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  • Disproportionate Dishonesty

    Posted by Shannon Love on July 16th, 2006 (All posts by )

    The key word for those criticizing Israel’s war against Hezbollah and Hamas is “disproportionate.” No one, not even Israel’s strongest critics, can claim that Israel or any other country does not have the right to respond in kind for cross-border military attacks, so instead they claim to criticize only because they believe Israel’s response “disproportionate” to the offense.

    However, in this context, using the term “disproportionate” merely serves to create the appearance of saying something reasoned and honest while in actuality saying nothing practical beyond connoting disapproval.

    What exactly could an honest person consider a “proportionate” response to repeated attacks and hostage takings carried out by military forces backed by hostile countries? Not one of the major critics, including Bill Clinton, Putin or Chirac have ventured to say exactly what physical action he would consider “proportionate.” Turning rhetoric in to real-world action means assigning numbers to things. How many soldiers, tanks and planes could Israel deploy and still have the critics consider their response “proportionate”? How many casualties could they inflict? Without this information, making a claim of “disproportionate” response is mere harping.

    In the real world, a “proportionate” response to any attack is the level of response required to insure that the attack never occurs again. By that reasonable and honest standard, Israel has responded in a restrained and “proportionate” manner. The “disproportionate” critics really want Israel to respond in an essentially ritualistic manner. They expect Israel to engage in some little response that will serve to have their national honor satisfied and then to just let the violence continue.

    On the bright side, the use of “proportionate” and “disproportionate” in anti-Israel rhetoric makes it easy to spot the stupid or dishonest critics.

     

    34 Responses to “Disproportionate Dishonesty”

    1. PenGun Says:

      We lost 8 Canadians today. They were on holiday. The Israelie response is ridiculous.

      A military engagement in which Hizbolla killed 4 soldiers and captured 2 others is being called a “kidnapping”.

      Some facts:

      In 1948 Zionist terrorists pushed the Palestinians living primitively and lawfully in their country out of what is now Israel into Gaza, Lebanon and what is called the West Bank.

      This has never been delt with on a realistic level. The price for that has been endless low level violence.

      There are really no good guys here at all, just terrorists reaping each others stupidity.

      We lost 8 Canadians today.

      PenGun

    2. Ginny Says:

      I have never heard an Israeli (in public, private, print, etc.) speak about destroying all of any other country or of pushing them to the sea. I’ve never heard an Israeli find exterminations of another group attractive. Israeli maps are of reality. I’m sorry 8 Canadians died; I’m sorry Palestinians, Lebanese & Israelis are going to be dead before this is through.

      I do not, however, think all sides are equal. One side pulled out of Gaza, having won that land rather effectively in battle (an ancient & perhaps unattractive but rather sensible way in which borders have been decided for milennia). They left behind an infrastructure, including the great example of hot houses ready to be used for profitable & productive business. These were destroyed within a week. Cutting oneself to gain attention and other such ploys do not impress me.

      And my sense of what is positive about Israel does not come from my religion, my ethnic group, my nation, my experience with Jews in America, or even my politics. It comes from noticing that the other side uses rhetoric that if taken even slightly seriously is abhorent; such speeches indicate they do not even understand the basic values that I hold dear. My respect is also derived from the obvious fact Israel holds free elections & has a free press. One of these groups attempts to bomb office buildings at night to make a point with collateral damage; another lobs rockets off haphazardly – hoping for civilian deaths.

      Some of us believe in certain values that trump our tribal ones. Israel is not a perfect embodiment of those, but it is a damn sight closer than those who repeatedly lob rockets at them. I understand and appreciate your comment that 8 Canadians were killed; I, too, have tribal sentiments – we all do. But some of us balance that quite understandable affection with our belief in more transcendent loyalties.

    3. Joe Says:

      “We lost 8 Canadians today”
      My first reaction is that’s kind of funny really. Canadian’s want the world to believe that they’ve achieved nirvana without spending money on defense. Kind of leaves Canada holding the bag in a situation like this doesn’t it? Perhaps the Canadian government should send a “strongly worded letter” to the parties involved? Sending 3 mounties in a rowboat is probably the only other solution but doesn’t sound overly viable to me.

      Yes, I guess I’m kind of cruel but hey, at least I make sense. Canada “awarded” citizenship to people they knew they couldn’t protect. It’s not like these were tourists or anything, they’re Lebanese who happen to have found Canadian citizenship in the bottom of their crackerjack box. Now how exactly did those Canadians get killed? Well, they were in South Beirut, you know, Hezb territory. What exactly were they doing there? Being targets. Mission accomplished. The Hezb’s like to position their infrastructure near civilians. That way people like PenGun can go into anguish about the deaths. Perhaps the Hezb’s are to blame? I mean, they could position their rockets outside of the city right? No, that wouldn’t suit their purposes.

