July 22, 2006

Sometimes CBC and the NY Times get a hole in one

July 22 - Coming as the first item does from CBC, I suppose it is supposed to imply disapproval but I'm solidly on the side of the Israeli ambassador: Israeli ambassador says Louise Arbour doesn't get it:

Israel's ambassador to Canada has dismissed a warning from Canadian jurist Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, that war crimes charges may be warranted against Israel and Hezbollah if measures aren't taken to protect civilians.


Arbour issued a statement on Wednesday saying that indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians and that bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable.

She has the support of her boss, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who has condemned both parties for killing civilians at an alarming rate.

The Israeli ambassador isn't apologizing for his country's strategy. He says Arbour fails to grasp the nature of the conflict.

"The Hezbollah are using schools and clinics and the back gardens of houses to put their missile placements there, and they are turning these civilian establishments and civilian areas into legitimate targets." (Emphasis added.)

The lower Israeli casualty figures can be attributed to the air raid sirens and bomb shelters left over from the 1967 war. I heard on the news that the bunkers sheltering Hezbollah leaders were provided by Iran, and I wish I was surprised that they didn't bother to provide similar protection for those civilians who are in danger in Lebanon but, although we have failed to teach Western values, we have managed to teach Western spin and PR and those marketing strategies are being used to the max in this and every engagement with the enemy. We regret civilian casualties and they glorify them. Which side is truly the more moral?

The only good thing about the movie Black Hawk Down was the number of documentaries it spawned. I remember one in which a Marine recounted his experience of being pinned down by an oh-so-brave insurgent firing from behind a woman and she was laughing at the Marine. He finally steeled himself, shot at the woman and then took down the sniper.

I'll never forgive these bastards for making decent men do things their upbringing and training has taught them they should never do. There are times when George Bush's injunction that "you're either with us or against us" springs out fully-grown as did Athena from Zeus's head with the horrible recognition that we must do the unthinkable for our own -- and our children's -- survival.

I steel myself and remember that it is our understanding of right and wrong that marks us as the morally superior element in this struggle but I regret the loss of innocence that accompanies asking our men and women to pursue this war and all that doing so against an unprincipled enemy brings with it.

One thing that is not unprincipled: the NY Times reports that the U.S. speeds Up Bomb Delivery for the Israelis

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.
The article then discusses Sec. of State Rice's leisurely finalization of her itinerary to the Mid-east and then (this is the NY Times, after all) discloses that the information about the weaspons delivery to Israel was made even though "[T]he new American arms shipment to Israel has not been announced publicly, and the officials who described the administration’s decision to rush the munitions to Israel would discuss it only after being promised anonymity." Right. Because the NY Times wouldn't print anything that wasn't potentially harmful to national security.

But there is a hint that the item may cause the bad guys some real concern:

Pentagon and military officials declined to describe in detail the size and contents of the shipment to Israel, and they would not say whether the munitions were being shipped by cargo aircraft or some other means. But an arms-sale package approved last year provides authority for Israel to purchase from the United States as many as 100 GBU-28’s, which are 5,000-pound laser-guided bombs intended to destroy concrete bunkers. The package also provides for selling satellite-guided munitions.

An announcement in 2005 that Israel was eligible to buy the “bunker buster” weapons described the GBU-28 as “a special weapon that was developed for penetrating hardened command centers located deep underground.” The document added, “The Israeli Air Force will use these GBU-28’s on their F-15 aircraft.” (Emphasis added)

One bunker buster is worth a million words, even if it isn't as immediately gratifying as the U.S. doing a B-2 flyover of Damascus. I'll take what we can get, especially as both President Bush and Canadian PM Harper held out at the recent G-8 and remained solidly behind Israel's right to defend herself despite peer pressure (not to imply that Chirac or Putin can be considered to be peers of Bush, Harper or Blair. They aren't.)

One last thing: did anyone else find it hysterically funny that U.N. Secretary-General Annan's call to Syria weren't returned ?

I know, I'm evil. In case you forgot (or thought I'd gone soft.)

Posted by Debbye at 06:47 AM | Comments (114) | TrackBack

Stuff that never happens to me (until it does)

July 22 - When my surprise twins were born my first words were "that kind of thing never happens to me!" It was true; my life had always been fairly mundane (until the unexpected twins, that is) and, once we adjusted to the challenge of having two infants to feed, change, raise and educate, life quickly returned to unremarkable. I've done all the usual things that can be filed under "coming of age" but I never won big in Vegas or even came up with something that could get me into the Guinness World Book of Records.

But life likes curve balls. I actually saw the ghost we always joke about last Tuesday night and, as time passes, my freaked-out meter readings are rising rather than lowering. For the first time in my life, I wish I were far more a flaky person than a stolid Capricorn because then I could shrug off the sighting to an over-active imagination for the requisite "rational explanation."

It was a definite sighting, but there was no heeby-jeeby stuff. He didn't enter my line-of-sight, he just appeared and then disappeared in my line-of-sight and there wasn't even any eerie shimmering or fading-in and fading-out stuff.

In the ghost's defense, I felt no malice or hostility from him. He just appeared for a few seconds walking toward the receiving dock, and his gait and body language was so matter-of-fact that I'm pretty certain that his presence at my place of work is due to happy memories rather than unresolved issues. I find that reassuring.

