The Ostroy Report is an aggressive voice for Democrats, the progressive agenda and serves as a watchdog of the Republican Party and President Trump.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Judging Israel's Reaction to the Hezbollah Attack
The violence in the Middle East rages on, with both Israel and Hezbollah issuing punishing attacks on the other resulting in an appalling amount of civilian deaths. The blood-letting has been horrific. What's taking place in Israel and Lebanon hardly seems believable, and diplomacy at this point seems but a distant possibility. The question remains: how long will this senseless carnage last, and is there truly an opportunity to somehow reach a meaningful and sustainable cease-fire followed by a lasting peace between the combatants?
I'm an optimist, and I'd like to think that someday Israel and its Arab neighbors will have a peaceful co-existence. But the war that Israel fights today is a war like no other, and it has grave consequences. To those who've vilified Israel for its "disproportionate" "over-reaction," please consider the words of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah:
"There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel. ... Peace settlements will not change reality, which is that Israel is the enemy and that it will never be a neighbor or a nation...Peace will not wipe out the memory of the massacres it has committed ... And on this last day of the century, I promise Israel that it will see more suicide attacks, for we will write our history with blood." (December 31, 1999)
How does a sovereign nation "appropriately" defend itself against an enemy whose sole purpose for existence is to wipe it off the face of the Earth? How do we begin to suggest to Israel what a "proportionate" reaction might have been to Hezbollah's act of war when it crossed Israel's borders to kill and capture Israeli soldiers? To the almost non-stop Hezbollah missile attacks Israel's endured since it withdrew from Southern Lebanon in 2000? How does a sovereign nation attempt diplomacy and a negotiated peace with a blood-thirsty, hate-engorged enemy that says there's no peace ever to be had? In the face of such defiant, incendiary rhetoric--which for years has been accentuated with non-stop violence--can someone, anyone, please tell me just what the "proper" Israeli response is supposed to be?
Posted by The Ostroy Report at 10:32 PM
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As a devoted reader, I continue to be disappointed by your recent articles. Here are a couple of thoughts to help you question your writing style and point of view.
First paragraph: Now, maybe you mean that any death is appalling (and of course it is), but to compare the Israeli deaths to Hezbollah deaths is absurd. At present moment, 19 Israeli citizens have been killed while 523 Lebanese citizens have been killed. The bloodletting has indeed been horrific, but it's clear that the Lebanese are bearing the brunt of the horror.
Second/third/fourth paragraph: The Israelis have said essentially the same thing about the Palestinians, Hezbollah, and other groups who are opposed to it. Each desires a right to the Holy Land, and your point of view privileges the Israelis rather than approaching the situation as an open question: Who should control the land? A particular group? No group at all? From the outset, you are biased. Step back and think more clearly about the issue. Questions like "How does a sovereign nation "appropriately" defend itself against an enemy whose sole purpose for existence is to wipe it off the face of the Earth? " expose your bias. All of these issues are socially constructed. Why should one group have any more claim over a territory than the other? These issues have a history. If you re-evaluate your short-sited approach and think about the land in historical context, you'll have to remember that the land has been stolen many times by sovereign nations and their predecessors. Why should this sovereign nation have more claim than the one that was destroyed to create it? You have no apparent response.
As for your ultimate questions: What's an appropriate response to the kidnapping and actions of Hezbollah? It's not killing more than 500 citizens, that's for sure.
As for the kidnappings, an appropriate response is getting an international police body to find the kidnappers and try them in an international court of law. That's justice ... not killing innocent civilians. If they'd done that, the Hezbollah rockets would not be flying as they have been recently.
As for Hezbollah as a whole, those who are firing rockets at innocent civilians should also be captured and tried. As should be the Israelis for doing the same thing.
Answering your questions is easy – why you see that is unclear to me. Carrying out these solutions aren’t easy, but neither is mounting a unilateral military offensive. So the next question is “Why can’t you think straight about this issue?”
By the way, I gave you these same solutions in comments section of the first misdirected article you wrote on this subject. Maybe you should read your comments closely before asking questions that have already been answered.
According to the very first msm reports, both Israeli soldiers were traken Prisoner Of War inside Lebanon.
The "kidnapping" meme may work on Faux News readers, you insult yours by repeating it.
I would suggest rhetoric by powerless entities be responded by Israel as following:
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Give up the tired bs, Israel is in no danger, far from it.
It brings the trouble upon itself.
"Israel, TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!!!."
How's them apples, bubba?
You've got a problem with your "word verification, I am farang, not farangdikal, which was the word verification.
Will i now be farangepath? Let's see.
You recommend war war and more war. Good for you. Better suit up and grab your gun. What? Dont want to go fight? Then shut the hell up!
Frank: I appreciate your comments and your overall support, but I have to strongly disagree with much of what you posted. Since others here have posted similar opinions and mistruths, I've decided to respond.
To begin with, there have been 51 Israeli deaths, not 19. Next, please show me anything, anywhere, any time in history, where an Israeli official has called for the "disappearance" of a sovereign Arab nation; where Isarel has said any of its Arab neighbors have no right to exist. It even believes the Palestinians have a right to a homeland, and has made many consessions over the years in the interest of helping to create one. As for "who should control the land," the land that comprises Israel--including territories it won in various wars--is Israel's. While it may give back parts-Gaza, West Bank--the idea that Israel will give back its country is ludicrous. Even if, as you imply, Israel "stole" this land--which it did not--it would still no more give back the land today than the U.S. would return America to the Indians.
Lastly, while I asked, you still have not privided a clear, logical response to the question of what Israel's "proper" reaction should have been. Getting "an international police body" to retrieve Israel's kidnapped soldiers is both naive and incredibly inappropriate under the circumstances. You and many others that have criticized Israel keep forgetting that both Hamas and Hezbollah--most likely with Iranian and Syrian backing and blessing--committed an unprovoked act of war by crossing into Israel and killing and kidnapping soldiers. They were not "captured" in battle and thus "prisoners of war." They were taken hostage as part of a highly orchestrated terrorist act. There was no war at the time, just a well-planned covert kidnapping mission.
