Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Newsworthy Notes

Pat Buchanan wonders why Christians have reacted with silence to the bombing of Beirut: "But where are the Christians? Why is Pope Benedict virtually alone among Christian leaders to have spoken out against what is being done to Lebanese Christians and Muslims?"

In a discussion on the Albert Mohler Show and from his Henry Institute weblog, Dr. Russell Moore defends the Israeli response. "I, for one, support Israel's response (so far) to the terrorist attacks against it. It seems to me to be well within the framework of Romans 13 for a state to defend itself against aggressive evildoers in this way," writes Moore.

Moore's view is restrained and reasonable compared to most of the callers to his show. It is clear that a Dispensational reading of Scripture vis a vis Israel is the majority report among Evangelicals sitting in the pews of our churches.

Moore, and his listeners, completely neglects the issue of proportionality. As Buchanan writes, Israel "is imposing deliberate suffering on civilians, collective punishment on innocent people, to force them to do something they are powerless to do: disarm the gunmen among them. Such a policy violates international law and comports neither with our values nor our interests. It is un-American and un-Christian."

Pat's morality is obviously confused. He should talk to US United Nations ambassador, John Bolton. Commenting on the deaths of 8 Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon as a result of an Israeli strike, Bolton said, "It's simply not the same thing to say that it's the same act to deliberately target innocent civilians, to desire their deaths, to fire rockets and use explosive devices or kidnapping versus the sad and highly unfortunate consequences of self-defense." OK, just a second. What was the act that precipitated the most recent action by the Israelis? It was the kidnapping of two SOLDIERS by Hezbollah. Soldiers are legitimate military targets, civilians are not.

Meanwhile, numerous eggheads in "conservative" think-tanks are upset with the Bushies. Apparently they're not being quite aggressive enough. What we need, they say, is more war. Invade Syria, Iran, North Korea...blah, blah, blah. Newt Gingrich says, "We have accepted the lawyer-diplomatic fantasy that talking while North Korea builds bombs and missiles and talking while the Iranians build bombs and missiles is progress. Is the next stage for Condi to go dancing with Kim Jong Il?" Ken "Cakewalk" Adelman says, "What they are doing on North Korea or Iran is what [Sen. John F.] Kerry would do, what a normal middle-of-the-road president would do," he said. "This administration prided itself on molding history, not just reacting to events. Its a normal foreign policy right now. It's the triumph of Kerryism." From his perch at the Weekly Reader, Bill Kristol says that what's happening in the Middle East is "our war." "For while Syria and Iran are enemies of Israel, they are also enemies of the United States. We have done a poor job of standing up to them and weakening them. They are now testing us more boldly than one would have thought possible a few years ago. Weakness is provocative. We have been too weak, and have allowed ourselves to be perceived as weak." At least George Will is beginning to come around. In his column yesterday, he wrote, "The administration, justly criticized for its Iraq premises and their execution, is suddenly receiving some criticism so untethered from reality as to defy caricature. The national, ethnic and religious dynamics of the Middle East are opaque to most people, but to the Weekly Standard -- voice of a spectacularly misnamed radicalism, "neoconservatism" -- everything is crystal clear: Iran is the key to everything."

William Lind wonders if we are about to re-play the summer of 1914.

In political news, Ralph Reed took it on the chin in Georgia, dragged down by his connection with Jack Abramoff. Well, at least Ralph can go back to ringin' up the cash register. McPaper asks, "Will Christian right embrace — and support — one of its own?" Speaking of Sam Brownback's potential presidential run, SBC bigwig Richard Land says, "I love Sam Brownback. Sam Brownback is a great man, and Sam Brownback is a great senator. Whether he is a credible presidential candidate is up to Sam to prove." Brownback would like to apologize for slavery--and possibly open the till to pay reparations, he supports unlimited immigration, and seems prepared to send American troops into Darfur. To top it off, Richard Land says he's "a great man." Doesn't this give you some idea what's wrong with the "religious right?"

