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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Is there A Contradiction In US Support of Israel and Humanitarian Relief to Lebanon?

The title link takes you to the other side of this issue. Several bloggers visit this site (Nicho, Beltway, Ellie, and laurie when she has time), and we have enjoyed some interesting debates and discussions with many more to come. Please visit and join in, we would love to have you. Spread the word to all of your reasonable friends ( I guess the unreasonable are welcome as well) and visit their sites often.
Now, on to the point:

The scream of the week is how the US gives missiles to Israel and food to Lebanon. Some see this as a contradiction and an absurd policy. I personally see where both actions are legitimate, and good policy.

According to many, and everyone on the left (at least last week, this week is apparently different), Hezbollah is not Lebanon. There is a distinction between the terrorist group and the civilian population. So, presuming this is true, then Israel has no beef with the Lebanese people, but with the unwanted residents to comprise Hezbollah.

So, Israel must defend herself, and violence is directed toward Hezbollah. Lebanese civilians are impacted, many suffering, and the US sends aid to them while at the same time supporting and assisting Israel. I see this as perfectly legitimate. There are people suffering, and we assist them. What is the difference between this, and a military medic treating a civilian who was injured when their city was the site of a military operation? The military isn't targeting civilians, and we treat people who need medical help.

I think the same thing is happening here. I think it is good policy, and I think we should give more than the $30 million. It won't go far, and we had more than that in fraud the first day of the FEMA giveaway in New Orleans.

8 Posts From Readers:

The Beltway B@stard said...

I'm dedicating a portion of my Monday post on this - I'll link to this post, then let the debate continue.

On another note - your page is loading immediately for me now - which is a good sign.

Obob said...

Very well put, common sense dictates any missles would end up in Hezbollahs' hands

TM said...


Hezbollah is not Lebanon. There is a distinction between the terrorist group and the civilian population.

Lebanese civilians are impacted,...

This may be slightly off topic, but I think it needs to be addressed. I think that we are using a false "civillians vs soldiers" definition here. We pretend there is a clear distinction, but there isn't any real clear distinction, with professional armies with uniforms and orgainzed units being replaced by nebulous terrorist organizations that deliberately attempt to blend with civillians and wear civillian clothes and who rely on civillian support. Alan Dershowitz has a very good article about this. Some excerpts are as follows:

THE NEWS IS filled these days with reports of civilian casualties, comparative civilian body counts and criticism of Israel, along with Hezbollah, for causing the deaths, injuries and "collective punishment" of civilians. But just who is a "civilian" in the age of terrorism, when militants don't wear uniforms, don't belong to regular armies and easily blend into civilian populations?

We need a new vocabulary to reflect the realities of modern warfare. A new phrase should be introduced into the reporting and analysis of current events in the Middle East: "the continuum of civilianality." Though cumbersome, this concept aptly captures the reality and nuance of warfare today and provides a more fair way to describe those who are killed, wounded and punished.

There is a vast difference — both moral and legal — between a 2-year-old who is killed by an enemy rocket and a 30-year-old civilian who has allowed his house to be used to store Katyusha rockets. Both are technically civilians, but the former is far more innocent than the latter. There is also a difference between a civilian who merely favors or even votes for a terrorist group and one who provides financial or other material support for terrorism.

Finally, there is a difference between civilians who are held hostage against their will by terrorists who use them as involuntary human shields, and civilians who voluntarily place themselves in harm's way in order to protect terrorists from enemy fire.

Anyway, I recomend you read his article. Dershowitz says it better than I can. One thing I am becoming concerned about is that the international laws and the laws of war seem to be less concerned with actually reducing the level of barbarity in conflict, and instead seem more to be used simply to hamper and obstruct legitimate nation states from protecting themselves and thier civillians from terrorists and their sympathizers. The laws of war were never meant to make it difficult for us to defend ourselves. They were meant to reward fighting within the laws of war and decency, and punish those who fought outside those boundaries.

Simply put, the laws of war seemed like a great idea in the past, when countries like Nazi Germany and the U.S. were fighting. However, I do not get the same feeling about these laws now.

