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The Decline of Amnesty International:

Ha'aretz:

"[In a report accusing Israel of war crimes, Amnesty International] accused Israel of applying an overly broad interpretation of what constituted a military objective when it attacked power plants, bridges, main roads, seaports and Beirut's international airport, all of which are 'presumed to be civilian.'"

I'm no military expert, but every book, movie, documentary, etc., I've ever seen on war assumes that at least bridges [how many WWII movies have a scene focused on taking a bridge?], roads and seaports are important military targets, and in modern times I'd have to put airports on that list, too. The idea that a country at war can't attack the enemy's resupply routes (at least until it has direct evidence that there is a particular military shipment arriving) has nothing to do with human rights or war crimes, and a lot to do with a pacifist attitude that seeks to make war, regardless of the justification for it or the restraint in prosecuting it [at least if it's a Western country doing it], an international "crime."* Not to mention that the Beirut airport was only temporarily shut down with minor damage, and is already reopen. [If Amnesty International wants to make the case that the Party of God would not and could not use any of the relevant targets for resupply, and Israel knew it, that's a different story, but I'd love to see such evidence, which, to say the least, would be counter-intuitive.]

I also have to question the "high number of civilian casualties" that Amnesty is reportedly relying on. Any innocent civilian death are tragic, but 1,000 or so (alleged, we don't really know) civilians in a month of urban warfare against an enemy that based itself in the middle of cities and villages hardly seems excessive by any objective standard. The idea that Israel deliberately targeted civilians should be self-refuting to anyone with common sense, given the low level of casualties relative to the destructive power of the Israeli air force.

I once generally admired Amnesty when it focused on protecting political dissidents on the like, but, like many other NGOs, it seems now to have simply become part of the international far Left, and should be seen in that light.

UPDATE: Does it change things from a human rights or "international law" perspective that Israel was in effect "at war" with the Party of God, not Lebanon? As a moral matter, I don't see why it should, especially because (a) the Party of God is operating from Lebanese sovereign territory, and is part of the Lebanese government and (b) Israel only has an armistice agreement with Lebanon, and the two countries are technically (that is, legally) still at war. If someone nevertheless wants to explain in the comments why it should matter, I'm all ears.

FURTHER UPDATE: This article by Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch is also revealing. Roth claims that international humanitarian law required Israel to "treat[] Lebanese civilians as human beings whose lives are as valuable as Israelis'." Can you imagine any government doing this? In other words, a terrorist group in Gaza or Lebanon is attacking Israeli civilian targets. According to Roth's logic, Israel can only retaliate if it's retaliation will cost no more civilian lives in Gaza or Lebanon than would be caused by the terrorists if Israel didn't try to stop them. This is a formula that would paralyze not only Israel, but the U.S., Russian, India, and any other country that feels the need to pursue a military response to terrorism. Surely, the Allied forces inadvertantly killed more Afghan civilians than the number of Westerners likely at immediate risk from Al Qaeda and the Taliban! The type of "international law" and "human rights" activism that Roth and co. represent is scrupulously amoral in failing to consider that the aggressor should be held responsible for the deaths on both sides, as you can't expect any nation to allow its civilians to be attacked and not retaliate militarily. And it's also ridiculously utopian, in the sense that it expects citizens of a democratic polity to value the lives of civilians on the other side, including civilians who openly support terrorist enemies, as highly as their own, their family's and their countrymen's.

*Relevant excerpt from the Amnesty report: "However, even if it could be argued that some of these objects could qualify as military objectives (because they serve a dual purpose), Israel is obligated to ensure that attacking these objects would not violate the principle of proportionality. For example, a road that can be used for military transport is still primarily civilian in nature. The military advantage anticipated from destroying the road must be measured against the likely effect on civilians, especially the most vulnerable, such as those requiring urgent medical attention."

In other words, no country can ever attack road, port, bridge, etc., facilities used by an irregular, guerrilla army, because by the very nature of such an army, these facilities will primarily be used by civilians. Or, put another way, a country at war must sacrifice the lives of its own soldiers and perhaps civilians by avoiding attacking military targets that are also used by civilians, unless you can come up with some sort of cockamamie calculation that somehow proves that the military benefit is greater than the harm to the other side's civilians. I'm sure there are people out there who believe this, but again, this is a highly ideological position that reflects a strongly pacifist sentiment, and should not be confused with the sort of objective human rights standard (e.g., don't lock up someone for writing a newspaper article critical of the government) that all "liberals" of good will could agree on.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Human Rights Watch's Credibility--Not So Good:
  2. The Decline of Amnesty International:
Commenterlein (mail):
I would argue that weighting one innocent civilian life more than a second one just because the first happens to be part of your tribe is what's "scrupulously amoral".

The opposite may be utopian, but so is honesty and fairness.
8.22.2006 11:49pm
CaDan (mail):
Link to what I think is the actual report:

here.

I am especially curious as to the justification for targetting power plants.
8.22.2006 11:51pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
So you have no more feeling for the lives of your spouse, parents, children, etc., than for some random Amazon tribesman? I don't believe it, and I can prove it's not true, I'm sure, by how you spend your resources.
8.22.2006 11:52pm
Speaking the Obvious:
Prof. Bernstein is correct. These Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch people are obviously anti-semitic, despite the large number of Jewish donors and members. After all, they harshly criticize Israel.

Also brazenly anti-Semitic is B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights group that so frequently marches in lock-step with AI and HRW.

Clearly, there's a whole lot of anti-semitism going on. Nothing else could explain the horror and outrage against Israeli military actions.
8.22.2006 11:58pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
ummm... I hate to point out the "obvious," but you're the first person to talk about antisemitism here, StO.
8.23.2006 12:00am
fishbane (mail):
The type of "international law" and "human rights" activism that Roth and co. represent is scrupulously amoral in failing to consider that the aggressor should be held responsible for the deaths on both sides, as you can't expect any nation to allow its civilians to be attacked and not retaliate militarily.

So, I assume you apply that same metric to Iraq?

Granted, the nation state attacked no longer exists. But I think a similar line of thought applies to groups of people who aren't government.

I'm not trying to be snarky - I'm looking for consistency.
8.23.2006 12:03am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Yes, STO, you are engaging in old-fashioned Jew-baiting, hidden with a veneer of Progressive sensibility. Take a good look in the mirror before going to sleep at night. What B'tselem and Amnesty have in common is a far left mentality that tries to establish standards that would make it impossible for liberal democracies to defend themselves against terrorism, not anti-Semitism.
8.23.2006 12:05am
AnonLawStudent:
Unfortunately, these reports represent the "victory" the Hizb'Allah sought. A party to conflict intermingles its military assets with the civillian populace, then lets the media and human rights activits act as a Fifth Column when the inevitable response occurs. Fortunately (for ultimate peace, but unfortunately for civillian Lebanese), a Western power may now have the gumption to resort to total war for the first time since 1945.
8.23.2006 12:06am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Fish, depends on who you think the "aggressor" was in Iraq, and whether you think that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had a moral right to defend itself.
8.23.2006 12:10am
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Is Hezbollah really "part of the Lebanese government" as Prof. Bernstein's first update says? I know that, as a political party, it controls some portion of the legislature, but that doesn't seem like enough to support this claim. Even majority parties -- which I don't believe Hezbollah is -- are usually separate from the government (except in single-party systems like Baathist Iraq and Communist China).
8.23.2006 12:12am
CaDan (mail):
Somehow I don't think "The Guns of Navarone" is a recognized source for arguments on the Law of War.
8.23.2006 12:16am
Omri (mail):
I think the right wing critique of this kind of posturing is spot on in this case. By the people who make these accusations, "international humanitarian law" is often cited but seldom read, and they are treating the entire concept like it's a game of Calvinball and they're Calvin.

Which will stop being fun as soon as they learn who Hobbes really is.
8.23.2006 12:18am
plunge (mail):
I'm more inclinded to see David Bernstein as having decided that the earth must be scorched and the hostages must be shot and anyone who dares say otherwise is a vile backstabber of Israel and Amnesty basically staying in the same place they've always been.

So if civilians of another country are not equally deserving of life, exactly what is the exchange rate precisely? Is 2 to 1000 about the right guage? 100 to 1000?
8.23.2006 12:33am
Omri (mail):
Well, Plunge, I have a suggestion: read the actual provisions of "international humanitarian law" and find out. Specifically, the 1977 addenda to the Geneva Conventions. There is nothing about ratios or exchange rates. The only questions is what is being targetted. If a target is being used by the enemy for military purposes (e.g. resupply routes) then it is fair game. That's it. Nothing more to it.

Why Amnesty International wants to invent provisions of international law out of whole cloth, I do not know.
8.23.2006 12:47am
RichG (mail):

I am especially curious as to the justification for targetting power plants.

Simple, the enemy uses electricity.


So if civilians of another country are not equally deserving of life, exactly what is the exchange rate precisely? Is 2 to 1000 about the right guage? 100 to 1000?


Only the left "gauges" a war using civilian casualties, and then they only do so when it's not a war started by someone on the left. Where were these people back during the whole Bosnia thing, you know, when Slick Willy was bombing thousands of civilians and, oh my God, BRIDGES!
8.23.2006 12:52am
RichG (mail):

Why Amnesty International wants to invent provisions of international law out of whole cloth, I do not know.


