Tuesday, December 30, 2008

IDF attacks

After suffering from days on end of rocket and mortar attacks, the Isrealis exercise their right to attack those that attacked first. This is not a violation of international law, customs or norms, as some might suggest. Instead, it is implicit in international law, and authorized under the Geneva Conventions, that any state that allows its territory to be used to attack another state, cannot claim to be the innocent victim if the attacked state retaliates.
For those who would object to the use of force by Israel, I would ask if they could show me where they have called out against Hamas and their rocket attacks even once prior to Israel's actions. But popular culture, which is not the same as real culture, tends to view Hamas as the victim and Israel as the aggressor, and they will not be stopped in their one sided denunciation of who the actual victim is in this case. Those who object usually fall into one of two camps: Those of the moral equivalency crowd, and the Chomskyites. The first are neither moral, nor equivalent. All cultures are not equal. To say that we are no better than those who would stone to death a woman who was raped is to minimize the evil of the stonethrowers in order to ease their own conscience for doing nothing. The Chomskyites are predictably unthinking in that everything of Western values is evil, and everything not Western is good. It is a waste of time to even discuss anything with them.
I am not sure which group Youtube is associating with, but the Isreali Defense Forces are attempting to get out their side of the story through Youtube, since most of the supposed liberal media fail to report accurately or in an unbiased fashion, falling into one of the two camps listed above. Now Youtube is cutting off the IDF's access to Youtube as a form of censorship.
But as an example of what is going on in this situation, I invite you to watch this video of a strike on a Hamas Government building:


The secondary explosions would seem to indicate a large amount of substantial munitions or explosives were stored in the government building. But I am sure that they were intended only for peaceful purposes.

9 comments:

Steve T. said...

Typical -

Your fantasy of what the "liberal" position on this conflict is just that - a fantasy. I'd like to find one person who actually agrees with it.

As usual, you cite not a single liberal with whom you're arguing against. Your perception of our position comes cleanly - almost line for line - from right wing pundits and talk show hosts. You have no idea what you're talking about.

But it's good to know you've gone line by line through the Geneva Conventions. Or did Rush explain that one to you too? (See - Collective Punishment)

Mark T said...

Steve t. beat me to it. Deal with the collective punishment issue, if you can.

Steve said...

You make an assumption about "collective punishment" that is repeated as a mantra without the benefit of any, you know, evidence. The Israelis are targeting launch sites, not schoolyards like Hamas has been doing. The fact that Hamas is willing to keep civilians at these launch sites in order to create casualties is further evidence of their war crimes, which you so blithely ignore.
Sorry, but you restate my point, that you lack any moral authority to complain about Israeli action. Your one sided view corroborates my original post.

Steve T. said...

I repeat: You have no idea what you're talking about. That you pretend to have a sudden concern for the Geneva Conventions only makes your position on this more ridiculous. Where's that concern for the Conventions when it comes to the issue of torture of terror suspects or the prison at Guantanamo Bay?

Israelis killed over the past 3 years by Hamas rockets: 13

Palestinians killed over the last 3 days by Israeli bombs: 350+

If that's not collective punishment, than I have no idea what is.

Anyways, your whole argument would have more credence if this campaign had done a single damned thing to slow the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip. It hasn't, and it won't.

It's so typical of your side to believe in this concept of dropping some bombs so the bad guys get what they deserve - you have no concern for actually accomplishing anything except for killing some folks.

War is an end in itself for you- you guys get off on making the bad guys pay like it's some Hollywood movie - except in real life the problems after the explosions are the exact same as they were before.

That this campaign will result no differently will come as no surprise to me, and will come as no hinderance to your "war as the only solution" position.

Steve said...

"I repeat: You have no idea what you're talking about. That you pretend to have a sudden concern for the Geneva Conventions only makes your position on this more ridiculous. Where's that concern for the Conventions when it comes to the issue of torture of terror suspects or the prison at Guantanamo Bay?"

I know that you are not a legal scholar, and I know that your understanding of "torture" is what you want it to be as relayed to you by those whose opinions you support. But that all aside, if you were to actually read the Conventions, especially the 4th, you would learn that they don't apply to non-signatory states. Your one sided concern for those who are acting illegally, i.e. combatants not wearing uniforms, hiding behind non-combatants, etc. restates my point that you are morally illegitimate in your complaints in this matter.

"sraelis killed over the past 3 years by Hamas rockets: 13

Palestinians killed over the last 3 days by Israeli bombs: 350+"

Are you arguing that the Israelis have to wait until 350+ of their citizens have to be killed before they respond? Your moral calculus is deeply flawed.

And you are right, in that you have no idea what collective punishment, as defined in the 4th Geneva Convention, actually is.
It was meant to address the indiscriminate reprisals such as those of the Germans against the French for Resistance operations. There was not even a fig that it was about attacking those who were the attackers. Again, one of the responsibilities of combatants is to not put non-combatants in harms way. Which is why the use of schools, hospitals and places of worship are off limits for use by the belligerents. You make absolutely no mention of the storage of weapons in hospitals, the firing of rockets from apartment complexes. My point in the original post was that the one sided condemnation renders itself morally ridiculous. And you remake my point once again. Thank you.

