Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What's the Difference?

Ivan Eland has a column worth reading on why Israel's war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza don't get the attention that other crimes and acts of terrorism get, such as those committed by Saddam Hussein.
In fact, the main difference between Saddam's war crimes and Israel's is that while Saddam denies them, Israeli officials indirectly admit them. Amnesty cites a comment by Israel's top uniformed military official that implied that Israel was trying to punish the Lebanese population and government to get them to oppose Hezbollah. The group noted that Israeli military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz called Hezbollah a "cancer" that Lebanon must expunge "because if they don't, their country will pay a very high price."
Eland concludes:
To justify its ill-advised invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration regularly gripes about Saddam Hussein's war crimes, while cheering on Israel as it does the same thing in Lebanon and Gaza, just using different weapons.
Read the rest here.

Hat tip: Anthony Gregory

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thought for the Day

[M]eaning something is a matter of intending....
Thus in a mere seven words, Anthony Kenny, the Aquinas and Wittgenstein scholar, disposes of materialism and determinism. (The rest of the book shows why mind/body dualism is not a viable alternative.)

Source: The Metaphysics of Mind (Oxford Paperback, 1989, 21).

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Wag the Tail

There is increasing evidence that Israel instigated a disastrous war on Lebanon largely at the behest of the United States. The Bush administration was set on crippling Hezbollah, the radical Shiite political movement that maintains a sizable block of seats in the Lebanese parliament. Taking advantage of the country's democratic opening after the forced departure of Syrian troops last year, Hezbollah defied U.S. efforts to democratize the region on American terms. The populist party's unwillingness to disarm its militia as required by UN resolution--and the inability of the pro-Western Lebanese government to force them to do so--led the Bush administration to push Israel to take military action.

In his May 23 summit with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President George W. Bush offered full U.S. support for Israel to attack Lebanon as soon as possible. Seymour Hersh, in the August 21 New Yorker, quotes a Pentagon consultant on the Bush administration's longstanding desire to strike "a preemptive blow against Hezbollah." The consultant added, "It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have someone else doing it."
When it is reported that Israel manipulates the U.S. government, Israelists get offended. What do they say when it is reported that the U.S. government manipulates Israel? I recommend the rest of Stephen Zunes's column at Alternet.org.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Conservatives and the Courts

It is always amusing to watch conservatives react to court decisions they don’t like. They were firmly in character last week when Federal District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruled that the Bush administration broke the law and violated the Constitution when it began wiretapping, without warrants, international phone calls between Americans and “suspected terrorists.”

She’s a Carter appointee, they said. She’s a liberal. What did you expect?

It doesn’t take much to see that this is not a refutation of Judge Taylor’s ruling. It is misdirection.
Read the rest of this week's op-ed at The Future of Freedom Foundation's website.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Israel's Manipulation of the Public

From Larry C. Johnson on Alternet.org:
Witness what happens when a reporter tells the public that Israel was trying to manipulate public perceptions during the recent invasion of Lebanon:
Kurtz: One other note. On Reliable Sources two weeks ago, "Washington Post" Pentagon reporter Tom Ricks said he'd been told by U.S. military analysts that Israel was leaving some Hezbollah rocket launchers intact because the killing of Israeli civilians provided an image of moral equivalency in the war. "Post" editor Len Downie, responding to a letter from former New York mayor, Ed Koch, says he told Ricks he should not have made those statements.
Ricks told the New York Sun that he accurately reported the comments from analysts but that, quote, "I wish I hadn't said them, and I intend from now on to keep my mouth shut about it."
Keep his mouth shut? Why?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Polarization Needed

When Sen. Joseph Lieberman lost his Connecticut Democratic primary to an anti-war candidate, he used his concession speech to decry the politics of polarization. This was hypocritical because the war hawks, Lieberman included, have gone far in suggesting that criticism of the war policy is tantamount to assisting terrorists.

But even if no hypocrisy were involved, the abhorrence of polarization would be absurd. The Bush administration, with Lieberman’s vigorous support, occupies Iraq and has facilitated Israel’s assault on Lebanon. If that doesn’t call for a politics of polarization, what would?
The rest of my op-ed is here at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Constitution Within

In recent columns I've argued that a free society depends ultimately on people having a proper sense of just conduct. This means more than the words they recite or put on paper. Most crucial is how they act and expect others to act. For this reason it is futile to put undue emphasis on written constitutions as the key to liberty. The real constitution is within -- each of us. If the freedom philosophy is not inscribed in the actions of people, no constitution will help.
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Who Wanted Peace? Who Wanted War?

