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August 4, 2006

Debate
Posted by Patrick at 10:19 AM * 74 comments

Steve Gilliard reminds Billmon that despair is a luxury only some can afford.

Comments on Debate:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 11:06 AM:

I don't believe that the only solution, given the mess that W has created, is to stay the curse, er, course. I also don't believe that an immediate withdrawal of American forces will solve the problem. (Not to say that the problem is intractable, just that I don't see what the solution is.) I do know that continuing to support Israel's adventurism in Lebanon will make things worse. You want a Shi'a crescent, the best way you can achieve one is to make the Sunni see the Shi'a as victims of the Western Infidel.

What I am increasingly reminded of is events half a century ago -- the Suez Crisis, in which the British, French and Israelis all collaborated to 'solve' the problem of a hostile Arab government and the British and French ended up big losers. Is W by any chance channeling the spirit of Anthony Eden?

#2 ::: David Manhem ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:44 PM:

I wanted to point to this as an interesting lens through which to view the crisis.

I read it, and was startled to realize to what extent this war is becoming defintive of peoples beliefs. And what that means, from what I have seen in the past, is that people stop reacting to logic and fall into patterns of rehashing the same old arguements that their side always has. I realy hope the conversation here can get past that.

Of course, just this once, it may be that neither side has any motive at all to push the war any further than it has gone. And once everyone ouside the region wants it to stop, it usually does. Temporarily.

#3 ::: David Manhem ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:45 PM:

Whoops. That article is interesting, but I meant to link to this one.

#4 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:54 PM:

I just keep hearing the rule for a Just War over and over in my head: Don't start a war unless you've already won. That we're in quagmires left and right says somebody forgot some basic military strategy, or that winning was never their goal. Or maybe both.

#5 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 12:58 PM:

Um, with all due respect, I would examine anything from Mick Hume and Spike with lead-lined goggles and caliper tongs.

There are in fact entire paragraphs in that piece that I agree with, but the long and storied history of peculiar ideological machinations by the RCP/"Living Marxism"/Spiked crowd makes me reluctant to take what them at face value.

I do agree that it's almost always worth asking whether we're projecting our own domestic disputes onto the argument over what's happening somewhere else. Just as obviously, we should be open to the idea that the answer might be "no."

#6 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:20 PM:

I read that second article you linked to, David, and stopped taking it very seriously when its author basically dismissed the presence of oil in the middle East as a factor in the conflict. "Oh, yes, there's oil there too." Come on!

#7 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:24 PM:

The future is unknown.

Sure, you say; that's obvious.

Well, no, it's not. Almost no one will act as though they believe this is true. The future is expected to be a continuation of the present.

Given that there are no certain futures, there are no solutions to anything. You cannot solve a problem. All defeats are permanent; all victories ephemeral.

If this makes you depressed, turn it around; you don't have to solve the problem, because the problem can't be solved.

All you have to do is not make things worse.

Which, admittedly, can sometimes involve getting very very organized and opposing to the last nerve and sinew some folks determined to make things worse, but it's not the same thing as having to be responsible for everything.

You're not. You can't be.

You're responsible for all of what you do, I am responsible for all of what I do, and generally I think that's plenty like enough.

(Oh, and W's mess? Unfixable and so bad you have to get the US fixed, if it can be fixed, before you can worry about helping anybody else.)

#8 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:31 PM:

I'm certainly not taking Spiked at face value, but there were points in the article that I couldn't disagree with. Over the past 50 years, Israel's relationships with its neighbors have been a proxy struggle on behlaf of various parties. Arms dealers are always selling whatever technology their respetive countries will allow to one side or the other (and usually both.)

Since the beginning of its existance, Israel has been a way for other countries to work out their problems. The Soviets repeatedly attempted to dominate the power structure in the Arab world, and since the collapse of the USSR, it has been a perfect arena for the US, EU, China and Russia to have little diplomatic fights.

This isn't to say that our problems cause theirs, but that ours have a tendency to complicate theirs, and that instead of actually helping, western governments tend to push policy and score points by siding with one side or the other, and pushing this way or that, disregarding the long term needs and stability of the region.

This is true especially now, as there is a growing split between the right and the left in America and around the world, (or perhaps more accurately, an international pro- and anti-Bush movement.) We see both the Israelis and the Lebanese being forgotten during their struggle. The Israelis who need fair peace brokers, and the Lebanese who need someone to step in from the international arena to allow them to control their land. This isn't an intentional betrayal, it's a betrayal due to the growing vacuum left by the international policy rift.

And so even if we didn't cause it, we're certanly not helping very much.

And Graydon, your philosophy scares me. I really hope, when I'm in trouble or in need, that I have someone who disagrees wth you around.

#9 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Gilliard states "You want US policy to change towards Israel, we need election finance reform. Throwing up your hands about it solves nothing."

Billman stated "standing by Israel in war time is politically mandatory in a Connecticut Democratic primary"

And the news kept mentioning the 20 Democrats are the ones most strongly supporting Bush's support of Israel, and that republican politicians are opposing Bush on that.

I don't mean to be daft, but why is Israel consistently connected to the democratic party? Am I missing something? If the argument to support Israel is because we want oil from the middle east, that sounds like a Republican argument. So, why is it that Dems are supporting Israel?

I've heard arguments that Israel is the only democracy in teh middle east, so we should support them, but, I thought Lebanon was a democracy too. And one democracy beating the crap out of another sort of cancels out that argument.

#10 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Mr. London:

The problem here is that you are assuming politicians will stand by their principles instead of their voters, and their money. Liberal Conservative and Reform Jews donate significant amounts of money to the democratic party, and are dispropotionately represented in higher education, big business, etc.

The posturing on both sides of the aisle is becasue one side wants all the Jews to be in Israel to bring the Christian messiah back, and the other side wants the money from the Jews that are still here. Lebanon has neither of these signficant strings to pull.

And calling Lebanon a democracy is, while technicaly true, not fully representing the situation. They, like other middle eastern democracies - excepting Israel - are teetering on the brink of falling into radical Islamic rule. In Lebanon's case, it is dificult to believe they are independant of Iran anyways.

#11 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:04 PM:

About that Spiked article--I agree that the number of people killed in Israel and Lebanon isn't especially large as such things go, but the infrastructure damage and the difficulties of living as refugees affect a much larger number of people and I'm horrified that it was written off so easily.

#12 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:22 PM:

Liberal Conservative and Reform Jews donate significant amounts of money to the democratic party, and are dispropotionately represented in higher education, big business, etc.

I must have missed it. Why is that the democratic party, again? Higher education being Dems, I get. But "big business therefore Dems" does not compute.

Does anyone have a list of the twenty democrats who sent the letter to try and uninvite the Iraqi president?

#13 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:31 PM:

I can't find a list of the Dems who wrote the letter uninviting Maliki, and I can't find a list of which Dems boycotted his speech before the Congress, but I did find that Howard Dean called Maliki an "anti Semite" over here.