Here's some advice for you, my friend, as well as for the Arab world: look to the future, not the past. Fight for peace and co-existence, not the unrealistic dream of wiping Israel off the face of the Earth. For anyone who still has doubts, let me clear up something for ya: Israel is here to stay. It is one of the smartest, strongest, most resourceful nations in the world. Hezbollah, Hamas and the countries who support and harbor them would better serve themselves and their Arab brethren if they accepted this reality and focused all their energies and passion towards finding a workable solution rather than on Jihad. The sooner the Arab world realizes it will be better served by dropping their arms and sitting at the negotiating table, the sooner there'll be a Palestinian homeland and a lasting peace. But as long as murderous animals like Nasrallah are comitted to Israel's destruction, and as long as these terror groups keep taking their citizens down a self-destructive path, there'll just be more and more blood-letting. The ball is, and always has been, in the Arab court. It's time they recognize that.
Mr.Mills is of course right and Ostroy has gone mad. What does Ostroy think is the solution? If the Arabs don't suddenly forgive, forget and fall in love with the Israelis then the world should come to a nuclear end? Does he believe that if "one of the smartest, strongest, most resourceful nations in the world" doesn't get its total way and "rights" then all who don't agree should be annihilated, put in concentrataion camps, or more likely to happen, bombed out of existence?
We'd all like to see how "srong and resourceful" Israel would be without U.S. backup. And we'd like to see how much U.S. backup Israel would get if there weren't so many rich and politically strong American Jews who pledge their allegience to Israel first.
No - I'm not anti-semetic. I'm pro-world peace and our living together as civilized people.
Jews were strong and smart when they produced men like King Solomon, whom some still revere and try to emulate.
These two sides - Hezbollah and Israel are thinking, "My Daddy is bigger than your daddy." Neither of the two could stand alone. So immature.
And, to the dear readers who would like to go a little deeper than the kinder-garden variety propaganda broadcasted by our media and "progressive" bloggers, I suggest reading this article http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HG26Ak02.html
Anon 10:08, Ostroy's right. What part of "disapperance of Israel" don't you get? You condemn Israel's military moves, yet fail to accept that the people you claim they should be negotiating with have clearly stated there'll be no negotiating, only a "disappearnce of Israel."
To Farang, who ridiculously writes, "Blood-thirsty, hate-engorged enemy...." Projecting again?" ...here's Nasrallah's own words: "...And on this last day of the century, I promise Israel that it will see more suicide attacks, for we will write our history with blood." Ostroy is not projecting. If you weren't so naive and/or anti-semetic, you'd accept that this is a direct quote from an obviously "blood-thirsty, hate-engorged enemy."
Good god, the level of anti-semetism on this board is frightening. People blind to facts and quotes, instead letting their own prejudice taint their opinions of reality.
Despite the tendency of any nation to unite around war, especially at the beginning, and when the war can be construed to be a war of national defense, there are still many voices on the mainstream Israeli Left that are decrying the bombing and collective punishment of Lebanese civilians. These include Yossi Sarid, former MK, and the great Israeli novelist A.B. Yehoshua. It's not fair to say that if George Bush is for it then it must be bad, but it is remarkable that people who disagree with this extreme right wing administration on every domestic and foreign policy issue, find common ground when it comes to Israel.
i don't think it is Israel per se that people are finding common ground on. Rather, it's the right of a nation, ANY nation, to protect itself from constant terrorist attack and the threat of destruction by terror organizations. Tell me that France is bombarding Spain after being attacked, and attacked for years, and you'll likely see the same support.
"anonymous 2:05 PM" You may also want to add the name of Uri Advnery, the famous "Warrior for Peace" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Avnery
This is his latest article published today http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article14288.htm
I'm sorry for understating Israeli deaths. The source I consulted said 19 at the time. Ok, so the death tool is only disproportionately borne by the Lebanese citizens 10 times over -- 472 more innocent bystanders. But don't get me wrong. Any death is bad, and I've been really worried about my Israeli friends who are currently in Israel.
To get to your points:
You're getting hung up on this sovereign nation issue. By definition, the Israelis can't be calling for the ""disappearance" of a sovereign Arab nation." The groups with which they are in conflict are not (currently) sovereign nations, because those citizens' claims to sovereign nationhood were dissolved when Israel was created. While you're not aware of it, this is your slight of hand. To you, sovereign nations are the only actors able to make valid claims on land, and in this conflict, Israel is the only sovereign nation ... because of its own creation.
To continue in that vein, Israel doesn't believe that other groups (in this case, non-states) have a right to homelands. For example, your claim that Israel "believes the Palestinians have a right to a homeland" is ridiculous. Yes, Gaza and the West Bank exist, and may some day be sovereign bodies, but equating such a scenario with a serious homeland is absurd; those places are too small, too controlled, and not aligned with the desires of the Palestinians or the Israelis. You bringing up the Native Americans is really helpful here, as said Palestinian territories are little more than the reservations created by the U.S. -- not homelands. Israel does not want to give the Palestinians a homeland, nor does it want to cede any of its territory to other groups. If you'd like me to find quotes related to such a position, I'm happy to provide them.
To continue, no, of course Israel did not originally steal its territory. It was stolen primarily by the British and given to the "Israelis." The Israelis then stole some additional territory in wars, which it outgunned its neighbors thanks to our (US, etc.) support. This is of course a major reason for our current problems. This unjust transfer re-kicked off this conflict in the middle of the 1900s. And, as the U.S. has been in the wrong on the Native American issues, so is Israel wrong. Just because they're not going to give it back doesn't make it right. You're stuck defending an unjustly created nation and its unjust acts, I'm not defending anyone. I'm saying all of these violent actors are wrong.
