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Drop Today, Kill Tomorrow
September 27, 2006 6:59 AM   Subscribe

The UN reports “ Up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah remain unexploded in southern Lebanon." "What's shocking" (Read down) and quote "I would say completely immoral is that 90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when we knew there would be a resolution, when we knew there would be an end. Most of them are from America." who may ban future sales. Some people are campaigning. A brief history (Scroll down). Bravo Belgium. An unexpected link between books and bombs. Last discussion.
posted by adamvasco (154 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Well here we go with the fracas! Hardly shcoking that stuff would be dropped in the final hours; after all, didn't Hezb oally shoot off as many roctets as they could in the same period? Resolution? what Resolution? The UN must ask the Lebanese army for permission to question Hezbollah people, who are rearming daily. Whnere is the resolution that calls for disarming and which Hezbollah has said publicaly will never happen?
Are rockets filled with buckshot-type metal ok to have been fired daily into Israel?
posted by Postroad at 7:13 AM on September 27, 2006



Don't post drunk, it really doesn't help your case - thanks.
posted by fingerbang at 7:16 AM on September 27, 2006


...Most of them are from America."

I have to say I find this statement to be extremely irritating. It is totally out of place, nad only dtracts from the impact of the statement that precedes it, about most of them being dropped in the last 72 hours. So what is the point of this statement?

Look, we know the US manufactures munitions and bombs like this - where do you think the US military gets them from? We also make nuclear weapons and flying killer robot drones. Aren't those worse?

Would it be better if Israel had a weapons industry that could make these on its own? Would it be better if they came from China, like everything else? Would it be better if the US sold them to everyone? Would it have been better if all of those bomblets actually exploded?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:17 AM on September 27, 2006


Oh, and If you missed the point of the post - Israel appears to have 'salted' southern Lebanon. Try and keep on point - thanks again.
posted by fingerbang at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2006


Hey, didn't you read the FPP guidelines? No posts about controversial current events!
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 7:18 AM on September 27, 2006


I have to say I find this statement to be extremely irritating. It is totally out of place, nad only dtracts from the impact of the statement that precedes it, about most of them being dropped in the last 72 hours.

It may bug you, but it's relevant.

Would it be better if Israel had a weapons industry that could make these on its own?

Possibly. Then we wouldn't be complicit in this.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 7:22 AM on September 27, 2006


Yes, and the atom bomb was dropped on Japan AFTER we knew there would be an end to the war...
posted by blue_beetle at 7:23 AM on September 27, 2006


Let me clarify something after reading Postroads comment. It is patently silly to limit or regulate what can and can't be used in wartime. It's a war, each side is trying to kill people on the other side. Does it really matter if they are killed by a cluster bomb or a bullet? Dead is dead. And before you talk about the risk to civilians, I'll remind you that both sides were pretty much indiscriminately bombing cities.

Furthermore, the limitations always, and I mean literally always, only apply to the US and its allies. No one is going to question, or even inquire, whether Hezbollah's rockets violate some interantional accord, because gets what, by definition they can't. Hezbollah isn't a country and doesn't act on behalf of a country, and therefore isn't a party to any international agreement UN convention, or even the UN charter.

It's absurd to regulate the weapons that can be used, better to prevent the war from ever starting, or declare all war illegal. This will have as much effect on actual behavior as current weapons restrictions, which is to say it will have precisely no effect.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:25 AM on September 27, 2006


Lest it be forgotten, the was a fight Hezbollah picked, prosecuted against Israeli civilians and the Lebanese people.

Are cluster bombs monstrous weapons? To be sure. But in our righteous indignation, let's not forget that this was, and remained, a defensive war.
posted by felix betachat at 7:26 AM on September 27, 2006


Then we wouldn't be complicit in this.

Yup. We paid for all of it, and those bomblets going to continue to kill and maim Lebanese people. It's as if Israel laid down land mines in a way--which is illegal.
posted by amberglow at 7:27 AM on September 27, 2006


Yep. Israel spitefully, nastily mined southern Lebanon on its way out. I'm sure they wouldn't have the nerve to simultaneously complain about bombers targeting civilians.

Would it be better if Israel had a weapons industry that could make these on its own?

It would be better not to be the supplier of weapons used immorally. If Israel uses them immorally, the argument goes, then stop supplying them with weapons, put pressure on the supplier to cut it out. And who is the supplier? The US.

The pods containing the 650 bomblets, which burst apart at a pre-determined height, have a failure rate of up to 30 per cent, leaving clear evidence of their American origin.
That makes me laugh. It's like the evidence that they're American products is not just the "Made in the United States" label but perhaps the 30 percent failure rate.
(Yeah, yeah, I know that's not what they meant.)

posted by pracowity at 7:27 AM on September 27, 2006


Possibly. Then we wouldn't be complicit in this.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 10:22 AM EST on September 27 [+] [!]


We wouldn't? Wouldn't people say that US aid to Israel is enabling them to spend money on their local defense industry?

We aren't complicit. We sold them something, but they chose how to use it and when. The moral choice and responsibility is theirs and theirs alone.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:28 AM on September 27, 2006


And our moral choice and responsibility to force them to end it quickly, even after they had shown they were bombing things that had nothing to do with Hezbollah--which we didn't do?
posted by amberglow at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2006


posted "90 percent of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict when we knew there would be a resolution, when we knew there would be an end. "


So basically Israel laid mines in what they knew would soon be civilian areas, intentionally impeding refugee's return and reconstruction efforts?

Man. For most of my life I was strong supporter of Israel, doing my best to rebut friends and acquaintances who argued for less US support to Israel. And I still have great regard for the people of Israel. But when they elect Israeli governments that do this, this is precisely the sort of thing that makes me far less able to argue for Israel.
posted by orthogonality at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2006


Look, we know the US manufactures munitions and bombs like this - where do you think the US military gets them from? We also make nuclear weapons and flying killer robot drones. Aren't those worse?

If this were the nuke thread or the "flying killer robot drone" thread, then we'd probably be talking about those.

This thread is about cluster bombs. Try to keep up.

Israel should be ashamed of this behaviour, but I'm betting they think its just swell.
posted by bshort at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2006


Most of them are from America." who may ban future sales.

Yup, right after we sign the land mines ban treaty. [cough]

I have to say I find this statement to be extremely irritating.

Try calamine lotion or just get over it.

It is relevant exactly because of the furor of "Iran is rearming Hezbollah!" coming from the neocon likudniks who wish to invade yet another country.

Cuts both ways, I'd say.

How about the UN guarding the borders of Israel to prevent the US from rearming the IDF, huh?

Know what happened at the WH immediately after Israel invaded Lebanon? Bush ordered a rush delivery of bombs (yes, that kind!) to Israel. Now that's what I call compassionate! What would his favorite philosopher have to say about it?
posted by nofundy at 7:30 AM on September 27, 2006


How did Israel pay for these anti-personnel WMDs -- cash or credit? Or maybe Israel bought them with some of the billions of U.S. dollars it's given every year to buy such things? Is the money involved Americans' tax dollars?
posted by davy at 7:31 AM on September 27, 2006


I don't know what else they should have used to destroy their enemies weapons in a situation where intel was hazy, the rockets kept coming, and ground troops were drinking out of animal trough's. It was a war. Hezbollah declared it, Israel fought it. The only other reasonable option was to drop heavier dumb ordinance on suspected launch areas. Which would you rather have: giant craters, more collateral damage, and less effectiveness or less damage, more effectiveness, but more clean-up at the end?

That said, it's fair to say the same technology we're using to put timers in our mines so they disable themselves after the shooting stops should be adopted in cluster munitions.

It should also be said that defending the weapon isn't the same as defending every target.

Just one man's opinion.
posted by trinarian at 7:32 AM on September 27, 2006


We sold them something, but they chose how to use it and when. The moral choice and responsibility is theirs and theirs alone.

We GAVE them something knowing full well how they would use it. You so often appear strongly and willfully obtuse, or maybe you just have problems keeping up.
posted by nofundy at 7:32 AM on September 27, 2006


Yes, and the atom bomb was dropped on Japan AFTER we knew there would be an end to the war...

I know it's a slight derail, but please back up that statement with some facts.
posted by rocket88 at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2006


amberglow - And our moral choice and responsibility to force them to end it quickly, even after they had shown they were bombing things that had nothing to do with Hezbollah--which we didn't do?

An excellent point. We had the moral responsibility to at least try to stop it. I'm not convinced we would have been successful, but we had the responsibility to try. But we have this moral responsiblity not because we supplied weapons or a certain kind of weapon, but we have the power to at least influence the decision making process in Israel.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:33 AM on September 27, 2006


So, Pastabagel, let's say I had, oh, some shoulder launched anti-aircraft missiles that I didn't need and I put them on some sort of military hardware version of EBay. You don't think I'd be doing anything amoral if, after payment arrived, I shipped them off to "Akbar / Second Cave on the Right / Impenetrable Mountainous Terrain, Afghanistan"?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:38 AM on September 27, 2006


nofundy - what the hell are you talking about? We knew at the time we sold them that they would be dropped on Lebanon? We can predict the future now? Maybe we sodl them to Israel on the basis that their neighbors might choose to start another war with them, like the three that were started before.

And drop the ad hominem attacks, please. I can be much better at them than you.

The US is a country, not the world's daddy or mommy. We sell them, and the buyer is responsible for their use. To use a bad analogy, the drug dealer is not responsible for drug abuse. The user is.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:40 AM on September 27, 2006


To use a bad analogy, the drug dealer is not responsible for drug abuse. The user is.

Yet legal penalties and prosecution are always harsher for dealers than users under American law. Really bad analogy, although I think bad only in the sense that it undermines your position. It is just like the drug dealer and drug abuse.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:43 AM on September 27, 2006


How about banning U.S. arms sales (or flat-out gifts of weapons) to Israel. Make Israel pay cash to oh China or Russia instead. And demand Israel pay up on all the weapons it's already bought on credit.