Here's another of my articles from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, again from 1991. It demonstrates the falsehood of the claim that Arabs have never been interested in peace with Israel (until and with the exception of Egypt in 1979:
"These are the myths and lies that Americans hear and read day after day," wrote New York Times columnist A. M. Rosenthal in June.

"Israel blocks peace. Israel will not negotiate with the Arabs or give an inch to Palestinians. " Those myths, Rosenthal wrote, distort several realities of Arab-Israeli relations:

"One is that Israel has been saying yes to peace talks with Arabs decade after decade—as Anwar El-Sadat proved, to Egypt's everlasting gain. Second reality: for all those decades every other Arab nation refused to make peace, refused to talk ....

In fact, it takes an enormous evasion of reality to believe this. Arab leaders have repeatedly tried to make peace. Even Egyptian President Sadat's famous effort in late 1977 was not his first. He made a significant peace overture in 1971 and was rebuffed. But neither was Sadat's earlier offer the first from Egypt. His predecessor, Gamal Abdul Nasser, made "a major effort for a settlement with Israel" in the spring of 1955. The words are those of Elmore Jackson, a Quaker representative to the United Nations, and the go-between in Nasser's initiative.

Jackson wrote about what could have been an historic breakthrough in his 1983 book, Middle East Mission: The Story of a Major Bid for Peace in the Time of Nasser and Ben-Gution. That little book alone refutes Rosenthal and anyone else who blindly chants, as though it were a mantra, that the Arabs have always wanted to destroy Israel.

In April 1955, the Egyptian ambassador to Washington and a friend of President Nasser's, Dr. Ahmed Hussein, asked the Quakers to inquire whether grounds for a settlement with Israel could be found. Jackson met with Egyptian officials first, then with Israelis, including then Prime Minister Moshe Sharett.

The Egyptians' terms included some repatriation of Palestinian refugees, compensation for those unwilling or unable to return, and boundary adjustments to link the Arab communities. Sharett's response was generally favorable, and each side regarded the other as serious. "Our meeting closed with his saying he would go anywhere to talk to President Nasser—even to Cairo," Jackson wrote. "He [Sharett] said, 'Nasser is a decent fellow who has the interest of his people genuinely at heart. "'In conversations with Nasser, Jackson learned that Egyptian leaders had conducted informal discussions with the Israeli government after Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion retired and Sharett succeeded him in 1953. But the discussions broke off when Ben-Gurion returned to the cabinet as defense minister and Israel resumed attacks against Palestinian guerrillas and Egyptian soldiers in the Gaza Strip. (Palestinian refugees would infiltrate Israel to retrieve crops and property as well as to exact vengeance for their dispossession.)

The biggest Israeli attack occurred Feb. 28, 1955, at the town of Gaza, ostensibly in retaliation for Egypt's hanging of two saboteurs in the 1954 Lavon affair, in which Israeli agents tried to sabotage Egyptian American relations by planting firebombs in US diplomatic installations in Cairo and Alexandria. (Israel denounced the Egyptian charges as fabrications, only to come clean six years later. The surviving agents ' released from Egyptian prisons, were welcomed as heroes in Israel.)

Confidence-Shaking Measures

Nasser's confidence in the possibility of a settlement was shaken by the Israeli escalation of violence. Back in Israel, Sharett and Ben-Gurion told Jackson that, because of the guerrilla attacks, they had ordered a massive strike against the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis. The order was canceled when Jackson warned that the attack would probably end the short-lived negotiations. Egypt accepted a cease-fire proposed by the UN Truce Supervision Organization, but Israel equivocated. A short time later, Ariel Sharon's Unit 101 went ahead with the attack on Khan Yunis. It struck an Egyptian police station and also terrorized a village. Thirty six people were killed, including civilians.

The following day, Sharett asked Jackson to fly to Cairo to tell Nasser that, although Israel had to retaliate for the guerrilla attack , it wanted to end the reciprocal violence. Ben-Gurion said he was willing to meet Nasser. Jackson returned to Cairo and was able to head off the mobilization Nasser had been contemplating in response to the attack.

