Speechless and saddened.
July 21, 2006 9:57 PM   Subscribe

500,000 Lebanese citizens are now homeless. That's out of a population of 3.8 million, according to Juan Cole. People in Southern Lebanon have received leaflets warning them to leave, but are trapped in their villages under Israeli bombings. The IDF has opened a 60-km front on the border, using tanks to probe Hezbollah. Meanwhile, a ceasefire remains... elusive. I normally take the position that both sides are excessively violent, but this is a pretty sad picture of what's going on in Lebanon.
posted by spiderwire (206 comments total)
The Israelis have said that everyone should leave, and that any trucks or vans heading south will be blown up. Cute, huh?

If it were up to me, I would get the Israelis to stop attacking and send in the UN to try to control Hezbolla. The UN actually already has 2,000 troupes there I learned today. They've been there since 1978.

normally take the position that both sides are excessively violent

Eh, the Israelis are killing a lot more people. And if look at the devistation on TV, it's not even close. Suburbs of Beruit look like something out of world war two. It's crazy. I flipped over to fox news earlier (just for a minute) and they mentioned Lebanese troupes burying 70 or 80 victims for a couple seconds, then did a whole 5-minute 'report' about the funeral of an Israeli soldier.


If you want to feel really shitty though, keep in mind that twice as many Iraqis died today then the in the entire Israeli/Lebanese rocket-fight.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on July 21, 2006

Sorry I should say more Iraqis died today (over two hundred) then people on both the Israeli side and on the Lebanese side combined since this started.
posted by delmoi at 10:11 PM on July 21, 2006

Juan Cole is not a reliable source.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:13 PM on July 21, 2006

how about LA Times, Steven?
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on July 21, 2006

delmoi: The Israelis will never accept a situation where the UN is responsible for controlling Hezbolla unless (I speculate) it is American/UK troops under an American/UK commander. The UN troops there now completely ignore and sometimes condone Hezbolla's actions.

Think of what a bang-up job the UN forces did of protecting the Bosnians in the UN safe zones in the former Yugoslavia. Israeli jews also have other examples of what a bad idea it is to depend on anyone but themselves for protection.
posted by Justinian at 10:16 PM on July 21, 2006

If only it were 2000 troupes.
posted by cillit bang at 10:19 PM on July 21, 2006

Or The Bostan Globe or the BBC?

By the way, I guess the death toll is up to 330 in Lebanon vs. 32 in Israel, that is more then the number of Iraqis killed today. The Iraq shit is still an order of magnitude worse, but American journalists aren't exactly able to able to hang out and interview Sunni and Shia militias in Iraq the way they can with the Lebanese and Israelis.
posted by delmoi at 10:23 PM on July 21, 2006

delmoi: The Israelis will never accept a situation where the UN is responsible for controlling Hezbolla unless (I speculate) it is American/UK troops under an American/UK commander. The UN troops there now completely ignore and sometimes condone Hezbolla's actions.

Well, right now they say they want the Lebanese army to control Hezbollah. The same army that will supposedly try to fight the Israelis if they invade, according to the democratically elected Lebanese president. Israel is saying that they don't want to occupy, they want someone else to do it, they just want to try to soften up Hezbolla so some other force can come in and take control.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on July 21, 2006

I don't think I believe them, delmoi.
posted by Justinian at 10:29 PM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

G-d To Call Up 3,000 Irregulars

API - St Louis
24 July, 2006

So there I was, squatting on the pot, trying
to take a "D"-word after a 60-hour week spent
computer programming what little is left of
our fading American Dream, when a refracting
ray of golden-green light from the setting
sun glinted across my retina, and suddenly
there I was, in the presence of G-d himself!

Wi-fi and Broadband, and He knew it too.
Hey, The Big Guy is omniscient, remember?!

"What the "H"-word are you doing listening
in on My conversation," G-d thundered.

"I was just trying to take an "S"-word!"

"Well, "S"-word, or get off the pot!" he swore.

"Great!" I lamented, "Now you've made me
self-conscious. I could be here for hours!"

"Oh, "J"-word, "H"-word, "F"-word, "C"-word,"
G-d strung the coarse epithets together like
hot bronze pearls before a stuttering swine.

A tiny voice hovering somewhere above the
bathroom towel rod protested, and G-d swore
again. "Oh, all right," He cursed. "M"-word,
"F"-word, "G"-word ... are you "F"-word happy?!"

I tried to speak, but it came out a frog croak.

"Excuse me," I whimpered, "I didn't mean to
eavesdrop, but now I can't stop hearing You!"

"Oh, that's just "F"-ing Great!" His Loveness
roared, "The Peanut Gallery!" "Listen," He
mellowed, "What would it take for you to get
off the pot, and leave me in Peace?"

I thought for a moment, and then smiled, but
before I could speak the words, of course,
He already knew what they were.

"OK, OK, you little "M"-word, "F"-word, I'll
give you three questions, and make 'em quick!"

I blurted out, "What are You doing right NOW?"

"I'm calling up 3,000 irregulars to take care
of this "F"-word "J"-word cluster "F"-word,"
He stormed, shaking our tiny bathroom walls.

"You mean, Angels?" I quivered.

"Is that your second question?" He laughed,
then relented. "We've got a huge surplus of
Angels up here, with all your war and killing.
Usually, I let them Go into the Light without
Time served, but now We need them here on Duty."

"Like, escorts for the newly Dead in Lebanon?"
I thought that was pretty perceptive of me,
but He just snorted.

"You idiot," He sighed. "A million people on
earth die every year of neglect and starvation.
What the "H"-word do I need irregulars for,
for a few thousand "F"-wording Lebanese Muslim
souls, who are all going to Heaven anyway?"

I shrugged and turned my thumbs outward. I knew
He knew what I was thinking.

"OK, next question, and make it fast," He belched.
The room filled with sulfur, or maybe that was me.

"OK, what about the future of the Middle East and
Israel?" I sat back on the pot, proud of myself.
The toilet flushed spontaneously, splashing my
hanging nate's with ice-cold G-d-stank water.

"What Future?" He paused, then laughed. "OK, sorry,
I had to pull your thumb. Go ask your Great Satan.
Ever since you Ass-clowns outsourced Vengeance to
Great Satan, Inc, and elected Samuel Colt as your
CEO, I don't have anything to do with Retribution."

"Nothing!?" I blurted out, dumbfounded.

"I'll ignore that as a question," He continued.
"Who the "H"-word do you think has been killing
everyone, since you "F"-word wads threw Me out
of the pestilence and plague of locusts business?
The Orkin Man?"

I chuckled at G-d's quick Wit, but He invented it.

"You mean the Great Satan lives on Earth, and walks
around doing Your Retribution, outsourced, on-call!?"
I shook my head in disbelief. But the sun was setting,
and the golden glint in my retina was starting to fade.

"Sorr---y, zcccrrkkkkzzzt, no time ,.., zzcccrrrtkkt
for another ,.,, zcxzccccczt ... questio,.........."
He sounded a million light years away. "Later......"

Then for a second He flared back into the room in
full holography. "And don't worry," His nostrils
flared and His beard shook. "Those "F"-word'ing
"J"-word's are going to get their Retribution!"

Then there I was, sitting alone in our bathroom,
holding my "D"-word, listening to the water swirl.

My spouse looked surprised to hear me whistling Dixie,
when I wandered back into our country kitchen.

"You look pleased with yourself," she smiled.

"Is that your first question?" I chided her, and
then drifted out into our Garden, laughing.

The Apples of are almost Ripe Now.
posted by Unregistered User at 10:31 PM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

What's one more war?
posted by homunculus at 10:32 PM on July 21, 2006

the impression I got isn't that israel really wants lebanon to control hezbollah. it's that israel wants everyone to know that lebanon ISN'T controlling hezbollah as they said they would. Presumably israel would like other countries to take umbrage at this and support them.
posted by shmegegge at 10:34 PM on July 21, 2006

As long as many Arabs won't accept Israel as a reality there will be wars and terror attacks more or less from both sides.

I truely wish that the Lebanese people get their country back - from Syria, Hezbollah and Israel.
posted by homodigitalis at 10:35 PM on July 21, 2006

delmoi, then != than, troups != troops, Bostan != Boston.
posted by quonsar at 10:36 PM on July 21, 2006

I think that delmoi defends the veracity of Juan Cole's links decently, but I'm still curious: why is Juan Cole not reliable? I'm very curious to know, as I obviously read him from time to time.

There's some interesting and frightening stuff about the ongoing situation in Iraq on JC's page as well. :(
posted by spiderwire at 10:38 PM on July 21, 2006

What I don't understand is the Bush Administration's stance of no cease fire. I have heard two different times by two different people that they do not want a cease fire and it smells like a talking point.

The reason given is something like, "Well, we can't have a cease fire because it won't be a real case fire and we'll just be back here in six months..."

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?
posted by jaronson at 10:40 PM on July 21, 2006

Juan Cole is not a reliable source.

because you say so? ... do you mean to tell us that he is spreading misinformation when he tells us that beruit is being bombed, that many buildings lie in ruins, that civilians are being first told to evacuate southern lebanon and then being bombed upon the roads as they do so?

it's funny how the bbc, npr and many other news organizations also are spreading this misinformation, don't you think?

did you have anything useful to add to the discussion aside from "juan cole is not a reliable source" so i'll just ignore the article and pretend that it isn't happening?

or is there a paris paramus post-alike contest i didn't know about?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:41 PM on July 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

Eh, the Israelis are killing a lot more people.

I was arguing about this with you on the Chomsky thread the other day, delmoi, and I think I'd still say here that it's to be expected that there would be more Lebanese casualties, as Hezbollah is a guerrilla army and the Israeli army is more conventional. Israel literally cannot fight Hezbollah without fighting civilians, which is to some degree Hezbollah's whole modus operandi.

Also, the leader of Hezbollah wasn't exactly remorseful about hitting that train station the other day. Their rockets are so useless that even by launching them they're putting civilians at risk, and the fact that they can't launch as many as they'd like isn't exactly a point in their favor.

That said, I think that regardless of whether the Israeli response is justified, it's definitely downright stupid policy. I think it's also very arguable that the response has been disproportionate at the very least, but like I said, I prefer not to take sides. Regardless, the onus of responsibility is on Israel to -- since they do have a professional army under governmental control, unlike Lebanon -- and they're doing everything but taking the high ground. They are actively discouraging the conditions necessary for peace.
posted by spiderwire at 10:44 PM on July 21, 2006

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?

Because they're too incompetent and overstretched to broker a cease fire, even if they were perceived as neutral, which they're not.

That, and there are a number of people in the Administration who favor this sort of thing, believe it or not. They want Israel to try to stamp out Hezbollah.
posted by spiderwire at 10:46 PM on July 21, 2006

I don't think I believe them, delmoi.

I think it makes sense. Really international enforcement is the only way that Israel can really survive as their enemies economies grow and modernize. Iran's GDP is five times as much as Israel's now, for example. Expecting the United States to jump in and occupy anywhere after this Iraq debacle is dicey at best.
posted by delmoi at 10:50 PM on July 21, 2006

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?

they want israel to win ... however, there is doubt whether israel can reach two of their stated objectives - disarming hizbollah and getting the two soldiers back ... they probably can suppress the rocket fire ... but that's tactics

strategically, they've already lost ... whatever they gain from this, the hatred and anger they have reaped far outweighs it ... not to mention the further destablization in the middle east that will result, which is not in anyone's interest, least of all theirs

they will pay a bitter price for this in the future, i'm afraid

it's depressing as hell ...
posted by pyramid termite at 10:54 PM on July 21, 2006

because you say so?

Hitch said so too, though he may have been inebriated at the time (and there's nothing wrong with that.)
posted by homunculus at 11:07 PM on July 21, 2006

That said, I think that regardless of whether the Israeli response is justified, it's definitely downright stupid policy. I think it's also very arguable that the response has been disproportionate at the very least, but like I said, I prefer not to take sides.

Well, that's the whole problem though. This just isn't going to work, and in general it's going to make the situation worse. So in that sense all these lives are just being wasted. These terror networks are like a mushroom that feeds on hate. You can smash the mushrooms when the bloom, but as long as the roots (or mycellum) still exists it can regrow. The only way to kill it is to get rid of the hate, and as we all know bombing certainly doesn't do that.

If I were in Israel's position I would have done maybe one day of bombing and then demanded that the UN get involved.

That said, these neo-cons calling for all-out total war against Iran and Syria are just sick. They think these countries are like pieces on a chessboard to play around with like they were playing a game of risk in their parents basement. It's just crazy and I can't see why they think anyone would want to go along with it. I've heard some people say that their motivation the domestic political rallying caused by being in a "real" war, since the Iraq war isn't "real" enough to get people to all love the president...

Oh, and here is an interesting post by Josh Marshall on the (in)action of the bush administration. The US probably has about as much ability to solve this from the Israeli side as the Iranians do from the Lebanese side.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 PM on July 21, 2006

Delmoi, at this point the LA Times is even less reliable than Juan Cole.

