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Party of God Using Human Shields in a Christian Neighborhood:

[NEW UPDATE: NY Times: But for some of the Christians who had made it out in this convoy, it was not just privations they wanted to talk about, but their ordeal at the hands of Hezbollah — a contrast to the Shiites, who make up a vast majority of the population in southern Lebanon and broadly support the militia.

"Hezbollah came to Ain Ebel to shoot its rockets," said Fayad Hanna Amar, a young Christian man, referring to his village. "They are shooting from between our houses." ... Mr. Amar said Hezbollah fighters in groups of two and three had come into Ain Ebel, less than a mile from Bint Jbail, where most of the fighting has occurred. They were using it as a base to shoot rockets, he said, and the Israelis fired back.

One woman, who would not give her name because she had a government job and feared retribution, said Hezbollah fighters had killed a man who was trying to leave Bint Jbail.

"This is what's happening, but no one wants to say it" for fear of Hezbollah, she said.]

The Australian Herald Sun publishes the picture below and others, smuggled out of Lebanon. According to the Herald Sun, the pictures were taken in a Christian neighborhood in East Beirut town called Wadi Chahrour [my error corrected], and show Lebanese Party of God (Hezbollah) militiamen, in civilian clothes, hiding and using weapons in a densely populated area.

The Melbourne man who smuggled the shots out of Beirut told yesterday how he was less than 400m from the block when it was obliterated.

``Hezbollah came in to launch their rockets [counterterrorism blog wrote about this a few days ago], then within minutes the area was blasted by Israeli jets,'' he said.

``Until the Hezbollah fighters arrived, it had not been touched by the Israelis. Then it was totally devastated.

``After the attacks they didn't even allow the ambulances or the Lebanese Army to come in until they had cleaned the area, removing their rockets and hiding other evidence.

``Two innocent people died in that incident but it was so lucky it was not more. ` `The people there were horrified and disgusted at what Hezbollah were doing.''

The fighters used trucks, driven into residential areas, as launch pads for the rockets, he said.

Thanks to reader Victor Steinbok for the tip.

UPDATE: Party of God gets what it wants: There are only two reasons to put missile launchers in (when they are not in use) and next to (when they are in use) apartment buildings, and, for that matter, to have your local militia headquarters double as the local bomb shelter; the first is the hope that it will dissuade the enemy from attacking you, and the second is the hope that if they do bomb you, many civilians will be killed, leading to a propaganda victory. Unfortunately, the Party of God has benefited from both--many commentators in the Israeli media believe that the eight Israeli soldiers killed and dozens wounded a few days ago would not have met this fate if, instead of going house to house to search for Party of God fighters, Israel had leveled the buildings they were hiding in. So the Party of God got at least a partial military victory. Today, Israel leveled a building they were hiding in, which unfortunately also turned out to house many innocent children. So the Party of God gets a propaganda victory. Those who relexively condemn Israel when the Party of God's strategy works (and Israel inadvertantly kills civilians) are being worse than naive; they are encouraging not just the Party of God, but other terrorist groups, to use human shields in the future, as it proves to be an effective strategy.

Further Update: Here's footage of the Party of God firing missiles at Israel from behind an apartment building.

R.S.:
Crush, and crush, and crush, and crush Hezbollah.

Sadly, Olmert is not doing this. We need to bring back Bibi.

Crush Hezbollah. Crush, and crush, and crush and crush.
7.30.2006 3:13am
JonBuck (mail):
Hizbollah knows that our media will only trumpet the civilan deaths, not that the cause are the terrorists using them as human shields. The MSM is playing right into their propaganda.
7.30.2006 3:21am
fishbane (mail):
JonBuck is right, in a way. Warfare is changing, as proven by the neat little Windows widget Israel is pushing to funnel an "army of Davids" (search for your own irony on your break) at sites that might be critical. R.S. misses the point that unfortunately, they've already lost the war. As sympathetic as I am, it bothers me that they've so seriously screwed up, and I fear where that will take the U.S., which has effectively no policy in place about this.
7.30.2006 3:36am
Speaking the Obvious:
I await the headline "Party of God Using Human Shields In Christian Country" to justify Israel's bombing of the entire country...
7.30.2006 4:05am
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
We must understand that Hezbollah, and other Islamofascist terrorist organizations, operate much like the Mafia, and gain territory through intimidation and subjugation of the native populous.

The pacifist left might point to Hezbollah's civic work in southern Lebanon. But the same can be said of Al Capone in South Chicago.
7.30.2006 4:58am
Barry:
The article says:

``Two innocent people died in that incident but it was so lucky it was not more. ` `The people there were horrified and disgusted at what Hezbollah were doing.''

Let's be perfectly clear. Human shields are not "innocent". They are war criminals are legitimate targets.
7.30.2006 4:59am
R.S.:
Fishbane,
I don't think we're so far off--Israel as presently led *has* lost--so-----------crazy to deny that-----but, that doesn't legitimate every crazy reaction to it--------personally, I think we need "boots on the ground" throughout S. Lebanon *and* the Bekaa Valley. . . . Israeli lives are precious, but we can't afford to lose. . . we can only lose once. . . .i.e., never!
7.30.2006 5:35am
Jared K.:
Barry, I still don't understand that claim. Those who make people into human shields are war criminals, of course, but how are the human shields themselves culpable? Do you really think the entire neighborhood supported Hezbollah's actions and willingly became a target?
7.30.2006 5:43am
some guest:
Maybe I'm missing something, but how does that photo support the assertion that Hezbollah is using a christian neighborhood for human shields? All I see are some guys standing around a big gun. It could be anywhere. At most, it supports the assertion that "some brown people have a big gun somewhere." If you want to post a claim that Hezbollah is operating in civilian clothes out of christian neighborhoods and using them as human shields, fine, but please be clear that it is only a claim based on someone's assertions. It is disingenuous imply that the photo you posted somehow substantiates that claim.
7.30.2006 6:01am
Guest from USA:
Try not believing everything that our government and media spin it. I used to be 100% pro-Israel, and consider myself brainwashed back then. If you want to see how we Americans are brainswashed through our media then take the time to watch this popular video:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7828123714384920696

"Americans need to wake up and find out what is happening in our name throughtout the world - we have a responsibility - if we pretend to live in a democratic society - to know what our government is supporing, what it is doing overseas - in our name and with our tax dollars."
7.30.2006 7:12am
Christopher M (mail):
I posted this on the last threat on the subject, but since the discussion seems to have moved here, I'm reposting it.

I've often agreed with logicnazi in the past, but his statement that "the idea that somehow civillians should be off limits is absurd, especially in a democracy" is crazy. That way war crimes lie.

It's especially crazy in this context. From 2000 (when Israel withdrew from Lebanon) to June 2006, the violence inflicted on Israel by Hezbollah amounted to: twenty dead (of which seven were civilians), thirty-four wounded (of which seven were civilians), and three IDF soldiers and two Israeli Arabs captured. Add the seven dead and two kidnapped in July.

Hezbollah's direct attacks on Israeli civilians were revolting war crimes, and even their military attacks are unjustified because their cause is racist, genocidal, and utterly illiberal.

But consider the response: 300 dead Lebanese civilians. At least 600 wounded. The infrastructure of Lebanon's hopefuly democracy, demolished. At least 600,000 -- six hundred thousand -- people forced out of their homes. Being a refugee is not healthy, and a fair number of those people will die. Israel's officials admit that even this offensive will not come close to eradicating Hezbollah.

The official position of Israel's Justice Minister is that "all those now in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah," because "Israel ha[s] given the civilians of southern Lebanon ample time to quit the area and therefore anyone still remaining there could be considered a Hezbollah supporter." The idea here is that once a foreign government tells civilians to leave, no matter what their health, what their economic condition, what their personal situation, they ipso facto become terrorists and legitimate military targets. Again: that way war crimes lie.

The emotional and psychological pressure on Israelis is intense and difficult to imagine. The Jewish faith has been targeted, time and again through the centuries, by murderous and often racialist bigots. Israel is a small country, surrounded by enemies of various stripes, to which it is massively superior militarily but nevertheless beseiged on a small scale. Sympathy comes easy (to me, at least), as does scorn for many of Israel's Islamist opponents. But blame is not a zero-sum game. Neither people nor nations are cordoned off from morality by the iniquity of their enemies. Israel's revenge offensive is unjustified. The calls in these comments and elsewhere for the mass killing of Muslims, Lebanese, and Arabs (three disjoint sets) is unjustified by anything other than a bloodlust that is better left consigned to parts of the Tanakh (the Old Testament) that people generally skip over today.
7.30.2006 8:52am
anon252 (mail):
Some Guest: Did you only read the post headline, and look at the picture, but not actually read the text, which very clearly states, "According to the Sunday Mail ..."?

Christopher M, you have a very strange sense of proportion if you think that it's okay for a terrorist group to be lobbing missles across the border every so often, forcing tens of thousands of people into shelters, with the threat that at any time, the terrorist group, affiliated with a country that explicitly announces its intention to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, could lob thousands of them at every city in Israel, killing thousands. Israel's reaction is completely proportionate to the threat it was under, and the responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and the deaths lies with Hezbollah. The only question in my mind is whether it would have been more efficient AND less costly in human suffering if Israel had simply told Syria that Damascus would be levevled if Hezbollah didn't disband immediately. But, Some Guest, that means that Syria and Iran could have called Israel's bluff, leading to a regional war with Iran and Syria, too, and you'd be whining about civilian casualties in Iran and Syria.
7.30.2006 9:23am
anon252 (mail):
I meant, "but Christopher." And btw, the infrastructure is Lebanon is not "demolished." Most of the country has power, water, etc. Even the airport just needs repairs to the runway to be back in service. The terminal buildings, control towers, etc, which would be much more costly to replace, are completely intact. If you want to be accurate, say there is millions and millions of dollars damage to the infrastructure, which has the advantage of actually being true, or at least, SOME of the infrastructure has been damaged.
7.30.2006 9:28am
spider:
All the defenders of Israel are saying "Israel has the right to defend itself; QED." OK, but do you really think that the amount of death, destruction and displacement that the IDF has wrought was requisite to remove Hizballah as a threat? Why not try a politically negotiated disarmament (as with KLA, ETA, IRA, etc., enforced by NATO, instead of blowing Lebanon to bits? As a result of Israel's chosen course of action, 1) There's a lot more death, destruction and displacement in the region than there was one month ago; and 2) Israel specifically is less secure, because they probably just inspired thousands of more Arabs/Muslims to become homicidal terrorists (I'm not endorsing the culture of terrorism in the Arab/Muslim world, but there it is for ya).
7.30.2006 10:11am
Dawnsblood (mail):
Guest from USA, I watched your stupid video and if it caused you to "consider myself brainwashed" you are a very sad individual. I will not hash out the early history, I'll only make one point. Israel pulled out of Gaza and southern Lebanon. Pray tell, where are they being attacked from now?
7.30.2006 10:19am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
The US gets attacked one time(admittedly pretty bad) and invades 2 countries, arrests the leader of one, puts a $25,000,000 bounty on the other, drops how many thousands of bombs on both countries, and then gives Israel crap about "proportional response"? The proportional response would be Israel invades Syria and Iraq, puts Bashar on trial and forces Ahmindidajhad into hiding.
7.30.2006 10:29am
PatHMV (mail) (www):
Spider, because "politically negotiated disarmament" has already been tried. That was precisely the deal under which Israel agreed to pull out of Lebanon in 2000. Indeed, there have been U.N. "peace keepers" with boots on the ground in Southern Lebanon ever since then, and they didn't do a single solitary thing to force Hezbollah to disarm. Indeed, as our host has noted, the U.N. forces looked on as Hezbollah kidnapped Israeli soldiers and actively conspired to hide evidence which would have helped Israel capture the kidnappers. What makes you think a new multilateral force would be any different? What makes you think Hezbollah would agree to disarm?
7.30.2006 10:46am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Guest from USA,

Your video is an utter joke. The 30 seconds of the video destroyed its own credibility. Yes, horrible, evil Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza...

Israel gained those territories through a defensive war. As such, international allows Israel to maintain control over those terrorities as long as they like until a formal peace agreement is formed for the return of the captured land. A UN resolution mandating the return does not make their occupation illegal.

