More on my fiction writing

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July 28, 2014

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I am checking with Natalie Portman.
And I am trying to reach out to Abraham Foxman, head of the ADL. I was his body guard for a while in AZ.
Back to U ASAP.

Forgot to mention I once delivered dinner to Moshe Dayan when he stayed at the Biltmore Estates.
And the war goes on.
More later waiting
for the story by Emil.

Gosh, we've sure come a long way since "I'd like to buy the world a coke," haven't we? The smart commenters should show up presently.

Pepsi.

You can join me drinking Pepsi.

You can drink Coke and be taxed.

You can move to a Coke drinking country.

Those are your choices or you will be killed.

We are a tolerant soft drink fraternity.

pat, me too. At 74, I learn a lot from the SMART folks on this site.

"Given Israel's power in Washington ("the 51st state")"...

"What Israel wants is not always in America's national interest. Indeed, sometimes it is quite the opposite. Yet no America politician who hopes for a future on the national level dares to say this."

Why is this so? Where did this power come from?

Jewish lobby groups.

Why is this so? Where did this power come from?

Yes, lobby groups - but wherein lies their might? My gut-check:

- We have a nuclear-armed "ally" in the Middle East. Actually, we have a satrap that lets us park our nukes there.

- The temblors from the Holocaust, while generationally fading, had a powerful grip on America's elites. Remember, most of the "1%" at the time held a certain fancy for the sort of arrangements that Adolph made, and they couldn't have been more embarrassed during the post-war "inspections."

- On the whole, Jewish folk are a wealthier demographic in the United States compared with most others, and we know how wealth affects politics here.

- And, finally, to a lesser extent - our Christianists see in the Holy Land the location of their Revelations apocalypse. Which, to any Jew, should be correctly seen as the worst sort of bad faith.

There's probably more, and perhaps of more consequence than what I sketched off the top of my head above. Please be kind, folks, when correcting my errors, omissions, and prioritization (it's been such a third-rail all my life, that I have rather meekly avoided learning too much about it. That needs to stop right now.)

After reading my comment about the (American) Jewish demographic, I would like to note that there are left- and right-wing Jews, some Zionist and some not (it is my reading that most of the right leans towards Zionism, most of the left against - although there is a "softer" version of Zionism within some of the cohort of the left.)

Why does the left continue to foist the idea that Israel is the one that will not accept a two state solution. Hamas will only consider a one state solution predicated an the destruction of Israel. How does one make peace when the sole condition for that peace is you and your country must die?

Why does Hamas squander millions of aid dollars on tunnels and rockets while their children die of starvation and the populace is beggard at the point of a gun? How does this make Hamas morally superior?

I have seen never anyone on the left crticise Hamas for it's open use of civilians as human shields or recruiting and using children as such? Where is the morality of that?

Petro - having second thoughts, are you?

About what, Terry Dudas?

The Middle East is complicated. It has a long and complex history, elements of which are disputed. There are claims and counterclaims. It can be difficult to sort out, especially when it comes to an ongoing battle taking place largely outside the observation of journalists.

Fortunately, the moral calculus of the current conflict between Israel and Hamas is crystal clear. Cut and dried. Black and white.

One doesn't have to consider the historical origin of Israel, and what Israelis did or didn't do to the Palestinians who at the time were the majority of the country's residents. One doesn't have to consider the later Arab-Israeli wars, or why they occurred. One doesn't have to consider Israel's seizures of land during these wars and whether they were justified or not. One doesn't have to consider whether Israeli settlements violate United Nations resolutions, or if they do, whether that's OK. One needn't consider the plight of Palestinians living in poverty under an embargo and restrictions of movement enforced by military might, or whether these are deserved or necessary, and who is culpable. Answer all these questions yourself, in favor of either side. Suit yourself.

Surprisingly, one doesn't even need to consider who started the current conflict, and why; though I'll take a brief look at the recent timeline, later, because it illustrates an important if secondary point. Nor does one need to sort through the question of who rejected or violated which cease fires, and when. "Terror tunnels" or smuggling tunnels, or both? Doesn't matter. And one certainly doesn't need to argue the details of specific, notorious battlefield events, such as who bombed a U.N. school full of civilian refugees, and why.

Moral clarity can be had simply by examining the situational logic of the current conflict.

Start with the casualties:

On the Gazan side, you have more than 1,000 dead and thousands more injured, about 70 percent of whom are civilian noncombatants according to the United Nations.

On the Israeli side, you have more than 50 dead, all but three of whom (at last count) were soldiers killed fighting in Gaza.

Now, I wouldn't want to give the mistaken impression that it's the lopsided figures which tell the story. Because it's not as though Hamas hasn't been trying: they've fired thousands of rockets into Israel, trying to kill as many of the general population as they can; only the rockets are terribly inaccurate, and Israel has a missile defense system called Iron Dome which seems to have done a good job protecting urban areas.

So, Hamas are war criminals, no doubt about it. And they've been fairly honest about their brutal, even vicious disregard for Israeli civilians, and their intent to hold them collectively responsible, with life and limb, for the decisions of the Netanyahu government.

But the casualty figures do indicate this: the Israelis are war criminals too; only they're much better at it than Hamas.

Worse still, given the shocking images coming out of Gaza through CNN and other international outlets, is the insidious evil of the Israeli government's posturing. They commit war crimes while pretending to be the good guys. They're wolves in sheep's clothing. They lie, lie, lie, like devils, while standing on the bodies of the children they have killed and maimed. It's this persistent deceit which makes their obduracy all the more shocking. It's almost as if someone had sent them a lie to harden their hearts. But that would be meshugganah.

The Big Lie, which Israeli government spokesmen tell over and over again, is this:

That Israel doesn't target civilians; that civilians are killed only because Hamas uses them as human shields; that the Israelis have no choice but to bomb, strike with missiles and drones, and shell with artillery, densely populated urban areas, for existential reasons of national security; that if terrorists were shooting rockets at New Jersey, the United States would respond in the same way.

Let's start with the last part of the Big Lie, because it's the most obviously absurd and because it gives the lie to all the rest of it.