The war is going so well in Iraq that the Pentagon thinks we can leave--in 2016. Meanwhile, the civilian death toll in Iraq has climbed to 100 a day, with nearly 6,000 dying in May and June. Recall that this is a country 1/8 the size of the U. S. If you extrapolate the numbers, they become even more dire.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moore, and his listeners, completely neglects the issue of proportionality.

War is not nice and bad things happen, whether 'proportional' or not. I don't think Israel can really be indisputably faulted for 'disproportionality' when fighting against enemies who want to destroy it, which pretty much describes Hezbollah and Hamas. Especially when there are other more obvious grounds. For example: the explanation given for destroying transportation infrastructure (Beirut airport, the main highway to Damascus) -- to prevent the removal of the kidnapped soldiers -- was absurd. As can be seen by noting that many, many refugees still managed to arrive in Syria (so if Hezbollah really wanted to remove the soldiers they could easily do so). Seldom have Israeli governance and military strategy looked so...not up to the situation.

OK, just a second.

Bolton may be an obnoxious jerk 95% of the time, but in this case he is right. According to accounts I have read, Hezbollah came across the border into Israel to assault an Israel unit and kidnap the soldiers. Israeli soldiers then went into Lebanon to look for their soldier (Israeli conscription would be harder for the population to except if the Army showed less regard for soldiers' lives), and after that fighting -- during which Israeli soldiers died -- the rockets started landing in Israel.

Lebanon is a borderline failed state.

Commenting on the deaths of 8 Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon...

Watching the western nations evacuate their citizens you see what you might have expected: the vast majority of them (including the 'Canadians') are Lebanese, most of them muslims, many holding dual nationality. No doubt many of them are unashamedly pro Hezbollah. While their deaths and suffering are no less regrettable, it made me wonder: is it wise for western nations to pass out so many passports to so many people who are so obviously non-western? Does nationality mean so little these days?

8:14 AM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I think if you check out the images of south Beirut in today's NY Times, you will see that the bombing there is pretty indiscriminate. I also read yesterday that Christian neighborhoods in Beirut were being struck. Are they supporting Hezbollah?

As to your second point, I find it interesting that everytime somehting like this occurs, you see a civilian death toll in the Arab state that exceeds the Israeli death toll about 15 fold. Who is going out of their way to protect civilians?

I do agree that we ought not to be taking scads of refugees. But nationality does not mean much to our deracinated elites.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only repeat: War is not nice, and very bad things are going to happen, e.g. civilians are going to die.

While the destruction may appear to be indiscriminate, it is my understanding that Israel is using precision weapons (although by their nature high power expolsions are not all that precise), i.e. I do not think Israel is deliberately and indiscriminately targeting civilians in the same way Hezbollah does when it fires rockets into Israel (or Hamas does when it sends out suicide bombers). An example of what I mean is here. It is simply impossible for Israel to avoid substantial 'collateral damage' due to the nature of the Hamas presence in Lebanon.

Anyway, FWIW I did agree -- or tried to agree -- that Israel's behavior, i.e. its decision to use force in the way it is using force in this instance can be denounced, while at the same time noting that if they are going to use force it is nearly impossible to avoid a good deal of 'collateral damage', and if you get a good deal of that it will most probably look "indiscriminate". Especially when the target list has been (inappropriately, IMO) widened to include things like TV and cell phone towers.

So I think I answered your question: Who is going out of their way to protect civilians? I don't think any military establishment can allow the possibility of civilian casualties to prevent the destruction of legitimate targets. After all, if you were a soldier, a conscript no less, wouldn't you want your commanders to conduct a conflict with an eye toward minimizing the possibility of your own death? This is not to say that Israel's choice of 1) a strategy for handling this crisis, i.e. relying on a military solution, and, 2) targets once it decided on a military strategy cannot both be criticized.

And I also think Lebanon is in many aspects a failed state.

8:07 AM  

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