Nasser said he would try to restrain the guerrillas, but that it was not always possible because of their decentralized command. (Documents later captured by Israel confirmed his attempts to quiet the border.) Jackson shuttled between Cairo and Jerusalem trying to arrange a prisoner exchange and promote a meeting between BenGurion and Nasser. Ben-Gurion was interested, but Nasser, though not dismissive, feared he could be embarrassed by an Israeli attack during the negotiations. The prospects for success faded in September 1955, when Nasser arranged to buy Soviet arms from Czechoslovakia.

According to Jackson, Nasser felt increasingly vulnerable to Israeli military might (warplanes routinely violated Egyptian airspace). He could not accept the conditions the Eisenhower administration insisted on attaching to an arms sale. At a press conference after the Czech deal, Nasser said: "Egypt has no aggressive intentions toward Israel. War is not an easy decision for anybody, especially for me.

"No Arab is saying now that we must destroy Israel. The Arabs are asking only that refugees receive their natural right to life and their lost property, which was promised to them by United Nations resolutions seven years ago.

"No, we are not aggressive. The threat is from the other side. I have said many times that I want to build up my country. Now I am obliged to give defense priority over development.

"It was the other way around before Ben-Gurion's vicious attack on Gaza February 28. . . . There was an arms race going on, but it was one-sided. Israel was running and we were standing still."

Nasser's feeling of vulnerability was no fantasy. A year later, in 1956, Israel, Britain and France attacked Egypt. When the war broke out, Sharett, who by then was out of the cabinet, wrote in his diary, "We are the aggressors," Israel conquered the Sinai for the first time, but later gave it back under US pressure. Israel would conquer it again in 1967.

Nasser's successor, Sadat, would make his own bid for peace in 1971, only to have it rejected by Israel and the Nixon-Kissinger administration. It took another war to force Israel to take Sadat's bid for peace seriously.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

U.S. Journalists Ignore Israeli State Terrorism

Here's an article I wrote for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, May/June 1991. It's particularly relevant today:

Many people in the media have such a romantic view of Israel that they lose all objectivity. For example, they would have no trouble believing an allegation of an Arab attack on defenseless Israeli civilians. But they act as if Israeli attacks on Arab civilians were impossible.

Syndicated columnist Paul Greenberg has written, "There are terrorists and there are terrorists. There are those who choose their targets carefully for political effect. They're low, but they're several steps above the ones who scrupulously avoid military targets and assault a whole people indiscriminately, like Yasser Arafat's child murderers and Meir Kahane's rhetoric." Greenberg's point is that, except for a fringe character like Kahane, no Israeli would ever "assault a whole people indiscriminately; " that when Israel is forced to engage in violence, it is always surgically targeted against the guilty.

Faith Without Evidence

This is an article of faith that requires no evidence for most journalists. During the late Persian Gulf war, Iraq's inexcusable Scud missile attacks on Israel brought the predictable outpouring of selective indignation from the news media. Television and newspaper coverage was intense. The networks showed the damage to an apartment house and automobiles, as the mayor of Tel Aviv charmingly reminded American viewers that such is life in Israel.

The ubiquitous Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's deputy foreign minister, fully exploited the opportunities presented by live television interviews after the attacks. He said they again demonstrated why his country cannot deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization and repeated the canon that Israel is surrounded by hostile countries.

During the war, a National Public Radio newsman could scarcely control his amusement as he reported that Iraq justified the Scud attacks by saying that Israel's military reserve allows no distinction between civilians and soldiers. That journalist's scorn is typical of the double standard that characterizes coverage of Middle East events.

Yet neither Saddam Hussain nor PLO extremists are unique in overlooking this distinction. The Israelis have been doing the same thing for more than 40 years, with more deadly weapons, in such places as southern Lebanon.

In 1978, after a major Israeli incursion into Lebanon, Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur bluntly told the press, "For 30 years, from the War of Independence until today, we have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities. " Gur cited as examples of Israel's previous campaigns against civilians the bombing of villages on the east side of the Jordan valley and the shelling of towns in the Suez Canal area in the years after the Six-Day War. These acts of terror drove more than a million and a half Jordanians and Egyptians from their homes.

"The Israeli army has always struck civilian populations."