Imagine that terrorists, living in New York City, had taken up residence in apartment blocks and in houses in residential neighborhoods, along with their families. After all, they have to live somewhere, and being residents of a densely populated city, that means with and near other residents. Besides, they are ruthless, so why not hide amongst ordinary neighbors, in the hope of reducing their own vulnerability to counterattack. They keep rockets and other stores hidden there. Occasionally they venture out to fire on New Jersey, then try to blend back in with the general populace after these hit and run attacks.

Now ask yourself, which of the following two methods does the U.S. Government and the state and local police use to respond to the threat:

(1) Wholesale military bombing, drone strikes, and artillery shelling of apartment buildings and residential neighborhoods, using high explosives to get to individual targets, knowing full well that the inevitable result will be widespread civilian casualties; or

(2) Collecting intelligence on the locations and movements of suspected terrorists, massing SWAT teams, special forces teams, sniper teams, light infantry if necessary, and other assets; then at opportune moments designed to minimize risk to innocent bystanders and neighbors, carrying out planned police actions intended to either arrest suspects or to kill them (with direct gunfire) if they resist arrest. Or even to just shoot them, if arrests are deemed too dangerous to bystanders.

You might say that the Israelis don't have the option of a restrained approach in Gaza. You'd be wrong. Israel has one of the best humint (human intelligence) networks in the world, which is probably at its strongest in the West Bank and Gaza. These territories are not sovereign states.

And in fact, the Israelis did precisely this, after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers which started all this; crimes for which they blamed Hamas, even though Hamas didn't take credit and another group (or splinter group) did.

The Israelis went in and arrested between 350 and 600 Palestinians, including nearly all of Hamas' West Bank leaders, in the middle of June, about a month before its ground invasion of Gaza. On June 15 alone, there were 86 arrests, many of them senior Hamas members.

Note that Hamas members move between Gaza and the West Bank, so a little patience could have netted Hamas leaders in Gaza. It's also unclear why it was necessary, after making literally hundreds of arrests of Hamas leaders and members, ostensibly for a kidnapping, to arrest still more.

They could also have sent special forces teams and/or troops into Gaza with the purpose of arresting Hamas leaders and seizing arms caches by hand. That would have resulted in more Israeli army casualties than bombing and artillery from a distance, but also far less civilian casualties in Gaza. And that's what professional soldiers are paid for.

Relatively speaking, the Israeli crackdown on Hamas (arrests) was a "surgical" operation.

By contrast, shooting missiles into apartment buildings to hit a particular apartment is obviously NOT "pinpoint" or "surgical". Blowing buildings to rubble (including houses) that you know are inhabited by women, children, and other noncombattants, in order to kill a combatant also located inside, is inconsistent with a claimed intent not to target civilians.

If the civilians are not your target, but you know that they will be wounded, maimed, and killed anyway, then you're just playing games with words.

The Israeli government made a deliberate decision to kill civilians using indirect fire and high explosives (which are indiscriminate), even though it wasn't technically "targeting" them, because getting their targets was more important to them than the loss of civilians. This is quite different from an unintended shooting in a hostage rescue situation, where calculated risks are taken to save lives.

The children killed and mained in these attacks, whose limbs were ripped off or had to be amputated, whose faces were blinded and deformed, whose intestines and genitals were riddled with shrapnel, and who may live on (for a while) despite such terrible injuries, did not vote for Hamas. Neither did some of the adult victims. And some of those who did vote for Hamas, did so because Hamas is funded by rich Arab states (like Qatar) and uses part of these funds to provide social services for the poor, of whom there are many in Gaza. That Hamas' cynical intent is to bribe the civilian populace doesn't change that.

The Israeli claim of giving residents forewarning (the so-called "knock on the roof"), aside from being obviously ineffective, is mainly a ridiculous public relations stunt. Telling the occupants of a house to flee would obviously tip-off any Hamas militants residing therein, who would also flee, perhaps grabbing weapons as he did so; and when the intent is to assassinate Hamas members and destroy their stores, and not merely to demolish a house, such a warning would obviously not be given. (The Israelis also have a policy of destroying the family homes of Gazans suspected of "collaboration with terrorists", so sometimes the demolition of a house, but not the residents, is the goal.)

The Israeli government knew that if they undertook a widespread, persistent bombing campaign against neighborhoods in Gaza, that Hamas had plenty of rockets to fire (Israel estimates 10,000) and would fire them at Israel. It knew this because the same sequence of events has occurred time and again in the past.

By changing its tactic from one of mass arrests of Hamas leaders and members, to bombing of Gaza neighborhoods in which Hamas members are imbedded, the Netanyahu government knew that it would provoke an equally indiscriminate , if largely ineffective, counterattack on Israel, that would in turn justify a ground invasion to severely weaken its hated enemy Hamas -- for a while, before the cycle started again -- and that this would play well domestically. That a few Israeli casualties might occur was a risk the Israeli government was evidently willing to take.

It's worth noting that, despite mass arrest of Hamas leaders and members beginning June 13, as well as the destruction of numerous Palestinian homes and buildings during the crackdown (arrests) on Hamas, rocket fire into Israel remained about the same as it had, a few a day, until June 30. Note that not all rocket attacks are Hamas directed, though doubtless it does little or nothing to stop them. The Israeli government says that Hamas itself did not start firing rockets into Israel until early Monday, June 30:

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4536174,00.html

Now, what happened to trigger the first Hamas rocket attack since 2012?

On Sunday, June 29, Israel carried out 12 airstrikes in Gaza, and Israel's foreign minister threatened to reoccupy Gaza.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/06/israeli-airstrikes-attack-targets-gaza-201462984832208983.html

Monday June 30, at 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM, Hamas fired two rocket barrages (see the Israeli media ynetnews link above). Hamas warns Israel that attacks on Gaza would "open the gates to hell".

In the afternoon of the same day (June 30), the bodies of the missing Israeli teenagers were found. The Israeli Air Force then struck 34 targets in Gaza.

Things actually calmed down a bit the next day, on July 1st, with Palestinian rocket attacks reduced to 4. Then, on July 2, the Israelis again increased airstrikes in Gaza, and the number of rocket attacks (with mortar attacks added) again tripled, quadrupled, and more. As the Israeli air strikes on Gaza continued and intensified, the number of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel increased exponentially, increasing to 80 on July 7 and increasing thereafter.

