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Ceasefire

August 16th, 2006

Mercifully, the ceasefire in Lebanon appears to be holding, but the outlook for the future of Lebanon, Israel and the region as a whole is massively worse than before the fighting began.

The outcome has been entirely typical of war. Both sides are claiming victory; advocates of war on both sides are pointing to the crimes committed by the other side, in support of their case; nothing will bring the dead back to life.

The actions of Hezbollah have been criminal from the outset, starting with a trivial pretext for its initial attack and then using indiscriminate rocket attacks as its main method of waging war. Hezbollah is morally responsible for all the death and destruction that predictably ensued from its actions.

But, as is now becoming clear, the Israeli government and, even more its backers within the US Administration were eager for a pretext to destroy Hezbollah, and were willing to inflict massive death and destruction on ordinary Lebanese people in the (futile) hope achieving this goal. This policy was both wrong and, as events have shown, counterproductive.

Again, the broader lesson is that war (including insurgency, ‘armed struggle’ and so on) as an instrument of policy is almost always disastrous for those who adopt it. Self-defence is necessary and justified, but should be limited as far as possible to restoring the status quo ante, a point explicitly rejected in the Barkey article cited above.

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  1. rog
    August 16th, 2006 at 12:38 | #1

    JQ, I agree that Hezbollah is responsible for all the death and destruction that ensued from its actions.

    Barkey defines Hizballah’s strength; “it calculates that the outside world will relent in the face of civilian casualties.”

    It would appear that Hezbollah will not be held responsible for any if not all of its actions.

    Is this the stautus quo ante?

  2. Terje
    August 16th, 2006 at 13:27 | #2

    Self-defence is necessary and justified, but should be limited as far as possible to restoring the status quo ante, a point explicitly rejected in the Barkey article cited above.

    From a game theory perspective I am not sure about the logic of this. If somebody steals my motorbike and I limit my response to restitution (ie I take it back) then the other party has lost nothing. Hence they are playing a game with no downside and considerable upside. It’s like heads they win, tails nobody looses. What a great game for the other player.

    I think that in order to be effective self defence must include both a component of restitution and deterent. Especially so if the attacker is part of your local community and future encounters are highly likely.

    Also if you kill two of my family members and look menacingly at the rest of them, then there is no opening for meaningful restitution. Self defence might quite reasonably entail blowing your head off.

  3. Spiros
    August 16th, 2006 at 13:30 | #3

    The results of this war have been, in no particular order: 1000 civilians dead; 1 million Lebanese refugees (out of a population of 4 million); Lebanon’s infrastructure largely destroyed which will set the country back 20 years; the myth of Israeli military invincibility shattered, thereby giving great encouragement to Hezbollah and other enemies of Israel, like Iran; a strengthening of Hezbollahs’ political position in Lebanon; the peace movement in Israel completely marginalised; and the prospects of a peaceful two state solution are more remote than ever.

    Meanwhile, like the Bourbons, the Bush White House has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

  4. Terje
    August 16th, 2006 at 13:33 | #4

    the myth of Israeli military invincibility shattered

    Was there ever such a myth? If there was it never seemed to dampen the ambitions of those that want Israel wiped off the map.

  5. August 16th, 2006 at 13:55 | #5

    Terje,
    It may not have dampened their ambitions, but it did dampen their actions. Apart from guerilla attacks, Israel has not been attacked since 1973.

  6. wilful
    August 16th, 2006 at 16:18 | #6

    Though I think shattered is too strong a word. What was fearsome was that Hezbollah probably learnt more about what to do next time than Israel. And the missiles are only going to get more dangerous.

  7. August 16th, 2006 at 17:15 | #7

    There is no way you can control Islamic Arab populations by a rational mixture of carrots and sticks. They have evolved a kin-ship structure that is antipathetic towards a centralised nation state. It is bound up by familial, tribal and confessional relations.

    This is handy way to conserve their culture from foreign invaders. It does not help them to construct a proper civil society and nation state.

    We must leave them be to practice their own ways. Let Iran control the Gulf – fat chance! Nothing can control anarchy except tyranny. The only thing that could force nationalism down the throat of Arabs is a despot, a super-charged Nasser.

    Someone like Saddam Hussein, for instance.

