Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Candorville on Israel

Israel is our ally, and rightly so. And any nation has a right to defend itself. Almost everyone agrees about those two precepts. I believe Israel has a right to exist, and just as with the U.S., I'm going to speak out when I think their tactics are either inhumane or counterproductive. The best way to ensure your nation's longevity is to avoid behaving in a way that costs you the support of the world and causes much of the Arab world, which increasingly held Hezbollah in disfavor, to change its mind. Today's Candorville questions the wisdom of Israel putting a rush order on cluster bombs that have a wide radius of destruction if what they were trying to do in the Lebanon War was be precise and avoid civilian casualties. One of my favorite newspaper editors received a phone call about that, and passed it on to me (I've removed the names):

Promised the reader I would pass this along.

Just received a telephone call from a reader regarding your strip today. (name redacted) called to request that you write an "equally hilarious strip about Palistinian suicide bombers" --

My response:
Hi (name redacted),

If you wouldn't mind, please suggest to the reader that he check out yesterday's equally-hilarious strip about an Iranian president who wants to wipe Israel off the map. I'm always intrigued at how people can completely ignore the strips they agree with but zero in on the one they find objectionable.

You might also tell him that responsible, rational governments such as Israel's should behave with more restraint and wisdom than a suicide bomber. We shouldn't excuse either our own actions or those of our allies by comparing them to the despicable actions of terrorists. Otherwise, what makes "us" better than "them"?


Paul said...

First off, I laughed out loud at the Iranian President strip - says it all. Really, no howls of outrage over that one?

The subject - it's a tough subject. I've been uneasy with the term "surgical strike" ever since it started getting tossed around with the advent of precision guided munitions. WWII and Korea, air delivery was over a wide area to make sure the target was hit. Even as late as Viet Nam this was the norm, with the limitation being the guidance system (got the pilot to the area, but after release the bomb was on its' own). "Surgical strike" makes it seem definite, no error (surgeons rarely make mistakes or operate on the wrong part of the body, right?). But there's still a lot of margin for error, and not all the delivery systems are equally accurate.

Understand, much of the selection of munitions is a backward formula. Planners don't say "we've got cluster munitions, what'll we target?" It's more - this is the target. These are the targets' characteristics. What's the most effective weapon to take out the target? And if that weapon doesn't work, what do we use next?"

So if you have a group of people with a bunch of portable rockets, or missiles dispersed over a localized area, one "surgical strike" with a 500 lb bomb will not destroy the targets. A cluster bomb is an area denial weapon - can initially kill the targets in the area, kill the people equipment attempting to leave, and keep the enemy from using the area in the future or recovering the rockets that weren't destroyed. So technically they are effective.

But the reality is, technical effectiveness isn't enough. Hopefully the Israelis will not use them in civilian areas (and just where in Lebanon would that be?). Of course, what are the rockets and missiles doing in civilian population centers in the first place? To give Hezbollah a great propaganda opportunity to further inflame the Moslem world against Israel when the rockets are attacked and civilians are killed.

And the fact that Hezbollah specifically targets civilian centers with no military targets is no justification. But Israel may have done an after action assessment, determined the weapons/tactics they used weren't effective, figured they'd be damned no matter the weapons they used, so may as well get damned and take out the rockets and Hezbollah.

Paul said...

Re: an earlier discussion: Tues, Aug 29, National Geographic Television will show The Final Report: Osama's Escape. Looks interesting, will be interesting to see the take of the different agencies and of course, I expect we'll hear a few "if only they had listened to me the world would be different" comments a la Richard Clarke.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with cluster bombs? A bomb is a bomb, no?

Chuck said...

Darrin Bell said:
"We shouldn't excuse either our own actions or those of our allies by comparing them to the despicable actions of terrorists. Otherwise, what makes "us" better than "them"?"

Opposite sides of the political spectrum--and yet on this I am 100% agreed, Darrin. But the difficulty is "WHERE" we draw the line. When a group resorts to terrorist or guerrilla tactics, it seems cowardly. It's no crime to strike back when you've been struck. But when the evil comes from EVERYWHERE, without a name attached other than "Al-Qaeda", or "Quadaffi", or "Saddam", it really makes things hard.
To quote a phrase: "If a man should strike you on the cheek, turn the other one to him as well. " But I doubt that this means "Become a doormat".

Governments are NOT rational bodies. If they were, would ANYTHING be occurring? There is no "Prime Directive". If there was, what kind of situation would we be in today? Would there have been an attack on the Towers? Would WWI, WWII, and WWIII have occurred? (I believe that WWIII began on the day that the towers were destroyed--and there are plenty who agree)

As long as we are people, with our own beliefs, prejudices, and power trips, we shall always be in trouble. But, I'd rather be human than a mindless automaton. When we learn to put away our passions-and toys of war... we will become what we are meant to be- brothers and sisters.

Anonymous said...

Re: The problem with cluster bombs: