Waiting For the Right Moment

The U.S. is dodging its responsibility to work for peace in the world.Bush Sees Clearly

In spite of the Bush administration’s dimwitted foreign policy over the past six years, the United States remains the only country with the right combination of moral authority and actual muscle to talk some sense into the various factions that threaten the security of the world. Maybe it’s just my hippie penchant for trying to get along, but it seems to me that with those attributes comes the reponsibility not to look the other way.

It’s a very small world these days, and everybody’s got rockets and bombs and people who don’t mind dying for the cause, and hey – we’ve seen what a bunch of fanatic amateur pilots can do with a jetliner, so maybe it’s in our best interest to at least ask for restraint when a couple of hotheaded youngsters start going at it. We could get smacked in the back of the head while we are looking the other way.

For a week now, Israel has been bombing Lebanon, and Hizbollah has been shooting rockets into Israel. 300 people are dead, ninety percent of them civilians, the Lebanese infrastructure is being destroyed and the largest emergency evacuation since Dunkirk is under way, and there is no American diplomat over there knocking on the door saying “Hey! What are you guys doing?”

In fact, our President, the Compassionate Decider, was heard to say today “Sometimes it requires tragic situations to help bring clarity in the international community.” This nincompoop, this international laughingstock, this wannabe cowboy has actually mistaken himself for a wise elder statesman, and he is dispensing his wisdom to the world, while real leaders everywhere plead desperately for calm.

I wonder how tragic he wants it to get. In his soon-to-be-famous Mouthful-of-Dinner-Roll speech the other day, he told the Prime Minister of Great Britain (“Blair”) “…I think Condi’s going over there soon.” Today she said she’s not going until there is a chance of a long-term solution. Or when pigs fly, whichever occurs first. Maybe there’s a number they are considering, of deaths and dismemberments. Maybe there’s a dollar figure for rebuilding Lebanon, and they don’t want to act until that magic number is achieved.

Bush and Rice need to speak quickly and forcefully, to let the factions know this is unacceptable behavior, and the United States is willing to help broker a cease-fire. Tell the victims’ family members that we’re waiting for things to get real tragic, so we can have clarity. There is no time in the future that will be better than right now to start trying to heal the current mess in the middle east.

TODAY’S BONUS LINK: President Bush gropes German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Hey, chicks love this stuff, right?

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21 Replies to “Waiting For the Right Moment”

  1. It’s hard to convince terroist to do anything. It’s not like dealing with formal governments – you can suggest, but you can’t make demands and where do you start the blockade?

  2. Mushy – Yes, terrorists are hard to deal with. Impossible if you refuse even to talk. I’m saying I want to see some action. The Bushies are just as paralyzed now as they were last year while people were drowning, starving and shooting each other in New Orleans.

  3. I think this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve been avoiding the news on purpose. I seriously can’t take it.

    Did you hear Condi say that “she wouldn’t know what to be shuttling for, so she’s not going to shuttle at all?” — Or something like that.

    I was thinking — How ’bout a little shuttling that may stop them from killing each other? Did that ever occur to you?

    My husband has been saying “They’re going to kill us all” for years now.

    I think he’s right.

  4. If memory serves, it is written in the constitution of the Hezbollah that they are to “push the Israelies into the sea.” Until that happens, they would not stop.

    Till today, the Hezbollah has launched over 2000 unguided rockets (with 40 lb High Explosive warheads) into Israeli cities packed with civilians. These Russian-made Katyushas rockets were made for the purpose of firing upon concentrations of massed troops on the battlefield. The Hezbollahs use them to lob warheads indiscriminately into civilian populations. One is tactical use, the other is terrorism. Big difference.

    The Hezbollah started this mess by crossing into Israel and kidnapping Isralie soldiers. The Hezbollah continue this mess by continuing to fire rockets at Israel.

    Israel possesses her sovereign right–and duty–to defend herself. There is no compromise, truce or appeasement with an enemy bent on your destruction.

    In other news, Hezbollah also considers USA an enemy:

    Like al Qaeda, Hezbollah has a deep hatred of the US. Its 1985 constitution described the US as “an arrogant superpower” and a Hezbollah communiqué of the same year referred to the US as the “original root of depravity”. More recently, following Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004, and his successor Abdel Aziz Rantisi the following month, Hezbollah released statements arguing that “the American administration, which provides cover, both moral and political, as well as material support to the murderous government in Tel Aviv, has direct responsibility for this crime”.

    http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=122004C

    Other thoughts:

    Deterrence, by its very nature, means a disproportionate response. Examine the penal code as an example.

