Tuesday, August 01, 2006

If Dave cares about dead children, the terrorists have won

Latest in a series. It is of course terrible that those kids got killed, but not so terrible that it should stop happening, is the blunt message here. As far as I can see, Dave is to the right of Norman Geras here as, for all the crocodile tears, his message appears to be that the Qana bombing was acceptable collateral damage, it's all the fault of those Hezbollah, so we must gird our loins, harden our hearts and perhaps stop watching the news until ... well, until "the job has been done". Hey let me tell you what a goddamn anti-Semite that Nasrallah is!

We're all hypocrites about enemy life versus our own. Let me explain something about that UN post. Hezbollah were indeed sheltering behind it and potting at the Israelis[1]. A commander in this situation has two alternatives: he can charge the Hezbollah position with ground troops and attempt to overcome it, or he can use artillery and call in airstrikes. The first alternative is more costly in terms of his own troops' lives, the second is more likely to kill the UN observers. The law of war, in a lot of circumstances, obliges a commander to protect noncombatants even at the expense of taking more casualties. Somebody chose not to do that. The UN observers, including the Canadian who sent that email, died because Hezbollah hid behind them. But they also died because someone decided that their lives were not worth risking IDF soldiers.

And this rather generalises; Hezbollah had been sending rockets over the border for years and nobody thought it was worth bombing dairies and strafing minivans for. Basically all of the casualties of this war, became casualties because somebody decided that this war was an acceptable price to pay to rescue two kidnapped soldiers. Regard for civilian life, how are ya. Our own side's decisions always seem more humane to us, but that's because they're ours.

There is no asymmetry in demanding that both sides abstain from war crimes. This is a minimum standard, not a special one, it is much lower than any special standard of humane or even sane behaviour and Dave appears not to be respecting it (as Norman says, "Qana is a tragedy, but it is not enough to call it a tragedy" (emphasis added). The reason why everyone wants a ceasefire is that this is a war which has no war aims; there is no non-genocidal way in which it can be won and no reason why it should ever have been started in anythign like its current form. This is "the new orthodoxy" because it is transparently true. Dave is a fine one to talk about other people's cartoon view of reality with "Bad Blair" and "Murdering Olmert" when his own point of view appears to be that it is worth two hundred dead Lebanese a week to not let "AntiSemitic Nasrallah" have bragging rights.

How can you argue with the impulse to not do something pointless and expensive which kills people? Perhaps the only way to get rid of this temptation is to yield to it.

update I suppose at least kudos to Dave for at least having the balls to explicitly make the argument that a lot of Decents appear to be shying away from.

update update check out Captain Cabernet's fantastic spot on Dave's source in the comments.

[1]Of course, logically, it does not follow from the fact that the bombs which did not kill those four observers were not aimed at them, that the one which did kill them also was not. But for the sake of argument here.


Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Just to note, that the Canadian general to whom Dave refers is Lewis MacKenzie. Two points about Gen MacKenzie:

(1) He is hardly an independent expert, as it were, since he is going round giving speeches to pro-Israel rallies. See


(2) MacKenzie is notorious in the pre-history of Decency as an apologist for the Bosnian Serbs and someone who tried to pin the "marketplace massacre" on the Muslims who he alleged bombed their own side to curry favour with the West.

8/01/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger the management said...

oh dear, Dave once more gets caught out by relying on blogs as his source?

8/01/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's also a Srebrenica apologist


8/01/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Oh fantastic! He even has a walk-on role in the whole Kamm-Aaro-Wheen v Brockes and Chomsky saga. See Kamm at


Kamm: "Now, MacKenzie's views on culpability for atrocities committed in the Bosnian war may be right or they may be wrong (they are wrong and reprehensible), but if you're going to cite him as an authoritative source, as Chomsky does and Ms Abson repeats, you ought to mention this background. If I did a round of television interviews defending Tony Blair’s alliance with the Bush administration's foreign policies and received a five-figure appearance fee paid by, say, the Project for a New American Century, you would want to know that detail. And if I failed to declare it, you would have something to say on the matter."

8/01/2006 04:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who's going to give Dave the bad news?

8/01/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

It just keeps getting better, doesn't it? Somebody has to tell him.

8/01/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Nice work guys, I've linked to this at HP sauce for their information.

8/01/2006 10:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

crikey no offence sonic, but I knew they were casting the net wide for contributors but I must admit I'm surprised that they asked you.

8/02/2006 06:04:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Bruschetta Boy and Captain Cabernet, what do you think about Hezbollah? Really. I ask because for all the bluster, it sounds like you think they are liars and murderers who hide behind women and children. It sounds like your view is pretty similar to – wait for it – Dave’s.

8/02/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

Just let me back into comments mate, although I must say after posting again for a couple of days I am wondering why I bothered.

8/02/2006 09:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So BB (yeah you – not Brigitte Bardot or Bertolt Brecht) and you too CC – what is it with you guys? It’s me again, anonymous. What are you waiting for? Let’s hear your views on Hezbollah – I’m really wondering about your thinking here because it is pretty clear that ultimately you agree with Dave but feel obliged to find some point of disagreement. And on this issue, I don’t think there is much disagreement between you and him. (I just don’t think that Mr
Nasrallah is your kind of guy – and I don’t think he’d be too crazy about your blog either.) So come on, admit it – you agree with Dave. PS If I don’t hear from you soon I’ll have to start a new blog: Aaronovitch Watch, Watch.

8/03/2006 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ray said...

hey anonymous, dsquared wrote a post on Crooked Timber recently about Hezbollah's war crimes. Do try to keep up.

8/04/2006 08:20:00 AM  

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