To embarass the US and Israel. Take a look at the bio's of the people who run that organization and you'll see why. The better question is, why do we care what they think? I don't. In fact the more upset they are the better job we're doing in my opinion.
8.23.2006 12:57am
QC (mail):
People that critisize based on "international law" are not to be trusted. International law, including the Geneva Convention, is written by the victor of war, and is a tool of war. These "laws" can be changed at anytime by someone with a bigger gun.
8.23.2006 1:02am
Zed (mail) (www):
The idea that Israel deliberately targeted civilians should be self-refuting to anyone with common sense, given the low level of casualties relative to the destructive power of the Israeli air force.

I'm always a little staggered whenever I see someone make a claim like this. It basically amounts to the argument that since one side could have killed many more people than it did that it was minimizing damage. You might as well claim that the Nazi death camps were minimizing damage, since they could have insured no survivors at all if they really set their minds to it. Both claims are obviously nonsensical; the fact that Israel's military has nukes doesn't mean that they never authorized excessive or retributive force whenever they thought they could get away with it without drawing down too much international condemnation.

But let's look at actual estimates of damage inflicted, instead, to get a sense of how well each side really did:

Hezbollah ("Party of God", since you're so inclined): 118 enemy soldiers killed, 39 enemy civilians, with some 300,000 displaced and 6,000 or so homes destroyed.

Israel ("God's Chosen People", if we're going to be fair): about 100 soldiers and Hezbollah killed, and upwards of 800 civilians, about a third of which were children, with 916,000 displaced (a quarter of the entire Lebanese population), with 15,000 homes destroyed.

By the numbers, the Party of God is doing substantially better at killing soldiers without killing civilians than God's Chosen People. This excludes the evidence that God's Chosen People deliberately targeted the Red Cross and an unarmed, scheduled civilian refugee convoy. Or the fact that they were using cluster munitions.

As far as it concerns roads, airports, and power stations, it's rather debatable exactly how much military import those things really had against an opponent that (as I understand it) was relying mostly on caches and footpower rather than an air force and armored vehicles. And the power stations? What was the point of that? Are we supposed to believe somehow that the Party of God was somehow dependent on civilian power lines? Does that mean that the power infrastructure of God's Chosen People was likewise fair game?
8.23.2006 1:10am
CaDan (mail):

Simple, the enemy uses electricity.


Strange.

It is my recollection that the concern was mobile missile launchers in southern Lebanon. If they have to be plugged in, they aren't very mobile.
8.23.2006 1:10am
Christopher M (mail):
Goodness. Put aside the question about whether nations should value their own citizens more highly than foreign citizens. Surely the value-ratio shouldn't be infinite? From May 2000 to June 2006, by Israel's own count, Hezbollah's attacks wounded about 7 (seven) Israeli civilians and 27 soldiers, and killed three IDF soldiers and, oh, let's just say some single-digit number of civilians. Add the two captured and three dead Israeli soldiers in Hezbollah's cross-border raid. That gets us into double digits.

Worth over a "thousand people, mostly Lebanese civilians" dead? Worth the hundreds of thousands of displaced Lebanese and Israelis? Worth strengthening Hezbollah's political standing in Lebanon, including among those who are neither Shiite Muslims nor hell-bent on Israel's destruction?

Professor Bernstein: How would you value the lives of foreign civilians when carrying out military attacks? If you can save the life of one home-country citizen, is it worth killing 10 foreigners? 20? 100? A thousand?

I don't mean to give credence to the view that this war has actually saved Israeli lives. It probably hasn't. But it certainly would be interesting to know how the partisans of the war party would make the moral calculus.
8.23.2006 1:12am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Zed, "Israel" does not mean "God's Chosen people", Hezbollah literally means "Party of God." On what basis, other than prejudice against Jews, did you assume it did?

And neither you nor anyone else knows how many Party of God fighters were killed. Hez claims a few dozen, Israel estimate around 500 IN BATTLE, and assumedly more in air strikes.

The rest of your points have been well-refuted in previous threads on this blog, and I need to go to sleep now.
8.23.2006 1:14am
RichG (mail):

Strange.

It is my recollection that the concern was mobile missile launchers in southern Lebanon. If they have to be plugged in, they aren't very mobile.


Your recollection seems to be narrowly focused on what was reported on the news. Mobile rocket launchers were not the primary target. The actual enemy were. You see, if there is no human controlling said rocket launcher the rocket launcher is just a pile of metal. Humans need to communicate and do other day to day activities that require POWER.

Try rounding up a few thousand of your buddies and try to take on one of the worlds toughest armies with no electricity. Then you'll see why they target power plants.
8.23.2006 1:21am
RichG (mail):

Does that mean that the power infrastructure of God's Chosen People was likewise fair game?


Yes. If the Germans had managed to fly across the Atlantic to take out a power plant in New Jersey I would not be calling that a war crime today.
8.23.2006 1:26am
Zed (mail) (www):
David:

Are you disputing that Israelites believe that they are chosen to be in a covenant with God? I note that there is an entire Wikipedia entry on it, so at least it's a fairly common belief.

In any case, I don't believe that either term is particularly useful, and using one over the other is simply highlighting your own prejudices. It's ludicrous to imply that Hezbollah is driven entirely by religious considerations and that Israel is driven entirely by secularr ones, which is what your Fox-news-style alterations do.

As for the remainder, obviously I did not find any of the "refutations" convincing. Feel free to have another pass.
8.23.2006 1:40am
fishbane (mail):
Fish, depends on who you think the "aggressor" was in Iraq, and whether you think that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had a moral right to defend itself.

Fair enough. You ask two questions.

- Who was the aggressor?

By any standard that makes sense, the the party that invades another without provocation would be defined as the aggressor.

- Did Saddam's Iraq have a moral right to defend itself?

Much harder question, on many different levels. One easy way out is that the US certainly treated the country as a soveriegn state, and until the drums started pounding, entertained diplomats, considered issues at the UN regarding them, and otherwise treated them as a nation. I can see an argument that one would extent "diplomatic rights" while not extending "moral rights": at the same time, but that leads to a rather slippery notion of what being a state should mean. And that, in turn, raises all sorts of issues about variable legitimacy of states, realpolitick, just war theory, etc. That's a topic for a journal, not a blog comment.

But I think that is beside the point. We're not fighting Saddam's Iraq. I made a point of making that point in my origional comment. I said,

Granted, the nation state attacked no longer exists. But I think a similar line of thought applies to groups of people who aren't government.

Without attempting to draw an equivalence, imagine Big Bad State X topples the US Federal government, and imposes a CPA (Cute Puppy Authority). Many holdouts fight against the invasion in a ragtag fashion. They are not agents of the old government (indeed, many of them with the means to fight were originally gearing up for a fight with the Feds over obscure complaints about race issues and taxation or what have you already).

Even as I might disagree with both motive and means, I have trouble finding those in that situation illegitimate.
8.23.2006 1:40am
Ernst Blofeld (mail):
What's the "correct" ratio of acceptable civilian deaths? I'd argue that that depends on what the electorate of the combatants are willing to put up with. International law doesn't exactly exist in a vacuum. Ultimately the "law" has to be agreed to by the people that are bound by it. An elite can't impose it from NGOs.
8.23.2006 1:43am
Omri (mail):
ChristopherM, there is nothing in "international law", anywhere, that says anything whatever on what the casualty ratios should be. That is a topic for undergraduate bull sessions.
8.23.2006 1:52am
Justin (mail):
Um, David, it's your blog, but if you're going to criticize someone for being wrong and then accuse them of antisemitism, you probably should have your bases covered.

I'm Jewish, so you can go ahead and call me antisemetic, and yes I know that Christian English translations of the Bible tend to give Israel the technical meaning one who strives with God, but that's hardly it's actual usage.

Let's go to the American Heritage Dictionary:

Is·ra·el1 (ĭz'rē-əl) pronunciation
n.

1. Bible.
1. Jacob.
2. The descendants of Jacob.
2. Judaism. The Hebrew people, past, present, and future, regarded as the chosen people of God by virtue of the covenant of Jacob.

[Middle English, from Old English, from Latin, from Greek Israēl, from Hebrew yiśrā’ēl, God has striven, God has saved : yiśrā, he has striven, saved + ’ēl, God.]

Look at that, the Chosen People, our nickname, right in the definition of the clearly antisemetic American Heritage Dictionary. And a legitimate debate about whether Yisra means strived or saved - in the "chosen" context.

But go ahead labeling all you disagree with crazy, with the far left, or antisemetic, whether those people simply comment on a blog or do the serious work of trying to protect the human rights of others. While legitimate organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, along with more conservative organizations ranging from the Catholic Church to the Jubilee Campaign, you feel free to namecall about the "far left" and how we hate Jews so much.
8.23.2006 1:55am
Justin (mail):
Note: Obviously the American Heritage definition isn't as clear as it can be - the covenant was made with Abraham, and reaffirmed through Jacob, who was given the name Israel as a blessing.
8.23.2006 1:58am
Harry Eagar (mail):
Do both sides have to abide by international law?

If one side doesn't, what compulsions does that put on the side that does/did?

It's been a long, long time since Amnesty International was anything other than an antiUS pressure group. Its period of acting as a neutral watchdog lasted a few years, less than a decade.
8.23.2006 2:05am
Maximilian Parsons (mail):
Live by the sword, die by the sword.
8.23.2006 2:08am
Speaking the Obvious:
Mr. Chapman claims I was the first to bring up the word "anti-semitism," as if no one were thinking it before. Though I see it didn't stop Mr. Bernstein from bringing it up against a fellow Jew with the "wrong" opinions about Israel. I too am Jewish.

