16 January 2009


A prediction (really two), a comment, and a link:


This war will be resolved in time for Barrack Obama to be inaugurated. It would be embarrassing for it to continue through his inauguration and Israel is aware of the importance of maintaining good relations with the US.

It will end prior to this arbitrary date and not on 'mission success' because you cannot simply crush someone's ability to resist (see "Afghanistan") and as long as there are Palestinians in the 'holy land' without a nation, this war will not be over. The idea that this incursion could 'defeat' Hamas or force it to stop lobbing rockets is as ridiculous as the proposition that you can delcare war on terror.


Have you ever seen one of those shows where the bad guys take a hostage or hostages (on a plane, in a bank, in a station, wherever) and our good guys are all surrounding them on the outside but unable to let all hell loose as they so dearly want to because they can't risk killing the hostages? This is a very common plot device in movies and TV shows, I'm sure everyone has seen it many times.

See, the thing is, that the good guys don't just blow up everyone and then blame the bad guys. Good guys don't kill hostages. It's not about proportionality (although 8 Israelis dead in the last 8 years vs 1000 palestinians dead in the last 2 weeks is quite a whopper to swallow). It's an absolute moral position. The good guys NEVER kill the hostages. The IDF has no such qualms, and therefore they are ruled out, permanently and irrevocably, from being the 'good guys'.


Excerpts from a panel, particularly interesting for Israeli national security expert Efraim Inbar's views about the above comment - it would not bother him if the figure were 20 or 30,000 dead, he sleeps easy blaming it all on Hamas. Also a French analyst explains the response of Egypt and Jordan. View it on Red Tory's page (couldn't get the link to work):


Blogger michael said...

For an account of Hamas' legal responsibility for civilian deaths in Gaza, see Irwin Cotler's analysis: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1231866576202&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Dark City said...

From your analogy:

Israel = the cops
Hamas = the bank robbers
Palestenian civilians = hostages

On the surface the analogy seems valid but there are several holes in it.

1. It does not consider the situation where the robbers occasionally drag a cop into the bank and randomly shoot at the cops and bystanders outside the bank. Are the police expected to take casualties in their own ranks as well as the public indefinitely?

2. It assumes that the robbers have the capacity to negotiate. The Hamas charter explicitly calls for the complete elimination of Israel.

3. It assumes that using the hostages as shields is correct behaviour by the robbers. It's a funny world where the hostage taker can be considered the "good guy".

Consider WW2. If the Allies were judged under the same criteria that Israel is now, then the Axis would be able to claim the moral high ground. Because there were Axis civilian casualties then is it correct to say that the Allies can never, ever be considered the "good guys"?

For peace to have a chance, the Palestinians have to concede Israel's right to exist.

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Dark City:

1) Of course cops occasionally die on the job. That doesn't justify them blowing up the whole joint and letting god sort out the corpses. NOTHING justifies that. That is the only important part of the analogy. Yes, under this system of belief the bombing of hiroshima, london, coventry, dresden, etc etc constituted the most vile kind of warfare. You are correct I should have allowed for some kind of future redemption.

2) Saying your enemies 'lack the capacity to negotiate' is exactly what Don Corleone says before he has them all killed. If you genuinely believe your enemy cannot negotiate then you are absolutely right, the only final solution is to kill every last one of them. Yes I intended that historic metaphor.

3) It does NOT assume that hamas (or hostage taking) is good or appropriate. I never suggested Hamas is innocent. They are clearly not innocent. Your mistake is to pretend every situation needs a good guy and a bad guy. There is no such requirement. This situation very obviously has two bad guys. I do not distinguish a great deal between them except by body count.

Alternatively, your mistake is to suggest that once someone commits wrong, someone else is entitled to take the role of 'just avenger', slaughter them all, and let God sort them out. I hope you were making the former mistake.

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Michael - right, and because Hamas is bad, we can be worse. Jolly good!

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Dark City said...

As with everyone else, passions tend to flare up when discussing this situation.

I believe there is a difference between Hamas and "Joe Palestinian". You're right that Hamas can negotiate (my bad), but I don't think they want to or at least their demands are so unreasonable on some issues that negotiations are next to impossible.

What frustrates me the most is that a Hamas member can surround his rocket launchers with children but he is considered not responsible when they all get killed. For that situation the headline would be "Israel kills more children", not "Hamas' tactics responsible for children's deaths".

The reason I often use WW2 as an example is because it is generally considered to be a "good war" with the Allies as the "good guys" and the Axis as the "bad guys". The Allies definitely took the "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" approach. Germany and Japan were reduced to smoldering piles of rubble before they surrendered.

If Israel fought this as WW2 style war, it would literally be over tomorrow (even without nukes).

Hamas is fighting this in an "accept nothing but unconditional surrender" WW2 style. Israel is not and can afford to hold back because their superior technology can keep Hamas from gaining any real ground from a military perspective.

As a side note, any ideas as to why we still aren't fighting insurgencies in Germany and Japan? Is it because we destroyed them so thoroughly?

To transfer the Gaza situation to Canada - what if the inhabitants of Akwesasne started using their government money to buy and launch rockets at Toronto and Ottawa instead of merely blocking the 401? What should the response be? When you think about it, the situations are remarkably similar - a native group kicked off their land, stuffed into a small area who live in dire poverty.

An interesting scenario...

January 16, 2009  
Blogger Gavin Magrath said...

Dark City,

Israel did fight a WW2 style war, on a very tiny field, and it was over as you say very quickly. That was 1948.

The reason that they still have to fight an insurgency while the Germans are now good Europeans is that we didn't try to crowd all the Germans into refugee camps after the war and deny them a right to a nation. We had some show trials for the worst of them (as we saw it), devised a way for businessmen to make a bunch of money off of taxpayers in reconstruction, and formed the UN.

Terrorism and wars of insurgency are not new at all; all the colonial powers waged them through the four corners of the earth, including the USA although it was late on the scene. They faught guerrillas, partisans, rebels, natives, savages, and now terrorists. They all have much to apologize for, but the barbaric acts of my ancestors do not justify continued barbarity or obligate me to remain silent while I observe barbarity.

Calling for the destruction of the state of Israel is pretty strong talk, and if for no other reason than they are obviously incapable of it Hamas should drop the blustering. That being said, it is clearly pure bluster; quite the opposite for Israel, who pays lip-service to a two state solution but, with the iron fist, makes sure they know their place. The right of self-defence is not exclusive to the IDF.

1000 - 8. The score speaks for itself.

January 17, 2009  

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