Sunday, July 30, 2006
The IDF is now saying that almost eight hours elapsed between their attack and the collapse of the building at Qana in which so many children died. This much is probably verifiable, at least with accounts from witnesses. So what happened? People stayed inside a building that was not structurally sound, and died when it collapsed from stress after the attack? Did Hezbollah -- the effective government in that area -- encourage the children to stay in the building, or to leave it? Did Hezbollah ammunition or explosives detonate, bringing down the building hours after the Israeli raid?
The interesting question is, if the investigation reveals that Israel may not have been responsible for these deaths, or only derivatively so, will any of the people who so quickly condemned Israel admit that they were wrong to do so?
If the building collapsed so many hours after the attack, it changes the story doesn't it?
One possibility for the death of so many children would be that Hezbollah "allowed" them to stay, mistakenly thinking the building was safe after the attack. Another possibility is that they realized what a propaganda coup it would be if the Israelis could be blamed for killing so many innocent people, leading Hezbollah to intentionally bring the building down upon them. Perhaps, just possibly, they rounded up women and children and placed them in the building before bringing it down.
All of the above is rank, even irresponsible, speculation. And yet, given Hezbollah's past conduct with regard to civilian lives, using children in this way to score propaganda points would not be much of a stretch for them at all.
"Qui Bono". Personally, I can very well imagine intentional dynamiting on Hezbollah's part - if the enemy doesn't create the atrocity you desperately need, you can always make your own and blame it on the other side.
The implication of course would be that, as the chance for a ceasefire goes up after a lot of civilians die, Hezbollah would be interested in a ceasefire. And as they can't come out and say so, being slave to their own rethoric, a big atrocity that gets everyone else calling for a ceasefire, combined with an eventual withdrawal that you can sell as YOUR victory ... nah, they are nice guys, they wouldn't do that, would they?
The facts of the Qana civilian deaths may never be fully known -- and certainly will never be agreed upon -- but it appears to me that it is a turning point in this war. Israeli government officials have expressed regret over the incident (which to the rest of the world is a de facto admission of guilt) and has called a 48 hour time out. The bar was always low for Hezbollah to be seen as victorious, and now it is clearly within reach. Anything short of complete obliteration is a win for Hezbollah. International pressure for Israel to agree to a cease fire will now ratchet up, and perhaps more importantly, support within Israel for the war may begin to wane ever so slightly. The IDF will evidently not commit the large number of ground forces necessary to clear out Hezbollah from South Lebanon in relatively short order, and it is safe to assume that planned air strikes will be on a much tighter leash following the end of the time out. How is it realistic to expect to quickly and significantly degrade Hezbollah assets in that situation? IDF generals knew at the start of hostilities that the clock was ticking on how long IDF forces could operate -- I think that whistle we just heard was the two minute warning.
I have seen this movie before. No doubt a sequel will be out in a few years. Ragged endings are not very satisfactory.
You really think they blew it up themselves because they wanted to kill their own people? Do you by any chance remember how WTC building 7 came down in the late afternoon, hours after the others? I imagine it was a similar situation. One big difference would be that we knew no more planes were coming, whereas anyone taking refuge from bombs doesn't know they won't be bombed again, and thus there is an incentive to sit tight in a shelter rather than fleeing out in the open.
You have to realize that to most people the suggestion that Hezbollah intentionally killed it's own populace is pretty far out there. There is precisely zero evidence for that theory. Some of us like to pick on 9/11 denialists who abandon all evidence and reason to believe what they want to believe. This is the kind of skewed conclusion they would draw. That might be fine if you're preaching to the choir, but when you start writing these kinds of posts, people start to question your judgement.
Lanky, what is Hezbollah's "own population"? They've been killing Arabs, including Lebanese, for years. That's why people are so afraid of them. Who do you think killed Hariri? No way Hez wasn't behind it, or at least knows who did it.
Now, it may be that they haven't been killing Shia children in the south of Lebanon. I would agree that sounds unlikely. If the time-lag story proves to be true, I would guess that the children stayed in the building for the reasons you describe -- fear of another attack. My rank speculation is that one of two things happened. First, the building fell from shock, rather than from having a direct hit. If true, and if it is also true that Hezbollah had rocket batteries near by that were legitimate targets, we know precisely who is culpable for the deaths of these children: Hezbollah. Second, that it was hit and thereby weakened, and fell hours later. Hez is still responsible for placing rocket batteries in the village. None of that makes it any less tragic, but it does help us understand the morality here, if not the politics.
If you'd started with that, I might be open to the argument. However, I see in this post a clear attempt to seed the idea that Hezbollah killed the children intentionally. It's a great way to demonize the enemy: oh my God they killed their own children! (Saddam gassed his own people!) What kind of monsters would do that? Surely they all deserve to die!
But there's no reality to the claim, only spin. Hezbollah didn't move people into a damaged building because it wanted martyrs, nor did it fail to evacuate children, hoping they would die. It's a good effort, but when you suggest it, you lose credibility with people who can still think and watch the news.
If you want to convince people that the children had to die as part of a greater good, then make that argument. But it is painfully obvious to everyone else that they died from an Israeli airstrike. Attempting to deny that or shift the blame makes you look like a shady defense attorney. Why on Earth would I listen to an ethos-based argument after that?
If you'd started with that...
Actually, I did not leap to a lot of conclusions in my post, I just asked a bunch of questions. I really don't know how the fog of war will sort itself out here, but I do know that there is more than meets the eye, and that Hez has made it clear that Lebanese civilian casualties are in its best interests. Since that is the one point that Israel and Hezbollah seem to agree on, I don't see how we can take seriously the claims that Israel killed these civilians intentionally.
If you want to convince people that the children had to die as part of a greater good, then make that argument.
Of course, Hezbollah can--and probably does--believe those children had to die as part of a "greater good" and yet that is all beside the point, isn't it?
But it is painfully obvious to everyone else that they died from an Israeli airstrike.
No such thing. Have these victims been autopsied? At this point we can't even be sure these people died at the time they supposedly did. Is it not at least possible that Hezbollah was able to procure bodies of persons who had died previously and planted them during the interval between the airstrike and building's collapse? Of course, your assertion that it is painfully obvious that these people died from an Israeli airstrike may well be true in either case. But it does make a difference exactly when and how they died, doesn't it?
it is painfully obvious that these people died from an Israeli airstrike
Actually, it appears it may be painfully obvious that they died from sheer negligence (if, indeed, it was negligence) - an entirely preventable and very tragic collapse of a building that anyone with an ounce of sense should have foreseen. Now it is equally true that the building could have collapsed immediately.
Just as it appears to be the case that civilians were asked to leave the area well before the airstrike, and that Hezbollah intentionally chose to lob missiles out of an area populated with civilians (last time I checked, something that has ALWAYS been against every known law of war: a little thing called using human shields).
But of course they get a free pass. They're Hezbollah. As long as they choose to break every rule, they can shell away and no one is allowed to fire back. That's why they do it.
Cassandra, that's the essential point as far as I can see. Hezbollah gets a free pass. No criticism for them. Which means they get a propaganda coup, regardless. Which is effectively rewarding them for doing something you and I see as abhorrent, putting innocent lives unnecessarily at risk.
Which means it will happen again and again and again, until the rest of the world wises up. (I'm not holding my breath for that to happen.)