So, the popular narrative is wrong. First, Israel bombed Gaza, then Hamas fired 16 or 18 rockets into Israel. Rocket attacks then subsided, until Israel began intensifying and widening its bombing attacks on Gaza, at which time the rocket attacks also intensified into wholesale barrages with more than 100 rockets fired per day.

Here's a list of Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel (day by day and month by month) during 2014:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Palestinian_rocket_attacks_on_Israel,_2014#June

Here's a limited timeline of events in the recent conflict:

http://www.ibtimes.com/timeline-events-gaza-israel-shows-sudden-rapid-escalation-1636264

In some ways, the right-wing Netanyahu government and Hamas have a lot in common. Each uses the other side as a bogeyman to cement its own political power. Both are willing to use violence to provoke violence, because violence causes fear, resentment, and anger in the victims and radicalizes the population at large, encouraging them to turn to those with a "get tough on the enemy" philosophy and effectively recruiting popular sympathy. Each has contempt for the population of the other; and each cynically regards its own population as expendable pawns in a nationalistic political game with strong religious overtones. Both claim justification from God for their abominable actions.

Everyone, including Israel, knows that rocket attacks from Gaza cannot be stopped militarily, either temporarily or on a permanent basis, without a complete and extended reoccupation of Gaza. There are far too many existing rockets to get with a limited military campaign, and new rockets can always be smuggled in from Iraq or elsewhere or homemade by Palestinians for future use. Everything else is political theater.

Hamas is foolish and bad and does terrible things. There. Why is there a Hamas? Why was there an Irgun? I don't see anyone calling Hamas morally superior. Israel is acting abominably.

May I recommend Greg Mitchell's "Pressing Issues" blog for his criticism of media coverage in Gaza? There are a couple of eye-opening links to some of Netanyahu's and Sharon's perceptions about Israel's power in the USA.

Ian welsh makes the accusation that the death of the three Israeli teens is a fabrication. Can anyone confirm that?

Emil, the Israelis are wolves.

The Palestinians are sheep being herded by serpents.

So, we should shed a tear for whom?

Ruben: Greg Mitchell refers to a comment from inside the Israeli government that the 3 were killed not by Hamas but by a "cell" that was NOT acting on Hamas' orders. There is also a question of when the government became aware of the fate of the three and why the info was withheld from the public.
http://gregmitchellwriter.blogspot.com

What Dawgzy said (which I've just read as I was about to paste my response, below.)

You doing Jonathan Winters there, Reb... er, Ruben? Of course you mean fabrication of the blame for the deaths, not the deaths themselves. :) But, to move on...

It is, as with all things Israel, disputed.

t Turns Out Hamas May Not Have Kidnapped and Killed the 3 Israeli Teens After All

...with this update:

...the group thought to be responsible, a "lone cell," may not have been under direct orders from Hamas's leadership, but was loosely affiliated with the group.

Israeli police official refutes claim that Hamas kidnapped Israeli teens

Of course, the fog of war (and this is war) is doing its thing, which includes the bit about the truth being the first casualty. There's probably some spin in these stories, but I'm just responding to your informational request, and I am still scanning for the truth.

But Israel is looking pretty bad on this one.

It's not out of our hands - $ 3 Billion a year to Israel says it's not out of our hands. Once that's cut off , then maybe --

I'll talk about the naive foolishness of Abraham next time! :)

Good post Emil.

Note a post to The 1:57 to Florence blog on BAD FBI lab results in capital crimes.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/federal-review-stalled-after-finding-forensic-errors-by-fbi-lab-unit-spanned-two-decades/2014/07/29/04ede880-11ee-11e4-9285-4243a40ddc97_story.html

THE STATE OF ISRAEL: A Jewish state?
How about the state of Luther or
the state of John Calvin or
the state of Mohamed.
the state of Buddha.
The Pope state.
My problem with this issue is God is the problem.
So I propose the state of Atheist's.
Then we can just kill each other over resources and lines in the sand.
But time and the wind blown sand erases the blood stains not even paying attention to the smallness of the human "manunkind"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/29/bob-schieffer-gaza_n_5630519.html

That second character was in evidence on Sunday, when Schieffer offered this take on the ongoing violence in Gaza.

In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause, a strategy that might actually be working, at least in some quarters. Last week, I found a quote of many years ago by Golda Meir, one of Israel's early leaders, which might have been said yesterday. "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, she said, "but we can never forgive them for forcing us to kill their children."

"The conflict will run its course."

Yes, and the human species will also run its course -- people indiscriminately fucking and making babies, using all their power to fight each other to the death, consuming everything within reach and always wanting more, and raping the earth until it is a barren wasteland.

If there were a God, It would be shaking its head in disgust, knowing that mass extinction is the only solution.

The main reason I do not support Israel is their attack on the USS Liberty. They tried to sink it without survivors so that they could blame the Egyptians but the ship miraculously did not go down and the US gob'ment helped cover it up. That is one unhealthy influence on national sovereignty by another. Everything we hear about Israel is propaganda (or as we like to call it now public relations or spin). Israel is not a good neighbor, they do not deal in good faith, they are violent religious racists little different from fascists. The Palestinians are looking down the barrel of a final solution, why would they not fight back after having their land stolen, their livelihoods denied, without status before the courts or the world except as refugees/terrorists?

A talk by Miko Peled, author of The General's Son:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etXAm-OylQQ

Google "uss liberty survivors" and you can pick and choose which youtube video to watch.

Or you can go to Juan Cole's site "Informed Comment" and get the best analysis and reporting an American can get.

On Israeli propaganda:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnJEYVxLXbY

Context is what is most fleeting...Strobe Talbot has been tweeting for days that a three fronted WWIII is upon us, now that
Israel is on the sideline (his words)...1. Russia-Nato in Baltic 2. Sunni-Shia in Mid-East and 3. China vs Vietnam and Japan.

I know a lot of Americans of Syrian and Lebanese background. I know more Russians. I am Orthodox. I have tons of Jewish friends and colleagues, but only one college professor from Israel. Excepting for the last none of those folks are now sympathetic to Israel's actions. It is so eerily similar to the Warsaw uprising as to events.

