What do I think about Israel vs Lebanon? It's complicated, but not always in the ways we are being told that it is.
Hizbullah are evil bastards, of course. Well, the part of it with rocket launchers are, rather than the part that builds schools and hospitals. You see? It's already complicated, and I've barely even started.That does not in any way, though, prevent the IDF from ALSO being evil bastards.
I mean, come on. They bombed every major and most minor roads out of south Lebanon, then
told people the get the fuck out. Then they started bombing everything that moved, including those people who were 1) terrified, and 2) doing in good faith exactly what they had been told to.
Hizbullah have egregiously targetted civilians by letting off rockets into Israel, aiming especially at Haifa.
Israeli pilots have deliberately targetted trucks carrying refugees and incinerated children with phosphorus bombs. For the love of Goddess, the pilot who shot up the Red Cross ambulance the other day should get a merit badge in marksmanship or something: if he wasn't aiming
for the Big Red Cross on the top, he should have been. And the kicker? Not only is it not working, they want to do more
Military sources claimed Wednesday that the IDF's current tactics are having an insufficient impact on the Katyusha rocket launchers and expose the soldiers to excessive danger. The criticism was mostly aimed at the decision not to employ large ground forces in Lebanon, which would give the IDF a significant advantages over a guerrilla force.
The sources also criticized what they described as insufficient utilization of aircraft in ground support operations, because of concerns that they might kill Lebanese civilians that did not evacuate target areas.
And in today's Age letters column
is an outraged letter demanding to know why this obvious
piece of Hizbullah propaganda is being published. Israelis would never target ambulances or children ... would they?
And here's an intersting bit of logic: Lebanese deaths
: 433, mostly civilians, almost half children.Israeli deaths:
51, including the 9 IDF troops who were killed recently.Conclusion:
Hizbullah is evil, and must be punished through the expedient of killing (with the greatest
possible regret) more innocent civilians. Israel is blameless, merely trying against overwhelming
odds to ensure its survival. You see, If we don't mean to kill civilians, it doesn't count.
The moral arguments Israel are making don't add up. Neither do their practical rationalisations: they are recruiting
for Hizbullah, and if they are so concerned about defeating Hizbullah, then why are they attacking Christian areas in Beirut and other parts of Lebanon? Why did they bomb the UN compound, which has only been there for twenty years, and who desperately tried to warn the IDF that the shelling was getting a bit close, could they adjust their sights or something please?
They are outraging the Lebanese who actually disliked Hizbullah as well, and giving generations to come tactile, concrete reasons to hate Israel. Nor are they actually doing much against the Hizbullah militants themselves. And as for a 'supine Lebanese government, who allowed this to happen', Lebanon has been in civil war, or under occupation for as long as most can remember. As far as its Democratic Government goes, it's not much older, or more mature, than East Timor's. Hizbullah as an organisation has a couple of decades head start on the current (and in all likelyhood recently passed) iteration of Lebanese Democracy. The Lebanese Government wasn't strong enough to enforce its will on Hisbullah, and now any hope of its maturing to the point where it would be able to has been bombed into oblivion.
But if you say that the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon is a War Crime, then you have to say that the bombing of Dresden was a War Crime, too! Hah, I have the Moral High Ground Back!
because the Dresden bombing was
a war crime, and should have been prosecuted as such. What a coincidence that the people responsible for doing the prosecutions were the same people to have done the bombings. It must have slipped their minds or something.
Of course, the Right blogs and Usual Suspects have come out with torrents of commentary on how Israel is right and justified, and how horrible it is that only the effects on Lebanon are being shown, it's an obvious symptom of a Left-biased West-Hating Anti Semitic media. This is because they had to apply no actual thought to the problem. Israel is always
justified and right. Muslims and arabs are always
wrong (except, usually, for Saudi Arabia and Kuwait). The media is always
west-hating and left-biased, and never less than when it actually reports 'facts'. Like, you know, pointing out that while a 14-year old girl was killed by a Hizbullah rocket in the street in Haifa, dozens of children have been killed, and more orphaned, by 'precision strikes' on the vehicles they were attempting to flee in. Why has the response from the Left been relatively muted? Because we make the effort to try and figure out what is going on, to understand, to think
. Because it is
complicated -- a delicate tracery of greys, and we don't
fall back on "Israel is wrong" by reflex. It's just more often than not that that is the answer, even when the blame is shared, and the answer is actually "Israel is also
wrong". But we, at least, took the time to think, and wonder if we might be wrong.
Something Right-bloggers/commentariat tend not to do.
If a murderer, or even a whole gang of murderers, flees into a crowd, what is the appropriate response? The IDF response is to open free fire into the crowd, and try and make their best effort to aim for the killers. Of course, many innocent people will (regrettably) die, but we just have to keep firing until we are sure that all the murderers are dead. And they might, you know, try to escape or something, so wall in the crowd and kill anyone who tries to get out. We can't take any chances.
None of this abrogates the burden on the murderers who fled into the crowd. But those who are doing the shooting in have made themselves into murderers themselves, and worse. And for anyone in
that crowd, blameless and terrified? Sorry, mate, you're fucked.
What 'moral high ground' then?
And my solution? To stand in the street and scream "stopitstopitstopitstopitStopItstopitStopItSTOPIT
until the nice men come and take me away.
I think it was someone on LateLine
who said that what the Middle East needs most is Adult Supervision. I couldn't have said it better myself.