As to anti-semitism, Mr. Chapman, who is talking about anything else? It is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Try not to notice, but there is no other country on earth that could bomb a neighboring country, kill 1000 of its citizens, destroy the infrastructure of its capital city, and be hailed by Americans for its restraint. This only happens because of the dread fear that any criticism constitutes anti-semitism.
8.23.2006 2:20am
james (mail):
There is a desire among NGO groups to treat the military like a police force. As such, the rules by which they expect the military to act are closely related to how they expect an extra national police force to act.

NGO's tend to pick and choose among the international laws, just as nation states do. While AI most likely knows that Israel did not sign Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions, they still want it to apply.
8.23.2006 2:52am
fishbane (mail):
While AI most likely knows that Israel did not sign Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions, they still want it to apply.

That is interesting. I don't know where to find information on things like this - do you have a good reference? I'd be very appreciative, which of course means little. I'll buy you a beer if you find yourself in NYC.
8.23.2006 3:00am
JEM:
CaDan, et al: Machine tools and etc. used to produce rockets - and it's well documented, I think, that Hezbollah does produce its own - require power. This is a modern irregular force, we're not talking about two guys sitting under a tree hammering water pipe into zipguns.

Cellphone towers and other communications infrastructure requires power. If you can slow their communication by making them hand-carry notes, you're improving your chances.

And if you can make the other guys mule-pack their rockets overland a couple at a time instead of chucking a dozen or two of them in road-bound trucks, you're cutting down the amount of shrapnel they can throw at your family.

Speaking the Obvious: The real question here is just how important this war is to Israel.

Because if it truly is a war for survival, then excessive concern for the health and sanitation and mobility of the civilians of one's adversary (or, in this case, of a state occupied by one's adversary) is suicidal.

When one is pushing around numbers like a thousand lives over the course of a month, let's remember that'd have been a couple minutes' dead in Dresden and a fraction of a second's dead in Hiroshima. The Allied bombings and artillery fire in preparation for the D-Day landings killed fifty times that many French civilians.

I'm not claiming that Israel fought this war sensibly, or that different tactics might have reduced Lebanese civilian casualties, but they clearly did show restraint.

Further, when it comes to the 'civilian' casualties - if you are a relative of a Hezbollah fighter and live in proximity to him/her, if you know the guys downstairs pack explosives into rocket casings and make no effort to get the hell out of Dodge, you are a willing participant in your own demise.
8.23.2006 3:04am
Christopher M (mail):
Omri--

I didn't say anything about "international law." I'm asking about morality. Are you seriously arguing that anything not forbidden by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions is ethical in war?

I don't know what to say about your "undergraduate bull sessions" comment, except that if that's the level of treatment you think these kind of questions deserve, I guess that explains your cavalier attitude.
8.23.2006 3:05am
lemonade (mail):
I'm of northern European descent, am married to a beautiful woman who is half Ashkenazi, have received a Southwest Asia Service Medal, and offer my observations.

The 800-pound gorilla has left the building. The reason for resentment is success. When 1.2 billion people are kept at bay by 6 million, it is embarrassing to the masses.

Your average IQ is 113, theirs is 84. Stop feeling guilty. Amnesty International will always favor the underdog. And I'm tired of hearing about anti-Semitism at every one of my family functions. Welcome to the team.

Respectfully yours;
8.23.2006 3:19am
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
As an American who's lived in Israel for many years, I can truthfully say that Israel values the lives of people of *all* religions and ethnicities. Just yesterday a bus filled with Israeli overturned in the Sinai desert. Within a short time there were dozens of Israeli ambulances at the border, with their lights flashing, waiting to be let in to take the wounded to the hospital in Eilat. The Egyptians would not let them in! Their ridiculous inefficiency and/or pride and/or hostility to Israel "forced" them to take the injured to a simple clinic nearby, or to a hospital over a hundred miles away.

And here's the thing: These were Israeli Arabs! Read about their feelings on their treatment by Arab Egypt vs. Jewish Israel here: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/753589.html.

And yes, Israel used expensive smart bombs instead of much cheaper dumb bombs in order to minimize Lebanese civilian casualties. Not just so that we can ignore the rantings of anti-Israel groups like Amnesty, but because we value *all* human life.

All this despite the fact that Arab and Muslim lives are less valuable than Israeli (Jew or other) lives.

You read that right. Israeli lives are worth more, much more in fact, than non-Israeli Arab and Muslim lives. Accept it. In fact, Arab &Muslim lives are not valuable at all.

Who says this? Anwar Sadat, for example. He said he'd gladly sacrifice ONE MILLION Egyptian soldiers to attack Israel. He was assassinated by Muslim wackos for being too accomodating to Israel.

Or the wacko Muslim ayatollahs in Iran, who used "human-wave" attacks of hundreds of thousands of Iranian children armed with nothing but Korans in the Iran-Iraq war. Or, for that matter, Saddam Hussein's Iraq, which killed those Iranian children, gassed thousands of Kurds, and attempted genocide on the residents of the southern swamp areas of Iraq.

Or the Muslim terror gangs in Lebanon and Gaza and the West Bank, who regularly kidnap Israelis and demand that hundreds, if not thousands, of their prisoners held by Israel be released for *each* kidnapped Israeli.

Or the Palestinians, who bring their own children into the world for the express purpose of blowing their heads and limbs off in order to murder Jews. (Note that several times child suicide bombers sent to Israel have been discovered at border posts - they were "defused," not shot, by the Israeli soldiers.)

Or the Hezballah, who put women and children, some of them handicapped, into buildings which Hezballah used to wage war on Israeli civilians. I suggest that, if you find yourself whining about the high numbers of Lebanese women and children blown up in this war, try *thinking* about how that could happen.

Or Hassan Nasrallah himself, who said "This is a great victory for us, of which we are proud" when his own son was killed.

So yes, Arab and Muslim life is of little value. Almost none, in fact, other than for the (usually disgusting) purposes of the fascist Islamic and/or nationalist leadership of some Arab or Muslim entity.


The question for Israel is, how should *we* relate to Arab and Muslim life? That depends on the situation. When we have to defend ourselves (i.e., our women, children, and yes! men) from thousands of missiles or suicide bombers, we value our civilians over theirs, though not nearly as lopsidedly as they do. Otherwise, we value *all* life as much as possible. Because that is *our* nature.
8.23.2006 3:25am
Lev:

While AI most likely knows that Israel did not sign Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions, they still want it to apply.
That is interesting. I don't know where to find information on things like this - do you have a good reference? I'd be very appreciative, which of course means little. I'll buy you a beer if you find yourself in NYC.


At least for the US, on the US State Dept. website is a file called Treaties in Force. I don't remember if it includes all the accessions and reservations of other nations.

With respect to the many Geneva Protocols, the website of the International Red Cross has files as to who is party to what.
8.23.2006 3:30am
Perry (mail):
I didn't say anything about "international law." I'm asking about morality. Are you seriously arguing that anything not forbidden by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions is ethical in war?

The corollary of what you are saying is that Western nations have no choice but to passively absorb attacks by the likes of Hezbollah who hide behind their own civilian populations.

As DB said, no nation has actually done what Israel is apparently being demanded to do.
8.23.2006 3:38am
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
I notice plenty of people whining about Israel violating protocols, treaties, etc. But hardly a peep about whether Lebanon or Hezballah respect these.

If that's not disproportionate response, what is?
8.23.2006 3:42am
fishbane (mail):
Thanks, Lev. The drink offer stands. (Reaons #672 I like this blog - smart information flows even as flowery accusations of antisemitism blossom.)
8.23.2006 3:47am
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
Shorter Bernstein -

I admired Amnesty International's commitment to the protection of human rights until they started calling attention to the rights of those I do not consider to be human
8.23.2006 4:05am
Libertydoc (mail):
As Glenn Woiceshyn recently and succinctly wrote it Capmag:

The primary purpose and moral obligation of any legitimate government is to protect the lives and rights of its own citizens.... When Hezbollah attacked, Israel significantly dampened its response in order to minimize the killing of “Lebanese civilians,” thereby allowing many Hezbollah terrorists to live and kill Israelis. It was immoral for Israel’s government to sacrifice a single Israeli soldier or civilian to save the lives of those Lebanese civilians who chose to remain in a region occupied years earlier by a terrorist organization.

Israel was not the aggressor. It was only trying to defend itself and to survive an attack by an entity, Hezbollah, sworn to eliminate Israel. Hezbollah was fostered by the citizens of southern Lebanon and acted as the de facto government of the region. Israel had every right to use as much force as necessary to defend itself.
8.23.2006 4:16am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Israel ("God's Chosen People", if we're going to be fair): about 100 soldiers and Hezbollah killed, and upwards of 800 civilians, about a third of which were children, with 916,000 displaced (a quarter of the entire Lebanese population), with 15,000 homes destroyed.
This is beyond disingenuous.

First, "Israel" does not mean "God's Chosen People," so you're really not "being fair," but Jew-baiting. "Israel" means "he who struggles with God."

Second, the "civilian" vs. "soliders and Hezbollah" numbers are made up. Soldiers wear uniforms; that's how we can distinguish them from civilians. Hezbollah do not. Anybody who pretends they know, from looking at a corpse, whether the person was a civilian or Hezbollah member is lying.

Third, does the fact that someone is under the voting age in the U.S. somehow make him not a soldier/militant/terrorist (choose your word)? Using the word/classification "children," as if a 17-year old fighter is somehow morally equivalent to a 6-year old lying in bed, is dishonest.

Fourth, unless 916,000 people live in 15,000 homes (an average of 61 people per house? Big houses), then 916,000 people were not "displaced." They left temporarily to avoid fighting. They're back now.

