Perspective

by Steve, July 30th, 2006

politics“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” —Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech: “The Chance for Peace,” delivered to the American society of Newspaper Editors, Washington, D.C., April 16, 1953.

Hardly a leftist, Eisenhower. How far we’ve regressed as a civilization that the words of a great warrior from a generation ago would today be seen as nearly treasonous.

Israel murdered 37 children last night as they destroyed the farming village of Qana, then reluctantly agreed to give the remaining civilians in the south of Lebanon 24 hours to get out. Trouble is, they’ve destroyed the main roads and bridges, and many that are left don’t have the means to move, or any means of support if they do move. Dropping leaflets does not excuse Israel from the laws of war. Both parties in this fight are clearly guilty of war crimes, with civilians of Lebanon bearing the brunt by at least a ten-to-one ratio. Read this and tell me Olmert and Nasrallah shouldn’t be brought up on charges:

Geneva Conventions, Protocol I, Chapter II, Civilians and civilian population

Art. 50. Definition of civilians and civilian population

1. A civilian is any person who does not belong to one of the categories of persons referred to in Article 4 (A) (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43 of this Protocol. In case of doubt whether a person is a civilian, that person shall be considered to be a civilian.

2. The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians.

3. The presence within the civilian population of individuals who do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.

Art. 51. – Protection of the civilian population

1. The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against dangers arising from military operations. To give effect to this protection, the following rules, which are additional to other applicable rules of international law, shall be observed in all circumstances.

2. The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.

3. Civilians shall enjoy the protection afforded by this section, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.

4. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. Indiscriminate attacks are: (a) those which are not directed at a specific military objective; (b) those which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or (c) those which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by this Protocol;

and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction.

5. Among others, the following types of attacks are to be considered as indiscriminate: (a) an attack by bombardment by any methods or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects;

and

(b) an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

6. Attacks against the civilian population or civilians by way of reprisals are prohibited.

7. The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular in attempts to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield, favour or impede military operations. The Parties to the conflict shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations.

8. Any violation of these prohibitions shall not release the Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians, including the obligation to take the precautionary measures provided for in Article 57.

…and the “War” Rages On

by Steve, July 28th, 2006

politicsWhile Condi Rice and George Bush fiddle, Lebanon burns. The U.N. now estimates 600 dead, the vast majority civilian, and a third children. Children! Where the hell is the outrage? The U.N.’s Jan Egeland visited the region and said, “It’s been horrific… There is something fundamentally wrong with the war, where there are more dead children than armed men.” This is not war, this is slaughter of innocents.
South Beirut

destroyed apartment buildings in South Beirut

Fleeing civilians continue to be targeted. This is not “collateral damage”. Mitch Prothero writes in Salon that “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.”

It is obvious that Israel is, in the best light imaginable, targeting civilian infrastructure. This is abhorent, as it inevitably leads to the death of civilians (especially the very young, very old and the sick). But it is difficult to refute that they have been specifically targeting civilians. These are war crimes. Hezbollah, too, is engaging in war crimes, but the carnage of children in Lebanon is simply overwhelming.

The U.S. could step in and stop this bloodshed, but we haven’t. We were operating on the assumption that Israel could simply take out Hezbollah, and then we could have a cease fire. Unfortunately, this plan backfired. Israel underestimated Hezbollah, and Hezbollah now has a stronger political position than when they started this whole mess. And the U.S. position is severely weakened. And children are being immolated by bombs paid for by you and me.

Egeland is right: There is something fundamentally wrong with this war. I am just sick over this.

Thursday Thirteen Ed. #51

by Steve, July 26th, 2006

meWow, looks like Thursday Thirteen is the only thing getting me to blog this week. I am thoroughly, utterly depressed about the continuing carnage in Lebanon. The mainstream media can’t seem to draw the distinction between direct armed conflict between Hezbollah and the I.D.F. and the morally indefensible bombardment of civilians and infrastructure. It’s all “fighting”, as in “fighting continued today across Lebanon”. Bombing apartment buildings in South Beirut is not fighting, it is arguably an ongoing war crime. Likewise for lobbing rockets at Haifa.

And the U.S. position on this? We want a speedy resolution, just not yet. The Israeli strategy (backed up by expedited arms shipments and diplomatic foot-dragging by the U.S.) is to turn the Lebanese against Hezbollah. From the Washington Post:

According to retired Israeli army Col. Gal Luft, the goal of the campaign is to “create a rift between the Lebanese population and Hezbollah supporters.” The message to Lebanon’s elite, he said, is this: “If you want your air conditioning to work and if you want to be able to fly to Paris for shopping, you must pull your head out of the sand and take action toward shutting down Hezbollah-land.”

Zbignew Brezinski put it like this: “I hate to say this but I will say it. I think what the Israelis are doing today for example in Lebanon is in effect, in effect — maybe not in intent — the killing of hostages.” Juan Cole, as usual, has perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the situation available on the Web.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. No! It’s time for another Thursday Thirteen, and, like last week, I’m doing a light-hearted one to contrast the deeply troubling times we are in the midst of. This week: Thirteen Things I’m Looking Forward To:

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday Thirteen Ed. #50

by Steve, July 19th, 2006

meTime again for the Thursday Thirteen. It’s been a tough week for those of us who don’t like war. I’m tempted to list thirteen reasons war sucks, like charred bodies of children scattered like dry leaves by the side of the road, killed while fleeing with their families. Like bombed out airports, roads, bridges, dairies, factories and power plants, part of a pattern of mass destruction of civilian infrastructure. Like missiles lobbed blindly towards civilian centers in hopes of killing innocents. But I’ve been writing about this shit all week.

