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Links With Your Coffee - Friday

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  • xkcd - A Webcomic - Converting to Metric

  • The Satirical Political Report - An Offbeat Look at the Hot-Button Issues of the Day » Michael Moore Lays Out His ‘Conditions’ for Sanjay as Surgeon General

  • America then and now - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com

  • Op-Ed Contributor - What You Don’t Know About Gaza - NYTimes.com

  • Israel May Face Charges for War Crime | CommonDreams.org

  • gaza comment

    I recently retired from the US Marine Corps, but I saw service in Iraq. I do know something of military matters that are relevant to the situation now in Gaza.

    I am dismayed by the rhetoric from US politicians and pundits to the effect that “if the US were under rocket attack from Mexico or Canada, we would respond like the Israelis”. This a gross insult to US servicemen; I can assure you that we would NOT respond like the Israelis. In fact, US armed forces and adjunct civilians are under attack constantly in Iraq and Afghanistan by people who are much better armed, much better trained and far deadlier than Hamas (I’ll ignore for now that the politicians seem to be oblivious to this fact). Israel has indeed taken a small number of casualties from Hamas rocket fire (about 20 killed since 2001), but we have taken thousands of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many civilian personnel. Hundreds of American casualties have occurred due to indirect fire, often from mortars. This is particularly true in or near the Green Zone in Baghdad. This fire often originates from densely populated urban areas.

    Americans do not, I repeat DO NOT, respond to that fire indiscriminately. When I say “indiscriminately”, I mean that even if we can precisely identify the source of the fire (which can be very difficult), we do not respond if we know we will cause civilian casualties. We always evaluate the threat to civilians before responding, and in an urban area the threat to civilians is extremely high. If US servicemen violate those rules of engagement and harm civilians, I assure you we do our best to investigate -- and mete out punishment if warranted. There are differing opinions on the conflict in Iraq, but I am proud of the conduct of our servicemen there.

    With that in mind, I find the conduct of the Israeli army in Gaza to be brutal and dishonorable, and it is insulting that they and others claim that the US military would behave in the same way. I know the Israelis are operating under difficult circumstances, but their claim that they follow similar rules of engagement rings hollow; I see little evidence for this claim given the huge number of civilian casualties they have caused from indirect fire.



  • ChessBase.com - Chess News - Chess in Schools – the Shevah-Mofet Academy in Tel-Aviv
    In many countries the education system is in crisis, with academic scores dropping. Some schools are discovering that chess lessons dramatically change the attitude of students, and develop intuition and experience in modulating most practical solutions for similar tasks in their real lives. An elite school in Israel has set up a Chess Academy run by a grandmaster

  • A Commonplace Blog: A family of readers

  • Bookslut | Me and Eric Blair Down by the Schoolyard

 

Comments

Sigh. War Crimes? Were you posting about Hamas rockets lauched indiscriminately at civilians in Southern Israel, even during the cease fire? I suppose you've convinced yourself that doesn't count as a war crime.

Sigh. War Crimes? Were you posting about Hamas rockets lauched indiscriminately at civilians in Southern Israel, even during the cease fire?

No, I wasn't posting about Hamas rockets during the cease fire nor was I posting about Israel's failure to live up to its part of the truce agreement.

Yes, war crimes. Something both sides are guilty of committing. Certainly you're not trying to justify Israel's illegal behavior because Hamas also engages in illegal acts.

Didn't your mother ever tell you two wrongs don't make a right.

I suppose you've convinced yourself that Israel isn't committing war crimes, sigh.

Israel isn't guilty of war crimes. This is because the war codes by which you're judging them do not apply.

And the people who are to blame for this are the very people you are trying to portray as victims.

You cannot abandon the rules of 'civilized war', conduct a terror campaign whose express goal is the eradication of a people, and then complain when the people you're trying to obliterate take actions to defend themselves. In many ways you and people who mimic your talking points remind me of Tom Wilkinson's character in "The Patriot" - complaining that in "civilized war", everyone knows we stand in perfectly straight lines a few feet from each other and take turns.

I realize you're not going to give an inch on this matter (even if you don't really believe most of the things you say, you have a business to run). But your position is analogous to not allowing the police to speed in order to catch speeders. I mean, aren't the police breaking the law, too?