I recommend http://www.seconddraft.org/cur_invest.php if people are concerned about propaganda. Its a site run by Richard Landes at BU. It details how Palestinians and their media dupe the Western media. It goes fairly indepth to explain how they operate. Very interesting. I highly recommend it. It provides some nice insight into the current situation with Hezbollah.
7.30.2006 10:54am
Twill00:
I agree about the video losing its credibility after thirty seconds. "Israel was in a war with ...[list aggressor countries]" may be marginally true, but it is an obfuscation. "Israel was attacked by [countries]" would have been plain truth. If the truth value of the film is equivalent to the first thirty seconds, it would be a waste of an hour of my time to watch it.
7.30.2006 11:26am
Guest from USA:
Humble Law Student,

So you didn't watch but 30 seconds? If you see the facts presented and use common sense, the video is just one thing I found convincing. You actually think the Palestinians get a fair shake in the US media? It's incredulous to think so. I'll check out your video, but you appear to be as brainwashed as I was. I was to the point where I supported a Palestinian State, so we could know where to drop the bombs. It was sad.
7.30.2006 11:28am
Robert Lutton:
So, Mr Bernstein, let me see if I understand this. You publish a picture of people manning a defensive anti-aircraft weapon with a range of perhaps a mile or two that according to you is located in Beirut. I think that Israel is about 80 miles out of range from this type of weapon stationed in Beirut. So what exactly is your point?
7.30.2006 11:33am
Lurker (mail):
The fact that Noam's name appeared in the beginning of this movie immediately destroyed the credibility of this moving.
7.30.2006 11:41am
Passing By:
I'm really uncomfortable with this series of posts by Prof. Bernstein, which all-too-often echo the pretexts used by Palestinian terrorists for attacks on Israeli settlers and settlements.
7.30.2006 11:46am
Another guest from USA:
So just how does this work? President Clinton destroys Bosnia and kills thousands of people. Bosnia is left in shambles and it's citizens have no water/electricity/hospitals...yet the world finds no problems with his actions. President Bush doesn't condem Israel for doing much less, and the world attacks the USA for not doing enough to stop it. I think the world press is very selective in what it sees as right and wrong. thom
7.30.2006 11:48am
anon252 (mail):
Robert, again, do you mind actually reading the post before you comment? According to the Herald Sun, the photo shows Hezbollah terrorists in civilian clothes with their weapons in a civilian neighborhood. The text states that the photographer saw these same militiamen launching missles from this neighborhood at Israel. Thus, there are two separate issues: whether Hezbollah is hiding itself among the civilian population, including an unwilling civilian population; and whether Hezbollah is launching missles (the photographer may have confused missles with anti-aircraft fire, but who knows) from civilian neighborhoods, including Christian neighborhoods. You could choose to be skeptical of the authenticity of the photos, or the accounts, or both. But don't distort the post.
7.30.2006 11:48am
rarango (mail):
The idea of negotiating with Hezbollah seems a bit silly to me. An earlier poster cited political negotions with the IRA, ETA etc as examples of such negotiation with non-state actors. True enough--except the aims of those organizations was independence or separatism versus the stated objective of Hezbollah to destroy Israel and wipe it off the map.

It should also be recalled that Hezbollah could end this situation right now by returning two Israeli soldiers and stopping the rocket attacks on Israel--that seems a rather small "price" to pay for stopping the on-going war. Would someone point out why that is such an unreasonable demand?

And for Mr. Lutton: do you not believe that hezbollah operates out of civilian areas thereby increasing the risk of civilian casualties when the IDF responds? And let me also suggest that an a "defensive anti-aircraft weapon" also packs a considerable offensive punch when fired ground to ground. What, exactly, was your point?
7.30.2006 11:49am
Chukuang:
Let's be perfectly clear. Human shields are not "innocent". They are war criminals are legitimate targets.

Whether or not one faults Israel in this particular incident, and I think there are legitimate arguments on both sides, the idea that 37 children are "war criminals" is absurd. On what basis do you make this argument? Should kids in crack houses be put in jail? How about kids whose parents commit securities fraud and benefit by getting shiny toys? Should those little bastards be locked up as well? Did you mean to call them little Eichmanns, Ward?
7.30.2006 11:49am
anon252 (mail):
Passing, when have Palestinian terrorists EVER tried to AVOID civilian casualties, as opposed to MAXIMIZING them?
7.30.2006 11:51am
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Theyre not really "manning" the gun,they look more like tourists at a military museum. Love how the guy in the middles inadvertantly got his AK pointed at tubbos chin.
7.30.2006 11:53am
kippy (mail):
Suppose there were a viligante militia occupying south Texas causing problems with Mexico because they are tired of illegal immigration and drug smuggling and criminals sneaking into the US and utter lack of enforcment on the Mexican side of the border, and the US did nothing about it. If this militia were making forays into Mexico to kidnap and kill, and lobbing explosives into Mexican territory, killing Mexican citizens and military..... The world would be screaming for the US to disarm and disable this militia. If the US did nothing, and Mexico decided to attack Texas to defend itself, and if Mexico levelled cities and infrastructure and killed American citizens in the process, there would be no screaming for Mexico to stop it's 'dispropotionate response'. No, there would be cheering for Mexico to kick Texas' @ss. And the US would be blamed for not maintaining control of this illegal militia in it's territory.

And rightly so.

I see no difference whatsoever. Lebanon did NOT disarm hezbollah, as they were directed. Hezbollah is operating from Lebanese territory and attacking Israel. Israel has every right to do what the UN, the Lebanese government, and the world has not done!

I am sorry for loss of innocent lives, but Israel has the right to maintain it's own security. And the rest of the world shares the blame for innocent deaths because they did nothing.
7.30.2006 11:53am
Leland (mail):
Robert Lutton;

Let's play this game... I agree that this appears to be an anti-aircraft weapon, and that its range would be probably 5 miles or so. Certainly, this is a typically defensive weapon, and if it is in Beirut, it is definitely no offensive threat to Israel.

Given all that, what is the valid reason for the Lebanese government to have Hezbollah move defensive AA into their capital?

I've never been to Lebanon, so I wouldn't no a Christian enclave from a Muslim one. I do know that the building in the background appears to be an civilian complex (offices or apartments) That seems like a bad place to locate artillery pieces, regardless of range.
7.30.2006 11:55am
DavidBernstein (mail):
My error, it's not in Beirut, but nowhere near Beirut. The article said "east of Beirut" and I read it as "eastern Beirut." The launch of missles from this town has been reported elsewhere, as the corrected post now notes.
7.30.2006 11:59am
Enoch:
Israel specifically is less secure, because they probably just inspired thousands of more Arabs/Muslims to become homicidal terrorists

It is perfectly clear that what Israel does or does not do has no bearing on the decisions of Arabs/Muslims to become terrorists. The mere existence of Israel is what inspires Arabs/Muslims to become terrorists.

The US gets attacked one time(admittedly pretty bad) and invades 2 countries, arrests the leader of one, puts a $25,000,000 bounty on the other, drops how many thousands of bombs on both countries, and then gives Israel crap about "proportional response"?

The people in the US who are giving Israel crap about disproportionality (i.e. the Left) also oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I feel sure that most people who endorsed a vigorous US response to 9/11 in Afghanistan also endorse a thorough Israeli beatdown of Hezbollah.

So just how does this work? President Clinton destroys Bosnia and kills thousands of people. Bosnia is left in shambles and it's citizens have no water/electricity/hospitals...yet the world finds no problems with his actions.

You must not have been paying attention. There were massive protests against Clinton's war in Serbia, and the world most definitely "had a problem" with his actions.
7.30.2006 12:16pm
Barry:
Quote:


Whether or not one faults Israel in this particular incident, and I think there are legitimate arguments on both sides, the idea that 37 children are "war criminals" is absurd. On what basis do you make this argument? Should kids in crack houses be put in jail? How about kids whose parents commit securities fraud and benefit by getting shiny toys? Should those little bastards be locked up as well? Did you mean to call them little Eichmanns, Ward?


The idea that somehow these instruments of jihad - children who knowingly remain in a home where warriors without identifying marks hide - are "innocent" is stupid and will lead to more deaths. If the mohammed-worshippers understood that human shields would not protect them, then they wouldn't use them. Israel's failed and stupid policy of avoiding "civilian" (i.e. non-military war criminals) casualties, has only led to more deaths.
7.30.2006 12:55pm
Erasmussimo:
I find aspects of this discussion disturbingly unfair. The presumption of many correspondents seems to be twofold:

1. Hezbollah fighters should fight out in the open where Israeli forces can kill them without hurting civilians. On the one hand, I can understand the moral problems raised by a low-tech military force hiding among civilians. The high-tech force would prefer to have them isolated from civilians so that it can annihilate them with firepower. But we cannot deny the military correctness of the low-tech strategy of hiding among civilians. The old military adage is "fight on the ground of your own choosing", and it seems to me that demanding that Hezbollah fight in the open is little different from whining that they're not fighting on the ground of Israel's choosing.

It can justifiably be argued that the laws of war forbid Hezbollah from fighting in civilian areas. I acknowledge this. Much of our problem here comes from the fact that we are shifting into Fourth Generation warfare, and the laws of war were written for Third Generation warfare. 4G warfare is doing to the laws of war what the Internet has been doing to intellectual property law: making matters much messier.

As we struggle with the moral issues here, some would have us reject the underlying principles of the laws of war. They argue that we should simply massacre civilians in total disregard to the notion that killing innocent people is wrong. I reject their recommendation out of hand. Yes, it's frustrating when your enemy fails to stand out in the open with a big target painted on his chest. That doesn't justify killing noncombatants.

Some attempt a moral ju-jitsu by claiming that the IDF has no moral responsibility for killing civilians when Hezbollah hides among them. According to them, the IDF didn't kill the civilians, Hezbollah did (through its tactics). This reminds me of the murderer claiming "I didn't kill the victim. The bullet did."

Let's play a reverse scenario here. Imagine a Hezbollah fighter complaining that the IDF doesn't fight like men. According to him, the only fair way to fight would be duke it out mano a mano, each guy armed with a manly sword, proving their worth one to one as men. The fact that Israelis fight with high-tech weapons against soldiers armed with low-tech weapons is shameful and immoral, our Hezbollah proponent would argue. Because what they are doing is immoral, he says, Hezbollah is justified in using any tactic it can to counter the IDF advantage. I don't agree with this line of reasoning -- and it is a fair analog of the Israeli line of reasoning.

2. The second presumption of many correspondents is that the Lebanese government and the rest of the world are responsible for the existence of Hezbollah armed forces in southern Lebanon, and therefore all the civilian deaths should be blamed on the Lebanese government, not Israel. The problem here is the assumption that Lebanon is a mature political entity with all the trappings thereof. It isn't. It's a fragile, shaky, jury-rigged collection of people who don't agree on much. They simply don't have the political capacity to enforce the writ of law over the entire country. We have exactly the same problem in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, even in our own country we cannot enforce the law perfectly -- laws are broken millions of times every day and we only apprehend some of the criminals. The ability of a government to enforce the rule of law runs from something like 0% in places like Somalia to perhaps 90% in places like the USA. Lebanon had been coming up until the Israeli invasion twenty years ago, which sent its enforcement capability plummeting. It was slowly building it back up again and now this new invasion has once again set it back.

Clearly, this is a never-ending problem, and clearly we need to address it. Demanding that every country in the world must maintain 100% enforcement of the rule of law is grossly unrealistic. Arguing that a nation's failure to adequately enforce the rule of law justifies invasion opens up a rat's nest of possibilities. It would give any powerful country in the world a pretext for invading neighboring countries. If we acquiesce to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, we will have no basis for protesting any other nation's invasions. Turkey could invade northern Iraq because of the Kurdish insurgents. Iran could invade Iraq (once we're gone) for the same reasons. Is this what we want?
7.30.2006 12:58pm
CaDan (mail):
I don't get it.

This appears to be a truck with an anti-aircraft gun in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Another picture at the original site makes this a bit clearer.

Is the argument that this justifies blowing up the apartment complex?
7.30.2006 1:08pm
Barry:
Eramussio:

Quote:

1. Hezbollah fighters should fight out in the open where Israeli forces can kill them without hurting civilians.

Well, how about that. Welcome to the wonderful of international law, bucko. Fighters who hide in homes, the "civilians" who hide them, the "innocent children" who knowingly help them are war criminals. Its not "frustrating" or "difficult". The use of civil cover makes the participants warriors and therefore the guilty civilians and the wicked children legitimate targets.

Mohammed-worshippers and liberals like you who support jihad think to understand that strapping a child to your back makes you immune to retaliation. Well guess what, liberal, It doesn't. A child who is an instrument of a war crime and may be shot on sight and the warrior is a war criminal and may be shot on sight as well.

Quote:

Demanding that every country in the world must maintain 100% enforcement of the rule of law is grossly unrealistic.

Do you remember how the international left and the media went nuts after Abu Ghraib? Didn't hear much of the "countries cannot enforce their laws 100%" argument then.