Sigh. This is depressing.

#14 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 02:56 PM:

Graydon, I'm in some agreement with "All you have to do is not make things worse." I think you have to do somewhat more than that to keep ahead of entropy, but I've been thinking lately that especially in the middle east, it's very easy to make things worse. Unfortunately, a lot of people have been doing the latter.

Formatting question: I wanted to have "clueless goobers" struck out before "people", but the strike tag didn't work. Is there any way to do strikeouts here?

#15 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 03:30 PM:

People have short memories. Israel is being led by the party that was going to try for unilateral peace under Sharon. The occupation cost too much so they were going to pull back and let the palestinians stew in their own juices without an occupation.

And now they have to show the israeli public that there can be no peace after all. The war isn't about arabs, it's about finally destroying the dangerous israeli peaceniks. Even with the peace movement in utter disarray, still a whole lot of israelis want peace. They must be shown that it is just not available.

Of course they want somebody else to occupy southern lebanon for them. They tried that before and it didn't work. The christian mercenaries they left it to ran off. The US and french troops ran away too, they had no compelling reason to die in lebanon. Maybe this time it will work. Who will occupy lebanon for israel? The turks? It doesn't really matter. The point isn't to reduce the threat, it's to show israelis that the threat cannot be reduced, that there is no choice but keep fighting.

#16 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:17 PM:

Mr. Thomas: I don't think that you fuly grasp the dynamic that is going on in Israel. Every time that Israel has made a concilatory gesture over the past 40 years, they get a negative reaction from the Palestinians and surrounding Arab states. This has lead to a dynamic where there are cyclic swings in the mood of the country between attempts at conciliation and attempts to cow the Arabs into stopping their attacks.

The latest round was an attempt to ignore the negative effects of our conciliatory gestures by simply forcing what they want (territory) on them. It was an attempt by a rght winger to usurp the left's ground and establish a majority willing to take a stand and unilaterally move towards peace. It was actually opposed by the far left as not being fair to the Palestinians, but the vast majority of the country was willing to give up territory for nothing ust to see if the Palestinians might calm down. They have not.

But in the interim, the political situation in srael shifted drastically. There is now a giant centrist party which has an unprecedented level of support in the country, and was attempting peace by fiat. It didn't work.

Now, the centrist party is trying to recover some dignity on behalf of the Israeli public. The country as a whole has decided that they haven't had a partner for peace yet, and are in the midst of moving back to the right. The current administration is not slated to leave ofice until 2010, though most governments do not last thier entire term.

In any case, even the far left organizations (like Peace Now!) are in support of the current military action. No one has to show the Israeli public anything.

#17 ::: moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:31 PM:

There is a pr war going on as well:

spiegel pr war article #1

spiegel pr war article #2

#18 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:32 PM:

David, I see no difference between what I said and what you said, except for the tone. You are agreeing with me right down the line. It troubles me that you appear not to notice this.

It's only the wording that's different. So, just as an attempt to have convicts inside a prison police themselves while the guards only prevent them from escaping might be called "freedom", you want to call the attempt to withdraw ground troops from palestine "peace".

You call continued artillery and airstrikes "conciliatory".

And yes, of course all of israel now supports further attacks. How could they not? They have seen the inevitable result of not attacking strongly enough.

The public has been shown. There can be no peace. Probably not as long as israel exists, maybe not as long as the israeli population lives in the area. Israelis believe this now.

You and I are agreed in every detail, we just call some of the details by different names.

#19 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Graydon's post brings to mind the First Law of Holes ("When you're in one, stop digging." -- Anon.). If you stop digging soon enough, you don't actually have a hole.

#20 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 05:58 PM:

there are cyclic swings in the mood of the country between attempts at conciliation and attempts to cow the Arabs into stopping their attacks.

Yes, the only possible moods are "conciliation" and "try to stop them from attacking us". Because the idea of Israel being the aggressor is unthinkable. Right.

Lemme know if you ever want to discuss reality.

#21 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:17 PM:

Mr. Thomas:
If you are correct, I certanly did not understand your post. When you said "it's about finally destroying the dangerous israeli peaceniks" I thought you were implying that there was some contingent of the Israeli public that was currently against the war with Hezbollah. It also seemed to imply that this would cause some permanent change in Israeli policy, a point furthered when you said "The public has been shown. There can be no peace."

But I don't think that's the reality - the point is that at the present moment Israel feels the need to show force, in order to (hopefully) explain, in an admittedly forceful fashion, that even though they are willing to give back land they are not willing to let their soldiers be kidnapped and their cities be bombed. Because, by the way, Israel was months away from giving back significant parts of the west bank before Hamas was elected and they kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

And, by the way, I certanly never called Israel's present bombing campaign concilliatory. (But it's a nice straw man to knock down.) I called Israel's continued negotiations, which lasted almost until we finally gave back gaza unilaterally conciliatory. I'm sorry if that was unclear. I won't be availble for further clarification until saturday night, so try not to misinterpret too much in my absence.

#22 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 06:49 PM:

And, by the way, I certanly never called Israel's present bombing campaign concilliatory. (But it's a nice straw man to knock down.) I called Israel's continued negotiations, which lasted almost until we finally gave back gaza unilaterally conciliatory.

You didn't call any specific thing concilliatory. You simply said "Every time that Israel has made a concilatory gesture over the past 40 years, they get a negative reaction" which leads to "cyclic swings in the mood of the country between attempts at conciliation and attempts to cow the Arabs into stopping their attacks."

I'm sorry if misinterpreted the words you wrote, that Israel has been nothing but conciliatory and gotten attacked for it every time for the last 40 years, rather than getting the meaning you intended,which ... well, I'm not sure what you intended. How would you describe Israel's current bombing campaign against Lebanon?

#23 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 07:43 PM:

David Manheim --

I misdoubt me very much you understood what I was trying to get at, there, if you find the finity of responsibility frightening.

The problem with a resort to force is that force cannot achieve political objectives. (Buy time or establish conditions to persue political objectives, yes. Achieve them itself, no.)

Defeat may be distinguished from destruction by noting that defeat happens in the other person's head; destruction happens to their material person (or effects or chattels).

Defeat can be a political objective; all it takes is convincing people that they're powerless, after all, and anything repeated often enough becomes true, but force can't get you that.

Destruction isn't particularly difficult, either; burn the barns and granaries just after harvest, poison the wells, break roads and bridges, and wait.

Getting to the point where you could do that is often more work, but that's something force can get you, and the objective of most of the history of warfare, and the traditional motivation for surrender -- not starving in the freezing dark. (Or the dry dark, or even some places the clammy, wet, clinging, rotting dark.)

Any experience with defeat, any observation of defeat, tends to focus the mind on it, tends to invoke a great deal of fear about that might happen to me, but fear, well, fear makes you stupid. If you have an axiom that there's nothing to be afraid of or that fear makes you unworthy or unmanly or similar, fear makes you really stupid.