But to move to the present day. As it happens, I have given "a clear, logical response to the question of what Israel's "proper" reaction should have been," and this is right where your contemporary commentary collapses. I'm not forgetting that Hezbollah kidnapped Israeli soldiers, I'm remembering that they kidnapped them. Kidnapping is not war. Hell, you say it yourself: "They were not "captured" in battle and thus "prisoners of war." They were taken hostage as part of a highly orchestrated terrorist act. There was no war at the time, just a well-planned covert kidnapping mission." You asked what a appropriate response is, and I've given you one. The current initial act was not war, so respond to these people in a non-war response, as criminals -- granted they're special criminals that may require precise, specialized tactical units to bring them in -- but they're not soldiers -- they're criminals, terrorists -- and should be treated as such. To invade and bombard a country and kill hundreds of civilians as collateral damage is inappropriate and totally out of scale.
I'd love to forget the past in this case, but unfortunately the past is what is driving this conflict. I agree that peace and (some form of) coexistence would be ideal, but the past is making that very, very difficult. Unlike you say, the problem is not just an Arab one, the fault is no more an Arab problem or an Israeli problem: it's both groups' problems. And Israel's overreaction is just making the whole problem worse by creating more terrorists. Let's get international bodies involved. Let's bring this conflict back into scale and back to the negotiating table.
I understand I've written a lot above, but if you can at least answer the text around the bolded sections, I'd appreciate it. After all, these responses are in response to your question: What's an appropriate response to the kidnapping and actions of Hezbollah?
Frank Mills, your articulated answer to A.O. appropriately mentions a number of relevant historical circumstances behind the current situation. However, I would argue that the the Israelian government never had nor has now any interest in eliminating terrorism. By his nature, single terrorism acts are economically irrelevant for the country (while the extensive bombing of Iraq or Lebanon infrastructures are) but drive huge emotional impact, domestically and internationally, that can be opportunistiacally levereged on to pursue strategic objectives - such as territorial expansion and restrictive domestic policies.
Frank Mills -
It is disturbing how blinded by Hezbollah propaganda you are. Why was crossing an internationally recognized border into a sovereign state, killing soldiers and kidnapping others, then launching rockets into population centers, not an act of war? Because it was not a "nation" that did it? It seems to me then, that by your logic, terrorists can act with impunity because no one can respond to them with any force. They can kill and kill and no one is justified in striking back. That may work in the fantasy land you live in, but it does not work in the real world.
The threat to Israel from nearly the entire Muslim world is real. It is stated openly and often. Israel has never -- not even once -- called for the annihilation of another state or another group of people. To state otherwise is false.
You have still not answered the basic question of who exactly is Israel supposed to "negotiate" with if the terrorists refuse to negotiate and the governments that sponsor and harbor them deny that they have any control over them. Your solution appears to be that Israel should roll over and play dead. Maybe if they just sat back and allowed Hamas, Hezbollah, the PLO, Al Queda, and all of the splinter groups to destroy the Jewish state and the Jews themselves, you might then feel all is right with the world. At least Israel wouldn't be "scaring" your comrades in Hezbollah anymore, right.
Since you sound like a UN supporter based on your silly observations of the Middle East, it's funny that you ignore the resolutions that: 1) establish Israel as a Jewish state (1948) and 2)require Lebanon to disarm and disband Hezbollah (2000).
Since you ignore two of the most basic parts of the issue, and argue that the threat to Israel is false, and a result of "bias" and "social construction" it is no wonder that you think the way you do. Step outside of your living room, put down that issue of The Nation (I know it's a good read, but..) and learn about the world. Hezbollah is a tremendous threat to Israel, America, and our way of life. It is no social construct. It is fact.
Howie Davis, my brutha, so nice to see someone on this thread with a brain!
Although I don't know if it's worth arguing with these "fast eddie" or "howie davis"...given the rude tone of their postings to otherwise polite and articulate contributions like Frank Mills'...
since the UN was mentinoned, this is a partial list of UN resolutions most of which never complied by Israel http://www.jatonyc.org/UNresolutions.html
More interesting, to learn more about the Israel Palestinian issue you may want to read this .pdf document "The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict" which has been published over the years by the "Jews for Justice" - this is its third edition http://www.cactus48.com/truth.html
Consider the words of some of the great zionist leaders:
"What is necessary is cruel and strong reactions. We need precision in time, place, and casualties. If we know the family, we must strike mercilessly, women and children included. Otherwise, the reaction is inefficient. At the place of action, there is no need to distinguish between guilty and innocent." David Ben-Gurion, January 1, 1948 diary entry
“We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.”
— David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.
“There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”
— Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969.
“How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” — Golda Meir, March 8, 1969.
“[The Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs.”
— Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the ‘Beasts,”‘ New Statesman, June 25, 1982.
“The Partition of Palestine is illegal. It will never be recognized …. Jerusalem was and will for ever be our capital. Eretz Israel will be restored to the people of Israel. All of it. And for Ever.”
— Menachem Begin, the day after the U.N. vote to partition Palestine.
“The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the River Jordan for future generations, for the mass aliyah, and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country.”
— Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declares at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service.
“(The Palestinians) would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.”
— Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) Yitzhak Shamir in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988
“I would have joined a terrorist organization.”
— Ehud Barak’s response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for the Ha’aretz newspaper, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian.
“It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.”
— Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
These quotes are bogus bullshit. Unlike legit, real quotes that can be Googled and then found on the pages of legit newspapers and media outlets, these quotes can only be found on Arab web sites and blogs of Jew hating Americans. Find me something in the NY/LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post or any other credible journal where these quotes can be found.
