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Thursday, August 03, 2006

No Choices At All

When someone is raining hundreds of rockets into your cities and killing your civilians, simply asking your enemy not to do that is not an option. Sitting on your hands and doing nothing is not an option. Asking the United Nations to levy taxes and raise an army for the purpose of creating a buffer between Israel's northern border and the point where Lebanon's military can actually exercise sovereignty is not an option.

Israel had only one choice.

Eliminating Hezbollah's capability to launch rockets into Israeli cities is the only option, and when the country from where they are launching rockets is unwilling/unable to stop Hezbollah from launching rockets into Israel's civilian population centers then Israel's only option is to eliminate Hezbollah's rocket-launching capability themselves. When Hezbollah refuses to fight military-to-military but instead fires off rockets and then blends back into Lebanese society Israel is forced to interdict Lebanese roads, bridges, fuel depots, and anything else that could facilitate Hezbollah launching rockets into the homes of Israeli civilians. Any other concern - be it a road map to peace or Palestinian elections or increasing tourism - will have to wait until the security situation is handled. If Israel's citizens are not secure in their own homes then the Knesset would have failed as a government - there is no peace when rockets are killing babies in their beds. Israel has to stop the rocket-launching; then they can concern themselves with a Palestinian peace process.

Is it disingenuous to say that Israel is completely justified while lamenting the deaths of innocent Lebanese and Israeli civilians who had no choices in this fighting? Hardly. If Harry continually punches Ike and then - once Ike has had enough of getting punched and decides to put an end to it - Harry uses a child to shield himself from getting punched back, it is hardly disingenuous to say that Ike is entirely justified while simultaneously lamenting the child getting hurt in the process. No, what would be disingenuous would be failing to utterly condemn Harry for putting the child in that position in the first place. What would be disingenuous would be failing to condemn Harry as a coward for hiding behind a child after he instigated the fight in the first place. What would be disingenuous would be to suggest that it's Ike's fault that the child got hurt.

There's nothing complicated about babies dying - I believe we're all against that - but there's also nothing complicated about placing the blame squarely where it belongs.


Emancipated by Athanasius @ 8:00 AM

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Indeed Hezbollah is full of 5-day old cow manure, which is why initially the blame fell squarely upon Hezbollah's soldiers.

There is no blame on Israel for defending its citizens, or for attacking Hezbollah strongholds. That is an obligation. My concern is the destruction of the entire nation of Lebanon and possible escalation into a larger world war.

Some say that this is a proxy war for U.S. vs. Iran. Whatever or whoever the backstage actors, there has to be another way. If Iran and Syria are Hezbollah's backers, then Lebanon's destruction won't solve anything. Even if Hezbollah is completely destroyed (which I doubt will happen) Iran and/or Syria can just prop up some other group in Hezbollah's place.

I'm not saying that Israel is 100% to blame for the current conflict, what I am saying is that the scope of the conflict has gone beyond what is morally acceptable.

Posted by Blogger Talib @ Thursday, August 03, 2006 10:30:00 AM #

Therein lies the question - how much violence/destruction is morally acceptible?

The answer that we hear is often dependant upon the POV of the speaker - those who categorically oppose anything that Israel does would certainly condemn any action more violent than firing bottle rockets in responce to Hezbollah's attacks, while those who support anything that Israel does simply because it is Israel doing it would support any action up to (and possibly including) the obliteration of every Arab in the Middle East.

The true answer, the answer that has been true of every conflict since Cain took a brick to Abel, is that in order for any violent action to be justifiable its motives and means must be justifiable. Israel's motive is to remove Hezbollah's ability to fire rockets into Israel, and that requires Israel to secure most of Southern Lebanon. In America we hear about a country taking over half of another country and our jaws drop, thinking about someone taking over the southern half of our country, but we have to understand that Lebanon is smaller than the state of Connecticut, and Hezbollah's rockets can reach up to 20-30 miles from their launching point. Securing that much territory puts Israel pretty close to Beirut, the half-way point in Lebanon. Making sure that Hezbollah hasn't stashed weapons and fighters behind Israeli lines means that Israel has to advance slowly and clear out much of the housing between Israel and Beirut, and with Hezbollah hiding among civilians that's going to run the civilian death toll through the roof. Again, if Hezbollah would fight military-to-military then there would be much less civilian casualties and the need to interdict infrastructure would disappear, but Hezbollah's tactics make Israel's actions militarily necessary.

One of the reasons why we should always work to avoid these kinds of conflicts is that you can not totally control violence, such that screw-ups happen and entire villages can get taken out errantly. Also, once you ramp up the hatred of your enemy (as warfare always does) you always invite massacres - from both sides - regardless of the participats. Nothing good can come from this, but it can stop the bad from getting worse, i.e. rockets falling ever-increasingly on innocent civilians.

From what I've seen, Israel is doing that which Hezbollah has made militarily necessary (justified means) to achieve the security of its citizens in their own homes (justified ends). Unless one takes the position that all violence is immoral I can't see how the Israeli action could be considered morally unacceptible. Unpleasant? Certainly. Undesirable? Absolutely. Immoral? No.