So, in the tension between defeat and destruction, as variously imagined or experienced by the fearful, you get a peculiar mess, where there's an awareness that achieving the utter destruction of your enemies constitutes your own defeat -- even if you can live with yourself, nobody else can, or will, anyone who dislikes you suddenly has an excuse to cause you all the harm they can or care to, and you, well, you aren't going to be a good person anymore, are you? -- and the awareness that the defeat -- convincing them that it's in their best interest to give up -- of your enemies isn't possible, and if you can't defeat them and you can't destroy them, why, surely they shall destroy you.

The options at this point are to repudiate civilization, and declare that good and honorable people slaughter their enemies unto the least and last -- I have wondered if much of Cheney's objective isn't to return the United States to a state of naked barbarism, to make this category of objective unobjectionable -- or to notice that, yes indeed, fear has made you really, really stupid.

Victory and defeat aren't linked in any binary way; all parties to a conflict can be defeated, or all can achieve victory, or you can get some horrific muddle (War of 1812, anyone?) of an outcome.

To pursue the defeat of your enemies is not to pursue your own victory. They're not necessarily even connected.

Which is what is wrong, on the Talleyrand -- "worse than wrong, it is a mistake" -- level of things with both Israel's present action and the present US administration's actions; they're the sort of culpable, feckless idiots who are seeking to defeat their enemies rather than achieve victory. They're completely oblivious to the possibility of victory, which means that they're incapable of imagining one.

Which is a great reason to chuck them out and replace them with someone who can imagine a victory, if such persons can be found.

#24 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Steve Gilliard reminds Billmon that despair is a luxury only some can afford.

Foolish hope is a luxury none can afford.


#25 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 04, 2006, 10:43 PM:

As They Might Be Giants said, alienation's for the rich, and we're feeling poorer every day.

#26 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 12:24 AM:

"They're completely oblivious to the possibility of victory, which means that they're incapable of imagining one."

This also, I think, applies to their Arab opponents. Both sides seem to me to have arrived at a state where they no longer believe they can win, and so do all they can to hurt the other side instead.

#27 ::: piranha ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 03:10 AM:

billmon is a pessimist. gilliard is an optimist. i'm a pragmatist -- i don't know what will happen, and i don't flatter myself that i can actually soothsay a situation as complex as the one in the middle-east. but i see no reason to let that keep me from doing my damndest that things don't go totally to pieces around me.

yes, i am starting to wonder whether the collective efforts by those of us who've been trying to make things better bit by bit in our small burgs won't be trampled again by those who have grand visions of domination. they do tend to trample everything once they get started, and i'm with billmon in hearing the hoofbeats of large war horses, larger than this particularly foolish action israel has undertaken. i admit surprise; i didn't expect them to go bananas all of a sudden, because overall things were looking up, however miniscule. i would have thought if i can see that, they can see that. but apparently not. i am not quite ready for conspiracy theories; i refuse to let bush and co's hybris turn me into a consumer of large quantities of tinfoil. and yes, fear can make you stupid, fear of weakness can make you overcompensate with extra machismo, so maybe that's all there is to it. now that it's started, and that the plan does seem to be to flatten lebanon, i see many possibilities, almost all of them worse than what we had a few weeks ago. and i see too few people with any power stand up and say "STOP". it's way past time to do that, regardless of what the feckless US administration says. my own government has handed bush an asswipe made from a canadian flag, *spit*.

still, billmon didn't exhort people to throw up their hands and refuse to vote. he was just telling them that it might not be enough, and that their party of choice is not exactly waving a large banner of progressive dreams. but americans don't like pessimists, do they; they make them feel bad about themselves. *wry grin*.

#28 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 03:46 AM:

And calling Lebanon a democracy is, while technicaly true, not fully representing the situation. They, like other middle eastern democracies - excepting Israel - are teetering on the brink of falling into radical Islamic rule. In Lebanon's case, it is dificult to believe they are independant of Iran anyways.

These three sentences are complete crap.

Before the war, Hizbullah had been playing the parliamentary game, throwing up any obstacles it could find in the way of an emerging consensus that its militant arm was a real obstacle to dealing with a lot of Lebanon's other problems (none of which seem particularly serious any more). They were able to play a blocking role in politics, some of the time. Nothing more.

Of course, now there are opinion polls showing 80% support for "the resistance". I wonder what could have changed since then.

#29 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 04:08 AM:

I'm seeing a lot played out about this conflict in the letters pages of the local daily here in Western Australia, and some of it scares me. There appear to be two sides forming, and opinion is rapidly becoming polarized one way or the other. On the one side, there's the "Israel is never wrong" crowd, who argue that the Israelis have the right to invade a foreign country and undertake armed conflict with foreign nationals (apparently without even attempting resolution through diplomatic means) to retrieve some of their troops. Of course, Hizbollah aren't entitled to pursue the same thing to retrieve their leaders from Israeli jails, because Hizbollah are terrorists. This is the argument which gets thrown at anyone supporting the other side, or who dares to question whether perhaps the Israeli government wasn't perhaps over-reacting a little?

Again, it comes back to that fraught issue of defining the term "terrorist". In this case, "terrorist" appears to mean "someone who takes an Israeli soldier captive" or possibly "someone who tries to stop the Israeli army from going where they want to in Lebanon". Now, call me a bit odd, but if the situations were reversed I'd say the Western nations would be even *more* gung-ho in their support of Israel to fight off "foreign aggression". It's unfortunate that Lebanon doesn't have similarly powerful friends.

As my younger brother puts it - we're re-running the eighties. Same music, same fashions... same wars.

#30 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 05:49 AM:

And calling Lebanon a democracy is, while technicaly true, not fully representing the situation. They, like other middle eastern democracies - excepting Israel - are teetering on the brink of falling into radical Islamic rule. In Lebanon's case, it is dificult to believe they are independant of Iran anyways.

Because it is only a democracy if they elect the Right People, who will willingly apply the vaseline to their populations' arses.

It isn't a democracy if they pick the Wrong People. No, it is a merely a `technical' democracy, `teetering on the brink', and probably really run by a country which has already gone over said brink anyway.

This is true especially now, as there is a growing split between the right and the left in America and around the world, (or perhaps more accurately, an international pro- and anti-Bush movement.)

Yeah, because the whole world revolves around Washington DC. It doesn't.

Looking at David Cameron, I'd say that the Right is getting lefter in the UK. Certainly, I don't see how you can have a world in which Tony Blair is leading the Labour Party, a world where Clause IV was repealed, as one where left and right are getting more opposed in general. Unless you mean that Cameron is, in fact, in bed with Gorgeous George.

Your statement may be true of the US. It isn't true of the world.

