build strength. Guerrillas try to maintain a force-in-being, and concentrate heavily on propaganda. By so doing they try to wear out their opponent, try to rally supporters, and try to find patrons elsewhere to support the fight. When handled ideally all these begin slow but increase in effectiveness as time goes on. As their strength builds, they can make more attacks, and get more headlines. The other side’s war weariness grows. Patrons see the guerrillas winning and are more enthusiastic about providing more and better weapons and supplies to help them. Locals see them winning and are more likely to join or otherwise support them.

    Anyone recognize Hezbollah in what I just wrote? That’s what they’ve been trying to do in Lebanon. They haven’t been trying for a single big set-piece battle to defeat Israel; instead they’ve been building their strength slowly over time. In fact, it’s not even clear that Hezbollah is trying to win against Israel; their primary goal at this time may be to try to dominate Lebanon. But for political reasons, making ostentatious attacks against Israel has served them well in propaganda terms, and as a result of their general successes over the course of a few years their strength and prestige has been growing, leading to more support (or at least tacit acceptance) in Lebanon, and more logistical support from Syria and Iran. When there was a bloodless revolt in Lebanon against Syrian domination, Hezbollah emerged as one of the major power brokers and had to be included in the ruling coalition there.

    They’re slowing making the transition from hidden guerrilla forces mixed in with the civilian population to more organized and formal units, but hidden forced remained the majority of their force. Then they made the decision to grab a couple of Israeli soldiers.

    IMHO Israel botched this war, but that’s not the question I wanted to address in this discussion. The question I began with was, why did so many people demand “proportionate” responses from Israel, and condemn Israel’s bombing campaign as being “disproportionate”?

    It’s because Israel refused to play the game. Israel opened up an offensive which ran at a logistically unsustainable rate for Hezbollah, which Hezbollah could not avoid fighting. The code word “proportionate” really meant, “Israel, you have to limit yourself to fighting at a level that Hezbollah can sustain. Otherwise it’s just not fair!”

    Of course that’s idiocy; war isn’t about fairness. But that’s what they were really saying. Hezbollah did make a major mistake in that attack, because they had developed to the point where they actually presented a target Israel could fight against at a tempo Israel could sustain but Hezbollah could not. Israel had the opportunity to crush Hezbollah, but Olmert lost his nerve.

    Steven den Beste

     

    83 Responses to “Disproportionate Response”

    1. Gaijin Biker Says:

      Israel had the opportunity to crush Hezbollah

      I really do want to believe that. But as the war wound down, we heard news reports that Hezbollah wasn’t actually hurt so badly. Their rocket attacks increased, for example, instead of decreasing. Supposedly, Israel was smashing Lebanese infrastructure without actually doing much harm to the underground guerillas of Hezbollah.

      Was all this just anti-Israel media spin?

    2. Sir Sefirot Says:

      I DO think Israel could have blasted Hezbollah if it had the resolve to do it, but with all the weaponry, logistics, comunication shortages and wrong tactics being reported now in lots of military media, I think losses would have been quite high. With a bit of luck, this war will have teached the IDF what works and what not, and in a few months they’ll be able to go at it again, with more luck. At least this seems to be what Israeli people want right now.

    3. Shannon Love Says:

      I can’t help escape the impression that people who talk about “proportionate” responses look at warfare as some form of theater or performance art. They seem more concerned about the symbolism of the various tactics and strategies than their efficacy or humaneness.

      Real war follows the old saying, “you don’t fight a pig by getting down in the mud and biting it.”

    4. Steven Den Beste Says:

      Gaijin Biker, over the short run Hezbollah did start firing rockets at a much higher rate. But that was because they thought they were in a “use them or lose them” situation. They had a big stockpile of rockets, carefully and slowly built up over a period of years, which they used up a large part of in the course of a couple of weeks.

      But they were not receiving replacements at the rate they were firing them.

      It’s not uncommon in situations where the poorer foe is operating at a logistically unsustainable rate for him to seem to be putting up a good fight — for a while. The other side has to have the fortitude to stick with the fight at that high rate, and to wait for the poorer opponent to run out his stockpiles. (Which is what Olmert didn’t do.)

    5. Gaijin Biker Says:

      I can see how a leader could decide against war, and I can see how one would decide for war.

      But I can’t understand how a leader would decide for war, send troops into battle, gain the upper hand, and then fail to see his decision through. Feh.

    6. andrew Says:

      “Their rocket attacks increased, for example, instead of decreasing.”

      The action fluctuates in war. Every upward spike doesn’t necessarily mean the enemy is getting stronger. We’ll never know for sure because there is no open and transparent flow of information coming from Hezbollah. Sometimes, like in the American Civil War, the worst fighting occurs as one side is collapsing. Again we’ll never know because Israel called the game off in the third inning.

    7. Lex Says:

      SDB once wrote, about the manouever where the Indian air force supposedly “beat” the American air force — in reality you don’t pit air force against air force, you pit total force against total force. In the situation Israel is facing with Hezbollah, it is not Hezbollah’s fighters versus the IDF and IAF. It is total society versus total society. Moreover, it is total society v. total society in the context of total alliance framework versus total alliance framework. Moreover, there is no “military” victory in isolation. There is only changed positions within and between the total alliance frameworks.

      Looking at it in that way, the picture becomes a little different. The Hezbollah side = Hezbollah in Lebanon + Syrian support + Iranian support + complicit (for their own reasons) news media and various activist groups in the West. The Israeli side = Israel, its political will, its military + support from the USA + tacit “green light” from Sunni Arab states + muted opposition from European countries. Where did the strong and weak points turn out to be? The strongest factor in the war turned out to be the Western media, Hezbollah’s all but explicit ally, which shaped the political battlefield and defined the meaning of the action, provided a vocabulary to talk about the action. The weakest factor in the war turned out to be the Israeli political leadership which could not bring itself to persevere in the face of the media-driven political environment. Another loser was the Israeli military, which provided itself ill-prepared for the conflict. The American leadership, which defined the situation as a “problem” amendable by a “ceasefire” also demonstrated weakness, hence losing on points. For Hezbollah, the conflict was probably a defeat, only because its physical assets, human and material, were badly damaged.

      What is proportional or not depends on the task being undertaken. The Israelis never defined what task they were undertaking, so that they could maintain flexibility, or because they were confused, or both. Hence, what is or is not proportional was left open to be defined by the most important enemy in the war, Hezbollah’s de facto ally, and the implicit ally of terrorism generally, the news media.

    8. DirtCrashr Says:

      Didn’t help that throughout the fighting the oxymoronic UN peace-keepers were publishing and posting “daily real-time intelligence…on the location, equipment, and force structure of Israeli troops in Lebanon.” And, “not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces.”
      Talk about asymmetrical information.

    9. Ginny Says:

      While the media seem to have hardened their positions, their strategies are more transparent than a decade ago. Since their strength depends upon trust, the last few years have undercut (to some degree) their effectiveness.

    10. Bill Says:

      In the words of Henry Kissinger: “The conventional army loses if it does not win.
      The guerrilla wins if he does not lose…” Using this rubric, Hezbollah won.

    11. Dan Hamilton Says:

      The major mistake was that they thought they could win with airpower. It seems that some in the Air Forces around refuse to learn that Air Power works great in helping win wars it can in the right circumstances devastate an emeny army such as happened in Gulf War I. BUT it cannot defeat someone like Hezbollah. Only boots on the ground can do that.

      Israel was not willing to make that commitment. They tried to do it on the cheap. It didn’t work. It has never worked. Troops must go in and dig Hezbollah out of their holes and KILL them. I hope that they have learned this.

      I hope WE have learned this. Air Power will not keep Iran from the BOMB. Only Boots on the ground finding the places where the equipment is and destroying it will work. You bomb a underground factory and what do you know. Nothing. You don’t know how much you distroyed. If what you hit was what you wanted to hit. Nothing.