Yes, obviously you can't expect 100% enforcement of the laws (look at France, Northern Europe and Israel where sections of those countries operate under the teachings of sharia). But there is a difference where the non-enforcements victimizes people within the country - i.e. victims of Sharia - and when non-enforcement includes war crimes against another country.
7.30.2006 1:13pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
I'm no fan of Hezbollah, that's for sure, but... Blaming the dead children for this, and calling them "war criminals"???

You all have lost your frickin' marbles. You'd better hope there's no Hell, because if there is, it most assuredly has a special place in it for people who think like this.
7.30.2006 1:21pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
Apartment complex? Looks like a military barracks to me.
7.30.2006 1:22pm
Barry:
"Blaming the dead children".

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2003/20031122/w3.jpg

Yes, I blame these children.
Their participation in jihad was a very bad decision for them to make.
7.30.2006 1:36pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't blame the children. I don't even necessarily blame their parents; Israel warned everyone to clear out, but maybe not everyone had the resources and wherewithal to leave. I do blame the Party of God, for intentionally putting them at risk to create new "Shahids" for internal purposes, and civilian deaths for Western propaganda purposes.
7.30.2006 1:48pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

OK, but do you really think that the amount of death, destruction and displacement that the IDF has wrought was requisite to remove Hizballah as a threat?


Apparently not: they're still a threat now.
7.30.2006 1:50pm
frankcross (mail):
Barry's battle cry: "Kill the children!"
"Kill the children1"
7.30.2006 1:54pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

Is the argument that this justifies blowing up the apartment complex?


Depends on what you mean by "justifies". What it does show is that it makes blowing up the apartment complex nearly unavoidable. You can't tell a 500 lb bomb "okay, blow up the guys on the truck, but stop blowing up when you reach the building."
7.30.2006 1:54pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

Your logic is fatally flawed and here is why.

You said, "According to them, the IDF didn't kill the civilians, Hezbollah did (through its tactics). This reminds me of the murderer claiming 'I didn't kill the victim. The bullet did.'"

Are you joking? That analogy is as far off as you can get. The KEY distinction is that the murderer is trying to kill the innocent victim. A much more apt analogy is a murderer grabs a victim and uses the victim to shield himself while going on a rampage shooting at people. A policeman comes and in an effort to stop the murderer fro killing more people, shoots at the murderer, killing the victim in the process. Is it the policeman's fault? No, it is the murderers.


The rest of your first point is a complete and utter strawman. No one that I can tell is advocating as you stated "... that we should simply massacre civilians in total disregard to the notion that killing innocent people is wrong." If anyone is, they are stupid and shouldn't be bothered with.

You correctly point out the differences between the military efficacy of Hezbollah's tactics and the moral questions their tactics raise. Nevertheless, your moral argument fails as your does your analogy that I destroyed above.

As to your second point, obviously the debate revolves around line drawing. Your argument is rather worthless as anymore more than that because of course you would recognize the fact that a country has the right to protect its citizenry from enemies that attack it, even if it comes from terrorist groups operating from countries that can't necessarily control them. The issue is over what amount of provocation suffices.
7.30.2006 2:01pm
Shangui (mail):
Yes, I blame these children.
Their participation in jihad was a very bad decision for them to make.


Barry,

If you have small children, just hope they don't get blown up by someone who assumes they share your murderous insane ideology. My guess is you don't, or you'd understand the idiocy of your remarks and would have even thought these things in the first place.

And were the kids in your picture the same ones blown up the Christian area where the bombs we're discussing hit? Kinda doubt it, jackass.
7.30.2006 2:01pm
Marc Schulman (mail) (www):
I've covered similar ground with similar conclusions here.
7.30.2006 2:04pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Guest from USA,

Based upon your comments about how you were before you chnaged - you were a quite delusional supporter of Israel. Your change of heart only leads me to think you are a delusional opponent of Israel. Neither harks well for you.
7.30.2006 2:11pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Islam thinks Israel and America are making war on it, and it is making war on America and Israel; while at least America does not think it is making war on Islam. There is your disproportion.

Bush's policy of appeasement has not worked. Surprise, surprise. But he's sticking with it.
7.30.2006 2:15pm
Erasmussimo:
Humble Law Student, the analogy is useful in that it addresses the attempt to shift blame from the actual killer to somebody else. Killing an innocent person is wrong -- you cannot deny that. Yes, circumstances can extenuate the moral onus, but they cannot *justify* the action. There is no situation that justifies killing innocent people. (Although I must admit that much hangs here on the fine distinction between justification and extenuation.) You can only argue after the fact that the killing of innocent people was an undesirable consequence of the justifiable act of killing a combatant. Before the fact, you must make all reasonable efforts to minimize such casualties. We can disagree about what constitutes 'reasonable efforts', but I categorically reject the claim that the killing of innocent people is intrinsically justifiable.

You claim that nobody here is arguing that we should massacre civilians. I'll agree that none of the serious commentators make such an argument, but there are people in this forum advocating such a course of action. Surely the two of us, as reasonable people, can together condemn such suggestions?

You write, "You correctly point out the differences between the military efficacy of Hezbollah's tactics and the moral questions their tactics raise. Nevertheless, your moral argument fails as your does your analogy that I destroyed above." Could you please explain your reasoning here?

Your final paragraph is garbled. You seem to be saying that the defining criterion is the degree of provocation; I consider the problem more complex than just the provocation. For example, if a nut case in El Pase were to drop a handful of mortar rounds into Ciudad Juarez, and the US government did nothing to stop him, then I belief that the Mexican government would have a basis for a claim against the USA. On the other hand, if a similar nut case in Lebanon were to carry out exactly the same attack -- the same degree of provocation -- I would think that Israel would have a lesser basis for a claim against Lebanon, because the Lebanese government does not have the same degree of control over its citizens that the American government has.
7.30.2006 2:33pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I'm sure Fat Man and Little Boy killed thousands of children in 1945 but Japan hasnt really bothered anyone since then either. Think of all the Japanese kids who didnt have to join the army, pilot kamikazee planes, or hide out in caves for 40 years. Israel would be doing Iran a favor by nuking Tehran and Qom, inside of 20 years Iran would be the new Japan, with millions of them visiting the U.S. each year to take advantage of the exchange rate.
7.30.2006 2:52pm
TJIT (mail):
I don't understand why Israel is not doing more against Syria and Iran. Those two countries are the driving force behind hezbollah and they will begin rebuilding the hezbollah presence in Lebanon as soon as the current military action ends.
7.30.2006 3:25pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

Okay, looks like I need to fisk you line by line.

"the analogy is useful in that it addresses the attempt to shift blame from the actual killer to somebody else. Killing an innocent person is wrong -- you cannot deny that"

- Do we blame the policeman for accidently shooting the innocent? No. We blame the guy who grabbed the innocent victim as a shield and went around shooting at others.

"Yes, circumstances can extenuate the moral onus, but they cannot *justify* the action. There is no situation that justifies killing innocent people. (Although I must admit that much hangs here on the fine distinction between justification and extenuation.) You can only argue after the fact that the killing of innocent people was an undesirable consequence of the justifiable act of killing a combatant."

Several problems with this.
- First, you didn't argue in your posts nor did I that it can be "justified" to kill innocent civilans. Yes, I agree it is never "justified", but that is irrelevant to our discussion.
- Second, excuse is the more accurate term.
- Third, just because something isn't "justified" that doesn't mean the actor deserves moral condemnation. We don't condemn the policeman for killing the innocent victim if he made a good faith effort to get at the murderer. Yes, it was very unfortunate that innocent person died, but we don't get angry at the policeman but at that sick SOB murderer who used the human shield.

"We can disagree about what constitutes 'reasonable efforts', but I categorically reject the claim that the killing of innocent people is intrinsically justifiable."

- Once again, you creating a complete strawman. I never argued that and it is irrelevant to my points.

"You claim that nobody here is arguing that we should massacre civilians. I'll agree that none of the serious commentators make such an argument, but there are people in this forum advocating such a course of action. Surely the two of us, as reasonable people, can together condemn such suggestions?"

- haha. No one is arguing that, so why bring it up? Once again, another attempt at a strawman - that, or just completely irrelevant arguments again.

"You write, "You correctly point out the differences between the military efficacy of Hezbollah's tactics and the moral questions their tactics raise. Nevertheless, your moral argument fails as your does your analogy that I destroyed above." Could you please explain your reasoning here?"

- You seem to ascribe moral equivalency between the actions of Israel and Hezbollah. The important point is intent, and it brings me back to the policeman analogy and why your analogies utterly fail (as explained before).

"Your final paragraph is garbled. You seem to be saying that the defining criterion is the degree of provocation; I consider the problem more complex than just the provocation. For example, if a nut case in El Pase were to drop a handful of mortar rounds into Ciudad Juarez, and the US government did nothing to stop him, then I belief that the Mexican government would have a basis for a claim against the USA. On the other hand, if a similar nut case in Lebanon were to carry out exactly the same attack -- the same degree of provocation -- I would think that Israel would have a lesser basis for a claim against Lebanon, because the Lebanese government does not have the same degree of control over its citizens that the American government has."

- Provacation is context specific.
- My point was that you spent many words making an argument that basically comes down to this, "Israel has a right to defend itself. But, they shouldn't have acted against the Lebanese government because they couldn't control Hezbollah. By allowing Israel to act as it is, it provides a justification for other countries to act in what you consider analagous situations."
- Okay, fine, but this solves nothing. I think the situations aren't analagous and you do. Neither of us provides much in the way of support. So, this arguments leads us nowhere.
7.30.2006 3:47pm
marc:
My supposition at this point is that Israel is not engaging Damascus and Tehran because Messrs Bush, Blair et al have let it be known that they won't support such efforts.
7.30.2006 3:48pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
TJIT,

The operating principle here is: One war at a time.

However, this is increasingly 'not an option'. Jihadistan has morphed into a global problem over the last 50 years, with enemies coming at Israel and America (and, many others) from all directions.

Somehow, the Left Wing of human society thinks that they will be "Heroes of the Revolution" by exercising their 'Multicultural Agenda', excusing all outrages against innocent citizens of those countries targetted, and, decrying any innocent victims that result from retaliation.

They've got a huge surprise coming, should this Jihad succeed. In Islamic Society, there is no greater sin than atheism, and, all who profess to be Socialists or Left Wing will be so indicted, and, the first to fall in the pogroms to follow.

Human Shields

Most of those used as 'Human Shields' in Lebanon have not been willing sacrifices (many were literally held at gunpoint to insure their injury or death), save those who've dedicated their lives to Hezbollah. However, the curious phenomena of Mothers dedicating their Sons (and, even Daughters) to the "Intifada," and, sending them out to become "Homicide Bombers," that renders even tiny children "Warriors of God" (they are known to beg for the privilege).

It's not just the adults who are going out to destroy the enemy, it's children who 'volunteer' to be Hezbollahs protectors (Human Shields), as well. You must kill the 'non-combatants' to get at the combatants. There is no alternative.
7.30.2006 4:32pm
Dick King:

Israel specifically is less secure, because they probably just inspired thousands of more Arabs/Muslims to become homicidal terrorists (I'm not endorsing the culture of terrorism in the Arab/Muslim world, but there it is for ya).


yeah, and if you give the schoolyard bully your lunch money every few days they might not bother you more. Or they might.

With what they teach in the madrases the number of homicidal terrorists is not currently the rate-limiting step.

-dk
7.30.2006 4:50pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
You cannot reason with the 'Captive Mind', ultimately, you can only kill it.
7.30.2006 4:52pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
I'll believe Eramussimo is not just a Jew-hater when he says something, anything about the culpability of the Syrian and Iranian governments.

If you give a machine gun to a man who you know is going to use it to force little children into harm's way, what kind of a moral monster are you?
7.30.2006 5:13pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
rarango:

It should also be recalled that Hezbollah could end this situation right now by returning two Israeli soldiers and stopping the rocket attacks on Israel—that seems a rather small "price" to pay for stopping the on-going war. Would someone point out why that is such an unreasonable demand?

This is not true. It is the stated objective of both Israel and the US, as well as UNSCR 1559, that Hezbollah disarm. Although they know they have bitten off more than they can chew here, they seem committed to fighting this out to the death.

TJIT:

I don't understand why Israel is not doing more against Syria and Iran. Those two countries are the driving force behind hezbollah and they will begin rebuilding the hezbollah presence in Lebanon as soon as the current military action ends.