You have a very US-centric world view. Democracies should elect pro-US candidates; the rest of the world doesn't get politics of its own, just a shadowy extension of the American sort.

The world isn't like that; we're not just the sad reflection of America you make us out to be.

#31 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 07:26 AM:

Looking at the history, I can't see how anyone can make a new deal with Israel and expect it to stick.

#32 ::: Jennifer Pelland ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Actually, Despair has several rather reasonably-priced products.

Oh, wait. Sorry. I misread.

#33 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:21 AM:

Graydon: IMO, the future is less likely to be an extension of the present than a rehash of the past (as others have already suggested). U.S. foreign policy can be summed up pretty accurately by the phrase "repeating the same experiment while expecting different results".

Or possibly, "When you came in here, didn't you have a plan for getting out?"

(*waves at Jennifer Pelland*)

#34 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 10:22 AM:

Keir:

Yes. Was I the only one who was baffled at the widepsread shock and dismay when Palestinians gave Hamas a big victory in their election? Palestinians overwhelmingly hate Israel (with some cause, though I'm not smart enough to untangle that mess of fault and counter-fault). Given a reasonably fair election, they elected candidates who agreed with them. How could this be a shock?

But then, I also didn't expect the Iraqis to greet our troops with candy and flowers. What do I know?

#35 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 10:53 AM:

Listening to the discussion on the News Hour last night, I was struck by the fact that Israel and Hezbolah have such different success conditions that they can really both think they're winning.

Israel wants to flatten Hezbolah, because they want to eliminate a threat. I suspect they were very unpleasantly surprised by the number and quality of the missiles Hezbolah had, and that's largely behind the decision to go in and clobber everything they can.

Hezbolah wants to win enough respect from Israel and the surrounding Arab countries to remain important after the inevitable military defeat. They presumably expect to be able to recover from the defeat because of the extra prestige they've won from doing as well as they have, and from the fact that the IDF has been running a wonderful recruiting drive for them.

Most of the Lebanese people caught in the middle are well and truly screwed. Their sympathies are largely with Hezbolah, who is willing to see them die in large numbers while all their material goods are blown to bits by the IDF. The IDF would rather not kill them, for public relations reasons. (If I were Lebanese, I'd be thanking God for CNN five times a day about now, though. If there were no TV cameras around, things would be far bloodier.) The Lebanese government should be trying to defend them, but it probably couldn't have beaten Hezbolah, and would have no prayer against the IDF, so mainly what it does is ask stronger powers to step in and stop this. Since none of those powers that could stop it care all that much if a bunch of random foreigners get killed, this isn't all that effective. (If Israelis were getting killed in these numbers, we'd probably be involved.) Yes, we're terribly sorry about the sad developments in your country. No, we don't really want to send our army to stand between the IDF and Hezbolah while the missiles and artillery shells are flying. No, we don't really want to try to occupy Southern Lebanon when the missiles and artillery shells drop down to one or two a week, and the truck bombs and suicide bombers are in full swing, either. Thanks for the thoughtful invitation, though.

Everyone seems to imagine that there are going to be foreign soldiers to occupy the Hezbolah dominated region of Lebanon. Given that we're a bit busy in Iraq, where are they going to find anyone dumb enough to stick their d--k into that sausage grinder?

#36 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 09:21 PM:

"Everyone seems to imagine that there are going to be foreign soldiers to occupy the Hezbolah dominated region of Lebanon. Given that we're a bit busy in Iraq, where are they going to find anyone dumb enough to stick their d--k into that sausage grinder?"

I tend to think it will be us doing it. Lebanon is a tiny place compared to iraq, it wouldn't take that many soldiers. And our guys have a lot of experience with suicide bombers and such now, we aren't taking many casualties from it, we wouldn't take many in lebanon either.

Tyre would be a big deal. Probably the easiest thing would be to leave Tyre unoccupied, but put checkpoints on all the roads to disrupt traffic. The harder it is to get things in or out, the more the local economy will collapse and the more people will leave. Eventually the city can be declared a terrorist hotbed and destroyed.

Technically it isn't any big challenge. Politically and diplomatically it would be another big embarrassment, but we could brazen it out. As long as our debts don't get called in we're the world's only superpower and nobody can tell us what to do or what not to do. Until something changes it doesn't matter what the rest of the world thinks.

The concern is when things will change. Hard to imagine them changing for the better for the USA. I remember reading John Barnes's _Orbital Resonance_ where a US veteran mentioned that he'd gotten home from the middle east on a chilean ship because the USA wasn't able to get its own people out of there, and back in those days it seemed hard to imagine.

Well, considering what was hard to imagine then versus now, maybe I'm wrong again and things will start looking up after all.

#37 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 10:42 PM:

Lila --

IMO, the future is less likely to be an extension of the present than a rehash of the past (as others have already suggested).

You can only get a rehash of the past if no one is having learning experiences. It's pretty clear that everyone else has been having plenty of learning experiences.

I am made profoundly concerned by the prospect of the United States working to achieve defeat of an enemy that does not actually exist; when the current mess started, it was just possible that someone was being much smarter than they seemed, but that's not a plausible hypothesis at this time.

Victory is a tough thing to achieve; you have to, simultaneously, frustrate the purposes of your enemies, retain an awareness of the constraints on means employable without creating your own facultive defeat, and retain a clear sense of purpose toward achievable ends, rather than easily comprehended ends or easily accomplished ends.

This is tough; it's flat impossible to get it by accident, and there's no least trace that anyone is working toward any kind of victory for the United States. (Working to reduce the USG to something incapable of telling anyone that they have to accept a black man as their equal, regard women as people, enable class mobility, or protect the weak from the rapacity of their masters, oh yes, and the folks doing that work would call it victory, but even Thomas chattel-fucking Jefferson wouldn't call that a victory.)

U.S. foreign policy can be summed up pretty accurately by the phrase "repeating the same experiment while expecting different results".
Or possibly, "When you came in here, didn't you have a plan for getting out?"

US foreign policy since the end of the combined Hitler's War/Great Pacific War can be summed up quite well as 'forced market access'; the current round of aggressive wars is a marked departure from all previous US policy.

And no, there was pretty obviously never a plan for getting out; the geo-strategic move looks like it was aimed at China, and the messy details of permanent conquest, well, those seem to have been forbidden in stern tones from being messy as though that would accomplish much.

#38 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 05, 2006, 11:42 PM:

J Thomas:

But we can't possibly be a neutral force. Israel is one of our closest allies. Us going into Lebanon will correctly be seen by the Lebanese as us occupying them on Israel's behalf. That doesn't make any sense at all. (I wish that meant it wouldn't happen....)

Beyond that, a US presence anywhere in the Middle East that's critical for peace there is a disaster waiting to happen, because when Bush leaves the white house, the next president is going to be under a great deal of pressure to pull us out of Iraq. Are we really going to keep a position in Lebanon after that, while we're suffering a couple deaths per week?