Hezbollah fires rockets at Israeli civilian and infrastructural from sites next to apartment buildings. Israel pinpoints the location and fires back as well as targeting infrastructural sites (roads, bridges, power etc...). Both Hezbollah and Israeli Defense Forces know full well that the mobile Hezbollah units firing the missiles will be long gone when IDF missiles strike, and both know full well that scores of children will be murdered as a result. Both sides cynically rationalize their actions, knowing exactly what the result will be. Israel and Hezbollah are both to blame. The U.S. and Iran are aiding and abetting the carnage. The U.N. is powerless to stop it. If hawks like Ariel Sharon and Yitzhak Shamir were able to come up with other ways to punish the terrorists rather than massive bombings of Lebanese cities and towns, then surely this Israeli goverment could have found and can no find a more humane and strategically sound solution.
Go on Wilkipedia or just look at the original sources. Those are authentic quotes. You would be able to find similar vitriol spoken by Irish protestant and catholic leaders about eachother, and every other sectarian or national conflict. The words must be taken in context. Whenever someone trots out quotes or deeds by some terrorist or chauvinist leader, be it from Nasrallah's Hezbollah or Begin's Irgun you have to look at the rhetorical context. How often did we have to hear that because the PLO did not recognize Israel's "right to exist" that they could not be negotiated with. And yet Rabin did. Meaningful peace negotiations are between enemies.
Bogus, bogus bullshit quotes! Show me just ONE legit mainstream newspaper/Reuters/CNN, etc that carries these quotes. Not one shows up in a Google search except on pro-Arab/Jew-hating propaganda sites and blogs. Take your hateful crap somewhere else.
TO ANONYMOUS 8:01 pm
You have your nerve questioning a source after you quoted Ann Coulter ad nauseam
They are totally legit quotes. Go to a library. Or the Times archive online. No one disputes these quotes. An apologist will explain that in the context of the national liberation movement which was zionism and the early years of the State of Israel, these comments are understandable or even justified. Ben-Gurion said and wrote a lot of stuff on both sides of the issue. Irgun nuts like Yitzhak Shamir and Begin are another matter. Remember these guys were dyed in the wool terrorists in their day. The point is that despite the words an deeds of villains like Arafat, Anwar Sadat, Qadafi, Sharon, or even Nasrallah: peace will only come when both sides see a benefit. Right now Hezbollah and Israeli seem to prefer the status quo or worse. The problem for Lebanon is that the Israelis have the giant guns and are not squeamish about Arab civilian casualties.
The ambassador to the UN for the illegal, rogue-state, ethnic cleansing apartheid entity now occupying Palestine and Lebanon, the so-called State of Israel, Dan Gillerman mouthed off that they had "a right to cut out a cancer" to protect the patient. They couldn't "stop half-way through the operation or there would be a relapse," he said.
Respectfully, the cancer in the Middle East IS Israel. Imposed illegaly by the US and the UK, with the collusion of the UN, on land that was stolen, not paid for, this upstart "nation" has been the sole cause of all regional strife since its inception. Fully 85% of Israel's population never darken the door of a synagogue. It is a secular state. Being Jewish is irrelevant. The world does not hate them because they are Jewish. They are hated universally because they are monsters. They treat the Palestinians and the Lebanese like animals, Qana being the example again. If the world wants Middle East peace, we need to cut out the cancer: Israel.
I have little desire (or time) to respond to every post on this board, but because you spent so much time on my thoughts, I feel it only fair to respond to yours.
In turn, by paragraph.
First, where you accuse me of being “blinded by Hezbollah propaganda,” I’m not responding to their “propaganda” but to our national and international legal systems as well as the context Andy has set up for us. I have no idea what their “propaganda” states on this subject. There is a touch of a semantic argument here, but I’m also not advocating what you seem to think I am. You state: “It seems to me then, that by your logic, terrorists can act with impunity because no one can respond to them with any force.” This is, of course, not my position. As I stated above, I believe that members of Hezbollah who have committed crimes can be tried as criminals, and bringing them in may “require precise, specialized tactical units.” In order to be effective, those third-party units would have to be entrusted with the use of force, but in an ideal scenario, non-lethal force would be employed. That said, it is clear to me that what Israel (and Hezbollah) is currently doing is criminal, and much of the world seems to agree. Violence on either side is unjust and unproductive.
Of course the threat to Israel is real. No one doubts that statement.
As for quotes, if you wish, I can present more than those already documented in this board.
As it turns out, many terrorist organizations are willing to negotiate with governments. Hezbollah was even willing to call a cease-fire in order to sit down at a negotiating table a couple of days ago but Israel rejected the offer. For shame! Typically it is governments that are unwilling to negotiate. For example: “As a matter of policy, the United States does not negotiate with terrorists or criminals for any reason, nor does it make concessions to those who hold government officials or private citizens hostage, according to the Department of State’s Counterterrorism Office.” http://montevideo.usembassy.gov/usaweb/paginas/2006/06-025EN.shtml
No, Israel should not roll over and play dead, but it should cease its current attack and move to an appropriate strategy, as I’ve outlined above.
Yes, I do support international legislative bodies such as the UN. I’ve never said that I want Israel destroyed or Hezbollah praised, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing this up. Unfortunately, both Israel and Hezbollah are in violation of U.N. resolutions, and Israel is not willing to seriously discuss the current matter with the U.N., despite much pleading from the international community. That said, I do seriously ask the question: “Why should this sovereign nation have more claim than the one that was destroyed to create it?” We at least need to think this issue through. My gut feeling and moral compass suggest that an improved situation in the Middle East would involve territories that look very different from what they do now, but that’s a different topic in a different time horizon (ie I’m not going to debate this issue now, as it’s irrelevant to Andy’s question.)
As for your final paragraph, I’ve never once said that there is no threat to Israel, and I’ve never said that there isn’t a material base for this conflict. My mention of the social construction of nation-states and legitimate actors is an analytical tool that, of course, has a very real base. My main point here is that the history of this region and who is seen as “right” and “wrong” is based on a particular understanding of what constitutes a legitimate actor and what kinds of claims such actors can make. A major problem in this conflict is that the creation of Israel created groups of people with legitimate grievances who no longer had a legitimate voice. As such, those groups are now simply “the aggrieved” or, in some cases, “terrorists,” rather than “nation state citizens,” “nation states” or “nation state militaries.” Thus they have little authority or legitimacy in international political context.