Damascus is likely doable. And, were I in the drivers seat of the IDF, I'd certainly go for it. But the problem with Tehran is that Israel doesn't really have any conventional(1) "force projection" capability (the only nations which really do any more are the US, Great Britain, and France). An air strike on Tehran would require the approval of the US (Iraq), Turkey, or Saudi Arabia, to overfly them. Israel does have some in-flight refueling capability, so going around the Arabian peninsula is doable, but maintaining a sustained campaign really isn't practical.

1. Israel does have "Dolphin class" submarines, armed with Harpoon cruise missiles. But they are really intended as a nuclear deterrent.
7.30.2006 5:20pm
Enoch:
There are only two reasons to put missle launchers in (when they are not in use) and next to (when they are in use) apartment buildings, and, for that matter, to have your local militia headquarters double as the local bomb shelter;

Further Update: Here's footage of the Party of God firing missles at Israel from behind an apartment building.


For Christ's sake, there are TWO letter "I"s in missile! Missile, missile, missile!

The operating principle here is: One war at a time.

If Syria uses Hezbollah to wage war on Israel, then attacking Syria would be part of the same (single) war. Right now, Syrian support for Hezbollah has no cost at all for Syria. Thus, these proxy attacks can and will continue indefinitely, unless Israel imposes a cost on Syria.
7.30.2006 5:20pm
Disgusted Visitor:
One commentator said:

"the Left Wing of human society"

Disgusting

I think its disgusting to try to humanize the leftists who support jihad. The European, American, and Israeli Left, who all unconditionally support jihad, are not a part of human society, they are the enemy of human society.
7.30.2006 5:25pm
Erasmussimo:
Humble Law Student, you are basing your argument upon a very close correlation between your policeman-confronting-criminal scenario and the Israel-confronting-Hezbollah scenario. Very well, let's use your analogy. Established policy in hostage situations is to drag things out, to talk with the hostage-taker endlessly, about anything, to rely on time to wear down the passions of the moment. This is exactly what most other countries urged -- and Israel rejected. The policeman who shoots a hostage must be able to show that there was clear and present danger of immediate death to others, and that the only course of action that would have prevented those deaths required shooting the hostage. Such is not the case in the Israel military strikes against Lebanon. The Israelis have not proven that only military strikes will prevent the missile attacks on Israel. The more precise analogy here would be the policeman who shoots the hostage and the criminal, claiming that it was the only way he could save others, when in fact there are plenty of bystanders who say that the shooting was unnecessary. In such a situation, we do not necessarily accept the claims of the police officer as definitive -- nor should we accept Israel's claims as definitive.

You reject my suggestion that other nations might use Israel's actions as a pretext for invasions of their own. You suggest that this is merely a matter of opinion. Yes, it is. But if a few years after America departs from Iraq, Iran invades, claiming a right to do so in self-defense against attacks coming from inside Iraq, what possible argument will you be able to raise against Iran? Will you not be forced by your own logic to approve of an Iranian invasion of Iraq in such circumstances?

If we want to maintain an international regime in which invading other countries is unacceptable, then we must apply that principle uniformly. A law to which we make exceptions for our friends is no law at all.
7.30.2006 5:33pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
I assure you, Erasmussimo, that if a armed criminal with a hostage is firing on police and bystanders, standard police procedure is to take out the perp immediately, regardless of the risk to the hostage.
7.30.2006 6:05pm
Erasmussimo:
Yes, if the criminal constitutes a clear and present danger of immediate injury to others, then there's no delay. But that's not the situation we're discussing.
7.30.2006 6:19pm
Just:

Cease Fire !
7.30.2006 6:45pm
BGates (mail) (www):
The policeman who shoots a hostage must be able to show that there was clear and present danger of immediate death to others.... The Israelis have not proven that only military strikes will prevent the missile attacks on Israel.

Pick a standard and stick with it, would you?
7.30.2006 6:52pm
VA Guest (mail):
There seems to be no end to self-righteous justfications of 'moral holy wars' on both sides of this issue.
Prof. Ze'ez Ma'oz of Tel Aviv University:
7.30.2006 6:53pm
markm (mail):
Erasmussimo: Doesn't firing missiles into Israel (almost exclusively at civilian targets) constitute a clear and present danger of immediate injury to others? One might suspect that you don't consider Jews to be people...
7.30.2006 6:54pm
Lurker (mail):
Not a cease fire! Air Strike suspension with the reserve to right to strike again if Hizbollah begins firing rockets towards Israel.

See the recently released IDF video? Proves that Hizbollah was directing IDF to strike that building or near it. But the building did not collapse til eight hours later.
7.30.2006 7:14pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
Disgusted Visitor, Enoch,

I agree with both of you, however, here's the untold story of the Israeli attack on Qana: an eight hour lapse between the Iraeli strike, and, the explosion that collapsed the building.

As to attacking Syria, I wouldn't suggest it until Israel is free to commit its entire resources to the War at hand. Not only does Syria have an army that is reputed to be larger than one million men, but, they have an Air Force as well. Admitted, they may only have outdated French Mirage Fighters, but, in my experience, Mirage's have the ability to get 'down in the dirt', and, pull sneak attacks, like the Iraeli raid on the Osirak Powerplant in Iraq.

Returning to the Tanak CPF, from the Tayyani CPF (12 Km apart), before Mr. Bush Sr's war, I looked to my left while topping a Ridge, and, found two Iraqi Mirage's hedge-hopping Dunes, headed West, literally leaving a plume of Dust in their wake. Less than a minute later, as I topped another ridge (with Tanak shining on the next), I looked in my rearview mirror, and, found a pair of Mirages screaming up on my Bumper.

Before I could yell a warning to my Syrian workers, they split around both sides, formed up 'in trail' (again), shot over the Fin Fans at Tanak, and, split around both sides of the 280 ft. tall Smokestack...while I sat with both feet on the brakes (with the Toyota Hiace still rocking from their passage), and, tried to get my breath back.

I still have no idea what they were doing, flying under the Radar in Syria.

A Mirage may be outdated, but, it's still impressive in your rearview Mirror, or, over a City in Israel.
7.30.2006 7:18pm
Erasmussimo:
markm asks the entirely reasonable question, doesn't firing rockets into Israel constitute clear and present danger of immediate injury? Yes -- but IDF attacks are not confined to missile sites that are firing rockets into Israel. It is attacking lots of other targets that present no clear and present danger. I could accept the killing of a small number of civilians during an attack on a missile site preparing to launch a missile. But when the IDF attacks targets that do not present clear and present danger, then the killing of civilians violates our basic prohibition against killing innocent bystanders.
7.30.2006 7:32pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Just what would those targets be?
7.30.2006 7:50pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
French Fighters with Arab pilots...(a variation on a line from "Patton")
7.30.2006 8:00pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
By the way, the 1981 attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor was carried out by F-15s and F-16s, not some freakin french jet.
7.30.2006 8:10pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

Good, now we have moved the argument from your inane analogy to a better one. To be even more precise, yes, many bystanders are saying the policeman didn't have to kill the perp. Nevertheless, the perp was continuing to shoot and kill others. My point was to drive you away from your faulty analogy to at least one that makes sense.

Question: Are you purposefully making the analogies incorrect as possible?
You say "Established policy in hostage situations is to drag things out, to talk with the hostage-taker endlessly, about anything, to rely on time to wear down the passions of the moment."
- Umm, not when the perp(s) is going around and killing people constantly(as is Hezbollah). Here's another instance of you making disengenuously making the analogy.

"The policeman who shoots a hostage must be able to show that there was clear and present danger of immediate death to others, and that the only course of action that would have prevented those deaths required shooting the hostage. "
- Once again, if the perp is shooting at people (as is Hezbollah), the officer is would try to kill/incapacitate the perp as quickly as possible.

"The more precise analogy here would be the policeman who shoots the hostage and the criminal, claiming that it was the only way he could save others, when in fact there are plenty of bystanders who say that the shooting was unnecessary."
- Except in this case, the bystanders are the ones that get killed. It isn't the bystanders, but the people in different cities saying it wasn't necessary.

"In such a situation, we do not necessarily accept the claims of the police officer as definitive -- nor should we accept Israel's claims as definitive."
- Of course we don't. But we apply some good ol' common sense, but I guess we would disagree as to its implications.

"Will you not be forced by your own logic to approve of an Iranian invasion of Iraq in such circumstances? "
- Its called refusing to accept every country as morally equivalent, but maybe I'm old-fashioned.

In response to MarkM, you said "It is attacking lots of other targets that present no clear and present danger."
That's a pretty strange statement. You ever heard of targeting infrastructure? Infrasture rarely is a "clear and present danger." However, it is perfectly legit target. (this would explain the attacks on roads and bridges).

Futhermore, once again, if the enemy hides among the civilan population, making it practically impossible to kill him in the act of attacking you, according to your position, the receiving nation just has to sit back and take it. What about ISRAEL's civilans?

The horrible air attack that happened today is a great example of the problems with this war. Israel had dropped many leaflets for days warning the civilans that their area was being used by Hezbollah andn that Israel was going to bomb it. So, Israel then bombs, and kills civilans in an attempt to get at Hezbollah. There is nothing else Israel can do, aside from sitting back and doing nothing - which is what you prescribe. Heck, forget the Holocaust. Just have the international community enforce your own reasoning and there is no need for gas chambers.

"Forced incapacity to resist or defend." Just wonderful.
7.30.2006 8:21pm
Humble Law Student (mail):
Let me just add, I'm not in any way saying your advocating a "holocaust." I'm was just using some hyperbole to stress the results of your reasoning.
7.30.2006 8:25pm
Enoch:
Warsong, the Syrian air force consists of obsolete Soviet crap from the 1960s and 1970s (such as MiG-21s and MiG-23s), not Mirages. If it flew, it would die. There is zero chance it would ever bomb Israel successfully. The Syrian Army would be irrelevant, since the Israelis would not attack on the ground, they could pound Syria from the air. Every time a rocket lands on Israel, a bomb should land on Damascus.
7.30.2006 8:25pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
Frank Drackmann,

Ya gotta love Patton, he had a sense of reality, and, a love of irony.

However, being Arab flyers doesn't imply that they don't have ability. They were flying up from below me, when I spotted them in my Mirror. They instantly formed back up into trail, dropped down into the valley between the ridges (below me), and, rode the Ground effect up the next hill to Tanak. I thought they were going to hit the Fin Fans, but, they cleared them with only inches to spare, and, carried their course right up to the Smoke Stack before splitting around it, flipping up on their Wingtips with the bellies almost touching the Stack.

The Raid on Osirak, to my knowledge, was carried out using F-15 Eagles, exclusively, because the F-16's did not have the range with the Bomb load they needed to do the job. They dumped the Wing Tanks somewhere over Saudi.

The only casualty was a French Engineer, Damien Chauspied, who had just returned from R&R, and, chose to go in on a Friday (the Islamic Sunday) to take care of some pressing paperwork.
7.30.2006 8:29pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
I'm well aware of the Russian equipment owned and used in Syria, vehicles as well as Planes. The Syrian Secret Police is still driving 30 year old, Fender flapping, V8 Tatras that will stay with a 'brand new' desert equipped Peugeot. They just don't punch through Roman Roads that are 30 feet above Grade, too good...(heh, heh), while the Peugeot shoots the gap (note to SSP...don't drive in the Dust Plume at 3 in the morning).

There are Rust Buckets of every size and type still chugging around Syria, and, it would be no disservice to anyone if a few of them were blasted into little pieces, so they'd have to be replaced with something that'll actually run.
7.30.2006 8:45pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
At the time of the Osirak raid F-15s didn't have ground attack capability, they flew purely as protection for the bomb loaded F-16s. Arabs are great at flying aircraft into things, accurately dropping bombs or shooting down other aircraft is something else alltogether. The line from "Patton" was originally.."American soldiers under British command... tsk tsk..." spoken by some smart ass kraut general after the debacle at Kasserine pass.
7.30.2006 8:46pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
Forgot to mention, that, to my knowledge, they 'do' have a few Mirages. My understanding is the French made them a deal 'the French' couldn't refuse (think about it, you'll straighten that out)
7.30.2006 8:48pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
My source on the Israeli raid on Osirak was a book that has gone through several printings and Titles. I believe the Title of the iteration I read was, "Lions of Israel," or, "Lions of the Desert." I'll have to do a search and see if I can find it, but, it covered the selection of Aircraft extensively.

It concurred with several other sources I've read, but, described the exact attack profile, which depended on a leading aircraft punching a hole in the Dome, and, a trailing aircraft doing a 'Nuclear Toss' style bomb release. i.e. pulls up into a vertical climb and releases the Bomb, as the aircraft continues on over into a course reversal, then rolls over and flees back the way it came. The Bomb continues on up, stalls, then falls back onto the Target.