I rate the LA Times down with DEBKA and the National Enquirer on the "reliability" scale.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:13 PM on July 21, 2006

Juan Cole is not a reliable source.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:13 AM AST on July 22

If you've got nothing it's OK to just sit tihs one out, slugger.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:16 PM on July 21, 2006

Hitch said so too, though he may have been inebriated at the time (and there's nothing wrong with that.)

And nothing surprising about that, either.

Delmoi, at this point the LA Times is even less reliable than Juan Cole.

Seriously, I'm curious to know where you're getting this. I'm not saying "cite or shut up," but if you know something we don't, please share?

delmoi, that TPM link was the one I was trying to remember, thank you.
posted by spiderwire at 11:16 PM on July 21, 2006

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?

Because fundies and diplomacy don't mix.
posted by mischief at 11:16 PM on July 21, 2006

so what is a reliable source, then? i'd love to know who you consider reliable.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:17 PM on July 21, 2006

I rate the LA Times down with DEBKA and the National Enquirer on the "reliability" scale.

Any word on the BBC and Bosto Globe? The two other sources I found that confirmed the 500k number? And what about the Australian, or Haaretz? Any other news organizations you'd like to dismiss out of hand?
posted by delmoi at 11:22 PM on July 21, 2006

Bosto is like Boston but with more fried foods.
posted by delmoi at 11:23 PM on July 21, 2006

Gwynne Dyer's take: Israel trying to re-establish deterrant.
Nasrallah knew that the Israeli retaliation for the kidnapping would fall mainly on innocent Lebanese (because they are much easier targets than his elusive guerillas), but he doesn't care. He had a few surprises up his sleeve, such as longer-range rockets that could strike deep into Israel and radar-guided Silkworm anti-ship missiles to attack the Israeli warships that used to shell the Lebanese coast with impunity. And if he manages to fight Israel to a draw, he will come out of this the most popular Arab leader since Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.

Gen. Dan Halutz, the Israeli chief of staff, was also spoiling for a fight. His major concern has been that Israel's "deterrent power" has gone into decline, and he wanted to re-establish it. Some Israeli defense analysts, such as Gerald Steinberg, a professor at Bar Ilan University, believe that the plan for the massive strikes against Lebanon has been sitting on the shelf for several years, awaiting a provocation that would justify putting it into effect. But what does "deterrent power" actually mean?

Understand that, and you understand the remarkable savagery of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. Of course, they are a "disproportionate use of force," as French President Jacques Chirac called them the other day. That is the whole point. Israel's "deterrent power" lies in its demonstrated will to kill and destroy on a vastly greater scale than anybody attacking it can manage. Its enemies must know that if one Israeli is killed, a dozen or even a hundred Arabs will die.
Not unlike the American withdrawl from Vietnam - okay, we can't win, but we can still bomb the shit out of you!
posted by Chuckles at 11:26 PM on July 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

"Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?"
posted by jaronson at 1:40 AM EST on July 22

Because Cupcake Condi is seen in the Middle East as a complete twit, who knows personally nobody in the region worth knowing, and who has no original ideas about the region, nor any worthwhile policy suggestions. And, she works for ideologues who are clueless, and seems happy with that. Privately, she's dismissed out of hand by Arab diplomats across the region, and has a hard time getting her phone calls taken, or arranging meetings at the Secretary of State level. Finally, she's no negotiator.

Her whole set of talking points today about the futility of seeking a cease fire in the near future, before all the "causes" of the current mess were successfully resolved is the single stupidest public pronouncement by a U.S. Secretary of State, since Colin Powell assured the world that Iraq was full of WMDs. Before that, you'd have to go back to the 19th century for anything equally ignorant, I think. At best, she's a placeholder for a human being, and smary excuse for a diplomat, willing to be a public face for an Administration that hopes Israel will kick the hell out anything that smacks of Arab regionalism, so that this Administration won't have as much pressure on its failing policies and world view.

So, she's "off to the Middle East" on Sunday, maybe, to tell who-knows-what to who-knows-who. Not Hezbollah. Not Hamas. Not Syria. Not Iran. Maybe Egypt, since it isn't fighting, and might be a good place to avoid press leaks, and further her ideas of tranformational diplomacy. And not Israel, who could care less at this point, what she has to say.

What's the point?

Speechless and saddened, we are, indeed.
posted by paulsc at 11:35 PM on July 21, 2006 [5 favorites]

"the LA Times is even less reliable than Juan Cole"
Reliable in this case meaning that which you can depend on to prop up your crumbling ideology?
What do you think the real figures are? What are your sources? Or do you just do the chicken hawk squawk and run away?
posted by 2sheets at 11:39 PM on July 21, 2006

Juan Cole would be much more reliable if he had a more distinctive last name, owned a domain name using that name, and had his only clearly visible expertise in fields completely unrelated to the middle east.
posted by little miss manners at 11:44 PM on July 21, 2006

He should change his name to Volokh and start telling us why everyone in power deserves to be there.
posted by Justinian at 11:46 PM on July 21, 2006

The Point is there's supposed to be a point. Physically, a point occupies no space
posted by longsleeves at 11:49 PM on July 21, 2006

Juan Cole would be much more reliable if he had a more distinctive last name, owned a domain name using that name, and had his only clearly visible expertise in fields completely unrelated to the middle east.

And a middle initial!

Anyway, SCDB, what do you consider a reliable source?
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on July 21, 2006

How about something that's not a blog.
posted by mischief at 11:55 PM on July 21, 2006

spiderwire: there are a number of people in the Administration who favor this sort of thing, believe it or not. They want Israel to try to stamp out Hezbollah.

I don't understand how to take your comment, so I'm going to pose this as a question: are you criticizing Israel's means, or her goals? Are you suggesting that Israel ought to not try to stamp out Hezbollah? Because, let's face it - Hezbollah are a group of murderous, criminal thugs. And while you may not look favorably on Israel, the IDF, or their actions, in my opinion there is nonetheless a qualitative difference between the two - Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, in every sense of the phrase as it existed before the current administration branded it all to hell - and Israel is a sovereign nation with the recognition of the UN. As such, they have every right to defend themselves against aggressors.

Perhaps there are better ways to defeat Hezbollah - but I can't imagine how anyone could think that the world would NOT be better off without them.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 11:56 PM on July 21, 2006

fingers_of_fire: I'm not sure what Israel's goals are, but if you mean getting rid of Hezbollah, I don't disagree with that. There's no politically legitimate reason for Lebanon to be supporting a guerrilla army because it's thought of as somehow necessary to defend against Israel.

However, it's also worth pointing out that the Lebanese government is weak -- they're simply not able to rein in Hezbollah. And I think the political will does exist, to a degree. But, as a result, Lebanon and its people are paying the price, and it's unfortunate that they have to suffer because their government isn't getting the support it needs to deal with rogue elements. There's a similar theme in Palestine and elsewhere.

That said, no, I don't think that what Israel's doing now is moving them any closer to removing Hezbollah -- if anything, it's counterproductive.
posted by spiderwire at 12:05 AM on July 22, 2006

Quagmire fest. The US have theirs in Iraq, no reasons their allies and supporters (or supportees) can't have one too in Lebanon.

It certainly would get the region in a deteriorated situation that would warrant even bigger operations.

A US allie is just opening a new front.
posted by NewBornHippy at 12:11 AM on July 22, 2006

Not to derail from the main post, but on the Cole matter - I can't speak for SDB's reasons for calling him unreliable, but Cole has been a popular target with the neocon slime machine, which has been in overdrive trying to discredit him, and successful in blocking him from an appointment at Yale earlier this year. See John Fund in the WSJ. Others piling on were the The Washington Times, The American Enterprise Institute, right wing bloggers, and all the usual suspects. Here's Billmon on the Cole blackballing affair. While on the matter, read Read James Wolcott's amusing account of Cole's turning the tables on one of his critics.

More to the post's point, Condi has been on TV all night saying she doesn't see the point to a cease fire because it would only be "a false promise." How would trying to broker peace be a false promise, what does that even mean? This from the same administration that just vetoed stem cell research on the grounds that it didn't protect the sanctity of life, what an obscene joke.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:13 AM on July 22, 2006

The LA Times crippled their credibility when they hired Jonah Goldberg.
posted by homunculus at 12:18 AM on July 22, 2006

Heh, perfect timing, juju!
posted by homunculus at 12:24 AM on July 22, 2006

President Discusses the Future of Iraq/Middle East, Feb 26, 2003: In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world -- and we will not allow it. (Applause.) This same tyrant has close ties to terrorist organizations, and could supply them with the terrible means to strike this country -- and America will not permit it. The danger posed by Saddam Hussein and his weapons cannot be ignored or wished away...The current Iraqi regime has shown the power of tyranny to spread discord and violence in the Middle East. A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions...We will also lead in carrying out the urgent and dangerous work of destroying chemical and biological weapons...After defeating enemies, we did not leave behind occupying armies, we left constitutions and parliaments. We established an atmosphere of safety, in which responsible, reform-minded local leaders could build lasting institutions of freedom....Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. (Applause.) The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated. (Applause.)

Juan Cole is not a reliable source.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:13 PM PST on July 21

Den Beste: The ideal Metafilter post permits Metafilter readers to feel smugly superior...Remember, the primary pastime of Metafilter readers is constructing and posting snide dismissals and clever barbs.

Congrats, projection boy. Yours almost made it as an ideal Metafilter post ala Den Beste, 'cept on the cleverness issue.

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:56 AM on July 22, 2006

Its enemies must know that if one Israeli is killed, a dozen or even a hundred Arabs will die.

Oh, the Swordfish approach.
posted by oaf at 1:04 AM on July 22, 2006

i love how den beste has been asked several times now to provide his idea of reliable sources and he knows that he ain't got shit, so he's as quiet as a churchmouse up in this piece, all of a sudden. he'll later claim that all this debate is beneath him, and that he merely "went to bed," as if he isn't already completely, totally asleep.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:07 AM on July 22, 2006

Israel stomping out Hezbollah isn't the problem. The problem is stomping out all of Lebanon. Collective punishment is a poor weapon against terrorists.

These actions will empower fundamentalists in Iran and Syria, at the expense of progressives. As long as the US condones Israel's destruction of Lebanon, it also risks turning Shiites against US forces in Iraq. And as others have pointed out, it is counter-productive to Israel's security in the long run. No good will come of this.
posted by Loudmax at 1:21 AM on July 22, 2006

More to the post's point, Condi has been on TV all night saying she doesn't see the point to a cease fire because it would only be "a false promise." How would trying to broker peace be a false promise, what does that even mean?

The false promise in Cupcake's mind is a return to the status quo ante. The real false promise is that the use military force is a better alternative than political engagement.

The whole policy seems to me to result from a terrible case of penis envy. Bombing the crap out of a defensless Arab country makes Condi and the Israelis feel like big, hairy-chested big men and comforts them with the sense of security that military might provides security.

"Hey now, Condi. Is that an Israeli-led invasion in your pocket?"

If it was not so pathetic and tragic and doomed to fail, it would be amusing.
posted by three blind mice at 1:39 AM on July 22, 2006

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?

I'd really like to know, since Blair has also given up on diplomacy, and I can only assume it is under US influence, because the entire Foreign Office, and every other Labour MP, are demanding a severe condemnation of Israel, and of Hezbollah. Junior Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has already broken ranks and revealed that the FO have been urging restraint in talks with Israel, even while Blair expresses support...
posted by jack_mo at 3:08 AM on July 22, 2006

Because all of these dead, moderate Lebanese residents of Beirut and Tyre are just doing wonders for the advance of democracy.

As spiderwire said, put the morality aside (I have a hard time doing that, myself) and look at simple situational logic--Israel loses, Israel loses, Israel loses.

Because they're emboldened by a US foreign policy that's also a loser.

So yeah, go ahead and indict Juan Cole, Dailykos, what have you, at the end of the day/decade, you'll have--surprise--lost.
posted by bardic at 3:14 AM on July 22, 2006

Gentle reader, do you know that Israel is engaged in ethnic cleansing in southern Lebanon? Israel has ordered all the villagers to clear out. Israel then destroys their homes and murders the fleeing villagers. That way there is no one to come back and nothing to which to return, making it easier for Israel to grab the territory, just as Israel has been stealing Palestine from the Palestinians.


Rumsfeld's neocon Pentagon has drafted new US war doctrine that permits pre-emptive nuclear attack on non-nuclear states.

Neocon David Horowitz says that by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, "Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world," thus equating war criminals with civilized men.

Neocon Larry Kudlow says that "Israel is doing the Lord's work" by murdering Lebanese, a claim that should give pause to Israel's Christian evangelical supporters. Where does the Lord Jesus say, "go forth and murder your neighbors so that you may steal their lands"?

The complicity of the American public in these heinous crimes will damn America for all time in history.

The Shame of Being an American

Yeah, it's from antiwar.com however it's well written, so bite me.
posted by Unregistered User at 3:20 AM on July 22, 2006

Not only is Juan Cole a reliable source, he's been remarkably objective on this particular crisis:

He also denied that there were any Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon or that he had had Iranian help. He said people were always putting down the Arabs and saying they could not accomplish anything, but, he said, look at the Israeli warship in flames. That was an Arab accomplishment.