Fifth, if you're going to count everyone who avoids battle as "displaced," then why did you fail to include that calculus for victims south of the border? Do Israelis who flee fighting not count in your worldview?
8.23.2006 4:48am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Are you disputing that Israelites believe that they are chosen to be in a covenant with God? I note that there is an entire Wikipedia entry on it, so at least it's a fairly common belief.
First, there haven't been "Israelites" in millennia. The people fighting Hezbollah are Israelis, not "Israelites," and don't necessarily believe anything at all about God.

Second, regardless of "beliefs," Israel simply doesn't mean "God's chosen people," whereas Hezbollah DOES mean "Party of God."
8.23.2006 4:54am
fishbane (mail):
Fourth, unless 916,000 people live in 15,000 homes (an average of 61 people per house? Big houses), then 916,000 people were not "displaced." They left temporarily to avoid fighting. They're back now.

Discounting the math, you don't dispute the raw numbers. Are they back? What does that mean? Everything is normal? (hey, invasions, bombing, what, me worry?) Tell me that your neighborhood would just snap back to normal after a massive depopulation and, well, a bombing here, a bombing there. Not big real, right? I'm sure UCLA or GW would quickly evacuate to safe locations, and then reconstitute under the same conditions, and get back to work, no big deal.

Never mind, we've got linguistic parsing to do.
8.23.2006 5:25am
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
To fishbane, et. al.-

Compassion is not just a tool with which to bash Israel. Your whining about property damage and "civilian" casualties in Lebanon, but not in Israel, is nauseating to anyone who really is compassionate.

Furthermore, Hezballah's long-term goal is the annhilation of Israel. One can not understand this war out of that context. And your hiding from that fact is just plain dishonest.
8.23.2006 5:47am
Sean Healy (mail):
This war wasn't about numbers, it was about sovereignty. The arguments about who killed a bigger proportion of civilians or about a proportional response to limited Hizballah aggression miss the larger point about the fatal damage to Israel's sovereignty were those attacks to go without retaliation. It was also about forcing the issue of Lebanese sovereignty (such as it is) into the discussion. When Israelis talk about this war as part of an existential threat, it's not because Hizballah is in a position to kill all or most of them, but because Hizballah's actions test the limits of sovereignty and the principles of self-defense that uphold it. Also, the point of going to war against your enemy is to destroy his capability to attack you in the first place; in this respect, Israel failed but did nothing immoral or illegal in its efforts.
8.23.2006 5:59am
Mitrii:
It is very funny how people instead of searching for facts are trying to propagate their own misunderstandings (comments).

I wonder whether the HA's firing of rockets into towns was ever protested loudly by Amnesty International. And if so, what should International community do about it?

And please, give me an example of a good "proportionate war"?

"Try not to notice, but there is no other country on earth that could bomb a neighboring country, kill 1000 of its citizens, destroy the infrastructure of its capital city, and be hailed by Americans for its restraint." This is exactly what we are talking about. Any other country making such damage would kill MUCH MORE than one thousand (in fact less, since about 500 were HA fighters in the south). Remember how US AF flattened several buildings with civilians trying to get SAddam Hussein.


Both populations fled the war zone, and numbers were in hundreds of thousands on both sides. However, the international community decided to finance only the Lebanon reconstruction.

70% of Israel are secular, and the good part of the rest are muslims (chosen by Allah). From these 70% IMHO too many are chosen by the bloodthursty god of Liberal Ideas (e.g. B"'Tselem). In fact, the closer statement will be that Jews were chosen by European for expulsions for many centuries.

And a test question for the readers: how many professions are forbidden to Palestinians living in Lebanon?
8.23.2006 6:11am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Those who criticize Israel usually hold it to standards that no other country chooses to meet. I never get an answer to the question “which country wages war in a manner you accept?”

Let’s face it; these war standards are simply the victor’s justice. Look at WWII and the subsequent Nuremburg trials. One of charges against the men in the docket was the expulsion of civilians from conquered territories. What were the Allies doing at the very time of the trials? Expelling 16 million Germans from conquered territories! Another charge was using slave labor. Now lets look at protocols from the Yalta Conference, specifically section V “Reparations,” sub section 2. “Reparations in kind is to be extracted from Germany in the three following forms,” part (c) “Use of German labor.” The Yalta agreement specifically authorizes the use of slave labor!

The Allies implemented Yalta. According to German Red Cross documents 875,000 ethnic and other Germans were abducted and sent to the Soviet Union as slave labor. Of these 45% died during the course of their captivity. They were mainly Danube Swabians (Rumania) and Siebenburger Saxons along with from East Prussians. So yes the USSR got slaves with the complicity of the British and the Americans.

Today see same kind of European hypocrisy-- one standard for Israel and another for everyone else. While Russia commits atrocities in Chechnya, the focus of Europe and the western media in general is on Israel who does not commit atrocities against Muslims. Israel does not take whole families and throw them down wells. Israel does not take prisoners and tear their bodies apart with chains fastened to jeeps. It’s these kinds of acts that constitute atrocities not collateral damage to civilians during the course of war. Look at the word games these so-called human rights organizations play. The killing of more than 4 people is termed a “massacre.”
8.23.2006 6:16am
Omri (mail):
ChristopherM: the context here is an accusation of war crimes. War crimes are not defined by "morality", and certainly not by Amnesty International's double standards on it. The relevant international law for war crimes here is the Geneva Conventions.
8.23.2006 7:18am
Civilis (mail):

- Who was the aggressor?

By any standard that makes sense, the the party that invades another without provocation would be defined as the aggressor.


Since that's not the case with Iraq, what are you trying to say? Iraq violating the terms of Gulf War ceasefire is a provocation of the sort that historically allows for a resumption of offensive operations, whether or not you believe the current war is justified.

More importantly, is there a moral distinction to be drawn by an 'agressor' that takes extensive actions to spare civilian casualties and a 'defender' that not only uses human shields but deliberately attacks its own civilian population? I'm not going to get into a debate over the morality of a guerilla war against the US forces in Iraq, as there's no easy answers. But the current debate should be over the morality of a terroist campaign directed against the Iraqi people by the guerilla insurgancy.
8.23.2006 8:02am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CaDan.

Please be serious. The Guns of Navarone is fiction. What on earth is the connection? Please note that MacLean's "Guns" were, in any event, guns, not dual-use facilities.

If you want WW II references, see "The Dam Busters", or "Bridge at Remagen".

Or did you just throw that nonsense out to annoy the rest of us?
8.23.2006 8:36am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Justin, if you want to know what the country's name means, don't look up "Israel", which is an English translation, and has colloquial meanings based on "Israelite", which in Hebrew is "B'nai Yisrael," whereas the name of the country is Yisrael, just as the name of Northern Kingdom of B'nai Yisrael was called Yisrael. The literal translation of Yisrael is "He who fights with God" but, as I've explained before, the actual name is not theological, but a throwback to the ancient kindgom, to assert the Jews' continuous connection to the land. So even the literal translation, if used, would be irrelevant, whereas Hezbollay is indeed the Party of God, and meant to be such.
8.23.2006 9:35am
DavidBernstein (mail):
There are two ways of abusing "anti-Semitism" in debates about Israel. One is to claim that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic,thereby trying to silence legitimate criticism. The other is to claim that anyone who criticizes critics of Israel is CLAIMING that the critics or anti-Semitic, thereby trying to silence Israel's defenders by implying that they are a bunch of hysterics who cry anti-Semitism even when there are no indications of this. Speaking the Obvious is engaging in the latter abuse.
8.23.2006 9:49am
magoo (mail):
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.
— Hillel, Talmud, Shabbath 31a
8.23.2006 10:27am
larry rothenberg:
see, http://www.jpost.com

Aug. 22, 2006 20:07 | Updated Aug. 23, 2006 7:22
Whose war crimes in Lebanon?
By AVI BELL


Now that a fragile cease-fire is in place in Lebanon, Israeli and Lebanese civilians are returning to their homes and some of the fog of war is lifting. This creates an opportunity to gather new evidence and reexamine the record of the many self-styled non-partisan investigations carried out by human rights organizations that pilloried Israel throughout the war for alleged "indiscriminate" bombing attacks on Lebanese civilians.

In at least one instance, the new evidence is damning. On August 16, Hassan Fattah reported in The New York Times on the return of Lebanese civilians to the village of Srifa (spelled Sreifa by the Times). The following sentences are particularly striking: "Hussein Kamaleldin, a local official ... estimated that up to two-thirds of the town's homes and buildings were demolished, leaving more than 43 people buried in the rubble. A majority of them were fighters belonging to Hizbullah and the allied Amal Party, residents said."

This contrasts sharply with the claims of Human Rights Watch (HRW) that Israel had no legitimate military targets in Srifa and killed only Lebanese civilians, a claim that has played a starring role in HRW's attacks on the state of Israel throughout the month-long war in Lebanon.

...
8.23.2006 10:43am
John1138 (mail):
Zed wrote:

By the numbers, the Party of God is doing substantially better at killing soldiers without killing civilians than [the IDF]. This excludes the evidence that [the IDF] deliberately targeted the Red Cross and an unarmed, scheduled civilian refugee convoy. Or the fact that they were using cluster munitions.


The true difference is between RESULTS and INTENTIONS. The IDF accidentally killed civilians.
If the IDF had Hezb weapons and Hezb had IDF's weapons, does anyone think Hezb would have killed "only" 1000 Israeli civilians or would they have indulged their desires to exterminate Jews and gone on a rampage of slaughter? I think we know the answer to that question since Hezb themselves tell us that they would love to kill all Jews in Israel.