The reasons I've stated for not using the F-16 are those of the Author of that book (name?), and, he stated they had no fighter escort.

The Mirage deal was related to me by Syrians, working for me, who had all served in the Syrian military, but, not (to my knowledge) the Air Force.
7.30.2006 9:08pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Guest from the USA:

Your video is a blatant piece of propaganda. It starts off by distorting the meaning of UN Resolution 242. I suggest you read the text of 242 and then read various commentaries on it. I also urge you to reflect on history a little. Jordan invaded Israel in 1967 and lost a war of aggression. As a result Jordan lost control of the West Bank territories which it annexed in1949. In losing the 1967 war Jordan lost control of these territories. If somehow you think a country should not lose land when it loses a war of aggression, then you want to redraw the post WWII map of Europe. Israel could have annexed that land outright and expelled the refugees to Jordan. In fact that's what the Arabs expected would happen. Finally bringing in Chomsky is another problem. This is no place to start up a Chomsky war as they quickly degenerate into a major food fight, so I just say he isn't known for his neutrality on the subject of Israel.
7.30.2006 9:11pm
Erasmussimo:
Humble Law Student, I have a policy of ignoring the more excitable correspondents and responding only to reasoned arguments. You have for the most part demonstrated a willingness to behave in a civil fashion, but you occasionally lapse into mud-slinging. Let's continue this as a discussion, not an argument, shall we? :-)

You seem unwilling to directly address the concept of "clear and present danger". The concept connotes immediacy of threat. A missile mounted on a launching platform within striking range constitutes a clear and present danger. A bridge in the rear, possibly being used to ferry weapons to the front, does not. If destroying this target would endanger civilian lives, then attacking it is difficult to justify. It depends on such factors as the number of civilians who are at risk, the opportunity to attack it in a fashion that does not harm civilians, and the amount of time that civilians have had to evacuate the area. For example, blowing up the bridge when it is crowded with refugees is never acceptable. Blowing it up at three in the morning when nobody is around is much easier to justify.

To use your analogy, the policeman is not allowed to shoot the hostage-taker's sidekick who's standing 50 feet away from the hostage-taker.

My greatest disagreement with you, though, is on your response to my puzzle about Iran. You invoke the principle of "moral equivalence" to suggest that Iran could not invade a nation in response to the same provocation that Israel uses to justify its invasion of Lebanon. The problem is, how do you define "moral equivalence"? Is it no different from calling Israelis "the good guys" and the Iranians "the bad guys"? You are arguing that good guys can invade other countries but bad guys can't. That kind of reasoning will not sway many people.

So I ask you again. Let's imagine that the year is 2016 and that you are the US ambassador to the United Nations. Iran has just invaded Iraq, citing the attacks across the border that the Iraqi government has failed to stem. It has explicitly cited the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 as its justification. You rise to respond. Are you really going to say, "That's different because Israelis are good guys and Iranians are bad guys" ?

Lastly, you write, "There is nothing else Israel can do, aside from sitting back and doing nothing - which is what you prescribe." First, please provide the quotation in which I prescribed that Israel sit back and do nothing. Second, does your appreciation of geopolitics reduce everything to just two options: war or inaction?
7.30.2006 9:20pm
Erasmussimo:
A. Zarkov, under international law no state can annex land conquered in war. It can occupy the land, but it must eventually be returned to the sovereign power that originally controlled it. Jordan has renounced its claims to the West Bank, so the status of the West Bank is legally difficult to determine. But one thing is clear: Israel has no "right of conquest" to the West Bank or Gaza. None whatsoever.
7.30.2006 9:24pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
So when does Germany get East Prussia and Silesia back from Poland? Texas back to Mexico? What a moron.
7.30.2006 9:28pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Erasmussimo:

Give me the a country that fights wars they way you think wars should be fought. Then give the war that was fought that way.
7.30.2006 9:29pm
Thom:
The peoples of Lebanon support the Hezbollah, and say they are willing to die in their support. So what's the problem...Israel is just helping the peoples of Lebanon reach their goal. And once again I ask the question...why did it talke 7 hours after the bombing for the building to fall down? One would think the people inside a building that was bombed would leave it once the attack was over. The rescusers didn't seem to have any problem getting to the bodies, so the people sould have been able to get out before it collapsed...unless the Hezbollah blew it up themselves 7 hours after the first bombs fell.
7.30.2006 9:36pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
When Eramussimo says 'our' conception of international law, he means 'my' conception.

Since no Arab state, army and quasi-army has ever endorsed international law on paper or on the ground, his carping about Israel just reveals a cleaned-up anti-Semite.

I prefer the slobbering ones. At least they have one virtue, they're honest about what they are after, which is one more than Eramussimo has.
7.30.2006 9:48pm
Erasmussimo:
A.Zarkov, you are welcome to disagree with international law, just as you are welcome to disagree with any law. And while my exposition on it simplifies a few rather messy complications, it remains basically correct. You can criticize international law all you want, but if you try to characterize a hypothetical Israeli annexation of the West Bank as legal, you would be incorrect.
7.30.2006 10:08pm
Speaking the Obvious:
The "hiding among civilians" myth

07.28.2006 | Salon.com
By Mitch Prothero

Israel claims it's justified in bombing civilians because Hezbollah mingles with them. In fact, the militant group doesn't trust its civilians and stays as far away from them as possible.

Jul. 28, 2006 | The bombs came just as night fell, around 7 p.m. The locals knew that the 10-story apartment building had been the office, and possibly the residence, of Sheik Tawouk, the Hezbollah commander for the south, so they had moved their families out at the start of the war. The landlord had refused to rent to Hezbollah when they requested the top floors of the building. No matter, the locals said, the Hezb guys just moved in anyway in the name of the "resistance."

Everyone knew that the building would be hit eventually. Its location in downtown Tyre, which had yet to be hit by Israeli airstrikes, was not going to protect it forever. And "everyone" apparently included Sheik Tawouk, because he wasn't anywhere near it when it was finally hit.

Two guided bombs struck it in a huge flash bang of fire and concrete dust followed by the roar of 10 stories pancaking on top of each other, local residents said. Jihad Husseini, 46, runs the driving school a block away and was sitting in his office when the bombs struck. He said his life was saved because he had drawn the heavy cloth curtains shut on the windows facing the street, preventing him from being hit by a wave of shattered glass. But even so, a chunk of smoldering steel flew through the air, broke through the window and the curtain, and shot past his head and through the wall before coming to rest in his neighbor's home.

But Jihad still refuses to leave.

"Everything is broken, but I can make it better," he says, surrounded by his sons Raed, 20, and Mohammed, 12. "I will not leave. This place is not military, it is not Hezbollah; it was an empty apartment."

Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths -- the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far -- on "terrorists" who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.

But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters -- as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers -- avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators -- as so many Palestinian militants have been.

For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they'll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.

But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah's political wing -- all have been reduced to rubble.

In the south, where Shiites dominate, just about everyone supports Hezbollah. Does mere support for Hezbollah, or even participation in Hezbollah activities, mean your house and family are fair game? Do you need to fire rockets from your front yard? Or is it enough to be a political activist?

The Israelis are consistent: They bomb everyone and everything remotely associated with Hezbollah, including noncombatants. In effect, that means punishing Lebanon. The nation is 40 percent Shiite, and of that 40 percent, tens of thousands are employed by Hezbollah's social services, political operations, schools, and other nonmilitary functions. The "terrorist" organization Hezbollah is Lebanon's second-biggest employer.

People throw the phrase "ghost town" around a lot, but Nabatiya, a bombed-out town about 15 miles from the Lebanon-Israel border, deserves it. One expects the spirits of the town's dead, or its refugees, to silently glide out onto its abandoned streets from the ruined buildings that make up much of the town.

Not all of the buildings show bomb damage, but those that don't have metal shutters blown out as if by a terrible wind. And there are no people at all, except for the occasional Hezbollah scout on a motorbike armed only with a two-way radio, keeping an eye on things as Israeli jets and unmanned drones circle overhead.

Overlooking the outskirts of this town, which has a peacetime population of 100,000 or so -- mostly Shiite supporters of Hezbollah and its more secular rival Amal -- is the Ragheh Hareb Hospital, a facility that makes quite clear what side the residents of Nabatiya are on in this conflict.

The hospital's carefully sculpted and trimmed front lawn contains the giant Red Crescent that denotes the Muslim version of the Red Cross. As we approach it, an Israeli missile streaks by, smashing into a school on the opposite hilltop. As we crouch and then run for the shelter of the hospital awning, that giant crescent reassures me until I look at the flagpole. The Lebanese flag and its cedar tree is there -- right next to the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It's safe to say that Ragheh Hareb Hospital has an association with Hezbollah. And the staff sports the trimmed beards and polite, if somewhat ominous, manner of the group. After young men demand press IDs and do some quick questioning, they allow us to enter.

Dr. Ahmed Tahir recognizes me from a funeral in the nearby village of Dweir. An Israeli bomb dropped on their house killed a Hezbollah cleric and 11 members of his immediate family, mostly children. People in Lebanon are calling it a war crime. Tahir looks exhausted, and our talk is even more tense than the last time.

"Maybe it would be best if the Israelis bombed your car on the road here," he said, with a sharp edge. "If you were killed, maybe the public outcry would be so bad in America that the Jews would be forced to stop these attacks."

When I volunteered that the Bush administration cared little for journalists, let alone ones who reported from Hezbollah territory, he shrugged. "Maybe if it was an American bomb used by the Israelis that killed an American journalist, they would stop this horror," he said.

The handful of people in the town include some from Hezbollah's political wing, as well as volunteers keeping an eye on things while the residents are gone. Off to the side, as we watch the Israelis pummel ridgelines on the outskirts of town, one of the political operatives explains that the fighters never come near the town, reinforcing what other Hezbollah people have told me over the years.

Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered "Hezbollah" installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons -- they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed -- but for military ones.

"You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon," a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. "They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They're completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians -- no discipline and too much showing off."

Perhaps once a year, Hezbollah will hold a military parade in the south, in which its weapons and fighters appear. Media access to these parades is tightly limited and controlled. Unlike the fighters in the half dozen other countries where I have covered insurgencies, Hezbollah fighters do not like to show off for the cameras. In Iraq, with some risk taking, you can meet with and even watch the resistance guys in action. (At least you could during my last time there.) In Afghanistan, you can lunch with Taliban fighters if you're willing to walk a day or so in the mountains. In Gaza and the West Bank, the Fatah or Hamas fighter is almost ubiquitous with his mask, gun and sloganeering to convince the Western journalist of the justice of his cause.

The Hezbollah guys, on the other hand, know that letting their fighters near outsiders of any kind -- journalists or Lebanese, even Hezbollah supporters -- is stupid. In three trips over the last week to the south, where I came near enough to the fighting to hear Israeli artillery, and not just airstrikes, I saw exactly no fighters. Guys with radios with the look of Hezbollah always found me. But no fighters on corners, no invitations to watch them shoot rockets at the Zionist enemy, nothing that can be used to track them.

Even before the war, on many of my trips to the south, the Lebanese army, or the ubiquitous guy on a motorbike with a radio, would halt my trip and send me over to Tyre to get permission from a Hezbollah official before I could proceed, usually with strict limits on where I could go.

Every other journalist I know who has covered Hezbollah has had the same experience. A fellow journalist, a Lebanese who has covered them for two decades, knows only one military guy who will admit it, and he never talks or grants interviews. All he will say is, "I'll be gone for a few months for training. I'll call when I'm back." Presumably his friends and neighbors may suspect something, but no one says anything.

Hezbollah's political members say they have little or no access to the workings of the fighters. This seems to be largely true: While they obviously hear and know more than the outside world, the firewall is strong.

Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.

Earlier in the week, I stood next to a giant crater that had smashed through the highway between Tyre and Sidon -- the only route of escape for most of the people in the far south. Overhead, Israeli fighters and drones circled above the city and its outlying areas and regular blasts of bombs and naval artillery could be heard.

The crater served as a nice place to check up on the refugees, who were forced by the crater to slow down long enough to be asked questions. They barely stopped, their faces wrenched in near panic. The main wave of refugees out of the south had come the previous two days, so these were the hard-luck cases, the people who had been really close to the fighting and who needed two days just to get to Tyre, or who had had to make the tough decision whether to flee or stay put, with neither choice looking good.

The roads in the south are full of the cars of people who chose wrong -- burned-out chassis, broken glass, some cars driven straight into posts or ditches. Other seem to have broken down or run out of gas on the long dirt detours around the blown-out highway and bridge network the Israeli air force had spent days methodically destroying even as it warned people to flee.