    12. SWLiP Says:

      I think that Israel’s mistake was more strategic than tactical. If the IDF/IAF had launched an assault on Syria’s military and political assets, it would have won over the anti-Syria and fence-sitting elements in Lebanon while demonstrating beyond doubt that Hezbollah was a strategic liability rather than an asset to Syria and, perhaps, Iran. Once Baby Assad started to lose his tanks in the Bekaa Valley, I suspect that Hezbollah’s political stance would have been much less tenable.

    13. Ziv Says:

      When this war ended I was convinced the Olmert and Halutz had botched it completely, by fighting a war that was reliant on the reduction of the Hezbollah static positions with an emphasis on guided munitions from the IAF. The problem with that is that Halutz and his top generals told the USAF in 2002 that the Israeli’s would rely on domestically produced FAE to do the work of bunker busting rather than penetrators, with predictable results. A de-emphasis on infantry tactical training over the past few years did the IDF no good, either.
      The surprising truthful statement by Nasrallah that he probably wouldn’t have committed the original attack/kidnapping if he had know what the response would have been, really highlights the fact that the Lebanese people are angry as hell, and Hezbollah has reportedly had to cancel several ‘victory’ celebrations due to a hostile response by the supposed victors.
      One other factor that will be interesting to note in the future is the incredibly rapid debunking of faked propaganda photos published by Reuters. The blogs just keep getting more relevant to the ‘clash of civilizations’.
      SDB, Thank You very much for your insight into this, I really learn a lot from your writing!

    14. SWLiP Says:

      I think that Israel’s mistake was more strategic than tactical. If the IDF/IAF had launched an assault on Syria’s military and political assets, it would have won over the anti-Syria and fence-sitting elements in Lebanon while demonstrating beyond doubt that Hezbollah was a strategic liability rather than an asset to Syria and, perhaps, Iran. Once Baby Assad started to lose his tanks in the Bekaa Valley, I suspect that Hezbollah’s political stance would have been much less tenable.

    15. DJ Says:

      Greetings, SDB. Nice post. I’ve got one thing to add. Something you’re leaving out of the “proportionality” discussion is that it’s a term of art in the Just War tradition. It means something quite specific in that context: the proportionality requirement is a matter of proportionality between the cost in lives and the value of the military goal, not proportionality of casualties on both sides.

      Pat Buchanan, who surely knows better, pretends to miss this point in his anti-Semitic rant at RCP, Israel is Playing Us For Fools. This allows him to pretend that those nasty Zionists — who aren’t Christian, btw — are anathema to Christian morality (as manifest in the Just War tradition):

      If Israel is not in violation of the principle of proportionality, by which Christians are to judge the conduct of a just war, what can that term mean? There are 600 civilian dead in Lebanon, 19 in Israel, a ratio of 30-1, though Hezbollah is firing unguided rockets, while Israel is using precision-guided munitions.

      Notice that Buchanan invokes Just War theory in order to speak of Christian moral standards of war, but uses the key term “proportionality” in the common way — as if the proportionality required by the theory were proportionality of the dead. Of course he thereby sets standards for the prosecution of war that no US (foreign) war has ever met, especially not the “Good War.” But it’s a clever bit of rhetorical red meat for the slavering anti-Jew crowd.

    16. Peg C. Says:

      Some of us are just delighted to see any words of wisdom from SDB. No further comment needed from me – just THANKS to Glenn for the heads up!

    17. Bill Dalasio Says:

      Mr. DenBeste,

      For what it’s worth, an excellent article, as usual.

      Shannon Love,

      Its always kind of struck me as sadly ironic that the people who most loudly and vociferously seek to remind the rest of us that “war is not a game”, seem to be the first and quickest to apply the rules and assumptions of sport to military conflict

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      Bill Dalasio,

      It is also those who cry the loudest against supposed Israeli or American violations international “law” or the laws-of-war are the first to ignore or excuse the explicit and intentional violations of our enemies.

      They forget the Roman admonishment that, “the law is for all or none.”

    19. Mike K Says:

      Another factor being reported from Israeli sources is a failure of the Israeli logistics system with stockpiles of supplies not being present as expected and poor IDF training during the 20 years since the last major campaign. There may be some corruption going on in the supply story. I have also read that the IDF found 10 story deep bunkers, much more sophisticated than expected so there was some intelligence failure as well. There will almost certainly be a round two unless Iran has a revolution.

    20. Jamie McArdle Says:

      Re: “use or lose” use of missiles – yes, certainly, and of course don’t overlook the propaganda value of appearing stronger than you are when it no longer matters, or when you believe that a(n unsustainable) show of strength may be the last straw for your opponent.

      I hesitate to pull military analogies from fiction, but… The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress: the scrappy revolutionaries have only so many steel-clad rocks to throw at the Earth. They know they’re going to run out – it’s inevitable. So how best to use their last of their supply? Should they toss them at a trickle and so extend the time over which they can be considered “armed and dangerous”? Or stick to their schedule of volleys even knowing that they only have one more round?

      They decide to stick to the schedule, because signs indicate that there’s movement on the diplomatic front Earthside. Being fiction, it works. Hezbollah, unfortunately being a nonfiction entity, waited until the cease-fire was pretty much in the bag, then threw that last punch to “prove” that they weren’t on the ropes, and to keep their patrons on board (who wants to patronize a loser? Cheer for one, yes; sponsor one, not so much).

      Re: “Just Wars” – pah. One side adheres to a self-imposed just peace, but has to hamstring itself in order to let the unjust and amoral have a chance at victory?

    21. Paul M. Says:

      The idea of proportionality in wartime combat is nonsense. I am a WWII Marine. The object of warfare is to defeat an opposing force. You use all the tools at hand.

    22. DJ Says:

      Jamie, Paul:

      Maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough. I’m neither supporting nor attacking Just War doctrine, just pointing out that “proportionality” as a criterion of moral conduct in war didn’t appear out of nowhere — it came from this tradition. However, it’s meaning in that tradition is not the meaning that has been getting invoked wrt Israel. In particular, it has nothing to do with measuring one side’s dead against the other. By that criterion, as Buchanan must realize, all US wars would be immoral. But that isn’t the criterion, and if it were, the theory would be worthless.

    23. Kaul Says:

      IMO, Hezbollah [a terrorist org] instigated this war to send the barely recovered Lebanon a message – that, Hezbollah can spin the nation into chaos anytime they please.
      And, to stem the rapidly hemorrahging Syrian influence in the levant

    24. mwl Says:

      Anyone who brings up the casualty numbers on each side to claim disproportionate force by the IDF deserves scorn. By that ‘logic’, Israel is evil because it expended effort to protect its civilian population and Hezbollah did not.

      The Lebanese people need to ask why, when Hezbollah was fortifying southern Lebanon, they failed to take any equivalent steps to protect civilians from bombardment. Then, perhaps, they might want to reconsider their support for an organization that is eager to feed their children to a meat grinder for the sake of propaganda.

    25. Steve White Says:

      A big thank you to SDB for an excellent synthesis of the problem, and a thanks to ‘Lex’ in the comments for a useful extension. A question to ponder (and I don’t know the answer to this, and this is NOT one of those ‘yes but’ comments designed to irritate the posting party!) —

      — which side in this particular conflict, the Israelis or Hezbollah, is more likely to learn from their mistakes in the last round?

      From this post, the news, etc., I can imagine that the Israeli mistakes are clear: lack of clarity as to their goals, a political structure that was unsuited to the needs of the conflict, unwillingness to ‘stick it out’ for several weeks or months to achieve those goals, an army that had become soft and less-well equipped to undertake the needed mission, an under-appreciation of Hezbollah anti-tank weapons and tactics, an over-reliance on air power, and alienating major political patrons (there may be more I’m missing).

      Likewise, I can identify at least some of the weaknesses of Hezbollah: miscalculating the willingness of the Israelis to hit back hard, unsustainable consumption of military supplies, inability to fight it out with Israeli infantry units, inability to prevent precision air strikes from depleting needed resources, and alienating major political patrons. Again, there may be more I’m missing.