Uh, wouldn't an Arab accomplishment be more like, oh, inventing something or building up something nice? Destroying things and killing people is not an accomplishment.

I watched in horror as this maniacal speech unfolded in which Nasrallah actually threatened the Israelis with releasing chemical gas from local factories on civilians in Haifa. Despite fighting them for all those years, he clearly does not understand the Israelis' psyche or the trauma of the Holocaust. A threat like that. The Israelis don't like being caught in a quagmire any more than the next person, which is why Nasrallah could get them to leave southern Lebanon. But his victory appears to have given him megalomania, and he has now gone too far.

Hizbullah's attacks on Israeli civilians are war crimes. The killing of the civilians in Haifa at the train station was a war crime. And threatening to release chemicals from factories on civilian populations is probably a war crime in itself, much less the doing of it.

Obviously, I do not accept that Hizbullah's actions justify the wholesale indiscriminate destruction and slaughter in which the Israelis have been engaged against the Lebanese in general. But they do have every right to defend themselves against Nasrallah and his mad bombers.

He may not agree with you, SCDB. That doesn't make him unreliable. The biggest difference between you and him, as I see it, is that he seems to be willing to deviate from his ideological viewpoint when reality demands it.
posted by EarBucket at 3:53 AM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

At first glance, I thought the first sentence said esiban. This prompted the inane question: "Why is Juan Cole studying lesibans and is there video?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:05 AM on July 22, 2006

Is a suicide bombing or rockets dumped randomly on your nation NOT collective punishment?
No more said since the usualo name calling vitriol increasingly appearing in comments.
posted by Postroad at 6:09 AM on July 22, 2006

postroad I think it's safe to say that the people who are at fault are among the few who aren't facing 'collective punishment'.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2006

It took until the afternoon for all 82 coffins to be loaded onto two Lebanese Army trucks. The trucks pulled into a trench gouged by a tractor, and the men began unloading the coffins, placing them side by side, grouped by family name.

“If you speak the truth here you are called a traitor,” Mr. Abdullah said. “But we all know that this is a war between Iran and America. I am paying part of the price for it.” Then he suddenly grew pensive as he stood at the edge of the trench.

“That’s my daughter, No. 9,” he said, pointing at a coffin coming out of the truck . “It’s a nice number, don’t you think? And No. 7, it’s a nice number, too. It’s my wife. And there’s No. 10. I hope they will be lucky.”
82 coffins...
posted by Unregistered User at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2006

U.S. Speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis. 'Cause we wouldn't want them to run out of bombs.
posted by octothorpe at 6:46 AM on July 22, 2006

Rice sees bombs as birth pangs

Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the "birth pangs of a new Middle East" and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.

"This is a different Middle East. It's a new Middle East. It's hard, We're going through a very violent time," the US secretary of state said.

"A ceasefire would be a false promise if it simply returns us to the status quo."

War is Peace. Death is Birth.

She makes my skin crawl.
posted by Unregistered User at 7:07 AM on July 22, 2006

Is a suicide bombing or rockets dumped randomly on your nation NOT collective punishment?

You seem to be missing the difference between a terrorist group and a national government. Not surprising, I suppose, since both the US and Israeli governments are acting like terrorist groups these days, but still, under normal circumstances it's not expected that a real government will bomb other countries back into the preindustrial age to get back at some maniacs with rocket launchers.

Juan Cole is not a reliable source.

Juan Cole is an extremely well informed and articulate guy who makes those in power and their sycophants extremely uncomfortable by pointing out inconvenient truths. Of course he's not a "reliable source." Just listen to the government spokespersons; they'll tell you all you need to know.
posted by languagehat at 7:10 AM on July 22, 2006

Rockets dumped on Israel by Hezbollah: there is a recognized international understanding that a nation that allows groups within its borders to attack neighbors is culpable and responsible for those attacks. That is a well-founded principle and the Lebanese govt understood this when it stated that they were unable to control Hezbollah. Imagine, then, if some right-wing group in the US kept attacking a neighboring nation and the US ignored it: well, it did but then clamped down on the Cubans attacking Castro's planes and boats.
posted by Postroad at 7:20 AM on July 22, 2006

there is a recognized international understanding that a nation that allows groups within its borders to attack neighbors is culpable and responsible for those attacks.

allowing is not the same as being utterly unable to do something about it

That is a well-founded principle and the Lebanese govt understood this when it stated that they were unable to control Hezbollah.

which, after years of being occupied by syria and israel, with iran sending arms to hizbollah, happens to be the truth ... they were unable to do anything about it because their neighbors crippled their ability to control their own country

for israel to hold lebanon responsible for not controlling hizbollah, when they did everything they could to cripple lebanon's ability to control them, is disingenuous bullshit ... as is their insistence that the lebanese send their troops to the southern part of the country when their soldiers are getting bombed by israeli jets

the international community didn't lift a finger to help lebanon disarm hizbollah ... so they have no right to criticize it for not doing so
posted by pyramid termite at 7:31 AM on July 22, 2006

Postroad, and if Castro started bombing the USA, bridges, tunnels, TV stations, internet servers, and told everyone in Florida to clear off so that Castro can 'clear right wing Cubans' out, this after Castro had done the same things 20 years ago, only to provoke a US civil war and cause the massacre in refugee camps of Cuban-Americans, an 18 year nightmare which was also Cuba's Vietnam—and Cuba were a basically expansionist nation, coveting all the terroritory 'God has given them' (the way hard-right Israelis want modern Israel, Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, and southern lebanon upto the Litani river)—100s of thousands of Americans had gone homeless, being killed as they flee—do you think Rush Limbaugh would stand there sucking his thumb and saying gee, I guess it's justified?

I think Israel is basically an immature nation. They just don't get it. I used to think they were modernized, European-ish, but no, they're basically a martial nation under seige mentality with incredibly amigous morals. "If it didn't work for the last 60 years, maybe it'll work this time!"
posted by Firas at 7:36 AM on July 22, 2006

Unregistered User, your link about the "complicity" of Americans is not only heavily biased, it's ludicrous. It's patterns of thought like that that favor condemnation over actual understanding that America is not a monoculture.
posted by oaf at 7:49 AM on July 22, 2006

Zbig via FT

“The US is in the process of learning in Iraq that it cannot impose solutions in the Middle East by force alone. Nor can Israel,” ­Zbigniew Brzezinksi, the former US sec­retary of state, commented.

The crises in the Middle East were a test of US capacity to exercise “global leadership”, he told a gathering hosted by the New America Foundation think-tank. “If we don’t do well we lose the capacity to lead.” Reflecting a growing unease in the US at the repercussions of what Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, called Israel’s “excessive use of force”, Mr Brzezinksi described the 300 or more civilians killed in air strikes as “hostages”.

“You are killing hostages in the hope of intimidating the people you want to intimidate,” he said in an outspoken critique of Israel and its powerful lobby in Washington. While accepting Israel’s right to defend itself, Mr Brzezinksi called Israel’s response “dogged, heavy-handed, politically counter-productive . . . and morally unjustifiable”.

O' Mr. Chessboard himself. Zbig fails to mention the Cheney cabal within the good ol' US of A that are just as much the accomplices as the Israeli thugs.
posted by Unregistered User at 8:09 AM on July 22, 2006

It's patterns of thought like that that favor condemnation over actual understanding that America is not a monoculture.

Well, your right about one thing, we're not monoculture, we're a monarchy.
posted by Unregistered User at 8:13 AM on July 22, 2006

Considering the expedited bomb delivery thing.... I'm starting to suspect that the actual Israeli goal here is to force the complete collapse of Lebanon, and then to 'reluctantly' reoccupy it to 'save the Lebanese from the terrible Hezbollah'. Lebanon could become a second giant prison camp, just like Palestine.

It sure looks to me like we're teetering on the edge of the abyss here. Wars are easy to start, but they are damnably hard to stop. Israel is making a lot of new enemies, and by proxy, so are we. People who would have stuck with words before are going to pick up guns and bombs now.
posted by Malor at 8:13 AM on July 22, 2006

Postroad writes "there is a recognized international understanding that a nation that allows groups within its borders to attack neighbors is culpable and responsible for those attacks"

Assuming that there really is such an understanding, one could argue that such an agreement logically covers weapon producers and merchants that are not scrupolous enough to sell their weapons only locally ; why should one tolerate a nation that supports the factual production of some weapons , sells these weapons to one's enemy thus helping them ? By this logic further terrorist acts or full scale military attack of US would be completely justified , because regardless of popular support or lack thereof, a lot of israeli weapons and know-how-technology comes from US.

Now if you want to nitpick and only consider relatively innocuous (from a Government point of view) armed militias in some country, you should explain me why should I bomb portions of that country infrastructure ; how does that affect militia ? Isn't that primarly a way to put pressure on people and government ? That's government sponsored terrorism, disguised under the pretext of right of retaliation.

Like some said, kill them all and let God sort them out...this God bullshit is really really pissing me off already.
posted by elpapacito at 8:28 AM on July 22, 2006

From The Lebanese People To The So Called "Civilized" West, Thank-you.
From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered imaginations; reality is therefore abandoned.
~ Emile Durkheim
posted by Unregistered User at 8:36 AM on July 22, 2006

Looks like it's gonna be, "..... chicken hawk squawk and run away?"
posted by wrapper at 8:51 AM on July 22, 2006

To be hinestk, though I beleive that the means of the current war are evil (and the goals unattainable) I'm not inclined to put it down to any grand conspiracy. The explanation put forwards by The Economist makes a lot of sense to me: Hizbollah just happened to capture those troops at a time when Olmert couldn't afford to look weak, and so instead of the usual tit for tat (which has been going on for years without much consequence) there was this huge escalation.

It's not well thought out, there is no long term plan that makes sense, in the long term it will make everything worse rather than better - it's got fuck up and cowardly political arse covering rather than conspiracy written all over it.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on July 22, 2006

"It's not well thought out, there is no long term plan that makes sense,..."

Don't be obtuse, here are the well thought out long term plans: "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for the New Century." (pdf).
posted by Unregistered User at 9:07 AM on July 22, 2006

Someone needs to capture two Israeli soldiers and bring them back to America.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:09 AM on July 22, 2006

pyramid termite, are you saying that, since Lebanon is utterly incapable of doing anything about it, Israel ought to ignore the scores of missiles being lobbed into her borders by Hezbollah? I agree it's a downright horrendous situation, but for me the key question is - WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Quite literally YEARS of rocket attacks. Kidnappings. All under the watchful gaze of an indifferent at best and more likely scornful world community. To my eye, this is the situation that Israel faces.

I am also continually surprised that no one ever directs any blame whatsoever towards the other Arab regimes. Could Egypt and/or Jordan help out - by sending troops to Lebanon to help bolster the Lebanese army, or simply by applying diplomatic pressure? Could the Arab League issue a joint statement condemning Iranian and Syrian support of Hezbollah? Could the oil-rich states offer some financial aid to those Arabs suffering as a result of the attacks? Does any of this happen? No. And who gets blamed? Israel. Please explain.

You know, in the days before 1948, there was a famous incident where Ben Gurion shelled a boat docked off of Tel Aviv where Begin and other Israelis were plotting actions that, in Ben Gurion's mind, would destabilize his efforts towards founding a state. That's right - one group of Israelis looked beyond blind allegiance towards the bigger picture, one group held another group responsible, even by violent means. And lo and behold, Ben Gurion was right, and the goal was accomplished - the state of Israel was established. Now is it too much to ask the Arab states to NOT simply fall in line and blindly support every action that every other Arab does, while condemning the vile Zionist menace? What if an Arab state said - "you know what? The UN recognized the state of Israel in 1948 by a majority vote by the General Assembly - we were wrong to ignore it then, we will start recognizing the state of Israel, and in so normalizing relations we will hope to be able to come to some mutually agreeable circumstances regarding more explosive issues - ie captured land, refugees, etc."

Instead, we get Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. What should Israel do?
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:23 AM on July 22, 2006

What should Israel do?

Make things worse?
posted by Artw at 9:30 AM on July 22, 2006

artw - thanks for the thoughtful response. Now I see why dialogue in and about the middle east is so rewarding.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:36 AM on July 22, 2006

Hmm...after this week, I think I understand why we have a no I/P thread policy on the blue.
posted by graventy at 9:39 AM on July 22, 2006

I agree it's a downright horrendous situation, but for me the key question is - WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Quite literally YEARS of rocket attacks. Kidnappings. All under the watchful gaze of an indifferent at best and more likely scornful world community. To my eye, this is the situation that Israel faces.

fingers_of_fire, are you saying that the destruction of Lebanon is going to stop the kidnapping? The rocket attacks? Do you really believe this?

There's something strange about your thinking. You seem to be saying that since Israel has no obvious solution, it's alright for it to commit itself to the totally wrong solution. Is this any different than your age-old 'eye for an eye' thinking?

