Sunday, July 30, 2006
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Dozens killed in Lebanon air raid

More than 40 civilians, including 20 children, have been killed in a town in southern Lebanon in the deadliest Israeli strike of the conflict.

Displaced families had been sheltering in the basement of a house in Qana, which was crushed after a direct hit.


Israel said the Shia militant group was responsible for the Qana strike, by using the town to launch rockets.

On the one hand, one understands the need to strike back at a valid military target and the fact that Hezbollah is using civilian areas to stage their strikes puts a great deal of the responsibility of the deaths on the. However, on the other, the “he hit me first” defense doesn’t absolve he who punches back of all culpability. Indeed, as we learned as children and as football players who throw the second punch learn all the time, it is typically the counter-puncher who gets in more trouble that than he who threw the first punch. Juvenile examples aside, it is the case that those who respond to provocation cannot simply absolve themselves of all responsibility of their actions because another party “started it.”

More to the point: given that we do know that civilians are at serious risk in these counter-attacks, one has to wonder at what point it ceases to be worth it for Israel to strike back at a small Hezbollah cell with a rocket launcher, if the result can be the death of civilians.

The basic question is this: given that it is becoming quite apparent that Israel is not going to be able to significantly destroy Hezbollah’s military capability, then why not negotiate a ceasefire and get an international force in place? While I am dubious as to the ability of such a force to keep the peace, it is a better alternative than what is going on at the moment.

In short: given that the endgame at this point is some sort of international peacekeeping force, why keep fighting? What is to be accomplished at this point, given that the supposed goal (which has always been overly murky) of degrading Hezbollah appears not to be working.

Filed under: Uncategorized | Comments/Trackbacks (5)|
The views expressed in the comments are the sole responsibility of the person leaving those comments. They do not reflect the opinion of the author of PoliBlog, nor have they been vetted by the author.

5 Responses to “Wondering About the Israeli Calculus”

  1. Joe Mucia Says:

    In a similar vein, I think citing deserves attention. According to the Foreign Ministry, in the last 6 years since the pullout from Lebanon and before Israel launched its offensive after the capture of the two soldiers, Hezbollah had killed 13 soldiers and 7 civilians, and wounded 27 soldiers and 7 civilians, for a grand total of 54 casualties, most of whom where “legitmate” military targets.

  2. Joe Mucia Says:

    I suck at HTML. I’ll try the links again:

    Matt Yglesias

    Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

  3. Matthew Shugart Says:

    Yglesias does not claim that most of those 54 Israeli casualties were “legitimate” military targets. And how could they be? We are talking about the period after Israel withdrew from Lebanon.

    Yglesias’s basic point, however, is that the threat from Hezbollah was not an existential one. Correct.

    Now to the main post: Negotiate a cease-fire how? If you are right, Steven, that Israel has not significantly destroyed Hezbollah’s military capacity, then what does the latter stand to gain from a cease-fire? Fewer of its own civilians killed? Sure, but as you’ve noted elsewhere (and correctly), this is not exactly one of their main concerns.

  4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:


    From Hezbollah’s point of view, I don’t see what they have to gain in continuing to engage in a conventional confrontation with Israel.

    Why not husband their resources and take advantage of the recruitment possibility that Israel has given them, not to mention to exploit the further erosion of the Lebanese state that Israel has created?

    Of course, those may be reasons for Israel not to want to negotiate.

    One of Israel’s biggest liabilities in this fight, and the reason I have questioned this particular approach this time, is that they have to score a massive blow against Hezbollah to achieve “victory” while all Hezbollah has to do is live to fight another day.

  5. MSS Says:

    I think that taking out the longer range missiles and command structures of Hezbollah would be quite useful for the Israeli and US governments prior to whatever might be coming with regard to Iran.

    Whether they can be successful at even that is another question. But it looks like “preemption” (an incorrect use of the term, but the now-standard one), to me.

blog advertising is good for you

Visitors Since 2/15/03

Wikio - Top of the Blogs - Politics



Powered by WordPress