      And so often in war, it becomes a matter of learning from one’s initial mistakes. Hezbollah is mostly a ‘black-box’ to me, and I don’t understand a fair bit of Israeli politics. So any insight into the question, who’s going to learn from their mistakes best, would be helpful and (perhaps) interesting.

    26. Christian Says:

      Mr. den Beste: Many thanks for the wise words. Exactly as I remember you to be: thought-provoking and spot-on in your analysis.

    27. otpu Says:

      I think one element of round 1 of the Israeli / Hezbollah street brawl that has not been examined is the pitiful state of readiness shown by the Israeli ground forces. The artillery, the tankers, and the infantry were not ready for this war, they had insufficient stockpiles, and inadequate ready supplies of all the necesssary material for waging war.

      Further the morale of the soldiers was at an all time low for any Israeli units actually involved in combat.

      This could have been a major disaster for Israel if they had to deploy any of these unready units any further into Lebanon.

      Maybe the U.N. mandated cease fire is a good thing for Israel. Giving Hezbollah time to rearm may not be as important as giving the Israeli Army time to get its act together.

      otpu

    28. fred lapides Says:

      So much non sense has been written about this war! While the post makes a good deal of sense, it ought to consider the just-released brief statement from Hezbollah that had they known Israel would strike back with such intensity they would not have nabbed the soldiers!

      In fact, if one or the other side “won,” thenwho lost?Lebanon! Now, to the point. Imagine that Hezbollah does in fact totally rearm. does anyone honestly believe they will begin lobbing rockets again at Israel and have Lebanon again destroyed?
      israeldid not launch a full military attack because they knew the cost in Israeli lives.

      Hezbollah will either take over Lebanon politically and turn that country into a sattelite of Iran and Suria–an odd combo!–or Hezbollah will be seen as a troublesome cancer that will destroy the country if allowed to grow. The choice is that of the voters.

    29. The Sanity Inspector Says:

      What a wonderful surprise, to find a piece by Mr. Den Beste! I liked this analysis very much.

      Israel’s population is too small to fight a “meatgrinder” war–they may have to just suffer the jeers of Hezbollah and its patrons and Western fans until next time.

      As for “industrial war”, I think this is a prescient thought, from the end of the 19th Century:

      …everybody will be entrenched in the next war. It will be a great war of entrenchments. The spade will be as indispensable to a soldier as his rifle…
      At first there will be great slaughter – increased slaughter on so terrible a scale as to render it impossible to get troops to push the battle to a decisive issue. They will try to, thinking that they are fighting under the old conditions, and they will such a lesson that they will abandon the attempt for ever. Then, instead of a war fought out to the bitter end in a series of decisive battles, we shall have as a substitute a long period of continually increasing strain upon the resources of the combatants. The war, instead of being a hand-to-hand contest in which the combatants measure their physical and moral superiority, will become a kind of stalemate, in which, neither army being able to get at the other, both armies will be maintained in opposition to each other, threatening each other, but never able to deliver a final and decisive attack.
      — Jean de Bloch, The Future of War, 1898

    30. Paul Says:

      So, the Islamist in the form of Hezzbollah tried something different. Next time, or the time after, they will try nuclear weapons. Maybe infiltrating terrorists, light planes, and goodbye Tel Aviv, Jerusalem. Three bombs would be better. A billion Muslims will thank God. And what will the Israelis do? I cannot imagine surviving Jews staying.

    31. David Says:

      You’re on the mark on the important stuff, but your description of the Civil War is reflective of a popular, yet inaccurate myth: that the North won due to logistical superiority and not due to the genius of its military leaders. It is true that the North had a series of disappointing Generals-in-Chief. But General Grant was not one of them. He was a military genius and recent scholarship on the subject demonstrates this.

    32. bunkerbuster Says:

      Sorry Steven, you’ve completely misrepresented the “disproportionate” argument. Israel attacked bridges, hospitals and airports, handing Hezbollah a massive, warranted public opinion advantage.

      You acknowledge that Israel lost the battle and suffered in public opinion terms. Both of those are true and the reason that happened is that the respone was disproportionate.

      Moreover, Israel routinely kidnapped and killed Arabs in both southern Lebanon and Gaza. If that is a cause of war, then it’s safe to say Israel started it.

    33. Hornet Says:

      The lessons of this war will be best used by the Israelis who will be better prepared the next time. Since their backs are to the sea, the have more incentive to learn from one’s own mistakes. The Arabs have a hard time admitting their mistakes which condemn their armies to making the same mistakes repeatedly.

      Plus, if Hizbollah rank and file believes that it won, it makes it hard to change yourself to meet the next threat.

    34. Ray Says:

      Here’s hoping that SDB can be convinced to continue posting his astute analyses to ChicagoBoyz or RedState. For those of us who miss USS Clueless, Den Beste’s occasional short MetaFilter posts have been a poor substitute for the real thing.

    35. M. Simon Says:

      So if Israel lost the war why is Hizballah leaving Lebanon. Giving up their Shaba issue?

      Militias Disarmed?

      Pointing Out the Obvious

      Hizbollah Beats Israel Loses Arabs

    36. michael Says:

      How a Lebanese Catholic sees it. You also have Anton Enfendi not romanticizing Hezbollah or Syria. David Grossman, who lost a son, killed in a tank subsequently, and other Israeli authors spoke out for asking Lebanon to assume a role deciding about Hezbollah. Why can’t that happen?

    37. M. Simon Says:

      What we are watching is modern siege warfare and most folks don’t get it.

      Cash Flow Jihad Meets Aftermath

      Cash Flow Jihad Strikes Hamas

      Iran to Enter Cash Flow Jihad Zone

      and why is Hizballah having such a bitter victory?

      The Bitter Taste of Victory

    38. Shannon Love Says:

      bunkerbuster,

      Israel attacked bridges, hospitals and airports, handing Hezbollah a massive, warranted public opinion advantage.

      *Sigh* transportation and communication networks used by military forces are legitimate targets. Ditto for hospitals if offensive military assets (like rocket launchers) are stationed there.(They caught people lying red-handed about that) Hezbollah was tightly intertwined with the civilian infrastructure throughout Lebanon.

      Israel lost the PR war because the world wide major media repeated every piece of Hezbollah fabricated information as the gospel truth.

    39. mark safranski Says:

      “Israel had the opportunity to crush Hezbollah, but Olmert lost his nerve”

      Olmert was a fool but his going ” wobbly” in terms of nerve wasn’t really the relevant factor in Israel’s poor peformance. Israel’s strategy made very little sense because it did not match means with ends. An EBO attack works poorly against irregulars and wasn’t going to destroy decentralized Hezbollah cells regardless of how intensely it was employed.

    40. M. Simon Says:

      War is about politics by other means.

      Hizballah is a spent force in Lebanon.

      Syria has 100s of thousands of Hizballah supporters to deal with.

      Iran doesn’t have the cash to maintain Shia support in Lebanon (the greenbacks – American currency – they were handing out were counterfiet)

      The new Hizballah of Syria may be the old Hizballah of Lebanon. Somewhat the worse for wear.

    41. Bozoer Rebbe Says:

      It’s possible for guerrillas to win directly, but the doctrine doesn’t assume that to be the only way victory can be achieved.

      Has a guerrilla force ever won directly? It seems to me that the only time guerrillas have won is when they developed into actual armies, as with Castro and Mao. Guerrillas can force a stalemate, for sure, but I don’t know of any that have won a war directly.

    42. Mark Says:

      What seems to be missing from most (not all) of this discussion is the most important factor: Will Power. Hezbollah has it over the long run. Western Democracies are not good at maintaining Will Power. Totalitarian societies are. Hitler would cut through armies like Hezbollah or Iraqi insurgents like a scythe, and would win easily because he would be fighting for Total Victory, meaning, Unconditional Surrender most likely combined with Ethnic Cleansing. If non-combatants assisted the guerillas they would be eliminated. Industrial totalitarian regimes combine logistical power with will power, and overcome the guerilla’s edge.

