Discussion in 'The Sanctum Santorum' started by Dan Lawrence, Jan 5, 2012.
Can we get a Flowers to english translation? I have no idea what he is trying to say here.
History, learn some
Is Syria responsible for the latest conflict?
Fisk does his thing:
Fisk needs to get his ass to MarsGaza. His best writing is when he's on the scene talking to people.
Ariel Sharon's son gets him some salt the ground, kill the cattle rhetoric.
Short international leash that would get a lot shorter by levelling Gaza.
Political leaders obsession with if only we punished them harder they'd stop as an insurrection-stopping force is just strange. I'm not sure how more falsified it can get.
Because as long as it's maintained, it's shockingly effective. It's just considered unethical as all hell and will eventually collapse. Maintaining order via excessive force and brutality is a time honored tradition to suppress an unruly population. It inevitably ends in a revolution or genocide, but hey!
To be fair to that link: the majority of the comments section is quite aghast at the suggestions in that article. They're quite beyond the pale even for the rhetoric people are accustomed to in the region.
edit: for my first bit, it's only slightly tongue in cheek. Democratically elected politicians have odd fantasies about totalitarianism because at times it makes shit look so easy. Thankfully most of them pull themselves back from that and deal with the hard work that is ethical legislation.
I was trying to write some sarcastic hyperbole about this, but I really couldn't come up with anything crazier. So hey listen: the Netanyahu government is not on a short international leash. It, like every Israeli government in decades, on an unbelievably, absurdly, unconscionably long international leash. One way to tell this is that the thing he's calling for (Operation Just Kill All The Palestinians Already, I Don't See What The Holdup Is) is about how far you have to go to find something that is outside the reach of that leash.
Well in one sense he's not wrong. The current strategy of - pile in once every couple of years and kill a couple of hundred Palestinans then, pull out and maintain cruel, militant generating blockade - definitely isn't working. However, he does rather constrain his alternative options in response to the 'Genocide or Stasi' axis rather than say, the historically more widely applauded, Northern Ireland style path out.
Uh... that pretty accurately describes the current situation.
It doesn't work though. Levelling Fallujah didn't stop the Iraqi insurgency. Demolishing Hanoi didn't stop the Vietnam war.
All levelling Gaza would do is satiate the current blood lust in Israel (which is creepily considerable and is getting about as bad as the rhetoric from Hamas) and make the lives of the people of Gaza even more miserable - driving them into the arms of Hamas even faster. It won't stop Hamas - nothing will short of literally invading Gaza, occupying it, and imprisoning and/or killing every adult male. Which, mind you, some on the Israeli right are perfectly OK with.
Because a key part of the current coalition (which Netanyahu is VERY concerned with keeping on his side, to the point of obsession) believes in the dream of Greater Israel, aka Israel annexing the Golan, the West Bank, and depending on whom you talk to Gaza. A Northern Ireland style pullout is toxic to that group -- in a very real sense they *need* Hamas, as an object lesson in what happens when you pull out of Palestinian territory.
Interesting viewpoint on the conflict.
Arab Spring and the Israeli Enemy
It's looking like a cease fire is imminent, by the by. Curious what the details are, and if we can (hah!) get any closer to actual progress.
I also did not realize it's almost election time in Israel.
Most likely it will involve a cessation in rocket fire on Hamas' side, and Israel's acquiescence in Egypt's lifting of border controls to Gaza.
It is a very good point. But, at the same time, Arab world popular sentiment is not going to stand for Israel killing Palestinians for the simple reason that Palestinians speak their language, look like them, could be them, and it is far easier to unite with people you see as yours against people you see as the other than it is to unite against internal divisions.
Yeah. Although the internal divisions result in much more actual suffering, they don't attack people's identity or esteem, on the whole. And those are the real reasons most wars are fought.
So basically, to paraphrase the immortal words of Animal House, "you can't kill our people, only WE can kill our people."
That's a terribly written article... he probably isn't a native speaker, but still.
He's also pretty much right. Israel isn't the big problem for the Arab world, governments are. Unless you're Palestinian. And his claim that life in Palestine is better than life elsewhere in the Arab world is dubious. Why rank it? Oppression is oppression. That people show solidarity with Palestinians is great! Same with if people show it with Syrians, Libyans, Egyptians, Yemeni, Qatari, etc. In unity comes power.
When a conflict is used as a distraction, however, as it has throughout the Arab world, that doesn't mean the conflict or oppression are negligible.
I am immensely depressed by the entire Jerusalem situation. Talk about the very worst aspects of human nature (religiosity, tribalism, scapegoating, theocracy), squeezed for 3,000 years in a geographical pressure cooker. I usually consider myself reasonably politically aware, but in this case I just can't bring myself to pay very much attention, because both sides are so immensely guilty of so many of the same mistakes, and the entire thing is just so. fucking. irrational.
Usually in situations like this, I hope that it will get better when the old people die off. Unfortunately in this case that strategy hasn't worked in the last several thousand years, and doesn't seem to be getting any closer.
I particularly the traffic accidents number. I've been saying for a long time that if Israel considers the number of deaths from terrorism unacceptable, then they'd put cameras at every stop-light, put a fast-pass on every car to watch for speeding violations, and so on, because the bang for the buck you'd get is so much greater. Of course, they're never going to do that, because the # of deaths isn't the point and never has been.