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Thursday, August 03, 2006 7:15:00 PM #

I see where you're coming from, and I think I understand Israel's position.

In my mind, I wonder if this was the only way? Cutting off the flower of Hezbollah (and Lebanon with it) does nothing against the stem of Iran and Syria. After all, they're citizens aren't getting slaughtered, so why would the current military action be any deterrent to them?

Since Hezbollah was formed to end Israeli occupation of Lebanon, they should've closed up military shop in 2000 after Israel left. The fact they're using civilian shields is morally repugnant, but everyone has to answer for their own actions at the end of the day. If Hezbollah really cared about Lebanon we wouldn't be here in the first place, so how does destroying Lebanon destroy Hezbollah? What's to prevent them from just running into Syria? Then what? What if some folks run into Jordan? Then what? Do we set the world ablaze?

I'm more in the camp of non-violence that you alluded you in your comment. I don't see how this military action serves Israel's long term interest, especially since Hezbollah is using Israel's actions to further it's own propoganda. And as you said, you can't really control violence in war.

All that being said, the question of the day is what do we now? Who started what when is pretty irrelevant at this point, since the conflict level has escalated so much. How can we bring peace now?

I fear us reaching the point of no return, whereas you have all-out world war and armageddon. I know that some welcome this as fulfillment of prophecy, but I wonder if God really wants us to be going at each other's throats in such a manner.

Posted by Blogger Talib @ Friday, August 04, 2006 2:33:00 PM #

Right now, Iran and Syria are secondary concerns - Iran and Syria aren't launching missiles into Israeli homes. It would be really efficient if Israel could deal with Hezbollah, Iran and Syria all in one fell swoop, but that simply isn't possible short of nuclear annihilation - the militaries of Iran and Syria aren't on the battlefield to fight. The military action is first and foremost about eliminating Hezbollah's ability to launch rockets into Israel's cities. Once that is secured Iran and Syria can be addressed, but as nation-states they can be deterred (somewhat) through diplomatic measures. What's more, once southern Lebanon is secured Israel has already stated that they want to turn it over to a U.N. peace-keeping force to serve as a buffer between Israel's northern border and the point where Lebanon can exercise sovereignty over its own territory. If anyone launches rockets on Israel from that point on it would be the U.N.'s fault and the responsibility of the U.N. to put an end to it.

Destroying the infrastructure of southern Lebanon makes it extremely difficult for Hezbollah to get ordinance into a firing position - they need roads and bridges to get from Syria to the Israeli border, so Israel destroyed those. They need vehicles to transport their weapons so Israel destroyed those. Anything that can be used to facilitate Hezbollah launching missiles into Israel is being destroyed, and that's a lot of stuff that is normally used for civilian purposes. Lebanese civilians are certainly getting the business end of the stick for something that they did not want and could not prevent, this is true, but Hezbollah has to be stopped and that means that the rest of southern Lebanon will suffer.

The alternative is sitting around and talking about peace while Hezbollah launches rocket after rocket after rocket until all of Israel is set ablaze - I don't blame the Israelis for rejecting that option. If Hezbollah flees to Syria and Jordan then more power to them - unless Hezbollah acquires long-range missiles that can reach Israeli cities from Syria or Jordan then exiled members of Hezbollah are not a direct threat to Israel and do not require immediate military attention (although Mossad might want to have a word or two with them). This serves Israel's long-term interest by ensuring that Israel is not destroyed in the short-term - allowing rockets to rain down on your cities isn't exactly the best way to go about ensuring the survival of your nation. In order to think about the long-term you have to survive the short-term. You can't worry about what folks say about you when you're bleeding - you first have to stop the guy from punching you again and again and again, then you can deal with people's words.

What do we do now?

The first thing that we have to do is to ensure that people understand that peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of justice. Most of Israel's enemies in the Middle East believe that Israel's existence is a travesty of justice, and for them justice will not be served until Israel is no more. The only way for there to be peace in the Middle East is for that perspective to be eliminated or for Israel to be eliminated. Until then there will be no peace, there will be nothing but a perpetual struggle that produces dead Jewish babies and dead Arabic babies. There are certainly those who would welcome this as fulfillment of prophecy, but the truth of the matter is that anyone who thinks like that clearly doesn't know Biblical prophesy. The Bible does not say that there will be a big brouhaha in the Middle East and then the end will come (q.v. Revelation 19:11-21), Jesus will return and the kings (presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, et al.) of the world will mass their forces together and fight against Jesus - and lose. A big war in the Middle East has about as much to do with precipitating the end times as the flight velocity of migratory swallows has to do with precipitating rain.

That's never stopped people from believing stupid things before, though - kinda like Saddam Hussein having something to do with 9/11.

Nonetheless, what we all need to do is understand why there is currently conflict in the Middle East - once you understand the root grievances you can look at developing a solution that everyone will declare to be just, and then there will be peace.

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Friday, August 04, 2006 6:50:00 PM #
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