I am sure there are all sorts of arguements against my position. Some will say "we don't want to become what we are fighting. If we adopt brutal methods, we will become just like them."

I don't buy it. I don't think we have ever been in danger of becoming like our enemies just because we used as much force as we could to defeat our enemies. We carpet bombed city after city in WWII and we didn't become like the Nazis or Imperial Japanese and start up death camps. And the same goes for me. I'm a happy go lucky sort of guy, more goofy than anything. Yet if I am at a bar, or walking home and some lowlife bottom feeder decides he wants to attack or rob me, well I feel no moral qualms at all about doing whatever it takes to survive. And if that means litterally ripping his throat out and killing him to do so, well, after all is said and done, I'll do that. Will I wish it hadn't come to that? Yes, but I won't let my wishes get in the way of doing whatever it takes to make it home. And afterwards? I'm going to go right back to my happy go lucky ways, and I won't start lurking in alleyways looking to rob people.

Sorry. This post got a little long. I'll cut it off now.

Very respectfully,


Robert said...

TM, post as long as you wish. I have read some of Dershowitz lately, and he articulates some excellent points.

I am in substantial agreement with your position. There isn't much difference, and despite what people will tell you, the majority of Lebanese support Hezbollah. The most important part of a terrorist group is the "passive support" that they receive.

In the police academy, officers are taught that when they use force to strike a blow as hard as possible. This isn't to encourage brutality or violence, but it actually limmits the engagement. One good, hard, strong blow to stop the threat is much more effective, and less damaging to a person than softer, and repeated blows.

I think the same logic can apply here. A repeated pattern of short artillery duals year after year kills more people than one prolonged engagement that might actually show results.

Beltway, looking forward to your post.

TM said...

This isn't to encourage brutality or violence, but it actually limmits the engagement. One good, hard, strong blow to stop the threat is much more effective, and less damaging to a person than softer, and repeated blows.

I think this is very similar to the difference between President Johnson's air campaign called "Rolling Thunder" and President Nixon's air campaign callled "Linebacker."

Johnson's had this absurd notion of slowly ratcheting up the pressure on the N. Vietnamese and was a fiasco.

Nixon's took the position of hitting as hard as possible right away. Nixon's was much more effective.

Yeah, I know that we still lost the war, but none-the-less, Nixon's was a much more effective way of getting concessions from the N. Vietnamese in the negotiations.

Or to use a more down home example, if someone tries to mug you, you don't hit back only as hard as he hits you. You go all out to knock him out as fast as possible. You certainly don't ratchet it up slowly.

Very respectfully,


Robert said...

TM, I am laughung about Kitt and the posts. I had my rounds before giving up, and even Nicho got fed up with it. You are funny.

Once in a while I pull Kitt's chain, just because. Speaking of ratcheting up the pressure, I haven't done that in a while....BRB

Robert said...

If you haven't dropped in to Beltway's site, or Ellie's site, please do so. The debate is much like the one here, but they seem to draw comments from the liberal side. I only seem to get them when I irritate someone enough.

The Beltway B@stard said...

Stirring the pot is what it should be all about.

I'll admitt that Hezbollah really is receiving passive civilian support in their operations. How much of that passive civilian support is actually willing support though?

Really, give me a link or two so I can better educate myself to formulate a more leftist response, and make it seem like I'm trying to irritate someone ;)

The Dershowitz article was good, but it fell short of offering proof positive to what this civilian support really is. I rather believe that, had someone taken the time to help the Lebanese Government strengthen their role as rulers, it would have been far easier and less violent to root out and put an end to Hezbollah.

This passive support is partially strong arm tactics by Hezbollah and part actual civilian support. But there is another part I haven't heard anyone mention yet - that Hezbollah provides the only government services for that section of the population/country while the Lebanese Government, in it's current weakened state is providing nothing.

If your government suddenly left you out to dry, and your only option for putting food on your table or seeking urgent health care for your family came from some other less-than-sparkling source - what would you do?

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