Enough….More than Enough

Lebanese Flag.jpg
With the rest of the world I have watched in horror at what is happening in Lebanon. Hezbollah, supported by the extremists in Tehran, has goaded Israel into striking, not only at Hezbollah, but at the innocent Lebanese, as well. The Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure throughout the country and the destruction of the lives of innocents are simply unconscionable. I wondered at first whether the Israeli politicians and generals had thought through the implications and had some kind of strategy that I couldn’t quite fathom. Something like getting the other Lebanese factions to take on the Iranian-funded Hezbollah and replacing Hezbollah fighters with the Lebanese army on the border. It doesn’t seem so, as I gathered from this BBC report:

Mr Olmert said the timing of the incident was not an accident, and the international community at the G8 summit in Russia had fallen for it – discussing Lebanon rather than Iran’s nuclear programme.

The kidnapping/capture of the Israeli soldiers could only have steered the G8 discussions away from Iran’s nuclear program if the Israelis had fallen for the bait and attacked Lebanon. And that suggests to me that, if Olmert is right and the Iranian regime did calculate that such an incident would take their evil plans off the G8 agenda, Olmert’s government doesn’t have a coherent plan and is simply striking out in anger. Not a good sign.

One of my Lebanese friends, to whom I sent a message of support, wrote back:

Well, what can we do? it is the theological war and between two tough “theologies”, they may differ in color but definitely not in shape and content.

In theology, there is no place of words such as : dialog, tolerance, accepting the other … etc.

Lebanon is like hell nowadays … I am sure you don’t want to experience it.

Another warned that,

I must add that this war isn’t a local one. It is regional with flying colors, potentially a larger (global) one given the room available for accidents and surprises, and room there is plenty, especially that it’s looking like a long one by design (targeting of infrastructure, roads connecting cities, food factories, water reservoirs and telecom). if I am in the gambling business I’d bet on a 100 dollars level oil and the toppling of the jordanian regime.

I pray that the Israelis rethink their approach and stop the attacks.

68 Responses to “Enough….More than Enough”

  1. Alan Gura

    It’s terrible that these children died.

    But why do you suppose that Israel DELIBERATELY
    targeted the children? Or that Israel isn’t
    exercising caution around civilians, given their
    extraordinary efforts in this regard?

    On the other hand, the children who died in
    Israel WERE deliberately targeted by Hezbollah.

    It is illogical and absurd to hold up a picture of
    dead children, killed in war, and without any
    additional context, conclude that the side that
    delivered the bomb must be criminally responsible.
    Accidents happen, and in this war, so do human

    To the extent anyone bears responsibility
    for these dead Lebanese children, it is
    Hezbollah. You want to be upset with someone over
    those kids? Go pick on the TERRORISTS who started
    this war and who are deliberately using human shields.

    As for the wailing of the European media…

    The Europeans, with their large islamic/arab
    populations and significant history of
    anti-semitism, are the ones who generally approach
    this conflict with an unhealthy bias. It’s funny
    how people claim Jews have all this power in the
    U.S., being maybe 2-3% of the population, yet
    somehow the domestic political pressure of
    Europe’s islamic population is never considered.

    To hold up the European media as some sort of
    neutral observers of this conflict is ridiculous.
    There’s an old internet joke that is somewhat
    cliche but nevertheless reflects the truth:

    A man in Paris saw a pit bull attacking a toddler.
    He killed the pit bull and saved the child’s life.
    Reporters swarmed the fellow to cover the
    story…. “Tell us! What’s your name? All Paris
    will love you! Tomorrow’s headline will be: ‘Paris
    Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'”

    The guy says, “But I’m not from Paris.” Reporters:
    “That’s OK. Then the whole of France will love you
    and tomorrow’s headline will read: ‘French Hero
    Saves Girl from Vicious Dog”!

    The guy says, “I’m not from France, either.”
    Reporters: “That’s OK also. All Europe will love
    you. Tomorrow’s headlines will shout: ‘Europe’s
    Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'”

    The guy says, “I’m not from Europe, either.”
    Reporters: “So, where ARE you from?”
    The guy says, “I’m from Israel.” Reporters: “OK…
    Then tomorrow’s headlines will proclaim to the
    world: “Jew Kills Girl’s Dog”!