And if you examine the details of this particular incident and the facts on the ground it becomes clear just how dishonest such thinking is. This isn't the first time Israeli soldiers have been kidnapped. This isn't the first time Arab extremists have provoked Israel to stop negotiations. This isn't the first time rockets have been fired into Israel. But this is the first time, in 20 years at least, that Israel has decided to destroy another sovereign country in response.

So... what changed?

Could it be that Israel has decided to simply take advantage of the current situation (total breakdown in Iraq, grandoise rhetoric around the WoT, growing sentiment against Iran) to simply unleash as much force against its enemies regardless of how many civillians it kills? Coould that be what changed?

I think this is clear to everybody. It' why people like you are asking 'What should Israel do?'. This framing of the question deliberately casts Israel as the victim and the only possible source of agency in the agency. Others are asking simply 'What should be done?', a question which simply wants to see an end to the killing.

Of course the grand logic behind this is the War on Terror. Nobody can repudiate Israel and still support the latest of the 'war to end all wars'. Americans would rather stand by and let a sovereign nation be destroyed than question their own actions and ideas. Who said advertising doesn't work, eh?
posted by nixerman at 9:41 AM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

nixerman - Israel is not out to destroy a sovereign nation - she is out to disarm Hezbollah. It is, of course, absolutely, tragically true that in so doing, Lebanon will suffer massive damage. There are many ways to prevent this, but Israel allowing herself to be continually bombed by Hezbollah is NOT acceptable. The world community has had SIX years since the Israeli withdrawal from the southern part of Lebanon to get Hezbollah in check, and NOTHING has happened. As you say, these aren't the first kidnappings, these aren't the first Hezbollah-fired rockets. Your post seems to suggest that Israel ought to just accept this. I say, Israel HAS accepted this for FAR too long, and it's perfectly reasonable for her to respond.

Again I ask, where is the rest of the Arab community in this? Why aren't other Arab countries speaking out against Hezbollah - or helping the Lebanese army? There are plenty of other more peaceful solutions, but they have been ignored by an indifferent world community.

(not looking to avoid a debate, but I have to sign off. Sorry. Thanks for the thoughtful response.)
posted by fingers_of_fire at 9:50 AM on July 22, 2006


i would suppress the rocket fire by hunting out the sites, equipment, and personnel engaged in firing them ... yes, it would be a cat and mouse game ... yes, it would be a long and frustrating process

bombing beruit does not suppress the rocket fire
bombing the airport does not suppress the rocket fire
bombing residential neighborhoods, especially in the north of lebanon, does not suppress the rocket fire

You know, in the days before 1948, there was a famous incident where Ben Gurion shelled a boat docked off of Tel Aviv where Begin and other Israelis were plotting actions that, in Ben Gurion's mind, would destabilize his efforts towards founding a state.

i have a prediction - it's only a matter of time before the israelis turn upon each other ... it's already come close in the forcible evacuations of the settlements

your historical anecdote illustrates that ultimately, those who use extreme violence as a solution turn it upon each other ... eventually "the only western democracy in the middle east" will turn to dictatorship to solve its internal problems ... it's inevitable that people who are so prone to an "exterminate my enemies" approach will use it on their political and social enemies ... which is another unintented consequence of what's going on now

there are others ... the lebanese, many of whom could be fairly described as unwilling to support violence against israel have now changed their minds about that ...

your suggestion that the arab countries should have helped lebanon clear hizbollah out is absurd ... just how would israel react if the egyptian or saudi arabian army was next to its border with lebanon? ... (and remember that no one seemed to care for the syrian army being there)

actually, several arab countries have condemned hizbollah for starting this mess, as well they should ... however, what the governments say and what the citizens think are two different things ... and for the arab countries to intervene not only risks israeli misunderstanding of their motives, but insurrection against their governments ... the fall of arab governments may well be another unintented consequence of israel's actions

in short, the israelis are being blinded by tactical matters and totally ignoring strategic concerns ... no matter what happens with hizbollah, they have already suffered defeat politically and diplomatically at a time when they could ill afford to do so

their overreaction was a gross blunder and i'm afraid they will regret it in years to come
posted by pyramid termite at 9:55 AM on July 22, 2006

Any guesses as to why the US Government has totally given up on diplomacy?
posted by jaronson

It's Our War
Bush should go to Jerusalem--and the U.S. should confront Iran.
by William Kristol
07/24/2006, Volume 011, Issue 42

posted by taosbat at 10:04 AM on July 22, 2006

Can force fell Hizbullah?
posted by taosbat at 10:21 AM on July 22, 2006

If Israel wants to control Hezbollah and "give Lebanon back to the Lebanese", why are they blowing up Lebanese Army positions and barracks?

One possible reason-- in this part of the Middle East, Water is far more valuable then Oil.
posted by cell divide at 10:24 AM on July 22, 2006

I don't know about the rest of you, but when people start calling Israel "she" I immediately discount almost everything else they have to say.
posted by cell divide at 10:25 AM on July 22, 2006

From the Independent:

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets over southern Lebanon yesterday warning civilians to leave border villages for areas north of the Litani river, about 13 miles from the frontier. The area south of the river is normally inhabited by around 300,000 people.

Hmm, so they claim to want a 1 mile security zone, and yet want 300,000 people to move 13 miles away from the border, north of a major water source that Israel has been hungry for.
The history of Israel and its plans to capture the Litani water one way or another have been in the works for years:

In paper from 1997:

After the 1967 war, Moshe Dayan, defense minister, asserted Israel acheived "provisionally satisfying frontiers, with the exception of those with Lebanon."(21)

Israel hoped that it would have use of the Litani by the mid 1980s, when it projected that it would have fully used up the waters captured in the 1967 war. Israel hoped to meet this goal by securing the Litani in 1978. Israel had even included the Litani in calculations of their water resources.(22)

In fact, Israel's need for water makes it conceivable that it may already be using the Litani. It is not recent that Israel has been suspected of planning to divert the waters of the Litani for its own use. Near 1994, this developed into a large number of direct accusations that Israel was using the Litani.(23)

a. Israel and the Litani
Captured water is the most important part of Israel's total water supply. The four most important sources of Israel's water at the time of this writing were: "ground water; the Jordan watershed; lesser surface waters; and recycled water and water from desalinization plants," for a total of just less than 2,000 MCM per year.(24)

Israel's significant sources of water are currently exploited, and the only other source is the Litani, which, in order for Israel to use it, would have to be in Israel's possession, which could possibly happen through seizure. The only other source of additional water would be recycled water.(25)


Hizbollah represented a problem, sure, but is everything Israel doing really worth just degrading Hizbollah? Why is so much of Lebanon's civilian and military infrastructure being destroyed if there is not a larger goal afoot?
posted by cell divide at 10:35 AM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

fingers of fire, have you no sense of proportion? When did Hezbollah turn 500,000 Israelis into refugees? Do you have any idea how many countries on the planet are troubled by raids and attacks by 'independent' groups residing on their borders with another country? Do you think all of them should just decide to mince the other country to pieces? We'd wake up to Armageddon tomorrow.
posted by Firas at 10:46 AM on July 22, 2006

Britain criticises Israeli tactics .

...but probably only slightly. I very much doubt that the day Blair openly criticizes a Bush backed war has come.
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on July 22, 2006

fingers_of_fire: do you support Sudan's genocide against the villagers of Darfur? Groups who mill among them have been troublesome, you know.
posted by Firas at 10:47 AM on July 22, 2006

Jeff Wells has some weird interesting links on his blog today, It's the water and alot more.
posted by hortense at 10:50 AM on July 22, 2006

I don't know about the rest of you, but when people start calling Israel "she" I immediately discount almost everything else they have to say.

You are so spot-the-hell on, cell divide. The framing is all horrible... 'Israel has to be able to defend herself', as if that's the question rather HOW Israel should be defending itself... 'World War III'... and the whole Israel is a She/Her, but Lebanon isn't.

Of course as the US rep to the UN has pointed out, your Lebanese citizen isn't worth as much as an Israeli, so I guess it makes sense that their country is neuter, while Israel is a soft, bride-like female to be protected at all costs. AT ALL COSTS.

To those asking what should be done by Israel instead of the current clusterfuck, I say do something that goes after Hezbollah, not something that RADICALIZES THE WHOLE FUCKING LEBANESE POPULATION TO HATE ISRAEL'S GUTS. Frankly, there should be a serious multinational force (accent on serious) injected into southern Lebanon, because the Lebanese government does not have the capability to put down Hezbollah on their own no matter what agreements they might make. Expecting them to do that is dim thinking in the extreme. Lebanon's democracy can no more weather an intense civil war than it can the current Israeli invasion. Moreover, anybody who says that what Israel is doing is self-protection is a crack smoker, or just dishonest.

The majority of Lebanese have been turning more an dmore on Hezbollah. To the point that down the line, with judicious spurring from the rest of the world with carrot and stick approaches, it was believable that Hezbollah would lose most of their in country support now that Syria was extracted. That's no longer the case. Interview after interview with Lebanese across the country shows renewed solidarity in the face of Israel's attacks, with Israel as the target of hatred.

What should Israel do? Something that fucking contributes to their own safety as a nation, not something that enlarges their danger. Of course if the US can't operate that way in the middle east why should Israel?
posted by the_savage_mind at 10:56 AM on July 22, 2006

delmoi: If you want to feel really shitty though, keep in mind that twice as many Iraqis died today then the in the entire Israeli/Lebanese rocket-fight.

The difference is all the Lebanese casualties were killed by the IDF while most Iraqis who died were killed in terrorist attacks committed by various insurgent groups.

I don't see why our country has such a boner for Israel to begin with. Most of our current problems are caused by our disproportionate support for Israel, even as they continue to committ attrocities.
posted by b_thinky at 11:22 AM on July 22, 2006

reality is not a reliable source
posted by matteo at 11:44 AM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Saturday slammed Syrian and Iranian support for Hezbollah and underscored U.S. support for the Israeli reaction to the provocations by the Shiite guerrillas in Lebanon.


"I believe sovereign nations have the right to defend their people from terrorist attack, and to take the necessary action to prevent those attacks," Bush said, also emphasizing that "we have called on Israel to continue to exercise the greatest possible care to protect innocent lives."
posted by taosbat at 11:48 AM on July 22, 2006

I don't know about the rest of you, but when people start calling Israel "she" I immediately discount almost everything else they have to say.

What about people who call Lebanon a "she"? I've read that a couple times lately. It's common (but weird, IMO) to give nations female names, like ships. That said, it does seem to come up more often when discussing Israel.
posted by delmoi at 11:57 AM on July 22, 2006

My name is Jake, and I've been a Lebaholic for 9 years.

She is delicious.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:08 PM on July 22, 2006

I guess it makes sense that their country is neuter, while Israel is a soft, bride-like female to be protected at all costs. AT ALL COSTS.

Isn't there something in the Kabbalah about Israel being a bride?
posted by oaf at 12:15 PM on July 22, 2006

fingers_of_fire, if Egypt or KSA tried to send a plane- or boat-load of troops to Lebanon to bolster its military, Israel would happily blow it up in a heart-beat and cite "national security interests."

That said, I hope people are waking up to the fact that Israel is basically a rogue nation run by imbeciles. Yes, Hezbollah rockets are a horrible thing. But morally, what the Israeli military is doing is unconscionable. Strategically? Fucking stupid in both the short- and long-terms.

It's a lose-lose for Israelis and Lebanese alike. Winners include Hezbollah (what, you think they didn't want Israel to invade and have another quagmire ca. 1982?) and, of course, Iran, the new regional hegemon. Really, it's amazing--without spending a dollar, without losing the life of a single soldier, US and Israeli military aggression/foreign policy has ensured that they'll be the dominant force in the region for the 21st century, with Russian and Chinese backing.

I can't find that part in Sun-Tzu where he says in order to defeat your enemy you should give them exactly what they want served up on a silver freakin' platter, simultaneously squandering any international sympathy you might have once had and emptying out your national treasury.

Idiocy. Complete idiocy all around.
posted by bardic at 12:20 PM on July 22, 2006

What Israel is trying to accomplish now in Lebanon, is to get from Lebanon (and eventually Syria, too), what it already enjoys from Jordan and Egypt, that being, effectively, a demilitarized zone created in the territory of the neighbor country, and secondarily, peace treaties, with the formal recognition that implies. The Israeli rationale for this is, as it has been since 1948, that Israel is such a small country, that modern weapons in the hands of adversaries immediately threaten Israeli lives, since there is no possible defense. The recent rocket attacks against Haifa underscore this widely held view in Israeli minds; it's a view that is pervasive in Israeli society, and doctrine in the IDF.

Yet the Israeli demand for security runs straight into self-determination for Lebanon. If Israel demands security, so does Lebanon, and in the absence of any other guarantee mechanism, how is either side to trust the other, enough to cease mutual threat? Here's where the future divides, according to the visions of the 2 sides.

In the Israeli view, Lebanon will eventually offer a reasonable demilitarized area adjacent to Israel, or Israel will create it in Lebanon, by force. For Israel the demand is both non-negotiable, and its guarantee will only be by means of the IDF's ability to weild force in Lebanon, and deter retaliation.

