lauantaina, heinäkuuta 29, 2006

More on Israel - Hezbollah war

Read this. I couldn't say things better myself. The fact of the matter is that Hezbollah is trying to destroy Israel, they may not be capable of doing that, but it doesn't stop them from trying.

If one wants to know more about the media campaign Hezbollah is waging, it is also useful to read this. And remember that Hezbollah fighters hide behind civilians - something that is considered a war crime and against the Geneva convention. Where is the international pressure to make Hezbollah stop doing that? Or hiding behind UN forces?

One may disagree with the strategy that Israel has chosen, if one thinks that the offensive cannot fulfill the hoped for results. But then one should also have a better idea in mind. I agree that the way the war is waged is not an ideal solution, it may turn out to be a bad solution to the problem of an enemy bombing the country with thousands of rockets and kidnapping soldiers, but I honestly do not know of a better one. I wish I did, though.

And those of you who wonder about the small number of casualties in Israeli side should know that they have had a long time to learn how to make sure every possible victim of a bombing or rocket strike survives. The theory is to get every patient to a hospital and under a surgeon's knife within 20 minutes of being wounded. Currently more than a thousand civilians in Israel have been wounded in the rocket strikes. In any other country, the number of dead would certainly be counted in the hundreds, not in dozens.

I spoke with an old fire department chief in California a little while ago (before the current crisis) and he said there's no way e.g. US rescue operations can do as good a job and same has to be said about Finland and other western countries.

I've heard some people complain that the Israel response has been too much, because so many more civilians in Lebanon have died than in Israel. If Israel had a worse medical response system and more Israel civilians had died, would the response then have been of the right size? Surely, the right response cannot be dependent on such things.

9 kommenttia:

Anonyymi kirjoitti...

Täällä joku onkin kirjoittanut samasta aiheesta.

Mikko Sandt kirjoitti...

But then one should also have a better idea in mind.

This is so true. It's always a constant flow of criticism without any ideas on how to solve the crisis (other than "stop firing!").

Sieg Heil:

Anonyymi kirjoitti...

I might be wrong, but I don't think there has been a single (succesful) guerilla campaing where the guerillas didn't hide among civilians sympathetic to them. Also based on that kind of rhetoric, even French resistance during WW II would've been just a bunch of war criminals :-) As much as I try, I can't remember any international calls to make them stop hiding behind French civilians (many of which lost their lives because of the resulting Nazi crackdowns), funny thing ;-)

And just in case there are no mistakes, I don't like Hesbollah's goals, and neither am I trying to say that French revolution operated as Hesbollah does, but (sad) fact is that if we condemn Hesbollah just on the grounds that they hide behind civilians we basically need to condemn any guerilla force that has existed. There are a lot of other grounds to condemn Hezbollah on, so sticking to those might be a good idea ;-)

What comes to "don't criticize unless you have better idea"-point, I unfortunately can't agree, since it's used way too often as a very convenient excuse in trying to silence the dissidents one doesn't like. Of course it is best if one can in addition of criticizing the current situation give a positive suggestion as of how to correct the situation, but in many ocassions the sheer pressure of public outrage on some particularly unsuccesful policy is a positive force in itself, since it forces the powers that be to think also of the more politically inconvenient alternatives, which might be on the long run more beneficial to all, not just be satisfied on doing what is easiest on the short run (and which in many cases couses way more damage in long run).

Current situation is a perfect example of this. Although it might appeal to voters and hence be easier for politicians on the short run, the current cycle of retribution, revenge and collective punishments on both sides has basically no chance of solving the situation, unless either side resorts to extreme measures, such as using nukes or other very effective WMDs. On the other hand, trying to find a political solution can be very costly for the politician who tries it (the last one got murdered for trying it by his own people iirc), but on the long run it's the only way to solve this mess. Hence moral outrage and "This is plain wrong!" -attitude even without any clear cut alternative recipes for success might be necessary to get out of the deadlock.


Mikko Särelä kirjoitti...

Krab, the stab at hiding among civilians was mostly a stab at those who always complain of some other countries, groups not abiding to the Geneva convention, or what not. Somehow people tend to use different moral rules for certain countries and for others.

And what comes to the just complaining without having another solution in mind, I do stick with my opinion. One does not need to have a pre-thought solution that is better than the one critizised, but in my opinion one should have an idea where such a solution can be found.

For example, just saying that Israel is now doing wrong is a bad thing, in my opinion, because one should show that there are better ways. Now the protesters mostly seem to push for a situation, where Hezbollah pours hundreds of rockets into Israel and Israel doing nothing to protect its people. It is utterly disgusting that I have not heard one single good idea from people who are opposed to the current offensive.

Anonyymi kirjoitti...

"It is utterly disgusting that I have not heard one single good idea from people who are opposed to the current offensive"

Apparently then you haven't read anything of what I've writen here or do you think political solution for the current situation is not a good idea?

As what comes to your first comment, I do think we should be able to expect different moral standards from Israel compared to Hesbollah, especially when they try so hard to convince us that they are the good, moral guys just defending themselves and Hesbollah are the evil monsters. After that saying that they should be judged with same moral standards as Hesbollah sounds kinda grotesque.