Your assessment of me and what I think places you in the same position as you accused me in your first response, where I used the word "liberal" in the context of liberal media. You extended the meaning to anyone who was willing to support the extermination of the Israeli victims.
You have no right, and you should be embarrassed about your caviling that is so one sided, that you ignore the true evil which is the provocateur who started the mess.
Again, can you link me to any comment that you have made that calls for an end to the rocket attacks from Gaza?

I didn't think so.

Steve T. said...

"I know that you are not a legal scholar, and I know that your understanding of "torture" is what you want it to be as relayed to you by those whose opinions you support."

Yeah, sorry dude... I'll rely on decades of legal consensus on what torture actually is before I accept the Yoo/Gonzales idea that it's only torture if it causes organ failure or death.

"But that all aside, if you were to actually read the Conventions, especially the 4th, you would learn that they don't apply to non-signatory states."

That's simply amazing... are you seriously saying that even if we're a signatory state, we don't have to treat enemy combatants under the rules of the convention simply because they aren't officially acting on behalf of a signatory state? That's not only completely and totally wrong - it's despicable. Why even bother having the conventions if signatory states can equivocate so much?

"Your one sided concern for those who are acting illegally, i.e. combatants not wearing uniforms, hiding behind non-combatants, etc. restates my point that you are morally illegitimate in your complaints in this matter."

You're being foolish here - I've said before in several places that both sides in this conflict are despicable. I harp on Israel so much because that's the side that my government has taken. My tax dollars are not funding Hamas rockets - they're funding Israel's massive military infrastructure that is inflicting these incredible civilian tragedies.

Here's where I think you're reading me wrong: America should be an honest and even-handed broker in this conflict, and our interest should not be in pointless arguing over who started it - it should be in giving both sides legitimate interest in ending the conflict. As it stands, we are giving Israel money and supplies to continue and exacerbate the problems, and the Palestinian people are suffering as a result.

"Are you arguing that the Israelis have to wait until 350+ of their citizens have to be killed before they respond? Your moral calculus is deeply flawed."

You're deliberately distorting my argument here. It kind of makes you look like a douchebag.

"Again, one of the responsibilities of combatants is to not put non-combatants in harms way. Which is why the use of schools, hospitals and places of worship are off limits for use by the belligerents. You make absolutely no mention of the storage of weapons in hospitals, the firing of rockets from apartment complexes. My point in the original post was that the one sided condemnation renders itself morally ridiculous. And you remake my point once again. Thank you."

I don't want to get pushed into the position of defending Hamas's actions by you - but you have no proof of this. The media has simply not been allowed into Gaza for months now. There is zero independent verification of anything you say here.

But let's say it's true. In my mind, if that many civilians are in harm's way - rightly or wrongly- than other means need to be found to either destroy the rockets or to broker a genuine peace deal that actually stops the rockets from being fired. Stopping these rockets is simply not worth the lives of 400+ civilians - and Israel has a choice on whether or not they inflict those casualties. You believe that it's worth it. I say it isn't.

"You have no right, and you should be embarrassed about your caviling that is so one sided, that you ignore the true evil which is the provocateur who started the mess"

You lose me pretty quickly when you start talking about "true evil." Are we still talking about foreign affairs here or are we talking about a Batman movie? You guys are so silly.

Anyways, the last thing I want to do is to get into an argument about "who started this mess." Both sides will tell you pretty convincing stories on that front - it doesn't quite matter, though. The point is, we're IN this mess. Some people have an interest in ending it, and others appear to have an interest in making it worse.

And again, you would have ground to stand on if this military action were doing some kind of actual good. The only good it's doing is getting you all worked up over neat explosions. Unfortunately, zero steps have been made towards ending the conflict - as has been demonstrated time and again.

But I say again - you have no interest in an end to the conflict - you just like seeing perpetrators of "evil" pay. You really do live inside a Hollywood movie where the good guys drop the bomb and the movie ends there. It doesn't work that way, and never will. The sooner you figure that out, the better.

"Again, can you link me to any comment that you have made that calls for an end to the rocket attacks from Gaza?"

Again, very typical. You clearly haven't been reading anything I've written on the issue. Take a trip over to the blog and you'll see what I mean.

Speaking out against America's unequivocal political, military, and financial support for Israel does not (and never will) equal support for Hamas. Assuming as much makes it a whole lot easier for those with lower IQs to argue in favor of Israel's actions, but does little to counter any of the legitimate arguments being made against them.

Steve said...