In the Lebanese/Hezbollah view (if there can be said to be such a united front for purposes of simplifying the arguments), the mutual need for security of both Israel and Lebanon is best met through negotiation between the parties, on a equal basis, and should have pan-Arab participation for its guarantee. This runs completely counter to Israeli strategy since the 1967 war, which, through every Israeli government since, has been "Divide Arabs, and come to terms, state by state."

From the Israeli point of view, except for Lebanon, the strategy since 1967 has been largely successful; they occupy more territory than they did in 1967, they have achieved substantive peace and security (with ups and downs in the interim) with both Jordan and Egypt, and finally have the Palestinians effectively controlled in Gaza and the West Bank, and Syria is presently internally occupied, and is not a direct threat. Israelis see no reason to change, and Israeli public opinion continues to be inflamed in support of military action by Arab military attacks.

From the Arab point of view, Israel does not negotiate except from a position of strength, maintained by unfair military advantage, and a program of repression and human rights violations, for which Israel pays no international penalty, and respects no higher authority. The only Arab tactics that have ever seemed to affect Israeli public opinion, outside the capitulation to Israeli interests of Jordan and Egypt, has been terrorism.

Unless something changes in these patterns, Israel will be in conflict with its neighbors forever. What has to change is Israeli insistence on maintaining military superiority in the region, while the world looks on. An Israel finally made to compromise equally with its neighbors, in exchange for international security guarantees, would be an Israel that no neighbor would need fear. What is required for this to be achieved, is a willingness on the part of the U.S. to stop asymmetric support of Israel, and an insistence that Israel submit to international mediation in a revitalized peace process, while it significantly disarms.

The time is past when it is any one's interest to maintain that Israel or any of its neighbors has an inherent right of self-defense, since the map and the ground of the region make this militarily impossible to accomplish, without either Israel or its neighbors unilaterally offering defacto demilitarized zones to support an uneasy stalemate. No situation of stability and equality can come from the insistence of one party to a conflict of its right to enforce conditions on the other. Israel can not have an unfettered right to self defense extending to defacto control of its neighbor's territory, and still have peace with security.

It is time to move out of the trenches in this region, as it was nearly 100 years ago in Europe. It is time for the peoples of the Middle East to recognize, as has Europe finally, that their differences are as much opportunity, as difficulty. It is time for Israeli disarmament, and responsive Arab statesmanship.

Or else, it is, and will continue to be, time for still more graves.
posted by paulsc at 12:20 PM on July 22, 2006 [5 favorites]

Maybe I am a collossal fuckwit, but I think that a nation state at war with a terrorist group fails when it decides to apply military force in such a sweeping fashion. Cruel as it may sound, it would be better for Israel to absorb the casualties from terrorist attacks and instead of out-and-out blowing the shit out of unrelated people/buildings use guile and any goodwill empathy to infiltrate these groups and destroy them from within.

It sounds awfully simplistic and it means rejecting the victim culture that gives Israel it's mandate to attack others in defence but as long as Israeli bombs and artillery destroys the homes, businesses and lives of innocent people they will continue to justify the actions in the minds of terrorists.

Meh, it probably wouldn't work to everyone's satisfaction. That's the problem with I/P threads; there is never going to be an answer that will satisfy. As long as that's the case there will always be someone willing to pull the trigger to get their own way.
posted by longbaugh at 12:24 PM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Steven C. Den Beste is not a reliable source.
posted by stenseng at 12:36 PM on July 22, 2006

That's the problem with I/P threads; there is never going to be an answer that will satisfy.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:39 PM on July 22, 2006

That's BS, game. People made this problem, people can sort it out.
posted by Malor at 12:53 PM on July 22, 2006

George Will vs Bill Kristol.
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on July 22, 2006

What will happen next? An interview with Martin Kramer*.

"Ending the crisis is obviously not an end in itself. The objective has to be to reduce Hezbollah to a negligible factor in larger calculations, to degrade and deplete its capabilities, to the point where it's about as significant a constraint as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or Jordan. It will take some time to reverse the years of neglect, and Hezbollah will not allow the halo around it to be smashed without fighting back. But Israel has a U.S. license to take its time now and get it right, and it would be foolish not to use it.

"In any event, Israel has no choice. Islamism has come to fill the space that used to be occupied by Arab nationalism in Nasser's time: an ideology of rejection, resistance and false promise of a Middle East without Israel. Israel's withdrawals from Lebanon and Gaza, whatever their merits, have only fed this Islamism with lore of sacrifice and victory. The Islamists have a narrative, and they think the world conforms to it. The narrative is based on a very partial reading of reality. It has to be defeated, just as Nasser's narrative had to be defeated. It took the 1967 war to demolish the Arab nationalist/Nasserist narrative. Israel has no choice but to deliver a blow sufficient to destroy the Islamist narrative, in which Hezbollah looms large."

*I am staying out of the Juan Cole fight, but, yes, that Martin Kramer
posted by blahblahblah at 2:08 PM on July 22, 2006

paulsc writes "It is time to move out of the trenches in this region"

Indeed, but not from the actual trenches, but from the mental ones. Part of the problem is having masses realize they are both being led by extremists in both sides (I guess extreme right in israel, hezbollah et similia elsewhere) and that they are the ones who are paying the heaviest toll both in deaths and in destroyed lives.

Have the hawks of both sides either preach peace or go to front lines.
posted by elpapacito at 2:35 PM on July 22, 2006

Israel has no choice... Israel has no choice...other bastards who force it on us.
posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on July 22, 2006

Israel has no choice... Israel has no choice...

Uh huh. That's what Japan said about Pearl Harbor, and... but we won't go there. Let's just say nobody ever feels they "have a choice" about brutal, inhuman behavior. It's always those other bastards who force it on us.

How the hell did that happen?
posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Kramer's analysis seems weak to me. Buffer zones are all well and good when dealing with neighbors or nearby countries like Syria, but doesn't serve much of a purpose dealing with Iran and Iran's soon-to-be established puppet Shia state, Iraq.
posted by bardic at 3:02 PM on July 22, 2006

Check here regarding Israeli "purity of arms" and "self-defense". Or just for a reality check.

posted by lathrop at 3:12 PM on July 22, 2006

Sorry, make that http://rsl-images.blogspot.com/
posted by lathrop at 3:14 PM on July 22, 2006

Uh, very graphic images on lathrop's link above.
posted by jaronson at 3:21 PM on July 22, 2006

"Part of the problem is having masses realize they are both being led by extremists in both sides"
"["We have no choice"] That's what Japan said about Pearl Harbor"

*Thinks a bit... jumps back on his liberal jigsaw podium*

I think this really goes back to the foundations of political ideologies: assumptions about human natures. And this is all the fruit of the conservative worldview—the old-school conservative, that of Machiavelli and Hobbes—that assumes the world is an evil place, force is the only reality—the stuff that the fascists took to a whole new level when they mixed it with Nietzsche and Darwin. This worldview really leaves no place for moral ambiguity, and admits a self-perception of naught but virtue when in comparison with The Other. Hamas, Likud, etc. etc. are all just embodiments of such ideas. (One may well ask where the leftist militarism of the communists fits into this. I'd say that the question is born of conflating 'left' with 'liberal'; totalitarianism is illiberal, even when it flows from an ideology based on equality maximization.)

In this worldview, people really can't see a bit of evil in themselves. The reason Hitler is seperate from them isn't that they haven't let their thoughts run the way Hilter's did; the reason Hitler is seperate from them is that Hitler was evil and they're not. Humanity can be split like a cookie into evil and not-evil camps, and the millions of lives that fall away like crumbs are just, you know, 'regrettable'. They really don't get that a dead child is a dead child, whether killed by a terrorist or a soldier.

This is an essentially retarded worldview, and it's what liberals worldwide have to fight against: against these people who think that the only solution to crime is longer and harsher jail terms, the only solution to hostile societies is their military defeat, etc. Liberal opposition to these things is often framed in terms of morality and ethics, but pragmatically speaking, 'if it doesn't bow to your will, beat it until it does' rarely gets the sought-after results on a societal level.

For example, when they march into Iraq to rescue the Kurds and Shias from the Sunnis, they suddenly discover that Kurdish Guerillas are to Turks what Al Qaeda was to USA, that Shias can spill just as much blood as Sunnis, they discover that all these guys have a potential to spin around and terrorize someone else, and suddenly the world becomes way too complex to survive the black-and-white us-vs-them paradigm.

On this spectrum, Israel is still on a pre-Machiavelli kick: "salt their fields!" They don't really give a fuck about the 'enemy populations'. Unlike the USA deciding that the thing to do after destroying Japan, Germany etc. is to make them countries that can stand on their own feet (while admittedly pulling a few strings to make sure the old guard and the far left stays out of power), Israel's attitude is "massacres? collapses? who cares. as long as we're safe." This is really old school. When will they get over it?
posted by Firas at 3:24 PM on July 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Digby on Maureen Dowd's latest column about Israel's aggression against Lebanon.

Dowd: "The cowboy president bet the ranch on Iraq, and that war has made almost any other American action in the Arab world, and any Pax Americana that might have been created there, impossible. It’s fitting that Condi is the Flying Dutchman, since Lebanon represents the shipwreck of our Middle East policy."
posted by bardic at 3:32 PM on July 22, 2006

"When will they get over it?"

When one or the other or both are annhilated.
posted by mischief at 5:37 PM on July 22, 2006

Gee, what a realistic, hard-nosed assessment.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:40 PM on July 22, 2006

Then we can watch the hindu-muslim feud escalate.
posted by mischief at 5:49 PM on July 22, 2006

No one can accuse Alan Dershowitz of not giving his mouth a rest. Apparently, the word 'civilian' isn't appropriate enough when describing Lebanese... uh... civilians. So instead, we need a continuum of civilianity in order to bomb them into oblivion without feeling any moral qualms. According to Dershowitz, anyone who who's able-bodied who won't leave southern Lebanon is, by his definition, to the non-civilian side of the continuum and deserves what's coming to them. As the Washington Monthly commentary points out, wouldn't it be nice if that kind of nuanced analysis was applied to the word 'terrorist'?
posted by the_savage_mind at 5:53 PM on July 22, 2006

Does anybody else see this as a pretext for Israel's attack on Iran?
posted by rougy at 5:53 PM on July 22, 2006

Iran? Sure, let's drag the zoroastrians into this; they have their own score to settle with the muslims.
posted by mischief at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2006

They really don't get that a dead child is a dead child, whether killed by a terrorist or a soldier.
posted by Firas

They do: "Nits make lice."
posted by taosbat at 6:37 PM on July 22, 2006

"We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare."

Dershowitz and the freepers should just be honest and refer to them as "untermenschen."
posted by homunculus at 8:40 PM on July 22, 2006

pictures of some of the dead and the damage being done WARNING: VERY VERY GRAPHIC (and the bombing of Beirut looks like the 9/11 damage here)
posted by amberglow at 8:54 PM on July 22, 2006

What did happen to Den Beste in this segment, anyway? I want everybody to make note that he pussied out...

Dershowitz's argument applies only to adults. Unfortunately, those kids geting their heads blown off - "unavoidable circumstances."
posted by kgasmart at 10:47 PM on July 22, 2006

... “I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do,” she said.

Keep more civilians from being killed? Or at least keep America from being even more despised in the Middle East and around the globe?

Jesus. They don't even know how to fake it anymore. Isn't it at least smart to pretend you care about the dying children? ...

posted by amberglow at 11:13 PM on July 22, 2006

American Jews' Call for Immediate Ceasefire in Lebanon--Dear President Bush:

As American Jews, we are horrified by your apparent support for the bombing and destruction of Lebanon, and your opposition to international demands for an immediate ceasefire. ...

posted by amberglow at 11:40 PM on July 22, 2006

Morally, what Israel is doing is wrong.

Strategically, what Israel is doing is wrong.

Can some idiotic thinktank send me a check for this comment?

posted by bardic at 2:11 AM on July 23, 2006

"What did happen to Den Beste in this segment, anyway? I want everybody to make note that he pussied out..."

Some people have lives away from MeFi. You really should read everyone's most recent comment as their last word on the issue.
posted by mischief at 6:09 AM on July 23, 2006

Den Beste appears to be a sock-puppet, whose only purpose in these threads is to establish certain talking points, and to thereby frame the debate for or against - there is no need for any follow up as long as the "yes it is - no it isn't" dynamic dominates the conversation.

But we need to move beyond this dynamic if any progress is to be made. We stand at a watershed of history - it's clear that certain elements withing the US administration have been itching to start a war with Iran for years, and the current crisis seems engineered to "bring it on". The terror and chaos we've experienced will seem quaint in comparison to the living hell which we face once the nukes go off. "A war which will not end in our lifetimes" is not a prediction, it's a promise.
posted by dinsdale at 6:55 AM on July 23, 2006

Juan Cole: War on Lebanon Planned for at least a Year
Matthew Kalman reveals that Israel's wideranging assault on Lebanon has been planned in a general way for years, and a specific plan has been in the works for over a year. The "Three Week War" was shown to Washington think tanks and officials last year on powerpoint by a senior Israeli army officer:

"More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail."

posted by madamjujujive at 8:13 AM on July 23, 2006

madamjujujive, living where Israel does, is it really surprising to you that they have war plans prepared for a variety of scenarios? For that matter, don't you think that any responsible army has to think about a variety of different contingencies? 'Cuz you know what happens when armies are caught with their pants down?