I’ll respond to you again, but please read my comments more clearly. I find it considerably more interesting to debate a subject when those with whom I am debating don’t substitute their own broad generalities for what they claim is my point of view.
And, Andy, I really would appreciate hearing from you about at least the bolded section my previous post.
Frank, if I gave my thoughts on your questions yet again I'd be accused of plagiarizing my own writing. Please re-read my blog and a couple of my subsequent posts and you'll find all my thoughts on these subjects. Thanks again for readin' and writin'...
About all this insanity, please read the redacted statement below issued today by Bill Van Auken - 1 August 2006 - sorry it's a little long
Today marks the 19th straight day of Israeli’s one-sided war against the Lebanese people. This war, which has already claimed the lives of some 600 civilians and left thousands more wounded, is a joint project undertaken by the United States and Israel. Its aim is to widen and escalate the so-called “war on terrorism”—the all-purpose euphemism for US imperialism’s drive to seize control of the Middle East and its vast oil wealth as a means of asserting global hegemony.
This morning has brought yet another Israeli war crime, the worst since the attacks began. A pre-dawn Israeli bombing raid against the southern Lebanese town of Qana demolished several homes, including a four-story building that was sheltering families who had fled earlier bombings in the region. At least 57 people were killed as they slept, more than 30 of them children, with others still trapped beneath the rubble. Rescue workers said it was nearly impossible to evacuate the wounded because Israeli warplanes have bombed nearby highways and bridges.
The Israeli military issued a perfunctory statement declaring the deaths the responsibility of the victims themselves, saying that Israel had warned all Lebanese south of the Litani River to get out, and that those who stayed would be regarded as terrorists. It appears that the Zionist regime now claims a license to act on this assumption, unleashing a bloodbath that will dwarf what has taken place over the past three weeks.
The rationale for this massacre was spelled out in advance by Israel’s justice minister, Haim Ramon, who declared the following:
“What we should do in southern Lebanon is employ huge firepower before a ground force goes in. Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist and is connected to Hizbollah. Our great advantage vis-a-vis Hizbollah is our firepower, not in face-to-face combat.”
The truth of this last point had been proven in the severe losses suffered by Israeli ground troops during their limited incursion into Lebanon last week. It now appears that the “huge firepower” option is to be unleashed in a vastly intensified form before a more extensive Israeli invasion is launched.
This latest bombing has disrupted US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s diplomatic charade in the Middle East. Her trip was designed as a macabre form of shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem and Beirut, designed to give the appearance of working toward a cease-fire and expressing phony sympathy for the Lebanese, while Washington is rushing deliveries of bombs for Israel to kill more of them. In reality, Rice is working to stonewall any cessation of the bombing and give the Israelis the time they need to carry out wholesale slaughter.
The Lebanese government cancelled her trip to Lebanon. The country’s prime minister, Fouad Siniora, said he would not talk to Rice until a cease-fire is declared. “There is no place on this sad morning for any discussion other than an immediate and unconditional cease-fire as well as an international investigation into the Israeli massacres in Lebanon now,” he announced at a Beirut news conference. He referred to the Israeli regime as “war criminals.”
There may have been some concern by the Lebanese leaders that they could not guarantee the US secretary of state’s safety. News of the massacre in the south touched off rioting in Beirut. Thousands of protesters stormed the United Nations headquarters in the city, smashing offices and setting the building on fire in an expression of fury over the unwillingness and inability of the world’s governments to do anything to stop the US-Israeli aggression.
What is unfolding in Lebanon is a world historic crime and tragedy. In addition to the dead and wounded, more than three-quarters of a million people have been displaced, turned into homeless refugees. This constitutes close to one-quarter of the country’s population, and a growing humanitarian crisis threatens to claim even more lives from starvation and disease. A principal tactic of the Israeli offensive has been to use this wave of internal refugees to exert pressure on the Lebanese government and even bring about “regime change” in Beirut. This is truly terrorism on the most massive scale.
Meanwhile, the Israeli version of “shock and awe” has demolished Lebanon’s infrastructure, destroying its airports, seaports, highways and bridges as well as factories and even a dairy farm. The impoverished neighborhoods of southern Beirut have been bombed into rubble, more or less the equivalent of pulverizing large sections of the Bronx. Aid and refugee convoys flying white flags along with ambulances bearing prominent red crosses have also been targeted.
The scale and brazenness of the destruction that is being unleashed against Lebanon has little historic parallel outside of the aggression conducted by the fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini at the height of their power and insanity in the 1930s. The present conflict recalls in many ways fascist Italy’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, also justified as a response to a border incident. Likewise, the pathetic appeals of Lebanon’s Siniora for the world community to stop the dismemberment of his country resembles the futile pleas of Ethiopia’s Hailie Selassie to the League of Nations 70 years ago.
The war in Lebanon is an imperialist war. Its principal aim is to impose unrestricted US-Israeli domination over Lebanon and to create the conditions for an even wider war in the region, directed in the first instance at both Syria and Iran.
The pretext for the war—the capture of two Israeli soldiers—has been forgotten long ago by virtually everyone outside their families. They are watching along with the rest of the world in horror at the wanton devastation that is being wreaked against the Lebanese, with an absolute lack of concern over its implications for the fate of these two young men.
The pretext of “democracy”
The Bush administration has suggested, obscenely, that the war is really about spreading “democracy” throughout the Middle East. Condoleezza Rice has spoken of the carnage in Lebanon as the “birth pangs of a new Middle East.” Bush, for his part, called the killing “a moment of opportunity and a chance for broader change in the region.”
Whether the befuddled occupant of the White House comprehends the meaning of the words he mouths—or, for that matter, the extent to which he is even informed of the real policies being pursued by Dick Cheney and others who run his government—is an open question.