At the time of the Israeli general's statement, Israel's most respected military journalist, Ze'ev Schiff, wrote, "The importance of Gur's remarks is the admission that the Israeli army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously. The army, he said, has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets ... [but] purposely attacked civilian targets even when Israeli settlements had not been struck."

This is the policy that Moshe Sharett, Israel's first foreign minister, critically dubbed "sacred terrorism." [Read excerpts from Sharett's diary here.] The doctrine is found in the thinking of Israel's founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and in the military actions approved by both major governing blocs. In 1981, when the Labor Party criticized then Prime Minister Menachem Begin for his bombing of Beirut, which killed civilians indiscriminately, he responded by listing some of the civilian attacks perpetrated by previous Labor governments. "There were regular retaliatory actions against civilian Arab populations," Begin said.

According to the Jerusalem Post, former Laborite foreign minister and ambassador to the UN Abba Eban justified the attacks on civilians by arguing "there was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that afflicted populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities. " This would seem to qualify those Israeli attacks as purposeful terrorism waged against Arab civilians by any reasonable notion, but not by the de facto definition observed by mainstream American media, which inherently excludes Israel.

American commentators seem ignorant of or blind to Israeli attacks on civilians—such as those carried out repeatedly in Egypt, Gaza, and Jordan in the 1950s and 1960s, and, with even greater frequency, against civilians in the occupied territories and Lebanon in the 1970s, 1980s and today. Nor do US observers or "terrorism experts" seem to be aware of the abuse of Muslim and Christian civilians during the 1948 war, such as the mass expulsions at gunpoint of the inhabitants of Lydda, Ramle and a large number of other Palestinian villages. (See Benny Morris's new book, 1948 and After: Israel and the Palestinians.) It took the fullscale invasion of Lebanon and the ghastly bombardment of Beirut in 1982 to get the media to notice, even briefly. Since then, they have lapsed into their previous pattern.

The Power of the Biased Media

The power of the biased US media over public opinion was well demonstrated by the coverage of the Scud attacks. The New York Times quoted Steven L. Spiegel, a UCLA professor and long-time apologist for Likudist policies in Israel, as saying, "Through television, millions of Americans ... watched Israelis put on their gas masks ... and they experienced just about everything the Israelis did.... I think many Americans will have a lot more sympathy for some of Israel's security problems after this."

It is also safe to say that Americans would have a lot more sympathy for the security problems of Palestinian and Lebanese civilians if the major US media would provide even a modicum of information and photo coverage of Israeli policies to turn these civilians, through terrorism, against their leaders and each other.

In fact, the media's ignoring of the decades-long Israeli terror campaign against Arab civilians is something more than careless reporting. It betrays a systemic bias which implies that Arab, particularly Palestinian, deaths, no matter how gruesome matter little, while the endangerment of Israeli Jews is an intolerable crime that takes precedence over all other considerations such as journalistic balance, elementary fair play, and the right of the American public to have access to all of the facts in order to make its own, informed decisions.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How to Endanger the American People

"President Bush asserted yesterday that Hezbollah was defeated in its month-long conflict with Israel, casting the fighting that killed hundreds of Lebanese and Israeli civilians as part of a wider struggle 'between freedom and terrorism,'" reported the Washington Post today. If that's what George II really thinks, then he's talking nonsense when he says his administration is doing "everything in our power to protect" the American people. The worst way to protect the American people is to acquire everyone else's enemies in the world.

Hezbollah's beef is with Israel, which it sees (correctly) as an occupying power in parts of Lebanon and other Arab-owned lands. It's not a "terrorist organization," a designation designed solely to prevent understanding. It's a defensive organization, having emerged when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, that, to be sure, has used terrorist methods. (So has Israel, only on a far larger scale with much deadlier weapons.) Hezbollah's dispute with the United States arises completely out of the U.S. role as facilitator of Israel. It is rank hypocrisy for people to complain about Iran sending weapons to Hezbollah and to defend the billions of dollars Israel gets every year in American arms and money.

Defining every political dispute as America's fight is precisely the way to endanger the American people. In this connection see Ivan Eland's latest.