#39 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:08 AM:

OK, so Iím going to try to clarify what I said about Lebanon not being a real democracy. I didnít explain what I meant, and I understand why people dislike what I said. Iíll start with a parallel, which I think is fairly close. (Iíll even leave Hitler out of this.) The Palestinians had a choice, decades ago, voting for or against Arafat, but once he was elected, he was there for life. (Similar coups occurred in many other new democracies, including many in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Eastern Europe over the last 100 years. Iím not going to claim a majority of historically recent dictatorships and fascist governments were created like this, but itís a significant number.)

A similar dynamic exists with any sufficiently radical party. Once a radical group gains enough power, they change the system from a democracy to, in this case, a theocracy. Itís irrelevant that they are originally elected democratically, because the point of a democracy is not to give the citizens a one shot chance to choose their leaders for life, it is to make the leaders responsible to the public.

If you think that Hezbollah is ďplaying the parliamentary game,Ē why do they maintain the only sizable army in the country, and hold a fiefdom in southern Lebanon? If they were only ďable to play a blocking role in politics,Ē what exactly is kidnapping a pair of Israeli soldiers in an attack not precipitated by any move by Israel against them? There is a significant difference between a democracy and what anti-democratic parties in emergent democracies seem to do.

#40 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:08 AM:

David, Hizbullah's control of the south was a "fact on the ground" established over the twenty years of Israeli occupation, and confirmed when Israel withdrew, leaving them as the sole power in that region. Changing these kinds of "facts on the ground" without violent conflict requires a fairly drawn-out political process, and Lebanon was not in a position to even begin the process until 2005, thanks to Syrian hegemony & Syrian desire to keep the Israeli-Lebanese border "warm" as a way of trying to ultimately get the Golan back.

This long, slow political process at the time was under way, partially because the "international community" was holding debt relief over Lebanon's head as a way of motivating change. But there were also a lot of other issues that had to be dealt with (chief among them the fact that the office of the presidency was and is still held by a man with the most dubious of constitutional mandates), and the political elites had every reason to think that Hizbullah's arms were not an immediate crisis.

Over the last 6 years, there have been a series of low-level crises along that border which somehow failed to escalate. But they were all minor in extent, and I have not seen a convincing argument (here's an unconvincing one) that this one would have escalated if Israel had continued to respond with the same tit-for-tat approach that they'd been using for the past six years. It was obviously not a good situation, but, like I said, not an apparently immediate crisis, either.

As an aside, I'm a bit disturbed by the tendency to treat Israel's reaction to the kidnapping of its soldiers as if it were a tropism, a tendency I've seen on both sides of the debate. Seems to me that Israel's leaders are rational moral agents and deserve to be treated as if they have responsibility for their own actions.

#41 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:44 AM:

Meg:

Could you give me a list of Hizbollah leaders in Israeli prisons? A name of one Hizbollah leader in an Israeli prison?

I'll give you a quick hint -- there aren't any.

#42 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 05:04 AM:

Albatross, there can't possibly be a neutral force occupying southern lebanon.

The only way a foreign force occupying southern lebanon would be acceptable to israeli is if it suppresses Hizbollah. If Hizbollah surrenders and disarms and ceases to be a military force, then that is an israeli victory and is acceptable to israel. If Hizbollah continues to try to fight but a foreign force kills them before they can attack israel, that is also acceptable. A neutral foreign force is not acceptable.

An actual neutral foreign force would occupy, say, the southern 15 miles of lebanon and would go to great lengths to disarm the area. They would remove the israeli minefields and prevent missiles etc from entering their buffer zone. They would also occupy the northern 15 miles of israel and would go to the same lengths to disarm that area. They would not allow armed israelis in. And they would enforce a no-fly zone over the areas they occupied plus a long area in the mediterranean etc. Israeli warplanes that approached lebanon would be shot down.

But of course this is a ridiculous idea. The whole point of a foreign force occupying southern lebanon is to get resistance suppressed without israel having to do that occupation. Israel will be able to launch airstrikes and cruise missiles and predators and commando raids into lebanon at will, but Hizbollah would not be allowed to hit back at all. That's the kind of occupation force that's being discussed, isn't it? One that can prevent Hizbollah from unprovoked aggression so that israel will not be forced to retaliate.

The israelis are giving the impression, without actually stating it completely unambiguously, that if a "peacekeeping" force comes into southern lebanon and fails to fully suppress Hizbollah, the IAF will be quite willing to bomb them along with Hizbollah.

Under the circumstances, who could we possibly get to do it but us? What could we offer, say, the turks that would get them to do that suppression for israel? Maybe india would send troops? Brazil?

We're the ones with the armor and the body armor. We're the ones who have a lot of experience recognising IEDs and stopping potential car bombs at checkpoints and when our guys are on the road. Get soldiers in there who don't have that experience and they're likely to hesitate. They see women and children in the car and they give them a chance to stop. We have the training and the experience, we shoot before they get close. Rough on civilians but it stops the car bombers.

We know how to run a hostile occupation better than anybody in the world just now, except possibly the russians. We're experienced at it. We could occupy lebanon taking minimal casualties. And we know how to keep the journalists out. Journalists are a big nuisance in a hostile occupation, but when they think it's too dangerous they stay away.

Nobody else is willing or able to do the job. If anybody's going to occupy lebanon for israel, it's going to be us.

#43 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:57 AM:

Alter: if there aren't any Hezbollah leaders in prison it is because Israel tends to murder them instead, as they did with various Hamas leaders or even, you know, prominent Palestinian novelists.

David: if Lebanon isn't a democracy, Israel certainly isn't, just like South Africa wasn't under Apartheid.

Coming back to the original topic of this thread, Gilliard may be right that a Democratic government would care for diabled vets, but it is a bit fucking pointless if that same government is still enthusiastically making sure there will be more disabled vets to take care off.


#44 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:27 AM:

Martin:

Hence, neatly explaining why there aren't any Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

#45 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:01 AM:

Mr. Scudder: I never said that the problems in Lebanon would never be fixed if left on their own. I said that they were a "technically [a] democracy ... teetering on the brink of falling into radical Islamic rule." Otherwise, I agree with you, but there is another point here.

Every time Israel fails to respond to terrorist tactics, the tactics continue. Every time Israel responds, the terrorists are emboldened. Short of disbanding and sending everyone back to Europe, as Ahmadinejad has suggested, what do you want Israel to do?

This crisis would not have escalated if Irael had not responded, but more attacks would have followed in the near future. I dispute your claim that there have been six yeears of low level crises. When I was in the Golan heights, I was told that the north was the safest part of Israel over the past decade, and that they had not needed their bomb shelters since before Israel left Lebanon.

This was a tentative foray into Israel by a terrorist organization where no response was expected. To preserve Israel's reputation in the world as a country that protects its citizens, they responded in force, and not proportionately. Israel has a motive to bee seen as a bully in the region, because every time it makes concesions, it gets hit harder, and every time it hits back too hard, it gets UN resolutions passed against it. Which would you think they prefer?