  8. Razor
    August 16th, 2006 at 18:12 | #8

    The win or lose equation is very much one of perception. What were the military objectives of the opposing sides? And, were they achieved? The dust hasn’t yet settled to truely answer those questions.

    If the UN forces are actually able to stop Hezbollah firing missiles and conducting cross border raids – won’t that be a victory for Israel? However, if the UN is as ineffectual as it has been in the past in that area, then Hezbollah will have achieved a Pyrrhic Victory. Whether this turns out to be the same as the Tet Offensive will be interesting.

    Israel continues to demonstrate that it is a second rate force, with first rate equipment, fighting a third rate enemy. The fact that the Israelies are casualty conscious for both themselves and civilians places operational strictures on them that Hezbollah doesn’t have. For Israel to declare that they intended to destroy Hezbollah and then fail to put in place a cut-off force in depth to ensure the destruction fails basic tactics 101. What is the point of advancing to the Litani River if you allow the enemy to scuttle away in front of you? Hopefully the Israelis have learnt this lesson and will next time insert Airborne forces into blocking positions, then reinforce with rapid armoured thrusts. Once you have the enemy surrounded then you can start the detailed destruction.

  9. Spiros
    August 16th, 2006 at 18:31 | #9

    “Once you have the enemy surrounded then you can start the detailed destruction”

    No need to be coy, Razor. Why not write what you mean, which is

    “Once you have the enemy surrounded then you can kill all of them”?

    Although the Israelis didn’t actually say that they wanted to kill every member of Hezbollah. When they said “destroy Hezbollah”, they might have meant destroy Hezbollah as an organization. This could have been done by destroying all their infrastructure, without necessarily killing them all.

    As it turned out, the Israelis did not destroy Hezbollah as their organization. If anything, they strengthened it. Israel destroyed a lot of Hezbollah things, but these can be replaced with the open Iranian cheque book.

  10. Razor
    August 16th, 2006 at 18:37 | #10

    Spiros – I don’t think I was being coy – if the enemy doesn’t want to surrender, then you kill them.

    Do you have a problem with killing terrorists, such as Hezbollah?

    I don’t.

  11. August 16th, 2006 at 19:15 | #11

    Without presumption on my part, it is useful to point out there is a Lebanese, Palestinian and Arab narrative to this continuing 100 year war in which the latest skimism might be told as the Israelis being grossly, and inhumanely disproportionate in their response and unable to realize the comparitive advantage of their seeming, overwhelming military superiority, despite given free reign by their weapons suppliers, after acting on a dubious pretext.

    They might have engaged in a prisioner exchange, as they had done previously with German mediation. As it is, the Israeli PM annouced post ceasefire, that he would negotiate with Hizbullah for the release of the two Israeli soldiers.

    Israel’s punishment of populations may go almost unnoticed on the West Bank and Gaza, but world opinion has surely taken notice of their cruel and wanton assault on democratic Lebanon. Heretofore, the arrogance of the unilateral players has meant they have dismissed any “decent respect to the opinions of mankind”.

    Not surprising really: there is something rotten in the State of Israel. It is based on ethnic cleansing and the doctrine of military superiority, now at least subject to doubt.

    The doubt arises as to whether that military hardware can over a discipline and well organized, appropriately armed guerilla resistance movement integrated into the local population. The answer is probably yes, if they were prepared to concentrate their effort, absorb casualties and loss of equipment. Even though planning in the White House it seems it well advanced, for a strike on Iran, Israel has lost the moral stakes to persue a wider war, since it total war aerial bombing campaign can be seen as purposively directed at the civilians and civilian infrasturture of Lebanon.

    Now, I believe, the underlying question is: Can Fortress Israel open it borders and its heart to those it has displaced, and allow the Jewish homeland to continue and prosper, even as a minority community within a larger multi-cultural society that allows for the return of the displaced Palestinians on equal terms with the settlement of the Jewish diaspora ?

    In these matters, of course, I may be proved to be wrong, but I cannot see the Gaza prision, the West Bank with its wall, or the steady systematic dispossession of Arab population from East Jerusalem as forming the basis for a viable alternative State.

  12. August 16th, 2006 at 20:20 | #12

    Pr Q says:

    the broader lesson is that war (including insurgency, ‘armed struggle’ and so on) as an instrument of policy is almost always disastrous for those who adopt it. Self-defence is necessary and justified, but should be limited as far as possible to restoring the status quo ante, a point explicitly rejected in the Barkey article cited above.

