Tuesday, July 25, 2006


BBC NEWS | Middle East | Gaza offensive 'disproportionate'

I don't have much patience with the idea of proportionality in war. What a silly concept.


jj mollo said...

Belmont Club has put forth some interesting speculation that all the news out of Lebanon is being orchestrated by Israel in order to provoke a disproportionate response from Hezbullah. Get them to stand and fight in the open.

The idea of Israel going in cold strikes me as crazy. Sorting the sheep from the goats is virtually impossible. I would have counseled a more indirect approach, like say, bombing Iranian oil infrastructure, and promising to bomb it again until the proxies behave.

Steve said...

I have an Iranian co-worker (25 years a US citizen) who was on vacation to Iran and then to Beirut to visit his son (a correspondent for a major US news weekly) when this war broke out. My co-worker hasn't been heard from since this thing started. I just hope he's OK.

I gather from him, and from what I read here and there, that the large majority of Iranians are natural allies of the West, and that the religious brownshirts running the place are a small minority in office essentially by force (elections notwithstanding).

I would not bomb Iranian oil infrastructure because it would damage the world economy, but more because it would alienate that majority of Iranians that are supposed to be natural allies of the west.

But what do I know? I think it's impossible to know what's really going on. One small example of why I feel that way was the complete contradiction between what the Ottawa Citizen reported on Thursday (hat tip Winds of Change) about the email from the dead Canadian UN observer, and a CNN report I watched yesterday.

The CNN account I watched on the boob tube was essentially the same story as at this CNN link:

U.N. Observer's observations
As Israel launches a full investigation into last night's air strike that killed four U.N. peacekeepers in South Lebanon, an email from a Canadian observer stationed at that very same U.N. outpost has surfaced online. The email is posted at Canada's CTV.ca.

In the email, the peacekeeper - Major Praeta Hess-von Kruedener - writes an urgent, first-hand account of life in the crossfire between Hezbollah and the Israeli Defense Forces. He says that his position at Khiyam was under daily fire and that it was not safe for his group to "conduct normal patrol activities."

The implication is that the Israelis are acting against the UN.

In contrast, the Ottawa Citizen piece implies that the Israelis were acting against Hezbollah fighters using the UN as shields. They quote the email from the dead Canadian:

"The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters (sic) of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters (sic) from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but rather due to tactical necessity."

The implication in "due to tactical necessity" is that Hezbollah is using the UN as shields and the Israelis are not acting against the UN.

The CNN report on the boob tube quoted the part of the Canadian's email that referred to the 2 meters and the 100 meters, but not the part about tactical necessity that completely changed the interpretation. Was the last part a veiled fabrication? Maybe the Canadian was really an Israeli agent.

Seriously though, I know it's complicated, but it not complexity as much as spin and disinformation that make it impossible to have any confidence in what I think (or what anybody else says) is going on.

So what else is new?

No, I think that I would not bomb Iranian oil infrastructure unless we were going to go all the way, at which point separating the sheep from the goats as you put it would be irrelevant.