And Mr. Wisse: In South Africa, citizens were enslaved and denied voting rights. 10 years ago, I would have had trouble countering your claims about Israel, but today not only does every Israeli citizen, Arab or Jew, have a vote, but Palestinians get to vote in their own elections, in their own territory, as well.

#46 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:35 AM:

And Mr. Wisse: In South Africa, citizens were enslaved and denied voting rights. 10 years ago, I would have had trouble countering your claims about Israel, but today not only does every Israeli citizen, Arab or Jew, have a vote, but Palestinians get to vote in their own elections, in their own territory, as well.

Citizens were enslaved in South Africa? Do tell, please.

To have a right to vote and to have an effective vote are rather different things. I wonder if an Israeli Arab would feel that s/he had an effective vote.

#47 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:05 AM:

"Every time Israel fails to respond to terrorist tactics, the tactics continue. Every time Israel responds, the terrorists are emboldened. Short of disbanding and sending everyone back to Europe, as Ahmadinejad has suggested, what do you want Israel to do?"

Learn to live with getting attacked. It will happen for the foreseeable future, as long as there's an israel.

Whether or not you hit palestinian or lebanese or jordanian civilians. Whether or not you hit syria or iraq or iran. Whether or not you send terror squads into europe to kill or intimidate palestinian expatriots. Whether or not you keep palestine as a helot state. The attacks will continue. There's no peace for israel short of genocide. Because the concessions israel would have to make to get peace are more than israel will accept.

But the good news is that these attacks are something israel can easily live with, apart from the media attention and the hysteria. The level of war that any combination of arabs can wage is just not that significant. As long as israel is in the middle east, every israeli over the age of 16 will remember somebody they met personally who got killed by terrorists. That's just a part of living in israel, and it's something israel can live with. If it makes you feel better to kill ten times as many arabs or a hundred times as many in revenge, nobody can stop you. It won't bring anybody back but you might feel better.

Israel cannot avoid a whole lot of hatred, and can't avoid attacks, but there can't be a really serious attack on israel until arabs inevitably get nukes. At that point it will be time to do some serious diplomacy. There's no real need to negotiate now, since no arabs can make you a significant offer or a significant threat. Just pretend to negotiate enough to keep the americans off your back. But when arabs inevitably start getting nukes then you'll need brilliant diplomats. But that's years and years away.

In the meantime, like the cliche goes, you can make lemonade. If you had peace, your US support would evaporate. We only give you stuff because you keep defending yourself against hyped-up attacks. You might as well milk us for all you can get. Spend it before it depreciates.

You guys get the best of our military technology, and you can sell it to whoever has the money (except arabs). That's a gold mine right there. And you get a lot of our intelligence secrets; they have great resale value too. Your military hardware is widely regarded as among the best and you don't make a lot of bother about humanitarian reasons not to make the sale. And israeli mercenaries are among the best. If you can't build a great war economy out of all that then there's something wrong with israeli business sense.

So it isn't all bad. If life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Or if you prefer another metaphor, if life hands you shit, make sandwiches and share them with your enemies.

#48 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:08 AM:

David,

Israel had more-or-less reached a modus vivendi with Hizbullah over the previous six years. Not the happiest, and the kind of modus which led to a few people being less vivendi over the years, but nevertheless. Within the unwritten rules of that understanding, their response ought to have been an airstrike or two somewhere in southern Lebanon (which would have been replied to by a small number of rockets), followed by a resumption of the previous situation.

To get their soldiers back, they could have either (a) gone ahead and traded the guys they have (most of whom seem to be Lebanese who'd snuck over the border to fight for the Palestinians somehow) or (b) relied on the US to push diplomatically for the two soldiers' release - the US, after all, has considerable leverage over Lebanon through the IMF thanks to Lebanon's runaway debt issues. This might have left Hizbullah in an uncomfortable situation and handed its domestic opponents a fair amount of leverage, or (c) said, "fuck it" and written them off, which I recognize would be nearly impossible, politically, for Israel to do.

Not a happy situation. Not an ideal situation.

But a situation a whole hell of a lot better for all concerned (except for Hizbollah) than what has actually happened.

#49 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:29 AM:

Tom:

There aren't Lebanese who've snuck over the border to fight for the Palestinians somehow.

There's one guy.

There's another guy who the Israelis say is dead but who Hezbollah says isn't, and there's an Israeli Arab who got 25 years in prison for spying for Hezbollah.

That's it.

It's possible I'm wrong, of course. But this isn't the sort of thing that Hezbollah would let Israel get away with hushing up. The three people I've mentioned certainly have their share of representation on the internet and in other media. So if there are other Lebanese people being held in Israeli prisons, by all means, name names.

#50 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:48 AM:

There's four guys, apparently (one of whom may or may not be in an Israeli jail somewhere). Here's the list.

#51 ::: Davdi Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:30 PM:

They seem to claim that Israel is responsible for 250 missing Lebanese, in addition to the 4 they have named. Of course, Israel captured Samir Kuntar in the commission of a terrorist act, and Nasim Nesser is an Israeli citizen. One of the others Israel denies having. Ron Arad, however, was detained against the Geneva convention after his plane went down, and the two most recent capives were captured after a raid into Israel which was unprovoked, due to Nasrallah's continued statements urging kidnapping Israelis in order to trade for hostages.

#52 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Lebanese have as much right to try to get israel to release an israeli citizen as israelis do to try to get the USA to release Jackson Pollock.

#53 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Lebanese have as much right to try to get israel to release an israeli citizen as israelis do to try to get the USA to release Jackson Pollock.

Jackson Pollock is slightly dead. I think you mean Jonathan Pollard.

#54 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:22 PM:

Now I want to start a "Release Jackson Pollock" campaign.

#55 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 05:26 PM:

Tom:

Lo, I say, It's possible I'm wrong, and it comes to pass. All the same, I'm still going to argue that I'm not that wrong -- it's the three people I've mentioned, plus someone I hadn't heard of.

#56 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:54 PM:

Lebanese have as much right to try to get israel to release an israeli citizen as israelis do to try to get the USA to release Jackson Pollock.

Jackson Pollock is slightly dead. I think you mean Jonathan Pollard.

Ah. This is no longer the complete non sequitur I thought it was.

#57 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:10 PM:

And, Mr. Scudder, of the options you have laid out, it may be that your discounted third one, of lying down and ignoring the problem, is the most realistic.

I will tackle the idea of US sanctions on the Lebanese debt first. Lebanon has the highest debt of any country in the world, at $26 billion, and growing about $1.5 billion a year. They also have one of the less stable governments. The more monetary pressure that is put on the Lebanese government from the west, the more likely it is that Hezbollah will have a disproportionate representation, due to their ability to leverage Iranian and Syrian funds to win support. Both their banking and their tourism industries had gone to hell before the current conflict, and many of the rest were not faring well. The country is reliant on foreign donations to pay down its debt. The US is not in a position to push Lebanon thusly, as it's not a useful move to strengthen Hezbollah.