    This is the enlightened and humanitarian viewpoint, which stresses the value of each indvidual life. Unfortunately this is not the ethic that prevails in S Lebano amongst Hezbollah leaders, fighters or mamas.

    They are mostly poor Shiites with nothing much to lose. Also they have a pretty sizeable martyrdom complex, the Shiite religion is like ANZAC day turned into a way of life. It celebrates a massive defeat and decimation. War Nerd elaborates:

    the Hezbollah attitude to death, which is basically extreme eagerness. Death? Hell yes, can I have seconds? The sooner the better! I’ve talked about the Shia and their whole Gimme Martyrdom deal before.

    Like I said in that column, killing Shi’ites a few at a time is pointless: They have a huge death wish, so naturally their holiest places are tombs.

    That’s why Shi’ites make that pilgrimage to Karbala, to visit the tomb of Husain. Shi’ites commemorate Husain getting himself sliced and diced for ten days every year, slashing themselves with knives and bashing themselves with chains to celebrate that glorious defeat.

    Ayatollah Khomeini, the biggest Shi’ite hero of the 20th century, used to preach “Every day is the anniversary of the battle, and every place is Karbala.” The inspirational message was: wherever you are, go get yourself massacred. What are you doing sitting around breathing? Why ain’t you out there getting slaughtered, you lazy godless bum?

    And they have alot to gain. They have stood up to the IDF and forced the IDF out of Lebanon twice. No Arab government has come close to this kind of victory, for a relatively low-cost in blood and treasure.

    They have probably also won over the uncommitted Lebanese to their side. The latter probably hate the Israelis much more than the Hezboallah. War Nerd outlines the smart strategy behind Hezbollah craziness:

    Nasrullah may look like a fat social studies teacher who needs a shave, but you don’t claw your way to the top of a bloody world like that one without brains. The men who run Hezbollah attacked because they finally figured out that they literally cannot lose.

    The IDF can never expel Hezbollah from South Lebanon, because it’s a genuine mass movement, as committed and crazy at the roots as at the top. (As opposed to Arafat’s PLO, which they could and did expel from Lebanon because it was topheavy, corrupt and cowardly.)

    If Israel comes down hard on the Lebanese, another generation learns to hate the Jews down south and dream of bloody revenge. If Israel holds off, then Hezbollah becomes the one victorious Arab/Muslim force in the world, darling of every little nine-year-old Jihadi in Jakarta and Khartoum.

    If Israel retaliates by blasting every target of value in Lebanon, every TV tower and shopping mall and freeway…well, that’s the beauty of the plan: the Shia are the poorest of the poor. They don’t own any of that shit anyway. They sit back and laugh watching their neighbors’ stuff that they’ve envied all their lives get blown away — and it’s the Israelis who get the blame.

    So call’em crazy if it makes you feel better, but don’t call’em stupid. Better yet, get used to calling’em “Sir.”

    We (meaning the US, ISR and associated powers) cannot control people like this. We either have to pursue democidal policies to terrorise them into submission (ala Saddam Hussein) or clear off. Half-measures won’t work.

    I vote for clearing out of the region. Build walls, erect anti-missile defences and concentrate on targetted killings if they still cause trouble.

  13. brian
    August 16th, 2006 at 23:32 | #13

    Robert Fisk has said that Hizbollah is the product of the several massive incursions which Israel has made into Lebanon in the past 30 years.The first such attack actually occured in 1968.
    Hizbollah is actually the major organisation of the Lebanese Shiite commuinities. It is not an organisation like Al Queida. Its operations have been confined to Lebanon. It is also a social,cultural,and welfare organisation,which has spent billions on the neglected Shiite communities.
    It claims that it will now undertake the restoration of the infractructure so wantanly destroyed by Israel.
    The truth is ,that iIsrael ,like apartheid South Africa,is saturated with racial hatred of all thing Arab.
    Talk to any Israeli and they feel towards Arabs like the Africaners once felt about Blacks
    Voltaire once said that “History makes its own jokes”.
    One of the blackest of these surely, is that the dominant group in the Jewish state, are as racist as any society on earth.
    Hertzl,one of the founders of Zionism,said that the Jewish state”would be a light to the nations”.
    Just think how funny that sounds now ,after we have witnesssed the full fury of the Israeli air attack on civilians in Lebanon!.
    Interestingly the Air force commanded Dan Halutz is likely to be forced from office by the revelation by an Israeli newspaper today,that he hastened to consult his share-broker,just before tha onslought on Lebanon began …wise,because the Israeli stock-market fell dramatically as soon as the war began!.. a light to to the nations indeed

