Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Letter to the Editor

Here is an excellent letter to the editor of the Washington Times I found describing the threat of Hezb-allah and why their attacks should be taken more seriously by the West.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the correct link, http://www.washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20060714-091307-5765r.htm

meg said...

I'm a little confused by the reasoning used in this article. The majority of people killed by Israel's attacks are civilians - not Hezbollah. (See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/
middle_east/5192036.stm)

We should thank Israel for aggressively attacking civilians?

Along with this, he seems to be saying:
1. We are democratic and reasonable people who engage in dialogue.
2. We disagree with these people who are not democratic and think that aggression/extremism are the best ways to achieve what they want.
3. Therefore, rather than abiding by our values and using our methods of democracy and dialogue, we should use their methods of aggression and hostility.

This seems to mimic the logic that people use to argue that the U.S. should be allowed to engage in torture:
1. We are a nation that respects human dignity and rights.
2. Others that we oppose in the world do not have the same ideas about dignity and rights that we do, and engage in violence and torture.
3. Therefore, we will be like them and ignore their human rights by engaging in practices of torture.

Maybe direct dialogue is not feasible, but then, shouldn't we be working on a more creative solution that embodies our values, not theirs?

It seems to be very common reasoning these days to say we should abide by 'our principles' when they serve us, but to forget them when they don't appear immediately useful in achieving a goal. The whole point is that they are principles, not mere means to and end...

Zev said...

Nice of you to stop by Meg, glad to have you.

As for your comment, I don't know that I completely agree with my friend's editorial. That being said, don't you feel that war is always bad? When would war be ok? I think this dialogue might cut deeper than any one particular military campaign.

Meg said...

Thanks, Zev.
Very true - I do agree that war is generally bad in any circumstance. Also that this cuts across more than one campaign. But even though I think war is inherently bad, it's obvious that some people - such as the author of this editorial - don't, and are willing to justify war for pretty sketchy reasons.

Oh, and sorry to just go off without introducing myself to everyone first. Hi folks; I'm Zev's friend Megan, and I felt a need to write something here since Zev, with a whopping two comments, is currently the most regular commentor on my own blog.

Thinking about it, I might venture to say that the only time that war might be permissible is if the act of war is itself, based on very clear evidence, less bad than what it is attempting to stop; hence the justification for war against genocidal dictators. I really mean very clear evidence; because this argument could be used to justify so-called preventive wars. (Meaning also that 'genocidal dictator' can't be defined as 'guy our country doesn't like.') Always erring on the side of saving life, and not starting processes that might destroy it. There seems to be a very flippant disregard for the lives that will be destroyed or harmed in justifications for war that say "the leaders of this country are bad guys - let's bomb cities where civilians live."

Yehuda said...

Meg, it is hard to object to such a noble quest of saving lives. My only question is: do the lives of one's own country count as well? The writer of the editorial, with whom I'll admit I have some connection, implied that ignoring Hizb-allah's attacks now would lead to more deaths on our side (America, not to mention Israel). If you are truly sincere in your quest, you ought to check whether Hizb-allah is able to kill more civilians than those killed in attacks on them.

You suggested "a more creative" solution than war. What could that be?

meg said...

I admit to feeling rather inadequate (not to mention foolish and presumptuous) in trying to respond to the challenge of a truly creative and viable solution to the problem of war in a blog comment.

I guess my first thoughts might be these:

I think, unfortunately, that most of the real alternatives to war are preventive measures that work over the long term, and thus generally aren't really seen as 'alternatives' to war because when the question of war comes up, it's when people are looking for immediate responses, long after smaller steps could have been taken but have been ignored. It requires much more forward-thinking than politicians generally seem to desire to engage in. I think it means also trying to diffuse negative/violent relations with one's neighbors rather than always allowing oneself to be provoked by small provocations. It means a commitment to peace as a general attitude and way of life, and not as a one-time decision in certain conflicts. But then, the movement into this attitude has to begin at a specific point, in which people say, with this conflict we are going to begin to reverse the hatred and violence we have hereto encouraged between one another...

That's all I've got after a day of intermittent thinking.

It was suggested to me (by my husband) that it might almost be unfortunate that the use of political assassination has never been accepted as a real alternative to war. It is killing, true; but then war is killing a mass number of people, not all of whom have done you any wrong, and certainly not all of whom deserve to die. If a state wants to make a violent show in response to an attack (depending on the scale; here, the original attack on Israeli soldiers was comparatively small), why shouldn't they run a quick operation in which they take out specific leaders responsible for the initial attack? Wouldn't this be preferable to bombing a nation at large, in which the people who are significantly hurt tend to be non-involved civilians? It seems this might be a better option if one truly thinks a group poses a significant threat to others. (Which I'm not sure I have reason at this point to feel any sort of threat from Hezbollah as an American living in Chicago, and not Beirut. As for Americans living in Lebanon, if I do not know them, I don't understand why I should prefer their peace and safety over the peace and safety of people generally in that area of the world. It seems as though all people there are currently more endangered by the general bombing on Lebanon than they were by the specific Hezbollah attack that initiated the rest of this conflict.)

I don't know if, or to what extent, I would defend this 'assassination instead of war' strategy. I just thought it was an interesting option to put out there, especially as it seems as though most people are disappointed generally by ideas of 'commitments to peace' in face of harm done by others.

Zev said...

Don't think Israel isn't trying to assasinate Nasralah. It's just not so easy.