Right patastabagel, the US is not the world's mommy or daddy. The US is the world's main murderer, directly or by proxy, of Arab children.
posted by davy at 7:44 AM on September 27, 2006


[this thread might be fun]
posted by davy at 7:45 AM on September 27, 2006


Kid Charlemagne, if you are an american or from an allied country, then yes, you would have a moral problem, because it is expected that the weapon would be used against you, your allies, your countrymen, etc.

Although, I suppose your example is different in that it's an individual doing it, and from a purely moral standpoint, you have an moral obligation not to act against those you support. If you support American soldiers, even if you're against the war but you think they are in a tough spot because they have to do their job, it would be immoral. If you we so anti-US, and felt morally that the US is wrong, evil, etc, and that the soldiers in the line of fire are morally responsible for continuing a war of oppression or subjugation, then you may have a moral obligation to help you fellow oppressed bretheren.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:45 AM on September 27, 2006


Yet legal penalties and prosecution are always harsher for dealers than users under American law. Really bad analogy, although I think bad only in the sense that it undermines your position. It is just like the drug dealer and drug abuse.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:43 AM EST on September 27 [+] [!]


Not quite - the moral issue is seperate from the legal one. The drug dealers receive this treatment only because this is how the law was written. The law is written to achieve a morally neutral position, which is fewer drug sales. Drug dealing is as moral/immoral as alcohol or coffee sales. That's why I said drug abuse, not drug use. The seller is not responsible for a buyer who cannot use a product responsibly.

I deliberately stayed away from arguing what is legal because it is totally pointless. First, cluster bombs aren't illegal yet, and the fpp article was addressing it from a more moral standpoint. Secondly, everything Hezbollah did is illegal under Lebanese national law, let alone international law. It's silly to expect them to obey some nebulous weapons restriction passed in the UN if they aren't going to obey the laws of the country in which they are a political party.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2006


"It is patently silly to limit or regulate what can and can't be used in wartime. It's a war, each side is trying to kill people on the other side."

War is a theatre for our most despicable imaginings. The fact that wars are still fought is bad enough; if no limitations were placed on what counted as conscionable warfare, we would soon find that there is no bottom to the well of the fear and violence we are capapable of.

Or rather, if these are the kind of things that happen when there ARE laws for nations to thwart and circumvent, imagine what war would be like if those laws were thrown out altogether.
posted by hermitosis at 7:51 AM on September 27, 2006


The US is a country, not the world's daddy or mommy. We sell them, and the buyer is responsible for their use. To use a bad analogy, the drug dealer is not responsible for drug abuse. The user is.

We are Israel's daddy, and give them a billion+ dollar allowance every year. We have always--always--tried to force diplomacy in the region instead of military action throughout their history--especially when not invaded or attacked (and this wasn't an invasion or an attack), until now. We brokered all their peace accords--all of them. We have always recognized a sense of responsibility for their actions, and for their safety--until now.
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Correct me if I'm recalling incorrectly, but didn't we send Israel an emergency shipment of bombs when the conflict started? I'm assuming somebody basically stencilled "IDF" over the existing "USAF" designation on the bombs, and shipped them direct from some Air Force base munition dump.

In other words, when the bombs were shopped, the conflict had already begun, and it was clear as day that these bombs would be used on Lebanon, and clear as day the Bush administration desired that.

Even if you don't see the US as fully knowledgeable and complicit in this, there are a bunch of grieving Lebanese civilians who do. Some of them will grow up seeing America as the killer of their families, and will desire to strike back at us. No doubt some of those kids will do it too, whether to US embassies overseas, or in the heart of New York City.

America, I am often told, is a Christan nation, and certainly we share a Book with Israel's People of The Book. That book contains much tribalist/nationalist folly but also much wisdom, and one passage in particular continues to be prophetic: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind".

We've sown the wind.
posted by orthogonality at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2006


Here's a thought - what we think here is less important than the conclusions the Lebanese draw from a shitload of cluster munitions with 'made in USA' on them left in their neighbourhoods and killing their children.

I suggest they aren't really asking those 'important' questions about how Israel paid for them or what the US was thinking at the time it shipped them.

Y'know, stuff like this - It comes back to haunt you.
posted by fingerbang at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


We aren't complicit.

Possibly the most concise statement of head-in-the-sand obliviousness I've ever seen. That's right, we have nothing to do with Israel and that crazy shit it pulls! I can't imagine why anyone would think we might!

And on the "But Billy did it first!" argument: does Israel really want to justify its behavior by pointing out that a terrorist organization is just as bad?
posted by languagehat at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


davy, why should we ban arms sales to Israel? Should we ban arms sales to the UK? Do we really want to indirectly subsidize a Chinese or Russian arms industry?

Let's not be silly, we are not the main murder of arab children, the arabs are. All of those suicide bombings for instance, are motivated, funded, and supported by arabs. The Iraqi police that are killed are killed by arabs. Most of the civilians killed in Iraq are killed by other arabs (or persians, you get the picture), except for those civilians who are actually fighting US soldiers.
posted by Pastabagel at 7:56 AM on September 27, 2006


This issue is being framed in such nauseatingly moralistic terms that I can't see any productive discussion proceeding from it.

The US gives military aid all around the region. To Egypt, to Turkey, to Iraq, to Kuwait, to Saudi Arabia, and yes, also to Israel. We do so because it buys us leverage in that particularly bellicose region. Should we be spending our efforts trying to disarm the region and transform it into something less blood-spattered? Certainly.

But to assert (without supporting evidence, btw) that "[t]he US is the world's main murderer, directly or by proxy, of Arab children" is to ignore one crucial fact: our military aid, by and large, stabilizes the region by maintaining a balance of power. This recent administration is, obviously, a bunch of bumbling thieves. But we've been giving military aid in the middle east for well over 30 years. And doing so has led to peace between Israel, Egypt and Jordan.

So, bleeding-hearts of metafilter, why don't you click your fingers at those keyboards trying to figure out new ways to increase dialogue and cross-cultural understanding in the middle east. Or is it too much fun to polish that ethical hardon you've got going?
posted by felix betachat at 7:58 AM on September 27, 2006


I hear that most of the AK47s manufactured today are from China. Is this shocking?
posted by JJ86 at 7:59 AM on September 27, 2006


The US is a country, not the world's daddy or mommy. We sell them, and the buyer is responsible for their use. To use a bad analogy, the drug dealer is not responsible for drug abuse. The user is.

It's amazing.
I spend a bit of time on justcurio.us, and when I come back, MeFi content looks loony in comparison.
posted by dreamsign at 7:59 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel - you don't even sell arms to Israel, it's so heavily subsidised you practically give them the arms for free.
posted by Artw at 8:00 AM on September 27, 2006


Yes Pastabagel, They specifically ask for it, and specifically we supplied it,. Thats what we did we can predict they will use it when they tell us why they need it.

So by your reasoning Drug runners and sellers are not the problem its the USERS! AH!

As long as the users ASK for the Drugs, they can sell it to them!

As long as Sadam ASKS for Poison Gas and Nuke stuff We could sell it to them! As long as North korea and china ASK for ICBM technology its okay to sell it to them, not my fault if they use it on say Tokyo.... I didn't do anything but GIVE it to them.. Thats awful selfish and petty..
posted by Elim at 8:00 AM on September 27, 2006


pastabagel - First, we gave them, we didn't sell them. Second, providing/producing/selling arms is in itself is immoral, giving them to known bad actors is doubly so. Third, it wasn't an ad hominem. it was a genuine question, sorry if you felt differently. Fourth, I think I ably explained WHY that the US provided arms to Israel is relevant, as in, "Iran is arming ...!"
Yes, that is a very bad analogy. Being an enabler is not acceptable nor moral.
posted by nofundy at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2006


So I assume that Iserael isn't a signatory on the land-mine treaty either?
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on September 27, 2006


languagehat - you are taking my statement out of context and applying it generally to everything it does. I already said the US had the moral responsibility to try to stop the conflict. But we are not complicit in the immorality of Israel's use of cluster bombs simply because we sold them to Israel.

amberglow - we still have the moral responsibility for all those things you mention, but again, not for every stupid thing the Israeli's do in executing operations. to say the US has the moral responsibility when we aren't planning and controlling every military operation on the ground is to absolve Israel of any responsibility of its own. We are not responsible for dropping cluster bombs in civilian areas 72 hours before a peace deal everyone knew was going to be struck would take effect. Israel is.

Fingerbang - of course they will blame the US for everything, the way the Iraqis blamed us both for keeping Saddam in power and for what happened after we took him out of power. The powerless always see those with some power as responsible for everything. I submit that we can't always worry about that. Osama bin laden had absolutely no, zero, legitiamte gripe against the United States. None. The hijackers didn't either.

There will be some people to blame you for doing nothing, and others to blame you in turn for eveything we do.

orthogonality post seems to suggest that at some point someone, some group will launch an attack in the US. I completely agree, and I'll go further to suggest that it is very possible a nuclear weapon could be detonated here in the next 40 years.

It may be Hezbollah who does it. It may be a Lebanese descendant of someone who was killed when Israel was trying to destroy Hezbollah. You can't predict who will do something like this because the act is so insane that it requires an insane mind to pull it off. Do we even really know why Osama did what he did? Does he know?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:13 AM on September 27, 2006


the was a fight Hezbollah picked, prosecuted against Israeli civilians and the Lebanese people.

ah, the "against the Lebanese people" meme. then, I guess that all the Lebanese people must love Israel now, their liberators from Hezbollah, right?
oh, wait...

sadly, the cluster bombs are a final temper tantrum coming from the side who (unexpectedly) lost the war. the bombs were clearly intended to be left there, for the enjoyment of the Lebanese civilians. good luck picking those oranges now, you evil Lebanese farmers!
so much for "one side strikes civlians and one side is all for surgical attacks"

this was, and remained, a defensive war.

yes, it was and remains so in some dishonest or uninformed minds. the reality, unfortunately for apologists (on both sides), is more complicated: the plan had been ready for a long time, it was just a question of waiting for a casus belli, one that possibly happened in Lebanon, not even in Israel.

not to mention, the "Israel was provoked, so tough shit for the Lebanese civlians", well, gives off an unpleasant reek -- the Palestinian suicide bombers insist on stating (in their farewell videos) that they were provoked by the occupation. an eye for an eye, going blind, etc (it's useless to repeat here that democratic nations shouldn't lower themselves to the use of terrorist tactics, unless they want to waive their "democratic" title, because it's all beside point in a post-Geneva world)

but yeah, blaming the savage Muslims who somehow manage to make the saintly IDF do bad things they'd never dream of doing in the first place is certainly easier.

a not-so-small bonus for the losers: Lebanon is "half destroyed", in the kind words of the Prime Minister. so it's not a complete defeat, I guess
posted by matteo at 8:16 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel showed he mislaid his Thinking Cap when he asked:

"davy, why should we ban arms sales to Israel?"