The United States/CIA has been active with ISIS in Syria and less so overtly in Iraq. The Malicki government being put in place by Bush, was his sole reaction to Saudi complicity in 9/11 and had the positive externality of benefiting his cronies through the stolen oil. But now certainly Obama is back in line with the Saudis. It would seem that they seek to draw Iran into a hot war against ISIS which would give
possibility of destroying their nuclear program. I wish that I might understand the breadth of how much Obama's personal wealth
has been increased during this process.

Militarily we are a shell of what we were in 1990. Ten carriers now versus thirty in 1990. There are a handful of F-22s and no F-35s
and a few remaining F-15s and F-16s. Force levels of army and marines are tiny and reserves and national guard were shrunk due
to Rummy's stop loss bologna. There are some 20 Marine and Navy fighter squadrons.

All that said I don't believe that this administration nor Congress cares what Israel does. They're embarrassed by the non-traditional coverage that has seeped out.

I am sufficiently concerned that Strobe Talbot is partially or wholly correct.

Consequences of such would be terrible and fearful.

Amen Gaylord
good post.

How do you like being called "infidel," Infidel?

I'm no fan of Israel's biblical revanchism in the last decade. But I've got no weak spots at all when it comes to Arabs and Islam. Plainly speaking: It's a "shite" religion that would put woman in bags with eye-slits for ventilation, allow men to keep multiple wives, let men marry outside their faith, but stone a woman should she do so.

Islam just sucks. It's a crap religion born out of some primitive's epileptic fits.

(Proof of concept: Just for typing the previous sentences I've made myself a noteworthy infidel who should be hunted down (like Rushdie) and slain.)

All of this is to suggest I'm on Israel's side on this one. Rockets and tunnels tell you all you need to know about what these vermin are up to: Nothing good. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next decade.

And yes Mr. Talbot is correct: Get used to it. No Peace. So long as the Taliban and Hamas and Boko Haram exist, so long as these "martyrs" are calling you and I infidels and killing and kidnapping at will, get used to no peace and having to blast them in their tunnels and with drones. Moslem fundies are the world's worst conservatives who want nothing more than to establish a stone age theocracy with the long beards in power.

Hell to that. If there is anything worse than Nazism this is it...

So when I see liberal blogs snigger at yet another American southern burgh trying to outlaw "Sharia Law", I find myself increasing sympathetic. Hell yeah. Abolishing "Sharia Law" is empowering free speech and affirming gender equality. Sharia stinks on ice. Drop a "shite" bomb on it.

And when my newspaper puts on its front page that NSA targeted 5 prominent arab-americans for special monitoring, I find myself welcoming that profiling. Especially when my newspaper fails to report, that same day that the French police foiled -- via decryption of online communications-- an Arab terrorist attempt to blow up the Eiffel Tower.

The real question for liberals is: How much shite do you have to have to have in your mouth before you call it shit? I've had enough with Moslem fundamentalists. I believe the last straw for me was blowing the legs off of at marathoners at the end of a race. Its open season on these bastards. For decades to come. Get used to it.

(Interesting side note: When I write "religion sucks" not a lot of liberals are offended, but, when I focus my scorn on just one religion (Islam sucks!), I've gotten push back from the standard liberal position holder. I guess that's because Islam is a "culture" and we are supposed to respect "cultures" even if they imprison woman and hunt down infidels who throw "shite" pies at Allah.)

"It's a crap religion born out of some primitive's epileptic fits."

Wow Koreyel good post and Islam is one of two theocratic religions born out of the brain of an epileptic. The other one was raised here in the US. And is on the rise as is Islam.

Maybe I'm a hopeless romantic, but I actually expect more from Israel than from the usual Middle Eastern riff-raff. Such as adherence to civilized standards of warfare.

Look, Hamas does not have an army, and there are no conventional lines of military engagement (i.e., frontlines). The war in Gaza is an urban guerrilla war, and it needs to be fought like a guerrilla war.

Israel needs to use light infantry tactical squads to respond to Hamas tactical squads. They can't use stand-off, high-explosive, indirect fire, such as artillery, bombs, and missiles, in a densely populated urban area, to respond to squads of Hamas guerrillas who move around, set up mortar fire for hit and run attacks, then move on to another location, because most of the time, most of the casualties of such counterstrikes will be civilian noncombatants.

Israel should be using its drones and airforce, not to attack apartment buildings and houses in densely packed residential neighborhoods, or to shell Hamas tactical positions imbedded in such areas, but rather as spotters for highly mobile Israeli tactical units, so that they can quickly move in and outflank these guerrilla forces, using troops on the ground and in the area to confront them with direct fire.

Limited civilian casualties from stray bullets during a firefight would be one thing. Large civilian casualties (the majority of Palestinian casualties, in fact) resulting from the systematic abuse of high-power weapons in a densely populated urban environment, are immoral, violate civilized standards of warfare, and are militarily and strategically unsound as well.

Blaming Hamas for hiding behind civilians, or for setting up as guerrilla fighters in an urban environent instead of massing in the desert and waiting for the Israeli airforce to wipe them out en masse, is stupid. More to the point, we already know that Hamas is immoral in doing this, and that it wants to exploit civilian casualties for propaganda purposes. That changes nothing: Israel remains morally culpable for the way it responds to Hamas' cruel and unprincipled tactics.

The problem, unfortunately, is that the Israeli government and military commanders directing this operation, simply don't care about Palestinian civilian casualties, despite their "good-guy propaganda".

They would rather reduce their own military casualties by using stand-off weaponry, first to minimize the domestic political fallout from mounting losses among Israeli soldiers, and second, I'm afraid, because the punishment of Gaza civilians is viewed at high levels by strategic planners as a way to get Hamas voted out of government. (In fact, this is probably the best way to entrench them. Given time, Hamas' incompetence as civil authorities might have undermined them without outside help.)

Of course, all of this assumes that Israel needed to invade Gaza to begin with, which they did not. They provoked a tit-for-tat exchange of rockets and airstrikes, persisted in it to exacerbate it, then used it as an excuse for a ground incursion for purposes that were largely political rather than military.