  14. rog
    August 16th, 2006 at 23:43 | #14

    Hizbollah is actually the major organisation of the Lebanese Shiite commuinities. It is not an organisation like Al Queida. Its operations have been confined to Lebanon.

    That is absolute and total bullsh*t, Hezbollah has not confined its operations to Lebanon, that is the reason for the latest military action.

  15. Rabee
    August 17th, 2006 at 10:06 | #15

    What a disaster!

    This war highlights the importance of ending the careers of anyone
    involved in the Bush-Cheney administration. The war chalks up yet
    another defeat and yet another victory for Iran. Has the Bush-Cheney administration been successful in anything they have done?

    Well my view is that a reluctant Israel was dragged into this war by the US who’s main aim now is regime change in Iran. My view on this goes beyond what Seymour Hersh talks about in his New Yorker article and his interview with CNN.

    The way I see it, the Bush administration has been trying to convince
    Israel to take on Hizbollah for some time. Until recently Israel
    has refused to do so and has insisted on sticking to the “Grapes of
    Wrath” understandings: an agreement between Israel and Hizbollah in which “the two parties commit to ensuring that under no circumstances will civilians be the target of attack and that civilian populated areas and industrial and electrical installations will not be used as launching grounds for attacks.”

    After the “death” of Sharon and the elections, however,
    Israel found itself lead by peculiar group of politicians: Olmert
    as priminister whose main talent is raising campaign funds in NY,
    Livni the foreign minister who isn’t comfortable speaking English,
    and the union leader Peretz who became defense minister (and who I
    happen to have met and like) and who can’t speak a word of English
    and has no military experience. I don’t think that Peretz has ever
    visited the US (perhaps once). In short, a group of individuals who had no military
    experience with defense and foreign ministers who were unable to
    deal with the US administration in any substantive way.

    When the time came, Bush and Cheney presented Olmert with their
    usual demands: justify Israel’s existence by getting rid of Hizbollah.
    They presented him with a SHOCK AND AWE strategy for doing so.

    Unlike Sharon, Olmert referred the request to his military
    chief of staff Halutz, perhaps the least talented general
    Israel has ever had, who assured Olmert-Livni-Pretez that
    this SHOCK AND AWE strategy using the air force will quickly
    lead to a collapse of Hizbollah.

    Livni didn’t believe it would work
    (but who cares she can’t speak English) she mumbled something about
    failure in Iraq. Peretz thought that if the generals want it, then maybe
    it will work (he is not confident as minister of defense).
    I don’t know what Olmert was thinking. Halutz obviousely thought that
    it may fail, since he left the meeting went to his bank and sold his
    stocks in Israeli companies and other Israeli assets.

    It became quickly apparent that SHOCK AND AWE would not work and
    that Olmert would not be willing to pay the price of a major ground
    invasion. So began a sequence of half hearted infantry incursions
    that would not affect Hizbollah in any substantive way and
    Olmert-Livni-Peretz began asking for a ceasefire that would return
    the situation to the original status quo: the Grapes of Wrath Understandings.

  16. Spiros
    August 17th, 2006 at 10:52 | #16

    Good analysis, Rabee.

    What was Shimon Peres’ role in all of this? Unlike the others, he’s seen it all before, and you wouldn’t think he would be snowed by Halutz.

  17. rog
    August 17th, 2006 at 11:13 | #17

    Before moving forward they still have to fix up past mistakes; first Hezbollah must be labelled a terrorist organisation by the world which would then put them under an arms and funds embargo – if the UN had done this in the 1st place a lot of what followed could have been avoided.

    Apparently France presented the most opposition to such a move.

  18. James Farrell
    August 17th, 2006 at 14:07 | #18

    Terje

    Your game theory comment states very elegantly the long-standing Israeli rationale for disproportionate response. Teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget, is the folk version.