So the IDF won't use them against Lebanese kids, for one thing. (Didn't I aldready say this?)

"Should we ban arms sales to the UK?"

Probably, though at least the RAF won't drop them on Lebanese kids.

"Do we really want to indirectly subsidize a Chinese or Russian arms industry?"

If we stopped giving Israel money to buy arms we won't be.

Get it yet?

Oh and felix_b, we are "figur[ing] out new ways to increase dialogue and cross-cultural understanding in the middle east"; ceasing to murder their kids can a good start, don't you agree?
posted by davy at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2006


. Second, providing/producing/selling arms is in itself is immoral,

Well, at least this is consistent, though I disagree. A lot of people seem to be forgetting that the US first and foremost has a moral obligation to protect the lives of Americans, which sort of requires spending money on making and selling arms.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:18 AM on September 27, 2006


But Pastabagel, I don't think helping Israel kill Lebanese kids is making me any safer. (Find your Thinking Cap.)
posted by davy at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2006


We do so because it buys us leverage in that particularly bellicose region.

leverage? yeah, Rice was totally calling the shots during the crisis. totally. that's money (more than a trillion dollars after 1967) well spent!

Or is it too much fun to polish that ethical hardon you've got going?

ah, ethics. yes. glass houses, stones.
posted by matteo at 8:25 AM on September 27, 2006


davy, I get it, you want us to stop financially and militarily supporting Israel entirely. I suppose we could send them corn and wheat? So we should send money to Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq but not Israel.

Again, why? They are our ally. They are a productive nation. They contribute scientifically and culturally more than any other country in that region.

You see how this issue isn't a moral one, and can't be? There is no moral answer to questions this complex, other than to chastize our friends when they do something stupid.

I'll tell you what, I'll agree to cut off aid to Israel when the issue is framed as ending US foreign aid to anyone completely. That I will support, selectivity based on who knows what I won't.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:29 AM on September 27, 2006


But Pastabagel, I don't think helping Israel kill Lebanese kids is making me any safer. (Find your Thinking Cap.)
posted by davy at 11:23 AM EST on September 27 [+] [!]


First, for the umpteenth time, we didn't kill anyone. The Israelis did. And killing lebanese kids didn't make israelis any safer, but destroying the Hezbollah rocket launcher placed right next to thse kids did, at least temporarily.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:32 AM on September 27, 2006


I am beginning to come to the opinion that there is absolutely nothing Israel could do, no matter how evil or despicable, that an American wouldn't defend.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2006


I am beginning to come to the opinion that there is absolutely nothing Israel could do, no matter how evil or despicable, that an American wouldn't defend.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM EST on September 27 [+] [!]


That would be reasonable, considering there are over 300 million Americans. There's got to be at least one willing to support any given thing. But be positive! That means for every atrocity commited by an extremist group, there will be an American willing to blame it on America!
posted by Pastabagel at 8:37 AM on September 27, 2006


I am beginning to come to the opinion that there is absolutely nothing Israel could do, no matter how good or kind, that people wouldn't attack.

(If we're going to make blanket statements...)
posted by inigo2 at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2006


You know, I really don't think you want to get into a numerical argument about atrocities right now.
posted by Artw at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2006


inigo2 - Really?

It seems like there is a pretty damn specific form of behaviour from Israel that people attack - namely the damage they cause to various civilian populations.

Feel free to point to counter examples.
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel writes "It may be Hezbollah who does it. It may be a Lebanese descendant of someone who was killed when Israel was trying to destroy Hezbollah. You can't predict who will do something like this because the act is so insane that it requires an insane mind to pull it off. Do we even really know why Osama did what he did? Does he know?"


In all due respect Pastabagel (and I do respect you), BULSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT.

The idea that all our enemies are crazy fucks, not (just as we are) nationalists with a vision for their future, is what made us underestimate the Chinese on the Yalu and the North Vietnamese movement for self-determination. It's a recipe for defeat.

Our enemies want sovereignty and nationhood as much as we do, and like us they're willing to kill and die for it.

I don't see us and them as moral equivalent, but I do se that they're as smart and determined as we are. Perhaps more determined. I want us to win and them to lose, but until we realize they're not just crazy discontented dead-ender last throes insurgent brown people, we have no chance of defeating them.

Osama is motivated by a desire to see America power in the Muslim world end. He's determined and able enough to strike us repeatedly and remain free to do it again. I hate the guy, but I'm not going to underestimate him.
posted by orthogonality at 8:54 AM on September 27, 2006


You know, I really don't think you want to get into a numerical argument about atrocities right now.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM EST on September 27 [+] [!]


Not really, and I'm not convinced anyone could win such an argument without ignoring every suicide attack, hostage taking, and videotaped forced religious conversion and beheading.

the damage they cause to various civilian populations.

Here's what you aren't getting. It is not possible to fight Hezbollah without fighting in civilian areas because -surprise - Hezbollah places its forces in civiling areas. If hezbollah fought on proper battlefields in uniforms, then Israelis wouldn't have to fight in civilian areas. Also, the war would end with the utter destruction of Hezbollah in about 3 hours, which I suspect is why Hezbollah chooses to ignore the laws of war, dress like lebanese civilians, and launch rockets from playgrounds.

See, launching missiles into Israel from civilian areas is itself a war crime. That's an atrocity even if the missile explodes on takeoff. Even if they never launch the missle, just keeping it in a civilian area is a war crime. It puts the other side into the position of either doing nothing, or relying on the margin of error of technology and attacking the military position knowing that there is likely to be collateral damage and civilian death.

I agree that dropping the cluster bombs in civilian areas is indefensible and reprehensible. But to use the broad sweep of "damage caused to civilian areas" is entirely unconstructive.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:56 AM on September 27, 2006


It's just unbelievable, the arguments that people make in defense of Israel.

Of course we support them, and of course we are equally guilty for the problems they cause. We give them tons of cash and military hardware every year, and then when they use it, it's not on us? Please.

And killing lebanese kids didn't make israelis any safer, but destroying the Hezbollah rocket launcher placed right next to thse kids did, at least temporarily.

No, it didn't. Not even for a second. What you are thinking about is a false sense of security. It's like playing a game of chess and only focusing on the next move, the next move, the next move... not thinking 5-6 moves ahead. An idiotic way of playing the game.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2006


"[Israel] cmore than any other country in that region."

Please provide your figures showing that. If it is true, it would be harder for Israel to "contribute scientifically and culturally" if it had to spend its own money on its own bomblets to kill Arab kids, eh? Maybe Israel also should rethink its priorities: "Do we want to make more and better scientific and cultural contributions, or do we want to kill lots of Arab kids?" (Though some, like Ariel Sharon and Meir Kahane, must see killing Arab kids as a scientific and cultural contribution.)
posted by davy at 8:59 AM on September 27, 2006


At this point, I am fully convinced the Israeli army could forcibly rape the babies of a million Lebanese peasants and somebody here would be justifying it with a really shitty analogy.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2006


Sloppy editing. That italicized line before my last response should read "[Israel] contribute[s] scientifically and culturally more than any other country in that region." (As I'm sure most've figured out already.)
posted by davy at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2006


I don't much care what Israel does, I just don't want to send any more money to them. I feel their government has become a destabilizing force, not a center of democratic reform.

That is to say, we haven't gotten any sort of return back on our money, they've squandered it.

I want us to win and them to lose

I'd rather quit playing, and start playing the other game, the one where ObL can't get any more recruits because the USA has quit fucking around with other countries' governments and economies.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2006


The idea that all our enemies are crazy fucks Ah, but that's not what I said. The people who pull it off, the one who flys the plane, detonates the nuke, is crazy, because those things are suicidal acts, which are the acts of crazy people.

My point about Osama is not that he is crazy (though the sentence was pretty poorly constructed) but that his motives are still unknown. Do you rally think all he wants is American influence in the muslim world to end? You say" not (just as we are) nationalists with a vision for their future," but that's not what the collective opinion of our leaders is. The collective opinion around here of our leaders is that they are kleptocrats, oil-obsessed, religious zealots. So why can't Osama be just like that? He's certainly rich, very oil obsessed if you look into his history and his family's, and at least appears to be a fundamentalist.

On you point, though, where in the muslim world did we have an overpowering influence in 2001? Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan were all enemies. Saudi Arabia is a sovereign country which gets lots of money from the US, but that money has influence back here too, so it balances out. The Saudis are not puppets in the traditional sense.

And their objective is nationalism? Arabs already have their own states. Lebanon is a sovereign state (lots of lebanese are christians, by the way). All of the other countries are already sovereign Arab states. Saudi Arabia is a muslim religious state. So is Iran, and so was Afghanistan.

Maybe what he wants is an Al Aaeda state, prefereably situated where Saudi Arabia is now.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2006


I'm guilty of murder of innocent men
Innocent woman and innocent children
Thousands of 'em
My planes, my guns, my money, my soldiers
My blood on my hands -- it's all my fault
-- "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts"
posted by kirkaracha at 9:10 AM on September 27, 2006


We are not responsible for dropping cluster bombs in civilian areas 72 hours before a peace deal everyone knew was going to be struck would take effect. Israel is.


They could not have done it unless we had supplied them with the money and weapons to do it. They would not have had the capacity to do it. We arm them, and they use them--it's simple. We know full well who and how they'll use them, and we knew when they would do so. We purposely held back from demanding they cease doing so, especially after weeks and weeks had gone by. We wanted this done as part of some insane Middle East strategy, and they did it. They wanted it done too, because they don't think Arab life has value. The world and especially the Arab world sees these things too, and acts on them.
posted by amberglow at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2006


because those things are suicidal acts, which are the acts of crazy people.