The question of trading hostages is an interesting one. Given that Israel responds very strongly to kidnappings, the goal is to discourage them. In fact, as we are seeing, the Israeli public is much more accepting of the certainty of military losses than they are of the uncertainty and fear posed by having someone captured. Additionally, there is a significant reason to doubt the efficacy of such trades, since Nasrallah has publicly stated that he will kidnap Israelis in order to have bargaining chips. This is especially worrisome because there are reasonably high profile Israeli communities all over the world. At least ignoring the captives wouldnít incentify further kidnappings.

#58 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:52 PM:

David, israeli strategy currently is unworkable because they try to assert that they are all-powerful. Sort of a regional superpower. As a result, any little self-destructive action by any group of arabs jerks them around, because the assumption is that they are or should be so powerful that no opposition can take place.

If israelis were to accept that israel is just another middle-east nation, they would be winners.

So for example, israeli hostages are considered far more valuable than arab hostages. That's what gets arabs to try to take israeli hostages. So OK, if israel is just another middle-east nation then israeli hostages aren't such a big deal. They take israeli hostages, israel takes their hostages. Trade one for one. Hizbollah captures israeli soldiers, israel can easily capture some hisbollah soldiers and trade them. Just no big deal at all. Hizbollah takes israeli civilian hostages? Israel takes hizbollah civilian hostages, and offers to trade one for one. You just accept that living in israel means there's a chance you'll get taken hostage. Live with it.

Hizbollah shoots inaccurate rockets at israel? It isn't really a big deal. How much do those rockets cost, it could hardly be less than $50,000 each. How much damage do they do? On average, surely less than $50,000. Ignore it. Shoot rockets back, maybe better-aimed ones if you can figure out where to aim. Otherwise cheap ones, and just don't worry about it. Living in israel means there's a slight chance you'll get blown up by a rocket. Just live with it.

Etc. If you think of israel as a middle-east nation, they're doing fantastically well. They have nukes, nerve gas, biological weapons, and the strongest army in the whole region. They kick ass. They can beat any combination of other airforces in the area, and bomb any arab city they want. They can destroy any arab nation's navy and civilian shipping and ports. They can knock out the electric power anywhere they like. They are completely on top. None of their enemies can do more than nuisance attacks.

It's only when they believe that they're supposed to be so strong that none of their enemies can do anything whatsoever to hurt them that they have a problem.

#59 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:59 PM:

David: that even though they are willing to give back land they are not willing to let their soldiers be kidnapped and their cities be bombed.

A number of people here have addressed the philosophical issues you've raised.

I'll take a different slant: you have lied twice in a single sentence.

First, Israel has made it clear that it will not under any circumstances return to its legally-recognized borders. I'm not familiar enough with the late-Clinton-era proposed maps to judge whether the resulting Palestinian state would have been viable or a bantustan (not to mention the permanent land grab represented by the wall Israel is building) -- but so long as Israel refuses to put all captured lands in the balance it has no position to demand complete peace.

Second, Hezbollah did not capture soldiers and missile (not bomb) Israeli cities. Israel replied with massively disproportionate force to the capture of soldiers, deliberately doing its best to destroy Lebanon as a civil society (just as, not coincidentally, one of its first acts against Gaza was to destroy a power plant); Hezbollah missiles followed this response. The unwillingness of most media in the U.S. to make this clear has not helped the current crisis, because it has allowed Bush, Rice, et al to continue to make useless or actively destructive noises while the bombing proceeded.

#60 ::: Keir ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 12:27 AM:

Both their banking and their tourism industries had gone to hell before the current conflict, and many of the rest were not faring well.

The tourism industry was going well enough until 20-odd days ago. Wonder what happened?

#61 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:43 AM:

David,

Both their banking and their tourism industries had gone to hell before the current conflict

This is just plain wrong (assuming you aren't using 1974 as your baseline).

#62 ::: David Manheim ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:12 PM:

CHip: I'm wondering what you are thinking.

The state of Israel will never return to it's internationally recognized borders? Are you sure? Because before this last intifada, (Those negotiations you said you don't know much about,) Israel offered upwards of 95% of the pre-67 border, including Jerusalem, with a land swap for the remaining amount of land with additional land to make up the fact that they would not be getting the original land back, and contiguity in both Gaza and the West Bank, with safe passage between them guaranteed (Assumng that Israel had safe passage for it's citizens who would be cut of by the contiguous Palestinian territory.) Israel was ready to negotiate some form of payments in lieu of the right of return, without using that phrase.

The talks ended with agreement. An Intifada started. Some blame Israel, others Palestinians, but everyone seems to agree that until that point, Israel was willing to abide by the negotiations as a place to begin final status negotiations. In return, Israel awaited a temporary cessasion of violence, as a show of willingness to cooperate on the part of the Palestianians. They got an Intifada. And Israel gave back Gaza anyways. Without any guarantees.

In the second part, I don't know the reason to make a semantic diferentiation between bombing and missile-ing. Maybe you can clarify.

(I guess I could have altered Wikipedias definiton, so you'll have to trust me, but I was happt with their definition. "A bomb is an explosive device, usually some kind of container filled with explosive material, designed to cause destruction when set off. The explosion of the bomb has to be triggered, usually by a clock, a remote control, or some kind of sensor, usually pressure (altitude), radar, or contact.")

And Mr. Thomas: To be a normal middle eastern nation, Israel would be giving alot of things up. I guess that's a fair trade off, because those Zionists always wanted to blend in. I guess the price of being "a nation aong nations" is giving up some of that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

#63 ::: Steven Brust ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:34 PM:

Some here may be interested in this:
http://wsws.org/articles/2006/aug2006/koso-a07.shtml

#64 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:46 PM:

The ultimate goal: ethnic cleansing, and the replacement of the local population with settlers mobilized by the regime.

I saw something on the history channel about ancient Rome. In the beginning, Romans were always viewing their neighbors as being aggressors against them, so the Romans would preemptively attack them, roll them into the population, and expand their borders. The problem was that this gave them new neighbors, which the Romans viewed as aggressors, so the Romans would preemptively attack them, roll them into the population, and expand their borders. Apparently, this went on for a long, long time before the Romans stopped kidding themselves that they were launching defensive, preemptive military strikes. But by that time, they had pissed off so many people that the Roman empire was getting real attacks against it, and of course, the Romans had no choice but to mobilize.

Israel wants a buffer zone, but they don't want to use Israeli land as a buffer, they want to use someone else's land as a buffer. In this case, souther Lebanon is going to be their buffer. The only problem is that there are a bunch of Lebanese in Southern Lebanon that have a problem with that approach.