      Color me cranky but I’m not shedding tears for your “Canadians” today. Instead of commenting on this blog why not send a strongly worded letter to Ottawa? Perhaps they can send in the Marines to protect the Canadian citizens. Oh, wait. That money was spent on social programs. Congrats! You’ve learned the pricetag of no defense! Want a cookie?

    4. MEC2 Says:

      Of course the response is disproportionate – if it wasn’t, it would amount to a mere tit for tat. This complaint is regurgitated by those who can’t find political or rhetorical cover to criticize Israel’s actions directly, so they do it indirectly. It’s callow foolishness. Those who espouse such idiocy are also useful tools for Hezbollah, as what it does is level the playing field – Israel is far more powerful, but if political inanity enforces some sort of “equal but no more” response, then they are effectively leveled on the battlefield.

      It’s a concept so vapid it doesn’t merit serious consideration – I can’t think of a time in history a nation has allowed itself to limit it’s defensive reaction to only create some sort of morbid dead pool trade balance, whereby the kidnapping of two Israeli’s and death of 8 can only be responsibly responded to by kidinapping two Lebanese and killing 8 more – that’s twisted…

      Eerily reminscent of that one Star Trek episode where the two planets, at war for thousands of years, walk their populations into vaporization chambers so war is more “civil”. When war becomes something we calculate and mete out according to a formula, beware…

    5. Bruce Chang Says:

      As I noted elsewhere, I am not adverse to overwhelming responses. As MEC2 points out, anything less than “disproportionate” would be mere tit for tat. What in the world is the point of being an advanced nation if you can’t make use of any of your advances?

    6. ronin Says:

      PenGun – sorry your fellow Canadians died. But, a lot fo questions remain.
      First, what the heck did Canada give citizenship to possible Hezbollah members?
      And how dare you call the Israeli “terrorists”. If you think that Palestinian arabs were peaceful goat-herders sitting around with their goats , playing their flutes, and the nast Jews came and kicked them out, I’d say, go and read history, read it again. You will find that reality is quite different from what your leftist, apologists for terrorists, friends tell you. In 1948, under the auspices of the UN, Arabs could have made peace with the nascent State of Israel, they choose to not do it then, and of course, they dont wish to make peace now. They are devoted to the idea of exterminating the Jewish State, and Arabs have proved themselves to be the worst terrorists the world has seen.
      Spare me your tears PenGun.
      yeah, send in some hockey players. they might be able to fight and rescue Canadian citizens better than your military, that has been destroyed by you long line of Socialist and liberal governments in Ottowa. Hopefully Harper will be able to curb the rot that the lefties have brought on to Canada.

    7. LotharBot Says:

      “In 1948 Zionist terrorists pushed the Palestinians living primitively and lawfully in their country out of what is now Israel into Gaza, Lebanon and what is called the West Bank.”

      No.

      In 1948, Palestinians left *of their own accord* based on promises from the nearby Arab nations: “if you leave, we’ll wipe out the Jews and then you can return and take their stuff.” (A number of Arabs and Muslims remained in Israel proper, where they have voting rights etc.) Those who left all settled down in nearby areas for what they expected to be a few months of waiting. When Israel fought off the invasion, the Palestinians were left in limbo — the countries that told them to leave Israel didn’t want them, and Israel sure wasn’t going to take them back. So what we had was a *manufactured* refugee crisis.

      Over the last 58 years, the Palestinians have been told over and over and over again that they have the “right of return” — not just to the pre-1967 borders, but to anything inside Israel — and they’ll get it as soon as the Jews are wiped out. (This is part of the school curriculum for young Palestinian children, BTW… it’s some vile stuff.)

    8. ettubloge Says:

      In order to assess whther the Israelis have made a proportionate response, one needs to look at what Israel is responding to. Are they responding to a single event? Or are they responding to a series of related events of which the recent tunnelling, killings and kidnapping are a part? Are they also responding to the hundreds of rockets fired into Israel over the past few months? Are they also responding to the spoken threat of annihilation by terrorists? Are they responding to reasonable intelligence that Israel’s existence is in peril? If the preceding were taken in toto, then the Israeli response, along with the hope that such retaliation would halt further such behavior is totally proportionate.

