Archive for July 18th, 2006

Killer Facts

I am about one-third through The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy by Adam Tooze. I may attempt to write a full review when I finish, but I just felt the need to register my approval at this early stage. This is an utterly engrossing and pretty damn scary piece of economic history, although because it’s been a few years since I tackled this sort of stuff, a brief refresher course in international economics might have come in handy before starting. No matter how many times I read about the balance of payments, the gold standard and currency devaluation, I keep having to rebuild the concept in my head from scratch so that I can figure out what exactly is going on. It says a lot about his book that I have been taking the time to read the same page 2 or 3 times in order to make sure I’m understanding things right.

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Intention, Complicity, Disproportion

Some bits and pieces of things that have caught my eye on Israel’s bombardment of Lebanon.
Ilan Pappe has a terrifying piece on the intentions of the IDF:
I know these generals as well as one could know them. In the last week, they have had a field day. No more random use of one-kilo bombs, battleships, choppers and heavy artillery. The weak and insignificant new minister of defense, Amir Perez, accepted without hesitation the army demand for crushing the Gaza strip and grinding Lebanon to dust. But it may not be enough. It can still deteriorate into a full scale war with the hapless army of Syria and my ex-students may even push by provocative actions towards such an eventuality. And, if you believe what you read in the local press here, it may even escalate into a long distance war with Iran, backed by a supreme American umbrella.
As’ad Abukhalil highlights the complicity of Arab regimes:
I think that there no doubt Arab countries are in cahoots in this particular conspiracy. There was a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo two days ago, and the minutes were leaked to the Arabic press, including to As-Safir, among others, and there was a clear intention. The Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Kuwaitis, as well as the Saudis, primarily the Saudis, are participating in this campaign in order to disarm and weaken Hezbollah. What they don’t know, however, is this is going to have reverberations that is going to affect their own stability.
Just yesterday, a group of Saudi dissidents, intellectuals from inside the country, may of whom are Shiite, released a strong denunciation of the policies of the Saudi government. Inside Egypt yesterday, a large group of the most well known Egyptian writers, intellectuals, leftists, released another statement denunciating the position of the Egyptian government, and there were demonstrations in Jordan about that. So, of course, they are part of the conspiracy that I speak of. The Arab governments are working side-by-side with the United States and with the Israelis. As far as the U.S. is concerned, and the United Nations, of course, we have too much respect for the audience to speak about these entities as if they are independent operators on the world stage.
Dennis Perrin addresses the question of disproportionality with a detailed counter-example:
Let’s say that not only was Lebanon bombing the holy fucking bejesus out of Israel, targeting its infrastructure, hitting civilian convoys fleeing the carnage, but that Lebanon had a history of doing this. Not only that, but that Lebanon occupied a chunk of northern Israel for 18 years, in violation of international law, UN resolutions, etc., and brutally repressed the Jewish population there, herding them into camps, torturing suspected “terrorists” and Zionist “militants,” and were assisted in this criminal venture by a Palestinian Muslim army who used this opening to further repress their religious enemies, engaging in random murder and overall humiliation of the domestic population. Then let’s say that after 18 years of this, the Lebanese army and its Palestinian clients were finally forced by the Israeli resistance to end their occupation and return to the other side of a still-disputed border area. Both sides remained tense and on-guard, with border skirmishes a common occurrence. Then, a few years later, Israeli militia members capture two Lebanese soldiers and kill several more in this disputed area, and take their prisoners back into Israel. The Lebanese Prime Minister calls this an act of war while some of his military officers openly talk about bombing Israel back to 1948, if not further. (“We’ll bomb them back to Herzl,” brags an unnamed Lebanese general.) The Israeli government has no control over the northern militia, which came into being as a response to the repressive Lebanese occupation. No matter — the superior Lebanese air force begins bombing Ashkelon, Tel Aviv and Israeli West Jerusalem, among other targets, killing mostly Jewish civilians, many of whom have no love for the ultra-Zionist militia that gave Lebanon the pretext to attack. The United States, which gives billions in annual aid, military included, to the Lebanese state, sits back and does nothing, save to denounce the Zionist militia for its terrorism and say that Lebanon has “a right to defend herself.” Meanwhile, the bombs keep falling all over Israel, while some Zionist militia rockets hit Lebanese targets, killing and wounding civilians as well, but not to the degree that Israel is enduring. And as of this writing, that’s where the situation stands.
Now, what would you think of those Lebanese apologists in the US who, while supporting the terror bombing of Israel, quipped that perhaps it was “disproportionate”?
Meanwhile, the Irish Independent and other Irish papers publish a picture of a distressed little blond-haired girl on their front pages.

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