Instead of moving several miles into Lebanese territory to make a buffer, maybe Israel should evacuate several miles of its northernmost border with Lebanon. That will get them a buffer.

Either that, or learn how to live in peace with other people, rather than turning their lands into demilitarized zones.

#65 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:49 PM:

We will stop attacking Lebanon as soon as a peace keeping force is in place who will attack Lebanon for us.

#66 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 03:42 PM:

I saw something on the history channel about ancient Rome......and of course, the Romans had no choice but to mobilize.

on another thread (open 68)
And frankly, I don't care what happened during World War 2. Rule of law doesn't work that way. You may as well be telling me about how lawmen in the west enforced justice with a gun and try to argue that the court system is overloaded simply because cops aren't trigger happy enough. It was OK in the old west, it should be OK now. Right?

I'd say lawmen in the old west kept the peace with a gun - justice then as now is another matter.

Compare this from CJ Cherry at cherryh dot com in the panel room
THE ROMANS: A SOAPBOX

You know, I have a background in Mediterranean civ. And I am shocked...aghast...at the picture of the Romans being handed the unknowing public by numerous educational programs on television. Wrong, wrong, wrong! my friends. I've spent decades immersed in this culture. I know the Romans from what they wrote in books and what they wrote on bathroom walls and what they built and what they did and refrained from doing, and I'm here to say what you're seeing on the telly is just outright wrong.

The motives for that wrong input are about the same as those of us who handle such hot topics as race and religion in sf stories where we can make up participants that don't have modern baggage. What the purveyors of "the Romans as Nazis" are doing is much the same---rather than getting into the sticky, embarrassing politics of real Nazi history, we transfer the matter to the Romans, who are safely dead and a convenient high-profile target. Unforutnately they're creating a false history that gets re-shown and referenced by subsequent documentarians who don't go back to original sources and check out what was really the case

Let me shoot down a few misconceptions. If you find this interesting, I can go on for hours. And we haven't even mentioned the Spartans, who've also gotten undeserved bad press.....and let me add, the Egyptians...

Excerpted in part:

2. the unwarned massacre of thousands [reputedly 50,000] of civilian Roman and Roman-affiliated colonists by an eastern warlord [one of the tyrants the other local countries were afraid of:] outraged the civilized world and prompted Rome to go after the guy---Mithridates.

3. See: the African situation. Once Rome was in there, local politics came into play. Jugurtha of Numidia, invited to Rome on a diplomatic mission to try to settle things, assassinated one of his rivals on Roman city streets---bad news.

An exception to Roman good behavior: the Roman Senate appointed Memmius to handle matters in Greece...and the guy turned out to behave badly. The Romans did not consider him a hero. It was very bad manners to steal the silverware...or Greek art treasures. They considered it justice that his ships sank...and gave us modern divers the Greek bronzes we have: the rest were, ironically, lost to mediaeval plunderers.

3. Alexander had conquered the east and pasted it together. Tyrants claiming his mantle had thus far caused war after war in the area. Once Rome ruled it, there was peace and a reasonable chance of the local peasants living to die of natural causes.

#67 ::: J Thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 09:43 PM:

David, yes, israel has given up a lot and will give up more. Warfare is a cultural behavior, it's played by implicit rules etc. Israel is learning to play by the local rules, and that has cost israel a lot of humanity. More as they continue to adapt.

To me the interesting question is whether israel will adapt to become a normal middle-east nation, or whether instead they will choose to do genocide. There's a line from _The Amsirs and the Iron Thorn_ by Algis Budris where the main character is thinking, and says to himself, "I can't very well kill everybody and live here by myself." But the israelis *could*.

#68 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 09:57 PM:

Clark: Less words, more point.

Try this: The Israelis want to use someone else's land as a buffer between them and their enemies. And they're creating more enemies in the process of creating that buffer, razing Lebanon and killing uninvolved Lebanese civilians in their attempts to attack Hezbollah.

#69 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:07 AM:

Greg:

I think that's largely true. With the additional comments that:

a. The people they're making enemies of were already pretty-much their enemies, just not so committed. Though blowing up my kids is probably a fine way of recruiting me as a terrorist or suicide bomber.

b. I don't know what a good course of action for Israel would have looked like. Hezbolah isn't quite a country of its own, but it sure acts a lot like one. And they did carry out an act of war on Israel by kidnapping their soldiers, at least as much as we'd call it an act of war if the Syrian government sent forces into Iraq and took some US soldiers hostage.

I don't expect the fighting in Lebanon to end up with any good outcome for Israel, but it's not clear what else they were going to do.

#70 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 12:06 PM:

they did carry out an act of war on Israel by kidnapping their soldiers, at least as much as we'd call it an act of war if the Syrian government sent forces into Iraq and took some US soldiers hostage.

Except it wasn't the Lebanese government that sent forces to take Israeli soldiers hostage. It was Hezbollah. And by attacking Lebanon for what Hezbollah did, Israel has united Lebanon against Israel.

If Israel helped Lebanon to the point that Lebanon saw Hezbollah as a threat, rather than seeing Israel as a threat, then Lebanon would have been an ally. Now it is an enemy.

The way we operate in Iraq certainly hasn't made a lot of friends for the US. Our invasion was clumsy and haphazard. Our military was underpowered and undermanned and unable to to a good job. And rather than try to bring Iraqi military into the solution, we tried to disband them, so they ended up joining militias and fighting us in the streets.

This is the moronic application of indiscriminate force, which will only exacerbate the problem. The solution is more subtle than simply determining who is stronger.

#71 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 12:18 PM:

Except it wasn't the Lebanese government that sent forces to take Israeli soldiers hostage. It was Hezbollah. And by attacking Lebanon for what Hezbollah did, Israel has united Lebanon against Israel.

American support for Israel may also have united Lebanon against the US. Given that there are religious groups in Lebanon (Maronites, Greek Catholics, Armenian Catholics) that have a long history of ties to the West (specifically to France) and others (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox) who certainly are not going to be friendly to any Islamist movement, not to mention Sunni and Druze suspicion of the Shi'a Hizballah (and the division of the Shi'a between Hizballah and Amal), this is a pretty amazing outcome.

#72 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:36 PM:

American support for Israel may also have united Lebanon against the US.

Lebanon and a good chunk of the rest of the world.

#73 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Greg London: True, but Lebanon is more likely to breed people who want revenge.

#74 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:20 PM:

David: In the second part, I don't know the reason to make a semantic diferentiation between bombing and missile-ing. Maybe you can clarify.

I'm not making a semantic distinction; I'm reminding you that Israel was the one that first laid large quantities of explosives on somebody else's land.

Your portrayal of the bargain does not square with the amount of land around Jerusalem and in the colonies that was held back, according to \friendly-to-Israel/ reports at the time. Balanced reports tended to speak of the non-viability of the "state" being given to the Palestinians.

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