Decades of legal consensus? Sorry, you are just making that up. "That's not only completely and totally wrong - it's despicable. Why even bother having the conventions if signatory states can equivocate so much?"
Welcome to International law. I hesitate to point out the irony that you falsely accused me deriving my knowledge of international law and the Geneva/Hague Conventions from Rush, when you haven't even taken the time to look at them yourself, relying instead on what you have been told.
I would appreciate where you unequivocably called for Hamas to end their rocket barrage. I can't seem to find any such comment.
"Here's where I think you're reading me wrong: America should be an honest and even-handed broker in this conflict, and our interest should not be in pointless arguing over who started it - it should be in giving both sides legitimate interest in ending the conflict. As it stands, we are giving Israel money and supplies to continue and exacerbate the problems, and the Palestinian people are suffering as a result."

Ah, I see you reveal yourself as a moral equivalentist. Sorry, please see the original post. To ignore the aggressor is not being fair and even handed.

"Stopping these rockets is simply not worth the lives of 400+ civilians "
Your bias is showing here. Even the UN says that 80% of the casualties are Hamas fighters. The fact that they wear civilian clothing while launching rockets does not make them civilians.

"But I say again - you have no interest in an end to the conflict - you just like seeing perpetrators of "evil" pay. You really do live inside a Hollywood movie where the good guys drop the bomb and the movie ends there. It doesn't work that way, and never will. The sooner you figure that out, the better."

Those who argue for moral equivalence say that there is no such thing as evil. I disagree. I have stood on the grounds of Dachau and while I am not a sensitive sort of guy, I have felt how the ground seems to call out from that particular portal to Hell for justice. Your desire to render the concept of evil into a comic book equation, is more proof of your lack of morality.

Steve T. said...

"Welcome to International law."

Wow - you're being serious here? Really? I honestly thought that most people saw the Bush Administration's assertions that prisoners captured during the War on Terror didn't actually count as POW's or any other kind of protected persons for what it is - a flagrant violation of the Geneva conventions designed to invent some basis on which to torture them (still illegal).

Oddly enough, you're still at the point where you accept the actions of the Bush Administration as some kind of honest interpretation of International Law. You're in a small group here - most people who accept torture by the U.S. as being perfectly OK do so because they think that the U.S. shouldn't have to abide by international treaties because we're special and all. I don't know that I've ever encountered anyone who honestly believed that we're still in the bounds of international law. So we're the ones interpreting the law correctly and everyone else in the world is dyslexic? Swell!

In addition, even the Bush Administration has never argued that they are torturing in the spirit of the Geneva Conventions. They have simply argued that what they've authorized doesn't actually qualify as torture because it doesn't cause organ failure or death. You see, even they realize that torture is against international law, so they've set about trying to change its definition.

Like I said, you're in a very small club here. I'd like to find one other person who shares your interpretation. It's simply ludicrous (and still despicable).

Anyways, let's say for the sake of argument you're right (you're not) and the Geneva Conventions don't apply. What about the United Nations Convention Against Torture? What about the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights? If I'm not mistaken the U.S. is a signatory to both of those... After you do your Google research you'll have to let me know if we are we still torturing in the spirit of international law.

"I would appreciate where you unequivocably called for Hamas to end their rocket barrage. I can't seem to find any such comment."

Strangely enough, I can't seem to find any instance where I "unequivocably called for" Israel to stop its bombing campaign. I can't find any instance where I've "called on" any nation to do anything. I'm a blogger, I don't issue press releases.

"Ah, I see you reveal yourself as a moral equivalentist. Sorry, please see the original post. To ignore the aggressor is not being fair and even handed."

Man, this thing would have been a whole lot easier for you if you could have done the "label and dismiss" method of debate from the beginning. It would have saved you tons of googling.

"Those who argue for moral equivalence say that there is no such thing as evil."

Once again, you're a whole lot better at arguing with people when you invent their position for them. When did I ever say any such thing?

My point - which actually I think you understand perfectly well and are deliberately misinterpreting - is that when you start looking at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through the "true evil" vs. true good lense, it gives some kind of moral license for the good side of that equation to do whatever they want without facing any criticism from you. That's simply nonsense.

Even if Israel was simply fighting "true evil," they could still well be screwing up royally by engaging in this bombing campaign, couldn't they? Does every decision they make become OK simply because they're fighting evil? Don't you see how dangerous that is?

Steve said...

Steve - I respect your arguments, except where you decide to tell me what I am thinking. But one of the problems that we are having in this discussion, which has moved from IDF justified reaction to over 6000 rocket attacks, to the Bush administration and the use of torture, is, what definition of torture are you using? I prefer to use the actual terms of "severe pain or suffering" which is, I am sure much worse than yours. Could you please tell me what level of distress short of euphoria, that you consider torture?
The fuzziness of the term has been used to imply illegal acts by the administration, even when they are not illegal. And they have succeeded in changing the meaning to such an extent that "right thinking" people such as yourself, have bought into the lie.
As to the Geneva Conventions, would you please take a minute and google them yourself, so that you will be better informed, than just relying on like minded individuals whose opinion you share.