And cluster munitions are not "illegal" in any way, so why single them out? I guess we need to add them to the list of weapons that are bad just because some leftist tools say so: DU, white phosphorus, etc. Are randomly targeted rockets full of shrapnel "legal," Zed?
8.23.2006 11:28am
The Drill SGT (mail):
Back to the original topic,

whether bridges and airports, etal are civilian or military topics, of course they are military.

consider the alternatives:

If your purpose is to cut suppy lines and that clearly is an legitimate objective. Then blowing up a bridge is in fact minimal force that avoids civilian losses.

The alternative is targeting all the vehicles moving across the bridge, causing huge loss of life.

Same thing for the airport. Crater a runway without loss of life and that can be repaired in hours rather than shooting down all planes coming in and out.


duh!!
8.23.2006 11:44am
CaDan (mail):

CaDan.

Please be serious. The Guns of Navarone is fiction. What on earth is the connection? Please note that MacLean's "Guns" were, in any event, guns, not dual-use facilities.

If you want WW II references, see "The Dam Busters", or "Bridge at Remagen".

Or did you just throw that nonsense out to annoy the rest of us?


The OP is basing his legal reasoning upon:


every book, movie, documentary, etc., I've ever seen on war assumes that at least bridges [how many WWII movies have a scene focused on taking a bridge?]
8.23.2006 12:07pm
JEM:
Drill SGT:

Just to emphasize the point: Hez uses unmarked vehicles, 'borrowed' Red Cross ambulances, etc. specifically in order to make it difficult for the Israelis to distinguish them from civilians.

So if, for instance, one truly wanted to make an effort to stop all Hez traffic on a road without destroying at least some choke points (e.g. bridges) on that road, one is going to be killing a lot more civilians to do so.
8.23.2006 12:10pm
Deoxy (mail):

- Who was the aggressor?

By any standard that makes sense, the the party that invades another without provocation would be defined as the aggressor.


Good, then all of us that "make sense" can agree that Iraq was the agressor. They invaded Kuwait, thn they violated (repeatedly) the terms of the ceasefire.

In the case of Israel, again, Israel is not the agressor - Israel is the defender. In fact, I think they were complete idiots for stopping when they did, as they still haven't gotten their soldiers back, which Hezbollah will claim as a win (and it mostly is).

Body counts: this is completely and unblievably inane. OF FRICKING COURSE Israel killed more civilians than Hzbollah did! Hezbollah was HIDING AMONG CIVILIANS! USING CIVILIANS AS SHIELDS! Was Israel doing that? No... so the only Israeli civilian casualties would be those inflicted PURPOSEFULLY by Hezbollah (by firing rockets into Israeli cities where there were no troops). In fact, if you bothered to look, you would easily find gleeful admissions by Hezboolah that they TARGET civilians.

Who here thinks Israel was targetting civlians? Congratulations, you're living in your own little world. Please go find a rubbr room to live in.

If Israel was TARGETTING civilians, how many do you think woudl actually be dead? Tens of thousands, EASILY. Not to mention that they dropped leaflets warning pople to leave the area before they bombed it! Yeah, THAT'S a good way to maximize your civilian casualties...

If you REALLY care about civilians, you will stop ltting this be the result. As long as the tactic of using human shields results in blaming Israel, Hezbollah will continue to use human shields, and civilians on at least one side will die.

It's really very simple: Hezbollah seeks the death of Israeli civilians, AND they are quite willing to sacrifice thir civilians to accomplish that goal. Israeli seeks the death of NO civlians on either side, but IS willing to kill civilians on the other side to protect their own. Question: which sides actions will result in more civilian casualties?

The way to minimize civilian casualties on BOTH sides is to eliminate the faction whose GOAL is civilian casualties. That some people can't see that tells me all I need to know about them.
8.23.2006 12:16pm
Philip Cassini:
I think it's instructive to note that Amnesty International no longer cares about prisoners of conscience, as, for example, people locked up in western countries for expressing criticism of Islam or Muslims. It's original mission has been perverted and it is now just another shrill leftist organization forever critical of the West (Israel and the US in particular) while often ignoring gross violations by favored parties.
8.23.2006 12:34pm
Dwight in IL (mail):
Okay, let me throw down the gauntlet here. Consider this:

Hezbollah deliberately sited command bunkers, weapon depots, launcher depots, and launchers in, near, and under civilian buildings.

Furthermore, in many cases these military facilities were built first and then the civilian apartments, schools, etc. were deliberately built over them, at Hezbollah expense, for the (sometimes explicitly stated) purpose of forcing any potential attacker to destroy the civilians in order to target the military asset.

Furthermore, Hezbollah then engaged in deliberate provocations designed to provoke an Israeli military response.

Therefore, Hezbollah is legally and morally responsible for any and all damage, deaths, and injuries resulting from targeting of those military assets.

Anyone willing to dispute either premise or the conclusion?
8.23.2006 1:18pm
William Dalasio (mail):
I'm a little curious about some of the commenters extremely self-assured claims that there has to be a maximum (if not 1-to-1) trade-off of foreign deaths for a government's own citizens. On what basis? Some sort of universal morality? I'd think it would have to be. Otherwise, I'd say we're forced to look at the government through the eyes of the liberal tradition - as the agent of its citizens. In that light, the state sacrificing one of its citizens for even a billion foreign nationals is in serious breach of its duties to its citizenry.
8.23.2006 1:39pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
CaDan. I'm not getting something here. First, the reference was to bridges. You refer to The Guns of Navarone. What is the connection?

BTW. The Germans attempted to destroy the Remagen bridge as the Americans approached, but failed. It was weakened, and by the time it fell, it was supplemented by bridges built by the tireless Combat Engineers. But for a while, it was critical.

Were the Germans trying to commit a war crime?
8.23.2006 1:53pm
Christopher M (mail):
Therefore, Hezbollah is legally and morally responsible for any and all damage, deaths, and injuries resulting from targeting of those military assets.


One of the most common -- and pernicious -- fallacies around: assuming that blame or responsibility have to sum to 100%. The fact that it's going after a bad actor doesn't somehow free Israel from its moral responsibilities.
8.23.2006 2:51pm
Christopher M (mail):
Otherwise, I'd say we're forced to look at the government through the eyes of the liberal tradition - as the agent of its citizens. In that light, the state sacrificing one of its citizens for even a billion foreign nationals is in serious breach of its duties to its citizenry.

That depends on the extremely implausible premise that the citizens of the state wouldn't collectively be willing to sacrifice one of their own to save a billion foreigners. If the government is the citizens' agent, and the citizens want it to take foreigners lives into account, then it's obliged to do so. And if the citizens don't want it to take foreigners lives into account at all, well then, it's a morally bankrupt, bigoted country and of course it will act like one.
8.23.2006 2:55pm
luagha:
Just as an aside, I really liked the way the Israelis and the IDF would drop leaflets to warn civilians (and Hezbollah) where the bombing was going to be.

It's kind of like the cable guy - you have to take the day off work and stay home and be annoyed and wait for your appointment which might or might not come at his convenience. Except in this case you have to leave your house and you're deliberately trying to miss the appointment. The IDF would even telephone apartments to confirm.. what cable company has ever shown that commitment to customer service?

(Just to be clear, I think the IDF was absurdly generous and kind, even though saying that they're better than an american cable TV company is kind of damning with faint praise. Even if no such warning actions were taken, it would still be militarily and morally acceptable.)
8.23.2006 3:14pm
SG:
Christopher M:


That depends on the extremely implausible premise that the citizens of the state wouldn't collectively be willing to sacrifice one of their own to save a billion foreigners.



Fair enough. I volunteer you as the human scarifice.
8.23.2006 3:21pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I actually agree with Christopher M., but there's quite a difference between saying a country is immoral if it won't sacrifice one of its own in exchange for a billion others, and saying its immoral if it won't sacrifice 1 of its own for several civilians on the other side when fighting a war brought about by the aggression of the other side. A country that insisted on a 1 to 1 ratio in such a situation would be suicidal, and the government would be derelict in its duty to protect its citizens.
8.23.2006 3:39pm
William Dalasio (mail):
SG,

Precisely my point. I'd say it is extremely dubious to argue that the citizenry of any country could make the claim on the life of their fellow citizens in that manner. Agents are assigned not to affect all good things, but for a specific purpose. In the case of governments, the securing of their citizens' rights and protections. This would leave the government the option of defending its citizens (leaving the protection of foreign citizens to their agents) or forgoing its basic responsibility. Christopher M's claim amounts to allocating the agent state a level of authority that can only be defined as essentially totalitarian. If governments are instituted on behalf of their citizens' rights, then the interests of others can only be left to the agents of others. His accusations of bigotry really can't be supported in basis of fact.
8.23.2006 3:47pm
Christopher M (mail):
SG --

If I ever have the opportunity to save a billion people by sacrificing myself, you can sign me up.

William --

That really makes very little sense. As a citizen, if I'm making the government my agent for purposes of "securing [my] rights and protections," surely I am entitled to define the scope of that agency by saying "but only through morally acceptable means." That sort of thing happens all the time, and is in fact the typical agency relationship, not the exception. I might make, say, a money manager my agent for the purpose of increasing my personal wealth, but that doesn't mean I want him to break into widows' houses and steal the money from under their mattresses in order to do so.
8.23.2006 4:10pm
JEM:
Christopher M:

Yes, there's a calculation involved. Harry Truman made it once: a six-figure number of American, British, and Australian troops dead and a longer, more expensive war that would leave the Russians time to establish a sphere of influence in the Pacific. Or obliterate a couple Japanese cities as an object lesson in overwhelming power in order to finally bring the Japanese military dictatorship down.

