"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Peace and security for me, but not for thee; or, the Israeli double-standard

Two days ago, Israeli commandos and naval forces intercepted an "aid flotilla" bound for the Gaza Strip, currently under blockade by Israel and Egypt because its government insists on wiping one of its neighbors from the face of the earth, its propensity for launching rockets into Jewish towns and cities, and general overall suckiness. In the course of this interception mission, the IDF fired on some of the "peace activists", killing 9. Barely had the last bullet casing hit the deck than the usual round of furious condemnations issued forth from Arab and European halls of power about proportionality, Israeli aggression, inhumane occupation, drinking the blood of Arab children, etc. It would seem that Israel has, indeed, made at least a big public relations blunder in having to explain why nine people died on what should have been an exercise in non-lethal force.

The court of international opinion having already condemned Israel, an "impartial" U.N. investigation seems impossible, though I'm idlely curious as to its findings about the peace activists and the contents of the aid flotilla's cargo holds. Perhaps it will publicize the IDF's ROE, which evidentally treated the interception as the non-lethal exercise they were expecting; the commandos were armed with paintball-type weapons for crowd control, and only had pistols for self-defense should they be needed. Perhaps it will note that as soon as the commandos set foot on the ship, they were attacked by a peace-loving mob wielding knives, iron bars, and possibly firearms of their own. Perhaps it will note that the IDF soldiers were beaten, trampled, stabbed, and thrown down several decks by the aid workers; one or two even jumped over the side to save their lives. Perhaps it will note that it was only after the mob had grabbed several of the commandos' pistols and opened fire that the order was given to shoot back, which resulted in the deaths so loudly lamented by the international community. Perhaps it will also note that the "aid flotilla" was bankrolled by a group with connections to multiple terrorist organizations (http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/terror-finance-flotilla), which means that perhaps not everyone on board was a simple humanitarian.

The investigation's sure to be a wash, I know. I'd say one can hope, but when it comes to Israel, the U.N., and the international community at large, I'm past hoping for anything resembling rational and just decision-making. One can argue that Israel might have chosen alternative means of intercepting the convoy - I'm not an expert in naval tactics, so better ways might exist - but given that virtually any and every action Israel ever takes in its own self-defense is excoriated, I doubt anything short of letting the ships dock and helping Hamas unload and set up the rocket launchers would satisfy Israel's foes. Calls for "proportionality" will echo from the General Assembly, but they generally demonstrate less a true understanding of proportionality in combat (http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/proportionality-in-warfare) than the not-so-subtle desire that Israel simply stop defending herself.

Oh, and it's interesting to note that while Israeli soldiers are crucified for defending themselves after getting attacked with re-bars, North Korea gets a pass for killing 47 sailors and sinking a ship in what is, traditionally, an act of war. Cricket, cricket....

1 comment:

Winefred said...

Guess the Israelis were all hoping to win one of those "Courageous Restraint" medals we've all heard about, since they boarded the ship with paintball guns -- can't think of a better daffynition of what the whole "courageous restraint" fantasy is about. Or, as the President might express it in Chicago-ese, "When they bring a gun to a fight, make sure you only bring a knife which you wave around threateningly, while you figure out WHOSE ASS TO KICK."