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[Update update: Too many trolls; comments on this post are closed.]
On the way to the computer to blog about one wanker I found another one.
This is from Victor Davis Hanson’s latest opus —
“Civilians” in Lebanon have munitions in their basements and deliberately wish to draw fire; in Israel they are in bunkers to avoid it. Israel uses precision weapons to avoid hitting them; Hezbollah sends random missiles into Israel to ensure they are struck.
I had to read that paragraph several times. Just what is Hanson saying here? He seems to be claiming that Lebanese civilians commonly volunteer to be suicide victims of Israeli attacks. I see that Hanson puts the word civilians in quotation marks, connoting irony — those so-called civilians are not really (wink, nudge) civilians. Is he claiming that the claims of civilian deaths are exaggerated? Is he saying that it’s OK to kill Lebanese civilians because they are asking for it?
I’m not sure where he gets the “munitions in the basement” story. There have been a number of reports that Hezbollah fighters uses civilian shields, mixing in with civilians to discourage attacks. There have been a number of reports that Hezbollah stores munitions in mosques, homes, and other “civilian” buildings to hide them. In one case Hezbollah took over an apartment building against the wishes of the landlord. But Hanson seems to have patched these reports together and concluded that most Lebanese civilians are sitting on stockpiles of Katyusha rockets in their living rooms. And they have painted “Hey Israeli — Bomb This!” on their roofs. I did some googling, and it appears Hanson came up with this notion by himself. And as for Israel trying to avoid civilian targets — every news story coming out of Lebanon says otherwise.
Hanson appears to be wallowing in elective ignorance; he doesn’t want to believe Israel could be doing something bad, so he filters and rearranges facts accordingly.
BTW — Mitch Prothero writes in Salon — that the claim Hezbollah hides among civilians is a myth —
Throughout this now 16-day-old war, Israeli planes high above civilian areas make decisions on what to bomb. They send huge bombs capable of killing things for hundreds of meters around their targets, and then blame the inevitable civilian deaths — the Lebanese government says 600 civilians have been killed so far — on “terrorists” who callously use the civilian infrastructure for protection.
But this claim is almost always false. My own reporting and that of other journalists reveals that in fact Hezbollah fighters — as opposed to the much more numerous Hezbollah political members, and the vastly more numerous Hezbollah sympathizers — avoid civilians. Much smarter and better trained than the PLO and Hamas fighters, they know that if they mingle with civilians, they will sooner or later be betrayed by collaborators — as so many Palestinian militants have been.
For their part, the Israelis seem to think that if they keep pounding civilians, they’ll get some fighters, too. The almost nightly airstrikes on the southern suburbs of Beirut could be seen as making some sense, as the Israelis appear convinced there are command and control bunkers underneath the continually smoldering rubble. There were some civilian casualties the first few nights in places like Haret Hreik, but people quickly left the area to the Hezbollah fighters with their radios and motorbikes.
But other attacks seem gratuitous, fishing expeditions, or simply intended to punish anything and anyone even vaguely connected to Hezbollah. Lighthouses, grain elevators, milk factories, bridges in the north used by refugees, apartment buildings partially occupied by members of Hezbollah’s political wing — all have been reduced to rubble. …
… Although Israel targets apartments and offices because they are considered “Hezbollah” installations, the group has a clear policy of keeping its fighters away from civilians as much as possible. This is not for humanitarian reasons — they did, after all, take over an apartment building against the protests of the landlord, knowing full well it would be bombed — but for military ones.
“You can be a member of Hezbollah your entire life and never see a military wing fighter with a weapon,” a Lebanese military intelligence official, now retired, once told me. “They do not come out with their masks off and never operate around people if they can avoid it. They’re completely afraid of collaborators. They know this is what breaks the Palestinians — no discipline and too much showing off.”
Prothero writes that among Lebanese Shiites — about 40 percent of the population of Lebanon — many people are Hezbollah Party members and employees of Hezbollah, but most of these people are noncombatants.
Israel, however, has chosen to treat the political members of Hezbollah as if they were fighters. And by targeting the civilian wing of the group, which supplies much of the humanitarian aid and social protection for the poorest people in the south, they are targeting civilians.
And, of course, Israel is not limiting its military aggression to those parts of Lebanon where Hezbollah is concentrated, meaning it is punishing Hezbollah supporters and non-supporters alike. Not to mention children, who make up a third of the civilians killed so far. Victor Davis Hanson probably believes the children were wearing targets on their backs. Or their diapers.
But … shifting gears here … Hanson is not the wanker I was going to write about originally. If you want to meet someone with no clue whatsoever — I give you Nick Gillespie, who reviews John Dean’s new book Conservatives Without Conscience in this weekend’s New York Times.
With Ahab-like monomania, Dean discovers that every objectionable conservative Republican action — from “taking America to war in Iraq on false pretenses” to Dick Cheney’s obscene outburst at Senator Patrick Leahy to harsh right-wing criticism of the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court — reflects triumphant authoritarianism. For those of us with little or nothing good to say about the Bush administration, the Republican Party or conservatives in general, Dean’s book is ideological comfort food, providing not only tasty anecdotes about abuse of power but a rationale for dismissing political opponents out of hand. …
Here’s the punch line:
What Dean sees as dark new developments read far more like politics — and politicians — as usual.
Anyone who thinks we’re living with “politics as usual” these days is either brain dead or suffering from five-alarm elective ignorance. Maybe both.
I haven’t read Dean’s book, but Gillespie’s review suggests that Dean is basing his ideas on authoritarianism on the writings of just one guy, when in fact (according to what Dean has said on television) it is based on 50 years of research by a number of social psychologists. But Gillespie wrote this review in self-defense mode, and what’s a little intellectual dishonesty when one’s precious little worldview is threatened?
Politics as usual? Puh-LEEEZE …