Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Four UN observers dead in Lebanon

Four UN observers killed in south Lebanon when their position was hit by an Israeli airstrike. This, despite repeated warnings by the UN to the IDF to stay away from their position. Kofi Annan rightfully suggests it was deliberate. I have a hard time believing that it wasn't.

My question is, if we are correct in assuming that the attack was deliberate, what was Israel's interest in carrying out the attack. It mjust have been pretty strong, as they would have known that huge negative repersuccsion would have arisen from the debacle? Is there maybe something they didn't want the observers to observe?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

death tolls

According to Juan Cole, the death in the Israael conflict so far stands at about 235 in Lebanon, and 25 in Israel as of late Tuesday. That's about a 10:1 ratio. Now, no civilian death is OK, but this ratio should betray any suggestion that the Israeli response is in any way measured.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Israel and Lebanon

The current conflict between the Israel and Lebanon/Hesbollah is one in which two of the three parties hold no moral high ground. Hezbollah should never have kidnapped the Israeli soldiers in the first place. They must have known that such an action would mobilize the government of Israel to respond, and that they would never release all Hezbollah prisoners.

The government of Israel is using by any measurement a disproportionate level of force. Not only have airports and roads out of Lebanon been bombed, but by now probably over 200 civilians have been killed. There is absolutely no justification by any standard for invading a soverieign democratic country, especially where the hostile opponent, Hezbollah, do not form the government. Furthermore, it will only provoke more extremism in Lebanon. Gwynne Dyer says:

Everyone knows that the Lebanese government does not control Hezbollah, but Israel held Beirut responsible, rolled its tanks across the border, and launched a wave of air strikes that has already killed over 50 Lebanese. That won't free the hostages, and it poses the risk of a wider war that could involve not only Lebanon but Syria, but at least it protects Olmert from the accusation of being "weak," always the kiss of death for an Israeli politician.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are adept at pushing Israel's buttons and getting it to overreact (even if that does involve Israel destroying what little infrastructure there was in the Gaza Strip, and destroying Lebanon's infrastructure all over again). The dwarf superpower of the Middle East is good at smashing things up, and so long as the real superpower behind it does not intervene, nobody else can stop it. But nobody in this game has a coherent strategy for getting out of it.

On the human rights front, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have both called on the Israeli government and Hezbollah to avoid intentional or indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Seven Canadians have been killed as a result of an Israeli airstrike. I would like to see Stephen Harper, proud defender of Israeli government's "measured response," meet the families of the Canadian casualties, look them in the eye and tell them that Israel's response was measured.

I hate having to talk about this stuff. I wish we were not talking about seven dead Canadians, or 200 dead civilians. However, now that it has happened, noise has to be made to ensure that it never happens again. Now that Canadians have been killed, maybe even the hard-hearted Canadians who have supported Harpers comments will see the wrongness of this. It's not about supporting or opposing Israel, or supporting or opposing Hezbollah. It's about opposing the indiscriminate civilians, regardless of who the attacker is and who the victims are. Maybe upon seeing the folly of bombing seven Canadian civilians, they can open their minds a bit and see the folly of killing of any civilian.