As for protesters, I never got the impression they demand Israel just to sit there and absorb the punishment doing nothing, instead they seem just to hope that Israel would stop bombing UN bases and killing Lebanese civilians in much larger amouts than Hesbollah has been killing Israeli civilians and would instead return back to the political process which was unfortunately aborted after Oslo treaty, an idead on which I wholeheartedly agree.


Anonyymi kirjoitti...

"I do think we should be able to expect different moral standards from Israel compared to Hesbollah"

Then you are a moral subjectivist. I think that what is moral for one is moral for all, and universal moral rules exists.

"especially when they try so hard to convince us that they are the good, moral guys just defending themselves and Hesbollah are the evil monsters. After that saying that they should be judged with same moral standards as Hesbollah sounds kinda grotesque."

Doesn't mean that different moral standards should apply. We can just say that Israelis are more evil, or maybe hypocrites.

Mikko Särelä kirjoitti...

Krab, I think we should hold Hezbollah to same moral standards as we should Israel. And we should be more outraged about Hezbollah purposefully trying to kill civilians than Israel sometimes failing to not kill civilians when they are trying to stop people from raining rockets to their country.

As for your proposal of going back to the peace treaty negotiation: Israel has done all that was ever required of them where Lebanon is considered. They widthrew from the occupied territories and the local groups were supposed to give up their weapons. All others did, except Hezbollah. Do you really think we should reward Hezbollah by giving them more, because they will not give up violence? Do you have any idea what kind of message that sends to everybody in the region with an interest for power?

You seem to believe that political solution at the moment is possible and that such a solution could come without a price tag that will cause much, much more problems later on. You are right, I do not believe that political solution at the moment is possible. Or to put things in another way, the only possible political solution is one that actually disarms Hezbollah - and that will not happen without violence.

And as for the protesters, they say that Israel should not kill innocent civilians. How do you propose to fight Hezbollah fighers that hide behind civilians without killing any civilians? If you don't know of an answer (or if they don't) they ARE suggesting that Israel should just take the pounding and do nothing.

And as I asked before: If Israel had a worse trauma team system and instead of 20 dead civilians they would have 200 or 800, would it then be okay for Israel to have killed a similar amount of Lebanese civilians? I find such 'proportionate' arguments to silly at best.

We do not live in a fantasy land, where clean and nice solutions exist for all solutions - or at least if they do exist, we still haven't been able to figure them out. Instead, we need to do with the best solutions we do have. And from what I know about warfare, symmetrical and asymmetrical, about power hungry groups and politics, I don't honestly see a better solution than the one Israel is currently pursuing. And I definitely do not see the protesters suggesting anything remotely useful.

Israel's demands of the return of their soldier and end of rockets are reasonable demands for a cease fire. Or do you think they should go for a cease fire that would allow Hezbollah to continue raining rockets and to have time to breath and to restock from Syria/Iran? The option for cease fire has been there all along, but Hezbollah does not want it. Pút blame, where it belongs.

Anonyymi kirjoitti...

If someone beats you up, Finnish law doesn't allow you to take commensurate revenge on him, instead he's taken to court and judged there in a fair trial. That is to prevent you and society around to you slowly degenerate on the same level as the person who attacked you, i.e. higher moral standards are expected from you (in the sense you aren't allowed to retaliate as you wish) and the society around you to prevent the society slowly sliding back to anarchy and rule of strongest. Same applies to nations. Yes, Israel is being attacked and they have right to respond, but that doesn't mean they have the right to stoop down to same moral level (or that they should be judged with same moral standards) as Hesbollah is showing, especially when they spend so much time claiming moral superiority. This doesn't mean I'm accepting or condoning what Hesbollah is doing, but I *do* expect more restraint and concideration from Israel in trying to prevent the situation deteriorate any further. The situation what some people seem to advocate where we can't expect anything more from Israel than from Hesbollah is, to be honest, quite scary.

Political solution as of now might seem night impossible, but we should also remember that it is also much due to Israelis themselves, not only Palestinians that the situation is like that now. The political solution was looking way more viable than it's now in 1993 when Oslo accords were signed, which resulted in murder of Rabin two years later in the hands of an Israeli extremist, who didn't like him trying to reach peaceful relations with Palestinians. After that successive Israeli governments have adopted increasingly hostile stance to Palestinian questions and the results of that development are paid for today in blood on both sides. I'm not trying to claim Isral is the only side to blame here, far from that, however it seems clear to me that political solution *can* be achieved (although now it will require *way* more patience and restraint than 13 years ago) and if the political legacy of Rabin would be allowed to flourish, in time we would see a definite improvement in Israel - Arab relations, even past the level in '93.

As for disarming Hesbollah, I feel like crying every time someone suggests that with a straight face. Yes, Israel *can* push Hesbollah back, at least for a short while so that they can't fire rockets to Israel, but rockets account only small fraction of civilian deaths in Israel, if I'm not mistaken. Vast majority comes from suicide bombings, which are hence the main weapon of Hesbollah. So could you please tell me, since no-one else has been able to before, how do you really disarm Hesbollah when all they need to continue their campaign of terror is a little bit of home-made explosives, some junk iron and willing bombers? Only thing which can be on short supply is the last item and the current retaliation against Lebanon makes it sure, Hesbollah won't run out of them for a looooong time now.