      We don’t want to have to become a Totalitarian society to achieve victory, but we don’t have the will power to fight for total victory against opponents that are willing to stay in the fight and take any punishment we dish out. Our society therefore gets the impression that wars aren’t worth fighting. Well, they’re not worth fighting the way we fight them against the type of enemy we’re fighting, that’s for sure.

      I don’t know what the solution to this dilemma is.

    43. rosignol Says:

      Maybe I didn’t make my point clearly enough. I’m neither supporting nor attacking Just War doctrine, just pointing out that “proportionality” as a criterion of moral conduct in war didn’t appear out of nowhere — it came from this tradition.[…]

      Are there any examples of any nation fighting a war as per Just War doctrine describes and winning? I an unable to think of any, but my knowledge of military history is far from encyclopedic.

      I am inclined to consider Just War doctrine/theory/tradition to be a bit of philosophical nonsense thought up by pacifists who have the ultimate goal of making war unfightable.

      The sooner it is recognized for what it is, the better.

    44. bunkerbuster Says:

      Shannon Love writes: “*Sigh* transportation and communication networks used by military forces are legitimate targets.”

      What about office towers?

    45. JAFAC Says:

      Thanks SDB – once again, rational and intelligent.

      The good news is that Hezbollah, while fighting a guerilla war, has yet to have a “Valley Forge” Moment. As such, I think their morale will continue to sink. More importantly, Hezbollah’s biggest ally – the Media – has been wounded. No longer will the major networks show a picture of an ambulance with a 6″ hole in the roof and claim it was a missile attack. Israel might just be able to openly attack a mosque with all networks stationed next door and get away with it considering the gaping hole Hezbollah has suffered in its credibility. This is where Hezbollah has been most hurt.

    46. bunkerbuster Says:

      “Israel might just be able to openly attack a mosque with all networks stationed next door and get away with it.”

      At least you’re honest about how radically biased your idea of how the media should work is.

    47. bunkerbuster Says:

      “Israel might just be able to openly attack a mosque with all networks stationed next door and get away with it.”

      At least you’re honest about how radically biased your idea of how the media should work is.

    48. Dantravels Says:

      The “Disproportionate Response” annoyed me most because it seems no one has ever read Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’.

      In this book Sun Tzu advises that one should never go into battle unless they had superior forces in multiples. (forgive me if my details are a bit innaccurate). Suffice it to say, I completely agree with this part of your comment : ‘The code word “proportionate” really meant, “Israel, you have to limit yourself to fighting at a level that Hezbollah can sustain. Otherwise it’s just not fair!”‘

      The next problem was that Israel was pressured to stop the action because there was a tiny chance they could have had a clear victory.

    49. PersonFromPorlock Says:

      A ‘proportionate’ response for Israel would be for them to fire one rocket at random into Lebanon for every rocket fired at random from Lebanon into Israel. Somehow, I don’t see the World nodding its collective head and saying “yes, that’s fine.”

    50. Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Says:

      Great analysis, SDB, thanks!
      (tiny typo: “but hidden forced remained the majority of their force.” >> hidden forces remain it’s just not fair, I really think our fairy tales & myths are missing the Strong, Good King-Hero fighting evil honorless weaklings. Our myths have us supporting the good underdog. And a “fair fight.”

      In the lack of such myths, now necessary, we are indeed at the ‘end of history’. We need to write new history, new myths.

      I first thought that Lebanon should surrender, and Israel should get an unconditional surrender Victory. But no moral Western country can achieve that today against a guerilla or terrorist force (at least, not until after a terrorist uses a nuke to mushroom Tel Aviv).

      Currently I’m thinking Israel almost optimized its defeat. Perhaps the only way Israel can get peace with its neighbor shame-based society Arabs is through defeat; Israeli defeat. Like this Leb war. Peace thru defeat. Declare defeat and accept a Leb Peace Treaty.

      I like the newspeak irony of both sides then falsely claiming victory, when: Defeat is Victory.

    51. Shannon Love Says:

      bunkerbuster,

      What about office towers?

      Yes, if they the enemy makes use of them. Where did you get the idea that any class of buildings is immune from attack?

      The Geneva Convention places the obligation to protect civilian lives and special buildings like hospitals and museums on the party in the conflict that has boots on the ground in the area. Warring parties mutually protect specific buildings by carefully taking care not to station military assets in or near the buildings. They protect civilians buy evacuating them from potential targets.

      Thanks to people like you, Hezboallah and similar groups have absolutely no incentive to protect civilian lives or infrastructure because you will lay all deaths and all destruction at the doorstep of their enemies.

    52. John F. Opie Says:

      DJ quoted Buchanan:

      /Start
      If Israel is not in violation of the principle of proportionality, by which Christians are to judge the conduct of a just war, what can that term mean? There are 600 civilian dead in Lebanon, 19 in Israel, a ratio of 30-1, though Hezbollah is firing unguided rockets, while Israel is using precision-guided munitions.
      /End

      Um, this is primarily a function of the Israelis trying to see that their citizens weren’t hurt, while the Hezbollah went out of their way to make sure that someone else’s citizens were deliberately put in harms’ way.

      John

      PS: SDB, you are sorely, sorely, sorely missed.

    53. EW1(SG) Says:

      IDF Captain Dan Gordon at Jewish World Review make the point that the Israelis gave Hizballah a proper mauling but missed out in the propaganda aspect.

    54. David Gillies Says:

      One thus-far unanswered question is how rapidly and how thoroughly Israel can apply the lessons learnt in this conflict to future action against Hezbollah and its proxies. I think one of the most important things they have to take on board is the need to get inside the news cycle, and that means sudden, overwhelming combined-arms attack (shock and awe if you will) in order to gain a significant military foothold before the anti-Semitic world media can ramp up their propaganda machine. Fortunately Western armies can and do learn quickly from failure (it’s a much more effective driver of doctrinal evolution than success).

      Another point that this episode underscores is what an utter catastrophe was the incapacitation of Ariel Sharon at this time. Olmert has to go, and I think a robust purge of the IDF General Staff is needed, too.

    55. Sunguh Says:

      Perceptions of this war are changing. There is a lot of backpedaling going on in Lebanon at the moment, making these declarations of victory seem quite empty. Although I share the conviction that the Israeli’s most likely missed some opportunities due to an indecisive political leadership.

      ‘Disproportionate criticisms’ are among the worst misreadings of war. A fundamental misunderstanding, and perpetuation of the continued hope for ‘humanitarian warfare’. The conceit that it can be fair, bagh…. wouldn’t that have the unintended effect of making war more affordable and desirable?

      People must think that the tragic view of war- ‘so horrible no one would want it’ is totally dead. Only people who completely reject war can come up with this garbage. And it’s they who we’ll bail out again.

    56. UnrepentantRedneck Says:

      As always, Steven is cogent and pretty much right on the mark. There was one omission, however. Modern Information War includes Information Operations (IO). A key component of IO is Psychological Operations – and the Israelis, like the US in the GWOT, not only lost the PsyOps war, they didn’t even deign to fight it. Look how Hezbollah controlled the pictoral images coming out of Lebanon – using the MSM as foils. One wonders just how much stock Iran and the Madrassas own in publicly-traded MSM members like Reuters, NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc., and how much editorial control that gives them.
      Until we engage in the PsyOps war, we lose an essential component in stopping guerillas AND terrorists.

    57. PacRim Jim Says:

      “Olmert lost his nerve” assumes that he has one.

    58. bunkerbuster Says:

      Shannon Love: Are you suggesting that the Pentagon and World Trade Center were legitimate targets?

    59. bunkerbuster Says:

      The militarists here need not speak only in hypotheticals about waging “all out” war against Islamic extremists.

      Russia’s Putin has deployed that strategy in Chechnya and we can see that the results there are hardly better than Israel’s in Lebanon…

      Of course, we can also see what has happened to domestic Russian politics as a result of Putin’s strategy and, of course, need to consider that in any cost/benefit analysis.

    60. Ginny Says:

      I like comparisons, analogies, metaphors. They are also often useful. But sometims they are the sound of empty thinking.

      How is 9/11 – when no enemy has declared war the same as Israel’s response to the kidnapping & murder of soldiers on its own territory? I realize in some political groups private property isn’t considered as important as we consider it (though, of course, if you want real freedom & real rule of law a system like ours is helpful), but surely these comparisons, which might sound good over a beer at a tavern thick with muddy ideas, are ones that miss all the essentials & seem to settle on the most superficial similarities.

    61. Jonathan Says:

      . . . but surely these comparisons, which might sound good over a beer at a tavern thick with muddy ideas, are ones that miss all the essentials & seem to settle on the most superficial similarities.

      Beautifully put. Thanks.

    62. Anonymous Says:

      “How is 9/11 – when no enemy has declared war the same as Israel’s response to the kidnapping & murder of soldiers on its own territory?”

      So are you saying it’s OK to bomb office towers if you declare war, but not OK if you don’t declare war?

      More important, are you suggesting Al Qaeda did not “declare war” against the U.S.?

    63. James R. Rummel Says:

      So are you saying it’s OK to bomb office towers if you declare war, but not OK if you don’t declare war?

      One of the biggest waste of time when conducting a debate is when your opponent attempts to construct a straw man. Usually they do this because their position is untenable, and they start to dance as fast as they can in an attempt to distract.

      Terrorists are people who violate all recognized rules of war. They do not wear uniforms, they mingle with the civilian population to avoid detection, and they deliberately attack civilians and other targets which have no military value. They also use facilities normally off limits, such as hospitals and ambulances, as storage for weapons and staging areas from which to launch attacks.

      Just as soon as one party breaks an agreement, then it is no longer in force. Terrorists violate every treaty, pact, law and accord that has attempted to govern acceptable military action. By any reasonable assesment, they are murderous vermin with whom negotiation is a waste of time. Any arguement that they deserve honorable treatment, or that their attacks are justified military actions, is absolute madness.

      James

    64. bunkerbuster Says:

      That’s a pretty thick strawman you’ve made there James. You write: “ Any argument (sic) that they deserve honorable treatment, or that their attacks are justified military actions, is absolute madness.”

      But no one is claiming that. Your assertion, then, is a flagrant strawman that you so grandiloquently set in flames. Congratulations.

      Moreover, your assertion that violations of rules by one side nullify the rules for its enemy is without substance. The rules exist to limit escalation and lethality, not to make war “fair” as some here have argued recently and as your silly syllogism implies.

    65. James R. Rummel Says:

      But no one is claiming that.

      Let us just back up and take a look at one of your previous statements….

      Moreover, Israel routinely kidnapped and killed Arabs in both southern Lebanon and Gaza. If that is a cause of war, then it’s safe to say Israel started it.

      Last time I checked the Israelis were targeting terrorists, their hideouts, their assets, and those that openly aided the terrorists.

      It seems pretty clear that you are trying to claim that Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations are justified in attacking Israel because Israel acts to protect itself from their attacks, a point of view which is as breathtaking in lack of reality as it is in lack of morality.

      Moreover, your assertion that violations of rules by one side nullify the rules for its enemy is without substance. The rules exist to limit escalation and lethality, not to make war “fair” as some here have argued recently and as your silly syllogism implies.

      Another straw man since I never said that the rules exist to make war fair. Instead I said that any claim that terrorists deserve honorable treatement is madness.

      You are also making false statements when you say that the rules exist no matter what. Just read the Geneva Conventions and you will readily see that it specifically excludes nationals of a state which is not bound by the convention. I hardly think that members of Hezbollah qualify since they are bearing arms for an organization that isn’t recognized as a state.

      But even if Hezbollah was a signatory, the Convention specifically excludes “acts of terrorism”. Considering their past history, it is reasonable to say that Hezbollah has long since destroyed any chance they once had to claim protected status.

      James

    66. bunkerbuster Says:

      “Last time I checked the Israelis were targeting terrorists, their hideouts, their assets, and those that openly aided the terrorists.”

      That’s debatable, but irrelevant to my point, which was clearly that: IF kidnapping and assassination are causes of war, Israel had committed them on numerous occassions BEFORE the Hezbollah attacks that allegedly precipitated Israel’s latest invasion of Lebanon.

      And, James, please stop making strawmen like this one: “It seems pretty clear that you are trying to claim that Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations are justified in attacking Israel because Israel acts to protect itself from their attacks.”

      It is neither pretty nor clear that that is what I have said. I have stated the fact that Israel routinely commits acts that are identical to those it says caused it to invade Lebanon.

      You assert that Israel’s acts are justified because they are defending themselves, but you fail to explain why the people of Lebanon lack the same right of self-defense.

      Israel, like Hezbollah, has a history of violating the rules of war. Surely you are familiar with the many examples of torture, kidnapping, “collective punishment,” assassination, etc. committed by Israel, not to mention its illegal occupation of neighbors land, including parts of Lebanon.

      Are you not aware that Israel’s founding fathers were terrorists who, like the Palestinian extremists of today, bombed hotels and other civilian targets? Does that history, in your mind, disqualify Israel from the protections of international law? If not, why do assert that it does, apparently, for the people of Palestine and Lebanon?

      I have been clear and consistent. My argument is that BOTH Israeli and Arab terrorists are unworthy of honorable treatment. Your argument, a strawman with pyromania, is that Israeli terrorists do indeed deserve honorable treatment.

    67. bunkerbuster Says:

      And James: the “rules of war” go far beyond the Geneva Convention. The U.S. Army, for examples, has rules for how it wages war. Apparently, the don’t include a proviso regard enemy compliance, but rather, are simply rules. Among them:

      “b. Binding on States and Individuals. The law of war is binding not only upon States as such but also upon individuals and, in particular, the members of their armed forces….

      498. Crimes Under International Law

      Any person, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian. who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible thereof and liable to punishment….

      499. War Crimes

      The term “war crime” is a technical expression for violation of the law of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime…. ”

      http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/mylai/fieldman.html

    68. Jonathan Says:

      “bunkerbuster” wrote:

      “Last time I checked the Israelis were targeting terrorists, their hideouts, their assets, and those that openly aided the terrorists.”

      That’s debatable, but irrelevant to my point, which was clearly that: IF kidnapping and assassination are causes of war, Israel had committed them on numerous occassions BEFORE the Hezbollah attacks that allegedly precipitated Israel’s latest invasion of Lebanon.

      Hezbollah has been murdering Israeli civilians and soldiers without provocation for years. Its recent kidnapping of Israeli soldiers was merely a final provocation. Israel’s kidnappings and assassinations have been of terrorist leaders who had been directing such murder attacks. The difference between the actions of Hezbollah and of Israel are the differences between murder and self-defense.

      And, James, please stop making strawmen like this one: “It seems pretty clear that you are trying to claim that Hezbollah and Palestinian terror organizations are justified in attacking Israel because Israel acts to protect itself from their attacks.”

      It is neither pretty nor clear that that is what I have said. I have stated the fact that Israel routinely commits acts that are identical to those it says caused it to invade Lebanon.

      As I pointed out above, Israel’s actions against Hezbollah have been in response to Hezbollah’s murders of Israelis and are thus morally justified while Hezbollah’s are not. That you ignore the moral distinction between murder and self-defense is telling.

      You assert that Israel’s acts are justified because they are defending themselves, but you fail to explain why the people of Lebanon lack the same right of self-defense.

      This is like saying that the police must not attack bank robbers if the robbers have taken hostages. The people of Lebanon are either complicit with Hezbollah or are its hostages. Hezbollah started a war against Israel. The people of Lebanon were unwilling or unable to stop Hezbollah. Why is Israel’s self-defense unjustified? Why is Israel’s defense of the Lebanese people against Hezbollah unjustified? What should Israel do in response to rocket attacks on Israeli towns (which have been ongoing for years)?

