Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Moral Clarity - Taking Sides and Keeping it Simple 

The current conflict being waged between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon provides all of us an exceptional moment to separate those who support the existence of Israel and those who simply do not.

The war Israel has had thrust upon it by Hezbollah, and which Hezbollah is waging with enthusiasm and gusto every day, provides Israel no option but to wage war in return. As they say in court, the facts of the case are not in dispute:

1) Hezbollah is a militant shi'ite Arab islamic group based in southern Lebanon, which draws its logistical and material support from Syria and Iran. Furthermore, it participates in the government of Lebanon, both in Parliament and in the Cabinet.

2) As part of its foundational principles, Hezbollah rejects the existence of Israel and vows to destroy it. It seeks to impose an Islamic theocracy on the entire region.

3) While territorial disputes in the West Bank and Gaza have prevented Israel and the Palestinian Authority from agreeing to peace terms, and arguably give rise to legitimate Palestinian claims, there are no such legitimate, internationally recognized claims for either Hezbollah or the Lebanese. Israel's northern borders are precise and internationally recognized.

4) Hezbollah crossed Israel's internationally recognized borders from Lebanon (under the watchful and useless eye of UN "peacekeepers"), killed 6 Israeli soldiers and took 2 prisoner. They also initiated a campaign of rocket attacks into northern Israel, rockets without precision guidance capability; the results of which have been relentless attacks on civilian, not military, targets.

Hezbollah would not dispute any of these facts. On the contrary, they actively assert them.

5) Israel has responded forcefully. It has attacked known military targets. Most of these targets are embedded in civilian facilities - schools, hospitals and homes. It has attacked transportation and logistics facilities. Israel has conducted itself aggressively, but well within the confines of internationally accepted rules of war.

I would assert that if you fail to see the core justice in the Israeli response to Hezbollah, if you fail to see further the legitimacy of Israel's objective of the permanent destruction Hezbollah's military capability, you in fact share Hezbollah's objective -- namely, the destruction of Israel.

It's that simple; it's that black and white.


By Blogger Baron Bodissey, at Tue Jul 25, 10:30:00 AM:

It's that simple; it's that black and white.

Indeed it is, and some on the left are starting to choose their true color, which is Black. Judging by the quotes on Daily Kos, the far left is now asserting what we always thought they secretly believed: namely, that Israel doesn't really have a right to exist, anyway.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 25, 10:44:00 AM:

Exactly what prompted me to write the post. People need to be dead clear on this. No fudging BS.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Tue Jul 25, 11:02:00 AM:

Agreed. Great post. This is indeed the most unambiguously moral war that Israel has waged (at least since 1973).  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Jul 25, 12:34:00 PM:

We're either with them or against them, one might say, eh?

What if I'm for the right of Israel to exist peacefully but against an international arms trade that fuels Hezbollah and Israel? Where does that put me, CP?

I reject Black and White. This is a core difference between conservatives and liberals, and I'm proud to be on the side that recognizes various levels of nuance and complexity. I reject Bush's War on Terror. The smoke 'em out of their holes dead or alive foreign policy is backfiring, and we're going to see more and more young people grabbing the weapons available to them.

Regarding the Israel/Hezbollah conflict - I'm of the mind that Israel has the responsibility to keep rockets from raining onto its citizenry. Israel has as much right to exist as Kuwait does.

I've been hearing a lot of folks say things along the lines of, "What? Do you want another thirty years of terrorist attacks, or do you want Israel to finish Hezbollah right now?" This is a false choice, and I reject it. The path to peace is peace, and anyone who thinks we can quelch anti-western zeal by rushing bombs to Israel is a fool.

Your effort to tar anyone who doesn't share your position as pro-terrorist does not help your effort.

I don't want to be on your side, CardinalPark, because, from my humble point of view, you're a dick. No one wants to be on the side of a dick. Better leave us liberals some room to ally with positions similar to yours without having to be on your side.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 25, 12:48:00 PM:

Ok Screwy, call me a name, that's brilliant. A winning argument. I guess that puts me alongside anybody who ever has realized war is a necessity, in your startlingly unrealistic worldview.

Everything you said in your post, Screwy, was empty rhetoric. The only thing you said that makes sense:

"Regarding the Israel/Hezbollah conflict - I'm of the mind that Israel has the responsibility to keep rockets from raining onto its citizenry. Israel has as much right to exist as Kuwait does."

That would suggest that you actually agreed with my post. The balance of what you wrote literally had no intellectual content to it. None. Vapid. Calling me a dick is not an argument, or a debate. On the substantive argument, ultimately, you realized, you had to agree. But you decorated that (or sullied it) with silliness.