    9. Ginny Says:

      Does this sound somewhat like the great black hole into which America’s flights over Iraq to protect the Kurds during the entire decade of the nineties disappeared? Hanson kept coming back to that fact, but it seldom appeared elsewhere. The assumption seemed to be that that was irrelevant, even though it meant that Iraq I was never really over.

      Narrow context may appear a useful strategy, but is just that – it isn’t what’s really going on.

    10. Jonathan Says:

      I suspect that in the future Bush Sr’s decisions to 1) end the first Gulf war without deposing Saddam Hussein and 2) not support the subsequent Shiite uprising will be widely understood to have been great blunders. (Or maybe not. I think that our handling of Suez was also a great blunder, but a lot of people disagree with me.)

    11. PenGun Says:

      Boy am I stupid. Not much grasp of history or current events either. Have fun weasels.

      PenGun

      [edited by admin to discourage trolling]

    12. veryretired Says:

      And that is the complex, intellectually serious response you get every time you bother arguing with a weenie like the above phony canadien.

      The word is TROLL. Don’t waste your time.

    13. LotharBot Says:

      “Not much grasp of history or current events either” said the guy who has been on the recieving end of a history lesson all thread.

      Perhaps you could, you know, respond to the facts presented. Like, for example, respond to the point I made about the Palestinians *voluntarily* leaving Israel proper because they’d been promised the rights to plunder it after the Jews were exterminated.

      Or, you can cop-out and resort to name-calling and trolling because you can’t handle the actual discussion. That would be OK too. The more you troll, the clearer it becomes that your side has no facts to stand on whatsoever.

    14. Joe Says:

      “Boy you are a stupid lot. Not much grasp of history or current events either. Have fun weasels.”

      Another display of powerless futility. Penny expected everyone to simply accept the prepackaged meme without question and to parrot it far and wide. Unable to think? Check. Powerless? Check. Robot collectivest? Typical leftest.

      @Ginny. No, GW1 and the years following it have nothing to do with it. Quit looking at actual events and please stick to the talking points memo please.

    15. chel Says:

      Hello Chicagoboyz,

      I have a question. I have this memory that a while back, like maybe in the early 1980s it was not the standard Conservative position to support Israel’s positions and military actions. Was this true or am I totally off? I was still a tadpole in the early 1980s so my memory could be totally wrong. If there has been a shift to supporting Israel by conservatives, what has changed?

      Feel free to say, “Chel what the hell are you talking about?! The standard position of the Right has always been pro-Israel.”

    16. Shannon Love Says:

      chel,

      I think you might be remembering the Pat Buchanan isolation wing.Buchanan has always been hostile to Israel and became even more so after the Cold War ended.

      The history of the US relation to Israel is actually very interesting. The US initially opposed the formation of Israel largely because (1) All the US ties with the region were to Arabs. (All the experts were arabist, all the business with arabs etc.) and (2) Israel was founded by a bunch of European socialist (something forgotten today. In fact, the first nation to recognize Israel was the Soviet Union under Stalin).

      US policy favored the Arabs all throughout 50’s most prominently during the Suez Canal Crises. The US refused to sell arms to Israel. (That is why the Israeli air force was largely comprised of French aircraft.) US policy did not turn positive to Israel until Nasser made Egypt a Soviet client state in the early 60’s. Syria, Iraq and to a lesser extent Jordan soon followed.

      No the US viewed the regional conflicts through the prism of the Cold War and the Arabs had sided with our enemies. It became rapidly clear that Israel was our only firm ally in the region.

      I think the choice of Arabs to resort to explicit terrorism in the early 60’s also drove American support for Israel, especially from the Right. Not only was it morally offensive but the terrorist were all openly Leftist and (as it turned out) directly supported by the Soviet Union. The traditional sympathy that the US had always showed Arabic interest evaporated within a decade.

      By the way, most Chicagoboyz don’t consider ourselves “conservatives.” We’re just not Leftist.

    17. Matt Says:

      I have to agree with Shannon on this one. Very well put – definitely coincides with my position on this ancient bloody messs

      -Matt

    18. chel Says:

      Ah interesting.

    19. TM Lutas Says:

      I mourn for the loss of 8 canadians. More info here. They died on day 5 on the front lines of a war zone in a country whose citizenship they had left behind. I pray that the 6 remaining canadians hit in the same strike recover speedily.

    20. MIke Says:

      How can you be supportive of the Isreali government that is killing citizens of a sovereign state that had nothing to do with Hezb. actions? 300 civilians in Lebanon killed by Isreali military and 14 Isreali citizens killed by Hezb.