A clarification. I wrote:

"Israel should be using its drones and airforce, not to attack apartment buildings and houses in densely packed residential neighborhoods, or to shell Hamas tactical positions imbedded in such areas, but rather as spotters for highly mobile Israeli tactical units, so that they can quickly move in and outflank these guerrilla forces, using troops on the ground and in the area to confront them with direct fire."

When I referred to the shelling of Hamas mortar positions, I was referring to Israeli artillery; though of course, airstrikes have also been used on areas from which mortar fire has been reported.

Emil said, "Large civilian casualties (the majority of Palestinian casualties, in fact) resulting from the systematic abuse of high-power weapons in a densely populated urban environment, are immoral, violate civilized standards of warfare,"

Civilian causalities:
What about the Allied mas bombing of Berlin and the Atomic bombs drop on Japan?

koreyel, you lost me at "these vermin."

Shame.

cal:

What about the Allied mas bombing of Berlin and the Atomic bombs drop on Japan?

More shame.

OK, does this make sense: "Rules of War"?

No. Oxymoron.

Kind of like "war crimes." Trying to put a patina of civility to the ultimate breakdown is revolting. War is the ultimate crime of failure, no getting around it.

Shame, and shame.

Oxy,
is that the Moron in charge?
And we are about to read what we already knew.
The CIA in conjunction with the NSA and the FBI were torturing people and trying to keep it a secret and when they couldn't they tried and are still trying to justify it.
I am waiting for China to start droning their "enemies." After all we set the "rules".
Get your drone at Walmart

Closer to home is the war against nature and the solitude and beauty of North Dakota.
http://www.aol.com/article/2014/07/29/building-boom-in-n-dakotas-oil-patch/20938925/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl13%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D508520

Reminds me of
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outland_(film)

koreyel has a sunni disposition!

I just caught that Jerry. Good one. Without a doubt, Koreyel is now an honorary member of our grumpy old men coffee group.

I must admit, I am so fascinated by our friend Petro. Who would have ever thunk that there was a Sicilian peacenik walking the face of the earth.

I mean this with great respect. Knowing Petro, conversing with Petro and reading his thoughts, I've never known anyone else who walks the walk and talks the talk as I would expect Jesus to do if he were here now.
Forget the religious aspect . I'm talking about the wisdom, the tolerance, the disdain for materialism.

I am amazed and humbled.

We are in an era of total war. Prior to the Middle Ages, all wars were total. Sherman and the U.S. North revived it to an extent that anything of economic value was fair game – but to my knowledge – they did not target civilians. WWI was light on civilian casualties (except for the Balkans). WWII revived the concept of total war (including civilians) and was practiced by all participants.

It is the job of the (home team) military to minimize civilian casualties – either via civil defense or evacuation. It’s not my job (as attacker) to minimize civilian casualties.

@Emil: your suggestion that the whole matter be treated as a policing action is troubling. I see nothing but replays of “Black Hawk Down” under this scenario. You can say “well that’s what they get paid for” doesn’t sit well with me.

This situation has to be viewed as a state or war between the people of Israel and the people of Gaza – all of them.

If the Israeli’s are in the genocide mode they’re not doing a very effective job of it. In fact the only really genocidal movements would appear to be in the Muslim world (e.g. Sudan and Nigeria).

@Cal: while religion has a pretty poor track record, atheists have made a stunning comeback. Witness Stalin, Hitler, Mao tse Tung, Pol Pot, etc.

The “1,000 dead” statistic is to be taken with a grain of sand.

The Israeli’s have been much more restrained than I would be under the circumstances.

Ran across this surfing during lunch:

http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/

Interesting commentary from various contributors (look in the dropdown Contra Club) including JH Kunstler.

James Kunstler does not deserve to be cited on this issue. Read his previous post which reveals his true bias. The more recent one looks to me like he's back-pedaling after he witnessed the wanton criminality of the Israelis.

WKG: I was being facetious. We just keep killing ourselves regardless.
Also I consider Atheism just another ISM.
"They are all bullshit and its bad for you." Carlin.
Meanwhile in the desert you missed.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/30/burning-man-2014-art_n_5632531.html

There is no point in attempting to appeal to wkg's moral sense, because he has none: he rejects conventional morality as an unacceptable impediment to what he calls "total war". (I will note, in passing, that "everybody does it" is not a moral argument; it is also not an accurate characterization of historical precedent or of current standards.)

What I can do is examine the logical consequences of his position and see where they lead; and I can examine both the military and strategic effectiveness of Israel's war with Gaza, since those appear to be wkg's sole criteria.

In response to my suggestion that in urban areas populated by civilians, soldiers should fight soldiers, in person and with direct fire, instead of using area-weapons such as howitzers whose high-explosive shells, fired from miles away, can fall where they will and damage who and what they will, wkg says that he is uncomfortable with soldiers taking risks.

In that case, ground troops, whether reconnaisance, special forces, snipers, infantry, or other personnel, should not be used, since they may be ambushed, killed, kidnapped, or even tortured.

Instead, stand-off weaponry (e.g., bombs, missiles, artillery) should be used to attack the other side, until one of three things happens: (1) the other side surrenders; (2) the other side is exterminated; (3) all such weapons are used up. All weapons, including nuclear explosives, poison and chemical gasses, and biological agents, should be employed (else it isn't "total war"), as long as this can be done from a distance without putting soldiers in harm's way.

Of course, eventually civilians might get tired of being used as cannon fodder, even going so far as to pressure their governments into creating a framework of international law attempting to protect noncombatants, and other liberal notions which put soldiers at unnecessary risk; but fortunately that remains part of a far-distant science-fiction future. (Whew!)

Israel, being softies, haven't quite lived up to wkg's standards in prosecuting the conflict with Gaza, as he himself admits, but they've come close enough to gain his conditional approval. So let's see what they achieved militarily and strategically.

They haven't eliminted Hamas as a fighting force, or even killed very many of its fighters, since its squad-sized groups of guerrilla fighters are mobile, moving from place to place, conducting hit and run attacks with rockets and mortars, and moving elsewhere as soon as Israel refocuses its long-distance military response toward their last known position (a general area containing far more civilians and non-miltary structures than combatants); for example, firing howitzer batteries based miles away in Ashkelon, Israel.

They haven't eliminated Hamas' extremely large stock of rockets, much less prevented Hamas from acquiring or building additional rockets in future, so Israel has not secured its citizens from rocket attacks either now or in future.