And I also wonder at how anyone can complain about the supposed brutality of the Israeli response when, although civilian lives have been claimed, Israel has done many things to minimize the number of civilians killed, including dropping leaflets, making phone calls, and warning people prior to strikes. When you combine this with the proven disinformation campaign being propagated by pro-Palestinian causes and blindly echoed by the mainstream media (such as the recent fiasco of CNN airing, then pulling, staged video of an 'innocent Palestinian boy killed by targeted Israeli rocket fire') ... I don't think you're being reasonable.

Frankly I'm curious to know what resolution you propose. If you were able to dictate Israeli policy in this matter, what would you recommend?

Consider this an undeserved courtesy. You are just the latest in a long line of trolls who visit this blog. You may even be one of those from the past, since what they all have in common are funny names, and weak arguments. Your welcome to continue leaving your comments but I won't be responding to them.

I'm curious - is the 'troll' designation applied to anyone who disagrees with you, or only those who so effectively state their point (and rebut yours) that you can think of no other response?

i think it might be calligraph, judging by the style. i still dont think that "trolls" should be banned, and i'm glad to see you're not doing so here, norm. why not allow those who have the time and inclination to respond? unless, of course, it gets out of hand, as it has before. but that doesn't seem to be happenning here, at least not yet. and there doesn't seem to be all that much traffic at the moment, unfortunately. maybe he'll piss people off enough to allow a real discussion.

Here's a pretty good account of some Israeli war crimes: http://www.doublestandards.org/hedges1.html

Here's another: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7363.htm

Here's one more: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/06/09/ap/world/mainD8I4QCMG0.shtml

Here's a charming photo: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-15099-14.html

I don't know about you, but I would only be able to tolerate one or two of these types of incidents before I would start looking around for a rocket launcher.

big daddy, your links and the photo are all between 2 and 8 years old and only one of them has anything at all to do with gaza.

if your point is that historical context is important, i can tell you from experience you won't get very far with that here, or indeed most places on the net. if your point is that you've been building a list of reasons to hate the israelis and love their enemies, well- ahem- la de da. join the (very large) club.

... I would only be able to tolerate one or two of these types of incidents before I would start looking around for a rocket launcher.

why not a suicide belt? they're just as strategically insignificant and pointless.

If rocket launchers & suicide belts are so strategically insignificant, why are they always offered as the rationalization for Israel's current actions in Gaza? You seem incapable of discussing this topic rationally. Can Israel do no wrong?

If rocket launchers & suicide belts are so strategically insignificant, why are they always offered as the rationalization for Israel's current actions in Gaza?

i could answer this fairly easily if the question weren't rhetorical in your mind. but i'll try anyway:

  1. this rationalization is only offered by unreasonable, uninformed, simple minded people, or those who make their livings working for the media or government propaganda machines, or those who are directly affected by hamas rocket attacks, around 1 million civilian israelis. in other words, NOT ME.

the obvious rebuttal to this thinking is that if this were a war to protect israeli civilians, it would have been launched 3 years ago, after the withdrawal from gaza and the first few rocket attacks from there without occupation as a "justification". my own idea as to the real reasons for the timing and goals of the operation have been expressed elswhere on this blog- namely, regime change so that fatah can be installed and negotiated with for a two state solution- something hamas, by it's own admission, is not interested in.

You seem incapable of discussing this topic rationally.

all due respect, go fuck yourself. you showed your own version of rationality by the links you chose to make your point- which was that if you were in the situation of the palestinians, which is much more complex than you can understand, being blinded by vitriol, you too would behave just as irrationally. well, congratulations. but don't lecture me about "rationality".

