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 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.


Clint said...

Intentions do make a moral difference, I think. But the ultimate judge of morality is action - not rhetoric.

The problem is we have no way of knowing Israel's real intentions. They are not going to say "Yeah, we wanted to kill civilians." But they have said things about bombing Lebanon back 20 years and how they wanted to pummel the country until the Lebanese forcefully "vomited" Hezbollah out of the land.

These comments, along with the pattern of bombing (and the fact they used cluster bombs) suggest that, at best, they have very little regard for civilian casualties. In fact, Hezbollah rockets have achieved a far more humane ratio with regards to civilian vs. soldier deaths.

And, when one undergoes intense bombing campaigns like these, it's understood that civilians will be inevitably be killed. If you know that and proceed anyway, then that's on you.

Sheldon Richman said...

Clint, as you point out. we do have a clue to the Israeli war planners' intent. They say they want to make the Lebanese get their government to disable Hezbollah. That's why they hit civilians.

Furthermore, as you suggest, if one knows that civilians will be killed when one chooses a tactic that could be avoided, then intent can be inferred. After all, we are not talking about a hostage-taker holding a baby to his chest as he fires on a crowd. War is rarely like that.