9/11, for starters
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:23 AM on July 23, 2006

Den Beste appears to be a sock-puppet, whose only purpose in these threads is to establish certain talking points, and to thereby frame the debate for or against - there is no need for any follow up as long as the "yes it is - no it isn't" dynamic dominates the conversation.

I have no response to the part about his motivations, but I don't think a credible argument can be made that the account is a mask. The man has been around a long time, and has appeared in print in addition to running his own forum once upon a time.
posted by thirteen at 8:55 AM on July 23, 2006

Man and account are two different things. I certainly think the "voice" of the Den Beste account has changed and have a sneaky suspicion it may have been handed over to someone else.

probably in exchange for some high-res shots of a 1960s aircraft carrier
posted by fullerine at 9:16 AM on July 23, 2006

No, fingers_of_fire, I simply note it with interest, a piece of the puzzle. I would expect that Israel would have contingency defensive plans and don't find it surprising in the least. But what I find somewhat more interesting - although also not surprising - is that these plans were seemingly coordinated with the US so far in advance, and would explain our total lack of urgency. The response to the kidnappings being so highly disproportionate to the initial acts, it would seem that perhaps they - and we - were just looking for an opportunity to put these plans in place. In the Juan Cole thread, one commenter noted that, "Netanyahu, in a recent radio interview, spoke of the Israeli attack as part of a "division of labor". i.e. the Israelis take on the little guys in Hezbollah while the Americans take on the Iranians. The Americans have been colluding in this."

I hope I will be wrong, but as others have noted, this feels like the preliminary phases of a war with Iran, which, imo, many of the neocons believe would help deliver the fall elections. Just as in the buildup to the war wit Iraq, you can see our fearless leaders testing out which of several pretexts will resonate with the public.

Our administration knows that we the public are like the people answering the door in the old SNL landshark skits: Candygram. Campfire Girls. They just have to find the right pitch, and we'll open the door.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:29 AM on July 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I hope I will be wrong, but as others have noted, this feels like the preliminary phases of a war with Iran, which, imo, many of the neocons believe would help deliver the fall elections. Just as in the buildup to the war wit Iraq, you can see our fearless leaders testing out which of several pretexts will resonate with the public.

There is nothing like a new war in the Mideast to take our minds off the old one and create a climate of crisis to avoid change in a midterm election. President Bush and his Republican allies in Congress do have something to gain by the sudden shift of world media attention to Israel and Lebanon.

posted by amberglow at 11:24 AM on July 23, 2006

... We should not confuse Hezbollah with Al Qaeda. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international network. Unlike Al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a real and substantial international political and financial network. They have personnel and supporters scattered in countries around the world who have the training and resources to mount attacks. Hezbollah has no qualms about using terrorist attacks as part of a broader strategy to achieve its objectives. The last major Hezbollah attack against the United States was the June 1996 attack on the U.S. military apartment complex in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Hezbollah also organized the attacks on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina in 1992 and Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. But they also have exercised restraint when they felt they could achieve their objectives through political means. The ten year hiatus in major mass casualty attacks could come to a shattering end in the coming months, and American citizens are likely to pay some of that price with their own blood."
posted by amberglow at 11:48 AM on July 23, 2006

Israel's doing telemarketing to the Lebanese? At first, Bushra Khayyat tried to ignore the incessant ringing of the phone at her house in Lebanon's southern port city of Sidon. It was 4 a.m., but she finally got out of bed.
"I said hello and got a recorded message from Israel," she told Reuters.
In clear Arabic, the strong voice on the phone said: "Oh Lebanese people, we tell you not to follow Hizbollah. We will continue to strike and no one will bring your prisoners back from Israel except the Lebanese government."
Other residents of the south have received similar calls.
"My grandmother got two calls at 5 and 6 in the morning saying the Israeli state would not stop the attacks and asking everyone to leave the area south of the Litani," said one woman who is stranded in Sidon. "She slammed the phone down." ...

posted by amberglow at 1:28 PM on July 23, 2006

Compared to any other Arab country, Lebanon was the closest thing to paradise. Yes, Hezbollah's mighty presence was obvious as I drove around Baalbek, in the east, and from Tyre to the border with Israel in the south, where the Shiite population is concentrated. The yellow Hezbollah banners, pictures of Hasan Nasrallah's bearded face or of the late Ayatollah Khomeini indicated whose bastion I was in. And I heard Walid Jumblatt, one of the leaders responsible for forcing Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon and a pillar of the parliamentary majority, express frustration with Hezbollah's influence in the nation's politics.

But Lebanon was obviously making progress. Its legendary entrepreneurial drive was back. Even with an economy not fully recovered from a civil war that reduced the country's GDP by half, one sensed a spirit of optimism. People were planning all sorts of personal projects—an unmistakable sign of civil society, whether it be opening new bars on Beirut's Monot Street or, as Nada, an assistant working at a cultural institute, had just done, persuading a publisher to start an imprint devoted to translations of Spain's modern literature.

All of this progress has now been reduced to rubble. The infrastructure that took billions of dollars to rebuild is being pulverized. The institutions that managed to hold the internal peace are being blown away. The confident embrace of the outside world is dissipating. An atmosphere is now emerging in which civil society will shrink and extremists will thrive, as happened between 1975 and 1990. The country will now be hostage to the ideological and personal designs of power-hungry leaders.
The Lebanon Blitz
...This is unequivocally a war of choice. The IDF absorbed two painful blows, which were particularly humiliating, and in their wake went into a war that is all about restoring its lost dignity, which on our side is called "restoring deterrent capabilities." Neither in Lebanon nor certainly in Gaza, can anyone formulate the real goals of the war, so nobody knows for sure what will be considered victory or an achievement. Are we at war in Lebanon? With Hezbollah? Nobody knows for sure. If the goal is to remove Hezbollah from the border, did we try hard enough over the last two years through diplomatic channels? And what's the connection between destroying half of Lebanon and that goal? Everyone agrees that "something must be done." Everyone agrees that a sovereign state cannot remain silent when it is attacked within its own borders, though in Israel's eyes Lebanese sovereignty was always subject to trampling, but why should that non-silence be expressed solely by an immediate and all-out blow?

In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centers.

The painful steps taken in Gaza, which included dropping a one-ton bomb on a residential building, or killing an entire family of seven children under cover of darkness in Lebanon, killing dozens of residents, bombing an airport, cutting off electricity and water to hundreds of thousands of people for months were a response lacking any justification, legitimacy or proportion. What goal did it serve? Was the soldier released? Did the Qassams stop? Was deterrence restored? None of that happened. Only lost honor was supposedly restored, and immediately the next evil wind showed up, this time from the north.
Operation Peace for the IDF
The greatest 'surprise' Hizballah's might still have up its sleeve would be to survive the present crisis, bloody but unbowed. The longer Hizballah holds out, the greater Israel's problems with the international community, and the greater the pressure of Arab opinion on those Arab regimes that have so far stood shiftily on the sidelines.

Israel has always relied on brute force to ensure its security. Since its creation in 1948, it has sought to dominate the region by military means. This doctrine rests on the belief that the Arabs will never be strong enough, or capable enough, to challenge it. This is a fundamentally racist attitude.

But beneath the bluster and the muscle-flexing lies a deep-seated paranoia and insecurity, reflected in the conviction, shared by many of Israel's citizens, that the Arabs want to kill them and that they face a permanent existential threat. The choice, they seem to believe, is between killing or being killed. This dark view of their environment - something of a self-fulfilling prophecy -- goes some way to explaining the extravagantly disproportionate nature of Israel's attacks and its blatant disregard for international legality and any semblance of morality.
Why Is Israel Destroying Lebanon ?
posted by y2karl at 1:40 PM on July 23, 2006

on Condi's "What we're seeing here ... are the birth pangs of a new Middle East and whatever we do, we have to be certain that we are pushing forward to the new Middle East, not going back to the old one." -- ... it's actually Rapture talk, if you can believe that.

I checked it out and over at the Rapture Forum they've been talking about the "birth pangs" of Armageddon ever since 9/11.

The only explanations for employing such language at a time like this are that the Secretary of State of the United States is a flipped out fundamentalist herself --- or Karl Rove is deeply involved in the diplomatic language Rice is employing in order to stimulate their base. I lean toward the second (Karl's legacy depends upon his holding the congress this fall) but I wouldn't rule out the first.
Either way, it's unbelievably inappropriate for the top diplomat of the US to be using coded Christian fundamentalist language to discuss this, of all topics. What is wrong with these people? ...

posted by amberglow at 7:03 PM on July 23, 2006

CNN just said Israel's using Phosphorus bombs just like we do
posted by amberglow at 11:39 AM on July 24, 2006

I think Israel is basically an immature nation. They just don't get it. I used to think they were modernized, European-ish, but no, they're basically a martial nation under seige mentality with incredibly amigous morals. "If it didn't work for the last 60 years, maybe it'll work this time!"

I think the USA is basically a third-world nation. You'd think they're a modernized democracy, but they're basically a corporatocracy under seige mentality with incredibly ambiguous morals.

Seriously, where is the evidence of the USA being a thriving, functional democracy that is "doing the right things"? Your last election was shady even by third-world standards, your government seems far more interested in whoring your public resources to corporations instead of taking good care of its working class, and your actions on the global stage are more akin to the days of colonial expansion, not the goals of cooperation as practiced by the older nations.

This rant is apropos of nothing.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:34 PM on July 24, 2006

five fresh fish, although I'm not American, I do think the Americans are less paranoid than Israelis—the Republican school of foreign policy thinking is very different from the Democratic one. (Compare Bill Clinton's eight years to Bush's six—completely different ways of doing things, you can write volumes about the differences between the foreign policy of the two administrations. I do think that, with Albright, the USA had definitely turned from Kissinger school of foreign policy. Of course part of the reason it had the liberty to do this was that the USSR was no longer a threat.)

Ironically, most 'third-world nations' (remember the term's genesis is to describe countries that were neither pro-USA nor pro-Soviet) are far more socialistic in their internal leanings and less paranoid about the world in their foreign policy than the USA. I do think the whole "I'll sit back on my couch and paint such and such countries as just inherently evil and wonder how to knock them out" is a distorted attitude born of overwhelming military and economic capability. It's also a pity that no matter how powerful you are militarily you can't just 'knock 'em out' and watch a peaceful liberal republic just spring out of the ground. A lesson too few Americans have learned.

In sum, although there are really lots of layers to the political onion in any country, I do think that America at least pays lip service to liberalism in foreign policy… hell, that was its whole strategic stance to 'contain' the USSR, that it'll promote and support international institutions etc. And you know what? Now that the threat of rogue militants not explicitly endorsed by any state has become a problem for America as well, I think it still needs to promote these institutions as a strategic tool.
posted by Firas at 2:04 PM on July 24, 2006

If by promoting these institutions you mean supporting military juntas, yes. That's how the USA typically does it.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:08 PM on July 24, 2006

I do think that, with Albright, the USA had definitely turned from Kissinger school of foreign policy.

Actually, I think you could make a good argument that Clinton's policy was much more in line with Kissinger than Bush's has been. There were a number of neoconservatives who were livid at Kissinger because they saw diplomacy as showing weakness when military force was necessary.

Same sort of deal going on now, I think. It strikes me that the difference between W's foreign policy and that of, well, everyone else, is that neoconservatives see force as the first -- and often only -- option, and everything else as appeasement.
posted by spiderwire at 6:57 PM on July 24, 2006

Haaretz: Morality is not on our side--...This war is not a just war. Israel is using excessive force without distinguishing between civilian population and enemy, whose sole purpose is extortion. That is not to say that morality and justice are on Hezbollah's side. Most certainly not. But the fact that Hezbollah "started it" when it kidnapped soldiers from across an international border does not even begin to tilt the scales of justice toward our side. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:18 PM on July 24, 2006

spiderwire: yeah. Good point. I was just subconsciously using 'Kissinger' as shorthand for 'immoral', but that sort of falls apart in comparing foreign policy styles.

amberglow: glad to see that while the rest of the Israeli left has been bludgeoned into submission ol' Haaretz is still kickin'.
posted by Firas at 5:19 AM on July 25, 2006

and the land grab is official-- Israel 'to control Lebanon strip'
posted by amberglow at 9:35 AM on July 25, 2006

Grrr. I was right, we really need a repository thread for this stuff. Pretty much everything on Juan Cole's site today is a much read, so I'll just link to the site itself.

Most critically, of course, we're looking at 800,000 refugees and climbing, Condi heading to Beirut but not offering a cease-fire at the same time the Iraqi PM is calling for one, Israel pushed back by a better-trained-than-expected Hezbollah and suffering losses... and the list goes on.

