Monday, August 14, 2006

 

I Keep Making the Same Point, I know ... I'm a One Trick Pony, What Can I Say?

If Sy Hirsch is right (and he generally seems to be, although I think he's wrong about Iran and when we liberals get too worried about Bush wanting to directly attack Iran, we tend to miss the bigger picture), then I should hope people finally realize that (1) GW Bush is not good for Israel and (2) Israel's actions in this latest war have neither been smart (unless you think Cmdr. Chimpy McFlightsuit is particularly smart) nor in Israel's own interests. Just because someone wants to get you out of excrement doesn't make them your friend (cf. the parable of the bird, the ox and the fox) and even if someone is your friend, they are not necessarily going to always have only your interests in mind. If you think the U.S. magically is supporting Israel's interests 100%, then what's the point of an independent Jewish state? Why not just all now make Aliyah to the U.S.? Israel needs to be very careful that it really does act in its own interests and not just in the interests it perceives to be its own because it believes the U.S. is such a good friend it's only nudging Israel to act in Israel's best interests. Sometimes influence is pernicious, which is why it pays to look a gift horse in the mouth -- it could be a Trojan horse filled with the fundie agenda.

Anyway, read the article.

Some quotes:

"Hamas believed the call from Damascus was scrambled, but Israel had broken the code," -- cf. the allies deliberately spreading false information for German spies to intercept (which terrorists seem to be doing as well in other quarters) ... it could be a trick, you know ... but certain people think they are oh-so-clever about code breaking, they forget some codes are meant to be broken!

And the money quote for my point:

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks.

Adventus links to the above linked article as well as to an article in Yahoo news. Here's part of the quote singled out by the good Rev.:

Hezbollah fired more than 250 rockets at northern Israel, the worst daily barrage since fighting started July 12. Missiles killed an Israeli man and wounded 53 people, rescue officials said. Cars were set afire in the northern city of Haifa, billowing black smoke into the sky.

Don't you just know that everyone to the right of Me'eretz will say "see, this is why cease fires and such never are good for Israel: when you tell terrorists when the fighting will stop, they'll just step of their efforts at the last minute knowing that you won't be able to retaliate". Indeed, terrorists will pull this sort of stunt -- but not necessarily to inflict damage without retaliation being possible. The goal of terrorists is to terrorize, nu? They pull this kind of stunt in order to get people in a lather about their inability to retaliate and make them less likely to accept peace deals in the future. Hezbollah's not stupid, and Israel underestimates the bravery, intelligence, etc of terrorists at their own peril. Hezbollah wants Israel to "harden its heart" and be less willing to constructively engage in peace negotiations or even future cease fires. That's their goal: the make sure Israel acts in such a way that it is seen as the bad guy and hence serves as a recruiting tool for groups like Hezbollah. Israel may not be fighting a PR war, but Hezbollah and similar groups sure are.

While no nation should be deprived of the right to respond to attacks and threats, sometimes the best defense is not a good offense but rather knowing when to stand down and not let the bully provoke you into doing something stupid that only makes you look like the bully and allows the bully to gain friends.

Of course, if you are so paranoid you think everyone is out to get you anyway, you won't care and you will do stupid things ... sometimes when you stare at the abyss, it stares, back, nu?

Comments:
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Wow.. for the first time I can recall George Dubya said something today that made me proud of him. Of course my joy is only shortlived when I venture over here to left blogistan. Lets hope that Mr. Bush is right that this is the end of Hezb.

And of course I disagree with my homeboy DAS about the penultimate paragraph about the best defense sometimes means knowing when to back down. The only disappointment I have now is that more Hezbs werent taken out of action and those 3 hero soldiers are still missing.
 
I doubt it's the end of Hezbollah. Actually, they've proven that they can stand up to Israel: which means, given how Israel is reviled by many (and, no matter how you feel about the justifiability or wisdom of Israel's actions, ya gotta admit that when you bomb civilians, even if you "warn" them, they might tend to revile you), that Hezbollah will only be stronger.

And just like Israel's strategy (down to bombing the supply lines) is straight out of the U.S.'s winning (not) strategy from the Vietnam war, I figure it won't be too long until we start hearing from some the ol' stabbed in the back line (and talk about becoming a dragon: remember where the line comes from? the Nazis and their ilk blaming the Jews for what happened to Germany at the end of WWI): "if only the UN, et al, would have let us fight longer, we would have finally rid ourselves of Hezbollah."

*

If Israel could manage to rather surgically take Hezbollah militants out of action, that would actually discourage them: but since airstrikes are never surgical and ground forces are too quickly seen as the nefarious vanguard of colonization, it's hard to rid a place of a cancer like Hezbollah without the cure, like certain chemo drugs of old, actually causing more of the disease in the future.
 