They have destroyed a number of tunnels, but there may be more, and tunnels can be rebuilt. More to the point, Israel did not cite tunnels as a reason for bombing or invasion of Gaza; they claim that they were surprised by the extent of the tunnel network and didn't discover this until after ground forces moved in and Hamas began using them for military operations; and note that this implies a general absence of tunnel use by Hamas for military purposes prior to the current conflict, since if tunnel attacks were common, Israel would have known about them previously.

So, militarily, they've gained little or nothing. Hamas is still in Gaza, Hamas still runs the government of Gaza, Hamas is still armed, and Hamas can still fire rockets into Israel. (And so can other militant groups, or even individual, disgruntled Palestinians who have taken up rocket building in their basement as an avocation.)

Of course, they might have been able to stop the rockets if they had occupied the whole of Gaza, instituted a block-watch system of informants and a military administration governing through martial law, but only for as long as they remained in Gaza; and we must rule this out because it poses an unacceptable risk to Israeli soldiers: if a quick raid to arrest Hamas leaders or seize an arms cache in Gaza makes wkg uncomfortable, just imagine the risks to an occupying military force settled in for years and years! There would be bombings and assassinations daily, and Israeli military casualties would skyrocket, with no hope of pacification since the population of Gaza almost universally opposes Israeli occupation.

These casualties to Israeli soldiers would quickly become unpopular back home and a political risk to those who insisted on seeing them through. (Been there, done that: PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Occupied Territories, Lebanon, etc.)

Strategically, Israel has failed also. They've alienated their allies (the U.S. State Department has gone so far as to call their actions "disgraceful"), and yet again provoked the condemnation of responsible neutrals such as the United Nations. They've also created a whole new generation of militants and terrorists (and their sympathizers and abettors), who will fill the ranks of Hamas and other militant Muslim groups to settle old scores (such as destroyed homes and killed/maimed family members).

The toll: roughly 2,000 dead and perhaps 10,000 wounded Gazans now fill morgues and hospitals to overflowing, not to mention whole neighborhoods pulverized and an already inadequate civil infrastructure ruined; with the very real possibility of additional mass casualties from diseases spread by damaged sewage and water systems still to come.

So exactly what did all that mayhem and all that loss of civilian life and property accomplish?

Well, it has made Bibi Netanyahu and other hardliners in the Israeli cabinet and Knesset very popular with the dunces who voted them into office.

Now, Israel talks of ending military operations and returning to the pre-conflict status quo, while simultaneously claiming to have accomplished its military objectives. What else could they say? There were never any military objectives to begin with: Israel's military advisers and political leadership knew that neither bombing nor a limited ground incursion into Gaza could stop rockets from being fired into Israel, or disarm Hamas, or remove Hamas from control of Gaza's government. They bombed and then invaded for political, not military objectives, because this was domestically popular with Israeli constituents after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.

The Israeli' s could have spent all that money and time and manpower with a minimal casualty rate on improving and adding to the Iron Dome.

Re: “There is no point in attempting to appeal to wkg's moral sense, because he has none: he rejects conventional morality as an unacceptable impediment to what he calls "total war". (I will note, in passing, that "everybody does it" is not a moral argument; it is also not an accurate characterization of historical precedent or of current standards.)”

I do not approve of total war. To note the existence for something is not to approve of it.

If the other side declares total war then you have little choice. Fortunately, since the middle ages there have been only isolated incidences of total war –WWII being the main exception. I might add that total war has not proved to be effective. WWII showed that it did nothing but piss off the enemy. Further, Israel is not practicing it now. The main practitioners of total war in current times are Islamic movements here and there (e.g. Sudan, Nigeria, and Bosnia).

I’m sorry that my realism does not live up to your standards of moralism.

Re: “What I can do is examine the logical consequences of his position and see where they lead; and I can examine both the military and strategic effectiveness of Israel's war with Gaza, since those appear to be wkg's sole criteria.”

Whatever criteria would there be?

What if the internet and 24 hr cable were around when the United States of America needed for the Indians to be gone ?

Countries that live in glass houses .............................

Let he who is without sin cast the first.........................


http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/what-would-hamas-do-if-it-could-do-whatever-it-wanted/375545/

@Emil regarding “In response to my suggestion that in urban areas populated by civilians, soldiers should fight soldiers, in person and with direct fire, instead of using area-weapons such as howitzers whose high-explosive shells, fired from miles away, can fall where they will and damage who and what they will, wkg says that he is uncomfortable with soldiers taking risks.”

“In that case, ground troops, whether reconnaisance, special forces, snipers, infantry, or other personnel, should not be used, since they may be ambushed, killed, kidnapped, or even tortured.”

I agree that soldiers should fight soldiers. One of the main distinctions between “total war” and just ordinary old war. Here’s the thing: Gaza doesn’t have soldiers. A soldier wears a uniform. A soldier has a chain of command. A soldier is an arm of a national government. A soldier does what he can reasonably do to minimize civilian casualties – to a point. Hamas does not qualify in any of these regards. Hamas is, to my way of thinking, Gazans with guns.

Modern artillery is very accurate. Shells don’t fall “where they will”. With radar, the launch point of a rocket can be determined with great accuracy. Thus a rocket launch from Gaza will be detected, located and targeted within a minute or two. This is not random targeting of civilians.
Taking risk is part and parcel of being in the military. Good leadership is minimizing those risks within the scope of the mission at hand. Small force incursions into an area infested with armed opponents is not acceptable risk. You either go in with overwhelming force or you don’t go in at all. Israel, with as you noted, has as good intelligence and undercover operatives as exist anywhere; even they admit the inability to significantly peruse small force incursions.

Re: “Instead, stand-off weaponry (e.g., bombs, missiles, artillery) should be used to attack the other side, until one of three things happens: (1) the other side surrenders; (2) the other side is exterminated; (3) all such weapons are used up. All weapons, including nuclear explosives, poison and chemical gasses, and biological agents, should be employed (else it isn't "total war"), as long as this can be done from a distance without putting soldiers in harm's way. “

See my previous comments regarding “total war”. Classic case of “slippery slope” argumentation. I really would have expected better from you. Add a 4th result to your enumeration: (4) the rocket attacks and tunnel building cease.