    There is such a thing as a “justifiable war.” Appeasement and compromise do not always work.

    Stay well,

  5. Ben – Thank you for your well-considered response. Please note that I called upon the Bush administration to try to stop the killing, so you don’t really need to tell me who is firing what at whom, as that wasn’t the point of my post, and I am well aware of what’s going on over there. I do agree with one statement in your comment, though: The U.S. certainly qualifies as “an arrogant superpower.”

    But I reject the concept of justifiable war. If you accept that there can be such a thing, you are assuring that there will be. If you can figure out some way to justify an attack on me, I can justify an attack on you, and off we march to the eternal battlefield. The winner may write the history books, but we both thought we were justified at the time, right?

    War is not just the ultimate failure of diplomacy. It is the ultimate failure of humanity. The proliferation of nuclear technology, the ready availablity of rockets, plastique, nerve gas and bio-weapons, the willingness of a whole generation to blow themselves up for their faith and their country are all signposts on the road to hell. Those who cannot rise above their hatred and their need for vengeance will one day kill us all. There can be no peace if all of us must demonstrate with mayhem that we will not be fucked with.

    I don’t care who is right or who is wrong. It’s time to defy our barbaric nature and rise above this endless, mindless cycle of death and destruction.

  6. Hello Larry,

    Thank you for including me in this discussion.

    But I reject the concept of justifiable war. If you accept that there can be such a thing, you are assuring that there will be. If you can figure out some way to justify an attack on me, I can justify an attack on you, and off we march to the eternal battlefield. The winner may write the history books, but we both thought we were justified at the time, right?

    That, is the ultimate end of the belief of relativism. That values are relative; ethics are relative; right and wrong are relative. It was wrong for the Third Reich to exterminate 6 million Jews in World War II. It was right for the Allies to attack the Nazis. The Nazis can never be justified in attacking and annexing other countries. Japan can never be justified in bombing Pearl Habor. The Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944 can always be justified. Relativism is simply sitting on a rock, twiddling thumbs, and hoping everyone will smoke the peace pipe. It’s not going to happen.

    A joint book between a secular philosopher and the Pope touches upon how relativism derives from the rejection of the existence of universal values.

    Excerpts:

    http://tinyurl.com/j4lds

    A refusal to care who is right and who is wrong ultimately results in paralysis and the inability to commit and correct the situation. Israel simply wants to be left alone. The constitution of the Hezbollah mandates the destruction of Israel–and they not only follow it, but continue to do so. There can be no compromise, no appeasement here. Not to be harsh, but righteousness is on the side of Israel. She was provoked and continues to be provoked; thus Lebanon continues to bear the consequences. A cease-fire will only allow the Hezbollah to build up their stockpile of rockets and missiles again. At the beginning of this conflict, the Hezbollah possessed over 12,000 Katyushas rockets (among other, more powerful, longer range missiles). They have launched about 2000 so far. Thwarting Israel’s efforts in destroying these stockpiles would only mean a resurgence of the same conflict later–and ultimately a greater overall body count.

    Stay well,

  7. Ben – Your argument doesn’t work because you first toss out the straw man of “relativism,” as if that is what I was talking about (it is not), and then you proceed to attack relativism, which is not the discussion. My point is that the killing and maiming must stop. If you want to debate, debate my real position, not a made-up one. Where is your defense of an organization (the army) that seeks to master the most horrific and efficient ways of slaughtering human beings?

    You’re seeing only transitory goals: destroying stockpiles, terrifying a population into submission, “deterring” terrorists, etc. What you’re not seeing, and what the human race is not seeing, is that violence begets violence. Do you think Hezbollah, which, after all, is really only an idea, can be destroyed? You’d have to kill every Shiite in the world, and stand guard over all their non-Shiite friends and relatives by marriage for five hundred years, and even then, when your back is turned, the idea would crop up again, because you can’t kill an idea, and someone would try to right the wrong you have committed. And they would do that by attacking you and trying to kill you.

    But since you want to talk about relativism, I call bullshit. It is the moral certainty that my side is right, that God is on my side, that you are evil, that makes it possible for me to dehumanize you, to shoot you, to rape your women, to enslave your children. Do you think the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were relativists? They had strong and incontrovertible moral values, and they acted on them.