This isn't logic you're using here. Maybe the guy thinks that the sacrifice of his own life may pay off in a nicer life for his family and friends? He may be wrong, but how can you know what he is thinking? You just want to believe he's "crazy".

Maybe what he wants is an Al Aaeda state, prefereably situated where Saudi Arabia is now.

Now this makes sense.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:15 AM on September 27, 2006


President Bush declared Lebanon a front in the "global war on terrorism" Monday, equating the Israeli battle against Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas to the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on September 27, 2006


Israel should be ashamed of this behaviour, but I'm betting they think its just swell.

If there was any shame in the mideast region, things would not be as they are.

Cluster munitions suck. But they aren't nearly the only thing that sucks, and at horrible cost to civilians, it will be an impediment to Hesbollah's occupation of southern lebanon.

If you were taking missiles attacks into your cities, would you put the lebanese civilian's welfare above your own citizen's?

Would you?
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:19 AM on September 27, 2006


Sounds like a false dichotomy to me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:20 AM on September 27, 2006


No, it didn't. Not even for a second.
Yes it did. Are rockets falling on Israel with the same frequency as before this summer's conflict?

I'm not defending Israel's war or invasion of Lebanon, check the threads from then and you'll se that I was pretty much violently against it and outraged that the US was doing nothing and couldn't see how this would hurt the US in the long run. But we are not morally responsible for every operation the Israelis conducted in that war, that's ridiculous.

Please provide your figures showing that.

Well, Israel is second only to Silicon Valley in the number of start-up companies (2500 in 2005). In 2005, hi-tech accounted for over 50% of Israel's industrial exports. Israel also produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country in the world. This might be an argument for stopping foreign aid (they don't need it), but on the other hand it could be an argument for continuing it (isn't this what foreign aid is supposed to support? Why aren't other aid recipients having this success?)
posted by Pastabagel at 9:26 AM on September 27, 2006


You just want to believe he's "crazy".

No, suicide by definition is a mental illness. I'm sure I could dig up the DSM section on it if I wanted. He may have is own rationale, but that doesn't preclude insanity. Also, he knows (or should know) that previous suicide attacks in the past have accomplished nothing, so why would his be any different. The suicide bomber is delusional, the one who gets him to do it isn't.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:29 AM on September 27, 2006


A word to the wise: Invest in prosthetic limbs. If Israel can get away with this shit others will follow.
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on September 27, 2006


I guess that all the Lebanese people must love Israel now, their liberators from Hezbollah

matteo, whether or not the Lebanese people see Hezbollah as their protectors has nothing to do with the proven fact that Hezbollah were using those same people as human shields. Collateral damage against civilians in Lebanon was the consequence, in many cases, of Hezbollah storing weapons, locating command centers, and launching rockets from civilian areas. It's a sad fact of post-colonial politics that those same people will see the Israelis (an Americans) as their enemies and not the terrorists of Hezbollah who imperiled them in the first place.

But then, as you must know, ideology does strange things to people's rational faculties.

it was just a question of waiting for a casus belli

So, by the same logic, I guess you'd say that because the US plans militarily for a contingency in which China attacks and attempts to overtake Taiwan, America is responsible for that war? For any government, all the more so for Israel, not to have plans to defend itself against attack from an arming and hostile neighbor would be criminally negligent.

Only in the looking glass logic through which leftists view the Middle East could Israel's defensive war be blamed on Israel herself. Cross-border incursions into Lebanon, you say? Wholesale withdrawal from same in 2000, I say. If there was coordination and planning going on here, it was between the thugs of Hamas and the thugs of Hezbollah.

Honestly matteo, you're a brilliant guy. Your thoughtfulness and intelligence are writ large all over this site. But when it comes to I/P, you retreat into the most simplistic sort of black and white logic, wherein Israel must be beastly and evil, and the Arabs must be oppressed and noble in their suffering.

The world is far more complicated than that. One must be able to criticize Israel and appreciate that much of what she does both diplomatically and militarily springs from a genuine sense of mortal peril. And one must be able to appreciate that the Arab militants have learned brilliantly to play on that sense of mortal peril even as one decries the suffering of Arab civilians.

I'll say it for the last time, and then I'm out: anyone who is genuinely concerned about the stability of the region and the welfare of its residents should work hard to understand the ethical complexities at work in Middle East politics. When one retreats into simplistic good/bad dichotomies, critique ceases to be effective or thoughtful and becomes self-congratulation. I, for one, have had enough of that bullshit.
posted by felix betachat at 9:34 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel writes "No, suicide by definition is a mental illness."
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
SERGEANT HERBERT J. THOMAS
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Third Marines, Third Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the battle at the Koromokina River, Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands, on November 7, 1943. Although several of his men were struck by enemy bullets as he led his squad through dense jungle undergrowth in the face of severe hostile machinegun fire, Sergeant Thomas and his group fearlessly pressed forward into the center of the Japanese position and destroyed the crews of two machine guns by accurate rifle fire and grenades. Discovering a third gun more difficult to approach, he carefully placed his men closely around him in strategic positions from which they were to charge after he had thrown a grenade into the emplacement. When the grenade struck vines and fell back into the midst of the group, Sergeant Thomas deliberately flung himself upon it to smother the explosion, valiantly sacrificing his life for his comrades. Inspired by his selfless action, his men unhesitatingly charged the enemy machinegun and, with fierce determination, killed the crew and several other nearby defenders. The splendid initiative and extremely heroic conduct of Sergeant Thomas in carrying out his prompt decision with full knowledge of his fate reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HERBERT A. LITTLETON
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE

for service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Radio Operator with an Artillery Forward Observation Team of Company C, First Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 22 April 1951. Standing watch when a well-concealed and numerically superior enemy force launched a violent night attack from near- by positions against his company, Private First Class Littleton quickly alerted the forward observation team and immediately moved into an advantageous position to assist in calling down artillery fire on the hostile force. When an enemy hand grenade was thrown into his vantage point shortly after the arrival of the remainder of the team, he unhesitatingly hurled himself on the deadly missile, absorbing its full, shattering impact in his own body. By his prompt action and heroic spirit of self-sacrifice, he saved the other members of his team from serious injury or death and enabled them to carry on the vital mission which culminated in the repulse of the hostile attack. His indomitable valor in the face of almost certain death reflects the highest credit upon Private First Class Littleton and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.


/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to

CORPORAL WILLIAM T. PERKINS, JR.
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS

for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a combat photographer attached to Company C, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam on 12 October 1967. During Operation MEDINA, a major reconnaissance in force, southwest of Quang Tri, Company C made heavy combat contact with a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army Force estimated at from two to three companies. The focal point of the intense fighting was a helicopter landing zone which was also serving as the Command Post of Company C. In the course of a strong hostile attack, an enemy grenade landed in the immediate area occupied by Corporal Perkins and three other Marines. Realizing the inherent danger, he shouted the warning, "Incoming Grenade" to his fellow Marines, and in a valiant act of heroism, hurled himself upon the grenade absorbing the impact of the explosion with his own body thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the cost of his own. Through his exceptional courage and inspiring valor in the face of certain death, Corporal Perkins reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

/S/ RICHARD M. NIXON
posted by orthogonality at 9:39 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel said: "[S]uicide by definition is a mental illness."

What about murdering children? Or is murdering Arab children a hallmark of sanity?

Oh and my question concerned whether it 'would be harder for Israel to "contribute scientifically and culturally" if it had to spend its own money on its own bomblets to kill Arab kids.'

You replied with the dubious assertion that Israeli dot-coms and academic papers constituted scientific and cultural contributions.

Please answer my question. Do you think Israel could afford to continue such (dubious?) contributions if it had to slaughter Arab kids with its own weapons at its own expense?

And felix_betachat, please use your deep understanding of ethical complexities to tell me when it is a Good Thing to murder children.
posted by davy at 9:42 AM on September 27, 2006



No, it didn't. Not even for a second.

Yes it did. Are rockets falling on Israel with the same frequency as before this summer's conflict?


This is immaterial. Individual rocket fire into Israeli cities is not perilous to the survival of Israel as a country, as horrible and inconveinent it may be to the citizens of that area.

But a rash string of attacks by Israel which accomplish no goals whatsoever, other than convincing the neighboring population that you are out to kill all of them - say, by seeding their neighborhoods with cluster rounds, so that it's dangerous just to walk down the street in your home - now, that's dangerous to your country. It unites the populace behind your enemy far more strongly than before.

Israel's invasion accomplished what, exactly? They didn't get their troops back. They didn't seriously harm Hezbollah. They didn't stop Syria or Iran from further arming Hezbollah. They didn't even destroy a majority of Hezbollah equipment. Just killed a bunch of civilians, and seeded the potential for many, many, many more to fight against them than before.

Idiocy. Like I said, it would be far better is Israel would think a few moves ahead instead of just blasting away... and I'm certainly not the only one who thinks so. Just look at the reaction of the Israeli people to this mess; they know that they are no safer than when they started.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 9:45 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


They are our ally.

they're not a very useful one ... i don't see their soldiers in afghanistan or iraq helping us out ... instead of assisting us in our quest to bring democracy to the middle east, they bombed the crap out of one of the most promising democracies in the area and de-stabilized it ... (their response was way too disproportionate) ... they have repeatedly defied our opinions over the growth of the settlements in the west bank ... they have approached the issue of peace talks with bad faith and footdragging, when they aren't trying to dictate the terms outright ... they have refused to follow the tenets of international law, which clearly states that israel should withdraw to the borders they had in 1967 ... (and don't bother with the old "those borders aren't defensible" argument ... if this year's war proved anything, it's that no borders israel could ever have will be defensible) ... and they have become a nuclear power in direct defiance of our wishes for non-proliferation

they've made a lot of trouble for us ... what have they actually done to HELP us

they're not much of an ally ... neither is jordan, or egypt or saudi arabia for that matter

it's time we stepped back and see this mess for what it is ... a massive clusterfuck of conflicting rights on both sides, prosecuted by leaders who have no qualms against committing crimes against humanity

we have two choices ... impose a settlement on everyone or get the hell out of it

i say we get the hell out
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2006


One must be able to criticize Israel and appreciate that much of what she does both diplomatically and militarily springs from a genuine sense of mortal peril.