As is known, thanks to a microphone inadvertently left on at the G-8 Summit in St. Petersburg, he gave his servile ally Tony Blair his own solution to the Lebanese problem: “What they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing that shit, and it’s over.”
This is the same Bush who, it should be recalled, only a few short months ago was championing the Lebanese people’s “right to decide their own destiny, free of Syrian control and domination,” and who hailed the withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country as a triumph for democracy.
As for “democracy’s” supposed role in the present conflict, Washington has sought, with increasingly less success, to win the support of police state regimes and monarchies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf for the extermination of Hezbollah, a movement that has broad popular support among the impoverished Lebanese Shiites reflected in the election of its members to parliament.
And finally, as is now well known, Israel’s war on Lebanon is not the reaction to an immediate provocation on the part of Hezbollah, but rather the product of joint US-Israeli strategic planning that has been going on for several years.
The present war is in many ways the execution of the doctrine laid out in a document entitled “Clean Break: a New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” written in 1996 for the incoming Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Its authors included Douglas Feith, who became the Pentagon’s policy director in the Bush administration, Richard Perle, a top Pentagon adviser, and David Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East adviser.
The document states, in part: “An effective approach, and one with which America can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon.”
We have always separated ourselves from those elements of the petty bourgeois left—as well as those on the extreme right—who cast the policies of the present administration as the outcome of the White House and Pentagon having been hijacked by a cabal of pro-Israeli neo-conservatives.
The heart of this thesis, which in some cases draws inspiration from the putrid well of anti-Semitism, is the conception that the government in Washington represents some malignant cancer on an otherwise healthy body politic. Or that Israeli influence has somehow diverted US foreign policy. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is undeniable that the presence of such prominent right-wing Zionists at the heart of the US national security establishment is significant. But this is not a case of the Israeli tail wagging the American dog. In the current war, there is every indication that Washington is prodding Israel to continue and intensify its attacks.
The US-backed and US-financed war in Lebanon, like the US war in Iraq and the growing threats of military aggression against Iran and Syria, is the product, in the final analysis, not of the twisted ideology of the neo-conservatives—who apparently see high explosives as an all-purpose devise for social engineering—but rather the predatory strivings of the US ruling oligarchy as a whole.
The clearest proof of this is the fact that the Bush administration’s doctrine of “preemptive wars” to reshape the Middle East has been embraced not just by the Republican right, but by the entire American political establishment, including the US media and the Democratic Party.
The Democrats are going into the 2006 midterm elections, to be held in just 100 days, attempting to ignore the war in Iraq entirely. While the Iraq war is the most burning political issue confronting the American people, it does not even feature in the Democrats’ campaign program, which promises beefed up national security and tax cuts for the middle class. This peculiar silence is to be explained by the fact that the Democratic leadership supports the continued occupation of Iraq and the waging of a war against its people until US domination of the country and its oil resources is assured.
The same relative silence is reflected in the media. In his column today, Frank Rich of the New York Times cites a recent survey that shows coverage of Iraq by the major network news outlets has declined by 60 percent over the past three years. His conclusion, reflecting the demoralization gripping layers of “left” Democrats, is that things have gone so badly for the US imperialist enterprise that the American people no longer have the stomach to watch.
This, of course, can be said only of the comfortable middle class, for whom the war is a matter of television coverage. Outrage over the war within the working class—whose sons and daughters are suffering the consequences—has grown exponentially. And, as Rich himself points out, this outrage has been directed at the media for its failure to tell the truth about what is going on in Iraq.
No such silence or reticence, it should be said, applies to Israel’s war against the people of Lebanon. Democrats have sought to attack the Bush administration from the right over its alleged failure to defend Israeli interests with sufficient enthusiasm.
This reached the level of the absurd with the boycott staged by some Democrats of the speech to the joint session of Congress given by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. His offense was having joined with the entire Arab world in branding Israel’s bombing of Lebanon as criminal—a definition that fits the strictest interpretation of the Geneva Conventions. The Democrats demanded that al-Maliki declare his support for Israel and denounce Hezbollah, and suggested that the Bush White House was failing to control its puppet.
Hillary Clinton, Lebanon and “American values”
Meanwhile, as we noted, Hillary Clinton has issued statements and delivered speeches approving in advance any and all military actions Israel might take in Lebanon. In massacring women and children from the air, Israel is “standing up for American values,” Clinton declared, as well as “sending a message” to Iran and Syria.
Clinton has carved out her position as the most unconditional and slavish supporter of Israel in the US Congress. As a result, she is also the recipient of the greatest amount of campaign contributions from the Israel lobby of any US legislator.
But her position is hardly unique. Not a single voice has been raised by a prominent figure in either party to condemn the war crimes against the Lebanese people. Much less has there been any suggestion that the US should stop supplying the $3 billion in annual US funding that underpins the Israeli military machine.
This enormous expenditure of US funds to arm Israel has the same aim as the illegal war and occupation of Iraq. It is not to “defend democracy” or “defeat terrorism,” but rather to secure US domination of the Middle East and project American economic and military power throughout the world.
In the end, these policies are setting the stage for a far wider war. In Iraq itself a massive increase in violence is being prepared. The sending of an additional 4,000 US troops this week into Baghdad is both an admission of the abject failure of the occupation to pacify the Iraqi population and a preparation for a full-scale confrontation with the Shiite population in the slums of Sadr City, under conditions in which the Iraqi Shiites have grown increasingly restive over the slaughter of their co-religionists in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is preparing to pass a resolution delivering an ultimatum to Iran to cease its uranium enrichment activities by next month. While the measure does not include the threat of sanctions demanded by the US, there is little question that Washington will utilize it as a justification for escalating its own provocations against the Iranian regime, much as it employed the UN’s resolutions in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
Underlying what appears to be the insanity of the US policy of global militarism is the position of American oligarchy, confronted with growing economic challenges from both Europe and China. Washington is determined to secure its position as the world’s preeminent imperialist power by means of military force. Its strategy is to establish unchallenged control over the world’s principal oil resources, both to assure its own needs and to have the ability to place its rivals and potential rivals on energy rations. This is a path that leads ultimately to world war.