Things are looking to get worse before they get better. Much worse.
posted by spiderwire at 2:48 PM on July 25, 2006

I just heard that Annan said that the Israelis deliberately targeted the UN post.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese doctor makes a claim that Israel is using phosphorous in their weapons, much like the US did in Fallujah (among other places). I don't know if this true or not, but it sure wouldn't shock me.
posted by the_savage_mind at 5:03 PM on July 25, 2006

In what is hopefully a hell of a lot more positive news:

Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have agreed to stop firing rockets at Israel and to free a captured Israeli soldier in a deal brokered by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president.

The deal, agreed on Sunday, is to halt the rocket attacks in return for a cessation of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, and to release Corporal Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured on June 25, in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners at some point in the future.

posted by the_savage_mind at 5:15 PM on July 25, 2006

Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration's national security and foreign policy agenda. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:30 PM on July 26, 2006

Billmon: ... but he DID get a clear sense that the Americans and the Israelis both understand now that they are in serious danger of losing the war.

They're freaking out about this, of course, because they're deathly afraid that if Israel is seen to fail, and fail badly, against Hizbullah, everybody and their Palestinian uncle will get it into their heads that they can take a crack at the Zionist entity. ...

Plan B, then, is to try to "make something happen" on the ground -- although what, exactly, isn't clear. Today it was killing a low-level Hizbullah leader (in a border village they supposedly secured three days ago) and pumping him up as a big catch (shades of Zarqawi's 28,000 "lieutenants".) Tomorrow it will be something else -- maybe the capture of the "terror capital" of south Lebanon, beautiful downtown Bint Jbeil. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:54 PM on July 26, 2006

We. Are. So. Fucked.

digby's comments on this are spot on and depressing the hell out of me. First there's this quote from Mark Lynch that's been circulating:
America is totally alone on this. And more than most Americans might realize, America is being blamed for Israel's actions. The shift in Arab public discourse over the last week has been palpable. For the first few days, the split between the Saudi media and the "al-Jazeera public" which I wrote about at the time. Then for a few days, horror at the humanitarian situation, fury with the Arab states for their impotence, speculation about the endgame, and full-throated condemnation of Israeli aggression. But for the last few days, the main trend has been unmistakable: an increasing focus on the United States as the villain of the piece. (That the Israeli bombing of Beirut stopped just long enough for Condoleeza Rice's photo op certainly didn't help.)
But it's digby's take that really gives me chills:
This is a very dangerous moment for the world. The US is showing over and over again that it is immmoral and incompetent. That is the kind of thing that leads ambitious, crazy or stupid people to miscalculate and set disasterous [sic] events in motion. The neocons have destroyed America's carefully nurtured mystique by seeking to flex its muscles for the sake of flexing them. What a mistake. This country is much, much weaker today because of it and the world is paying the price. At some point I have to imagine that we are going to be paying it too. Big Time.
I feel like I should bold that entire paragraph.

For all the flack I took about proposing that this be sidebarred, I'm more and more disappointed that there only seem to be three of us here reading this thread.
posted by spiderwire at 7:23 PM on July 26, 2006

oh, i'm checking in from time to time ... and the paragraph you quoted from digby has been my impression all along ... this is a fire in a fireworks factory and somebody needed to put it out ... and soon, it's going to be too late

our president doesn't realize this ... if this blows up on us, he will be remembered for his inaction more than he will be remembered for anything else ... and cursed ... and that's really saying something
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 PM on July 26, 2006

Our president doesn't realize lots of things. He is completely disassociated and living in la-la-land. He believes what he's fed, and even then I assume little woodland animals vaguely redolent of racist stereotypes speak to him from his shoulder.

I also put Rice in the category of naive moron, along with someone like Fukuyama. They are the true believers who's minds just aren't worth a damn. They can't actually digest history and human nature to save their lives.

The Cheneys, Rumsfelds and Chalabis, however, are quite different. They know exactly what they have done and what they are doing. No matter how you cut it, there side 'wins'. They and their cohorts have and will make trillions off of the middle east. In the meantime, they ensure the continued existence of an Enemy to keep America scared by.

They WANT the rest of the world to hate America so they can persuade many Americans to hate the rest of the world and to ignore what it says. This makes it easier to take us back to the Dark Ages in terms of law, labor, and culture. Why do you think they work so hard to reinforce the image of the UN being incompetent, evil, etc.,? The best way to undermine other nations, even ones who are actually allies, is to portray them as enemies, which is more easily done when America is seen as an enemy.

So if they win, militarily, they win. If they get bogged down in horrible quagmires that turn more against us, they win even more. They cannot lose, and that's why I hate them so very, very much. They feed on human destruction.

As for my previous post, I should have been more cynical. There was consensus from every nation but one that there should be an immediate cease-fire. If I followed my own logic, I should have known the US wouldn't be serious about letting that happen. As a nation, all of us who aren't willing to revolt (and I include myself in this) are morally guilty for what we wreak. I am so ashamed and depressed.
posted by the_savage_mind at 7:20 AM on July 27, 2006

Al-Zawahri calls on Muslims to rise up in holy war against Israel, U.S.
Updated 7/27/2006 9:24 AM ET

CAIRO (AP) — Al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader issued a worldwide call Thursday for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Israel and join the fighting in Lebanon and Gaza until Islam reigns from "Spain to Iraq."

In the message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said that al-Qaeda now views "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."

The Egyptian-born physician said that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Palestinian militants would not be ended with "cease-fires or agreements."

"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere." Spain was controlled by Arab Muslims for more than seven centuries until they were driven from power in 1492.

He said Arab regimes were accomplices to Israel. "My fellow Muslims, it is obvious that Arab and Islamic governments are not only impotent but also complicit ... and you are alone on the battlefield. Rely on God and fight your enemies ... make yourselves martyrs."

He also called for the "downtrodden" throughout the world, not just Muslims, to join the battle against "tyrannical Western civilization and its leader, America."

"Stand with Muslims in confronting this unprecedented oppression and tyranny. Stand with us as we stand with you against this injustice that was forbidden by God in his book (the Koran)," al-Zawahri said.

Kamal Habib, a former member of Egypt's Islamic Jihad militant group who was jailed from 1981 to 1991 along with al-Zawahri, said the al-Qaeda No. 2's outreach to Shiites and non-Muslims was unprecedented and reflected a major change in tactics.

"This is a transformation in the vision of al-Qaeda and its struggle with the United States. It is now trying to unite Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims and calling for non-Muslims to join the fight," he said.


"The shells and rockets ripping apart Muslim bodies in Gaza and Lebanon are not only Israeli (weapons), but are supplied by all the countries of the crusader coalition. Therefore, every participant in the crime will pay the price," al-Zawahri said.
posted by taosbat at 7:30 AM on July 27, 2006

I also put Rice in the category of naive moron, along with someone like Fukuyama.

I was a neocon. I was wrong. --Francis Fukuyama
posted by spiderwire at 10:00 AM on July 27, 2006

Yes. Fukuyama says that now. but if you've heard or read interviews with him, he blames it solely on not being able to bring democracy to a region. He places no blame on corrupt and wrong-headed tactics that were behind the program. It had nothing to do with Bechtel, Halliburton, KB&R, Rumsfeld, Feith and Hadley. There's only one failure to him now, and that's the idea that democracy can be spread in any idealistic manner. He doesn't bother to even question the dynamic whereby the support of horrible regimes causes a majority of a population to live in poverty and ignorance, which radicalizes them and sends pockets to anti-American, religious schools.

In other words, he either purposely or naively chooses to ignore (again) the realities of the world. Seeing him speak, I get the sense that he's really that dumb (while simultaneously being intellectually acute).
posted by the_savage_mind at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2006

He places no blame on corrupt and wrong-headed tactics that were behind the program.

What? In that interview he says "I’m not just shocked, I’m completely appalled by the sheer level of incompetence. If you are going to be a ‘benevolent hegemon’ ... you had better be good at it." Sometimes in public he pulls his punches, but did you read that interview? Kristol and Wolfowitz hate him now. He's become an advocate for the U.N. He does a lot of talking about the ideological nature of the conflict with jihadists which you're pointing to.

He also says in that interview, "I voted for Bush in 2000 precisely because I thought that if he got elected a lot of my friends would be running foreign policy and they would do a lot better than the Clintonites... That’s why this whole thing has been such a terrible disappointment. It has turned out exactly the opposite." That's a pretty specific indictment of the people and tactics behind the program, don't you think?

He's still very much a believer that the natural state of things is liberal democracy and that it should be advocated and supported, but that's actually a pretty liberal tenet that the neoconservatives just recently co-opted. It's much, much different from installing friendly dictators.

Say what you will about Fukuyama, but I really like where he's coming from now and I just can't believe the chutzpah that's been necessary for him to face up to the failures of the neoconservative project, particularly when he was one of the architects. I can't think of anyone else who's done a similar about-face, and I find that really impressive. Regardless of whether you think he's come quite far enough over to the good side, I think it's clear that he's at least crossed the line, and a public repudiation from a guy like that means a lot for us.

Anyway, enough derail. Back to the shitty nature of the world at hand.
posted by spiderwire at 1:00 PM on July 27, 2006

spiderwire... I managed to actually miss that you linked to an interview, and I apologize. The ones I'd read before, and more the televised interviews I watched him in, omitted quite a bit of that, and I guess I have to retract these statement about him.
posted by the_savage_mind at 1:02 PM on July 27, 2006

Right on. All seems pretty urbane now compared to what's actually happening on the ground. Sigh.
posted by spiderwire at 3:59 PM on July 27, 2006

Is the Israeli Army Showing Cracks?
Hezbollah Puts Up a Stronger Fight Than Some Anticipated

July 27, 2006 — Nearly two weeks into the new war in the Middle East, two rather surprising developments have emerged: The Israeli army, which trades on its almost mythical abilities, has shown some cracks. And the army's enemy, Hezbollah, appears stronger and more elusive than almost anyone imagined.
posted by taosbat at 6:12 PM on July 27, 2006

More on Hezbollah's unexpected organization here.
Hezbollah is fighting at the company level, has specialized units (mortars, antitank, logistics, etc.) in its combat units and is using sophisticated communications equipment, body armor and other gear.
posted by spiderwire at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Israeli army, which trades on its almost mythical abilities, has shown some cracks. And the army's enemy, Hezbollah, appears stronger and more elusive than almost anyone imagined.

So... this will not only energize a new generation to take up arms against Israel, but it's showing the anti-Israel world that Israel ain't as tough as it tries to portray itself? sweeeeeet. Sounds like an American strategy to me.
posted by the_savage_mind at 8:58 PM on July 27, 2006

...but it's showing the anti-Israel world that Israel ain't as tough as it tries to portray itself? sweeeeeet. Sounds like an American strategy to me.

Totally. And they should have known better than to follow our lead.
posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on July 28, 2006

... The U.S. Arms Export Control Act stipulates that foreign countries receiving weapons from the United States must use them solely for defensive purposes or to maintain internal security. During the last major Israeli incursion into Lebanon, in 1981, the Reagan administration cut off U.S. military aid and arms deliveries for 10 weeks while it investigated whether Israel was using weapons for "defensive purposes." ...
posted by amberglow at 5:13 PM on July 28, 2006

From Haaretz. via TPM:

In the middle of the week, a close personal friend of U.S. President George Bush, who is also a generous donor to the Republican Party, called an Israeli friend who is a senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces. "What's happening with you?" he asked, as angry as he was disappointed. "The best army in the region, one of the best armies in the world, is messing for two weeks with a terrorist organization three kilometers from the border, and the rockets keep falling on its population centers? We sent our army to bleed 6,000 miles from home after September 11. What's stopping you?"

Because this is the true surprise - a surprise of statesmen and not of intelligence - of the campaign in the north: no American red light, no flashing orange light, and not even a mere green light, but the blaring siren of the sheriff's car sitting behind the hesitant driver at the intersection urging him to get moving. The global cop is recruiting Israel as a regional cop, to impose Security Council Resolution 1559 on the government of Lebanon and dismantle the Hezbollah army. Sun, stand still at Givon. The Red Sea parts for the Israelites, as in Paramount Pictures, but this time there is no Moses around, maybe because Charlton Heston is sick.


This is a war of religion and culture, which has no everlasting compromises, only tactical respites.

It is also turning the zealous Shiites into fighters who are ready to sacrifice themselves to sanctify the name of Allah. In 1988 Yitzhak Gershon was the commander of a Paratroops battalion that fought a bitter battle against Hezbollah at Maidoun. When he got back, he told his friends, "They aren't Palestinians. It's really hard with them." Without planes, tanks or artillery, it was hard to overcome them when the IDF, with the South Lebanon Army (SLA), was deployed in the security zone. It is even more costly when they are entrenched on a line from which they have decided not to retreat.

Things do not look good. The Lebanese are fucked. Israel is fucking itself. Nobody seems to even remember Hamas and the Palestinians at the moment. The stuff about the IDF and cabinet and Chief of Staff infighting is downright terrifying.
posted by the_savage_mind at 5:15 PM on July 28, 2006

... President Bush proudly declared that American foreign policy no longer seeks to “manage calm,” and derided policies that let anger and resentment lie “beneath the surface.” Bush said that the violence in the Middle East was evidence of a more effective foreign policy that addresses “root causes.”