"mortal peril" is just a tired, morally bankrupt excuse for Israel to be allowed to do anything they want. Israel was never mortally imperilled by Hezbollah, especially not the current and triggering actions.
posted by amberglow at 9:50 AM on September 27, 2006


No, suicide by definition is a mental illness

Well, THAT sure simplifies the moral equation *rolls eyes*.

I think, because of game theory, that Israel's secret nuclear weapons program is insane, literally. Also the interrogation techniques they've used in the past. So what? That does nothing to excuse anything I or anyone else might do regarding the situation, and that applies equally to suicide bombers.

"He's crazy" means "I don't have to think any more" and it means "he's crazy, so anything I do is justified."
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


wherein Israel must be beastly and evil, and the Arabs must be oppressed and noble in their suffering

it's difficult to see through that straw man inferno's smoke, felix. as languagehat points out above, it's appalling that your line of defense is essentially, IDF bad, but Hezbollah and Hamas as bad/worse. those are terrorist organizations. if you're a (peculiar) democracy and sink to their level, you'll become a rogue state, a perpetrator of state terror.

history will judge if the Israeli hawks and the "West Bank is Israel" faction will have helped Israel, or they'll have destroyed her. I bet on the latter. I hope I'm wrong.
posted by matteo at 9:53 AM on September 27, 2006


davy, you keep using that term "murder". I don't think it means what you think it means.

This is murder:

On April 22, 1979, Samir Kuntar led a group of four who entered Israel from Lebanon by boat. The group members were Abdel Majeed Asslan born in 1955, Mhanna Salim Al-Muayed born in 1960 and Ahmed AlAbras born in 1949. They belonged to the Palestine Liberation Front under the leadership of Abu Abbas. The group departed from the seashore of Tyre in South Lebanon using a 55 horse-powered motorized rubber boat with an 88 km/hr speed. The goal of the operation was to attack Nahariya, 10 kms away from the Lebanese border and 8 kms north of the city of Akko. The group called their operation the Nasser Operation.

Around midnight they arrived at the coastal town of Nahariya. The four killed a policeman who came across them. The group then entered a high building, 61 Jabotinski Street, where they parted into two groups. One group broke into the apartment of the Haran family before police reinforcements had arrived. The unit took twenty-eight-year old Danny Haran hostage along with his four-year-old daughter, Einat. The mother, Smadar Haran, was able to hide in a crawl space above the bedroom with her two-year-old daughter Yael, and a neighbour.

According to Smadar, "I will never forget the joy and the hatred in [Kuntar's group's] voices as they swaggered about hunting for us, firing their guns and throwing grenades. I knew that if Yael cried out, the terrorists would toss a grenade into the crawl space and we would be killed. So I kept my hand over her mouth, hoping she could breathe. As I lay there, I remembered my mother telling me how she had hidden from the Nazis during the Holocaust. "This is just like what happened to my mother," I thought."[10]

posted by felix betachat at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2006


Israel was never mortally imperilled by Hezbollah, especially not the current and triggering actions

That's easy for you to say, amberglow. You live where, exactly? New York isn't it? Me, I was in the states, but my apartment in Jerusalem was being used by a family with a newborn child fleeing their moshav in the north, where the bombs were falling nightly.

The exodus from the northern part of Israel was tremendous. Well over 75% of the forested land in the north was burned in the fires which ensued.

So, it really isn't for you to say whether or not Israel was mortally imperilled, is it? Really. You can't be that arrogant, can you?
posted by felix betachat at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2006


I'd just like to calmly say a few things.

I do not endose either side in this conflict and feel both sides engaged in morally questionable actions.

1) cluster bombs are a particularly nasty form of explosive, and do a disproportinate amount of damage to civilian populations than military.
(the assertion that becasuse hezbollah did something it is ok for Isreal to do simular things is a bit flawed, if someone commits atrocities you can either do the same, thereby reducing yourself to that level, or refuse to do so and maintain a clear differance between tactics and morality)


2) Making something dangerious and then selling it does not wholly absovle one of the moral implications of use.

3) There are limitations set up for war time engagement, saying that anything goes in wartime is ignoring that there are differnt levels, types and reasons for war.
posted by edgeways at 10:02 AM on September 27, 2006


The exodus from the northern part of Israel was tremendous.

the exodus from the southern part of lebanon was also tremendous

please explain just what the hell anyone accomplished by doing what they did ... cause i'm not getting it ... the lebanese people aren't getting it ... and a good part of the israeli people aren't getting it either

just what the hell did this war accomplish besides creating wastelands in israel and lebanon?

i'm so not getting this
posted by pyramid termite at 10:06 AM on September 27, 2006



So, it really isn't for you to say whether or not Israel was mortally imperilled, is it? Really. You can't be that arrogant, can you?


It isn't arrogance, it is objectivity. Do you really think that Israel - even though it may have been inconveinced, hurt, or damaged by this conflict - was ever in mortal peril? That it could have ceased to exist?

That's like saying that the US was in mortal peril on 9/11. It most certainly was not.

Do you understand what mortal peril means? Seriously.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:08 AM on September 27, 2006


So, it really isn't for you to say whether or not Israel was mortally imperilled, is it? Really. You can't be that arrogant, can you?

Yup, i can. My city's been attacked too, and it was never in mortal peril, nor was my country. We have just as many if not more enemies than Israel too, especially lately. Israel had occupied Lebanon for years and knew full well the threat they pose or don't pose.

All of a sudden they're in mortal peril because 2 soldiers are captured? bullshit. utter bullshit. Is everything that ever happens and everything they ever do because they're always in "mortal peril"? Stop giving them the benefit of the doubt in everything--they're not children.
posted by amberglow at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2006


what Cycloptichorn said too.
posted by amberglow at 10:09 AM on September 27, 2006


for proportionality, would I be fair in asserting that the US was in "mortal peril" after suffering a months worth of sustained attacks along its northern border, from Washington to Maine and as far south as Chicago and New York City? With all the population displacement and fear that would inevitably ensue...

'cause that's what it would have been like. Not fucking 9/11.
posted by felix betachat at 10:11 AM on September 27, 2006


my apartment in Jerusalem was being used by a family with a newborn child fleeing their moshav in the north

this is wrong, of course ... but there is one difference between them and a lebanese family in a similar situation

when that family returns to their moshav they will not have to worry about their kid running across a cluster bomb as he wanders around

the lebanese family will

think about it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:13 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Why not? 9/11 killed far, far more people and did far more damage to property than the attacks Israel has suffered.

You still haven't answered the question: do you really believe that Israel was in 'mortal peril' at any time? That she would have suffered a chance of ceasing to exist as a nation?

The smart thing to do, for you, right now, would be to admit that of course she wasn't.o
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:14 AM on September 27, 2006


Israel has to learn to get along with its neighbors and stop this shit. That's it.

That won't happen with cluster bomblets that we provide them, and it won't happen with massive massive overreactions to every little thing, as we saw--That's exactly the wrong thing to do.
posted by amberglow at 10:15 AM on September 27, 2006


Okay felix_betachat, I get it: it'd be perfectly okay for me to slaughter your kids because only Arabs can commit murder and I'm not Arab. So then if I were to kill your kids I'd be demonstrating my deep understanding of "the ethical complexities at work in Middle East politics", maybe?

Or maybe the point of your long quote is that only Jewish children can be murdered, that other peoples' kids don't really count -- and killing Arab kids is a Good Thing. (That's what Kahane said, pretty much; change a couple labels and it'd also fit Hitler's understanding of ethical complexities.)

Perhaps it would help you to point to a Wikipedia article on murder and a few dictionary definitions.

Or perhap I should rephrase the question: when is dropping bombs on children not murder? Do you figure the ethnicity and/or religion of the children into the definition?
posted by davy at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2006


for proportionality, would I be fair in asserting that the US ...

no ... not unless they were bombing us with celine dion cds
posted by pyramid termite at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2006


would I be fair in asserting that the US was in "mortal peril" after suffering a months worth of sustained attacks along its northern border, from Washington to Maine and as far south as Chicago and New York City?

Even then we wouldn't be in "mortal peril"--we would be under sustained and repeated attack. There would be no danger of the US ceasing to exist--that can only be done from inside, not outside. It's the actions nations take in response that endanger them far more than the attacks on them--always.
posted by amberglow at 10:17 AM on September 27, 2006


Please provide your figures showing that. If it is true, it would be harder for Israel to "contribute scientifically and culturally" if it had to spend its own money on its own bomblets to kill Arab kids, eh? Maybe Israel also should rethink its priorities: "Do we want to make more and better scientific and cultural contributions, or do we want to kill lots of Arab kids?" (Though some, like Ariel Sharon and Meir Kahane, must see killing Arab kids as a scientific and cultural contribution.)

Here are a few:

http://www.factsandlogic.org/outstanding_accomp.html

I generally support Israel, even if this latest conflict has left me feeling quite ambivalent. I think that Israel was justified in taking action against the rockets, but the cluster bombs in the final hours struck me as excessive. Anyway, regardless of how you feel about particular political/military issues, it is pure sophistry to deny Israel's cultural achievements. It is this characterization of Israeli culture as only wanting to "kill Arab kids" that is a huge part of the problem in the Middle East. No wonder Israelis feel paranoid. Anything they do, whether developing cell phones, medical imaging devices, publishing books, planting trees, or providing relief aid, somehow can't get mentioned without an oblique reference to the occupation or killing Arabs, if not directly relating the two.

Somebody asked where this negative characterization of everything Israel does is. It's right here in this thread. It's in every discussion I've ever had about Israel.