    But the next comment shows exactly what’s wrong with that: ‘ it never seemed to dampen the ambitions of those that want Israel wiped off the map.’ Exactly. The strategy hasn’t worked. If you want to use game theory you need a more complicated game with some feedbacks.

  19. Terje (say TAY-A)
    August 17th, 2006 at 15:27 | #19

    James,

    I agree that my game theory comment was a simplification. However it seems to me to be less of a simplification than JQs generalised comment on war and self defence (merely restoring the status quo ante). As such I offer it as a possible refinement to his logic. I would be keen to hear his view on whether the refinement makes sence or not and any reasoning.

    The thing with retribution is that it not only causes people to fear the consequences of hurting you at some future date (ie respect you), it may also cause them to hate you. And it is hard to be at peace with people that hate you. If you can get people to fear the consequences of attacking you without making them hate you then I suppose you have the makings of a superior form of self defence. Perhaps one way Israel could do this is to be very charitable to its neighbours in times of peace. However this would require the Israelis to deal with any hate in their own hearts. I am not sure how prominant the notion of forgiveness is in the Jewish or Islamic faiths, however I think that forgiveness is a necessary ingredient in any process that moves from conflict to peace. The rituals necessary before forgiveness vary between people but typically involve things like the giving of gifts, the breaking of bread or consilatory statements by the offender.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  20. brian
    August 17th, 2006 at 18:06 | #20

    One problem for the Israelis is that they don’t really see themselves as part of the Middle East.
    Their principal patron/ally is 7,000 miles away across the Atlantic.
    Why they even take part in…yes..The Eurovision Song Quest !!
    They are now walled-off from the Palestinians,and will have no contact with their neighbours except,as is their wont,when they bomb/blockade/imprison them.!
    So ,rather like the ” Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem” they exist as a tiny island in the sea of the Islamic world.
    The Latin Kingdom of course,collapsed when Saladin’s Arab armies captured Jerusalem,and ended the long event which we call the Crusades…and George Bush,imfamously spoke of a “crusade” against terrorism. One must absolve him from blame as he is a know-nothing and would know as little about the Crusades,as about the Idea of March.!

  21. Cameron
    August 17th, 2006 at 18:43 | #21

    An earlier supporter of the State of Israel I am finding now myself struggling. Maybe it is too much exposure to the likes of Pilger and Chomsky although I like to think of my reading as rounded. I prefer however, to see my change of heart as hopefully a typical Australian regard for the underdog, and Palestinians certainly fit that bill.

    John you said,
    “The actions of Hezbollah have been criminal from the outset, starting with a trivial pretext for its initial attack and then using indiscriminate rocket attacks as its main method of waging war. Hezbollah is morally responsible for all the death and destruction that predictably ensued from its actions.”

    I just can’t read it that way. To me the fuse was the killing of 8 members of the one family on a Gaza beach in early June after a 16 month ceasefire. The Palestinians replied with the killing of 2 Israeli soldiers and the capturing of a third. Although Israel and much of the world media saw this as a terrorist act I’m not sure how. These blokes attacked a tank and a armoured personnel carrier losing two of their own. Would we have preferred a suicide bombing so as to reinforce the stereotyping?

    Israel then in turn replied with assaults into Gaza killing over 50 civilians before Hezbollah, in what seemed to me to be a supportive move, acted by capturing two other Israeli soldiers. I understand that Southern Lebanon is populated by Palestinian refugees. Is it wrong to think they might want to try to help their mates in Gaza in the only way they felt able, even though they knew they were probably going to cop a caning from a far better equipped army?

    I just don’t know but I get the sense as Australians we are missing something here. There was a time when we were able to recognise a bully for what they were, and recognise courage, displayed either by own for instance the ANZACs, or by the enemy, the Turk. Are we beyond that now? I would like to think not.

  22. August 17th, 2006 at 20:32 | #22

    The Crusades did not end with Saladin’s capture of Jerusalem (in fact, that triggered the next two Crusades). Furthermore, the Latin Kingdoms remained significant for another two centuries, and kept a toehold on the mainland for nearly a century after the fall of Jerusalem.