The Bush admininstration can't acknowledge this, however. It would undercut its agenda.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Talk Trade, Free It

The collapse late last month of world trade talks, known as the Doha Round (after the capital of Qatar), was overshadowed by continuing bad news from Iraq and Afghanistan and the outbreak of war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. While the bloodletting there is unlikely to be the golden opportunity some think it is, the breakdown of the WTO talks could be -- if we seize it.
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Obscuring the Reasons for 9/11

From Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute:
As both the Bush administration and its client government in Israel, with their invasions of Arab states in Iraq and Lebanon respectively, make the United States ever more hated in the Islamic world, a new book by the Chairmen of the 9/11 commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks—that same interventionist U.S. foreign policy. . . .

The book usefully details the administration’s willful misrepresentation of its incompetent actions that day, but makes the shocking admission that some commission members deliberately wanted to distort an even more important issue. Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Although to his credit, [cochairman Lee] Hamilton argued for saying that al Qaeda committed the heinous strike because of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and American support for Israel, the panel watered down that frank conclusion to state that U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iraq are “dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.”

Some [9/11] commissioners wanted to cover up the link between the 9/11 attack and U.S. support for Israel because this might imply that the United States should alter policy and lessen its support for Israeli actions. How right they were. The question is simple: If the vast bulk of Americans would be safer if U.S. politicians moderated their slavish support of Israel, designed to win the support of key pressure groups at home, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make this change in course? Average U.S. citizens might attenuate their support for Israel if the link between the 9/11 attacks and unquestioning U.S. favoritism for Israeli excesses were more widely known. Similarly, if American taxpayers knew that the expensive and unnecessary U.S. policy of intervening in the affairs of countries all over the world—including the U.S. military presence in the Middle East—made them less secure from terrorist attacks at home, pressure would likely build for an abrupt change to a more restrained U.S. foreign policy. But like the original 9/11 Commission report, President Bush regularly obscures this important reality by saying that America was attacked on 9/11 because of its freedoms, making no mention of U.S. interventionist foreign policy as the root cause.
Read the rest here.

Hat tip: Ralph Raico.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"Our Greed for Land"

From Gideon Levy in Haaretz:
This miserable war in Lebanon, which is just getting more and more complicated for no reason at all, was born in Israel's greed for land. Not that Israel is fighting this time to conquer more land, not at all, but ending the occupation could have prevented this unnecessary war. If Israel had returned the Golan Heights and signed a peace treaty with Syria in a timely fashion, presumably this war would not have broken out.

Peace with Syria would have guaranteed peace with Lebanon and peace with both would have prevented Hezbollah from fortifying on Israel's northern border. Peace with Syria would have also isolated Iran, Israel's true, dangerous enemy, and cut off Hezbollah from one of the two sources of its weapons and funding. It's so simple, and so removed from conventional Israeli thinking, which is subject to brainwashing.

For years, Israel has waged war against the Palestinians with the main motive of insistence on keeping the occupied territories. If not for the settlement enterprise, Israel would have long since retreated from the occupied territories and the struggle's engine would have been significant neutralized. Not that a non-occupying Israel would have turned into the darling of the Arab world, but the destructive fire aimed at Israel would have significantly lessened, and those who continued to fight Israel would have found themselves isolated.

The war against the Palestinians is therefore unequivocally a territorial war, a war for the settlements. In other words, in the West Bank and Gaza, people were killed and are getting killed because of our greed for land. From Golda Meir to Ehud Olmert, the lie has held that the war with the Palestinians is an existential one for survival imposed on Israel when it is actually a war for real estate, one dunam after another, that does not belong to us.

The situation is different with Syria. For 33 years, the Syrians gave up the military effort to reinstate their occupied lands. Israel can pass a dozen Golan Heights laws to annex it, but occupied territory remains occupied territory. During those three decades, the prevailing view in Israel was that there was no need for peace with Syria: The Syrians sat quietly anyway, so why give them back the Golan?
Read the rest of Gideon Levy's not-to-be-missed article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz here.

Hat tip: Jim Bovard

Saturday, August 05, 2006

MLL Online

Brad Spangler has announced the start of MLL Online, a website for the Movement of the Libertarian Left. Have a look here.

Brad says, "The aim of this site is to serve as a focal point for Movement of the Libertarian Left organizing, activism and collaboration. Together with a handful of comrades who form the new MLL Online publications cell with me, I'm hoping to spark the growth of new MLL cells, put a heightened focus on radical libertarian activism and generally get the agorist message out there."

