No news, to speak of, in Inverness (some world cup, and scrolling headlines were about it) and a bit of blogging in Kiev. But the big news is Lebanon. On first blush it seems to me Isreal has vastly overstepped reasonable response. The core argument seems to be that Hezbollah's being, "allowed" to remain in Lebanon is tacit support for them on the part of the people and the Gov't and so those groups are guilty, and Israel is justified in killing/destroying them by way of response for the provocation of a pair of soldiers being captured.
On it's face this is farcial. If the LAPD were to make this argument to justify wiping out a couple of city block in South Central because the Crips, or Bloods, had killed a cop (or two) we'd condemn it out of hand.
But no. We've been treated to no small number of justifications for this; despite it being patently unjust, as well as a violation of the laws and practices of war (which requires that responses to provocation be proportional; outlaws reprisal and collective punishment,[which is being practiced, as reported in the Jerusalem Post] the taking of hostages, or the deliberate targetting of civilians).
Alan Dershowitz (who also thinks torture might be acceptable, if we made a legal mechanism for getting it approved; by warrant, beforehand, but I digress) seems to think this is perfectly normal. In fact he seems to think that someone who makes a threat is actually asking for consent, and that any such consent is voluntary.
Hezbollah and Hamas militants, on the other hand, are difficult to distinguish from those “civilians” who recruit, finance, harbor and facilitate their terrorism. Nor can women and children always be counted as civilians, as some organizations do. Terrorists increasingly use women and teenagers to play important roles in their attacks. The Israeli army has given well-publicized notice to civilians to leave those areas of southern Lebanon that have been turned into war zones. Those who voluntarily remain behind have become complicit.
Ponder the logical (and from recent events, sadly not absurd) the way this works. By giving notice that I have a problem with your cousin, who happens to be staying with you, and that I intend to kill him, you, by not giving him up, consented to my killing you when I firebomb your house to get to him. And the damage I do to your house, well you could have avoided that by sending him out.
That's a far more concrete example. The analogy I made to the Crips and Bloods is more apt. Becuase the IDF has admitted to taking out random buildings, in the general area Hezbollah is thought to be, and the ability to separate Hezbollah from civilian populace is slim, even harder from a couple of thousand feet in the air, or a couple of miles back.
Something like a year ago we were hearing Lebabnon's praises sung; because they had engaged in some serious democracy. Now we are seeing the lie given to the idea that democracies don't attack each other (that or one of the two nations involved isn't a democracy) and the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war is spreading. With that spread we are seeing the evils which we, as a nation, used to decry. I say used to because we have expedited the sale and delivery of the means Israel needs to continue the policy on which she is engaged.
The fact of the matter is there was no good solution to Israel's problem (the captured soldiers).
The best option, horrible though it might seem, is to admit they've been captured by a hostile force and either consign them to their fate (which would either be hostage, or POW; for reasons of policy Israel holds to the former, though present events make the latter more reasonable).
The other options are to attempt a rescue, negotiate for their release or engage in some form of retaliation.
They opted for the latter, but the problem is they didn't have any real target to engage.
Further, from a moral standpoint, it's reprehensible. How many Lebanese are equal to one Israeli? The honest answer, is one. The moral answer is none. The only person who can be held to account is a member of Hezbollah (and Dershowitz is wrong when he makes the Ward Churchillian argument that every person in Lebanon who isn't actively trying to expunge Hezbollah is complicit to the point of guilt).
I don't hold to the idea that somehow Israel has to be more moral than it's foes. I merely argue it ought to be held to the same standards as anyone else.
From a practical standpoint it's foolish. There is no way to root out a problem like Hezbollah without going in and rooting them out, building by building; taking and holding ground. If they were doing that, I would say it was an over-reaction to the provocation (just as it would be were the US to sieze Canadian ports of entry because so many terrorists have come to the U.S. through Canada) but it would be understandable, and have some level of both proportion, and (in theory) success.
The present policy is both futile, and counter-productive, as it will create new members of Hamas, Hezbollah, etc. and (when it fails, as this policy will) it will show Israel to be lacking in means, which will encourage those who refuse to acknowledge her right to exist; and work for her destruction, to greater acts of provocation.
(p.s. For those who wish to read all of what Dershowitz said it's here)