    21. Jonathan Says:

      Because Lebanon’s sovereignty isn’t worth spit. The govt there is too weak to control the Hezbollah murder gangs. What would you have Israel do? The Israelis tried to accommodate Hezbollah and Lebanese sovereignty for years. They tried prisoner exchanges and abandoned a long-term occupation of South Lebanon. The result was hundreds of Israelis killed and life made hellish for tens (now hundreds) of thousands of Israeli civilians who have to piss away their time in bomb shelters to avoid being murdered. Israel has made it more than clear, by word and deed, that it would like nothing more than a stable Lebanon with whom true neighborly relations are possible. Lebanon has been unable to oblige, so Israel is now solving the problem itself. Given that Hezbollah intentionally locates bases and weapons stores in densely populated urban areas it’s remarkable that only a few hundred Lebanese civilians (assuming they all were civilians) have been killed. If the Israelis were really as callous as their opponents claim, they would have killed tens of thousands by now.

    22. Mike Says:

      Jonathan,
      Your history lesson is untrue. It is talking points, opinion, not factual information. It also sounds racist, minimizing the death of “only a few hundred Lebanese civilians”.

    23. Lex Says:

      Mike, your objections to Jonathans accurate statement of the historical facts are untrue, talking points, opinions. Also, it sounds more than a little racist the way you minimize the ongoing murder of Jews by Hezbollah by pretending it never happened, and by mischaracterizing what Jonathan said about the death of Lebanese civilians.

      BTW, if anyone wants to see what a modern army that really does not care about human life does in a situation like this, look at what the Russian Army did in the second battle of Grozny. They just blew the place to bits with zero regard for civilian deaths. In fact, I think they wanted to have a lot of civilian deaths to impress the Chechens with what ruthless fellows they were.

      The Israelis, for a number of reasons, do not behave that way.

    24. Lex Says:

      Shannon wrote: “most Chicagoboyz don’t consider ourselves ‘conservatives.'”

      That may be so.

      I however absolutely consider myself a conservative, I have never been anything else and never will be. Not “neo”, either. Just conservative.

      I think we have a pretty wide range of ideological positions on this blog, though we seem to have an overlap on defense issues and economic issues.

    25. Shannon Love Says:

      Mike,

      It is because of the actions of people like yourself that so many Lebanese have died.

      You have taught Hezballah that any civilian deaths in the territory that it controls will be blamed on Israel. Every dead Lebanese (or indeed non-combantents anywhere) creates more political pressure on Israel. As a result, Hezballah does everything possible to maximize civilian casualties including preventing civilians from evacuating war zones.

      I think you are the racist because you do not accord to the Arabic people’s the same degree of moral responsibility that you accord to the Israeli. You appear to hold them to a lower standard, presumably because you don’t think them capable of it.

      It doesn’t get more racist than that.

    26. Ginny Says:

      The soft bigotry of low moral expectations.

    27. GFK Says:

      Shannon, Interesting info on the chg in US policy. I knew that the cold war played out in the middle east. I didn’t know Nassar or the Suez Canal crises were a turning point in US policy. I went to my copy of Martin Gilbert’s “Atlas of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” to see what info it had on the subject. It does mention that the British influence in the arab states was weakened greatly after the Suez Crisis (pg. 60.) To your point it states:

      “During the 1950’s Britain and France were to a large extent eased out of the Arab world and were partially replaced by the US. But by the 1970’s it was the Soviet Union which had gained the greatest influence.” pg. 60

      It also gives info on the increase in soviet influence w/ arab states. From 1955 to 1970 all the key arab states but Saudi Arabia and Oman had arms agreements with the USSR. (I wonder, did Iran? Before the Shah fell I don’t think they did.)

      With regards to arms it gives the following #’s:

      From 1968 to Sept 1973:

      Value of Soviet Arms to Arab States: 2.6Billion
      Value of US Arms to Arab States: .8Billion
      Value of US Arms to Israel: 1.35 Billion

      So Arab Countries during that period received $3.2 Billion worth of arms from both cold war powers. Over twice the total Israel received.

      For 1974 the USSR supplied $4Billion in Arms to Syria and Egypt, the US supplied $1.5Billion to Israel during the same period.

    28. Ginny Says:

      Knowing nothing about arms: Considering the outcomes, does GFK’s data show the difference between value added of education/culture/necessity or a difference in the quality per dollar? And if much of the answer is the latter, shouldn’t we have noticed it?

    29. GFK Says:

      Ginny, the atlas also points out that the arms the soviets were supplying to the arabs were even more advanced than what they were giving to their east european satellites. So they weren’t giving them WWII leftovers.

