Thursday, July 27, 2006

Moral Equivalency

Gary Varvel illustrates the witlessness of trying to equate the deaths of civilians at the hands of the Israelis with the deaths of civilians at the hands of their Muslim enemies:

And here's Chip Bok's meditation on the same subject:

And this at Michelle's:

The Silence of the Blogs

Andrew Sullivan notes the stunning silence on left wing blogs over the war in Lebanon and speculates about the reasons for it.

For my part, I suspect that the southpaw bloggers are reluctant to talk about the war for a couple of reasons. First, posting about the war would unleash a flood of commentary from their readers, many of whom are virulently anti-semitic. The lefties who run the blogs realize that triggering the hateful rhetoric likely to spew from this reptilian element of their readership would be a PR disaster. Second, there's no really good argument against what Israel is doing and the bloggers would make fools of themselves if they tried to criticize it. But, third, they can't take a position supporting Israel because that would put them in bed with George Bush and that's a circumstance too repugnant to contemplate. Not only would they be alienating a sizable chunk of their base - the antisemites and Bush haters - by having to share the mattress with Bush but they'd also be ineluctably led by the logic of their position to generally agree with his views on the larger war on terror.

The Israeli/Hezbollah war is thus a philosophical minefield for the left, and for the most part they're seeing the wisdom of just ignoring it. It's unprincipled, to be sure, but then we are talking here about the secular left.

Bint Jubayl

Bill Roggio discusses the battle of Bint Jubayl at CounterTerrorism Blog:

As the smoke clears from the fighting in the Lebanese border town of Bint Jubayl, Hezbollah's military capabilities become clearer. Today, 8 Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade's 51st Battalion were killed and 22 wounded during a "well-planned Hezbollah ambush on the outskirts" outside of Bint Jubayl. This follows the 4 killed and 18 wounded during Sunday's engagement in the town.

Hezbollah was reported to have suffered 150 killed as of this morning, and another 40 killed in today's action after fighting "gun battles at point-blank range." An unnamed American military officer reports several Hezbollah operatives, whose primary purpose is logistical support, have been captured and are currently being interrogated by Israeli intelligence.

The Hezbollah bunker in Bint Jubayl was taken nearly intact. Hezbollah attempted to destroy the equipment in the bunker, but was not successful in destroying it all, according to an intelligence source. Abu Jaafar, the Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon, may have killed himself rather than being captured. The Israeli troops seized Hezbollah computers, documents and monitoring devices used to observe the Israeli border, in addition to the "electronic surveillance equipment, weapons and communication devices made in Iran" which was reported yesterday. The bunker served as the equivalent of a Hezbollah headquarters and command and control center for the southern border.

The Israelis targeted the town of Bint Jubayl with the hope of obtaining further intelligence on Hezbollah's organization and capabilites, as well as the location of their two captured soldiers. The documents and computer seized by the IDF may outline Hezbollah's command and organizational structure in southern Lebanon, although this is unknown at this time. Israeli intelligence is currently analyzing the data.

The Israelis have confirmed that Hezbollah is fighting like a professional military. Their units are fighting at the company level at the least (Unit size of approximately 100 men), and perhaps in larger formations. Intelligence also confirms there is specialization within the Hezbollah units, including trained infantry, mortar teams, missile squads, and logistical personal. Iran has trained and organized Hezbollah's army into something far more deadly than a militia force. Hezbollah's core 'active' army is estimated at 3,000 - 5,000, with as many as 50,000 part time militia and support personnel that can be called upon to fight (20,000 is the average estimate).

Intelligence sources also have confirmed that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have indeed been killed during the fighting in Bint Jubayl.

The Lebanese coastal city of Tyre (also referred to as Sour) has "has steadily fallen more and more under Hezbollah's influence since the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and rocket launchers in the city are hitting the city of Haifa and the northern Israeli towns. Israeli air strikes have been focusing on the city, but a steady barrage of about 100 missiles continue to fall in Israeli territory each day.