You can argue against the IDF. That is legitimate, although I believe very misguided. Israel has lowered its guard before, and the consequences have only been more bombings and more terror. Nobody thinks about the consequences of a considerably weakened IDF for ordinary Israelis, but it would certainly mean lots of deaths. Nevertheless, I will listen to your arguments and engage you in debate. But for fucks sake, don't deny that Israeli society as a whole has produced a lot of good for the world. That smacks of ignorance and bigotry. I mean, I don't like what the American army does either, but I still like jazz, baseball, rock and roll, baseball, Mark Twain, and the automobile.
posted by SBMike at 10:18 AM on September 27, 2006


Israel has to learn to get along with its neighbors and stop this shit. That's it.

That's the most sensible thing said in this entire thread.
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2006


We've only ever been in mortal peril once--during the Civil War.

No one is saying that Israel's neighbors don't hate it--we think there are better ways not being used to help with that--and those other ways are the only ways Israel can continue. It's what Israel does more than what Hezbollah or others do that emperil or ensure its survival.
posted by amberglow at 10:21 AM on September 27, 2006


Israel has tried to learn how to get along with its neighbors. Actually, it has made peace with its two closest neighbors, and has been willing to attempt peace, even with very bellicose regimes. Perhaps the Arab countries need to learn to get along with Israel instead of making demands they know they will never get to postpone any peace agreement.
posted by SBMike at 10:22 AM on September 27, 2006


Cylopticheron, I'll thank you not to tell me what it's smart for me to do. I have a different perspective and a different frame of reference than you do. One which is, in this case, a lot more informed than yours, I suspect.

Yes. I believe that a substantial sector of the Israeli population saw this war as a mortal threat. Right and Left and Center. They saw this as a dry run for a future attack by Hezbollah armed by a nuclear Iran. They saw it as a dangerous escalation from the usual mode of attack, which is suicide bombing.

And, you must realize, Israel is a small country. "Mortal threat" doesn't have to mean the country ceases to exist. It can mean, "I am in imminent danger of being killed going about my daily business." 9/11 was a one-off. Imagine a decade's worth of smaller 9/11's, the aggregate effect of which is to create a society in which encounters with the maimed and the dead are a daily occurence.

I am not defending Israel's bellicosity. And in a quieter moment, I will be happy to discuss (in email, perhaps?) the dangers of a culture of victimhood in the Israeli right. But none of that changes the fact that a lot of people were shit scared and displaced during Hezbollah's adventure. And that the defensive war which ensued was not a war of choice.

Israel is not America. And she does not go to war for the same reason or in the same way that America does.
posted by felix betachat at 10:22 AM on September 27, 2006



But for fucks sake, don't deny that Israeli society as a whole has produced a lot of good for the world.


Yeah, but it isn't good enough to ignore the hostile and immoral actions of your own country as if it wasn't your fault.

It would be like discussing the actions of a famous, nobel-prize winning scientist who also happens to poison animals in his spare time, and then complaining because every time his name comes up, people focus on the horrible things that he has done, and forget the good stuff.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:24 AM on September 27, 2006


Actually, it has made peace with its two closest neighbors

it has made peace with 2 of its 4 closest neighbors, while continuing to occupy territory they once held

that may be peace right now ... but i'm not so sure about 10 years from now
posted by pyramid termite at 10:25 AM on September 27, 2006



Yes. I believe that a substantial sector of the Israeli population saw this war as a mortal threat. Right and Left and Center. They saw this as a dry run for a future attack by Hezbollah armed by a nuclear Iran. They saw it as a dangerous escalation from the usual mode of attack, which is suicide bombing.


It is, of course, important to remember the timeline of events; Hezbollah crosses border, gets into a tiff with some soldiers, they shoot it out, Hezbollah captures a couple of them and retreats, Israel starts bombing the ever loving Crap out of Lebanon, and Hezbollah starts launching lots of rockets into Israel.

How is that a dry run for a future attack by Hezbollah? The way I see it, they didn't launch a large scale attack on Israel until after the bombing had started in Lebanon. Am I incorrect on the order of events, here?

You act as if this was a planned conflict on Hezbollah's side, when I don't really see a lot of evidence that this is true.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:28 AM on September 27, 2006


"Israel is not America."

Not exactly, no.

"And she does not go to war for the same reason or in the same way that America does."

But she knows as well as America how to cause the deaths of children with cluster bombs. Bombs that kill go off hours or even days later -- i.e. hardly "in the heat of battle." One might even say use of these weapons demonstrates "cold blood" -- I can't think of a better way to demonstrate that concept.

Have we reached a working agreement on the definition of "murder" yet?
posted by davy at 10:30 AM on September 27, 2006


Hezbollah captures a couple of them and retreats, Israel starts bombing the ever loving Crap out of Lebanon, and Hezbollah starts launching lots of rockets into Israel.

Rank sophistry. Hezbollah is on record as having bragged about building up its rocket arsenal for years to prepare for a future attack against Israel. One reason Israel got its ass kicked is because Hezbollah, reading the Viet Cong playbook, built a massive system of tunnels to repel an Israeli incursion.

The first attacks were by Hamas, in Gaza, after the capture of the Israeli soldier. The Hezbollah response of simultaneous kidnapping and rocket-attack was half-solidarity, half-opportunism. And they had been planning for this for a long, long time.

So, yes. Your order of events is off.
posted by felix betachat at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2006


SBMike writes "It is this characterization of Israeli culture as only wanting to 'kill Arab kids' that is a huge part of the problem in the Middle East. No wonder Israelis feel paranoid. Anything they do, whether developing cell phones, medical imaging devices, publishing books, planting trees, or providing relief aid, somehow can't get mentioned without an oblique reference to the occupation or killing Arabs, if not directly relating the two."


Natürlich Helmut, no matter what we do: invent modern dye chemistry, the aspirin and other pharmaceuticals, re-build the Ruhr industries, sell Mercedes and Volkswagens world-wide, even being loyal members of NATO, rebuilding the East, being the European Community's economic backbone, nothing can get mentioned without some Godwining oblique references to the National Socialists or Hitler or Konzentrationslager Auschwitz.
posted by orthogonality at 10:31 AM on September 27, 2006


And she does not go to war

(can I just say it creeps me right the f&*k out when people ascribe gender to nations? please do go on.)
posted by saulgoodman at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2006


sorry davy. Once again, as so often is the case when I converse with you here, I don't feel like you're speaking in good faith. That is to say, I think you're trying to score points, not to understand my perspective. It's pissing me off. Go. Declare victory or whatever it is you do after a good hard round of trolling, okay?
posted by felix betachat at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2006


Yes. I believe that a substantial sector of the Israeli population saw this war as a mortal threat. Right and Left and Center. They saw this as a dry run for a future attack by Hezbollah armed by a nuclear Iran.

ok ... that's not an unreasonable or unrealistic view

the question is, what does one do about it? ... the best result you can get with nuclear arms is mutual deterrance ... the worst is mutual assured destruction

considering that some of the people your country is opposing don't seem to fear "martyrdom", it may well be that they are immune to m a d

where does that leave you?

look at the long term ... yeah, you could bomb iran now and stop them for awhile, but eventually, they or someone else is going to get the bomb ... (how do we know what the pakistanis are doing with their bombs right now?) ... and then what?

your country needs to find a solution that the other side will recognize as being fair and equitable ... and so far, they have failed to do this

truth is, you were in mortal peril before this war ever started and you remain so now ... i cannot say what settlement would take you out of that mortal peril

i can say that unless you find a good settlement you will remain in it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2006


I'm not willing to ignore terrible things the IDF might do. There are unfortunately people who believe that Israel is a country of saints that never do anything wrong. I am not one of them. The IDF is an army, and armies do terrible things, sometimes because they are forced to, and sometimes just because humans can be pretty damn terrible to each other. I don't think they were right to use cluster bombs. My problem is the double standard. There seems to be a lot of talk about people not understanding Arab/Muslim culture and what a terrible thing that is, while at the same time ignoring the terror caused by suicide bombings, incitement of children, and the random stabbings, beatings, and shootings of Jews worldwide. At the same time, whenever Israel is mentioned, it's always about the IDF and the atrocities (real or imagined) that they commit.

I've been to Israel twice, and the society is more than one big evil army. Criticisms of the IDF are completely legitimate. Denying Israeli culture is anti-semitism, pure and simple. I'm actually saying this to help your arguments. You will convince a lot more people who need convincing (namely Jews) about the evils of the IDF if you don't criticize Israeli society as a whole. That's a real quick way to make sure that you don't get listened to.
posted by SBMike at 10:35 AM on September 27, 2006



The first attacks were by Hamas, in Gaza, after the capture of the Israeli soldier. The Hezbollah response of simultaneous kidnapping and rocket-attack was half-solidarity, half-opportunism. And they had been planning for this for a long, long time.


The first part is incorrect, because you don't seem to realize that Hamas and Hezbollah are two different organizations in two different countries. It would be akin to equating the US and Israel, which even in this thread has been called an error by those defending Israel's actions.

The second part - 'planning for a long, long time' is what we like to refer to as an unsourced assertion. What evidence do you have that this was planned for a long, long time by Hezbollah?

You cannot use the actions of Hamas to say that Hezbollah started the conflict with Israel, that's just ridiculous logic you have going there.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 10:36 AM on September 27, 2006


(p_t, I'm American, not Israeli)

I completely agree. One reason the Bush administration and its ham-fisted approach to diplomacy have me so terrified is that they are moving the counter toward, not away from the sort of MAD you describe above.

The US should be acting, in concert with its allies, as a good faith broker...disarming the region and encouraging acts of cross-cultural and trans-national confidence building. Instead, they're contributing massively to a collective Arab perception of threat.
posted by felix betachat at 10:41 AM on September 27, 2006


Cyloptichorn, Read this. What I know of the timeline and the prehistory of the conflict comes from this article.
posted by felix betachat at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2006


But felix, you're the one who understands "the ethical complexities at work in Middle East politics", so surely you can answer one simple question. I.e., when IS bombing children NOT murder? Surely the ability to answer such simple ethical questions must come before complex ones, right?