  2. It is quite interesting (and distressing) to see how mind-sets still have not changed since 9/11, which mainly served for growing misperception about Islam and Muslim societies and of course some ongoing huge tensions.

    I give full credit what Tom Palmer argues here. What indeed Israel achieved with its horrifying disproportinal response was only strengthening Hezbollah’s supporters among Lebanese civilians. Even beyong Lebanese, nowadays it becomes common among Muslims to have growing sympathy for the cause of Hezbollah fighters’ unfortunately. I understand that Israeli government did not have much choice in this regard, but the decision they took is clearly self-defeating as this will only cause more civilian bloodhshed in both sides caused by the mutual misperceptions.

    As for comparison of modern warfare to medieval warfare, let me give you one example which supports Tom Palmer’s arguments. According to UNICEF report, in the last 10 years only, 2 million children have died in the wars, 4-5 million children have been disabled or wounded,12 million made homeless and 1 million have been orphaned or separated from parents. And these statistics do not include war in Iraq, Afghanistan and many others in the last 8 years. I would doubt if so many children died in any decade of the medieval history. And certainly what Israeli government has done was to increase this number even more with its non-strategic, imprudent tactics over civilians.

  3. Nathalie VOGEL

    Mr Hidalgo,
    anyone advocating that criticizing the governement of Israel equates to questioning its right to existence, is an ignorant. In a similar way, anyone advocating that criticizing Israel’s policy is either dangerous or forbidden has an agenda of his own. No need for subtitles. Trust me, I live in Europe, we have centuries of experience in that respect and we have learned to decode. So, you may be a very reasonable person, Mr Hidalgo, but you are neither a victim of some dark forces nor a hero, fighting for freedom of expression.
    My last point was misunderstood. I did not argue that no civilians got killed in these actions in Lebanon. I questioned your point re: public opinion in the US. There are debates going on in both US and Israeli public opinion. You just need to open the newspapers, there are pros and cons. I miss that in the Arab world, I must say.

    My dear Tural, None of us has brought the “muslim” factor into the argumentation here. I think that we both agree on the fact that Muslim countries are the first victims of terrorism, aren’t they?
    We were discussing terrorism, and the appropriate response to act of wars during an asymmetric conflict, taking the special kind of rural/urban warfare into consideration :in this case civilian population being exploited by the Hezbollah, the armed forces of Lebanon being unable to desarm the terrorists. Discussing proportionality is therefore, in my opinion, not the right way to address the issue. Neither can I quite get the point of people arguing, one should “spare Beirut” and hit “somewhere else”? Hezbollah is a force in power in Beirut.
    You also seem to be mixing the causes and the consequences in your argument. Acts of wars have been committed over and over again against the state of Israel. It is not like the first Katusha hit Israel on July 20th for the first time. So, now Israel defends itself. In any casus belli, the decisive question is not the proportionality but a simple question: who started?
    Your point (that these measures bring more support to Hezbollah in the Muslim world) is actually proving my point: in a society where free information is not available, people have no idea who started what when and where. If these societies were really free societies, they would be able to recognize Hezbollah for what it is : a genocidal terrorist organization.NV

  4. Anonymous

    “Since when a tiny, socialist country in the Middle East became an article of faith for the Right?”

    You mean Iraq, Syria and the former Baathist Regime of Iraq, yes? All those regimes are socialist to the core. In that case, your friend is incorrect, as those regimes are the best buddies of US Leftists the Rothbardians.

    (I suspect though you are preaching your brand of “anti-zionism.” Amazingly enough I deal with several Isreali companies and their nation is relatively pro-capitalistic…but maybe Karl Rove is controlling my brain while you hold dearly to the “truth”? Maybe you try thinking for yourself?)

  5. Juan Carlos Hidalgo

    My closing comments:

    1.- Yes, I think that the ones to blame here for the whole conflict are the terrorist. I thought I left that clear when I wrote “Hezbollah is the real enemy here that must be destroyed.” I’m just arguing, as Mr. Palmer did, that Israel is disproportionatelly using its force against civilian targets. In the long run, as has been argued here, this strategy is self-defeating.