    As I have said here before, the world is a more and more dangerous place. I think it’s time for us – all of us – to try to find our commonalities and learn to live together before we kill each other. If “the other side” won’t do it, I’m not too stubborn to go first. I call again for my country to be the one to lead the way.

  8. I think it’s time for us – all of us – to try to find our commonalities and learn to live together before we kill each other.

    You cannot live together with an adversary whose constitution plainly stipulates your destruction as its goal. Israel is acting in self-defence. Where was the outrage when the Hezbollah was firing rockets into Israel all those years prior to this?

  9. Do you think Hezbollah, which, after all, is really only an idea, can be destroyed? You’d have to kill every Shiite in the world, and stand guard over all their non-Shiite friends and relatives by marriage for five hundred years, and even then, when your back is turned, the idea would crop up again, because you can’t kill an idea, and someone would try to right the wrong you have committed. And they would do that by attacking you and trying to kill you.

    Again, it is in the Hezbollah constutition to destroy Israel. Surrender is not an option. Neither is a compromise (What? Let them destroy 1/4? 1/2?)

    But since you want to talk about relativism, I call bullshit. It is the moral certainty that my side is right, that God is on my side, that you are evil, that makes it possible for me to dehumanize you, to shoot you, to rape your women, to enslave your children. Do you think the Nazis and Imperial Japanese were relativists? They had strong and incontrovertible moral values, and they acted on them.

    Moral certainty is a universal concept. It is the conviction that there exist universal values that applue across the board, across cultures, societies, nations, time and space. It is immoral to subject human beings to forced medical experiments. That one should not enslave another human being is another moral certainty. It doesn’t matter if you are a slave under pharaoh, or a slave in Africa today. It is wrong. The same thing goes for raping women, unjustified shooting of people, etc. How you can equate moral values with these abhominal acts is beyond me.

    It is disingenuous to portray the Nazis and Imperial Japanese as universalists. Their acts of invasion, annexation, genocide, and torture were certainly not based on universal moral values. Yes, each of them thought they were in the right. Isn’t that the position of relativists? “Oh, he’s right. She’s right. The one over there is also right. We are all right! Group hug!” But neither the Nazis nor the Imperial Japanese were right. They were proven wrong by the force of moral goodness–of a universal belief that countries should be secure from unwarranted aggression from their neighbors; that human beings deserve to be protected against being systematically experimented upon and/or slaughtered. If it is one thing relativists lack, it is moral rectitude.

    Where is your defense of an organization (the army) that seeks to master the most horrific and efficient ways of slaughtering human beings?

    I don’t intend to. I am pro-military.

  10. Ben – Your worldview is touching, and I mean that sincerely. It is the childlike dream in my heart at Christmastime, when I am singing “Silent Night” and thinking to myself Peace on earth, good will toward men.

    Sadly, it’s not the way the world works, and when you think you are right without any doubt, when your philosophy can’t see – or can’t allow – anything different from itself, that is when you are ready to march under your flag, under your religious icons, and commit atrocities in their name.

    This has never worked to bring about lasting peace. Maybe that’s not what guys like you want, but it’s what I’d like to see.

    Toward that end I think it’s time we tried a different approach.

  11. Ben, Do you not realise that Israel holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners illegally? Palestinian children are arrested for throwing stones for godsake! And yet this current conflict is because of TWO Israeli soldiers being kidnapped . . . something doesn’t add up . . . the BBC reported today that ten Lebanese are being killed for every one Israeli. I don’t want anyone to get killed, Arab or Israeli, but there is something terribly sinister about how the whole drama has escalated. Everyone but USA & UK is screaming at Israel to stop. And now Israel’s using cluster bombs. nmj

  12. To all those asking for a proportional response to Israel’s defense in answer to aggressive rocket attacks and kidnappings–which predated and ignited this conflict–I have this to say: Give Jews 22 countries to call home as the Arab Muslims have.

    The root of this conflict is the goal of Islamists to create the 23rd Arab Muslim country–not beside, but in place of Israel. Let there be a 57-nation Jewish voting bloc in the United Nations to match the clout of the 57-nation Muslim voting bloc, which is holding the world hostage by refusing to define the word terrorist–let alone unite to disarm them.