This is sheer, abject lunacy of the sort that imagined the invasion of Iraq would lead to city squares in Iraq named after George W. Bush and the invasion would pay for itself out of oil revenues. The only appropriate reaction is to very loudly proclaim this is the reasoning of madmen. No rational human being thinks like this.

posted by amberglow at 7:27 PM on July 28, 2006

Wow, the President finally blew a circuit. TPM has the video here.

Reboot country, please.
posted by spiderwire at 7:46 PM on July 28, 2006

One of these days, Bush is going to have a weighted pause in a speech, look up, yell "SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES!" and run away from the podium.

Mark it down.
posted by spiderwire at 7:59 PM on July 28, 2006

Reboot country, please.

Ok-- set it to 1999, please. : >
posted by amberglow at 8:00 PM on July 28, 2006

you saw the beer bottle in front of him at the g8? he's totally drinking again.
posted by amberglow at 8:00 PM on July 28, 2006

As long as we're taking a short break from all the sadness to go OT, I would like to say:

1. Given where this thread has gone, I'm still a little miffed that I got lambasted for suggesting that we get a sidebar on the topic. The links and updates at the bottom have been wonderful. I'm reading most of these blogs as well, but I appreciate the commentary a lot.

2. I do still kind of take issue with that Tristero post via Hullabaloo you put up, amberglow. Speaking as a liberal 'hawk' who recanted before the war, it makes me feel sad to see a post that I agree with essentially calling me an idiot for not being quick enough to point the finger. I already feel stupid enough as it is. But thank you for quoting the good part of it.

3. Regardless of how many people are here, thank you all. I've just been sitting around driving myself crazy waiting for law school to start, and I keep checking back to this thread to keep myself sane.
posted by spiderwire at 8:11 PM on July 28, 2006

And yes, I'm aware that it was stupid to propose that my own thread be sidebarred concurrently with posting it.
posted by spiderwire at 8:13 PM on July 28, 2006

well, spider, were you really gung ho about it pre-war and insulting to all the rest of us who called it correctly and were mocked/ignored/defamed/etc? like chickenhawks are/were?
posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on July 28, 2006

no, that's kind of my point. i think there were a lot of people like me, matt yglesias, josh marshall, etc, who were on the fence, and i don't think it's fair to be lumped in with people like christopher hitchens, you know?

in other news, i'm going to go to the other thread and cry.
posted by spiderwire at 8:18 PM on July 28, 2006

on the one hand, they were determined to abandon Afghanistan (and the hunt for Osama) and go to Iraq no matter what anyone said or did.

on the other hand, the silent acquiesence and or support by many who would in normal times not have done so emboldened the rightwing--and especially the insane right, who still are attacking the truth and reality and anyone who states it. I think not being unified on the whole "terror" thing hurt us in 04, election-wise--Lieberman is one of the very very few Democrats left who still support Iraq and the administration's general take on the "war on terror" (no withdrawals or timetable, hit everyone hard, go after Iran, ignore the realities, ignore diplomacy, etc).
posted by amberglow at 8:45 PM on July 28, 2006

of course, not that anyone should abandon any deeply-held beliefs or principles. I don't think they were for you or many--i think there was trust (in people who had already proven themselves unworthy of that trust), and a sort-of belief that they really weren't incapable or as devious as they really are (or something).
posted by amberglow at 8:50 PM on July 28, 2006

and a sort-of belief that they really weren't incapable or as devious as they really are (or something)

well, it wasn't a belief, it was a rationale, and a reluctantly-adopted one, which i might as well explain.

some of us were still thinking of kosovo -- you know, back when it seemed that maybe the U.S. could do something to stop crazy murderous dictators amidst serious ethnic conflicts. rwanda, too -- there's just been such a long history of western governments turning a blind eye when their pet dictators get off the leash -- cf. NATO refusing to refer to rwanda as a 'genocide' simply because they didn't want to intervene while countless people were being killed in cold blood. and in light of afghanistan, which had been left to fester for far too long (who created the taliban?), it certainly seemed like the national tragedy of 9/11 might have given the country the international cachet and the political will necessary to actually begin to fix some of the damage wrought by the cold war. in fact, it probably did, but that's all beside the point now, because it's all been wasted and then some.

the simple fact is that the administration didn't seem flat-out crazy then. bad, yes. not my politics, yes. but not completely fucking bonkers. like i said, when it became obvious that the invasion was inevitable, all my hopes went quickly out the window -- it can't be diplomacy, and it can't be legitimate, if the only option at the end of the road is war. but even my brief support is a mark of shame, yes.

it just stinks to still be criticized for that. even if i deserve it, i'm fairly certain that people like kevin drum, josh marshall, and matt yglesias don't, and yet they still take flack about it constantly, from people in their comment threads and from posts like tristero's. i find it all unnecessarily venomous. and to hear those same people criticize lieberman for being part of a circular firing squad in the same breath is insulting. there's a big difference between being a centrist and being a slimy opportunist, and it's intellectually lazy and downright mean to not bother making that distinction, i think.

for me, and maybe for others who think of themselves as rational centrist liberals too: really, never in my worst nightmares did i think that the administration could have screwed up the situation as royally as they did. i'd even allowed for the fact that there were evil, devious people in charge (really, who ever trusted cheney?) but it seemed obvious that even for oil-grubbing lunatics, there'd still be a self-interested reason to stabilize the middle east (you can't get your oil when the locals are shooting at you). the neoconservatives practically couldn't shut up about how important it was to have a stable world when we were the sole superpower. that was practically fukuyama's whole thesis.

i still find it somewhat incomprehensible that some of these guys can even figure out how to walk upright, let alone form complete sentences and get elected (although to be fair, bush hasn't really mastered the latter two yet). i remember that reading assassin's gate was kind of like entering this weird looking-glass world where the groups in charge of reorganizing an entire country were staffed by the young republicans my age who told me that the united states had nothing to do with nicaragua. i remember thinking, how could anyone possibly be this dumb? many of these bad decisions were just fundamentally not hard calls to make, and they were consistently and horrendously wrong at every turn. the ability to constantly choose the most utterly stupid option and then pursue it past the point of all sanity is just... incredible. it still boggles my mind. and, i mean... abu ghraib? intercepting domestic phone calls? w. t. f. ? seriously. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

compared to where we are now, 2001 seems like paradise in comparison. it still gives me chills to think about just how goddamn bad things have gotten. remember when we were all worried about the spy plane in china? maybe a bunch of us were stupid for believing the administration for any amount of time, but i know that i would have raised an incredulous eyebrow at anyone who told me exactly what's transpired between 2003 and now. i just didn't think as a nation we were that close to a policy of torture and a political pogrom.

and it's hard for me to feel guilty about what was a very hard decision that was ultimately made based on optimistic assumptions about certain unshakable foundations that i thought still undergirded this country. the fact that i was wrong about that is, to me, punishment enough without being told that i was an idiot as well. many of my illusions about this country were shattered reading chomsky and such in high school, and then the small glimmer of hope that i had that we might be able to do something about all the horror we've wrought on the world for the last half-century was snuffed out by these people running the country now -- and worse yet, they didn't even seem to do it for any particular reason. i almost can't handle it, and i don't really need to be criticized for it any more than i already criticize myself. i spend my days now reading about the american revolution and occasionally crying. i assure you that it's not fun.

i don't know. take that for what you will.
posted by spiderwire at 3:00 AM on July 29, 2006

Here's the thing, spiderwire... I wasn't around here and I don't know what points you were making pre-war. I do know that all the stuff that eventually came out -- the fallacy of the yellowcake, the fact that the intelligence came through Curveball via Chalabi and that neither were trustworthy, the fact that the world's intelligence agencies actually knew Saddam wasn't a threat and had no ties to Islamic terrorism (since he had always been at war with Islamic extremists himself) but that the Rumsfeld/Feith group took all intelligence and filtered out anything they didn't want to hear while Cheney went and repeatedly intimidated the CIA for the same outcome, that Judith Miller was feeding the bullshit of these five guys to America as the only truth... all this and more was knowledge I discovered pre-war on the internet. All of it from solid sources and all of it should have been a huge part of the public discourse.

It was there to be had. But I don't blame you for anything. I don't know enough to, and even if I did it's hard to judge the fence-sitters who were 'just' citizens and who were taken in partially by manipulation of their distress over 9/11. I do judge the professional journalists with either not checking or not publishing the facts, and I charge the Administration with leading us to a false war they knew was false.

In other news, I'm just as thankful to you guys for helping keep this thread going with stuff. I had no idea about Maliki and Hezbollah either.
posted by the_savage_mind at 6:22 AM on July 29, 2006

iirc, i was just lurking here pre-war. i seem to recall that i'd come around some time before the yellowcake / curveball stuff. the whole thing is kind of muddled now.

anyway, back to reading cnn.
posted by spiderwire at 10:06 AM on July 29, 2006

anyone else notice how Iraq has been relegated to just 30 seconds of news a day?
posted by amberglow at 1:12 PM on July 29, 2006

i'm not alone: One of the most bizarre and disturbing media phenomena in some time is the very sudden, and virtually complete, disappearance of the war in Iraq from the media radar. That country is literally falling apart, engulfed by what even war proponents are acknowledging increasingly appears to be an inevitable civil war and growing anarchy. And yet for the last week, Iraq was barely discussed, ...
posted by amberglow at 1:20 PM on July 29, 2006

when was it that you're not supposed to launch a new product? was it before or after the midterm elections? gee, i honestly can't remember any more, but it sure is nice for the republicans that we have some new brown people to watch getting killed this summer. funny how they seem to keep getting all the breaks.
posted by spiderwire at 1:28 PM on July 29, 2006

Funny nothing. I don't doubt at all that the Admin pushed Israel to start something big in July, so they would have something in the Middle East that would be positive and transformative and take attention away from Iraq. Problem for them is, so far things haven't gone particularly positive in regards to their spin.
posted by the_savage_mind at 2:24 PM on July 29, 2006

*ahem* no, it's a remarkable coincidence. *cough cough*
posted by spiderwire at 3:01 PM on July 29, 2006

More fun from the WTF Department:
En route from Asia to the Middle East, Rice told reporters she expected the weekend talks to be intense and emotional because both sides are "under extreme pressure in a difficult set of circumstances."

She said she was not bringing a comprehensive plan to the table.
Because GOD FORBID this Administration ever go into anything fucking PREPARED.
posted by spiderwire at 3:11 PM on July 29, 2006

Holy fuck. Hooo-leee fuck. I look forward to the spinjob on this.

How did they destroy our military might and it's rep in the world so quickly? And expose Israel as not being up to snuff? The collusion between team Bush here and the military leadership in Israel has basically torpedo'd the US and Israel's perceived strength in the area.

Go Team Venture!
posted by the_savage_mind at 4:13 PM on July 29, 2006

If she didn't go with a plan, why did she go? She's just a useless politician cluttering an already confused scene. Useless damn idiots.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:26 PM on July 29, 2006

Dozens killed in Lebanon air raid

Rice postpones trip to Beirut, regrets loss of innocent lives in Lebanon

Rice to return to US on Monday

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called off a trip to Lebanon after Israel bombed a village there on Sunday, but she stopped short of urging an immediate ceasefire to help end the war.
posted by taosbat at 8:41 AM on July 30, 2006

From what I hear, she didn't call off the trip as much as she was disinvited. She is partially responsible for those dead civilians, for not pushing for an immediate, temporary, ceasefire from the beginning. Do Americans get this?
posted by cell divide at 8:49 AM on July 30, 2006

Believe me, cell divide, some of us do. Beyond volunteering for voter registration (in a system that has now institutionalized electoral fraud) and marching (which is always covered by the media by lying about the numbers and only showing fringe elements on tv), the only solution is an all-out revolt.

But with a population largely put to sleep (purposely) over the last thirty-plus years since the Nixon admin, that's not going to happen.

I think the rest of the world -- including Europe -- really does need to start making plans for their safety that don't rely on the US.
posted by the_savage_mind at 9:52 AM on July 30, 2006

Hi, cell divide, as the_savage_mind said, some of us do. However, I don't think our population was "largely put to sleep." I think consumerism has replaced citizenship and most of our population has "other priorities." If I'm correct, "all-out revolt" can only exist in the USA as a consumer issue.
posted by taosbat at 11:25 AM on July 30, 2006

...Zbig was right that the Israelis have kidnapped the 3.8 million Lebanese and are holding them all for ranson, while breaking their legs from time to time to encourage prompt payment. The horrible thing is that the Lebanese could not do anything about Hizbullah if they wanted to. Their government is weak and divided (Hizbullah is in it, and the Bush administration and Ambassador Mark Feltman signed off on that!) Their new, green army only has 60,000 men, and a lot of them are Shiites who would not fight Hizbullah. Lebanon was a patient that needed to be nurtured carefully to health. Instead, it has been drafted and put into the middle of the worst fighting on the battlefield. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:07 PM on July 30, 2006

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