Whether you think I'm "speaking in good faith" or not should not affect your moral judgment. Besides, I did not ask for your opinion of me -- I asked when it was Okay to bomb children. Or maybe your answer does depend on me, sorta like "it's okay to bomb kids when it upsets that 'troll' davy"?
posted by davy at 10:45 AM on September 27, 2006


I'm American, not Israeli

It's an interweb discussion about Israel, of course you're American.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on September 27, 2006


There is no possible way to justify cluster bomb use on a civilian population. Period.

Israel's use was a despicable/criminal act... I cannot imagine why one would even attempt to defend it.

I have a number of cluster bomb related posts on my blog.

The civilian impact of these weapons is much too severe for any civilized nation to continue their use.

Perhaps some good can come of this horrific act in that people will see the evil in these weaponse more clearly.
posted by james_cpi at 10:47 AM on September 27, 2006


I cannot imagine why one would even attempt to defend it.

Every defense amounts to "Israel cannot tolerate attacks from Hez", which is true, but has nothing to do with the question of why these particular weapons were employed on these particular targets.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:50 AM on September 27, 2006


From the above NYRB link, on the cluster bombs and Israel's strategic objectives:
This Israeli campaign appears to have had two purposes. One was psychological: underlining the fact that Hezbollah had failed to fulfill its role as a protector of even its own people, the Shia, let alone of Lebanon as a whole. The other was military: to clear the south Lebanon "fighting box" of civilians, so as to allow the Israeli army to make use of its heaviest antipersonnel weaponry without fear of bad publicity. In the very last hours of the war, Israel does seem to have saturated parts of the border landscape with cluster bombs. But either its army was given too little time and leeway or the technique was inefficient. The final twenty-four hours of fighting saw Hezbollah firing its single largest daily volley of rockets, some 250, at northern Israel. Many were shot from positions that had been repeatedly bombed, often within sight of Israel's border.

posted by felix betachat at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2006


Sonofsamiam- I agree with you... and Israel is not lacking in options when it comes to weaponry... to use a weapon that continues to kill long after hostilities have 'ceased' is tantamount to terrorism, IMHO.
posted by james_cpi at 10:52 AM on September 27, 2006


More food for the fray, from over at Cross-Currents, Contemplating Israel's Demise
posted by Adamchik at 10:54 AM on September 27, 2006


OH! Finally felix tries to answer, something like "It's okay to bomb children when the children are Arab and (especially) when Israel does it."
posted by davy at 10:59 AM on September 27, 2006


SBMike writes "My problem is the double standard. There seems to be a lot of talk about people not understanding Arab/Muslim culture and what a terrible thing that is, while at the same time ignoring the terror caused by suicide bombings, incitement of children, and the random stabbings, beatings, and shootings of Jews worldwide. At the same time, whenever Israel is mentioned, it's always about the IDF and the atrocities (real or imagined) that they commit."


Yes, you're right. But, no shit.

Israel is held up as the only Democracy in the region, as a staunch friend and ally of the US, and by some as a moral exemplar either because it was settled by Holocaust survivors or because God gave them the land in His convenant.

And every year, Israel automatically gets billions in US foreign and military aid with few or no strings attached. Even on nuclear non-proliferation, Israel gets a pass.

For claiming to live by a higher standard (Democracy, ally, aid recipient, God's chosen people), for claiming the benefits thereof, Israel is held to a higher standard.
posted by orthogonality at 11:01 AM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


Thank you Orthogonality....!!
posted by james_cpi at 11:03 AM on September 27, 2006


It's ok to bomb children when doing so will save the lives of more children. The only way to justify something so terrible is if it prevents a greater evil. Not to be misunderstood, I don't think that this was the case with the cluster bombs. So I'm not justifying Israeli actions in this particular case.

Let's talk hypotheticals. And let's replace "bombing" with "killing," I don't think it makes much of a difference w.r.t. ethics. Is it OK to kill a child in self defense? What if a child is pointing a gun at you and you believe he will shoot? Is it wrong to kill that kid? I think no, although it is a tricky ethical dilemma. Whatever you think, can we agree that this situation is quite different from shooting an unarmed child, which is wrong by any reasonable ethical standard?

What about hostages? What if an armed group is attacking you from a building/car/whatever that also has a group of children as hostages? Now is it OK to bomb them? What if they are shooting your own children? Once again, it's a tough call ethically. Not a situation I would want to find myself in. Still, somebody who OKed the bombing would be on better ethical ground than somebody who bombed children unprovoked.

There is an ethical difference between deliberately targetting civilians and collateral damage. This is an important and substantial difference. Equating the two is ethically dishonest. You could still believe that both are wrong and that it is never OK to kill children even if it means not defending yourself, even if it means letting your children die. If that is what you believe, then that's a completely valid viewpoint. Taking somebody who has made a difficult decision to inflict civilian casualties in the process of defending oneself and saying that they have deliberately targetted those civilians is demonizing that person unfairly.

Now before people jump down my throat, that was all hypothetical. Back to Israel and the cluster bombs, I don't think those civilian deaths really helped Israel defend itself, and just caused more hatred of Israel. Therefore the cluster bombs were a terrible action, and possible war crime. However, Israel often does find itself in a position where they face a legitimate threat and cannot protect itself without causing collateral damage. This fact must be appreciated, that many times Israel is faced with a choice of kill or be killed, and that its actions must be viewed in light of this fact, instead of constantly accusing the country of having a blood lust for killing Arabs.
posted by SBMike at 11:22 AM on September 27, 2006


Psalm 137 (New International Version)

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you
for what you have done to us-

9 he who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
posted by davy at 11:23 AM on September 27, 2006


Pastabagel writes "It is patently silly to limit or regulate what can and can't be used in wartime. It's a war, each side is trying to kill people on the other side. Does it really matter if they are killed by a cluster bomb or a bullet? Dead is dead."

I think your either trolling or being intentially obtuse. Of course it matters. A bullet stops killing people within seconds of being fired. These cluster bomblets are going to be killing the Lebanese (and Afgani and Iraqi) people for decades. The Vietnamese are still being killed by US unexploded ordinance 30 years after the retreat.
posted by Mitheral at 11:24 AM on September 27, 2006


james_cpi writes "I have a number of cluster bomb related posts on my blog."

That's what I get for not reading intervening comments while previewing. Welcome James.
posted by Mitheral at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2006


SBMike: You said:
It's ok to bomb children when doing so will save the lives of more children.

and

There is an ethical difference between deliberately targetting civilians and collateral damage. This is an important and substantial difference. Equating the two is ethically dishonest.

These seem sort of contradictory. To me, it seems that we can make estimates about collateral damage, and therefore we refrain from engagements where we expect collateral damage to be "too" high.

The difference between that situation and "targetting civilians" is that the collateral damage is expected to NOT be "too" high, or even beneficial to our goals.

They seem like points on a continuum, not exclusive options, and it's not clear at all to me where one ends and the other begins.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:30 AM on September 27, 2006


They seem like points on a continuum, not exclusive options, and it's not clear at all to me where one ends and the other begins.

Agreed, I was just outlining the extreme cases. I wasn't offering any simple answers about whether any particular action was justified or not. Just trying to map out the scale of ethical rightness/wrongness so that we can characterize certain actions.

Let's look at specific situations.

The cluster bombing of Lebanon: clearly wrong since the benefit was too small, and the collateral damage too high.

What about when the IDF shoots a Palestinian kid with a (possibly fake, possibly real) gun who approaches the security fence? Having the knowledge that children have been used to carry out attacks in the past. Here the collateral damage is less than the cluster bombing, and the potential security gain greater, so this lies further away from the 'evil' side of the continuum.

Nevertheless, the reaction for both cases is often indistinguishable. If international outrage were more tailored to the nuances of such situations, I'd be a lot more ready to listen to criticisms.

You talk about a continuum of good/evil. I agree that such a continuum exists, and that Israeli actions fall all over the continuum. If people stopped using the same criticisms for actions all over the continuum, it would provide Israel with an incentive to stick to acts closer to the good end of the spectrum. As it stands, they can expect to be villified for whatever they do, which actually prompts more evil on the Israeli side.

People defending the cluster bombing are misguided. They know deep down how wrong it was. They just won't come around because they've all heard so much illegitamite criticism of Israel in the past that supporters of Israel are always on the defensive. This is a reaction to bias against Israel. When Israel does do something terrible, it makes them defend unjust Israeli action. This dialogue benefits no one.
posted by SBMike at 11:42 AM on September 27, 2006


"The cluster bombing of Lebanon: clearly wrong since the benefit was too small, and the collateral damage too high."

So how does one separate "the ethical complexities at work in Middle East politics" from the Israeli government's cost-benefit analysis?

But then you (SBMike) said that "People defending the cluster bombing are misguided. They know deep down how wrong it was."

I agree with that opinion, and I hope you're correct that they know it's wrong.

In the old days though, before humankind was ethically enlightened, the vast majority of us would have agreed that it's just a matter of revenge, that killing babies was less important than whose babies got killed. Or am I mistaken about something here?
posted by davy at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2006


So, it really isn't for you to say whether or not Israel was mortally imperilled, is it? Really. You can't be that arrogant, can you?


the Palestinians do see themselves as mortally imperiled. I'm assuming you justify their killing of civilians, too, then (I?m just following your logic). or do you justify only their attacks against military targets?

if "mortal peril = licence to commit war crimes", then it can't be OK just for one side. I mean, you can't be that intellectually dishonest, right?
;)
as I said, and pardon the pun, war crimes are not Kosher, no matter who's committing them. not even if your side commits them. sorry. I understand it's your war, but it's not mine. and I suspect it's not many Americans war, either.


I am not defending Israel's bellicosity


no, you're defending her war crimes. mortal peril, and all.
posted by matteo at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2006


Math problem:

1) Most of them are from America.
2) hundreds of US-made cluster bombs among the tens of thousands of unexploded munitions

100/10000 = .01. How does 1% constitute "most"?

i don't see their soldiers in afghanistan or iraq helping us out
Because nothing would help calm those situations better than having Israeli soldiers among the occupying forces.
posted by forrest at 1:39 PM on September 27, 2006


If anything good comes out of this (it certainly didn't for Israel, who failed in their objective to even put a dent in Hezbollah's military capacity, nor for the hundreds of dead, non-Hezbollah Lebanese, nor the much smaller number of dead Israeli civilians), it's that Americans are becoming less and less prepared to carry Israel's water (and provide the money that props up their regime) no matter what they do, ever.