Thanks for proving me right.

always happy to be of help.

johnjacobjingle, he's got a point there - you either agree with him, or you're just waltzing around hoping to entice people. This is simply how forums and response boxes work, see, there is no middle ground. It also saves a lot of time and afford.

re: the gaza comment being discussed here:

this ex marine confuses iraq and gaza, civilians and combatants, politics and the military, and his areas of expertise with...the opposite, in a way that only a military mind possibly could.

is he actually bragging that his own troops took casualties out of concern for the wives and children of the enemy? and that this policy had something to do with the american military? i wouldn't even know where to begin to untangle this idiocy. but if this were actually so, who would join the armed forces?

anyway, question:

US armed forces and adjunct civilians are under attack constantly in Iraq and Afghanistan

assuming this is so (and that's assuming a lot, mr. "green zone") what exactly is an "adjunct civilian" in iraq or afghanistan? an army cook? the blackwater guys? what american do YOU consider an illegitimate target over there? just curious.

in my understanding of military matters, it is unseemly for a soldier to criticize other soldiers in public at all, except on rare occasions when members of his OWN army have behaved so despicably there's nothing to do but blow the whistle. but this man, in writing this and blaming the israeli army for political decisions (which he seems to have no grasp of), is simply talking out his ass, and disgracing the u.s. marine corp, who know better.

i really try not to get bogged down in discussions of specific incidents, i'm mostly interested in the bigger picture. but this is from the article you linked to:

Last night, the Israel Defence Force, stood by its initial account."The source of the fire was from within the school compound and that we returned fire and we have intelligence information that we hit the actual mortar firing squad that was firing at us," said Captain Benjamin Rutland, an Israeli military spokesman.

so how is it it that israel "admitted" fault? because the gaurdian says the u.n. says that an israeli officer said so at the time of the incident? remember, proper investigation of these things takes time.

what about the unrwa driver supposedly shot by israelis? it's looking more and more like it was hamas fire that killed him.

if you're going to post uncooked stories just because they make israel look bad, why bother? there are plenty of undisputed facts out there that do the same thing. :)

here's the latest on that (still not quite fully cooked) story:

http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1054284.html

You provide Israeli comment on the situation, but the IDF prevent international press members entering the war zone.

I take the Guardian and the BBC's view to be (relatively) dispassionate, unlike your own.

What about this group of leading British Jews?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/11/gaza-israelandthepalestinians

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7822656.stm

i iz not dizpassionates? well, i suppose not. i do my best under the circumstances. my intention in posting that link for you was, indeed, to show the results of the idfs investigation of the matter, since you and many others claimed that ISRAEL had admitted,etc. i wanted to point out that, if people actually read the story they would see that the u.n. CLAIMED that an israeli officer had admitted PRIVATELY to them on the day of the incident, but that official israel was still conducting it's investigation. the idf has a long history of taking blame and reponsibility first and investigating later. the results of this particular investigation actually do look much more thourough and reliable than the u.n.'s testimony up to that point, which was based entirely on hearsay and circumstantial evidence- and, i think, their own interest in "making israel look bad". i was just saying it's quite easy to make israel look bad without relying on malicious hearsay.

there is certainly no love lost between israel and the u.n., and it's not hard for me to believe the driver might have been killed by israel. but to what purpose, for heaven's sake? what would israel gain by doing such a thing?

about foreign journalists not being allowed into gaza- i too don't like the sound of that. but for some perspective, just be aware that the bbc, french tv and sky news (all of which i have available here on cable) all have correspondants who report live from inside gaza. these brave people are simply not "foreigners", they're gazans. so it's not like there is some kind of complete information blackout.

btw, neither i nor any other israeli who follows news of israel in the international press consider the bbc or the gaurdian dispassionate observers, but i've found it's pointless to argue about it. much of their reporting is, indeed, excellent, but their biases on israel are quite transparant. haaretz newspaper is biased in the same way-against israel. even though it's an israeli paper,it's much more left wing on israeli security matters than either bbc or the gaurdian. which is why i use it for links i post here. this doesn't mean it refuses to quote what the idf says, of course. they just spend the next few days tearing it to shreds. a bit less during an actual war. if you want some truly hair raising anti-israel articles, google amira hass or gideon levy, both jewish, both israeli, both correspondants for haaretz, and both staunchly against israels policies in the territories. amira hass actually lives in gaza.

Or there is always this view:

"JEWISH SOCIALISTS SAY:

stop the bombing and the siege end the occupation and give peace a chance!"

http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/

I have tried to post this before - problems occurred.

I hope that this is not a repeat:

Here is another (UK Jewish) view

JEWISH SOCIALISTS SAY:

stop the bombing and the siege end the occupation and give peace a chance!

http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/

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