Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Car is a Steel Cage

.. At least it is when it comes to arguments. You can't escape, you're stuck in it and things come to a head a lot more easily than in a situation where one person can decide to just go off and do something else. So yesterday on the way to my grandparents' place, when the topic of Israel came up I sort of knew things weren't going to end well.

Israel is one of those few lovely topics that can sharply divide two liberal types who would otherwise agree completely on things. Now, my usual philosophy is to say that you are entitled to whatever opinion you may feel comfortable with, but you are not entitled to your own facts. In fact, I don't really have an opinion on the broader Israel / Middle East issue except to say that everyone is wrong enough that no one can be seen as the good guys.

It was mentioned that Hezbollah was hiding weapons inside apartment buildings, unfortunately this idea was born as a planned excuse for levelling civilian areas longbefore any proof was ever unearthed for such tactics, but do Hezbollah fighters hide in civilian areas? Salon’s Mitch Prothero says “basically, no“:

Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered “Hezbollah” installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons — they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed — but for military ones.

“You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon,” a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. “They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They’re completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians — no discipline and too much showing off.”

(via The Poorman)

The Israeli army had such poor intelligence into Hezbollah positions and operations that even if Hezbollah were hiding in among ivilians, Israel would have had no idea which apartment building(s) in a town might have contained Hezbollah installations and which were just full of families, so levelling one or another would have been done at random and again becomes a war crime.

This is, of course, the problem when a conventional army tries to go up against a guerilla force using conventional tactics, and it always fails. That Israel was blind to the US's failures in this regard speaks volumes, but when you have the best weapons American aid money can buy and you have a paranoid desire to strike back as hard as you can when it, the fact that entire cities were flattened and the two captured Israeli soldiers that set off this conflict are still not recovered is a sad inevitability.

Now, of course Israel has every right to defend itself, and no doubt it oculd still easily win any conventional war between armies in the region, but my final assertion was that perhaps Israel should consider acting in its own best interests. When you create chaos, you provide the breeding ground for extremism, and demonstrating the ability to be brutal and indiscriminate will harden your enemy, since in his eyes you forfeit your own humanity when you strip it from others.

By al - 7:39 AM |

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