I mean, if you're going to engage in hard-nosed, kill 'em all style warfare, at least get the fucking job done, and don't scatter anti-civilians munitions when you realize you've lost.

Oh, and don't encourage the new democracy of Iraq to hate you as well. Freedom being on the march and all.
posted by bardic at 2:14 PM on September 27, 2006


I believe that a substantial sector of the Israeli population saw this war as a mortal threat.

And I believe that a substantial sector of the German population saw Germany's "encirclement" in the 1930s by other European countries (not to mention its internal weakening by a certain fifth-column, cosmopolitan, Bolshevizing element) as a mortal threat. My wife sees getting on a plane as a mortal threat. Your point again?

This Israeli campaign appears to have had two purposes. One was psychological: underlining the fact that Hezbollah had failed to fulfill its role as a protector of even its own people, the Shia, let alone of Lebanon as a whole.

"We committed those war crimes to show you that Hezbollah can't protect you"—brilliant! Hey, I'll bet the U.S. could use that reasoning too!
posted by languagehat at 2:23 PM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


From the rinf link:
The bomb was made before the Vietnam war had ended, because there is a marking showing that its warranty ended on 7 February 1974.
WTF? I don't know what I am more amazed at: that bombs have warrantees (is that an RTB warantee? Imagine FedEx'ing a cluster bomb that failed to explode!), or that bombs were being used that are more than 32 years old are being used... No wonder the bomblet failure rate is 30%, and some cannisters even fail completely...
posted by nielm at 2:34 PM on September 27, 2006


And I believe that a substantial sector of the German population saw Germany's "encirclement" in the 1930s by other European countries (not to mention its internal weakening by a certain fifth-column, cosmopolitan, Bolshevizing element) as a mortal threat. My wife sees getting on a plane as a mortal threat. Your point again?

Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you.
posted by SBMike at 2:35 PM on September 27, 2006


It's absurd to regulate the weapons that can be used,

Isn't Saddam Hussein on trial right now for that very thing? If he had simply bombed rather then gassed Kurdish villages, would it still have been a war crime?

There are lots of rules to wars, and they are there for a reason. Just saying "it's war" is absurd, not attempts to regulate it.
posted by cell divide at 2:57 PM on September 27, 2006


Why not just say check out my blog where I wrote about this stuff under the name Cindy Page?

It would be pretty ham-handed by existing community standards, but better than whatever it is you're trying to do now.
posted by bardic at 3:15 PM on September 27, 2006


Criticisms of the IDF are completely legitimate. Denying Israeli culture is anti-semitism, pure and simple. I'm actually saying this to help your arguments. You will convince a lot more people who need convincing (namely Jews) about the evils of the IDF if you don't criticize Israeli society as a whole. That's a real quick way to make sure that you don't get listened to.

It's not denying Israeli culture nor anti-semitic to critize their government and their actions. I'm Jewish too, and there are millions of us who are absolutely disgusted with Israel's massive overreaction in this. They're only hurting themselves when they do stuff like this--both inflaming Arab hatred in the region (ensuring that their neighbors will continue to hate them, which may be what some there actually want, i believe), and reducing support from American Jews--which is happening, especially among those of us under 50. If Israeli society does not have a say, and does agree with what the IDF does (like here), then they have to change their leadership (like we do). That doesn't mean that the actions taken by Israel should be free of criticism. No actions by ANY country should be free of criticism (esp. democracies), and they always should be examined and criticized if needed when they concern the innocent citizens of other sovereign countries. The fact that we supply their arms and billions of aid every single year means that we above all must examine critically every single thing they do with those arms and that money.

The day will come when our spigot is turned off---Israel is not at all ready for it, and should be.
posted by amberglow at 3:20 PM on September 27, 2006


oop--make that "does not have a say and does not agree with what the IDF does"
posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on September 27, 2006


Israel needs to develop a national identity that is not dependent on being victimized, is not dependent on their self-perception as the only "democracy" in a region that hates them, is not dependent on keeping every Palestinian disenfranchised and without rights, and most especially is not dependent on our money and arms every year (which ensures lasting Arab hatred of them). There's tons of work to do, and they're not at all doing it.
posted by amberglow at 3:25 PM on September 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


i don't see their soldiers in afghanistan or iraq helping us out

Because nothing would help calm those situations better than having Israeli soldiers among the occupying forces.

which means, as an ally, they are useless in that situation ... q e d

if that was their only flaw as an "ally", i could accept it ... but it isn't, is it?
posted by pyramid termite at 5:58 PM on September 27, 2006


the agreement: disarm Hezbolah: the reality?
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060927/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_not_disarming_hezbollah

Israel gets muntions from the US, and from many other countries. Where do you think Hez. gets its arms from? Does that matter that they are packed with nails etc? No because they are not from the US, right?

How many land mines are in the Southern part of Lebanon now? And who put them there?

If Israel is mostly and usually wrong, then is Hezbollah and Hamas usually right?
posted by Postroad at 6:47 PM on September 27, 2006


If Israel is mostly and usually wrong, then is Hezbollah and Hamas usually right?

Of course not. I can't understand why so many supporters of Israel's worse policies seem to assume those are the options.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:24 PM on September 27, 2006


One can learn a lot about America by reading this thread. For starters, it's pretty easy to see why America keeps doing really shitty things, both internally and globally: a whole whack of supposedly intelligent Americans are black-hearted little shits.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2006


MetaFilter: black-hearted little shits.
posted by homunculus at 8:45 PM on September 27, 2006


Please don't interpret my criticisms against Israel and the IDF as endorsements of Hezbollah and/or Hamas. Though I don't see how anyone who's familiar with my diatribes against Islam could view me as pro-Islamist anyway. "A pox on both their houses."

And as far as Israeli society is concerned, I'd probably be more comfortable in secularish Jewish areas in Israel than anywhere in the Arab world -- as long as they didn't take me for (pro-) Arab and/or Muslim. I spent 13 years of my childhood and adolescence living in a Jewish neighborhood in Baltimore, so Tel Aviv won't be much of a stretch.

That said, so I'm a black-hearted little shit. What about it?
posted by davy at 9:22 PM on September 27, 2006


I have no idea what you said, davy; I gave up in disgust long before you got deep into it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:04 PM on September 27, 2006


Er, which is to say you hadn't said much of anything when I jumped down to the posting text box.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:10 AM on September 28, 2006


One thing I don't get about this recent conflict is the repeated accusation that 'rockets packed with ball-bearings/nails' is the epitome of all evil (ref postroad's comments above)...

These are weapons, weapons designed to kill. Just like artillery fire and missiles from planes/helicopters.They contain things that hurt people, and Hezbollah are not the only party to use weapons that have nasty metal bits flying out when they explode with the intent to hurt people.

* Simple Grenades are scored to create shrapnel when they explode.
* Cluster bomblets too ( according to the beeb) have a pre-scored casing so that they create shrapnel on explosion.
* Claymore mines are filled with ball-bearings (oh, sorry 700 steel spheres!)...
* artillery flechette roundsexplode to release 5000 tiny anti-personnel darts.


"How many land mines are in the Southern part of Lebanon now? And who put them there?"
It was estimated at several hundred thousand before this conflict started, littered across the 'blue line'

Add to that the estimated 30-40% failure rate of 1.2 million cluster bomblets, plus other unexploded ordinance fired by Israel... maccsl reckon that there will be up to 450,000 cluster bomblets littering the ground.

map of the known minefields and the 590 cluster bomb strike locations (4Mb jpeg)
posted by nielm at 6:36 AM on September 28, 2006


to use a weapon that continues to kill long after hostilities have 'ceased' is tantamount to terrorism, IMHO.

Of course it's terrorism. Not because it will go off, but because it might. Lebanese will have to fear that region, fear for themselves, fear for their children, for years.

In that sense, a 30% failure rate making things even more unpredictable is not such a bad thing. A shell that explodes has been used; it's potential gone. An unexploded shell doesn't lose its power to terrify.
posted by dreamsign at 6:49 AM on September 28, 2006


That what Israel wanted--a buffer zone--of course, they made it out of another country's land, and it's deadly, and we helped.
posted by amberglow at 6:57 AM on September 28, 2006


Here's what I find weird about this thread: nobody has pointed out how asinine culturally counting coup is. I mean, "They contribute scientifically and culturally more than any other country in that region." WTF is that?

You want to talk science, fine: that's quantifiable and largely a matter of the economics to finance that sort of thing in the first place. But to suggest that Israel is simply more important culturally than the rest of the region is stupid to an astounding degree. Who decides that cell phones are more important than cous cous? It's sure as hell not FLAME, I can tell you that.

Does that mean that China, by way of its rich heritage, gets some kind of pass on its human rights violations because they invented paper? Gitmo's cool because we gave the world Elvis?

Yes, I rapidly spun into hyperbole, but still. Dumb.
posted by Amanojaku at 3:35 PM on September 28, 2006


For claiming to live by a higher standard (Democracy, ally, aid recipient, God's chosen people), for claiming the benefits thereof, Israel is held to a higher standard.

And that higher standard is what the arab side exploits in its death by a thousand cuts approach to "pushing the "Iz-ry-eelies" into the sea.

Absent that higher standard, the conflict would never have bloomed because a lower standard would justify the genocide of a warring peoples with absolutely no interest in genuine negotiation compromise and peaceful co-existence.
posted by Fupped Duck at 5:08 PM on September 28, 2006


Israel hasn't even pulled out entirely yet. I bet they never do.
posted by amberglow at 9:51 PM on September 28, 2006


Absent that higher standard, the conflict would never have bloomed because a lower standard would justify the genocide of a warring peoples with absolutely no interest in genuine negotiation compromise and peaceful co-existence.

That alleged higher standard is what got Israel its favored status with us in the first place. Abesent that support, it's not likely that they'd be in any position to do much of anything to any peoples, so you're right: the conflict would never have bloomed. Just not in the way you're thinking.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:35 AM on September 29, 2006


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