In my opinion he made the correct decision.

Now, on August 1 1945 the Japanese military had already largely been wiped out, their industrial capacity was nil, and while the military government was unwilling to capitulate the Japanese nation represented for the foreseeable future little threat to the US.

By present "civilian life is sacred" standards would you argue that we simply should have packed up and gone home at that point?
8.23.2006 4:12pm
Vovan:
A. Zarkov


Today see same kind of European hypocrisy-- one standard for Israel and another for everyone else. While Russia commits atrocities in Chechnya, the focus of Europe and the western media in general is on Israel who does not commit atrocities against Muslims.


Zachem vrat? Kto interview s Basaevym bral v proshlom godu, a?
8.23.2006 4:18pm
Christopher M (mail):
So far I have yet to see anyone grapple with the fact that in the six years preceding the latest conflict, by Israel's own count, Hezbollah's attacks killed well under twenty Israeli civilians and soldiers combined. Israelis killed more Israelis over that time period than did Hezbollah.
8.23.2006 4:24pm
Christopher M (mail):
JEM -- I'm not going to take a position on Truman's use of the bombs, because I haven't studied the relevant history closely enough to have a strong opinion. If you want to explain why you think it was necessary to kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in a country that "represented for the foreseeable future little threat to the US," I'll tell you whether or not I agree with your rationale.
8.23.2006 4:31pm
SG:
Christopher M:


If I ever have the opportunity to save a billion people by sacrificing myself, you can sign me up.


I respect that (sincerely, no snark). Now how about I volunteer your child?

War is politics by other means. If you want to compare the morality of the two sides, you first have to assess their political goals.

Hezb'allah been pretty clear about their goals: primarily the destrucion of Israel, secondarily the killing of Jews.

Israel's goal has been to not be at war with Lebanon. (I'm intentionaly leaving out discussion of Palestine/Occupied Territories. The goal there is less clear).

The fact that Hezb'allah has been laregly unsuccesful in meeting their goals does not inprove their moral standing.
8.23.2006 4:33pm
Christopher M (mail):
Now how about I volunteer your child?

Well, the question is a little unclear -- society as a whole, not just you, should presumably be making the allocation of risk, and there's no good reason to target my child specifically. But I would support a lottery in which my child had an equal chance of being the sacrificial lamb as every other American.

To face your question more head-on: If, for some reason, allowing my specific child to die was the only way for the government to save the lives of one billion foreigners, well, I would be as sad as anyone who loses a child, and I'm sure I'd resent whatever had created such bizarre circumstances, but I certainly think it would be the right thing for the government to do.
8.23.2006 4:58pm
SG:
I think the analogy has run its course, so I want to back out from it.

The question at play is does a government have an obligation to sacrifice its own citizens for the sake of some other country's citizens. Now you would support your government doing that. I can understand that and certainly there are moral schools of thought that would support you. You're some kind of transnational utilitarian, to coin a term.

On the other, I believe that my government's job is primarily to look out for the well being of its citizens. I wouldn't want it to needlessly cause harm to citizens of other countries, but when there's a choice to be made, the well-being of my fellow citizens should take precedence over that of any other country. It's their government that is responsible for seeing to those other folks' well-being. This is how international relations in the western world has worked since the Treaty of Westphalia.

Now, perhaps the world would be a better place if your rules were followed ("Imagine there's no countries; it's easy if you try"). But I don't believe we live in that world (yet). Since I believe that other nations are looking out for their own best interests, it would foolish and even immoral for my nation to not put its own interests first. It's inherently an adverserial system, to decline to be your own advocate puts you at a needless disadvantage.
8.23.2006 5:13pm
Christopher M (mail):
Just to clarify, I don't think that governments should always value the wellbeing of foreigners equally with that of its citizens. First, I'm not generally anything approaching a pure utilitarian, and second, there are lots of good, pragmatic reasons for governments to prioritize their own citizens' interests. (Or, in some cases -- like, say, punishing murder -- the interests of those within the government's jurisdiction, whether citizens or not.)

My argument here is much more limited: (1) When deciding on foreign policy, including warmaking, the lives and wellbeing of foreign civilians do count, even if not equally with domestic citizens. (2) The fact that a country is responding to attacks by a bad actor doesn't free the country to ignore moral constraints on its response by placing responsibility for the bad consequences on the bad actor who provoked the attack.
8.23.2006 6:11pm
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
Obviously my earlier point was not credited in this discussion.

Israel either chooses to respect the international agreements to which it is signatory, or it does not. Hezbollah may contravene any number of conventions but they have not signed any conventions. Whether you regard this as fair or not, it is the price required to earn the status of a democratic nation that respects human rights.

Lebanese civilians, on the other hand, are protected by many treaties - there can be little doubt that many of these have been violated by Israeli actions. Amnesty's report details the types of target struck by the Israeli military and it is very hard to deny that it was done with the deliberate intention of punishing the Lebanese people as a whole. A passing knowledge of history will help you understand why this tactic is immoral.

I'm aware that many of the commenters on this blog frequently denounce international treaties, but I must say this:

None of the western nations, not Israel, the US, the UK, France, Germany, none of us will be safer if these norms are thrown out.

Creative fantisising about a reformed UN where the neo-conservative cause is embraced by the international community will not bring us a safer world, no matter how hard you wish for it. It will leave us with a world where power is the final measure of justice, and power may not always reside with our representatives.

Need an example? I suggest the nations we've invaded recently.
8.23.2006 6:19pm
Dwight in IL (mail):
My argument here is much more limited: (1) When deciding on foreign policy, including warmaking, the lives and wellbeing of foreign civilians do count, even if not equally with domestic citizens.

Sure, granted. But "not equally" is an important consideration. Also, we should add "not to such a degree as to require defeat in war." Whether a nation should go to war is one question, but once fighting a war, civilian collateral damage cannot be used to compel a nation to surrender to its enemy. Especially if civilians are used as a callous strategy by the enemy. The enemy's moral depravity does NOT require you to capitulate to them.

(2) The fact that a country is responding to attacks by a bad actor doesn't free the country to ignore moral constraints on its response by placing responsibility for the bad consequences on the bad actor who provoked the attack.

Yes, it does, to the extent that the responsibility is justly placed on the bad actor. I concede your earlier point about responsibility not being binary. My bad actions do not absolve you of all moral concerns. But they do absolve you of some moral concerns. If I have set up a situation where you can only achieve a necessary and moral objective by means which will also kill innocents, then I bear full moral responsibility (assuming that you choose the most casualty-limiting effective means).

If you do not accept this principle then you are in fact saying that no military or police action is possible against an aggressor who uses human shields. You have effectively ruled out everything from SWAT teams engaging terrorists to full-scale defensive warfare---as long as the other side makes sure that you must kill innocents to achieve necessary objectives.

Let me amend my challenge to reflect Christopher M's correct observation about responsibility:

If Hezbollah's use of civilians to protect its military assets ensure that any reasonable attack on those assets results in killing civilians or damaging civilian property, and if Israel chooses the most proportionate effective means of attacking those assets, then Hezbollah bears full responsiblity for deaths or damage resulting from those attacks.

Can you agree to that?

If not, explain how this is any thing else than carte blanche to bad actors willing to engage in sufficiently depraved actions.
8.23.2006 6:43pm
Dwight in IL (mail):
Israel either chooses to respect the international agreements to which it is signatory, or it does not.

Which international agreements has Israel failed to respect in this recent campaign? (This is a serious question.)

Hezbollah may contravene any number of conventions but they have not signed any conventions. Whether you regard this as fair or not, it is the price required to earn the status of a democratic nation that respects human rights.

True enough. Would you now please uncategorically condemn Hezbollah for their failure to do this? And would you please publically agree that whatever Israel's failings, it is therefore in a completely different moral category from Hezbollah because of this precise point?

Lebanese civilians, on the other hand, are protected by many treaties - there can be little doubt that many of these have been violated by Israeli actions.

Which precise treaties, to which Israel is a signatory, have been violated? Also, is it not true that if a sovereign nation is unable or unwilling to stop non-state actors within it from committing acts of war against foreign powers, that failure is itself an act of war permitting retaliation?

Amnesty's report details the types of target struck by the Israeli military and it is very hard to deny that it was done with the deliberate intention of punishing the Lebanese people as a whole. A passing knowledge of history will help you understand why this tactic is immoral.

What precise targets do you make this claim about? Clearly we can rule out: bridges, weapons, command, and logistics bunkers (whether beneath apartment buildings or not), troop concentrations, vehicles reasonably suspected of being involved in enemy logistics, radar installations providing intelligence to the enemy, broadcast facilities being used for enemy propaganda, logistic centers such as ports and airports, fuel depots, and enemy leadership targets. All of those are traditional strategic military targets.

So which targets did Israel hit that were not valid military targets?
8.23.2006 7:09pm
SG:
Flying Rodent:

The norms you refer to have already been thrown out. I'm sure you noticed when those civilian aircraft were flown into two office buildings in NYC. Or perhaps you saw the civilians being beheaded?

Now I agree that we are less safe as a result. But it wasn't our decision to disregard western norms of civilized conduct.

Of course Israel must be bound by the convenants she has signed. I don't have enough knowledge to say that she has or hasn't, but to the extent that she hasn't then she deserves criticism. And to the extent that she has violated agreements, she should withdraw from them because to date her actions have not only been justified they've been overly restrained.

The Lebanese are either unwilling or unable to stop Hezb'allah from launching attacks on Israel (who Lebanon is still legally at war with). While Israel has a strategic interest in the Lebanese well-being, as long as the Lebanese are passive allies to Hezb'allah, Israel holds no moral interest in their well-being.