Mr. Bush, Are You There?

If President Bush is trying to convince us that he hasn’t the slightest understanding of the Middle East, then he’s doing an outstanding job. Every statement he makes — and this goes for his secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, too — is soaked in ignorance. Any American who is paying attention should be shuddering to think that this man is running U.S. foreign policy.
Read the rest of "Mr. Bush, Are You There?" at The Future of Freedom Foundation website.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Eminent Domain and Other Corporate Welfare

Driving south on I-65 through Alabaster, Alabama, last week, I noticed a sprawling new shopping center on my left. Wal-Mart stood out prominently, but I also saw Belk and Old Navy stores. Ross and Pier One were there too. J.C. Penney and Target will open next year. This was of interest to me because people's homes once stood where those stores now stand. Most of the homeowners had no choice but to leave because the Alabaster city council used its power of eminent domain to seize their properties and transfer them to a shopping-center developer. (Two homeowners managed to beat the city.) In America, as elsewhere, government is the ultimate de facto owner of the land. The apparent owners use it at the government's pleasure, and sometimes -- alarmingly often these days -- the government decides it would rather have someone else use a particular parcel. The direction of transfers is predominantly from the working class to Big Business. Is it any wonder that people can't always see the connection between capitalism and freedom?
Read the rest of this week's TGIF column at the Foundation for Economic Education website.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Speaking Truth to Power

Israel has failed to understand that it cannot expel a people and call itself the victim; that it cannot conquer its neighbours and treat any and all resistance to that conquest as terrorism; that it cannot arm itself as a regional superpower and annihilate the institutional fabric of two peoples without incurring the fury of their children in the years that follow.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Sorry" Doesn't Cut It

From Adam Shatz in today's LA Times:
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Israel did, in fact, make the same mistake twice in Qana — or, to take another recent example, in Gaza, where a family of eight spending an afternoon on the beach was killed by an errant Israeli shell in June. If Israeli assertions are true that these killings of scores of civilians were unintentional, does that mean that Israel can claim the high ground in its battle with Hezbollah and Hamas? Is Israel's "accidental" violence against civilians somehow better, or more morally acceptable, than that of a Hamas suicide bomber who steps into a pizzeria seeking to kill civilians? Or a Hezbollah guerrilla firing a Katyusha in the direction of a Haifa residential neighborhood? In short, do Israel's declared intentions make a difference?

To the victims in Qana and Gaza, the answer to these questions is obviously no. Nor will Olmert's "condolences" be greeted with anything gentler than sarcasm in the Arab and Muslim world, particularly because Israel barely paused after Qana before resuming airstrikes against Lebanon....

When Israel targets densely populated areas in hopes of killing one or a handful of militants, knowing that it may end up killing dozens of civilians, it can hardly claim to be showing concern for humanitarian law or civilian life. And by asking that we judge it by its professed intentions, rather than by its actions, Israel is asking too much of us and far too little of itself.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

Independent Iraq

It looks like George II really did set up an independent Iraq. From the AP yesterday:
Iraq's vice president on Monday accused Israel of carrying out "massacres" in Lebanon, the strongest criticism yet of the Jewish state by a top official of the U.S-backed Iraqi government.

Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, singled out Sunday's Israeli airstrike that killed at least 56 Lebanese, mostly women and children, in the village of Qana. The deadliest attack in nearly three weeks of fighting has triggered an international uproar. . . .

On Sunday, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, demanded an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon, warning that "Islamic nations will not forgive the entities that hinder a cease-fire," al- Sistani said, in a clear reference to the United States. . . .

President Jalal Talabani, a Sunni Kurd, also addressed the gathering, expressing "sympathy and support to our brothers in Lebanon against the Israeli aggression." "We support them in getting rid of the effects of this aggression and imposing their sovereignty," Talabani said.

Anger over the Israeli offensive has united Shiites and Sunnis at a time of sectarian divisions here that has triggered a series of attacks and reprisal killings.

On Monday, about 200 people demonstrated in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, waving Lebanese and Iraqi flags.

"Allah, Allah, grant victory to Hassan Nasrullah," the demonstrators, including women and children, shouted, referring to Hezbollah leader.
Hat tip: David Beito at Liberty & Power.