Or, Too Bad Neither Arabs Nor Israelis Nor Bush Have Bothered to Read the New Testament

Hezbolla militia spokesmen apparently admitted capturing two Israeli soldiers. In response, although armed Hezbolla combatants are but a relatively small fraction of the population and not in control of the government, Israel nevertheless essentially declared war on the entire state of Lebanon, including all its women and children who might get in the way. The word used in justification for prolonged dropping of high explosives on civilian areas was “retaliation.”

It is not clear how the Christian residential neighborhoods who had allied with Israel during the long Lebanon civil war not long ago deserved such “retaliation.” Nevertheless, that is supposedly behind the Israeli artillery, missile and other bombardments on them. In any event, a lot of not very smart bombs were dropped, among other things, on Lebanese water treatment plants, electrical facilities, the international airport, bridges, ambulances, and in at least one instance within 30 yards of a hospital, all sure to contain mostly civilians or at least “punish” them by cutting off critical water, power and food supplies.

Some of those sites are arguably “military” targets, although there is definitely a question of proportionate appropriateness. Were there not better targets, the difference between a sniper rifle accuracy and a shotgun spraying a crowd?

It is also acknowledged for the sake of argument that once Israel upped the anti on the initial kidnaping with massive bombing, Hezbolla upped the anti further with rockets of its own raining down on Israeli designations sure to have lots of civilians in or around. Reprehensible yes and it no doubt infuriated the Israelis even more than the kidnaping did. But, a lot of bodies, hundreds that have never carried weapons of any sort, many under the age of ten, ended up buried in the ensuing rubble on both sides.

Newscasts in this country, as could be predicted from past coverage, almost uniformly excused Israel. Bush certainly condoned the massive escalation. Here’s the problem with any “knee jerk” or automatic approval of this particular Israeli policy. Regardless of our well deserved antipathy toward dangerous religious zealots within Hezbolla who openly express a desire to destroy Israel, regardless of who “started” it or more accurately “when” which could be legitimately debated at some length by each side, regardless of any legitimate empathy on our part for Israel’s desire to defend itself against belligerent neighbors, regardless of outright admiration for Israel’s general spunkiness and possible “underdog” status, regardless of our own wanting a counterfoil in the region to Iran and Syria, regardless of Israel’s intense frustration in not being able to find the two missing soldiers or those who actually did the capturing, BOILED DOWN, Israeli policy seems to be merely that if they can’t find the specific individuals who caused the crime, it’s perfectly okay as “retaliation” to attack everyone else in sight no matter how remotely related and no matter how utterly innocent they may be of the crime. While Israel will claim otherwise and not all the facts are in yet, in essence, it can be noted the civilians in Lebanon have been declared “guilty” by Israel and condemned to death for their merely choosing to exist near space where Hezbolla might be. Actual innocence of any overt acts or aggression by many of the dead deserved no consideration at all apparently.

Gosh, isn’t that the same unrestrained policy General Custer pursued against our Native American tribes? And, wasn’t that policy (epitomized by the slogan “the only good Indian is a dead one”) repudiated in shame nearly a century ago, especially when we learned the high percentage of non-combatant women and children dying as a direct result? Why then is President Bush coming out so loudly in favor of Israel’s equivalent of our Sand Creek Massacre in the 1800s?

Israel already receives more than Three Billion Dollars out of our Treasury per year. We have a treaty that says we will help defend them if they are invaded (although Bush has shown written treaty obligations mean even less to him that Constitutional restraints). We have already tilted in favor of Israel on the issue of UN Resolution violations; i.e. we justify invading Iraq and threaten to nuke Iran expressly because they violated UN Resolutions while simultaneously giving Israel a free pass to violate all the past UN Resolutions it wants. And, Bush promises to block any new ones proposed against Israel. Those actions by Bush already have overtly said to Muslims that the US is no longer neutral or even trying to be “fair and balanced” in the region (except as Fox News alone defines the term).

The hypocritical lack of uniformity by Bush on enforcing UN Resolutions was bad enough if we were hoping to be mediator for the area. It had the adverse side effect of ultimately caused the overwhelming majority of nations on earth to dislike us including many of our former allies. While ordinarily we might not care that others chose to dislike us, the fact Bush cavalierly alienated the particular nations upon which we depend for at least a third of our petroleum imports approached bone headed stupidity, assuming of course, our Presidents are theoretically supposed to give some thought toward protecting our economy. Those who don’t like gas prices now can thank Bush as Middle Eastern and other oil exporters gleefully raise prices even more.

Even assuming that we are willing to sacrifice our economy and our moral high ground to support Israel and it alone, Bush now has gone a step beyond. He has severely and unnecessarily endangered our homeland security itself. Bush, as usual, has proved he is incapable of thinking ahead or realizing the unintended consequences of his approval of indiscriminate bombing by Israel. Bush has failed to remember what a sharp two edge sword that policy can be and , as a result, has put our country at risk of retaliation too.

Remember, if it is acceptable policy for us to use against others, doesn’t that correspondingly mean it must be perfectly acceptable for others to adopt the identical policy against us? Good for the goose, good for the gander so to speak? If, for instance, Iraqis get angry because a handful of American soldiers happened to rape, torture or commit crimes against Iraqis, does that give the Iraqi friends and relatives a corresponding right to hurt us back? Think about it. How is it any different fundamentally in the two situations?

Why has Bush chosen to give such a “killer” public relations argument to our enemies thereby allowing them to justify future retaliation against us all for the acts of the few who happen to wear our uniforms? Frankly, the Iraqis in the scenario mentioned above would have an even better argument than Israel for such indiscriminate retaliation against civilians since, unlike the Hezbolla in Lebanon, Bush sadly actually does speak for our whole country. Bush is safe in his bunker, but he has sure put our own women and children at risk when he supports the policy theory holding that all civilians must pay for the acts of the lunatic few.

Worse, when has it ever proved effective short of extermination of an entire people? After all, the retaliation policy has been diligently pursued by both sides in the Israeli/Arab conflict for generations with little change in the killing. You do not have to be a pacifist to wonder if Bush is endangering us more than safeguarding us by sanctioning such “justifications” for continued killing of civilians.

I suspect the overwhelming majority of Lebanese people do not care for the Hezbolla tactics. I suspect most Lebanese are thoroughly frustrated having to share a county with a few armed madmen who make them all targets. I suspect they would like to do something about it if they realistically believed they could, but as we have learned in this country from our own street gangs like the Crips and Bloods, there is seldom much that private individuals can be do about thugs with guns. I suspect the Lebanese, as a whole, do not want their families destroyed at random just because of some cowardly, militant, unthinking, religious fanatic who happens to reside in the same geography advocates a policy of indiscriminate escalating retaliation. I fully agree with any Lebanese who thinks that. Unfortunately, in our county, the cowardly, militant, unthinking, religious fanatic we have to try and control happens to be our President.

No comments: