- Even though I have long been critical of Israel's politicians,
who do not really represent the best interest of Israel, the Israeli Defense
Forces (IDF) could always be counted on - when they were allowed to fight
and win (which was rare) - to assiduously avoid civilian casualties, even
in house-to-house fighting. They were the best in the world. Not any more.
Ever since the forced expulsion of its own Israeli citizens from Gaza settlements
last year when the IDF began hiring thugs and mercenaries, something changed
at the policy level and it bodes evil for Israel's reputation for a just
and limited defense.
- Now that the Israeli Air Force is being ordered to bomb
whole towns and civilian neighborhoods in Lebanon, I sense a change in
policy and objective. It is remarkably similar to the aggressive and destructive
aerial tactics used by the United States in fighting Iraqi insurgents by
leveling whole cities - civilians be damned - just to avoid taking casualties.
- As a former F-4 pilot during Vietnam (who never saw combat)
I wonder how pilots deal with the fact that they are being ordered to target
civilians - when it finally becomes obvious. Military pilots are much more
detached from death since they never see the face of their intended target
when they pull the trigger, as do troops on the ground. Pilots only learn
of their killing of innocent civilians after the fact. During their flight
briefings they are never told the reason a particular target is chosen
- nor are they given an opportunity to protest or question targeting decisions.
It's built into the system of rigid obedience to higher authority.
- The first hints of a change in Israeli targeting policy
came with the bombing of the Gaza power station, followed by the bombing
of Lebanese infrastructure - roads, bridges, power plants, and fuel depots
- causing tremendous civilian hardship, and inhibiting people's ability
to flee. Relief supplies are not safe to move. While these measures sometimes
have been justified in a conventional war between whole nations, fielding
large armies on the move, they do relatively little to stop a guerrilla
war - the only type of warfare anyone can wage against states with vastly
- What they do is alienate innocent people who normally
have never approved of terrorist tactics. In one very bad policy move,
Israeli has destroyed all the good will it may have once had among Lebanese
moderates. Worse, Hezbollah is now rising in popularity among Arab nations
who have tried to remain on the sidelines. Had Israel limited it's attacks
to Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, as it had many times in the
past, this transformation of image and reputation would never have happened.
As I pointed out in recent briefings, I feel it is a deliberate strategy
and may mirror the globalist intent of the Bush administration to foment
more conflict by aggressive intervention in selective nations. Conflict
gives neo-conservatives an excuse to reshape world governments under globalist
institutions that do not provide protection for fundamental rights of individuals
- This week, King Abdullah II of Jordan warned that Israel's
excessive retaliation against Lebanon, backed by the United States, has
weakened moderates within the Muslim world. Moderate voices everywhere
are silent in the face of Israel's ferocity in attacking civilians. He
said that, "Even if Hezbollah is destroyed, the hostility toward Israel
is so high that another such group could arise in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, or
even in my own country ... The Arab people see Hezbollah as a hero because
it's fighting Israel's aggression." Before, Arab complaints of Israeli
aggression could easily be dismissed as self-serving, masking their own
assaults (5) on Israel since independence was declared in 1948. But no
more. The complaints now ring true, and it undermines Israel's moral authority,
as well as its traditional image as an underdog struggling to survive in
a sea of hostile Arabs.
- Jean Daniel of the Le Nouvel Observateur [The New Observer]
agrees and points out that during the initial retaliation, Arab moderates
condemned Hezbollah: "[T]he Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt)
went so far as to denounce "Hezbollah's irresponsible adventurism."
But it didn't last. "Several days later, with 'eradication' in Lebanon
being transformed into disasters and the razing of cities, Hezbollah's
epic resistance against the IDF has become so irresistibly contagious that,
under the enormous pressure of Arab public opinion, the religious authorities
first of all, then the political ones (even in Riyadh!) condemned Israel
and declared themselves in solidarity with the Lebanese 'people,' Hezbollah
having suddenly become the sole expression of the people ... Since then,
the entire Muslim world has tilted toward Hezbollah, which, after preening
itself (a little quickly) on having kicked the Israelis out of the Lebanese
fatherland in 2000, today reveals itself capable of resisting one of the
best armies in the world so effectively and so long. Thus, having failed
to conquer quickly enough or to stop when they should have, the Israelis
have transformed their enemies into heroes."
- What Daniel says is quite true. Israel's growing reputation
as the military you "don't tangle with" has been severely degraded
by the ability of Hezbollah to continue firing rockets into Israel, even
as they are under heavy attack. This week saw record days of rocket assaults
on Israel, exceeding 230 in a single day. Even the growing ground assault
upon Hezbollah positions is showing signs of needing a lot more man-power.
Israel announced a call-up of two more brigades this week, almost doubling
the number of troops they are going to commit to the fight - and even that
won't do the job.
- Israel is suffering a form of defeat not only by losing
the public relations war, but by giving Arab militants everywhere the hope
that they, too, can resist Israel's mighty IDF. First, Iraqi insurgents
foiled the US "victory" in Iraq, and now Israel is sinking into
the same quagmire. No wonder Israel doesn't want to reoccupy Lebanon.
- However, destroying Lebanon is not the answer either.
This week's aerial attack by Israel on a civilian apartment building in
Qana, killing at least 28 and being billed as a "massacre" has
now become the photo image of choice, illustrating the evils of Israeli
targeting. Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch put it straight: "
I think it's important that this slight controversy over the numbers of
those killed in Qana does not distract from the fact that a very brutal
attack took place in Qana, a totally unjustified attack took place, and
that Israel has had to backtrack significantly on its original statement.
Originally Israel said that they had attacked Qana because Hezbollah was
there and was firing rockets at the time of the attack. Now, Israeli officials
have been forced to admit, under heavy scrutiny, that they had no information
about Hezbollah present at the time of the attack or rocket firing and
that Qana had simply been put on the target list, because several days
before, rockets had been fired from nearby Qana.
- "Giving the lie to the 'human shields' theory, [where
Israel claims Hezbollah is hiding among civilians] we found numerous cases
in which the IDF launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious
military objectives but excessive civilian cost. In many cases, Israeli
forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances,
Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians.
- "In fact, of the 24 incidents they document, HRW
researchers could find no evidence that Hezbollah was operating in or near
the areas that were attacked by the Israeli Air Force ... The location
of Hezbollah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because
there was no Hezbollah around."
- "And that just shows you how indiscriminate many
of these attacks are. Israel is not adhering to the laws of war, because
it's failing to distinguish between military objects it's entitled to attack,
and civilian homes, cars and infrastructure, which it should refrain from
attacking. And that's why so many civilians are dying." Bouckaert
also condemned "Israel's use of cluster bombs, phosphorous weapons
and depleted uranium," all provided by and resupplied by the US, which
implicates America in the blame.
- For more, see http://www.worldaffairsbrief.com
- World Affairs Brief August 4, 2006 Copyright Joel Skousen.
- Partial quotations with attribution permitted.
- Cite source as Joel Skousen's World Affairs Brief