I could call you a pussy, too. But that would be an expression of my sense of humor. Not an argument. I will wear your most recent insult with pride. You called me something esle amusing a few months back that escapes me. Screwy, have you approached adolescence yet?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jul 25, 12:53:00 PM:

Sorry Screwy, the problem with your line of reasoning is that you think the other side thinks as you. History does not back up that assumption. You seem to be totally ignorant of what Hezbollah and other Jihadist honestly pronounce. They want a WORLD WIDE CALIPHATE. No peace until the entire world is Muslim. If you knew anything about the Golden Age of Islamic expansion from 700-1000AD (and then again in the Ottoman Empire which started in the 1500AD) you would realize that is the modus operandi as vibrant Christian and Jewish communities throughout the Middle East were razed. When some Muslims demonstrate in the US saying they will replace the Constitution with Sharia Law, that is precisely what they mean (which I would think would make Islam, or at least those groups calling for Sharia, a political party and not tax exempt…)

What I tend to find in the camp that thinks peace will bring peace is a total ignorance of history, even recent history. Ignorance and arrogance is a deadly combination.  

By Blogger K. Pablo, at Tue Jul 25, 12:55:00 PM:

Since this thread has already earned a Parental Advisory for Salty Language, it seems fitting to interject this quote from the movie Team America: World Police:

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!  

By Blogger Jeremiah, at Tue Jul 25, 01:03:00 PM:

This is an excellent post on the bottom line reality of the current situation in South Lebanon. For those who have trouble squaring their moral views with Israel's response, I have a hypo to propose for comparison.

Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that the party that supports a separate nation of Quebec behaved toward the US as Hezbollah behaves toward Israel. Suppose further that one fine day they crossed the border, killed a few US soldiers and took a couple more hostage in an undisclosed location. And finally suppose that they then began lobbing unguided rockets into Buffalo, causing indiscriminate death and destruction, all of the above without any effective control or intervention by the Canadian government.

Now given that the Quebec nationalists don't live in camps, but rather comfortably in places like Quebec City, Montreal, etc., how do you think the US should proceed in taking matters into its own hands, as it not doubt would have to?  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 25, 01:30:00 PM:

First, let me say that, while we should strive to keep the x rated stuff off the board, Pablo's post did make me laugh uncontrollably. I will have to keep my kids away.

And second, I like the French Canadian analogy. Given their immigration policies and heritage, your hypothetical may even be visionary. The only problem is, how do we all feel about Buffalo?:)  

By Blogger jj mollo, at Tue Jul 25, 04:49:00 PM:

I think that HB is monstrous and justice is on the side of Israel. But I really wish Israel could find a better way of dealing with this. Treating Leb as an enemy state is natural but counter-productive. Chasing after gnats is what I'm afraid they're doing. IMO they should be taking the war to Iran and Syria.

I don't have any way to assess IDF capability, but I suspect they are up to it, and they're going to have to fight these guys eventually -- or somebody is. Rather than destoying Lebanon's infrastructure, they should at least be cutting the supply lines on Syria's side of the border. Since the rocket use is indiscriminant and used against civilians, and since the rockets are coming from Iran as a stated anti-Israel policy, Israel has more right to attack Teheran than Beirut.  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 25, 05:37:00 PM:

I certainly understand the argument that says Syria and Iran are root causes, go after them. On the other hand, you cannot dismiss the fact that Hez sits on Israel's border. Even if Israel does intend to reckon with Syria and Iran directly, they first need to deal with the most proximate threat -- and that is assuredly Hezbollah. If you try to leapfrog and go after the bigger fish prematurely, you unduly expose your own border. That is tactically unacceptable.

I've written previously that the series of US actions in the Middle East have in fact catalyzed revolutions on behalf of oppressed local majority populations which could not themselves rebel against tyrants - the Taliban and Saddam. The Israeli action against Hez can be thought of in the same way -- Hez controls Lebanon's effective military on behalf of the raidcal shi'ite minority. Ideally, the IDF action unleashes the majority Lebanese population from Hez tyranny.

One other thought -- the action is an equally important signal to Moqdada al Sadr in Iraq to disarm, as he is the Hez equivalent in Iraq.

It's ugly, but it must be done.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Tue Jul 25, 06:56:00 PM:

Geez. Guess I shouldn't have used the D-word. Didn't realize folks would get so riled up.

But, seriously y'all, Cardinalpark is... you know... dickish.

Imagining oneself a hard-nosed realist when it comes to the calculus of other people's lives doesn't make you right. It just makes you mean.  

By Blogger K. Pablo, at Tue Jul 25, 07:05:00 PM:

Well, here's a little hard-nosed realism to chew on"

Is the U.S. commitment to provide more soldiers for Baghdad actually cover for placing additional forces in theater to check Tehran?  