One man, slowing his car around the crater, almost screams, "There is nothing left. This country is not for us." His brief pause immediately draws horns and impatient yells from the people in the cars behind him. They pass the crater but within two minutes a large explosion behind us, north, in the direction of Sidon, rocks us.

As we drive south toward Tyre, we soon pass a new series of scars on the highway: shrapnel, hubcaps and broken glass. A car that had been maybe five minutes ahead of us was hit by an Israeli shell. Three of its passengers were wounded, and it was heading north to the Hammound hospital at Sidon. We turned around because of the attack and followed the car to Sidon. Those unhurt staked out the parking lot of the hospital, looking for the Western journalists they were convinced had called in the strike. Luckily my Iraqi fixer smelled trouble and we got out of there. Probably nothing would have happened -- mostly they were just freaked-out country people who didn't like the coincidence of an Israeli attack and a car full of journalists driving past.

So the analysts talking on cable news about Hezbollah "hiding within the civilian population" clearly have spent little time if any in the south Lebanon war zone and don't know what they're talking about. Hezbollah doesn't trust the civilian population and has worked very hard to evacuate as much of it as possible from the battlefield. And this is why they fight so well -- with no one to spy on them, they have lots of chances to take the Israel Defense Forces by surprise, as they have by continuing to fire rockets and punish every Israeli ground incursion.

And the civilians? They see themselves as targeted regardless of their affiliation. They are enraged at Israel and at the United States, the only two countries on earth not calling for an immediate cease-fire. Lebanese of all persuasions think the United States and Israel believe that Lebanese lives are cheaper than Israeli ones. And many are now saying that they want to fight.
7.30.2006 10:23pm
Erasmussimo:
Gee, isn't it interesting how a dose of actual observation on the ground can change a debate? I had not considered the possibility that Hezbollah would avoid civilians; I had assumed that they would use this tactic. I was wrong -- as was just about everybody else here. Thanks for providing some actual information to illuminate our hot air, 'Speaking the Obvious'.
7.30.2006 10:40pm
Warsong (mail) (www):

In fact, the militant group doesn't trust its civilians and stays as far away from them as possible.


In fact, the civilians are the wives, sisters, children, brothers, and, parents of the Hezbollah Fighters, most of whom are also sworn to die for the destruction of Israel. Many of them have put on civilian clothes, loaded their families in cars and joined a UN escorted convoy to other climes.

However, the argument has degenerated into a parade of strawmen, ad hominum attacks, and, little light on the subject, other than a vent of prejudices. I'm approaching the point of joining the fray, so I herewith withdraw from further participation in this discussion.
7.30.2006 10:42pm
MDJD2B (mail):
Thanks for providing some actual information to illuminate our hot air, 'Speaking the Obvious'.

Erasmussino,

If someone prints something that purports to be a first person account that is negative towards Isreal, it mmust be true, huh?
7.30.2006 10:47pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
If anything, this information -- if true -- completely undermines Israel's position. It means that in their extraordinary efforts to avoid anyone thinking that they can be manipulated, that's exactly what's happening Kind of sad, really.
7.30.2006 11:00pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
That last comment being intended for the post, not the commenter's article.
7.30.2006 11:02pm
Erasmussimo:
MDJD2B writes, "If someone prints something that purports to be a first person account that is negative towards Isreal, it mmust be true, huh?"

No. Evidence is evidence. The photographs offered by the Australian paper are evidence, as is the interview with the woman cited above. Wars are complicated, messy affairs and nobody ever has a clear idea of what is happening. It's best to get lots of evidence from many points of view to gain a clearer understanding of events. For example, you may wish to consider this material from a blogger in Beirut:

Lebanese blogger

I find it quite interesting. The blogger has some very harsh things to say about Israel and the USA, and so some readers might prefer to avoid it. I consider it a useful point of view. If we limit our information sources to those that give us the information that supports our pre-existing ideas, we never learn, do we?
7.30.2006 11:05pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
It appears that the only dead civilians worthy of outrage are the ones killed accidentally by the Israelis.

Nothing new. There was never a number high enough, during the Cold War, of dead civilians that would bother western liberals if the communists killed them. It was ignored, condoned, excused and the omelet-egg analogy was hauled out.

Not only do our enemies have no qualms about killing civilians--it seems to be their aim--while we do, they know the western liberals and press have no qualms about them doing so, as well. The same goes for human-shielding, even if the shields don't volunteer.
7.30.2006 11:13pm
Arbusto Energy:
Richard Aubrey:

Nothing new. There was never a number high enough, during the Cold War, of dead civilians that would bother western liberals if the communists killed them. It was ignored, condoned, excused and the omelet-egg analogy was hauled out

Well, at least we know the standards you like to measure yourself by.
7.30.2006 11:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Arbusto: What measurements are you talking about? Do you have a point?

Or did I get too close?
7.30.2006 11:43pm
spider:
I invite readers to read this piece in Slate from a couple days ago, by Gareth Evans and Robert Malley. The basic idea is that we need more diplomacy, not more war. Comments? Please focus on their arguments rather than questioning their motives, etc.
7.30.2006 11:49pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Erasmussimo:

So then Jordan's annexation of the West Bank Territories in 1949 was illegal? Funny I never heard much complaining about that while Jordan was in control. Note that the PLO was attacking Israel while Jordan controlled the Territories. Recall Israel was attacked at least three times by Arab countries before it gained control of the territories in 1967.

Please give us a cite to the international law that prohibits annexation of land from an aggressor. I find that hard to believe because if an aggressor pays no price for his aggression he is likely to try again. How far back does this law go and does it apply to any country besides Israel? Does Gdansk have to go back to Germany and become Danzig again? Finally Israel never annexed the West Bank Territories as you claim except for East Jerusalem.

BTW even before the formation of the modern state of Israel the Arabs were making war on the Jews. In 1920 the Arabs attacked Jewish settlements under French control. In 1921 there was an Arab attack on the Jewish quarter of the Old City. There were the anti-Jewish riots in 1929 where Arabs attacked Jews in the Old City and nearby suburbs. Then there was the Arab Campaign in 1936 which lasted over three months where Arabs attacked Jews in Gaza, Belt Dagan, Jaffa, Tel Mond, Tulkarm, Givat Ada, Yaakov, Ramat David, Mishmar, Yagur, Haifa, Tel Aviv, Hadera, Jenin, Nablus, Rosh Pina, Ramia, Safed, Tiberias Mitzpa, North Talpioth and others. In North Talpioth the Arabs murdered Lewis Bellig, a professor of Arabic literature on Aug. 22, 1936. He was working on the very culture the Arabs lost! So the Arab war on the Jews really has nothing to do with the Territories, or Lebanon, or even the state of Israel itself.

I'm still waiting for the war and the country that conforms to your standards.
7.31.2006 12:05am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Speaking the Obvious,

Your article is a complete joke, as David B so ably points out.

Do you mind finding something coherent?
7.31.2006 12:14am
Humble Law Student (mail):
Erasmussimo,

Your concept of "clear and present danger" is absolutely wrong in this context. Please give me references to authoritative materials that state that a target (which may have civilans nearby) must present a "clear and present danger" before it must be hit. There is no such codification in international law, let alone in a situation where the enemy hides among civilans (which as pointed out before is a war crime).

Second, that article you applaud is a complete joke. Several paragraphs directly contradict its thesis. YOu would help your own credibility immeasureably is you bothered to show some skepticism against Hezbollah and their allies. However, you skepticism seems to run one way. Hence, the calls of anti-Semetism. I don't think you are an anti-Semite - just horribly misguided :)

As to your example, if Iraq ten years from now had terrorists who purposefully targetted Iranian civilans and had been launching hundreds of rockets at Iran for years and been kidnapping their soldiers for years, and had UN resolutions calling for their disbandment, and Iraq was unwilling or unable to stop the terrorists and the international community had not been able to stop it, then yes, I support an Iranian defense as per the current situation. Granted, there are many other factors that would have to be taken into account, but off-hand without knowing anything else, I would be somewhat in favor.

As to your point about annexation, you are correct that a nation cannot de facto annex territory even if won in a defensive war. However, that land does not presumptively belong to those who lost it. The fate of the land is dependent upon a peace agreement between the two warring parties. The winning party can easily stipulate that the land be given to them as a term of the peace agreement. In our case, there has never been peace agreement that resolved the status of the land. As such, it "belongs" still to Israel as a conquured territory, though it is not considered part of "Israel" per se.
7.31.2006 12:26am
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
As written, the Prothero article flies in the face of the facts. Those rocket launchers don't just position, aim, and fire themselves. Now, perhaps they don't openly socialize with non-combatants, except members of their own families (as Warsong noted), but they are occupying common areas in the war zone.
7.31.2006 1:06am
Erasmussimo:
Humble Law Student, if you read my postings, you will observe that my condemnation of Israeli attacks on civilians was a moral condemnation, not a legal one. Hence there is no need to cite international law. Yes, Hezbollah is wrong to fire rockets into Israel. And Israel is wrong to bomb civilians. Two wrongs do not make a right.

A.Zarkov, if you need a citation of international law in the matter of territorial sovereignty, check the UN charter. As to an example of a war in which the conquerer was not permitted to annex the conquered, I shall cite the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Nobody recognized the legality of that annexation, and many nations joined the coalition to reverse it.
7.31.2006 1:47am
David M. Nieporent (www):
A.Zarkov, if you need a citation of international law in the matter of territorial sovereignty, check the UN charter. As to an example of a war in which the conquerer was not permitted to annex the conquered, I shall cite the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait. Nobody recognized the legality of that annexation, and many nations joined the coalition to reverse it.
Yes, that's all well and good, but the so-called "occupied territories" were not/are not a sovereign country, as Kuwait was/is. All of your arguments are based on mistaken analogies.

While in practical terms Israel is not going to annex the WB/Gaza, there is nothing in so-called "international law" which forbids it. The dividing line between Israel and the WB/Gaza is not an international boundary. It is merely an armistice line. Israel was/is no more conquering foreign territory than Lincoln and Grant were in 1965 (less so, in fact, because the CSA actually had a government and control of its own territory, both of which are prerequisites for statehood). Nothing makes the land non-Israeli other than pragmatism.
7.31.2006 2:08am
Erasmussimo:
David, I think your differentiation between Kuwait as a sovereign nation and the West Bank as a portion of a sovereign nation (Jordan) is not relevant to international law. Had Saddam Hussein annexed only a fraction of Kuwait, his action would still have been illegal.

I agree that the final status of the West Bank was not clearly established in the aftermath of the British Mandate. However, the assignment of the West Bank to Jordan was recognized by just about everybody -- including, I believe, Israel (although I'm not sure of the precise nature of the Israeli acquiescence to Jordan's sovereignty over the West Bank). In any case, by 1967 Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank was accepted as legal, and certainly nobody challenged its legality.

International law is quite clear that nobody ever gains land by conquest, and that nobody ever gains any rights to land through conquest. Even in cases of border wars, such as Ethiopia/Eritrea, China/India, and the extremely complex messes in Azerbaijan/Armenia and Serbia/Kosovo, the basic principle of territorial integrity has only been compromised on the basis of self-determination. In most other cases, land swaps are arranged to preserve the basic notion of territorial integrity.
7.31.2006 2:23am
Speaking the Obvious:
Humble Law Student, demonstrating reasons for being humble, says:

Your article [the pasted article from Salon.com] is a complete joke, as David B so ably points out.
-----
Erasmussimo and I have commented on Prof. Bernstein's tragic inability to read for content when it comes to Israel on another post. Here I'll simply note there's a reason, it seems, why you're a humble law student and not a humble political science student...
7.31.2006 2:59am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Erasmussimo, if you really knew anything about international law, you wouldn't say such silly things. Example of conquered territory being kept by the conqueror, without a peep from the 'international community": southern Kuriles, taken from Jaoan by the USSR in 1945.
7.31.2006 3:38am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Erasmussimo:

Iraq was the aggressor in the case of Kuwait, so naturally it could not keep the fruits of its aggression. On the other hand, Jordan was the aggressor in 1967, and it lost the land it had annexed in 1949. Similarly Germany not only lost the land it acquired through aggression in WWII it lost lands it held before the war. By your reasoning Poland should have to give back the land it acquired as the victim of aggression. Of course China got to keep the fruits of its aggression when it took Tibet. The aggressor North Vietnam got to keep South Vietnam. You have ducked the question by trying to reverse the analogy.

David M. Nieporent

"Yes, that's all well and good, but the so-called "occupied territories" were not/are not a sovereign country, as Kuwait was/is. All of your arguments are based on mistaken analogies."

