August 2, 2006
Since when do the world's powers use "proportionate" force to win wars?
Dear Friend of FLAME:
While in Israel recently, my wife and I visited Yad VaShem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. Now in a new building, this stunning “tour” of the murder of six million Jewish souls, the destruction of Jewish culture in Europe, and the social and material disenfranchisement of millions of Jewish survivors left us in tears. As we exited Yad VaShem after this five-hour experience, two overwhelming thoughts dominated our conversation. First, we understand (again) profoundly why Israel exists and why it must always exist---because no one else can be counted on to protect the Jewish people. Second, we were astounded at the Nazis’ brutal inhumanity to the Jews---how could any group of people wreak such abjectly heartless cruelty on any other people? What kind of pathology is that?
Upon returning to the States, I received an answer of sorts to this question---it’s a series of recent photos of Islamic demonstrators in London. (You won’t see these images on CNN, but you can view them yourself here. Their placards read “Butcher those who mock Islam,” “Islam will dominate the world,” “Europe you will pay---your 9/11 is on the way,” “Be prepared for the real Holocaust,” and other barbarous threats. Anyone who doubts that we are at war with radical Islam---or that this enemy wants anything other than a fascistic world order and murderous brutality visited on “infidels,” especially Jews---lives in a fantasy.
As today’s article by renowned columnist Charles Krauthammer asserts, instead of trying to hobble Israel in its effort to defeat Hizbollah, the world should be thanking the Jewish state. Israel is doing what it needs to do to protect itself (and the rest of us), and it’s doing what few other countries have the foresight or guts to do. But, as Krauthammer points out, Israel is, as usual, held to a double standard---being asked to restrain itself in a battle with an enemy raining missiles on its citizens and bent on its total destruction. This article is very powerful---I hope you’ll forward it to your friends and colleagues.
Let Israel Win the War
What other country, when attacked in an unprovoked aggression across a recognized international frontier, is then put on a countdown clock by the world, given a limited time window in which to fight back, regardless of whether it has restored its own security?
What other country sustains 1,500 indiscriminate rocket attacks into its cities -- every one designed to kill, maim and terrorize civilians -- and is then vilified by the world when it tries to destroy the enemy's infrastructure and strongholds with precision-guided munitions that sometimes have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of collateral civilian death and suffering?
Hearing the world pass judgment on the Israel-Hezbollah war as it unfolds is to live in an Orwellian moral universe. With a few significant exceptions (the leadership of the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada and a very few others), the world -- governments, the media, U.N. bureaucrats -- has completely lost its moral bearings.
The word that obviates all thinking and magically inverts victim into aggressor is "disproportionate," as in the universally decried "disproportionate Israeli response."
When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, it did not respond with a parallel "proportionate" attack on a Japanese naval base. It launched a four-year campaign that killed millions of Japanese, reduced Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki to a cinder, and turned the Japanese home islands to rubble and ruin. Disproportionate? No. When one is wantonly attacked by an aggressor, one has every right -- legal and moral -- to carry the fight until the aggressor is disarmed and so disabled that it cannot threaten one's security again. That's what it took with Japan.
Britain was never invaded by Germany in World War II. Did it respond to the blitz and V-1 and V-2 rockets with "proportionate" aerial bombardment of Germany? Of course not. Churchill orchestrated the greatest land invasion in history that flattened and utterly destroyed Germany, killing untold innocent German women and children in the process.
The perversity of today's international outcry lies in the fact that there is indeed a disproportion in this war, a radical moral asymmetry between Hezbollah and Israel: Hezbollah is deliberately trying to create civilian casualties on both sides while Israel is deliberately trying to minimize civilian casualties, also on both sides.
In perhaps the most blatant terror campaign from the air since the London blitz, Hezbollah is raining rockets on Israeli cities and villages. These rockets are packed with ball bearings that can penetrate automobiles and shred human flesh. They are meant to kill and maim. And they do.
But it is a dual campaign. Israeli innocents must die in order for Israel to be terrorized. But Lebanese innocents must also die in order for Israel to be demonized, which is why Hezbollah hides its fighters, its rockets, its launchers, its entire infrastructure among civilians. Creating human shields is a war crime. It is also a Hezbollah specialty.
On Wednesday, CNN cameras showed destruction in Tyre. What does Israel have against Tyre and its inhabitants? Nothing. But the long-range Hezbollah rockets that have been raining terror on Haifa are based in Tyre. What is Israel to do? Leave untouched the launch sites that are deliberately placed in built-up areas?
Had Israel wanted to destroy Lebanese civilian infrastructure, it would have turned out the lights in Beirut in the first hour of the war, destroying the billion-dollar power grid and setting back Lebanon 20 years. It did not do that. Instead, it attacked dual-use infrastructure -- bridges, roads, airport runways -- and blockaded Lebanon's ports to prevent the reinforcement and resupply of Hezbollah. Ten-thousand Katyusha rockets are enough. Israel was not going to allow Hezbollah 10,000 more.
Israel's response to Hezbollah has been to use the most precise weaponry and targeting it can. It has no interest, no desire to kill Lebanese civilians. Does anyone imagine that it could not have leveled south Lebanon, to say nothing of Beirut? Instead, in the bitter fight against Hezbollah in south Lebanon, it has repeatedly dropped leaflets, issued warnings, sent messages by radio and even phone text to Lebanese villagers to evacuate so that they would not be harmed.
Israel knows that these leaflets and warnings give the Hezbollah fighters time to escape and regroup. The advance notification as to where the next attack is coming has allowed Hezbollah to set up elaborate ambushes. The result? Unexpectedly high Israeli infantry casualties. Moral scrupulousness paid in blood. Israeli soldiers die so that Lebanese civilians will not, and who does the international community condemn for disregarding civilian life?