By Anonymous Yair (israel), at Tue Jul 25, 07:06:00 PM:

Israel does not have the capacity to go after Iran (except nukes). It can go after Syria but for two problems:
1) That will really be illegal
2) Israel is very happy with its quite border with Syria  

By Blogger Cardinalpark, at Tue Jul 25, 08:47:00 PM:

Its ok Screwy. I'm a dick. Cuckoobananas too.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Jul 25, 08:58:00 PM:

"I don't want to be on your side, CardinalPark, because, from my humble point of view, you're a dick."

"Imagining oneself a hard-nosed realist when it comes to the calculus of other people's lives doesn't make you right. It just makes you mean."

You can't be on his side because he's mean? What if he's right? You can't be on the side that's right because you think it's mean, that it doesn't live up to your ideal fluffy candy land where all is justice and goodness and sugar cakes?

There's a reason that kind of thinking is called 'realism.' It's because that's how things work. 'What ifs' and 'shoulds' and 'coulds' and 'nuances and sophistication' are all well and good in some sort of theoretical setting; a college campus, for instance.

But that isn't how most of the world is. The world is corrupt, brutal, and harsh and the people who by and large run it are as well. We Westerners are spoiled. I mean that in all seriousness.

We live in societies where the rule of law, not the whim of a despot, decides what will happen to criminals or even who is considered a criminal; where the Army does not blackmail the government into acting how it wishes with the threat of a coup; where social welfare programs exists as social safety nets; where religious minorities are not massacred while the authorities turn a blind eye; where there is not mass starvation because the local warlord is pissed off at someone in your municipality; where you can get first rate health care for injury and disease whether you can afford it or not; or where international terrorists can fire rockets into foreign cities for the sole purpose of causing as much havoc and misery as they can and be hailed for it as heroes... by the populations of our enemies.

Being in this environment, the more sheltered among us naturally kind of assume that these conditions are possible everywhere, if only we wish hard enough, ask nicely, and throw money at them. That's naive, if not stupid, for a whole host of reasons which I won't list but which include: cultures of corruption, (i.e. it is acceptable and even encouraged) infrastructural limitations, lack of respect for authority higher than the familial level, prevalence of military grade weapons, et cetera.

Speaking of naive...

"This is a false choice, and I reject it. The path to peace is peace, and anyone who thinks we can quelch anti-western zeal by rushing bombs to Israel is a fool."

Bullshit. If you won't raise your arms against your enemy, he will just kill you more easily. 'Nuance and complexity' only matter if your opponents think that it matters too. Ours don't. We tried the 'don't strike back' thing for 20 years and where did it get us? Hundreds of dead Americans. But they were only soldiers and marines, so I guess that was ok, huh? After all, we signed up for that, right? We should have been paying more attention, I guess. Then they started killing civilians, but still you oppose fighting? Do you have a death wish or something? Do you really think that these people are interested in talking? Let me quote some lines for you about Islam from a book called Milestones Along the Way, by a fellow named Sayyid Qutb, the ideological grandfather of Islamism (whose brother actually taught Ayman Al-Zawahiri) and a chief of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt:

"[Islam] means a challenge to all kinds and forms of systems which are based on the concept of the sovereignty of man; in other words, where man has usurped the Divine attribute. Any system in which the final decisions are referred to human beings, and in which the sources of all authority are human, deifies human beings by designating others than God over men... [To be Muslim] (he uses an aphorism here that I would have to explain) means to eliminate all human kingship and to announce the rule of the Sustainer of the universe over the entire earth."

In case that wasn't clear: "[The Movement] uses physical power and Jihad for abolishing the organizations and authorities of the jahili (non-Muslim) system..."

Or: "Those who deviate from this system (Islam)... (examples are given here, including communists and nationalists) are truly enemies of mankind."

Or: "The way is not to free the earth from Roman and Persian tyrrany in order to replace it with Arab tyrrany. All tyrrany is wicked! The earth belongs to God and should be purified for God and it cannot be purified for Him unless the banner "No God except God" (significant phrase in Islam) is unfurled across the Earth."

In sum: Convert and join us, submit, or die.

Please, tell me how nuance and complexity will help with this problem. It would revolutionize foreign policy.

BTW, the author of this book is listed as a Great Muslim of the 20th century here: http://www.icna.org/icna/. But you won't find anything like what I just wrote there. Does that make me a dick?  

By Blogger jj mollo, at Wed Jul 26, 01:16:00 AM:

I think that Syria and Iran can tell Hezbollah to stop this "stuff" at any time, and they will. Apparently the President agrees.

Syria and Iran are actually much more vulnerable to Israeli attack than HB is. Iran has exposed oil facilities. Syria has military bases and infrastructure. Israel has air superiority.  

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