The Territories were part of the sovereign country of Jordan between 1949 and 1967. Jordan invaded Israel in 1967, but it lost the war and part of its sovereign territory. Annexed land becomes a part of the sovereign entity that does the annexing. Israel never annexed the territories because it did not want to have to rule over the Arabs there. In 2000 Israel offered to give up control of more than 90% of the territories, but got turned down. Israel gave up control of Gaza, and immediately got rocket attacks.
7.31.2006 4:08am
Enoch:
International law is quite clear that nobody ever gains land by conquest, and that nobody ever gains any rights to land through conquest.

Then the Arabs should be quiet, because that is the ultimate basis for their claim to "Palestine". =D
7.31.2006 9:07am
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
It's becoming increasingly clear that Erasmussimo lives in his/her own special reality, which facts and logic are unable to penetrate.
7.31.2006 9:21am
Erasmussimo:
Harry, you cite the case of the Soviet Union's retention of the southern Kuriles at the end of World War II as a refutation of my assertions that international law forbids the annexation of land conquered during war. I remind you that international law has changed considerably in the last 60 years. In the aftermath of World War II, the international community, under American leadership, established the United Nations and considerably extended international law. The strictures against annexation of conquered land were enacted at this time. Thus, your example is irrelevant to the situation at hand.

A. Zarkov, let's examine your analogies. You argue that Israel is justified in annexing the West Bank because Jordan was the aggressor in 1967. International law makes no distinction as to who was the aggressor in its prohibition of the annexation of conquered territory. Again, you are welcome to dismiss international law, but that's what the law says.

You cite the case of Germany/Poland at the end of World War II. As I explain above, the relevant law was not enacted until some years after World War II, hence your example is irrelevant.

China's invasion of Tibet is indeed illegal, and it is not recognized by the international community.

You write, "Israel never annexed the territories because it did not want to have to rule over the Arabs there." I would suggest that the true reason for the failure to annex the territories was the Israeli realization that such a blatant violation of international law might well cost them the support of the USA. Remember, the US government has always maintained that the West Bank is not Israeli territory and must not be annexed.

Enoch, you argue that the prohibition against the annexation of conquered lands in international law nullifies Palestinian claims to the West Bank. Again, I explain above that the law in question came into force in the aftermath of World War II, and is not applied ex post facto. The underlying principle in the UN charter is the notion of self-determination: that the residents of an area should decide their sovereign status. This is merely a restatement of some of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is a violation of those principles.
7.31.2006 12:01pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Erasmussimo:

"China's invasion of Tibet is indeed illegal, and it is not recognized by the international community."

If that's the case what is anyone doing about it? We don't see attempts at arresting Chinese government and military officials when they visit European countries. In the UK a private party can bring a charge against anyone, resident of the UK or not, for alleged violation of international law. No sanctions against China etc. Mind you China was the aggressor invading and annexing Tibet.

You still have not provided a citation to a persuasive authority on why an aggressor nation cannot lose territory or control over territory as the result of losing an aggressive war. A vague reference to the UN is useless. I can only assume you are making this up. If you had a firm basis for believing what you say you could tell us.
7.31.2006 2:52pm
Erasmussimo:
A. Zarkov, you ask why nobody has done anything about the illegal annexation of Tibet. The answer is that nobody is willing to fight a war over it.

I am surprised that you are so unfamiliar with international law that you would seriously challenge the prohibition of hostile annexation. The principle first took form as early as Grotius 400 years ago, but was not taken seriously back then. By 1900 it was an informal factor in some transactions, and the principle of self-determination was established in law at the end of World War I.

The United Nations Charter, Article 2, Section 4 states:

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

The Fourth Geneva Convention in 1948 went even further, spelling out in great detail the responsibilities of occupying powers in occupied territories.

The principle that a nation cannot annex foreign territory is long established.
7.31.2006 4:07pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Erasmussimo,

There's an interesting article in the current issue of Commentary about the delicate question of who actually has sovereignty over the West Bank. I don't have the article in front of me, and the online version is subscribers-only, but the gist of the argument was that the territory never did belong to Jordan; in fact, after the end of the British Mandate, it belonged to no state. Jordan merely occupied it in 1949 and held onto it for a couple decades. (I suppose this puts Jordan in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention?)

I'm not saying I'm entirely convinced, but as the case was put it seemed plausible enough. In any event, Jordan today certainly wouldn't take the West Bank as a gift, any more than Egypt is clamoring for the return of Gaza. And if the Palestinians have a right of self-determination, why not the Chechens, or the Kurds, or the Basque? Let me hasten to say that I don't think all these cases equivalent; I'm just pointing out that "self-determination" by itself is not a sufficient argument.
7.31.2006 4:29pm
Erasmussimo:
Michelle, the important point about the West Bank and Gaza is that Israel has no right to either one. Legally, the status of the West Bank and Gaza is undetermined -- and 'undetermined' doesn't mean 'up for grabs'.

The basic principle of self-determination was first established in the 1919 Versailles treaty and underscored in the UN charter. The only legal issue is the definition of what constitutes a people under these laws. For example, are the Catalonian people distinct from the Spanish people? The Acehnese distinct from the Javanese? These are quibbles in this case -- no reasonable person can deny that the Palestinian people are distinct from the Israelis; therefore, there is no question that the principle of self-determination applies to the West Bank and Gaza.
7.31.2006 5:42pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Eramussimo, OK, I have other examples that are less than 60 years old. (Although your objection is ill-founded; see Hasegawa, 'Racing the Enemy' for a discussion.)

Sikkim. West Papua. The Salvadoran invasion (ultimately unsuccessful) of Nicaragua.

The 'international community' did not object to any of these.

I can do more.

You're just a Jew-hater who doesn't know anything.
7.31.2006 6:33pm
markm (mail):
I don't recall the UN condemning Argentina for it's attempt to annex the Falklands.

Anyway, referring to Tibet, etc., if no one is going to enforce a law, then that law is void. And that's the whole problem with "international law" - it's unenforceable except by going to war, and that only happens when enforcing the "law" happens to coincide with some nation's interests, which happen to be strong enough to make war seem a good option.
7.31.2006 6:54pm
markm (mail):
"A missile mounted on a launching platform within striking range constitutes a clear and present danger. A bridge in the rear, possibly being used to ferry weapons to the front, does not."

You've just defined the difference between policing and war. In war, you use deadly force against anything and everything the enemy can use, if you can attack it without taking undue losses. You don't wait for enemy forces to be assembled and make their way to the front, but you attack the factories that build the weapons, the barracks where soldiers are trained, the roads, bridges and railways they travel on, and if bombs go astray and kill civilians (as many of the bombs we dropped in WWII did), that's just the fortunes of war.

For a more dramatic example: when our forces were retreating during the Korean War, they had to blow up the bridges behind them to slow the advance of the Communist forces. Sometimes those bridges were crowded with refugees when they were blown. That's not a war crime, it's just what happens when civilians do not or cannot get out of the way between opposing armies. (Also, Nork spies and saboteurs were believed to be concealed among the refugees.) I've known a few South Korean soldiers; in the same situation, with their own people on the bridge, they wouldn't have hesitated to blow it. Our troops took longer to make up their minds and set off the demolition charges - but the S.K. troops have lived with the harsh realities of war for a long time.
7.31.2006 7:08pm
Erasmussimo:
Markm writes, "I don't recall the UN condemning Argentina for it's attempt to annex the Falklands." Forgive my snark, but that's why I try not to rely on memory. The UN Security Council did indeed pass Resolution 502 critical of the invasion and demanding that Argentina leave. I don't have the precise wording.

You complain that an law that nobody enforces is useless. Welcome to the wonderful world of international law. Yes, nations break the law all the time -- everybody, including the USA, does it. But would you prefer that we abandon all attempts at regulating international behavior? The value of international law is not that there's a big policeman in the sky who will club anybody who violates international law. Its value is that it establishes certain norms of behavior that, if egregiously violated, provide the international community with a sound basis for implementing group sanctions against the offender. We've been seeing this happening, ever so slowly, with Iran. And the walls are closing in on Israel.

I agree that military operations in war are of broader and more strategic concern than during limited operations. So, if Israel is pursuing a conventional 3G war against Lebanon, why doesn't it invade, occupy the country, and force a conventional surrender? And if it doesn't do these things, then how can we say that they are pursuing conventional war? Israeli strategy in Lebanon makes no long-term sense.
7.31.2006 7:25pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Erasmussimo,

The basic principle of self-determination was first established in the 1919 Versailles treaty and underscored in the UN charter. The only legal issue is the definition of what constitutes a people under these laws. For example, are the Catalonian people distinct from the Spanish people? The Acehnese distinct from the Javanese? These are quibbles in this case -- no reasonable person can deny that the Palestinian people are distinct from the Israelis; therefore, there is no question that the principle of self-determination applies to the West Bank and Gaza.

Sorry, I don't buy it. In the first place, there are Arab citizens of Israel, and it would take considerable parsing to sort them from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But in the second and larger place, even if the residents of the West Bank and Gaza are nationally distinct from Israelis, it doesn't follow that they are a nation. Are the people in the West Bank ethnically distinct from Jordanians? Are the people in Gaza ethnically distinct from Egyptians?
7.31.2006 7:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Erasmussimo:

The UN article 2 section 4 is merely a statement against aggression. Certainly Jordan was in violation when it invaded Israel in 1948 and 1967. But you still haven't coped with the rights of the victims of aggression when they happen to win.

You keep on dancing. First you say:

"As I explain above, the relevant law was not enacted until some years after World War II, hence your example is irrelevant."

But you won't cite the relevant law beyond the UN article. Now you want to reach back before WWII when you say:

"By 1900 it was an informal factor in some transactions, and the principle of self-determination was established in law at the end of World War I."

Here is what I think is happening. You don't know, or this matter is really not a settled issue in international law at all, in which case Israel cannot be in violation of something that's ambiguous at best. What you need to give your position credibility is something more than laws against the aggressive acquisition of territory. You need a prohibition against taking control (a lesser act than annexation) of territory from the country that is the aggressor. It seems reasonable to make the aggressor suffer by losing land when that enhances the security of the victim.

It's markm that lives in the real world and hits the nail on the head when he says:

"And that's the whole problem with "international law" - it's unenforceable except by going to war, and that only happens when enforcing the "law" happens to coincide with some nation's interests, .."


These "international law arguments" are pretty meaningless. They are selectively applied against the country you want to beat up on. We don't like Israel so scream about international law. But we are afraid of China so don't even bring it up.
7.31.2006 8:04pm
Erasmussimo:
Michelle, the key notion here is that the Palestinians are very distinct from the Israelis. Surely you will not deny this point. That is the foundation for the self-determination clauses. The basic idea is that international law frowns on one ethnic group stomping on another ethnic group. It does not forbid two ethnic groups in the same country -- it says that, when one ethnic group feels persecuted by another ethnic group, they should have the right to determine their own future. Surely you do not deny this simple principle of fairness, so eloquently phrased in our own Declaration of Independence?

It's possible to quibble over lots of details, such as the economic viability of a new nation-state carved out of an older one, or the difficulties of disentangling two ethnic groups. These quibbles can become major stumbling blocks. But the basic principle, as it applies to the West Bank and Gaza, is clear: the Israelis have no long-term right to rule these lands.

A.Zarkov, perhaps you do not understand Article 2, Section 4. Allow me to simplify it for you by parsing away some of the verbiage:

"All Members shall refrain from... the use of force against the territorial integrity... of any state." The application of this clause to the West Bank is a bit tricky because the West Bank was not unambiguously assigned to any state. However, relying on that point is sophistry, not analysis.

What's interesting here is that you reject something that even the State of Israel accepts: that it cannot legally annex the land in the West Bank and Gaza. Its legal position has been consistent since 1967: it is an Occupying Power as defined in the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Lastly, you reject the very notion of international law. All I can say to this is that law is the foundation of civilization; if you reject law, then you reject civilization.
7.31.2006 8:19pm
Toby:
The key point is that philosophers if international law generally define the rules as strictly Hobbesian. What ever the rules that apply at Erasmussimos's coctail parties, where I'm sure someone considers him clever, they do not qapply to international law.

To the extent that international law wexists, it is in the form of treaties and conventions. Perhaps Erasmussimos can tell us about the relevant conventions on armies that fight from civilian enclaves.
7.31.2006 10:07pm
Erasmussimo:
Toby, you write, "To the extent that international law wexists, it is in the form of treaties and conventions. Perhaps Erasmussimos can tell us about the relevant conventions on armies that fight from civilian enclaves."

Yes, international law consists of treaties and conventions -- such as the United Nations charter and the Fourth Geneva Convention, both of which Israel has signed. Their prohibitions against annexation of territory apply here.