The Israeli government is signaling their plan to combat Hezbollah is to establish a 1-2 kilometer security buffer along the border and accept international peace keepers without explicitly requiring Hezbollah to disarm in accordance to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559. This would give Hezbollah a monumental political and propaganda victory, while allowing Hezbollah's army the time and space it needs to rearm, train and improve their tactics for the next battle with the Israeli Defense Force.

This is why Israelis are saying that the war will continue for several more weeks. Either Hezbollah does not survive or ultimately Israel will not survive.

There's more analysis at DebkaFile.


Front Page Mag has an interview by Jamie Glazov with Douglas Murray, author of Neoconservatism: Why We Need It. Murray has a number of interesting things to say about neoconservatism, among them is the distinction between liberals, traditional conservatives, and neo-cons.

The latter, according to Murray, see the world as it is and feel a duty to make it what it should be. Traditional conservatives (sometimes called Paleo-cons) see the world as it is and want to isolate themselves from it. Liberals, unfortunately, lack the capacity to see the world as it is.

Murray also ventures to identify some of those who fall into the neo-conservative mold:

Of the sustained neocons, none is a better example than Tony Blair. His axiom before the Iraq war on toppling dictators 'When you can, you should' seems to me a perfect neoconservative expression. But, that said, he is not remotely a neocon on domestic matters (which I go into at some length in my book) - not even on the domestic war on terror. It's purely a foreign policy thing with him.

There are of course a number of writers who I would say are great examples of neoconservative thinking. From very different directions, Christopher Hitchens and Charles Krauthammer spring to mind. But again it's worth pointing out that whenever you get more than one neoconservative in a room they're as likely to disagree as agree with each other. It's not a doctrine or fraternity - simply a way of looking at the world which, in my opinion, is particularly relevant to the world in which we live.

In answer to a question about why he thinks we need neoconservatism (from the title of his book) he replies:

Because the West is getting lost. Not just the Western way of life - which is increasingly becoming little more than a 'lifestyle choice'. But lost in the sense that it is forgetting what it believes in and therefore why it should even believe in itself. A combination of historical ignorance and moral posturing has led to what Ratzinger called the 'dictatorship of relativism'. In this situation moral clarity - which is one of the things neoconservatism provides - is desperately lacking. And I think this situation is dangerous. Dangerous because into this vacuum any of the worst creeds can stalk. Relativism's descent into nihilism is not the end of the problem. It is the beginning of it.

Regarding the war in Lebanon he speaks with refreshing good sense:

We must emphasise that parity does not exist when there is a war between a democratic state and a terror organisation. This is something that large swathes of the media - and the UN - simply cannot understand. Such a conflict is not a 50/50 event. And the scales do not tip against Israel because Israel has suffered fewer casualties to date. You do not decide who is right by affecting a body-count. Germany lost more troops than Great Britain in the last World War, but it didn't make Germany right. Would those who talk so idiotically of disproportionate response against Hezbollah be happier if more Katyushas were making direct hits on Israeli citizens?

Any decent person must emphasise that this is a conflict between free people and terrorists - an army that does everything it can to limit civilian casualties and an organisation whose aim is to maximise civilian casualties. Between two such sides no equivalence can be made.

The battle will - and must - be over only when Hezbollah's weaponry of terror is entirely destroyed. Neither the US nor any other ally of Israel should demand a ceasefire at any date before the time of Israel's choosing. If they do demand it, Israel should ignore it. A ceasefire which returns us to the status-quo ante would be a temporary ceasefire which would make the sufferings of recent weeks and months not just pointless, but perpetual.

The conflict currently going on is a local version of the war in which we are all engaged. Trace back just one step, in Iraq, Lebanon, London or New York, and you get the same story, and the same ring-leaders. Israel's war is our war, and we should be proud that at least one of our allies is successfully fighting this war for us as well as for themselves. Victory for Israel against Hezbollah will be a victory for all free peoples, not least the people of Lebanon.

Please read the whole interview at the link. It's worth the time.