    It is in fact quite straightforward to “manage Arabs”; the trick is to have limited management objectives, as in the Trucial States. And given this level of understanding, Sir Reginald Coupland’s implementation of dyarchy was working very well – including in Iraq – until destabilised by US influence in the ’50s. That was a consequence of US intervention over Suez that was actually foreseen by the British, but not believed by the US government.

  23. Hal9000
    August 17th, 2006 at 21:54 | #23

    Peter Cundall, of ‘that’s yer bloomin’ lot’ gardening fame, was in the British army in Palestine in 1947, having helped liberate Jewish concentration camp survivors in Germany. He recalled…

    “So when I was then posted, of all places, to Palestine, I was bleeding from every pore, if you like, for what had happened to the Jewish people in particular, but also for the sheer horror of racism. I’ve always been against any form of discrimination, but what racism had done, and what discrimination had done, and the very basis of the Nazi philosophy.

    And yet when I got to Gaza, I then found something different that shook me again, because I started to meet some of the settlers. That was the Jewish settlers. They were so proud of their orange groves and I talked to them quite freely. I also found that the Arab people were extraordinarily courteous and kind to me and just wonderful people. But I’ll never forget…another shock occurred—and I arrived just after the King David [hotel] was blown up and they’d just killed two of our sergeants, they captured them and executed them, in an orange grove. And it was a war, but I remember talking to this settler and he said, ‘Look at my orange grove,’ he said, and then he pointed to some Arabs nearby and said that scum like that, they just couldn’t do that kind of thing. And I said, ‘Well hang on, but how can you be saying, and calling them scum, when I’ve just come from Europe, where the Nazis referred to the Jewish people as scum and vermin.’ ‘Yes that’s true, they did,’ he said, ‘but these people, the Arabs, really are vermin.’

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bigidea/stories/s1149441.htm

    Saladin aside, it is hard to imagine Israel peacefully existing in an Arab world while that attitude prevails.

    Meanwhile, in the moral calculus of such things, it should be noted that the Hezbollah terrorists, whose goal allegedly was to kill civilians, killed mainly Israeli soldiers, while Israel, whose targets were allegedly Hezbollah terrorists, killed by and large civilians. And we ought not forget the UN observers and ambulances apparently deliberately targeted. Israel needs quite a bit of remedial work on its self-proclaimed ‘most moral army in the world’ moniker.

  24. sdfc
    August 17th, 2006 at 22:53 | #24

    Israel syndrome. When the oppressed become the opressors.

  25. James Farrell
    August 17th, 2006 at 23:46 | #25

    Terje

    Hatred is one thing. The other outcome of periodically flattening a people’s homes and infrastructure is poverty. And as Jack mentioned, poor people have less to lose, so the expected cost of the next provocation is reduced.

  26. milano803
    August 18th, 2006 at 10:37 | #26

    When you have people willing to die, and willing to watch their neighbors and their children die, to attack someone else, there’s only one rational response. You remove the threat of those people. It protects not only you yourself, it also protects the neighbors and children that suicidal types don’t mind watching die. To stop the cycle, you have to remove the cog that’s defective. And it’s defective to be willing to die just to kill someone else.

  27. Terje (say TAY-A)
    August 18th, 2006 at 19:53 | #27

    And it’s defective to be willing to die just to kill someone else.

    That would mean that all professional soldiers are defective cogs.

  28. August 18th, 2006 at 20:27 | #28

    That “defective cog” argument leaves out one thing – despair. The kind of peace that Israel talks about in all sincerity is in fact merely a slow suicide, the peace of the bulldozer. The Arabs are not actually being offered any way out at all. They may well be rats, culturally speaking, to adopt violence as an option, but it is worse than a crime, a mistake (as Disraeli put it) to corner the rats to begin with. The Arabs are going to die anyway, under the Israeli approach, only slowly and out of sight out of mind – and they know it and have known it since at least the Arab Revolt in the ’30s.

  29. Rabee
    August 19th, 2006 at 01:36 | #29

    I don’t know Spiro. Peres has been marginalized (he’s getting on)
    and a lot of people think that he should retire. Politically Shimon
    Peres can be very destructive, even if it means hurting Israel.

    His main project has been the humiliation of Amir Peretz the defense
    minister and leader of the Labour party. He hates him on
    a personal and political level. Amir Peretz is a Morrocan union
    leader (one reason why I like him); Peres is part of the Ashkenazi elite
    the Israeli intelligentsia.