On a more fundamental level, US militarism is a reflection of the deep-going and malignant social contradictions within US society itself. The dominant layer within the ruling elite has enriched itself enormously over the past two decades through what amounts to the looting of the economy and the systematic transfer of wealth from the masses of working people to the top 1 percent. It has become dependent for its ballooning personal fortunes upon cheap wages at home and the importation of cheap raw materials. It is prepared to utilize violence to preserve both.
The label of “shock and awe” chosen by the Pentagon to describe its campaign against Iraq is now being used in relation to the Israeli campaign in Lebanon as well. This method of warfare has a dual significance. It was meant not only to suppress any Iraqi resistance, but also to “shock and awe” the American pubic and demoralize opponents of the war.
In the face of the new crimes in Lebanon, we cannot allow ourselves to be either shocked or awed. We cannot forget that the US president currently enjoys the support of less than one-third of the American population. Nor can one lose sight of the mass disaffection of the great majority of working people from both big business parties.
cracks me up how people expect to be taken seriously and objectively when they ask us to read articles that begin with this opening sentence "Today marks the 19th straight day of Israeli’s one-sided war against the Lebanese people." What's next on your recommended reading list, Mein Kampf?
Dude lets make this clear one last time. If Al Qaeda or hezbollah set off a huge explosion in your home town, just ONE bomb, you'd be calling for the US to find whatever country they're headquartered in and blow them to bits so that they couldnt do it again. Just like after 911. So please spare us the anti-isreal BS.
472 more innocent bystanders
This supposed death count of innocent civilians in Lebanon demands an answer to the question: If Hezbollah fights like cowardly women among the civilian population and next to UN observers in civilian clothing, how do we know how many of these dead are really "innocent civilians"?
Also, there is anger that Israel has been more effective in fighting. I can't believe how much anger is spewing here against Israel's accidental killing of civilians while targeting Hezbollah, while there is zero anger at Hezbollah TARGETING civilians. Not even a peep.
If the world body does not stand up to these groups that target innocent civilians, this problem will propogate until it is at your doorstep and mine. Instead the world body wastes its reputation and energy on hating Israel.
I'm sure Andy has no desire for my support, but he has done a fantastic job covering this conflict.
They are not figting "like cowardly women" but like cagey criminals. They do not play by rules of law. Criminals do not play by rules of law. This fight with "terrorists" is a fight against criminals and needs police work, world-wide networks, intelligence and some "street smarts" instead of dumb, brute force.
Below is another analysis by BVA published today linking the war in Lebanon to the overall neo-con plan, and beyond.
As the brutal US-Israeli war against the Lebanese people enters its fourth week, there is no sign that the massacre of innocent civilians is about to end. On the contrary, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), backed by air strikes and artillery fire, are pressing deeper into Lebanon, with the apparent aim of advancing 18 miles to the Litani River, either killing or driving out the entire population between it and the Israeli border.
Israeli ground forces have also entered the Bekaa Valley, near Lebanon’s border with Syria.
There is every reason to believe that the horrors of the past three weeks—the bombardments that have reduced much of south Lebanon and southern Beirut to rubble and crippled a large part of the country’s infrastructure, claiming some 700 lives, wounding thousands more and turning over three quarters of a million people into refugees—is only the prelude to an even greater slaughter. The war crime that claimed the lives of more than 60 people—most of them children—in the village of Qana is to be repeated throughout the region in the coming days and weeks.
The Israeli government has already ended the so-called 48-hour bombing moratorium declared in the wake of the Qana massacre—which it largely ignored by continuing to strike targets at will—proceeding on Wednesday morning with the resumption of a full-scale air war against Lebanon. For the first time, Israeli warplanes dropped leaflets even north of the Litani warning villagers that they too could expect to be struck by bombs and missiles if they did not flee their homes.
Witnesses in the Bekaa Valley town of Baalbek have reported that Israeli helicopter gunships bombed a hospital filled with people wounded in earlier attacks.
Israeli Trade Minister Eli Yshai, a member of the government’s security cabinet, told army radio that there was little danger that the United Nations would vote on a ceasefire this week, and even if it did, Israel would ignore it.
“Israel is not obliged to stand at attention and cease its operations if the United Nations decide on a ceasefire,” he declared. He said the Israeli government had no intention of accepting any ceasefire “except on our conditions,” and added that “our American friends will veto in such a case,” referring to Washington’s power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council to veto any resolution. He and other Israeli officials indicated that the war of aggression will continue for at least several more weeks.
The Israeli regime has every reason to be confident that its patron in Washington will continue to back its war against Lebanon. There is every indication that the Bush administration is not merely backing Israel, but prodding it to escalate its offensive until it achieves the stated aim of smashing the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement.
What has shocked world opinion even more than the savage character of Israel’s military offensive is the shameless and unqualified support Washington has provided for a war that has inflicted 30 Lebanese civilian casualties for every one suffered by Israel, and has set Lebanon as country back by decades.
Even prominent former officials of the Bush administration, such as Richard Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, and Richard Haass, the State Department’s head of policy and planning during Bush’s first term, have expressed dismay at the administration’s failure to maintain even a pretense of even-handed diplomacy.
Again and again, Bush and other top US officials have declared their opposition to an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon, calling instead for a “sustainable peace.” This means that an end to hostilities is acceptable only on the basis of the US and Israel achieving their war aims in full. Similar “ceasefires” were imposed by the Third Reich in Poland, France and elsewhere in the 1930s and 1940s.
It is by now clear to all but the willfully blind that Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers July 12 was not the cause of the present war, but merely the pretext for launching a long-planned aggression. Nor was this war simply determined by the government of Israel, with Washington providing its blessing after the fact. On the contrary, it represents an extension and deepening of the US imperialist intervention in the Middle East launched with the invasion of Iraq more than three years ago.