      On the topic of #’s, for the 1967 war, Israel had 264,000 troops, 800 tanks and 300 combat aircraft to the arabs 547,000 troops, 2504 tanks and 800 aircraft. 240K troops supplied by Egypt, 70k from Iraq, 60K from Algeria and 50K each from Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and small forces from other arab countries.

      So Israel faced a much larger force, not only in terms of weaponry, but also in terms of soldiers, but still won decisively.

      Back to Shannon’s original post:

      In light of these numbers hasn’t arab action always been a bit disproportionate?

      Why did Algeria, SA, Kuwait and Iraq, none of whom border Israel, feel the need to send Armies against her? Isn’t that a bit disproportionate?

    30. Lex Says:

      Ginny’s question is a good one. Mere tonnage of weapons, even good ones, won’t lead to victory if the other prerequisites are not there. A good study of the cultural foundations of Arab military failure is this now classic piece.

    31. GFK Says:

      Wow, Lex. That was a great peice.

      I think in arabia the cultural affects aren’t just limited to the military.

    32. Shannon Love Says:

      GFK,

      Not only did the Cold War powerfully influence the Israeli-Arab conflict but the Israeli-Arab strongly influenced the course of the Cold War.

      The near victory by the Arabs during the 1973 war and especially the performance of Soviet air defense technology greatly enhanced the military prestige and swagger of the Soviets. Even though they lost the Soviets demonstrated that their tech could match or beat that of a free western county.

      The situation reversed violently in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The Syrians stuffed Lebanon full of bleeding edge Soviet air defense tech and the newly computerized Israeli counter measure cut right through it. The Soviet realized that in any confrontation with the West that they would rapidly loose air superiority. That realization essentially closed off any hope the Soviets might have had of reversing their mid-80’s decline by military adventure.

    33. Mike Says:

      Lex, Shannon and Ginny,
      I did not call nor say Jonathan was or is a racist. I wrote that his idea sounded racist: “It also sounds racist” I was questioning the cavalier statement: : only a few hundred Lebanese civilians…. I did not minimize the deaths of the Isrealis; I was attempting to point out the disparity of deaths at that point in the war.

      Ad hominem statements are sophomoric and silly.

      The history of the relationship between Hizb. and the government of Isreal is not as simplistic as the three of you outlined. I do not want to deny you the opportunity to do some research. I don’t want to do your homework for you.

      Are we to believe that the government of Isreal and the government of Lebanon could not negotiate a just solution to the problem? According to news reports, the government of Isreal (military branch) has abducted Lebonese and Palestinians in the past as has the Hizb. abducted members of the Isreali army in the past. If one adhere’s to the Just War theory, then the tenet of Last Resort (if resorting to war is to be justified, all peaceful alternatives must have been exhausted) must be fulfilled and by no means did that happen.

    34. Ginny Says:

      Mike,
      Your position is untenable. That that is because the situation in Lebanon is tragic goes without saying. You ask: “How can you be supportive of the Isreali government that is killing citizens of a sovereign state that had nothing to do with Hezb. actions? 300 civilians in Lebanon killed by Isreali military and 14 Isreali citizens killed by Hezb.” Your very question betrays its incoherence. So, the people killed in Lebanon are “citizens of a sovereign state that had nothing to do with Hezb. actions” but the Israelis were killed “by Hezb.” You shift the categories and therefore set up false premises.

      Lebanon has elected members of Hezbellah; more to the point, Lebanon has not – as they promised to – disarmed the terrorist group. (That the UN hasn’t is yet another sign of the tragic & feckless nature of modern globalized “justice” systems.)

      Then you argue that a treaty between Lebanon & Israel could have been brokered. The schizophrenic or fragmented nature of Lebanon, which you have implied in your earlier post, indicates that such a treaty is not likely to be observed by those (whether few or many) interwoven in the fabric of Lebanon.

      Most argue that the fragile Lebanese government was incapable of cleansing its house; nonetheless, the downside of such inability is the same as if it were unwillingness. The result is hosting a terrorist group that considers setting off rockets from households full of women & children and storing such armaments in mosques an appropriate strategy. Israelis recognize that as tragic. All of us do. But we don’t, then, expect Israel to take suicidal stances.

      Much like the discussion of “proportional response” has a useful application in many circumstances, so, too, does the “just war” theory. I have not, however, been impressed when it has been applied in cases such as this. Your agument may sound good to you, but with whom do you expect Israel to negotiate? Over what objectives should they discuss compromise? These abstractions become meaningless in settings such as this. It isn’t as if there is some kind of compromise. (Israel can come to only half exist; perhaps the average Israeli life span would be halved?)