As of how israel should fight to minimize the civilian losses, they could for example stop destroying civilian infrastructure (like powerplants, one of which apparently just caused worst ecological disaster in Lebanon since ever), targetting UN compounds and refrain from air strikes entirely, since they seem to be so inaccurate and fundamentally serve no real purpose since Hesbollah doesn't have an air force to destroy or large bases easy to bomb. They could've in the begining also allowed enough time for the people to get out of the way or at least they could have decided on a *full* cessation of hostilities during that 48hr break that is now about to end. Instead they decided to continue artillery strikes and bombing although a little bit smaller scale, making people understandably a bit reluctant to venture out on open where they can get hit even easier than hiding in their own cellars. They could also have ensured that enough food and medications reach the areas under attack so that civilian casualties could be treated better. None of these of course prevent all the casualties, but numbers would be much lower than they are now and especially if the extensive destruction of civil infrastructure and housing by bombing hadn't happened, the reaction against Israel in Middle East and other parts of the world would be much more muted.

As of amount of dead civilians, in the sense I agree with you that comparing the amounts is not only silly, but only dangerous since it easily leads to "teeth for a teeth, eye for an eye"-attitude which tends to leave everyone blind and toothless. On the other hand I do still think that the amount of civilian casualties caused by Israel's retaliation against Lebanon is unacceptable and Israel is clearly not showing anywhere near the concern for civilian deaths it's PR campaign would have us to believe.

I somehow see the attack to Lebanon as a similar blunder W. committed in attacking to Iraq. Israel drove itself to situation where it can only loose. It can't really cause any meaninful damage to Hesbollah, since Hesbollah isn't a monolithic entity, even if you kill a lot of their fighters in Lebanon you at the same time only help them recruit more elsewhere due to moral outrage you cause. They can't significantly lower the number of dead Israeli civilians in the future, since most of them die in suicide bombings anyway and those are only going ot increase as response to current situation (see previous sentence), not decrease. Israel is also quickly burning any remaining political capital it has, both in US and especially elsewhere in the world, making it only that more isolated and vulnerable for next attack, which on the other hand is bad for us since more isolated and desperate Israel is the more likely it is to respond even more violently next time.

I for one can't see anything good coming out of this conflict (the way it's conducted atm at least), only speeding up the downward spiral in Middle East situation in general. So yes, although we don't live in fantasy land, I still dare to hope we don't live in a place where this is supposed to be the best (let alone only) alternative Israel has.


Mikko Särelä kirjoitti...

Krab, you didn't seem to read the part of my message that said that we should hold Hezbollah to same moral standards that we hold Israel - not the other way around. The problem with people who hold Israel to higher moral standards is that they are condoning to Hezbollah and making them look like the good guys.

We should definitely be more serious about condemning what Hezbollah is doing than what Israel is doing.

And if I understand correctly, Hezbollah hasn't been causing huge amount of damage through suicide attacks, but has instead now become a real threat to Israel, because of the massive rocket arsenal it has acquired. I think we can also expect that the civilian casualties in Israel would have been a lot higher, if Hezbollah people had been given a free rain at learning targetting and applying that knowledge to all those 10000+ rockets they have.

And in case you haven't followed at all, Israel has been giving people advance warnings well in advance of bombing places where there are civilians by sending in leaflets first and giving civilians time to evacuate.

Are you serious about them bombing UN bases deliberately? As for the precision of the bombings, how do you know they haven't achieved anything? If the target is to destroy the amassed 10000+ rockets that Hezbollah has, how do you know from the newspapers you read how well they are doing? [I admit, I don't know either] Even if they had destroyed 10000 of those and Hezbollah only had a few thousand left, we wouldn't see the difference in daily rockets flying to Israel. But if their supplies don't get replenished, they can't continue for ever.

By the way, the rockets have caused more than 1000 civilian casualties (including wounded) in Israel so far, which makes them far greater threat than suicide bombers. Do you really want Israel just to sit down and watch as Hezbollah rains thousands of rockets to Israel? [By the way, one of the things IDF says they have achieved is to take out practically all the _bigger_ rockets that can fly farther to Israel - and as we haven't seen those for a while, it might even be true]

Sometimes force has to be answered with force. In a civilized country, we have the state who uses force to stop people from doing bad things and that's why we are required to restrain ourselves. In the relationships between countries, there is no one to turn to, expect yourself. This is a fundamental difference that you shouldn't be blind to.

People who actively demonstrate against Israel, but not against Hezbollah are disgusting, because they are playing straight into Hezbollah's hands. They are giving moral credence to the people who started this conflict and of whom the existence of this conflict depends.

I'm sorry, but I do not find your claim that Israel disregards civilians to be correct, nor can I see any way out of this mess, which does not contain violence. I wish I did - and I wish somebody who can do something about it can find such a solution. And I will wholeheartedly support an actual solution, if such a thing can be found.