On a personal note, I find the whole thing very depressing. I lived in Israel for a while (voted against Netanyahu in '96, and I still can't believe he was elected twice), my kids have a lot of relatives there, and it's hard for me to see the country turned so crazy. At least I console myself that my nephews are working for a group that is trying to force the Israeli public to acknowledge how bad life is in the Territories.
It's a great point but I think it speaks more to the human tendency to fear the wrong things and prioritize badly as a result than to any point specific to Israel. The US attitude toward terrorism is at least as at odds with reality; the statistic I became fond of early in the oughts is that ten or eleven times as many Americans die of the flu each year than have died of terrorism in all of history, but we've spent untold fortunes and lost a huge number of lives in vain attempts to fight the latter while there's little or no interest in implementing the actually effective solution to the former on a larger scale.
If we posted the same statistics about terrorism in the US and our reponse in Afghanistan and Iraq, we'd look much the same (or worse).
I agree with it about the US as well, but we weren't talking about the US in this thread.
Also, I find it a bit more depressing wrt Israel, because, in the time it took the US to go crazy and invade Iraq and then realize how crazy it was and start pulling out, Israel has made less than no progress. And, again, there's that personal attitude -- I lived in Israel when the Oslo Accords looked like they were going to lead somewhere, and what's happened since has been very demoralizing. Whereas I knew the US was going to react badly to 9/11, so there's not really that same sense of disappointment.
So judging the actors in this conflict based on asymmetrical results is really morally void, given that the only reason Hamas hasn't killed hundreds of thousands of Israelis is due to ability, not will. There certainly hasn't been any attempt by Hamas to minimize civilian casualties (Israeli or Palestinian). All it means is that Israel is technologically superior, not morally inferior -- Israel gives plenty of actual moral failings without judging them on having the temerity not to die in large enough numbers.
With this we agree.
While that's certainly true, it's only relevant if you're trying to make a judgment about who's "bad" in a moral sense. If you're interested in what's practical and what's justified from a pragmatic perspective, it absolutely makes sense to take those numbers into account and judge Israel's actions harshly based on them.
A bus in Tel Aviv was bombed. Terrorism, to the rescue! Don't worry, Gaza, you'll be safe now that the windows on that bus are smashed.
Except that basing policy on the incompetence and inability of your opponents lasts just long enough for them to prove you wrong. The problem Israel has with Hamas isn't its ability to kill massive numbers of Israelis, it's its continued attempts to kill massive numbers of Israelis.
Heard the aftermath of the bus bombing on commie liberal public radio this morning. A BBC correspondent was interviewing some official at the site when Israel retaliated with airstrikes described as a few kilometers away. Just the audio over FM radio of that was fucking terrifying.
I am very thankful today to live somewhere outside the threat of that sort of thing. Because fuck.
I don't really agree that the difference in death toll is irrelevant to moral culpability in this case, because the number of Israeli deaths versus the number of Palestinian deaths goes to the issue of proportionality. If so few Israelis die as a result of terrorism, and so many Palestinians are killed in attempting to stop terrorism, we might conclude that the Israeli response is disproportionate. A disproportionate response that ends far more innocent lives than it saves is at least arguably immoral. So the asymmetrical results do have a moral aspect.
War is immoral by definition (I don't subscribe to just war theory) thus the concept of proportionate response in warfare is by definition kind of silly. Israel's response to Hamas isn't wrong because they kill too many Palestinian civilians (one killed is one too many), just as there is no such thing as an acceptable number of Israeli deaths to Hamas rocket fire. It's wrong because it is counterproductive and won't bring the state of war and the imminent killing of more civilians to an end.
Speaking of futility, a ceasefire was just announced and is supposed to take effect in about a half an hour. My bet: broken in 15 minutes.
Can you just feel the love?
The question of proportionality isn't unique to just war theory. I think some use of violence can be justified both by individuals and by states on the basis of self-defence or protection of the vulnerable, but that use of violence must be proportionate to its end. Obviously you are entitled to disagree, but likewise I am entitled to disagree with your assertion that any war is inherently immoral. If you think all wars are inherently immoral and that therefore proportionality is irrelevant, you should argue that rather than just assert it to be the case.
What I can feel is the mortal terror in that man's eyes. Hillary 2016!
I quite agree with your response to the Economist chart-dump, but the chart does also lay out useful information about the scale of the disproportion of military power, at least for those who weren't already clear on it. (The one thing I disagreed with was the traffic accidents figure - brains don't work that anywhere, so why expect them to in Israel?)
On the question of "just war," and "proportionality" (and at the risk of sounding pompous) I'd claim the following: Whether or not one thinks that war is a moral nadir of humanity and that the phrase/concept of just war is a grotesque conflation of justice with said nadir, it's still a practical fact that few people would equate the Anglo-American war against Nazism with, say, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. War is not so infinitely, immeasurably bad that some wars aren't worse than others.
And similarly "proportionality in war" isn't really something one can reject as a ubiquitous, omni-relevant concept even if it is sometimes rejected as a matter of policy, and even if, as you correctly point out, it isn't a magical guide to moral culpability for violence based on who deviates from it.
Anyway. Thank goodness there's a ceasefire and that there wasn't an invasion.
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