      Israel, like Hezbollah, has a history of violating the rules of war. Surely you are familiar with the many examples of torture, kidnapping, “collective punishment,” assassination, etc. committed by Israel, not to mention its illegal occupation of neighbors land, including parts of Lebanon.

      You are evenhanded between the murderer and the victim. Surely you are familiar with the many examples of “torture, kidnapping, ‘collective punishment,’ assassination, etc.” committed by Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah, Syria, etc. against Israelis and Jews. Surely you are aware that Israel’s occupation of territory has always been in response to aggression. Surely you are aware that Israel withdrew from Gaza, Lebanon, the Sinai (three times) and effectively from most of the West Bank. As usual, you ignore the political and moral context of Israel’s wars, in which it responded to attack or imminent attack, and focus solely on tactics. In your world the police officer and the murderer are both equally culpable, since both of them have guns and get into fights.

      Are you not aware that Israel’s founding fathers were terrorists who, like the Palestinian extremists of today, bombed hotels and other civilian targets? Does that history, in your mind, disqualify Israel from the protections of international law? If not, why do assert that it does, apparently, for the people of Palestine and Lebanon?

      Most of Israel’s founding fathers were not terrorists, rejected terrorism and on noteworthy occasions collaborated with the British in capturing Jewish terrorists. The few surviving Jewish terrorists either renounced terrorism after Israeli independence or were marginalized in Israeli society. Instances of Jewish terrorism in Israel since then have been few and far between, and the Israeli government has always condemned Jewish terrorism and has punished Jewish terrorists when possible. By contrast, terrorism by Arabs has been a widespread tactic since the 1920s, continues to this day, is applauded by Arab governments, is an instrument of Arab governments, is wildly popular among Arab populations, and is committed on a vastly wider scale than any Jewish terrorism ever was. There is thus no reasonable comparison between Arab and Jewish terrorism, and your assertion of moral equivalence is reckless and dishonest.

      I have been clear and consistent. My argument is that BOTH Israeli and Arab terrorists are unworthy of honorable treatment. Your argument, a strawman with pyromania, is that Israeli terrorists do indeed deserve honorable treatment.

      Your argument consists of glossing over the moral depravity of widespread and unprovoked Arab terror attacks against Israelis and Jews, while asserting that Israel’s defensive actions are just as bad. That’s clearly false.

      Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, and its reward has been years of terrorism including numerous rocket attacks on northern (and since the withdrawal from Gaza, southern) Israeli towns. Yet your moral sensitivities are activated only when Israel defends itself.

    69. Tyouth Says:

      If I may interject in James’ and Blockbuster’s dialogue: terrorism is not a bad thing in and of itself – it can be used to higher purposes and greater goods. “War on Terrorism” is fuzzy thinking (or seen to be more politically correct and persuasive) and not to the point; “war on Islamic and Allied Fascists” (or some such) is more to the point.

      In the system of nation-states it is preferable to live and let live but here Israel sees a threat within its neighbor state. Hezbolah is not a nation state. It is more closely related to pirate organizations of an earlier era (one could argue that it’s ascendancey as a political force begins to legitimize it – but as this happens Lebanon bears more resposiblity). It and its members simply aren’t due the considerations due a nation-state. Lebanon, unable to control Hez. has failed in it’s duties as a responsible nation-state and has sufferred the collateral damage.

    70. metaphysician Says:

      Just interjecting here, regarding bunkerbuster’s 9/11 comment:

      Actually, the Pentagon *is* a legitimate target of war. Blowing it up does not, in itself, violate any particular moral precept that I recognize.

      OTOH, having civilian ( un-uniformed ) terrorists do it, by hijacking a plane full of innocent bystanders and crashing it into the building, *those* are violations of the various rules of war.

      The World Trade Center, OTOH, is not a legitimate target by any logic I can comprehend. Its not a military base, nor is it an industrial site connected to the defense industry. Its destruction would cause economic harm, true, but if you did target it as a military objective for that reason, you’d be guilty of criminal stupidity, unless it cost little to do so. Even then, you’d get most of the same damage at least cost in life blowing it up at night.

    71. Jonathan Says:

      metaphysician: While the Pentagon might be a legitimate target as part of a hypothetical defensive war against a hypothetical aggressive USA, it is not a legitimate target if the attack on the USA is illegitimate, as clearly was the case on 9/11. By the same logic, Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli soldiers and military facilities are illegitimate because Hezbollah’s war against Israel and the Jews is aggressive and genocidal rather than defensive. Intent is critical to any determination of morality.

    72. Jonathan Says:

      Tyouth: A quibble. Isn’t Hezbollah more of a Condor Legion than it is a group of pirates?

    73. bunkerbuster Says:

      Jonathan: your views procede from a series of misrepresentations and falsehoods. Your central tenet: that Israel is morally superior and can therefore kill civilians with impunity, is without obvious substance, but a separate issue. Lets start instead by providing some facts against your falsehoods.

      Jonathan claim:
      1. “Hezbollah has been murdering Israeli civilians and soldiers without provocation for years.”
      But the fact is that Hezbollah was formed as a response to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, which surely counts as a provocation. Moreover, even after Israel withdrew from most, though not all, of Lebanon, it continued to kidnap and murder Lebanese, again, obvious provocations. More broadly, Israel occupies Arab land; tortures Arab prisoners, collects taxes it spends on Israelis to the exclusion of Arabs in occupied lands, assassinates political leaders and so on. These are clearly provocations and your assertion is obviously false.

      2. Jonathan asserts: “Hezbollah started a war against Israel.”
      Hezbollah formed to defend Lebanese Shia during Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon. How can it be, then, that Hezbollah “started” the war? Israel indeed withdrew from most of the Lebanese territory it occupied, but it continued to occupy the Sheba farms area and continued to routinely engage in kidnappings and assassinations on Lebanese territory.
      The Arab-Israeli conflict has a very long history. In this sense, to assert that Hezbollah “started it” won’t lead to any meaningful understanding of the nature and history of the conflict, let alone to a solution.
      The same applies to Jonathan’s assertion that: “Israel’s actions against Hezbollah have been in response to Hezbollah’s murders of Israelis and are thus morally justified while Hezbollah’s are not.”

      Israel attacked and occupied Lebanon. Hezbollah formed a militia to repel the invasion. Hez outlasted Israel, which partially withdrew. Israel continued to kidnap and assassinate Lebanese. Clearly, the situation involves numerous, continuous provocations from both sides.

      Jonathan asserts: “Israel’s occupation of territory has always been in response to aggression.”

      from wikipedia: “When Egypt sent UN officials away from the Egyptian-Israeli border and increased its military activity near the border, and blocked access of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt’s airforce fearing an imminent attack by Egypt.”

      This, historians agree, is how the part of the war that led to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights began. I recommend you read the entire Wiki entry on it, Jonathan. It points out numerous cases where Israel attacked first. In one case, Israel attacked Arab territory on concern water was being diverted away from Israel. That concern is legitimate, but the resort to military action that resulted in many deaths is telling.

      Jonathan also asks some simple, if disingenous questions:
      “Why is Israel’s self-defense unjustified?”

      No one is questioning self-defense. The argument here is that bombing Lebanese airports, highways, hospitals and civilian vehicles cannot reasonably be construed as self-defense. Nor can the building of Jewish-only suburbs in the occupied West Bank be described as self-defense. (It’s worth noting that Israel, de facto, claims the West Bank as its territory by religious tradition, not as any kind of necessary self-defense measure.)

      Jonathan also asks: “Why is Israel’s defense of the Lebanese people against Hezbollah unjustified?”

      To construe Israel’s invasion of Lebanon as a “defense of the Lebanese people” is by good measure the most Orwellian claim I’ve run across yet in any discussion, online or elsewhere. This “defense” Jonathan asserts has somehow turned Hezbollah’s leader into a national hero and boosted his organizations popularity in and out of Lebanon.

      Finally, a reasonable question: “What should Israel do in response to rocket attacks on Israeli towns (which have been ongoing for years)?”