    I think Peres’ view is that if the US wants regime change in Iran,
    then they should do it themselves and leave Israel out of it. His
    main connection in the US administration is Donald Rumsfeld who was
    not enthusiastic about the plan to shake Hizbollah out of Lebanon
    through a devastating attack by the Israeli air force.

    However, I think that Peres is positively delighted with the outcome
    of the war with Hizbollah. Amir Peretz has been humiliated and he
    is likely to lose his job. Once that happens, Peres will be agitating
    for an attack on Iran by the US and without any Israeli involvement.
    I think that his view is that a US nuclear strike on Iran should
    not be out of the question (well that’s what a horrified person in
    Peretz’s office recently told me).

  30. milano803
    August 19th, 2006 at 04:14 | #30

    “That would mean that all professional soldiers are defective cogs. ”

    So the goal of all professional soldiers is to kill people?

    “That “defective cogâ€? argument leaves out one thing – despair.”

    People all over the world live in total abject despair yet very few of them ever commit acts of terror. The Arabs have a choice, stop attacking Israel, or die attacking Israel.

  31. Hal9000
    August 19th, 2006 at 09:58 | #31

    “The Arabs have a choice, stop attacking Israel, or die attacking Israel.”

    Perhaps you could illuminate us all about where Israel’s borders are. Some non-expanding definition would certainly help the benighted Arabs be a little more accommodating, surely.

    And while you’re pondering that, could you suggest a few gains made by the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians prior to the first Intifada? You know, before they took up attacking Israel in response to accelerating theft of their resources and land. It seems to me, as PML has also argued, that the choice on offer is slow, despairing death or death with what they might imagine is some sort of dignity.

    The Arabs might also be a little less narky if those of their brethren actually holding Israeli citizenship weren’t treated along the lines of holders of ‘non-white’ passports in apartheid South Africa. Forbidden to acquire land or live in most of the country, unable to build or renovate to accommodate their expanding population, given second-class infrastructure, forbidden to visit relatives or marry outside a narrowly defined group – all the panoply of what in South Africa used to be called a racist regime. And as I recall it Mandela was labelled a terrorist too. The lesson is that until you start treating your adversaries as human beings with equal rights to yourself, you really don’t know what generosity they might be capable of.

    Perhaps though we should apply the Israeli doctrine of massive force to other conflicts to see how well they might work there… India has far greater excuse to respond in like manner fo Pakistan than Israel did with Lebanon. I wonder just how many people would urge such a course. The UK could easily have likewise bombed the Republic of Ireland back into the middle ages. What a triumph that would have been.

    If Israel wants to be able to claim our sympathy and excite our sense of justice when it is attacked it might do well to cease behaving so badly itself. If we are to feel angry about the taking of some Israeli soldiers as hostages, I’m sure we’d be more inclined to unanimity about being outraged it if Israel did not routinely kidnap civilians, hold half the Palestinian legislature hostage, assassinate suspects or inflict collective punishments.

  32. August 19th, 2006 at 18:49 | #32

    Milano803, the proper expansion should have been “The Arabs have a choice, stop attacking Israel and die slowly, or die attacking Israel.” I wasn’t talking about generic diffuse despair, but despair about that dilemma – a dilemma that puts a focus before them.

  33. Terje (say TAY-A)
    August 19th, 2006 at 23:10 | #33

    So the goal of all professional soldiers is to kill people?

    No. But in order to kill people they are willing to die.

    Whether you are a professional soldier or a suicide bomber the killing of people is a means not an ends.

  34. Simonjm
    August 22nd, 2006 at 15:03 | #34

    If ever there was a situation that clearly exemplifies ethical bias this would have to be it.

    JQ I’d have to disagree strongly on you with this one. Maybe two wrongs don’t make a right but instead of a negotiated transfer of prisoners one side goes nuts with indiscriminate bombings of civilians and civilian infrastructure it goes beyond criminal to war crimes.

    To say you are a bit one sided on this is a severe understatement.

  35. Simonjm
    August 22nd, 2006 at 15:09 | #35

    PS. The ethical bias is directed towards ME as a whole not specifically to JQ’s stance on the responsibility for the deaths in Lebanon though i do think it is unbalanced.

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