I know, this is a weirder post than my usual. I just needed to write it down. I already made the mistake of telling Mark about it. I guess Scorpios have even less flights of fancy than Capricorns.

Posted by Debbye at 06:46 AM | Comments (321) | TrackBack

July 16, 2006

Things that go without saying

(israeli flag small.jpg

July 16 - Sorry for the silence; it's been far more interesting to watch and read the news these days than to comment on it. Nevertheless, some things must be said.

Israel has the right to defend herself. Israel has an obligation to defend herself, her people, and her soldiers. Period.

The appropriateness of the term "axis of evil" has become increasing apparent these past weeks as has the uselessness of the U.N.

It is a better scenario in that region without Saddam than it might be with him. Remember that interrupted shipment of Scud missles from North Korea to Iraq? And the ease with which his weapons programs could be re-started?

It shouldn't need to be said that those calling for "calm" in the Mid-east are ignoring the fundamental fact that the destruction of Hezbollah would achieve calm far more effectively than standing down and allowing them to rebuild their arsenals and bases of operation in readiness for the next assault.

It shouldn't need to be said that the destruction of Hezbollah would at long last achieve justice for the 241 U.S. servicemen who died in 1983 when the Marine Barracks in Beirut was bombed. Those who think that was a long time ago and we should forget about it may not have noticed the roar accompanying the 2003 capture of the Abu Abbas who planned the assault on the Achille Lauro and the murder of one man - Leon Klinghoffer - because we.don't.forget.

It shouldn't need to be said that countries that harbour terrorists are legitimate targets. It shouldn't need to be said that those who live near rocket launchers or Hezbollah offices should move. It shouldn't need to be said that the callous manner in which Hezbollah and other terror organizations have placed those civilians in danger is the issue, and however regrettable it may be that they are being used as human shields their presence cannot serve to protect Hezbollah from justice.

There is a huge difference between peace and proxy wars. It's long been recognized that the material support by Syria and Iran for the insurgency in Iraq has been a proxy war, and now those countries have been forced out of the shadows by their stamp on the weapons that have been used on Israel.

It is tempting to apply the philosophies and stratgies from the Cold War to today's events, but that overlooks a fundamental difference: Israel's enemies (and ours) brazenly proclaim their intention to commit genocide. No stalemate much less detente is possible under such circumstances.

Those that fear that the U.S. military is somewhat handicapped by the presence of large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq might also reflect as to the extent to which those troops act as an effective deterrent to Syria and Iran. Syria may threaten and Iran may bluster but the steadfast support of U.S. officials for Israel's right to defend herself forces those countries to limit a more active involvement in Lebanon. Two words: air power. It is unlikely that we will see troop movements in Syria or Iran to escalate this war.

Lastly, it shouldn't need to be said that Israel is fighting a war which we must not only support but acknowledge to be in our interests as well as in the interests of all who truly seek a peaceful solution in the Mid-east. I only wish we were doing more to support them (even though I understand why our support is limited to words) but I pray that, should events force our hand, we stand up and do the right thing by our best ally in that region.

Posted by Debbye at 09:39 AM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

July 06, 2006

Our Odessey

July 6 - Yes, I confess: I enjoyed the Canada Day/Indpendence Day weekend entirely too much and perhaps a bit too much past nominal tolerance levels and why not? I live astraddle two countries that celebrate freedom and respect for the individual and which, in defiance of the laughter in the great courts of Europe 230 years ago, are proof of the inherent stabilty of republican governments which respect personal freedoms.

History loves paradoxes, and our age contains a real beauty of a contradiction: we are assailed by a foe that would destroy our individual freedoms yet it is our reverence of and love for these freedoms that most binds our hands in our pursuit and destruction of this enemy.

Time to go back to the beginning, or perhaps more honestly, pick up the story in media res and re-examine the steps by which we began Putting the Pieces Together. It's a great read and cuts across the diversions to bring us back to our founding premises in this struggle.

Yes, there are suggestions of scandals within out armed forces. There are threats from Iran and N. Korea. There are many things that serve to distract us from the primary thrust of this struggle -- things that would weaken our resolve and committment to fight and defend our freedoms because we are a decent people who believe in God's mercy even though many doubt the existence of God.

But going back to those events that precipitated this war on terror, connecting the dots again, and acknowledging anew the implacable face of the enemy is to armour ourselves against dismay and lost idealism when we prove to be all too human -- yet also remind us we are still better than our foe.

If you don't believe me, research and email me about the inquiries into the barbarous attacks on civlians in Iraq and Afghanistan by the insurgents, Taliban and al Qaeda. We know we are human and can sin, but the enemy does not make such admissions.

And that the key difference. Being human is to be prone to error, and those who deny their human state and its necessary component to be capable of error in effect declare that they themselves are gods. I don't care how often they proclaim that there is only one God and his prophet is Mohammed, the proof lies in their deeds and how they persecute those they call infidel, apostate, Shia, or uppity female.

There is much clarity to be found in retracing the steps that brought us here. May it strengthen your hearts and hands.

[On Israel and the Hamas "government" there is little to say except "why can't we do stuff like that?" Sigh. I don't mind praising the audacity of the Israelis or, for that matter, the Australians, but I wish we could learn faster from them. Please.]

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