    2.- I’m not pretending to be a hero or a victim here. I’m just saying that criticizing the actions of the government of Israel carries a lot of heat in the U.S.. Let’s look at the most recent example: The president of Iraq criticizes the Israeli bombings in Lebanon and several members of Congress are demanding an apology or otherwise they will boycott his speech to Congress next week. Why this reaction?

  6. Anonymous

    “Why this reaction?”

    Because Americans like Isrealies, just as we like Japanese and South Koreans. And we dislike Islamists and Baathists, just as we dislike North Koreans.

  7. My dear Nathalie,

    I did not claim you or someone else specifically brought up “Muslim” factor here. But arguing that Israel did the right thing by killing hundreds of innocent people (taking this as a granted requirement of casus belli), indeed you (&others who share your views) serve eventually to this common mutual misperception. Even in countries where the influence of religion is not an issue (take Azerbaijan for instance…you know very well how tolerant Azeri people are on religious plurality) it caused serious concern with harsh statements which may potentially lead to religious strife. It also causes more misunderstanding in the Western societies as well (where I would say, a serious illiteracy exists about this region and culture), seeing most of Muslims harbouring directly or indirctly Hezbollah’s and other terrorists’ cause; thinking why would Israel otherwise bomb the whole country.

    Yes, Hezbollah is a terrorist group, proxy for Iran and Syria and a malicious, genocidal nasty organization accountable on the death of many innnocent people. However it would be too myopic to see things purely in context of retaliatory strikes with a simple argument ‘who started first’. Most of Muslim countries live under unfree systems (to put it very mildly) with many ethnic, social, economic problems, it will be a good excuse for those in power to leverage their illegitimate strength channelling current dissent into huge anger against Israel, US and others.

    Also, between Hizbollah and Syria there were some factions before (compelling Hezbollah to share its seats in parliament with another Shia rival,Amal), i guess, now Israel made these folks unite even further.

    Seeing all these, it is nothing more than self-defeating strategy for Israeli government aggravating situation with increasing death toll of innocent civilians.

    Finally, saying Israel will eventually bring freedom to Lebanon with its bombs, sounds like Bush bringing democracy to Iraq with his tanks and armies.

  8. Alan Gura


    Nobody is “arguing Israel did the right thing by
    killing hundreds of civilians.”

    You are suggesting that Israel did this deliberately,
    and that people are applaud such a decision.

    It is more correct to say that Israel did the right thing
    by defending its sovereignty and seeking to secure its borders,
    and civilian deaths are an unavoidable consequence of that

  9. ex-libertarian

    Suppose a criminal walks into the bank and starts executing random people. The police (or perhaps just an armed citizen) takes a shot to try to stop the criminal from mass murder…and accidentally hits an innocent bystander.

    What does the “libertarian” do? He accuses the rescuer of “murder” and ignores the crimes of the criminal. Sometimes the criminal is really a terrorist or tyranical dictator. Sometimes the rescuer is the military of a nation-state. But this is forgotten by “anti-statists” (and those who are speicifaclly anti-United States/Isreal).

    That is why most “libertarianism” is a dead-end for moral living and logical thinking.

  10. Tom G. Palmer

    “Ex” misses the point entirely. The question is not whether people are sometimes killed as an unintended byproduct of acts of justified self defense, but whether the acts of self-defense have gone too far to be justified. (The doctrine usually invoked in such cases is the doctrine of the double effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_double_effect ).

    The issue at hand could better be characterized as asking whether the police officer or the armed citizen is justified if he A) “takes a shot” in the hope of wounding or killing the shooter, or if B) he gets out an AK-47 and opens up on an entire crowd, in hope of wounding or killing the shooter. My claim is that the Israeli government has gone too far in attacking Lebanese who are not a party to the dispute.

    “Ex” doesn’t seem to admit that there are questions of degree involved. But that’s the very issue at hand. I presume that “Ex” would not justify the Israeli government undertaking its present actions if there were only one sniper shooting over the border. If I am correct in that, then “Ex” has to shift his or her argument to a different level, not merely of abstractly formulated principle, but of the application of principle.