    I’m not serious about giving Israel more countries and land. But I am hoping that someday the world will accept that Jews deserve one country to call their own. As visionary Theodore Herzl put it: “The promised land, where it is all right for us to have hooked noses, black or red beards and bandy legs without being despised for those things alone. Where at last we can live as free men on our own soil and die in peace in our own homeland. Where we, too, can expect honor as a reward for great deeds: where we shall live at peace with all the world, which we have freed through our own freedom enriched by our wealth and made greater by our greatness.”

    (Sheree Roth of Palo Alto, “Letters to the Editor,” San Francisco Chronicle, 24 July 2006)

    Take a look at a map of the Middle East. Compare the size of Israel with the surrounding Arab countries. I find it hard to believe Israel is the aggressor here. I maintain that Israel possesses her sovereign right to defend herself and her citizens. America would do no different if fractions in Mexico or Canada are launching rockets at cities across USA.

    At the beginning of this conflict, all the Hezbollah needed to do was to return the kidnapped soldiers and stop firing rockets into Israel. They didn’t. Now they are crying mommy? I’m sorry, but I am all out of sympathy right now.

    As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

  13. Oh dang, Angela Merkel was bushwacked! It must be another part of Bushie’s wonderfully far-sighted foreign policy. It was a pre-emptive strike against a groping that Putin’s plotting, no doubt.

  14. nmj,

    Thank you for the link.

    In any case Hizbullah kept telling the world how keen it was to return the soldiers in a prisoner swap.

    Just because the Hezbollah are keen on prisoner swap does not mean that Israel should acquiesce to it. She retains her sovereign right to exercise other options.

    Here is the Hezbollah admitting that they have bitten off more than they can chew with their latest antics:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060726/ap_on_re_mi_ea/mideast_fighting_hezbollah

    And why should Israel negotiate with an enemy whose constitution specifically states the destruction of Israel as one of its aims? Negotiations aren’t going to get the Hezbollah to rewrite their constitution. As I recall, Imperial Japan only got their constitution rewritten after being pounded into the ground.

    Early on July 12 Hizbullah launched a raid against an army border post, in what was in the best interpretation a foolhardy violation of Israeli sovereignty.

    That’s an apologist for the Hezbollah writing if I ever read one.

    Given Israel’s worldview that it alone has a right to project power and fear, that might have been expected.

    What about the Hezbollah?
    What about the “al-Nakba” war of 1948-1949, where Israel was invaded by Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia?
    What about the Yom Kippur War of 1973, where Egypt and Syria attacked Israel?

    Deterrence necessarily means a disproportionate response. “You kidnap two soldiers. I kidnap two soldiers. Talks. Prisoner exchange. Repeat. Repeat. Until the end of time.” No, it should not work that way. You come into my territory, kidnap my soldiers, injure others, rain rockets upon my civilians, I pound you into the ground.

    Israel just wants to be left alone.

    While harsh judgment is levied upon civilian casualties caused by Israel’s hunt for Hezbollah fighters, there is a curious lack of condemnation–and even apologism–for the Hezbollah rockets deliberately aimed at civilian populations.

    No one should have been surprised. Nasrallah was doing exactly what he had threatened to do if Israel refused to negotiate and chose the path of war instead.

    The writer has forgotten that the Hezbollah has already chosen the path to war.

    “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” (John F. Kennedy)

  15. From an e-mail sent 18 July by Maj Hess-von Kruedener (the Canadian soldier that lost his life) to CTV.ca.

    http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060718/mideast_lebanon_UN_060716/20060719/

    What I can tell you is this: we have on a daily basis had numerous occasions where our position has come under direct or indirect fire from both artillery and aerial bombing. The closest artillery has landed within 2 meters of our position and the closest 1000 lb aerial bomb has landed 100 meters from our patrol base. This has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity.

    Look at that last sentence. He is obviously trying to say, without violatating the neutrality of UNTSO, that Hizballah was firing from within meters of his post. Let me repeat, “meters,” and for days at that.

    And check out this UNINFIL press release.

    http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/missions/unifil/pr010.pdf

    It was also reported that Hezbollah fired from the vicinity of four UN positions at Alma ash Shab, Tibnin, Brashit, and At Tiri.

    If you put this together it is pretty obvious that Hizballah is violating the neutrality of the UN positions by intermingling their forces around them. As a result, UN peacekeepers, some of them unarmed like Maj Hess-von Kruedener, are dying for it.

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