Re: “Of course, eventually civilians might get tired of being used as cannon fodder, even going so far as to pressure their governments into creating a framework of international law attempting to protect noncombatants, and other liberal notions which put soldiers at unnecessary risk; but fortunately that remains part of a far-distant science-fiction future. (Whew!)”
Good luck with that. Witness WWII. The four most advanced civilizations on earth (USA, Germany, UK and Japan) and the beastly USSR waged the most total of wars. Soldiers died by the millions. It’s a tribute to modern times that such actions have not been repeated.

Re: “Israel, being softies, haven't quite lived up to wkg's standards in prosecuting the conflict with Gaza, as he himself admits, but they've come close enough to gain his conditional approval. So let's see what they achieved militarily and strategically.”

My only qualm with Israel’s actions has been their agreeing to various cease fires and allowing the flow of materials into the region via Israel. The pressure must be relentless. Since I view the equality of Hamas = Gaza; anything that supports the population of Gaza supports Hamas.

Re: “They haven't eliminted Hamas as a fighting force, or even killed very many of its fighters, since its squad-sized groups of guerrilla fighters are mobile, moving from place to place, conducting hit and run attacks with rockets and mortars, and moving elsewhere as soon as Israel refocuses its long-distance military response toward their last known position (a general area containing far more civilians and non-miltary structures than combatants); for example, firing howitzer batteries based miles away in Ashkelon, Israel.”

“They haven't eliminated Hamas' extremely large stock of rockets, much less prevented Hamas from acquiring or building additional rockets in future, so Israel has not secured its citizens from rocket attacks either now or in future.”

“They have destroyed a number of tunnels, but there may be more, and tunnels can be rebuilt. More to the point, Israel did not cite tunnels as a reason for bombing or invasion of Gaza; they claim that they were surprised by the extent of the tunnel network and didn't discover this until after ground forces moved in and Hamas began using them for military operations; and note that this implies a general absence of tunnel use by Hamas for military purposes prior to the current conflict, since if tunnel attacks were common, Israel would have known about them previously.”
“So, militarily, they've gained little or nothing. Hamas is still in Gaza, Hamas still runs the government of Gaza, Hamas is still armed, and Hamas can still fire rockets into Israel. (And so can other militant groups, or even individual, disgruntled Palestinians who have taken up rocket building in their basement as an avocation.)”

As you say, Hamas is still operates with impunity in Gaza. On the other hand the damage to Israel has been relatively minor. So in that regard I would have to judge it as being quite effective. The NYT sidebar that as posted at the time indicated that the countries (at least those with a government) were washing their hands of the whole Gaza/Hamas situation.

Ruben:

What if the internet and 24 hr cable were around when the United States of America needed for the Indians to be gone ?

Before "the United States of America" takes too much credit for its efficient genocide, remember that they (we) were helped by the serendipitous (sarcasm alert) presence of new diseases that the indigenous were biologically unprepared for.

Don't think the Internet would've helped that.

(Not that this erodes your excellent point. And further - with our fastidious support of the very-right-wing current Israeli government - we do not need the stain of history to indict us. But it is a bonus accusation.)

Gaylord, I generally don't agree with Kunstler on economics or Israel. His last few columns on Israel have been painful to get thru.

http://vimeo.com/50531435

Jon good post on what would Hamas do.

WKG and Emil. I repeat myself. No such thing as rules of war. And with in the next 25 years the entire planet may be at war. But not to worry as in the next 50 years planet humans will all be Muslims and Shari law will be in effect. You will just have to decide if you are a Shiite or a Sunni.

http://www.cbn.com/tv/embedplayer.aspx?bcid=1509282970001

wkg wrote:

"Modern artillery is very accurate. Shells don’t fall “where they will”. With radar, the launch point of a rocket can be determined with great accuracy."

Ridiculous. Why, then, do Israeli artillery shells keep hitting U.N. faciliies where civilians fleeing their homes and the fighting have taken shelter? Facilities which the U.N. has given the Israeli military GPS coodinates to, dozens of times.

If the artillery is accurate, then the attacks are deliberate. If the artillery is inaccurate, then it is irresponsible to use such weapons. And in fact, it is irresponsible anyway: they use high-explosives, and the blast radius does not distinguish beween civilians and Hamas guerrillas nearby.

There is a reason these are called "area weapons":

"Such shells have a lethal radius of 50 to 150 metres and causes injury up to 300 metres from its point of impact. Furthermore, such indirect-fire artillery (meaning it is fired out of direct sight of the target) has a margin of error of 200 to 300 metres."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/gaza-civilian-death-toll-military-training-experts

Here's what U.S. military experts on Israeli combat tactics have to say. From the same Guardian article:

Andrew Exum, a former US army officer who has studied Israel's military campaigns, said ... There are good strategic reasons to avoid using air power and artillery in these conflicts: they tend to be pretty indiscriminate in their effects and make it difficult for the population under fire to figure out what they're supposed to do to be safe," said Exum, who was a defence department special adviser on the Middle East.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/31/gaza-civilian-death-toll-military-training-experts

Israel also uses bombs, missiles, and artillery to attack apartment buildings and houses in residential neighborhoods because Hamas fighters are known or suspected of being inside, even though the majority of residents are noncombatants. You simply can't avoid large civilian casualties in such circumstances, using high-powered weapons like these, no matter how accurate they are (or aren't).

wkg: "Thus a rocket launch from Gaza will be detected, located and targeted within a minute or two."

Ridiculous. Israel doesn't have drones everywhere, at all times, nor does it have forward artillery observers in all locations in Gaza.

It can take more than two minutes just for rockets to travel. Israel has time to sound local air-raid sirens and for civilians to get to shelters, if they're quick. Then the source has to be determined, if possible. Then that has to be communicated to artillery or other responding forces like jets. Then the jets have to be vectored and travel to the target area, or artillery adjusted to the proper vector, range, and elevation.

Mobile guerrilla squads don't wait around to be shelled by artillery. They fire and run. That's guerrilla warfare. Not only do area weapons like artillery kill mostly civilians in such cases, for the simple reason that there are far more civilians than combatants in the area, but they are also ineffective as a military response, because they often fail to hit highly mobile targets.