      Declare that it will withdraw from all occupied territories and renounce all claims to land outside its pre-1967 borders.

      Jonathan asserts: “In your world the police officer and the murderer are both equally culpable, since both of them have guns and get into fights.”

      No, that has not been my claim at all. I recognize the legitimacy of limiting violence to the state, with important exceptions, namely self-defense. I have never sought to diminish the responsibility of Arab terrorists in any way. I have merely pointed to facts showing that Israel has historically provoked its neighbors and sought to eliminate them from territory it has no legitimate claim to.
      There will be no solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that does not include a willingness of Israel to abide by international law and recognize the right of Palestine to exist.
      You, on the other hand, claim that the police can do anything, including kill civilians without trial, simply because he has a badge.

      “Most of Israel’s founding fathers were not terrorists, rejected terrorism and on noteworthy occasions collaborated with the British in capturing Jewish terrorists.”

      Most Arab leaders reject terrorism and have routinely collaborated with the U.S. in capturing Arab terrorists.

      “The few surviving Jewish terrorists either renounced terrorism after Israeli independence or were marginalized in Israeli society.”

      Indeed, once Israel was independent, it could form a military and, therefore, pursue violent solutions without any rationale for resorting to terrorism. You can be sure Palestine will happily follow the same course.

      “There is thus no reasonable comparison between Arab and Jewish terrorism, and your assertion of moral equivalence is reckless and dishonest.”

      The differences in size and scope between Arab and Israeli populations and, instances of terrorism, are irrelevant to their moral equivalence.

      It is immoral to murder, period. As terrorism includes murder, it too is immoral. Israel was founded via violence that included terrorism. That terror was immoral, just as Arab terror is immoral. Your denial of that simple measure of reciprocity lies at the center of your misunderstanding of this issue.

    74. Jonathan Says:

      bunkerbuster wrote:
      Jonathan: your views procede from a series of misrepresentations and falsehoods. Your central tenet: that Israel is morally superior and can therefore kill civilians with impunity, is without obvious substance, but a separate issue. . .

      This assertion (emphasis added) is false, as anyone who reads what I actually wrote can easily see for himself. I argued that Israel is morally superior to its enemies because it behaves morally and they don’t, not that Israel possesses some inherent moral superiority that makes anything it does moral. Your (perhaps willful) misunderstanding of this distinction is telling.

      You perceive in Israeli actions only the worst motives, ignore provocations by Israel’s enemies (e.g., the PLO’s bombardment of northern Israel prior to Israel’s 1980 invasion) and insist on imputing a false moral equivalence between democratic Israel and the avowedly genocidal Hezbollah. Readers with more patience than I have are welcome to compare your assertions to the historical record and decide for themselves whether your partisan “facts” are in fact valid.

    75. bunkerbuster Says:

      “You perceive in Israeli actions only the worst motives,”

      No. Israel’s motives have always been mixed. In addition to self-defense, it has used military aggression to fulfill a theocratic vision of Greater Israel and the expense of Arab sovereignty and international law. This is why the problem is so difficult, it’s not the simple murderer versus victim situation you would like to believe it is.

      More broadly, the Cold War and now the widening conflict between the West and Islamic extremism have helped push Israel into the role as U.S. client state, spurring militarism.

      I’m not a partisan in this conflict. Rather, I have attempted to correct falsehoods and misrepresentations you have made about it. True, I do not agree with many of the mainstream media myths about Israel–that it always defends, never attacks, for example–but my disagreement has no ideological basis.

      Nor have I “ignored provocations by Israel’s enemies (e.g., the PLO’s bombardment of northern Israel prior to Israel’s 1980 invasion).”

      I noted that Israel invaded Lebanon, BEFORE Hezbollah even existed merely to correct your claim that Hezbollah has attacked Israel “without provocation.”

      You call Hezbollah “avowedly genocidal.”

      There is no evidence for this claim. Hezbollah, like ALL Arab states, considers the Zionist entity that occupies Arab land to be illegitmate. So does the UN and virtually every country on the planet. This is by no means “genocidal.” Does your use of that word reflect your own extremist partisanship?

      I have no need to either minimize Arab transgressions nor to exaggerate Israel’s. I have focused on pointing out Israeli militarism not because I think its enemies are without blame, but because I think any solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is in Israel’s hands, not its enemies.

      Israel, with mixed motives, has destroyed the political infrastructure of the Palestinian entity and, to some extent, southern Lebanon. The occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, along with targetted assassinations, kidnapping, torture and civlian murders that outnumber those committed by Palestinians by several times have decimated the meager political capital of Palestinian moderates.

      Isreal is economically and nmilitarily many, many times stronger than the Palestinian entity. It is also politically stronger, though does have a weaker geopolitical standing in terms of international support. It is in a position to compromise on its theological goal of a “Greater Israel.” This is the real issue, not any fantastic “moral superiority” or license to kill Palestinians.

      By contrast, the Palestinian Authority is in no position to surrender its claim to territories occupied by Israel. Arafat’s embrace of a two-state solution and attempts to negotiate a political settlement were rejected by Israel, which continued to insist on theological claims to a Greater Israel. As a result, Palestinian extremism gained ground on moderates, leading to the takeover of the government by Hamas.

      The pattern is clear: Israeli aggression and insistence on territorial expansion enables Palestinian extremism. This is why the solution to the conflict is in Israel’s hands, not the Palestinians.

    76. bunkerbuster Says:

      and, Jonathan writes: “I argued that Israel is morally superior to its enemies because it behaves morally and they don’t.”

      Your claim that Israel is moral because it behaves morally is tautological but also misleading. All along in this discussion, I have sought to focus on behavior, e.g. military aggression, whereas you have insisted on focusing on motive, in your view “self-defense.”

      Your argument has been that Israel is morally superior because its motives are morally superior, not its behavior. I have pointed out, for example, that Israel kills many, many times more civilians than the terrorists upon which you heap so much scorn do. Israel’s behavior is clear and it results in the deaths of far more Palestinians than vice versa. Your exceedingly thin rationalization of Israeli aggression lies solely on its motives, not its behaviors. Your confusion there is another reason you misunderstand the situation, whether deliberately or not.

    77. Yehudit Says:

      I want to take issue with the characterization of “Greater Israel.” It is Orwellian to call this a religious tradition without acknowledging that it is also Jewish history. Erasing this history is like airbrushing (these days Photoshopping) inconvenient people out of photographs. Jews have lived in Judah and Samaria for 2800 years at least by archeological evidence. As recognizably Jewish, with a clear line of language and culture from that time to the present, across all Jewish communities in the world. There has been maybe a 100 year period when Jews did not live there or in the Galilee. Any absence of a population of Jews in Israel has been due to ethnic cleansing by Babylonians, Romans. Christians, or Muslims. Yet we kept coming back.

      That’s history, and theology is one expression of it. Nobody questions the Japanese visceral connection to the Japanese landscape, or the Irish or the Navajo. The only difference with Israel is that we were ethnically cleansed more often than any other group in history and although we kept coming back, it was easy with that history for people to erase our history.

      Yes, it’s “Arab land” to people who think Spain is also Arab land. The Arabs are just going to have to get used to a part of the Middle East the size of New Jersey belonging to its rightful owners.

      If the Palestinians – a made-up ethnic group about 40 years old, which never agitated for a state when they lived in Egypt and Jordan (also a made-up country) – want a state of their own, fine, but it has no historical legitimacy, and has been given special status in international venues because that suits the agendas of the people promoting them. The Basques have a much firmer claim, more similar to the Jews, and have even used terrorism to pursue their goals, but the UN doesn’t care about them. Or the Tibetans, or the Kurds, or any other indigenous national group.

      Everything else you claim is completely topsy-turvy – it’s like you are living in mirror-land – and I might come back and refute them one by one, but this is the one that really chaps my hide. But it’s a standard rhetorical device of the anti-Israel left, along with everything else you’ve said.