The aims of this war are not merely to secure Israel against Hezbollah, but to further US strategic goals in Central Asia and the Middle East, using the so-called “global war on terrorism” as the justification for a predatory policy directed at establishing Washington’s stranglehold over the oil reserves concentrated in the region. This, in turn, is seen as critical to US imperialism’s goal of achieving global hegemony.
With the Bush administration’s unqualified support for the war against Lebanon, US imperialism has dropped the democratic and pacifist pretensions with which it has historically cloaked its real objectives. War and the slaughter of innocent civilians are once again being legitimized as tools of foreign policy.
All of the talk of Bush and Cheney about “preemptive war” and “the new wars of the twenty-first century” now can be seen in their true light. The invasion of Iraq was only the beginning of a far broader utilization of military violence and terror to secure the global interests of America’s corporate and financial elite.
US support for the Israeli war against Lebanon is merely a stepping stone for future military campaigns aimed at bringing about “regime change” in Syria and Iran. Washington intends to allow no regime that poses even a potential challenge to its global ambitions to remain in power.
In the wake of the Second World War and the horrific crimes carried out by fascism and imperialism in Europe and Asia, the world’s powers formally foreswore military aggression as a means of furthering national interests. The United Nations was established, declaring in its founding charter that it would “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,” and vowing that “armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest.”
These lofty words are now a dead letter. War has once again been legitimized by the world’s premier power as an acceptable means of achieving political aims. The slaughter of innocent children is to be duly regretted in hypocritical statements to the press, but dismissed in practice as mere “collateral damage,” an inevitable and acceptable price to be paid for the realization of strategic objectives.
In a very real sense the historic clock has been turned back. The methods of international lawlessness, aggression and militarism that dominated world affairs during the 1930s, in the run-up to the Second World War, have been revived with a vengeance.
This is not merely a matter of Bush, Cheney and a cabal of “neoconservatives” imposing some deviant and reactionary policy upon the US government. The Democrats, the ostensible party of opposition, have attempted to outdo the administration in their support for Israel’s war, in some cases criticizing the administration from the right. Politicians such as Senator Hillary Clinton of New York declare their unconditional support for Israel’s “right of self-defense,” explicitly endorsing any and all actions by the Zionist regime, even as it is slaughtering women and children.
There is a no significant opposition within the American political establishment. Within the media, support for the continuation of the war is nearly unanimous. The Wall Street Journal, reflecting the views of US finance capital and the Bush administration, declared Tuesday: “We hope that, while [Secretary of State] Rice pursues diplomatic options, privately Mr. Bush is telling [Israeli Prime Minister] Olmert that Israel must finish the job he started against Hezbollah—including a ground invasion of southern Lebanon if that’s what it takes.” It added only that Israel must demonstrate “the will to prevail as rapidly as militarily possible.”
The Washington Post, just days after the Qana massacre, lamented the “predictable focus by media outlets around the world on Israel’s mistakes and excesses,” and urged a continuation of a war until victory. “The trick is determining how much of this should be left to Israel’s ongoing military campaign, how much to the international force the United Nations will be asked to authorize for Lebanon,” the Post editorial stated.
It continued by giving voice to the wider objectives of the Lebanon war: “In the coming weeks both the Iranian and Syrian governments need to hear a consistent message: A decision to cooperate in stabilizing the Middle East, from Iraq to Lebanon and Gaza, will ease their present isolation. But attempts to acquire weapons of mass destruction or wage proxy war through groups such as Hezbollah will be answered with strength, not appeasement.”
In other words, submit to US-Israeli diktat or face the same fate as Lebanon.
The major international institutions have proven absolutely impotent in opposing the US-Israeli war drive. The United Nations resembles nothing so much as the League of Nations, to which Ethiopia’s Haile Selassie appealed in vain when his country was overrun by Italian fascism in the 1930s.
The European Union confirmed the spinelessness of the European bourgeoisie when it failed Tuesday to pass a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Lebanon, instead bowing to Bush’s principal ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in opting to call for a “cessation of hostilities,” an ambiguous formulation meant to give the Israeli military weeks more to conduct its scorched-earth campaign.
The events in Lebanon have the most ominous implications for working people not only in the Middle East, but in the United States and internationally.
How long will it be before the draft is reinstated in the US and young people are dragooned into the army to fight Washington’s ever-widening wars of aggression abroad?
How long will it be before nuclear weapons are used against one of Washington’s chosen enemies—an option already proposed within the administration in relation to Iran’s nuclear program—raising the specter of a real-life Armageddon?
And how long will it be before the militarization of US society leads to the outright suspension of democratic rights, the jailing of political opponents, and the use of martial law powers against the American people?
Every day there are new indications that such a shift in the methods of rule by America’s corporate and financial elite is approaching. The mood within the US government found noxious expression at a White House press conference last Friday. Responding to an unusually aggressive question from a reporter who asked why US influence was waning in the Middle East, Bush said it was the fault of the “terrorists,” adding, “They kill innocent people to achieve their objectives... They get on TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, this, that or the other.”
The clear implication was that any journalist who questions the policies of the administration in the Middle East is an accomplice of terrorism. The logical conclusion is that they should be jailed and their publications shut down.
This follows the revelation that the Bush administration is promoting legislation that would extend the methods of Guantánamo—indefinite detention and trials by drumhead military commissions—to American citizens as well as “enemy combatants.”
As pundits and policymakers scramble to explain events in Lebanon, their conclusions are virtually unanimous: Hizbullah created this crisis. Israel is defending itself. The underlying problem is Arab extremism.
Sadly, this is pure analytical nonsense. Hizbullah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 was a direct result of Israel's silent but unrelenting aggression against Lebanon, which in turn is part of a six-decades long Arab-Israeli conflict.
Read on this Christian Science Monitor article http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p09s02-coop.html
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