  11. Mr. Palmer began by accusing the Israelis of “simply striking out in anger,” suggesting that they didn’t care about or even desired “collateral damage.” Now, he seems to have retreated to complaining that the Israelis aren’t careful enough or have made too many mistakes. It’s hard to respond to a vague, Kerryesque claim that it ought to be done better.

    But here’s another data point regarding the intentions of the Israelis: Recently, the Israelis have attacked some houses in Gaza used as weapons caches. Prior to bombing the houses, the Israelis phoned the terrorists inside so that they and their families wouldn’t be hurt.

    See: http://rgcombs.blog-city.com/phoning_the_targets_to_warn_them.htm

    I argue in the above post that such solicitude isn’t necessarily a good thing. What if the warned terrorists move their rockets to a safe place, and a few hours later, they kill some Israeli teens in a pizza parlor?

    There are no easy answers. But the future victims of the aggressors have some claim on your concern, too.

  12. Um…I’ll bite. What’s wrong with saying “It ought to have been done better”? Maybe, it ought to have been better thought out? Or it ought to have been done without doing so much harm to innocent civilians? Those don’t seem “Kerryesquye,” like “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” That’s Kerryesque, and it seems a lot different than saying “the Israeli government has gone too far in attacking Lebanese who are not a party to the dispute”.

    All future victims have some claim on our concern, regardless of religion, nationality, etc. Israeli teenagers, Lebanese teenagers, even non-teenagers, deserve consideration and concern.

  13. Antonio: Well, I think it’s quite a retreat from suggesting the Israelis are callous murderers to complaining that their plans weren’t perfect and the execution of them involved some errors.

    I called it Kerryesque because it reminded me of the tiresome claims that, “If I were in charge, we’d do x better, y would be more successful, there’d be fewer mistakes.”

    As for your snarky closing, do you understand the idea of a concrete example, one that’s a realistic and plausible consequence of the specific action being discussed (sparing Palestinian terrorists)?

    Or does it just annoy you when someone points out that the inevitable consequence of letting Islamofascists live is more dead Jews?

  14. Tom G. Palmer

    Just a short clarification. The comment I made about “striking out in anger” was occasioned by the apparent lack of foresight behind the Israeli decision to attack, an evaluation to which I was led by the complaint of the Israeli prime minister that the capture of the Israeli soldiers was organized by the Iranian government in order to provoke an attack by Israel and take Iran’s nuclear plans off the table at the G8 meeting — a trap that would work only if the Israelis took the bait. Being outmaneuvered suggests a lack of thought about the strategic dimensions of the situation, which in turn suggested to me that striking out in anger motivated the Israeli response. I am not at all sympathetic to the idea that Israelis don’t ever make mistakes. In this case, at least, I think that they have made a mistake.

  15. Tom G. Palmer

    Let me add another clarification.

    Nowhere did I claim or in any way suggest that “the Israelis” are callous murderers. Mr. Combs should be more careful in reading into others thoughts that are not there. I would also suggest he might be more careful in his own writing, because some readers might infer from his remark above that he considers the hundreds of dead civilians in Lebanon to be “Islamofascists.” I presume that he is a decent person and doesn’t mean that.

  16. What’s snarky about my remark? I just stated that all innocent persons (Israeli, Lebanese, teenager, and nonteenager) deserve consideration and concern. I don’t see anything snarky about that.

  17. Something I do not understand about the “disproportionate force” charge…

    In response to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and abandonment of settlements there, first Hamas and next Hezbollah rewarded the Israelis by attacking them and seizing hostages, and continuing their calls for the destruction of Israel and massacre of the Jews.

    Hezbollah managed to arm itself with massive amounts of heavy (rocket) artillery, place this on Israel’s border, and as a result of their targeting of civilians, one million Israelis are now living in bomb shelters, effectively shutting down the economy of northern Israel.

    Hezbollah’s primary patron, Iran, is trying to give Hezbollah even longer range weapons, so the rest of Israel can be targeted. Iran is also apparently dedicated to developing nuclear weapons, and has a president who has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Israelis.

    In short, Israelis face an extremely serious genocidal threat from the Islamists. If they do not crush the Islamists, it’s hard for me to see how Israel can remain viable…and how an Islamist “final solution” can be avoided.

    Given this, I find myself wondering if the Israeli response is sufficiently strong.