Also, remember, we're talking not just about rocket launches, but also mortar strikes. One of the recent shellings of civilians sheltering in a U.N. complex took place because Israel said it had reports of three men on a motorcycle firing mortars. To respond to that with area weapons, with civilians sheltering nearby, is completely immoral, and is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions (which, incidentally, were written after WW II).

Note also that the fact that war crimes have occurred before and since then by various parties, does not in any way justify Israel's war crimes in this particular conflict. There ARE rules of war.

wkg: "I agree that soldiers should fight soldiers."

You don't. You wrote that your "only qualm" with Israel’s actions has been their agreeing to various cease fires..."

The fact that Hamas guerrillas aren't always wearing uniforms doesn't change the fact that guerrillas can be fought by soldiers, and should be in urban areas where civilian casualties would be caused by the use of area weapons like artillery. A combatant is easy to identify in Gaza: he is carrying weapons and/or shooting at you.

wkg: "Small force incursions into an area infested with armed opponents is not acceptable risk. You either go in with overwhelming force or you don’t go in at all."

The Israeli army is not going in with overwhelming force. They are not using large infantry forces to confront Hamas guerrillas with direct fire: they are using stand-off weapons like artillery to attack them at a distance.

Besides, you don't know what you're talking about when you say that squad-level combat is an unacceptable risk. It certainly isn't an unacceptable risk to the civilian population, unlike being bombed and shelled with howitzers.

And small scale actions are exactly how guerrilla war is effectively fought. Hamas guerrillas are organized into squad sized teams, often just a few men, who conduct hit and run attacks.

You need a highly mobile light infantry trained to respond in kind. You have to take the fight to the enemy, on the ground, and that means using soldiers. Highly mobile, highly trained light infantry squads specializing in urban counterinsurgency, using stealth, concealment, tricks and traps, and quick outflanking maneuvers, are far less likely to take casualties than a large number of ordinary soldiers, who don't move quickly and stand out like a sore thumb. They're also far more likely to kill guerrillas, and far less likely to cause civilian casualties than area weapons.

It's easy to set up ambushes and traps for cumbersome mass formations, whether on foot or armored. Most of the casualties the U.S. experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan were from roadside bomb attacks on moving columns of regular troops.

What's truly "disturbing" here is the way that the Israeli government, its shills in the media, and those who parrot them uncritically, keep trying to justify wartime behavior that is clearly immoral and illegal.

I saw Alan Dershowitz on CNN propagandizing for Israeli war criminals. He used an analogy of a bank robbery in which a robber is holding hostages inside at gunpoint. He notes that under U.S. criminal law, the robber, not the police, is responsible for the deaths of civilians, even if they are shot by police.

But that is only true if the police sent in a SWAT team, which is proportional and trained to use targeted force. An errant bullet in such circumstances is a tragedy, but the robber is legally culpable.

Imagine if the police (or the military) responded by dropping a bomb on the bank, then said: "We deeply regret the deaths of innocent civilians, whom we never target. But we had to stop the robber. He's at fault for using human shields."

There would be lawsuits and federal criminal charges. How would you like it if your wife and children were killed in this fashion because authorities irresponsibly used indiscriminate and excessive force without regard to civilian casualties?

Similarly, these same media sources keep trying to obscure the question of civilian casualies itself. The United Nations says that 70 to 80 percent of casualties in Gaza are civilians. The Israeli government claims to have killed 900 fighters, or about half of the total deaths. Either way, 70 or 50 percent, it's immoral, unjustified, and quite avoidable.

It isn't all that difficult to begin to sort out who is who in hospitals and morgues. In Gaza, guerilla fighters are grown men in the prime of life.

One can exclude young children, the elderly, and women. Hamas is a patriarchal, fundamentalist group and, unlike the Communists in Vietnam, does not employ females as guerrilla fighters. They may in rare instances use them as suicide bombers, but there is no mistaking these as noncombatants and this occurs rarely if at all.

Quite aside from all of this, as documented above, Israel broke the 2012 truce with Hamas, bombing Gaza on June 29. Hamas didn't start firing rockets until June 30. Israel persisted with, and exacerbated, hostilities. Then they used this as an excuse to invade. They don't have to be in Gaza.

P.S. Radar is line of sight. There is no way to use radar to home in on the exact launch position of rockets fired from the ground, below radar and hidden behind intervening structures.

Good post Emil, U have brought Sun Tzu into the conversation. I agree with all that you said in this last couple of posts however I still find "The Rules of War" to be an absurd statement!

wkg wrote:

"I do not approve of total war. To note the existence for something is not to approve of it."

Earlier, wkg wrote:

"We are in an era of total war. Prior to the Middle Ages, all wars were total... WWII revived the concept of total war (including civilians) and was practiced by all participants... It’s not my job (as attacker) to minimize civilian casualties... This situation has to be viewed as a state or war between the people of Israel and the people of Gaza – all of them... My only qualm with Israel’s actions has been their agreeing to various cease fires..."

That certainly sounds like advocacy rather than mere notation.

I agree, incidentally, that Israel is not committing "genocide". That's hyperbole and a preposterous abuse of language. What they are doing (or have been doing) is slaughtering civilians, quite unnecessarily.

wkg wrote:

"Small force incursions into an area infested with armed opponents is not acceptable risk. You either go in with overwhelming force or you don’t go in at all."

Just curious: did you view the use of SEAL teams to grab Bin Laden as a mistake, because it involved a risk (as all military operations do)? Or do you think we should have invaded Pakistan using the full U.S. military machine? (No risk there, huh?)

It's a strange form of military planning which insists on either complete mobilization or none.

Would you get rid of all special forces, all reconnaisance teams, and all snipers, because they are small groups?

Even a large army has to be divided into smaller sections and units, because armies don't line up in one long row facing each other and fight; they have to cover a lot of ground. Armies don't fight one another, units of soldiers do. Did you ever watch that WW II series starring Vic Morrow called Combat, which followed a U.S. army squad?

Emil, I recall Viv Morrow as I do Lee Marvin and the Dirty Dozen. Now we have Brad Pitt and the Inglorious Bastards.

I find little sanity in "War". particularly statements like
"Rules of War and Spoils of War."

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