And of course I disagree with my homeboy DAS about the penultimate paragraph about the best defense sometimes means knowing when to back down.

I think you're purposefully mistating the meaning of what DAS said. No one is suggesting that Israel "back down" from Hezbollah. What we're saying is that a full-scale military invasion is not the answer. It exacerbates the problem. However, that doesn't mesh well with the conservative need for macho posturing. Diplomacy and deal making just doesn't pack the cathartic punch of a laser guided bomb blowing up an apartment building, does it?
 
Actually, perhaps Nate is not misreading what I am saying ... it depends on how you define terms. I could play Humpty-Dumpty here with respect to definitions, but instead I'll be lazy, let y'all hash those things out and enjoy "listening" to the discussion.

FWIW, a full scale military invasion, properly executed, would have been fine by me (it would have been no less justifiable than our invasion of Afghanistan, for example), but for the fact that such an invasion would, by the "pottery barn rule", have obligated Israel to rebuild Lebanon and put in place a stable government that could actually fight Hezbollah (which stable government would be good for Israel anyway, unless by "good for Israel" one, internalizing the priorities of the fundies, means "good to help Israel expand and anger more people") since the justification for such an invasion was that Hezbollah is a threat to Israel which Lebanon should have stopped internally but would not or could not.

The problem is that Israel has been unable (although some -- both lefties who hate Israel for whatever reason and Likudnik types who think Israel can do anything, so it cannot be unable to do something, only unwilling ... and then these sorts of people wonder about Israel's hazbarah problem? -- claim Israel is merely unwilling) to work with the Palestinians (in large part because too many of the most promenant ones don't want to work with Israel ... and in some ways, you can't blame 'em) to establish a working government in the West Bank and Gaza. And it is Israel's responsibility if they are the occupying power, nu? After all, Israel ostensibly had sovereignty there, so who else could establish a government? Well, the Palestinians could have gone the route of any successful anti-colonial movement and established their own government a la Nehru, or the Continental Congress or the ANC ...

Anyway though, even if Israel really cannot be blamed for not being able to reconstruct the West Bank and Gaza Strip like the Allies did in post-WWII Germany, it still would not be strategic for Israel to have fully invaded Lebanon and thus obligated itself to do the impossible there. And the price of failure with occupations is high: how do you think Hezbollah got its start anyway?

But Israel didn't even launch a full-hearted invasion. Instead it mainly fought an air-war with ground troops as an after-thought. And what ended up happening was that Hezbollah had Israel doing exactly what it wanted Israel to do: making a mess of things. Given that Hezbollah, as you point out at your blog Samurai Sam, is the closest thing to a winner in this war, wouldn't it maybe have been better if Israel had a much more limitted response? You know, a Biblical one: an eye for an eye ... rather than two eyes for an eye.
 
I can't stand that the belief that this invasion was good for Israel. From the little I've heard it's far more widely believed here than there.

It won't make anything better, about the only thing it proved was that they were able to send rockets even farther into Israel.

When you look at the prospects of whatever they would count as success and the actually disaster which will ripple over the world, no one with a brain could think it was a good idea.
 
no one with a brain could think it was a good idea. - olvlzl

Two easy ways to think it was a good idea:

(1) assume that the whole of the Arab world hates Israel so much (e.g. because all non-Jews hate Jews: it's easy to understand why some Jews, at least subconciously, think this, given our history, nu?) that no matter how many civilians you kill, etc., you don't have to worry about recruiting terrorists: in which case, any terrorists you kill mean that much less threat to Israel, so it's in Israel's best interest to kill as many terrorists as possible, no matter what the cost ...

(2) assume that because the U.S. and elements of the American right are such good "friends" to Israel (or at least such useful tools: "we'll take their support even if we don't like their eschatology -- and we think it's b.s. anyway, so what harm could something we don't believe in even do?") that you begin to adopt the goals of those elements as your own goals

In either case, and both overlap but not 100%, the result is someone who does think is still mislead on what was the obvious result of the invasion from the get go, the way Israel was running the thing ...

From the little I've heard it's far more widely believed here than there.

FWIW, they are starting to grumble about AIPAC in Israel too.
 
Its not that the invasion was "good" for Israel.. it was a message sent to any of these thug terrorists who dare to ever think about kidnapping an Israeli soldier. Its similar to the brilliant idea that the relatives of suicide bombers would have their houses torn down.

Here in our fine country if someone does something wrong, they are punished. And before the left blogistanites hammer away at their typewriters questioning "Left blogistan requires me to ask if the punishment fit the crime?".. My question is.. "Did the punishment deter future commitment of the crime?"
 
Given that Hezbollah, as you point out at your blog Samurai Sam, is the closest thing to a winner in this war, wouldn't it maybe have been better if Israel had a much more limitted response? You know, a Biblical one: an eye for an eye ... rather than two eyes for an eye.

I think it's the connotation to "backing down" that I find disagreeable. If Israel had refused to take Hezbollah's bait and had reacted more appropriately, either by opening up talks with Nasrallah or making demands of Siniorile, I think Israel would be in a much better position today. "Backing down" implies that the only proper response to this was a military one and I just don't see how another war between Israel and its neighbors benefits anyone.

I think the problem with the Japan/Germany example is that its largely been normalized in foreign policy discussions when in actuality it was the exception. I see no evidence to support the neocon notion that we can tear down a country and rebuild it into a satellite Jeffersonian democracy under U.S. control (for this is surely what Kristol and his ilk envision, else why not support Hamas and Hezbollah as duly elected political parties?) Just as we cannot stabilize Iraq through military force, neither can Israel build a Palestinian nation effectively. Nor should it have to, frankly. Israel could be a much, much better friend to the Palestinians, but then so could the PLO's putative Arab "allies". As certain disagreeable factions have had control of Israeli policy at various times, Israel has certainly been a bully and a reactionary threat to the Palestinians (the worst represented people in the world), but a more positive role being played by the U.S. and say, Syria or Iran, could change that. The plight of the Palestinians makes too good a rallying cry for Shia extremists to ever get much help from either side.
 
It won't make anything better, about the only thing it proved was that they were able to send rockets even farther into Israel.

I agree. If Israel's goal was to weaken Hezbollah, than the mission has to be considered a failure. Olmert and Peretz are likely to be in the job market quite soon.
 
it was a message sent to any of these thug terrorists who dare to ever think about kidnapping an Israeli soldier.

What was that message exactly, Nate? That Israel will launch itself back into Lebanon at the slightest provocation? That only confirms every negative stereotype groups like Hezbollah use to recruit folks to their cause. If, as is commonly claimed, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, then why should it care about hundreds of dead Lebanese civilians? That doesn't degrade Hezbollah; it justifies Hezbollah's existence as a symbolic protector of Arab Shiites from Israeli aggression. Israel's actions were more damaging to Israel and Lebanon than to Hezbollah.
 
"Did the punishment deter future commitment of the crime?" - Nate

Indeed ... from the public policy (as opposed to the purely moral) perspective (although, should Israel, as a "Jewish" state also be responsible for acting in accordance with Jewish morality?), this is a critical aspect of punishment. Does the punishment deter the crime? Does it do so with criminals? With terrorists?

OTOH, when it comes to most criminals, to what extent do you think they are making a rational calculation as to whether crime pays? Or as Shakespeare would have put it (correct me if I'm misremembering the quotation): "the mind may devise laws for the blood, but the hot heart leaps o'er the cold decree".

In the case of terrorists, though, they may be criminals and Bush & CO may be in error to be giving them the dignaty of treating them as if they were an opposing army in a war, but they are indeed, as Nate would likely agree, pursuing various agendas and acting based on some accounting of costs and benefits (albeit one we would find completely immoral). In which case the question becomes: do Israel's actions actually increase the perceived cost of terrorism? Obviously, killing people who are trying to be martyrs anyway is likely not going to increase the cost of terrorism, so to speak. And, if we lefties are correct as to Hezbollah's goals, then Israel's actions increase the benefit to the terrorists. The message to the thug terrorists may very well have been: "kidnap Israeli soldiers and lob a few rockets at us and we'll be so terrorized, as you being terrorists by definition want us to be, that we'll go berzerk and create a power vacuum which you can then go on to fill". In which case wouldn't that embolden the terrorists not discourage them?
 
see no evidence to support the neocon notion that we can tear down a country and rebuild it into a satellite Jeffersonian democracy under U.S. control - Samurai Sam

In general, we cannot. But the question is, if we cannot do so, under what conditions can we tear down a country in the first place?
 
First of all Sam the kidnapping of 3 HERO soldiers is not a "slight provocation"... Im sure Shlomo Goldwasser, (a person whose plight doesnt seem to be that important to the left wingers) doesnt think its "slight" either.

And Bush "dignifying" them by treating them as if they were the opposing army in a war... its the liberals who want to sit down with tea and crumpets and sympathize with the plight of these murdering terrorists.

And as for tearing down a country, while unfortunate, the action as President Bush said was neccesary to remove the terrorists from running the country. Now that UN troops are going in, the Lebanese will no longer be ruled by a bunch of terrorist thugs.
 
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