“…voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” – Hermann Goering, 1946
7 thoughts on “A balanced response?”
I’m not (necessarily) defending Israel here, but what does a “Balanced Response” have to do with anything? If a nation is being attacked, using the same amount of force as was used against it may not stop the threat. Especially if the attackers hide amongst their own civilians and lob missiles toward another country’s civilians.
Should the allies have taken it easy on Germany toward the end of WWII, so their attacks would be balanced with the German’s attacks?
Should the US have crashed 4 planes into Al Queda bases after 9/11, and then called it quits for the sake of balance?
I agree that a military response needn’t necessarily employ exactly the same level of force as the provoking assault. However, was I find ‘unbalanced’ here is the choice of targets, much of which has been civilian infrastructure: power stations, downtown apartment complexes, water pumping stations, roads, hundreds of thousands of civilians driven from their homes. Just looking at the death toll, the number of civilian casualties far outnumbers casualties of suspected Hezbollah militants.
To have a balanced choice of targets, Israel would need to randomly fire 50-150 rockets per day into Lebenon. Instead they’ve tried to weaken Hezbollah by attacking infrastructure.
The main problem I have with Israel’s attack is simply that’s it not working. They’re killing scores of civilians without gaining much or any military advantage. Every Lebanese building they blow up is a Hezbollah recruiting advertisement. If they had sent a large number of ground troups from the start, they could have directly engaged Hezbollah. They also would have suffered many troop losses, but minimized civilian casualties and displacements. It still would have been a much greater use of force than what was used against them, but I believe that to be immaterial.
There are (according to press reports) 10000 or so Palestinians in Israeli jails, many of them women and juveniles, and many (if not all) captured in illegal raids into Palestinian territories, The Palestinians captured one and offered to exchange him for women and juvenile prisoners. The response was massive bombings, including destruction of the only large electricirty works, and more than 100 dead Palestinians.
Hesbollah was established in the 70s after a massive Israeli invasion of Lebanon, when – among other atrocities- 100s or 1000s of civilians were massacred by Christian militias while Sharon, the Israeli army commander, was looking on. That did not prevent him from becoming prime minister of Israel. There are many Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails, captured illegally. Press reports about all this are totally biased in favour of Israel.
What we are seeing here, I believe, is a deliberate attempt of destroying the infrastructure of two countries and mass murder, with further sinister activities just around the corner (Syria and Iran). I sincerely hope that this is not true, because it would be a total disaster for the future of the world.
Have a look at CommonDreams.org. (“Nuke Iran, Blame the Jews” July 24), a newsletter by a prominent American physicist
In response to Peter
First of all, you have stated that you find Israel’s choice of targets unbalanced, as they are targeting civilian infrastructure. May I ask what that is unbalanced compared to? Hezbollah targets civilians solely. In fact, in most of Nasrallah’s broadcasts he states that Hezbollah can attain victory by murdering as many Israeli’s as possible. Meanwhile, Israel has not once targeted anything that would not weaken Hezbollah’s military forces ie. roads are targeted to prevent escape to Syria, power stations are targeted to cut off communications, apartment buildings unfortunately hit because Hezbollah knowingly hides munitions in them in the hope that they will be protected by human shields. So how exactly, when Israel targets a militia that has declared war on them, and Hezbollah targets civilians indiscriminately, has Israel been ‘unbalanced’?
Also, in response to Hannibal, your comments are only partially true. Hezbollah was formed at a time that coincided with operation Peace for Gallilee, however, the reason it was formed was due to, as all counterterrorism experts will agree to, funding from Iran. In fact, up until the 90’s, Hezbollah was majority Iranian. Only after then did they manage to inflate their ranks with Lebanese. The mere fact that they are a shiite group (like Iran), considering Lebanon’s majority Sunni population, confirms this. So please, do not blame Israel for the formation of Hezbollah. In addition, you speak of a deliberate attempt at mass murder. Tell me, do you honestly believe that Israel is indescriminately killing civilians? They have a modern army, and ground forces which haven’t even begun to display their destructive potential. They COULD theoretically have killed many more, yet they have not. I weep for the Lebanese civilians that have been killed, but I do not believe that Israel has been immoral. Most of the deaths could have been avoided if Hezbollah did not act like cowards and hide amongst civilian infrastructure. On the other hand, we have Hezbollah dancing in the streets upon hearing the news that they may have missiles that can hit Tel-Aviv, a major civilian centre. Yes, there is mass murder, against Israel.
And in response to Jon, I agree with you. Every Lebanese civilian killed is a recruitment poster to Hezbollah, and that is what is so disgusting and vile about them. When Israelis are killed, they rejoice. When Lebanese are killed, they get sympathy. Whoever dies, they win.
I agree completely with you when you say that Hezbollah also attacks civilians. My condemnation of Israeli actions are by no means a vindication of Hezbollah’s, who are worthy of exactly the same criticisms. The reason I refer to the situation as ‘unbalanced’ is that Israel is an infinitely more powerful party in this dispute, and when they respond by attacking powerstations, roads and other infrastructure, the degree of destruction is far greater and takes a massive civilians toll. However, to avoid being interpreted as one-sided, or of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s attacks on innocent civilians, let me emphasize that my condemnation applies to them also.
The majority of Israelis killed (around 100) are soldiers, almost all Lebanese killed are civilians (around 1000). A milk factory is not necessarily a military target, although soldiers, I guess, drink milk too. Give Hetzbollah (and Hamas, for that matter) planes and tanks, and precision weapons, and their targets will predominatly be military. It would be too expensive to waste ammnuition on civilians. One should look at the root causes: millions of Palestinians displaced and living in refugee camps, parts of Syria and Lebanon still under Israeli occupation, and continuing and increasing occupation of large parts of Palestine. There never has been a genuine ( I mean genuine and not some PR exercises) attempt by Israel to accomodate itself with the Palestinians and other neighbours. It instead relies on military power and brutal force, counting on the unrestricted support of the USA.
I wonder what the reaction of the Western world would be if a letter containing serious poisons addressed to the Israeli Prime Minister was posted in Beirut or Ramalla. When such a letter posted in Tel Aviv reached the Palestinian Prime Minister (democratically elected, by the way) and poisoned some of his staff, it was almosty entirely ignored.