      I would like a list of all the “terrorism” committed by Israel, deliberately to hurt and kill civilians, as the Palestinians do. No, you can’t claim the King David Hotel – it was a military HQ and they warned the residents to leave before they blew it up. Got any other examples? Links to Stormfront and Zmag don’t count.

    78. yehudit Says:

      “I have pointed out, for example, that Israel kills many, many times more civilians than the terrorists upon which you heap so much scorn do.”

      Half of all Palestinians killed violently are killed by each other, or in “work accidents.” Lots of extrajudicial executions. Or in propaganda efforts (Gaza beach, Mohammed al-Dura).

      When you compare Israeli and Palestinian deaths at the height of the Intifada, there is a larger proportion of Palestinian combatants killed than Israeli (young men), and among Israelis a much larger proportion of non-combatants: children, mothers, old people.

    79. Yehudit Says:

      I know I’m feeding the troll, but what the hey.

      “In addition to self-defense, it has used military aggression to fulfill a theocratic vision of Greater Israel and the expense of Arab sovereignty and international law. ”

      This is much more a behavior of Islam worldwide than of Israel. Sudan, China, Turkey, Russia, Nigeria, Thailand, the Philipines… bloody borders.

      After winning the 67 war, Israel offered to give the West Bank back to Jordan in exchange for a peace agreement with the Arab bloc. They said no. They left the Palestinians under Israeli occupation to keep them an Israeli problem, then used their influence at the UN to make them an international problem precisely to delegitimize Israel.

      As I said, many occupied popualtions are subject to much worse treatment by people who have no intention of returning them to their previous nations, or to their own sovereignty, and the UN doesn’t give a shit about them. Like the Sudan. Or the Tibetans. This is the Arab bloc using the UN to treat the rest of the world like shit, and the other nations complying out of white guilt and a need for oil. And that’s all international “law” is – a struggle for power under a different name.

      Israle also gave back Sinai, again in return for a peace agreement. Such military aggression!

      “I noted that Israel invaded Lebanon, BEFORE Hezbollah even existed merely to correct your claim that Hezbollah has attacked Israel “without provocation.””

      Israel invaded Lebanon in pursuit of the PLO, which was clearly a terrorist organization. They had already committed the Munich massacre and the Entebbe kidnapping and numerous plane hijackings. Hizbollah is not the first terrorist group feckless Lebanon has hosted.

      rom wikipedia: “When Egypt sent UN officials away from the Egyptian-Israeli border and increased its military activity near the border, and blocked access of the Strait of Tiran to Israeli ships, Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt’s airforce fearing an imminent attack by Egypt.”

      This proves the opposite of what you want it to. Egypt and the other Arab nations engaged in provocations, statements of intent to destroy Israel as well as troop movements, which justified pre-emptive action. Certainly sending away UN troops who were put there to enforce a peace and then blocking access to a port constitutes a prelude to starting a war?

      “To construe Israel’s invasion of Lebanon as a “defense of the Lebanese people” is by good measure the most Orwellian claim I’ve run across yet in any discussion, online or elsewhere. This “defense” Jonathan asserts has somehow turned Hezbollah’s leader into a national hero and boosted his organizations popularity in and out of Lebanon.”

      Earth to bunkerbuster: Except for some poor villages in the south, Lebanon has never considered Hizballah anything but thuggish partial occupiers. Lebanese know that Hizballah is owned by Syria and Iran and Syria is their occupier, and several hundred thousand of them demonstrated their hatred of Syrian occupation last year.

      And Nasrallah isn’t considered a hero by anybody but those villagers, and even they are pissed at him for drawing down Israeli fire on them. Hezbollah owned a squalid slum in south Beirut which most Beirutans avoided. Which is what Israel bombed, doing the rest of Beirut a favor. And that “destroyed” airport? It’s already reopened and has commercial traffic.

      This is what I mean by mirror-land. Or maybe Spock-with-a-beard-world.

    80. Jonathan Says:

      Bravo, Yehudit!

    81. bunkerbuster Says:

      Yehudit: thanks for responding. your references to troll feeding etcetera tell us a lot about your attitude toward dissent and even more about the limits of your wit.

      But my most heartfelt gratitude goes to your demonstration of a key point in this debate.

      While Israel seeks to portray itself as willing to negotiate the return of occupied terrorities, it has no intention of actually doing so. Instead, its current rulers, whose views Yehudit gives here, consider the West Bank part of Israel.

      Some of these Israelis and their supporters claim the fact that Jews lived in parts of the West Bank historically entitles them to annex it as part of a Jewish state. Others simply claim that the territory was won in military battle, and therefore rightfully belongs to the victor.

      If Israel itself would present these claims forthrightly, the world would reject them or not and Israel could perhaps move on and try other approaches.

      The problem is that Israel and many of its supporters are not honest about the gap between what Israel says about the occupied territories (we offered to give them back, and/or we are giving them back) and what it does (build walls through occupied land and expand U.S.-financed suburbs for Russian immigrants on top of bulldozed Palestinian homes.)

      I’d like to give Yehudit credit for at least being honest about Israel’s true intentions in conquering the West Bank. But he seems to want to have it both ways too.

      After arguing that the removal of Palestinians from their ancestral lands is justified as a means of forming a “Greater” Israel that once existed, he touts claims that Israel has demonstrated a willingness to return conquered Arab lands.

      Likewise, Israeli propagandists and their many dupes in the U.S. media endlessly repeat that Palestinians reject Israel’s existence, which is partly true. Yet, as Yehudit shows, Israel rejects Palestine’s existence. The very big difference is that Israel’s rejection of Palestinian existence (Yehudit even goes as far as to reject the existence of Palestinians. He calls them a “made up” ethnic group, a revealing claim because it suggests that he thinks ethnicity is a uniquely essential component of national identity.)

      The entire international community, including even Britain and the United States, rejects Israel’s claim to the West Bank.

      That is why Israel pursues a public relations campaign–warmly welcomed by the mainstream U.S. media, though rarely elsewhere–of asserting an intention to negotiate land for peace. But at the same time, Israel continues building exclusively Jewish suburbs on top of bulldozed Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

      If, as Yehudit asserts, the West Bank rightfully belongs to the Jewish State, why doesn’t it simply annex it? That would certainly simplify things, giving Israel’s allies and enemies with clearer options for a response. But Israel refuses to annex the West Bank because it is home to far too many of the people Yehudit says don’t really exist, Palestinians.

      The concern is that annexation would require Israel to start respecting Palestinian human rights, since they would then be Israeli citizens.

      Palestinians would be likely to then elect Arabs to Israel’s Knesset and may likely at some point in the future, chafe at the idea that they are required to respect Judaism as superior in a country where Jews are a minority.

      Given that dilemma, Israel has chosen a highly militarized version of apartheid as a response. Like apartheid, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank requires a vast screen of propaganda, torture, secret executions and the like.

      This is why the Israel’s insistence that Lebanon comply with UN resolutions is so laughable. It doesn’t even give lip service to its own compliance any more.

      I will respond to more of Yehudit’s misrepresentations later.

    82. Jonathan Says:

      bunkerbuster,

      The problem in having a discussion with you is that 1) you are rude and 2) you are so obviously ignorant about the topic at hand, and so arrogant/overconfident in your own assertions (and that is the nicest interpretation of your behavior that I can think of), that few reasonable people are going to put any effort into responding to you. There is just no return in it. Yehudit is a very tolerant and knowledgeable person, as you would know if you read her blog, and was kind enough to spend some time courteously rebutting your jejune arguments, and you responded with snarky insults and another cascade of simpleminded assertions. I suggest that you save this kind of behavior for your own blog. If you want to comment here in future you must be polite and restrict your comments to a few concise points — no more assertion cascades.

      BTW, given that you have a Tokyo IP address and think Yehudit is a man, you might consider acquiring some actual knowledge about Jews, Israel and the Middle East before you start giving lectures.

    83. bunkerbuster Says:

      [Comment deleted by admin.]

      Our blog, our rules. If you can’t abide by them you shouldn’t comment here.

      -Jonathan