So herewith are Thirteen Things That Give Me Hope:

Read the rest of this entry »

Frat boy redux

by Steve, July 18th, 2006

politicsOh Jeebus, Bush is such an embarassment. After displaying his stunningly shallow view of the situation in Lebanon yesterday, today he committed the major faux pax of laying his hands on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was clearly startled and shocked.bush gropes merkelNo, George, this is not okay. Blogger Majikthise has this take:

Every woman will recognize the guy who sidles up and starts “casually” giving you a backrub without even looking at you, because he wants to preserve deniability in case you freak out. Like any practiced groper, Bush stares right past Merkel as she recoils from his touch.

The play fails, but he just moves on, eyes averted, like it’s her problem. (“Oh my God, there’s a hysterical woman displaying inappropriate behavior! I’ll just pretend I don’t notice her egregious gaffe.”)

What a fucking ass-clown. What else could he possibly do to make the US look bad? What shame he has brought to our country.

So long, Kos

by Steve, July 17th, 2006

politicsI’ve never been a huge fan of Markos Moulitsas Z˙niga, but I’ve tried to like his mega meta blog. I’ve even posted a diary entry on his site. I’ve had Daily Kos linked from here since I started this blog, but today I’ve removed the link.

Today, under the title Why I won’t write about Israel/Lebanon/Palestine fighting”, Moulitsas writes:

It’s clear that in the Middle East, no one is sick of the fighting. They have centuries of grudges to resolve, and will continue fighting until they can get over them. And considering that they obviously have no interest in “getting over them”, we’re stuck with a war that will not end in any forseable future…. It doesn’t matter what the President of the United States says. Or the United Nations.

This is, of course, ahistorical bullshit. Of course it matters what the POTUS says. With Israel as the single largest recipient of US military aid, the president has enormous influence over the Israeli war machine. We don’t have to pay for this!

I’ll leave it as an exercise for the reader to read a little history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but suffice it to say, Moulitsas is taking the easy way out and showing his stripes as a main-stream Democratic Party operative, unwilling to take a stand on issues that really matter. “I just hope that war-fatigue sets in at some point,” writes Moulitsas, washing his hands of the whole matter. Tell that to the children dying by bomb, bullet, and lack of clean water. If you can’t take a stand against war, what can you stand for?

Read the rest of this entry »

Arrested development

by Steve, July 17th, 2006

politicsWatch as our President smacks his lips, talks with his mouth full and tells Tony Blair “What [the United Nations] need to do is to get Syria to stop Hezbollah from doing this shit.” Syria, which the U.S. pushed out of Lebanon, has little or no sway on the ground there now. Is our leader really this ignorant? It would seem so.

Israel’s attacks are destroying civilian infrastructure and human life at a sickening pace. Hezbollah is responding with its own barbaric escalation, led by the evidently criminally insane Hasan Nasrallah. Israel seems bent on pushing Lebanon back into civil war and Gaza back into the stone age. Your tax dollars at work, America! Hezbollah has nothing to lose, and in fact has gained popular support in Lebanon.

Please read Juan Cole’s blog. He has daily reports from the Arab press rarely reported in the west, as well as expert, well-reasoned analysis. Also, the Nation has a good summation of the folly of “the Israeli doctrine of absolute security and massive retaliation–the notion that any attack or threat of attack on Israel will be met with a disproportionate response”.

Lest we forget what the victims of war look like, read this story in the Guardian about children murdered by bomb while trying to flee the violence. The vast majority of the 150+ killed in Lebanon since Wednesday have been civilians. Lebanon is one of the few democracies in the Arab world (and a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic one at that). What happened to Bush’s policy encouraging democracy in the region?

This is a critical time in the middle east. What is happening now will ripple outward across the entire region, indeed the entire globe. And the one man who could actually do something about it sits around stuffing his face, flaunting his geo-political ignorance and duplicitiousness. Shame.

You’re either with us or against us

by Steve, July 14th, 2006

politicsReligious fundamentalists are consolidating power in this world, and it’s time to draw the line. Who benefits from the 9/11 attacks and the ensuing “long war”? These guys.
Osama bin Bush
Who suffers? Normal people. Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandmas and grandpas. Tiny little babies and toddlers are dying for these bastards’ holy war. Three thousand normal working people died in the US on 9/11. Upwards of 43,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the killing fields we’ve created in the ashes of Iraq. Lebanon and the re-occupied Gaza strip are under attack and in flames. What little control exists in Somalia has fallen into the hands of Taliban-like fundamentalists. The actual Taliban in Afghanistan are staging a strong comeback. Our own fundamentalist leader was twice barely elected only with overwhelming support of Christian fundamentalists.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday Thirteen Ed. #49

by Steve, July 12th, 2006

meSo I’m still not entirely clear on this “meme” thing. It’s a blogger thing, and I’m just not all that hip. Anyway, there’s this kind of meta-blog, ThursdayThirteen.com, that invites participants to compile lists each Thursday so that everybody can get to know each other a little better. I gather rule #1 about blogging is to make it all about “me, me, me.” Maybe that’s why it’s called a “meme.” Anyway, here is my first crack. All about me. I’m calling it Thirteen Things People Might Not Know About Me.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coach Bobby, R.I.P.

by Steve, July 5th, 2006

hockey entryThe Portland area hockey community lost a coach, father, and friend last Friday. Bobby Freeland died from a sudden liver virus, and left his wife and two young sons. Bobby was the hockey director at Valley Ice Arena and the head coach of the Eugene Generals Junior B hockey club. He used to come out to stick time now and again. He was just out skating with us old fart novices a couple weeks ago. He was (gulp) 43 years old. My he rest in peace, may his sons someday discover and understand how many lives he touched, and may his wife find solace.