Walid's Wanderings

Reflections on life, good-and-evil, family, humanity, and anything else that occurs to me, usually when I travel. Right now I am on a 6-year trip through Lebanon, the homeland I had never really lived in before.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's just disgusting

What I've been reading in the news is pretty horrible. People saying that Israel can't be targetting civilians becasue Beirut does not yet look as bad as Grozny. Or that this would be a perfect site for a neutron bomb. Whether it's ignorance or malice, I have to say what I know.

Back in the Lebanese civil war, we had snipers. A sniper shoots everyone who is trying to cross a certain street. Poignant short stories have been written about a sniper killing his dad (sad) or his pregnant girlfriend (cheaper than an abortion). Anyway, the "military" objective is to stop people from crossing the street. Keep the people who crack their eggs fromthe bottom on one side of the street and the people who crack their eggs on the top on the other side of the street. Moral of the story: "targeting civilians" is not the same as "levelling a city".

Of course Israel is also "levelling the city" but it is doing so block by block with precision laser-guided bombs. This is what is called a "terror tactic". Just like the word "imperialism" can be read to mean "trying and failing to be an empire" and "impressionism" can be read to mean "a half-assed attempt to put an artist's subjective impression on a piece of canvas", I would say that "terrorism" is a half assed attempt to create terror in a population in order to achive a political aim, which is never actually achived. Terror tactics is what Israel is using given their total failure to actually target Hezballah directly. Any idiot can see that the first fews strikes against Lebanon's ports and highways galvanized the Lebanese to finally belive Hezballah's unchanging rhetoric about the need to band together behind "the resistance" out of need for a daterrent. I suspect that the Israeli hope right now is that, by gradually and unremittingly increasing the level of pain among the population, this solidarity will be worn down. It is a classic technique used by torturers everywhere (no direct experience here, I just read well-researched fiction). Start with low levels of pain, then let the victims imagination create the incentive to break down as the level of pain is increased gradually and threats of even higher levels of pain continue to be made. This way, an individual whose breaking point might be, say, 300 volts, might break down at 240 volts becasue, when they were promised 240 volts back at 120 volts, the torturer actually delivered, and now the torturer is proising 360 volts. Handy if you only have 240 volts.

To be fair, both sides are using the same technique. Israel masks the moral repugnence by alleging that all strikes have a suspected military significance, but the never produce any evidence. The press in America leaves out the words "alleged" or "suspected", and no one cares. Hezballah, in its moral defence, announcs that only increases its level of pain after Israel escalates, and contineues to promise to stop if Israel stops. Again, until recently, these promises have gone unreported in the US media.

Events

The above diatribe is inspired by recent events, which, for those of you who like me had stopped following, went something like this:
  • Land warfare and shelling continue during the 48-hour bombing hiatus, and Israel takes more trritory in the south of Lebanon, exposing more soldiers to guerilla attack.
  • Israel resumes with aerial bombradment and a paratrooper atteck on a hospital where someone with the same last name as a Hezballah leader was suspected to be. Hospital completely razed at the end of the day.
  • Hezballah resumes with two days of deadlier missiles.
  • Israel increases the zone of civilian residential neighorhoods targeted, inshing closer to central Beirut and hitting highways in the middle of the civil-war-era "Chritian enclave" for the first time. A new power station is also put out of commisssion.
  • Hezballah threatens to rocket Tel Aviv if Israel contines its gradual expansion of the free-fire zone ot include Beirut proper. Press initially misinterprets this as a threat to hit Tel Aviv in reponse to continuation of current tactics (i.e. tageting the slums south of Beirut) but a correction seems to have been made already.
  • For the first time, I see that mainstream US media have finally started repeating the message that Hezballah can and will stop missile attacks if Israels military attacks are confined to the land war.
  • Lots of smoke blown out by various Israeli politicans and generals.

Am I still optimistic?

Well, the bozos in the UN are still talking international forces. There is no telling how long before some non-shiite Lebanese madman starts killing refugees from the South because they are related to someone who indirectly brough upon the death of his daughter from lack of medical supplies under the embargo.

On the good side, more copy editors seem to be listening to Hezballah's message of peace, so maybe a UN diplomat or two will get the message. Or if need be Israeli and AMerican voters. And, for every billion dollars of infrastructure destroyed in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia makes two on oil price increases. Guess where that money will be invested when this stops?

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