Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Folow up on Mel

Somebody replied to my last post on Mel Gibson in the media "this war is the perfection of Mao's treatise on insurgency. and Israel IS fighting a justified war." (see the whole reply under comments--it's very well reasoned).

I should note that I'm not convinced Isreal acted with disproportionate forceL and even if they did, they are in the middle of a shooting war now and have to do something. My first reaction when I heard about the killings and kidnappings was "Dammit! What would happen if Isreal just adopted Sherman's policy and marched to the sea buring everything in their path?" Yes, that's anger talking, but sometimes Anger is not so bad a thing.

The other day a friend of mine who is Jewish and very pro-isreal posted on his livejournal blog a scene from the West Wing in which Preisdent Bartlet, angry that a friend of his had been killed by terrorists, when offered choices for a proportional response demanded "what about a disproportionate response?" suggesting that if you kill one American it should bring down the wrath of heaven upon you. In the end, of course, Bartlet launches a proportionate attack agaisnt Syria.

That's make believe. It's not real. Real is what Regan did when he bombed Kadafi's palace, killing some of his children, and basically cowing him into submission.

Isreal is only doing what we did when Pershing went into Mexico after Pancho Villa. Yes, that was pre-Geneva and pre-Nurmemburg, but it is still policy. What would America have done if somebody had come into our country, killed a bunch of our soldiers and kidnapped two more?

On Hardball yesterday I saw the host of Democracy Now, one of the few truly liberal shows on television, insisting that we negotiate right now. But there is an old axiom that you don't negotiate with terrorists, and Hizbolah are terrorists, aren't they?

Or are they? It's an interesting question. They are fighting this war right now with conventional weapons. They are launching rockets into Isreal. They aren't in the suicide bomb business, at least not at the moment (they certainly have been in the past). This isn't a terrorist war. This is a conventional war. There are two reasons why you don't negotiate with terrorists. The first is becuase if you negotiate with terrorists you provide an incentive for further terrorism. Isreal's position on this has always been rock solid, and I believe it to be the correct one (after all, look waht we ourselves wrought by negotiating an arms for hostages deal with Iran back in Regan's day). The second reason is becuase it's really not possible to negotiate with terrorists becuase they have so little to lose and are so disorganized. There is often little command and control over terrorists, so that there are likely always to be some cells that refuse to cut a deal. Armies, real armies attached to nations, have an incentive to negotiate because in addition to fighting the war they have to keep the lights on and the trash pickups going. All a terrorist has to do is fight.

But is Hizbolah a terrorist organization or not? Certainly they are paramilitary: this is not the army of Lebanon, though it might be considered to be the army of Syria. But they have a big army, not a bunch of individual cells. They have tanks and rockets, not just mortars and strap on bombs. I'm not sure you can call them terrorists.

But it isn't Hizbolah Isreal needs to negotiate with anyway. It is Syria. Hizbolah doen't blow its nose without Syria's ok.

One thing I'm not sure of is the status of Lebanon in all of this. Isreal insists that they are at war with Hizbolah, not with Lebanon, and cast themselves as Lebanon's liberators much as we did with Iraq. But Isreal has invaded Lebanon and killed Lebanese civilians. What should be Lebanon's reaction to this? If I were the president of Lebanon, I think I'd have to declare war on Isreal.

Isreal was certainly attacked by Hizbolah preciptating this war. Isreal cannot be said to have commited either a crime against peace nor a crime against humanity.

Of course I know people (uncle Phil for one) who are involved in a campaign to have all ariel bombing declared a war crime.

If Isreal realy wants peace in the middle east then they have to abide by the UN resolutions that call for them to return to their pre-1968 borders, giving up not only the West banka nd the Gaza strip but also the Golan Heights. They don't get to pick and choose which UN Resolutions are going to be enforced and which are not.

I think Isreal was justified in responding to Hizbolah's attack but now I think they've gone too far, as they were bound to do. Let's face it: all war is a crime against humanity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree that Hizbollah is fighting a conventional war. They are terrorists who are using bigger and better weapons. Wearing civilian clothes, hiding armament among civilians and indiscriminately killing anyone they can to create terror in Israel would define them as terrorists.

6:59 AM  

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