And to pre-empt the argument: might doesn't make right, but it does no good to hold the moral high ground just to be buried in it.
8.23.2006 7:21pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
OK, Christopher M, let me grapple with the fact (if it is, indeed, a fact) that in 6 years Hezbollah has killed fewer than 20 Israelis. (Their season average is up a little in 2006, eh?)

My bottom line is: no more Jews killed for the mere offense of being Jews. Zero, none, nada, not any. Had enough.

You got a beef with Jews? Solve it without killing them, or, if I have anything to say about it, what happens, happens.

Now, you tell me. How many dead Jews are you putting on the table at the start of negotiations?
8.23.2006 7:50pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Not enough dead Jews?

So the Palis are incompetent. It's not for lack of trying. As my sainted mother used to say, "It's the thought that counts, dear."

Would Christopher M feel better if the Israeli security apparatus was less effective? Would that give the Israelis more moral mojo?

How many dead Jews do folks want to see before they admit Israel has a problem?

And if the number ramps up, will see such as Christopher M moving the goalposts? (You bet your sweet Aunt Fanny you will.)
8.23.2006 9:51pm
Christopher M (mail):
Harry: I don't know how to answer your question, except to say that a few dead people, Jews or not, doesn't warrant a thousand or so dead people, Jews or not, in my book.

Richard: Your suggestion that I want to see "dead Jews" is too disgusting for me to answer rationally.
8.24.2006 1:36am
Harry Eagar (mail):
In fact, you do want to see dead Jews. There aren't a hell of a lot of choices on the table. I choose the no-dead-Jews option, you choose the dead-Jews option.

It only remains to see how many dead Jews you are willing to accept.
8.24.2006 2:37am
Christopher M (mail):
Harry: I guess you're saying that, for whatever reasons, you value Jewish life above non-Jewish life? I could be misunderstanding, but you're being polemical and I don't know how else to interpret what you're saying. I certainly reject that, so yes, if the only other option is "lots more dead non-Jewish people," then I'll certainly take the "dead Jewish people" option. Of course the same is true of any other subcategory of people.
8.24.2006 3:12am
Tom Grey (Liberty Dad - Slovakia) (mail) (www):
Thank you for mentioning that Israel and Lebanon are still "legally" at war -- no peace agreement. Lebanon, not Hezbollah.

I suspect there won't be real peace until, unless, an Arab country surrenders. SURRENDER -- the way WW II ended. And even the Vietnam war (after S. Vietnam surrendered, and the anti-war supported N. Viet commies murdered 600 000).

HRW and Amnesty are part of the Bush-hate, Jew-hate, success hate Left which hates capitalism. Both have double standards and hypocrisy; I think neither calls Darfur a "genocide" -- which would require UN action.

They want the "force of law" -- without any force. Unreal Perfection.
8.24.2006 5:32am
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
Dwight in IL:

I'm glad you asked those questions. I'll address your points one at a time:

1) Israel is a signatory of the Geneva Conventions and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

The Geneva Convention binds signatories to distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare the civilian population and civilian property. Neither the civilian population as a whole nor individual civilians may be attacked.

2) I utterly condemn Hezbollah for their war crimes of attacking civilians and civilian property.

3) The Lebanese do indeed have a duty to prevent their territory from being used to launch terrorist attacks. The fact that they are unable to do so does not give other nations carte blanche to ignore their international commitments in order to prevent this.

4) You asked which non-military targets were attacked. If you'd read the report, you'd know Israel destroyed bridges in areas of "no strategic importance", water pumping stations, water and sewage treatment plants, supermarkets and petrol stations, despite the fact that Israel is prohibited from striking civilian infrastructure. It notes that this strongly suggests a broader military strategy, not accidental damage resulting from the targeting of terrorist installations.

It also reports that Israeli artillery and warplanes destroyed entire civilian neighbourhoods and villages. I know you'll respond that this is because Hezbollah were present, but international law requires a proportionality test - it is not acceptable to flatten a city block in order to kill two terrorists.

As for SG, you might have noticed that 9/11 is not the only atrocity that has taken place in recent years. If you'd like to throw out all those annoying conventions, we can certainly do that, but the result will not be that "we are less safe".

The result of ditching international law will be absolute anarchy and a free hand for autocratic regimes to repress their people and attack sovereign nations. If you're about to quip "hey, what's new?", you have not grasped the implications.

I hope this clears up the apparent confusion amongst some bloggers, who appear to believe that the existence of doctored or staged photos somehow disproves the fact that Israel and Hezbollah have committed war crimes in the recent hostilities.

Now, what are we going to do about it?
8.24.2006 6:01am
Sean Healy (mail):
Christopher M,
I grappled with your challenge before you even made it:

This war wasn't about numbers, it was about sovereignty. The arguments about who killed a bigger proportion of civilians or about a proportional response to limited Hizballah aggression miss the larger point about the fatal damage to Israel's sovereignty were those attacks to go without retaliation. It was also about forcing the issue of Lebanese sovereignty (such as it is) into the discussion. When Israelis talk about this war as part of an existential threat, it's not because Hizballah is in a position to kill all or most of them, but because Hizballah's actions test the limits of sovereignty and the principles of self-defense that uphold it. Also, the point of going to war against your enemy is to destroy his capability to attack you in the first place; in this respect, Israel failed but did nothing immoral or illegal in its efforts.
8.24.2006 6:10am
Christopher M (mail):
Sean --

I saw that, but I didn't understand it. You think that the abstract principle of "sovereignty" is worth killing a thousand people over, even if the people challenging the sovereignty aren't really a threat? What if some Canadians insist on standing at the U.S. border and doing the hokey-pokey, sticking various body parts into the U.S., even after the U.S. tells them to stop? How many Canadians is it okay to kill in order to preserve our "sovereignty"?
8.24.2006 10:24am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Christopher. You're not serious. Sovereignty may be intangible, but if a country loses it, the country's people may rapidly become dead, a fate which seems to get your attention--depending on which people become dead.
All countries have an army, somebody said, theirs or another's.
The question remains: If Israel security forces were less effective and the terrorists were just as active and competent, more Israelis would die. Would that give the Israelis more justification for fighting?
The fact is, the terrorists keep trying and keep trying. Passive defense means some of your people get killed every year forever, until, because you are accomplishing nothing regarding the terrorbosses, they put together the Big One and everybody dies.
The Israelis would just as soon not have that happen to them. Your insistence that it should is not going to get a lot of sympathy, I bet.

BTW, I didn't say you wanted more dead Jews. That is another deliberate misstatement of others' points.
What I said was that no number of dead Jews would, in your mind, justify any aggressive action by Israel. You may imply that, at some point, the number would be high enough. But that's a lie. For you, no number is high enough. Hence, you will move the goalposts.
8.24.2006 11:29am
SG:
Flying Rodent:

Please give me an example where it has been of benefit to abide by the laws of war in, say, the last 50 years.

I don't argue that all international agreements should be scrapped, that's a straw man. What I will argue is that international agreements are only as meaningful as the parties that agree to them and in the case of the laws of war, the parties that would abide by them are not parties that we would conceivably go to war with. Because they are nations that would abide by written agreements without the necessity of force, force will not be necessary.

So fundamentally we're left with with a set of (well-intentioned) principles that only one side adheres to. I will also argue that the reason that the other side does not adhere to these agreements is that they perceive advantage in not doing so. That advantage is multiplied when their opponent does adhere to the laws of war. The end result is that the law-abiding nations suffer and law-rejecting groups/nations are given partial immunity.

Projecting forward, I believe that this means that citizenry of a law-abiding nation will suffer disproprotionally, until the cost becomes so great that the laws of war are rejected and we see slaughter on an unprecedented scale. It's in the nature of people (and therefore democratic nations) to overreact once they do react.

So to the extent you're arguing that unilaterally abiding by the laws of war makes us (or them, for that matter) safer, I reject that assertion.
8.24.2006 1:13pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Right, Christopher. I give Jews a special place because they have enemies that no other ethnic/religious group has.

When the choice is between exterminating Jews and exterminating the exterminators of Jews, I line up for the Jews. Call me a sentimentalist. My father signed up in the same mission 66 years ago. It's not finished.

I take the point of the distinction Richard just made, but it means nothing to me. Don't kill Jews, and I won't be tempted to kill you. How hard is that?
8.24.2006 4:01pm
TheProudDuck (www):
I love how Amnesty faults Israel for destroying bridges in areas lacking "strategic importance."

So Amnesty now has a General Staff in-house, qualified to pass judgment on military strategy?
8.24.2006 5:58pm
Aguest (mail):
Commenterlein (mail):
I would argue that weighting one innocent civilian life more than a second one just because the first happens to be part of your tribe is what's "scrupulously amoral".

[bling] Straw argument. This commenter has no clue about morality, amorality, immorality. Probably hasn't been in a curch or synagogue or mosque (oops, that woldn;t help) since birth.

Israelis weigh innocent lives equally and tried the best they could to avoid civilian casualties. The beastly terrorists slice people's heads off deliberately with steak knives and base themselves among civilians.

Get a brain, sir, will you?
8.24.2006 11:20pm
tommy higbee (mail):
Amazing how people will dance all around the real issue to try to draw an equivalence between deliberate targeting of civilians by terrorists, and a measured military response with unfortunate collateral damage.

Yes, there are some international conventions about proper targets of war. These are called the Laws of Armed Conflict, and I imagine every member of the military gets a refresher every year or two in them.