I do not understand the relevance (to this discussion) of your reference to the laws on armies that fight from civilian enclaves.
7.31.2006 11:21pm
Enoch:
Erasmus, why are you fetishizing "international law", anyway? If it came down to a choice between "peace" and "international law", which would you pick? For example, if there could be redistribution of population and/or territory that would lead to peace (as, for example, happened in Europe in 1945), would you oppose this peace because it supposedly violated "international law"?

And why are you fetishizing 1945 (or 1949?) as the time when "history ends", and no further annexations are permitted? Why not 1975, when North Vietnam conquered South Vietnam? Why not now? You yourself admit that international law can change over time, and has done so repeatedly in the past, so fixing an arbitrary cut-off date on annexations is illogical (especially because this "rule" has been violated many times since your cut-off date anyway).

Self-determination is a complete chimera! There are many, many, many peoples in the world today who are denied "self-determination". To fix on Israel as the main or only state that denies certain people (the Palestinians) the right of self-determination is arbitrary and, quite frankly, calls into question your objectivity on the issue.

But would you prefer that we abandon all attempts at regulating international behavior? The value of international law is not that there's a big policeman in the sky who will club anybody who violates international law. Its value is that it establishes certain norms of behavior that, if egregiously violated, provide the international community with a sound basis for implementing group sanctions against the offender.

Except, they don't. Sanctions are only imposed selectively, as a result of both politics and raw power. When you or anyone singles out Israel as "in violation of the norms of international behavior and thus worthy of group sanctions", that is a political statement that says a lot about the person making it (and no, what it says is not "this person believes in justice and international good behavior").
7.31.2006 11:54pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
If Eramussimo meant what he says, then he would have at least an occasional post on self-determination for Kurds, a minority that considers itself oppressed in five states -- Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Russia and Iran.

Yet he says not a word about the oppression of 20 million Kurds and an endless amount about the alleged oppression of a few hundred thousand Arabs.

He's just a Jew-hater dressed in Sunday clothes instead of a sheet.
8.1.2006 12:13am
Erasmussimo:
Enoch, I'm not fetishizing international law. A. Zarkov accused me of fabricating my facts about the legal status of the West Bank and Gaza, and I have spent a number of messages explaining the law to him. Yes, it took a long time, and several people raised objections along the way. I answered their objections. How does this constitute 'fetishizing'?

Yes, if it came down to a choice between peace and international law, I'd go for peace any day, but in fact it takes a highly contrived situation to pit peace against law. Remember, the whole point and purpose of law is to keep the peace. I can't think of any situation in which international law obstructed the achievement of peace. Can you?

You write, "why are you fetishizing 1945 (or 1949?) as the time when "history ends", and no further annexations are permitted?" The answer is simple: that's when the prohibitions against annexation of foreign territory came into full force.

Your characterization of the end of the Vietnam war is off the mark. Vietnam is one country; it was divided by the French and that division always had doubtful legal status. The North's position is that it re-unified Vietnam, and that position is consistent with international law. We might not like it (and many South Vietnamese didn't like it, either!) but in this case international law could not be brought to bear against the North Vietnamese. Their subsequent incursion into Cambodia is another matter...

When you write, "Self-determination is a complete chimera!" I think you are overstating the case. There are lots of cases in which principles of self-determination have been successfully applied. The decolonization of European empires in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s provides a perfect example. The French, British, Dutch, Spanish, Belgians, and Portuguese gave up huge empires largely because they recognized that they could not in good conscience continue to deny self-determination to the residents of those colonies. Yes, in some cases there were insurgencies that forced a retreat; in others, the departure was purely voluntary and carried out in an orderly fashion.

And if self-determination is such a chimera, do you reject the Declaration of Independence as a chimera?

I am not fixing on Israel as the only or even the main state that is refusing to honor the principle of self-determination. We are discussing Israel, so I commented on the self-determination concept as it applies to Israel. If you want to discuss it as it applies to other situations, I am happy to engage in that discussion -- although the two of us might be convicted of felony topic drift if we do so.

The use of sanctions is the most promising development in geopolitics in the last century. It affords us the opportunity of peacefully pressuring countries to change. Sanctions were applied against Libya and helped bring that country around, although it took a while. The UN is now debating a resolution that countenances sanctions against Iran. If Israel goes too far and loses American support, it could well face sanctions as well.
8.1.2006 12:49am
Erasmussimo:
P.S: Harry, you write, "He's just a Jew-hater dressed in Sunday clothes instead of a sheet."

Tut-tut. It's Monday. ;-)

Best wishes, all!
8.1.2006 12:51am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Still no response to Sikkim, West Papua or the Kurds.

If anybody read your posts, they'd get the impression you've fixated on the Israelis.
8.1.2006 2:25am
Milhouse (www):
However, the assignment of the West Bank to Jordan was recognized by just about everybody -- including, I believe, Israel [...] In any case, by 1967 Jordanian sovereignty over the West Bank was accepted as legal, and certainly nobody challenged its legality.

Nope. It was recognised by the UK, and Pakistan, and nobody else.

International law is quite clear that nobody ever gains land by conquest, and that nobody ever gains any rights to land through conquest.

Aggressors should not profit from their successful conquests (though they generally do). But why on earth shouldn't victims of aggression, who successfully defend themselves, keep the land of the aggressor that Providence puts into their hands? I deny that there is any such norm of international law, I think you're making it up, but if some idiot diplomat somewhere did think up such a law then I spit on it, and on him. It's an absurd idea, and there's no reason Israel or anyone else should take note of it.

The prime exhibits here are Silesia and East Prussia. It's all very well for you to say that Poland annexed them in 1945, and the "law" against such annexation was "enacted" a few years later. How...convenient. I remember that when Germany was reunified, and finally had to negotiate a peace treaty with the Allies, Kohl raised the issue of the lost territories, making it clear that he had no expectation of actually regaining them, but he wanted to include them in the negotiations, and maybe get some sort of concession in return for them. But the world immediately erupted in howls of protest at his even suggesting that Germany had any claim on this land, which it lost fair and square. Why should Israel be any different? Because of a few years? That's insane.

I would suggest that the true reason for the failure to annex the territories was the Israeli realization that such a blatant violation of international law might well cost them the support of the USA.

Really? Then explain why Israel did annex the Golan Heights, the Latrun area, and the eastern half of Jerusalem. The USA hasn't recognised those annexations, but nor has it given Israel any grief over them.

Vietnam is one country; it was divided by the French and that division always had doubtful legal status.

The same applies to Mandatory Palestine. It's one country, and Israel has every right to unify it under its own rule. The Arab population in the territories can exercise their self-determination in Jordan, or any other Arab country they care to move to. They have no right to exercise it in Israel, while they remain hostile to that country.
8.1.2006 4:04am
Erasmussimo:
Milhouse, you write, "I deny that there is any such norm of international law, I think you're making it up, but if some idiot diplomat somewhere did think up such a law then I spit on it, and on him."

I have already provided the relevant citations from the United Nations Charter and the Fourth Geneva Convention. You are welcome to believe that I am making up the United Nations and the Fourth Geneva Convention. You are welcome to spit on international law and the hundreds of diplomats (including American and Israeli) who signed these documents. But that doesn't make them go away.
8.1.2006 1:20pm
Enoch:
How does this constitute 'fetishizing'?

You seem to believe that "international law" as defined at an arbitrary point in time supersedes common sense and the national interest of Israel. If international law doesn't work (except when powerful nations deem it in their interest to make it work), and is not applied evenhandedly at all times and to all nations, why make a fetish of referring to it as the ultimate arbiter of "what is just"?

Remember, the whole point and purpose of law is to keep the peace. I can't think of any situation in which international law obstructed the achievement of peace. Can you?

I don't agree that the point and purpose of international law is to keep the peace. Current (post-1945) international law was constructed to preserve the perceived needs of a specific situation and specific actors, and when circumstances change, international law can, will, and should change.

International law has manifestly obstructed the achievement of peace in cases when "respect for sovereignty" (which international law demands) inhibited or prevented outside powers from intervening when a nation-state committed gross human rights against its own citizens. For example, international law clearly obstructed the achievement of peace in Kosovo until the US and NATO decided, in effect, to ignore it.

You write, "why are you fetishizing 1945 (or 1949?) as the time when "history ends", and no further annexations are permitted?" The answer is simple: that's when the prohibitions against annexation of foreign territory came into full force.

Except they have been repeatedly ignored!

Your characterization of the end of the Vietnam war is off the mark. Vietnam is one country; it was divided by the French and that division always had doubtful legal status. The North's position is that it re-unified Vietnam, and that position is consistent with international law. We might not like it (and many South Vietnamese didn't like it, either!) but in this case international law could not be brought to bear against the North Vietnamese.

Uh, your ability to recite the North Vietnamese position correctly does not prove that the North Vietnamese position was correct. South Vietnam was an independent state with a sovereign government, by any definition, and was recognized as such by many countries. Ergo, North Vietnam's aggression against South Vietnam represented conquest and annexation that clearly violated international law.

When you write, "Self-determination is a complete chimera!" I think you are overstating the case. There are lots of cases in which principles of self-determination have been successfully applied.

And many more times when this principle has not been applied! There are many thousands of ethnic, national, and religious groups, but only a few hundred states, so manifestly a great many peoples are denied their aspiration to "self-determination". The "international community" does not apply the "rule" of self-determination consistently, so this "rule" actually has little meaning at all and, as a practical matter, is hardly even worth discussing.

The decolonization of European empires in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s provides a perfect example. The French, British, Dutch, Spanish, Belgians, and Portuguese gave up huge empires largely because they recognized that they could not in good conscience continue to deny self-determination to the residents of those colonies. Yes, in some cases there were insurgencies that forced a retreat; in others, the departure was purely voluntary and carried out in an orderly fashion.

Decolonization was not a recognition of the rightness of the "self-determination" principle so much as a recognition of European weakness and inability to impose their will on others. Force ruled, not principle. We may note that the Soviet Union did not give up its huge colonial empire in recognition of this mighty principle (they only did so partially in 1991), because the Soviet leaders had the ability to impose their will on their subjects. Even today the Russians seek to impose their will on the Chechens and others.

We may also note that the heirs of the former European empires do not generally recognize self-determination as a valid principle (except where it applies to their own liberation), and ruthlessly suppress national and ethnic minorities whenever they can. In short, this principle is a chimera!

And if self-determination is such a chimera, do you reject the Declaration of Independence as a chimera?

Like other former colonies, the USA only recognized self-determination with respect to its own relations with its colonial master, and did not recognize or respect self-determination when it had the whip hand, e.g. versus the South 1861-65, versus the indigenes, versus Mexico, and versus former Spanish colonies (Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines). Self-determination was indeed a chimera for the indigenous peoples, and for the Confederacy, was it not?

The use of sanctions is the most promising development in geopolitics in the last century.

A promising exercise in self-delusion, perhaps. Sanctions are all but completely ineffectual. Some nation will always have a reason to defy the sanctions regime and supply the sanctioned state.
8.1.2006 4:18pm
Erasmussimo:
Enoch, you present two complaints against international law: that it is not uniformly enforced, and that it is not always just. Welcome to the wonderful world of law. American law is probably the most highly developed body of law in the world, and guess what -- American law is not uniformly enforced and is not always just. American law does a better job than international law, but that's because American law is much more developed than international law. We don't abandon the very notion of law merely because it is flawed; we work to improve it. Without law, civilization cannot exist.
8.1.2006 5:14pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Milhouse, I have to say here that the subject of annexation is one of the few where Erasmussimo is largely correct. (Although I believe he/she has been largely playing it by ear, as he/she now correctly cites GCIV, rather than the less applicable UN Charter, as earlier.)

As such, citation of annexations prior to 1949 are of little relevance. However, it's important to note the history of US territorial expansion: Texas was a special case, as (although not recognized by Mexico), it was considered an independent republic, which was making a voluntary request for annexation. But, in the other cases the US occupied territory after armed conflict (other than Indian lands), a treaty for the purchase of said territory was made.

But, when we consider the case of Israel on the West Bank, the question of title to lands becomes VERY tricky, mostly because of the shoddy state of Ottoman record-keeping, and the to-be-expected tumult during the British Mandate years. Here, while I refuse to condemn anyone, I have to have some empathy for the Palestinians, as I know so much of the "legal" wresting of lands from the Spanish grant holders, during the early days of Yankee California.

But I must add here, to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, "International Law" is a VERY nebulous thing - better suited to be a starting point for diplomatic negotiations, than a vehicle for judgment and enforcement.
8.2.2006 6:25am