Unacceptable targets include civilians, medics, hospitals, clinics, churches, mosques, temples, and ambulances. None of these can be targeted by the military.

However, protected persons lose their protected status if they take part in the conflict, and protected places lose their protected status if they're used for the conflict. So destroying a church or mosque is a war crime. But if that church or mosque is used as a fort or armory, it's no longer protected, and becomes a fair target. An ambulance is protected. But if people start popping up out of ambulaces and firing RPG's, they become fair targets. A civilian apartment building is protected. But if missiles are being launched from the roof of a civilian apartment complex, it becomes a fair target.

It just so happens that Israel destroyed at least one mosque and at least one hospital, as well as houses and apartment complexes. But arms and bombs were stored in the mosque, so it became a fair target. And the hospital had been taken over by Hezbollah, so it became a fair target. And there's abundant evidence that Hezbollah fired rockets at Israel from residential neighborhoods, thereby making the houses and apartment complexes also fair targets.

These tactics are what caused the high civilian death toll in Lebanon. If Hezbollah launches rockets beside an apartment building, and the Israeli response destroys the building, causing loss of human life, it's simple to figure out who is to blame for the civilian deaths. Just ask the one question: why did Hezbollah launch its attacks from civilian sites?

The only real way Israel had to prevent civilian deaths was to let themselves be attacked, and not try to fight back.
8.25.2006 1:35am
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
Tommy,

What you say is entirely correct - if Hezbollah are using the minaret of a mosque to fire RPG rounds at Israeli troops, Israel is within its rights to destroy the minaret.

It is not permitted to destroy entire city blocks on the off chance that they may contain terrorists, because of the likelihood that many civilians will be killed. Israel cannot use such justifications for the destruction of water pumping stations and filtration plants, petrol stations and supermarkets. These are definitively civilian installations.

Warning civilians of impending attacks is not sufficient - it is the combatants that must prevent civilian deaths, it is not up to non-combatants to dodge bullets and bombs.

By the standard you are setting you would excuse the destruction of the entirety of southern Lebanon. The question boils down to this point - you may believe that Israel is justified in mass destruction of civilian infrastructure. The law does not.

SG,

You have hit the nail on the head. There is no need to provide examples of 'clean' wars - either Israel is in violation of its treaty commitments, or it is not. Whether you believe international law is fair or not is utterly irrelevant. The fact that Hezbollah has committed war crimes does not make this any less true.

So why the attacks on Amnesty? Amnesty is not interested in which side began hostilities or whose cause is more just. Its remit here is to monitor conflicts and alert the international community to human rights violations. It has done just that in this report, and no amount of complaining about it will invalidate its conclusions.

The fact that the right of the blogosphere has attacked them relentlessly for doing so says far more about its priorities than it does about Amnesty.
8.25.2006 4:05am
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
Flying Rodent-

Are you saying that Israel destroyed "entire city blocks on the off chance that they may contain terrorists"?

If so, back it up, or we will conclude that this is just an anti-Israel cheap shot by someone looking to libel the State of Israel in a public forum.

Yes, "water pumping stations and filtration plants, petrol stations and supermarkets" are civilian installations. Unless they are used by the enemy's military, at which time they become legally fair targets. We've been through all this already.
8.25.2006 6:22am
SG:
Flying Rodent:

You ask


So why the attacks on Amnesty?


The people attacking Amnesty want to see the Geneva Conventions upheld and war be "civilized". But when interational law is used as bludgeon against those who are in the right, then international law loses credibility to the detriment of all. Their larger point is really the same argument you've made.

I on the other hand believe the only war crime is to lose (ask Curtis LeMay). I think the whole concept that war can be civilized is nonsense (ask William Sherman). And I think the notion that civilians cam live in a war zone free from risk is idiotic (ask the Lebanese). So the sooner that groups like Amnesty International reach their unintended consequence of stripping the laws of war of their moral legitimacy, the better.
8.25.2006 10:04am
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
Jonathan, the minaret/city block comparison is an example to illustrate the required proportionality test for gauging legality of military operations.

If the Israeli Air Force has evidence that the entirely civilian targets struck were festooned with Hezbollah terrorists, let it present that evidence. If evidence that water pumping stations and supermarkets, for instance, were being used to fire missiles, let us see those images.

My guess is that they do not exist, because Hezbollah does not have hundreds of thousands of fighters, and all the evidence points to the 4000 or so fighters they do have digging into bunkers. Logically, if they had not done so, they would have been utterly destroyed.

SG, I'm assuming you're being deliberately obtuse, so I'll say this one last time.

Amnesty's report accuses Israel of war crimes and violations of its treaty obligations. It then details the allegations and backs it up with instances of destroyed civilian infrastructure, attacks on areas containing concentrations of civilians and quotes from IDF personnel.

Once more, Israel is obliged to respect the treaties it has signed. It is not relevant whether you regard these treaties as nonsense, nor do the actions of Hezbollah have any relevance to Israel's responsibilities.

By way of example, trying to convince the police that it should not be a crime to smoke marijuana will not save you from prosecution if you are caught in possession.

If Israel believes that adherence to its obligations are restricting its ability to combat its enemies, it is welcome to withdraw from these agreements, but it cannot complain if it is caught violating them while it remains signatory.

Amnesty does not take the political justifications for war into account, it documents human rights violations, regardless of the perpetrator. The Amnesty report is factual, and the commenters on this page are attacking it using invalid arguments because they do not like its conclusions.

This is counterproductive - the destruction of Dresden during World War II was undoubtedly a war crime, but it did not render the Allied cause less just.

Traducing the reputation of organisations like Amnesty does nothing to protect democracies from attack, but removing its moral authority would certainly please authoritarian regimes from Tehran to Pyongyang.
8.25.2006 3:46pm
SG:
Flying Rodent:

You're not arguing with me, you're largely reiterating what I've said.

With one exception:

Please explain how Amnesty International's moral authority has helped the people of Tehran or North Korea?
8.25.2006 4:15pm
Flying Rodent (mail) (www):
SG, if Amnesty's reports are tainted by anti-Israeli bias then all of their reports must be considered suspect. I don't know about the CIA's human rights report, since I imagine they can collate their own data, but much of the content of the UK foreign office's annual HR report is based on information obtained by AI and HRW.

No matter what some have said, Britain conducts its foreign policy in light of the contents of this report. Amnesty does not decide British foreign policy, but decisions regarding authoritarian states such as Cuba are made while taking their HR offences into account. I imagine other states do likewise.

Discrediting Amnesty would serve to discredit their reports on the execution of homosexuals in Iran, or the repression of democracy in Myanmar, or the torture of dissidents in the 'Stans of central Asia.

Right-wingers have repeatedly attempted to smear Amnesty as anti-American, anti-semitic or, to quote the author of this post, "part of the international far left". They do this because some of AIs conclusions conflict with the narrative they want to project.

Amnesty, like the Vatican, may have no divisions at its command, but it is an invaluable instrument of soft power for democratic reform. The fact that the west cannot order AI to ignore issues it considers inconvenient is a benefit to the democracies of the world, not an infringement.
8.25.2006 5:07pm
RobD (mail) (www):
I completely agree with the post and basically said the same thing on my blog


But the gripper is punishment AI threatens: they are going to tell the UN that both sides didn't obey the rules of war. Since when did war have rules? I've said before both sides are to blame, both sides purposely attacked civilian structures. For Hezbollah it was a means of terror and intimidations. For Isreal it was a means of issolating your enemy (which is classic tactics, going back to Sun Tzu).
Anyway. If AI wasn't so hateful of the West and if the UN wasn't so feable and anemic, this would be funny. Instead, history will repeat itself, and soon, I bet.
8.25.2006 7:31pm
JonathanInTelAviv (mail):
if Amnesty's reports are tainted by anti-Israeli bias then all of their reports must be considered suspect
-Flying Rodent

No, only their reports related to Israel. And Hezballah. Of course, we'd know better about that one if they had gotten around to releasing it. But no, it's three days and counting since the report on Israel was released, but still no sign of the Hezballah report. This despite the fact that Israel during the war allowed full access to all areas under attack, and had completely undamaged communications facilities which AI agents could have used to relay their reports. So why the delay?

Nevertheless, the AI report is worth checking out. In one section, "Roads and bridges," we find the following:

"200,000 square metres of road completely destroyed"

Let's look at this. Let's say roads average 15 meters in width. That means Israel completely destroyed about 13,000 meters of road. The horror! The horror! That's, that's, 8 miles!?!? And by "completely destroyed" they mean:

...more often than not the craters did not close the road, as they were to the side rather than in the middle of the road. Travel by car remained possible by simply driving around the craters, although it impeded trucks carrying supplies and aid.

How impeded?

Damage to roads and bridges by bombardment necessitated taking lengthy detours along minor roads or dirt tracks, through which big trucks can only pass with difficulty

AI also complains how Israel destroyed communications infrastructure (no possible military use there, huh?), electric power facilities (same thing), roads and bridges to Syria (where the missiles came from), etc.


Discrediting Amnesty would serve to discredit their reports on the execution of homosexuals in Iran, or the repression of democracy in Myanmar, or the torture of dissidents in the 'Stans of central Asia.
-Flying Rodent

But if we are searching for truth we can't shy away from it just because the consequences are not to our liking.

You have to understand Israel's position. We have seen Reuters and major news outlets publish doctored photos and bullshit reports that harmed Israel's image. Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Hezballah using civilians for cover, none at all, despite reports from Lebanon that they did just that. And the UN itself allowed Hezballah to build military installations throughout Lebanon, as well as to bring in thousands of missiles.
8.25.2006 7:38pm